Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - 2022 Edition

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UN OBUS PARTOUT
(2015, Najjar)
Freebie



"You want to die"
"No, I want to live"

Lebanon, 1982. The country is right in the middle of a civil war, while also trying to fend off military occupations from both Syria and Israel. The times of peace are few and war has become part of regular life, although "life" might not be the best term. With explosions a common occurrence, snipers being a frequent sight, and destroyed buildings the norm, survival is the more appropriate term.

It is in that setting that Un obus partout takes place. It follows Gabriel (Arthur Dupont), a young man desperate to see his fiancée in the other side of the city. The problem? To get there, he has to cross a bridge heavily guarded by enemy snipers. The plan? He recruits his friend Mokhtar (Thomas Blumenthal) to make a mad dash through the bridge in an old car as the snipers are distracted watching the 1982 World Cup.

Director Zaven Najjar does a great job with a sleek animation style that uses silhouette-like figures. This serves to accentuate the kinetic nature of the story and makes the visuals pop out more. I also thought that the use of a soccer game to contrast against the violence of the setting was an effective choice, while also highlighting two elements that define our humanity: our desire to have fun and our need to love.

I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a situation like this, where this violence ends up becoming just part of the day. So in a way, I understand Gabriel's urgency to not put his life and his love on hold while the war recedes. His determination to risk his life to see his fiancée goes to the very nature of our humanity; our desire to do more than survive, but to live and love.

Grade:
__________________
Check out my podcast: The Movie Loot!



GOODBYE MOMMY
(2019, Wedge)
Freebie



"Like I said, I don't really fit into this world. Misunderstood. So I pushed my own mind at telling my story; and then at the end, I'll be saying goodbye."

A down-on-his-luck detective is hired by a Queen to find her husband and baby, but shady elements threaten his mission. Think you've seen this story done before? Well, think again, cause writer and director Jack Wedge takes that story and grinds it through an acid-trip kaleidoscope of color, noir-ish vibes, and bizarre CGI animation.

Goodbye Mommy is the third short film from Wedge, whose father Chris achieved fame by directing the first Ice Age film and for voicing the ill-fated squirrel Scrat all through the franchise. But the apple couldn't have fallen further from the tree, at least in terms of style. This short film is a dizzying and disorienting experience, not only because of the way the camera frantically moves around the environment, but also because of how convoluted the story is.

But to be clear, I don't mean any of that in a bad way. There is a hypnotizing quality to it that doesn't let you look away, and there is a certain melancholy to the way the story unfolds, even if you're not really sure what is happening. The lead detective (voiced by Chris Wedge) feels misunderstood and like he "doesn't really fit into this world", but much like this short film, this job will turn out to be not what he (or us!) expected.

Grade:



Well that's unfortunate, since it was definitely the best way to experience it; I mean, I wasn't even into the movie on the whole the first time as much as I was later, but that one theatrical viewing I had is still one of the most memorable ones I've ever heard, simply because of the overwhelming senses of it all.



NU
(2003, Staho)
A film that starts with the letters M or N



"What we do *now* echoes in eternity" --Marcus Aurelius

Tough to pick a quote when a short film is entirely silent. Still, that quote from Roman emperor came to mind as I was thinking about this. I doubt it is what director and co-writer Simon Staho had in mind when writing and filming it, or choosing a title, but it is what kept coming back to me. The choices we make *now* will undoubtedly have repercussions, one way or the other, in our future and other people's future.

Now follows a man, Jakob (Mads Mikkelsen), making one of those choices when he marries Lisa (Elin Klinga). The thing is that Jakob eventually develops affections for someone else, Adam (Mikael Persbrandt), which maybe means that Jakob's choice was made for "now"; perhaps to please those around him, but not realizing that what he did *now* will echo into eternity.

There are some striking visuals and some powerful elements in this short film. However, the cold and distant direction doesn't really leave much space for a connection. Mikkelsen is great, which is a lot for a role that has no dialogue and demands a mostly stoic and emotionless performance. I just wish there could've been more for me to latch on to and give more weight to the powerful elements.

