Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

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kgaard.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Wed Apr 01, 2020 3:15 am

A film with a woman's name in its title (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): Coraline

Coraline is an engagingly creepy Roald Dahl-esque story of a girl who has moved to a new city and is weary of her dull and always busy parents. Though it's actually somewhat the inverse of Dahl--whereas Dahl's work tended to display fantasy flights from dark reality, in Coraline it is the flight into fantasy that turns dark. The detail on the animation is quite incredible, and if the story occasionally stalls it just allows more time to marvel at the exquisitely fine work that has gone into showing it.

A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #3/A film from the 1920s/A film directed by a woman (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Directed by Lotte Reininger and based on the classic One Thousand and One Nights tales, this 1926 German film is evidently the oldest surviving animated feature film. It is also entirely delightful. Characters are portrayed entirely in silhouette against variously colored backgrounds, and yet convey impressive characterization and depth of emotion. A shrug is delivered with impeccable comic timing. Highly recommended.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 3:35 am

kgaard. wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 3:15 am
A film with a woman's name in its title (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): Coraline

Coraline is an engagingly creepy Roald Dahl-esque story of a girl who has moved to a new city and is weary of her dull and always busy parents. Though it's actually somewhat the inverse of Dahl--whereas Dahl's work tended to display fantasy flights from dark reality, in Coraline it is the flight into fantasy that turns dark. The detail on the animation is quite incredible, and if the story occasionally stalls it just allows more time to marvel at the exquisitely fine work that has gone into showing it.
Coraline is great. And I'd highly recommend the book, which is a few hairs creepier than the film.
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #3/A film from the 1920s/A film directed by a woman (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Directed by Lotte Reininger and based on the classic One Thousand and One Nights tales, this 1926 German film is evidently the oldest surviving animated feature film. It is also entirely delightful. Characters are portrayed entirely in silhouette against variously colored backgrounds, and yet convey impressive characterization and depth of emotion. A shrug is delivered with impeccable comic timing. Highly recommended.
Another great one. The paperwork is fantastic.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:55 pm

Well, I made it to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)

(See a film in the 1920s)

And it was solid fun. John Barrymore did great as the meek, mild-mannered Jekyll who being tempted by rich hosses at a party decides to create a formula to allow himself to turn into the more lecherous Mr. Hyde. But after a while, even he can't control what his doppleganger does next. I feel like it skirted some issues such as why nobody else feels guilt for what has happened to Jekyll. And one scene involving the new landlady struck me as being off. But for a feature film made in 1920, I gotta admit this holds up well. B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:27 am

Ok, I'm finishing Reds tonight (cut me some slack. It's 3 hours and I saw half last night), but after that, I'm posting the new categories for April.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:07 pm

A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: Frozen II

I don't really have anything too interesting to say about this one. It's perfectly fine, though for me not quite as fun as the first one. Foregrounding the sisters' relationship is the right call, but there wasn't as much ground to cover this time around, and I was somewhat unimpressed at the end
when Arendelle is suddenly and fortuitously rescued from destruction.
Decent times, though, especially for our first weekend of lockdown, and the movie's motto, "Do the next right thing", resonates strongly in these times.

A film where the phone is crucial to the plot (Alexander Graham Bell Day, March 7): Sorry, Wrong Number and Sweet Smell of Success

In retrospect, I would have just skipped over Sorry, Wrong Number--while it's a bit fun to watch Barbara Stanwyck play to the back seats, the story suffers from being overstretched from its one-woman radio show origins. If it leaned more into the ridiculousness it might have worked better but as it is it's neither fish nor fowl. Sweet Smell, on the other hand, while dark and cynical, is a rich portrayal of an underground New York City where secrets, fame, and power are worth more than human lives and happiness. For all the darkness, though, there is a note of promise and hope.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Apr 02, 2020 9:19 pm

See a film with the title Spring

After Winter, Spring (2015)

Documentary about a woman from Pennsylvania who moves to a small French community and follows some farmers as they go through a year. The insights here are pretty similar to any other farming documentary out there (Big farms squashing the small, it's not really a game for the young'uns, etc.) But it does offer some hope at the end that maybe things can change around...and the people who get followed are kinda interesting. B-

Probably catching the rest of Ruby tonight and then worry about April's entries (although I think one of them will be The Great Dictator).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:53 am

One more for the road:

See a film with a female name in the title
See a film with a deaf character (depends on who you ask?)

Ruby (1977)
18 years ago in 1935, Ruby (Piper Laurie) and Nicky are enjoying some wine in the nearby swamp when a gang of their associates shows up to gun him down for reasons to be explained later. She falls to the ground. Now in 1953, as the owner of a drive in, Ruby spends her time drinking and reminiscing about her prime days as a nightclub singer and actress. She's currently living with her mute (and possibly deaf?) daughter Leslie and Vince (Stuart Whitman). The gangsters work as employees at the drive in which is convenient when they start getting offed in interesting ways. What is going on here and is there anything they can do to prevent it?

This tale is pretty watchable with a good performance as Laurie as her take on Norma Desmond proves to be touching. Otherwise the acting is hit or miss and although they don't skimp on the blood here, some things that do happen feel like a bit of a reach. Any comparisons to Carrie are also a reach outside of Laurie being the mother of a strange teenager. But I'll take a watchable horror right now. B-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Fri Apr 03, 2020 1:09 am

I just watched Ruby a few weeks ago and for a movie I"d never heard of I really liked it. It's dumb, and is chock full of equally dumb ideas. But at least it is full of something good.

A drive in run by a bunch of retired mafiosa? Sign me the fuck up.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Apr 03, 2020 4:09 am

Once again, sprinted to the finish line. Here are some quickie reviews on my last films of March...

