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Yeah, this film was disappointing. I had some brief commentary on it:

It's perplexing to me that this film had such eye popping action scenes, but was dragged down by such a trite story.

The action and fight scenes were as good as anything in a Bond or Bourne film. But the hackneyed idiotic story made it seem almost a satire. With a better story, this could have been a top action film.

To my surprise Billy Bob Thorton co-starred in the movie, which I hadn't known before we watched it. I'm a big BBT fan, but try as he might he couldn't overcome the worn out writing of his character.

Despite his buffoonish character, Chris Evans got to let it out a bit, whereas Ryan Gosling pretty much mumbled through his part.

If a person has Netflix you might give TGM a watch, but I couldn't have recommended that anyone buy movie tickets to see this one.



[Rock Hudson] I think I've only seen two films of his: this and Winchester 73, where he briefly plays a Native American. I've heard Seconds is pretty good, but I'm not sure if that has to do more with the plot than with his performance.
You've never seen Giant (1956), with James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor? You must watch it this weekend!..



You've never seen Giant (1956), with James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor? You must watch it this weekend!..
That one's been on the watchlist since forever Need to prioritize it.
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The Favourite, 2018

In the early 1700s, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) suffers from a range of maladies and much of the running of the state actually falls into the hands of her most trusted confidant, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). But when an ambitious new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at court and makes sure to put herself on Queen Anne's radar, the dynamics between the three women have serious implications on both the personal and political well-being of the individuals and the country.

There's something really spectacular about films where the actors just feel absolutely perfect for the material, and I found this movie to be just such a case.

Though I hadn't seen the movie at the time, I remember that there were discussions about who would be nominated for which Academy Award: the film splits its time almost perfectly between its three lead characters, though with her dominating and unforgettable performance as Queen Anne, it's not surprising that ultimately Colman was given the Best Actress nod.

The story itself is a brilliantly told cautionary tale about the danger of playing games with and for power, making great use of a setting where many people do not see themselves as having a choice whether or not to engage in some of those games. While Stone's Abigail is certainly manipulative, she comes from a background that involved sexual violence and endures physical abuse from her fellow servants. As she articulates in one scene when contemplating an action she admits is immoral, what good will her morality do her if she loses her place in the court and is forced into prostitution? Sarah is likewise easy to dislike, but her position is also easy to understand. Further, she seems to have a genuine love for Anne, even if it expresses itself in a manipulative way.

But looming over it all is Colman's Queen Anne, a woman whose struggles and illnesses make her vulnerable, yet those things combined with her power make her very dangerous. She's a brilliant character--and brilliantly portrayed--because every action that Lady Sarah or Abigail takes has the potential to explode in their face. Every time they do something to amp up Anne's paranoia, or every misstep they make in trying to make themselves appear essential is like laying down a trap for themselves. Queen Anne is like a wounded animal--alone and hurting, but capable of great injury. She is so used to her life of luxury and obedience that it blinds her to the real motivations of those around her.

The look of the film is incredibly strong, with wonderful textures and shapes in the costuming and the set design. There's a neat mix in many of the rooms and outfits between opulence and squalor.

The film also makes great use of the comedic chops of its cast. All three actresses have a different kind of humor, and they are well supported by Nicholas Hoult as a politician who becomes a part of the power games being played. Joe Alwyn also gets quite a few laughs as a lord who is sent by Hoult's character to seduce and dominate Abigail, but ends up under her power. A bemused debrief between the two men after the attempted seduction ("How did it go?" " . . . she bit me.") establishes Abigail's savvy---not disregarding their attentions, but submitting to them on her own terms.

Lastly, shout out to Horatio, the Fastest Duck in the City!




11 Foreign Language movies to go

By Universal Pictures - http://www.allposters.com/-sp/The-Sp..._i5136971_.htm, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36820561

The Spoilers - (1942)

This follows a Hollywood formula religiously, but I can't push The Spoilers aside to be forgotten about because it has moments that stand out, good and bad. One of those includes John Wayne in blackface, sharing a godawful moment with Marietta Canty - one you have to see to believe. On a positive note the final battle between Wayne's Roy Glennister and Randolph Scott's Alex McNamara goes to ridiculous lengths, lasts a long time and ends up with half of the town destroyed. Marlene Dietrich shows up in a see-through blouse, and there is enough sexual double entendre talk to last 17 Mae West films. All of this makes this tale about prospectors being cheated out of their finds by slimy judges and lawmen interesting, and worth watching - especially for fans of Wayne or Dietrich (and was of extra interest for me because Richard Barthelmess features in a rare post-A Modern Hero role.)

