March - Film
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After the scramble to watch the award winners and nominees, it's a bit of a slow month. I'm reading and rewatching some favourites. Love Thor: Ragnarok.
First Dog (2010)
A foster boy is befriended by a lost dog who turns out to belong to the President of the United States. The boy decides to run away from the foster home to return the canine to the White House -- "Because it's the right thing to do!"
Lots of warmth, lots of humor. A feel good film great for adults and kids alike. If you like animals... especially dogs.... If you like movies that have a neat message...then this is a movie that fits all those descriptions. You could watch this one cris:)
A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood
I was curious to see this film after reading a bio of Mr. Rogers last year. This was a interesting film-I thought it would be all about Rogers but it mainly focused on his relationship with Tom Junod, a hard core journalist who came to interview him. Junod was not happy to interview him but the two of them eventually bond and became friends. Very moving though it took me awhile to get used to Hanks impersonation of Rogers.
>4 JulieLill: It was an unexpected hit for me. Never having heard of Mr Rogers here in the UK, I didn't have to make that leap, squaring up the actor with the real man.
Das Boot 1981
German war movie, oh so powerful, nominated for five Oscars. It is classed as the greatest war movie ever made.
I Am Wrath (2016)
A man is out for justice after a group of corrupt police officers are unable to catch his wife's killer
There are a few neat twists in this but for the most part you can predict everything that is going to happen pretty easy. John Travolta isn't a bad choice for this but he just seems a little flat in some parts.
Nine Lives (2016)
A stuffy businessman finds himself trapped inside the body of his family's cat.
I loved all the characters, especially frustrated Mr. Fuzzy Pants. The plot is predictable, and the jokes are pretty flat, but they are geared toward those 10 year old and adults who really like cats. Watching the stuffy businessman learn to BE a cat was pretty funny.
College student Holly Teller (Elisabeth Harnois) is drawn to the mysterious small town of Riddle, Pennsylvania in search of her missing brother. Against the will of the local Sheriff and town elder, she begins to unravel a mystery connected to an abandoned psychiatric hospital on the edge of town, uncovering a terrifying past the town is determined to keep hidden.
The idea was good but they just didn't manage to carry it out. Parts of it were interesting and well done but most of it was totally off the wall. Very quickly the story appears to paint itself into a corner, and it seemed as if the scriptwriter had quit and was replaced with a 10 year old with budget control. The end sequences descend into a farce, and the riddle of Riddle is never really explained.
An investigative reporter teams up with a police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister's family.
This certainly wasn't the worst I've ever seen...but I felt that the end needed a great deal more explanation. I found out that this movie is loosely based off of a comic series of the same name. Perhaps those who have read the comic may get a great deal more out of this movie than someone who just found it randomly.
Faces in the Crowd (2011 )
A horror-thriller centered on a woman living with "face-blindness" after surviving a serial killer's attack. As she lives with her condition, one in which facial features change each time she loses sight of them, the killer closes in.
The idea behind this serial killer movie is a novel one. A woman that is a witness to a killing was injured and can't when she comes out the coma a week later...recognize faces...not her own...not her boyfriends...and not that of the killer. The disability leads to some interesting scenes of her struggling with the disability and the tricks she needs to learn to deal with this. Interestingly, "Face blindness" or Prosopagnosia is a real medical affliction that may or may not reverse it's self.
So, anyone re-watched Contagion recently?
Wesley Morris. NYT, 03/10/2020: For Me, Rewatching ‘Contagion’ Was Fun, Until It Wasn’t.
Since the covid-19 virus adheres to plastic surfaces, might not be a good idea to check this out from the local library. Don't know whether you can catch it from library books, as yet.
Just watched Floating Weeds for the third time.
This was a DVD from DVD Netflix. I'd love to own it, but too expensive. Netflix doesn't charge late fees, fortunately.
Floating Weeds. (1959) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu. Screenplay: Kogo Noda. Cinematography: Kazuo Miyagawa. Probably the only actor name I recognized was Machiko Kyo (Sumiko). She reminded me of an older Aubrey Plaza. Very striking. The only performance of hers I remember was the knight's wife in Rashomon (her other noteworthy films, which I haven't seen, are Gate of Hell and Teahouse of the August Moon), but with the period make-up I didn't realize how beautiful she was. Kyo died last year (2019).
I believe this was the director's last film. Much has been made of it as an example of Japanese cinema's adoption of color, but it certainly wasn't his first. This was a Criterion DVD, and included an alternative soundtrack with commentary by Roger Ebert, who focused on the spatial arrangement (framing) and color rhyming which I found helpful, though I disagree with his take on some of the characters' actions. Kyo is photographed like a film noir femme fatale and uses cigarette smoking like Stanwyck.
The film is a comedy (sort of) about a down at its heels traveling theater troupe putting on shows in a seaside village, i.e. the boondocks. Komajuro Arashi (Ganjiro Nakamura) is the troupe's "Master." Kyo plays Sumiko, his mistress, chief actress, and general assistant. Arashi visits the village irregularly to see his former mistress and his son, who believes his father is dead and that Arashi is his uncle. The Master apparently has been using his meager earnings to pay for his son's education, and he takes great pride that the son is thinking of university and not being a womanizer or pursuing a career in the lowly profession of acting.
All of the Ozu films I've seen are set in middle class post-war Japan, but here he focuses on the demimonde, in earlier times associated with the artist Hokusai's "Floating World." These actors do not even have that much status, thus "Weeds." When Sumiko learns Arashi is visiting his former mistress, her jealousy causes her to pay a fellow trouper, Kayo (Ayako Wakao) to seduce Arashi's son Kiyoshi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi). Predictably, she falls in love with the son. When Arashi learns about this, he acts like a jerk and beats both Kayo & Sumiko, and severs ties with them both. Ebert seems to excuse this behavior by excusing it as harmless overacting; I disagree. The scene physically demonstrates his contempt for these women (this is probably how they were considered in this time period) -- and his fellow actors in general.
I found Kyo's transformations from anger, jealousy, resentment, dependence, and love to be a tour de force. The troupe breaks up when the audiences do not support enough performances, and one of the troupe members absconds with the meager receipts and the other members' money. In the dramatic moment when Kiyoshi rejects Arashi as a father, it sets off a series of self-reflections on the part of Arashi, Kiyoshi, Sumiko, Kayo, and Kiyoshi's mother/Arashi's former mistress Oyoshi (Haruko Sugimura -- a moving, subdued performance -- she also appears in Tokyo Story). Two standout scenes: Sumiko and Arashi verbally sparring on opposite sides of a street during a downpour, and their reconciliation at the train station over cigarettes.
>15 featherbear: That is a really great review and a wonderful endorsement for the movie. I found it and plan to watch it yet this week. Any movie that someone will watch three times has got to good. Thank you.
Thank you. In the Movie Lovers R.I.P. thread I just posted a link to the New York Times obituary of Machiko Kyo. I'm embarrassed to admit I forgot she was also in one of my favorites, Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu, one of the most beautiful black and white films. Like Rashomon, it's a period film, so you won't see what she looked like in a modern setting (she's actually rather scary in the Mizoguchi film). She really had quite a range.
>17 featherbear: I saw the post in the R.I.P. thread. Thank you for doing that.
>18 Carol420: Unrelated to the current discussion but I just wanted to thank you for recommending Front of the Class back in the January thread. We watched the film last night and everyone, (Mrs. ScoLgo and her mom), thanked me for bringing home, "such a nice movie."
I owe the all the pats on the back to you so am popping in here to pass them along, (pat, pat, pat... ;)
>19 ScoLgo: You are more than welcome. I'm glad everyone enjoyed it. There are so many mediocre movies on the market that it's really a pleasure to see something that has some meaning. You just couldn't help but love that teacher. Thanks everyone for those pats:)
My Wife and My Dead Wife (2007)
A man in a miserable marriage finds solace in a 19th Century house, haunted by a ghost he sees as his "Dead Wife", but is it all a dream or is he really at the brink of insanity?
This was bad all the way around. Not even a dead woman would have had anything to do with this loser. The woman wasn't the only thing that was dead...the acting and the script could also fit in that category. Guy Balotine...the lead actor...delivers his lines like they have absolutely no meaning. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt as he possibly read the script to the end and lost the will to live. Find something else to do with your 82 minutes.
Dreamcatcher - Based on a book by Stephen King (2003)
Friends on a camping trip discover that the town they're vacationing in is being plagued in an unusual fashion by parasitic aliens from outer space.
Strange things come out of those Maine woods! Frankly I didn't get where a lot of it was going or how it got there. Parts were interesting and parts were just gory. I'm not opposed to gore I just want to understand how and why it got there. On the plus side, the special effects are great; the aliens are slimy and disgusting; the attack scenes are brutal, and I loved the way Lewis's mind was visualized. Still, there were way too many plots lines to keep up with and it's constantly loosing focus. Not a terrible film or unwatchable, just rather disappointing.
Dead Birds (2004)
A handful of thieves discover they have more to worry about than the law in this independent horror story, set during the Civil War. William (Henry Thomas) is the leader of a group of runaway Confederate soldiers who, with the help of an escaped slave and an Army nurse, stage a daring robbery at a bank holding a cache of rebel gold. The heist does not go smoothly, and William's associates soon fall into in-fighting as they head toward Mexico with their stolen fortune. Needing a place to rest for the night, the criminals set up camp in a mansion overlooking an abandoned plantation, but it soon becomes obvious that the old house is not as empty as they thought, as a handful of angry ghosts make their presence known while William and his cohorts fight over the gold.
Not a bad horror film if you take it with a grain of salt...but certainly not exceptional either. The people used absolutely no common sense. To get to the mansion they had to walk though a mile of dead corn field with a body that looked like the creature from the black lagoon...which they just stepped over and went on. They were more interested in killing one another over the bag of gold they had stolen so the cast became smaller and smaller saving the ghost a lot of trouble. You're not likely to loose a lot of sleep over either.
Johnny Belinda 1948
Jane Wyman stars as Johnny Belinda, a deaf woman who lives with her family. She can't communicate till the new doctor comes into the town and befriends her. He then teaches her sign language proving she is smarter than everyone thinks. I think this still holds up. I enjoyed it.
Faces in the Crowd 2011
A young woman is attacked coming home and develops face blindness, a condition in which you cannot recognize faces. This is especially frightening because the man who attacked her and who is killing women is trying to kill her. I never knew their was condition like that. Very interesting!
A lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house. Just when the kids think their luck couldn't get any better, things start happening that make them question the intention of their host.
Octavia Spencer excels in her role as a former high-school wannabe who struggles with breaking free from her past. I can't quite say what is missing from the film that made it just slightly more than just okay, I believe I was hoping that things would go better for the kids and for Ma. Good enough though.
Shetland (2013-2018) season 1-5 - based on the series by Ann Cleeves
DI Jimmy Perez and his team investigate crimes within the close knit island community of Shetland.
Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and the remote location of Shetland are the main attractions of this superb British drama. Perez is a man with a good heart who takes on each murder case as if the survivors depend entirely on him. He's the sort of guy you would definitely want to have on your side. The setting is absolutely gorgeous... but the climate looks to be harsh... cold...gray...and damp. The murders often don't have simple explanations and always involve a web of intrigue. Jimmy Perez will hunt them down...have no fear.
On TCM, reacquainted myself with Battleship Potemkin (1925), dir. Sergei Eisenstein; written by Nina Agadzhanova; cinematography, Eduard Tisse; film editing, Grigory Aleksandrov. Intertitles in Russian with English subtitles. Silent movie which has had different musical scores over the years. On my version, music was by Dmitri Shostakovitch, so I must have been viewing a 1975 reissue. Really liked the music all the way through; seemed to be mostly excerpts from his 5th Symphony.
Last time I saw the film was in film class in college in the late 60's. Starts slowly with borscht made with contaminated meat, crawling with maggots, causing resentment and unrest in the crew of the Potemkin. The officers summon the crew to the upper deck and the admiral decides to make an example and orders his marines to execute some of the crew. The leader of the designated victims, Vakulinchuk, calls on his brothers/comrades not to shoot and to join the oppressed sailors. The marines lower their guns & then all hell breaks loose as the crew turns on the officers. From then on the action is hot and heavy, spurred on by the martial Shostakovitch music, as the mutineers toss the officers off the ship. In the course of the mutiny Vakulinchuk is killed by one of the officers. The Potemkin docks at the city of Odessa, and Vakulinchuk lies in state, with a sign on his body, "Murdered for a spoonful of borscht." Great crowds come down the lengthy steps to the dock to pay tribute, though some bourgeoisie look on and sneer. But then the czar's Cossacks arrive and start shooting the citizens in volleys. The massacre on the Odessa steps is iconic, with the baby carriage scene (reprised in DePalma's The Untouchables) and the screaming woman with the bloody eyeglass lense. The sailors retaliate by turning the big guns of the battleship on the military commanders' headquarters. Then the ship sails out to sea to meet the czar's fleet that has been steaming toward Odessa, as the music ramps up to the 5th Symphony's finale. The sailors signal their counterparts on the czar's fleet not to harm them, and the film ends with Potemkin sailing past, unharmed, with the sailors on both sides cheering wildly.
>27 featherbear: We saw this in high school, many, many years ago but I never forgot that scene with the baby carriage and the massacre.
Movies streaming next month (April) in the genre mode:
Germain Lussier. Gizmodo/Io9, 03/26/2020: The Nerd's Watch: The Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Streaming in April.
The header is a little misleading; "fantasy" is defined broadly to say the least. On a personal note, I liked Salt a bit more than the compiler!
You might find some movies to look into from this article. As an added bonus, many of these were based on books that would also be worth a look.
Zach Vasquez. Literary Hub, 03/27/2020: The Crime Cinema Renaissance of 1990.
Mile 22 (2018)
A small team of elite American intelligence officers, part of a top-secret tactical command unit, try to smuggle a mysterious police officer with sensitive information out of Indonesia.
Too much fighting...too much yelling...too much shooting...too many 4 letter words. These people couldn't get a complete sentence out without them. Truthfully I'm glad to see the description here because I had no clue what it was suppose to be about.
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