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  #1051  
Old 04-13-2019, 10:10 PM
Wendell Wagner is offline
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A Quiet Place was a 2018 film. It was nominated for an Oscar for best sound editing, but it didn't win. It was very well reviewed and made a lot of money:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Quiet_Place_(film)
  #1052  
Old 04-14-2019, 09:30 AM
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A Quiet Place was a 2018 film. It was nominated for an Oscar for best sound editing, but it didn't win. It was very well reviewed and made a lot of money:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Quiet_Place_(film)
Missed that bit.
  #1053  
Old 04-14-2019, 10:00 AM
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Finally got around to watch The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I worried that it was going to be uneven. "Uneven" is actually an understatement.

The first bit with the singing cowboy had great humor and gratuitous violence that really hurt it. The second bit had Stephen Root and the best line: "First time?" The third bit was a real downer. Hard to watch. The fourth bit I quickly realized I had read the tale. I thought it was by Twain, but it's by London. Despite Tom Waits, I like the story better. Beautiful scenery though.

The fifth bit, the Oregon Trail one had an almost completely developed story. So that helped. But still, no, the train boss would have not had acted like that when the real stuff happened. Realized early on that the 6th tale was one of those* kind of stories. So it was just spending time watching until you got there. Yawn.

Give it two and a half pan shots, and that's being generous to Root.

*
SPOILER:
Like in Twilight Zone.
  #1054  
Old 04-21-2019, 08:45 AM
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Nancy.

A messed up woman with possible parentage issues.

Mainly watched due to the cast. Includes: Steve Buscemi, J. Smith-Cameron (from Rectify), Ann Dowd, John Leguizamo.

Andrea Riseborough as the title character. Just saw her and Buscemi in The Death of Stalin where she played Stalin's daughter.

Dowd and Leguizamo are barely in it- it's mainly a 3 person play.

It's in 4:3 ratio and oftentimes poorly filmed. So a cheap feel to it.

Unlikeable, etc., lead character. So it's just a long slog to reach the uninteresting end.

Critics love it but audiences not so much. I guess I'm in the latter group.

Give it 1.5 old photos.
  #1055  
Old 04-21-2019, 07:17 PM
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Fast Color is a low budget sci-fi tale with a stellar cast (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, David Strathairn). It uses whatever small effects budget it has well and at the end, sets up future chapters, like any good superhero movie. I found it more satisfying, in a quiet way, than many of the bombastic superhero origins stories of the past decade. Recommended.
  #1056  
Old 04-22-2019, 07:15 AM
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Saturday had the annual broadcast of The Ten Commandments. I could easily watch this, but my wife, Pepper Mill, was fed up with the yearly repetition. So I pulled out my DVD of Cecil B. deMille's original 1923 silent version of the film, complete with Technicolor sequences (which the disc misidentifies as "hand tinted"). It's an interesting change. We only watched the Moses Leads his people out of Egypt part, not the boring contemporary story.

Theodore Roberts plays Moses as a wild-eyed prophet with outrageous, unruly hair, a far cry from Charlton Heston's neatly-combed Moses. But the "Gate of Egypt", with its images of Rameses in his chariot and the Avenue of Sphinxes was exactly reproduced for the 1956 remake from the 1923 original.

http://blog.familytheater.org/the-te...923-movie-set/

http://afi.com/10top10/moreDetail.aspx?id=52028&thumb=1
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  #1057  
Old 04-23-2019, 03:43 PM
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Finally got around to watch The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I worried that it was going to be uneven. "Uneven" is actually an understatement....
An earlier thread about the movie: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=865665

My latest five:

Yojimbo
Classic B&W Kurosawa film set in 1860s Japan. A ronin comes to a small town torn apart by two criminal gangs, and then plays them against each other. Funny, sly and engrossing. The last line helps make for a perfect ending.

The American President
Romantic comedy in which a widowed President falls for a spunky environmental lobbyist. Given all the shared cast, crew and themes, it's almost like a movie-length prequel to The West Wing. Catnip for political junkies like me.

Witness for the Prosecution
The original 1957 British courtroom drama, from the works of Agatha Christie, focusing Sir Wilfrid, the ailing, pugnacious, Churchill-esque defense counsel. Good stuff.

Witness for the Prosecution
The 2016 remake, focusing Mr. Mayhew, the solicitor who first takes the case. Even better than the original, I'd say - grittier, darker, much more atmospheric.

