Author Topic: Respond to the last movie you watched  (Read 530369 times)

Bondo

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3300 on: March 05, 2019, 06:43:57 PM »
Prosecuting Evil (2019)

This documentary comes at an important moment in American politics. Essentially since she was sworn into office, Ilhan Omar has been facing what I'd argue are bad faith attacks of anti-semitism for vocal critique of Israel's human rights failings as it relates to Palestine. She was also a forceful questioner of Elliott Abrams regarding American policy toward Latin America both historically and today, which drew further criticism of antisemitism, because Abrams is Jewish.

This documentary focuses on Ben Ferencz, a Jewish man whose family escaped Europe in time to avoid the Holocaust, who went back to Europe first to fight the Nazis and then to prosecute them at the Nuremberg Trials. Continuing his advocacy of human rights to this day, he was fundamental to the creation of the International Criminal Court (of which the US is not a member) and serves as a judge on that court. The ironic realization in watching the film is that the area of international criminal law started with the Holocaust, where Jews were the primary victim, but as Rep. Omar has experienced, pushing for human rights and upholding international law is now considered anti-Jewish. I think that says a lot more about the Likud Party and its allies in America (mostly Christian) than it does Rep. Omar. Omar is a consistent critic of human rights abuses, not just Israel's violations against Palestinians (with American backing) but Saudi Arabia's violations in Yemen (with American backing until just recently) and is concerned about the abuses that might come from an American backed civil war in Venezuela. Coming from Somalia, she knows personally the toll that this form of violence can take.

Though thought-provoking in these ways, I should note that the documentary is formally staid. It is biographic more than topical, so it spends a lot of time on the Nuremberg and then largely skips to the ICC at the dawn of the 21st Century. It is just cursory in addressing the subsequent history in the area other than to note that "Never Again" has been far from the truth. In addition to thinking about this specific moment in politics, it does beg the broader question about American politics regarding our failure to join the ICC and hold ourselves to that higher standard of conduct. It is pretty hard to argue that Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, along with some cabinet secretaries and generals, would likely have something to answer for in our conduct in the "War on Terror." While I'm not sure I truly believe Obama belongs in prison, the more important point is if that was a real risk, our leaders would conduct our foreign policy more humanely. That's the whole point of the ICC. It certainly seems a saner approach to good behavior than mutually assured destruction.

Ultimately, Ferencz's message is that we should aspire to use law, not war, to settle our differences. I certainly think we made a critical error when we moved from treating terrorism as a criminal issue in the 90s to a military issue post-9/11. And in another respect we made a critical error responding to drug issues as criminal issues (with plenty of military reverberations outside the US) instead of medical issues. This may not be a great documentary but it is an important one to remind us that we need to support those voices standing up for humanity instead of those that only respect brute power.

The Levelling

Also watched this little British film about a dairy farm that is struck by a tragic suicide and issues that come up in the aftermath. I responded very well to it in the moment as there are some very stirring emotional moments, but I do think it probably doesn't quite have enough there. It does dramatize effectively the impact of economic strain on already tense family dynamics.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2019, 06:48:03 PM by Bondo »

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3301 on: March 05, 2019, 08:16:08 PM »
In the Heat of the Night (1967)

In the Heat of the Night is touted as a groundbreaking films about race. However, it places blackness in the place of otherness and placates the white audiences by being far more concerned with demonstrating how one white man is able to overcome his prejudice and be not that bad of a guy instead of truly confronting the ugliness of racism in America and how it affects black people.

Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) is the wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time. His train stop in the small town of Sparta, Mississippi coincides with the murder of a rich white man. But when Virgil is brought in to police chief Gillespie (Rod Steiger), he drops a bomb that he is a homicide detective in Philadelphia. After a series of events, Gillespie reluctantly works alongside the more capable Virgil to solve the murder.

And here-in comes the first great lie of the film: Virgil helping the police in a town that hates him. Virgil knows the town is trouble and that he risks his life as an affluent black man every moment he stays there, but through the worst scene in the film, a white man appeals to the black manís desire to make the white man look foolish.

Virgil comes off as the greater fool for risking his life for a case outside his jurisdiction and involving people he has no connection to whatsoever. This is not Philadelphia, but the deep south in an area of racial upheaval. Mr. Tibbs risks his life to prove a point, which does not sound like the kind of thing a smart black man would do.

The film tries to build up a friendship between Virgil and Gillespie, but it misses the core difference between the two characters. The black man must risk his very life in order to uphold the law in a town where almost every white man would rather see him dead. The white man only risks being unpopular. Thatís hardly equal footing and as much as the film tries to put the two on common ground. Gillespie has no real interest in even beginning to understand what Virgil experiences on a daily basis.

