Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

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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 7:59 pm

Any film that starts with the letters I or J:

In The Tall Grass

From a story by Stephen King (meh) and directed by Vincenzo Natali (yay!).
This one's about a field of tall grass and some folks that find themselves trapped in it. Within this field the laws of time do not apply, formerly dead people find themselves alive, etc. It's the kind of thing that should be a good fit for the director of Cube, and it's kind of a fun brain twister. Consider this a mild recommendation for Netflix subscribers.

If you're looking for some Nature Horror, though, I'd go with last month's Without Name over this one.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Tue May 12, 2020 9:20 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.
Man, I used to watch that show every time.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Tue May 12, 2020 9:47 pm

Wooley wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 9:20 pm
Man, I used to watch that show every time.
It's on Prime if you'd like to reminisce. Like I said it can be fun just as a slice of life from my (our) childhood, but then every now and then you're reminded about something weird that we don't do anymore. Like when they introduce the woman truck driver and within seconds the camera just unapologetically zooms in on the fly of her jeans. (?)
https://youtu.be/j9wupYsrk-8?t=106
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Tue May 12, 2020 11:52 pm

See a film featuring the press prominently (May)
See a film with a 3 in the movies to see before you die (March, #319)

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Small time press agent (Tony Curtis) finds himself being frozen out of column written by journalist (Burt Lancaster). The reason? The press agent didn't do a good job of breaking up the writer's sister (Susan Harrison) with a jazz musician (Martin Milner, Adam 12). Desperate, the press agent is willing to do whatever it takes to make this break clean and permanent this time. How far will he go? Gotta rethink my thoughts on what makes a noir, but this one is pretty darned good with some crackling dialogue and some nifty acting. Well done! A-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Tue May 12, 2020 11:57 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 did find it a fun, frothy comedy about how life on a soap is almost as surreal as real life. But yeah, that problematic element in the end is probably why I hadn't seen it in years. Even if the character kinda deserved a comeuppance, it does come across as too much of one.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed May 13, 2020 2:29 pm

A film about mothers: The Second Mother

Oh, this was so good.

A woman named Val works as a live-in maid for a wealthy family in Sao Paulo. One day her daughter, Jessica, asks if she can come to stay for a few weeks so that she can study for her college entrance exams. Jessica's arrival upsets the "natural order" of the house.

It's interesting to watch this so soon after watching Parasite. This film is very focused on the way that domestic workers are often integrated with the emotional support of the people they work for. Val is "the second mother" to Fabinho, the couple's son. In fact, her relationship with Fabinho stands in stark contrast with her relationship with Jessica, as Val hasn't lived with her family in 10 years.

The tension in the film comes from watching Val try to balance the two halves of her life. Jessica is often blunt, and she doesn't hesitate to point out things like how crappy Val's room is in comparison to the guest bedroom. Val struggles to keep her employers happy even as Jessica repeatedly pushes boundaries, like sitting at the family's table or eating the fancy ice cream out of the freezer. Val has always told herself that living away from her family and sending them money was the best way to support them, but Jessica's arrival calls that all into question.

The movie really nails the dehumanizing way that the employers think of Val. In one scene, the father tells Jessica he has a picture of Val . . . only to produce a family snapshot where Val, in uniform, is working in the background. When Jessica tells Val that the family offered her food, Val snaps back "They offer because they know we will say no!". Despite saying that Val is "part of the family", it's clear where the family draws the line.

This might be the best movie I've seen so far this month, sitting right there next to Jeanne Dielman. Interestingly, both films have to do with the idea of a woman's role as wife/mother being turned into a commodity and how that impact her personal life. The film's Portuguese title is "Que Horas Ela Volta?" which roughly means "When will she be back?". This is a question that, as a child, Fabinho asks Val about his own mother---and it's a question that Jessica confesses to have asked over and over in her own childhood. In this system, two children are without their mothers, and we see how it impacts them both. The film isn't shy about the fact that Fabinho will have a much easier time of things because of his family's money, but this clearly isn't a healthy way for any of them.

This one is on Amazon Prime and I'd highly recommend it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed May 13, 2020 3:41 pm

Hmm, I was thinking about Bong Joon-ho's Mother for this category, but it's good to have multiple options.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Wed May 13, 2020 3:50 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:41 pm
Hmm, I was thinking about Bong Joon-ho's Mother for this category, but it's good to have multiple options.
I watched this one recently and it was amazing, quite a bit better than Parasite for me.
The Second Mother sounds great, Tak, thanks for the recommendation!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed May 13, 2020 4:30 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:41 pm
Hmm, I was thinking about Bong Joon-ho's Mother for this category, but it's good to have multiple options.
MrCarmady wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:50 pm
I watched this one recently and it was amazing, quite a bit better than Parasite for me.
The Second Mother sounds great, Tak, thanks for the recommendation!

Yeah, Mother is really excellent, and I certainly wouldn't dissuade anyone from watching it. It's also more of a thriller (or maybe I should say more suspenseful?) and I know that might be more appealing than a straight drama/comedy.

But I would seriously consider putting The Second Mother on any "to see" list you currently have going. It's one of those movies where I'm shocked that I hadn't ever heard anyone talk about it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed May 13, 2020 4:39 pm

Just added it to my ever growing "watchlist". The rankings/reviews in Letterboxd are glowing.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Wed May 13, 2020 5:18 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 7:59 pm
Any film that starts with the letters I or J:

In The Tall Grass

From a story by Stephen King (meh) ...
Do you not like Stephen King?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed May 13, 2020 5:45 pm

Wooley wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 5:18 pm
Do you not like Stephen King?
I think that Stephen King can be a real mixed bag.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Wed May 13, 2020 6:06 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 5:45 pm
I think that Stephen King can be a real mixed bag.
Well, when one writes like 150 books, yeah. But his better stuff is amazing, I might go so far as to call the best of it contemporary literature.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Wed May 13, 2020 6:06 pm

Wooley wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 5:18 pm
Do you not like Stephen King?
I've only read 3 novels and they were fine, so I shouldn't grumble about him so much I guess. But if we're talking about films based on his work, I've found that the ones I've enjoyed have been in spite of his involvement rather than because of it. So I don't go out of my way to seek anything out. For example, In the Tall Grass was not on my radar at all until I learned it was directed by Natali.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Wed May 13, 2020 6:38 pm

At his best Stephen King has had flashes of inspiration. His writing has always ranged from being no better than decent for the genre to downright horrible. But he has definitely supplied the raw materials for others to do good things with even his most middling work.

He was an awful lot of fun when I was 12 though. I would grant him some of my favourite moments of my early adolescence. But, looking at it all now, fffuuuuuuucck. His writing gets painfully embarassing way too frequently. There is absolutely no shock he can crank out that kind of prose at a factory rate. It's lazy lazy writing
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Wed May 13, 2020 6:43 pm

A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit (National Tourism Day, May 7): Night Moves
While I've been in the US a fair few times, I've never been to the Pacific Northwest which looks beautiful in the two Reichardt films I've seen so far, and I hope to continue this cinematic journey before making the real one. Both the central cast and the peripheral roles here are fantastically cast and executed, giving this cold and bleak genre movie a sense of being rooted in the real world, with real people and real morality conflicts. The music is amazing, as well, and it's really fucking tense.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed May 13, 2020 7:02 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 6:43 pm
A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit (National Tourism Day, May 7): Night Moves
While I've been in the US a fair few times, I've never been to the Pacific Northwest which looks beautiful in the two Reichardt films I've seen so far, and I hope to continue this cinematic journey before making the real one. Both the central cast and the peripheral roles here are fantastically cast and executed, giving this cold and bleak genre movie a sense of being rooted in the real world, with real people and real morality conflicts. The music is amazing, as well, and it's really fucking tense.
I also really liked it. I thought that the way that it balanced "big picture" conflicts/morality with "small picture" conflicts/morality was really interesting.

There's this interesting duality between the
two deaths in the film. One is for the "bigger cause", while the other is done to protect an individual. The main character is able to justify himself in both of those actions.
Have you seen First Reformed? I thought that the two films had some interesting parallels.
Wooley wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 6:06 pm
Well, when one writes like 150 books, yeah. But his better stuff is amazing, I might go so far as to call the best of it contemporary literature.
I've read IT, Mr. Mercedes, and Dreamcatcher.

Everyone (even King) admits that Dreamcatcher is a mess. IT had some memorable moments, but it also, you know, has a scene where
a 12 year old girl offers to have sex with all of her male friends to help them "calm down and focus" and also contains a bunch of pervy descriptions of that female character as a child. I don't remember any visual descriptions of the boys that made sure to always mention their underwear.
Mr. Mercedes was the one I liked the most--a demented police procedural with memorable characters and some genuinely shocking plot twists and turns.

In all of his books there are images or short sequences that I admire from a horror point of view. But nothing I've read from him has approached greatness.

I'm not saying he probably doesn't have better books than the ones I've read. But hearing that a movie is based on one of his books is not some automatic endorsement for me.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Wed May 13, 2020 7:07 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 7:02 pm
I also really liked it. I thought that the way that it balanced "big picture" conflicts/morality with "small picture" conflicts/morality was really interesting.

There's this interesting duality between the
two deaths in the film. One is for the "bigger cause", while the other is done to protect an individual. The main character is able to justify himself in both of those actions.
Have you seen First Reformed? I thought that the two films had some interesting parallels.

I have seen and really liked First Reformed, and I didn't make the connection but now that you've said it I can definitely see it. Except Reichardt's vision is even bleaker -
I like how Eisenberg's character overhears the other two having sex and it's indicated not through moaning noises but through laughter; then she ends up calling the other guy and the audience kind of gets drawn into this whole triangle; instead of love as a redemptive force as it is in Schrader's film, here the sexual jealousy Eisenberg's chracter may or may not feel is up to interpretation, and finds a violent resolution.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed May 13, 2020 7:35 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 7:07 pm
I have seen and really liked First Reformed, and I didn't make the connection but now that you've said it I can definitely see it. Except Reichardt's vision is even bleaker -
I like how Eisenberg's character overhears the other two having sex and it's indicated not through moaning noises but through laughter; then she ends up calling the other guy and the audience kind of gets drawn into this whole triangle; instead of love as a redemptive force as it is in Schrader's film, here the sexual jealousy Eisenberg's chracter may or may not feel is up to interpretation, and finds a violent resolution.
I agree.

There's a question as to how much of the main character's actions are
genuinely based in their environmental motives and how much comes from a personal place. For example, wanting to do something extreme, wanting to be admired, wanting to "buck the system", etc.

The personal and the political can't be separated, and by the end the murder feels like it is almost a separate entity from the political actions. Even the intimate nature of the killing--strangulation--stands in sharp contrast to the earlier death (off-screen death by explosion).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Wed May 13, 2020 8:29 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 7:35 pm
I agree.

There's a question as to how much of the main character's actions are
genuinely based in their environmental motives and how much comes from a personal place. For example, wanting to do something extreme, wanting to be admired, wanting to "buck the system", etc.

The personal and the political can't be separated, and by the end the murder feels like it is almost a separate entity from the political actions. Even the intimate nature of the killing--strangulation--stands in sharp contrast to the earlier death (off-screen death by explosion).
Great point about the ending. The setting of it at a 'calm' 'Japanese' sauna is funny because it serves as a reminder of Fanning's character's privilege but still shows her in a subordinate role and then has the macabre contrast with her violent end. It sort of feels like a feverish dream because that's how it must feel like to Eisenberg's character. Plus, I dunno if that comes from me liking him and him rarely playing all-out villains (except Lex Luthor I guess? haven't seen that one), but I was shocked that the character would go that far, it builds the suspense leading up to it but still doesn't seem like a foregone conclusion while still managing to achieve the air of tragic inevitability in the aftermath.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Wed May 13, 2020 11:59 pm

I'd love to be able to tackle Bong Joon-Ho's Mother (it was a film in Cinema International that I missed), but I think I got a better idea for that category now.

Hint: It's part of my 2014 collection.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu May 14, 2020 1:47 am

I had a slow start this month, but finally here are my first 5...