A film where the phone is crucial to the plot: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
This was certainly a weird, unique film. It follows Cash (Lakeith Stanfield), a struggling, black telemarketer that learns to use his "white voice" to rise to the top at his job, but to the expense of his friends and girlfriend. Surreal to the max, the film is always interesting in terms of what it puts in front of you, and how it puts it. Is it a bit heavy-handed? Yeah, and not just a bit. Does things get a bit crazy in the end? Maybe, but I think it succeeds in taking across his points on capitalism and how corporate America operates. The cast is pretty good, but I thought Stanfield was a standout. Grade: B+

A film from the 1920s: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Most people know the story. The titular character (Lon Chaney) haunts the Paris Opera House. When he falls for actress/singer Christine (Mary Philbin), he wreaks havoc in his efforts to make her a star. Overall, a well done film, although a bit overlong perhaps. Chaney and Philbin are pretty good, especially Chaney, who designed his own make-up. When you look at it, its amazing. I could've swore he had prosthetics, but he achieved the look mostly through the use of lines and shadows. I do think the character of the Vicomte, Christine's love interest, could've used some work. Still, the film is well-shot, well-acted, and quite dark for the time. Grade: B

A film with the word "Spring" in its title: SPRING (short film)
While looking for films that fit this criteria, I stumbled upon this short film from Laurel Parmet. It follows a couple of teenager friends as they hang out in one of their houses. As one is trying to find ways to flirt with a boy through social media pictures, the other might be hiding something. I thought it was a neatly acted short, perfectly conveying the awkwardness and uncomfortable sense of sexual discovery and insecurity. Not much else to say, only that it's barely 8 minutes long and can be seen here. Grade: B+

A film with the word "Spring" in its title: RED SPRING
After that short, I still decided to see a feature for the category. Found this cheap-o film on Prime about a group of survivors looking for a safe shelter in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by vampiric creatures. If you look at the cover artwork on IMDb (see here), you might be led to believe this was one of those Asylum-like, dumb action-fests full of cheap CGI, but it's not. It's actually quite somber and introspective, as it focus on Ray (played by director and writer Jeff Sinasac) who is trying to cope with the possible loss of his wife and daughter. There are some bad performances and some eye-rolling clichés, but I still felt it was more competent than one might think. Sinasac makes the most of his low budget and hides the seams of the visuals well enough, plus most of the characters are likable which makes it easier to follow the film. Not a ground-breaking effort, but inoffensive enough and worth Grade: B-

The third part on a film franchise: BEFORE MIDNIGHT
This is probably the one I was looking forward the most. The third installment of Richard Linklater's Before trilogy follows Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy), who are a couple now, as they navigate through their relationship struggles during one of their last nights in Greece. I'm a fan of the first two films, particularly the second, so I was anxious to see where this last installment would take the characters. The film does a great job of portraying the struggles of married people to keep thing afloat, and it does so through the usual conversations between the two leads. Like the previous two films there are numerous stretches that consist of just Jesse and Celine talking about numerous things: their past, their future, their jobs, how are they as parents, their failures, frustrations, religion, friends, life in general, and whatnot. There's a scene towards the beginning where they share a dinner with some Greek friends where a couple of the performances were a bit weaker and some of the lines of dialogue felt a bit forced in how they pushed the film's "thesis" about life and relationships. But when the film focuses on Jesse/Celine, it sizzles. If there's one thing that this trilogy has done well is capture the essence of what each "age period" might feel like. The whole last act at the hotel room was pretty intense as tensions rise between the couple, and even though it touches on some common tropes of "marriage" films, as usual, Hawke and Delpy sell it. Plus, the ending couldn't have been more satisfying. This might still be a notch below the first two, but it's still a pretty good film and a beautiful closing to this story. Grade: B+

A film from or with Warren Beatty: REDS
This is one I'm still figuring out how I feel about. The film follows writer-turned-political activist Jack Reed (Beatty) and his relationship with fellow writer Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), as they try to figure out their relationship and their careers in the midst of the Russian Revolution. Now, my initial feelings is that, despite some great performances and production values, the film doesn't seem sure of what to be, as it moves between romance and drama, and docu-drama, to historical epic. I felt that when the film focused on the dynamics between Jack and Louise, it was pretty good, but as it shifted to the more historical/political side of the film in the second half, it kinda lost me. Thankfully, like I said, the performances are pretty good and help keep things afloat. Beatty and Keaton, both of which I haven't seen a lot of, go from intense to subdued seamlessly and effectively. But there's a supporting performance from one Jack Nicholson that I thought stole every scene he was in. I wish I could've seen more of him, and his interactions with Jack/Louise. Beatty's direction is pretty good, but he also decides to include sporadic documentary-like interviews with "witnesses" of the life of Reed. Unfortunately, I don't think these added anything to the film and worked in its detriment, particularly for a 3-hour film. Maybe my grade will change later, but as of now... Grade: C+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Apr 03, 2020 4:13 am

This is my final tally for March...

A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title: Third Contact
A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: Friday the 13th, Part VII - The New Blood
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 230, 820) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (#376)
A film from the 1920s: The Phantom of the Opera
A documentary film: 13th
The third part on a film franchise: Before Midnight
A film with a prominent deaf character (Deaf History Month): Children of a Lesser God
A film from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Independence Day, March 1): Back to Bosnia
A film where the phone is crucial to the plot (Alexander Graham Bell Day, March 7): Sorry to Bother You
A film directed by a woman (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): The Bigamist
A film with a woman's name in its title (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, Carol
A film based on a Shakespeare play (Shakespeare Week, March 16): Macbeth (2015)
A film with the word "Spring" in its title (March 20): Spring (short), Red Spring
A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Monsters vs. Aliens
A film from or with Warren Beatty (born March 30): Reds

Freebies for the kids: Missing Link, The Road to El Dorado


My favorite of the month? Probably 13th and Carol.

Least favorite? Not counting my Friday the 13th Part VII rewatch, it would be Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Apr 03, 2020 4:15 am

Give me until tomorrow morning to post the new categories. I already have them, but it's 12:15 am and I'm tired.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Apr 03, 2020 5:05 am

Thief wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 4:09 am
A film where the phone is crucial to the plot: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
This was certainly a weird, unique film. It follows Cash (Lakeith Stanfield), a struggling, black telemarketer that learns to use his "white voice" to rise to the top at his job, but to the expense of his friends and girlfriend. Surreal to the max, the film is always interesting in terms of what it puts in front of you, and how it puts it. Is it a bit heavy-handed? Yeah, and not just a bit. Does things get a bit crazy in the end? Maybe, but I think it succeeds in taking across his points on capitalism and how corporate America operates. The cast is pretty good, but I thought Stanfield was a standout. Grade: B+
Yeah, good, solid film. I like how, as crazy as it gets throughout (especially in the final act), it never manages to take focus away from its central theme on capitalism. Even the moments where it briefly touches on other aspects doesn't make it feel unfocused. The final act also looks really good despite the low budget.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Apr 03, 2020 2:34 pm

Ok, finally, here are the categories for April...

