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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Same here: I heard Jimmy Kunz's wake up call to increase the size and performance of our testicles and I am still catching up randomly on movies I haven't seen yet.

The Help - I agree with a lot of what has been said already. If it wasn't for the great acting all around, the movie would be firmly in soap opera/chick flick territory. I especially was put off by the Norman Rockwell version (once again) of that era (around early 1960s America). I thought "Back to the Future" and even more so "The Truman Show" and "Pleasantville" lampooned it to the extend of it being a dead cliche - not a chance: business as usual: everything is way too clean and neat. All (!) cars are new and shiny except for the 50s Chevy Pickup, etc.
I already knew that, as a Hollywood flick, this one wouldn't take any serious risks. I would have liked it to be just a little more edgy. The movie, even though quite good, doesn't set the stakes high enough, paints everything in black and white (pun not intended) and most of the humor is sitcom level.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Goddammit: show the white trash asshole who ran over the son of Viola Davis' character in a flashback to really make us angry, show the black sorry ass coward beating the shit out of his wife, show some real white trash and black men who work just as hard as their wives - and drink and smoke just as white folks back then


Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:37 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Threeperf35 wrote:
Same here: I heard Jimmy Kunz's wake up call to increase the size and performance of our testicles and I am still catching up randomly on movies I haven't seen yet.

The Help - I agree with a lot of what has been said already. If it wasn't for the great acting all around, the movie would be firmly in soap opera/chick flick territory. I especially was put off by the Norman Rockwell version (once again) of that era (around early 1960s America). I thought "Back to the Future" and even more so "The Truman Show" and "Pleasantville" lampooned it to the extend of it being a dead cliche - not a chance: business as usual: everything is way too clean and neat. All (!) cars are new and shiny except for the 50s Chevy Pickup, etc.
I already knew that, as a Hollywood flick, this one wouldn't take any serious risks. I would have liked it to be just a little more edgy. The movie, even though quite good, doesn't set the stakes high enough, paints everything in black and white (pun not intended) and most of the humor is sitcom level.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Goddammit: show the white trash asshole who ran over the son of Viola Davis' character in a flashback to really make us angry, show the black sorry ass coward beating the shit out of his wife, show some real white trash and black men who work just as hard as their wives - and drink and smoke just as white folks back then


Good write-up, but go further, man! This is a disingenous movie. This is a historically-inaccurate movie that CAUSES HARM. Black people didn't go around shitting in peoples' pies and having some good laughs about it in 1960s America. They could get killed for that, not just fired without a reference. Fucking whitewashing shit.

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Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:41 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Good movie weekend for me as I offer up enough nuttage so that no one can claim I don't put my balls where my mouth is.

Andersonville (1996) (TV) ***

The story of the notorious Confederate prison camp, this is a TV movie but since it's directed by John Frankenheimer, it was more competently helmed than your average movie of the week. Nothing spectacular dramatically, but also interesting throughout its 3 hour running length and with no major missteps. Worth a watch if you're into the subject.

The Witches (1990) ***

Angelica Huston as a witch? Perfect casting. Nicholas fucking Roeg directing Roald Dahl? Perfect. Sure they change Dahl's more downbeat conclusion (not that that's a crime in and of itself, but the happy ending would feel forced here even if I hadn't read the book) and the main child actor is a bit annoying, but there's a lot to like in this dark children's film.

Crime of Passion (1957) ***

Now this was an interesting film. From a dramatic standpoint, it's nothing particularly special, but from a subtextual level it's fucking fascinating. It shows complete feminist leanings despite being made 6 years before Betty Freidan wrote The Feminine Mystique, it criticizes suburbia harshly (and from a woman's perspective at that), and is sometimes shockingly explicit about sexuality for a movie from the 1950s. This is why I love noir. It's on instant and only 83 minutes -- please watch it.

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Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:56 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:

Crime of Passion (1957) ***

Now this was an interesting film. From a dramatic standpoint, it's nothing particularly special, but from a subtextual level it's fucking fascinating. It shows complete feminist leanings despite being made 6 years before Betty Freidan wrote The Feminine Mystique, it criticizes suburbia harshly (and from a woman's perspective at that), and is sometimes shockingly explicit about sexuality for a movie from the 1950s. This is why I love noir. It's on instant and only 83 minutes -- please watch it.


I will definitely watch this sometime in the coming week--always looking for a good noir.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JackBurns wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:

Crime of Passion (1957) ***

Now this was an interesting film. From a dramatic standpoint, it's nothing particularly special, but from a subtextual level it's fucking fascinating. It shows complete feminist leanings despite being made 6 years before Betty Freidan wrote The Feminine Mystique, it criticizes suburbia harshly (and from a woman's perspective at that), and is sometimes shockingly explicit about sexuality for a movie from the 1950s. This is why I love noir. It's on instant and only 83 minutes -- please watch it.


I will definitely watch this sometime in the coming week--always looking for a good noir.


Sweet. Look forward to talking about it.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
It turned out that I'd only seen the last five or ten minutes of Libeled Lady, so I got to see it with fresh eyes, and I loved it. Spencer Tracy plays Warren Haggerty, an editor whose newspaper prints a story about a marriage-wrecking heiress Connie (Myrna Loy) who is innocent; further, the newspaper's owner has a feud (unexplained) with Connie's father (Walter Connolly, the father from It Happened One Night) so the newspaper is not entirely innocent. Thus the heiress files a $5 million libel suit.

Tracy hires libel expert Bill Chandler (William Powell) to make the case go away. The solution is to compromise Connie by making her the other woman in Powell's marriage. Since Chandler is unmarried, Haggerty donates his fiancee Gladys (Jean Harlow) whom Haggerty has a bad habit of standing up at the altar. Screwball hijinks ensue, many of them very funny, and of course there are all sorts of romantic complications. Powell gets most of the best lines, but Harlow has some, too, and is priceless in the big confrontation at the end. Really, all the lead characters are in good form in service of a fine script. (9 of 10)

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Threeperf35 wrote:
The Help - I agree with a lot of what has been said already. If it wasn't for the great acting all around, the movie would be firmly in soap opera/chick flick territory.


Bingo. That's precisely the main flaw.

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Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:12 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Syd Henderson wrote:
It turned out that I'd only seen the last five or ten minutes of Libeled Lady, so I got to see it with fresh eyes, and I loved it. Spencer Tracy plays Warren Haggerty, an editor whose newspaper prints a story about a marriage-wrecking heiress Connie (Myrna Loy) who is innocent; further, the newspaper's owner has a feud (unexplained) with Connie's father (Walter Connolly, the father from It Happened One Night) so the newspaper is not entirely innocent. Thus the heiress files a $5 million libel suit.

Tracy hires libel expert Bill Chandler (William Powell) to make the case go away. The solution is to compromise Connie by making her the other woman in Powell's marriage. Since Chandler is unmarried, Haggerty donates his fiancee Gladys (Jean Harlow) whom Haggerty has a bad habit of standing up at the altar. Screwball hijinks ensue, many of them very funny, and of course there are all sorts of romantic complications. Powell gets most of the best lines, but Harlow has some, too, and is priceless in the big confrontation at the end. Really, all the lead characters are in good form in service of a fine script. (9 of 10)


Glad to hear glad to hear! On my queue!

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Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:16 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Libeled Lady lost Best Picture to The Great Ziegfield, which also starred Powell and Loy. Powell was up for Best Actor, too--but for My Man Godfrey (which should have received a Best Picture nomination as well). I guess you could say he had a good year.

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Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:21 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
Glad to hear glad to hear! On my queue!


I hope you like it. Powell and Loy were always a good screen pairing, and Harlow was at her best at comedy. She reminds of Carole Lombard, who also died way too young. Tracy has trouble keeping up with his costars.

Speaking of which, my favorite of those films I mentioned is "My Man Godfrey," which is one of the best screwball comedies of all time. "Libeled Lady" is a respectable second for 1936. (My favorite 'screwball comedy' is "It Happened One Night.")

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006) 3/4

A really interesting look at the MPAA and their overall inconsistencies in the rating process. If you grade/rate docs on the biases that they hold, you may need to leave those habits at the door because this doc is heavily, heavily biased. However, the film's bias works to good effect, and shows the viewer the odd, secretive tendencies that this film board encompasses. This Film Is Not Yet Rated is strongest when examining the practices of the MPAA, but at times it seems to fall of this path by concentrating on the aspects of homosexual relationships outside of film. I'm not really sure what the doc is trying to convey by subtly examining these relationships, and it ultimately just comes off as extraneous.

After Earth (2013) 1.5/4

I don't think this film was a complete disaster, but by no means is this a good film. After Earth presents a pretty simple narrative, but there a multiple reasons why this film is thematically and emotionally unsuccessful--and quite frankly illogical. This film is set approximately 1,000 years in the future. Earth has turned into a giant venus fly trap, where everything has evolved to kill humans (you know because something on an evolutionary scale would actually happen that quickly), and the remaining population now lives on another planet that can sustain life. My main issue with After Earth is that it is completely void of any real emotion. Yes, Jaden Smith whines the entire film, and Will Smith plays a military prick that feels no fear, but thats all the viewer gets. This is a story centered on a father and son's relationship, yet there is little to no emotion. At times I thought the Smith's were members of the Vulcan race without pointed ears. Yet I was reminded that Vulcans don't have weird cajun-german-midwestern dialects. Jaden Smith carries the duration of this film on his back, and the film suffers for it. Jaden's arc is overall involving, and by the time it's finished it seems greatly unearned. To the film's credit, Shyamalan creates a handful of scenes that are actually tense, but this tension is short lived because the viewer is constantly shown flashbacks that shift all attention away from the present happenings. It's hard to become invested in a film that offers so little, while giving us characters that are severely unlikable.

Now, let me get merge into areas that just bugged the heck out of me.This may not come across as constructive or true criticism, but I don't care 8-) . Why 1000 years into the future are we fighting with wooden swords that transform--wouldn't guns be slightly more helpful fighting huge alien creatures? When a ship crashes shouldn't it let some futuristic air control know that it went off course or is no longer active, essentially why are distress beacons even needed this far into the future and why are they designed like small tennis rackets? Why do small drones with camera exists, yet no drones that can fight or yield any productivity not exist? I would go on, but I don't want to venture into spoiler territory.

Antiviral (2012) 3/4

I can't say I was completely sold on the narrative here, but I have to say I liked this film quite a bit. Not only is this a pretty solid throwback to the body horror that David Cronenberg introduced audiences to in the early eighties, it is also a pretty accurate commentary on celebrity obsession. For a first feature Brandon Cronenberg exemplifies some real talent. Not only are the horror elements on point, but the camera work and cinematography prove to be extremely effective and well done. If you have the chance, check this film out.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

I was quietly but poignantly disappointed with this. Its main problem is quite simply that it is not as good as the book, which gave a real human insight into the pains of adolescence through an almost exaggerated first-person perspective. The film fails by a number of measures.

It is shot to look low budget and austere, but the net effect of this isn’t to give it any sense of realism, it just means that it is bleak and remote and probably adds to the problem that the characters just don’t stick. Their introduction into the screen play is weak or non-existent, and I wasn’t encouraged to give a shit about their plight – which, by the way, is conventional as they come.

The book worked because the narrative trope of the plot unfolding in a series of letters gave a unique perspective to events that probably aren’t that unique – for example falling in love with a “party girl”; a macho alpha male running a secret gay relationship; smoking weed; worried about college, etc. In a book told through a genuine prism of innocence these things are big and interesting; but on screen, with all the seeming opulence and excesses of American Highschool life, they are trivial. And that’s what the film is - an utterly conventional indie flick, with a bizarre piece of stunt casting in Paul Rudd as his seldom seen teacher and mentor.

Disappointed

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Blue State

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's when a movie can be so much more than what it is, but is not. Blue State is one of those films. The premise is good - a Kerry activist, fed up with America after the re-election of George W. Bush, decides to hit the road to Canada, with a female traveler in tow. This, of course, makes for a great opportunity to mesh two of my favorite genres: the road movie and the romance. But Blue State misfires, and it's mostly because the lead character is so unlikable. He's basically a giant vagina, complete with labia, vulva and clitoris. He's every whiny liberal stereotype rolled into one. Now I consider myself a pretty liberal guy, but even I wouldn't want to hang around this dude. The contributions of Anna Paquin are mostly wasted. Shame, because this could have been good.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JackBurns wrote:
Antiviral (2012) 3/4

I can't say I was completely sold on the narrative here, but I have to say I liked this film quite a bit. Not only is this a pretty solid throwback to the body horror that David Cronenberg introduced audiences to in the early eighties, it is also a pretty accurate commentary on celebrity obsession. For a first feature Brandon Cronenberg exemplifies some real talent. Not only are the horror elements on point, but the camera work and cinematography prove to be extremely effective and well done. If you have the chance, check this film out.


I just watched this too in the past week and I agree with you that it's worth checking out for anyone interested.

3:10 To Yuma (1957) - It's a rare thing for me to see a remake of a classic film before getting around to the original. It's an even rarer thing when I find a remake that brings its own worthy elements to the table. Such is the case though with James Mangold's 2007 version of 3:10 To Yuma, a remake of this 1957 classic from director Delmer Daves. The plot of both films, taken from a short story by Elmore Leonard, revolves around down-on-his-luck cattle rancher Dan Evans. Broke but with a wife and two children to support, he agrees to escort notorious outlaw Ben Wade to Contention to board the 3:10 prison train to Yuma. Along the way, an uneasy bond will form between the two men, and Evans will have to decide whether to give in to Wade's temptations and let him go or to see it through to the end, taking a moral stand against a society that seems all too willing to cave in to amorality. Mangold's film stretches out the running length to show more of the journey to Contention, while also adding another wrinkle into the storyline with an extra emphasis on a father/son dynamic between Evans and his oldest son, who reveres the amoral Wade. Not only does Evans end up making a stand for himself, he also does so as an example for his son. The filmmakers behind the remake deserve credit for recognizing a layer to the original story that had previously been unexplored.

I'm starting to realize I've been focusing a little too much on the remake and not enough on the original. I don't mean to suggest that Mangold's remake is a substantial improvement over the original; the two films are really quite similar. Compared to Mangold's film though, the original is a case study in efficiency. The journey between towns is almost entirely excised, placing more emphasis on the conversations between Evans and Wade in the Contention hotel room. This is a good thing, as both Van Heflin and Glenn Ford are well-cast in their roles as the cattle rancher and the outlaw, respectively. Without any extra fat, there's a consistency to Daves' film that the remake doesn't have (the remake also changes around the particulars of the ending, to varying degrees of success). Still, even with its shortcomings, I feel like the remake provides a slightly richer experience overall. Extra emphasis on the word slightly though, because the original film has all the qualities of an essential western, very rarely if ever striking a false note. 8/10.

Repo Man - Every now and then, a film comes along that requires a little bit of an adjustment to get in tune with its particular frequencies. This 1984 film from director Alex Cox is one of those types of films (as well as a recent addition to the Criterion collection). Emilio Estevez plays the street punk Otto, fresh out of a job and drifting along aimlessly when he meets Harry Dean Stanton's Bud. He's a repo man, and it doesn't take long before he enlists Otto in the strange and occasionally dangerous work of repossession. Everything gets more complicated when a bounty is placed on a mysterious 1964 Chevy Malibu with a trunk full of deadly radioactive light (shades of Kiss Me Deadly), attracting the attention of rival repo men and government spooks. The film is a sharp criticism of 1980s culture. Everyone eats and drinks out of cans labeled "FOOD" and "DRINK". When Otto returns home for the only time in the entirety of the film, he has a one-sided conversation with his parents, who sit zombified in front of the television. Scenes will often start mid-action, including one memorable moment when our main characters walk into a convenience store, unaware of the robbery that just occurred there seconds beforehand. This might be the film's greatest achievement, its presentation of a society teetering on the brink of oblivion.

There were many times during the film when the action reminded me of something you would find in a Thomas Pynchon novel. Like so much of that reclusive author's work, Repo Man combines pop culture and government paranoia while focusing on outsiders living on the fringes of society. Novels like Against the Day and Mason & Dixon and Gravity's Rainbow make for good comparisons, both in terms of content and overall effect. I've found many of my experiences with Pynchon to be a little exhausting, and my feelings towards Repo Man are about the same. You end up remembering them as a series of memorable character traits and situations and setpieces, and really whether or not it adds up to anything substantial or satisfying by the end almost feels beside the point. But just as reading Pynchon novels can be refreshing simply because of their unwillingness to follow formula, spending time in Repo Man's oddball company ends up serving as a nice, if fleeting, break from the norm. 6/10.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Story of Louis Pasteur: Heroic Louis Pasteur overcomes the opposition of the medical establishment as he develops vaccines for anthrax and rabies, fights against childbed fever and promotes the germ theory of disease (although he never found the agent that causes rabies because it's a virus). Pretty good scientific biopic that started a bit of a vogue for similar films such as Madame Curie and Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet. I liked Paul Muni's performance. He had a reputation for overacting in his later biopics, but he sinks pretty thoroughly into his role, and there are pleasant supporting characters such as Josephine Hutchinson as Marie Pasteur and Anita Louise as their daughter. Fritz Leiber, Sr. plays the primary antagonist. The cinematography is pretty good considering the film was done on a small budget.

Pasteur's assistant Émile Roux became famous in his own right and we also get to see Joseph Lister. (7.5 of 10).

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Life of Pi (2012)

An author looking for inspiration interviews Indian expat Pi, because he has been told that Pi’s story will make you believe in god. Pi recounts his youth in India and his search for a spiritual truth, how Pi’s father, the owner of a zoo, decided to emigrate to Canada and to take all zoo animals with them and how, after the ship has sunk, Pi survived on a lifeboat with his only companion being a Bengal tiger.
Ang Lee’s multiple awards-winning movie is a spectacle to behold. It is extraordinarily beautiful and the special effects, such as the mostly CGI tiger, are amazing. Indeed, this is the first movie which might be even better in 3D (I saw it in 2D, the visuals are still great). If there is any criticism concerning the images at all, it could be argued that they occasionally verge on kitsch, resembling well-done airbrush paintings of jumping dolphins on car bonnets. But, hey, if it looks that good, why not.
As for the story, I laughed when I was supposed to, felt sad when I was supposed to and was excited when I was supposed to be. The movie may be too whimsical for some, but I really liked it. It also has some interesting ideas about storytelling and the importance of truth. So overall, it is very, very good and I rate it 8/10.

It could have been even better, though, if it weren’t for the fact that ‘Life of Pi’ suffers from a few big problems:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
First, I appreciate that ‘Life of Pi’ isn’t America- or Eurocentric, unlike the vast majority of Hollywood movies. However, the association of India with spirituality is a bit of a cliché since the days when the Beatles went to an Ashram. But that’s not the real problem with setting the beginning of the story in India. The problem is that Pi has a phase when he finds Hinduism, Christianity and Islam and makes up his own syncretic worldview, basically following all three religions at the same time and asking priests or imams for spiritual advice. This strikes me as total nonsense and unbelievable as all major religions – at least the Abrahamic ones – claim to hold the ultimate truth exclusively. Worshipping Vishnu or Krishna isn’t compatible with the Biblical first commandment “I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods”. The Islamic creed is “There is no god apart from God and Muhammad is His prophet.” which isn’t compatible at all with either Christianity or Hinduism. Any Indian even of Pi’s young age would be aware of the incompatibility of these religions, because the nation has witnesses religiously motivated violence since its foundation, particularly between Hindus and Muslims.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Second, the bookends of the story – the author visiting Pi – don’t work well. Pi narrates the main story about him being in a lifeboat with a zebra with a broken leg, an orang-utan, a hyaena, which kills the zebra and the ape, and a tiger, who kills the hyaena. Let’s call it the “tiger story”. Then, the author voices some doubts about the truthfulness of the story. Pi then tells a second story, in which he was one of initially four survivors, a broken-legged sailor, a mean cook and Pi’s mother. The cook first kills the sailor to use his flesh for bait and then the mother. Then, Pi kills the cook. The author compares the two stories and observes “So the zebra is the sailor with the broken leg, the orang-utan is your mother, the hyaena is the cook and, well yes, that makes you the tiger.” No shit, Sherlock! Did the filmmakers really think that the audience is so stupid as not to get the metaphor? This moment felt like an insult to my (and anybody else’s) intelligence and it seemed to be the main purpose for having the bookends at all.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Finally and most importantly, the movie is far less profound than it thinks it is. ‘Life of Pi’ poses the question of whether it would not be preferable to believe in an unlikely, but spiritually fulfilling story to believing in a likely, but grim and depressing story. As Pi puts it, in both stories – the “tiger story” and the “cook story” - he has lost his family and endured unimaginable suffering. None of the stories provide a reason for the maritime disaster. So what’s the difference of believing one over the other? Consequently, the author and two Japanese shipping experts who are investigating the loss of the ship, choose to believe the “tiger story” and the audience are invited to do the same. In my opinion, this is dishonest, because while the veracity of Pi’s story may be irrelevant to finding out the reasons for the sinking of the ship, this isn’t the question raised by the different versions of the events. After all, the account of the actual sinking of the ship is the same in both versions. The different versions of events matters a whole lot when it comes to finding out the reasons for the cook’s demise, though – either he drowned in a shipwreck or he was the victim of a homicide, justifiable as it may have been. The truth might not matter to the Japanese shipping experts, but it would certainly matter to other authorities as well as any of the cook’s family. And shouldn’t it matter to Pi as well? Is denial of one’s own wrongdoings the best way to deal with them? Isn’t it potentially very harmful to deny facts and to choose your own “spiritual” version of events, because you like it better than reality? I was reminded of a conversation I had with some Hindus from India a few years ago. They were holding the opinion that the truth of Hinduism was proven by the fact that the water of river Ganges, a holy river in Hinduism, was the cleanest of all, free from pollution and clearing all impurities once anything has touched it. Hence, like many thousands if not millions of Hindus, they would regularly bathe in the river to cleanse themselves. I am sure that they really felt cleansed and purified after such baths, but I am very doubtful as to the actual effects of swimming in the Ganges. From Wikipedia (seemingly based on reliable sources): “The Ganges suffers from extreme pollution … According to official standards, water safe for bathing should not contain more than 500 faecal coliforms per 100 ml, yet upstream of Varanasi the river water already contains 120 times as much, 60,000 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml … After passing through Varanasi … the concentration of faecal coliforms in the river’s waters rises from 60,000 to 1.5 million … Drinking and bathing in the water therefore carries a high risk of infection. … The incidence of water-borne and enteric diseases … among people who use the river’s waters for bathing, washing dishes and brushing teeth is high, at an estimated 66 % per year.” So what is actually harmful: Behaving according to the spiritually fulfilling Hindu believes or according to scientific findings?


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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
End of Watch (2012) ***1/2

Watched this with my wife and really enjoyed it. Love the camaraderie developed by the characters, love the feeling I got (like Goodfellas, though that's giving it a bit too much credit) of being around people I wanted to be around, cinematically, and would have happily watched it for another hour. Not sure the movie has much to say, thematically, but very good.

No Way Out (1987) ***1/2

What a cool thriller. A clever update of The Big Clock, a decent noir I watched a few years back, but with the increased stakes that only politics can bring, good performances, and a very nifty framing device. I highly recommend it to those, like me, for whom thrillers raise the pulse. On Instant!

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Quote:
No Way Out (1987) ***1/2

What a cool thriller. A clever update of The Big Clock, a decent noir I watched a few years back, but with the increased stakes that only politics can bring, good performances, and a very nifty framing device. I highly recommend it to those, like me, for whom thrillers raise the pulse. On Instant!


Big Clock is alright, I'll have to check this one out


Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:53 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
End of Watch (2012) ***1/2

Watched this with my wife and really enjoyed it. Love the camaraderie developed by the characters, love the feeling I got (like Goodfellas, though that's giving it a bit too much credit) of being around people I wanted to be around, cinematically, and would have happily watched it for another hour. Not sure the movie has much to say, thematically, but very good.

No Way Out (1987) ***1/2

What a cool thriller. A clever update of The Big Clock, a decent noir I watched a few years back, but with the increased stakes that only politics can bring, good performances, and a very nifty framing device. I highly recommend it to those, like me, for whom thrillers raise the pulse. On Instant!


Agreed with both.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:36 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Sightseers - Chris and Tina's vacation across the English countryside starts off innocently enough, as they visit cheap roadside attractions and enjoy romantic evenings in their slightly-grungy trailer. But because this is the new film from Ben Wheatley, whose last directed the gritty thriller/horror film Kill List, it isn't all that surprising when the vacation quickly takes a dark turn. The couple has an unfortunate encounter with a gruff litterbug, and not wanting anything to spoil their vacation, Chris decides to take care of the problem in a particularly gruesome way. The litterbug will be just the first in a long string of victims, as Chris discovers that he has a homicidal side. To his credit, he does make sure his killings appear accidental; the same can't be said for Tina. When she starts to join in, her actions are more impulsive and reckless, which doesn't sit well with Chris. The rest of the film follows their attempts to patch up their relationship as they continue to nonchalantly take care of more nuisances along their journey.

As would be expected with a comedy about serial killers, Sightseers requires a morbid sense of humor. Even though there are some solid laughs (especially the final moment, which achieves the perfect mix of shock and hilarity), the film operates more in the Ricky Gervais tradition by generating its humor through awkwardness and uncomfortable situations. Wheatley doesn't hold back on the violence either, and there are times during the film when it almost feels like a direct stylistic follow-up to Kill List; the British countryside hasn't looked this ominous since Nicolas Winding Refn's Valhalla Rising. To Wheatley's credit though the film never forgets its comedic roots. I have a feeling that quite a few cultural digs flew over my head, and that the film would register more with people familiar with the territory. But as a whole it works quite well, and it continues to establish the prolific Wheatley (who already has another film scheduled for release this year) as a director to keep an eye on in the future. 7/10.

Before Midnight - Looking at the slate of projected 2013 films at the start of the year, no other release sparked as much interest in me as Richard Linklater's revisitation of a screen relationship that started way back in 1994 with Before Sunrise and continued 9 years later with Before Sunset. It's a great relief to report that watching Julie Delpy's Celine and Ethan Hawke's Jesse interact with each other is as compelling as it's always been, but the overall experience this time is a little different, the conversations more intense and sobering in nature. Unlike the first two films, where the big question was "Will they get together?", the big question in this new film is "Will they stay together?". That shift results in a trickier and more distinctly more down-to-earth tone, as Celine and Jesse reach a critical stage in their now-established relationship. Even though the two of them are vacationing with their family in Greece, Celine is feeling pressure because of a new job offer and Jesse is feeling remorse over how he's missed most of his son's childhood and adolescence. These concerns force the two of them to recognize that their storybook romance might not have a traditional happy ending, that reality might have to come first.

I will admit that there was one point early on in the film where it almost lost my sympathy. Unlike the past two films, which consist almost entirely of conversations between the two main characters, Before Midnight incorporates more voices into the mix, at least in the beginning. One lengthy dinner discussion in particular between the couple and a group of well-to-do intellectuals made me wonder for a moment if I would find anything substantial and relatable in their discussions anymore. Fortunately, the film rights the ship quickly afterwards, returning the focus solely to Celine and Jesse, as they reluctantly head off to a romantic night in a hotel room that ends up serving more as an arena to air out their grievances with each other. There was a lot of laughter in my theater during this segment, but it was definitely nervous laughter, the kind that only appears during moments of prolonged tension. How it all plays out I won't reveal, but the end result is a film that, while maybe not quite as satisfying as the first two films, takes quite a few risks and establishes its own worthwhile and welcome identity. 9/10.

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