Author Topic: Respond to the last movie you watched  (Read 131191 times)

Jeff Schroeck

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1340 on: September 09, 2017, 10:27:04 AM »
84 Charing Cross Road (David Hugh Jones, 1987)

This is cute, charming, funny in a witty, chuckling kind of way. I liked the 4th wall breaking but it could've used either more or less of it - it was teetering uncomfortably in between. It also could've lost about 20 minutes, mostly in the food exchange bits. A little bit of that worked in rounding out their relationship and brought in peripheral characters like Frank's family, but it went on a bit long.

3.5/5

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1341 on: September 10, 2017, 04:13:30 PM »
Jamaica Inn (1939)

Alfred Hitchcock’s British productions are strange ebb and flow of unsuitable projects, promising pictures, and magnificent works. By the time he makes The Lady Vanishes, his voice is clear. The building tension and the dry, dark humor produced many lovely films. But Hitchcock continued to struggle in the British film system and Jamaica Inn would be his final British production: a frustrating picture maligned by studio politics.

Jamaica Inn is an adaptation from a novel by Daphne Du Maurier, an author Hitchcock would adapt to the screen again with his next film (Rebecca) as well as decades later with The Birds. Both films prove Maurier’s work is ripe for Hitchcock’s sensibilities, but Jamaica Inn is a film rewritten and reshaped to the point that both Hitchcock and Maurier denounced the film.

The changes came from Charles Laughton and his producer friends shifting the film to be more about Laughton’s character. In an era where people went to the movies to see the stars, Laughton held enough sway to shape the adaptation to be more about his performance. In a world where auteur theory is the de facto form of authorship for film, one forgets that in the ‘30s going to see a film for the director was not nearly as common as it is today.

It’s Mary Yellan (Maureen O’Hara) who should be the star of the film, a young woman who decides to move in with her aunt who runs Jamaica Inn with her husband. Mary quickly discovers that the inn is a front for a band of criminals who lure ships into the dangerous coast, murder the ship’s crew, and loot the wreckage. As she discovers this, the criminals are deciding what to do with Jem (Robert Newton), one of their own who has been taking an extra share on the side. Jem and Mary stumble into each other while evading the criminals and keep helping each other out of predicaments while trying to reach the local justice of the peace: Sir Humphrey Pengallan (Charles Laughton)

The film sizzles in the moments where this band of thieves is hunting Mary and Jem. The dialogue pops, the film’s visuals are compelling and dark, there’s a damp atmosphere, this layer of sleaze that pervades many of these scenes. Mary is thrown into the mix and sets the whole place aflame with her fiery sense of justice and keeps everyone on their toes with her ability to weasel her way out of the grip of these thieves.

For every scene or two of this thrilling, dark adventure, there’s a scene of Charles Laughton smugly exuding his dark charm. It’s compelling to watch Laughton work, but the film is continually pulled back to watching his character do almost nothing to affect the plot, making the film disjointed and unfocused. Laughton’s character could have disappeared for a good chunk of the film and reappeared in the final act.

There are still enough of moments where the film works. The quippy dialogue keeps most scenes flowing and Mary and Jem eluding the grimy grips of this fascinatingly repulsive criminals is solid suspense. It’s the grandstanding of Laughton that maligns much of the film and ruins what should be a thrilling picture into this overblown acting piece. Instead of giving to the picture, Laughton tries to become the focal point of the picture in a story where he was never meant to garner that much attention. It’s no shock that both Hitchcock and Maurier disowned the film. It’s a shame seeing the seeds of a gripping tale ruined by one actor’s ego backed by his producer friends.

As much as Hitchcock would go on to become a major Hollywood persona, he only featured himself in his films as the butt of jokes or some insignificant bystander. He also might appear before the film started to introduce his picture. But these were all in service to the film, not a desire to steal the spotlight from the holistic work of the film.

Perhaps Hitchcock’s experience with this film solidified his notion that actors should be treated like cattle. Maybe by treating them as dumb beasts he felt he could better mold them into something to contribute to the picture instead of the main attraction. Maybe by degrading the actor he meant to humble him/her into servitude instead of expecting everyone and everything to support his/her performance.

