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A few reviews

TM2YC

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K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
I do love submarine movies, the claustrophobia, the scary sound design, the pressure cooker human conflict and this 2002 effort from Director Kathryn Bigelow does not disappoint. I imagine this was one of the last that would be produced using impressive real subs, dockyards, helicopters and ships, it would all be on a green-screen today. 'K-19' is a little different from other entries in the Genre because there is no external enemy to outwit (not a single torpedo is fired), the Soviet crew instead have to fight for survival against their own crippled vessel. The scenes where the men have to make desperate repairs to their leaking reactor is stomach churning. From what I've read, the film is reasonably close to the overall historical facts and plays as a sincere tribute to the bravery of the crew.


^ LOL at this sneaky vintage trailer where they insert some torpedo shots from another movie (not sure which one?) and dub over some dialogue from a training drill scene, to make it look like there is combat in the movie. It also adds loads of cheesy crash-zooms to the footage to make it look more action packed. It's misleading marketing like this that probably helped the film to bomb at the boxoffice.
 

bionicbob

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@"TM2YC"  speaking of submarine thrillers...

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnP_z3qXDCQ[/video]

HUNTER KILLER (2018)

Terrible.  I love submarine movies!!!  But this was bad.  Real bad.  
Gerald Bulter is decent.  Oldman phones it in, he has done this role too many times. 
The CGI is video gamey.   The submarine combat seems to defy the laws of physics.  The submarine crew, made up of forgettable bland performances, is unbelievably undisciplined, especially the first officer.  For a thriller, there are few thrills.   The only good thing about this movie is it motivated me to do a double feature rewatch of Red October and Crimson Tide.... now those are submarine thrillers!!! 
:D
 

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I watched The Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, and K-19: The Widowmaker before shipping out to Navy Boot Camp back in '11. I thought Widowmaker was the best of the lot.
 

TM2YC

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I wasn't planning on watching 'Hunter Killer' but I'll make sure to avoid it now ;) .

The Harder They Come (1972)
I've enjoyed the fantastic Reggae soundtrack for years but I hadn't had the opportunity to see the actual film before. The first Jamaican movie (emerging alongside the first entries in the "Blaxploitation" Genre in the US) features Jimmy Cliff as musician/gangster Ivan. He doesn't care if he's famous for his music, or infamous for his crimes, as long as the people know his name. Inter-cutting a cheering Cinema audience, with the final shoot out was an inspired flourish. The low-budget independent nature of the production shows at times but Cliff's charm and his incredible songs shine through. The Amazon-Prime stream didn't have any subtitles available, so the thick Jamaican Patois was occasionally hard to cop for this white boy :D .


The official BFI 57th best British film...

The Go-Between (1971)
Leo is a 13 year old Victorian boy spending the summer at the country estate of his wealthy/upper-class school friend, there he falls into taking secret love letters between his friend's beautiful older sister Marian (Julie Christie) and a wild local farmer Ted (Alan Bates). Despite the sunny idyll of the scenes, we are always subtly prodded with omens of doom, bloody hands, injured legs, scarred faces, gun shots, poisonous plants, people falling ill, talk of curses etc. It's all told from the initially innocent perspective of Leo, struggling to understand the adult world, his own feelings for Marian and his friendship with the older Ted. All round great performances, including supporting roles from Edward FoxMichael Redgrave and Michael Gough.


 

TM2YC

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Rain Man (1988)
Tom Cruise could not be better as Charlie, a selfish, bitter and emotionally closed off young man, who discovers his estranged unloving father has died and in a final act of spite has left his entire fortune to his other autistic savant son Raymond (Dustin Hoffman). Charlie didn't know Raymond existed and in another act of selfishness abducts him from a care home to try and get a share of the will. It's admirable how far the film is prepared to push Cruise's character into total a**hole territory before taking him and us on a journey of emotional discovery. I can't comment on the accuracy of Hoffman's portrayal of a man with Raymond's particular condition but that's not really the point, the film is more about Charlie learning to truly value Raymond as a person. I can see why this won Best Picture in '88. Another one of those great early Hans Zimmer scores help.


Welcome to New York (2014)
Although all the names are changed, Abel Ferrara's film is a seemingly accurate dramatisation of the 2011 New York Dominique Strauss-Kahn Case, in which the head of the IMF and possible future President of France was detained on rape charges (apparently he threatened to sue this film). It features a vanity-free performance from Gérard Depardieu, making himself look, sound and act as gross and repellent as possible. Ferrara's film has extra resonance following the Harvey Weinstein revelations, the parallels between the alleged M.O.s of both powerful men are clear. The dialogue has a partly improvised feel, mostly this lends authenticity but sometimes it falls awkwardly flat.


