Saturday, September 25, 2021

Weekend Open Thread

52 comments:

  1. Our final 'Weekend Open Thread' for a while, since next Saturday we'll be on day 2 of Scary Movie Month 7-word reviews. Gotta cram as many non-horror reviews this weekend or forever hold my peace! :-)

    DEAR EVAN HANSEN (2021, AMC Dolby) is such an earnest and irony-free adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical it almost becomes unintentional parody, especially Ben Platt's meant-to-be-off-putting titular character. Credit to director Stephen Chbosky ("Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Wonder"), editor Anne McCabe, veteran actors (Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Danny Pino) and likable young performers (Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, etc.) for making their stock musical characters likable enough, whether singing or moping about their misery. Shame the songs are either terrific ('Sincerely, Me' montage = fun!) or undermined by overdone-to-death popular trends ('You Will Be Found' leading to a viral social media montage... barf!), with most of the musical interludes feeling inappropriate for the domestic setting they're performed in. Better than "In the Heights," but not by much. :-( Can Spielberg's "West Side Story" remake buck 2021's downward trend for Broadway musicals at the movies?

    Even though I own the 4K Ultra-BD of Mamoru Oshii's GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995) I couldn't pass the chance to catch the remastered Japanese-with-English-subtitles version on AMC IMAX this past week. Just hearing Kenji Kawai's amazing music score with IMAX speakers was worth the trip, but "GOTS" continues to make the economy of its complicated-yet-simple story, futuristic setting and well-defined characters endlessly rewatchable. It's such a good sci-fi/action movie I own its 2004 sequel on BD because of the residual affection for BatΓ΄ and his relationship-as-equals with Motoko, not its actual story/plot (or the dated CG effects it relies on). Lionsgate's 4K UHD's cheap, so buy it if this AMC IMAX engagement is beyond your reach.

    Director Michael Showalter ("Wet Hot American Summer") moves up the Hollywood directorial ladder by helming this Oscar bait vehicle for star/producer Jessica Chastain. THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE (2021, theater) asks us to sympathize with a flawed-but-likable-enough character that hitches her God-loving wagon onto young Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), who is in over his head trying to swim against the homosexual-hating religious leaders he courts to help him save his crumbling TV empire. As good as Chastain is playing a spotlight-loving wife of a famous TV evangelist (every scene of her hosting the PTL show in the 70's and 80's is spot-on), Vincent D'Onofrio steals the movie as shark-in-sheep's-clothing Jerry Falwell. Very uneven biopic (the Bakker's two children literally disappear for most of the narrative without explanation), but the finale has more energy, heart and subversive creativity than every musical number in "Dear Evan Hansen." :-O

    Dan O'Bannon's THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985, Scream! Factory Blu-ray), like the aforementioned "Ghost in the Shell," is so good at paying off every little set-up (the meant-to-bore-on-purpose, pre-credits sequence is exposition-dump done right) you forget about how badly the filmmakers (including the no-good producer of the original "Night of the Living Dead") could have fumbled the ball. Since Trash (Linnea Quigley) and Scuz (Brian Peck) are such standout punks, I always forget Miguel A. NΓΊΓ±ez Jr. is even in the cast until he's among the final survivors. Ditto for Thom Mathews, who is so different here than in "Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives!" a year later. Most important for a mid-80's horror flick aimed at young people, the three main leads (Clu Gulager, James Karen and Don Calfa) are middle-aged actors who just happen to be the best-developed characters constantly propelling the action forward. Winnah! :-D

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    1. Ghost in the Shell on Imax!?! Color me jealous!

      FYI: in my recent deep dive into Obannon i tripped across the "More Brains" documentary on Return of the Living Dead. Its on youtube. Its a tad long but a really good documentary on an all time fav Horror/Comedy. "Send....more...paramedics"

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    2. Thanks for the "More Brains" doc suggestion. Might make for a great palette cleanser during Scary Movie Month. :-)

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    3. Scary Movie Month! wooo hoo!! Sooooooooooooooo stoked.

