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A few reviews

Moe_Syzlak

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@"TM2YC" I think I liked Ad Astra more than you, but I pretty much agree with your take. For a movie about the importance of human relationships, it’s certainly a movie almost devoid of human relationships. :p If you lose some of those action scenes and spend a bit more time having us care for the characters, perhaps it would’ve worked more. I mean why was Liv Tyler even cast in this movie!?
 

asterixsmeagol

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TM2YC said:
If 'Ad Astra' had stuck to it's guns, not bothered with trying to be exciting and just gone all out on the lonely bleakness of space it could've been something pretty special. It's innovative vision of near future, near earth, space fairing, felt intriguingly different from other movies. ... I'd be tempted to do a fanedit of this one.

How much of that do you think you'd actually be able to fix with an edit? I felt that what was missing from Ad Astra was character moments that were probably never shot, not bad pacing or weird added scenes.
 

TM2YC

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Moe_Syzlak said:
@"TM2YC" I think I liked Ad Astra more than you, but I pretty much agree with your take. For a movie about the importance of human relationships, it’s certainly a movie almost devoid of human relationships. :p If you lose some of those action scenes and spend a bit more time having us care for the characters, perhaps it would’ve worked more.

+

asterixsmeagol said:
How much of that do you think you'd actually be able to fix with an edit? I felt that what was missing from Ad Astra was character moments that were probably never shot, not bad pacing or weird added scenes.

I think it was supposed to all be about Pitt's character and the slow deterioration of the mental armour he has put up to keep out the world, as he comes closer to an emotional reunion with his father. That material is all there in subtle shifts in Pitt's face IMO but the other nonsense like killer space monkeys distracted from it.

Moe_Syzlak said:
why was Liv Tyler even cast in this movie!?

I get why you'd cast a "face" in that part, it helps the audience remember and make a little more of a connection with a character that is designed to just be in flashback. It might work better to cut out their reunion, that seemed like too neat a conclusion to me. I'd imagined she was someone from a relationship that he had screwed up long, long ago.
 

TM2YC

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Drunken Master (1978)
What I liked most about this Jackie Chan classic was how clearly defined each character's fighting style was, in line with their personality. Even with no knowledge of martial arts you can clearly read that young Wong Fei-hung's (Jackie Chan) style is all about showing off, where as his aunt's moves are efficient and controlled, plus of course there is Beggar So's "drunken fist", hilariously translating the actions of the inebriated into formidable kung fu. It's all so inventive, technically and comedically. The plot is pretty simple, an impetuous youth is sent away to learn from an old master and returns to fight the bad-guy. It's Luke, Yoda and Vader... but with way more alcohol! I watched with the original Cantonese audio.


Drunken Master II (1994) aka The Legend of Drunken Master
Filmed 12-years after the first film, the then 40-year old Jackie Chan looks noticeably older and in less good shape (to be fair he had the muscles of a greek god in 1978) but wow it doesn't show in his lightning speed, gymnastic agility and the furious aggression he puts into the kung fu sequences. This came out just after the 'Once Upon a Time in China' films had been big hits, which were pretty serious Wong Fei-hung films. So 'Drunken Master II' is part sequel to Jackie Chan's disreputable and misbehaved 1978 version of the Cantonese folk-hero and part parody of the style of the 1990s Jet Li series, which portrayed Wong as a noble hero of the people. Ironically the funniest moments are from Ti Lung (playing Fei-hung's stern father Kei-ying) because he is such a terrific straight man, the more chaos his family creates, the angrier he gets, and the funnier it is. The final 8-minute long fight scene is a masterpiece of storytelling through fight choreography. Wong is repeatedly shown being taken beyond the limits of pain and endurance, so when he keeps finding new reserves of cunning and stamina the inevitable final victory is really crowd-pleasing. I watched with the original Cantonese audio.