Headhunters
A crazy good Norwegian thriller about an art thief who steals from the wrong rich guy and then has to go on the run. Some twists and turns that just have to be seen to be believed - two thumbs 'way up.
  #1058  
Old 04-29-2019, 04:09 PM
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MotW: Care. A British tv movie about a divorced mother of 2 who is suddenly confronted will a bunch of issues regarding her elderly mother. (And an all too feckless sister.)

Good, but glum, story. Some really good acting by the lead Sheridan Smith and Alison Steadman as the mother.

One frequent thing with British shows is at times it seems like there are only 10 actors in the UK (as Mrs. FtG puts it). But not so many recognizable people here. Steadman's done some stuff like a few episodes of Orphan Black. There's the obligatory scene with Molesley from Downton Abbey. And that's nearly it for us.

Give it 3.5 chips.
  #1059  
Old 04-29-2019, 05:12 PM
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I saw one of the worst movies I ever saw this weekend.

A few months back in this thread I said that I had finally seen the James Whale film he made for Universal between Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. It was The Old Dark House, which featured Boris Karloff as a silent, menacing, bearded butler named Morgan (think of him as Frankenstein with a beard), Charles Laughton in his first American role, and some other "name" actors. I knew about the film because Forrest J. Ackerman had featured stills from it in Famous Monsters, but the film had been pretty much pulled from circulation (it wasn't part of Universal's "Shock" package of films they rented to independent stations circa 1960), so I had never seen it.

I saw it. I thought it was awful.

But now I've seen worse.

In 1962 William Castle remade it, in color. You still have the travelers stranded by a rainstorm in the out-of-the-way British countryside, forced to spend the night in an aging house filled with a strange family and its secrets. And there's a silent bearded threatening character named Morgan. That's where the similarity ends. The film stars a young Tom Poston and Robert Morley, and lots of other people I don't know, although I knew Peter Bull by his face -- he's the one who played the Russian Ambassador in Dr. Stranglove. He kind of looks like Robert Morley's brother, and he plays him. Twice.

The movie is pretty damned terrible. It wanders hither and yon, with no trace of believability or even consistency. It seems as if, at every moment, the screenwriters asked themselves "What's the most ridiculous thing that could happen NOW?" Highly unrecommended.
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  #1060  
Old 04-29-2019, 06:43 PM
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Terminator Salvation, because I was bored and it's free. Should have been free when it was released. Major suckage on all fronts.
  #1061  
Old 05-04-2019, 08:04 PM
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Shadow, directed by Yimou Zhang (Hero, House of Flying Daggers). It is a gorgeous film that almost qualifies for the thread on choosing two of the best black and white films (I'd go with Drama).

If you liked Hero and House of Flying Daggers, you will like this one a lot. The use of thematic colors, the twisty plot, the well choreographed and perfectly shot fight scenes are all there.

I don't think the ending is ambiguous, but you might, so if you like things locked up tight, this one might disappoint.

SPOILER:
You can interpret the bookend scene of Madam Commander at the door as open ended (she hasn't decided what to say when she opens the door) or conclusive (the final expression on her face as she prepares to open the door indicates that she has decided to throw her lot in with the Shadow). I lean towards the latter.

Grade: 4 1/2 umbrellas
  #1062  
Old 05-05-2019, 08:57 AM
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MotW: Rupert, Rupert & Rupert (or The Three Faces of Rupert as Mrs. FtG dubs it.)

An actor with a personality disorder deals with a vast array of problems.

The "play with the play" is supposed some lost/reconstructed work of Marlowe's with apparently just two cast members. The male character in that is a raging ... rage-aholic. Which fits one side of his personality well. Not so much the others. (Which leads to an imbalance of the use of the 3 sides.)

The usual problem with such settings arise: we see the actors performing the same material over and over. I don't see why. They could have just made up some different scenes to break the routine.*

There's The Woman, a tiny bit of romance, The Shrink, the Goofy Play Director, The Money Guy, etc. You know the roles. Throw in a greek non-chorus of street addicts and, hey, you got a movie. Of sorts.

Give it two pill bottles thrown out the window.

(BTW: I didn't realize then that one of the actors in Locating Silver Lake I reviewed above is Zelda Williams. As in daughter of Robin. Yeah, she can actually act.)

