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A few reviews

TM2YC

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skyled said:
I think you're forgetting Emma Peel's leather catsuit on the Avengers :heart:

Oh yeah, that was a couple of years before wasn't it.

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Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
That this is one of Martin Scorsese's favourite Hammer films gave me some hope that it was more interesting than the generally dismissive reviews suggested and indeed it was. This time Peter Cushing's Baron attempts to transfer the soul of his recently guillotined young lab assistant into the body of the poor boy's handicapped girlfriend (who has drowned herself)... and give her a makeover while he is at it! The Baron's zero-f**ks attitude towards the moral questions posed by such an experiment is a treat. A possessed transgender/split-personality killing spree from beyond the grave ensues against a trio of loathsome trust-fund bullies. This vendetta occupies most of the run-time in the second half, so I can understand if this Cushing-light section puts some viewers off. Also female lead Susan Denberg (Playboy's Miss August 1966) isn't the greatest actress. Those couple of flaws didn't dampen my enthusiasm and Director Terence Fisher's Pre-Raphaelite influenced visuals were very nice to look at.

 

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A Wrinkle in Time. Last night I finished the book with my seven year old twin boys. Tonight we watched the movie. I think this is a pretty faithful adaptation but it is an adaptation and my kids definitely noticed the differences, starting with my twins exclaiming, “where’s the twins!” But most importantly the feel is the same. The messages are simple and they’re delivered in unambiguous ways in both the book and the movie. Make no mistake, this is a movie that is unabashedly for kids from primary school to middle school. It makes no attempts to appeal to adults (aside from perhaps one Chris Tucker quote). It is tolerable for an adult, but I must say my kids loved it. It has heart and I thought it was well done for what it was trying to do. The effects were a bit underwhelming for a movie of this scale. At times it felt more like a Disney Channel movie like the Descendants (yes, I’ve seen them; remember I have seven year olds). But again, my kids thought the visuals were great. It’s far from an instant classic, even for kids, but it’s fine if you’re the target demo.
 

TM2YC

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It Couldn't Happen Here (1988)
I'd watched my brother's VHS copy of this eccentric Pet Shop Boys musical film sometime in the 90s. In recent years (and being a longtime PSB fan) I was really intrigued to see it again and was almost contemplating acquiring and digitising a pan&scan VHS tape, or even better, a Widescreen Japanese Laserdisc. Luckily the lovely people at the BFI decided to do a 4K restoration and release it for the first time on blu-ray and DVD this week. The hardback book packaging and richly colourful transfer are both gorgeous. I might be biased towards the film but I loved every minute of this surrealist fantasy. The last audible line of the opening number as it fades away is "I don't expect to talk in terms of sense..." which is good guide for the plot-free adventure ahead.

It's an absurd, grotesque, kinky, surreal, bizarre, kitsch, melancholy and oddly glamorous vision. A completely mad saucy postcard, full of ridiculous characters but if you've ever spent time in one Britain's faded seaside towns, or off-season tourist spots, it actually feels very real. Fragments of Britain past, where music-hall cabaret never went out of style. Rain lashed beaches, greasy-spoon cafes, dilapidated B&Bs, branch-line stations and gaudy nightclubs. For PSB making a straight up jukebox musical would be too easy, too obvious, so their music is mostly heard coming out of radios, being spoken over the telephone, or read out as poetry.  Barbara Windsor, Joss Ackland, Neil Dickson and Gareth Hunt play multiple loony people that Tennant and Lowe encounter. Gareth Hunt in particular is so, so funny. The cinematography is spectacular, outside of the few people who caught this at the cinema in 1988, nobody has seen how good it looks in 30-years. Salvador Dali would be proud.


^ The theatrical trailer was recreated in HD for the blu-ray but sadly the pop video for 'Always on my Mind' was not and it wasn't even in the right frame rate. So I set about re-making it myself using the blu-ray as a source.  Here's the video for PSB's 1987 UK Christmas Number 1 single in HD for the first time:


and here it is in 4K because why not ;) :


The 24fps film was sped up to 25fps and matched frame-by-frame to the 'Always on my Mind' video on the PopArt DVD compilation (audio also sourced from that DVD, in Dolby Digital Stereo). Added vignette and frame-accurate flicker to "silent" footage, crossfades, jumps and freeze-frames. One closeup shot at 01.17 of the rubber-chicken being waved was not in the film, so a wide shot of the same action was used instead (rather than use the original shot in jarring standard definition).

