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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
It's odd, but I like Same Time, Nine Years from Now, part deux (Before Sunset) quite a bit more than Before Sunrise, which I was somewhat indifferent to. I particularly like the opening scene when Jesse's signing his new book (which is about the events in Before Sunrise) and starts telling us about next book, visualizing Celine in it, and looks up at Celine, as if all times are compressed into one, as described in the story he's reciting. Paris looks beautiful, and we're not seeing all the usual tourist stops. I'll be watching Before Midnight in a week or two, and I suspect it won't be quite as happy, because you can see frustrations developing here. A lot of the script was written by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, drawing on their own experiences. (7.5 of 10)

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Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:06 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Coincidence, my mom just watched both Before Sunrise and Before Sunset for the first time today, and I watched part of them with her. Yeah, you can tell that the script this time is more of a team effort. Especially Ethan Hawke, whose real life at the time was mirrored very closely by the movie (going through divorce with Uma Thurman, whom he had two kids with, by reason of infidelity), and I think it really shows in his performance. Delphy is very good, but Hawke is great here. When I watched some of Sunset today, I appreciate his work more, what with all the quiet desperation, guilt, and how he seemed to be on the verge of pouring his thoughts out to Celine half the time.


Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:23 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I haven't watched any of the 'Before' films.

I plan to smash them all soon

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Sat Nov 30, 2013 3:50 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
Space Jam (1996) **1/2

Somehow I went my whole life without seeing this, despite being 9 when it came out. It's a pretty fun, if ridiculously slight, film and I had fun watching it. Even if Michael Jordan is incredibly wooden.


Definitely a true landmark of campy filmmaking. Nothing else quite like it.


Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:17 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Hill - It’s an interesting phenomenon how the passage of time can shape a filmmaker’s legacy. In the case of Sidney Lumet, a director with a very large and diverse body of work, there are the films everyone knows and remembers, films like 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon and Fail-Safe and Network. And then there are the films that, for one reason or another, haven’t achieved the same level of recognition over the years, but deserve reevaluation. This 1965 film is a prime example of the latter, a hidden gem that in retrospect I can’t believe I had never heard of before. As with much of the best Lumet work, The Hill takes place entirely in one setting, in this case the walls of a North African military rehabilitation camp during WWII, a place whose sole purpose is to dole out excessive punishment to ill-disciplined British soldiers for their various insubordinate behaviors. The camp is overseen by Sergeant Major Wilson (Harry Andrews), who views any criticism of his staff as a direct criticism of his own methods of operation. It’s an environment perfectly tailored to the power fantasies of sadistic officials, but events surrounding a new batch of incoming soldiers, among them the defiant Joe Roberts (Sean Connery), threaten to shake up the status quo.

The experience of watching The Hill is genuinely grueling, and I mean that in the best way possible. From the opening establishing shot to the anguishing conclusion, the viewer is really put through the wringer, but Lumet’s lean direction never provides an opportunity for attention to stray. This may seem like a bizarre comparison, but I was reminded of the Masaki Kobayashi samurai films Harakiri and Samurai Rebellion. Those films question the long-established samurai codes that value “honor” over the individual, and The Hill has a similar point to get across. The camp’s “purpose” is to whip soldiers into shape, to promote discipline and obedience and the idea that they are just one cog in a big machine. But after one fateful incident, Connery (in what might be his best performance) finally breaks and fights back against the establishment. Like the heroes of the aforementioned Kobayashi films, the path that Connery’s character heads down might not lead to the best destination, but the journey to get there is as compelling as anything. I had assumed I had seen the best that Sidney Lumet had to offer long ago, but after watching The Hill, I am glad to say I was mistaken. 9/10.

The Way Way Back - The coming-of-age story is a genre that I’m always going to be incredibly sympathetic towards. Even at their most fantastical, these types of films still have a solid chance of striking a potent chord, as I can’t help but flash back to my own experiences from the past. This 2013 entry from the writing/directing team of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash looks to have all the right ingredients for something stellar, but it ends up being more of a lukewarm concoction, offering up just as many false moments as true ones. Importantly though, the film does nail the characterization of the lead coming-of-ager. As played by Liam James, the 14 year-old Duncan is the type of character to which I can instantly relate: socially inept around girls and large groups of people, gawky and awkward in his movements, and unable to listen to REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” without belting out the lyrics when he thinks nobody is around to hear him. I’d say he was pathetic if I wasn’t just like him at the same age, and still am today in more ways than I would probably like to admit. James handles with ease the transformation from awkward adolescent in the beginning to confident individual by the end. If only the rest of the film felt as sure-handed.

