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A few reviews
(02-27-2019, 10:29 PM)bionicbob Wrote: LIFE AFTER FLASH (2019)

To this very day, 1980's Flash Gordon starring Sam J. Jones is one of my favourite all time movies.  It's blend of camp, earnestness, over the top comic book production design and, of course, magnificent score by Queen, makes it my go to movie when I am feeling down.

Thus, seeing this documentary pop up On-Demand understandably piqued my curiosity and I must say I found myself happily rewarded.  The doc is partly a behind the scenes making of the original movie and the impact it had on its fans, tied together my Sam J. Jones up and down and up again journey through Hollywood.  

I was struck my Jones honesty about the mistakes and bad choices he made through his life.  Also, the hard upbringing and tragedy that struck his life early on was revelatory and sad.  But there is an inspirational element to story, as he changed direction in his life at the age of 50, become a professional security bodyguard and refocused his priorities towards his family.  In fact, the interview portions with his grown children are wonderful.

Most of the original movie cast and production team are interviewed and all provide new insights.  Brian Blessed in particular is a delight.  His love for the original movie and the Flash Gordon comic strip is infectious!

I went in expecting a retrospective style documentary but what I got was so much more.  The doc left me smiling and feeling inspired.  

A must watch for any fans of the original movie!

Two Thumbs WAY, WAY UP!!!!   Big Grin

^ Ooh, that sounds good. Which streaming service is it on?

The Wife (2018)
After seeing 2014's pretentious 'Listen Up Philip', I was put-off by this being another film starring Jonathan Pryce as a celebrated yet insecure author. The film-making here is very bland but the subtle power of the interplay between the husband and wife more than made up for that (Directing style might've just got in the way?). Hardly any of the tension is in the words, it's all in what they really mean behind the eyes. I might be naive but I was unconvinced by the main premise that sexism within the 1960s US publishing industry was so overwhelming that a female author (the greatest in the world) would easily accept that her work had no hope of publication. Harper Lee won a Pulitzer in 1960 and so had loads of other women by that point. Although even if I didn't buy it, Glenn Close made me believe that her character did.

(02-28-2019, 02:18 PM)TM2YC Wrote: ^ Ooh, that sounds good. Which streaming service is it on?

It was just part of my local cable On Demand service.

I watched parts of it again this morning... if I had one wish, that the documentary had dug a bit deeper.  A lot of events are skimmed over, which could have been explored in greater detail.  

Still a very fun watch as a fan.  Big Grin
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
The Big Short (2015)

I was pretty enamored with this film when it came out. Watching it now, there's a lot to enjoy: some great performances, some interesting performances, some weird performances. The humor is pretty well done (for the most part). The storytelling is clever at times but often not as clever as it thinks it is. The direction is distinct but this time around felt a little more stylish without reason. The editing is really good when there are jokes, the rest of the film is a mixed bag. There's a lot of interesting things going on with the editing and the camera but this time around it didn't feel like it added up to something with a vision, message and purpose. I mean, obviously this film is criticizing douchebags who deserve it and explaining the housing crisis (in a simplified form but it's a movie so I get it) but beyond that I didn't take too much away from it. Perhaps my disappointment with Vice colored this negatively, not sure. Either way, worth watching.
Maniac (2018)

This was pretty disappointing overall. Cary Joji Fukanaga directs with his typical panache. The visual storytelling is the strongest part of the series. Where I have big problems is with the writing and the acting. These two stars are both great actors. Well, okay Hill is pretty good and Stone is fantastic. But I just did not connect with what they were doing here. I understand why they played it in the disconnected, detached way that they did. But just because it works thematically doesn't mean it's enjoyable to watch. Once we got into the mind-bending part of the series, it was really intriguing. However, the whole rest of the show just became that. And it turned from being really cool and interesting to me being bored wishing they'd wake up and figure out what was going on in the real world. I was bored and done after 6 episodes but I'm a completist. So I watched 7 but fell asleep during the last episode and have no desire to finish. So much talent involved, this was a real letdown.

