Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri May 22, 2020 10:45 pm

kgaard. wrote:
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.
I love this film with a passion. And that final moment is so excellent.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sun May 24, 2020 5:03 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 10:45 pm
I love this film with a passion. And that final moment is so excellent.
It's an interesting film to discuss. I initially leaned toward the premise being implausible (especially following the scene
where Nelly "forges" her own handwriting with amazing accuracy
), but my wife made a convincing argument that the psychological needs of the characters (Johnny in this case) could overwhelm their own reason. Though again, I would also say that this is mostly beside the point. It's the tension created by the desires of the leads being in absolute conflict (
Nelly to re-create her old life and Johnny to be certain that his old life is dead and buried
) that makes it all so compelling. One thing that we were uncertain of:
there is a scene early on in the hospital where Nelly gets out of bed and follows a woman to an office where Nelly's picture has been pinned up. What we weren't sure of is who the other woman is meant to be--my assumption was just that this is Nelly herself in a dissociative state, as it would fit with the theme of identity and the uncertainty of self. But I'm not sure of this. It's not a big point but I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sun May 24, 2020 9:57 pm

A fantasy film: Song of the Sea

Just a delightful, beautifully made film. We have been trying for years to make a trip to Ireland, as my wife is part Irish on her mother's side, and we could visit the house her great-grandmother grew up in. On one occasion we were just a few hours from departing when we got word that her grandmother had died (the Irish one, as it happens). Anyway, it looks like it'll be awhile before travel is a thing again, so this was a decent option for sharing a small piece of Irish culture with our son. I really enjoyed the languid pace of the opening third, describing the lore and background of the setting as well as the family dynamics. Ben's complicated relationship with his sister and father (and grandmother) feels authentic--loss pervades the story, but also hope. It's lovely stuff.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon May 25, 2020 12:38 am

Here are my quickies for my middle-of-the-month batch...

A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: TAXI DRIVER (rewatch)
One of my biggest film "hot takes" is that I generally don't care about Scorsese's films. I just don't connect with them. Despite that, I always held this one as one of my favorites of his, but it had been a while since I last saw it. Which is why I didn't hesitate at an opportunity to rewatch it. The film follows Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a troubled loner that spends his days driving his cab around town. When he isn't working, he's visiting pornographic theatres or alone in his apartment. As he witnesses what he sees as the decay of the city and people in general, Bickle becomes more unhinged while planning to do something about it. Bickle is a man that thinks he knows what to do, but clearly doesn't. His actions waver between randomly supporting a political candidate just because he wants to date one of his campaign workers (Cybill Shepherd) to wanting to assassinate him when she rejects him, from criticizing and condemning the moral decay of the city while obliviously participating in it. From murderer to rescuer. Towards the last act, Bickle becomes obsessed with trying to "rescue" Iris (Jodie Foster), a teenage prostitute. He is looking for a path, a way to deal with his troubled mind and perhaps do something good? And maybe, in trying to rescue Iris, he rescued himself. Or did he? Who knows. Grade: A-

A film about mothers: MOTHER (2009)
What best film to watch for this category than a film called... Mother?. Bong Joon-ho's fourth feature follows an unnamed mother (Kim Hye-ja) that lives alone with Yoon Do-joon, her mentally disabled son (Won Bin). When Yoon is accused of murdering a teenage girl, his mother sets out to prove his innocence no matter what. There is so much to praise here, from the way Bong builds the mystery and intrigue, to the way he moves the camera, and the excellent performances from everybody. But special praise goes to Kim who is phenomenal as the mother. Her portrayal of a distraught mother always keeps you wondering what she'll do next in a way that feels organic and believable. There is a reveal towards the middle of the film that pretty much upends everything you've thought of the two main characters up to that point, and I think it's the core of the film, showing that both mother and son are not very different. This one is strongly recommended. Grade: A

Any film that starts with the letters I or J: IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT
The film follows Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), a skilled homicide detective from Philadelphia, that ends up stuck in the rural town of Sparta, Mississippi after visiting his mother. There, he is forced to deal with the racism and bigotry of most people, including Police Chief Gillespie (Rod Steiger), with whom he has to work as they try to solve a murder. This is one I've had on my radar for a while for several reasons. First, it's a Best Picture winner and second, it stars Poitier, who I really haven't seen much of. The film delivers in almost every aspect. Norman Jewison's direction is tight, the script is pretty good, there is some well executed intrigue and tension. But the standout is the performance of Poitier, who has a much needed confidence and swagger for the role. Like a man that is sure of himself, but still feels he has to prove himself to others. One can only imagine the waves this film must have sent, being released right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. I'm a bit on the fence about the resolution of the crime. In a way, it's nice that they didn't go the usual way with the "big bad villain", but in another way, it feels a bit anti-climatic and lacking a certain punch. Still a pretty good film and well worth a watch. Grade: A-

A film featuring the media prominently: SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
There are times when a film comes by where you feel like every piece falls perfectly in its place: direction, script, performances, everything. This film is an example of that. It follows Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), a sleazy and egocentric press agent that finds himself out of luck, until powerful columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) asks him to undermine the relationship of his sister with an aspiring musician. Why this film isn't mentioned more often? I don't know, but I thought it was fabulous. An extremely dark and cynical look at New York life that practically oozes sleaze. All the performances are great, but both Curtis and Lancaster are phenomenal. Paired with the snappy and witty dialogue, every interaction and moment with them just sizzles. Finally, Alexander Mackendrick's direction manages to highlight the apparent facade of glamour from the big city, while also putting the bleakness of the characters that inhabit it up front. From the scheming press to the corrupt police force. This is a film that has stuck in my mind since and one that I feel will stay there. Grade: A+

A film set in space: A TRIP TO THE MOON (rewatch)
I'm sure most of you know the "plot" of George Méliès iconic short. A group of scientists plan a trip to the moon. Upon landing, they are attacked by "moon creatures", forcing them to return to Earth, where they are received with a parade. I've seen this short film several times before, but this time it was special. My older kid has a space coloring book that featured a crude drawing of a cartoonish moon with a rocket in its eye. When he pointed it out to me laughing, I knew I would find a way to make them see the real thing. Sure, the quality of the one I found was cheap, but I was surprised by how much they enjoyed it. Both of them thought the moon "landing" was hilarious and asked me to "rewind it". They also laughed at the "moon creatures" and the "umbrellas" that sprang on the moon. As for me, there's not much else to say. I love it. I'm a huge fan of Méliès work and I think this is a magical short.

