Rate The Last Movie You Saw

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SF = Z

Enjoyed the new cast so looking forwards to see what the survivors get up to in the next film.

So far:

Scream
Scream 2
Scream(2022)
Scream 4
Scream 3



[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it





The Lost Weekend - 1945 Billy Wilder drama starring Ray Milland in an Oscar winning performance as alcoholic writer Don Birnam. It also won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Wilder's direction. Starts out with Birnam finishing up ten days of sobriety and leaving town with his brother for a visit to their childhood home. He instead arranges it so his fiance Helen (Jane Wyman) and brother Wick (Phillip Terry) attend a concert and then busies himself falling off the wagon.

It's a pretty straighforward narrative with the hook being the in-depth examination of one man's slide into dissoluteness. This sort of gut punch was unheard-of back then and audiences weren't sure how to react. The critics loved it of course.

Birnam is verbose at first, sharing his highbrow musings with anyone who will listen. His brother, girlfriend, bartenders, strangers. But he gradually loses his devil-may-care attitude and penchant for glibness. The movie did a good job dragging the audience along with Birnam as he starts circling the drain. There were parts that might be considered a little wobbly like the use of a theremin during particular sequences but the all around vibe works.

There was what some would call a conventional Hollywood coda and that's where they sort of lost me but it was 1945 after all. Or maybe it was another layer to be peeled back depending on how jaundiced you are. It's a classic and a multiple award winner and therefore requisite viewing.

80/100





Safety Last! - 1923 Harold Lloyd silent where he basically plays himself, a young man who leaves his hometown and his sweetheart Mildred (Mildred Davis) to make his fortune in the big city of Los Angeles. He finds a job at De Vore Department Store and writes her every day. But he embellishes, telling her of his numerous business deals and all the money he's making. His roommate and friend "Limpy" Bill is a construction worker and is comfortable working high above the streets. One day in typical silent movie fashion they run afoul of a cop who doggedly chases Bill. He is forced to scale the outside of a building to make his getaway.

In the meantime Mildred shows up unannounced expecting to find Harold in a position of authority instead of what he actually is, a lowly clerk. After some dexterous subterfuge where he convinces Mildred he's the general manager of the store he overhears the real GM say that he will give anyone one thousand dollars if they can think up a way to attract a huge crowd to the store. Harold immediately thinks of Bill climbing the outside of the building and tells his boss he can guarantee a large audience.

Of course it doesn't go according to plan which leads to the iconic images of Lloyd dangling precariously hundreds of feet up by his fingertips. The fact that this has recently been challenged and some say dis-proven might diminish some of the appeal but the comedic elements certainly hold up. I've only seen two other Lloyd films, Speedy and The Freshman but even without that astounding kamikaze cachet this one is right up alongside those.

80/100




The Seven-Ups - This was a rewatch of one of my all time favorite gritty police thrillers. It shares a lot of The French Connection's pedigree while not quite reaching it's heights. This includes the cast with Roy Scheider playing Buddy Manucci, the head of an NYPD secret unit specializing in taking down perps that will serve a minimum of seven years and up. Hence the title. There's also a number of additional French Connection alumnus like Tony Lo Bianco as Vito Lucia, one of Buddy's childhood friends and now his conduit and inside man to the neighborhood wiseguys. But Vito is also using Buddy to set up these same targets for extortion.

This was the only movie directed by Philip D'Antoni whose main claim to fame was as a producer on TFC and Bullitt. And like those two this features an exhilarating car chase. The bad guys are played by veteran character actor Richard Lynch and veteran stunt driver/actor Bill Hickman, who also staged and drove during the chases on this, TFC and Bullitt. This might well be my favorite of the three. This is a must see for any and all aficionados of not only vehicular stuntwork but stark police dramas.

85/100





Everything Everywhere All At Once, 2022

Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) runs a failing laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). She has a difficult relationship with her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Joy is gay, which further strains Evelyn's biases when her father, Gong Gong (James Hong) comes to visit from China. But Evelyn's problems take on a whole new scale and scope when she finds herself involved in interdimensional intrigue related to the different paths her life could have taken.

This was the first movie I've seen in the theater since I saw The Invisible Man back in early 2020, and it was the perfect reintroduction to the big screen.