A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title:
Any film that starts with the letters G or H:
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #4 (i.e. 14, 401, 943):
A film from the 1930s:
A drama film:
A Biblical film
A film based on a poem (National Poetry Month):
A film with Marlon Brando (born April 3):
A road trip film (Read a Road Map Day, April 5):
A film featuring a zoo or animals prominently (Zoo Lover's Day, April 8):
A film with the word "Brother" or "Sister" in its title (Siblings Day, April 10):
A film mostly set in a submarine (National Submarine Day, April 11):
A film about the environment or related themes (Earth Day, April 22):
A film with the word "Tree" in its title (Arbor Day, April 24):
A film from Ireland (Independence Day, April 24):

As usual, drop your recs and/or your plans!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Apr 03, 2020 2:55 pm

Ok, some suggestions...

Films based on poems

Submarine films

Some that I might have in mind...

Phase IV, which seems like a good, dumb sci-fi option.

The Invisible Man, for the 1930s category.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:22 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 1:09 am
I just watched Ruby a few weeks ago and for a movie I"d never heard of I really liked it. It's dumb, and is chock full of equally dumb ideas. But at least it is full of something good.

A drive in run by a bunch of retired mafiosa? Sign me the fuck up.
There's some entertainment value to this. It almost plays like it belongs in a drive in.

Also, I didn't mention the score but it was a nice mix of electronic elements and jazz.

Plus, Lila Sue stole scenes like she stole the hearts of boys in the drive-in.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:14 pm

And you beat me as I was working on MacMeh earlier today.

Tentative list for April:

April 2020:
A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title: Four Feathers (2002) P
Any film that starts with the letters G or H: The Great Dictator (1940) T
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #4 (i.e. 14, 401, 943): The Graduate (1967) P
A film from the 1930s: Made for Each Other (1939) P
A drama film: Four Feathers (2002) P
A Biblical film: Risen (2016) T
A film based on a poem (National Poetry Month): Beowulf and Grendel (2005) P
A film with Marlon Brando (born April 3): One Eyed Jacks (1961) P
A road trip film (Read a Road Map Day, April 5): The Young Offenders (2016) N
A film featuring a zoo or animals prominently (Zoo Lover's Day, April 8): The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) N
A film with the word "Brother" or "Sister" in its title (Siblings Day, April 10): Sister Street Fighter (1974) P
A film mostly set in a submarine (National Submarine Day, April 11): Black Sea (2014) N
A film about the environment or related themes (Earth Day, April 22): The Lorax (2012) T
A film with the word "Tree" in its title (Arbor Day, April 24): If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011) P
A film from Ireland (Independence Day, April 24): The Young Offenders (2016) N
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:40 pm

Some recommendations:


A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title: 4 Little Girls (Prime); 4th Man Out; Four Lions (Kanopy). I'll be watching Four Sheets to the Wind or Four Journeys into Mythic Time

Any film that starts with the letters G or H: Gimme Shelter (Kanopy); Gone (2012, Amazon); Gorky Park (Hulu); Grabbers (Hulu); Happy Accidents (Hulu); Hunt for the Wilder People (Hulu)

A film from the 1930s: The 39 Steps (Amazon)

A drama film: Warrior (Amazon); The Handmaiden (Amazon); SHORT TERM 12 (Amazon--and I'm going to keep pushing this film until you all watch it :x )

A Biblical film: Esther and the King (Amazon); Oh, man. Am I going to have to watch Passion of the Christ?

A film based on a poem (National Poetry Month): Hmm. Maybe the 2005 Beowulf and Grendel? Do you mean based on the story of a poem, or just the title is from a poem?

A film with Marlon Brando (born April 3): The Score (Amazon)

A road trip film (Read a Road Map Day, April 5): Take Me Home (Amazon); Fundamentals of Caring (Netflix)

A film featuring a zoo or animals prominently (Zoo Lover's Day, April 8): Blood Tea and Red String (Amazon)

A film with the word "Brother" or "Sister" in its title (Siblings Day, April 10): Blood Brother (2013, Amazon); Sister Helen (Amazon)

A film mostly set in a submarine (National Submarine Day, April 11): The Black Sea (Netflix); Below (2002, I love this movie I'm so sad it's only a rental!)

A film about the environment or related themes (Earth Day, April 22): Night Moves (Amazon); First Reformed (Amazon); Long Weekend (1978. Amazon)

A film with the word "Tree" in its title (Arbor Day, April 24): Trees Lounge (Amazon); Treed Murray (Amazon)

A film from Ireland (Independence Day, April 24): Calvary (Yes, you have to rent it. Yes, it is worth it)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:08 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:40 pm
Some recommendations:


A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title: 4 Little Girls (Prime); 4th Man Out; Four Lions (Kanopy). I'll be watching Four Sheets to the Wind or Four Journeys into Mythic Time

Any film that starts with the letters G or H: Gimme Shelter (Kanopy); Gone (2012, Amazon); Gorky Park (Hulu); Grabbers (Hulu); Happy Accidents (Hulu); Hunt for the Wilder People (Hulu)

A film from the 1930s: The 39 Steps (Amazon)

A drama film: Warrior (Amazon); The Handmaiden (Amazon); SHORT TERM 12 (Amazon--and I'm going to keep pushing this film until you all watch it :x )

A Biblical film: Esther and the King (Amazon); Oh, man. Am I going to have to watch Passion of the Christ?

A film based on a poem (National Poetry Month): Hmm. Maybe the 2005 Beowulf and Grendel? Do you mean based on the story of a poem, or just the title is from a poem?

A film with Marlon Brando (born April 3): The Score (Amazon)

A road trip film (Read a Road Map Day, April 5): Take Me Home (Amazon); Fundamentals of Caring (Netflix)

A film featuring a zoo or animals prominently (Zoo Lover's Day, April 8): Blood Tea and Red String (Amazon)

A film with the word "Brother" or "Sister" in its title (Siblings Day, April 10): Blood Brother (2013, Amazon); Sister Helen (Amazon)

A film mostly set in a submarine (National Submarine Day, April 11): The Black Sea (Netflix); Below (2002, I love this movie I'm so sad it's only a rental!)

A film about the environment or related themes (Earth Day, April 22): Night Moves (Amazon); First Reformed (Amazon); Long Weekend (1978. Amazon)

A film with the word "Tree" in its title (Arbor Day, April 24): Trees Lounge (Amazon); Treed Murray (Amazon)

A film from Ireland (Independence Day, April 24): Calvary (Yes, you have to rent it. Yes, it is worth it)
Thanks to CoVID, I can't fix what's wrong with my Hoopla...would be tempted by 4th Man Out which I think is on there as well.

Will second Hunt for the Wilderpeople...if you like any of Taika Waititi's films, then you'll enjoy this one.

The 39 Steps was pretty solid when I saw it a couple years ago.

If Short Term 12 is somewhere by December, I'll watch it then.

