Movie Diary 2019 by pahaK

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The Untamed (2016) N

Unhappy marriage, homophobic husband and sexual frustration leads Ale to a cabin in the woods, to alien that fell from the sky and unbound sexual pleasures.


Films with heavy-handed social or political messages often come out as preachy but The Untamed dodges the worst pitfalls in its treatment of Mexican macho culture, homophobia and sexual liberation as a whole. It manages to incorporate the (rather obvious) metaphors into its narrative without feeling pedantic or ruining the cinematic experience by waving its placards too furiously.

Practically the whole film revolves around sex; there's the obligatory marital duties that seem to leave both parties unsatisfied, the repressed homosexuality, the thirst for sexual gratification and yearning to be free from both personal and social constraints. At the center of this sexual odyssey is the tentacled alien that gives ultimate pleasure but like everything else in the world it comes at a price.

The Untamed is character driven drama with some sci-fi and horror elements (there's very little horror in the story itself but there are lots of visual and aural elements that are there to create suspense and unease). While characters are well written (and acted) the plot has it's wonky moments and maybe few too many open questions. Still for the most parts its bleak and highly sexualized world remain interesting (and I can't deny the charm of tentacle porn).

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[Series Review]
The Little Drummer Girl (2018)

A Palestinian terrorist is killing Israelis around the world. As bombs are often delivered by young western girls the Israelis recruit young British actress to infiltrate the terrorist cell.


I haven't read le Carré's book (started it once but wasn't in the mood for artsy agent story) so no detailed comparisons but from the little exposure I have to it the series at least tries similar approach. It's not a typical agent story but focuses more on characters and their experiences in the cold and scary world of spies where moral lines constantly blur. Just like le Carré's text the series flows quite freely between moments and places building scenes from events far apart.

The best thing in The Little Drummer Girl is its visual style. It does the 70s look almost perfectly, from camera angles to colors to props it looks like a real vintage movie from that time. Personally I love that look and wish more projects would go for the retro feel. From purely technical point of view it's almost flawless.

I have few issues with the series though. Despite its focus on characters I'd still want little more details about the investigation. Now Kurtz's people are mostly statists and we see very little of how the operation works on their end. Some of the actor choices are questionable (especially Michael Shannon as Kurtz is cringeworthy). The narration style feels little pretentious and at times it doesn't seem to have purpose (like the Gadi's hand shake after the training camp is bombed).

With the way it looks I'm willing to forgive quite a bit of its other flaws so with only little hesitation I'll proclaim that The Little Drummer Girl is a good series.




Kill List (2011) N

Two friends and former army buddies, Jay and Gal, are working as hitmen. Last job was eight months ago and something went wrong. Marital and financial issues force Jay to accept Gal's offer for a new job. But is he ready and what's the job really about.


I liked how Kill List build its atmosphere changing gradually from a crime film to horror. The horror aesthetics are there from the start but in the beginning they feel out of place (eventually in a good way). It's dark and brutal film that just plunges its characters into a downward spiral towards the abyss. In other words it's my kind of film... well, partially anyways.

I've complained about ambiguity before so this shouldn't surprise anyone who's read my reviews before. Kill List has the worst type of ambiguity meaning that I get the impression that the filmmaker doesn't know what (or why) is happening and uses the ambiguity as a cop-out. It's a real shame because the build-up all the way up to (and including) the end is good but the film just cuts short like a cliffhanger in a serial.

Lead actors (including Shel) are good but some of the supports are not (like the priest). The more mundane scenes especially early in the film are somewhat ugly but on the other hand there's nice contrast between the more visual stuff towards the end. Soundtrack is great (it's not very unique though). It's been two days since I saw this and I'm still not sure about the rating.




Alien (1979) RR

A commercial space ship receives a transmission of an unknown origin. Ship's computer wakes up the crew due the company policy and they go to investigate the source of the signal.


