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Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Army of Thieves (Matthias Schweighöfer, 2021)
6/10
Snakehead (Evan Jackson Leong, 2021)
+ 5/10
Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962)
6.5/10
The Medium (Banjong Pisanthanakun, 2021)
6/10

If you watch this, you may think that Thailand is full of possessed idiots even if some are talented.
Having Wonderful Time (Alfred Santell, 1938)
6/10
The Witches AKA The Devil's Own (Cyril Frankel, 1966)
5/10
Best Foot Forward (Edward Buzzell, 1943)
6/10
The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular! (4 Directors, 2017)
6.5/10

Mickey tells the kiddies a really scary story after they give the thumbs down to his version of Frankenstein.
Chernobyl: Abyss (Danila Kozlovskiy, 2021)
5.5/10
Exorcist II: The Heretic (John Boorman, 1977)
5/10
There Is No Evil (Mohammad Rasoulof, 2020)
+ 6/10
The Tomb of Ligeia (Roger Corman, 1964)
6.5/10

Vincent Price is obsessed by his late wife, who said she would never die, especially after he marries lookalike Elizabeth Shepherd.
The Curse of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher, 1957)
+ 6/10
Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (Robert Gaffney, 1965)
4/10
Tango Shalom (Gabriel Bologna, 2021)
6/10 R.I.P. Joseph Bologna
The Fly (Kurt Neumann, 1958)
6.5/10

Sci-fi/horror classic filled with iconic scenes, such as this one.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (William Eubank, 2021)
6/10
White Zombie (Victor Halperin, 1932)
+ 5/10
Who Saw Her Die? (Aldo Lado, 1972)
6/10
Let's Scare Jessica to Death (John [D.] Hancock, 1971)
6.5/10

Wonderful as straight-up scary horror and as the disintegration of a diseased mind.
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Murder on the Orient Express, 1974

On an overnight train ride, one of the passengers (Richard Widmark) is killed in the night. But who among the many passengers (and crew!) is the guilty party? With the train trapped due to a freak snowstorm, Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) is up against a ticking clock to find the murderer.

Oh, boy do I feel torn on this film. I really loved some parts of it, but struggled mightily with others.

To start with what I loved, the selling point of this film is the extensive cast, with names like Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and Michael York. Everyone seems properly into the spirit of the whole thing, mostly striking the right note between the drama and comedy of the story. I also enjoyed quite a few of the supporting actors, including names I wasn't as familiar with like Jean-Pierre Cassell as one of the workers on the train.

Then there's the plot, which of course mostly owes its debt to the delightfully complex story created by Agatha Christie. We learn relatively early on that the dead man hid some very dark secrets, and Poirot has his work ahead of him sorting out just how all of the passengers fit into the bigger puzzle. This is the kind of mystery where everyone has something to hide, but who is genuinely guilty? To the film's credit, it is not hard to keep track of the sprawling characters, because each of them is given their own moments (especially in their inquisitions with Poirot) to be clearly defined.

I will give nothing away, but if you've read the book or seen any adaptation of this story, you know that the ending is incredibly satisfying and very emotional. I really loved the way that the film chose to portray the "final reveal"--I thought that it was very moving and moody and it was a real goosebumps moment.

There were a few things I didn't love, however. And with Christie's amazing foundation, it would be hard to make a BAD version of this story.

For starters, I felt very mixed about the way that information was visually portrayed. There are two very effective more extended flashbacks that are great. But during the film there are these frequent little flashbacks--sometimes literally just a flash of an image--and I didn't like the editing transition used for them. It felt disruptive.

I was also unsure what exactly was happening with the makeup on the characters. Some of the characters, like Bisset's character, are given a more natural look. But others, like Perkins or Finney, look like they've got five pounds of powder on their faces. It was incredibly distracting for me and frankly confusing.

Lastly, there's a decision in the last act that changes something from the book. On one hand . . . it does sort of work. But it also means losing out a detail from the original story that I thought was one of the most powerful details, and it was a moment I was anticipating that just never arrived.

Pretty good, but for me it's up against the book AND an excellent audiobook version I've encountered. Definitely recommended, though, especially for that final act.




Who saw her die? (1972)

This is a nice recipe of intrigue and hard-nosedness by the father (George Lazenby - who is great) in the Italian style. It's a fairly simple tale but Lazenby gets the viewer involved in the disappearance of his daughter and his quest to find out the truth. Nomatter how hurtful or destroying that is. Giallo, and very good for it.
My favorite from Aldo Lado, who may be the most under appreciated giallo director around.





It had such a great potential, but falls short pretty fast. Maybe i'm missing something, but the stories never really connected in any meaningful way.
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Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (Robert Gaffney, 1965)
4/10
When I was a kid we had an 8mm projector, and this was one of the three movies we owned. It was like 10 minutes long and silent. So although I've never actually watched the film, there's at least a couple of scenes I have memorized.



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Bent, 2018

Undercover police detective Danny (Karl Urban) is set to bust a major player, but the night goes very wrong and Danny's partner is killed. The drug dealer is killed, but successfully claims that Danny and his partner are crooked cops. After a stint in prison, Danny begins working a car bombing that he believes is connected to the drug dealer. Along the way he gets advice from his mentor (Andy Garcia) and gets tangled up with a sexy but deadly government agent named Shannon (Sofia Vargara).

This is basic (and I do mean) basic stuff, slightly elevated with a much better cast than the material deserves and decent direction.

In the lead role, Urban leans on his easy, weary charisma. This is the kind of character who seems to give the same heavy sigh whether someone's trying to assassinate him or a beautiful woman is giving him come-hither eyes. Urban is always easy to watch, but I wouldn't call this his A-game. Likewise, Garcia and Vergara have their own magnetism, but they aren't given a ton to work with. Garcia probably comes out looking the best, but there's just nothing new or original here for the actors to really work with.

The story itself is so-so. Danny begins with what looks like a small-time case (well, as much as a car bomb can be small time), but soon stumbles his way into a bigger conspiracy. The plot walks a line between complex and convoluted, but the biggest issue is simply a lack of stakes. We are introduced to several players, but they all remain very one-dimensional.

Ultimately, though, this is a film that drowns in cliches. Danny is harassed by the local police. In one scene, they pull him over and say he has a busted taillight---want to guess what happens next? It's all stuff we've seen a million times. This is also a film where there are only 5 female characters with more than two lines: Danny sleeps with three of them, one of them asks Danny to sleep with her, one his his mentor's wife. Perhaps because Vargara didn't want to do nudity, the film seems like it's making up for something to the point that it's absurd. Scenes in strip clubs, Danny inexplicably walking into an art class where, you guessed it, we get a nice long look at a nude female model. The fact that Urban remains chastely covered the whole time only adds to how silly it all seems. On top of all of that, none of it is the least bit sexy, and the look on Urban's face in these scenes mainly suggests that sleeping with a parade of beautiful women is just a huge headache. Poor guy.

This is by no means a horrible film. It's fine. Urban, Garcia, and Vargara make it watchable. But nothing that happens in the entire 90 minute runtime will surprise you.




Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
When I was a kid we had an 8mm projector, and this was one of the three movies we owned. It was like 10 minutes long and silent. So although I've never actually watched the film, there's at least a couple of scenes I have memorized.

"Frank" is holding a Wham O Air blaster in that ad just as was used in the movie as his "ray gun." Also since the production ran out of money, the director and a crew member played that scene in the movie [to punch up the ending] costumed as the characters themselves, and it was filmed as obscurely as possible. Pretty funny flick if you're in the right frame.



since the production ran out of money, the director and a crew member played that scene in the movie [to punch up the ending] costumed as the characters themselves, and it was filmed as obscurely as possible.
That makes sense because I mostly just remember a lot of smoke. We used to complain that you couldn't see anything .




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The Black Balloon - (2008)

This is a pretty decent coming of age flick where a 15 year-old kid has to deal with having a severely mentally handicapped brother and all the extra pressure, anger and embarrassment that causes him. A lot of the incidents in the film come from real-life incidents in the writer/director's life - a typical example of which is Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) having to chase Charlie (Luke Ford) down the street in his underwear. When Charlie needs to go to the toilet, he decides to just enter a stranger's house which means Thomas has to follow. They actually end up in the bathroom of a girl he knows from school - who is having a shower and gets the shock of her life. Charlie causes no end of catastrophe and trouble, which strains family unity to it's breaking point. Toni Collette features as Maggie, their good-natured mother.

7/10


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I've Loved You So Long - (2008) - France

Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) is coming to live with her sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) and her family after spending 15 years in prison for the murder of her 6 year-old son. She faces an uphill battle gaining acceptance and readjusting to life in the free world. This film dangles the mystery of Juliette's murder conviction in front of our faces and kind of tantalizes us for the rest of the film, a frustrating distraction that tried my patience. The rest of the film is a slow burn (it was for me anyway) with Juliette kind of holding on to a quiet rage in the face of people who accept her, try to help her, reject her and push her away. But it does pose an interesting question :

WARNING: spoilers below
If your child had an incurable disease that would cause him/her immense suffering, would you be inclined to end their suffering? Would you even be able to do that if you could?


6/10


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The Hurt Locker - (2008)

Watched again in preparation for the 2000s countdown - I've come away from it with a different perspective each time, but always rate it highly. Jeremy Renner lost out on an Oscar to Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart - if he was going to lose, I guess that was the best person to lose to in my book. 10 really great 2008/2009 films vied for the Best Picture Oscar but I have no problem with The Hurt Locker winning.

9/10
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It's a good movie for Halloween tonight, really unsettling - The Mothman Prophecies. It's not just a movie script, but back in 1966 some of this stuff actually happened. I recall it in the news of the time, people in a small W Virginia town, Point Pleasant, repeatedly saw a winged creature, human sized with large wings and blazing red eyes. People received strange phone messages from a person calling himself Indrid Cold. The sightings continued until December 1967, when the bridge across the Ohio river at the edge of town, collapsed suddenly, into the river. Dozens were killed in the US's worst bridge disaster. The sightings and calls stopped. This part is not a movie.

The movie condenses all this into a few characters who are deeply disturbed by what's happening. In the end, the bridge collapses. The movie is slow, somber and haunting, had good performances by Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Alan Bates and Will Patton. It's really pretty good for a slow burn creepy movie, one of those spooky stories that gets under your skin, especially if you read up on the actual events.





Ultimate showdown. The producers/writters clearly understand the target audience of both, Freddy and Jason (basicly the same), and delivers exactly what the audience wants. Gore, Dark Humor, hot/naked girls and goofy.
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The Guns of Navarone, 1961

A fleet of ships is on route to rescue a few thousand trapped British soldiers during WW2. The problem? Two large, long-range guns controlled by the Nazis threaten to destroy the rescue party. Enter Captain Mallory (Gregory Peck), who ends up leading a small assortment of men, including explosives expert Miller (David Niven), on a secret mission to destroy the guns by any means necessary. Part of the squad includes a man named Stavros (Anthony Quinn), who blames Mallory for a past tragedy and promises to kill him at the end of the mission.

Nominated for Best Picture in the year of its release, this film is one of those epic-yet-intimate stories that sucks you in on both the grand and minute scale.

What the film does so well through its entire run is thread together external threats with internal conflicts. The men are technically working as spies, not uniformed and rarely in touch with their contacts back in the military. To be captured by the enemy would mean not only the failure of the mission, but also execution for espionage.

In the external category, the men face not only the hostile Nazi forces, but also simply the logistical difficulties of navigating a relentless storm, scaling a nearly-vertical cliffside, and making their way through different towns and landscapes undetected.

Internally, the men deal with the challenge of having differing opinions as to how to accomplish their mission and what lengths they will go to in order to do so. When one of the men suffers an injury, the moral and practical aspects of the group are put under immediate strain: do they hamper themselves by carrying their fallen teammate, leave him behind to be cared for (in theory!) by the enemy, or end his suffering with a well-placed bullet. There are also conflicts between Mallory and Miller, sparring over the acceptable price to pay for success.

Generally speaking, I really liked the performances from all of the leads and the secondary characters. The action sequences are filmed on a grand scale, and the stakes feel very real. Finally, I appreciated the portrayal of people struggling with what it means to be a good person in the middle of a large-scale international conflict. One character will sincerely ask if their mission is worth a certain person's life. Left unspoken is the fact that thousands of other lives may depend on that mission. Personal loyalties and larger, national loyalties frequently clash.

I also appreciated the introduction of a resistance fighter named Maria (Irene Papas) and another young woman, Anna (Gia Scala) who has supposedly gone mute after being tortured by the Nazis. In one fell swoop, these two characters serve as a reminder that women (mothers, sisters, and daughters) were also a part of the war, and further that civilians were entwined in the conflict whether they liked it or not. Multiple times, the film shows us that in such a conflict, there is no such thing as sitting on the sidelines for most people. Of course, the film can't introduce a female character without introducing a romance, but whatever. They were solid characters and added that civilian-fighter aspect to the film.

I really didn't have many issues with this film. My one chief complaint would probably be that (trying to stay spoiler free, here!) at one point there is a really serious decision to be made, and the film sort of let the characters off the hook a bit. There's something a bit iffy about raising a serious moral question, and then allowing it to be resolved without forcing the characters to make an uncomfortable choice.

Really worth seeking out if you've not seen it before. It is on the longer side (2.5 hours) and I did feel myself losing steam a bit in the last 20 minutes or so. I sort of wish I'd watched it in two parts.

Yeah, I really like this movie and on my last viewing (having not seen it for like 20 years) the women really stood out to me, both of them. They had real feelings and real stakes and were well-portrayed. Obviously the romance angle was unnecessary but times being what they were I guess we have to swallow some of that. Good movie, though.




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Michael Clayton - (2007)

I love the performances from every actor in this film - they had great material to work with from Tony Gilroy. This involves the high-stakes world of a law firm, and the firm's fixer, Michael Clayton. When Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) breaks down and goes off his medication after finding out the pesticide company he's working for hid reports of the toxicity of their product the bleep hits the fan. Clayton is brought in, but unbeknownst to him, a couple of snoops have also been hired and are reporting to company representative Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton). Crossed wires and alarm bells light a powder keg that some won't walk away from. Some great suspense which includes questions about morality in our modern fast-paced money-driven world. An interesting sub-plot involving addiction and redemption raise it another notch.

8.5/10
I especially liked Swinton in this. She's so absurdly versatile and often plays characters that are kinda over the top (on purpose) so it was nice to see her dig in and play a real person subtly and deftly. One of my favorite performances of that year and it really elevates an already very good movie. As does Wilkinson in another great performance.



This is something of a childhood favourite, mostly because it's a favourite of my dad's and therefore meant it played a lot in our house.

If you share my soft spot for this genre, the "sequel" Force 10 from Navarone might be worth a watch. It's based on another Alistair Maclean novel featuring the characters played here by Peck and Niven, only they're played by Robert Shaw and Edward Fox in that movie. Not nearly as tightly directed, but has a fun cast and enough of the pleasures this kind of movie offers that I had a good time.
I also saw it a lot when I was young for the same reason.

I am an unabashed fan of Force 10. A lot of people don't like it and I've never understood that. It is just a ton of fun. Shaw just chewing scenery at his finest, Edward Fox is great, Franco Nero, hell, I even enjoyed Carl Weathers. Fun movie, very different tone from the original, but enjoyable.





Murder on the Orient Express, 1974

On an overnight train ride, one of the passengers (Richard Widmark) is killed in the night. But who among the many passengers (and crew!) is the guilty party? With the train trapped due to a freak snowstorm, Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) is up against a ticking clock to find the murderer.

Oh, boy do I feel torn on this film. I really loved some parts of it, but struggled mightily with others.

To start with what I loved, the selling point of this film is the extensive cast, with names like Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and Michael York. Everyone seems properly into the spirit of the whole thing, mostly striking the right note between the drama and comedy of the story. I also enjoyed quite a few of the supporting actors, including names I wasn't as familiar with like Jean-Pierre Cassell as one of the workers on the train.

Then there's the plot, which of course mostly owes its debt to the delightfully complex story created by Agatha Christie. We learn relatively early on that the dead man hid some very dark secrets, and Poirot has his work ahead of him sorting out just how all of the passengers fit into the bigger puzzle. This is the kind of mystery where everyone has something to hide, but who is genuinely guilty? To the film's credit, it is not hard to keep track of the sprawling characters, because each of them is given their own moments (especially in their inquisitions with Poirot) to be clearly defined.

I will give nothing away, but if you've read the book or seen any adaptation of this story, you know that the ending is incredibly satisfying and very emotional. I really loved the way that the film chose to portray the "final reveal"--I thought that it was very moving and moody and it was a real goosebumps moment.

There were a few things I didn't love, however. And with Christie's amazing foundation, it would be hard to make a BAD version of this story.

For starters, I felt very mixed about the way that information was visually portrayed. There are two very effective more extended flashbacks that are great. But during the film there are these frequent little flashbacks--sometimes literally just a flash of an image--and I didn't like the editing transition used for them. It felt disruptive.

I was also unsure what exactly was happening with the makeup on the characters. Some of the characters, like Bisset's character, are given a more natural look. But others, like Perkins or Finney, look like they've got five pounds of powder on their faces. It was incredibly distracting for me and frankly confusing.

Lastly, there's a decision in the last act that changes something from the book. On one hand . . . it does sort of work. But it also means losing out a detail from the original story that I thought was one of the most powerful details, and it was a moment I was anticipating that just never arrived.

Pretty good, but for me it's up against the book AND an excellent audiobook version I've encountered. Definitely recommended, though, especially for that final act.

Well, that's interesting.
I agree with you wholeheartedly about the ending. I love it in the book, I love it in this film, and I love it in Branagh's film.
I can't remember which detail was excised that's troubling you, though I remember that something was.
But I also remember giving it a pass just because movies never totally faithfully follow their books and I thought this film did a fine job, regardless of the book, of telling the story.
I also thought Branagh's version was pretty good and didn't understand why a lot of people here didn't like it (my understanding was that it was much better received in Europe).



The last movie I saw is Dune and I will give it 5 out of 2

Dune story maybe some kind of boring but movie visuals are breath taking....



The last movie I saw is Dune and I will give it 5 out of 2

Dune story maybe some kind of boring but movie visuals are breath taking....
I never was any good at math, but how can something be 5 out of 2?
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26th Hall of Fame

Tower (2016) -


I was looking forward to this film as its premise seemed pretty interesting. While I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, I still enjoyed my time with it and I may watch it again someday.

Interestingly enough, this film doesn't show much of the shooter. Save for a few shots, you only see his gun firing from above. The focus is instead on the victims and the survivors of the shooting. Some of the perspectives include a pregnant woman who was shot and left to bleed out on the pavement throughout the shooting, a newspaper delivery boy who was wounded by the sniper, a man who sent out radio broadcasts about the shooting as it went on, and a few people who attempted to get to the top of the tower to stop the shooter. I enjoyed these stories and, while I found some of them more interesting than others, they all had something to offer. Some of the concluding statements from the survivors at the end, in particular, were quite powerful. Also, in terms of pacing, this documentary is an easy watch as its 82 minute runtime goes by fairly quickly.

While watching this film, I was reminded of Waltz With Bashir, another animated documentary I've seen. I found the animation in that film thematically appropriate as the somewhat distant feel the animation brought to the film was all at the heart of the main protagonist's inability to remember his role in the Lebanon War. The animation in this film, by comparison, didn't feel as necessary to the film as it did in Waltz With Bashir and, as a result, I didn't feel the same connection towards it. Now, don't get me wrong. The animation was still a unique directorial choice, so to a degree, I appreciated the approach. However, inserting a couple live action clips into the first couple acts, showing some animated people or objects moving across a live action background in a few scenes, or slowly relying more and more on live action in the final act left me emotionally cold and unable to determine what the significance of all those transitions were. It might have been better to utilize live action only in the final act as opposed to sporadically throughout the first hour.

In some respects, I was left cold by certain parts of this film, but to another degree, the perspectives of the people involved in the shooting resonated with me quite a bit, so overall, I thought this documentary was good.