Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - 2023 Edition


Forgot to put this here yesterday, since it was "meant" to come out on the "short month", but this is the latest episode of the podcast, Episode 79: The Short Loot, where I talk with filmmaker Tim Egan. Known for directing the amazing short film, Curve, we talked about his career, his short film, and short films in general. We close sharing our favorite short films, and there is a notable presence of short films that came up during the Short Film HoF we did a while ago, so check it out!

The Movie Loot 79: The Short Loot (with Tim Egan)

You can check it out on the above link, or on any of these podcasting platforms: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any other. Thanks for the support!
Good stuff, seems like a cool guy. I was impressed with myself for having already seen so many of the films mentioned here, but I learned about a few new ones too.

And I second his rec of the Villeneuve film, if you haven't watched it yet.

Captain's Log
My Collection

Good stuff, seems like a cool guy. I was impressed with myself for having already seen so many of the films mentioned here, but I learned about a few new ones too.

And I second his rec of the Villeneuve film, if you haven't watched it yet.

Thanks! I found most of the shorts he mentioned, but really haven't had time to watch them. They're on the agenda, though.
Check out my podcast: The Movie Loot!

(1979, Bridges)
A film with Jack Lemmon

"In everything man does, there's an element of risk. So we have 'defense in depth'. That means two back-up systems. You saw it. There was no radiation leakage. The system works. Even with a faulty relay or a stuck valve... that system works. There was no accident."

That's how supervisor Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon) tries to convince reporter Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) that there was no accident at the Ventana Nuclear Power Plant. But is he trying to convince Wells, or is he trying to convince himself? That is what drives the story in this tense thriller.

The China Syndrome follows Wells and his cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas) as they follow up on a potential nuclear emergency. After witnessing and incident that they believe could've led to a meltdown, they start uncovering a series of coverups taken by the administrators to cut corners in the plant maintenance. However, their efforts might put them all in danger.

This is a film I had been meaning to watch for a long time, but for whatever reason I hadn't. So I was glad that this month's challenge gave me the opportunity, and I jumped right at it. The film is definitely my kind of jam. I mean, an edge-of-your-seat thriller about a nuclear cover-up? Sign me up for that!

James Bridges, who wrote and directed, delivers a smart script and taut direction that relies more on slow, tense moments and conversations, rather than big, elaborate setpieces. When I read that he was also the writer of the underseen Colossus: The Forbin Project, it made sense. Here he uses similar "control room" interactions that put in the spotlight human's fallibility and our reliance on "machines" to do the job for us.

In addition to the script and direction, the film is helped by a hell of a cast. Fonda and Lemmon easily steal the spotlight, and their scenes together are among the best from the film. The cast is rounded up by solid supporting performances from Douglas, Wilford Brimley, James Hampton, and James Karen, among others.

My two main gripes happen in the last act. First, they insert an antagonist in one of the plant executives that feels a bit one-dimensional as a representation of the "corporate bad guys", and he does lean a bit into "moustache twirling". The second has to do with the very end, where a certain line of dialogue feels forced to assure the audiences that justice will be served and that these corporate "bad guys" will somehow pay.

But those are really minor gripes. The film does a great job of questioning the risks in the use of nuclear power and the lengths that some will go to keep things the way they are, all while delivering great performances in an all-around well-crafted film. Even with a last minute, one-dimensional antagonist or a forced closing line... it works.


(2021, Sayood)
A film from Kuwait

"Your father wasn't wrong, but you did what he said at the wrong time. Your friends weren't wrong either. But you took their advice at the wrong time. And mistakes build up. At some point, you regret that you didn't take some advice, and you don't go ahead with the next stage."

Since the moment we're born, life is a constant barrage of trial-and-error decisions. What to play, who to play with, what to eat, who to hang out with, where to study, what to study, where to live, who to marry... it's all an endless cycle of decisions to which, more often than not, we feel ill-prepared. And yet, we choose, and go ahead with the next stage.

Al Maht (or All Eyes on Him) is a Kuwaiti animated film that follows Tawfeeq (Sayood), a young man stuck on that cycle of decisions. The film starts with him as he's about to graduate high school, and follows his life as he tries to navigate some of the above questions of life.

This was certainly an interesting watch, especially because of how it tries to juggle different tones. On one hand, the film features some hit-and-miss comedy beats that are thrown at a frenetic, non-stop pace; but on the other hand, some of the themes that are explored regarding life choices and the effects they have for ourselves and those around us are relatively well presented.

Tawfeeq is an artistic young man that likes to draw. However, life takes him away from that path for different reasons, and he ends up sacrificing what he loves for what is considered a more regular life. But then again, life has ways to try to put you back on track, but only as new and different questions and choices arise.

