Iro's One Movie a Day Thread

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You seem to dislike a lot of movies. Some I agree with, like RoboCop 3, Death Wish II, and RoboCop (2014), but others are movies that I completely disagree with, like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and When Harry Met Sally..., (which is one of my all-time favorite movies).

Well, at least you gave Fantastic Voyage a pretty good review.



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You seem to dislike a lot of movies. Some I agree with, like RoboCop 3, Death Wish II, and RoboCop (2014), but others are movies that I completely disagree with, like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and When Harry Met Sally..., (which is one of my all-time favorite movies).

Well, at least you gave Fantastic Voyage a pretty good review.
I gave The Day the Earth Stood Still and Fantastic Voyage the same rating, though.
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#195 - Waiting for Guffman
Christopher Guest, 1996



Follows the members of a small-town theatre company as they put together a musical about the town's history in anticipation of a major New York theatre player coming to town and seeing it.

Despite citing This Is Spinal Tap as one of my favourite movies for about a decade now, this is the first time I've ever watched any of the mockumentaries directed by Tap alumnus Christopher Guest. Waiting for Guffman is as good a pick as any and it's not hard to see how far its own particular influence has reached - watching this portrayal of quirky inhabitants of a fictitious American small-town for the first time in 2015 is enough to remind one of Parks and Recreation. Even so, Waiting for Guffman carves out its own fairly unique place with Guest assembling a good handful of actors to build a film around. Much like the talented yet immature goofballs that made up Spinal Tap, the citizens of Blaine, Missouri are a good-hearted yet somewhat naive bunch to the point where you find yourself actively wanting to ignore the implications of the film's Beckett-inspired title and hope against hope that their attempt to put on a historical musical actually does work out.

With a film that depends heavily on naturalistic performances above all else, it helps that the actors can all fill out their roles reasonably. Guest makes a good protagonist that goes beyond the apparent "gay drama teacher" stereotype he's evidently reconstructing. The other characters tend not to have especially distinct character arcs, but they more than make up for it with a flair for bizarre dialogue and mannerisms. As with any worthwhile mockumentary film, it's kept nice and short, moving things along at a brisk enough pace to stop you getting bored. The musical numbers are convincingly amateurish without being genuinely bad, as are the characters themselves. Waiting for Guffman wasn't quite the instant classic I was hoping for, but it's a quick and entertaining little piece of work that's consistently amusing if not always laugh-out-loud. The characters are realised well enough by some capable performers and it's nice to see that, for all the characters' glaring flaws, it's at least nice to see that the film's overall sense of humour isn't rooted in meanness or spite.




"""" Hulk Smashhhh."""
wow, cool thread. I haven't had time to check all your reviews out, but out of the last couple I mostly agree with you. I love Up it's such a warm and caring movie that offers a lot of fun for everyone. Robocop (2014) pretty much sucked, as did Robocop 3.
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I gave The Day the Earth Stood Still and Fantastic Voyage the same rating, though.

Yes, but The Day the Earth Stood Still should have been higher than Fantastic Voyage. It's one of the best sci-fi movies ever.



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Yes, but The Day the Earth Stood Still should have been higher than Fantastic Voyage. It's one of the best sci-fi movies ever.
Duly noted.



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#196 - The Sting
George Roy Hill, 1973



A pair of con artists team up to go after a crime boss after one of their associates is murdered.

The Sting is a reasonably solid if not altogether amazing little crime film. I was fond enough of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, though not completely blown away by it - I sort of had a similar reaction to this film, which reunites director Hill with stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Redford makes for a heavily flawed yet ultimately likeable protagonist as the small-time grifter whose accidental taking of a big score lands him in hot water with a vicious crime boss (Robert Shaw, who even manages a convincing Irish accent as part of his role). Newman, almost predictably, plays a once-legendary grifter who has gone to pot a bit but is roused into returning by Redford and soon demonstrates his own considerable talent for scams. They assemble a crew of experienced conmen and set about trying to fleece Shaw by any means necessary, resulting in them having to improvise some incredibly improbable schemes in order to make their long con pay off - and then they attract the attention of the law...

