Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:12 pm

Seen the ones in red...
Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:44 pm
A film with the number 12 (Twelve, Twelfth, Dozen, etc.) in its title: 12 Angry Men (the 1997 remake)
The last film from any deceased director you like: L'Argent
The last Best Picture winner you haven't seen: It's Green Book for me
A film with a title that starts with the letters W, X, Y or Z: Young Frankenstein
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #12 (i.e. 12, 112, 212): Unforgiven #127
A film from the 2010s: Burning
A TV film: American Movie
A Christmas or Holiday film: The Shop Around the Corner
A film with "Winter" in its title: Winter Light
A film from Fritz Lang (born December 5): The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
A film set in a mine or cave (National Miners Day, December 6): The Descent
A film featuring a horse prominently (National Horse Day, December 13): The Black Stallion
A film about children or featuring them prominently (Int'l Children's Day, December 13): The Young and the Damned
I've seen both 12 Angry Men films, although it has been a while since I saw that TV remake.

Robert Bresson is a total blind-spot for me, so L'Argent might be a good option.

Can you believe I started Young Frankenstein several years ago and for some reason, never finished it? Yeah, I know *hides head in shame*
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:16 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:58 pm
These are the categories for December!

Quick question for TV. Would Netflix/Amazon Prime count as TV (if it didn't go into theaters)?
Sorry for not answering before, but yeah. I might consider watching some Netflix/Amazon films as well.
Apex Predator wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:58 pm
A film with the number 12 (Twelve, Twelfth, Dozen, etc.) in its title: 12 Angry Men (1957)
The last film from any deceased director you like: The Osterman Weekend (1982), although I might go with Imitation of Life (1959) again.
The last Best Picture winner you haven't seen: Green Book (2019)
A film with a title that starts with the letters W, X, Y or Z: Zodiac (2007), Zapped (2014), You Get Me (2017), XXX: State of the Union (2005)
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #12 (i.e. 12, 112, 212): Downfall (2004)
A film from the 2010s: Should have enough options. Might go Knives Out or The Irishman (2019)
A TV film: ???
A Christmas or Holiday film: The Christmas Chronicles (2018), A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018), The Grinch (2018), Holiday in the Wild (2019), Home for the Holidays (1995), It's a Wonderful Life (1946/rewatch), A Christmas Cruise (2017), Holiday Inn (1942)
A film with "Winter" in its title: Winter on Fire (2015), Winter Kills (1979), Winter's Bone (2010/rewatch), After Winter, Spring (2015), Dead of Winter (1987), Warren Miller's Endless Winter (1995)
A film from Fritz Lang (born December 5): Tough film noir choice here: Scarlet Street (1945) or The Big Heat (1952)
A film featuring Ninjas (Int'l Ninja Day, December 5): Ninja Assassin (2009), TMNT (2007), Five Elements Ninjas (1982), Ninja Apocalypse (2014)
A film from Finland (Independence Day, December 6): Devil's Bride (2016), Concrete Night (2014), Lapland Odyssey (2010), Heavy Trip (2018), A Moment in the Reeds (2017)
A film set in a mine or cave (National Miners Day, December 6): Cave (2016), Time Trap (2018), Finding Altamira (2016), The 7 (2012), The Last Descent (2016)
A film featuring a horse prominently (National Horse Day, December 13): Walk Ride Rodeo (2019), Midnight Stallion (2012), A Gift Horse (2015), Painted Horses (2017)
A film about children or featuring them prominently (Int'l Children's Day, December 13): Monster House (2006)
Seen the ones in red. I fully recommend Monster House, which I enjoyed a whole lot. I think it is deeper than your average children film, but it's also a lot of fun.

Also, if you haven't seen Zodiac, do give some priority to that. The film is excellent.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Jinnistan » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:19 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:12 pm
Can you believe I started Young Frankenstein several years ago and for some reason, never finished it? Yeah, I know *hides head in shame*
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:26 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:07 am
A film with the number 12 (Twelve, Twelfth, Dozen, etc.) in its title: Short Term 12 is on Amazon Prime and I think it's criminally underseen. The cast is fantastic (anchored by an amazing performance by Brie Larson, but also including Rami Malek, LaKeith Stanfield, John Gallagher, and Stephanie Beatriz), the story is powerful. I'm going to keep recommending this one until you all watch it, darn it!!

The last film from any deceased director you like: I'm going to watch The Man in the Moon. I would highly recommend White Dog (if you can find it!). I'll also point out that Bunuel's That Obscure Object of Desire is available on Prime.

The last Best Picture winner you haven't seen: Oh, barf. It's Green Book for me. I do not want to pay $7 to rent it, so here's hoping the library has it!

A film with a title that starts with the letters W, X, Y or Z: All of these are on Prime: Yumeji, Young Adult, You Were Never Really Here (THIS ONE IS SO GOOD!), X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes, Witness for the Prosecution, Wake in Fright

A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #12 (i.e. 12, 112, 212): I mean, Forrest Gump, To Kill a Mockingbird, or Before Sunrise. I actually haven't seen the latter, so I'll try to track it down.

A film from the 2010s: All on Prime: Samsara, Blood Brother, The Handmaiden, Short Term 12, Pride, The Man from Nowhere (a personal favorite!), I am Not Your Negro, The Barkley Marathons, The Florida Project, The Invisible War, Mud, Chef, Side Effects, First Reformed, Kings of Summer, If I Want to Whistle I Whistle, Joe, The Fits, Christmas Again, Marjorie Prime, The Spy Who Dumped Me, The Hatred

A TV film: Temple Grandin, Citizen X (this movie is great!), There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane, When Billie Beat Bobby

A Christmas or Holiday film: Prancer, Jack Frost (the horror one, good times!), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, A Child's Christmas in Wales, The Merry Gentleman, Christmas Again, Big Business (Laurel and Hardy short), Christmas Time (2017)

A film with "Winter" in its title: Dead of Winter, Winter's Bone

A film from Fritz Lang (born December 5): Scarlet Street and You Only Live Once are both on Prime. I haven't seen the latter.

A film featuring Ninjas (Int'l Ninja Day, December 5): According to the IMDb nothing ninja-related that I've seen is on Prime. I might watch Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (I like Scott Adkins) or Five Elements Ninjas

A film from Finland (Independence Day, December 6): Aside from Rare Exports, I can't find much for free.

A film set in a mine or cave (National Miners Day, December 6): My Bloody Valentine, The Strangeness

A film featuring a horse prominently (National Horse Day, December 13): Town Called Panic, Unbranded, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (not free)

A film about children or featuring them prominently (Int'l Children's Day, December 13): Paperhouse, The Florida Project, Prancer, 4 Little Girls, Valentine Road, Blood Brother
Seen the ones in red... considering the snoozefest I saw for the #12, I should've heeded your advice and gone Short Term 12 :D

Anyway, I agree about You Were Never Really Here. Really good film.

Re: White Dog, Samuel Fuller is yet another blind-spot for me, so I'll keep it in consideration. White Dog is not his last film, though.

As for Green Book, believe me, I'm groaning as well :D Have no desire to watch it, but that's the game ;)

I might take you up on one of those "Christmas/Holiday" goodies, though.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:30 pm

These are some of the ones I'm leaning towards...

A film with a title that starts with the letters W, X, Y or Z: X-Men: First Class
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #12 (i.e. 12, 112, 212): It's Christmas, and it's time for my annual Die Hard rewatch
A film from the 2010s: Star Wars: Episode IX, of course
A film from Fritz Lang: Ministry of Fear maybe? I've only seen M and Metropolis so I have a lot of options.
A film featuring a horse prominently: I think War Horse is on Netflix
A film about children or featuring them prominently: I've been postponing a rewatch of Au Revoir les Enfants, so that's an option.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:58 am

Thief wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:26 pm
Re: White Dog, Samuel Fuller is yet another blind-spot for me, so I'll keep it in consideration. White Dog is not his last film, though.
Whups. It was on an online list I found called Great Directors, Great Last Films. I guess they included it because his cut of the film wasn't actually released until 1997?
Apex Predator wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:45 pm
I liked this one a bit better than you did.