* This reminded of one of the two big problems in All That Jazz with Fosse Gideon editing the same bit over and over to make it supposedly better. (The other big problem was the overlong, dragged out finale.)
  #1063  
Old 05-05-2019, 10:05 AM
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I watched The Highwaymen on Netflix. Excellent movie, very well acted about a fascinating historical figure.
Also watched The Dirt, the Motley Crue story on Netflix. Entertaining but a real 80s throwback vibe to how it treated women that made me uncomfortable.
And of course, Endgame. Seen it twice already.
  #1064  
Old 05-12-2019, 07:02 PM
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Non-Fiction (Doubles Vies) is something of a comedy (more sly than funny ha-ha) centered around two french couples who are all cheating on their partners, set in the publishing world, more or less. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though more from the intellectual ideas it sprinkles throughout the film on the rough transition to digital/online publication than the sexual roundelay.

It has one of the most self-referential scenes I've ever seen. In the film, while the couples are on vacation,the author is talking to his publisher about an audio-book of his recent novel and the publisher assures him it is in the works and that in fact, his wife has sent a copy to Juliette Binoche. The publisher's wife is played by...Juliette Binoche!

Amazing Grace is a documentary of the making of Aretha Franklin's 1972 live gospel album of the same name. It was originally shot by Sydney Pollack, who did not use clappers for his shoot, which meant they couldn't sync the audio with the film. Fast forward to about 10 years ago and the technology to do this became available and a bunch of producers (including Spike Lee) worked to create what is on the screen.

It's a raw look at a passion project from one of the great voices of the last 100 years. There's no voice over, almost no talking heads, just two days of footage in a church with a small but extremely appreciative audience (look for flashes of a couple of the Rolling Stones in the back of the audience). It is currently at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and the rating is very much deserved. IMHO, it is definitely something to see on the big screen, if at all possible.
  #1065  
Old 05-13-2019, 08:41 AM
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Long Shot. Romantic comedy with Seth Rogan and Charlize Thereon...and if that sounds like an unlikely couple, that's the whole point. But it's surprisingly good - smart and laugh-out-loud funny. And good god, Charlize Thereon is gorgeous.

Wine Country (Netflix). I really like Amy Pouler, Tina Fey, and all their Saturday Night Live pals, and I had high hopes for this. Dashed. Pouler plays a mean and cranky version of her Parks & Rec character. I kept waiting for it to get funny and not cliched...after an hour, that hadn't happened and I gave up.
  #1066  
Old 05-13-2019, 01:20 PM
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Back to the Oscar nom pool: At Eternity's Gate. Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh during the last years of his life. With a lot of "interpretation" by film maker Julian Schnabel.

This is one of those "good but could have been a lot better" films. Focuses too much on the insanity of Van Gogh. Lots of extended shots showing VVG, etc., wandering around the countryside outside Arles and such. These become boring after a bit.

Dialogue poor except for a few extended discussions between Van Gogh and Oscar Isaac's Paul Gauguin, one between Van Gogh and a priest played by Mads Mikkelsen, etc. Theo (Rupert Friend) isn't really represented well.

Dafoe plays a crazy person well. Go figure.

In short: Van Gogh was crazy, Gauguin was a self-absorbed jerk, etc. What was the non-crazy side of Van Gogh like? Sorry, not in this film.

There's odd bits in French here and there but generally English. With people switching in the middle of a conversation. What the???

Give it 2.5 long lost drawing books.
  #1067  
Old 05-13-2019, 03:56 PM
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Knock Down the House, on Netflix; a documentary about several women who ran against powerful incumbents in 2018. It's worth watching, regardless of your politics, as it points to the glaring failings of our political system.
  #1068  
Old 05-14-2019, 09:00 AM
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The Battered Bastards of Baseball, another documentary on Netflix. This one is about the Portland Mavericks, the last of the independent A League ball teams in America, who created a huge stir in organized baseball in the 70s. It was created by Bing Russell, the father of Kurt Russell, and it only lasted a few years. But in that time it upset the baseball apple cart. Russell recruited baseball's rejects and misfits, including Jim Bouton, and put together a team that was mostly out of shape, off-center, and somewhat nuts. But they won games. Lots of games. And their fans were rabid and record-setting in number.

This is a fun movie, with lots of interviews and footage. The Mavericks rise was reminiscent of the movie Slap Shot, and just as improbable.
  #1069  
Old 05-14-2019, 09:49 AM
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The Return of the Magnificent Seven -- I never saw any of the sequels to Sturges' The Magnificent Seven (and hadn't seen that film in a long time, either*). I picked up a 4 disc set with all the movies and have just watched the first two. Pepper Mill hadn't seen the first sequel, either.

