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Due to a holiday weekend of free Showtime (including On Demand) I got to watch a movie I've wanted to see since I first heard about it...

Swiss Army Man (2018).

Despite knowing the basic premise, it wasn't what I expected...

WARNING: "And now..." spoilers below
I expected it to be silly, but it quickly turns completely cartoonish. It could have been interpreted as a look into the madness brought on by involuntary solitude if not for things depicted that are beyond the realm of possibility - we are left to wonder were these things actually happening since you can't ride a dead body like a jet-ski, or are these just more hallucinations of the protagonist? Then I started interpreting it as a study (from the POV of the protagonist) of the relationship between Tom Hanks and "Wilson" in Castaway (2000) - but taken to a different extreme. Then it kind of turns into a necrophilic Brokeback Mountain (2005)! Ultimately, it ends up being an indictment of the social taboos against farting!


Surreal, uplifting at times, depressing at others, introspective with a few scattered chuckles, yet overall; entertaining and amusing. A weird film beyond just the unusual premise.
I was surprised at how much I liked Swiss Army Man. Here's my glowing review of it, Swiss Army Man




Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

I was looking forward to seeing life-like monsters and their battles generated by state of the art CGI. In that respect the film was a bona fide winner, with phenomenal design and construction. It must have taken months of technical work to create the monsters and city settings to put this movie together.

The story, however, was all over the map; not incoherent, but there were too many elements jammed into one narrative. IMO the combination of live monsters and sci-fi seem to cancel each other out

It’s understandable that the producers strove for something different for the 36th Godzilla and the 12th King Kong picture. However the nature of the story does not allow for memorable acting performances. Of the cast, Rebecca Hall did a workwoman-like performance, and was able to represent the most appealing range of emotions. Alexander Skarsgaard did okay as the unwitting and ill-fitted semi-milquetoast scientist (a stronger character would have been appreciated). For the first half of the film every time Millie Bobby Brown appeared, I wondered what she was doing off the set of Stranger Things. There was only a fleeting glance of Lance Reddick from Bosch fame. One assumes that some of his part was edited out, letting his fee accounting flutter to the floor.

The big star of course was Kong. His construction, design, movement, facial expression, et al was wonderful. Kong was given a much wider “acting”
range than was Godzilla. There was an interesting collaboration of the two at one point against a common enemy. But at the end they parted ways, all set up for another sequel.

Doc’s rating: 4/10 story, 5/10 acting, 9/10 CGI



I was surprised at how much I liked Swiss Army Man. Here's my glowing review of it, Swiss Army Man
I like to analyze things - so I have to wonder if there are camouflaged messages to what was really going on...

WARNING: "May contain spoilers..." spoilers below
Was "Hank" (Paul Dano) ever on a deserted island?
We're given no background to how he got there - there's no real mention of a boat trip or plane crash that left him on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
Since it's impossible to ride a dead body across the ocean - how did he then end up in a forest in the Pacific Northwest?
A clue to the idea that he may never have been on a desert island or even stranded anywhere (but just insane) may have come near the end where authorities locate Hank's camp (all the stuff he built) just yards beyond the property he ends up at.
Earlier in the film we were left to assume he made all this stuff while lost deep in the woods, hundreds of miles from civilization - yet, almost the whole time he was just yards away from a community. So maybe the desert island just represented his state of mind - when actually he had just run away into the woods and was close to civilization the whole time?



I like to analyze things - so I have to wonder if there are camouflaged messages to what was really going on...

WARNING: "May contain spoilers..." spoilers below
Was "Hank" (Paul Dano) ever on a deserted island?
We're given no background to how he got there - there's no real mention of a boat trip or plane crash that left him on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
Since it's impossible to ride a dead body across the ocean - how did he then end up in a forest in the Pacific Northwest?
A clue to the idea that he may never have been on a desert island or even stranded anywhere (but just insane) may have come near the end where authorities locate Hank's camp (all the stuff he built) just yards beyond the property he ends up at.
Earlier in the film we were left to assume he made all this stuff while lost deep in the woods, hundreds of miles from civilization - yet, almost the whole time he was just yards away from a community. So maybe the desert island just represented his state of mind - when actually he had just run away into the woods and was close to civilization the whole time?
Interesting premise. I guess like most movies & most art, one can see different truths depending on how one looks at it. Me? I just thought it was an interesting movie, I didn't ponder any deeper meaning. Maybe the directors had something else to say? I don't know.



FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!
(1965, Meyer)
A film from Russ Meyer



"I never try anything. I just do it. And I don't beat clocks, just people! Wanna try me?"

