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Didnít watch as many movies this weekend as I would have liked, although I did get some good TV in (I finally finished watching Peacemaker and made some good headway on some other shows).

The Sound of Music (1965) ó Iím not usually a fan of sentimental Studio Era musicals, but Iíve always liked this one a lot. It has a great cast, the songs are all solid, itís much more narratively arresting than these things usually are and they pepper a few standout moments throughout the proceedings for good measure (my personal favorite being when Christopher Plummer rips the Nazi flag in half). No major complaints here.


Airplane (1980) ó This gag-a-minute, ďthrow everything at the wall and see what sticksĒ style of comedy isnít my preferred brand, but the gags nearly always land and it really is a very funny movie on the whole: far better than any of its imitators over the years.


A Chorus Line (1985) ó As a kid, I always caught snippets of this movieís ending that shared a tape with what I actually wanted to watch (same with Top Gun), although it wasnít until college that I saw the movie in full. Solidly shot and a lot better than I initially thought it would be, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this one.


Dick Tracy (1990) ó I donít know if I hate or love this movie, honestly. Grotesque character designs mixed with gorgeous set designs and beautiful cinematography spent on howlingly over-the-top performances, mostly I was just kind of bored by a story that basically played out like a PG-rated Untouchables. And I say this as somebody who loved a lot of the post-Batman retro throwbacks (The Shadow, The Rocketeer and even The Phantom were hallmarks of my childhood). Iím tempted to rate it lower, but even the bad choices were kind of fascinating to watch play out.


Toy Story (1995) ó Although time has not been kind to early 3D animation, the decision to focus on stiff, plasticky toy characters really is a lifesaver when coming back to it. A bit rough around some of the edges, including some truly nightmarish human character designs tucked away in the backgrounds, the screenplay is honed to a razorís edge and the cast plays off one another perfectly.


Doom (2005) ó A fun-but-terrible action-horror-sci-fi movie starring the Rock before they nailed down his winning on-screen persona and featuring some really shakey craftsmanship throughout. Thereís some inventive FPS business, but not much worth coming back to in this poor manís Resident Evil / Event Horizon mashup.


Friday the 13th (2009) ó Pound for pound, this greatest-hits styled mashup of the first four movies of the franchise is probably my favorite. It has the climax of the first movie followed by a lean remake of the second movie all before the opening title card (nearly a full half hour into the film). Itís a bit more scattershot after than absolute killer opening sequence (with a group of fun-but-shallow protagonists to follow around in earnest), but nevertheless presents the best that the larger franchise has to offer distilled down into a single movie.


Dracula Untold (2014) ó A bland Dracula origin story that imagines its central character as a medieval superhero rather than a tyrant or a monster. Filled with setups to an aborted franchise that will never pay off on them, possessed with a few interesting twists on the movie vampire that are nevertheless drowned in a sea of iniquities, this is an easy one to skip.


Allied (2016) ó Ever since stumbling on Romancing the Stone (which I didnít know he made until after the fact), Iíve been polishing off the last few Robert Zemeckis movies Iíve still yet to see. Although beautiful to look at, meticulously cast and telling a truly intriguing story of love and possible double crosses, I found the filmmaking coldly detached. Fun, certainly, but hardly essential viewing.


Fahrenheit 451 (2018) ó Michael B. Jordan was inspired casting for the lead in this literary adaptation (he gave some life to a character that I always felt rather bored by) and I always love Michael Shanonís off-putting / uneasy screen presence (even if, like here, it is rarely used effectively). The updates to the original text (inclusion of more recent books, commentary on the internet and Alexas, etcÖ) were welcome, but this movie takes some truly insane narrative swings that do not work in the slightest, almost as if the filmmakers were desperate to find some way to spice up this well-worn story. In its current form, it played out more like an imitation of Equilibrium than it did an adaptation of Fahrenheit 451.


Welcome to Marwen (2018) ó Every creative decision made in service to this movie is the most viscerally off-putting thing imaginable. Ugly, uncomfortable, unbelievable, unfortunate.


Encanto (2021) ó I watched it again because my kid loves it, but Iíd be lying if I didnít admit that itís one of my hands down favorite movies from last year (and with every rewatch is inching closer to dethroning Beauty & the Beast as my favorite animated Disney movie ever). So while I normally am not much of a rewatcher (at least when left to my druthers), Iím always happy to watch this one again.



