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 » Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:13 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:27 pm

A film featuring a clown: TERRIFIER
None of the recommendations I got for this category were available streaming, but when I saw this was available on Netflix, I seemed to remember someone recommending it months ago, so I decided to give it a chance. And boy, what a surprise it was. The film follows a murderous clown that goes by the name of Art, who terrorizes a group of female friends as they seek refuge in an abandoned building. I kid you not that this is probably one of the best horror films I've seen recently. From "simpler" things like the creepy makeup of the clown to the way the film manages to subvert some tropes of the horror genre. The film manages to have some good scares, but it's also gory as hell with the clown using saws, knives, and blades to do his thing (heads are stabbed, bashed in, and cut, characters are split open) So if that's what you're going for, this is it. But even though the overall package is good, the thing that won me over was a simple detail that I'd like to share for anyone that has seen it...
Halfway through the film, the clown is terrorizing what seems to be the main girl. However, she manages to get the upper hand, knocks him over and starts beating him with a 2x4. As she defyingly starts taunting him to get up, he slowly gets on one knee and.... pulls a gun from his ankle and shoots the girl. There's a simplicity to that that you just gotta love. As he realizes he has no more bullets, he goes back to his bag, puts another magazine and finishes the girl by shooting her repeatedly in the face. I mean, it's not only the fact that they off the girl that we've been following for almost 40 minutes, but also, how many slasher films can you remember where the killer pulls up a gun? Like I said, it's a very simple detail, but I loved it.
The main con that the film has are the performances. Not that they are bad, but some of them are on the weak side. Other than that, I can just say that I enjoyed the hell out of this and it has stuck in my mind since. Grade: A-
I was worried you were gonna make Wooley start cussin' again. :)
It's an ugly and unpleasant film so I really don't want to be the guy that's always defending it, but your take is pretty much identical to mine. I love that you specifically mention that spoilered bit because it was also a standout for me. If you click Wooley's link and scroll down a few posts you'll see my original thoughts on the matter so I won't rehash them here.
When it showed up on my Letterboxd friends' activity I worried that I was to blame for this one too, so I'm relieved to hear you liked it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:30 pm

kgaard. wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:01 am

A romantic film: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My wife picked this one, too, and the reason is probably more interesting than the movie. We both watched this on a plane back in 2003(?) coming back from a trip to Europe. My wife loved it and I, to be kind, did not. As it happens, my wife's family is basically Toula's (only Jewish, not Greek) and mine is basically Ian's (only I have siblings). Anyway, due to several factors, but yes, including our dissimilar backgrounds, we actually broke up soon after this. Not so much because I disliked the movie, but it was symptomatic of the issues between us at the time. Of course, given that we are now married, we sorted these things out. Watching this again now, almost 20 years later, I ...didn't actually hate it. While I wouldn't call myself a fan, I do appreciate how it avoids some of the pitfalls of a lot of movies of this ilk: comic misunderstanding that could easily be resolved if only the characters spoke to each other, contrived break-ups and reattachments. It has an uncomplicated sweetness.



...Mostly harmless.
I've never understood anyone not liking this movie. Anyone. Very first time I saw it, in the theater, I thought it was just about as charming a little movie as one could ask for and very funny. I'd watch it any time.


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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Sep 04, 2020 4:58 pm

kgaard. wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:01 am
All right, time to blow through the rest of these...

A film from John Huston (born August 5): The Maltese Falcon

My original intention was to watch Under the Volcano, but on her turn my wife picked this one, and though I have seen this, it was a long time ago and a rewatch was a welcome pleaasure. I have nothing of note to say about this one--just that it's a classic for a reason.

A film based on a book (Book Lover's Day, August 9): Out of Africa

Sydney Pollack's gauzy portrayal of African colonialists, based on the autobiography by Karen Blixen (writing as Isak Dinesin), suffers from a lot of the usual problems of the movies of its type--attentuated timelines, a decent amount of white saviourism, narratve aimlessness--though it's just about worth it for Meryl Streep and (to a lesser extent) Robert Redford, and I admit to kind of enjoying its languid pacing. Not without merit.

A romantic film: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My wife picked this one, too, and the reason is probably more interesting than the movie. We both watched this on a plane back in 2003(?) coming back from a trip to Europe. My wife loved it and I, to be kind, did not. As it happens, my wife's family is basically Toula's (only Jewish, not Greek) and mine is basically Ian's (only I have siblings). Anyway, due to several factors, but yes, including our dissimilar backgrounds, we actually broke up soon after this. Not so much because I disliked the movie, but it was symptomatic of the issues between us at the time. Of course, given that we are now married, we sorted these things out. Watching this again now, almost 20 years later, I ...didn't actually hate it. While I wouldn't call myself a fan, I do appreciate how it avoids some of the pitfalls of a lot of movies of this ilk: comic misunderstanding that could easily be resolved if only the characters spoke to each other, contrived break-ups and reattachments. It has an uncomplicated sweetness.

A film with a primarily senior cast (Senior Citizens Day, August 21): The Straight Story

Yeah, I love this one. Totally accessible Lynch. Otherwise I'll just endorse Thief's fine review above.

A film featuring a volcano (Vesuvius Day, August 24): Moana

I love this one, too! I've seen it before, of course, but honestly? This is my favorite Disney film. Great songs, an interesting and well-thought-out story, and a finale and conflict that relies on grace for resolution over violence. What's not to like?

A film set in school: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Okay, a lot of this takes place in history, but it's for a school project! And it ends at school! I'm counting it! Another rewatch, I confess I'm not a huge fan of this--its dopey humor is just a bit too dopey for me--but my kid wanted to see it and it is pretty gentle (one unfortunate and dated use of the f-word slur aside) and the leads' charms are apparent. Mostly harmless.

