Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - 2022 Edition

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That's about what I figured; I haven't watched it yet, but I have no current plans on doing so, considering everything I've heard, plus how big a waste of time Fallen Kingdom was. I did enjoy watching this takedown of it earlier though, in particular how it criticizes modern Hollywood for its reliance on empty nostalgia cues:





That's about what I figured; I haven't watched it yet, but I have no current plans on doing so, considering everything I've heard, plus how big a waste of time Fallen Kingdom was. I did enjoy watching this takedown of it earlier though, in particular how it criticizes modern Hollywood for its reliance on empty nostalgia cues:


I don't think it's as bad as Fallen Kingdom, but it's close. Either way, none of the sequels have really managed to get close to the original... at all, so I hope that this "closing" means we're getting a "dino break" for a couple of years, until the inevitable reboot/remake comes around.
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TERMINATOR 3
RISE OF THE MACHINES

(2003, Mostow)
Freebie



John Connor: "What, do you guys come off an assembly line or something?"
Terminator: "Exactly."

In 1984, James Cameron revolutionized the sci-fi world while terrorizing audiences by introducing us to the Terminator, or T-101, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. A machine sent from the future, built essentially to find and kill. 7 years later, he hit it again, this time with a spin: Arnold's Terminator was now the "good guy", reprogrammed and sent from the future to protect John Connor, the future leader of the Resistance.

A lot can be said about that decision, and how that changes the tone of the film (and the franchise!) or how it's just an excuse to keep putting Arnold in this role forever and ever... regardless of how silly it might be, from stealth purposes, to send an identical Terminator back in time but the truth is that Cameron nailed it both times. Both his films became massive hits and icons of the sci-fi and action genre. So with Judgment Day prevented, where would the inevitable sequel go when the time comes? That's the question that this film tries to answer.

Set approximately 10 years after T2, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines follows John (Nick Stahl) as he lives off the grid now, unable to adapt to a normal life. When a new Terminator is sent back to target his "future" lieutenants, another obsolete T-101 is taken off the assembly line and sent again to protect John. Meanwhile, they realize that the Skynet project has been taken over by the military. But can they do something to stop it and save humanity again?

Unsurprisingly, the reaction to Terminator 3 was... lukewarm, to put it mildly. Coming on the heels of an iconic sequel like T2, it was expected. But still, I've found myself loving it ever since I saw it in theaters. That is no secret for most people that know me. I've fought for the film ever since, which is why when the opportunity came to "defend" the film on a friend's podcast, I jumped at the opportunity.

I will start by saying the main thing I have issues with on this film and that is the tone. It juggles a more comedic tone than the previous two, while also handling some really dark stuff. Not sure if the attempt was to counterbalance one with the other, but it does feel a bit jarring at first. However, after adjusting my bearings to it, it doesn't bother me as much as it did at first.

Some of the things it does well for me is reminding us that, after all, the Terminator is just a[nother] machine taken off the assembly line, and not the "lovable" father figure we met in T2. And still, we can see how despite that, it can still overcome its programming to complete its mission of protecting John. Something that we can also see in how Sarah, despite succumbing to leukemia, managed to live 3 more years than what the doctors gave her in order to "complete" her mission, and know that they had succeeded.

To me, it succeeds in showing us a flawed and reluctant hero in John Connor, a young man that was essentially "groomed" since he was a child to be this leader of the future. But when that is supposedly gone, he finds himself aimless and without purpose. A man that is burdened and haunted by a future that hasn't happened or might not even happen. I think Stahl did a great job of showing that. Even if the script doesn't fully dive into his psyche, you can see that insecurity, paranoia, and reluctance is there.

The other thing I like about this film is how it pulls the story back into bleakness by telling us that Judgment Day was just postponed. Even Arnie said it back in T2: It's in our nature to destroy ourselves. Pair that bleakness with some kick-ass action setpieces, the crane chase, the scene at the cemetery, the bathroom fight, and that ending... I think the ending succeeds in being both bleak, obviously for what it's happening, but at the same time hopeful that somehow, despite what is happening now, we already know humanity will prevail in the end.