Grade:



NIGHT AND FOG
(1956, Resnais)
A film that starts with the letters M or N • A film from the TSPDT 1,000 Greatest Films list whose ranking includes the #7 (#187)



"Death makes its first choice. The second one is made on arrival in night and fog."

Night and Fog is a documentary that chronicles many of the events that happened at Nazi concentration camps during The Holocaust. Starting with the rise of Nazi ideology, the documentary offers details of how Jewish people were transported and led into camps, how they carried on their daily lives while imprisoned, and how they were treated, tortured, tested on, and eventually executed.

It is hard to write about this documentary from a filmmaking standpoint and not detour into the events it portrays. Resnais intercalates "modern" footage of the ruins of camps like Auschwitz and Majdanek, with stock footage taken during the Holocaust. The narration by Michel Bouquet offers a somber and melancholic account of the events. It is indeed a neatly constructed documentary.

But it is hard to write about this documentary and not detour into what it portrays. I consider myself a World War II buff, and I've seen dozens of photographs, videos, and documentaries about it and the Holocaust. Some are seen here, some are not. But even with those that I've seen, it never fails to crush my soul to see the utter disregard of humanity by those that perpetrated these crimes.

It's hard to imagine how something as horrible as this could be conceived, thought of, planned, put in motion, and carried on for years. It's hard to think how one would react if faced with these atrocities; to know that death can creep up in the darkness of night and responsibilities hidden under the cover of fog.

Grade:



A film that starts with the letters M or N • A film from the TSPDT 1,000 Greatest Films list whose ranking includes the #7 (#187)
Liar! That's not why you watched it!



Just dropped Episode 12 of my podcast, where I talk about one scene from Pulp Fiction, specifically the scene between Jules and Brett:

The Movie Loot - Special Episode XII (Pulp Fiction)

Remember you can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and most podcast platforms.



Just dropped Episode 12 of my podcast, where I talk about one scene from Pulp Fiction, specifically the scene between Jules and Brett:

The Movie Loot - Special Episode XII (Pulp Fiction)

Remember you can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and most podcast platforms.
Nice! I will listen to this while eating a cheeseburger and drinking a Sprite for the maximum effect.



Nice! I will listen to this while eating a cheeseburger and drinking a Sprite for the maximum effect.
I hope it hits the spot.


(the podcast AND the cheeseburger/Sprite)



I was also a guest on another podcast, Stew World Order, where me and Stew talked about Man of Steel, a film I hadn't seen before! Check it out.

Stew World Ordeer - Episode 35: Man of Steel

You can also look for it on most podcast platforms.



ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING
(1987, Columbus)
Freebie



"I got enough watching these guys. I've got the babysitting blues."

On the surface, babysitting seems like the "golden gig". Make sure kids go to sleep early and then have a house all for yourself to watch TV, eat popcorn, and do nothing. But then again, if we take 80s and 90s films as evidence, it's anything but. That's what Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) finds out in this comedy/adventure classic when she sings about ♪ the "babysitting blues" ♫

Adventures in Babysitting follows Chris as she decides to take a babysitting gig to keep her mind occupied after her boyfriend cancels their anniversary dinner. The subjects of their care are siblings Sarah and Brad (Maia Brewton and Keith Coogan), but Brad's obnoxious best friend Daryl (Anthony Rapp) also inserts himself in the equation. But things go awry when Chris' best friend Brenda calls her for help from Downtown Chicago after she ran away from her home.

As is expected, the problems and crazy situations just pile on top of the other; from something as mundane as a flat tire or forgetting a purse to something as chaotic as finding themselves in the middle of a stolen car operation or in the middle of a gang fight in the subway. That's why she has ♫ the babysitting blues ♪

This is one of those films that I remember seeing often when I was a kid/pre-teen, but that for some reason, I hadn't revisited in probably 20 years or more. Turns out it held up extremely well. In his directorial debut, Chris Columbus takes a very whimsical approach to the situations, similar to what he would do later in Home Alone. It doesn't matter the kids are being chased by criminals or that they're hanging from building ledges, it's all handled with a fun and adventurous tone.

Shue is both charming and commanding as the lead, and the three kids play well off of her and each other. George Newbern, who plays a sporadic love interest for Shue might feel like an unnecessary addition, but he sells the role well. Vincent D'Onofrio also has a memorable supporting role that always stuck in my mind, as he helps the gang go away and out of ♪ the babysitting blues ♫

Last month I was talking on my podcast about "suburban magical realism", as in films that deal with fantastical or absurd situations in a realistic suburban setting, and this is a perfect example of that. I love how it straddles that fine line between what's real and what's silly and/or absurd. It's all fun and adventurous, even when you feel ♫ the babysitting blues ♪ (Baby, baby!)

Grade:



Latest episode of The Movie Loot is out, The Western Loot! In this one, me and @ThatDarnMKS talk about the western genre, its history, peak and decline, the impact of some of its most notable stars, and close sharing our five favorite westerns. Check it out!

The Movie Loot 65: The Western Loot (with Tyler Jones)

So why don't you ride with us and check it out on the above link, or on any of these podcasting platforms: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any other. Thanks for the support!



Latest episode of The Movie Loot is out, The Western Loot! In this one, me and @ThatDarnMKS talk about the western genre, its history, peak and decline, the impact of some of its most notable stars, and close sharing our five favorite westerns. Check it out!

The Movie Loot 65: The Western Loot (with Tyler Jones)

So why don't you ride with us and check it out on the above link, or on any of these podcasting platforms: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any other. Thanks for the support!
Awesome; will try to check this out as soon as I can, Thief!



Awesome; will try to check this out as soon as I can, Thief!
Thanks, buddy. Let me know what you think.



Another day, another guest spot at another podcast. This week, Silver Screeners dropped its latest episode with me, joining its host, Frank Mandosa for a second time this year to talk about two 1987 summer comedies: Adventures in Babysitting and Summer School. Check it out!

Episode 59: 1987's Adventures in Babysitting and Summer School with special guest Carlo from The Movie Loot Podcast

Check it out on that link, or on any podcasting platform like Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Enjoy!



LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
(1986, Oz)
A musical



"♫ If you wanna be profound, if you really gotta justify, take a breath and look around, a lot of folks deserve to die! ♪"

Little Shop of Horrors follows meek Seymour (Rick Moranis), an employee at a decrepit flower shop that stumbles upon a mysterious carnivorous plant. When he realizes the plant is sentient and wanting to be fed... with people, Seymour struggles between complying with the plant to maintain his newfound popularity or doing the right thing to protect his friends as well as his co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene), whom he is secretly in love with.

This is a film I remember seeing a couple of times when I was a kid, and loving it. However, for some reason, I hadn't seen it easily in 20 years. After rewatching it now, I have to echo the words of a Twitter friend that went through the same process: "Why the hell haven't I been watching this all my life?", and that's because this movie rules.

Based on the off-Broadway musical, the film retains the stage-like qualities as far as the set design goes. It doesn't try to hide that it is a stage play, but rather embraces its nature in a wonderfully playful way. Despite this, it doesn't shy away from going all-in as far as top-notch special effects go, because the whole practical effects to make Audrey II, the carnivorous plant, come to life are amazing.

And still, as good as the special effects are, Audrey II wouldn't be half of what it is if it weren't for the hilarious vocal performance of Levi Stubbs. Impressive that this was his first vocal work. Moranis and Greene make for a perfect pair, while the cast is rounded out by some great supporting and cameo performances from Steve Martin and Bill Murray, among many others.

Even though I hadn't seen it in such a long time, the soundtrack (by Alan Menken) is something that I've been listening to often through all these years. Every song is pitch perfect and seamlessly weaved into the story by director Frank Oz and screen writer Howard Ashman. I was particularly fond of how the "Greek chorus" is integrated through every scene, and of how well they handle the darkly humorous tone of the story.

As the film approached its final act, I realized that the version that I was watching had the original ending. I had *read* about that ending, but there is a big difference between reading about it and seeing it unfold on screen as you are invested in the story. As cynical as I am, and as much of a fan of bleak and dark endings, this one was a bit hard to swallow. I appreciate and respect it, but I think I prefer the "happy" ending

Grade:



THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
(1951, Wise)
A film about aliens or alien abductions



"I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason."

Fear is described as the emotion that comes from believing that someone or something is dangerous. Many times, fear is justified and steers us away from risky situations. But when fear clouds our reasoning to analyze and make decisions, then people are bound to make the wrong ones, sometimes without even realizing it. That is the basis of this classic scifi thriller from the 1950s.

Set during the Cold War, The Day the Earth Stood Still begins with a flying saucer landing in the middle of Washington, DC creating all kinds of panic. When a humanoid called Klaatu (Michael Rennie), accompanied by a mysterious robot, claims to have an important message for all humanity, fear becomes the main threat among the population.

This is one of those films that always comes up in pop culture references and discussions about classic films, and understandably so. Even though some things could be seen as typical 50's scifi goofiness in the surface, the truth is that the film manages to instill an effective sense of dread and uneasiness regarding the nature of Klaatu's visit as well as what makes the robot Gort tick.

Rennie's performance as Klaatu is one of the film's strengths as he shows varying degrees of diplomacy, fairness, earnestness, and bluntness, all through the film. The first two are seen during his interactions with law enforcement and the military, while the earnestness can be seen through the friendship he develops with a young mother (Patricia Neal) and his son (Billy Gray).

Unfortunately, fear clouds our reasonings and the way we perceive things, regardless of how honest and well-intentioned they are, and in our fear to have "security", we threaten the security of others. That is why Klaatu's final message to humanity might seem blunt, but in a way, fair. "There must be security for all, or no one is secure."

Grade:



TANNA
(2015, Butler & Dean)
A film from Vanuatu



"This is not about you, it's about all of us."

Arranged marriage is a common practice between tribal societies in the island of Vanuatu. It is typically done to strengthen relations between different groups and is usually accompanied by the exchange of goods. At the end of the day, marriage is not done for the individual couple, but for the "greater good" of the community.

Set in the island of the same name, Tanna follows Wawa and Dain, a couple that doesn't want to comply with this arranged marriage. This, in turn, worsens an ongoing conflict with the neighboring tribe, the Imedin, with whom Wawa was set to marry... not for her, but for the good of the tribe.

It is always interesting for me to dive into different cultures, whether it's by a book, a song, a conversation, or in this case, a film. Tanna takes you deep into the societal minutiae of the people from the island, but does so with a solid story and good, honest performances from actual natives.

The story is not new, with strong Romeo and Juliet vibes, but is executed well. The direction from Butler and Dean is pretty good, and the cinematography by Dean himself does a great job of highlighting the nature and environment of the island, which I think it's important in this film. If you like venturing outside of the box, this is a solid choice.

Grade:



WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER
(2001, Wain)
A film with "America" in its title



"Before we start, I'd just like to say the campers you're about to see suck dick! But nevertheless, please welcome them."

That's the warm welcome that camp director Beth (Janeane Garofalo), gives to her team of counselors at Camp Firewood. A reminder that these kids suck and the counselors aren't there to help you have fun, but rather to have fun themselves; whether it is by staging elaborate theater productions, distract yourself from a failed marriage, or just try to get laid.

Wet Hot American Summer follows an assorted cast, most of which were part of The State comedy troupe. The characters include theater directors Susie and Ben (Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper) trying to prepare the camp's talent show, camp director Beth falling in love with a neighboring astrophysics professor (David Hyde Pierce), and Coop (Showalter), a shy nerdy guy secretly in love with Katie (Marguerite Moreau), who is in turn fixated on her obnoxious and unfaithful boyfriend Andy (Paul Rudd).

With an ensemble cast that big, the film does a good job of balancing the different storylines. However, the clear scene-stealer is Rudd. His performance is so effortless and laid-back that you can't help but believe he's an a$$hole, and yet you wanna see more of him. The other thing that makes this work is the way the script and direction combines the meta aspect of parodying classic summer camp films (and teen films in general) and the absurdity of its various sketches (i.e. camp cook Gene receiving life advice from a can of mixed vegetables)

The director and writers are self-aware enough to know when to lean into the conventions of the genre and when to pull the rug and subvert the tropes. But they are also helped by a cast with great comedic timing and evident chemistry and comfortability to elevate the material. Yeah, maybe some of them are a$$holes, pretentious, douchebags, or you know "suck dick". But nevertheless, please welcome them.

Grade: