• Most new users don't bother reading our rules. Here's the one that is ignored almost immediately upon signup: DO NOT ASK FOR FANEDIT LINKS PUBLICLY. First, read the FAQ. Seriously. What you want is there. You can also send a message to the editor. If that doesn't work THEN post in the Trade & Request forum. Anywhere else and it will be deleted and an infraction will be issued.
  • If this is your first time here please read our FAQ and Rules pages. They have some useful information that will get us all off on the right foot. More details on our policies, especially our Own the Source rule are available here. If you do not understand any of these rules send a private message to one of our staff for further details.
  • Favorite Edit of the Year (FEOTY) 2020 Awards are here.

A few reviews

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)
This Netflix documentary "witness statement", as David Attenborough describes it, isn't his usual BBC nature film (although it does draw from his BBC filmography). Instead he spends the first half talking about how he's seen the natural world change across his 94-years, for the worse. Even if he hadn't addressed climate change and the extinction of species, it's still shocking to see how much nature worldwide, in percentage terms, has already been destroyed, chopped down, fished, forced out, poisoned and built over in the century he's seen. Then when you're properly depressed, he spends the 2nd half talking about a positive holistic vision of how it can be fixed. He makes it sound so achievable and within our reach if we simply try.




My Octopus Teacher (2020)
At first I was thinking "So, this is a film about a rich man who can afford to take a break from his job to swim in paradise every day and hangout with an octopus. What do you want the rest of us plebs to do with that?" ;). However, the concept of spending an entire feature-length Netflix nature documentary on the life of one octopus in particular, across 12-months feels refreshingly different, enlightening and rewarding. There is too much focus on Craig Foster and his feelings for the octopus, rather than simply the octopus and the stuff about the relationship with his son seemed like a half-baked metaphor. Seeing the variety of tricks and techniques the octopus employs to hide, to hunt for food and to outwit the creatures hunting her is incredibly impressive, even though Foster often goes overboard in his adoration, saying things like "She basically has to do Geometry" which is total bullsh*t. At no point does the octopus break out a set-square and compass. There is also a dishonesty to the presentation, stating that he's "swimming alone" with just a snorkel to be more "in touch with nature" but there must have been a film crew with breathing apparatus in order to capture this kind of glossy 4K footage over extended periods. Then you've got to question how much of the footage is what he's describing it is on the voice-over and not disparate footage they've edited together to manufacture a narrative. Plus they get so close to the creatures that it's questionable if what they are filming is in any way normal behaviour. Whatever flaws 'My Octopus Teacher' has, the footage you'll see will blow your mind, so I do recommend it.

 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
Streets of Fire (1984)
I'm not sure who started the whole "the 50s were cool in the 80s" thing but I suppose 'Streets of Fire' has a claim (a year before 'Back to the Future'). I was expecting to love 'Streets of Fire' because I love 1978's 'The Warriors', which was also co-written and directed by Walter Hill. They're both set in an altered fantasy version of our reality where flamboyant gangs rule over a city, with characters on a quest patterned on Greek Myth ('Anabasis' for 'The Warriors' and 'Orpheus and Eurydice'/'The Iliad' for 'Streets of Fire'). It's a world so much like his earlier film, that I wish it had actually been set in the same shared "walterverse". Unfortunately the characters are underwritten, the editing is overworked, the pacing and storytelling are off (the heroine we are supposed to care about is absent for most of the film) and star Michael Paré is a little bland as loner Tom Cody. He looks the part, sexy and cool but the spark he needed to be that 'Han Solo' type of reluctant hero isn't there. Paré looks a lot like James Remar (one of Hill's usual "stock company") so I kept imagining how much more exciting and dangerous the character would have felt if he had been played by Remar. Again, Diane Lane looks the part of Rock goddess Ellen Aim, she's stunning but the character has little depth. Willem Dafoe's antagonist is also paper thin but because he's played by an actor as electric as Dafoe he becomes interesting. Rick Moranis plays against type as a tough-guy and is surprisingly great at it. Amy Madigan's acerbic soldier McCoy is the only really successful character and that's mainly down to Madigan's suggestion to recast what could be a stereotypically tough male character, as female. The two Jim Steinman (RIP Jim) Rock songs are terrific and I never realised that the pop radio staple 'I Can Dream About You' was from this movie.


