Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

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Wooley
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 5:01 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
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.
I'm a big fan of this movie, I've watched it 2 or 3 times just in the last year. Really fun. Cecil Kellaway is really funny as her father and yes Lake really shimmers.
I would go as far as to say that I wold sanction this movie as daytime October viewing and you know what a stickler I am about October movies.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 09, 2020 5:21 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 5:01 pm
I'm a big fan of this movie, I've watched it 2 or 3 times just in the last year. Really fun. Cecil Kellaway is really funny as her father and yes Lake really shimmers.
I would go as far as to say that I wold sanction this movie as daytime October viewing and you know what a stickler I am about October movies.
I liked it but did not love it. It's sort of a C+ for me. The lack of chemistry (comedic or sexual) between Lake and March knocks it. And when you watch the banter between Kellaway and Lake (even when they are just puffs of smoke on the screen) you get a sense of how much better it would have been with two leads that meshed.

The more I think on it, the more I feel like they really overshot the character of Wally as the straight man to Jennifer's wackiness. We get some charge out of him running into the fire, but he does nothing significant after that. He's a politician, but we get zero detail about why (or even if!) he'd be good at the job. Jennifer falls in love with him because she accidentally drugs herself, and there's no other reason given for her to like him.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 5:48 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 5:21 pm
I liked it but did not love it. It's sort of a C+ for me. The lack of chemistry (comedic or sexual) between Lake and March knocks it. And when you watch the banter between Kellaway and Lake (even when they are just puffs of smoke on the screen) you get a sense of how much better it would have been with two leads that meshed.

The more I think on it, the more I feel like they really overshot the character of Wally as the straight man to Jennifer's wackiness. We get some charge out of him running into the fire, but he does nothing significant after that. He's a politician, but we get zero detail about why (or even if!) he'd be good at the job. Jennifer falls in love with him because she accidentally drugs herself, and there's no other reason given for her to like him.
I don't disagree with any of what you're saying. If I'd had high expectations for this movie I might agree with you now and I will freely admit that most of what you say I agree with and did slow me down on the first run. It started off well enough with the opening scene but then, really, March fails to deliver (and it could just as well be the script) a Screwball protagonist to really care about the way a Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart or even Henry Fonda had. Screwball is not deep character stuff nor narrative-driven for the most part, it's about the comedy and the dialogue and the gags and all that (I wrote my final paper in my first film class at USC on "The Death Of Screwball", which was the actual title of my paper) so you don't really have to have well-written characters or more than the merest plot... but you do have to have actors that can make paper-thin characters likable and funny. And I agree March, as great an actor as he was, was probably not the right guy for this and he may not have been given enough to work with on his end. And Lake is luminous and she delivers on certain aspects of this witch suddenly waking up centuries after her own time, but I don't think she has the natural comedic chops to fully deliver either.
But what ended up happening is that the movie was simply funny and charming enough, particularly once her father re-enters the picture, that it kept me watching. And the movie gets funnier and better once the Screwball turn occurs (when she accidentally gives herself the love potion) and the movie really picks up steam from there and ends up delivering a perfectly quaint little comedy.
This became much more apparent on a re-watch some time later because now my expectations were set appropriately and I ended up really enjoying the movie.
I can totally understand how it is not enough for a lot of people, and certainly I would never compare it to The Lady Eve or His Girl Friday or The Awful Truth or Bringing Up Baby or anything in that category, but like I said, I ended up really enjoying the charms the movie did have to offer and that's enough for me considering all the absolute crap I do willingly watch.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 09, 2020 6:16 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 5:48 pm
But what ended up happening is that the movie was simply funny and charming enough, particularly once her father re-enters the picture, that it kept me watching. And the movie gets funnier and better once the Screwball turn occurs (when she accidentally gives herself the love potion) and the movie really picks up steam from there and ends up delivering a perfectly quaint little comedy.
This became much more apparent on a re-watch some time later because now my expectations were set appropriately and I ended up really enjoying the movie.
The interrupted wedding sequence was the highlight (the running gag of the woman singing the same song over and over being the highlight), and that should have been the climax of the movie. Instead they go into the stuff with the rigged election and continue to draw out the romance.

The movie should be about Wally embracing Jennifer's otherness, but instead it's about her wanting to conform to his milquetoast version of life. Hearing her character say "I must learn to be a good house wife" was awful. It's a comedy about a person giving up what makes them special to be normal and fit in . . . and all for the sake of a person who hasn't done much to earn her love (and, again, that love is from her being drugged). And in the end that's just what happens. In the final sequence there's no magic at all. She's been a good little wife and given him three kids, the end.

There's a cheeky, flirty vibe to the first third of the film (with Lake running around in nothing but a fur coat and boots) that slowly gets flattened as the film goes on and totally dies in the last act.

The movie is fine (like I said, it's a C+), but it's painful how obvious it is that it could have been much better.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 09, 2020 6:48 pm

A film set in space: Forbidden World

This movie was like a weird glimpse into the masturbatory fantasies of a science fiction loving man-child.

Mike is a "troubleshooter" who is sent to a planet where an out of control genetic experiment is endangering a research outpost.

This movie is not without certain charms. You show me a sex scene that intercuts with a man playing some sort of futuristic space clarinet and I'm all in. Some of the practical effects are fun (like when a woman is grabbed by a character whose hand then pulls off of his body), and there's a chain-smoking scientist who adds some personality to the mix. The gestures/homages/rip-offs of Alien are so clunky that they take on a kind of rag-tag charisma.

I know that there are some people who find the old fashioned "boobs out" stuff charming or enjoyably campy. I'm just not one of them. By the time the only two female characters are having a five minute discussion standing naked in a shower together, I was rolling my eyes. Apparently there are no bras, underwear, or undershirts in space (unless you are a male character, in which case you are dressed in three layers). I know that this is where I depart from the slavering reviews on IMDb, but finding any excuse to get a female character naked is not a commendation in my book. (And I know that this comes close to body shaming, but the male character who hooks up with *both* female characters is physically nowhere near their level, so there isn't any kind of parity when it comes to the sex/nudity). The fact that the woman are mainly used to scream and be hysterical or be talked down to doesn't help. When Barbara (you know, one of the scientists) suggests that they attempt to communicate with the creature, Mike snaps at her "That's a stupid idea". Only later it does work, though the film frames it as a "she asked for it" death.

Despite the film's general clumsiness, I did actually quite like the premise. Evolving alien beings/genetic mutations isn't exactly a novel concept, but it's one that allows for some great creativity in terms of creature design as the being morphs from one stage to the next. I do wish we'd been privy to more steps of the creature evolving. It goes from "jelly-like sushi wrapper" to full sized monster pretty quickly. Even the eventual idea that the creature is trying to genetically modify the humans to make them a source of food is pretty fun. There are some good ideas sprinkled here or there, but they aren't developed to any real depth.

I don't feel like I've ever seen anyone really praise this film, so I don't think that my tepid response is much out of the ordinary. I honestly can't remember why this one was on my radar. There's a general immaturity/clunkiness that occasionally comes off as charming, but mostly reads poorly. Meh.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 6:48 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 6:16 pm
The interrupted wedding sequence was the highlight (the running gag of the woman singing the same song over and over being the highlight), and that should have been the climax of the movie. Instead they go into the stuff with the rigged election and continue to draw out the romance.

The movie should be about Wally embracing Jennifer's otherness, but instead it's about her wanting to conform to his milquetoast version of life. Hearing her character say "I must learn to be a good house wife" was awful. It's a comedy about a person giving up what makes them special to be normal and fit in . . . and all for the sake of a person who hasn't done much to earn her love (and, again, that love is from her being drugged). And in the end that's just what happens. In the final sequence there's no magic at all. She's been a good little wife and given him three kids, the end.

There's a cheeky, flirty vibe to the first third of the film (with Lake running around in nothing but a fur coat and boots) that slowly gets flattened as the film goes on and totally dies in the last act.

The movie is fine (like I said, it's a C+), but it's painful how obvious it is that it could have been much better.
Yeah, I feel like you're bringing a lot of stuff to the movie. You're basically saying, this other movie that they didn't make is the movie I would rather have seen and that makes the movie they did make worse. Which isn't really fair. In this story, she actually IS a fucking witch and she curses his family for like 300 years and she wants to totally disrupt and destroy this nice milquetoast man who had nothing to do with her being punished for actual witchcraft and totally disrupt his life. That's the story. The hook comes when she fucks up and gives herself the love potion so instead she is totally devoted to learning to live his life to get him. Would it have been even more fun if, in the end, we got to see that the potion had worn off and they just loved each other and were learning to have a balance between their two worlds? Sure.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 6:52 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 6:48 pm
A film set in space: Forbidden World

This movie was like a weird glimpse into the masturbatory fantasies of a science fiction loving man-child.

