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Maria Candelaria (1944)



AKA Portrait of Maria was an early Cannes' winner and is one of the most popular movies in the history of Mexican film. I liked the story, and it's an easy watch with an affecting ending. Despite the subtitles, locale, and cast, it didn't feel much different than an American film. It was good.
That was on my possible choice list for the upcoming PRIII. I can't remember who I considered it for, maybe it would be a good choice for me?



I'm curious as to whether or not you've seen the Hitchcock that immediately preceded this, The Man Who Knew Too Much. I watched the 1956 remake with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day but from what I've read the '34 version is considered Hitchcock's first big success. It might also be a more fitting example of what was to come. Plus it's got Peter Lorre in it. I don't know if I should make a point of checking it out.
You didn't ask me, but yes you should check it out.



That was on my possible choice list for the upcoming PRIII. I can't remember who I considered it for, maybe it would be a good choice for me?
You haven't seen it though? Maybe you considered it for Siddon since he doesn't have many not crossed off? It was good but I didn't think much more than that.







United States vs Billie Holiday (2020)


Sometimes a great performance can't get past a mess of a film and Lee Daniels is a man who just missed the point. Andra Day gives a starmaking and Oscar worthy performance as Billie Holiday who the government is pressuring her to not sing her song Strange Fruit. The film is just a complete mess of a narrative. Holiday's sexuality is at times treated like a focal point and then brushed aside the next minute. Her drug addiction is what ends up killing her yet once again doesn't really get the focus of the story until the plot needs it. The racism is sadly cartoonish which might have worked in other years but this is the year of subtlety.


The FBI Agent at the center of the story should be the lead but his character arc is cut and pasted throughout the film. You actually feel like chunks of the story are missing. The sad thing is had they just focused on Holiday's sexuality I think this could have been a very good movie...but Daniels missed the boat







The 39 Steps - This 1934 Alfred Hitchcock is his 22nd film but it's still the earliest work from him that I've seen. It stars Robert Donat as Canadian citizen Richard Hannay in a role that eventually became a Hitchcock trademark. That of a wrongly accused man forced to go on the run in order to prove his innocence. He's been implicated in a murder and eventually ends up handcuffed to Pamela (Madeleine Carroll). The mismatched couple go through the usual hostilities which eventually turns to something else. This film paved the way for and influenced so many other thrillers that they would probably be impossible to list. The story also employs a lot of British and Scottish locales which are put to good use by the director. Watch this if you're keen on seeing the Hitchcock everyone is familiar with right near the start of his ascendance.

This one didn't impress me on a first watch, but improved greatly on a second. It's an extremely fun film.
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Good movie, but rambling. Did not need to be 2-1/2 hours long.
I didn't mind the length on this. It's my favorite Mann film.





Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)


Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is perfect. Yeah I just wanted to start off with that one line. But yeah this one is pretty great...watching all of these black films during a week everything becomes very repetitive and predictable. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was not what I expected from it. The racism is handled far better here than in other films because you get the complexity's of power of the characters. Davis is in charge she's the DIVA, she's the Star but she doesn't really have the power and she's not really the story.


The story really is about three men in a band and how they are survivors. The chemistry between the young(but not that young) Boseman, the accommodating Domingo and the wise Toledo offers a look into the complexity of three african men who are in the basement so to speak but are far more interesting and complicated than the big star. Boseman is going to win an Oscar he just has so much manic energy where he bounces from self destruction to pity it's nuanced and incredible.


But what I really loved about this film...was the pacing. This movie is 94 minutes and it flies by...no padding whatsoever. It feels staged like a play but it works so well and it's a shame that the Academy doesn't recognize this style of filmmaking more because I think it's very strong.







Soul (2020)


Life is meaningless and you should give up your dreams. I haven't watched the Car's movies and I liked The Good Dinosaur but this was bottom of the barrel for Pixar. I mean this feels like a film that didn't need to be Pixar'd and the message is pretty horrible. I don't even know who this film is for. This is the film that made me actually dislike cats...






[Dead Reckoning] You didn't rate the film and I was curious as to how you would rate it, it's hard to tell from the review.
I really enjoyed the film several times, but I could only give it 6/10.






One Night in Miami (2020)


Regina King's directorial debut gave me some Casavettes vibes. Taking four famous friends and giving them an evening to just act and perform we the audience are allowed to go deeper into race relations. This is a wonderful pallet cleanser after the shallowness of the other racial films this year. One Night in Miami takes four exceptional men and breaks them down...without actually breaking any of them down. But not only that but King goes deep into the characters...we see Ali's youth, Brown's wisdom, Cooke's class, and Malcolm X's softer side. It's so much more interesting to see a different take on the familiar. King really wants to let you know these characters as people and the struggles they are going through. The film has it's flaws...it drags a bit in the beginning and the location changes feel tacked on but needed.





I'll kill anyone who get's in the way of me killin



In This Corner of the World (2016)
++ I had first caught an interest in this film when @Guaporense had it as a 1 pointer in the recent Top 100 of All-Time Refresh: Countdown. Putting it on my Watchlist in @Jabs' 2021 Film Challenge. So I must thank Guap for introducing me to this heartfelt, endearing slice of life, bit of cinema.

Set during World War II in in a rural area near Hiroshima, Japan, we get to know Suzu, a young girl who loves to draw, get married to a boy she barely knows and the everyday life of becoming a housewife. A rather warm and beautiful tale that drew me in by the simple storyline and the family she marries into that caused me to smile, chuckle and fall in love with them all. And at times, especially at the end, cry. And I must add they were joyful tears at those surviving and continuing forward in the ashes of the aftermath.