A film with a bird's name in its title: YELLOWBIRD
This one's more of a freebie since I already saw a film for this category, but the kids spotted it at Netflix and we ended up seeing it. It is a French/Belgian animated film about an orphaned bird (Seth Green) that ends up being raised by a ladybug (Yvette Nicole Brown). As a result, he's terrified of leaving the place where they live, until he has to reluctantly lead a flock of blue birds in their migration to Africa. This was a very sweet and cute film. The message of conquering your fears and gaining confidence might get a bit muddled with other subplots, but it still works. Also, the voice talent is pretty solid and the animation is beautiful. Grade: B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Mon May 25, 2020 12:45 am

I'll have to revisit Sweet Smell of Success.

As for Taxi Driver, my take on the ending is that
Bickle is still a ticking time bomb. Reconciling with Betsy would indicate that he'd escape from the paranoia he experiences on the streets. By ignoring her attempts to rekindle their relationship (or, at least, I think that's what she was trying to do), this was his way of saying goodbye to her for good. In addition to this, the mesmerizing cinematography at the end mimics the shots in the opening few minutes, further implying this. He may end up being involved in another shooting for all we know, and if so, he might not be hailed as a hero.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon May 25, 2020 1:03 am

I like the ambiguity of the ending because it echoes the ambiguity in Bickle's morals.

There's something there in the end that goes back to what Bickle's friend tells him. About how you become what you do and how we ultimately have no choice in life, a philosophy that is both espoused by Bickle and his friend in different moments of the film and in very different ways. I don't have much to add beyond that, but I like how it puts both nihilism (" you got no choice anyway. I mean we're all fucked, more or less you know") and determinism ("My whole life is pointed in one direction... There never has been any choice for me") up front.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 25, 2020 1:28 am

Late breaking news: Due to trying to find a new job/hoping to get in on the online job hunt, I broke down and I got a Roku and online access.

Right now, tackling Shadow of the Thin Man.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 25, 2020 3:17 am

kgaard. wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 5:03 pm
It's an interesting film to discuss. I initially leaned toward the premise being implausible
I think that it speaks a lot to the way that each character has their own "reality". From Johnny's point of view, his wife is dead. So what reason would he have to think that this woman (who looks something like his wife but not exactly like his wife) actually IS his wife?

What I saw, including from the scene you describe is
two characters, like you say, at different purposes. I think that she intentionally pushes the boundaries (for example by being so good at the handwriting) hoping that he will know it's her. He needs this stranger to be like his wife, so anything that points that way is a good sign and something he's eager to see.


One thing that we were uncertain of:
there is a scene early on in the hospital where Nelly gets out of bed and follows a woman to an office where Nelly's picture has been pinned up. What we weren't sure of is who the other woman is meant to be--my assumption was just that this is Nelly herself in a dissociative state, as it would fit with the theme of identity and the uncertainty of self. But I'm not sure of this. It's not a big point but I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere.
I just rewatched it. I don't think it's a fantasy. My interpretation was that this was where they had photos of all the people who were getting reconstructive surgery, and that it was a different woman who was looking at a picture of her old face. You can see the different groups of photos have different names above them. And on the table in front are books and sketches about reconstructive surgery. Then again, it could be a fantasy sequence. But I saw it as these being the photos that the friend brought in, including the one where she has folded Johnny out of the picture.
kgaard. wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 9:57 pm
A fantasy film: Song of the Sea

Just a delightful, beautifully made film. We have been trying for years to make a trip to Ireland, as my wife is part Irish on her mother's side, and we could visit the house her great-grandmother grew up in. On one occasion we were just a few hours from departing when we got word that her grandmother had died (the Irish one, as it happens). Anyway, it looks like it'll be awhile before travel is a thing again, so this was a decent option for sharing a small piece of Irish culture with our son. I really enjoyed the languid pace of the opening third, describing the lore and background of the setting as well as the family dynamics. Ben's complicated relationship with his sister and father (and grandmother) feels authentic--loss pervades the story, but also hope. It's lovely stuff.
Have you seen Secret of Kells from the same filmmaking crew?
Thief wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:38 am
A film about mothers: MOTHER (2009)
What best film to watch for this category than a film called... Mother?. Bong Joon-ho's fourth feature follows an unnamed mother (Kim Hye-ja) that lives alone with Yoon Do-joon, her mentally disabled son (Won Bin). When Yoon is accused of murdering a teenage girl, his mother sets out to prove his innocence no matter what.
Have you seen The Man from Nowhere? It's a great action flick staring Won Bin and thinking about him in both roles kind of blows my mind sometimes.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 25, 2020 5:22 am

Three for the Price of Two (and one of these don't fit any categories, but it does allow for a second 2020 film already on LB)

Celebrity Escape Room (2020)
It's all about Jack Black who serves the cheesy ham with such gusto playing a rich eccentric who invites friend Ben Stiller, Adam Scott, Lisa Kudrow and Courtney Cox to an escape room where they'll have to re-live their high school days in order to escape and win money for a charity. Yes, it's a Red Nose project (they have to wear a nose if they want a hint), but I'll take something like this over another reboot of a British comedy I haven't seen yet. B

See a film made in the 1940s (May)
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)

Nick and Nora try to solve a murder mystery involving blackmail, horse racing, and Donna Reed (not necessarily in that order). The mystery takes too much of a backseat to the humor and various set pieces (merry go-round, several brawls including a fancy restaurant). The chemistry and banter are still intact even though they have a four year old son (!) now and scene stealing dog Asta. The mystery feels a bit warmed over with its biggest revelations saved for the final few minutes leading to hmm instead of a-ha. Still moderately entertaining. B- or C+

See a film with Muslims or Islam (May)
London River (2011)

Brenda Bleythn plays Elizabeth, a woman desperately looking for her daughter after a bus and train bombing in London. While there, she meets a French Muslim named Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyate) who is looking for his son Ali. Both learn some interesting things about each other and their kids before finally getting the truth. Film doesn't shy away from Elizabeth's prejudices but even for a film that's under 90 minutes, it takes its own sweet time belaboring points that feel obvious and dragging its feet to its conclusion. Both actors have good performances, but they're wasted in a drama that feels too calculated for its own good. D
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon May 25, 2020 1:15 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 3:17 am
Have you seen The Man from Nowhere? It's a great action flick staring Won Bin and thinking about him in both roles kind of blows my mind sometimes.
I saw it a couple of years ago on your recommendation, and loved it. However, I hadn't placed that it was the same guy.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Mon May 25, 2020 1:43 pm

A film from the 1940s:

One Night In The Tropics (1940)

For the past couple of months I've been choosing various B-Movie directors of the 30s-40s and trying to watch as many of their films as I can find. Most of these guys directed literally 100 films so I'm just scrolling Prime and Youtube and watching whatever's available. This has been fun because it's forcing me to watch things I'd never consider, which has resulted in some hidden gems here and there. There's also a nice variety. One night is a gangster film, the next might be pirates or a western.

