Saturday, November 28, 2020

Weekend Open Thread

18 comments:

  1. Good weekend to everyone and Happy Thanksgiving where applicable! What's everyone been watching? Here's some of mine.

    I'm slowly making my way through the Criterion Godzilla box set, and last weekend saw Invasion of Astro-Monster. I love how the movies get sillier and sillier as the franchise goes on, keeps it from feeling too samey.

    I've been catching up with Gourley & Rust's Elm Street podcast and watching the movies along with it, only my second time going through the whole franchise. I've come to the conclusion that New Nightmare is not only my favorite of the bunch, it's probably my favorite movie of the big three slasher franchises. My Boy Renny Harlin's Dream Master also rose in my estimation above the much-beloved Dream Warriors. All in all, I liked the franchise as a whole lot more than on my first watch five years ago. Not looking forward to revisiting the remake though.

    I also rewatched My Boy Renny Harlin's Cliffhanger for the first time in ages. It's a solid 90's actioner and looks pretty gorgeous in 4k. I'd forgotten the crazy British accent Lithgow is doing in it.

    Robert Zemeckis' motion capture films The Polar Express and Beowulf are more fascinating than good, and I had a better time watching the behind the scenes footage than the actual films. Just borrowed A Christmas Carol from the library yesterday to complete the trifecta.

    And The Three Musketeers (1993) and Sky High were entirely pleasant Disney+ watches.

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    1. i think Beowulf is one of the best Zemeckis movie he made. the CGI didn't age well, but the rest compensate for it, i think.

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    2. What's it like reviewing work and interesting history from the law firm of Zemeckis & Harlin? 😲🥳

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    3. All of the Showa era Godzilla films were shown on a movie channel last year. I got around to watching many of them. My favorite watch from then was the next film in the franchise, Ebirah: Horror From The Deep. The Japanese version is one I saw. The nod to James Bond in that is hilarious. Moreover, how Godzilla enters the film is beyond ridiculous. Although the franchise, as you say, does get increasingly silly, it kept the films from getting stale sooner than they would have.

      When I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street 4-6 at the drive-in last year (a great night), I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Dream Master.

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    4. No joke, "Dream Master" is my favorite "NOES" movie. I can see all the negative points Patrick and Mike made on the "NOES" series podcast where they trashed "Dream Warriors," but of the original six is the one I can sit and watch and lose myself in its mainstreamed Freddy lore. Damn you, Harlin!!! :-P

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    5. Harlin heads of the world, unite!

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  2. The Christmas Chronicles Part Two:

    Kurt Russell is still having the time of his life. Goldie Hawn gets to join the fun too, which is a good thing. adventure happens, lessons are learned, it's as fun as the first one

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    1. i forgot to mention that Tyrese Gibson is in there in a very very small role (not even 5 minutes in the whole movie), for some reasons. maybe he wants to change his douchebag image a little bit.

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  3. As usual, Thanksgiving was a lot of work. The food turned out good at least. Most of the films I got around to were in noir territory, mainly to get some things off of the DVR. It was my nod to Noirvember, too.

    KEY LARGO (1948, dir. John Huston) – An all-star Hollywood cast drives this drama about a gangster holed up in a hotel in the Florida Keys. Edward G. Robinson is wonderful as the amoral Jimmy Rocco. Our hero is Humphrey Bogart, a WWII vet trying to find some stability and purpose in his life. John Huston maintains the tension as the stakes grow for each character. Easily the best of the films I watched during the week.

    THE BIG SLEEP (1946, dir. Howard Hawks) – One of the heavy hitters of noir and a film I had not ever watched in its entirety. Humphrey Bogart is Phillip Marlowe, a private eye drawn into the sordid affairs of the Sternwood family. The film more than lives up to its reputation for being one of the most convoluted plots of its era. It is certainly a film that I would need to watch again to assess how I fully feel about it.