Grade:



11 Foreign Language movies to go
Unsurprisingly, the reaction to Terminator 3 was... lukewarm, to put it mildly. Coming on the heels of an iconic sequel like T2, it was expected. But still, I've found myself loving it ever since I saw it in theaters. That is no secret for most people that know me. I've fought for the film ever since, which is why when the opportunity came to "defend" the film on a friend's podcast, I jumped at the opportunity.
Yeah, count me as one of the people who went to see Terminator 3 at the cinema and really enjoyed it, with it's comedic moments and action both delivering. I walked away fond of it, but as time went on I saw more and more people basically dismissing it completely. I think everyone sets the bar a little too high for Terminator films.
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

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I've fought for the film ever since, which is why when the opportunity came to "defend" the film on a friend's podcast, I jumped at the opportunity.
Speaking of THIS... it just got out today! This was not on my podcast, but on a friend's podcast called Review It Yourself, specifically a series called Defend It Yourself. So check it out here.

Defend It Yourself 8: T3: Rise of the Machines with Carlo from The Movie Loot

That's the Spotify link, but I assume it has to be available on Apple Podcasts as well. Hope you guys have fun with it.



Yeah, count me as one of the people who went to see Terminator 3 at the cinema and really enjoyed it, with it's comedic moments and action both delivering. I walked away fond of it, but as time went on I saw more and more people basically dismissing it completely. I think everyone sets the bar a little too high for Terminator films.
Yeah, I thought T3 was OK. Especially the humor. But I'm a Claire Danes fan so . . . and I thought Nick Stahl did a fair job portraying John Connor.



U-TURN
(2016, Kumar)
A film from India
-- recommended by Darren Lucas --



"Some questions should never be asked. You won't feel guilty for not having answers."

Tragedy can sometimes lead us down a perilous path. Whether it happens to us or to others, we sometimes embark in a quest for answers. Maybe to try to find meaning to what happened, or just out of curiosity, or sometimes to even absolve ourselves of guilt. But sometimes, answers don't necessarily bring closure, but bring more pain instead. That is the crossroad at where many of the characters in this Indian supernatural thriller find themselves.

U-Turn follows Rachana (Shraddha Srinath), a young intern at an Indian newspaper that is investigating a series of incidents at an overpass. This involves motorists moving the concrete blocks that divide the road in order to make a quick U-turn and avoid traffic. Most that do so, don't move the blocks back to their place, which in turn causes accidents. However, when one of the culprits ends up dead, Rachana finds herself in the eye of local police, forcing her to look for answers.

This is a film I really hadn't heard of before, so thanks to my friend Darren for bringing it to my attention. It is always great to explore films from other countries and cultures, especially when they are well made. U-Turn might not be perfect, but it is a competent film that manages to establish a good sense of tension, dread, and mystery through most of its run. Director and writer Pawan Kumar knows how to keep us on edge, as characters try to figure out what's happening. He also knows how to throw a couple of good scares at us. There's one "jump scare" in particular that got to me, and literally made me jump on my seat.

Most of the performances are solid. Lead actress Srinath effectively transmits her character's thirst for answers, while also paired with her fears and insecurities. Roger Narayan is pretty good as Nayak, the police officer that tries to help her in her investigation. Unfortunately, Kumar feels the need to stick hints of an unnecessary "love triangle" between Rachana, Nayak, and a co-worker of her that she has a crush on.

Despite whatever strengths the film has through most of its duration, the film's biggest weakness is its need to try to provide all the answers to its mysteries during its last act. Kumar's script stretches the mystery too long and throws one too many red herrings, and eventually succumbs to over-explaining things, which makes the end result to not feel completely satisfactory. It is still a solid supernatural thriller, but a bit more ambiguity would've worked better for the film. Like they said, you won't feel guilty for not having all the answers.

