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

mnkykungfu

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Locke (2013)
Tom Hardy is inarguably a better actor than Frank Grillo. And yet, take both of them and put them in a car, answering phone calls for a whole movie, and I'll be damned if I didn't like Grillo's film (Wheelman) a lot more. Wheelman simply has a better script that uses the limitations of the film's concept much more creatively. If it weren't for Hardy's smooth-like-butter Welsh accent here, I'd give this a pass. More here.

The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
Like Locke, this one is another case of a film more interested in the techniques of filming than in actually saying anything original or substantive. It never actually even dives into what "the girlfriend experience" is, or what the ramifications are for the girl. Also, it's a movie about people paying for sex with Sasha Grey, and it skips all the sex scenes and is surprisingly prudish. More here.

The Longest Day (1962)
Coming into the period leading up to Memorial Day in the US, so I've got a bunch of War films slated. One of the MOST war films here, a sweeping epic that is honestly just too much for a film and works better as Band of Brothers, imho. The relative lack of score and dated war effects and sound led to this being pretty sleep-inducing in the middle, but there is a lot to recommend it if you can power through. Those couple beers and plate of tacos didn't help, I'm sure. More here.
 

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2 more for Memorial Day:
Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War (2004)
Another low-budget doc from Robert Greenwald that lacks style but has amazing interviews. He really knows who to talk to and how to string it together with contemporary news footage. I knew a lot about "the case for war in Iraq" but there was still stuff here I didn't know, from the mouths of former CIA directors and brigadier generals. If you want to be infuriated, more thoughts and a link to view are here.

Downfall (2004)
If you're hungry for a film that just shows the last days of the Nazi elite in a sympathetic light and doesn't show any of the crimes against humanity they did leading up to that point (and who isn't, amirite??).... this still might not be the film for you. Muddled, overlong, and unfocused, the film features fine actors but is better as that Hitler meme than telling any kind of actual narrative or themes. More here.

and a fun one:
Not Quite Hollywood (2008)
One of the most engaging documentaries I've ever seen, due to its 'anything goes' rebel attitude, but also a healthy dose of T 'N A and the 'ol ultraviolence. This is all about the rise of the Aussie film industry, focused on how exploitation films helped it develop. The stuff in the 70s and 80s looks to give the same period of Hong Kong films a run for their money, so my Watchlist just got a bunch of new titles. More here.
 

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2 more for Memorial Day:
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
I actually watched the fanedit "Fully Locked and Loaded Edition", which I wrote a review of on its own page. But this rewatch caused me to re-evaluate my whole opinion of the film, which I look at very differently now than when I first saw it as a teenager. I don't think it comes together very well to be honest, and there's just so damn many great war movies out there that it's hard to feel like this one is needed.

Rambo (2008)
This rewatch was the "John Rambo - The Hybrid Cut" fanedit, which I wrote a review of on its own page. I actually think the Extended Cut dvd lessens the impact of the film, which is a lean, mean, brutal little war movie. This is not fist-pumping "rah rah Go America!" action.

And one more that is about the Cold War rather than physical war:
Pawn Sacrifice (2014)
I had wanted to watch this one in the theater but it ended up getting lost amongst all the more "Oscar-worthy" films at the time. I can see why it was positioned to be in the running, as Maguire gives a career-best performance as Bobby Fischer, actually making me miss him for the first time since his semi-exile from acting. Highly recommended, especially if you thought Queen's Gambit was original.
 

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Memorial Day weekend:
The Great Dictator (1940)
...which you probably know as "that Chaplin movie where he dresses like Hitler and gives that great speech at the end." Deserves to be known for a lot more than that. A real classic that holds up quite well despite the length. More here.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
My first William Wyler movie, but it certainly won't be my last. I was incredibly impressed by this film, despite barely knowing any of the players. It was a real education, and is high quality filmmaking in a way that is (sadly) still incredibly relevant today. More here.

Unmanned (2013)
Another Robert Greenwald documentary, this time highlighting the Obama administration's duplicity and complicity in massive mismanagement and collateral damage from the US's robust drone strike program. If you think Obama stepped down from Bush's "war on terror", this illustrates how he just evolved it to a different level, and how the international media did a much better job reporting on this than US TV news. More here.
 

