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The Wicker Man

One of the most anti religion movies i ever seen. In the end, the religion or the believe system of the majority wins by force and your god and your belief system won't save you because...wait for it (*drum roll*)'s all made up. Next time, bring the guns, Commando style.

The Bib-iest of Nickels
I watched Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter to commemorate Friday.

To my surprise, it was actually, by a fair margin, my favorite of the series so far in my re-watch. I have been revisiting them so I could log my reviews and, after the first three, I took like three years off from that marathon, haha. I enjoyed the fourth enough that I watched Friday the 13th: A new Beginning yesterday, ... and, uh, that one returned things to the status quo of mediocrity.

Up the Junction (1968)

A bit kitchen sink and a bit swinging 60's, a bit late for both I think. Likeable characters. Polly decides to take up a manual job and gets enamoured by her workmates and Pete. Pete's a cockney diamond (very well played by Dennis Waterman) but the fact that Polly has *chosen* rather than has to basically exist causes troubles. Music and eye shadow are quite annoying but it's still a nice portrait of late 60s attitudes towards the class system.

The Bib-iest of Nickels
I watched Beetlejuice, and it actually may have been for the first time. I know I had seen a ton of scenes over the years and, chances are, I most likely watched it from start to finish as a kid and forgot about it, but I found that when I watched it this time I realized what I vaguely thought the film was about, it largely wasn't.

Good film. It does kind of, sort of run out of steam by the end, but the first half and then some was very good. It's always easy to forget what a fun, innovative filmmaker Tim Burton was.

Strays (2023)

I had a feeling this would be awful, but not this bad. The trailer looked kinda funny, but this was the worst, most immature movie I've seen in years. I laughed once or twice, but shit and dick jokes can only work for so long. Definitely deserving of the poor box office showing it had.

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Ironweed - (1987)

Francis Phelan (Jack Nicholson) was drunk when he accidentally dropped his baby boy, killing him when he was only 13 days old. 22 years later, after abandoning his family because of the grief and shame, he wanders about town - a drunken bum, eating at soup kitchens, finding scraps of work here and there, and looking out for his companion, Helen Archer (Meryl Streep). Helen is sick, and lives a similar kind of life - but she was once a talented musician and singer. Ironweed sees these characters taking stock, remembering their former lives, and fending off ghosts and visions of a different reality. It really touched me - and I'm surprised to find that it's rarely talked about or seen today. Perhaps that's because it indeed is depressing - but seeing Francis walk about his old neighborhood remembering, and then visiting his family after being gone for so long, is so touching it makes up for the dour tone. Have these characters resorted to booze because their lives are so tough, or are their lives that tough because they've resorted to booze? It's a vicious cycle. Tom Waits proves that he's just an all-round talent in this as bum (what else?) Rudy. Nicholson and Streep - of course they're brilliant. They're two of the greatest. Looks like I've been missing out, not reading any of William Kennedy's novels - he adapted his own work here. Sad, and melancholy.


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A Time to Kill - (1996)

Pardon the expression, but A Time to Kill is like a courtroom drama on crack. Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) takes out the two misanthropes who raped his 10-year-old daughter with an automatic, permanently disabling Deputy Sheriff Dwayne Looney (Chris Cooper) in the process. Lawyer Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) takes the case - knowing that the prospect of a fair trial in Mississippi, for a black man killing two white men, is going to be a tall order. Enter Freddie Lee Cobb (Kiefer Sutherland), brother of one of the dead men, and the Ku Klux Klan. I tell you, in this movie everyone gets a terrible beating, everyone gets their house burned down, everyone gets kidnapped at some stage, and everyone gets shot at least once. The town descends into war, as Brigance takes on stuffy prosecutor Rufus Buckley (Kevin Spacey) with the help of progressive advocate Ellen Roark (Sandra Bullock) - suffering setback after setback, and leaving, as his last resort, his final summation. Donald Sutherland pokes his head in from time to time as Brigance's mentor, but shares no scenes with his son. A Time to Kill goes for two and a half hours, and gets so heavy-handed in it's noble desire to shoot down racism and inequality that I think it might backfire just a little. But boy oh boy, it sure isn't boring.

Love these two movies...Streep is especially brilliant in Ironweed and A Time to Kill was McConaughey's strongest performance until Dallas Buyer's Club. Loved Samuel L Jackson and Keifer Sutherland in that one too. I guess I liked it a little more than you did, because the film never felt overllong to me.

Strays (2023)

I had a feeling this would be awful, but not this bad. The trailer looked kinda funny, but this was the worst, most immature movie I've seen in years. I laughed once or twice, but shit and dick jokes can only work for so long. Definitely deserving of the poor box office showing it had.
OMG, I LOVED this movie.