Grade:



8 MILE
(2002, Hanson)
A film with the number 8 (Eight, Eighth, etc.) in its title
-- recommended by Latin Jukebox --



"♪ F**k y'all if you doubt me
I'm a piece of f**kin' white trash, I say it proudly ♫
♫ And f**k this battle, I don't want to win, I'm outtie
Here, tell these people something they don't know about me ♪"

8 Mile follows B-Rabbit (Eminem), a blue-collar worker in Detroit trying to make a name as a rapper. Having broken up with his girlfriend, he is forced to move back with his poor mom (Kim Basinger) and young sister at a trailer park north of 8 Mile Road while trying to maintain his musical aspirations. However, this clashes with his work at a car factory while also creating tension between warring groups in the local rap scene.

I'm an Eminem fan so I've had this film on my radar for a while. Not sure why I had never seen it, but I was happy when my friend Andrés recommended it to me. Even though I had heard it was good, I was still pleasantly surprised by it, especially by Eminem's performance. His character is, for the most part, very subdued and quiet, but still shows a bottled up intensity which he lets out at certain points, for better or worse.

For an artist that is usually associated with violence and anger, it was interesting to see the restrain in his performance, as well as his willingness to portray the weaknesses in his character. Rabbit is insecure, frustrated, and stuck in a dead-end job, while also suffering numerous setbacks. He chokes in a rap battle, he's beat up, he's cheated on. But perhaps his strength lies in how he acknowledges his own weaknesses, which you can see in the verses I quoted above.

Basinger's performance was spotty. She had some solid moments, but there were others where you could see the seams. The cast is rounded up by Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, and Michael Shannon, all of which deliver solid performances. Even Anthony Mackie shows up here in his film debut. He doesn't get to do a lot, but his role is crucial for the film, and Mackie handles it pretty well.

Considering the film stars such a hard-hitting rapper like Eminem, who was known for his outbursts of anger, it's impressive that the film actually holds down his lashes, only letting off a few bursts until the final battle. It says a lot about Eminem that he's able to hold up the film only with his performance, instead of his singing. So f**k y'all if you doubted him.

Grade:



PARENTHOOD
(1989, Howard)
A film that starts with the letters O or P • A film from the 1980s
-- recommended by Best Film Ever --



"There is no end zone. You never cross the goal line, spike the ball and do your touchdown dance. Never."

That is how patriarch Frank Buckman (Jason Robards) describe parenthood. It doesn't end "when you're 18 or 21 or 41 or 61. It never, NEVER ends!", he says, which is true. I tend to go often to what one of my older brothers told me when we finally had our kids. He quoted Bill Murray in Lost in Translation when he says "Your life, as you know it, is gone... never to return", which kinda goes to the same sentiment. Once you're a parent, you'll never be the same as you were before. Your priorities and your thoughts shift and focus on those little creatures, even when they are not so little anymore, and it never ends. Which is some of what we get in this ensemble film from Ron Howard.

Parenthood mostly follows Gil Buckman (Steve Martin) as he struggles to keep it together against the woes of parenthood. But so is his whole family as we also follow his siblings: Helen (Dianne Wiest), Susan (Harley Jane Kozak), and Larry (Tom Hulce), and their respective partners and children, all of which are going through different issues and situations. When you see the poster for this film, you see a smiling Steve Martin holding two of his children by the legs, which gives a sense of this being a comedy of wacky shenanigans and crazy hijinks. That might be the reason why I wasn't that enthusiastic about it when my friend Ian, from Best Film Ever Podcast, recommended it to me. Not that I didn't want to see it, but I dismissed it thinking it would be "just a silly comedy". But the truth is that the film is so much more than that.

