Saturday, September 4, 2021

Weekend Open Thread

33 comments:

  1. Hi all! Hope everyone's weekend is shiny!

    This week, I managed to get myself into a press screening of a new Finnish movie that will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival next week. It's called The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic, and it's a story about a man who's paralyzed from the chest down and blind because of MS, and the only thing that keeps him going is daily phone calls with an ailing woman he met on the internet. When she gets sicker, the man decides to embark on a road trip to meet her.

    The actor playing the lead role was a promising young theater actor before he was paralyzed and blinded by MS, and this film gave him his first (and most likely last) film role. The movie succesfully uses cinematography and the soundscape to place the viewer inside the main character's head, and the thing it reminded me of was the famous Ebert quote about movies being an empathy-generating machine. No idea if/when it'll be released overseas, but I hope as many people get to see it as possible. I loved it!

    (The title is a reference to the character having been a big movie nerd (whose favorite director was John Carpenter) who absolutely refused to ever watch Titanic.)

    In other news, the Helsinki International Film Festival kicks off in two weeks, and I'm planning on traveling to Helsinki and seeing 19 movies across six days, including stuff that's been out in the US for a while (like Pig and Relic), but also smaller European films and stuff from Brazil and South Africa. Dune also comes out that weekend, so I'm seeing that in the country's only IMAX theater. Getting slightly excited for it...

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    1. Sounds like an interesting indie flick. Will keep an eye if it ever comes to American shores, either as an arthouse theatrical or a streaming option. :-)

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    2. Mikko, I've listened to the first few episodes of the Disniversity podcast. Thanks for the recommendation! I have only been watching bits and pieces of the movies, but the podcast is very interesting, giving lots of context into the history of Disney and animation techniques.

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    3. Glad to hear it. I've been really liking it too. Learning more about the older Disney movies has really given me a new appreciation for them.

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    4. I've also never seen Titanic and Do Not Want to See Titanic.

      What am I missing out on, really?

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    5. You'll have to listen to the Fthismovie Titanic episode to find out!

      In the 90's it certainly didn't excite me, but when I rewatched it a few years ago I liked it quite a bit more.

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    6. Does the Disney podcast only cover animated, or all old disney films? Their checkered past is interesting.

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    7. Only the Animated ones. They're going in chronological order, and are up to The Jungle Book (1967).

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    8. You definitely will have a full week of movies in Helsinki. Outside of Junesploitation, six or seven is the highest number of movies I have a seen in a single week this year.

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  2. Don't get too attached. ;-)

    James Gunn's THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021, theater) is not only proof positive that a movie adaptation of "Watchmen" with its original graphic novel ending could have worked, but that watching a seasoned filmmaker pulling off the high-wire act of sustaining a delicate tone that's one terrible beat/scene/edit away from disaster can be as thrilling as the superhero story/acting/action sequences it depicts. Making its 2016 predecessor look like amateur hour, "TSS" (not to be confused with Nathan Fillion's T.D.K. character :-D) is so busy taking entertaining detours from its main story that its 132 min. running time flies by. Just when I thought I was sick of Margo Robbie's portrayal of Harley Quinn, the filmmakers stage a prison escape sequence so badass it renewed my appreciation. And in a movie jampacked with manly men (Elba, Cena, Kinnaman, Rooker, Courtney, Capaldi, etc.) doing manly things with tongues firmly on their cheeks, the standout performances are given by newcomer Daniela Melchior (think Ana de Armas in "Knives Out"-level excellent), a CGI rodent and a CG human shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone. The only thing wrong with my "TSS" theatrical viewing is that I missed my chance to see Starro on an IMAX-sized screen. #FirstWorldProblems. :-)

    Last week benpeterson did not mince words about his dislike for the remake of CANDYMAN (2021, theater). I agree, but choose to mourn the fact this Jordan Peele-produced/co-scripted movie swung for the fences and struck out. If a young film lover watches this "Candyman" without exposure to the 29-year-old original they're likely to not be bothered by the "Total Recall 2012"-caliber worship of its predecessor's lore. The new "Candyman" does too good a job reminding those of us that have seen the '92 original of the latter's superior chops, especially its acting. I'm sorry, but except for Colman Domingo as Burke (who steals every scene he's in) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett's comic relief role, the main actors/protagonists here are forgettable. Director Nia DaCosta has great eye and visual flare (the "Midsommar"-inspired opening credits and the puppetry credits start/end the movie strong), but you can feel it pulling its punches rather than going for broke like the original did. Except for standout individual set-pieces (the art critic in her apartment), "Candyman '21" feels as unnecessary as it is redundant.

