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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
Charlie Kaufman... has been the excellent screenwriter of several good films, including two damned great ones.


Three damned great ones by my count. Haven't seen Synecdoche yet, probably because of reviews like yours and James'. It's low on my priority list.


Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:31 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I have to assume that your third is Being John Malkovich, which I liked a lot, but don't hold in quite the same esteem as the obvious other two.

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:29 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Gwaihir wrote:
Ken wrote:
Charlie Kaufman... has been the excellent screenwriter of several good films, including two damned great ones.


Three damned great ones by my count. Haven't seen Synecdoche yet, probably because of reviews like yours and James'. It's low on my priority list.


Four damned great ones ... "Human Nature" is a vastly underrated movie and perhaps Kaufman's funniest screenplay.

I agree with Ken's excellent review "Synecdoche, New York" and would like to add that I thought that the movie was trying to perlex the audience for the sake of being perplexing.


Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:31 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
That's probably my harshest criticism of this movie: there are times when it's outright obnoxious. Like the thing with the house being always on fire. Come on, man. That's a first year film student's idea of symbolism. On the nose, too clever by half, whatever you want to call it. Downright clumsy by Kaufman's standards.

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:43 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
I'm tempted to borrow a quote from Ebert, which is ironic, considering that his championing of this movie is the other reason why I watched it: "To the extent that I understand, I don't care." I'm by no means an opponent of having to invest some thought while watching a movie. I mean that. I don't mind an intellectual challenge. But I don't think it's wrong to require that a movie include something else, some sort of incentive to get me to take up the challenge. What I got was a bunch of wank, a collage of id and messily externalize anxieties spilled into a loose structure of nested realities that probably seemed really cool on the page. Cakes that look great in the cookbook are no good if they're half baked.


I have to say that there are way too many films that I end up feeling the same way about, be they the overly surreal or plotlessly symbolic films like The Man Who Fell to Earth, Mulloholand Drive, or the depression pornos designed to get the art house crowd to weep at the meaninglessness of life like Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Such films often make me want to scream at the screen, "look, I don't need stuff blowing up or action or clever humor, I don't need fascinatin complex characters around every corner, I don't need everything explained at the end, I don't mind films that make me think, I don't require that everything make sense or that the whole plot be comprehensible, but for god sakes I need something, anything to keep me interested, or better yet care."

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:25 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
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Blue Jasmine - After devoting his last two films to love letters for famous European cities, one successful and the other not, Woody Allen returns back to the States and to more dramatic ground. The focus this time is on the fascinating character of Jasmine, played by Cate Blanchett as a shallow New York socialite forced down several pegs after her businessman husband’s various illegal activities bubble to the surface. Penniless and alienated from her privileged life, Jasmine retreats to the home of her less-well-off sister in San Francisco and attempts to come to terms with her new prospects. Blue Jasmine is arguably one of the more overtly political films of Allen’s career, with its cynical portrayal of wealthy lifestyles and the separation between the upper class and the working class in America (Jasmine’s former husband, played with duplicitous relish by Alec Baldwin, lectures his son on the importance of charity while secretly engaging in illegal business operations and multiple affairs on the side). The comparisons that have been made just about everywhere to Tennessee Williams and A Streetcar Named Desire are appropriate, but perhaps slightly overblown. Sure, the trajectory of the film and some small details will resonate with those familiar with Williams’ famous play, but I think Allen adds enough of his own touch that it shouldn't be labeled as simply a modern-day reinterpretation.

The film has a wonderful structure, alternating between Jasmine’s current situation in San Francisco and flashbacks to her life in New York, revealing crucial information on her character at several key moments. Jasmine is a dynamic creation, the kind of person you constantly find yourself reevaluating, and Blanchett invests in the character and gives a forceful performance. She’s backed up by a string of great supporting roles too; Allen has always had a knack for getting the most out of his ensembles, but I can’t think of too many other films of his where the supporting cast is as strong as it is here (only Louis C.K. feels a little underused, his role amounting to little more than a cameo). Admittedly, I’ve always been something of a Woody Allen apologist, usually eager to focus more on the good than on the bad even with the director’s least inspired efforts. With Blue Jasmine though, I have no need to make any kind of apology. A strong endorsement is more appropriate in this case. 8/10