A film mostly set on a train: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974)
Set in 1935, the film follows Detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) as he investigates the murder of an American businessman aboard the titular train, which forces him to question the reasons and possible motives of the small group of passengers. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Sidney Lumet's direction is simple and tight, and the editing by Anne Coates is pretty effective. But what carries the film are the excellent performances of pretty much everyone involved; from Sean Connery to Ingrid Bergman to John Gielgud. But the ones I was mostly caught up with were Anthony Perkins and Finney. Perkins, who I think I've only seen in one or two films other than Psycho, is excellent as the somewhat meek and fidgety assistant to the victim, but Finney dominates every scene with a performance that might seem cartoonish on the surface, but still has a lot of great moments when you pay attention to how he uses his voice, and his mannerisms and body language. If anything, I think the film became exaggeratedly expository during the last act as Poirot presents his thesis of how the murder occurred, to the point that it is somewhat distracting to see this bunch of people just sitting there waiting to be accused. Regardless, it was a fun and worthy watch. Grade: B+

A fantasy film: SONG OF THE SEA
Based on Irish folk tales and mythology, the film follows Ben, a 10-year old boy that discovers his younger sister Saoirse is a selkie with a mission to free captured fairies from the goddess Macha. This was a choice for the kids, but I found myself captivated by how pretty and endearing both the animation and the story were. I remember that, as it finished, I said to my wife "I don't think I understood half of what happened, but it sure was a cute and lovable film". The film relies heavily on Irish mythology symbolisms and imagery and if you're not very familiar with it, like me, you might be left scratching your head a bit with some of the things that happen. But despite the complexity of the surrounding lore, the basic stories of a brother trying to protect his sister, and the longing for the love of a mother, are fairly easy to follow. The animation is very unique with some interesting choices in terms of the use of perspective (or the lack of it) and minimalist drawings. If you see it with the kids, you might have to explain some of what happens to them, but I'm sure they'll enjoy it anyway. Grade: B+

A film with a bird's name in its title: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Set in early 1930s Alabama, the film follows Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), an idealistic and well-intentioned lawyer assigned to defend a black man (Brock Peters) for the rape of a white woman, and how these events impact the lives of his two young children: Jem and Scout. I guess this is one of those boxes that I just had to check off my list, but damn, if it wasn't a good one. I really liked the fact that, despite what the synopsis might lead you to think, the focus of the story is not necessarily the rape or the trial, but rather how this family deals with the social implications. Peck is simply excellent in the role as he avoids easy clichés to "sell it", but instead relies on a more stoic, yet nuanced approach to the character. Both Philip Alford and Mary Badham are also great as Finch's children, with Badham having the most emotional performance. However, I was more impressed by Alford, who uses his face, eyes, and body language a lot, as well as his silence, to convey the different emotions and states of mind of Finch's son. You just have to look at Alford's performance during the different moments where Jem is simply looking at Finch's behavior and reactions in several crucial moments to see his character scanning what's happening, trying to process this complex situations around him. It's an excellent performance. Kudos also to Brock Peters who has an excellent scene as he shares the story of what happened. I admire the approach that Peters and director Robert Mulligan take to handle the testimony of the black man, by treating it the way it is, as a rape. I do feel that what happens in the last act does feel a bit anti-climatic and too convenient a resolution, but that's nitpicking. Recommended. Grade: A-

A film with Clint Eastwood: ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
The film follows Frank Morris (Eastwood) after he is sent to Alcatraz for his penchant to escape from prison. As he learns to navigate the common day life in his new place, he also starts to devise an elaborate plan to escape, along with two other immates. Directed by Don Siegel, he and writer Richard Tuggle, refuse to give Morris a backstory, instead choosing to focus on the planning aspect. Siegel's focus is more on the "Will they/won't they" side of things, which might not allow some to connect with the characters. There is a simplicity to that that might work for some and others not, as well as the fact that the film falls on some tropes of the "prison film" sub-genre. But regardless, the film is very engaging and thrilling. Eastwood is effective as Morris, and Patrick McGoohan is excellent as the "evil" warden, even if he didn't get much screentime. Grade: B+

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title: THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE
Ken Burns documentary follows the events of the Central Park jogger case, and how 5 black/Latino teenagers ended up arrested, tried, and wrongly sentenced for a crime they didn't commit. It's the kind of film that it's bound to make you feel pissed off as you see the bias from the police force, the media, and the public in passing judgment on the victims without necessarily having all the facts. The documentary is very straightforward which, as someone that wasn't that familiar with the specifics of the story, is helpful. I do think it lacks a bit of emotion, or rather that they could've done a bit more to draw more emotion of this tragedy. But I respect Burns' more sober approach. Regardless of that, it's a powerful documentary that will probably leave you thinking "What would I have done?" if something like that happens. Grade: B+

Solid bunch, even if there wasn't a single mind-blowing film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu May 14, 2020 2:38 am

Thief wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 1:47 am
A film with a bird's name in its title: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Set in early 1930s Alabama, the film follows Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), an idealistic and well-intentioned lawyer assigned to defend a black man (Brock Peters) for the rape of a white woman, and how these events impact the lives of his two young children: Jem and Scout. I guess this is one of those boxes that I just had to check off my list, but damn, if it wasn't a good one. I really liked the fact that, despite what the synopsis might lead you to think, the focus of the story is not necessarily the rape or the trial, but rather how this family deals with the social implications. Peck is simply excellent in the role as he avoids easy clichés to "sell it", but instead relies on a more stoic, yet nuanced approach to the character. Both Philip Alford and Mary Badham are also great as Finch's children, with Badham having the most emotional performance. However, I was more impressed by Alford, who uses his face, eyes, and body language a lot, as well as his silence, to convey the different emotions and states of mind of Finch's son. You just have to look at Alford's performance during the different moments where Jem is simply looking at Finch's behavior and reactions in several crucial moments to see his character scanning what's happening, trying to process this complex situations around him. It's an excellent performance. Kudos also to Brock Peters who has an excellent scene as he shares the story of what happened. I admire the approach that Peters and director Robert Mulligan take to handle the testimony of the black man, by treating it the way it is, as a rape. I do feel that what happens in the last act does feel a bit anti-climatic and too convenient a resolution, but that's nitpicking. Recommended. Grade: A-
I like this film quite a lot, but I think that most of its greatness lies within the acting. As someone who typically doesn't notice acting in films, that's probably why I haven't felt inclined to revisit it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu May 14, 2020 3:15 am

If you haven't read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, it is also great.
MrCarmady wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 8:29 pm
Great point about the ending. The setting of it at a 'calm' 'Japanese' sauna is funny because it serves as a reminder of Fanning's character's privilege but still shows her in a subordinate role and then has the macabre contrast with her violent end. It sort of feels like a feverish dream because that's how it must feel like to Eisenberg's character. Plus, I dunno if that comes from me liking him and him rarely playing all-out villains (except Lex Luthor I guess? haven't seen that one), but I was shocked that the character would go that far, it builds the suspense leading up to it but still doesn't seem like a foregone conclusion while still managing to achieve the air of tragic inevitability in the aftermath.
I wasn't surprised that
he killed her. Not at all actually. I think that as the film goes on you see the way that his concept of himself as a warrior slowly gives way to his realization of what it means for him as a person. He is not the same as his cause. He has a family. He values his freedom.

