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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
Collateral

I can't remember what prompted me to rewatch this, but it was on my list. The last time I saw it was its theatrical run. My recollection of it was that it was Tom Cruise blowing people away and dragging Jamie Foxx around with him.

A strange thing happened during the rewatch. My impression of it most of the way through was that it was a tight-knit, small scale thriller, cool as a cucumber and with just enough characterization to make it more compelling than a mere technical exercise. Then, as with so many reasonably intelligent movies, its seams started to show during the third act--the clockwork of the narrative structure started to peek through. The movie was pushing my suspension of disbelief with one or two improbabilities too many.

That's pretty much the death knell for my investment in a movie, and, I assume, for just about anybody else's. I understand that part of the art of narrative filmmaking is that the storytellers want the stuff that happens earlier in the movie to have a poetic payoff later on. Making the whole movie of a piece and presenting it as a unified composition is one of the great pleasures to be had in storytelling, but it's also a precarious balancing act. The line between irony and unacceptable contrivance is razor-thin. The movie blew it and it lost me.

Then, in the final scene, the strange thing happened: I reinvested. The movie won me back. How often does that happen? The sequence is like something out of Hitchcock--a subtly excellent piece of suspense-thriller moviemaking. I found myself involved again, actually much more than I had been before the movie went briefly off the rails. That's a good metaphor, because what Collateral pulled off with me was as unlikely as a train going off the rails and getting safely back on them again.

Anyway, great movie.
It's not a death knell for me at all, I can't think of one single film I saw that didn't have at least one point where I had to suspend my disbelief, though there were some films that stretched it way too far for me to be able to take them remotely seriously(Crash being one example)


Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:30 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
Collateral

I can't remember what prompted me to rewatch this, but it was on my list. The last time I saw it was its theatrical run. My recollection of it was that it was Tom Cruise blowing people away and dragging Jamie Foxx around with him.

A strange thing happened during the rewatch. My impression of it most of the way through was that it was a tight-knit, small scale thriller, cool as a cucumber and with just enough characterization to make it more compelling than a mere technical exercise. Then, as with so many reasonably intelligent movies, its seams started to show during the third act--the clockwork of the narrative structure started to peek through. The movie was pushing my suspension of disbelief with one or two improbabilities too many.

That's pretty much the death knell for my investment in a movie, and, I assume, for just about anybody else's. I understand that part of the art of narrative filmmaking is that the storytellers want the stuff that happens earlier in the movie to have a poetic payoff later on. Making the whole movie of a piece and presenting it as a unified composition is one of the great pleasures to be had in storytelling, but it's also a precarious balancing act. The line between irony and unacceptable contrivance is razor-thin. The movie blew it and it lost me.

Then, in the final scene, the strange thing happened: I reinvested. The movie won me back. How often does that happen? The sequence is like something out of Hitchcock--a subtly excellent piece of suspense-thriller moviemaking. I found myself involved again, actually much more than I had been before the movie went briefly off the rails. That's a good metaphor, because what Collateral pulled off with me was as unlikely as a train going off the rails and getting safely back on them again.

Anyway, great movie.


For me, the thing that seperated Collateral from your run-of-the-mill Joe Sixpacker thriller, was the fact that the plot was anchored on a believable and likable kind of guy. Jamie Foxx shows a good human touch as the approaching middle-age underchiever, who needs a foot up his ass to knock him out of his rut. And despite everything, that's precisely what Cruise's 'Vincent' character gives him. Not only is it a thriller, it kind of works as ... well not a coming of age tale exactly ... but a bucket of cold water in the face of a guy that many of us will on some level relate to.

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Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:09 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (rewatch)

Still holds up incredibly well given the budget; the atmosphere and visual blurring reality and dreams are top-rate throughout. The acting is cringey and weirdly slow motion at times, but the characters are all a notch in intelligence above the norm (the adults are infuriating, which's the point). Although the last scene doesn't sit well with me, I really like the third act where Nancy steps up and takes charge, Home Alone style. 8/10

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)


What it lacks in cohesiveness (the third act kinds of goes off the rail), it makes up in sympathetic characters and lots of creative and at times chilling visuals, some of which are the best in the series' three films that I've seen. Heather Langenkamp's acting improves substantially too. 7/10

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
(rewatch)

