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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
King Kong (2005)

Peter Jackson's re-telling of the great ape's story is a visual feast with plenty of action and wonderful attention to detail. On the plus side, the handling of Kong's relationship with the beauty (Naomi Watts) is really well handled. On the down side, the movie is REALLY long at a tad over 3 hours, and the final 2/3 or so really run the viewer through the ringer with action set-piece after action set-piece after action set-piece. It really was quite draining. The rendering of Kong is very impressive but sometimes when the digital artists try to do something "really cool", the suspension of disbelief can be a bit much. (I know Watts' Ann is supposed to be a somewhat physical performer on the stage, but the manhandling...er...apehandling she takes in the paws of Kong during various fight sequences would have had her in traction for months.)

As far as spectacle, that is certainly there...it just moves a bit too slowly in the first 1/3 and is then relentless in the final 2/3. Also wasn't a fan of Jackson's occasional use of disjointed slow-motion in certain parts...seemed too jarring which may have been the point, but to me just seemed like directorial flourish for the sake of directorial flourish. 3.0 / 4.0.


Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:41 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
Really off-topic, but I’ve been reading up old posts, and just realized: Has anyone known where Mark III has gone? For a period of time, he’s one of the more passionate and insightful film watchers on the site, and I enjoy reading him very much. I’ve never noticed he stopped posting until I stumbled on his avatar in an older post.

He volunteered to be a Mars colonist, and nobody's heard from him since.

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Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:51 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Snowtown

In theory, a film about the Snowtown murders should be good material. This one isn't, and I think part of the reason for that is the filmmakers' choice to take a fly on the wall approach. The film has no real dramatic peak; it's just very flat in tone all the way around. There's also very little conflict development as well. For a look at this kind of film done better, check out Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Mona Lisa

This 1986 film by Neil Jordan features strong characterizations, really strong acting, and certainly has its moments. But I feel it's a pretty mediocre movie overall. Too similar to many other movies I've seen without adding much to them. I mean seriously, some of those scenes are lifted straight out of Taxi Driver. Caine is a great villain.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Lame.

Killer Elite

Meh. Also lame. From what I've seen, it seems that Peckinpah had two masterpieces to give and that was that. It's astounding how the energy of Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs just disappears. Oh well.


Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:51 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
thered47 wrote:
Chinatown

[insert my standard I just don't get film noir monologue here]

Anyways, I didn't think this was too bad. Some nice acting on the part of Faye Dunway and Jack Nickleson. A few nice plot twists and turns. Some well done cinematography. But at the end of the day my overall feeling was "meh". This is basically a film about a consiracy involving water rights and real estate deals, with some tawdry incest thrown in at the end. In fact that's my biggest issue with this film, we spend so much time focused on the investigation into the water issue, that the incest material feels tacked on.

Which is a shame, as there was so much material here that would have been worth exploring. No, it didn't need to be shown, but what were the psychological effects on Evelyn? How does she deal with it in her everyday life? What exactly is the relationship (or rather how does it play out) between her and her sister/daughter? So many questions left unanswered while the film spends time focused on real estate deals.

Edit: There's also a glaring plot hole in that the attempt to discredit Ellis was destined to backfire and generally an obvious waste of effort from the outset. The more effective, "just kill him and dump in the river" method worked out much better, but by that time the baddies thought of it, they'd already dragged Gittes onto the case. Whoops.
-Jeremy


First of all, Chinatown isn't film-noir. Film-noir ended in the 1950s. Chinatown is neo-noir.

Secondly, I actually agree with you about the plot hole. I brought it up on the forum before. Don't think it hurts the movie though -- people in real life are often stupid, and remember that the victim and murderer were formerly great friends. I imagine it isn't always easy to kill your friends.

I don't really think you appreciate the scope of the film. This is nothing less than a film about a city itself. Real estate deals that allow the city to be built upon corruption and graft aren't trivial, they're the core of the film. The albacore, if you will.

And the incest is not tacked on. It is the rot at the core of the film's villain, who is the rot at the core of Los Angeles.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
MGamesCook wrote:
Mona Lisa

This 1986 film by Neil Jordan features strong characterizations, really strong acting, and certainly has its moments. But I feel it's a pretty mediocre movie overall. Too similar to many other movies I've seen without adding much to them. I mean seriously, some of those scenes are lifted straight out of Taxi Driver. Caine is a great villain.