I also showed her another film I hadn't seen in a long time, and she never had -- Robert Rodrigues' Planet Terror, the first half of his Grindhouse. She wasn't a big fan of the gore, but she's a Bad Movie Fan from way back, and was making constant comments about who was obviously going to buy it in the near future and who was "out of the Gene Pool."



*I still very much prefer Akira Kurasawa's original Seven Samurai to all copies and homages, no matter how well made. But I have to admit that I love Elmer Bernstein's score, even though it was acquisitioned by Marlboro for their cigarette ads. Bernstein scored the original and all three sequels.
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  #1070  
Old 05-14-2019, 12:01 PM
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Back to the Oscar nom pool: At Eternity's Gate. Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh during the last years of his life. With a lot of "interpretation" by film maker Julian Schnabel.

This is one of those "good but could have been a lot better" films. Focuses too much on the insanity of Van Gogh. Lots of extended shots showing VVG, etc., wandering around the countryside outside Arles and such. These become boring after a bit.

Dialogue poor except for a few extended discussions between Van Gogh and Oscar Isaac's Paul Gauguin, one between Van Gogh and a priest played by Mads Mikkelsen, etc. Theo (Rupert Friend) isn't really represented well.

Dafoe plays a crazy person well. Go figure.

In short: Van Gogh was crazy, Gauguin was a self-absorbed jerk, etc. What was the non-crazy side of Van Gogh like? Sorry, not in this film.

There's odd bits in French here and there but generally English. With people switching in the middle of a conversation. What the???

Give it 2.5 long lost drawing books.

I'm sure Willem Dafoe would have been a great Vincent Van Gogh... 25 years ago. When the movie was made, Dafoe was 62; Van Gogh died when he was 37. That's worse than Jimmy Stewart as Charles Lindbergh.
  #1071  
Old 05-14-2019, 01:33 PM
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Well, Van Gogh was a wrinkly bastard. Cite.
  #1072  
Old 05-18-2019, 05:26 PM
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Finally got around to watching the rest of Snowpiercer.
  #1073  
Old 05-19-2019, 12:03 PM
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Finally got around to watching the rest of Snowpiercer.
Doing penance for something awful you did?
  #1074  
Old 05-19-2019, 12:29 PM
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I finally saw Avengers: Infinity War the other day and I hated the ending, but loved the rest of it. Talk about your perfect popcorn movie! Can't wait to see Endgame.
  #1075  
Old 05-19-2019, 12:38 PM
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Catching up on some not-first-run stuff (airplane and Netflix)

- Green Book. Good, entertaining, historical. I enjoyed it, but didn't think it was quite "best picture" material. I had just discovered what a "green book" was at the African American History Museum (in Wash DC) last year. So it was a pleasant coincidence that I knew what the title was about when this came out.

- Bad Times at the El Royale. Best way to describe this: "Tarantino wannabe". Seemed like it tried to be a bit too clever with twists (no one is who they seem) and time jumps. I was a bit disappointed.

- Triple Frontier. Seemed like the director wasn't quite sure what story to tell. Starts out like a "Narcos" mission, then turns "Treasure of the Sierra Madre". But then just...kind of goes nowhere. Disappointing.

- The Highwaymen. Along others on this thread, I enjoyed this. One of the better Costner roles/movies.

- Nymphomaniac I and II (you need to see both). Good candidates for the "strangest movie". What starts out as soft-medium porn, quickly becomes this interesting examination into the "why". Cameos from a lot of people you'll recognize (or not - Uma Thurman kind of threw me). But I don't think the director/writer quite knew/agreed on how to end the whole thing. So I found the ending very disappointing.

(for the martial arts fans):
- Master Z: the Ip Man Legacy. This follows the other Wing Chun master who has the big duel with Ip Man in "Ip Man 3". This supposedly chronicles his life after the big duel. Decent fight scenes, decent overall.

- Headshot. If you liked "The Raid: Redemption", this has the same star. Not a whole lot of plot to get in the way of the action. Pretty brutal and gory, so be warned.
  #1076  
Old 05-20-2019, 07:53 AM
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Mrs. FtG is friends with a German couple who keep recommending German films to her. So ... here we go again.

Never Look Away aka Werk ohne Autor. (The German title is far better, of course.)

It was nominated for Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Cinematography.

A time spanning saga from pre-WWII Germany well into the 60s. Nazis are bad people, btw.

Main idea is an art student inspired by his aunt and the Big Bad who somehow keeps messing with his life.

Lots of discussions about art and "art" (if you know what I mean).

