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A few reviews

TM2YC

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Bad Lieutenant (1992)
Right from the first scene where Harvey Keitel's Police Lieutenant is dropping his poor kids off at school, while firing off f-bombs, drinking and doing lines of cocaine, you know this film is going to be crazy. He goes on to shoot his own car radio when the race he's betting on goes awry, jerks himself off while detaining two women for a broken tail light, shoots up heroin, smokes crack, and there is a scene where he falls around in a naked drunken stupor, making a cruciform pose, while crying and grimacing in agony. There is a lot of Catholic imagery in the film. It's like "The Lieutenant" is heaping sin upon himself, to punish himself for his earlier crimes, unable to turn back, he can only go deeper, until he makes a last desperate attempt at some sort of redemption. When I first saw 'Bad Lieutenant', I was definitely thinking it was like Martin Scorsese in 'Taxi Driver' mode but this time I was struck by how much it resembles the work of the Safdie brothers. It's got their out-of-control feeling of desperation, following a man manically trying to dig themselves out of a hole. I thought I much preferred the Werner Herzog version but now I'm not so sure.

 

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Clockers (1995)
'Clockers'
is one of most satisfying Spike Lee films I've watched so far. An embarrassingly clumsy attempt to satirise violent video games and that distracting floating actor shot he likes doing were the only times he dropped the ball. Mekhi Phifer looks so young in his first role as a "clocker" (drug dealer) called Strike but Delroy Lindo looks exactly the same age as he does a quarter century later in Lee's 'Da 5 Bloods' and gives an equally intense performance. Most of the film centers on Harvey Keitel's intelligent but rough NY cop needling Strike about a brutal shooting he suspects him of being responsible for. The pressure from the investigation beats down on Strike, doubled by the suspicion it arouses in his abusive drug kingpin boss Rodney (Lindo) and tripled by the community around all assuming his guilt. The relationship between Keitel and Phifer's characters is beautifully acted and subtlety written. Strike is a destructive drug dealer but his liking for chocolate milk and train sets highlight his childlike innocence and Keitel's Cop has complex attitudes. The scene where cops stand over a victim's body cracking jokes and discussing it like a piece of meat is really shocking. I couldn't predict how the ending was gong to play out.




Inside Man (2006)
Apart from one use of that stupid looking floating man camera move and another bad attempt to spoof GTA style video games (just like in 'Clockers'), Spike Lee's usual stylistic quirks and preoccupations are dropped, in favour of him expertly maximising the thrills of an intricately plotted, endlessly tense, action packed and brilliantly acted bank-heist movie. The cast is first rate, all chewing on some juicy dialogue, featuring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe and Chiwetel Ejiofor. I loved that the heist starts immediately, with no time wasted and we only learn about the characters, what their motives are and how they think through seeing how they interact with the plot. Terence Blanchard out does himself with the pounding brass score. It was instantly obvious to me what the nature of the MacGuffin hidden in the bank vault was... what else could could a wealthy elderly man of European extraction not want anyone to ever discover? The ultimate resolution to the heist doesn't add up at all, so what felt like a 10/10 thriller begins to lose a lot of points the more you think on it after the credits role. But when I've been treated to 2-hours as entertaining and gripping as this, I'm not going to complain too much.

 
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Moe_Syzlak

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^^ I love Inside Man. I’m an unabashed heist movie fan and this is one of my favorites.

Another Round. I’d watch Mads Mikkelson read the dictionary. And he was great in this movie. Who knew he was a dancer!? But, unfortunately the movie itself mostly didn’t work for me. It was billed on Hulu as a comedy. But it’s definitely not what I’d call a comedy. Its premise—a group of teachers going through midlife crises deciding to try day drinking as a way to counteract their blasé—certainly could lend itself to comedy. But it’s played more or less straight. And that is to its detriment, I feel. It feels stuck in the middle, not serious enough to tackle some of the serious issues it raises and not silly enough to be enjoyed without being distracted by those issues. Technically, it’s very well made and, as I said, well acted. But it just didn’t work for me.
 
