Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

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Wooley
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Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:17 pm

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I recently revisited my threads from September movie-viewing and then October movie-viewing because a friend was interested in something I wrote and I found that I really enjoyed reading them, which made me think I probably really enjoyed making them, which led me to the thought that I liked having a thread.
And I've been watching a few movies, so I'm gonna put 'em here.
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Because, like I said before, we need more threads, more movie-talkie. I like to use a lot of images too, so there'll be plenty of that.
So without anymore non-movie-talkie...
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Captain Terror » Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:33 pm

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My eyeballs are ready. :up:
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:08 pm

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Man.
I love it when I watch a classic for the first time and it's obvious why it's a classic and I don't have to do any work.
I suspect I am one of the last people here to be seeing this for the first time, if not the last, but I'm funny that way, I tend to save some movies for the right time and also tend to avoid some movies because of the worry that they can't match their reputations. As we've discussed here before, outside of The African Queen and maybe one or two others, this has pretty much never actually happened, they always live up to their reputations. Casablanca, Annie Hall, Taxi Driver, Sunset Boulevard, (to name a few) and now M.
Most people, I think, know this film as the story of a child-murderer in early 1930s Germany. That is technically true but tells probably less than half the story. It is really the story of this murderer and the effect of his shadow in a rotten society. The killer and killings is actually the spark that sets off all the other elements of society, the community turning against each other in suspicion and paranoia, the cops desperate to solve the crimes more to save face and careers than lives, the criminal underworld organizing in an effort to stop the killer because the increased presence and boldness of the police is interfering with their business and they feel some moral superiority to the killer (even though many of them are killers themselves), and a society of onlookers who do nothing.
In the middle of it all is the killer, unaware of the societal cockroachery (new word meaning when the lights go out and all the cockroaches come scuttling out from under the fridge) he has set in motion. The killer, who in the beginning is the most sinister of shadows...
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...ultimately pales in comparison to the horror of the stirred masses of Germany's Weimar Republic just before the Nazis take power.
Lang's film is so many things, but perhaps most of all, influential.
It is arguably the first serial-killer movie and it delves surprisingly deeply into both the method and the psyche of the killer in ways that will eventually become standard and then cliche. There is a fascinating moment, seeming so far before it's time, when the killer, Peter Lorre in his star-making turn, breaks down in a plea for sympathy for his own insanity...
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... while asking those who judge him to shine the light back on themselves and see if he is really so much worse than they are (clearly the point of Lang's narrative here).
It is also kind of a horror movie both in content and in the way Lang films it, with strong suspenseful elements that play very much like a genre film. I was particularly pleased by this moment early in the film which I realized must have been the influence for one of my favorite moments in one of my favorite horror films, A Nightmare On Elm Street.
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It is also credited as the first police-procedural, detailing the process through which the police work to find the killer, which also would become a genre unto itself.
Most of all, though, it is Lang's harsh critique of a Germany he had come to loathe and would soon flee, after rejecting the Third Reich's offer to become head of its artistic division (a wise move as, due to Lang's Jewish heritage, he would have been sent to a concentration camp probably by 1940). The society he shows us is just a lousy place rife with police tumbling people with no cause, a powerful criminal underground, a huge homelessness problem, and a bourgeoisie that would turn on each other at a moment's notice. Throughout the film, Lang shows sympathy for almost no one, even the mother of a murdered child who, it is implied, might have saved her daughter if she and the other parents paid a little more attention to their children and a little less to their perceived troubles.
All this and I haven't even commented on the filming, the cinematography, the lighting, the use of sound, all of which are famous in their own right. Lang's Metropolis is a giant of cinema and much on the strength of his vision and ability to bring it to the screen. M, while a much smaller film, is no slouch in this territory either, but to spend even more words describing it here would be pissing in the ocean. We all know it.
Ultimately, I couldn't have been much more pleased with this film for living up to the term "classic" in the ways that one must, with a deep and layered story, thematic depth, and visionary execution. M lives up to its reputation.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:09 pm

Captain Terror wrote:Image

My eyeballs are ready. :up:
Viddy well, little brothuh. Viddy well.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:15 pm

M is awesome. One of the fastest times I've ever called a film great after watching it. There's just so much in there to love about it.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:21 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:M is awesome. One of the fastest times I've ever called a film great after watching it. There's just so much in there to love about it.
I know, right? It is just densely packed with several different types of greatness.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:57 pm