Disagree completely. Loved the dynamic and the characters, and think your Taxi Driver point is reductive. It's like saying Taxi Driver just totes ripped off The Searchers.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Gwendoline (aka The Perils of Gwendoline, aka The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak) (1984)

The first time I saw this French import was when I was 16 and it first came out. The commercials and previews of the time made it seem like a fun Indiana Jones rip-off. And the first half of it sort of is, except with really bad acting, a silly plot, and lame dialog. But then in the 2nd half...man...things just got downright strange with half naked women running around in an Amazon-like society secretly living in the middle of the Chinese desert. I guess what more would you ask for from writer/director Just Jaeckin of Emmanuelle fame.

In what appears to be pre-WWII China, convent student Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen, Bachelor Party, writhing on cars in Whitesnake videos) has stowed away in a crate aboard a steamer from London (or Paris depending on your subtitles) to search for her father, a known collector of butterflies who has gone missing. Aided by her girl-servant Beth (Zabou Breitman) she enlists the help of reluctant mercenary Willard (Brent Huff) to track her father's movements that eventually lead them into the desert. From there, much sexploitation ensues, though it's mostly voyeuristic and a few steps above your average softcore porn in terms of "legitimacy" (i.e. it's hard to argue that the plot serves to enable the nudity as opposed to the nudity being a part of the story, but just not the central part.) There is an evil queen and a repressive society and gladiator duels and chariot races...it's all quite bizarre. There is some impressive location work and sets, and while there are a few funny lines of dialog, much of the "witty reparte" between Gwendoline and Willard is much too juvenile and obvious.

I've probably written more than the movie deserves, but it is considered a cult classic by many. Doesn't mean it's all that good though. At least it's only 90 minutes or so and it rarely bores. 1.5 / 4.0


Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:06 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Monsters University - As an animation studio, Pixar has very rarely settled for the easy option, preferring to explore new worlds and characters rather than revisit old ones. Because of this, it’s a little tougher for me to build up much enthusiasm for a return to a world that felt thoroughly worked over in a (admittedly great) film from over a decade ago, especially so soon after Cars 2, their least ambitious and least successful effort. Rather than continue forward from the events of the first film, Pixar has perhaps wisely chosen the prequel route, telling the story of how Mike and Sully first met in college and their gradual move from bitter rivals to close friends. Predictably, most of the film is made up of riffs from college movies like Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds, with a little bit of Carrie thrown in for good measure. None of this material really stands out as the sharpest Pixar has to offer, but the film gets away with it through a strong sense of timing and the clever twists the jokes are given to fit with the “monstrous” environment. Less predictable is the film’s final third, when it moves away from the more standard-order college hijinks for something a little more substantial. The final climax is the standout sequence, a brief venture out of the bright color palette of the monster world and into the darker, more ominous human world, with the isolated setting and the strong emphasis on flashlight beams evoking the early moments of Steven Spielberg’s E.T.

Like most animated films these days, Monsters University preaches the importance of friendship and teamwork. More important is the film’s main thematic arc, which focuses on Mike’s childhood dreams of becoming a scarer, and his realization in college that his career aspirations might not be the best fit for him. For Mike, the lesson seems to be “Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, but make sure you have realistic expectations and don’t try to be someone you’re not!” It’s a more sobering message than what I was expecting, and however truthful it may be, I’m not entirely sure it’s the kind of message you really should be sending out to the children in the audience. The message is also mishandled slightly, particularly when the film reaches the resolutions of a handful of supporting characters, where the message seems to be “Don’t give up on your dreams too quickly!” Pixar has built a reputation out of reaching a little further thematically with their films compared to the works of other animation studios, but they don’t quite nail it here in the same way as they have in the past. Still, this is a step back in the right direction after a little bit of a rough patch, and it reestablishes some hope that in the next few years the studio is really going to regain its form. 7/10.

