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Operation Delta Force 5: Random Fire (2000)

Dela Force come up against a Middle-Eastern terrorist mastermind who is using mind control on captured soldiers. I've watched some absolute shit films in my time but this will take some beating for the top spot. Sometimes dumb can be fun, but sadly this is no fun whatsoever, in fact there's no humour at all in a script clearly drawn up on the back of an MRE ration pack bought from an Army surplus store. The Delta Force soldiers barely had an ounce of personality between them, even the Captain barely registered much in the way of character beyond having a girlfriend, a girlfriend who disobayed orders and gave the General that much back chat I was surprised they didn't throw her in the brig or wherever they throw Delta Force operatives. The baddie was brown, of indeterminate nationality and spoke with an accent - he clearly had to die, if not for being a terrorist then for the crime of merely being arch; he literally stood there and spoke, only throwing the worlds least effective punch during what a more generous person than I would describe as a tense showdown. The film ends with said girlfriend drinking what I hoped was the world's larget G&T before Captain turns up and unceremoniously chucks a ring in her drink. Mission Accomplished. You don't have to watch this crap.

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Like @SeanR in the ratings thread, I've been watching the Rocky films recently.

 

The only three I've seen before were Rocky (watched in 2013; lived up to its reputation), Rocky II (the first one I saw: I think I caught the last three quarters of it about 15 years ago) and Creed (watched at the start of 2019; great film).

 

They've all been on Amazon Prime Video for a while now, but last week they threw up a message that they have "limited time left on Amazon Prime" (turns out they're all being taken off there tonight, the 29th!) so I thought I'd better hurry up and watch them. So last week I watched one a day. I enjoyed all of them but I can't in good conscience give anything more than an above average rating to III and IV...

 

 

Rocky (1976) - 4/5
A great film. A wonderfully effective, earnest underdog story that completely won me over (as a non-fan of boxing who came to the series with preconceptions about the series being a formulaic joke). The message about meeting your own targets (not others') carries through the series, but here it is in purest and most inspirational and uplifting form. It only improves in comparison to all its sequels, so I'm tempted to bump my rating up from four stars to four and a half to reflect just how remarkable it is.

 

Only Rocky's wooing (for want of a better word) of Adrian comes across as rather dubious nowadays (locking the door and blocking her way...). But it's worth praising the fact that the subsequent sequels prove that their love is one of the most rock-solid long-term relationships that I can think of in any popular film series.

 

 

Rocky II (1979) -3.5/5
So he's got an eye injury now? OK, it'll be interesting to see what excuses the subsequent films contrive to work around that and keep him fighting! (Oh, turns out they're just going to ignore it...)

 

Yeah, it's largely a remake of the first one, but with a bigger budget (more location filming! A crowd in the training scene!) and more interaction between Rocky and Apollo.

 

 

Rocky III (1982) - 2.5/5
I was looking forward to this one because I remembered Creed had emphasised Rocky and Apollo's friendship, and I wanted to see how that came about.

 

This is the film that gave the world "Eye of the Tiger" - I was surprised to discover that the film initially presents it as Mr T's character's theme rather than Rocky's!

 

Not a fan of the Hulk Hogan gimmick fight, but I love the film's ending (the secret fight) and the freeze frame on that great closing credits painting!

 

 

Rocky IV (1985) - 2.5/5

Yeah, I know: I'm putting this far too low. At least according to those who are particularly nostalgic for this one. (I didn't get what everyone loves so much about Star Trek IV either. Clearly I'm a philistine who's dead inside.)

 

I don't dislike it! It's fun, and good at being what it's aiming to be (a compilation of music video montages). But I struggled to embrace its dumb silliness on its own terms; I just kept thinking of how far it had strayed from the relatively subdued working class social realism of the original.

 

 

Rocky V (1990) - 2/5

Not as irredeemably terrible as everyone seems to think! The premise is fine, and in many ways much more ambitious than Rocky IV: like the James Bond series' transition from Moonraker to For Your Eyes Only, it's aiming to bring things down to earth after previous fantastical excesses. Aiming to diverge from the series' formula in such a way is a worthy aim.

 

... It's just the execution that's poor.

 

Still, without it, Rocky Balboa and Creed probably wouldn't have been anywhere near as good.

 

 

Rocky Balboa (2006) - 3.5/5

Considering that until a few days ago I'd never seen half of the Rocky films, I was surprised by how emotionally affecting I found this! Sure, Rocky has numerous speeches that risk going too far in making him a wise homespun philosopher, but I had built up a huge amount of goodwill toward the series by this point, so I was on board all the way.

 

It strikes a great combination of the two sides of the Rocky series: relatively subdued, urban social realist tone of I, II and V (the melancholy, reflective nostalgia of its first hour) and the gloriously absurd fist-pumping triumph of III and IV (when it's time for the training montage and final boxing match - which is, in its own way, almost as ridiculous as the stuff in Rocky IV).

 

 

So here's the ranking:

 

1. Rocky

2. Creed, aka Rocky VII: Adrian's Revenge (I should rewatch this now I've seen the others; I think that it'll only benefit from my increased affection for the series)

3. Rocky II (the only reason I'm putting this above Rocky Balboa is that this has Apollo Creed and that doesn't)

4. Rocky Balboa

5. Rocky III

6. Rocky IV (again, sorry!)

7. Rocky V

 

Still got Creed II to watch...

