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Victim of The Night
Imagine making THAT movie and all anyone takes away from it is dance pointing to the sky.
That's pretty much all anyone did. I mean, that came out when I was a kid and I am pretty much the only person I know who doesn't think it's the silly disco movie with John Travolta.
I mean, to them it may as well be Roller Boogie or Xanadu or Breakin' for that matter.
And I am left just standing there going, "Aaalllll Pacino! At-ti-ca! At-ti-ca!"



Victim of The Night
I think that Siskel really sums up how I felt about it.

Which is not a criticism of the movie, just that there was more melancholy to it than I expected.
That's kinda what I love about it.





Chan is Missing, 1982

Jo (Wood Moy) and his nephew Steve (Marc Hayashi) are two men living in Chinatown and hoping to get a taxi license. A man named Chan took their money to purchase the license, but then disappears. Jo, with help from Steve, sets out to track down Chan and solve the mystery of his disappearance. Along the way they encounter various characters and explore the politics between Chinese immigrants and the Chinese-American community.

I should really just throw away what I think I know about movies, because they are misconceptions like 90% of the time. I had avoided this film because I thought it was sort of a gritty, depressing film (perhaps misled by how often I'd seen the word "noir" applied to it, and my experience with noir-inspired films in the 80s is that they tend to be downers). Instead, this is more of a comedy/drama/thriller, with an emphasis on how the investigation uncovers the range of identities and characters within the Chinese/Chinese-American community.

Moy and Hayashi make for a fantastic set of protagonists, and even their dynamic speaks to something generational and different within a community. Steve feels far more Americanized than Jo, speaking with a distinct New York patter to the extent that one character even asks him "Who do you think you are? Richard Pryor?". Jo becomes the central character as the film goes on, and through his investigations, he comes to reflect on what it means to be Chinese-American, even noting that his desire for the mystery to have a neat solution is an American trait, and that if he were "Chinese enough" he would be able to accept the unknowns of the situation.

As a mystery itself, the film hinges on the politics of immigrants living together in a similar space, when their beliefs are very different. The mystery frequently comes back to an incident that took place at a parade, where supporters of China clashed with supporters of Taiwan. This conflict may have even led to a murder, a newspaper clipping of which feels like the film's first real clue. As Jo questions different people who knew Chan, he encounters very different perspectives on the man. One person notes his love of Mariachi music, while another bemoans the fact that he would not assimilate.

Character-wise, the film has some really excellent supporting work. While it may feel a bit too "to camera", I really appreciated a scene where a lawyer (Judy Nihei) explains why a police stop went so bad for Chan, explaining the breakdown in communication that results from how Chinese people culturally tend to respond to questions. It was interesting to hear this speech, because it was very similar to something I learned in graduate school about different cultural practices in writing and how the concept of a "logical" response is culturally relative.

Another standout is a character called Henry (Peter Wang), and someone please tell me why Peter Wang only has 6 film credits to his name. He is absolutely hilarious as a cook working in a Chinese restaurant, bemoaning the way that people order food at the restaurant. ("If one more person asks me for wonton soup, I tell them I give it to them backwards: "not now"!"). Wearing a shirt that says "Samurai Night Fever," he sings "Fry Me to the Moon" and talks about the irony of the fact that the most successful people who came over to America couldn't find work because American companies don't want Chinese engineers. But people like him who will work less prestigious jobs can do just fine.

What is fantastic about the film is the way that Jo's investigation so deftly works against stereotypes, simply by putting such a diverse range of Chinese or Chinese-American people on the screen and letting them interact. The characters are different in their politics, ages, language, and social status. All of this working against a story where, as the narrator notes, there's no point in going to the police because "at any time there are probably three guys missing called Chan."

This was a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable film. Highly recommended.




Yeah, Saturday Night Fever owns. Travolta's performance is an all timer. The music and dancing is almost beside the point (although for the record; it owns as well...except maybe "Disco Duck")



SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

https://boxd.it/2Rvq4N

A gritty misremembered classic thatís basically when Mean Streets met disco.

4.5/5
Bump it up half a star, you coward.



Hell Drivers (1957)




I can't really rate this noir / crime / drama because I didn't see most of it, but wanted to mention it because it was like a British Who's Who bombshell!

I kept mistaking the lead character played by Stanley Baker with another tall guy who I thought was Sean Connery - turns out the other guy was Sean Connery (of Zardoz fame, because that's what he WAS most famous for, right?)

It had...
Herbert Lom (best known as Chief Inspector Dreyfus from the Pink Panther movies)!
Patrick McGoohan ("The Prisoner" & "Longshanks" in Brave Heart)!
William Hartnell (a long-running "Dr. Who")!
Sidney James (from the "Carry On" series)!
Jill Ireland (was once on Star Trek and did several movies with Charles Bronson)!
Gordon Jackson (from The Great Escape)!
David McCallum ("The Man from U.N.C.L.E." & The Great Escape)!

It was very gritty with lots of action.
So, on even a partial viewing I'll give it a 3.5 out of 5.





Our Little Sister, 2015

Sachi (Haruka Ayase), Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa), and Chika (Kaho) are three sisters living together. Their father has long since divorced their mother and taken up with another woman. When their father dies, the sisters meet their young half sister, Suzu (Suzu Hirose) and, sensing a strange vibe between her and her stepmother, invite her to live with them. As the sisters begin to bond, they each must deal with the emotional fallout from their childhood.

This film is by Hirokazu Koreeda, who directed three films I've seen and loved (After Life, Nobody Knows, and Shoplifters), and this is another one to add to the win pile.

Compared to the plots and stakes of the other films I have seen from Koreeda, this one is a bit more low-key. There is no literal danger to the characters, and the stakes are purely emotional. This is, for lack of a better word, a wonderfully gentle look at four basically nice people trying to reconcile the way that their past continues to impact their present.

The acting is very good across the board, and the central actresses have believable sisterly chemistry with each other. There is an ease to their interactions that is undercut with currents of emotion when they have to confront negative feelings that naturally arise. For example, when one of the sisters talks to a man who is considering leaving his wife, or when Suzu sees herself as a symbol of what disrupted the childhoods of her older sisters.

This isn't really a movie where problems are solved. There isn't closure here, so much as a lovely representation of how people can expand their already established lives to include someone new. How sometimes you have to fight your past in order to be able to enjoy the beauty of the present.

A really sweet, deeply felt film.




Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies
The Midnight Swim (2014) I found this slow and it dragged on. The horror elements didn't work for me, but there are a couple good moments.







SF = Z



[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it



Karen Lynn Gourney makes that impossible.

Her performance is fine. Travolta desires her for what she represents, not who she is, making any limitations in her peformance a non issue.


Bump it up half a star. Anything less is moral cowardice.



Her performance is fine. Travolta desires her for what she represents, not who she is, making any limitations in her peformance a non issue.


Bump it up half a star. Anything less is moral cowardice.
If she could dance or act, I would.

ButÖ



Keep in mind I said ďor.Ē Iíd be willing to forgive if she could do just ONE of the things required for the role.

Yet here we are.





Our Little Sister, 2015
Upon seeing your review I remember seeing this film!
I'd pretty much forgotten it (one of those 2:00 am viewings after finding it already underway)!
I do remember enjoying it quite a lot!
Good review! Very sweet indeed!



11 Foreign Language movies to go

By http://www.impawards.com/2022/tinder_swindler.html, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70062359

The Tinder Swindler - (2022)

I won't go into any specifics related to this documentary, because the whole idea is discovering the truth one small step at a time, like the victims in this film did. It's a doc that takes it's time, and moves particularly slowly so that the twists and turns come at points where they really surprise. As much about long-distance relationships take place on WhatsApp, Skype etc, we get a lot of actual, authentic sound bites, photographs and video of the real people involved, which gives you a sense of peeking in on their private world - which I thought was neat. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction - so you'll be introduced to a con here that is audacious, inventive and evil and before all the pieces are put before you it'll seem impossible, which is what really keeps you watching The Tinder Swindler to the very end. I thought it was pretty good, but I've seen a lot better when it comes to documentaries - it was the subject matter itself that really sweeps you away.

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


Latest Review : God's Not Dead (2014)



5th Shorts Hall of Fame

The House is Black (1963) -


This short is one of my favorite films of all time. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did when I first saw it considering how poor the quality of the film is (some of the subtitles blend into the background, making them difficult to make out), but by the time I finished it, I was blown away by it.

The line "Leprosy is not incurable" is repeated twice throughout an opening sequence which states facts about leprosy, almost as if to make sure the meaning of that line isn't lost concerning the grisly images we see of the people with the disease. This monologue also indicates that the people we see suffering in the film could be cured of this disease. It's just that the government failed to take care of them as, instead of solving the problem, they herded them into the colony documented in the short, leaving them to further deteriorate. Instead of this scene coming off as preachy, this unspoken message is implied rather than directly stated, making for a powerful scene. Regardless of whether you pick up on this implication or not, it still manages to get under your skin.

Farrokhzad also does a great job at exploring the ironies of the daily lives of the people in the colony, specifically with religion. Multiple sequences indicate that religion is a major part of their cultures. In one scene, a group of kids thank God for giving them hands, eyes, and ears - features which many people in the colony don't have. In another powerful moment, a man holds his withered hands in the air and refers to them while reciting a prayer. This is followed by a sequence which cuts between a group of people practicing religion and several shots of people with deformed body parts, in turn creating tension through the editing. Watching this, you can't help but wonder why all these people thank God for giving them gifts which many of them don't have. It seems likely that religion is an abstract concept in their lives and they don't think much about the words and prayers they say.

In addition, a few sequences in the film stuck out as especially powerful. The first of which shows a couple women putting on makeup and brushing their hair. Seeing this, it's clear that, in spite of their facial and bodily features, many of the women in the colony still make an effort to look beautiful or to find light in their current situations. Another scene shows a group of boys playing ball together. Unlike a number of the older people we see in the colony, their mobility doesn't seem to be effected by their disease. The deformed facial features on a number of them are hard to ignore though and, considering how the shot which immediately follows this sequence shows a man with one leg using crutches to walk down a path, the short seems to suggest that those boys will end up like the old man unless they're cured of their disease (one effective shot which occurs earlier shows a man giving his crutch to a boy to play with). The classroom scene at the end is also worth mentioning. Something about the scene, specifically some of the answers the boys give to their teacher, makes it feel staged. It just seems too suited for the messages Farrokhzad wants to send to have naturally occurred. While I usually find staged scenes like this to be jarring in documentaries, I didn't mind it so much in here as it's still able to make for a devastating critique of religion.

Overall, this is a perfect short. Instead of solely raising awareness for the issue documented in it, Farrokhzad has several artistic points which she incorporates into the dialogue and the visuals of the film quite phenomenally. Sadly, Farrokhzad died shortly after this film was released, making this the only film she ever directed. Who knows what else she could've given us? However, this film will forever stand as a masterpiece to me and, if you can get by the occasional issues with the subtitles, you're in for a great treat with it.



Professional horse shoe straightener
Ali & Ava' (2022)



I'm convinced Clio Barnard makes films just for me. Even down to the Pogues on Karaoke. What a performance by Adheel Akhtar as Ali, an extremely likeable man with a tragic past who is lonely and takes a shine to Ava, a teaching assistant with a similar story but a completely different heritage. This is my film of the year so far, and is one of the best new films I've seen for a long, long time.

It's another neo-realist, social commentary film from Barnard it but has lots of themes such as passing on cultural traditions from one generation to the next. Made me laugh and made me cry. The subtext and symbols are examples of such good filmmaking (the refurbished chair, getting rid of the old boots, learning to like folk music, learning to climb down the frame on your own, being at the cemetery - these will make sense to those who have seen the film). Loach, Arnold and even de Sica, and Rosselini are influenced here. I absolutely loved this film. 9/10.




The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent -


Despite what the trailer suggests, this is not as silly, strange, or as resemblant to a Donald Kaufman or Spike Jonze movie as it implies. Instead, it's a mostly conventional action movie with only a smattering of subversive elements. What it reminds me of the most is the 2010 movie RED, which also has a trailer that suggests something in which veterans like Ernest Borgnine and John Malkovich call out their old age, quirks, etc., but also ends up being a mildly funny and by-the-numbers affair. Speaking of actors poking fun at themselves, there's only a smattering of that as well; in fact, it's much more of a self-penned love letter. Even though I feel like I've been baited and switched, I enjoyed it enough to recommend it.

One highlight are the scenes in which Cage has conversations with the image of himself he wants to maintain - think Clarence's (Christian Slater) conversations with Elvis in True Romance - and who I think resembles Sailor Ripley in Wild Heart more than any of his characters. I also appreciate that imaginary Cage is obviously made younger with what looks like the same technology Scorsese used in The Irishman, which accentuates his falseness and unattainability. As for the rest of the movieís look and feel - the action scenes in particular - I like that they have little to no noticeable CGI, which gives the movie grit and substance and let me pay attention to the performances more than anything else. While Cage is as Cagey as he needs to be and as sincere as he can be when the scene calls for it, I was more impressed with Sharon Horgan's work as his fed-up fictional ex-wife and Pablo Pascal's scene-stealing work as his rich, obsessed fan, with whom Cage shares real bromance energy. Hopefully, Pascal will end up having a career that's capped with a movie like this one as well (without all the tax difficulties, of course).

In addition to being more safe than zany and narcissistic than self-effacing, the movie also stumbles by trying to make the audience care about things that aren't worth caring that much about. One of these is the kidnapping and election meddling plot in which Cage gets unwillingly involved, which is not nearly as involving as the movie thinks it is, and the other is Cage's strained relationships with his fictional ex-wife and teenage daughter. For one, they're fictional, which works against the supposed point of the movie of the real Nicolas Cage reckoning with his career, identity, etc. I can respect that Cage did not want too much of his personal life to be on the screen, but it's still time that could have been allocated to more fun and interesting things, i.e., Cage and Pascal hanging out. Besides, most of Cage's family's complaints involve how self-centered he is, which the entire movie contradicts. In short, it ends up being only mildly satisfying as a movie about Nicolas Cage and mostly satisfying as an action movie as well as one that starts Nicolas Cage, especially compared to most of his output from the last decade. In short, it's about as subversive a movie about Nicolas Cage and his career that you would expect a Hollywood studio to invest in in our franchise-prioritizing day and age.