Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Three Monkeys (2008)

Üç Maymun (original title)
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Writers: Ebru Ceylan & Ercan Kesal (screenplay)
Cast: Yavuz Bingöl, Hatice Aslan, Ahmet Rifat Sungar
Genre: Drama
Language: Turkish


"A family suffers from a major communication breakdown during their struggle to get through their hardships."


I enjoyed it! It's my kind of film...I loved the slow cinema, take your time, nothing forced, & nothing phony feeling of the movie. It felt very real to me, like I was watching the lives of three working class people in Turkey as they deal with the problems life gave them.

I was instantly interested in these people and I stayed focus through out the film, which is always a good sign. It felt like a slice of life from a part of the world I know nothing about, which interested me. I was glad the film kept the events down to earth too. I think the film was more effective by having the killing and sex take place off screen, instead of putting it right into our faces. I like a minimalist approach, as I believe less is more. Besides the film is about the way the people react to these events, and not so much about the events themselves.

I know there were a couple of technical issues with the film. But I won't hold that against the film maker as I'm sure he was working on a tight budget. Which might explain why there was dialogue in the car scene with the wife and the boss, and yet they weren't shown talking. They must have either decided later that the scene needed more explaining so added in more dialogue, or perhaps footage that they shot didn't turn out so it couldn't be used.





They Shoot Horses Don't They (1969)

Director: Sydney Pollack
Writers: Horace McCoy (novel), James Poe (screenplay)
Cast: Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York
Genre: Drama


"The lives of a disparate group of contestants intertwine in an inhumanely grueling dance marathon."

Sorry to say I didn't care for the movie. I should have liked this as it's a period piece, which I enjoy, and the story premise is right up my alley too. But the movie just didn't work for me.

It felt like there was a missing 20 minute opening scene that would have set up the motives of the dance contestants. I kept waiting to find out what everyone's backstory was, but it never came. The movie left me emotionally distant. I felt like one of the spectators watching the dance contest...I could see the couples dance, but that's about all I knew of their lives.



I thought Gig Young was the stand out performance here. Red Buttons too, was a good character. But I'm starting to think Jane Fonda might not be all that great of an actress. She always seems to have this one note acting, she's indignant and pissed off in most of her movie roles. Come to think of it, that's the way she came across in real life too. And Michel Sarazin...he seemed like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck.

With an opening scene that established some character back story and motivation, I think this could have been great...Still, I'm glad it was nominated as it's something I would have chosen to watch on my own.


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Poison for the Fairies (1984)
Veneno para las hadas (original title)
Director: Carlos Enrique Taboada
Writers: Carlos Enrique Taboada (story), Carlos Enrique Taboada (screenplay)
Cast: Ana Patricia Rojo, Elsa María Gutiérrez, Leonor Llausás
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Language: Spanish


Poison for the Fairies
a psychological suspense film that worked for me. I liked it. It was simple and effective story telling, which made it seem a personal story. I liked that the story was told from the girl's viewpoint and that adults are almost never shown, unless it's their hands or legs. The only time we see an adult's face is in a frightening (to the girls) extreme close up of an adult, when one of the adults surprises them. Even the cinematography (the camera height and angle) is at their level, so that we get a personal tale from their POV, which then matches the style of the story line.

I thought both actresses did a good job and mostly they kept it low keyed which made the film seem realer and more plausible. I liked the story elements how the blonde girl Veronica, comes from a home where her parents both died when she was young, she's raised by the house keeper who's superstitious and the girl latches unto that make believe world of witches. Meanwhile the rich girl with dark hair, Flavia doesn't pray as her mom tells her she's not scared like other little girls so doesn't need to pray. Then as the story proceeds it builds on those differences, until the pay off at the end.

I loved the outdoor scenery and sets. The houses were really dressed nicely, with lots of detail. And the old ruins of the church and the lake setting, wow...I want to visit there!





3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Halsted Welles (screenplay), Michael Brandt (screenplay)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime


"A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who's awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher."

They don't make 'em like this anymore! This was rip roaring, good fun, with colorful & well done characters, and lots of great S.W. desert scenery shots. There's enough happening in the film to keep anyone interested. I found it exciting. This is one of my favorite Russell Crowe performances, I think he's perfectly cast here.

What makes his character so interesting is: he's multi dimensional. I think it was Elia Kazan who said every bad guy in a film should have some redeeming quality, and every good guy should have a flaw...Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is a heartless killer who takes any advantage he can and uses it for his own needs. And yet I found myself liking him despite the fact he's truly a bad guy!






Same goes for Dan Evans (Christian Bale) he's our good guy, but he's not wearing a 'white hat', and he does have some serious flaws, and that makes him three dimensional. I liked his scenes with his son, Logan Lerman, who was a good actor too. Those scenes showed us how Bale's character has this inner turmoil & doubt, and we experience that by his son's outright disdain for his father.

I also liked how the film balanced action while slowly revealing why Christian Bale's character felt like such a loser, and why he was so determined to get Russell Crowe to the 3:10 train at Yuma.

I love westerns, they're one part history and one part tall tale and that makes for a great way to escape and enjoy the wild old west.

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Annihilation (2018)

Director: Alex Garland
Writers: Alex Garland (screenplay), Jeff VanderMeer (novel)
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson
Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Horror

"A biologist signs up for a dangerous expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply."


Annihilation
, truly impressed me as a perfect example of how unimaginative and downright stupid Hollywood blockbuster movies have gotten lately.

It's pretty evident from the lackluster acting that the actors didn't have much faith in the script or maybe they just plain didn't care...There's one main rule to action-thriller-horror movie making, you need to have the characters reacting like the stuff on the green screen is real! That way they convince us to suspend our disbelief, so we can buy into what we're seeing. They didn't believe their roles, so either did I!


Two scenes from Annihilation that are very similar to Aliens (1986) & Alien (1979).

Annihilation
brings nothing new to the table. It's the same old rehashing of past sci fi ideas. Even worse is that so many camera shots/scenes were stolen from other movies, that I can't even name them all. Though I had to laugh at the scene in the above photo, I hope Ridley Scott got a credit for that one...Then there's the scene of three of the team specialist tied to chairs as a deranged team member holds them hostage...then in comes the Thing, I mean the bear, ha! That was very reminiscent of one of The Things most powerful scenes. How embarrassing for the director of Ex Machina to turn out this popcorn flick.


Right before being sent into the shimmer zone where they most likely will die, the team has beers and laughs, only in a Hollywood film would such an inane scene be included.

While I liked the concept of the shimmer zone, I was disappointed the film didn't take it more seriously. I think if another film maker had done a script rewrite and directed the actors to really act like their lives were in intimate danger, then the film could have been pretty great.

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The Leisure Seeker (2017)

Director: Paolo Virzě
Writers: Michael Zadoorian (novel), Stephen Amidon (screenplay)
Cast: Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland, Christian McKay
Genre: Comedy, Drama

An elderly couple with health problems (Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland) runaway from their adult kids and hit the open road for one last time in their old Winnebago RV that they call, 'The Leisure Seeker.' CR

The Leisure Seeker is a lameo flick with some of the dullest writing I've ever seen.

I knew this was a tired, insipid bore in the first 5 minutes. I wish I would have shut it off then but I made it to 30 minutes...and it was still farcical and it's attempts at humor failed at every fork in the road. It reminded me of some of the lazy writing they did for TV in the 1980s. There was almost no real insight into this aging couple, they were more caricatures then anything resembling real people.

So I watched the whole damn 2 hours. Did it get better? Nope! It ended up having the same half a dozen whimsical scenes repeated adnauseum, ugh.



If you want a serious and candid film about an elderly couple watch Amour (2012). If you want a fun road trip film that's reflective too, watch Harry and Tonto (1974). And if you want to see pee and fart jokes (which this film has) watch any old Adam Sandler film!

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Downsizing (2017)

Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Cast: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Social Satire


In the future a process is developed in which people can be shrunk down to only 5 inches tall. This help saves the environment as tiny people eat a whole lot less! The 'downsizing' also has an economic advantage as tiny people can sell of their assets and having the buying power to live in luxury and wealth in new tiny town settlements. But what is the down side to downsizing? CR

I though this was pretty great and fun...Have you ever thought about what it would be like if you were only a few inches tall? And if you think you know what this movie is going to be about, think again...



The screen shots and the movie poster doesn't do the film justices. Sure its fun but it has a lot more going on than meets the eye. We get Matt Damon and his wife Kristen Wiig who decide to downsize themselves and retire to what they think is an upscale community built just for tiny people.



Only what happens when you have yourself shrunken to only 5 inches and your wife get's cold feet? Did I mention the shrinking process is irreversible. Once inside the community, note the net which keeps out birds that would love to eat the tiny people, the newly shrunkens find a world of decadence, combined with a world of hidden abuse. Sound interesting, it is!

Just when the film seems like an interesting little comic sci-fi piece, it goes and gets deeper. It did that several times, each time changing gears, and by the end I was totally unprepared for what would happen. Uhmm...that's probably too big of a build up It's a cool film, it kind of made me think and a whole lot of films don't do that these days.

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3 Women (1977)
Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Robert Altman
Cast: Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Janice Rule
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller


"Two roommates/physical therapists, one a vain woman and the other a mysterious teenager, share a bizarre relationship."