I don't feel like I've ever seen anyone really praise this film, so I don't think that my tepid response is much out of the ordinary. I honestly can't remember why this one was on my radar. There's a general immaturity/clunkiness that occasionally comes off as charming, but mostly reads poorly. Meh.
Clearly you missed my write-up of it. So I'll try not to have my feelings hurt by your opening statement.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 09, 2020 7:26 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 6:48 pm
Yeah, I feel like you're bringing a lot of stuff to the movie. You're basically saying, this other movie that they didn't make is the movie I would rather have seen and that makes the movie they did make worse.
I'ms saying that the movie they have could have been just fine if (1) the male lead had more charisma/chemistry, (2) they'd more fully embraced the conceit of her being a witch, and (3) they'd made the decision to put the best sequence (the wedding) as the climax instead of the limp third act that it has.
The hook comes when she fucks up and gives herself the love potion so instead she is totally devoted to learning to live his life to get him. Would it have been even more fun if, in the end, we got to see that the potion had worn off and they just loved each other and were learning to have a balance between their two worlds? Sure.
That's not what I'm complaining about, though. I don't mind the idea of her being evil and messing up and actually falling in love as a sort of comeuppance for her years of cursing the family.

The problem is that her learning to be a "normal wife" includes absolutely nothing funny or interesting. Think of the sequence in Sleeping Beauty where the three fairies have to make a cake without magic. Think about the comedy in that sequence that comes from the fish out of water element. I can still vividly remember "one tsp?" and the part where they fold in the entire eggs, shells included.

If the hook is meant to be that she's a witch who has to learn to become a normal woman, then there should be some funny stuff form that, but there just isn't. There's literally one scene where she tries to figure out how to use matches. I'm fine with the first two thirds of the film: her causing chaos and then the ruined wedding. But the last act with the rigged election, the dad trying to put her back in the tree--all of that felt very unstructured and I felt my emotional investment in the characters lagging.

An evil character trying to not be evil is a classic way to mine laughs, and so is an otherworldly character trying to adapt to normal human life. I felt like the film fell short on both fronts.

But I'm by no means railing against this movie. It's meant to be light and for the most part it succeeds. I find it frustrating that the premise could have delivered a lot more humor and punch.
Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 6:52 pm
Clearly you missed my write-up of it. So I'll try not to have my feelings hurt by your opening statement.
Whups. Okay, convert me!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 7:29 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 7:26 pm
I'ms saying that the movie they have could have been just fine if (1) the male lead had more charisma/chemistry, (2) they'd more fully embraced the conceit of her being a witch, and (3) they'd made the decision to put the best sequence (the wedding) as the climax instead of the limp third act that it has.



That's not what I'm complaining about, though. I don't mind the idea of her being evil and messing up and actually falling in love as a sort of comeuppance for her years of cursing the family.

The problem is that her learning to be a "normal wife" includes absolutely nothing funny or interesting. Think of the sequence in Sleeping Beauty where the three fairies have to make a cake without magic. Think about the comedy in that sequence that comes from the fish out of water element. I can still vividly remember "one tsp?" and the part where they fold in the entire eggs, shells included.

If the hook is meant to be that she's a witch who has to learn to become a normal woman, then there should be some funny stuff form that, but there just isn't. There's literally one scene where she tries to figure out how to use matches. I'm fine with the first two thirds of the film: her causing chaos and then the ruined wedding. But the last act with the rigged election, the dad trying to put her back in the tree--all of that felt very unstructured and I felt my emotional investment in the characters lagging.

An evil character trying to not be evil is a classic way to mine laughs, and so is an otherworldly character trying to adapt to normal human life. I felt like the film fell short on both fronts.

But I'm by no means railing against this movie. It's meant to be light and for the most part it succeeds. I find it frustrating that the premise could have delivered a lot more humor and punch.



Whups. Okay, convert me!
That's fair, with a deeper dive into your meaning, I see what you're saying. Like I said, I find the movie charming, not brilliant, it's a trifle that I happen to enjoy, accepting entirely for what does work and not thinking about what doesn't, after an accidental second viewing, just because it made me smile a lot. Particularly the father.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 7:41 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 7:26 pm

Whups. Okay, convert me!
I still don't know how to multi-quote on this site.

I strongly doubt I can convert you, because you're right. It is totally somebody throwing things that a male at home alone who doesn't have to apologize for the things that excite him like sci-fi nerdery or boobs (and who has decades of watching schlock movies under his belt) because there's no one around to judge him can enjoy on its schlocky level.
I will try to share some of the non-boob-centric things that made me give this movie more credit than most anyone has and probably than it ever deserves.

...10 minutes passes...

Actually, after going back and re-reading my original write-up of the film, I find my position fairly defensible, so I'm just gonna re-post that write-up here (again, I don't know how to quote anything from another thread either):
Image
Ya know… what are ya gonna say about this movie?
I liked it. There, I said it.
I liked the look of it and the feel of it, liked the trippiness of it (which I really didn't expect), liked the sense of danger, liked the claustrophobia and the retro-futurism (at least it’s retro-futurism now).
Image
Image
And hell, I liked what they did with the Alien concept, they put some story around that and made it interesting. I liked the alien itself too. I’ve heard some people really trash the monster in this, but I thought they did a pretty cool job on the budget, especially when you throw in the weird outdoor scenes and then the part where the monster interfaces with the computer. I mean, he’s a bit like Audrey 2 had sex with the Xenomorph, but what’s wrong with that?
Image
C'mon, looka that guy, he ain't so bad.
I liked the characters and their ambiguity, that almost no one is a paladin or even a closet hero, really. I liked the actors enough for the most part. I liked that the “Pernicicous nonsense!” guy from Repo Man was in it.
Image
And while this movie is full of “the male gaze” (as a Corman film will be), I am a male and, as we’ve discussed in the past, I’ve always found excitement in the combination of horror/danger and eroticism (hence my love of Jean Rollin/Jess Franco-type films), so I can’t say that made me all that sad. I noted it, I’m glad we’re moving into an new era (wait til I get to American Gigolo), but I didn’t mind so much.
I didn’t know it was a Corman going in, but it was pretty obviously gonna be on the Corman level. I was expecting Starcrash levels of bad, but actually only got Battle Beyond The Stars level. When you think about a movie like Starcrash, so abysmally, absurdly bad, really this movie is nowhere near that low. In fact, I’d say that Starcrash actually makes this seem like a good movie. Honestly, I’d say this movie, because it’s kept so tight, fares better than BBtS. I’ve certainly watched worse and less-fun films on a Sunday afternoon.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 09, 2020 7:53 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 7:29 pm
That's fair, with a deeper dive into your meaning, I see what you're saying. Like I said, I find the movie charming, not brilliant, it's a trifle that I happen to enjoy, accepting entirely for what does work and not thinking about what doesn't, after an accidental second viewing, just because it made me smile a lot. Particularly the father.
The structural weakness really hit me because after the wedding sequence I needed to go do something and I thought "Oh, I'll hang in there, this must be the end!" and then there were 25 more minutes and it felt like it was all downhill from there. It's just the frustration of squandered potential.
I still don't know how to multi-quote on this site.
I open each thing I want to reply to in a new tab and then paste them all into the same reply box. Pretty quick and easy.
I strongly doubt I can convert you, because you're right. It is totally somebody throwing things that a male at home alone who doesn't have to apologize for the things that excite him like sci-fi nerdery or boobs (and who has decades of watching schlock movies under his belt) because there's no one around to judge him can enjoy on its schlocky level.
I will try to share some of the non-boob-centric things that made me give this movie more credit than most anyone has and probably than it ever deserves.
It sounds like you and I actually liked the same things about the film. I will agree with you on the claustrophobic nature of it (and how that's a good way to work with a low budget).

But when every shot of a man walking down a hall is centered on his back and every shot of a woman walking down a hall is centered on her butt . . . . c'mon. Just being very honest, those kinds of directorial choices say to me "This movie is not made for you." It doesn't help that the treatment of the female characters themselves is pretty disrespectful (like the hero walking in on a naked woman and just smirking when she asks him to leave or calling Barbara stupid for wanting to communicate with the creature).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 8:24 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 7:53 pm
The structural weakness really hit me because after the wedding sequence I needed to go do something and I thought "Oh, I'll hang in there, this must be the end!" and then there were 25 more minutes and it felt like it was all downhill from there. It's just the frustration of squandered potential.



I open each thing I want to reply to in a new tab and then paste them all into the same reply box. Pretty quick and easy.



It sounds like you and I actually liked the same things about the film. I will agree with you on the claustrophobic nature of it (and how that's a good way to work with a low budget).