    WHERE DANGER LIVES (1950) – Despite the effective noir elements and Robert Mitchum’s charisma, Where Danger Lives does not really come to life until toward the conclusion. Mitchum plays a doctor who gets drawn into the life of a young woman brought into his care after a suicide attempt. The script and Faith Domergue as the femme fatale let the film down the most, but Claude Rains’ brief role does partially redeem those weaknesses. More a film for those who are noir completists.

    THE RACKET (1951) – An adaptation of a 1920s gangster story that still feels like a 1920s gangster story. Eddie Muller’s introduction for TCM’s Noir Alley does a great job explaining why the finished product is what is. While not the most engaging crime drama – everything feels outdated and gets too didactic- I am always glad to have a chance to watch Robert Ryan and Robert Mitchum in their prime.

    BAD GIRLS FROM MARS (1991) – A product of the late-night cable movie era. Fred Olen Ray spoofs the world of low-budget filmmaking while showing a lot of breasts. He has made better trash of this nature, yet I did like the humor of BAD GIRLS.

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  4. I like movies that make me feel a bit smart. But it sucks when you rewatch them and you figure out exactly what they were doing to make you feel that way. Like the Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane mystery series - after repetitive viewings you see that the revelations always come through chance. They weren't actually earned, they were just inserted, and usually during an unrelated emotional breakthrough.

    I watched The Hunt for Red October again and it's the same, I am way less impressed. BUT at least it was a good suspense movie the first time around. That's still more to say for most.

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    1. Being able to enjoy a film after the first viewing depends on many factors. As you state, Meredith, there may be plot elements that do not add up and become distracting. In any case, knowing what is going to happen changes the viewing experience. For the films that I have watched multiple times (Alucarda, What have you done to Solange?, Black Sabbath), there are other elements than the plot that engage me. Another film I recently tried to watch again, 1977's RITUALS, I could not get into because there was no mystery left to hook me.

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    2. Agree, Casual! In fact, I still respect that movie The Hunt for Red October for all their design choices that made it look so sharp and seem so suspenseful the first (few) times around. I wish I didn't feel the need to watch the same movies OVER AND OVER AGAIN A BILLION TIMES until they're in tatters. Personal problem.

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  5. DESTINATION MOON (1950) This movie is often criticized for being boring, and it is. But, somehow, it’s a good kind of boring. There’s not much plot or conflict, but there’s lots of interesting stuff to look at, so you can just let all the old-timey space travel just wash over you.

    LEGENDS OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE (2016) I imagine some people won’t like how this movie is all goofy and meta instead of being a legit treasure hunt adventure. I liked the silliness, though, and laughed along with it the whole time.

    JOHNNY MNEMONIC (1995) What a huge amount of talent assembled to be part of this most mediocre sci-fi actioner. As I kept watching, I started thinking, “Wait, is this not the movie with the cyborg dolphin?” Then there it was, the cyborg dolphin!

    MILK MONEY (1994) I knew this one would be bad, but not this bad. Sometimes it’s an R-rated sex comedy, sometimes it’s a Goonies-style “kids on bikes” movie, and sometimes it’s a Lifetime-style sad single dad romance – and none of it works. I can forgive a lot of a movie’s faults if I can look at it and think, “I get where they’re going with this,” but in this case I have no idea what they were trying to do. Just ugh.

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    1. Destination Moon struck me more as more of a speculative science-fiction film than anything else. There are no aliens trying to takeover Earth. In 1950, there were still seven years to wait until a man-made object was even put into space, so this kind of film probably would have captured the imagination of its audience more than now. And it deals with the practical matters of space travel, such as how gravity works, in a way that the bulk of the space films of the era fails to. It is easy to forget now how space obsessed people were in the 1950s and '60s.

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  6. I've been really into my first watch of Deep Space Nine (which is fantastic!!!), so my movie watching has dropped off. But I watched a few movies:

    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

    This was the first time my kids saw this. I was pleased that they found it as funny as they did, despite not getting all the references. It's at it's core, just really really silly, which is my favourite type of comedy.

    Dark Phoenix (2019)

    Finally watched this, and you know what? Not that bad. Definitely on the lower tier of X-men movies, but I had a good time. The alien villains was definitely the weakest part (why were they there? Other than a vague "to take over the world")

    Charlie's Angels (2019)

    Fun movie, but pretty by-the-numbers. It has a 4.8 on IMDB? That's crazy low. Something tells me that the general population didn't bother to rate it, and the only people rating were bros angry about women in their movie...I hate the world sometimes.

    Underwater (2020)

    Watched based on Patrick's recommendation. Pretty blatant Alien/Abyss rip-off (right down to getting the female protagonist into her undergarments in the final act), but well done and enjoyable. That monster seemed pretty determined to catch what would be a grape sized bite for him. But I get there isn't too much else to eat down there, haha. I can see myself watching this every few years.

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    1. How far into DS9 are you? Love that show.

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    2. "Dark Phoenix" isn't the dumpster fire everyone thinks it is, IMHO. Considering (a) it's the 12th "X-Men" movie (if you count the "Deadpool" flicks), (b) Bryan Singer didn't direct it (even with "Apocalypse" his batting average for the series is quite high) and (c) Jennifer Lawrence is visibly checked out of the franchise, it's amazing "Dark Phoenix" can still can conjure moments of childhood wonderment in me at the amazing set-pieces I'm witnessing. It's no consolation prize for "X-2" setting up the Dark Phoenix saga and "X-Men 3" blowing it, but it's a better-than-it-deserves swan song for Fox's run of the IP.

      I liked "Charlie's Angels" and "Underwater" about the same. Pretty good mainstream entertainment ("Charlie's Angels" I saw in IMAX and it's a decent 4K BD) that put Stewart's newfound comfort with her acting chops. Shame they didn't make box office waves. :-(

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  7. Watched the Extended Director's Cut of Sly Stallone's THE EXPENDABLES (2010, Amazon Rental) so I could then re-watch with the Forever Cinematic Commentary Track. This one has aged better than its sequels, and the extra minutes of character development and breathing room make these hulking men a tad more human/relatable. And since Dolph Lundgren has gotten much better with age (as "Creed II" proved) he naturally steals the scenes he's in, even though he's not in the first "Expendables" as much as people remember.

    Speaking of Drago, Dolph is one of the few highlights ("Hold, sinners!") of JOHNNY MNEMONIC (1995, Hulu). It's a mess of a futuristic action flick, but it influenced future dystopian sci-fi spectacles by making basic pace, editing and storytelling mistakes (fish = original ending of "Watchmen," which Snyder & Co. wisely changed for the movie adaptation) that post-1995 filmmakers would steer clear of. BTW, how come Sean Bean gets this reputation of dying in every film he's in but Udo Kier doesn't when the same thing happens to all his characters?

    John Carpenter's ASSAULT ON PRECINT 13 (1976, Blu-ray) was one of the first 'R' flicks I saw on HBO when I visited my folks in New York back in 1985 (at the ripe young age of 12). I taped it on VHS and must have rewatched it a dozen times back then. Seeing it for the first time in decades you can tell it's proto-Carpenter (cool-but-repetitive theme, western-in-disguise storytelling/homage, silent-type protagonists, strong women, widescreen AR, etc.) that is a couple of hit films away from delivering the full Carpenter experience. It's more a calling card of future attractions than a great film (the pace is way too slow), but the trauma of that little girl getting more red cherry on her dress and ice cream is an unforgettable cornerstone of my love for exploitation cinema. Worth seeing with the Forever Cinematic commentary track.

    John Woo's PAYCHECK (2003, Amazon Prime) shows what happens to a talented Hong Kong action director when Hollywood has squeezed the creativity and joy from his skills. I mean, CG dive? NO! :'( Great cast (Affleck, Thurman, Eckhart, young Michael C. Hall, pre-"Sideways" Paul Giamatti, "T2's" Miles Dyson, etc.) is largely wasted on a convoluted time-travel sci-fi tale that is mostly a vehicle for Woo and his stuntmen to stage convoluted action gags. The less seriously you take it the more entertaining it is, but the PG-13 rating really hurts its ability to be as outrageous as you know John Woo can be.

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