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The Last Movie(s) You Watched... (quick one or two sentence reviews)

asterixsmeagol

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Racerx1969 said:
There was definitely a struggle in placing both Gotham and Metropolis in the same story since as I understand it both are stand-ins for NYC.

Depending on the comic, it's sometimes in New York, sometimes in Delaware.
 

Racerx1969

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mnkykungfu said:
Racerx1969 said:
Man of Steel (2013) My initial impression is "Why are we rebooting this?" I remember enjoying the Christopher Reeve/Margot Kidder treatment. I guess Warner/DC felt the need to amp up the CGI and destructiveness of the fights to match MCU. It actually distracted from the story for me. I do like the examination of Clark/Kal-El's struggles with dealing with his abilities. But, the massively destructive fight scenes didn't feel like Superman to me--they seemed more in line with Nolan's other works in the Dark Knight trilogy. Taken on its own, it's a decent super hero movie, but with the decades of history of the Superman character, there's lots of "um...wait, wut?" moments as he lets buildings drop on bystanders and effectively destroys Smallville, then Metropolis.

With Marvel paving the way, the reason to reboot is simple: don't leave money on the table. Superman was (and is) arguably the most-recognized superhero in the world, and even a bad Superman movie would probably be a net gain just for all the merchandising and spin-off cartoons, toys, etc. they could launch. 

Of course I'm not totally cynical and I recognize that everyone involved must've thought they could contribute something to make it a good project, so I reckon they thought A. It's been nearly 40 years since the Reeves movies...this generation deserves their own Superman films. And B. we can update this and do it much better now. Those last Superman movies were not very good, and even the first two were very...shall we say "of their time".

That said, they were pretty wrong. Their vision of Superman is (as you said) a significant departure from the core of what has defined the character since the 1930s. Superman is the best of us; he is not only what we aspire to be, he inspires us to be that. He's the guy that not only zips around the world to give aid in natural disasters or help astronauts, but also keeps a watchful eye on the firebrand reporter he loves and isn't above rescuing a cat from a tree. When faced with an impossible decision, he finds another way.

Snyder's version stole a script from a famous Wonder Woman comic, and the story was great for her. That ending doesn't fit at all for Superman. Add to that the Akira-inspired wanton city destruction, and the fan outcry was so large that they actually wrote it into the sequel. Batman's whole reason for opposing Superman is because his actions destroyed so much of Metropolis. That wasn't from the comics and wasn't planned, that was written after the reaction to the first film. You've got to give DC credit for listening (a little)... but then they throw in crap like "Martha"....ugh. How stupid do they think their audience is? ...Nevermind, don't answer that.

Good points all. Actually that helped focus what bothered me the most about the movie. Superman finds another way. In this case, the expectation is for him to somehow move the fight somewhere remote--get out to the middle of nowhere then have at it; but there was zero thought to that. Following on with Batman v Superman, it did feel very odd that Bruce was the conscientious one mad about the trashing of the city. The hero/anti-hero roles got reversed in a rather unsatisfying way.

Absent the decades of history it would have been fine and and interesting enough story & character struggle. But there's all that history that exists.
 

Racerx1969

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Justice League (2017) I actually mostly enjoyed this one. It had the potential to near MCU. That said, I am getting picky with movies now, and a few things bugged me. I feel like I missed a couple of solo origin movies with the Flash and the Cyborg guy (sorry, not a DC aficionado, so I don't know the character). Barry's character really bugs me; he comes off way too much as just as a socially awkward dweeb. I guess watching the first few seasons of the TV show set my expectations differently. Also the personal conflicts between the guys seemed a bit too juvenile (like Linda said: "I'm working with children"). They did get it together and the last fight & denouement worked for me (Let's go to the middle of nowhere for our fight...mostly. Hey, we're heroes and have to save the innocent bystanders!).

Midway (2019) Classic style WW2 movie. I loved the original 1976 version that I never thought needed a remake. The new one does a good job on its own though. They went a little nuts with the CGI tracer fire, but that's a minor niggle.
 

mnkykungfu

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Terminator: Salvation (2009)
This was the 4th film, for those keeping track, and the first one that doesn't involve any time travel. It's purely in the future. I finally got ahold of the T-HOPE fanedit, so my thoughts on the film in general and that edit in particular are here. Basically, the narrative finally works. It's not my favorite, but it ends up better than T3: The Coming Storm and a worthy sequel to the first 2.