 

TM2YC

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Booksmart (2019)
Initially I thought all the characters in Olivia Wilde's film were over-the-top, shouty, self-obsessed and outlandish, they really grated. Maybe I'm just getting older and maybe teenagers really are this insufferable now :D . However, as the film went on, the characters' vulnerability and insecurity began to peak through and I loved most of them by the end. The two gay male characters are still pretty annoying stereotypes, one in a full ballgown, the other in a smoking jacket, constantly shrieking and waving their arms around. Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher's daughter) is absolutely hilarious as the drug addled Gigi, the one character that felt totally authentic from the outset. Respect to the film for having two central characters that don't conform to Hollywood standards of gender, sexuality and body shape but being cool enough to not even mention it in the dialogue. Having ended up liking this a lot, I want to watch it again from the start and give those early scenes another chance.

NSFW trailer:


Wild Rose (2019)
Jessie Buckley's performance in 'Wild Rose' may very well be the best I've seen this year, male or female. I can see why she is up for the 'Best Actress' BAFTA but I can't understand why the film is up for nothing whatsoever at the OSCARs, not even 'Best Song'. It's got 10 brilliant original Country songs written by Jessie and Jack Arnold on the soundtrack. She plays Rose-Lynn a train-wreck of a young mum and talented Country singer who has just been released from prison. Her dream is to get to Nashville and be a star but life is always getting in the way. The crazy desperation and defeated sadness in Buckley's face and voice are almost unbearable. The story goes to some dark and very real places but there is such hope and love in the film too.


Come on Academy, this isn't better than the 5-songs you have nominated...?

 

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TM2YC said:
Booksmart (2019)
Initially I thought all the characters in Olivia Wilde's film were over-the-top, shouty, self-obsessed and outlandish, they really grated. Maybe I'm just getting older and maybe teenagers really are this insufferable now :D . However, as the film went on, the characters' vulnerability and insecurity began to peak through and I loved most of them by the end. The two gay male characters are still pretty annoying stereotypes, one in a full ballgown, the other in a smoking jacket, constantly shrieking and waving their arms around. Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher's daughter) is absolutely hilarious as the drug addled Gigi, the one character that felt totally authentic from the outset. Respect to the film for having two central characters that don't conform to Hollywood standards of gender, sexuality and body shape but being cool enough to not even mention it in the dialogue. Having ended up liking this a lot, I want to watch it again from the start and give those early scenes another chance.

I too watched this over the weekend, and I had a lot of fun. I think my feelings mostly match yours, though I went into it expecting that the teenagers be insufferable from the perspective of "old age" haha. And how did I not realize Billie Lourd was Gigi! Definitely one of the best characters in the film. I would totally recommend this to people looking for a fun, quirky, out-of-the-ordinary coming of age story.
 

TM2YC

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Siliconmaster said:
how did I not realize Billie Lourd was Gigi! Definitely one of the best characters in the film.

I didn't realise either until I read up on the film. It's the only thing she's been in outside of thanklessly delivering a few lines of exposition in the Star Wars films, plus a small part in one of the last Kevin Spacey films which was quietly forgotten about. I'd definitely like to see her in more films based on 'Booksmart'.

The Great Hack (2019)
If you've been paying attention to the way anti-social-media has poisoned social and political discourse and the alarming way personal data has been monetized and weaponized in recent years, then this Netflix Documentary on the subject offers very few new facts, revelations or insights. It mainly focuses on the stories of three people at the center of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal and their stories, which was new material to me. However, you struggle to sympathize with people saying things like "I spent years working for Dr. Evil at Evil Corp, helping to implement 'Operation Evil' but one day I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, is what I'm doing evil?", or "The media destroyed the company I'd help build by falsely portraying us as 100% evil but the truth was we were only 80-85% evil and anyway others were much worse". I didn't really like the presentation of the doc either, more info, less flashy visuals.


The Disk: the real story of MPs' Expenses (2019)
It seems everybody is making streaming movies these days, this Documentary is made by the British broadsheet 'The Telegraph' and posted for free on their YouTube channel. It takes you back 10-years to them breaking the Parliamentary expenses scandal, which has arguably changed the whole direction of UK politics. The production values are very basic but the film really does capture the febrile exhilaration of secretly prepping a story you know is going to be an absolute bombshell... yet nobody outside your office "bunker" suspects it's about to go off. It's free to view and well worth the time.

 

mnkykungfu

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^ You thought Spike Lee was the best actor in (insert name of any of his films) !!! :D 

Haha, I know!  But the difference is that I could see everyone else acting.  Jones didn't seem to be acting awkward and giving stunted line deliveries... I genuinely believed his character was awkward and spoke that way!  It may help that I knew a guy a lot like that back in the '90s and it reminded me of him like when he had dumb catchphrases he thought were funny. "Hey Nola!  Did I ever tell you about the time...?"
 
TM2YC said:
Boy (2010)
Taika Waititi second feature and more emotionally mature and nuanced 
I just do not share Waititi's sensibilities.  I find that he does not know how to balance comedy and drama, and the genuine seriousness of situations always loses out to an easy joke with him.  "Boy" manages to just squeak by, though.  It's the only one of his films where I felt allowed to genuinely sit with a down note long enough to feel it.  Needs to be more widely seen.
 
TM2YC said:
1917 (2019)
I suspect he feared audiences would get bored, so eventually lots of eventful action, drama and running around happens. The one-shot device becomes largely irrelevant at this point and '1917' stops being something truly unique

I'd disagree that the camera technique stops becoming effective.  I thought it was stunningly used all the way to the end.  (Light spoilers here)... Like when he accidentally finds the French girl and for a few minutes the camera just sits there, allowing you to forget about the movement and hide in some semblance of domesticity before snapping back to attention.  Or when the shot comes up through the trees to find the singer and then through the faces of the boys he's singing to, to hone in on our soldier and his stunned and shellshocked countenance, holding until you almost think he's dead.  I found the camera movement almost savant-like.
 
TM2YC said:
Ad Astra (2019)
 If 'Ad Astra' had stuck to it's guns, not bothered with trying to be exciting and just gone all out on the lonely bleakness of space it could've been something pretty special.

Have not seen this one, but would it not then have drawn more comparisons to Solaris?
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
I'd disagree that the camera technique stops becoming effective.  I thought it was stunningly used all the way to the end.  (Light spoilers here)... Like when he accidentally finds the French girl and for a few minutes the camera just sits there, allowing you to forget about the movement and hide in some semblance of domesticity before snapping back to attention.  Or when the shot comes up through the trees to find the singer and then through the faces of the boys he's singing to, to hone in on our soldier and his stunned and shellshocked countenance, holding until you almost think he's dead.  I found the camera movement almost savant-like.

Couldn't those effects be achieved equally as well by shifting to the same gliding camera movements and long takes within a pattern of normal cutting. The effect I was talking about in the first part was purely because of the total absence of cuts, how the camera moved and when and where it moved in that section wasn't an essential factor (although it's important for other reasons).

mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
Ad Astra (2019)
If 'Ad Astra' had stuck to it's guns, not bothered with trying to be exciting and just gone all out on the lonely bleakness of space it could've been something pretty special.

Have not seen this one, but would it not then have drawn more comparisons to Solaris?

I always keep meaning to make time for 'Solaris'... I've got two copies of it on blu-ray FFS :D .
 

Moe_Syzlak

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We watched Booksmart last night. I liked it a bit and yes Gigi is the comic highlight. But it was a bit tonally uneven to me. I think that was its intent, to be a classic teen comedy but then actually imbuing those characters with more depth than is typical (a Rain Johnsonesque subversion of expectations). Yet, it often fell right back to Superbad style movie making and most characters remain pretty shallow. I mean so okay don’t judge a book by its cover because the “slut” and the “jock” could be going to Ivy League schools too (I mean this high school must have the best college admissions track record in history!). But ultimately we’re never given anything more to flesh this out other than being told they must (secretly) be smart too. I did like the two main characters a lot as they were much more deeply drawn. A better than average teen comedy, but still a teen comedy.
 

TM2YC

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Moe_Syzlak said:
We watched Booksmart last night. I liked it a bit and yes Gigi is the comic highlight. But it was a bit tonally uneven to me. I think that was its intent, to be a classic teen comedy but then actually imbuing those characters with more depth than is typical (a Rain Johnsonesque subversion of expectations). Yet, it often fell right back to Superbad style movie making and most characters remain pretty shallow. I mean so okay don’t judge a book by its cover because the “slut” and the “jock” could be going to Ivy League schools too (I mean this high school must have the best college admissions track record in history!). But ultimately we’re never given anything more to flesh this out other than being told they must (secretly) be smart too. I did like the two main characters a lot as they were much more deeply drawn. A better than average teen comedy, but still a teen comedy.

I've heard a lot of comparisons to 'Superbad' but I've not seen that one to compare myself. If forgot to mention that the Barbie acid-trip scene is worth the watch alone.

What Did Jack Do? (2020)
Although I believe David Lynch made this 17-minute B&W short film to only show in an art gallery a couple of years ago, it was first released this week on Netflix for Lynch's 74th birthday. What a lovely surprise to find. Lynch (looking like his alter-ego from 'Twin Peaks') plays a homicide detective interviewing a murder suspect, Jack Cruz... except Jack is a monkey who rambles on about his troubled life being married to a chicken called Toototabon. I thought this was really funny, deadpan, intriguing and delightfully bizarre, like the very best of the Director's work. I want to re-watch it already!

There isn't much actual plot to spoil but the only clip I could find was from the end, so spoiler warning:


Judy (2019)
Like last year's 'Stan & Ollie' this about another faded Hollywood icon (Judy Garland) coming to perform in the UK... the place where stars go when they die :D . I don't usually like to criticize a movie for being "awards bait" but this really is. It's all about Renée Zellweger's performance but I thought she was way over the top. The scene where Judy hangs out at the flat of a gay couple (homosexuality had just been decriminalized at the point the story takes place) who are mega fans was the highlight, it's intimate, sad and touching. The occasional flashbacks felt tacked on in an effort to make Judy's self-destructive behavior more understandable and relatable but it didn't fully succeed. Richard Cordery is subtly creepy as studio boss Louis B. Mayer, in scenes with the young Judy (Darci Shaw) that are intended to reflect on recent "casting couch" scandals.

 

mnkykungfu

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TM2YC said:
Couldn't those effects be achieved equally as well by shifting to the same gliding camera movements and long takes within a pattern of normal cutting
 I don't think so, tbh.  Well, maybe some people wouldn't have noticed the difference (the general audience in my theater didn't seem to be talking about camerawork or directing as I walked out) but for the people who pay attention to those things... I don't know.  It felt very different to me at least.  I wasn't concerned in the slightest about figuring out where the hidden cuts were, I just was interested in this sort of free-floating camera, as if we the audience were a participant on the mission too... a 3rd soldier feeling all the same beats.  I found it much more emotionally affective than even other well done examples like Birdman.
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
Couldn't those effects be achieved equally as well by shifting to the same gliding camera movements and long takes within a pattern of normal cutting
 
I don't think so, tbh.  Well, maybe some people wouldn't have noticed the difference (the general audience in my theater didn't seem to be talking about camerawork or directing as I walked out) but for the people who pay attention to those things... I don't know.  It felt very different to me at least.  I wasn't concerned in the slightest about figuring out where the hidden cuts were, I just was interested in this sort of free-floating camera, as if we the audience were a participant on the mission too... a 3rd soldier feeling all the same beats.  I found it much more emotionally affective than even other well done examples like Birdman.

On the radio yesterday, somebody suggested 1917 was connecting strongly with younger viewers because the one-shot thing subconsciously recreated the immersive feeling of playing videogames like Call of Duty (which obviously contain no cuts). An interesting theory, could be some truth in it.

Amazing Grace (2019)
I didn't love this as much as I thought I would. A 1972 Aretha Franklin Gospel concert-film sounded like the greatest thing ever but her dragging out every syllable of every word in every song for an hour and a half got tiring for me. I thought I liked Gospel but maybe not this full-strength, stripped-down, pure-strain variety. The band get more involved in the energetic second half and I was lovin' it by the end. Director Sydney Pollack (who you can see running around gesturing to his camera crew) unfortunately forgot to use clapperboards, so with 1972 tech it proved practically impossible to sync the rolls of 16mm film to the audio tapes. I'd have really liked some bonus features explaining how they were able to use the tech of today to finally sync it up and finish the film. Also if they did succeed in syncing all the footage, why no bonus tracks?


Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019)
It feels like you've seen Cate Blanchett do this kind of chaotic, neurotic, misanthropic character several times before but you really don't mind because she is so good at it. Richard Linklater's film is about an artist that has stopped creating, begins to have a breakdown and tries to re-discover herself. It's very Woody Allen. I appreciated the way the architecture and design of the settings was used to inform character and mood. I was engaged while I was watching but I doubt it'll live long in the memory.

 

mnkykungfu

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TM2YC said:
On the radio yesterday, somebody suggested 1917 was connecting strongly with younger viewers because the one-shot thing subconsciously recreated the immersive feeling of playing videogames like Call of Duty (which obviously contain no cuts). An interesting theory, could be some truth in it.

Not gonna lie, it occurred to me in the first 20 minutes how similar in feeling it was to some FPS games, notably Resistance: Fall of Man.  But it's a bit of a catch-22, because games for the last 20+ years have increasingly been attempting to become more cinematic.  Sometimes if you were sitting in someone's living room, watching them play a game, the line between a movie and a game would be very thin indeed.  But I'm far too old for this to be a generational thing, I think it might just depend on personal experience/preference.  I really liked it anyway.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Makes for an awkward Christmas movie with the family.

Director Stanley Kubrick submitted a cut of this film 4 days before he died.  He wasn't around to hear that it wouldn't get the R-rating he'd hoped for, nor could he finish the scoring or post-production for it.  Apparently Kubrick went through a long process of adapting the novel, originally aiming for a comedy starring Woody Allen or Steve Martin, then a drama with Harrison Ford or Alec Baldwin, finally settling on something like a suspense/thriller with Tom Cruise.  I think the source material (Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler) just isn't very interesting for me.  It seems meant to be a depressing piece of introspective Eastern European turn-of-the-century literature.

Kubrick's film starts out very well, with a great show of the dynamic between Cruise's "Dr. Bill" and his wife, played by real-life wife, Nicole Kidman.  Kidman, as in nearly every film of hers, is the best part of this movie.  She gives a riveting monologue early on that would shake the foundations of any married man.  The implication is that despite all they have built together and everything he has done to love her and provide for her as a husband, deep down he is not enough for her and she craves another man.  That is the kind of honest statement that can never be unsaid, and is hard to do anything about in a marriage.  

The film ostensibly is meant to be following Dr. Bill as he tries unsuccessfully to deal with this, basically by looking for some sexual ego-stroking or revenge or parity, but life keeps preventing this in very un-sexy ways.  (If you saw trailers and tuned into this to watch an erotic thriller, you got played.  The infamous "orgy" scene is really pretty tame and almost done like a tour through a gallery of Renaissance paintings...it's all pretty to look at, but there's no "shock", nothing scandalous.)  The absurdity of these events might be what prompted Kubrick to consider this as a dark comedy, but the tone of these is very uneven and problematic.  

It's also problematic in that it totally excludes the point of view from anyone who isn't a white male, and the white males don't have anything interesting to say.  It doesn't reach any answers for the questions it asks.  The "mystery" is incredibly straightforward and not suspenseful at all.  You know the advice to writers to "kill your darlings"?  Well, at this point in Kubrick's career, nobody was giving him that advice.  He luxuriates in every shot, whether it moves the characters or the plot forward or not. I checked my watch at just shy of 2 hours... most movies would've ended by then, and I felt like the plot was just starting to get going in this one.  A well-shot flick, but ultimately a waste of time.
 

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Toy Story 4 (2019)
'Toy Story 3' was the perfect end, the best of the three and capable of inducing floods of tears and leaps of joy. So I don't think I'm the only one that greeted news of yet another one with a sigh and a little suspicion. So is it as good? No but it's 100 very pleasurable minutes of more of the same sort of thing. The best bit for me was the very last few frames, a joke about the technical arrangement of a silent-film-style Iris-transition but maybe that one was just for the film geeks.