But when every shot of a man walking down a hall is centered on his back and every shot of a woman walking down a hall is centered on her butt . . . . c'mon. Just being very honest, those kinds of directorial choices say to me "This movie is not made for you." It doesn't help that the treatment of the female characters themselves is pretty disrespectful (like the hero walking in on a naked woman and just smirking when she asks him to leave or calling Barbara stupid for wanting to communicate with the creature).
Yeah, I don't know if you read it before or after I realized I hadn't included the last paragraph of the write-up which discusses the male-gazery of the film. Like I said, I don't defend it but because it is in fact made for me, it is hard for me to get too mad at it when I'm home alone and there's no judgement of the fact that I do actually like the nude female form. I would like to say that the way the guy smirks when asked to leave by the woman he walks in on naked reinforces my point about how I like that the movie really has no good people in it, the "hero" is definitely not a good guy, none of the male or female characters are really good people, but it's really hard to say if that was the point of that moment or if it was just male entitlement. I suspect I know which you feel it is and I wouldn't argue much. But as I say in the last paragraph, I have to admit that I simply enjoy danger and eroticism mixed so if I don't have to apologize to my female friends for the fact that the movie is clearly not made with their agency in mind because I'm watching it alone, well, it's made for me, right?
I've been talking to female friends (believe it or not I actually have about the same number of female friends as male friends) about coming to realize how little of what's been available in film (or music or many available media) has been FOR women or fairly divided in assignment of valuable content to both genders. (I'm gonna totally jump the track on what movie we're talking about here for this point).
I really like the movie The Devil Wears Prada. I am a huge Meryl Streep fan. I am a big fan of Anne Hathaway as well. And I noticed this... Emily Blunt(?)... woman was doing a surprisingly strong job in a role that could have been kind of a throwaway. I also really like Stanley Tucci. I liked the tone of the film, I really liked almost everything about it. Except... the boyfriend character was written as nothing more than a series of motivations for Anne Hathaway's journey. He didn't act like a real person or a real man, his feelings and actions seemed to change to suit whatever her character needed to take the next step in her journey or whatever and he had no real consistent motivation or characterization and it really annoyed me.
And that's when it hit me. Oh! This is how women feel in movies all the time. Women, the women I know and care about, have spent their whole lives sitting through movies where the most significant female character acts exactly however the script needs her to for the motivations of the male lead. Even in movies where there's supposedly a male and female LEAD, it is the exception rather than the rule that the woman's motivations and actions are as genuine, as deeply written as the man's. But in most Hollywood movies, even really good actresses are just there to propel the main male character through his arc, if they're even given that much to do.
And it was like, POW! How have y'all... I mean... I just don't even know what to say. So we talk about it a lot and I'm learning.
And that brought us to a question, if more or less an equal number and quality of movies were made legitimately for women as men, would it be ok if those movies catered to the desires of those audiences?
We haven't gotten to an answer on that one yet. But I like to imagine a movie like Forbidden World is from a dimension where that is true and this was totally fairly and acceptably made for a mostly-male audience. And next door there was an equal or better film made truly for a mostly-female audience. It's not true, but I like to imagine it, because I did just enjoy the movie.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Sat May 09, 2020 8:57 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 8:24 pm
Except... the boyfriend character was written as nothing more than a series of motivations for Anne Hathaway's journey. He didn't act like a real person or a real man, his feelings and actions seemed to change to suit whatever her character needed to take the next step in her journey or whatever and he had no real consistent motivation or characterization and it really annoyed me.
And that's when it hit me. Oh! This is how women feel in movies all the time.
I had this same epiphany watching Supergirl, of all things. The Faye Dunaway character is a witch who has the power to send people to the Phantom Zone, but becomes infatuated with Helen Slater's absolute nobody of a boyfriend. So this handsome but completely inconsequential construction worker has a super-powered alien and a witch queen fighting over him and the whole time I'm thinking "THIS guy?? Why?" Then it hit me like a ton of bricks how many times I've seen this exact plot with the genders reversed. Being "the fairest in the land" is the only reason a girl needs for causing untold chaos. Like, why was Dracula so obsessed with Mina over every other girl in London, for example? Never even occurred to me to ask until Supergirl opened my eyes.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 09, 2020 11:08 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 8:24 pm
Yeah, I don't know if you read it before or after I realized I hadn't included the last paragraph of the write-up which discusses the male-gazery of the film. Like I said, I don't defend it but because it is in fact made for me, it is hard for me to get too mad at it when I'm home alone and there's no judgement of the fact that I do actually like the nude female form. I would like to say that the way the guy smirks when asked to leave by the woman he walks in on naked reinforces my point about how I like that the movie really has no good people in it, the "hero" is definitely not a good guy, none of the male or female characters are really good people, but it's really hard to say if that was the point of that moment or if it was just male entitlement. I suspect I know which you feel it is and I wouldn't argue much. But as I say in the last paragraph, I have to admit that I simply enjoy danger and eroticism mixed so if I don't have to apologize to my female friends for the fact that the movie is clearly not made with their agency in mind because I'm watching it alone, well, it's made for me, right?
No one has to apologize for liking certain bodies or sexual scenarios or any of that. I think that genuinely erotic content can be really fun in a horror film (as in, say, Fascination) and can enhance the themes. But I have to say I didn't find anything in Forbidden World erotic. It felt like a very juvenile imagination of sex and sexuality. I mean, two female best friends and they wash each other's hair in the shower? They go to confront a genetic monster wearing little bathrobes? Two super hot women are both all over the very average looking male protagonist? Puh-lease. I can enjoy films where sex and eroticism are presented in a creative way, even when the gaze is strongly male (again, Fascination). In this film with the tracking butt shots and nonsensical nude scenes it just felt like the movie going "Here, have some tits". It undermines suspension of disbelief. It wasn't organically a part of the narrative. To use a gender-reversed example, this is the same way that I felt about the out of place penis shot in American Mary. It was not a natural part of the story, and even if it could have been, the way that it was shot made it clear that it was there to be there.
And that's when it hit me. Oh! This is how women feel in movies all the time. Women, the women I know and care about, have spent their whole lives sitting through movies where the most significant female character acts exactly however the script needs her to for the motivations of the male lead. Even in movies where there's supposedly a male and female LEAD, it is the exception rather than the rule that the woman's motivations and actions are as genuine, as deeply written as the man's. But in most Hollywood movies, even really good actresses are just there to propel the main male character through his arc, if they're even given that much to do.
But it's one step further than that, because while there are throwaway or underdeveloped character of both genders in plenty of films, female characters are also much more often used as a vehicle for sex and nudity and/or to be threatened/harmed to motivate male characters. And beyond that is the cultural obsession with certain female bodies and a sensibility that men *deserve* access to those bodies. Think about how many people were more than happy to look at the leaked female nudes that came out years ago. I don't even want to ask the men I know if they looked at them. To me, if you looked at those images, you are a party to a sex crime. Looking at someone's naked body without consent is WRONG. I bet you most men would agree with this statement, and yet their desire to see Jennifer Lawrence nude was somehow more important than this basic standard of decency. Or everyone else was doing it, so it was okay? I literally do not understand. So it's never about one specific film, but more about the larger cultural context.
And that brought us to a question, if more or less an equal number and quality of movies were made legitimately for women as men, would it be ok if those movies catered to the desires of those audiences?
I think that the idea of making movies "for men" or "for women" is perhaps a flawed dichotomy. Every film has its own objectives, and the content of the film should be directed by those objectives.

I guess maybe a good question would be whether a male audience is capable of watching a film in which the sexual gaze is neither male nor female. I feel as though there's an element of homophobia that often accompanies the "traditional male gaze" that goes along with why male nudity is rarely presented in a genuinely sexy way, but more often as comedy or gross-out stuff.

And if we're going to address the gender disparity here, why not also the racial disparity? How many black, Asian, or hispanic heroes are there in horror films? A big problem with the male gaze stuff is that it's about the people making the movies just as much as it is the market they are aiming at.

If you had a wider diversity of filmmakers, you would naturally get a wider diversity of on-screen portrayals and gazes. I'll never forget the director's commentary for Freeway when the director, talking about a female character with huge scars on her face, said "I just love women with scars. It's so hot." And you're like, yup. People take the things they find sexy (or thrilling, or funny, or whatever) and that's what they put on screen.

But to come all the way back around, this diversity of gazes would take away the problem I spoke about earlier: the culture that is created around female nudity when most horror movies operate from the same point of view. If you had a wide range of perspective, there would not always be the expectation that the female characters get naked. It would shake up the template (and there is definitely a hetero-white-male-centric template for a lot of horror). Would I still find Forbidden World juvenile and cringey in this alternate cinematic universe? Yes, absolutely. It would still not be for me. But it also wouldn't be the 500th film I've where the top IMDb review focuses on the nude scenes as a main point of recommendation. It wouldn't be the 500th time I've seen women's bodies used that way. It wouldn't be the 500th time I watched the hero hook up with a woman more than 15 years his junior and so on. It would be not for me, but less annoyingly so. And it would also be easier for me to find things that ARE for me, which would lessen the sting.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 11:10 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 8:57 pm
I had this same epiphany watching Supergirl, of all things. The Faye Dunaway character is a witch who has the power to send people to the Phantom Zone, but becomes infatuated with Helen Slater's absolute nobody of a boyfriend. So this handsome but completely inconsequential construction worker has a super-powered alien and a witch queen fighting over him and the whole time I'm thinking "THIS guy?? Why?" Then it hit me like a ton of bricks how many times I've seen this exact plot with the genders reversed. Being "the fairest in the land" is the only reason a girl needs for causing untold chaos. Like, why was Dracula so obsessed with Mina over every other girl in London, for example? Never even occurred to me to ask until Supergirl opened my eyes.
Well, the painful activity now is to watch every movie this way. Pay attention to whether the "female lead" is really a fully fleshed-out character with her own motivations or if she really acts, regardless of how much screen-time she has or how good a performance the actor gives, just there to motivate the main male character, give the main male character more depth, or move the main male character's arc along. It's painful, as I've said, to see it now in so many of the movies you love and/or respect all throughout film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 09, 2020 11:17 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:10 pm
It's painful, as I've said, to see it now in so many of the movies you love and/or respect all throughout film.
When I worked at the video store my manager and I were restocking the shelves and a trailer for My Super Ex-Girlfriend came on and I was like "Gross." He asked why and I said "It's about someone violently terrorizing their ex. If it were a man physically intimidating a woman he broke up with it wouldn't be funny, would it?". Anyway, we got into a conversation in which I brought up the treatment of men and women in film and how often the dynamics between them were pretty messed up.