    NEXT (2007, HD-DVD, also streaming on Amazon Prime) is proof that director Lee Tamahori shat on Phillip K. Dick's bed as badly as he did 007's in "Die Another Day." I'd have to spoil the end of the movie to explain how bad it is, but you're better off seeing it (assuming Nic Cage's late aughts hairdo doesn't scare you away) even though it feels like the unholy union between an Alex Proyas film and a Jerry Bruckheimer production. Cage producing this flick is the only explanation (besides being an actual plot point) why Jessica Biel's character would ever sleep with Nic's Frank Cadillac weirdo. Thanks a lot, Mac! :'(

    Last and certainly least, Stephen Daldry's TOGETHER (2021, theater) is as pretentious and obnoxious as it is boring and dull. A British couple (James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan) spend the duration of the 2020-2021 COVID Pandemic (complete with on-screen dates and death tally) trying to convince us, the viewing audience (by breaking the fourth wall and talking to us as if we're with them in the couple of rooms the whole movie takes place in), of why they're on each other's throat. Boring as fuck and not worth the 90 min. time commitment.

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    1. "it feels like the unholy union between an Alex Proyas film and a Jerry Bruckheimer production".

      My curiosity has been piqued.

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    2. It's your (movie) funeral.๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜‰

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    3. I didn't think there was any way TOGETHER could be good. But the clips and interviews kept literally saying: we know this looks like it probably sucks but we promise it doesn't!

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    4. Meredith, you know how most movie fans always say 'I love _____ ______ so much l could watch him/her read the phone book and l'd be happy'? l used to feel like that about James McAvoy. And even though l still like his work in other movies and he's easily the best thing about "Together," by the end l wanted so bad for Magneto to knock on the door and make James and his lady friend eat all the dirt beneath their feet.๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ Thank you, AMC A-list, but that's literally 90 minutes of what's left of my short life l'm never getting back.๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ญ

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    5. I'm sorry you saw that. It actually looks like it could be bad for your mental health. Ah yes, I see, you have vomiting emojis. Yup. I blame this on...somehow it must be too easy to make crappy movies with crappy ideas nowadays.

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  3. Some things I've seen:

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
    Oh boy, how did I miss this one? I remember people saying it wasn't good, but I thought it was fantastic, and one of those movies I wanted to just restart when it ended. I really wish I had seen it in the theater. It's such a visual delight. David Sims aptly described it being like the Star Wars prequels, "except it knows how to have fun".

    After Adam's endorsement, I watched Cruella (2021) and wasn't disappointed. Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are just eating their roles up, and it's a well written mix of comedy, action and visual treats. The mostly 60-70's rock soundtrack is great too. It was perhaps the last thing I was considering seeing, and now it's in my top ten for the year.

    Also watched Electra Glide In Blue (1973). It's less an genre/action movie than the poster would suggest, and is instead a character study of a cop (Robert Blake) trying to do his best in a changing world (riding a big motorcycle on a bad road!). Set post "Summer of Love" and Vietnam, the plot only functions as a backdrop to the various characters who are all a bit damaged. The ending, and roll into credits is one of the best ever. This is the only movie the director made, but it was shot by multiple Academy winner Conrad Hall, and the movie (set in Arizona) is full of beautiful cinematography and landscapes. Recommended.

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  4. Good weekend to everyone. I did not get around to as many movies as I planned to, but there was at least a mix of things I saw.

    FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976) on Amazon Prime – Charles Bronson is the… romantic lead? In a comedy? He sure is. This film gets very far away from Bronson’s tough guy persona. If you can get on the goofy wavelength of From Noon Till Three, there is an entertaining experience to be had. Honestly, it did take me a bit of time to get on it. Bronson plays an outlaw who finds a way to get out of a bank robbery. He inadvertently becomes romantically involved with the woman who is supposed to be his hostage. What I most appreciated is the irony of the humor. This is by far the most pleasing pairing between Bronson and his wife, Jill Ireland, I have seen.

    ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BRIAN JONES (2020) on Amazon Prime – Relying mostly on interviews with people who knew Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, the documentary jumps around considerably. A picture does emerge of a man who had talent along with many issues that sidelined his career. The man fully lived his twenty-seven years of earthly existence. Was he murdered by thuggish people close to him? Many are convinced he was. If you enjoy learning about the 1960s British rock’n’roll scene, Rolling Stone should be a satisfying watch.

    TETSUO: THE IRON MAN (1989, dir. Shinya Tsukamoto) – My first dive into Arrow’s Solid Metal Nightmares box is Tsukamoto’s first feature. It definitely is a film that you have to be in a certain frame of mind to appreciate. A man and his girlfriend are changed into metal beings in an avant-garde assault of images and sound. As strange as Tetsuo is, most of the film has a cohesive feeling and features some dazzling editing. The choice of black-and-white film works well to create a surreal atmosphere. I also watched one of Tsukamoto's short films, which featured some of the ideas of Tetsuo but in a cruder form.

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    1. "Tetsuo: The Iron Man: Come for the garbage disposal metamorphosis body horror, stay for cybernetic femdom pegging!"

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    2. I watched Tetsuo on last year's Junesploitation and I genuinely didn't know whether I loved or hated it. Still don't. Now that you've reminded me, I'll have to add the sequel to my Scary Movie Month list and see what happens with that one.

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    3. I knew that thing was going somewhere, Casey. Mechanical phalluses play a bigger role than I expected in Tetsuo.

      Mikko, I know how you feel. I just surrendered my mind to the journey the film took me on. Tetsuo II is in the set; I will try to get to it soon. That one is in color.

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    4. From Noon Till Three is some pretty good Bronson. Shame he didn't get to make more movies like that.

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  5. Ofelas [AKA Pathfinder] (1987, dir. Nils Gaup)

    Norway’s entry for Best Foreign Film for the ‘87 Oscars, this is an old Sami folk legend reinterpreted as a revenge flick. When a teenager witnesses the murder of his family by foreign pillagers he flees to a neighboring village to help escape the marauders. He must use his wits, his bow and his skis to defeat the baddies on his tail. Filmed in Northern Norway, brilliant vistas of endless snow and panoramic skies light up nearly every scene. It’s beautiful, thrilling and simple. And at a snappy 75 minutes, it’s a satisfying watch.

    My unintentional Robert Loggia triple feature:

    The Ninth Configuration (1980, dir. William Peter Blatty)

    In WPB’s follow-up to The Exorcist, a picturebook castle stands in the Pacific Northwest, housing shellshocked and mentally disturbed soldiers from Vietnam. Stacy Keach as "Col. Kain" arrives as the new commanding officer, a psychiatrist with his own troubles. He’s going to try to cure them, with compassion and tolerance. What follows is Klinger from M*A*S*H on acid. In one scene Robert Loggia is in shoe polish blackface singing Al Jolson, in another orderlies chase a man flying through the hospital with a jetpack, and yet another an inmate is trying to direct a Shakespeare play with dogs. Then the back half of the film shifts into an intense meditation good, evil and redemption with Scott Wilson giving the performance of the century. There’s a single shot dream sequence that is a clear nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but does something unsettling and unique with it. I didn’t expect to so bowled over this movie, but I imagine that general audiences paying to see a new Exorcist would’ve walked out on it. My favorite new discovery of this year.

    Jagged Edge (1985, dir. Richard Marquand)

    A courtroom drama/thriller from the director of Return of the Jedi wherein Robert Loggia netted a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Jeff Bridges is a husband accused of the brutal murder of his heiress wife. Glenn Close is the attorney who is convinced, against her better judgment, to defend him at trial. The two begin an ill-advised romance and soon, Close begins receiving mysterious tips in the mail, sowing doubt about the case. Aside from some curveballs thrown at the audience to keep us guessing, what remains is the type of completely implausible movie trial clichรฉs we’ve seen a million times (the unethical DA, the surprise witness, the reversal of testimony and the damning 11th hour evidence). Loggia’s character is a drunk, ex-cop investigator who is Close’s friend and protector, and he’s… fine. Maybe this is just what “good” movies looked like in 1985, but I found it to be diverting but forgettable.


