Movies you've seen recently

Just finished watching Unhinged on Amazon. A road rage thriller that works pretty well. A very overweight Russell Crowe is appropriately menacing.

Gunpowder Milkshake - Netflix

★★★ out of ★★★★★

Gist: All over the place in terms of quality and tone.

This movie is kind of a mess and it is very clear that the director did not have a clear vision going into filming. The result is a movie that is not actually bad and is definitely interesting, but is wildly all over the place in terms of tone and quality of production. It seems to want to be an action movie in the vein of Wanted, but the film makers are never able to get the movie to be as interesting or slickly edited and choreographed as the better outrageous action movies. In the end, we have a movie that is sometimes very slick and entertaining and at other times left me asking, “Is this what they mean? They want me to think this right now???”


  • Karen Gillan and Lena Headey are great

  • I counted three very well done action sequences

  • It’s flaws kind of make it captivating in a strange way


  • Poorly and confusingly edited in some sequences

  • The opening 15 minutes were so conversation heavy, it was a snooze

  • Is less than the sum of its parts. Sound and fury, signifying…a little bit?

This movie was acceptable and worth a quick viewing on Netflix if you want something to watch for a couple of hours. Movies like this are nice to have on a streaming service, but are not the type of movie people seek out. They come up as recommended and are perfectly adequate.

Intriguing, kind of a mess, and ultimately perfectly adequate is a great description. Strange movie.

Any time there is a dog on the screen, I watch for this tell-tale sign. It’s pretty obvious in older movies, they do slightly better in the newer films.

This is on my watch list. My hope is that it is like John Wick with more humor.

We watched about 30 minutes of a perfectly awful sci-fi movie on Netflix called Original Sin. Really, how many movies get a 3% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes? I’m convinced Bruce Willis has become the new Nicholas Cage. Anything for a buck. He’s been part of 9 or 10 movies the last couple of years alone, most of which he just walks through and collects a paycheck. He was never a great actor but had a certain engaging quality about him. It’s sad to see the crap he’s churning out now.

It was pretty disappointing to be honest. Would like to hear your thoughts.

Pig, starring Nicholas Cage. It’s being advertised as a John Wicksian movie, but aside from the “underground society that exists side by side with the normals” it has no connection to the revenge fantasy genre that’s sprung up lately.

It’s an interesting movie, but not a great one. Surprisingly little violence, despite the fact that Cage goes through most of the movie bloody and beaten. Cage’s performance is contained, for him.

Mama Weed, starring Isabelle Huppert. She’s a police translator on wiretaps that stumbles into a massive cache of drugs and decides to make some badly needed money from it. The plot requires some suspension of disbelief, but the side characters are engaging and Huppert holds everything together in her portrayal of a woman more comfortable with “business the police would not consider appropriate” than you’d think.

Submergence is a story of a marine biology mathematician (Alecia Vikander) and an MI6 anti-terrorism agent (James McAvoy). Who meet for a few days in a french seaside hotel and spend the rest of the movie apart, longing for each other. If I wasn’t such a sucker for a love story of otherwise likeable characters, I’d say give it a pass.

I watched it, and I concur.

Just watched The Empty Man starring James Badge Dale with a supporting turn from Marin Ireland. It’s not good, and it’s very long. But I dig the genre so enjoyed it well enough. Say 3 out of 5 stars.

Think of a cross between The Bye Bye Man (ugh), The Ring, and Deliver Us from Evil with a similar setting as the world of Control (the videogame) but without the government agency and brutalist architecture. Add in plot elements from both Kill List and Hereditary, stir vigorously and this is what you get. Overall it’s only about as good as The Bye Bye Man, which isn’t very, but at least the main characters in The Empty Man are grownups instead of teens.

I recognized James Badge Dale but couldn’t place where so I looked him up on IMDb. Turns out (for me at least) he’s a “That guy” because apparently I’ve seen him in Hold the Dark, Donnybrook, The Lone Ranger, World War Z, Iron Man 3, Shame, The Pacific, The Black Donnellys and The Departed. No wonder he looked familiar to me, but I don’t actually remember a single part he played in any of those titles. (From Donnybrook in particular I only remember Jamie Bell, Frank Grillo and Margaret Qualley.) My guess is he played bit parts in most or all of these.

