Saturday, November 19, 2022

Weekend Open Thread


  1. Good weekend to everyone. With the planning for Thanksgiving (so much work to get through) beginning and other things going on, it was pleasant to get away from it all with movies. It was mainly another week of Noirvember watches. Turning to some neo-noir productions has added a little more variety and (literally) color to the experience. Most of the titles that have been on my watch list for some time, too. There are still a few noir titles I plan to see before the month is over. I just received the Body Heat blu-ray from Netflix.

    BOB LE FLAMBEUR (1956, dir. Jean-Pierre Melville) – One of the films I most looked forward to seeing this Noirvember. Bob is a gambler on a terrible loosing streak. To improve his fortunes, he is willing to gamble with his life by robbing a casino. Melville’s slow pacing has an alluring rhythm, and he captures the sleazy attractiveness of red-light Paris. Though not my favorite Melville production, the film still lives up to its reputation as one of France’s great crime films.

    NIGHT MOVES (1975, dir. Arthur Penn) – I finally went into the realm of neo-noir with this very 1970s story of private detective Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman) stumbling onto something he should not know about while tracking down a runaway girl. This is a very cynical film more about Moseby’s search for himself than solving the mystery. Like so many films from this period of his career, Gene Hackman gives an acting masterclass.

    BLOOD SIMPLE (1984, dir. Joel Coen) – The beginning of many careers (Coen Brothers, Francis McDormand, Barry Sonnenfeld). This very distinct take on neo-noir is one I am still processing. The thriller aspect of the story takes some intriguing twists. The acting was generally more low-key than I am used to, but it fits the film’s style. I also appreciated greatly how the high contrast cinematography of the 1940s and '50s is replicated here in color. I should catch up with more of the Coen Brothers’ films.

    BLUE STEEL (1990, dir. Kathryn Bigelow) – Shown on TCM Underground this morning. I have not seen this since its VHS release over three decades ago and can understand why I do not remember much about it. The script is all over the place, failing to adequately build up to most of the important plot points. The cast and Kathryn Bigelow’s handling of the action scenes do at least make it watchable. Point Break, coming only a year later, is such a big step up from this.

    At this time of the year I usually focus on acquisitions for my movie collection. I picked up a some titles from Hamilton Book this week, including some Mondo Macabro titles and a couple of Vinegar Syndrome releases for less than what I would spend on the VS website. I am not sure how much more I will buy this holiday season. There is not as much disposable income this year, and I am trying to get more use out of my streaming and Netflix DVD subscriptions. Though adding to my already large watch pile at home is not really necessary, it will probably still happen.

    1. *Frances McDormand ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    2. Their first 5-6 movies are a blind spot for me in the Coen Bros work (I skipped Raising Arizona the year it was on #Fthismoviefest). I recently watched Hail, Caesar! which was a lot more enjoyable than anticipated. Clooney has gone from someone I actively disliked to appreciating him more and more. I think it was Solaris when he finally clicked for me. He's hilarious in Hail Caesar!

    3. I was typing quickly, Kunider. None of us is perfect. I almost misspelled Sonnenfeld.

      Blood Simple was not a planned watch. I kept seeing the film come up in neo-noir lists and remembered that I had it with a Coen Brothers 4-DVD pack. Miller's Crossing and Fargo are also in it. With those films, The Big Lebowski, and No Country For Old Men (own the blu-ray) also in the neo-noir category, I might get to more Coen Brothers by the end of the month. Raising Arizona and Barton Fink are the only ones I remember watching before.

  2. Howdy Team F This!

    Unstoppable (2010 Bluray)

    - A Masterclass in movie direction
    - Likely one of the last movies of its kind in terms of action setpieces done practically.
    - So f@#$ing good

    This flick was a gap in my Tony Scott watching (turns out i have several..which i will rectify toot-sweet). Honestly the premise seemed almost too basic: two train employees try to help stop a runaway train. Welp in the hands of Tony that premise turned into an amazing flick. The biggest surprise is how well flushed out and interesting the characters are thru this journey. Every character, down to relatively small screen time parts, feels real, important, and is incredibly well portrayed by the corresponding actor/actress. Tone, tension, escalation for days. So well done i found myself very emotionally invested by the end. Incredible movie.

    1. This is one of those movies that i watch once a year, when i need something with strong kinetic energy

    2. Yeah, that's a super fun movie. I've only seen about half of his filmography, and I should rectify that. I recently watched the first Beverly Hills Cop for the first time, so I'll probably watch the 2nd one next. Also need to see The Hunger, Revenge, True Romance, The Fan, Spy Game and Domino.

    3. Love the comments Paul and Kunider. Also, Paul, i was also surprised how many Tony Scott movies i havent seen yet..cant wait to watch them. You are in for a REAL treat with True Romance..its soooooo good.

    4. Sounds like a movie I've been looking for...perfect to watch through once, then play in the background on repeat during crafting. Thanks Mashke!

    5. Woot! You bet Meredith....the F This crew and commenters have provided me countless great suggestions. One of the things i dig most about this site.

  3. There are bunch of movies I watched in September and throughout October/November that I wanted to mention:

    I watched all 4 Airport movies. They got progressively more ridiculous in concept, culminating with the last one where they’re racing away from missiles in a concord. I enjoyed them all. The 70’s were a great time for disaster movies. (Forgive me, I might have mentioned these ones earlier in September). Thanks to JB for the inspiration to watch them.

    Junior Bonner (1972, dir. Peckinpaw) was a great western about a rodeo dude played by Steve McQueen. I was a lot more heartfelt than other Peckinpah movies, and much of the time is spent with J. Bonner reconciling his relationship with his father.

    Murphy’s War (1971, dir. Peter Yates) was a tidy little war movie. After Peter O’Toole’s character is the sole survivor of an attack by a submarine, he sets out on a solo mission to destroy the offending submarine. There’s some great flying scenes in this, and a huge chunk of the movie is spent just getting the damn thing to fly.

    After hearing Patrick and Adam mention Paper Moon (1973, dir. Bogdanovich). What a lovely movie! It’s kind of a road trip movie, and we follow a father and daughter and they travel during the great depression. Endlessly charming from beginning to end. I think this is the only Bogdanovich movie I’ve seen.

    Hard Times (1975, dir. Walter Hill) is about a drifter that roles in to town and begins making money off of street fighting. Charles Bronson and James Coburn are both excellent, and I love them more every time I see them. Especially charming is the “cutman” played by Strother Martin, who also was in several Peckinpah movies. Hill, like Peckinpaw, is fast becoming one of my favourite directors.

    Chasing Mavericks (2012, dir. Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted) was surprisingly good and heartfelt. I love surfing movies, but this one was extra special, as we see the relationship grow between a fatherless kid and his mentor. Based on a true story and lots of great surfing scenes too! It was the last movie by Hanson, and Apted was brought in to help finish it because of Hanson’s poor health, and he died shortly after.

    I rewatched Sorcerer (1977, dir. William Friedkin) and this movie rips! I’ve been listening to the soundtrack (Tangerine Dream) a lot.

    I went to see The Woman King (2022, dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood) at the theatre just before it stopped playing. Viola Davis is just magnificent in this, and I really enjoyed the performance by Lashana Lynch as well. I love historical action movies and this hit the spot, although it did feel a bit lesser in scope than a movie like Gladiator, for example. Perhaps because it was filmed during the pandemic? I hope Prince-Bythewood continues to get budgets to make big original movies.

    1. It said my comment was too long, so I had to break it up into 2.

      Barry Lyndon (1975) was the last Kubrick movie that I hadn’t seen. I haven’t lived it with for very long, but I think it might one of my favourite Kubricks. It was a lot funnier than I anticipated. I really liked Marisa Berenson in her role as Barry’s wife. Her hair got bigger and more ridiculous as the movie went on. My favourite bit was when Barry was sitting with his son on a couch, and then it cuts to a view from further away, and you seen they’re on the end of the longest couch you’ve ever seen, with the most gigantic picture behind them.

      Bandidas (2006) wasn’t received well critically, but I thought it was fun. Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek are both pretty funny, and might possibly be the 2 most gorgeous woman on the planet. Steve Zhan is really funny too in this.

      I thought Mister Roberts (1955, dir. John Ford and some other guys) was going to be a war movie, but finally was a comedy. It could have been a stage play, and most of the film takes place on the deck, and the boat hardly moves throughout the whole thing. Very funny.

      My son has recently gotten into weight lifting, so we watched Pumping Iron (1977) together. Holy fuck, was Arnold a freaking monster back then. Just ripped. His back and shoulders were like a mountain range. It was fun watching Lou Ferrigno being super motivated to beat Arnold, but no one was beating Arnold. Just ripped.

    2. The lingering memory of PUMPING IRON is the charisma of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even before he turned his attention to Hollywood, he had a star quality about him.

      My favorite night at the drive-in this year was for the Walter Hill films. It was great watching HARD TIMES on a big screen. Charles Bronson was in terrific shape for a man in his fifties, and he could show a soft side when given the chance.

      JUNIOR BONNER is one of the few 1970s Peckinpah films I have not watched. His more heartfelt projects did not get the box office that his more mean-spirited ones had. The Ballad of Cable Hogue also comes to mind in this vein.

      SORCERER is a film that I have waited for Turner Classic Movies to show for a long time. I am still waiting.

      It is interesting to see that you liked BARRY LYNDON your first watch. That often seems like one even the most diehard Kubrick fans do not connect with right away.

      A cable channel showed MURPHY'S WAR (I believe it was on A&E, back it was a decent channel) in the 1990s. I have not noticed it getting much attention since then.

    3. I read a recommendation for Murphy's War somewhere on the internet, but I had never heard of it before. It was available to rent on Youtube, but nowhere else.

      I was a little surprised how watchable Barry Lyndon was. Reading the premise, I would have expected it to be boring, long, staid, etc. but I found it quite engaging.

      Indeed, Bronson was very believable as a boxer/streetfight, even at his age.

      Junior Bonner is very much carried by the charisma of McQueen. And is very much a Peckinpah movie. "Remember when men used to ride horses". Instead of a shootout, we get a bull riding competition. There was no violence at all other than a rather amusing bar fight.

  4. Hey all! Hope everyone's doing great this weekend!

    I took a little two-day trip to the nation's capital for the Night Visions film festival and saw five films there (plus The Menu on general release):

    Quentin Dupieux is an endless spring for absurd premises, and his latest Incredible But True is no different. A middle-aged couple move into a new home and discover a hole in the basement. When you go down it, you end up on the second floor of the house, you've traveled 12 hours into the future and are three days younger. The movie takes that weird premise and applies logic to it, seeing how it might affect normal people. Deerskin is still my favorite Dupieux, but this is close to being the second fave.

    The Menu just might be my favorite film of this year. I went into it knowing next to nothing, which was a big plus, so all I'll say is it's great!

    The Breach has a fun (if silly) horror premise, very effective directing and nice practical effects. A shame the dialogue is really groan-inducing and the lead actor is terrible.

    Fall is pretty much exactly what I was expecting, and it's good at it. So glad I saw it on a big screen, it's not getting a wide release here, so the only chance was at the festival.

    Benson & Moorehead's Something in the Dirt is definitely a Benson & Moorehead film. It's a mess of about a dozen different ideas and several filmmaking styles all rolled into one, and it doesn't entirely all hang together, but it's really entertaining.

    The British micro-budget film Lola is a story about two sisters in the 40's inventing a machine that sees into the future and using it to help defeat the Nazis in WW2. Obviously, that creates some complications. It's shot in shaky found-footage, which is annoying at times, but it becomes apparent that it's pretty much the only way this little story could've been told, so it's hard to complain about it.

    All in all, a fun weekend!

    1. OOOOO thanks for the notes on The Menu....STOKED to see it

    2. The Menu is front-runner for my favorite movie of the year, and is one of those "feels like it was made specifically for me" kind of movies.

  5. Free Guy (2021)

    First up: the plot and premise and execution is VERY much a reboot of TRON. Take that and then throw it in a blender with Wreck It Ralph n Ready Player One. Kinda figured it'd be meh but ended up liking it bunch! Its got Reynolds charisma for days combined with strong supporting leads. Its predictable but well made and even has a smidge of sweetness to it. Fun flick!

    1. I'm kind of getting overloading with Reynolds, but watched that with the kids, and found it enjoyable and funny. It has a lot of The Lego Movie in it too, especially the first act.

      Ryan Reynolds is my kids favourite actor!

    2. Great points all around! I too watched it with my kid and i think that makes a difference in the experience.

  6. Finally got around to seeing Tรกr. For me it was an absolutely fantastic Cate Blanchett performance put into one of the least interesting stories one could tell with that character. It was somewhat redeemed though by the kinda crazy place it ends up in with the last scene. Not a "good" movie in my opinion but one that is still absolutely worth watching.

    1. I watched this last night, and am still not sure what to think of it. Blanchett was fantastic, as you said, but its pace was ponderous. Although it was interesting how the pacing changed as things began to unravel. The length between cuts became quicker and quicker as the movie went on. I thought the first hour was entirely too drawn out, but thinking about it this morning, all the seeds of the ideas of the movie were scattered throughout that first part. I liked it quite a bit, but perhaps not as much as others.