Saturday, November 27, 2021

Weekend Open Thread

24 comments:

J.M. Vargas said...

Hope everyone in America had a Happy Turkey Day (or as they call it everywhere else, Thursday). :-)

Rarely do I ever see a movie so bad that it not only depresses me but makes me question my hobby. RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY (2021, theater) nearly broke me, surprising because writer/director Johannes Roberts has delivered good work before ("47 Meters Down," "The Strangers: Prey at Night"). The marrying of the plots/characters/settings from the first two "RE" videogames set in the time period when the games took place (Sep. '98) works on paper. But the same behind-the-scenes people that made the previous "RE" movies (including Paul W.S. Anderson and Jeremy Bolt as executive producers) are also working on this reboot, which smells/feels an awful lot like a "Hellraiser"-type franchise rights' cash grab. Every criticism leveled against "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" applies tenfold in "WTRC." Leon Kennedy (Avan Jogia) is such an inept douche of a character he single-handedly would have ruined the film even if everything else around it had been stellar. Even Donal Logue as a hammy Chief Irons couldn't scare more than a few pity chuckles from yours truly! Not scary and a worse adaptation than the Anderson series (which at least had fun with the material), this new "RE" movie isn't fit for brain-dead dogs to consume. A-fucking void!

Ironically what got me out of the funk of "RE:WTRC" was Paul W.S. Anderson's run of 3D movies from 2010 to 2014. He might be a hack, but the man knows how to frame 3D for both in-your-face spectacle and background depth. RESIDENT EVIL AFTERLIFE/RETRIBUTION 3D (2010/2012, Blu-ray 3D) make no sense if you haven't seen the first three "RE" flicks, but they're mainstream-friendly popcorn spectacle in well-known genres (siege, disaster epic, escape from prison, etc.) with 3D cinematography to die for. "Retribution's" backwards slow-motion opening credits have yet to be topped as a barn-burner opening to a running-on-creative-fumes fifth installment in a long series. And unlike the new "RE" movie, these filmmakers at least showed Barry Burton some respect. #JillSandwich

Speaking of Milla Jovovich, she's shoe-horned into Anderson's "Pirates of the Caribbean"-influenced version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS 3D (2011, Blu-ray 3D) as the on/off love interest of Porthos (Matthew Macfadyen). More playful than her Alice role (Milla's got great comedic timing), the ridiculously stacked cast (Luke Evans, Christoph Waltz, Juno Temple, Mads Mikkelsen, Orlando Bloom, James Corden, etc.) and enthusiastically extended middle finger toward common sense are as intoxicating as the 3D photography. You won't believe for a second that "Final Fantasy"-type flying ships are bringing characters back and forth between Paris and London, but you'll be entertained by their silly banter and feel those blades thrusted a few inches from your face. Dumb fun.

POMPEII 3D (2014, Blu-ray 3D) is my second-favorite P.W.S. Anderson movie after the almighty "Event Horizon." Yes, it's a naked marrying of tropes from "Conan" (young orphan grows to become a gladiator he-man), "Gladiator" (Keifer Sutherland hams it up good as a corrupt Roman senator), "Titanic" (Kit Harrington and Emily Browning as lovers from different social classes) and a 70's natural disaster epic. Like James Cameron with his sunken ship, Anderson's love for the source material is palpable. Good supporting cast ("Lost's" Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), great special effects when Vesuvius explodes and a gut-punch of an earned ending makes it easy to overlook "Pompeii" is formulaic and predictable. Highly recommended, especially in 3D where subtle particles floating in front of the camera (water droplets, ash, etc.) look phenomenal. :-D

Meredith said...

Your review are always so succinct!

Meredith said...

Disney Plus is insane. I can't believe how many movies are on here. My fam has it at my parents house, where I'm visiting and just discovered it. My sister mostly watches Disney Live Action...which makes me sad, as I am not a fan.

I forgot the Newsies is a Disney movie. I am so impressed by the choreography every time I watch it. Overly "dancer-y" choreography always makes me cringe. It pulls me out of the story, makes me forget the characters, and just makes me think B-A-L-L-E-T ! So the camera angles and editing works to cut all those perfectly-pointed-toes out of the frame and makes the dancing look a lot more rough and tumble than it actually is. The stage version, IMO, doesn't work as well because they can't edit it the same - can't speed it up - the pliets have to last for as long as real pliets actually have to last. And I like Christian Bale in this more and more. Most of the movie he's a kid who has to act like a fearless non-kid. He's good at transitioning it to the true "scared kid" moments. And Max Casella is so adorable I want to adopt him.

