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A few reviews

TM2YC

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'71 (2014)
Jack O'Connell plays a newly recruited British soldier who finds himself lost "behind the lines" in troubles-era Belfast when a house raid quickly descends into a riot. Unlike other movies where he would be portrayed as a plucky protagonist fighting to get back home, here he's a helpless, bewildered pawn, caught up in the fighting between myriad factions and their own internal struggles. Which of the many people he meets will kill him, or help him is anybody's guess. It's more about the pointless, chaotic, nonsensical nature of sectarian violence, where nobody from child, to adult seems to remember who they are fighting against, or for, or why.  It's all extremely tense, harrowing and well acted but I did have a couple of quibbles with the plotting. At a number of points the script puts O'Connell's soldier in a safe situation, then has to contrive ways to get him back into danger again.  I was struck by how many actors ''71' shares with 'Dunkirk' and 'Good Vibrations'.


 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Spectre. I watched Last Survivor’s edit of this movie. See the review on IFDB for my thoughts on the edit specifically.

This is a lesser Craig Bond movie along with Quantum of Solace, but I still find it better than most Bond movies and I’m generally a fan of the Craig era. That said, almost all of the issues I’ve had with this set of Bond films stems from the decision to treat them as a series or continuous story as opposed to the more one-off nature of the rest of the Bond filmography. Giving Bond more depth with more of a backstory is an admirable goal, but it fails for me most of the time and often the connections become silly, even for Bond. At the heart of that is the backstory that comprises the central issue for this movie. Without spoiling it, it wasn’t necessary, it isn’t needed, and it makes the entire thing feel smaller and sillier. Sadly, adding to this is the usually great Christoph Waltz who fails to sell the super villain as believable at all. The Craig era Bond films have relied more on plausible real world storylines and, as such, this entire movie feels like everyone including Bond must be so woefully incompetent to allow any of this to happen. It’s trying to throwback to the Bond franchise’s more fanciful days, but it ends up undermining itself—and the previous movies—at every turn as a result. Craig is fine as the stoic Bond and Lea Seydoux is fine as the “Bond girl,” but they have a more uncle/niece relationship until they don’t; their relationship is never really sold. It may sound as though I didn’t enjoy this movie, but I did. I think there’s a lot to like and, if taken at face value for a typical Bond entry, it’s better than most.

One off-the-wall sidenote, I found the actor who played “C” to look like the demon lovechild of Mark Ruffalo and Giovanni Ribisi. My wife didn’t see it, but it was all I could think of any time he was on screen. :p
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I watched Last Survivor’s edit of this movie. See the review on IFDB for my thoughts on the edit specifically.

It’s hard for me to judge these old Bond films. They suffer from the success of the franchise. Imitated and parodied endlessly; from Austin Powers to even Nolan movies, the tropes now seem completely cliche. That said, I do think this movie gets a bit of bad rap and certainly Lazenby does. It works best when it does its own thing. The relationship between Bond and Tracy works, in no short degree thanks to the chemistry between Lazenby and Rigg. And that is refreshing. The more serious side of Bond works. But it frustratingly seems to want it both ways. And the sillier Bondisms mostly fall flat. The screenplay itself is puzzling. Again, it seems to want to carry on with Bond as if there’s nothing different, but then it contradicts that often. The worst error is leaving Tracy out of the film for the bulk of the middle only to way-too-conveniently emerge for the last act. I admit I’m revisiting this one because we’re heading to the Jungfrau region and Lauterbrunnen valley in three weeks. And that scenery was fantastic. Overall, I feel like I ended up liking this movie less than I remembered. But, as I said at the outset, I think that may be due in large part to the impact of the Bond series overall. It’s probably been more than 30 years since I last watched it.
 

