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Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies
I went and saw the new Firestarter movie today. This movie got some pretty bad reviews and low ratings, but I liked it. Although not as good as the original, this is still a worthwhile film with some cool moments and decent performances. My rating is

Tabu, 2012

Pilar (Teresa Madruga) lives in an apartment building in Lisbon, neighbor to Aurora (Laura Soveral) and Aurora's housekeeper/caretaker Santa (Isabel Cardoso). Aurora suffers from some sort of dementia and is convinced that Santa and her own daughter are out to get her. When Aurora ends up in the hospital, a mysterious man from her past appears and reveals details about Aurora's life on a farm in Africa.

This is a film that is neatly bisected into two parts: the present and the past. I have to say that at first I was not into the second half. After the interesting dynamic between Pilar, Santa, and Aurora, the sequences of Aurora's life in Africa (done entirely in narrated sequences) didn't really grip me. But as the film went on, the story sucked me in and I ended up seeing both parts as equally interesting.

The performances are good in both halves of the film, though they have very different demands. In the second half of the film, only the narrator (Miguel Gomes) speaks. The actress playing the younger Aurora (Ana Moreira) and the actor playing her lover (Carloto Cotta) must do their work through just expressions and a sounds of the natural world around them.

This is a very beautiful movie, both in the more "real" present sequences and in the vaguely more fantasized past sequences. It's a great example of contemporary black and white, and how that can add to the dreaminess of a narrative.

When it comes to the past sequences, the film treads a little uncertainly around the role that Aurora's family plays as colonizers. It seems to want to acknowledge the damage and irreversible impact they have helped have on the local people, but also can't help a bit of romanticizing of Aurora striding around shooting the local wildlife. The impact of this is softened just a bit by the fact that what we see is filtered through the subjective point of view of one of the people from this past. Still, it's the only place where the film seems a bit unsure.

A solid drama and romance, and I'd easily recommend it.

Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies
X (2022) Bought the blu ray today and rewatched it. Fantastic film with great performances, especially from Mia Goth and the gorgeous Jenna Ortega. Entertaining, sexy and satisfying, X is one of the best films of the year. I'm bumping up my rating to

28th Hall of Fame

Young Man With a Horn (1950) -

I initially had a couple issues with this film, but it sat quite well for me upon reflection. One could say the film takes too long to get going, but I enjoyed how both halves of the film represented the right and wrong paths which Rick took. In the first half, it was implied that Jo was into Rick and they would eventually fall in love. Since Jo had similar interests as Rick and since her close friends were people in the same profession as him, you definitely got the sense that a relationship between the two of them would be healthy. In the second half though, Rick ultimately fell in love with Amy, Jo's friend. Amy was uninterested in Rick's music, spent little time around him, and they argued constantly, resulting in Rick neglecting his music and his friends (his rejection of Art stuck out as especially heartbreaking). Not only was the second half emotionally powerful, but it also twisted my expectations on the direction I thought the film was going to go in. I definitely couldn't imagine the second half being as impactful as it was without the first half which fleshed out the various characters. Fortunately, both halves of the film were given enough breathing room without them overstaying their welcome. Also, given that the film was released in 1950, bonus points to it for having positive African American representation. I did feel that the final couple minutes were rushed, but that's my only knock against the film.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Homebound (Sebastian Godwin, 2021)
The Day the Bookies Wept (Leslie Goodwins, 1939)
Morbius (Daniel Espinosa, 2022)
Long Day's Journey Into Night (Sidney Lumet, 1962)

Morphine addict Katharine Hepburn comforts her younger son Dean Stockwell who may be dying from TB. Cheap father Ralph Richardson and layabout older brother Jason Robards Jr. make up the rest of the dysfunctional family.
Deception (Arnaud Desplechin, 2021)
+ 5/10
The Argyle Secrets (Cy Endfield, 1948)
She Had to Say Yes (George Amy & Busby Berkeley, 1933)
George Carlin's American Dream (Judd Apatow & Michael Bonfiglio, 2022)

Thorough biography of the comedian covering his family, evolution of his style, interviews from those who appreciate his honesty and creativity, and clips of his specials and TV appearances.
Vendetta (Jared Cohn, 2022)
- 5/10
My Name Is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis, 1945)
- 6.5/10
Keyhole (Guy Maddin, 2011)
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (Akiva Schaffer, 2022)
+ 6.5/10

Chip (voice of John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) investigate the disappearance of former Rescue Ranger Monterey Jack (voice of Eric Bana) and encounters an ancient Peter Pan (voice of Will Arnett) and innumerable other toons.
Memory (Martin Campbell, 2022)
Bright Lights (Michael Curtiz, 1930)
When Were You Born (William C. McGann, 1938)
Seven Days in May (John Frankenheimer, 1964)

U.S. Air Force Colonel Kirk Douglas finds that his boss, General Burt Lancaster, may be instigating a military coup against the unpopular President (Fredric March) over his arms treaty with the Soviets.
Private Property (Chadd Harbold, 2022)
- 5/10
Goodbye Charlie (Vincente Minnelli, 1964)
The Center of the World (Wayne Wang, 2001)
+ 5/10
Mariner of the Mountains (Karim Aïnouz, 2021)
- 6.5/10

The director takes a poetic journey to his father's homeland of Algeria with the memory of his Brazilian mother to guide him where he meets several of his father's relatives.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Set Fire to the Stars, 2014

In 1950, poet and professor John Brinnan (Elijah Wood) invites Dylan Tomas (Celyn Jones) to New York to do a poetry reading tour across the country. But Thomas's hard partying ways make him difficult for Brinnan to control, and as Brinnan watches the different reactions to Thomas, he begins to question his own life as a man and as an artist.

