Author Topic: Respond to the last movie you watched  (Read 91516 times)

1SO

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2980 on: January 23, 2019, 10:13:30 PM »
The Eastrail 177 Trilogy loses about five spots just for being called The Eastrail 177 Trilogy.

Agreed, that's just obnoxious.
The Eastrail 177 is what connects all three stories, though that isn't made clear until Glass. It's sounds pompous, but with in hindsight it's the right name. I prefer it to a more generic Vengeance Trilogy or Death Trilogy.


Also, when the hell did Shyamalan shit out a sequel to Unbreakable? Man, that guy slid so hard into irrelevance.
I'm not even a Shyamalan apologist, but the way he got here is as inspired as Woody Allen turning an old nightclub routine into Midnight in Paris. James McAvoy's character was originally the villain in Unbreakable, but back when he was a better writer, Shyamalan came up with a more fitting  way to tell that story. Split is an expansion of that character from the Unbreakable script, now the central figure of a Horror film, carried over by McAvoy's zeal bouncing between the personalities. This wasn't a desperate grab to stay relevant by extending a possible franchise. That's an accusation I've made at Finding Dory and Incredibles 2.
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Bondo

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2981 on: January 23, 2019, 10:28:26 PM »
Dark Money (2008)

When a documentarian makes their name with a highly personal documentary, it is always a question whether the skill that made them an effective storyteller in that setting will translate to a more impersonal topic. Kimberly Reed's Prodigal Sons is one of my favorite documentaries, dealing with her transition and some other family drama. With Dark Money she shifts to the fertile ground of the political/social issue documentary, focusing on the influence of money in politics. The way she keeps it somewhat smaller and more personal is by using her home state of Montana as the case study. The selection of Montana isn't purely sentimental, but rather it is a state with a surprising history of strong campaign finance regulation stemming in part to its history of some profound devastation at the hand of early industrial tycoons.

Money in politics is a touchy point for me. On the one hand, I'm fully supportive of taking major strides to get money out of politics. I do not believe money should be considered speech and that monetary contributions to political efforts should be heavily limited. The current Supreme Court disagrees with me. The Court does allow (for now) that Congress can mandate disclosure rules, though at present it has done little on this. One scene in this documentary charts out the risk of poor disclosure policies that create de facto bribery with almost no means of enforcement except under unusual circumstances as in one case featured in the documentary. The thing is, I'm not sure how big of a deal this actually is in affecting political outcomes. The shady groups involved here aren't that far removed from something like Emily's List, but instead of screening candidates for pro-choice views, they screen them for views on things like Right To Work laws. The only difference is Emily's List is public about its aims while these other groups are a bit cagier. But the point is, the views drive the support more than the support drives the views.

The problem is this is not a bipartisan issue. The interesting thing about Montana as a subject for this film's analysis is that many of the people targeted by the dark money efforts are Republicans, in primary contests against more radical members of their party. This, in tandem with the financing of the right-wing media structures, goes a long way to explaining why the Republican party has gotten so extreme. But it isn't like the politicians are distinctly more conservative than their base as a result of dark money...their base they are drawn from is just as radical. There is no comparable apparatus on the left. Instead of a fairly uniform radicalism nationally, Democratic ideology tends to be tethered to the liberalism of each area, with Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Vermont and the Bronx, but Joe Manchin in West Virginia. The Cook Political Index and a focus on what the area's economic specialty is explains the variations a lot better than corporate contributions do.

But as much as I want to dismiss the role of money and instead focus on the institutional issues that I think do truly structure political outcomes a lot more, I cannot completely escape the way money influences those institutions. The documentary is effective here in looking at how these groups have particularly focused on state Supreme Courts that are often elected (which is dumb), and also effectively captured the US Supreme Court where life terms (which are dumb) make control sticky, especially with a prominent role given to the Senate (which is horribly disproportionate and generally dumb). With influence in these areas, not exactly through money but through taking control of one party in a two-party system and exploiting moments of power, they have put their finger on the scales to tilt the institutions increasingly their way. In Montana the documentary has a glimmer of hope at the end of its thorough and well structured analysis. The public has displayed an appetite for good government measures even in conservative states when it is put to direct vote (though again, the courts can overrule these). So maybe there is hope, though I tend to be a pessimist that maintains the only long-term solution is taking a tip from the Founders and tossing out the Constitution they wrote in favor for a new document better suited to the current challenges.

smirnoff

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2982 on: January 24, 2019, 07:31:26 PM »
Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton, 1996)        7/10

I had seen this before, but my memory of it was limited to things like "french fried taters" and "I call it a kaiser blade". The film has it's moments. Karl Childers' presence in any scene was enough to maintain it, and there's not much of the film that he's not in, so getting through it was not a struggle. Any great moments though? Mmm, nothing comes to mind. Lucas Black, the kid, gave a performance that felt genuine. He reminded me of River Phoenix in Stand By Me, a performance which I also thought was pretty solid for a young actor. It was a fine film, pretty thoughtful, but I'm not super excited about having revisited it.