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TM2YC

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After rewatching 'Das Boot' I wanted more submarine based drama...

Greyhound (2020)
As soon as I saw the first FX shot I thought oh no, this looks like a video game cut scene. The CGI water effect is not at all convincing (under the scrutiny of 4K) and when the camera pulls way back to a God's eye view it's got that weird repeated texture thing. It's not helped by unrealistic camera movements zooming around in an impossible way. Most of the film is set on the bridge of the titular destroyer, on a real vessel, so that all looked convincing. Given those limitations and the cast consisting of Tom Hanks (in a single location) and only one other recognisable actor as his 2nd in command, I assumed this was one of those streaming B-movies where they secure a big name for a weekend's work and hope people will watch it on that basis alone. But no, I realised afterwards that the scripts was written by Hanks himself. His character is an interesting one, an experienced naval veteran but he is embarking on his first command in wartime with great trepidation. The couple of flashbacks to a love interest are unnecessary, disruptive to the tension and just horribly directed. All that being said, the combat between the "Greyhound" and the "Grey Wolves" is thrilling stuff. Although it sometimes felt like Hanks was fighting "überseeboots", rather than being stalked by unseen submarines. But I'm no expert on Kriegsmarine combat tactics in the 'Battle of the Atlantic', so maybe these surface tactics were accurate? If you've got AppleTV+ this is free and at only 91-minutes it doesn't outstay it's welcome.




Crimson Tide (1995)
Tony Scott
was the master of high-gloss action thrillers but the pairing of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman at the top of their acting craft, take this to a different level. A lot of the time it's just the two of them staring each other down, nose to nose, with no words, yet we know what each of them is saying. The supporting cast is quality including Aragorn and Tony Soprano. The uncredited re-writes from Quentin Tarantino stand out a mile when you've got a submarine crew discussing movie trivia, making Star Trek references and having fist fights over the finer points of Silver Surfer lore. His dialogue does add a lot of fun and comic relief to the serious drama. Because it's set on a vast modern Nuclear Sub you lose a lot of that claustrophobic intensity normally associated with the Submarine movie genre (it's triple the size of the 'Das Boot' sub for example). The USS Alabama looks so expansive I almost expected it to have it's own tennis court.

 

TM2YC

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Gosford Park (2001)
Just as Robert Altman's successful 'MASH' film got remade into an even more successful TV show, his 2001 film 'Gosford Park' got reworked into hit show 'Downton Abbey' 9-years later, by the same writer Julian Fellowes and even a few of the same actors. GP's all-star cast is absolutely ridiculous, there must be at least 30 household names, appearing in mostly small (but important) roles. I've watched it before but the plot is so densely constructed and multilayered that I'd happily forgotten much of it and there is so much in there that I could probably watch it again tomorrow and spot more stuff I missed this time. Initially it feels quite a bit like the good natured "upstairs downstairs" Downton but it soon develops a much darker edge and becomes a blackly comic satire of the British class system and the "whodunnit?" genre. It takes place over a shooting weekend at an inter-war, upperclass, English country house, which is spiced up by the invitation of a Hollywood producer and (real life) filmstar and composer Ivor Novello (hot from appearing in two Alfred Hitchcock films). The upper classes look down on these show business types but the poorer servants gather excitedly for a glimpse at a real star. The producer is there to do research for a murder mystery plot, which of course ends up really happening to one of the poisonous toffs. Then Stephen Fry arrives as what you think is the Hercule Poirot/Sherlock Holmes character but is actually the worst, most ineffectual detective imaginable. Altman makes it really fun by drawing our attention to all the clues he's missing. Casting handsome American actor Ryan Phillippe as a Scottish valet who is actually a handsome American actor playing a Scottish valet is a great joke on the audience and a sly wink at Mid-Atlantic casting.