3+ hours long so we split it up into two nights. Yeah, it dragged on. And on. And on.

A particularly unsatisfying ending, IMHO. The whole movie was clearly building up to Something. And ...

Give it 2.5 painted nails.

Last edited by ftg; 05-20-2019 at 07:54 AM.
  #1077  
Old 05-20-2019, 11:16 AM
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Doing penance for something awful you did?
Bored silly. But yeah, I really do not get the high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.
  #1078  
Old 05-20-2019, 01:15 PM
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Just watched Limitless, which was an entertaining bit of improbability.
  #1079  
Old 05-20-2019, 02:43 PM
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Watched Suspiria 2018

Have you seen this?

Good. You are better off than me.

A bad remake of a bad film. Tilda Swinton playing 3 roles, sucking at all of them. Dakota Johnson looking delicious but Christ on a cracker, she can't dance OR act. ChloŽ Grace Moretz is completely wasted.

A horror movie that commits the worst sin that a horror movie can. It's dull. They could have easily shaved 40 minutes out of it. Dream sequences. Oh, God, so many dream sequences.....
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:24 PM
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Just saw John Wick: Parabellum.

I got restless about half way through. Interestingly, watching a dude shoot people in the head every five seconds gets boring. At least for me.

I think it peaked about 15 minutes in after the stable scene. That was funny as hell. I'm not sure if this movie was supposed to be funny, but it was definitely funny sometimes.

I'm not sure why I keep seeing these movies. I think when I saw Keanu saying "Guns. Lots of guns." in the trailer I got excited.
  #1081  
Old 05-25-2019, 06:14 PM
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I'm not sure how I missed "V for Vengeance" all these years. I watched it today and realized that it could have been made yesterday, as the theme is just as relevant. In fact, it's like it was written for what is happening in the world today. Creepy.
  #1082  
Old 05-25-2019, 06:21 PM
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^Are you sure the "V" wasn't for "Vendetta?"
  #1083  
Old 05-25-2019, 06:23 PM
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^Are you sure the "V" wasn't for "Vendetta?"
  #1084  
Old 05-25-2019, 08:50 PM
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The White Crow


Just superb. Tense. Beautifully photographed. Remarkably acted.

My god. I want to see it again.
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Old 05-26-2019, 09:40 AM
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Booksmart.

Set around the days of a HS graduation.

Two (well, one actually) seniors discover that they've wasted HS by doing all the right things to get into good colleges, etc. So they try to make up for it in the usual One Epic Night to catch up. Yawn.

The standard series of weird stuff at weird places ensues. Yawn.

Right, I don't see how this is 97% at RT. There's just a ton of run-of-the-mill stuff for a movie of this type. Plus the fact that the two leads are supposed to be very smart but act like idiots for most of the movie is a noticeable problem.

There are some funny bits mixed in here and there. Warning: lots of foul language. But that's okay.

In particular Maya Rudolf's voice bit on a affirmations tape at the beginning is perfect. All such tapes should be like this.

Directed by Olivia Wilde so Jason Sudeikis has a part and that means a ton of other SNL-related people are involved.

It appears that the HS seniors are all 22+ in real life. Anyone surprised by this? One of the "teenagers" is Carrie Fischer's daughter Billie Lourd, age 26. And she's not the oldest.

Beanie Feldstein from Ladybug is the main of the two leads. She's also a much better actor than the other one and this affects the movie.

Lisa Kudrow has a small role and is wasted. C'mon folks, give this amazing actress some real work. Have you not seen The Opposite of Sex?

Give it 1.5 phones with dead batteries.
  #1086  
Old 05-27-2019, 07:39 PM
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Echo in the Canyon
a nice, but not essential, documentary on "the Laurel Canyon Sound" of the 60's. Some insights into the Byrds, Mamas and Papas, Buffalo Springfield, and Beach Boys (David Crosby reveals the real reason he was dropped from the Byrds: "because I was an asshole!" ) plus the interplay between the British Invasion and the LA scene. A lot of the music is from a tribute album/live show by modern day performers (a nice turn by Cat Power included).

Photograph -
A touching film about a poor Indian photographer of tourists and a middle class accounting student in Mumbai. The plot revolves around his sending her photograph to his grandmother, who wants him to get married, as his fiancee. When she decides to visit to meet the couple, he has to find her and persuade her to pretend to be his girlfriend. Hijinks ensue- well, no they don't. In an American rom-com remake, hijinks will ensue. In this film a slow romance and consideration of class, poverty, and growth occurs. The film moves at its own pace, which will probably put off some viewers, but those with patience will be rewarded, though they should not be surprised that there isn't a pat ending (either up or down).