But there was one moment where it got to be too silly/stupid for its own good and it was the scene with the bus driver.
So the bus driver bit was too silly for you, but "We're going to fly a bomb into that tornado to equalize it" passed muster?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:41 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:07 am

A film set in a mine or cave (National Miners Day, December 6): My Bloody Valentine, The Strangeness
Hey Tak. I found two Strangeness films dealing with mines/caves: one from 1985, and another from 2012 (also titled The Hole). Which one were you referring to?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:16 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:16 pm
Sorry for not answering before, but yeah. I might consider watching some Netflix/Amazon films as well.



Seen the ones in red. I fully recommend Monster House, which I enjoyed a whole lot. I think it is deeper than your average children film, but it's also a lot of fun.

Also, if you haven't seen Zodiac, do give some priority to that. The film is excellent.
That's good news on Monster House. I've seen bits and pieces over the last few years working in the one area in town that has an indoor playground and kids movie playing.

Also, I do plan on seeing Zodiac. It's been one of those I've put off for forever. But since I do consider myself a Fincher fan, it's definitely a must see.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:17 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:12 pm
Can you believe I started Young Frankenstein several years ago and for some reason, never finished it? Yeah, I know *hides head in shame*
I believe it holds up wonderfully well. You're in for a treat whenever you get around to seeing it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:26 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:58 am
So the bus driver bit was too silly for you, but "We're going to fly a bomb into that tornado to equalize it" passed muster?
Saw the same list, but yeah, I haven't seen any of his so that's a no-go for me this time.

As for Sharknado, you have to realize that if it was a serious film that was meant to be taken seriously, I'd have called BS on it.

But it's not. It's just a silly little film about sharks being swept up in a tornado.

Considering they were in water, wouldn't that be a water spout?

So this should be called Sharkspout. Which just doesn't have the clever ring in its title that Asylum films tend to have.

None of it is supposed to be taken seriously. They may present it with a straight face, but I doubt they have scientific experts that are used to vouch the accuracy of the movie and its science.

The film is at its best when it riffs off of serious information that makes zero sense but everyone plays it with a straight face. Which is why the bus driver scene fell flat. He exists to survive long enough to come up with a cheesy line
Just before he meets his "ironic" end.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Dec 08, 2019 3:20 am

Thief wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:41 pm
Hey Tak. I found two Strangeness films dealing with mines/caves: one from 1985, and another from 2012 (also titled The Hole). Which one were you referring to?
The 80s one is the one that popped up free on Prime. I'm not able to find the 2012 one that you're referencing. Do you mean the Joe Dante film?
Apex Predator wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:26 pm
As for Sharknado, you have to realize that if it was a serious film that was meant to be taken seriously, I'd have called BS on it.

The film is at its best when it riffs off of serious information that makes zero sense but everyone plays it with a straight face. Which is why the bus driver scene fell flat. He exists to survive long enough to come up with a cheesy line
Well, mostly I was enjoying the idea that something in Sharknado was too silly for someone.

I agree that the bus driver (and in fact the whole sequence with the school bus) is a misstep. But I'm not sure it's that it's silly so much as that it's clearly filler with no stakes to the larger plot.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Dec 08, 2019 4:12 am

A film from the 2010s: Cop Car

Well, this was quite a bit darker than I was expecting!

Two boys (who look to be between 9 and 12) have decided to run away from home. We meet them as they walk through the rural Southwest, sharing a piece of beef jerky and practicing saying swear words. Among some trees they discover an abandoned cop car and decide to take it joyriding. Little do they know that the car belongs to the local Sheriff (Kevin Bacon) who left it briefly to cover up a crime. When he discovers the car missing, he must try to recover it without making anyone else aware of the theft.

This one starts out pretty light and comedic. When Bacon's sheriff discovers the car missing and goes high-tailing it across the fields, his run (and his practiced nonchalant call to the dispatcher) are borderline cartoonish. The same thing goes for the absurd joy the two boys take in their stolen vehicle--flashing the siren, ramming a gate, and wrapping each other up in caution tape.

It's all fun and games until they open the trunk.

Around the last 30 minutes, the film goes really, really dark. While I didn't mind the dark humor, per se, once the film goes in that direction it shifts the way that I regarded the characters.

The two boys, to put it nicely, are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. When the film is in its more comedic mode, this isn't that big of a problem. Yes, my heart fluttered as one of them looked down the barrel of a loaded gun trying to figure out why it wouldn't fire. But overall their childish ignorance comes off more winning (when a character comes and arms himself with two weapons, the boys sulkily muse "Why does he need BOTH guns?" *sigh* "He's a gun hog.").

Once things get more serious, though, I found their stupidity more annoying than amusing. It's not as funny when you realize, oh, wait, their idiocy might *actually* get someone killed.

This is a minor blip, though. Overall I thought that the movie was funny, and it moves along at a pretty good clip. Bacon's lethal buffoon makes for a great villain, and the two chief secondary characters add nicely to the narrative.

This one is free on Netflix.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sun Dec 08, 2019 10:10 pm

I have been playing catch-up:

Dr. Seuss's The Grinch (2018)
See a Christmas/Holiday movie

It's unnecessary considering the 30 minute short is still very good/great. But this lean and mean animated entry from the folks that brought you the Despicable Mes and the Secret Life of Pets is better than its garish, overblown 2000s live action Jim Carrey film.

In under 90 minutes, the story of how a loner grows to hate Christmas and comes to the decision of stealing it from the oblivious citizens of Whoville is told. But perhaps, his heart can be changed thanks to the efforts of Cindy Lou Who?

It feels like it gets the wacky, quirky citizens of Whoville more right than the mean-spirited ones in the 2000s movie. There's some amusing moments as he deals with the quirks of his scheme and trying to audition reindeer for his scheme. And it's hard not to get touched by the ending which feels right.

Sadly, no perrenials can be found in the soundtrack. Even the 2000s had the underrated Where Are You Christmas? C+

Green Book (2018)
See the last Oscar Winner you haven't seen
See a 2010s film

I think calling this a reverse Driving Miss Daisy does this a disservice. It's more like The Odd Couple meets a reverse Driving Miss Daisy.

Between jobs, a nightclub handler named Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) gets hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) over the span of two months from New York to a bunch of various locales in the Midwest and the Deep South in 1962. During this time, they get to know one another and differences start to melt away.

Tony is a walking hot-headed Italian archetype through and through. Dr. Shirley is more of a modest speaking African American who is used to performing for cultured audiences.

The film never fully makes these archetypes seem to be human, although Ali (one of the best actors of our time) and Mortensen are able to get some sparks going at times. Highlights include a confrontation between the two over a rock, a more heated one over what happened the night before, and some charming moments as Dr. Shirley starts to write letters to Tony's wife (Linda Cardellini).

Although there are some funny moments, the film also never fully shies away at dealing with a racist world. Whether it's a sub-standard piano in Indiana or some racist cops in Mississippi, to the film's credit, it never fully shies away from the shoddy treatment that Dr. Shirley has to deal with.

But there's also some cringy ones such as sequences where Tony questions Dr. Shirley on popular musicians of the day or tries to get him to eat fried chicken for the first time. It never also seems to work out Tony's casual racism where one minute he can drop a racist epithet towards Dr. Shirley's colleague (about another candidate for the post) and the next minute take a drink from an Asian bartender. Where's the consistency?

