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A few reviews

mnkykungfu

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Wait, what did I miss?  Did Breitbart become an outlet for unbiased facts?  Also, maybe better to stick to trade articles so as to not bring politics too much into this wonderful little respite from that world?
 

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skyled said:
Breitbart, which I'm sure is your favorite site Gaith, did a little article on some inaccuracies on season 2 of Narcos: Mexico. The first 2 of the 5 that they go over are very different than what is on the show and pretty disturbing. It shows that these guys will absolutely get revenge and it'll be much worse than what they show on tv.

Well, no, not really, because the series did show those points, more or less. ;)

Shifting the murders of El Guero Palma to Félix Gallardo's orders doesn't really square with his character as the show otherwise presents it, but it is a fitting end to Walt's arc (for now, at least) that he doesn't end up having anything to do with the cause of Félix's ultimate downfall.
 

mnkykungfu

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skyled said:
Facts don't have a bias.

Rather than responding to that... could we just not post things from political outlets on here?  Not my thread, but does anyone else feel similarly?
 

skyled

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The link I posted was directly related to the show that Gaith was reviewing, and completely relevant. Just because it's from a news outlet that you hate doesn't mean they don't write articles that cover current events and pop culture, nor does it mean it's not factually correct.

My opinion was that relating to these incidents, Netflix took dramatic license when they definitely should not have, especially since the facts were known. The first season set up Felix as the underdog that you wanted to root for who morphed into a power-hungry monster. The second season had to give you somebody new to root for and since DEA Walt wasn't that compelling, they wanted you to root for the other cartel bosses.

When the one cartel boss's wife and kids are killed and his buddy is murdered and it's all linked back to blame on Felix, when in reality it wasn't is just making drama. When he gets revenge by quickly killing the guy with a baseball bat, you think it's a well deserved killing, but not overly brutal. It's trying to make these guys seem normal and sympathetic. The reality is that the guy took revenge by kidnapping, torturing, and dismembering the murderer and his sons, who weren't even involved. It's no longer a husband and father getting even, but one monstrous psychopath killing another monstrous psychopath. It makes them hard to root for, but maybe the viewer shouldn't be rooting for them in the first place?

I see it kind of like Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood: you don't like him in the beginning and by the end you hate him.
 

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skyled said:
When the one cartel boss's wife and kids are killed and his buddy is murdered and it's all linked back to blame on Felix, when in reality it wasn't is just making drama.

That's what series which dramatize history do, yes.

For dramatic purposes, the show needed some reason for Félix Gallardo's arrest, so they fudged history to assign him one. Showing Palma murdering Clavel's family would have distracted from the Gallardo/Breslin story at hand.
 

TM2YC

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The Exorcist III (1990)
This isn't quite up their with the first film but it's still good and successfully walks the line of feeling like a natural progression of the story (but skipping over the events of the hated 'Exorcist II: The Heretic'), a fitting sequel and very much doing it's own thing. You need to mentally squint a bit to get past the part about the three characters professing their life-long friendship for each other but actually having barely met (or never met, depending on which cut of the first film you saw). I don't mind a little "retconning" like that when it's needed to make the whole film work, plus these characters do belong to writer/director/author William Peter Blatty. Barry De Vorzon delivers an innovative music-less score, resorting to strange and unsettling synthesizer treated noises, it's very effective.  Blatty's direction is classy and methodical and his dialogue is pleasingly cynical, blackly comic and lyrical.  George C. Scott rants and raves like a lunatic, growling his way through the script in a wonderful way that suggests he's having a 2-hour heart attack.  Brad Dourif is mesmerizing as the possessed serial-killer antagonist. The last act's exorcism and the sudden appearance of the priest character who performs it feels every bit the studio mandated re-shoot that it was. On it's own, it's a pretty cool sequence with physics being upended via rotating sets, wincing gore FX and stunning portal-to-hell imagery. It's more 'Hellraiser' than 'Exorcist'.

There is an upload of the 35mm trailer on youtube... neat!



