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Watership Down - I never read Richard Adams' book and given the subject matter I wasn't sure how much of this 1978 adaptation I'd be able to get through. But it surprised me and I ended up getting into it. I liked it's earnest nature. No cutesy Disney anthropomorphism here. It comes at you from a contemplative space and expects a like minded regard in return.

After a brief prologue in which the mythological origins of their species are laid out the film opens with two rabbit brothers Hazel and Fiver. The younger Fiver is an oracle of sorts, blessed and cursed with the ability to foresee coming events. He has had visions of an approaching apocalypse that threatens the existence of their Sandleford warren. He and Hazel seek and are granted an audience with their chieftain and strongly advise him to order an evacuation. They're summarily dismissed and the Chief orders the head of his Owsla police force Captain Holly to shadow them and make sure they don't make trouble. The two brothers quickly attract enough believers to attempt their escape.

The film is a relatively short 90 minutes and moves quickly from one perilous adventure to the next. From predatory hawks, cats and dogs to deadly snares the group encounters all manner of threats. They also meet up with a wayward seagull that helps them out of numerous tight spots. Hazel realizes that without does there is no future for their newly established warren. Their sidequest to recruit these much needed females brings them into contact with a larger and more dangerous warren led by the warlike General Woundwort. The film doesn't shy away from depicting the often cruel and bloody nature of these conflicts. I liked how it was presented so matter of factly. A simple reminder that, despite these creatures being self aware and capable of rational thought, this is the animal kingdom after all.

Haven't checked out the 2018 mini-series that's currently on Netflix. It has a surplus of recognizable British voice talent though. For now this was more than enough. Made me want to read Adams' novel too.

85/100

This is often cited as the most hard core cartoon, but those who say so typically haven't seen The Plague Dogs which would inspire a track by Skinny Puppy.



JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass

This just came out. Available via Prime (free trial) or directly through Showtime.

I would watch "The Jim Garrison Tapes" first, which is available thanks to the producer John Barbour (linked below)
Caught up with this the other night. Oliver Stone has produced a first rate documentary in 2021 about the facts in the JFK assassination, mostly material that big media have steadfastly ignored for years, and continue to do so.

Oliver Stone stuck to the chief revelations: That the assassin was not a "lone nut"; that there was a major conspiracy; that the CIA was heavily involved; and that Lee Harvey Oswald had not fired a shot that day.

His reliance on the buried evidence from the medical personnel who attended JFK, along with pragmatic and compelling testimony by some of the nation's highest forensic medical examiners should be a revelation to any viewer.

Even if one only learns that the JFK Assassination Records Review Board, created by Congress, stated that there had to be an additional gunman, there's the proof that there was a conspiracy.

I was 19 years old when Kennedy was brutally assassinated in Dallas on 11/22/63. The entire country was deeply and fearfully shocked. But then there were only 3 TV channels and newspapers from which to get information. The authorities were able to contain the information and feed whatever they liked to the public, and that was all we knew. The infamous Zapruder film was not shown to the public until 1975, with some frames missing or altered.

Despite the order of release of all JFK assassination documents by presidents and Congress, it is very likely that we'll never know the whole truth about the conspiracy to murder JFK. The CIA will never release certain of their records, and it's likely that many pertinent records have been destroyed.

One has to do a lot of digging, and reading of some of the many books on the subject to understand what really likely happened, and to understand the depth and breadth of it. Oliver Stone's excellent documentary will be a good reference work to add to that enormous amount of material.



Feeling artsy tonight, so it was C'mon C'mon, written and directed by Mike Mills. It stars Joachin Phoenix and Woody Norman (the kid). So, a somewhat edgy mom calls her brother (Phoenix) and asks him to take her son (Mills) for a while because the stresses of dealing with a schizophrenic husband while parenting are not working well. The brother is making some sort of documentary interview movie but it's sporadic work, so he takes temporary responsibility for her son. They travel around, mainly Oakland, LA, New York and New Orleans. The guy also bonds with the kid and they have lots of discussions that are about as weighty as you can have with a 9 year old. Then the mom calls and the guy takes the kid home. That's about it for action. It does have more action than My Dinner With Andre, or at least more locations.