 

TM2YC

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Blue Steel (1990)
I'm reading that Roger Ebert described this Kathryn Bigelow thriller as "A sophisticated update of Halloween" making me wonder if he actually watched the movie because it has no similarities beyond 'it features a killer and Jamie Lee Curtis stars in it'. Terrific Direction, great performances and buckets of dramatic tension are overshadowed by a plot heaving with numerous plot contrivances, glaring lapses in logic and blatant factual errors. When even a British guy can instantly spot technical misunderstandings about how guns work... then you've f**ked up pretty badly :D .

 

bionicbob

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BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (2018)

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQmOaJciI7Q[/video]

A pulpy crime thriller/mystery with strong shades of Tarantino.  Writer/director Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods, The Martian, Cloverfield. Daredevil) delivers a slick and stylistic tale filled with strong performances, pitch perfect neo noir visuals and an amazing soundtrack.  A very satisfying watch.  Thumbs Up.
 

TM2YC

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^ I must check that out sometime.

Little Big Man (1970)
The narrative structure of this 1970 Dustin Hoffman epic Western will be instantly recognised by anybody who has seen 1994's 'Forrest Gump'. That film had the title character recount his unlikely part in the dark chapter of US history labelled 'Vietnam', 'Little Big Man' does the same for the Genocide of the Native Americans. Although as this film was released against a backdrop of Vietnam protests, it can also be seen as a satirical comment on that war too.

In the present day, the 121 year-old title character narrates his comic/tragic life story, being raised by a Cheyenne chief, becoming a gunfighter, befriending Wild Bill Hickok and confronting General Custer (who is portrayed as a dangerously self-deluded buffoon). There's lots of laughs and lots of tears along the way but also some shocking scenes depicting senseless massacres.  The tribal elder and other Cheyenne characters in the film recite the motto "Today, is a good day to die" when facing danger, which was of course later borrowed as a Klingon saying in the Star Trek universe.


^ This vintage trailer is very different :) .
 

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The Hole (1960)
It's a shame that Director Jacques Becker died right after finishing 'The Hole' ('Le Trou') because it's a real masterpiece and I want to see more. The film concerns a real-life escape attempt by five convicts from Paris' La Santé Prison and features one of the actual escapees playing himself (Roland Darbant aka Jean Keraudy). The camera hardly leaves the cell, or the prisoner's sides and mostly stays at their eye-level and perspective, so we feel like a 6th conspirator. There is no music so the viewer can listen intently to the echoes of the prison interior and the sounds of danger, just like the characters. To further the immersion, some sequences play out in real time, most notably when the prisoners/actors take turns to smash trough a concrete floor in one 4-minute shot. The quick thinking ingenuity the men show in using bits of mirror, an ink pot, pieces of their beds and cardboard boxes as makeshift escape tools is incredible. I could watch this again right now.

 

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Chappaquiddick (2017)

0494052.jpg


If you've seen Thirteen Days, a story about John F. Kennedy at his prime, and maybe Parkland and/or JFK (but not Jackie, because eff that movie), and then Bobby, about the night Robert Kennedy was killed, then you might as well check out Chappaquiddick, currently on US Netflix, about the night a Kennedy circle staffer died in a tragic accident, and how Teddy's poor response doomed a possible 1972 presidential campaign against incumbent Richard Nixon (as seen in the films The Post, All the President's Men, Nixon... well, you get the idea).

This is a great-looking, well-made, and strongly acted portrait of a fraught few days. Ed Helms is particularly good as the conscience of the group (in an ironic echo of the Hangover films), Clancy Brown makes a strong impression (as always) as Robert McNamara, and Bruce Dern is downright terrifying as the stroke-disabled, nearly mute patriarch Joe Kennedy Sr.

Definitely worth a watch for history buffs and fans of small movies about a process or specific event. An elite team quickly assembled to spin the tragedy, and to ward off a possible manslaughter charge, but there was no fighting the bare facts or core reality on this one: Ted hadn't done anything worthy of criminal charges against a sitting Senator and member of the legendary Kennedy clan, at least not by the standards of the time, but he also utterly failed to preserve his presidential potential. So, we got Nixon... again. Sigh.

B+
 

TM2YC

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Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)
Having absorbed the characters, historical setting and political currents of 1890s China in the first film, this sequel was a bit easier to keep up with. There are still some real-life Chinese historical figures who have fictionalised cameos who I had to pause and Wikipedia (and the cultural meaning of a particular flag and the relationship between China and Japan at that point in time) because the film just assumes you know them and understands their importance. This film finds our hero Wong Fei-hung (Jet Li) on a trip to the regional capital Canton with his (unrequited) love interest '13th Aunt' (the beautiful Rosamund Kwan) and his pupil Leung Foon. Foon has been recast by Max Mok and is now a straight up comedy sidekick (he does plenty of actual kicking too). This compact trio has much more impact dramatically and comedically than the large collection of characters from the first movie.

