Films and TV of the month: October

 

 

 


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Jaws (1975) (Steven Spielberg)

Rewatch. Action horror thriller by Spielberg at his peak with groundbreaking camerawork. John Williams’ iconic soundtrack enhances the suspense. There are reviewers who complain the shark looks fake (The thing kept malfunctioning and forced Spielberg to find creative ways to represent the monstrous fish) but I didn’t doubt the great white was a threat for a second and disagree with the naysayers. Apparently the behavior and appearance is not accurate although I’m not a shark expert so didn’t bother me.
Arguably the story could be a commentary on the greed of humans and the instinctive hunger of animals, I’m not sure. My favorite character is Quint (Robert Shaw) who plays an alcoholic obssessed shark hunter war veteran who more than likely is suffering a form of PTSD. Roy Scheider is also excellent as the local police chief who has his hands full during the beach season. Besides the action, my favorite scene was the “You Got City Hands Mr Hooper.” quarrel.
9/10

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dark Crystal (1982) (Jim Henson & Frank Oz)

Puppet-animated dark fantasy adventure film. The puppets are believable as living, breathing creatures, and I liked the detail and beauty of the art direction and practical sets. The vulture-like Skeksis are effective villains though the noises they made got on my nerves. The draining of the essence scenes and giant spiders were chilling for a kid’s movie. While a very impressive technical feat, the main characters lacked the personality of Jim Henson’s Muppets. If you love set design this is a must-see but don’t go in with high expectations for the story which is quite basic. I haven’t seen the new 10-episode Netflix reboot The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All Good Things (2010) (Andrew Jarecki)

Rewatch. True crime mystery. I don’t understand the hate, the critics complained the movie is “clichéd and frustratingly ambiguous” but how can a true story be wrong?! Probably my favorite Frank Langella performance, the way he coldly delivers the lines with his deep voice just gets to me. Kirsten Dunst’s character is kind and beautiful while Ryan Gosling plays a man haunted by his past. I was on the edge of my seat. Better than its reputation and with a bigger scope than simply a thrill ride, dealing with marriage, fathers and sons, compromises and dreams, and what is most important to us. Also directed by Jarecki, The Jinx (2015 miniseries) took another go at telling the story in a longer format, including interviews with Robert Durst.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) (S. Craig Zahler)

An 8/10  prison movie up until the last act. The violence was off-putting in the last 30 minutes, and that brings my score down. A macho film if ever there was one and just too dark to love. The story was quite slow yet compelling and with plenty of tension. I liked the one-liners and Vince Vaughn as anti-hero Bradley Thomas was great, different to his comedic roles. I had read the director’s horror western Bone Tomahawk (2015) contains batshit crazy violence so I guess that is the director’s trademark. I agree with letterboxd reviewer MajorMajor22 that it’s an “assured but tonally bizarre exploitation flick”
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Princ
ess Bride (1987) (Rob Reiner)
Rewatch. Charming, incredibly quotable, and with a great sense of humor, almost a perfect movie. The mediocre end credits song (the instrumental main theme is superior) and the princess not recognizing her boyfriend behind the mask are the only weaknesses I noticed.
9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Look Who’s Talking (1989) (Amy Heckerling)
From the writer of Clueless (1995) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Better than its 57% Rotten Tomatoe score. The “talking baby” protagonist is fun, voiced by Bruce Willis, Travolta dancing with Mikey is a sweet moment. Probably more innocent times, today, I don’t know if a mother (Kirstie Alley) would allow a NY taxi driver (John Travolta) she hardly knows to walk into her apartment. The movie has enough charm to outweigh the contrived elements. About a mother looking for a proper father for her child, the visions of her future are pretty funny. If you are a parent, a light-hearted comedy to check out.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Joker (2019) (Todd Phillips)

Joaquin Phoenix manages to put a fresh spin on the joker with his mannerisms and laughing at inappropriate moments, and the script does have some arresting quotes, even if the victim aspect feels a bit clichéd and manipulative, and the supporting cast is underdeveloped. Phoenix’s Joker differs from Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson with more innocence, pain, and humanity, and his performance deserves a higher rating than the film itself.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dolemite Is My Name (2019) (Craig Brewer)