TM2YC

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Black Sabbath (1963)
'Black Sabbath' aka 'The Three Faces of Fear' ('I tre volti della paura') is a gothic horror anthology from Mario Bava. His trademark vibrant theatrical coloured lighting is in full effect. Boris Karloff introduces the stories and appears in the middle one.  I watched the original Italian cut (rather than the completely different AIP recut), which sadly has Karloff's famous voice dubbed.  The first story 'The Telephone' was the only one I really liked, cleverly set entirely within the bedroom of a call-girl being terrorised by a 'Scream'-esque mystery caller.... but there's a few great twists.  'The Wurdulak' was just a Vampire/Zombie re-hash and the plastic dummy in 'The Drop of Water' was a bit hard not to laugh at. The film is more famous for inspiring the name of the Birmingham Metal band and for it's fun final shot where Karloff is riding a fake horse and the camera pulls back and back to reveal all the studio shenanigans involved in the fakery.


The awesome ending to the Italian version:

 

TM2YC

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Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
I was really into this 3rd Christopher Lee/Hammer/Dracula film at first. There are lovely moments of subtle visual story telling and Rupert Davies is superb in the "not Van Helsing" role. Then for most of the middle of the film it concentrates on two bland young lovers, the hero and heroine, neither of which I much cared about. Although him being a committed atheist who is confronted with a servant of Satan got interesting. Lee plays Dracula as really angry in this one, slapping his underlings across the face and barking orders. The most compelling character and the real hero for me was the cowardly priest of the village Dracula is terrorising, played by Ewan Hooper. He falls under Dracula's spell, killing and disposing of bodies for him but ultimately he finds his faith again and summons up the inner strength to defy his dark master. Director Freddie Francis took the odd decision to shoot many of Lee's scenes with a red/golden filter around the edges of the frame, kinda like when you're taking damage in a first-person-shooter.

 

TM2YC

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Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
The first of a loose new Hammer Dracula continuity shifted to England, in that atmospheric, fog-ridden, 'Jack the Ripper' era, which suits the material very well. It's got a stellar cast of British character actors including Geoffrey Keen, Roy Kinnear and Peter Sallis. The sex and violence is noticeably more X-rated than previous Dracula films. The movie wisely devotes the whole 1st half to the resurrection of the Count, by three outwardly respectable old country gentlemen (but really a trio of debauched perverts) and a Byronic devil worshipper, who all make a pact with Satan in the hopes of tasting new forbidden pleasures. Once Christopher Lee is back from the grave he starts preying on the men and their grown up children. Unlike the last movie, I was really rooting for the determined young hero this time, played by the fantastic Anthony Higgins (from 'The Draughtsman's Contract' and 'Young Sherlock Holmes'). This might be my favourite in the franchise so far (including the original).

 

TM2YC

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The Departed (2006)
I watched 'The Departed' quite a few times when it came out but not for a long while.  The Boston accents are little wobbly at times (to the ears of this Limey), with the actors suddenly throwing in words they'd learned like "carrrps", instead of "cops" and "cwarffee", instead of "coffee" but they're near enough.  I don't really buy the actions of Vera Farmiga's psychiatrist character, flip flopping between the two main characters. I think some kind of reflection on affairs within romantic relationships and "internal affairs" operations was being attempted but it doesn't really connect.  A good reason to resent 'The Departed' is because it's one of those films that Mark Whalberg does once a decade for a top director, in which he's amazing and so reminds people he can actually act, allowing him to spend the rest of his time polluting the multiplexes with two or three lazy performances a year in utter dreck.  But I'm nitpicking, this is still a terrific Martin Scorsese gangster saga.  Jack Nicholson is not the lead but he dominates the film. He rolls every word of dialogue round in his mouth like he's savouring a fine wine. One last spectacular performance for the actor. He's done two pay check rom-coms afterwards but Nicholson basically retired after 'The Departed', probably thinking "I'm not going to top this again".  Stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon can't equal Nicholson's fireworks but they do fine work. The cat-and-mouse plotting gets increasingly tense and convoluted (in a good way) but just when it's beginning to stretch credulity, it suddenly wraps up with a few unexpected (literal) bangs.  I always mean to watch the 2002 Hong Kong movie 'Infernal Affairs', on which 'The Departed' is loosely based but I still haven't.