Sleeper (1973)
Another film about a guy who undergoes a medical process and wakes up in the future. I was optimistic about this after watching some other very old Woody Allen films and thinking "oh, I guess it's just most of his newer stuff I don't like". But no, I really disliked this, too. A big part of it hinges on the humor, because literally almost every line is setup or delivery. And I think I laughed once. Details here.

Take the Money and Run (1969)
On the other hand, I quite liked Allen's first full directorial debut. Similar to Sleeper in that it's just gag after gag, but I think the comedy works a lot better here. There's a bit more structure and more attention to actually crafting the arc of a relationship and a narrative. Shouldn't be forgotten amongst the more recent films of his that get praised. Details here.
 

TM2YC

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^  I remember laughing a lot at the silliness of 'Sleeper' but it's not his best and I've not seen it for quite some time.  Like a Buster Keaton silent-movie that isn't silent.  'Bananas', 'Sweet and Lowdown', 'Manhattan', 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' and 'Zelig' would be my picks.  I haven't bothered with most of the new ones he was churning out.

I always thought Salvation was fine, not great or anything but not a disaster like the other sequels.
 

mnkykungfu

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^Allen was definitely trying to work in tributes to Chaplin, Keaton, the 3 Stooges, and Laurel and Hardy. But he's not comparable to any of them. I'm sure my opinion was made harsher by having watched the amazing Modern Times so recently, but Allen's slapstick had none of the precision, charm, or flair of the greats. It just looked like some hack director goofing around on set with nobody to tell him "no".

I also get my hackles up when writers/directors use sci-fi as some kind of justification for an "anything goes" story that has a sloppy narrative. Like, "it's the future, that's just how people/technology/life works in the future" without any support for the world being built that way. It's people who make art films looking down their nose at sci-fi and saying it's not meant to have the same care or attention to detail you'd put into a "real" film. Sleeper smacked of that.

It doesn't help that I find many of Allen's films very problematic. That's not a comment on his personal life, but purely by what's on screen. It's often creepy and cringey, and I think that's been part of the problem with him escaping judgements about his personal life. Regardless of evidence, it's easy to believe he's a conniving creep who doesn't respect women or boundaries when he puts so much of himself into his work and it comes off so creepy and pervy. That's not as much a comment on Sleeper as it is on Manhattan and some of his other films. I still have a few more on my watchlist and I have found some gems so far. But I'm definitely not an Allen fan, generally speaking.
 

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Universal Soldier: Regeneration - It was pretty good, I give it a lot of credit for not rereading the original movie's plot, and I enjoyed it way more than the original. Some great JCVD and Dolph Lundgren moments dispersed amongst boring action featuring characters I don't care about. Overall good but there's a lot I'd trim. I'm very excited to watch Day of Reckoning.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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Judas and the Black Messiah. Though those familiar with the events will likely not find much new information here, it is still a top notch dramatization with incredible performances all around. And, despite depicting events of a half century ago, it feels completely relevant to today, unfortunately.
 

Racerx1969

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Suicide Squad (2016) Continuing my DC movies catch up. I was expecting to be annoyed by some aspect or another with this one based on what I've watched so far. In the end, I probably enjoyed this one more than most of the hero-based films. Nobody is nice here and they are all forced into the situation in one way or another. So each character makes the best of a shitty situation. Ultimately all the selfish motives gel into a team trying to do the right thing if for nothing more than to spite the negative expectations of them.
 

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A little pre-Valentine's Day watching I did:

The Princess and the Frog (2009)
I think this is a really under-appreciated Disney film. I don't mind saying I'm a dude who watched this by myself and quite enjoyed it, but it would have major plus points to watching with kids/a date. More here.

Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)
The film has an overarching theme of dealing with loneliness and abandonment, but I actually think the list I saw which recommended this as a Valentine's alternative was off-base. It's also not that great of a movie.

