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this time I saw the "US ending" cause it's the one that's on Prime
Oh wow, good to know. I was under the assumption that the US ending had been stricken from the record, if you will.

And I agree neither ending is "happy" but the US ending allows you to imagine a better future for the character if you're so inclined. The UK ending leaves very little room for a non-tragic outcome. (ergo it's my preferred version. )
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AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON
(1962, Ozu)
Freebie



"In the end, we spend our lives alone... all alone."

An Autumn Afternoon follows Shūhei Hirayama (Chishū Ryū), an aging widower torn between his parental duty of arranging a marriage for her daughter, Michiko (Shima Iwash!ta) and her desire to remain with him and take care of him and her younger brother. If it sounds similar to other film, that's because there are several parallelisms between this film and Ozu's own Late Spring, which I saw in December last year.

On that film, however, the focus is mostly on the character of the daughter, whereas here, Ozu decides to focus on the father. This is my third Ozu film within less than a year, and it's just another evidence of how well he can craft compelling and moving stories from seemingly mundane family occurrences, which he does with great writing and excellent performances.

Just as he has done in the other Ozu films I've seen, Ryū does a great job of transmitting the inner dilemma within Hirayama. His performances are not flashy, but there's such a calming aura in his delivery and presence, and you can see the genuine care for his children in his performance. Iwash!ta's role isn't as meatier as Setsuko Hara's were, but she does a great job with the moments she gets.

I won't deny that there is a certain element of "been there, done that" to the film, since it pretty much follows the same beats as Late Spring, but coming 13 years after that film, it's interesting to see tinges of "evolution" and "growth" in how men and women, fathers and children interact. Just like with Late Spring, I have some very minor issues with the notion of an "arranged marriage", but that's not on Ozu, but the culture itself. Still, I like how Hirayama doesn't force things on his daughter as he's setting things up ("I'm not insisting on this other man. If you don't like him, you can say so") which, again, shows some degree of growth in the country's overall culture and Ozu himself.

I'm still wondering why Ozu invested so much time into the whole "golf clubs" issue. Maybe I missed something, but I feel like he could've nipped most of that and it would've felt tighter. I also feel that this film didn't pack as much of an emotional punch as the other films of his I've seen. Maybe it's because of its similarities to Late Spring, or maybe it's because I feel it kinda lacked a more defining and climatic moment towards its last act, but I still found myself moved by it.

I just realized after watching this that Ozu never married, and that he lived all of his life with his mother, dying from cancer two years after her. This adds a bit more weight to the film, as far as being his final film but also in how it approaches the subject of loneliness, particularly as you get older. Some of the characters reiterate the point that I quoted above, but also warning not to end up "lonely and sad". Regardless of what we do, we spend our lives alone. The other part's on us.

Grade:
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I've only seen Tokyo Story, and now Late Spring, so I've got a long way to go with Ozu - but I'm excited about seeing his other films. He seems to have carved out a completely original, identifiable style of moviemaking that on the surface looks uneventful - but causes a deep emotional reaction when watched.
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I've only seen Tokyo Story, and now Late Spring, so I've got a long way to go with Ozu - but I'm excited about seeing his other films. He seems to have carved out a completely original, identifiable style of moviemaking that on the surface looks uneventful - but causes a deep emotional reaction when watched.
I've only seen those two, and now An Autumn Afternoon, but based on that, I would agree. Maybe someone else with more Ozu experience can say if that's something he maintains through his filmography.



TRIANGLE
(2009, Smith)
A film with a title that starts with the letters S or T • A film from the 2000s • A thriller film



"I'm sorry I'm acting weird. It's just I'm having deja vu every time I turn a corner."

Triangle follows Jess (Melissa George), a single mother that goes on a boat trip with a group of friends. When an unexpected storm capsizes their boat, they find an apparently derelict cruise ship only to find out that someone on board might be stalking them and killing them.

This is a film that was recommended by a couple of people, and what a nice surprise it was. Without trying to give too much away, Smith starts from an inventive script and uses deft direction to weave this story in a way that consistently makes you go "huh? what?" while also making you go "yeah, it figures!"

Most of the performances are pretty good, with George being the standout. She manages to convey both the confusion and eventual resolve of her character, as she tries to figure out what's going on. She is joined by a group of actors from Australia and New Zealand, with Liam Hemsworth being the only well known one, but they all deliver. The only minor nitpick I can think of is a bit of choppy CGI when they're in the ocean.

It has been almost two days since I saw this, and I still can't shake it off of my head. It's the kind of film that makes you go back to try to figure out the how's and the why's, even if it's not possible to do so. I initially thought I would give it a 3.5, but based on how it has messed up my mind, I bumped it up to 4, and I wouldn't put it past me to bump it to 4.5. I am THAT impressed.

Grade:



And, to anyone that has seen the film, this has got to be one of the creepiest, most disturbing shots I've seen on a film recently...

WARNING: spoilers below







For those that listen to The Movie Loot, Episode 47 is out and it's as horrific as it should be. Me and my friend Ed (from The Film Effect Podcast) talk all things horror, from its evolution through the years to our love for the genre, and where we would like to see it heading into. We also share our Top 5 Horror Films.

The Movie Loot 47: The Horror Loot (with Ed from The Film Effect Podcast)

Spotify users can check it out here, while Apple Podcast users can check it out here.



THE PARALLAX VIEW
(1974, Pakula)
A film from the Criterion Collection whose number includes the #10 • A thriller film



"You've got information I need. Money doesn't mean anything to me. This story's gonna mean more to me than ten thousand dollars."

The Parallax View follows reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) who starts investigating the circumstances around the assassination of a presidential candidate 3 years prior. As a result, he discovers a conspiracy around a mysterious organization called Parallax who might be planning future attempts.

This is a film I had been hearing very positive things during the last few years, and for the most part, deservedly so. The film is very intriguing, and the direction by Pakula is very tight. Beatty (who I hadn't seen much of, but for some reason have seen 3 or 4 films of in the last year) is very good as the lead.

However, for some reason, I felt detached from a lot of this, especially the last act. I'm writing this 4 or 5 days after watching it, and I'm seriously trying to figure out what to write. It is competently made from almost every aspect, but still didn't really reel me in. Moreover, the circumstances surrounding Joe's own visit to Parallax seemed confusing to me.

Overall, I thought the film is worth a watch, and it has a very cynical ending that, to be honest, didn't really surprise me. But despite how well it is made, it's really not something that resonated with me. It pretty much went through the beats I would expect it to go, and although it did so in a good way, I really didn't get much out of that.

Grade:



CRIMSON PEAK
(2015, Del Toro)
A film from Guillermo del Toro



"The things we do for love like this are ugly, mad, full of sweat and regret. This love burns you and maims you and twists you inside out. It is a monstrous love and it makes monsters of us all."

Set in the early 20th Century, Crimson Peak follows Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), the daughter of an important businessman and an aspiring writer herself. When an aristocrat called Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and her sister (Jessica Chastain) come looking for funding for a digging machine, Edith finds herself drawn to their mysterious lives and eventually, their apparently haunted home (the titular Crimson Peak).

For some reason, this is a film that seems to be very polarizing. When I asked about it on Twitter, I got everything from it being a "glorious excessive love letter to Bava and Hammer" and "a feast for the eyes" to it being "a lot of wasted potential" and an "overhyped over-CGIed mess". I happen to lean more towards the former.

From the get go, I found myself engaged in the plot, thanks mostly to the performances from Wasikowska and Hiddleston. I thought there was a very good balance of intrigue and romance, with a surprising sprinkle of violence at one point. I was also surprised to see Charlie Hunnam, who I usually find cringey, deliver a fairly competent performance.

In the second half, the film shifts from location and also a bit of focus, with Chastain taking a more prominent role, in which she also delivers. It is also in this half that the incredible production values are more evident. The set design, lighting, and whole production values behind the Crimson Peak house are impressive. I agree that there were some moments where the CGI was a tad spotty, but it didn't really take me out of the film.

Overall, I found Crimson Peak to be thoroughly entertained, well acted, and nicely paced, with some impressive production values. I think the "ghost" angle of it could've been executed a bit better, but I still thought it was extremely enjoyable.

Grade:



A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4
THE DREAM MASTER

(1988, Harlin)
A film where a prominent character wears a hat



"You shouldn't have buried me. I'm not dead."

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 picks up shortly after Part 3, with the three survivors from that part still struggling with nightmares. When Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is resurrected, a new group of teenagers led by Alice (Lisa Wilcox) are inadvertently drawn into his dream world, and forced to fight for their survival.

This film is usually seen as the one that changed Freddy into a wise-cracking joker, while also exuding a somewhat colorful and frenetic music video vibe. And you clearly can see that as Freddy chews on head-shaped meatballs with a smirk and mimics a shark's fin with his glove when stalking a victim, all while pop rock and fast cuts rock the screen. I hadn't seen it in a long, long time, so I barely remembered anything about it, and I usually get it mixed up with Part 5.

But aside from Freddy's jokes and the overall style, my main complaints are with the performances and the script. Seriously, the acting is atrocious from pretty much everyone except Englund. Unfortunately, the actors aren't helped by the cringey dialogue.

