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A few reviews
(02-15-2019, 11:40 PM)thecuddlyninja Wrote: You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Spellbinding lead performance and some interesting thoughts on PTSD. However, the narrative (or lack thereof) was too obtuse for me to fully engage emotionally. There are parts that will stay with me but I found watching it that I was vacillating between intellectually trying to figure out what was going on/what it means and viscerally reacting to certain moments. I did come up with what I think happened 


Joe was molested by his mother and his whole job is a fabrication so that he can feel like he's saving abused kids. He kills his mother and that's why the plot goes off the rails with wild conspiracy after. There's not a lot in the text but I think what little there is supports this. That's why in his job he has a good father figure, and I think the main girl represents how Joe viewed his mother when he was a it's. I was working this out when the director literally had a quick shot showing Joe's mother at the governor's house. I guess if the rest is right then he really kills himself in the diner and the rest of the ending is the conclusion of his suppressed fantasy.

Anyway, it's definitely interesting and worth a watch but not for everybody. I've heard a lot of praise for this film but for me this didn't come close to the heights of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin.'

^ I'll be watching that soon.

At Eternity's Gate (2018)
Initially I found the deliberate create decision to shake the camera all over the place in a manner that suggest the filmmakers were blind drunk and to have no real narrative structure was very off putting. However, Willem Dafoe's spectacular performance as Vincent Van Gogh and the depth of the exploration of the man's creative talents and personal demons is so strong that I was still totally absorbed. The mixture of pain and joy in Dafoe's wrinkled face is overwhelming. Oscar Isaac also does fine work as Paul Gauguin.



The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)
"The once and future king" rises again in modern Britain to save a land that is "broken and leaderless" Big Grin . Definitely a kid's adventure in the oldskool Spielberg/Goonies type mould, updated for Harry Potter fans. The synth score was terrific blending in epic Orchestral, Prog and English folk flavours. Worth seeing just for the gorgeous prologue which is like the illustrations from old children's story books in motion. Angus Imrie is so charming and funny as Merlin that I can't believe it's his first film, I predict a strong future for this actor!  I think kids will love this film.

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Two Evil Eyes (1990)
The work of Dario Argento and George A. Romero is generally considered to have dramatically declined in quality after the 80s (although I'm not in a position to confirm that claim), so this Edgar Allan Poe anthology Horror is perhaps the last hurrah for both Directors. Romero's half is slow to get going but when the supernatural creepiness and gore FX kick in it gets good in a Twilight Zone-ish way. The terrible 1980s hair styles and clothes are more shocking than the story Wink .

Argento's half once again features an animal, this time a hissing, growling, angry black cat. It takes an instant dislike (with good reason) to Harvey Keitel's alcoholic crime scene photographer, after his girlfriend adopts it. Argento is clearly having lots of wicked fun, bricking a body up with a shelving unit full of classic Hollywood movies and working in a sly allusion to Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' by having a familiar actor survive this particular house of horrors. The two halves are not connected narratively but they are both about horrible people being driven mad by their own guilt and and punished by dark forces from beyond the grave. I personally preferred Argento's story because he starts it at an 11 and then keeps turning up all the dials.

NSFW trailer:

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Under the Wire (2018)
BBC Documentary told through intense interviews to camera by photographer Paul Conroy recalling his and Sunday Times war-correspondent Marie Colvin's final 2012 assignment into the besieged hellscape of the Syrian city of Homs. The story is of course moving and shocking but I didn't think the film-making did it full justice. A lack of real footage has them relying heavily on recreations but they do them too well, so you don't know what you can trust. It will be interesting to see how the new Rosamund Pike film 'A Private War' handles these same events.



Top Secret! (1984)
Not only had I never seen this Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker spy-movie Spoof, I didn't even know it existed until Red Letter Media reviewed it last week. What 'Top Secret!' lacks in rapidity of gags (compared to 'Airplane!') it makes up for in a ton of genius visual gags around filmmaking techniques and cinematic tropes. I appreciated the incredible amount technical artifice and skill that went into making jokes that are this delightfully stupid. I imagine it improves on repeat viewing as I found there was an excess of plot getting in the way of me concentrating fully on the nonsense going on around the story.

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(02-19-2019, 02:34 PM)TM2YC Wrote: I imagine it improves on repeat viewing as I found there was an excess of plot getting in the way of me concentrating fully on the nonsense going on around the story.