The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998)        7/10

If this film could hit the emotional highs I was hoping for it probably be in my top 100. It's funny, sometimes really funny, it's thoughtful, it presents some neat ideas, and it really gets into the logistical weeds... all good things. But as a character I didn't feel much for Truman. The whole thing never quite transcends it's own goofiness. The reaction moments from the exaggerated audience members didn't help in this regard... none of them were realistic to me. It just gets sillier as it goes along.


An Honest Liar (2014)        7/10

Doc on The Amazing Randi. Generally a pretty interesting collection of anecdotes from his career as a magician and a debunker. They blend in some goings on in Randi's personal life and explore the potential hypocrisy in his story, but this aspect of the doc is much less interesting, and to be honest I think they make a mountain out of a molehill. The most interesting question they explore is if any proof can be universally incontrovertible. It seems the goalposts can always be moved if the need to believe is stronger than the desire for the truth.


Abundant Acreage Available (Angus MacLachlan, 2017)        6/10

Written and directed by the guy who wrote Junebug, which I thought was a pretty good film. This one is okay too I suppose. Feels a bit drawn out for what story there is. A lot of characters sitting and pondering for minutes at a time over a situation which I didn't find that interesting. Pretty light drama. I might recommend it to my parents.


Breaker Morant (Bruce Beresford, 1980)         7/10

Every scene in the courtroom is good, and every scene outside of the courtroom is bad (unless their lawyer was in it). Ugh, how many times do we need to keep breaking the momentum of the trial for a flashback? I liked the story and hated the storytelling.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 07:33:39 PM by smirnoff »

oldkid

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2983 on: January 24, 2019, 09:55:29 PM »
Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton, 1996)        7/10

I had seen this before, but my memory of it was limited to things like "french fried taters" and "I call it a kaiser blade". The film has it's moments. Karl Childers' presence in any scene was enough to maintain it, and there's not much of the film that he's not in, so getting through it was not a struggle. Any great moments though? Mmm, nothing comes to mind. Lucas Black, the kid, gave a performance that felt genuine. He reminded me of River Phoenix in Stand By Me, a performance which I also thought was pretty solid for a young actor. It was a fine film, pretty thoughtful, but I'm not super excited about having revisited it.


The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998)        7/10

If this film could hit the emotional highs I was hoping for it probably be in my top 100. It's funny, sometimes really funny, it's thoughtful, it presents some neat ideas, and it really gets into the logistical weeds... all good things. But as a character I didn't feel much for Truman. The whole thing never quite transcends it's own goofiness. The reaction moments from the exaggerated audience members didn't help in this regard... none of them were realistic to me. It just gets sillier as it goes along.

I thought I would re-watch Sling Blade a couple months ago.  I will still catch up with it and let you know what I think for a re-watch.

I don't need the emotional highs for the Truman Show (although the final scenes with the storm and the confrontation between Creator and created were pretty high).  It is entertaining and provided some interesting thoughts and it predicted a kind of television that is pretty common now.  It holds up as well as it ever did for me, I guess.  I think I'd give it a 4/5, not far from you.
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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2984 on: January 24, 2019, 11:28:08 PM »
I often talk myself out of writing even brief comments on the classic and/or obscure films I watch, but if I don't say something occasionally, I'm partly responsible for not keeping their memory alive.


Adam Had Four Sons (1941)
★ ★ ★ - Good
Ingrid Bergman comes into the lives of the titular family, but Mary Poppins this ain't. More like Legends of the Fall, with the boys getting tangled up with the war and a bad girl played by Susan Hayward, doing the kind of claws-out viciousness Dorothy Malone brought to Douglas Sirk films. (Hayward is one of the best at drunk acting, realizing it isn't in the slurred speech by the lustful looks and immoral choices.) Bergman is largely backgrounded until she tangles with Hayward. Their scenes together are high voltage.