A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #8 (i.e. 18, 380, 851): Young Frankenstein

Yet another all-time favorite. My parents used to check this one out from the library frequently (on VHS!) so I know it by heart. Endlessly quotable and probably the artistic height of the Mel Brooks canon. My son is also now a fan, which gives me a huge case of the feels. A family treasure.
That's a great batch of films. I rewatched The Maltese Falcon earlier this year and it was as great as I remembered, maybe even better.

I need to rewatch both Bill and Ted's. I'm reading/hearing good things about the third one, but I haven't seen the first two since the early 90s probably.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:51 pm

Wooley wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:41 am
Here ya go, if you want it. https://corrierino.com/forum/viewtopic. ... 9#p1259769

I just re-read it and was reminded that I actually didn't just hate the character, I thought it was a really bad horror movie regardless. Do with it what you will.
Thanks for sharing.

Like I said on my brief write-up, I really liked the film. I hadn't even heard of the previous film, All Hallow's Eve, so I didn't have that frame of reference when I watched Terrifier. It seems to me that half of your dislike of the film comes from the differences between one and the other, but I obviously can't argue with that. Maybe if I see the short now, I will either feel the opposite from you, or understand better your position.

As for your other reasons to dislike...
I find myself more in sync with several comments from crumbs, MKS, and Cap on the same thread. For example, regarding the misogyny, do you think the film is misogynist or that the serial killer/murderer character is a misogynist? Because if it's the latter, then we can add it to the list of unlikable traits he has along with being a murderer. If it's the former, then I didn't perceive it that way. I've been watching horror films and slashers all my life and I've seen countless of other films where the filmmakers show either more contempt and/or clear misogyny towards their female characters (dumb, slutty, frequently naked) and I didn't get that here. I mean, sure, there's violence and contempt towards the characters, but I didn't get it as a blanket statement towards women. They just happened to be on the path of the tornado, so to speak.

On the other hand, the two main female characters show they are capable enough to get considerable upper hands against a stronger male. Both of them are able to fight him off and injure him in repeated occasions. We can argue about the "dumbness" of certain character decisions, but I didn't see it as something specifically related to their gender, but rather to the typical slasher tropes.

As for the violence being sexual, I don't think I perceived it that way either. When he "saws" the victim in half, I associated it more with the Medieval torture than with something inherently sexual in nature. After all, the clown's goal was to a) torture/kill the victim and b) terrorize the protagonist. Sure, there's the argument that the killer later skinned the breasts of a woman and wore them, but other than that, there's also a relatively equal amount of violence served against men where they are either beheaded, stabbed in the face, head smashed, etc.

As for the "gun thing", I think I already explained why I liked that so much in my original post. Seriously loved that touch.
Regardless, good arguments and discussion on that other thread.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:46 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:01 am
I'm finishing up the categories for September. Give me until tomorrow to post them all.

In the meantime, here is an advance...

A film with the number 9 (Nine, Ninth, etc.) in its title
Any film that starts with the letters Q or R
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #9 (i.e. 19, 290, 980)
A film from the 1980s
A science-fiction film
A film with the word "Fall" or "Autumn" in its title
A film with a primarily Hispanic/Latino cast (Hispanic Heritage Month)
A film primarily set in the workplace (Labor Day, Sep 7)
A film based or featuring video games (Nat'l Video Games Day, Sep 12)
A film from Mexico (Mexican Independence Day, Sep 16)
A film with the word "Dance" in its title (Nat'l Dance Day, Sep 19)
A film featuring Native American characters (Native American Day, Sep 25)
A film based on a comic book (Nat'l Comic Book Day, Sep 25)
A film from Robert Bresson (born September 25)
A film with a question in its title (Ask a Stupid Question Day, Sep 28)

I'll post the other categories tomorrow. There they are! :)
Done!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:15 pm

Wooley wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:30 pm
I've never understood anyone not liking this movie. Anyone. Very first time I saw it, in the theater, I thought it was just about as charming a little movie as one could ask for and very funny. I'd watch it any time.


...and it sounds like you might be one frood who at least knows where his towel is.
I feel seen by this.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:09 pm

Early thoughts for September:

A film with the number 9 (Nine, Ninth, etc.) in its title: The Cat O'Nine Tails (1971) appears to be a Dario Argento film and is on Prime
Any film that starts with the letters Q or R Roped (2020) is on Netflix, and might be the kind of uplifting fare I could use. Maybe?
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #9 (i.e. 19, 290, 980) Past time to do Drugstore Cowboy (1989, #799) which is on Tubi
A film from the 1980s Akira (1988) which is on Tubi.
A science-fiction film Guess what showed up on Tubi? The Hunger Games (2012)
A film with the word "Fall" or "Autumn" in its title A little behind on my 2020 viewing so I guess it's time to watch A Fall from Grace (2020) on Netflix?
A film with a primarily Hispanic/Latino cast (Hispanic Heritage Month) Even the Rain (2010) on Netflix feels like the right choice...unless it's supposed to be set in America?
A film primarily set in the workplace (Labor Day, Sep 7) Mutiny of the Worker Bees (2020) should fit, I think.
A film based or featuring video games (Nat'l Video Games Day, Sep 12) Thank You for Playing (2016) is on Prime and should work.
A film from Mexico (Mexican Independence Day, Sep 16) Mutiny of the Worker Bees comes from Mexico so it works here as well.
A film with the word "Dance" in its title (Nat'l Dance Day, Sep 19) Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (2014) on Prime.
A film featuring Native American characters (Native American Day, Sep 25) Crooked Arrows (2012) is a documentary on a Native American lacrosse team.
A film based on a comic book (Nat'l Comic Book Day, Sep 25) Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) which is on Redbox.
A film from Robert Bresson (born September 25) Nothing's streaming anywhere that I have, so I guess I can skip this one?
A film with a question in its title (Ask a Stupid Question Day, Sep 28) What Did Jack Do? (2020) on Netflix could work. Plus, it's short.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sun Sep 06, 2020 12:55 pm

Thief wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:39 pm
Here's Episode 19! Special Birthday episode with some of your recommendations and your thoughts on what you recommended...

