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Dredd (2012)



Special thanks to @John McClane

Just what I needed last night, and a great film in itself. I canít believe I hadnít got round to it before. The fact that Cassandra is a psychic and thatís somehow totally cool and unexplained is brilliant. Lots of other great moments too. Didnít feel a 100% like sci-fi to me either, in a good way, but I canít think of how to categorise it.



Dredd (2012)



Special thanks to @John McClane

Just what I needed last night, and a great film in itself. I canít believe I hadnít got round to it before. The fact that Cassandra is a psychic and thatís somehow totally cool and unexplained is brilliant. Lots of other great moments too. Didnít feel a 100% like sci-fi to me either, in a good way, but I canít think of how to categorise it.
Dredd is one of my favorite films of the last ten years. It is endlessly rewatchable.

While I could say a ton of nice things about it (the acting, the action sequences, the best use of slow-motion possibly ever), maybe what I appreciated the most was the way that the relationship is developed between Dredd and Anderson. Yes, she's a rookie. But both the film and Dredd himself show her a lot more respect than the "innocent" usually gets in such films.

I think that where you see this the most is in the sequence where
WARNING: spoilers below
they make it to the control room and catch the Domhnall Gleeson character. Dredd wants to execute him, but Anderson argues that he's actually a victim because he's been threatened and coerced. Dredd respects her judgement (despite it conflicting with his own) and lets her choice stand. What's more--we the viewer can see that Anderson is actually making the correct decision and that in this case Dredd is wrong.


It's a nice moment because the point is that she should be capable of being a Judge on her own. By resisting always having Dredd be the decision maker, and by minimizing the amount of "damsel in distress" stuff with her character, the film develops a much more meaningful partnership than the typical rookie/mentor cop film.



Dredd is one of my favorite films of the last ten years. It is endlessly rewatchable.

While I could say a ton of nice things about it (the acting, the action sequences, the best use of slow-motion possibly ever), maybe what I appreciated the most was the way that the relationship is developed between Dredd and Anderson. Yes, she's a rookie. But both the film and Dredd himself show her a lot more respect than the "innocent" usually gets in such films.

I think that where you see this the most is in the sequence where
WARNING: spoilers below
they make it to the control room and catch the Domhnall Gleeson character. Dredd wants to execute him, but Anderson argues that he's actually a victim because he's been threatened and coerced. Dredd respects her judgement (despite it conflicting with his own) and lets her choice stand. What's more--we the viewer can see that Anderson is actually making the correct decision and that in this case Dredd is wrong.


It's a nice moment because the point is that she should be capable of being a Judge on her own. By resisting always having Dredd be the decision maker, and by minimizing the amount of "damsel in distress" stuff with her character, the film develops a much more meaningful partnership than the typical rookie/mentor cop film.
Youíre exactly right. And in fact she actually says this much, something along the lines of, ĎEven if Iím wrong, Iím a judge in my own right and am authorised to make my own decisionsí. Great scene.



Dredd is definitely my favorite movie from the past decade.

Top notch effects, cinematography, and the world building is not overblown to the point of cheesiness. We get just enough information to believe the world yet plenty of grey area for the imagination to run wild.

I really hope they get the television off the ground. Itís been languishing in preproduction forever.



Dredd is definitely my favorite movie from the past decade.

Top notch effects, cinematography, and the world building is not overblown to the point of cheesiness. We get just enough information to believe the world yet plenty of grey area for the imagination to run wild.

I really hope they get the television off the ground. Itís been languishing in preproduction forever.
I'd rather have another film than a TV show, but I'll take what I can get!



Sea Fever (2019)



Also attempted last night. In short, meh.

2/5

Marine biology student Siobhan is stuck on a fishing boat, where she canít connect with the crew and spends her time alone or being awkward, until everyone starts to succumb to an infection and she becomes the go-to person to explain things and address the crisis.

I feel like RT has overrated this. As most critics said, itís some kind of odd mash-up of Thing, Alien, with references to other greats thrown in for good measure. Iíd always wanted to see a film put a properly antisocial character (not Ďsassyí or Ďarrogantí) in a situation where they make friends/become part of the club or die. Itís an idea that speaks to me personally and that I find quite powerful. Unfortunately, here it was not well-executed and the impact was totally lost. I did finish the film, but it had nothing noteworthy to offer except the wasted antisocial protagonist concept.

One of the IMDb user reviews suggested itís because the other characters are not developed enough, and perhaps itís partly that, but also I think the viewer does not get to see the impact of social interaction on Siobhan, which is a shame. Thereís one good scene where she walks in on the crew having dinner and runs away when sheís invited to join them, but this would have been a great chance to go further and do something like Christine (2016) and show she just doesnít understand how social interaction works. Towards the end I became so annoyed at the pastiche I asked for recommendations, and that worked out much better.



Sea Fever (2019)



Also attempted last night. In short, meh.

2/5
One of the IMDb user reviews suggested itís because the other characters are not developed enough, and perhaps itís partly that, but also I think the viewer does not get to see the impact of social interaction on Siobhan, which is a shame. Thereís one good scene where she walks in on the crew having dinner and runs away when sheís invited to join them, but this would have been a great chance to go further and do something like Christine (2016) and show she just doesnít understand how social interaction works.
I liked it a hair more than you. (And reviewed it last week maybe?)

My main criticism was that the film never seemed to choose between exploring the social dynamics of the boat and creating a "group fights a monster" film. It fails to integrate the social and scientific elements of the plot in a cohesive way, so it feels like the movie keeps switching gears.

Something that I didn't mention in my original review that I did appreciate was Siobhan's approach to the creature. Unlike most horror films, she doesn't assume that the creature is "evil". Like anything else, it is trying to survive, and I liked her "return it to nature" approach as opposed to the "kill it with fire" approach. There was a neat environmental message in there that could have been further developed, but even the creature falls prey to not being given enough depth.

I agree with you that the anti-social outsider was a premise that could have used a lot more exploration.



War and Peace 1966 ĎВойна и мирí Directed by Sergey Bondarchuk

+
One of the most epic films I've seen in a long long time. It so grande, calling it 'epic' is an understatement. I lack the vocab and writing skills to accurately describe the seven-hours long greatness I just witnessed. Shout out mark_f for having this on your mafo list!



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Phantom Raiders (Jacques Tourneur, 1940)
+ 5/10
The Weight of Gold (Brett Rapkin, 2020)
6.5/10
Mission of Danger (Jacques Tourneur & george waGGner, 1960)
+ 5/10
Coma (Nikita Argunov, 2019)
6/10

People in the world are waking up to craziness.
Fury River (4 Directors, 1960)
+ 5/10
Eli (CiarŠn Foy, 2019)
5.5/10
Great Day in the Morning (Jacques Tourneur, 1956)
+.5/10
Black Magic for White Boys (Onur Tukel, 2017)
6/10

A magician is using black magic to earn his living.
Lorna's Silence (Dardenne Bros., 2008)
5/10
Basketball County: In the Water (John Beckham & Jimmy Jenkins, 2020)
6.5/10
Pink Wall (Tom Cullen, 2019)
5/10
The President's Last Bang (Im Sang-soo, 2005)
6/10

South Korea's President Park Chung He was assassinated in 1979, and this fictional film details that.
Life and Nothing More (Antonio Mťndez Esparza, 2017)
+ 5/10
Stockton on My Mind (Marc Levin, 2020)
- 6.5/10
East Side, West Side (Mervyn LeRoy, 1949)
+ 5/10
Vibes (Ken Kwapis, 1988)
+ 6/10

Psychics Jeff Goldblum and Cyndi Lauper have adventures in Peru.
Crime of Passion (Gerd Oswald, 1956)
5.5/10
The Moonlighter (Roy Rowland, 1953)
+ 5/10
In the Aisles (Thomas Stuber, 2018)
5.5/10
The Go-Go's! (Alison Ellwood, 2020)
6.5/10

Jane Wiedlin and Belinda Carlisle in the early days.
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It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page





The Endless (2017)

@AgrippinaX and I have been talking about this film for quite a few weeks. A few months ago I started this film with some friends, but we had to stop about 15 minutes in. I've been meaning to get back into it, but being familiar with the other work from this pair of directors, I knew I needed to be in the right mood for it.

Justin and Aaron (played by co-directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson) are two men who, years earlier, escaped from a "UFO death cult". Living a mundane, Ramen-saturated existence, their lives are shaken up when they receive a mysterious video message from the cult. Aaron (who was younger when the two left and who has only fond memories of the cult) wants to go back, and persuades Justin to take the two of them for a visit. On arriving, they find that their old friends seem to have barely aged, and a series of strange events make the two brothers begin to question if the cult's beliefs might turn out to be real.

This is the third film that I've seen from this pair. They have a way of creating a sense of dread and building ominous tension. This isn't a film that's about jump scares or gore, but just about a persistent sense that things aren't right and the anxiety of hoping the main characters figure things out/escape before they reach a point of no return.

I like films in this mold where there aren't obvious antagonists. The behavior of the cultists isn't ever explicitly malicious, but it's deeply unsettling. It's unclear what--if anything--they want with the brothers. When we learn that Justin didn't tell Aaron the entire truth about the cult, the ambiguous nature of things only deepens.

For those who have seen it, wow, I was pretty shocked by the
WARNING: spoilers below
very explicit connection to Resolution. I was like "Hey, that looks a LOT like the house from Resolution!" And then the film just went ahead and blew my mind once he went inside.
.

I'd highly recommend this one, especially if you're someone who enjoys a slow burn, low-key horror/thriller.

I did have a few questions about the concept overall, but I was drawn into the story enough that it didn't bother me too much.






Cam, 2018

Alice works as a cam-girl, performing various sexy online shows for a chatroom full of customers. Alice is obsessed with her ranking on the site, desperate to crack the top 50 and relying on tips from her fans to push her rank higher. After a minor sabotage by a competitor, Alice agrees to an extreme show with a fellow camgirl, and when Alice wakes up the next morning she cannot access her account. Her horror and confusion only mounts when she realizes that her channel is live, and a doppelganger has taken over her account. Alice struggles to understand what is happening as her doppelganger goes to more extreme places than Alice has gone before, and at the same time her account's rank climbs higher and higher.

I would describe this film as being sort of Lynch-lite. The nature of Alice's doppelganger is an interesting mystery, as it's unclear just where the film is going. Is there some sort of "real world" explanation like an impostor? Or is something supernatural going on?

The film walks an interesting line with its relationship to Alice's job as a sex worker. Obviously the work puts her in a certain degree of danger (specifically from fans who get a little too attached). Her success depends on convincingly portraying sexual desire to a group of men who are not exactly top shelf material. The danger lies in the men who buy into the fantasy, men who believe that Alice genuinely wants to be with them, and who don't recognize the limits of what is a performance.

What I especially liked about the film was how it delineates exploitation. Alice enjoys her work, but what's horrifying is when she no longer has control over her body. Alice runs "extreme" scenarios at times (such as faking a suicide), and we see how she expertly manages the pace and tone of such a sequence. But later when Alice watches her double perform a similar sequence she is horrified. As the men in the chat chant for her to shoot herself, Alice feels out of control. The problem is not the sex work, in other words, it is whether or not Alice is in control of what happens to her and her body. Alice doesn't need to be rescued from her sex work, she needs to be given back her autonomy.

Madeline Brewer gives a strong central performance as Alice. You can feel her frustration as the cam site's tech support refuses to help her reclaim her account. There's an almost mundane reality to her circular conversations with the unhelpful tech support operators. At the same time, the stigma against sex work rears its head when Alice attempts to get help from the police. The officers are unsympathetic, and one of them makes inappropriate remarks to Alice in the guise of giving her a "compliment." So often in film, sex workers are seen as women who need rescuing, and yet no one in the film seems to genuinely want to help Alice.

The film does a very good job of humanizing Alice. The downside, however, is that the film holds the answer to the mystery very close to its chest until the final act. The central horror (what if you woke up and had been replaced online?) is compelling, but you get the sense that the writer didn't have a solid ending in mind. The "answer" is not entirely satisfying, and I wish that the film had resolved more strongly. That said, I did like the film's final note.









This wasn't really that good but neither was it a bad movie. There is no mystery here as to who/what is the wildling, it's just us watching the characters figure it out. This isn't scary as I thought it would be nor is it action packed, kind of a coming of age/a day in the life. It is good mindless entertainment thought, and that's always good for wasting away a lazy afternoon or easing yourself to sleep late night on the couch.
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Excision (2012)

A young woman named Pauline wrestles with graphic, gory fantasies while rebelling against her controlling mother, school bullies, a nasty neighbor, and anxiety over her sister who is sick with cystic fibrosis.

I enjoyed this movie, though I wish that it had committed to either being serious or darkly campy. The main character is obviously suffering from some form of emotional or mental issue, but her behavior is inconsistent through the film. At times she seems incredibly fragile, while in other scenes she is incredibly self-assured.

Easily my favorite aspect of the movie was the way that Pauline used her teenage, imperfect body as a weapon against those around her. She takes wicked delight in repulsing others with her menstrual blood, cold sore, vomit, etc. For much of the film Pauline is her own arsenal, and she takes stigmatized body elements (like her menstrual blood) and uses them to take control of situations. It's a fun premise, and those sequences are probably the most satisfying.

The area where the film faltered for me was in its approach to the heart of the story. The key there is Pauline's relationship with her mother and sister. Her relationship with her mother is well developed, but the relationship with the sister less so. The film's climax depends on understanding these relationships deeply, and I felt like there wasn't quite enough heft there. (Though the acting in the final act and specifically the final scene is pretty great).

Again, the film might have benefited from embracing the more camp elements of the story. The movie absolutely telegraphs camp--with John Waters playing a priest, Tracy Lords as the prim and proper mother, and Malcolm McDowell as Pauline's apathetic teacher. Pauline's gory sex dreams (in which she grinds against dissected cadavers or is worshiped by a crew of corpses) are visually fun and also hint at something big and bloody.

Given these elements, I would have hoped for a climax leaning more toward Frankenhoker--as it is it leans more toward something like May. The movie has earned enough emotion for the finale to land--but I can't help feeling that a move over-the-top conclusion would have suited the film better.

It's definitely a unique film. I'm not quite sure it hits the right notes, especially in its final act. It's like two fun, good horror films mixed together with okay results.






The Endless (2017)

@AgrippinaX and I have been talking about this film for quite a few weeks. A few months ago I started this film with some friends, but we had to stop about 15 minutes in. I've been meaning to get back into it, but being familiar with the other work from this pair of directors, I knew I needed to be in the right mood for it.

Justin and Aaron (played by co-directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson) are two men who, years earlier, escaped from a "UFO death cult". Living a mundane, Ramen-saturated existence, their lives are shaken up when they receive a mysterious video message from the cult. Aaron (who was younger when the two left and who has only fond memories of the cult) wants to go back, and persuades Justin to take the two of them for a visit. On arriving, they find that their old friends seem to have barely aged, and a series of strange events make the two brothers begin to question if the cult's beliefs might turn out to be real.

This is the third film that I've seen from this pair. They have a way of creating a sense of dread and building ominous tension. This isn't a film that's about jump scares or gore, but just about a persistent sense that things aren't right and the anxiety of hoping the main characters figure things out/escape before they reach a point of no return.

I like films in this mold where there aren't obvious antagonists. The behavior of the cultists isn't ever explicitly malicious, but it's deeply unsettling. It's unclear what--if anything--they want with the brothers. When we learn that Justin didn't tell Aaron the entire truth about the cult, the ambiguous nature of things only deepens.

For those who have seen it, wow, I was pretty shocked by the
WARNING: spoilers below
very explicit connection to Resolution. I was like "Hey, that looks a LOT like the house from Resolution!" And then the film just went ahead and blew my mind once he went inside.
.

I'd highly recommend this one, especially if you're someone who enjoys a slow burn, low-key horror/thriller.

I did have a few questions about the concept overall, but I was drawn into the story enough that it didn't bother me too much.

Really glad you liked it! The connection to Resolution is insane if youíre watching it for the first time. The first few times I watched The Endless, I was thinking how they could almost do their own interconnected multiverse, Marvel-style, but itís also great that Spring and Synchronic arenít part of that (as far as I know), and they keep their options open.

I think given how Moorhead & Benson work, the concept is probably fully developed, but they either decide not to give too much away in order to have that option, or think itís fine for it not to make sense. I understand
WARNING: spoilers below
the entire place as a time loop where they relive the same period of time between when thereís no moon and that when there are three moons (at which stage the visitor is then Ďlocked iní). I do think they could have done with a bit more explanation. My own pet peeve is a scene just after theyíd arrived at the cult and taken the bunk beds. They are talking about Anna, Justin tells Aaron she might be a paedophile, and when Aaron tries to argue with him, Justin quickly says ĎGo to sleepí. The way he says that, itís almost like hypnosis, and after the second time, it seems to work and Aaron goes quiet. On that note, I agree with you that itís unexplained what the cult wants with the protagonists, but I think thereís a possibility of past child abuse, by Anna on Aaron and by Hal on Justin. In that case, itís just about ongoing control. But this can also be Justin lying to get Aaron disenchanted with the place.
They could definitely do with fleshing this out a bit more. In fact, thatís the usual complaint levelled are them by critics. I guess Iím not as bothered by it, because the character chemistry tends to carry it through for me.



Ad Astra (2019)

Took a punt on this one as never had a look at the story beforehand. Pleasantly surprised. The story rings a bit like "Heart of Darkness". Whilst the film can appear languid at times the voice-over works remarkably well in tying the narrative together. Don't think it set out to be a blockbuster and doesn't try to be. Liked this and Pitts performance.




I think given how Moorhead & Benson work, the concept is probably fully developed, but they either decide not to give too much away in order to have that option, or think itís fine for it not to make sense.
It didn't bother me too much, but I did have some questions. For example, there is some inconsistency in terms of
WARNING: spoilers below
the degree to which characters are aware that they are in a time loop. On the one hand, characters seem to openly discuss the fact that they are trapped. But on the other hand, with the Resolution characters especially, we see that they repeat their same dialogue.

There's a difference between being trapped in the same amount of time (ie a month or three days or whatever) and being trapped in the same actions. In fact, we learn that the characters can do different things in their loops. They can end the loop early or they can wait it out until the creature kills them.

I also thought that it was a bit unclear/confusing about whether or not people could leave their "bubbles". People who haven't died yet clearly can, but what happens if a trapped person tried to leave.

Like you, I enjoyed the story and the characters enough that these gaps in understanding didn't derail the film too much, but some questions (like the "So can they leave?") question seemed like obvious things to ask and no one did.



My own pet peeve is a scene just after theyíd arrived at the cult and taken the bunk beds. They are talking about Anna, Justin tells Aaron she might be a paedophile, and when Aaron tries to argue with him, Justin quickly says ĎGo to sleepí. The way he says that, itís almost like hypnosis, and after the second time, it seems to work and Aaron goes quiet.
My interpretation of that sequence was that Aaron has always had the submissive personality between the two--something he got from being in the cult. And while Justin rails against the cult, he's not above using forceful commands and domination to get Aaron to do what he wants. It sets up a parallel between Justin and the cult as forces that want to control Aaron.

Or was your issue with the unexplored question of Anna's interest in Aaron?

I think that it raises an interesting question because
WARNING: spoilers below
we don't know how long the cult has been there. And if they remember all their past loops, then from a mental point of view they are aging. They might look young, but maybe they have been living there for 60 years. I think that it adds a creepy, Edward-Bella complication to Anna's interest in Aaron. It's worth asking whether or not the cult lures in young people (like the young artist who was from the mental hospital).