So my current project is A. Edward Sutherland and last night's film was One Night in the Tropics, about which I knew nothing. The poster featured four smiling faces and a lovely lady in a sarong, so I was expecting a musical romance of some sort. It starts off as a mildly amusing rom-com. Robert Cummings and the guy from A Night at the Opera are in love with the same girl or something. Just as my attention was starting to drift Abbott & Costello show up around 20 minutes in. Turns out this was their film debut. (I did not know this.) So we've got this sort of lame screwball romance thing going on but it's periodically interrupted by an A&C skit which bears little to no connection to the actual plot of the film.

Now I'm not the biggest A&C fan, but they are the clear highlights of this one, and watching them do what amounts to their greatest hits (Who's on first; two tens for a five) it's clear why they became stars. Too bad the surrounding film isn't better.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon May 25, 2020 3:44 pm

All aboard!

See a film set mostly in a train (May)
See a film made in the 1940s (May)

Terror by Night (1946)

After trying (and learning the title is Aussie for Big Rig) Road Train, I settled for a Holmes and Watson adventure aboard a train from London to Edinburgh. This mystery drama comes in a bit less than an hour and it's clear that Basil Rathbone makes for a solid Sherlock Holmes who knows the fine line between smart and arrogance and never crosses it (something that Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch could stand to learn). Nigel Watson plays well off him as a bumbling Watson.

The entry plays out as the detectives get hired on to protect a cursed diamond where death tends to follow. Although the current owner has had it for 25 years without an incident, her son gets offed fairly early and someone attempts to steal the diamond. A group of suspects aboard the train have various red flags screaming suspicion, but this entry makes the mistake of withholding key evidence until the final reel. And it didn't help that the climax felt a bit rushed either.

Still, it's a timefiller that has its charms. C+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Mon May 25, 2020 5:59 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 3:17 am
I think that it speaks a lot to the way that each character has their own "reality". From Johnny's point of view, his wife is dead. So what reason would he have to think that this woman (who looks something like his wife but not exactly like his wife) actually IS his wife?

What I saw, including from the scene you describe is
two characters, like you say, at different purposes. I think that she intentionally pushes the boundaries (for example by being so good at the handwriting) hoping that he will know it's her. He needs this stranger to be like his wife, so anything that points that way is a good sign and something he's eager to see.
Yes, and because we know that
Johnny had divorced Nelly
the tension is raised even further because we know it’s impossible for either of them to get what they really want.

I just rewatched it. I don't think it's a fantasy. My interpretation was that this was where they had photos of all the people who were getting reconstructive surgery, and that it was a different woman who was looking at a picture of her old face. You can see the different groups of photos have different names above them. And on the table in front are books and sketches about reconstructive surgery. Then again, it could be a fantasy sequence. But I saw it as these being the photos that the friend brought in, including the one where she has folded Johnny out of the picture.
In retrospect I think you are correct, mostly because the film is just generally played straight. I do think the scene would work either way so either reading is available.
Have you seen Secret of Kells from the same filmmaking crew?
I have! Also excellent, though SotS Is for me the more accessible film. But possibly that feeling is driven by the fact that my son was too young to watch Kells with me when I did. I’ll have to look for it again now that he’s seen SotS.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon May 25, 2020 10:33 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 4:10 pm
Episode 11 is out, for those paying attention :up:

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 11 (May 14, 2020)
Recorded/edited/published Episode 12 today. Check it out!

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 12 (May 25, 2020)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:17 pm

Any film that starts with the letters I or J: I Am Not Your Negro

I watched this a couple of weeks ago, after Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, but before George Floyd and the Amy Cooper/Christian Cooper incident. Of course, although the past few days have been particularly intense, this could be almost any time in American history. I am old enough to remember Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and Laquan McDonald, obviously. I am old enough to remember Sean Bell, Patrick Dorismond and Amadou Diallo. I'm old enough to remember Rodney King and the L.A. riots. I'm even old enough to remember Eleanor Bumpurs. And before me there were (and the following is by no means exhaustive) the Jackson State killings, Fred Hampton, Medger Evers, Emmett Till, the Tulsa massacre, and countless lynchings, to say nothing of the enslavement, rape, and murder of generations of black people in this country.

For all that, I find myself mostly thinking of Amy Cooper, because she is a person who is most like me: White, liberal, New Yorker. It's the shame of recognition: I have thought about doing what Amy Cooper did. I have never done it. I have always known that the thought itself is wrong and disgraceful. But it's there nonetheless, because I know the world I inhabit. I know that a person like me always has the police available to be used as a weapon against people like Christian Cooper. Or George Floyd. Perhaps I am unusual among white people in having these thoughts (if not the actions) but the evidence suggest otherwise. Years ago I decided I would never call the police on another person expect in the most dire, life-threatening circumstances. I also recognize that my ability to be able to make those kinds of distinctions--especially under stress--will be less than ideal.

When an Amy Cooper says that she "is not a racist" what she really means is she doesn't want to think of herself as a racist. But of course she is. And so am I, and so is just about any white person raised in the conditions of the United States. It's in the water. The truth is, it doesn't really matter so much if you are racist "in your heart". The question is, do you say racist things? Do you do racist things? Do you equivocate over racist structures and policies? Do you do the work of acting in an anti-racist way? Do you do the work on your self?

So, a couple of things struck me particularly in this film. One was when Baldwin talked about white people live in fear, essentially, of self-knowledge, and the other was when he spoke of white people as lacking maturity. Amid our culture of Marvel movies and video games (both of which I enjoy) and our politics of malice and crudity, these critiques felt particularly chastening. I fancy myself an introspective person, but it was a reminder that life has made it easy for me to be so, and maybe I'm not as self-aware as I like to think. This is why I mention the work, because it's the work that matters, and the work that never ends. Watching this movie isn't the work, it's only another reminder that work needs doing.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:30 pm

I appreciate the honesty in your post. I can't speak much about the "American ways" cause I wasn't born/raised there. Being born/raised in a US colony brings a whole lot of different baggage. I only know what pisses me off and seeing the things I've seen during this week (i.e. George Floyd, Amy Cooper) and before, it pisses me off so I try to speak against it as much as I can, and do whatever it's in my reach to make things better. I think that moments like these have been bubbling under the surface for too long, often spilling to the surface, but like someone in 13th said, America has been unable to properly deal with the issues, brushing them under the rug instead. Be it because of the complexity of the issues, the ramifications, or whatever. One can only hope for this to be a moment of reckoning for many, but judging from what one can see/read around (whether it's on the street, social media, or the frickin' White House) it doesn't seem that will happen anytime soon.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:30 pm

Ran out of time to finish Some Like It Hot...will tackle this later this afternoon.

