Rate The Last Movie You Saw

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I think you meant
.

I mean, Christopher Walken wants to
WARNING: spoilers below
suck the soul of a sociopathic Vietnam War general out of the mouth of a little girl!

Viggo Mortenson is the devil!

The sign in the morgue says "Fridges are for bodies, not beer!"


In all seriousness, the film has just enough personality and quirky touches (like Adam Goldberg and Amanda Plummer as the unwilling reanimated assistants, or the way that the angles are able to defy physics and perch like birds) that I kind of love it. The story is bonkers but coherent, and the leads are enjoyable.
Sigh... I gotta say I'm with him. I watched it once, I won't watch it again.



The Peanut Butter Falcon -


This is a heartwarming and funny road movie that succeeds for what it doesn't do as much as for what it does right. I tend to avoid movies with premises that can be described as quirky like this one because they often invite us to laugh at their subjects rather than with them. Thankfully, it avoids this trap by presenting Tyler (LaBeouf) and Zack (Gottsagen) in a way that makes you empathize with and root for them. It also sidesteps the pitfall of being cloying and manipulative that similar movies tend to fall into
I watched this with my sister and her husband. All three of us have done significant amounts of work with people with disabilities (and I currently have a student with severe Down Syndrome). This movie got so many things right that are often gotten so wrong. I specifically loved the speech/fight about Johnson's character babying Zack and the message that sends him. ("You might not be saying the word 'retard', alright, I'll give you that, but you're damn sure is making him feel retarded.")

I was also very impressed with the way that they portrayed Tyler's journey and specifically his guilt and grief over the loss of his brother. Making connections to other people, needing them and letting them need you, takes off some of the intensity, but deep sorrow like that doesn't just go away.

And while Johnson's character got the least development, I liked the way that she came to an understanding that good intentions aren't enough. (And, to be fair, many people --especially young women--are thrust into positions of caring for people/children with disabilities without the proper training).

Altogether I thought that the film was fantastic. And if it did have a few moments that tripped a little too close to "feel good", I thought the movie had more than earned them.



Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

A step (or stride) above Lenzi's Cannibal Ferox both in quality and in gruesomeness. I suppose Deodato is just a better filmmaker. A pessimistic and bleak portrayal of humanity and civilization. I don't think its message is as clear-cut as many reviews seem to think, and it goes well beyond the critique of sensationalist media (or if it doesn't it's rather poorly written).
I did not "like" this movie per se, just because its content is so unpleasant, but I also thought it was better than people say and I agree that people do the reductionist "Who are the real monsters" thing just to lazily dismiss the film.



/removes Wooley from Christmas card list.
Ouch.



I watched Unhinged today, and I cannot understand why someone like Crowe would do this. He was great (almost looked like an angry John Goodman) and I can't fault the other actors in the movie, but what was the point. This could easily have been a YouTube short.



Fine.

/puts Wooley back on the list.
/Removes Tak from Christmas card list for being weak willed



/removes Tak and Wooley from Christmas card list for overdramatic.

/removes MKS from Christmas card list for agitator
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Some recent high scores...

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927) -
Pretty good film that just got better with a second viewing for me.

Hitch prefers to think of this as his debut, which I can understand, having also watched The Pleasure Garden recently (his actual debut, and not very good). I consider The Lodger to be one of the best films in his oeuvre.
I don't know how Hitchcock felt about this or The Pleasure Garden, but I found the latter to be pretty solid.

Actually, it makes me wonder if the man would have been better suited for the silent era, which almost makes sense except that the notion is immediately dispelled when one remembers what he gave us with his talkies.
This reminds me of his quote where he says that you should be able to turn the sound off a film and still understand what's going on. Either way, he was a master of cinema.



Kajillionaire (2020)

Alright story about a grown up child in a family of grifters. She is expected now to provide ideas and pick up the slack for her parents. Story was ok but rather one dimensional, Evan Rachel Wood was really good in it and you can tell the frustration in her performance.



/removes Tak and Wooley from Christmas card list for overdramatic.

/removes MKS from Christmas card list for agitator
OVERDRAMATIC?!





David Byrne, American Utopia, 2019

This is a concert documentary of Byrne's show that played on Broadway, filmed by Spike Lee.

I thought this was pretty excellent. Byrne and his collection of singers/musicians/dancers are all bursting with talent. The dance choreography is complex and meticulous, but very accessible so that it always adds to what is happening on stage.

Some of Byrne's between-song dialogue might seem too on the nose for some people, but I appreciated that he made his points (at times bluntly) and then got back to the music. Like it or not, the dialogue firmly grounds this performance in time and place--urging people to register to vote, and a song commemorating Black victims of police violence (feel depressed as you realize how many more people died in the time between the performance of the song and watching it now--for example George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are honored in images following the song).

In terms of the filming itself, I quite liked Lee's approach, which made use of bold camera moves and angles that gave the film a dynamic, intimate, and exhilarating feeling without the sense that you are missing important moments.

I would totally watch this again.





Diana, 2018

A framing device shows us a high-end escort, Sofia, being interviewed by a journalist. We then watch as a man, Juno, whose company is about to go big books a date with her.

This movie suckered me in with an interesting cover, and I was very underwhelmed.

I'll start by admitting that I didn't really understand what was happening at time (and whether it was meant to be real or in a character's head) and I did not care to rewind and figure it out. The two lead actors are . . . fine.

Movies LOVE to portray characters who are sex workers, as the explicit transactional nature of their work allows for exploration of the dynamics between men and women. But this film falls into some face-palming elements, such as asserting that sex workers are the ones with all the power (LOL, no!), asserting that it's the male clients who are most in danger when they visit sex workers (LOL! NO!), and just generally portraying things that make little sense (such as the main character booking two clients immediately back to back). The director also can't seem to resist throwing a ton of butt shots into the movie. These make sense when they seem to be from the male character's point of view--showing how Sofia is seducing him. But many of the shots . . . are just there. In a film that uses a lot of subjective/POV stuff, these disembodied jiggle shots stand out in a bad way. (And please pretend to be shocked when I tell you that a film portraying multiple sexual encounters only gets the male character undressed one time, and it's for a scene of sexual violence).

There's supposed to be this whole mystery element and Sofia has a past and what does her tattoo that says "Diana" mean and blah, blah, blah. The film totally underdelivers in this regard.

I was also confused by the film's idea of "edgy" sex play, because it casually includes strangulation (which is incredibly high risk) in several sequences, but later wants us to believe that Sofia putting her foot on Juno's face is, like, really intense power play. I just felt baffled much of the time about what the sex was supposed to be telling us about these characters and their relationship/dynamic.

I will say this for it: there is a dog that appears in the last act that earned the film a whole star. That's about the nicest thing I can say for it. At one point I was like "Oh, thank god. It's over." And then there were 20 more minutes.

Oh, and the ending makes zero sense. Skip.




/Rips up Christmas Card list only to realize such list doesn't exist. Worries about what document was actually destroyed.

Loved American Utopia. Watched it Election Night then rewatched it when Biden was announced. Hit differently but powerfully each time.

Spike Lee really killed it this year with AU and Da 5 Bloods.



Spike Lee really killed it this year with AU and Da 5 Bloods.
Still need to watch American Utopia. I loved Da 5 Bloods. I probably wrote the most about that film than any other film this year, classic, recent, or otherwise.



Run (2020)


I’ve been looking forward to this, and for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve read a lot about the film being simplistic/not really getting into
WARNING: spoilers below
mental health/ psychological implications of enduring health issues.
That’s fair enough, but as a thriller, it’s pretty good. The concept is old, but hasn’t been taken to such extremes in a while. It does become predictable once we know the ‘twist’, but that’s inevitable (
WARNING: spoilers below
and I think it’s fairly uncommon not to show the character’s full rehabilitation in the last scene
). It differs a lot from ‘Misery’ & ‘Boxing Helena’ because
WARNING: spoilers below
Chloe sees her situation as the norm and has never known anything else. There’s no ‘abduction’ moment and no flashback to when life became a confinement. In that way, it’s a lot more like ‘Room’ than any of the above.
. The only thing that felt genuinely underwritten/ridiculous was the stack of paper cuttings Diane keeps in the box. I mean; come on. Besides, who apart from serial killers would really save papers as any kind of keepsake? I’ve always felt that even as a plot device it’s not that great; no matter how it’s framed, any kind of ‘paperwork’ will always be telling instead of showing. But something about ‘telling’ the biggest twist (alright, maybe second biggest) of the film via press cuttings is just so, so old. Makes me think of ancient epistolary horror like ‘Frankenstein’.



I've been looking forward to this one ever since seeing the trailer on Hulu. Good to hear it's worth checking out!

The only thing that felt genuinely underwritten/ridiculous was the stack of paper cuttings Diane keeps in the box. I mean; come on. Besides, who apart from serial killers would really save papers as any kind of keepsake?
I would be interested to know how often people keep paperwork. I do feel as though it's not uncommon for people to keep mementos. I will admit that I totally horde paperwork--it took a lot of willpower to get rid of an electric bill from 15 years ago. Would I keep damning paperwork . . . honestly, I probably would.

However, I agree completely that it's a over-used trope that someone finds the bad guy's "scrapbook of evil". I don't mind it so much when main characters manage to find a clue in something like a library book or a yearbook or something--but maybe that's just the nerd in me being like "Yes! Books will solve our problems!".

I think that the device is used so often because it creates a situation where briefly the protagonist knows something that the antagonist doesn't think they know while at the same time being an exposition dump for the viewer.