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The Great Dictator (1940)
...which you probably know as "that Chaplin movie where he dresses like Hitler and gives that great speech at the end." Deserves to be known for a lot more than that. A real classic that holds up quite well despite the length. More here.

A must watch movie, imho.
 

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Peaunt Butter Falcon (2019)
Beautiful movie about the redemptive power of humanity. 10/10
 

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Last three for Memorial Day (about time, these films are heavy):
The Act of Killing (2012)
If you made a list of must-see documentaries, this would be right up around the top. I think some elements could be easily misinterpreted if you're not familiar with the culture, which I wrote about here. But it's a one-of-a-kind film regardless, the best exploration of evil and inhumanity that I've ever seen.

Black Book (2006)
The Verhoeventuality is upon us. Since going back to making Dutch films, director Paul Verhoeven has been turning in some taut and thoughtful thrillers again, starting with this espionage pic exploring the Dutch resistance in WWII. As you'd expect, a fair amount of nudity, graphic violence, and surprising bursts of humor amidst a suspenseful drama.

Iraq For Sale (2006)

Short doc you can watch for free on Youtube (link in review here) about how the US has privatized war. These may be shocking and new details for rah-rah patriots in America, but there wasn't anything new here for me really. Halliburton is unspeakably evil. The US government makes billion-dollar decisions at the behest of Arms Manufacturing companies. And so on.
 

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Predestination (2014)
My review, in which I tell everyone how interesting a premise this retro sci-fi time travel jam is, but how I didn't buy the central visual of the film.

The Lion King 1 1/2 (originally known in the US as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata back in 2004)
My review, in which I appreciate that the series has moved on from ripping off Kimba the White Lion.... into ripping off Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Parasite (2019)
My review, in which I tell everyone how wrong they are to worship this film and we all agree and live happily ever after. (Honestly a cut above most Korean films, but suffers from the same issues I have with others: jump-the-shark writing and wildly uneven tone management.... watch JSA, The City of Violence, or Silmido instead.)
 

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Company of Heroes (2013) Looked like a decent WWII action movie, and started out that way. But as the unit's misadventures got more and more outrageous, it got more and more difficult to maintain my suspension of disbelief. The final action sequence was so off I ended up chuckling to myself at the utterly inaccurate depictions and poor CGI. And as much as I appreciate a pretty girl, the brief nudity is completely unnecessary. Not quite at I want my 2 hours back, but I won't watch this one ever again.
 

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One Night in Miami (2020)
Full review, in which I urge people to give credit to the less-bombastic performances, and lament this film's rewriting of history to denigrate Sam Cooke.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
Full review, in which I defend Sorkin's direction for being better than I expected, and lament that we still haven't gotten the Black Panthers film we desperately need.

TEN3T (2020)
Full review, in which I criticize decisions about the central character, and then predictably say that may people were indeed just too dumb to "get it".
 

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Starting my run up to Father's Day with some contenders for films on the day....

Logan (2017)
My rambling love for The Adamantium Cut, in which I praise all the actors' chemistry, but lament at never having a proper re-do with the original X-team following up on Days of Future Past.

The Other F Word (2011)
I start with a saucy personal anecdote and then explain how this documentary is a little less about fatherhood and a little more about punks growing up.

Nobel Son (2007)
The title is a play on the prize and the word "noble" and a mystery about what son, which I explain in my review is emblematic of how over-complicated and muddled this Alan Rickman film sadly ends up.
 

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Father's Day viewing:

Beginners (2010)
My review, in which I tell how this is less about the recently-gay father and more about the son's romance, but how I adored it anyway.

Taken 2 (2012)
My review, in which I lament how horrible directing can turn this into a mediocre film when it was set up to be a nice father-daughter redemption story.

Thor (2011)
My review, where I talk generally about how great of a fathers & sons story this is, and link to the Odinson? God-sized Edition review, which is what I watched this time.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!
 

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Sadly, watched three items that were disappointing in different ways...

Enemy (2013)
My dissection of it, in which I remark that the TENET quote "Don't try to understand it; feel it." applies tenfold to this divisive Villeneuve indie.

Chariots of Fire (1981)
My full review, in which I point out the laughability of these actors passing for the fittest men on the planet in '81, and talk about what blew my mind.

Chernobyl (2019)
My reasons for not being able to watch past the first episode of this mini-series, and pondering why on Earth people thought Craig Mazin was a good writer?!
 