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    KILLIAN & THE COMEBACK KIDS (2021, theater) might as well be called 'The Taylor A. Purdee Show.' Taylor wrote, directed, composed 90% of the music and also stars as a young 20-something college graduate musician that's stuck in his rural Pennsylvania hometown when his never-seen musician partner sells out their touring concert plans for an easy corporate paycheck. After hooking up with introvert townie Sam (Seth Green-lookalike John Donchak), Killian tries to form a folk rock band so they can enter a music festival and be noticed. It's rural PA "American Idol" for a brief montage, and then the low-budget flick (which occasionally has some truly bad editing/stock footage inserts) settles on a melancholic/uplifting tone that leads to a satisfying (though not necessarily happy) conclusion. Killian, his too-understanding family (including Purdee's real-life father) and his bandmembers (whom you get to know well) are likable enough, and despite being 137 minutes long (the fuck!?) the Duplass Bros.-style, low-vibe sincerity is most welcomed in the current age of cynical cinema. 'It's fine,' but I honestly can't tell you whether the folk rock Killian plays is any good or not.

    Talk about getting burned by my AMC A-List! I walked into SHOW ME THE FATHER (2021, theater) thinking it was some type of documentary about fatherhood and/or fathers. Turns out it's a hardcore religious documentary (father = GOD) by the Sherwood Foundation filmmakers of Christian-faith flicks like "War Room," "Fireproof," etc. As an Atheist I seriously contemplated going over theaters on the same floor showing "The Card Counter" or some Bollywood flick, but I stuck with my shitty choice. Despite having a genuinely interesting twist about the football athletes it depicts (half the testimonials are from former NFL/college football black players), the second half descends into the Kendrick Brothers hardcore preaching the virtues of accepting God as the absent father any orphan would ever need. All I could think as one talking head after another (all of them men) preached about the need for fathers in a young man's life was 'What about the mothers? Don't mothers matter as much or more than fathers?' Not according to this doc not even attempting to fake acceptance of women as anything other than supporting players to the patriarchy. Strictly for Christian audiences willing to be pandered to big time. :'(

    More reviews to come this weekend, because October is a-coming. :-P

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  3. Hi fam! Hope everyone's doing well this weekend!

    I returned home a few days ago from the Helsinki International Film Festival after 19 movies in theaters across six days. Most of the movies I saw there were really good. A few highlights:

    Pleasure is a great drama following a young Swedish woman trying to make it in the porn industy in California. Ninja Thyberg, the director, did massive amounts of research and collaborated with insiders to paint an accurate picture of the industry, and the picture it paints isn't pretty (but not overly bleak either). I'm finding it impossible to believe the lead actor, Sofia Kappel, had no acting experience before this. She's amazing!

    The Man Who Sold His Skin is part refugee story, part satire about modern art, and part romance. A Syrian refugee finds a way out when a world-famous artist gets him a visa to Europe. In exchange, he must let the artist tattoo his back and sit on display in an art gallery. It's both tear-jerky and hilarious at times, and a really good time.

    I'm Your Man is a German film about a woman who gets the job of field testing a robot designed to be the perfect partner. It's a good mix of gentle comedy and deep sci-fi concepts. Can a robot have emotions? Is "perfection" really what we want in a partner? That sort of thing.

    Superior was a weird one. At first I thought it was cheaply made, clumsy and over-acted trash whose story just happens to be set in the 80's. But as the movie went on, I started wondering if it was in fact a carefully and artistically made reconstruction of 80's cheaply made, clumsy and over-acted trash. That thought totally kept me entertained for the duration.

    And of course Pig and Zola are both excellent, but they've been talked about enough.

    The one non-fest movie I saw was Dune, which was released here last week. It's a huge epic that looks and sounds amazing, and with quality actors across the board. But it's half a movie, and ultimately unsatisfying without the second part. Hope Villeneuve gets to make it!