Playing It Cool (2014)
This was right up my alley. A rom-com about a writer tasked with writing a rom-com who just can't get motivated to do it. The solution? Write it (this) about what love is really about: risk, heartbreak, misunderstandings, bad timing. Plays creatively with references and homages to films of the genre, and gives a wink to the movie within the movie by actually getting two super-typical rom-com actors to play out a fake one. Highly recommended.
 

mnkykungfu

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3 different Valentine's Day films, in order from most-conventional pick to least-conventional pick:

Peter and Vandy (2009)
I'd been meaning to watch this little indie for so long, I had forgotten everything I knew about it. Turns out it's an adaptation of a stageplay, even though it doesn't really feel like it thanks to its mixed-chronology narrative. I actually don't think that style works in its favor, but it has a lot else going for it. More here.

Let the Right One In (2008)
The Swedish novel "Låt den rätte komma in" was adapted into this Swedish film and then the American film Let Me In in 2010. The novel is about these two kind-of pre/early-teens who meet and start forging a connection while a lot of horrific stuff happens around them and people die. Both films went lighter on the horror and focused the story into something that feels like more like a modern gothic romance. I saw Let Me In first, which has a far tighter narrative that I much preferred. It kind of ruined this one for me, even though this is a decent film. More here.

The Skin I Live In (2011)
I saw this on an "alternative Valentine's" list and had been meaning to give director Pedro Almodovar another chance, so I took the shot. I would not recommend this for a romantic watch, no matter how twisted you are. It's a kind of high concept mystery/suspense film, but I don't want to spoil anything about the story. It didn't work for me at all though, even though the two leads gave great performances.
 

mnkykungfu

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A few very non-Valentine's films:
The Sweatbox (2002)
Released in theaters for just 1 week and then forever buried by Disney, this documentary was meant to be a typical behind-the-scenes look at the Disney process for an animated film. Instead, they captured the crumbling of Walt Disney Film Animation into their lowest point in history. I wrote up a review on this worth-tracking-down film here, and a long-form article on Sting's abandoned Disney film and what happened at Disney animation here.

The Fighting Generation (1944)
A commercial from Hitchcock to sell war bonds. Simple and effective.

Sabotage (1936)
A Hitchcock British period film that actually holds up quite well. I think The 39 Steps is still my favorite from this period, but this film deserves to be held in higher esteem than it seems to be.

War on Whistleblowers (2013)
Another TV-style doc that you can find on Youtube for free due to the ethics and mission of the director. Highlights some heroes worth more name recognition than they may have for some. Pretty successful in that it's likely to rally people regardless of political leanings. More here.
 

Racerx1969

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Joker (2019) Wow, that was not what I was expecting. It's quite a different take on the typical Batman story. It's actually pretty depressing, but you see how he ended up becoming the Joker. In it's own way, this is probably one of the best DC films IMHO.

Ponyo (2008) This one was a cute film, and moved along at a quicker pace than many Ghibli films. There is a bit of environmental moralizing, but it's fairly light and is mostly seen at the beginning. The kids enjoyed it, and I can see watching again in the future.

Porco Rosso (1992) This one is a hoot. A fun adventure story set in post WWI. Miyazaki clearly has an infatuation with aviation with so many of his movies centering on the topic, or including planes in the story somehow. I got a little bit of a Tales of the Gold Monkey vibe, though that's probably just me.
 

mnkykungfu

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Three more films about romance:

Nina Forever (2015)
I'm kind of obsessed with finding "anti"rom-coms, and this kind of fits the bill. A British indie that deals with a girl starting a relationship with a guy whose recently-deceased previous girlfriend keeps coming back to get in the way.... literally. It's darkly funny but never played for laughs, and I think explores wonderful and deep themes. More here.

Hallo Panda (2006)
The same writing/directing team from above made this 30-minute short film (Vimeo link in my review here). I sought it out because most of the stuff they've directed have been commercials or for BBC TV and not viewable by Americans. I'm glad I did because I enjoyed the short heartily. Best to watch without reading any descriptions and just let yourself be surprised.

