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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Shenandoah

Surprisingly strong movie with a clever, effective theme. It plays like a family film, but that doesn't stop it from feeling strangely authentic on many levels due to the dialogue and acting. The direction and storytelling are sharp. The production value is astonishingly good. James Stewart is great as always. What really makes this movie work is its unpredictability. Several surprises along the way.


Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:15 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I should add here actually, that I know The Hunger Games is based on a novel, but I don't think that justifies the issues the film has. It may make them worse for all I know.

The problem here (as is everywhere) is dumbing down. Nowhere here are any themes really explored. From what I can gather, the rustic peasants in the outside territories are forced by a decadent middle-class to kill and die for entertainment. The said ruling class are portrayed as overtly effeminate Georgian-era aristocrats, in a world that has gone through the kind of division portrayed in HG Wells' 'Time Machine'. But none of this is really acknowledged or remotely explored at all. So it's just a façade. Not even a plot convenience. Just "stuff" you seen screen, readily sacrificed for another teen-romance.

Fucking poor stuff. Perhaps the book is better.

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Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:23 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ender's Game (2013)

For someone who has the read the book but forgot many of the details, I love it. When I heard the project being developed and about the character changes, I was very apprehensive that they were going to Disneyfied the book. And in some ways, they did. But not on the things that matter the most: the core theme and characters. They are aged up from the books, but with the caliber of the actors it's hard to argue against them, especially Asa Butterfield. He was really great, both at showing Ender's age-appropriate innocence and his pathological tendency, and his small frame still kept Ender's physical vulnerability intact from the book even though he's quite older. In addition, the effects are pretty spectacular.

The film didn't quite land the ending with the force of the book (or even on its own term). It's too rushed, but the actors still sold it. All in all I am very satisfied and really hope it made enough for them to attempt the sequel (I got chills when Ben Kingsley said the phrase "speak for the dead". Him reuniting with his Hugo co-star is delightful). That one will be very interesting to see how it will turn out. 9/10


Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:57 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
NotHughGrant wrote:
I should add here actually, that I know The Hunger Games is based on a novel, but I don't think that justifies the issues the film has. It may make them worse for all I know.

The problem here (as is everywhere) is dumbing down. Nowhere here are any themes really explored. From what I can gather, the rustic peasants in the outside territories are forced by a decadent middle-class to kill and die for entertainment. The said ruling class are portrayed as overtly effeminate Georgian-era aristocrats, in a world that has gone through the kind of division portrayed in HG Wells' 'Time Machine'. But none of this is really acknowledged or remotely explored at all. So it's just a façade. Not even a plot convenience. Just "stuff" you seen screen, readily sacrificed for another teen-romance.

Fucking poor stuff. Perhaps the book is better.


Actually just finished the novel, and yes, the reasons WHY these barbaric games take place and why the people at the Capitol are fops while the people in the outlying territories live in squalor are explored more deeply. Also, the "teen romance" is actually much more of a cynical ploy to get through the Games in the book (at least for Katniss) than is acknowledged in the movie. The book is actually told in first-person present tense for Katniss, so the reader gets much more insight into her motivations. With that said, the book is well paced and has some nice cliff-hangers (like Harry Potter, the movie does not stray far from the source and dumbs down where it needs to to compress the time line), but it's not what I'd call "great literature" and is fairly disposable. I found the movie to be workmanlike and enjoyable, but on a superficial level. It wasn't a favorite of mine, but I found it easily digestible.


Mon Nov 04, 2013 10:56 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The third book, Mockingjay, goes to a few intensely dark places for a YA series, and I'm curious how the film will adapt away from that, and how they will remain PG-13 if they go ahead with them.

The Act of Killing (2013)

I saw the 160-minute version, which is way too long. But that's a minor gripe against one of the more disturbing and emotionally forceful documentaries I've ever seen. Anwar Congo is truly a most fascinating and vile figure, grandfatherly in nature but capable of reciting his brutal method of killing 1000 people without flinching. Director Joshua Oppenheimer followed his subject closely, capturing every moment of hesitation in Congo's belief after experiencing the feeling of his victims when recreating those events for a film. The final half hour, when the mental crack keeps getting wilder, is intensely surreal from observing how the power of cinema, or an "act", can transform one's perspective. Great stuff, and somewhat unnerving for me as one incident in my country's past reflected an element in this film a little too closely for comfort. 9/10


Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:40 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
The third book, Mockingjay, goes to a few intensely dark places for a YA series, and I'm curious how the film will adapt away from that, and how they will remain PG-13 if they go ahead with them.



Seriously. Mockingjay is the Requiem for a Dream of young adult literature. Very curious how that one will pan out

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Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:20 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Topaz (1969) **

Every year I watch at least one new Hitchcock film, as he is my favorite (and most seen) director and I want to see all of his films. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more of a chore. I've seen all the ones I have remote interest in and now I'm left with the oddballs and misfires. The Trouble with Harrys and Mr and Mrs. Smiths of the world. Or, for today, Topaz.

This one at least seemed like it was Hitch's cup of tea (it's a thriller at least) but what a overlong (his longest, in fact) and turgid movie. It has no interesting characters, a completely ho-hum plot, a sputtering anticlimax of an ending, and only a few neato Hitchcock directorial moments. I thought Torn Curtain was bad, but there are at least two sequences in Torn Curtain that are solid, and one of which could easily enter the Hitchcock pantheon. Topaz, by contrast, has nothing to recommend it at all.

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Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:29 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
NotHughGrant wrote:
The Hunger Games (2011)

The Hunger Games is a perfect example of what can go wrong when studios try to add arty pretentions and sentiment to what should have just been a brainless action film with a few concise observations.

The Running Man did all of this, and with a greater degree of self-knowledge. The one profound part of this film, was the X-Factor/America Idol style interviews they give the contestants to dry drum up support or an emotional reaction from a dumb, overly-emotive, TV-lobotomized crowd.

Other than that ...meh!


I actually appreciated when the film strayed from the "mindless action" path and explored the social aspect of what was happening. No disrespect to Running Man, which I think is a whole lotta fun, but it is because of that brainless approach that a more thought-provoking one is welcome. I thought the first act when we see how this world behaves, and all the media hoopla around the event was very interesting. Up to that point, I was ready to give the film an A-. However, once the games began, it kinda sputtered off and ended with more whimper than the bang that preceded. I still think it was a good film (B or B+ perhaps?), but the last act needed some work.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Free Birds the WORST animated movie I've ever seen...and it beats out that nonsensical mess called Tekkonkinkreet. Witless, trite, boring, stupid, shameless. I want revenge on the film makers. 1/4 and that's being generous.

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Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:16 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Johnny Larue wrote:
NotHughGrant wrote:
I should add here actually, that I know The Hunger Games is based on a novel, but I don't think that justifies the issues the film has. It may make them worse for all I know.

The problem here (as is everywhere) is dumbing down. Nowhere here are any themes really explored. From what I can gather, the rustic peasants in the outside territories are forced by a decadent middle-class to kill and die for entertainment. The said ruling class are portrayed as overtly effeminate Georgian-era aristocrats, in a world that has gone through the kind of division portrayed in HG Wells' 'Time Machine'. But none of this is really acknowledged or remotely explored at all. So it's just a façade. Not even a plot convenience. Just "stuff" you seen screen, readily sacrificed for another teen-romance.

Fucking poor stuff. Perhaps the book is better.


Actually just finished the novel, and yes, the reasons WHY these barbaric games take place and why the people at the Capitol are fops while the people in the outlying territories live in squalor are explored more deeply. Also, the "teen romance" is actually much more of a cynical ploy to get through the Games in the book (at least for Katniss) than is acknowledged in the movie. The book is actually told in first-person present tense for Katniss, so the reader gets much more insight into her motivations. With that said, the book is well paced and has some nice cliff-hangers (like Harry Potter, the movie does not stray far from the source and dumbs down where it needs to to compress the time line), but it's not what I'd call "great literature" and is fairly disposable. I found the movie to be workmanlike and enjoyable, but on a superficial level. It wasn't a favorite of mine, but I found it easily digestible.


