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Rewatch. It's even better than I remembered.
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Deck the Halls (2006)
An OK Christmas comedy which raises quite a few laughs.
I watched that one a lot as a kid since my parents are fans of it. Like The Polar Express though, which my teachers showed pretty much every year in grade school, I'm tired of both films at this point.
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IMDb
Letterboxd






9/10

This one of the best films I've ever seen. Many fine actors at the beginning of their careers.



Victim of The Night


Rewatch. It's even better than I remembered.
Yeah, I'm always pleasantly surprised when I re-watch it that it remains at least as good as I remember. I don't know why but it's one of those films I always think I was just in the right mood for or I was good and high for or whatever and that it won't hold up. Yet I never end up disappointed.



matt72582's Avatar
Please Quote/Tag Or I'll Miss Your Responses
Farha - 7.5/10
A critic described this as the post-WWII Anne Frank story. It's on Netflix. An 8.5/10 IMDB rating, despite the apartheid state wanting Netflix to shut down a true story (the teenage girl's name is the only difference)

WARNING: "Spoiler" spoilers below
I can't believe her father, the mayor, was the traitor. And that first war scene at the 20 minute mark felt real, unlike most movies that glorify violence.






The above two Violent Night reviews combined increased my interest in the film. Congratulations
If you don't mind blowing some money, what the heck. You could spend Saturday night in a worse way, like a flat tire in a creepy dark alley and a lost lug wrench. My partner and I stopped at the neighborhood food hall and I had a good pastrami sandwich before the movie, so all was not lost. Maybe I should have supplemented pastrami with some booze.

I'm not anybody's idea of a puritan, but I didn't get the "why?" part. I get anti-Christmas movies but this one just seemed bankrupt of ideas, with no real suspense. It wasn't enough of a Christmas satire to work well either and, truthfully, that genre has been done enough times to not seem like fertile ground.




Christmas Evil (1980)
Delves more into the mind of a madman than an actual slasher flick. Not in the same class as Black Christmas but a watchable festive horror.



Pain and Glory (2019)




I've heard that this is Almodovar's most personal film, and I'm guessing it's at least somewhat based on his life. Antonio Banderas and him really make a great team. He's great in the lead role. It's an engaging and touching film.





Green Book, 2018

Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is an accomplished pianist who is set to tour the southern United States with his musical trio in the 1960s. Aware that this may present certain frictions, Shirley hires the imposing Tony "Lip" (Viggo Mortensen) as a chauffeur and implicit bodyguard for his trip. As the hours on the road wind on, the two men begin to come to a mutual understanding, despite the very different circumstances of their lives.

Despite good chemistry between Ali and Mortensen, and good performances from both of them, the broad strokes of the overall story keep this one at merely decent levels.

The strength of the film lies in the burgeoning bromance between Don and Tony. They are divided by race, life experience, sexuality, and cultural capital. While the plot arc focuses much more on Tony and his increased awareness of the impact of racism, Don is the more interesting character. Classically trained at a prestigious international school, he has foregone his dreams of being a classical pianist at his record label's insistence that he play pop music for the masses. Determined to be acknowledged with the same respect that would be given his white equivalent, Don adheres religiously to maintaining his dignity. His mannerisms and habits set him apart from the other Black people he encounters, while he is repeatedly slighted, humiliated, or even assaulted by the white people. Ali does a great job of showing the way that at every turn Don must calculate the degree to which he can resist the racism he endures, and that even convenience will not cause him to compromise his principles.

Tony, by contrast, feels like more of a caricature. In scene after scene he is shocked, shocked to discover that racism is, like, a real thing. Don isn't allowed to try on a suit in a store: shocked! Don isn't allowed to eat dinner in a fancy restaurant: shocked!

The best scenes of the film are when the movie simply lets the characters interact. While it feels a bit saccharine, I grudgingly enjoyed the sequences where Don helps Tony fancy up the letters he is writing home to his wife.

But when the movie gets into more broad scenes, it really clangs. The pair are pulled over by a pair of racist police officers, contrasted with a scene back North where the policeman just wants to tell them that they have a flat tire. Tony and Don get into it with a restaurant manager who won't let Don into the dining room. In these scenes, the dialogue morphs into something horribly bland: "We have our traditions!" It's just . . . like a bad high school play.

In many ways, by stretching the story out over their whole trip, it robs the different sequences of a chance to breathe. In on particularly frustrating sequence, Don is caught by the police in a compromising situation with a man at the YMCA. Tony is called into resolve the situation, which he does by bribing the police. Don goes free with Tony, and the young man who we last saw naked and handcuffed at the mercy of a trio of homophobes . . . . who knows?! Was he also set free? Was he arrested? In the desire to move things along, moments and characters that feel like they deserve more time are instead just dropped by the wayside. If I had my way, the entire film would have focused on just a single day of the trip, actually giving the characters to develop beyond platitudes.

It's annoying, because both Ali and Mortensen bring a fun balance of warmth and quirk to their characters, and they have really solid chemistry. But the film around them really doesn't give them as much to work with. I love Ali in particular (his performance in Moonlight is stellar) and I always like seeing Mortensen. The lack of depth is disappointing.




10 Foreign Language movies to go

Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18448631

Happy Endings - (2005)

"Happy Endings" refers to the term that's used for giving a massage client sexual gratification after a massage - but of course the broader meaning extends to encompass everything that happens in this. It's a star-studded ensemble piece - a poor man's Magnolia with a plethora of gay characters and extraordinarily unlikely coincidences occurring that lead to many characters making multiple connections to others - like these are the only 8 people on the entire planet. Abortion, exploitation, trust - adoption, honesty - you get the picture. If you've seen a few of these things you'll get the general tone. It's pretty good really - Lisa Kudrow, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Steve Coogan give fantastic performances, and the film also includes Tom Arnold, Laura Dern and Jason Ritter. But there was one thing that left a bad taste :

Early on in Happy Endings a slew of text (Don Roos really doesn't mind using it to advance his story) gave me pause. It went along the lines of "Charley Peppitone, like so many people do these days, decided he was gay." I'm not gay, but I still felt rubbed up the wrong way by the implication of "sexual orientation is a choice" - and you better believe this is followed up during the film, with various characters flip-flopping on their sexuality. At one point Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, Jude, pointedly says that she believes being gay is a choice one makes - which made for one more uncomfortable moment. Abortion is given a more even-handed treatment, although the implication from everything we see is that many women suffer regrets. I don't know how conservative Roos is, but I know he was born into a conservative Roman Catholic family. I'm pretty sure he's not an extremist nut, but he's also willing to go out and do these controversial things with his film.

All up an interesting "I never knew this film existed" star-studded ensemble piece that really has it's moments - both good and bad.

6/10
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.




10 Foreign Language movies to go

By TaleBox - IMDb (direct link to file), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72408815

Farha - (2021)

Locked in a storage room, young Farha witnesses brutal killings by Israeli troops during the 1948 Palestine war - she's the daughter of the local mayor, and hopes to go to school for higher education - despite the education of females being looked down upon. In fact, before the bullets start to fly her strict but kindly father fills out the enrollment form for her. He disappears, and Farha can't get out - having to find ways to survive and escape. I'm uneducated as far as the whole story of this conflict is concerned - but wherever there are armies and hatred, there are atrocities. It's kind of nonsensical for right-wing Israeli politicians to criticize what is shown in this film - of all the people in the world, you'd think they understand the importance of accepting guilt and not denying crimes of the past. We can't just accept one side of the story while denying the other a voice - and I'll always be open to listening to both sides. Great to see a female director making a mark in the Arab world.

8/10



Victim of The Night


Green Book, 2018

Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is an accomplished pianist who is set to tour the southern United States with his musical trio in the 1960s. Aware that this may present certain frictions, Shirley hires the imposing Tony "Lip" (Viggo Mortensen) as a chauffeur and implicit bodyguard for his trip. As the hours on the road wind on, the two men begin to come to a mutual understanding, despite the very different circumstances of their lives.

Despite good chemistry between Ali and Mortensen, and good performances from both of them, the broad strokes of the overall story keep this one at merely decent levels.

The strength of the film lies in the burgeoning bromance between Don and Tony. They are divided by race, life experience, sexuality, and cultural capital. While the plot arc focuses much more on Tony and his increased awareness of the impact of racism, Don is the more interesting character. Classically trained at a prestigious international school, he has foregone his dreams of being a classical pianist at his record label's insistence that he play pop music for the masses. Determined to be acknowledged with the same respect that would be given his white equivalent, Don adheres religiously to maintaining his dignity. His mannerisms and habits set him apart from the other Black people he encounters, while he is repeatedly slighted, humiliated, or even assaulted by the white people. Ali does a great job of showing the way that at every turn Don must calculate the degree to which he can resist the racism he endures, and that even convenience will not cause him to compromise his principles.

Tony, by contrast, feels like more of a caricature. In scene after scene he is shocked, shocked to discover that racism is, like, a real thing. Don isn't allowed to try on a suit in a store: shocked! Don isn't allowed to eat dinner in a fancy restaurant: shocked!

The best scenes of the film are when the movie simply lets the characters interact. While it feels a bit saccharine, I grudgingly enjoyed the sequences where Don helps Tony fancy up the letters he is writing home to his wife.

But when the movie gets into more broad scenes, it really clangs. The pair are pulled over by a pair of racist police officers, contrasted with a scene back North where the policeman just wants to tell them that they have a flat tire. Tony and Don get into it with a restaurant manager who won't let Don into the dining room. In these scenes, the dialogue morphs into something horribly bland: "We have our traditions!" It's just . . . like a bad high school play.

In many ways, by stretching the story out over their whole trip, it robs the different sequences of a chance to breathe. In on particularly frustrating sequence, Don is caught by the police in a compromising situation with a man at the YMCA. Tony is called into resolve the situation, which he does by bribing the police. Don goes free with Tony, and the young man who we last saw naked and handcuffed at the mercy of a trio of homophobes . . . . who knows?! Was he also set free? Was he arrested? In the desire to move things along, moments and characters that feel like they deserve more time are instead just dropped by the wayside. If I had my way, the entire film would have focused on just a single day of the trip, actually giving the characters to develop beyond platitudes.

It's annoying, because both Ali and Mortensen bring a fun balance of warmth and quirk to their characters, and they have really solid chemistry. But the film around them really doesn't give them as much to work with. I love Ali in particular (his performance in Moonlight is stellar) and I always like seeing Mortensen. The lack of depth is disappointing.

I could not bring myself to watch this film, I still can't honestly, and I don't think I ever will.
I saw the trailers and read an article or two, mostly because I have had an interest in "The Negro Travelers' Green Book" for many years, being an (always) emerging anti-racist in The South, and because Mahershala Ali stunned me in, of all things, Marvel's Luke Cage, and because I usually like Mortensen.
Despite all that, this movie reeked of being an over-sentimentalized, white-apologist, Oscar-bait movie, hopefully the last of its kind. And pretty much everything I've read about it confirms that impression and I can't come across anyone who will actually say, yes, this is a really good movie. And I'm left wondering if the best films will ever actually win that award (though that's another discussion), or if it will just perpetually be a series of biopics and movies that make rich white people feel like they have the right sort of feelings.




Easy to spot the red herrings but not the actual killer.

Whenever I see this title I cannot help but imagine it as a different kind of movie.




Is it just me or are wacky period mysteries coming out of the woodwork now? Who ordered the Gatsby with cheese?