Full props to Thief, here, I only watched this because of his thread and the suggestion of watching a "first-film by a favorite director". And so this film got on my radar because I wanted to participate in Thief's thread, but then I realized that I am just never gonna be able to knock out movies the way most of you guys do, I have to watch what I'm in the mood for at the moment so I'd never make it through a list. But this is only here because of that thread.
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I don't know if Kathryn Bigelow is one of my favorite directors or not. I have seen 5 of her films and have liked them all to various degrees. But I thought Zero Dark Thirty was something like a masterpiece. And I loved that she beat her own ex-husband's white-man's fantasy CGI epic out for Best Picture and Best Director and became the first woman to win the latter award, in the process. And I think that's fucking awesome. And, full disclosure here, she is not the only director of the film, she and friend Monty Montgomery co-directed, literally trading off days during filming, directing one day, hanging around the next to answer any questions the actors might have, back to directing the following day.
This is an odd one, folks.
This film has been described as less of a movie and more of an opportunity for two aspiring young filmmakers to try out their craft. The movie is fairly sparse on... well everything, but particularly on dialogue and plot, which, as we know, is no real problem for me. But I've now read a few people who've said it just barely qualifies as a movie. While I have not seen the films of Kenneth Anger, a comparison was drawn there by someone. What the film is was enough for me.
The film is a sort of modern (for 1981) re-telling of The Wild One, but even bleaker and more nihilistic. The entire film takes place in one day as motorcycle-gang leader, Vance, played by a really young Willem Dafoe, in his first credited role, arrives in truckstop-town to wait for the rest of his gang in the diner.
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Over the course of the day, we see how pathetic the little town is and, frankly, how pathetic the biker gang is too. No one in this movie comes off looking good. It is hard to sympathize with any character in the film and I'm sure that was by design. In the opening scene we are shown that Vance is not a good guy, and not someone to like. By the end we understand that he is by far the most thoughtful character in the film, and a deeper puddle to step in, but that ends up not really doing anyone any good. But maybe that in some way makes him better than the useless (not all bad, just useless) excuses for humanity we meet before the movie closes. Maybe it doesn't. You get this many shitty people in one place, bad things are bound to happen, and they do, and the audience is left to ponder if it meant anything at all.

So was this movie good?
It's a hard question to answer because of what the film is. And, also because of its constraints, budgetary and otherwise. The acting is uniformly somewhere between sub-professional and simply awful. Some of you may remember the days when Willem Dafoe was actually a pretty bad actor who was cast for his look before he refined his craft and became the rather special actor he is now. Well, this is perhaps some of his most exemplary pre-craft work. Possibly some of his delivery is intentionally exaggerated but, having watched most of his career, I think most of it is just the way he was. And he is still the best actor in the film. So, really, you have to just let all the acting sail over your head and accept what they were trying to do. This actually worked fine for me. Additionally, as I've said, not a lot happens in this movie. It's mostly everyone waiting around for things to go South.
What is striking, really, is the filmmaking. It's a good-looking movie for the budget. Really nice use of color, of framing, of camera motion (especially restraint with the camera). Individual shots are given time for the actors to exist and act within them. The use of music by neo-Rockabilly musician Robert Gordon, who also has a role in the film (and also can't act), is excellent and has been commented on frequently.
I liked the movie. I did. I get the criticisms, but it is really an art-film, and maybe it is just an exercise of two young artists (Bigelow was a painter first, getting a degree from San Francisco Art Institute) trying to learn how to make a film, but it worked for me. It is another reminder of how much I like low-budget art films, how much I love form, and how little I care about story, and yet, I did think this little one-day semi-tragedy managed to get a slightly haunting little story in there too with some things to reflect on about both nihilism and the quiet desperation of small-town life.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by crumbsroom » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:12 am

The Loveless is a recent favourite of mine. The acting is probably technically bad in that it is all really unnatural, but there is a dreamy artificiality to the whole movie, and the fact that everyone in it haltingly reads their lines and moves in really self conscious ways works for me. It felt similar to some of Fassbinder's earlier works in this way, the only big difference is that he usually had really good actors acting strange and unnatural, and it was probably not entirely intentional here. I guess it just comes naturally to Robert Gordon.

Watching this and Blue Steel in close proximity is what ultimately made me come the realization that I'm a really big Bigelow fan, and I've just allowed my complete boredom towards Hurt Locker to hurt her rep. Everyone should be allowed at least one dog in their career.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:45 am

crumbsroom wrote:The Loveless is a recent favourite of mine. The acting is probably technically bad in that it is all really unnatural, but there is a dreamy artificiality to the whole movie, and the fact that everyone in it haltingly reads their lines and moves in really self conscious ways works for me. It felt similar to some of Fassbinder's earlier works in this way, the only big difference is that he usually had really good actors acting strange and unnatural, and it was probably not entirely intentional here. I guess it just comes naturally to Robert Gordon.

Watching this and Blue Steel in close proximity is what ultimately made me come the realization that I'm a really big Bigelow fan, and I've just allowed my complete boredom towards Hurt Locker to hurt her rep. Everyone should be allowed at least one dog in their career.
Definitely this.
I was thinking of watching Blue Steel, I think I might have seen it when I was like 17, is it good?
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Thief » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:51 am

Re: M, I saw it last year for the first time, so we're not that far away in terms of catching up with classics like this :D But anyway, it really is a great film. Like you said, it's a really bold move from Lang to try to put a light on the state of society at the time, and how mental illness is presented on film. The only other film I can think of that does a similar job of trying to put you in the shoes of the killer is Peeping Tom, which is also great.


