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

SIUse

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37 Seconds (Netflix) - 2021

Beautiful little japanese movie (drama) about a young women with cerebral parlsy and her wish to be more independent. Fortunately they casted a person with this condition and didn´t try to imitate it.
 

mnkykungfu

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when you say “new” shots from the bebop movie, I assume you mean the show produced by Netflix
Yeah, I misremembered it as a movie rather than a 10-episode series.

The Falcon & The Winter Soldier (2021)
I watched this awhile back but it took me until after I'd seen the other MCU Disney+ shows to finally review it. All are mixed bags that somewhat waste the opportunities provided by the different format to address issues in the movies, namely
A. to slow down and spend time revealing more depth to the characters (Loki doesn't)
B. to tell a much more complex and expansive story than you could fit into a film (WandaVision doesn't)
This mini-series surprised me by doing both well and had a lot more artfulness and depth than people give it credit for.

Lensman: Secret of the Lens (1984)

I've never read the classic sci-fi novels this was based on but was convinced to dive in when I realized the whole anime was up on Youtube in good quality. Turns out this is one of those Japanese compilation movies of the first 4 episodes of the series, and it shows. Some art and character designs by legendary animator Yoshiaki Kawajiri do not actually work to great effect here, but there's enough interesting in the writing to convince me the actual series might be worth a look.

Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008)
After watching the ARISE series, I decided to rewatch the original Ghost in the Shell film in this release format before diving in to the next chronological release (the Stand Alone Complex series). The physical media for the Ghost in the Shell has been plagued with complaints from fans, and this one is no different. Updated CGI works in scenes where it was originally used, but takes you out of the story where it's added in willy nilly. The film itself was more understandable to me after having watched the ARISE series, but I think I actually prefer those films now as they're better balanced then this one is.
 

Racerx1969

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The Falcon & The Winter Soldier (2021)
I watched this awhile back but it took me until after I'd seen the other MCU Disney+ shows to finally review it. All are mixed bags that somewhat waste the opportunities provided by the different format to address issues in the movies, namely
A. to slow down and spend time revealing more depth to the characters (Loki doesn't)
B. to tell a much more complex and expansive story than you could fit into a film (WandaVision doesn't)
This mini-series surprised me by doing both well and had a lot more artfulness and depth than people give it credit for.
Agreed, this one stands above Loki or WandaVision. While the villain's motives kind of got muddled, the deep examination of the main characters carried it for my wife and I. It's a good example of why I prefer Marvel's cinematic offerings over DC.
 

Racerx1969

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Suicide Squad (2021) No surprises here, it's exactly what the reviews prepared me for. Over-the-top violence, thin plot, and many instances of "I shouldn't be laughing at this. I'm a bad person for laughing at this...but LOL"
 

L8wrtr

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Sweet Girl on Netflix.

Is this amazing? No. Is it entertaining? Reasonably. A solid action film with an interesting twist that is old and new at the same time.

Mamoa and Merced are solid as Father and Daughter and both deliver solid action and the dynamic between them is believable. The script varies from interesting to roll your eyes, but has a few decent 'didn't see that coming' moments and clever enough action sequences.
The two FBI agents are miscast and poorly written; the female lead agent is not convincing at all, and her middle aged white guy partner has his balls in a jar somewhere. Neither is terrible, just predictably written and simply plug dutifully away to deliver their necessary plot points.

The antagonist is well-used and provides the threat necessary while staying on the periphery while the story focuses on the dynamic between Father and Daughter.

3/5 stars.
 

mnkykungfu

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Agreed, this one stands above Loki or WandaVision. While the villain's motives kind of got muddled, the deep examination of the main characters carried it for my wife and I. It's a good example of why I prefer Marvel's cinematic offerings over DC.
^I just had this long conversation on Letterboxd about the villain(s). To me, it was pretty clear that the same rules for the "super soldier serum" from Captain America: The First Avenger still applied. Essentially, it makes everyone more of what they already are. So we see every person who's taken the serum (except Steve) eventually become overzealous and unbalanced, even if they started from a legitimate place. It really worked for me, especially as an analogy for how political extremism happens.