It’s super long. You know how lots of horror movies start with a 5-minute vignette showing some history to the story we’re about to see? The history vignette begins with a friggin’ title card. I groaned, thinking “How long is this cold open?” Turns out, 20 minutes. And then the movie proper is another 1:50 after that, for a staggering 2:10 run time before the credits roll. Way, way too long. I’d kind of rather the 20-minute opening was just expanded into a full movie by itself. It was more interesting.

The thing that really jumped out at me was the smoking. I roll my eyes anytime I see @DrDeth complain about smoking, but holy shit, this movie made me feel like DrDeth. The main character is first introduced jogging down the street in jogging clothes, establishing him as a jogger. Mid-jog he stops to have a cigarette, after which he resumes his jog. Who does that?

Shortly after that, our main character is visiting a neighbor who is worried about her runaway high-school-age daughter. Mom is sitting on daughter’s bed, where she lights up a cigarette. What the fuck? It’s not like you’ll stunt an 18-year-old’s development like a toddler, but seriously, who lights up a smoke while sitting on their kid’s bed?

And then a scene or two later the main character is sitting in a car outside the high school, and calls out to one of the runaway girl’s friends to ask her some questions. Of course he’s smoking. She asks if she can bum one, he says get in, she does and lights up. At this point I, a lifelong smoker and DrDeth eye-roller, sitting alone on my couch, actually said out loud “Everything about this is wrong.”

EllisDee, I feel like I’ve slipped into an alternate universe, where everything is just a little bit different. In your well-crafted review I recognized absolutely none of those names: the movies, the actors, the characters, the video game…zip. (Except Lone Ranger and Iron Man3, I guess)

I do complain a bit too much about this, mea culpa, but that is a perfect example you just gave, Thanks?

Why are so many characters smoking when only about 15% of Americans smoke?

I thought you’d appreciate it so had to tag you. Fair is fair, and I did actually think of you while watching. I was like “What the hell, this stupid movie is turning me into DrDeth!” heh.

Intended with good humor, no offense meant.

Some of them are good! If you’ll indulge me:

Kill List
Schlubby average guy is retired hitman whose new life isn’t as lucrative. His old partner convinces him to do another job. Then another. Eventually (vague spoiler for Kill List) they end up on the wrong end of a secret society doing scary rituals in the woods, who then notice and chase our intrepid heroes. Not “found footage” but a similar style. Very low budget. Mild spoiler for The Empty Man: Toward the end, our hero stumbles onto the cult performing a creepy ritual in the woods, they notice him and begin pursuit. Definite Wicker Man vibes. I almost said Wicker Man instead of Kill List but the Nicolas Cage version taints that reference too much.

There’s an actual SDMB thread about this one. I would describe Hereditary as highly stylized psychological trauma, starring Toni Collette. It does have some actual horror elements, as opposed to just mundane yet unthinkable horrific nightmares. Fairly big spoiler for both Hereditary and The Empty Man: Our PoV character turns out to be the new iteration of the monster, groomed/created by the scary cult who then kneel to worship him just as final credits roll.

Meth Town USA, where the only opportunity is bare knuckle fighting down by the river. Seriously grimdark. Jamie Bell is our hero, with Margaret Qualley (Kevin’s daughter from HBO’s The Leftovers) and Frank Grillo (action star) as the incest-y and violent meth-cooking town psychos. Not as good but just as grim as Jennifer Lawrence’s early work in Poker House and Winter’s Bone. Apparently James Badge Dale was in this but I have no memory of him.

Hold the Dark
I want to say this Netflix drama is good, but that’ll be a matter of taste. Good production values and excellent HBO cast with Jeffrey Wright (Westworld, Boardwalk Empire) and Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), plus Riley Keough (Elvis’ granddaughter!) who is in all the cool, hip projects. Set in Alaska, a private investigator searches for a missing boy. Relentlessly grim except when punctuated by shocking, sustained violence. Most anyone who has watched this whole thing has no doubt thought “What the fuck did I just watch?” when the credits roll. Set in the real world but there are some serious “incestuous werewolves” vibes going on. I loved it, but I love both Jeffrey Wright and Riley Keough so I am biased. Again, James Badge Dale was apparently in this but I have no memory of his character.