4th Rewatch...One of the best romantic comedies of the 1970's. Seven years after becoming a movie star in Deliverance, Burt Reynolds proved he was more than a good ol' boy action hero in this intelligent and witty romantic comedy that should have earned Reynolds his first Oscar nomination. He plays a divorced writer who begins a relationship with a slightly neurotic teacher (Jill Clayburgh) and then realizes he still has feelings for his ex (Candice Bergen). Reynolds delivers a performance of real substance here and ironically, both of his leading ladies received Oscar nominations and he was overlooked. The film is really anchored by a deft screenplay by Dan Wakefield and James L Brooks and polished direction by veteran Alan J Pakula. That Thanksgiving Dinner scene works because of Pakula. And don't forget those delicious scenes with the divorced men's workshop featuring Austin Pendleton, Wallace Shawn, Alfie Wise, and Jay O Sanders among others Love this movie.

The Creator (2023)

Are we done with John David Washington trying to act? He's been given his fair share of chances.
His reverse game is pretty sweet.

13. The Invisible Man Appears (1949/Blu Ray)

This is a Japanese film about a man who is coerced into taking an invisibility potion and using this power to steal a priceless diamond necklace.

As a big fan of Universal's Invisible Man series, I think that this is a decent spin on the concept. It starts out with the obvious set-up of a villain coveting a rare piece of jewelry and then learning of an invisibility formula. From there, it gets more complicated as there is a love triangle, false identities, multiple theft attempts, and the central mystery of who the invisible man really is. The invisible man first shows up without any explanation, which made me think I missed something, but there are flashbacks later that clear up the details.

I ended up liking how the invisible man's backstory plays out. An ambitious man is forced into a life of crime in exchange for the antidote to his invisible state. Like in the 1933 Universal film, the formula has the side effect of making its subject increasingly violent. There's a great scene toward the end where a rival scientist has to subtly turn down a woman's advances because the invisible man loves her and is in the room.

The special effects of The Invisible Man Appears don't quite live up to the Universal films despite releasing over a decade later. The filmmakers here used some of the same effects, but they aren't as seamless. They do the floating cigarette, the chair seat being pressed down, and the head unwrapping, but they are all choppier and have some weird distortions.

Overall, I think fans of the Universal series would enjoy this.

14. The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly (1957/Blu Ray)

Police are baffled by a string of murders with no evidence. After one victim hears a buzzing noise and another points to something flying away, someone theorizes that maybe the killer is a fly-sized assassin. The idea is laughed off until the bodies start stacking up.

This film doesn't have any story connections to Appears and is a much campier affair. The murder scenes are a bit creepy at first, but become laughable once the human fly is revealed. I was expecting some human/fly combination, but it's actually a tiny person swimming through the air.

Human invisibility comes into play because the human fly wants the machine that can turn things invisible, while the police are using it to try to apprehend him. That being said, this isn't the monster battle that some might expect based on the title. It's a crime drama with some cheesy sci-fi elements. It's amusing, but not spectacular.

1st Rewatch...This is an uncompromising and totally riveting look at the end of a marriage that was even a richer experience the second time I watched it. This time around, I did find a deeper understanding to the title...even though this story is about a very ugly divorce, this very ugly divorce is happening between two people who still really love each other, despite the often ugly things that they say to each other and what happen in the courtroom. If the truth be known, Adam Driver's extraordinary performance as Charlie Barber is worth the price of admission alone.

1st Rewatch...As I rewatched this film for the first time in over a decade, I realize I might have been a little hard on it. Yes, the screenplay is still a little on the rambling side, but I also realized there was a plot twist or two that I missed the first time that brought a couple of extra layers to the story that I hadn't seen before. Film editor Lee Haxall also deserves a shout out. The terrific ensemble cast is so good though that it's pretty easy to forgive the story imperfections. Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore are wonderful anchors to the story and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone displayed their onscreen chemistry here long before La La Land. I'm upping my original rating slightly.

1st Rewatch...This lavishly produced miniseries, originally broadcast on NBC is the fact-based story of a sociopathic con man named Joe Hunt who organizes an elaborate scam to con millions of dollars out of wealthy executives and employees families that eventually goes sour to the point where Hunt has to commit two murders to keep his business afloat. The scripting is slightly overly complex and continuity freaks will notice a lot conveniently lazy police procedures going on , but this is a riveting three hours thanks to the bone-chilling performance by Judd Nelson as Joe Hunt, that earned him a Golden Globe nomination and earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Miniseries.

I forgot the opening line.

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Coma - (1978)

I'm old enough to be vaguely aware of when Coma was released, or at least shown on television, but I'd never seen it before. It's actually pretty similar to a film I just watched a few days ago - Extreme Measures. A medical thriller, with all of the elements we're familiar with today. Good lord though - main character Dr. Susan Wheeler (GeneviŤve Bujold) makes some terrible decisions, such as confiding in a person that's obviously a villain. It all starts when the doctor, working at Boston Memorial Hospital, notices that seemingly healthy people are falling into irreversible comas (one of whom is a young Tom Selleck). When she tries to find out way, she's met with stubborn resistance all the way. Soon there's somebody trying to kill her, and she has to find out why before she meets with a terrible "accident", like the last person who found out. Some great acting talent backs Bujold up - Michael Douglas as her surgeon partner, Richard Widmark as the chief of surgery and Rip Torn. In much smaller, "before they were really famous" cameo roles we can spot Ed Harris, Lois Chiles and Philip Baker Hall. A really top-notch mystery kind of deal. Michael Crichton directed, following up his good work on Westworld. The genre became trashy after the formula was repeated ad nauseum, but here it feels fresh and everything is given a straight-faced, "this could really happen!" vibe. It couldn't though. It's a little bit silly. But I enjoyed it.


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Snow Falling on Cedars - (1999)

Here's another film which has it's heart in the right place, but can't help constantly telling us straight-up that "racism is bad" in a heavy-handed kind of way, instead of using a light touch. The time is shortly after WWII. Kabuo Miyamoto (Rick Yune) is on trial for the murder of a local fisherman. His wife, Hatsue (Youki Kudoh) begs the local reporter (and former lover) Ishmael Chambers (Ethan Hawke) to profess his obvious innocence. Trouble is, San Piedro Island is extraordinarily anti-Japanese, and has been ever since Pearl Harbor - and Ishmael, whose father was ruined because of his pro-Japanese stance, is filled with hate after being spurned by his former lover. We experience some of what the Japanese themselves experienced when war broke out - sent into internment camps, humiliated, robbed of their precious belonging - they were the subject of vile taunts and abuse. Max von Sydow is really great here, as defense attorney Nels Gudmundsson. There are many scenes that will remind you of Terrence Malick - so much that it can't be a coincidence. The cinematography is handled by 3-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson, who was nominated for this film. A slow snowy non-linear day-dream of a movie.


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Captain Fantastic - (2016)

Rewatch. Captain Fantastic is fantastic. Viggo Mortensen really inhabits his role as unconventional father Ben Cash, raising his six children as survivalists with a bristling knowledge of philosophy, history and literature. When his wife, and their mother, dies, they have to travel into the modern world where they all stick out as exceedingly different - to confront his in-laws (played by a memorable Frank Langella and Ann Dowd). This is the kind of movie that asks a lot of questions - about how kids are raised these days, society and our "keep us safe!" protective, entitled and chubby world. I don't know where on the spectrum the answers are though - that's a very tough matter to resolve for ourselves, never mind find a consensus on.


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BlacKkKlansman - (2018)

Rewatch. That retelling of the lynching of Jesse Washington gets me every time. Shocking, brutally cruel, and beyond belief. Something of a reminder what we're really delving into during this lighter look at Ron Stallworth's memoir. Uncompromising, and on target.

Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.
Please come back Takoma

Latest Review : Red Rock West (1993)


SF = Z

[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it

Violent Night (2022)


It lives up to its title, and although I happen to prefer violent movies, as I get older I'm not as into violence played for fun and laughs. This was better than I had expected and should become a Christmas movie staple for many. The cast does well and it's full of action and humor. There are numerous references to both Die Hard and Die Hard 2, and I also noticed a little bit of Home Alone in there. Beverly D' Angelo (Christmas Vacation) is one of its stars. Solid mindless entertainment.

I forgot the opening line.

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Lean on Me - (1989)

There's not much restraint when it comes to anything with Lean on Me. When Eastside High School descends into 1980s chaos, drug dealers openly sell their wares, there are stabbings in every corridor, people are ripping the tops and bras off hysterical female students and teachers are needing paramedics to rush them to hospital. When Joe Louis Clark (Morgan Freeman) is done with the place, all of the angelic students move and talk as one, as if they're now in some kind of cult. That's just the language of movies I guess - points must be made and there's never much time to do anything but blast out that message. That message here seems to be "let our educators get tough" - on more than just the students. I have no idea about any of it. As long as I don't have to watch stabbings and kids overdosing, and can watch cheerful kids graduating and high-fiving their teacher instead. Lean on Me does that - but I expect the real story was more layered and complex. So the movie makes me feel good, but I don't take much away from it - it's too simplistic and paints with broad strokes.


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The Crime is Mine - (2023)

A light comedy here from FranÁois Ozon, and it may have been me, but I was pretty much fighting to stay awake during this film's final act. I should know better - I struggled with See How They Run, which has that same kind of genre-specific, staid and dry comedy. Madeleine Verdier (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) voluntarily takes the blame for a murder she didn't commit to improve her career - until one day the real murderer arrives on the scene demanding credit for her handiwork. There are a few really funny moments, but a lot didn't translate for me. Everything is kept very just-so and nothing is being stretched or tested - it's a very polite kind of comedy and I just grew weary of it. A movie has to pick me up and shake me if I'm not to just drift off somewhere else...


Us (2019)

Tis the season for scary movies...a rewatch and my opinion is the same on this one. Good suspense building, and the plot is intriguing. Something just feels empty about the film overall though.