By the end of it all, the film has made Gillespie out to be not that bad of a guy after all. Heís now more open-minded and has evolved as a character, but without any true risk. He already claims the town hates him and at no point is his life in any true peril and yet somehow the film wants to make him out to be somehow admirable by the end of the picture.

Meanwhile, Virgil is the same man he was when he stepped off the train. Heís taken all kinds of risks, stuck his neck out countless times, and gained nothing. The black man takes all the risks while the white man does all the growing, which is both bad storytelling and a horrible way to try to bridge racial divides.

Yes, Virgil may get away with slapping a white man. Yes, he may run mental circles around the dumb white racists charactures of Sparta, Mississippi, but heís still the other, the figure who does not belong, the one who must be shuffled off back onto the train because the American South is not ready for an educated, affluent black man. At least the film got that much right, but thereís little else it grasps about the complex issues of race.
"It's all research." -roujin

Corndog

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3302 on: March 06, 2019, 01:58:19 PM »
Captain Marvel (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, 2019)

Much has been made of this film being the first Marvel film in their Cinematic Universe to feature a woman in the leading role. There was praise for it being such, and then internet backlash from #MadOnline fanboys who seems to ruin everything for everyone. These types are often the vocal minority, and I expect this Marvel monster to still do quite well at the box office and fit nicely into the greater story being told by Marvel and producer Kevin Feige, who has masterfully crafted this interconnected universe. But what a great opportunity for Marvel and specifically Brie Larson to bring this type of story to the world where little girls can look up and see a female superhero. It likely wonít have the same cultural impact as Black Panther did last year, but itís not an insignificant entry into the MCU.

The Kree civilization is threatened by the movements of the nomad Skrull civilization, which prompts a mission from Kree soldiers, led by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and featuring Vers (Brie Larson) on her first ever mission. When things go south, Vers ends up on 1990s Earth where she begins searching for the mysterious Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D agent Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). As they race against the Skrull (Ben Mendelsohn), and await the help of Yon-Rogg and the other Kree, Vers begins to unravel her forgotten past which includes a life as a pilot where she knew Dr. Lawson, was best friends with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and was known as Carol Danvers.

Captain Marvel is not the cinematic achievement or event that Black Panther was a year ago, but that is a high bar to cross. It is however a very good film with a lot going for it, even if it also has its flaws. Casting Brie Larson, and actress I absolutely adore, was the perfect choice. Her talents were starving for a chance at a mainstream, blockbuster type role to boost her to stardom. Her performance in Room may have netted her an Oscar win, but she deserves to be mentioned in the conversation with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence when it comes to great young actresses. She performs admirably here and really feels at home in the role. She is given few chances to really shine with the prefabricated script doing most of the work, but her energy matches pretty perfectly with what is at the heart of Captain Marvel the character.

Where I felt the film went wrong a little bit was just how much the filmmakers felt they needed to wink at the audience, whether it was with the patented Marvel-brand humor which felt much more delivered and less natural this time out than usual, though often not any less funny, or it was the forced 90s cultural references which had the fanboy nerd beside me awkwardly applauding each time something he recognized from the past came on screen. Thatís what Marvel was hoping to accomplish, I assume, but it felt a little shoe-horned in and again, not naturally delivered. Having the film set in the past was another minor annoyance, which made the film feel like the studio was playing catch-up in time for Captain Marvel to come in and save the day in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, which is honestly fine. I am sure Feige and Marvel have had this all planned out for quite a while.

Overall, I was impressed with the general ambition of the film, as it deviated a lot from the standard Marvel formula with how it played with Carolís memories and the timeline of the film. Otherwise, the formula remained much the same. Lashana Lynch was a pleasant surprise as well. Largely a newcomer, she quickly impressed me with her performance. As for the female empowerment aspect of the film, it worked, really well. At times it felt like the filmmakers were cramming it down our throat a little bit, but itís about damn time we see a film that shows a strong, female lead who is independent, powerful and doesnít need the help or approval of any men in her life. This is pulled off really well. I will certainly recommend this to any and all Marvel films and any parents who want to introduce their daughters to a positive role model. It wonít set the world on fire with its artistic and creative achievement, but itís an important entry into the MCU, and sets up next monthís Avengers: Endgame quite well.

★★★ - Liked It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

smirnoff

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3303 on: March 06, 2019, 05:06:06 PM »
Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)         9/10

I started watching the first film, but I wasn't really taken with it like I was that first time I saw it. Maybe I wasn't in the mood. Maybe it's that spontaneous connection feels like such a movie thing in the age of dating apps. Probably I just didn't enjoy the conversation anymore. I stopped watching after an hour or so.