Rumble on the Lot: Walter Hill's 'Streets of Fire' Revisited (2013)
This feature-length making-of documentary sadly doesn't have many of the cast and crew of 1984's 'Streets of Fire' to talk to but those who were generous enough to give their time (including Director Walter Hill and main star Michael Paré) speak with such honesty, humour and enthusiasm for the project that it makes up for a lot. I think I enjoyed hearing about their efforts to make the film, more than I enjoyed the actual film itself. Despite it bombing in most places, Paré mentions how popular 'Streets of Fire' is in Japan, something he puts down his character being like a Samurai/Ronin. It's something I hadn't noticed watching the film but I can totally see that on reflection.

 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
The Greatest Showman (2017)
'The Greatest Showman'
was notable for being widely panned by the critics but loved by audiences on word-of-mouth (making about $300m profit). It was such a big hit in the UK that they brought it back to cinemas for a second run. I think the fans and critics were both right, it's a bit rubbish but kinda wonderful at the same time. It possibly depends on if you are in the upbeat mood to revel in it's hurricane-strength positivity, or in the dour mood to dwell on all the flaws. The terrible looking CGI in the trailer put me off and it is bad, making strange choices like using a CG horse, instead of you know, a horse but there isn't that much of it. Zac Efron is a flatline. The plotting is clunky and sloppy, going for feelings, rather than logic. However, the catchy pop songs, the well choreographed dancing and the colourful visuals are delightful. Hugh Jackman is as irresistibly likeable as always. The editing is also very good, cutting sharply in time with the beat of the music, further accentuating the expert rhythm of the dancing and camera movements. It's not a masterpiece but 'The Greatest Showman' sure put a smile on my face.


A couple of the terrific songs:





Unhinged (2020)
One of the few films that actually got widely released in cinemas last year. Russell Crowe plays a rage fuelled maniac who relentlessly persecutes a young mother and her son when she blares her car horn at him, then refuses to give the sincere apology he thinks he deserves. Crowe is perfect casting since it feels like his life up to this film has been one big method-acting exercise for playing somebody with anger issues. His terrifying performance elevates the b-movie script but Director Derrick Borte's decision to always push the violence a little further than you are expecting also gives it real menace and nastiness, plus he knows how to do a visceral car chase. The convoluted and contrived reasons for the chase being sustained just about hold together from moment to moment. The protagonist being setup as highly disorganised papers over a lot of the "why doesn't she just do this?" type questions. 'Unhinged' delivers a tense 93-minute hell ride, nothing more but I was okay with that. Although there is a possible subtext of the film being a revenge fantasy on people who use phones while driving, or generally don't pay attention to the road (a lady doing her mascara on the freeway meets a particularly violent end).


I weirdly kept associating this...

Unhinged-review[1].jpg


...with this...

0[1].jpg
 
Last edited:

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
The White Tiger (2021)
Netflix's 'The White Tiger' feels very much like the Indian answer to 'Parasite'. It's also about the poor infiltrating the home of a rich family under false pretences and a reciprocal relationship of exploitation. The darkly comic tone is there too. That's where the similarities end, it's a very different story and the satire is specifically about the class system in India, not that of South Korea. Adarsh Gourav (who is new to me) brilliantly plays the poor, mistreated Balram (and narrates the story in flashback) who tries to better himself by serving a wealthy and corrupt family. Like in 'Parasite', both servant and master aren't without flaws, or virtues. If you're expecting the kind of uplifting vision of aspirational modern India seen in Dev Patel movies like 'Slumdog Millionaire', 'Lion' and 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' then you might be a bit surprised about how nasty and violent 'The White Tiger' gets as it descends into madness. Part of the plot seems to have been inspired by a hit-and-run case involving millionaire Bollywood actor Salman Khan and his servant Ashok (the name Ashok is used in the film).




Promising Young Woman (2020)
Although it lays some of it's message on too thick out of the gate, I was really liking 'Promising Young Woman' to begin with. However it goes exponentially off the rails and is just plain silly by the time it gets to the needlessly over-contrived and illogical end. The middle of the movie has one really big problem in that you are either going to be fooled by what a certain subplot is doing and so have your time and emotions wasted and frustrated by the big revelation, or be like me, where you anticipated the twist from the second the subplot was introduced and therefore spent the middle part not engaging with it on any emotional level and so also having your time wasted. Carey Mulligan is so powerful in the lead role, a lot of the dark humour really works, some of the scenes are electric and I loved all the 'The Night of the Hunter' references. I think it was identifying Mulligan's character with that of Lillian Gish's protector. First time Director Emerald Fennell has a great visual style. Alfred Molina has a short but impactful cameo which proves what a stellar actor he is. The two guys at the end were either a fiendish bit of Paul Verhoeven-style anti-casting, feeling dropped straight in from an awful 90s frat-boy comedy, or they were just genuinely bad actors. It's difficult to tell, like it is with Verhoeven sometimes but if everything in the film is deliberate, then it's genius. I feel there were some small similarities in tone and content between 'Promising Young Woman' and a smaller, darker 2016 film directed by Alice Lowe called 'Prevenge'. I'd recommend checking that out too.