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Shoeshine, 1946

Giuseppe (Rinaldo Smordoni) and Pasquale (Franco Interlenghi) are young friends who both come from an impoverished background. Together they have worked to save up money to buy a horse to share. When Giuseppe's older brother ropes them into a robbery, the two boys end up in a juvenile detention facility. While they pledge silence and solidarity in the face of the investigation into the robbery, the internal politics of the facility and the pressure of the investigation begins to fracture their loyalty to one another.

This is one of those Italian neorealist films that is bleak as all get-out, and yet utterly compelling until the last frame.

The two young actors at the center of the film give very strong performances, especially Interlenghi as the more sensitive Pasquale. Both boys want to be the strong silent type, and yet you can see how the different pressures weigh on them. In one particularly brutal moment, Pasquale is led to believe that Giuseppe is being badly beaten and must wrestle with whether or not to tell the police what he knows about the robbery.

And while the focus of the film is on the boys and their story, it also provides a pretty condemning look at the institutions and systems that repeatedly fail them. The men who run the juvenile facility aren't evil, but they are manipulative and it's pretty clear that the wellbeing of the boys is not their chief goal. When you consider the vulnerability of the boys in their care---the lack of resources in their families, or even the lack of a family at all--it becomes extra fraught.

All through the film the white horse--a beautiful animal purchased by the boys after the robbery--serves as a none-too-subtle image of hope. It is only fitting that the haunting final moments return the boys back to the presence of the horse.

A somber film, but a very good one.


Glad you saw this... Is this the first De Sica movie you have seen? I highly recommend "Umberto D"



Glad you saw this... Is this the first De Sica movie you have seen? I highly recommend "Umberto D"
I've seen Bicycle Thieves, Yesterday Today and Tomorrow, The Children are Watching Us, and his entry in The Witches.

I'm slowly getting around to his work. While I do love, on one level, the neorealist style, probably about 85% of my movie watching is for escapist purposes.

Umberto D has been on my watchlist for ages.



28th Hall of Fame

Rams (2015) -


I can understand this film being too slow for some people, but I really enjoyed its story. I found Gummi's and Kiddi's disdain towards each other tragic since, from what we saw in the film, their behavior made both their lives more complicated. Kiddi had two instances of nearly freezing to death due to his alcoholism and Gummi played a part in saving him both times. Meanwhile, Gummi's jealousy of Kiddi's success at the start of the film led to an act which caused most of the conflict in the film. It was clear they both needed each other since their behavior was bad for both of them. A similarity between the two of them though was that they both cared deeply for their rams, so it wasn't until a threat came to their herd that they were forced to cooperate. Some people may take issue with how a couple details are left open at the end, but I didn't mind that since it prevented the film's emotional register from feeling blunt. The film was also darkly humorous in certain scenes, specifically when Gummi used his tractor to pick up Kiddi and carry him to a hospital, only to dump his body at the entrance and drive off. Given the rather dehumanizing elements of that scene, it seemed like Gummi was giving Kiddi a middle finger and saving his life at the same time. Finally, the various landscape shots were lovely to look at. I don't believe I've ever seen a film from Iceland, but I found this film to be a great introduction to the country.



11 Foreign Language movies to go

Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5525466

Samurai Rebellion - (1967)

Like in Harakiri, Masaki Kobayashi's Samurai Rebellion examines power structures unfairly dealing with those subjugated to them, in this instance a young man forced to marry, and then, after good fortune blesses the union, being forced to return the bride. His father, Isaburo Sasahara (played here by the one and only Toshiro Mifune) has a lot of say in the household, and is (rightly) pretty disgusted by what their lord is putting them through. The family take a stand against their own lord, the odds impossibly stacked against them. There was a lot to enjoy here, visually, performance-wise and story-wise. Although I prefer Harakiri, this Kobayashi film flew by and includes all the best elements of samurai-based Japanese entertainment of this period.

8/10

Foreign Language Countdown films seen : 87/100


By POV - Impawards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15518663

The Lonely Guy - (1984)

Actors can save what otherwise might be a very average film - Steve Martin and Charles Grodin come to the rescue here, ad-libbing and adding enough to this film to give it a certain charm and warmth. I have to admit, some jokes fall flat, but others seem fresh still, and can't help but make you laugh. It's easy to delineate the bad from the good as Arthur Hiller shooting what's on the script (bad) to Martin and co improvising and suggesting changes (good) which makes for an uneven movie, but one that's worth watching for Steve Martin fans.