Like two weeks later he came up to me and said "You know, it's just not as fun when you actually pay attention and think about that stuff you talked about." I was like, " . . . sorry?".

There are a lot of problematic trends in film (and art in general) and once you start actually looking for them it's kind of a bummer. Like starting to pay attention to when there are no non-white characters of any real heft, or gay characters whose main focus isn't their sexuality. Or how often romances in films begin with a male character saying "I'm not going to hurt you."
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 11:22 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:08 pm
No one has to apologize for liking certain bodies or sexual scenarios or any of that. I think that genuinely erotic content can be really fun in a horror film (as in, say, Fascination) and can enhance the themes. But I have to say I didn't find anything in Forbidden World erotic. It felt like a very juvenile imagination of sex and sexuality. I mean, two female best friends and they wash each other's hair in the shower? They go to confront a genetic monster wearing little bathrobes? Two super hot women are both all over the very average looking male protagonist? Puh-lease. I can enjoy films where sex and eroticism are presented in a creative way, even when the gaze is strongly male (again, Fascination). In this film with the tracking butt shots and nonsensical nude scenes it just felt like the movie going "Here, have some tits". It undermines suspension of disbelief. It wasn't organically a part of the narrative. To use a gender-reversed example, this is the same way that I felt about the out of place penis shot in American Mary. It was not a natural part of the story, and even if it could have been, the way that it was shot made it clear that it was there to be there.



But it's one step further than that, because while there are throwaway or underdeveloped character of both genders in plenty of films, female characters are also much more often used as a vehicle for sex and nudity and/or to be threatened/harmed to motivate male characters. And beyond that is the cultural obsession with certain female bodies and a sensibility that men *deserve* access to those bodies. Think about how many people were more than happy to look at the leaked female nudes that came out years ago. I don't even want to ask the men I know if they looked at them. To me, if you looked at those images, you are a party to a sex crime. Looking at someone's naked body without consent is WRONG. I bet you most men would agree with this statement, and yet their desire to see Jennifer Lawrence nude was somehow more important than this basic standard of decency. Or everyone else was doing it, so it was okay? I literally do not understand. So it's never about one specific film, but more about the larger cultural context.



I think that the idea of making movies "for men" or "for women" is perhaps a flawed dichotomy. Every film has its own objectives, and the content of the film should be directed by those objectives.

I guess maybe a good question would be whether a male audience is capable of watching a film in which the sexual gaze is neither male nor female. I feel as though there's an element of homophobia that often accompanies the "traditional male gaze" that goes along with why male nudity is rarely presented in a genuinely sexy way, but more often as comedy or gross-out stuff.

And if we're going to address the gender disparity here, why not also the racial disparity? How many black, Asian, or hispanic heroes are there in horror films? A big problem with the male gaze stuff is that it's about the people making the movies just as much as it is the market they are aiming at.

If you had a wider diversity of filmmakers, you would naturally get a wider diversity of on-screen portrayals and gazes. I'll never forget the director's commentary for Freeway when the director, talking about a female character with huge scars on her face, said "I just love women with scars. It's so hot." And you're like, yup. People take the things they find sexy (or thrilling, or funny, or whatever) and that's what they put on screen.

But to come all the way back around, this diversity of gazes would take away the problem I spoke about earlier: the culture that is created around female nudity when most horror movies operate from the same point of view. If you had a wide range of perspective, there would not always be the expectation that the female characters get naked. It would shake up the template (and there is definitely a hetero-white-male-centric template for a lot of horror). Would I still find Forbidden World juvenile and cringey in this alternate cinematic universe? Yes, absolutely. It would still not be for me. But it also wouldn't be the 500th film I've where the top IMDb review focuses on the nude scenes as a main point of recommendation. It wouldn't be the 500th time I've seen women's bodies used that way. It wouldn't be the 500th time I watched the hero hook up with a woman more than 15 years his junior and so on. It would be not for me, but less annoyingly so. And it would also be easier for me to find things that ARE for me, which would lessen the sting.
But you will concede that a man and a woman may find different things erotic, no? Just because you didn't find any part of it erotic doesn't mean that it was wrong that I did. (That's not meant as any kind of dig or even retort really, I know you know what I mean and I suspect we can agree on that point).
Alright that's the only point I'm actually even challenging. You took this to a much broader thing than I was focused on, I'm really talking about whether or not it is ok to have some movies that are geared at men and some movies that are geared at women and then hopefully a lot of movies that are for everyone. I suspect the answer (and I don't mean your answer I mean the general answer) is no. I'm not sure it's the right answer though. Maybe it is but I'm not sure yet. I'm still asking these questions and thinking.
As for race, that's another discussion here. If we want to talk about Patriarchy and its effect on film, I can do that, if we wanna talk about WHITE male dominance in the arts I can do that, and they are both part of a much larger discussion, but that is a much larger discussion.

I have an honest question for you though with only the intent of getting your perspective, not to bait or provoke. Please accept that I mean that.
Would there be a "female gaze" on men in films where women had real creative control? And if so, what would it look like?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sat May 09, 2020 11:27 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:17 pm
When I worked at the video store my manager and I were restocking the shelves and a trailer for My Super Ex-Girlfriend came on and I was like "Gross." He asked why and I said "It's about someone violently terrorizing their ex. If it were a man physically intimidating a woman he broke up with it wouldn't be funny, would it?". Anyway, we got into a conversation in which I brought up the treatment of men and women in film and how often the dynamics between them were pretty messed up.

Like two weeks later he came up to me and said "You know, it's just not as fun when you actually pay attention and think about that stuff you talked about." I was like, " . . . sorry?".

There are a lot of problematic trends in film (and art in general) and once you start actually looking for them it's kind of a bummer. Like starting to pay attention to when there are no non-white characters of any real heft, or gay characters whose main focus isn't their sexuality. Or how often romances in films begin with a male character saying "I'm not going to hurt you."
Yes, it's all written from the (white) male point of view. Everyone sees the world through their own eyes and everyone justifies their own behaviors and their own narratives especially when they can't see that their behaviors are harmful or at least not positive to others because they can't actually see or feel through the other person's experience. This is really how most of life is and why there are Conservatives, but most people are like this, everyone is living their life and believing they're doing it right, it's just that the stories have all been told from one point of view. And once you see that you can't unsee it. All you can do is put it aside sometimes and try to just enjoy what is on the screen for what it is and hope or demand we do better going forward.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Sat May 09, 2020 11:52 pm

It's been ages since I've seen I Married a Witch but I'm with Wooley here - I just remember Lake being amazing and the film managing to blend the screwball and the fantasy elements really well. Don't remember minding the lack of chemistry or the age gap between the leads which would normally irk me as well, so clearly it does something right.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sun May 10, 2020 12:18 am

I was more bugged in Marwencol when the subject gave the director a figurine. Already was having issues with whether they were exploiting the subject for this or not...and I saw a red flag after that happened.

I think Another You did a good job in showing the fallout where the director started to disagree strongly with Dylan...particularly when it came to him taking advantage of other people's generosity (such as the bagels). If anything, I wish they would have been more honest about her starting to date him. I think it was just barely mentioned in passing.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 12:40 am

Wooley wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:22 pm
But you will concede that a man and a woman may find different things erotic, no? Just because you didn't find any part of it erotic doesn't mean that it was wrong that I did. (That's not meant as any kind of dig or even retort really, I know you know what I mean and I suspect we can agree on that point).
More broadly than that, I will concede that different people find different things erotic. A while back someone asked the women in our friend group if they watched porn with the sound on or the sound off and the range of responses on that point alone and the discussion it led to was fascinating. We can generalize what men find erotic and we can generalize what women find erotic, but it comes down to the individual. I don't think that it's wrong to find anything erotic, even things that are culturally taboo. I take issue only with (1) how we express our desires and (2) how our pursuit of our desires impacts others.
Alright that's the only point I'm actually even challenging. You took this to a much broader thing than I was focused on, I'm really talking about whether or not it is ok to have some movies that are geared at men and some movies that are geared at women and then hopefully a lot of movies that are for everyone.
But again, I think that when you talk about "geared at women" or "geared at men" you are talking in generalities. Are you asking if its okay to have films that only objectify women or only objectify men? I think that this goes back to what I said earlier about a film's objectives and how it realizes them. Portrait of a Lady on Fire had no sexy men or male nudity. It had many erotic depictions of the female body and plenty of female nudity. But the nudity was in line with the story that was being told, and the themes within the film of objectification/representation in art.

Maybe you're asking if it's okay to have movies that indulge in objectification or where "cheap titillation" is kind of the point. I don't know. I feel like to answer that question you have to draw a line somewhere that I'm not comfortable drawing. It feels like it means having to say "this art is acceptable and that art is not acceptable" and it seems to me that everyone would draw that line in a different place. I am only comfortable saying that nudity in films should come from actors/actresses who are giving genuine consent to be filmed that way and who have people on set whose job it is to protect them from exploitation. Beyond that . . . I don't know.
Would there be a "female gaze" on men in films where women had real creative control? And if so, what would it look like?
I don't think that there is a monolothic female gaze (or a monolithic male gaze, as evidenced by my Freeway example).

Far From the Madding Crowd was directed by Thomas Vinterberg, and yet I felt that the film really embraced the point of view of its female protagonist and looked at the male characters through her eyes.

It's interesting--usually when I suddenly know in my heart that a film was made by a woman, it's the treatment of the female characters and not the male characters that tips me off. (EDIT: in assembling the list below, I realized that a common thread is male nudity used to establish vulnerability, but not in the context of fear or harm).

Here are some possible examples of "female gaze" in films I've seen that were directed by women:

--In the recent Emma there is a non-comedic full body rear shot of the male love interest as he bathes. The shot is nicely lit in soft tones. It's not essential to the plot at all. Later in the movie, there's a comedic shot of Emma's butt as she lifts her skirts to warm herself at the fire. I thought this was great--butt symmetry, like butt-centered foreshadowing that they'd end up together.

--In Wonder Woman there's the semi-comedic/semi-sexy scene of Steve coming out of the pool naked. It gives his character vulnerability and also shows us Diana's point of view as she is neither upset or afraid being in the presence of a naked man.

--In Orlando there is a male character who is inferred to have been previously female and there's a sensual scene between the two of them in which the bodies are often deliberately ungendered.

--The romance in Beyond the Lights is seen as being mutually beneficial and stays away from the male character "saving" the female character. Frequent attention is given to the exploitative way that the main character is viewed by others. This is maybe more "female perspective" than female gaze.

--In Disorder the main female character walks in on the main male character while he is partially undressed and she sees wounds on his body. It at once shows his strength and his vulnerability. Like Emma, the scene is softly lit.

--In October Gale there is a May-December romance between an older woman and younger man. There's a sequence where she undresses him to care for his injuries, and it's kind of a beefcake shot.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sun May 10, 2020 12:41 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:17 pm

There are a lot of problematic trends in film (and art in general) and once you start actually looking for them it's kind of a bummer. Like starting to pay attention to when there are no non-white characters of any real heft, or gay characters whose main focus isn't their sexuality. Or how often romances in films begin with a male character saying "I'm not going to hurt you."
Funny, we were just now watching Singin’ in the Rain (a genuinely great movie!) and sure enough this is exactly how the romance gets started. This and the 10 seconds or so of white actors “blacked up” for a “native” picture are ... not great. This sort of thing is pernicious, too, because it really does have a normalizing effect. Gene Kelly is charming and funny, so it seems like it’s all okay, but really, nah. I still love this movie, but you gotta call this shit out.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 12:48 am

MrCarmady wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:52 pm
It's been ages since I've seen I Married a Witch but I'm with Wooley here - I just remember Lake being amazing and the film managing to blend the screwball and the fantasy elements really well. Don't remember minding the lack of chemistry or the age gap between the leads which would normally irk me as well, so clearly it does something right.
Maybe it sounds like I'm more down on the movie than I really am. The first two-thirds are really fun. But I stand by the last act being kind of a let down and by the disappointing exploration of her witchy powers. It should have just ended after the wedding scene!

As for the age gap, here's some context: the man playing her father is only 7 years older than the man playing her love interest. In fact, all of the men in the movie are basically the same age. The woman playing the fiance is 20 years his junior.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 12:51 am

kgaard. wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 12:41 am
Funny, we were just now watching Singin’ in the Rain (a genuinely great movie!) and sure enough this is exactly how the romance gets started.
Start paying attention to this phrase and you will notice that it is everywhere.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 1:04 am

I am sick and have been on the couch for the last 10 hours, and the movie marathon continues!

A film mostly set on a train: Terror Train

I really, really liked this one!

A group of college students plays a horribly cruel prank on a classmate. Three years later they attend a costume party on a train and begin to get killed off.

I will say that it's true that this isn't a horror film that has a lot of kills that are "set pieces". Many of the killings are just the killer stabbing the victim. Many of the actual deaths occur off-screen.

But much like a recent discussion we had about Friday the 13th Part 2, I absolutely loved the way that the film took the time to flesh out the relationships between the characters. There's our protagonist, Alana (Jamie Lee Curtis), who participated in the prank but was unaware of how cruel it would be. She's dating Mo, who belongs to the frat throwing the party. Mo is best friends with Doc, the guy who masterminded the prank and a total sociopath.

Doc is a pretty great character to have. He is so unlikable, and yet he feels incredibly real. He is childish and rude when a magician performing for the party does a trick that he can't explain. He's that guy at the magic show going "It's so obvious!" but who can't actually explain the trick. Alana observes early on "You can't have fun unless someone's getting hurt," and it's such a great description of a certain kind of person. Doc is studying to be a doctor, and that idea alone is chilling given the disrespect he's fond of showing and his enjoyment of power over others.

The film is also distinguished by the presence of some (relatively) level-headed adults--the men in charge of the train. There's a great sequence where the party-goers think that they have cornered the killer and one of the frat guys wants to go in after him. The conductor just calmly talks him out of it. You can feel the stress of wanting to control the situation and do the right thing, but the train is in the middle of nowhere and there's a killer aboard. It's nighttime and cold outside--how do you keep everyone safe? All things considered, the actions taken by the conductors mostly make sense.

I realized halfway through the film that I'd had the killer's identity spoiled for me years ago. That said, I'm not sure I would have guessed without that. I know some people have said that it's obvious, but I just disagree. But even knowing who the killer was, I was still really taken with the suspense. The film makes good use of the narrow hallways, small bathrooms, and confined spaces of the train to heighten the sense of danger. Early on Doc tells Alana, "You're always walking out of my parties--well now you can't" and it's a great bit of foreshadowing.

Alana is a fun protagonist. She clearly regrets her role in harming a fellow student. And we see her in the film as she's getting to the point of realizing that not only is Doc a real creep, but her boyfriend is one too. The romantic and friendship drama adds to the overall story of the film, and Alana's genuine grief at the killings (along with the conductors' horrified reactions) make even the "lesser" killings hit with some impact.

I could point out a plot quibble here or there, but I was able to shrug off any issues because of just how well paced and interesting I found the story.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sun May 10, 2020 1:06 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 12:51 am
Start paying attention to this phrase and you will notice that it is everywhere.
Oh yeah, no doubt. I remember back in the ’90s when I realized most male leads in romantic comedies were basically indistinguishable from stalkers (I think after watching Coyote Ugly). Not good, movies!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Sun May 10, 2020 1:13 am

Terror Train is good. Id be up to watch that again since it's been awhile.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 1:51 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 1:13 am
Terror Train is good. Id be up to watch that again since it's been awhile.
I was able to watch it on Amazon Prime. It's also on Tubi and Flix Fling, apparently.

I'm surprised I don't hear it mentioned more often.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Sun May 10, 2020 2:29 am

:shock:
Takoma1 wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 1:51 am
I was able to watch it on Amazon Prime. It's also on Tubi and Flix Fling, apparently.

I'm surprised I don't hear it mentioned more often.
And conveniently my brother have me the password to his account the other night.

I think I'd it as a fairly respected slasher, but it definitely doesn't get much attention anymore outside of horror circles
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 2:56 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 2:29 am
:shock:

And conveniently my brother have me the password to his account the other night.

I think I'd it as a fairly respected slasher, but it definitely doesn't get much attention anymore outside of horror circles
1. Hack account
2. Watch Terror Train
3. Profit
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sun May 10, 2020 6:50 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 1:04 am
I am sick and have been on the couch for the last 10 hours, and the movie marathon continues!

A film mostly set on a train: Terror Train

I really, really liked this one!

A group of college students plays a horribly cruel prank on a classmate. Three years later they attend a costume party on a train and begin to get killed off.

I will say that it's true that this isn't a horror film that has a lot of kills that are "set pieces". Many of the killings are just the killer stabbing the victim. Many of the actual deaths occur off-screen.