 

Moe_Syzlak

Well-known member
Messages
2,374
Reaction score
117
Trophy Points
63
We watched A Promising Young Woman last night too. I actually looked it up on my phone in the middle of the movie to see if it was a Diablo Cody script. I’ve had trouble deciding what I thought about it since it is so all over the place. Obviously Mulligan elevates it, but I wonder if it would be effective at all in lesser hands. It’s ultimately a dark comedy (I think) way more than a revenge thriller. So the elements that seemed over the top could be excused on that basis. I think it’s worth a watch and I think it is VERY timely. But I don’t think it’s as good as a lot of the hype I’ve heard.
 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
^ After hearing some interviews with the writer/director, I think it's deliberately playing up to the cliches of early 2000s romcoms (and the 90s frat boy comedies I mentioned) and other genres. Plus casting actors you'd expect to see in those sorts of films. Maybe it's one of those movies that requires a 2nd viewing.




The Sum of All Fears (2002)
The first of the aborted full reboots of the Jack Ryan franchise, with Ben Affleck now in the lead role. It was made at an unusual point in history, having finished shooting 3-months before the September 11th attacks, then the studio were left with a film about a devastating terrorist attack on the US, costing thousands of lives, featuring images of bloodied victims running around in clouds of ash and dust. It was released 6-months later but it's unclear if it was delayed, or if anything was recut to make it more/less like 911. Affleck is a bit dull as Ryan but he does keep to the analyst role, not the more action oriented Harrison Ford version. Liev Schreiber's covert CIA operative does most of the dirty work. Morgan Freeman is a worthy replacement for James Earl Jones, he has a different name but Freeman is basically the exact same character. The plot has some pacing problems. The big attack happens halfway through putting the US and Russia on the very brink of nuclear war but by then Ryan (and us the audience) already knows who really set off the bomb and who is good and who is bad, so various reasons have to engineered for Ryan not to be able to tell anybody for a whole hour. He can't find somebody, he finds them but then they die, people hang up the phone on him, his ID card doesn't work etc. Plus the shear scale of the carnage means the cheery picnic in the park ending feels misjudged. With all that said, 'The Sum of All Fears' is a decent espionage action-thriller.




Modern Times: The Way of All Flesh (1997)
Adam Curtis
tells the astonishing story that began in 1951 when a sample of cells was taken from Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman in Baltimore who was dying from aggressive cancer. Before then, making human cells grow outside of the body was very difficult but the cells of Lacks were discovered to grow at an incredible rate. Her cells were named HeLa cells and became widely used for medical research to this day. Except it was discovered decades later that HeLa cells were contaminating and obliterating other laboratory cell lines in a "survival of the fittest", so that years of research were wasted. This aspect follows the "unintended consequences" theme that Curtis often explores. It's ironic that HeLa cells kick-started the first major wave of cancer research, then were also responsible for ending it. Race in America, Cold-War tensions and the Presidency of Richard Nixon are wrapped up in the documentary.

 

IlFanEditore

Member
Messages
17
Reaction score
15
Trophy Points
8
I'm new around here, and I'm just surfing the forum. If this thread is open to any reviews, I'll post some short reviews of my favourite Italian movies (of course, because that's my country). Maybe someone will care, haha. I won't write anything about really famous movies such as La Dolce Vita or "The good, the bad and the ugly", considering that everything has already been told.


Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle thieves) - 1948

Ladri_di_biciclette_%28film%29.jpg

One of the most famous Neorealist movies by director Vittorio De Sica. It's main characters are played by non professional actors. The man who played the father was a factory worker. After the end of the war, Antonio (the main protagonist) gets a job of pasting advertising bills around Rome. During the first day of work, someone steals his bike, thus forcing Antonio and his son Bruno into a long search to find it. It's just a phenomenal movie, with a way of showing how a relatively simple thing as a bike can literally mean everything for a man. The ending is struggling.