Above all else, this is a film that is very funny and uses visual language to the very limits. The jokes and visual gags run the gamut from the "smart" to the very, very stupid, and the result is a delirious mess that somehow manages to surprise even past the two hour mark. Aside from the comedy, it is also absolutely splendid and lavish in its use of costume and color, another element that continues to ramp up as the film goes on.

Performance-wise, Michelle Yeoh absolutely owns every moment that she's on screen, displaying both a knack for physical comedy and action as well as handling the more emotional and intimate moments. She is more than well supported by Ke Huy Quan as her accommodating husband, and Stephanie Hsu as her alienated daughter. Jamie Lee Curtis also puts in a wonderfully funny performance as Deirdre, the tax auditor who is overseeing the family's tax troubles.

In terms of negatives, the movie does feel like it's about 15-20 minutes longer than it needed to be. There's a small degree of redundancy to some of the sequences. The themes regarding Evelyn attitudes about her own life and her relationship with Joy play into pretty familiar character/plot arcs. You'll probably know how the movie ends in the first 30 minutes or so. That said, for me this movie was very much about the journey and not the destination.

Highly recommended and a great film to see in the theater.




The trick is not minding


Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) runs a failing laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). She has a difficult relationship with her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Joy is gay, which further strains Evelyn's biases when her father, Gong Gong (James Hong) comes to visit from China. But Evelyn's problems take on a whole new scale and scope when she finds herself involved in interdimensional intrigue related to the different paths her life could have taken.

This was the first movie I've seen in the theater since I saw The Invisible Man back in early 2020, and it was the perfect reintroduction to the big screen.

Above all else, this is a film that is very funny and uses visual language to the very limits. The jokes and visual gags run the gamut from the "smart" to the very, very stupid, and the result is a delirious mess that somehow manages to surprise even past the two hour mark. Aside from the comedy, it is also absolutely splendid and lavish in its use of costume and color, another element that continues to ramp up as the film goes on.

Performance-wise, Michelle Yeoh absolutely owns every moment that she's on screen, displaying both a knack for physical comedy and action as well as handling the more emotional and intimate moments. She is more than well supported by Ke Huy Quan as her accommodating husband, and Stephanie Hsu as her alienated daughter. Jamie Lee Curtis also puts in a wonderfully funny performance as Deirdre, the tax auditor who is overseeing the family's tax troubles.

In terms of negatives, the movie does feel like it's about 15-20 minutes longer than it needed to be. There's a small degree of redundancy to some of the sequences. The themes regarding Evelyn attitudes about her own life and her relationship with Joy play into pretty familiar character/plot arcs. You'll probably know how the movie ends in the first 30 minutes or so. That said, for me this movie was very much about the journey and not the destination.

Highly recommended and a great film to see in the theater.

Thai really is an enjoyable film, overall. I shared the same issues with you, but seriously. I hadnít laughed so hard as I did during the two rocks on a cliff scene. No dialogue. Just text. Yet it was the funniest thing Iíd seen since Werewolves Within last year.





Piercing, 2018

Reed (Christopher Abbott) has a lovely wife (Laia Costa) and a new baby daughter. So naturally when he decides that he must kill a woman, he arranges to do so at a hotel. Mapping out his murder, Reed ends up hiring Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), a prostitute who is willing to engage in S&M. But Jackie has some issues of her own, and things do NOT go smoothly for either of them.

Christopher Abbot and Mia Wasikowska are both delightful weirdos, and I tend to really enjoy their performances, so watching them in a dark comedy/thriller was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, despite them both bringing plenty to the table, this ends up being underwhelming.

There's an entire subgenre of movies about men who try to victimize women, only to discover that the supposed victim is much more messed up than her attacker/captor. At this point, if an even slightly quirky woman shows up, you just know she's going to give the dude a run for his money. There are some specifics in this film that do manage to be a little surprising, but they are too little too late.

Abbott and Wasikowska do have an interesting chemistry with each other. It's a collision of two different kinds of weird, and they are both playing as characters who have managed to mix sexual desire with something more destructive. At various points they do manage to make you question whether what's running through their mind is sexy shenanigans or mutilation. And yet the writing itself is so thin that no number of penetrating gazes or carefully times gasps can give the needed depth of character.

The ending is something I'm not sure I want to praise or condemn. It certainly made me genuinely go, "Wait, that's it? It's over?!" as I incredulously watched the closing credits appear.

