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Army of the Dead - This is a zombie heist thriller set in the ruins of an abandoned, walled in Las Vegas so what first struck me was the dearth of tension or suspense or even foreboding. There's the usual introductions/assembling the crew but they're such sketched in characters that it's difficult to muster any interest. Most of the cast is wasted with star (and my main reason for wanting to watch this) Dave Bautista, written in a nebulous and bland way and Ana de la Reguera not even achieving one note status. She's solely there to setup a love interest for Bautista's character but they just kind of spring that on you at the last moment almost as an aside. The rest don't fare much better with Garrett Dillahunt as a generic, predictable bad guy. Omari Hardwick and Matthias Schweighöfer come the closest to reaching fleshed out characters with their odd couple pairing. If you don't let the listless vibe lull you and are able to pay enough attention you'll be able to guess a lot of the plot points. There's a "super" zombie in a cape *nudge nudge wink wink* leading a flash mob of the undead that somehow or another fail to generate sufficient and genuine scares. Zack Snyder has more than his share of detractors and, even though I don't count myself as one, it's stuff like this that makes the hate understandable. He came up with the concept then directed it, coproduced it, cowrote it and was in charge of principal photography so there's not many places to hide. This one's on him.




Army of the Dead -


I made a vow to swear off Zack Snyder movies after being let down with Batman v Superman, but this movie's cool trailer and premise swayed me. I really should have kept that vow. Where to begin? Firstly, it's too much like Aliens. Besides essentially having the same plot, there's a Burke-like company man (Martin), a strong, silent Hispanic woman (Maria), an audience surrogate (Dieter), etc. Individually, the performers do the best with what they must work with, but even if you find diamonds in a cowpat, at the end of the day, it's still a cowpat. Also, I'm not sure if these similarities making the movie too predictable or the direction are to blame, but it's largely a tension-free affair. Watching zombies get blown away or cut to pieces usually fills me with adrenaline, but I disappointingly reacted with passive disinterest. There are other faults from bad science to plot holes to needlessly excessive length I could pick apart, but I won't. I'd rather call out its biggest offense - to me anyway, because Las Vegas is one of my favorite places to visit - is that it wastes the potential of its setting. The heist might as well have occurred at a bank in Wichita, Kansas, in other words. Since I have nothing good to say about it, why didn’t I give it one star? I feel that rating belongs to movies that fail spectacularly. This movie, on the other hand, merely fails mediocrely. If credit goes to anybody, it's to Netflix's marketing team for producing a trailer so good that it made give Zack Snyder a second chance. My advice to you is to watch it, especially since it's free to do so, and dream about what a better director could have done with this material.
I didn't find this till after I posted my take but we seem to be in agreement on a lot of points.

Why two and a half hours? Anyone can literally pick out exactly where he could and should have made his cuts. Geeta and her kids, the stuff with Scott's daughter. Hell, the daughters character altogether. The obnoxious security guard. He could easily have kept it under two hours but Netflix let him have free rein. So much so that this is considered Snyder's directors cut. I've been wanting to yet haven't seen his Justice League cut yet but this didn't exactly make me want to rush right out and watch it.



Why two and a half hours? Anyone can literally pick out exactly where he could and should have made his cuts. Geeta and her kids, the stuff with Scott's daughter. Hell, the daughters character altogether. The obnoxious security guard. He could easily have kept it under two hours but Netflix let him have free rein. So much so that this is considered Snyder's directors cut. I've been wanting to yet haven't seen his Justice League cut yet but this didn't exactly make me want to rush right out and watch it.
This was the biggest offender to me. They slow the movie to a crawl. I realize the scenes are there to add emotional weight and add depth to Scott's character, but their purpose is too obvious; besides, the "distant parent and child reconciling" trope is so tired that it hurts. Plus, Zack Snyder adding emotional weight is like Terence Malick adding brevity.

The food truck ideas can stay, though. A much better ending would have been
WARNING: spoilers below
Kate surviving and an epilogue with her operating a food truck and serving customers. They could have called it "Wardaburger" or something like that.



Tenebre (1982)

A pretty decent giallo by Argento. Plotwise it's more coherent than most of its ilk, and even the twist makes more or less sense. It's not visually flamboyant for an Argento film but still OK-looking. It's an interesting choice to mostly intensify violence instead of suspense towards the end.
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This was the biggest offender to me. They slowed the movie to a crawl. I realize the scenes are there to add emotional weight and add depth to Scott's character, but their purpose is too obvious; besides, the "distant parent and child reconciling" trope is so tired that it hurts. Plus, Zack Snyder adding emotional weight is like Terence Malick adding brevity.

The food truck ideas can stay, though. A much better ending would have been
WARNING: spoilers below
Kate surviving and an epilogue with her operating a food truck and serving customers. They could have called it "Wardaburger" or something like that.
WARNING: spoilers below
Zomburgers was right there. SMH



WARNING: spoilers below
Zomburgers was right there. SMH
Ha! That reminds me: apparently, undead creatures
WARNING: spoilers below
can procreate and birth, as I dubbed, "zombabies."







Snooze factor = 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



WARNING: spoilers below
Zomburgers was right there. SMH
Or Zurgie?:









Mary Magdalene

Man I wish they hadn't gone with Joaquin phoenix, when he was talking all I could think was Joker, that same tone only this time he's talking about the eternal spirit and not the system that knows so much, man that Joker was corny lol but I guess I might not have got it lmao
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Strange movie, but I did finish. The 4 leads, including Jagger, were excellent.



Zero interest in boxing, but I did finish. Thought the production values were very high. Jake G. gave 500% as he always does & Forest W. was excellent as he always is.
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Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Init!ation (John Berardo, 2020)
5/10
Traveling Saleslady (Ray Enright, 1935)
6/10
Legendary Champions (Harry Chapin, 1968)
6.5/10
Four Good Days (Rodrigo García, 2020)
6/10

Dysfunctional mother Glenn Close and daughter Mila Kunis temporarily work together to get the latter some rehab help [again] for her addictions.
The Trial (Sergey Loznitsa, 2018)
6/10
Executive Suite (Robert Wise, 1954)
+ 6.5/10
Salesman (Maysles Bros. & Charlotte Zwerin, 1969)
6/10
One Potato, Two Potato (Larry Peerce, 1964)
6.5/10

Powerful, innovative drama about how the romance and marriage of Barbara Barrie and Bernie Hamilton cause all kinds of problems.
Draegerman Courage (Louis King, 1937)
6/10
Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something (Rick Korn, 2020)
+ 6.5/10
Karate, the Hand of Death (Joel Holt, 1961)
5/10
In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967)
7+/10

Complex, entertaining murder mystery/police procedural/social drama with an iconic performance from Sidney Poitier and an Oscar-winning one from Rod Steiger.
10 Items or Less (Brad Silberling, 2006)
6/10
My Way Home (Miklós Jancsó, 1965)
6.5/10
L.A. Takedown (Michael Mann, 1989)
6/10
Kid Blue (James Frawley, 1973)
6.5/10

Social satire about how outlaw Dennis Hopper tries to go straight in turn-of-the-century Texas, befriended by a Greek-obsessed factory worker (Warren Oates) and his sexy wife (Lee Purcell), but he finds "modern life" too restrictive.
Everything Goes Wrong (Seijun Suzuki, 1960)
6/10
Tender (Isabel Pagliai, 2020)
5/10
Stop Train 349 (Rolf Hädrich, 1963)
6/10
A Kid for Two Farthings (Carol Reed, 1955)
6.5/10

Young boy Jonathan Ashmore believes his new goat is a unicorn who will make him and his friends lucky.
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LE JOUR SE LÈVE
(1939, Carné)
Freebie



"They say lovers are more alive than other people. You think that’s true?"

That is unless their hearts are broken in the process. Because then, the opposite applies. That is more or less what happens in this 1939 French film. Directed by Marcel Carné, Le jour se lève follows François (Jean Gabin), a factory worker that falls in love with *wait for it* Françoise (Jacqueline Laurent), a florist, only to find out she's more interested in a sleazy and narcissistic entertainer (Jules Berry).

The thing is that the film follows a non-linear narrative, starting with François murdering a man in his apartment, and then goes back to show how he ended up in that position. That is when we see how François and Françoise meet by chance, bond over their similarities, their names, and their orphan upbringing, only to see her gush over Valentin later on. The film frequently returns to "present time", as we see François barricade himself in his apartment as the police outside figure out how to apprehend him.

This film was a magnificent surprise, and the kind of film that makes you wonder why the heck isn't it mentioned more often. I had literally never heard of this film before this, and yet I was completely captivated by pretty much every aspect of it. From its structure, its striking cinematography and direction, the great performances, and the edgy script. Every single thing was top of the line.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot and the PR HOF3.
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Mary Magdalene

Man I wish they hadn't gone with Joaquin phoenix, when he was talking all I could think was Joker, that same tone only this time he's talking about the eternal spirit and not the system that knows so much, man that Joker was corny lol but I guess I might not have got it lmao
I haven't seen the picture, but they should have made a PG movie about biblical times-- not R. I imagine some parents would like to have taken their kids to it.

IMO Phoenix is only good in weird character roles. He's too much of a natural stoner to play straight roles.



Doc's commentary:


The Burnt Orange Heresy(2019)

Although the trailer was interesting, I was a little skeptical of the film due to its
mediocre ratings. But surprisingly it was a bit of a diamond in the rough, likely foiled in its release plans due to the covid mess.

Featuring a well put together cast of Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, and Mick Jagger (who was actually very good), the story presented an art critic of questionable morals (and a lover/girlfriend of questionable background), who is summoned by a famous art collector with questionable scruples, who wants to acquire a painting by a famous artist whose recent work is of questionable existence.

The story holds one’s interest, but there were several demerits from me. First, much of the dialogue between the artist and anyone else, and likewise some of Jagger’s dialogue was pretentious. No one speaks conversationally in perfectly formed sentences full of formalized or “delicatessen” vocabulary. Second, the story jumped ahead a little quickly, e.g. the critic evidently had a speed pill habit which eventually caused him to commit some fairly horrific crimes. One had to understand that in order to accept the action.

But the acting was first rate, and the chemistry between Debicki and Bang (who is Danish) was palpably authentic, especially on her part. Debicki is a giraffe-like statuesque beauty, who at 6’ 2” probably has trouble getting romantic parts. Happily Bang is 6’ 4”, so it never became a noticeable issue. Jagger astonished me by seeming to be a pro actor, and it was good casting for his part as well. Sutherland mailed in his eccentric artist role, replete with the silly scarves he likes to wear. He did manage to rise above his dialogue, and bring off the part.

The movie transforms into a crime thriller in it’s last third, and finishes up with a nice little twist ala Hitchcock: a surprisingly watchable film.

Doc’s rating: 6.5/10



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Lake of Fire (2006) -




Some loose thoughts from watching the film:

- they should not be called pro-life but pre-pregnancy; the moment the baby is born, they stop giving a flying damn about the baby's well-being, the baby can just as well die right afterward because it's "God's will"
- some of the so-called pro-lifers are also anti-contraceptives and anti-sex education because their religion says so
- the film talks about a bill passed in a US state that's very similar to the one that has been passed in Poland recently - abortion was made illegal even in cases of irreversible impairment of the fetus or an incurable life-threatening disease, which is a disgusting barbarity; forcing the mother to incredible suffering but let's not delve into that
- the meetup at the 'fetus cemetery' at the beginning of the movie is laughable and the dramatic music makes it even crazier; I dunno what's the director's opinion on abortion but I doubt he actually put that dramatic music without any slight irony
- I find it amazing how Americans are one of the most intelligent nations but also one of the most f*cked up nations, or alternatively, the crazies are most vocal and visible in America, or most often shown
- that close-up on the fetus - it looks like a frog WTF
- the guy who compares abortion to Holocaust XDDD
- the zealots who want to execute abortionists xDDD

Hey, too much about zealot pro-lifers who shoot people and too little about pro-lifers in general - most pro-lifers do not go around shooting people so there's that visible disparity, although I'd warrant a guess that most pro-lifers are religious, so there's that. I would say it's not really a film about the issue of abortion or any attempts at debating the issue but mainly about some religious people who are vehemently against it (and also against homosexuality while they're at it). This is a weird, skewed direction, but then again it's OK to just treat it as a film about the pathological anti-abortion crazies.

The Seventh Cross (1944) -




Very good if overly melodramatic. Could have used more tension in the latter parts. Great acting but there is no real sense of dread or fear to scenes that required it. It's a simple war-time Hollywood stylization that is what it is but you really gotta appreciate the sheer realism of European films afterward. Since it was made during the war, I guess the main idea was to give people some optimism, and that's naive but acceptable.

Now, from a cinematic standpoint, the film's amazing, boasting fancy black and white cinematography and some interesting blocking choices like the screenshot above, with a visible black line separating the screen. Gotta love this composition! The ending was kinda unfinished just like the war was not finished back then, but it isn't gruesome, which allows us to think the war is nearing its end (Germany was defeated by the Soviet Union and it was pretty much obvious they're gonna lose).

1917 (2019) -




Quite a spectacle! Obviously, the plot is just an excuse to show some good camerawork and very long takes (edited to look like it's one long take). In the end, I wasn't amazed, and the more the film tried to amaze me, the more I was disillusioned. Think the long run at the end. Maybe if I watched it at the cinema and my ears were raped by the 30 times too loud sound, I'd be more into it. I was still into it, just don't think it's great.

Shortbus (2006) -




The only problems people have in life are related to sex, and only sex is the cure for these problems. Adventurous group sex. Pathetic.
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