I really appreciated the film's efforts to dive into these profound topics, but although I enjoyed a lot of the more fast-paced, juvenile humor, I wish the film would've "sat down" for a while at moments to allow some of these life ponderings sink a bit more, while also giving some of its subplots and storyline detours more space to breathe.


(1986, Hyams)

Ray: "I think it's awfully sad to be talking about quittin'. It might look like we're scared."
Danny: "We're not scared. We're smart!"

That's one of the ways that Danny Costanzo (Billy Crystal) tries to rationalize to his partner his decision to retire from the force. Of course, you wanna think of yourself as being "smart", rather than "scared"; especially when you're a Chicago police officer. But can they follow through on their decision? That is the basis for this 1986 buddy cop film.

Running Scared follows Costanzo and his partner, Ray (Gregory Hines) as they try to track down dangerous drug lord, Julio Gonzales (Jimmy Smits). However, after the cops survive a shootout during a raid on a gun shipment for Gonzales, the two start to question their careers and start thinking about retiring early and opening a bar in Florida.

This is a film I'm baffled I had barely heard about, considering it came up in the 1980s, around the time I was watching stuff like Beverly Hills Cop and Lethal Weapon. But for some reason, this one seemed to get lost in the mix. The film follows more or less a similar vibe to those that I mentioned above, with the two partners usually going against the grain to capture the bad guys, while cracking one-liners in the process.

The thing that works about this film is that Hines and Crystal have an undeniable chemistry. Their banter is funny, cool, and infectious. You can also feel there's a dose of Crystal's ad-libbing, but it works perfectly. The film has a good dose of solid one-liners, and the supporting cast (that includes Joe Pantoliano and Dan Hedaya, among others) is pretty good.

What didn't work as well for me was the overall tone. There is a bit of a tonal dissonance to the plot that I just can't quite grasp. For starters, the two cops are shown to be pretty bold and fearless, often to the point of recklessness, during the first act, so their choice to "run scared" after a dangerous situation doesn't necessarily jive with the kind of cops we've seen them to be or the kind of film this is.

The thing is that the original idea for the script called for two "older cops" about to retire, which I think would've made more sense to the story. There is also a montage towards the middle of the film as they hang out in Miami during their forced vacation that feels weird and dated. Finally, a couple of romantic subplots between both cops feel underserved and, yes, weird (both of which involve woman that are married, or about to get married). But as far as a fun, light, buddy cop comedy with two wise-cracking cops with great chemistry, I guess it delivers.


If you have 30 minutes before the Oscars start, then check out the FIRST HALF of the latest episode of The Movie Loot, where me and @ApexPredator talk about the Oscars and our predictions for tonight's ceremony!

The Movie Loot 81: The Oscars Loot

Look for it also on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, etc.

Later this week, I will spam you again with the SECOND HALF, but I was running against the clock, and this was the part that was relevant for today, so

A system of cells interlinked
Checking out this latest loot with Apex right now!
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP

(1956, Kobayashi)
A film from Masaki Kobayashi

"War criminals are the masks of peace, worn by the merchants of death."

Set in the years after World War II, The Thick-Walled Room follows a group of Japanese soldiers imprisoned for crimes against humanity committed during the war. Throughout the film, they go from coping with the real guilt and regret of their actions to struggling and questioning the reasons for their imprisonment. Part of their resentment is reflected in the above line, which one of them quotes in the last act. I don't know where the quote comes from, but it seems to capture the way that these prisoners are being used as scapegoats for the decisions of higher-ranking officers and leaders, who they were following orders from.

This film was the first notable film directed by Masaki Kobayashi, who later in his career directed Harakiri, which I love so I really wanted to dive into something, anything else from him. The main group of prisoners we follow is comprised of mostly six soldiers, all from different backgrounds and different approaches to their situation. However, most of the focus falls on Yokota (Kô Mishima) and Yamashita (Torahiko Hamada), both of which are struggling with family situations back in their homes that are directly or indirectly tied to them being imprisoned. These include financial difficulties for lack of a provider, the social stigma of their situation, serious illnesses, or the continuing clash against the current government.

Overall, the film has an interesting and thought-provoking premise. Most of these subplots are quite serious and profound, especially coming from Kobayashi, who was a war prisoner himself. Unfortunately, his decision to spread the narrative among so many characters results in the plot feeling somewhat scattered and without focus. There are also a few expository sequences that feel clunkily written, and the pace of the film is not as tight as it should have. There are some solid performances, though, and Kobayashi does craft some powerful images and moments. There's a scene in particular that stuck with me, where a character is being haunted by visions and images of the crimes he committed as the walls around him break down in a hallucinatory sequence.

Overall, I was pleased with this film. There is a powerful message on how society perceives this people and the way guilt is put upon them as a burden they can't carry, even if they're not the ones directly responsible for it. Kobayashi shows promise as a director with some neatly constructed sequences and visuals. I just wish that the script and the overall execution was better, because I believe that deep down there's a really great film here; perhaps behind a thick-wall.


Checking out this latest loot with Apex right now!
I plan to upload the second half some time today, so if you do check it out, make sure you come back later to listen to the second half.

Again, late as hell posting this, but here's my summary for FEBRUARY 2023:

A film with Jack Lemmon (born February 8): The China Syndrome
A film about an inventor (Nat'l Inventors Day, February 11): The Imitation Game
A film with the name of a couple in its title: Kramer vs. Kramer
A film from Masaki Kobayashi (born February 14): The Thick-Walled Room
A film from Kuwait (National Day, February 25): All Eyes on Him

Other films seen, not for the challenge

30th Hall of Fame: Dead Man's Letters, Fat Girl, To Live and Die in L.A.
1950s Creature/B-movies: Creature with the Atom Brain, Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Deadly Mantis
Short films: Curve, The Follow, (What the F*ck Do You Mean) We Bought a Zoo?, A Killer App, Pee Soup, Tomato, Tomatoes
Others: Running Scared (1986)

Not counting rewatches, I think the one I enjoyed the most was probably The China Syndrome, but a case can be made for Kramer vs. Kramer, Fat Girl, or Dead Man's Letters. All very solid films.

As for the weakest, ehhh, probably The Imitation Game or The Deadly Mantis. None really awful, though.

If you have 30 minutes before the Oscars start, then check out the FIRST HALF of the latest episode of The Movie Loot, where me and @ApexPredator talk about the Oscars and our predictions for tonight's ceremony!

The Movie Loot 81: The Oscars Loot

Look for it also on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, etc.

Later this week, I will spam you again with the SECOND HALF, but I was running against the clock, and this was the part that was relevant for today, so
If anybody listened to this latest episode of The Movie Loot, then make sure you dive back in for the second half. After our Oscars talk, me and @ApexPredator play a little "speech" game, and then share our Top 5 Best Picture nominees that DIDN'T win through history. Check it out!

The Movie Loot 81: The Oscars Loot

As usual, you can also check it out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or any other podcast/audio streaming service.

A system of cells interlinked
If anybody listened to this latest episode of The Movie Loot, then make sure you dive back in for the second half.
Caught up with part 2 this morning. Great episode!

I already had this up on the first page, I think, but here is my third "assignment" episode of the new format I'm doing for the podcast.

The Movie Loot: The March Assignment (with Stew from SWO Productions)

In this one, my friend Stew joins the loot as we choose a set of 5 categories to guide us on what to watch during the month.

You can also see the live broadcast we did via YouTube

...or listen to it through any podcasting platform like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or any other.

Here are the criteria for MARCH 2023:

A film from South Korea (March 1st Movement):
A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title:
A film from Akira Kurosawa (born March 23):
A film from Spike Lee (born March 20):
A film with the word "Time" in its title (Daylight Savings Time, March 12):

(2022, Forbis & Tilby)

"I remember meeting pieces of timber and wood; I was quite conscious; I felt the water; I thought I was under the bottom of the sea somewhere."

The above is part of the actual statement of Charlie Mayers, the sailor that is subject of this mesmerizing short film. Inspired by the events of the disastrous Halifax Explosion of 1917, the film follows the titular sailor, as he is witnesses the explosion caused by the collision of two boats, which eventually sent him "flying" through the air and into a hill 2 kilometers away; an event he somehow survived.

There really isn't much else to the short in terms of story, but it is indeed a visually captivating journey through what might've been a near-death experience. As the sailor is sent through the air, he's stripped of his clothes, and we see him flying through actual debris, as well as imaginary debris, all while reliving past events of his life. It is interesting how the directors intercalate live footage of nature, along with the fluid animation. The latter takes an almost choreographic, dance-like approach to the sailor's "journey", which ends up being quite beautiful.

The Halifax explosion ended up being one of the most significant disasters of the time, with almost two thousand deaths and almost 10,000 injured. Whole communities were destroyed, thousands of people were displaced, and communications and commerce were badly affected by the explosion. Mayers himself was treated by some as "delusional". But even though not much is known of Mayers after this, and the short takes considerable artistic license about his perceptions, I think it's safe to say that this must've been a life-changing experience.


(2020, Tveiten)

"Hey, tiny, just drive the tram!"

That's the demand that an abusive a$$hole screams at Ebba (Sigrid Kandal Husjord) as he's in the middle of assaulting a passenger. The demand is based on the aggressor's perceptions of who Ebba is and what her role is, which as far as he's concerned, are to drive the tram and not get in his "assaulting" business. That is part of the basis of this Academy Award nominated short film.

Night Ride follows Ebba, a curious passenger that doesn't want to wait outside in the cold before the tram leaves and unwittingly ends up at the wheel. But this night ride is not meant to be a smooth one as a rude passenger has an awkward exchange with Ariel (Ola Hoemsnes Sandum) that quickly escalates into something worse. Can Ebba do something to stop it? Is it up to her?

That is the premise of this short film, which seems to be an exploration of what others perceive to be our duties and what they actually are. Ebba is not supposed to be driving the tram, but people see her at the wheel and expect her to do so. In a similar line, Ebba shouldn't be the one stopping an assault, or at least not the only one, but then again, she might be.

With a 15 minute runtime, the short plays it a bit more on the lighter side, but not without diminishing the seriousness of the events. The incredibly earnest performance from Husjord adds to that as she manages to transmit both her unwillingness to be where she is, but also her resolve to do what needs to be done for being where she is; whether it is driving the tram or stopping an a$$hole from assaulting someone else.



(2022, Pendragon)

"Question everything, young man. The world is not quite what it seems."

Corporate life, and regular life overall, is not easy. I think it's safe to say that many of us, especially when reaching a certain age, have questioned "the purpose of it all"; what are we doing here? what's the point? What most of us probably haven't experienced is having an ostrich confront us with that thought... or who knows, maybe you have. Anyway, that's the main premise of this clever short film.

However, the short takes an interesting approach to it. Set almost in its entirety in a miniature office set for stop-motion animation, the film makes a constant effort to remind us that this is a film, that it is all fake (or "a sham", as the ostrich would say). The short focuses on Neil (Lachlan Pendragon), a salesperson at this office struggling with his dwindling toaster sales as well as a sudden existential dread; something that is heightened by the overnight visit of an ostrich.

This was certainly a clever twist on the "everything is fake" trope. The ways in which director, writer, and animator Pendragon transmits that feeling of "artificiality" are really inventive and well thought-out. By showing most of the action through the actively recording director's monitor or having the figures mouthpieces fall off unexpectedly, it all helps to put forth that theme of how everything is made up because it's a film, but also juxtaposing it with Neil's role within this artificial set.

All of this are just immensely creative ways to invite us to question our surroundings, but also to question those that incite that questioning and their purposes. Like the ostrich says, question *everything*, which includes questioning the ostrich itself. After all, the world is not quite what it seems.


(1975, Lumet)

"Well, I'm talking to you. We're entertainment, right? What do you got for us?"

Set in a hot summer day in New York, Dog Day Afternoon follows Sonny (Al Pacino) as he tries to rob a bank along with his friend Sal (John Cazale). However, what is supposed to be a simple robbery goes all wrong, and ends up putting the spotlight on the two amateur robbers, as it all becomes a media spectacle.

We've all been there; glued to the TV and the news as some event unfolds, usually a tragic one. The adrenaline of everyone involved – the perpetrators doing the deed, the media recording it, and us watching it – makes everything feel tangible and close, but at the same time surreal and incredible.

That might be part of what prompts Sonny to ask the above question. He knows the spotlight is on them, and he feels like he has some sort of upper-hand. His frequent references to the Attica prison riot in 1971, where innocent people were killed by the police along with the guilty, hints that he's afraid his fate might be the same, so having cameras on him gives him a certain amount of security.

Despite the spectacle around them, the film doesn't treat these characters like "superstars", but rather makes an effort to showcase their humanity. Sonny and Sal are not robbers, that much is evident. They're humans, they're lovers, husbands, friends; just ordinary people that are driven to incredible events because of the circumstances around them.

By focusing on that humanity and those circumstances, which can be economic disparity or social differences (all things that Lumet smartly highlights in the opening credits scene which focuses on various New York settings and landmarks where regular people work and mingle), we can feel closer and identify with those characters. They're on TV, but at the same time tangible and close.

In the midst of its spectacle, Dog Day Afternoon manages to put a spotlight not in the event, but in the characters and the circumstances that drive them. It is a wildly effective mixture of drama, humor, social commentary, and thrills, with a clever script and some great performances. I mean, that's entertainment, right?



(2022, Pendragon)
Saw this last week, fun. I love high concept stuff and, if that wasn't enough, and on top of being pretty funny, it did a few technical things that made me genuinely wonder how they accomplished them. Great stuff.

Saw this last week, fun. I love high concept stuff and, if that wasn't enough, and on top of being pretty funny, it did a few technical things that made me genuinely wonder how they accomplished them. Great stuff.
Yeah, I also suppose that people with actual filming experience will get a kick out of it.