Unfortunately the youtube bots blocked it :( . I was hoping PSB and general pop fans would've got a kick out of seeing it.
 

TM2YC

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The Day Shall Come (2019)
I've followed the career of UK satirist genius Chris Morris since the early 90s but his latest film sadly just didn't work for me. In a post-911 setting, the FBI manufacture a terrorist crisis for themselves to solve and therefore look like they did their jobs. It's inspired by real cases such as the 'Liberty City Seven'.  The target they choose is a sweet-natured, harmless crazy called Moses, who is running a bizarre but benevolent cult commune with his family and two followers. The scenes with Moses work well because Marchant Davis is such a likeable screen presence and his collective feel real and grounded, despite the nonsense things they believe. The scenes with the FBI are jarringly different, a hurricane of barely comprehensible ball-breaking dialogue by irritating characters (Anna Kendrick is miscast). I think it would have worked better if the FBI had been portrayed as cool, calculating and cynical (which was probably nearer the truth), rather than zany, hand-wavy people, running round like headless chickens. Their actions should have been silly but I don't think their personalities should've been. There's a brief section when the film is really working when Moses is farcically confounding the FBI at every turn by shear naive stupidity. I don't know what we were supposed to take away from the abrupt ending... Moses = good/pawn / FBI = bad/incompetent? We got that in the first minutes of the movie didn't we? Rolling credits timed with the drums on Prince's 'The Cross' was a great move.


 

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Gorilla Interrupted

The first of RedLetterMedia's movies and in my opinion, the best! It's full of unique characters, memorable scenes and at only 68 minutes, it never feels like it's dragged out and the effects are pretty good!

Oh and the documentary that comes with it (How not to make a movie) is fantastic!
 

TM2YC

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A delightfully strange R-Patz double-bill...

Fear & Shame aka Robert Pattinson Desperately Needs a New York City Hot Dog (2017)
This old 3-minute GQ short film written by and starring Robert Pattinson turned up in my youtube recommendations because I think people were joking it was the new Batman trailer :D . I'm glad it did because it's amazing. Pattinson plays himself as a hyper paranoid celebrity gazing at the street below from his plush hotel room spotting a man consuming a classic NY Hot Dog. He ventures outside in a delirium of hunger and fear. Part panic-attack, part munchies. It really works as a lock-down short.


High Life (2018)
I don't know if it's just because I've recently watched several Andrei Tarkovsky films but I did get the feeling that's what Director Claire Denis was (successfully) aiming for in this unusual Sci-Fi film. Like 'Solaris', it's got a lovely throw-back 1970s look to the space suits and interior of the ship, it features shots of wells/water, shots of pale girls in forests, has themes around memory and trauma and it also concerns isolated astronauts going a bit "peculiar". Denis' film begins with a wonderfully unique (in my experience of Sci-Fi cinema) scene featuring Robert Pattinson repairing the exterior of his space ship, while trying to sooth his crying baby daughter over his space suit radio. 'High Life' is full of such tender human moments. How they both came to be on a space ship is revealed through a non-linear, fragmented narrative, like a jigsaw slowly coming together. The trippy and scary black hole FX rival those from 'Interstellar' and the ending has echoes of '2001: A Space Odyssey'. I thought the sort of rodeo-ride/car-wash/sex-machine/holodeck/j*zz-extractor cubicle that Juliette Binoche frolics in, was impressively weird and freaky but it distracted from the overall serious tone and ideas IMO. Pattinson himself sings a cool David Bowie-esque "theme tune" over the end. Lastly, the credits that simultaneously scroll up and scroll down are interesting enough to watch 'til the end.