The capitol city is being torn apart by a radical Cult who are burning anything Western influenced like cameras and the telegraph, including a rather upset looking Dalmatian dog because the cultists reckon it's spots are a foreign disease (the image really made me laugh :D ). Since Wong's arc was about learning to tolerate outside influences in the first film, most of his fights are against this sect. The action choreography is taken up to another level, with Donnie Yen playing the primary antagonist, you really feel he poses a threat to Wong. The sequence set atop a pile of collapsing tables is so inventive, as is the "cloth vs stick" final showdown with Yen. A rare sequel that surpasses the original. Once again, the new 4K scan in the Eureka! Video blu-ray set looks incredible (I watched with the Cantonese Mono track).


 

TM2YC

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Once a Thief (1991)
'Once a Thief' is a goofy globetrotting 'Mission Impossible' type Comedy Heist-Movie about three cat burglars but it still crams in plenty of familiar Hong Kong style gun-battles and a great car chase. I was initially a little disappointed that action star Chow Yun Fat's character gets paralyzed but I'd underestimated Director John Woo's ingenuity for wheelchair-based combat! Logic is often thrown out the window and the story gets very sloppy in the 2nd half but I was enjoying myself, so I didn't much care.


^ I'd forgotten that John Woo had gone on to Direct an actual MI movie until that trailer mentioned it.
 

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Men in Black: International (2019): Good premise with a lot of potential, actually liked the plot and the characters weren’t that bad. Liked how it visited different places which was a nice twist to the formula. Unfortunately for a sci-fi action comedy, its biggest problem is that it’s not very funny. Only chuckled in a couple of places. Disappointed. Arguably the worst in the series. - 5.5/10
 

bionicbob

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TM2YC said:
Once a Thief (1991)
'Once a Thief' is a goofy globetrotting 'Mission Impossible' type Comedy Heist-Movie about three cat burglars but it still crams in plenty of familiar Hong Kong style gun-battles and a great car chase. I was initially a little disappointed that action star Chow Yun Fat's character gets paralyzed but I'd underestimated Director John Woo's ingenuity for wheelchair-based combat! Logic is often thrown out the window and the story gets very sloppy in the 2nd half but I was enjoying myself, so I didn't much care.

John Woo later produced a tv movie remake followed by single 1997 season Canadian series...

I remember it being funny and cheesy but little else....  :p
 

TM2YC

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bionicbob said:
John Woo later produced a tv movie remake followed by single 1997 season Canadian series

Wow! That looks low-rent and cheesy. I had no idea. Funnily enough, I was thinking while watching the film that it would be ripe for a US remake.

La Dolce Vita (1960)
Federico Fellini directs Marcello Mastroianni as 'Marcello' a gossip writer, looking every inch an introspective Italian James Bond (this was 2-years before 'Dr. No'), wearing sharp suits and stylish shades, driving a sexy Triumph TR3 sports car. The episodic structure plays like seven days and nights from his playboy life in Rome, although they aren't necessarily concurrent. I found the episodes when he's hanging with a series of pretentious socialites to be a tad tiresome but some episodes are very memorable. Particularly the evening spent with the voluptuous Anita Ekberg, a little black dress struggling to contain her as she frolics in a fountain. I also loved the episode he spends with a visiting father who he clearly loves.


Marcello romances so many brunettes in black cocktail dresses that I got a bit confused as to which one was which at times. In some parts you really like him and in some parts you think he's a real a**hole, which is what makes the film interesting. However, with no real overarching plot, just a mosaic of events that make up Marcello's personality, did it really need every minute of it's 3-hours? I suspect it might grow in my estimation with repeat viewings. By the way, Nico (of "The Velvet Underground &..." fame) has a cameo as herself and the term "Paparazzi" is named after a character in the film (also an unscrupulous celebrity photographer).

 

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TM2YC said:
However, with no real overarching plot, just a mosaic of events that make up Marcello's personality, did it really need every minute of it's 3-hours?

Hell, for me, four minutes is probably quite enough:


:D
 

bionicbob

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BOB LAZAR: AREA 51 AND FLYING SAUCERS (2018 currently on Netflix)

I love anything about the paranormal, UFOs, Bigfoot, Atlantis, etc.... so always on the look out for a new documentaries about such subjects.  So I was delighted to see this new one drop, a doc about the legendary Bob Lazar.  This guy made international headlines back 1989, claiming he worked out at Area 51 reverse engineering alien anti-gravity propulsion systems.  In the UFO community he is sort of viewer as the ultimate whistleblower, though he seemed to avoid the same said community.

