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A few reviews
(03-10-2019, 08:42 AM)TM2YC Wrote: 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.

Watched with my daughter.
As a parent, it left me feeling sick.
And angry.
And disturbed.
And sad.  So very, very sad.

As TM2YC said, nobody is that good of an actor.  

I do not think I will ever listen to a Michael Jackson song again.
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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Dead of Night (1945)
'Dead of Night' is one of the spookiest and most gripping Horror movies I've yet seen, not what I would've expected from Ealing Studios in 1945. A framing device where a group of strangers recount unsettling tales from their past across a fading evening is almost seamlessly integrated into one narrative about waking-nightmares. The kind of things that give you goosebumps, that may be supernatural, or may have a rational explanation. The most famous episode features Sir Michael Redgrave as a ventriloquist who is either dangerously insane, or really has a creepy living dummy possessed by evil. I was less keen on the comedy episode, which ostensibly pits the two sport-obsessed Englishmen from Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Lady Vanishes' against each other in a golf-game to the death... and beyond. The finale where all the stories mix together into one nightmare sequence is brilliantly realised.

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A Better Tomorrow II (1987)
The first act is lacking in top-level Hong Kong action but once Chow Yun-fat turns up (as the convenient twin brother of his dead character from the first film Big Grin) the action begins and builds towards a hundred-man gun-battle finale that fills every inch of the screen with exploding grenades, shattering scenery, flying bullets and blood squibs spraying across every surface (It's really something to witness!). A strain of wacky humour is introduced which was not present in the first film but I loved the scene where Chow is ranting on about rice to a Mafia hit-man. I loved the way him donning his trademark trench-coat and cool Alain Delon sunglasses was shot like a super hero putting on his cape and cowl. This definitely has more troughs than the tightly constructed first film but it also has more insane heights too.

Reservoir Dogs much? Wink

[Image: 32523695157_80aa0dc31a_o.jpg]

The Great Escape (1963)
This was the first time I've seen this on the big screen, for the 75th Anniversary of the escape with a live intro from Historian Dan Snow. The nearly 3-hour runtime melts away thanks to an all-star cast and a script packed with humour, drama and action. James Garner was the standout for me, positively radiating impertinence and mischievous wit in the face of a deadly enemy. Richard Attenborough's performance was much darker than I remembered and Charles Bronson is powerful yet vulnerable as the heroic Polish tunnel master who suffers from claustrophobia. Steve McQueen is just being 100% Steve McQueen, 100% of the time, looking roguish, ruggedly handsome and riding the hell outta that motorcycle! Only James Coburn lets the side down with the least convincing Australian accent ever committed to celluloid.

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Happy Death Day 2 U (2019)

Pretty entertaining, leans into the comedy aspect even harder than the first. On the one hand, I respect the hell out of a sequel that tries to do something different, and not just more of the same. On the other hand, the thing they did here is super explain what caused the first movie, and that is just really unnecessary. It demystifies the first film and kinda takes away from the emotional catharsis of it. Not just thematically but literally (alternate dimension movies are wild). So yeah, solid and entertaining follow up, respect its hustle, will forget all about it in a month.
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Stalker (1979)

man this was brilliant. instant favorite for me. first Tarkovsky movie i watched too, love how the pace and the story were handled. loved the cinematography and how long and how few shots he uses - really refreshing when compared to what's been coming out of Hollywood these days. this movie also reminded me a bit of Apocalypse Now, but maybe it's just because they came out in the same year, i don't know. i guess the 'journey' aspect of both movies are also similar, Stalker being the better film imo.

emotionally speaking though, this movie made me reflect a lot. very intriguing, loved every aspect of the psychological questions the movie imposed upon me. maybe it's i who was missing out on something but i'd never seen any story like this one before, and the philosophical talk in between the characters and also the obstacles they face...

what a great ride this was. i really wanna rewatch this, except that i wanna be really high next time around.
What has hardened will never win.
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Suspiria (2018)
I've visited the city of Varese, Italy and seen the abandoned Grand Hotel Campo dei Fiori (where the interiors and exterior were shot) high up on a hill, looking very much like The Overlook Hotel, or The Bates Motel. I also know somebody who has been on a tour of the inside after filming was completed. The guides apparently said the filmmakers had vandalized the Art Nouveau building and stolen pieces of architecture/artwork. So I didn't go into watching this film feeling well disposed to the people involved Angry .

A new subplot about an elderly Psychiatrist is the main reason why this remake is a full hour longer than the original film. I felt that whenever the weirdness within the dance school begins to build up a sense of sickly dread, the film cuts away to this very sombre outside story and that dark energy dissipates. The whole thing could be taken out fairly easily, leaving a more satisfying artsy Horror experience. The modern-dance sequence halfway through backed by Thom Yorke's score (video below) was the only scene that I felt really nailed the full power of what the film was going for, I had a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach all the way through. This remake is inferior but it's got some unique and extreme body-Horror scenes that should please David Cronenberg fans.

Tilda Swinton plays three characters brilliantly, the imperious choreographer, a disgusting old witch and the kindly old Psychiatrist through heavy prosthetics. I noticed within a few seconds that it was her in a rubber mask (although a pretty good one) and then found it very distracting throughout because I kept wondering why they had Swinton in makeup instead of just a real old male actor. Was there going to be a big twist reveal that necessitated this casting decision? Nope, there was no reason at all.

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Apollo 13 (1995)
I've been wanting to re-watch this movie since I saw Damien Chazelle's similarly Apollo-Mission centered 'First Man' last year and happily it popped up on Netflix. This manages a much better balance between the Astronauts in jeopardy and the anguish of their families (we need to see they are worried but not devote half the movie to it). If I had to criticise 'Apollo 13', I think it's almost too well crafted, too expertly formulated and is too successful at manipulating our emotions. Beyond that, it's difficult to fault a movie with an all-star cast of this caliber (Ed Harris has never been better), a rousing score by the late James Horner and a real-life story that could hardly be more dramatic.

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Opera (1987)
Dario Argento apparently had a stage Opera project fall through, which he used as inspiration for a semi-autobiographical Giallo featuring an Italian Giallo Director mounting a stage production of Verdi's Opera 'Macbeth'. The setting is the perfect excuse to blend Argento's brand of heightened theatrical Horror with the heightened power of Opera music (plus the usual Prog Rock and some Metal too). The images of crazed Ravens and eyes abound, extreme close-ups of eyes, Ravens eating eyeballs, ravens clawing out eyes, people being shot in the eye and of course the central conceit of a girl having her eyes forced open by dressmaker's pins. The practical gore FX are on another level of realism and splatter. As usual, Argento is the master of leading the viewer "up the garden path" and had me theorising that virtually every character was the murderer at one point or the other Big Grin .

(^ I love that trailer voice!)

I've now seen all of Dario Argento's films up to this one, the reputed steep decline in quality after this point makes me wonder if I should watch any more and save being disappointed. I'd rate them something like this:

1. Deep Red
2. Suspiria
3. Tenebre
4. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
5. Phenomena
6. Opera
7. The Cat o' Nine Tails
8. Inferno
9. Four Flies on Grey Velvet
10. The Five Days of Milan
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Notorious (1946)
I missed this one during my last Hitchcock binge, so was glad to get the opportunity to rewatch it now.

The first half feels a little glacial at times and the head-over-heels romance is very forced to start, but from there it develops more naturally, believabley (and painfully) over the course of the film - making the moment where Grant's character says "I love you" as impactful as it should be. 

But for me it's from the marriage onwards and the stakes are raised that the film comes alive. Hitch is masterful with the camera as always and the scenes of tension are as effective as ever. The party, the cellar, the poisoning, the escape - and oh, that icy glare from Eric to Alex as he walks down the stairs... We all know that when that door closes his fate is sealed. 

Ingrid Bergmann delivers an excellent performance throughout, but the fear on her face when she realises the coffee is the culprit is striking - a standout moment for me. 

I'm not a fan of Cary Grant, but he gets the job done. Charismatic and charming as always. 

This won't be making its way onto my favourites list, but overall it's a solid entry in the Hitch Canon and one I would be happy to watch again.
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(04-06-2019, 05:24 PM)TM2YC Wrote: ... the reputed steep decline in quality after this point makes me wonder if I should watch any more and save being disappointed.

Not a terrible idea, the only post-Opera flick I like is "Sleepless". And I'd suggest finishing off his Mothers trilogy with "Mother of Tears", even though it's terrible. Maybe see if Dr. Sapirstein's fanedit is still online.
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