Re: The Loveless, I'm flattered that you felt compelled to check it out because of my thread. I enjoyed the film, even if I found it to be a bit too loose in its plot structure; a bit messy and clunky. But I never found it boring and enjoyed watching Dafoe in it.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by crumbsroom » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:59 am

Wooley wrote: Definitely this.
I was thinking of watching Blue Steel, I think I might have seen it when I was like 17, is it good?
Blue Steel is great.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:30 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Blue Steel is great.
Ooooh. I'm looking forward to it now.
Roger Ebert echoed your sentiment.
"The bottom line, however, is that "Blue Steel" is an efficient thriller, a movie that pays off with one shock and surprise after another, including a couple of really serpentine twists and a couple of superior examples of the killer-jumping-unexpectedly-from-the-dark scene. I always feel dumb after I jump during one of those scenes. But I always jump."
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Rock » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:58 am

I'll be reading.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:11 am

Just to be clear that this thread isn't just gonna be all high-brow and shit:
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Am I proud of this? Not especially. But, while I am a middle aged man, I do still have enough testosterone left to have just taken a flyer on this after looking over my shoulders, even though I live alone.
This is the story of a tough L.A.P.D. cop who goes undercover as a stripper to catch a killer who brutally murdered a dancer at a local club. And yes, it is mostly sexploitation.
And yet.
There's a lot of interesting things about this movie.
On the one hand it does contain brutal violence against women and gratuitous nudity. On another, a couple of women seemed to really have put a lot of effort into this movie and the story ends up being a little better and even more clever (can't believe I'm saying this) than it oughta be. Even though the premise is so totally fucking stupid that it's hard not to turn it off when you first run across this actual cop actually stripping in front of her actual partner (police partner) to try to win a contest to get hired by the club where the murdered woman worked. She ultimately begins to grow accustomed to the culture and nearly becomes one of them, standing up for the profession and being kind of a sister to the others.
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But some other things are going on that kind of keep your interest and believe it or not the story kind of pays off in the end. The less you know the better, if you read about this film or about its production it will be spoiled for you to the point where you may not be able to overcome the cheesy-80s, exploitative nature of it, not to mention, as I've said, some surprisingly brutal violence. But the ending is interesting.
Back to the two women who put so much into this, Stripped To Kill is the directorial debut of Katt Shea, who co-wrote and talked Roger Corman into letting her direct the film. She and her co-writer were inspired by a visit to a strip club. She didn't want to go because she felt it was demeaning to women but after going came away with a different take, saying, "I thought they were very artistic and I just loved the girls, they were real artists and they were just using this particular venue to explore their art", and she wrote the film and pitched it to Corman. It launched her directorial career and she is still directing today. Corman has had nothing but good things to say about her in the passing years saying she is great with actors because she was one herself. Meanwhile, star Kay Lenz, winner of two Emmy's, felt she was too old at 34 to play a stripper until her research taught her that many women continued to perform to and past that age, so she gave it a go. And she is the strength, cast-wise, of the film, doing a pretty credible job here.
I wish I could actually recommend this film, but it's just passable, just good enough that I don't feel ashamed for having initially peeked it out for the skin, but not necessarily good enough to tell someone else they should watch it. Still, everyone here has seen worse movies, I guarantee it, if anyone's interested.
And I will be reviewing worse movies in this thread. Soon.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Jinnistan » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:04 am

Wooley wrote:friend Monty Montgomery co-directed
Incidentally best known as frequent David Lynch collaborator and the nicest killer cowboy from Mulholland Dr.

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Wooley wrote:Some of you may remember the days when Willem Dafoe was actually a pretty bad actor who was cast for his look before he refined his craft and became the rather special actor he is now.
Bah, I don't think that's very fair. He was great in To Live and Die in LA, Platoon and Last Temptation. Sure, he's been known to slum (Body of Evidence) but he's always had something special in his drawl and presence.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by MadMan » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:53 am

Dafoe was excellent in The Florida Project. Also he was a great heavy in Streets of Fire.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:14 pm

During my brief career as a movie theater usher/popcorn popper, one of the perks was that employees were allowed to adopt the movie posters after they'd run their course. Being low man on the ladder, however, meant that I was never able to call dibs on the best ones. In all my time there the only one I managed to bag was Stripped to Kill 2.

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Even at age 18 I had enough class to not display this on my wall. Kept it hidden, in fact, until I finally disposed of it through means that I can no longer recall. That concludes my contribution to the Stripped to Kill conversation.

ps--Never even got to watch the film because it only lasted a week.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Death Proof » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:36 pm

Jinnistan wrote: Incidentally best known as frequent David Lynch collaborator and the nicest killer cowboy from Mulholland Dr.

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Bah, I don't think that's very fair. He was great in To Live and Die in LA, Platoon and Last Temptation. Sure, he's been known to slum (Body of Evidence) but he's always had something special in his drawl and presence.
I know it gets a lot of hate around here, but I thought he was great in The Boondock Saints.

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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Death Proof » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:37 pm

MadMan wrote:Dafoe was excellent in The Florida Project. Also he was a great heavy in Streets of Fire.


Streets of Fire is fucking spectacular.

:up:

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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Rumpled » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:18 pm

Wooley wrote:Just to be clear that this thread isn't just gonna be all high-brow and shit:
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Spoilers =
The ending if i remember, did catch me off guard back in the 80's
;)
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:36 pm

Death Proof wrote:


Streets of Fire is fucking spectacular.

:up:
Streets Of Fire is fucking spectacular.

Some friends were over at my place hangin' out one night and sometimes what I'll do is put a really cool movie on in the background and turn the sound off (while the stereo is playing whatever music I feel fits the hang). And I had The Hunger on and everybody decided they actually wanted to watch it so we did and then went back to music and I put Streets Of Fire on... but I said, "Wait, y'all should check out the first, like 10 minutes of this movie" and we did and now we have a movie-night date to watch the whole thing, people were so taken with it (it was too late that night to watch a whole 'nother movie).
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:44 pm

Jinnistan wrote: Incidentally best known as frequent David Lynch collaborator and the nicest killer cowboy from Mulholland Dr.

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Bah, I don't think that's very fair. He was great in To Live and Die in LA, Platoon and Last Temptation. Sure, he's been known to slum (Body of Evidence) but he's always had something special in his drawl and presence.
Maybe it's too much, I don't know. Watch The Loveless, his delivery throughout would be cringeworthy if everyone else in the movie wasn't worse, his delivery in Streets Of Fire is better but still often awkward (and I know they were going for stylized but he comes of the worst for it, including Michael Pare), and he's better still in TLaDiLA, then finally by Platoon he's smoothed out very well but I still think he overdoes it at times. But I really feel like Shadow of the Vampire was the turning point for him. Since then he's been amazing. The Life Aquatic really confirms the transition from interesting character actor to great character actor.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Jinnistan » Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:38 pm

Wooley wrote:Maybe it's too much, I don't know. Watch The Loveless, his delivery throughout would be cringeworthy if everyone else in the movie wasn't worse, his delivery in Streets Of Fire is better but still often awkward (and I know they were going for stylized but he comes of the worst for it, including Michael Pare), and he's better still in TLaDiLA, then finally by Platoon he's smoothed out very well but I still think he overdoes it at times. But I really feel like Shadow of the Vampire was the turning point for him. Since then he's been amazing. The Life Aquatic really confirms the transition from interesting character actor to great character actor.
I've seen Loveless, and I agree with the criticisms over the script and stuff, but I thought DaFoe was terrific. I think his sexy menace had a chance to compete with the contemporary likes of a Mickey Rourke or James Remar, but DaFoe went the route of creepy villain instead. I don't see how this was to compensate for poor skills. Maybe it's an aspect of personal taste. I've always liked DaFoe.

I would highly recommend Light Sleeper for evidence as a strong lead, and he was already cemented in my mind as a great character actor by Wild At Heart.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:30 am

Jinnistan wrote: I've seen Loveless, and I agree with the criticisms over the script and stuff, but I thought DaFoe was terrific. I think his sexy menace had a chance to compete with the contemporary likes of a Mickey Rourke or James Remar, but DaFoe went the route of creepy villain instead. I don't see how this was to compensate for poor skills. Maybe it's an aspect of personal taste. I've always liked DaFoe.

I would highly recommend Light Sleeper for evidence as a strong lead, and he was already cemented in my mind as a great character actor by Wild At Heart.
No, it's his actual line-delivery. Something I noticed throughout his early career, but is at its worst in that film. I mean, it's glaring. Like I say, maybe it gets drowned out a bit by how bad everyone around him is, his obvious screen-presence, and something deep inside that just needed to be honed, but it was just strikingly obvious to me, where I was like, "Oh wow, I've seen his delivery be stiff and awkward, but this is the root of it here."
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:40 am

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What if Dr. John Watson, friend and biographer of Sherlock Holmes, The Great Detective was really the mastermind behind the legendary sleuth's exploits? And what if Sherlock Holmes was just that: a legend? What if Dr. Watson had simply made the character up to avoid the spotlight at an inconvenient time for him after solving the famous case "A Study In Scarlet"? And what if, when demand for such a great detective brought people knocking to his door, Watson hired an out-of-work actor to portray The Great Detective publicly? What if that actor was a gambling, carousing, clumsy, drunken fool?
What if Watson and Holmes were played by two of the greatest British actors of the latter half of the 20th Century (and beyond)?
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Well, you'd have this movie.
Without A Clue is a whimsical, silly, funny, and fun little romp with a good script and great acting that never reaches beyond its grasp but grasps everything it was reaching for.
I want to do a write-up or review of this film, but I'm not sure what else needs to be said. If the description so far doesn't pull you in then this movie is probably just not for you.
I will say that the two actors buy in completely to what they're doing and seem to really enjoy themselves and most if not all of the jokes land, even the dumb ones. Caine is priceless as Reginald Kincaid, the nearly intolerable sot Watson has employed to portray his master sleuth, who has finally worn out his welcome with his bad behavior, general incompetence, and free-spirit with Watson's accounts. But Kingsley is at least equally up to the task as the great mind trapped behind a curtain he hung himself. It's all a nice subversion, especially as Watson has been portrayed so often as the sort of marveling side-kick, as amazed by the feats of his colleague as the general public. It's an almost obvious idea to switch them, I wonder what took so long. The funniest bit in the movie, to me, is the running gag of Watson trying to step out from "Sherlock Holmes"' shadow only to be laughed down as he attempts to sell people on "The Crime Doctor" as Holmes' equal replacement.
There's a nice mix of witty dialogue, sight-gags, flat-out jokes, and even slapstick in the film, but never fear there is also a competent a story to hang it all on and a character arc for our heroes as well.
By the time the credits rolled, I felt like I had just watched a legitimate, albeit alternate universe, addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon. And had quite a few chuckles along the way.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sat Feb 02, 2019 5:42 pm

I saw Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
I'm not even gonna write it up.
Unbearable.
The ugliest film I've seen in a long, long time. Almost physically painful to watch. Most scenes are just a person in front of a green-screen and everything else on the screen is bad CGI. Bad. So flat and 2-dimensional and totally unreal. And so dependent on CG it was hard to tell if any scene even took place on a set or location or if even all the sets were green-screened (because many were). Which I can understand if your set is in outer-space or something, but this wasn't. Essentially unwatchable.
I was reminded of Fright Night and how the practical effects were so... effective.

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And 30 years later you get a shit movie like
Fantastic Beasts
which is as much shit because of the terrible effects and how unreal every minute of the movie looked as anything the script might have done.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:50 pm

Cool new thread. And what a way to start, with one of the best of all time!

I have to check out Without a Clue now. It sounds fun.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Feb 02, 2019 8:37 pm

Wooley wrote:I saw Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
I'm not even gonna write it up.
Unbearable.
The first one, or the sequel?

I haven't seen the sequel, but I liked the first one for several reason.

This video essay addresses part of it.

I felt like the film was a B- for me. I loved the character of Newt.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 03, 2019 7:11 am

Takoma1 wrote:
The first one, or the sequel?

I haven't seen the sequel, but I liked the first one for several reason.

This video essay addresses part of it.

I felt like the film was a B- for me. I loved the character of Newt.
The first one. Just an ugly, ugly film, shabby presentation. I couldn't get past that, wasn't even aware there were characters. And the main character's personality alone is just not enough to carry a whole movie is it.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 4:07 pm

Wooley wrote: The first one. Just an ugly, ugly film, shabby presentation. I couldn't get past that, wasn't even aware there were characters. And the main character's personality alone is just not enough to carry a whole movie is it.
Huh. I liked the look of the film.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 03, 2019 5:28 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Huh. I liked the look of the film.
I am a bit slack-jawed by this. Maybe it doesn't translate to the "small-screen" well or something, on a large TV I thought it looked really cheap. All the CGI was painful, nothing looked real, especially any of the beasts, but glaringly all the "sets" as well.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 5:34 pm

Wooley wrote: I am a bit slack-jawed by this. Maybe it doesn't translate to the "small-screen" well or something, on a large TV I thought it looked really cheap. All the CGI was painful, nothing looked real, especially any of the beasts, but glaringly all the "sets" as well.
I watched it on my smallish flat screen and I thought it looked fine. I liked the look of the beasts (especially in the context of the suitcase ecosystems).
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:08 pm

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Hooray for good, simple thrillers! We thought ye dead. And probably we was right, which is why we have to go back to the 1970s to see them.
New York subway train Pelham 123 is going about it's normal daily journey with its normal daily denizens when a man in a trenchcoat, glasses, and fedora boards at each of four consecutive starts. In a few minutes, the men will produce machine guns and hijack Pelham 123, holding the train and its passengers hostage for a million dollars (how quaint!).
Somewhere in Manhattan a man is at work. He is a Police Lieutenant in the NY Transit Authority. He's having an amusing morning until the strange behavior from Pelham is suddenly explained with a radio-call from this man:
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The calmly inscrutable Robert Shaw and his gang have taken Pelham 123. The city will comply with his demands within 1 hour or Mr. Blue (Shaw) will begin killing one passenger for every minute they are late. And you better believe him. He's Robert Fucking Shaw, after all. And the Lieutenant will have to find a way to comply or save the passengers or they'll all be dead.
But Mr. Shaw didn't know he was going up against this man:
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;)
I mean, just look at that face, this gang doesn't know who they're dealing with!
I joke, but really this movie has a few strengths and the cast will be one of them. First, and most-importantly, it's script is rock solid, but doesn't try to get too clever or too big. This isn't the 80s or the 2010s, they keep things tight and streamlined and don't go for too cute of a plot or overblown action, which makes the tense moments much more tense. And the climax and denouement both cleverly pay off.
Second, the movie feels tight. Fully half the film takes place inside one train car and there is very little action that takes place outside of it until the 3rd act. There is no wasted dialogue, yet it does take some time to give a sense of the characters, particularly the gang members.
But finally it is the cast. We all know that Walter Matthau is one of the most unique film stars ever. A man that looks like that somehow becomes straight-up A-list, not a character-actor but a film-opener. In better times, yes he did, and anyone who knows his work knows that he damn well shoulda been, he earns every moment of screen-time he ever had and in spades. Then of course there's Robert Shaw. Robert Shaw is an interesting character to me because I generally don't like "actors" who just play themselves in every film, but Robert Shaw's presence just adds something to everything I've ever seen him in from Jaws (obv.) to The Sting to Robin And Marian to From Russia With Love to The Deep to A Man For All Seasons to Force Ten From Navaronne. Go watch 'em, he's the same guy in every one of them but he just makes each film pop with his presence, his sly grin, and then the inscrutable depth he shows in quieter moments.
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The idea that they got John Travolta... John Fuck You Travolta... to play a role created by Robert Fucking Shaw... Travolta is unworthy to hold Shaw's dick for him while he takes a piss.
Ultimately, the movie holds its course, doesn't give in to the impulse to go to big, and has plenty of quality moments supplied by its supporting cast as well, such as Hector Elizondo as the sociopathic Mr. Grey, Lee Wallace as the ineffectual Mayor Of New York City, and Tony Roberts (fresh of Serpico and headed for Annie Hall, before he would make his masterpiece, Popcorn) as the Mayor's Chief Of Staff who really makes all the decisions.
I certainly don't want to oversell this, Pelham is a small, tight little thriller worthy of being seen and remembered but not some world-shaking must-see. But it really, really positively reminded me (again) why everything (in film, anyway, and probably music) was better in the 70s.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:19 pm

Wooley wrote:I certainly don't want to oversell this, Pelham is a small, tight little thriller worthy of being seen and remembered but not some world-shaking must-see. But it really, really positively reminded me (again) why everything (in film, anyway, and probably music) was better in the 70s.
It's really, really good.

And the
sneeze!
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:42 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
It's really, really good.

And the
sneeze!
Damn, I forgot to mention that. The climax and denouement really pay off.
Hold on, i gotta go back and put that in the write-up, I can't just leave it like that.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:37 pm

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I actually really enjoyed this.
Delos is the theme park for adults of tomorrow. Peter and John decide to vacation at the park's "Westworld", where you can live out all your fantasies of being a cowboy in The Old West, right down to winning a duel against a grim, villainous gunfighter dressed all in black. You can also behave as badly as you want, which Peter and John begin to exploit to their hearts' content. Which is all well and good, I guess, since the people aren't people, they're robots, so it's ok to just treat them however you like. Wonderful, until you get bitten by a rattle-snake. Which is also a robot. And programmed not to bite. Could there be some malfunction? Well, no worries, I'm sure everything is fine back in town, especially with the gunfighter. I mean, I'm sure he'd never malfunction.
So, this movie is a little more straightforward in concept at only 88 minutes and it does not delve as deeply into the implications of the story, since it's just establishing the story, as the long-form television show. Obviously, there is foreshadowing of "computer viruses", but not so much soul-searching on "what is human". But it's pretty-good little movie. It's never clear that there is something personal going on between the robots and humans, could be just a malfunction, but with the humans' behavior, you could see that it might be. I've always liked Richard Benjamin and it's cool to see him a non-comedic role, James Brolin is perfectly fine in his part.
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And, of course, Yul Brynner owns as the silent killing machine gone wrong and actually, ya know, killing. With more going on behind that face than brooding.
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Again, the 70s rule.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Thief » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:44 pm

Re: Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Saw it last year and I really, really liked it a lot. Very tight thriller with little fanfare. Just a solid, simple plot, good performances, and great execution.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:44 pm

Thief wrote:Re: Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Saw it last year and I really, really liked it a lot. Very tight thriller with little fanfare. Just a solid, simple plot, good performances, and great execution.
Right. Exactly that.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:36 am

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This movie is... not very good.
I'm sure I watched it a dozen times back in the 80s, but I remembered it not holding up from a re-watch probably 20 years ago. But I've been wrong before.
I am not this time.
Coppola really lost his way on this one. Just got too obsessed with his style and lost the movie. A lotta stuff comes out looking like this:
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Which is not good.
The actors don't fare well either, hard to say whether it was the script, the director, or just the actors themselves, but we've seen almost all these guys do better work (to be fair, Swayze comes off about as good as he ever does and Emilio Estevez also kinda stands out by not standing out).
Oh and it opens and closes with this godawful song. What the fuck.
Sayeth Roger Ebert on the subject: "The man who made the Godfather pictures and Apocalypse Now is a great director. He ought to reserve these exercises for the rehearsal halls of his fancy and get back to making movies."
Hard to believe Coppola would make the excellent Rumble Fish, another Hinton book, starring Matt Dillon, and with even more dedication to style but without fucking it up, later the very same year.
Anyway, it was a good book.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Rock » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:11 am

For what it's worth, I don't think the Pelham remake is that bad. Travolta is no Shaw, but Washington is good as always and I think Scott has a better feel for working class characters than a lot of other action directors.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:20 am

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Well, what can I say. I've had the hots for Pam Grier since I was like 12 or something, I will watch literally anything with her in it.
And since almost all of her movies were exploitation films, here we are.
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I mean, Jesus, I have no defense against that. I'm not the least bit ashamed.
Anyway, imagine if Gladiator was a 70s exploitation film where women were rounded up to for slavery by a guy who runs a gladiatorial arena and he decides to make the first women gladiators.
That's the whole story here, and then some in-fighting and an escape, etc., etc. If you've seen The Big Doll House and/or The Big Birdcage, you've pretty much seen this.
Is it worth watching? Eh, I'd say of those three films, it is the least entertaining, but if you're an exploitation completionist, by all means.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:35 pm

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I've been looking forward to this movie for a long time. I wish I enjoyed it more than I did.
The brief rundown is that this is a straight neo-noir that, in the classic tradition of Raymond Chandler, features a somewhat weathered and jaded private-investigator who takes on a case that appears to be one thing but of course turns out to have deeper and deeper layers the longer he stays on the case, while his own life also becomes complicated. This is exactly the plot of Chandler's The Long Goodbye which is an excellent book. This film stars Gene Hackman as Phillip Marlowe, er, Harry Moseby who takes a simple missing-persons case that maybe isn't so simple, exactly like Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely.
Anyway, given all this, I shoulda loved this movie, and I like it more and more the more I think about it, but I just didn't get that into it while I was watching it. There's a LOT going on during this film, and a lot of it is really interesting and handled really interestingly, honestly, but there is no fucking crime! So I just keep waiting for there to be some actual conflict, which, I get it, it's what director Arthur Penn was going for, you, like Moseby, feel like everything is just as simple and routine as it could possibly be, but I just found myself getting distracted and losing my way. The movie almost feels like an Altman film (and Altman did direct the absolutely excellent The Long Goodbye from Chandler's novel just two years earlier, perhaps setting the template that Penn was following, but it has that really detached feeling to it, and maybe it was just my expectations but I felt... detached. From the movie.
I think the other problem that I had, and again, I'm sure this was what they were going for, was that
when the actual conflict arises, it is so small potatoes and also so unlikely and involving characters who are on the one hand so obvious...
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...
and on the other so almost completely implausible to me - I mean, seriously, when the short fat guy in a fucking cast turns out to be the pilot that pulled out a fucking UZI and fired it, accurately, at their boat, from a moving airplane... :roll:
It ultimately brings us around to the final shot as metaphor for Moseby's life: wounded and going in circles. I get it.
On the flip side Penn, as he did up until he fell off the Earth following The Missouri Breaks, films a good movie, even if I personally struggled to get much into the story.
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Most importantly, though, we come around again to what is becoming a theme of this thread: how great the actors were in the 70s.
Really, Gene Hackman, as famous as he is and as celebrated as he was in his prime, might be the most underrated actor I can think of off the top of my head. And man does he deliver here. He gives Marlowe, erm, Moseby, a depth and humanity and realism that is, honestly, more personal than anything Bogart ever did. And I am a Bogart fan. He makes such a great character because he is just such a real person. He's perfectly suited to play the private eye:
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... but he's also perfectly suited to play a man who just doesn't know what to do in life other than what he's doing and struggles to deal with change. This is demonstrated metaphorically in the film by the fact that he plays chess all the time, but he only replays the same game over and over, the same Knight-"Moves".
When I think now about Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, and now Gene Hackman. Do we even have actors so great anymore? Masters of subtlety who still have the charisma to carry even complicated films on their backs effortlessly, despite lacking the "movie-star look" (especially in Matthau's case).
And lemme tell ya, in this film, it's not just Hackman. Susan Clark, who plays Moseby's wife with her own complicated narrative and motivations, and Jennifer Warren, playing perhaps the most complicated person in the film, a character who completely baffles Moseby and throws him off his game, are both absolutely aces and stand toe-to-toe with Hackman in all their scenes. And Melanie Griffith really surprised me, here only 17 years-old, becomes pretty convincing as the bratty center of gravity and is critical to the film working.
Dammit, I think I just talked myself into really liking this film!
I'm actually gonna re-watch it now, cause I think I've convinced myself this was a really great movie. Hmph.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:40 pm

Night Moves always plays better on subsequent watches.

It's a great movie.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:51 pm

crumbsroom wrote:Night Moves always plays better on subsequent watches.

It's a great movie.
Yeah, just playing it back in my head, which is basically what I did in that write-up, I am like, man, that was damn-good. Although the McGuffin still seems kinda silly and comes outta nowhere.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Jinnistan » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:11 pm

You're definitely right about the acting in the film. Jennifer Warren especially, who had an unfortunately slim career and I feel like we missed out. And Hackman is one of the very greats of his generation, which was the greatest acting generation.

I think that one of the defining aspects of New Hollywood, but especially for people like Penn and Altman, is that much of their storytelling is told in behavior rather than dialogue. This obviously is a boon when you have a talented cast. I think that it can be part of what's disorienting, like in a typically plot-driven narrative like crime mysteries, because so much of what the characters are communicating is non-verbal, not directly pushing the plot. In Long Goodbye, the critical conclusion was that this was deliberate genre deconstruction. I'd argue that Altman realized a powerful element in Chandler's work that ran beneath plot progression and decided to focus on that instead. These two films are similar, and I'd add maybe Chinatown and The Conversation, because all of these films revel in opaque faces and barely perceived strings behind the scenes, and their respective deconstructive approaches reflect the disillusionment of the era.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:19 pm

Jinnistan wrote:You're definitely right about the acting in the film. Jennifer Warren especially, who had an unfortunately slim career and I feel like we missed out. And Hackman is one of the very greats of his generation, which was the greatest acting generation.

I think that one of the defining aspects of New Hollywood, but especially for people like Penn and Altman, is that much of their storytelling is told in behavior rather than dialogue. This obviously is a boon when you have a talented cast. I think that it can be part of what's disorienting, like in a typically plot-driven narrative like crime mysteries, because so much of what the characters are communicating is non-verbal, not directly pushing the plot. In Long Goodbye, the critical conclusion was that this was deliberate genre deconstruction. I'd argue that Altman realized a powerful element in Chandler's work that ran beneath plot progression and decided to focus on that instead. These two films are similar, and I'd add maybe Chinatown and The Conversation, because all of these films revel in opaque faces and barely perceived strings behind the scenes, and their respective deconstructive approaches reflect the disillusionment of the era.
Agreed.
And yeah, Warren was so good I was really surprised to see how little she worked.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Jinnistan » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:42 pm

The matter of quality of acting has been an interesting topic for me, and I've often discussed this with others who also feel that acting has diminished in subsequent years.

I would say, best guess, that a large reason for the quality of specifically that generation of American actors is due to the famous acting studios, run by the likes of Adler and Strasberg, which developed "the method" (the results don't lie!), as well as a more vibrant live theater tradition than we have today. Or consider - how many of our top actors today got their start on the stage? (And, no, I'm not talking about Peter Rabbit in 2nd grade.) How many casting directors are scouring the stage? Another unsung part of New Hollywood was the casting directors, like Marion Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster, who would not only tap into the young New York theater community but would fight against the executives who wanted more beautiful faces. Instead, we get Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman (both were unemployably too ethnic for leading roles), Hackman and Duvall (Robert and Shelly), Keitel and Oates, Spacek and Fletcher.

The same generation produced an excellent crop in Britain as well - Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris, Julie Christie, Robert Shaw, Robert Burton, Albert Finney, Rita Tushington, Michael Caine, Vanessa Redgrave, Charlotte Rampling, Peter Finch, etc etc. I think that the common thread, other than their generation, is a strong foundation in the theater.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:20 pm

Jinnistan wrote:The matter of quality of acting has been an interesting topic for me, and I've often discussed this with others who also feel that acting has diminished in subsequent years.

I would say, best guess, that a large reason for the quality of specifically that generation of American actors is due to the famous acting studios, run by the likes of Adler and Strasberg, which developed "the method" (the results don't lie!), as well as a more vibrant live theater tradition than we have today. Or consider - how many of our top actors today got their start on the stage? (And, no, I'm not talking about Peter Rabbit in 2nd grade.) How many casting directors are scouring the stage? Another unsung part of New Hollywood was the casting directors, like Marion Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster, who would not only tap into the young New York theater community but would fight against the executives who wanted more beautiful faces. Instead, we get Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman (both were unemployably too ethnic for leading roles), Hackman and Duvall (Robert and Shelly), Keitel and Oates, Spacek and Fletcher.

The same generation produced an excellent crop in Britain as well - Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris, Julie Christie, Robert Shaw, Robert Burton, Albert Finney, Rita Tushington, Michael Caine, Vanessa Redgrave, Charlotte Rampling, Peter Finch, etc etc. I think that the common thread, other than their generation, is a strong foundation in the theater.
I'll buy that.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by John Dumbear » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:37 pm

:up: "Westworld" & "Pelham..." Are both in my Top 10 of the '70s.
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Re: Wooley Watches Movies, Makes Thread

Post by Wooley » Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:03 pm

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Nelson and Adam just want to go to Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale and be part of the fun that college is supposed to be for once in their lives. They wanna see girls, do crazy things, they wanna party. They want to live.
And so they make the pilgrimage to the early-80s Mecca of college partying and hope that their fortunes will change.
Because Nelson and Adam are nerds and they never have any fun, they're never part of the action, always on the sideline watching, never a part of the fray, certainly never the center of it.
Will their fortunes change? One can only hope.
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I'm sure there are those who would characterize this as a "teen sex-comedy" and there is some nudity and, of course, being young men, their quest is largely fueled my their testosteronic quest to "get laid". But really this is just a teen romp, focused, in this case, on the boys' (surprise) perspective. But there are some things about this movie that I found really enjoyable and there are actually some amusing moments.
The thing that I really liked about this was how good-natured they made most if not all of the male characters, particularly "The Cool Guys". Generally, in these sorts of movies, when we meet The Cool Guys, they are complete fucking assholes who take pleasure in the suffering and humiliation of the nerds. However, in this film, when the nerds run into TCG (Stu and O.T.) early in the film, expectations are subverted as they actually invite The Nerds to stay in their hotel room for the duration of Spring Break and to join them on all their adventures. They are friendly and encouraging and actually try to help Nelson and Adam break out of their shells and have fun.
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The Cool Guys, while definitely getting laid all the time, cuz they're cool, are even kinda nice to the women who inevitably find them irresistible.
And when the conflict of the film finally arises and The Nerds need help, The Cool Guys are on the case to help their new friends.
Add this neat and uplifting little twist to a movie that is not without its funny moments (like a scene where Nelson goes to buy marijuana out of a guy's van and ends up getting stoned and buying everything the guy has in his van) as well and you get a decent, low-budget, admittedly male-focused but not unkind little early-80s Spring Break romp.
Trailer is a pretty good reflection of what the film is and its tone.
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