After watching the theatrical cut, I immediately changed discs and watched the reconstruction of Blatty's originally intended 'Legion' cut with an insight-packed commentary by critics Mark Kermode and Kim Newman over the top. Unfortunately the editors only managed to find a few scraps of actual 35mm film from this early version and mostly have to resort to blurry VHS tapes. In this version, there is no exorcism and Jason Miller (as Father Karras) doesn't appear. On the evidence here and for the most part, it might have been a slightly better version of the film but the ending is anti-climactic in comparison, so I can see why the studio wanted it re-shot. Also Miller's appearance in the TC adds some much needed emotion, heroism, closure and a stronger connection to the first film.


Death, Be Not Proud: The Making of 'The Exorcist III' (2016)
A feature-length documentary in 5-chapters about the making of 'The Exorcist III' included on the blu-ray. Unfortunately this doc came just a little too late to include the late Director William Peter Blatty. His thoughts and feelings on the different versions and visions of the film is what you really wanted to hear. Never the less, interviewees like actor Brad Dourif and composer Barry De Vorzon talk with passion about the project and I love hearing about all the dramas behind a troubled production.

 

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The Conversation. A great film often overlooked as it was Coppola’s film in between his two Godfather films. It works on so many levels: an espionage thriller, a psychological thriller, a character study, an examination of privacy in society coming on the heels of Watergate, an examination of perception and bias. For my money, this is Hackman’s best performance. He carries the film. His Harry Caul is simultaneously a legend in his field and also seemingly somewhat of a fraud and a loser. Technically the movie is incredible. The opening scene in Union Square is a marvel. The editing throughout by the legendary Walter Murch is basically a character in the film. My only gripe is the dream sequence. While I understand its purpose, I don’t feel it’s necessary and, for me, it disturbs the movie’s flow.

While it is nowhere near as great as The Conversation, I quite enjoyed Enemy of the State, which features Hackman playing his Harry Caul role in everything but name. I was thinking it’s time for another such unofficial sequel focusing on modern surveillance. Not just surveillance, but how social media et al is giving those who surveil the public windows into our blind spots and are able to successfully manipulate us by feeding us misinformation that conforms to the desired confirmation biases. Here’s hoping it would be as intelligent as The Conversation.
 

TM2YC

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True History of the Kelly Gang (2019)
Justin Kurzel directs an irreverent, punk spirited, deconstructed biopic of Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly. The conceit is that what we think we know is "history written by the victors" but Kelly actually wrote down his own "true" life story (addressed to his fictional daughter). This imagined version of Kelly orchestrates a revolutionary, cross-dressing cult, under the incestuous influence of his emotionally abusive and manipulative mother. There are many visually inventive and strangely beautiful sequences, like the "starlight" shoot-out, Nicholas Hoult delivering a monologue in nothing but sock suspenders and a pipe, and the long gliding opening (drone?) shot following Kelly's father (in a flowing red dress) galloping through a forest on a horse. Kurzel also takes the unusual decision to slowly and imperceptibly narrow the film's aspect-ratio across it's 2-hours from 1.85:1, to 2.35:1.  I think it's supposed to be symbolic of the inevitability Kelly is feeling.  George MacKay is sensational as always in the lead (Orlando Schwerdt also brilliantly plays a younger Kelly in the opening act) and 'The Babadook's Essie Davis is pretty terrifying as the mother.  A cantankerous Russell Crowe as older outlaw Harry Power is so good and not in the film for nearly long enough. If you're tired of the traditional biopic formula, this one might fit the bill.



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Arrietty (2010)
Had I realised this was an Anime adaptation of 'The Borrowers', I'd have sought this Studio Ghibli film out much sooner. Apart from the lovely characters and gorgeous animation, much of the pleasure is derived from seeing the miniature improvisations that are dreamed up for Arrietty and her family. A tea caddy as a chest of drawers, a fishing hook as a grapple, earrings as climbing gear and one of those tiny fish-shaped sushi Soy bottles being used as a water flask was my favourite. I loved the attention to detail in how things behaved at scale, like with relative water tension, so one drop fills a miniature tea cup, or one big round tear running from Arrietty's eye. The score by French folk harpist Cecile Corbel is particularly beautiful.


 

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^ Well, that (Kelly Gang) sounds tortuous. :p




Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Ford_v._Ferrari_%282019_film_poster%29.png

 
TM2YC said:
Okay this is fully fueled with sports and race movie cliches but it's so damned entertaining.