In fact, it's kind of an irony of the whole film. He doesn't want to kill to SAVE THE PLANET, but he will kill to save himself. He acts out of self-interest, and people acting out of self-interest is basically why we have our environmental crisis.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu May 14, 2020 3:27 am

I did read the novel. I remember enjoying it more than the film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Thu May 14, 2020 7:26 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 3:15 am


I wasn't surprised that
he killed her. Not at all actually. I think that as the film goes on you see the way that his concept of himself as a warrior slowly gives way to his realization of what it means for him as a person. He is not the same as his cause. He has a family. He values his freedom.

In fact, it's kind of an irony of the whole film. He doesn't want to kill to SAVE THE PLANET, but he will kill to save himself. He acts out of self-interest, and people acting out of self-interest is basically why we have our environmental crisis.
Yeah, I like your last sentence a lot but the other reason I was surprised is that it seemed pretty stupid to me. Sure, he's thrown away his phone at the end, but once her body is found he should be the chief suspect given what the family he was staying with knows, and it's so hard to get off the grid completely in the modern age, as Reichardt points out with her great, paranoid mise-en-scene. For me it's just a question of time before he is caught, and he will have to live with that fear and the guilt of killing someone. At least with the initial guilt it wasn't intentional and wasn't someone he knew.
To Kill a Mockingbird is pretty good (though it's criminal Peck beat out O'Toole at the Oscars), but I prefer this experimental short that's based on it. I can see people really hating it but I like Arnold's work.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu May 14, 2020 2:19 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 7:26 am
Yeah, I like your last sentence a lot but the other reason I was surprised is that it seemed pretty stupid to me. Sure, he's thrown away his phone at the end, but once her body is found he should be the chief suspect given what the family he was staying with knows, and it's so hard to get off the grid completely in the modern age, as Reichardt points out with her great, paranoid mise-en-scene. For me it's just a question of time before he is caught, and he will have to live with that fear and the guilt of killing someone. At least with the initial guilt it wasn't intentional and wasn't someone he knew.
Right, because he's acting out of
immediate self-interest.

I actually also agree that it's only a matter of time before he gets caught. In fact her dying only strengthens the dots back to him and makes his inevitable arrest for something much worse: premeditated murder.

Again, it goes back to the irony of him thinking just like the people who do harm to our planet. He thinks very short term about what's best for him NOW. The fact that him getting caught is almost inevitable only adds to the tragedy and uselessness of her death. She's dying for nothing. Or, more specifically, she's dying to buy him a few more months working a no-name job in a camping store.

To take things a step further, if/when he is caught he has now lost any moral high ground. No one will care why he planted the bomb. They'll just want to talk about him strangling the pretty white girl in the sauna.

I think it's actually a pretty brilliant look at the way that the human instinct for self-preservation can undermine even the loftiest of morals.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu May 14, 2020 3:40 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 2:38 am
I like this film quite a lot, but I think that most of its greatness lies within the acting. As someone who typically doesn't notice acting in films, that's probably why I haven't felt inclined to revisit it.
I agree. The story is conventional, but pretty much every performance nails it. From Peck to the two children to everyone else, but I have to reiterate my praise of Brock Peters' performance, specifically during his testimony. It's so harrowing the way that he tells what happened and to see it juxtaposed with what people *thought* happened. Tom Robinson is recounting pretty much the same experience that Mayella alleges she suffered, with as much emotion, shame, and despair, but because he is a black man, it is dismissed and ultimately "punished" by it, even though he was the actual victim! It reminded me a bit of McConaughey's closing statement in A Time to Kill, which is another legal thriller I think it's a bit overlooked... I mean, it's a lesser film, but I do think it is a worthy film... but anyway, it reminded me of that closing line where he tells all the horrible things the rapists did to Sam Jackson's little girl, and then he says "Imagine she's white". The perception of Robinson's testimony is so different just because he's a black male than if it came from a white female, it's a brilliant way to put that spotlight on that contrast.

I'm rambling badly, and I'm not sure if what I mean is coming through, but I really, really appreciated that moment.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu May 14, 2020 5:56 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 3:40 pm
I agree. The story is conventional, but pretty much every performance nails it. From Peck to the two children to everyone else, but I have to reiterate my praise of Brock Peters' performance, specifically during his testimony. It's so harrowing the way that he tells what happened and to see it juxtaposed with what people *thought* happened. Tom Robinson is recounting pretty much the same experience that Mayella alleges she suffered, with as much emotion, shame, and despair, but because he is a black man, it is dismissed and ultimately "punished" by it, even though he was the actual victim! It reminded me a bit of McConaughey's closing statement in A Time to Kill, which is another legal thriller I think it's a bit overlooked... I mean, it's a lesser film, but I do think it is a worthy film... but anyway, it reminded me of that closing line where he tells all the horrible things the rapists did to Sam Jackson's little girl, and then he says "Imagine she's white". The perception of Robinson's testimony is so different just because he's a black male than if it came from a white female, it's a brilliant way to put that spotlight on that contrast.

I'm rambling badly, and I'm not sure if what I mean is coming through, but I really, really appreciated that moment.
I see what you're saying. The courtroom scene is a really powerful moment, specifically due to the performances of those involved in it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu May 14, 2020 5:57 pm

A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: Beats Per Minute (Grand Prix)

This is a French film that follows the early 90s actions of ACT UP, and AIDS prevention/advocacy group pushing for the French government to up its response to the AIDS crisis. The film begins by following the story of the group as a whole, but then zoom in on the developing relationship between one of its founders, Sean, and a newcomer, Nathan.