And this is based on a true story? OK, fine. I'm kind of unconvinced because the people I see on screen don't seem to be based on real people. Maybe a C?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:04 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 3:20 am
The 80s one is the one that popped up free on Prime. I'm not able to find the 2012 one that you're referencing. Do you mean the Joe Dante film?
Yeah, not sure why it popped up on a couple of searches when looking for The Strangeness.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Mon Dec 09, 2019 4:51 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:11 am
A film with "Winter" in its title: Dead of Winter

In a cold open, a woman with a bag of money nervously makes her way to her car, only to be strangled by a man hiding in her backseat who then removes her ring finger with a pair of clippers.

Flash to an aspiring actress named Katie. Leaving her boyfriend (husband?) behind in their small apartment (that they share with her brother?), she's off to an audition. When she gets there, a startled producer tells her she'd be perfect for a different role: an actress has stormed off set and they need an immediate replacement. With the promise of $3000 (and possibly $9000 more to follow), Katie agrees to go with the man to a remote home to audition.

Once there, the man who hired her, Murray, introduces her to the wheelchair-bound employer, Dr. Lewis. They give Katie an extensive makeover, dying and cutting her hair. They have her learn and film a scene. We later see that this scene (clearly alluding to the attack in the car) is sent to a mysterious woman. Slowly we learn that the dead woman was part of a blackmail scheme, and the two men are using Katie as leverage. She grows more and more frightened as they keep her captive and the threat of the mysterious woman looms as well.

But the characters . . . OH MY GOD.

This was okay, but I wish I'd liked the characters more so that I could roll with the outlandish premise.
This is the one with Mary Steenburgen?
If so, I saw this many times when I was young and liked it... but I was young. And I had it bad for Mary Steenburgen.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Mon Dec 09, 2019 4:52 pm

Jinnistan wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:19 pm
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Sigh. What a nice guy!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:14 am

Wooley wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 4:51 pm
This is the one with Mary Steenburgen?
If so, I saw this many times when I was young and liked it... but I was young. And I had it bad for Mary Steenburgen.
Yes, and she is actually very good in it. But the writing really lets the whole thing down.

I don't know if I wrote this earlier, but the film is based on a movie from the 1940s that I'm now really interested in watching.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:01 am

A film about children or featuring them prominently (Int'l Children's Day, December 13): Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl

I was shocked, shocked to go to the IMDb and see that this film has a score of 3.5/10. I vaguely remember it coming out, but had no memory of it being really poorly received. Maybe I conflated it with Spy Kids?

Anyway, this film was interesting to watch. It seems to have been made for really, really little kids. Like if the average kids movie is aimed at someone aged 9-12, this one seems like it's intended more for the 6-8 crowd. The character surf on cookies! There are gentle and obvious puns! The overall look is simple lines and bright primary colors! The cool kid/bully villain says things like "I'm going to burst your bubble, dream boy!".

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think that this is that great of a film. To start with, the overall themes and story come across as pretty muddled. The plot feels like a rip-off of The Neverending Story, with the main character's imaginary world being consumed by the Nothing . . I mean, the Darkness. The main character, Max, adventures with his imaginary friends, Sharkboy and Lavagirl. None of them are particularly well-developed character-wise. Lavagirl struggles with the fact that she destroys everything she touches, but even that simple concept (and its resolution) lands in a muddled way. Also, and I know that this is a nitpick, the child actors playing Sharkboy and Lavagirl have had their teeth bleached beyond all reason. Was this intentional for the look of the characters? I found it horrible distracting. Also, the film was released as a 3D film, and so there are a bunch of shots of character reaching toward the screen that feel out of place without that element.

On the plus side, this is a film that little kids might quite enjoy. It's generally good natured and you can understand the big idea of dreaming and using our dreams to help us connect to our word and what it could be.

For a 7 year old I'd give this a B, for anyone else a C-.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:22 pm

Here are my quickies on the first 5 of the month...

The 12 (2017) Found this on Prime, I think. Didn't know anything about it, but it is a British film that follows a young suicidal gunman (Christopher Hunter) that holds a small church congregation hostage as he tries to force the pastor to atone for some sins. The premise sounds interesting, but the film is very amateurish and dull, the script is very thin, and most of the performances are pretty bad. There is also a certain tonal dissonance with some moments aiming for heavy drama and others for light humor. The balance doesn't work. If anything, I thought that Hunter was pretty good as the conflicted gunman. Other than that, don't even bother. Grade: D+

War Horse (2011) I really had no interest in watching this, but I found myself mildly enjoying it. The film follows a young farmer (Jeremy Irvine) that creates a bond with a young horse, which extends through World War I. Spielberg's direction was visually great, as usual, and I found the "classic" tone of the film, evoking films of the 1930s and 1940s, to be effective. Unfortunately, halfway through the film, he chooses to follow the horse instead of the young man, as he goes from different owners and ends up in the middle of the war. With no concrete or permanent characters to latch on, other than the horse, it felt that the focus of the film drifted away, until the young man is brought back towards the end. Still, I thought it was fairly solid. Grade: B-

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) I was really in the mood for something mindless and action-oriented, so as a fan of the 80's cartoon and toys, I decided to give this a chance. It follows the aftermath of a deadly Cobra attack which leaves the Joe's numbers dwindling. Led by Roadblock (The Rock), the remaining Joe's try to stop a terrorist plot led by Zartan (Arnold Vosloo/Jonathan Pryce) who's been posing as President of the US since the first film. Explosions, bangs, etc. etc. I don't regret watching it, The Rock is always fun to watch, and there are some really cool action sequences, but it was pretty lifeless and dull. Grade: C+

My Bloody Valentine (1981) Very, very 80's slasher about a killer loose in a mining town, threatening a group of young miners that want to party on Valentine's Day. A lot of bad acting, a very thin script, but I won't deny that it was a lot of fun. It follows the typical, cliché template of young, horny people getting killed one by one, but it has confidence in what it is. Grade: B-

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015, rewatch) I hadn't seen this since theaters, and although I remember liking it a lot, the more I thought about it, the more I resented the fact that it's rehashing the OT too much. However, after this rewatch, I think I appreciated it more than I did before. It is a lot of fun, the characters are engaging and have a lot of chemistry, and the action is great. Plus, it has the distinction of being one of the few Star Wars films to have good/great performances. I have plans of rewatching The Last Jedi this week, in preparation for Rise of Skywalker, so bring it on! Grade: A-, or maybe a solid A. Not sure.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:20 am

Dr Seuss' The Grinch

I will mostly echo Apex's sentiments on this one, though I think I liked it a smidge more.

Whereas the Jim Carrey version had a pretty off-putting manic tone to the scenes in Whoville, this is a much more gentle Whoville, and the people in it seem genuinely nice. This film certainly softens the Grinch from the original short, but at the same time it does a nice job with the theme being that he lashes out because he is lonely. Seeing the way that he connects with the different animals was a nice way of showing that he can have positive relationships, but just needs a nudge to get him there.

Unlike many contemporary animated films, I didn't find too many of the jokes jarring and it stayed out of that weird cutesy/sarcastic territory.

I have to say, however, having just watched the Green Eggs and Ham miniseries, that this is the second time I've seen a Seuss story reworked to factor in an uptight single mother who "needs someone". I was glad that ultimately the film didn't really include a romance component (though I think that there's obviously an implication that it might go that direction), because it seemed like that woman needed a maid more than she needed a romantic partner.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this one.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Wed Dec 18, 2019 4:28 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:20 am
Dr Seuss' The Grinch

I will mostly echo Apex's sentiments on this one, though I think I liked it a smidge more.

Whereas the Jim Carrey version had a pretty off-putting manic tone to the scenes in Whoville, this is a much more gentle Whoville, and the people in it seem genuinely nice. This film certainly softens the Grinch from the original short, but at the same time it does a nice job with the theme being that he lashes out because he is lonely. Seeing the way that he connects with the different animals was a nice way of showing that he can have positive relationships, but just needs a nudge to get him there.

Unlike many contemporary animated films, I didn't find too many of the jokes jarring and it stayed out of that weird cutesy/sarcastic territory.

I have to say, however, having just watched the Green Eggs and Ham miniseries, that this is the second time I've seen a Seuss story reworked to factor in an uptight single mother who "needs someone". I was glad that ultimately the film didn't really include a romance component (though I think that there's obviously an implication that it might go that direction), because it seemed like that woman needed a maid more than she needed a romantic partner.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this one.
Isn't this the case for so many of us? Sigh.
Otherwise, I'm glad to read this, I hated the Carrey/Howard Grinch with a passion.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:42 pm

Something I wanted to write about one of my November watches...


A film about the occult


Midsommar (2019) SPOILERS
"Nature just knows instinctively how to stay in harmony. Everything just mechanically doing its part."
Perspective lends meaning to things that might seem confusing or discordant at first. Stepping away from things, or trying to look at things from another point of view, might help people deal with the inexplicability of things, which might be what Dani (Florence Pugh) is doing in this film when she decides to go on a trip to a Swedish commune with her boyfriend and friends, to try to deal with the tragic death of her family. The above quote comes from one of the boyfriend friends', foreign student Pelle, who is hosting them at his hometown, as he attempts to explain and perhaps comfort Dani into finding some purpose or meaning to the things around her. Unfortunately, some things might need a mushroom trip, or something stronger, to grasp and understand.

Midsommar is Ari Aster's second film, after the widely successful Hereditary. Here he treads similar terrain as he follows a character dealing with the grief and trauma of losing a relative(s). As Dani is trying to cope with the aftermath, she finds out her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) was planning a trip to Sweden, to visit the ancient commune where his friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) was raised, as they prepare for a once in a century festival. Along for the ride are Mark and Josh, who wants to study midsummer traditions for his thesis. What Dani doesn't know is that Christian's friends doesn't like her, and that Christian himself has been doubtful about their relationship and was about to break up with her when her family tragedy occurred. But those thoughts remain buried as the group play pretend, while enjoying mushroom trips in Swedish fields amidst the apparent warmth of Pelle's Swedish friends.

As is often the case, things are not what it seem, as the friends are confronted with the harsh reality of their visit. What once seemed to be harmonious, no longer isn't, at least from the perspective of some. As the trip from the drugs fades, tensions between the group escalate, the contempt towards Dani flourishes, the rivalry between Josh and Christian heightens, and the realities behind the festival and the commune start to surface. For the strangers, their once harmonious lives and trip turns to discord. But as I said in the opening paragraph, perspective lends meaning to some things, because what might seem chaotic for Dani, Christian, and co., it's actually working like clockwork for the people pulling the strings. Everything just mechanically doing its part.

I was very impressed by Aster's Hereditary, when I saw it in October. Not only for the level of craftsmanship, but also for the way the story unfolded. For me, in the midst of all the craziness of the last act, everything felt harmoniously bonkers. I know that wasn't the case for everybody. Perspective, perhaps? In Midsommar, I found the same quality craftsmanship and a somewhat similar amount of craziness as the film progresses, only this time, I found myself on the side of discord. To me, all the pieces didn't quite fit as harmoniously as they were supposed to fit. Although I liked the way the tension between Dani and the *guys* its presented, some of the other tensions between them needed to be polished. The motivation of the thesis and the clash between Josh and Christian was weakly presented. Also, for how important he ends up being, I felt that the character of Pelle really needed more fleshing out or a better execution in how he is used.

Finally, as great as Pugh is, I found the motivations of Dani and how they are intersected with the ritual to be problematic. Are we supposed to sympathize with her? Is her disappointment or resentment towards Christian, who was essentially drugged and raped, enough to justify the ending? I did understand her need for acceptance and understanding, which she seems to get on that "communal wailing" scene, but isn't that as fake as the "play pretend" of the "guys"? All in all, I felt the overall message to be quite muddled. Judging from what I've read around, seems like another case of perspective as I've read several people voicing their praise for the film. As for me, although I felt impressed from a technical standpoint (cinematography, direction, production values), the more I thought about the story and how the pieces fit, the less successful I feel it is, the less harmonious they seem as it finishes; its pieces scraping and crunching by as it reaches the end.

Grade: B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:53 pm

Do I hate the Jim Carrey Grinch? Nah, not really. Although I don't get why this is being hailed as a Christmas tradition in some places. The additions made from the 30 minute short are no real addition and I'll concur with Takoma that at least some of the Who-villians came across as jerks (such as the mayor). And there are the clashes in tone between the manic Carrey and the more gentle plot that is The Grinch.

But I'll agree that the tone of the animated film was way closer to the exalted short than the live action mess. Its additions to the plot
such as revealing the Grinch to be an orphan or that Cindy's mom is overworked
make more sense and fit in naturally with the mix.

I may complain that both films are largely unnecessary due to the fact that they can't improve or come close to that iconic short. The one addition in the Carrey film that worked was Faith Hill's Where Are You Christmas, a nice modern addition to the Christmas music collection. I don't think the Cumberbatch film even had one song that lasted more than a few seconds...there's an attempt to modernize the You're a Mean One song that might have clicked had it allowed us to hear more than a few notes...maybe it would have fit in next to that song from Despicable Me.

But the makers of the 2018 film seem to have seen the short at least and taken time to match its tone. And that makes a difference when it comes to recommending this one and not the 2000 film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:37 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:53 pm
Do I hate the Jim Carrey Grinch? Nah, not really. Although I don't get why this is being hailed as a Christmas tradition in some places. The additions made from the 30 minute short are no real addition and I'll concur with Takoma that at least some of the Who-villians came across as jerks (such as the mayor). And there are the clashes in tone between the manic Carrey and the more gentle plot that is The Grinch.
Having now seen two feature-length adaptations, it's pretty clear that the earlier remake just had no solid emotional grounding. In the newer film you get a sense of the characters and their personalities. Also: we didn't have to see the main character with his face buried in a woman's cleavage. There was a kind of grunginess to the 2000 version that seems more and more apparent looking back at stills from it.
Wooley wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 4:28 pm
Isn't this the case for so many of us? Sigh.
I mean, the trope of the cute kid trying to find a romantic partner for their single parent (mom or dad) is really common. But in this film the mother isn't really presented as being lonely so much as just totally overwhelmed by trying to raise three children all by herself.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:34 pm

A film featuring a horse prominently (National Horse Day, December 13): White Mane

I'm very sensitive to content with animals, and especially horses. I knew this would be a rough watch and it certainly was. (But, to be fair, how many films featuring horses wouldn't be kind of traumatic?).

This film is by the same director who made The Red Balloon.

The film follows a wild horse called White Mane. One day, a group of ranchers captures White Mane, determined to break him. White Mane is able to escape, but the ranchers become increasingly determined to prove their superiority over the animal. A boy living in the same area becomes fixated on the horse, and wants to make it his.

Most of the film alternates between the ranchers capturing White Mane (and White Mane then escaping), and scenes where the boy slowly builds a bond with the horse.

I mean, the film is pretty intense. The methods of trying to break White Mane get more and more violent, especially an extended sequence of a pretty brutal fight between White Mane and another horse. While the sequence is punctuated with sound effects, the bites and several of the kicks are clearly real and not playful.

There are some absolutely beautiful sequences, including the horse and boy riding through the marshland or along the edge of the sea.

I'm glad that I watched the film, but don't think I'd have the heart to watch it again.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:26 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:37 pm
I mean, the trope of the cute kid trying to find a romantic partner for their single parent (mom or dad) is really common. But in this film the mother isn't really presented as being lonely so much as just totally overwhelmed by trying to raise three children all by herself.
Yeah, but on a bigger level, aren't movies always trying to tell us that finding that romantic partner will cure all ills and set our lives on course and all that shit, when really what we need is a little help with the day to day of getting through life so we can focus our energy on our own success? And then if you meet somebody cute, bonus.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:45 am

Wooley wrote:
Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:26 am
Yeah, but on a bigger level, aren't movies always trying to tell us that finding that romantic partner will cure all ills and set our lives on course and all that shit, when really what we need is a little help with the day to day of getting through life so we can focus our energy on our own success? And then if you meet somebody cute, bonus.
On the one hand, yes. But there's usually some indication in the film that the person would actually *want* a romantic partner. It was weird to see a person who was just clearly really, really busy, and for her daughter to be like MUST FIND HER LOVE.

