Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Joker (2019)
Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Brilliant first hour! The film held me spellbound like few films do. I was very focused on the story of the mentally ill Arthur Fleck and his continual downward spiral into something very dark and disturbing. And yet I liked Arthur, or at least I had great sympathy for him. In the first hour of the film three key ingredients came together: a disturbing story of the ultimate underdog...and a music score that accentuated the emotions of the scenes...and the third key component is Joaquin Phoenix who in my opinion is the best actor working today. Phoenix is able to dive into his roles and bring a resonances that makes us believe his angst, even when his character is unsavory as is the Joker. That first hour gets a 5/5+ rating. And Phoenix well deserved the Oscar for Best Actor.

However, and you know there had to be a however! Like most all blockbuster Hollywood movies Joker goes to far over the top and lost it's balance in my eyes in the second half. The first killings in the subway was justifiable (in movie standards) as Arthur had just been attacked and beaten. But the next two killings were more for shock value and gore and lost any empathy I had for the character. I get it that the target audience like that type of shock/gore, but it's too bad because what I seen building in the first hour was washed away by the super-hero movie craze of the second half.

Don't get me wrong there was still moments of genius in the second half but to much of it relayed on Scorsese's The King of Comedy (1982). I couldn't believe how similar the two were. Now if someone tells me the director/writer Todd Phillips was a fan of The King of Comedy and was paying homage to it...then cool. But otherwise it looks pretty close to plagiarisms to me. Maybe not by legal standards but as far as creative script writing goes, pffft.

I rate the second half at 3/5

I'll balance out the two ratings and my official rating:

Interesting review...I agree with a lot of what you've said here, but I definitely liked it a lot more than you did.



Interesting review...I agree with a lot of what you've said here, but I definitely liked it a lot more than you did.
I just read your review of Joker and even though you gave it a half popcorn more than me, it sounded like we're on the same page.



Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Director: Robert Aldrich
Writers: Mickey Spillane(novel), A.I. Bezzerides(screenplay)
Cast: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart
Genre: Film Noir


About: An ill fated woman stranded on a loan road during the middle of the night, has a chance encounter with detective Mike Hammer. Her strange story pulls the detective into a convoluted mystery, involving suspicious people and a glowing box.

Review: I love that ending! It's fun! it's ripped right out of the pages of an old pulp fiction magazine. Some classic director, I forget who, once said whatever you do with your movie make sure the ending wows them, that's what the audiences remember, the ending. Damn straight! and I always remember the ending to Kiss Me Deadly.

You know this movie isn't as polished as the really well known noirs. If Sunset Blvd or The Sweet Smell of Success was a rock band, they'd be a polished band that had been making music long enough to get every last note perfect...But Kiss Me Deadly is like a garage band, raw, ballsy and with lots of off notes. It ain't polished, but brother it rocks!

Ralph Meeker made a really good Mike Hammer. Mike Hammer has been played by other actors, but Ralph Meeker really nailed the no non-sense detective.

In some ways these really raw noirs are my favorites, they risk more and they're just flat out fun. This one was made for a shoe string budget and shot in only 3 weeks. It's not polished but there's something special about it's energy.

Gave it 4/5 as well, unless there's another 'what's in the box' set-up film before this one, I suspect it inspired; Raiders of the Last Ark, Pulp Fiction and Se7en.



Gave it 4/5 as well, unless there's another 'what's in the box' set-up film before this one, I suspect it inspired; Raiders of the Last Ark, Pulp Fiction and Se7en.
I think you're right! I can't think of any earlier what's in the box, well except the Greek story Pandora's box.

Did you know there's two different endings for Kiss Me Deadly? If you have the DVD it should have the alternative ending in it.



I think you're right! I can't think of any earlier what's in the box, well except the Greek story Pandora's box.

Did you know there's two different endings for Kiss Me Deadly? If you have the DVD it should have the alternative ending in it.
Didn't know that, I saw the ending;
WARNING: "Kiss Me Deadly" spoilers below
the protagonist saves the girl..the beach house blows up, roll credits.
What happens in the alternate ending?



Didn't know that, I saw the ending;
WARNING: "Kiss Me Deadly" spoilers below
the protagonist saves the girl..the beach house blows up, roll credits.
What happens in the alternate ending?
WARNING: "ending" spoilers below
The bomb goes off and they all die.