On my "absolutely recommended" list for this year.

The Tomorrow Man -
Blythe Danner and Joh Lithgow in a romantic dramedy about the relationship between a (seemingly) normal widow and a "prepper". Worth seeing for the acting and obvious chemistry between the leads, but it really fails to stick the landing, IMHO. If the director had lost the last 30 seconds of the film it might have made my absolutely recommended list, but as it is, I still enjoyed it for what it was.

I also saw Booksmart and I thought they managed to take a fairly worn plot (nerds on the last day of school need to get to "the big party" and break out of their shells) and populate it with winning characters (there are no "villains" to be overcome), a few hilarious situations (keep an eye on Gigi, is all I will say), and though it may not stick the landing, there is only a bit of a hop on the dismount (when Mags Bennett's protege, Loretta McCready, is involved, you know she's going to do something badass, and Kaitlyn Dever does not disappoint).

Last edited by peccavi; 05-27-2019 at 07:40 PM.
  #1087  
Old 05-27-2019, 09:00 PM
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A new Netflix movie Rim Of The World. Got about 20 minutes in before giving up. Not because it was bad, but because I was clearly not its target audience.

I have great nostalgic affection for Goonies, but I have heard people who come to it late as adults just find it full of loud annoying kids doing a bunch of dumb things. It's hard for me to separate my love for it objectively. However, my assessment of Rim Of The World is that same kind of reaction - full of loud annoying kids doing dumb things. It's unnecessarily crude, its pacing is way off, it's by-the-numbers character archetypes. Bleargh.

Watch it if you're twelve. Otherwise best leave it be.
  #1088  
Old 05-27-2019, 09:13 PM
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Aladdin (the live-action remake). Compared to the 1992 animated version, it holds its own quite well. In some aspects, it's better -- less of the parrot. In others, not so much (the villain, primarily). No one compares to Robin Williams, but Will Smith does a perfectly fine job as the Genie. Recommended, if you liked the original.
  #1089  
Old 05-27-2019, 10:15 PM
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Watched Zodiac (2007) on Netflix. It covers decades of investigation of the Zodiac serial killer, starting in the
late 1960s. Usually when I watch a movie about a real event, or a real person, or a film “based on real events”, I get a little annoyed by Hollywood style alterations to to the facts. Zodiac is, apparently, famous for not making stuff up.

It’s kind of a mixed blessing. There are characters - local law officials - who show up multiple times but never get serious character development — they just provide or deny information. Jake Gyllenhaal is the lead actor, and Mark Ruffian #2, but Robert Downey Jr. was the third lead and I’m not sure he added much to the story, but apparently he had some interactions with the serial killer.

Gyllenhaal seemed a little too “spectrum” to be completely believable as a political cartoonist and a writer, but, going by the film’s rep for accuracy, his portrayal might have been spot-on.

Roger Ebert was impressed by the realism of the newspaper office scenes.

Good film, unique, interesting oddities, good period soundtrack that uses Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man as effective framing music. I’ll give it a weak A grade.
  #1090  
Old 05-31-2019, 05:07 AM
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Mortal Engines was a lot better than I expected from the reviews and poor box office. It wasn't perfect, it was quite derivative in fact (there's one sequence that's a carbon copy of Star Wars) but that didn't stop it from being entertaining, and quite spectacularly beautiful. The CGI looked a lot better than it did in the trailers.

It did fall down a bit in fleshing out secondary characters. Clearly we were meant to care about them when they meet their fates, and in the books I imagine there was plenty of opportunity for that; The casualties of adaptation, I guess, but it felt glaring at times, and weakened certain side stories.

There's something about Steampunk that doesn't seem to resonate well with audiences. Despite its niche popularity with the nerd crowd, especially cosplayers, it just can't seem to catch a break. Even when they have really good stories, admittedly not always a guarantee, that doesn't seem to be enough. It's a shame, as Steampunk is one of my absolute favourite aesthetics.
  #1091  
Old 06-02-2019, 08:36 AM
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Time for another Aussie flick: Ladies in Black.

Tales of some women working at an upscale dept. store in 1959 Australia.

Of the cast, the only one I recognize is Julia Ormond as the elder lady. But I should have recognized Rachael Taylor from various US TV shows.

Part of the story involves native Aussies vs. "reffos", refuges who had been in Australia, in some cases, to have grown kids. (So having Ormand in the film works well.) Some "us vs. them" attitudes plus the usual 50s women as 2nd class citizens that is barely challenged.

Not really much of a story. Things end so predictably that it nearly ruined the film. But taken as a period character study it works very well. You just have to look past stuff like the "take off her glasses and re-arrange her hair a bit" and "turning a blah dress into a winner" tropes.

Give it 3.5 salamis.
  #1092  
Old 06-02-2019, 08:58 AM
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You may also recognize Angourie Rice, who has done a number of American films. Although Julia Ormond may be listed higher in the credits (although I'm not sure if that's true), the film is more about Rice's character. Ormond may have been listed higher in the credits because she has a long career behind her.
  #1093  
Old 06-09-2019, 07:26 AM
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Last week was an Aussie retro film. This week a futuristic Aussie one. I am Mother. (One of those films Netflix buys and slaps their logo all over it.)

A child is raised completely by a robot, alone, in a special bunker in a post-something dystopian future. Hillary Swank is the only on-screen person I know.

A thread was started about it so I put my review there.

In short: Wished I watched something, anything, else.
  #1094  
Old 06-09-2019, 08:01 AM
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I finally saw A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga and I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed. I managed to miss it in the theaters and I rarely rent anything streaming, but it just showed up on HBO Now. I was excited to finally see it. Then ... blah. It didn't really go anywhere or say anything.

I was familiar with the previous versions though I don't think I've ever seen the entire 1954 film and I've seen the 1976 version but not in a million years. So I guess I didn't have a perfect understanding of the entire story arc but it didn't really go the way I thought it would. I thought Lady Gaga's performance was really top notch but her character's new found fame didn't come across as very new-found to me. I know it was supposed to be a meteoric rise, but it just seemed to go from integrity-laden singer song-writer to comfortable with back up dancers too quickly. I was also a little taken aback at Cooper's character cleaning up right at the end before taking that hard turn. Speaking of which, I think the entire film should have ended about ten minutes before it did. Garage door closes ... roll credits.

My one last pet peeve is this - I was under the impression that Bradley Cooper is a pretty good guitar player, but that didn't really come off in the film. I'm pretty sure that wasn't really him playing the more intricate stuff and he just seemed a little too herky-jerky to come off as the best guitar player his brother could find in the state.

I'll probably watch it again.

Last edited by Jack Batty; 06-09-2019 at 08:03 AM.
  #1095  
Old 06-10-2019, 12:35 AM
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I saw three movies today (triple feature!).

Late Night
I went to the morning matinee of this one, mostly because Mindy Kaling was slated to appear for a Q&A after the early afternoon showings, and I wanted an uncrowded theater (and didn't want to attend a Q&A if the movie stunk).

It definitely doesn't stink. The actors alone assure this. However, the script, while it does a few new twists on "the outsider comes in and save the enterprise through pluck and resourcefulness", it never feels like a real look at putting on a late night talk show (think Emma Thompson as the female version of David Letterman). But there are some laughs and the heartfelt ending seems mostly earned, so I will be happy if it makes some money for its backers.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
I saw this one because while I was buying my tickets for Late Night, I saw that there was an opportunity to buy a ticket for a late afternoon showing of the third movie in my triple feature. So I looked at what was available (and I hadn't seen) to fill the three hour gap (with time for lunch) and this film fit the bill.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco is this year's Blindspotting, though along gentler line with a dash more surrealism thrown in. For those who despair at the misrepresentation of their city in the movies, this one is an authentic look at a specific slice of the City by the Bay. I enjoyed the movie and found all the characters engaging and a bit unpredictable. It's really a specific story about specific people, so it doesn't hammer you with broad lessons to be learned. I'm not as high on this film as I was on Blindspotting, but I enjoyed my time with the characters and the storytelling.

Wild Rose
The reason for ending up in a triple feature. The official release date for this film is later this summer, so when I saw a single showing of this in the late afternoon in the kiosk listing, I took a look at the seats and there was one available in a great location, so I went for it. (The screening turned out to be only 3/4 full, primarily because it only popped up on the theater's site today, nothing about it in the prior weeks).

I loved this movie. While the overall narrative arc is well trodden (character with drive and talent wants to make in the music biz but keeps getting in her own way), the setting (Glasgow), the music biz ("country music" as the lead character keeps correcting those who say she sings "country and western music"), and the self-sabotaging behavior (which never crosses the threshold of "how could you do something that stupid!") comes across as fresh. Couple that with some great performances (though Julie Walters, who gets billing of a lead, is in a supporting role that doesn't allow her to stretch) and some terrific musical performances and we have a winner.

