Iro's One Movie a Day Thread

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I maintain that being entertaining and being good are mutually exclusive concepts and that The Craft is not sufficiently entertaining to overcome its flaws.
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I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.



I maintain that being entertaining and being good are mutually exclusive concepts.


I expected more from someone with a Snake Plissken avatar.



Welcome to the human race...


I expected more from someone with a Snake Plissken avatar.
Why?



Are you going to tell me that Escape From New York is not entertaining?

Good and entertaining are not at all mutually exclusive. The best films have great stories, memorable characters, beautiful cinematography, and keep the viewer engaged. An entertaining film is simply one that provides enjoyment to its viewers. That enjoyment can come from the absurd or from the thought provoking, but to me any film that doesn't provide entertainment isn't a good film at all.



Welcome to the human race...
Are you going to tell me that Escape From New York is not entertaining?

Good and entertaining are not at all mutually exclusive. The best films have great stories, memorable characters, beautiful cinematography, and keep the viewer engaged. An entertaining film is simply one that provides enjoyment to its viewers. That enjoyment can come from the absurd or from the thought provoking, but to me any film that doesn't provide entertainment isn't a good film at all.
What can I say? I'm thinking of so-bad-it's-good movies and also the supposed classics that don't do much for me on a personal level (and of course there are multiple examples scattered throughout this thread).



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Did you happen to watch The Craft on TV?
I DVRed it off TV and watched it later, does that count?



Well I've learned from my own movie watching experiences that the "classic" label doesn't really mean anything, except "old." The film might be great, but it might also be torture to watch. So unless I'm watching them for a specific purpose, like a decade countdown, I treat them like any other movie and only watch if there's something about them that looks appealing.



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#140 - The Naked Spur
Anthony Mann, 1953



In the Wild West, a handful of strangers - a bounty hunter, an old prospector, an ex-soldier and a criminal's daughter - as they reluctantly join forces to transport a wanted man to the nearest town in order to collect the bounty on his head.

What if Alfred Hitchcock directed a Western? The Naked Spur seems like a direct response to that particular question - not only does it utilise two of Hitchcock's most well-known collaborators in both James Stewart and Janet Leigh, but its emphasis on the tension between its extremely small cast of characters rather than external developments certainly sounds like the kind of film that the master of suspense would have made. The film is lean enough so that its fairly basic premise doesn't get totally played out and the actors are good enough to give their already decent characters some depth. Stewart makes for a sufficiently ambiguous and sour-faced protagonist who doesn't seem that much better than the gleefully sadistic outlaw (Robert Ryan) he's escorting - he is humanised to the point where he's never quite the villain, which I'm not all that sure was the best choice but at least it's a bit better than the usual "hero is not so different from the villain" kind of story. Leigh is a bit underused as the token female character who is basically defined by her connection to both Ryan and later Stewart, but she's decent enough. Ralph Meeker and Mallard Mitchell round out the cast as the ex-soldier and prospector respectively - the former is on roughly the same moral ground as Stewart while the latter is the closest the film gets to having a truly good and just character, and they both do alright with what they've got. The fact that the film is shot on location in the Rocky Mountains makes for some fairly decent energy that's different to that of films shot on sets during the same era, which is a difference I can appreciate. It's not all that amazing but it is a rather decent little potboiler and, as I stated at the beginning, it's basically a Hitchcock film that takes place in the Wild West so if that sounds like it'd be up your alley then check it out.




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#141 - Black Hawk Down
Ridley Scott, 2001

This viewing came before I wrote the review on the previous page so this doesn't need another review, but since it still counts as a film I've watched this year I'm going to post about it anyway.



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#142 - Zoolander
Ben Stiller, 2001



A shallow and foolish male model becomes an unwitting pawn in a sinister plan involving an assassination plot against the prime minister of Malaysia.

Zoolander is another one of those films that I've seen mostly in bits and pieces but never all at once, so of course I figured that given its brevity I might as well watch it all the way through. I definitely knew that I shouldn't expect anything approaching a masterpiece, just a fairly lightweight comedy that would be good for a few laughs. That raises a question I find interesting - how funny does have a comedy have to be before it can be considered good, and can a comedy still be considered good even if it doesn't inspire a reaction as spontaneous as laughter? Zoolander is a fairly basic satire on the fashion industry that I wasn't exactly expecting to be incisive (and it really isn't, bar the fact that the main conflict is driven by a political dispute over clothing sweatshops) but the main target of its comedy is its clueless protagonist (Ben Stiller) whose sheer lack of intelligence makes him the ideal candidate for becoming a brainwashed assassin. The plot isn't what matters here, but unfortunately the film doesn't quite have the jokes to pad out its brief running time. Stiller's funny-talking goofball doesn't generate that many laughs on his own, nor does his laid-back but equally simple rival (Owen Wilson), though their interplay with each other and Christine Taylor's strait-laced reporter is sporadically okay. However, it's Will Ferrell who steals the show as the film's extremely campy villain - though it's fundamentally very similar to your average Ferrell performance, here his scenes are practically a relief from Stiller's very limited performance. The film also plays host to a cavalcade of cameo appearances, few of which are actually worthwhile (the best example being David Bowie appearing suddenly to judge a "walk-off" between the leads). Too bad the laughs I got out of this weren't so much full-on laughs as the occasional chuckle. I'm kind of hoping this ends up being like Mean Girls and Anchorman in that I'll dislike it at first but grow to like it just as much as those films, but even with this expectation in mind I'm still not sure that'll happen with this film (outside of a couple of quotable one-liners, perhaps).




Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
#140 - The Naked SpurAnthony Mann, 1953
... it's basically a Hitchcock film that takes place in the Wild West so if that sounds like it'd be up your alley then check it out.
Is this the first Stewart/Mann film you've seen? They made eight films (five of them westerns) together in the early '50s.
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Welcome to the human race...
Is this the first Stewart/Mann film you've seen? They made eight films (five of them westerns) together in the early '50s.
Yes, it is. Based on my review, are there any other collaborations of theirs that you'd care to recommend?



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
They're all quite comparable, maybe The Man from Laramie or Bend of the River? Winchester '73 was the first and the only one in B&W. Mann made several cult noirs (T-Men, Raw Deal) in the '40s and other cult westerns (The Tin Star, Man of the West) in the '50s.



That raises a question I find interesting - how funny does have a comedy have to be before it can be considered good
Mark Kermode has a six laugh minimum for a comedy. Using this measure even some of the comedies I do like fail as comedies.

and can a comedy still be considered good even if it doesn't inspire a reaction as spontaneous as laughter?]
I think it can if you like it. Especially if you include smuckles.
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#143 - Hannah and Her Sisters
Woody Allen, 1986



Centres on three sisters and their complicated love lives.

The concept of a person watching film after film by an acclaimed and prolific filmmaker in the hope that they'll eventually see one by said filmmaker that they'll actually like sounds like it could've sprung from a Woody Allen film itself, but unfortunately it's just a summary of how, despite how much people like his movies, I struggle to enjoy any of his films (with the possible exception of Broadway Danny Rose, but that was a caper film with a fairly action-driven plot unlike just about every other Allen film I've seen, so until I see more of his work I'm inclined to consider it an anomaly). Hannah and Her Sisters seemed like it might have been a little different with its tragicomic tale of a complicated, interconnected group of love stories but unfortunately the execution was definitely not something I particularly cared for.

The main plot of the film, such as there is one, concerns a tale of infidelity that occurs as one couple including the titular Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her husband (Michael Caine) start to grow apart, leading Caine to obsess over Hannah's younger and prettier sister (Barbara Hershey) and ultimately begin an affair with her. Though Caine managed to win an Oscar for his role as a flawed yet apparently sympathetic example of a middle-aged man who is at least somewhat aware of how awful he's being over this, not even his considerable talent make this character or his arc consistently interesting, with only the guilt complex stopping it from completely falling into cliché territory. It doesn't help that Caine's distinctive English accent makes him come across as a fish out of water against the predominantly American rhythms on display (and that's including Max von Sydow as Hershey's nihilistic partner, but at least his smaller amount of screen-time and accentless delivery doesn't make me question his presence as much as Caine does).

The film's secondary plot involves Hannah's other sister (Dianne Weist) and her scatterbrained attempts to do something meaingful with her life, which intersects with Hannah's first husband (Allen himself, playing a neurotic writer for a TV show - how surprising) and his attempts to find meaning in his life following a health scare. While Weist is a decent enough performer (and you'd think she would be considering that she also won an Oscar), the character doesn't do all that much to stick out in my memory beyond being the kind of neurotic New Yorker that only seems to exist within the confines of an Allen film. As for Allen himself...don't get me started. His whole sub-plot about his character's existential crisis, complete with panicky narration and the usual nervy Allen mannerisms, comes across as superfluous above all else and not even its resolution is enough to make me feel any better about its existence in general.

Despite the considerable acclaim that's been heaped on it, Hannah and Her Sisters ultimately did nothing for me. Breaking things up with title cards and flashbacks while peppering scenes with the internal monologues of multiple characters don't add much of note to what comes across as a fairly drab drama where any genuinely comical element comes across as an unwelcome intrusion. I guess the search for an Allen film I sincerely and unquestionably like is still ongoing.




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#144 - Logan's Run
Michael Anderson, 1976



In a post-apocalyptic utopian society where everyone is ritually sacrificed once they reach the age of thirty, one of the system's enforcers unexpectedly becomes a target and must try to unravel the truth before it's too late.

On the surface, Logan's Run definitely looks like a product of the 1970s, with the futuristic setting playing off a lot of bizarre yet familiar concepts for the distant future. The men wear jumpsuits, the women wear mini-dresses, there are bright colours and neon lights all over the place...there are even a few jabs at contemporary culture such as one sequence taking place at a high-tech cosmetic surgery clinic where operations are done by a machine that looks like the bastard love-child of the laser from Goldfinger and a spider. The actual narrative is familiar enough - an unquestioning supporter of the regime (Michael York) is forced to wake up when he is given a top-secret mission that means becoming a target for his co-workers and searching for the dissenters' hideout, teaming up with one such potential dissenter (Jenny Agutter) in the process. Their journey leads them all over a world that has a laundry list of dystopia tropes, evading capture and death at every turn...and so on and so forth. While the campy weirdness of the domed city makes for a visually interesting setting at first, the film does run out of steam quite a bit in its second half. I'll cover it in spoilers...

WARNING: "Logan's Run" spoilers below
The second half of the film does involve York and Agutter escaping from the city and into the outside world of post-apocalyptic Washington D.C., meeting up with an old man (Peter Ustinov) before eventually deciding to return to the city and bring down the government, but the whole "discovering the outside world" thing drags hard and Ustinov, good actor that he is, doesn't do that much of note as the absent-minded elderly cat-lover, though I guess that's a bit more plausible than him being some sort of clear-minded wasteland oracle. The climax is a bit surprising and maybe a little unbelievable even for this movie, but it worked well enough, I guess.


Of course, there are some holes in the film's logic (if the computer that rules over the city knows that ankhs are a symbol of "runners", how does Agutter get away with wearing one as a prominently displayed necklace even before she gets in trouble for joining up with York? Wouldn't that be something worth telling the enforcers who chase runners all the time?) and the second half definitely doesn't hold up compared to the first half, but otherwise it's a flashy slice of '70s camp that is fairly enjoyable but I don't think of it as especially great.