    So anyway, who's ready for Scary Movie Month? I've been compiling a list for a while now, and it got way too long. So I have a short list of stuff I really want to get to during the month, and a huge list that I'm gonna pick randomly from. I guess we'll see how that goes. Oh, and No Time to Die comes out here next Thursday, perfect timing so I can see it before October starts!

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    1. Yo Mikko! Thanks for all the great reviews. Its wonderful to get feedback from an international film festival. Always good to find new and different suggestions.

      AHHHH! You get to see Bond thursday! Im so stoked for that one. Have fun and i look forward to your thoughts on it!

      Peace .n. Movies!

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    2. Man, no fair! Why can't we Americans get "Dune" and "Bond" in theaters at the same time as the rest of the world? We're #1... at COVID vaccine rejection. :'(

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  4. Old (2021, dir. M. Night Shyamalan)

    Since I knew the premise beforehand, after the initial character introductions (done in the most embarrassingly expository manner possible) I sat through most of the film waiting for the growing old to start. I’m not the first to say it, but I wish M. Night would dispense with the need for “twists” and just go straight-up horror. The third act reveal didn’t elicit a gasp, but more of a snort. I think I may be tapped out on M. Night films.

    The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988, dir. Ermanno Olmi)[BluRay disc from the library, seriously, check your local library!]

    A spectacular performance from Rutger Hauer as the titular drunk; Hauer is given 200 francs from a stranger on the condition that he repays the money as a tithe to a Parisian church. Over the next few weeks he continues to fall into fortuitous situations improving his destitute life, but the gravity well of alcohol prevents him making good his promise. It’s an intense character study that mixes his memories of the past with the events of his present and so much of the character is presented through extreme closeups of Hauer’s face… and the performance is second-to-none. Definitely a meditative piece, without a lot of plot. Outside of Blade Runner, Wanted: Dead or Alive and Split Second, I haven’t seen many Hauer performances and none of them compare to the teleportation of time and space he does with his body. Beautifully shot by Dante Spinotti (my favorite cinematographer), he makes the streets, gutters and bridges glow with the patina of magical realism. Absolutely brilliant!

    The Night of the Running Man (1995, dir. Mark L. Lester)

    I liked it better when it was called No Country for Old Men. But, then again, John Glover delivers as a bonkers sociopathic hitman. The score by Christopher Franke is utterly dismal, giving it a TV movie vibe for a film that’s otherwise shot and constructed with silver screen ambitions. But the uninspired plot and the many, many missed opportunities to make the characters more three dimensional tank the film. Las Vegas may be a cinematic city, but the story can’t find a way to match that grandeur.

    Beckett (2021, dir. Ferdinando Cito Filomarino)

    This century’s answer to 3 Days of the Condor, everyman John David Washington is vacationing with ladylove Alicia Vikander and stumbles into a deep state kidnapping plot, then literally stumbles his way through the rest of the movie. Washington gets shot, stabbed and concussed and keeps on ambling across the Greek countryside all the while slipping, lurching and stumbling in every scene. He’s not an invincible superhero, he takes a lot of hits and keeps going. Fairly formulaic, I knew where it was headed and only small surprises popped up here and there. It continues the Netflix formula of 2.5/5 star action movies with recognizable stars that fizzle out in the story department. But, I really like Washington. Between this and Tenet, I want to see more JDW-lead action flicks… maybe a team-up with Michael B. Jordan.

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    1. Are we really surprised Denzel Washington's son is living up to his King Kong-sized poppa's reputation? ;-)

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  5. Hello everyone! Last week I got around to seeing Che (2008) which I had dangling in the top of my watchlist for a year or 2 now. The long 257 minute running time and Spanish language kept me putting it off, but once I dived in it was "great". I really liked how it skipped over much of the overarching details of the revolution and just stuck with the man himself. Also, they're just struggling through the jungle for a great deal of the runtime, and there's nothing more I love than a jungle movie.

    I was recently reflecting on how poor I am at writing about movies. Most writing I do is scientific in nature, where brevity is encouraged and it's purposely factual. I really find it hard to not resort to "It was really fun", "it's great", etc. It's like I only have 5 adjectives which I lean heavily on, and can't get past that.