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 19 (August 17, 2020)

Thanks to Popcorn Reviews, Captain Terror, Apex Predator, and kgaard, who recommended some of the films I talk about in this episode. Check it out!
And here's Episode 20, to close out my Birthday month with your recommendations.

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 20 (September 4, 2020)

Thanks to Captain Terror, who once again recommended one of the films I talk about in this episode. Check it out!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Death Proof » Sun Sep 06, 2020 2:24 pm

A film with the number 9 (Nine, Ninth, etc.) in its title - The Ninth Gate
Any film that starts with the letters Q or R - Quadrophenia
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #9 (i.e. 19, 290, 980) - Duck Soup
A film from the 1980s - Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann
A science-fiction film - Silent Running
A film with the word "Fall" or "Autumn" in its title - Falling Down
A film with a primarily Hispanic/Latino cast (Hispanic Heritage Month) - Kiss of the Spider Woman
A film primarily set in the workplace (Labor Day, Sep 7) - Office Space
A film based or featuring video games (Nat'l Video Games Day, Sep 12) - The Last Starfighter
A film from Mexico (Mexican Independence Day, Sep 16) - Cronos
A film with the word "Dance" in its title (Nat'l Dance Day, Sep 19) - C ME DANCE
A film featuring Native American characters (Native American Day, Sep 25) - The Prophecy (1995)
A film based on a comic book (Nat'l Comic Book Day, Sep 25) - Ghost World
A film from Robert Bresson (born September 25) - L'argent
A film with a question in its title (Ask a Stupid Question Day, Sep 28) - Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sun Sep 06, 2020 7:06 pm

Look back at August.

Six films isn't great, but it's not my worst month...it was January (5).

Not Recommended:

Vultures in the Void (2014)---Short details a space standoff between the captain of a freighter and three space pirates, one of which she's working with, as they flip back and forth over the freighter's fortune. Meanwhile, the clock's ticking until the ship gets help after its signal gets sent off. A few interesting moments and laughs can't hide the fact that it feels like a cheap concept short film sent to funding for a more elaborate one with better special effects and acting.

Kind of recommended:

Into the Inferno (2016)---Werner Herzog documentary on volcanoes is more scattershot than you'd like as its focus zips from Vanuatu to Indonesia to North Korea. Some strong visuals and solid moments as we learn about people who treat volcanoes almost like a religious deity. Highlights include sequences in North Korea and a tribe in Vanuatu worshiping the spirit of an American GI (although I wish Werner had pressed on an apparent schism).

Dog by Dog (2015)---Documentary on the ills of puppy farms and the efforts by people to fight back against them hits most of its expected spots (outside a sequence that threatens to turn into the dangers of hog farming). You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be frustrated by the government's lack of action. And odds are you'll won't want to see a dog show afterwards.

After You Left (2019)---Short takes a look at a woman awaiting her ex dropping off her stuff from when they lived together. Meanwhile, she thinks back on the highs and lows of the relationship. Manages to pack a decent amount of emotion into its short time frame. I think director April Maxey could be a name to keep an eye out in the future.

Our Souls at Night (2017)---A relationship between two widowers in a small town starts with him spending the night at her bed (less about sex and more about baring their souls) but evolves with time. Redford and Fonda have good chemistry together and you can totally buy the relationship. Nice support from Bruce Dern as the lead town gossip and Iain Armitage as Fonda's grandson. If only the subplot involving her troubled son ever rose past cliche status...or if his American accent ever kicked in.

Recommended (although I think I'm late to the party):

Clueless (1995)---Cher is a popular high schooler who decides to do selfless acts on the behalf of others. After she's able to get two lonelyheart teachers hooked up, she sets her sights on improving the long term prospects of the new girl in school. Director Amy Heckerling infuses this comedy with smarts and confidence and the cast pretty much ensures that this is among the top 2 high school movies of the 1990s. Wonder why Paul Rudd (playing Cher's college age ex-stepbrother) and Diane Lane have never acted together before...they could totally nail The Picture of Dorian Gray.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:37 pm

Any film that starts with the letters Q or R:
A film from the 1980s:
A science-fiction film:

The Running Man

Empty calories, but mostly fun. Richard Dawson steals the show from Arnold, imo. See 80s thread for my full thoughts.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:00 am

A film from Robert Bresson (born September 25): Pickpocket

Never seen a Bresson film before--based on this I will see more. It's a very spare film, almost solipsistic in its relentless focus on the pickpocket, Michel, and yet there remains a certain distance from his emotional state. Perhaps even he is uncertain what he is feeling. It feels almost like a fable in its ideas of morality and the possibility of redemption. Bresson ascetic style lends to this feeling, isolating Michel among his fellow humans--if he is to be redeemed, it seems he must go down the path of suffering first.

A film with a question in its title (Ask a Stupid Question Day, Sep 28): Where Is the Friend's House?

Every Saturday, just about, we rotate picking a film between me, my wife, and son. This week was my pick, and once again I rely on Criterion to help me out. Like Bresson, I've never seen a Kiarostami film (and neither, I'm pretty sure, had my wife or son). It felt a little risky--a foreign film with subtitles is not the first choice for kids--but I think it paid off. It's a beautiful, seemingly simple film with tremendous depth. The plot is only slightly more complicated than the title: a boy has accidently taken his classmate's notebook and must find his house to return it. As the kids in the film are the same age as my son, I think it helped him to relate to it more easily. He was clearly frustrated by the fact that, as he put it, "all the grown-ups in the movie are jerks." It's true! But we talked about how the movie knows this--it's on the kids' side--and indeed this is a lot of the point: people will say you should act one way but themselves act another, and to do right in the world is a hard thing that takes determination.

Two films very different in many ways, surprisingly similar in others, both genuine classics.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:28 am

kgaard. wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:00 am
A film from Robert Bresson (born September 25): Pickpocket

Never seen a Bresson film before--based on this I will see more. It's a very spare film, almost solipsistic in its relentless focus on the pickpocket, Michel, and yet there remains a certain distance from his emotional state. Perhaps even he is uncertain what he is feeling. It feels almost like a fable in its ideas of morality and the possibility of redemption. Bresson ascetic style lends to this feeling, isolating Michel among his fellow humans--if he is to be redeemed, it seems he must go down the path of suffering first.
Outside of A Man Escaped, I've struggled with Bresson in the past (I've seen a handful of his films), but I recently responded very well to Mouchette, so I might revisit this film pretty soon. Nice summary of it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:40 am

Finally, here are some quick thoughts on my first batch of films for September...

A film from the 1980s: THE BLACK CAULDRON
Set in the Middle Ages, the film follows Taran, a young swineherd, that has to stop the evil Horned King from obtaining a magical cauldron that will help him take over the world. Taran is joined in his journey by Princess Eilonwy, a bard, and a hairy creature named Gurgi. Being a kid in the 1980s, I remember being intrigued by the trailers to this, but I never got to see it. Not being available in video for more than a decade, most of what I heard about it was about its lukewarm reception and failed box office. Having seen it now, I can say it wasn't that bad. Certainly not as bad as its reputation might lead you to think. Yes, the story is a bit derivative, particularly now that everybody knows about Lord of the Rings, but it's still thrilling and even somewhat scary. The Horned King and his army are pretty cool, and probably unlike anything Disney had done to this point. As for the lead characters, they are a bit thin, but that's usual in children's films. I do think the film lacked a certain something, or charm. The way the story is built, it seems that the directors were counting on Gurgi being seen as a cute character, but I found him annoying, which kinda hinders a climatic moment in the film. Overall, it's mid-tier Disney, but still might be worth a watch for fans of medieval and adventure stories. Grade: B

A film based on a comic book: SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
Catching up with the MCU, this film follows Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he heads on a school trip to Europe, while still trying to cope with the events after Endgame. As he is pursued by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to take a more upfront role in the superhero world, Peter finds himself longing for a normal teenage life instead, which includes pursuing a relationship with MJ (Zendaya). All of that is interrupted when otherworldy creatures start creating havoc, while a mysterious character dubbed *ahem* Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) appears. This was... ok, I guess? It was somewhat entertaining, but not particularly memorable. I like Holland as Parker, and I kinda like the moments where we see him trying to deal with real-life, teenager issues and insecurities, but as far as the superhero stuff, it more or less follows the same beats than other MCU films. Even the Mysterio "twist" is not much of a twist because most people with Spider-Man knowledge know that he's a bad guy. As for the other "twist"...
The whole Mysterio thing being a ruse felt a bit farfetched, while also a bit borrowed from the Mandarin stuff on Iron Man 3. I mean, not exactly the same, but I guess it just didn't work that well for me. Gyllenhaal still sold it as well as he could, but I don't know.
Despite that, the film is not boring; I had fun watching it. It just lacks a bit of a punch. Grade: B or B-

A film with the number 9 (Nine, Ninth, etc.) in its title: THE CAT O' NINE TAILS
The film follows Arno (Karl Malden), a middle-aged blind man, that pairs with a reporter (James Franciscus) to investigate a series of murders. This is me dipping my toes on both Argento's filmography and the giallo sub-genre, of which I've seen roughly a handful. However, this one feels a bit more straightforward and lacks that distinctive visual style from the few Argento and/or giallo films I've seen. Regardless, the plot is intriguing and well executed, there are some genuinely tense moments, and the performances (particularly Malden and Franciscus) are solid. One curious thing for me is the reasoning for making Arno a blind man, when that trait ultimately has no relevance to the plot. As it is, I find it at times cool that you have this middle-aged, blind man keeping up with the younger reporter, jumping fences and sneaking into buildings, but at times it's also a bit distracting in terms of how grounded and believable everything feels. The plot does get a bit too unfocused at times with its "nine tails" or "leads", but it still ends up being quite entertaining and worth a watch. Grade: B

A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #9: PINOCCHIO (#139)
This is one of those films that one probably knows all about even if one hasn't seen it properly. It follows Geppetto, an old carpenter that creates the titular wooden puppet, only to have it brought to life by the blue fairy. As Pinocchio starts to get accustomed to his new surroundings, he has to learn to avoid temptations from shady characters, with the help of his "conscience", Jiminy Cricket. The story should be familiar to most, but I was happy not only to see it properly for the first time, but also to show it to my kids. The story is fairly simple and very PBS-esque, if you may, in terms of its seemingly simple teachings or morals ("go to school", "don't talk to strangers", "don't tell lies", "don't smoke") but it works because of the charming innocence with which characters behave and interact. There are silly things that bother me as an adult, like, why would Geppetto send this "puppet kid" alone to school the morning after he is "born", or why an anthropomorphic fox is interacting with people around town :D but it's a children's film so I try to block my stupid "rabbit hole" mind. Like other classic Disney films I've seen recently, the animation is very pretty for the time, very traditional and classic with some instances where you can even see the brush strokes on the canvas. Now, let's just hope that my kids take those teachings to heart and behave themselves :D Grade: A-

A film with a primarily Hispanic/Latino cast: HAMILTON
For anyone that has been living under a rock for the last 3-4 years, the musical follows the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, from a displaced orphan to one of the most significant figures in the history of the United States. Created and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the play uses modern music and a "color-blind" cast to present its story. My wife and I had tried to see this about a month ago when we got our Disney+ subscription, but after 20 minutes, it just stopped. Not sure if it was our shitty Internet connection, or the fact that everybody was seeing it. But the thing is that everybody *must* see it. It's quite impressive from almost every aspect. From the way that Miranda stumbled on that biography on an airport, to how the story resonated with his own personal story as a "displaced" Puerto Rican, or how the story still resonates with the state of the US during the last years. And the way that Miranda translates that to not only lyrics and music, but lyrics and music that rhyme so flawlessly, are easy to understand, but are also fun to listen to, it's amazing. Add to that how he manages to cover different music styles and genres in the songs, from gospel and pop to rock and rap/hip-hop, which is the predominant one. I also love the way he seamlessly manages to sneak this little call backs to his own songs, not only through reprises but also through some lyrics and lines that are effortlessly dropped in the middle of others, which make for a great cohesive listen but also help to keep the themes upfront. One notable example is one of the first lines and songs from Hamilton "I am not throwing away my shot", which embodies his attitude at the moment to seize an opportunity, but also serves as a foreshadowing of his final fate. Judging from all the success he has had, before and after Hamilton, is evident that Miranda is not throwing away his shot. Grade: A

A film with the word "Dance" in its title: DANCE OF THE DEAD
The film follows a group of high school friends in the Georgia suburbs that have to deal with the unexpected rise of the "living dead" as they prepare for their prom dance. The film was independently produced and directed by Gregg Bishop and despite some expected amateurishness (mostly in some performances and special effects), it still boasts some decent production values and overall competency in its technical execution. The script is a bit thin, the dialogue is spotty, and the story is mostly predictable, but the writer and director still manage to hit the necessary beats to make this enjoyable, and they do balance the humor and gore fairly well. The film is also helped by likable characters, from the outcast delivery boy (Jared Kusnitz) to the goofy class nerd (Chandler Darby). Like my friend Apex told me on Twitter, the film "has its heart in the right place", despite its flaws. Grade: B-

Any film that starts with the letters Q or R: RICH AND STRANGE
The film follows Fred and Emily (Henry Kendall and Joan Barry), a struggling middle-class couple that decide to take a trip around the world when receiving an advanced inheritance, only to find themselves drifting apart from each other and into the arms of others. This is my 38th Hitchcock film but one of the few I've seen from his early 1930s period. The film isn't your typical suspense/thriller, but rather a romantic drama that deals with the struggles of married couples. This is a theme he had dealt with previously in several of his early silent films (for example, The Ring, The Manxman), sometimes successfully, and others not so much. Rich and Strange is far from perfect, but I'd say he mostly succeeds in portraying the distancing between the couple in a believable way. For casual viewers, your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance of early "talkies" that still feel/look like silent films. The film is also about 10-20 minutes too long with a climatic moment that, although probably metaphorical, I don't think was necessary. However, for Hitchcock fans and completists, there are a few visual tricks that Hitchcock pulls to make the film worth a watch, and the performances from Kendall and Barry are solid. Grade: B

A film based on or featuring video games prominently: CLOAK & DAGGER
The film follows Davey Osborne (Henry Thomas), a young boy that is coping with the death of his mother by talking and playing with his imaginary friend, superspy Jack Flack (Dabney Coleman), much to the dismay of his father (also Coleman). When he finds himself in the middle of a real-life espionage conspiracy, nobody believes him, and Davey has to trust his own instincts to protect himself, his family, and friends. I'm pretty sure I had seen this film back in the 80s, but I literally didn't remember anything, so it was as if I had never seen it. For a PG film supposedly marketed to children, it is fairly thrilling in its action. The film doesn't necessarily feel like a "family" film, but rather like a toned-down thriller. I wasn't bothered by it, but anybody that thinks about showing it to their children should take it into consideration. In that respect, I think there is a bit of a muddled message as far as the use of violence goes. Although his imaginary friend urges him to use violence, Davey is hesitant. But when he finally does, his reasoning to use it clashes a bit with his subsequent reaction. Moreover, the film doesn't really dwell that much into how Davey feels. I wish they would've delved a bit more into his psyche, as well as his relationship with his father. As it is, we only get a pretty good interaction between them in the first act, and then the ending. If they had given a bit more attention to their relationship, I think the ending would've been more effective. It's worth mentioning that both Thomas and Coleman are pretty good in their performances, despite the limitations of the script. Overall, I think it was a fun ride. Grade: B


Aside from Hamilton, and maybe Pinocchio, most of those fell within that B-realm where films are enjoyable/ok, but nothing spectacular.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Fri Sep 18, 2020 4:57 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:40 am

A film with a primarily Hispanic/Latino cast: HAMILTON
For anyone that has been living under a rock for the last 3-4 years, the musical follows the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, from a displaced orphan to one of the most significant figures in the history of the United States. Created and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the play uses modern music and a "color-blind" cast to present its story. My wife and I had tried to see this about a month ago when we got our Disney+ subscription, but after 20 minutes, it just stopped. Not sure if it was our shitty Internet connection, or the fact that everybody was seeing it. But the thing is that everybody *must* see it. It's quite impressive from almost every aspect. From the way that Miranda stumbled on that biography on an airport, to how the story resonated with his own personal story as a "displaced" Puerto Rican, or how the story still resonates with the state of the US during the last years. And the way that Miranda translates that to not only lyrics and music, but lyrics and music that rhyme so flawlessly, are easy to understand, but are also fun to listen to, it's amazing. Add to that how he manages to cover different music styles and genres in the songs, from gospel and pop to rock and rap/hip-hop, which is the predominant one. I also love the way he seamlessly manages to sneak this little call backs to his own songs, not only through reprises but also through some lyrics and lines that are effortlessly dropped in the middle of others, which make for a great cohesive listen but also help to keep the themes upfront. One notable example is one of the first lines and songs from Hamilton "I am not throwing away my shot", which embodies his attitude at the moment to seize an opportunity, but also serves as a foreshadowing of his final fate. Judging from all the success he has had, before and after Hamilton, is evident that Miranda is not throwing away his shot. Grade: A
Great write-up. I love this as both theater and film, and I also love the enthusiasm that's built up around it, which, at least to this point, seems very positive and uninfected by the toxicity that permeates, say, Star Wars or Marvel. My son is a big fan, and not only does it expose him to great music and art, it's also a great entryway to, not just history, but to ways of looking at a history in a critical way.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:03 pm

A film with a primarily Hispanic/Latino cast (Hispanic Heritage Month):

The Invisible Guardian
The Legacy of the Bones
Offering to the Storm


The Invisible Guardian has been on my watchlist so long that I don't remember why I added it. Turns out it was beneficial to have waited so long to watch it because in the ensuing years there's been two sequels, making an all-out trilogy, all available on Netflix. "The Baztan Trilogy"

So this all centers on a detective in Spain, who's just returned from having been trained in the US by the FBI. It's got a very TV-procedural feel to it, like CSI: Baztan. All three movies are over 2 hours long and it took me about a week to finish them, so it felt very much like a TV series. The first film is about a serial killer, with a vague hint of supernatural goings-on, and as the sequels progress we learn that the serial killer was part of a larger situation involving Satanic cults and baby sacrifices and stuff. Good times. This never veers completely into horror territory. It's very much a detective story, but the occult stuff just adds a bit of flavor.

I'll call this kind of a guilty pleasure, as in I knew a lot of it was nonsense and yet it kept me watching until the end. For example, our detective occasionally calls her former FBI mentor for advice, and he would spout some vague piece of wisdom that had no relation to the case but would somehow lead her to the precise answer she was seeking. Remember the Dungeon Master from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon? That's pretty much this guy. At one point he tells her "I think you have to look at this case with a different pair of eyes" which she interprets as "I should revisit the crime scene with a black light" and wouldn't you know-- the killer left a message on the wall that's only visible under a black light!! Yeah, this character almost fits the Magical Negro trope.

Also- the CONSTANT rain through all three movies. The worst hurricane I've ever lived through didn't dump this much rain on my city.

But most importantly the first film introduced me to the legend of the Basajaun which is sort of a friendly-bigfoot kind of hairy creature from the Basque area of Spain. (The serial killer is given the nickname Basajaun because of strange hairs found at the crime scenes.) As the end credits roll there's a bit of a zinger suggesting that the Basajaun is actually real but then...it's never mentioned again. So in the midst of this murder mystery trilogy we just decided to throw a random bigfoot in there for a sec? Cool. :shifty:
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:09 am

Thief wrote:
Sun Sep 06, 2020 12:55 pm
And here's Episode 20, to close out my Birthday month with your recommendations.

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 20 (September 4, 2020)

Thanks to Captain Terror, who once again recommended one of the films I talk about in this episode. Check it out!
Episode 21 dropped today, for those listening...

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 21 (September 18, 2020)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:52 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:40 am
Finally, here are some quick thoughts on my first batch of films for September...

A film from the 1980s: THE BLACK CAULDRON
Set in the Middle Ages, the film follows Taran, a young swineherd, that has to stop the evil Horned King from obtaining a magical cauldron that will help him take over the world. Taran is joined in his journey by Princess Eilonwy, a bard, and a hairy creature named Gurgi. Being a kid in the 1980s, I remember being intrigued by the trailers to this, but I never got to see it. Not being available in video for more than a decade, most of what I heard about it was about its lukewarm reception and failed box office. Having seen it now, I can say it wasn't that bad. Certainly not as bad as its reputation might lead you to think. Yes, the story is a bit derivative, particularly now that everybody knows about Lord of the Rings, but it's still thrilling and even somewhat scary. The Horned King and his army are pretty cool, and probably unlike anything Disney had done to this point. As for the lead characters, they are a bit thin, but that's usual in children's films. I do think the film lacked a certain something, or charm. The way the story is built, it seems that the directors were counting on Gurgi being seen as a cute character, but I found him annoying, which kinda hinders a climatic moment in the film. Overall, it's mid-tier Disney, but still might be worth a watch for fans of medieval and adventure stories. Grade: B

