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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. 
 

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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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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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Quote

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

 

I re-watched a Clockwork Orange recently and the gang brawl in that totally reminded me of a big Jackie Chan fight. People flying around and getting chairs broken over their heads and shit. 

 

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except in hong kong :lol: 

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Pandorum (2009)

Crew aboard a colony ship bound for a new Earth awake to find things have gone horribly wrong. This is deep-space horror that owes an obvious debt to Alien, as these sort of films usually do, but probably more so to Event Horizon, not unsurprisng considering this was co-produced by Paul W S Anderson, and it brings with it the slick industrial creepiness he's known for. And like Event Horizon this is definitely a mixture of physical and psychological horror in space, although somewhat underdeveloped, at times rather muddled. Essentially a couple of crew members awake to find themselves on a damaged ship, they have no memories but soon find some nasty mutated things scampering about. Maybe the chaotic story was meant to mimic the confusion of waking from years of hypersleep, it's probably the excuse they'd use, but if it wasn't for a big dose of well-delivered expostion a way in that brought things up to speed it would have been a total mess. Production design is excellent, the ship felt huge, full of dark, confined spaces and massive chambers, with excellent atmosphere through minimal lighting. It's a shame then that the action suffers from 2009's biggest bugbear, fast-cut editing. It may generate excitement but it is hard to follow. Dennis Quaid does a good Harrison Ford impression, other parts get the job done without being stellar. Things did improve towards the end, it has to be said. Probably forgotten not long after release (this was the first I'd heard of it), I get the feeling this will be picked up in years to come as some hidden gem, it is technically fine, if a little murky on the writing side. Worth it for fans of outer-space terror.

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London To Brighton (2006)

Desperate to evade an angry pimp, a London prostitute and a young girl flee by train to Brighton after an appointment with a powerful client goes violently wrong. It's almost impossible to avoid using the word 'gritty' to describe this, the story, setting and characters make it all too easy to reach for the overused verb, but in lieu of something better 'gritty' is justified. Lying somewhere between socially-aware dramas from the likes of Alan Bleasdale and aggressive, sweary Brit-crime, the tone shifts about yet manages to stay reasonably consistent. The script does fall back on British gangster film cliches quite a bit, things like heavy use of the F and C words, plenty of barely-touched cups of tea in chipped mugs, hair-trigger crime boss with a couple of efficient heavies in tow, all characters chain-smoking in a pensive way, and many more. There are moments of grimy beauty though: the countryside seen through a greasy train window, a street with 90% of the shops closed, a freezing-cold seafront, the film does let some light shine through the murk. Some may find it a bit too grim, although the bond between Joanne and Kelly, with some bitter-sweet levity, stops it sinking too far down.

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Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

North Korean terrorists kidnap the US president and lay siege to the White House.  It's up to a disgraced Secret Service agent to save the day. This film got so much shit at the time, with critics slagging off the poor action and underwhelming experience. Yet I contest this is a fantastic bit mid-budget B-movie trash, albeit with some issues. At the time of release this was up against Roland Emmerich's White House Down, and whilst that film was fun in different ways it was far more tongue-in-cheek than this, the has the required silly/serious tone that makes this kind of OTT yarn enjoyable. The initial assault and take over of the White House is superbly done, any shred of realism or subtlety is exchanged for ludicrous action, each successive wave of terrorists bring more daftness, albeit with some convenient cliches like people hesitating and buying a few bullets or the good guy miraculously avoiding blanket strafing. It's this disregard for efficiency that makes it so enjoyable. A shame then the story slackens off somewhat once things calm down. Mind you, the cliche of the bad guys showing how bad they are by coolly executing people works really well here. The stop-the-clock ending was a tad knowing, right down the the keyboard snafu, but by then viewers will have bought into the daftness. Executions aside, the North Korean head baddie was rather weak, he was certainly no Hans Gruber. And as Die Hard rip-offs go Gerard Butler was no Bruce Willis, a bit to skilled although thankfully he did take a beating, wasn't too invincible, a real problem with action heroes of late. Okay so the action in the later stages was a bit weak , but the utter silliness combined with the pumped high stakes really did make for an enjoyable watch, certainly not up there with the best of action cinema but it delivered popcorn thrills, if rather US flag-waving patriotic ones. And I so wanted Morgan Freeman to say "Me, the president, again? Oh well". Missed opportunity there.  ignore the purists, it's not classic action but it exaggerates in the most enjoyable ways.

