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A few reviews

Gaith

Well-known member
Faneditor
Alpha (2018)

Alpha.jpg


When I was a kid, I had a picture book called The First Dog, about the first wolf to bond with a prehistoric cave boy. Alpha is basically an uncredited adaptation of that movie, with the humans speaking a made-up primitive language. Sounds like a slam dunk, eh?

Unfortunately, the movie has two significant problems. First, there are completely unnecessary subtitles for the human dialogue - maybe these can be disabled on a Blu-ray, but I rented the flick from Amazon Prime, where subs were burned in. (They did look different from those seen on Blu-ray.com screencaps, though, so there's hope.) Secondly, and more significantly, the movie goes way over the top in terms of geography and action, with the human surviving impossible falls, and repeatedly building fires with no fuel in sight. Likewise, the scenery, while often beautiful, is far too varied to be believable, with comically exaggerated geographical features. At least they got the most important part right: the wolf is a real animal, and the bonding scenes are well-done.

Despite the decently intense (PG-13) action, this is probably best suited to more adventurous audiences in the 6-12 range, who are perhaps too young to mind the aforementioned excesses. If the Blu-ray doesn't offer a subtitle-free option, a fan edit would do well to create just that, as well as trim some of the more outlandish bits. Had the movie been more realistic, it could have been a classic. As is, it's pretty okay.

Grade (without subs): B 
Grade (with subs): B-
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
Scrooged (1988)
When I was a kid, I thought 'Scrooged' was a little too mean spirited for a Christmas film and re-watching it as an adult, I still think it's too mean spirited but I was appreciating the dark satirical humour a lot more.  It wants to have it's sentimental Christmas-Cake and eat it too, so while the story is about a guy making a crass, violent, vulgar version of "Scrooge" (not a 'A Christmas Carol' because presumably we're too dumb to know the actual title of a book), the film itself is a crass, vulgar version of the story but wraps up with a treacly ending anyway.  In fact, Frank Cross' Christmas special with it's sexy dancers and acrobats looks positively wholesome, next to Richard Donner's vision of the story with reanimated corpses, frozen hobos, guns, burning alive, heart attacks, alcoholism, a "Tiny Tim" who is traumatized by witnessing the murder of his father, a 'Ghost of Christmas Past' with lung cancer, a shrieking, violent Tinker Bell version of the 'Ghost of Christmas Present' who makes jokes about rough sex and a 'Ghost of Christmas Future' that looks like a Cenobite from 'Hellraiser'Bill Murray looks bored, so he often shouts and raves to make it look like he's putting in some effort.  There's a fine line between dead pan and dead behind the eyes.  I don't hate 'Scrooged', Alfre Woodard and Karen Allen are delightful, it's very funny in a lot of places but it's got tonal problems.

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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Possibly the ultimate Christmas movie, even rivalling 'It's a Wonderful Life' for me.  What makes it work so well is that it puts as much effort into the hilarious Muppet shenanigans, as it does into telling the Dickens story with gravitas.  So you can laugh and love this as a child and then it grows with you, getting richer every year.  Many an actor would take one look at Kermit and Miss Piggy and just phone it in, or mug for the camera but Michael Caine plays it like he's going for the Oscar.  The bit where he sings a little duet with Scrooge's lost love, his voice breaking from the emotion, makes my lip wobble every time (you need to watch the uncut version with that bit in of course).  It's second only to the moment when Beaker gives him a little red scarf at the end and you see on Caine's face how much this first small spontaneous gesture of gratitude finally and completely melts Scrooge's hardened heart.  He's aided by the warmth of Miles Goodman's beautifully festive score and Paul Williams' joyful songs (he also wrote the songs for 'Bugsy Malone').  The production and Brian Henson's direction is first class too, using a German Expressionist style for sets, with distorted doors and buildings looming over you.  The landscape in the 'When Love Is Gone' scene is like you're inside an old fashioned Christmas card and the 'Citizen Kane'-style dissolve from that scene, to Scrooge alone in his bedroom is near perfect.

