Saturday, March 14, 2020

Weekend Open Thread

Please take care of each other.


  1. Oh boy. I hope you all are staying healthy. Just saw that the local art house movie theaters are shutting down until April 17th. What are things like in your towns?

    Thanks to Patrick and everybody for the fest. It was amazing.

    1. Here in NYC Anthology Film Archives and the Lincoln Center Cinemas (Walter Reade, etc.) have decided to self-close. The rest are operating at half capacity, but I don't think that's going to last. I don't know about any other town, but in Gotham a sizable portion of arthouse cinema audiences are elderly patrons. Even with social distancing between seats, I doubt there will be enough product or audience interest to remain open. Heck, I went to my local AMC in Harlem Friday night and it was a ghost town. If commercial cinema struggles at a time like this, what chance does arthouse cinema have? :-(

    2. IFC Center, Alamo Drafthouse (Brooklyn and Yonkers) and Nitehawk Cinema (both locations) have shut down until April at the earliest. Metrograph closes shop tomorrow for the foreseeable future. That just leaves Angelika, Film Forum and Quad Cinema as the remaining open arthouse theaters in the city. Not looking good at all. :'(

    3. Crescent Theater which is small independently owned theater here in Mobile has closed till further notice. The other theaters are operating at half capacity per Regal's and AMC's orders. We also have a cinema dining place thats part of the Nexus chain but I am not sure what they are doing.

    4. Film Forum in NY closes its doors. Angelika and Quad Cinema are only arthouses still open. AMC and Regal still open for now. :-(

    5. The Mayor makes it official: all NYC theaters to shut down starting Tuesday morning, likely for two months (per CDC recommendations). :'(

    6. Sorry JM, but can't help but think its for the best. I'm also in NYC. more concerned about finding food now actually.

  2. Reporting from North America Coronavirus epicenter, Seattle. I can report it's a bizarre feeling to know that you and your kids are spending almost all your waking hours inside.

    But of course, that just leaves more time for MOVIES! (So it ain't all bad).

    Last night I watched Teen Titans GO! To the Movies with my oldest son. Wondering if Patrick got around to watching this on his Nic Cage binge. He plays the voice of Superman (the role that got away), a supporting character to the titular heroes. I was pleasantly surprised how laugh out loud funny the gags were in this movie. S particularly great running gag was the Titans continually referring to the main villain as Deadpool, all the while mugging to the camera. It's a DC movie with a sense of humor about itself, the reputation of the DCU and superhero films in general.

    Also, I watched Donald Sutherland in an Agatha Christie adaptation I had no idea existed: 1984's Ordeal by Innocence (that's a title that wouldn't have passed muster from any other source than Christie). It has an impressive cast, including Christopher Plummer and Ian McShane. Instead of Poirot, Sutherland plays Dr. Calgary, an American paleontologist who returns to the English seaside home of a colleague and finds he has been tried and hanged for the murder of his heiress mother (played entirely in flashbacks by Faye Dunaway!). The mystery is sufficiently circuitous for your standard whodunnit, but alas this was no Knives Out. Inexplicably the film gives away the murderer far too early, and we have to wait for Sutherland to catch up, but it also doesn't give us any nail-biting tension to hold our interest while the thread fully unravels. Just a so-so mystery film, perfectly acceptable though for killing time on quarantine.

    Also, Ordeal by Innocence is notable for having its score written and performed by Dave Brubeck (of "Take Five" fame). A kind of quainy experiment, but the stripped down drums, bass and piano don't serve the film well. It reaches the point of distraction fairly early and leaves you wishing for more complementary costume drama fare.

    Patrick and crew, thanks for your shows and keep them coming!

    1. I love the Teen Titans Go series and movies. Slaaaaaaaaaade!

    2. Wasn't "Ordeal by Innocence" part of the just-concluded Kino Lorber Winter Sale? I thought I saw that title among the hundreds of movies I looked trying to find deals.