And the lack of explaining (or maybe I just missed it?) why there was no spouse in the picture only made it more strange. There's a big difference between being divorced and being a widow. Actually, it really makes me wonder if I did miss some line about why there was no father in the picture.

It's like the movie wanted to go with this conventional trope, and yet didn't even want to touch the life events that would lead to a woman raising three children on her own. (And the brothers are very young, so whatever happened was recent?).

Really the Grinch is the central character, and his loneliness is not presented as being about romance--it's about not connecting with his community and carrying hurt from his childhood. The part about the mom feels like a half-baked subplot, and I was glad that the film didn't go more explicit in terms of the Grinch and the mom "falling in love" or whatever.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Sat Dec 21, 2019 11:16 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:37 pm
Having now seen two feature-length adaptations, it's pretty clear that the earlier remake just had no solid emotional grounding. In the newer film you get a sense of the characters and their personalities. Also: we didn't have to see the main character with his face buried in a woman's cleavage. There was a kind of grunginess to the 2000 version that seems more and more apparent looking back at stills from it.
I thought it was grungy when I saw it in the theater. Hated it. Thought it utterly perverted the perfect sentiment of the story for cheap, current laughs and themes.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Dec 26, 2019 6:05 pm

Saw about half of the 2000s Grinch last night and um, did the makers of that one even bother to watch the source material first? Doesn't look like it.

I've seen like five films recently and only one of them counts for this month (although a couple take care of other pressing needs):

Judge Priest (1934): I felt like I had to see it because a) the writer is from Paducah (we have a famous hotel with his name on there) and b) the setting is supposedly Paducah. Kinda had mixed feelings about the results...it is fairly sympathetic to the Confederate cause and there's a couple of stereotypical African American characters...yet, there's a cheerful subversiveness when the titular Judge (Will Rogers) goes fishing with the slow-witted but quick handed Poindexter (Stephin Fetchit) or helps Aunt Dinsey (Hattie McDaniel) out with her singing. The film does build to a nice dramatic finish, so credit to director John Ford. C+ for now.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017): With the Christmas holiday, I couldn't help but take a shot at the next to last of the Skywalker saga. And, it wasn't bad at all. Maybe a few plotline issues mostly involving the hotheaded Poe (Oscar Isaac) and his relationships with Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), but it managed to juggle several plots at the finish and remained fun throughout. Oh, and it wrote a new chapter for Luke (Mark Hamill) and it kept me watching. B+

Coco (2017): Got this one on sale when I rented Last Jedi. Why did I wait so long? Even though it borrowed an element from another Pixar film, I was enthralled the whole time. And then came the last 10-15 minutes. I don't think I cried this ugly in a long time. A

The Harder They Come (1973): The chief things in this film's favor are the wall to wall reggae music and an ingratiating performance from Jimmy Cliff as Ivan, a guy from the country who tries to make it as a music star. But it's when he starts trying to find other ways to pay the bills when his career starts to take off. Is it good? Not quite, although it's hard to fault anyone for having as much fun as he does driving around a golf course in a convertible. B-

300 Miles to Heaven (1985): The story of two young brothers who decide to head West from Poland in search of a living to help their parents pay off some overdue bills. It took me a while to finish, but the results didn't wow me because I've already caught from another film I've seen that Communism isn't fair and it's full of rules and regulations that stifle growth. The ending involving an emotional phone call is nice, but too little and too late. C
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:26 pm

Another one that probably doesn't count for anything, but I just had to see it:

Kinky Boots: The Musical (2019) was a lot of fun to watch. The story which involves a man who inherits a dying shoe company in England who finds inspiration (and perhaps future customers) in the form of drag queens, I think comes from the 2005 film. But the music that comes from Cyndi Lauper is catchy for the most part and it does have an ace in its cast: Matt Henry who brings a larger than life presence and a joy of life as Lola, the main drag queen who inspires change. It kind of spells things out a bit too obviously in its last third, but it ends out on a high with its last two or three numbers. B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:16 pm

Sorry for the lack of updates. Holidays and all don't let me watch/post a lot.

Anyway, I'm just two films away from my goal. Will try to watch Green Book tonight and maybe sneak a Christmas short, or something like that, tomorrow for the Holiday/Christmas one.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:37 pm

FWIW, most of this "review" was written a day before seeing The Rise of Skywalker...


A film from the 2010s


Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
"This is not going to go the way you think!"
Poet Alexander Pope once wrote "blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed". We might never know what inspired him to write this, but seems like an accurate quote. Sadly, the amount of trust we put on fallible men to accomplish incredible things is sometimes incongruous with human nature. But we do. We are driven to expect great things and for some reason, we build a road map of how we think things will go for us, based on those sometimes insurmountable expectations. But what happens when those expectations are shattered and that "road map" becomes blurry, non-existent, or simply takes us into places we might not be ready to go? Do we lash out or can we submit ourselves to the road? Those are some of the questions that The Last Jedi asks of its characters and, perhaps of its audience.

The Last Jedi follows the road map laid out in The Force Awakens as General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and the Resistance continue to be relentlessly pursued by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has to convince a disillusioned Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) into helping them fight their enemies. In the process, writer/director Rian Johnson decides to challenge the characters and the audience by forcing us to face harsh truths about our "heroes" and taking us into places they/we might not be ready to go. From Rey finally confronting "legendary Jedi Master" Luke, to Poe meeting "Battle of Chyron Belt" Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), or Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) meeting "Resistance hero" Finn (John Boyega); those are some examples of characters coming up with high expectations only to be forced to face the fallibility of their "heroes", or simply accept that things won't necessarily go the way they think.

To say that things haven't gone the way a lot of people expected for the franchise after The Last Jedi would be an understatement. For some reason, the film has been one of the most polarizing films I've seen discussed in the media/web recently, with a lot of people strongly against Johnson's story decisions and character trajectory, and a lot of people firmly embracing the challenges it presents and the possibilities of where the story could go from there. I fall in the latter. I think that the script succeeds in transposing many of the same beats that have been present in the franchise, most notably Empire, while spinning them in interesting directions; from the young Jedi wannabe being trained by the reluctant Jedi master living in seclusion (Obi-Wan, Yoda, Luke) to the powerful Sith lord trying to seduce the young Jedi (Vader and Luke, Kylo and Rey), to the hot-headed heroes being bitten in the ass for trusting the wrong people and the wrong instincts (Han and Lando, Poe and Holdo, Finn and DJ).

But there's a layered complexity to each of those conflicts that I don't think has ever been present in the franchise. Where there was black-and-white before, there's now grayness. Whether it's in the convictions and allegiances of master codebreaker DJ (Benicio del Toro), or the strategic decisions taken by Poe and Holdo as they find themselves against the wall, chased by their enemies, or the inner struggles and feelings of alienation in both Kylo and Rey's mind. "This is not going to go the way you think". Rian Johnson is not interested in easy answers, but rather in putting the characters, and ourselves, in tough spots, forcing them to lift themselves up and choose a path when things don't go the way they were expecting.

It would be silly to pretend that The Last Jedi went the way it was expected and didn't raise any animosity among fans. That it fulfilled its expectations and then some, and was embraced and praised by critics and audiences all over. But films don't always go the way we think. The path this one takes to tell its story is not the most comfortable for most of the characters, or perhaps the audience. I, for one, choose to submit to the road and I'm anxious to see where it leads us.

Grade: A
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:03 pm

Closed up the month/year last night, so here are my quickies on all the last films I've seen...

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (1986, rewatch) Chose this for the "film about children". Maybe a bit of a cheat, but it does feature a group of children campers. Anyway, I couldn't resist watching one of my favorite films of the franchise on an actual Friday the 13th. This film is really a lot of fun and moves at a great pace, the kills are mostly gory and creative and there are some decent scares. Grade: B+

Kyrsyä: Tuftland (2017) Finnish film that follows a young woman that, after a bitter breakup, decides to accept work in a remote commune only to find herself surrounded by creepy villagers and a potential sex-crazed cult. It sounds eerily similar to Midsommar, but the scope and budget in this is significantly smaller. That said, I does think it ends up being effective in many ways. Some of the effects and production values are spotty, but the performances are decent and the direction is neat. The story does take some odd turns, but it managed to keep me intrigued. Grade: B

Scarlet Street (1945) For the Fritz Lang film, I was trying to catch Ministry of Fear or maybe one of his early Mabuse films, but opted for this one since it was widely available. The film follows a lonely middle-aged man (Edward G. Robinson) that is being conned by a younger woman (Joan Bennett). Aside of some shots here and there, there is little directorial/visual flair, but this is carried mostly on the performances and the story and both deliver. Both lead performances are pretty good and the story managed to surprise me with its twists. Grade: B+

Dead of Winter (1987) One that I hadn't heard of, the film follows an aspiring actress (Mary Steenburgen) that is lured by a millionaire and his butler (Roddy McDowall) into their remote estate with the promise of a lead role on a film. However, she finds out that their motives are darker than she thought. The film is a very 80s, fairly conventional thriller, but it is very well executed. Steenburgen and McDowall both deliver great performances and it does have a couple of twists under its sleeve that I didn't see coming. Grade: B+

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, rewatch) See above review. Grade: A

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Overall, a competently made film, full of some very frustrating and ill-conceived decisions. I might write a bit more about it. I enjoyed some aspects of it, most notably the performances of Ridley and Driver, and the overall chemistry of the main cast, but I was dumbfounded by some/most of the choices Abrams takes to close up the story, starting with the whole Palpatine thing. Anyway, it is what it is. Grade: C+

Die Hard (1988, rewatch) What's left to say? Annual Christmas rewatch of an almost perfect film. Grade: A+

Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016) For the TV film, I thought "heck, I've seen the first three and enjoyed their absurdity, so let's give this a chance". The thing is that this one feels extremely lifeless and devoid of fun. For what it's worth, our hero Fin (Ian Ziering) finds himself chasing the titular "sharknados" (or "sandnados") from the deserts of Las Vegas to the fields of Kansas. It still has some doses of craziness, but overall it ends up being mostly boring and absent of all the absurdity and fun of the first three. Grade: C-

That Obscure Object of Desire (1977) Another one I didn't know much about, but for the "last film of a deceased director" category, it was one of the few ones I had available. I've only seen one other Buñuel film (Un Chien Andalou), but I still ended up enjoying this film a lot. It follows a middle-aged widower (Fernando Rey) that is smitten by a young waitress called Conchita (alternatively played by Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina). The story might be a bit problematic, but I still think it was handled fairly well. I don't think the character of Rey, or Conchita for that matter, were built up to be identified with, but I enjoyed the paths the story took. This is one I might think up about more later. Grade: B+

Spies in Disguise (2019) A freebie with the kids, the film follows super secret agent Lance Sterling, who has been framed for stealing a gadget. When he asks a bumbling inventor for help, he ends up transformed into a pigeon. I wish I could've seen it in English, but I had to see it dubbed in Spanish. Anyway, I thought the dubbers did a nice job. The story was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed it. If anything, I would say it was about 15 minutes overlong, but we laughed a lot. Grade: B

X-Men: First Class (2011) follows the early days of the friendship of Prof. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) as they form their mutant allegiance. Overall, I enjoyed it, I liked how it connected itself to certain historical events and how it winked at the previous films (Wolverine's cameo, etc.) I also liked how they set up the conflict between the main characters, even if it feels more like a set-up than a fully developed idea. It was enjoyable, although nothing spectacular. Grade: B-ish?

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) Put this one yesterday with the kids. Obviously a very simple short, but I really liked it a lot. The older kid fell asleep, but the younger one seemed to be really into it. Good one. Grade: A-

Green Book (2018) Set in the 60s, the film follows bouncer/driver Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) who is hired by a snobby black musician (Mahersala Ali) to drive him around the East coast in a tour. Obviously, this comes with the racial issues that his presence might bring. I had very low expectations for this, which probably ended up being for the better. Overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit even if I had some issues with its overall execution. Ali and Mortensen were pretty good and played well off each other, but I wish they would've taken more risks. Grade: As of now, B+, which might go lower later.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:23 pm

Thief wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:03 pm
Dead of Winter (1987) One that I hadn't heard of, the film follows an aspiring actress (Mary Steenburgen) that is lured by a millionaire and his butler (Roddy McDowall) into their remote estate with the promise of a lead role on a film. However, she finds out that their motives are darker than she thought. The film is a very 80s, fairly conventional thriller, but it is very well executed. Steenburgen and McDowall both deliver great performances and it does have a couple of twists under its sleeve that I didn't see coming. Grade: B+
I think you liked it a bit more than I did. But I did appreciate how totally bonkers it got at points.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:04 pm

Two more before I kinda close out December (still plan on seeing Zodiac and A Moment in the Reeds):

Holiday in the Wild: It's a drama with a bit of romance, only there's not a lot of drama involved. It's pretty efficient (mainly sets up its plot in the first five minutes) and much like Juanita, it is more interested in the personal growth of the main character with the romance being secondary. It's an encouraging trend. For those curious, Kristen Davis plays a woman whose husband divorces her and she decides to take her honeymoon safari to Africa solo where she meets "cute" with a pilot (Rob Lowe). The group of people are nice except for one and the elephants are lovely. Throw in a solid soundtrack and one could do worse for a Netflix Christmas film. C+

The Big Heat: For some reason, I always got White Heat and The Big Heat confused. No more. An honest police sergeant (Glenn Ford) investigates a cop's suicide and finds a possible lead with his mistress (Dorothy Green) who reveals that he was on the verge of leaving his wife (Jeannette Nolan) for her. When she turns up dead, the cop decides to press on, but things take a personal turn when his wife (Jocelyn Brando, Marlon's sister) dies when his car explodes. Along the way of finding out who killed his wife (and tried to kill him), he finds unexpected help in Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame), the girlfriend of Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) who is the underling of crime boss Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby). But he's also made some powerful enemies...can he survive enough to find out what happened?

As bracing as a scotch or a cup of hot coffee, The Big Heat is in a grim world full of people doing horrible stuff to each other. But it's also a world that you can't look away from. I get one of my resolutions off to a solid start with this being the first film seen in 2020. A-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Jan 02, 2020 2:53 pm

So, this is how December ended...

A film with the number 12 (Twelve, Twelfth, Dozen, etc.) in its title: The 12
The last film from any deceased director you like: That Obscure Object of Desire
The last Best Picture winner you haven't seen: Green Book
A film with a title that starts with the letters W, X, Y or Z: X-Men: First Class
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #12 (i.e. 12, 112, 212): (see list here) Die Hard (rewatch)
A film from the 2010s: Star Wars sequel trilogy
A TV film: Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens
A Christmas or Holiday film: A Charlie Brown Christmas
A film with "Winter" in its title: Dead of Winter
A film from Fritz Lang (born December 5): Scarlet Street
A film featuring Ninjas (Int'l Ninja Day, December 5): G.I. Joe: Retaliation
A film from Finland (Independence Day, December 6): Kyrsyä: Tuftland
A film set in a mine or cave (National Miners Day, December 6): My Bloody Valentine
A film featuring a horse prominently (National Horse Day, December 13): War Horse
A film about children or featuring them prominently (Int'l Children's Day, December 13): Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives

Freebie with the kids: Spies in Disguise

I'm surprised I managed to complete my goal, and then more (18 films in total), so yay!