 

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The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
The first of Penelope Spheeris' acclaimed trilogy of music documentaries. This one documents the L.A. Punk scene across 6-months in 1979-1980. Stylised interviews to camera with performers and audience members are intercut with riotous live performances from (early) Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Fear. Some of the music sounded rubbish, aping the confrontational attitude and clothing of the 1976 UK punk scene but with little of the humour, intelligence and memorable tunes. However, other performers like Claude Bessy and Exene Cervenka deliver the goods with wit and originality. The most interesting parts are the interviews with the passionate fans about their lives and what the music means to them. The 2K scan of the 35mm on the Shout Factory blu-ray looks fantastic with all the scuzzy, graininess intact.





The Decline of Western Civilization - Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
The second of Penelope Spheeris' acclaimed trilogy of music documentaries. 'The Metal Years' again films across 6-months but switches from Punk to the L.A. Metal scene. Between the first documentary and this, Spheeris had directed four feature films, so the increased experience and polish to the film-making, editing and lighting is immediately evident. The doc is claimed to have been partly responsible for the decline of "Hair Metal" and the rise of Grunge. The amount of sleaze, vanity, arrogance and weapons-grade-sexism from most of the bands interviewed beggars belief (with the exception of the likes of Lemmy, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne, who come across as delightful blokes in their own ways). It's like some of the musicians featured thought 'Spinal Tap' was an industry training video. LA club owner Bill Gazzarri sounds like such a lecherous old dirt bag. Aerosmith describe their career progression in terms of masturbation technique at one point. Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P. floating fully clothed in a swimming pool, downing whole bottles of vodka and talking about much he hates himself, while his mum sits and impassively watches is just sad, it's the opposite of the glamorous rock-star image but somehow very close to it at the same time. The film makes many of these guys look like jackasses (because they are) but god damn can they rock and roll!! The lyrics to Ziggy Stardust come to mind "The kids were just crass. He was the nazz. With God-given ass. He took it all too far. But, boy, could he play guitar!".


 
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TM2YC

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The Ladykillers (2004)
I remember this Coen Brothers comedy getting a lot of stick at the time (from British movie fans/critics at least) for remaking the 1955 classic but I think it's pretty good. There are a few too many diversions in the first half which detract from the main plot and the hurricane of f-bombs (and worse) felt blunt after the subtle wit of the 50s original. On the other hand the outrageously fun turn from Tom Hanks is easily as good as Alec Guinness. Hanks plays the Professor like a cross between Colonel Sanders and Orson Welles. Transplanting the story from London, to Mississippi works a treat. J. K. Simmons and Tzi Ma are also fab as two of the conspirators but Marlon Wayans and Ryan Hurst give mildly irritating pantomime performances. Irma P. Hall's little old lady repeatedly being cross about youngsters playing A Tribe Called Quest's 'I Left My Wallet in El Segundo' really made me giggle.




Hard Times (1975)
In Walter Hill's directorial debut, Charles Bronson plays an itinerant, taciturn bare-knuckle fighter who arrives in 30s New Orleans and soon becomes managed by fast-talking James Coburn. The 53-year old Bronson still looks cut and tough as nails. Strother Martin is rather fun as a "Southern Gentleman" opium addicted former med-student who serves as their fight Doctor. Given the time period, when the movie was shot, the sepia toned look and Barry De Vorzon's old-timey folk score, I was naturally comparing this to 'The Sting' at first (which actually came out 2-years after). Then I noticed it's got characters and a basic premise quite similar to Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive'. It's fighting, instead of driving but Chaney and Speed are close analogies of the Driver and Shannon. 'Hard Times' is a very entertaining blend of the action, Noir and Western genres and at 93-minutes, like Bronson, there isn't an ounce of fat on it.

 

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Suburbia (1984)
Punk music documentary maker Penelope Spheeris directs this scuzzy Roger Corman movie about an alienated teen punk gang squatting in an abandoned house. A surrogate "lost boys" family, replacing the broken homes they come from. She cast the movie with real street kids and musicians (including Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers) so the acting can be a bit rough but it adds a grimy reality to everything. She also films actual live performance footage by bands of the era. Like a lot of punk music, the movie is deliberately confrontational, political, angry, provocative, offensive and antisocial. The scene where the Punk gang confront a dead friend's abusive father at her funeral is awesome. I didn't realise that one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands, Pet Shop Boys' 'Suburbia' is inspired by this film, lyrics like "Suburbia, where the suburbs met utopia" and "slums of the future" are almost quotes from the script. I reckon Quentin Tarantino much have known about this one because the famous slowmo walking sequence from 'Reservoir Dogs' looks nearly identical to a scene from this. I first watched a pretty rubbish looking pan&scan VHS transfer but I was so impressed and intrigued that I imported the Shout Factory 4K scanned blu-ray and watched it a second time.




The Decline of Western Civilization - Part III (1998)
The third of Penelope Spheeris' acclaimed trilogy of music documentaries. After directing several studio comedies in the 90s (including the hit 'Wayne's World') and 10-years after her last doc, she went back to her roots to record another 6-months in the life of a group of L.A. street Punks. She found a group of semi-homeless kids, surprisingly very like the fictional gang from her 'Suburbia' film. This film focuses less on the musicians and music and more on the fans and their bleak, blighted lives. They've not got much but at least they have each other and Punk. This being 1998, sadly it's not all in beautiful 2K scanned 35mm this time but the videotape sections do allow for a more spontaneous style. If this doc didn't depress you by the end, the postscript about what happened to a couple of the kids will. I've not heard of any of the bands who perform but they deliver the Punk rock goods.

 

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The Boys Next Door (1985)
'The Boys Next Door' is noticeably more polished than Penelope Spheeris'
1984 debut feature 'Suburbia'. Thanks to a couple million more on the budget and some quality actors/mid-level stars. The films opens with a chilling roll-call of American serial killers, setting up the idea that these kinds of people could be "the boys next door", before we cut to our two main characters, Bo and Roy (Charlie Sheen and Maxwell Caulfield), outcast high-school seniors with a fascination for violence and disdain for society. You'd think they were modelled on the Columbine killers but of course this film was made 15-years earlier. This was one of the few roles that Caulfield could get following the stink caused by the total failure of 1982's 'Grease 2' at the box-office. I wanna go check out 'Grease 2' now because Caulfield is so good in this. His spaced-out, restless energy is disturbing, like he's imagining horrors only he can perceive. The scenes where the murders happen feel censored to the point where you sometimes aren't sure how they died. Apparently Spheeris had a lot of trouble getting the movie an R-rating from the MPAA and it shows, even so Martin Sheen (Charlie's pops) walked out of the premiere. I noticed the catch phrase "Eat my f*ck" appears again, as it has in other Spheeris films.




Tina (2021)
I've never been a massive Tina Turner fan but I lived through the 80s/90s so I'm well aware of what a big star she was and all her hit singles. Now happily retired (it seems) from music and film she tells her life story, in her own words, from her infamous marriage/partnership with the abusive Ike Turner to her building a hugely successful solo career. Co-Directors Dan Lindsay and T. J. Martin have dug up lots of terrific old clips of her performances and interviews. Even though I'm not all that familiar with her story, I could still feel bits being skipped over in the name of a smooth "rise, fall and rise again" narrative structure.

 

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The Mauritanian (2021)
Making a movie about Guantanamo Bay and the post-911 detention without charge and torture of prisoners might seem like it's a decade or two too late but the camp is still open and it's always the right time to remind us why torture doesn't work. Kevin Macdonald's film doesn't mess around with any of that "Inspired by..." nonsense, this opens with "This is a true story" (with the 3rd word in bold). It's based on Mohamedou Ould Salahi's diary of his imprisonment and from what I understand all main characters in the film are real people. Jodie Foster plays the resolute defence lawyer with gravitas, I wish she did more films these days. Benedict Cumberbatch plays her opposite number. While I wasn't entirely convinced by his American drawl, he plays an interesting twist on the prosecution. Both him and Foster are shown uncovering the same evidence and starting to form the same opinions, having started from opposing sides. But the real star is Tahar Rahim (from 'A Phrophet') as Mohamedou, the full range and depth of human emotions play across his face. The scene where he is rocking gently from a wire fence as the camera swings along with him and the sound of waves play in his mind is a beautiful scene. The switching from scope, to Academy ratios was a neat solution to making the movements forward and backward in time clear. The editing of the ending is a real gut punch.




The Hunt for Red October (1990)
I watched this John McTiernan submarine caper so many times in the 90s and it still holds up... except the early CGI, that looks rubbish next to the convincing model shots. The cast is top-drawer, featuring Sean Connery, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones and Sam Neill. This was the first of the Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan film series, with young Alec Baldwin in the role. I love the nerdy energy he gives the character. Ryan is a CIA analyst, scared, out of his depth in the field and suffering from air/sea sickness but dives right into the danger anyway. He's a very relatable "every-man" protagonist. It's a real shame they dumped him for Harrison Ford for the two immediate sequels, they could've had a US answer to the James Bond series here. Although it's kinda distracting how much the young Baldwin looks like the Captain Black puppet from 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' made flesh. The score by Basil Poledouris is wonderful, like a Soviet military parade. 'The Hunt for Red October' features the Connery line everyone does when they wanna do a quick impression: "Now they will trrrremble again, at the shound of our shylensh".


hunt-for-red-october-lead[1].jpg


black_secret_services[1].jpg
 
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TM2YC

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The Way Back aka Finding the Way Back (2020)
If this hadn't of had some awards season buzz I would probably have skipped it, I'm not interested in Basketball and it looked a bit bland in the trailer. It is very low key and depressing but in a good way, in a way that doesn't feel like a Hollywood depiction of alcoholism, where mirrors are smashed and people scream at each other. It's mostly Ben Affleck's basketball coach staring silently into the void, projecting utter self-hatred and drinking beers in the shower, or vodka from a thermos mug. At one point I thought it was going to be like 'Rocky' but here it's not that simple, an underdog winning again isn't going to fix what's broken inside. Affleck's performance had me a little choked up at the end, maybe because he's publicly been though his own addiction problems, or maybe he's just a great actor (or both).




The One and Only Ivan (2020)

Whole teams of Disney CG artists and millions of dollars must have been devoted to making the 99% photorealistic animals in 'The One and Only Ivan' look this good but as soon as they talk, or start doing anthropomorphic things, the illusion is gone and it feels weird. It's impossible to make something that we know to be unrealistic, look realistic by definition. I wish they'd done it as a "silent film", with just the humans talking. A couple of scenes are actually done with no animal dialogue and they totally work because the animation is that good. However, this is just a thoroughly nice and uplifting film and I enjoyed it for what it was. There aren't any villains, there are just people with flaws. Danny DeVito as the mangy dog "bob" was definitely my highlight.

 

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I think 'Creed' is the one film in the franchise that truly equals the first.


Watching them all together it feels like Rocky I-IV is one story (the rise) and Rocky V-Creed II is another (the fall and rise again). As @"mnkykungfu" says, Rocky V plays better in context of the films after it, like it and 'Rocky Balboa' are Creed prequels.

I think how much you like Creed will depend greatly on how much you like Michael B. Jordan's acting... unpopular opinion: I don't. I can see him trying. It's like whether you get into Rocky will depend a lot on how much you can get into Stallone's portrayal. Unlike Stallone, who wrote and embodies the character, Jordan feels like he is trying to prove something as a screen presence. In Creed II, he relaxes more and shows more range. It's better, but Stallone still outshines him.

Add to this that Creed feels much like The Force Awakens to the series. The struggling awkward couple trying to claw their way out into some kind of life, the boxer finding a surrogate father figure. It hits a lot of the same beats, only with color, disability, and cancer added in for extra Oscar points. It's hard to dismiss the early claims of this as "Black Rocky" or "Woke Rocky". It's not bad, but my least favorite of a series I love.

(This review brought to you by another patented TM2YC/Mnkykungfu point/counterpoint production.) ;)
 

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I think how much you like Creed will depend greatly on how much you like Michael B. Jordan's acting.

I do think Jordan is a good actor but it's much more Stallone's performance that makes 'Creed' so good. I think it's Stallone's best of the series. His face about 30-seconds into this scene is amazing and should have got him the Oscar:


Plus Coogler's writing and direction (which were missed in 'Creed II'). The subtle push in he does on Stallone's face is perfect, plus the slow sombre version of the Rocky music. I liked the sequel too.
 

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The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)
This is the worst kind of biopic. Massaging a few facts is a requirement of condensing a life story into 2-hours but this script bases the entire premise round inventions and distortions. Billie Holiday's 1939 recording of 'Strange Fruit', her imprisonment, release and comeback Carnegie Hall concert in 1948 and her death in 1959, are shuffled up together, as if one was the result of the other and not things that happened across the space of 20-years. Half the film is devoted to a minor real person of which little is known (so they can event it all) and the film is contained within the loose flashback framing device of a recorded interview with a character so ridiculous you think they must surely have existed... but they didn't. The editing is a real mess, chopping between grainy film and low-resolution video (possibly ripped from youtube?), in different aspect-ratios, switching between colour and b&w for seemingly no reason and using so many layered dissolves it's practically "Crossfade the Movie!". However, Andra Day's portrayal of Billie Holiday is magnificent, you totally believe she is Holiday in every moment, from the scourging dramatic scenes, to the powerful vocal performances. Despite all my criticism for Lee Daniels' directorial decisions, I'd recommend the film for Day's performance alone.




Billie (2019)
New York journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl spent the 70s preparing a biography of Billie Holiday, amassing hundreds of hours of audio tapes with people who knew her but died before she could complete the book. This documentary is based on those tapes. Although there is lots of narration material, there is very little video of Holiday, so instead of simply falling back on b&w photographs, they go with ugly colourised images and video, plus a bit of dodgy digital manipulation (which I'm not sure will be obvious to every viewer). They also try and draw parallels between the lives of Kuehl and Holiday that are sketchy. This doc fills in a few more of the blanks left by the recent 'The United States vs. Billie Holiday' but it's not a complete picture of the singer.

 

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Blade Runner 2049, a review by Malthus.

A deep story told at a luxurious pace that is often undermined by its own gravitas. The vivid depiction of the world and the attention to detail in its worldbuilding carry the film through its lengthy runtime. A deep thread of sexual symbolism is at once uncompromising and uncomfortable. Powerful questions are asked, thought provoking answers are given. As a film, it works. As a sequel, it soars but falls short of its predecessor. A weaker score and a little too much hand holding stop this from being an instant classic for me but there's no disputing its a class act and a welcome one at that.
 

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Greed (2019)
If you're not British, then you probably don't know who Sir Philip Green is, so this Michael Winterbottom/Steve Coogan film that is about having a pop at the disgraced retailer will possibly have little meaning. The marketing made no secret of 'Greed' being based closely on Green, with the names (here it's Sir Richard "greedy" McCreadie) and a few details changed. It virtually quotes Green's arrogant performance at a House of Commons committee where he rounded on an MP for daring to look at him. The film also tries to take "asset stripping" and give it the same treatment that 2015's 'The Big Short' did for "short selling", making it easy to understand through humour. There is a loose 'Citizen Kane' structure, where David Mitchell's ineffectual writer researches McCreadie's past, while McCreadie hosts a monstrous 'Gladiator' (the movie) themed toga party on a beach filled with Syrian refugees. I'm not sure it totally works because what is there to explore about the life of a man who was born a c**t and will die a c**t but there are enough satirical gags to fill 104-minutes. Kudos to the celebrities who agreed to appear as insulting versions of themselves, the James Blunt cameo was really funny. Winterbottom also choose to give real exploited garment workers and real refugees the chance to play themselves.