Given that it's quiet, contemplative and shot in very static, close up monochrome, with sketchy sound quality, you know that it's Art, with a capital A. The classical music soundtrack also helps.

Now, I am amenable to movies like this and even thought that, as a discussion of life, it was done pretty well. Fortunately, the kid and his uncle come to no harm and, at the end, he goes home while the uncle goes back to making his documentary film.

I don't know whether to recommend this to anybody, unless you're looking for the next Dinner with Andre. I would have like it more if it had been shot in color and if the sound quality were better. I've seen viewer ratings all over, from 1 to 10 and IMDB is showing it as an 8, but, if you're thinking about seeing it, be forewarned. It's probably better if you know what it is and purposely signed on for that.






Caught up with this the other night. Oliver Stone has produced a first rate documentary in 2021 about the facts in the JFK assassination, mostly material that big media have steadfastly ignored for years, and continue to do so.
Despite the order of release of all JFK assassination documents by presidents and Congress, it is very likely that we'll never know the whole truth about the conspiracy to murder JFK. The CIA will never release certain of their records, and it's likely that many pertinent records have been destroyed.....

One has to do a lot of digging, and reading of some of the many books on the subject to understand what really likely happened, and to understand the depth and breadth of it. Oliver Stone's excellent documentary will be a good reference work to add to that enormous amount of material.
Having partaken of a bunch of those assassinology books, I can only think that Stone, on the one hand, has drunk the Koolaid, but on the other knows how he makes a living. One thing is certain is that either we will never know or that we already know but don't believe it. Personally, I choose the latter rather than the former.

I do wish that I could move these flicks into the X Files bin.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Leadbelly (Gordon Parks, 1976)
6.5/10
Black Friday (Casey Tebo, 2021)
5/10
Kim (Victor Saville, 1950)
- 6.5/10
To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)
7+/10

Everybody's favorite Warsaw actress (Carole Lombard) and its biggest ham (Jack Benny) help save 1939 Poland [a bit] from NazI attrition.
Bruised (Halle Berry, 2020)
5.5/10
The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
7/10
The Trouble with Being Born (Sandra Wollner, 2020)
5.5/10
A Boy Called Christmas (Gil Kenan, 2021)
- 6.5/10

Young Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) searches for the legendary village of Elfhelm and comes across a magical reindeer in the process.
No Nukes (3 Directors, 1980)
6.5/10
Zebra in the Kitchen (Ivan Tors, 1965)
5.5/10
That Uncertain Feeling (Ernst Lubitsch, 1941)
6.5/10
Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, 2021)
7/10

When she moves to London, fashion design student Thomasin McKenzie magically transports back to the '60s at night where she encounters all kinds of strangeness in this giallo homage.
Spencer (Pablo Larraín, 2021)
+ 6/10
The Witches of the Orient (Julien Faraut, 2021)
6.5/10
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Andy Serkis, 2021)
6/10
8-Bit Christmas (Michael Dowse, 2021)
- 6.5/10

Neil Patrick Harris reminisces about how one Christmas in the '80s when he was a kid (Winslow Fegley), he really wanted a Nintendo and since bis dad (Steve Zahn) didn't seem to care, he would do anything to get one.
The Courtship of Eddie's Father (Vincente Minnelli, 1963)
6.5/10
Love Me Instead (Mehmet Ada Öztekin, 2021)
6/10
Design for Living (Ernst Lubitsch, 1933)
6.5/10
The Humans (Stephen Karam, 2021)
6/10

A love it/hate it film where Dad Richard Jenkins and Mom Jayne Houdyshell have Thanksgiving dinner with the family at their daughter's Manhattan apartment and family secrets are slowly revealed. Quasi horror film is dark and noisy when it isn't being inaudible.
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Stories We Tell - (2012)

And so last night I watched this, which has Sarah Polley interview every member of her family about her late mother, and her mother's relationship with her father. This eventually gets around to Sarah's birth, and the fact she was teased about being fathered by somebody else since she looked kind of different. Turns out she was fathered by someone else, and the film takes a sharp turn as thing become mysterious and finally about how many different 'truths' there are out there and how everyone sees truth through their own narrow vision. It's poignant, especially in relation to Sarah's mother who really is the missing voice amongst all of this - and the voice that could have provided the clearest picture to everything. Downcast a little also is Michael Polley, who discovers Sarah isn't his biological daughter - despite telling us it didn't matter to him, you can hear a sadness in his voice. Michael narrates a lot of this - as he's written about the whole story extensively. Sarah's biological father, meanwhile, seems to want to make the whole film about him. A moving documentary.

