Saturday, April 2, 2022

Weekend Open Thread


  1. Mediocre crop of film this weekend. Except for the first one, 'I have chosen... poorly.'.

    THE OUTFIT (2022, theater) makes a meal out of longing shots of Mark Rylance's "cutter" character ('I'm not a tailor') thinking while fashioning suits in his late 50's Chicago shop, which happens to be located in gangland territory. 90% of the action happens inside Leonard's shop, making it prime candidate for a killer theater adaptation. The least you know in the better (don't watch the trailer), but other than patting itself on the back at how awesome it thinks it is "The Outfit" is an entertaining, thinking man's British take on American gangsters. Worth seeing just to admire Mark Rylance effortlessly practice his craft like a pro with nothing left to prove.

    THE LOST CITY (2022, AMC Dolby), by Adam and Aaron Nee (working on a remake of "Masters of the Universe"), is basically "Jumanji" for middle-aged moms... or a modern rework of the "Romancing the Stone" formula for old timers like me. Everyone's coasting on this one for a Paramount paycheck, particularly star/producer Sandra Bullock, but it's the rare instance every major actor performing in their own private movie lifts the whole thing. Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt and Da'Vine Joy Randolph steal their scenes while Channing Tatum's cute/dumb/shirtless (pantless?) routine doesn't become tiresome until near the very end. Worth a streaming viewing on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but proof older female filmgoers can be reached at the box office when appealed to.

    If you ignore the opening vanity cards for Malgorzata Szumowska's INFINITE STORM (2022, theater) you won't notice its primarily financed/made by The Polish Film Institute. This is important because, despite taking place in New England and passing itself as an American movie, this is 100% a female-led (by a woman director and Naomi Watts as star/producer) existentialist Polish drama wrapped in survivalist tropes. I'm still debating whether the distracting continuity (snow storm footage cutting to scenes without any snow, and viceversa) is intentional or not. Can't reveal the heart of what "Infinite Storm" is about without spoiling it, but despite earning the heartbreak its characters experience it's one hell of a boring movie. YMMV.

    Despite not caring one iota about the "holiday" or the movie itself rewatched Fred Walton's APRIL FOOL'S DAY (1986, Amazon Rental) twice on April 1st, once with the Forever Cinematic commentary track and a fanboy commentary by a dude I've never heard of. Yawn on both, but at least I got a lot of cleaning done around the house while both commentaries played.

    Last and certainly least, watched Mark L. Lester's FIRESTARTER (1984, HBO Max) for the first time. Killer ending, but (a) you can see it coming an hour before it happens and (b) the middle act where George C. Scott pretends to be a Native-American friend of Drew Barrymore (while Martin Sheen is stuck playing the same a-hole in a suit he did a year prior in Cronenberg's "The Dead Zone") is slow and tedious as fuck! Glad I saw it so I could listen to the Forever Cinematic commentary track (more entertaining than the flick itself). Glad David Keith improved as an actor, because this leading man turn shows him as a vacuum of charisma. Good Stephen King adaptation, lousy and badly-paced early 80's action/horror hybrid. Glad to see Art Carney, Louise Fletcher, Moses Gunn and "Starsky & Hutch's" Antonio Fargas getting some work. :-D

  2. Considering the movies, I had a pretty good week. Personally, I could do better if my depression wouldn't kick in the way it did in the last couple of day. Well - life goes on and so will I.

    I rewatched a no-brainer on a train ride: BACK TO THE FUTURE. I don't think I have to say anything about it. Everything has been said, it is a (nearly) perfect movie, super rewatchable.

    Another movie I've seen on the train was I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS. Great performances, lost me a bit towards the end, wasn't made to watch on a train and with depression, I guess. I liked it in general.

    Back at home we (we = two friends of mine and I watch classics every week - one is the girl I watched all those revolution movies with last week) have seen PATHS OF GLORY and SPARTACUS. Great movies in general, POG was really, really good with a strong message. SPARTACUS looked incredible. Good times.

    In the cinema I've seen JUJUSTU KAISEN 0, which I would call okay for fans of the series, but nothing special. My flatmate, who is way deeper into anime than I am, liked it a lot more. I also rewatched THE BATMAN - I like the atmosphere of the movie. Some elements are not necessary, but I do look forward to more Batman-movies in this style.

    That's it for me. Have a great weekend and a nice day, everyone!

    1. As a fellow daily depression fighter, Derek, l'd like to ride your train.✌️😎😛

    2. To be fair, it was on my notebook on the train. :D The train itself had no screens. ;)

  3. I saw MORBIUS. I was hoping it would be cheesy B-movie fun, but alas. It felt more like an unfinished TV pilot than a feature.

    TAKEN (2008). I put this on last Sunday instead of watching the Oscars. Sounds like a made the right call.

    On a whim, I went through all three super-long extended editions of LORD OF THE RINGS this week. Still holds up! Didn't feel the length at all. As I've said in the past, these movies are one-third Hollywood action movie, one-third Tolkien, and one-third New Zealand weirdness.

    REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA (2008). Remember who you are. Remember what you did to Marnie.

    CHRISTINE (1983). Lots of folks dismiss the as lesser Carpenter, but I love it so much. I'll admit a lot of that is nostalgia. When I was a kid, this is the movie that had me realizing horror movies aren't scary, horror movies are cool.

    1. Who knew watching "Taken" would be LESS VIOLENT than watching the Academy Awards? 😛😪

      Any rewatch of "Christine" is worth it because of (a) the car doing her striptease show for Arnie and (b) Buddy running through the dark road with you-know-who chasing after him. So little Carpenter synth music, but so freaking effective. 😎👍

  4. I watched 2 new recent movies today, and they're both under 2h (including credits), and somehow i'm kinda confused and wonder if they're really new movies

    The Contractor
    The Adam Project

    Both good stuff

  5. Hey gang! Hope everyone's doing well.

    This weekend I saw five trashy movies at the Cinemadrome festival that takes place twice a year in my town. The Spanish The Vampire's Night Orgy (1973) sees half a dozen people on their way to their new job stopping in a small village. Guess what happens next? It's pretty standard 70's European sleaze, which might have been a slog to get though at home but was fun with a game audience. The George Kennedy/Lance Henriksen starrer Savage Dawn (1985) was appropriately hammy and featured enough ludicrous turns and acting choices to keep it entertaining. A little too rapey for my taste though. Romano Scavolini's Nightmare (1981) and Ruben Galindo Jr.'s Don't Panic (1987) suffered from the same problem, both had a solid premise for a horror movie and some interesting ideas, but the execution was lackluster and both movies were pretty boring. But the undisputed star of the fest was the "Gore Cut" of Tammy and the T-Rex (1994), the only of the bunch I'd seen before. The combination of goofy comedy and goofier gore effects had the audience roaring.

    And before the second night of the fest, I saw a new Ukranian movie called Klondike, a story about a couple living in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, caught between the Russia-backed separatists and patriotic Ukrainians. The pregnant wife is headstrong and refuses to abandon their home and flee to safety, while the husband is torn between both sides of the conflict. It's a touching little movie shot largely in long panning shots, and the last scene is something that will stay in my brain for a long time.

    And earlier in the week I rewatched Zero Effect on a whim. Jake Kasdan's debut film stars Bill Pullman as a brilliant but deeply neurotic private detective and Ben Stiller as his Watson. It's a fun and twisty mystery, but the star of the show is Pullman's portrayal of the weird main character. Such a great movie!

    1. The Vampire's Night Orgy was a slog when I watched it a few years ago, Mikko. It is not the worst 1970s eurohorror, but you need some tolerance for a slow pace. I would watch anything with Helga Line in it, anyway. In general, I find Spanish horror to be an acquired taste.

      When I see Don't Panic mentioned, I always think of the replica dinosaur pajamas Vinegar Syndrome sold when it released the blu-ray. It goes to show how clever VS are at marketing.

      That version of TAMMY AND THE T-REX is fun; I laughed a lot. I caught it on TV a couple of years ago during a free weekend of a movie cable channel.

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  7. Good Weekend to everyone!

    You are not the only one struggling to watch things recently, Derk. Though I have the time after work, I lack the mental energy to concentrate. With the tax work ending shortly (in the U.S.) and June approaching, I am hopeful that my cinema enthusiasm will return. The opening of the Mahoning Drive-In later this month should also get me motivated.

    I have watched far more Youtube discussions about movies than movies. I enjoy following recent boutique label releases, knowing that something will eventually catch my eye. I am trying to be pickier in what I buy this year.

    I did get my physical media out this weekend to play with the picture settings on a new television. The colors and contrast can be changed easily with this one. I am finding that the image tends to skew towards the color red. The changes in contrast helps with certain discs, particularly blu-rays that are very bright.

    1. Ah - the moment you have a new set-up, and you know there are weeks that follow with fine-tuning. My last new sound system drove me mad. :D

      Fun aside - or entering - I hope that you'll get over your depressive episodes, too!