    Innocent Blood (1992, dir. John Landis)

    A vampire movie, mixed with mobsters and sprinkled with paranormal romance. Landis is doing half-comedy, half-monster movie and the result is really fun. O Loggia! He plays the aging mob boss Sal who, after being bit by a vampire, gets a new lease on life with his increased strength and vitality. Finally he can take out the Gambinos and the Jamaicans and take over Pittsburgh! He’s just so fucking great with his growling and maniacal laughing and slurping blood out of frozen steaks. The main story thread about an undercover cop (Anthony LaPaglia) falling in love with an irresistible female vampire (Anne Parillaud) plays out about how you’d expect. But, when you have Robert Loggia giving Mickey Rooney a loving hug before ripping out his throat, that’s pure cinema.

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    1. "Innocent Blood," inconsistent as it is (Anne Parillaud's thick accent and lack of English don't help), might be the last entertaining movie Landis directed. And Loggia's unrestrained performance is a big reason why. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘ "Jagged Edge" is just a dated product of its time, and "Ninth Configuration" is one l keep meaning to watch but never get around to. WTF is wrong with me??!! ๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜

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    2. I have intended to watch The Ninth Configuration for a few years. I even have the DVD sitting in my room. Just have not gotten to it yet.

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    3. Ofelas/Pathfinder sounds good. I'll check it out! Thanks.

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  6. Oh man, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is AWESOME.

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    1. I'm looking forward to see this one. I usually prefer to wait a few week and then catch a matinee for a quiet theater experience, and with Covid I'm even more inclined to do this.

      I don't know how long I'm going to wait before seeing Dune though. Maybe opening weekend Sunday matinee?

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  7. Never Say Never Again (1983)- on blu-ray, available to rent digitally but not free on any of the streaming services.

    Since we're (hopefully) a month out from new Bond and with SMM coming up quickly also, this is the time to start getting some Bond movies in. I was inspired to start with this one after a short interaction with Pomaro on Twitter while he was watching Thunderball. Since it's not an EON Bond and thus isn't in the complete set, it's one I don't usually think about putting on when I'm in the mood for Bond.

    I'm not going to make a case for this being a good movie. There's a number of problems here from it's department store music theme song, to the female villain getting dispatched because she insists on Bond putting it in writing that she was the best sex he ever had. Her insecurity in that regard actually gets her exploded. What NSNA does have though, first and foremost is Connery, followed by a pretty cool supporting cast including Basinger, Max von Sydow, Bernie Casey, Rowan Atkinson, Pat Roach, and Barbara Carrera.

    I especially like Klaus Maria Brandauer as unhinged villain Max Largo. I don't know exactly what he means when he says "Sweet, like money" after squirting some water out of his mouth but he clearly believes it makes sense which makes me believe it. Max, you electric-shock video game inventing madman, the more you seemed to acknowledge your own insanity, the more I liked you. Sadly I've only seen a couple other movies with Brandauer in them. As an Austrian actor, most of his filmography sounds so German that if I were to start reading it out loud I'd be drawing some side-eye from people.

    It's disjointed sure. It's maybe not as pervy as Moore Bond, but Basinger is put in enough see-through outfits that it still feels pretty sleazy (this is a PG movie). The underwater bit is maybe a bit of an anti-climax. There's no J.W. Pepper, slide-whistle sound effects, or women named Chew Mee though, so it's at least a little step up from the worst Bond movies.

    I guess maybe more than anything, just the circumstances that allow the movie to even get made make it an interesting curiosity. The last wink at the end as the movie goes to credits practically oozes "Fuck you Cubby! - Love, Sean Connery". "Because fuck you, that's why we're doing it!" seems to be so much of this movie's raison d'etre, that Spite should get a producer credit on it.

    To sum up, I give it a 5 out of 10.