7.5/10
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Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, 2021)
7/10

When she moves to London, fashion design student Anya Taylor-Joy magically transports back to the '60s at night where she encounters all kinds of strangeness in this giallo homage.
Actually, the student is Thomasin McKenzie but glad you liked it. My favorite film of this year.
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Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings (2021, Destin Daniel Cretton)

That bus scene early on was kinda promising but unfortunately it went downhill after that. Some good action scenes but beyond that, a huge letdown.




Cornered (1945)

Starring
Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, Micheline Cheirel
Directed by:
Edward Dymytryk; Screenplay by John Paxton & Ben Hecht; story by John Wexley

This is Powell’s second and final film with Dymytryk, and second noir outing following his metamorphosis from a song & dance man to tough guy shamus in Murder My Sweet (1944). Here he plays an unrelenting hard boiled former WWII P.O.W. who is determined to find and exact revenge upon the man who was responsible for the killing of his French wife during their short lived wartime marriage.

Set first in France, then Buenos Aires, Powell is set hot on the track of a “Madame Jarac” who is thought to be complicit in the wife’s murder. In Argentina, Powell is approached by Slezac, who seemingly has knowledge of Jarnac and the conspiracy, and who offers his suspicious help. From that point until a resolution of the story that we might expect, things become more complex and confusing. But in the end things turn out to most everyone’s satisfaction.

Powell’s role is rather a double-down of his still new tough guy image. Throughout the film Powell is relentless and surly to the point of monomania in his quest for lethal satisfaction. He never waivers, never shifts mood, which is a mild detraction to his performance. Along the way he meets some shady characters played by Steven Geray, and Jack La Rue, both reliable shifty bad guys.

This is a slightly unusual classic noir, being set outside of the U.S. But it holds one’s interest, and despite the confusing plot, it’s buoyed by good acting and direction. Available on YouTube.

Doc's rating: 7/10





The Humans - This was directed by Tony Karam and adapted from his 2016 Tony award winner for best play. I prefer researching a film before watching but this was one of the few movies I went into cold. I did watch the trailer though and was immediately sold by the impressive cast. I'll watch anything with Richard Jenkins and loved Beanie Feldstein in Booksmart. I'm a long time fan of The Walking Dead so I take notice of anything Steven Yeun is in and June Squibb's performances in About Schmidt and Nebraska stuck in my head. But it was Amy Schumer's part in the trailer that sealed the deal. I wasn't expecting that from her. There's a grand total of six actors in the entire film and the only unknown was Jayne Houdyshell. But she turns in a solid performance plus she also won a Best Featured Actress Tony for the same role.

The film opens with Erik (Jenkins) and Deirdre (Houdyshell) Blake showing up at their daughter Brigid (Feldstein) and boyfriend Richard's (Yeun) dilapidated Manhattan Chinatown apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. They bring along Richard's mother Fiona (Squibb), whom the family calls "Momo". She's confined to a wheelchair and is suffering from dementia. Also at the dinner is their other adult daughter Aimee (Schumer). Most oftentimes it's easy to spot a stage adaptation because of how difficult it is to escape the requisite verbosity and static construct. But this wasn't the case here. The dialogue rings natural and sounds like you're eavesdropping on an average American family gathering. Karam does provide plenty of glimpses of something not being right. Of an impending calamity or at the very least an omnipresent sense of unease. When it finally arrives it's both enormous and strangely intimate. And I think that's due to both the talented cast and Karam's directorial debut.

Jenkins just keeps turning in one quality performance after another. Houdyshell will, at the very least, earn a nomination or two and Feldstein is also great. Schumer is yet another comedic talent with a hidden reserve of dramatic chops. And it's good to see Yeun landing all these meaningful roles after getting such a crappy sendoff from The Walking Dead.

I saw Mark F. mention how the sound and visuals were confusing and muddy and a reviewer on IMDb mentioned the exact same thing. I watched it with subtitles and still had to go back a few times. But I think the added effort ultimately paid off. It's true there aren't a lot of "big moments" in this but if you're in the mood for some family oriented stagecraft from a comprehensively talented cast then you should check this out.

80/100



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The Humans - This was directed by Tony Karam and adapted from his 2016 Tony award winner for best play. I prefer researching a film before watching but this was one of the few movies I went into cold. I did watch the trailer though and was immediately sold by the impressive cast. I'll watch anything with Richard Jenkins and loved Beanie Feldstein in Booksmart. I'm a long time fan of The Walking Dead so I take notice of anything Steven Yeun is in and June Squibb's performances in About Schmidt and Nebraska stuck in my head. But it was Amy Schumer's part in the trailer that sealed the deal. I wasn't expecting that from her. There's a grand total of six actors in the entire film and the only unknown was Jayne Houdyshell. But she turns in a solid performance plus she also won a Best Featured Actress Tony for the same role.

The film opens with Erik (Jenkins) and Deirdre (Houdyshell) Blake showing up at their daughter Brigid (Feldstein) and boyfriend Richard's (Yeun) dilapidated Manhattan Chinatown apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. They bring along Richard's mother Fiona (Squibb), whom the family calls "Momo". She's confined to a wheelchair and is suffering from dementia. Also at the dinner is their other adult daughter Aimee (Schumer). Most oftentimes it's easy to spot a stage adaptation because of how difficult it is to escape the requisite verbosity and static construct. But this wasn't the case here. The dialogue rings natural and sounds like you're eavesdropping on an average American family gathering. Karam does provide plenty of glimpses of something not being right. Of an impending calamity or at the very least an omnipresent sense of unease. When it finally arrives it's both enormous and strangely intimate. And I think that's due to both the talented cast and Karam's directorial debut.

Jenkins just keeps turning in one quality performance after another. Houdyshell will, at the very least, earn a nomination or two and Feldstein is also great. Schumer is yet another comedic talent with a hidden reserve of dramatic chops. And it's good to see Yeun landing all these meaningful roles after getting such a crappy sendoff from The Walking Dead.

I saw Mark F. mention how the sound and visuals were confusing and muddy and a reviewer on IMDb mentioned the exact same thing. I watched it with subtitles and still had to go back a few times. But I think the added effort ultimately paid off. It's true there aren't a lot of "big moments" in this but if you're in the mood for some family oriented stagecraft from a comprehensively talented cast then you should check this out.

80/100

Just saw it. The dialogue rings true. I'd guess the writer was cribbing heavily from real life as it just rang a little too true (that sort of suspicion is a compliment to the dialogue). As a "slice of life" it was very convincing. That stated, I was waiting for some supernatural element to kick in (especially with "Momo") or for there to be a big catharsis or punchline or something. But there isn't.



WARNING: "If you haven't seen the film, you probably won't anyway, so... ..what have you got to lose?" spoilers below
It is not until the end of the film that it is revealed that we're basically in the anxiety/fear/shame of the patriarch of the family.



Mrs. Corax says, "The only movie Amy Schumer doesn't suck in." And I must admit, she carries her load as well as the rest of the cast.



I guess the cathartic moment is when



WARNING: "Maybe don't click this one..." spoilers below
after the darkness closes in on him and he feels abandoned that one of his daughter returns to pull him out of his little meltdown. A spark of light in the desperation. His family will stay with him after all -- it's not the end of world.




At any rate, the big moment didn't really land with me, but that's probably because I am a savage who watches too many fantastical films where evil portents have evil payoffs. For a moment I was thinking, "Whoa this is the greatest slow burn for a horror movie ever." Instead, it's the horror of the real, I suppose. Alas, all that weird music and crawling along the walls and strange figures outside had me expecting to go through the looking glass, which in a way I suppose we do.



I rewatched Big Fish and Lost in Translation for the 2000's countdown. 2 movies I hadn't seen in a long time and that I remember loving.

I still loved Lost in Translation, maybe even more. It's a movie about mood, ambiance not about the plot and it works perfectly. I understood the characters, their motivations, the feelings they felt and I was moved by the fact that their mutual presence in their life for this short amount of time made their respective life more pleasant.

Big Fish was alright, but nothing to write home about. It's toonish, it's a fairy tale. Maybe I'm a grumpy 25 year old man now, but I didn't feel the magic. The life of the father seemed improbable and not that interesting to me.
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UNDER THE SKIN
(2013, Glazer)
A film with a title that starts with the letters U or V



"Do you want to look at me?"

Under the Skin follows an unnamed female character (Scarlett Johansson) as she prowls around the streets of Scotland, looking for men. Why? We don't know, but we can see it's not necessarily for good. In the process, there's a significant amount of sensorial experience as we see her scan her surroundings for potential prey like a Terminator.

When I tweeted that I was watching this, @ThatDarnMKS described the film as "a sensory masterpiece", and I think that's an extremely accurate way to put it. Just like the characters' senses are fed through what they see, listen, and feel, we — as the audience — are fed through Glazer's sometimes cold, sometimes bizarre visuals, as well as the masterful work of everyone at the sound department.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
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[center]UNDER THE SKIN

When I tweeted that I was watching this, @ThatDarnMKS described the film as "a sensory masterpiece", and I think that's an extremely accurate way to put it. Just like the characters' senses are fed through what they see, listen, and feel, we — as the audience — are fed through Glazer's sometimes cold, sometimes bizarre visuals, as well as the masterful work of everyone at the sound department.
I like this movie quite a lot, and I think that the extended sequence on the beach is its own masterpiece.

I do think that the film kind of fumbles the ending. It just seemed to get . . . .messy. And while I appreciate that it sort of matches the main character unraveling a bit, parts of it still felt too on-the-nose for me.

Still, very worth watching and I think that the first 3/4 or so are excellent. The scenes in the
WARNING: spoilers below
"other space" make me think of some of my favorite parts of Phantasm



I like this movie quite a lot, and I think that the extended sequence on the beach is its own masterpiece.

I do think that the film kind of fumbles the ending. It just seemed to get . . . .messy. And while I appreciate that it sort of matches the main character unraveling a bit, parts of it still felt too on-the-nose for me.

Still, very worth watching and I think that the first 3/4 or so are excellent. The scenes in the
WARNING: spoilers below
"other space" make me think of some of my favorite parts of Phantasm
Like I just told Speling on my own thread, I feel like I can give it the extra bump and take it to 4.5, but I kinda feel like watching it again soon. Take from that what you may, but that's usually a good/great sign with me.

As for the sequence at the beach, I had a particularly strong reaction to that. I literally started to cry a lot. Really strong scene indeed.

I think the apparent "messiness" of the ending is very much intentional.

WARNING: spoilers below

Main character is desperate and no longer in control; she's being pursued while her own notion and idea of the world and humanity has been kinda shaken in two opposite directions. First, by her encounter with the guy that receives her in his home, and then by this worker at the forest. I wrote something about her ultimate fate on my own thread, which is me trying to rationalize the symbolisms of what happens.


Overall, I dug it.

As for the scenes you mention, that and other scenes kinda reminded me of Panos Cosmatos' Beyond the Black Rainbow.



The Humans - This was directed by Tony Karam and adapted from his 2016 Tony award winner for best play. I prefer researching a film before watching but this was one of the few movies I went into cold. I did watch the trailer though and was immediately sold by the impressive cast. I'll watch anything with Richard Jenkins and loved Beanie Feldstein in Booksmart. I'm a long time fan of The Walking Dead so I take notice of anything Steven Yeun is in and June Squibb's performances in About Schmidt and Nebraska stuck in my head. But it was Amy Schumer's part in the trailer that sealed the deal. I wasn't expecting that from her. There's a grand total of six actors in the entire film and the only unknown was Jayne Houdyshell. But she turns in a solid performance plus she also won a Best Featured Actress Tony for the same role.
...
I couldn't agree with you more about the great Richard Jenkins. I feel that he's one of the most convincing character actors who is working today.