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A few reviews

Editzilla

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Just saw Violent Night today. A fun blast of a film with David Harbour killing it as Santa.
However the Norse elements with Santa's past they introduced in the film weren't really utilized well/fleshed out which is a damn shame cause they would have added a bit more fresh flavor to the film.
Still a delightful brutal romp though, and it does give us the R-Rated Home Alone we all wish for in parts.

8/10
 

TM2YC

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Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
‘Top Gun: Maverick’
is a game of two halves. You can tell from the slavishly recreated opening titles that they were desperately trying to recapture the blazing glamour of Tony Scott's photography but they fail despite having 4x the budget to work with. It has a cheap, digital, televisual blandness. I hate the current fad (please god let it be a fad!) for having everything else in a shot completely out of focus. Nothing looks cheaper and using it for scope framing is deranged because you’re presenting two faces for us to look at but making only one of them clearly visible. It makes it look like everyone is standing on a flimsy green-screen stage, when you know they are on an expensive set, or on location. Aside from the terrible cinematography, the dialogue is boring, the film is too long and it’s full of superficially rehashed beats from the original classic and it's structurally in heavy debt to ‘Star Wars’. Apparently reworking plot beats from 'Star Wars' made 'The Force Awakens' the worst movie ever made but doing the same in 'Top Gun: Maverick' makes it the best movie ever made, for reasons I don't fully understand. There’s also a regrettable lack of enjoyable cheesiness and campy homoeroticism, which was all over the original, but is lacking from the new film but maybe that’s just me.

On the other hand, the aerial action sequences are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Those sequences are shot well, they look grand and expensive. The last quarter is totally dedicated to the big mission, it’s pure magic from start to finish. The new cast do a terrific job of riding the line between super cocky bravado hotshots and cheeky likeability. There is more than enough good stuff in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ to make a great film, after some judicious and merciless fanediting. I'd almost be happy with a fanedit that was just the last third and threw the first two thirds in a dumpster.




Titanic (1997)
A master work, from a master craftsman. It was on TV, so I thought I'd watch a little bit, then 3-hours later I was still watching. I don't think I'd appreciated before how the first shot of Rose looking up at the Titanic, which for her represents "slavery", mirrors the final two shots of the main movie (before the epilogue), where we get the same camera angle looking down on Rose, on another dock, as she looks up at the Statue of Liberty, which for her represents... well you know. One of the late great James Horner's most beautiful scores. It's been 13-years since 'Avatar' and 25-years (nearly to the day) since 'Titanic', so it's almost time for a new James Cameron water-based blockbuster adventure. I can't wait!


I wrote a more detailed review last year: https://letterboxd.com/tm2yc/film/titanic-1997/
 

TM2YC

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A Paul Schrader double bill...

Blue Collar (1978)
I knew from the attitude of the expletive laden Captain Beefheart and Jack Nitzsche soundtracked opening credits blues number 'Hard Workin' Man', that 'Blue Collar' was going to be brilliant. Nitzsche industrial blues score continues pounding through the film and the characters continue the swearing, dropping the most uses of the term "M*thaf*cka" I've heard in a movie... and that's just when they're talking to their friends and kids. What starts off as a warm, humorous portrait of the friendship between three working class auto workers, eventually morphs into an angry political howl about the systems that can control us. There doesn't seem to be a point where you notice the tone changing, Paul Schrader handles it so well. You couldn't ask for three better co-leads than Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto. 'Blue Collar' should be remembered as one of the greatest films of the late 70s but I'd barely heard of it, until Indicator's lovely blu-ray re-release the other year.

It did not surprise me one bit to read that two people, Spike Lee and Bruce Springsteen, rank 'Blue Collar' amongst their favourite films. The freeze-frame/voice-over ending is pure proto-Spike and given the dates, you'd have to wonder if Springsteen didn't walk out of a theatre playing 'Blue Collar' and go home and write songs like 'Factory' from his 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' LP. Plus I could easily believe that Ridley Scott watched this and thought "This is exactly how I want my working class characters in 'Alien' to talk" and a year later cast Yaphet Kotto as basically the same character.


Unfortunately the only way to hear the uncensored version of the Beefheart vocal is apparently on the film's mono soundtrack mix. NSFW:



Light Sleeper (1992)
'Light Sleeper'
concludes a run of five Paul Schrader films I've recently watched for the first time and they're all brilliant. I'm sure he's directed a few stinkers but I haven't found them yet. Willem Dafoe plays John LeTour, an insomniac former drug addict and current high-class drug supplier, living a monk-like existence in New York. I assumed this was the setup for the character to lose his tightly controlled grip on his sanity and his addictions but it all plays out quite differently. 'Light Sleeper' starts off slow (in a good way) but grows in intensity. There are structural parallel's with Schrader's script for 'Taxi Driver' (which I assume are deliberate) but these characters are gentler and exhibit surprising kindness for the dark criminal underworld in which they exist.

 

Moe_Syzlak

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Amsterdam. Tonally, I felt this was uneven and meandering. It had its moments when I really enjoyed it and I felt taken by the movie. But then something would undermine all of that and pull me out of it. Some of the editing choices were truly baffling to me. The fact that it was way overstuffed with A-list stars was also a distraction to me. I don’t know why it took me so out of the movie when similar casting in, say, a Wes Anderson movie doesn't bother me. For that matter, it seems to want to be quirky like an Anderson movie, but it just feels disjointed. I never felt pulled along by the plot and there was close to zero tension. Worse, I felt I must be missing something throughout only to discover in the end, nope, I wasn’t; it just didn’t have that much to say.

I’m sad to say I think I’m officially not a fan of John David Washington. I had hoped that his performance in Tenet was either direction or a poor choice on his part on how to play the role. But I think he’s just not very magnetic and I just don’t think he’s a talent on the level of the roles he’s been given.

I found the movie overall frustrating. It felt like there was a good movie to be made with more refinement of the script, some better editing choices, less flashy casting, and frankly better direction that could’ve kept it tonally consistent. Honestly, there were probably several good movies to be made if a few of the smaller, more enjoyable vignettes were expanded. But as it was this movie left me flat.
 

TM2YC

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Contact (1997)
'Contact'
is almost a great film which I feel compelled to revisit every few years, there are things I hate but much more that I love. Jodie Foster's character Dr. Ellie Arroway is such an inspiring hero, who stands for everything good and noble. The bits that make me want to shout at the film, are like when Matthew McConaughey's Palmer comes back at Ellie's statement that there is no proof of God's existence with asking her to prove her love for her father. She looks dumbfounded and we quickly cut to the next bit of the plot as if there is no answer she could possibly give to such a "profound" piece of sophistry, when there are many obvious retorts. Not least that the correct analogy would be "prove your father existed", not proving that Ellie loved him, because nobody disbelieves that some people love God. Proving that Ellie's father existed is easy, proving that God exists is difficult. There are a few other moments where Ellie has the opportunity to give a spirited defence of her principles (a "Picard speech" if you will) but she crumples under the pressure of hectoring, louder voices. The irritation of these sequences is often magnified by McConaughey giving this unbearably condescending and self-satisfied performance and I usually love McConaughey's folksy charm.

The real kicker for me is the end where we're left with Ellie learning the lesson that she should except things on blind faith, instead of her defiantly saying something like "Okay I'm left with no proof for what I just experienced, so I'm going to continue my life-long search for that proof". The script sort of has her half-heartedly saying something along those lines, to a kid but it's too vague and immediately follows her saying the opposite thing. While Tom Skerritt's close-minded and cynical scientist antagonist feels fully rounded, motivated in his actions (or lack thereof) and an interesting screen presence, James Woods' belligerent politician antagonist seems to oppose Ellie, just to be a d*ck. The usually excellent Alan Silvestri provides an at times cloying and sentimental score and the FX and cinematography look very 90s in a bad way. I can't get over the repeated pronunciation of "primer" like "prim and proper", instead of like "prime position", or "primed to explode", it's painful to hear. I genuinely didn't know what the hell the characters were talking about the first time I watched this movie.