A truly beautiful, life-affirming film that I am thankful to have watched and will be, again, in the future.
Again, thank you gaup.
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I'm curious as to whether or not you've seen the Hitchcock that immediately preceded this, The Man Who Knew Too Much. I watched the 1956 remake with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day but from what I've read the '34 version is considered Hitchcock's first big success. It might also be a more fitting example of what was to come. Plus it's got Peter Lorre in it. I don't know if I should make a point of checking it out.
Oh, yes. I think you'd really like the '34 version, although the '56 version is much more suspenseful. Reportedly the '34 version was not that well received in Britain, whereas it was very popular in the U.S. Hitch wanted to use Peter Lorre because he'd just starred in M.

Comparing the two films, Hitchcock made his rather famous statement, "Let's say that the first version is the work of a talented amateur, and the second was made by a professional."



I'll kill anyone who get's in the way of me killin


Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)


Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is perfect. Yeah I just wanted to start off with that one line. But yeah this one is pretty great...watching all of these black films during a week everything becomes very repetitive and predictable. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was not what I expected from it. The racism is handled far better here than in other films because you get the complexity's of power of the characters. Davis is in charge she's the DIVA, she's the Star but she doesn't really have the power and she's not really the story.


The story really is about three men in a band and how they are survivors. The chemistry between the young(but not that young) Boseman, the accommodating Domingo and the wise Toledo offers a look into the complexity of three african men who are in the basement so to speak but are far more interesting and complicated than the big star. Boseman is going to win an Oscar he just has so much manic energy where he bounces from self destruction to pity it's nuanced and incredible.


But what I really loved about this film...was the pacing. This movie is 94 minutes and it flies by...no padding whatsoever. It feels staged like a play but it works so well and it's a shame that the Academy doesn't recognize this style of filmmaking more because I think it's very strong.


I had previously seen the trailer to this and was very intrigued by it. And now, ya done sold me on Ma Rainey's perfect Black Bottom.



Yonkers Joe (2008)


I'll give time to anything casino-related, so my rating is likely higher on this one than the average moviegoer's will be. The intensity and feel of gambling is definitely present in this one, and the plot and direction of the movie overall is commendable as well. The darker scenes involving Joe Jr (Smalls from Sandlot!) and his father were a bit hard to watch as a parent myself, but the movie halfheartedly tries to mend that relationship by the end.

Stay tuned since I'm on a casino kick mentally right now...gonna try and watch a couple more in the next few days



I'm curious as to whether or not you've seen the Hitchcock that immediately preceded this, The Man Who Knew Too Much. I watched the 1956 remake with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day but from what I've read the '34 version is considered Hitchcock's first big success. It might also be a more fitting example of what was to come. Plus it's got Peter Lorre in it. I don't know if I should make a point of checking it out.
I have, but to be very honest I remember almost nothing about it as it was over 15 years ago. I watched it in very close proximity to the '56 version and they sort of muddle in my mind.





To Your Last Death, 2019

Miriam (Dani Lennon) is one of several children of a sadistic weapons manufacturer named Cyrus DeKalb (Ray Wise). When Cyrus calls his children together, things go horribly wrong and Miriam finds herself in the hospital suspected of serious violence. A mysterious figure, known only as the Gamemaster (Morena Baccarin), appears to Miriam, she offers her the chance to go back in time to save her family. Miriam agrees, but she does not realize that the creatures watching her life are more interested in entertainment than justice.

There are some interesting ideas in this one. I tend to enjoy time travel films, and I like the idea of the time travel being controlled by characters outside of the central narrative. There's also a lot of potential in the idea that the objective of the beings controlling the time travel just want as much blood and guts as possible.

However. The execution here leaves a lot to be desired.

First and foremost, the look of the animation has a lot of problems. All of the female characters look like they were traced from ads for blow-up dolls, complete with open O-mouths of surprise every time someone says . . . well, almost anything. It literally looks like someone drew porn-y naked women, the painted clothing over them. Every female character has the same build. The animation is not smooth, and it mostly makes me think of cheap morning cartoons (not in a good way). Some of the design choices are strange, such as blood spatter that looks more like one of the characters has a red colored beard.

The story itself really flounders, and especially the longer the film goes on. None of the characters are particularly interesting, including the villainous Cyrus. Cyrus hates his children and decides to kill them all with elaborate traps. But the traps feel like something a child would come up with after an older child described the movie Saw to them. In one part, a man must answer elementary level math questions to avoid being choked by a machine . . . designed to choke someone getting questions wrong on an iPad? The film seems to aim for dark comedy, but the humor skews juvenile which means that it contrasts negatively with the darker moments, like Miriam's sister talking about being in a sexually violent marriage which she copes with via drugs and cutting herself. Ha ha?

There were a few moments of bleak humor that did make me smile, but they were too few and far between. Part of the problem is that the characters are not particularly likable. Cyrus is over-the-top horrible, but his kids are pretty awful in their own right. The less said about the evil henchmen (one of whom comes complete with an accent so thick you might think he came over from a very bleak iteration of Rocky and Bullwinkle), the better. And the time-travel gimmick begins to backfire a bit in the second half, as the mysterious beings begin to reset the timeline each time it resolves in a way that isn't thrilling enough. It becomes hard to care about what is happening on screen because it becomes pretty likely that the timeline will just reset.

Some fun ideas, but a very lackluster execution.




is thouroughly embarrassed of this old username.
Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (Kelly Makin, 1996)
Much like the show (or any sketch comedy for that matter) it has a few good bits but is otherwise trash. Some surprisingly cool camerawork at points though.
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