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StressEater

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Con

The Long Shot (2017)...5/5...Real short documentary about the real life story of a father who was apprehended and accused with the murder of a 16-year old girl and how attending an L.A. Dodgers baseball game on May 12th was just the start of an incredible story that you just have to see to believe. For a film that runs under 60 minutes, there are enough ups and downs to keep you at the edge of your seat. The only negative is that the present day interviews don't carry the emotional punches since the crime happened in 2003 and the documentary was released in 2017. But that being said, there is no doubt this impacted all of those involved as despite it being 14-years after the fact, you can still see some very grown men eye's swell up and hold back the tears. A man was facing the death penalty and he was going to need one of the most absurd miracles of all time. Why should you watch it? You are not familiar with the story. It's one of the most incredible things I have seen all year. Don't research more as there isn't too much to the story, it's more about how improbable the odds were of everything falling into place the way they did and that could spoil the surprise.

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I'm watching Rifftrax, No Retreat No Surrender.

They're doing a Jean Claude Van Damme movie, and he's the best actor in it.

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LimeGreenLegend

Saint Maud

dir. Rose Glass/2020/84m

Saint Maud Film Times and Info | SHOWCASE

Saint Maud is a religious horror film and the debut from writer/director Rose Glass.  It stars Morfydd Clark as the titular Maud, an extremely devout Catholic nurse who is giving end of life care to American dancer Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) who is suffering from stage four cancer. After spending time with Amanda and sharing her love of God with her, Maud makes it her mission to save her soul.  This plan is stymied by a tense interaction at Amanda's birthday party and from there Maud spirals into full blown obsession, both religious and otherwise.  The film culminates with an incredibly shocking and visceral ending that evokes Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc but without the grace, leaving just the fury of God, who in this film speaks Welsh!

For a debut director, Glass has already established a very unique look and style.  The film has a bleakly washed out feeling to it, the setting of a grey and dreary British sea-side town at winter really helps with this, and Maud's dingy, pokey little flat reflects this setting and also Maud's character.  Amanda's home is very lavish, full of expensive looking furniture and warm candlelight.  It makes Maud's flat seem like a room in a nunnery and Amanda's home a representation of excess and worldly possessions.  Glass is also comfortable letting her camera linger for a second too long, creating a constant unease with minimal effort.  She is one director I will be looking out for in the future.  

The lead two performances are fantastic, but Clark is especially incredible.  Her Maud is at once both totally terrifying and also meek and pathetic.  Her softly spoken conviction is truly scary in a very real way.  This film is a fresh take on the religious horror genre and feels both very modern and classic at the same time, much like Clark's performance.  I would recommend this to everyone, but if you're a horror fan then you'll love this.  Don't go in expecting loads of blood and guts, but expect to leave with the fear of God.  9.5/10

 

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LimeGreenLegend

Get ready for a long-*ss post of all the pre-1950 films I've watched recently.  Sorry, but I gotta catch up with all my reviews, and there are a lot to get through.  

The Haunted Castle

dir. Georges Méliès/1896/3m

The Haunted Castle (1896) directed by Georges Méliès • Reviews, film + cast  • Letterboxd

The Haunted Castle (otherwise known as The House of the Devil) is a short horror film by pioneering director Georges Méliès; it is arguably the first ever horror film.  However, the scares are played for laughs and to delight his audience rather than to scare them.  Being an incredibly early film this is understandably simple.  It is comprised of a single static shot, with Méliès using simple camera tricks to make people and objects appear and disappear.  Rudimentary stuff nowadays, but to an audience of 1896 this was pure magic.  In fact, the term movie magic probably comes from Méliès, who was himself a magician, and he bought that sense of playfulness and trickery to this new medium.  

There isn't much plot to this short; a bat flies into a castle whereupon it turns into a demon.  The demon summons a cauldron and an assistant and gets up to all kinds of trickery before being banished by a crucifix wielding cavalier.  What this film is is a showcase for Méliès skill at thrilling an audience with something they've never seen before.  

To modern eyes this film is almost laughably simple, but in a world where people were getting freaked out by footage of a train pulling into a station this must have been a revelation.  The most impressive thing, to me, is that over one hundred years later Méliès joy and playfulness for the art of film still shines through as strong as ever, and that makes this three minute film worth a tiny bit of your time.  6.5/10

 

======================================================

The Astronomer's Dream

dir. Georges Méliès/1898/3m

The Astronomer's Dream (1898) movie poster #1 - SciFi-Movies

The Astronomer's Dream is another Méliès short, and there is a huge jump in quality from The Haunted Castle just two years earlier.  This film is much like The Haunted Castle in many respects, but this feels like the work of a professional filmmaker as opposed to an enthusiastic amateur.  The plot is again more of a framing device for Méliès' magic tricks; this film is itself based on one of his stage shows.  Méliès stars as the astronomer who is studying in his tower when he is surprised by the appearance of the devil who is soon chased away by a woman.  The drawings on his chalkboard start to move and when he looks through his telescope he sees that the moon has developed a menacing face.

This face then appears right in his window and menaces him by eating his telescope.  There is more wacky trickery involving the moon, the astronomer, the devil and the woman before, in probably the first instance of this cliché to be recorded on film, he wakes up to realise it was all a dream.  What makes this stand apart from The Haunted Castle is the quality of every aspect of the production.  The set looks so much better with these gorgeous, stylised theatre style backgrounds, and the mechanical moon is incredible to see, imagine the reception this got in 1898!  

This film would be the inspiration for Méliès' most famous film, A Trip to the Moon in 1902, and show another huge leap in the evolution of cinema, but this can still stand proud in the shadow of it's more popular younger brother as an incredibly entertaining and magically charming film.  8/10

 

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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

dir. Robert Wiene/1920/1h14m

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, German Movie Poster, 1919' Photo |  AllPosters.com

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a silent German expressionist horror film from Robert Wiene.  The plot sees a mad hypnotist, the Dr. Caligari of the title (Werner Krauss) arriving in a small town during a fair with his special attraction, a somnambulist called Cesare (Conrad Veidt, whose performance in The Man Who Laughs was the main inspiration for The Joker). Caligari keeps Cesare in a coffin and he only wakes him during shows with a special command.  He then can answer any question about the past, present or future.  Suspiciously, at the same time that the doctor and Cesare arrive in town there are several murders.  When his friend is killed, Francis (Friedrich Fehér) decides to take matters into his own hands and he soon has reason to suspect Caligari.  

If you want to know what German expressionism is then just watch this film, it basically invented the style.  The town is made up of twisted streets and crooked buildings at impossible angles and painted-on shadows cover every wall.  This extends to the intertitles during the film which are all written in a crooked and twisted font matching the design of the film.  I only have a couple of problems with this film.  Firstly the performance of Krauss as Caligari is very over the top.  It's may be in the style of the time but it doesn't match the tone of the film, especially when the other actors, especially Veidt, are giving more nuanced performances.  My other problem is my biggest one, and it's with the ending.  I won't spoil anything, but there is a double twist and I just found it confusing and overbaked.  Just sticking with either of them on their own would have been a much better choice.  

Overall this is a very stylish film with some genuinely creepy moments and some fantastic design.  It's not the best German expressionist horror film I've ever seen (that's Nosferatu), but it certainly deserves it's reputation as a classic of the genre and a must watch for any self respecting horror aficionado. 7/10

 

======================================================

Battleship Potemkin

dir. Sergei Eisenstein/1925/1h15m

Amazon.com: The Battleship Potemkin Poster Movie B 27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x  102cm Alexander Antonov Vladimir Barsky Grigori Alexandrov Mikhail Gomorov  Sergei Eisenstein I. Brobov Beatrice Vitoldi: Furniture & Decor

Battleship Potemkin is a Russian revolutionist film by Sergei Eisenstein based on the true uprising of sailors against their senior officers in 1905 on the titular ship.  The plot is split into five chapters.  The first two concern the mutiny on the Potemkin.  The sailors are pushed over the edge by worms and maggots in their food, rising up after the senior officers don't give a sh*t.  This first revolt is quelled and the main instigators are put in front of a firing line, but the sailors making up the firing line turn against the senior officers and they manage to take the ship, throwing the officers overboard.  The rest of the film is set at the port at Odessa where they receive huge support from the local people.  But the Tsarist government send troops to stop the revolt, resulting in one of the most iconic scenes in film history; the Odessa steps.  

A line of soldiers moving with ruthless machine like efficiency descend the steps, firing into the crowd and stepping over the corpses of women and children.  A baby carriage, with a baby still in it, rolls down the steps as his mother lies dying at the top.  A woman who has been shot in the face screams in pure horror right in to the camera.  This scene is incredible.  In response to this, the sailors on the Potemkin fire at the opera house where the government officials are meeting and their ship is allowed to leave the port when the sailors in the Tsar's warships refuse to fire on them.  