Come and See (1985)
Idi i smotri (original title)
Director: Elem Klimov
Cast: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius
Genre: Drama, War
Country: Russia

During WWII, A young boy finds an old rifle buried in the sand he joins the Soviet resistances. He is forced to endure many horrors at the hands of the Nazi forces.


Come and See...is a heavy handed Soviet propaganda film about as subtle as a bottle of Smirnoff served in a dirty glass.

I tried watching this movie years ago but couldn't get past the opening scene of an old man yelling at a boy digging in the sand. The boy sounds like a half-crazed, possessed demon. Talk about grating on the nerves.

But this time I did watch the entire film...and after the opening scene the movie actually got much better. The scenes from where the boy is at his families cabin...then joins the partisan fighters where he's put onto guard duty and then left behind in camp...when all of a sudden the woods around him begin to explode...was some of the best film making I've seen! My gaze was fixed on the screen and I scantly breathed, that's how engrossed in the film I was. At that point I really though Come and See would be at favorite.

Then the film tries to get artsy. We get elements randomly included that's suppose to make the un-skeptical convinced that this is high art. Sorry folks, but tying a stork to a tree in the middle of the woods or placing a cute lemur on the shoulder of a soldier is not art. Neither is the often repeated shot of the plane in the sky. This is where the film started to lose me with it's forced creativity and scenes that were slow as molasses.

But what sank this film is the final act, when German soldiers surround a small country village, rounding up the people into a wooden barn, then with as much joy and demonic pleasure as the film makers can show, burn the people alive. All the German soldiers are character parodies, looking like they're fresh out of a Monty Python skit. It's a ridiculously staged scene for what should be a somber event.

That scene is where the iron arm of the Soviet Union runs rickshaw over the story line. German soldiers are shown tutoring the Russian peasants. The solders jump around with clown like joy as the building burns with the people inside. Then just to make sure we know the German soldiers are the bad guys, they also machine gun the building and also through hand grenades into it...and like that wasn't enough, then they use a flame thrower on a building that is already engulfed in flames.

A few scenes latter and the triumph Russians partisans have some how managed to conquer and capture the Germans. The film makers then have a SS man give his hate spew on how all Russians and all inferior nations must be exterminated like vermin...

The German soldiers in the film are full of race hatred...and that's when it occurred to me, that the very thing this film seeks to show, is itself guilty of!

Not one of the German soldiers are shown to be human, not one of them is shown to be reluctant to follow orders to burn alive men women and children.

I've never seen a film that was more one sided and propagandist.

I know this is super old, but wow I am shocked by your rating! I just watched it and was blown away by every aspect.

I think you bring up some legitimately good points about the possible hypocrisy of this movie... and while yes I suppose some of the grins and laughs of the German soldiers could have been exaggerated, I remember reading that ďan elderly German said: ĎI was a soldier of the Wehrmacht; moreover, an officer of the Wehrmacht. I traveled through all of Poland and Belarus, finally reaching Ukraine. I will testify: everything that is told in this film is the truth. And the most frightening and shameful thing for me is that this film will be seen by my children and grandchildren.íĒ

Obviously not saying that that one German soldier is the 100% fact, but I think what you classified as cheese might actually be something so horrific as to be nearly comical.*

Itís also regarded as one of the most historically accurate war movies ever made.

But I mean, your points are totally fair! Not trying to change your opinion or anything, just brought up some stuff I read/thought about you might find interesting



I know this is super old, but wow I am shocked by your rating! I just watched it and was blown away by every aspect.

Obviously not saying that that one German soldier is the 100% fact, but I think what you classified as cheese might actually be something so horrific as to be nearly comical.*

But I mean, your points are totally fair! Not trying to change your opinion or anything, just brought up some stuff I read/thought about you might find interesting
No worries about trying to change my opinion In fact my opinion is never set in stone, so maybe one day my opinion will change about Come and See. It's been a very long time since I seen it, in the WWII Hof.

Maybe if I rewatched it I would like it more, but like I said in my review right at the get go with the weird voice coming out of the kid, the movie just rubbed me wrong, which then put me into a pissed off mood throughout the entire film. What I meant by cheese was the German soldiers acted silly and not in a believable way. I don't mean the actions they take, I mean their facial expressions and demeanor.