Midnight Special (2016)
A very different kind of 'super hero' movie, though I explain here how this does work as one long alternate version of the Superman(boy) story. Awesome cinematography and a layered, tense atmosphere made this highly enjoyable for me. I didn't find the controversial final quarter to be too ambiguous or unfulfilling at all.

Japanese cinema month is almost done!
House (1977)
Finally got around to watching this cult classic and I found it a real struggle. There are parts in the middle that could work, but the beginning and end are such a chore and make no sense in a not-fun way. For off-the-wall comedy horror in a haunted house, I'm going return to House II: The Second Story (1987- no connection) instead!

One Cut of the Dead (2017)
Another Japanese comedy horror cult hit, this one much more immediately. As I explained in my Letterboxd review, it's more a movie about making movies, and about how hard it is and how much work goes into even making something that's a piece of $#*!. I'd love a fanedit of this that made it so you didn't have to sit through the first third of awfulness to get to the good movie after.
 

ArtisDead

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Sweet Girl on Netflix.

Is this amazing? No. Is it entertaining? Reasonably. A solid action film with an interesting twist that is old and new at the same time.

Mamoa and Merced are solid as Father and Daughter and both deliver solid action and the dynamic between them is believable. The script varies from interesting to roll your eyes, but has a few decent 'didn't see that coming' moments and clever enough action sequences.
The two FBI agents are miscast and poorly written; the female lead agent is not convincing at all, and her middle aged white guy partner has his balls in a jar somewhere. Neither is terrible, just predictably written and simply plug dutifully away to deliver their necessary plot points.

The antagonist is well-used and provides the threat necessary while staying on the periphery while the story focuses on the dynamic between Father and Daughter.

3/5 stars.
Not sure if I could have said it that well but I agree on all points you make. I did enjoy the movie and really liked the end twist because I didn't see it coming even if it was somewhat predictable.
 

mnkykungfu

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Experimenter (2015)
Not a biopic exactly, but an exploration of the professional life of famed psychologist Stanley Milgram. The lion's share goes to exploring his experiment testing if people could simply be asked to torture a stranger and would comply (they will). A very cold film with great performances and some interesting magical realism.

The Assassin (2015)
I love Shu Qi but director Hsiao-Hsien Hou doesn't give her much to work with here. Great cinematography, but the insistence on depriving the audience of anything to latch on to seems artsy purely for the sake of artsiness. Similar techniques are used to great effect in First Reformed, but here, the story is not served.

Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984)
The title is actually the title of the song that they re-discover, a simple pop love ballad that they hope will save the universe. This movie version retells the key events of the seminal anime series in a movie that's all killer, no filler. The animation holds up well, but there's actually not all that much action, and far more music than most people suspect.
 

Racerx1969

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A couple of surprises here
Cruella (2021) I initially completely ignored this one (and no way was I spending the $30 early access), and planned to continue that. I got my arm mildly twisted to watch it...and it isn't bad. In fact it's pretty good. Not what I thought it would be: it's not a bad rehash of the animated movies but more an origin story loosely based on the original.
Cinderella (2021) Another surprise. I had to go double check that Lin Manuel Miranda wasn't involved because it definitely has his vibe to it early on. A musical with very modernized themes.
 

mnkykungfu

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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
My least favorite of the GitS stuff, and I'm starting to realize I'm just not much of a Mamoru Oshii guy. There are other writer/directors who found a way to deliver a lot of complex ideas but space them out over a film and work them in without sacrificing character arcs and narrative flow. Oshii often doesn't, and this supposedly (but not) stand alone sequel is a perfect example.