As well as an incredible story, this film also has a brilliant use of editing and montage, something Eisenstein was at the forefront of and he was already a master by the time he made this film.  The way this film is edited is unlike anything else being made at the time and still holds up as a moving, powerful film whose message still resonates nearly 100 years later.  9/10

 

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The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

dir. Alfred Hitchcock/1927/1h30m

The Lodger Films (1927–2009) — Nate Taves

The Lodger is a silent thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock; his third film, this is now considered the first "true" Hitchcock film.  The film stars legendary songwriter Ivor Novello as the lodger, a stranger who takes a room in Mr and Mrs Bunting's (Arthur Chesney, Marie Ault) guesthouse during a serial killer's spree where he targets young blonde women.  Their daughter, Daisy (June Tripp) happens to be a pretty young blonde, and when she and the lodger start to get close, and suspicion starts to mount around his innocence, her boyfriend Joe (Malcolm Keen) decides to investigate further.  This all culminates in a Frankenstein-like mob scene where the lodger is almost lynched.

It's amazing that so many of the classic Hitchcock tropes were in place so early in his career; the blondes in peril, a false accusation and especially the technical innovations.  There is a scene where the Bunting family can hear the lodger pacing nervously in his room; the camera then pans up and we see that the floor has been replaced by glass so that we are looking up at him from below.  Right from the opening shot of one of the victims screaming bloody murder in unsettling close-up Hitchcock seems to be really setting out his stall as to who he is as a filmmaker.  

The performances in this are also great, Novello has a spaced-out nervousness to him that makes him seem always on edge and Tripp is very capable as a sweet but feisty showgirl.  If you're a Hitchcock fan but haven't dived into his silent era yet then you can't go wrong by starting here.  It's not on the same level as his all time classics; Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo et al, but at times it comes close.  7.5/10

 

======================================================

The Passion of Joan of Arc

dir. Carl Theodore Dreyer/1928/1h20m

Amazon.com: A silent era film poster entitled The Passion of Joan of Arc  showing Rene Maria Falconetti as Joan of Arc surround by flames Poster  Print by Eloquent Press (18 x 24):

The Passion of Joan of Ark is a silent religious drama from Carl Dreyer which details the imprisonment, torture and execution of Joan of Arc at the hands of the occupying English forces.  It stars Renée Falconetti, a theatre actor, in her only major film appearance as Joan.  It's worth watching this film for her alone; this has been called the greatest performance ever captured on film and after watching it's hard to argue against that.  Every single close up of her incredibly emotive face tells a story on its own without the need for dialogue or intertitles.  It's almost like you can see her soul.  

Dreyer's direction is the equal of his leading lady.  His camera movement in this film is exceptional, and the best you will see from the silent era.  His slow tracking shots of the English priests build tension perfectly, his use of uncompromising close-ups lays bare his cast and his use of off-centre framing and negative space really makes Joan seem so small and powerless in spite of her incredible defiance, dignity and faith.  

This film is a marvel.  I'm not a religious person but I still felt the full force of Joan's love for God, especially in the harrowing final scene where she helps her executioner tie her binds before she is burnt alive.  If you watch any film in this post then watch this one, it's as close to a religious experience as I'll ever have.  10/10

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Steamboat Bill, Jr.

dir. Charles Reisner/1928/1h11m

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) - IMDb

Steamboat Bill, Jr. is a silent slapstick comedy directed by Charles Reisner and starring the great stone-face, Buster Keaton, who was an uncredited co-director.  The plot see Steamboat Bill (Ernest Torrence), captain of a rundown steamer on the Mississippi, competing against his rival, the flashy John James King (Tom McGuire).  At the same time, he is awaiting his son, Bill Jr. (Keaton) who he hasn't seen since he was a baby.  He is expecting a big, strapping manly-man like himself, but then Jr. turns up wearing a beret and playing the ukulele.  Even worse, he has fallen in love with Kitty King (Marion Byron), daughter of his hated rival.  

This Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers set-up leads to the usual slapstick hijinks from Keaton, who plays it all off without changing his iconic expression.  This film also contains his most famous stunt where the entire front of a house falls down on him, just the gap of a tiny window passing over him stopping him from being crushed.  The great feeling you get from watching films like this, or similar films from the likes of Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, I think comes from the child-like way the leads act.  The entire world is a playground for Keaton, and he's going to have as much fun as he can.

This is a funny, sweet film that leaves you feeling good, so I recommend it to you all.  It's not as good as other Keaton classics The General or Sherlock, Jr. but it comes damn close.  8.5/10

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M

dir. Fritz Lang/1931/1h51m

Amazon.com : M Fritz Lang 1931 Movie Poster #01 25x36in : Prints : Clothing

M is a German thriller/police procedural and the first sound film from Fritz Lang, director of the legendary Metropolis.  The plot sees a small town thrown into terror due to a serial killer(Peter Lorre) targeting children.  The increased police presence gets in the way of local criminals, so they decide to hunt down the killer in parallel to the police force.  We follow these two groups hunting the killer until the end of the film where the killer is caught by the criminals and put on trial in front of the low-lives.  He is about to be killed when the police arrive and arrest everyone. 

This is a great film with a lot of brilliant touches.  I love things like how the films opens with a group of kids playing and singing a song about the killer, very Nightmare on Elm Street.  I love how in depth we get with the forensic process, I wasn't expecting to see anything like fingerprinting and handwriting analysis from 1931.  The way the killer whistles In The Hall of the Mountain King just as he's about to strike and how that tune is threaded through the film is brilliant.  Lang is really playing with sound now he's able too and he's making full use of his new tool.  

I do think it is a bit too long though.  I think you could cut ten minutes or more and make it a more concise thriller.  There's no denying how influential this is though.  If you've ever seen a serial killer film then you will recognise types of shots and story beats that originated in this film.  8/10

======================================================

Modern Times

dir. Charlie Chaplin/1936/1h27m

Modern Times Posters and Prints | Posterlounge.co.uk

Modern Times is a slapstick comedy written, directed, produced by and starring Charlie Chaplin.  The film sees Chaplin.  This is the first Chaplin film with sound and also the last to feature his iconic Little tr*mp character.  The plot involves the tr*mp working in a factory on an assembly line, causing his usual chaos before he is fired.  He then finds himself arrested after inadvertently leading a Communist march.  Due to the conditions of the world thanks to the great depression he finds he actually prefers it in prison, so he spends a lot of the film trying to get arrested again in a variety of wacky ways.  Along the way he falls in love with a street urchin, Ellen (Paulette Goddard) and they have an incredibly sweet romance before walking off into the sunset together.

This is rightly considered a classic and still holds up today.  Chaplin's performance is always perfect, every single movement and expression is there to make you laugh, serve the story and to build his character.  His direction also always makes the joke the main point of every shot, it's all in the service of getting a laugh.  Even though this is a sound film, Chaplin still films it like a silent movie, and the only time you hear voices is through technology, on a TV screen, through a radio etc.  The only human voice you hear unfiltered is the tr*mp's in a scene near the end where he sings a song in gibberish in one of the funniest scenes in any comedy.

And that's the main thing with comedy.  Does it make you laugh?  There's a reason Chaplin's films are considered timeless and it's because they can make anyone from any generation laugh, and that is something truly special to see.  Being his first sound film, Chaplin was also able to write the score for the film, which includes the instrumental version of the song "Smile", which is just a beautiful piece of music.  There are only a few Chaplin films I like more than this, but not many.  This is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  8.5/10

======================================================

The Gold Rush (1942 Remaster)

dir. Charlie Chaplin/1925/1h12m

The Gold Rush" ..Charlie Chaplin... Vintage Movie Poster A1 A2 A3 A4Sizes |  eBay

The Gold Rush is a silent comedy again written, directed, produced by and starring Charlie Chaplin.  Originally made in 1925, Chaplin remastered the film in 1942 adding a score which he wrote himself, as well as removing all the intertitles and replacing them with narration, again written and performed by Chaplin.

The film follows Chaplin's Little tr*mp into the frozen north, prospecting for gold.  He soon encounters a fellow prospector who has just stuck gold, Big Jim (Mack Swain) and the criminal Black Larsen (Tom Murray) and they are caught in a blizzard, resulting in classic scenes like the tr*mp cooking and eating his shoes and a starving Big Jim imagining that the tr*mp is a giant chicken.  Later, the tr*mp finds himself in a nearby town where he falls in love with a dancing girl (Georgia Hale).  There are more classic scenes such as the bread-roll dance and the dramatic cabin hanging over a cliff edge scene on the way to the tr*mp getting both the gold and the girl.

Everything I said about Chaplin in the Modern Times review holds true here, so I won't say much about his performance apart from that it's fantastic.  The film itself has great design, the shots on the mountain are really well done and at times it's hard to tell when they cut from location footage to studio sets.  The narration added in the remaster is also brilliant.  If you've never heard Chaplin speak before you may be surprised at how deep and booming his voice is.  And he really gives a full performance when he narrates, getting into the emotion of each scene.

This is Chaplin's personal favourite out of all his works and it's not hard to see why.  This is one of the greatest films by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and should be seen by everyone.  9.5/10

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Sanshiro Sugata

dir. Akira Kurosawa/1943/1h19m

Sanshiro Sugata | Hd movies, Akira, Judo

Sanshiro Sugata (Judo Saga) is a 1943 martial arts film and the debut movie from the legendary Akira Kurosawa.  It tells the story of Sanshiro (Susumu Fujita) a talented but hot-headed martial arts student who arrives in town to study jujutsu.  However, when he arrives in town he witnesses judo master Shogoro Yano (Denjirō Ōkōchi) absolutely decimate a group of jujutsu fighters and throw them all into a river.  He vows to learn judo and the film then becomes a battle between the two schools of combat, as well as showing Sanshiro learn to master his emotions.  There is extra conflict when he is chosen to fight a master from another school whose daughter, Sayo (Yukiko Todoroki), he has fallen in love with.  To further complicate things, the devious Higaki (Ryūnosuke Tsukigata), another jujutsu master, is also vying for her affections and wants to battle Sanshiro to the death.