It's funny people will hate on Saving Private Ryan calling it 'American war propaganda', while Come and See is way more propagandist than Saving Private Ryan ever was.



No worries about trying to change my opinion In fact my opinion is never set in stone, so maybe one day my opinion will change about Come and See. It's been a very long time since I seen it, in the WWII Hof.

Maybe if I rewatched it I would like it more, but like I said in my review right at the get go with the weird voice coming out of the kid, the movie just rubbed me wrong, which then put me into a pissed off mood throughout the entire film. What I meant by cheese was the German soldiers acted silly and not in a believable way. I don't mean the actions they take, I mean their facial expressions and demeanor.

It's funny people will hate on Saving Private Ryan calling it 'American war propaganda', while Come and See is way more propagandist than Saving Private Ryan ever was.
Oh, the facial expressions. Yeah, I mean there were a couple shots that could come across like that. And yeah lmao that weird opening scene!!! I thought I wouldnít love it after that too.

Havenít seen Saving Private Ryan but had no idea people consider it propaganda?? Even so, there are some types of propaganda that get a pass from me - I guess Come and See counts as one, since I see it as very accurate and important, and definitely Battleship Potemkin because holy smokes the innovation of that film!



Oh, the facial expressions. Yeah, I mean there were a couple shots that could come across like that. And yeah lmao that weird opening scene!!! I thought I wouldnít love it after that too.

Havenít seen Saving Private Ryan but had no idea people consider it propaganda?? Even so, there are some types of propaganda that get a pass from me - I guess Come and See counts as one, since I see it as very accurate and important, and definitely Battleship Potemkin because holy smokes the innovation of that film!
Some MoFos like to dump on Saving Private Ryan and I expect that's because it's an American made war film with Americans as the good guys...and that doesn't set well with angst-attitude towards mainstream 'Hollywood films' crowd. Also because Spielberg made it, which is often enough for some to turn their noses up to it. I've only seen Saving Private Ryan once like 20 years ago, but it made an impact on me.

Oh, there's one scene in Come and See that's exceptional well done, when the boy and the girl are alone in the woods after he's become lost...and a big bomb goes off, temporarily deafen them. I love the way the film's soundtrack used a high pitch squeal to make that ringing in the ears seem real.



Some MoFos like to dump on Saving Private Ryan and I expect that's because it's an American made war film with Americans as the good guys...and that doesn't set well with angst-attitude towards mainstream 'Hollywood films' crowd. Also because Spielberg made it, which is often enough for some to turn their noses up to it. I've only seen Saving Private Ryan once like 20 years ago, but it made an impact on me.

Oh, there's one scene in Come and See that's exceptional well done, when the boy and the girl are alone in the woods after he's become lost...and a big bomb goes off, temporarily deafen them. I love the way the film's soundtrack used a high pitch squeal to make that ringing in the ears seem real.
oh yeah that scene was so intense. What did you think of the use of footage at the end? I could see people having a problem with it but I thought it was real well done.
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oh yeah that scene was so intense. What did you think of the use of footage at the end? I could see people having a problem with it but I thought it was real well done.
Gosh, I don't remember that scene. I remember the Russian survivors huddle together in a swamp area, and of course the Germans burning them in their village. But I'm drawing a blank on the end scene.



Gosh, I don't remember that scene. I remember the Russian survivors huddle together in a swamp area, and of course the Germans burning them in their village. But I'm drawing a blank on the end scene.


Thatís the scene I was referring to.



Thatís the scene I was referring to.
I had to sign into Youtube to confirm my age, just to see that I kinda thought that's what you meant.. Gross, but I've seen footage like that a lot in WWII documentaries. I guess it adds a point that the Nazis were bad.




Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018)

A bit long in the tooth. I did like the first 1/3rd of the film where we meet a young Freddie Mercury and learn of family origins and of his chance encounter that brought him from airport luggage handler to lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands of all time. But I couldn't help but think that Rami Malek would have made a great Mick Jagger. In fact I kept seeing Mick in the early part of the film and not Freddie. But once the film progressed to where Mercury gets his trademark short hair and mustache look, he seemed more like the real deal.