A few years ago I watched How to Survive a Plague, a documentary following the New York branch of ACT UP, and so it was interesting to see so many overlaps. The story here is both historical and also deeply personal, and it was based in large parts on the experience of the filmmaker.

Something that is really captivating about this film is the way that it mixes the political, social, and sexual lives of the members. The movie is incredibly human--with sorrow, humor, lust, and petty annoyances all mixed together. All of these parts of their lives are intertwined, and the film does an excellent job of portraying that. In one scene, the members go to a club and dance to techo music. Slowly the camera begins to zoom in on the particles around them. A few more zooms and suddenly we realize that we're looking at cells. Still to the booming beat of the techno, we watch a cell get taken over by the virus. This scene then morphs into an ACT UP member using a whiteboard to explain the mechanics of how a proposed treatment would help block the virus.

Another element of the film that I loved was the way that it portrayed the sexual relationships within the group. All of the scenes are tied together by similar lighting and angles, but each serves a different purpose. One is driven by lust and two people in the euphoria of a new relationship (though tempered by a misalignment in their preference for using condoms); one is about connection and comfort; and the final one is about grief and finding connection. They are very humanizing portrayals of sex, and mimic the film around them in that they are sad and funny and loving and angry all at once.

I suppose if I had one small complaint it would be that I would have wanted to know more about the characters in the group who are not there because they are gay men. One woman, for example, is in the group because her son contracted HIV through a blood transfusion. I think that opening the scope of the discussion--it might be mostly (at that time) a problem for gay men but not exclusively--would have been interesting.

There are also some really good scenes of the group having their meetings. Much like what you see in How to Fight a Plague the members of the group do not all agree on their outcomes or methods. Some people want pharma leaders and politicians literally jailed. Others just want transparency and access to data. Some condone minor violence, while others feel it sends the wrong message. The community of people with HIV are not a monolith, and they really have to fight to hash out their messaging and their tactics.

This one is on Hulu and it's really worth watching.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Thu May 14, 2020 6:40 pm

Very good film and I loved the use of Smalltown Boy but I felt that the political meetings dragged quite a bit. It makes sense that they're personal reminiscences but it was just quite static compared to the club and the great sex scenes you mentioned, and the film's 145 minute runtime is definitely felt. I've recently come across And the Band Played On which also covers a similar space and looks very interesting, but haven't heard of How to Survive a Plague.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu May 14, 2020 7:50 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 6:40 pm
Very good film and I loved the use of Smalltown Boy but I felt that the political meetings dragged quite a bit. It makes sense that they're personal reminiscences but it was just quite static compared to the club and the great sex scenes you mentioned, and the film's 145 minute runtime is definitely felt. I've recently come across And the Band Played On which also covers a similar space and looks very interesting, but haven't heard of How to Survive a Plague.
I know what you mean about the meetings dragging on, but I felt like that was deliberate. They are trying to make progress, and yet they get bogged down with internal politics.

I really recommend How to Survive a Plague. The actual documentary footage of the meetings is startlingly like what you see in RPM. Feelings run high, and there is such a palpable fear that a strategy that is too aggressive or a strategy that is too passive could mean more years of government inaction and more deaths. For some of the activists who are further along in their decline, there is a loudly ticking clock.

Aside from the people in the film being more physically attractive than their real world counterparts, this is one of the best films in terms of feeling like it really did represent the reality of what transpired.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri May 15, 2020 4:10 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 6:29 pm
I got to 10 episodes!

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 10 (May 5, 2020)
Episode 11 is out, for those paying attention :up:

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 11 (May 14, 2020)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sat May 16, 2020 12:09 am

See a film set in New Orleans (February)
See a film starting with an I or J (May)

JD's Revenge (1976)
Law student named Isaac (Glynn Turman, Colonel Taylor from A Different World) takes a break from his studies with his girlfriend and two friends one night. When they go to a hypnotist show, he starts imagining that he's JD, a hustler from 35 years ago who got killed along with his sister. His path eventually crosses with the Reverend Elija (Lou Gossett, Jr.) and his right hand man Theotis who may know what might have happened.

In some ways, I caught some parallels to Christmas Evil, a horror film about a toymaker who slowly loses his sanity at the hands of cynicism and cruel behavior. Watching Isaac turn into JD (and all his mannerisms for good or evil) was compelling and the revenge angle kept me tuning in until the end.

But boy, those gender politics in 1976 sure didn't age well, did they? That left a sour taste in my mouth and kept me from enjoying it. C

PS: The Prince mentioned as the music composer IS NOT the Prince of R&B/Pop fame, but Robert Prince.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 16, 2020 3:26 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 12:09 am
JD's Revenge (1976)

But boy, those gender politics in 1976 sure didn't age well, did they? That left a sour taste in my mouth and kept me from enjoying it. C
Here's the review I wrote back in February including what I thought of the gender stuff.:

In 1940s New Orleans, hustler JD walks in on his sister and a man named Theotis arguing. JD's sister is married to charismatic preacher Elijah, but we learn from the overheard argument that she's been having an affair with Theotis, Elijah's brother. When she threatens to tell Elijah, Theotis cuts her throat with a razor. When Elijah arrives, Theotis (or maybe it was Elijah?) shoots him dead before he can tell the truth.

Skipping ahead to modern day (~30 years later), law student and cab driver Ike lives a happy, slightly nerdy life with wife Chris. One night the two of them go out for a night on the town to celebrate their anniversary. Ike is hypnotized at a sideshow, and while under his trance he becomes a vessel for the angry spirit of JD. Ike (and Chris and his friends) struggle to understand what is happening as he begins to suffer headaches and behave erratically and violently. Ike finds himself drawn to the church where Elijah preaches, and begins to be more and more violent with Chris.

I liked the performances in this film quite a lot. The lead performance is good, but the actress playing Chris does a lot to make a potentially offensive plot into something much more complicated. The visuals are also really neat, especially the sequences in which Ike suffers flashes of JD's experiences in the slaughterhouse where his sister was killed.