6/10


By IMP Awards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59422414

If Beale Street Could Talk - (2018)

Second time watching this - a window into a world that shouldn't exist as it does. There's some nice visual poetry, which adds to what has been adapted from James Baldwin's novel. I was happy to see that it didn't sell out.

7/10


By The poster art can or could be obtained from the distributor., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55237222

The Wife - (2017)

My second time watching this as well. I was kind of spellbound by it in it's last stretch - I love Jonathan Pryce and Glenn Close in this, who really managed to snag two great roles and do their best with them. I could see myself watching it yet again in the future - it's just so well written and to the point, while looking and sounding perfect for the story it's telling.

7.5/10
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I think I've only seen two films of his: this and Winchester 73, where he briefly plays a Native American. I've heard Seconds is pretty good, but I'm not sure if that has to do more with the plot than with his performance.
I don't know if you've watched Bend of the River with Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy. It's an Anthony Mann Western and Hudson has a small but semi-significant role in that as a gambler. He stood out to me as a likable character with a redemptive arc of sorts.



I don't know if you've watched Bend of the River with Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy. It's an Anthony Mann Western and Hudson has a small but semi-significant role in that as a gambler. He stood out to me as a likable character with a redemptive arc of sorts.
Never seen it, but I'll add it to the watchlist.



That one's been on the watchlist since forever Need to prioritize it.
You should. It's one of those sprawling epics. Only set in Texas and it actually addresses some of the prejudices Hispanics were subject to. Unheard of in a 1956 film and especially one with a big budget and a heavyweight cast. They're all so good in this. Hudson, Taylor, Dean, Dennis Hopper, Carroll Baker, Chill Wills, Sal Mineo, Earl Holliman.



I've heard Seconds is pretty good, but I'm not sure if that has to do more with the plot than with his performance.
I think the movie gains quite a bit from his casting and the fact that he was closeted at the time, which colours the proceedings interesting. His Douglas Sirk films have a similar dynamic, so would suggest checking those out as well.



Just For the Hell of It (1968) Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis. A gang of young punks cause mayhem and destruction. I enjoyed this in a trashy, nasty sort of way. The plot is pretty thin, but it was still sufficiently entertaining. Bonus points for putting the baby in the garbage can.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Snow Monster (Huang He, 2019)
5.5/10
Squish! (Tulapop Saenjaroen, 2021)
5/10
Woman Wanted (George B. Seitz, 1935)
5.5/10
Enthiran (Bazin Bs & S. Shankar, 2010)
6.5/10

A doctor (Rajinikanth) creates a robot in his own image but learns that he can't control his actions, including hitting on his wife (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan).
Public Toilet Africa (Kofi Ofosu-Yeboah, 2021)
5/10
Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (Chris Bailey, Mark Koetsier & Rob Minkoff, 2022)
6/10
The Nan Movie (Catherine Tate, 2022)
5/10
I Am Groot (Kirsten Lepore, 2022)
6.5/10 5 shorts

Groot (Vin Diesel) may be a Party Animal or an immature selfish little punk.
The Forgiven (John Michael McDonagh, 2022)
6/10
Santaman (Bret Stern, 2022)
5/10
Carter (Jeong Byeong-Gil, 2022)
6/10
Thirteen Lives (Ron Howard, 2022)
6.5/10

During the Thailand cave incident a few years back, three of the "awesome foursome" British cave divers, Chris Jewell (Tom Bateman), John Volanthen (Colin Farrell) and Richard Stanton (Viggo Mortensen), prepare to get the kids out.
Jane by Charlotte (Charlotte Gainsbourg, 2021)
6/10
13 Minutes (Lindsay Gossling, 2021)
5/10
Secret Headquarters (Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, 2022)
6/10
Elvis (Baz Luhrmann, 2022)
6.5/10

The life story of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) told mostly through the eyes of his egocentric manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). Entertaining but frantic and overlong.
One More Time with Feeling (Andrew Dominik, 2016)
+ 6.5/10
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Andy Suriano & Ant Ward, 2022)
6/10
We Burn Like This (Alana Waksman, 2021)
5/10
Day Shift (J.J. Perry, 2022)
6/10

Los Angeles pool cleaner Jamie Foxx is really a vampire hunter and gets some help near the end from legendary Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg).
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Welcome to the human race...
Day Shift -


I just love how it's like "okay now what if Bright was good"
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It's a good film. I've always felt R. Hudson to be a lightweight actor who never seemed really sincere, but here he was very good.
Loved this movie...totally agree that it was the first display of some real acting skills from Rock Hudson. He was quite good in this.



Victim of The Night
Oh, his specific character was a horrible human being. But I think that the movie did a good job of having several guys who were pretty awful in their own ways without it seeming like that was the point or message of the narrative.
I agree, I didn't feel like the movie was trying to make any kind of statement.
There are some pretty awful men out there, women too, people, but a woman like Gloria could easily get mixed up with shitty men. I thought the movie was pretty deft overall, to tell you the truth, and I think the fact that it never occurred to me that there was a way to see it as "all men are bad" or anything is just a part of that. They told the story they wanted to tell and they told it well.



Victim of The Night

By Universal Pictures - http://www.allposters.com/-sp/The-Sp..._i5136971_.htm, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36820561

The Spoilers - (1942)

This follows a Hollywood formula religiously, but I can't push The Spoilers aside to be forgotten about because it has moments that stand out, good and bad. One of those includes John Wayne in blackface, sharing a godawful moment with Marietta Canty - one you have to see to believe. On a positive note the final battle between Wayne's Roy Glennister and Randolph Scott's Alex McNamara goes to ridiculous lengths, lasts a long time and ends up with half of the town destroyed. Marlene Dietrich shows up in a see-through blouse, and there is enough sexual double entendre talk to last 17 Mae West films. All of this makes this tale about prospectors being cheated out of their finds by slimy judges and lawmen interesting, and worth watching - especially for fans of Wayne or Dietrich (and was of extra interest for me because Richard Barthelmess features in a rare post-A Modern Hero role.)

6/10
Randolph Scott! *takes off hat*



Victim of The Night

The truth is that no amount of nostalgia, love for ELO, or respect for the dead can forgive how truly awful this movie is.
It may very well be the worst movie I have ever seen. In fact, it is so bad that I leapfrogged it ahead of a backlog of write-ups I need to do, just because it is so very specially bad.
I described it thusly to my friend, Trout, first as I was watching it last night and then following up this morning:

Me: "I think I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with Xanadu."
Trout: "That it’s a piece of hot steaming shit? Dude, I figured that out a long long time ago. I could have saved you the time."
*fast-forward to this morning...
Trout: "I’m sorry. That was unnecessarily nasty."
Me: "No, you're not wrong.
When I first texted, I was gonna say that the director should have been taken out back and shot against the wall. But then I realized that you’d need to take the cinematographer with him. And then I realized that the writer(s) might actually be even more nefarious criminals (assuming they were paid for this, they robbed somebody blind). And then I figured the lead actor, Michael Beck, would have to be left lifeless (like his “performance”) in an alleyway or ditch in like The Bronx or Kansas. And yet, that it’s a shame you can’t remake a film like this."
Me (again): "The level of incompetence involved is staggering. I mean, it’s incompetence. It’s not a bad idea or studio meddling or too low of a budget or whatever, it is gross incompetence. If I performed my doctorly duties this way I would be found guilty of both malpractice and professional incompetence and I suspect my license would be reviewed and possibly revoked."
Me: "For example, the song 'Magic' from the soundtrack actually was a No.1 hit, yet in the film, a musical, it is not performed but plays in the background while people (incompetently) talk over it. In another scene, the climactic scene, Olivia Newton John performs the soundtrack’s second biggest hit... mostly while facing away from the camera, ostensibly wowed by tight-rope walkers (three feet off the ground) and mediocre roller-skaters, often in wide shots to try to show the whole (incompetent) spectacle that’s on display, while she is like the size of a pencil on the screen and could actually be someone else in a blonde wig. During the climactic musical number which she is singing. I was dumbfounded. There is no filmmaking competence. Never seen anything like it. They simply don't know where to put the camera. They don't know where the camera should be pointed. They don't know how the actors should be blocked. They don't know how the shot should be lit. They don't know how long the shot should last. They don't know how to deliver what is actually in the scene to the audience. A complete lack of competence. It becomes clear why the Razzies were founded specifically because of this film."
Me: I love a lot of "bad" movies. But the makers of Xanadu simply could not have done worse. They had Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, and Jeff Lynne writing songs and scoring the film with ELO performing it all, and they, the filmmakers, let all those people down with a simple and true lack of actual, minimal competence. Xanadu is a not a "bad" movie. It's just a bad movie.
Trout: "You're not wrong."



Enthiran (Bazin Bs & S. Shankar, 2010)
6.5/10
I have a feeling this is the best film ever made and we both just can't fully get it. BOOM BOOM ROBO DA ROBO DA ROBO DA ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM ROBO DA ROBO DA ROBO DA!!
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Elvis
(2022)


The chief takeaway from this picture is the phenomenal performance of Austin Butler as Elvis Presley. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could have done a better job. His uncanny resemblance to Elvis, his stage mannerisms, his subtle expressions, dancing, and overall sex appeal were as if Elvis were reborn. Butler even did his own singing when portraying the younger Elvis, although Elvis’ voice was at least partially dubbed in when Butler’s older Elvis sang.

What trivialized the film were its gaudy and exaggerated depictions of Elvis’ early life in Tupelo, Mississippi, and his visits to the center of blues in Memphis, Beale Street. Although the featured blues singers sang well, their speakeasy type settings and performances were presented with a magnified sleaze to the point of parody. In street and crowd scenes its as if the film rocketed to a whiz bang musical extravaganza ala West Side Story, with larger than life coordinated crowd scenes presented in a near psychedelic Technicolor fashion. By telling a tale that itself is larger than life, presenting that story in an over the top staging canceled out the impact of it. Elvis’ meteoric rise to fame would have been better represented if the producers would have toned down his early influences and career start.

I was 14 when Heartbreak Hotel hit the radio airwaves with a bang. Younger audiences were immediately taken in. By the time Hound Dog soon followed, we were completely hooked. It was only later that I learned that his early version of That’s All Right recorded at Sam Phillip’s Sun Studio in Memphis had been immediately played on the air at a local radio station. The response was instant and immense, with many phone calls inquiring who the young singer was, and which high school did he attend (so as to learn whether the singer was black or white). That was the event that started Elvis’ rise to fame. He subsequently used that song in his appearances on the Louisiana Hayride on radio, then TV. If one listens to that early Sun Studio recording (available on YouTube), Presley’s bluesy and evocative vocal styling is galvanizing and completely fresh.

Reports of Elvis made much of Presley’s manager, Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) and that the story was told from his point of view. But for an early scene, and one near the end featuring Parker on his death bed, the story ala Parker never really registered. As a matter of fact it’s a mystery trying to understand what they were trying to do with Parker. Hanks did a creditable performance, but we’re left to understand how Parker really viewed his relationship with Elvis. Hanks used an accent, presumably to connote Parker’s Dutch heritage, but the accent was merely generically foreign sounding without much reference to Dutch, which was often sing-song in nature. But in fact Parker’s real speaking voice was not foreign sounding at all. It was more of a mid Atlantic American accent. Certainly there are any number of actors who might have been better cast than Hanks, but presumably Warner Bros. wanted to have a hefty name in the production to commercially add to audience attraction.

The film did truthfully feature some of Presley’s highlights and a few lowlights, but there were several scenes and story lines that were fabricated. For example Presley and Parker never visited a house of mirrors or rode on a Ferris wheel for serious conversation, nor did Presley ever fire Parker on stage during a show at the International Hotel. And some of the interesting incidents in his life were left out. I think the producers fell into the trap that many Hollywood biopics have done: They believe that to make the story important or attractive, it must be presented in a distorted extravagant manner, over emphasizing certain facets in order to drive home its worth.

The quality of the music, both featured and incidental, was of a high quality, which one would expect in a music biopic. Executive music producer Elliott Wheeler helmed an impressive array of songs and performances, while arranging those choices and providing incidental music. Next to Butler’s performance, Wheeler’s work was one of the most important portions of the movie.

Elvis was a highly anticipated film. While it had its missteps, it is a review of one of American history’s most important popular legends-- a man who remains the best selling solo music artist of all time. His vocal ability allowed him to sing in many styles: rock, ballad, country, gospel and others. And his importance to culture in the mid Twentieth Century is inestimable. This film is a worthwhile view of Elvis Presley’s legend and legacy.

Doc’s rating: 7/10