What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:18 pm

Spandau kicks it old school!

Last weekend we had a blizzard, so I decided to stay in watch a series of loosely similiar movies. I checked out KRUSH GROOVE, WILD STYLE, BREAKIN', and BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO. And for the sake of diversity, I revisited two movies about how white folks spend their leisure time: RAD and WHIP IT.

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KRUSH GROOVE is the fictionalization of the early days of Russell Simmons's Def Jam record company in the early days of hop-hop. The guy playing Russell Simmons is one of very few professional actors in the film, the others are all rap acts playing themselves. The film gives the most screen time to Run DMC and The Fat Boys, and also features Kurtis Blow, Sheila E., LL Cool J and others. The plot is pretty standard stuff about the various challenges of "makin' it" as a performer, but where the film excels is in its ability to capture the joy of live music, both performing and watching.

This is a total PURPLE RAIN type of movie that focuses most on performances and I really enjoyed seeing a lot of these acts back when they were a little less polished. The film was made in 1985, so it was verymuch in the moment. I'll also admit that I hadn't really thought about just how much rap has changed since this era. The rap you hear in this movie has so little in common with the rap you would hear from today's rappers. I also generally feel there is less nostalgia among rap fans. You don't see the fond looking back on the early 80s rap the way you see with nostalgia for 60s and 70s rock music. I had a great time watching this era in this movie.

WILD STYLE focuses on the graffiti scene of early 80s New York, but it devotes plenty of time to rap performances and breakdancing. The filmmaking is incredibly raw/sloppy using real kids from these burroughs of New York instead of professional actors and the plotting is all over the place with one major plotline that is left dangling at the end of the movie and I can't tell if that was on purpose or if they just couldn't get around to filming a conclusion to that plotline.

Unlike KRUSH GROOVE, there isn't as obvious a reason for using non-actors since they don't actually have to perform like the rappers in KRUSH GROOVE, but I found using real kids gave it more authenticity and that's the real point of this movie: to capture this scene, not to deliver drama.

Both WILD STYLE and KRUSH GROOVE are excellent time capsule movies that feel so sincere. They both capture the joy of doing something creative and the feeling of the early 80s New York hiphop culture.

Over in the Golan-Globus thread, TheBaxter and I had a spot of tea and discussed the BREAKIN' films, which I enjoyed, but they are much more of a polished studio product than KRUSH GROOVE or WILD STYLE. They are definately more like a FLASHDANCE type of movie, or like the STEP UP films that they would later inspire. I thought Lucinda Dickey, the leading lady of the BREAKIN' films was hot, and Baxter encouraged me to check out her other main Golan Globus film, NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, which I will do. It will be arriving on blu-ray this year and so I might even be getting some hi-def Dickey! Yay!

RAD was a movie I saw several times as a child because this trashy family I hung out with watched it all the time. Hal Needham took a break from directing Burt Reynolds car comedy flicks to make this film about teenage BMX bikers. The movie is pure 80s cheese complete with ROCKY style montages accompanied by the obligatory rock songs with inspirational lyrics about believing in yourself, and they even get Adrian Balboa herself to play the lead kid's mum. The other main professional actress in the film is the lady who played Uncle Jesse's wife on FULL HOUSE. She was really hot back in the day and it's pretty funny to watch them try to replace her with a stunt double with an obvious wig always being shot facing away from the camera whenever she does anything on a bike.

A couple strange things hit me while watching RAD. I couldn't get it out of my head how much Ryan Gosling's character in the upcoming THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is styled like the main rival character in this movie. I realize there are only so many ways you can part a dude's hair 'n shit, but I'd like to think that Derek Cianfrance is a fan of RAD and is making some sort of nod to it. The other strange thing is that Mongoose is a real company who must've paid to have their product placed in this movie, yet they're depicted as corrupt. The Mongoose executives actually rig the BMX race so that their poster boy can win. It surprised me that a company would want to be depicted this way.

The film is lots of fun cheese, but the cheesiest moment definately goes to the scene where they actually disco dance on BMX bikes:



And finally there's WHIP IT, which is both the most modern of these films (although in my mind it has a very old school feel) and it is also the film cast completely with professional Hollywood actors. Since the film focuses on the drama, I think it was good to go with actors instead of casting non-actor real rollerderby girls. I am a rollerderby fan, and from my experience I find this movie really captures the atmosphere and commraderie of rollerderby. Drew Barrymore does a good job as director getting the right tone. She keeps it light, but it never becomes a cartoonish farce like the various SLAP SHOT knockoffs we've seen over the years.

The sport is changing and evolving and this movie is already becoming a time capsule itself. The sport is still mostly played as a hobby. I have heard of some rollerderby reality shows that probably compensate the women they film, but as far as I know, rollerderby has yet to really go pro. There's no David Beckham of rollerderby yet. Nobody living the rock star life off of big contracts and endorsements. But that time will probably come soon enough and then this movie will look as dated (I mean that term endearingly) as KANSAS CITY BOMBER looks compared to WHIP IT. WHIP IT has a very formula teen movie plot about finding a community, but I think it does a good job of making that formula touching and funny and so I always enjoy revisiting this film.

So that was my old school weekend. It was a total blast! Glad I did it!
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby so sorry on Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:13 pm

Totally awesome dude.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:26 am

Spandau Belly wrote:I thought Lucinda Dickey, the leading lady of the BREAKIN' films was hot, and Baxter encouraged me to check out her other main Golan Globus film, NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, which I will do. It will be arriving on blu-ray this year and so I might even be getting some hi-def Dickey! Yay!


holy shit! that is SO BOUGHT!

although part of me feels like it's a betrayal of my youth to watch this film on anything other than a shitty VHS copy. but the promise of 1080p Dickey is too hard to resist.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:53 pm

So I did finally get around to seeing THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, then I went back and read the discussion from you guys. I will say that as the movie went along, I was definately expecting a twist. They kept dropping hints throughout the film about the protagonist having a loose grasp on reality etc. The problem is probably my own. These hints got me expecting a much worse twist than the one we got. By the mid-point in the movie I was absolutely convinced that the g@y guy and the Harry Potter girl were going to turn out to be the protagonist's imaginary friends like all those movies they made back in the 90s when FIGHT CLUB was all fresh. And that would a pretty shitty movie, so with that in my mind, I'll admit that I kept the movie at arms length because as much as I liked what I was seeing, I kept dreading the BEAUTIFUL MIND moment that never happened. So when the movie actually turned out to be about the protagonist's repressed sexual abuse at the hands of his now dead aunt, this was much better than what I had feared.

I will agree with the general opinion that it is ridiculous that this group of youngsters would not know 'Heroes' by David Bowie. I will also say the film generally did a horrible job at establishing that it was set in the early 90s (I'm looking at you costume and hair department).

I was somewhat confused by the protagonist's best friend committing suicide before the start of the film. Did that actually happen? Or was that just a cover story that he felt more comfortable telling than discussing the trauma with his aunt? I forget whether any of his family every mentioned the dead best friend, so at the end of the film I was still unclear as to whether that happened or not.

I generally liked the movie and found it did a really good job of staying with the characters through long scenes in which they show vulnerability and damage in what I felt was a realistic way. I would probably enjoy it more a second time without the fear that a bunch of the characters were going to turn out to be imaginary.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby BuckyO'harre on Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:40 am

Spandau Belly wrote:I was somewhat confused by the protagonist's best friend committing suicide before the start of the film. Did that actually happen? Or was that just a cover story that he felt more comfortable telling than discussing the trauma with his aunt? I forget whether any of his family every mentioned the dead best friend, so at the end of the film I was still unclear as to whether that happened or not.



Yes, that really happened, but I'm having trouble thinking of any particular scene where his existence is acknowledged by anyone other than Charlie.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:35 am

Yeah, usually in movies they would have Charlie look at a photo of his dead best friend or something, and it seemed like his family never explictly mentioned the dead friend and I don't think Charlie talks about the friend around his family. So there is no evidence of the dead friend's existence. That's why I thought maybe Charlie just made up a dead best friend so he could talk about his problems without admitting that they are his own.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:27 am

the reason no one else mentions the best friend is because he only ever talked to him by email, and turns out it was a hoax by noted Manti Teo über-prankster, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby RogueScribner on Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:36 pm

I've read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I've seen the movie.

Without going into spoilers, I will say that a major theme of the story is identity and how one comes to define it. Do you let other people tell you who you are? Do you know who you are? If you're "different" do you own it or try to hide it? Do you try to be someone else? How long can that last? Do you even like who you are? This theme gets explored through all the main characters in various ways.

Charlie's mom was abused and grew up submissive. His father is the strong silent type whom no one really knows. Charlie reflects both of his parents.

Charllie equates love with sex, due to his abuse from his Aunt. His Aunt was sexually abused as a child and her parents didn't believe her. So the abuse continued and her life was ruined by it. The book goes into more detail, but outwardly Charlie's mom was the good, stable one while his aunt was the wild card, never quite getting her act together. Charlie is obviously very confused over love and sex which is why, while he is attracted to Sam, he tries to just put her in the friend category (because he's not allowed to love her) and later on he lets Patrick kiss him not because Charlie is g@y but because he wants Patrick to know he loves him.

Charlie's sister suffers similar abuse as her mother from her boyfriend, but eventually broke the cycle and stood up for herself. Mary Elizabeth was an "intellectual" whose self-esteem was tied to her sexual attractiveness to men. She constantly asked Charlie if he thought she was pretty and made sexual advances towards him. He was pretty submissive to her opinions but since he didn't love her, he shied away from her sexual advances. They broke up and ME found what she needed with someone else: a man who had confidence and his own opinions that she could be in an equal relationship with.

Sam was the "bad girl" who got a reputation as a freshman who eventually bought into what people thought of her. She never expected to amount to anything because because she felt she wasn't worth anything. Charlie changed that and she realized she wasn't her reputation, that she was actually a smart and nice young woman and she got into college with Charlie's help.


There's a reason The Rocky Horror Picture Show figures so prominently in the story. This whole movie is about identity and repression (look at Patrick's relationship with the football guy). Charlie felt guilty about Aunt Helen's death and defended her or talked her up to other people. He truly loved her and what she did for him. But deep inside, the trauma of her abuse ate away at him. Sex = love which is why he's distant from his parents and doesn't have any close friends. He can't differentiate between different types of love people have for another without sex being a factor.

I had the benefit of reading teh book before seeing the movie, so maybe it played a little differently for me. The ending didn't seem like some shock-twist. I do think Aunt Helen could have been set up a little better, but how much detail can you really get into? In the book, I had an inkling that might have happened, but I guess I can see in the movie where it wouldn't seem that way.

Anyhoo, I really liked the movie and plan on getting the blu-ray at some point. I'd love to hear the commentary for it.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:27 pm

yeah, sounds like the book fleshes things out and incorporates that story throughout instead of just shoehorning it in at the end. no surprise there. i do think they could have done a better job of streamlining the book to make it work better as a movie while still retaining that storyline throughout rather than clobbering you over the head with it at the very end, and the movie would have benefitted from that.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby minstrel on Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:39 pm

I just got Argo and Life of Pi on Blu-Ray and watched both. I'll review both in detail this weekend, I think. In the meantime:

I really liked Argo - it had a witty script and somehow Ben Affleck managed to keep ratcheting up the tension even though we know how it all turns out in the end. (BTW, I met former Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor once, shortly after the events of the movie. He was a fraternity brother of my dad's, and one time we had a fraternity party at our house and he showed up. A TV news crew came to interview him on our driveway ... weird.)

Life of Pi is an incredibly beautiful film to look at. I'm very impressed with the teenage actor they got to play Pi. This was his first movie, and they built the whole film around him, and he's amazingly good in it. I still haven't figured out whether I love or hate the ending - I probably won't know for sure until I read the book, which is in my Amazon shopping cart right now.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:49 am

Thanks RogueScribner for your comparison of the novel versus the film of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. I would say, based on your comments, that some of that stuff got cut completely, some of it got changed a little bit, and some it is probably a matter of one's interpretation.

I would say anything about Charlie's mum and aunt's relationship and the differences in their personalities was mostly cut from the film.

As for Mary Elizabeth, I'm not sure if she got changed from the novel or if she just seemed different to me. In the film, she was the least damaged of the main characters and the only one not living with some sort of shameful secret. She mostly just seemed like what I would call a "normal" girl. She seemed to have a sense of herself but also still needed some sort of approval from others, kinda like most people in my opinion.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:55 am

minstrel wrote:Life of Pi is an incredibly beautiful film to look at. I still haven't figured out whether I love or hate the ending - I probably won't know for sure until I read the book, which is in my Amazon shopping cart right now.


I read the novel ten years ago, and as far as I remember, the film is an incredibly faithful adaptation. Off the top of my head I couldn't think of anything that got cut or changed or even moved around. So I don't know if the ending/message will feel any different on the page than it did on the screen for you. It didn't for me. Ang Lee realized this movie exactly as a pictured it while reading the novel. I still can't believe Lee was able to pull this movie off. I remember when they first started talking about making a movie out of it, I thought it was generally unfilmable. The only way I saw it working was if Miyazaki or somebody like that did it as a completely animated movie. But Lee made it work.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:49 am

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I rented THE THIEVES last night. This is a big Chinese-Korean co-production from 2012 that features a large ensemble cast of actors from Korea and China in a big casino heist caper. The film is verymuch mainstream blockbuster entertainment with all the infiltration sequences and twists you expect from one of these big heist movies. The film is not very original, owing a lot to OCEAN'S 11, but it is really well done. The story is very tight and the twists just keep coming. As the various members of the heist crew reveal their alterior motivations and the various sub-heists, counter-heists, crosses, double-crosses, triple-crosses all get introduced, the film kept me paying attention and wondering who or which combination of players was going to come out on top. It's like a shell game that juggles a lot of balls in a house of cards with an ace up its sleave and still manages to pick your pocket while also being a one-armed drummer. And although there are big twists, the film generally feels like it plays fair with the audience. The film manages to keep a fun and often humorous tone without sacrificing the sense of danger or the connection with the characters. Even though the characters are very slick, none of them ever feel invincible. And even though there is a large cast, I could always keep track of the characters and they all felt different and consistent.

Some of the humor was lost on me because a fair amount of it is culturally specific and based on the linguistics of languages I do not speak. There are several jokes about how these various cultures relate to each other that are probably funny if you are from there or know how Koreans stereotype Japanese people etc. Also, my ears cannot pick up the difference between the Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean and there are times when one group of characters will speak in one language so that they can insult or backstab the other group right in front of them and get away with it. It probably would've helped if the subtitles put in little tags like [speaking Korean] and [speaking Cantonese] at times.

I think this is a really entertaining popcorn movie. I think anybody who likes OCEAN'S 11 type ensemble heist movies will have a great time. There's another group of people that I think would love this movie: people who love to say "I totally saw that coming" after said twist has occurred. Those people will love this movie, it will give them loads of opportunities to try to look smart in front of their friends.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:28 pm

Tried watching V/H/S on Netflix last night. Made it thirty minutes in, which is more of a chance than it deserved. What a piece of shit.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:08 am

so since my new TV has 3D (not by choice, but you really can't buy a tv without 3D without really really trying these days), i figured i'd test out the 3D by watching Avatar. yes, this was my first time watching this film.

overall i thought it was pretty good. too long, characters were thin, a bit cliche'd and unoriginal, sure. the film works more as spectacle than as a compelling story. but just as far as eye candy, at least, it's pretty impressive. it all feels a bit cartoon-y still, CGI hasn't yet progressed to the point where the world and the blue people feel like actual things that actually exist. made the movie feel kinda video game-y at times. but the action, and the final battle especially, were still very good. i kept looking for michael biehn though. what, he was too busy/expensive to play the marine colonel guy? maybe he was one of the blue people...

as for the 3D, this tv has passive 3D (so basically the same thing as in theaters). it was ok. basically looked the same as movie theater 3D, though not as immersive since my tv doesn't have a 100-foot-tall screen. and i still have the same issues with it that i have with theater 3D. objects in the foreground have that shimmery, not quite solid look to them, almost like you can see through them at times. blurry and moving objects screw with my eyes; unlike real life, if there's a blurry object in the foreground, focusing on it doesn't make it un-blurry*. and the 3D elements still looks like a bunch of 2D cardboard cutouts set at varying distances from your eyes. objects are missing that subtle depth to them that would make individual people or objects by themselves look 3 dimensional. so it hasn't really changed my negative opinion on 3D any. it's kind of a neat gimmick from time to time, but not something i'll be watching with any frequency.




* i think the time i will finally buy in to 3D is when you can actually focus/unfocus on the 3D elements with your eyes. for example, if you sit back and hold up your finger a foot in front of your face, and focus on your finger, it's clear and in focus, and stuff behind your finger is blurry. now focus on something beyond your finger, and now it's your finger that looks blurry. now THAT is true 3D. when 3D technology can recreate that, THEN it will be something worthwhile.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby DerLanghaarige on Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:37 am

So I'm trying to figure out which movie that I didn't like (or worse) deserves a 2nd chance from me next week. You opinion counts!
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:00 am

I dunno, dude. Based on your writings here in The Zone, I think you just don't like Tarantino or Nolan's styles of filmmaking and so you should probably just stop watching their movies. I don't think revisiting films that you already know you don't like is going to do you any good.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby travis-dane on Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:08 am

Spandau Belly wrote:I dunno, dude. Based on your writings here in The Zone, I think you just don't like Tarantino or Nolan's styles of filmmaking and so you should probably just stop watching their movies. I don't think revisiting films that you already know you don't like is going to do you any good.


But he likes to bitch about them. :wink:
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby DerLanghaarige on Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:37 am

I actually like Nolan! THE PRESTIGE is one of my favourite movies! It's just that his Batman movies failed to connect with me (BEGINS is IMO pretty okay, but nothing special) and I expected more from INCEPTION. I can see that a 2nd viewing could fix that.

And with Tarantino, well, it's been 8 years since I watched one of his movies, that wasn't RESERVOIR DOGS or directed by someone else the last time, so maybe I softened up or got dumber or something and enjoy them now.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby so sorry on Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:14 am

DerLanghaarige wrote:So I'm trying to figure out which movie that I didn't like (or worse) deserves a 2nd chance from me next week. You opinion counts!



You HATE the original Red Dawn???? That's UNAMERICAN dammit!

Oh wait, you're not American....carry on. :oops:


P.S. Watch Red Dawn again.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:43 pm

TIGHTROPE

I rented this less-famous 80s Clint Eastwood flick last week, and I had somewhat mixed feelings on it, so I figured I would talk about it. The guy who wrote the screenplay got the chance to direct this film, but he was overwhelmed by the responsibility and so Clint himself ended up ghost-directing this one and it's pretty obvious. It's got that same somber minimalist vibe that all the movies Clint directs do.

Clint once again plays a detective, but this character isn't just Dirty Harry under another name. He feels like a much more realistic character and isn't given the big tough guy moments and snappy lines that Callahan gets. Clint's character in this one is a cop struggling with his sexual identity. After years of investigating crimes in which women are brutalized and killed, he reached the conclusion that he should be more sensitive to his wife and was punished for it. She left his ass. Because let's face it, if you wanted some guy to snuggle and ask you how your day was you'd marry Tom Hanks; you marry Clint Eastwood because you want to feel those big alpha male nuts smacking against your ass. Clint is angry about how he was treated by his ex-wife and has confused feelings towards women. He frequents prostitutes and likes to dominate them to help work out his aggression. His ex-wife left him as a busy single father of two daughters who are starting to ask questions about sexuality and so Clint also struggles with the hypocracy of not wanting anybody to treat his daughters the way he treats women. Clint is put on the case of a serial killer who kills some prostitutes that Clint has fucked and Clint starts to see his own dark side in the killer.

The detective work and mystery plotline take a distant back seat to Clint's internal struggles and that's fine with me. I liked seeing a movie dealing with issues of masculinity this way. The problem is that they just kinda wrap it up like any given cop movie. Some guy in the lab gives Clint a clue, they close in on the killer, some chasing, fighting, killer is taken down, the end. I'm not saying I wanted Clint to find some one big answer to all his issues, in fact, I liked that he didn't resolve all his problems by the end of the film. But I think I would've liked him to have some sort of realization and for his internal struggles to have some sort of climax. I think if they got some fucked-up guy like Paul Schrader to take a pass at this script he probably would've found a way to bring this stuff to some kind of head. It's been a long time since I've seen CRUISING, but I think I remember that movie managed to do the whole cop-struggling-with-his-sexuality thing and have the cop stuff and the internal struggles gel a bit better.

So as it is, it's an interesting movie with a good dark performance from Clint, it just wraps up a little less satisfying than I would've liked.

Oh, and Sondra Locke is not in this because the studio told Clint audiences were sick of seeing them together on screen.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:38 pm

Spandau Belly wrote:Oh, and Sondra Locke is not in this because the studio told Clint audiences were sick of seeing them together on screen.


I thought he left her for Clyde. I don't know, I may have to look into this.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:04 pm

HE GOT GAME

This was a Spike Lee joint that I had every intention of seeing during its initial theatrical run and somehow only got around to seeing 15 years later. I would say the film is pretty original. I've seen many other movies about estranged fathers and sons reconnecting, but the whole setup and dynamic in this one felt really original.

The film is about a young man, named Jesus Shuttlesworth, who is finishing secondary school and he is the top pro basketball prospect in USA. He is being courted by colleges as well as the pro league with endless bribes and ass-kissing. He is surrounded by tons of phonies and hangers-on who are all trying to influence him or get their piece of the wealth they assume he will soon have. Jesus's father, played by Denzel Washington, is a convict allowed one week out of prison to try and influence his son Jesus to go to the state university because the governor of the state would consider it a huge prestige to have Jesus playing in the state university. Denzel has been offered a substantial reduction to his 15 year murder sentence if he can convince his son to go to the state university. So the dynamic is pretty straightforward. Denzel is no longer paying a debt to all of society for his crime, it's now his son who is keeping him in prison or not.

With the main character being named Jesus there are obviously a lot of parallels to Jesus H. Christ. It's a story about a man who was given a destiny by his father (Denzel trained him ruthlessly to become a great basketball player), he is worshipped and faces huge amounts of pressure and temptation as he gets gets closer achieving his purpose, although in this film his purpose is not a violent death. Spike generally shows a steady hand in keeping these Christ parallels from getting tacky, but I think going for a score that sounds like it's out of a Biblical movie was a bit much and sometimes distracting. There's a part where Jesus is having a row with his girlfriend, Rosario Dawson, and this loud score that sounds right out of BEN-HUR is almost drowning them out.

But the drama is well built and the characterization is solid. As usual, Spike Lee's strength is being able to present deeply flawed characters that can still be liked or at least understood. Denzel's character is gradually revealed as a man who simply cannot process his anger. The film has a subplot involving Denzel bonding with a prostitute played by Milla Jovovich, which I think was designed to make him a little more vulnerable to the audience, but I think this suplot should've been cut. It felt cliché and didn't fit with the rest of the movie. Spike probably should've written a few more scenes of Denzel bonding with his other kid (a little girl) instead.

Overall, this was a really satisfying and original drama and I am glad I watched it.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:52 pm



RAW FORCE
(aka KUNG-FU CANNIBALS)

With his re-election prospects looking grim and writers block stumping his follow-up to 'Mein Kampf', Adolf Hitler persues a new career selling jade figurines to tourists in South East Asia. Things are going pretty well, he locates a jade mine on Warriors Island, which is guarded by some monks. The monks don't drive too hard a bargain. In exchange for their jade all they want is live sexy girls to feed to zombie warriors. The island is the burial ground for disgraced warriors who kill themselves, but I guess they're not that disgraced since they are given proper burials and monks tend to them. I've known lots of people who I wouldn't consider disgraced at all and I never see a monk putting a ham sandwich on their graves.

As Hitler already knew, victory never lasts. A tour group for badassed asskickers (like those cruises for singles, or old people) organizes a cruise to Warriors Island. And even though somebody has obviously already been Warriors Island to make the travel brochure, Hitler is worried that a boat load of badasses showing up on the shores of Warriors Island will draw unwanted attention to his business of selling girls as meals to the monks who tend to kung-fu zombies. So Hitler destroys their boat in an action sequence that has an odd Benny Hill vibe to it, and all this causes them to wash up on Warriors Island anyway, except they have no boat so they have all this time to investigate the island.

The badasses meet the monks, who offer to help them if they participate in a tournament against the undead champions. I probably would've liked it if the badasses had at least gone along with the tournament for a little while, but the badasses are surprisingly swift and show good reason in distrusting monks in a cannibal zombie cult and say "Fuck that!" and bolt. They fight past the undead warriors, kick Hitler into a pool of piranhas, steal his plane and escape.

The end of the movie says 'To be continued...' but I don't think they ever made the sequel, unless it has a totally different cast and title. But unlike a lot of modern would-be franchise starters, I really felt like I got a complete narrative. I realize there's good potential for a sequel either involving them going back to the island to destroy it, or maybe something new with Stalin and pirates in the Bermuda Triangle; so I would like to see this series continued. This was a really good time at the movies.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:23 am

Just finished Terrence Malick's TO THE WONDER, which I think I can safely say is easily his least plot-heavy film to date. The film is also light on character development, dialogue, scenes in which things happen, and other stuff you might expect to see in movies.

Now, I happen to think that whether or not you find this film good depends almost solely on whether you are a fan of Malick's films or not. If you do not like his films, this one will not convert you. And even if you do like Terrence Malick there is still a good chance that this one will leave you cold.

Personally, on first viewing I'd say this is one of his lesser efforts. It seems less focused (Christ, is that the word?) than his other films. All I could truly take from the film was that everybody was unhappy. Although religion is featured prominently in the film I wouldn't go so far as to call the film religious. Even a film like TREE OF LIFE was about something, while this one feels like it is trying its hardest to be about nothing.

Having said that, I liked it and plan to buy the Blu-Ray soon so I can watch it again.

If you are on the fence about seeing this, here are a few things that might convince you:

1) It is very nice to look at, being beautifully shot and featuring attractive women without clothes.
2) It is under two hours.
3) Ben Affleck barely speaks in the film. (This is more for people who are not fans of Ben Affleck)
4) It is streaming on Netflix right now, so why not?

I am going to recommend this film here because there is no one I know personally who wouldn't hate it.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:34 am

Yeah, it was the Affleck factor that made me pass on seeing that one when it was in cinemas. I don't have a huge problem with Affleck as an actor, but I think in a Malick film he would be out of his depth. Malick's films are always full of people staring pensively and Malick's style encourages us to read into what's going on behind their eyes. But I will just never be able to attribute a deep thought process or poetic sensitivity to Ben Affleck. You linger on a long shot of this guy furrowing his brow and staring off into the distance and I just assume he's reflecting on some time when Kevin Smith told him a funny fart joke.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:35 am

i caught the 2nd half of Superman III on tv the other day. holy crap what a piece of shit. i tuned in right around the time "good" Clark Kent and "evil" Superman were fighting each other in a junkyard in an epic battle royale that must have lasted at least 10 (very boring) minutes until Clark strangles evil Superman into invisibility or something (i guess that means he died or was exorcised or something... since i don't know how evil Superman came into existence in the first place, though it seemed like some kind of Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde deal). anyway, i at least give them credit for casting somebody who looked vaguely like christopher reeve but wasn't christopher reeve to play evil Superman; i guess the SFX budget to have reeve play both roles wasn't there. anyway, i know i must have seen this film back when it first came out, but i don't remember a bit about it other than richard pryor, and i'm pretty sure pryor's MS later in life was just an excuse so that he would never have to answer any questions about why he was in this shitty movie. myself, i'm guessing i must have blocked out the entire experience of seeing this film due to my mind's inability to deal with the awefulness.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:36 am

V/H/S 2

they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. whoever coined that phrase must have been talking about watching films that get hyped on AICN. when the first VHS came out, it got a ton of hype. when i finally saw it, i thought it was ok, but had a lot of flaws. so along comes VHS 2, and the AICN hype machine goes back to work, every review talking about how this was so much better than the first one. is it? no. it's more consistent, but only in the sense that it's more consistently mediocre. the good segments are not as good as the best segments from the first film, but the worst segments are not as bad. it loses some of the overused glitches that plagued the first film, but there's still enough shaky-cam and video glitching to be annoying. and the wrap-around segment, while starting off a bit better, ultimately ends up just as confusing and dumb as the one from the first film.

so, this time there's only 4 segments, vs. the 5 from the first one. that's a good choice, since the first film felt a bit too long and there was one segment in that film so terrible that the film would have improved tremendously simply by removing it altogether. this time, they mix things up... instead of putting the best segments first and last, they put the best segments in the middle, and end with the worst one.

the first segment, aka "The Eye".. there was some hong kong movie called The Eye a while back (and remade with jessica alba a few years ago) about someone who gets an eye transplant and starts seeing ghosts. this segment is basically that film. only this time, instead of an eye transplant, it's some super-advanced bionic eye that also records everything. which doesn't make sense, by the way... at least in The Eye, the ghosts were explained because the eye came from a psychic or something. but here, it's just a bionic eye. there's no reason why a mechanical eye would see ghosts any better than a camera or iphone. maybe if they said this eye could see frequencies outside the normal human visual range, it would make sense, but no, there's no real explanation why the bionic eye lets you suddenly see ghosts. the guy gets home, and from there the movie is basically the same moment repeated over and over... bionic eye guy hears or notices something strange... he looks, doesn't see anything... looks away.... then looks back, and suddenly there's a scary ghost dead center in the frame, and he runs away and locks himself in the bathroom. it's effective at first but gets old. and that's pretty much it until the final scene, where the movie goes from being The Eye to being the "fuck you asshole" scene from Terminator.

the 2nd segment, aka "Diary of the Dead"... this is the best segment. guy goes on a bike ride, becomes a zombie, and spends the rest of the time doing zombie stuff with his camera-mounted go pro cam running. basically like romero's diary of the dead from the zombie POV. (not really a spoiler because it happens early enough in the segment). there's nothing really groundbreaking here, it's just a well-executed take on a clever concept. then at the end, the movie becomes the stephen king segment from Creepshow.

the 3rd segment, aka "Red State"... or at least, the ending to Red State that that movie should have had but didn't. really, you could take red state, and just cut off the ending and replace it with the final moments of this segment and have a much better film, as long as you could suspend disbelief long enough to accept michael parks suddenly turning into a tiny asian man. this is a pretty good segment, but it takes a while to get to the good stuff. it might be better than i'm giving it credit for because i was dozing off waiting for something to happen. but when shit does start happening, it's probably the most shocking scenes in the film. the monster at the end is kind of goofy looking, like Q the Winged Serpent with a moose head or something.

the last segment, aka "Signs"... remember in signs when mel and joaquin and those kids are sitting there watching the tv and it shows a video of an alien attacking a birthday party? turn that video into a whole film and you get this segment. this segment is by far the worst and most annoying. first off... i'll give this film credit for finding some mostly clever ways to explain why this found footage was filmed... you've got the bionic eye recording stuff, the go pro helmet cam attached to a zombie, and the documentary makers in segment 3.... and then you have this stupid crap. at some point, some kid attaches a camera to a dog. and that's where it stays. this means two things: 1) if you thought you'd seen shaky cam, you havent seen shaky cam until you've seen a tiny dog running around with a camera attached to it's back; and 2) the whole segment, there's a phony-looking tuft of dog hair sticking out from the bottom of the frame, like some weird MST3K character. either of those things by themselves would be annoying and distracting, but even putting both together wasn't enough for these filmmakers, so they also had to add in a STROBE LIGHT. i don't get sick or queasy at shaky cam, but the combo of shaky cam and strobe light is about as bothersome as i could imagine. if you ever showed this segment to a weak-stomached epileptic, it might just kill them. this segment really is nearly unwatchable. not that there's really anything worth seeing anyway. the aliens move like sleestacks and look like those guys who go to sporting events in head-to-toe spandex. like the 1st segment, we get treated to the same scene over and over... kids (and dog) are trying to get away from aliens, suddenly there's a loud inception-style BWAAAAAAAAA sound (never figured out where that sound came from... was it their spaceship making that noise, or is that just how aliens talk?), and then we see the aliens SLOOOOWWWWLLLYYYYY crawling towards us, getting slightly closer with each flash of the strobe light. and then the movie pisses me off by becoming Turner & Hooch at the end.

as for the wraparound segment, it makes no sense. we get a remake of the deleted spiderwalk scene from the exorcist, a gorier version of the halloween closet scene, and then THE END. no explanation of why any of what we saw just happened, so ultimately it's just as confusing and frustrating as the wraparound scenes from the first film. i guess this film might be worth watching for the 2nd and 3rd segments, and you might as well watch the 1st story too if you're going to do that. you can skip the last one and you'll thank me for it.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:45 pm

I never finished V/H/S. It took over twenty minutes for something to happen and it was a pretty lousy something and I shut it off at the half hour mark.

Never again.

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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:27 pm

I watched THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO last night. It was a very charming picture. It was also 82 minutes long which is probably the perfect running time for any film. I call it BBT (Baby Bear Time).
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:50 pm

THE EAST

This is one of those movies that probably would've been better as a tv series, or as a movie that was actually good. Most of the 'undercover' movies I see are about the cops or feds in the drug world, so I was intrigued by seeing a movie about a private security agency infiltrating a domestic eco-terrorist group. They cover a lot of ground and even seem to have so much plot that they have to jam some of it in during the closing credits, but not in that Marvel way that hints at a movie that's probably better than the one you just watched.

There's a lot of characters and many of them have backstories and arcs during this movie. So the movie is pretty stuffed and what mostly ends up getting undercooked is the dynamics between the characters. Most unfortunately it's the dynamic between the two main characters that doesn't earn its third act. The story follows Brit Marling as she (very quickly) infiltrates an eco-terrorist group called The East led by Alexander Skarsgård. Skarsgård plays his character a little too much as a softspoken hippie and not enough with the undercurrent of menace that John Hawkes had in MATHA MARCY MAY MARLENE. The film goes for the tensions you'd expect: will she be discovered? will she her loyalties shift while undercover? And then finds a pretty clever way resolving those tensions. It turns out The East were expecting to be infiltrated and spotted Marling as an agent from day one. They allowed her into their group with the plan of winning her over, then getting her to turn on her own agency and expose the identities of all undercover agents. Even though she has begun to believe in extreme activism, she doesn't agree with Skarsgård's plan of setting up all the agents to be executed, so she takes the list of agents and starts hunting them down to try and recruit them for her own eco-terrorist movement. And the movie just ends there with Skarsgård and Marling as two fighters for the same cause splitting over tactics. And like I said, I liked that resolution, I just didn't really feel it. The movie didn't seem to earn any of those turning points or build up the weight for those difficult decisions.

I would generally blame the director, who rushes the scenes a bit much and frequently fails to find the tension to make it gripping. The actors are hit and miss. Ellen Page probably gives the best performance of the lot in a bitchier role than I think most people are used to seeing her in. I think this movie could've been pretty good, not great, but better than it was. It's not really bad, but I can't recommend it either.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:52 pm

saw The Conjuring. this movie was really good. horror movies don't generally scare me anymore, but this one actually succeeded in giving me a few chills, so that's a massive achievement. it has a bunch of those slow creepy moments where you know something's about to happen, and you just sit and wait for it, kind of like the good parts from the paranormal activity films, except this time it's done in a real movie. some work better than others, but overall it's a really well-done film. there's also kind of a j-horror feel to the way the ghosts are handled, the make-up and movements and behaviours. not completely but enough to make it effective.

also, all that "based on a true story" stuff is a crock, the warrens are frauds. but this is a movie, so i could suspend disbelief for a couple hours and pretend that the warrens were something other than publicity-whoring sham artists.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:18 pm

AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS

David Lowery, the writer-director of this film, appeared to me in a dream riding a flaming hawk while I was climbing mountains in a Nikolai Roerich painting and requested that I see his film. I take these types of requests very seriously and have been looking forward to it ever since.

The story involves a pair of Texas outlaws in the 1970s played by Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. They get busted right at the beginning and Affleck takes responsibility for almost everything while Roonles plays the part of the helpless girl who got manipulated by the wrong guy. Affleck busts out of prison and returns to the small town where Rooney is raising his daughter. Affleck hides, mostly in plain sight, while he gathers fake documents and makes plans for his family to make a run for it and start over new elsewhere. If this sounds somewhat familiar, that's because it's a lot like that movie MUD which came out this summer. I would generally say MUD is a better and more poignant movie, but AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS is still good movie and I don't think anybody who likes drama features would regret watching it.

I think Lowery has good writing skills. I like movies that start off with the characters all having established relationships and personal histories and letting the audience piece it together instead of showing us everything or having characters get into conversations that they probably would've had years ago solely for exposition. The storytelling and characterization is generally fairly nuanced and restrained. Affleck gets the most complicated character in movie. He has to be believable as a dangerous outlaw who fucks people over, but he still has to pull off the tender shit with his wife and kid. Ben Foster also has to walk a bit of a tightrope, playing a character who comes across sincere and forgiving without seeming like a total sap. His character is a local cop who is in love with Rooney even though she literally shot him in the heart during her days as an outlaw. Mara and Keith Carradine also do solid work with their characters.

All and all a good drama movie that never oversells its drama or characters. I will check out more stuff this guy does.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:09 pm

i saw ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE. after all the AICN hype, i was a bit let down. the "twist" if you can call it that was telegraphed pretty obviously, this is probably a much better film if you don't know ahead of time there's going to be a twist, because as soon as you know there is a twist, you know exactly what that twist is going to be. also, the look of the film made it really hard to watch for me. i don't know if they were purposely going for that oversaturated, overexposed look or if it was just a byproduct of the budget and digital photography, but i felt like i had to squint at the whole movie, and it got really tiring.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby so sorry on Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:51 pm

Watched 16 Candles this morning. One of my favorites...Not sure how Cameron managed to tap into the minds of 80s teens like he did. Excellent movie.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:45 am

so sorry wrote:Watched 16 Candles this morning. One of my favorites...Not sure how Cameron managed to tap into the minds of 80s teens like he did. Excellent movie.


which Cameron is that? Cameron Crowe? Cameron Frye? James Cameron?
or do you mean John "Cameron" Hughes?


come to think of it, a James Cameron remake of Sixteen Candles could be something kinda special. a blue-skinned anthony michael hall in 3D... the mind boggles.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby so sorry on Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:52 am

TheBaxter wrote:
so sorry wrote:Watched 16 Candles this morning. One of my favorites...Not sure how Cameron managed to tap into the minds of 80s teens like he did. Excellent movie.


which Cameron is that? Cameron Crowe? Cameron Frye? James Cameron?
or do you mean John "Cameron" Hughes?


come to think of it, a James Cameron remake of Sixteen Candles could be something kinda special. a blue-skinned anthony michael hall in 3D... the mind boggles.


:oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

Yeah I think I must have been thinking of Cameron Crowe for some reason, when I meant to say John Hughes. DAMMIT!
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Peven on Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:20 pm

watched "Only God Forgives" last night, and it was a visual treat, the film is full of shots that you wish you could frame and hang, Refn saturates the screen with color, reds and blues primarily, deep, rich hues in large solid swaths across the frame. it is a quiet film, aside from a little painful screaming :wink: , reminding me very much of "Valhalla Rising" with its spare dialogue, low key soundtrack in the background, even a similarity between Gosling and Mikkelsen's characters, and then there are the long, lingering shots on the faces of the characters as they say nothing, striking establishing shots, all seemingly part of a cryptic morality play of sorts. not as satisfying for me as Valhalla or Drive overall, but still worth the watch.


7/10
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:35 am

MAN OF TAI CHI

I finally caught up with this film and really liked it. It is a solid martial arts movie very much like something they would make in the 90s. The film is directed by Keanu Charles Reeves, who also plays the villain. Reeves does a very good job in his directorial debut. The film has a really cool slick look and the fights are all filmed and chereographed very well and the lighting effects give it all a very dynamic look. Reeves's performance as Evil Keanu is a blast! I had no idea he had this kind of performance in him. The closest I've seen him to being this aggressive is his performance in STREET KINGS and even that is nowhere near as close. I love it when he just keeps shouting "You owe me a life!" That might be something you guys who are thinking of having kids can grunt at your wives in the sack.

Tiger Chen plays the hero. Some of you might recognize him as a henchman from MATRIX 2. Tiger Chen is a good fighter and it's cool that he looks like John Cazale because Cazale never got to do a kung-fu movie. The film follows him as he starts off doing underground fights for Evil Keanu in order to raise money to save the rec centre, then he slowly gets seduced by the dark side and becomes a crazy killing animal. I really liked it when he broke both of a guy's arms and one of his legs before his body even hit the ground. If Meatloaf thought two out of three ain't bad, he's gotta be impressed with breaking three out of four limbs on an opponant in one combo. The film then takes a really wacky turn and briefly becomes THE TRUMAN SHOW. I didn't see that coming.

The film is financed and shot in China. So there are certain political objectives that have to be worked into the story. The good guys have to come from mainland China and Hong Kong has to be depicted as sleazy. Keanu directs the film verymuch in the Chinese style. The acting is very melodramatic and some of the camera angles are very extreme and dynamic. I like that kind of stuff, but some people might find it too overthetop and silly at times. This is a very good oldschool martial arts film.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:17 pm

ARGENTO'S DRACULA

When I saw this piece of shit pop up on Netflix streaming I knew I had to watch it as soon as possible. I had never seen a Dario Argento film before, but by all accounts he has been making shitty movies for more than twenty years and this film is no exception. The poster for the film promises a fun '60s Hammer type look that it can't deliver on because it is shot to look like a Canadian television show from the nineties, with the CGI to match.

This is by far the brightest vampire movie I have ever seen. Even when it's supposed to be night time it's lit to look like mid-day.

Much of the film is shot against green screen and maybe they thought they would have more money to bring their sunny Transylvanian locations to life, but the results go beyond terrible and become tragic. I honestly can't describe the scene where Harker arrives at the train station. The digital "artists" have failed by such a degree that no words will do.

There are several sequences that utilize computer graphics. As everything else in the film they are handled poorly. This includes a CGI owl that is only slightly more convincing than the one from the opening credits of LABYRINTH, a werewolf transformation that looks like something out of a commercial for a car dealership, and most amazingly a giant murderous praying mantis which is the highlight of the film.

For a film this shitty I'm surprised there wasn't more nudity. There is some, but not as gratuitous as I would like in a horror film this bad and zero bush, which is a shame. As this is a Dario Argento film, Asia shows up to provide some much needed unnecessary nudery, which easily could have turned into a lesbian sex scene had a little more imagination been applied. No such luck.

Rutger Hauer shows up late to pick up a check and probably drank a bit off set. His Van Helsing is surprisingly competent, dispatching two would-be assassins with such ease that I'm convinced there were fights written into the script that Rutger was too drunk to perform.

All in all, this film was terrible.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby so sorry on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:09 pm

caruso_stalker217 wrote:ARGENTO'S DRACULA


For a film this shitty I'm surprised there wasn't more nudity.



That's the most disappointing of all... if its as bad as you describe, he could have at least given you some titillation to go along with your displeasure.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:47 pm

caruso_stalker217 wrote:I had never seen a Dario Argento film before, but by all accounts he has been making shitty movies for more than twenty years and this film is no exception.


His films have prettymuch always been bad, even when they were good they didn't really stand up on the merit of storytelling and the acting was usually awful. The good ones that he made in the 70s 80s are mostly a bunch of freaky nightmarish visuals with high contrast lighting schemes, intense techno music, and all the usual hallmarks of Eurotrash movies of that era. The sheer insanity and the distinctness of his directorial voice were enough to make his fans overlook or even embrace the shortcomings of his work.

caruso_stalker217 wrote:it is shot to look like a Canadian television show from the nineties


Dracula's coming, whether you're ready or not!

Last edited by Spandau Belly on Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:01 pm

I forgot to mention that they rip off the love story aspect of FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA'S BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA only do a worse job of it with less chemistry between the actors and also there is a tragic use of the theremin throughout.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:47 am

THE WAY WAY BACK

This is a comingofage story about a shy 14 year old boy who has to spend summer at the beach house belonging to his mum's new unlikeable boyfriend (played by Steve Carell in a very good performance). He takes a job at a local waterpark where he finds a sense of community among the other staff and park regulars and gradually gains some confidence. Sam Rockwell plays the manager (maybe the owner? I wasn't sure) of the waterpark and gives a good performance as a nice wisecracking slacker who sees a kid in need of a friend and responds. I had heard really good things about this movie and was looking forward to seeing it, but found it a bit disappointing. Not a terrible film, but it was lacking the meat it needed to be a really touching comingofage story.

I was glad they set this thing in modern day and not in the 60s or something for a forced sense of nostalgia. I was also glad they didn't bother with the usual narration track from the protagonist, and I was glad that they didn't rely on montages to try and sell the connections between characters. But I felt like I needed some more screen time in the middle of movie devoted to showing the protagonist opening up to somebody and bonding. They really needed a few more scenes of the kid either talking to Sam Rockwell or to his love interest and a few more scenes showing the friends he'd made among the regulars at the waterpark. It felt like it was moving way too fast, skipping over stuff, and over way too fast. It needed to be fleshed out. I checked out the cut scenes on the bluray, but none of them had what I felt was missing from the movie. They were mostly a bunch of jokey moments.

Earlier in the movie the characterization was a little too forced. It evened out as it went on, but I think they went a little overboard in showing Steve Carell and his friends as insipid, obnoxious, and immature without any real redeeming side.

There was some other stuff in the movie that didn't completely ring true to me either. The staff at the waterpark all seemed a little old to still be in these summer slacker jobs. A lot of them, like Maya Rudolph and that Terry Richardson-lookin' mofo, looked in their 40s. Also, Steve Carell and everybody else in this beach community having the whole summer off from work just seemed a bit off. They said Carell "sold cars for a living" which I took to mean that he maybe owned a car dealership, but still, I had a hard time believing that all these people in their 40s with families were taking several months off each year to party at the beach.

So I am surprised at all the love this movie got; and seeing as I frequently like these types of movies, I found this one especially disappointing. Some good performances from Carell and Rockwell, and its heart was in the right place, but it just felt like it was missing some of the bonding and opening up that I think the story needed.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:28 pm

YOU'RE NEXT

I saw this last night and really liked it. One of the best horror movies I've seen in a long time. There's a fair bit of humour, but not the self-aware kind that really takes away from the tension. The humour usually just serves to make the situation more disturbing. It is a horror movie of the home invasion variety, but in a lot of ways the movie felt a bit more like it was drawing from DIE HARD or STRAW DOGS than from other horror movies. You watch the prey slowly go from pest, to turning the tables on the predator.

I would highly recommend checking this one out.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Ribbons on Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:07 pm

I too saw You're Next and enjoyed it quite a bit. It's too bad that it went largely unseen when it was released last year, because it's as much of a crowd-pleaser as a slasher film can be. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot that, while not particularly shocking, keep you on your toes. And I have to thank it for getting this song stuck in my head:

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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:39 am

i saw YOURE NEXT too, and i liked it as well.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:15 pm

SPIKE LEE'S OLDBOY

I'm one of those people who loves the original OLDBOY but was also looking forward to Spike Lee's remake. This was actually one of my most anticipated films of last year. Now that I've seen it I can say that I would not have considered my money wasted if I'd had the opportunity to see it on the big screen. So if you're not interested in reading my bullshit and just want to know if I thought it was good or not, I will just say that it has its faults but I enjoyed it. Not as good as the original but not the trainwreck some have said it is.

Review starts here (also minor spoilers, although if you've seen the original already there is not much to spoil):

The film is at its strongest in the first half hour or so as it goes much further into Joe's time in prison than the original did. You get a better sense of the isolation and shit. It recreates many elements from the original like when he attempts suicide except in this one it's played seriously. On the whole, this is a more serious film than the original.

The big problem to address here is that the first thirty minutes are the strongest in the film. It's different enough from the Korean film that you can immerse yourself in it and enjoy it for what it is. But once Joe gets out and the story starts retreading ground from the original film it's difficult not to draw comparisons. But Brolin gives a strong performance in the role, even if I found this character less interesting than Oh Dae-su.

Trouble doesn't quite rear its head until things start to get goofy. And by goofy I mean every scene Sharlto Copley is in. I don't hate his oddball Bond villain performance, but I couldn't help but imagine how much stronger the ending would play had he not been such a weirdo. His character is also not as strong as Woo-jin in the original film and his back story and motivation has changed in a way that doesn't resonate as much. But he has a hot chick lady Bond henchman who kicks people in the face, so there's that.

I said this is a more serious film than the original, but it's more like "serious." There is still plenty of humor like Sam M.F. Jackson saying stuff like "I swear to God and eight motherfuckin' white people." Probably my favorite line.

There were some nice callbacks to the original. The angel wings pop up in an early scene. Brolin looks at an octopus at a restaurant. I appreciate that kind of hat-tippage, although I thought the hallway fight was the first major stumble. The choreography is a little sloppy, but not in a "Hey this is a realistic type brawl and not a kung fu movie" way but more like "Remember in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES when all those guys kept throwing slow-ass punches and fell down for no reason?" But they mix things up enough in that scene to be different and it's pretty brief, so it's not a killer by any means.

The film is at its weakest when Brolin and new friend Ashley Olsen begin to investigate his past and shit. In the original film both of these characters were oddballs and their scenes were always kind of playful and funny. Again, this film has a more serious tone and has a more "real world" feel, so you don't get that same dynamic. Brolin visiting his old school to get to the bottom of the mystery is not terribly interesting stuff. I'm going to guess this is mostly because I'd already seen this stuff in the original film and to be honest I wasn't that interested the first time around.

This is the first time I've seen Ashley Olsen in a film and I got to see a good deal of her (she takes off her clothes in the film [not bad]). There is also plenty of screen time devoted to the male human ass and you kinda see Josh Brolin's dick and balls a few times.

This ends the nudity portion of the review.

The film's climax is less drawn-out this time around and is less effective, with Copley's silly voice and all. It felt a bit rushed and I didn't feel that they really sold the twist either. In the original film I was honestly surprised by how shit went down, but it seemed pretty easy to figure out in this one even if I didn't have the knowledge before hand. And while the "reveal" here is done well enough it had nowhere near the impact as the scene where Oh Dae-su is flipping through the photo album and the realization hits him. And Brolin isn't really given anything to do to come close to Choi Min-sik's breakdown scene.

Fortunately, for the film's final resolution they go a completely different route. Whether people find it better or worse than the original (I'm guess most people will lean toward the latter) at least it goes its own way. Personally, I liked the final sequence. I think it works for this film. It's got the same kind of bittersweet element that the original had, but with a very different outcome.

Overall, I would recommend this film. I'm sure few people will enjoy it more than the original (or as much even). Even if you absolutely hate it, at least the Korean film is still there and still a good goddamn film. Now having seen the remake I'm still convinced that Spike Lee was a good choice to direct. It has a lot of the same problems that every Spike Lee film I've seen has, minus one crucial one, being that the music never sounds out of place. Holy shit, how many scenes has Spike Lee ruined with disastrously misplaced music cues. But this has a lot of his strengths too. I like the style of film and he even worked in one of those weird shots where a guy is gliding around with the camera pointed up his nose.

So, in closing, not great. Not terrible. I'll pick it up on Blu-Ray eventually.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby Spandau Belly on Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:04 pm

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Spandau takes a trip back to STRANGE DAYS

This is a 1995 film written by James Cameron and given to his at-the-time sweetheart, Kathryn Bigelow, to direct. It is set in 1999, so not a far off future world. The main differences being that the world has somewhat gone to shit, and the invention of the film's main sci-fi device which allows people the ability to record their sensations and for future playback either by themselves or others. The film definitely sees the sleazy possibilities for this technology and so the protagonist (played by Rlpah Fiennes) is a disgraced cop turned hustler who deals in experiences. He sells people real memories of robbing banks or having porno sex. Bigelow in no way shies away from the appeal of these experiences. She shoots them in a way that is very immersive and thrilling even today.

The film has obvious influences of BLADE RUNNER and VIDEODROME, but a more concrete plot holding it together than either of those two. STRANGE DAYS conforms to every noir detective hallmark you can think of. The hero is a loser, who may still have some good in him. He gets in over his head in a case involving a girl who got murdered for something she saw. The case puts him contact with all the typical noirist characters: the ruthless powerful man (complete with musclehead goon), his sexy former sweetheart who now lives a life he could never provide, the old buddy who is still good for information, the woman who believes he may still have some good in him etc.

The climax goes a little silly. Sometimes in ways I enjoy, like when a guy pulls a knife out of his own back and uses it against the guy who stabbed him. Other times in ways that are just corny like the police commish calmly strutting right into a riot and finding somebody he had no real way of knowing was there. But nothing that completely derails the film.

The acting is good across the board. Ralph Fiennes seems like a really odd choice for this type of role, but he makes out well and manages to hold the American accent the whole film. He also sorta seems like he's playing Bradley Cooper before Bradley Cooper was even playing Bradley Cooper. It's weird. Angela Bassett is awesome as the film's reigning badass. Juliette Lewis plays the same trashy sexpot she played all the time in the 90s.

Overall, a good movie, glad I revisited it.
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Re: What have you been watching? (DVD or Films on TV)

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:17 pm

caruso_stalker217 wrote:This is the first time I've seen Ashley Olsen in a film and I got to see a good deal of her (she takes off her clothes in the film [not bad]). There is also plenty of screen time devoted to the male human ass and you kinda see Josh Brolin's dick and balls a few times.

This ends the nudity portion of the review.


you call that a review?

just mentioning you see his dick and balls a few times is not a review. we want to know what you thought of his dick and balls.
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