 

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City of the Living Dead (1980)
Not really a "living dead" movie, it's not about a Zombie apocalypse, it's about supernatural shenanigans, some of which involve re-animated corpses and the "city" part is a lie too, more like "small rural village of the living dead". Lucio Fulci's script is a load of incoherent nonsense, random stuff happening to a line up of barely connected characters. There are some inventive gory kills but I just felt very sorry for the poor actors who had to take part in the "room filled with flying maggots" scene. The ending is bizarre, there's a fairy happy conclusion to the story, then a sudden freeze frame against ominous music... oh no, not a freeze frame! :D

NSFW trailer:

 

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A Most Violent Year (2014)    (US Netflix, but hurry)

A_Most_Violent_Year_poster.png


This had been in my Netflix queue for ages, but, seeing the news it'll soon be yanked, I finally gave it a stream, and... wow. A stone-cold masterpiece. Without doubt the best of J.C. Chandor's career, which, with Margin Call and All is Lost, is an excellent one. I was surprised to be reminded his latest is the merely okay straight-to-Netflix actioner Triple Frontier. When I saw The Departed in college, and thought the movie everyone was going gaga over was a weak-ass cartoon with one foot in self-parody, A Most Violent Year is the exact film I wish I'd seen. Absolutely riveting from start to finish.

Grade: A

 
TM2YC said:
I think 'A Most Violent Year' starring Oscar Isaacs and Jessica Chastain is one of the best films of recent years. It really harks back to classics like 'The Godfather'... sadly, while it looks very well photographed, the sickly green grade is absolutely vile.

I didn't mind it at all: it made the movie feel like a dreamlike artifact, a negative that spent decades in some thrift shop, yellowing with age - and then there's the thematic oil connection. That, and also evocative of the nastiness of East Coast winters, and the strange unreality of heated spaces during such times. Still, I'm sure it would work almost/just as well with the neutral/naturalistic color grade you propose. :)
 

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National Theatre Live: A Midsummer Night's Dream (2019)
Probably the best adaptation I've seen of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', on stage, or screen (ooh that rhymes, how appropriate). The main draws were star Gwendoline Christie (as Hippolyta and Titania) and Director Nicholas Hytner ('The Madness of King George', 'The History Boys', 'The Lady in the Van' etc) but my highlight had to be Hammed Animashaun as Bottom. Every second he's on stage my (and the filmed audience's) sides were splitting and that can't be easy to achieve with 400-year-old dialogue. The gender-swapping farcical elements of Shakespeare's play are pushed to joyous, romantic and hilarious extremes, with almost everybody falling in love with everybody else at one point, or another. It's modern-ish dress, with dreaming, magic and flying incorporated into the staging, via Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics and floating beds. The script is adapted freely, incorporating modern words/phrases, gags involving iPhones and toy laser swords and dances to music by Dizzee Rascal and Beyonce. A total delight, not to be missed.


It's currently streaming for FREE (donations are optional) on the NT youtube channel until the 2nd of July:


Red Dwarf: The Promised Land (2020)
Red Dwarf declined in quality after it's 6th series in 1993 (when co-writer Rob Grant left) but it's limped on through another 5 series, specials and now the long gestating movie (albeit on TV, interrupted by many adverts). It doesn't quite recapture past glories but it's not bad and I enjoyed myself despite some obvious jokes. I liked the way it revisited one of the core story elements of the show in the beginning, Lister inadvertently founding the Cat race and them worshiping him as a god. It actually explores some thought provoking stuff around belief and the perception of miracles. I still prefer the old days with practical models but I have to admit the CGI in 'The Promised Land' does look pretty damn good (considering it's on a TV budget). The subplot where they reboot Holly back to factory settings with a giant floppy disc would've been good enough to do a whole episode on.

 

TM2YC

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
Like the best parody musical films (e.g. 'The Rutles', 'South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut' and 'Spinal Tap') the songs in 'The Story of Fire Saga' are as good as the music they are mimicking. Songs like 'Double Trouble', 'Lion of Love', 'Volcano Man' and 'Husavik' are the best things never to have been in Eurovision (many sung by actual Swedish Eurovision contestant Molly Sanden, who has an incredible voice).  You can tell it's a movie made with love, respect and knowledge for it's subject, it just "gets it".  Will Ferrell (who co-writes, Produces and stars) has apparently been a long time Eurovision fan thanks to his Swedish wife. It's Ferrell's best film in about 10-years... however that's not saying much. I really enjoyed it but it's too long, features too much improv humour which distracts from the (well written) plot and a bit too much unnecessary swearing and sexual humour. Eurovision is the kind of thing the whole family can sit down and enjoy together, so it's a real shame that this movie is 12A/PG-13.

Many Eurovision stars appear as themselves and UK host Graham Norton is there to present, comment and joke, just like he does for the real show, giving it that veneer of believability you need for great parody. I found myself cheering on the two loser/dreamer characters (Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams) in their unlikely quest and their finale performance of 'Husavik' is genuinely emotional.  Dan Stevens gives his all as a Russian guy who is cleverly setup to make you think he's going to be the cliched evil/cocky/talented rival of the underdogs Fire Saga but he actually ends up being quite thoughtful and having his own beautiful little arc (with a bit of politics thrown in). I appreciated the way the end stuck to the rules of the song contest. Despite there being some elf-based homicide, the most unrealistic thing about the film was it being set in Scotland, which suggested the UK had somehow written a song that won Eurovision the year before and not one so bad it got "nil points"... ludicrous!   :D With 2020 having no real winner due the pandemic, I think a lot of people are going to enjoy imagining this was Fire Saga's year.

I hope this Netflix movie gets a blu-ray release at some point because I'd do a fanedit in a heartbeat.

This music video for 'Double Trouble' gives a better impression of the movie than the actual trailer:


Here is Iceland's actual entrant for Eurovision 2020, covering Iceland's imaginary entrant for 2020 (very meta ;) ):


Dammit I've had Dan Stevens singing "I'm a lion lover!!" stuck in my head all day at work:

 

mnkykungfu

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TM2YC said:
This music video for 'Double Trouble' gives a better impression of the movie than the actual trailer:


Wait...has music in Europe not changed at all since Ace of Base in 1991?
 

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TM2YC said:
National Theatre Live: A Midsummer Night's Dream (2019)
Probably the best adaptation I've seen of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', on stage, or screen (ooh that rhymes, how appropriate).

Ugh, I will be very happy to never see that damn play again. A bunch of people being hypnotized into infatuation with each other isn't dramatically interesting, let alone funny or whimsical. Give me Much Ado, Taming of the Shrew (problematic content and all), Twelfth Night or As You Like It over Dream any and every day. :p
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
This music video for 'Double Trouble' gives a better impression of the movie than the actual trailer:


Wait...has music in Europe not changed at all since Ace of Base in 1991?

Not in Eurovision land. It's a magical kingdom where Euro-Dance/Pop never grows old! :)

Good Vibrations (2013)
An exhilarating biopic of Belfast "Godfather of Punk" Terri Hooley, chronicling his efforts to run a record shop in the midst of the violent "troubles" and releasing classic singles like The Undertones' 'Teenage Kicks'Richard Dormer brilliantly plays Hooley with a wide-eyed evangelical zeal for music and an almost irrepressible spirit in the face of adversity. Somebody who achieves the impossible because they are too naively optimistic to realise it's impossible. There are real joyous moments like when the opening riff of Stiff Little Fingers' 'Alternative Ulster' comes in 15-mins from the end, or when everybody hears John Peel play 'Teenage Kicks' on his show for the first (and second) time. It's so much fun but it's also not afraid to tackle the hard realities of Northern Island life at the time. It's chilling the way it drops the infamous 'Miami Showband Massacre' incident in there like "This band went on to international success, this band broke up and this band were all murdered". I loved that they didn't try to make the musicians look cool, stylish and modern, it's all bad haircuts and charity shop clothes, so it feels authentic to the period and place. You can almost believe this was shot in the late 70s, not 2013. There is a bit of awkwardness in the last part when you can feel the strain of directing the story into a conventional narrative structure, when something more anarchistic could've suited this rebellious tale much better. If you love Punk and Indie music, you'll love this movie guaranteed.


 

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Prince of Darkness (1987)
I've seen most of John Carpenter's better films but I'd never seen this one, despite some flaws I really enjoyed it. The romance subplot is rubbish and distracting, Dennis Dun's comic-relief character falls totally flat and is tonally misjudged and the conceit that all the characters have no idea what is going on around them, despite them being there for the explicit purpose of finding out what is going on gets rather silly. Yet, the premise about a priest inviting a team of scientists and students to investigate a bizarre ancient relic, which possibly contains the gestating form of the anti(matter)Christ is fascinating. It's essentially a cerebral spin on the "Teenagers spending a night in a spooky mansion" trope. Donald Pleasence brilliantly plays the priest, a man utterly shattered by having everything he's ever believed proved and disproved in the same revelation. There's a David Cronenberg/'Videodrome' feel to some of it. The swirling green light inside the glass tube FX were really freaky, surrounded by the world's supply of crucifixes and candles.

 

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23 Paces to Baker Street (1956)

I found this movie on a list of films that were similar to a Hitchcock style of mystery/thriller.  Without a doubt, this feels pretty darn close!  This would've been one of Hitch's many masterpieces if he had made it, but without Hitch, it's a solid ride with some nice twists and turns.  For what it's worth, this film gets compared to Rear Window in most reviews with the similarities of a disabled protagonist that the police don't believe as well as the final standoff in a darkened apartment.

Somewhat recently blinded playwright Philip Hannon is residing in London when he is hanging out at a pub, wallowing over a drink as he overhears what may be a kidnapping plot.  The scene of him overhearing what's going on behind him while other sounds are also happening and drowning parts of the conversation out is VERY reminiscent of something you'd see in a Hitchcock film.  The police don't buy into what Philip may or may not have heard, so he investigates with the help of his old flame, played by Vera Miles and his butler, played by Cecil Parker, who adds some light comedic elements throughout. 

Instead of posting the trailer, which certainly has some spoilers in it, the entire movie is on YouTube and looks like a really nice print.  


I hope some of you will give it a look and let me know what you think!
 

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TM2YC said:
Good Vibrations (2013)

You convinced me!  Seems up my alley.  Though I feel like I probably saw the whole movie in that trailer, but I'll check it out anyway.
 

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The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015)
This PBS Documentary does a terrific job of telling the story of the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, unearthing tons of photos, audio and newsreel, plus interviews with many party members and access to previously secret FBI memos. It captures a brief shining moment of defiance, pride, positivity, cooperation, community programming and outreach, before it was beaten back down by waves of government opposition in the form of arrests, wiretaps, infiltration, police intimidation, frame-ups, targeted legislation and state-sanctioned assassinations, in a deliberate counter-intelligence campaign orchestrated by the FBI under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover (plus it didn't help that one or two of the top BPP leaders were nuts).  It could hardly be a more timely watch.

 

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The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
Another Hammer horror corker from Director Terence Fisher. I liked the way this movie really took it's time with the story, we don't even see the Werewolf until the last 10-minutes (the makeup is worth the wait). Usually Lycanthropy is portrayed in films as some sort of genetic aberration, or a transferable disease but here it's like a satanic curse placed on Oliver Reed's character (in his first starring role) because he is the product of a horrific conception and was then born on Christmas day (an old superstition). Reed's presence more than makes up for the absence of any of the other usual Hammer stars.

 

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TM2YC said:
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015)

A film podcast I listen to said this whole thing was up on Youtube (I find a good post of it) and worth a watch.  If you haven't heard of CoIntelPro or learned much about Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Fred Hampton, and Stokely Carmichael (they don't teach this stuff in US school), this will probably blow your mind.  I haven't seen the whole thing yet, but it seems worthwhile even for those who do know a little of the history.  Past is present.
 

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The Beyond aka 7 Doors of Death  (1981)
Lucio Fulci's attempt at Southern Gothic is marred by an incomprehensible plot, no rules or logic to the threat and bad soundFX (though that last one might be my fault for watching it dubbed). It alternates between scenes of the main characters telling each other how spooky everything is and scenes of random disconnected kills of minor characters. I wasn't invested in any of them, so all I got out of it was being impressed with the technical execution of the practical gore FX. If splatter is all you demand of a horror flick, then your thirst for blood will surely be slaked by seeing a man being eaten alive by tarantulas, a woman having her face ripped off by a dog and a schoolgirl's head exploding.

 
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