A film based on a comic book: SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
Catching up with the MCU, this film follows Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he heads on a school trip to Europe, while still trying to cope with the events after Endgame. As he is pursued by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to take a more upfront role in the superhero world, Peter finds himself longing for a normal teenage life instead, which includes pursuing a relationship with MJ (Zendaya). All of that is interrupted when otherworldy creatures start creating havoc, while a mysterious character dubbed *ahem* Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) appears. This was... ok, I guess? It was somewhat entertaining, but not particularly memorable. I like Holland as Parker, and I kinda like the moments where we see him trying to deal with real-life, teenager issues and insecurities, but as far as the superhero stuff, it more or less follows the same beats than other MCU films. Even the Mysterio "twist" is not much of a twist because most people with Spider-Man knowledge know that he's a bad guy. As for the other "twist"...
The whole Mysterio thing being a ruse felt a bit farfetched, while also a bit borrowed from the Mandarin stuff on Iron Man 3. I mean, not exactly the same, but I guess it just didn't work that well for me. Gyllenhaal still sold it as well as he could, but I don't know.
Despite that, the film is not boring; I had fun watching it. It just lacks a bit of a punch. Grade: B or B-


A film with the word "Dance" in its title: DANCE OF THE DEAD
The film follows a group of high school friends in the Georgia suburbs that have to deal with the unexpected rise of the "living dead" as they prepare for their prom dance. The film was independently produced and directed by Gregg Bishop and despite some expected amateurishness (mostly in some performances and special effects), it still boasts some decent production values and overall competency in its technical execution. The script is a bit thin, the dialogue is spotty, and the story is mostly predictable, but the writer and director still manage to hit the necessary beats to make this enjoyable, and they do balance the humor and gore fairly well. The film is also helped by likable characters, from the outcast delivery boy (Jared Kusnitz) to the goofy class nerd (Chandler Darby). Like my friend Apex told me on Twitter, the film "has its heart in the right place", despite its flaws. Grade: B-


A film based on or featuring video games prominently: CLOAK & DAGGER
The film follows Davey Osborne (Henry Thomas), a young boy that is coping with the death of his mother by talking and playing with his imaginary friend, superspy Jack Flack (Dabney Coleman), much to the dismay of his father (also Coleman). When he finds himself in the middle of a real-life espionage conspiracy, nobody believes him, and Davey has to trust his own instincts to protect himself, his family, and friends. I'm pretty sure I had seen this film back in the 80s, but I literally didn't remember anything, so it was as if I had never seen it. For a PG film supposedly marketed to children, it is fairly thrilling in its action. The film doesn't necessarily feel like a "family" film, but rather like a toned-down thriller. I wasn't bothered by it, but anybody that thinks about showing it to their children should take it into consideration. In that respect, I think there is a bit of a muddled message as far as the use of violence goes. Although his imaginary friend urges him to use violence, Davey is hesitant. But when he finally does, his reasoning to use it clashes a bit with his subsequent reaction. Moreover, the film doesn't really dwell that much into how Davey feels. I wish they would've delved a bit more into his psyche, as well as his relationship with his father. As it is, we only get a pretty good interaction between them in the first act, and then the ending. If they had given a bit more attention to their relationship, I think the ending would've been more effective. It's worth mentioning that both Thomas and Coleman are pretty good in their performances, despite the limitations of the script. Overall, I think it was a fun ride. Grade: B

I read The Black Cauldron when I was a kid before seeing the Disney movie, which I enjoyed for the Horned King. The book isn't that great, honestly, but has enough cool stuff in it to make it an acceptable Youth LotR. Gurgi is more interesting in the book but as I did a web-dive on this after re-reading it a couple years ago I found that there is a lot of nostalgia for the Disney version of the character.

I'm a little surprised at your meh reaction to Spider Man: Far From Home, which I thought was a lot of fun. Felt to me like an A or A- in the category of what it was trying to be and I thought it was a really good Spider-Man story (having been a fan since I was 5 years old). Mysterio totally worked for me and the way the film ends left me champing at the bit for what comes next, like a classic matinee serial. Still, DSDF.

Now Dance Of The Dead I was actually pretty meh on. A lot of people on RT were pretty high on it and I was pretty underwhelmed, finding it inconsistent in tone and success and a little, I dunno, like it wasn't sure how far it wanted to take things so it would throw something out there and kinda reel things back never quite crossing certain lines... kinda like it didn't know whether it wanted to be just a straight-up horror-comedy centered around high-school kids or a kids' horror-comedy.
So it was a miss for me, though I won't deny there was some fun to be had there and I would watch it again if someone else wanted to.

Finally, Cloak & Dagger is a real favorite of mine. I think of it as the last good "kids" movie before the Spielbergization of kids movies. The difference in tone between this and something like Goonies or Monster Squad is chasmic and I honestly cannot stand those latter two films. This film had grit, as a lot of "kids" films did all the way up to maybe '85 and I found it really intense when I was a kid and saw it over and over and also really appreciated it as an adult. The world needs a lot less coddling of children, now more than ever, and this is kind of a pre-coddle movie. I didn't have the same reaction to the violence either, particularly the part you're talking about as it happens out of necessity and it is done but neither glorified nor emotionally overwrought. Good movie.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:35 am

Talked a bit to you on the Twitter about Dance of the Dead. I don't think it was a great film (there were some clashes in tone between wanting to be a goofy zombie comedy and having a darker tone at times), but it was a fun one. I think Cockneys vs Zombies is able to do more with the zomcom subgenre (although Return of the Dead is still the best of them).