Like most of the good horror films Alien is built upon good characters that feel like real people and make the viewer interested in their fate. Tensions within the crew and their anxiety about the unexpected situation are used to propel the events after the first contact before the actual monster is set loose. The famous dinner changes everything and it's no longer the crew reacting to each other but to an external threat.

During the monster hunt the ship looks completely different from the introductory tour; tight sewer-like tunnels, open spaces reaching upwards like Gothic cathedrals (with chains that would make Pinhead feel at home too), etc. Black and gray monsters stalking in the darkness contrasted with fire and bright flashing lights. It all feels so cliched today but Alien makes it work.

There are some flaws in the film too. Some of the creature shots are too obviously a man in a monster suit. I would have preferred less visibility for the 8th passenger to prevent that effect. The self-destruction system in a commercial ship seems totally absurd idea. I hated the weak and predictable jump scares with the cat.

Overall a strong scifi-horror that hasn't lost its charm in 40 years. And couple of random thoughts that came to mind while watching: Aliens copied much more than I remembered and I need to rewatch Prometheus and Alien: Covenant at some point.




The Bad News Bears (1976) N

An alcoholic ex-minor league baseball player is hired to coach a team of kids in local little league.


Found this film when I was googling movies where children use foul language (for one the forum games in here). It looked somewhat interesting in the clips I saw so I decided to watch a comedy (shocking, right). While it isn't as rude as I had hoped it still has plenty of things that wouldn't be possible today (regarding language, smoking, drinking and sexual references concerning pre-teens).

Storywise The Bad News Bears is standard sports movie where a loser coach turns loser kids into a proper team and learns to be a better person in the process. Most of the kids are just caricatures but there's too many characters in films like these to properly build them all. Matthau and O'Neal are both great (even though the latter can't match her previous performance in Paper Moon) and majority of the film's charm is because of them.

In my opinion the film dips quite badly in the end and the things that happen in the final match are stupid. I just don't see the positive message that's probably meant to be there. Up to that it's good fun and even little bit touching. Maybe I should watch comedies more often?




The Laplace's Demon (2017) N

A group of researchers developing models to predict seemingly random and complex events (like to how many shards does a glass break into) is invited by a mysterious and recluse professor to his remote house on a small island.


The Laplace's Demon is quite ambitious for a small budget B-movie. It circumvents its budgetary limitations by forgoing realistic settings and instead aims towards something slightly resembling old silent films. For the most part its visual style works and it's almost surprisingly beautiful.

Story isn't my favorite style of scifi; it genuinely feels like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone (fortunately it's a good episode though). As a result the story is somewhat predictable but I still like the concept (free will in the world of classical physics and the idea of clockwork universe). It's pretty solid script if you don't have to nitpick about the science.

Sadly there's one important aspect of the film that's really bad. Acting is terrible even for a B-film such as The Laplace's Demon. The woman playing Sophia is only decent actor and others range from bad to worse. The man who takes them to the island is probably the worst of the bunch. Acting isn't enough to ruin the film but it definitely keeps it from being good.




Some of the creature shots are too obviously a man in a monster suit. I would have preferred less visibility for the 8th passenger to prevent that effect.
I wonder whether that's a bit of an illusion given that the Alien's appearance is so familiar today? The only moment in the film that I can think of where the creature looked like a man in a suit — as opposed to a man-shaped alien — is where it's

WARNING: spoilers below
blown out of the hatch by the grappling hook

Especially during the final killings its full form is still only suggested with glimpses. Scott even resisted the temptation to use a shot of it scuttling along the ground like a spider, which I like a lot, but it's better without it.

I need to rewatch Prometheus and Alien: Covenant at some point.
It really irked me that they recycled the score from Alien for parts of Covenant. It was like "get your own theme music – that's for the Nostromo crew".