I agree wholeheartedly. Thus far it's my No. 3 movie of the year behind Fruitvale Station and Disconnect, and much like Kunz, it should make my Top 10 barring a cavalcade of Oscar-worthy motion pictures reminiscent of last year. I did find myself constantly re-evaluating Jasmine as well. Especially when it's revealed that

[Reveal] Spoiler:
She's the one who called the FBI on her husband


Particularly since that detail reveals that she knew far more than we thought she did. Or at least, that she knew something

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:10 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
Sucks about The Hunter! I just saw a preview yesterday and it looked intriguing. *Sigh*

Agree about 2 Guns meanwhile


I would still recommend checking it out, its on Instant and only around 100 minutes.

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:29 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Saratoga has a scene where Frank Morgan (playing a cosmetics tycoon) gives instructions to Margaret Hamilton on the proper application of makeup, and they go off so he can demonstrate. This is the beginning of two years of disasters which resulted in her turning green, mad and wicked, and him being forced to send a team of three assassins and a dog to kill her. It's a tragic tale.

Saratoga's the movie that Jean Harlow was making when she died. It suffers a bit for that, since they had to use stand-ins for a few scenes and rewrite her out of some more. However, the movie was about 90% complete when she died, and it doesn't suffer that much.

Gable is a horse racing bookie who finds himself with a deed to Harlow's ranch which he intends to give to her since her father was his best friend (and best customer); however Harlow, who is about to be married to a rich man (not Morgan), wants to pay off the debt on the ranch before she gets married so it doesn't appear she's a gold digger. Gable's looking for a way to take advantage of her future husband, who is also a gambler who actually tends to win against Gable.

The movie's got a pleasant cast, with Gable playing about the most pleasant bookie in movies, and Harlow making a good love/hate interest. Some of the best scenes are when she's absolutely furious with him. This was their sixth film together, and they were always comfortable with each other. Supporting cast includes Una Merkel as Morgan's wife and Gable's friend, Walter Pidgeon as Harlow's fiance, Lionel Barrymore as Harlow's horse-breeding grandfather and Hattie McDaniel as Harlow's maid. Why Harlow has a maid when her family's broke is not explained, but it completes a surprisingly high-powered cast for a light film.

There was some talk of reshooting the film after Harlow's death with either Carole Lombard or Jean Arthur, but Harlow's fans wanted to see her final film. I'm sure either of the two would have been good, but it's also nice to see Harlow finishing up with one of her better roles. (7 of 10)

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:39 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Red State

A group of teens answer an online ad in the hopes of scoring some group sex, and find themselves in the hands of a nasty religious cult. If it weren't for the credits, I would not have known that Kevin Smith directed this film. I wonder if he was going through any personal troubles while making it; Red State is a mean film, unbelievably harsh in its nastiness. It's also only OK overall, but the action scenes at the end are directed very well. Say what you want about his films, but at least Smith knows how to hold a camera still.

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:53 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Was sick today and went to Netflix instant looking for something.

The Sword with No Name (2011)

A Korean tale about an early 20th century peasant with a tragic backstory that meets the future Queen, falls in love, and vows to be her protector for the remainder of his life.

The film started out slow and went up and down from there. It is beautiful to look at, otherwise it didn't do too much for me. A lot of romantic glances and light interplay to portray the depth of the real love the two main characters interspersed with ballet sword fighting that is filmed artfully detached from the natural background and sometimes in slow motion. Overall, a much too feminine approach for my tastes. Might very well appeal to women and to guys that happen to like romance. 5/10


Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:47 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The World's End - **** out of *****

This is the best film I've seen in 2013 so far. It isn't quite as good for me in the trilogy as Hot Fuzz, but it was a strong film in its own right. What starts off as a pub crawl turned surreal in a bathroom and the film went hilariously off the rails from there. Some specific thoughts on the film:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
- The redhead displayed one of the most boner-inducing methods of removing a man's wedding ring ever seen on film.
- Good to see Eddie Marsan in a non-villainous role after seeing him in films like Gangster No.1 and Hancock. I haven't seen Happy Go Lucky, though.
- The scene in the bathroom at the 3rd pub on the Golden Mile made me think at first that this film was going to be a fantasy playing out in Gary's head, but no, it was indeed the plot of the film.

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Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:25 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
I have to assume that your third is Being John Malkovich, which I liked a lot, but don't hold in quite the same esteem as the obvious other two.


Definitely. It's among my all-time favorite movies. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a transcendent wonder that justifiably is praised to the heavens, and is a better film, but I love the quirkiness of the early going of Being John Malkovich, then the absolute batshit insanity that occurs after the halfway point. It's a pure delight.

I was curious as to which of those two and Adaptation you didn't hold in as high esteem.


Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:26 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Ballad Of Narayama (1958) - The members of a small Japanese village live out their lives under the influence of an unusual tradition: once someone reaches the age of 70, they are encouraged/required to journey to the mountain of Narayama, which will serve as their final resting place. In this village lives Orin, a woman approaching that fateful age. Before she makes her final journey to the mountain, however, she decides to arrange a marriage for her recently-widowed son, who, unlike the rest of the villagers, is unwilling to accept his mother’s complete acceptance of her fate. The story is taken from a 1956 novel, but director Keisuke Kinoshita chooses to present the material in the form of kabuki theatre. All of the action plays out on elaborately-constructed soundstage sets, with an offscreen narrator offering additional details through song and elaborating on the buried emotions of the characters. The deliberately-artificial production reinforces the idea that the story being told is meant to be seen as a parable, a statement among other things on the callous attitudes younger generations have towards their elders. Only in the closing moments does the film depart from its controlled setting, moving into black-and-white reality and emphasizing that the message of the tale still has relevance in the modern world.

The stylized approach does occasionally have its drawbacks (at times the film looks like the “outdoor” environments you see on PBS children’s programs), but the decision allows Kinoshita the opportunity to experiment with all the options at his disposal. The most obvious benefit with the soundstage approach is the film’s remarkable use of color, which oftentimes changes mid-scene depending on the emotions of the characters. When a festival is interrupted by Orin’s pained calls for her son, the entire event is drowned by red light. A harrowing night scene plays out over dashes of pink skylight and overwhelming shades of green. And, at one crucial point, Orin’s internal emotions are visualized by the changing color of the dress, while the rest of her surroundings stay the same. I would have loved to see some background details on how this film was made (sadly, Criterion’s recent release is incredibly sparse with its supplementals), and I’m interested in tracking down the Shohei Imamura version from 1983 to see how the story works with a more realistic approach. This original version from 1958 is something special though, a textbook case of maximizing a simple story’s impact through entirely visual means. 8/10.

A Single Shot - The increased viability of Video On Demand in 2013 has made possible some experimentation with the concept of early releases, where certain films are made available weeks before they hit theater screens. Recently, interested viewers have been able to watch Brian De Palma’s Passion from the comfort of their own homes, and now comes this low-key thriller from director David M. Rosenthal. Sam Rockwell plays a down-on-his-luck hunter who accidentally shoots and kills a woman deep in the adjacent woods of a small West Virginian town. While trying to figure out what to do with the body, he discovers a lockbox full of cash and decides to keep it for himself. But secrets are hard to keep secret in small towns where everybody knows each other’s business, and it doesn’t take too long before others catch on to what he’s done. In its best moments, A Single Shot evokes the tenser qualities of the Coen brothers’ Fargo and No Country For Old Men (the presence of William H. Macy in an offbeat supporting role strengths the connection), although that filmmaking duo’s signature black humor remains absent here. A closer comparison might be the terrific 2008 Australian neo-noir The Square, another film in which a man’s desperate and foolish actions lead to events that quickly spiral out of his control. Unfortunately, outside of a small handful of minor nuances, nothing in Rosenthal’s work approaches the quality of any of those aforementioned films.

On the plus side, it’s nice to see Rockwell in a role like this, a change of pace from the “manic” characters he usually plays. Not that he isn’t brilliant in those roles, but his performance here reinforces just how versatile he can be when given the opportunity. One of the better touches is that the character he’s playing isn’t the brightest bulb in the box; it doesn’t take long after he returns home with the cash before he starts throwing it around carelessly and attracting attention. Sadly though, even with Rockwell putting forth a valiant effort, the rest of the film doesn’t match him. Rosenthal lacks the directorial chops to elevate this material into something special, and apart from the appropriately colorless backwoods cinematography and a moody, dissonant score, the film passes by with little to no distinguishing characteristics. Because the direction is so anonymous, the weaknesses in the material become more apparent, particularly a poor ending that is heavy of contrivance and inexplicable character decisions. While I remain a proponent of VOD and the prospect of advanced releases, it feels like this one was made available early simply because it has almost no chance of attracting much interest or positive buzz for its theatrical run. 5/10.

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Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:37 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Blonde Almond wrote:
The Ballad Of Narayama (1958) - The members of a small Japanese village live out their lives under the influence of an unusual tradition: once someone reaches the age of 70, they are encouraged/required to journey to the mountain of Narayama, which will serve as their final resting place. In this village lives Orin, a woman approaching that fateful age. Before she makes her final journey to the mountain, however, she decides to arrange a marriage for her recently-widowed son, who, unlike the rest of the villagers, is unwilling to accept his mother’s complete acceptance of her fate. The story is taken from a 1956 novel, but director Keisuke Kinoshita chooses to present the material in the form of kabuki theatre. All of the action plays out on elaborately-constructed soundstage sets, with an offscreen narrator offering additional details through song and elaborating on the buried emotions of the characters. The deliberately-artificial production reinforces the idea that the story being told is meant to be seen as a parable, a statement among other things on the callous attitudes younger generations have towards their elders. Only in the closing moments does the film depart from its controlled setting, moving into black-and-white reality and emphasizing that the message of the tale still has relevance in the modern world.

The stylized approach does occasionally have its drawbacks (at times the film looks like the “outdoor” environments you see on PBS children’s programs), but the decision allows Kinoshita the opportunity to experiment with all the options at his disposal. The most obvious benefit with the soundstage approach is the film’s remarkable use of color, which oftentimes changes mid-scene depending on the emotions of the characters. When a festival is interrupted by Orin’s pained calls for her son, the entire event is drowned by red light. A harrowing night scene plays out over dashes of pink skylight and overwhelming shades of green. And, at one crucial point, Orin’s internal emotions are visualized by the changing color of the dress, while the rest of her surroundings stay the same. I would have loved to see some background details on how this film was made (sadly, Criterion’s recent release is incredibly sparse with its supplementals), and I’m interested in tracking down the Shohei Imamura version from 1983 to see how the story works with a more realistic approach. This original version from 1958 is something special though, a textbook case of maximizing a simple story’s impact through entirely visual means. 8/10.

.


The 1983 version is a **** film. Utterly great

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Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:28 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
Blonde Almond wrote:
The Ballad Of Narayama (1958) - The members of a small Japanese village live out their lives under the influence of an unusual tradition: once someone reaches the age of 70, they are encouraged/required to journey to the mountain of Narayama, which will serve as their final resting place. In this village lives Orin, a woman approaching that fateful age. Before she makes her final journey to the mountain, however, she decides to arrange a marriage for her recently-widowed son, who, unlike the rest of the villagers, is unwilling to accept his mother’s complete acceptance of her fate. The story is taken from a 1956 novel, but director Keisuke Kinoshita chooses to present the material in the form of kabuki theatre. All of the action plays out on elaborately-constructed soundstage sets, with an offscreen narrator offering additional details through song and elaborating on the buried emotions of the characters. The deliberately-artificial production reinforces the idea that the story being told is meant to be seen as a parable, a statement among other things on the callous attitudes younger generations have towards their elders. Only in the closing moments does the film depart from its controlled setting, moving into black-and-white reality and emphasizing that the message of the tale still has relevance in the modern world.

The stylized approach does occasionally have its drawbacks (at times the film looks like the “outdoor” environments you see on PBS children’s programs), but the decision allows Kinoshita the opportunity to experiment with all the options at his disposal. The most obvious benefit with the soundstage approach is the film’s remarkable use of color, which oftentimes changes mid-scene depending on the emotions of the characters. When a festival is interrupted by Orin’s pained calls for her son, the entire event is drowned by red light. A harrowing night scene plays out over dashes of pink skylight and overwhelming shades of green. And, at one crucial point, Orin’s internal emotions are visualized by the changing color of the dress, while the rest of her surroundings stay the same. I would have loved to see some background details on how this film was made (sadly, Criterion’s recent release is incredibly sparse with its supplementals), and I’m interested in tracking down the Shohei Imamura version from 1983 to see how the story works with a more realistic approach. This original version from 1958 is something special though, a textbook case of maximizing a simple story’s impact through entirely visual means. 8/10.

.


The 1983 version is a **** film. Utterly great


Cool. I've moved it to the top of my Netflix queue.

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Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:31 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The World's End

Not much to add to what others have said here and elsewhere. Solid 3 stars.
-Jeremy

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Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:58 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Last watches...

A couple of weeks ago, I revisited my favorite horror film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. A sweet gift from my wife for my birthday :D Even though it feels more tame now than years ago, I still found it equally effective and disturbing. The visceral and crude approach to the plot is what sets it apart for me. Creepy, bizarre, and relentless. Grade: A

The Impossible Solid film with great performances, direction, and special effects. I didn't find it to be very memorable, but the fact that it's based on a true story kinda puts it in perspective. Grade: Probably a high B+


The Manxman (1929) Alfred Hitchcock's last silent film follows a couple of childhood friends: poor fisherman Pete (Carl Brisson) and rising lawyer Philip (Malcolm Keen), both of which are unknowingly in love with the same woman, Kate (Anny Ondra). When Pete's advances are rejected by Kate's father, he decides to go abroad to make money while leaving Philip to take care of Kate. But obviously, Philip and Kate end up in love and unable to tell the truth when Pete returns. Now wealthy, Pete marries Kate much to her dismay, while Philip tries to deal with it.

This is the fourth of Hitchcock's early silent films that I've seen, and I can say it's solid. The story is full of Hitchcock trademarks of lies, deceit, mistrust, etc. and I suppose the overall story would've been quite progressive at that time. Keen and Ondra were pretty good as the leads, while Brisson was ok, but not as good as his co-stars. Also, Ondra was one cute lady. Extremely pretty. As for the film, I think it was a bit too long and overdrawn (more than 2 hours) which probably hampered its effect. But still, I thought it was pretty bleak for a story of such times. Grade: B or B-

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Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:03 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Dreams With Sharp Teeth

This is a documentary about Harlan Ellison that touches on various parts of his life, his career, his associates, and ample soapbox time with the man himself. It's not the most deeply probing or critical doc that might be made about such a controversial and interesting person, but it's plenty entertaining--surprisingly poignant at times, too. Anybody familiar with Ellison as a person will know that he's a riot when he gets his dander up about something, and there's plenty of that to go around here. (imagine a two hour long version of the Brian Cox scene in Adaptation.) Dreams With Sharp Teeth is well worth a watch for anybody who likes Ellison, sci-fi, movies about writing, literature in general, angry monologues, or generally entertaining people and things.

Plus, it has Neil Gaiman in it. He makes everything better.

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Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:29 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
In Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story, an Egyptian talk show host who is known for her stories on the problems of her society agrees to do non-political stories for a while to help her husband get a job as editor-in-chief with the help of political contacts. So she decides to spend a week doing non-political stories of women's life in Egypt. How could this possibly go wrong, not to mention spectacularly wrong with cannons and fireworks?

The movie has a strongly feminist slant, with four stories, not the least of which is that of the talk show host herself. Oddly, the second story could be a ribald tale from Chaucer from a different point of view, and the woman in the third story is a bit of an idiot. But it's a good and frequently powerful movie about women trying to maintain their independence in a patriarchal society, and interestingly directed by Yousry Nasrallah (who is a guy, by the way). He's had a couple of other films appear at Cannes, but this appears to be his best film, and I highly recommend it. (8 of 10)

PS: The last scene is inevitable, hurts like hell, and is amazing.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Thief12 wrote:

The Impossible Solid film with great performances, direction, and special effects. I didn't find it to be very memorable, but the fact that it's based on a true story kinda puts it in perspective. Grade: Probably a high B+



I was so glad to see this on the big screen. Such incredible filmmaking!

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