Frozen II (2019)
I wasn't all that struck on the first one, so unlike some people, I didn't go in with sky-high expectations for the sequel and consequently wasn't disappointed... like some people have been. I did have a few accidental mini-naps in the middle, which could be why I didn't notice the shaky script that others have criticized, it all seemed to make sense in the end. The songs are lovely, the animation is magical and that snowman is still adorable. The bit where Elsa rides a horse made of water, on top of a tsunami was pretty epic. Overall, it's okay.

 

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Late Night (2019)
Emma Thompson's acid-tongued turn as Katherine Newbury, an American late night talk-show host is the main attraction here. Her once great show is going to be dropped unless she can appeal to a new audience and stop being complacent so she directs her fury at her team of middle-aged all-male writers and brings on Indian-American writer Molly (Mindy Kaling, also the screenwriter) as a female "diversity hire". Of course Molly shakes up the stale show and Newbury's troubled life. All the character stuff and the dialogue works so well but the comedy material delivered on the fictional show is cringey. It lacks that indefinable easy "snap" that you get from seasoned pros like Stewart, or Colbert. I couldn't tell which jokes were supposed to fall flat and which ones were supposed to fly (unless the dialogue told me) because they all fell to floor with a thud. Ironically, the film would've benefited from bringing in a crack comedy writing team to polish up those parts.


Pain and Glory / Dolor y gloria (2019)
All the money seems to be on Joaquin Phoenix for 'Best Actor', which is unfortunate for Antonio Banderas because in any other year the award would be his. His performance as aging film Director Salvador Mallo (loosely based on Pedro Almodovar himself) is monumental in it's subtlety. There is a line in the film about the truly great actors, not crying, which I suspect is a comment on itself. We meet Salvador wracked by ill-health and riddled by doubts and regrets, as he reconnects with friends, family and lovers from his past, either in the present, or in his memories. Beautifully acted and written scene, after scene, after scene. Almodovar shifts backward and forward in time so smoothly with expert thematic transitions. The visuals are a riot of light and colour, especially deep reds.

 

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TM2YC said:
Pain and Glory / Dolor y gloria (2019)
All the money seems to be on Joaquin Phoenix for 'Best Actor', which is unfortunate for Antonio Banderas because in any other year the award would be his. His performance as aging film Director Salvador Mallo (loosely based on Pedro Almodovar himself) is monumental in it's subtlety. 

I keep wanting to write this off but I keep hearing how good Banderas is.  I'm just not a huge fan of Almodovar in the first place, and I'm beyond tired of him writing thinly veiled versions of himself into so many of his movies.  Especially since the version is usually a guy inexplicably swarmed by women despite being a complete self-obsessed jerk.  I don't know, maybe it's true, I just don't want to watch it.  He's like the Spanish Woody Allen.

That said, I do love Banderas...
 

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mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
Pain and Glory / Dolor y gloria (2019)
All the money seems to be on Joaquin Phoenix for 'Best Actor', which is unfortunate for Antonio Banderas because in any other year the award would be his. His performance as aging film Director Salvador Mallo (loosely based on Pedro Almodovar himself) is monumental in it's subtlety. 

I keep wanting to write this off but I keep hearing how good Banderas is.  I'm just not a huge fan of Almodovar in the first place, and I'm beyond tired of him writing thinly veiled versions of himself into so many of his movies.  Especially since the version is usually a guy inexplicably swarmed by women despite being a complete self-obsessed jerk.  I don't know, maybe it's true, I just don't want to watch it.  He's like the Spanish Woody Allen.

That said, I do love Banderas...

I can't comment on his other films, somehow I've gone through life without seeing any of Almodovar's previous films. The main character in this one probably is a "thinly veiled version of himself" but he's not "a guy inexplicably swarmed by women despite being a complete self-obsessed jerk", he's aging, alone and gay. There is a suggestion that the character has regrets because he was "a complete self-obsessed jerk" in his youth though :D .