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Loving Vincent (2017) - 3.5/5

 

A year after the death of Vincent van Gogh, Armand Roulin - the subject of one of his paintings - attempts to belatedly deliver a letter from Vincent to his brother Theo, and in the process, learns about the events leading up to the artist's suicide. (... or was it!? :sherlock:)

 

I think the structure is meant to be reminiscent of Citizen Kane (flashbacks are triggered by investigations into the death of a great man), but for me it came across more like the bits in a point and click adventure game (say, Broken Sword or Discworld Noir) where you reach a new location and talk to everyone you can in turn. Then someone says something that contradicts what a previous interviewee said, so you rush back to confront them about the discrepancy... and so on until the end of the film. I'm not saying I wanted an explosion every five minutes, but there's not a great deal of variation in the pace and tone throughout the film, beyond some of the conversations being more lighthearted while others are more aggressive.

 

But although the storytelling is not the most enthralling, it's definitely worth watching for its extremely impressive technical ambition: a rotoscoped animated movie in which every frame was oil painted on canvas, most of which are done in the style of Vincent van Gogh, or recreate specific compositions of his. (The exceptions being the flashbacks, which are in black and white and use a more realistic style that I often thought looked more liked digital paintings than photographed oil paintings.) It's one of those films where the Making Of is as interesting as the film itself! How do you film a scene with real actors and camera moves, and then rotoscope it so that those real motions fit with van Gogh's distorted perspective?

 

https://www.cartoonbrew.com/feature-film/loving-vincent-6-facts-first-oil-painted-animated-feature-150443.html

 

I found that (as with 3D films or the digitally-rotoscoped A Scanner Darkly) I began to take the effect for granted as the film went on. And every time I realised that I was drifting away from it, I'd think "oh, I should be focusing on the animation while I have the chance." And in turn, those thoughts momentarily pulled me out of the story. So unfortunately, it was a film where the form was often a distraction from the story and characters.

 

I think the film was effective in teaching me things about van Gogh and conveying the tragedy of his death. But I think I owe the film a second viewing, so I can focus on the details of the dialogue and performances that I missed the first time.

 

Also, I have to brag that when I watched the opening titles, I thought "hmm, this music reminds me of Clint Mansell" several seconds before his credit appeared! :D

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On 29/09/2019 at 21:56, Nick R said:

Like @SeanR in the ratings thread, I've been watching the Rocky films recently.

 

The only three I've seen before were Rocky (watched in 2013; lived up to its reputation), Rocky II (the first one I saw: I think I caught the last three quarters of it about 15 years ago) and Creed (watched at the start of 2019; great film).

 

They've all been on Amazon Prime Video for a while now, but last week they threw up a message that they have "limited time left on Amazon Prime" (turns out they're all being taken off there tonight, the 29th!) so I thought I'd better hurry up and watch them. So last week I watched one a day. I enjoyed all of them but I can't in good conscience give anything more than an above average rating to III and IV...

 

 

Rocky (1976) - 4/5
A great film. A wonderfully effective, earnest underdog story that completely won me over (as a non-fan of boxing who came to the series with preconceptions about the series being a formulaic joke). The message about meeting your own targets (not others') carries through the series, but here it is in purest and most inspirational and uplifting form. It only improves in comparison to all its sequels, so I'm tempted to bump my rating up from four stars to four and a half to reflect just how remarkable it is.

 

Only Rocky's wooing (for want of a better word) of Adrian comes across as rather dubious nowadays (locking the door and blocking her way...). But it's worth praising the fact that the subsequent sequels prove that their love is one of the most rock-solid long-term relationships that I can think of in any popular film series.

 

 

Rocky II (1979) -3.5/5
So he's got an eye injury now? OK, it'll be interesting to see what excuses the subsequent films contrive to work around that and keep him fighting! (Oh, turns out they're just going to ignore it...)

 

Yeah, it's largely a remake of the first one, but with a bigger budget (more location filming! A crowd in the training scene!) and more interaction between Rocky and Apollo.

 

 

Rocky III (1982) - 2.5/5
I was looking forward to this one because I remembered Creed had emphasised Rocky and Apollo's friendship, and I wanted to see how that came about.

 

This is the film that gave the world "Eye of the Tiger" - I was surprised to discover that the film initially presents it as Mr T's character's theme rather than Rocky's!

 

Not a fan of the Hulk Hogan gimmick fight, but I love the film's ending (the secret fight) and the freeze frame on that great closing credits painting!

 

 

Rocky IV (1985) - 2.5/5

Yeah, I know: I'm putting this far too low. At least according to those who are particularly nostalgic for this one. (I didn't get what everyone loves so much about Star Trek IV either. Clearly I'm a philistine who's dead inside.)

 

I don't dislike it! It's fun, and good at being what it's aiming to be (a compilation of music video montages). But I struggled to embrace its dumb silliness on its own terms; I just kept thinking of how far it had strayed from the relatively subdued working class social realism of the original.

 

 

Rocky V (1990) - 2/5

Not as irredeemably terrible as everyone seems to think! The premise is fine, and in many ways much more ambitious than Rocky IV: like the James Bond series' transition from Moonraker to For Your Eyes Only, it's aiming to bring things down to earth after previous fantastical excesses. Aiming to diverge from the series' formula in such a way is a worthy aim.

 

... It's just the execution that's poor.

 

Still, without it, Rocky Balboa and Creed probably wouldn't have been anywhere near as good.

 

 

Rocky Balboa (2006) - 3.5/5

Considering that until a few days ago I'd never seen half of the Rocky films, I was surprised by how emotionally affecting I found this! Sure, Rocky has numerous speeches that risk going too far in making him a wise homespun philosopher, but I had built up a huge amount of goodwill toward the series by this point, so I was on board all the way.

 

It strikes a great combination of the two sides of the Rocky series: relatively subdued, urban social realist tone of I, II and V (the melancholy, reflective nostalgia of its first hour) and the gloriously absurd fist-pumping triumph of III and IV (when it's time for the training montage and final boxing match - which is, in its own way, almost as ridiculous as the stuff in Rocky IV).

 

 

So here's the ranking:

 

1. Rocky

2. Creed, aka Rocky VII: Adrian's Revenge (I should rewatch this now I've seen the others; I think that it'll only benefit from my increased affection for the series)

3. Rocky II (the only reason I'm putting this above Rocky Balboa is that this has Apollo Creed and that doesn't)

4. Rocky Balboa

5. Rocky III

6. Rocky IV (again, sorry!)

7. Rocky V

 

Still got Creed II to watch...

Spoiler alert: it's a real stinker. 

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Is it really that bad? :( From the little I've heard, the impression I got is that it's nowhere near as good as the first Creed (mostly because of the change in director from Ryan Coogler), but still a decent 3-star film.

 

I've put it near the top of my Cinema Paradiso list so I'll find out soon enough...

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On 02/09/2019 at 12:23, Bazjam said:

Aniara 2019

 

When a spacecraft carrying settlers to Mars strays off course, the consumption-obsessed passengers are prompted to consider their place in the universe.

 

This came out in cinemas last weekend and is also available to rent on Amazon and the likes.

 

So glad I stumbled across this little gem of a sci fi film. It's a Swedish film based on a poem. I won't going to too much detail on plot, but probably best described as High Rise in space. I'm already regretting renting rather than buying as I definitely need a second viewing.

 

With this, Prospect, High Life, Ad Astra and Lucy In The Sky, we could be looking at one hell of a year for mature sci fi (for want of a better term)

 

4.5/5

MV5BMjUzMzk4NDMzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjE5NDY1NzM@._V1_.jpg

 

Oh my, rented this based basically on the poster, your post and the Guardian review. It's left me conflicted a bit. I loved the film, which was brilliantly done (on what I assume was a small budget) but found myself massively depressed once it finished and even after a day or two later it's still occupying my thoughts, which I suppose is the aim of a filmmaker. So a success then

 

The way the story was told through

Spoiler

time based chapters was very effective, especially the jaw dropping (for me) last two.

 

Definitely would recommend this to the SF fans amongst us, but don't expect to come away smiling.

 

Would watch repeatedly 4.75/5.00

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1 hour ago, multiclunk said:

 

Oh my, rented this based basically on the poster, your post and the Guardian review. It's left me conflicted a bit. I loved the film, which was brilliantly done (on what I assume was a small budget) but found myself massively depressed once it finished and even after a day or two later it's still occupying my thoughts, which I suppose is the aim of a filmmaker. So a success then

 

The way the story was told through

  Reveal hidden contents

time based chapters was very effective, especially the jaw dropping (for me) last two.

 

Definitely would recommend this to the SF fans amongst us, but don't expect to come away smiling.

 

Would watch repeatedly 4.75/5.00

Really glad you liked it. I have a week off work this week so going to get round to a second viewing which I’m really looking forward to.

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Body Count (1995)

An assassin escapes from prison, sets out to get revenge on the cops who set him up. From the generic title to the even-then hackneyd plot, you know you're in for a meh time with this cheap'n'cheesy straight-to-video caper. Sonny Chiba slums it as the wronged assassin, bringing as much eastern cool is it is possible to this construction of cliches. If the film could go for the obvious it does, from the FBI taking over the case to a fight in some industrial space. We get the world's slowest chase when Chiba seems to think a tram is the ideal getaway vehicle. The lack of budget is evident everywhere, anything expensive happens off-camera, as you'd expect. Brigitte Nielsen admittedly is pretty hot and hams it up admirably, giving some good physical action, although it's obvious her career is sliding further away at this point. Robert Davi does what Robert Davi usually does: New Yoik moody cop who smokes a lot, which leads to some heavy-handed cop-who-breaks-all-the-rules shit later when he ceremoniously pulls down a No Smoking sign - that'll show em etc. Aging Jan Michael Vincent doesn't get a chnace to add to the fondue as he's quickly sent off the top of a building. Nothing here for the casual viewer unless you're really bored and for whatever reason have no other option.

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The VVitch 

 

Pretty good film overall. Bit shit as a horror though. Just wasn't scary, the last five minutes got a bit better in this regard though. Admittedly I'm not a big horror fan precisely because most scary films just don't scare me at all.

 

Thought it was a pretty good as a straight historical film though. All the paranormal shit I just put down to being the perspective of people who were either inadvertently tripping or had a bad fever. And combining that with their freaky ideology. If their crop had been rye instead of corn it would have been better in this regard.

 

The whole time I was watching it I was just thinking, man, I'm glad I'm not alive in the 1600s. 

 

Finchy was great in it. That guy has the best voice ever for this sort of shit. 

 

Think it would have been a bigger hit if they had toned down some of the old times language a bit. 

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On 17/02/2018 at 13:50, linkster said:

Nerve

 

i saw a trailer for this in the cinema and then it vanished without trace until turned up on Netflix.

 

a thoroughly modern tale, Nerve concerns a frumpy unpopular in reality highly attractive and clever Emma Roberts who is convinced by her outgoing friend she’ll never be happy until she takes a few risks.

 

enter Nerve, an app that rewards Players by Watchers bidding cash for them to complete dares. It makes a decent companion piece to the world of Mr Robot, and does so very convincingly - the morality of the tale centres on the lack of morality of the crowd who goad, bid and threaten (as well as cheer) the participants to ever more daring exploits in pursuit of popularity which equals more cash.

 

i can see why it tanked - it’s tweeny yet subversive, cute yet menacing, never quite deciding which, but I thought it was thoroughly enjoyable, the highlights being the 4Chan style text comments which appear on screen accompanying certain key scenes which if you like that kind of stuff is painfully funny. Pause and read them all.

 

4/5

 

I watched this on Amazon Prime this week and generally agree. I was prepared for some zeitgeist teen thriller with a shoehorned-in social media angle that has aged poorly, but it was surprisingly compelling. I mean, "teens take part in stupid dares" has been done to death but the modern take worked well. The only thing that made me think "now hang on a sec" the next day was...

 

Spoiler

The "snitches get stitches" bit and all the money disappearing from their joint account. For one, most banks would suspend the transaction in a heartbeat if it's that extreme, but more than that - don't use your family account for sketchy games of dare! :P Set up a Paypal for that shit, and as soon as money is won, transfer it out of there. ;)

 

Then again, I guess the whole drama of that moment required a bit of nonsense so there's no winning here... 

 

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On 24/10/2019 at 10:28, Monkeyboy said:

The oldy times language is what makes it great though.

 

”Wouldst thou like the taste of butter?”

I actually thought that was sweet. Woudst thou wish to live deliciously? 

 

It was more for the minute to minute dialogue I thought it was a bit much. Says at the end of it though that a lot of the dialogue was taken directly from diaries and official reports of witchcraft trials and whatnot. So I suppose it's authentic. 

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Dolemite Is My Name.

 

I loved this, how to sum it up without just saying it’s a heartwarming feel good film. A cleanser to all negative thoughts swirling around your head. 

 

Eddie Murphy is superb, but not neccessarily in being super smooth and confident like when he was 21, because he’s always playing a character here trying to put a positive spin on every situation and knock back. He transmits empathy and warmth. He’s likeable, the whole cast is likeable. Wesley Snipes plays kind of drunk camp and obnoxious, he’s also likeable. You wonder why they (as in Eddie Murphy’s character) is even hiring him, but that just makes it funnier. The entire shooting section from start to finish is perfect. It’s a really cohesive tight film without any weak spots aside from the slow opening and once it gets going it’s one that grows on you. 

 

There’s a friendship that develops between Dolemite and a female singer who he encourages to get up on stage and acts as his female equivalent that from beginning to end is wonderful. 

 

I don’t think they’ll be a film released this year that will have more charm.

 

Really recommended. It’s on Netflix. 

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Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Not really worth a plot summary as it's so tied in with the first one. Happy Death Day was a surprisingly entertaining light-horror twist on Groundhog Day, so I was intrigued to see there was a sequel. It's important to state that you'll enjoy this film a hell of a lot more if you watch the first one, the sequel gives you a quick run-through of the previous film but it felt more like a refresher than anything. Without giving too much away this one takes the formula and some of the characters from the original and adds in a machine that messes with multiple dimensions. The upshot has more twists than a bag of fusili, getting more convuluted and reliant on knowledge of the original as it goes. And whilst writer/director Christopher Landon has fun playing with the original timeline, for me it just became a bit too twisty and convoluted, although things straightened out towards the end. The first was billed as horror, and had a campus-slasher vibe, albeit more tonuge-in-cheek along the lines of something like Scream, however this one dials back on the blood, although it's still there in places (fantastic montage of the main girl dying over and over in creative ways), going more for plot. Personally it wasn't as good a companion to the original as say Back To The Future 1 and 2, it lacks the finesse of those, but if you enjoyed Happy Death Day and are up for this cat's-cradle of a sequel, go for it.

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I watched a string of stop-motion films last week, prompted by rewatching Wallace and Gromit for @Ork1927's 2005-2009 poll. I did intend to finish by rewatching The Nightmare Before Christmas on the 31st, but decided to leave it until December as it's more of a Christmas film than a Halloween one (yes it is, don't argue).


Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit - 4.5/5

It's not quite the best Wallace and Gromit adventure - but then, how could it be, given that it's up against The Wrong Trousers, which is a perfect film? And Since the Shaun the Sheep Movie came out, I can't even call it Aardman's best feature film. But it's still joyous from start to finish.

 

To be honest, the two main reasons I rate this so highly are: (1) those bunnies are so utterly adorbs :wub: (2) "may contain nuts".

 

 

Coraline - 4/5
This was the first 3D film I ever saw, and this is my first rewatch since then. Everything involving the Other Mother is fantastic - I'm less keen on the diversions to meet the house's other inhabitants.

 

I'm still annoyed that they left out the bit in the book where the first thing she does after things get scary is to try calling the police - the one thing that kids in adventure stories never do.


Fantastic Mr Fox - 4/5

 

rq7JA9c.gif

 

 


Frankenweenie - 3/5

 

Tim Burton Tim Burtons the Tim Burtonest film that he ever Tim Burtoned.

 

(Well, almost. The only thing stopping it is the fact that Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter aren't in it. Elfman is present and correct though!)

 

Most of the entertainment comes from Victor's goth mad scientist classmates. (Except the Fat One, who's boring and just your standard interchangeable Kids Film Fat Kid.) No, the one I wish the film had focused more on was the character credited as "Weird Girl", who like many other female Burton characters (Large Marge, Sally from TNBC, Emily the Corpse Bride) has Big Eyes and is easily the most memorable character design in the whole thing. Unfortunately, in yet another regrettable example of Hollywood's blatant anti-cat propaganda agenda, her cat ends up becoming the main villainous threat. Booo!

 

Still, I'm feeling generous, so 3/5 for the craft of the stop-motion and the novelty of making a modern animated feature film in black and white.

 

Also on the film's disc is the original live-action Frankenweenie (1984) short with Shelley Duvall, which is notorious for being the thing that got Tim Burton fired from Disney in the '80s. (The story goes that it was intended to be shown in front of a re-release of Pinocchio, but couldn't because the MPAA gave it a PG rating. As Burton tells it: "I said to the MPAA, 'What do I need to do to get a G rating?" and they replied "There's nothing you can cut, it's just the tone." I think it was the fact that it was in black and white that freaked them out.") I'd seen it years ago on the Nightmare Before Christmas DVD, but remembered almost nothing about it. It's fairly charming, but overall I prefer the animated version because it has those classmates and doesn't have to worry about keeping bolt props attached to a real dog. However the original does contain the line "I guess we can't punish Victor for bringing Sparky back from the dead," which is funnier than anything in the remake.

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On 29/10/2019 at 18:56, Loik V credern said:

Dolemite Is My Name.

 

I loved this, how to sum it up without just saying it’s a heartwarming feel good film. A cleanser to all negative thoughts swirling around your head. 

 

Eddie Murphy is superb, but not neccessarily in being super smooth and confident like when he was 21, because he’s always playing a character here trying to put a positive spin on every situation and knock back. He transmits empathy and warmth. He’s likeable, the whole cast is likeable. Wesley Snipes plays kind of drunk camp and obnoxious, he’s also likeable. You wonder why they (as in Eddie Murphy’s character) is even hiring him, but that just makes it funnier. The entire shooting section from start to finish is perfect. It’s a really cohesive tight film without any weak spots aside from the slow opening and once it gets going it’s one that grows on you. 

 

There’s a friendship that develops between Dolemite and a female singer who he encourages to get up on stage and acts as his female equivalent that from beginning to end is wonderful. 

 

I don’t think they’ll be a film released this year that will have more charm.

 

Really recommended. It’s on Netflix. 

Watched this today and loved it from start to finish. It’s a love letter to Rudy Ray Moore and is about as saccharine as you can get but it earns every drop of sweetness. Utterly hilarious throughout.

 

A nice companion to One Cut of the Dead. Here’s to uncynical, heartfelt films!

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Skptrace (2016)

A Hong Kong cop gets involved with a conman whilst trying to take down a crime boss who has kidnapped his old friend's daughter. This Netflix buddy-cop throwback has all the elements for a great action movie... from 1990: Renny Harlin directing a Hong-Kong comedy/action film starring Jackie Chan. It has the stunts and fights Chan is known for, albeit edited to give itt a bit more momentum and give the aging action star a bit of help. That sounds a bit mean, I mean if I could do even a fraction of what 65 year-old Chan does in this I'd be amazed. And the classic end-credits blooper reel shows that Chan is doing his stunts, so all credit there. It's a shame then the whole enterprise felt a bit flat. The chemistry between Chan and co-star Johnny Knoxville wasn't really there, Knoxville did the super-irritating Yank thing well although it went beyond comedy-irritating to irritating-irritating pretty quickly. And this is another example of a film pumped full of Chinese money and clearly aimed at viwers in Beijing primarily. It certainly felt a lot more like a Hong Kong actioner, albeit a not-classic one.  Might be worth a watch if you have any nostalgia for the buddy-cop/HK comedy action thing, but a double bill of Cliffhanger and Police Story would probably entertain more.

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Been working my way through my watchlist of films I've always been meaning to watch but for whatever reason kept putting off. Reviews incoming!

 

THE DRIVER
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077474/

After chatting car chases in the Terminator podcast I realised this was on my list. I saw it late on TV in my teens and have never revisited it.

Known primarily these days as the influence for the Seminal DRIVE starring another clam and observing Ryan. Also the videogame series Driver, which began by simulating the truly excellent underground car park sequence.

Directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors) in his period of all cylinder firing. It is a punchy and exciting chase movie with a determined cop willing to try any dirty trick to catch the titular DRIVER.

Some of its tropes are so worn in now that it feels a little creaky today, but Ryan O Neill carries things with his bemused half smirk stare.

There are 2 big car chases in this movie, and I feel like I want to do a podcast to break the second one down. It cannot be overstated how much it holds up today. How exhilarating, well structured and beautifully executed it is. It might even eclipse Ronin as best car chase ever for me. I thought going back to it in this world of fast cuts and cars flipping and exploding that it might feel tired, but it felt heavier than ever. Knowing that everything you're seeing is being done by human drivers lends it a sweaty creedence.

And the end rug pull is just a fantastic coda for a fantastic film.

Any fan of Fast & The Furious should watch where it all began

7

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MONOS
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6062774/

One week and IRISHMAN is no longer my film of the year!

The floor of a cinema is not a particularly sterile place. So having my jaw lay there for two hours, tongue rolled out like Jim Carrey in The Mask meant needing to buy some mouthwash on the way home.

South America are absolutely killing the game and have been for about twenty years now (remember CITY OF GOD and Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN)

This time it's Colombias turn to give you thrills and chills with it's perfect blend of other-wordly landscapes, captivatingly dangerous scenarios and characters that drip with intensity, performed by actors you cannot take your eyes off.

Essentially it's Lord of the Flies in Spanish, as a young paramilitary troupe guarding an American hostage go slowly insane. But the way it is shot, with Werner Herzog levels of commitment to reality (I thought for sure one of the actors must have died during the river rapids sequence) and the brilliant script keeps you on your toes and on the edge of your seat.

It's definitely one for the big screen. It's stunning.

8.5

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LET THE CORPSES TAN

Fucking. Loved. This!

Like if Ken Russel directed a Tarantino script.

The third feature from Belgian visual stylists and genre twisters CATTET & FORZANI is a psychosexual western that's like a mashup of Jodoroski's EL TOPO, Tarsem Singh's underrated THE FALL and a James Bond opening sequence.

Narrative is both loose and tight simultaneously in the same brilliant way their debut film AMER was. The set up is simple, a truck has been robbed of some gold bullion and the gangsters are hiding out with a friend up in the mountains. A routine police check turns bloody and so begins a real time shoot out where alliances are formed, betrayals are plotted, jealousy leads to violence and new gods are born!

The genius comes not only in the utterly stunning visuals and sound (I mean really, it's absolutely gorgeous) but also in a couple of crafty devices the directors employ. The action plays out from several angles and at different times. So we may wind back 20 mins to see something play from another characters perspective. Or we may run forward and see glimpses of things that soon will pass. This keeps us on our toes, but also allows us to feel satisfaction as we do the work in piecing it all together.

The other brilliant trick it pulls is in turning the Gold bullion itself into a metaphorical character, wandering through the carnage, whispering in men's ears (and pissing on their faces), tapping into their greed in order to do her bidding (destroy themselves basically). it's a wonderful comment on our obsession with money. Especially when one character, who has been getting the better of them all, prays to St Mary to help him through the night and then is promptly killed seconds later (God is no match for Gold)

It feels fast and loose with its editing but is actually mind bogglingly tight and controlled. Stunning film making.

7.5

 

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TULLY
Charlize Theron plays a tired mother of three who forms a touching bond with her 'night nanny', a sort of sexually charged and kooky Mary Poppins.

Great performances all round and very touching. Doesn't go to the places you expect. Solid. And makes you realise as a working bloke that you have no idea what being a stay at home mum is really life.
6.5

 

THE YELLOW SEA
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1230385/
Hong Jin Na's follow up to the relentless THE CHASER is another weird cocktail. Gritty street level hustle movie about a down on his luck Korean guy struggling to pay his debts in China. Hired to kill a Chinese businessman he gets embroiled in a conspiracy between three parties.

Korean cinema is always worth showing up for. Stylish thrillers with plenty of action and great characters, set amongst stunning scenery.

This one has plenty to like. Seeing the smuggling operation in getting into Korea from China, and watching as our hero methodically works out how he's going to carry out the murder (which inevitably doesn't go to plan) is all awesome stuff.

However when we get to the chase, which takes up the whole second half of the film, the gear change is so bizarre it took me a while to adjust. Same with The Chaser, the gritty realism of the plot and characters jars with the utterly insane action, as fights with hatchets, blades and clubs see people stabbed again and again and again and carry on running, kicking, jumping, stabbing and getting hit with cars.

It's a film of two halves, but never less than entertaining. Not as successful as Seong-hum Kim's superlative A HARD DAY or OLD BOY. But then, what is?

6.5

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Under the Silver Lake
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5691670/?ref_=tttr_tr_tt

David Robert Mitchells follow up to the stunning It Follows is a bizarre Fever Dream set amongst the LA hedonism set. Its a loose murder mystery that is half Rear Window half After Hours.

Heightened direction and enigmatic performances combined with a woozy and unstructured plot lends it an air of mystery and fascination. Crammed with excellent scenes and vignettes its a shame that upon conclusion it amounts to so little.

Still, A director to watch.
6/10

 

A Stand Up Guy
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4060962/goofs/…

Not sure how this ended up on my watchlist. One to avoid. Male wank fantasy about a New York hoodlum who is in witness protection but then becomes a stand up comedian in the small town he's relocated to. Painfully unfunny, perfunctory direction and one of the worst Al Pacino rip off performances in history.

Avoid
3/10

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The Exterminating Angel (1968)
Dir: Lui Bunuel
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056732/…

Deliciously absurd satire about a bunch of upper class dinner party guests who for an undisclosed reason are simply unable to leave the party. What starts as a joke turns into a mystery, and then a nightmare as the guests begin to turn on each other.

I loved this. No explanations or reason are given to the ever increasing insanity, which features autonomous severed hands, purses filled with chickens feet and random encounters with bears.

A mischievous and ultimately pointless reverie. But great fun.

 

7.5/10

Border (2018)
Dir: Ali Abbassi
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5501104/…

Truly unique tale of a border guard who can smell criminal activity on people passing through her checkpoint, who one day meets someone whose smell confuses and captivates her. What begins as a fascination begins to unravel clues of her unusual upbringing as well as having ties to, of all things, a local paedophile ring.

Really didn't know what to make of this. Always engaging, surprisingly affecting, but just so damn strange. Looks as gorgeous as all Scandinavian films do and wonderful performances. But fuck man, weird!

6.5

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The Outfit (1973) is a brilliant heist thriller.

It's clearly a huge influence on tarantino and films like true romance.

Robert Duvall plays a thief who gets out of prison to find out his brother has been killed by 'the outfit', a gambling syndicate in California. So bit by bit he hits all their operations as he works his way up to Mr big.

Pretty much the most generic storyline ever. But Robert Duvall and Joe Don Baker are a magnetic duo and the litany of colourful characters and daring escapes combined with all the tough guy dialogue and frankly constant violence make it super enjoyable.

I love these old films where the main character is a total heartless bastard. His girlfriend gets blasted in the face and he doesn't even bat an eyelid, so hell bent on revenge is he.

Cracking prototype for all the 90s tough guy films. Loved it.

https://youtu.be/YBLuiXCGF6A

7.5/10

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Skin (2018) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6043142/
Billy Elliot plays the toughest of a family of redneck neo nazis who is having second thoughts about his commitment to the family.

Pretty by the numbers,but elevated by a great central performance from Jamie Bell and some wonderfully down n dirty photography. You know exactly what you're gonna get, but it takes it up a notch in the third act and the fact that it's a true story packs a punch.America has real problems.

Animal Kingdom is a better take on similar themes

6/10

 

Straight Time (1978) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078326/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Been meaning to watch this for years. Dustin Hoffman plays a petty con trying to go straight in LA, get a job and meet a girl. But his parole officer, the system and his own pig headed temper and repressed rage won't let him.

Absolutely blistering performance from Hoffman in its understated trying to keep a lid on things internalising. It's almost the polar opposite of what Al Pacino would do with the role. And its all the more intense for it.

Amazing back up from Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton and the impossibly beautiful Theresa Russell. Screaming Joe Sangre if you haven't seen it you'd love this.

Feels very Tarantino esque and the ending was clearly an influence on Michael Mann's Heat. Highly recommended.

7.5/10

 

Score ratings:
10 - Masterpiece (Apocalypse Now, In the Mood for Love)
9 - The best in it's genre (The Matrix, The Big Lebowski)
8 - Excellent film making that excels in all departments (Wolf of Wall Street, Whiplash)
7 - A good film (The Departed, The Avengers)
6 - Enjoyable. Has its merits (Flatliners, Fast & The Furious)
5 - Distinctly average (John Grisham films, Days of Thunder)
4 - Should have been better (The Hangover, Oceans 12)
3 - Not good (Adam Sandler movies that aren't Happy Gilmore)
2 - The worst of their genre (Transformers franchise)
1 - No redeeming value at all (Sex & The City 2)

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I really liked Straight Time but Theresa Russell’s character infuriated me. There’s nothing to her, and no attempt to explain why she’d fall for Hoffman and then stick with him as the situation escalated. 
 

Spoiler

He even nicks her car at the end and she’s like yeah fine!

 

That was the only bum note for me though. M. Emmet Walsh and Kathy Bates also deserve a mention for being excellent in fairly small roles.

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30 minutes ago, Michael J Glocks said:

I really liked Straight Time but Theresa Russell’s character infuriated me. There’s nothing to her, and no attempt to explain why she’d fall for Hoffman and then stick with him as the situation escalated. 
 

  Hide contents

He even nicks her car at the end and she’s like yeah fine!

 

That was the only bum note for me though. M. Emmet Walsh and Kathy Bates also deserve a mention for being excellent in fairly small roles.

Yeah but she's so fit though.

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I recommend The Nightingale! The director's follow up to The Babadook. Not read any opinions of it yet on here. It's set in Tasmania in 1825, and is very convincing and intense. 

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On 06/11/2019 at 17:26, Nick R said:

Frankenweenie - 3/5

 

Tim Burton Tim Burtons the Tim Burtonest film that he ever Tim Burtoned.

 

(Well, almost. The only thing stopping it is the fact that Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter aren't in it. Elfman is present and correct though!)

 

Most of the entertainment comes from Victor's goth mad scientist classmates. (Except the Fat One, who's boring and just your standard interchangeable Kids Film Fat Kid.) No, the one I wish the film had focused more on was the character credited as "Weird Girl", who like many other female Burton characters (Large Marge, Sally from TNBC, Emily the Corpse Bride) has Big Eyes and is easily the most memorable character design in the whole thing. Unfortunately, in yet another regrettable example of Hollywood's blatant anti-cat propaganda agenda, her cat ends up becoming the main villainous threat. Booo!

 

Still, I'm feeling generous, so 3/5 for the craft of the stop-motion and the novelty of making a modern animated feature film in black and white.

 

Big Eyes (2014)

 

Tim Burton reunited with the writers of Ed Wood for his first biopic since then, and it's also by far his most grounded and least stereotypically Burtony film since then - possibly ever.

 

There are loads of interesting ideas in there: the pressure of maintaining a lie over years; critically acclaimed high art versus commercially successful churned-out kitsch (why would Burton be interested in that, I wonder? :eyebrows:); divorced single mothers and female artists not being taken seriously in the '50s; husbands abusing wives by manipulating them.

 

The two problems are that those most of those ideas are not explored as thoroughly as I'd like, and that everything in the film is overwhelmed by Christoph Waltz's performance.

 

I was on board with the film for the first half, when the focus was primarily on Amy Adams playing Margaret Keane, and the tone was pretty well balanced. But then the film began to take the obsessiveness of Waltz's Walter Keane to ever higher levels, and it began to lose me. In the film's Q&A bonus feature, the real Margaret Keane says that Waltz's performance as Walter was not an exaggeration. But from the point when Walter tries to attack Terence Stamp's art critic with a fork (ranting at him in a way that reminded me of the artist-versus-critic scene in Birdman), the extreme fluctuations in tone threw me in a way that made me look less fondly on the whole film. Even though I found out afterwards that apparently some of the bizarre events depicted towards the end of the film *did* happen, I cringed at them instead of finding their absurdity funny.

 

The film has a narration voiceover, but it turns up so intermittently that I can't see why they bothered including it at all, or why the journalist character who delivers it is present for more than two scenes.

 

Reading reviews of the film, some people found Danny Elfman's score relentless and overwhelming, but that didn't bother me at all; the music avoids the clichés he's become known for in his other Burton collaborations, and doesn't draw attention to itself.

 

My rating's about the same as Frankenweenie: 3/5 if I'm feeling generous based on the good earlier sections focusing on Amy Adams, but I'm leaning toward reducing that to 2.5/5 because of how much the annoying elements in the second half bothered me.

 

As for the paintings themselves that are the whole point of the story, I'm with Jason Schwartzman's art dealer, who gets the film's funniest line: "Who would want to take credit?"

 

(A bit of trivia that occurred to me and that I should probably submit to IMDb: When Tim Burton was an animator at Disney on The Fox and the Hound, he worked alongside an unrelated artist who happens to have the same surname as this film's characters: the animator Glen Keane.)

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Project A (1983)

 

What genre is this movie? It starts off being about a rivalry between the HK Coast Guard and police (in some vague unspecified period that I think is meant to be the late Victorian era, not that it matters much).

 

Then it turns into...

Spoiler

...an army boot camp movie...

...then a police investigation...

...then the cop leaves the police, teaming up with a thief to snag bigger criminals...

...then it turns into a pirate movie(!)...

...and finally ends up as a stealth-em-up spy thing where Jackie Chan gets to wear the white tuxedo from Goldfinger.

 

You can't accuse it of being predictable!

 

This is best known as the one where Jackie Chan hangs from a clock face (in tribute to Harold Lloyd) before falling through two awnings and landing on is head. Then he stands up and continues acting to deliver a joke. Then he did an additional two takes of the stunt. (All three takes ended up in the film: two in the scene itself, the other in the end credits.)

 

But that stunt is not the film's only noteworthy thing. The clock face bit is preceded by a great fight inside the clock tower, where a handcuffed Jackie is attacked by a goon with an axe. And before that, there's a brilliant sequence involving riding bicycles through narrow alleys.

 

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Unfortunately none of the other action sequences can compare to that middle section of the film. However, the opening bar brawl has some fun jokes about fighters on both sides hiding how much pain they're in (alongside some really broad slapstick involving plates of food to the face).

 

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That opening fight is also home to the most mundane, but most painful-looking, stunt in all of the end credits outtakes.

 

No one watches Jackie Chan films for the plot and characters, but in this case I was surprised how unengaging I found the bits in between the action scenes, considering how unpredictably the plot swerves between genres. So outside of that excellent middle act, I don't think call it one of my favourite Jackie Chan films. But I liked it more than Wheels on Meals, the only other film I've seen where Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung appear together. (It also features Yuen Biao, another of their fellow pupils from Peking Opera School - though he disappears from the film for a long time.)

 

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