It has been 30 years since Lazar's claim and his story is ripe for a revisit and exploration.  Unfortunately this documentary does not truly succeed for numerous reasons.  Firstly, it is too slickly overly stylized, which distracts from the narrative and makes it feel more Indy Hollywood than maverick truth seeking documentarian.  It is further hampered by some very weird tangent new age voice over monologues by Mickey Rouke which again serve little purpose other than distract.  And maybe that is intentional, as the narrative is unfocussed, jumping from one line of thought to another without ever exploring anything in real depth (no records of his time at Caltech or M.I.T.?  what you could not interview a single past teacher or classmate or a single photo from his time at school)  or asking true hard probing questions (wait a sec, he started a brothel but it is dismissed with a hand wave and laughter?).  I left the doc feeling I really did not know Bob Lazar any better or what the actual point of the doc was, other than designed for the already true believer?  Which is too bad, as there are tantalizing tidbits to Lazar's story and the fact he is continues to be a subject of government scrutiny is highly unusual.  Unfortunately this documentary fails more than it succeeds.  Whether it is all a hoax or real, the documentary fails to present any evidence or character revelation to swing the viewer in any clear direction.  The story is a muddled at the end as it was in at the beginning.   Disappointing.
 

TM2YC

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^ I prefer Rem Lezar ;) .


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
This was in the '101 Action Movies You Must See Before You Die' book (for some unfathomable reason) and on the BBC iPlayer so I gave it a whirl. I'm sure the then recent release of 1999's 'The Matrix' (a masterpiece) is to blame for this film's assumption that putting loud annoying techno music over anything makes it instantly cool and/or exciting... and not embarrassing. The script is contemptibly bad, with Lara throwing out lines like "It's a dead zone" and "It's a time storm" in a manner that suggests they are explanations. Lara almost always looks perfectly made up, with not a spec of dirt on her and the one time she does get a small scratch on her arm, a Monk gives her some magic tea to make it disappear. After opening with a pointless fight with a giant robot (which is what the Tomb Raider franchise is mainly known for) and a gratuitous shower scene, we cut to the bad-guys explaining the plot to themselves, then to Lara sitting down explaining the plot to her butler, then to a dream sequence where Lara's dead father explains the plot back to Lara and just in case the audience still don't get it, the plot is repeatedly re-explained throughout. Still, at 94 minutes it's short, reasonably eventful, nice looking and doesn't require any taxing concentration from the viewer.

 

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Black Orpheus (1959)
In 'Black Orpheus' ('Orfeu Negro') French Director Marcel Camus cleverly transposes the legend of 'Orpheus and Eurydice' to a Favela in Rio during the Carnival. Camus is careful to never make events overtly supernatural, so it might really be death stalking Eurydice, or it may just be some creep in a skeleton costume. Films rarely look better than this, the golden light and rich colour burst off the screen on the Criterion blu-ray. The Bossa Nova music and joyful dancing of the carnival make this the kind of film you want to dance to, as much as watch. It's going on my favourites list for sure. I was torn between the Portuguese soundtrack with subtitles, or the English language Dub (because it's pretty good) but I went for the original in the end.

 

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After a tiring graduation party and hanging out with friends late eating and drinking, today I sat in front of the TV and caught three movies, all of which I enjoyed in different ways. Great movie day.

American Graffiti (1973)

First non-Star Wars George Lucas film I saw. This was a very interesting movie. Seeing young life in the 50s, their different personalities and how their decisions affect their lives was very interesting to watch. I really enjoyed myself because each character was written quite well. Very good movie.

EDIT: I just found out the film takes place in 1962. Oops. I missed the first minutes of the movie so... I dunno, it just felt very 50s, y’know?

giphy.gif


Time Freak (2018)

I didn’t expect to like this film as much as I did after seeing the low rating it has on IMDB. However I really liked it. Asa Butterfield, Sophie Turner, and Skyler Gisondo all do a fine job, the stories and characters were relatable to a young person like me, it has some good messages, and the story is a bit predictable yet compelling enough for me to care.

It is very interesting for me, because the whole premise of this movie is a wish that I and probably a lot of us have: to go back and fix the mistakes of our pasts. I even had several dreams relating to this wish. Consequently, I had a very similar idea for a movie like this with a similar message. Considering all of this, it was very fun for me to see it on screen.

Apollo 13 (1995)

Now this was phenomenal. What a masterpiece. Not only were the characters written very great, not only was the plot tight and thrilling, not only did it adapt a terrifying true story perfectly, but it also gave thought provoking commentary on how as a population we are more concerned with tragedies and negative situations than successes and miracles, and how the media, specifically the American media, influences people to think this way with their choice of what to reveal and broadcast. Very meta. I loved, loved, loved this movie. Great job by director Ron Howard. Hilariously, I realized later on that Ron Howard acted in American Graffiti :D
 
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