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TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
Mario Puzo's The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone aka The Godfather Part III (1990)
While this new version of GF3 might be an improvement, it's a marginal one.  It's sadly not what it could, or should've been.  @"Spicediver" 's excellent 2012 fanedit 'The Godfather Epilogue' showed the way on this one.  It opened in grand style by putting the full version of the bishop meeting at the start, in true Godfather fashion.  'The Godfather Coda' also puts that scene back at the start but in a much truncated version without the elegant poetry.  In whatever form, the new positioning dramatically changes the meaning of the scenes that follow it.  Francis Ford Coppola has added a couple of alternate angles featuring much more extreme violence, which really brought the shock factor up to the level of the first two films.  A gangster film needs grit like that.  The other changes are mainly not to add things but to cut scenes like the cathedral opening and a small trim to end, which is slightly worse.  If you don't own GF3 already, I'd buy this version but in the much more likely case that it's in your Godfather trilogy boxset, then don't bother getting this version as well, it's not that different.

I do actually like GF3 but it's clearly not in the same league as the first two.  One of the things that I find off putting about GF3 is Al Pacino.  He wasn't the same actor in 1990 (or today) that he was in 1972-1974, his subtlety, soft spoken malevolence and stillness has gone, replaced by gravelly voiced shouting and hand waving.  Then Coppola made the decision to restyle his hair from slicked back, to spiky and coiffured, plus dressed him in cardigans and loose fitting slacks instead of sharp business suits.  Those would be minor issues but when combined with the change in acting style, the change in Pacino after 16-years and the portrayal of a kinder, wiser Michael, softened by age (as it should be), then you have a total disconnect, as if this is a completely different character.  Like GF2 the final part is again hampered by actors not returning, which is a real shame because if you know these films, you can see that Coppola has made a real effort to bring back lots of the secondary cast from GF2 and GF1.  They're all over the place, often for tiny one line cameos, not as fan service but as background flavour for this world.  Robert Duvall didn't come back and George Hamilton is a weak replacement lawyer character.  Corrado Gaipa was going to return as Don Tommasino but unfortunately died the year before.  Considering he wasn't that famous an actor outside of Italy and 16-years had passed, Coppola only needed to find an actor that vaguely looked and sounded like Tommasino and we'd have not noticed but Vittorio Duse couldn't be less like him.  Eli Wallach and Joe Mantegna are well cast as the new antagonists.

Sofia Coppola is an amazing film Director but sh cannot act and her trying to pull off romantic chemistry with Andy Garcia is painful to watch.  Garcia is so fantastic as the tempestuous Vincent, every little movement is unpredictable, each second he's on screen is electric.  It's such a shame that Mario Puzo died before he and Coppola could write a planned 4th film.  IIRC it would've been structured like GF2 with an older Robert De Niro playing a middle-aged Don Vito, gaining the Corleone family it's power, cut with Garcia's Don Vincenzo losing the power in a spiral of violence.  One thing that GF3 nails, is the 'Cavalleria Rusticana' Opera finale.  The silent scream technique has been copied so many times.  As has intercutting an assassination attempt going on while an Opera is being performed (although Alfred Hitchcock had done something similar).   They've done it in the James Bond film 'Quantum of Solace', in 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' and even Sci-Fi fantasy 'The Fifth Element'.  GF3 is based on real events from the years in which it's set, the Vatican banking scandal, US Archbishop Paul Marcinkus' alleged involvement with the New York Mafia, the sudden (and some say, suspicious) death of Pope John Paul I around the same time and the murder/suicide by hanging of the Vatican's top banker Roberto Calvi.  The deaths of the last two are recreated exactly by Coppola.  This gives GF3's plot a strong parallel universe believability, beyond the references to Cuba, the Kennedys and Mafia connected crooners in the other films.

