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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Moonrise Kingdom - ****1/2 out of *****

Yep, this was a film from 2012 that I should have seen in 2012, but I never got around to it until now. Pretty good film, it was, carried by the performances of two child actors with talent in Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman. Of course, the supporting cast was also excellent, particularly Frances McDormand, Ed Norton, and Bruce Willis. Even the small role that Harvey Keitel had as the commander of the Khaki Scout troop was humorous throughout. There is always a challenge when making a film that centers on child protagonists, but this film carried it off well.

About the only complaint I have, and it's a small one, is that the ending for me was a bit too...happy. I think the film would have been stronger had the ending been either more of a downer or at least more ambiguous as to the fate of the young couple. This is purely a matter of my own preference, however. All in all, this was another excellent film from a strong year.

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Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:07 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Conjuring

Wow. I'm impressed. I anticipated the scare tactics, but what I haven't expected that put movie over the top for me is that it feels like it has an actual story to tell. Too often, many recent horror movies feel like they are designed to be connective issues between each horror set piece (even Insidious, which I have liked and would have given it 8/10, at times felt like this). But The Conjuring developed a very solid story with actual characters, both for the haunted family and the investigators. Lili Taylor and Vera Farmiga were especially committed. The movie also had some gold comedy and a few moments of great poignancy, which made the climax really satisfying and moving.

This is also, for me, one of the best directed movie of the year. You can just feel the confidence and precision coming off the screen, the way the camera just weaved in and out from room to room and from each dire situation to the next. The jump scares are effective because the camera mostly held on for so long with many inventive (but rarely too showy) shots. And the horror imagery was excellent. Every time THAT doll made an appearance, I could just feel the audience squirmed in unison. It will take another viewing to determine, but this just might become one of my favorite horrors. 8.8/10

Also, the Fast and Furious franchise is now definitely in very capable hands.


Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:30 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
"Star Trek" into Darkness (2013)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1408101/
After J.J. Abrams consumed my childhood and vomited it back up to produce "Star Trek" in 2009, it turns out that it must have also given him a nasty bout of explosive diarrhoea because, four years later, he seems to have used that as the core inspiration for "Star Trek" into Darkness. Asking where this ranks in the context of Star Trek movies is like trying to figure out where Transformers 2 ranks on the list - i.e. the question itself makes no sense because this has absolutely nothing to do with Star Trek. Needless to say I just can't wait to see what Abrams' wonderful talented orifices have in store for Star Wars!
4/10.


Last edited by nitrium on Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:59 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ragnarok73 wrote:
Moonrise Kingdom - ****1/2 out of *****

Yep, this was a film from 2012 that I should have seen in 2012, but I never got around to it until now. Pretty good film, it was, carried by the performances of two child actors with talent in Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman. Of course, the supporting cast was also excellent, particularly Frances McDormand, Ed Norton, and Bruce Willis. Even the small role that Harvey Keitel had as the commander of the Khaki Scout troop was humorous throughout. There is always a challenge when making a film that centers on child protagonists, but this film carried it off well.

About the only complaint I have, and it's a small one, is that the ending for me was a bit too...happy. I think the film would have been stronger had the ending been either more of a downer or at least more ambiguous as to the fate of the young couple. This is purely a matter of my own preference, however. All in all, this was another excellent film from a strong year.


That's interesting because I didn't buy the ending as happy at all. I found it very Graduate-like, very uncertain, with perhaps some wistfulness for their time at the Moonrise Kingdom

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Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:19 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Atlantic City - While watching this 1980 film from director Louis Malle, I couldn’t help but think back to a line from ‘Atlantic City’, the second song of Bruce Springsteen’s stark and haunting album Nebraska: “Down here it’s just winners and losers and don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line.” It’s a statement that would likely ring true to the people populating Malle’s film, people who have found themselves on the wrong side of that line, but who still dream of making their way back across to the right side. Burt Lancaster plays Lou, a longtime Atlantic City resident who enjoys reminiscing about his supposed “glory days” as a small-time gangster. Susan Sarandon plays Sally, an employee at a casino oyster bar who dreams of escaping from the monotony of her current life. The arrival of a desperate drug dealer brings these two lost souls together, setting in motion a chain of events that gives Lou the chance to live out some of his lifelong fantasies and gives Sally the means to leave Atlantic City for good and never look back.