Setting aside the copious female nudity (why, no, there's not also male nudity, thanks for asking!), the film walks a really tricky line in terms of its central plot and the relationship between Chris and Ike. In one of the films most disturbing scenes, a possessed Ike sexually assaults Chris in their home. She goes along with the sex at first, pretending to orgasm (for a moment it seemed like this was going to be a "no means yes" sex scene and I was like "HMMMM") in order to try and bring the encounter to a close, but he continues on in a way that is incredibly painful for her. Significantly, they don't even discuss this. Later her physically assaults her. Then, in a third encounter, he tries to rape her again. Now, to the film's credit, the characters take his actions seriously. Chris's ex-husband explicitly calls it what it is (rape), and encourages her to stay away from him. Chris is convinced that Ike is experiencing some sort of medical or mental illness. She keeps going back to him and giving him second chances. Like I said earlier, the actress does a good job of portraying a woman who is thoroughly confused by the sudden change in her loving husband, and who clearly still loves him despite his actions. But I was really torn by the ending where
Ike is like "Well, guess that's over now!" and she's just like "Ha! YAY!" and they go off together laughing and hugging.


Even more upsetting is a scene in which Ike's friend is like, "Well, I think it's kind of cool that you slapped her around a little." I'm not saying some men don't think that way, but the film presents this point of view as acceptable, and it's pretty gross to see the way that this character (who is a doctor and supposed to be one of the voices of reason in the film), dismisses Chris as hysterical and encourages Ike to see his violent assault of Chris as a moment of "manning up." I honestly had a hard time reading whether or not the film was agreeing with this character or what.


Another point of interest for me was the almost entire lack of "race conflict" in this film. The cast is almost entirely black, aside from a handful of white characters (the hypnotist, Ike's cabbie boss, a taxi passenger). I'm not saying that horror films shouldn't address race issues, but I think that often films with black characters can get pigeon-holed into having to be about race (much like a disproportionate number of films about women are rape-revenge as opposed to . . . literally any other conflict). It's really cool to see a film from this era where the black characters are professional class (Ike is studying to be a lawyer, his friend is a doctor, etc). In one scene, Ike's boss (a black man) talks about how a white customer is complaining about being attacked. "All she can say is that he's a black guy. Well, I've got about 30 guys who fit that description," says the boss. There's a kind of dark humor to the fact that Ike/JD gets away with an attack because his attacker cannot describe anything more than his race. I've not seen many blaxploitation films where interpersonal conflict is allowed to take center stage, and it was neat to see that dynamic here.

I don't feel like I see this film discussed very often. I'd love to hear other opinions about it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat May 16, 2020 6:57 pm

A film about Muslims/Islam: I Still Hide to Smoke

Phew! This was an intense one!

This is a film that takes place almost entirely in a single location, a hammam (a sort of spa), and has a very strong stage-play vibe to it. In fact I was pretty surprised to see that it wasn't adapted from a play.

Fatima is a strong-willed woman who runs the Hammam in Algiers. Her day gets off to a crazy start when a very pregnant young woman named Meriam arrives begging for protection from her brother. Fatima takes her in and hides her in an upstairs room. Over the course of the day the customers at the hammam discuss a variety of issues--mostly centered on their marriages, relationship to Islam, and state of politics--while the threat of Meriam's brother hovers over the story.

Again, this film feels a lot like a play. (And my only real critique of the film is that some parts feel too much like monologues and the staging and acting feel a little "bigger" than is appropriate for the closed-room setting). The conversations and interactions are pretty fascinating. Set against a backdrop of constant nudity and friendly intimacy, the women argue and commiserate with each other. One woman describes her marriage, at age 11, and her traumatic first night of sex with her husband (a man her father's age). Another two women argue about who is to blame for the incarcerations and torture of Islamic men. A woman and her former daughter in law spar over the use of contraception ("You murdered my grandchildren"). It's important to note that the film is not a misery-fest. There is still humor to find (like a woman who has her husband's dentures in her pocket), and even a small romance in the form of two women who seem to have a sexual connection.

The best and most nuanced element of the film is the way that it illuminates the female role as both victim and enforcer of the more stringent version of Islam. I think that it's really important to note that there is a range of strictness to Islam (just as you've got LGBT churches and Jerry Falwell co-existing in Christianity). In one scene a woman yells at another "Your Islam is not our Islam". The women in the hammam alternately push against or embrace the judgement. One woman who is generally a sympathetic character is also not that upset by the potential murder of Meriam, casually saying "She should have kept her legs closed". In the story the woman tells about being raped at age 11, she notes that the sound she heard through the bedroom door was "women laughing". It's clear that many versions of Islam do damage to women, but men are not the sole oppressors in this system.

The end of the film is a pretty strong rebuttal to the common retort that women have the most power in society. Even seen through a small peephole, the men who gather to help Meriam's brother are frightening. The women have their authority and they have language and they have (maybe) deception, but ultimately they are no physical match for the angry mob of men.

This film was written and directed by a woman (who, by the by, had gasoline poured on her after one show in an attempt to set her on fire) and it's a really respectful and interesting look at how women living in an Islamic culture perceive themselves and the society around them. Available on Prime.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 17, 2020 4:37 pm

A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit: Before Sunrise

I know it's a cliche, but I'd love to do a typical European vacation at some point. Years ago I went to Cambridge, Athens, and Barcelona, and I'd love to see some other cities. (I have a family member who travels internationally for work and his photographs have made me deeply jealous).

Before Sunrise has been one of my cinematic blindspots for a while. I'm sure everyone knows the premise: two strangers meet on a train and spend a night together wandering the streets of Vienna and talking against the ticking clock of a flight time.

There was a discussion recently here about the nature of the dialogue in the film, whether it was natural or overly "scripted". I actually thought that it was a wonderful mix of both. I think that it's obvious watching the characters that they both have certain ways of expressing themselves that are scripted, because that's how people are when they are younger. It's a very self-aware way of projecting an image. You see this especially with Jesse as his points of reference are a study he read about monkeys who have a ton of sex and are thus less violent; a thing he read about why it makes sense for men to have multiple female partners but not the other way around. I thought that his character in particular was a great portrayal of someone sifting through external content and using it to craft a point of view.

And on the flip side, the character of Celine seems to be undergoing the opposite process. She is very aware of the expectations/assumptions about her, and so she is struggling to reconcile her desire to fight those assumptions and yet her genuine desires that actually align with them. She's wondering if it makes her a bad feminist if she just wants to be loved by someone. She's very aware of not having had to struggle in life (because of her annoyingly supportive parents), and so with that lack of external conflict she's having trouble shaping her path in life and her point of view.

