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. » Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:50 pm

A Biblical film: The Ten Commandments

Pure fifties bombast. It's not my absolute favorite thing but I do enjoy it. We watched this as part of our Pesach week celebrations, even though, to be honest, this is a pretty Christian version of the Passover story (like, Moses did not hold a prequel version of the last supper). It took a few days to get our 7-year-old through it, but I will say that getting to the spectacle of the crossing of the Red Sea was worth it for everyone. It is a little odd how they have to kind of cram in the actual Ten Commandments bit at the end, but it works from a narrative standpoint. 8 matzos out of 10.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:57 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sun Apr 26, 2020 5:22 pm
I liked WALL-E, but didn't love it. I felt like I "got it", but it's not one that I ever feel the desire to revisit. To me it's kind of middle tier Pixar.
Yeah, same. My top tier would include The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Toy Story and Toy Story 2, maybe Coco and Monster's Inc. I also don't think I've seen a Pixar film I would call bad, just that there are some I've enjoyed less.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Apr 27, 2020 10:41 pm

I think if anything Wall-E went a bit too heavy handed with all the "Look how people have let life in space turn them into lazy flops".

But no film featuring that kiss in space and a love in classical musicals could be bad. I'll take this over the Monsters sequel and Cars.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:25 pm

Still adding another one with a possibility for one-two more down the line (perhaps tonight or tomorrow):

See a film featuring a road trip (April)
See an Irish film (April)

The Young Offenders (2016)

Two not so bright lads overhear that an Irish boat sank with 60-something bales of coke worth 7 million Euros and decide to take off. After all, this could well be the difference between having the life they desire and a bad life (the taller one has an alcoholic father who likes to steal the money he saved while the shorter one has a single mum who snaps at him when upset although to be fair, it's hard to be a single mother who has to also provide for two). But while eluding a cop determined to bust the taller one due to his penchant for stealing bikes while wearing a mask of a rival tough who's in prison. But because they're not the brightest, they have some misadventures waiting them on the road (and back home).

It got off to a bit of a rough start, but won me over as it went due to the directorial skills of Peter Foott which reminds me of a young Guy Ritchie or Danny Boyle. Whether transitioning from a funny moment to a more serious one or staging the chaotic fight climax to the perfect song, Foott looks like a real keeper. The lads kinda won me over as did the other interesting characters throughout the journey. Pleasant surprise. B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sat May 02, 2020 12:24 am

Saw 11 films this month:

Meh:
Macbeth (2015): Outside of some nice visuals and the two lead performances, a lot of this didn't translate into a good film.
Made for Each Other (1939): Maybe this was due to the Amazon description, but a lot of this almost felt like a B picture outside of the two leads. Too much melodrama, not enough comedy.

They were OK:
Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019): Outside of the Gidget pretends to be a cat, almost every other story feels and sounds predictable. Nice voice acting kept this humming, though.

Above Average:
Sister Street Fighter (1975): Some parts of this didn't wear the translation to 2020 well, but Sonny Chiba and Sue Shiomi fare well when kicking butt.
The Lorax (2011): Film feels a bit too busy by half, although it is funny in places and Betty White should do more animated films. Message seems to be lost at times.
After Winter, Spring (2015): French variation of the American farm film where they face challenges from the modern industry, but specialization may help them come back.
Jesus Christ Superstar the Musical (2018): Even on tape, this sounds incredible with an energy not seen since Grease Live. It's well sung for the most part, but there does seem to be some foot tapping during the third act (and Alice Cooper is the weak link, alas particularly since this was supposed to be a rock musical)
Ruby (1977): Attempts at comparing this to Carrie fail, but this supernatural revenge thriller does have a unique look and feel.
The Man Who Tried to Feed the World (2020): Film tries to take a look at the man who won the Nobel prize for creating massive crops of wheat in India and the after-effects of his efforts, but another 30 minutes or so could have fleshed this out and made it good.

Good:
The Young Offenders (2016): Not sure if I wanted to see this one after the start, but the film, like the lads, won me over. Really helping is director Peter Foott who looks like a craftsman in the making.
If a Tree Falls (2011): Documentary takes an even-handed look at the controversial Earth Liberation Front and one of its workers who's facing trial for ecoterrorism. Like a good documentary, leaves you with food for thought.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sat May 02, 2020 3:02 am

Hey, give me until tomorrow to post my final reviews and the next categories.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sat May 02, 2020 7:49 pm

Ok, finally, the last batch of films for April. As usual, finished in the nick of time but I'm glad to say that I had one helluva month. Here are my write-ups for this last bunch...

A film based on a poem: ANIARA
This film is based on a Swedish sci-fi poem of the same name. Set in a dystopian future where Earth has become inhabitable, the film follows the titular ship, which is transporting people to Mars. When space debris steers the ship off-course, the passengers and crew have to adjust to the new reality of possibly living their lives adrift in space. This was a huge, HUGE surprise in almost every aspect. Not only is the film well acted and crafted, but the scripts handles its themes of isolation, existentialism, and depression in an admirable way. The focus on the story is on MR (Emelie Jonsson), a worker at some sort of relaxing "spa" where passengers can enjoy visions of a better past. But although her story and performance are pretty good, what really left a mark with me was the eerily haunting atmosphere of the film which only gets bleaker and bleaker towards the last act. There are some notable time-jumps which might make you scratch your head at times, and some subplots are brushed over, but overall, this was an impressive film. Grade: I had initially given it an A-, but the way it still resonated with me days after, I had to bump it up to an A

A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title: MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS
First, thanks to Tak for recommending this one. The film follows the titular character (Marsha Timothy), a grieving widow that takes action in her own hands when a group of men steal her livestock and rape her. Overall, I thought the film was pretty good, with some neat craft from director Mouly Surya. He does a fine job of directing with some nice framing, and the use of long takes and wide shots. He is the kind of director that lets the camera linger for a bit, and sometimes more, on certain scenes. The performances are also pretty good, with Timothy conveying the impotence of her character in the face of her situation. The pace is a bit of a killer, as I felt it kinda dragged at times. That is probably a result of the director's choices of using wide shots, long takes, and a lot of silence... but the way it is split in "four acts" helps contain the events and smooth the way everything unfolds. Overall, a pretty good film. Grade: B+

A film with the word "Tree" in its title: A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN
I had this one on my plate for a while, so I'm glad I finally saw it. Set in the beginning of the 20th Century, the film follows the Nolan family as they deal with different issues, from financial struggles to marriage troubles, conflicts with near family or the growth of the children. The daughter of the family, Francie (Peggy Ann Garner), is at the middle of most of the issues as she finds herself torn between the strict and stoic upbringing of her mother (Doroth McGuire) and the more charming-yet-aloof nature of her father (James Dunn). I don't think the film is perfect, but as far as directorial debuts go, this is a very good one. As for the story, I wasn't as captivated by it as I would've wanted. Most of the performances are pretty good, but I didn't connect as much as I would've liked with the characters. In addition, there's a character that takes prominence towards the second act that feels very much tacked on just to fill some "expected" narrative. Still, I enjoyed it for the most part. Grade: B

A film from Ireland: THE SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE
This one was brought to my attention by a few people on Twitter. Based in real events, the film follows a group of inexperienced Irish soldiers led by Commandant Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan) sent on a peacekeeping mission to the Congo in 1961 that get caught up in a fight with French mercenaries and local forces. This is far from a complex film. Although it does try to present the different sides involved in the conflict, for the most part it avoids big political statements. Instead, it focuses on the action and the attempts to survive from the small group of soldiers against a much bigger enemy. In that aspect, director Richie Smyth does a great job of handling the tension and the action set pieces. As far as that goes, the film is as thrilling and nerve-wracking as you can expect. Some sequences might make you go "yeah, right!", but the fact that
according to the story, no Irish soldier died in the end
makes it all the more impressive. Despite some cringe-inducing lines and moments, Dornan is competent as the lead. There are also some solid performances from Mark Strong and Swedish Mikael Persbrandt, but the real star here is the direction. If you're looking for a war film with lots of action, then this is very much a viable option. Grade: B+

A film about the environment or related themes: DARK WATERS
Finished with this one a couple of days ago, also recommended by a few people on Twitter. Also based in real events, the film follows Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), a corporate lawyer that switches sides to fight against chemical behemoth DuPont, after it is revealed that they might be dumping toxic waste on the waters of West Virginia. To be honest, the story doesn't bring anything new to the table that we haven't seen before in most David vs. Goliath films. We have the reluctant attorney with the struggling abandonded family, the anxious law firm boss that is not so sure if they should continue with the case, and the egocentrical CEO that doesn't want to look his victims right in the eye. However, the film is elevated by the cast and crew involved. Ruffalo is pretty good, while Tim Robbins and Victor Garber have solid supporting roles as Bilott's boss and DuPont's attorney respectively. If anything, the film lacks a proper climax, there is no big trial with a stunning closing statement, and for the most part, the film takes a documentary-like approach as years pass and events just happen. That doesn't make it a bad film, but I do think the film lacked a certain "oomph" to it. Regardless of that, I found it very enjoyable. Grade: B


A Freebie! BAD DAY FOR THE CUT
This film came up on a list of "Irish" films as I was trying to decide which one to see for the "Ireland" category. Unfortunately, after I started it, I realized this one is from NORTHERN Ireland, so my apologies to my Irish friends. Anyway, this film follows Donal (Nigel O'Neill), a meek, middle-aged farmer that still lives with his mom. When she ends up murdered, he sets to find out those responsible for it. Like Siege above, this is not a very complex film. Overall, it follows the typical template of other revenge thrillers. However, there is a certain poignancy in O'Neill's performance that sets it apart a bit. The direction from Chris Braugh is also very good, with a nice combination of dark humor, bursts of violence, and more introspective moments. There are some twist and turns, but none of them are particularly mind-blowing. Still, the film ended up being a neat, tight little package. Grade: B+

And with that, I bid adieu to March.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sat May 02, 2020 7:52 pm

This was my final tally for April...

A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title: Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts
Any film that starts with the letters G or H: Hell or High Water
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 (#457)
A film from the 1930s: The Invisible Man
A drama film: Short Term 12
A Biblical film: The Prince of Egypt (rewatch)
A film based on a poem (National Poetry Month): Aniara
A film with Marlon Brando (born April 3): Superman (rewatch)
A road trip film (Read a Road Map Day, April 5): Abominable
A film featuring a zoo or animals prominently (Zoo Lover's Day, April 8): Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
A film with the word "Brother" or "Sister" in its title (Siblings Day, April 10): Step Brothers
A film mostly set in a submarine (National Submarine Day, April 11): Run Silent, Run Deep
A film about the environment or related themes (Earth Day, April 22): Dark Waters
A film with the word "Tree" in its title (Arbor Day, April 24): A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A film from Ireland (Independence Day, April 24): The Siege of Jadotville

Freebies for me! Parasite, Bad Day for the Cut


Overall, an impressive month with lots of pretty good/great first-time watches. If I were to pick a favorite from the bunch, I would be torn between Hell or High Water, The Graduate, Parasite, and Aniara.

As for the weakest from the month, easily Step Brothers.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 02, 2020 8:28 pm

Thief wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 7:49 pm
Ok, finally, the last batch of films for April. As usual, finished in the nick of time but I'm glad to say that I had one helluva month. Here are my write-ups for this last bunch...

A film based on a poem: ANIARA
This film is based on a Swedish sci-fi poem of the same name. Set in a dystopian future where Earth has become inhabitable, the film follows the titular ship, which is transporting people to Mars. When space debris steers the ship off-course, the passengers and crew have to adjust to the new reality of possibly living their lives adrift in space. This was a huge, HUGE surprise in almost every aspect. Not only is the film well acted and crafted, but the scripts handles its themes of isolation, existentialism, and depression in an admirable way. The focus on the story is on MR (Emelie Jonsson), a worker at some sort of relaxing "spa" where passengers can enjoy visions of a better past. But although her story and performance are pretty good, what really left a mark with me was the eerily haunting atmosphere of the film which only gets bleaker and bleaker towards the last act. There are some notable time-jumps which might make you scratch your head at times, and some subplots are brushed over, but overall, this was an impressive film. Grade: I had initially given it an A-, but the way it still resonated with me days after, I had to bump it up to an A
I've been intrigued by this one even since reading this article from the AVClub: https://film.avclub.com/a-sci-fi-film-t ... 1839946172

A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title: MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS
First, thanks to Tak for recommending this one. The film follows the titular character (Marsha Timothy), a grieving widow that takes action in her own hands when a group of men steal her livestock and rape her. Overall, I thought the film was pretty good, with some neat craft from director Mouly Surya. He does a fine job of directing with some nice framing, and the use of long takes and wide shots. He is the kind of director that lets the camera linger for a bit, and sometimes more, on certain scenes. The performances are also pretty good, with Timothy conveying the impotence of her character in the face of her situation. The pace is a bit of a killer, as I felt it kinda dragged at times. That is probably a result of the director's choices of using wide shots, long takes, and a lot of silence... but the way it is split in "four acts" helps contain the events and smooth the way everything unfolds. Overall, a pretty good film. Grade: B+
I'm glad you liked it!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Sat May 02, 2020 10:38 pm

Any film that starts with the letters G or H: Gator (1976) :down:
A film from the 1930s: Murders in the Rue Morgue :up:
A drama film: Long Days Journey Into Night :up:
A film based on a poem (National Poetry Month): The Poet and the Singer (cheating on this one) :-/
A road trip film (Read a Road Map Day, April 5): Lamb :up:
A film featuring a zoo or animals prominently (Zoo Lover's Day, April 8): Foxes :up:
A film mostly set in a submarine (National Submarine Day, April 11): The Incredible Mr. Limpet :-/
A film about the environment or related themes (Earth Day, April 22): Doomwatch :up:
A film with the word "Tree" in its title (Arbor Day, April 24): It Grows on Trees :-/
A film from Ireland (Independence Day, April 24): Without Name :up:
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sun May 03, 2020 5:00 pm

Any film that starts with the letters G or H: Hop

Did I mention that I have a 7-year-old? Yeeeeeeah, so this was his pick. The kindest thing I can say is that when they remade it as Sonic the Hedgehog this year it came out rather better.

A film featuring a zoo or animals prominently (Zoo Lover's Day, April 8): The Jungle Book

This is a decent outing from the latter days of Disney's golden age. It's not up to the level of their best films, like Pinocchio, but the animation is good even if the story is typically slight.

Among other films I watched during the month, the best of the lot were The Death of Stalin (god bless Steve Buscemi), Captains Courageous (classic filmmaking in the best way), and Malcolm X (the rare biopic that really nails it).

Edit: Oh, I guess Captains Courageous is a film from the 1930s. Anyway, it does a great job of developing the relationship between Harvey and Manuel--apparently Spencer Tracy gave Freddie Bartholomew a lot of credit for giving it credibility, which is fair, Bartholomew is excellent.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sun May 03, 2020 11:09 pm

Finally! Here are the categories for May...

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title:
Any film that starts with the letters I or J:
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501):
A film from the 1940s:
A fantasy film:
A film about mothers:
A film about Muslims/Islam (Ramadan):
A film set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May):
A film featuring the media prominently (World Press Day, May 3):
A film with a bird's name in its title (National Bird Day, May 4):
A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit (National Tourism Day, May 7):
A film mostly set on a train (National Train Day, May 10):
A film from Norway (Constitution Day, May 17):
A film from or with Clint Eastwood (born May 31):
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes:


To those "playing", sorry for the delay.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 04, 2020 12:46 am

On Prime unless otherwise noted:

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title: I can't recommend the ones I've seen that fit this, but I'm looking at either The Five Venoms or The Central Park Five
Any film that starts with the letters I or J: I am Not Your Negro; If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle; Images; Isolation (2005); Jin-Roh the Wolf Brigade
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501): I'll be finally watching Jeanne Dielman!
A film from the 1940s: Gaslight, Detour, The Amazing Mr. X, He Walked by Night
A fantasy film: Thief of Bagdad!; The Golden Child (nostalgia pick!); Nightbreed; Bill and Ted's Bonus Journey; Secret of Roan Inish (appropriate for kids); Prophecy
A film about mothers: Mother (Hulu); A Simple Favor
A film about Muslims/Islam (Ramadan): Facing Mecca I guess? Does the film have to be ABOUT Islam or can it feature Islamic characters?
A film set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): High Life
A film featuring the media prominently (World Press Day, May 3): His Girl Friday; The Program; Nothing Sacred
A film with a bird's name in its title (National Bird Day, May 4): Blue Jay (2016, Netflix)
A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit (National Tourism Day, May 7): Transit (France)
A film mostly set on a train (National Train Day, May 10): Transsiberian; The General
A film from Norway (Constitution Day, May 17): Thelma (Hulu)
A film from or with Clint Eastwood (born May 31): Good the Bad and the Ugly; Mystic River (Netflix)
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: The Square (Hulu); Parasite (Hulu)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon May 04, 2020 1:04 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 12:46 am
A film about Muslims/Islam (Ramadan): Facing Mecca I guess? Does the film have to be ABOUT Islam or can it feature Islamic characters?
About Muslims, Islam, or with Islamic characters, I guess.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 04, 2020 1:18 am

These would be my picks (a couple of these could change):

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title: 5 Flights Down (2014/Netflix)
Any film that starts with the letters I or J: Going with JD's Revenge (1976/Prime)
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501): Some Like It Hot (1959/Prime which is #335
A film from the 1940s: Shadow of the Thin Man (1941/Tape)
A fantasy film: Dragonheart: Vengeance (2020/Netflix)
A film about mothers: Your Mother Wears Combat Boots (1989/Prime); um, yep?
A film about Muslims/Islam (Ramadan): London River (2011/Prime)
A film set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): Sparks: A Space Tail (2015/Prime); not confident in this one.
A film featuring the media prominently (World Press Day, May 3): Sweet Smell of Success (1957/Prime)
A film with a bird's name in its title (National Bird Day, May 4): The Cat and the Canary (1927/Prime)
A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit (National Tourism Day, May 7): A Field in England (2013/Prime)
A film mostly set on a train (National Train Day, May 10): Road Train (2010/Prime)
A film from Norway (Constitution Day, May 17): Toya (1956/Prime)
A film from or with Clint Eastwood (born May 31): Tried Mystic River, but not downloadable so I guess it's Paint Your Wagon (1969/Prime)
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: Re-watching Taxi Driver (1976/Netflix); kind of a struggle to find titles that are on the big two.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 04, 2020 1:28 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 12:46 am
On Prime unless otherwise noted:

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title: I can't recommend the ones I've seen that fit this, but I'm looking at either The Five Venoms or The Central Park Five
Any film that starts with the letters I or J: I am Not Your Negro; If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle; Images; Isolation (2005); Jin-Roh the Wolf Brigade
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501): I'll be finally watching Jeanne Dielman!
A film from the 1940s: Gaslight, Detour, The Amazing Mr. X, He Walked by Night
A fantasy film: Thief of Bagdad!; The Golden Child (nostalgia pick!); Nightbreed; Bill and Ted's Bonus Journey; Secret of Roan Inish (appropriate for kids); Prophecy
A film about mothers: Mother (Hulu); A Simple Favor
A film about Muslims/Islam (Ramadan): Facing Mecca I guess? Does the film have to be ABOUT Islam or can it feature Islamic characters?
A film set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): High Life
A film featuring the media prominently (World Press Day, May 3): His Girl Friday; The Program; Nothing Sacred
A film with a bird's name in its title (National Bird Day, May 4): Blue Jay (2016, Netflix)
A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit (National Tourism Day, May 7): Transit (France)
A film mostly set on a train (National Train Day, May 10): Transsiberian; The General
A film from Norway (Constitution Day, May 17): Thelma (Hulu)
A film from or with Clint Eastwood (born May 31): Good the Bad and the Ugly; Mystic River (Netflix)
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: The Square (Hulu); Parasite (Hulu)
I'll recommend The Central Park Five...it's a look at five youths who did nothing wrong other than being out at the wrong time. Also dives into the prosecution's rush for justice and the press coverage of the trial and aftermath.

Will also recommend Negro because James Baldwin is a fascinating man and Samuel L. Jackson does a good job of narrating this.

The Golden Child? :rotten: (Insert Steve Carell screaming No gif here). If you're looking for a GOOD fantasy film, Song of the Sea is on Netflix this month and is also suitable for families.

A Separation would be a good choice for the Islam category, but not sure where it's streaming now.

His Girl Friday is an ode to journalism and has enough snap and starch for a dry cleaning company.

Despite my qualms with The General, it does fit the category and some of the humor does click especially considering when it was made.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is a nice choice and maybe you can help us with the debate whether it's the best film on the trilogy or it pales compared to part 2.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 04, 2020 1:30 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 1:18 am

A film from or with Clint Eastwood (born May 31): Tried Mystic River, but not downloadable so I guess it's Paint Your Wagon (1969/Prime)
Huh. JustWatch says it's on Netflix, but they aren't always accurate.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 04, 2020 1:31 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 1:28 am
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is a nice choice and maybe you can help us with the debate whether it's the best film on the trilogy or it pales compared to part 2.
Oh, it's easy for me:

For a Few Dollars More>>>Good the Bad and the Ugly>>>>Fistful of Dollars
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 04, 2020 1:36 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 1:28 am
The Golden Child? :rotten: (Insert Steve Carell screaming No gif here). If you're looking for a GOOD fantasy film, Song of the Sea is on Netflix this month and is also suitable for families.
Oh, don't get me wrong. Golden Child is very much a "the thing that was on TV all the time when I was 10" pick.

Song of the Sea is great.

For the fantasy category there's also: Pan's Labyrinth (Netflix), About Time (Netflix), Cosmopolis (Prime).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 04, 2020 1:50 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 1:30 am
Huh. JustWatch says it's on Netflix, but they aren't always accurate.
Mystic is on Netflix, just not downloadable to my Kindle Fire. :down:
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 04, 2020 1:50 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 1:31 am
Oh, it's easy for me:

For a Few Dollars More>>>Good the Bad and the Ugly>>>>Fistful of Dollars
Well, we agree on the film in last place. :P
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 04, 2020 1:51 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 1:36 am
Oh, don't get me wrong. Golden Child is very much a "the thing that was on TV all the time when I was 10" pick.

Song of the Sea is great.

For the fantasy category there's also: Pan's Labyrinth (Netflix), About Time (Netflix), Cosmopolis (Prime).
Pan's is another recommendable pick.

I saw Golden Child on video. Probably because it starred Eddie Murphy. Such a disappointment.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed May 06, 2020 4:22 pm

Any film that starts with the letters I or J: I am Another You

This one just happened to be on the IMDb watchlist that I'm trying to pare down.

This is a documentary film in three acts.

Nanfu Wang is a documentary filmmaker from China who documents her travels. While in the US she meets a homeless young man named Dylan. Fascinated by him, the first act of the film consists of Nanfu following Dylan and documenting his lifestyle as he sleeps in various parks and hostels, relying on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter.

The second act of the film involves Nanfu traveling to Utah to track down Dylan's family, trying to understand how the young man ended up in his lifestyle. She meets his father, a police detective who investigates sex crimes, as well as his siblings. She learns that Dylan experienced both mental illness and drug abuse as a teen, and the circumstances of him leaving home.

In the final act, Nanfu again tracks down Dylan in Florida to try and understand how he himself perceives his mental state. This time she becomes privy to the fact that he hears voices, and comes to understand that this (or other variations on mental illness) are common threads among the homeless community. In a memorable sequence, Dylan enlists several of his friends to create a dramatic reenactment of how it feels to him.

This was an interesting and empathetic look at homelessness and mental illness. This is one of those documentaries where the filmmaker herself is a strong presence in the film, and yet with her calm, curious questioning, Wang never feels like she's steering events or trying to manufacture drama. In one sequence, Dylan has Wang show her footage of him to his family and Wang picks up on the fact that Dylan's younger brother is growing increasingly uncomfortable and sad watching the footage of his brother.

A really neat aspect of the film is when Wang honestly discusses how her own biases impacted her perception of Dylan's situation. Wang describes the way that "mental illness" is used as a weapon against dissidents who speak out against the government. She admits that she created her own narrative about Dylan just not wanting to conform to the system. It's only once she moves past this bias that she's able to recognize his struggles and, more specifically, his coping mechanisms. (It's interesting, because before I knew anything about him having a mental illness I had noticed just how often Dylan was self-medicating with alcohol).

Another aspect is that Dylan's childhood having been in Utah means that he has a particularly strict social structure in which he operates. As his father explains, there's really only one "alternative" crowd around, and it leans heavily into drug use, something that doesn't help Dylan's mental problems.

Watching Dylan talk about himself is really interesting. At times he talks about the destructive aspects of his mental state--paranoia, hearing voices, etc. But at other times he asserts that he's not mentally ill, just sensitive to things "in the ether". Sometimes he will say that these things aren't real, but other times he will say that they are merely not perceptible to others. His girlfriend describes him as being "just really creative". I don't think that there's a correct way to think about mental illness--many disabilities (like autism or dyslexia) can come with advantages. Dylan is sensitive and expressive. It's very easy to see why people are drawn to him.

The last thing that I took from this film is something that Wang herself acknowledges toward the beginning--there is a certain privilege that someone like her or Dylan has, even when homeless. They are young, articulate, educated, attractive, charismatic, and friendly. Dylan's good looks and soft-spoken manner opens a lot of doors for him and endears him to both men and women. He is offered food and even given a free night or two in peoples' homes. These are things that most homeless people in the US (or other countries) would not be able to access.

I would really highly recommend this documentary. Wang's most recent film, One Child Nation is more widely known, but I think that this one deserves attention.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed May 06, 2020 6:29 pm

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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Wed May 06, 2020 7:38 pm

Do you have any indication as to how many listeners you're getting? (Or "hits"? Are we still saying "hits"?)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed May 06, 2020 7:46 pm

A handful per episode. The episode that got the most got 13, the ones that got the least got 2, but the average across all 10 episodes is 6. A lot of them are repeated listeners, judging from the locations (which is one of the stats I get), which is good I guess.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Thu May 07, 2020 1:39 am

Thief wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:48 pm
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501):
The Wicker Man (#559)

Bonus: I watched this on May 2, only to be reminded that the climax of the film is set on May Day (May 1).

My first viewing of this was a bit of a disappointment. The film's got quite a reputation and I think my expectations were not properly calibrated. Also, I don't think I was prepared for a "horror" film that is as bright and sunny as this one is (visually speaking). And let's be honest: are ANY of us really prepared for Christopher Lee in a Cher wig?

Image

But I was determined to "get it" one day, so when I found it on Netflix the other night I decided it was time for another go. So this was only my second viewing and this time, knowing what I was in for, I was fully on board. The climax is famous enough that you probably already know how it ends, but that only adds a layer of dread to everything that happens. According to the ol' Letterboxd, Mr Thief has seen this one already, but I'll recommend it to any of you who haven't.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu May 07, 2020 2:50 am

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title: Five Minutes to Live

Yes, I chickened out on Central Park Five because the last two films I watched were (1) a drama about child sex trafficking and (2) a documentary about homelessness and mental illness.

So here I am, once again trawling the depths of older films on Amazon Prime, and ending up with this little oddity starring Johnny Cash as a killer and starring the film's writer (Cay Forester) as the woman he takes hostage.

Johnny Cash plays, well, Johnny, a man who is hiding out in a small town after being set up for capture back in the city. He ends up as half of a team that plans to rob a bank by holding the bank manager's wife, Nancy, hostage. The title comes from the fact that the bank manager's home is a good five minutes from the police station, so that the bank manager will have to comply or risk his wife being killed.

Where to even start?

This is not a good film, but in a weird way it was very fascinating to watch. To start with, along the line of going with your strengths, the film frequently has Cash playing a guitar and singing. He literally brings his guitar to the hostage situation. Cash (and the writing) are weaker when Johnny speaks, but gets some decent menace from him just following Nancy around the house.

There's also some unintentional interest that comes from the sheer tonal whiplash from scene to scene. The film starts dark (albeit a bit campy) with the mob shootouts and Johnny dispatching his unfaithful girlfriend. Then it seemingly turns into a comedy as Nancy's son and husband reveal themselves to be complete garbage humans, complaining about Nancy's breakfast. (Her husband just straight up throws the bowl she hands him in the trash and I swear someone throwing away a bowl of food you hand them should be grounds for legal murder). Then there's some comedy involving an overbearing woman's league president. Eventually the husband leaves for work, leading to another reveal that he's been cheating on Nancy for a long time and is on the verge of leaving her for his mistress.

The middle stretch of the film is a real mixed bag. There is a genuinely kooky sequence where Johnny walks around the house with a fire poker smashing all of Nancy's collectibles. There's a great moment where the other robbers approach the bank manager and threaten his wife, to which he's like "Right, but suppose I didn't care if you killed her?". But then there's a lot of run time dedicated to Johnny threatening to rape Nancy which feels like it crosses a line of the established tone of the movie. There are like three different sequences of him pinning her down, forcing her to put on skimpy clothes, etc. Using attempted rapes as filler doesn't play well, especially when they try to combine it with borderline slapstick comedy. (There is a possibly unintentionally funny part where Nancy dresses up all sexy and gives herself a big pep talk in the mirror about seducing Johnny, only to walk out to him and as soon as he touches her basically go "AHH GROSS NOOOOOOOO!!!!"). It's really strange watching the sequences with Nancy and knowing that the actress is the same person who wrote those scenes.

The end, though, goes back to being pretty golden. Oh, there's some real sexist garbage in there, but it's so over the top that I was able to just kick back and enjoy the absurdity.

Should you watch this movie? Yes, please. I need someone to discuss it with!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu May 07, 2020 12:41 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 1:39 am
The Wicker Man (#559)

But I was determined to "get it" one day, so when I found it on Netflix the other night I decided it was time for another go. So this was only my second viewing and this time, knowing what I was in for, I was fully on board. The climax is famous enough that you probably already know how it ends, but that only adds a layer of dread to everything that happens. According to the ol' Letterboxd, Mr Thief has seen this one already, but I'll recommend it to any of you who haven't.
Oh yeah, I'm a fan. I just checked my Letterboxd rating (4 stars), but if you ask me now, I would probably bump it up a notch. It is one of the most unique film experiences I've had.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Thu May 07, 2020 1:39 pm

The Wicker Man is the movie that supercharged my interest in film. I was already interested but it was so bizarre in tone and genre-mixing compared to my mostly mainstream diet that it opened my mind up to the wider possibilities of cinema.

Which cut is on Netflix? It looks like it's the U.S. version? I have a preference for the "director's cut" but I enjoy each cut in its own way.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu May 07, 2020 1:54 pm

I know I've told you guys this story before, but when I worked at the video store, a woman came back with The Wicker Man and was like "This MOVIE was DISGUSTING! DISGUSTING!!". She was super upset. So (as was our store policy) I offered her a free rental of equal value. And she browsed around and came back with some direct-to-DVD torture-porn horror movie. I was like "Huh." I was relatively new at the job and did not have the nerve to ask what had made her so upset about the film. (Note: People did sometimes try to abuse this policy to get free rentals, but this woman seemed genuinely angry about The Wicker Man).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Thu May 07, 2020 2:02 pm

kgaard. wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 1:39 pm
Which cut is on Netflix? It looks like it's the U.S. version? I have a preference for the "director's cut" but I enjoy each cut in its own way.
Dammit, I forgot about that. I don't know which cut I saw. How does one tell?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Thu May 07, 2020 2:03 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 1:54 pm
I know I've told you guys this story before, but when I worked at the video store, a woman came back with The Wicker Man and was like "This MOVIE was DISGUSTING! DISGUSTING!!". She was super upset. So (as was our store policy) I offered her a free rental of equal value. And she browsed around and came back with some direct-to-DVD torture-porn horror movie. I was like "Huh." I was relatively new at the job and did not have the nerve to ask what had made her so upset about the film. (Note: People did sometimes try to abuse this policy to get free rentals, but this woman seemed genuinely angry about The Wicker Man).
I have something to say about this, but I'm at work. Give me a nudge in a few days if I forget to respond.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Thu May 07, 2020 2:07 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 1:54 pm
I know I've told you guys this story before, but when I worked at the video store, a woman came back with The Wicker Man and was like "This MOVIE was DISGUSTING! DISGUSTING!!". She was super upset. So (as was our store policy) I offered her a free rental of equal value. And she browsed around and came back with some direct-to-DVD torture-porn horror movie. I was like "Huh." I was relatively new at the job and did not have the nerve to ask what had made her so upset about the film. (Note: People did sometimes try to abuse this policy to get free rentals, but this woman seemed genuinely angry about The Wicker Man).
This story really warms the cockles of my heart.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Thu May 07, 2020 2:12 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 2:02 pm
Dammit, I forgot about that. I don't know which cut I saw. How does one tell?
I believe the "director's cut" is 99 minutes and the US version is 88 minutes. Looking at Netflix, the time matches the US version. That's the first one I watched; eventually I bought the Anchor Bay LE which has both versions. There's also a lost original cut but unfortunately that one appears to be genuinely gone.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Thu May 07, 2020 2:43 pm

kgaard. wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 2:12 pm
I believe the "director's cut" is 99 minutes and the US version is 88 minutes. Looking at Netflix, the time matches the US version.
Well YOU, sir, have just ruined my day! I hope you're satisfied!

Just kidding, this will give me an excuse to buy the Blu. To be honest I don't even remember which version I watched the first time, maybe 15 years ago. Could be I've never even seen the DC.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Thu May 07, 2020 2:52 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 2:43 pm
Well YOU, sir, have just ruined my day! I hope you're satisfied!
Image
Just kidding, this will give me an excuse to buy the Blu. To be honest I don't even remember which version I watched the first time, maybe 15 years ago. Could be I've never even seen the DC.
I'm sure I watched the theatrical version many times before seeing the director's cut (which, I'm not sure is really a director's cut? The LE DVD set labels it as an extended version). I don't recall all the differences--more scenes, obviously, but IIRC some material is also moved around. Both versions have the crucial sense of dread combined with utter batshittery that make it so memorable.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu May 07, 2020 3:00 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 2:03 pm
I have something to say about this, but I'm at work. Give me a nudge in a few days if I forget to respond.
For context, this was in a relatively conservative community. I think it might have just been the pagan, naked ladies dancing over the fire that did it for her. Which is weird because the film is clearly NOT endorsing paganism as being okay. But maybe she saw it as mocking Christianity? I don't know.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Thu May 07, 2020 3:21 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 1:39 am
The Wicker Man (#559)

Bonus: I watched this on May 2, only to be reminded that the climax of the film is set on May Day (May 1).

My first viewing of this was a bit of a disappointment. The film's got quite a reputation and I think my expectations were not properly calibrated. Also, I don't think I was prepared for a "horror" film that is as bright and sunny as this one is (visually speaking). And let's be honest: are ANY of us really prepared for Christopher Lee in a Cher wig?

Image

But I was determined to "get it" one day, so when I found it on Netflix the other night I decided it was time for another go. So this was only my second viewing and this time, knowing what I was in for, I was fully on board. The climax is famous enough that you probably already know how it ends, but that only adds a layer of dread to everything that happens. According to the ol' Letterboxd, Mr Thief has seen this one already, but I'll recommend it to any of you who haven't.
I absolutely loved this movie. It's been a decade since I've seen it, maybe I'll do it again in October.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Thu May 07, 2020 3:22 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 1:54 pm
I know I've told you guys this story before, but when I worked at the video store, a woman came back with The Wicker Man and was like "This MOVIE was DISGUSTING! DISGUSTING!!". She was super upset. So (as was our store policy) I offered her a free rental of equal value. And she browsed around and came back with some direct-to-DVD torture-porn horror movie. I was like "Huh." I was relatively new at the job and did not have the nerve to ask what had made her so upset about the film. (Note: People did sometimes try to abuse this policy to get free rentals, but this woman seemed genuinely angry about The Wicker Man).
I'd love to know. I feel like she had to be one of those Christians.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu May 07, 2020 3:32 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 3:00 pm
For context, this was in a relatively conservative community. I think it might have just been the pagan, naked ladies dancing over the fire that did it for her. Which is weird because the film is clearly NOT endorsing paganism as being okay. But maybe she saw it as mocking Christianity? I don't know.
Dancing naked ladies, the sacrifice of a Christian man, the "victory" of the pagans... probably that :D
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu May 07, 2020 10:37 pm

A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501): Jeanne Dielman

I'm sure that in the next few days I'll seek out some writing about this film.

The movie follows Jeanne Dielman, a woman living with her son (who I thought was fully an adult, but maybe was meant to be a high school student?). During the day she cleans the house, goes shopping for food, prepares dinner, and works as a prostitute to earn money. At night she sits with her son at the dinner table, trying to pry conversation out of him. In the morning she fixes him breakfast and then gives him money for the day. Over and over and over. Much of the film's runtime is devoted to watching Jeanne go through the entirety of a task, like watching her dust of ceramic figurines or knead a plate of ground beef.

There were a few things that struck me watching this film.

The first is that it really captures the way that two people can share a space but not understand each other all that well. Jeanne's son isn't a horrible person, but it's clear that he hasn't really absorbed how much of his mother's day goes by with little or no meaningful interaction. It can be hard, when you have a day full of human interaction, to remember that others do not have that same experience. So while he might come home looking for quiet time, his mother is hungry for conversation and interaction. Her attempts to get him to interact with her mostly come in passive form (like reminding him that there's no reading at the dinner table), but he clearly doesn't get the message.

The other thing that I thought about a lot while watching this film was the topic of labor, something that was really big on clickbaity sites a few years back. Basically, even in households where both partners work full time jobs, women tend to do more unpaid labor--things like washing clothes, cooking, childcare, etc. This sparked a conversation in my friend group, and it was interesting to hear how the different labor was broken up in their relationships. What's interesting in Jeanne Dielman is the way that the things she used to do as part of her familial role (taking care of a child, sex) have now become the way that she transactionally survives as a single mother. Now, there might be something to said about the "power" of a woman taking what is usually an unpaid role and turning it into something that makes money. But the irony is that she is still in that familial role, and every morning we watch her son take a big chunk of that money away from his mother without a single "thank you". What Jeanne does to make money doesn't help her move forward, it just keeps her standing in the same place. Part of what makes her life unbearable and mundane is that lack of momentum or forward movement. There is no anticipation of something better, no joy to work toward. The money seems to pass through Jeanne, from her clients to her son.

The final thing I'll mention about the film is just how much I enjoyed the way that it was shot. Jeanne is often shown as a whole person, but the clients who come into the house don't often get the same treatment. They often exist slightly out of the frame, reaching into the frame to hand her a coat or a baby. It mirrors the temporary, fractional role that they play in her home. The only real permanent fixture is her son, and it really drives home the isolation that Jeanne must feel.

Anyways, I have a lot more thoughts about this one. I think that I'll enjoy reflecting back on it over the next few days and maybe checking out some essays about it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri May 08, 2020 2:57 pm

A film from the 1940s: My Name is Julia Ross

At some point for last year's challenge I watched the film Dead of Winter (movie with "Winter" in the title). I had a very mixed response to it, and I ended up learning that it was a remake of the film I just watched, My Name is Julia Ross.

This film is short (65 minutes!) and to the point and I really enjoyed it.

Julia Ross lives in London, and she responds to an advertisement for a secretarial job. She interviews and enjoys a celebratory cup of tea . . . then wakes up two days later in a seaside mansion wearing clothing that doesn't belong to her. She find herself in a house with a man named Ralph, Ralph's older mother, and a smattering of servants/assistants, all of them insisting that she is Ralph's wife, Marion.

Despite their attempts to gaslight her, Julia stays firm in knowing who she is. But as she slowly realizes that the family plans to kill her (in order to provide a body in place of the wife Ralph murdered), her time is short.

This movie was just a lot of fun. Ralph is a genuinely menacing character at times, including an early sequence where he grabs Julia by the arm and she asks him to let her go and he pointedly holds her tighter while looking her right in the face. This contrasts with the mother's more cold-blooded approach, though there are some points where you see that she knows she is doing something wrong and even a few flashes where is seems like Ralph might go after his own mother. They are an enjoyably evil crew, and watching Julia trying to outsmart them is very interesting.

So let's talk about Julia. In a film like this, you of course think of what you'd do in that person's shoes. And Julia really does what she can. There's no way for her to escape through her high window. The fence is guarded, and anyone she manages to talk to won't listen to her because they've spread rumors that she is crazy. She is physically outmatched by Ralph and the other servants, and she never knows who is a real villager and who is on the payroll of the family. Ralph is so unpredictable (and so fond of both knifeplay and forcing her to "be nice" and let him touch and kiss her) that there's a constant sense of lurking danger even outside of the murder plot. Sometimes Julia's food is laced with sleeping pills (or, she later worries, maybe even poison), and so she's not eating or drinking. There are three different plans that Julia uses to try and escape, and I respected all of them, especially a double bluff that comes late in the game. Even when there are opportunities for escape that she misses, the film does a good job of making it clear why Julia wouldn't take the chance or wouldn't believe someone was genuine.

This just happened to pop up on Criterion Channel and it was a great film to watch on a rainy day.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri May 08, 2020 8:38 pm

A fantasy film: I Married a Witch; Deer Boy

I Married a Witch

This is a screwball comedy starring Fredric March and Veronica Lake. March plays Wally, a politician descended from a Puritan who denounced a woman as a witch and caused her and her father to be burned at the stake. The witch places a curse on his family that the men will always marry the wrong woman. When a lightning bolt destroys a tree that was holding the witches' spirits hostage, they emerge into the modern world and seek out Wally. Jennifer, the young witch, decides to seduce Wally to make him suffer, but ends up falling for him in the process. Meanwhile Wally is both up for election AND on the eve of his wedding to the daughter of the man sponsoring his political career.

On the plus side, Veronica Lake is an absolute goddess in this film. She looks amazing and is given all sorts of excellent outfits to wear. There are some fun examples of "movie magic", like characters lighting fires, summoning brooms, or riding up a bannister. The whole film has a light and playful feeling.

On the downside, there's a lack of chemistry between March and Lake. The IMDb trivia section says that they didn't like each other, and there's not even fun "hate charisma" that you can sometimes get. Jennifer is a funny and irreverent character, but Wally is just flat. The best thing you can say is that he seems "nice enough," but I really struggled to care about him or his happiness. It doesn't help that he's literally twice her age (he is 45, she is 23) and that, you know, this young woman was BURNED ALIVE.

It's also kind of sad, as per the era in which it was filmed, that Jennifer turns into someone who just wants to be someone's wife. She twice says "Oh, yes, I must learn to be a normal housewife." This woman can light fires with her MIND, and the movie's idea of a happy ending is that she will be able to use a box of matches. Frankly Wally is such a bland bowl of mush that watching someone give up everything that is unique and special about her for him is just sad.

There's a fun supporting character in the form of Jennifer's father, Daniel, who tries to get in the way of the couple's love. The best scenes are those in which all three of them are interacting.

There is a stand-out funny running joke where the wedding keeps getting interrupted and the musician at the wedding keeps restarting her operatic rendition of "I love you truly." It's an almost modern version of taking a joke past where it's funny and then so far that it becomes funny again.

This was light fun, but without any real sexual or romantic chemistry between the two leads it kind of fizzles.

Deer Boy

This was a short about a boy who is born with antlers, and his out of place feelings in his family where his father is a hunter. The whole thing feels highly allegorical as the boy's father literally takes a file and cuts off his son's horns.

It was beautifully shot and I really liked the sound design.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Slentert » Fri May 08, 2020 8:58 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 8:38 pm
Deer Boy

This was a short about a boy who is born with antlers, and his out of place feelings in his family where his father is a hunter. The whole thing feels highly allegorical as the boy's father literally takes a file and cuts off his son's horns.

It was beautifully shot and I really liked the sound design.
I quite enjoyed this one as well.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Fri May 08, 2020 9:27 pm

A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501): 885. Safe

This really hit me where I once lived and where I live now. Back in the mid-'90s when Safe was released I was dating a woman who suffered from multiple chemical sensitivity--the effect it had on her was somewhat different from what happens to Carol (Julianne Moore) in the movie, but its overall impression was very much the same. A scene with aluminum-covered flooring triggered some intense memories. Safe is more a less a horror movie, but is it psychological horror or body horror? The physiological effects of this illness are very real (something I can attest to, at least second-hand) but is the cause external, environmental or internal, psychological? Without going into detail, how the film approaches that question is one of its great strengths. The theme of disconnection and isolation, and the burdens of uncertainty that accompany sudden illness, will now seem familiar to, well, just about everyone now. This one is on Criterion just through this month.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri May 08, 2020 9:49 pm

Slentert wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 8:58 pm
I quite enjoyed this one as well.
My only complaint was the way that the film felt (maybe this is just my point of view) like an allegory about sexuality. Something about the father imposing the hunting culture on the boy, trying to take away his external differences, and responding negatively to the boy's sensitivity.

I also really don't care for the film's line about "how every man kills the thing he loves". What does that even mean?
kgaard. wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:27 pm
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501): 885. Safe

This really hit me where I once lived and where I live now. Back in the mid-'90s when Safe was released I was dating a woman who suffered from multiple chemical sensitivity--the effect it had on her was somewhat different from what happens to Carol (Julianne Moore) in the movie, but its overall impression was very much the same. A scene with aluminum-covered flooring triggered some intense memories. Safe is more a less a horror movie, but is it psychological horror or body horror? The physiological effects of this illness are very real (something I can attest to, at least second-hand) but is the cause external, environmental or internal, psychological? Without going into detail, how the film approaches that question is one of its great strengths. The theme of disconnection and isolation, and the burdens of uncertainty that accompany sudden illness, will now seem familiar to, well, just about everyone now. This one is on Criterion just through this month.
I'm excited to watch this one also. I have a co-worker who has chronic pain. It has been diagnosed as fibromyalgia, but she spent years with doctors telling her that it was all in her head.

In the last few years I had some serious issues with vertigo and went to a doctor and had a really frustrating experience of being told that it was all in my head and that I needed to just "relax". (The visit also included some incredibly non-relevant questions about my sex life which he decided to ask while I was recovering from a positional vertigo test. When I later asked another doctor about having done this test he was like "Um, no one does that test anymore." Weirdly, the positional test confirmed exactly what I'd described and yet I was still told it was psychological. SIGH!) But actually I had a misalignment in my neck and was later able to solve the issue with a combination of massage therapy and physical therapy. However, there was this weird middle period of the whole thing where I kept wondering "Is this just my imagination? Am I just too stressed? Could being stressed really be making the whole room turn sideways?". It was a confusing place to be, mentally and emotionally. And while I haven't seen Safe, I did read a really good write-up of it a few years ago and I kept thinking of it while I was going through the whole ordeal.
The physiological effects of this illness are very real (something I can attest to, at least second-hand) but is the cause external, environmental or internal, psychological?
I think that the most nefarious answer is that it could be a combination of those factors.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sat May 09, 2020 12:27 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 4:22 pm
Any film that starts with the letters I or J: I am Another You

This one just happened to be on the IMDb watchlist that I'm trying to pare down.

This is a documentary film in three acts.

Nanfu Wang is a documentary filmmaker from China who documents her travels. While in the US she meets a homeless young man named Dylan. Fascinated by him, the first act of the film consists of Nanfu following Dylan and documenting his lifestyle as he sleeps in various parks and hostels, relying on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter.

The second act of the film involves Nanfu traveling to Utah to track down Dylan's family, trying to understand how the young man ended up in his lifestyle. She meets his father, a police detective who investigates sex crimes, as well as his siblings. She learns that Dylan experienced both mental illness and drug abuse as a teen, and the circumstances of him leaving home.

In the final act, Nanfu again tracks down Dylan in Florida to try and understand how he himself perceives his mental state. This time she becomes privy to the fact that he hears voices, and comes to understand that this (or other variations on mental illness) are common threads among the homeless community. In a memorable sequence, Dylan enlists several of his friends to create a dramatic reenactment of how it feels to him.

This was an interesting and empathetic look at homelessness and mental illness. This is one of those documentaries where the filmmaker herself is a strong presence in the film, and yet with her calm, curious questioning, Wang never feels like she's steering events or trying to manufacture drama. In one sequence, Dylan has Wang show her footage of him to his family and Wang picks up on the fact that Dylan's younger brother is growing increasingly uncomfortable and sad watching the footage of his brother.

A really neat aspect of the film is when Wang honestly discusses how her own biases impacted her perception of Dylan's situation. Wang describes the way that "mental illness" is used as a weapon against dissidents who speak out against the government. She admits that she created her own narrative about Dylan just not wanting to conform to the system. It's only once she moves past this bias that she's able to recognize his struggles and, more specifically, his coping mechanisms. (It's interesting, because before I knew anything about him having a mental illness I had noticed just how often Dylan was self-medicating with alcohol).

Another aspect is that Dylan's childhood having been in Utah means that he has a particularly strict social structure in which he operates. As his father explains, there's really only one "alternative" crowd around, and it leans heavily into drug use, something that doesn't help Dylan's mental problems.

Watching Dylan talk about himself is really interesting. At times he talks about the destructive aspects of his mental state--paranoia, hearing voices, etc. But at other times he asserts that he's not mentally ill, just sensitive to things "in the ether". Sometimes he will say that these things aren't real, but other times he will say that they are merely not perceptible to others. His girlfriend describes him as being "just really creative". I don't think that there's a correct way to think about mental illness--many disabilities (like autism or dyslexia) can come with advantages. Dylan is sensitive and expressive. It's very easy to see why people are drawn to him.

The last thing that I took from this film is something that Wang herself acknowledges toward the beginning--there is a certain privilege that someone like her or Dylan has, even when homeless. They are young, articulate, educated, attractive, charismatic, and friendly. Dylan's good looks and soft-spoken manner opens a lot of doors for him and endears him to both men and women. He is offered food and even given a free night or two in peoples' homes. These are things that most homeless people in the US (or other countries) would not be able to access.

I would really highly recommend this documentary. Wang's most recent film, One Child Nation is more widely known, but I think that this one deserves attention.
Welcome to the show. Saw this one a month or two ago when it was on Independent Lens.

I think you were a bit more positive on it (I think my opinion on the closeness Wang had with Dylan kind of crossed the objectivity line), but that part with Dylan and the people was really interesting.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sat May 09, 2020 12:34 am

Watch a film with a bird in the title (May)

The Cat and the Canary (1926)

Twenty years after a man dies, a bunch of relatives head over to his place for the reading of the will. A nice young woman (and distant relative) gets the estate, but there's a catch: If she's proven to be insane by a doctor in the morning, then it goes to a person that is in a second envelope. Strange and deadly things start to happen; could the ghost of the man be responsible...or could it be a mental patient that may be roaming the grounds?

Nice intertitle uses, solid acting for 1926, and a short runtime keep things moving until the early morning. Kind of liked the sweet nature flowing between the main girl and this guy with glasses who'd is probably the second lead. Brave he is not, but when she's threatened, he steps up into action. Although a bit difficult to tell two people apart based on who had a striped suit or who did not, this mystery/thriller based on a stage play runs well enough even with characters like Mammy Pleasant (surprise, she's white).

I thought this was well done and it's available on Prime for those inclined (the runtime is a bit under 70 minutes, btw). B or B-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 09, 2020 3:26 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 12:27 am
Welcome to the show. Saw this one a month or two ago when it was on Independent Lens.

I think you were a bit more positive on it (I think my opinion on the closeness Wang had with Dylan kind of crossed the objectivity line), but that part with Dylan and the people was really interesting.
Wang was so upfront about her own feelings that I felt it served as a documentary about Dylan but also about Wang and cultural relativism. She's so expressive about how she interprets what she sees. I saw them as both being the subjects. Honestly, when the filmmaker is involved in the story I would prefer that they be honest about it such as Wang is here. I think that it's more a personal essay than an "objective documentary"-and I don't think that it ever pretends to be objective. Wang starts the film with a personal account.

Unlike, for example, The Staircase where I later found out that one of the filmmakers was DATING the murder suspect.
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