This film continues to be watchable though. I enjoy seeing them reconnect and navigate the awkwardness and the frustration. It feels like there's more at stake this time. It's a more reflective film.


Last Chance Harvey (Joel Hopkins, 2008)         6/10

Last Chance Harvey is a bit of an awkward film, but that's kind of what it's going for. It's quiet and an easy watch. I've seen it a few times. :)

Oof. These characters keep taking it on the chin. Dustin Hoffman is like Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, except he's 60-something. Grinding away at a commercial gig that pays the bills but isn't fulfilling his musical passion. He's lonely, and in a rut, and doesn't feel like he has a role to play in his family anymore.

Emma Thompson is in her own rut. To be honest though, her rut feels like less of her own making, and more like a contrivance of the film. The film struggles to sell the idea that someone who has as much personality as her, who is as attractive as her, could possibly have this much trouble dating. For no particular reason that I could decipher she would continually experience a kind of social invisibility. Where Hoffman is kind of grumpy, and dishevelled, and embarrassed of his job, Thompson is upbeat, has fulfilling hobbies, has friends, and seems happy with her work. Hoffman's troubles make sense. Thompson seems like at worst, she's just having a bit of a bad month. I guess I have a problem with it because it felt like the film was trying to put the two of them on equal footing, but I was like "Emma, you can do so much better!" :))

Ah, I guess Hoffman has a good heart. His speech at the reception was well done and a good moment for the character. I'm just not sure I feel like he's changed and that this relationship isn't ultimately doomed after his charm wears off... and doomed for the same reasons that his first marriage fell apart. That's kind of speculative since we don't really get into why his first marriage ended, but that's what I walked away thinking. And that feeling was contrary to what I thought the film wanted me to feel, so I'm kind of mixed on the whole experience.

It was easy enough to sit through though. Maybe I'm over or under thinking it. :)


The Onion Field (Harold Becker, 1979)         5/10

The Onion Field has a great brooding Ted Danson performance, a fun out-of-control James Woods performance, and a brutal John Savage moment about two-thirds of the way through, plus the screenplay feels like it was written by someone who hadn't written a film before (the author of the book wrote it) and wasn't told how it's supposed to go, but in a way that I think works well.

Yea, I would agree that the screenplay is unusual. It doesn't seem to have any of the rhythm of a conventional story. It just kind of moves along at a steady pace, which is sometimes way to slow, and sometimes to fast, and sometimes just right.

The movie feels super long overall. It is a little over two hours but feels like three, and because of that unwavering pace you really have no sense of when it's finally going to be done telling the story. Is the arrest the climax? No, the film is still going. Is the verdict a climax? No, I guess there's more to cover. It goes on like that. I think the most interesting part of the movie was the last quarter, but I had already checked out at that point and wanted to turn it off. That was frustrating... I was like "what NOW it's going to turn into a good movie?" :))

It wasn't until the end of the film that they finally sold me on the idea Franklyn Seales character would actually follow James Woods. That was something I didn't understand early on... why anyone would give that wacko the time of day. It's not until they were already in prison that I saw the vulnerability in Seales character that explained it.

Weird case. Weird film. But I don't regret watching it.

Thief

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3304 on: March 06, 2019, 05:47:54 PM »
Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)         9/10

I started watching the first film, but I wasn't really taken with it like I was that first time I saw it. Maybe I wasn't in the mood. Maybe it's that spontaneous connection feels like such a movie thing in the age of dating apps. Probably I just didn't enjoy the conversation anymore. I stopped watching after an hour or so.

This film continues to be watchable though. I enjoy seeing them reconnect and navigate the awkwardness and the frustration. It feels like there's more at stake this time. It's a more reflective film.


I think that was Linklater's goal, with each film reflecting on their respetive age and feelings and dreams, thus the first one appropriately feels like the fantasy of any teenager/20-something: to travel, meet someone, make a magical connection, and all that romance.

Fast forward a decade, and the second one appropriately adds the stakes you mention, which probably goes along with what Linklater and most late-30s/40s people feel. The frustrations, the regrets, the "shoulda/woulda/coulda" feeling.

That's one of the reasons I love both films. I still haven't seen the third one, but having seen Before Sunset last year, I would prefer to space them out a bit.

smirnoff

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3305 on: March 06, 2019, 10:24:47 PM »
The Last Castle (Rod Lurie, 2001)         5/10

Ultimately, too cheesy to really get much satisfaction from. I liked it as a somewhat fresh take on a prison film. I liked Redford's performance. But all the victories felt too easy. How quickly the men rally behind him. How easily he anticipates the Warden's moves. And it's so long! Pretty formulaic execution when you get past the concept. Bleh.

