Saturday, November 4, 2023

Weekend Open Thread


  1. I already miss SMM, but it's so nice to watch non-horror movies again! :-)

    Meg Ryan's WHAT HAPPENS LATER (2023, THEATER) is surprisingly poignant and fun for what is basically a downbeat, romcom-ish three-character chamber dramedy (yes, the airport announcer is third-wheel Greek Choir to Ryan's and David Duchovny's shenanigans). Not a fan of Meg Ryan's body of work, but her directing choices and acting are on par with the material (co-written by her) and mostly entertaining. It's the type of flick I can recommend to both my retired parents and contemporaries (sisters, movie-loving buddies) knowing they'd all get something out of it. Recommended.

    THE TUNNEL TO SUMMER, THE EXIT TO GOODBYES (2023, THEATER) could easily work as live-action with the right visionary director at the helm. As a borderline-mumblecore, lo-fi romantic anime, though, this is a decent attempt to portray a time travel romantic narrative with some neat visual panache and two mopey, sad and depressing lead characters (teenagers obsessed with tragedies that befell them) who somehow feel relatable and likable. It's basically modern-day "Somewhere In Time"-ish, and considering its targeted at a young audience that's a good thing. Recommended.

    Marty Scorsese's KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOONn (2023, IMAX) is neither the best or worst Scorsese collaboration with Leo DiCaprio or Bobby DeNiro, but at times it feels like it's going through the motions of an awards bait project. Performances are fine and I wish more of the narrative was told from the native American character's POV (most of the story comes from the white lead's perspective). It could easily lose an hour and still be a potent film, but Scorsese has earned the right to be a stubborn auteur. Worth seeing on biggest screen possible before it gets shackled to Apple TV+ streaming shackles forever.

  2. Ghostbusters Afterlife:

    Right, i'll be the first to complain about all the legacy-sequels. Most of them are pretty bad. This one is not great and has virtually no original ideas. A bunch of kids running around instead of adults trying to find work, and you have the exact same villain. But, for some reason, mostly because of the major throwback during the end battle, it works for me. I can't explain it. I usually hate these things and here i'm liking the exact part that most people complained about and i usually hate too.

  3. Five Nights at Freddy's (2023 theatrical)

    First up: THANK YOU to the F This Crew and GREAT JOB to all who participated in Scary Movie Month. Awesome 7 word reviews by all. I had a blast and watched more horror flicks than ever during the month!

    So....FNAF.....where to begin. Probably at the disclaimer that typically precedes critical reviews: "its maybe not made for me but if kids like it, thats great". And, to some extent, that is very much true. Im ALL for younger generations connecting with movies that i may not and very very much for 'gateway' horror for kids interested in the subject.

    However, in this case, i dont know if its as simple as that (spoilers ahead) because this flick feels like a weird pastiche of genres and frankly feels like the primary plot was written for adults. The plot centers around and CONSTANTLY calls back to the abduction and murder of a sibling. While i get that alot of classic kids flicks build on some dark premise (f@#$ you whomever shot Bambi's mom), this one is WAY to dark. Frankly if you pull out the killer puppets, which you could easily, this would be a heavy drama about sadness, grief, loss, and the challenge of parenthood. Given that ive written this much and not once referenced the killer chuck-e-cheesesque robots is probematic. for the Freddy crew...they are realllllly well done. But the "horror" is scattershot. There's glimpses of how they could be used for tension but not much. Theres really only one scene with multiple kids (whos crime is almost laughably small to make them victims) get dispatched. Otherwise the flick changes its approach to the Freddy gang as villains, heroes, villains, and finally heroes.

    So the vexing part to me is that i expected a dumb kid friendly horror. Finding a heavy treatise on grief and more serious topics should have made me like it moreso but i think they went TOO far in the wrong direction. I was giddy watching Willys Wonderland and even had fun with the Banana Splits movies as they tapped the same great idea of nostalgia meets robot horror with no real plots. This flick had a chance to take that and make it better but i think it fumbled by leaning to far away from the fun/horror. BUT i know alot of kids did and do enjoy it so i suppose it doesnt really matter. And i found enough glimpses of good stuff to hope they course correct in the sequel (though i would FAR prefer a Willys Wonderland sequel!!).

    Now excuse me as im off to crowdfund MY take on the genre: Rock-a-Fire Deathsplosion: The ShowBiz Pizza Place Murders

    Peace .n. Extra Tokens


    PS: one other rando comment....ive seen countless comments about how the violence in this flick is watered down and fine for kids. And look im the farthest thing from an uber conservative parent but child abduction, child murder, teen murder, countless violent SAW traps, a generally decent teen sliced in half, murders being committed by childrens ghosts, etc. Ummmm i wouldnt call that watered down.

  4. It was a very enjoyable Scary Movie Month, primarily of new watches. As J.M. aptly states, it is nice to move on to other things, though. I used prompts from a couple of horror movie challenges to get a large variety of films in. The highlights were REC, SCREAM, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988), DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE, THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, HEREDITARY, and HALLOWEEN III. I watched a lot more newer films (after 2000) than I generally do, trying to fill some notable blind spots in my horror viewing. There is still a lot to do in that regard, with franchises like Final Destination and Saw not even touched at this point. Seeing The Conjuring did not encourage me to get deeper into that franchise. It’s not really my thing.

    I watched a couple of films since Halloween. Hoping to get to a little more in the weeks ahead.

    BLACK BOOK (2006, dir. Paul Verhoeven) - After a month of horror films, the polish of this WWII thriller is a big change of pace. The budget was not small, and Verhoeven puts a lot of that on the screen. The story revolves around a Jewish woman working for a resistance cell in German-occupied Holland at the end of the war. She infiltrates Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam, navigating several dangerous situations. The depiction of the murky experience of life under occupation, though not without stereotypes, is more nuanced than I expected. Everybody has their own reasons for collaborating.

    WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950) – I will be doing some Noirvember watches this month. This is the first. Ann Sheridan stars as the wife of a murder witness who is trying to hide in San Francisco. The police want him, as does the murderer whose deed he witnessed. Though not the best noir out there, all of the location shooting adds a lot character to the film.

    1. People.really should explore Verheoven filmography outside of his american run. There's some really good stuff there. Black Book being one of them

  5. During the month, I also had a chance to watch some non-horror films.

    RUN AND KILL (1993, dir. Billy Tang) – A Category III Hong Kong film about a man who inadvertently puts a murder contract on his wife and gets increasingly involved with the criminal network that carries it out. The violence escalates throughout the film, leading to some disturbing violence against children. The intensity of the action escalates as well.

    AUDREY (2020) – A documentary about the iconic actress Audrey Hepburn. Having watched her films for decades and seen several programs about her, there was not much I did not already know about her life and career. What the doc excels in is putting a context to the childhood experiences that shaped her life. Above all, she was a child of war and hunger, never imagining that an illustrious movie career lay ahead.

  6. Long work hours and a stint with covid kept me out of Scary Movie Month but in the past week I have gotten back into the movie swing and have seen a lot of great stuff: Halloween 1-3, The Thing, The Fog, The Wicker Man, The Third Man, and The Terminator. Had only previously seen Halloween (1978) among that lot, so I've had a great movie week!