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Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - 2021 Edition

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Great one. An American friend recently mentioned this is on Shudder now, btw.
Yes, I learned that a few days after that post! Watching it this weekend, along with some of their shorts. Gonna research that cult/colony first so I'll have some idea about what I'm watching.

Glad you found us!
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Captain's Log
My Collection



Cool stuff, downloaded, started listening, will finish tomorrow.
Thanks! I enjoyed your "reveal" podcast with @TheUsualSuspect.
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Check out my podcast: Thief's Monthly Movie Loot!



After some, uhh, scheduling issues, technical difficulties, and 100 hours of editing, the first episode of the year of Thief's Monthly Movie Loot is out! Check it out.

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot 29 - The First Loot

Spotify users, click here

I want to thank my first guest for joining me in talking about first films, directorial debuts, and whatnot. We also share our Top 5 directorial debuts!
I started this last night when I got to bed, intending to listen to the first half or so, but ended up finishing the whole thing in one sitting. (Or one lying, as the case may be). A very engaging conversation, I look forward to more of the 2-person format.

some thoughts:
1. Slentert is a 60-year-old film scholar who for some reason wants us to believe he's 20. I'm willing to humor him, it's just kind of weird. (seriously though, how am I 30 years older than you? I watched cartoons all week.)

2. I didn't do very well on the "debut or not a debut" quiz. Even the ones I knew, I second-guessed myself. I had no clue that Shawshank was Darabont's first. Cool.

3. The love for Duel makes me very happy. Whenever I say it's my favorite Spielberg film, I always pretend that I'm joking so people won't think I'm crazy. Glad to know I'm not alone.



I started this last night when I got to bed, intending to listen to the first half or so, but ended up finishing the whole thing in one sitting. (Or one lying, as the case may be). A very engaging conversation, I look forward to more of the 2-person format.

some thoughts:
1. Slentert is a 60-year-old film scholar who for some reason wants us to believe he's 20. I'm willing to humor him, it's just kind of weird. (seriously though, how am I 30 years older than you? I watched cartoons all week.)

2. I didn't do very well on the "debut or not a debut" quiz. Even the ones I knew, I second-guessed myself. I had no clue that Shawshank was Darabont's first. Cool.

3. The love for Duel makes me very happy. Whenever I say it's my favorite Spielberg film, I always pretend that I'm joking so people won't think I'm crazy. Glad to know I'm not alone.
Thanks for the kind words.

As for Slentert, you're damn right he is



some thoughts:
1. Slentert is a 60-year-old film scholar who for some reason wants us to believe he's 20. I'm willing to humor him, it's just kind of weird. (seriously though, how am I 30 years older than you? I watched cartoons all week.)
Hahaha, I appreciate that everyone here is willing to indulge me in my delusions.



3. The love for Duel makes me very happy. Whenever I say it's my favorite Spielberg film, I always pretend that I'm joking so people won't think I'm crazy. Glad to know I'm not alone.

HELL YEAH! DUEL-HIVE!



SHAME
(1968, Bergman)
A film from the Criterion Collection whose number includes the #1 (#961)



"It's not something you can talk about. There's nothing to say, nowhere to hide. No excuses, no evasions. Just great guilt, great pain... and great fear."

Merriam-Webster defines "shame" as "a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety". People that feel ashamed usually feel humiliated, unworthy, or disgraced for some reason, be it by their own doing or by surrounding circumstances. There's a lot of that in Ingmar Bergman's aptly titled film.

Shame follows Jan and Eva (Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullman), a couple of former musicians that have sought refuge in a remote island as a result of an impending civil war. Their circumstances are not ideal and their marriage doesn't seem to be on its best shape, but the need for survival trumps every desire to live more "properly", and to survive, you must be willing to give up everything else: your normal life, your dreams, your pride.

Jan and Eva are two very interesting characters. Through the film, they both go through a rollercoaster of emotions, dependence and dislike, hope and despair. From the start, Jan is shown to be weak, meek, emotional, longing for the past while being frequently bossed around by Eva, who shows to be more resourceful, stoic, determined, and looking towards the future. But war and the need for survival will do things to you.

Shame is my fourth Bergman film, and probably my second favorite. The way he moves the camera and shoots every scene makes you participant of what's happening, whether it's the close-up of a loved one during an afternoon lunch, the rush through the woods as fighter planes and paratroopers fly by, or the distance between the two as they sit at the table or the desperate attempt to find someone, something around the house. But everything that happens in the film is anchored by the great performances of Von Sydow and Ullman, who perfectly convey the decay of their individual souls, and as a result, their marriage.

At one point, Jan claims that he can "change" if he wants, that he is not a "determinist", but as the events around them worsens, change surely comes for both. Ultimately, Shame is a story about the deterioration of this couple at the mercy of a war that ravages them from both sides, it's a story of survival at the expense of life itself. A story of great guilt, great pain, and great fear.

Grade:



MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT
(1968, Gutiťrrez Alea)
A film from Cuba



"Everything seems so different today. Have I changed or has the city?"

One of my favorite quotes ever comes from Rush's "Tom Sawyer": "Changes aren't permanent, but change is". It captures the idea that, although the ways and manners in which we change through life might not be permanent, change itself will always occur, and continue to occur. That is the question in the mind of Sergio, the main character and narrator of this Cuban film, who finds himself in the middle of change after the Cuban Revolution. But is the change his or around him? or both?

Memories of Underdevelopment follows Sergio (Sergio Corrieri), an affluent writer that's trying to make sense of the changes around him in the early 1960s in Cuba. But the changes aren't all political, but personal. His wife and friends are fleeing to Miami, while he tries to cope with his new surroundings and the isolation that comes from it.

Sergio is not a particularly likable character. He's a bit self-centered, self-righteous, and arrogant, which makes it a bit hard to sympathize with his musings. But we're not necessarily meant to. It is nonetheless interesting to see the ways he internalizes the changes around him. Despite the premise, the film is not overly political in its stance, which is a good choice. The film does veer a bit into meandering, but never tips over.

Towards the last act, the film shifts towards a more straightforward narrative, as we follow the conflicts between Sergio and an aspiring, teenager actress (Daisy Granados) with whom he starts a relationship. This subplot sorta deviates from the more cerebral first acts, but it's well executed, in terms of performance and direction.

The Cuban situation is always one that tends to be polarizing whenever discussed. However, this film manages to be an interesting inside look into the more societal aspects of the country and its people, in the midst of impending change. Like most changes, it might not be perfect, but then again, what is?

Grade:



So even with the shorter list I still didn't complete it, and I kind of cheated on this first one.

A film with the number 1 (One, First, etc.) in its title: One Cab's Family (1952) - Tex Avery cartoon

The first film from any director you like:
A film from before 1920: The Student of Prague - Paul Wegener, 1913

A film with a title that starts with the letters A or B: Bad Ronald (1974)

An action or adventure film: We Can Be Heroes (2020)

An animated film: La Casa Lobo (2018)



Here's what I managed for the month, with a little commentary:

The first film from any director you like: Blood Simple (Coen Brothers) They really hit the ground running--modern noir featuring characters who self-destruct through their own foolishness are pretty much Coen staples. Terrific cinematography by Barry Sonnenfeld and scoring by Carter Burwell round out a perfect set of debuts.

A film with a title that starts with the letters A or B: The Black Cat Super weird little film highlighted by a Karloff-Lugosi tÍte-ŗ-tÍte. I don't recall whose recommendation I saw for this (Captain Terror? Wooley?) but it hit the spot. Imperfect (Tak's review is dead on about the sexism and the ending) but fun.

A film from the Criterion Collection whose number includes the #1 (i.e. 10, 21, 31): Day of Wrath (#125) Slow-building (supposedly too slow for contemporary Danish audiences, so I guess this is an old issue) 1600s period drama of of a young woman married to a much older church elder, in the shadow of a witchcraft inquisition. I appreciate that the age difference is commented on and a source of problems. Superb tension.

A film from before 1920: A Dog's Life Fun Chaplin short with the usual shenanigans. A big part of my enjoyment of these is still seeing the world the were made in.

An action or adventure film: Wonder Woman 84 I feel weird that I don't hate this as much as everyone else seems to. It's not good, exactly, but I actually kinda dig that at the end
WARNING: spoilers below
Wonder Woman defeats the villain with words, not fists
. Yeah, there's some pretty janky stuff in here (like, don't get me started on the creepiness of the body switch) which prevents it from being actually good, but I have a lot of room for forgiveness for certain kinds of movies. Plus, I really like Gadot as Wonder Woman. She's not the best actor but her awkwardness kind of fits her fish out of water character.

An animated film: Bambi My wife described this as being like a poem, which I think is spot on. The scenes of the forest burning is some of the most beautiful/frightening imagery I've seen in an animated film. And
WARNING: spoilers below
the mom's death
was not nearly so traumatic as its reputation.

A film with Nicolas Cage (born January 7): Con Air Oh, man, this movie is as aggressively stupid as I remembered. Unfortunately this is straight action hero Cage (with a "Southern" accent) not full-on Cage unleashed, which I think would have made the film more enjoyable. Its over-the-topness almost works, but too often it drifts back into simple cheesiness and dopey gags. Not for me, but great if you love this kind of thing, I bet.



So even with the shorter list I still didn't complete it, and I kind of cheated on this first one.
I feel ya! I just finished Grand Hotel for the Best Picture category, and still need to see an animated one. But I suppose I still have enough time today and I can always sit with the kids for that one.



@kgaard, you tackled a couple of good ones there that I've also seen within the last years; Bambi, A Dog's Life, Blood Simple... all great.



@kgaard, you tackled a couple of good ones there that I've also seen within the last years; Bambi, A Dog's Life, Blood Simple... all great.
Yeah, it was a good month. I admit that frequently I watch whatever interests me and then retrofit it to the list, but that works out often enough. Iím sorry I didnít get to Memories of Underdevelopment, which was on my list as well, but life got in the way, as it does. Next time!



I just finished Grand Hotel about an hour ago, but while I let it simmer, I thought it would be good to ask a question. So far, I've seen 62 of the 92 Best Picture winners. Most have been worth a watch, while others have been... pretty bad *cough*BroadwayMelody*cough*

So, even though eventually I'll try to get to all of them, which of the following should I prioritize?

1930s  


1940s  


1950s  


1960s  


1970s  


1980s  


2000s  


As you can see, I'm very thin on the first decades, but I've seen most of the recent ones. I think I asked this question back in Corrie a couple of years ago and there was some consensus that The Greatest Show on Earth was pretty bad, and that Gigi was problematic. But let's get some new input.



still need to see an animated one.
Damn, I went with Grave of the Fireflies to close the month, and that was probably the worst decision I've had recently



So, even though eventually I'll try to get to all of them, which of the following should I prioritize?
For my money from what I've seen myself It Happened One Night, The Lost Weekend, Midnight Cowboy, Marty, Kramer vs. Kramer, Oliver! and Chariots of Fire are all worth your time, in about that order. I've read great things about The Best Years of Our Lives but I'm yet to get around to it.
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I just finished Grand Hotel about an hour ago, but while I let it simmer, I thought it would be good to ask a question. So far, I've seen 62 of the 92 Best Picture winners. Most have been worth a watch, while others have been... pretty bad *cough*BroadwayMelody*cough*

So, even though eventually I'll try to get to all of them, which of the following should I prioritize?
A bunch of those are ones that I haven't seen either, but the only one that stood out to me, as in "He hasn't seen ____??" is It Happened One Night. There's some other good ones in there too, but if you're looking to prioritize I'd go with that one.



I thought Darabont had a film before Shawshank
He directed Buried Alive, which was a TV film, in 1990. But Shawshank was his feature film debut.



Damn, I went with Grave of the Fireflies to close the month, and that was probably the worst decision I've had recently
I'm an "easy cry" so you can imagine how well I handled that one. Oof. My face hurt afterwards.