I saw the movie once years ago and had the same thought. There was a lot to like, but it took a while to wrap one's head around the whole WW2 caper/1950s Elvis protagonist/Cold War vibes pastiche. Counterpoint, however: that Lucy Gutteridge... yow! Tongue 

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You Were Never Really Here (2018)
Lynne Ramsay doesn't write/direct films very often but when she does it's worth the wait. Joaquin Phoenix plays a traumatized and suicidal hit-man, hired to rescue a Senator's daughter. Kinda like an art-house 'Taken' but instead of glamorous action, Ramsey is focused solely on the psychological cost and aftermath of the violence, internal mental pain and the grim realities of this type of story. Jonny Greenwood's unsettling score and the pace of the editing (only 90 minutes) keeps you on the edge of your seat. Between the brutal hammer blows, there are many moments of unexpected tenderness.



A sample of the Greenwood's score. It's scary even without the film:



(02-15-2019, 11:40 PM)thecuddlyninja Wrote: You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Spellbinding lead performance and some interesting thoughts on PTSD. However, the narrative (or lack thereof) was too obtuse for me to fully engage emotionally. There are parts that will stay with me but I found watching it that I was vacillating between intellectually trying to figure out what was going on/what it means and viscerally reacting to certain moments. I did come up with what I think happened 


Joe was molested by his mother and his whole job is a fabrication so that he can feel like he's saving abused kids. He kills his mother and that's why the plot goes off the rails with wild conspiracy after. There's not a lot in the text but I think what little there is supports this. That's why in his job he has a good father figure, and I think the main girl represents how Joe viewed his mother when he was a it's. I was working this out when the director literally had a quick shot showing Joe's mother at the governor's house. I guess if the rest is right then he really kills himself in the diner and the rest of the ending is the conclusion of his suppressed fantasy.

Anyway, it's definitely interesting and worth a watch but not for everybody. I've heard a lot of praise for this film but for me this didn't come close to the heights of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin.'

^ I didn't get that interpretation at all. I'm not saying it isn't there but you make me curious to re-watch it again with that set of goggles on.

I was reading this article which analyzes it from a "search for meaning" angle.

Now I think about it, I remember there was a shot early in the film where I thought Joe disappeared for a fraction of second, between passing cars. Maybe I imagined it but I should rewind and take a look. EDIT: I checked and he does. Cool.
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(02-20-2019, 06:00 PM)TM2YC Wrote: You Were Never Really Here (2018)
Lynne Ramsay doesn't write/direct films very often but when she does it's worth the wait. Joaquin Phoenix plays a traumatized and suicidal hit-man, hired to rescue a Senator's daughter. Kinda like an art-house 'Taken' but instead of glamorous action, Ramsey is focused solely on the psychological cost and aftermath of the violence, internal mental pain and the grim realities of this type of story. Jonny Greenwood's unsettling score and the pace of the editing (only 90 minutes) keeps you on the edge of your seat. Between the brutal hammer blows, there are many moments of unexpected tenderness.

(02-15-2019, 11:40 PM)thecuddlyninja Wrote:

Joe was molested by his mother and his whole job is a fabrication so that he can feel like he's saving abused kids. He kills his mother and that's why the plot goes off the rails with wild conspiracy after. There's not a lot in the text but I think what little there is supports this. That's why in his job he has a good father figure, and I think the main girl represents how Joe viewed his mother when he was a it's. I was working this out when the director literally had a quick shot showing Joe's mother at the governor's house. I guess if the rest is right then he really kills himself in the diner and the rest of the ending is the conclusion of his suppressed fantasy.

Anyway, it's definitely interesting and worth a watch but not for everybody. I've heard a lot of praise for this film but for me this didn't come close to the heights of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin.'

^ I didn't get that interpretation at all. I'm not saying it isn't there but you make me curious to re-watch it again with that set of goggles on.

I was reading this article which analyzes it from a "search for meaning" angle.

Now I think about it, I remember there was a shot early in the film where I thought Joe disappeared for a fraction of second, between passing cars. Maybe I imagined it but I should rewind and take a look. EDIT: I checked and he does. Cool.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wrote my review the day I watched the movie, which was maybe a mistake. It has stuck with me deeply since. Perhaps that's the power of the sparse narrative about a PTSD victim, that we can probably find many different things not just in the messaging but the actual narrative itself. It probably says more about us than Ramsay to analyze the film. I don't know if I stressed this earlier but 'sparse narrative' doesn't mean not a lot happens and you can just make your own meaning out of random events. I can't imagine the difficulty in crafting a piece of art which is such a specific general canvas, if that makes sense. The filmmaking is superb, capturing the feeling of PTSD so well, however a lot of what surrounds that PTSD is open to personal interpretation. Thank you for sharing that article, I really enjoyed it. It feels a lot more supported by the filmmaking than my idea was. Also, I very much prefer the reading where


the suicide is fake and the mattering to someone is real versus my original thought that the suicide is real and the happy ending is fake