For me, the biggest shortcoming with The Way Way Back is the over-reliance on one-dimensional caricatures and clichéd situations, especially in the scenes depicting the interactions between Duncan and his “family” unit. Some of the actors manage to elevate the material they’re given, while others seem merely content to paint with the broadest strokes. Steve Carell successfully suppresses his usual likeable screen persona, but he is never anything more than the obnoxious boyfriend character. Likewise, Allison Janney is consistently grating as an overly-nosy neighbor. On the plus side, Toni Collette makes the most out of her frustrated mother role, while AnnaSophia Robb is an appealing screen presence, even if her character is nothing more than the token love interest. It’s always a relief when the film steps away from all of the family drama and moves to other areas, mainly the water park that serves as the grounds for Duncan’s happiest moments. The water park is also where Sam Rockwell gets to come onscreen and steal the show; it’s a familiar type of role for him, but he fills it so well it’s tough to complain too much. Most of the “big” moments throughout the film come across as overplayed, and by the end I found myself most fondly remembering the smaller moments. Like when Duncan recognizes his mother’s struggles and quietly cleans the kitchen after dinner without needing to say anything. Or the final closing note, a simple gesture that hints at a more positive future. Those kind of moments redeem some of the film’s more overbearing qualities, but not enough for it to enter the pantheon of the great coming-of-age stories. 6/10.

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Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:27 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Blonde Almond wrote:
The Hill - It’s an interesting phenomenon how the passage of time can shape a filmmaker’s legacy. In the case of Sidney Lumet, a director with a very large and diverse body of work, there are the films everyone knows and remembers, films like 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon and Fail-Safe and Network. And then there are the films that, for one reason or another, haven’t achieved the same level of recognition over the years, but deserve reevaluation. This 1965 film is a prime example of the latter, a hidden gem that in retrospect I can’t believe I had never heard of before. As with much of the best Lumet work, The Hill takes place entirely in one setting, in this case the walls of a North African military rehabilitation camp during WWII, a place whose sole purpose is to dole out excessive punishment to ill-disciplined British soldiers for their various insubordinate behaviors. The camp is overseen by Sergeant Major Wilson (Harry Andrews), who views any criticism of his staff as a direct criticism of his own methods of operation. It’s an environment perfectly tailored to the power fantasies of sadistic officials, but events surrounding a new batch of incoming soldiers, among them the defiant Joe Roberts (Sean Connery), threaten to shake up the status quo.

The experience of watching The Hill is genuinely grueling, and I mean that in the best way possible. From the opening establishing shot to the anguishing conclusion, the viewer is really put through the wringer, but Lumet’s lean direction never provides an opportunity for attention to stray. This may seem like a bizarre comparison, but I was reminded of the Masaki Kobayashi samurai films Harakiri and Samurai Rebellion. Those films question the long-established samurai codes that value “honor” over the individual, and The Hill has a similar point to get across. The camp’s “purpose” is to whip soldiers into shape, to promote discipline and obedience and the idea that they are just one cog in a big machine. But after one fateful incident, Connery (in what might be his best performance) finally breaks and fights back against the establishment. Like the heroes of the aforementioned Kobayashi films, the path that Connery’s character heads down might not lead to the best destination, but the journey to get there is as compelling as anything. I had assumed I had seen the best that Sidney Lumet had to offer long ago, but after watching The Hill, I am glad to say I was mistaken. 9/10.


I am so glad I got Jack Burns and you to watch this. Also worth mentioning: the black and white cinematography is terrific

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Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:45 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
I am so glad I got Jack Burns and you to watch this. Also worth mentioning: the black and white cinematography is terrific


I meant to give you and JackBurns credit for calling attention to the film. Many thanks!

A couple more:

No Regrets For Our Youth - The first film in Criterion’s Eclipse collection Postwar Kurosawa, a set of five films the acclaimed Japanese filmmaker made in the years directly after WWII. Released in 1946, No Regrets For Our Youth traces the personal development of one woman, from conservative bourgeoisie daughter and object of affection to submissive housewife and eventually independent firebrand, over the course of a decade that would see the country of Japan irrevocably changed by war. At this point in time, Akira Kurosawa was still at a relatively early stage of his career, and consequently the complete command of material evidenced in his later works is less apparent here. You can sense the director was still learning on the job and searching around for his greatest interests, and so with this film you get a little bit of everything. It starts out as a sort of student protest drama that gradually introduces a love triangle element, before shifting briefly into a domestic drama. Then, there are hints of a crime thriller and courtroom drama, but those hints fall to the wayside in favor of an almost “Bressonian” cleansing of body and soul. That last section is the film’s most striking, a mostly silent sequence that contrasts sharply with everything that has come before.

What the film lacks in polish it makes up for in passion. Kurosawa clearly had his own strong views on Japan’s wartime decisions and mentality, and the film is not afraid to express criticisms towards some of the ideas and attitudes of Japanese society of the time. But really more than anything else, the film is a showcase for Setsuko Hara. Probably best known for her performances in the films of Yasujiro Ozu, Hara is given a very different kind of role here, one that allows her to fully showcase her versatility. In this type of film, you need a performer who can subtly convey complete transformations of character, and Hara is up to that task. And in that aforementioned “Bressonian” sequence, she projects an altogether different type of screen presence, one that recalls some of the most memorable faces of silent cinema. Her character Yukie holds the distinction of being Kurosawa’s only female main protagonist, and that alone makes No Regrets For Our Youth unique among the director’s catalogue and worth taking the time to see. 7/10.

Twixt - If I hadn’t known anything about this going in and somebody had told me it was a film from a debut filmmaker, I would have seen no reason for believing that wasn’t the case. The fact that the man responsible for Twixt is the veteran director Francis Ford Coppola makes the film’s amateur nature endlessly fascinating. Now granted, it’s been quite a long time since Coppola has been responsible for anything worthwhile apart from a modestly respectable Californian wine. But you would expect to see some glimmer of the filmmaker he once was, and here there is no evidence the man behind the camera is the same person who gave us The Godfather, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now. After a brief opening narrated by the one and only Tom Waits, the film begins properly by introducing the character of Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer, aging very badly). A hack writer of witch-related horror novels, Baltimore has traveled to a small town for a book signing. Nobody seems to care about Baltimore’s latest work, and he is about ready to leave when he finds himself drawn to the stories of the town’s sordid past. Things start to get weird when Baltimore falls asleep at night. In his dreams he meets the ghostly teenage girl V (Elle Fanning) and Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin), who acts as a sort of guide through the dark, imaginary landscape.

Inexplicable is probably the only word that can adequately describe what’s going on with Twixt. It’s inexplicable how little atmosphere is present in what is supposed to be a Gothic horror film. It’s inexplicable how tepid the scenes in the real world are, even with the always-watchable Bruce Dern doing his best to liven things up as the town’s slightly mad sheriff. It’s inexplicable how much of the film is taken up by Kilmer having conversations with Joanne Whalley and David Paymer through Skype (insert obligatory joke about them literally phoning in their performances). But most inexplicable of all is the film’s visual representation of the dream world. Presumably the intent was to recreate the kind of digital environment Robert Rodriguez nailed with Sin City, but it ends up looking like one of those mid-’90s PC games that would integrate live actors into the proceedings (most memorably the 1996 “classic” of gaming Goosebumps: Escape From Horrorland, which featured cameos from Jeff Goldblum as Dracula and Isabella Rossellini as a character named Lady Cadaver). It all adds up to a film that is, you guessed it, inexplicable, but it’s really not the type of film you get upset about. Instead, it’s the type of film you simply marvel at while struggling and failing to rationalize its existence. To borrow a sentiment expressed by Mark Kermode: Francis, go back to the wine. 3/10.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Winter's Bone Really well acted drama. The slow pace might be a turn off for some, but I really think it works to sink the events deeper. Also, as good as Jennifer Lawrence was, damn! John Hawkes was great. I'm gonna have to start paying more attention to him. Grade: A-

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Thief12 wrote:
Winter's Bone Really well acted drama. The slow pace might be a turn off for some, but I really think it works to sink the events deeper. Also, as good as Jennifer Lawrence was, damn! John Hawkes was great. I'm gonna have to start paying more attention to him. Grade: A-


Right on. I'm still very happy this movie got a BP nomination AND a nod for Hawkes. Right on, Academy

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
Thief12 wrote:
Winter's Bone Really well acted drama. The slow pace might be a turn off for some, but I really think it works to sink the events deeper. Also, as good as Jennifer Lawrence was, damn! John Hawkes was great. I'm gonna have to start paying more attention to him. Grade: A-


Right on. I'm still very happy this movie got a BP nomination AND a nod for Hawkes. Right on, Academy


Yeah, but they failed to nominate him for what I think is an even better performance in last year's The Sessions. How he didn't get nominated for that movie is beyond me. I would rank his performance above Hugh Jackman's, Joaquin Phoenix's and Bradley Cooper's.


Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:13 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
ilovemovies wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
Thief12 wrote:
Winter's Bone Really well acted drama. The slow pace might be a turn off for some, but I really think it works to sink the events deeper. Also, as good as Jennifer Lawrence was, damn! John Hawkes was great. I'm gonna have to start paying more attention to him. Grade: A-


Right on. I'm still very happy this movie got a BP nomination AND a nod for Hawkes. Right on, Academy


Yeah, but they failed to nominate him for what I think is an even better performance in last year's The Sessions. How he didn't get nominated for that movie is beyond me. I would rank his performance above Hugh Jackman's, Joaquin Phoenix's and Bradley Cooper's.


Yeahhhhh but on the other hand did the world really need another actor getting a nod for playing a disabled character in an otherwise fairly meh movie?

Also...above Joaquin Phoenix? No way. Cooper and (especially) Jackman I'll grant you, but Phoenix was incredible

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I'm hoping to get to Winter's Bone this month.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)

I only know it is from a BBC show afterwards, but there is definitely a feeling of history in characters and their relationships that I haven't been privy to throughout. Even so, it stands remarkably well on its own. The siege plot may be thin and just one setpiece after another, but the script keeps throwing different kinds of jokes at us and most of them hit (I may be laughing a little too hard at Coogan's "Jason..." joke). Best of all, for a plot that normally would have a lot of downtimes, Steve Coogan's manic energy and verbal gift keep things chugging along well and consistently funny. 7.5/10


Sun Dec 01, 2013 1:15 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Re: John Hawkes

I haven't seen The Sessions so I can't comment, but his performance in Winter's Bone was the kind of performance that serves as an eye-opener to an actor. I had never paid attention to this guy; don't even know if I've seen him in other films, but all of a sudden, I want to see more of him.



Anyway, my latest watch...

The Farmer's Wife is the last in my Hitchcock silent films collection and, like Champagne before it, it ended up being a bit of a chore to get through. Apparently the version I saw was the long one cause it clocked in a little over 2 hours, which made it feel too overlong and stretched out for the material. The romantic-comedy angle also wasn't that effective, although it wasn't as tedious as Champagne. But still, there were several moments of physical comedy that didn't quite gel with the plot, and the premise of the story wasn't that strong to begin with. Grade: C

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Island of Lost Souls (1932) ***1/2

Now this...this was a pretty cool little movie. If you have 70 minutes to put aside for a Criterion-worthy pre-Code horror film based on the Island of Dr. Moreau, I highly recommend you do. It's well directed and interesting in a freaky way. It doesn't have a quarter of the fame of King Kong, but it would make a good counterpiece.

Along Came a Spider (2001) **1/2

Totally mediocre, with gaping plot holes as far as the eye can see, but I had a blast. I have a total weakness for shitty thrillers. It doesn't really deserve more than **, but I'll give it 2.5

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Strangeland: Stupid, boring, sick. Those are three words I have for the shitfest that Twisted Metal's Dee Snider foisted upon me. There's nothing worthy of any praise. The acting is awful, plot inconsistencies are everywhere, the violence is sickening, and there is no atmosphere. BARF! 0/4

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
moviemkr7 wrote:
Strangeland: Stupid, boring, sick. Those are three words I have for the shitfest that Twisted Metal's Dee Snider foisted upon me. There's nothing worthy of any praise. The acting is awful, plot inconsistencies are everywhere, the violence is sickening, and there is no atmosphere. BARF! 0/4

Disagree, I thought it was a pretty cool film.


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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
I'm hoping to get to Winter's Bone this month.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)

I only know it is from a BBC show afterwards, but there is definitely a feeling of history in characters and their relationships that I haven't been privy to throughout. Even so, it stands remarkably well on its own. The siege plot may be thin and just one setpiece after another, but the script keeps throwing different kinds of jokes at us and most of them hit (I may be laughing a little too hard at Coogan's "Jason..." joke). Best of all, for a plot that normally would have a lot of downtimes, Steve Coogan's manic energy and verbal gift keep things chugging along well and consistently funny. 7.5/10


Yeah, the Series is years old. 1st series 1997 and the second in 2002.

Good stuff!

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Mon Dec 02, 2013 7:48 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I need to see more of Coogan's stuff.

Disconnect (2013)

So many characters, yet so pervading a feeling of intense loneliness. It can get real unsubtle (particularly the identity fraud story), but all the actors carry it off well. I also really appreciate how it doesn't wrap everything up neatly or present its theme and characters as clear-cut. That climatic slow-motion scene is memorable and poignant. 8/10

To the Wonder (2013)

Can a film appeal so grandly to the senses that things like characters and narrative can fall by the wayside and not be a drawback? For most of the running time, To the Wonder is that for me. Gorgeous visual poetry that makes a certain amount of emotional logic, even if the actual story is at times a strain to make out; the characters just some abstract figures Malick uses to paint and spin around in his world. It loses a little steam towards the end, and Jarvier Bardem's arc totally isn't necessary in an already too-long running time. Even so, the dreamy mood it creates and wonderful cinematography are enough to get me lost in the film. 8/10

Strange that I have seen three random Malicks from his different phases, with this after Days of Heaven (7.5/10) and The Thin Red Line (8/10). I'll probably loop back to Tree of Life sometimes soon.


Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:01 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
moviemkr7 wrote:
Strangeland: Stupid, boring, sick. Those are three words I have for the shitfest that Twisted Metal's Dee Snider foisted upon me. There's nothing worthy of any praise. The acting is awful, plot inconsistencies are everywhere, the violence is sickening, and there is no atmosphere. BARF! 0/4


I saw this a long time ago, and I'm still haunted by how shitty it was.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Dead Zone

I really dug this movie. There was something about it that persistently held me back from digging it, but I dug it anyway, and I think a lot of it had to do with Christopher Walken. He's one of those actors who doesn't have an inauthentic bone in his body. Everything that springs from him feels 100% organic. Every choice he makes here is the right choice, no matter what the scene is, no matter what he has to be--warm and kind, hapless, terrified, full of accepted despair, quietly mad with isolation, scary like a man possessed. He has such a reputation for playing freaks and weirdos that people never talk about how good he is. But he's great, and he owns this movie.

Cronenberg, too--most of his films have such a peculiar personal stamp that it's easy to forget that he can do great work when asked to delve into a world of somebody else's creation. The scenes he crafts are simple and understated, but he's so selective in his choice of details that it all comes together with a singular, dreadful tone. His images wed well to the music of Michael Kamen, who is not ordinarily noted as one of our great composers yet can do well when he shows the kind of restraint he shows here.

If there is a nagging issue of the movie, I think it's the romantic pairing of the Walken and Brooke Adams characters. They're both appealing, but their continued entanglement feels contrived. No matter how hard the actors try to make it work, there's something unpleasant and a little torturous about how the movie keeps ramming these people together. She's a ghost from his past. Their every subsequent meeting had me a little more convinced that she should have stayed that way.

On a scale of leatherbound books to triode tubes, I give Dead Zone Q.5 bananas.

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