The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame IV

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Had open house yesterday and having another in a little while. Getting some offers tomorrow so then hopefully I'll have more time so I can get back in the swing here. Here is my listing, thought my agent did a good job- https://www.redfin.com/MA/Brockton/1.../home/16334609



20 years for us on Wednesday
Woohoo! It can be done. Congrats in advance.
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Check out my podcast: Thief's Monthly Movie Loot!





Another Earth (2011)

I've had this recommended to me before but obviously have never watched it. A young woman, Rhoda, gets accepted to MIT and, as young people tend to do, decides to celebrate with her friends a little. The night she's celebrating just happens to be the night when another Earth is discovered approaching our Earth. She learns of this on the radio while driving home from the party and, being a sciencey person, she wants to get a glimpse of it. While looking out the window at the other earth, she slams into another car, killing a wife, a child and putting the father in a coma. She goes to prison.

Four years later she is released (she was underage at the time of the accident), her future now shot, she takes a job as a custodian at a school. One day she walks to the site of the accident and see's the surviving father place a toy next to a pole where the accident occurred. Guilt ridden, she wants to apologize to the father, goes to his home, chickens out on the apology but does eventually develop a relationship with the guy. That's about it.

Pretty much this is a movie about two people dealing with grief, over the same event, from different perspectives. Have to admit, I didn't get it. I mean, I got it, I don't get the love for it. It has good performances but getting through this indie romance, for me, was tough. Science fiction is usually a win for me but the sci-fi here was basically non existent so what was left was the love story and the ending which I won't get into except to say that if that were me in Rhoda's shoes I would be even more upset.

It's been a few years since I watched Another Earth, so I only remember bits and pieces of the movie, but I remember liking it a lot.
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Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Sansho the Bailiff

This was a long overdue watch, a film that has been languishing on my watchlist for a long time.

Sansho the Bailiff is a deliberately paced melodrama. A governor is exiled and separated from his family. Years later, his wife and children travel to meet him but are kidnapped into slavery and a life of misery and suffering. (It's not really about Sansho the bailiff at all, so I'm not sure why he gets the title).

There are some affecting moments in here - several of which revolve around a song the children's mother sings about. It's well made in a lot of ways. I thought I would like to get to know the characters a bit better though. And there's just so much suffering - it's all slavery and death and missed chances to reconcile. I've certainly seen films that are more like that and appreciated them, but there was something very grey about this that I couldn't quite warm to. I know it is a very well-regarded film, so it's probably just me.






Pursued (1947)

Funfacts about me is that even though Citizen Kane is my favorite film, my least favorite decade is the 1940's. To me the 40's are an era of blandness, slow predictable and disappointing. I also do not care for westerns, because once again I find them silly and predictable. And my least favorite best picture winner...the directors film In Old Arizona. So with all of those red flags this is a risky pick...it paid off.

Pursued doesn't play like a western it plays like a film noir so it's a good pick. It was actually a nice little surprise because it's a film where the darkness builds. So the plot of the story is an unlucky orphan is taken in by a local family, he goes off to war and returns planning to court the little girl he grew up with. The conflict of the romance causes for a fairly high body count and the main character to become isolated and misanthropic. Great casting of Robert Mitchem and a field of unknowns made me appreciate the film.

While the story is great what sets this apart and makes this a favorable film to me is that the action set pieces are well done and varied. The town feels claustrophobic and the farms feel expansive. The shootings all look and feel different and that's very important and frankly uncommon in many westerns. Smart choice and an elevation of the subject matter.



movies can be okay...
Dark City (1998) directed by Alex Proyas


The best qualities about Dark City are also present in most science-fiction films. It's the philosophical ideas that fundamentally come with the genre and deal with questions such as 'what exactly makes one human'. For example, we have in the film this idea of putting human memories into these alien beings and seeing what comes of it. Unfortunately it wasn't as prevalent of a plot point as I would of wanted it to be, especially since I was hoping it would lead to a development such as the one in Hunter X Hunter (shoutout to all my anime fans) where there was a clear contrast between the main character and one arc's villain with how the former was slowly changing into more of what the latter started off as, and vice versa. I don't know, just thought it would be great to see that with this film's characters, still a cool little concept.

Another question that is heavily posed is about the importance of memories in defining a person. There's a great scene near the end where our main guy exclaims how he knows he shouldn't care about Jennifer Connelly's character because he knows he never actually knew her despite the implanted memories telling him otherwise, but then they obviously still care deeply about each other regardless of this knowledge. If you ask me, this whole memories = feelings shouldn't even work to begin with. I would've much rathered had the people of dark city behaved like zombies because they didn't know how to feel about all these fake memories implanted in them. And you know what, that could also be the reason why these aliens haven't understood the human element yet.

Let's talk about these aliens and their goal for a sec. First of all, I like their design and sound, and their first appearance was a great moment that genuinely felt menacing, but that effect kind of dissolved somewhere throughout the film, and by the end of it all they just became ridiculous. There's a lot of other things that are ridiculous about them too, the most damning one being their goal. I don't understand how changing peoples' memories everyday will help them figure out the secret to humanity, and more importantly how do they even process this kind of data in the first place. We never see them study or analyze all these infinite combination of subjects that they created, and it is very important to show some kind of scene that does so because it's such a nonsensical idea to begin with. And then, once they discovered that a human subject can now "tune", they drop everything and they're like tHis Is tHE FinAL sTaNd aNd hE's tHE Key fOr Us tO aNSWer aLl oUr qUEstiONs, but it's like I can't even begin to imagine how something like that would be of any help at all.

Anyways, as you can tell, Dark City was a mixed bag. In one hand, the city's look from outer space was cool as **** with all the water surrounding it, but the production design overall was just alright. The CGI looks really stupid sometimes, especially in the action sequences, but then it looks great for the tuning of all the buildings. Speaking of the tuning, that last psychokinetic fight was absolute bonkers and is my favorite part of the entire movie, it was so hilarious. Almost as hilarious as seeing everybody in the city fall asleep at once at midnight without any kinds of accidents happening. I guess we're lucky that everyone's foot coincidentally stomps on the brakes every time and everything else...Nothing special about the cinematography, the acting (although the doctor's constant hyperventilating was pretty annoying), the story (if I have anything to add it would be that I liked the decision of keeping what happened to the Earth unknown), the music...but alas I still have one last question that I can't wrap my head around, how many Jennifer Connelly standing on a pier scenes are there in the world?
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"A film has to be a dialogue, not a monologue — a dialogue to provoke in the viewer his own thoughts, his own feelings. And if a film is a dialogue, then it’s a good film; if it’s not a dialogue, it’s a bad film."
- Michael "Gloomy Old Fart" Haneke



movies can be okay...
Thoughts on other films mentioned recently

The Double Life of Veronique - Kieślowski is one of my favourite directors (Dekalog, Trois Couleurs, No End...) and he has yet to disappoint me with any of his films. The Double Life might actually be my least favourite of his, but it's also a hard film to love after only one watch. Still, it's beautiful from head to toe and it's the one I'd probably revisit the soonest out of all his work.

Make Way for Tomorrow - Not a personal favourite but I'd agree that it's pretty flawless. I for one was more into the first half of the film that focused much more on the family dynamics and less so on what the last half was about. But you know, of course I would, love me some depressing ****, hate me some happy-go-lucky ****.

Au Revoir Les Enfants - Another one of my favourite directors, top 5 even, and Au Revoir is one of his best too. Here's how I would rank what I've seen from him: Feu Follet > Au Revoir > Dinner with André > Lacombe Lucien > Elevator to the Gallows > Murmur of the Heart >>> Zazie

As for my progress in this HOF, I'm planning on finishing with everything by the end of next week at the latest. I'll also be watching something for tonight, probably Citizen Kane, about time to get that checked off.



Sansho the Bailiff

This was a long overdue watch, a film that has been languishing on my watchlist for a long time.

Sansho the Bailiff is a deliberately paced melodrama. A governor is exiled and separated from his family. Years later, his wife and children travel to meet him but are kidnapped into slavery and a life of misery and suffering. (It's not really about Sansho the bailiff at all, so I'm not sure why he gets the title).

There are some affecting moments in here - several of which revolve around a song the children's mother sings about. It's well made in a lot of ways. I thought I would like to get to know the characters a bit better though. And there's just so much suffering - it's all slavery and death and missed chances to reconcile. I've certainly seen films that are more like that and appreciated them, but there was something very grey about this that I couldn't quite warm to. I know it is a very well-regarded film, so it's probably just me.
This was recommended to me on a previous PR and I loved it.

Re: the title, this is what I wrote back when I saw it...

It is interesting that the film is titled the way it is, considering that Sanshō is after all a secondary character. We meet him 30 minutes into the film and compared to other characters, he's barely in it. But what's important is what Sanshō represents. He is a presence that hangs above Zushiō all through the film. He is the opposite of his father's teachings: merciless and unforgiving, and by spending more time under his fist, Zushiō becomes more like him and less like his father.
Here's the link to my full review, in case you're interested.



Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Thanks @Thief. I really felt like I should have liked it more. Perhaps one to rewatch.

I really liked The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum from the same director. That was also quite tragic but the story and characters grabbed me a bit more. I would definitely recommend it.



I watched Sansho the Bailiff for the Personal Recommendation III and had the same reaction as Thursday and Thief. An excerpt from my write-up:
Sansho the Bailiff
Technically & artistically a near perfect movie. I appreciated it and it was a good choice for me. Classic Japanese films like, Late Autumn, 24 Eyes & The Naked Island are my favorite type of personal stories. Those are the kind that I like the most. I would still rate Sansho the Bailiff highly, but for me my reaction to the sad tale was one more of appreciation for the great sets and customs and one rather dismal realization...



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
I asked this spoiler-y question for VIRGINIA WOOLF on the Rate the Last Movie You Saw thread, but I'm gonna paste it here, see what everybody thinks...

WARNING: spoilers below

Do you think Martha and George are better at the end than they were at the start? I mean, taking away all the hurt, the bickering, and the insults, my mind thinks that the climatic moment was necessary to move on. And even though that "breach" in their intimacy from both parts will surely leave a dent, to put it mildly, their final interaction hints at the possibility of them... maybe making it? What does everyone think?
Great film that stuck with me even though its been quite a long time since watching it.

WARNING: "To take a stab at your question" spoilers below
I remember feeling that they were the far stronger couple being able to sustain the mutual vocal abuse unlike the "new" couple who easily fall apart at the mere hint of "trouble". Whether or not they continued onward for better is far more speculative for me.
For me, they signified the solid ground established over time when the "idea" of marriage is replaced with the reality and the more concrete "real" love of an experienced relationship.
I've seen this about two or three times and the shared look at the end had a tinged shared bemusement of two cynical people enjoying messing with the foolish, naive beliefs of a younger, inexperienced couple.
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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Pursued (1947)

Funfacts about me is that even though Citizen Kane is my favorite film, my least favorite decade is the 1940's. To me the 40's are an era of blandness, slow predictable and disappointing. I also do not care for westerns, because once again I find them silly and predictable. And my least favorite best picture winner...the directors film In Old Arizona. So with all of those red flags this is a risky pick...it paid off.

Pursued doesn't play like a western it plays like a film noir so it's a good pick. It was actually a nice little surprise because it's a film where the darkness builds. So the plot of the story is an unlucky orphan is taken in by a local family, he goes off to war and returns planning to court the little girl he grew up with. The conflict of the romance causes for a fairly high body count and the main character to become isolated and misanthropic. Great casting of Robert Mitchem and a field of unknowns made me appreciate the film.

While the story is great what sets this apart and makes this a favorable film to me is that the action set pieces are well done and varied. The town feels claustrophobic and the farms feel expansive. The shootings all look and feel different and that's very important and frankly uncommon in many westerns. Smart choice and an elevation of the subject matter.
Glad to hear that, even with the flags stiffly in place, it STILL worked for you. Very cool!
Pursued is not the typical Western and thematically has some solid noir to it. Been a couple of years but a really good film.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Had open house yesterday and having another in a little while. Getting some offers tomorrow so then hopefully I'll have more time so I can get back in the swing here. Here is my listing, thought my agent did a good job- https://www.redfin.com/MA/Brockton/1.../home/16334609
Great house. For some oddball reason, I thought you lived around Tenessee and not Massachusetts.
Good luck with the sale!!



Great house. For some oddball reason, I thought you lived around Tenessee and not Massachusetts.
Good luck with the sale!!
Went on the market on a Thursday, open house that weekend, sold above asking price on the Monday.

So great job everyone keeping it going, I'll be back on the reg soon.

Thinking of a different format for next time to eliminate lapses in activity.



The thing isolated becomes incomprehensible
Still under control? It's getting late in the game.
Hey! Sorry, these last couple of months of post-COVID have been hell, haven't had a single day off since early august. I can finish this, but it will take me a week to start watching stuff, and I'll binge it really quickly.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Went on the market on a Thursday, open house that weekend, sold above asking price on the Monday.

So great job everyone keeping it going, I'll be back on the reg soon.

Thinking of a different format for next time to eliminate lapses in activity.
CONGRATS!!

And pretty [email protected] intrigued about a "different format" looking forward to it





I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Betsy Connell: I don't know about zombies, doctor. Just what is a zombie?
Dr. Maxwell: A ghost. A living dead. It's also a drink.

A Canadian nurse (Betsy) travels to the West Indies to help a man's wife who has taken ill. It's almost like she's a zombie. Betsy tries everything she can think of to help her (electric shock is always nice) but nothing is working so she does what anyone in her shoes would do - take her to a voodoo Dr.

While Betsy is trying to figure out what's wrong with the wife she's also learning more about the husband, the wife, his half brother and the island. And there's a lot going on between them.

I liked this and it reminded me a little of Onibaba. It's not scary but it has good atmosphere, builds slowly and by the time Betsy takes the wife to the voodoo Dr. you're ready for it. The ritual was done well and was something I was really hoping wouldn't be all cringy. Thankfully it didn't go that route. I have zero experience with voodoo rituals but the way it was presented seemed respectful. Had they gone the other route and presented it as a bunch of flailing nut cases it would have ruined what had been built up.

The entire movie felt like a parable that would be passed down from generation to generation around a campfire and when those stories are done right I really enjoy them.





The Voices (2014)

The Voices tells the story of a factory worker Jerry, (Ryan Reynolds) who decides to not take his medication so he now hears voices from his cat and dog. Jerry is very interested in a british accountant named Fiona (Gemma Arterton) who isn't really into Jerry but the other accountant Lisa (Anna Kendrick) is. First I thought the film was going to be a wacky love triangle.

To me this felt like a pilot for a TV show that got retrofitted into a film. You have a lot of quirkiness and underdeveloped actors and storylines. Often times I felt like we were going to see certain things happen and they were just sort of dropped. Tonally the film is solid, it has high points when Jerry goes into his fantasy world and then we get hit with reality. Unfortunately the film jams to much plot into the story. Their's a second act twist and after that everything just kind of speeds up.

Ryan Reynolds is good as Jerry but not so much as Mr Whiskers and Bosco. The dog and cat are treated like one note charactures and we spend way too much time with them...it felt fairly self-indulgent and somewhat sank the film for me.