Like with Hitchcock's The Lodger, it is amazing to see how many techniques and conventions that became staples of Kurosawa's films were there from the start.  From the use and wipes to transition between scenes (something Lucas stole for Star Wars) and the dynamic use of weather to convey emotion as well as add movement to his beautifully composed frames to the way he layers his shots with distinct foreground/midground/background and the movement of the characters between the three.  However, he hasn't quite mastered them here, and there are also a lot of very still long shots that feel more like something out of an Ozu film than something truly original.  The score is also pretty forgettable, nothing like the incredible soundtracks for Throne of Blood and Seven Saumrai.  

This is still a very good film though, and if he had a slightly better cast; no one really stands out apart from Tsukigata as Higaki, but I think I like him just because his character dresses in a three piece suit and looks so out of place, like Moriarty suddenly turned up in a kung-fu film.  If you're a fan of Kurosawa's and have already seen his big films then this is worth a watch just to see where it all began, but if you're a Kurosawa beginner then there are many better films you could watch.  7/10

(The only trailer I could really find only has French subtitles and some inaccuracies such as saying the film is from 1965 and it gives the wrong names in the credits.  You still get the idea from watching it though)

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Lifeboat

dir. Alfred Hitchcock/1944/1h36m

Hitchcock Conversations: “Lifeboat” (1944) | Jason Bovberg's Homepage

Lifeboat is a drama by Alfred Hitchcock set entirely in one location, you can probably guess where.  This is the first in a series of films he made in a single setting, the others being Rope, Dial 'M' for Murder, and Rear Window, and is the weakest of the bunch in my opinion, but that doesn't mean it's bad, just that the others are very, very good.

The film starts in the aftermath of a clash between an Allied ship carrying soldiers and civilians and a German U-boat in which they are both destroyed.  We're in a lifeboat with Connie Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), a reporter, who is slowly joined by a small group of survivors, including one German, Willi (Walter Slezak).  As they drift in the ocean and rations start to run low things start to get heated, culminating in a brutal showdown and a twist ending.

The best things about this film are Bankhead's performance as Connie, a real ballsy dame like they don't make anymore, and Hitchcock's direction which makes the most out of his limited setting and never feels repetitive.  Like I said, this isn't one of Hitchcock's best, but it's still a fun little film with some great moments.  7.5/10

(Another film I couldn't find a proper trailer for, so here's the opening scene with Bankhead being her sassy self even after her ship's been sunk)

======================================================

Brighton Rock

dir. John Boulting/1948/1h32m

Amazon.com: Brighton Rock POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x 102cm)  (1947): Posters & Prints

Brighton Rock is a British gangster/film noir directed by John Boulting and starring a scarily young Richard Attenborough.  The film starts with new gang leader Pinkie Brown (Attenborough) killing reporter Fred Hale (Alan Wheatley) because he holds him responsible for his old gang leaders death after he published a story about him.  In his attempts to cover up his tracks he discovers that young waitress Rose (Carol Marsh) has found out something that could incriminate him so he romances and manipulates her because a wife can't be made to testify against her husband.  Along the way he has to deal with the problems that come with leading a gang, which includes a nice dose of violence along the way.

This is a fantastic film that is incredibly dark despite it's bright, seaside setting.  Boulting fills his frames with imposing shadows shot at dutch angles, keeping us on edge.  Attenborough is terrifying as Pinkie, quietly threatening at all times, his youth giving him the air of unpredictability that usually leads to bloodshed.  The supporting cast are all solid, although it is weird seeing William Hartnell, the original Doctor Who, playing a proper mean b*stard.  Hermione Baddeley as Ida Arnold, working class club singer and the last person to see Fred alive, who takes it up to investigate his death after the police rule it an accident, is brilliant, adding a bit of light and hope to a very bleak film.  Although, if they kept the original ending from the book it would have been much bleaker, but I do like the ending they chose for the film.

This is an absolutely classic piece of British film history and a top-notch gangster film that can stand up to any other film in the genre.  If you wanna see Richard Attenborough, the cuddly grandpa from Jurassic Park, play an absolute c*nt then you gotta check this out.  8.5/10

(Again, I couldn't find a proper trailer for this, so here's a scene with Pinkie being his usual friendly self)

That's it for everything before 1950.  Up next, the 50s and 60s.  Sorry for the massive post and cheers if you actually read it 😄 

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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Con

EPIC STUFF!! Mr. Lime!!! 
I see you still got your silent films fix on!!! You gonna have to give us some time to read all that baby!!! Woooooo!!!!

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zmurko

I've watched Clint Eastwood's 'The Mule' recently on Netflix.

Personally didn't find anything impressive about the movie, though it's still well put together. It just drags a little.

What I did find impressive was that about to be 91 Mr.Eastwood still got it at the age of 88 (when it was filmed). Hats off to the old guy! He'll probably still be making movies when he's 100! Though he did finally age in the last 10 years or so it seems.

Movie is about an old guy that's forced to retire his flower business and his struggles balancing work & social life and family even at his old age when he finds himself smuggling drugs for a mexican cartel from the south of US to Chicago. During this time he finally realizes what a lousy husband, father and grandfather he's been and risks his life ignoring the cartel orders to be with his dying ex wife in her final days and somehow manages to reconnect with his family.

If I had to rate it, I'd give it an average of 3/5.

Edited by zmurko
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LimeGreenLegend

Another long post incoming.  This time I'm covering recent films I've watched from the 50s and 60s.  Expect cowboys, samurai and singing Frenchmen.

Umberto D.

dir. Vittorio De Sica/1952/1h29m

Poster for “Umberto D.” - 1952 by Vittorio De Sica. | Cinema posters, Movie  posters, Film posters

Umberto D. is an Italian neorealist film from master of the genre Vittorio De Sica.  Neorealism was an Italian film movement that started after the war.  It focused on unromanticised stories of the working classes and shot on real locations with mostly non-professional actors.  That is very much the case here with the lead actor Carlo Battisti who plays Umberto.  He was 70 years old at the time and this is his one and only film role and it is near perfection.  

The story follows retired civil servant Umberto as he seems to hit rock bottom.  After returning home to his tiny flat after marching against pension cuts he finds that his landlady (Lina Gennari) has rented out his room for an hour for a couple to get down and dirty and after an argument he is told that he will be kicked out at the end of the month.  Over the course he is hospitalised, loses his faithful dog Flike, and eventually contemplates suicide.  Apart from his dog, the only person who is close to a friend is the maid of the house he live in, Maria (Maria-Pia Casilio) but she has her own problems, she is pregnant and she doesn't know which of two soldiers is the father.

This is an incredibly heartfelt and touching film that never strays into sentimentality, there is always the hard edge of reality waiting to cut.  Battisti is brilliant as Umberto, slowly being worn down by life, only his loyal dog keeping him from going under.  The direction is also fantastic, De Sica showing us the dirty side of Rome that contrasts with the glamorous images that you usually see of that city.  The ending of this film had me on the edge of my seat more than most thrillers or action films, this is a must see and in my opinion is a better film than his other masterpiece Bicycle Thieves.  9.5/10

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Marty

dir. Delbert Mann/1955/1h33m

Marty movie poster (1955) Poster. Buy Marty movie poster (1955) Posters at  IcePoster.com - MOV_880c7ea9

Marty is a romantic comedy starring Ernest Borgnine in an Oscar winning performance as the titular character.  The film follows Marty, a lonely man approaching middle age, living with his mother and resigned to a life without a girl after constant rejection.  After some peer pressure from his friends and his mother he goes out dancing and meets Clara (Betsy Blair) a plain and timid teacher who was in tears after being ditched by her blind date.  They spend the entire night together talking, hitting it off right away and he promises to call her the next day.  Meanwhile, his aunt has been interfering, telling his mother that if he gets a girl he will leave her all alone, so she belittles Clara.  His friends also make fun of her, calling her a dog, and after all of that he doesn't call her.  

That night, sat alone again, he realises what an idiot he is and he runs out to a phone booth to call her, leading to one of the sweetest cliffhanger endings ever.  This is a very sweet romantic comedy with a good heart and a couple of fantastic lead performances from Borgnine and Blair.  This genre isn't my favourite but I really enjoyed this and was rooting for Marty from the off, his character just makes you sympathise for him without it being manipulative.  He's just a decent guy who deserves some happiness.  This film also has a banging theme song.

I'm still amazed that this won Oscars for best film, actor, screenplay and director.  Not that they aren't deserved, but this just isn't the type of film that would even get nominated these days.  If you want something sweet that will leave you with a warm feeling inside then you should check this out.  8.5/10

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Eyes Without a Face

dir. Georges Franju/1960/1h30m

Amazon.com: Eyes Without A Face - 1960 - Movie Poster: Posters & Prints

Eyes Without a Face is a French horror film and only the second fictional feature from former documentary maker Georges Franju.  It stars Édith Scob as Christine, a young woman disfigured in a car crash caused by her father, a surgeon (Pierre Brasseur).  Driven mad by guilt, he has resolved to kidnap young women who look like his daughter in order to transplant their faces onto his daughters.  His daughter, meanwhile, spends her days in a dazed shock with a creepy, expressionless porcelain mask covering her injuries. When the police start to investigate the disappearing woman they narrow in on the mad doctor, and the film ends with Christine escaping her father with a brutal use of a pack of dogs which he has been experimenting on.

 Although to modern eyes this doesn't seem scary, it is still effective at evoking an unsettling, dark fairytale kind of vibe.  The score really helps to sell this feeling, as does the primary location, a very gothic house with a secret lab where the mad doctor can perform his experiments.  The big scene of the film, where you actually witness the removal of the face still looks pretty good, and the way it's shot and edited really helps sell the effect of someone having their face removed.

The performances are pretty varied.  Scob is good as Christine, even though she really doesn't have much to do, but I really didn't like Brasseur as her father.  I thought he was quite wooden and uninteresting, and I didn't really find his presence threatening in any way.  This is still a decent film overall, it's well directed and has some genuinely creepy moments.  7/10

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Yojimbo

dir. Akira Kurosawa/1961/1h51m

Amazon.com: Movie Posters Yojimbo 11 x 17: Prints: Posters & Prints

Yojimbo is a samurai film from Akira Kurosawa, starring his long time collaborator Toshiro Mifune as the lead character, Sanjuro.  A small village is being torn apart by two gangs vying to control it.  One controlled by Seibei (Seizaburo Kawazu), the other by his former right hand man, Ush*tora (Kyū Sazanka).  Into this mess walks Sanjuro, a samurai with no master who decides that the town would be better with both gangs dead.  He then plays each against the other until his betrayal is discovered by Ush*tora's younger brother, Unosuke (Tatsuya Nakadai), a gunslinging samurai who you just know is trouble.  This all leads to the classic western showdown which leaves the street lined with bodies.

I say classic western, because that's what this is, just set in Japan and with samurai instead of cowboys.  Kurosawa was a huge fan of Hollywood western from the 30s and 40s, and this is his love letter to those films.  This film would then go on to inspire the European western revival in the 60s, with Sergio Leone remaking this film as A Fistful of Dollars a few years later.  There's nothing new I can say about Kurosawa at this point.  He was a master, and this is a prime example of his work.  The same goes for Mifune as Sanjuro.  He is one of my favourite actors of all time, and this is one of his best films in my opinion, although I could say that about everything I've seen him in.  The rest of the cast are all great too, with the standout being Nakadai as Unosuke.  He has such a menacing presence whenever he's on screen, and I love the way he slowly brandishes his pistol from his robes, like a snake getting ready to strike.

This is a fast paced, fun film with great fight scenes, memorable characters, perfect direction and a brilliant soundtrack.  If you're a fan of westerns then you should watch this, because this is one of the best westerns of all time, it just wasn't made in the west.  9/10

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Sanjuro

dir. Akira Kurosawa/1962/1h36m

Amazon.com: Sanjuro - Japanese Style Movie Poster: Prints: Posters & Prints

Sanjuro is the loose sequel to Yojimbo.  It started off as an adaptation of a book, but after the success of Yojimbo it was rewritten to have Toshiro Mifune return as the lead character.  Again directed by Kurosawa, this film sees the wandering samurai come across a political plot involving kidnapping the lord chamberlain of a small town.  Sanjuro assists a group of young local samurai students to get their master back, again by trickery and deceit.  The finale sees the chamberlain saved, one of the main traitors killing himself, and the main bad guy, Hanbei (Tatsuya Nakadai, who played Unosuke in Yojimbo) demanding a duel to the death with Sanjuro.  This duel is one of the most iconic scenes in film history, I'll put a video below.

Even though this is a sequel to Yojimbo this feels very different.  Whereas that was very much a western, this feels much more Japanese in both the story and the presentation.  There are some fantastic moments in this film, like the above mentioned ending, and the imagery of floating flowers downstream to signal an attack, but I much prefer Yojimbo.

That's not to say this is a bad movie, not by a long shot, but compared to his other work this is more of a second tier Kurosawa film.  The direction is still great and Mifune, as always, is magnetic, but you can feel that this started off as a different film that was changed to shoehorn in his character.  8/10

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The Fabulous Baron Munchausen 

dir. Karel Zeman/1962/1h25m

The Fabulous Baron Munchausen 1962 Russian B1 Poster | Posteritati Movie  Poster Gallery | New York

The Fabulous Baron Munchausen is a Czech fantasy adventure film from Karel Zeman.  The film sees an astronaut, Tony (Rudolf Jelínek) landing on the moon and meeting various fictional characters, including Baron Munchausen (Miloš Kopecký).  Thinking that Tony is from the moon, the Baron decides to take him to Earth to experience life.  Travelling on a ship drawn by winged horses, the have various adventures, with the main through line being Tony falling in love with the beautiful Princess Bianca (Jana Brejchová) being held captive by an evil sultan.  

This is such a treat for the eyes.  Every shot of this film is gorgeous with Georges Melies style backgrounds, fantastic use of colour, and an incredible mix of animation and live action.  Surely this was a huge influence on Terry Gilliam, who would later make a Munchausen film of his own.  This film also reminded me a lot of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, so I think you'll love this @Spinnaker1981 🙂 

This is a really fun and inventive film full of great set pieces and some solid performances from the cast.  If you want an adventure film that's a bit quirky and full of a totally unique style then you should watch this.  8.5/10

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A Bagful of Fleas

dir. Věra Chytilová/1962/43m

A Bagful of Fleas streaming: where to watch online?

A Bagful of Fleas is a Czech new-wave short film from Věra Chytilová.  It is about a girls boarding school and textile factory and a critique of the communist Czech government.  The film follows Eva, a new student at the school, as she learns how to work at the factory, make friends and flirt with boys.  Eva particularly looks up to troublemaker Jana who near the end of the film is called into a meeting with the board of the school where she is brutally berated. 

This film is all shot from the point of view of Eva, so it has a really intimate feeling as she walks through the corridors of this grim building, or hangs out in the dormitories gossiping with all of the other girls.  She is bringing us with her every step of the way.  There is also a great use of close ups to show her focus.  In one scene she is being taught how to do something at the factory, and the shot is totally focused on her hands as she is doing it.  Other times the camera drifts lazily, focusing on a window or some other object.

It's hard to recommend a Czech new wave feminist film all shot in black and white without sounding pretentious, but this is a really good film, almost documentary like, and a fantastic insight into a regime that I have no idea what it's like to live.  It's also very funny and full of life and optimism.  One of my favourite Chytilová films.  9/10

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Something Different

dir. Věra Chytilová/1963/1h21m

Something Different (1963) directed by Věra Chytilová • Reviews, film +  cast • Letterboxd

Something Different is another Czech new wave film from Věra Chytilová, and is her first feature length film.  The film cuts between two different threads.  The first is documentary footage of Olympic gymnast Věra Bosáková undergoing a rigorous training regime in preparation for an upcoming competition.  The other is fictional, featuring a bored and frustrated housewife, Věra (Věra Uzelacová), sick of the monotony of housework and looking after her child, embarks on an affair.  However, this is as unfulfilling as her normal life and soon fizzles out.

The film ends with Eva competing at the competition and then teaching young gymnasts while Věra is still in her unhappy marriage, even after her husband suggests that they get divorced.  I like the difference in style between the two stories but I wish there was more of a thread that tied them together, they feel at times like two different films edited together.  

The performances of both leads are equally engaging, Eva showing real fortitude and determination in the face of her hard training scehdule and Věra's aimless apathy really standing in contrast to the character of the gymnast.  This is a decent film in Chytilová's filmography but not nearly as good as her best work.  7/10

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A Fistful of Dollars

dir. Sergio Leone/1964/1h39m

A Fistful of Dollars - Italian Style' Prints | AllPosters.com

A Fistful of Dollars is a spaghetti western from Sergio Leone, the first in his man with no name trilogy, and stars Clint Eastwood in his first leading role.  This is a remake of the Kurosawa film Yojimbo, made without permission.  This resulted in a successful lawsuit by the original production company.  The story is the same as Yojimbo, a wandering stranger comes upon a town in the grip of two warring gangs.  Playing them off against each other, the stranger takes care of both gangs and rides off into the sunset.  

But there are many differences between this and the original.  This film was Leone's first western and he really stamped his distinctive style all over the genre.  The contrasting use of widescreen landscapes and extreme close ups and the long takes that build tension before an explosion of violence.  Eastwood is also a very different leading man to Mifune.  Whereas Mifune is animalistic, prowling around like some feral beast Eastwood's menace comes from his stillness.  There is also the iconic Ennio Morricone score, maybe my favourite from all of his collaborations with Leone, that main theme is a classic.

Even though Leone went on to make better westerns than this, this is still a damn good film from start to end.  It's a simple story well told and Eastwood gives a quietly charismatic performance that cemented his place in film history.  

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Band of Outsiders 

dir. Jean Luc-Godard/1964/1h37m

Amazon.com: (27x40) Band of Outsiders - French Style Poster: Prints: Posters  & Prints

Band of Outsiders is a French new wave crime film from Jean Luc-Godard.  It stars Anna Karina, Sami Frey and Claude Brasseur as three students, Odile, Franz and Arthur, who decide to rob Odile's aunt of a large sum of money she saw hidden there.  But, like with most of Godard's films, the plot isn't really that important.  What's important to him is mood and character.  Like his debut, Breathless, here we spend more time with the characters just hanging out than when they're doing anything plot related.  

The best moments in the film come from the diversions from the plot; an impromptu dance scene in a cafe and when they deicide to experience the Louvre in a way no one ever has, by running through it as fast as they can.  A lot of people think that Godard films are very serious and pretentious, but what comes across when you watch them, and this is especially true here, is his playfulness.  He uses his love of 40s American noir films as a way to play with the medium of film.  It's the same in Breathless and Alphaville.

If you've never seen a Godard film before then this would be a good one to start with, all of the classic tropes of his work is in place here, the fourth wall breaks, the jump cutting, but he hasn't gone too experimental with them here as he does in his later work, so you can still just enjoy the film on it's own terms.  As a fun and very French crime caper.  8/10

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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

dir. Jacques Demy/1964/1h31m

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg Title Sequence | Watch the Titles

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a musical drama from Jacques Demy starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuivo as the lead characters Geneviève and Guy.  The film is split into three acts.  The first is called The Departure.  We meet Guy, a mechanic and Geneviève who works in her mother's umbrella shop.  They are young and in love.  However, Guy has been drafted and is being sent to Algeria, so they spend one last night together, pledge their undying love and he leaves.  Part two, the absence, shows us a pregnant Geneviève who is hardly receiving any letters from Guy.  She is heartbroken by this, and turns to a wealthy jeweller for comfort.  Her mother urges her to marry him for a secure future and she does, but doesn't seem really happy about it.  Part three, the reunion sees Guy back from war and learning that Geneviève has left town with her new husband.  A few years later we return to see him now married to his late aunts nurse with a child and his own garage.  One snowy night an expensive car pulls up and Geneviève gets out.

If you don't like musicals then you won't like this, as it is entirely sung through, no talking!  It's also a very sentimental film with a lush score to match, but in the world of musicals that isn't really a detriment.  The music, by Michel Legrand, is very emotive with swelling strings and angelic harps.  The design on this film is a multicoloured treat, it makes other films look bland in comparison.  The performances are all very good, with Deneuve being the standout, especially in the second act.  

This is a real feel good film, despite the incredibly bittersweet ending, and really makes you wish that life was like a musical.  There aren't really any sing-a-long type songs here, it's more like an opera with themes coming in and out at different times, but the music is still instantly recognisable.  @ConI'd love to hear what you think about this one, it's so far away from anything you'd choose to watch on your own!  9/10

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Django

dir. Sergio Corbucci/1966/1h28m

Django (1966) movie posters

Django is a spaghetti western directed by Sergio Corbucci and stars Franco Nero as the title character.  The film starts with Django,  a wandering gunman wearing a Union uniform and  dragging a coffin behind him (a metaphor if ever I've seen one) rescue a prostitute being tortured by cronies of the evil Major Jackson, ex-Confederate officer.  He offers her protection and escorts her to town where he is drawn into a conflict between Jackson's gang and Mexican revolutionaries and a hunt for gold all culminating in the classic western tradition of a cemetery showdown.  

This is a very rough and ready film, you can tell it was shot fast and cheap, but with love.  It's unfair to compare this to the films of Leone, which transcend the originally derogatory label of spaghetti western to great cinema, whereas this sits firmly and comfortably in the world of the b-movie.  This is still a good film though, Corbucci doesn't have the artistry of Leone, but he can film a fight and make you feel like you're there in the blood and the beer.  Nero isn't close to Eastwood in terms of acting ability, but he looks like a badass and can shoot a gun.

This is an entertaining ride that makes you feel dirty at the end in the way a good b-movie should.  This is a must watch for any wester fans, or if you're looking for some chaotic action involving some badly dubbed scuzzballs.  I can see why Tarantino likes this so much.  8/10

*

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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Con

Fantastic stuff, Lime. I was only able to read the first three reviews but I know what I’ll be doing later tonight!

and that movie you suggested, while I can’t even pronounce the title, I will certainly look into it during my more vulnerable moments. hahaha

 

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djw180

Frantz (2016)

 

 

Set in 1919 Germany, Anna is a young woman who's fiancée, the title character, was killed in the First World War. She finds a young French man, Adrien, is leaving flowers on Frantz's grave. As Frantz had spent time in Paris before the war she assumes Adrien is a friend from that time. He tells her this is the case and about some of the things he and Frantz did. But you can tell this isn't the truth or at least not the whole truth and start to wonder what the real story is. Were Adrien and Frantz lovers, or maybe they met in battle as Frantz lay dieing? I won't spoil it by revealing what the truth is, but when that is eventually revealed to Anna about half way through the film it is very poignant.

Anna lives with Frantz's parents Hans and Magda. At first Hans won't have anything to do with Adrien. He is full of hatred for the French who he holds entirely responsible for his son's death. But as the whole family get to know Adrien his views change and there is a great scene where Hans is with a group of other middle aged German men, all lost sons in the war, all hate France. Hans points out what should have been obvious, but in the hyper nationalism of times like that people don't acknowledge, that the young French men were no different to the young German men, neither were their fathers, who like Hans encouraged their sons to fight, and die, for their country. So this is a story about people coming to terms with the aftermath of war and learning to respect, even love, those they used to hate. It's also about how sometimes a lie can be better, kinder, than the truth, as Frantz's parents are comforted by image of their son Adrien creates for them, that Anna eventually learns is not the truth.

 

It's beautifully shot, mainly in black and white, but some scenes in colour. Why those scenes were in colour wasn't always clear, so that is minor negative criticism from me. Some were definitely when one of the characters was talking or thinking about Frantz. Looking back maybe the colour scenes where those telling the false story of Frantz and the mainly black and white were the truth. I might have to watch it again from the start to check that.

 

Anyway, very good, 9/10

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djw180

The Dig (2021) dir Simon Stone.

 

 

 

This is a new film, the story of archaeologist Basil Brown's discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure. This was one of the most important finds in the history of England. It was the burial tomb (actually a buried ship) of a 7th century Anglo Saxon king. That was a period in England's history that very little was known about at that time and is still referred to as 'The Dark Ages'. It should have made Basil Brown very famous, but it didn't because he wasn't part of the establishment and others who were moved in once they realised what he had found, but also because the find was made just before the outbreak of the Second World War so obviously the country had other priorities for a few years.

 

The film makes it clear this is a fictionalised account, but I believe most of the main characters are based on real people who were in the true story. They have just added a couple of characters, adjusted ages and made up a few plot elements to embellish the story. Ralph Feinnes is very good as Brown, as is Carey Mulligan as the land owner Edith Pretty. It's got some good landscapes and a good guide, I assume, to how archaeological digs are carefully planned and undertaken. It's the extra plot elements that detract from the story for me though. I would have preferred they stuck to the facts and not brought in elements of romance and tension related to the outbreak of the war. But well worth watching if you like a slow paced, historical, story type of film.

 

7/10

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Con

Bruno vs Tyson (2021)...4/5...

Documentary that follows the career of the great British Heavyweight Champion, Frank Bruno. I was a Mike Tyson fan so I was aware of the fight and can still remember how the media painted Bruno as an American hating Brit who talked a lot of sh*t. But after watching this, I realize that Bruno was not that guy, he was a humble man with a sledgehammer for a fist that was very much adored by the British public. All Bruno wanted was to fulfill his childhood dreams of becoming World Champion and in this doc we see why it took him 13 years and why he only held the belt for 6 months...and yes the then recently released from prison,  Mike Tyson has something to do with that. I enjoyed seeing just how much the U.K. embraced Frank Bruno throughout his entire career, the boxing highs and lows, and even his brief acting career. I liked the surprise at the end, I really didn't see it coming and it was very cathartic. Why should you watch it? You want to relive some of 1989 and 1996, the years Bruno got in the ring with Mike Tyson. Or you were a huge Frank Bruno fan and want to celebrate his life because he was a good person who endured racism and even hate from his own people all to fulfill a boxing dream.

 

 

 

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Con

Coming 2 America  (2021)...2/5...

Talk about a day late and MANY dollars short. That is the best way I can sum up my experience with this most anticipated sequel. Going into it my intuition told me that this wasn't going to work unless the story was better than the first, which was a simple prince out of water looking for a Queen in America storyline. How could they replicate the success of the first story? Learning that there was now a long lost son really intrigued me to find out how they would integrate Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) into the current version of New York as this would guarantee some creativity in the writing, or so I thought. Little did I know that this was not a film about finding the "b*stard" son, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler)  and more about how Lavelle would learn to live and rule in Zamunda, the fictional African country from the first film. So the writers take the prince out of water formula and just transfers all the elements to the son and the entire thing is so cut and paste, take the amazing bathing scenes from Part 1, all they do is have other characters experience the tradition....did we really wait thirty-years for the same gags?

Yes, nostalgia is fun and this had a family reunion vibe and we get  many returning actors from Part 1 but my analytical brain came to a halt when we see the barbershop characters from Part 1 since they were already aging in their 60's-70's back then, they would have to be in their 90's at minimum and they didn't seem to age at all. A better moment would have been for Akeem and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) walk up to the barbershop and see it closed and make us believe the men had all passed away and during his search for the son, have them come across the barbers in a nursing home cutting other resident's hair badly, that would have gotten a chuckle out of me instead of these time machine characters still working at the barbershop. They brought back many minor character cameos, remember the wife candidate that is left barking in Part 1, well she is back here and all she does is bark...this was not all that funny the second time, bring her back as a dog trainer of the Army and complete the joke, not just recycle it.  Leslie Jones was really funny and I was glad she got plenty of screen time as she did the best work with her script and I hope someone writes a great role for her instead of the same cast-typing she seems to get.  The pacing of this film is bad and the production design is put to shame by Part 1 , even the wardrobe looked like cheap costumes opposed to real African fashion we see in the first film.  Wesley Snipes also had an interesting character but that silly walk made him a caricature and he wasn't as menacing as they wanted him to come across, the PG-13 rating hurt since they could have thrown a funny torture scene to show how serious his character was about the military takeover of the kingdom. I was impressed at just how much the non-Eddie Murphy actors got as far as camera time. Eddie Murphy makes sure to stay on the outside of the film and let the others shine, which I felt was unselfish, plus Eddie Murphy doesn't look like he is in shape as he has a running scene and it looks painful for him. So you probably are asking did I laugh?    How could I when the film starts with King Jaffe Joffer's (James Earl Jones) funeral celebration, you see the King is dying but instead of throwing the party after his death, they have a party and they recreate the cool African-dance entrance from the first one but then we get cameos from Gladys Knight and she sings "Midnight Train to Zamunda", I sh*t you not!! We also get Salt 'n Pepa, yes, that Salt and Pepa and they sing "What a King" , oh I cringed so hard. But then Morgan Freeman begins to speak and I was like, what is he doing in this film??? Then the King says he is about to die and he dies. That launches the adventure and it's a disappointing one. Oh and the CGI lion....just brutal in every aspect. 

There is a message about acceptance, tolerance, outdated tradition, gender-equality, and fatherly love in this film,  but it seriously lacks the charm and comedy the first one seems to have in abundance. They replicated elements from Part 1 that were so endearing to fans of it like myself but new and creative things that would have made this a gem were nowhere to be found for me. I think if you never saw the first one you might find this amusing since you have no context  but I found it flat and uninspired, the opposite of the amazing original. I want to laugh at the silly not cringe and cringe I did. 

Edited by Con
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zmurko

Cheers @Con, you saved me from wasting 1h50min of my life by reading a 2min review. And I LOVED the original, was planning to watch this just because of how much I enjoyed the first one, even watched it couple of months ago and it still stands strong.

So Eddie Murphy said "f*ck you" with this sequel. Well we say "Yes, YES, f*ck YOU TOO!" then. 😒

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zmurko

Well, I watched The Irishman last night and I think it's still going. 😵 Damn, that thing is long, though surprisingly it doesn't drag and it's not boring. You just have to drink beer while watching it, so you'll need to go to the bathroom at least once and make a small break in between, stretch your legs etc. 😁

Just like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in their primes with great supporting cast. Definitely recommend it, you just need to have enough time to sit down and forget about everything (except beer and peeing) for 3.5-4h.

Interesting perspective on the whole mob scene back in the day, more from a big picture POV, but telling a story of one of the characters, an Irishman. There's Hoffa, Kennedys, Cuba, ... couple of decades worth of cars, ...

4.5/5 just because it could be at least 30-45min shorter.

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Con
5 hours ago, zmurko said:

Cheers @Con, you saved me 

So Eddie Murphy said "f*ck you" with this sequel. Well we say "Yes, YES, f*ck YOU TOO!" then. 😒

Yes, i say watch it if you are hungover or need to pass the time. Some people seem to like it but it’s mostly due to the throwback cameos. For me, it felt disjointed and “Coming to Zamunda” would have been a better title for what I watched. 
I’d really like to hear the opinions of people that have watched it and what they thought about it. 

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LimeGreenLegend

Another stupidly long post here, this time I'm reviewing all of the 70s films I've seen recently.  Expect borstal boys, Scorsese shorts and something incredibly controversial.

Bartleby

dir. Anthony Friedman/1970/1h18m

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Bartleby is a drama film directed by Anthony Friedman based on the Herman Melville short story but with the plot transplanted from 1850 New York to 1970s London.  It stars John McEnery as Bartleby, a young man who seems to have decided to totally disassociate himself from society.  The film starts with him getting a job as an audit clerk, but soon after he starts work he just refuses to do any more.  He is constantly saying "I would prefer not to", his meek politeness seeming to baffle and frustrate his boss (Paul Scofield).  His boss, rather than firing him, sees it as a challenge.  However, when he learns that Bartleby is living in the office he fires him and tells him to leave, but he would prefer not to.  

This causes his boss to move offices entirely to get away from this man, but when he learns that he has been taken to a mental hospital he shows some compassion by going to visit him.  This is a very slow moving film, even at this short length, but that matches the tone of the film so isn't really a negative, just a warning.  Watching this, I found myself echoing the bosses frustration with the character of Bartleby, but the more you see of him the more sympathetic you become.  The only times you see him outside of the office is when he's walking alone through the streets, occasionally stopping to stare in a shop window.  This is one of the saddest characters that I've ever seen, and McEnery does a great job with his performance.  

The direction is nothing special, at times this felt like a TV show, and the film is very brown and beige and not very attractive to the eyes, but a lot of England looked like that in the 70s, so I guess it's just being true to life.  I would recommend this if you're looking for a slow burn of a film that builds up to a pretty devastating ending.  7/10

(No trailer or clips from the film I'm afraid.  The only video I could find about this film is a short extract of a very funky piece from the score)

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Chinatown

dir. Roman Polanski/1974/2h10m

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Chinatown is a neo-noir film directed by a p*dophile and starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.  The film sees Nicholson playing private eye Jake Gittes, who at the start of the film is hired by a suspicious wife to follow her husband.  But he is soon drawn into a complicated conspiracy involving real estate deals and reservoirs all with a hint of murder.  And then there's the ending where a father who r*ped his daughter when she was underage gets to walk away scott-free to live with the child after the daughter he r*ped is killed.  Up until that point I think the movie is fantastic.

Nicholson is perfect casting as a film noir lead, he straddles the line between good and bad with ease.  The production and costume design are also on point, evoking the feeling of 30s L.A in every shot.  The same goes for the score, which is full of sleazy trumpets.  The direction is obviously brilliant.  Polanski, despite being absolute trash as a human being, could direct the sh*t out of a film.  He has taken the conventions of film noir and updated them to the New Hollywood aesthetic, giving them new life and meaning.

This is considered one of the greatest films of all time, and I can see that up to a point, but with who Polanski is, and what happens at the end of the film, I'm always left with a dirty feeling after the credits roll.  This is still worth watching though, and is a big must for any fans of crime thrillers.  7.5/10

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Italianamerican

dir. Martin Scorsese/1974/50m

Italianamerican (1974) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

Italianamerican is a short documentary film by Martin Scorsese in which he interviews his parents, Charles and Catherine, in their home in New York.  Even though this feels like a home movie, this is still a Scorsese picture, and the trademarks he had established early in his career are all here to see, the editing style, the use of music and archive footage that could have come from Mean Streets.  But here you also get to see Scorsese in shot, directing on the fly, motioning for the cameraman to zoom in or focus on a particular thing.  It really is fascinating watching a master of the craft at work.

The topics covered by Charles and Catherine will be familiar if you've seen enough Scorsese films, the immigrant experience, making a new life in America and most importantly, religion.  As well as that, you also get Mama Scorsese's legendary meatball recipe in full.  At one point in the film she even interrupts the interview, "I gotta go stir the sauce". 

The best thing about this film is Charles and Catherine, they have such a sweet relationship that is clearly full of love, the way she has a go at him for sitting so far away from her on the sofa is just the cutest.  I also love one section where they were talking about their childhoods and trying to one up each other about how poor they were, it really reminded me of Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen sketch.  

I would recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of Scorsese's who wants to see something different from anything else he's done, and just to anyone who wants to see a very loving portrait of a guy's parents, who are a blast to listen to.  Plus there's the meatballs.  9/10

(Again, no trailer for this, so here's a clip that focuses on Scorsese's mother Catherine, who appeared in several of his films, most notably Goodfellas, making her famous sauce)

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Murder by Death

dir. Robert Moore/1976/1h34m

Amazon.com: Movie Posters 27 x 40 Murder by Death: Posters & Prints

Murder by Death is a spoof murder mystery film from Robert Moore.  It was written by Neil Simon, theatre and film writer who has more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.  Previous to this he wrote stuff like Barefoot in the Park, The Heartbreak Kid and The Odd Couple.  The plot sees the five best detectives in the world invited to "dinner and a murder" by millionaire Lionel Twain (played by writer Truman Capote).  He makes a bet with the detectives, that they won't be able to solve the murder that will happen that evening, or he will give them a million dollars.  

However, the plot doesn't kick in properly until nearly an hour into the film.  The start of the film is concerned with introducing all of the characters and bringing them to the house.  These characters are all based on other fictional detectives, and the film has an excellent cast to bring them to life.  My favourites are David Niven and Maggie Smith as d*ck and Dora Charleston, upper-class English socialites based on Nick and Nora Charles from the film The Thin Man, and Peter Falk as Sam Diamond, based on the hardboiled noir detective Sam sp*de, with Falk's performance inspired by Humphry Bogart.  Alec Guinness gets to show off his comedy chops here (best seen in The Ladykillers) as the blind butler, who has some ridiculous but funny scenes with the deaf/mute cook (Nancy Walker, director of Can't Stop The Music).  Capote has a magnetic quality to him that makes his performance enjoyable even though he isn't a very good actor.  

And then there's Peter Sellers, maybe the best comedy actor ever, playing Sidney w*ng, based on the character Charlie Chan, and he plays it in a very cringey 70s sitcom yellowface "me so solly" kind of way.  It's just awkward to watch, though I did enjoy the scene where Capote berates him for his awful grammar.  It's just a very cliche and unfunny racial stereotype that thankfully seems to have stayed in the 70s.  

The film itself is pretty funny about half of the time, the other half is full of cheap gags and sound effects that are straight from a Saturday morning kids cartoon.  This is far from Simon's best work, but is still an enjoyable enough film if you're in the mood for a spoof.  6.5/10

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Eraserhead

dir. David Lynch/1977/1h29m

Eraserhead Posters and Prints | Posterlounge.co.uk

Eraserhead is an experimental horror film and the debut work by maybe my favourite filmmaker, David Lynch.  The film follows Henry (Jack Nance) as he learns that his girlfriend, Mary (Charlotte Stewart) is pregnant.  The baby arrives very quickly and is horrifyingly deformed and diseased.  Seriously, this baby will give you nightmares.  Unable to handle the constant screaming of the child, Mary runs off leaving Henry to take care of the child on his own.  After being plagued by visions of The Man in the Planet and The Lady in the Radiator, and seeing his neighbour and object of his lust with another man, Henry loses it and mutilates the child with a pair of scissors.  Then things get weird.  The baby becomes huge and his head turns into a planet.  Henry embraces The Lady in the Radiator as they are bathed in white light.

Lynch comes out of the gates with his trademark style in full force.  This is a bleakly surreal nightmare full of idiosyncratic characters and unsettling visuals.  There are things in this film you will never forget; the dancing roast chicken gushing blood, the most abstract s*x scene in film history which opens the film, Henry's nightmare where his head is replaced by that of his child's and the baby mutilation.  That last one is especially horrific.  Adding to this depressing atmosphere is the sound design, which Lynch did himself.  It's a constant industrial soundscape that becomes more and more oppressive as the film goes on.  It perfectly matches the desolate wasteland of a world in which this film takes place, like a bombed out city after a war.  

This is a near perfect film to me, but I can totally see that it's not for everyone.  Like a lot of Lynch's work it can be very obtuse at times and you may not know what you're seeing, but I would still recommend this to everyone because whether you like it or not it'll be an experience you'll never forget.  9.5/10

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American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince

dir. Martin Scorsese/1978/55m

American Boy: A Profile of: Steven Prince (1978) - Filmaffinity

American Boy is another short documentary by Martin Scorsese.  In many ways this is similar to Italianamerican; the use of archive footage and music, the editing style, seeing Scorsese on camera directing on the fly, but there is one thing that changes the tone entirely, the subject.  Steven Prince was a friend of Scorsese's as well as being Neil Diamond's road manager and a big time junkie for a long time.  He also played the gun salesman in Taxi Driver.  He brings such a frenetic, unpredictable, sometimes threatening atmosphere to the film.  This matches the setting.  Where Italianamerican was shot during the day with everyone eating meatballs, this is shot at night, possibly after getting back from a club, most probably involving cocaine, something Scorsese was heavily into at the time of this film.  

Prince must have been a legendary storyteller, and this film feels like he's pulling out all of his greatest hits at the behest of the other guests.  The one story that really stands out is the time he had to stab a needle of adrenaline into the heart of a woman who had od'd on heroin.  If that sounds familiar it's because Tarantino heard that story and put it in Pulp Fiction.  Another story that stuck in my mind is the time he was working at a petrol station and shot a guy who tried to rob him with a knife.  The way he describes shooting the guy is actually scary, like this dude is on the edge and anything could push him over.

The most interesting thing for me is the ending, where Prince and Scorsese almost get into an argument after Scorsese tells him to tell a story again, but more like how he told it before the cameras were on.  This bit of friction, and the pulling back of the curtain to see the filmmaking process was the thing that resonated with me the most after the film had finished.  

I prefer Italianamerican to this just because I like Charles and Catherine more than Steven.  If I had the choice I would much rather hang out with them eating meatballs than be in a room full of loudmouth cokeheads.  That aside, this is a really fascinating portrait of a very complicated man who is desperate to live life to it's fullest.  8.5/10

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Pretty Baby

dir. Louis Malle/1978/1h49m

Pretty Baby (1978 film) - Wikipedia

Pretty Baby is a historical drama from Louis Malle starring Susan Sarandon, Keith Carradine and a 12 year old Brooke Shields in her film debut as the titular Pretty Baby, Violet.  This is a very controversial film with a problematic ending, but I'll get to that later.  Hattie (Sarandon) is a prostitute living in a brothel in New Orleans in 1917 with her daughter, Violet, and a brand new baby boy.  One day a photographer, Bellocq (Carradine) comes to the brothel and falls in love with Hattie.  This makes Violet jealous, and not soon after Hattie marries a wealthy man and leaves Violet at the brothel, saying she'll come back for her after getting settled.  Violet's virginity is auctioned off in the second most uncomfortable scene in the film. 

Bellocq then turns his attentions toward Violet, as if she's a substitute for her mother.  They then start having a relationship. Since prostitution is about to be criminalised, and the brothel shut down, Bellocq moves Violet in with him.  The film ends with Bellocq taking a portrait of Violet.  A nude one.  During this they get into an argument and he starts shouting at her and physically throwing her out of the room.  During all of this they don't try to hide Violet's nakedness, and that is something I could have happily lived my life without seeing.  Violet's mother returns at the end of the film, and Violet decides to go with her and be a child for the first time in her life.

Putting the last ten minutes aside for a second, this is a very well made film with fantastic set and costume design and some really good performances, particularly by Shields, and Carradine (who'll be familiar to film club veterans from Ridley Scott's The Duellists) really nails the slimy, creepy, "nice guy" vibe.  If you like historical dramas then there is a lot to enjoy here, but that ending is just so unnecessary and exploitative (Shields has said that she had a great time filming this and didn't feel exploited while doing it, but it felt like it to me), that I can't really recommend it.  Maybe just skip the last ten minutes.  6.5/10

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Orchestra Rehearsal 

dir. Federico Fellini/1978/1h12m

Orchestra Rehearsal - Wikipedia

Orchestra Rehearsal is an Italian political satire film from Federico Fellini.  The plot sees an orchestra meeting in a run down church to rehearse with their demanding conductor.  At the start of the film several of the musicians introduce themselves and their instruments, each saying how theirs is the most important and most beautiful in the orchestra.  After the conductor makes strenuous, near impossible demands the orchestra goes on strike, egged on by the present union representatives.  The conductor goes to the back while the musicians go to the local pub for a break.  

After a power cut, the conductor returns to the main hall which has been trashed and covered in revolutionary graffiti, while the orchestra are violently protesting.  When the violence of the protest gets too much a deux ex machina appears in the form of a giant bulldozer ball smashing through the wall, reduching the place to rubble.  This seems to bring the orchestra and conductor together again, and they start to play, but soon the conductor starts making his ridiculous demands again.  

This is unlike any of Fellini's films that I've already seen, mostly his early work like I Vitelloni and Nights of Cabiria.  This is much more fantastical and allegorical than his earlier neo-realist films.  The self serving and egotistical musicians and the demanding but useless leader are a good metaphor for the Italian government at the time, and would still work today with many governments of the world, a group of people who should be working together to make beautiful music getting distracted by in-fighting and bureaucratic red tape.  

I prefer Fellini's other films to this, but this is still an entertaining and original movie.  I always enjoy watching lesser known films from legendary directors and this was a really fun watch that, at just over an hour long, really flew by.  7.5/10

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Scum

dir. Alan Clarke/1979/1h32m

Scum - Movie Quotes - Rotten Tomatoes

Scum is a British prison drama from Alan Clarke.  Set in a borstal, which was basically a prison for kids, Scum stars a scarily young Ray Winstone as Carlin, a new inmate arriving after being transferred from another borstal.  After being beaten by the "daddy" of the wing, Carlin soon gets him back in a brutal attack, snarling "I'm the daddy now".  Under his rule there is less bullying from both staff and other inmates, but after a suicide and a horrific gang r*pe, which was witnessed by a guard who did nothing and after which the victim also committed suicide, a riot breaks out.  Carlin is beaten and thrown in solitary and a minutes silence is called for the dead kids.

This is a grim and brutal film and was sadly very true to what these places were like before they were all closed a few years later.  Carlin, even though he is a brute, doesn't want to be violent but it's the only way to survive.  Winstone is brilliant in this, every scene he's in he is just bristling with intensity and unpredictability.  A lot of the rest of the cast aren't so great but it's never bad enough to ruin a scene.  The direction is classic British kitchen sink drama, no bells or whistles, very practical, almost documentary in style sometimes.

This is a great film but a hard watch.  The violence feels real, almost undramatic which seems to give it more intensity.  If you're looking for a hard edged prison film then you could do much worse than this cult classic.  8/10

***

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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djw180

Mank 2020 dir David Fincher

 

This is a biopic telling the story of Hollywood screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman, as he writes the screen play for Orson Welles' Citizen Kane in 1940.

The acting is very, very good. Gary Oldman as the title character and Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies (actress and partner of press baron William Randolph Hurst) are definitely worth their Oscar nominations. The rest of the cast is almost as good, such as Charles Dance as Hurst, Tom Burke, who seems like he was born to play Orson Welles, and Lilly Collins as Mank's secretary who types up the script he dictates whilst recovering from a major road accident.

It seems technically very good as well, although I'm, not really able to judge all the technical aspects, some of the scenes and shots, all in black and white, are very watchable, irrespective of the acting going on within them and it's made in a 40's style.

The story is very interesting, bringing in elements of Hollywood rivalries and 30s politics as numerous flash back scenes show Mank's experiences with Hurst, who he clearly bases Kane on (in Citizen Kane) and various Hollywood producers. It reminds me of one of Gore Vidal's US history novels (I did wonder if this was based on a screenplay he wrote that has only just got made, but that's not the case), and like those it is confusing at times. With a book I don't mind this so much, you can re-read passages if you think you might have missed something, but you don't really want to be rewinding and re-watching scenes in a film. If you have never seen Citizen Kane, and great film as that is I'm sure there are many people who have not, then there are aspects of the plot I think you would not understand. I think you need to know who William Randoph Hurst is before seeing the film as well. There's a number of other plot elements I just didn't get, one of which is very important and regards who exactly got credited with writing Citizen Kane. It also seems just a bit too long, something I very rarely say, although that's probably related to the plot confusion.

So technically well made and brilliantly acted though it may be, I do not agree with the best picture nomination for this.

7/10

 

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djw180

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) dir Aaron Sorkin

 

The is the story of the trial of anti-Vietnam war campaigners who organised or attended protests in Chicago in 1968 as it hosted the Democratic party's convention to nominate their candidate for the presidential election later that year. As the title says this is about the trial mainly, although of course it does include scenes from the actual protests. In 1969, shortly after Richard Nixon became president, they were charged with conspiracy to start riots that happened at the protests. The fact that the previous administration's justice department had decided not to charge them and the eventual outcome (that is told in the end credits) implies this was clearly a political, biased trial with the outcome never really in doubt. That is certainly how it is portrayed in the film, rather than a tense court room drama.

It has a very strong cast and screenplay, as reflected in it's recent award wins and nominations. Sacha Baron-Cohen (defendant Abie Hoffman) is very good, but I'm not sure it's a Oscar worthy performance. Mark Rylance (their lawyer William Kunstler), Michael Keaton (in a short, almost cameo role, as former Attorney General Ramsey Clark), Eddie Redmayne (defendant Tom Hayden) and Frank Langella (as the extremely biased judge Julias Hofman) could easily have got nominated as well for me. It's obviously a serious story but has elements of humour as well. The humour tends to come from the two Hoffmans. For example when Judge Hoffman interrupts the prosecution opening address to explain to the jury that he is not related to defendant Hoffman. The latter is a comedian activist and there are numerous flash backs, and a couple of flash forwards I think, of his routines based on events from the demonstrations and the trial.

I'm not sure this is worthy of winning the best picture Oscar, but it is a very good film, 8/10.

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Con
1 hour ago, djw180 said:

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) I'm not sure this is worthy of winning the best picture Oscar, but it is a very good film, 8/10.

I agree. I was surprised to see it nominated for Best Picture. I get the message but I did feel like the end was sort of bland, not because I knew the outcome but because I didn’t feel the “triumph” in the courthouse. I didn’t think this separated itself from similar films in the genre. My thoughts on it can be found on Page 40. 

Edited by Con
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LimeGreenLegend

Mary and Max

dir. Adam Elliot/2009/1h30m

Mary and Max Movie Posters From Movie Poster Shop

Mary and Max is an Australian stop-motion animated film starring Bethany Whitmore/Toni Collette as Mary (as a young girl and young woman respectively) and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Max.  Mary is an 8 year old girl in suburban Australia with an alcoholic mother and an apathetic father and Max is a clinically obese middle aged man with Aspergers syndrome living alone in Ney York City.  Mary has a lot of questions about life, and since she doesn't get any answers from her parents she decides to write a letter to a random person in a phone book she finds in the post office.  

This random person turns out to be Max, and so begins a pen pal friendship that is one of the sweetest, most real, and most heart-breaking that has ever been committed to film. At it's core this is a film about loneliness and basic human connection.  Both leads have no friends, and Mary may as well live alone with the parents she has.  All they need is someone to talk to, someone who will listen.  A friend.  And despite the vast differences between these two characters, geographically, physically, mentally, emotionally, they find that connection.  

The animation in this film is top class stop motion using clay, so everything has a hand-made feeling.  The design is really unique and, at first, slightly grotesque.  But the more time you spend in this world the more you grow to love the aesthetic.  The direction makes full use of the freedom that animation provides with some really interesting sequences, but it never gets wacky or crazy, it always feels grounded in it's own reality. I also love the way the film uses colour.  New York is depicted as a gothic world of black and white while suburban Australia is a sepia tinged autumnal world of various shades of brown.  

The performances are fantastic.  Seymour Hoffman is gruff but kind hearted as Max, and Whitmore as young Mary is perfectly naive and precocious while Collette's young adult Mary has an optimism and confidence to her that belies the childhood she had.  The supporting cast is great too.  Eric Bana makes a brief appearance as Mary's neighbour and crush Damien Popodopoulos and Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) is perfect as The Narrator.  His narration giving the film a storybook quality.

This is an incredible film.  It's funny, sad, hopeful and, in the character of Max, has probably one of the best depictions of Aspergers that I've ever seen, having some experience working with people with it.  I highly recommend this to everyone, this is one of the best animated films I've ever seen.  I laughed, I cried, I learnt that a turtle can breathe through its an*s.  10/10

 

 

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BLACK MIRROR: Bandersnatch (2018) dir David Slade

 

 

 

This is an interactive film on Netflix, written by Charlie Brooker who wrote the Black Mirror TV series. Set in 1984, which I think is no coincidence, it's about a young man, Stefan (Fion Whitehead) who is writing an adventure computer game based on a fantasy adventure novel called Bandersnatch. For those who are too young to remember, these novels and games tended to take the form of telling you a situation and giving a simple choice of what to do next, e.g. 'you are in a room with exits north and south'. In a computer game you'd type N or S to move in your chosen direction and the screen would refresh with text describing the new location. In the books each page would be a different room or situation, in random order, and you'd be told which page to turn to next to go North or a different page for South. What Stefan is writing in the film is more complex; it has graphics and you control what you do with a joystick. The book he is basing it on is very complex as well and we're told has multiple different endings and paths to reach them. So for the time the game he is attempting to write is quite advanced.

The interactive element of the film takes the same form as those games and books. Through your TV remote, or whatever you use to access Netflix, you get to choose what Stefan does next at certain stages. They are simple choices with two options. The first one is a choice of two breakfast cereals, the next a choice of two options for what music he listens to. But later on in the film the choices become more significant and can lead to characters being killed or the film ending early, e.g. one option will lead to the game being rushed to market and being a complete flop. In these cases, just like in a computer game, you just 'reload' from the last checkpoint and replay, the film quickly recapping what had happened up to that point, and then you choose other options (or not if you just want to watch the same thing happen again).

There are other major plot elements. One is to do with the death of Stefan's mother when he was aged 5, which he blames himself for and is seeing a psychiatrist about. The final ending of the film seems to depend on how you resolve this, because there are multiple final endings to the film depending on what choices you the viewer have Stefan make. Which brings us to the other major plot element to do with Stefan eventually realising he is not in control, someone else is making decisions for him and at one point you the viewer, through the options given you on screen, have to try to explain to Stefan that he is in an early 21st century interactive film on a online streaming service called Netflix!

I have watched this twice now and have to say although it is a very clever concept, it is just too complex for me. I did get different endings each time, but not that different really. There are, apparently, very different endings you can reach, but I have no idea what I would have to do different to see those. The second time I obviously knew not to make certain choices that would end the film early and made a point of choosing different options that seemed significant. But apart from one extra scene being included and also getting stuck in a loop at one point that made me 'replay' a section three times, it wasn't that different. There was also a couple of times when I made the other choice to what I did first time and it seemed to make no difference at all, e.g. one point Stefan gets into a fight and both options before this lead to the exact same fight scene. So there must be things I missed that make the film go down a significantly different path, but I have no idea what they would be and really no desire to watch all those same scenes again to find out. The basic story is interesting, but not so interesting I want to watch mostly the exact same film all over again to get a few different scenes or ending. Maybe Charlie Brooker excepts us to 'cheat' and look up on-line what you need to do to trigger the more interesting parts missed, as you would if you got stuck in a game?

It's worth watching for the interactive experience but seems to have too many over complicated or non-obvious elements. But those are important to the enjoyment of the film. It wouldn't be that great a film if it was just one path to one ending with no interaction from the veiwier. So a 5/10 for me.

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