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Rise Of The Footsoldier 4: Marbella (2019)

In a bid to increase supplies of drugs for their club, Essex gangsters attempt a deal with a supplier in Spain but things don't quite go to plan. Alright, you tasty caaants! Yes, amazingly this is the fourth film in the series of no-nonsense sweary, violent Brit gangster films faintly inspired by the real-life Essex Boys murdered in Rettendon in December 1995. Any attempt to link this to real events has long since evaporated leaving standard issue crim fare, the major players reduced to convenient caricatures: the psycho one, the dim one, the hedonistic one. This time the action moves to sunny Marbella on the Costa del Crime, the story split into two threats, one a road trip from Amsterdam which I'm assuming was supposed to be funny consisted of pretty tedious scenes of giggling, swearing and drugs, and the other the serious business, lairy, cocaine-fuelled business. It's all pretty tired yet for fans this lack of innovation is doubtless comforting, albeit with extra sunshine. Craig Fairbrass is on autopilot here, it's all second nature to him by now.

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Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

 

I watched this because I'd heard several people praise it over the years for how "subversive" it is.

 

That subversion essentially amounts to the Pizza Hut product placement gag from Wayne's World stretched out to 95 minutes (almost every shot contains a gratuitously prominent logo of some kind), combined with a plot that's basically the "yvan eht nioj" bit from The Simpsons (an episode that originally aired very close to this film's release).

 

Being shot in 2000 and released in 2001, it's interesting as a snapshot of a period that seems like it was only five minutes ago, yet also kind of quaint. A time pre-iPod (everything resolves around MTV appearances and CD sales and packaging) and pre-9/11 (six months later, a plane crash wouldn't have been played for laughs!), with jokes about how Heath Ledger is going to be the new Matt Damon. As one example of how specifically of its time it is: Sega, Crazy Taxi and Space Channel 5 branding turns up all over the place - in a film that was released after Sega had discontinued the Dreamcast!

 

As a musical, it's not my thing. The Pussycats are not meant to be a comedy band like Spinal Tap, Bad News or The Rutles, but are intended to represent an Authentic band formed out of pure friendship and the joy of music, absorbed and corrupted by the music industry. Three or four of their pop-punk tracks are featured in the film, and I suppose they're fine if that's your genre, but to my ears they all blend together into one. When it comes to music I'd want to listen to outside of the movie, they're not exactly the Blues Brothers or even Sex Bob-Omb.

 

The other featured musicians, Seth Green's manufactured boy band Du Jour, are intended to be funny (the film opens with their song "Back Door Lover" :eyebrows:) and though they're not up there with my favourite boy band spoofs (Boyz 4 Now from Bob's Burgers and Boyz 12 from American Dad), they get some good gags in their limited screen time.

 

Because the film is funny. There are some very silly bits, a few fourth wall breaks, and it gets the obvious joke about the title band's name out of the way within the first ten minutes. Alan Cumming's smarmy record label executive is not quite Hugh Grant in Paddington 2, but he's coming from a similar place.

 

I laughed enough for it to easily pass Mark Kermode's six laugh test. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say "Jo͢s̵̡͜í̸eAn͏̡d̀͠T͘ḩ̷e̷̢P̨͘ús̢̕s̨̛y͞ć͜a̡͞t̨sÍ̵̵s̕Th͏e̶̕B̧e̷s͘͜t҉̷M͝ò́͜v̡įeEv̷̨̀è̴͢r", but I liked it!

