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/ September Film Thread

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Blue Straggler - on 04 Sep 2018

BlacKkKlansman. 8.5/10. Possibly Spike Lee's "The Wolf of Wall Street" in terms of being a cracking return to form from an established director who appeared to have lost appeal for a decade or so. 
The film almost seems like a story that could sell itself in anyone hands, such is the craziness of it (true story of rookie undercover cop in the 1970s who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan despite being black) but Lee deserves credit for bringing it all together and applying just the right blend of comedy and drama to it. Also an excellent ensemble cast . Slows down in the last 15 minutes but then hits back hard with some cherry-picked contemporary clips of Trump spouting rather KKK-like statements...predictable given that Spike Lee is a bit like a black American Ken Loach  


The Children Act. 8/10. Interesting - quite obviously a made-for-television film which has been granted a cinematic release in an attempt to secure an Oscar nomination for Emma Thompson who is absolutely sublime in this somewhat heavy-handed drama. Adapted by Ian McEwan from his own novel, and directed typically theatrically by Richard Eyre, nominally it is about Thompson as a judge who presides over juvenile medical cases. However for at least the first hour and perhaps really the whole film, it plays like a study of absolute workaholism amongst "high-fliers", with a slightly clunky "marriage collapsing" side story. For the first hour it is a masterclass in storytelling on film, notably with an incredibly efficient first ten minutes. Loses its way slightly toward the end but still one of the best things around at the moment. 

Searching. A very surprising 9/10 for what it is - an effective B-movie with a gimmick. I thought it was going to a 6/10 potboiler and just went along to pass the time really. 
The entire film has the appearance of taking place on a couple of laptop screens as a widower searches for his missing daughter. A slightly pointless gimmick in that it doesn't add anything to the story but at the same time it seems effective and compelling (see also - the one-shot gimmick of "Victoria" a few years ago). Nothing massively original otherwise in this story but it is very watchable and benefits massively from a towering "beyond the call of duty" support performance from Debra Messing as the detective investigating the case.

Blue Straggler - on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The Big Sleep (1946)
8/10
Seen at a screening as part of a little film noir season at a tiny pub/theatre.
I'd somehow never seen it before despite its classic status - I always had (and still have) an antipathy toward detective mysteries and I for a long time just didn't "get" Bogart. The latter problem is solved so I went along, also because it is SUCH a classic
And what a lot of fun! I didn't expect the dialogue to be so witty, or at least it's witty through the first half before the film starts to play a bit more seriously. Women falling at Bogie's feet, ha. 
We got a nice introduction to the film from the chap who's put this season together, no spoilers but some nice info, a bit like watching Moviedrome with Alex Cox or Mark Cousins. The most interesting bit for me, relating to the film, was that they had to massively cut Martha Vickers' filmed role because she was too good and overshadowed Bacall who was being groomed into stardom. Even with what's left, in THIS film Vickers still walks all over Bacall. 

As for the famous convoluted plot, having just watched the film on Thursday and followed up by a hungover skim-read of the plot, I am still a bit lost! Yet it doesn't matter, it's no problem that it's all over the place, it's all about character and atmosphere and dialogue rather than story, in this case, for me at least. 

Cracking stuff

Andy Clarke - on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Yardie 7/10

I rated this more than any of the reviewers I've seen, particularly for its atmospheric evocations of 70's Jamaica and 80's Hackney, and the strong central performance from Aml Ameen. Stephen Graham's characterisation of a gangster boss is pretty flamboyant - but enjoyably so for me. There's no real surprises in the plotting, but this genre aspect didn't stop the novel becoming a cult. Nothing flashy about the direction, though very creditable for a debut I thought. A caveat: I may well be looking at this through tinted spectacles (or maybe a haze of dope smoke) since I was often the only white guy to be found in the small record shop in Blakenhall which was the one place in Wolverhampton you could get import reggae records in the early 70's.

Blue Straggler - on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Clarke:

Interesting, I was put off it by its indulgent and overlong trailer! Plus it doesn't interest me that much, but this latter point is in no way a judgement on the film (cf I am sure Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is a very good musical rom-com but it doesn't interest me! )

Blue Straggler - on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The Predator
A surprisingly credible 7.5/10 although it was a tricky one to reach a final score for, bits of it were excellent and bits let it down so I have settled for somewhere between 7 and 8.5 here. 