Not counting rewatches, I think my favorite of the month was Scarlet Street, or maybe That Obscure Object of Desire.

Least favorite? The 12
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Jan 02, 2020 4:12 pm

To sum it all up, I saw a total of 201 feature and short films, which is an increase over the 186 I saw last year.

For anyone interested, here is an alphabetical list of everything I saw with its corresponding category/criteria... (rewatches in blue)

[REC] - A horror film in a foreign language
1776 - A film set in the American Revolutionary War
42 - A film that features baseball prominently
47 Meters Down - A film about sharks
93 Days - A film from Nigeria
A Charlie Brown Christmas - A Holiday/Christmas film
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving - A film about Thanksgiving
A Fistful of Dollars - A western film
A Late Quartet - A film featuring classical music prominently
A Perfect Getaway - A film set in Hawaii
A Quiet Place - A film about fathers
A Serious Man - A film about neighbors
American Reunion - A film with "America" in the title
An Accidental Soldier - A film from Australia
Ant-Man - A film with an animal in its title
Ant-Man and the Wasp - A film about mothers
Apocalypse Now - A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes
Apollo 11 - A film with the number 11 (Eleven, Eleventh, etc.) in its title
Avengers: Age of Ultron - A film featuring robots prominently
Avengers: Endgame - A film based on a comic book
Avengers: Infinity War - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 25, 54)
Before Sunset - A sequel
Bird Box - Any film with a title that starts with the letters A or B
Black Christmas - A film with the words "Black" or "Friday" in its title
Black Panther - A film with an animal in its title
Bloody Sunday - A film from Ireland
Bug - A film from William Friedkin
Captain America: Civil War - A war film
Captain Blood - A film about pirates
Captain Marvel - A film based on a comic book
Carlito's Way - A film from Brian De Palma
Chi-Raq - A film from Spike Lee
Clerks II - A film about salesperson or stores
Cold War - A drama film
Colossus: The Forbin Project - A film based on a book/novel
Cujo - A film about dogs
Dances with Wolves - A film featuring Native American characters
Dead of Winter - A film with the word "Winter" in its title
Dead Ringers - A film from a Canadian director
Demon - A film from Poland
Desierto - A film from Mexico
Die Hard - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #12 (i.e. 12, 112, 212)
Doctor Strange - A film based on a comic book
Don't Breathe - A film featuring a prominent blind character
Dressed to Kill - Any film that starts with the letters C or D
Eight Grade - A film with the number 8 (Eight, etc.) in its title
Enter the Dragon - A film from Bruce Lee
Experiment in Terror - Any film that starts with the letters E or F
Falling Down - A film with the word "Fall" or "Autumn" in its title
Final Destination 3 - The third part on a film franchise
Fire in the Sky - A film about aliens or alien abductions
First Reformed - A film with the number 1 (One, First, etc.) in its title
Flight of the Living Dead - A film set on a plane
Following - The first film from any director you like
For a Few Dollars More - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #7 (i.e. 17, 27, 73)
Four Lions - A film about Muslims/Islam
Four of the Apocalypse… - A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title
Freaks - A film from the 1930s
Free Fire - A film with the word "Fire" in its title
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning - A film from the Friday the 13th franchise (Sep 13)
Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives - A film about children
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened - A documentary film
G.I. Joe: Retaliation - A film featuring Ninjas
Glass Chin - A film about boxing
Good Morning, Vietnam - A film about the Vietnam War
Green Book - The last Best Picture winner you haven't seen
Guardians of the Galaxy - An action or adventure film
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - A film set in space
Hachi: A Dog's Tale - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #10 (i.e. 10, 108, 110)
Hereditary - A horror film
Hidden Figures - A film about math or mathematicians
In the Mood for Love - A film with the world "Love" in its title
Incendies - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #6 (i.e. 16, 26, 68)
Incredibles 2 - An animated film
Inside Out - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #8 (i.e. 18, 28, 208)
Instant Family - A comedy film
Interview with the Vampire - A film set in New Orleans
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Any film that starts with the letters I or J
Killer Klowns from Outer Space - A film featuring a clown
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - A film with the word "Kiss" in its title
Kyrsyä: Tuftland - A film from Finland
L.A. Confidential - Any film that starts with the letters K or L
La La Land - A musical
La Luna - A film with "Moon" in the title
Lake Mungo - A post-1990 horror film made for under $5,000,000
Lawless - A film about the Prohibition and/or organized crime
Lifeboat - A film mostly set on a boat
Lo que le pasó a Santiago - A film from a Caribbean-American filmmaker
Mandy - A film with a woman's name in its title
Mars Attacks! - A film that features the President of the US as a prominent character
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - A film set on the ocean or the beach
Maya the Bee Movie - A film about friends or friendship in general
Memories of Murder - A film from South Korea
Menace II Society - A film that won the MTV Best Movie Award
Metropolis - A film from the 1920s
Midsommar - A film about the occult
Mission: Impossible - Fallout - Any film that starts with the letters M or N
Modern Times - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #8 (i.e. 18, 28, 208)
My Bloody Valentine - A film set in a mine or cave
Night of the Living Dead - A film with the word "Dead" or "Death" in its title
Ordinary People - Any film that starts with the letters O or P
Persepolis - A film from Iran
Persona - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #1 (i.e. 10, 21, 31)
Prisoners - A thriller film
Q: The Winged Serpent - Any film that starts with the letters Q or R
Raising Arizona - A film from the 1980s
Ravenous - A film from the 1990s
Recount - A film about politics
Resident Evil: Vendetta - A film based or featuring video games
Risen - A Biblical film
Roma - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #2 (i.e. 20, 32, 42)
Rudy - A film that features football prominently
Russian Ark - A film set in a museum
Safety Last! - A film from Harold Lloyd
Scarlet Street - A film from Fritz Lang
Scorpio Rising - A film from the 1960s
Second Best - A film with the number 2 (Two, Second, etc.) in its title
Seven - A film with the number 7 (Seven, Seventh, etc.) in its title
Seven Samurai - A film from the 1950s
Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens - A TV film
Slap Shot - A film that features basketball or hockey prominently
Slaughterhouse-Five - A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title
Solo: A Star Wars Story - A science-fiction film
Some Kind of Wonderful - A film set in school
Some Like It Hot - A film from Billy Wilder
Spider-Man: Homecoming - A film with an animal in its title
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #9 (i.e. 19, 29, 109)
Splinter - A horror film about an animal or creature
Spotlight - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #11 (i.e. 11, 111, 211)
Spring - A film with the word "Spring" in its title
Spring in a Small Town - A film from China
Stagecoach - A film from John Ford
Stalker - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #4 (i.e. 14, 24, 42)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - A film from the 2010s
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - A film from the 2010s
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - A film from the 2010s
Stranded - A film set on Mars
Summer of 84 - A film with the word "Summer" in its title
Synecdoche, New York - A film from Philip Seymour Hoffman
Tangerine - A film with a primarily Hispanic/Latino cast
That Obscure Object of Desire - The last film from any deceased director you like
The 10th Victim - A film with the number 10 (Ten, Tenth, etc.) in its title
The 12 - A film with the number 12 (Twelve, Twelfth, etc.) in its title
The 12th Man - A film about World War II
The 6th Day - A film with the number 6 (Six, Sixth, etc.) in its title
The Big Sick - A romantic film
The Birth of a Nation (1915) - A film from the 1910s
The Crazies (1973) - A film featuring a virus of some sort
The Emperor's New Groove - A film about friends or friendship in general
The Fate of the Furious - A blockbuster film
The Favourite - A film currently nominated for the Best Picture Oscar
The General - A film from Buster Keaton
The Ghost Writer - A film about a writer
The Gold Rush - A film set in Alaska
The Grapes of Wrath - A film from the IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 23, 32)
The Hangover - A film about drinking or beer
The Happening - A film about the environment or related themes
The Hateful Eight - Any film that starts with the letters G or H
The Lady from Shanghai - A film from the 1940s, a film from Orson Welles
The Last House on the Left (2009) - A film with the word "Left" in its title
The Mummy (1932) - A film about mummies, pharaohs, Egypt
The Ninth Day - A film with the number 9 (Nine, Ninth, etc.) in its title
The Perfection - A film about LGBTQ+ lifestyles
The Red Spectre - A film from the 1900s
The Shining - Any film that starts with the letters S or T
The Tell-Tale Heart - A film based or inspired on Edgar Allan Poe's work
The Time That Remains - A film set in Palestine
The Tingler - A B-movie
Thor: Ragnarok - A fantasy film
Three Days of the Condor - A film from the 1970s
Three Identical Strangers - A film prominently featuring siblings
Triple Frontier - A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title
Tropa de Elite - A film from Brazil
Un Chien Andalou - A film from France
Up - A film with a primarily senior cast
Us - A horror film
V for Vendetta - A film about a rebellion or political plot
Vampyr - Any film that starts with the letters U or V
War Horse - A film featuring a horse prominently
WarGames - A film where computers are integral to the plot
Widows - A film with an African-American cast
Wild at Heart - A film from David Lynch
Wings - The first Best Picture winner you haven't seen
X-Men: First Class - Any film that starts with the letters W, X, Y, or Z
You Were Never Really Here - A film directed by a woman
Zack and Miri Make a Porno - A film featuring the name of a couple in its title
Zombieland - A film from the 2000s
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Jan 02, 2020 4:35 pm