Has anyone seen Third Man On The Mountain? That was shot ON LOCATION !!! ����

J.M. Vargas said...

I avoid all trailers/previews in theaters (cellphone reading material and headphones to cover the noise) before a movie begins, but there was something about the theatrical trailer for Ridley Scott's HOUSE OF GUCCI (2021, AMC Dolby theater) that made it my most anticipated release of '21. While the film itself is your garden variety Hollywood version of a real-life scandal (nothing new or unique, especially if you've seen 2017's "All the Money in the World"), style/fashion have always played integral roles in the production design of most Ridley Scott films. Like Hitchcock with "Psycho," Ridley turns tabloid/trashy material that's already been rung dry by low hanging fruit media (Lifetime, FX, etc.) into entertaining social commentary. Top-tier performers and filmmakers have the resources/skills that a basic cable telemovie or mini-series lack to get a mood/point across more effectively. As he did in "The Last Duel," Adam Driver is a charming mofo that remains likable even as his passive behavior yields massive damage to his "loved" ones. Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino are in graceful foul-mouthed grandpa mode, Jared Leto plays a weirdly-compelling weirdo (not as easy as it sounds), Salma Hayek looks confused, Jack Huston underplays to great effect and, last but not least, Lady Gaga remains a compelling presence even though she's clearly the only performer on-screen who's not an actor. If you're already familiar with the Gucci family saga the movie's impact will be lessened. It was all new to me, though, so "House of Gucci" was just a fun 80's/90's time capsule with good actors playing interesting, eccentric people. Not as cool as the movie's trailer, but close.

Still high on 3D (because 3D rulez!), so watched Ferdinando Baldi's spaghetti western COMIN' AT YA! (1981, Blu-ray 3D) for what turned out to be the mother of all 3D spectacles. You know how "Friday the 13th Part III" is 90-95% filler scenes with a handful of 3D money shots every few minutes? "Coming at Ya!" literally flips the percentages. The credits, the establishing shots, the wait for a shootout... almost every single shot has something pushed in your face. Even I was exhausted and thinking 'way too much 3D' toward the end, especially since no thought was given to making foregrounds/backgrounds benefit from 3D. The story/plot are disposable (criminal brothers kidnap a man's wife and many other women to be sold as sex slaves; wronged hubby returns for revenge) but the actors (led by "Get Mean's" Tony Anthony) play their archetype roles straight while the world around them pulsates in 3D. Feels too rapey and misogynistic for '81, but worth at least one viewing to experience enough 3D to last most folks a lifetime.

Last and least, Matthew Heineman's THE FIRST WAVE (2021, theater) is a documentary about how one New York City hospital's staff/patients dealt with the first four months of the COVID Pandemic back in early 2020. Except for a few obscenities and images of patients dying on-camera, there's nothing here that you didn't see an edited version of on "Rachel Maddow" or CNN primetime while it was happening (except for an inside look at the refrigerated trucks where corpses of COVID victims were stacked atop one another :'( ). The doc carries the pretense of being a very deep and important deal (ultra slow reveal of COVID victim's names during the credits), but it feels more like well-connected documentarians interested in projecting optimism than chronicling the depths of the COVID crisis at its peak. Technically solid, but mostly a rehash of stuff everybody knows.

Fun fact: I was the only paying patron in the theater. SIX different people snuck into the theater from nearby movies; all six left 5-10 minutes after they came in. The More You Know! :-P

J.M. Vargas said...

if by "succinct" you mean "bloated and in need of an editor," guilty! :-P

J.M. Vargas said...

I saw "Flight of the Navigator" on Disney Plus. So many live-action new-to-me Disney movies, so little time! :-D

Meredith said...

Not at all, just economical, like you would do well writing front page articles in newspapers! With clickety-clacking typewriter sounds in the background of course.

Meredith said...

Ohhh. Does "Live-action" not only refer to the live-action remakes of Disney's animated classics? I didn't know that. Gotcha. Yeah! There are soooo many good ones.

A Casual Listener said...

Good weekend to everyone. I hope all of you in the U.S. enjoyed Thanksgiving. As the list below shows, I got to quite a few films during the week. I also took advantage of some of the Black Friday sales to add to my media collection.

