Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame VI

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Thank you all for the well wishes, had a kidney stone and an infection but back to normal now
Glad you're feeling better now.
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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Thank you all for the well wishes, had a kidney stone and an infection but back to normal now

I'm glad you're feeling better.

__________________
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If I answer a game thread correctly, just skip my turn and continue with the game.
OPEN FLOOR.



leaving las vegas

the genius of nicolas cage is in how, unlike most other actors, it never feels like he's trying to thread a needle, but rather he's trying to tear the whole thing apart. this can certainly overpower some movies, but leaves him uniquely suited to performances of self-destruction because that apprehensive feeling in the audience of "oh no you shouldn't be doing that" applies equally well to actor as it does to character.

unfortunately cage is the only thing that really works about this movie. don't get me wrong, elisabeth shue is also great, but that only makes it more galling that her character is so horribly written. the foulest of "hooker with a heart of gold" cliches. we're given no real insight into why she might be drawn to someone as messed up as cage other than, well, she's a hooker so she must be messed up too. her job basically defines her and its unfortunate to see such a great performance wasted on such reductive characterization, but she at least manages to bring a ton of humanity to the thing, and her naturalism serves as a nice counterpoint to cage doing his thing. there are a lot of people far more qualified to talk about what makes a good vs. bad depiction of sex work in cinema, but this one sets of all sorts of red flags for me. its depiction of addiction does a bit too, but it seems downright tasteful in comparison to, for instance, every line of dialogue between shue and julian sands, or the obligatory scene where she gets beaten up. cage and shue have some touching moments together and if you lifted certain aspects of their dynamic into another movie you might have something, but the foundation is too shoddy and surrounded by too much bullshit for me to be moved.

i don't think mike figgis is much of a director and he's an even worse screenwriter, as the only thing separating this from a million other addiction dramas is an overload of sub-lynchian stylistic flourishes designed to distract from how reductive and dumb the whole thing is, basically the 90s-indie equivalent of throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. nevertheless, his commitment to this gonzo-expressionism is really what keeps this compelling aside from the performances. in sum, a movie of incredible performances struggling to hold up a terrible script, backed by boneheaded direction that occasionally succeeds in spite of itself.

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Most Biblical movies were long If I Recall.
seen A Clockwork Orange. In all honesty, the movie was weird and silly
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Leaving Las Vegas wasn't my pick for you but it's a major favorite of mine. I see it as extremely realistic since I basically lived it for a while. People who saw it before me would tell me that Ben was me and I knew right away that he was. It may sound strange to some but I find it absolutely hilarious, but of course I was always drunk when watching. I may see it a different way next time now that I am better.





The Wild Bunch
After a botched robbery of a bank, where they walked into an ambush, a group of aging outlaws go on the run. They stop in a village where one of the outlaws, Angel, the only Mexican in the posse, was born. We learn a little about Angels history and the Mexican General we will soon be meeting. The guys head out to another village where Angel spots his ex on the arm of the Mexican General. He gets insanely jealous and shoots her which puts into motion the remainder of the film. In order to set things right, the leader of the Bunch offers his services to the General. The job the General gives them is to rob a train carrying American weapons. While all this is happening the Wild Bunch is still being sought after by a group of bounty hunters, led by a former partner of the Bunch's leader. It's a very good story yet...

It didn't work for me. This is one of those movies I really want to love but don't. Generally, movies where the line between good guys and bad guys is blurred is right in my wheelhouse and this is certainly one of them, however, aside from Warren Oates' character, a drunken, whoring doofus, the other main characters are too stoic for me to grab onto. All the action sequences are great - the initial robbery, the train robbery, the final shootout - it's the in between stuff that loses me. It feels sluggish.

If I was picking a movie for me this is the one I'd feel was almost a sure shot, in fact I expected to watch this during the first PRHoF. It's a great recommendation for me. I see everything that makes this such a revered classic in the genre and maybe someday I'll get it, but that day isn't here yet.

I was going to pick this for you in the first personal rec but then I saw a post where you mentioned it. I liked the movie for many years, but mainly for the parts that you enjoyed. The last time I watched it, it all clicked for me in a big way. Now I think it could be top 10 material for me. I think there is something to identifying with the aging gunslingers.



The trick is not minding
Come and See


Hess warned from the beginning about digging up a gun so he can join the local freedom fighters. The Village Elder wants him that such actions would bring nothing but misery. The boy and his friend ignore him, and are spotted by a plane flying overhead. His fate has been sealed.

The film tells the story from the young boys point of view. Through him we witness the horrors of war, and while the boy himself never actually participated in an actual battle, he often finds himself swept up in events that expose him to the reality of war. Through it all, he never fires his gun, especially at anyone…until the very end. And even then, it’s never fired at a person.

He’s quickly enlisted into the local militia against his mothers wishes. He finds the life of a soldier tedious. Mostly given menial jobs, he is eventually left behind, deemed too young and inexperienced to participate in the coming battles. He’s even ordered to give up his boots in the process. Alone and crying, he finds a young woman also abandoned. Both have been rejected by the leader of the militia. They bond, but that bond is interrupted by a bombing raid.

The boy is subjected to several harrowing moments throughout the film. Along the way, he learns the consequences of his ignoring the elders warnings.

Kik mic fills these scenes of unimaginable horror with scenes of quiet beauty throughout. There’s even some striking images to be gleaned from the burning villages. It’s all done without the need to give big speeches or any grandstanding. The scenes speak for themselves. Nothing is explained, and we’re left to contemplate the scenes themselves.

The film would serve as a nice companion piece to All Quiet on The Western Front, as both deal with similar themes.



Come and See


Hess warned from the beginning about digging up a gun so he can join the local freedom fighters. The Village Elder wants him that such actions would bring nothing but misery. The boy and his friend ignore him, and are spotted by a plane flying overhead. His fate has been sealed.

The film tells the story from the young boys point of view. Through him we witness the horrors of war, and while the boy himself never actually participated in an actual battle, he often finds himself swept up in events that expose him to the reality of war. Through it all, he never fires his gun, especially at anyone…until the very end. And even then, it’s never fired at a person.

He’s quickly enlisted into the local militia against his mothers wishes. He finds the life of a soldier tedious. Mostly given menial jobs, he is eventually left behind, deemed too young and inexperienced to participate in the coming battles. He’s even ordered to give up his boots in the process. Alone and crying, he finds a young woman also abandoned. Both have been rejected by the leader of the militia. They bond, but that bond is interrupted by a bombing raid.

The boy is subjected to several harrowing moments throughout the film. Along the way, he learns the consequences of his ignoring the elders warnings.

Kik mic fills these scenes of unimaginable horror with scenes of quiet beauty throughout. There’s even some striking images to be gleaned from the burning villages. It’s all done without the need to give big speeches or any grandstanding. The scenes speak for themselves. Nothing is explained, and we’re left to contemplate the scenes themselves.

The film would serve as a nice companion piece to All Quiet on The Western Front, as both deal with similar themes.
Since you enjoyed it, you should also check out The Ascent from Larisa Sheptiko, Elem Klimov's wife. It's an easier watch since most of the horror in it is internalized and represented in psychological ways, like several facial close-ups (which, as if it wasn't obvious, I'm a huge sucker for), rather than the externalized horrors of Come and See. It's also great and among my favorite war films.




Die Hard



Definitely one of my biggest blind spots and I figured that wouldn't be a good thing as this is a film that seems to play a lot off of nostalgia. For the most part that seemed to be a correct assessment. Like always I have a hard time enjoying Bruce Willis a lot in movies. He certainly isn't bad here, actually he really plays the part pretty well. And the story itself is decent, the problem for me is the action sequences usually feel a bit bland and there isn't a lot of suspense for me especially for it being a hostage film. I never quite feel McClane is in jeopardy if that makes sense. Especially after Karl has a weapon straight to his head for like a minute and he still survives. Interesting to see Carl Winslow in this movie too. I have to think it feels a tad outdated, I prefer a hostage movie more like Inside Man than something like this. Had I seen this maybe twenty or so years ago maybe I'd feel different about it. But I didn't so I would call the film decent but not an all timer like a lot of people believe it is.

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Akira
Tokyo is in chaos. Tetsuo is a low rank member of a Tokyo biker gang. One evening, in a dust up with another gang, he comes into contact with a kid, a kid who happens to have the military after him and has some unusual power. In the confrontation between the kid and the military, the kid unleashes some of his power in the form of a bomb and this event awakens something in Tetsuo. Apparently everybody has this power in them it just needs something to jar it loose. Once it's loose in Tetsuo he has no idea how to control it. At first, all is cool. He's super powerful, indestructible really, and he uses this to kind of rise up against whomever pissed him off. Give a little back, so to speak and he's pretty destructive. Soon all this power begins to get out of control and, thanks to the first scene in the movie, we know what may be in store for Tokyo if Tetsuo doesn't get this under control. Akira, a young boy who also had some issues controlling the power, may be the key so Tetsuo seeks him out.


This is a movie that felt much longer than it was but that's how most anime feels to me so, eh. At one point I paused the movie, saw that I was an hour in, started playing it again, paused it again thinking maybe 20 minutes remained only to find out 20 minutes had passed. Oof! That being said, it's not a bad movie at all but like most anime I had a hard time grasping on emotionally to any of the characters. It's also a movie that needs your full attention. Snooze for a second and you could be lost for the rest of the movie. I watched this a couple months ago but felt that I didn't give it a fair shot as that viewing took place over a couple days. I have to say, sitting down and actually getting it all in in one viewing, I liked it more. And....that's all folks!





mildred pierce


this movie surely holds the coveted record for "movie i've recorded off tcm the most times but have never got around to watching before it gets deleted due to lack of space," so i was very happy to finally have an excuse to pull the trigger on it. perhaps unsurprisingly, the noir passages are more my speed than the melodrama, but it's all still very well-acted and curtiz always knows how to frame a scene. this is my 17th curtiz film and the dude just doesn't really miss. it's practically a given that he's not an auteur on the level of ford, hitchcock, etc., but there's really nobody better when it comes to wielding the machinations of the studio system to create a clean piece of hollywood entertainment that ticks all the boxes it needs to.

with that said, there are long stretches in the middle for which curtiz's hand is almost too steady, the melodrama too controlled and respectable, leaving me longing for something closer to douglas sirk than john m. stahl. the performances are very good (it goes without saying that crawford is incredible, but jack carson in particular nearly steals every scene) and the characters fulfill their function, but it lacks the dynamism of the opening scenes. i think i might just generally have a hang-up with movies that follow the ups and downs of a character's life over a period of years, as the periodic emotional resets tend to dampen whatever tensions the film had built up in me (not that there aren't countless great movies within this mode). there was still plenty to like about these parts however, and i was particularly holding on to its conception of all relationships as driven by financial negotiation in place of love, excepting the (unrequited) devotion of mother to daughter. in that sense it's one of the most cynical films i've ever seen really, and i was quite taken by every moment in which ann blyth reveals herself to be an even bigger monster.

also of interest is the pretty straightforward feminist reading of the film, showcasing a truly independent woman living for herself and her shitty daughter. sure there are men in her life, but she never relies on them except out of convenience and by choice, and her character arc isn't defined by them except as plot devices. this also ties into the queer subtext made obvious in eve arden's character, as we get a glimpse of a somewhat masculine, independent woman for whom men are barely even a consideration at this point.

the final revelation isn't the most shocking thing in the world, but it is inevitable and necessary considering all that had come before. it's a strong ending, but perhaps i was just relieved to be back under the oppressive shadows of pure noir as opposed to its intimations. the final shot in particular is quite lovely.




Mildred Pierce is a 5/5 for me and is in my top 10 profile. It's one film that I've seen several times and could watch again. The miniseries from a few years ago with Kate Winslet is pretty darn good too and while similar to the 1945 movie it's also different.



yeah i've always been interested in the miniseries because i love todd haynes, but i wanted to check out the movie first. maybe now i'll get around to it.