Jamaica Inn is a reminder of the politics and power plays that make up the movie business. This would be Hitchcock’s last British production before he launched his career in Hollywood. With World War II looming, it would be a fortuitous move as American cinema in the ‘40s was in the middle of Hollywood’s Golden Age while the rest of the world’s cinema went into decline. And Hitchcock would return to Maurier again. This time it would be different. This time he was in America.


Junior

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1342 on: September 11, 2017, 12:56:46 PM »
It

Stephen King is why I love horror. I was a big old wuss for the first 12 or 13 years of my life, afraid of stuff like Jumanji and The Shaggy Dog (IT'S JUST A WEREWOLF, GUYS!) until I picked up a Stephen King short story collection in my 8th grade English class and read "The Boogeyman," a story about a monster hiding in a closet and then in plain sight. And then I was hooked. I read literally every Stephen King story I could get my hands on, with It following closely on the heels of The Shining and Cujo. While I was able to follow those two books up with a viewing of the film based on them which began my obsession with horror films, It lived in my mind for a good while. I eventually caught up with the mediocre 90's TV adaptation of the gigantic book, but other than Tim Curry, there's really nothing to recommend that. This new cinematic version, then, had a chance to bring something great to the table. It could have recaptured that first burst of love for a new genre. It could have been a new favorite. It isn't, but it's still pretty darn good.

The story of It feels like something everybody knows, due in part to stuff like Stranger Things having been heavily influenced by its mix of coming-of-age anxieties and full-on horror. This is still the best version, as the menacing monster is able to take the form of whatever scares its victims plus King's deft mixing of real-world horror with the supernatural stuff. As the 7 kids that make up the Loser's Club spend their summer vacation looking for dead kids and trying to survive bullies, they discover that there's something supremely evil in the town of Derry and they're the only ones who can stop it. It's all become standard horror stuff by now as movies like Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and the aforementioned Stranger Things taking heavy cues from this book. None have quite nailed the sense that the kids are distinct entities with complicated relationships to each other and their families, nor have they matched King's impressive world-building which really sells the idea that the whole town is rotten thanks to the corrupting force that is It. This movie almost reaches the book's level, but misses in key ways that keep this from being the masterpiece it could have been.

Let's start with the good things first. The kids are all great actors and when they're given room to have some fun or do things that aren't scream in terror, they're fantastic to watch. When I re-read the book, these kids will be the faces I see in my head. Bev, the group's only girl, is probably the best of them thanks to Sophia Lillis's spectacular performance. She also gets the most characterization and there are layers to her that are revealed through her interactions with her new friends and pervy father as the film goes on. While most of the kids get a good scare in before they all reveal to each other that they're having similar experiences, Bev's is the most interesting visually and thematically. Her relationship with her father and her new friends could have been really uncomfortable and offputting in what is, after all, a fun horror film, but it's done just right here. Jack Dylan Grazer's Eddie hypochondriac Eddie and Jeremy Ray Taylor's romantic history buff are also highlights and, unsurprisingly, have the other great scares in the early goings.

Bill Skarsgård has the unenviable position of trying to play a character that already has one iconic cinematic version in Tim Curry's portrayal of Pennywise, the most common form It takes. Skarsgård nails it, though, always dancing along the line between funny and creepy. If you're worried you saw all the scares in the superb trailer for the film, fear not. There's almost always a level of escalation that wasn't shown plus plenty of other scary moments. Pennywise is a talkative baddie, and Skarsgård always manages to put an emphasis on a weird word or take a pause to up the creep factor just a bit. He goes guttural often and his loose body implies that when It looks in a mirror it doesn't see a human figure. Even though the film doesn't go quite as far as the book does into the entity's cosmic multidimensionality, Skarsgård's hints at it to add a truly scary component to the character. Director Andy Muschietti also plays some clever tricks with special effects and filming techniques to create a sense that everything is happening in a slightly shifted version of reality that has been warped by It's malevolence.

One of the biggest changes from the book is structural. While the book and the 90's TV version intercut between the kids' story and their return to Derry 27 years later, this one sticks entirely to the kids and it works really well. The conclusion is meaningful because it not only wraps up the fight between the Losers' Club and It but also serves as a conclusion to the thematic throughlines for the kids as they grow up, perhaps too early. The movie also excises the one thing everybody talks about from the book and replaces it with a gentle-but-tainted kiss. This is a definite positive. There's a lot left to be explored in the inevitable sequel (did you see how much money this thing made over the weekend? Nuts!) and the film does a pretty great job of planting those seeds without feeling like it's missing anything for not cultivating them more here. I am confident that we'll see some pretty CINECAST!ed up shit when the adults take over, and not just from a creepy clown, either.

There are, however, quite a few things that keep this from being a new horror masterpiece. Even though it's 2h 15m long, there's still not quite enough characterization for my liking. Though Bev feels like a full character, and many of the other members of the Losers' Club are fun to watch, there are 7 of them and a few just feel like warmed up leftovers from their novel versions. Wyatt Oleff's Stanley Uris is, um, Jewish and slightly more afraid than the others. Chosen Jacobs' Mike Hanlon is the black kid and joins up with the others too late to get much development. That's kind of true in the book, too, but he still spends a good amount of time with the other Losers to at least feel like part of the team. Here it feels like he's there to give them a weapon and serve as a target for a bully. There's no way that the people behind this film could have known about what would happen in Charlottesville earlier this summer, but the film unfortunately suffers from not investigating the racism it touches on a little more thoroughly. If that had gotten as much attention as Bev's sexual maturity and accompanying abuse, it might have been really powerful now. The other kid who gets the short end of the stick is Finn Wolfhard's Richie Tozier, who is just a joke machine here. His personal fear is just clowns, so he doesn't get a full scare scene and therefore he feels less personally connected. His jokes are funny, though, and I guess that's something.

The movie also misses a lot of opportunities from the book to make a greater impact on the audience. The menace that pervades the town is just kind of there, mostly. We get a few mundane creeps, usually parents of the kids, and the bullies are too underdeveloped to be a real menace. I get it, there's just too much to fit in even a pretty long horror film, and I was already complaining about the kids being a little two-dimensional for my taste, so spending more time on the rest of the town would be wasted when compared to those other missing elements. But they are missing nonetheless. Perhaps the biggest miss is the interlude chapters from the book which feature either a mundane evil or an example of It terrorizing and then consuming yet another child. Outside of the first half-hour or so, the movie features very few deaths on screen and therefore It's potency as a baddie is diminished. Here's a shapeshifting manifestation of fear who eats its victims after scaring them enough to give them the proper flavor and we get almost none of that on screen. The opening scene is so freaking scary because the kid dies at the end. The stakes are there. But the next two kids who go missing are seen only on posters around town and then one of the bullies gets killed offscreen. And that's about it. In the book kids are dying left and right, and King spends just enough time giving them some characterization before killing them off that you feel it, and then the peril that the heroes are facing becomes all the more real and dangerous. Much of that is lost in this adaptation and it's probably the greatest sin in terms of scariness.

My last complaint is that the ending, while much better than most horror films that lose steam as the monster becomes more familiar, loses a bit from the novel in the mechanics of how the Losers fight the monster. Where the book favors the use of imagination to attack the embodiment of that imagination, here the attacks are mostly physical. This is the only time I felt that the movie was holding back in a way that hurt it. To really do the ending justice, there'd have to be some pretty crazy shit in it, and I loved the glimpses we got of it, so I feel like it is a missed opportunity. It again makes the movie feel a little less special. These criticisms don't discount the immense enjoyment I got from my time with these old friends, but I'm still waiting for the amazing version. Maybe 27 years from now we'll get something spectacular. Very good'll do for now.

B+
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Bondo

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1343 on: September 11, 2017, 08:20:32 PM »
All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001)

Wow, I hated literally everything about this. Sorry pixote. Probably for the best it got delayed out of the Top 100 Club due to my vacation. The message board intertitles became annoying and it wasn't at all about Lily Chou-Chou, instead it was all about obnoxious boys.