    Which is fine. It doesn't take anything away from my enjoyment of the films. But I'm always in admiration of those that can write well, like many of the contributors to Fthismovie! Long way of saying, you should read Ebert's review of Che, because it perfectly encapsulated what I loved about it.

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    1. Also, referring back to this weeks Fthismovie episode, I think Steven Soderbergh might be one of my favourite directors. I haven't seen much of his work (I mean, who has. There's so much), but all the ones I've seen hit so hard. I've heard people criticize him for doing his own lighting on his recent stuff, but I think he's fantastic. Throughout Che I was constantly amazed at how he was taking scenes with fairly pedestrian conversations and framing (from a cinematography pov) in a interesting way.

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    2. Soderbergh is like Tarantino-levels talented, but more proficient and able to constantly criss-cross the bridge between mainstream ("Ocean's" trilogy, "Erin Brokovich") and self-indulgent ("Bubble," "Full Frontal"). Personal favorites: "The Knick" (20-episode Cinemax TV series with Clive Owen at his peak), "Side Effects," "Out of Sight," "Haywire" and "Logan Lucky" (the beginning of the 'Daniel Craig can be funny' train). Good luck fishing in Soderbergh's lake of projects, Paul. Lots of fish for you to pick. :-D

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    3. Thanks for the recommendations! I haven't seen any of those, the exception being Logan Lucky. I'm astounded it didn't do better with mainstream audiences. I'm a little ashamed claiming Soderberg is one of my favourites, when I've seen so little of his work. But there's just so much! Which is a good thing, because I have much to delve into.

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  6. Definitely my busiest week of movie watching for a while. With so many things on Turner Classic Movies I wanted to get to this week and a DVR that is getting full, I pushed myself to watch as much as I could. Though most of the movies were not great, I always have a good time digging deeper into the world of cinema. There was also a full night at the Mahoning Drive-In.

    TETSUO II: BODY HAMMER (1992, dir. Shinya Tsukamoto) on Blu-ray – The follow-up to Tetsuo: The Iron Man is not quite the assault on the senses the first film is. That in no way means Tetsuo II lacks weirdness. Characters still transform into metallic beings, and the imagery has you wondering what is going on. There is more of a story to Body Hammer. Tetsuo is a father whose son is being targeted for kidnapping. The emphasis is more on action and science fiction than horror as Tetsuo pursues his tormentors. Filmed in color and using a lot of location shooting, Body Hammer is also an aesthetically different experience than the first film.

    RIDING SHOTGUN (1954) – Randolph Scott stars in this western with a script that sometimes seems randomly thrown together. On the hunt for an outlaw, Scott’s character unexpectedly gets caught up in the outlaw’s schemes. Much confusion ensues in a western town before the story is neatly wrapped up. The film entertains in an unpretentious way, and a bonus is Charles Bronson in a substantial supporting role. My one big complaint is the redundant voice-over.

    THE LAST RUN (1971, dir. Richard Fleischer) – While the premise is intriguing, it is George C. Scott’s performance that drew me into the film. Harry, Scott’s character, is hired to drive an escaped convict out of Spain, but he gets in over his head when the situation is more complicated than expected. It is a meandering story, but I was happy to go along for the ride.

    THE SUPER COPS (1974, dir. Gordon Parks) – An uneven film about the exploits of two New York policemen going out into the streets either to arrest the bad guys or to create reputations. They seem to do both in equal measure. There is some element missing that would elevate The Super Cops to being a memorable 1970s police film. As it is, Gordon Parks, the director of Shaft, created some exciting action sequences in between the requisite cop interactions about laws and proper procedures. More of a completist watch for fans of these kind of films.

    KANSAS CITY BOMBER (1972) – Another week, another roller derby film. Raquel Welch stars as a roller derby star who struggles to adjust after being traded to a new team. While this is the classier film, I find Unholy Rollers a lot more fun because it is fundamentally an exploitation film. Kansas City Bomber, while having similar plot elements, is primarily a drama. It is a bit of downer, too. Though she was never the most expressive actress, Raquel Welch brought more than enough emotion to her performance to keep me watching.

