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Tenet - 55/100


Good plot and set pieces, really bad dialogue and characters. That cliche evil russian felt so beneath Nolan, and you can tell his reputation is starting to get to him.


"Does your head hurt yet?"



Tenet - 55/100


Good plot and set pieces, really bad dialogue and characters. That cliche evil russian felt so beneath Nolan, and you can tell his reputation is starting to get to him.


"Does your head hurt yet?"

Yeah I think Kenneth Branagh was totally miscast in that role. Robert Pattinson was the only one I looked forward to seeing, it was like a breath of fresh air whenever he came on screen.





Operator, 2015

Another "long week, dumb fun" watch.

Pam (Mischa Barton) is estranged from her husband Jeremy (Luke Goss). She works as a 911 operator while he is a police officer. One day a mysterious man (Ving Rhames) calls Pam at work and begins directing her to crimes that have not happened yet, using her kidnapped daughter as leverage.

I will say that the movie gets a 4/5 for "dumb" and a "3/5" for "fun".

The premise of a 911 or other emergency operator playing cat and mouse with a killer is always a decent premise. The film tries to get most of its emotional heft from the idea that Pam repeatedly has to dispatch Jeremy to dangerous situations while trying to figure out who is pulling the strings. Barton and Goss are both fine in their roles. Rhames, as the mysterious caller, does his best to liven up a performance that is 95% sitting at a desk on a phone.

Overall, though, the film is just a *little* too stupid at times. We are told that Jeremy is a "good and thoughtful man." Okay, but in the very first sequence his partner ogles a woman and says she has a butt "like a 10 year old" and then immediately pivots to talking about Jeremy's own 10 year old daughter. And Jeremy's response is like "Ha! Oh, dude!". It sets such a weird tone for his character.

And on Pam's side of things, she will send vague text messages to Jeremy, but like, if you are already sending a message why not be more specific?

The best "bad" part of the film is that Pam and the mystery man have the same conversation about four different times:

[Something bad happens]
PAM: I'm not going to help you anymore!
BAD GUY: Yes you are!
PAM: Why would I keep helping you?!
BAD GUY: Because . . . I have your daughter!
PAM: Oh, yeah. Okay, what do I do next?

Like, she seems to forget about every 20 minutes that they have her daughter!

Anyway, this was a fine way to spend some brainless minutes. I wouldn't exactly recommend it, but it's the kind of movie you put on while you vacuum or do other little chores around the house.




I have not seen the entire Mission Impossible series starring Tom Cruise, except for the first one which I saw once back in 1996 but did not enjoy back then.

Well, I'm binge watching the entire series at the moment...all 7 movies
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
(1996)
Re-watch. Directed with grace and elegance by Brian De Palma, and brilliantly written by David Koepp, the movie version of the famous TV show shines through; add to that the talented all-star cast and Tom Cruise's first notable venture into action, a turn that launched a successful career for Cruise as a modern movie action star. The one issue I had with the film was the climactic but bizarre finale on the train, that's where the film did not feel like a De Palma movie anymore, and was just way too over the top, but, overall, the movie was a captivating experience.


There were 7? Wow, I'd forgotten that. Anyway I liked all of them. Some of the stunts he personally performed still give me stomach flutters, like when he was running around the top of that 200 story skyscraper in Dubai! And all of them are entertaining.





American Dreamer, 2018

(Am I slumming it a little after all the great stuff I've been watching for the 2020 Film Challenge? Maybe).

I was expecting something a little lighter from this movie, perhaps lulled into a bit of complacency by the presence of Jim Gaffigan.

Cam (Gaffigan) is a driver for an Uber-like company. His personal and financial life is a mess--divorced from his wife, dealing (or not dealing) with some mental health issues, and running perilously low on cash. One day a drug dealer named Mazz offers Cam some extra cash if he'll be on call for him. Before long he hatches a plan to kidnap Mazz's girlfriend for a ransom, but when that plan goes sideways he takes Mazz's infant son instead. Things only get worse and worse, and before long Cam is shuttling Mazz around in search of "the kidnapper".

I will credit the film with a consistent tone of foreboding, and the way that Cam's dual sense of entitlement and despair leads him to allow worse and worse things to happen. Another element of the film that I appreciated was that it never tried to make Cam a victim. When the film first introduced Mazz, it felt like the movie was going to use criminal characters to make Cam look better. Instead, you see that Cam is willing to cross lines that even hardened drug dealers wouldn't.

There's something missing in this film that keeps it from being completely satisfying. Maybe it's that Cam is such a creep from the beginning. We don't really see him go on much of a character arc. There are a few shocking moments, but since he already has a troubled past, I didn't necessarily feel surprised.

The most pleasant surprise of the film are the characters of Mazz and his girlfriend Marina. Despite the characters maybe being a bit thinly written, the actors give very strong performances, and you see the way that their anger and suspicion at each other keeps them from seeing what's right in front of them. The best sequences of the film simply involve Cam as a shocked bystander, slightly in awe of the carnage his single act has led to.

I'd actually recommend this one, though it's a bit of a tepid recommendation.





There were 7? Wow, I'd forgotten that. Anyway I liked all of them. Some of the stunts he personally performed still give me stomach flutters, like when he was running around the top of that 200 story skyscraper in Dubai! And all of them are entertaining.
There's actually 6 movies. the 7th is in production if I'm not mistaken.

I'm watching 3 now.
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Tenet (2020) - Christopher Nolan

- It's good like very freakin' good. Entertaining all the way through, actors are amazing and Nolan behind the camera is just pure enjoyment. Storyline is kind of hard to fully understand but i'm pretty sure with a second watch it will be way easier. I love it as expected.
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It was Chennai Express. What an amazing movie I have ever seen. Enjoyed a lot.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Grand Prix (John Frankenheimer, 1966)
+ 6/10
The Binge (Jeremy Garelick, 2020)
5/10
The Silencing (Robin Pront, 2020)
6/10
The Night of Counting the Years (Chadi Abdel Salam, 1969)
6.5/10

Ominous, otherworldly thriller about systemic theft of Egyptian artifacts.
Lingua Franca (Isabel Sandoval, 2019)
5.5/10
A Girl Like Grace (Ty Hodges, 2015)
+.5/10
The Burnt Orange Heresy (Giuseppe Capotondil, 2019)
6/10
You Cannot Kill David Arquette (David Darg & Price James, 2020)
6.5/10

But you can beat the crap out of him in the wrestling ring.
The Bay of Silence
(Paula van der Oest, 2020)
+ 5/10
Spree (Eugene Kotlyarenko, 2020)
6/10
Isadora's Children (Damien Manivel, 2019)
5/10
Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema (Mark Cousins, 2018)
7/10

Enormous doc about well-known and obscure femme filmmakers. This is Jacqueline Audry.
One Dark Night (Thomas McLoughlin, 1982)
5/10
#Alive (Il Cho, 2020)
6/10
The Blue Flower of Novalis (Gustavo Vinagre & Rodrigo Carneiro, 2018)
5/10
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe (Bob Bowen, 2020)
- 7/10

Candace may seem happy-go-lucky but she feels her brothers and the Universe are against her, and she's soon kidnapped by spaace aliens.
Get Duked! (Ninian Doff, 2019)
6/10
Call of the Flesh (Charles Brabin, 1930)
5/10
All Fall Down (John Frankenheimer, 1962)
6/10
System Crasher (Nora Fingscheidt, 2019)
6.5/10

Ubcontrollable nine-year-old Helena Zengel has already been taken away from her family and shuttled between Social Services, clinics and foster parents with no end in sight.
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Ghosts of War (2020)

A standard war horror that starts on the same path most of its kind before. It has a twist but it's a bad one. Technically better than most B-horrors but I'd trade technicality to engaging story any day.
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Train to Busan 2 (2020) 5/10

Lost the core of the story,Not even achieve the half good of the Train to Busan I.



Just getting into the spirit of things
Trance (Danny Boyle, 2013)
+
Certainly induces less of a response the longer it goes on for me
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LOVE Hedgehog in the Fog.

I use it to teach my students about tone and mood. The sequences with the horse are just gorgeous.

Really impressed with it Takoma. I watched it on Kino Klassika site that was showing Soviet films, think they are taking a break now but hopefully coming back soon. I managed to catch a few great films. You should keep an eye out. Kinoklassika foundation I think it was.
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Really impressed with it Takoma. I watched it on Kino Klassika site that was showing Soviet films, think they are taking a break now but hopefully coming back soon. I managed to catch a few great films. You should keep an eye out. Kinoklassika foundation I think it was.
Cool, thanks!





Hush Money, 2017

(Yes, I'm still in this particular corner--everyone gets kidnapped!!--of Amazon Prime low-budget offerings).

A man named Doug owes money to the wrong people. On the last day of his loan, a desperate Doug kidnaps Kennedy, the teenage daughter of a famous baseball player. You may be shocked to hear that things don't quite go as planned!!

Like many low-budget films, the main issue with Hush Money is an inconsistent tone. The first third of the film plays like a lighter thriller with some effective comic elements. There's a pretty good sequence where Doug tries to procure an asthma inhaler from an apathetic pharmacist; and another funny sequence where a delivery man accidentally catches sight of Kennedy and Doug has to then take him hostage as well.

I wish that the film had stayed in that lighter mode. There's a pretty decent rapport between the two leads, but when things get intense in the final act, the actor playing Doug goes to a more extreme place with the character and his younger co-star can't quite match his level (not skill level, just energy/emotional level). The middle third is sort of hard to describe, and the film goes on a very strange and improbably tangent.

This is also a case of a film that doesn't quite know how to stick the landing. Things get very convoluted in the last ~20 minutes, and some important stuff happens off-screen.

I did enjoy the movie for the most part. The first third in particular was pretty good. While sometimes hindered by clumsy dialogue, the two leads have pretty good chemistry. There's an overarching theme of parents wanting to protect their children, and I wish it had been explored a bit more. And for a low-budget film I thought that overall it looked pretty good.