      Another vote of support for "Teen Titans GO! to the Movies." Saw it in theaters, then with my nine-year old niece (who LOVES the TV show) and it holds up on repeated viewing. It's streaming on HBO (Go and Now), so Patrick has NO EXCUSES to not add it to his ongoing Cage binge.

  3. Just to keep with the current mood, i'm watching the new Planet Of The Apes trilogy. And maybe Mad Max to finish the weekend

  4. Hi everyone. Here in Paris, everything is starting to shut down and get cancelled. People stopped doing "la bise", which is really saying something. Toilet paper is becoming a priced possession here, too. But we're blessed with many small, independant theaters, many of which are still opened, at least for the next few days...

    I've been wanting to watch the Saw franchise for a while, given Mike and Patrick's interesting take on the series as a whole.
    I was 16 when the first Saw came out, and it blew. my. mind. I still see myself coming home from the theater that night and following my mom around the house, talking in lenghts about this CRAZY, SMART, TWISTED movie (ugh). Never rewatched it since, only saw II in theaters and lost interest after that (understandingly so).
    While I have no interest whatsoever (nore patience) for the icky, mean-spirited gore scenes, I do find the continuity rather unusual and pretty entertaining. I'm still baffled by the bad directing and the terrible, terrible acting throughout the franchise, which culminate to an almost incredible degree in the 7th chapter, which might be one of the ugliest looking movies I've ever seen, beside being dumb as hell. After that one, Jigsaw gave me, at the very least, the satisfaction to feel like I was watching an actual movie. Unfortunately the ending and the "revelation" were, to say the least, pretty underwhelming. But, still, for the first time in over a decade, I'm kind of looking forward to the next installment (by Executive Producer Chris Rock, no less).

    1. Ah, nevermind, our Prime minister just ordered that all non-essential (that's debatable) venues/shops be closed, starting tonight.

  5. So, I wanted to watch a movie on the big screen but I also wanted the isolation of an empty, not-crowded theater. So naturally I went to the safest place to be right now: a Dolby Cinema screening of Vin Diesel's BLOODSHOT (2020). :-D Sadly It appears this will be the last big Hollywood movie to be released theatrically for a while, as all the good stuff has been postponed and pushed back to late '20/early '21.

    Outside of the "Fast/Furious," "Riddick" and "xXx" franchises, any Vin Diesel stand-alone action vehicle is guaranteed to commercially/critically underwhelm. And underwhelm "̶S̶o̶u̶r̶c̶e̶ ̶C̶o̶d̶e̶"̶... "̶R̶o̶b̶o̶c̶o̶p̶"̶... "̶A̶s̶s̶a̶s̶s̶i̶n̶'̶s̶ ̶C̶r̶e̶e̶d̶"̶... "̶E̶d̶g̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶T̶o̶m̶o̶r̶r̶o̶w̶"̶... "̶J̶a̶s̶o̶n̶ ̶X̶"̶... "̶D̶i̶s̶t̶r̶i̶c̶t̶ ̶B̶1̶3̶"̶ "Bloodshot" does, living up to its generic title. Heck, for the final action set-piece the main henchman springs Doc Ock mechanical arms straight out of "Spider-Man 2" for absolutely no reason other than it looks "cool." Barf! At least there's much-needed comic relief from UK comic Lamorne Morris, whose Wigans character (possibly the coolest movie hacker since Theo from "Die Hard") literally steals the movie every time he's on-screen. Morris is far more memorable and interesting than anyone else, including Vin and a very mannered Guy Pearce playing mad scientist. Wait for "Bloodshot" to hit streaming. :-O

    Also caught THE PHOTOGRAPH (2020), which came out back in Valentine's Day Weekend. Decent romantic pic with LaKeith Stanfield and Chelsea Peretti playing Michael and Sara, a professional young couple who are repeating the same mistakes that Sara's mom (Issa Rae) and her boyfriend Isaac (Y'lan Noel) went through in the 1980's. As in "Bloodshot," a comedian (Lil Rel Howery) delivers a memorable role by virtue of being the only source of comic relief in a film that takes itself very seriously. A portion of "The Photograph" takes place during a hurricane slamming NYC hard, which feels tonally off. In FTM parlay, 'it's fine.'

    BURDEN (2020) is a 2018 feature that just got a limited theatrical release in late February. Shame, because Sam Rockwell's 2019 feature "The Best of Enemies" stole all its thunder in the 'racist redneck sees the errors of his way' sweepstakes. Garrett Hedlund plays the ironically named Mike Burden, whose growing affection for local Walmart cashier Judy (top-billed Andrea Riseborough) tests his relationship with the Ku Klux Klan-worshipping family that raised him. Tom Wilkinson is scary good playing the unrepentant South Carolinian patriarch that has poisoned Mike's mind, as is Forest Whitaker as the reverend that chooses to give Burden and his girlfriend the respect his congregation refuses to. Again, 'it's fine.'

    Based on trailers and commercials I was ready to absolutely hate Pixar's ONWARD (3D, 2020). As a big fan of "Inside Out," though, imagine my surprise when "Onward" comes close to achieving a degree of heartfelt pathos its 80's metal head aesthetic disguises rather well. There are convoluted action set-pieces throughout the quest by teenager elves Ian and Barley Lightfoot (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) to revive the spirit of their deceased father via a just-found magic spell. But in a clever and well-planned third act reveal, these action beats are revealed to be character beats. The final 10 minutes are just about perfect, a neat wink to the commercial needs of a Pixar project while delving deeply into family dynamics. Bad timing for "Onward" to come out now, but watch it as soon as you get a chance. It's the most personal Pixar has ever gotten with its character motivations since the human portions of "Inside Out," and comes highly recommended.

  6. The situation's not bad here in Finland (only 233 confirmed cases), but it's clear it's just a waiting game before the outbreak. All events with a crowd of over 500 have been canceled, but movie theaters seem to still be selling tickets, at least in my town. Probably not for long. There was still plenty of toilet paper and canned goods at the story when I went yesterday, and everything seems peaceful.

    Luckily I have practice in social distancing and sitting at home. Hope everyone is healthy and not taking any unnecessary risks.

    In other news, I just watched The Fate of the Furious for the first time to take my mind off things. Didn't like it as much as the three previous ones, but it did exactly what I asked it to, took my mind off things.

    Again, hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

  7. My update: I'm not sick. I'm not quarantined, but I am staying in this weekend. The grocery store was unusually busy, but not chaos.

    I've finally seen Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. A few hearty laughs and lots of Kev Smith easter eggs, but not much else to say about it.

    Also rewatched the first Spy Kids. Really fun movie, but wow there's no denying it was made in the early 2000s.

    Hope everyone's staying safe!

  8. Not in a heavily affected part of California, although who really knows due to how testing has been handled. The theater chain I work for has cut back operating hours and occupancy but still keeping things open for now even though every major release from now through April has been pushed back aside from Trolls World Tour. So I'll still be out there working and being safe with cleanliness.

    I happened to had already requested this weekend of a month or two back (original plans were to go to Disneyland but fortunately never got to the point of booking anything). Instead I've been doing my part of living like a shut-in for a bit and watching through the MCU movies again just for some light viewing in between everything else.

    Stay safe everyone and wash your hands.

  9. Though the world is being turned upside at the moment, there is still the pleasure of cinema to take refuge in. I have closely followed the Covid-19 outbreak since January, hoping that it might not become reality outside of China. Being just a couple hours outside of New York City, and in an area full of daily commuters to there, it might become an issue where I am. Time will tell what happens. Hope all you are doing well and avoid the worst consequences of this situation.

    With a shortened workday early in the week, I decided to go to a small local theater. I chose to see a film called Fantastic Fungi, a documentary about mushrooms. (Onward was my only other option.) While there is some great footage of mushrooms and enlightening discussions about them, the film gets way too preachy about the health benefits of mushrooms and their properties toward the end. It was still a pleasant time at the movies, however.

    There was one other major watch for the week, 1974's The Night Porter. This was a second viewing, and I appreciated it more. I at least knew this time around that the exploitation is on the arty side. The Night Porter has some interesting dichotomies, and Dirk Bogarde gives a great performance as a sadist who is not completely lacking in good qualities. Charlotte Rampling's cabaret sequence is not one that is easy to forget. Other watches fizzled out from fatigue.

    I purchased some things from the Kino Lorber sale: a couple of Mario Bava blu-rays, DVDs of Truck Turner and They're Play With Fire (Junesploitation considerations), and a 1980s film entitled Runaway Train were what I chose. One of the Bava films was not a great price but was something I really wanted. Lisa And The Devil, on the other hand, was a great price, particularly since it features the deliciously bad House of Exorcism. HOUSE remains one of the funniest (unintentionally) movies I have watched in the past decade.

    Anyone with a Prime subscription who is looking for some 1980s post-apocalyptic weirdness can find it with SHE, from 1985. I watched the first twenty minutes very amused before the need for sleep overcame me.

    1. ... is being turned upside down...

      Anyway, House of Exorcism is also on Prime.

    2. Thanks for the heads-up about "She" streaming on Prime. It was one of the Kino Lorber titles I seriously wanted during the Winter Sale, but couldn't justify the Blu-ray's asking price without any bonus features.

      Also caught "The Night Porter" recently and talked about it on the site. Charlotte Rampling really owned the 70's and 80's as a gorgeous actor who also took on difficult roles. Bogarde has the tougher role, since he has to play a sympathetic Nazi believably. Not a joyful or even rewatchable picture (hence why I've never bought it during Criterion B&N sales before), but a memorable one.

      And you passed on seeing "Onward" in theaters? :-O Dude, read my thoughts about it above yours. It's a great family movie that also talks to desires/needs of young people to express their individuality. Best Pixar movie in a while, and that's before I even knew A "SIMPSONS" THEATRICAL SHORT (and a funny one at that) preceded the movie. Win-win! Stay safe in drugs, don't do school. ;-)

    3. Animated films have not been a part of my regular viewing habits for a long time, J.M. That is particularly true with computer animation. I still enjoy the stop-motion style. The Wallace and Gromit films and a Swiss film called Ma Vie de Courgette are some of my favorites in that style.

      I will try to finish SHE during the week. The lack of concern for a coherent plot was a big reason I was enjoying it, actually. With the difficulty of determining what is on Prime, I always try to let others know about a good find like SHE. Another crazy 1980s film on Prime is NINJA III: The Domination. I have looked forward to seeing that for a long time. Junesploitaton comes year-round for me.

  10. You know what, for no reason whatsoever, today is gonna be about baseball movie

    I just finished A League Of Their Own. Now watching Bull Durham. I have Moneyball, The Sandlot and Major League on the pile. That should put me through that day before i gotta get back to work (yup, can't work from home)

    1. Maybe Baseketball at the end of the day, if there's time

    2. That's funny, I've been on a basketball flick binge in honor of the NBA cancellation. Baseketball was actually the first one, followed by Love And Basketball. A surprisingly good double bill. Next up is O and White Men Can't Jump.

  11. I was excited about F This Movie Fest but I am not on twitter and I work at a bar, so participating on a Saturday was off the table. I decided to do my own marathon on the following Monday. As I was not following the same timeline, I tweaked my 1990 lineup a little:
    Miller's Crossing
    Total Recall
    I Had intended to play Joe vs. the Volcano as the penultimate feature, but I could tell my company only had one more movie in them, so I had to leave it off.
    Thanks to the site and the podcast for the inspiration. It was a lot of fun!

  12. Watched a few extra flicks this weekend, including some at a nearby AMC. Hey, I might as well use my A-List slots before the inevitable happens in a few days.

    SHE (1985) on Prime (thank you, Casual Listener! :-P). Boy, talk about an 80's Italian-ish "Mad Max/Conan" ripoff whose plot/story lives for the moment. No major considerations were given to anything besides how good Sandahl Bergman looks naked and/or scantly clad. One moment Bergman's Goddess character and her adventure partners (particularly muscleman David Goss) are fighting biker-like Norks, the next they keep slicing/dicing Xenons that multiply with every beheading/arm slicing (all while annoying with their dated pop culture references). And don't get me started on cult leader Godan's green-eyed ability to have actors move in sped-up backward acting! Or the so-bad-it-rocks 80's score by Rick Wakeman, one of three musicians scoring this thing independently from one another (and it shows). It's a thick slice of 'B' movie cheese, only barely scraping the outer rims of the 'so bad it's good' entertaining pool. "She" obviously was cheaply made, but every cent of its limited budget is on the screen. The HD transfer on Amazon Prime is good-enough to make me glad I didn't waste ten bucks on the Kino BD.

    From the director of "The Accountant" (remember that?) comes Ben Affleck reliving his alcoholic past in the fictitious-but-close-enough THE WAY BACK (2020). It's "Clean and Sober" meets "Hoosiers" as Affleck gets pushed into coaching a team of loser high-school students into a competitive team. There's a "happy" ending for those that want to leave 20 minutes before the real ending (some patrons at my theater actually did just that), and Janina Gavankar is way too young to play Affleck's ex (even though she's pushing 40). Depressing flick, but not as sappy and melodramatic as it could have been thanks to Ben's leading man chops. Typical FTM 'it's fine' fodder.

    Last and certainly least, caught THE HUNT (2020) at a surprisingly packed house (50% capacity = new sold out). Other than the fact a military consultant character is named "Sgt. Dick Dale" (get it?) and we play a lengthy game of (bloody) revolving leading characters before we settle onto our hero (Betty Gilpin, graduating from supporting roles to the bigs), this is basically "Ready Or Not" without the family dynamics. Just because co-writer Damon Lindelof makes sure both sides of the political spectrum get slammed doesn't mean "The Hunt" is even remotely offensive. There's some funny shit here (Gilpin's deadpan delivery, the source of Ethan Suplee's character's name, etc.), but the flick in which the humor comes packed is no more harmful or controversial than a mid-season "South Park" episode.

  13. Hope everybody's safe and healthy. Had a movie-heavy mostly-stay-at-home weekend.

    Kicked things off with the 1997 Kurt Russell thriller "Breakdown" on Friday night. I had somehow never even heard of this movie until it was mentioned on a podcast I was listening to, and man, I was missing out. After a good, eerie, what's-going-on-here build, the movie manages to maintain the tension and constantly ratchet up the stakes. It didn't have anything important to say, but it entertained the hell out of me for 90 crisp minutes. Definitely a new favorite.

    On Saturday morning, I had a little mini-FtMFest. I was only able to join in for about an hour of Tremors for the real Fest, so this helped make up for missing out last Saturday. I'd never seen any of the middle four Fest movies (what a treat), so I watched "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "Dick Tracy", and "Hard to Kill". Great lineup--lots of fun.

    Then, a pause for our one excursion (besides the grocery store) into public. The local theater (Regal) is still open, but using the block-out-half-the-seats measure to keep folks spread out. We saw "Portrait of a Lady on Fire", and I'm glad I got to see it on the big screen.

    Capped off the night with "The Cutting Edge" on Saturday. Doofy, but fun.

    I resumed the FtMFest program with "Darkman" in the morning, and really liked it. Such a cool, dark (yup) take on the superhero movie (in 1990, that meant Batman). After that, I wanted to get to "Total Recall" at some point, but we never got around to it. We did rewatch "Midsommar" for the first time since seeing it in theaters. It was just as watchable and unsettling as the first time I saw it. I still can't quite put my finger on what I think the movie is doing, or if it's even trying to do anything, but whatever it's doing, it's doing it well most of the time.