But I did end up with 10 for the month of May:

Thumbs Down:

London River (2011)
Both leads Brenda Blethyn and Sotigui Kouyate are fine in this film about parents of a young man and woman who have disappeared about the time of the London bombings in 2005. But the film heads down a predictable path very slowly for a film that's barely 90 minutes.

Toya (1956)
Norse saga of a girl orphaned by war who gets adopted and all's well until money goes missing and she's accused of stealing it (same type denomination in her coat). But the dialogue feels out of Dragnet and the plotting turns into a bad family sitcom obliterating moments of joy such as the Norwegian scenery and one boy's solid singing voice.

It was OK, I guess:

Minesweeper (1943)
In the middle of World War 2, man agrees to join the Navy along his new friend and proves to be talented. But there's a secret. Richard Arlen is fine, but the B-movie melodrama drowns out what proves to be a gripping story of a man trying to solve a deadly new type of Japanese mine. Robert Mitchum is in this somewhere, but the predictable ending keeps it purely in B-territory.

JD's Revenge (1976)
Solid turns by Lou Gossett Jr., Glynn Turman, and Joan Pringle upgrade this blacksploitation feature about a law student who finds himself hosting the spirit of a long-slain gangster. The ending is dumb and the misogyny leaves a sour taste in the mouth, but the film keeps moving and there's something to be said about Pringle's role feeling at least 2.5 dimensions instead of what could have been 1.

Terror by Night (1946)
Holmes and Watson get hired as watchmen to protect a very fancy, cursed diamond as it and its owner travels via train from London to Edinburgh, Scotland. When the owner's son turns up dead and it vanishes, there's a train full of suspects. Much like Revenge, Night keeps moving and the easy chemistry between Rathbone and Bruce pastes over some issues such as an abrupt climax and a mystery that waits until the end to reveal its pieces. But Rathbone IS able to keep his character on this side of likable which makes a difference.

Thumbs Up:

Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
Nick and Nora are at it again, this time trying to determine who killed a reporter at a horse race track. Although watching them deal with fame proves to be a bit tiresome, the chemistry between the two still crackles and their dog and three year old boy have their moments. Leans a bit more heavily towards the comedy than the mystery, particularly with an aim towards big set pieces. Still had a good time and that counts for something.

The Cat and the Canary (1927)
Twenty years after a rich man dies (presumably of a broken heart from his greedy family), the heirs head over to the mansion to hear the reading of the will. A young lady wins out, but there's a catch: if she's proven to be insane by the morning, someone who's named in an envelope gets the fortune. Of course things take a deadly turn. Could it be an escapee from an insane asylum behind this? Or someone else? Some nice use of intertitles and some solid frights from 1927 lead to a nice re-discovery.

Celebrity Escape Room (2020)
Four celebrities (Ben Stiller, Adam Scott, Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox) end up participating in several challenges to win cash for Red Nose and escape the mansion of a delirious millionaire (Jack Black). Of course it's a charity thing (take a wild guess at what they have to use for a hint), but Black dives into the host thing with cheesy glee and it's a fun hour. Plus enough amusing cameos to hope this is a regular thing every year.

A Field in England (2014)
Four men decide to skip out of a no-win war situation, have a few drinks in a pub and go their separate ways. But one man's master (and the field) has things to say about this. Not entirely sure what happened at the end, but this trippy mix of Apocalypse Now (set in medieval England), a psychedelic movie, and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly has me finally getting why some of you are big on Ben Wheatley.

Thumbs Way Up:

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
How far will a small time press agent go to please a big columnist by breaking up his sister with a jazz musician? And what happens after that? Another cynical film noir special with plenty of snappy dialogue to spare. But all of that would be for naught without the presences of Tony Curtis as the press agent and Burt Lancaster as the columnist.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Tue Jun 02, 2020 12:45 am

Anyway, I finished late last night with a couple of films to spare through the month. Here are my quickies on the last 5 I saw...

A film from Norway: THE WAVE (2015)
Found this one while browsing the Internet for a Norwegian film and it ended up being quite a surprise. Set in the village of Geiranger, located within the mountains and fjords, the film follows Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), a geologist that is about to move with his family to a bigger city after a job promotion. However, when a landslide threatens to trigger the titular "wave", Kristian has to race against the clock to warn his former co-workers and then to protect his family. I know the description sounds like the template for most disaster films, but this one really *worked*. Director Roar Uthaug finds multiple ways to use the typical clichés to his advantage and build a film that's genuinely thrilling and gripping. For the first half of the film, he manages to build up the threat, anchored by solid performances from the cast that makes us care about them. But when the time comes, Uthaug also knows how to work around the "limited" budget to make the inevitable "wave" feel as tense and nerve-wracking as it can be. Seriously, the way he uses the camera to highlight the urgency of the situation with the dread of the approaching tsunami was masterful. The second half isn't as tense or impactful as the first, but thanks to the latter, I was invested in the characters enough to keep me engaged until the end. This one is on Hulu and it's worth a watch. Grade: A-

A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5: THE EAGLE (1925, #25)
This one wasn't my first choice but after my first pick failed on Prime, I shifted to this one. The film follows Vladimir Dubrovsky, a disgraced lieutenant of the Russian Army (Rudolph Valentino) that ends up being persecuted for rejecting the advances of a female superior. As a result, he becomes an outlaw by the name of "The Black Eagle". When his father ends up dead because of the actions of Kyrilla, a ruthless nobleman, Dubrovsky sets out to take revenge but falls for Macha (Vilma Banky), the daughter of Kyrilla instead. For the most part, this was an enjoyable and interesting film. Technically speaking there are some neat uses of the camera here and there by director Clarence Brown; there is a certain tracking shot that looks great. Unfortunately, the film leans more towards the romantic/comedic side, instead of focusing on the adventure side that one would expect from the film's title and plot description. Fortunately, the film is not that long, so whatever flaws it might have, end up feeling quite breezy. Grade: B-

A film about Muslims or Islam: LONDON RIVER
Set immediately after the 2005 London bombings, the film follows Protestant widow Elisabeth (Brenda Blethyn) as she tries to get in touch with her daughter. In her efforts, she constantly stumbles upon Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyaté), an African Muslim that is also trying to get in touch with his estranged son. Upon finding that their children were not only friends but lovers, both have to deal with underlying prejudices to cope with the events. The premise of two opposite strangers that are grieving is not new, but I still think there was a good premise here. Unfortunately, I have to agree with what Apex Predator said. The film moves at an extremely low pace while putting a lot of its chips on the reveal of the fate of the daughter when it's obvious from the get go what has happened. The obvious plus is that the performances from Blethyn and Kouyaté are commendable, but they can only carry the film for so long. Grade: C