Almost chose Blood Brother...but to be honest, I saw and was intrigued by Sister Street Fighter but one of my friends were all like "You're not watching this?" and changed the station.

Yeah, my Black Sea is your Black Sea...the Jude Law film.

Score is a good fallback for Brando.

On Netflix, I see four Gospel movies, Samson, and Joseph and the King of Dreams. Not much available on Prime, but if you have a few dollars, I think Thief gave a passing grade to Risen which I ended up buying for $5 from Wal-Mart.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:13 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 2:55 pm
Ok, some suggestions...

Films based on poems
Oh, I love The Man From Snowy River.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:33 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:08 pm
Thanks to CoVID, I can't fix what's wrong with my Hoopla...would be tempted by 4th Man Out which I think is on there as well.
It's also on Netflix.
If Short Term 12 is somewhere by December, I'll watch it then.
Or you could watch it now, for free, on Amazon Prime, Hoopla, or Vudu!
On Netflix, I see four Gospel movies, Samson, and Joseph and the King of Dreams. Not much available on Prime, but if you have a few dollars, I think Thief gave a passing grade to Risen which I ended up buying for $5 from Wal-Mart.
I check those out, thanks!
Wooley wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:13 pm
Oh, I love The Man From Snowy River.
One of my sister's childhood favorites.

Also since The Set-Up apparently counts, it's totally worth the $2 on Amazon.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:38 pm

December, Tak, December!

Yeah, I'm swapping out Four Feathers for 4th Man Out now.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:49 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:38 pm
December, Tak, December!
But . . . why?! (I know it has a 12 in the title, but c'mon!!)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:53 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:49 pm
But . . . why?! (I know it has a 12 in the title, but c'mon!!)
How many other films has a 12 in the title.

I suppose I could move it up when we do the S films?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Apr 05, 2020 4:21 am

Guys, it has come to my attention that Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is back on Amazon and I would HIGHLY recommend it. I watched it last year for the Film Challenge and it is really interesting and suspenseful.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:02 pm

See a film based on a Shakespeare play (March)

Macbeth (2015)

Yeah, I didn't care for this so much.

For those unaware of the play, Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) is a soldier whose performance in combat wins him the title that belonged to someone who betrayed Duncan (David Thewlis), the king of Scotland. But he already knew about that because some witches predicted it for him. When Duncan decides to stop by Macbeth's, his wife Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotilliard) suggests that the quickest way to the throne would be murdering Duncan and seizing the throne. Macbeth is reluctant, but ultimately does the deed. But there are unforeseen consequences to the murder and the witches may have some more predictions that might not please the new king.

Fassbender is strong here and Cotilliard offers able support. I also liked Thewlis and even Jack Reynor is fine here. My problems lie more in the presentation and the direction. Although there's some cool scenes (such as the witches showing up in the middle of a battle and the climactic battle taking place under the glow of fire), entire scenes seem like they were filmed in the dark. They stick with the Shakespearean English which is fine, but outside of the two stars, it's more a matter of struggling to care than anything.

A disappointment. C-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:30 pm

A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title: Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four

I've heard a handful of mentions of Roger Corman's early 90s Fantastic Four film. But I had never realized the entire story behind it and its lack of release.

It's a story not just about low-budget film-making, but also about the way that people in the chain of making a film (actors, editors, even the director) are at the mercy of the actions of those above them in the studio system.

This documentary uses interviews with the cast and crew of the film to recount the making of the film and then the shocking and baffling series of events that led to the film going from something that was going to be theatrical release to something that would never see the light of day.

Something that sets this documentary apart from many others I've seen is just how emotionally raw many of the cast/crew still feel about what happened to them. The actors, by their own accounting, basically bankrolled their own marketing campaign (with one having spent $12,000 of his own money). The editors describe sneaking film into labs under other titles in order to finish the film's post-production.

This was a really interesting look into a place where low-budget film-making intersects with big-budget/big-studio business practices.

It is unfortunate that so many of the big names involved (Avi Arad, Stan Lee) are not a part of the film (having declined to appear). You come away from the movie with the sense that someone needs to answer for what happened, and for the deception and disrespect shown to the cast and crew. Unsurprisingly, many of them felt that this was their gateway to something bigger and better. Maybe that was naive of them, but it's not an excuse for how they were treated.

This one is streaming on Amazon.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:15 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:05 pm
Episode 6 was delayed, but it's finally here.

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 6 (March 25, 2020)
Just posted Episode 7 of my podcast. Check it out!

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 7 (April 3, 2020)

It's also on Spotify, so just look for Thief's Monthly Movie Loot, follow and listen!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Apr 05, 2020 11:05 pm

FYI: for the "brother/sister" category, the film My Brother the Time Traveler is on Amazon Prime. It's a really light, sci-fi comedy and I watched it last year and enjoyed it quite a bit.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:39 am

So I started watching The Sisters Brothers, but within the first three minutes a horse was on fire and then a bunch more died so . . .

A film with the word "Brother" or "Sister" in its title (Siblings Day, April 10): Brothers Nest

This is an Australian thriller/dark comedy about two adult men whose mother is dying of cancer. Worried that their stepfather is going to inherit their childhood home, they concoct an elaborate plan to kill him and make it look like suicide. The entire film takes place at the family home, and begins with the brothers arriving to start preparing for their crime. As the day goes on, it becomes clear that the brothers are not being honest with each other or with themselves about their real motives for wanting to kill their stepfather.

I liked this movie, but something kept me from loving it. Maybe it was just a touch too bleak. I did really like the way that the story the brothers told themselves (about their wicked stepfather and their poor father) slowly comes undone as you realize that their father abused their mother, that their stepfather is probably not as greedy as they are, and that they will go to great lengths to minimize their own failures as husbands and fathers.

This one is on Amazon Prime and I would recommend it. Also, as a fun extra, the two actors playing the brothers are brothers in real life (and the film is directed by the one who plays Jeff). Also Sarah Snook pops up for about two minutes, but she's always a welcome sight!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:27 am

Seeking the advice of the "gods" regarding the "submarine film" category. There seems to be a lot of options so I don't know which one to choose. I've seen the following...

Das Boot
Crimson Tide
The Hunt for Red October
Below
U-571
K-19: The Widowmaker


However, most of those I haven't seen in well over a decade, and some of them two decades, so I wouldn't care to rewatch any of them.

But, if I wanted to go for something fresh and new, there's...

Black Sea - a couple of people came with this rec on Twitter
Run Silent, Run Deep
Ice Station Zebra
Hunter Killer
The Enemy Below


Among many others. Suggestions?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:36 am

A film with the word "Tree" in its title (Arbor Day, April 24): The Juniper Tree

I am so sad that this film is only available on the Criterion Channel and Kanopy, because it's the kind of movie that you finish and immediately want everyone else to see.

Sisters Margit and Katla (Bjork plays Margit!) live in an unnamed rural countryside where there is increasing danger for those who practice witchcraft. Their mother has just been stoned to death and burned. As they stand over the body of another victim (a woman whose body is half-submerged in a river), they decide that they must move further afield. Katla promises to cast a spell, and soon a young widow named Johannes falls under her thrall. Margit and Katla move in with Johannes and Johannes' young son, Jonas. As Katla continues to work her magic (trying to bear a child), she and Jonas get into increasingly volatile confrontations, as Jonas resents her for replacing his mother and fears her for being a witch. At the same time Margit (who is blessed with second sight) tries to make sense of the figures she sees, fearful of what her visions mean.

As we all learned though endless discussions of a certain other witch-centric film, it can be really tricky to condemn the actions of witch-hunters and also tell a story where witches are real and do evil things. This film actually does a really good job of allowing both to co-exist. It isn't witchcraft that is dangerous (as we see Magrit to be kind and well-meaning), it is the actions of someone with that power. And Katla herself isn't evil--she is driven by fear and anger over the killing of their mother. Katla does horrific things, and yet I always understood why she did them. Her physical movements when Johannes first lays eyes on her (which progresses pretty quickly to throwing her down on a hillside) show someone who is willing to trade sex for safety, but not happy about it. She is constantly reminded, by Jonas and his father, that she is inferior in every way to his first wife. At the same time you empathize with Johannes, because his feelings are not real--they are the product of magic and manipulation. It is really rare for a film to show this level of conflict and yet maintain an empathy for everyone involved.

Horror-wise, this one had some low-key really disturbing parts. Between Katla's witchcraft, Margit's visions, and the general sense of foreboding, it was suspenseful from credits to credits.

It makes me super sad that the writer-director, Nietzchka Keene, was only involved in a handful of films.

I know that this film is not widely available, but I urge you to add it to your "To Watch" lists and keep an eye out for it. Plus, it's a fleeting hour and twenty minutes. Highly recommended.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 11:41 pm

A film from the 1930s: The Whole Town’s Talking

This was a pleasant little surprise, though not without its flaws.

Mild mannered Arthur Jones (Edward Robinson) is a meek, mild-mannered office clerk who spends his free time caring for his pets and pining after his brash co-worker Miss Clark. Arthur's world is turned upside down when a most-wanted fugitive named Killer Mannion makes the front page of the papers. Mannion bears an uncanny resemblance to Arthur, and before long Arthur is embroiled in a city-wide manhunt.

The film is both funnier and more suspenseful than I expected. Robinson does really well in his dual acting roles, bringing menace to Mannion and baffled meekness to Arthur. Jean Arthur is incredibly funny and charming as the outspoken Miss Clark (including a great sequence where, when confused for a gangster's girlfriend, she blithely confesses to every crime mentioned by the police), and there's a real delight to the opposites-attract relationship between the two of them. There are some really enjoyable little moments, like when the doubling motif is repeated by two nearly-identical secondary characters meeting in a hallway.

There were also more thrills than I expected. There's an actually pretty scary sequence where Miss Clark mistakes Mannion for Arthur and realizes as he embraces her aggressively that he isn't who she thought. There is also a sequence where Mannion sneaks his way into prison(!) in order to murder an informant. Things get surprisingly dangerous and . . . fatal in the last 20 or so minutes.

For the most part the film moves along nicely. My main complaint is that the film ends up squandering the chemistry between Arthur and Miss Clark. There are only two women with names in the whole film, and they are literally captured and not seen at all for like the last 30-40 minutes! I half expected to find some trivia about Jean Arthur getting sick halfway through filming or something. I don't understand why her character is sidelined, and the film misses their interactions. And it adds insult to injury when the very end of the film focuses on them having a romantic happy ending.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 3:09 am

A Biblical film: Give Up Yer Aul Sins

This is my kind of biblical film: funny, and less than five minutes long!

This is a short film that was Ireland's nominee for the Oscar.

Basically someone rediscovered audio recordings made in the 60s of Dublin schoolchildren retelling bible stories in their own words. In this film, a little girl named Mary retells the story of John the Baptist (is there anyone else who always thinks of the movie Cookie's Fortune when it comes to Salome? No?). The story is animated, and switches between Mary telling it and the scenes she is describing. It's most charming when her young mind gets fixated on Salome's desires ("She didn't ask for a necklace, or a brooch. Or a bracelet. Or something fancy. Or some gold. Kings are rich and they have a lot of gold.")

Recommended and on YouTube!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Apr 08, 2020 1:25 pm

I was thinking about your earlier comment...
Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:40 pm
A Biblical film: Esther and the King (Amazon); Oh, man. Am I going to have to watch Passion of the Christ?
...and was about to recommend a few. Not sure what are your reservations on the sub-genre, but I'm a fan of Passion of the Christ. I haven't seen it in a while, but I thought it was pretty well crafted all around.

Other than that, a couple I saw last year (Risen and Barabbas) ended up being pleasant surprises that mostly avoid feeling overly preachy. Even Aronofsky's Noah ended up being a weird, interesting beast, despite some flaws. I also remember enjoying Prince of Egypt when it came out, but I haven't seen it since.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 1:48 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 1:25 pm
I was thinking about your earlier comment...


...and was about to recommend a few. Not sure what are your reservations on the sub-genre, but I'm a fan of Passion of the Christ. I haven't seen it in a while, but I thought it was pretty well crafted all around.

Other than that, a couple I saw last year (Risen and Barabbas) ended up being pleasant surprises that mostly avoid feeling overly preachy. Even Aronofsky's Noah ended up being a weird, interesting beast, despite some flaws. I also remember enjoying Prince of Egypt when it came out, but I haven't seen it since.
I find that they are often waayyyyyy too long. And I dislike the combination of how many of them are both preachy and salacious. Like, "We're teaching you about this woman who is good and pure . . . thus we need many, many sequences showing you the bad slutty women in their skimpy, slutty outfits."

Aside from maybe The Ten Commandments (which gets nostalgia points), I can't think of a biblical film I'd rate higher than a 6 or 7.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:22 pm

A film mostly set in a submarine (National Submarine Day, April 11): Atomic Submarine

This is a film that plays almost like a parody of a B-movie: stilted humor, mismatched stock footage, overbearing narrator repeating things that are clear on screen, and an alien with a great booming voice!

This one was BORING, BORING, BORING, KIND OF AWESOME, then BORING.

Near the Arctic circle, submarines are being attacked/destroyed by some mysterious force. An elite group of various military and science experts are put together on a submarine to go and figure out what is happening. There is some tension aboard between one of the commanders, a "charming" womanizer named Reef, and a pacifist scientist named Neilson.

Most of the film (like almost an hour) is the submarine just trying to track down the attacking entity. The last 20 minutes or so is where the film actually picks up some traction, as the men find the vessel and must figure out how to destroy it.

While some of the B-movie-isms are fun (like Neilson being played by a super pretty actor who always has his shirt unbuttoned like twice as far as all the other men, or the narrator saying things like "Two days into the voyage, things were uneventful" over footage of the captain's hand literally writing in a journal saying "Two days in, things are uneventful"), it was a loooooong haul to that final 20 minutes.

Once the men make it aboard the mysterious ship, things get pretty interesting for about 10 minutes. I'm talking people being melted in a surprisingly effective special effect, or people being crushed in doors. There's telepathy, and a creature that, if you watch it, MUST have been the inspiration for Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons. The creature answers every question with a booming, condescending "Of course!".

I guess I could sort of recommend this one. I did like the 10 minutes on the vessel. And at 72 minutes, it's a pretty quick watch. I think that if you come prepared to be amused by the B-movie stuff, you'll enjoy it. As the narrator says, "It was foolish. It was insane. It was fantastic."
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 8:57 pm

A drama film: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

I almost don't have words for how much I liked this one.

A woman is commissioned to paint a portrait of a young woman, with the intent of sending that portrait to her probable-husband. But a passionate romance between the two women makes for an intense time together, with the impending marriage hanging like doom over them.

I think that what I liked most about this film was it's discussion/portrayal of the difference between loving someone and loving a representation of someone. To paint someone is to freeze them in time, yes, but it is also to immortalize your own view of them, replacing their true self with your subjective impression of them. With the clock winding down on their time together, representation (through painting, through memory) will be all that they have left of each other.

The film is also conspicuous in its absence of men. There is not a single male voice/presence (aside from a background extra) until the last 15 minutes of the movie, and yet several male characters have their presence deeply felt: the Milanese gentlemen who is to marry the young woman (the fact that he is a man and that he is from Milan is all she, or we, ever learn about him); the painter's father, whose business the main character hope to inherit; the unnamed man who impregnated the young maid; the young woman's absent father; etc. There are plenty of films that feature only or almost-only men. And if you ever point that out, people are like "Yeah, but sometimes in war and stuff there aren't any ladies!". Here you see how the absence of men is palpably felt, because their decisions and their place in society and their non-presence has direct consequences for the women. They can be alone, but they cannot be independent, a critical difference.

This one is streaming on Hulu and highly recommended.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:10 pm

If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011)
(See a film that has the word Tree in the title) (April)

Decided to watch a movie on campus. Started back up with Sister Street Fighter and the Hotel Mandarin and let me tell ya, I'd have felt awkward if someone saw me watching that scene that started it. So I decided to check out If a Tree Falls instead (other than some language, no objectionable content).

This documentary deals with Daniel McGowan who was arrested and charged with arson and conspiracy for his work with the ELF in the 1990s and early 2000s. It chronicles how the ELF were more radical than just your typical eco-protesters who would just picket and other non-violent forms of protest. But after the police used teargas and pepper spray to stop several protests, this led to some using more extreme tactics. He debates between signing a plea agreement or keeping quiet even as others cooperate with the feds for reduced sentences. Also, we get a spirited debate between those who think calling them eco-terrorists is overblown (although property is burnt down, there is no loss of life) and those who believe what they're doing IS terrorism.

This one respects everyone's viewpoints and gets into everything from what brought him into ELF in the first place to how they used someone who used to work for them to get him (and others) to admit things on tape. This can be seen on Prime and I can't believe I'm just now getting to see this for the first time (it was on POV in 2011). B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Apr 09, 2020 12:31 am

A film featuring a zoo or animals prominently (Zoo Lover's Day, April 8): Madagascar 2

This movie was . . . fine. It was fine, guys.

Following the first film the animals try to fly home from Madagascar, but crash land shortly thereafter, conveniently in the same wildlife preserve where Alex the lion was kidnapped as a cub. Each of the animals soon encounters his or her own challenge as they try to integrate themselves into the wild.

The jokes here are okay. I found them neither all that great nor so bad that I couldn't take it. The film overall lacks any really memorable sequences. The conflicts that are presented are pretty low-key. Gloria looks for love, but the shallow dude-hippo is only into her looks. Melman can't confess his love to Gloria. Marty discovers he's not as unique as he thought he was. Alex is not "manly" enough for his father, the pride's alpha male. There's a little subplot about Alex's uncle (a clear Scar homage) wanting to seize power, but he's in power for like 5 minutes before everyone decides he's horrible at the job. All the way through it feels pretty low-stakes. This might be nice for a kid viewer, but as an adult I was a little bored.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:06 pm

A film from the1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die[/url] list whose ranking includes the #4 (i.e. 14, 401, 943): Faster Pussycat Kill Kill!

This movie was so much fun.

A trio of sociopathic go-go dancers, led by the ruthless Varla, kills a young man in the desert and takes his girlfriend hostage. They end up at the home of an old man and his two sons--lured in by a rumor that the old man has a stash of cash somewhere on the premise. But the old man and his son are up to things on their own, and soon it turns into a battle of wills (and karate chops!) between the kidnapped girlfriend, the go-go dancers, and the old man.

I mean, this is the kind of film you just need to go out and watch. It's trash at its best with fun performances, dramatic angles and close-ups, and absolutely bonkers action. It knows exactly when to take itself seriously and when to just cut loose.

When I was done watching, I went to the film's trivia section specifically for insight as to how Tura Satana's breasts managed to stay inside her shirt the whole time.

This movie is a rollicking good time and I heartily endorse it. I watched a really nice copy on YouTube.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:23 pm

Mudhoney will always be my favorite of all Meyers films because of its more ominous, decayed vibe, but Pussycat is definitely up there
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:37 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:23 pm
Mudhoney will always be my favorite of all Meyers films because of its more ominous, decayed vibe, but Pussycat is definitely up there
I kind of liked the clean look of this one because it really made me think of a black-and-white graphic novel.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:43 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:37 pm
I kind of liked the clean look of this one because it really made me think of a black-and-white graphic novel.
Most of his movies, that I've seen, are striking graphically, and comic bookesque would be a fair description. Mudhoney is similarly bold visually, just a little more degenerate so to get down to my speed. From what I recall fairly harmless degeneration though, but it is hard to remember sometimes. Unlike my memories of Up, which I feel confident in steering you away from. There was an ugliness in that one that I wasn't on board with.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:51 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:06 pm
A film from the1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die[/url] list whose ranking includes the #4 (i.e. 14, 401, 943): Faster Pussycat Kill Kill!

This movie was so much fun.

A trio of sociopathic go-go dancers, led by the ruthless Varla, kills a young man in the desert and takes his girlfriend hostage. They end up at the home of an old man and his two sons--lured in by a rumor that the old man has a stash of cash somewhere on the premise. But the old man and his son are up to things on their own, and soon it turns into a battle of wills (and karate chops!) between the kidnapped girlfriend, the go-go dancers, and the old man.

I mean, this is the kind of film you just need to go out and watch. It's trash at its best with fun performances, dramatic angles and close-ups, and absolutely bonkers action. It knows exactly when to take itself seriously and when to just cut loose.

When I was done watching, I went to the film's trivia section specifically for insight as to how Tura Satana's breasts managed to stay inside her shirt the whole time.

This movie is a rollicking good time and I heartily endorse it. I watched a really nice copy on YouTube.
Yeah, that is a fun film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Apr 10, 2020 12:07 am

A film from Ireland (Independence Day, April 24): The Pilgrimage

Ummmm . . .

Okay. Tom Holland plays a young monk, Diarmuid, in an isolated Irish monastery. A priest arrives from abroad, having come to collect a religious relic held by the monks. Diarmuid and several other priests, along with their mysterious mute companion (Jon Bernthal) attempt to escort the relic to Rome. Along the way they encounter a sketchy ally (Richard Armitage) and many hostile "savage" natives who are resisting the spread of the church.

To first address the general theme of the movie, people do bad things for power and religion, it's all handled a bit too superficially. Diarmuid becomes entirely disenchanted with the world around him (and possibly even his religion?) as he watches the evils that are done in the name of protecting the relic, and the evils that men are willing to inflict on one another in order to get it. There's a bond between Diarmuid and the mute (who is never given a name), and the most powerful part of the film is Diarmuid's growing horror at what the mute (who, surprise surprise, is actually quite handy with a sword) is asked--and willing--to do to protect the relic. But there are just too many moving pieces. The film has no time to breathe and there were several times where I found the film a bit confusing--okay, so why are they getting on the boat? Where is this road taking them? Who are they supposed to meet?

I will give some props to whoever did the effects in this film. I'm not sure how many were practical and how many were CGI (I suspect some pretty decent CGI), but the gore is very realistic and it is plentiful. Not sure how much of a selling point that is, but many people are stabbed in the face, have limbs hacked off, etc. It's a very visceral and unromantic image of battle . . .

. . . or is it?!?!?! Look, I've been stuck in my house since March 15th pretty much, and at first I thought "Am I just desperately lonely here?". Then the film was like "Please enjoy this prolonged crotch shot" and I was like "Okay, right, movie. It's not me. It's you." This is one of those movies that wants to disapprove of violence and torture but is also kind of horny for it. And more specifically horny for the silent-but-deadly character of the mute. The age gap between Bernthal and Holland mostly manages to keep their relationship out of blatantly homoerotic territory (this isn't exactly Jamie Bell holding down Channing Tatum in The Eagle), but Diarmuid's dizzying mix of admiration and anguish over his companion's actions gets blended in with the film's more undaunted love of the mute's shirtless badassery and the resulting tone is . . . weird. There's a lot of staring. And holding each other. And intercutting those moments with loving camera shots of Bernthal's naked torso or that weird shot of his crotch (in which I think they were trying to draw focus to him using his shirt as a shield? Maybe?) just . . . huh.

It's a shame, because the power of the story is there in how Diarmuid sees his companion. In their life at the monastery, they go fishing together on the beach and talk about whether or not oysters have souls. Once the relic comes into play, Diarmuid is suddenly watching his friend choke to death a young Gaelic warrior about Diarmuid's age. But the film is never willing to commit to the mute's actions as being purely horrifying (which they are, even in justifiable defense of his companions), and wants to have things both ways. "Look what violence men will sink to out of religious conflict," the film says, "isn't it horrible? Also, would you like to see a guy impale one dude and then cut another one's face in half?!".

This feels like a real missed opportunity. Either go serious and resist the urge to make the mute some superhuman action star, or keep things more real and tragic as a young man watches his friend get consumed by his violent past.

It's a shame, because the acting is good, the fights are pretty well staged, and I dig stories that center on platonic (*ahem*) friendships and how those can evolve under stress. Holland really holds his own as the emotional center of the story. And while I found the approach to Bernthal's character kind of misguided, he also does a good job in his action sequences and more quiet moments. Too bad it's all muddled by the confused messaging.

Sidenote: Whiplash from going from a film featuring about 95% only women (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) to a film with zero female characters (and I mean zero--maybe there was a woman in the background at one point?) and also no mention of any women (though talk of fathers, sons, and brothers abounds). "What was the lady film about?" "Oh, you know, love and painting each other and the intersection of artistic representation and reality." "Cool, what about the dude film." Well, they all wanted this rock and kept stabbing each other in the face for it!" " . . . ".
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:26 pm

Fresh off the kitchen, it's

Sister Street Fighter (1975)
See a film with brother or sister in the title (April)

This was kinda fun but with some problematic elements.

Koryu (Sue Shiomi) is a kung fu master who heads to Hong Kong in search of her brother Mansei (Hiroshi Mayauchi). Mansei is not only a champion in kempo, but he's also an undercover police officer. Perhaps he's been kidnapped by someone from his latest assignment, a drug lord who's smuggling heroin inside the hair of fancy wigs?

Watching a woman kick seriously talented fighters does not get old. Sonny Chiba does appear as a member of a dojo Koryu gets help from (and he proves more than capable). There's two other female fighters who do decent work here. And considering the amount of opposition they face, Koryu needs all the help she can get.

What bugged me was one sequence that the evil Kaki (Bin Amatsu) conducts in front of a shocked Gyokudo (Hiroshi Kondo) where he has his daughter tied up and one of his goons decides to have his way with her. While she's screaming (nothing happens, but it does come pretty close), Gyokudo decides to do what Kaki wants him to do by leading Koryu into a abandoned warehouse trap. It's the sort of sequence that kinda stops the fun right there.

Also, in the middle of a climactic fight sequence, Chiba's character tells one of the girls to head back home and avoid trouble. Um, OK dude.

