Good weekend to everyone. Looking at what I watched this week, I am a little disappointed with myself. Oh well. I am planning to see Scrooged this evening at a local movie theater. I have not watched that film since it first came out and hope getting away from domestic distractions will improve my focus. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000, dir. Wong Kar-Wai) – Kar-Wai’s arthouse romance is lovingly photographed. The story can be as oblique as the camera angles. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung are neighbors who discover that their spouses are having an affair. I found it interesting that the spouses are not shown in any direct way. Taking solace in each other’s company, Cheung and Leung start to drift toward falling into the same circumstances. The deliberately slow pacing and fragmentary narrative may not be to everyone’s taste, but I think it works. Maggie Cheung's film career was amazingly diverse. SILVER DOLLAR (1932) – A forgotten film that has an entertaining performance from Edward G. Robinson as a silver tycoon in nineteenth-century Colorado. It also features Aline MacMahon, a prominent pre-code actress whose work I have come to appreciate. RANDY RHOADS: REFLECTIONS OF A GUITAR ICON (2022) on Prime – A very thorough documentary about one of the great guitar heroes of the 1980s. Rhoads co-founded the band Quiet Riot in the mid-1970s and, of course, made his name with Ozzy Osbourne’s first two solo records. For those who are not familiar with his playing, the live performance of Mr. Crowley easily found on Youtube is worth checking out. Sadly, his life ended at 25 in an airplane crash because of the pilot’s stupidity. PASTORALE 1943 (1978, dir. Wim Verstappen) on Mubi – A meandering story about Dutch resistance fighters in World War II veering between drama and black comedy. Though there are some engaging scenes, the film lacks energy and any kind of compelling cohesion. Rutger Hauer’s brief appearance at the conclusion is the best part of it. He possessed a lot of charisma even during his early Dutch period.
I've watched so many music video edits of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE that I can't even remember the real scenes or soundtrack. But I know it's freaking pretty.
Parts of In The Mood For Love are choreographed and edited for the soundtrack, so it makes sense that others would find the film a good source to create music videos from.
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I've been watching a lot of depressing medical documentaries lately and the the one that has stood out the most was A Lion in the Room from 2006, currently streaming on Netflix. I can't get it out of my mind. It's raw, it's personal and it's downright devastating. Some might find these types of docs exploitative but I don't.Definitely worth watching of you're up for it.
Guillermo Del Toro's PINOCCHIO (2022). This was a lot to absorb, but I enjoyed it overall. Still mulling it over in my head. I put on DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (2022) with the Blu-ray commentary on. It's refreshing to hear how zero-ego Raimi is. He's basically interviewing the writer and producer, letting them take credit for the movie in his place. SCROOGED (1988) "Niagara Falls, Frankie!"And then there's AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (2022). This is a whole lotta movie! It’s an improvement over the first one, a tighter and more consistent story, and with astonishing visuals and huge action. But I’m still scratching my head about the lore. The new things we learn about Pandora just raise more questions. Also, the high frame rate thing was really weird. It made it look a little Pixar-ish. Nonetheless, a definite recommend.
Wanted to listen to the recent ep covering 'Licence to Kill' but wanted to rewatch since it's been well over a decade since I've seen it. Couldn't just start there, so I stepped backward and watched 'The Living Daylights' first, then re-listened to that ep, then started going backward to listen to the Moore eps since I recently rewatched all of those for a Blank Check miniseries. It's been fun going that far back in the catalogue and hearing the literal birth of FtM! memes, hearing Patrick and Mike discuss movies that in the years since they've had 45-180° shifts in opinions on, reminiscing about how good (but actually bad) and bad (but actually good) movies were a decade ago.
I re-listened to those Moore episodes too. It's was fun to witness the birth of the "It's been a while" bit. There's another old defunct podcast that I re-listen to frequently, and there's one episode where they're discussing the "upcoming Avengers movie", and saying that the trailer doesn't look great, and theorizing that while the Iron Man movies were okay, the Avengers movie might put an end to what were otherwise a string of mediocre superhero movies. Which is pretty hilarious in hindsight.
Also finished listening to the audiobook for Stephen King's 'Different Seasons' for the first time and uh, boy oh boy, I now get where the criticisms come from regarding his rampant use of slurs. The book is also incredibly misanthropic, which is wild considering that two of the best and arguably the most heartfelt and uplifting movie adaptations ('The Shawshank Redemption' and 'Stand by Me') both come from this anthology. On the other side of that coin, this book also contains the tedious-for-the-sake-of-end-shock 'The Breathing Method' (which to my knowledge has never been adapted for film or TV) and 'Apt Pupil' (which would become Bryan Singer's followup to 'The Usual Suspects' and his lead up to 'X-Men' and is incredibly toothless in comparison to the stygian darkness of the novella). Needless to say, I rewatched The 'Shank and SbM, having a great time with both. The best things I can say about 'Apt Pupil' are that McKellen is pretty solid and that it was free on Tubi. Think I'll jump into 'Skeleton Crew' soon and rewatch some stuff from that one as well.
So many Stephen King short stories and novellas have been adapted for movies. Night Shift and Different Seasons probably have the highest percentage of stories that have been turned into films. Skeleton Crew does not have many adaptations, but the fact the The Mist comes from that collection makes its important. Back in the early 1990s I read a large portion of what Stephen King had published up to that time. I have not read one of his books since then, nor do I really have any interest in doing so now. My tastes have moved on, particularly away from fiction.
ARCH OF TRIUMPH (1948), dir: Lewis MilestoneThis takes place in Paris right before WWII, when many refugees were sheltering or moving through the city. Main character is anti-nazi German refugee surgeon (Charles Boyer), who saves many people, risking his own deportation. He saves Joan Midou (Ingrid Bergman) from killing herself over the death of her lover. She falls in love with him and he struggles to let her into his war-weary heart. Femininity is portrayed in a very old-fashioned way here, but Ingrid Bergman's character is specific enough that it doesn't slip too much into caricature. She has the most beautiful hair ever. On the whole, it was a beautiful movie. I've been watching a lot of old movies. I like how they go in unexpected, long, winding directions. And you just take them for what they are.
Though I am not always in the mood for old movies - my personal definition is anything up to the 1950s - they are satisfying when I want to see them. (I regularly watch films from the 1960s through the 1980s.) There is generally far more focus on character and dialogue than one finds in the Hollywood films of the past two decades.
If I knew which were good (so many are not), I'd watch pre 1950s movies all the time, I love them. Yes, more focus on character and, at the same time, less focus on formula.
Indeed, a lot of studio era Hollywood is not good. Considering the fast pace of movie production at the time and the quantity of movies released, that is not surprisingly. With almost three decades of watching older films behind me, I know what I tend to like, be it a star, a genre or a studio. You will inevitably run into duds. I try to consider it part of the fun of the journey.
I did go to the theater to see Scrooged tonight. It holds up well, and I found it a very creative adaptation of Charles Dickens' story. The sequence with Carol Kane's Ghost of Christmas Present gets surprisingly surreal. Definitely not the kind of film that Hollywood would make today.
The Big Four (2022 Nflix)Action fans rejoice! We have a new Timo Tjahjanto movie!!! Dropped this week. I had a lot of fun with this. Its a pretty threadbare premise of a group of vigilante orphans raised by a common father caught up with a police detective in an avenge-a-death story. Its also setup as first a comedy and second an actioner. The comedy is pretty slapdash, slapstick, silly, and schticky. Maybe akin to 90s HK action/comedy? The action however is pure Timo and wonderful. Martial arts, gun fu, and crazy violent. Cant wait to see what he does next!!
Hey everyone! Like most on this site, I was eager to check out Avatar: The Way of Water this weekend. I'm pretty lukewarm on the first Avatar but ended up liking it more than not. But I am happy to say that I think Way of Water exceeded my expectations in nearly every way. I thought all of the performances were excellent, shout out to Sam Worthington for putting forth what I think is his best performance. The young actors are basically asked to carry a huge chunk of the movie on their back, and they got it done. Very impressed. I was nervous about the runtime going in, but I think it was paced pretty well (still would've been better under 3 hours). And the last hour is pure Cameron, Staging dramatic action in a way that only he can. I thought it was terrific. I do have a few criticisms. The second act does sag a little, I think this is where Cameron could have trimmed a little. Maybe it's necessary to set up something in part 3, but there's a lot of character work that is set up and doesn't pay off. The antagonists motivation doesn't really make any sense, aside from Lang obviously. These are all minor quibbles, though. Also watched Black Adam on HBO Max, which sucks.
Anyone seen J.M. Vargas around? Love to hear from that amigo.
No, poor guy had a blogger tech problem, I think. And started his own YT channel, which I think takes a lot of time.
The Blogger software has periodically made it difficult to post here since the summer. J.M. Vargas had more problems than most of us. Even switching accounts did not seem to help him. I do not know if that discouraged him from continuing to post. Hope you are enjoying some good movies out there, J.M.
Welp...if he's reading this now..."Howdy JM! Hope you are doing groovy!!"