Nice to see Eddie Murphy making a comeback and his performance is excellent, even if the constant foul language and vulgarity was a stumbling block. The soundtrack provided 70s funk discoveries such as Thank You by Sly & The Family Stone, Funky Stuff by Kool & The Gang, and Slippery When Wet by Commodores. Also features original music and songs/comedy routines performed by the cast.
While it isn’t a must to be familiar with comedy albums and Dolemite (1975), I suspect my enjoyment would have been higher if I had nostalgia for those. The funniest scene was when the group are reading aloud the reviews. The “permission from your warden”, ”buy your own food”, and “sex scene” were amusing too. The second half was funnier. I liked the friendship between Lady Reed and Rudy.
6/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

 

 

 

Films and TV of the month: September

 

 


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It (2017)
(Andy Muschietti)
More violent and profanity-filled compared to the 1990 TV mini-series. Bill Skarsgård is good although I find Tim Curry’s performance creepier. Surprisingly and maybe unintentionally, the bully with the mullet, Beverly’s dad, and the hypochondriac boy’s mum are scarier than Pennywise. In fact, the clown was only scary the first time I saw him in the iconic scene with the boy in the yellow rain coat. After that, it’s just more of the same from Pennywise. The kids were, like the mini-series, believable as friends. The story is effective enough that could have been a coming of age drama without any supernatural elements.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It Chapter Two (2019)
(Andy Muschietti)
Chapter 2 (in cinemas now) goes for a comedic horror approach and isn’t as scary as the 2017 film. Tonally a bit all over the place. I was never bored during the almost 3 hour running time, but lacked the sustained charm and cohesion of chapter 1. The story works better with children going on the adventure, it feels implausible (in both the 1990 mini-series and the 2019 film) that grown-ups are doing these things. The aspect that the group’s memories have faded since leaving town is interesting but not explored enough. The opening sequence is quite horrific and (as another reviewer wrote) actually has you hoping Pennywise will show up and deal with the situation.
An improvement on part 2 of the mini-series in terms of performances. But the only scare (aside from the aforementioned first scene) for me was when the girl goes under the seating during the baseball game, and she was not even an important character, and neither were those people in the opening. Stops being frightening when you know what to expect around the corner. My favorite moment had nothing to do with the plot when the camera zooms into a jigsaw puzzle. I imagine Stephen King’s novel left more mystery to the imagination as CGI monsters have little to no effect on me. I wish some of these special effects had been left on the cutting room floor, and instead the filmmakers had given a higher priority to character interactions. There’s an obvious cameo in the used goods shop while Brandon Crane from the 1990 mini-series makes a brief appearance at a company meeting, and Peter Bogdanovich plays a director on a film set. To sum up, entertaining and well paced for such a long movie, and with a few emotional moments, but unfortunately the scares are lacking.
6/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Despicable Me (2010) 

Should have watched it sooner. Funny, sweet, and imaginative. Suitable for all ages and with memorable characters. The songs don’t overpower the entertaining story though you have to suspend your disbelief at times, as the rocket building, for instance, was unrealistic. The scene with the puppet book may make you cry. Has since been turned into a trilogy, plus a spin-off movie involving the minions.
8.5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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In Fabric (2018) (Peter Strickland)

Recommended by dbmoviesblog. A visually-driven UK horror about a red dress, and similar to the director’s neo-giallo Berberian Sound Studio (2012) it looks and sounds like was made in the 1970s. I was into the atmosphere and dream-like strangeness. The female sales assistant in the clothing store speaks in a seductive language that fascinated and the story has a way of putting someone under a spell.
The film is in two distinct halves, and bizarrely funny moments are sprinkled throughout. In the first half, a single mother lives with her son who brings a new girlfriend home, while later on a washing machine repair man got more than he bargained for.
My rating is slightly brought down by Strickland’s inability to resist repeating things such as the same hilarious joke 3-4 times in the space of 30 minutes.
Overall, a bit too much repetition, but I loved being in this world, and loved that Strickland withholds information and doesn’t force-feed you the answers. Definitely a movie to watch when it’s dark outside.
Mark Kermode described In Fabric as a “consumerist satire”, comparing it to TV-movie I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990) which is based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1937 novella of the same name.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Best Offer (2013) (Giuseppe Tornatore)