 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
Yeah, agree with a lot of what you said. Except the "loosely based" part. As a big fan of HK cinema (and the Infernal Affairs series), I was incensed when Scorsese saw the movie about a year after it came out and just straight up jacked it. It's such an example of white privilege that directors like him and Tarantino can supposedly "really love and appreciate" the work of Asian directors, but instead of giving them public credit or getting their films released into wide distribution in the US, they cannibalize them for stories that they can profit from themselves.

The Departed is essentially all of the first Infernal Affairs, with the bookends of Infernal Affairs II. The specifics are changed to be about Boston, but even still, many lines are exactly translated, whole scenes are blocked nearly identically, very specific camera angles that were iconic from the original are stolen for the remake. The psychiatrist relationship doesn't work because it's just a convention of the HK film genre, and those relationships are always paper thin. They do nothing to strengthen it here.

The big addition is in technology. Scorsese smartly works updated tech into the film, especially one significantly-changed scene involving tense text messaging! It's so fricking genius that for that alone The Departed is (sadly, reluctantly) a better film than the original. But I still think these established Hollywood directors are full of it when they express their admiration for modern Asian directors. If you admire them so much, promote their work, don't take it for your own.
 

addiesin

Well-known member
Been watching movies on the free Tubi app.

Johnny Mnemonic
Rewatched this, it's perfect cheesy 90s cyber punk. It has everything, in concept. Ice-T is present and is just slightly less goofy than his role in Tank Girl. There are scenes but no real structure. There is a climax but no ending. It just stops and credits roll. Icing on the cyber cake.

Society
Finally saw this, and... it's fine. Not subtle at all, but I like the hallucinogenic paranoia of the main character and how it's shown so we don't know if he's reliable. If course, he is. Or is he?
Relevant today? Maybe, but it's still schlock with heaps of body horror. Would only recommend if you've already seen the Re-Animator movies and From Beyond and are curious how much farther the makeup could go.
 

TM2YC

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^ 'Society' is probably best experienced randomly found on late night TV, when you have no idea what's in store. Oh, an American teen clique movie eh? then... oh my god! :D

^^ The door maybe swings both ways. I really liked 'Wild Search', the Ringo Lam/Chow Yun-fat rip-off of Peter Weir/Harrison Ford's 'Witness'. I'd totally forgotten that I already owned an old 2nd hand Tartan Asia Extreme DVD of 'Infernal Affairs'.  The picture quality is probably poor but it's Cantonese 5.1.  I'll give it a watch soon.

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Scars of Dracula (1970)
'Scars of Dracula' has a reputation for being one of the weakest of Hammer's Dracula series but I thought it was one of the better sequels. The gore and violence is turned up to a level where it's actually horrifying (earning Hammer one of it's first R-ratings). No amount of laughable bat puppet shots can undercut the terrifically committed performances of Patrick Troughton as Dracula's pitiable servant (very much a 'Grimer Wormtongue' sort) and Michael Gwynn as a grave, doom-saying Priest.

 

TM2YC

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Girlhood (2014)
I assume this was named 'Girlhood' in English territories to trade off Richard Linklater's prominent film 'Boyhood' (released 6-months earlier) but it's original French title is 'Bande de Filles', which would more accurately make the title 'Gang of Girls' because that's exactly what it's about.  Karidja Touré plays Marieme/Vic, an African-French teenager from a poor neighbourhood, trying to negotiate problems at school, an abusive older brother and a hard working but absent mother. As she goes through various stages of self-discovery, identity and exploration of the boundaries of what somebody of her background and gender is expected to be, she is emotionally supported by gang of similar girls, Lady, Adiatou and Fily.  Again, Director Céline Sciamma brilliantly allows us into the personal space of her main character, often following her in silence, observing how the world reacts to her and she to it.  Sciamma makes strong use of the colour blue, most prominently in the celebrated scene where the girls dance joyously and lip synch to 'Diamonds' by Rihanna.  Touré's face is so subtle and expressive, appearing to barely move a muscle but radiating feeling through her eyes.  Sciamma's regular collaborator Jean-Baptiste de Laubier/Para One adds another shimmering synth score.