IMO they overdid the prosthetic choppers. Yeah I know Freddie Mercury had an overbite but the prosthetic teeth looked fake to me and distracted me quite a bit. Even worse I started noticing that the actor had problems wearing them as in some scenes he would roll his upper lip down as if the fake teeth where bugging him. That didn't appear to be part of the acting either, but a naturalistic response by the actor to those huge choppers.

I have to say that I got bored in the middle of the film when it relied more on montage stage performances, than character/story building scenes. That felt like lazy film making. Though the Live Aid scenes that came at the end, did make up for some of the lackluster script...I got to believe the real Freddie Mercury had a BIG story to tell, sadly we only got a glimpse of that story here in what might be described as movie-making-by-the-numbers.

I just saw this yesterday - good review.

It made me wonder why there are always so many repeated cliches in the lives and careers of rock stars?

I mean, we understand the booze & drugs and apparent infidelity that comes with money, sudden success and life on the road, but things like the aberrant outsider who works their way in, has undue influence over the lead singer and tears up the band - Queen had "Paul," the Beach Boys had "Landy" and the Beatles had "Yoko"!

Rami did a great job, (I liked your comments about the teeth - and I didn't know if that was a mannerism of the real Freddie Mercury with his own choppers or if Rami was reacting to the fake teeth). One way Rami didn't look like Freddie was the eyes (what with Rami's uniquely bulging peepers) - in this respect the real Freddie was more handsome than Rami.

Also - spent the movie trying to figure out if that was Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon - it was: he and Rami starred together in the Band of Brothers companion series: The Pacific.



I just saw this yesterday - good review.

It made me wonder why there are always so many repeated cliches in the lives and careers of rock stars?

I mean, we understand the booze & drugs and apparent infidelity that comes with money, sudden success and life on the road, but things like the aberrant outsider who works their way in, has undue influence over the lead singer and tears up the band - Queen had "Paul," the Beach Boys had "Landy" and the Beatles had "Yoko"!

Rami did a great job, (I liked your comments about the teeth - and I didn't know if that was a mannerism of the real Freddie Mercury with his own choppers or if Rami was reacting to the fake teeth). One way Rami didn't look like Freddie was the eyes (what with Rami's uniquely bulging peepers) - in this respect the real Freddie was more handsome than Rami.

Also - spent the movie trying to figure out if that was Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon - it was: he and Rami starred together in the Band of Brothers companion series: The Pacific.
Rami would be great in another Rock-Bio movie: about the Rolling Stones. He would make the perfect Mick Jagger earlier on in his career. As far the outsider who comes between the band members, we'd need someone to play Jerry Hall...I'm not really sure she did come between the band members, just saying the movie could be framed that way to keep the cliche going




The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)

I feel kinda bad using that photo and even though it's pretty cool it does crop out Anthony Michael Hall from the original photo. Oh well, no one will miss the brain. Oh, that was Bender talking btw, not me

Brain-Brian...a coincidence? Or a hidden message?

Director John Hughes knows what it's like to be a teen in high school.
I've seen The Breakfast Club several times before and every time I watch it I feel like I'm watching a different movie. Last time was years ago and I thought of it as a really good, teen comedy. This time I seen something different, I seen a dark film about people with a lot of pain that they hide inside them from the rest of the world.

Take Bender's (Judd Nelson) story about the cigar burn on his arm at the hands of his father for spilling paint in the garage....Not much more is said about it and the film quickly slides into another scene. But think about it, the film is telling us how Bender was tortured at the hands of his father. That's hardly stuff of a teen comedy flick.

But the darkest thing of all is Brian who tells of keeping a gun in his locker because he just can't handle having an F from shop class. In the next moment we learn that it's a flair gun and it went off in his locker and everyone laughs. And that's the brilliance of John Hughes' script. He manages to keep the film light enough to be enjoyable, While if you pay close attention to the scripts sub context, we know it's not actually about a flair gun joke, it's about a kid who's on the verge of committing suicide. That's pretty damn heady stuff.

Even more poignant is how at the start of the film John Bender is mocking Brian for having the perfect little family...Hughes' script shows us that kids from so called perfect families like Brian's can be pretty screwed up too...Hughes' also shows us that underneath the labels all the teens in the movie have much more in common than a mere label would suggest. And that applies to all of us as well.







Being There (Hal Ashby, 1979)

I'd never seenBeing Therebefore, it wasn't even on my radar and hadn't even heard of it...and yet I was impressed by the film.

Peter Sellers is just amazing in this and I loved the story of how a simple minded man was able to wow those rich & powerful people, including the President. Gives me hope I might do the same someday

I don't have a lot of critical analysis of the film. All I know is the story hooked me from the start and kept me fascinated throughout the film. Gosh, I loved seeing the Biltmore Estate, not only from the outside of the mansion but also the stunning decor inside...as well as the vista views from the window (as shown in the photo above).

There's a couple of things the director did that I didn't like: I wasn't a fan of the outtakes during the film's credits and I read that Peter Sellers himself hated those and blamed the outtakes on him not be nominating for an Oscar. I'd tend to agree.

I also wasn't a fan of the revised theme from 2001 A Space Odyssey being used, it was overbearing. Shirley MacClaine's 'self exploration' while funny, didn't seem to fit the theme of the movie which was much more quiet and understated. And lastly I really disagree with the director's idea of having Peter Sellers walk on water in the last scene. For me that ruined the vision that a simple minded man could achieve happiness and greatness.

But I still really liked this, so rate it at a solid







Pretty Baby (Louis Malle, 1978)

I thought this was a pretty darn good movie and I was surprised by just how well made it was. I was expecting the worst after hearing about the controversy that had surrounded this movie. But to my surprise, Pretty Baby was a fresh introspective look into the world of the women who worked in New Orleans brothels at the turn of the 20th century.

The movie does world building quite well and we see in detail the inner workings of a brothel and from the women's viewpoint, which is unusual for a film. Had this been made by another director the story might have been focused on a man's point of view, and the 'whores' would've been nameless bodies with no real value to the film. So many films are made from the male only viewpoint, leaving the stories of women in the shadows, but not Pretty Baby.

Brooke Shields did an excellent acting job as a young girl entering puberty...and entering rather nonchalantly into the world of a prostitute. The script brilliantly handles what happens to young girls who become sexualizied at a too young of age. It's an honest description of how being exposed causes young Violent to act out overtly sexual, when she's clearly not old enough to be doing so. Most of what she does is in the form of boasting and trying to be grown up. The most clear example of that is when she tries to force a younger boy to have sex with her and is stopped by the boys mother with the warning that whites and blacks don't mix.

At the end of the film her mother and new husband comes to retrieve Violent who's now married to the adult photographer. The film reinforces to the viewer that Violent despite her upbringing is still a child who wants only to be with her mother. I liked that the film never builds Spielberg like sympathy for these characters and neither does it demonize them...it simply shows us the end results.

There are a lot of deep themes in Pretty Baby about the damage that sex abuse causes to women. It's too bad a couple brief semi nude scenes of Brooke Shields has overshadowed an important movie.








Quills (Philip Kaufman, 2000)

To my surprise I liked this...I wasn't sure what to expect, in fact the movie was different than I had imaged. I know I'm liking a movie if it gets me interested from the start and keeps me interested until the very end...and I don't start checking the time remaining. And Quills kept me interested.

Quills reminded me of Perfume: The Story of a Murder (2006). Both movies took a fanciful, lighter look at distrurbing events and both were period pieces but done in a more modern stylish artsy way.

I loved the look of this film, the color palette was a washed out antique green, very cool and it set the mood. Geoffrey Rush was just amazing in this as the brilliantly talented and demented...and yet likable Marquis de Sade. Another actor might have made the Marquis too dark or too much a super villain type, but I like the balance that Rush brought to the roll. And like Kate Winslet, she's so good, she could do so much just with a look on her face.

Amazingly enough I thought Joaquin Phoenix was rather bland in his role as the priest who tried compassionately to run the insane asylum. I do think Phoenix is one of the best actors working today, but for whatever reason he wasn't able to find an inner depth to his priest. I did like the gone-mad version of him in the last few minutes of the film though.

Michael Caine was another real standout. He's also likable and yet he's cast as the antagonist. I kind of like a movie where the antagonist are more likable than the protagonist.

I wasn't a fan of one scene where the inmates stage a play for Michael Caine. It just seemed so silly the way the inmates were acting that it reminded me of a Monty Python movie. Just too much over the top.

But overall I did like Quills. Good cast, good movie.