Won several awards in its native Italy. By the director of Cinema Paradiso (1988). Beautiful score by Morricone and impressive set designs. The characters and Hitchcockian mystery were compelling. Geoffrey Rush is good as the art auctioneer even if the age gap between him and the woman was uncomfortable. The twist is clever but makes me like the story less. The anxiety/phobia theme was handled well though kind of got brushed aside by the time we reach the finale. While has been accused for being predictable, I didn’t have that experience at all.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)
(Arthur Hiller)
Finally a comedy that doesn’t just try to be funny but actually is funny, particularly during the first hour. It helps you get to care about them. The last third is not as effective but I want to watch the duos other comedies.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Booksmart (2019) (Olivia Wilde)
The movie has nothing to do with books. In fact it’s about freeing yourself from bookish things. A buzzed about coming of age comedy but it’s a bit overhyped. The two leads have good chemistry and it’s progressive for the LGBT aspect but I didn’t find it funny aside from the panda joke. They were annoying to listen to for an entire movie. Of the supporting characters, many were underwritten, the most interesting of them was the rich outsider guy with the flashy car.
The soundtrack is sporadically effective, especially Oh Baby by LCD Soundsystem when she is walking home from the party, the cover of Unchained Melody by Lykke Li during a sad moment, and the karaoke scene with Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know.
5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Ser du månen, Daniel (2019) (Niels Arden Oplev)

By the director of the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). Impactful story of the kidnapping of a Danish photographer by terrorists in Syria. Based on a true story, so you can’t really knock it for being predictable. One of those movies where you think thank god my family is safe and our problems are trivial compared to the horrors going on in other places in the world. Told as a thriller so never dull, yet a painful ordeal and made me feel worse off than before. So I can’t recommend unless you are particularly interested in terrorism. Asks the question if handing over ransom money is an option as you are funding the terrorism, and if the Danish state ought to change its firm policy regarding paying ransoms. There were definitely tears among the audience.
6/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Queen: Days of Our Lives (2011) (documentary)
(Matt O’Casey)
By the numbers documentary covering Queen’s career and hits. Watchable but didn’t tell me much new. I didn’t know Death on Two Legs, the opener on A Night at the Opera, is about them being screwed over financially by the record company.
5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Evelyn
Evelyn (2018) (documentary) (Orlando von Einsiedel) (Netflix)

By Oscar-nominated filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel (Virunga, The White Helmets). A brave and personal documentary with the director and his family opening up about a suicide of a loved one. A memoir of who Evelyn was, family and friend dynamics, and what led him to take his life. Very sad, and therapeutic for them to go on this walk in the UK together, however also rips up in old wounds. If you have been in a similar situation could help you deal with the healing. I haven’t experienced these emotions, and found the film slow and only occasionally involving, such as the ice cream van scene, the black friend breaking down, and the moving poem. The family/friends cared about Evelyn deeply in the way we all want to be loved and I see it as an anti-suicide film that shows the years of hurt and uncertainty that are inflicted on those left behind. Yet you could question the ethics of sharing Evelyn’s personal information such as reading his suicide note aloud as the guy is not here to approve the content. An important film and mostly avoids becoming esoteric but failed to hold my full attention and the substance was too clichéd. Didn’t reveal enough about Evelyn to really make me invested in his story, only hinting at who he was. A lot of crying by the relatives.
5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Films and TV of the month: August

 

 

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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) (Robert Ellis Miller)

Watched with a friend and we both agreed Alan Arkin was amazing as the deaf-mute John Singer. I’m glad Arkin was at least nominated for an Academy Award for lead actor. Evident these were more innocent times, I doubt parents today would allow their kids to hang out and hold hands with a lodger they hardly know. Chuck McCann as Mr. Antonapoulos made an impression in a performance that is both funny and emotive despite fewer scenes compared to the book. Sondra Locke and Percy Rodrigues are also memorable.
Updates the novel’s small-town Southern setting from the Depression era to contemporary 1960s. I actually didn’t even realize about the change of decade until I read the wikipedia afterwards. Didn’t feel very 60s (apart from the race related issues) but I still connected with the characters. There’s sadness due to poverty, racism, and disability yet also moments of joy. A story that champions the outsider and is elevated by the acting. 
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Winter’s Bone (2010) (Debra Granik)

Neo noir mystery set in in the rural Ozarks of Missouri. The authentic dialect adds to the realism yet at times I found hard to understand. On rewatch, subtitles were a big help. Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Words travels faster in this small town than a Facebook update. The weakest aspect is the ending but the story is good with a sense of danger and things at stake. Lawrence delivers arguably a career best performance, immersing herself and becomes the character. John Hawkes is also great as her unpredictable uncle Teardrop.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Naked (1993) (Mike Leigh)

Probably the filmmaker’s bleakest and most disturbing film although does have a dark wit. A brave move to have your characters unlikeable.
Johnny (David Thewlis pictured above) is from Manchester and wandering the streets of London, with a cynical attitude, observing and conversing with those he meets, at a friend’s house, a fellow on the street who can’t find his girlfriend Maggie, a security guard in an empty building, an older woman, a waitress, a man hanging up posters.
Johnny can’t stop talking but the most important things about his past remain hidden. A lonely, self-destructive pseudo-intellectual who appears smart at first encounter but his assumption about 666 on bar codes suggests he’s a conspiracy theorist. He seems to be a man running away from his problems.
The other male character Jeremy (Greg Cruttwell) is even more unlikeable, a yuppie-type landlord who derives pleasure from humiliating women. Doesn’t address why he has become this way but I sensed there are reasons.
I prefer Leigh’s other work though I appreciate the performances and screenplay, you rarely find dialogue of this calbre in films anymore. I find the rapid-fire conversations are easier to follow with subtitles.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 


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Miami Vice (2006) (Michael Mann)

Is it a case of false advertising? Has very little in common with the tv show which took place in the 1980s. The movie seems to be set in the present and is darker, colder and more violent. Of course, if Mann had gone too far in the nostalgia direction and took no chances I probably would be complaining about that instead!
Throws you straight into the action. Lacks the charm and chemistry of the tv series. You can admire the visual poetry such as the speed boat sequence or beautiful shots of the city at night. The action scenes have suspense, especially the opening in the nightclub, but there arn’t enough of them.
Male viewers wanted to be Crockett or Tubbs in the tv series. Sadly I just didn’t care about anyone in the film. Michael Mann’s Collateral (2004) (which I love) took the time to introduce the characters and is better off for it. I’ve read defenses of the Miami Vice reboot by Alex Withrow at And So It Begins, by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at The AV Club, and by Steven Hyden at Uproxx. Could be I just missed the little moments that makes the movie special. Scenes are played out with little to no context which will divide audiences. A critic wrote that “the pretense that anyone has control over their lives is quickly dispensed” and the film is about chaos.
4/10

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Liar Liar (1997) (Tom Shadyac)

Jim Carrey pulls off over the top moves but not as rewatchable as other comedies by the actor. The boy might have the best joke in the opening scene when he talks about his dad as a liar/lawyer. Overly sentimental and predictable story. The jokes are juvenile and probably best suited to a young audience.
5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Descendants (2011) (Alexander Payne)
Rewatch, and it’s not growing on me. Disappointing compared to Payne’s previous films Sideways and About Schmidt. Clooney plays himself and with a better actor, who knows if the movie might have been elevated. The story is low-key and lacks memorable moments. Payne spices things up with the Sid character but when the family are together it’s pretty humdrum. There’s a good performance by Shailene Woodley and the theme of different people having different opinions about the wife was intriguing. But not enough to save the film. Without Jim Taylor as co-screenwriter the magic isn’t there. Kudos for adapting and promoting contemporary Hawaiian literature but just didn’t grab me. Surely there are stronger novels from the region to adapt? I haven’t read the book and maybe this one is better on the page. If it wasn’t for Payne, I doubt I would even have finished the movie. I really wanted to connect but unfortunately The Descendants left me unmoved.
Favorite quote: “What is it that makes the women in my life want to destroy themselves? Elizabeth with her motorcycles, speedboats, and drinking. Alexandra with her drugs and older guys”.
4/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Easy A (2010) (Will Gluck)

Goes for a John Hughes approach with life lessons about rumors, reputation, naivety, and how words once said cannot be unsaid. The “pocketful of sunshine” scene is fun and I liked the scenes with Olive’s parents which are sweet. But for much of the running time, I felt I was watching performers and not actual people.
6/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) (Quentin Tarantino)
Quentin Tarantino continues his tendency to bask in over-the-top violence, yet his latest is arguably the director’s most melancholy, nostalgic, and compassionate film to date, a love letter to 1969. It’s also quite moving in some scenes. The most vibrant sequences are when Cliff Booth goes to the Manson ranch and the ending. Although in contrast to the energetic trailer, the movie is quite slow, indulgent, and in need of an editor. Cliff Booth is one of the most ambiguous characters Tarantino has penned and Brad Pitt may finally win an acting oscar. Fantastic late 60s soundtrack, brilliant performances, and the non-CGI set design transports you back to those times. 
Full review
7-8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Films and TV of the month: June & July

 

 

 

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Midsommar (2019) (Ari Aster)
Managed to get under my skin by building an unsettling mood. The subject matter in the pre-credits sequence felt rehashy from Aster’s previous film Hereditary (2018).
Puts you in the shoes of the American guests and I had the feeling I was there at the Swedish camp with them. To be honest, a relief when was finally over, a harrowing watch. A feel-bad folk horror movie, not a personal favorite, though I appreciate when a filmmaker can bring out an impactful reaction. Many modern movies are forgettable but this one hit me hard. Whether I liked that reaction I’m still unsure about. Was I even supposed to enjoy spending time with the pagan cult? I assume the intension was to make an anti-cult movie in the vein of Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011).
A reviewer for USAtoday wrote: “What’s terrifying is how real this film feels” and was certainly more realistic than Hereditary. Florence Pugh is a rising star and delivers the best performance in the film. Not knowing Dani’s sister’s motivation adds to the eeriness and sense of being lost. The most powerful scene is when Dani screams with the group. You can kind of guess where the story is heading yet there are surprises along the way. Has been advertised as a horror movie that scares even though takes place in daylight, and having now seen it that is an accurate assessment.
I must have missed the mention of bipolar disorder when I watched. Apparently a character suffers from this and groups have raised concerns about the link between violence and mental illness.
I wonder how much sleep deprevasion from the daylight plus being in a communal bedroom with crying babies affected the characters’ decision making. Some took sleeping pills, others did not.
?/10

 

 

 

 

 


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Metropolitan (1990) (Whit Stillman)
Debut feature by the American auteur. Set in New York amongst a group of upper-class college friends who are joined by an outsider. The strength of Metropolitan is the witty, rich, rewatchable dialogue. It feels like a labour of love. The performances and vocal deliveries are mostly deadpan, giving the impression of artificiality with the writer/director pulling the strings and the actors as puppets. The music and outfits are posh. The story may be satirizing the lifestyle but if so it’s done tastefully without making them into clowns. A group disbanding is something many experience when they are young.
The deadpan style is not dissimilar to other indie directors such as Hal Hartley, Wes Anderson and Aki Kaurismäki, although Stillman is arguably the most intellectual of these filmmakers.
Now I understand the name of Dan’s blog Public Transportation Snob, a quote from the movie.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

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Live in Concert: Richard Pryor (1979)
Listed as #1 on Rolling Stone’s top 25 Best Stand-Up Specials. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Not as funny as I had hoped. A few of the sketches, especially about the animals, brought a smile to my face, and the physical comedy is fun. A lot of profanity. Feels very personal as Pryor draws from his own life such as a heart attack, boxing, a funeral, beatings as a child, and so on. I guess it’s therapeutic for him (and the audience) to deal with these issues through comedy. By today’s standards it isn’t a groundbreaking show but back then the style was edgy and new.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An American Tail (1986) (Don Bluth)

Rewatch. The first film I remember watching in the cinema as a child. Was the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film at the time. The main characters are mice and cats. Clearly with kids in mind but has plenty of heart and beautiful animation. The song “There are no cats in America” is catchy. The weakness is the predictable story and naiveness of the Mousekewitz family. The title of the film and the names of the characters are sweet. The themes about prejudice, fighting for freedom, and hope are overused in Hollywood yet timeless. My favorite of the characters is probably Tiger voiced vividly by Dom DeLuise. Tiger sings the inspiring “A Duo” with the main character Fievel. Another stand out is “Somewhere Out There” which is sort of a sister song to the Wizard of Oz’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Several images will stay with me such as the devilish ocean, the moon, and the poster walking on the bridge.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Road to Perdition (2002) (Sam Mendes)

Takes place during the Great Depression. Nice cinematography which Conrad L. Hall won an oscar for. A decent watch although the characters are too bland and feel like gangster stereotypes. Based on a graphic novel and has been compared to a Greek tragedy because of the theme of fathers and sons. Basically a warning (see the title) about a life in crime.
6/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Leopard (1963) (Luchino Visconti)

Historical period drama which won the Palme d’Or in 1963. I’ve liked other Visconti films. The Leopard was too slow and lacking a compelling story. I guess I prefer his smaller productions such as White Nights (1957) and Obsession (1943).
Set in Sicily in 1860, we hear about relationship issues, political corruption, and more. The ballroom sequence looks impressive but ultimately overstays its welcome. There’s an attempt to juxtaposition the sadness of Lancaster’s character with the joy of the party but it felt contrived as Lancaster hadn’t looked despondent beforehand. There seemed to be a passing of the torch to the next generation (probably why he was sad) which I found pretty vague. An explanation of the title The Leopard tries to tie things up. I watched the three hour Italian-language version.
5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Arrival (2016) (Denis Villeneuve)

Isn’t as good as I remembered. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner play it well and the language aspects were handled believably. The slow build-up heading to the spacecraft becomes tedious rather than suspenseful, especially when you’ve seen it before and know what to expect. The last act does make you think about your own life but felt under-explored and ends just when it started getting psychologically and philosophically interesting.
On rewatch I knew the twist but the opening scene still made no sense as takes place before she even visits the spacecraft. Perhaps the prologue is not meant to literally happen before the arrival but simply be a teaser of later events in the film. Kind of a modern Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (documentary) (2005) (Martin Scorsese)

There’s a dispute over who discovered Bob Dylan, was it John Hammond at CBS or Artie Mogull who claims he made the singer popular. Albert Grossman is said to have brought Dylan’s music to a wider audience.
A story about Dylan stealing Woody Guthrie records and the owner coming after him has an almost mythical quality.
The funniest scene has Dylan rearranging Pet Shop signs into nonsense and I also realized the opening sequence from the Watchmen movie was ripped off from this documentary.
Joan Baez talks about a night when a motel wouldn’t give Dylan a room because he looked scruffy and she persuaded them to let him stay which Baez argues led that night to him writing “When the Ship Comes In” about an injustice.
Goes into the political relevance of songs like “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” which some linked to atomic rain and in Dylan’s own words is about something bad is going to happen.
“Only a Pawn in their Game” could be interpreted as a song for the civil rights movement and the killing of Medgar Evers.
Dylan is perceived as a leftwing folk singer in the vein of Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie, carrying on their tradition. But he’s a contradictory man in the 1960s, saying in an interview all his songs are protest sings while also a discomfort with being boxed in as a topical political voice in his speech at the Tom Paine award ceremony.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Climate Change – The Facts (2019) (60 min BBC documentary)
Narrated by David Attenborough, the focus is CO2 and global warming. Nearly a third of CO2 admissions are caused by deforestation, fields used for cattle or clearing rainforests to make room for huge palm oil plantations. Palm oil is in many products we buy (margarine, bread, soaps, shampoo, chocolates, ice cream).
Provides disturbing predictions. Methan gas can cause an acceleration of global warming as it’s 21x more powerful than CO2 (this is one of the so-called ”tipping points”). There are tons of frozen lakes in the arctic which could release methan if they melt. But not all bad news, Iceland have one of the world’s first carbon collectors.
Sea level has risen by about 20cm in the last 100 years which so far affects Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Jean Charles, Louisiana in the US which loses a football field every 45 min and citizens become so-called climate refugees. By end of 21st century our planet will potentially be between 3-6 degrees warmer. 600 million live in costal areas that are less than 10m above sea level. If we don’t do anything, we could be looking at 80cm to 1m rise of sea level.
James Hansen warned Congress in 1988 that he was 99% sure the increase in carbondioxid had led to warmer temperatures than any time in measured history. The fossil fuel companies for oil and gas are some of the most profitable businesses in human history and didn’t want a change.
How we can make a difference in our own lives:
-Eat everything we buy, less waste.
-Avoid air-freighted food which is 100x more impactful to climate change than putting it on a boat.
-Insulate our homes which wastes less heat.
-Reduce meat and dairy consumption, especially beef and lamb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stranger Things, season 3 (2019) (Duffer brothers)
Episode 1 started out very dark but the mood soon brightens. The third season has a few of these tonal shifts, in another moment a group are mowed down with a machine gun, the next the teenagers are listening to music in a car.
The bickering between Steve and Robin (you can buy the above outfits) worked so well. New or expanded characters in season 3 include Priah Ferguson(she has a bunch of funny lines) and Maya Hawke (I didn’t know Ethan Hawke and Urma Thurman’s had a daughter, her voice is similar to Thurman’s).
We see the gang sneaking into the cinema and the radio transmission stuff was entertaining. Sweet that Dustin has a girlfriend off screen. Hopper the sheriff I found annoying in the home dispute with Eleven and Mike but once Hopper goes on the adventure with Joyce I was hooked. Will is dealing with his friends maturing while he still enjoys kid’s games, the sadness of leaving your childhood behind is affecting but gets a bit forgotten about by the final episodes. Billy is admired by the pool by the females and he is given a more substantial role than before. Surprised Cary Elwes was the major although the creators have picked actors from iconic 80s movies before such as Winona Ryder, Matthew Modine and Sean Astin.
Hopper’s letter in the final episode is really moving and that is my favorite scene. Steve and Dustin reuniting (they became friends in S2) is heart-warming and funny. The quintessential 80s moments are Steve and Dustin spying in the mall with Things Can Only Get Better by Howard Jones (1985) on the loud speaker, and the upbeat/synthy Starcourt and Madonna’s Material Girl used when Eleven and Max have fun in the mall’s shopping area. All in all, season 3 is light-hearted, enjoyable escapism.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Killing Michael Jackson (2019) (
45 min documentary)
Documentary that revisits the final days of the pop singers life, with new interviews of the three detectives who were involved in the initial investigation. The blame for his death is not limited to only the doctor, the singer was secretly taking other drugs while on propofol and crucially did not inform his doctor about this. Doctor Conrad Murray also behaved irresponsibly by not having a defibrillator at the house, not dialling 911 immediately, and using propofol outside a hospital environment. Doesn’t go into the suicide theory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Films of the month: May + UK holiday

 

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My trip to the UK went well, though the journey out was unintentionally stressful as power in my house decided to malfunction, a thunder storm switched off the electricity, so I had to rush to the airport once I had cleaned up the water from the freezer and figured out the issue.

Very lucky with the weather as was dry and 20 degrees for all four days in England. The UK is known for rainy weather and there wasn’t any! On our first day we saw the historical Roman Villa in Bignor, West Sussex. Very quiet place in the middle of nowhere. The main attraction was a well-preserved mosaic floor. You can see the long hall in the image below. A small part of the flooring looked as if it had reacted badly to the air and humidity. The woman in the ticket office said they were aware of this and were protecting the rest with some kind of special detergent. The four heads (below) represent the four seasons, around a head of Medusa. The third image depicts winter. The area offered good conditions for agriculture for the Romans.

 

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After lunch, drove to the south coast to Bognor Regis. We played crazy golf near the Pier and walked by the sea. At the end of the Pier there were a bunch of love locks/padlocks attached, a sweet tradition. Bognor is a seaside town that has stayed almost the same for decades and frozen in time. Near the mini-golf course, there was a fortune teller in a small hut, I felt sorry for her as nobody looked interested in her business.

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Next day, I had planned a trip to London. Decided to go at non-peak times (arriving 11am and leaving after 7.30pm) to save on the price of the train ticket. My companion and I decided on a day travel card which besides the train allows unlimited use of the underground and buses in the city.

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We had booked a guided tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. There wasn’t a whole lot to “tour” but the guide was friendly, well-informed, and had a sense of humor. The most surprising was her informal clothes as she looked like a punk in her spare time. We concluded the Globe visit by sitting in on a rehearsal of The Merry Wives of Windsor with the actors pulling a heavy basket down some steps. Good acting as the basket was likely empty.

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Heading over the Millennium Bridge, took the tube from St Paul’s Underground to Notting Hill Gate. From there, a short tube ride to Kensington where I had booked tickets for the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Design Museum. Unexpectedly, the layout was thematic and non-chronological. You view the exhibits and there are audio and video clips. Not the most inventive or interactive exhibition. I expected a bit more considering the 5 star reviews, but I did get to see my first Oscar statuette in person which was cool. The only Academy Award Kubrick won was for special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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concept drawings for A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
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masks from Eyes Wide Shut
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costumes from Barry Lyndon
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Hal 9000 computer

 

 

Other exhibits included the maze, typewriter and Kubrick’s personal copy of Stephen King’s The Shining with notes. The milk bar and orange vehicle from Clockwork Orange, futuristic chairs, an ape suit, and Kubrick’s letter to Arthur C. Clarke where he airs his enthusiasm for collaborating on an upcoming 1968 space movie.