A couple things I wanted to mention after considering the film after the fact:
- I really love that whatever the root of the trauma is, it wasn't simply his time in war. That's too easy and been done too often. Many times in real life, the folks who go do traumatic jobs (like go fight in a war) are drawn there in the first place because of deeper traumas. I don't know that I've ever seen that idea expressed in film before, but it feels very real
- I'm glad you mentioned the score because it really is perfect for this film
- I landed on my interpretation of events because I was trying to get a grip on it as it happened. Once I landed there, I used basically one shot in the third act to confirm it. I would actually like to rewatch the film free of expectation and trying to "figure it out" to see how it washes over me differently. All readings are valid but I would be interested to see what feels different upon a rewatch
- I don't think my review stressed enough that this is an interesting piece of art, worthy of discussion and existence. It does something unique and it does it very well, even if it didn't fully work for me that is laudable
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(02-22-2019, 01:11 PM)thecuddlyninja Wrote: - I landed on my interpretation of events because I was trying to get a grip on it as it happened. Once I landed there, I used basically one shot in the third act to confirm it. I would actually like to rewatch the film free of expectation and trying to "figure it out" to see how it washes over me differently. All readings are valid but I would be interested to see what feels different upon a rewatch

I forgot to mention that when...


...Joe shot himself, I very briefly had the idea that Joe was a figment of Nina's imagination. A sort of imaginary friend she had constructed to process her trauma, somebody who was going to come to the rescue but in the end she realised she was strong enough to rescue herself and so he ceased to exist... but then she came back to the table and I thought well that obviously wasn't it! Big Grin

Definitely  a film to revisit.
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Hereditary (2018)
A modern Horror that doesn't rely on jump-scares, something to celebrate. The main character (and us the audience) discover what is really going on 2/3rds in, the rest is just the other two characters finding it out, so it's somewhat anticlimactic and redundant (I kept thinking there would be some final revelation, or plot twist). Also, as somebody who has made dioramas in the past, the idea that she could construct them in what seemed like an afternoon looked silly. They worked as a strong visual metaphor but were not logical. Still, the performances by all the cast are incredibly good and always feel authentic to how real people would react to this much f**ked up sh*t (the dining table argument is so intense). There are scenes and images that will linger long in your horrified eyeballs.



Beast (2018)
Moll, a damaged girl stuck within a suffocating and emotionally abusive family, finds escape with a windswept and possibly dangerous young loner. As he becomes chief suspect in a spate of killings, we get a fascinating character study, as Moll loses her control on reality and her bottled up emotions. I was unsure if I was supposed to sympathise with the main character at the end because surely she is letting an innocent person suffer? (or it might just be a plot hole that got overlooked?).



Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
Biopic of biopic-writer Lee Israel who is more infamous as a forger of rare letters. The question of the titular forgiveness never really factors because Israel as played movingly by Melissa McCarthy is so tragic, lonely and broken that you can't help but feel for her. I wanted to watch the film to enjoy Richard E. Grant doing his roguish Withnail thing again (which is indeed enormous fun) but it's actually McCarthy's vulnerable performance that keeps you glued to the screen. She's a great comic but I think she's an even better actor on the strength of this.

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RBG (2018)
This Documentary about the life of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who I knew almost nothing about) begins with a credits sequence where we are invited to scoff at a series of idiotically hyperbolic soundbites from right-wingers describing her as a "Witch", as "Vile" and as a "Zombie". Then we are next shown a "badass" rap-music montage of the 85 year old working out, while a series of left-wingers describe her as an "icon", a "queen" and a "superhero" in equally hyperbolic terms... with no sense of the irony caused by this juxtaposition. This is not a deep examination, it's a fawning celebration. Given the importance RBG herself places upon dissenting voices, quiet diligence and devastating reasoned critiques, it's a shame the Documentary makers didn't take that principle to heart. Not a single frame is devoted to explaining in even the most basic terms how the US court system operates, so it's not a Documentary designed for the enjoyment of non-US viewers. All that being said, she is clearly an impressive and admirable person, who has pioneered laws on gender equality and the film gets that across very well. Amazing woman, so-so film.



Naked Gun 33 1⁄3: The Final Insult (2018)
I was always a big fan of Police Squad and the first two films, so I'm surprised I never got round to seeing this 3rd film. A huge amount of sexist jokes and lots of more innocent sexy-lady jokes make you start to question the attitudes of the people involved. Specific spoofing of movies like 'White Heat' and 'Thelma & Louise' and The Oscars ceremony, replaces the more general scatter-gun Police-based fun of the other films. You don't have to feel conflicted about enjoying an O. J. Simpson performance (this was released a couple months before the murders) because he is barely in it and his over-acting is astoundingly terrible when he is. Despite all the flaws, I had more genuine belly-laughs than I get from most comedies these days. e.g.

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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
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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