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Death to 2020 (2020)
I don't resent Charlie Brooker for his Hollywood success with 'Black Mirror' on Netflix but I do resent him not having the time to do his annual edition of his 'Charlie Brooker's 20-- Wipe' UK TV show for the BBC.  He'd done it for 7-years in a row and it was the thing on TV I looked forward to the most.  Sitting on his couch annihilating everybody from the world of news and entertainment with his grouchy wit.  So I was excited by the announcement of his new Netflix special 'Death to 2020' because it sounded an awful lot like the premise for 'Wipe'.  Unfortunately it is very much the same idea (same music choices, some of the same faces) but it's so much less edgy and not quite as funny.  Roping in a load of A-list celebs to read Brooker's waspish witticisms for him and the glossy expensive looking presentation is at odds with Brooker's formerly irreverent tone.  'Wipe' felt so anti-establishment and taboo busting, this just feels like the establishment having a little dig at itself.  Also it's kind of awkward that Brooker is pitching it Mid-Atlantic, wanting to rip into British life in 2020 but has to keep it friendly for a US audience. However, it's still easily one of the funniest comedy specials you'll find on Netflix.  Laurence Fishburne was a great narrator, Cristin Milioti is gleefully terrifying as the "Karen" to end all Karens, Lisa Kudrow plays the ultimate White House spokesperson and Hugh Grant was a hoot as a ridiculous aged historian claiming the Battle of Endor really happened.

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Brooker did deliver a full-strength Covid 'Wipe' special earlier in the year so I shouldn't complain too much:

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TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
The Beguiled (2017)
Sofia Coppola does her version of the same Southern-Gothic novel adapted in Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood's 1971 film.  An injured, deserting Union solder (Colin Farrell) stumbles onto a Southern girls school.  Rather than turn him in to Confederate forces right away, the ladies decide to nurse him back to health first but their competing feelings for the stranger turn to jealousy and violence.  The diffuse sunlit meadows outside the school looked sublime and intoxicating but some of the dark candle lit interiors were a little hard to make out.  The story takes a while to get going and never fully embraces the phycological horror which it seems to be moving toward.  It's all very well acted and well shot but felt slight.

This trailer makes it out to be a full-on, deranged, haunted house, horror thriller.  The retooling of innocuous bits of footage and dialogue, reordered to make them seem like something else is an impressive (if dishonest) piece of editing.  I kind of wish the movie was a bit more like this...

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Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
My impression is that Studio Ghibli's first film 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky' gets talked about less than some of Hayao Miyazaki's others but it's really fantastic.  I wasn't that impressed at first because it seemed stuck in a chaotic chase-scene/dialogue-scene loop but once you get to know the characters and they set off on their quest, the story just gets richer and richer.  A girl and a boy, Sheeta and Pazu go in search a legendary kingdom in the clouds but pirates and government agents are in pursuit of them and the treasure they believe Laputa contains.  It's set in a cool Jules Verne/H.G. Wells style Steampunk alternate world, merging elements of an 18th Century Welsh mining village, the German Empire and Greco-Roman architecture.  There are pirate airships, death-ray shooting iron giants, steam engines, ornithopters, magic crystals and da Vinci flying contraptions.  Their is a definite 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' element to the plot, with everybody in search of a beautiful and terrible knowledge that only the heroes have the necessary fear and respect for.  I loved how Captain Dola and her pirate gang developed across the the film from antagonists, to protagonists.  The one odd thing was how Sheeta is drawn like she's 12-years old but a load of middle-aged pirates want to romance her in a comedic sequence, so I guess she's supposed to be older, or the subtitles didn't translate those scenes accurately on the Netflix stream?  In any case, the lovely sweet relationship between Sheeta and Pazu is what it's all about.

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mnkykungfu

Well-known member
^Love the Laputa review, you nailed it. I don't know if you're watching these Ghibli films in English, but they're some of the few classic anime that have received really great dubs due to their distribution deal with Disney. 

It's hard to tell with Ghibli-style art, but I always believed that the "kids" are meant to be more like 14/15 years old. Even though their portrayal is a bit younger, typical marks of maturity we would look at as a Western audience are not usual for Japanese that age. On the other hand, totally common for middle-aged men to lech over 14 year old girls. You'd think (from other anime) that they want 14 year old girls with watermelon-sized breasts, but no, there is a huge market for the prim-and-proper-innocent-and-virginal girl, too. I think it is meant to be creepy in this film, but Ghibli probably didn't realize how creepy it would play to a Western audience.

Side note: the Ghibli museum in Miitaka has a bit of this film built there: a sky garden on the roof. You can climb up to it, and there's a life-size guardian robot (metal statue) up there. Yes, it looks as awesome as it sounds, and yes, I totally got my picture with it. Sadly, the Cat Bus is off limits for adults.
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
mnkykungfu said:
I don't know if you're watching these Ghibli films in English, but they're some of the few classic anime that have received really great dubs due to their distribution deal with Disney. 

I've always watched them in Japanese with English subs. I could see Laputa working with a dub as it's not actually set in Japan, although it would've been better if they'd gone with English/Welsh/German etc actors (not the guy from Dawson's Creek :D) as that's the kind of setting. The dub on 'Steamboy' was good because they (mostly) cast appropriate voices like Patrick Stewart, who is from the same area of England in which that one is set.
mnkykungfu said:
It's hard to tell with Ghibli-style art, but I always believed that the "kids" are meant to be more like 14/15 years old. Even though their portrayal is a bit younger

They're both supposed to be 13 according to the Ghibli wiki, if that's an authority on such matters?

On wikipedia it says...

"in the original Japanese version, the dialogue presented Sheeta as a potential mother figure to the pirates, rather than a potential romantic interest."

...which makes much more sense. In the scene in question they're excitedly running around her in the context of her cooking them delicious smelling food and washing their clothes, plus IIRC one of them makes a comment about Sheeta being like their mother Captain Dola. The comedy of these "big bad pirates" just wanting to be mothered sounds like what was probably quite innocently intended. It just didn't make it smoothly to the English translation, dub or subtitles.
mnkykungfu said:
Side note: the Ghibli museum in Miitaka has a bit of this film built there: a sky garden on the roof. You can climb up to it, and there's a life-size guardian robot (metal statue) up there. Yes, it looks as awesome as it sounds, and yes, I totally got my picture with it. Sadly, the Cat Bus is off limits for adults.

Awesome. I googled it:

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mnkykungfu

Well-known member
All the Ghibli art is loosely inspired by various European cities, but I've never assumed the characters needed to have those voices. They're all fantasy worlds, after all. I also don't figure that an actor needs to be the thing they're playing...that's why it's called "acting". ;)

There are tons of fan sites for anime that are declarative but unless the original creator says something, I figure the film itself is the final word and anything else is hearsay. That scene you mentioned is definitely an homage to Peter Pan (with her as Wendy), but there are other bits that totally come off as lecherous. As far as the pirates go, I think it's supposed to be part of the antagonist/protagonist rope-a-dope they do.

The subs are translated quite well on the Disney-distributed versions as well, so you're not losing any of the story. But to be honest, many of the Japanese voice actors give very conventional performances filled with tropes common to the anime of the time (whiny uptick in the female best friend voice, whispered unemotional dialogue when shocked, blanket shouting of promises during high tension scene, and so on). The dialogue really comes alive in the dubs imho, but I know purists will hold that all foreign actors are automatically inferior.
 

DigModiFicaTion

MoDeraTificaTor
Faneditor
Started to write this one in the quick reviews, but realized I was going to ramble a bit.

Tenet (2020)
Hmmmm. I can't help but think that I just watched a movie that probably should have been a 7-10 episode miniseries. There is just so much theory in this one and so many characters that it's hard to track what is happening and who you should even be paying attention to. One let down for me personally is that there really isn't a team in this one to connect with beyond the two leads and everything is so ambiguous with their characters that it's hard to know who to try and connect with or spend time thinking about. I think this is intentional, but I'll admit it was a bit taxing in this movie. The typical Nolan moment occurs, but it's nothing new. That's not to say that it isn't satisfying, but it's just not anything that made me go "wow" or have to stop and think. The visuals were spot on Nolan, but the speed of this one was a bit too fast for it's own good. I eventually turned on the subtitles as I couldn't really understand the dialogue that was being shot a million miles an hour through a booming score. The score was a bit off on this one as well. I loved the main theme, but everything else was just odd and when Neil shows up for the first time I don't know why Zimmer does what he does there.........just looked it up and it's not Zimmer after all. I think that sums up the movie. Not quite what you were expecting or hoping for. I wish Washington was better utilized in this movie as well. I couldn't tell if he was a SpecOp, a covert op Spy, or a mercenary. I'm usually not too interested in world building, but this one needed it badly. I think I'll probably do an edit that cuts down some of the action scenes as they kind of drag on to get the point across of the idea they are presenting. Neat in the moment, but they certainly weren't Arthur battling projections in the hallway level of amazing. All that being said, I'd still say this was a good movie, just not a great movie. 7/10

I was really hoping that Neil would have been revealed to be the Protagonist's son. This would have connected with Sator's line "the only mistake I made was brining a son into a world I knew was ending" and played on the heavily implied relationship between the Protagonist and Kat. It would have made Neil's connection more powerful and the moment at the end more meaningful.....though that would have conflicted with Kat's character as she doesn't know him before hand.....though she could have acted that way just like Neil didn't let the Protagonist know it was him in the hallway....There are just so many loose ends in this one that make feel that this should have been a miniseries to allow for the idea, the conflict, the characters, and the warring factions space to breath and naturally develop. If it had been, it could have been a solid 9/10 for me. I was a little frustrated with the algorithm as it's never really explained what that is all about, or I just couldn't hear it through the score. Was the algorithm the device or an equation? I couldn't tell. Anyway. I liked it, didn't love it.
 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
^^^ I found it a reasonably fun movie but I couldn’t shake the feeling that Nolan simply wanted to film an action scene that was moving both forward and backward through time and shoehorned a plot around it so he could.
 

asterixsmeagol

Well-known member
Donor
DigModiFicaTion said:
Tenet (2020)
I eventually turned on the subtitles as I couldn't really understand the dialogue that was being shot a million miles an hour through a booming score.

Is there a good clear center channel? Maybe something could done to remix the audio when it's out on blu-ray?
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
^ I'm looking forward to rewatching 'Tenet' at home, with the subtitles turned on.

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Léon (1994)
'Léon' used to be one of my absolute favourite films in the 90s but I've not seen it for some time.  I'm happy to say that it's even better than I remember, emotional, action packed, cool and funny.  It's like Luc Besson wanted every shot and edit to be stylish and special in some way, with distorted lenses, inventive camera positions and high contrast visuals, something you usually only see in the enthusiasm of a first-time Director, not on a 6th film (albeit his Hollywood English language debut).  Jean Reno is wonderful as the title character, a mob super-assassin with a childlike demeanour.  His innocence is symbolised by him drinking only milk, he can barely read and his only friend is a plant he carefully tends.  Mathilda (Natalie Portman), the 12-year old daughter of Léon's drug dealer neighbour survives the massacre of her family by corrupt cops and she shelters in his apartment.  It's indicated that she's been physically and emotionally abused, so she has a cynical, provocative, adult outlook, a mirror opposite of Léon.  Mathilda brightens Léon's lonely life but she wants him to help her exact revenge on her families killers.  There is a hint of a 'Lone Wolf & Cub' to the premise, 'The Killer' too and a definite Hong Kong zing to the visceral action sequences.

It's always been odd that Léon is clearly supposed to be an Italian-American immigrant but is played by Reno with a French accent so thick you could stand a spoon up in it.  I hadn't noticed before that Reno is playing Léon a bit like fellow Frenchman and silent comedian Jacques Tati.  He's got the too short trousers, long coat and bemused waddle.  The wide eyed delight he shows while watching Gene Kelly dance is beautiful.   The late great Danny Aiello plays his handler Tony, an oldskool Italian gangster.  He's an endlessly fascinating character because the film never explicitly tells you whether he is good or bad.  He took in Leon as a child, seems to care for him and brought him up but he's also been exploiting him for money, putting him in danger and knows he's got (unspecified) learning difficulties.  He eventually betrays Leon to the enemy but the bruises on his face suggest it wasn't willingly.  Portman is so damn good in her first role but I don't think she's progressed further as an adult actor unfortunately.  Gary Oldman's maniacally deranged performance as the pill-popping psychotic villain is on a level so far beyond theatrical over-acting that it comes back round to being genius.  The way he suddenly goes from soft spoken to shouting "EVERYOOOOOOONE!!!" is unreal.  It's comic book level (in a good way) and the movie exists in a heightened Tarantino-esque reality where a 90s pre-teen is making pop-culture references to Charlie Chaplie, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock and John Wayne because why not?  A sequel was written but sadly Besson couldn't get the rights back, so it got reworked into 2011's 'Colombiana' instead.

(I watched the theatrical cut by the way)

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"EVERYOOOOOOONE!!!": :D

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Mulan (2020)
I've hated all these Disney live-action films so far because they've either been pointless and inferior shot-for-shot remakes, or they meddled superficially with what was in the original, just for the sake of meddling, therefore making what was perfect, imperfect.  So I was looking forward to the remake of 'Mulan' because it was actually going to do something different, by removing all the songs and comedic elements/characters and doing what looked like a serious Wuxia-style action film.  The themes of Mulan also sounded similar to Director Niki Caro's 2002 film 'Whale Rider' which I completely adored, so what could go wrong?  'Mulan' looks amazing, the rich costumes, the huge sets, the expert lighting, the vibrant colours, seamless FX and the action is well choreographed, in both the fights and battles, in a Zhang Yimou sort of way.  Unfortunately the script is horribly bland and the cast deliver it like it's written.  Which makes the first half, where the characters are supposed to develop, exhaustingly dull but the more action centric second half worked well for me, perhaps because it has a lot less of the terrible dialogue.

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mnkykungfu

Well-known member
^About Leon... Portman has made many references over the years to feeling she was taken advantage of early in her career and that her femininity was used in a way she's now uncomfortable with. To me anyway, it's pretty clear she's talking about Leon, and she has distanced herself from the film. I read that she was approached to do the sequel and wanted nothing to do with it, which is the real reason Besson changed the character names and cast a different actress. 

This is not to bash Portman, I think she's a fantastic actress and I can understand her feelings. The portrayal of her relationship with Leon in the film is...problematic, and especially so when you find out that Besson IRL at the time "fell in love" with a girl who had just turned 15 (he was nearly 33). He knocked her up and she had a shotgun wedding at only 16 years old. They divorced a few years later. He has been married four times, and is currently married, despite at least 5 women coming forward with allegations of rape and abuse by him in the wake of the Weinstein case. All this extra-textual stuff is super creepy, though I try to block it out and interpret the film in a more innocent way, as I imagine Reno did: a distraught girl is confused and displacing feelings of being "saved" with romantic feelings. She has a crush, and while Leon does love her, it's not in that way.

A note on the '90s-ness of the impressions...those were all Portman's, and they're exactly the ones she did in the audition. They asked her if she could do any impressions, and she did Chaplin (her family watched classic films). They wanted more, so she imitated impressions she had seen other people do, without actually knowing the original source! None of the scene was scripted, it actually just came from the actors.
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
mnkykungfu said:
A note on the '90s-ness of the impressions...those were all Portman's, and they're exactly the ones she did in the audition. They asked her if she could do any impressions, and she did Chaplin (her family watched classic films). They wanted more, so she imitated impressions she had seen other people do, without actually knowing the original source! None of the scene was scripted, it actually just came from the actors.

I didn't know that, thanks :) . I still think things like her checking in to a hotel under the name of "MacGuffin" is something I can imagine the film geek who wrote the script would do, not Mathilda the teen character in the script. But let's just go with Portman improvising that line too. One less flaw to worry about in a near perfect film! ;)
 

skyled

Well-known member
6 Underground - 2019
Michael Bay directs and Ryan Reynolds stars in this absurd action movie. Reynolds and his squad of expert killers work to kidnap a (good) prince and stage a coup in a Turgistan, a generic Middle Eastern/ex-Soviet country. The dictator of said country has been gassing his own citizens with chemical weapons. Reynolds' team have all faked their own deaths to operate as "ghosts" who can do missions that governments won't do because of political reasons. Reynolds plays the billionaire financier while the other team members have various special skills, none of which matter since they all seem equally capable of performing any role. Oh and there's a guy that does parkour, because why not. Character development is non-existent and they all have numbers instead of names because the characters don't matter any way so why bother. The action is generic Bay: lots of car chases, shooting, and explosions. It's edited pretty well though since you can tell what's going on, compared to some of his other movies with constant quick cuts making the action incoherent. And this brings me to the snark. All of the characters, but mainly Reynolds, are constantly making obnoxious snarky comments. The comments are almost never funny and quickly become very tiresome. The first half of the movie is also told non-linearly in a seemingly random way and for no reason. Compared to the opening of Armageddon, where Bay expertly introduces us to all the main characters in a very smooth way, this is a complete disaster. I hated this movie.

Now I will comment on this from a political perspective. Clearly it's militarism/CIA propaganda in favor of covert adventurism. The movie makes passing references to successful coups needing somebody to fill the power vacuum, in the movie this person is the good prince. This is probably true, but history has shown that CIA instigated coups usually don't end well. The dictator, who gasses his own citizens, is certainly modeled after Saddam Hussein or Bashar al-Assad and the movie wants us to root for the good guys to take him out. This is of course terrible propaganda. Saddam no longer had any WMDs by the time of the 2003 invasion which led to the bloody civil war. Despite the CIA's efforts in creating the Syrian civil war by arming, training, transporting, and protecting ISIS and al-Qaeda linked rebels, it has been shown that Assad did not gas them. In effect, the movie is wanting the audience to believe that this time the CIA coup (made necessary because of fabricated evidence) will be different than all those other times when it created a complete disaster.

Fuck this movie.
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
They Live (1988)
'They Live' was made commenting on the Reagan era but it's satire has only got more relevant in 30+ years and gets better with each re-watch.  The premise that an elite race of aliens are secretly ruling over the world using the media to keep the lower human classes docile is the kind of whacked out conspiracy that a frighteningly large amount of people believe today.  The main character, cynical blue collar worker John Nada, says it all when he discovers the alien plot "It figures it'd be something like this".  A perfect comment on the human readiness to believe wild conspiracies because they can be more comforting than simple but frightening truths.  The late "Rowdy" Roddy Piper is a surprisingly talented actor for a Wrestler.  With minimal dialogue he conveys his character by the way he suspiciously observes others and their actions, distrustful, intelligent and anti-authoritarian.  'They Live' is very funny, wacky and action-packed, which is arguably a tonal mismatch with the nihilistic, intelligent, thought-provoking science-fiction concept.  Maybe that's why it's always remained a cult classic... just too much damned fun to be taken seriously.  I wonder if people wear the 'Obey' clothing brand without knowing it's a straight rip off from 'They Live', or being aware of the irony.  It kinda creeps me out on some small level when I see people walking around with an 'Obey' hoodie.  Then again, the couple of times I've seen spray painted graffiti out in the real world bearing the words "They Live!" makes me smile.

Oooooooh, a transfer of a 35mm trailer:

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^ Venture into the comments section for the trailer at your peril, where silly people are discussing it like it was a documentary.  Maybe they've found a pair of sunglasses, or maybe they're just nuts :D .

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Glastonbury Fayre (1972)
This Nicolas Roeg/Peter Neal documentary filmed at the 2nd Glastonbury festival popped up on Amazon Prime and happily it's in beautiful unrestored HD 35mm (they didn't even crop all the edges off the film cells).  I was expecting some gentle folk music about druids and flowers but the performances (at least those in the film) are a much wilder sort of hardcore/prog/jazz/metal.  Real head banging freak outs.  Footage of the artists are intermingled with the people at the festival dancing around naked, chanting and having a good ol' chemically enhanced time.  It's a shock to think that this was half a century ago now.  It would've been helpful if there had been some titles or voice-over to tell you who you were watching (but I suppose it might have been obvious at the time) and the extended scenes of hippies exuberantly drumming and drumming and drumming sometimes went on a bit.

Oh look, the whole film is on youtube too :) :

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mnkykungfu

Well-known member
skyled said:
6 Underground - 2019
Clearly it's militarism/CIA propaganda

To be fair, a huge portion of American action films can probably be considered propaganda for the US military. But yeah, Bay has been working closely with DoD for many years now, and his films increasingly seem to buy into this narrative of "the good guy with the gun" and propagandize. It's like '80s action films but not as obviously ridiculous and not as cool. He's also become more and more abrasive over the years and seems to be one of these leading the charge to carve out an "alt-right Hollywood", where people don't care about critical opinion, art, or values and just make movies for paychecks. 
But don't get me wrong, if he makes Armageddon II, I'm totally there.
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
@"skyled" and @"mnkykungfu" .  We aren't keen on discussions of politics on these forums because it leads to arguments (the howling dark void that is the rest of the internet is for that :D ).  I'm not saying you're breaking any hard and fast rules but please try and avoid these topics if at all possible.  I know it's difficult to discuss and review films with a political component without getting into that.  With that said, carry on guys.  Thanks.
 

TM2YC

Staff Member
Donor
Faneditor
After the revisit of 'They Live', time for two more "imposter" movies...

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Compared to the 1956 film, the remake is pretty bleak and nihilistic. The original was about the first people to uncover the invasion, this is about the last people who find out. From the post credits opening shot in which a school teacher is getting her kids to pick flowers to take home, it's clear that it is already all too late but none of the characters we meet know it yet. This is underlined by a brief cameo from original star Kevin McCarthy 27-minutes in, recreating his wild panicked "They're here already!" performance from the very end of the first movie (this also suggests it's a semi-sequel). Director Philip Kaufman picks out oddities of modern life, strange behaviours people have, unusual objects and creepy sounds of the city, to make it difficult for you the viewer to judge what is odd alien behaviour and what is good old regular odd human behaviour. People make normally innocuous comments like "I feel like a new man" and "It changed my life" which is dryly amusing. The first one could be seen as being about 50s McCarthyism and communism, this one explores alienation and cultural fragmentation. The fashion in the 70s was for gritty realistic on-set sound but 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' goes for what sounds like an entirely ADRd and post Foley soundmix, adding a further layer of artificial replication of reality.

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Little Joe (2019)
This is the first film I've watched by Austrian Director Jessica Hausner and it's a psychological-horror masterpiece.  I think this is her first English language film (set in Liverpool) after four in German and French, which I'm going to have to check out.  The story is a clever new twist on the 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' in which plant breeder Alice (Emily Beecham) genetically engineers a flower designed to make it's owner feel happier.  All the characters within the lab are anxious, under pressure, paranoid and uncertain on some level to begin with, so the effects of the flower "Little Joe" could be considered positive, or negative.  Hausner's visual style is stunning, combining meticulous Kubrick-ian compositions and dazzling colour designs.  Contrasting pale pastel colours, with intensely saturated primary and secondary colours.  Everything from Alice's pale lips, to magenta latex gloves, light mint lab coats and of course the vibrant red of the flowers have been thought about.  The wearing of face masks, or lack there of and the subject of infection couldn't be more spot on for a film released in the months before the 2020 pandemic.  Teiji Ito's extraordinary score features traditional Japanese flutes and drums, augmented by high pitched drones and the sound of dogs barking, played like they were an instrument. It's so unsettling, yet beautiful.  The conclusion to the story is inventive and thought provoking, so avoid spoilers.

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Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Greyhound. Would’ve been a great 45 minute short. Or it could’ve gone lighter on the action and spent more time on character development to reach its 90 minute runtime. But as it is it didn’t work for me. We’re given the barest of reasons to care about any of the characters. The initial action is tense and works well, but it goes on too long. As my professors used to say when I was studying jazz, it’s about tension and release; if you don’t release the tension, the tension becomes meaningless.
 
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