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Love Actually (2003)

As Christmas approaches a vast array of characters discover the true meaning of love. This is one of those films I've put off watching. People tell me it's too sappy and I won't enjoy it, or it's romance and, being a fella, it won't be my thing. Yet I had to watch it, even if it was only so I could get it, understand what people saw in it. And frankly I'm really glad I did. I was expecting some trite man-meets-woman-falls-in-and-out-of-love-and-back-in-love-again-happily-ever-after kind of thing, but what I actually got was a rich, complex tapestry of stories covering all kinds of love, from a grieving father reconnecting with his son to a couple dealing with an affair right up to the Prime Minister falling for the woman bringing him decent biscuits. It's as though Richard Curtis sat down and wanted to get as much of this in as humanly possible, and he somehow manages to balance it all out and keep things even, sweeping the viewer along with it. There's are some really funny bits, especially Bill Nighy's ageing rocker, and it does subvert some of the more cliched elements of this sort of tale. Mind you, I found Kris Marshall's part a bit underdone. I must confess I had a big smile on my face by the end, despite myself. Granted I know a few people who would probably be physically sick watching this it's that sweet, but for people who can tolerate the saccharine, and have at least experienced some kind of love in their lives, in whatever way, they'll get something from this. 

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11 hours ago, Vimster said:

Love Actually (2003)

As Christmas approaches a vast array of characters discover the true meaning of love. This is one of those films I've put off watching. People tell me it's too sappy and I won't enjoy it, or it's romance and, being a fella, it won't be my thing. Yet I had to watch it, even if it was only so I could get it, understand what people saw in it. And frankly I'm really glad I did. I was expecting some trite man-meets-woman-falls-in-and-out-of-love-and-back-in-love-again-happily-ever-after kind of thing, but what I actually got was a rich, complex tapestry of stories covering all kinds of love, from a grieving father reconnecting with his son to a couple dealing with an affair right up to the Prime Minister falling for the woman bringing him decent biscuits. It's as though Richard Curtis sat down and wanted to get as much of this in as humanly possible, and he somehow manages to balance it all out and keep things even, sweeping the viewer along with it. There's are some really funny bits, especially Bill Nighy's ageing rocker, and it does subvert some of the more cliched elements of this sort of tale. Mind you, I found Kris Marshall's part a bit underdone. I must confess I had a big smile on my face by the end, despite myself. Granted I know a few people who would probably be physically sick watching this it's that sweet, but for people who can tolerate the saccharine, and have at least experienced some kind of love in their lives, in whatever way, they'll get something from this. 


I know lots of people who feel physically sick watching this. But not because its so sweet. Mainly because its offensively misogynistic. My daughter for one. 

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34 minutes ago, kerraig UK said:


I know lots of people who feel physically sick watching this. But not because its so sweet. Mainly because its offensively misogynistic. My daughter for one. 

There are definitely bits in there that fit that criticism. Kris Marshall's part was, I assume, meant to be funny because it confounded the viewer's expectations, yet it came over as some middle-aged man's wank fantasy. Generally it could be described as old-fashioned, it's not particularly progressive in its view of women. Love Actually is nowhere near as bad as Richard Curtis' The Boat That Rocked though, that's unforgivably misogynist.

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Angel Has Fallen (2019)

Secret Service agent Mike Banning is framed for an attempted assassination of the US President, he goes on the run to clear his name. Third in the 'Fallen' series of films breaks the Die Hard formula, exchanging it for another classic trope: the framed man fights back. And frankly this was a real let-down. Compared to the explosive set-up in Olympus Has Fallen, Angel takes a good 20 minutes before anything remotely exciting happens. And it's not really until the last 40 minutes or so that anything that could be considered action takes place, even then it's a confusing collage of shots of guys in body armour firing assault rifles and running about, it gives the impression of easy excitement yet is rather slack. Far too much down time and attempts at drama in a film that really should have stuck more closely to a trashy B-movie formula. The pay-off with the baddie was far from satisfying, although they did subvert a well-worn trope during the final battle.

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Xmas day is always movie day. So I finally caught up on my watchlist. Gonna compress..

 

Marriage Story  
A tight stage play remake of Kramer vs Kramer for the modern age and better balanced. But not fully balanced. Still, beautifully written and wonderfully observed.
3/5

 

The Report
A spectacular performance from Adam Driver in a one man show YouTube version of All The Presidents Men. Full of fascinating observations but very light on Cinema.
2.5/5

 

Free State of Jones  
Strong Cinematic character study on a shameful moment in American history. Solid film making and performances. Great cinema. Wish I'd seen it on the big screen. 
4/5

 

Call Me By Your Name
I struggled with this. Only due to my own prejudice. Beautiful love and life story, but in certain homoerotic scenes I embarrassed myself by looking away as though it were gore. I only volunteer this as confession. I still cried at the beauty of the central connection.
3.5/5 

 

Plain Soleil 
I watched this as a kid and didn't really get it. After having read the book and watched the Talented Mr Ripley I have to admit its a lost classic. Way more intelligent than the remake. Way more sexual. I love the remake, and I love what it did different. I'd say they play off each other really well, and I'd love to think that was Minghellas intention all along.

 

But fuck, will there ever be a Tom Ripley as sexy as Alain Delon?
5/5

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Watchlist number 21 (of 210!)

The Mule

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7959026/
 

Clint plays Clint in this gentle tale of an old slightly racist fogey who wins over the love of his estranged family by becoming a drug dealer.

Slightly odd politics aside, this is a perfunctory and very on the nose story with few shocks or surprises. Clint is just as watchable as ever and it is consistently entertaining, solid stuff.

6/10

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On 26/12/2019 at 04:48, kerraig UK said:

Xmas day is always movie day. So I finally caught up on my watchlist. Gonna compress..

 

Marriage Story  
A tight stage play remake of Kramer vs Kramer for the modern age and better balanced. But not fully balanced. Still, beautifully written and wonderfully observed.
3/5

 

The Report
A spectacular performance from Adam Driver in a one man show YouTube version of All The Presidents Men. Full of fascinating observations but very light on Cinema.
2.5/5

 

Free State of Jones  
Strong Cinematic character study on a shameful moment in American history. Solid film making and performances. Great cinema. Wish I'd seen it on the big screen. 
4/5

 

Call Me By Your Name
I struggled with this. Only due to my own prejudice. Beautiful love and life story, but in certain homoerotic scenes I embarrassed myself by looking away as though it were gore. I only volunteer this as confession. I still cried at the beauty of the central connection.
3.5/5 

 

Plain Soleil 
I watched this as a kid and didn't really get it. After having read the book and watched the Talented Mr Ripley I have to admit its a lost classic. Way more intelligent than the remake. Way more sexual. I love the remake, and I love what it did different. I'd say they play off each other really well, and I'd love to think that was Minghellas intention all along.

 

But fuck, will there ever be a Tom Ripley as sexy as Alain Delon?
5/5

I loved Official Secrets (give it a try if you haven't already) and went into The Report expecting much of the same. But it's really very dull by comparison.

 

Interestingly the latter ends on a wonderfully British cynical note; The Report tries to turn a national disgrace into an uplifting advert for the American constitution.

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8 minutes ago, Mawdlin said:

I loved Official Secrets (give it a try if you haven't already) and went into The Report expecting much of the same. But it's really very dull by comparison.

 

Interestingly the latter ends on a wonderfully British cynical note; The Report tries to turn a national disgrace into an uplifting advert for the American constitution.

 

Ooh, thats going on the list. Thanks. Although fuck you, I'm trying to make my list shorter. 

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Mankillers (1987)

A CIA agent takes a group of hardcore female prisoners and trains them to take down the renegade agent who left her for dead. Despite the slow start, just-about-does-it acting and super-low budget, a budget that seemingly didn't stretch to bras, this becomes rather entertaining towards the end, with just enough directorial flourishes here and there to lift the action above merely acceptable. It's straightforward stuff, a female Dirty Dozen in essence, worth a watch for anyone with a high trash threshold.

 

Should probably add this was directed by David A Prior who also did the fantastic Deadly Prey. Makes sense.

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53 minutes ago, Vimster said:

Mankillers (1987)

A CIA agent takes a group of hardcore female prisoners and trains them to take down the renegade agent who left her for dead. Despite the slow start, just-about-does-it acting and super-low budget, a budget that seemingly didn't stretch to bras, this becomes rather entertaining towards the end, with just enough directorial flourishes here and there to lift the action above merely acceptable. It's straightforward stuff, a female Dirty Dozen in essence, worth a watch for anyone with a high trash threshold.

 

Should probably add this was directed by David A Prior who also did the fantastic Deadly Prey. Makes sense.

83-88 was a fantastically debase shithouse of VHS dirge and I fucking loved it 

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Amazon Prime has a huge amount of trash yellow sleeve stuff on there at the moment. Films like Strip nude for your killer and New York Ripper. They make me feel all nostalgic n shit. I might build a VHS store VR environment where I can stream them on a shitty 14 inch CRT in the corner of the shop 

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8 minutes ago, kerraig UK said:

Amazon Prime has a huge amount of trash yellow sleeve stuff on there at the moment. Films like Strip nude for your killer and New York Ripper. They make me feel all nostalgic n shit. I might build a VHS store VR environment where I can stream them on a shitty 14 inch CRT in the corner of the shop 

 

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Uncut Gems (2019)

 

Howard Ratner is a New York jeweller and gambling addict, convinced that his next score will be the one to get him out of debt.

 

It's been a while since I sat and watched something new - in fact I think I've seen six movies this year, compared to the 365+ last year. No idea why this one intrigued me enough to find the time to watch it but I'm glad I did. Adam Sandler plays Ratner, a New York jeweller with mounting debt, an estranged wife and mistress, and a large opal he hopes will turn everything around for him. He's constantly playing side against side, in an effort to get more money to make bigger bets in hope of an even bigger score. It's a messy life and gets a lot worse when NBA star Kevin Garnett (playing himself) takes a fancy to the huge opal that Ratner has imported.

 

Made by the Safdie brothers, who made the excellent Good Times, this is a film that starts tense and never stops ratcheting things up. Sandler's Ratner is an awful person, with next to no redeeming features. Everything is about the bet, the score. He's slimy, conniving and over confident, yet manages to charm (or annoy) enough people to stop them killing him. It's a difficult role and Sandler plays it with 100% commitment. It's incredibly frustrating to watch him continually sabotage his wins in search of an even bigger one. The portrayal of addiction is very matter of fact, allowing the audience to judge (and perhaps gasp) at the lengths Ratner goes to. 


There's a solid supporting cast too, with Eric Bogosian, Lakeith Stanfield and Idina Menzel, who plays the long suffering wife. Julia Fox is also very good as the mistress. Despite not being an actor, Garnett makes the role work, and a cameo from The Weeknd doesn't take you out of the film. There's also a series of great incidental characters. But this is Sandler's picture, and he's in most scenes. Along with Punch Drunk Love, this might be his best role - however it's hard to tell thanks to how unlikable the character is. That's one of the few flaws in that it's hard to sympathise with anyone in the picture.

 

The tension is incredibly well maintained, from encounters with heavies, a tense school play and an awkward Passover dinner. You start to get stressed when Ratner gets a text or phone call, and you're on edge as he takes one thing from one person, pawns it for cash, then uses that cash to make a bet - hoping that he'll make enough money back to regain the thing he pawned. I found myself annoyed with the character - every time things look to be on the up, his addiction rears its head again. There's a fantastic scene where Ratner switches from utter despair to top of the world within seconds that is played to perfection.

 

My only minor gripe was the wrap up. While it worked well within the context of the story, it felt a little rushed, leaving a couple of ends loose. But it's a minor thing and takes little away from the film. A note must be made too, for the excellent synth score - which runs through the entire emotional journey the character takes. 

 

Well worth a watch.

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White House Down (2013)

Terrorists take over the White House whilst wannabe Secret Service agent and his daughter are on a tour. The other White House takeover film of 2013 is a significantly larger budget affair with master of the epic Roland Emmerich at the helm. How does it compare with Olympus Has Fallen? It's certainly a lighter touch, more of a buddy action film than the Die Hard homage of the rival. The action and tension is more evenly spread here, with thrills occurring at regular intervals. There's definitely more humour especially between Channing Tatum and President Jamie Foxx, but there are enough tongue-in-cheek serious bits to stop this being an outright comedy, thankfully. It did rather fall to bits towards the end, the inevitable air strike had no weight, and what happened to the cliche smart-arse hacker guy? Presumably he was left there with his umpteen monitors. With just enough daft action combined with straightforward bad guy motivation this wasn't that bad, certainly an entertaining watch even if it wasn't cinema gold. Good to see James Woods hamming it up. It didn't have the overt B-movie chops of Olympus, but it delivered more consistent thrills throughout.

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Undercover Hooligan (2016)

A police officer sacked from the force for violence is asked to infiltrate a criminal gang with a view to bringing down the leader and his family. Whilst not the worst Brit gangster film I've ever seen, and I've seen a few, this was a pretty sloppy effort with poor writing, wooden acting and a production that lacked the sort of attention to detail that could have made this a better film. In the right hands a low budget needn't be a hindrance, the limitations can force creativity and invention from the right director. Not in the case of this film, sadly, where the lack of budget extends to lack of care in all departments. The script is disjointed, rife with head-scratching plot points and threads that go nowhere. I found myself going "hang about, what?" more than once when certain things happened. At one point a character asks our anti-hero "do you like football?", by this point I'd completely forgotten this was supposed to be a gang of football hooligans turned gangsters. I'm going to spoil it so you don't have to watch it, thank me later, but the inevitable death of the top man was so messily-directed I had to spool back and watch it a couple of times to work out what happened. Also the protagonist is punished by the gang by being forced to have sex with an STD-infected sex worker and told he'd be put in some concrete - I mean guys, make your mind up or at least communicate. The fact the protagonist had a Tommy Robinson haircut was a real distraction too. And the whole thing has that doomy analogue synth serious soundtrack that matches the distinct lack of humour, even dark humour. Nice colour grading and a bit of depth-of-field cannot mask the inadequacies of this forgettable and unsatisfying film.

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (2012?! What the hell) 

 

Batman comes up against a most formidable foe in the guise of Bane, who threatens to destroy Gotham and its people. 

 

I honestly don't know why I never got round to seeing this at the time of its release. I caught a few clips on Youtube recently so set out to watch it properly. It's a strange creature of a film and while I enjoyed parts of it, it left me disappointed and wondering how they'd gone from The Dark Knight to this. After a great opening, the film spends so much time establishing the players and it felt like not a great deal happened for the first 45 minutes or so. I don't mind Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne, but here it felt like he got sidelined for Tom Hardy's Bane, whose almost jaunty voice really undid a lot of his character's menace. 

 

I thought Anne Hathaway was wasted as Catwoman, and while she looked the part, she barely got anything to do. I think the movie could have removed her character and not suffered a great deal for it (and that's not to knock Hathaway). Joseph Gordon Levitt was fine, but it felt like the film was trying too hard to set him up for the future, and at points it seemed like he was in his own movie. Marion Cotillard is a great actress, yet she essentially got to play a love interest for a bit, vanish for most of the movie, then suddenly show up for the end. Shame there wasn't more of Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, the former throwing in some solid work. Good to see Gary Oldman back as well, but he too was reduced to running round the streets. 

 

The plot didn't really work and I think in part that was because they spent so long focusing on Bane. Batman got to go up against him twice - and it was one on one fights, there was no figuring things out, trying to stay one step ahead. In fact, Levitt's character was more Batman-Detective than the caped crusader himself. I was actually quite surprised at how little Batman was in the film, and I did begin to wonder if Bane had more screen time. Hardy's presence in the role was strong, and his initial fight scene with Batman was every bit as brutal as it promised to be. His actions later were just as vicious. 

 

The annexing of Gotham had potential, but everything got explained or shown while Bane was giving his speech. The passage of time was handled weirdly too - and at no point did it feel like 50+ days had passed before Batman's return because everything was so compressed - and yet the film ran for over two and half hours. 

 

There was good stuff here, the fights were more grounded and brutal, the return of Batman was well handled. And while it didn't make a lot of sense, I did get goosebumps when the symbol lit up in the sky towards the end. The film looked great but much of it left me disappointed and looking for a smaller, more tightly focused story. Perhaps it would have worked better with less characters and things going on. Maybe it caught me on a bad day. 

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