Make Your Picks

Rate The Last Movie You Saw

Tools    





I found more versions of A Christmas Carol on Prime. Actually there were countless others but these appeared to be the most faithful to Dickens' story. I'm not much into adaptations set in modern times but, since I still haven't seen it, I would like to watch Bill Murray's Scrooged. And I'm definitely going to re-watch the 1951 version with Alastair Sim.



A Christmas Carol (1954) - In this version I immediately noticed a confined sort of scope to the opening shots of Victorian era London and thought it looked like a television production of some kind. Which it was. The fact that Fredric March headlined as Ebenezer Scrooge and Basil Rathbone as Marley's ghost is what drew me to it. But then it also turned out to be a musical of sorts which immediately dropped it a couple of points. But since it was only 51 or so minutes long I stuck with it. The fact that it was designed to fill an hour long slot along with the addition of the songs led them to truncate the story quite a bit especially with the spirit of Christmas to come. This is a trifling bit of stagecraft with some of the characters hamming it up and playing to the back rows like the beefy actor playing Scrooge's nephew Fred. This being TV there was none of the ambient set design of the more well known productions and the abbreviated nature of the story being told made it impossible to immerse yourself in it.

45/100



Scrooge (1935) - This one features Sir Reginald Hicks playing Ebenezer and is notable for being the first full length sound adaptation. It's mostly faithful to Dicken's novella but it does play out in typical mid 1930's fashion with the same music playing in the background that you may have heard in the Our Gang or Laurel and Hardy shorts. And since it's in the public domain the print I watched was noticeably subpar. Hicks, who portrayed the character over a thousand times during his career, goes for a frail, elderly and fearful Scrooge complete with a palsied shake. Which made me realize that, despite Scrooge's age, all the versions of the character I had seen before were played with a modicum of vigor.

And I'm not sure if it was due to budgetary constraints or the technology not being up to snuff but Marley's specter was invisible as was the ghost of Christmas past (outside of a vague outline). The only other real difference I noticed was the inclusion of the Christmas Eve Lord Mayor's Banquet in London. I thought it made for an effective juxtaposition between the opulent surroundings of the banquet and the impoverished children begging for food at the windows of the kitchen preparing the feast. Outside of these few touches this adaptation didn't really offer much in the way of originality or pizzazz.

55/100



A Christmas Carol (2012) - This is an Irish production and opens at an estate on the outskirts of London. I thought it was going to be some sort of flashback to Ebenezer Scrooge's childhood but it turned out to be the home of Charles Dickens. He corners a servant and has them sit while he proceeds to read his latest story to them, which so happens to be A Christmas Carol. Having the author himself narrating parts of the story was a clever way of covering up what had to be a limited budget. It is most noticeable in the paucity of extras and the mise en scene. There are no scenes featuring substantial crowds and none of the convincingly cramped and shabby Victorian London settings. Instead all of the characters, including the Cratchits and even the ragpicker, seem to reside in bright, spacious homes. In an attempt at adding atmosphere there are endless shots featuring scudding clouds, ghostly figures staring forlornly into the camera and echoing voices. This adaptation doesn't really add anything innovative to the telling. Lead actor Vincent Fegan however makes for a middle aged, younger Scrooge and the overall acting is decent enough.

60/100
I don't know if you ever saw the TV version originally airing on CBS with George C. Scott as Scrooge, I highly recommend it. Scott's performance is breathtaking.



The Killer (2023) -


This is a clever and darkly funny thriller in which...well, I'll steal the official plot summary since it's spot on: "after a fateful near miss, [the killer] takes on his employers and himself in an international manhunt that he insists is not personal." To elaborate, in a tense Paris opening scene that I credit for making me jump, things go south very badly. In response, the killer's employers retaliate a bit too close to home. Thus begins a personal challenge: can the killer put his professionalism on hold and respond in kind without regaining his humanity - which we learn is hardly a skill in his business - in the process?

While I am more forgiving of voiceover narration than most, I would bet than even its most die-hard haters would agree it's the movie's secret weapon. Besides how well it gets us inside the killer's brain and learn his philosophy, I like how it reveals the impact of his unfortunate situation on it. The way he repeats or rephrases his mantras, for example, made me imagine an AI trying to fight a computer virus. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments proving that knowing and walking the path also add nice touches. The movie is divided into chapters, with each one being as unique as it is unpredictable. That each one features a sight as welcome as Fassbender is a plus - Tilda Swinton stands out in particular - with the best compliment I can give being I wish I could have seen more of everybody. Also, like he does in Fight Club, Fincher proves his expertise at using product placement in non-promotional ways, and come to think of it, the soundtrack of Smiths song may be just as effective at character building as the narration.

Despite how well the movie lets you walk in a contract killer's shoes and all the inspired touches along the way, it does not quite achieve greatness. The main reason is that the narration, lapses in judgement, etc. are clever ways of showing the killer losing his grip, but Fincher and company's presentation makes you admire and think about them, but it barely makes you feel. Even though cold blood is a trademark of movies like this one, similar movies it recalls like Point Blank, Drive and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai prove it is possible to do both. I still recommend it, particularly for successfully making you wonder if letting cold blood run through your veins is possible in the long-term.



I don't know if you ever saw the TV version originally airing on CBS with George C. Scott as Scrooge, I highly recommend it. Scott's performance is breathtaking.
Yes I did. I consider it one of the big four adaptations. The versions starring Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart and Reginald Owen are my favorites. I've already re-watched Sim's and will get around to the other three before Christmas. I never meant for them to become a yearly tradition but Xmas isn't the same without them. Add A Christmas Story, Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, It's a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas to my yearly list as well.



Yes I did. I consider it one of the big four adaptations. The versions starring Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart and Reginald Owen are my favorites. I've already re-watched Sim's and will get around to the other three before Christmas. I never meant for them to become a yearly tradition but Xmas isn't the same without them. Add A Christmas Story, Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, It's a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas to my yearly list as well.
After my last rewatch, I decided that Christmas Vacation is my favorite film in thatf ranchise.



I forgot the opening line.

By Reynold Brown - Brown, Franz. Mutiny on the Bounty. This image was posted at the website operated by Reynold Brown's son, Franz Brown. The webpage offers a detailed discussion of Reynold Brown's poster art for Mutiny on the Bounty., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/inde...curid=17878408

Mutiny on the Bounty - (1962)

I'm glad I watched this before reading about how troubled the production was - Mutiny on the Bounty is a gripping real-life tale, and it's good to focus on the story and visuals without any distractions. Of course, Marlon Brando does the best he can to make us tilt our heads and ask "Huh?" It was around about this time he started to sabotage films with his bizarre behavior and need to make a creative input. He arrives wearing an 18th Century foppish costume I've never seen the likes of before - he has a grey pilgrim hat, bright red cloak and shiny silver top and pants. It's the kind of thing where I think to myself "I've no doubt that's historically accurate, but wow - it's so distracting." Takes me out of the scene. Then there's his British upper class (possibly gay - as has been suggested) accent, which is so unusual it made audiences laugh at the film's premiere. All of that aside though - I thought this was pretty good considering. It's 185-minutes flew by, so as pure entertainment it did it's job. Trevor Howard makes a very convincing Capt. William Bligh, despite his age, and the fact that they not only rebuilt the Bounty but filmed on location in Tahiti made for a very authentic sea voyage. It's not something I'll be compelled to see again in a hurry, but I never had cause to check how much running time was remaining (I also watched the deleted prologue and epilogue which were bonus features on the DVD copy I have.) It might be the least accurate version of the Bounty story, but if asked I'd say that it's definitely worth a look.

7.5/10

Oh, and by the way - I finally learned how keelhauling is done. I thought sailors were thrown off one side of the ship, and pulled up the other - but in all actuality it's from bow to stern. I guess that's why it's nearly impossible to survive it. By the time the Bounty sailed, it had been outlawed - but the Capt. Bligh in this film is all too ready to use it.
__________________
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.
Please come back Takoma

Latest Review : Le Circle Rouge (1970)




Mikey and Nicky (1976)


I'm not sure I enjoyed this more than The Heartbreak Kid, which blew me away when I watched it a few years ago, but this film still lived up to my expectations. It chronicles a dying friendship on its last legs at the worst possible time for one of the two involved in it. Though Nicky initially comes off as panicked and not thinking straight due to his fear of being killed, the more you learn of his behavior (that he cheats on his wife, is openly racist, and assaults or threatens to assault most people he comes across), the clearer it becomes that he's a toxic individual who Mikey has been stuck with for years. Bearing witness to Mikey putting his own safety on the line to keep him out of trouble and putting up with his antics over and over again creates tension as to whether he'll finally reach his breaking point and betray his friend. Given the clear abuse and disloyalty Nicky shows to Mikey (as well as to the women in his life), it constantly seems like the film is about to build to this inevitable climax, yet in typical abuser fashion, Nicky appears to restore his relations by smooth talking and begging for forgiveness (and this pattern has likely gone on for years). But how long will these ingenuine apologies work? Since Nicky lacks empathy, the film could've just been a case of rooting for an inevitable ending from the start, but since Nicky's fate is basically in Mikey's hands, it puts him in a rough spot. He can either swallow his pride and stick by Nicky or sacrifice his morals and cause his death. Neither option is good and that Mikey is considerably more empathetic got me to hold out a bit of hope that he wouldn't lower himself. All these elements made Nicky's fate quite compelling to the point I was genuinely curious as to how the film was going to end. Overall, it was a really good character study and I'm glad to have finally watched something else in Elaine May's unfortunately small body of films.
__________________
IMDb
Letterboxd



After my last rewatch, I decided that Christmas Vacation is my favorite film in thatf ranchise.
Well, you share something in common with my sister then. That's her favorite too.



The Killer is better than John Wick 1 (I didn't bother watching sequels).
That's too bad then, since Chapter 2 & 4 are much better than the original, if you ask me.



Saltburn (2023)


Brideshead Revisited if it were set in 2007 and the main character was more Tom Ripley (or even Gormenghast's Steerpike) than Charles Ryder.


The excellent Barry Keoghan plays Oliver, an awkward student, who falls in with Felix, rich, popular and good looking and ends up spending the summer at his family's country house, Saltburn. Here, he seems to try to ingratiate and seduce his way into the heart of the family.


You're never quite sure how sincere any of the characters are and almost every interaction feels like it could end with lust, humiliation or possibly even violence. The family are outwardly charming but casually awful and Oliver himself flits between admiration and manipulation.


The cast are excellent, Rosamund Pike and Richard E Grant are spot on as the parents, with all the best lines. It's darkly funny and genuinely disquieting (with more bodily fluids than you might expect).


It does seem to lose that comic energy towards the end, and there is an unnecessary sequence of flashbacks that plays like a twist but doesn't really offer much of a new perspective. I feel like more could have been made of the idea of the unreliable narrator. It doesn't quite have anything new to say, rich people are awful and so are other people sometimes.


The film is beautifully, brilliantly shot. It looks absolutely gorgeous. There are suggestions of gothic horror, references to other films/genres and paintings. The party sequence is fantastic.


I enjoyed the 2000s nostalgia as well.


Best film I've seen this year so far.


,
Wow, looking forward to it even more now.
__________________
Iím here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Thatís why Iím here now.








The Bad Batch - This is the third Ana Lily Amirpour film I've watched after A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon. So apparently I've watched all of her full length projects. She's also done several TV series episodes and short films. This sophomore effort was a bit of a misfire for her especially after her impressive debut with AGWHAaN.

In some non disclosed future reputed criminals along with the mentally ill and any and all fringe dwellers have been deemed the "bad batch" and exiled into the desert wastelands of Texas. The story opens with Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) being tattooed with her batch number and dropped off at the fenced entrance to the ad hoc prison. Things go south for her in a hurry after she's
WARNING: spoilers below
abducted by cannibals who take two of her limbs. This community of roided out "bridge people" capture unsuspecting passersby and keep them prisoner while harvesting their body parts for food.
Yeah, it's that kind of film. It doesn't come off as torture porn though. Just very matter-of-fact which doesn't really add anything to the proceedings. That might be the first clue that Amirpour's script isn't really working.

WARNING: spoilers below
Despite missing an arm and a leg Arlen manages to escape her captors. She's found by a wandering hermit type played by an unrecognizable Jim Carrey (at least I couldn't place him. I kept thinking it was Will Patton).
Jason Momoa costars while attempting (and largely failing at) a Cuban accent as Miami Man. He's either the leader of the muscle bound barbarians (or he isn't) but he does have an artistic bent and loves a little girl who either is or isn't his daughter. It's character building 101 yet somehow doesn't succeed in making the guy any kind of sympathetic figure.

Keanu Reeves has the more interesting role as The Dream, the leader of a drug soaked Burning Man type of society also dubbed The Dream. Reeves plays a creepy David Koresh type who surrounds himself with a retinue of gun toting young women all of whom he has evidently impregnated. Again, it is that type of movie. This profusion of nihilism amounts to not much at all.

The most glaring thing that kept taking me out of the story was
WARNING: spoilers below
one legged Arlen being able to just walk out several times into the wasteland. A distance that would later take people up to a couple of days to cover in a golf cart or a motorcycle.
Stuff like that might not be so glaring when the narrative has you deeply engrossed but when the script is as anorexic as this your mind ends up distracted by the implausibilities. The ending also lands with a thud since Amirpour hasn't done enough to set it up or to even bolster her characters. It's not a terrible film but it's also not worth recommending to anyone.

50/100




What the hell is this?



The Bad Batch - This is the third Ana Lily Amirpour film I've watched after A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon. So apparently I've watched all of her full length projects. She's also done several TV series episodes and short films. This sophomore effort was a bit of a misfire
.
.
.
It doesn't come off as torture porn though. Just very matter-of-fact which doesn't really add anything to the proceedings. That might be the first clue that Amirpour's script isn't really working.
Interesting. I had avoided this film for a long time because I was worried about the degree to which it would feel overly cruel and torture-centered.

Instead it's a reflection on what kind of lives you can live in a time of scarcity, freedom vs security, etc. Everyone is basically a predator, but it's deciding what kind of predator you will be.

Here is what I wrote about it when I watched it. (I'd probably give it more of a 4 than a 4.5 now).

And while I'll agree that Momoa's accent was iffy, I thought that he was incredibly charismatic and magnetic.



I forgot the opening line.

Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19784745

Room at the Top - (1959)

Oh yeah - I'm going to go big with Room at the Top. Reasons I like it? It's a great British film. It has a scintillating Simone Signoret in it giving the performance of a lifetime. It's about class, envy, greed and lust. It's just terrific. Jack Clayton didn't direct many films - but every film he did direct he tried to make great. Room at the Top was his first, and preceded The Innocents - another great movie. In this, Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey) does a Billy Liar in the worst possible way and ends up with two sweethearts - the first, the very young Susan Brown (Heather Sears) - daughter of a wealthy industrial magnate. Susan's parents try everything they can to quash the burgeoning romance between them, because Lampton is poor. Lampton himself isn't sure whether it's Susan he wants, or the money that comes with her. In the meantime, he strikes up an affair with older married Frenchwoman Alice Aisgill (Simone Signoret) - although no less trouble (her husband threatens to ruin Joe) he's much more emotionally attached to her. When Susan becomes pregnant, disaster ensues. The way all of this plays out, it sounds like Joe was an okay fellow before class barriers between him and Susan drive him a little mad, and from there his character splinters and he starts going down the wrong path. To understand this, you have to see how character Jack Wales (John Westbrook) - wealthy, and an officer in the war (not to mention Susan's current boyfriend) - goads ex-sergeant Lampton, frequently patronizing him and humiliating him by outdoing the guy in every way possible very publicly.

Once Lampton has a chip on his shoulder, his usual cheerful conviviality drains away - he becomes more scheming and combative. On a trip to visit his aunt and uncle, when they ask him if he's seeing anyone he mentions Susan's wealthy parents before talking about Susan herself, alarming the couple. He's handsome and charming enough to win Susan's love, but she's very young and naÔve - unlike Alice, Joe hardly spends any time at all with Susan and the two don't seem matched mentally. Susan is extraordinarily beautiful though (Alice is no slouch either - she's the "older" lover, 10 years Joe's senior, but Simone Signoret is so transcendently beautiful she's plenty attractive.) Alice is the one we cheer for in Room at the Top - she's the only level-headed mature character, and head over heels in love with Joe despite his occasional flare-ups in temper. He spends time with Alice because he loves her. He spends time with Susan to stick it to all the snobs, and defy Susan's priggish, ultra-wealthy parents who look at him as if he's a diseased dog, sliding in insults with their faint praise of him. You can see disaster coming for Joe a mile away - and he'll take just about everyone he's involved with in his not very well thought-out plans with him. Clayton conducts all of this tragedy like an old pro, and as such I enjoyed watching this one hell of a lot.

9/10



I have a fairly contrary view of Saltburn. I'd rather have spent those two hours trying to get salt to burn. Imagine a summer long party. Everybody is drinking all the time, and everybody other than the protagonist, Oliver, is entitled. Bodies start to fall. How could they not. If they hadn't been murdered, they'd have expired from the life style, so death is not unexpected, especially given the kind of movie it is. What kind of castle mystery could it be without murder?

It's not as witty as some British murder mysteries and I can't really say that I liked any of the characters. I didn't feel threatened by the murders since I'd never have consented to stay at this place for the entire summer.

Yeah, so production and acting were good, but also speech and sound were also indistinct, in a way that made me miss half of the dialog. That wasn't much of a loss since I still knew what was going on.




One of my recent visits to Film Noir - He Walked By Night - It's an early version of Film Noir (1948), in one of my noir DVD sets. Cops are assigned to catch a killer..."loosely based on the real-life actions of Erwin "Machine-Gun" Walker, a former Glendale, California police department employee and World War II veteran who unleashed a crime spree of burglaries, robberies and shootouts in the Los Angeles area in 1945 and 1946."

It's early in the noir cycle and has the additional aspect of having Jack Webb of subsequent Dragnet fame, pretty much being Joe Friday. Cops with hats talk fast, the telephone and walkie-talkie are state of the art and there's a serious male voice doing voice-over narration, Dragnet style. The story is interrupted by a female voice broadcasting police bulletins to cop car radios.