Going through Steve Martin's filmography before the Comedy Countdown, I've watched The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid plus this. I still have All of Me to watch, and others I'm more than familiar with.

6.5/10


By The poster art can or could be obtained from IMP Awards., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33154838

Paranormal Activity 3 - (2011)

Paranormal Activity 2 didn't scare me, and I didn't even find it spooky, so I jumped ship on the franchise right there and then. Last night I was watching Unknown Dimension: The Story of Paranormal Activity, which gave a pretty honest appraisal of every film - and they let me know that the third entry was actually one of the best in the entire series, so I watched it last night and yeah - it's not bad. It's far from perfect, but I'll accept anything because my favourite genre is full of entries that don't quite get it right 100% (Hereditary, for example, is a rare example of one that does.) A jump scare got me good, which is annoying - and I was unsettled, trying to get to sleep in a dark, quiet house. I know from that same doco that Paranormal 4 and the two succeeding entries are pretty bad, and not worth watching.

6/10
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Extreme Prejudice

https://boxd.it/2QK7Bz

4.5/5

I gave it an extra half star for being tailor made for me with that cast, genre and director.



The Batman (2022)



Finally got around to seeing this, freaking awesome. It was a risky movie both in its pacing, casting and the overall visual style. But they pulled it off and it worked well.

4/5 stars.
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@PHOENIX74 where can I watch Unknown Dimension? I’m a sucker for docs on horror franchises, even if I don’t like the movies themselves lol.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
@PHOENIX74 where can I watch Unknown Dimension? Iím a sucker for docs on horror franchises, even if I donít like the movies themselves lol.
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11 Foreign Language movies to go
@PHOENIX74 where can I watch Unknown Dimension? Iím a sucker for docs on horror franchises, even if I donít like the movies themselves lol.
I found it on Paramount+, which (while pretty inexpensive) you need a subscription for. It was a pretty good doc though.



Dark Glasses (2022)

Another lackluster Argento that makes one wonder how he managed to make such great movies earlier in his career. Pastorelli is quite decent as the lead but otherwise, the acting isn't any better than the film itself. Some decent gore isn't enough to redeem this.

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Morbius (2022)

It's garbage. There's no other way to put it. I wish I could get that time back.
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I've seen Bicycle Thieves, Yesterday Today and Tomorrow, The Children are Watching Us, and his entry in The Witches.

I'm slowly getting around to his work. While I do love, on one level, the neorealist style, probably about 85% of my movie watching is for escapist purposes.

Umberto D has been on my watchlist for ages.
"Sunflower" is a must. Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. I think it's the best love story in a movie - any language... "Two Women" is another great with Sophia Loren, but pretty dark. But he spent most of the 60s with this new Italian kinda comedy, some good, some I haven't seen (mid-latter 60s).. I gave "A Brief Vacation" a 9/10, which I think is his last great movie. Many people love "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis" which I think is good, but not even a Top 10 De Sica. I prefer "The Roof", which is another great movie about a young family's struggle.

-Miracle in Milan is a neo-realistic fantasy, which sounds odd, but the main character is ... interesting. Very positive

Did you like "The Witches"? It's the only thing I haven't seen of his (not counting the movies with Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine). The comedies with Loren and Mastroianni are pretty good, and "Il Boom" with Alberto Sordi, which was an important movie in the new genre of commedia all'italiana .. Lots of people love "Marriage Italian Style" (even Nixon saw it in the WH) with Sophia and Marcello, but again, it's middle-of-the-road in comparison to his best.

I highly recommend the documentary, "Vittorio D" which was on Prime, might still be, or one of those 3rd party channels via Amazon.

P.S. - Just don't watch the one with Monty Clift. I guess he wasn't able to do English as good. "A Place For Lovers" is nice, because of the Alps, but not much to it - one of those "I have to pay my gambling debts" movies he didn't wanna do, but had to.




P.S. - Just don't watch the one with Monty Clift. I guess he wasn't able to do English as good. "A Place For Lovers" is nice, because of the Alps, but not much to it - one of those "I have to pay my gambling debts" movies he didn't wanna do, but had to.
Gotta disagree here, not so much because Terminal Station is particularly good (though I like it better than conventional wisdom), but because I think Montgomery Clift is always worth watching (even if he also hated the movie, sorry, Monty!).



Umberto D has been on my watchlist for ages.
Have a hankie ready. Some scenes always make me cry.
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