The fact that they deem that explanation unnecessary for the film, tells a harsh truth about how studios view the movie-viewing public.

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Tue Nov 05, 2013 5:15 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Thief12 wrote:
NotHughGrant wrote:
The Hunger Games (2011)

The Hunger Games is a perfect example of what can go wrong when studios try to add arty pretentions and sentiment to what should have just been a brainless action film with a few concise observations.

The Running Man did all of this, and with a greater degree of self-knowledge. The one profound part of this film, was the X-Factor/America Idol style interviews they give the contestants to dry drum up support or an emotional reaction from a dumb, overly-emotive, TV-lobotomized crowd.

Other than that ...meh!


I actually appreciated when the film strayed from the "mindless action" path and explored the social aspect of what was happening. No disrespect to Running Man, which I think is a whole lotta fun, but it is because of that brainless approach that a more thought-provoking one is welcome. I thought the first act when we see how this world behaves, and all the media hoopla around the event was very interesting. Up to that point, I was ready to give the film an A-. However, once the games began, it kinda sputtered off and ended with more whimper than the bang that preceded. I still think it was a good film (B or B+ perhaps?), but the last act needed some work.


I think that's the problem though, it doesn't explain the social context. It's neither action nor social commentary. It's just stuff that happens, and futuristic people in silly costumes.

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Tue Nov 05, 2013 5:17 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Woman in Black

I haven't seen a great horror in ages ... and I still haven't.

The woman in black nobly attempts to substitute the gore of countless other dross with the subtle, eerie tension of such films as The Others - and in doing this doesn't exactly disgrace itself, but doesn't raise much of a pulse either.

Competently acted, and I like the idea of a ghost-story that seems to be set in Yorkshire, but really it's all just filler.

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Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:09 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
NotHughGrant wrote:
The Woman in Black

I haven't seen a great horror in ages ... and I still haven't.

The woman in black nobly attempts to substitute the gore of countless other dross with the subtle, eerie tension of such films as The Others - and in doing this doesn't exactly disgrace itself, but doesn't raise much of a pulse either.

Competently acted, and I like the idea of a ghost-story that seems to be set in Yorkshire, but really it's all just filler.


That was the one where I wanted to strangle the sound technician for too many jump sounds. It does have nice atmosphere a lot of the time.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
There’s a lot of catching-up to do, not least because I’ve been on a lucky streak of a movie a day recently:

An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Two American students travel through England and, despite of the warnings of the stereotypically hostile and weird locals, wander the moors at night at full moon…
John Landis’s cult movie feels a bit uneven and incomplete. It’s a horror comedy where the horrific and comedic scenes don’t really mix but alternate and it doesn’t have much of a narrative arc. It also doesn’t have a proper ending; it just climaxes with a loud groan, falls to the side and is asleep and snoring in an instant. That being said, ‘An American Werewolf in London’ is quite funny and the transformation scenes are really good. It may be an inconsequential movie, but it is very cute and doesn’t outlast its welcome. 7/10

If … (1968)
Often named one of the best British movies ever made, ‘If…’ is probably best seen as an artefact of its time. Malcolm McDowell, in a star-making performance, plays Mick Travis, a non-conformist student in an English public school He and two other students hate the boarding school’s meaningless traditions and strict discipline and come into conflict with the prefects, who subject the junior students to ritualistic humiliations. Travis and his companions dream of revolution, ending in a spectacular finale.
This is a very blunt, but honest and angry critique of the establishment and must have seemed incendiary and provocative in the year of student revolts in France, Germany and the U.S. ‘If…’ borrows many techniques from French Nouvelle Vague directors, which must have been cutting edge in the late 60ies. 45 years after its release, many aspects of ‘If…’ are not topical anymore, though, and the style is too arty without purpose. The movie is still worth watching for McDowell’s performance alone and I would much prefer it to other movies with a similar set-up, such as ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ etc. 7/10

Porco Rosso (1992)
Porco Rosso is a former World War One flying ace, who has been magically transformed into an anthropomorphic pig and survives on the Adriatic Coast of Mussolini-era Italy as an aerial bounty hunter catching pirates. When his red hydroplane is damaged in a dogfight with an American rival, he needs to get it repaired while also avoiding the secret police.
Technically, this anime from Studio Ghibli is up to Hiyao Miyazaki’s high standards although it still falls a little short of his masterpieces ‘My Neighbour Totoro’, ‘Princess Mononoke’ and ‘Spirited Away’. The same can be said about the story of ‘Porco Rosso’, which is all over the place and doesn’t make that much sense. Then again, the movie’s heart is in the right place. (I like the line: “I’ll rather remain a pig than become a fascist.”) And I found the broad comedy funny and the action scenes exciting. Most of all, I liked the fantasy version of pre-WWII Italy, which isn’t even remotely trying to be realistic, but evokes the feeling of movies like ‘Casablanca’. 7/10

The Place beyond the Pines (2012)
Divided into three acts with different protagonists, ‘The Place beyond the Pines’ tells the story of Luke (Ryan Gosling), a stunt motorcyclist who sees no option but to turn to crime to win back and provide for his family, Avery (Bradley Cooper), the son of a powerful judge who has joined the police force instead of opting for a legal or political career, and of their sons, who are both outcasts in a way and affected by the choices made by their fathers.
I’ve read that ‘The Place beyond the Pines’ has a complicated structure, but I think this couldn’t be further from the truth. Quite on the contrary, this movie tells its story pretty much chronologically in three acts, but it changes protagonists in a manner not dissimilar to ‘Psycho’. That works fantastically well for this movie, because it allows to shed a light on the consequences of one person’s decisions and actions for other persons, which is the aim of ‘The Place beyond the Pines’. I do agree with the general consensus insofar as I think that the last act about the sons is considerably weaker than the first two thirds. It should be noted that these first two thirds are outstanding, though. Great acting by everyone involved (Bradley Cooper is proving to be an excellent and versatile actor), brilliant direction, a great script without clichés and realistic characters, who act out of comprehensible motives and make corresponding choices, even though they may not be clever. As a bonus, I also got a really exciting car chase, the best since, oh, ‘Ronin’? The third act isn’t as compelling and I got annoyed by one of the actors, who seemed to attempt a very bad Marlon Brando (ca. ‘The Wild One’) imitation. Nevertheless, a very fine movie. 8/10


Tue Nov 05, 2013 5:39 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ghostbusters

No, it's not the all time masterpiece fans claim it to be, but it is entertaining. It is also especially well paced; Ghostbusters moves along at a clip most popular films never even come close to. Filmmakers today should take note.

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Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:27 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Unke wrote:
There’s a lot of catching-up to do, not least because I’ve been on a lucky streak of a movie a day recently:



If … (1968)
Often named one of the best British movies ever made, ‘If…’ is probably best seen as an artefact of its time. Malcolm McDowell, in a star-making performance, plays Mick Travis, a non-conformist student in an English public school He and two other students hate the boarding school’s meaningless traditions and strict discipline and come into conflict with the prefects, who subject the junior students to ritualistic humiliations. Travis and his companions dream of revolution, ending in a spectacular finale.
This is a very blunt, but honest and angry critique of the establishment and must have seemed incendiary and provocative in the year of student revolts in France, Germany and the U.S. ‘If…’ borrows many techniques from French Nouvelle Vague directors, which must have been cutting edge in the late 60ies. 45 years after its release, many aspects of ‘If…’ are not topical anymore, though, and the style is too arty without purpose. The movie is still worth watching for McDowell’s performance alone and I would much prefer it to other movies with a similar set-up, such as ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ etc. 7/10


If is dated. No doubt. But in this rare case, I think that's a bad thing. Rarely -- if ever -- has a movie more captured the spirit of its time than If... did/does. If IS the 1960s. Many movies demand change, but If... is an actual call to arms, a call to anarchy. It made me want to go out and start a revolution. And the film's style suits its substance. What you perceive as artiness I perceive as an anarchic "fuck you" to established filmmaking conventions. And I love the movie for it. I think it's a **** film

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Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:30 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The push towards B&W and/or foreign stuff this monh leads to some pretty great stuff I didn't expect to like this much.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Such a cold, pitch-black observant of a film. The way New York was filmed for both its irresistible allure and dog-eat-dog filth of crowded people, who stomped over each other to get ahead, is splendid, and only matched by the two central performances. Burt Lancaster commands and towers above everybody as an evil tyrant columnist, although Tony Curtis might be a bit more impressive as a guy who squirrels every which way that would grant him money and success, no matter how low or undignified it is. Their sharp dialogue cuts deep in its unrelenting viciousness, and the jazzy tunes also help establish a sense of this dark, dark place. Great film. 9.5/10

Aguirre, the Wrath Of God (1972)

A film in which my admiration far exceeds my liking, but there's still plenty to enjoy and get lost in in this film. It was shot almost like a documentary, which is slightly jarring at first but has an incredibly immersive effect as it goes on. The first shot of men snaking down a dwindling path is spectacular. It also established how such deluded men in steel and fine clothes are far out matched by the cruel nature and hidden natives. Soon that imbalance led to barbaric acts and madness. This is the first time I have seen Klaus Kinksi acted in a film (after hearing his reputation), and he is perfect to be the embodiment of a man lost in delusion, cruelty, and madness. The last scene becomes one of the best endings ever from his wild, unnatural gestures and the inevitability of it all. 9/10


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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
A couple late viewings from October (still have a few more to catch up on):

The Counselor - It takes a special kind of talent to consistently squander tremendous potential, but it's a talent that Ridley Scott has seemingly mastered over the last handful of years. From 2007's American Gangster onward, my initial excitement over Ridley Scott films has always given way to post-screening disappointment. Finally, after really getting my hopes up and being let down considerably by 2012's Prometheus, I told myself I was going to temper any expectations for whatever film Scott had planned next. But all it took was one look at the collaborators involved in The Counselor for me to fall back into the same trap. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy's screenplay revolves around a plan for a drug deal which will grant its conspirators a large helping of extra spending money. Yet, as is the nature of these things, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. What's odd though about this film's characters is how disinterested them seem in those plans. Before the film even opens, just about everything has already been set in motion, and all that's needed is some final confirmations. The characters are strangely passive for a film of this sort, separated by a great distance from any real action, at least until the deal goes bad and the action comes to find them, at which point there's really nothing they can do about it. They enjoy their lavish lifestyles, but they seem purposefully ignorant of the darker corners of society with which they find themselves involved, and with only a couple exceptions, they think they are immune to the dangers hidden in those corners.

By keeping the focus squarely on these passive characters, the film just isn't able to generate much in the way of significant dramatic conflict. Hell, even the most active of these main characters operates offscreen for a good portion of the running time. Whatever little action there is comes almost entirely through peripheral characters and although this is more than likely not the case, those scenes almost feel like they were born from reshoots, after studio executives looked at what they had and hit the panic button. Because so much of the film feels like it's on standby, the viewer is given plenty of time to find annoying little quirks elsewhere, particularly when it comes to the handling of the female roles (Penelope Cruz is saddled with the token fiancé character, while Cameron Diaz's Malkina is an exaggerated, vampy creation the actress never seems completely comfortable inhabiting). I don't want to give off the impression there isn't anything of value in The Counselor; truthfully, I found its intentional rejection of convention somewhat admirable. But "somewhat admirable" for a film with so much potential just isn't good enough. Recent articles about the film have made incredibly hyperbolic claims as far-ranging as "the worst film ever made" or "Scott's best film." The truth is it falls squarely into that middle area where Scott has unfortunately found himself visiting all too frequently, although the reasons why it ends up in that middle area are at least slightly more interesting than they have been in the past. 5/10.

The East - The paranoid thriller has never left cinema screens for very long, but the genre has never been quite as prominent or effective as it was in the 1970s, in films like All The President’s Men, Three Days Of The Condor, and Marathon Man. Those films spun assorted tales of insidious government conspiracy, both fiction and nonfiction, with panicky spooks resorting to desperate and violent means to keep incendiary secrets under wraps. Today, while tales of reckless governmental overreach still remain all too relevant (especially with the recent revelations of excessive NSA spying), the modern world has seen the rise of another force with similar tremendous power, the corporation, and filmmakers have not let this development go unnoticed. The Tony Gilroy films Michael Clayton and Duplicity have already made great drama out of corporate espionage, and now comes The East, directed by Zal Batmanglij and co-written by Batmanglij and star Brit Marling. When the film is at its best, it’s evoking the memories of those classic ’70s thrillers, although certain storytelling weaknesses keep it from quite measuring up.

Marling plays an employee of a organization that protects large companies from acts of terrorism. At the start of the film, she is given an assignment to infiltrate the ranks of a revolutionary group called The East, who have promised to attack three corporations within the next year for their crimes against humanity. Before long, however, she finds herself gaining sympathy for the members of the group, as well as romantic feelings for their quiet leader. With its anti-corporate/pro-environment stance and even an exclusive song contribution from The National, The East wears its ultra-liberal intentions proudly on its sleeve. I don’t have a problem with a film taking a firm political stance, but in this case some problematic issues crop up as a result, particularly in the presentation of the idealistic revolutionary group. Batmanglij and Marling’s screenplay pulls back right at the last minute from completely endorsing the group’s actions, but there is an uncomfortable feeling throughout that the viewer is meant to empathize with characters that fight immorality with more immorality, emphasized in dreamy sequences of communal bathing and ritualistic dining habits. A film like Martha Marcy May Marlene, which presents its central cult as disturbing and dangerous, can get away with this type of thing, but because The East is more sympathetic to these lost souls, there are plenty of moments that come across as more than a little ill-judged. This facet of the film is unfortunate, because overall it’s a more ambitious and interesting effort than the previous Batmanglij/Marling collaboration The Sound Of My Voice. I just get the feeling they are still one or two films away from making something truly great. 6/10.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:42 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
KWRoss wrote:
Blue is the Warmest Color-- ***1/2

I weighed in on this movie over in the Recent Reviews section, but I'll add a little more over here. This is definitely a compelling film; the sex scenes and the actresses/director beef may be getting all the attention, but this is at its heart a great coming-of-age story. Three hours is a long time to sit in a theater, especially for a dialogue-driven movie, but this one kept me engaged throughout. Believe it or not, there's actually some kinship with Before Midnight in the sense that it shows how tough it is to maintain relationships once the red-hot, passionate times have simmered down. A lot has to happen before the movie gets to the sex; we get to know Adele quite well as a character in the first hour or so, which depicts her high school life. Some individual scenes drag a bit, but overall I understand the need for a lengthy running time.


Let's cut to the chase here - how good is it?

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Night Train to Lisbon (2013)
A Swiss Latin teacher (Jeremy Irons) saves a young woman from jumping off a bridge. When she suddenly disappears, he finds a book in her coat pocket and a train ticket to Lisbon. He immediately boards the train and reads the autobiographical book by Amadeu de Prado (Jack Huston in flashbacks), who was a doctor and in the underground during the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal. The teacher feels so moved by the Amadeu’s story that he seeks out his old acquaintances and learns about a past love triangle.
This European co-production is based on a best-selling novel, has a cast of international stars (Mélanie Laurent, Bruno Ganz, Charlotte Rampling, Lena Olin, Christopher Lee) and, in Bille August, a director who has directed two Palme d’Or winning movies and won the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Where did it all go wrong? ‘Night Train to Lisbon’ makes the mistake of many movie adaptations of literature to try and transfer the “magic of the book’s words” onto film by using them in ubiquitous voiceover narration. I’ll jump off the bloody Ponte Vasco da Gama myself, if I ever have to watch another shot of Jeremy Irons in a straw hat reading a book while crossing the river Tejo on a ferry (with said bridge prominently in the background) and hearing Irons droning on and on.Appropriating the structure of ‘Citizen Kane’ (and outright referencing it) also isn’t a good idea if you can’t pull it off: Here, the Latin teacher visits one person, who tells a story shown in flashback and finishes by saying “And this is my story”, turning away and walking off. Then the teacher visits the next person (via ferry) and it repeats all over again. ‘Rashomon’, this is not. 3/10

It’s Hot in Hell aka A Monkey in Winter (1962)
The gruff former sailor and notorious drunkard Albert (Jean Gabin) runs a hotel during World War Two in a small town in the Normandie. During an air raid, he swears to quit drinking if he and his wife should survive. He keeps his vow until, some years later, he is challenged by the arrival of the cocky young Gabriel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), who is prone to getting hopelessly sloshed.
This movie doesn’t know whether it wants to be a drama and warn of the dangers of heavy drinking or whether it wants to be a comedy about comically drunk idiots. The movie lost me when the reformed drinker inexplicably decided that life was too boring without alcohol and that he had to join is new pal on a binge, after he had just saved him from re-enacting a bull fight with cars on high street. The film isn’t completely bad, but worse than mediocre. 4/10

Hour of the Wolf (1968)
Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) is a painter living on an isolated island. When his wife Alma (Liv Ullman) returns from working on the shore for some months, she notices that his mental state is disintegrating. Borg claims to be haunted by demons, who come in the shape of inhabitants of a castle on the island, Soon, Alma comes into contact with the demons, too, and Johan tells her of disturbing memories or dreams. Or something.
Although ‘Hour of the Wolf’ apparently isn’t considered to be one of Ingmar Bergman’s masterpieces, it is still held in high regard by critics. To be honest, I didn’t connect with it and only understood what Bergman was getting at in the very end. (It’s about spouses dealing with or even sharing their other halves’ nightmares and memories, I think.) The first half is just boring and consists of a lot of talk. The second half is filled with surrealistic nightmare images and makes for a half-decent horror movie. While that in itself doesn’t make ‘Hour of the Wolf’ worth watching, the fantastic black and white cinematography by Bergman regular Sven Nyqvist is marvelous. Overall, I didn’t “enjoy” it enough to rate it as a good movie, but I don’t regret watching it either. 6/10

Gravity (2013)
This is Major Stone to ground control/I’m stepping through the door/and I’m floating in the most peculiar way/ and the stars look very different today/ and here am I sitting in a tin can/ far above the world/ planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do …
Quoting song lyrics to describe a movie is a bit fatuous, but Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’ is so good it makes me want to sing. I have always wanted to see a film about an astronaut lost in space and now I’ve got it. I might be overreacting a bit, because I always appreciate movies more if I have seen them in the cinema (and usually think less of them on a second viewing at home). However, ‘Gravity’ should really be seen on a big screen. I had the pleasure of watching it in IMAX 3D and this is the first time that I appreciated the 3D, which adds to the movie because it helps to judge distances and positions in space. In addition to exceptionally good special effects, which are certain to receive awards, Sandra Bullock as astronaut Ryan Stone is outstanding and carries the movie. Her emotional journey is at the heart of the movie (although George Clooney is also fine) and I didn’t mind at all that there isn’t much going on plot-wise apart from an astronaut trying to reach safety only to having to solve the next problem. I hesitate to call a movie one of my favourites after just one viewing, but this is the best time I had in a cinema since ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. 10/10


Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:08 pm
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