A fantasy film: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000)
For some reason I had never seen this, but my wife picked it up for the kids the other day and I ended up watching it. You know the drill, the Grinch (Jim Carrey) wants to ruin Christmas to the residents of Whoville as payback for being bullied and mistreated as a kid. The two obvious plus here are 1) the overall set design and special effects are great and manage to evoke the essence of Dr. Seuss' book and 2) Carrey's performance is fun, moreover when you consider he's buried underneath a ton of makeup. Unfortunately, as fun as some things in it are, I didn't find enough laughs on the film overall to take it over the hump. Finally, the film can't help but feel manufactured, which is the case with many of Ron Howard's films, and the plot is stretched too thin for almost two hours. As for the kids, they more or less enjoyed it, but they weren't as into it as they've been with other films. Grade: C

A film from the 1940s: HIS GIRL FRIDAY
The film follows reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) who is about to quit the job to move and get married, but her editor and ex-husband Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is determined to keep her close by coaxing her into covering the execution of a murderer. I'll get my main thoughts off my chest quickly but, am I a bit of a sourpuss for having problems with the morals in this film. I mean, sure, it's meant to be a screwball comedy, but I've always had issues with films/TV shows where "handsome assholes" swoop in to take the woman from the "bumbling fella". What I mean is that I didn't find the extents to which Burns goes to humiliate Hildy's fiancée to be funny, particularly because he wasn't a bad guy. But we're meant to accept Hildy's blatant dismissal of him because, of course, it's Cary Grant, and they're meant for each other bla bla, but I just felt like watching two self-centered, self-absorbed assholes. The film does have its strengths; all the performances are pretty good, and Russell and Grant have great timing between them, and the fast dialogue is witty and entertaining. I still don't know what to think about the subplot of the prisoner, which felt more peripheral and not that integrated into the main plot, but like I said, my main gripe is that I just didn't connect with it the way it's supposed to. Grade: C

A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (rewatch)
Set in the wake of World War II, Guido (Roberto Benigni) moves to the city of Arezzo, in Tuscany, in order to make money as a waiter and maybe open his own bookshop later. There he is smitten by Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), and the two end up falling in love. When they end up taken into concentration camps, Guido has to make the effort to protect his young son from the horrors of the camp by trying to pretend everything's a game. I remember seeing this shortly after its release and not being a huge fan of it, but it's one of my wife's favorite films and when I rewatched it with her, I ended up warming to it more. It is also set in what is arguably one of our dream tourist destinations: Italy. Granted, the story is not something that should be revisited, but I abide by the film's message that, despite the horrors that might surround us, we can still find beauty in life; whether it's a song, the memory of a loved one, or the innocence of a child. Grade: B+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Tue Jun 02, 2020 2:10 am

Thief wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 12:45 am
A film from Norway: THE WAVE (2015)
Found this one while browsing the Internet for a Norwegian film and it ended up being quite a surprise. Set in the village of Geiranger, located within the mountains and fjords, the film follows Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), a geologist that is about to move with his family to a bigger city after a job promotion. However, when a landslide threatens to trigger the titular "wave", Kristian has to race against the clock to warn his former co-workers and then to protect his family. I know the description sounds like the template for most disaster films, but this one really *worked*. Director Roar Uthaug finds multiple ways to use the typical clichés to his advantage and build a film that's genuinely thrilling and gripping. For the first half of the film, he manages to build up the threat, anchored by solid performances from the cast that makes us care about them. But when the time comes, Uthaug also knows how to work around the "limited" budget to make the inevitable "wave" feel as tense and nerve-wracking as it can be. Seriously, the way he uses the camera to highlight the urgency of the situation with the dread of the approaching tsunami was masterful. The second half isn't as tense or impactful as the first, but thanks to the latter, I was invested in the characters enough to keep me engaged until the end. This one is on Hulu and it's worth a watch. Grade: A-
I liked that one too, and recommend the sequel too (The Quake). I mean, it's kind of funny that this guy has to single-handedly save Norway AGAIN, but if you can get past that it's almost as good as The Wave, if not quite.

The Quake appears to be on Hulu also
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:41 pm

A film set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): Dark Star

At this moment in time it feels not quite correct to spend much time on frivolous pursuits, but my brain could use a short break, so here I am. Dark Star is not without its charms--its film school origins are evident, for good and bad, and even without the benefit of hindsight it was obvious that Carpenter had something to offer. Sometimes the movie is good and fun, sometimes it is bad and fun, and sometimes it is just bad. Recommended to lovers of Carpenter, SF, B-movies, and film history, marginally recommended to anyone else.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:52 pm

I forgot to give my end-of-the-month recap. Here is everything I saw in May...

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title: The Central Park Five
Any film that starts with the letters I or J: In the Heat of the Night
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 358, 501): The Eagle (1925, #25)
A film from the 1940s: His Girl Friday (1940)
A fantasy film: Song of the Sea, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
A film about mothers: Mother (2009)
A film about Muslims/Islam (Ramadan): London River
A film set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): A Trip to the Moon (rewatch)
A film featuring the media prominently (World Press Day, May 3): Sweet Smell of Success
A film with a bird's name in its title (National Bird Day, May 4): To Kill a Mockingbird, Yellowbird
A film set in a country or place you'd like to visit (National Tourism Day, May 7): Life Is Beautiful (rewatch)
A film mostly set on a train (National Train Day, May 10): Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
A film from Norway (Constitution Day, May 17): The Wave (2015)
A film from or with Clint Eastwood (born May 31): Escape from Alcatraz
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes: Taxi Driver (rewatch)


I think my clear favorite was Sweet Smell of Success, but In the Heat of the Night, Mother, and To Kill a Mockingbird were also great.

As for least favorite, that one goes to London River, or maybe How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:53 pm

Next categories will come soon...
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 03, 2020 5:02 pm

Ok, new categories are out...