I watched this one because I am a fan of both lead actors. If that's the same for you, maybe check it out. It is only about 80 minutes long. But otherwise I can't really recommend it.






Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 1963

Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni star in three different stories about three very different couples: a poor couple trying to stay out of legal trouble, a wealthy woman and a man she is considering making her lover, and a high-class sex worker who gets her favorite client to help with a young priest next door who is having a crisis.

This is one of those easy-breezy movies that largely coasts on the charisma of its leads and a fun integration of its setting into its story.

The first story was a mixed bag for me--the kind of thing where an element of the narrative just doesn't sit right. Loren plays a woman, Adelina, who has a warrant out for her arrest after failing to pay a fine. Taking advantage of an Italian law that a woman cannot be imprisoned if she is pregnant or 6 months out of giving birth. Adelina takes advantage of this law by getting pregnant again and again. And again. And again. Things turn serious when her exhausted husband cannot seem to get her pregnant for an eighth time and she must consider infidelity in order to stay free.

I mean . . . sigh. Sometimes you feel like a killjoy criticizing what is meant to be an absurd premise in a bit of fluff, but there's something about people having multiple children just to take advantage of a technicality that feels wrong and off-putting. The family is poor to begin with, as only Adelina works, and I just couldn't ever have fun with the idea literally bringing lives into a vulnerable living situation just to use a legal loophole. There are some fun touches in terms of the way that the community supports the couple (including a great opening sequence where they help the couple hide their furniture so it will not be repossessed).

The second story is the shortest and is pretty funny. Loren this time plays a rich woman who cares more about her looks and her car than other people. Mastroianni is very funny as her lover who comes to realize in the course of their drive just how shallow and horrible she is. It all begins with a gag that every time she comes to a stoplight she rear-ends the car in front of her. But it then escalates to the point where she is unconcerned about avoiding hitting a child.

The third story is good, as Loren's sex worker tries to steer the infatuated young man back to his life in the seminary. If you google the title of this film, you will see what I'm sure many people consider the highlight of this story, namely a striptease Loren's character does to thank her client for helping get the young priest back on track. Unfortunately for that client, she swore to be celibate for a week if she succeeded, so . . .

Overall a fun little film. I probably enjoyed the second story the best.




I forgot the opening line.

By CineMaterial, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59422310

Roma - (2018)

Roma was a pleasant movie to watch - a very 'reality-infused' look at a Mexican family and housekeeper that are both abandoned by the men in their lives. Housekeeper Cleo looks after the family and especially their children, and has a great relationship with matriarch SofŪa, which helps when she falls pregnant - but tensions do build when SofŪa's husband leaves, and Cleo's boyfriend bolts when he learns of the pregnancy. In the world around them tensions are building, leading up to The Corpus Christi Massacre which Cleo finds herself in the middle of at very much the wrong time. Most of this film however is a slow drinking in of the atmosphere of suburban Mexico in the early 1970s, carefully recreated by Alfonso Cuarůn. I now understand what's going on in the film's poster - one of a few critical moments that tie this film together emotionally. I have to say, I enjoyed it.

8/10

Foreign Language Countdown films seen : 82/100
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Fantastic Beasts, The Secrets of Dumbledore - I admit to not being any kind of fan of the whole Potter thing, seen several of them and appreciated the FX and animation, but it's all too fan oriented for my taste. Nevertheless, not much else was of interest tonight, so saw this. First the good part - The digital FX, look and sound are terrific and made the movie at least a treat for the eyes.

Now, the rest. Taking it down to bare essentials, it's good wizards trying to save the "muggles" from the bad wizards. The bad wizards also have a corp of guys who look like the archetypal Gestapo, faceless guys with black trench coats, hats and bad attitudes who have bad intentions for the Muggles. The odd character in the story, the Muggle, is Jacob Kowalski, a thinly veiled Jewish character, who lives in a thinly veiled version of Williamsburg in New York, with the Williamsburg Bridge in the background in several quick shots. Of course the evil Nazi wizards are beat back until the next movie, Jacob hooks up with his new girlfriend, Queenie Goldstein, and the muggle world goes on for a while longer.

Being a rank amateur in the Potter universe, I didn't know that any of the stories had that antisemitism angle coded into the plot. In any event, at 2 1/2 hours, with at least 1 hour of running and shooting, it also seemed like a middling western, where half of the movie IS running and shooting, only with wizard sticks instead of Colts and Winchesters and Jewish Brooklynites instead of the farmers and settlers that are often caught in the middle of old westerns.

Oh well, the latest in the franchise. I'd give it a 6 on a 10 point scale.





Topkapi - 1964 comedic heist thriller directed by Jules Dassin. I felt sure this had European roots but then read that Dassin had been born here in the States. But once I dug deeper I found that he was an emigre and had moved to France and then Greece after being blacklisted during the McCarthy era. As it is you can discern the European sensibilities from the opening moments with star Melina Mercouri's Elizabeth Lipp explaining her obsession with emeralds. Lipp tracks down her former lover and criminal mastermind Walter Harper (Maximillian Schell) to help her steal a jewel encrusted dagger currently on display at Turkey's Topkapi Palace. He in turn recruits the rest of the crew including mechanical wizard Cedric Page (Robert Morley), "Human Fly" Giulio (Gilles Sťgal) and the required muscle, Hans (Jess Hahn).

The last crucial piece of the puzzle is the fall guy, someone who will take the heat while drawing attention away from their larcenous undertaking. The "schmo" Walter picks is Arthur Simon Simpson (Peter Ustinov), a bush-league scam artist eking out a living in Greece selling tourists fake antiquities. Walter and Elizabeth hire him to drive their car into Turkey. Things aren't all that they seem and because of Arthur's passport problems he is soon found out. Fearing the worst, the Turkish Security Service quickly rope him into spying on the crew.

There's all manner of intrigue and double dealing but it's all enlivened with a healthy dose of humor thanks to Ustinov and Akim Tamiroff as the gangs perpetually soused cook Gerven. When the heist finally rolls around it's pretty darn good. You'll be left holding your breath and on the edge of your seat. At least I was. Ustinov won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance and the rest of the cast go through their paces admirably.

80/100



Victim of The Night
I'd still recommend it to any horror fan, but is smacks of something that could have been much better given the premise and spooky setting.
I hear ya, I was getting a Strangler From The Swamp vibe but I think that might be overplaying it.



Victim of The Night


Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh)...

Highly recommended and a great film to see in the theater.

My anticipation for this film just keeps growing and growing.



I hear ya, I was getting a Strangler From The Swamp vibe but I think that might be overplaying it.
I would say they are about on par with each other.

My anticipation for this film just keeps growing and growing.
Believe the hype! Aside from that extra 15-20 minutes that could have been pruned, it is a total delight. On the list of things I'd like to talk about but do not want to spoil there are like 8-10 moments that thrilled me or made me laugh out loud.





Grimm, 2003

Adult siblings Maria (Halina Reijn) and Jacob (Jacob Derwig) are taken out into the woods and abandoned there by their father. As Jacob and Maria try to make their way to their uncle's home in Spain, they frequently find themselves in dangerous situations.

I have had this movie on my watchlist for at least a decade, and possibly longer. I've never been able to find it streaming or for rent, but it finally popped up on Amazon prime.

Fairy tales or folk tales adapted to either a historical or contemporary setting is something I really enjoy. Things like Freeway get a pretty uncritical reading from me, because I tend to just enjoy the premise. That said, I still found this film to be kind of lacking and unsatisfying.

There are some really fun aspects to the way that the Hansel and Gretel story is adapted. For starters, making the siblings adults means that the film can go to slightly darker places with its characters and scenarios. Many folk/fairy tale adaptations turn monsters into rapists or pedophiles or serial killers. It's not a bad choice, just kind of an obvious one. Grimm takes some of those expected beats and just does them differently. Instead of a witch with a house made of candy, we get a wealthy man who seduces Maria. What's the equivalent of the oven? I appreciated that element of the adaptation as well.

There is also, threaded throughout the film, a streak of physical that I enjoyed.

What hampers the film for the entire run, though, is a lack of character development. Despite being adults, there is a childish element to both characters that feels a bit off. It isn't hard to want the characters to survive, or to escape the various wicked characters who pop up through the movie. But neither Jacob nor Maria seems all that well defined. They don't feel like people who have a past or a future.

If you like the contemporary fairy tale subgenre, this one might be worth checking out. If not, probably one to skip.




28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Cleaner




I wouldn't be surprised if not many of you have heard of this 2007 crime thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson as a former detective turned 'cleaner'. This Renny Harlin directed flick came and went in a blink of an eye. I can see why though, it doesn't have anything that really stands out as extraordinary and despite a rather interesting and engaging set-up, the second half of the film meanders around until the credits hit. Some films simply cannot keep the steam running until the end and the Cleaner is a perfect example.

Jackson plays Tom Cutler, a former detective turned cleaner. A cleaner is someone who cleans up after the crime scene. Usually, the cops will take the body away, but leave you with the mess. This is where Cutler comes in. His most recent job has him cleaning up a homicide in a fancy house. The owner informs him the key is under the potted plant. Cutler goes in doe his job and leaves. He remembers that he forgot to leave the key and heads back the next day only to find the homeowner, Ann Norcut (Eva Mendes) having no idea who he is or what he does. Now realizing he just cleaned up a murder before it's been called in, Cutler turns to his former partner Lorenzo (Ed Harris) for help.

Have you ever watched a movie or a tv show and a certain actor pops up and you instantly know that they are the bad guy? Yeah, it's unfortunate but it happens when those actors appear and it ultimately hurts the so-called reveals. Cleaner suffers from this as soon as this individual shows up and it's clear. The cast does well enough to fill their standard roles. Jackson plays Cutler with OCD tendencies, constantly cleaning his hands. Mendes almost has a femme fatale vibe to her. Luis Guzman plays a detective on the case and ultimately on Jackson's trail. It's nice to see him in a serious role, but the eluding police to solve the case yourself cliche is pretty sparse here. At less than 1hr 30 min, I didn't hate myself for watching it. Which is saying something these days.
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Suspect's Reviews



Pulled a Visconti double feature last night:

Ossessione (1943) -


Normally, in a film like this, 90% of it would've been a cat and mouse between the police and the main characters, but in this film, the police procedural elements take up about 10% of the film, while the remaining 90% is focused on the consequences which Gino's actions have on him. In the first half, Gino and Giovanna are ready to sacrifice everything for each other, but once they reach the point of no return, they soon discover that their actions greatly limit their freedom and, as a result, fall out of love throughout the film. With this, an interesting contrast emerges between Gino and Lo Spagnolo, a street performer Gino meets. Spagnolo isn't crippled by his obsession and has more freedom in terms of the places he can travel to, while Gino's obsession restricts his freedom to a tavern which is seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Overall, the film's focus on Gino and Giovanna made for an appealing change to the 'police slowly closing in on the main characters' premise which I've seen represented in many other noirs and that the various turns of the plot all felt organic made me welcome this change even more. With that being said though, the film definitely felt much longer than it needed to be and it might've benefitted with a shorter runtime. Due to that, I'll keep the film at an 8/10, but it's still really good.

Death in Venice (1971) -


This film's plot can be interpreted two ways. The first interpretation is that Gustav yearned for Tadzio as he represented a vision of beauty and youth that, as an artist himself, he desperately wanted to obtain. Evidence for this interpretation includes how Gustav dealt with the effects of aging throughout the film, that he was depicted as being past his prime in terms of the quality of his music, and that a cholera epidemic was in the backdrop of the film. The second interpretation is that Gusav was a pedophile who lusted after Tadzio and that you're repeatedly asked to feel sympathy for him throughout the film. If you watch the film, it seems pretty clear that the symbolic interpretation is what the film is going for, given that so much of the film is focused on Gustav's slow demise. Plus, since much of the music in the film comes from Gustav Mahler, a composer whose works are often seen as being the bridge between Austro-German tradition and 20th century modernism, the Gustav in this film can be read as a stand-in for Mahler. Knowing all this, the pedophilic interpretation of the film may seem superficial, but if you read into the film and learn that Visconti had Andrťsen, much to his discomfort, partially disrobe so he and his assistants could evaluate his body during auditions and how Visconti took Andrťsen, who was 16 at the time, to a gay nightclub after filming had finished, this adds a creepy bit of subtext to the film which may complicate the first reading. Perhaps, Tadzio was objectivized and Gustav needed to conquer his beauty so his music could appeal to the younger audience, who's slowly moving towards modernism. On the plus side though, the movie's style adds a lot to the film. The soundtrack, cinematography, minimal dialogue, and pacing, while it may be too slow for some people, all work in harmony to create a truly moving experience, one which I didn't appreciate nearly enough when I first watched the film, albeit one with the aforementioned creepy bit of subtext hanging over it.
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