MartinTeller

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3306 on: March 06, 2019, 10:27:41 PM »
Sorry I misjudged your tastes. I haven't seen it for like about 17 years, though.

smirnoff

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3307 on: March 06, 2019, 10:33:19 PM »
Eh, I misjudge my own taste sometimes. :)) This has always been on my radar, so it was gunna happen sooner or later.

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3308 on: March 07, 2019, 09:21:30 PM »
Last Chance Harvey (Joel Hopkins, 2008)         6/10

Last Chance Harvey is a bit of an awkward film, but that's kind of what it's going for. It's quiet and an easy watch. I've seen it a few times. :)

Oof. These characters keep taking it on the chin. Dustin Hoffman is like Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, except he's 60-something. Grinding away at a commercial gig that pays the bills but isn't fulfilling his musical passion. He's lonely, and in a rut, and doesn't feel like he has a role to play in his family anymore.

Emma Thompson is in her own rut. To be honest though, her rut feels like less of her own making, and more like a contrivance of the film. The film struggles to sell the idea that someone who has as much personality as her, who is as attractive as her, could possibly have this much trouble dating. For no particular reason that I could decipher she would continually experience a kind of social invisibility. Where Hoffman is kind of grumpy, and dishevelled, and embarrassed of his job, Thompson is upbeat, has fulfilling hobbies, has friends, and seems happy with her work. Hoffman's troubles make sense. Thompson seems like at worst, she's just having a bit of a bad month. I guess I have a problem with it because it felt like the film was trying to put the two of them on equal footing, but I was like "Emma, you can do so much better!" :))

:))  I know! Right?!

Quote
Ah, I guess Hoffman has a good heart. His speech at the reception was well done and a good moment for the character. I'm just not sure I feel like he's changed and that this relationship isn't ultimately doomed after his charm wears off... and doomed for the same reasons that his first marriage fell apart. That's kind of speculative since we don't really get into why his first marriage ended, but that's what I walked away thinking. And that feeling was contrary to what I thought the film wanted me to feel, so I'm kind of mixed on the whole experience.

It was easy enough to sit through though. Maybe I'm over or under thinking it. :)

Women of a certain age tend to have difficulty dating in general, or so I hear.  :)  Maybe because of this long held belief, the writers felt like Emma Thompson's story was all too plausible.

I couldn't help thinking of The Graduate, when you said, "I'm just not sure I feel like he's changed and that this relationship isn't ultimately doomed after his charm wears off... and doomed for the same reasons that his first marriage fell apart."  And then I envision Harvey and Kate sitting in the back of the bus, looking at each other and saying with their eyes, "Now what?"

But! As the title suggests! He better put on his A game, 'cause it's not going to get better than this. :)

Wish it were a better film.

philip918

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #3309 on: March 08, 2019, 12:37:13 PM »
Captain Marvel (2019)

Despite some serious shortcomings still one of the better entries in the MCU. First, it starts with a Marvel logo intro that was incredibly well done, super touching, and right off the bat elicited a huge cheer from the audience.

The film's biggest strength is an excellent supporting cast. Jackson's performance lives up to the incredible de-aging process. He's lively and energized and has a great rapport with Brie Larson. Lashana Lynch comes in and in just a couple scenes helps get to the emotional core of the movie. And then there's Ben Mendelsohn who is fantastic as always, bringing menace and unexpected humor to his role. The star at the center of this system is dimmer than I'd hoped. Not through any fault of Larson's. She's got a cocky sense of humor and is fiercely determined, but that's kind of all the film asks her to do.

The film's biggest weakness is in the story itself. It glosses over or leaves out some crucial bits that would help make Carol Danvers journey feel hard-won and even more cathartic. The movie is so brisk and the character interactions are largely so fun that, at the very least, it's easy to just go for the ride. But especially after Into the Spider-Verse created one of the all-time great becoming-a-superhero moments, it feels like a lot of potential was left on the table here. I did really love the "only human" montage, which was prominent in the trailers. I wish there was more of that idea integrated into the story along the way.

The action, by and large, is not good. Especially the climactic fight, which is as messy as any I've seen.

The 90's references are incessant, but even when I thought they'd finally pushed the gags too far there's a CD-Rom joke that is played so well I couldn't help but crack up. There is a lot of connecting the dots to other MCU films, that feels very superfluous and rote. The inclusion of Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy was especially lame, but given a surprising amount of importance.

The film does also get credit for me hearing my first real-life nerdgasm, because I'm pretty sure the guy behind me needed new underwear after his reaction to the mid-credit sequence.