A film with the number 6 (Six, Sixth, etc.) in its title:
Any film that starts with the letters K or L:
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #6 (i.e. 16, 621, 906):
A film from the 1950s:
A horror film:
A film about fathers:
A film about LGBTQ+ lifestyles (LGBT Pride Month):
A film with Marilyn Monroe (born June 1):
A film with a repeated word in its title (Repeat Day, June 3):
A film about friendship/best friends (Best Friend Day, June 8):
A film with a herb or spice in its title (Herbs and Spices Day, June 10):
A film set in Hawaii (King Kamehameha Day, June 11):
A film from Philippines (Independence Day, June 12):
A film with the word "Summer" in its title (June 20):
A film about a meteor (Meteor Day, June 30):
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 03, 2020 5:05 pm

Some suggestions for Repeat Day... (click here)

Some suggestions for Filipino films... (click here)

About the "Herbs and Spices", I don't think it needs explanation, but here are some herbs (basil, coriander, arugula, mint, marjoram, bay, savory, chives, tarragon, thyme, chervil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, dill) and spices (chili, oregano, ginger, pepper, cardamon, cumin, poppy, paprika, mustard, onion, clove, turmeric, curry, juniper, anise, cinnamon)... so anything like Rosemary's Baby or Paprika (easy!)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:35 pm

A film mostly set on a train (National Train Day, May 10): Train to Busan

I liked this one fine, but it didn't really wow me. The character arcs felt fairly straightforward and predictable, similar to the kinds of class, social, and family conflicts we've seen in zombie films since Night of the Living Dead. It's all well-executed and the train setting provides new opportunities for interesting set pieces, but I was underwhelmed by what the film had to say.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:17 pm

Suggestion for Filipino film: Manila In the Claws of Light
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:17 pm

kgaard. wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:35 pm
A film mostly set on a train (National Train Day, May 10): Train to Busan

I liked this one fine, but it didn't really wow me. The character arcs felt fairly straightforward and predictable, similar to the kinds of class, social, and family conflicts we've seen in zombie films since Night of the Living Dead. It's all well-executed and the train setting provides new opportunities for interesting set pieces, but I was underwhelmed by what the film had to say.
Yeah, I thought it was good, but it didn't leave me that impressed either concerning the hype. It had some interesting set pieces here and there, but it just seemed mostly tension free and I was pretty much always able to figure out if a character would make it out of a situation alive or not based on the setup of the scene.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:39 pm

kgaard. wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:35 pm
A film mostly set on a train (National Train Day, May 10): Train to Busan

I liked this one fine, but it didn't really wow me. The character arcs felt fairly straightforward and predictable, similar to the kinds of class, social, and family conflicts we've seen in zombie films since Night of the Living Dead. It's all well-executed and the train setting provides new opportunities for interesting set pieces, but I was underwhelmed by what the film had to say.
I'm a fan. On a visceral level, it drove me nuts in terms of the tension and the thrills, which is pretty much all I ask from a horror film. But I think the film succeeds in putting solid characters up front. Maybe not particularly multi-dimensional, but at least characters you engage with and feel drawn to.

EDIT: Here is my review
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:59 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:17 pm
Suggestion for Filipino film: Manila In the Claws of Light
Looks interesting, but it's only on the Criterion Channel, which I don't have.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:06 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 5:05 pm
Some suggestions for Filipino films... (click here)
To save you guys some time, from this list, Toto is on Prime and Kid Kulafu is on Netflix. But I'm sure there are other Filipino films that might be available.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:05 am

My thoughts for June:

A film with the number 6 (Six, Sixth, etc.) in its title: Leaning towards 6 Underground (2019/Netflix)
Any film that starts with the letters K or L: The Lovebirds (2020)
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #6 (i.e. 16, 621, 906): Broken Blossoms (1919/# 6) with Lillian Gish and directed by DW Griffith.
A film from the 1950s: I have A Face in the Crowd (1957) on tape primarily because I wanna see Andy Griffith act.
A horror film: Life After Beth (2014)? Not a great selection right now.
A film about fathers: The Week Of (2018)?
A film about LGBTQ+ lifestyles (LGBT Pride Month): Handsome Devil (2016) or Pride (2014)
A film with Marilyn Monroe (born June 1): Need to finish Some Like It Hot (1959)
A film with a repeated word in its title (Repeat Day, June 3): Win Win (2011) is on DVD
A film about friendship/best friends (Best Friend Day, June 8): Friends Don't Let Friends (2017)
A film with a herb or spice in its title (Herbs and Spices Day, June 10): Poppy Shakespeare (2008)
A film set in Hawaii (King Kamehameha Day, June 11): Soul Surfer (2011)
A film from Philippines (Independence Day, June 12): Tarot (2009)
A film with the word "Summer" in its title (June 20): Either Red Hook Summer (2012) or The Last Summer (2019)
A film about a meteor (Meteor Day, June 30): Terrordactyl (2016)

I probably have too many Netflix originals...
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:30 pm

Thief wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 10:33 pm
Recorded/edited/published Episode 12 today. Check it out!

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 12 (May 25, 2020)
In Episode 13 I go back to In the Heat of the Night to try to process some of what is happening in the US and around the world through the prism of that film. And, of course, I talk about the last 5 films I saw in May. Thanks to anyone who listens

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 13 (June 3, 2020)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Jun 05, 2020 2:54 am

Now let me see if I can actually help people (italics mean I've seen it and can recommend it):

A film with the number 6 (Six, Sixth, etc.) in its title:
Netflix: Six Underground, Six Years, Six Days
Prime: To Win It All: The Road to the Six, Six Wives of Henry Le Fay, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (also works for the repeat title one)

Any film that starts with the letters K or L:
Netflix: Klaus, Multiple Kevin Hart standup specials, Kung Fu Hustle, Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Prime: Klondike Fury, Kentucky Rifles
Netflix: Leap, Lady Bird, Lovebirds, Lawless
Prime: Last Call, Last Summer (fits the summer film and LGBTQ ones as well), Lost City of Z

A film from the 1950s:
Prime: Kon-Tiki, The Last Time I Saw Paris (both also fit the K/L starters), Les Diaboliques
Netflix: Nope.

A horror film:
Prime: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, Stagefright, Cabin in the Woods
Netflix: Girl on the 3rd Floor, 47 Meters Down, As Above So Below

A film about fathers:
Netflix: Like Father, The Pursuit of Happyness, Walking Out
Prime: When Did You Last See Your Father?, Voice of My Father, A Father's Choice

A film about LGBTQ+ lifestyles (LGBT Pride Month):
Netflix: Moonlight, Blue is the Warmest Color, I Am Divine
Prime: 1:54, Keep the Lights On, Henry Gamble's Birthday Party

A film with Marilyn Monroe (born June 1):
Prime: Some Like It Hot, Home Town Story (and that's it)
Netflix: Nope

A film with a repeated word in its title (Repeat Day, June 3):
Prime: Getting Go: The Go Doc Project (LGBTQ friendly), Spies a Go Go, Easy Come, Easy Go, Run Silent, Run Deep
Netflix: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, He's Out THEre (I know I'm terrible).