Something that was refreshing to me was how, at times, unlikable they both were. I'll admit that from my point of view, Jesse telling a "funny" story about how he and a friend cruelly taunted a homeless man with $100, only to take it away because the man said he believed in God, was a deal-breaker. That he doesn't consider this deeply shameful says a lot about his egocentrism. You also see his effrontery when confronted with things like the fortune-teller or the poet that don't align with his personal viewpoints. It makes for an interesting contrast with Celine's romanticism and desire to see things as magical. The fortune teller's remark that "he's still learning" and his offended reaction to that was one of my favorite moments.

I'm certainly interested to check out the rest of the trilogy.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 17, 2020 4:40 pm

Also, that does it for me for the month! If you still need some of the categories, here's how I'd break down what I saw:

MUST SEE
A film about mothers: The Second Mother
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: Beats Per Minute
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501): Jeanne Dielman
A film mostly set on a train: Terror Train

WORTH CHECKING OUT
A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title: Five Minutes to Live (Worth checking out as an oddity)
Any film that starts with the letters I or J: I am Another You
A film from the 1940s: My Name is Julia Ross
A fantasy film: I Married a Witch; Deer Boy
A film set in space: Forbidden World
A film with a bird's name in its title: Swallows and Amazons
A film featuring the media prominently: Soapdish
A film from Norway: Buddy
A film about Muslims/Islam: I Still Hide to Smoke
A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit: Before Sunrise

SKIP
A film from or with Clint Eastwood: The Witches (maybe watch the first and second shorts, but the rest is overly long blah
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Sun May 17, 2020 8:04 pm

A fantasy film: Yamasong: March of the Hollows

This film is entirely populated by puppets (or perhaps marionettes would be more accurate), so you probably already know if this is for you. Clearly a lot of effort and love goes into a project like this so I really hate to say anything negative, but I have to say that the story didn't quite grab me, nor did it justify its 1:40 runtime. On the plus side, the character designs are great, with sort of a more steampunk Dark Crystal look. There's some occasional CG enhancements and honestly I wish they'd just committed to going full puppet. Not because I'm a purist, but because the subpar CGI often undermined some really nice practical work. Like, I know I'm watching a puppet movie, don't be ashamed to show your strings. I've since watched some interviews with the team responsible for the film and they all seem lovely and I wish them the best, just wish I could say I enjoyed the film more. It's on Prime, so maybe give it a shot if the trailer appeals to you in any way.

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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sun May 17, 2020 9:00 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 3:26 am
Here's the review I wrote back in February including what I thought of the gender stuff.:

Setting aside the copious female nudity (why, no, there's not also male nudity, thanks for asking!), the film walks a really tricky line in terms of its central plot and the relationship between Chris and Ike. In one of the films most disturbing scenes, a possessed Ike sexually assaults Chris in their home. She goes along with the sex at first, pretending to orgasm (for a moment it seemed like this was going to be a "no means yes" sex scene and I was like "HMMMM") in order to try and bring the encounter to a close, but he continues on in a way that is incredibly painful for her. Significantly, they don't even discuss this. Later her physically assaults her. Then, in a third encounter, he tries to rape her again. Now, to the film's credit, the characters take his actions seriously. Chris's ex-husband explicitly calls it what it is (rape), and encourages her to stay away from him. Chris is convinced that Ike is experiencing some sort of medical or mental illness. She keeps going back to him and giving him second chances. Like I said earlier, the actress does a good job of portraying a woman who is thoroughly confused by the sudden change in her loving husband, and who clearly still loves him despite his actions. But I was really torn by the ending where
Ike is like "Well, guess that's over now!" and she's just like "Ha! YAY!" and they go off together laughing and hugging.


Even more upsetting is a scene in which Ike's friend is like, "Well, I think it's kind of cool that you slapped her around a little." I'm not saying some men don't think that way, but the film presents this point of view as acceptable, and it's pretty gross to see the way that this character (who is a doctor and supposed to be one of the voices of reason in the film), dismisses Chris as hysterical and encourages Ike to see his violent assault of Chris as a moment of "manning up." I honestly had a hard time reading whether or not the film was agreeing with this character or what.


I don't feel like I see this film discussed very often. I'd love to hear other opinions about it.[/i]
What really disturbed me was the discussion between Isaac and his doctor friend who was more or less ecstatic that he finally has loosened his repression and flat out struck her. The so called voice of reason was arguing that sometimes you just gotta go down in the gutter and treat a woman bad like that. Um, no.

What I did like is that the film makes him deal with the consequences of his actions at least for a while.
For example, she flat out rejected him on the bus because he was offering some weak excuses about not remembering and being drunk. She comes back because there's been this investment of love and time between the two of them. A move that works out at first until his "desire for revenge" causes things to take another turn.
I might have brushed off the rough night of passion precisely for the same reason that Chris did...there was no sex since the night of the hypnotism (not tonight, I have a headache seemed to be a rallying cry for a while) and although it was a bit OFF, it wasn't so off that she necessarily objected like she did later in the film.

In all honesty, if it weren't for a well-placed vase, I may well have not finished the movie. I was getting awfully uncomfortable with that one sequence.

I think one of the things that I could appreciate is how they made Chris a character with some depth. Yeah, she's hurt by him and she doesn't like what he does as JD. But at the same time, there's this love between the two of them that gives her a reason to fight for his soul. She could have just threw her hands up at any point and said I'm done. But she sees something there worth fighting for. The way she was able to talk to him on the bus and decide for herself that what he did was unacceptable informed me that they were having her be more than a one-note character. Something that was confirmed by her actions later in the film.
I do agree the ending was a bit off. Considering I thought we were witnessing more of one man's meltdown in the course of the film, it was odd that they basically said, I guess that wraps it up folks. Especially when they were focused on the whole actions have consequences thing throughout the film.

As an aside, I liked how the cop was sort of like a voice of reason at first telling her clearly what he did to her was wrong and she should stay away. But I wish they hadn't turned him into Captain Ahab obsessed with getting his revenge on her current beau.
Sometimes, it's the little things that take away from your enjoyment of a revenge yarn.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun May 17, 2020 9:27 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 8:04 pm
Like, I know I'm watching a puppet movie, don't be ashamed to show your strings.
I would highly recommend that you check out Strings (2004). I think you'd dig it.