I've got naught but contempt for the "sport" (nope) of car racing. That said, I do dig history/period flicks, and at least the cars in this movie look like cars, and not the gross F1 open cockpit or wavy-looking aerodynamic messes soaked in corporate branding seen since the 70s, as I glean from stills of Ron Howard's Rush. We're burning fossil fuels and cooking the planet for this? At least boxers only beat each others' brains into mush.

However, Christian Bale and Matt Damon are great here, and James Mangold gives Michael Bay a run for his money in terms of sunset shots per minute. Above all, I was pleasantly surprised that the movie is straightforward and unapologetic about its portrayal of pretty much everyone involved as self-serving pricks: Damon's character is a petty thief, a nuisance to public roads, and happy to win by flouting the gentlemanly conventions of the contest - and he's the likable one. As for the historical ending, which I didn't see coming... welp, as they say, you go to a Smash Mouth concert during a global pandemic, you get coronavirus, so don't look for sympathy here.

A highly enjoyable flick, and a worthy $4 used Redbox blu purchase.

Grade: B+
 

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Free Solo (2018)
This documentary about climber Alex Honnold's goal to "free solo" El Capitan (so no ropes and climbing gear... or Spock in rocket boots there to catch you ;) ) didn't quite live up to the hype for me.  The pacing was a bit off, slow in the middle and takes too long to get to the actual climb and then rushes right through it. I'd almost have preferred to watch the 4-hour climb in real time, instead of the exhilarating but short 7-minute highlights reel.  Honnold's complex personality and chosen way of life is fascinating but the film didn't dig enough to get answers.  Is he the way he is because he free solos, or does he free solo because of the way he is? The choice to document the difficulties of documenting his endeavour was a wise one but again it didn't go into enough technical detail for me. Still, despite some nitpicks this is often edge-of-the-seat viewing.


Thankfully, there are some youtube videos to be found that cover some of the making-of details that I thought were glossed over:


 

mnkykungfu

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^Then I will eagerly await the Hollywood dramatization no doubt in development now.  :p
 

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Inception (2010) (US Amazon Prime)

7842506-C1fy9.jpg


About 2/3rds of the way through my second-ever viewing (and the first not on a measly laptop screen), I wondered, Was I wrong about this? Is it, in fact, a great flick? By the end, however, I was back to Nah, it's fine. The multi-dream level heist montage is thrilling, but the emotional climax, where Dom achieves closure by saying goodbye to his own warped mental specter of his late wife, lands with a thud of "Who cares?" Dom isn't a likable protagonist, the audience is never shown the real Mal at her best, and the goal of sabotaging one corporation so another corporation can takes its place lacks any kind of rooting interest, so once the heist is completed, the rest just falls flat.

The question of whether Dom is still dreaming or not at the end, moreover, is laughable, in that there's no reason whatsoever to think he might be - because someone would have to be running a dream simulation on him, and to what end? Sure, he's doubtless learned sensitive information as a thought extractor, but there's no hint that tricking him into thinking he's reuniting with his kids will get him to divulge anything.

I respect Nolan's desire to tell a precise, logical story about directed dreams that doubles as a metaphor for filmmaking, and the twist that Dom caused his wife's suicide by planting a depressive disorder in her mind is a haunting one. But for this story to have really worked, he should have been much more dissolute, and the last act should have been a lot weirder.

Grade: B


... Hey, look, it's Rosa "Battle Angel" Salazar!

 

Moe_Syzlak

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Gaith said:
Inception (2010) (US Amazon Prime)

Agreed. This is probably my favorite Nolan movie (it would be Prestige if Nolan could’ve restrained himself). It works as a blockbuster heist movie for me and I’m admittedly a sucker for heist movies. But despite being able to get good performances from his actors, he never seems able to make me care about the characters. Still, I enjoy this movie, though I think I’d like your version even more.
 

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Skyfall. I watched Last Survivor’s Skyfallen edit. I think this is one of the better Bond movies and for me it is the most beautiful to look at (@TM2YC is insane in his dislike of Deakins :p ). But it’s a movie that is clearly trying to raise the bar. And as such it needs to be judged that way. In my opinion it fails to achieve what it clearly set out to do. It wants to make you think about themes such as how expendable human capital is in military and intelligence, the changing nature of conflict in the world, among other things. But the movie merely pays them lip service and doesn’t rise to its own challenges. That’s why, for me, Casino Royale remains the best of the Craig era Bond movies.
 