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999)
Script by Oshii but direction by Okiura. The iconic look of the 'stormtroopers' is what most people remember here, but this is not an action anime. It's a dramatic prequel to his live action films The Red Spectacles and Stray Dog, and the writing is a bit obtuse on its own. I wish Okiura directed more often though, as he puts in a lot of nice touches in the film, especially the first half.

Yurusarezaru Mono ("Things That Cannot Be Forgiven" - 2013)
A beautifully-made Japanese "Eastern-Western", with the story taking place after the overthrow of the Emperor and up in Hokkaido...truly a tumultuous "Wild West" setting for Japan. Based on Eastwood's "Unforgiven", this film adds a lot more depth by addressing the cultural roles of women and the native people, and comes from a more meaningful place since its director is one of the unwanted "zainichi" in Japan. A must-see.
 

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That Thing You Do (1996)
Lighthearted, toe-tapping film written and directed by Tom Hanks with the title song written by the incomparable Adam Schlesinger. This movie won't change your life, but it's a charming romp through the early 60s music landscape and Americana with a great soundtrack (though the title song is a hell of an ear-worm).
 

mnkykungfu

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That Thing You Do (1996)
Lighthearted, toe-tapping film written and directed by Tom Hanks with the title song written by the incomparable Adam Schlesinger. This movie won't change your life, but it's a charming romp through the early 60s music landscape and Americana with a great soundtrack (though the title song is a hell of an ear-worm).
@DigModiFicaTion just did an edit of this that looked pretty awesome. Tom Hanks famously struggled to get a cut of this out that he loved, so you may enjoy the fanedit even more.
 

DigModiFicaTion

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The Founder (2017)
The acting is great and the film itself is very well done. You really feel with the individuals of the story. Ultimately, I'm glad I don't eat at or support McDonalds. For me, this movie is an extreme PR blow to the company. Lies, greed and deceit, The Founder. 7/10
 

mnkykungfu

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One of the two main Japanese film series I wanted to work through this year was one I was super skeptical about. If, like me, you're immediately turned off by most cutesy anime series, especially ones with long, impenetrable titles, just hear me out for a moment....

Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the Movie Part I: Beginnings (2012)

"Madoka Magica" as it's known, looks for all the world like a disposable kids' anime in the "magical girl" sub-genre (think Sailor Moon). There are hints of something deeper and darker brewing in the first episode, but it's not until episode three that the series really reveals itself. I almost didn't watch that far, but as the first 7 episodes are collected into a movie here, you get the payoff about a third of the way in to this film.

Madoka Magica, the Movie Part II: Eternal (2012)
The first film ends with a rather Empire Strikes Back type finale which I won't spoil. Suffice to say that as the art becomes more dominated by a Czech/Russian gothic collage style, the story reveals a lot of philosophy behind the ramifications of girl power and magic solutions to problems. Japanese writing (esp in anime) tends to be too silly and juvenile or too dreamy and unfocused for me, but this script threads the needle. An ending with several reveals creates a one-two punch for these first two films that's not easily forgotten.

Madoka Magica Part III: Rebellion (2013)
This theatrical follow-up to the series (or two films) starts with what appears to be a side story or a re-working of the original film. But this is Madoka Magica, and you know it's going to be darker and more head-trippy than that. I'm glad I knew what to expect this time, as the beginning third of the film is again so cutesy and saccharine sweet that I almost gagged. Of course, that's intentional, as the later reveals (there are several) completely redefine the story again with a controversial ending that highlights the religious and metaphysical implications of the previous film.

Highly recommended series for appreciators of sci-fi or fantasy, whether animated or not.
 

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Two that are on Youtube in good quality:

Special Bulletin (1983)
The directing/writing/producing team of Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz got their start with this TV-movie. It seems to be the first recorded "pseudo-documentary", and it's done very well...so well that TV stations super-imposed warnings on the screen to avoid a War of the Worlds type panic. America was not actually under nuclear attack, but it turned out our TV news was actually degenerating into a ratings grab.

