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You rarely Finnish movies that are Finnish... Then watch movies directed by Aki Kaurismaki
I've meant to for a long time but always find something more interesting. I have a somewhat negative preconception of them (I vaguely remember seeing one or two long ago).
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The trick is not minding
All three are great, but For a Few Dollars More is my favorite.
Of his Spaghetti Westerns, I prefer Once Upon a Time in the West and Duck, You Sucker! Over the Man with No Name Trilogy. They are, however, still decent films.
I think Once Upon a Time in America is his best, however.



Please Quote/Tag Or I'll Miss Your Responses
I've meant to for a long time but always find something more interesting. I have a somewhat negative preconception of them (I vaguely remember seeing one or two long ago).

May I recommend one of my favorite movies, "Shadows in Paradise". It's very short, 80 minutes, and great.





颐和园

颐和园 is a soap opera with full-frontal nudity (both male and female) and serious geopolitical concerns.

If that sounds like a heady mix, that's because it is - and watching this in 2024 is a powerful reminder of all of the things the CCP doesn't allow in Chinese films.

At its heart, 颐和园 is a fairly simple story: it's your typical girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-gets-boy-back - with a twist. If the same story was told with any other country as its setting, it might be criticized for its soapy nature.

But much of the movie's edge comes from how it plays out against world events, most notably Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China.

There's a real sense of a rapidly changing world with seismic shifts unfolding even as the focus of the movie remains on a young woman from Tumen moving to the big city to attend college (a thinly-disguised version of Peking University).

After director Lou Ye submitted the film to the Cannes Film Festival without approval from state censors, the movie was summarily banned in China, while Lou and his producers were banned from filmmaking for 5 years.

颐和园 was one of the 20 films in competition for the Palme d'Or in 2006; the prize ultimately went to The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

颐和园 would have been a better choice.



Of his Spaghetti Westerns, I prefer Once Upon a Time in the West and Duck, You Sucker! Over the Man with No Name Trilogy. They are, however, still decent films.
I think Once Upon a Time in America is his best, however.
Oh yeah, I would put Once Upon a Time in the West above the Man with No Name Trilogy as well. Haven't seen Duck, You Sucker!, though.
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The Return (2003)

Russian film in which a father returns after 12 years away (never explained) to take his two sons on a fishing trip. The mother is edgy but doesn't resist and then the real questions start. Is his gruff and sometimes violent manner (the father) a way of toughening the 2 lads up for life after a life in a matriarchal environment in his absence, or is he just an abusive influence full stop. The 2 lads differing attitudes to him provide an extra angle of tension. It's wonderfully shot and (I believe) full of allegory. I just took it that he didn't know how to be a father until the boys eventually stood up to him, even then they didn't know who/what he was. Almost mystical but a fantastic, if downbeat. watch. Doesn't surprise that the same director made " Leviathan" some years later.



Dead Shack (2017) Lame comedy horror. Characters are unlikable and not believable. The acting and writing are mediocre. They needed to do something more with the material.



I forgot the opening line.

By May be found at the following website: IMP Awards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40577186

The Ultimate Gift - (2006)

7.3/10 on the IMDb - that's a headscratcher, and brings to an end my faith in being able to screen which films I watch to catch turkeys before I take a wrong step. I'm not saying that The Ultimate Gift is a turkey, but look, some people have the ability to ignore their inner cynic and find stories about wholesome goodness uplifting and enjoyable - no matter how trite they are. Good for them - I'd rather feel good than bad, but unfortunately I can't help but feel I'm being duped if the story I'm trying to enjoy lacks originality, and has it's message delivered in hammer blows rather than being cleverly embroidered into each chapter. In this adaptation of a novel that was somehow a best-seller, Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller) - a brat devoid of a soul - must perform a dozen or so tasks if he's to inherit any money from his $2 billion rich grandfather, Howard "Red" Stevens (James Garner). These tasks he calls "gifts" - there's the "gift of work", where he forces Jason to do backbreaking labor on a farm, and the "gift of learning" where he forces Jason to go to a library in Ecuador to study (there's a whole subplot about how Jason's father died helping his granddad in Ecuador). Spoiler alert - Jason basically becomes Jesus himself by the time he's finished, and gives his entire $100 million inheritance away to build a children's hospital. Then he gets the whole $2 billion, because the $100 million was just a test. It's all sugary sweet and a little too much. Jason was a little too awful at the start, and ends up being a little too good at the end for me to buy in to this at all. Along the way he crosses paths with the likes of Brian Dennehy and Abigail Breslin - both of whom I like, but not here. Now - I'm not evil, and I believe in work, friendship, learning, kindness etc - to the hilt. It's just this movie sells it's message so roughly, with so little art, that it actually made me a little angry.

3/10
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Slap Shot - 1977

Paul Newman is just a damn movie star. I'm not much a hockey and it's a bit dated. Had some laugh and story was cool. Was enjoyable enough but if I grew up in the 70s I think it would have been right up my alley. Worth a watch for Newman alone but probably won't revisit.



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101 Favorite Movies (2019)



LazyTown's New Superhero
Part One (21m)
So while this was a part ONE to the episode, not much sweet events happened. This is kind of a stepping stone to the action, and it’s a pretty good one. But I wish it was a BIT longer.

8/10





Follow That Bird
(Ken Kwapis, 1985)

As a 43 year old child-free woman who hates musicals, did I just watch a musical made for pre-schoolers? Why, yes. Yes I did. And tonight wasn't even my first time watching it as an adult. I picked it up from the local library on a whim back in 2015. I'd grown up watching it, but had forgotten about it by then and - as someone who is most definitely no longer in the target audience - I fully expected to hate it. But I didn't hate it. Not even close. I thought it was fun. It made me laugh. I even got a little misty-eyed a time or two. And most shocking of all was that I actually enjoyed the songs - most especially Oscar's "Grouch Anthem," which opens the movie.

So when this countdown was announced I decided it needed another viewing and I ordered it on DVD. Having just watched it again, nine years further into my adulthood, I liked it just as much if not more than I did last time. Except for a couple of scenes where it got a little sad, I watched it with a big grin on my face because sometimes I just need a little silliness and tonight was one of those nights.

Now, do I think this has any chance of making the countdown proper? Not at all, but that won't stop me from putting it on my ballot and probably somewhere in my top ten. Now that it's in my collection, I'll also be sure to revisit it again in the not too distant future. In the meantime, that "Grouch Anthem" is probably gonna be stuck in my head for awhile.

Grouches of the world unite!
Stand up for your grouchly rights!
Don't let the sunshine spoil the rain
Just stand up and complain
Let this be the grouches' cause:
Point out everybody's flaws!







Themroc (1973)

I recall seeing this as the opener in Channel 4 UK's "red triangle" season of films. A film with no discernible dialogue is likely to not age too much and this hasn't. Worker rebels against society as a whole and takes up living as a modern caveman (including incest and cannibalism). As an absurdist piece of cinema it's great and there are a few intentional and I'm not-so-sure intentional laughs along the way. I'd like any similar film recommendations as all the ones linked to it don't seem to be as hatstand but I still may give them a go.



Shake, Rattle & Rock! (1956) If you don't like this movie, you are an old square! All us young hip cats dig it. There is some groovy music here that we get down to that you old timers wouldn't understand. Sure, the story isn't all that swell, but this is still pretty neato.





Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
(Tim Burton, 2007)

I've been on the fence about rewatching this one. I'd seen it once back when it was new and I strongly remember absolutely hating the songs. But I do love Johnny Depp and that Tim Burton aesthetic so I thought... maybe it'll grow on me?

And I have to say that it did grow on me. I loved the look of the film. The costumes and sets are absolutely gorgeous. I also thought the casting and performances were really strong and the story kept me engaged. I have to admit that I actually genuinely enjoyed myself. I didn't love it, but I enjoyed it and that's kind of a hard thing for me to admit about a musical.

However, I still really hated those damn songs. Which then begs the question: Is it wrong to vote for a movie for a best musicals countdown if you hated the thing that makes it a musical? Probably, but I'm gonna do it anyway.




The Watchers (2024) Ishana Shyamalan directs this horror/mystery starring Dakota Fanning. I went and saw it today. I thought this was a mostly effective and engaging atmospheric film. The performances were good and I found the story interesting.



Slap Shot - 1977

Paul Newman is just a damn movie star. I'm not much a hockey and it's a bit dated. Had some laugh and story was cool. Was enjoyable enough but if I grew up in the 70s I think it would have been right up my alley. Worth a watch for Newman alone but probably won't revisit.



LOVED this movie