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Chariots of Fire (1981)
My full review, in which I point out the laughability of these actors passing for the fittest men on the planet in '81, and talk about what blew my mind.

They looked just like the real guys didn't they?

Harold_Abrahams_1921.jpg


CS23377161.jpg


One of the points in the film was that that the early Olympics was viewed as a competition between amateurs. Training hard was almost viewed like doping is today. Abrahams bringing in Mussabini to help make him better than he "naturally" was, was shown as the end of that early naive attitude.

Chernobyl (2019)
My reasons for not being able to watch past the first episode of this mini-series, and pondering why on Earth people thought Craig Mazin was a good writer?!

Wow! I thought it was hands-down the best mini-series ever made. If you only saw the 1st ep you're really missing out on the developing relationship between the two main guys.
 

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^That's not a bad picture comparison, and I did wonder if all the Olympics athletes were just scrawny Ivy League white dudes back then. Then I remembered, you know, Greek statuary. I looked up a few other pics from the times...there aren't that many, but there are subtle differences where it seemed to me that most of the athletes look more... testosterone-y?...than the actors in the film. As I wrote in my full review, Ben Cross pulls it off better. I think I might have given the film more leeway if they developed the story of amateur vs pro, but it was a dangling add-on to the story just addressed with a few lines.

As far as Chernobyl, I went into my issues with it in the full review. As stated there, I liked the directing, but the writing was obviously over-simplified, and not having the British actors try to capture the Ukranian essence of the story was a massive turnoff to me. Probably strikes a British viewer differently.
 

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)
My longer thoughts, where I point out the cases where Thor 2 is better than either the first or third films.

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s “Island of Dr. Moreau” (2014)
My review, in which I give a spoiler free summary of the bonkers story in this doc, before adding my two cents on who's really to blame for that dumpster fire.

The Wrong Man (1956)
One of the only pics I hadn't seen during the 10 year "Golden Age" of Hitchcock, and for good reason. I tell you all the reasons you shouldn't feel bad skipping this one here.
 

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Watched three superhero movie fan-edits....

Thor: Raganarok (2017) [Trimmed Edition]
While I appreciate the fan-edit, this is my least favorite MCU film, and it's particularly bad in terms of wrapping up the "fathers and sons" theme of the previous two Thor movies. Here are some of the key points on why this film doesn't work for me.

Shazam! (2019) [Marvelous Edition]
Similar to Thor in that I already liked the comics and wanted something more faithful to that character. This fan-edit couldn't turn this into a good film for me, and in fact I wrote a bunch of reasons here why this just comes off as derivative of Thor, Spider-Man, and previous superhero films.

Captain Marvel (2019) [Where Is the Love? Edition]
On the other hand, with some careful, thoughtful edits, @tremault turned this pending fan-edit into a fantastic film that better captures what a modern Captain Marvel can be. I was underwhelmed by the theatrical release, and all my issues and how they were fixed are here.
 

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The Tomorrow War (2021)
I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I'll just say it's basically if Michael Bay directed The Edge of Tomorrow. Lots of cgi, junior novelization level dialogue and forced messages. 6/10
 

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^Bummer.

Armour of God (1986) - released in the US years later as "Operation Condor II: Armor of God", a prequel
My full review, in which I note the wildly disparate quality of directing throughout this, and how that final scene is still iconic.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020)
My full review, in which I talk about how I really liked this but was surprised that it was not so much about the camp as about the Revolution.

The Hateful Eight (2015)
My full review, in which I ponder cinematography and story construction and how Tarantino's use of each worked (or didn't) in this film.
 

DigModiFicaTion

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It wasn't that it was terrible, it's just not anything new and when compared to other movies and stories that it mirrors, it doesn't live up to their execution. The humor felt like b-roll dialogue that clashes with the tone and intensity of scenes. It's more lionsgate mazerunner type stuff than it is a straight up Michael Bay film. It's a shame, as I think Chris Pratt could pull off the lead in a big movie like this tried to be, but this isn't that movie. Amazon would have been better off with turning it into a miniseries of 5-6 episodes to explain more of what is happening. As is now, everything plays out pretty conveniently and there isn't much weight to characters beyond their initial roles. I guess you could say that characters are surface level deep and stereotypical. It wasn't the worst movie I had seen, but I did have moments when I checked to see how much more of the mindless fodder was left.
 
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