I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1951)
★ ★ ★ - Good
Susan Hayward again, this time playing a ruthless fashion designer out to start her own line. It's an uncommonly complex portrait of a woman balancing work and personal happiness, tangling with men both in and out of work that have never heard of #metoo. Her relentless drive steamrolls over everything until she runs into George Sanders. The film slowly runs out of steam, but this is a top shelf performance by an actress with a lot of sparkling showcases.


Hi, Nellie! (1934)
★ ★ ★ - Okay
Paul Muni, back when he was a Warner Bros. contract player and not the Daniel Day-Lewis of his generation, stars as a newspaper man demoted to running the heartthrob column. He gets involved in a big crime story and works with a fellow reporter (Glenda Farrell) to get back on top. Muni's early drunk jerk scenes hit a little too hard for such genre fare, but the overall film is quite entertaining. Packed with familiar classic Hollywood faces and one of the best roles for sassy Farrell. (She was often 2nd banana to Joan Blondell.)


A Tragedy at Midnight (1942)
★ ★
Though most are terrible, the wife and I can't get enough of the many Thin Man ripoffs of the 30s and 40s. This low-effort whodunit stars largely unknown John Howard (The Philadelphia Story) and somewhat obscure Margaret Lindsay (Scarlet Street). Some of the chemistry isn't forced but the mystery is baffling and there are numerous instances of dumb direction that could've been fixed if there was time for more takes.
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smirnoff

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2985 on: January 25, 2019, 12:12:29 AM »
I thought I would re-watch Sling Blade a couple months ago.  I will still catch up with it and let you know what I think for a re-watch.

I don't need the emotional highs for the Truman Show (although the final scenes with the storm and the confrontation between Creator and created were pretty high).  It is entertaining and provided some interesting thoughts and it predicted a kind of television that is pretty common now.  It holds up as well as it ever did for me, I guess.  I think I'd give it a 4/5, not far from you.

They use a bit of a Philip Glass piece in the film at times to great effect. I think if it had been laid in a little heavier still I might've got there. ;)

The story of Nabusi was in my mind the whole time. It doesn't sound that similar, but it touches on the quasi-cruel nature of the situation which is also something The Truman Show explores... and maybe lets itself off the hook a bit easy.

philip918

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2986 on: January 25, 2019, 12:06:58 PM »
Tully (2018)

Jason Reitman's gritty reimagining of Mary Poppins. The first 20 minutes of this made every penny of my vasectomy worth it. After that the film gets really, really good. Theron is GREAT. I think this came out too early and people just don't care about Reitman as a director, but I'm really considering her for my Filmspot ballot. She creates an incredibly rich character with dead-pan humor and viper-bite sarcasm embedded in her beleaguered, sleep-deprived mother.

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2987 on: January 25, 2019, 02:42:28 PM »
Agreed, also really liked Mackenzie Davis. It also moved along really nicely, I was never bored.
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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2988 on: January 25, 2019, 03:24:15 PM »
Yep, I think they'd both be on my ballot right now (The Favourite has yet to come out here though, and that certainly could affect those categories for me).
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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #2989 on: January 25, 2019, 07:42:04 PM »
Can You Ever Forgive Me?

I sense a strong disturbance...in my Filmspot ballot. Playing against type, I wasn't particularly a fan of The Diary of a Teenage Girl. I don't know that its directorial flourishes was part of my problem, but it is interesting the contrast between that one and this composed, naturalistic work. Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is a biographer and copy editor of minimal renown who is fired from The New Yorker's grunt squad (I mean, what a dingy office) due to her abrasive personality and falls into making ends meet by forging letters from famous people. It's a brilliant con for a biographer, though one that is high on risk and relatively low on reward. I couldn't help thinking, while watching this, of the perpetual stories of journalistic layoffs of late, so many sacrificed to market demands for frilly work that catches the eye. The best filmic comparison in some ways is Catch Me If You Can, but that story is full of pizzazz of the chase and the fact that he picks incredibly complicated professions to impersonate. Lee's task is unglamorous but still a work of skill...you'd have to think if her talents were applied more productively she could find success, which let's be honest, given the existence of a film based on her subsequent memoir, she did.

Thrown into her path of despair is Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), a vagabond and grifter of sorts simply existing in the world to meet hedonistic ends. He is in equal parts good influence and bad influence on her...arguably her manic pixie dream fa**ot, which I suppose does risk gay character tropes. Still, their chemistry is incredible, as you might expect from two actors with their skill in exchanging witty banter. As enjoyable as these moments are, there is of course this weight hanging over everything because you know this kind of a ride can never last, leading to an enjoyable and touching film. Really splendid and into my top-5.