Directed by Ron Howard and written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, the film is inspired by their family and parenting experiences, and those of producer Brian Grazer. This makes sense because the situations that we see in the film feel real. Although giving the appearance of a silly comedy, Parenthood walks a fine line between that and drama while handling very serious adult issues; divorce, economical worries, the false expectations we put on others, teenage sex, mental conditions, parental abandonment, regrets. It is all there, along with the tedious and mundane daily routine of being a parent AND a spouse. Howard expertly balances both the dramatic and the comedic without making it sway too much into either side.

But the smart script and great direction can only get you as far as the cast does. Thankfully, all of the cast is excellent, starting with Martin. And even though it is him in the poster, Wiest gets as much "meat" as he does in the role of Helen, the recently divorced and emotionally deprived mother of two teenagers in different stages of sexual discovery. She does such a great job at showing the neurotic and emotional sides of the character, without making it feel cartoonish. Mary Steenburgen and Rick Moranis are also great as the respective spouses of Gil and Susan, while Robards steals most of the scenes he's in as the father of all three. His subplot with Larry is perhaps the one that hit me hardest in terms of how serious it gets, and how much it encapsulates what he meant in the quote above: "There is no end zone... it never ends."

This was definitely a pleasant surprise that is bound to be on my Ron Howard Top 3. It is a smartly written, neatly acted ensemble piece that knows when and how to make you laugh or make you cry. The kind of film that gets stuck in your head, to remind you that being a parent is meant to be for life; something that never, NEVER ends. And although it doesn't give us an "end zone", it does gives us enough little victories and little moments to celebrate on the way.

Grade:



PAPERMAN
(2012, Kahrs)
A film that starts with the letters O or P • A romantic film • A film with any of the words "Rock", "Paper", "Scissors" in its title
-- recommended by Defining Disney --



"When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew."

The above quote, often misattributed to Shakespeare, comes from an Italian opera called Falstaff, written by Arrigo Boito and partly inspired by a Shakespeare play. It alludes to the spontaneity of "love at first sight", and how its strength and impact is acknowledge by both persons. It is something magnetic!

Set in 1940s New York City, Paperman follows two characters experiencing just that as George (John Kahrs) and Meg (Kari Wahlgren) share that first-time connection at a chance meeting at a train station. The catalyst for this encounter is a loose piece of paper that keeps flying out of their hands, and ends up with Meg's lipstick mark on it, leaving George entranced and smitten by it.

Unfortunately, George misses Meg in the rush hour chaos as she boards the departing train. However, when he spots her again in the building across his work, he makes countless of efforts to get Meg's attention, most of which involve dozens of paper airplanes. In the words of director Kahrs, "how could a little bit of magic and fate intervene to bring them back together?"

Paperman is a fairly simple short film, but it has a lot of heart. The black and white, 2-D animation is beautiful and gives a very cutesy and classy touch to both characters. The story is not complicated, but just like the characters, you find yourself enraptured in it and invested in them ending up together, whether it is because of fate or a little bit of magic.

Grade:



JOHNNY GUITAR
(1954, Ray)
A film from Nicholas Ray
-- recommended by @ApexPredator --



"A man can lie, steal... and even kill. But as long as he hangs on to his pride, he's still a man. All a woman has to do is slip - once. And she's a tramp! Must be a great comfort to you to be a man."

Johnny Guitar follows Vienna (Joan Crawford), a tough saloon owner determined to make a stand against a posse that wants to ride her out of town. She is paired with a former gunslinger and ex-lover, Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), who has returned after years away from her.

The thing is that Vienna's cards are stacked against her, just for being a woman, which is what she's lashing at in the above rant; a world in where she's hold to different standards than men, and where her possibilities to strive and succeed are suffocated and thrown aside. Men have the comfort of few worries, while women have double, and that's ever present here.

Vienna is indeed tough, and you can see that toughness in all its glory from the very first scene. But is she tough, or is she forced to be because of the male-driven society she's been forced to live in? She's trying to live and strive in a man's world, where men are trying to decide her fate, what she's supposed to do and where she's supposed to be. But not Vienna. She has a plan and she's determined to make it work.

We can argue that the reach of that manly control can even extend to the story itself. It is called Johnny Guitar, but to me, this is Vienna's story all the way and Crawford's determined to make it work. She's just excellent in the lead role with a commanding presence and a demeanor that just demands attention. Johnny Guitar is, in a way, peripheral to her, but hey, I guess its a cooler title.

This is not a slight on Hayden's performance. He is pretty cool and laid-back, and the opening act where he arrives at Vienna's saloon as she is confronted by the rival posse is as tense as it gets, but that's entirely because of the clash between Vienna and rival Emma (Mercedes McCambridge). Unfortunately, once that passes and the film shifts focus to the relationship between Vienna and Johnny, it loses some steam... until it focuses again on Vienna towards the middle of the film.

For a genre that's usually dominated by men, it is refreshing to see a female-centric western; one that is at is best when the women take over. It might come as no surprise that Crawford was feuding in real life with McCambridge, so maybe some of that bled into the performances as well. Whether that's the case or not, I would say this is worth it just for Crawford's performance.

Grade:



I struggled with the tone of that film to a degree, but I know a few users here are big fans of the film, so I may rewatch it at some point to see if I enjoy it more.
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Another episode of The Movie Loot in the can. This time it's The Hitchcock Loot where me and writer/documentarian Tony Lee Moral talk about the Master of Suspense, while also sharing our five favorite films of his. Check it out!

The Movie Loot 67: The Hitchcock Loot (with Tony Lee Moral)

You can check it out on the above link, or on any of these podcasting platforms: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any other. Thanks for the support!



Out of curiosity, how do you get in contact with some of the people you have your podcasts with? Some of those people, while not famous per se, still have a moderate level of recognition at least. Except that MKS fellow. His fame is known all throughout the world, as we all know.



Out of curiosity, how do you get in contact with some of the people you have your podcasts with? Some of those people, while not famous per se, still have a moderate level of recognition at least. Except that MKS fellow. His fame is known all throughout the world, as we all know.

Mostly Twitter. Social media is an amazing thing. In the case of Tony, though, I think it was a combination of Twitter and the contact thingy on one of his websites.


Thinking back on the most notable guests I've had, like Dr. Richard Edwards (Noir Loot) and Nathan Abrams (Kubrick Loot), I think they've all been the same: Twitter and professional email.

EDIT: I forgot about Keram, who has been with me twice, but he has been an Internet friend for several years now. He was on 24 back in the early 2000s, first season, and I contacted him via Twitter for something 24-related, and we just hit it off.



I was thinking a bit more about this and, like I said, social media is an amazing tool. For better or worse, you can pretty much reach anyone. I managed to get quick email and phone interviews with several actors from 24 for a site I work at, Wiki 24. Most of them were pretty accessible and friendly, and I still stay in touch with a few of them.

You can see them all here.



CINEMA PARADISO
(1988, Tornatore)
A film from the 1980s • A romantic film
-- recommended by XRadioX Podcast --



"Living here day by day, you think it's the center of the world. You believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave: a year, two years. When you come back, everything's changed. The thread's broken. What you came to find isn't there. What was yours is gone."

Cinema Paradiso follows the friendship between Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), an aging projectionist at a small theater in Sicily, and Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio), an impressionable 8-year-old that finds himself mesmerized upon the world of cinema as well as Alfredo's job. Initially reluctant, the old man does end up taking the kid under his wing and teaches him the trade, which he embraces. But Alfredo's warning for him is to not get complacent in that fictitious world, but to go and make more of his life.