For Sama (2019)
Waad Al-Kateab (a pseudonym) was/is a war reporter for the UK's Channel 4 News during the Battle of Aleppo and 'For Sama' turns the footage she captured across 5-years into a film. She frames it as a letter to her infant daughter (the Sama of the title) explaining her and her Doctor husband's lives in the besieged Syrian city, trying to save lives and document deaths. It opens on a closeup of the little face of Sama as Waad is singing to her, then the sound of a bomb explodes in the distance and a moment of intense fear passes over the baby's face, before she smiles back into her mother's eyes. You understand right away what the film is going to be about and you have a sick feeling in your stomach from then on.

With particular focus on children, Waad witnesses the constant targeting of civilians and hospitals by Syrian government forces and Russian planes, as they relentlessly turn a city into a pile of rumble. She never cuts away from the horrors of war, one scene involving a newborn baby and it's mother is almost too much to handle when you have the luxury of pressing the stop button. For the first time I appreciated how revolutionary drone-cameras are, allowing one women with no film crew to record a war with a scale previously impossible. This is up for the BAFTA and OSCAR for best Documentary and I could see it winning both.  You can watch 'For Sama' for free on Channel4's website in the UK and I think the same is true on the PBS site in the US.


Harriet (2019)
Kasi Lemmons' biopic of Harriet Tubman is a little frustrating. It's very well acted and directed and unlike many a historical drama this seems to hue pretty closely to the facts of Tubman's astonishing life... except in one area. In reality Tubman experienced strange visions (due to a blow on the head from a slave master) and her heroic rescues of slaves earned her the nickname "Moses". Unfortunately the film gets really obsessed with these two details, portraying her as literally some kind of saviour from God, bestowed with psychic powers. She wasn't a saint from superstitious medieval times like Jeanne d'Arc (who is referenced in the script), or like Moses crossing the desert in a Biblical myth, she was a very real, human and amazing person, who we have photos of. Comparing her real-life determination and heroism to a fictional biblical character, trivialises her achievements in my opinion. It's worth watching to the end for all the beautiful cast photos taken with what looks like a genuine Daguerreotype camera.

 

macmilln

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TM2YC said:
Harriet (2019)
Kasi Lemmons' biopic of Harriet Tubman is a little frustrating. It's very well acted and directed and unlike many a historical drama this seems to hue pretty closely to the facts of Tubman's astonishing life... except in one area. In reality Tubman experienced strange visions (due to a blow on the head from a slave master) and her heroic rescues of slaves earned her the nickname "Moses". Unfortunately the film gets really obsessed with these two details, portraying her as literally some kind of saviour from God, bestowed with psychic powers. She wasn't a saint from superstitious medieval times like Jeanne d'Arc (who is referenced in the script), or like Moses crossing the desert in a Biblical myth, she was a very real, human and amazing person, who we have photos of. Comparing her real-life determination and heroism to a fictional biblical character, trivialises her achievements in my opinion. It's worth watching to the end for all the beautiful cast photos taken with what looks like a genuine Daguerreotype camera.

I haven't seen the film, but I'm interested in checking it out. I wonder if this is something that a fanedit could fix. Or do you think it's too baked into the narrative that the film would be incomplete or otherwise lacking without it?
 

TM2YC

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macmilln said:
TM2YC said:
Harriet (2019)
...portraying her as literally some kind of saviour from God, bestowed with psychic powers.

I haven't seen the film, but I'm interested in checking it out. I wonder if this is something that a fanedit could fix. Or do you think it's too baked into the narrative that the film would be incomplete or otherwise lacking without it?

I was thinking about that. Mostly the instances could be easily snipped out and the film would be stronger IMO but there are a few tricky spots where Tubman is being hunted and she has a vision and directly acts on it to escape. Ideally the film would've show her using her cunning and judgement in some way to evade capture in those moments. It should be said that if the viewer is strongly of the Christian persuasion, they might see nothing unusual about a character praying for direction and God answering back with an almost literal "turn left" like a celestial sat-nav... and so would have no issues with an otherwise excellent film.
 
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