    BERLIN: SYMPHONY OF A GREAT CITY (1927) – A terrific cinematic portrait of a city from an era that produced several notable city documentaries. (Man With A Movie Camera is the pre-eminent example.) The 1920s was a very dynamic period of cinematic innovation. There is a strong of element of experimentation in BERLIN, particularly regarding the editing. With the destruction of this Berlin less than twenty years later during World War II, the film has an additional poignancy.

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    1. Thanks, I should watch that movie about Berlin. There is much to dislike (probably should use a stronger word) about WW2, but the destruction of much of the architecture of Europe was unfortunate. I would love to see the city pre-war time. Thanks for the recommendation.

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    2. The film is definitely an experience of looking back in time.

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  7. I really love the movie The Peacemaker (1997), which I was reminded of during the UN General Assembly this week. That movie makes the street traffic caused by police blocking off all the side roads going to the UN look pretty tame. I generally have a hard time getting into action movies but somehow this one checks off allll the boxes for me. What is it? Woman director? Smartypants Nicole Kidman? Sexy sad bad guy? UN-themed? Work-place chemistry btw the leads? It even makes me love the bomb scene, the fighting scenes, the chase scenes. Is this an "action-lite" film? Maybe I'm an action-lite person. πŸ’πŸ»‍♀️ But anyway, it's good. :)

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    1. Clarification...in the movie the traffic is tame. In real life it's a disaster zone. ☺️

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    2. I also like Mrs. Winterbourne :) Wasn't that movie fun? :)

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  8. Mahoning Drive-In: For the first full night of the annual Weekend of Terror, I saw the original The Hills Have Eyes, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Poor Pretty Eddie. HILLS played a lot better than my first watch, but there are still aspects of it that take me out of the film. The other two were first watches. Though it is undeniably a good film, HENRY can be a dreary experience. Michael Rooker portrays the protagonist too well at certain moments. As for EDDIE, this is classic bonkers exploitation. The film gets weirder and weirder as it goes on. The combination of blaxploitation and hicksploitation was not common. As an encore for those staying overnight, the 1985 The Hills Have Eyes sequel was put on. I stuck around but found it not worth delaying my trip home for. 1980s horror not done right at all.

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  9. I previously rewatched Never Say Never Again to help get in the mood for new Bond, and while I initially planned to watch some more Bond movies, I decided to go in a bit of a different direction and watch some non-Bond movies from Bond actors.

    Possessed (2000) - Amazon Prime

    T-Dalts has a lot of fun supporting roles in stuff like Hot Fuzz, Flash Gordon, and the Rocketeer but it was hard finding him in a starring role in something that was readily available and looked interesting (this would turn out to be a common theme here). Possessed is an exorcism movie based (presumably loosely) on a "real" case with Dalton starring as the WWII PTSD-suffering Fr. Willam Bowdern who ends up having to perform an exorcism of a young boy showing all the familiar symptoms of Demonic possession. Largely unremarkable, but Dalton does what he can with the material and is the bright spot of the movie. I'd say it's trying to be a more realistic Exorcist, but that just means it's a lot more dull and still not actually realistic.


    The Man From Hong Kong (1975) - Digital rental

    Lazenby shows up as the villain in this Australian/Hong Kong coproduction starring Jimmy Wang Yu. When my boy Sammo Hung showed up in a small role as a bad guy at the beginning of the movie, that was all it needed to get me on its side. Lazenby would maybe feel out of place here if not for the fact that everything here feels slightly out of place, so much so that I can't help but love it.

    The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970) - Kanopy

    Roger Moore stars here as an upright businessman who, following a car accident, may have a duplicate of himself also living his life. His friends mention seeing him at times and places when he was somewhere else. A strange woman seems to recognize him. The double may even possibly be showing up to his job when he isn't around. It's an interesting premise although a lot of it gets bogged down in a corporate espionage subplot which of course ties into the main plot by the end but frequently seems to grind the film to a halt. Overall not entirely successful but the mystery carried it through for me.