Roma, città aperta (Rome, open city) - 1945
roma-citt%C3%A0-aperta-rossellini-cop-e1556057287508.jpg

Another Neorealist movie by Roberto Rossellini, starring Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi. It's more tragic than the previous one, being set during german occupation of Rome. There is death, poverty, despair and yet feeble hope represented by young children who "will" become new members of the Resistance. 100% approval rating of Rotten Tomatoes.


Suspiria - 1977
suspiria-argento-film-technicolor.jpg

Ok, yes, this is a really popular movie. But it had to be here. The score, the way it helped to revolutionize the horror genre, setting the movie not in a spooky castle, not in a dark forest, but inside a dancing school, was just an amazing idea. The main theme is iconical, and the use of color still feels original today.


Il Gattopardo (The leopard) - 1963
il-gattopardo-g.jpg

Political drama directed by Luchino Visconti, based on a famous novel that basically everyone here reads during high school. Set some time before Italy's reunification, in 1860, it tells the story of a noble sicilian family living during the growing changes in society (not just the unification, but also the role of middle class against nobility), with a criticism of the whole operation which led to a messy birth of the Italian state. Claudia Cardinale was a joy, as always.


Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (Investigation on a citizen above suspicion) - 1970
photo.jpg

Crime drama directed by one of the most political and leftist directors in Italy, Elio Petri. The main lead is played by my absolute favourite Italian actor, Gian Maria Volontè (internationally known for his roles in Spaghetti Westerns). It tells the story of a corrupted police man who, after killing his mistress, starts living a quasi-bipolar life. On one side, he wants to get away with it. On the other, he wants to be found guilty, but he finds extreme difficulties in this because other police men seem completely blind in front of clear evidence. Some great monologues and a perfect ending, with the dangerous 70's conflicts between police and students in the background. It won the Academy award for Best foreign picture.


C'eravamo tanto amati (We all loved each other so much) - 1974
ceravamo-tanto-amati-1974-cov932-932x460.jpg

A comedy-drama directed by Ettore Scola, and featuring some of my favourite actors ever, Vittorio Gassmann and Nino Manfredi. It tells a 25-years-long story of a group of friends who fought in the Resistance and then began different lives. One becomes some sort of nurse/keeper, the other becomes a professor obsessed with the movie "Bicycle thieves", and the third one becomes a corrupted business man. But their lives get intertwined again when the character played by Manfredi meets a young woman...
Amazing performance, great social analysis about what Italy was going to become, about friendship and love. Again, the ending, when Gassmann realizes what his life has become and what he has lost in his search for money and power, is wonderful.


...E tu vivrai nel terrore. L'Aldilà! (The Beyond) - 1981
cinzia-monreale-in-una-sequenza-del-film-e-tu-vivrai-nel-terrore-l-aldila-1981-138305.jpg

A horror movie directed by Lucio Fulci. During the first years of the 20th century, a man paints one of the doors which is one the seven entrances to Hell. Then the movie moves to the 80s, when a woman inherits an hotel which, you guessed it, is the same where the man painted the door. There are zombies, flesh-eating spiders, blind women, girls being shot in the head. The score is beautiful, and the grim ending feels so desperate and yet satisfying...


La maschera del demonio (Black Sunday) - 1960
La_Maschera_del_Demonio.jpg

Gothic horror movie directed by master Mario Bava, in his directorial debut. Witches, de-aging effects done decades before Rogue One or the MCU, and a stunning black and white. This movie heavily influenced Tim Burton's style, who paid homage to it during the opening of Sleepy Hollow.


Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot (They called him Jeeg) - 2015
Claudio-Santamaria-Luca-Marinelli-Lo-Chiamavano-Jeeg-Robot-2019.jpg

These last two are more recent movies. This one, directed by Gabriele Mainetti, is basically a cinecomic. Its strength lies in its desire to not copy the classic cinecomics. It's deeply Italian, with characters speaking roman dialect, with thieves and small crime gangs as villains and with the last act set at the most important soccer stadium in the city. Overall it's a pretty enjoyable movie, and the main villain works really great.


Il nido (The nest) - 2019
124865_l.jpg

During the last years, we restarted working on some horror movies (considering what past we had, with Argento, Fulci, Bava, etc.). This one was the best, in my opinion. The actors are really in parte, especially the mother and the kids. It starts as a "secret cult" movie, with a bunch of people living inside a huge house surrounded by fields and forests. There's a woman who acts as the leader, and there's her paraplegic son. The others are all people who live and work in the house. Everything feels creepy and out of place. Things start to change for the mother and her son when a young girl comes to live in the house...


I could have named other movies, of course. Fellini, Antonioni, Monicelli. But as a start I think these are quite good.
 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
^ Some fantastic Italian films there! and some of my own favourites.

I've not seen 'Investigation on a citizen above suspicion' but 'Faccia a faccia' and 'La classe operaia va in paradiso' (also by Elio Petri) are a couple of interesting Volonté ones I have watched (Leone movies not included). Hadn't heard of 'C'eravamo tanto amati', 'They called him Jeeg', or 'Il nido'. I didn't really care for 'The Beyond' but I did watch it in a terrible dubbed version. I'd add 'Umberto D.', 'Rocco and His Brothers', 'The Battle of Algiers', 'Nuovo Cinema Paradiso', 'La dolce vita' and 'Il Postino' to the list, plus 'La vita è bella' and 'Once Upon a Time in the West' are two of my all-time favourites from any country. Anything by Leone and Argento too.



Inside Story: £830,000,000 - Nick Leeson and the Fall of the House of Barings (1996)
BBC Documentarian Adam Curtis uses incredible access to infamous "rogue trader" Nick Leeson (interviewed while he's awaiting trial) to tell the story of how he brought down Barings Bank in just 3-years (Britain's oldest Merchant Bank, lender to royalty, founded 14-years before the US declared independence). Curtis also has interviews with Leeson's wife Lisa and many of the major players, including those embarrassed by the scandal, who you'd think would be shy about talking on camera. It's a "perfect storm" of people's willingness to believe a vast false reality if they are incentivised to do so, of an astonishing lack of financial oversight, of ancient gentlemanly incompetence and of Neeson's increasingly outlandish deceptions. The most revealing bit was when Leeson foolishly faxed a £50 million request for funds he'd put together with glue and Tipp-Ex from his own printer with "From: Nick and Lisa" printed at the top and still nobody noticed. Leeson comes across as totally lacking in remorse and in fact despising of the posh people in charge of Barings for being negligent enough to allow him to have gotten away with his criminality for so long. I'll have to rewatch the 1999 Ewan McGregor film to see how close it was to reality.




Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
Walter Hill's
Western bombed at the time but thanks to it's recent HD blu-ray remaster and addition to Netflix, it's ripe for rediscovery. The poor reception might be down to several things: A lack of a big central star, no romance subplot (infact there are no women in the film at all), Hill preferred the title 'The Geronimo War' which would've been more accurate to this ensemble war film, a TV movie on the same subject aired the week before and 'Dances with Wolves' and 'The Last of the Mohicans' (both of which also featured Wes Studi) had set high expectations for this type of thing a couple of years before. It's certainly not a biopic of Geronimo specifically, although he features heavily and is played with grave authority by Studi. It's more a serious attempt to depict the final act of the "Apache Wars" through the eyes of several real historical figures. They're proud men of good conscience, obliged to carry out orders they privately find unconscionable. The tone is best summed up with a line spoken by Robert Duvall's Chief Scout Al Sieber, to Jason Patric's Lt. Gatewood: "You're a real sad case. You don't love who you're fightin' for and you don't hate who you're fightin' against". Patric is an impressive horseman, pulling several complicated battle moves, clearly without a stuntman. Ry Cooder's score is composed to the tune of the old folk standard 'Poor Wayfaring Stranger' making it seem like music from the period the film takes place. There is a hint of John Ford's 'The Searchers' about Hill's film, it's also about a group of men tracking the wilderness and the iconic doorway shot is recreated.

(I watched this on Netflix which looked terrific but unfortunately there were no default English subtitles, when at least a third of the film is in Apache. So I had to switch on the CC which subtitles everything, including sound FX. Hopefully they fix this error.)

 

IlFanEditore

Member
Messages
17
Reaction score
15
Trophy Points
8
Ah, I see a man of culture here, hahaha!
Investigation is amazing. Among the others you haven't seen, C'eravamo tanto amati is by far the best. The acting is phenomenal.
All the others are also among my favourites. I just rewatched Umberto D some days ago, and Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita is the embodiment of charm.
From Petri I'd recommend also La Decima Vittima, and I really enjoyed the claustrophobic Todo Modo.
 
Last edited:

Hymie

Well-known member
Messages
783
Reaction score
40
Trophy Points
33
Just to add to the Italian film discussion, I'd like to add a few of my favorites

A Special Day
This film sees legends Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni flexing some serious acting chops set in the backdrop of two very different people dealing with Italy's plunge into fascism during WW2 and the growing friendship that builds among these two over the course of a day. Great film dealing with a lot of heavy subjects that's a far cry from the more comedic fare the two were known for when working together.

Divorce, Italian Style
This screwball-esque comedy sees Mastroianni desperate to leave his wife for a younger woman and tries to set up his wife to have an affair so he can bump her off and get with his much younger love. Hilarity ensues and is a fun time at the movies, with some pretty nice eye candy as well.

Time to Kill
In a rare Italian made movie from Academy award winner Nicolas Cage,this film sees Cage as an Italian soldier in Zimbabwe in the lead-up to WW2. Having to deal with a medical issue, Cage makes his way across the foreign landscape with many a crazy adventures along the way (many of which are a fabrication in his head due to his own paranoia). This film showcases an early example of Cage playing the usual unhinged and crazed character that his is more known for today by general audiences, though its hardly his best work its a performance worth seeing to see his evolution as an actor against the backdrop unseen in the rest of his career. A great score by Ennio Morricone makes this one to watch, if only to see the beginning of Cage.
 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
No Country for Old Men (2007)
It's taken me quite a while to get round to this acclaimed Coen Brothers film and yeah it's worth the praise, not "the 10th best film of the 21st century" but very good. The three co-leads are sensational. Tommy Lee Jones plays gravel-voiced thoughtful Texas Sheriff Bell on the trail of a headstrong hunter Moss (Josh Brolin) who has absconded with a bag of cartel money he found, while he's also being pursued by psychopathic hitman Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Chigurh is really terrifying because he kills for a reason, or kills for no reason and other times lets people live or die on the toss of a coin. His use of an air pressurised cattle bolt gun and a squealing silenced shotgun are also intimidating due to their unique sounds. The cat and mouse game between the three men is thrilling, especially when Moss turns out to be a more formidable opponent than the usually unstoppable Chigurh anticipates. The one problem I had with the film was with the last act. At a random point in the gripping chase it suddenly concludes (off screen) and then we spend the last 20-minutes with the characters sitting around ruminating on what has transpired. The theme of fate which is discussed in the last portion is present in the whole film but it had other things going on up to that point. As far as I can tell it's the same in Cormac McCarthy's novel. Maybe it's a fault of the Coen's film-making skills, they made the chase too damned exciting, unbalancing the tone of the story. Perhaps on a second viewing, when I know what to expect, I'll find the conclusion less of a let-down.





Miller's Crossing (1990)
The Coen Brothers create a rather wonderful, wryly comic Prohibition Gangster Noir. Gabriel Byrne plays the right-hand man to Albert Finney's Irish mob boss When Byrne's advice in a conflict against a "pretender to the crown" is ignored he begins to play both sides against each other, drifting through the carnage he unleashes. It's got all the convoluted "triple cross" plotting you expect from the Noir genre. If the humorous tone and more eccentric characterisations and performances had been reduced, I wondered whether this could've been a truly great and weighty crime saga on the level of 'The Godfather', instead of just a darn good yarn, that occasionally shows some real menace. Carter Burwell's Irish folk score (built around the traditional balled 'Lament for Limerick') is graceful and emotional. The twist ending (which has been compared to 'The Third Man') invites a rewatch, when you'll have a different view of the complex character motivations.


 
Last edited:

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
Rogue Trader (1999)
I re-watched this soon after the Adam Curtis documentary on Nick Leeson, so I could see it stuck very close to the facts, which is commendable. It's an amazing true-life story, so it would be difficult to not make the movie interesting too. Ewan McGregor does a decent impression of Leeson's Hertfordshire accent and a brilliant job of playing somebody imploding under immense pressure. Unfortunately the style feels very late-90s including trying to ape the 'Trainspotting' vibe, using dated music and dropping in lazy sexism. Anna Friel has a thankless task playing Leeson's wife Lisa. Nick was in jail for his crimes while the film was being shot (and based on his own book) but his wife was never implicated with anything, so perhaps they had to tread very carefully around the portrayal of Lisa Leeson. They can't imply she knew what was going on and it's difficult to portray her suspecting nothing, so they mostly resort to have her doing as little as possible. The supporting cast (playing real people) do an excellent job of conveying a mixture of greed, hubris, negligence and arrogance.


The whole movie is on youtube:




Every Day Is Like Sunday (2011)
A rough cut of an unfinished Adam Curtis documentary (which he released on his blog) about British Newspaper chairman Cecil King and his attempts to plan a coup against the Harold Wilson UK government. I'm not sure why the doc wasn't finished, or why Curtis decided to release it as was. It's mostly complete but there a couple of spots where the voice-over is missing (replaced by on-screen text), at least one mistake where the words "four votes" are used instead of "four seats" (quite an important detail!), all the "behind the scenes" footage of Fleet Street is interesting but needed way more trimming and the incredible direct link between the fall of King and the rise of Rupert Murdoch could have been explored in more depth.

 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
The latest film incarnation of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is the weakest but it still develops into an entertaining espionage action thriller. Unfortunately it opts to portray Ryan's backstory (which clearly wasn't required for the first four films) wasting a quarter of the movie's runtime before the actual plot begins. I like Chris Pine a lot but he brings nothing to the role apart from his own personality and his chemistry with Keira Knightley is nil. Kenneth Branagh does a decent job of directing the action, also playing the Russian villain with a Bond baddie swagger, plus a little depth to his motivations. Kevin Costner adds a real touch of a class as Ryan's mentor figure, but it does make you want the movie to be about him instead. The constant protestations of Ryan that "I'm just an analyst?!" wear a bit thin by the 10th car-chase/fist-fight/gun-battle/bike-chase he's involved in. The other Jack Ryan films at least made an attempt to make it look like the desk-bound bean-counter was being forced into dangerous situations and not just "he's a super spy, he can do anything!". Branagh's usual composer Patrick Doyle does a cracking score and I kinda liked the way it went into a techno version of the main theme for the credits like a throwback to the 90s.



Living in an Unreal World (2016)
A short Vice-Media film directed by Adam Curtis which also comprises a trailer for his 'HyperNormalisation' film. This was 5-years ago but still sounds like it's talking about our present and future, a future which we seem to have collectively decided is unavoidable.

 
Last edited:

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
Fellini: A Director's Notebook (1969)
It seems incredible that something this odd was made and broadcast by NBC in 1969. Federico Fellini creates an experimental "documentary" about the past, present and future of Rome and his abandoned project 'The Voyage of G. Mastorna' and the filming of his latest film 'Satyricon'. I become aware at one point that he's filming a documentary about him pretending to film a documentary about him pretending to make a film that he's really making (if that makes sense?). It's a lot of fun! I suspect Orson Welles might have seen this before embarking on his 1973 film 'F for Fake' because I detected some stylistic DNA. I watched the version included on the bonus features to Criterion's blu-ray of '8 1/2' but the transfer looks terrible, sounds terrible and lacks optional subtitles.




Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story (2018)
A really wonderful documentary about the life of Chris Sievey, the man inside the papier-mâché mask of his character Frank Sidebottom, who was the inspiration for the fictional 2014 Michael Fassbender film 'Frank' (co-written by a member of Sievey's band). He was obviously an endlessly creative and inventive Punk musician, artist, programmer/coder, animator and comedian. But I just knew him as the Sidebottom character who I'd see on children's TV when I was about 10. I loved the bit about Sievey releasing a 1983 7" with the single on the A-side, then electronic audio code (plus a game he'd written) on the flip side which could be loaded into a Sinclair ZX81 computer to play the video. I really need to explore the music of this strange lost genius.



A youtube video of a guy loading and syncing Sievey's single 'Camouflage' on to a real Sinclair ZX81 (and doing a scratch mix at the end). So awesome!:

 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
The Trap (2007)
In 'The Trap' Adam Curtis documents various attempts to define and shape human behaviour for the better, which always seems to turn out for the worse. It also explores the idea that if you think you have a plan for making the world a perfect paradise, you'll permit any atrocity in order to attain it. The ends will always justify the means. The documentary looks into the theories of John Nash, the RAND corporation, R.D. Laing, Friedrich von Hayek, Isaiah Berlin etc and their influence on Thatcher, Reagan, Clinton, Blair, the "free market", performance targets in the NHS, the fall of Communism and "regime change" in Iraq. The soundtrack again uses music from John Carpenter films, including the beautiful orchestral version of the 'Starman' theme. I noticed this is the first Curtis film in the then "new" widescreen format, unfortunate for all the old archive 4:3 footage that gets cropped.


One of the all-time best pieces of film music IMO:

 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
The Power of Nightmares (2004)
'The Power of Nightmares'
was the first Adam Curtis film I watched and although it's speaking very specifically from and to the post-911 years it's still an amazing documentary. The overall theme is about fear being used as a tool of political influence, which is like the "stick" to the "carrot" he explored in 'The Century of the Self'. Curtis contrasts and compares the development of the US Neocon movement, alongside the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and discuses the intertwined history that they and the Soviets had in Afghanistan during the Cold War, as well as the Clinton sex scandals and the increasing political power of US Christians. The most interesting argument he makes is that the 1944 pop song 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is in an odd way partly responsible for al-Qaeda. Curtis' claim that the threat of organised international terrorism was greatly exaggerated post-911 was probably true but the subsequent organised power of IS in the years after this documentary make his statements sound a little short sighted in retrospect. The soundtrack again uses John Carpenter music which I loved.