I've been trying to write this review for days, and I still can't find a thread to latch on to. But the more I think about it, the more I find myself in Salvatore's shoes. This was actually one of the first "foreign" films I saw when I was on my late teens and barely starting to get into films. So, much like Salvatore, I found myself amazed by the beauty of this story and the "wonder of cinema". I think I saw it a couple of times around that same time. Enough for it to get stuck in my mind, and for me to vote it at #1 in the recent Foreign Countdown.

But then I "left": a year, two years, 20 years. I just "came back" this month, and everything had changed. The beauty and wonder I felt when I was a teen wasn't exactly there, even if all the pieces were. Like adult Salvatore looking around at the same people he knew when he was a kid, everything was there, but everything's changed. The thread was broken.

Even though that may sound negative, I still think the film is remarkably well done, well acted, and with a beautiful story, but not at the same level I thought when I was younger. I found the second half, when Salvatore is younger, to be a bit more tedious than I remembered. I also realized, as the third act unfolded, that I was watching the Director's Cut, which tries to bring some closure to the relationship between Salvatore and his long-lost love, but I found that whole bit to get in the way of the story that I thought mattered. It seems that the Theatrical Cut agreed.

Still, Noiret is a delight to see, and the performance from Cascio as the young Salvatore is charmingly good. I also think that the way that Tornatore builds this "love letter" to cinema is mostly effective, and there is a good sense of closure in the character of Salvatore as the film ends. I just wish I felt a stronger connection to his adult persona, like I felt for his kid self. The ending of the film is certainly bitter-sweet, as Salvatore realizes what Alfredo had told him years before, and much like him, I found myself smiling at the memories of yesterday, even if what I came to find wasn't necessarily there.

Grade:



I revisited that for a Hall of Fame a year or so ago. I've only seen the theatrical cut, and while I like the first half quite a lot, the second half lost me since it shifted so much attention away from Salvatore's and Alfredo's friendship. Still pretty good though.



Special Episode 13 of The Movie Loot is out where I take a look at one scene from Psycho, specifically the conversation between Norman and Marion:

The Movie Loot - Special Episode XIII (Psycho)

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



ENOUGH SAID
(2013, Holofcener)
A romantic film
-- recommended by Sylvie --



"You can’t live in fear of making a mistake."

Enough Said follows Eva, a middle-aged divorced masseuse that begins a relationship with Albert (James Gandolfini), without realizing that he is the ex-husband of her new client and friend, Marianne (Catherine Keener). The thing is that Marianne has already shared some significant "inside scoops" on her ex-husband, i.e. Albert, unbeknownst to both, which Eva sees as an opportunity to find out more about his boyfriend and "protect" herself.

Eva's decision is an example of how past mistakes tend to haunt us; sometimes even paralyze us, especially regarding relationships. The constant dread of stumbling upon the same pains and struggles is enough to even make us do some crazy, unthinkable stuff, all because we don't want to suffer again.

Director and writer Nicole Holofcener does a great job of presenting both perspectives on the script, but her point of view stays on Eva most of the time, which also puts us – the audience – in the same awkward situation. But as good of a script this is, the strength lies on the performances from Dreyfous and Gandolfini. Their relationship and interactions feel so real and honest, that you can't help but root for them.

I've never seen The Sopranos (I know, I know) or Veep, and I've only seen random episodes of Seinfeld, but I've always been a fan of Gandolfini. He has such a laid-back and unassuming presence that suits this character perfectly. Meanwhile, Dreyfous succeeds in transmitting that combination of strength and vulnerability, with a bit of awkwardness that's so endearing. The cast is rounded out by Keener, who is very good at giving depth to a character that could've easily been antagonistic.

My main complaint is that the relationship between Eva and her daughter Ellen feels underserved, and the subplot with Ellen's friend serving as a surrogate daughter to Eva felt a bit forced. But it's a small blip in an otherwise delightful watch. This is the kind of film that Hollywood desperately needs to make more often. They should learn from the film and not live in fear of making a mistake. Much like Eva and Albert, they might be surprised.

Grade: