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LIGHTYEAR
(2022, MacLane)



"Respect the suit. This suit means something. It's not just protecting your body; it's protecting the universe. This suit is a promise to the world that you, and you alone, will do one thing above all. Finish the mission, no matter the cost. You will never quit, whatever the galaxy may throw your way!"

Saw this on my birthday weekend with the kids and I'm still not sure what to think. The whole premise behind its conception and production seems too convoluted, and to me, this doesn't feel like the film that "Andy" would react to the way he reacts in Toy Story. It feels like what it is: a film made for people that grew up watching Toy Story, and not for actual kids.

But putting that aside, the film does manage to hold its own. The animation is great and the characters are enjoyable. Obviously there are tons of nods to the Toy Story franchise, some of them feel forced, some of them stick their landing. The bit where Zurg reveals his true identity got a huge chuckle out of me, especially because one of my kids said something like "it's his father!", remembering the original joke, and then, well

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
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Sex and the Law, 1968

In this mockumentary/documentary by Gabriel Axel--the director who made Babbette's Feast--a woman who has gotten in trouble with the law for being a pornographic model explores the world of pornography and the hypocrisy around how sex and nudity are portrayed in different corners of contemporary culture.

Take this review for what it is because I realized most of the way through what I watched that the version I was watching (on Tubi) seems to be a full 30 minutes short of the film's actual runtime. Why? I don't know. Maybe sequences that were more explicit were excised from this particular print? Anyway, it feels a bit goofy reviewing a movie when I've only seen 2/3 of the film, but I got enough of the gist that I wanted to write it up.

I added this film to my watchlist because the (deceptive, IMO!) description said that it was an exploration of how film changed after censorship laws were changed.

That is emphatically NOT what this film is about.

This film is basically a pro-pornography, cutesy little sexy comedy about the role of pornography in contemporary society. Birgit BrŁel hosts the film, playing a woman who has recently been sentenced for being a pornographic model. Incensed by this injustice, she walks us through the benefits of pornography and during several stretches questions why it is that certain material is not considered obscene when it is pornographic, but is considered fine when classified as "art".

The discussion about what makes something "obscene" was interesting, and I appreciated the humor with which the film approaches this question. For example, it starts by noting that it is considered obscene for a publication to show an erect penis, then transitions to footage of a giant erect penis statue being, um, handled in a museum display. It also points out that certain themes and images have existed in etching/painting/statue form for ages and ages. There's also the question of what poses count as obscenity, pointing out that a woman laid supine on a bed is fine, but as soon as she crooks her leg out, it's obscene.

In many ways, my favorite thing about this film is the different ways in which it shows some interesting filmmaking. My absolute favorite thing about the film was showing Bruel's character as basically a working mother. She has two kids and a husband. We see her eating dinner with them and having banal conversations. Yet in the same film there are highly stylized sequences that are really nicely shot, like a series of tableaus showing different sex positions (man on top, woman on top, "I'm the king of the world", and so on) that for me landed just on the right side of sweet not stupid. Then there's a late scene that shows a lonely man and woman fantasizing about each other, then ending up in bed together. This scene has a different energy from a lot of the sexual content that comes before it and it was the thing in the film I found the most legitimately sexy.

When it comes to the way that the movie advocates for the value of porn, I had a mixed reaction. I agreed with a lot of the points made by the film--that people should be able to look at what they want; that exposure to sexual content can help people be less inhibited--but it certainly revealed a very entrenched point of view, namely that of a straight man. This is a universe where gay men (and gay porn) do not exist. At all. There are a few shots of two women together, but in a purely performative or leading up to a threesome way.

This is definitely a world where porn is made by straight men and for straight men. A scene where we watch Bruel participate in a porn shoot has some weird, creepy vibes to it. Four men crowd around her, giving her directions. It's meant to seem fun, but even the music is a bit off (and the Tubi subtitles seemed to agree, I can't remember the exact word used, but it was like "unsettling music"). The movie frames porn as something that women experience, but only ever by being on a date and having a man pull a magazine out of nowhere. Oh, and if the woman you're with doesn't like what you're doing and tells you to stop, don't worry: "I don't know what it is that [women] say no when we really mean yes!". We also see very little content that suggests what would be helping women enjoy themselves more, as most of what we see is nude women staged different ways. (I do give the film credit for including some male nudity, including outside of just scenes involving intercourse, and for matching the age and attractiveness of the male performers with the female performers).

It might sounds like I'm taking this sex comedy fake documentary too seriously, but I think that even in this type of movie it's worth noting whose perspective is being taken and who is being excluded. On the surface this movie is very sex positive, but only around certain types of bodies and preferences.

A fun little film. Maybe someday I'll catch those missing 30 minutes.








SF = Z






[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it



11 Foreign Language movies to go

By Roger Ebert, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57044561

Paris, Texas - (1984)

Paris, Texas is hard to just briefly summarize - another one from Wim Wenders (king of the road movies) and another look at the United States from a European filmmaker who had yet to assimilate culturally. It's very metaphorically rich, with Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) emerging from the desert, near death - a very literal way of looking at how this character has fallen, only to reemerge and slowly pick up the pieces of a life that spectacularly fell apart 4 years previously. He slowly transforms from being catatonic with no memories to reengaging with his brother and son - which leads to a quest to find his wife, and an emotional revelation for us in a great scene that Stanton and Nastassja Kinski share. I think quite a few of us have periods in our lives where we find ourselves in that desert, until we reemerge and pick up the pieces again, one by one. It's what makes this film so easy to engage with, and Travis so easy to empathize with to a certain extent. A classic that a lot of people still love today.

8.5/10


By IMP Awards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16905881

The Virgin Suicides - (1999)

A gut-wrenching look at middle-class suburban and soulless hell, where a family with 5 daughters are observed from the outside, slowly descending into a meaningless existence leading them all to commit suicide. Kathleen Turner is great as the girls' overbearing and strict mother - and James Woods playing opposite her as the passive father. The only Sofia Coppola film I've seen post-Lost in Translation is The Beguiled, which I really liked. Perhaps I'll have to dig up the others - considering just how good The Virgin Suicides is. That the boys looking back at all the events have no idea why the girls did what they did says as much as anything else in the film, with it's melancholy feel and humorous moments combining to produce a dream-like, hazy remembrance we participate in. Great debut.

8/10


By United Artists - Heritage Auctions. Cropped from the original, lightly retouched. Unedited original can be seen in upload history., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/inde...curid=85407881

The Great Dictator - (1940)

Even in this, Chaplin's first real talking picture, he crams so much into each second that I couldn't afford to look away - and I still likely missed a lot. It's probably because he's such a visual comedian as well, and he still carried that over into the sound era. I loved the first segment of this film, on the front lines of World War I, and most of the film really. It goes into that same set of films of his which I'm dying to watch again, to get a good handle on every little nuance and pratfall - for I find the pace of his films outrun what I can take in on my first viewing.

7.5
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

Latest Review : Nashville (1975)





Saturday night movie with the kids. A good movie, but far from what you would expect from Pixar. And there's lots, lots of Star Wars references.
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Registered User
Thirteen Lives
my rating - 3/5



When the Cat Comes -


This is an odd, whimsical, and charming Czech movie about a travelling circus that visits a small town, their main draw being a cat wearing sunglasses. When the glasses come off, the cat reveals a person's true colors - literally - such as red for lovers, yellow for the unfaithful, etc. The circus angers the town's fascistic school director, who is eager to add the cat to the school's famed stuffed animal collection. The movie has similar appeals to Something Wicked This Way Comes, except that this time, the circus is a force of good, specifically of the anti-fascist variety. It helps that JiřŪ SovŠk makes the school director out to be one loathsome guy. The main appeal of this movie, though, is in the scenes when the glasses come off, which feature vibrant music, dancing and of course colors with visual effects that seem ahead of their time. The movie is not perfect: it drags to the point of listlessness for a long while after the first scene like this. The ending, which is impossible not to smile at, mostly makes up for it, as do the facts that itís unlike any movie I've seen and that it kindled my interest in the Czech New Wave.

You can watch it on this YouTube channel.




Watch the Trailer


I was hoping to dislike everything about this film, seemed so pretentious to begin with, just like Nomadland. I thought this was going to be Fern selling the van and buying a remote cabin in some mountain, which is kind of the story of this movie. They should all learn from Debra Granik, her movies are simply showing something, never pitching an idea or lifestyle.

This is about a woman struck by a personal tragedy trying to find solace in an off grid self-reliant lifestyle, she can't handle people, they demand, and she doesn't fell like delivering, so she chooses isolation. We're starting to live in an epidemic of people that believe isolation in nature will bring growth of some kind, either spiritual or mental, people are so gullible, full of false hopes of psychologic progress, and, self-improvement always depending on this or that to become that something, this circumstance, or this environment.

"The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there."




Watch the Trailer


I was hoping to dislike everything about this film, seemed so pretentious to begin with, just like Nomadland. I thought this was going to be Fern selling the van and buying a remote cabin in some mountain, which is kind of the story of this movie. They should all learn from Debra Granik, her movies are simply showing something, never pitching an idea or lifestyle.

This is about a woman struck by a personal tragedy trying to find solace in an off grid self-reliant lifestyle, she can't handle people, they demand, and she doesn't fell like delivering, so she chooses isolation. We're starting to live in an epidemic of people that believe isolation in nature will bring growth of some kind, either spiritual or mental, people are so gullible, full of false hopes of psychologic progress, and, self-improvement always depending on this or that to become that something, this circumstance, or this environment.

"The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there."
Good movie.
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The acting was fine, really, not bad, one of the dramatic scenes made me almost cry, when she told him. The movie lacks dept though, that's why they needed those scenes, otherwise the plot, the ambience itself would be enough, on some other hands this could be memorable, the movie is supposed to have the nature aspect, although I feel it needed so much more. You want to know how you film nature? These guys are amateurs, and they do a good job, and actually it has a lot to do with the film. Check this channel.



Victim of The Night

By Roger Ebert, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57044561

Paris, Texas - (1984)

Paris, Texas is hard to just briefly summarize - another one from Wim Wenders (king of the road movies) and another look at the United States from a European filmmaker who had yet to assimilate culturally. It's very metaphorically rich, with Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) emerging from the desert, near death - a very literal way of looking at how this character has fallen, only to reemerge and slowly pick up the pieces of a life that spectacularly fell apart 4 years previously. He slowly transforms from being catatonic with no memories to reengaging with his brother and son - which leads to a quest to find his wife, and an emotional revelation for us in a great scene that Stanton and Nastassja Kinski share. I think quite a few of us have periods in our lives where we find ourselves in that desert, until we reemerge and pick up the pieces again, one by one. It's what makes this film so easy to engage with, and Travis so easy to empathize with to a certain extent. A classic that a lot of people still love today.

8.5/10
Currently, I consider this to be the best movie I've ever seen not named The Rocky Horror Picture Show.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Shark Side of the Moon (Glenn Campbell & Tammy Klein, 2022)
5/10
Code Name: Emperor (Jorge Coira, 2022)
6/10
Dead Zone (Hank Braxtan, 2022)
5/10
The Abyss (James Cameron, 1989)
7+/10

There's something down in the abyss, something not human... but beautiful.
Wayward (Kurt Yochum, 2022)
5/10
Albatross (Myles Yaksich, 2022)
+ 4.5/10
Gone in the Night (Eli Horowitz, 2022)
5/10
Airplane! (ZAZ, 1980)
7/10

Dr. Leslie Nielsen tries to assure the passengers on the doomed flight that they'll be OK, but somehow they're not buying it.
No Way Out (Azi Rahman, 2022)
5/10
Between Two Dawns (Selman Nacar, 2021)
6/10
Dangerously Close (Albert Pyun, 1986)
5/10
Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984)
6/10

Slacker John Lurie, his younger cousin Eszter Balint and his best friend Richard Edson go to the movies with a popcorn-eating guy they meet.
The Moderator (Zhor Fassi-Fihri, 2022)
5/10
Cycling the Frame (Cynthia Beatt, 1988)
6/10
Fuzz (Richard A. Colla, 1972)
5/10
Nighthawks (Bruce Malmuth, 1981)
6.5/10

Undercover cop Sylvester Stallone confronts superterrorist Rutger Hauer in various NYC locations with suspenseful results.
Snipers (Mo & Zhang Yimou, 2022)
6/10
Eradication (Daniel Byers, 2022)
5/10
Easter Eggs (Nicolas Keppens, 2020)
6/10
The Wheel (Steve Pink, 2021)
- 6.5/10

A couple (Amber Midthunder & Taylor Gray) who don't even seem to like each other end up on the [ferris] wheel where they have a chance to resolve their problems.
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JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION
(2022, Trevorrow)



"Bigger. WHY do they always have to go bigger?"

Set four years after Fallen Kingdom, Jurassic World Dominion follows Owen Grady and Claire Dearing (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) as they try to rescue their "adoptive" daughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who has been kidnapped by operatives from Biosyn Genetics. Meanwhile, Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant (Laura Dern and Sam Neill) are trying to uncover a conspiracy to control the world food supply from Biosyn as well, with the help of Malcolm, who now works there.

If you noticed that the above synopsis doesn't mention dinosaurs *at all*, then you've noticed the main issue with this film. In their efforts to go bigger, Trevorrow and the studio have turned dinosaurs, what is supposed to be the main draw of this film, into an afterthought on a much more convoluted story. Granted, there are plenty of dinosaurs, but they just seem to be getting in the way of this story of clones, international espionage, and... crop-eating locusts?

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot



Carter (2022)

A Korean action film that resembles a video game as it tries (poorly) to maintain an illusion of one-shot cinematography. Despite some clunky CGI and obvious cuts, the action is rather imaginative and brutal. Stupid but surprisingly entertaining.

--
Mother Joan of the Angels (1961)

Kind of like a sequel to Russell's The Devils but made ten years earlier and in Poland. In other words, it's based on the same historical case of "Loudun possessions" but follows its aftermath. Not as bonkers as The Devils but pretty nice mystery-drama nonetheless.

--
Roh (2019)
aka Soul

A Malaysian folk horror that, despite completely different folklore, has quite a bit in common with The VVitch. A bit slow but an atmospheric film, that has some amazing scenes.

--
Fist of Fury (1972)

Weaker than Lee's starring debut from the year before. At times the fights look more like bodybuilding contests than martial arts, and I hate those weird noises Bruce started to do here.

--
Gun Woman (2014)

A Japanese gonzo-gore-action with lots of violence and nudity. I guess there was potential to be better, but I found the script terribly lacking. I have to give thumbs up for Asami, though -- not an easy role to do.

--
The Way of the Dragon (1972)

Even slightly weaker than the previous Lee. Too much comedy, poor pacing, and fights are far less brutal than before. I didn't remember that these Bruce Lee films were so much like Steven Seagal's -- both are always so much tougher than anyone else and they just steamroll through everyone.

--
The Nest of the Cuckoo Bird (1965)

Yet another weird B-horror from the 60s (or 70s, there's plenty from both). I wanted to like this more but it was just too boring at times. I think there's a good idea here but it would need to be refined by someone a bit more skilled.

--
The Barcelona Vampiress (2020)

A little artsy historical drama-mystery-horror about child trafficking (and murder) in early 20th century Barcelona. It's based on a true story and follows one interpretation quite faithfully (though I would have preferred if it had gone with the more contemporary "black legend"). It mixes many styles quite seamlessly. For those into TTRPGs, it really felt like something I could imagine running in something like Call of Cthulhu Berlin setting.
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Russian Ark, 2002

Shot from the first-person perspective, a man awakens to find himself wandering through the sprawling Winter Palace of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. As he traverses the enormous building, he encounters another such traveler he calls the European (Sergey Dreyden), and the two move through different rooms and different time periods.

There was a lot of to-do when this film first came out due to the fact that it was shot in a single take. This fact certainly adds a bit of "whoa!" factor to a film that is already impressively large in scale.

Even without having been shot in a single go, the technical merit on display here is really extraordinary and noteworthy. Sweeping sequences in ballrooms with what looks like hundreds of lushly-costumed 18th century guests transition to quiet scenes in a modern art gallery and vice versa.

When it comes to the way that the film was shot, I was surprised on the impact that it had on me as a viewer. What struck me was not the length of each sequence or even an awareness that it was a single take. Instead I started to feel the absence of cuts or more traditional transitions. Different scenes have different energies or pace, so it's not overly samey, but at the same time the sense that you are constantly being pulled forward is an interesting one.

I do think that I would have gotten more out of this film if I had a better grasp on Russian history. Aside from the sequence around Tsar Nicholas and his children, there was little that I was familiar. I wouldn't say that it's essential, because you can still grasp the emotional heft of the scenes without knowing the full context, but I imagine it would add another layer of enjoyment for those more in the know.

A really lovely film that is much more than a gimmick, and an example of how something that seems like a gimmick actually ends up in service of the film and its story.






Russian Ark, 2002

Shot from the first-person perspective, a man awakens to find himself wandering through the sprawling Winter Palace of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. As he traverses the enormous building, he encounters another such traveler he calls the European (Sergey Dreyden), and the two move through different rooms and different time periods.

There was a lot of to-do when this film first came out due to the fact that it was shot in a single take. This fact certainly adds a bit of "whoa!" factor to a film that is already impressively large in scale.

Even without having been shot in a single go, the technical merit on display here is really extraordinary and noteworthy. Sweeping sequences in ballrooms with what looks like hundreds of lushly-costumed 18th century guests transition to quiet scenes in a modern art gallery and vice versa.

When it comes to the way that the film was shot, I was surprised on the impact that it had on me as a viewer. What struck me was not the length of each sequence or even an awareness that it was a single take. Instead I started to feel the absence of cuts or more traditional transitions. Different scenes have different energies or pace, so it's not overly samey, but at the same time the sense that you are constantly being pulled forward is an interesting one.

I do think that I would have gotten more out of this film if I had a better grasp on Russian history. Aside from the sequence around Tsar Nicholas and his children, there was little that I was familiar. I wouldn't say that it's essential, because you can still grasp the emotional heft of the scenes without knowing the full context, but I imagine it would add another layer of enjoyment for those more in the know.

A really lovely film that is much more than a gimmick, and an example of how something that seems like a gimmick actually ends up in service of the film and its story.

That's one of the first foreign films I fell in love with when I began growing interested in film. I should revisit it someday to see how well it holds up for me.
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Watch the Trailer


I was hoping to dislike everything about this film, seemed so pretentious to begin with, just like Nomadland. I thought this was going to be Fern selling the van and buying a remote cabin in some mountain, which is kind of the story of this movie. They should all learn from Debra Granik, her movies are simply showing something, never pitching an idea or lifestyle.
...

Starring a female, and with a female director, it's surprising that it didn't garner an Oscar nomination!!...





2001: A Space Odyssey

Only just got around to watching it. It blows my mind that it was made in the 60s and it still holds up today. I can only imagine what people thought seeing it in the cinemas.

9/10



ᱬWanda Maximoff-Scarlet WitchᱬElizabeth Olesnᱬ
i dont care what people think, to me i really loved the series, its so hilarious and its soo good

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https://youtu.be/M-7QBR6hugc Wanda Maximoff-Scarlet Witch -Elizabeth Olsen
https://youtu.be/78oLEoy5Npo Natasha Romanoff-Black Widow-Scarlett Johansson
https://youtu.be/0LXhnd-CMrQ Agatha Harkness-Kathryn Hahn
https://youtu.be/4E880wNeB2g Yelena Belova-
Florence Pugh
https://youtu.be/V8BhIsWTGUI Clint Barton-Hawkeye-Jeremy Renner
https://youtu.be/Zy66zOMkGsM Loki Lufeyson-Tom Hiddleston