That's the power statement of Varla (Tura Santana), a go-go dancer turned criminal, as he faces young "All-American boy" Tommy (Ray Barlow) and his girlfriend Linda (Susan Bernard). Her statement might be born out of a general hatred and disgust towards specific men (like the ones screaming at them in the opening, "Go! Go!"), but it can also be seen as a statement of defiance against the established dominance of the traditional "All-American man".

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! follows Varla, Rosie (Haji), and Billie (Lori Williams), who end up getting rid of Tommy and kidnapping Linda. When they stumble upon an old man (Stuart Lancaster) and his two adult sons, they find out they might be hiding a lot of money, so they decide to con them.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
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Re: Dead & Buried (perhaps a bit spoilerific)...

Some of the things I liked were how it effectively treaded the line between several horror sub-genres...

WARNING: spoilers below

(i.e. creepy small town, slasher, zombie film)

Also, how the director avoids repetition and monotony by treating each kill from a different angle (first kill kinda creeps on you since you don't expect it, and has that creepy vibe of seeing all these regular folks in on it... the fisherman one relies more on foggy atmosphere, jumpscares, and gore... the hospital one gets you cringing and fidgeting... and the family one has more to do with the constant dread and atmosphere of being trapped and surrounded).


I also thought that Farentino was pretty solid, but really enjoyed Jack Albertson as the coroner. I think he stole most of his scenes.

Finally, the special effects from Stan Winston were superb.
Totally agreed regarding the synthesizing of several horror subgenres. Even the aspect of them
WARNING: spoilers below
filming/photographing their killings adds this weird dimension to it, existing in this weird space between performance art and pornography
.



FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!
(1965, Meyer)
A film from Russ Meyer





That's the power statement of Varla (Tura Santana), a go-go dancer turned criminal, as he faces young "All-American boy" Tommy (Ray Barlow) and his girlfriend Linda (Susan Bernard). Her statement might be born out of a general hatred and disgust towards specific men (like the ones screaming at them in the opening, "Go! Go!"), but it can also be seen as a statement of defiance against the established dominance of the traditional "All-American man".
This is what happens when you give women the vote!



Shame (1968) -


This war drama is another impressive addition to Bergman's large body of films. Though some of the themes it boasts (dehumanization) aren't the most original for the genre, I really appreciated the way it handled this aspect. The various struggles that Eva and Jan experienced influenced their connection to each other and their willingness to commit heinous acts to survive. Early on in the film, for example, Jan was unable to kill a chicken, but later developed the stomach to kill another person. By contrast, while Eva was more sympathetic, Jan's actions lead to her despair and her feeling of disconnection from him later on. While the characterizations were effective though, I was mainly drawn to how the film appeared to be anti-war. For instance, we never learn what war was going on in the film. It might as well be a fictitious war. We also don't learn much about why the war is going on. Given the lack of insight over those details, Bergman didn't appear to glamourize either side. While the invading forces obviously caused problems for the two protagonists and other people around them, the army on their side wasn't depicted in a positive light either. In addition to a couple scenes of the soldiers mistreating their own citizens, Col. Jacobi also took advantage of and used Eva and Jan for his own purposes, just like the invading forces who interviewed the couple did. For the most part, I really loved this film, though I wasn't sure what to make of the ending sequence. While it contained some of the most horrifying imagery in the film, the tonal jump from war drama to survival thriller felt like a strange culmination to the film's themes. In spite of that, I really enjoyed my time with this film.



This is what happens when you give women the vote!
Don't forget smoking, driving, and putting them in pants!





Take Aim at the Police Van, 1960

A police van transporting prisoners is attacked and several inmates are killed. A prison guard named Tamon (Michitaro Mizushima) is accused of negligence and is defamed in the local papers. Incensed, he sets out to determine who was behind the attack on the prison van.

This film starts out incredibly strong. The attack on the prison van is well-staged, and the first part of Tamon's investigation includes some really striking moments, such as when one of his leads, a dancer/stripper(?) is killed by being shot through the chest with an arrow. There is a constant sense of lurking danger and possibly even broader conspiracy. When Tamon visits the house of the woman's employer and sees a wealthy woman practicing archery with incredible accuracy, I was like "Oh, yes." This is the kind of film that trades in a very engaging outlandishness meant to keep you guessing the whole way through.

And yet I have to say that around the halfway mark my attention began to flag. Was this due to my mood? Due to the film? I'm not 100% sure. All I know is that all of a sudden there would be men running around with guns and I wasn't totally sure who they were and I just didn't have the interest to rewind to try and figure it out. The second half of the film has some memorable set-pieces (including a truck dripping gasoline that is being chased by an encroaching flame as the main character is tied to the steering wheel), but I felt that I had lost the plot and it reduced the impact of it all.

I did really enjoy the way that the film was shot. Despite some aspects having a sort of B-movie feel, there were some really neat angles and stagings of things, such as the way that a bridge/overpass frames a certain character after he has been in a fight with another man. Just these occasional moments of really nice composition and artistry.

I wish I'd stayed engaged with this one. Again, I'm not sure of this was on my end of things or if the film itself maybe just ran out of steam or was unclear in its second half. This was another entry in the Criterion Japanese Noir collection and I'm glad I checked it out.




Maybe about 7 or 8 episodes? It was like 8 or 9 years ago.
Wait, only about seven sessions? That's less than a third of the entire show, and if it was the first seven, then you would've left off at around "Heavy Metal Queen", which, while a good session, is still far from being one of the show's best; there are plenty of sessions past that are around the same level as "Ballad Of Fallen Angels", and there's a good reason why I reviewed (almost) every session back on the Corrie, trust me. Anyway, regarding the "BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS" complaint, I noticed the occasional gratuity of it too, but the show is so much more than that, especially when it comes to its characterization of Faye (although even a character as minor as Judy still subverts that trope at one point); I mean, part of the reason why Faye dresses and behaves the way she does is to catch her male bounties off guard, and even then, her status as the show's resident "Ms. Fanservice" is still undermined by her personality as an unpleasant "woman with attitude" (as Spike literally calls her at one point), and on top of that, that unlikeable facade is what increasingly cracks over the course of the series, as her backstory gets explored more and more:



So to bring this full circle back to my other #1 show, I disagree with anyone out there who may act as though Faye was there just for the fanservice as much as I do with the people who claim Skyler was meant to be the "real" bad guy on Breaking Bad, IMO.




The Phantom Carriage (1921, Victor Sjöström)

The film that inspired Ingmar Bergman to become a filmmaker, and it's a wonder to behold. Innovative special effect techniques, coupled with the groundbreaking use of flashbacks and overall impressive visual style, make this a milestone of Swedish, European and world cinema. The story itself is pretty straightforward in its morality, but the way it's executed is downright transfixing - and cathartic.





Re-watch. So good.
One of the best examples of a movie that's a slow burn in a good way. I remember the ending absolutely destroyed me the first time I watched it. Love it.





Too many unnecessary humans.
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Man in the Vault (1956)
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring: William Campbell, Karen Sharpe, Anita Ekberg, Paul Fix

Fair 50's B-grade crime drama from John Wayne's Batjac Productions. Campbell gives a solid performance as Tommy Dancer, locksmith, who doesn't want to get involved in crime but then doesn't try too hard to avoid it either, getting involved with various crims and associated women along the way, which naturally escalate matters. Decent entry in the genre.

7/10



Una farfalla con le ali insanguinate (1971)
aka The Bloodstained Butterfly

A mix of Giallo, police procedural, and courtroom drama. Lots of unlikable people, and a surprisingly coherent plot. As the majority of the Italian films of this era, it looks beautiful. Surprising to see a film like this on Netflix.
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2001 Monolith spotted at McDonald's Drive Thru
Devil All the Time
Netflix
4/5
Like a good Quentin Tarantino movie: bold characters, goes for the throat, and offers no apologies.
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2001 monolith recently seen at McDonald's Drive Thru



Wait, only about seven sessions? That's less than a third of the entire show, and if it was the first seven, then you would've left off at around "Heavy Metal Queen", which, while a good session, is still far from being one of the show's best; there are plenty of sessions past that are around the same level as "Ballad Of Fallen Angels", and there's a good reason why I reviewed (almost) every session back on the Corrie, trust me. Anyway, regarding the "BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS" complaint, I noticed the occasional gratuity of it too, but the show is so much more than that, especially when it comes to its characterization of Faye (although even a character as minor as Judy still subverts that trope at one point); I mean, part of the reason why Faye dresses and behaves the way she does is to catch her male bounties off guard, and even then, her status as the show's resident "Ms. Fanservice" is still undermined by her personality as an unpleasant "woman with attitude" (as Spike literally calls her at one point), and on top of that, that unlikeable facade is what increasingly cracks over the course of the series, as her backstory gets explored more and more
I mean, it might be more than that. But it also . . . is that.

It's hard finding anime that doesn't include female character design that looks like the animator was drawing her with one hand and furiously masturbating with the other and I appreciate that Cowboy Bebop has a sense of humor and some good character development. But clearly it wasn't enough to keep me engage several years ago.

It's on my list of "stuff I should probably revisit".