Despite some of these flaws, 'Contact' has a lot to say and much of it has become more relevant in the last quarter century. Including social media hysteria, denial of reality, privately funded space travel and the easy overshadowing of scientific uncertainty, by moral certainty. Plus it now feels like a welcome companion piece to the more artistically successful 'Interstellar' (coincidentally also starring McConaughey), exploring similar intersections between time, space travel, belief, disbelief and the love between a father and daughter bridging worlds. 'Contact' captures something ineffable about the thrill of exploration into the unknown and the wonder of scientific discovery, that really makes me smile. I didn't know that George Miller did a couple of years of pre-production on 'Contact', including the decision to cast Foster, before being fired at the last minute. I wonder what that would've been like?

 

mnkykungfu

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That was just an example of one way the movie could be changed. I'd have been equally satisfied if it had gone in the opposite direction and had Anderton suffering no doubts and passionately defending the system, completely content to live with it's flaws because of it's clear benefits. But he does neither thing, it's never (shown to have) occurred to him that it's obviously a fundamentally flawed system.



I don't think it's shown that he's learned anything at all. He brings down the system (and brings back mass murder) with zero thought, the same zero thought he put into perpetuating the system in the first place. He's merely discovered that via an extremely torturous and improbable method (that would be practically impossible to replicate again) that the system could be unsuccessfully and temporarily fooled once by someone with unique access and control over the precog system. For that slim reason (and his own selfish survival) he brings the whole system down and restarts the cycle of killing.

Incidentally, I was watching Psycho-Pass recently and thinking how it does a lot of what you seem to have been hoping for with Minority Report. Essentially, it's a seemingly utopian future that turns out to have a kind of dystopian thought-police at its core. The main characters in the series (and follow-up film) are constantly interrogating this idea, the validity of the system. It doesn't have a neat resolution either, unlike MR.
I wrote up the story with a bit more description here.
 

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Amistad (1997)
'Amistad'
takes place in a fascinating specific legal and moral "grey area" of history (it's not grey now of course), set about 30-years after Britain began policing a ban on slave trading in the Atlantic but about 30-years before the 13th amendment abolished it domestically in the US. So the famous historical Amistad trial is at a point when what is legal and what is illegal, are not necessarily related in any way with what is right and what is wrong. Where matters of humanity and dignity are subordinate, or even irrelevant, to matters of politics and finance. Steven Spielberg, his cast and David Franzoni's script make the most of this. Morgan Freeman plays a freedman (appropriately) who is concerned with simply saving the lives of the Amistad survivors, where as his associate (Stellan Skarsgard), a fellow abolitionist, is prepared to sacrifice them for "the greater good" of their martyrdom towards the burgeoning anti-slavery cause. He's almost an antagonist in this respect. Matthew McConaughey plays the cunning, bluntly speaking, young lawyer who can see that at this moment in US history, proving their case before the law in matters of property and jurisdiction is all that is required to save the men, not greater noble ideals. The decision not to subtitle the African characters in jeopardy is a master-stroke. The performances by the likes of Djimon Hounsou are so good that we understand them most of the time anyway, and it underlines how bewildering it would be to try and defend oneself without being able to communicate effectively and conveys a good sense of how frightening it must have been to be kidnapped to such an alien place. Spielberg makes you wait right to the end for Anthony Hopkins to give his big commanding legal speech (it does not disappoint), devoting a 10 whole minutes to it and to John Williams music... although in reality, John Quincy Adams spoke for 4-hours! Spielberg does these historical dramas so well, like 'Empire of the Sun', 'Munich' and 'The Post' but 'Amistad' is a great companion piece for his 2012 film 'Lincoln'. A quality film to revisit again.

By the way, it's surprising how many of the actors in 'Amistad' are in the MCU, including a cherubic Chiwetel Ejiofor.