CHAVELA (2017) – The beauty of documentaries is that they can introduce you to a completely different world. I knew nothing about Chavela Vargas, a singer whose career took her around the Spanish-speaking world, until watching this film. An uncompromising rebel who challenged almost all social and sexual norms, she undoubtedly is a rich subject for a doc. Considering how hard she lived for decades, it is amazing she lived to be an elderly woman. On Amazon Prime.

HIRED GUNS (2017) – Tales from the trenches of being a hired musician in rock music. Though not a great documentary, as a music fan I did enjoy the stories. As so many interviewees stated, the job can end at any time. I guess the perils of being freelance are the same in any profession. On Amazon Prime.

THE VELVET TOUCH (1948) – Rosalind Russell is a murderous actress in this crime melodrama. Having never seen her in anything like this before, I was intrigued. Russell is good, but the actress who steals any scene she is in is Claire Trevor. Trevor played cynical and brooding characters like nobody else at this time. Although the changes in tone can be off-putting, the smart script kept me watching despite knowing Russell’s character would eventually confess. It was the production code period, after all.

HIS KIND OF WOMAN (1951, dir. John Farrow) – Speaking of the production code, here is a noir that was straining against it. The sexual situations are tawdry and the violence gets surprisingly vicious. Robert Mitchum portrays a gambler who is lured down to a Mexican resort for a mysterious purpose. On the journey he encounters a young woman, played by Jane Russell, who catches his eye. Mystery and love unfold in a very entertaining mess. For any Vincent Price fan, His Kind of Woman should be an enjoyable just for his ironic role as a Hollywood star. Maybe his scenes detract from the cohesiveness of the film, but they are very amusing. Knowing how much Price loved to cook, one scene in particular cracked me up. Additionally, a very trim Raymond Burr plays the main villain.

LUST IN THE DUST (1984, dir. Paul Bartel) – Silly, bawdy, goofy, campy, call Lust in the Dust what you want, and it is best appreciated in a certain mind-set. (I probably was not in it.) Watched this morning as the TCM Underground feature, the film is alternately funny and a little too over-the-top. Bartel’s comedic sensibilities permeate the film. The cast is by far the best part, full of interesting character actors like Geoffrey Lewis and Henry Silva.


A Casual Listener said...

Were you watching these on a 3-D television, J.M.?

J.M. Vargas said...

Thanks, Meredith. Picture me more like Johnny from "Airplane!" as I crank these reviews out. :-D

Casual Listener, yep. Got a 58" Vizio 3D TV from 2012 that somehow is still kicking. A one-of-a-kind model that's 2:35:1 AR, so regular 1:85:1 movies have black bars on both sides of the screen. I only use it for 3D movies or 1080p only discs of widescreen films (like the Criterion Blu-ray of "Kwaidan"). Pretty cool, uh? :-)

A Casual Listener said...

I have come across a blu-ray of Comin' At Ya! but was not tempted to pick it up. I remember the oover art emphasizing the 3-D aspect of the film.

For Junesploitation this year I watched another collaboration between Ferdinando Baldi and Tony Anthony, BLINDMAN. It is an unusual spaghetti western with Ringo Starr as one of the villains, definitely worth a watch if you have not seen it.

A Casual Listener said...

An interview with the director of The First Wave was on a TV program during the week. None of the scenes shown from the doc seem much different from the news coverage I have watched since 2020.

A Casual Listener said...

It sounds like something to treasure.

J.M. Vargas said...

"The First Wave" will eventually come to National Geographic TV channels (Nat Geo produced it), where it belongs and fits. As something projected on a big screen, though, it really leaves a lot to be desired. Learned/felt nothing new that I didn't watch on cable news while the pandemic roared through Gotham. :-(

Other than the complete lack of extras, I loved "Comin' At Ya!"... especially since I got the Blu-ray 3D brand new for seven bucks. :-P I'll keep an eye out for "Blindman," thanks. :-D

J.M. Vargas said...

Eff treasure! It better keep working and putting out decent 3D, or it gets tossed on the trash heap.

Mashke said...

The Beatles: Get Back: Ep 1 & 2 (D+ 2021)

This is not a music documentary by typical standards and conventions. Rather it is a bunch of cameras setup that captured a LOT of footage of a group of four musicians sitting around for many long days meandering and riffing and smoking and chatting and (seemingly) aimlessly trying to create something new.

Also it’s an indescribably brilliant piece of film and history that literally sits the viewer down with the band …like sits you WITH them as a silent observer who gets to witness moments of frustration, discovery, boredom, rifts, riffs, seeds of breakup, scenes of best bud silliness, and the creation of some of the most timeless songs ever created. Its part time capsule, part time machine, and completely unlike anything ive ever seen before. It’s a masterpiece of a moment in time.

There’s an old saying that you are either a Stones fan or a Beatles fan and you must choose. I think that’s horseshit. However, if you are a huge fan of music in general or, of course, the Beatles, then this documentary is an absolute treat. Be warned that while the subject matter seems like an obvious "must see", this documentary will NOT be for everyone, and honestly will likely not be for most people, for you realllly need to turn yourself over to it…its very long and meandering…its not a tight bullet point documentary…but if you do connect with it as presented…the payoff is wonderful!!!

Peace .n. Let It Be...Let it be. Oh let it beeeeee.

Mash

Mashke said...

Great reviews as always JM.....Comin At Ya holds a special place in my heart as it was my first 3D theatrical experience at age 11. Even now decades later i remember that the plot was non existent and terrible however its one of my strongest theatrical memories as the 3D effects were mind blowing. Literally magic. I became obsessed with it and tried to see most every movie released in 3D in the 80s...i think i hit them all with the exception of Parasite 3D as me and a buddy snuck into it, managed to snag glasses, and got immediately busted and kicked out by the manager.

(Post script to my story: I was so bummed to not get to see Parasite in 3D that i chose to never watch it on home releases...until a year ago when i got it on 3D blu...i watched it and less than a month later my 3D TV (along with pretty much the 3D tv industry) died. Im hopeful that as with most things, 3d is cyclical in nature and TV producers will reintroduce some day).

J.M. Vargas said...

Apple TV+ 6-month free membership on all new PlayStation 5's sold... at least here in The States. No joke, your review has given me extra incentive to chase after a PS5 so l can watch "The Beatles: Get Back" for free. πŸ˜ƒπŸŒˆπŸŽ

J.M. Vargas said...

3D technically isn't dead (the 3D spec is standard on most 4K/Blu-ray players in the market, many projectors come with 3D options, recent movies like "Free Guys," "Dune" and "No Time To Die" are theatrically released in 3D, etc.), but it's become niche since TV manufacturers stopped making them. Used 3D TV's are still around in used electronic shops or sold by individuals in Facebook marketplace, etc. Sucks, but that's your best bet if you want to rekindle the 3D fire. πŸ₯ΊπŸ˜“

Mashke said...

Thanks and good luck! Those PS5's continue to be incredibly hard to get but ive had friends who got them after diligent hunting...good luck! (also, note, im not sure how that deal works but the Beatles doc is currently exclusively on Disney +)

Mashke said...

Thanks JM! And no worries..3D projection is in my future as im a lifelong fan.

Mashke said...

The Beatles Get Back Pt 3 (Disney + 2021)

I could write pages on my thoughts of this special but if you read my review above, you can see im a huge fan.

I will say this...as good as the documentary starts, it manages to get better and better and better and (IMO) ends with the exact perfect moment. Got teary eyed watching.

The footage manages to capture so many wonderful moments but also so many of the variables that led to the Beatles break up. Rock history likes to setup Yoko as the lynch pin...and she's certainly a part of it...but its far more complex than that.

Ive avoided discussing details as i think they are best discovered along the ride. But one must be mentioned. Throughout Eps1 and 2 it is very clear that Paul is more or less the driving force. Yes he's taking a defacto leadership role but it appears to be needed. That being said, there's band meeting the day before the proposed rooftop concert where he's kind of floundering and John and George become the voice of reason and decision. This documentary is just an 8 hour slice of 60 hours of footage from a few weeks of their lives, but its moments like these where we see how the Beatles were a sum of their amazing parts. They did it all TOGETHER. Strengths, weaknesses, friendship, and beautiful beautiful music. The world is a better place because of what they created together.

Peace & "We are the Music Makers and We are the Dreamers of Dreams"

Mash

Mac McEntire said...

THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991) Yes, I was that person who watched it to coincide with this week's podcast. I appreciate Patrick for pointing out that in addition to the social satire/commentary, the movie also plays on a level of pure camp. You gotta love Everett McGill hooting and hollering his way through the movie.

ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES (1993) "He has my father's eyes!"

NO TIME TO DIE (2021) Saw this a second time on Thanksgiving. Still not sure what to think about all the continuity-breaking "this is the last one" stuff. Beyond that, though, the action is solid and the deadpan humor is spot-on. The extended third act is especially white-knuckle thrilling. Good stuff.