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I watched Black Bear, which I never heard anyone mention outside of Aubrey Plaza briefly promoting it on her social media. But itís got a 90% on Rotty Ts so I gave it a shot. Itís a nifty little mindtrip of a movie that Iím not sure I fully understand but enjoy speculating on. Excellent performances too. And I wouldnít have known about it if I wasnít cyber-stalking my celebrity crush.
Very good film!



Victim of The Night
The Wolf of Snow Hollow -


Jim Cummings continues to prove his expertise at telling stories about and at playing men whose professional and personal crises reveal their identities in this always entertaining horror comedy. Like in Thunder Road, he's a cop again - this time in a small Utah skiing town - but he's dealing with a different (and possibly actual) monster: a serial killer who attacks at midnight and only when there's a full moon. With each kill, Cummings' Jim Marshall loses more of his composure, and as a result, risks acquiring his next AA chip. To make matters worse, his relationship with his rising college freshman daughter becomes even more tenuous.

I like how Marshall's increasing strain and one step forward, two steps back progress ride a fine line between making you laugh and feel bad for him at the same time. This is partly because Jim's such a good actor and has an endearing presence, but I also give credit to him for experimenting with more sophisticated filming techniques, one highlight being the cross cuts between the attacks with the places Marshall hid his booze. These techniques combined with the increasing body count earn the movie its horror label. The rest of the cast also hold their own, my favorites being Riki Lindhome as Marshall's partner - whose loyalty likely keeps him employed - and Chloe East as Jim's daughter for how she never hesitates to call out her dad's failings. It's also nice to see Robert Forster - sadly for the last time - as the sheriff and Jim's ad. Oh, and I'm sure other reviewers have called out how well the movie parallels lycanthropy with the toxicity of Marshall and the town's most dudebro residents and visitors, but I'll do it anyway.

Could this movie be described as Thunder Road with a werewolf? Maybe. Despite the horror elements, Arnaud and Marshall are not terribly different, nor are their relationships with their families and co-workers. The police procedural serial killer story also has plenty of familiar beats. It's still great, and since Cummings is relatively new to feature filmmaking, I get that he wants to stick to familiar territory and establish his brand before trying something else. Besides, as I stated above, I was invested in the story and the characters enough to disregard any familiarity. It ends up being an funny and chilling little movie that's an effective reminder of how dangerous - or is it authentic - we are when we're pushed to our limit. It's also bound to make you want to know everything about Jim Cummings' career plans.
Yep, that about sums it up.
And like you say, I was really impressed with Lindhome. I think if I was a filmmaker, I'd get her in my stable of actors.
Also, I have to say,
WARNING: "MAJOR spoiler... THE spoiler" spoilers below
I normally hate it when something appears to be supernatural and it turns out to be some dude or whatever, they usually pisses me off immensely, but I think Cummings pulled it off really well here and I was totally satisfied with the film.



The Candy Snatchers (1973)




"Exploitation" cult film that wasn't quite as exploitive as I had hoped. 3 thugs kidnap a teen girl (Candy) and problems arise. Decent twist and ending, but it threatens to become dull at times. It was alright.





Chop Shop, 2007

Ale (Alejandro Polanco) is an orphan living a precarious existence in New York with his older sister, Isamar (Isamar Gonzales). Living in a small space allotted to them by the man who runs the chop shop where Ale works, the two young people dream of one day owning a food truck. As they both hustle to earn money--sometimes by illegal means--the uncaring city environment perpetually threatens to turn on them.

There's always a moment when you go to watch a film about something like homeless children where you hold your breath a bit that it might be a misery slog. And don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that there isn't value in showing the brutal realities of how some people's lives look. But sometimes such films can veer into almost a freak show/exploitation lane where it feels as if the filmmaker is just constantly trying to one-up themselves in terms of pain and misfortune.

Chop Shop hits a really lovely balance between showing the harsh realities of living such a precarious life with so little social protection and showcasing moments of triumph and joy. It never tips over into that odious "maybe poor people are living the better lives" trope, but neither does it assume that there can't be glimpses of happiness even in a hard life.

Polanco is a totally captivating lead. He manages to exude both a street-savvy, world weariness and a child-like optimism. When he and his best friend spend a day hustling for dollars by selling candy on the subway, there's a great moment where the two of them look at each other before launching into a rehearsed bit. It's the kind of look two men in their 40s should be giving each other before a pointless business meeting, not a look that should be exchanged between two children who aren't even old enough to drive.

Gonzales is also very likable in her role as Ale's older sister. Because of her age and her gender, Isamar understands more about how much the world is willing to take from people who are desperate. But it's really lovely seeing how she escapes into a more childish frame of mind when she is around Ale, such as when the two of them banter about how they will paint and design their food truck.

While the two child leads are very engaging, the film wisely anchors the performances with a really strong turn from Ahmad Razvi as Ahmad, the operator of a rival chop shop with a soft spot for Ale. Perhaps nowhere is the pain and complication of Ale's life better demonstrated than in a sequence where Ale comes to suspect that Ahmad may be paying his sister for sex work. While people in the different chop shops show kindness or affection toward Ale, there is a limit. In this world there is always the sense that you aren't wondering if the other shoe will drop, just waiting for whose foot will be inside.

The film also makes really great use of the city as a backdrop. We don't see any active cruelty from the middle or upper class citizens. In fact, it is their indifference that condemns them and that strands Ale and Isamar in their situation. Ale listening to the crowd at a Mets game, or watching fans trickle in to watch the US Open---it is a part of the city that will never really be his except as a scavenger.

There is one plot point that didn't feel like it attained closure, and that has to do with Ale's friendship with a boy named Carlos (Carlos Zapata), whose uncle has promised to sell Ale and Isamar a food truck.

Overall a really strong film, full of memorable characters.






The Guardian has some nice practical effects, and it's not an ugly film, but the story could have been much better. Not a top-tier Friedkin, but could be worse. House of Voices (or Saint Ange) is a familiar ghost story set in an empty orphanage. Nothing like the director's best-known film, Martyrs, but closer to Del Toro playing with the ideas seen in Japanese Dark Water.

Smile Before Death is yet another Giallo that offers very little new to the genre (or its niche within the genre as there seems to be more than one formula to bake a Giallo). Quite a bit of skin but low on violence. Nobody seems to be a well-liked film, but I wasn't too impressed. It's a B-tier John Wick, Equilibrium, and Kick-Ass rip-off that lacks the best aspects of them all.

It's scary that Krull is a big-budget fantasy epic only 18 years older than the first Lord of the Rings film. Seeing Tolkien's work in an adaptation like this is the stuff of nightmares. The script is like a 101 on how not to write an adventure for your TTRPG.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was better than the first Doctor Strange, but that's not saying much. Few cool visuals aside, it was a soulless and dull affair. Olsen hasn't enough charisma to be the main villain. The only redeeming quality here is an interesting socio-political interpretation I kept seeing the whole time (Wanda and Darkhold are modern feminism and its byproducts, and in the end, America is saved from them through their self-realization that they've become monsters), but the film is still weakish.



Catacombs is an average monastery horror. Like a combination of The Church and The Keep. The ending is really poor, though, and it actually dropped my rating by half a point.
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11 Foreign Language movies to go

By The poster art can or could be obtained from the distributor., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43826067

Force Majeure - (2014)

Okay, I'm getting pretty spoiled lately with films at the very upper scale of quality and interest. Now Force Majeure enters the picture, directed by The Square's Ruben ÷stlund. If I were to say that it's a film about the aftermath of an avalanche at a ski resort on the French alps, you might think I'm talking about disaster and being being dug up and rescued - but not at all. This is about the reaction of a family to a terrifying event, which has it's own metaphorical kind of avalanche trailing in it's wake. Before the film is out you'll see people absolutely emotionally destroyed as they find out more about themselves - and you'll also think of yourself, and put yourself in the shoes of nearly all the characters. Do split-second decisions reveal more about your character than the more measured, pre-thought out ones? Do all of us have the same instincts? What does it mean to be a man? To be a protector of a family? The emotional unpacking, which is done while astonishing visual backdrops are sublimely caught on camera, catches you as a kind of car crash you simply can't look away from for a moment. When Force Majeure ended I thought to myself that I'd found another great movie - of which I've watched a few of in the last week.

9/10


By It is believed that the cover art can or could be obtained from the publisher or studio., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10053580

The Wedding Party - (1969)

This I knew wasn't going to be great. I don't know why I watched it - I was curious I suppose, and didn't want to feel overwhelmed with cinematic greatness. The Wedding Party was filmed while Brian De Palma was still basically a student, and was directed in part by Wilford Leach and Cynthia Munroe also. The parts of it that don't work (most of it) are interminably boring - ad-libbing that lacks any entertainment value, by actors who are trying their best but are inexperienced. One of them is Robert De Niro, and another William Finley (who never appeared in much, but of whom I've seen twice recently - and a favourite of mine.) Through inventive editing (and post-production work) there is an attempt to save this movie - and sometimes it comes close to working - but it rarely lifts this above the mediocre. It was filmed in 1963, but not released until 1969, after De Palma had started releasing promising features like Greetings.

3/10
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Yep, that about sums it up.
And like you say, I was really impressed with Lindhome. I think if I was a filmmaker, I'd get her in my stable of actors.
Also, I have to say,
WARNING: "MAJOR spoiler... THE spoiler" spoilers below
I normally hate it when something appears to be supernatural and it turns out to be some dude or whatever, they usually pisses me off immensely, but I think Cummings pulled it off really well here and I was totally satisfied with the film.
Agreed about
WARNING: spoilers below
the ending. I don't have that strong of feelings about...for lack of a better phrase, Scooby Doo endings as you do, but I believe it's the ending the movie deserves.

Just curious, since he's from New Orleans, is he a local celebrity? Is there an official Jim Cummings Day? I mean, there should be.




By The poster art can or could be obtained from the distributor., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43826067

Force Majeure - (2014)

Okay, I'm getting pretty spoiled lately with films at the very upper scale of quality and interest. Now Force Majeure enters the picture, directed by The Square's Ruben ÷stlund. . . . When Force Majeure ended I thought to myself that I'd found another great movie - of which I've watched a few of in the last week.

9/10
It is so good. And so funny. It's been a while, but whatever the sequence is where he's like sobbing (in a hallway?) going
WARNING: spoilers below
"I don't WANT to be a coward!" as if he's the victim.



Professional horse shoe straightener

By The poster art can or could be obtained from the distributor., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43826067

Force Majeure - (2014)

Okay, I'm getting pretty spoiled lately with films at the very upper scale of quality and interest. Now Force Majeure enters the picture, directed by The Square's Ruben ÷stlund. If I were to say that it's a film about the aftermath of an avalanche at a ski resort on the French alps, you might think I'm talking about disaster and being being dug up and rescued - but not at all. This is about the reaction of a family to a terrifying event, which has it's own metaphorical kind of avalanche trailing in it's wake. Before the film is out you'll see people absolutely emotionally destroyed as they find out more about themselves - and you'll also think of yourself, and put yourself in the shoes of nearly all the characters. Do split-second decisions reveal more about your character than the more measured, pre-thought out ones? Do all of us have the same instincts? What does it mean to be a man? To be a protector of a family? The emotional unpacking, which is done while astonishing visual backdrops are sublimely caught on camera, catches you as a kind of car crash you simply can't look away from for a moment. When Force Majeure ended I thought to myself that I'd found another great movie - of which I've watched a few of in the last week.

9/10
Great film. Ostlund is one of my favourite directors working. He just won his 2nd Palm D'Or for his new film 'Triangle of Sadness'. The way he tells stories of morals, ethics and dilemmas is incredible. His film 'Involuntary' is worth checking out if you haven't.



11 Foreign Language movies to go
It is so good. And so funny. It's been a while, but whatever the sequence is where he's like sobbing (in a hallway?) going
WARNING: spoilers below
"I don't WANT to be a coward!" as if he's the victim.
In an open hallway with concert hall-like acoustics, and he's sobbing like a hurt donkey - but his audience, although admittedly probably large, has as it's most visible member the vacuum cleaner guy who seems like he's stumbled into something truly bizarre and wonderous during his many brushes with the family vacationing there.

Great film. Ostlund is one of my favourite directors working. He just won his 2nd Palm D'Or for his new film 'Triangle of Sadness'. The way he tells stories of morals, ethics and dilemmas is incredible. His film 'Involuntary' is worth checking out if you haven't.
This is great. I really look forward to seeing Triangle of Sadness (cinematically, it's not opening here until December 22 ) - and I'll check out Involuntary and the rest of ÷stlund's oeuvre. He's fast becoming a favourite of mine.



Victim of The Night

It's scary that Krull is a big-budget fantasy epic only 18 years older than the first Lord of the Rings film. Seeing Tolkien's work in an adaptation like this is the stuff of nightmares. The script is like a 101 on how not to write an adventure for your TTRPG.
I love Krull. Goofy fun. Plus really young Liam Neeson.



Victim of The Night
Just curious, since he's from New Orleans, is he a local celebrity? Is there an official Jim Cummings Day? I mean, there should be.
Amusingly, not enough that I even knew he was from New Orleans.



So disappointing & underwhelming.
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Amusingly, not enough that I even knew he was from New Orleans.
Uh...well, you do now, don't you?

He's become as much of a must-see filmmaker to me as Taika Waititi and Denis Villeneuve. Unless it's for his own idea, let's hope he avoids the sway of Disney's deep pockets as long as possible.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Nina Wu (Midi Z, 2019)
+ 6/10
The Lost Girls (Livia De Paolis, 2022)
4/10
Mr. Skeffington (Vincent Sherman, 1944)
6+/10
Jerry and Marge Go Large (David Frankel, 2022)
- 6.5/10

Retired married couple Bryan Cranston & Annette Bening find a flaw in a lottery and use it to make millions for themselves and their dying town, but complications arise.
All We Had (Katie Holmes, 2016)
5.5/10
Mid-Century (Sonja O'Hara, 2022)
4/10
Gay Purr-ee (Abe Levitow, 1962)
6+/10
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Sophie Hyde, 2022)
6.5/10

Repressed widow teacher Emma Thompson feels it's time to have some good sex, so she hires highly-regarded sex worker Daryl McCormack to accomplish that, but things get deeper.
Winter adť (Helke Misselwitz, 1989)
6.5/10
The Walk (Daniel Adams, 2022)
5/10
Plan 9 from Outer Space (Edward D. Wood Jr., 1957)
4/10 Camp Rating 10/10
Cha Cha Real Smooth (Cooper Raiff, 2022)
6/10

Bar Mitzvah party host Cooper Raiff develops a close relationship with "engaged" Dakota Johnson and her autistic daughter (Vanessa Burghardt).
The Wild, Wild Planet (Antonio Margheriti, 1966)
+ 4.5/10 Camp Rating 7/10
Our Bodies Are Your Battlefields (Isabelle Solas, 2021)
6.5/10
Catalina Caper (Lee Sholem, 1967)
4-/10
The Beatles and India (Ajoy Bose & Peter Compton, 2021)
6.5/10

Told mostly from an Indian perspective, detailed look at the Beatles time in India in the mid-'60s with some never-before released footage and audio.
Gaslit (Matt Ross, 2022)
6.5/10
The Man from Toronto (Patrick Hughes, 2022)
6/10
Born Reckless (Howard W. Koch, 1958)
5/10
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (Junta Yamaguchi, 2020)
6.5/10

Cafe owner Kazunari Tosa learns that his TV shows exactly two minutes into the future, so as things progress in this clever sci-fi, things get way out of hand.
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THE HOUSE IS BLACK
(1963, Farrokhzad)



"There is no shortage of ugliness in the world, but by closing our eyes on ugliness, we will intensify it."

Written and directed by Forugh Farrokhzad, The House Is Black is a documentary that follows life at a leper colony in rural Iran. It features footage of various residents going on about their daily routines while contrasting it with frequent narration of quotes from the Bible or the Qur'an by Farrokhzad herself; quotes that often, like the one above, clash with the visuals of the film.

When I watched this a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what it was about; didn't even know it was a documentary, so it caught me by surprise. But then again, I suppose that's the intention. Per the opening quote, it's obvious that Farrokhzad's intention was to open our eyes to this "ugliness", and let us know that there are ways to remedy it, but moreover, that there is still beauty in it.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot and the 5th Short HoF thread
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By "Copyright 1950 Paramount Pictures Corporation" - Scan via Heritage Auctions. Cropped from the original image., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/inde...curid=85715545

Sunset Boulevard - (1950)

This always stuck out as one of the all time greats that I hadn't seen - but from last night I can cross it off the list, and oh boy, I had a great time with it. I never knew much about it, for as time went on I avoided learning anything at all so I could go into it completely fresh and unexpectant. I did not know the story would focus solely on a relationship between the 'hard on his luck' Joe Gillis (William Holden) and faded silent screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) - I thought the plot would be more intricate. This simplicity is right up my alley, and I found there was a gold mine in the camera's withering, unflattering gaze at a guy doing something morally objectionable, and a lady not wanting to let go of a gloried past. I was especially shocked to suddenly find Buster Keaton during the card game scene. I loved Sunset Boulevard more than words can say, and far more than I was expecting to, despite it's reputation.

10/10
Love this!



Rovdyr (2008)

+


Norwegian horror, with a very original plot-4 twenty somethings on their way to a trip in the middle of nowhere encounter psychotic hillbillies who want to kill them. Of course our 4 potential victims stop at a creepy diner/gas station and have an intense encounter with the locals and give a frightened girl a ride beforehand. Honestly this could be the plot for every single movie and I'd be fine with it. Seriously though I did wonder why there was no attempt at originality or a real storyline because this was pretty good for fans of backwoods horror.