Drive, He Said - The lifespan of the BBS production company may have been short, but it was responsible for a number of legitimate cinema landmarks, films like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, and The Last Picture Show. Sandwiched in between those films is the directorial debut of BBS regular Jack Nicholson. Adapted from a novel by Jeremy Larner, with additional screenplay work supposedly by Robert Towne and Terrence Malick, the film follows the exploits of two college roommates in the early 1970s. One is a basketball player who is having an affair with a married woman (Karen Black, not given much to do other than be abused both verbally and physically). He likes to mope around a lot and act like he deserves special treatment over everyone else. The other is a pill-popping radical who stages protest demonstrations and harbors paranoid delusions that the government is targeting him. He takes a lot of drugs and makes a complete idiot of himself at the draft physical exams. Both are monumentally irritating, and spending time in their company is a tough task. Any interest in the film comes from the supporting roles, particularly Bruce Dern as the high-strung basketball coach that doesn’t take any nonsense from his players. He commands the screen every time he shows up, but he’s not around long enough to be considered a major piece of the film.

It’s tough to get a handle on what Nicholson was going for here. Does he sympathize with these characters’ problems, and does he expect the viewer to care too? That becomes just about impossible when one of them informs his pregnant lover of his STD and the other one later on tries to rape her. The film doesn’t really have much concern for its female characters, even though they seem to be the ones getting hurt the most. Maybe the point was to demonstrate some of the darker aspects of college life during the time period, an era of general youth dissatisfaction, resulting in student protests, extreme drug use, and new attitudes toward sexuality. Mission accomplished I guess, but I feel like that could have still been done without focusing on characters you just want to strangle every time they walk onscreen. 3/10.

A Safe Place - Along with Jack Nicholson’s Drive, He Said, the debut feature from Henry Jaglom could be called the ”black sheep” of the era-defining BBS catalogue. The major difference between the two films is that, while Nicholson’s film is a very male-centric affair about the travails of two obnoxious college students, Jaglom’s film is more female-oriented, focusing on a young woman living something of a bohemian lifestyle in early 1970s New York. Her existence is not a happy one though, as she struggles with connecting to the people around her, in particular two lovers played by Phil Proctor and Jack Nicholson. Unable to deal with her situation, she finds herself retreating into a kind of fantasy world, a “safe place,” where she meets up with the comforting presence of a street magician, played by Orson Welles.

Now, I just made an attempt to describe what goes on in A Safe Place, but to be honest I can’t really say for sure if I got it completely right. Jaglom has built a reputation throughout his career on doing things his own way, always working independently and consequently not bound by any obligation to narrative or traditional structure. He talks in one of the DVD extras about how he was influenced by filmmakers like Antonioni and Godard, and you can certainly see that influence in the film, only without the strength of vision that those filmmakers brought to the screen. What I can say for certain is that the film is one of the more ponderous viewings I’ve made my way through in a very long time, just slightly over 90 minutes of complete nonsense. Orson Welles can kind of get away with spouting nonsense because, well, he’s Orson Welles, and his presence onscreen is almost always worth at least something. But most of the time the focus is on the unsympathetic Tuesday Weld, who makes the already-insufferable script even more so. It’s rare that a film comes along where I can find nothing to compliment or signal out as compelling, but this is one of them. My trek through the films of the BBS production company has mostly been incredibly rewarding, but I can say with absolute certainty that I won’t be returning to A Safe Place. 2/10.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Tonight You're Mine (aka You Instead) is an interesting experiment: It's a romantic comedy in which two rockers (Luke Treadaway and Natalia Tena) from different bands are feuding because of a meet-cute and are handcuffed together overnight by a preacher so they can learn to get along. Of course they do, and fall in love.

What's interesting (and sometimes exasperating) is that this was all filmed during a huge five-day rock festival, T in the Park 2010 in Balado, Scotland. Both bands are on-stage during the festival. This means a lot of wobbly camera work, and some awkwardness since they couldn't very well re-shoot after the festival. It also gives the film an amateurish feel and a good soundtrack, with a cast of 80,000.

I was wondering why Tena looked so familiar. She's Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter movies and Osha on Game of Thrones, and had minor parts in About a Boy and Mrs. Henderson Presents. And she's a rock singer.

I was truly disappointed they didn't combine the two bands and call themselves The 39 Steps,(6 of 10).

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Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:41 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
Snowtown

In theory, a film about the Snowtown murders should be good material. This one isn't, and I think part of the reason for that is the filmmakers' choice to take a fly on the wall approach. The film has no real dramatic peak; it's just very flat in tone all the way around. There's also very little conflict development as well. For a look at this kind of film done better, check out Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.


I agree with this review. I have read a great deal on the numerous real-life muders that have occured in Adelaide and was looking forward to this -but as you say, the tone is flat.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Heat (2013) 2/4

Melissa McCarthy has truly become a one-trick-actor similar to that of Zach Galifianakis, a person who is sought by studios to fill a role that they have played before to great effect. The Heat, Paul Feig’s newest film, reminds me of Due Date, a film that stared Zackie G after the unsuspecting success of The Hangover. Much like Due Date, The Heat is a mash up of a well-known actor and a semi-well known “funny” one. McCarthy is given free reign to be as rude and obnoxious as possible, and for the most part it works. With that said, this film never feels like anything more than a giant playground where McCarthy can freely “strut her stuff.” McCarthy’s typical humor and Sandra Bullock’s overall presence combined with multitudes of female clichés, makes this film completely tiring to watch. All in all, The Heat doesn’t do anything new for the buddy cop comedy or for comedies in general for that matter, and the occasional laugh isn’t enough to save this film from the brink of absurdity.

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 (2009) 3.5/4

Really glad I finally checked this out. The mystery at the center of this film is pretty engaging, although sort of simplistic (trying to understand the thick English accents is half of the work). However, this film sports a stylized edge that I truly admired. Every scene is captured almost perfectly, and the cinematography is down right amazing. While the romantic angle of this film never quite worked for me, it is sort of easily forgiven; this film accomplishes so much in 100 minutes that it is at times simply awe inspiring.

Despicable Me (2009) 2.5/4

A small black haired girl named Agnus screams a line of dialogue in the film that goes something like, “Its so fluffy I’m going to die.” Agnus’ line describes Despicable Me pretty well actually. There is no denying that this film has a lot of fluff attached to it, and the emotion is a tad too sweet at times. Yet I still found this film enjoyable to a degree--getting in a few good laughs at the expense of the Minions and the silly escapades that transpire throughout the films duration.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Detropia

This documentary is about the continued decline of Detroit, Michigan...and also tangentially about how the death of Detroit mirrors the death of the American Dream. It's sobering to see this film, to see what Detroit once was, and what has happened to it. Detropia isn't a happy film, but it's worth watching.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

I had avoided this because the title made it seem, well dumb. Then my partner put it on the netflix list, which made me notice that Alan Tudyc was in it. The rest as they say was history. Man am I glad I did. Exists in the same general sphere of filmdom as The Cabin in the Woods, and while perhaps not quite as good, it sure comes close.

The main plot starts out by introducing us to the proverbial group of college students who are on their way to spending vacation camping in the woods. They run into some hillbillies, and the films switches to their perspective. From there we follow Tucker and Dale who are then subsequently mistaken for psycho murders by the students thanks to a series of escalating misunderstandings. There are some brilliant moments, such as when Tucker goes to cut up a log with a chainsaw but finds a bees nest inside. This causes him to go running towards one of the students, who thinks he's being chased by a psycho chainsaw killer. There's this great shot where Tucker overtakes the student, and their running side by side, where they look at each other in shock and confusion.

Highly recommended.

-Jeremy

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Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:42 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JackBurns wrote:

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 (2009) 3.5/4

Really glad I finally checked this out. The mystery at the center of this film is pretty engaging, although sort of simplistic (trying to understand the thick English accents is half of the work). However, this film sports a stylized edge that I truly admired. Every scene is captured almost perfectly, and the cinematography is down right amazing. While the romantic angle of this film never quite worked for me, it is sort of easily forgiven; this film accomplishes so much in 100 minutes that it is at times simply awe inspiring.
.


Yes! Now go watch 1980 WHICH IS EVEN BETTER!

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
thered47 wrote:
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

I had avoided this because the title made it seem, well dumb. Then my partner put it on the netflix list, which made me notice that Alan Tudyc was in it. The rest as they say was history. Man am I glad I did. Exists in the same general sphere of filmdom as The Cabin in the Woods, and while perhaps not quite as good, it sure comes close.

The main plot starts out by introducing us to the proverbial group of college students who are on their way to spending vacation camping in the woods. They run into some hillbillies, and the films switches to their perspective. From there we follow Tucker and Dale who are then subsequently mistaken for psycho murders by the students thanks to a series of escalating misunderstandings. There are some brilliant moments, such as when Tucker goes to cut up a log with a chainsaw but finds a bees nest inside. This causes him to go running towards one of the students, who thinks he's being chased by a psycho chainsaw killer. There's this great shot where Tucker overtakes the student, and their running side by side, where they look at each other in shock and confusion.

Highly recommended.

-Jeremy


I'm hurt. I have been singing it's praises and urging people here to watch this since before it was officially released. I saw it here at the Munich Fantasy Film Festival when it was still struggling to find a distributor.

Why smart, funny, well-made films like this, even with "name" actors (small names, but still) can't even get distributed when so much schlock gets spewed forth all the time and repeatedly financed is one of the mysteries of the film business. In the end, T&D vs E won so many film festival awards and fan favorite polls, it did get picked up, though not for wide release and only nearly two years after being made.


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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Safety Last - If there’s any kind of significant gap in my silent film viewing, it’s the films of Harold Lloyd. The recent release by Criterion of Lloyd’s most famous film Safety Last, from 1922, finally gave me a good opportunity to correct that unfortunate absence. In a plot that shares some similarities with a few other films made around the same couple of decades (most noticeably the 1936 Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical Swing Time), Lloyd takes a temporary leave from his fiancé to become successful in the big city. When he gets there, however, he finds that making a big impression might not be as easy as he initially thought. It’s a fairly standard-order through-line, lacking the more socially-conscious elements of Chaplin or the pure ingenuity of Buster Keaton. Perhaps because it was made in the Roaring Twenties, a considerably more optimistic time in American history, there wasn’t as much concern with stretching the boundaries with regards to plot.

Still, when it comes to silent comedy, plot is rarely if ever the main concern. Like Chaplin and Keaton, Lloyd was an extremely gifted comic performer, although he had a different enough style to stand apart from his silent film contemporaries. His screen persona reminded me a little of Woody Allen is some of his earlier, more slapstick-oriented comedies, neurotic and oftentimes completely exasperated with his surroundings. Even with the threadbare plotting, the film is still full of classic bits of comedy. Lloyd and his roommate pretending to be coat racks to fool the landlord, Lloyd trying to hop on a streetcar overflowing with people, Lloyd’s attempts to avoid the department store manager. And of course, there is the famous moment of Lloyd hanging on to the clock hands while climbing 12 stories, which is really only one memorable moment out of several in what turns out to be a 20-minute long final climactic setpiece (which was done by building a climbing wall on top of a tower and using trick photography, but Lloyd handled the climbing mostly by himself, even though he had lost fingers on his right hand in an accidental prop explosion a few years earlier). At a brisk 73 minutes, the film never has downtime, and it remains terrifically entertaining throughout. Now that I’ve seen his most famous film, I’ll certainly be making time for more of Harold Lloyd. 9/10.

Much Ado About Nothing (2013) - The works of William Shakespeare have a long history of being adapted to film, but with Much Ado About Nothing, there has really been only one high-profile film adaptation until now, which was the 1993 film from Kenneth Branagh. Compared to that lavish film, this new adaptation from Joss Whedon is much more modest, shot over a period of 12 days at his house, with a cast mostly made up of Whedon regulars. For me, this is a little more preferable over Branagh’s vision, which was probably truer to the original intent of the text but was sometimes a little tough to take seriously, with its cast members frolicking around the Tuscan countryside. Whedon’s film, by contrast, is stripped down and sexy, with its modern setting, black-and-white cinematography, and overall jazzy atmosphere. Despite preserving the original Shakespearean dialogue, there’s a kind of improvisational feel to the production, and you get the sense that certain shots and stagings were made up on the fly. Whedon also takes a little inspiration from Branagh’s version of Hamlet, using some brief, sometimes almost subliminal cutaways from the action to past events that fill out some of the subtext of the material (the first scene is a flashback to a “morning after” moment between central characters Beatrice and Benedick).

The film as a whole is very well cast in both its lead and supporting roles, but special mention should be made of three performers. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof, like Emma Thompson and Branagh before them, play their respective roles as Beatrice and Benedick perfectly. The verbal sparring between these characters has always been the most enjoyable element of this play, and if you cast those roles wrong, your production is essentially doomed before it even starts up. But Acker and Denisof are up to the challenge; their interactions bring to mind some of the classic screwball comedies of the 1930s (you could almost say that Beatrice and Benedick were the original screwball couple). Elsewhere, Nathan Fillion, a rare but always welcome screen presence, nails his small role as Dogberry. Whedon wisely gives more focus to these characters rather than the frankly blander interactions of Claudio and Hero, and the film is all the better for it. It’s a production that flies by with ease, maybe the most casually enjoyable Shakespeare adaptation ever made. 8/10.

Bottle Shock - This 2008 film is the definition of a cinematic palette cleanser, a film more modest in its ambitions but also one that is not without its small pleasures. Alan Rickman plays a wine specialist who comes up with the idea of a blind taste testing of French and American wines. His attitude at first is that the French wines are infinitely superior to the American ones, but when he journeys to California to tour the vineyards, he finds the wines to be much better than he expected them to be. The best material in the film, unsurprisingly, all has to do with Rickman. He does droll and very British better than anybody; when one character asks him “Why don’t I like you?”, he responds ”Because you think I’m an arsehole. And I’m not, really. I’m just British and, well… you’re not.” He’s also involved in some interesting discussions about the history and internal politics of winemaking, and how California winemakers had to struggle to attain respectability in the eyes of Europeans, with their deep allegiances to French wine, and the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, both Rickman and this angle take a backseat to the family drama surrounding a struggling Californian vintner (Bill Pullman) and his somewhat dysfunctional relationship with his slacker son (Chris Pine, sporting a terrible wig). This material is handled efficiently enough, but it also introduces to the film the implausibly beautiful intern played by Alice Eve lookalike Rachael Taylor. It’s tough to view her character as anything more than a writer’s construct, there only to set up a romantic triangle between her, Pine, and the sensitive aspiring vintner (Freddy Rodriguez). She sticks out like a sore thumb, and every time the film seems to be reaching for something more interesting, she comes back onscreen to bring everything back down again. To make a forced comparison to other wine-related films, Bottle Shock isn’t Alexander Payne’s Sideways, it’s not the incredible vintage that belongs on a collector’s shelf. It’s more like the $10 bottle of wine I’ll have every now and then; it will never be mistaken for anything special, but it goes down smooth and it gets the job done. 5/10.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
thered47 wrote:
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Highly recommended.

-Jeremy


I agree. I still feel bad (almost a feeling of shame really) that I laughed at some of the things I laughed at. But I have seldom laughed as hard or as much with any movie and commend the creative forces that were able to craft such material into a brilliantly funny movie.


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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Blonde Almond wrote:

Bottle Shock - This 2008 film is the definition of a cinematic palette cleanser, a film more modest in its ambitions but also one that is not without its small pleasures. Alan Rickman plays a wine specialist who comes up with the idea of a blind taste testing of French and American wines. His attitude at first is that the French wines are infinitely superior to the American ones, but when he journeys to California to tour the vineyards, he finds the wines to be much better than he expected them to be. The best material in the film, unsurprisingly, all has to do with Rickman. He does droll and very British better than anybody; when one character asks him “Why don’t I like you?”, he responds ”Because you think I’m an arsehole. And I’m not, really. I’m just British and, well… you’re not.” He’s also involved in some interesting discussions about the history and internal politics of winemaking, and how California winemakers had to struggle to attain respectability in the eyes of Europeans, with their deep allegiances to French wine, and the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, both Rickman and this angle take a backseat to the family drama surrounding a struggling Californian vintner (Bill Pullman) and his somewhat dysfunctional relationship with his slacker son (Chris Pine, sporting a terrible wig). This material is handled efficiently enough, but it also introduces to the film the implausibly beautiful intern played by Alice Eve lookalike Rachael Taylor. It’s tough to view her character as anything more than a writer’s construct, there only to set up a romantic triangle between her, Pine, and the sensitive aspiring vintner (Freddy Rodriguez). She sticks out like a sore thumb, and every time the film seems to be reaching for something more interesting, she comes back onscreen to bring everything back down again. To make a forced comparison to other wine-related films, Bottle Shock isn’t Alexander Payne’s Sideways, it’s not the incredible vintage that belongs on a collector’s shelf. It’s more like the $10 bottle of wine I’ll have every now and then; it will never be mistaken for anything special, but it goes down smooth and it gets the job done. 5/10.


Thanks for this review. I've had it on my kinda-interested list for a while and now I can safely keep it off

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Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:19 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
MunichMan wrote:
thered47 wrote:
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

I had avoided this because the title made it seem, well dumb. Then my partner put it on the netflix list, which made me notice that Alan Tudyc was in it. The rest as they say was history. Man am I glad I did. Exists in the same general sphere of filmdom as The Cabin in the Woods, and while perhaps not quite as good, it sure comes close.

The main plot starts out by introducing us to the proverbial group of college students who are on their way to spending vacation camping in the woods. They run into some hillbillies, and the films switches to their perspective. From there we follow Tucker and Dale who are then subsequently mistaken for psycho murders by the students thanks to a series of escalating misunderstandings. There are some brilliant moments, such as when Tucker goes to cut up a log with a chainsaw but finds a bees nest inside. This causes him to go running towards one of the students, who thinks he's being chased by a psycho chainsaw killer. There's this great shot where Tucker overtakes the student, and their running side by side, where they look at each other in shock and confusion.

Highly recommended.

-Jeremy


I'm hurt. I have been singing it's praises and urging people here to watch this since before it was officially released. I saw it here at the Munich Fantasy Film Festival when it was still struggling to find a distributor.

Why smart, funny, well-made films like this, even with "name" actors (small names, but still) can't even get distributed when so much schlock gets spewed forth all the time and repeatedly financed is one of the mysteries of the film business. In the end, T&D vs E won so many film festival awards and fan favorite polls, it did get picked up, though not for wide release and only nearly two years after being made.


There's something about the title that automatically made me assume it was on Imdb's bottom 100 list or something. I have no idea why. It must have something to do with the fact that it includes the term "vs." on it. How often does that in the title lead to anything good?

On the other hand, I think the film was a victim of it's own cleverness. While the college students' were treated on occasionally, somewhat sympathetically, most of the laughs were at their expense. And most of them died horribly. I get why the film did it, but I can't help but think that the fact that many college students probably were made really uncomfortable by some of the directions the filmmakers went in, probably hurt them at the box office. I can't imagine this appealing to that many college students and ironically, they would be the ones who would most understand the conventions the film is poking fun at.

I'm currently attending college myself, and right now I would probably be considered a non-traditional student, but in any case, there were moments that made me go "hmmm, this is not going to play well with those currently attending college right now". The filmmakers draw attention to the college identity rather pointedly on several occasions, such as having the hillbillies call calling out "hey college kids". They might have been better served leaving the educational status of the 20 somethings up in the air or at least not drawing attention to it so much. In fact, now that I think about it, outside of Allison, I can't recall any of their names, and since the kids are so underdeveloped, the fact that they are in college, kind of becomes their lone defining characteristic.

In other words, I think the filmmakers may have inadvertently alienated their target audience through the premise alone and then went on to over emphasize the fact that these were college kids. Toss in the title which tells one very little about the film and well, I think the results speak for themselves.
-Jeremy

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Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:28 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Senna

This is a fascinating film. Focusing on the life of Ayrton Senna, one of the greatest race car drivers ever, this follows his success in Formula 1, his intense rivalry with Alain Prost, his record-breaking championship seasons with McLaren, and his death in 1994. Senna was a racer's racer - he raced because he had to. Not to make money, not for the fame, but because he needed to race and needed to win.

Senna is arguably the greatest film about auto racing ever made. Whereas most films about the sport choose to portray it stupidly (such as Talladega Nights and Days of Thunder), Senna truly captures what psychologically drives racers to pursue speed. It's a damned great documentary; even non-fans can enjoy this.

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