 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
51TypicWK7L._AC_[1].jpg


Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014)
This documentary history of schlock maestros Cannon Films and it's two head honchos Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus is as entertaining as all the reviews say. It's edited together with the energy and pace of the films they are talking about, moving from film to film with only enough time to discuss the juiciest of anecdotes, reveal the wackiest ideas and show the biggest of explosions. It's obvious this retrospective was put together 3, or 4 years before #metoo because it's produced by Brett Ratner, it makes light of Michael Winner's totally unacceptable onset behaviour (although it does make clear what a horrible sh*t he was) and in the summing up somebody favourably compares the Golan/Globus way of operating to the Weinstein brothers. It's perhaps fortunate that this was made when it was because now you'd have to spend half the runtime (quite rightly) discussing the rampant sexism, lax employment practices and shady financial dealings, instead of just showing some fun movie clips. The film also suggests that 'Masters of the Universe' wasn't a good film, which is clearly a wrong opinion! ;)


Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010)
An earlier documentary by Mark Hartley, maker of 'Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films' in a similar vein about the exploitation films of the 70s/80s Philippines. The rapid editing of clips and anecdotes is just as fun but the fact that I hadn't heard of a single one of the B-movies being discussed took away from my enjoyment a tiny bit in comparison. The brilliant interviews are with the crème de la crème of genre cinema including Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Pam Grier, Sid Haig, John Landis and Dick Miller. Dante (who cut trailers for Corman) is brilliant value, describing the crazy times he had like an cheeky schoolboy. Despite the total lack of health and safety, disreputable material and cockroach infested sets, the cast and crew seem to have enjoyed themselves and are fairly proud of what they achieved.

NSFW trailer:


The double-bill blu-ray is highly reccomend since it also features nearly 3-hour of vintage trailers, plus all kinds of other extras I haven't scratched the surface of yet.
 
Last edited:

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
Imagine (1972)
A 70-minute film made by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which is an elaborate home video and a visual companion to Lennon's 1971 'Imagine' album, edited in the same track order. Unfortunately it's interrupted by 3 or 4 tracks/videos for Ono's 1971 avant-garde album 'Fly', it's not my taste. Sometimes the videos are absolutely beautiful, sometimes they are quirky and funny but sometimes they are self-indulgent and patience-testing, the kind of thing you can only get away with when the music is this good and the two people are as fascinating as "Joko" (the combined name the film is credited to). The sequence where the same door opens again and again and again to reveal different people and different mood music really made me giggle.

 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
Bambi (1942)
'Bambi'
is the only early Disney film I'd never seen but I was familiar with many elements anyway. I didn't really enjoy it, it feels more like a technical exercise in accurately animating the body movements and characteristics of animals and portraying the life cycle of a deer, rather than an eventful story with engaging characters, conflict and adventure. The animation is beautifully observed, with twitching ears, snuffling noses and hesitant neck movements but the vague painted backgrounds are a bit basic. Perhaps I needed to see this first as a nipper to have been swept up with the magic. 'Bambi' felt way longer than it's 65-minute runtime.

 

TM2YC

Well-known member
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,198
Reaction score
486
Trophy Points
198
The Bank Job (2008)
The blandly descriptive title of 'The Bank Job' doesn't help distinguish this terrific heist-movie from a plethora of post-'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' cockney-gangster B-movies. The clever script brings together several real historical events (with some of "The names changed to protect the guilty") like the 1971 "Baker Street robbery", the chequered story of black-power activist Michael X (involving murder, extortion and John Lennon) and rumoured sex scandals involving Princess Margaret's society friends and government ministers. It's got just the right mix of believable period atmosphere and specific details from the real cases, combined with heist movie and spy caper fun. The robbers aren't professionals so they have to solve problems in the moment which they hadn't anticipated, adding much to the drama. Plus they are really likeable and honourable (in their way) low-level chancers, surrounded by a world of corrupt cops, violent underworld kingpins, powerful upper class figures and ruthless spies, so in comparison it's easy to see the gang as Robin Hood heroes. Sir David Suchet always adds a touch a class but he also adds real menace.

 
Top Bottom