A film about friendship/best friends (Best Friend Day, June 8):
Netflix: Nothing to Hide, Edge of Seventeen, The Disaster Artist
Prime: Friends Don't Let Friends (repeat category), Friends with Kids, With Friends Like These

A film with a herb or spice in its title (Herbs and Spices Day, June 10):
Netflix: Salt, Bayonet, Ginger and Rosa (also Friendship)
Prime: Saving Jamaica Bay, Rosemary's Baby, Ginger Snaps

A film set in Hawaii (King Kamehameha Day, June 11):
Prime: Bustin Down the Door, Jungle Heat, Hang Loose
Netflix: Soul Surfer, Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable, Just Go With It

A film from Philippines (Independence Day, June 12):
Netflix: Four Sisters and a Wedding (need more to see this one to compare notes!), Seven Sundays, Crazy Beautiful You
Prime: Time and Again, Don't Cry for Me, Papa, Four Sisters and a Wedding ;)

A film with the word "Summer" in its title (June 20):
Prime: Red Hook Summer, The Endless Summer, The Perfect Summer
Netflix: Summer Night, The Last Summer, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

A film about a meteor (Meteor Day, June 30):
Prime: Meteor Apocalypse, Night Feeders, Terrordactyl
Netflix: Does Deep Impact count?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:10 pm

Alright, my list is entering into its final form (changes in bold):

A film with the number 6 (Six, Sixth, etc.) in its title: 6 Underground (2019/Netflix)
Any film that starts with the letters K or L: The Lovebirds (2020/Netflix)
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #6 (i.e. 16, 621, 906): M (1931/Hoopla/#61)
A film from the 1950s: A Face in the Crowd (1957)
A horror film: Life After Beth (2014/Netflix)
A film about fathers: When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007/Prime)
A film about LGBTQ+ lifestyles (LGBT Pride Month): Pride (2014/Prime)
A film with Marilyn Monroe (born June 1): Need to finish Some Like It Hot (1959/Prime)
A film with a repeated word in its title (Repeat Day, June 3): Run Silent, Run Deep (1958/Prime)
A film about friendship/best friends (Best Friend Day, June 8): The Disaster Artist (2017/Netflix)
A film with a herb or spice in its title (Herbs and Spices Day, June 10): Salt (2010/Netflix)
A film set in Hawaii (King Kamehameha Day, June 11): Soul Surfer (2011/Netflix)
A film from Philippines (Independence Day, June 12): 6 Sundays (2017/Netflix)
A film with the word "Summer" in its title (June 20): Red Hook Summer (2012/Prime)
A film about a meteor (Meteor Day, June 30): Meteor Storm (2010/Tubi)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:29 pm

Criteron Channel has made selected films by black filmmakers and/or black experience available for free to all. Relevant to this thread are The Watermelon Woman (LGBTQ+), Portrait of Jason (LGBTQ+), Suzanne, Suzanne (repeated word), Losing Ground (starts with letter K or L). Possibly others as well.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:57 pm

kgaard. wrote:
Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:29 pm
Criteron Channel has made selected films by black filmmakers and/or black experience available for free to all. Relevant to this thread are The Watermelon Woman (LGBTQ+), Portrait of Jason (LGBTQ+), Suzanne, Suzanne (repeated word), Losing Ground (starts with letter K or L). Possibly others as well.
Portrait of Jason is one of my favourites I've seen in the past few years.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:22 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:57 pm
Portrait of Jason is one of my favourites I've seen in the past few years.
I'm looking forward to it based on the cover image alone.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Jun 08, 2020 3:12 am

Alright, and off we go!

See a film with a 5 in the 1001 films to see before you die (May)
See a film with Marilyn Monroe (June)

Some Like It Hot (1959)
Sax player Joe (Tony Curtis) and bass player Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are broke, after escaping a gig in a Chicago speakeasy before being captured by the cops. They agree to take on an assignment that's in Urbana for $12 (I presume that's enough for gas there and back). But on their way to pick up the car, Joe and Jerry witness gangster Spats (George Raft) wiping out a rival gang.

They decide to take on a gig that nobody as interested in filling for a couple weeks in Florida with room, board and good pay. The catch? The gig involves a band entirely made of girls. So, they'll have to dress the part. But complications ensue as Joe falls for female singer Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) and Jerry finds himself wooed by millionaire Osgood (Joe E. Brown).

In the wrong hands, so much could have gone wrong. Luckily, the talent on screen and behind the scenes made sure that it mostly went right.

Joe and Jerry remain likable even though they may find their plans changing. Marilyn Monroe proves to have a decent singing voice and some range (she plays dumb as beautifully as Judy Holiday did in Born Yesterday, but she also gets some moments to do some drama as well). Joe E. Brown takes a character that could have been scummy and converts him to wonderfully clueless. They manage to do the expected jokes about how much more difficult women have it with dressing up and dealing with men, but it doesn't spend too much time dealing with them.

Credit must also be given to Billy Wilder who wrote the script and managed to make a 2 hour plus screwball comedy mostly work. He balances bringing the laughs with some more dramatic moments.

There is a bit of tonal whiplash as the film nearly stops the show late. And I don't think I found the amorous bellhop funny. And the ending was more of a shrug than anything.

But yeah, I suspect I just ran through the best of Tony Curtis in the last couple of months. I'm sure someone will point out a gem or two that I missed.

But yeah, for a film that could have ended up a disaster, this worked well enough. A-/B+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:56 pm

Ok, let's hear some thoughts on some films I might be considering for the challenge...

Number 6 in the title
DeepStar Six
Mr. Six

Summer in the title
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (also works for the "repeat" category)

Repeated word in the title
Eye for an Eye (there's the 90s one with Kiefer Sutherland, which I've seen, and another recent one on Netflix)

LGBTQ
Blue is the Warmest Color
Philadelphia (I saw it in the 90s, but I wouldn't mind a rewatch)

Friendship
The Intouchables
Superbad
Thelma & Louise (also saw it in the 90s, but I wouldn't mind a rewatch)

Fathers
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
High Life
Hud

1950s film
Stalag 17
Roman Holiday
To Catch a Thief

Horror film
Overlord

Set in Hawaii
The Hawaiians

Meteor
Night of the Comet (does it qualify?)

Marilyn Monroe
Home Town Story (it seems to be the only one available, other than Some Like It Hot)


All of those are available on Prime, Hulu, Netflix, or Tubi.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:17 pm

Thief wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:56 pm
Ok, let's hear some thoughts on some films I might be considering for the challenge...

Number 6 in the title
DeepStar Six
Mr. Six

Summer in the title
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (also works for the "repeat" category)

Repeated word in the title
Eye for an Eye (there's the 90s one with Kiefer Sutherland, which I've seen, and another recent one on Netflix)

LGBTQ
Blue is the Warmest Color
Philadelphia (I saw it in the 90s, but I wouldn't mind a rewatch)

Friendship
The Intouchables
Superbad
Thelma & Louise (also saw it in the 90s, but I wouldn't mind a rewatch)

Fathers
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
High Life
Hud

1950s film
Stalag 17
Roman Holiday
To Catch a Thief

Horror film
Overlord

Set in Hawaii
The Hawaiians

Meteor
Night of the Comet (does it qualify?)

Marilyn Monroe
Home Town Story (it seems to be the only one available, other than Some Like It Hot)

All of those are available on Prime, Hulu, Netflix, or Tubi.
Brief thoughts:

That Spring one kind of sounds interesting for the summer/repeat categories. *slaps head* And I forgot about If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle. That was on my Netflix queue forever.

I've come close to renting Blue is the Warmest Color before. Also, it's stuck on my queue (maybe it's the runtime?).

If you want to emphasize one 1990s rewatch, make it Thelma and Louise. The friendship between the two leads and the solid acting/writing I think will hold up better than the well meaning Philly.

I actually did rent Intouchables, but alas, I never got around to watching this one. Of course with Family Video gone, RIP on that dream. LOL

If you're going to dive into the Sidney Poitier realm, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a good one. Also featuring Hepburn and Tracy. Let me know when see To Sir with Love.

Roman Holiday and To Catch a Thief are both films I wouldn't mind seeing myself. A good review might be all I need to boost the film up the ranks.

I forgot about Overlord. Heard some good things about that one.

If you can spin it as a meteor movie, Night of the Comet is a fun zombie film.

Lowkey relieved that Takoma didn't try to press Flexing with Monty as an option, LOL.
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Thief
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:24 pm

Another question would be if you consider The Lighthouse a horror film. Or if it would apply for the "friendship" category? :D
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Captain Terror
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:09 pm

Thief wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:56 pm
Ok, let's hear some thoughts on some films I might be considering for the challenge...

Blue is the Warmest Color - good film, but my opinion was somewhat sullied later when the actresses had some things to say about the director that weren't great. I don't pretend to know what the true story is there, but it was enough to sour me on it.

High Life - definitely worth your time, even though I can't predict whether anyone will actually like it. However, despite whatever synopsis you've read I'm not sure it's a good choice for the "Father" category. Like, technically it is I guess but by the end it's a whole other thing.

Stalag 17 - Saw this for the first time recently and wasn't a huge fan. Easily my least favorite Wilder film.

To Catch a Thief - not Hitch's best, but entertaining enough. This just in: Grace Kelly was a pretty lady.
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Popcorn Reviews
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:19 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:24 pm
Another question would be if you consider The Lighthouse a horror film. Or if it would apply for the "friendship" category? :D
It's just two guys struggling to become friends. It teaches an important lesson to all to be more kind to each other. Essential family film!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:23 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:09 pm
Blue is the Warmest Color - good film, but my opinion was somewhat sullied later when the actresses had some things to say about the director that weren't great. I don't pretend to know what the true story is there, but it was enough to sour me on it.

High Life - definitely worth your time, even though I can't predict whether anyone will actually like it. However, despite whatever synopsis you've read I'm not sure it's a good choice for the "Father" category. Like, technically it is I guess but by the end it's a whole other thing.

Stalag 17 - Saw this for the first time recently and wasn't a huge fan. Easily my least favorite Wilder film.

To Catch a Thief - not Hitch's best, but entertaining enough. This just in: Grace Kelly was a pretty lady.
I've liked/enjoyed everything I've seen from Wilder so far, so I'm willing to give Stalag 17 a shot. However, I'm 36 films into Hitchcock filmography, so the completist in me might lean towards To Catch a Thief. I know I will eventually get to it anyway, but It seems now is as good a time as any.

As for High Life, I have avoided reading too much about it, but the few brief synopsis I've read say "Monte and his baby daughter bla bla bla". I have a feeling that it gets more heady as it goes on, so that's why I'm asking. If I do go that way, it would also be my first Denis film, so there's that as well.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:24 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:19 pm
It's just two guys struggling to become friends. It teaches an important lesson to all to be more kind to each other. Essential family film!
I've read there's farts and we all know there's not an experience as bonding as farting with a friend.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:45 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:09 pm
Blue is the Warmest Color - good film, but my opinion was somewhat sullied later when the actresses had some things to say about the director that weren't great. I don't pretend to know what the true story is there, but it was enough to sour me on it.
Yeah, that's my take on this one. Very sketchy treatment of his actors at best, abuse at worst.

I haven't seen Philadelphia since it came out but my recollection of it is that it was a safe, milquetoast presentation of the AIDS crisis designed not to frighten or challenge middlebrow Academy voters. I get why it was made that way but I was unimpressed.

For LGBTQ+ I always make a pitch for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, one of my favorites on stage and on film (I think it might be on HBO now?). I'll also make a case for The Watermelon Woman, which is currently free on Criterion--I'll post more about that one soon.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:48 pm

I've had my eye on Hedwig for years but for some reason, I've never gotten around to it. I even checked before posting that list, but it's only available on HBO Max, which I still don't have.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:51 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:23 pm
I've liked/enjoyed everything I've seen from Wilder so far, so I'm willing to give Stalag 17 a shot. However, I'm 36 films into Hitchcock filmography, so the completist in me might lean towards To Catch a Thief. I know I will eventually get to it anyway, but It seems now is as good a time as any.
Stalag 17 is certainly not a bad film, I just didn't really connect with anybody. A bit too macho for me maybe. And in the back of my mind I kept thinking that German POW camps probably were a lot less pleasant than this. And the Hitchcock film has "Thief" in the title, so that's that.
Thief wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:23 pm
the few brief synopsis I've read say "Monte and his baby daughter bla bla bla".
Right, that's what I figured. That is definitely not what the second half of the film is about. Or maybe it is. On second thought, watch it and then explain it to me. :)

PS--I wholeheartedly support calling The Lighthouse a "friendship" film. :up:
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:56 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:09 pm
To Catch a Thief - ...This just in: Grace Kelly was a pretty lady.
No shit. Woooo. I mean, she's utterly not my type and it don't matter one bit.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Wed Jun 10, 2020 4:03 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:48 pm
I've had my eye on Hedwig for years but for some reason, I've never gotten around to it. I even checked before posting that list, but it's only available on HBO Max, which I still don't have.
Oh, you should see it, really cool flick. Also some good songs. Not all great but some gems. "Midnight Radio" and "Wig In A Box" are real standouts.
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