I haven't really liked any of the Robert Altman films I've seen, however I did love the first half of this film. It was simplistic beauty, a seemingly benign story of two women who meet at a therapeutic Hot Springs medical facility for the elderly and share an apartment. Altman takes this simple idea and makes it seem fascinating. I was riveted to the everyday happenings of these two women. Altman knows how to capture the little moments of life that so many other directors neglect. The first half of the film felt like observational cinema, and was truly a thing of beauty.



Shelley Duvall is in her prime her, both in years and more importantly in her acting ability. She abides her character with all these little nuances and idiosyncrasies that makes for one of the most intriguing characters I've seen portrayed on the screen.

Sissy Spacek is real good too, very naturalistic and grounded. She paired well with Shelley Duvall's more colorful persona. I'd give the first half of the movie a





Loved the care that went into dressing the apartment set to reflect the idiosyncrasy of Shelly Duvall's character. One can tell a lot of care went into the making of this film.

As we get towards the end of the film it goes all surrealistic. Robert Altman is quoted as saying he started shooting without an ending, and improvised as they went, and it seems improved in a hap hazard way. He did that a lot in his films, and IMO that lack of focus hurts the film. We didn't need a twisty Twilight Zone ending, and not all films need to end big. In fact less is often more and a quieter ending would have allowed the moments of the film to outshine Altman's improvisations.


Overall rating:
+



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Iron Sky (2012)


Director: Timo Vuorensola
Writers: Jarmo Puskala & Johanna Sinisalo (concept & story), Michael Kalesniko & Timo Vuorensola (screenplay)
Cast: Julia Dietze, Christopher Kirby, Götz Otto
Genre: Action, Satire Comedy, Sci-Fi

"The Nazis set up a secret base on the dark side of the moon in 1945 where they hide out and plan to return to power in 2018."

Oh yeah...Crazy ass Nazis have been hiding out on the dark side of the moon and decide to launch an attack on Earth in 2018, which is right now!....So where the hell are they anyway? Ha!



This is obviously a just-for-fun flick...it does have some crazy interesting characters and some impressive sets that look like Nazis could have secretly built. I liked the first part of the film about the Nazi's on the dark side of a man. The U.S. has sent a black astronaut to the moon as sort of a publicity stunt, and he's not too happy to be there, he's even less happy when the Nazi's capture him and give him the Albinum drug that makes his skin whiter. It's a weird movie idea!

On the moon we're introduced to an evil Nazi played by Christopher Kirby and to an idealistic Nazi woman who's been told the Nazi's are the good guys and she only wants to help humanity. She's a teacher, played by Julie Dietze.



When the Fourth Reich decides to take over Earth they join forces with a slimy U.S. President who's a right winger Sarah Palin type. Thanks to her even eviler PR woman the Pres cuts a deal with the Nazi's to start a war so that the Pres can get reelected! I liked the political satire bit, too bad there wasn't more of it. But hey nobody said it was a 5 star movie.



Good cast, crazy ideas played out for fun, with some satire too, not that bad!

+





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Please Stand By (2017)

Director: Ben Lewin
Writers: Michael Golamco (screenplay), Michael Golamco (play)
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Alice Eve, Toni Collette
Genre: Comedy, Drama


"A young autistic woman runs away from her caregiver in an attempt to submit her manuscript to a "Star Trek" writing competition."

I really enjoyed this, and you don't have to be a Star Trek fan to get it either. Though it's a must see for fans of the original ST show.

Dakota Fanning is Wendy an autistic young woman who lives in a care center. She hears on TV that Paramount Studios is having a Star Trek scrip writing contest and so she writes her script. Then she only has a couple of days left to get it to the studio...and there's a holiday, so the mail won't work. She's been told not to leave the city block that she lives on, but she hops on a bus from San Francisco to L.A. Which triggers a search for her, by big sister and her care provider played by Toni Collette.



As a Star Trek fan I dug the occasional references that she would make, but this is not about Star Trek...It's about an autistic woman trying to find her way in the busy, noisy world. And that can be scary to anyone.

The road trip part was most of the movie and I enjoyed her adventures on the road and the way she dealt with problems of no money and no place to stay.

++
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Wonder (2017)

Director: Stephen Chbosky
Writers: Stephen Chbosky & Steve Conrad (screenplay)
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic
Genre: Drama, Family


"Based on the New York Times bestseller, this movie tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters the fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time."

This was even better than I had thought it would be. And you sure can't judge this movie by that poster. I mean that poster looks like you're about to watch some happy-dappy fluffy film...full of cliches and aimed at school age kids. Oh sure it's PG rated, but it deals with the impact of having a special needs kid in the family and I liked that. If you want this R rated, just poke yourself in the thigh with a fork and swear a lot Cause other than the missing F bombs and hairy naked butts, this is a film any adult should be able to enjoy.



Like I said, it's not a happy go lucky film, nor is it sad. It seemed mostly real to me. I liked how after the movie got going it would do a full segment on the 'background people'. Background people are the characters in movies who are just there to be the older sister or best friend, etc. But here the film actually tells us the back story of some of these people and we learn how there lives are impacted by Augie.

+
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I won't dance. Don't ask me...
They Shoot Horses Don't They - before I watched the movie, I read a book. Maybe thanks to it I could more involved in story of characters. The movie left me with a lot of sorrow in my mind. It definitely make hugh impression on me.


3:10 to Yuma - I don't like westerns, but I enjoyed this one. Weird!



I won't dance. Don't ask me...
Wonder - the same as you, I liked in this movie mostly because of backgroung characters stories. It was shown, that people have their own probems, ideas, feelings, which make hugh impact on their behaviour, but we judge their acts form the outside, what is one-sided point of view.



Wonder - the same as you, I liked in this movie mostly because of backgroung characters stories. It was shown, that people have their own probems, ideas, feelings, which make hugh impact on their behaviour, but we judge their acts form the outside, what is one-sided point of view.
I like what you said there, I agree. I was very surprised I liked Wonder as much as I did and it's like you said, someone rich background stories helped to make the family seem real and not just like a movie family.



I already hate Wonder and I haven't even seen it. Been curious about Iron Sky for awhile.

Glad to see you liked 3 Women. I think it's one of Altman's better movies. Unlike you, though, I really dug the movie's enigmatic qualities. It felt like Altman doing his own version of Persona. I look forward to a second viewing because I think the experience will be even more rewarding. A shame about Annihilation. I know you caught some flak in the RTLMYS thread for your take on it. I don't love the movie and I don't think it's as smart as it thinks it is, but it's definitely more intelligent and imaginative than the overwhelming majority of Hollywood blockbusters you criticize it for being. And I personally thought the acting was uniformly strong, especially from Portman.

I hated Downsizing. Such a waste of talent and potential. The movie started off like a smart, sociopolitical, adult-version of those Honey, I Shrunk the Kids films, but soon it seemed to abandon its own premise. It was easy to forget that everyone on screen was only a few inches tall and their size was mostly irrelevant to the plot. I needed more scenes of them interacting with the normal-sized environment. Instead it felt like the whole "downsizing" thing was just a hook to capture interest, then deliver a bait-and-switch on audiences with the heavy-handed "save the environment!" message. I thought Hong Chau gave a very good performance despite her character basically being a caricature. Overall, though, the movie was a boring, bloated mess.

Curious to hear what your criticisms are for 3:10 to Yuma since your review sounds far more positive than just a three-popcorn rating. I love the movie myself and I credit it for establishing my interest in westerns.
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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
RE: Wonder


My biggest fear in life is if something happened to my son; disfigurement, cancer, kidnapping, death, etc. It literally plagues my mind daily. It's not really healthy. I'm not sure how to get those thoughts out of my head and when I see movies like this it brings it all back up again. Hell, even the Halle Berry film Kidnap had me racing through my mind as to what I would do. Pre-parenting, that film would have been a by the numbers thriller that I didn't care for. Now, at the very least, it had some reaction from me.

If I saw Wonder, I would probably cry. I never cried at movies before (except Dear Zachary) and my wife would call me a robot. Now I find myself tearing up at cheesy sentimental things that involves families.

Parenting is literally the best & worst thing to happen to me in my life.
__________________
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews



RE: Wonder


My biggest fear in life is if something happened to my son; disfigurement, cancer, kidnapping, death, etc. It literally plagues my mind daily. It's not really healthy. I'm not sure how to get those thoughts out of my head and when I see movies like this it brings it all back up again. Hell, even the Halle Berry film Kidnap had me racing through my mind as to what I would do. Pre-parenting, that film would have been a by the numbers thriller that I didn't care for. Now, at the very least, it had some reaction from me.

If I saw Wonder, I would probably cry. I never cried at movies before (except Dear Zachary) and my wife would call me a robot. Now I find myself tearing up at cheesy sentimental things that involves families.

Parenting is literally the best & worst thing to happen to me in my life.
Suspect, I can tell from what you wrote that you love your son a whole lot and you're a super caring & concerned dad. Good for you!...I don't have any kids but if I did I'd be worried to let them out of my sight, and yet parents do all the time and the kids grow up just fine...There's certain subject matters I can't watch without having a hard time viewing, like hospital settings, so I avoid those. I can image a new parent watching a thriller about a child being kidnapped would be very stressful. Hell there's like a zillion movies out there, so watch what makes you happy, that's my motto.



*raises hand as yet another who didn't get the big flap about Annihilation*
And the thing is I love sci fi, and I like movies with female leads, so I thought I might really like it, but didn't of course.