Apex Predator wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 9:00 pm
I think one of the things that I could appreciate is how they made Chris a character with some depth. Yeah, she's hurt by him and she doesn't like what he does as JD. But at the same time, there's this love between the two of them that gives her a reason to fight for his soul.
I agree. In the context of a film, we know that this guy is possessed. But if you're dating someone and one day they start behaving in a completely different way, wouldn't you assume something like mental illness? They do have this relationship and history and it makes sense why she doesn't bail on him.

The problem, like we've both said, is that the ending is very abrupt and seeming not at all interested in addressing Chris' trauma from what she's been through.

Suppose you had a romantic partner who, say through being given medication that they reacted poorly to, treated you violently and assaulted you. Even once they were off the meds and back to themselves, you'd still have this memory and association of them hurting you.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sun May 17, 2020 9:54 pm

Absolutely correct, Takoma. There would be a layer of doubt over the relationship for a while.
"How will I know he won't hurt me again like that? How do I know the spirit is truly gone?"
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Captain Terror
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Mon May 18, 2020 12:43 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 9:27 pm
I would highly recommend that you check out Strings (2004). I think you'd dig it.
Nice, I'll check it out. You've watched it?
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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 18, 2020 12:53 am

Captain Terror wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 12:43 am
Nice, I'll check it out. You've watched it?
Yes, and I really liked it. It goes very meta--the characters are aware that they have strings attached to them and it's part of the plot.

When my family wants to mock my taste in film, they will sometimes bring up "that puppet thriller movie". I'm always like "You guys liked that puppet thriller movie", and they're like " . .. yeah it was pretty cool." They literally all came in the house while I was just starting to watch it, made fun of me for a few minutes, then all got totally pulled into the story and the visuals.
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Apex Predator
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 18, 2020 8:49 pm

Let's see if my next film can bring me back on the winning track...

See a film from a location you'd like to visit (May)
See a film starting with E or F (March)

A Field in England (2014)

My second Ben Wheatley...and the first film of his that I liked.

Three men decide to evade a battle they somehow survived and cross an empty field to a pub where they plan to do some drinking before parting ways. But their plans hit a snag when they end up being captured by one servant's boss who decides to have them search for a treasure. But where is the treasure and could it be hiding in plain sight?

Done up in black and white, this film manages to blend psychadelics, Apocalypse Now set in the 1600s and upstairs downstairs dramas and hit puree. The results don't always mesh, but it is interesting. A nice oddball sense of humor leavens the proceedings along with a bit of horror. I don't want to get into more than that due to possible spoilers.

Apparently available on Prime and Tubi for those interested. I'd recommend it. B
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MrCarmady
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Mon May 18, 2020 11:10 pm

A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: The Man Without a Past
Image

Having seen a few Kaurismäki films already, with a recent fruitful re-watch of Shadows in Paradise, and a great first-time watch of Le Havre, there weren't many surprises here. It's maybe a little bit more on the absurd side, but still deadpan, beautifully cold in terms of the visual palette, and beautifully warm in terms of the empathy it has for its characters and the interactions between them, mining their hardships for humour and showing how people can make the best of their circumstances, with 50s rock music, cigarettes, and beer to help them through their day. The only things that set it apart are the amnesia plot and a cute dog, but maybe that's enough. Would recommend it to anyone, it's a delightful way to spend 95 minutes, with one of the funniest bank robberies in cinema.

I wonder what Finns think of his movies, he seems to be selling an image of the country to the festival circuit that just leans into certain cultural stereotypes I have of it (my memories of my only visit as a 10-year-old aren't much help), but there's also a Kafkaesque tone here of absurd power structures that I think Ayoade cribbed (quite successfully, I might add) in The Double. Trouble is that he could just make up a name any time so it doesn't really feel that oppressive or desperate a situation to be in, he's just the same competently cheerful/stoic/sad sack depending on how you read his facial expression as any other Kaurismäki protagonist.
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MrCarmady
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by MrCarmady » Tue May 19, 2020 10:46 pm

A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: Atlantique

Given this is on Netflix I would recommend that people check it out although I don't have too much to say about it - it's very well shot and has a fantastic soundtrack as well as diegetic sound, and takes on an interesting perspective of those who are left behind when desperate Africans attempt to migrate to Europe. The socially critical, the romantic, and the super-natural elements co-exist in a way that feels coherent. None of them truly shine, and the characters could have used being fleshed out a little more, but it has a fantastic sense of time and place (and heat) and is worth watching just for that.
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Apex Predator
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri May 22, 2020 12:01 am

Found out the hard way that Road Train is Aussie for Big Rig. So yay, I was watching Joy Ride Down Under for a few minutes.

See a film from Norway (May)

Toya (1956)

Hadn't seen a bad film in at least 9 efforts (the last one was Made for Each Other).

Yeah, that streak is now toast.

After losing her entire family of refugees to a land mine (!), Toya is healed to physical and emotional health by a group of nuns before being delivered to an adopted family in Norway. All is well until mother misplaces a 100 Krone and wouldn't you know it, there's one in Toya's coat (given to her by her agent to get something). So she runs away from home, unaware of the effort her new dad will go to bring her back.

I guess the acting was OK. But the plot feels right out of a Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best and the dialogue is so, so painful to listen to. It feels like Joe Friday dictated it with any subtlety or nuance sandblasted out of it.

A kid named Trygve does make like a Norse Wayne Newton with his version of a classic song, but this was barely entertaining. I suspect kids will be bored. I know I was even with that 67 minute time from Amazon Prime. D
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Thief
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri May 22, 2020 2:35 pm

Still have one film to round out my middle 5, but just wanted to give a quick comment on the one I finished last night: Sweet Smell of Success. What a great film. The dialogue, the performances, the direction. One of those where I'm struggling to find something I didn't like.
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kgaard.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Fri May 22, 2020 10:37 pm

A film with a bird's name in its title (National Bird Day, May 4): Phoenix (2014)

In postwar Germany, a woman attempts to re-create herself and her life but is haunted by the past and her memories of it. There was a brief moment about two-thirds of the way through where I thought, "Is this movie actually just ridiculous?" But it passed. It is true that the premise might be considered implausible, but even if it were, it doesn't matter, because the film feels emotionally and psychologically true. This is due in great part to the work by the leads, Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld, which culminates in a beautiful and crushing finale, when reality asserts itself over desire and belief. It's a good lesson to take, kids: Reality always wins out in the end.
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