Dunno, but I have a subdued vibe on the Tom Holland Spidey films. Maybe because it feels almost like he's trying to be an influencer on social media? Or maybe because it feels weird to see Aunt May as young as Marisa Tomei (who may still hit it out of the park because she's Marisa freaking Tomei).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:21 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:52 pm
I'm a little surprised at your meh reaction to Spider Man: Far From Home, which I thought was a lot of fun. Felt to me like an A or A- in the category of what it was trying to be and I thought it was a really good Spider-Man story (having been a fan since I was 5 years old). Mysterio totally worked for me and the way the film ends left me champing at the bit for what comes next, like a classic matinee serial. Still, DSDF.
If you're talking about the post-credit scene, then I agree. Loved that bit. As for the rest of the film, I don't know. In the grand scheme of things, I don't think it's much different than my reaction to many other MCU films which is kinda "this was fun. Ok, what's for lunch?". That said, I was rewatching the climatic battle while I was recording the podcast and I gotta echo what I said there: Gyllenhaal is pretty good and holds that character together. I think that rewatching that final confrontation with Peter made me appreciate it a bit more.
Wooley wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:52 pm
Finally, Cloak & Dagger is a real favorite of mine. I think of it as the last good "kids" movie before the Spielbergization of kids movies. The difference in tone between this and something like Goonies or Monster Squad is chasmic and I honestly cannot stand those latter two films. This film had grit, as a lot of "kids" films did all the way up to maybe '85 and I found it really intense when I was a kid and saw it over and over and also really appreciated it as an adult. The world needs a lot less coddling of children, now more than ever, and this is kind of a pre-coddle movie. I didn't have the same reaction to the violence either, particularly the part you're talking about as it happens out of necessity and it is done but neither glorified nor emotionally overwrought. Good movie.
I should clarify that my reaction is not aversion to the violence in it - like I wrote, I had no issues with its thrills and action - but rather my adult expectations for something more interesting to be done with it. I know it's a children's film, so those expectations are obviously out of place, but part or me still wishes they had taken its message of violence/anti-violence across a bit further...
I mean, Davey is struggling with whether to use violence or not, and yes, when he does, it's out of necessity. But after he does, they don't go back to that struggle as much as one would've thought. There's little reevaluation of the "should've/shouldn't have". He just pouts and stomps on the Jack Flack figure and that's it. Off he goes into the next obstacle.
So my issue is not with the violence, but rather with the way the film uses it and executes it to convey its message. Again, I know it's a children's film and I know I'm looking for deep psychological analysis from a children's film, but maybe that goes back to the way the film tiptoes between being a children's film and thriller/action.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:25 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:35 am
Talked a bit to you on the Twitter about Dance of the Dead. I don't think it was a great film (there were some clashes in tone between wanting to be a goofy zombie comedy and having a darker tone at times), but it was a fun one. I think Cockneys vs Zombies is able to do more with the zomcom subgenre (although Return of the Dead is still the best of them).
Dance of the Dead was inoffensive fun, but like I said, not memorable. I don't regret watching it. I will check out the Cockneys vs. Zombies film.
Apex Predator wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:35 am
Dunno, but I have a subdued vibe on the Tom Holland Spidey films. Maybe because it feels almost like he's trying to be an influencer on social media? Or maybe because it feels weird to see Aunt May as young as Marisa Tomei (who may still hit it out of the park because she's Marisa freaking Tomei).
I like the reasoning I heard/read about Tomei as May a while ago where they argued that it made more sense that a 50-something woman would be the aunt of a teenager. But we've become so used to the comic book image of the "old and frail" Aunt May with the bun in the head, that I suppose it takes a while to get used to. Plus, I mean... it's Marisa freaking Tomei :D
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:15 pm

Thief wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:21 pm
If you're talking about the post-credit scene, then I agree. Loved that bit. As for the rest of the film, I don't know. In the grand scheme of things, I don't think it's much different than my reaction to many other MCU films which is kinda "this was fun. Ok, what's for lunch?". That said, I was rewatching the climatic battle while I was recording the podcast and I gotta echo what I said there: Gyllenhaal is pretty good and holds that character together. I think that rewatching that final confrontation with Peter made me appreciate it a bit more.



I should clarify that my reaction is not aversion to the violence in it - like I wrote, I had no issues with its thrills and action - but rather my adult expectations for something more interesting to be done with it. I know it's a children's film, so those expectations are obviously out of place, but part or me still wishes they had taken its message of violence/anti-violence across a bit further...
I mean, Davey is struggling with whether to use violence or not, and yes, when he does, it's out of necessity. But after he does, they don't go back to that struggle as much as one would've thought. There's little reevaluation of the "should've/shouldn't have". He just pouts and stomps on the Jack Flack figure and that's it. Off he goes into the next obstacle.
So my issue is not with the violence, but rather with the way the film uses it and executes it to convey its message. Again, I know it's a children's film and I know I'm looking for deep psychological analysis from a children's film, but maybe that goes back to the way the film tiptoes between being a children's film and thriller/action.
Yeah, I think "This was fun. Ok what's for lunch?" is more or less the right reaction for the new Spider-Man films, I feel like that's exactly what they're going for and I am more than happy to take that.

As for Davey, I feel like deciding he hates his childhood hero over the violence and abandoning him in favor of his "boring" real father when confronted with the reality of violence in the world was a pretty satisfying resolution to that but YMMV.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:17 pm

I liked both, to be fair. Just wasn't crazy about any.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu Sep 24, 2020 12:16 am

For the sci-fi category, I decided to cover a huge blindspot. Went with Interstellar and, oh boy... I don't think I liked it that much :shifty:
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Sep 24, 2020 12:43 am

Thief wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 12:16 am
For the sci-fi category, I decided to cover a huge blindspot. Went with Interstellar and, oh boy... I don't think I liked it that much :shifty:
I didn't care for it much either. Though, I'd have to rewatch it to remember the issues I had with it better.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Stu » Thu Sep 24, 2020 1:07 am

Besides Tenet (which i avoided going to for obvious reasons), that's the only Nolan since Memento that I still haven't seen :oops: One of these days, though!
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