I wonder whether that's a bit of an illusion given that the Alien's appearance is so familiar today? The only moment in the film that I can think of where the creature looked like a man in a suit — as opposed to a man-shaped alien — is where it's

WARNING: spoilers below
blown out of the hatch by the grappling hook
I can name another scene straight away (just ignore the stupid text, couldn't find a proper gif). Won't be using spoilers for 40 years old film either



Especially during the final killings its full form is still only suggested with glimpses. Scott even resisted the temptation to use a shot of it scuttling along the ground like a spider, which I like a lot, but it's better without it.
Brett's death scene is probably my favorite part of the film. Also the partial views we get in the shuttle look great. It's just those full body (or full upper body) flashes that don't look good to me. There are similar issues in Aliens during some of the actions scenes.

EDIT: And @mark f beat me to point out that scene



I can name another scene straight away (just ignore the stupid text, couldn't find a proper gif).
I was also thinking of that bit. Having just looked at it again it's really quick but maybe the fact that there's no obvious contact with Dallas makes it look silly. It's like that brilliant Star Wars spoof where they had a sandperson and later the wampa say "Surprise!" as they were revealed.

To be honest the bit that really grinds my gears involves Ash:

WARNING: spoilers below
in the scene where they're reanimating Ash's head, the cut between the model head and Ian Holm is horribly obvious.



A system of cells interlinked
I grew up watching The Bad News Bears, so there is quite a bit of nostalgia there for me; I still pop the film in from time to time and reminisce. Definitely quite a bit of swearing and all around 70s style ball busting on the team, as well as some retrograde racism from Tanner Boyle. Alas, it was a different time back then.
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The Florida Project (2017) N

Six-year-old Moonee lives in a cheap motel in Florida with her mother. Money isn't easy to come by and mother doesn't always stay within legal boundaries. Daughter's games with her friends often turn to mischief too.


"Man, oh, man, that's gross."

There's no real story in The Florida Project as it just follows Moonee's summer. She plays with her friends, does all sorts of mischief and generally demonstrates how badly her mother has raised her. She seems like a smart kid but the circumstances aren't on her side. Ending is kinda sad as she doesn't understand that she's potentially given a chance at something better.

I have no idea if in Florida everything is really in pastel colors but it gives the film a funny look. Maybe it's just showing how for kids everything is little more bright and colorful and wonderful while behind the pastel walls things are really broken and dirty. At least I thought it was about that difference between children and adults.

Acting is superb. That little girl playing Moonee is so expressive and animated. Her mother is also great as a total ass white trash who blames everyone else for her problems and loses her temper every time someone doesn't do as she wants. Dafoe is great too but he usually is.

So The Florida Project is really well-made glimpse to these people's lives but outside several individual scenes I'm not too interested in them. There's no way I can call it a bad film and despite of some compatibility issues with this viewer I was never really bored. It's one of those films I consider just OK but can perfectly understand the love it's got.




Or you've just forgotten. I mean, you've liked my review of it at least It's one of my earliest reviews so the rating may be a bit too harsh.
I've heard your threads cause cancer. Maybe they cause amnesia as well?

Not yet seen The Florida Project. Stories revolving around white-trash characters typically appeal to me, so I'm confident that I'll like it to some degree. The director, Sean Baker, seems like a chill dude. He has an account on Letterboxd and regularly interacts with people who comment on his reviews.

Alien is a masterpiece. I've watched it countless times at this point, yet somehow the movie seems to get better with every viewing. I don't love The Conjuring, but it's a well-made horror film with strong performances. Found it more entertaining than creepy. The script basically throws at the screen everything you've ever seen in haunted house movies, but it makes for a fun ride. We felt similarly toward Kill List, especially regarding the ambiguity. The movie was nominated in a horror-themed HOF that I participated in. Here was my review in case you're interested. I've since bumped my rating back down to three stars and I've still yet to revisit the film, which I feel is essential to form a concrete opinion on this particularly enigmatic film.