 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
TM2YC said:
^^ The door maybe swings both ways. I really liked 'Wild Search', the Ringo Lam/Chow Yun-fat rip-off of Peter Weir/Harrison Ford's 'Witness'. I'd totally forgotten that I already owned an old 2nd hand Tartan Asia Extreme DVD of 'Infernal Affairs'.  The picture quality is probably poor but it's Cantonese 5.1.  I'll give it a watch soon.
 
You're right, it for sure goes both ways. That said, it doesn't bother me much when someone working in a smaller film industry borrows or steals from an American filmmaker. They have all the advantages. It's like the difference in satirical comedy vs a comedian using the "it's just a joke" defense to excuse being an a*****e. If you "punch up", they should be able to take it. But "punching down" is using your platform to disempower others. I haven't seen Lam's Wild Search, so I don't know how much of a rip-off it is, but I'd be okay with him punching up. On the other hand, as much as I love it, Tarantino stealing Reservoir Dogs from Lam's City on Fire and then trying for years to evade and deny it is definitely punching down.

I hope you can enjoy Infernal Affairs on its own merits though. I haven't spoken with someone who watched it after watching The Departed. It's sooooo old-school HK.
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
Tarantino stealing Reservoir Dogs from Lam's City on Fire and then trying for years to evade and deny it is definitely punching down.

It did seem dodgy the way he didn't acknowledge it but maybe he was worried about legal action if he admitted anything? The basic plot outline has similarities and a couple of scenes are undeniably closely modelled on CoF but the two films are so massively different in style, tone, execution, setting, characterisation and plotting that it doesn't bother me too much. Plus I'm sure the makers of CoF have profited nicely from the association. I bet 99% of westerners seek out CoF because of the RD contention, I know I did sometime in the 90s.
mnkykungfu said:
I hope you can enjoy Infernal Affairs on its own merits though. I haven't spoken with someone who watched it after watching The Departed. It's sooooo old-school HK.

"old-school HK" is music to my ears.

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Welcome to Chechnya (2020)
A BBC/HBO documentary following the heroic efforts of a team of Russian activists (mostly focusing on the work by Olga Baranova and David Isteev) running an "underground railroad" network getting persecuted gay people out of Chechnya. Mercifully some of the footage of people being attacked has the worst bits edited out but it's still harrowing stuff. Apart from viscerally portraying the intense drama of these people's lives, the documentary is interesting because of it's use of "deep fake" technology. As the victim's lives were in danger, instead of filming them in shadow, or pixelating them out, Director David France choose to replace their faces with those of volunteers. Watching a feature-length film with this process is a new thought-provoking experience, allowing the viewer to read the fear, love, sadness and joy in their expressions, even though you always know you've never seen their actual faces. There is one exception, who bravely chooses to reveal his identity towards the end, in the hope of bringing light to the issue. At the same moment the "deep fake" melts away, revealing his true face, which also serves as a metaphor for people having to hide who they really are. "Deep fake" is definitely going to be used for lies but this shows it can also be used to reveal truth.

W2C_VFX_shoot_juxtaposed_1.jpg


 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
TM2YC said:
mnkykungfu said:
Tarantino stealing Reservoir Dogs from Lam's City on Fire and then trying for years to evade and deny it is definitely punching down.

It did seem dodgy the way he didn't acknowledge it but maybe he was worried about legal action if he admitted anything? The basic plot outline has similarities and a couple of scenes are undeniably closely modelled on CoF but the two films are so massively different in style, tone, execution, setting, characterisation and plotting that it doesn't bother me too much. Plus I'm sure the makers of CoF have profited nicely from the association. I bet 99% of westerners seek out CoF because of the RD contention, I know I did sometime in the 90s.

