Movie Diary 2018 by pahaK

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It's been years since I've seen Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane and I'd like to see it again. I don't know though since I love Last House on the Left and hated Deep Red



Kill and Kill Again (1981) r

That feeling when a childhood favorite turns out to be complete trash.

So, we have these random martial artists who are hired by the government to rescue a scientist who has managed to turn potatoes into super fuel. Unfortunately the process also produces mind control drug that his captor is using in his plan to take over the world. Road to dethroning Marduk (who has hilariously bad fake beard) leads our heroes, to where else but, New Babylon.



Script is, or tries its best at, following all the cliches: bondesque opening credits and starting scene, almost half of the film is spent gathering the group, lots of random fights, villain telling his plans and being generally stupid and awkward romance. It's almost like something a kid could write after seeing few action movies.

Despite of the fact that some actors are decorated martial artists the fight scenes are often terrible. Considering the obviously low budget couple of things actually do look nice: opening credits and the scene where main character blocks a bullet. Everything else is, either by purpose or accident, silly and clumsy.

Nine-year-old me would have given this five popcorn without hesitation but present day me just lost a dear childhood memory.




Black Narcissus (1947) n

Spotted this from the Beautiful Films thread though I'm quite certain this has been on my (imaginary) watch list at some earlier point too but I just forgot to watch it.



Storywise Black Narcissus offers very little new for modern viewers and its problems with US censorship made me shake my head in disbelief. It's a story about nuns in a remote and foreing place, far from the guiding hand of the church, and how the divine calling and human nature conflict with each other. For someone like me it's ultimately a story about the fallacy of faith.

By far the best thing in the film is its gorgeous sets and painted backgrounds. It's amazing that all the scenes in the Himalayas were shot in studio. On the negative side cinematography as a whole is uninspired and they manage to waste most of the visual potential of the settings. There are only few scenes where everything works. It's also unfortunate that the film was made during the time of 1.375:1 aspect ratio which doesn't support it at all.

Acting is mostly very theatrical and melodramatic. This gets emphasized by British actors doing most of the major native roles like Kanchi and Ayah. Only exceptions to silly acting are Deborah Kerr, who does good job as young sister superior, and Kathleen Byron as mentally unstable sister Ruth.

Naive characters in fabulous settings doing lame melodrama. Much wasted potential in both visual and story deparments. The concept is good but, being as old as it is, the execution is far too timid.



Recommended movies: The Devils (1971) that does the whole sexually repressed nuns thing much better.



Moonrise Kingdom (2012) n

I'm pretty sure this was the first Wes Anderson movie I saw but I think I'll need to give a chance to his other works too, even though I'm not a huge fan of animated films.



On the surface Moonrise Kingdom is a children's movie taking its aesthetics, structure and, to some extent, characters from that genre but some of its themes and slightly darker approach separate it form the genre. It mixes the mundane and ordinary with fantastic and naive, just like it mixes silly children's movie with proper drama. It's a mix that works.

Visually Moonrise Kingdom is quite beautiful but occasionally it overdoes its simple aesthetics. Story is very formulaic but the film is mostly about the presentation. Characters, especially adults, are very shallow and, like in children's movies in general, they impersonate a single trait rather than being fully developed persons. Only exceptions to this are the two main characters who are a bit more detailed but not exactly deep either (I did like them so "not deep" isn't exactly a negative thing here).

Acting is fitting but most of the characters don't offer much for the actors. Murray and McDormand as a Bishop couple do perhaps the best perfomances. Leading kids are fine but both of them are written to be very stoic and emotionless which they handle very well.

Child characters allow many topics to be handled differently (it feels more natural to exaggerate and simplify things with children, to be more purely something) and I'm usually a fan of that. While there were flaws in the film I did like it quite a bit.




Death Wish (2018) n

I love vigilante films but hate Eli Roth so I had pretty mixed expectations.



I haven't read the book so I can't say if the original 1974 film is more true to it than this but the two films have very little in common: name of the protagonist is the same, his family's fate is very similar, there's an eye opening trip to Texas and then there's the attitude. Everything else is changed and most of it for worse.

Roth is still bad director (sure, there are worse out there but they're not making movies with $30M budgets or have some cult status like Roth has - he's barely adequate technically but lacks any kind of talent or vision). Script has couple of nice details (the way Kersey hurts his hand and him actually looking up how to properly destroy HDD - makes me wonder though why didn't he do the same with phones but instead just smashed the screens) but as a whole it's too much a standard vengeange story.

Acting is mostly mediocre: Willis is just his usual self (mostly in a bad way), D'Onofrio is great actor but his screen time is quite limited and everyone else is just decent. I think part of the blame goes to Roth too, as the whole happy family stuff at the start felt really faked and he never bothered to focus on characters beyond that.

Action is fine, it's not the usual Hollywood high octane action but more realistic and dirty. Kersey was really stupid and lucky in the beginning but again, he wasn't supposed to have any previous experience. In a sense there was still too much action, it would have worked better if majority of kills had been simple executions.

The attitude was perfect. Criminals in general understand only violence. If government can't protect its people and uphold justice, it's up to people themselves to do it. Film's clear approval of Kersey's actions earns it an extra popcorn.




Black Water (2018) n

Van Damme and Lundgren together, is it 1992 again?



Honestly, I wasn't expecting much and was prepared to start my review with "why am I watching this crap" instead of the year thing I ended up using. Black Water is very cliched agent film about bad guys selling the secrets of their nation for money. Script is, by far, its worst part as it's very predictable and contains some stupidity by the people who should know what they're doing.

Action is mostly good (the shootout at the beginning is probably the worst action sequence but things get better when we move to submarine). Only big complaint about action is lack of finishing shots which, of course, leads to "exciting" situations (though that's essentially a script issue). I also like how Van Damme usually does some grappling too (triangle choke and arm bars seem to be his specialty). Lundgren has only a small role but considering how stiff he looks now, it's maybe a good thing.

What separates this from majority of B-movies is the directing and cinematography. This is directorial debut of Pasha Patriki but he's been cinematographer in almost a hundred productions (most of them shorts) and it really shows. He really makes the best out of the lazy script and low budget. I wish he gets a shot at something bigger.

Poorly written and cliched agent action that is, partially, saved by nice action, nostalgia and surprisingly good directing. Far more enjoyable than I expected.




A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) n

I saw a review of this where SJW had hurt his feelings. For me it was a recommendation.



I think this was my first Seth MacFarlane film so didn't know what to expect (outside the "atrocities" mentioned in that review). First, I do like stupid tasteless jokes and find toilet humor amusing but just putting piss, sperm or feces on screen isn't enough - there needs to be good, clever writing. If almost two hour comedy has about half a dozen chuckle worthy moments in it, it's kind of a failure.

MacFarlane should clearly focus more on writing (and/or directing). There's two reasons for this; first the script could have used a lot of polishing and second he's terrible actor. He's not really funny and he's completely unable to convey any sort of emotions. Other actors do good enough work.

On positive side it's not exactly politically correct but I expected more. I don't watch lot of comedies and this didn't encourage me to change that.




The Day of the Beast (1995) n

Encouraged or not I did watch a second comedy (or at least partially comedic film) in a row. Can't remember when that last happened.



This Spanish film has interesting concept and very alluring IMDb rating (7.5). I don't really get why people seem to like it so much though. For me it's like a poor man's Gilliam or Jeunet with less elaborated visuals and script that fails to make enough sense on some key points.

There is a priest who has solved the encrypted message in The Revelation and tries to stop the impending apocalypse. He teams up with a seller from metal records store and television psychic / occultist. His ultimate goal is to sign a pact with the Devil and, as a trusted Satan worshiper, learn the location where Antichrist is born and kill him (yes, the plan makes no sense to me either).

Technically the film is fine except visually it never really seems to reach the level it wants. I'm not sure if it's because of the budget, lack of skill or perhaps both (Jeunet had quite a bit more money at his disposal) but it does hurt the film. Acting is quite good though nothing really stands out. Script is kinda weak (feels like someone went too fast from concept to finished script) and especially the ending makes absolutely no sense.

I'm also irritated when films use sub-cultures and get things wrong (it's actually pretty common flaw). Here the whole underground metal scene is ridiculous. There is a scene of a gig of, allegedly, local satanic death metal band where pretty much everything is wrong: music is some jumpy nu metal, we have people dancing in their Deicide shirts, there are half naked women dancing on some platforms like it's rap or goth rock concert, etc.

Good story mangled by a bad script, decent visuals and directing, terrible presentation of metal scene and some good scenes. I was expecting more but still it's about mediocre.




3:10 to Yuma (2007) R

Rewatch for HoF16. I had mostly positive memory of this but it seems I got it mixed with some other film.



There's an outlaw leader played by Crowe who gets caught and is being taken to nearby town by some folks including a one legged rancher played by Bale. Rancher's had some bad luck and needs the $200 promised for the job. Outlaw's gang is also after them with the intent of freeing their leader.

To very large degree this whole films exists solely to have Crowe and Bale talking to each other. Crowe's character is charismatic, intelligent and sophisticated thief and murderer while Bale's rancher is a simple man who seems to have only two goals in his life - to keep his family afloat and to earn his son's respect. Interaction between the two could have been good but there are few glaring issues.

There's no proper reasoning for taking Crowe to that train to Yuma. It's not a good thing if the very concept of the film feels forced. This is amplified throughout the journey when his escorts start to die but no one seems to care. Only thing that matters is the pretentious dialogue between the two stars.

Crowe's character, Ben Wade, is also too capable in everything for this kind of movie. He's like a western Hannibal Lecter with some real feelings hidden inside - he's smarter, better shooter, more artistic, more everything than anyone else in the film. Yet for some reason he instantly befriends Bale's rancher and risks everything just to make Bale look good in the eyes of his son. The end just doesn't feel natural at all.

Techically the film is very nice. Acting is top notch as well. Everything looks good, sounds good and even the pacing is fine. The only thing that doesn't work is the script and especially the characters whose motives don't make any sense. A film that relies so heavily on dialogue needs characters that feel real and on that regard Ben Wade is, in my opinion, a total failure and drags the movie down with him.

Russell Crowe can't save badly written character that sinks otherwise promising film.




Future World (2018) n

Absolutely terrible flashback from 80s. Not only does it loan all the cliches from older post apocalypse movies it manages to be worse than practically any of the oldies (not that they have set the bar particularly high). There simply isn't anything good to mention but it makes me wonder how they managed to get Lucy Liu and Milla Jovovich into this mockery of cinema.

Watched little over 30 minutes and quickly skimmed to the end. Please, avoid.




Frances Ha (2012) n

Another for HoF16. Based on reviews here I was expecting this to be good even though the subject isn't really my cup of tea.



Oh boy, this one is really difficult to rate. On one hand I can acknowledge the overall skill and quality in every aspect of it but, due to reasons I'll get into later, I wasn't as entertained as I had hoped. I'm really happy that I saw it though.

At it's core Frances Ha is very simple and familiar story about young adults trying to find their place in the world. Most, if not all, of its characters are balancing somewhere between childhood fantasies and realities of adulthood. What separates it from other similar films is its clever and different script: it's jumpy and fragmented, without much to hold on - just like its characters it's trying to find its own place and meaning. I really liked the script and its controlled chaos.

Technically the film is also very solid. I think black-and-white cinematography was beautiful and fitted the film really well giving it kind of a timeless feel. Acting was really good too.

So why didn't I enjoy it? I found practically every character in the movie extremely annoying and couldn't care less what happens to them. Don't get me wrong, I think the characters were brilliantly written and they felt real - it's just me and my dislike of people like them (people in general, I suppose). Fortunately the film's fragmented style meant short scenes because I'm quite sure I would have gotten a headache from prolonged dinner discussions.

Technically brilliant but characters that really piss me off prevent any sort of attachment to the story. If I wouldn't rate films purely on entertainment value I could see myself giving this full points but as I do...




Tomb Raider (2018) n

Not going to write a long one about this turd. New Tomb Raider is boring mix of random, uninspired action and embarrassingly stupid character moments. In theory the subject is interesting (sexy female Indy clone) but the execution is terrible. Only good thing in the film is Alicia Vikander who is really hot.




Mary Shelley (2017) n

A biography of Mary Shelley known for her Frankenstein novel.



In typical biography manner Mary Shelley takes quite a lot of liberties and, being about a female author, these liberties do serve an agenda. The film emphasizes modern female empowerment way too much and sadly falls for the same issues the modern propagators do (i.e. despite of Mary's own actions and decision all fault is bestowed on Percy).

Writing is little tedious and the film succumbs to some oversimplifications and annoyingly cliched flashbacks. Acting for the most part is good (and Elle Fanning is very cute) but especially Percy's voice-overs sound like high school poetry reading. Visually the movie is alright but it could have used its settings better.

Boring, feminist interpretation of Mary Shelley's life that has far too little going on to keep me interested. I guess there's a little bonus for the subject though.




Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) n

Somewhat boring effect spectacle that looks really nice.



Unfortunately films like this usually spend so much money on effects that they no longer can afford a decent script. Pacific Rim: Uprising is no exception and both its plot and characters are shallow and cliche ridden. Even the action is pointless and dull for the complete lack of suspense.

The action does look very nice though. Even with the script as bad as this it's kind of hard not to get at least a little excited about the town wrecking CGI robots and monsters. It's stupid and has no logic but at times you can, almost, forget it. Sadly there's nothing more in the film.

P.S. Cailee Spaeny looks really cute.




You can't win an argument just by being right!
Death Wish (2018) n

I love vigilante films but hate Eli Roth so I had pretty mixed expectations.



I haven't read the book so I can't say if the original 1974 film is more true to it than this but the two films have very little in common: name of the protagonist is the same, his family's fate is very similar, there's an eye opening trip to Texas and then there's the attitude. Everything else is changed and most of it for worse.

Roth is still bad director (sure, there are worse out there but they're not making movies with $30M budgets or have some cult status like Roth has - he's barely adequate technically but lacks any kind of talent or vision). Script has couple of nice details (the way Kersey hurts his hand and him actually looking up how to properly destroy HDD - makes me wonder though why didn't he do the same with phones but instead just smashed the screens) but as a whole it's too much a standard vengeange story.

Acting is mostly mediocre: Willis is just his usual self (mostly in a bad way), D'Onofrio is great actor but his screen time is quite limited and everyone else is just decent. I think part of the blame goes to Roth too, as the whole happy family stuff at the start felt really faked and he never bothered to focus on characters beyond that.

Action is fine, it's not the usual Hollywood high octane action but more realistic and dirty. Kersey was really stupid and lucky in the beginning but again, he wasn't supposed to have any previous experience. In a sense there was still too much action, it would have worked better if majority of kills had been simple executions.

The attitude was perfect. Criminals in general understand only violence. If government can't protect its people and uphold justice, it's up to people themselves to do it. Film's clear approval of Kersey's actions earns it an extra popcorn.

He gets a lot of hate. I don't particularly like the guy but have enjoyed some of his films. Not a bad actor IMO. A girlfriend of mine adores his stuff but I can't say I'm ready to rush out for opening nights.

I haven't seen this one yet but enjoyed reading your review 📖👏



Spent five days visiting my mom and at the mercy of local TV.

Ouija (2014) n

Terribly boring horror and the whole Ouija board thing has always felt silly to me. Went back to books after 30 minutes or so.



Cop Car (2015) n

Had some major doubts about the concept before seeing the film and afterwards those same doubts remain. In the end I was wishing the boys would crash the cop car into truck or something. Bad film but still considerably better than Ouija.



Commando (1985) R

Not among my favorites in 80s action but still pretty enjoyable. Commando is kinda bad enough to be at least OK: acting is terrible, lots of stupid one liners, plot is just an excuse for the slaughter, action is hilariously awkward and so on. By far the most entertaining film I watched during my visit.

+

Tordenskjold & Kold (2016) n

Danish film about naval war hero in early 18th century. It felt like a poor man's Guy Ritchie film without budget, action or good jokes. Hard rock soundtrack in the18th century setting is really hard to pull off and (even) I don't laugh just for protagonist yelling about the king being gay. I was done in about 40 minutes so...



Gravity (2013) n

Despite some factual errors Gravity is an attempt at serious hard sci-fi. Unfortunately it follows a generic catastrophe (or monster sci-fi but without a monster) story formula and doesn't have enough going on to pull it from the ranks of mediocrity. Bullock and Clooney do pretty nice work but their characters just aren't that interesting. Visually the film is great but otherwise disappointing.




Call Me by Your Name (2017) n

One more for the HoF16. I didn't expect to like this very much and it matched those expectations.

So Call Me by Your Name is a film about a summer romance. It's so rooted in the everyday, ordinary life that there's no feeling of escapism at all and for me that almost always means boring movie experience. I think the romance itself is well written and characters feel believably awkward (unlike in majority of Hollywood romances) but there's nothing exciting (for me at least) in this slice of life.

From technical point of view I think the film was way too long. It should have ended with Elio sitting at the train station (1:53 and something) but there's a long pedagogical wrap up that adds nothing. Also prior to that the film was already dragging and could have used some heavy editing; there's no need to stretch a light summer romance to epic proportions. The romance being homosexual doesn't automatically make the film deeper.

Acting was great. It really felt like watching actual people instead of rehearsed actors. I don't think the acting style would work on that many films but here it was perfect match. I didn't feel much chemistry between Elio and Oliver though (it may be because they're both men but I don't think so, or just an unwanted side effect of the way they're acting). Cinematography and direction were good too. Soundtrack was OK (except for that terrible song during the end credits).

There was one little thing that annoyed me too. It's not exactly this film's fault (maybe I'm wrong and it's my fault to even assume so) but I doubt the film would be so praised if it wasn't about a gay romance; if Elio had been a 17-year-old girl whose parents were supporting her romance with their 30+ year-old summer guest. I don't personally mind the age difference either way but I assume more people would if Elio had been a girl.

A down-to-earth romance that takes way too much time to tell its simple and light story.




Terminator II (1989) n

This sci-fi classic by James Cam... No, wait, this is the another Terminator II or Shocking Dark as it's known in the US.



This is among the worst rip-offs I've ever seen. Worst as in terrible film but also as in copying scenes and dialogue directly from the films whose reputation it abuses. A bit surprisingly Terminator isn't the film copied the most but Aliens (it's retarded combination of both movies),

Only reason I finished the film was my familiarity with "source material" (Aliens was my teen favorite and I've seen it dozens of times) and curiosity on how badly they could ruin the stolen stuff. Technically the film is awful, acting is ridiculously bad and script is bunch of non-sense mixed with blatant plagiarism.

Worst case example of Italian sequel legislation. Please, don't watch.




Zombi 3 (1988) n

Half Fulci, half Mattei and Fragasso, all bad.

Another zombie film by Fulci even though he's apparently responsible only for little over half of the film as a stroke forced him to withdraw from production. The film is nothing like his earlier Gates of Hell trilogy or even Zombi 2 that both had great cinematography and haunting, dreamlike atmosphere; Zombi 3 is nothing more than lazy and clumsy Romero rip-off.

Script is incredible bad, acting is terrible, there's not much splatter and action is hilarious (like why did the cleanup guys melee with the protagonists instead of just shooting them). Even soundtrack is mostly bad. Only positives in the film are some unintentional comedy and few nice foggy shots.

By far the worst Fulci I've seen this far.

-



Waterloo Bridge (1931) n

For HoF16 again. A theatrical melodrama set in WW1 era London.

I had to watch this in two pieces because the audio made it quite difficult to comprehend dialogue (as a matter fact this was mostly an issue with Kitty so the problem was much smaller during the latter part of the film). Otherwise the Youtube copy was rather decent.

I found the main characters hard to like or even take seriously. Roy was stupefyingly naive and Myra was stereotypical "I don't deserve to be happy because..." pessimist. It just felt awkward how things evolved between the two especially when pretty much everyone else but Roy knew what was going on.

I was bored quite a bit by the endless proposal rejection cycle that didn't seem to have anything to say nor did it really deepen the characters either. Roy's stepfather was annoying one joke pony with his bad hearing. Kittty (as much as I understood what she was saying) was like an evil fairy whispering her filth to Myra who, despite of actually being rather decent person, probably believed herself to be like Kitty (at least that's how I interpreted her unwillingness to get married).

I don't know how I felt about the end. Usually I'm in favor of dark and tragic twists but here it seemed a little forced. It might be because the execution of the scene was bad but I don't think it did fit the film that well.

Visually I thought the film was too theatrical; most of the city and indoors sets were built and framed just like in a stage (there were exceptions but too few to my liking). Acting was also theatrical and neither of leads seemed very natural.

A dull melodrama about the hopeless love of two disturbingly pathetic characters.