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So they finally rebooted Seven Bride for Seven Brothers eh? Let me guess the new title.
WARNING: spoilers below
Seventy Two Virgins for Two Brothers?
Now THAT'S funny, right there...





Rock N Roll High School (1979)


The Ramones are coming to town in this 1979 "teen" comedy. Little disappointed I hadn't seen or heard of this before because it was really good and funny. The couple from Eating Raoul play the principal and music teacher and they are just fantastic in this. It has so many great one liners which is what I like. I'm not a big Ramones fan but they are really just a feature (and drugged completely out of their minds).





11 Foreign Language movies to go

By Box Office Mojo, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57130051

Bottle Rocket - (1996)

This was the only Wes Anderson film I hadn't seen after catching The French Dispatch a few weeks ago. It doesn't have his trademark kind of paper-art cuteness or massive ensemble cast yet - being his first feature - but it does have that sense of eccentricity in it's characters. Dignan (Owen Wilson) and Anthony Adams (Luke Wilson) are best friends, and have a yearning to live out their fantasy of pulling off a big heist - but they have to start somewhere, so they rob a bookshop, in hopes of impressing Abe Henry (James Caan) who Dignan knows from a landscaping business he worked at. Of course, love, betrayal, family and plain old reality are constantly interfering with the romantic ideas they both (but especially Dignan) have. There's a lot of heart, and I even admire how understated it is - but this feels like Anderson still finding his voice, and it especially lacks Bill Murray - who would have been perfect in the James Caan role.

7/10
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

Latest Review : la promesse (1996)





The Way Way Back, 2013

Duncan (Liam James) is a 14 year old kid whose mother, Pam (Toni Collette) has dragged him along on a summer vacation with her new flame, the smarmy Trent (Steve Carell). Duncan languishes in misery until he strikes up a friendship with Owen (Sam Rockwell), a laid back---too laid back!--owner of a local water park.

There are plenty of coming of age films set during summer breaks, and I would say that this one landed in the upper middle tier for me for the way that it balances the multiple relationships complicating Duncan's life.

What I found very smart about the film was the way that it decentralizes the blossoming romance between Duncan and his neighbor, Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb). Yes, the romance serves as a kind of narrative barometer relating to Duncan's increasing confidence, but rather than make the "success" of the summer hinge on them hooking up, it's just one part of a very complex series of experiences Duncan has.

The heart of the film is actually the relationship between Duncan and Pam. From the jump, Trent is pretty terrible to Duncan, but in these really passive-aggressive paternal ways. Trent looks for any excuse to push the authority he has over Duncan, managing to couch basic questions or directions inside little put-downs. It is pretty agonizing, honestly, to watch Trent essentially bully Duncan while Pam mostly just watches on, unfairly putting the weight of their dust-ups on Duncan. What's even worse is watching the way that Pam begins to realize the kind of person Trent is . . . but elects to stick by him anyway.

Most of the energy and comic relief in the film comes from Rockwell's character and the nostalgic, ramshackle setting of the water park. Maya Rudolph and Jim Rash put in solid supporting turns as fellow employees of the water park, giving Rockwell two different straight-men for his rapid comic patter.

One aspect of the film that didn't work quite as well for me was the contrast between the tone of the drama and the tone of the comedy. Sometimes it works really well, especially as the water park is essentially almost a fantasy-land escape from the tensions of the summer house. But other times the humor felt forced. A running joke about the 40-year old water park employee feigning technical difficulties so that he can ogle the young women in line (complete with zoomed-in camera shots maybe four different times of a woman's rear end) while Owen and Duncan nod approvingly just felt gross. The lesson they want Duncan to understand is . . . when you have power and authority over someone, don't hesitate to use it for your own sexual gratification? In a movie where Trent's abuse of power is what makes him the enemy, this lands as a weird note.

The shenanigans at the water park sometimes also felt too slapstick, such as a sequence where some boys get stuck in a water slide tunnel. That sequence and a sequence where a weeping Pam talks about staying with people who hurt you don't feel like they belong in the same film. Likewise, in a film where we're asked to appreciate the nuances of child mistreatment, the character of the perpetually sloshed neighbor (Allison Janney) who mocks her own young child with a lazy eye feels wrong. We're asked to cringe at one teenage boy being publicly humiliated by a parent figure, but laugh at the same dynamic when it comes to the neighbors.

The inconsistent mesh of comedy and drama dings this one a bit for me, but overall the performances were good and I appreciated the structure of exploring the different relationship dynamics.

A weak



Now THAT'S funny, right there...







The Way Way Back, 2013

Duncan (Liam James) is a 14 year old kid whose mother, Pam (Toni Collette) has dragged him along on a summer vacation with her new flame, the smarmy Trent (Steve Carell). Duncan languishes in misery until he strikes up a friendship with Owen (Sam Rockwell), a laid back---too laid back!--owner of a local water park.

There are plenty of coming of age films set during summer breaks, and I would say that this one landed in the upper middle tier for me for the way that it balances the multiple relationships complicating Duncan's life.

What I found very smart about the film was the way that it decentralizes the blossoming romance between Duncan and his neighbor, Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb). Yes, the romance serves as a kind of narrative barometer relating to Duncan's increasing confidence, but rather than make the "success" of the summer hinge on them hooking up, it's just one part of a very complex series of experiences Duncan has.

The heart of the film is actually the relationship between Duncan and Pam. From the jump, Trent is pretty terrible to Duncan, but in these really passive-aggressive paternal ways. Trent looks for any excuse to push the authority he has over Duncan, managing to couch basic questions or directions inside little put-downs. It is pretty agonizing, honestly, to watch Trent essentially bully Duncan while Pam mostly just watches on, unfairly putting the weight of their dust-ups on Duncan. What's even worse is watching the way that Pam begins to realize the kind of person Trent is . . . but elects to stick by him anyway.

Most of the energy and comic relief in the film comes from Rockwell's character and the nostalgic, ramshackle setting of the water park. Maya Rudolph and Jim Rash put in solid supporting turns as fellow employees of the water park, giving Rockwell two different straight-men for his rapid comic patter.

One aspect of the film that didn't work quite as well for me was the contrast between the tone of the drama and the tone of the comedy. Sometimes it works really well, especially as the water park is essentially almost a fantasy-land escape from the tensions of the summer house. But other times the humor felt forced. A running joke about the 40-year old water park employee feigning technical difficulties so that he can ogle the young women in line (complete with zoomed-in camera shots maybe four different times of a woman's rear end) while Owen and Duncan nod approvingly just felt gross. The lesson they want Duncan to understand is . . . when you have power and authority over someone, don't hesitate to use it for your own sexual gratification? In a movie where Trent's abuse of power is what makes him the enemy, this lands as a weird note.

The shenanigans at the water park sometimes also felt too slapstick, such as a sequence where some boys get stuck in a water slide tunnel. That sequence and a sequence where a weeping Pam talks about staying with people who hurt you don't feel like they belong in the same film. Likewise, in a film where we're asked to appreciate the nuances of child mistreatment, the character of the perpetually sloshed neighbor (Allison Janney) who mocks her own young child with a lazy eye feels wrong. We're asked to cringe at one teenage boy being publicly humiliated by a parent figure, but laugh at the same dynamic when it comes to the neighbors.

The inconsistent mesh of comedy and drama dings this one a bit for me, but overall the performances were good and I appreciated the structure of exploring the different relationship dynamics.

A weak
I remember feeling annoyed that a fundamental part of Pam's disenchantment with Trent hinged on his unresolved relationship with his old girlfriend. It wasn't enough that she was delegated a servile position or that the guy treated her son so shabbily. Or maybe it was cumulative. Still though, Carell did a good job of playing such an overall douchebag.



I finally finished my big Pride Month project, which was a massive Judy Garland marathon. The couple remaining movies she made that I have not seen I do not appear to have access to (or at least will take a bit of doing to track down). I had only seen two of her movies before this (The Wizard of Oz and The Clock), so this was all pretty new to me.

After sitting through 31 of her movies over the last 30 days, she really is one of the best actresses Iíve ever seen. She is an incredibly powerful singer and has way better comedic (and especially dramatic) chops than people ever seem to give her. Itís a real shame that virtually no movie she was in ever came close to being as good as she was in it. Most were deeply mediocre outside of her performance in it.

Also, as of today, Iíve now seen every version of A Star Is Born (including What Price, Hollywood?) and can safely say that the most recent version is far and away my favorite. The Ď54 version, while good, was a lot stranger and uncomfortably dated than I ever figured it was going to be. The 8 or so minutes of lost footage being replaced by audio + production stills didnít help matters either (although itís hardly a deal-breaker by any means). It was, at least, a rare match for Judy Garlandís vast array of talents, though, which was a rather welcome change of pace.

1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

2. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

3. The Clock (1945)

4. A Str Is Born (1954)

5. I Could Go On Singing (1963)

6. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

7. A Child Is Waiting (1963)

8. Gay Purr-ee (1962)

9. Strike Up the Band (1940)

10. Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)

11. Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940)

12. Loves Finds Andy Hardy (1938)

13. Girl Crazy (1943)

14. For Me and My Gal (1942)

15. Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

16. Presenting Lily Mars (1943)

17. Easter Parade (1948)

18. The Pirate (1948)

19. In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

20. Summer Stock (1950)

21. The Harvey Girls (1946)

22. Listen, Darling (1938)

23. Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

24. Thoroughbreds Donít Cry (1937)

25. Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)

26. Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)

27. Pigskin Parade (1936)

28. Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

29. Everybody Sing (1938)

30. Babes in Arms (1939)

31. Babes on Broadway (1941)



Blood Simple (Coens, '84)



Down here... you're on your own.

WARNING: spoilers below
They say big things have small beginnings, but, while that's true in the case of Blood Simple, the start of the Coen brother's now-legendary decades long career, it's also true that this small beginning is a great one as well, taking a familiar Noir tale of adultery and murder, and filtering it through a sweaty, Neo-style sensibility, crafting a tight, tense work of profound, creeping paranoia, Texas (and Coen brothers)-style, and creating an enviable foundation for everything the iconic duo of filmmakers have made since.


It tells the story of Abby & Ray, a neglected housewife and an average joe bartender respectively, who impulsively strike up an affair while driving through a torrential downpour somewhere down in Texas. Naturally, Abby's husband Marty isn't too thrilled when he finds out about her infidelity, especially since it's with one of his own employees, but when he hires a sleazy, untrustworthy private eye for a "not strictly legal" job as an act of revenge against them, he accidentally sets off a increasingly insane chain of events, one where the dead seem to keep coming back to life, no one ever really trusts each other, and absolutely none of the characters can think straight, through both the real and imaginary pools of blood continually serving to obscure their vision.


So, when looking back on this film, it's striking how much Blood Simple set the stage for the Coens' later modern classics, with echoes reverberating throughout Fargo and their magnum opus No Country For Old Men, and, while it may not have 100% of the substance of some of their later efforts, Simple still has just as much STYLE, with cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld's tense, unnerving tracking shots, composer Carter Burwell's haunting, piano-centric score (which marks the first of his many collaborations with the Coens), and the pacing working to bring things to a slow (pot)boil, being agonizing in the most pleasurable sense of the word, if that makes sense.


And finally, Simple excels through its sheer, palpable atmosphere, which has one foot in the "real world", due to the copious amount of sweat constantly dripping off every character, whether it's from the Texas heat or their addled, fearful states of mind, while also accurately capturing the feeling of being trapped in a dream, albeit a bad one you can't even fully grasp, let alone escape from, as one bad mistake inevitably leads to the next, eventually leading you into an early grave. Add on top of that some sharp dialogue, a great cast all-around (including Frances McDormand herself in a strong debut performance), and traces of the Coens' signature black humor, and Blood Simple is anything but "the same old song"/film, as far as I'm concerned.


Final Score: 9





Shadows in an Empty Room is like a Giallo with Dirty Harry as the main protagonist. It's a bit silly, but not bad. Life in the Hole, on the other hand, is a real stinker. It's a thriller with some horror elements and less redeeming qualities than its guard abusing the women. Double Vision is pretty much a Taiwanese Se7en with Taoism replacing Christianity. Somewhat questionable acting and horrible dubbing are my main issues.

I was struck by some temporary insanity and decided to rewatch all the Elm Streets. A Nightmare on Elm Street is easily Wes Craven's best movie and at the very top of the teenage slasher pile. Somehow I always forget how much Craven loaned from Argento, especially the dream sequences feel like a tribute.

Freddy's Revenge is an odd sequel as it has very little in common with the original. It's more like an Amityville film with Freddy thrown in as an afterthought. I honestly don't know if it felt the worst of them all just because it followed the first one, but even in the best-case scenario, it shares the last place.

Dream Warriors is the sequel the original deserved. It feels like an Elm Street with the camp turned up to eleven. The Dream Master doesn't reach the quality of its predecessor but it isn't a bad fourth installment in a series. The Dream Child concludes the "dream trilogy" in a pretty crappy way. Things have gone too far from what made the original so good.

Speaking of going from good to garbage, we have The Reckoning. It's almost impossible to comprehend that Neil Marshall, the man responsible for Dog Soldiers and The Descent, is doing films like this now. It's like Witchfinder General but boring and shit.

The Light on the Hill is a Peruvian thriller erroneously marketed as horror. It lacks tension and feels longer than it actually is. Where the Scary Things Are is a low-budget horror that has some good ideas but eventually ends up being bad. I guess the pacing and the lack of attention to detail are my main issues. The kids, though, were real pieces of shit.

I almost forgot the sixth film in the series as it isn't named liked the others. Freddy's Dead is yet another tired attempt to prolong the franchise. There are plenty of dreams and twists but it feels boring. I think the world would be a better place if this and the previous Elm Street were never made. I still need to rewatch New Nightmare and Freddy vs. Jason.
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I remember feeling annoyed that a fundamental part of Pam's disenchantment with Trent hinged on his unresolved relationship with his old girlfriend. It wasn't enough that she was delegated a servile position or that the guy treated her son so shabbily. Or maybe it was cumulative. Still though, Carell did a good job of playing such an overall douchebag.
I didn't mind the arc, per se.

Trent is messing around with his friend's wife. And you actually get some interesting foreshadowing of that when the friend's wife dances kind of flirtatiously with Duncan and Trent looks super mad about it.

But a big problem is that we don't get enough of Pam and Duncan on their own to understand the depth of their relationship. We plunge right into Pam prioritizing Trent and ignoring the cruelty directed at Duncan. I think that her behavior actually does kind of make sense, but because we only get this one slice of her life, she seems like a terrible person.

I wouldn't be surprised if a chunk of Pam-related scenes were left out to keep the narrative more streamlined. But the result is a character who is always either in massive denial or having a breakdown. I think that Maya Rudolph's character is really saving grace in the film, because without her literally every female adult character would be a caricature or a horrible person.



I didn't mind the arc, per se.

Trent is messing around with his friend's wife. And you actually get some interesting foreshadowing of that when the friend's wife dances kind of flirtatiously with Duncan and Trent looks super mad about it.

But a big problem is that we don't get enough of Pam and Duncan on their own to understand the depth of their relationship. We plunge right into Pam prioritizing Trent and ignoring the cruelty directed at Duncan. I think that her behavior actually does kind of make sense, but because we only get this one slice of her life, she seems like a terrible person.

I wouldn't be surprised if a chunk of Pam-related scenes were left out to keep the narrative more streamlined. But the result is a character who is always either in massive denial or having a breakdown. I think that Maya Rudolph's character is really saving grace in the film, because without her literally every female adult character would be a caricature or a horrible person.
Oh okay. I didn't remember that detail about Trent's "girlfriend". And you're probably on the money about Pam's additional scenes being left out. But Faxon and Rash still managed to include enough to give people like me an understanding of Pam's current situation. Or maybe it was just Collette's talent as an actress. Her character is so lost and overwhelmed that all the promise she saw in this guy is hard to let go of. So whatever Collette or the directors (who also wrote the screenplay) did the character remained a mildly sympathetic figure.

EDIT: Running back scenes through my mind I find it a mixed bag. She had such a blasť attitude while the guy continuously hammered away at her son. Speaking of missing scenes her reaction would have made more sense if Duncan had been set up as an obnoxious hellraiser. Only he wasn't. She seemed almost resentful at times. As if she felt this kid was holding her back and was standing in the way of her and Trent making a go of it.

Like I said, a mixed bag.





Re-watch of an excellent movie. A classic of Mexican Cinema.
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Oh okay. I didn't remember that detail about Trent's "girlfriend". And you're probably on the money about Pam's additional scenes being left out. But Faxon and Rash still managed to include enough to give people like me an understanding of Pam's current situation. Or maybe it was just Collette's talent as an actress. Her character is so lost and overwhelmed that all the promise she saw in this guy is hard to let go of. So whatever Collette or the directors (who also wrote the screenplay) did the character remained a mildly sympathetic figure.

EDIT: Running back scenes through my mind I find it a mixed bag. She had such a blasť attitude while the guy continuously hammered away at her son. Speaking of missing scenes her reaction would have made more sense if Duncan had been set up as an obnoxious hellraiser. Only he wasn't. She seemed almost resentful at times. As if she felt this kid was holding her back and was standing in the way of her and Trent making a go of it.

Like I said, a mixed bag.
I think that in real life, such situations are complicated. And I think that for the most part, Trent's jerkiness falls just under what some people would consider a person "being a parent." Like telling Duncan to clear his plate, or help carry the cooler back to the car, or making him wear a life vest. I think it makes sense that Pam would just be able to justify the behavior.

I think that Pam probably also has some resentment, not directly toward Duncan but toward her ex-husband who refuses to take care of Duncan. I have friend in this situation: they never get a break and always have to be the responsible one. I think that Pam is trying to have, as Susanna said, "spring break for adults," and Duncan puts a damper on that.

Trent drew Pam in with his (repeated) talk about them being "a team". I really think that she was in major denial, but at the same time all of her actions after it's obvious he's cheating on her just seem strange.



Lie With Me (2005) Independent Canadian drama about a sexually aggressive young woman who meets a man looking for commitment. I enjoyed this. Lauren Lee Smith is fantastic here, giving a bold, beautiful performance. Eric Balfour is good too. Some nice nudity for those who enjoy that sort of thing (male and female nudity so something for everyone).



Eric Balfour is good too.
I donít think Iíve seen him in anything since Six Feet Under, in which he was very good.




Dressed to Kill (1980, Brian De Palma)

Like 'Blow Out', this features Nancy Allen in one of the leading roles, but my immediate reaction is that I liked this one a lot more. In fact, despite its flaws, this film has impressed me so much it made me want to see more from De Palma. First of all, I think the cinematography, frame composition and editing are outstanding and incredibly inventive (the use of mirrors, in particular). Secondly, this film is a perfect demonstration of De Palma's expert knowledge of the mechanics of horror and the power of small detail ó there are moments in this film that are genuinely, and brilliantly, scary, like that elevator scene (genius!), or the dream sequence at the end. The 'art gallery' sequence is another standout (the part where her gaze drifts from one thing to another and back again is just so quietly unsettling).If I have any gripes, it's the ending, I felt it was too abrupt.