Finally, my rough Top 10/Bottom 10...

1. La La Land (2016)
2. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
3. First Reformed (2017)
4. In the Mood for Love (2000)
5. Us (2019)
6. Hereditary (2017)
7. Before Sunset (2004)
8. Ordinary People (1980)
9. A Serious Man (2009)
10. Memories of Murder (2003)

HM: Metropolis (1927), Freaks (1932), Stalker (1979), A Late Quartet (2012), Vampyr (1932), Seven Samurai (1954)

Most of these honorable mentions are films that really stuck with me, but I feel I need to rewatch them in order for them to settle in.



The Bottom 10...

192. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
193. The Happening (2008)
194. The Last House on the Left (2009)
195. Clerks II (2006)
196. The 6th Day (2000)
197. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
198. Flight of the Living Dead (2007)
199. The 12 (2017)
200. Cujo (1983)
201. Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016)

HM: Triple Frontier (2019), Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

A very special honorable mention to Birth of a Nation (1915), for being one of the few films that has made me physically and visibly angry as I saw it. Seriously, it's a piece of shit.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Jan 02, 2020 5:57 pm

Nice list. I love a number of those films quite a lot, with Stalker being my favorite of the bunch (as if this is a surprise). I also need to revisit Synecdoche, New York someday. I saw it a year or so ago, but I felt like a lot of it went over my head.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:10 pm

I'm probably due for a rewatch of Synedoche, New York. Maybe one of these times, I'll finally get it.

Congrats on catching more than 200.

Ended up with 93 myself and tasked myself with seeing 120 before the next ball drop New Year's Eve.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:07 pm

Thief wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:37 pm
A film from the 2010s

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Grade: A
:shock: :shock: :shock:
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:13 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:04 pm
The Big Heat: For some reason, I always got White Heat and The Big Heat confused. No more. An honest police sergeant (Glenn Ford) investigates a cop's suicide and finds a possible lead with his mistress (Dorothy Green) who reveals that he was on the verge of leaving his wife (Jeannette Nolan) for her. When she turns up dead, the cop decides to press on, but things take a personal turn when his wife (Jocelyn Brando, Marlon's sister) dies when his car explodes. Along the way of finding out who killed his wife (and tried to kill him), he finds unexpected help in Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame), the girlfriend of Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) who is the underling of crime boss Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby). But he's also made some powerful enemies...can he survive enough to find out what happened?

As bracing as a scotch or a cup of hot coffee, The Big Heat is in a grim world full of people doing horrible stuff to each other. But it's also a world that you can't look away from. I get one of my resolutions off to a solid start with this being the first film seen in 2020. A-
This is actually one of my favorite "classic" movies that I saw for the first time the last few years. Late entry into the noir genre but, for me, gets damn-near everything right.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:00 pm

Thanks to all for reading all the shit I write here and for occasionally joining. I'm still trying to make up my mind as to what I'll do for 2020, whether it will be the same/similar categories or if I'll do something entirely different. But anyway, I've had a rough day at work and I'm fuckin' tired so I won't deal with that today. Maybe tomorrow I'll post what I'll do, so stay tuned.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:41 pm

Wooley wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:07 pm
:shock: :shock: :shock:
A bit of warning, I've seen it too and thought pretty highly of it.
Not A highly, but highly enough.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:42 pm

Wooley wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:13 pm
This is actually one of my favorite "classic" movies that I saw for the first time the last few years. Late entry into the noir genre but, for me, gets damn-near everything right.
Tone wise, it definitely does. And it did start the new year off correctly. :up:
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:19 pm

Today was another really rough day at work so I'm seriously not on the right frame of mind to be creative and post new categories and stuff, so my apologies. If I can, I'll try to post something over the weekend, but most surely, it will be next week. In the meantime, watch films with "ones", or debuts, or the first film that come to mind :)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:59 pm

Did someone say ones?

The ChaperONE (2019):

Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) is a woman of faith in a marriage that's going nowhere (for reasons explored in the plentiful flashbacks). Thus, when she overhears a woman looking for a chaperone to accompany her daughter Louise (Haley Lu Richardson) to New York for a dance class, she happily volunteers. But she has her own reasons for wanting to go to New York and it involves trying to find out who her real parents are (they abandoned her as a girl to an orphanage run by nuns).

Both Richardson as the mischievous Louise and McGovern have some moments here, but the film struggles to come alive. The folks behind Downton Abbey did this one so I supposed a LOT of whether you might go for it or not will depend on your thoughts on that show. Outside of the Countess, I wasn't into it so...D+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:20 pm

A freebie:

Anatomy of a Murder (1959):

A tale of jazz and courts as James Stewart is a lawyer hired by an Army Lieutenant (Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering the man who raped his wife (Lee Remick). I guess no JAGs were available? Anyway, the prosecution gets a bolster from the state's attorney general (George C. Scott). Stewart depends on a former lawyer who is trying to give up the drink once and for all and a secretary (Eve Arden) who's frustrated by the lawyer's financial issues.

Although I did have some nagging law issues, this did a fine job of showing the hard work of the defense and what both sides are thinking/feeling during the case. The case itself is handled like a boxing match only with one guy's freedom on the line instead of a title. B+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:04 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:20 pm
A freebie:

Anatomy of a Murder (1959):

A tale of jazz and courts as James Stewart is a lawyer hired by an Army Lieutenant (Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering the man who raped his wife (Lee Remick). I guess no JAGs were available? Anyway, the prosecution gets a bolster from the state's attorney general (George C. Scott). Stewart depends on a former lawyer who is trying to give up the drink once and for all and a secretary (Eve Arden) who's frustrated by the lawyer's financial issues.

Although I did have some nagging law issues, this did a fine job of showing the hard work of the defense and what both sides are thinking/feeling during the case. The case itself is handled like a boxing match only with one guy's freedom on the line instead of a title. B+
I also thought this was good. I saw it about 2 years ago and caught most of it again last year. I especially thought Lee Remick was strong in the essential role to the story.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Jan 06, 2020 11:08 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:04 pm
I also thought this was good. I saw it about 2 years ago and caught most of it again last year. I especially thought Lee Remick was strong in the essential role to the story.
It's a very tough role to play. She did well with what couldn't have been an easy role to play because she's asked to do so much.
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