But moreover, as is usual with the Nightmare franchise, the story is a mess. Once again, there is no rhyme or reason as to why Freddy comes back, or how he is defeated. You get some characters fighting him with karate in some silly setpieces, while our heroes somehow pass on useless "dream powers" from one to the other. They also bring up a rhyme and a certain weakness that hadn't been mentioned before that, for some reason, seems to have an effect on Freddy. Why? Who cares.

As far as slashers go, there are a few creative gory moments, particularly a character that turns into a roach, and an inventive scene where characters end stuck in a time loop. But other than that, there isn't much to dig up here. They should've let him dead and buried.

Grade:



THE FIREMEN'S BALL
(1967, Forman)
A film with the word “Fire” in its title



"We'd be better off with five fires... but no!"

Back when I was a kid, you could've asked any little kid what do you want to be when you grow up, and chances are that the response was going to be "a cop" or "a firefighter". There is both a sense of action and heroism inherently attached to both jobs that it's understandable for young kids to be drawn to that. And as adults, we put our trust into these people for saving our lives shall the time come. We trust them to be brave, heroic, and smart, which I assume is usually true... with some exceptions, which is what we see on this film.

Set in Czechoslovakia during the rule of the Communist Party, The Firemen's Ball follows the bumbling members of the volunteer fire department of a small town as they prepare for their annual ball. During the event, we are witness to their attempts to organize a pageant with almost no contestants, a raffle where most people ends up stealing the prizes, and a recognition to their retiring chairman, all of which goes wildly awry.

The film follows a fairly loose narrative, as we watch the different events unfold. There are a few chuckles to be had at some of the exchanges. However, the film does spend a good chunk of its time showing these "old" men trying to gather contestants for their beauty pageant, by ogling at young girls, most of which are hesitant to participate. All this segment felt awkward and cringe-inducing, particularly because they spend what seems like a lot of time at it.

Once we move past that, I had a bit more fun with the rest of the shenanigans, which even include a fire breaking out at a nearby house, forcing the firemen to leave. Forman has said that he and fellow screenwriters were inspired after attending an actual firemen's ball in a small town which they described as "a nightmare". However, the film is usually read as a satire of the communist system, with the corruption of the whole town as well as the failure of most of the plans.

To sum it up, I found the first half to be rather uncomfortable and the film overall wasn't as funny as I would've expected, but it was nonetheless interesting and there were some laughs to be had.

Grade:



GOODNIGHT MOMMY
(2014, Franz & Fiala)
A film from Austria



"Please come back. All I wish for is that you'll come back to us."

Traumatizing events can have many lingering effects on people; whether it's a separation, an illness, a surgery, or a death in the family. Some of these leave us wanting and longing for whoever left to return, even though there might be someone else right in front of us asking for our attention. That is some of what's behind this Austrian psychological horror film.

Goodnight Mommy follows twin brothers Elias and Lukas (Elias & Lukas Schwarz) as they try to cope with various traumatizing experiences. When their mother (Susanne Wuest) return home from cosmetic surgery, they notice changes in her behavior and start suspecting that she might not be their mother. But is she?

As I set out to look for an Austrian film, most of what came up was from Michael Haneke's filmography, which is a bit ironic because there are certainly a couple of parallelisms between this film and Haneke's Funny Games (or even another Austrian film called Angst). All of these follow characters "trapped" in some way inside their own homes, subjected to different types of physical, psychological, and emotional pain and torture.

In Goodnight Mommy, co-directors and co-writers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala manage to build a slow building, dread-filled atmosphere around this broken family. There is a twist that I felt was predictable as hell, or at least, I guessed it less than 5 minutes into the film. I certainly wish the directors wouldn't have spent so much effort trying to conceal that gimmick cause it was a bit distracting, but at the end of the day, I felt the payoff was worth it.

Regardless of that, I think Goodnight Mommy is best approached knowing as little as possible. It's the kind of film that's tough to watch for many visual, psychological, and emotional reasons, and the kind of film that kinda sticks with you as you try to figure out how things got to where they were.

Grade:



A Halloween treat for those that listen. Special Episode 8 of my podcast has me doing a breakdown/analysis of one scene from one of my favorite films, Alien:

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Special Episode VIII (Alien)

Remember, you can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and most podcast platforms.



I'm yet to see An Autumn Afternoon, no doubts I'll get round to it at some point and no doubts it'll be fairly solid like just about every other Ozu I've seen. I would've almost certainly seen The Parallax View back in the day, no solid memories of it though so it's another of those that I count as unwatched anyway. Definitely never seen The Firemen's Ball or Goodnight Mommy, the former sounds like one of those that I'd either enjoy or hate but the latter sounds of interest.

Triangle is an enjoyable watch that imo still holds up on repeat viewings despite knowing what's coming. I found Crimson Peak aesthetically pleasing but sadly I found it somewhat flat and the final minutes really didn't sit well with me at all. A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: Dream Master is pretty horrendous, gave it roughly the same rating is yourself, definitely the nadir of the series for me.
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I'm yet to see An Autumn Afternoon, no doubts I'll get round to it at some point and no doubts it'll be fairly solid like just about every other Ozu I've seen.
What other Ozu films you have seen? Looking for recommendations, although I'm pretty sure my next one will be Early Summer, so I can finish the "Noriko trilogy".



What other Ozu films you have seen? Looking for recommendations, although I'm pretty sure my next one will be Early Summer, so I can finish the "Noriko trilogy".
Not seen Early Summer myself yet either, another that I hope to get round to at some point. I've kinda dipped in and out of his filmology with Days Of Youth (1929), Walk Cheerfully (1930), The Lady And The Beard (1931), I Was Born, But... (1932), Woman Of Tokyo (1933), A Story Of Floating Weeds (1934), The Only Son (1936), What Did The Lady Forget? (1937), A Hen In The Wind (1948) and of course both Late Spring and Tokyo Story which I know you've already seen.

Of his earlier output that I've seen I'd say I Was Born, But... and A Story Of Floating Weeds are both very definitely worth a visit but even the lesser stuff is interesting in showing how he developed I think.



ALIEN
(1979, Scott)
Freebie



"You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."

Released in 1979, Alien follows the mining crew of the Nostromo. As they are en route to Earth, they are awaken by the ship's computer to investigate a distress signal from a nearby planet. As they investigate it, they unknowingly bring back a deadly alien creature aboard that starts eliminating them one by one.

The above quote comes from Ash (Ian Holm), the science officer aboard the ship, as he "admires" the alien creature's "perfection", but in many ways it could apply to the film as well. A structurally perfect "organism" that wasn't necessarily understood as first (Alien received mixed reviews from critics upon its release), it wasn't until later that many realized how good this was.

The film managed to subvert numerous tropes about the role of women or the blending of sci-fi and horror. It made a star out of Sigourney Weaver, while paving the way for female action stars in years to come. Weaver's performance is a thing of beauty as she espouses confidence within her precarious situation, and strength within her weaknesses. I love the way we can see her hold her own and put her foot down against people like Dallas, Parker, or Ash.

But in the midst of it all, there is a mixture of terror and awe at this creature. You can obviously see it in Ash, but also in Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) as he faces his demise. A creature unlike anything humanity had seen before, as the "star" of a film unlike anything people had seen before, about fears of things that we may never see.

Grade:



10/31
(2017, Various)
A film with the number 10 (Ten, Tenth, etc.) in its title



"Sit back, begin to stir, and let me drag you into the chilling depths of this Halloween Monster Marathon"

That's the "menacing" intro that Malvolia, Queen of Screams give the audience in the prologue to 10/31. A cheap knock-off of Elvira, it should give you an idea of what to expect from this horror anthology.

10/31 consists of five Halloween shorts directed by aspiring horror directors like Justin Seaman, Rocky Gray, Hunter Johnson, Zane Hershberger, Brett DeJager, and John William Holt. The topics go from an old woman haunting a bed and breakfast or a young couple trespassing on cursed gypsy land to a trio of kid tricksters stalking a family during a blizzard or a serial killer on the loose.

Overall, most of the shorts fall on the cheap-ish side. The performances across the board are very uneven, ranging from solid to simply atrocious. The direction in most of them shows potential, but it's still very amateurish. There were several jumpscares, some of them effective, and others just gimmicky. The special effects are very rubbery-looking, but kinda fun. As for the stories, some of them could've used more work and polish.

The one that I think left more of an impression is the one in the middle called "Killing the Dance". In it, a young woman takes her young brother to a Halloween party at the local skating rink, only to see it turn into a bloodfest. I felt this one was the most focused, had the best camerawork, the strongest story, and the best performances.

Overall, this isn't a film that you should get out of your way to watch, but it might be a fun alternative for a Halloween party with friends.

Grade:



ALIEN
(1979, Scott)
Got a real soft spot for this one, since, to this date, it's still the only Horror movie I've ever given a 10 to, in the first full-length movie review I ever wrote to boot...




Got a real soft spot for this one, since, to this date, it's still the only Horror movie I've ever given a 10 to, in the first full-length movie review I ever wrote to boot...



A Halloween treat for those that listen. Special Episode 8 of my podcast has me doing a breakdown/analysis of one scene from one of my favorite films, Alien:

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Special Episode VIII (Alien)

Remember, you can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and most podcast platforms.