It's kind of dated, but it's also worth a look. C+

NOTE: For those looking for a more family friendly film with brother or sister in the title, I think 4 Sisters and a Wedding is on Prime now. It has its issues, but it's definitely something that won't leave a bad taste in your mouth.
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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:10 am

A film with Marlon Brando (born April 3): One Eyed Jacks

There are a lot of films that have taken a hit for me in the wake of the outpouring of accusations during the #MeToo fervor. I'm not at all interested in a debate about who deserves what and is what Person A did worse than what Person B did and so on. After reading this article and learning about Brando's complicity in humiliating his 19 year old co-star in order to help get a "real" performance out of her during a rape scene, he's been added to the list of people I just kind of don't want to look at right now.

Now that being said, I'm not sure I would have liked this movie all that much if someone else had played the lead role. Brando plays a character named Rio who is betrayed by his partner after a heist. He spends five years in jail before escaping. He tracks down the old partner, now a sheriff in California, and just kind of . . . hangs around. He ends up falling for his partner's step-daughter, Louisa. He and the old partner have a few skermishes and run-ins, as Rio is planning a bank heist in the town.

I did enjoy Karl Malden as the crooked partner, a man whose violence and duplicity is easily hidden in his role as sheriff and "caring father". There are some semi-memorable secondary characters, like a weasely new partner who is in on the bank robbery with Rio.

But this film is 2 1/2 hours long, and there was just so . . . much . . . talking. And it's not very interesting most of the time. Normally I'd be all about a romance developing through long conversations, but Louisa is kind of a Mary Sue. I liked her fraught conversation with her mother the first time she is caught staying out the night with Rio, but aside from that she makes little impression.

Westerns aren't my all time favorite genre, and yet there are several that I really love. But they all have something distinct or weird that makes them pop. There's no pop here. There's a treacly orchestral score behind all the conversations. There are a handful of action scenes/shootouts, but only one (a scene in which Rio is whipped by the sheriff and has his gun hand broken) makes any kind of impact.

This one is a meh.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:59 am

A road trip film (Read a Road Map Day, April 5): Lamb

I put this on to just watch a few minutes, and ended up not being able to stop.

A man named David has a fraught relationship with his elderly father, who dies at the beginning of the film. In the midst of his raw grief, David encounters Tommie, a pre-teen girl with a neglectful home life who spends unsupervised hours alone on the streets. On a whim, David invites her to spend a week with him at his family's old cabin. She agrees, and as more and more time passes the lies that they must maintain to stay "safe" and the tensions between them grow.

There are a lot of films out there where some bitter adult meets a streetwise kid and they fight and they fight and ultimately they make each others' lives better.

This is not one of those films.

To begin with, David's actions from beginning to end look an awful lot like a sexual predator grooming a potential victim. Wanting her to stay on the trip, David's behavior oscillates between seductive (staring at her and telling her that she is "perfect") and paternal. He repeatedly asks her at the beginning of the trip if she feels weird about what they're doing, if she actually wants to go home. But later on as she begins to show fear and frustration, he uses lies and emotional manipulation (that he will go to jail, that more time away will make her parents appreciate her) to keep her in the car.

What's was a relief to me (though not that much more comfortable to watch) is that the film is aware of his actions and specifically how they are impacting Tommie. This is so important. Yes, intentions matter. But when David drags a screaming, panicking Tommie into the bathroom because he needs to "get he cleaned up" after she spills coffee on herself, it's terrifying. And it doesn't matter if he's a creep or a "nice guy" because from her point of view this person who is so much stronger than her is dragging her into the tub and trying to pull her clothes off. From the beginning David is very physical with Tommie (in their first meeting he tells her that they are going to "trick" her friends by him pretending to kidnap her . . . and then proceeds to grab her by the arm and push her into his car, despite the fact that she didn't agree to his "prank"). His hands are on her all the time, and his idea that he's "saving" her quickly becomes something that is easily recognizable as abuse.

This was one of the most emotionally suspenseful films I've seen in a good long while. The performances from Ross Partridge as David and Oona Laurence are so, so strong. They feel like real people, and so the moments between them are incredibly loaded. Even in lighter moments, it never feels like it's meant to be enjoyably quirky.

I pondered the meaning of the title while I watched. Yes, the main character's name is David Lamb. But I think that perhaps it also means that Tommie herself is a sacrificial lamb--chosen by David so that he can exorcise and work through the unresolved issues he has with his deceased father. On many levels he is doing damage to her, but he cannot help (or does not try to stop) but follow his path to a destructive end.

This one is streaming on Prime and I would really recommend it. I'd love to know what someone else thinks of it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Apr 12, 2020 10:53 pm

A film based on a poem (National Poetry Month): Krysar

This is a Czech animated/claymation version of the Pied Piper of Hamlin poem/story.

This was SOMETHING!

At first, the film follows the original story: the citizens of a kingdom are plagued by rats. The townspeople are a nasty bunch, ruled over by an indulgent group of nobles. The people fight in the market. There is a repeated shot of a butcher killing cows with an axe. The rats dig underneath the city, popping up to steal food, money, and jewelry from the town. There are some memorable and horrifying moments like a rat bursting through a mirror or lunging through a market to steal food.

The nobles hire a mysterious man to lure the rats away. As the Piper works on the infestation, he strikes up a romance with a gentle wool-worker who is also being wooed by one of the nasty nobles. The Piper finally lures all of the rats to their deaths. Once again, the film takes a dark turn with the story, as one of the rats resists the magical command to jump to its death. The Piper overcomes the rat, forcing it to plunge to its death.

This is where the film takes a pretty different approach to the traditional story. In the original story, the nobles refuse to pay the piper and as revenge he lures all of their children away.

In the film, things go much much darker. The noble who was wooing the wool-worker shows up at her home with two of the town's guards. Climbing in through her window and forcing their way through her door, they rape and murder her in her home (a really memorable shot is the noble spilling his glass of red wine over her white nightgown). This final affront pushes the Piper over the edge and he casts a final spell, turning the townspeople into rats and using his spells to summon them to the deadly cliff.

I really appreciated this take on the Pied Piper story as something adult and horrifying. It's much more than just taking a classic tale and adding sex and violence. There is something cruel and corrupt about the entire town, and the rats seem more a symbol of this moral decay.

This one is available in a very nice print on YouTube, and I would really highly recommend it. It's about an hour long.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon Apr 13, 2020 12:25 am

Tak, you're on fire! Always enjoy reading about the obscure titles you sometimes come up with.
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