This is one of those frustrating films where the stronger elements seem to be at war with the weaker elements, ultimately ending up as something that doesn't make nearly the impression as a whole that it might have.

One of those strengths is the performances from Wood and Jones. Both men feel lived in, though I must confess that as someone who only knows Thomas from his works and doesn't really know Brinnan at all, I can't speak to how much I feel they nailed the vibe of their biographical subjects. Wood always does a good job at playing mildly anxious (yet determined) characters, and he has good chemistry with Jones as one man who needs to let himself feel more and another man who feels a little too much.

What lets them down, however, is the writing and the overall pace of the film. There's a meandering to the film that just doesn't work well, and the question "where is this all going?" kept popping up for me, and not in a good way.

Now that said, there are a handful of small moments that really sing, and there is one really stellar sequence where Brinnan and Thomas spend an evening with Shirley Jackson (played by the outstandingly weird Shirley Henderson) and her husband. Jackson tells a scary story of her own writing, which then leads Brinnan to reveal his own horrible true story of an incident of animal cruelty he participated in as a teenager.

Overall, though, it's a bit mushy and lacking in impact. The black and white photography is very pretty and the leads are engaging, but it isn't really enough to recommend (aside from the sequence with Shirley Jackson).

13 Foreign Language movies to go

By Relativity Media - The poster art can or could be obtained from Relativity Media., Fair use,

Before I Wake - (2016)

When little Cody Morgan (Jacob Tremblay) sleeps and dreams, those dreams come to life in the real world - so if he has a nightmare it's time to be worried. I usually hate CGI effects, but here is one of those times they really work - because Cody's dream manifestations are supposed to have an aura of 'fakeness' about them. A superficial veneer of what his imagination creates. Director Mike Flanagan has a reputation as a horror filmmaker who makes 'thinking person's' horror films, and his first feature, Absentia, I enjoyed very much when it came out in 2011. Here, Cody's new mother (Jessie Hobson, played by Kate Bosworth) uses and exploits Cody to bring back her dead infant son - and she can't quite see that it's just a reflection, and not real. There are some decent scares, but overall the film's screenplay (by Flanagan and Jeff Howard) lacks that sharp edge which might make this film stand out. It's a rewatch for me, so I did think it worth going back to reappraise on memory. It's a neat little film, but nothing extraordinarily special.


Short Film Bonanza :

The Robbery (2017) - 7/10 - Jim Cummings, one-shot short film featuring a drug addict continually distracted by her cell phone.
Paradox (2006) - 8/10 - Clever short with two people down a well. One from the middle ages, the other from the present. Which time period is the true one?
The Crush (2010) - 6/10 - Cute one, with a little kid challenging his teacher's fiancé to a duel.
Guest (2020) - 4/10 - A woman blinds herself to avoid seeing a horrifying visitor.
Home Education (2016) - 8/10 - A home schooled kid is taught crazy stuff by her demented mother, which includes the fact that her dead father is rotting to "test her".
Other Side of the Box (2018) - 7/10 - Ever-so-creepy film about a magical box you can never take your eyes off - lest the creatures within come out.
We Die Alone (2020) - 6/10 - A guy afraid to talk to girls finally sums up the courage...but he really picked the wrong girl.
Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair (2009) - 8/10 - Guy Maddin short, which features an electric chair which exhibits what is in your mind.
Odilon Redon or The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity (1995) - 7/10 - Another crazy Guy Maddin short.
Sissy-Boy Slap-Party (2004) - 8/10 - A kind of silly and funny Maddin short.
Zookeeper Workbook (1997) - 6/10 - Another crazy Maddin short.
Elms (2014) - 6/10 - A creepy Maddin short.
Odin’s Shield Maiden (2007) - 6/10 - Another crazy Maddin short.
Sorrowful Shadow (2004) - 7/10 - A Maddin short in colour, about death and grief.
Spanky: To the Pier and Back (2008) - 9/10 - An absolutely awesome Maddin short.
The Present (2020) - 8/10 - Oscar-nominated short about Palestinians and Israelis. Quite good.
Two Distant Strangers (2020) - 8/10 - Oscar-winning short which is praised and absolutely panned in equal measure.
Feeling Through (2019) - 7/10 - Oscar-nominated short that made me realise all Oscar-nominated shorts are about social and political issues.
The Neighbors’ Window (2019) - 6/10 - Another Oscar-nominated short that teaches us all a lesson.
Groundhog Day for a Black Man (2016) - 7/10 - The short that Two Distant Strangers seems to have plagiarized.
My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

Latest Review : Rams (2015)

Registered User

The Shoveler and Johnny Storm teamed up?

Registered User

Memberberries in crack form. Let's do this beat. You liked this in '86. OK, now we do this beat. The only change is stealing the trench run on the Death Star for the 3rd act. It's everything you expect and less.

2 out of 7 G's pulled.