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    1. I've been toying with the idea of a six-movie marathon of new-to-me stuff, one from each Bond actor, and your post just inspired me to check out what I have easy access to. I just bought Outland on Blu-ray, so that would be a lock. Also bought The Lion in Winter, but that's too long for a marathon. Slim pickings for Dalton, but The Tourist is on Netflix, so probably that. Never Too Young to Die for Lazenby and The Misfits for Brosnan. Haven't seen Logan Lucky, so would probably include that for Craig. And there's a 60's Moore sword-and-sandal movie called Romulus and the Sabines on a cheap 50-movie DVD pack I own. I just might do it after Scary Movie Month.

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    2. Mikko, check out Kino Lorber's website. Lots of Roger Moore titles there ("Gold," "The Man Who Haunted Himself," etc.), and you can then check out which of these titles are available for streaming (if any) on your region.

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    3. Thanks for the tip, JM, but I already went through the options on justwatch.com and came up with very little. Basically nothing on the usual streaming services, and very few options for rentals. The streaming options in Finland are extremely limited compared to the US (so hopefully you'll forgive us for getting the odd blockbuster a little ahead of you from time to time...).

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    4. Your old movie selections for streaming are no good in Finland, so you want dibs on our premiere blockbuster debuts? Why you, I ought to... :-D

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    5. For Moore I almost went with The Fiction-Makers, which is a two-parter of The Saint combined into a "movie", since it was free on Shout Factory TV here in the US. I saw the listing for Romulus and the Sabines on IMDB though and that certainly seems like it could be an interesting choice.

      Dalton absolutely seems to be the hardest one. My backup option was The Beautician and the Beast.

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  10. Anyone ever been to Sitges? If yes, can you tell me, if the movies there are shown with English subtitles (I guess they are not dubbed, too?)?

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    2. Ah, this comment makes me happy :D I've been going every year (except last year, obviously) for 10 years, all non-English speaking movies (not sure if that's a proper term, but hopefully you get what I mean) have English subtitles!

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    3. I'd like to use this opportunity to encourage everyone to come at least once, the city is beautiful, the atmosphere is fantastic, Spanish audiences are the best, the guests are prestigious (to stay with this week's theme, we had Nicolas Cage in 2018 for Mandy), all in all a terrific fest, which has a great nightlife too if you feel like partying (the guests sure do). I should mention, all the venues are "open" to everyone, unlike some places like Cannes, so you can pretty much drink your caffe latte near Dario Argento, unexpectedly bump into Pam Grier or have your breakfast sitting accross Elijah Wood. Many, many stories to tell from 10 years of Sitges. Last but not least: nudist beaches!

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    4. Bumping shoulders with visiting showbiz celebs = meh.

      Partying the night away with tourists = yawn.

      Boobies near sea water = booking my ticket!!!πŸ€©πŸ˜›

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    5. Thank you so much for your response! So you're there this year, too? I'm pretty sure that I'll bring my FThisMovie-Shirt there, so you might spot me. ;) I booked my tickets, flights and the hotel already. Can't wait to see Titane, mad God, One Night in Soho, Halloween Kills and so many more.

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    6. Have fun, Derk! Man, if I won the lottery and had no other obligations, I'd spend a few years just flying across the world and attending as many film festivals as humanly possible.

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    7. Thank you, Mikko! I'll probably post some of my impressions in the comment section or on Twitter.

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  11. As promised, another batch of recently-watched movies fast-tracked to this weekend because next weekend we're deep into the F This Movie Scary Movie Month commentary track for "Malignant." ;-)

    Humanoid robots manufactured by a German conglomerate to a person's particular tastes are ready for real-world evaluation from human test subjects that need to spend three weeks living with it. That's the premise of I'M YOUR MAN (2021, theater), a romantic drama directed by German actress-turned-director Maria Schrader (2007's "Love Life") that brings a welcomed female perspective that goes deeper, funnier and more nuanced than Alex Garland's "Ex-Machina." Dan Stevens ("Downton Abbey," "The Guest") plays 'Tom' as if he was Christian Bale channeling a smoother version of Gigolo Joe from Spielberg's "A.I." It's a pitch-perfect performance that's bested by Virginia Madsen-lookalike Maren Eggert as Alma, a lonely middle-aged intellectual whose attempts to rationalize her growing attachment to 'Tom' fuel resentment toward herself and the would-be sex bot. Highly recommended, a foreign arthouse hidden gem that doesn't forget to have fun with its premise.

    Clint Eastwood's CRY MACHO (2021, HBO Max) is a curious entry into the family-friendly, vulnerable-Clint subgenre of the man's filmography ("Honkytonk Man," the "Every Which Way" movies, etc.). Set in 1979-1980, it borrows the plot from 2019's "Rambo: Last Blood" (bring a young person back to America through the Mexican border by any means necessary) and the introspective vibe from "Unforgiven" (a once-famous rodeo cowboy reminiscing about what he's lost to end up where he's at) to fuel a leisurely-paced, too-genteel road movie that starts running on fumes long before the halfway mark. Eduardo Minett's Rafo is an even more annoying twat than Ben Platt in "Dear Evan Hansen" (I know!), and he's in almost every scene with Eastwood when they're both outshined by a charismatic rooster. 'It's fine,' but "Cry Macho" supports Quentin Tarantino's argument about underwhelming features from once-great directors at the end of their careers. :-(

    KATE (Netflix, 2021) is the glossy action remake of 1949's "D.O.A." we didn't ask for, but we got because Netflix has a weekly quota. Trafficking on the overdone-to-death tropes of a female assassin (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) under the tutelage of a father-figure handler (Woody Harrelson) going on a one-woman rampage, "Kate" at least boasts the on-location back alleys, skyscrapers and 'kawaii' motifs of contemporary Tokyo as its colorful background. There's a much better 'yakuza' film happening in the background of "Kate's" revenge fantasy (the katana duel between Tadanobu Asano and Jun Kunimura is short-lived but awesome), but what we get here (including Woody trying and failing to top Gary Oldman's signature scream from "LΓ©on: The Professional") isn't bad. It's just more of the same, now in Dolby Vision. Yawn.

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  12. [CONTINUED FROM ABOVE]

    Like A Casual Listener earlier, I too went to town with TCM features saved on the DVR. By far the best of the bunch was Michael Tuchner's VILLAIN (1971, TCM Underground), a British crime drama with a passing resemblance to Raoul Walsh's 1949 opus "White Heat." Vic Dakin (a lean-and-mean Richard Burton) is the type of likes-to-get-his-hands-dirty crime boss that coppers like Inspector Matthews (Nigel Davenport) work extra hard to bring down. Tipped of a lucrative heist chance, Vic assembles a crew and plans the heist while taking care of his dear old mummy and/or bossing around his pimp/gigolo lover (Ian McShane in an early standout role). A 'B' crime pic elevated to 'A' status by its talented cast, "Villain" is also a great time capsule of Great Britain during the cultural, fashion and financial black hole that were the early 70's. Worth seeing if you can tolerate the deplorable way every woman who isn't Richard Burton's dear old mom are treated by every man, particularly McShane's girls. :-O

    Also from TCM Underground, Albert Pyun's BLOODMATCH (1991) is a cheap-as-fuck but entertaining direct-to-video flick that at least has a twist ending worthy of WWE soap opera theatrics. Brick Bardo (a buff Thom Mathews from "Return of the Living Dead") wants revenge on the martial arts fighters that betrayed and killed his brother Wood five years prior. So he kidnaps them so they can fight Brick to the death one at a time, or reveal their involvement before dying. Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez choreographed the fights and plays the most sympathetic of the kidnapped fighters. Tom Mathews is clearly the better actor of the group, selling his revenge anger better when his opponents (like Playboy Playmate Hope Marie Carlton) are also not professional fighters. You can tell this is an Albert Pyun joint because every single punch/kick are seen from two or three quick-cut angles to barely get "Bloodmatch" to 86 minutes. Worth a YouTube search. ;-)

    Last and certainly least (though it was still entertaining in a grindhouse level), Gordon Parks' THE SUPER COPS (1974, TCM Underground) opens with a local TV news clip of the real NYPD police detectives (who also appear in the movie as different cops) being commended for cleaning the streets. Basically "The Super Cops'" narrative is a build-up to a re-enactment of that clip (with Pat Hingle as a foul-mouthed Commissioner Gordon 1.0) that's meant to make the original TV footage seem ironic. It's a very episodic and repetitive cop flick, but one done with the energy of "Shaft" that feels like a building block for the buddy cop movie genre as we know it. Ron Leibman and David Selby are clearly having fun playing loose canons, but your mileage may vary about seeing cops breaking the rules to nab the (mostly black) bad guys. Worth seeing just for that New York in the 70's on-location atmosphere no computer background has yet matched.

    See you next weekend for the Scary Movie Month festivities. :-D

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    1. I caught a little of Bloodmatch when it aired, J.M. That cheap straight-to-video look was more than a little off-putting in the context of the weak story. There was not much to look at when the action slowed down. I still do not know what to think of that ending.

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    2. Unlike most Pyun movies l've seen, "Bloodmatch" is at least watchable and beginning-to-end coherent. It's not "Vicious Lips"-level incomprehensible or "Cyborg"-caliber cheese. I really dug Tom Mathews playing Bardo like a cocky animal, even though in real life Benny Urquidez would have snapped Mathews in half.😁 A Junesploitation must-see.πŸ™‚πŸ‘

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  13. I watched a bunch of movies today:

    Prisoners of the Ghostland didn't really resonate with me. Too much weird for weirds sake

    Das Boot Directer's cut. A classic and a movie I rewatch at least once per year. It's so good. From the party scene in the beginning to the ping ping ping intense scenes under the water. So good. I love love love it.

    All Is Lost following my out at sea theme. It's my 2nd time seeing this and it's just as good. Loved it.

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    1. I enjoy how Das Boot makes the viewer feel like being one of the crew. The discomfort of daily life on a submarine is palpable. The lack of personal hygiene options is the most horrifying part to me. When the depth charge attacks come, I find it hard to even imagine the experience of thinking about drowning in a metal tube. That was the fate of the bulk of German submariners during WWII.

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    2. "Das Boot" is near the top of my list of shame.😰πŸ˜ͺ

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    3. I have yet to see a bad submarine movie, but Das Boot is definitely the best of them

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    4. @Casual Listener. Yes , one of the most moving parts is where they're listening to a ship they just torpedoed sink down and they're all shaken because it's their greatest fear of happening to themselves.

      Mr. Vargas, definitely a "shame" you should correct. Make sure you watch the 3.5h director cut. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it.

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    5. Gotta wait until after October for my future "Das Boot" impressions. SMM 7-word review becons.😁

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  14. Agree with you on "Prisoners of the Ghostland." Great director, a decent-sized budget, good premise and great supporting actors surrounding Nic Cage amount to... close to nothing remarkable, fun or even absurdly enjoyable.πŸ˜•πŸ˜“ Oh well, at least Patrick liked it. Good for him.😎

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    1. There's nothing I love more than someone who is all in with a director or actor. It's wonderful to witness. But I just can't with this one. I went in with my mind as open as possible...and I just can't.

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    2. Feeling the same here. I really loved "Why Don't You Play in Hell," but something didn't gel here. And just when I had a good run of new Cage movies to try and prove to my friends that there is more to Nic Cage than "Meme Cage"...

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  15. Oh, for F's sake - "Midnight Mass" is so boring till the 5th episode and then to make it worse it's an F-ing vampire story. Ughhhhhhhh.....

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    1. Can't wait to read your Scary Movie Month 7-word review for this one.πŸ˜‰πŸ˜ƒ

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