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The Promise (2016)     (US Netflix)

The-Promise-1170x657.jpg


The Promise is an historic film. It's the first major Western narrative feature about the Armenian Genocide, in which ~1.5m were killed, and it's a $100m-budgeted movie whose proceeds went entirely to charity. Not that there were any proceeds, alas - despite starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, with English spoken throughout and a PG-13 rating, it was a box-office bomb. It was largely financed by Las Vegas resorts magnate Kirk Kerkorian, who, despite buying MGM studios in 1969, wasn't able to get a picture depicting the genocide off the ground until approving the script shortly before his death... And now the virtually unseen big-budget picture has hit US Netflix. (Note: the blu-ray is 2.35:1, but the Netflix stream is 16:9. Apart from a few oddly close shots, however, I didn't notice any obvious cropping.)

So: how is it? Most critics weren't harsh on it, exactly, but they weren't too kind, either; most didn't care for the fictional romance melodrama. From Wiki:

[Producer] Esrailian said that he used a romance plot in order to "use old fashioned storytelling" to immerse an unfamiliar audience into the plot, hoping to avoid making the film only "a history lesson" and making a "throwback to cinema" like Doctor Zhivago or Lawrence of Arabia; in another interview he also cited Casablanca. Esrailian stated that he would have encountered less difficulty producing "a straightforward genocide story" but chose to use the romance angle anyway.

True, the story isn't amazing, but it worked well enough for me. Isaac and Bale are strong as always, Charlotte Le Bon is very cute, the production values are first-rate, and the whole thing is generally worth a watch, especially for historical war movie fans. (Also, I totally didn't recognize the always-great Tom Hollander under a particularly bushy beard, though I should have.)

Grade: B+
 

TM2YC

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^ I've been meaning to see that one (who doesn't love Tom Hollander and Oscar Isaac) and then afterwards I'd be curious to watch 'The Ottoman Lieutenant', which was released a few weeks before 'The Promise' and co-funded by Turkey as an allegedly a-historical rebuttal to the other film. It's also got some fairly big names in it.

Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)
I was ready to love this belated sequel after some very positive reviews, plus it opens with the classic Orion logo which put a big nostalgic smile on my face but about 30-seconds into the first scene I was thinking "oooooh no". It was only 38-minutes after that that I got the first laugh when Bill pulls a gun on Bill and the second laugh came 13-seconds from end with Bill saying the word "Nurse". The rest is a comedy wasteland. Any fun moments are all from Alex Winter's Bill, he's back in the role like he never left, where as Keanu Reeves is so flat and depressing. It makes me wonder if Reeves hasn't become a more serious actor over the years, he's just become a more serious person in real life and now he can't work out how to play the lovable doofus any more.

The FX look embarrassingly cheap, to the point where I suspect they'd done little more than pre-viz FX, then the lockdown happened, cinemas closed and so the studio tactically decided to not waste further money on it.  I hated the distracting half-arsed cameos by 2nd-rung SNL people. The narrative is all over the place and full of dropped subplots and incoherent writing. The script clearly makes a real effort to keep it in line with the continuity of the previous movie which I appreciated but it still feels like the premise massively deflates the crowd pleasing ending to 'Bogus Journey'. I sincerely wish I'd enjoyed this as much as everybody else :( .


 

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Tenet. Ugh, where to begin. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but I still don’t recommend reading this if you haven’t seen it. First, I’ll say I wasn’t bored. It’s a perfectly fine action flick with the traditional two dimensional characters and plot contrivances (a character literally says “don’t think about it too much” at one point). But... this felt like every criticism I’ve ever heard of Nolan amped up to eleven. Characters we don’t care about doing things that seem to lack proper motivation. I just asked my wife, “can you tell me a single character’s name in that movie last night?” She said, “I feel like Richard [sic] Pattinson had a name.” I cared not a lick for anyone and the stakes never felt real. I didn’t find it particularly difficult to understand; once you understand the central conceit, it’s pretty straightforward. But I think much of the confusion stems from the fact that whole scenes and set pieces don’t feel relevant to the story. Most of the action of the first half seems shoehorned in order to allow the audience and the main character to connect the dots at the end. It’s as if Nolan started with an idea “wouldn’t it be cool to shoot an action scene where half of it is moving forward in time and half is moving backwards in time” and then feebly constructed a plot to allow him to shoot those scenes. None of the action really matters to the story and the plot and the explanations of what is going on in the central conceit are conveyed through lengthy dialogue. Finally, if you do take it as just a fun action romp—a rollercoaster of sorts—I feel it needs to have more charisma. John David Washington, while fine, just couldn’t carry the movie in my opinion. This needed a very charismatic leading man. I guess they thought Denzel in his prime would’ve been perfect—and he would’ve been—but his son ain’t that. The action is fun but I didn’t think it was the sort of thing that you’ll regret not seeing on the big screen. For me, it’s a “rent it.”
 