Edited to add that Justin Theroux rules and is definitely the most fun and interesting thing going on in the show, for me.
After viewing (and appreciating) two of his films the other week I decided to have a mini Peter Watkins-athon:

The Diary of an Unknown Soldier (1959)
Short film where Director Peter Watkins reads out extracts from a traumatized WWI soldier's diary (as if it was being spoken into some sort of period field sound recorder) over Documentary-like recreations of what is being described. The use of 16-fps gives the footage real authenticity and the overall effect is not dissimilar to that of Peter Jackson's recent 'They Shall Not Grow Old'.

Forgotten Faces (1961)
Another short about war in the style of a News-Documentary, this time recreating the then very recent events of the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union in 1956. The footage looks so convincing and brutal that there were fears it would erode trust in genuine news reels.

Privilege (1967)
A "behind the scenes" film about a fictional 60s Rock/Pop star called Steven Shorter (SS) who is the tool of a near-future fascistic British establishment. His function is to channel the rebellious anger and energy of the youth toward his fiery music and away from any genuine outward rebellion. Steven (played by Manfred Mann front-man Paul Jones) is depressed and losing his mind, passively watching the insanity around him with a physical disgust. The scene where he is forced to appear in an advert for the "Apple marketing board" is wonderfully surreal, yet somehow believable.

Punishment Park (1971)
The best of the four IMO. Richard Nixon declares a 'state of emergency' and brings the real-life 'McCarran Internal Security Act' into effect to allow him to suppress radical activists, left-wing journalists and protest singers.  We are presented with Documentary-style footage by a team of international journalists, invited to observe the new US "Punishment Park" penal system (a bit like 'The Hunger Games'). Peter Watkins inter-cuts corrupt tribunals where the accused vainly but forcefully argue their case, with detainees marching across blistering California desert with militias in pursuit. The film ends with the off-screen voice of the Director (played by Watkins himself) unable to maintain his objectivity and screaming at the barbarity of the soldiers. Wildly unpopular, inflammatory and controversial, it was originally refused distribution in the US.  Now 'Punishment Park' feels so ahead of it's time and current.

Score: A Film Music Documentary (2016)
A Documentary about the process of creating traditional Hollywood orchestral film music. I think Ennio Morricone is the only composer of foreign films mentioned (very briefly) and the existence of synthesizer scores is only acknowledged in a token line or too. That's fair enough but it would have been less distracting to just say that's what the film was focusing on up front. Even so, this is still a very pleasurable way to spend time with so many talented film composers (more than 60) and hear their own unique perspectives on the art form.

The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Guillermo del Toro's 3rd film is a ghost story set in a remote orphanage during the Spanish Civil War. It's more grounded and earthy than his other films but it's probably closest to his later 'Crimson Peak' in tone and subject. There were many moments of wincing violence that made me jump and the idea of foetus-flavoured rum was something that really creeped me out. The film is full of Christian symbolism, baptism, stigmata, resurrection, as well as being a metaphor for the war.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
Russ Meyer makes late-60s Los Angeles look like one long groovy soft-core freak party but with a post-Manson violent streak. I wouldn't be surprised if a young Quentin Tarantino ground up VHS tapes of this movie and smoked them, so this might make a great primer for Tarantino's forthcoming film 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' which is set in the same time and place. 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' is so bad it's brilliant, so trashy it's high-art and so cheesy it's ice-cool. A rare script from film-critic Roger Ebert is packed with memorable and quotable lines like...

[Image: a49067e6779ee580e2193978b13c01bf.gif]

...and it's not every movie that has a character scream:

"Ere this night does wane, you will drink the black sperm of my vengeance!"

^ This teaser trailer is amazing Big Grin.
Leaving Neverland (2019)
A 3-4-hour Channel 4/HBO Documentary presenting the testimony of two men claiming they were abused by Michael Jackson as children. While nobody disputes that Jackson slept in the same bed as these two boys over several years and brought them along in his touring entourage, no hard evidence exists that it went further than that. The film just lets the two men (both now figures in the entertainment industry) unpack their feelings to camera and also interviews their immediate family members. It's up to the viewer to believe them, or not but for myself, I was left in absolutely no doubt that they were speaking the truth. I just can't believe that all the people interviewed would be able to make up this much pain and life-destroying shame. They'd all have to be the greatest actors in the history of the world.

If in the recent #metoo past you've probably heard/read people make comments like "Why now? Seems suspicious?", or "Why would they wait all these years to make these allegations?", or "Why would the accuser wait until they are dead?", or "Why did they wait until the statute of limitations had expired?" then this film will explain in abundance the soul-crushing reasons why victims of abuse would be driven to do exactly that. Apparently the estate of Jackson are currently suing the Documentary makers for $100m, not because of the allegations but based on an obscure non-defamation contract clause relating to an old MJ concert film which they also produced. I leave it up to you to decide if the timing of the lawsuit is purely coincidental, or for intimidation purposes.

There is also a really disturbing coda showing the sickening vitriol directed at the victims from people on the internet. It's scary how disconnected the internet can make people feel from the pain of their fellow human beings. Luckily I don't own any Michael Jackson music (unless that old cassette tape I had of 'Dangerous' is still in a box in the garage somewhere?) so I don't have to ponder whether to burn it or not.

^ This youtube trailer has been down-voted and the comments section is predictably filled with angry people defending Jackson, or more accurately attacking his two victims.
Mimic (1997)
'Mimic' is pretty damn good for a 90s early-CGI Horror which had a troubled production due to the notorious Weinstein Brothers having final-cut and interfering with Guillermo del Toro's vision to the point of going on set to tell him how to direct! Del Toro is quoted as saying "It was a horrible, horrible, horrible experience" and James Cameron alleges he nearly hit Harvey Weinstein with his 'Titantic' Oscar in response. The first two acts are terrific but things start to get more like a cliched haunted-house Horror towards the end. A full look at the creature is wisely withheld until an hour in, leaving our disgusted imagination to guess the creature's size and shape from little glimpses. NYC Public-health officials being portrayed as if they are tough street cops was a little odd but I'd maybe put that down this being a Mexican Director's first US film? Whatever compromises he was forced to make, Del Toro's eye for Gothic Cinematography is in full effect in every shot. Also the cast is filled with top rank acting talent.

(I watched Del Toro's longer "Director's Cut")

The Seven Minutes (1971)
This rare example of Sexploitation Director Russ Meyer trying to make a "normal" movie seems to have a very bad rap critically but I love a feisty court-room drama and the obscenity trial at the center of this film has that in spades... lots of angry lawyers shouting "Objection!". The film isn't about whether the titular book is obscene (because almost all the characters privately admit it is not), it's more about the hypocritical motives of the politicians trying to ban it and the defense lawyer's almost heroic determination to defeat them. With politicians today still finding it easy to blame their own messes on video-games and music, 'The Seven Minutes' is a surprisingly relevant film.

i watched The Godfather Part III the other day, and while not nearly as good as the other two, i still managed to enjoy watching it quite a bit. Michael's character and how he deals with his past in relation to the present, alongside a good performance by Pacino was by far the best aspect of the movie. the story was very interesting but i didn't like how the plot moved it forward, i thought Coppola tried to handle it in a similar way in which he handled Part II's story, but he ended up making it too convoluted and confusing at times. and oh boy i sure didn't like the younger leads' performances. particularly sofia coppola's performance, what the heck was that. still, this movie has probably been beaten to death already. it's not a bad movie by any means, i'd still give it a 7/10 or something, but when you compare this to its predecessors, it really falls short.

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