Interestingly, also included was material about Kubrick’s unfinished films (Napoleon, Aryan Papers). In the upstairs area of the museum there were photos from Kubrick’s pre-movie days when he was a street photographer. The gift shop in the Design Museum was every Kubrick fan’s wet dream! I bought a pin with a Hal9000 quote for £1.

I didn’t learn a ton but fun to see these movie props up close. The concept art was the most fascinating to me. What I took away from the exhibition is how Kubrick managed to collaborate with some very talented people such as Ken Adam. His war room design is an amazing set which is displayed in miniature (see below) while the likes of Roy Carnon, Harry Lange, and Richard McKenna were responsible for concept drawings on 2001: A Space Odyssey, the circular space ship, ape landscape (see both below) . These talented men don’t always get the credit they deserve so was nice they got to have their concepts displayed with their names attached. Sure, Kubrick is the director, but he needed a team.

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By the time we finished our legs were pretty tired from standing, so went to a restaurant nearby on Kensington High St called Nandos (a South African chain). Known for their chicken, I bought a veggie burger. I like their special chilli sauce which you could add yourself from a bottle.
A number of London bookshops stay open until 9 or 10 in the evening so that gave us time to visit Foyles though I thought the Book & Comic Exchange in Notting Hill had more charm with second hand items and dust balls on the floor. Foyles is great for selection and was once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest bookshop. There wasn’t time to visit Fopp but hopefully next time. On this holiday, I only had a day in London. Below are the books/dvds/magazines I bought. Apropos the blog banner image, I was tempted to go for an Abbey Road Beatles T-shirt in a shop window.

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The following day, a trip to Battle (yes a town called Battle), near Hastings. Allegedly the site of the famous battle of Hastings in 1066. The museum is pretty small but you can see the Abby ruins which William the Conqueror constructed. Apparently William also was responsible for having the Tower of London built, and these structures helped cement his legacy. The battle field in Battle (there is dispute as to where it actually is) sometimes features mock reenactments.

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The battle field by the Abby ruins

Also visited Box Hill (named after the boxwood plant) and Denbies Wine Estate. They use heaters in the winter to keep the vineyard from becoming too cold. Bought a bottle of Zigzag red wine costing £11. Wasn’t super impressed by the taste and maybe I’m hard to please. You probably need to spend double or triple for quality wine. The zig zag name is (as said on the bottle) derived from the winding road at nearby Box Hill, used by cyclists during the 2012 Olympics. I became slightly car sick driving up! Took time to see the graveyard where my grandparents are buried, and drove to Beachy Head and saw the impressive view of the sea. I did take pictures of people as well, I just prefer to keep those private and not have them turn up in google searches.

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Films:

 

 

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Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Rewatch. Based on the Italian director’s own life, a love letter to the old movie houses, and the joy of watching cinema with an audience, before the era of TV. A touching story with an ending that can bring a tear to your eye. The parts set during childhood are very charming, especially the unforgettable warm friendship between the boy and his substitute father. The shorter version makes a bigger impact emotionally. It’s sentimental but not in an off-putting way.
9/10

 

 

 

 

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Django (1966) (Sergio Corbucci)

Rewatch. Sergio Corbucci’s westerns inspired Tarantino. The death count is pretty high and the violence extreme, but you keep watching, to find out what will happen next. The suspenseful story contains striking visuals, an enigmatic lead character, and the main theme is fantastic. There’s a sense of danger in that anyone could die at any moment. Everything is so on point that I barely noticed the iffy dubbing.
9/10

 

 

 

 

 

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Me and My Kid Brother (aka Mig og Min Lillebror) (1967)

Goofy yet sweet. Lovable characters with Dirch Passer perfectly cast as the clumsy younger brother. I wouldn’t be surprised if the role was written specifically with him in mind. The parts filmed in Copenhagen were the funniest where the duo are out of their depth, stumbling around. The sort of Danish comedy that doesn’t get made anymore. There’s also a sadness, intended or not, about the ending on the fictional island of Bomø. Two sequels exist, continuing the adventures of the brothers.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome