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I forgot the opening line.

By UKmovieposters.co.uk, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12506432

Absolute Beginners - (1986)

Talk about interesting failures - I watched Absolute Beginners soon after it's release in '86, being interested in everything David Bowie. I didn't like it all that much - and had never watched it since. You'll hear it mentioned early on in Robert Altman's The Player, when characters played by Paul Hewitt and Fred Ward talk about memorable long shots in cinematic history they recall. Yeah - that shot near the beginning goes on for an eternity and looks to involve a thousand people carefully choreographed, but the cheats are all there. The camera passes by walls, that moment of pure black an obvious cutting point, and camera flashes do the same. Once you see it, you'll understand why it was impossible to capture that in one, genuine take. Even the segments are impressive though. But the movie itself - confusing, uneven and throwing themes around in disjointed ways, is somewhat messy. That unevenness includes the music numbers, which range from great to sub-par. Bowie's title song, "Absolute Beginners", would be a hit for him in Britain and is on another level to the rest of the movie (including his in-movie song "That's Motivation") - although Sade's "Killer Blow" approaches greatness.

I was hoping for a bit more from this second viewing of Absolute Beginners. Bowie's involvement reeks of irony, seeing as one of the themes involves artistic integrity and an artist's need to resist selling out - at the very point in Bowie's career when he was selling out. From there we morph into the real-life 1958 Notting Hill race riots - tied into the plot of the film via unscrupulous property investors and corrupt landlords evicting tenants on the basis of a wave on anti-immigration sentiment post World War II. Main character Colin (Eddie O'Connell) lives in an area which still shows signs of the destruction wrought on Britain, and the whole story is based on a generation untouched by the horrors of that era. O'Connell (seeming like a 1980s answer to Tom Courtenay) was making his debut, and didn't perform well. His career never took off, and I have no idea why he was given such an important role. The movie killed British studio Goldcrest Films. It was meant to be the movie musical of the 1980s, but the title song and that famous long take are the only successes related to it.

Patsy Kensit, David Bowie, James Fox, Sade and Steven Berkoff couldn't save it. Meaning to be different, the weirdness just comes off as plain weird in an unenjoyable way. Colin's family is introduced to us, and patriarch Arthur (Ray Davies) sings a whole song while we take in information that will have absolutely zero bearing on the rest of the film. We just don't see them again. The inverse goes for all of the black characters who only show up in any meaningful way when the race riots start - where were they during this film's first three-quarters? Silly dancing, strange costumes and equally off songs feel like chores to get through. I'm fascinated by this film's failure, which seems to have it's genesis in Julien Temple throwing most of screenwriter Christopher Wicking's ideas into the bin, and adding this flair to the movie - it's a flair that feels meaningless. One of the great films of the 1980s that was never made - Absolute Beginners stands as a testament to screwing up promising projects.

5/10
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Latest Review : Aftersun (2022)



The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

Gosh, this movie breaks my heart every time. This poor sad sap of a man just wants everyone to have some fun; he wants to run his seedy-ass burlesque show in peace and keep everyone happy. He doesn't deserve to be menaced by cult legend Timothy Carey and be forced to do mob hits. It's all so grimy and intimate, just one of my all-time favorite noirs. 10/10



The Bib-iest of Nickels
My wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, and I told her I'd like to add more South Korean horror / crime movies to my movie collection. Bless her heart, she bought me the Japanese horror film The Audition. Close enough, haha.

It's an alright film. I remember when I first watched it about a decade or so ago, I was hyped for it, and then, I watched it and was disappointed. It had such high acclaim across the board that my expectations were too high up.

That said, watching it now, I'm fine with it. It still isn't a great film in my opinion, but it's not bad by any means.



Good movie. Interesting true-story storyline. Nobody in the movie is a professional actor except Binoche. The woman she interacts with the most is exceptionally believable.
One thing that was super-annoying is that the English subtitles were a beat behind the French dialogue instead of being simultaneous. Not only did it spoil the flow, one never knew who actually spoke if there were more than two people speaking.
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Very hard to follow if one knew nothing about some of the real-life people depicted in the movie & the scandal they once caused. Portman & Moore both very good as per usual, but nothing would make me watch this movie again.







1st Rewatch...This tiresome comedy about a recent Yale graduate who joins the Peace Corps to escape a gambling debt did nothing to advance the career of Tom Hanks and didn't do a lot for me either. Even the late great John Candy seems to be phoning it in.






2nd Rewatch...I'd forgotten how funny this movie was. Definitely the funniest of the franchise, I especially loved the car chase with a student driver behind the wheel and the finale at the baseball game with Queen Elizabeth. Ricardo Montalban also makes a perfect moustache-twirling villain.



Please Quote/Tag Or I'll Miss Your Responses
Greatest performance I've ever seen by an actress.

Brando is easily my favorite actor, but I think her performance might be the best ever.



The entire movie is free on YouTube for others who might be interested.





I forgot the opening line.

By http://[email protected], Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20894800

Dead Calm - (1989)

There's nothing really special about thriller Dead Calm, and it doesn't really have any quirks that resemble the rest of Australian cinema - but I liked it back in the day, and it still stands up because of something of a nicely crafted performance from Billy Zane. He plays the quite crazy character Hughie Warriner, who abandons his schooner (full of murder victims) and rows his rowboat to a yacht belonging to Navy Captain John Ingram (Sam Neill) and his wife Rae (Nicole Kidman) - both grieving their infant son after the boy was killed in a car accident. Hughie takes control after a suspicious John rows to the nutty guy's ship, and as such Rae is alone with someone dangerous and John is stranded on a sinking ship - surrounded by body parts and torsos. It plays out pretty much as you'd expect - but is worth watching to see how we discovered newcomer Zane, and the promise he showed. Nicole Kidman, in her early 20s, didn't have the stature she had now - she's pretty small and vulnerable in appearance. Fine nautical thriller - psychologically tense and fun. (Fair warning - a pet dog is killed.)

7/10


By Amazon Studios - Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66578385

Coming 2 America - (2021)

A couple of sequels came out in the 1980s that really felt strange to me, considering the gulf of time between the original and follow-up. Psycho II came out in 1983, some 23 years after the original (and 3 years after Alfred Hitchcock's death), and then The Color of Money came out in 1986, 25 years after The Hustler. Considering that I hadn't even been born when the originals were showing at the movies, it felt a little weird. Now we have Coming 2 America going further than either of those two examples - a sequel some 33 years after John Landis movie Coming to America came out. I remember going to see Coming to America, which was a lot of fun. Coming 2 America felt so very different. Eddie Murphy doesn't do or say one funny thing - he's too dignified I guess, and leaves a lot of the comedy to the likes of Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan. Alas, the comedy in this isn't all that funny - at least to me. I got my dose of nostalgia - I have to admit it's cool catching up with characters left dormant for so long - but apart from advancing this modern fairy tale to the next generation, there's not much here worth remembering 3 years later, never mind 33. I'm sticking with the original, and the sequel will be a once-off viewing for me.

5/10



I love the critic quote on that poster of Volunteers above.

"Volunteers reunites Tom Hanks with his old Splash-mate jumbo John Candy"

It simultaneously says nothing positive about the movie, and calls John Candy fat.

And it's on the poster.

Amazing.



The only thing worth remembering about Volunteers is Tom Hanks meeting his wife Rita Wilson on that movie.

And the eating babies thing too if you have to nitpick.



I love the critic quote on that poster of Volunteers above.

"Volunteers reunites Tom Hanks with his old Splash-mate jumbo John Candy"

It simultaneously says nothing positive about the movie, and calls John Candy fat.

And it's on the poster.

Amazing.
It's always interesting to me to think about acting as a profession, and how it requires (ostensibly) a real self-awareness about what you are and what you are not. If you're John Candy or Chris Farley, you must know, at least on some level, what your schtick is. Farley sure did, presumably because he was a comedian and I'd argue they need the most self-awareness of just about any type of performer.

I think about this every time someone's cast as a supermodel, or the ugly girl, or what have you. Sometimes there's deniability: they can frump you up and maybe the actor can think "well, they had to frizz my hair and make me dress horribly for this role." But maybe not.

Same thing with age, particularly when someone crosses over from, say, being the female lead/love interest to being someone's mom.



guadalajara, mexico
10



It's always interesting to me to think about acting as a profession, and how it requires (ostensibly) a real self-awareness about what you are and what you are not. If you're John Candy or Chris Farley, you must know, at least on some level, what your schtick is. Farley sure did, presumably because he was a comedian and I'd argue they need the most self-awareness of just about any type of performer.

I think about this every time someone's cast as a supermodel, or the ugly girl, or what have you. Sometimes there's deniability: they can frump you up and maybe the actor can think "well, they had to frizz my hair and make me dress horribly for this role." But maybe not.

Same thing with age, particularly when someone crosses over from, say, being the female lead/love interest to being someone's mom.

I believe I've read, about both Candy and Farley, that while they understood what part of their appeal was (being the loveable fat guy), it both affected them negatively. I believe Farley in particular was filled with a kind of self loathing that his job was to have people, in part, laugh at how he looked.


As self righteous as she can somrtimes come across as, Hannah Gadsby touched on this idea in her Nanette special. At what cost do many comedians turn their pain and insecurities into objects of ridicule. It's a very complicated question to ask, and she definitely reduces it to something decidedly more simple by declaring that it is essential wrong to do this....but it's definitely an interesting topic of discussion.


Are these people taking ownership of the things that hurt them by creating humor and art from it, or are they further living up to the expectations of those who put them down and dehumanize them?


I lean towards the former, but I definitely think it is large portions of both.






1st Rewatch...Steven Spielberg's powerhouse, emotionally charged roller coaster is just as an intense on a second watch. As I was watching though, I discovered a glaring mistake I made on one of my lists. I recently did a list of my favorite film debuts, and I realized I left two of them off of my list and they are both from this movie. First of all, Whoopi Goldberg commanded the screen like she hasn't done since, losing the Best Actress to the sentimental win for Geraldine Page. Her performance as Celie is 50 times better than her over the top comic turn in Ghost. The other, of course, is Oprah Winfrey, creating a cinematic tornado in Sophia who you couldn't turn away from. It still blows my mind that this movie was nominated for eleven Oscars and didn't take home a single award...and Spielberg wasn't even nominated!





DECEMBER 12, 2023

Silent Night

I'm not sure I was absolutely crazy about this movie, but it is John Woo's first U.S. production in about 20 years, so there is something of an event quality to it, and it must certainly be given its due. First of all, let's just say that - once again - the trailer gives no real indication of just what kind of film it's supposed to be promoting. More exactly, we are given no clue as to what makes the film unique and distinctive. (After all, what Quentin Tarantino referred to in his recent book Cinema Speculations as "Revenge-A-Matics" have become rather dime-a-dozen over the years. And BTW, using Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to promote an action flick in a trailer is not the most original idea around!) OK, OK, yeah, we get the idea that it's a high-octane revenge flick set around Christmas time and that there's a guy on the rampage waging a one-man war against gangbangers who killed his son, and it certainly is all that. But what we don't get in the trailer is the fact that - at least for the most part - Silent Night is a silent movie! I mean, seriously, we could have watched this with the sound turned all the way down and we really wouldn't have missed a thing. (Actually, what's really funny is that when the projectionist hadn't raised the volume level sufficiently for the trailers preceding the film, I was afraid that the movie itself wouldn't have been sufficiently loud. Luckily enough, the volume level was properly loud, but it's not like there would have been any dialogue to lose out on if it hadn't been! )

Did anybody else know about this? Or was I the only one that didn't? I guess that's kind of a measure of the extent I go to in order to stay surprised and spoiler-free. My only clue as to what a brand new movie is all about these days comes from what I've seen in the trailer, and that isn't always completely reliable. (Quite honestly, though, it's not really an effort on my part staying spoiler-free. I'm just too lazy or disinclined to keep myself abreast of new developments in cinema. I'm kind of more fixated on the glories of cinema past these days...)

As far as the movie is concerned... What can I say? I was properly entertained up to a point. But it seemed to me that there was a bit of uncertainty as to exactly what the movie's attitude was toward its own story material. (The script is credited to Robert Archer Lynn.) I mean, Joel Kinnaman's performance as the vengeful protagonist Brian Godlock was quite excellent overall, truly devastating and emotionally affecting. But most of the time, just when you think the movie seems about to deconstruct the tropes of the standard-issue Revenge-A-Matic thriller, it's usually walking straight headlong into them. I mean, there's even a training montage! Ultimately, I thought that while Silent Night was certainly a fun viewing experience - and yes, it is good to see John Woo back on U.S. cineplex screens - I was left wanting more. The novelty of having almost no dialogue whatsoever definitely makes it noteworthy, but it's not enough to overcome the feeling that we've all seen this story before.

If you think about it, a movie like Silent Night serves as a good reminder that cinema itself started out as a silent medium. But at the same time, the fact that most of the time you don't even notice this lack of dialogue also serves as a reminder of just how little dialogue tends to matter in this kind of film at all.
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"I'll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours" - Bob Dylan, Talkin' World War III Blues (1963)