A very funny pre-lockdown live interview with Coogan about the film:




Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
After Marvel had released 5 films in the space of 14-months and wrapped everything up with aplomb in the epic 'Avengers: Endgame' I couldn't really be bothered with watching another one 9-weeks later, so I skipped 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'. But after a 2-year break, this was such a welcome return to the crowd-pleasing, fun and funny MCU world, especially after the dreary 4-hour "Snyder Cut". The young cast are still very endearing, you almost don't need the Spidey shenanigans, Peter and his classmates hanging out in Europe is entertaining enough. The mo-cap suit idea is genius and the illusion sequence in the middle is visually inventive. Unfortunately the final big CGI rumble feels a bit chaotic, formulaic and set in London again but by then I didn't care. I liked the Happy and Aunt May relationship and the fallout from Tony Stark's death was nicely played. I'd recommend watching the mid-credits scene but not the post-credits scene, as it undermines the whole movie in retrospect.

 

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My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
Possibly one of my least favourite Studio Ghibli films.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)
I was totally entranced by every second of the movie, probably even better than 'Grave of the Fireflies'.
I was waiting for you to get to these. Yeah, Yamadas is my least favorite Ghibli. I was also much cooler on Kaguya than you, finding that the animation still was too "sketchy" for me, except for the innovation displayed on the one scene where she runs away and her kimono trails behind her into abstract colors.

I noticed you also didn't go into Kaguya's story much, which I found very muddled, thematically. I wrote a virtual treatise about it on Letterboxd, but it'd probably bore a casual viewer to tears. Of course, casual viewers probably think that Ghibli=Miyazaki.
 

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48 Hrs. (1982)
I remembered this having crazy levels of energy and gritty danger... this re-watch did not disappoint! Nick Nolte's character expertly dances on the line marked "fundamentally unlikeable", yet somehow becomes endearing by the end. He's a bigoted, violent, out of control, drunken mess of a cop but he's commendably dedicated to catching his pray and despite all the horrible sh*t he says and does to Reggie the convict (Eddie Murphy), by the end he makes a passionate defence of his unlikely comrade. Director Walter Hill brings back a few of the cast of 1979's 'The Warriors' who I love seeing again. James Horner's versatile hand concocts a thrilling steel-drum score. Eddie Murphy's hilarious performance made him an instant star. Nolte's voice sounds like he's gargling bleach and smoking tar. There's kind of a genre mash-up thing going on, fusing Blaxploitation and the Dirty Harry movies, so Nolte aggressively questions the patrons of a black bar, then Murphy (pretending to be a cop) relishes doing the same right back to a red-neck bar, while Nolte looks on amused. There is an element of 1958's 'The Defiant Ones' too. '48 Hrs.' is the prototype 80s R-Rated buddy cop action-movie, which everyone imitated but the original is still the best.

35mm trailer:




Another 48 Hrs. (1990)
Apparently this had a quarter of the runtime cut a week before release but it isn't a mess, the story still all makes sense and the pacing felt about right. The main problems I had with it stem from the script choices, which presumably would've been even worse in a longer version. It took the entire first movie for Nolte and Murphy to earn their begrudging respect for each other but this sequel jettisons that and makes them hate each other again. I'd have really enjoyed seeing the friendship we only glimpsed at the end of the first movie play out for 90-minutes. Nolte is after a mysterious crime-lord but the same guy wants to kill Murphy because he can identify him, so our two anti-heroes need each other's help again, no other antagonistic motivation was required. Another problem is that Murphy was a hungry first time actor in '48 Hrs.', 8-years later in 'Another 48 Hrs' he's one of the biggest stars in the world and getting paid more than the entire budget for the first one. He looks like he's goofing off half the time and even briefly breaks the 4th wall, with a look like "Can you believe how amazing I was in that scene?". With all that said, this second outing is still an amusing, action-packed, cops-versus-robbers thriller but it's not a patch on the original. The plot twists around who the villain was were actually very well played and the scene where motorbikes jump through a porno theatre movie screen was amazing!

 

mnkykungfu

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Les Misérables (2019)


The Whistlers (2019)
Thanks for this. I didn't even know LM wasn't another adaptation of the Hugo story. I'm now interested.
And The Whistlers has been on my list for awhile, but I didn't know anyone who'd even heard of it, much less watched. Seems like you found a lot to like?
 
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