On rewatch this switches with the first one as being my favorite in the series. More polished, greater stakes, some very engaging visuals, and an interesting, referential story (just a few years shy of more overt Scream), with the best Langenkamp's acting by far. The bond with her son gives the film added tension and involvement. And it is the first one for me where the third act is the best. I like that in Craven's world, most of his characters are cleverer than other horrors and just don't sit waiting to die or be rescued, like Langenkamp's son stepping up during the film's climax to save his mother a couple of times. 8.5/10


Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:05 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Primer (2004)

Or Ow! My head. But seriously, I like it a good deal. It is always interesting and I love that it portrays time travel as something that must be closer to real-life than movies logic: incredibly messy and dreadfully consequential, without us having a clear grasp. I more or less up has a (slight) hold on the narrative up until the point when a girl's father comes into the picture, and then it becomes incredibly opaque. I was briefly frustrated, and then realized that this not knowing, a technique many good horrors use, gives a sense of confused dread and paranoia to the proceeding, with enough tidbits of information and the protagonists' motives to get us not completely losing interest. The ending is quietly devastating for me. I am now very intrigued for Upstream Colors. 8/10


Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:06 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
In Cautiva ("Captive"), a teenage Argentinian girl discovers through a blood test that her parents are not really her parents; in fact, her birth parents were two people disappeared under the junta in 1978. What remains of her birth family has been searching for her ever since. Her adopted parents got a forged birth certificate saying she was born in 1979 on the day they adopted her. Now a judge suddenly has her taken out of school without initially telling her why, refuses to let her contact her parents introduces her natural grandmother, and she freaks and runs. In retrospect, the judge could handled the situation better. Anyway, the girl has to meet the family she never had, deal with what the family she did have may have done, and find out what really happened to her parents and how she came to live with her current family. (I've not seen that, so I can't say how they compare.)

The film is often effective, sometimes harrowing, but sometimes veers off into history lessons. If you tell this story from the point of view of the adopted parents, you get The Official Story, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 1985, only two years after the junta fell. (7 of 10)

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Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:52 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
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Prisoners A very powerful, complex, deep, deep movie, filled with complex imagery and symbolism. I need to watch it again to catch every little nuance, but I felt this was a masterfully told story that will stand up to multiple repeat viewings. 9.5/10.


Well, it seems 2013 produced ONE movie we can all more or less agree on.


Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:16 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Vexer wrote:
Jeff Wilder wrote:
God Bless America

Bobcat Goldthwait's film may be the most uncompromising satire I've seen in a while.

The comparison to Falling Down is spot on. If that movie was a story of what happens when one realizes that the American Dream is likely to remain just that, this one is a blast against the corruption of it, the transition away from work hard and be a good person to one of entitlement and it's a dream to be famous just for being famous.

I can't say for sure if the lead character is a proxy for Goldthwait or if just a microcosm for a lot of pissed off people. But his anger is definitely understandable, his on-going rant against a society where civility seems to be a thing of the past is spot-on.

The ending is similar to Bonnie And Clyde in a few regards. But in some ways, this may be the most effective of a group of recent films (Pain And Gain, Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring) that rant against societal devolution into a pile of BS.

***

For me that film was not very effective as satire because I did not find the lead characters sympathetic in the least, while I could understand some of Goldwaithe's points, at times it just seemed like he was blindly ranting about how much this generation sucks without really going into more detail as to why. killing a girl just for being spoiled and shooting someone just for talking in a movie theater just comes across as petty and disturbing(the movie theater scene especially after Aurora) and largely undermines his point about social devolution since the lead characters are arguably just as if not moreso screwed up then all the people they claim to hate so much, the ending was especially bad, learning that
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Roxy and Frank don't even have freudian excuses for their actions(Frank not having cancer and Roxy having a normal family) so i'm supposed to cheer for them shooting up a talent show? Yeah I don't think so
Personally I think all of those films you mentioned were much more effective then this film was, because they felt much less heavy-handed and over-the-top adn they made their points in a much lless contrived and half-assed manner. I pretty much agree with Roger Ebert's review on the film.


I totally hear what you're saying Vex, and to a certain degree I even agree with you, but I admire the shit out of how ballsy the movie is. Flawed? Certainly. Balls to the wall? Oh yes

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Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:13 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
Vexer wrote:
Jeff Wilder wrote:
God Bless America

Bobcat Goldthwait's film may be the most uncompromising satire I've seen in a while.

The comparison to Falling Down is spot on. If that movie was a story of what happens when one realizes that the American Dream is likely to remain just that, this one is a blast against the corruption of it, the transition away from work hard and be a good person to one of entitlement and it's a dream to be famous just for being famous.

I can't say for sure if the lead character is a proxy for Goldthwait or if just a microcosm for a lot of pissed off people. But his anger is definitely understandable, his on-going rant against a society where civility seems to be a thing of the past is spot-on.

The ending is similar to Bonnie And Clyde in a few regards. But in some ways, this may be the most effective of a group of recent films (Pain And Gain, Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring) that rant against societal devolution into a pile of BS.

***

For me that film was not very effective as satire because I did not find the lead characters sympathetic in the least, while I could understand some of Goldwaithe's points, at times it just seemed like he was blindly ranting about how much this generation sucks without really going into more detail as to why. killing a girl just for being spoiled and shooting someone just for talking in a movie theater just comes across as petty and disturbing(the movie theater scene especially after Aurora) and largely undermines his point about social devolution since the lead characters are arguably just as if not moreso screwed up then all the people they claim to hate so much, the ending was especially bad, learning that
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Roxy and Frank don't even have freudian excuses for their actions(Frank not having cancer and Roxy having a normal family) so i'm supposed to cheer for them shooting up a talent show? Yeah I don't think so
Personally I think all of those films you mentioned were much more effective then this film was, because they felt much less heavy-handed and over-the-top adn they made their points in a much lless contrived and half-assed manner. I pretty much agree with Roger Ebert's review on the film.


I totally hear what you're saying Vex, and to a certain degree I even agree with you, but I admire the shit out of how ballsy the movie is. Flawed? Certainly. Balls to the wall? Oh yes

"Ballsy" dosen't always necessarily equate to good though, and this was one of those instances, it's very difficult for me to admire a film that expects me to sympathize with lead charactes that are so completely unlikeable and wrongheaded in every single way.


Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:35 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (rewatch)

Still holds up incredibly well given the budget; the atmosphere and visual blurring reality and dreams are top-rate throughout. The acting is cringey and weirdly slow motion at times, but the characters are all a notch in intelligence above the norm (the adults are infuriating, which's the point). Although the last scene doesn't sit well with me, I really like the third act where Nancy steps up and takes charge, Home Alone style. 8/10

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)


What it lacks in cohesiveness (the third act kinds of goes off the rail), it makes up in sympathetic characters and lots of creative and at times chilling visuals, some of which are the best in the series' three films that I've seen. Heather Langenkamp's acting improves substantially too. 7/10

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
(rewatch)

On rewatch this switches with the first one as being my favorite in the series. More polished, greater stakes, some very engaging visuals, and an interesting, referential story (just a few years shy of more overt Scream), with the best Langenkamp's acting by far. The bond with her son gives the film added tension and involvement. And it is the first one for me where the third act is the best. I like that in Craven's world, most of his characters are cleverer than other horrors and just don't sit waiting to die or be rescued, like Langenkamp's son stepping up during the film's climax to save his mother a couple of times. 8.5/10


I think the first one has the best and scarier moments of probably the whole series, but the last act is a mess.

I haven't seen it in more than 10-15 years, but I always remember the third one to be the best of the series. I've been meaning to revisit it for some time, but haven't been able.

I really, really liked New Nightmare meta approach, and I think it worked, for the most time. However, like most of the films in the series, it shoots itself in the foot in the last act. It completely ruined the whole film.

Good write-ups, though.

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Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:08 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
New Nightmare was my least favorite film in the series, for me the last act was the only time when it finally grabbed my attention, as the meta-stuff didn't really do much for me.


Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:12 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Not technically the last group of films that I watched, but pretty close :) Still need to write up my thoughts on The Hill, Captain Phillips, and Detropia


In the House (2012) 3.5/4

My first experience with Ozon, and I certainly cannot complain. The direction here is tight, and the narrative is always cunning-- filled with intelligent subtext and themes that grasp at regret and the importance of lineage ( I use the word "lineage" loosely). In many ways In the House reminds me of Sarah Polley’s fabulous Stories We Tell. This too is a film that is centered on the aspect of telling stories, but more so about the obsession that may stem from certain tales. Some of the moments in In the House may be questionable, but Ozon structures the film to be questioned at all times. Few times can one view a film and not completely trust what is being visually relayed in front of you. Sure there is oftentimes unreliable protagonists who the viewer cannot trust, but Ozon takes this one step further and analyzes the art of storytelling from the perspective of a reader who has picked up a book, not knowing if its fiction or nonfiction. All in all, this is one crafty, clever film that is not only intriguing but pretty humorous as well. If you get the chance, check it out.

Gravity (2013) 3.5/4

There is no doubt that Gravity is one of the most visceral experiences that I’ve ever had in a theater. For all intents and purposes this is fluid filmmaking at its finest, and arguably even a neat take on the concept of the modern day adventure film. Overall, I can’t really say much that hasn’t already been said. Yes this is a solid film and its themes of grief are exceptional, but I have to say that I wasn’t overly fond of the script, and at times some of Bullock’s dialogue comes across as purely hokey (especially towards the middle of the third act). Yet I can certainly overlook the shortcomings of the script and admire this film for the stunning visual achievement that it is.

Short Term 12 (2013) 4/4

I haven’t been this emotionally rocked by a film...well…ever. I’ve been kind of surprised by the timid reviews that this film has been collecting. Short Term 12 boasts near a 100% RT rating, but still a lot of critics are low-balling this film with just enough approval for a shiny red tomato. So I’m here to set the record straight. Short Term 12 may be the best film that I have seen this year thus far (I’m still kind of leaning towards The Hunt for my number one spot, but its neck and neck) This film, in my humble opinion, captures the essence of what a great—no outstanding—drama should be: Emotionally convincing and steeped in a realism. that greatly aids in character connection. Realism is what many film theorists consider the sole responsibility of cinema. In many ways I can concede to that theory. It’s nice when a film embodies sound realness, and in a drama it’s sometimes the upmost of importance. You want to be able to connect to the characters and have a stake in their development. You want to be able to loose youself in the situations at hand, and become immersed in events and outcome of the film. This is where Short Term 12 exceeds—it gives viewers an environment thats dark, lifelike and tepid with characters that you can care about, characters that are broken and relatable.

The narrative here is centered in a temporary juvenile home, and our main characters are social workers that are trying to navigate the often-problematic terrain that comes with the job. Director Destin Cretton places viewers in this environment and simply lets one feel the raw humanity that is drenched in the totality of the film. Short Term 12 is about lost, damaged individuals. Those who have been hurt by the crumbles of life and are trying to maintain or gain a firm place to stand. However sometimes gaining firm ground is difficult or even hopeless. Short Term 12 doesn’t offer a great deal of hope; it leaves circumstances barely resolved and creates a slight feeling of uncertainty that’s hard to shake. I can’t say much more—I already feel like I’m rambling—just do yourself a favor and go see this film whenever you get the opportunity.

Nashville (1975) 4/4

It’s difficult to describe Altman’s Nashville in clean, concise words. There is so much commentary and underlying themes hiding out in the open just waiting to be found—yet it’s still hard to harness them. I can’t say that I have a complete picture of what Nashville is ultimately trying to say; I can surmise some of its political messages, along with its take on the inherent “fakeness” ingrained in celebrities and their social circles, but in the end those things didn’t really matter much to me. Honestly I was in a state of awe. How can a film work so seamlessly with so many characters? Altman gives characters just enough screen time to create their persona, implanting themes around them, which eventually connect to other characters in the robust narrative. Characters here don’t generally offer a lot by themselves, it takes friction to spark the souls of these characters. In this sense Altman uses characters to get inside the emotions and feelings of other characters. For me, Nashville may offer substantial themes and pretty great music, but the character interaction here is just simply fascinating. Again, Nashville may have to be revisited to fully take in all of its depth, but until then I can admire Altman’s shattering approach to the very notion of the protagonist, and character development.

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Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:31 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Upstream Color (2013)

It is still recognizably the same director's work, but almost everything that Primer isn't: more polished/fluid, a bigger heart, and narratively abstract instead of dense in labyrinth plot. It's the last aspect that I'm trying to wrap my head around and determine if it's sinking the other two improvements, or elevating them. The moment after I finished the film I felt incredibly irritated by Shane Carruth for applying so many jigsaw-like emotional logics to the narrative where I feel it doesn't need them that much. However, the more I ponder the film and its three act structure that collaborated with the parasite's three cycles, the more it grows on me somewhat. I mean, it still is frustrating when Carruth hit a weird beat in the story over and over too long that I would lose interest, but then there would come a sudden burst of startling emotions or clarity that reigned me in again.

In short, I need to see it again. For now one true flaw that I can pinpoint is the acting. Amy Seimetz is very good, reminding me of Juliette Binoche in some angles. But with such a lyrical story that concentrates on movements, expressions and close-ups more than usual, she also needs to have Binoche-level skill to pull off this difficult role, which I thought she isn't up to it. Carruth himself is adequate and has believable chemistry with Seimetz, but both of them falter and seem forced more than a few times.

I think I will come back to it in the next month or two. For now I'd do the JamesKunz route and go N/A on rating it.


Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:44 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
Upstream Color (2013)

It is still recognizably the same director's work, but almost everything that Primer isn't: more polished/fluid, a bigger heart, and narratively abstract instead of dense in labyrinth plot. It's the last aspect that I'm trying to wrap my head around and determine if it's sinking the other two improvements, or elevating them. The moment after I finished the film I felt incredibly irritated by Shane Carruth for applying so many jigsaw-like emotional logics to the narrative where I feel it doesn't need them that much. However, the more I ponder the film and its three act structure that collaborated with the parasite's three cycles, the more it grows on me somewhat. I mean, it still is frustrating when Carruth hit a weird beat in the story over and over too long that I would lose interest, but then there would come a sudden burst of startling emotions or clarity that reigned me in again.

In short, I need to see it again. For now one true flaw that I can pinpoint is the acting. Amy Seimetz is very good, reminding me of Juliette Binoche in some angles. But with such a lyrical story that concentrates on movements, expressions and close-ups more than usual, she also needs to have Binoche-level skill to pull off this difficult role, which I thought she isn't up to it. Carruth himself is adequate and has believable chemistry with Seimetz, but both of them falter and seem forced more than a few times.

I think I will come back to it in the next month or two. For now I'd do the JamesKunz route and go N/A on rating it.


I know, right? :)

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Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:57 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Yeah, for me it's hard to apply an overall rating to a very fluid film that veers between 4/10 and 9/10 constantly, often in scenes next to each other (another reason why many times ratings and scores aren't the best thing for film criticism, although I do like them). I still think about it a few hours after seeing it though, and look forward to rewatch. That's gotta count for something.


Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:12 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Boy Wonder (2010)

This film is located at the exact point TV movies meet revenge fantasies.
And has all the aesthetic charm of Max Payne.

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Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:56 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
NotHughGrant wrote:
Boy Wonder (2010)

This film is located at the exact point TV movies meet revenge fantasies.
And has all the aesthetic charm of Max Payne.

Ouch. That bad?

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Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:03 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Let the Right One In (2008)

Wow. I love Let Me In and was curious how the original which most people prefer would compare. It still think LMI is better in a few aspects, especially in some plot-related details and Owen/Oskar character, but the original's atmosphere just can't be beat (the remake's is pretty great in itself, so that's saying something). So chilling you can almost feel the cold. I love both version pretty much the same now, with maybe a very, very slight edge towards LMI. Still, it's great to find two versions of the same story to be at the top of their genre. 9/10

Village of the Damned (1960)


To compare to another "scary kid" film that has the same child actor being creepy, it might not be as thematic and deep as The Innocents, but it makes up a lot just by being more visceral to watch. The eerie 15 minute opening, where a sudden unexplainable just happens, is very chilling, but that's nothing compared to the creepfest once the children come into the picture. Perfect casting for a group of creepy little f*ckers, right down even to the brief stretch when they were just toddlers. Maybe I just discover another of my horror button, but I got goosebumps every time they appear on screen.9/10


Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:22 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Hall Pass (2011) **

Two men get a "hall pass" from their wives, allowing them to escape the rules of marriage and fidelity for one week. A promising comedic premise, but it's completely neutered by a square desire to have the men realize that they loved their wives all along and should never have strayed. Gutlessness and family values...in a gross-out comedy? Ugh.

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Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:43 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
NotHughGrant wrote:
Boy Wonder (2010)

This film is located at the exact point TV movies meet revenge fantasies.
And has all the aesthetic charm of Max Payne.

Ouch. That bad?



Yeah. It's on NetFlix instant if you wanna check it out. I'd never heard of it, but was up for something brainless; and to top it off, Ebert gave it a broadly positive review!

But it was shallow, uninvolving, and with Payne-like, grim photography to polish it all off.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
Let the Right One In (2008)

Wow. I love Let Me In and was curious how the original which most people prefer would compare. It still think LMI is better in a few aspects, especially in some plot-related details and Owen/Oskar character, but the original's atmosphere just can't be beat (the remake's is pretty great in itself, so that's saying something). So chilling you can almost feel the cold. I love both version pretty much the same now, with maybe a very, very slight edge towards LMI. Still, it's great to find two versions of the same story to be at the top of their genre. 9/10


I think I'm the only person I know who didn't like Let the Right One In.

What am I missing? Because I just can't see the attraction.

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