It shouldn't be surprising that a film as well-known as this one would ultimately inspires decades of imitators, but The Sting holds up well enough because of how inherently fun it is to watch lovable rogues pull off elaborate cons against both the unambiguously villainous and the inspectors trying to catch them. The camararderie between both leads helps carry this film, as does the plotting of each new part of their con, such as one scene where Newman and Shaw play a high-stakes card game while trying to see who can cheat the other man better. It also helps that the Oscar-winning costume design by none other than Edith Head perfectly encapsulates the film's 1930s setting. Though I'd complain that the film doesn't quite have the same humourous bent that made Butch Cassidy so memorable and that the film's maybe a bit longer than it really needs to be, these end up being minor complaints against a visually well-crafted film that keeps its plot rolling with some solid setpieces and good casting.




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#197 - The Killing
Stanley Kubrick, 1956



Follows a group of thieves as they proceed to pull off a heist at a racetrack.

Kubrick's take on the heist film proves to be a fairly solid noir in the process and it has a sufficient level of innovation to elevate it beyond the genre's typical fare. The voice-over stands out thanks to its blunt delivery in the style of a police report and also helps to capture the film's constant jumping around in time during the course of the heist. Though the technique of showing the different angles of a heist one at a time rather than cutting between them happening simultaneously has become a bit overused in recent years, here it still plays out reasonably well. The characters are par for the course - though it is very much an ensemble piece, Sterling Hayden stands out as the square-jawed brute responsible for carrying out the heist (not entirely unlike the one he played in The Asphalt Jungle - hell, they might as well be the same), as does Elisha Cook Jr. (who I recognised as being that guy from House on Haunted Hill) as a nervous pushover who unwittingly ends up jeopardising things.

As befitting a film that trades on intensity, the film keeps things nice and short (clocking in at a lean 85 minutes), which is definitely helped by Kubrick's very utilitarian direction. The inevitable fallout from the heist isn't dragged out too long, either, while the various facets of the heist are captured reasonably well and spliced together in such a way that it's still easy enough to follow along despite its relatively unconventional structure. Though it's probably a bit too pulpy for its own good at times and the characters lack a bit too much definition even for a Kubrick film (though it is early Kubrick), it's definitely a solid example of a classic noir and deserves to be recognised as such.




Yes, but The Day the Earth Stood Still should have been higher than Fantastic Voyage. It's one of the best sci-fi movies ever.
Now that I don't agree with. I like Fantastic Voyage a lot more than The Day The Earth Stood Still. Though I don't care for sci-fi, so it'd make sense that what fans love about the genre are the things which put me off/don't appeal.
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#198 - Knights of Badassdom
Joe Lynch, 2013



A group of LARPers run into trouble when one of their number accidentally summons an actual succubus during a tournament.

I tend to be skeptical of any film that seems like it's trying too hard to pander to a geeky demographic, and Knights of Badassdom doesn't do much to counter that first impression. First, the film takes one of the most stereotypically geeky hobbies in existence - live-action role-playing, which here amounts to acting out Dungeons and Dragons campaigns in a park. Second, it assembles a collection of actors from beloved geek shows - most notably Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Danny Pudi (Community), and Summer Glau (Firefly)- and throws them together. Finally, it invokes the familiar horror plot of a bunch of clueless characters accidentally summoning a force of evil to a closed-off area with the intention of playing things for laughs more so than scares. Unfortunately, Knights of Badassdom squanders what little promise its horror-comedy classification and star power might imply by not having enough in the way of good jokes or good scares.

I can't really fault the effects work given the film's low budget, but it's sparingly used and not to its full potential. There's enough gore to justify it being an R-rated horror, but none of it is disturbing or even funny. Dinklage is easily the best performer here, but he is seriously wasted as the film emphasises less amusing characters such as Ryan Kwanten's handsome but emotionally vulnerable straight-man protagonist and Steve Zahn as his goofy best friend. The jokes aren't especially funny either - I get that this is supposed to be an affectionate parody of LARPing and the surrounding community, but that doesn't necessarily translate to good humour. The film makes endless variations on the same joke about the disparity between the fantastic imaginary world the characters create and the mundane real world they actually inhabit, running it into the ground in the process. That's a good summary of the film, actually - a one-joke movie that can't even make the joke work. All the geeky references in the world can't make up for that.




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#199 - Wanted
Timur Bekmambetov, 2008



An unremarkable young office worker learns that he is the son of a gifted assassin and is inducted into his late father's organisation.

Wanted is yet another post-Matrix action film that emphasises style over substance to an especially glaring fault. This much is proved by the fact that its main twist on the very familiar "secret society of assassins" narrative is that the assassins are all genetically gifted with the ability to fire guns in such a way that they can send the bullets on a curve instead of in a straight line. A bit ridiculous, but surely the film knows how to have fun with such a premise? Sadly, that's not the case here. Wanted does attempt to show off a humourous side by establishing its protagonist (James McAvoy, one of several actors in this film that is better than material like this deserves) as a gutless wonder living an incredibly pitiful life. Dead-end office job, annoying co-workers, cheating girlfriend - it's like sitting through Office Space, only the jokes suck and make you wish this movie was trying to take itself more seriously so you might at least get an ironic chuckle out of it. Then, of course, the action kicks in courtesy of a mysterious assassin (Angelina Jolie, trying to be stoic yet seductive and somehow coming across as being as blandly disinterested in what's going on as I am) and then the bizarre mythology starts appearing (which is given plenty of smoothly-voiced exposition by none other than Morgan Freeman - not even he manages to sell this nonsense as he sleepwalks through the role).

Even if I were to sufficiently suspend my disbelief about the improbability of the action on offer, that doesn't make up for the fact that it's actually rather boring. Once you start throwing out the rules, it eventually becomes hard to find a reason to care about what's going on. Assassination targets are decided by the magic threads of an ancient loom, people take baths that can heal any injury, etc. It doesn't do anything to make these fancy bullet tricks really mean anything, even in the context of a cool action movie. We get it, these characters can curve their bullets. Show that happening in slow-motion a few dozen more times, I'm sure it'll stop being boring eventually. Even then, when the movie's not busy trying to justify its effects-heavy action sequences, it's playing out one of the most tiresome action plots ever. We once again get the "strong female character rescues loser male protagonist and trains him to be more badass than she is" cliché (which is rapidly becoming an annoying cliché even when it's used in movies I like - and also, there's a horribly forced romantic element to their relationship as well), an agonising training montage (both for the protagonist and the audience), a somewhat predictable second-act twist in order to railroad this movie towards a supposedly satisfactory conclusion when the very ending of the film seems to insult the audience in an attempt to be badass. I may watch my fair share of bad action movies, but Wanted is especially terrible in that regard. Good actors get miscast and wasted in a film that can't seem to make up its mind over how seriously it wants to take itself or even be taken by audiences. It can't even make its main selling point about physics-defying assassins interesting enough to even remotely compensate for its paper-thin plot. Derivative, shallow, and most of all...unwanted.




I'm with you on this one, Iro. I thought it'd be crap, but when I finally saw it on tv, I was unprepared for just how dull it would be. Salt was much better and that was merely decent.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
#194 - RoboCop
José Padilha, 2014


The scene with that picture was filmed across the street from where I work. It's the filthiest place I've seen in a long time. Asbestos everywhere, a huge crack right down the middle of the building. I'm surprised its still standing.

Agreed on the lack of...well...everything in that film. The only part I found interesting was the Cronenbergesque scene involving what was left of his actual body (lungs) when they took away his metal suit.
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#200 - The Straight Story
David Lynch, 1999



An old man decides to use his ride-on lawnmower to travel in order to travel interstate and visit his ill brother.

It would be easy to write off The Straight Story because it takes an auteur like Lynch and seemingly neuters his capacity for striking and unnerving surrealism by tethering him to a Disney-produced G-rated true-story film like this. Fortunately, one of Lynch's main strengths as a filmmaker is being able to bring sufficient levels of depth and characterisation to even the least likely of characters - his tendency to work on projects with small-town settings also gives him a good understanding of how to capture the inhabitants' particular quirks without being patronising or mocking. Richard Farnsworth plays Alvin Straight, the elderly man at the centre of the narrative. Given how the film is an appropriately straightforward road movie where Alvin is frequently on his own or interacting with new people in virtually each scene, it helps that Farnsworth more than holds his own by playing a likeable gentleman who gets along with just about everyone he meets but who carries enough personal demons to cast a shadow over the film's seemingly mawkish premise. This isn't a film that depends on character-based conflicts to stay interesting - none of the people Alvin encounters are even remotely malicious towards him, with the closest they get to opposing him is trying to change his mind over traveling by lawnmower. There is the occasional external circumstance that delays his journey, and though they do feel like they might be stretching the film out unnecessarily (such as the sequence where his old mower dies and he is forced to buy a new one), they don't feel like major obstacles and instead result in more good moments than bad ones.

Aside from Farnsworth's deservedly Oscar-nominated turn as Alvin, the mostly-unknown cast deliver believable performances that occasionally edge into Lynch's trademark weirdness but never enough to clash with the film's established mood (of note is Sissy Spacek as Alvin's adult daughter, whose mental disability results in a pronounced verbal tic peppered throughout every line). The filmmaking may not have a lot of Lynch's usual style but that only serves the film better, while regular Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti also veers into new territory by composing an appropriately rustic score with an emphasis on acoustic guitar. Though The Straight Story may be a little too protracted even for such a relatively easy-going story as this one, it's still a very well-rounded film and definitely worthy of anyone's attention independent of their opinion of Lynch. It's a fundamentally warm, humourous, touching film that definitely earns its sentimental value without resorting to cheap tactics.




As most know I'm a huge fan of this film so it's great to see such a review from you, Iro. There's simply nothing to dislike about this film, even for someone with as little humanity as me.



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#200 - The Straight Story
David Lynch, 1999



An old man decides to use his ride-on lawnmower to travel in order to travel interstate and visit his ill brother.

It would be easy to write off The Straight Story because it takes an auteur like Lynch and seemingly neuters his capacity for striking and unnerving surrealism by tethering him to a Disney-produced G-rated true-story film like this. Fortunately, one of Lynch's main strengths as a filmmaker is being able to bring sufficient levels of depth and characterisation to even the least likely of characters - his tendency to work on projects with small-town settings also gives him a good understanding of how to capture the inhabitants' particular quirks without being patronising or mocking. Richard Farnsworth plays Alvin Straight, the elderly man at the centre of the narrative. Given how the film is an appropriately straightforward road movie where Alvin is frequently on his own or interacting with new people in virtually each scene, it helps that Farnsworth more than holds his own by playing a likeable gentleman who gets along with just about everyone he meets but who carries enough personal demons to cast a shadow over the film's seemingly mawkish premise. This isn't a film that depends on character-based conflicts to stay interesting - none of the people Alvin encounters are even remotely malicious towards him, with the closest they get to opposing him is trying to change his mind over traveling by lawnmower. There is the occasional external circumstance that delays his journey, and though they do feel like they might be stretching the film out unnecessarily (such as the sequence where his old mower dies and he is forced to buy a new one), they don't feel like major obstacles and instead result in more good moments than bad ones.

Aside from Farnsworth's deservedly Oscar-nominated turn as Alvin, the mostly-unknown cast deliver believable performances that occasionally edge into Lynch's trademark weirdness but never enough to clash with the film's established mood (of note is Sissy Spacek as Alvin's adult daughter, whose mental disability results in a pronounced verbal tic peppered throughout every line). The filmmaking may not have a lot of Lynch's usual style but that only serves the film better, while regular Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti also veers into new territory by composing an appropriately rustic score with an emphasis on acoustic guitar. Though The Straight Story may be a little too protracted even for such a relatively easy-going story as this one, it's still a very well-rounded film and definitely worthy of anyone's attention independent of their opinion of Lynch. It's a fundamentally warm, humourous, touching film that definitely earns its sentimental value without resorting to cheap tactics.

This is my (and his parents') favorite Lynch film.. I remember loving Blue Velvet many years ago, but I'm no longer into the surrealistic stuff.



I think Blue Velvet was probably my favourite Lynch film before The Straight Story was released. It replaced it on the first viewing, though and The Elephant Man and also usurped it now, I think.



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#201 - Cape Fear
Martin Scorsese, 1991



After a convicted rapist gets out of prison after a lengthy jail term, he starts stalking the family of the attorney who originally defended him.

Martin Scorsese's version of Cape Fear is a solid enough if not necessarily amazing attempt at remaking a thriller. Though I haven't seen the original film (but have most definitely seem the episode of The Simpsons that parodied this film), on its own terms the Scorsese version works just fine. Though it doesn't feel like a Scorsese film so much as a fairly typical thriller for the period, it's not without its strengths. Robert de Niro makes for a solid antagonist as the creepy yet charming Max Cady - hearing him try to pull off a Southern accent may not always work, but otherwise he proves convincingly menacing every time he appears. The family at the centre of the narrative are also well-acted - Nick Nolte is sort of a weak link but he does just fine as a sufficiently complicated anti-hero who is almost flawed enough to deserve his retribution. His wife and daughter (Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis respectively) also get more to work with than merely playing the victim - Lewis's interactions with de Niro make for the most unsettling scenes in the film.

Granted, the film isn't a particularly deep one. The film amounts to little more than a fairly grey take on a morality play as Nolte's character and his family are made to pay as a result of him compromising his own morals simply to guarantee a conviction for a client he finds repugnant, but the film fills out its running time reasonably well. The casting is good (even the stunt-casting that brings back Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck on very different sides of the moral spectrum to their work in the original), the film builds a sufficient sense of dread thanks to its relentless antagonist powering on throughout all manner of suffering that almost makes him into a slasher villain, the film's stormy climax is very well-executed, and even though the score is recycled it's still great and never loses its power. Definitely not the best Scorsese, but still pretty good.




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#202 - Tootsie
Sydney Pollack, 1982



An out-of-work actor decides to disguise himself as a woman in order to get work.

Given how the general comedic premise of a man being forced to dress like a woman has its fair share of problems, it's a credit to the work on display in Tootsie that it does a good job of overcoming those problems. Much of that is down to the writing that creates a sufficiently complicated comedy of errors that's of course buoyed by glib commentary on gender norms. Dustin Hoffman brings his A-game as the actor at the centre of the narrative, who plays a perfectionist actor (what a stretch) who goes to quite the extreme in order to get himself work. Though his character does have his fair share of flaws that don't make him entirely sympathetic, the fact that he goes through a lot of amusing troubles because of his choices more than makes up for it. Hoffman is backed up by a variety of characters who all have great interplay with him regardless of whether or not they know about his zany scheme. Sydney Pollack himself plays Hoffman's frequently-exasperated agent who gets some great scenes, as does Bill Murray deadpanning his way through the role of Hoffman's pretentious roommate. Jessica Lange manages to win an Oscar as Hoffman's sweet-natured co-star within the tawdry soap opera he ends up working on and his eventual love interest, while various lecherous male characters make for great butts to jokes.

Part of what makes Tootsie work so well is the heart that's underneath it. Hoffman's desperation isn't intended to be malicious and he tries to correct any mistakes he makes as soon as possible and ultimately becomes a better person for it. The jokes aren't often as off-colour as you'd expect, either. Of course, the film's not without its problems - the biggest one being the music, which is so downright awful it almost kills the movie. It's quite possibly the most obnoxiously peppy keyboard-driven music I've ever heard and there's even an original song or two to play over the film's various montages that just add some irritating vocals as well. Still, in the grand scheme of things it's a relatively minor fault with a comedy that, while far from perfect, still has enough good scenes to fill out its running time.