Relentlessly grim and fairly explicit slice-of-life of a sex addict played by Michael Fassbender, released shortly after he first played Magneto. Carey Mulligan plays his sister. Probably not incest-y in any way. Just sustained full frontal shower conversations between brother and sister; that’s perfectly normal, right? I remember this as a Leaving Las Vegas-level downer; just brutal. And another movie with James Badge Dale in a part I don’t remember.

I would like to stop here for a second to point out this commonality of relentless grim downers featuring elements of incest. The only reason I even brought up Donnybrook, Hold the Dark and Shame is because James Badge Dale was in them. So about 10 minutes after the main movie starts and he looked so familiar it bugged me, I looked him up and it turns out he was in a bunch of stuff I liked.

It’s not me that has a weird “incestuous grimdark” fetish in movies. It’s James Badge Dale who has the weird incestuous grimdark fetish in projects. Yeah, I feel good about this defense.

As for the videogame Control, the setting is a giant brutalist government building full of officeworkers. Except they’re possessed, levitating, and chanting insanity on a loop. So as you run through these brutalist structures there’s a constant background sound of murmuring crazy. In The Empty Man, there’s a lot of murmured insanity in the sound design. It’s more whispered, but not always. Very Control-esque.

In the game’s world (spoiler for Control) thought can manifest reality if enough people know it. So like Urban Legends, or werewolves, or whatever can randomly manifest into being anywhere because enough people think about them. That then becomes a serious problem this government agency has to contain and clean up after. We never see any of that because we never leave the government building. The Empty Man doesn’t have any of that government stuff. What it does have (spoiler for both Control and Empty Man): is the same “thought manifests reality” conceit. Only difference is in the game countless people knowing everywhere causes it anywhere, while in the movie a small-ish group of people thinking really hard causes it locally.

I accept that is a pet peeve of mine. I maybe get too carried away on the issue, I concede.

But Big Tobacco is evil. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Rewatched Sleepaway Camp. Hilarious classic. I love it for three real reasons. One is kids are played by kids, two the dialogue is what we said as kids in the 80s, (bad acting for most all but still) and three, the ending is a little creepy. The howl from the killer is discerning. Laughed like hell and loved it again. :grin:

“Cobra Verde”, by Werner Herzog, with Klaus Kinski. Klaus broods, he grimaces, he tilts his chin and stares at the sky. Sometimes he goes berserk. Pretty much what you expect.

He’s supposed to be this notorious bandit whom all men tremble at the mention of his name, but we see no reason anyone would fear or obey him. He’s just sort of nuts.

Anyway, after a lot of silly stuff, finally somehow he gets a gig training an army of African warrior women, and he screams at a couple of them but since it takes place in the middle of a thousand sword-swingin’ topless amazons it’s hard to see how this counts as leadership. Actually the whole project feels like another white-man fantasy of dominion over nature and the primitive “other”, which of course is Werner Herzog’s thing but this ain’t one of the good ones.

Summer of Soul (2121, Hulu) - ★★★★ out of ★★★★★

I was anxious to see this one. Standouts: The Staple Singers, Stevie Wonder, Hugh Masakela, and, especially, Sly & the Family Stone. Could have done without: the Max Roach drum solo, Al Sharpton, and the 10 seconds of Chris Rock, who seemingly appeared for the sole purpose of telling us that Stevie Wonder is awesome. Cringe moment: Nina Simone asking (from within a poem), Are you ready to kill? Are you ready to burn the white man’s buildings down? (paraphrasing, cannot recall the exact quote).


Nina was an angry, angry woman (and not without some justification, although the above example is definitely OTT). I recommend What Happened, Miss Simone? if you’re interested in her life story.

Lately, I seem to be watching movies so you won’t have to. I Melt With You is among those you should definitely give a solid pass. A self indulgent, drug fueled romp into mid life failure by a bunch of pathetic whiners. I did enjoy the soundtrack, however.