But much like a recent discussion we had about Friday the 13th Part 2, I absolutely loved the way that the film took the time to flesh out the relationships between the characters. There's our protagonist, Alana (Jamie Lee Curtis), who participated in the prank but was unaware of how cruel it would be. She's dating Mo, who belongs to the frat throwing the party. Mo is best friends with Doc, the guy who masterminded the prank and a total sociopath.

Doc is a pretty great character to have. He is so unlikable, and yet he feels incredibly real. He is childish and rude when a magician performing for the party does a trick that he can't explain. He's that guy at the magic show going "It's so obvious!" but who can't actually explain the trick. Alana observes early on "You can't have fun unless someone's getting hurt," and it's such a great description of a certain kind of person. Doc is studying to be a doctor, and that idea alone is chilling given the disrespect he's fond of showing and his enjoyment of power over others.

The film is also distinguished by the presence of some (relatively) level-headed adults--the men in charge of the train. There's a great sequence where the party-goers think that they have cornered the killer and one of the frat guys wants to go in after him. The conductor just calmly talks him out of it. You can feel the stress of wanting to control the situation and do the right thing, but the train is in the middle of nowhere and there's a killer aboard. It's nighttime and cold outside--how do you keep everyone safe? All things considered, the actions taken by the conductors mostly make sense.

I realized halfway through the film that I'd had the killer's identity spoiled for me years ago. That said, I'm not sure I would have guessed without that. I know some people have said that it's obvious, but I just disagree. But even knowing who the killer was, I was still really taken with the suspense. The film makes good use of the narrow hallways, small bathrooms, and confined spaces of the train to heighten the sense of danger. Early on Doc tells Alana, "You're always walking out of my parties--well now you can't" and it's a great bit of foreshadowing.

Alana is a fun protagonist. She clearly regrets her role in harming a fellow student. And we see her in the film as she's getting to the point of realizing that not only is Doc a real creep, but her boyfriend is one too. The romantic and friendship drama adds to the overall story of the film, and Alana's genuine grief at the killings (along with the conductors' horrified reactions) make even the "lesser" killings hit with some impact.

I could point out a plot quibble here or there, but I was able to shrug off any issues because of just how well paced and interesting I found the story.
I am also a BIG fan of this one. I think it's a very good slasher and deserves to be in the tier right below the genre-defining ones. Just my .02.
I did not at all get who the killer was I was thoroughly caught off guard and I thought the movie did some nice things to put me there.
I used to champion this movie in the old place.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sun May 10, 2020 1:29 pm

I already saw one for the "Train" category, but I'll add that one to my watchlist.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 3:47 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 6:50 am
I am also a BIG fan of this one. I think it's a very good slasher and deserves to be in the tier right below the genre-defining ones. Just my .02.
I did not at all get who the killer was I was thoroughly caught off guard and I thought the movie did some nice things to put me there.
I used to champion this movie in the old place.
Yeah, I was expecting something good and instead got something really good/great. For example, this is a film I would happily watch again.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sun May 10, 2020 5:27 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 12:40 am

But again, I think that when you talk about "geared at women" or "geared at men" you are talking in generalities. Are you asking if its okay to have films that only objectify women or only objectify men? I think that this goes back to what I said earlier about a film's objectives and how it realizes them. Portrait of a Lady on Fire had no sexy men or male nudity. It had many erotic depictions of the female body and plenty of female nudity. But the nudity was in line with the story that was being told, and the themes within the film of objectification/representation in art.

Maybe you're asking if it's okay to have movies that indulge in objectification or where "cheap titillation" is kind of the point. I don't know. I feel like to answer that question you have to draw a line somewhere that I'm not comfortable drawing. It feels like it means having to say "this art is acceptable and that art is not acceptable" and it seems to me that everyone would draw that line in a different place. I am only comfortable saying that nudity in films should come from actors/actresses who are giving genuine consent to be filmed that way and who have people on set whose job it is to protect them from exploitation. Beyond that . . . I don't know.



I don't think that there is a monolothic female gaze (or a monolithic male gaze, as evidenced by my Freeway example).

Far From the Madding Crowd was directed by Thomas Vinterberg, and yet I felt that the film really embraced the point of view of its female protagonist and looked at the male characters through her eyes.

It's interesting--usually when I suddenly know in my heart that a film was made by a woman, it's the treatment of the female characters and not the male characters that tips me off. (EDIT: in assembling the list below, I realized that a common thread is male nudity used to establish vulnerability, but not in the context of fear or harm).

Here are some possible examples of "female gaze" in films I've seen that were directed by women:

--In the recent Emma there is a non-comedic full body rear shot of the male love interest as he bathes. The shot is nicely lit in soft tones. It's not essential to the plot at all. Later in the movie, there's a comedic shot of Emma's butt as she lifts her skirts to warm herself at the fire. I thought this was great--butt symmetry, like butt-centered foreshadowing that they'd end up together.

--In Wonder Woman there's the semi-comedic/semi-sexy scene of Steve coming out of the pool naked. It gives his character vulnerability and also shows us Diana's point of view as she is neither upset or afraid being in the presence of a naked man.

--In Orlando there is a male character who is inferred to have been previously female and there's a sensual scene between the two of them in which the bodies are often deliberately ungendered.

--The romance in Beyond the Lights is seen as being mutually beneficial and stays away from the male character "saving" the female character. Frequent attention is given to the exploitative way that the main character is viewed by others. This is maybe more "female perspective" than female gaze.

--In Disorder the main female character walks in on the main male character while he is partially undressed and she sees wounds on his body. It at once shows his strength and his vulnerability. Like Emma, the scene is softly lit.

--In October Gale there is a May-December romance between an older woman and younger man. There's a sequence where she undresses him to care for his injuries, and it's kind of a beefcake shot.
Well, regardless of sexuality, I really mean movies where the main characters are men and the women in the film are supporting characters and the actions in the movies are geared more toward storylines that would more likely interest males vs. a movie (like DWP or Bad Moms or such) where the women are the main characters and the actions are geared more toward storylines or themes that would more likely interest females. That could also include sexuality/eroticism or whatever I guess, but I'm not putting that at the forefront of my question.

As far as female gaze, I guess I meant how would a woman want the camera to look at men that at least somewhat equates to the way men like their cameras to look at women (in our generalization) or is there such a thing? I'm keeping this heterosexual at the moment for the sake of the focus of the conversation.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 7:03 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 5:27 pm
Well, regardless of sexuality, I really mean movies where the main characters are men and the women in the film are supporting characters and the actions in the movies are geared more toward storylines that would more likely interest males vs. a movie (like DWP or Bad Moms or such) where the women are the main characters and the actions are geared more toward storylines or themes that would more likely interest females. That could also include sexuality/eroticism or whatever I guess, but I'm not putting that at the forefront of my question.
With any film there's a chance that it will appeal more to one gender than the other. There are contexts will men will naturally be at the forefront of a story and contexts where women will naturally be at the forefront. I think that's fine. But it goes back to what I said earlier about having a diverse range of people making movies so that a mix of those stories will be presented. Characters (main or supporting) should always be in a film for a reason.

As far as female gaze, I guess I meant how would a woman want the camera to look at men that at least somewhat equates to the way men like their cameras to look at women (in our generalization) or is there such a thing? I'm keeping this heterosexual at the moment for the sake of the focus of the conversation.
Again, I don't think that there's a monolithic male gaze. Different male filmmakers look at female bodies in different ways. Some feel more exploitative and some feel more respectful (IMO, of course). I think that male filmmakers look at female bodies in a way that appeals to them. (Watching director commentaries, you hear things like "I think it's so sexy when . . .").

I would expect women to want a camera to look at men in a way that is appealing to them. And that's hugely going to vary from person to person.

Something that's important to realize is that male bodies on camera are often male bodies that MEN like, not women. (This is also true in comic books). If you refer to research that has been done on pornography consumption among women, there are some takeaways like (1) women like it when there is a sense of equality between the male and female character, (2) it's better when there's more emotional investment in the characters, (3) women generally prefer a leaner look to a big muscled look, (4) women like to see the faces of people (men or women) in a sexy situation, (5) demeaning behaviors (spitting, hitting, manhandling, aggression, not getting verbal consent) are a turn-off for many (BUT NOT ALL) women, (6) there's a misconception that many women don't like nude male bodies, (7) women like communication/eye-contact, (8) sex can be an empowering act for both people involved.

It's relatively rare to see appealing male nudity in a non-comedic and non-threatening context, especially in horror but also just generally speaking. For me personally, I never like to see nudity if it doesn't belong in the story (*cough* American Mary *cough*). Following the principles outlined above would probably be more likely to give you nudity that would be appealing to a general female audience. It's an interesting question. When I complain about the way that female bodies are shown in film, I'm not saying that the solution is a ton more male nudity. I dislike female bodies being used as decoration in a film, and I'd dislike the same thing being done to male bodies.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 10, 2020 7:19 pm

A film with a bird's name in its title: Swallows and Amazons

This was a breezy, charming little film that was clearly aimed more at kids.

A family called the Walkers are on vacation with their mother (their father is a ship captain who is away at sea). The four oldest children end up sailing out to a small island. Along the way they cross paths with a rival group of children and get mixed up in a conflict between two sets of spies.

Overall this movie was very light and fun. My main complaint would be that the spy plot and the "kids on the island" plot are mixed together in a kind of clumsy way. Naturally the spy stuff is much better acted (because, well, adult professional actors) and it's just much more interesting, at least to this adult viewer.

Big kudos to the casting people, because the adults in the various supporting roles are a ton of fun, including Kelly MacDonald as the mother, Rafe Spall (one of the Andys from Hot Fuzz) as one of the spies, Andrew Scott as a rival spy, and Fenella Woogler as a local shop-owner/busybody.

I bet I would have absolutely loved this movie when I was 9 or 10.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sun May 10, 2020 11:53 pm

I thought Terror Train ran in the above average rails, not the great ones. But I'll agree that we do need more Jamie Lee Curtis non-Halloween horror love.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 12:28 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 7:03 pm
But it goes back to what I said earlier about having a diverse range of people making movies so that a mix of those stories will be presented.
Again, I don't think that there's a monolithic male gaze. Different male filmmakers look at female bodies in different ways. Some feel more exploitative and some feel more respectful (IMO, of course). I think that male filmmakers look at female bodies in a way that appeals to them. (Watching director commentaries, you hear things like "I think it's so sexy when . . .").

I would expect women to want a camera to look at men in a way that is appealing to them. And that's hugely going to vary from person to person.

Something that's important to realize is that male bodies on camera are often male bodies that MEN like, not women. (This is also true in comic books). If you refer to research that has been done on pornography consumption among women, there are some takeaways like (1) women like it when there is a sense of equality between the male and female character, (2) it's better when there's more emotional investment in the characters, (3) women generally prefer a leaner look to a big muscled look, (4) women like to see the faces of people (men or women) in a sexy situation, (5) demeaning behaviors (spitting, hitting, manhandling, aggression, not getting verbal consent) are a turn-off for many (BUT NOT ALL) women, (6) there's a misconception that many women don't like nude male bodies, (7) women like communication/eye-contact, (8) sex can be an empowering act for both people involved.

It's relatively rare to see appealing male nudity in a non-comedic and non-threatening context, especially in horror but also just generally speaking. For me personally, I never like to see nudity if it doesn't belong in the story (*cough* American Mary *cough*). Following the principles outlined above would probably be more likely to give you nudity that would be appealing to a general female audience. It's an interesting question. When I complain about the way that female bodies are shown in film, I'm not saying that the solution is a ton more male nudity. I dislike female bodies being used as decoration in a film, and I'd dislike the same thing being done to male bodies.
I wholeheartedly agree with your first statement.

I think we all know what we're talking about though when we sale "the male gaze".

Interesting, point 3, I was just researching this and what I found is that men prefer muscle to skinny, even if the muscular male is overweight, but do not like excessive muscle. I'll try to source that or I will at least read more on it.

And I absolutely get that the solution is not more naked men, that doesn't seem to satisfy anybody, but I wondered since the way female nudity is often shown in film (the male gaze) is there to titillate men and it usually works if they're honest, I just wondered if there would be a satisfactory female equivalent and what that could look like. Wouldn't even necessarily have to be on the nude male body it could be some other body parts or just having a dude like playing with cats for no reason.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 11, 2020 2:05 am

Wooley wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 12:28 am
And I absolutely get that the solution is not more naked men, that doesn't seem to satisfy anybody, but I wondered since the way female nudity is often shown in film (the male gaze) is there to titillate men and it usually works if they're honest, I just wondered if there would be a satisfactory female equivalent and what that could look like. Wouldn't even necessarily have to be on the nude male body it could be some other body parts or just having a dude like playing with cats for no reason.
I'm gonna spoiler text this, just because it's a bit long:
While I'm not like, the Lorax ("I speak for the women!!!"), I think that it's fair to generalize and say that female attraction more than male attraction depends on context. One of the studies I read implied that men are more easily able to ignore things in porn that they don't like (such as aggression toward a female performer, or a female performer looking sad/unhappy), while women are less likely to be able to ignore the unpleasant stuff surrounding what they find sexy. So while the "male gaze" in film can maybe more be spoken of in terms of camera angles, shots that show a body but not a face, etc, maybe the "female gaze" is less about the mechanical element of filming a male body and more about the context of that nudity?

I'll be honest and say that I liked the nude shot in Emma. It was beautifully composed, it was nicely lit, it was a physically fit/attractive person, the whole vibe was calm, there was no humiliation or anxiety associated with him being undressed. It was a nice moment with the nudity adding some sexiness to it.

I've said it a ton of times on here, but I highly recommend that everyone read Come As Your Are, the recent book about female sexuality. Something that it delves into is how women can have a split between physical arousal and mental arousal. Intense situations can cause something called "arousal non-concordance", which is where one is saying "YES" and the other is saying "NO!". A sexual response that feels positive is when both are in alignment. Since the mental state is a big part of female arousal, the "female gaze" may be a broader concept than just how a male body is put on screen.

Also, it always makes me laugh when men talk about the "real men" that they love in film. Especially when people go on and on about Tom Atkins, lovingly pointing out his "conquest" of Jamie Lee Curtis, someone who is 23 years his junior. Atkins, in my opinion, is more a male fantasy than a female one. (Check out this excerpt from an article about him: "He is one to always have a drink being consumed or readily available in the most suave way possible, and, as expected, he is quite the ladies man. Whether it be flirting with the pretty pathologist working at the morgue, or bedding the young Ellie Grimbridge, the daughter of the ER victim, with whom he is tagging along with on this investigation, no woman is immune to the charms of the Atkins.")
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 11, 2020 2:22 am

A film from or with Clint Eastwood: The Witches

This movie was such a mixed bag, and much of it not that good.

This is an anthology and, disappointingly, DID NOT CONTAIN WITCHES.

Each short centers on a woman. I really liked the first two and found the last three underwhelming and tedious.

The Witch Burned Alive
A famous actress is staying at a vacation house with some friends. Everyone is jealous of her beauty and all the men lust after her. They all get her drunk and then they basically take apart her outfit/makeup. I thought that this was genuinely creepy and interesting. It begins with two women taking off her fake eyelashes. Then they remove her hat and realize she has tape lifting the skin around her eyes. This progresses to her being groped so that they can report that her breasts are real. There's this wonderful cannibalistic quality to it, and it's really disturbing to watch this group of people taking advantage of a woman who is supposedly their friend.

Civic Spirit
This was funny and very short. A woman picks up an injured man, but it's just so that she can skip a traffic jam.

The Earth Seen from the Moon
A comedic short that I didn't find funny. A widowed man finds a new bride, then tries to kill her for money. There were some really funny images (like her finding a hand grenade in a pile of laundry) but it went on way too long.

The Sicilian Belle
A woman is insulted by a man, and so her father kills the man and his family? This one was like two minutes long.

An Evening Like the Others
This is the one that featured Clint Eastwood. While it had a few inspired moments it went on for sooooooooo long. A woman is upset because her husband is no longer sexually interested in her. The short switches between a conversation she's having with her husband and a series of outlandish fantasies that she has during their discussion. Some of the imagery in the fantasies was fun (like her pulling off a series of dresses, or him asking her to confess the name of her lover and her rattling off a ton of names), but generally I found it pretty tedious.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 4:24 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 2:05 am
I'm gonna spoiler text this, just because it's a bit long:
While I'm not like, the Lorax ("I speak for the women!!!"), I think that it's fair to generalize and say that female attraction more than male attraction depends on context. One of the studies I read implied that men are more easily able to ignore things in porn that they don't like (such as aggression toward a female performer, or a female performer looking sad/unhappy), while women are less likely to be able to ignore the unpleasant stuff surrounding what they find sexy. So while the "male gaze" in film can maybe more be spoken of in terms of camera angles, shots that show a body but not a face, etc, maybe the "female gaze" is less about the mechanical element of filming a male body and more about the context of that nudity?

I'll be honest and say that I liked the nude shot in Emma. It was beautifully composed, it was nicely lit, it was a physically fit/attractive person, the whole vibe was calm, there was no humiliation or anxiety associated with him being undressed. It was a nice moment with the nudity adding some sexiness to it.

I've said it a ton of times on here, but I highly recommend that everyone read Come As Your Are, the recent book about female sexuality. Something that it delves into is how women can have a split between physical arousal and mental arousal. Intense situations can cause something called "arousal non-concordance", which is where one is saying "YES" and the other is saying "NO!". A sexual response that feels positive is when both are in alignment. Since the mental state is a big part of female arousal, the "female gaze" may be a broader concept than just how a male body is put on screen.

Also, it always makes me laugh when men talk about the "real men" that they love in film. Especially when people go on and on about Tom Atkins, lovingly pointing out his "conquest" of Jamie Lee Curtis, someone who is 23 years his junior. Atkins, in my opinion, is more a male fantasy than a female one. (Check out this excerpt from an article about him: "He is one to always have a drink being consumed or readily available in the most suave way possible, and, as expected, he is quite the ladies man. Whether it be flirting with the pretty pathologist working at the morgue, or bedding the young Ellie Grimbridge, the daughter of the ER victim, with whom he is tagging along with on this investigation, no woman is immune to the charms of the Atkins.")
Thank you. That was, I think, the answer I've been digging for and I appreciate you taking the time.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 11, 2020 4:57 am

Wooley wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 4:24 am
Thank you. That was, I think, the answer I've been digging for and I appreciate you taking the time.
You're welcome! We did it! We fixed gender inequity in Hollywood! *high five*
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 4:58 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 4:57 am
You're welcome! We did it! We fixed gender inequity in Hollywood! *high five*
Sure we did. ;)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Tue May 12, 2020 2:40 am

A film featuring the media prominently: Soapdish

This was an over-the-top comedy about the goings on at the set of a popular daytime soap opera. Lead actress Celeste (Sally Field) is unaware that two of her castmates and one of the writers (Robert Downey Jr) are conspiring to get her off of the show. As a main part of this conspiracy, her old flame (Kevin Kline), an egocentric but down on his luck actor, is brought back to the show.

I really liked this movie and laughed a lot. The actors go all-in with the physical comedy, dramatic line readings, and soap opera mannerisms. Sally Field has some great set pieces, like a failed attempt to walk in front of a bus or walking out on a ledge to spy on her former lover. Whoopi Goldberg grounds things as one of the writers on the show who is on Celeste's side.

On the other hand, I do have to dock the film some major points for (SPOILERS)
the heavy dose of transphobia at the end. A character is revealed to have had a sex change. Hilarious! Of course this means that someone who kissed the person must now be disgusted and visibly nauseated. Worst of all is a sight gag at the end that implies that the person has . . . gone back to their birth gender? Despite the character having been unlikable, all of the jokes around the transgender character feel mean spirited. Think about the implications of outing someone as transgender on national television.
I really wish that the film didn't include that hurtful element, because it comes right at the end and it sort of soured the good vibes it had going.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Tue May 12, 2020 5:26 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 2:40 am
A film featuring the media prominently: Soapdish

This was an over-the-top comedy about the goings on at the set of a popular daytime soap opera. Lead actress Celeste (Sally Field) is unaware that two of her castmates and one of the writers (Robert Downey Jr) are conspiring to get her off of the show. As a main part of this conspiracy, her old flame (Kevin Kline), an egocentric but down on his luck actor, is brought back to the show.

I really liked this movie and laughed a lot. The actors go all-in with the physical comedy, dramatic line readings, and soap opera mannerisms. Sally Field has some great set pieces, like a failed attempt to walk in front of a bus or walking out on a ledge to spy on her former lover. Whoopi Goldberg grounds things as one of the writers on the show who is on Celeste's side.

On the other hand, I do have to dock the film some major points for (SPOILERS)
the heavy dose of transphobia at the end. A character is revealed to have had a sex change. Hilarious! Of course this means that someone who kissed the person must now be disgusted and visibly nauseated. Worst of all is a sight gag at the end that implies that the person has . . . gone back to their birth gender? Despite the character having been unlikable, all of the jokes around the transgender character feel mean spirited. Think about the implications of outing someone as transgender on national television.
I really wish that the film didn't include that hurtful element, because it comes right at the end and it sort of soured the good vibes it had going.
I saw this movie in the theater and a couple times on VHS and I remember really liking it a lot. I mean, obviously if I watched it multiple times in a short period. My buddy owned it on VHS so we must have liked it. I forgot about the moment you're talking about, that is unfortunate. It's interesting how things change.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Tue May 12, 2020 5:56 pm

Wooley wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 5:26 pm
I saw this movie in the theater and a couple times on VHS and I remember really liking it a lot. I mean, obviously if I watched it multiple times in a short period. My buddy owned it on VHS so we must have liked it. I forgot about the moment you're talking about, that is unfortunate. It's interesting how things change.
I could see this being a total favorite. Someone on IMDb said something like "I just put this on while I vacuum and clean the house" and I totally get that. It's funny and the actors manage to be charismatic and compelling while being total messes and total egomaniacs.

But that ending:
Montana is outed on live television as being transgender (something that is maybe meant to explain why she won't let Downey Jr's character actually sleep with her). Everyone acts horrified. Downey Jr's character, who has been saying things to her like "I'd love to get you on all fours" is then disgusted, wipes at his mouth, and visibly gags as he runs out of the room. Later we get a sight gag of a run-down theater where the lead role is being played by "Milton", which was Montana's birth name. That last part literally makes no sense. It's meant to be a jab at the character, but are they really implying that this person who had a sex change operation has . . . gone back to living as a man? Has gone back to using her male birth name?

Characters are more disgusted with this than they are with (1) the person who ABANDONED A CHILD or (2) the guy who chased after anything that moved, including a woman young enough to be his daughter.

The outing of Montana as transgender as her punishment for everything she's been up to is just so mean-spirited. It's also a completely unnecessary development.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Tue May 12, 2020 6:05 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 5:56 pm
I could see this being a total favorite. Someone on IMDb said something like "I just put this on while I vacuum and clean the house" and I totally get that. It's funny and the actors manage to be charismatic and compelling while being total messes and total egomaniacs.

But that ending:
Montana is outed on live television as being transgender (something that is maybe meant to explain why she won't let Downey Jr's character actually sleep with her). Everyone acts horrified. Downey Jr's character, who has been saying things to her like "I'd love to get you on all fours" is then disgusted, wipes at his mouth, and visibly gags as he runs out of the room. Later we get a sight gag of a run-down theater where the lead role is being played by "Milton", which was Montana's birth name. That last part literally makes no sense. It's meant to be a jab at the character, but are they really implying that this person who had a sex change operation has . . . gone back to living as a man? Has gone back to using her male birth name?

Characters are more disgusted with this than they are with (1) the person who ABANDONED A CHILD or (2) the guy who chased after anything that moved, including a woman young enough to be his daughter.

The outing of Montana as transgender as her punishment for everything she's been up to is just so mean-spirited. It's also a completely unnecessary development.
I can't argue with that. Like I say, I haven't seen it in at least 20 years and it was a different time. It's certainly very ugly in light of our more enlightened sensibilities.
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Captain Terror
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Tue May 12, 2020 6:37 pm

Real People was a TV show in the late 70s that featured various segments filmed around the country spotlighting wacky Americans. (A hog-calling contest in Arkansas, a guy that collects rubber bands, a woman truck driver, etc). It's colossally cheesy, but I'll put on an episode every now and then on a weekend when I want to take a nap. Nice dose of nostalgia, usually. Every third joke is about the gas crisis.

Anyhow, a recent episode
featured a married couple that were both having sex changes. Husband was transitioning to a woman, wife to man. The entire thing was accompanied by a laugh track, so a shot of the dad applying makeup, for example, is met with uproarious laughter. A very strange and grotesque thing to watch in 2020.
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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Tue May 12, 2020 6:49 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 6:37 pm
Real People was a TV show in the late 70s that featured various segments filmed around the country spotlighting wacky Americans. (A hog-calling contest in Arkansas, a guy that collects rubber bands, a woman truck driver, etc). It's colossally cheesy, but I'll put on an episode every now and then on a weekend when I want to take a nap. Nice dose of nostalgia, usually. Every third joke is about the gas crisis.

Anyhow, a recent episode
featured a married couple that were both having sex changes. Husband was transitioning to a woman, wife to man. The entire thing was accompanied by a laugh track, so a shot of the dad applying makeup, for example, is met with uproarious laughter. A very strange and grotesque thing to watch in 2020.
What I found really harsh about the Soapdish gag is that
she is outed on national television. So to me it didn't just feel like disgust with the character, but also that they were actually putting her in danger.

I know that it's not meant to be taken seriously. I know that the movie itself follows "soap opera rules", but the publicizing of her trans status just struck me as so cruel.
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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Tue May 12, 2020 7:48 pm

A film from Norway: Buddy

At the beginning of this film a young man named Kristoffer moves in with a friend and an introvert who owns the apartment. Around the same time, his girlfriend breaks up with him and he feels like a failure. But he always films what happens in his life, and his footage ends up being used on a TV show, where it becomes very popular. He has to contend with the effects of fame on himself and his friends.

Overall this was a nice little film. I'm not sure how believable it is that the Jackass-lite home videos of two bros would be such a smash hit, but whatever. Each member of the group has personal struggles, and being put under the spotlight of fame pushes them to confront those issues. Kristoffer's best friend has a secret child. The new friend who seems like an introvert actually borders more on agoraphobia.

I did think that the ending came together a bit too neatly, and that the problems were solved a bit simplistically. But the characters are likable and there is a sense of empathy behind all of the portrayals.

If you guys are still looking for something in this category, there's an action/revenge film called Escape on Prime Video.
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