I think Ringo Lam and Chow Yun Fat have enough fans that they probably didn't grab some whole new audience from QT fans seeking them out. Maybe they got more awareness among people who would've watched them eventually anyway, but that's not the same as Lam getting paid royalties.  I have a buddy who's a huge Tarantino fan and he typically defends his "homages" as
1. Everyone steals
2. Tarantino changes the scenes enough to make them his own
3. It's done from appreciation of the source material, not for personal benefit
I'd say there's some truth to all those arguments on their surface, but when you look at the context of what he's stealing next to how it was originally presented, it puts the lie to all of them. I won't hijack the thread with this, but if you're interested, there's a good video that shows how Reservoir Dogs-City on Fire is essentially like Desperado-El Mariachi: half-remake and half-sequel. Only in this case the lower budget film that occurs partly first is Tarantino's...he just didn't have the money to film the actual heist, so he had the characters describe it instead. (clearly, SPOILERS):
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Dune (1984). There’s no way I could write an unbiased review at this point. I’m fairly certain the movie fails as a stand-alone work as it spends too much time on clunky exposition without actually making things make sense for the non-initiates. Having read the book, I know what is going on. And, strangely, I feel the book is both required reading for that purpose, but also you have to forget about the book entirely and enjoy the movie on its own merits. A tough thing to do. And that is what this movie is: a movie of contradictions. It’s too long and yet feels rushed in crucial places. It’s got some amazing aesthetics, but the effects are dodgy and seem afterthoughts.

Lynch, predictably, leans in on the weird and I think that is the movie’s greatest strength. But it does also get too cartoonish. As I said, I have no trouble following the movie but I can easily see why many would. In my opinion, the exposition heavy first half is much better than the rushed second half. Unfortunately, it’s the second half—once Paul and Jessica are in the desert—where the most interesting story developments exist. But the events happen so quickly without much development at all. Paul and Chani love each other... because they are supposed to because of a dream, I guess. I can’t imagine how all of that plays to someone who hasn’t read the book. In general, I have a soft spot for the movie. I love the aesthetic and the weirdness. But I think it’s reputation as a glorious mess is well earned as well. But I honestly feel sorry for those who only see the mess and don’t see its gloriousness.

There are many versions that circulate. I highly recommend the longer versions, which is what I’ve talked about here. I don’t even remember what the theatrical is like, but I have to imagine it amps up all of the flaws I’ve talked about here. I honestly wish someone could get the money to interest Lynch in restoring this to a four hour version. I know much necessary footage was probably never shot, but a man can dream.

I watched @"15MaF"’s Dune Deluxe edit. See the database for a full review of the edit.
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:

QT definitely pinched a few elements but very little percentage wise IMO. I've seen that old essay before. It's easy to make a persuasive argument that two films are identical when you're only presenting a few minutes of footage and ignoring the majority which is not similar. There is a humorous youtube channel devoted to doing that :D :



IMO, RD is not "a ripoff" of CoF but QT did rip some elements and should've acknowledged it. I don't think it even rises to an on-screen credit, just some vocal credit and respect given.

Moe_Syzlak said:
Dune (1984)... without actually making things make sense for the non-initiates. Having read the book, I know what is going on.

I watched @"15MaF"’s Dune Deluxe edit. See the database for a full review of the edit.

For what it's worth, I first watched Dune84 as a kid (and many times since) and had no problem understanding any of it. I only read the book for the first time last year. It fleshed out some minor "oh so that's who that guy standing in the background was" type moments, that's all.

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Drama Out of a Crisis: A Celebration of Play for Today (2020)
The 1970-1984 BBC 'Play for Today' strand of about 300 weekly plays and TV films was before my time, so I've only seen a few of them like 'Scum' and 'Penda's Fen'. The remit was to make challenging, controversial, provocative dramas, questioning the establishment and shedding light on overlooked areas of society. At a time when people in the UK only had three TV channels to choose from, these intelligent and often bleak plays could still get millions of viewers and capture the zeitgeist. This 90-minute 50th anniversary documentary runs through the whole history of the project and features loads of clips from the best of the films. They also interview many of the producers, writers and directors, some of which have gone on to be famous film makers like Alan Clarke, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.

 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
TM2YC said:
For what it's worth, I first watched Dune84 as a kid (and many times since) and had no problem understanding any of it. I only read the book for the first time last year. It fleshed out some minor "oh so that's who that guy standing in the background was" type moments, that's all.

Yeah that’s me too. I saw the movie first. I can’t remember if I saw it on the theater but I’d definitely seen it a few times before reading the book a few years after the movie. But the movie being hard to understand and overly complicated is one of the main criticisms of the movie.
 
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