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Gaith said:
The Promise (2016)     (US Netflix)

The-Promise-1170x657.jpg


The Promise is an historic film. It's the first major Western narrative feature about the Armenian Genocide, in which ~1.5m were killed, and it's a $100m-budgeted movie whose proceeds went entirely to charity. Not that there were any proceeds, alas - despite starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, with English spoken throughout and a PG-13 rating, it was a box-office bomb. It was largely financed by Las Vegas resorts magnate Kirk Kerkorian, who, despite buying MGM studios in 1969, wasn't able to get a picture depicting the genocide off the ground until approving the script shortly before his death... And now the virtually unseen big-budget picture has hit US Netflix. (Note: the blu-ray is 2.35:1, but the Netflix stream is 16:9. Apart from a few oddly close shots, however, I didn't notice any obvious cropping.)

So: how is it? Most critics weren't harsh on it, exactly, but they weren't too kind, either; most didn't care for the fictional romance melodrama. From Wiki:

[Producer] Esrailian said that he used a romance plot in order to "use old fashioned storytelling" to immerse an unfamiliar audience into the plot, hoping to avoid making the film only "a history lesson" and making a "throwback to cinema" like Doctor Zhivago or Lawrence of Arabia; in another interview he also cited Casablanca. Esrailian stated that he would have encountered less difficulty producing "a straightforward genocide story" but chose to use the romance angle anyway.

True, the story isn't amazing, but it worked well enough for me. Isaac and Bale are strong as always, Charlotte Le Bon is very cute, the production values are first-rate, and the whole thing is generally worth a watch, especially for historical war movie fans. (Also, I totally didn't recognize the always-great Tom Hollander under a particularly bushy beard, though I should have.)

Grade: B+
 
TM2YC said:
^ I've been meaning to see that one (who doesn't love Tom Hollander and Oscar Isaac) and then afterwards I'd be curious to watch 'The Ottoman Lieutenant', which was released a few weeks before 'The Promise' and co-funded by Turkey as an allegedly a-historical rebuttal to the other film. It's also got some fairly big names in it.

Oooooooh. Touchy subject.

I don't want to get into the politics too much but I will say that I'm not surprised the film that's anti-Turk was the more successful one while the one that's a rebuttal and collaborated with the Turks was the one that bombed and was panned  :dodgy:  although maybe Ottoman Lieutenant really does suck because I haven't heard too many positive things about it here either.

I apologize, I just find it hypocritical and infuriating that people hold us accountable for an alleged tragedy comitted by a dying empire (among many others) while things like European colonists, the genociders of Native Americans, or slavers are continued to be glorified in shit like Hamilton :mad:


EDIT: Ach, never mind. I won’t speak more about it I just wanted to get that out
 

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On the Basis of Sex (2018)
If you dislike formulaic biopics, then keep well clear of this Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie but if like me you love legal dramas, then there's just enough to hold your attention.  The daughter felt more like an "on the nose" surrogate for millennial viewers and a clunky plot device to motivate Felicity Jones' RBG, rather than an actual character.  Armie Hammer's infectious charm is always welcome and Kathy Bates steals the movie with her two scenes. I thought it focused too much on RBG's family life and struggles as a woman in a "man's world" (and didn't do either particularly well) to the detriment of portraying her much more interesting legal battles in sufficient detail, which in a better written film could've been used to illustrate the two former issues.  Those problems are similar to the ones in 2019's Marie Curie biopic 'Radioactive'. If you're going to make bipocs about trailblazing women, you should probably get women to write them.

 
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