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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 Andrésen, much to his discomfort, partially disrobe so he and his assistants could evaluate his body during auditions and how Visconti took Andrésen, 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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The Bubble, Netflix 2022

No bueno.
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The Band Wagon, 1953

Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) is an aging dancer who is roped into a musical play by his friends Lily (Nanette Fabray) and Lester (Oscar Levant) that they believe will reinvigorate his career. But when dramatic actor and producer Jeffrey (Jack Buchanan) gets involved, the production turns into an overly serious, sprawling Faustian epic. Along for the ride is ballerina Gaby (Cyd Charisse), who at first clashes seriously with Jack.

It is hard to talk about liking or not liking this movie, because a big part of my reaction to it is "What did I just watch?". I mean, don't get me wrong, it is a very familiar comedy/musical trope to have the action take place on a troubled production. Astaire and Charisse are both very talented dancers, and the film makes the most of their abilities in a range of "staged" and "real" numbers. Fabray, Levant, and Buchanan all have great comic timing.

But also . . . this movie is kind of a nightmare-fuel parody of old-timey song and dance numbers. (A number where Astaire, Fabray, and Buchanan play triplet babies who fantasize about murdering each other is the kind of thing someone had to be in a real state of mind to come up with, much less speak out loud to other people to make it a reality).



I will grant the film that it is funny. (A sequence where we get little glimpses of Jeffrey dramatically acting out the entire play in order to get funding from rich art patrons is a endlessly rewarding running gag.) There's a classic fizzle and pop to the dialogue and the staging.

But . . . gosh. Some of it is weird in a way that isn't charming or just comes off as confusing. One of these elements is the romance between Jack and Gaby, a woman who is easily 20 years his junior and somehow feels younger than that. Their energies are just so different, it's like watching a man woo his daughter's best friend. As dance partners, there's a kind of coherence that makes sense. But once she's supposed to look at him and declare her love, meh.

I also had mixed feelings about the final number: a song-and-dance noir detective story that goes on for way too long. It is also meant to be a play that an audience is watching, and yet it employs a ton of in-your-face camera moves, like spinning frames that transition Jack from one location to the next. At times it really works (as when the detective goes to a sleazy dance joint whose mascot is a moving, sexily grinding skeleton), but it's just mostly very strange.

This is one of Ebert's Great Movies. I just read his review of it, and his focus is on the technical elements of the film, as well as the way that real insecurities and personal dramas of the cast and crew seeped into the film. I know what he's describing, but somehow it didn't quite cast the same spell for me. A movie definitely worth watching at least once.




11 Foreign Language movies to go

By Found on Rotten Tomatoes: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ne_le_dis_a_personne/, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12134715

Tell No One - (2006)

Popular, this one, and I thought it was compelling enough - although it depends on it's mystery angle, and as such I'll probably only ever see it this once. Dr. Alexandre Beck (François Cluzet) goes through a trauma, losing his wife in a violent incident - but various clues start popping up 8 years later indicating she's not dead. The police dig up the bodies of two men near where she was apparently killed, and have their sights set on Beck, who is trying to tie all of the puzzling clues together. There's a great chase sequence at around the half-way point - on foot, and very well put together. I'm going through a phase where I steer away from mystery films quite a bit, but I'd had this one on my watchlist for a while, and while it wasn't the absolute classic I was hoping for, it kept me going all the way through and is a quality piece of work. Best of all - it's easy to follow, and doesn't tangle itself up - you'll get it in the end. Apparently Michael Caine thinks this is one of the best films ever made.

7/10
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EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, ALL AT ONCE
(full review to come in Grogu's Review Pod and in the Movie Review Forum)
Rating:
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Top Gun: Maverick (2022)



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Choose or Die (Toby Meakins, 2022)
5.5/10
All the Old Knives (Janus Metz, 2022)
+ 5/10
The Screaming Woman (Jack Smight, 1972)
6/10
Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959)
8/10

Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) races Massala (Stephen Boyd) at the Circus in Rome in an exciting, satisfying conclusion to a major plot point.
Callaway Went Thataway (Melvin Frank & Norman Panama, 1951)
5.5/10
Three Guys Named Mike (Charles Walters, 1951)
+ 5/10
So Cold the River (Paul Shoulberg, 2022)
5.5/10
Bull Durham (Ron Shelton, 1988)
7/10

The minor league Durham Bulls have to discuss major stuff at this mound visit, like what wedding presents to get one of the players.
Better Nate Than Ever (Tim Federle, 2022)
6/10
The Silver Chalice (Victor Saville, 1954)
5/10
Swarm Season (Sarah Christman, 2019)
6/10
Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies, 1936)
6.5/10

H.G. Wells' futuristic epic predicts lots of the events of the 20th century as well as utilizes interesting F/X.
Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (Pedro Costa, 2001)
6/10
Agent Game (Grant S. Johnson, 2022)
5/10
Wyrmwood: Apocalypse (Kiah Roache-Turner, 2021)
6-/10
Death on the Nile (Kenneth Branagh, 2022)
- 6.5/10

A couple's honeymoon on the Nile turns into a series of murders aboard a ship with multiple suspects and Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.
Fabian: Going to the Dogs (Dominik Graf, 2021)
6/10
Night and the City (Jules Dassin, 1950)
6.5/10
Mad Love (Karl Freund, 1935)
6/10
Cyrano (Joe Wright, 2021)
+ 6.5/10

Musical adaptation with Peter Dinklage as the title character and Haley Bennett as his lady love Roxanne to whom he'll never confess his love.
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Just in case anyone here who doesn't keep an eye on the Movie Reviews board is interested, I just started a new favorite movies thread there, in case you feel like checking it out: https://www.movieforums.com/communit...24#post2296124



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The Northman
So, that was intense.


I don't want to like this director. I think he hams it up too much. But, I am grudgingly becoming a fan of his work. Bewitched, you might say.



This tale of revenge delivers. Eggers goes a bit too far at moments with the super-gritty, super-nordic, super-psychedelic stuff, but in the main this works. This is Conan without a sense of humor. This is Beowulf with more attitude. This is Hamlet with a harder childhood (which makes sense since the folktale this is based on inspired Hamlet).



Some reviewer from the BBC complained that it wasn't weird or violent enough. It couldn't get weirder without Nick Cage starring or veering into Jodorowsky and it couldn't get more violent without becoming a slasher. I think the reviewer wanted a fantastic film that leans more toward fantasy (where are the slithering monsters complains the reviewer). I do not, however, think that this is how Eggers sees the world.

I think Robert Eggers likes the genre of the fantastic. He leans towards realism, but he holds up the magical end by drawing us into the subjectivity of his characters. The magic is on the inside, but what terrors and wonders live in the human breast. In short, humans are f***ing bonkers. Get inside human subjectivity and you're through the looking glass.

I kind of wanted to hate this movie. I am tired of revenge plots (thanks Quentin !). I am tired of super-gritty (thanks Nolan!). I am tired of super-trippy (thanks Eggers!). This one, however, worked. At least it worked for me.

WARNING: "Odin Lost an Eye to See All. What Price Will Ye Pay?" spoilers below
The final act looks like a stone age Duel on Mustafar, and I have no doubt that someone will set William's score to the fight scene in years to come.



The Outfit (2022)

Stagey (as is Mark Rylance's want) and a bit creaky, but this held the interest. Rather predictable "something in the woodshed" playout and rather stylized too much for me but Rylance does do a good turn.




You ready? You look ready


Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore


I dunno why I keep letting myself get sucked into this cash grab wizarding world. Dan Fogler is the film's only redeeming quality.
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Furioza (2021)

Pretty interesting Polish story about football/organized hooliganism with a kinda soapy angle. Not bad but not at all original. I made the mistake of watching English dubbed version, if I do watch again I'll stick to subs.




Pulled a Visconti double feature last night:


Death in Venice (1971) -


This film's plot can be interpreted two ways.
Tadzio is the Angel of Death.
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Re-watch. Such a good movie that I appreciated a thousand times more on my re-watch. The polar bear was terrifying.



Tadzio is the Angel of Death.
Visconti definitely intended for it to be a symbolic film rather than a straight up pedophilia film, but I think the offscreen drama which went on while the film was in production complicates this and, as a result, makes you wonder whether elements of the second interpretations were intended as well. It's still quite good though, in spite of the creepy subtext.



Visconti definitely intended for it to be a symbolic film rather than a straight up pedophilia film, but I think the offscreen drama which went on while the film was in production complicates this and, as a result, makes you wonder whether elements of the second interpretations were intended as well. It's still quite good though, in spite of the creepy subtext.
Let’s not forget Thomas Mann the author here. He wrote the darn thing. Mann was married with children, but had homosexual tendencies. He even admitted to being attracted to his own son.

Death in Venice wasn’t written as a book about pedophilia. There are many levels. Aschenbach was definitely enchanted by Tadzio’s beauty. And, if you remember in the movie when he was following Tadzio & his nanny through the Venetian streets, Tadzio would always quietly wait for him to catch up. Leading him on to his death.