There must be something about the aura of Atlantic City that inspires tales of loneliness and quiet desperation. Malle’s work here recalls at times Bob Rafelson’s work eight years earlier with The King Of Marvin Gardens, although Malle somehow manages to make Atlantic City an even lonelier backdrop than it was in that previous film. Malle’s work with characters is stronger too; there’s no kind of deliberate artifice or detachment here, just an honest look at two dissatisfied and sad people looking for an escape. In the later stages of his career/life, Lancaster excelled at this kind of role, the dignified but weary old-timer yearning to recapture the energy of the past. The character of Lou fits right in with his portrayals of the aging prince Don Fabrizio Corbera in The Leopard and Doc ‘Moonlight’ Graham in Field Of Dreams. A less-confident actress would have graciously stood aside to just let Lancaster dominate, but Sarandon matches him scene for scene; I’m not sure if she’s ever been as good as she is here. Perhaps more than anything else though, the film is really an affirmation of the special touch Louis Malle could bring to just about any kind of material. I’ve found his filmography to be consistently rich with hidden gems, and Atlantic City is certainly one of the more valuable riches. 9/10.

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Last edited by Blonde Almond on Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:54 am, edited 3 times in total.



Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:22 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
That's interesting because I didn't buy the ending as happy at all. I found it very Graduate-like, very uncertain, with perhaps some wistfulness for their time at the Moonrise Kingdom

As I watched the film, I was actually expecting the ending to be much less positive just based on the tone that was being set throughout the earlier scenes of the young couple's romance. I do find the ending as is to be quite happy given that:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Sam got a new foster home with Captain Sharp and thus remained in relatively close proximity to Suzy so that their relationship could continue. This is an especially happier outcome than Sam going with Social Services to "juvenile refuge" (re: youth detention center) where he would have undergone electroshock therapy.

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Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:30 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
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But The Conjuring developed a very solid story with actual characters, both for the haunted family and the investigators.


I have to write it off on personal prejudice. Developed or not, fundamentalist loonies don't make compelling characters for me. Especially when I suspect the real fundamentalists behind this film are the producers.

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You can just feel the confidence and precision coming off the screen


Confidence =/= Quality. If it did, con men would be the kings.

I do agree about looking forward to Fast 7. Hope for the best.


Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:40 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I don't know what "fundamentalist loonies" mean, but I suspect it has to do with some of the religion stuff in the film? Regardless of the characters' believes, the actors portray their characters well enough that religions don't enter my mind much when watching the characters on screen (although I say this as a Buddhist half a world away). You yourself say it's personal prejudice though, so that has no bearing on the quality of the performances themselves (although I see a lot of same annoyed sentiments directed at the film from a lot of people, especially with the final explanation title card. From my view personally, the feeling that this film is religious is just a side-effect of portraying real historical people with those believes).

Is "confidence" now a new taboo word along the line of "perfect" and "Nolan"? :lol: Kidding. As for that, I just mean that the director has the confidence not to have quick cuts common for this type of psychological horrors, where usually it will swerve right to left for sudden shocks. It just stayed on and on for maximum anxiety and suspense effect, which in this case *for me*, confidence = quality.


Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:17 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Vampire's Kiss

Flawless. Sublime. Scrumtrilescent.

Shall we wait for him to die, or shall we canonize Nicolas Cage as a saint now and not beat around the bush?

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Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:43 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
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Is "confidence" now a new taboo word along the line of "perfect" and "Nolan"?


Haha, no confidence in itself is fine, but not just by itself. What I really tend to want from a movie is audacity on some level. A director pushing the boundaries, going out of his way to be provocative. Being transgressive, rebellious even. Granted, I don't expect Weekend every time I sit down to watch something. But I kind of need at least a little subversion for it to feel like a good movie. Earnestness and competence aren't enough just by themselves. There has to be some daring. Like an "alienate half the audience" daring. Hopefully both on a script level and a formalistic level.

Now that I think about it, I wouldn't have a problem with The Conjuring's success or popularity except that I feel it's detrimental to the more audacious, wacky-crazy movies waiting to be green-lit. Or the ones that have already been made, still waiting to find an audience.


Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:36 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Grandmaster by Kar Wai Wong Kar Wai

The action is astonishing and Ziyi Zhang is one of the most gorgeous women alive, for my money. Cut down for an American audience, some of the plot strands are indeed underdeveloped. It ends up being an exercise in pure aesthetics. And it's a terrific aesthetic, but I want to see the longer version.


Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:44 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Robot & Frank - Sweet little movie, with a very good understated performance by Frank Lagella, but its unambitious nature works against it somewhat. The slowly emerging main plot kept the interest to the end though. I love how they establish and use the robot, never changing the rules for easy emotions. He's a great source of humor, and combined with a twist late in the proceeding, some unexpected poignancy. 7.5/10


Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:34 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)

A Ghibli animation from Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro. It's a slight story that's evaluated significantly by nostalgic beautiful artwork and general pleasantness. 8/10


Drug War (2013)

My first Johnnie To (Election), and after this I will make sure to seek his other films out. Meticulous with great attention to details, it's refreshing to see a cop procedural that doesn't cut corners or undermine the intelligence of both the audience and the characters. Established with deft economy, these people on both sides of the law are smart, and watching them trying to outmaneuver each other is exhilarating. One bait-and-switch scene recalls the white-knuckle tension of the hotel exchange in MI:4. And I will be surprised if I see a better action scene this year than the film’s final 20 minutes. Great direction and staging, with a real feel for deadly consequences. 9/10

PS: I've never seen Heat; been meaning to for a long time, but seeing a lot of people praising this film for having "the best shoot-out since Heat" makes me think I have to actively seek it out now.


Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:45 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Elysium - In his 1999 review of The Matrix, Roger Ebert wrote, ” It’s kind of a letdown when a movie begins by redefining the nature of reality, and ends with a shoot-out. We want a leap of the imagination, not one of those obligatory climaxes with automatic weapons fire.” It’s a sentiment that effectively mirrors my own thoughts towards Elysium, the latest feature from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. A science-fiction parable about a near future where the rich live on a utopian space station and the poor live on an overcrowded and unlawful Earth, Elysium is never shy about drawing political parallels, at times to an almost-insulting level. With that said, it’s a promising setup for a nice piece of dystopian science fiction, and Blomkamp has no problem with strongly establishing the world and its rules (although the magical medical machines that can cure anything is an idea that could have used more work in the scripting stages). Where he runs into problems, and this is something that plagued District 9 as well, is taking the promising setup and not following it through on its potential.

So why is the film so underwhelming? I think it ties back to that Ebert quote, at least partly. Blomkamp starts out with an intriguing premise, but all it leads to is a string of not-very-energetic shootouts and a climactic fistfight. At least the action in The Matrix was of a higher standard; Elysium can’t even make such a claim, with any sense of potential style or inspiration pushed aside to make room for sheer loudness. And it doesn’t help that every time the film seems to throw in an unexpected curveball, it quickly straightens back out again (the abrupt removal of a major character caught me completely off guard, only to be corrected a handful of scenes later). Now, District 9 was by no means perfect, but you could excuse its third-act devolvement into loud action mainly because of the originality on display in its first two-thirds. Here, apart from the initial promise of the opening scenes, the material is far less ambitious and, to be honest, far less interesting. The film is so straightforward and simple in its intentions and its overall execution that I can’t see myself ever feeling the need to revisit it; once is probably enough to mine everything it has to offer. 5/10.

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Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:04 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Two interesting watches of two Hitchcock classics...

Rope was very performance-oriented. Much like the play it's based on, it was very driven by the interactions between the characters, murderers Brandon and Phillip, and the suspicious Rupert. James Stewart was pretty good as the latter, but I really enjoyed John Dall's wicked performance as Brandon. Plus, the technical aspects of the direction was impressive. Even though it is shot as one single long-take, always in the same apartment, Hitchcock finds ways to make it all feel fresh and not repetitive. Grade: B+

The Birds, on the other hand, is more driven by the plot and the events, rather than by the performances. That's not to say that the acting isn't good. I was particularly impressed with Tippi Hedren, especially during the first half. The film has a simple premise, but boy, did I enjoy the hell out of it all. Some great visuals and a very entertaining watch. I have to say I didn't expect that ending, but still it was pretty good. Grade: B+

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Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:13 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Grandmaster: Chinese 130 min version

To be really honest, I prefer the American cut. The longer version doesn't add to the emotional experience like I thought it would. The American cut is more visceral, admittedly placing a lot more emphasis on the action. Wong's storytelling style may not be typical of Hollywood, but in the American cut I always followed the plot with riveted attention. I can say for sure that if I'd seen the Chinese version first, I would have been lost. Hell, even seeing it second had me confused at times. The real masterwork of this movie lays in Wong's style, truth be told. The extreme clarity of the fight scenes and the way he imparts his dark romanticism straight into them. None of the history is lost in the short version either. The longer version is really just that: longer. Don't expect too much missing material either. The biggest difference is structural, with large 25 minute chunks switching places. I prefer the American version in this sense as well.


Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:35 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
^^^ Perhaps some of the same phenomenon is at work here as when American films tend to do better in Asia when they're more action-oriented and less dependent on Western-isms (e.g. the fairly nonspecific Transformer films versus the more America-specific superhero pictures). Except here it's the other way around--pare down on the elements that are more culturally idiosyncratic to the East and focus on the universal action-oriented stuff.

Not that I've seen the film, but I'm hazarding a guess.

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Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:41 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
MGamesCook wrote:
The Grandmaster: Chinese 130 min version

To be really honest, I prefer the American cut. The longer version doesn't add to the emotional experience like I thought it would. The American cut is more visceral, admittedly placing a lot more emphasis on the action. Wong's storytelling style may not be typical of Hollywood, but in the American cut I always followed the plot with riveted attention. I can say for sure that if I'd seen the Chinese version first, I would have been lost. Hell, even seeing it second had me confused at times. The real masterwork of this movie lays in Wong's style, truth be told. The extreme clarity of the fight scenes and the way he imparts his dark romanticism straight into them. None of the history is lost in the short version either. The longer version is really just that: longer. Don't expect too much missing material either. The biggest difference is structural, with large 25 minute chunks switching places. I prefer the American version in this sense as well.


i've seen the chinese cut and was largely underwhelmed. i certainly got the impression that the american version would trim a lot of the fat that was (in my opinion) desperately needed since i spent most of the movie wondering what the hell was going on.


Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:27 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
Vampire's Kiss

Flawless. Sublime. Scrumtrilescent.

Shall we wait for him to die, or shall we canonize Nicolas Cage as a saint now and not beat around the bush?


Have you seen Zandalee yet?

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Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:28 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Oblivion (2013)
After war with an extraterrestrial race caled “Scavs” (for “Scavengers”) has left Earth desolated, mankind has emigrated to another planet. Earth’s resources are still mined for energy by huge machines and drones protecting these machines from scattered bands of “Scavs”. Also, a small number of repairmen and women, whose memories have been wiped for unspecified security reasons, are stationed on Earth. One of these crews is the couple of Victoria (Andrea Riseborough, very bland, probably by directorial choice), who follows orders to a “t”, and Jack (Tom Cruise in perfectly fine action star mode), who has memory traces of pre-war New York and of a mystery woman (Olga Kurylenko). When an old spaceship crashes on Earth, Jack makes an amazing discovery.
If, like me, you’ve seen many science-fiction movies and once you notice that I haven’t mentioned Morgan Freeman’s role, you’ll be able to assemble the rest of the plot from this brief description. Indeed, ‘Oblivion’ takes a lot of inspiration from other (and often better) sci-fi stories, to put it politely. Although the premise is intruiging and there are a few interesting ideas dispersed throughout the movie, the narrative isn’t really good and the pacing is a bit off, too. There are some boring stretches.
That being said, the movie looks stunning. Granted, the visuals are reminiscent of French sci-fi comics or 70ies prog rock covers and not really original, but they look great nevertheless. This applies to grand vistas of half-sunken cities as well as the set design of the futuristic tower, which Jack and Victoria inhabit. The action scenes are well-done as well. Actually, I wish I had seen ‘Oblivion’ on a big screen irrespective of the strory’s deficiencies. Because of these, though, I dare not qualify it as a good movie, merely as an above-average one. 6/10

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
In 1930ies London, former organist, physician and biblical scholar Dr. Phibes (Vincent Prioce, who else) exacts revenge for ten doctors’ failure to save his wife after a fatal car crash, which has left him disfigured. His flamboyant murders are modelled on the ten plagues of Egypt.
This supposed cult movie cannot really be judged as a horror movie, because its aim isn’t so much to scare, shock or disturb its audience but to provide camp entertainment. This is a bit of a problem for me because I cannot truly enjoy a movie in a “so bad it’s good” way unless the film takes itself seriously. Cheesiness is only really funny if it is unintentional and ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ is gaudy and ludicrous on purpose. On the other hand, some of the murders are bizarre and imaginative and I did indeed laugh about the movie once or twice. If you should be a fan of Hamer horror or Corman’s Poe adaptations you will probably enjoy this a lot more than I did. I found it mediocre. 5/10

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)
Egotistic Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and his partner Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) are a pair of famous magicians performing their routine and stale show in Doug Munny’s (James Gandolfini) Las Vegas casino. The outrageous stunts by self-harming “street magician” Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) make their show look even more worn, so they try to outdo Gray by performing a spectacular illusion as well, resulting in disaster.
I’ll admit that David Copperfield-like magicians and their costumes and antics make for an easy target and that this film doesn’t even do a brilliant job of mocking them. I also concede that the plot is very lazy and that you’ll have seen very similar stories in a different setting. That being said, I have to judge a comedy on the basis of whether I thought it was funny and I laughed a lot during this movie, particularly during the hilarious credits sequence. Also, Jim Carrey is fantastic in a role which is quite different from his earlier zany comedies (not my cup of tea). Overall, I think it’s a good comedy without being anything special. 7/10


Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:26 pm
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