Black Angel (1980)
This 30-minute short film played in UK theaters before The Empire Strikes Back, and its director has been trying to drum up support to get it made as a feature ever since. There's about 5-10 minutes of actual content here, but the visual influence on Excalibur (and hence, The Green Knight) is undeniable.

and one more in my very spaced-out Woody Allen marathon:
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Allen's voice comes through so strongly in most of his films that I've been having to space them out because I get sick of it. This quirky half-mockumentary stands slightly apart by being so musical. I was really digging the "gypsy jazz", and Sean Penn manages to make Allen's typical disagreeable leads a little more sympathetic here. It's still hard to emotionally engage with and was a mixed bag, though.
 

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) Went to see this in an actual theater, with comfy chairs and a huge screen (Cinemark XD) and I regret nothing. MCU gets a new hero and continues its timeline. For me it was a typical Marvel effort--which is a good thing. I enjoyed the movie and the story. The humor felt natural for long time friends and didn't detract from the overall story--it felt like the kind of smart-aleck remarks my friends and I would make to deal with stressful situations.
 

mnkykungfu

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My other big project for August was doing a marathon of all the Ghost in the Shell films, as I hadn't watched any since the original in '95. In the timeline of that universe, the last ones are the Stand Alone Complex series (which incidentally don't stand alone well at all).

GitS: SAC - The Laughing Man (2005)
Following in the long tradition of editing a TV season into a theatrical film, TLM seems to imagine the ending of the original GitS film never happened. It focuses more on the Public Security (supercops) team around the famous heroine, Motoko Kusanagi. It's got a TV budget for animation, she's supersexualized like most TV anime, and the "film" is pretty poorly balanced with long exposition and anime-nerd comedy. Didn't live up to its reputation.

GitS: SAC 2nd Gig - Individual Eleven (2006)
This second season has higher quality animation, better, redesigned characters (Motoko doesn't have to wear a swimsuit constantly), and seems directed with a film compilation in mind. It cuts together into a much more focused story, though still with the series trademark wild philosophizing and still with the goofy tachikoma robots.

GitS: SAC - Solid State Society (2006)

A theatrical film sequel to the series, you'd think this would be much more coherent since they don't need to cut out subplots, but writer/director Kenji Kamiyama just jams in more to make the plot feel as needlessly elaborate as any other GitS story. The animation is much higher-budget, but uses a lot of CG instead of more of Production IG's best-in-the-business hand drawn art. Once the plot finally plays out, the story seems kind of ridiculous in terms of developing the characters across the series.

Each of these works better out of context, and yet each would be incomprehensible without following the series at least a bit. Overall, SAC is a pass for me. I much prefer the ARISE prequel series of short films.
 

DigModiFicaTion

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The Karate Kid
Just as good and ridiculous as I remembered it being. 80's villains are extremely ridiculous, as is Daniel's fetal position acting when he gets hit. I got to watch this with the new lenses of being a mentor and I love what I learned from Mr. Miyagi and the power of influence. 7.5/10

The Karate Kid II
An ok movie that is more about friendship, loyalty and forgiveness. There isn't really any karate happening here, so unless you are interested in Mr. Miyagi or Daniel you might not enjoy this. 6.5/10

The Karate Kid III
Ridiculous villains, ridiculous acting, ridiculous story. For die hard fans only. 5/10
 

ArtisDead

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The Karate Kid
Just as good and ridiculous as I remembered it being. 80's villains are extremely ridiculous, as is Daniel's fetal position acting when he gets hit. I got to watch this with the new lenses of being a mentor and I love what I learned from Mr. Miyagi and the power of influence. 7.5/10

The Karate Kid II
An ok movie that is more about friendship, loyalty and forgiveness. There isn't really any karate happening here, so unless you are interested in Mr. Miyagi or Daniel you might not enjoy this. 6.5/10

The Karate Kid III
Ridiculous villains, ridiculous acting, ridiculous story. For die hard fans only. 5/10
Oh yeah...I was stupid for these movies...and...geez...three different colors of parachute pants...😳
 
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