 

mnkykungfu

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Contact (1997)
'Contact'
is almost a great film which I feel compelled to revisit every few years, there are things I hate but much more that I love. Jodie Foster's character Dr. Ellie Arroway is such an inspiring hero, who stands for everything good and noble. The bits that make me want to shout at the film, are like when Matthew McConaughey's Palmer comes back at Ellie's statement that there is no proof of God's existence with asking her to prove her love for her father. She looks dumbfounded and we quickly cut to the next bit of the plot as if there is no answer she could possibly give to such a "profound" piece of sophistry, when there are many obvious retorts. Not least that the correct analogy would be "prove your father existed", not proving that Ellie loved him, because nobody disbelieves that some people love God. Proving that Ellie's father existed is easy, proving that God exists is difficult. There are a few other moments where Ellie has the opportunity to give a spirited defence of her principles (a "Picard speech" if you will) but she crumples under the pressure of hectoring, louder voices. The irritation of these sequences is often magnified by McConaughey giving this unbearably condescending and self-satisfied performance and I usually love McConaughey's folksy charm.

The real kicker for me is the end where we're left with Ellie learning the lesson that she should except things on blind faith, instead of her defiantly saying something like "Okay I'm left with no proof for what I just experienced, so I'm going to continue my life-long search for that proof". The script sort of has her half-heartedly saying something along those lines, to a kid but it's too vague and immediately follows her saying the opposite thing. While Tom Skerritt's close-minded and cynical scientist antagonist feels fully rounded, motivated in his actions (or lack thereof) and an interesting screen presence, James Woods' belligerent politician antagonist seems to oppose Ellie, just to be a d*ck. The usually excellent Alan Silvestri provides an at times cloying and sentimental score and the FX and cinematography look very 90s in a bad way. I can't get over the repeated pronunciation of "primer" like "prim and proper", instead of like "prime position", or "primed to explode", it's painful to hear. I genuinely didn't know what the hell the characters were talking about the first time I watched this movie.

Despite some of these flaws, 'Contact' has a lot to say and much of it has become more relevant in the last quarter century. Including social media hysteria, denial of reality, privately funded space travel and the easy overshadowing of scientific uncertainty, by moral certainty. Plus it now feels like a welcome companion piece to the more artistically successful 'Interstellar' (coincidentally also starring McConaughey), exploring similar intersections between time, space travel, belief, disbelief and the love between a father and daughter bridging worlds. 'Contact' captures something ineffable about the thrill of exploration into the unknown and the wonder of scientific discovery, that really makes me smile. I didn't know that George Miller did a couple of years of pre-production on 'Contact', including the decision to cast Foster, before being fired at the last minute. I wonder what that would've been like?


I suspect what you most love about Contact (and probably the same for a lot of people) is to be found in the original book by Carl Sagan. The film itself I've always thought was a mass-market, watered-down swing at Sagan's ideas. In baseball terms, I don't know that I'd call that swing a Strike or a Foul, but it's not better than a Ball.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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I’m not a big fan of Zemeckis. I like BttF and Contact, but I definitely think Contact would’ve been much better with a different director. I think it’s pretty analogous to the discussion about Minority Report: if the ideas had been more front and center instead of trying to make it “play to the masses,” it would’ve been more successful for me. I’d still much prefer to rewatch Contact than pretty much any other Zemeckis movie save for BttF … or Minority Report for that matter.
 

TM2YC

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A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
‘A Fistful of Dollars’
is an important film that redefined the Western genre but it always feels like a small rough sketch of what Sergio Leone, Ennio Morricone and Clint Eastwood were capable of. It’s got an iconic beginning for Clint “My mule don’t like people laughing” and an iconic finale with the improvised breastplate but it’s also got a lot of convoluted plotting in the middle where Clint doesn’t perform any particularly memorable feats and Leone doesn’t display much of his stylistic flair. It’s a decent film but when I want to rewatch a Leone Western I’ll usually reach for the other three, which have more rewards for repeat viewing. One of the things I always enjoy is Clint’s relationship with the innkeeper. I love the moment when the old innkeeper bravely challenges the bad guys and defends the husband of the kidnapped wife, as Clint stands like a statue behind him. Everyone is actually scared of what Clint might do but it’s still the little innkeeper who made the stand for what is right.




For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Like the three bear's porridge, this middle entry in the Dollars trilogy is "just right". It's more stylish, more action packed, funnier, better written, better edited, better scored and with a much larger scope than the first movie but it doesn't have the bloat and lack of narrative focus of the epic length third part (although I like all three). Sergio Leone does do everything he does here, ten times better in 'Once Upon a Time in the West' but 'For a Few Dollars More' is my favourite Clint Eastwood & Leone film. Clint has minimal dialogue, same as 'A Fistful of Dollars' but now when he does speak, it's usually a memorable one-liner. The way he growls "Your life" in response to the question "Didn't hear what the bet was?", is just the coolest. His friendly rivalry with Lee Van Cleef is delightful and Gian Maria Volonté is one of the best insane movie villains ever.

 

mnkykungfu

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^I thought I was the only one! Glad to see more support for the middle of the sandwich.
 

TM2YC

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A Few Good Men (1992)
I'm not sure if we are supposed to view Tom Cruise's lawyer as a likeable, maverick, hotshot and Demi Moore's lawyer as a "by the book" hard-ass, or if Cruise is supposed to be seen as an arrogant, inexperienced c*ck and Moore as a tough, diligent, fearless woman, determined to win in an entirely male dominated power structure. I very much felt the latter, or thought that's what it should be about at least. I've rarely been more aware of "the male gaze" than in the superb scene where Cruise and Moore try to question Jack Nicholson's aggressive Colonel. In an attempt to rattle them, he flings homophobic abuse at Cruise but first he directs sexism and sexual innuendo at Moore but Director Rob Reiner mostly plays the reaction on Cruise's face. It was a bizarre and distracting piece of editing for me, especially as Moore is fantastic in this film. Some of the other performances are in danger of being overblown but she's cool and controlled. Maybe the script by young newcomer Aaron Sorkin needed a similarly younger Director than Reiner, who could've brought those moments up to the immediacy of the writing. I liked the way the movie didn't show us exactly what really happened on the night in question but we still 100% know what happened just by the way Nicholson's furious face reacts to the investigation. The big iconic line at the end is well earned by the tense courtroom drama that precedes it.

 

Moe_Syzlak

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The Banshees of Inisherin. I’m not sure how to describe this film without it being a spoiler. But it’s a spoiler that I think one is actually better off knowing going in. So I’ll leave it to you to decide if you want to know or not. The Banshees of Inisherin is an allegorical fable about the Irish Civil War set on the fictional Irish island of Inisherin, for all intents and purposes one of the Aran Islands. It was filmed, in part, on Inis Mór. Full disclosure: I just spent some time on Inis Mór in the spring, so that definitely colored my impressions. I admit to not exactly being a scholar of the Irish Civil War, but I do know a bit about the Irish history of the late 20th century, particularly the 80s and 90s. Knowing this history definitely makes it a deeper story; so much so that I wish I had done some brushing up on Irish Civil War history. Still, it’s a tribute to the film that I feel I understand that conflict better having simply watched the film. What I wouldn’t give to spend a day in an Irish pub discussing this movie with someone for whom this history has been lived. Perhaps I will.

The film is beautifully shot and the acting is across the board phenomenal. I’d be shocked if Farrell and Gleeson don’t at least get nominated. And Keoghan and Condon deserve to be as well. I felt it was perfectly balanced between the tragic and often macabre and the humor. It is downright hilarious at time and stomach-turning tragic at others. It’s far and away the best movie I’ve seen so far this year.
 

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Pale Rider (1985)
'Pale Rider'
makes an excellent companion piece to 'High Plains Drifter', which Clint Eastwood again stars in, produces and directs. Eastwood plays another mysterious, nameless figure, simply referred to as "The Preacher", who rides into a frontier mining community to clean things up. Except this time it's in answer to prayers of an entirely different sort. On the surface, 'Pale Rider' is a real classic Western in the 'Shane' mould, with the same sort of "man of peace", reluctant to take up his guns again but of course we actually really want him to, so we can have a big cathartic showdown. 'Pale Rider' doesn't disappoint in this respect. The film didn't need the subplot with the mother being in love with "The Preacher" and her 15-year daughter begging 55-year old Clint to take her virginity, eww (both of which he refuses, to be clear). I'm not sure what that was supposed to signify? I noticed a minor 'The Thing' reunion, featuring Richard Dysart and Charles Hallahan as another two dubious characters in a snowbound wilderness.

The original trailer will sound unintentionally ridiculous for UK viewers, as it uses the same theme music that has opened/closed Channel 4 News everyday for 43-years:


 

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The Two Jakes (1990)
I wasn't expecting this 16-years-too-late sequel to 'Chinatown' to have a story so intertwined with the first movie. So going in, you need to either make yourself super-familiar with the plot and characters of 'Chinatown' already, or watch the two films in a double-bill. I did neither, so I was sometimes confused and when I wasn't confused, I was struggling to remember the significance of the call backs. The last of only three films which Jack Nicholson has directed, 'The Two Jakes' is more than competent in all departments but no part rises above that. Which is disappointing considering all the award-winning talent involved but if you like LA-set Noirs... and I do... then it's got all the familiar private-eye ingredients and atmosphere that you'll enjoy.

 

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Following on from my review of 'Ghostwatch' a month ago:


Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains (2012)
At first I was thinking "Ooooh no" when I realised that this 90-minute documentary didn't have the rights to use any footage of the thing it was actually talking about (the BBC's controversial 1992 pseudo-reality horror film 'Ghostwatch'). However, this limitation means the film has no other choice than to have an in-depth, intelligent, factual and dry (in a good way) debate about the notorious TV event, it's conception and it's aftermath. Virtually everyone in front and behind the camera is interviewed. All the info on the office politics within the BBC management after the tabloid furore was fascinating. Any film documentary that features a lot of writer/critic Kim Newman talking is a very good thing.

 

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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
So desperate have I been to watch this uncut, like it always was when I was a kid on VHS/TV, that I've made my own versions, combining 4:3 pan & scan with widescreen, then widescreen laserdisc with blu-ray but now at last, finally, for the 30th anniversary, Disney have bothered to restore this classic in 4K and put it back on the big screen. What idiot executives thought cutting out Oscar winning actor Sir Michael Caine crying on camera was ever a good idea. His little broken hearted duet with Belle is the beating heart of the film (plus the song has an inverted celebratory reprise at the end), which had me tearing up and then in a near permanent state of emotional fragility until the end, blubbing again when Kermit and Miss Piggy's voices are breaking talking about their son's grave site and the look on Scrooge's face when he is given his red scarf. I still won't be happy until Disney put this complete version out on blu-ray, so I can own it forever and not have to be reliant on them allowing me to watch a poor quality version, via a bonus feature on their streaming service. By the way, I don't think I'd ever noticed before that just as the camera first pans down on to Gonzo and Rizzo selling apples, they can be heard saying "Christmas apples... macintosh... red delicious...".




Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
I was a bit surprised with all the negative reviews this got. I suspected some of it was down to people watching it at home and not on the big loud cinema screen like I did, due to intermittent lockdown levels during the original release. It does loose some of it's sparkle on the small screen, for example, Hans Zimmer's majestic opening 'Themyscira' theme doesn't quite take flight in the same way on smaller home speakers. However, the two antagonists are even better written, motivated and acted than I remembered. You often hear people complaining about weak comic book movie villains but still somehow being down on this movie? Perhaps the focus given to fleshing them out and spending time on the serious drama of their problems, does mean less time for Wonder Woman herself and what time there is necessarily needs to be more actioned packed and comedic to balance things out. I was thinking it might be possible to make a fanedit of this film without Wonder Woman, just about Max Lord wanting "the world and everything in it" (to quote 'Scarface'), then realising his son's unconditional love is enough. I'd forgotten that WW84 is a Christmas movie and not just because it ends with the characters strolling though a Xmas market, it's got that 'It's a Wonderful Life' thing of wishing for something to be different, only so you can realise to love what you've got and the general Christmas story building block of a family being brought back together by the end. Max Lord is analogous with George Bailey.

Whatever you think of the film, this is one of the greatest trailers ever!:


This a great piece of music and with the youth choir it sounds very Christmassy (or I'm imaging it due to the time of year):

 
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TM2YC

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Home Alone (1990)
I haven't watched this in years so I forgot two things. 1: John William's score is completely magical and 2: Oh god, all the shrieking, shouting and general cacophonous noise on the soundmix is like nails on the blackboard. Thank goodness for the late great John Candy, being the one actor underplaying every line with dead-pan, mundane realism, he got all the laughs from me. Maybe I'm getting older but the conversation in the church was the biggest moment for me, all the booby trap shenanigans afterwards, felt like an anti-climax.

Maybe there are a couple of fanedits here. One just to tastefully tone down the more hysterical moments and another to remove the burglary plot, so it's simply a gentle story of a kid left alone at Christmas, finding his courage and inspiring another to find theirs.




A Time to Kill (1996)
'A Time to Kill'
is a good courtroom drama embroiled in simmering racism, in (then) modern day Mississippi. It's got some challenging and controversial view points but I don't mind being challenged. You can't help comparing it to 1962's superior 'To Kill a Mockingbird' but this film is much more morally murky, visually sleazy (in the hands of Director Joel Schumacher) and the defence lawyer and his client aren't as noble and clean cut. The cast is stuffed with top-tier acting talent including Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland and Charles S. Dutton. The only problem is the script from hack Star Trek writer Akiva Goldsman, which feels like he tried to put the whole of John Grisham's novel into the film, there are too many characters and too many subplots crowding the screen time. Sandra Bullock, Donald Sutherland and Oliver Platt's characters could have been rolled into one character.

 

DonkeyKonga

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I recently watched the entire 'The human condition' trilogy and I'll be damned if it isnt one if the best movies about war I've ever seen.

Right up there with apocalypse now and the deer hunter.

Every shot is absolutely gorgeous and the black and white works so well. The acting is all around terrific, although certain action scenes can feel a bit dated. This is contrasted by other scenes being better than any other war movies I've seen.

The first movie is the weakest of the bunch, in that it's a sloooow movie. I do think you could cut about 30 minutes off, and still tell the same story. 8/10

Part two really picks up the pace and is basically Full metal Jacket - The older japanese version. Its 9/10.

Part three is one of the most intense war films ever made in my opinion. Not that its that gruesome, but it hits you with its bleakness. The ending is bar none the best ending I've ever seen in a war film, and there is some serious competition there. 10/10.

It is a grind, but once you watch it in its entirety you'll come to the realisation that you've seen a masterpiece of epic proportions.

It's amazing to me how this movie isnt better known.
 

TM2YC

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See How They Run (2022)
I happened to of recently watched a new BBC documentary series 'Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley on the Mystery Queen' which covered the story behind the making of 'The Mousetrap' stage play in some detail, so I was primed to enjoy this clever murder mystery, tribute and send-up, which takes place backstage at the famous production. I'm sure many will make comparisons to 'Knives Out' but I actually preferred this, it doesn't try quite as hard to create a convoluted plot, concentrating more on witty homages to the genre and a truly wonderful Holmes and Watson relationship between Saoirse Ronan's enthusiastic but inexperienced young Constable Stalker and Sam Rockwell's jaded Inspector Stoppard. I really want to watch this pair in a sequel solving another crime and exploring how their careers and relationship develop further. 'See How They Run' also has some well aimed jabs at paternal sexism within the Metropolitan Police, which given the scandals of recent years, seems to have advanced very little from the 1953 setting of this terrific caper.


By the way, if like me you've never seen 'The Mousetrap' play. Don't worry, this film doesn't spoil the plot. A nice touch of class.



Black Girl (1966)
I'm watching this now because it's just been added to Sight & Sound's list of the "100 Greatest Films of All Time" and it's place is well deserved. Senegalese Writer/Director Ousmane Sembène made a film ahead of it's time, not just speaking about the specific 1960s setting but it's still relevant now. Themes of post-Colonialism, cultural appropriation and modern-day-slavery are all explored. Mbissine Thérèse Diop plays the title role, a Senegalese woman, brought from Dakar to Paris to be the nanny for a rich white couple but soon discovers she's going to be treated more like an all-purpose slave. Through the continual voice-over we hear her inner thoughts and growing despair. If it wasn't for the slightly rough, post-synced sound of the 60s era, you could easily mistake this for a new film.

 
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