Added Zeder, The Untamed (tentacle porn!), and The Laplace's Demon (mostly because of that gorgeous B&W screenshot you posted) to my watchlist. I've not seen the original Bad News Bears, only the remake with Billy Bob Thornton, which was so-so. I'm happy to see that you watched and liked a comedy, though!
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I've heard your threads cause cancer. Maybe they cause amnesia as well?
Didn't think of that. Maybe I should add a "This thread may be hazardous to your health" warning in the OP

Alien is a masterpiece. I've watched it countless times at this point, yet somehow the movie seems to get better with every viewing.
I've seen it like half a dozen times and while it's not The Best film for me it hasn't suffered from either the rewatches or its age. Aliens has always been my favorite of the series and back in my teen years I watched it like 20+ times (only movie I've seen more often is Robocop).

I don't love The Conjuring, but it's a well-made horror film with strong performances. Found it more entertaining than creepy. The script basically throws at the screen everything you've ever seen in haunted house movies, but it makes for a fun ride.
I don't really emphasize the scariness of horror films that much and you may have noticed that many of those I rate high aren't necessarily even trying to be that scary. But like you said, it takes all the essential elements of haunted house films and makes a damn entertaining movie out of that unoriginal mix of cliches.

We felt similarly toward Kill List, especially regarding the ambiguity. The movie was nominated in a horror-themed HOF that I participated in. Here was my review in case you're interested. I've since bumped my rating back down to three stars and I've still yet to revisit the film, which I feel is essential to form a concrete opinion on this particularly enigmatic film.
Read your review and our opinions on this one seem to be almost identical

Added Zeder, The Untamed (tentacle porn!), and The Laplace's Demon (mostly because of that gorgeous B&W screenshot you posted) to my watchlist. I've not seen the original Bad News Bears, only the remake with Billy Bob Thornton, which was so-so. I'm happy to see that you watched and liked a comedy, though!
Unless you absolutely hate gialli don't forget to add The House with Laughing Windows too.



El Topo (1970) N

If spaghetti western and Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom had a deformed son that was into mysticism and drugs it could be something like El Topo. A man with no name lost in Sadean world filled with Freaks pondering the mysteries of life, death and existence.


It's weird that I hadn't seen El Topo before because I've been familiar with the name for over 30 years now. It's also the first Jodorowsky film I end up watching. There's no way to watch a cult classic of this caliber without having some expectations and preconceptions (and in this case some prior knowledge even) but I tried to go with an open mind.

The way I see it El Topo is split into two somewhat separate parts. The beginning is like a brutal spaghetti western with some oddities here and there (like the naked little boy). It gradually becomes more and more focused on religion, philosophy and mysticism and finally after El Topo is dragged away by the incestuous misfits it turns into something resembling Pasolini's films.

I have no idea what Jodorowsky is trying to say with all his symbolisms (and after some googling it seems that I'm definitely not alone) and often the film just feels like a series of unconnected weird events. While some scenes are interesting and there's occasionally beautiful visuals I find the whole too scattered and purposefully confusing. Just like mystics and prophets there doesn't seem to be anything meaningful behind Jodorowsky's visions. As just a story it doesn't really work either.

Some good scenes, some (unintentional?) laughs and Sadean scoundrels keep El Topo barely above bad rating.




Alien 3 (1992) R

After the events of Aliens Ripley and the other survivors crash on a remote planet occupied only by the few employees and the inmates of a small prison. Only Ripley survives the crash (in the final draft of the script anyways)... and obviously the alien.


Last time I saw Alien 3 it was the theatrical cut but now I went with the Assembly Cut. Usually I prefer these longer director's (sort of) cuts but this one seems to be an exception. Some of the changes just don't make sense (like having the alien come from the ox when it's appearance and movement still fits theatrical cut's dog better) and it's clearly longer than it needs to be (still, I'd wish Fincher's original 3 hour rough cut would be available).

The prison is quite interesting setting for the film and it provides interesting set of characters. Unfortunately there's rather little character development even in this version that lasts almost two-and-half hours so lots of potential is left unused. Visually the prison continues with the style set by the earlier films (Gothic scifi if you like) but it's somehow more dull (most likely because of worse lightning). Alien itself is fine most of the time but during the corridor chase it looks really bad when it's on the ceiling.

Clearly worse than two first movies. Sadly the studio interfered so much with Fincher's (and writers') work but out of the existing versions I think the theatrical cut is the best. Rating is based on the Assembly Cut, maybe theatrical would be .5 higher.




28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Alien 3 (1992) R

After the events of Aliens Ripley and the other survivors crash on a remote planet occupied only by the few employees and the inmates of a small prison. Only Ripley survives the crash (in the final draft of the script anyways)... and obviously the alien.


Last time I saw Alien 3 it was the theatrical cut but now I went with the Assembly Cut. Usually I prefer these longer director's (sort of) cuts but this one seems to be an exception. Some of the changes just don't make sense (like having the alien come from the ox when it's appearance and movement still fits theatrical cut's dog better) and it's clearly longer than it needs to be (still, I'd wish Fincher's original 3 hour rough cut would be available).

The prison is quite interesting setting for the film and it provides interesting set of characters. Unfortunately there's rather little character development even in this version that lasts almost two-and-half hours so lots of potential is left unused. Visually the prison continues with the style set by the earlier films (Gothic scifi if you like) but it's somehow more dull (most likely because of worse lightning). Alien itself is fine most of the time but during the corridor chase it looks really bad when it's on the ceiling.

Clearly worse than two first movies. Sadly the studio interfered so much with Fincher's (and writers') work but out of the existing versions I think the theatrical cut is the best. Rating is based on the Assembly Cut, maybe theatrical would be .5 higher.

This was on last night and I caught some of it. A lot of potential with the film but watching the BTS stuff is really enlightening. You get to see how much of a sh*t-show the whole thing was.

I really liked the original idea of a wooden planet inhabited by Monks.
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Suspect's Reviews



This was on last night and I caught some of it. A lot of potential with the film but watching the BTS stuff is really enlightening. You get to see how much of a sh*t-show the whole thing was.

I really liked the original idea of a wooden planet inhabited by Monks.
What's BTS?

Anyways, wooden planet seemed like a cool idea but I wasn't even referring to stuff that far back. I skimmed through the IMDb trivia last night (no idea how reliable they are though) and I got the impression that there were so many interventions and forced changes.

I'd probably be happy with the original 3 hour rough cut that the studio didn't approve because of NC-17 level of violence. I'd probably be more happy with the older script drafts where Newt (and Hicks, I think) didn't die in the crash but studio hated it because the idea of Newt being among the pedophiles and rapists was too much (I got the impression that the original target for the attempted rape would have been Newt). It seemed like this kind of stuff went on forever and the final film isn't even close to what it was supposed to be.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
What's BTS?

Anyways, wooden planet seemed like a cool idea but I wasn't even referring to stuff that far back. I skimmed through the IMDb trivia last night (no idea how reliable they are though) and I got the impression that there were so many interventions and forced changes.

I'd probably be happy with the original 3 hour rough cut that the studio didn't approve because of NC-17 level of violence. I'd probably be more happy with the older script drafts where Newt (and Hicks, I think) didn't die in the crash but studio hated it because the idea of Newt being among the pedophiles and rapists was too much (I got the impression that the original target for the attempted rape would have been Newt). It seemed like this kind of stuff went on forever and the final film isn't even close to what it was supposed to be.
Sorry BTS = Behind the Scenes



Some of the changes just don't make sense (like having the alien come from the ox when it's appearance and movement still fits theatrical cut's dog better)
I haven't seen all the versions but it's obvious isn't it that, given the cat-and-mouse chase sequence, a dog-alien was the way to go .

Actually I've just had an exciting thought:

WARNING: spoilers below
It could have been like the Labyrinth of Knossus, with the ox-Alien resembling the Minotaur, and stalking its victims far more like the original Alien.

Alien itself is fine most of the time but during the corridor chase it looks really bad when it's on the ceiling.
I liked the redesign of the upper body a lot. Even more sexualized and quite terrifying. The CGI and puppet work isn't great unfortunately.