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    1. I saw "NSNA" in theaters at age 10, same year as "Moonraker." l grew up with Uncle Roger as my 007, so naturally the latter was the coolest thing ever while the former was a boring 'meh.' I still hold a special place in my heart for "Moonraker" bending over backwatds to entertain me (John Glen directs the shit out of the action set-pieces), and the movie benefits from the Broccoli clan throwing the weight of EON Productions around to stick it to Connery for daring to come back.

      All that said, as an adult l appreciate and enjoy "NSNA" a lot more than l ever did before. Connery is visibly having more fun playing the role than in his post-"Goldfinger" 007 films, and not even Irwin Kirshner's stodgy, old-fashioned direction (no doubt hampered by copyright lawyers vetting the script) can stop a handful of set-pieces (tbe videogame duel, 'Your room or mine', seeing Von Sydow-as-Blofeld rather than just his cat on-camera, etc.) from being hilarious in a 'dick measuring contest' British way.

      The more you know about their history the more fun it is to watch the '83 James Bond movies as a double feature. Sure beats the sleep-inducing prospect of seeing "Thunderball" and "NSNA" back-to-back.๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿฅถ Check the Joblo 'James Bond Revisited' videos on YouTube for more fun fun background on these two flicks. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ‘

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    2. I feel the same way about Moonraker! "Uncle Roger" LOL - but it's true!

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    3. I do have a soft sport for Moonraker. Unfortunately, Octopussy was the '83 Moore Bond movie, and that might be my least favorite Bond out of all of them. There are some not great Bond flicks but Octopussy I think might be the only one that commits the sin of just being utterly boring.

      We'll see how No Time to Die turns out but I think it might end up making for an interesting triple feature with NSNA and For Your Eyes Only. You've got Bond's around the same age roughly (at the times they were filmed, Craig I think was 51, Connery was 52 and Moore was 53). We've got Connery stepping back into the role for the final time after previously walking away twice, Craig presumably leaving the role for good, and Moore, whose run might be looked on a lot more favorably if he had gone out with this movie instead of going on to do Octopussy and View to a Kill.

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  8. Rewatched the MAD MAX franchise. The first is a reverse Western, where instead of a lone lawman bringing law to the lawless land, the land is instead getting more and more lawless around him. MAD MAX 2 is fascinating in how it defined what everyone thinks of as post-apocalypse. BEYOND THUNDERDOME drags a little in the middle act, but it's bookended by so much cool stuff I didn't mind. And FURY ROAD remains an all-timer.

    TANK GIRL (1995) is a baffling and incomplete-feeling movie, but it's also a lot of fun if you're willing to go along with it, musical numbers and all.

    THE WIZARD (1989) Another baffling nonsense movie, but at least I get all the memes now.

    STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (1996) "The line must be drawn hee-AH!"

    NEXT (2007) I know Nicolas Cage is a sacred cow around these parts, but this movie is a real clunker. I hoped revisiting it would be cheesy fun, but alas.

    And of course I saw SHANG-CHI. It's more epic fantasy rather than old-school martial arts, so the fights are flashy rather than brutal. But that's all right. Some of the humor was forced, but Simu Liu, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Leung bring a lot of earnestness to the movie. So, yeah, some nitpicks but fun movie overall.

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  9. Reminescence:
    this movie is deeply flawed. It had pacing issues and the voice over was a bit much at times. It also has strong Strange Days vibes but in a sanitized way. But I love Private Investigator films and Noir. And I loved the resolution. It surprised me and moved me for a lot of personal reasons. I won't go further into this for fear of spoiling it.

    Don't Breathe 2:
    Lean and mean but so much fun. It felt lije an old exploitation movie.
    I had a blast.

    Malignant (which is already out here in France):
    Mindboggling batshit crazy fun.
    I have no idea how this was greenlighted. I am not sure it's a good movie per se. But it was so bonkers that I had a big smile on my face the whole time. The actors are not very good, but some of the shots are just glorious. It remindes me of an old 80s crazy horror movie, like Shocker for example. The story and the twists are really something else. It must be seen to be believed. You can feel James Wan had a lot of fun with this one,but I don't know if it will be for everybody.

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