To Catch a Thief (1955)
Letterboxd reviews for this tend to be fairly harsh and something like "It's no Vertigo!" Well thank god for that. We've already got a Vertigo, what would we want with another one? Instead, the directing/writing team of Hitchcock and John Michael Hayes gave us this charming, beautiful Mystery-Romance. I just can't get over how everything Grace Kelly was. Is it possible to fall madly in love with a long-deceased actress? More here.
 

mnkykungfu

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Decided to watch the Iron Man films as a series rather than mixed in the MCU. Watched 3 fanedits.

Iron Man (Special 10th Anniversary Edition)
One of my favorite Marvel movies. My full review on the film is here, and feedback on the fanedit is on Reddit. Basically though, some of the deleted scenes work and some don't. A kitchen sink approach isn't helpful on this film, though I do really wish the Rhodey scenes had been kept in.

Iron Man 2 (At the Core of It)
I wrote up my comments on the fanedit on its own listing, and my full thoughts on the film in general are here. Basically, what I like about the film is how well it expands the universe of the MCU. Now that we have multiple Avengers films, people take so much for granted. At the time of this movie, it was super exciting to get more Nick Fury, more SHIELD, and lots of Black Widow and War Machine! This is sort of a bookend to the Whedon Avengers films with Civil War on the other end. All that stuff is still great.

Iron Man 3 (Reforged)
This fanedit has fallen off the radar but it's interesting to consider a film that tries to tighten up the narrative and the jokes here, and get it under 2 hours by cutting out Iron Lad. My full thoughts on the theatrical film are here, but in terms of editing the film this way, the problems arise when:
at first I was thinking that cutting the kid allows the drama to shine, but not really. There are just way too many glib quips after every dramatic moment. It cuts the flashback scene at the party, which ends up making Maya Hansen a footnote and drains drama from Killian. He had a real journey, even though it was an ‘80s throwback, but now he just seems like a rehash of Stane. Taking out some scenes causes issues…some don’t absolutely NEED to be seen (though they are good scenes) but some leave gaps and plotholes, e.g. WTF is Killian talking about with waiting on the roof? Where does Tony’s armor come from and how is it fixed? How did Rhodey get free? Without the anxiety attacks, lines like Rhodey’s “you’re not going to freak out on me, right?” seem to come out of nowehere. This also adds Hail to the King but breaks it up across the credits, which is distracting and does it no favors. In the end, the edit contributes to as many problems as it solves.
Overall, just a frustrating film, and the MCU movie I'm least keen to rewatch.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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I Care a Lot. It’s one of those movies that is plagued by no real rooting interest. Everyone is horrible so you’re not rooting for anyone. I can get behind stories like that if they characters have sufficient depth like in Breaking Bad. Here they’re just assholes with no depth. I also thought it was tonally inconsistent. I’m not sure why the HFP calls this a comedy either. It does feel like it maybe was at one point trying to be more of a comedy. But it doesn’t really end up a comedy. It’s not a very good movie.
 

Racerx1969

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I Care a Lot. It’s one of those movies that is plagued by no real rooting interest. Everyone is horrible so you’re not rooting for anyone. I can get behind stories like that if they characters have sufficient depth like in Breaking Bad. Here they’re just assholes with no depth. I also thought it was tonally inconsistent. I’m not sure why the HFP calls this a comedy either. It does feel like it maybe was at one point trying to be more of a comedy. But it doesn’t really end up a comedy. It’s not a very good movie.
Thanks for that, now I can skip it.
 

Racerx1969

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The Four Feathers (2002) Finally watched the remake and it was surprisingly good. I enjoyed the1978 version--which I had thought of as "the original," turns out there are four version prior to that one. In any case, it was an enjoyable adventure story.

Kagemusha (1980) Continuing my revisit/catch-up of Kurosawa films. The story kind of wanders and ends in an utterly futile battle--most of which occurs off-screen. Not my favorite of his work.
 

mnkykungfu

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^I remember Kagemusha as being mostly a story of political intrigue and maneuvering, right? I remember it feeling slow at times, but it's helpful if you know all the real historical figures and can feel more engaged in how the script plays with public perception of them and their actual history. The battle seems to almost come out of nowhere, I honestly wasn't really expecting to actually see any action in the film.
 

TM2YC

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I watched 'Kagemusha' long before I ever saw the more acclaimed 'Ran' and remember being blown away by it. I need to revisit it when the Criterion blu-ray restoration comes out in the UK soon.
 
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