Make Your Picks

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Denver & Rio Grande
Byron Haskin, 1952
Adventure, Western
DVR - TCM


Two rival lines vie to expand the railroad through the Colorado mountains and are set at loggerheads early on by a fatal act of violence which not only leads to some expected acts of sabotage but also allows for a fairly generic revenge/love aspect to be brought into proceedings.

There's nothing to either overly excite or surprise, the final action scenes do generate a little tension but essentially it's a b-movie that never really aims higher. The railroad scenes are generally staged well enough though, the tale moves along at a reasonable clip for the most part and both Kasey Rogers and Edmond O'Brien manage to make the human drama palatable. Sadly Sterling Hayden's contribution is somewhat disappointing and whilst it's always nice to see Zasu Pitts, the scenes between her and her engineer paramour (played by Paul Fix) may endeavour to add a little light-relief but would have been better left on the cutting-room floor imo.





Westward The Women
William A. Wellman, 1951
Adventure, Drama, Western
DVR - TCM


'Route 66' western that follows a wagon-train full of women looking to settle down with farmworkers already in the West.

Being more oestrogen than testosterone filled makes for a nice change but that doesn't mean it's entirely bereft of character conflicts and there's also a nice touch whereby the women are the ones to pick their intended partners before the start of their journey (thus helping dispel any notion that they may be used as mere substitutes for the more usual cattle-drive). Proceedings may lean more toward the dramatic than moments of out-and-out excitement but it generally stays out of melodramatic territory and mostly maintains an air of credibility (the scene immediately prior to crossing the desert does stand out as a possible exception though).

All-in-all I found it a solid enough adventure that's quite well crafted and although somewhat predictable, and perhaps a little slow in places, still manages to maintain interest and deliver an engaging enough couple of hours.





Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald
David Yates, 2018
Adventure, Family, Fantasy
RTÉ1


Second in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter prequel spin-off series.

Any movie containing wondrous CGI creatures and magical effects should really be right up my street but, alas, whereas in the Harry Potter series it was easy to get behind the central characters and therefore care about what ensues I don't much care for Eddie Redmayne's socially awkward Newt Scamander nor any of the other various characters who populate the tale. As a result, much the same as its predecessor, I'm simply not really invested in what transpires ... but at least the first one (iirc) had a plot that felt a little more cohesive whereas this one feels rather cobbled together and fractured.





Assignment In Brittany
Jack Conway, 1943
Drama, War
DVR - TCM


WWII espionage drama about locating a Nazi U-boat base.

Serviceable enough b-movie wartime tale, though those looking for a tense action piece are likely to be rather disappointed as much of the first half is more a romantic drama with lighthearted overtones. Proceedings do gradually get a little grittier though, with the odd poignant moment along the way, and lead to an action-packed finale designed to send most home at least somewhat satisfied.

As a whole it's modest fare that perhaps could have done with a little more lift in the first half, but there are certainly far worse ways to pass an hour and half imo.





Finding Your Feet
Richard Loncraine, 2017
Comedy, Drama, Family, Music, Romance
DVR - TCM


British comedy drama centred on a retiree with social standing (who's marriage suddenly falls apart) and her estranged, more bohemian, sister.

It's not unusual for this type of offering from the UK to involve a fairly strong cast and, the thankfully minor involvement of John Sessions aside, this is no exception. Sadly though that cast is pretty much wasted on material that imo rarely surpasses mediocrity and certainly struggles for originality. That's not to say there isn't the odd worthwhile moment of either humour or pathos but they are too few and far between.





Magnolia
Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999
Drama
DVD


From IMDb:
An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.
Very much a film of two halves for me. The opening worked reasonably well to draw me into the tale and some segments in the first half were nicely done, but far too often (thanks to the score) I found the dissonance between tone and material too glaring. Perhaps it was because I was expecting a more serious piece throughout, something the second half generally delivered on to give an experience I found much more watchable and easy to engage with. As far as the 'frog' scene goes I was fine with it in general though I do think it was a little overly drawn out. Definitely something that may benefit from a rewatch in the future, though I'm not sure I'll ever be able to fully reconcile myself to the tone in the earlier parts.





Ghost Ship
Steve Beck, 2002
Horror
DVR - TCM


From IMDb:
A salvage crew discovers a long-lost 1962 passenger ship floating lifeless in a remote region of the Bering Sea, and soon notices that its long-dead inhabitants may still be on board.
This may have a recorded budget of $20M but it opens with the look and feel of a cheap made-for-television piece. From the script and effects one has to assume much of that budget went on sets, and to be fair sections of the cruise liner do help to generate a little atmosphere here and there. It's to no avail though as they are too few in number and the tale portrayed in a manner that mostly renders it ineffective. Even some of the cast don't seem to believe it worth putting much effort in and from the point the bizarrely executed flashback sequence occurs all hope of anything else worthwhile is pretty much gone.





That elusive hide-and-seek cow is at it again
Ghost Ship
Steve Beck, 2002
Horror
DVR - TCM


From IMDb:

This may have a recorded budget of $20M but it opens with the look and feel of a cheap made-for-television piece. From the script and effects one has to assume much of that budget went on sets, and to be fair sections of the cruise liner do help to generate a little atmosphere here and there. It's to no avail though as they are too few in number and the tale portrayed in a manner that mostly renders it ineffective. Even some of the cast don't seem to believe it worth putting much effort in and from the point the bizarrely executed flashback sequence occurs all hope of anything else worthwhile is pretty much gone.


hm. Without looking it up (cuz I'm ultra liz-AY-zee), is that the one that opens with a steel cable snapping and ripping through half the people on deck? "Half," ha! Unintentional, that one.

IF it's the one I'm remembering, yeah it was rough. I'm thinkin' there were a few monster/ghost ship movies floating around (sinking, mostly) at about that time. I suggest washing that mess down with a watch of Treat Williams' fun, super B horror'ish/comedy'ish flick, Deep Rising. I'm still chomping at the bits to force my nephew through this one.
__________________
"My Dionne Warwick understanding of your dream indicates that you are ambivalent on how you want life to eventually screw you."
- Joel

"Ever try to forcibly pin down a house cat? It's not easy."
- Captain Steel



This will be a nice thread to dip into, look forward to your words.
Nah, it's probably best ignored for the most part - I'm absolutely dreadful at communicating my thoughts. Tbh my scribblings are generally intended to act merely as aide-memoires for me to help me recall at least something about the movies I've watched, in a world in which I all too frequently forget what I've gone to another room for (even before I've left the one I was in) and feel in need of a pen and paper if asked the simple question of how old I am



hm. Without looking it up (cuz I'm ultra liz-AY-zee), is that the one that opens with a steel cable snapping and ripping through half the people on deck? "Half," ha! Unintentional, that one.
Yep - that be the guilty party. Thankfully IMDb says Steve Beck only directed two feature length movies. Unfortunately in a moment of complete madness (or simply needing something cheap with which to fill an order so as to receive free shipping) I own the other one - the almost equally unimpressive remake Thir13en Ghosts.

IF it's the one I'm remembering, yeah it was rough. I'm thinkin' there were a few monster/ghost ship movies floating around (sinking, mostly) at about that time. I suggest washing that mess down with a watch of Treat Williams' fun, super B horror'ish/comedy'ish flick, Deep Rising. I'm still chomping at the bits to force my nephew through this one.
Yeah Deep Rising is infinitely superior and a fun watch. I'm not at all ashamed to own that one Hope you do get to introduce your nephew to it some time



Manbiki kazoku - [Shoplifters]
Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018
Crime, Drama
DVR - Channel 4


From IMDb:
A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find outside in the cold.
Koreeda certainly has a knack for showing the humanity in his characters and even though some of their actions here are quite reprehensible their motives are sometimes less so, meaning one is still able to empathise with them. For me the final act does suffer a little from the dynamic having changed, but tbh I think that is more to do with how much I was enjoying watching the interplay between the 'family' prior to the upheaval. Well acted, generally nicely paced and directed, probably my favourite Koreeda of the four of his I've seen thus far.


+



Professional horse shoe straightener
Manbiki kazoku - [Shoplifters]
Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018
Crime, Drama
DVR - Channel 4


From IMDb:

Koreeda certainly has a knack for showing the humanity in his characters and even though some of their actions here are quite reprehensible their motives are sometimes less so, meaning one is still able to empathise with them. For me the final act does suffer a little from the dynamic having changed, but tbh I think that is more to do with how much I was enjoying watching the interplay between the 'family' prior to the upheaval. Well acted, generally nicely paced and directed, probably my favourite Koreeda of the four of his I've seen thus far.


+
One of my favourites of his. That bus scene at the end had me.



The Counterfeit Traitor
George Seaton, 1962
Drama, History, Thriller, War
DVR - TCM


From IMDb:
Blacklisted in modern day WW2, a Swedish oil trader opts to assist British Allies, by means of infiltrating and surveying Nazi Germany.
Acceptable offering that doesn't take long to set out on what is an easy enough to follow tale without a mass of twists and turns. Naturally it's an allied-centric affair but it does deliberately try not to present an entirely one-sided viewpoint, and in one scene was probably a little risqué for the time with a couple of quaint intimations toward homosexuality and pubic hair. Unfortunately much of the tale struggles to build any lasting tension or suspense and although quite laconic by design is not aided by the romance, which although necessary does serve to further slow any impetus a little in the mid-section.


+



Objective, Burma!
Raoul Walsh, 1945
Action, Adventure, Drama, War
DVR - TCM


From IMDb:
A platoon of special ops are tasked to parachute into the remote Burmese jungle and destroy a strategic Japanese radar station, but getting out isn't as easy.
The opening minutes prior to the mission beginning are rather weak imo which is a shame as what transpires on the actual mission is for the most part pretty decent. Still, aside from the character introductions, they're quite easily forgotten as the mission objective is reached fairly quickly. The strength of the film is in the lengthy exfiltration passage though. Sure there's the odd eye-rolling moment along the way but the actual war was still ongoing so a little jingoism/propaganda is not unexpected and thankfully it never really intrudes too much - yelling at aeroplanes whilst behind enemy lines and the like tended to irk this watcher a little more but it's really only there as a means to show their growing desperation. Despite some fairly lengthy periods with little action the plight of those involved always remains of interest, and the action pieces are for the most part well enough presented with a nice couple of small pockets of tension too imo.





I always confuse Ghost Ship and Ghost Rig. They even have very similar dvd covers.
Not even heard of, let alone seen, the latter - I see its IMDb rating is even lower, how would you compare it to Ghost Ship in terms of craptitude??

And yeah, looks like the same person might have designed both dvd covers lol.



Not even heard of, let alone seen, the latter - I see it's IMDb rating is even lower, how would you compare it to Ghost Ship in terms of craptitude??

And yeah, looks like the same person might have designed both dvd covers lol.

Honestly, the 2 movies are quite craptastically interchangeable. I even have to check every time which one has my beloved Rory McCann in it.