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  #1201  
Old 10-23-2019, 10:40 AM
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My latest five:

Downton Abbey
If you love the TV series, you'll love the movie. Everyone in the huge cast gets a chance to shine, the mansion, clothes and English countryside have never looked more gorgeous, and very little has changed by the end - which is, I suspect, pretty much how fans will want it.

On the Basis of Sex
Preachy biopic of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I wanted to throw something at the screen during the climactic but badly cliched scene of appellate argument. Meh.

Men in Black
Saw the original again, and loved it all over again. A great sf comedy. Tommy Lee Jones is hilariously deadpan, and Will Smith is hip and funny and the perfect contrast to him.

Michelangelo: Love and Death
Fine documentary about the great sculptor (and painter and poet and designer of military fortifications for the Medicis, among other things). He painted the Sistine Chapel quite late in life, and with just a single assistant. A remarkable man, well-described in this film.

Strategic Air Command
Jimmy Stewart movie about a pro baseball player reluctantly dragged back into Air Force service. The scenes of mid-Fifties warplanes are pretty good, and I was surprised how forthright the movie was in showing the damage Stewart's military service does to his marriage, even if only temporarily. Still, not all that great a movie.
  #1202  
Old 10-27-2019, 01:39 PM
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MofW: Extra Ordinary. A Will Forte movie about a N. Ireland cab driver ...

Wait. Check that. There's nothing about a cab driver at all and Will Forte is just one of the leads not a writer or director. Where did this "cab driver" idea come from??? And it's just plain old Ireland. Oh, well.

A woman is the daughter of a deceased ghost hunter/TV host. She has turned her back on the family business but circumstances force things when a widowed father seeks help. Forte plays an artist-immigrant-tax haven seeking satanist. (Aren't they all?) Bizarre fun times ensues.

So sort of a mix of Ghostbusters and What We Do In the Shadows or some other elevator pitch glurge. Forte has the annoying wife from hell and he knows just what to do with her.

Some decent humor (but not a ton). Good chemistry between the woman and her client. Odd secondary characters thrown in for fun.

Give it 3 jars of ectoplasm.
  #1203  
Old 11-03-2019, 09:46 AM
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A Tuba For Cuba. A movie about the origins of the New Orleans Preservation Hall Band, and their trip to Cuba to explore musical roots and play with local musicians. Interesting, if not exciting.
  #1204  
Old 11-03-2019, 05:00 PM
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Note: As usual I include a link to IMDb, but as too often happens it right away includes a bit of a spoiler. Click at your own risk.

MotW: Sometimes Always Never. Supposedly also known as "Triple Word Score" which gives a better idea about a key thread in the movie.

Bill Nighy is a dude with long term family issues. He has difficulties getting along with his son and the son's family. So events put them together for a while and movie ensues.

The family that plays Scrabble together gets nasty together I think is the theme. Nighy takes it too seriously and this has caused problems.

A really good fit for Nighy. The others do fine jobs. Nicely done. It is a "small" film so certain shortcuts are taken to save money. But that's all okay.

I was stupidly caught off guard by the closing credits when a name popped up. How could I have not recognized that person????
SPOILER:
It was Jenny Agutter as that woman. OMG, Sister Julienne has fallen.


Give it 3.5 ice cream trucks.

Last edited by ftg; 11-03-2019 at 05:00 PM.
  #1205  
Old 11-05-2019, 11:55 AM
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I saw both Unbreakable and Split when the came out. I seemed to be one of the few who liked Unbreakable. I was lukewarm on Split.

I saw Glass over the weekend. And I absolutely loved it. McAvoy was brilliant, and every time Anya Taylor-Joy came on screen I though 'God she's a muffin'.
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  #1206  
Old 11-05-2019, 12:47 PM
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Downton Abbey. This is like comfort food for fans of the TV show; warm and cozy but not imaginative or ground-breaking. If you liked the show you'll like the movie. If you've never seen the show ... well, the costumes and sets are pretty to look at.

A Simple Favor. This was on my short list when it was in theaters but I missed it; and just recently I read an article on overlooked gems, now streaming that gave it a rave review -- so I gave it a look (Netflix or Amazon Prime..can't recall.) It was ... OK. Glad I didn't spend good money on it, though. It's a quirky, kinda funny, mystery thriller with some mildly surprising twists and turns.
SPOILER:
The solution depends, though, on the master criminal not being able to resist standing up and shouting (metaphorically) "I committed the perfect crime and got away with it!"
  #1207  
Old 11-05-2019, 12:50 PM
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Saw Joker a week or so ago. Found it to be dense with allusions to the Batman mythos but chiefly an homage to Scorsese/DeNiro films.
  #1208  
Old 11-06-2019, 10:02 PM
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Terminator: Dark Fate
Not the return to the heights of T1/T2, more of a middling entry to the series. It has some good action sequences and it is great to see Linda Hamilton back. If you are a fan of the series, definitely worth seeing. If you don't know much about the originals, this is not the best entry.

The Current War: Director's Cut
A well written, well acted story of one of the most important tech battles of the 19th century. It does a pretty good job with the basic facts, which I knew going in, but afterwards, when I looked it up, I can see that it does the usual fudge job on some of the details, Still, it brings a real urgency to the back-and-forth between two titans of 19th century tech (Edison and Westinghouse! I bet you thought I was going to say Tesla, didn't you). I can't tell if it gets too "technical" for the average viewer, but if you know a little about electrical power generation and distribution, it is a great little tale.

The Irishman
Martin Scorsese, in classic form, delves back into the Goodfellas/Casino pool. With a stellar cast that includes a return to the screen of Joe Pesci (in what is likely to be his last performance), it is a elegiac film that examines the Mob through the eyes of (what turns out to be) a sociopath. The film makes use of CGI de-aging, but there are only a couple of scenes (when the characters are their youngest) that hint at the uncanny valley effect. It is a very fitting capstone to Scorsese's Mob oeuvre. Highly recommended. And if you are put off by the 3 1/2 hour running time, for me it played out like it was only 2 1/2 hours.
  #1209  
Old 11-06-2019, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsc1953 View Post
A Simple Favor. This was on my short list when it was in theaters but I missed it; and just recently I read an article on overlooked gems, now streaming that gave it a rave review -- so I gave it a look (Netflix or Amazon Prime..can't recall.) It was ... OK. Glad I didn't spend good money on it, though. It's a quirky, kinda funny, mystery thriller with some mildly surprising twists and turns.
This movie was on my Best list for 2018. It was unfortunately in and out of theaters in a couple of weeks. My take from last year:

Quote:
Originally Posted by peccavi View Post
A Simple Favor - I found it surprisingly delightful and twisty. Anna Kendrick makes the perfect protagonist of this black comedy/Gone Girl wannabe (her chirpiness strikes exactly the right tone for a cross-grain character). While the twists are not as surprising as they should be for a dark mystery, they are actually perfect for the winking satire that this movie actually turns out to be (and that's a twist I didn't see coming). I expect this movie to make my list of overlooked gems at the end of the year.
It was at about the halfway point that I realized that the core mystery was a mcguffin, it's the sharply drawn satire that is the point of the movie (I suspect that's why it spent such a short time in the theaters).
  #1210  
Old 11-07-2019, 05:18 PM
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If you go back to late 2018 in this thread you'll see more reviews of A Simple Favor. My quick take:

"It's fun.

It's stupid.

It's stupid fun."
  #1211  
Old 11-10-2019, 09:20 PM
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Last Christmas
A Christmas rom-com, written by Emma Thompson, and directed by the director of A Simple Favor, should be just the thing this time of year. Unfortunately, it never rises above a sort of Hallmark Christmas movie with a better budget (and an A-list cast substituting for the usual B/C-list cast). Emilia Clarke manages to come through with a performance (I suspect she really is an elf) that redeems it enough to recommend it to someone who wants a new Christmas movie, but nothing else is remarkable enough to make it recommendable. A rare miss from Emma Thompson as a screenwiter. If the dark edges had been made darker and sharper, it might have been something, but as it is, it just comes out a bit to gooey (And the surprise twist? If you don't see it coming within the first 20 minutes- this may be the perfect movie for you! )

Jojo Rabbit
A tale of a sensitive boy and his imaginary friend, Adolf, set in the waning days of WWII. Good performances, some significant laughs, and some emotional moments that pull on you, but ultimately, it doesn't cohere into a great filmgoing experience. I don't regret seeing it and I will remember some of the moments into next year, but it never commits fully enough to the surreality of some of it's scenes nor to the central story of a young boy coming to terms with what he is told to believe by the world around him and what he is being raised to believe about core moral and ethical behavior and and its application to living his life. In the end, the performances raise it up into the good movie category (this is the year of Scarlett Johansson), but not onto my list of the year's best

Honey Boy
As a story of how a child star's effed up childhood leads to his effed up adult star behavior, don't expect to see new ground plowed. However, the central performances (Noah Jupe as the child, Lucas Hedges as the adult, and Shia LaBeouf as the abusive parent- which in context, is one of the brave performances of the year) and the screenplay's refusal to turn any of its characters into a cardboard monster or a misunderstood tortured artist makes this one worth a look. I think one of the best decisions was to fit the film into just over 90 minutes, which makes some of the "magic realism" in the film impactful rather than self-indulgent. Another one that misses as one of the year's best, but is eminently recommendable.

Marriage Story
Netflix seems to be doing to the movie business what HBO did to broadcast TV- come in with a completely different business model and showing that going for new, high quality concepts made by talented creators rather than extensions of franchises or "new" stuff that really just and attempt to create new franchises to start extending. With The Irishman, this film and the upcoming Two Popes, it is going to be a difficult time at the Oscars for Old Hollywood. This movie is simple story of the breakup of a marriage, but the performances (expect Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson to be nominated for Best Actor/Actress and Laura Dern to be the favorite to win Best Supporting Actress), the screenplay that does not allow one side or the other to come off as completely "right", the editing that intensifies the emotional havoc that is wrought on this couple, and an ending that will allow a number of viewpoints on the ultimate outcome (I think if N people go to see this, there will be N opinions as to what occurred and who "won") make this one of the best movies I've seen this year. Highly recommended and if you are someone who restricts their viewing to "all the nominees", it will give you a jump on next year.
  #1212  
Old 11-10-2019, 09:36 PM
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Finally got around to seeing Once Upon a Time in Hollywood this week.

I liked it. I thought it was interesting that Tarantino chose a different subject matter this time; all of his previous movies have been about genres of movies. But this movie wasn't trying to be a sixties movie. It was instead about the making of movies and television.

I also noticed this is the first time Tarantino decided to work with a first-rate group of actors as his leads. His usual practice is to find people who are lesser known and direct them so well they end up becoming stars.

I have to admit I'm still not sure what Tarantino meant by the ending.
  #1213  
Old 11-11-2019, 10:01 AM
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Regular MotW: Good Boys. Hollywood elevator pitch: It's live action South Park with 6th graders.

It starts off rough. A lot of random "noise". But eventually settles into a bit of a groove and gets more interesting. Lots of weird throwaway lines that might give a bit of a giggle. Lots of flat out stupidity. Some can be explained as 6th graders' nonsense. Some is just so stupid that there's no excuse.

The main issue is how introspective the 3 leads are about their relationship. That's asking too much to believe.

Give it 2.5 gummies.

Bonus retro MotW: The Freshman (1990). Hadn't watched in a while. Still holds up. Watching Kirby and Brando is a joy. Esp. when you see Kirby trying not to crack up during Brando's bits.

And the "lesser" people just shine: BD Wong, Maximilian Schell, Jon Polito, Bert Parks, etc. A lot of them gone now.

Give it 4 dragons.
  #1214  
Old 11-11-2019, 11:08 AM
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...Bonus retro MotW: The Freshman (1990). Hadn't watched in a while. Still holds up. Watching Kirby and Brando is a joy. Esp. when you see Kirby trying not to crack up during Brando's bits.

And the "lesser" people just shine: BD Wong, Maximilian Schell, Jon Polito, Bert Parks, etc. A lot of them gone now.

Give it 4 dragons.
Hey, what's Matthew Broderick? Chopped liver?

My latest five:

The World's End
Very weird British boomer comedy about a pub crawl, a middle-age crisis and an alien robot invasion. Some good bits but pretty much a mess.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Charming, heartwarming documentary about Mr. Rogers and his enduring commitment to kindness and goodness, on TV and off.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
A British National Theatre filmed production of Shakespeare's play, with the same actor playing both Theseus and Oberon and the same actress (Gwendolyn Christie, best known for her role as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones) playing Hippolyta and Titania. A lively, interesting, funny movie.

Rocketman
Biopic of Elton John's rise to stardom, not stinting on the sex and drugs in addition to the rock and roll. Great soundtrack, cinematography and costumes; a must-see for any fan.

The King
A new and very loose adaptation of Shakespeare's Prince Hal/King Henry V plays. Timothée Chalamet and Joel Edgerton are excellent as the young royal and his drinking buddy, later warlord, Sir John Falstaff. The climactic battle scenes at Agincourt are gripping - among the best of medieval warfare I've ever seen.
  #1215  
Old 11-17-2019, 11:11 AM
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Decided to take a chance on an obscure film. Did not go too well.

Philophobia: or the Fear of Falling in Love. There's a description there. It's not all that helpful. E.g., the guy being a podcaster is nearly irrelevant.

A commitment-phobe has a very bad week. Very bad. Bad hallucinations, bad people, bad events. So really, cheerful, right?

There's a "star" war going on at IMDb's ratings for this movie. Lots of obviously planted 10s. Several pointing out the plants. Ratings disappearing. Etc. So, why not take a chance and see what the deal is?

While there are a few good parts here and there it has a lot of "weird for the sake of being weird" filler. And an ending that doesn't fit the whole rest of the movie.

Give it 1.5 Ubers.
  #1216  
Old 11-18-2019, 10:31 AM
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Woman in Gold (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_in_Gold_(film) contains spoilers) The true story of Maria Altmann (played marvelously by Helen Mirren), who as a young woman was forced to flee Austria in the 1930s. In the present day she embarks on a seemingly impossible quest to recover one of her family's possessions looted by the Nazis - Gustav Klimt's painting of her aunt.

It's a wonderful film and I really enjoyed it. After reading the Wikipedia, my only quibble is that the filmmakers overdramatized a bit of the history. The actual story is dramatic enough, I don't see why they thought it was necessary to make things up.

Still, I recommend watching it.

A Wrinkle in Time (2018 version) - Adaptation of the beloved science fiction novel. I wanted to like it, but it never really grabbed me. It's not bad, just meh.
  #1217  
Old 11-18-2019, 12:22 PM
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OVERLORD

Wow.

Starts of as a really good WWII flick. We have a paratroopers jumping in to France the day before D-Day. Great CGI with planes being shot up and shot down. it follows one group of soldiers who have to find and destroy a radio-jamming center in a church. Most of the squad killed before and during the drop, the few remaining moving their way toward the target. Standard battle stuff, but really well done.

When the get to their target, they find.............

SPOILER:
ZOMBIES!!! Yes, Nazi-created Zombies! The evil Nazi scientists filter the special mud below the town through captured townspeople (gross) to create a zombie serum. And shooting the zombies in the head....doesn't help that much. You have to burn them with a flamethrower!

And this all takes place in a 10 hour span.

It was a lot of fun.
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Last edited by Typo Negative; 11-18-2019 at 12:22 PM.
  #1218  
Old 11-19-2019, 04:35 PM
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Finally got around to watching Along Came a Spider, the Alex Cross movie based on the James Patterson novel, and starring Morgan Freeman. I thought it was pretty well done, with enough plot twists to keep it interesting. I have no idea why it got such a low rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
  #1219  
Old 11-19-2019, 08:59 PM
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Finally got around to seeing Once Upon a Time in Hollywood this week.



...

I have to admit I'm still not sure what Tarantino meant by the ending.


I don’t think he meant anything except for a hypothetical revenge fantasy. Like... what if this could’ve happened instead? Wouldn’t that be... more fun?
  #1220  
Old 11-21-2019, 12:50 PM
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Was home sick for a couple of days and got Airport and Earthquake watched. At least, I think I watched them. I may have been in and out a little. I found Airport superior.
  #1221  
Old 11-21-2019, 10:47 PM
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I saw Ad Astra today. I was not impressed.

The plot line is basically Apocalypse Now (or Heart of Darkness) with the addition of a troubled relationship between a son and his father.

The science was questionable and there were some scene that the movie seemed to take seriously but just looked silly (Moon pirates! Monkey attacks! Jumping through asteroids! Nuclear explosions!).

The heart of the movie was supposed to be a psychological study of the protagonist - and it didn't work. The story itself failed to develop his character fully or depict the resolution of his problems realistically. They tried to paper over this lack with a lot of expository narration.
  #1222  
Old 11-21-2019, 11:46 PM
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Was home sick for a couple of days and got Airport and Earthquake watched. At least, I think I watched them. I may have been in and out a little. I found Airport superior.
Surely you jest.
  #1223  
Old 11-24-2019, 04:40 PM
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MotW: Adopt a Highway. [Caution: Again IMDb plus the artwork gives away too much, IMHO.]

Ethan Hawke is released from prison after serving a very long time. Lots of troubles adjusting to life outside (think of all the tech that's changed in 20 years).

A major event happens that disrupts things for him. And then the aftereffects of that take up a good chunk of the film.

Hawke plays a person who seems slow/puzzled a lot/whatever. So a really scaled back performance. It would seem like bad acting except, shoot, it's Ethan Hawke. This is a decision not a lack of skill.

Elaine Hendrix plays the obligatory messed up woman. (Wow, that Parent Trap remake was over 20 years ago. And she was on Doogie!)

Once you see/know what the key plot point is, you know there's two obvious ways it can continue from there. But a sort of alternate, not completely obvious thing happens and that's welcome.

It has an "almost interesting" ending. I wish they'd dropped the "almost".

Give it 3.5 walruses.
  #1224  
Old 11-24-2019, 05:55 PM
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I saw Knives Out at an early screening yesterday, although it doesn't premiere until this weekend. I recommend it. It's really good and funny.
  #1225  
Old 11-24-2019, 06:57 PM
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Klaus, an animated film about the origins of Santa Claus, is a lot of fun. It's kind of a Shakespeare In Love* approach to a lot of the Christmas traditions and myths, not to be taken seriously, but it's completely delightful and I definitely recommend it, maybe best watched closer to Xmas day. It does have a bit of formulaic forced drama in it that felt like a studio note, but everything else is amazing, in particular voice performances and the creative blend of 2D and 3D animation.

*Shakespeare In Love may be too dated a reference for contemporary audiences to recognise, now that I think about it
  #1226  
Old 11-25-2019, 08:24 AM
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I saw A Streetcar Named Desire, with Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. I've always wanted to see this classic film, but I must say I was disappointed. Lunatic moves in with trash, predictably, tragedy ensues. If you enjoyed They Shoot Horses, Don't They? maybe this film is for you. I admit it held my interest, but having seen it, I never need to see it again.
  #1227  
Old 11-25-2019, 08:30 AM
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I saw Knives Out at an early screening yesterday, although it doesn't premiere until this weekend. I recommend it. It's really good and funny.
With a DVR, I normally FF thru ads. But I watch the ones for this due to the cast.

Good to hear.
  #1228  
Old 11-30-2019, 03:33 PM
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Just saw End of Watch with Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. Very well done, very violent, very tense. Too much shaky cam, though.
  #1229  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:51 PM
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The Irishman - and it sucked so bad, just like most of Scorsese's movies.
  #1230  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:52 PM
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I saw A Streetcar Named Desire, with Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. I've always wanted to see this classic film, but I must say I was disappointed. Lunatic moves in with trash, predictably, tragedy ensues. If you enjoyed They Shoot Horses, Don't They? maybe this film is for you. I admit it held my interest, but having seen it, I never need to see it again.
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is in my Top 5, Brando is my favorite actor ever, and I like this movie a lot.
  #1231  
Old 12-02-2019, 03:49 PM
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The Irishman - and it sucked so bad, just like most of Scorsese's movies.
This is my shocked face.
  #1232  
Old 12-02-2019, 04:05 PM
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Fairly nice thing except ...

1. Many segments just dragged. E.g., the chat with the child actress actor. And the visit to Spahn ranch. A good 40 minutes could have been cut from the film. The Hateful Eight also had this problem.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio. Never understood what people see in him. Terrible in ... Gilbert Grape. Terrible now. Absolutely the wrong choice for the role.

OTOH, the ending was really fun.

Give it 3 1959 Ford Galaxies. (Our family actually owned one of those in the same paint scheme.)
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