The lead, Jessie Buckley, is a revelation (at least to me). A fiery performance coupled with some great singing of some iconic country songs (as well as a few new ones). She has some great pipes.

And I know her musical performance wasn't a matter of autotune and editing magic because as the final credits rolled, Jessie came down to the front of the theater for a 10 minute Q&A and a 15 minute mini-concert of some great country music (Born To Run*, Guilty, and Country Girl, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar).

Definitely on my absolutely recommended list and please see it on something with a good sound system!

*Before sitting down too write a smug note telling me Born To Run is not a country song, please reflect on whether you have any knowledge of good country music in general and Emmylou in particular. Born To Run is not only a country song, but a great country song!
  #1096  
Old 06-10-2019, 09:02 AM
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Rocketman, the Elton John biopic. I was a bit skeptical going in because our local movie critic hated it (he's definitely an outlier, on this one). The music is not chronological, by any means: it's not "and then I wrote..." kind of a story. But it is a very very familiar "rock star descent into drugs and alcohol before hitting rock bottom, turning around, happy ending, roll credits" story. It's OK.
  #1097  
Old 06-16-2019, 07:45 AM
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Earlier I wrote on The Miseducation of Cameron Post. One of two gay conversion movies that had come it. Realized I should have seen the other one instead. But I needed to wait a while to "cleanse the palate" so to speak.

Anyway. Time for Boy Erased. This time a boy going thru this nonsense. "Based on a true story."

Note: not an Australian movie like some of my recent ones. But Australian-ish. With Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe as the parents. (Although neither was actually born in Australia.)

Fairly decent movie despite having the usual "events" that are apparently required in such a movie. A good amount of tense drama. Reasonably well done.

Kidman plays it nicely understated. Crowe isn't a major figure in the movie until near the end but then gets his time to shine. The "boy" is a generic boy.

Give it 3 Bible thumpings.
  #1098  
Old 06-16-2019, 08:40 AM
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I just watched Satan & Adam on Netflix and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It is a documentary, 20 years in the making, about the musical duo that makes up the title. I had never heard of them and it is one of those movies best watched without knowing much.

Some terrific blues and a really attractive score.
  #1099  
Old 06-16-2019, 10:09 AM
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Always Amazing - a documentary detailing the life and times of comedian The Amazing Jonathan. Directed by comedian Steve Byrne, his first directorial effort, it is very well done. Many details of his life are made clear in a well paced effort. His relationship with his mentee Australian comedian Joel Ozborn, whom he met when Ozborn was 12, is one of the most touching things you'll ever see in a documentary.

I recommend it, especially since you can see if for free on YouTube - by design. It's not there as a bootleg or anything, the producers essentially gave it away to YouTube so it would be seen. So see it.

Last edited by Jack Batty; 06-16-2019 at 10:11 AM.
  #1100  
Old 06-23-2019, 03:29 PM
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Gotta a winner here.

First of all, remember the old bit:

That's funny.
"Funny" haha or "funny" peculiar?

Remember this.

MotW is Funny Story with nobody I know of. (Warning: The IMDb page contains spoilers. Don't click on this link if you want to avoid them.)

An actor who once starred in a SciFi Fantasy TV show is going to spend a weekend near Big Sur with his grown daughter that he has a complicated relationship with. Along the way he picks up the daughter's friend in LA so it sort of starts with a road trip. Movie ensues.

This is just a good movie in most respects. The acting is surprisingly good. Esp. Emily Bett Rickards (from the DC TV universe) as the friend.

I guess I've seen the lead guy, Matthew Glave, in several things. But never doing a standout thing like this before. Reginald VelJohnson has a blink-and-you'll-miss-him bit.

Whoever picked the songs for this needs to be charge of selecting music for all TV shows and movies. Although Pachelbel's Canon turns up, as usual.

There are a couple of "people should not do this" scenes that are uncomfortable but they are at the core of the movie and are musts.

During the road trip, they stay overnight in Solvang, CA which you will remember (right?) was a location visited in Paddleton I reviewed a few, many, several months ago. That blasted fake windmill is getting famous.

Generally rave reviews at RT. It seems that several of the negative critics expected the "funny" to mean purely "haha". But it's more than that.

Give it 4.5 dream catchers.
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