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roujin

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1344 on: September 12, 2017, 10:57:06 AM »
Great movie.

MattDrufke

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1345 on: September 12, 2017, 11:12:38 AM »
It is over 2 hours long? Man, that does not bode well for a scaredy-cat like me.
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Teproc

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1346 on: September 12, 2017, 11:41:30 AM »
For a second I was confused as to what you were talking about. That title never ceases to deliver.
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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1347 on: September 12, 2017, 01:45:26 PM »
I had a lot of fun starting sentences with an ambiguous It in that review. I guess if I had discipline I'd itallicize the title where appropriate, but that's extra work.

Anyways, yes, It is 2hrs and 15m long. It doesn't feel overlong at all, but it does have the effect of making the scares a little less scary. Maybe that's a good thing for you!
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smirnoff

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1348 on: September 12, 2017, 11:54:51 PM »
Moneyball

There are literally films even on my own top 100 that if I put them on at midnight I'd fall asleep before they were over. I put this on at midnight and finished it easily. SO few movies could accomplish that. Even when I'm rested I don't finish half the movies I start these days. They just suck and I get bored and move on. I'd already seen this twice before. I keep coming back. It doesn't seem like that kind of movie but it is. It's just such a good story with so many good moments.

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #1349 on: September 13, 2017, 01:26:22 AM »
The Return Flight...



Their Finest (2016)
* * * - Good
If I had to guess, this seems like a film originally conceived as more broadly appealing and comedic. There are hints in the casting of Bill Nighy, Eddie Marsan and Jake Lacy and their more broad performances. (Nighy retains his status as UK National Treasure and Lacy is so effective as an American forced into the story I'd call it surprising even though he's always good.) As the story goes on, it moves away from being a UK Hidden Figures and Gemma Arterton's performance goes from feminist fun to romantic and sentimental. I'm not sure making the film more of a comedy would've been better and it's good front to back all the same, but there's a feeling of two tones rubbing gently against each other.


Colossal (2016)
* * ½
There are two tones here as well - the comedic one suggested by the trailer and the darker dissection of white male privilege - and they butt heads throughout. I hated the drifting pace, with too many song montages and scenes of people just hanging out talking about stuff. The giant monster gimmick had limited places to go, but it's not Anne Hathaway that carries the film but Jason Sudeikis, playing a particular type of character you don't get in movies, especially in such careful, specific strokes. It's close, but needed a better editor and somebody to pull the better story even more into the center.
 
- Safe for Sandy. Technically not a horror movie, but there are giant monsters and some human-sized ones too.


The Belko Experiment (2016)
* * ½
Thought experiment horror Written and Produced by James Gunn and peppered with faces familiar with his work, like Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn (who's the worst performance here.) Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley and John Gallagher Jr. star as corporate office workers forced to kill their co-workers to survive. Unfortunately, director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek) doesn't understand the comedy of a Gunn script so what's supposed to be gleefully out of control ends up overly-greusome and dark. If you're a fan of Guardians, then you'd do better checking out Slither, which also benefits from Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks and (of course) Michael Rooker

- More violent than it needed to be


Life (2017)
* * ½
Derided as an Alien-ripoff, but all I could think was how much of the style was copied from Gravity. Either way, there's nothing new here, but it's not bad either. I was expecting something a lot dumber. Good cast bring a lot.

- Slightly Scary


The Mummy (2017)
* * ½
Again, not as bad as I was expecting. It's certainly watchable, though everything but the Art Direction seems a little off, including Tom Cruise's performance, which has never been so blatantly Errol Flynn. I don't expect this will get re-evaluated like Live Die Repeat and the whole Dark Universe angle just put a bad taste in my mouth. Scrap all that and focus more on giving me a good Mummy movie.

- Slightly Creepy


Ghost in the Shell (2017)
* ½
I started this on the flight out. Finished it on the flight back. Fell asleep both ways. I'm not sure the people who dumped money into this knew what they wanted to do. Takeshi Kitano is just there for the paycheck.
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