The good: it is very much in the spirit of the 1987 original. Writer/director Shane Black and co-writer Fred Dekker sensibly looked at what people like in a Predator film which is: squaddies sharing very non-PC banter; good one-liners; feisty characters; loads of gore and violence. I am not sure how they managed a 15 certificate actually (more for the swearing than the violence).

A note about Shane Black - he is very smart at creating films that are nearly spoofs of a genre, whilst actually being a fine example OF the given genre. The Long Kiss Goodnight which he wrote, is a prime example, it takes the mickey out of big action films whilst simultaneously being a really good action film. 

And he certainly gets to play with that here, throwing in wisecracks referencing the Predator franchise INTO HIS PREDATOR FILM. No spoilers other than that yes, he has someone say "get to the choppers"

This film knows what it is, it knows what the audience wants, and just gets straight on with it. It is 1h40m, pretty short (learning a lesson from that tedious final half hour that killed Predator 2 I guess!). 
Basically, a bit like how Jurassic Park 3 simply said "here's some people, they need to get from one side of the island to the other, there are dinosaurs in the way, some people will die, 3,2,1 GO!", The Predator puts a predator on Earth, gives us some human encounters, a bit of head scratching, lots of big guns and tough guys, some aspect of alien technology that the protagonists have to work out, and aforementioned wisecracks. And a night hunt in the trees. We also get a bonus unfeasibly attractive female lead (who is every bit as kick-ass as the guys). 
Lots of laughs in the first hour, lots of fun etc. The two main leads (Boyd Holbrook who you should recognise from Logan, and Olivia Munn who you might know from X-Men: Apocalypse) really carry it quite well.

The bad: not that I am looking for deep character development or backstory, but it's obvious that chunks of the film were cut - there are gaps (not so much plot holes, but "gaps"), various "eh?" moments etc. And the fun factor diminishes in the final act so, having been laughing along at various almost "meta" humour, we are suddenly expected to engage with the (ahem) "serious" story. The downshift in tone is a little jarring. 

Still very good though and I might even go and see it again. 

NB I have not seen the AvP films - only Predator, Predator 2 and the disappointing Predators from a few years back. 
 

Offwidth - on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Ohhh... The Long Kiss Goodnight .... total class.

Watched The Equals yesterday... well done I guess in acting and cinematography terms but a very creaking and laboured plot;  Kristen Stewart was good though. It was largely panned but one of the positive reviewers  below suggested watching the film on mute which might even be a good idea. Maybe even turn it into a silent film. Still worth a watch for fans of dystopia movies.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/equals_2016/

 

Post edited at 12:54
Blue Straggler - on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Ah, what I call a Tesco film because despite some decent star power , the first I ever know about the films is when i see them in the DVD racks in a supermarket!

they rarely received strong reviews hence no cinema release.

Blue Straggler - on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Btw your review could sort of be applied to Gattaca!

climb41 on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Have you seen Under The Tree? Icelandic film, with subtitles. I thoroughly enjoyed it, with some laugh out loud black humour moments..you know, wrong laughter, with slightly incredulous look on face..

HB1 - on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to climb41:

 I thoroughly enjoyed it, with some laugh out loud black humour moments..you know, wrong laughter, with slightly incredulous look on face..

       . . . like when they came home to find Oscar "waiting" for them on the doorstep!    

climb41 on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to HB1:

yes, so wrong, but laugh out loud  

 

Blue Straggler - on 16 Sep 2018
In reply to climb41:

 

I have not seen it

 

HB1 - on 16 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

You should! Made by the same team that gave us "Rams" a couple of years ago - quirky lot Icelanders!

Blue Straggler - on 16 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Bullitt (yes the 1968 Steve McQueen film). 
Friday evening's "mystery movie" at my local independent, quite funny as the titles came up "Steve McQueen" and the imagery showing that we were in Chicago so some dick in the audience, trying to look cool and clever, said "oh so it won't be Bullitt then", just before "BULLITT" came up on the titles. 

I've seen this film years and years ago and my opinion has not changed. 
It's 6/10 at best. 

It is very well shot and arguably pioneered the "hard cynical cop doing things his own way" genre, and it is quite bold in that it has some long sequences with very minimal dialogue (the famous car chase is nearly ten minutes with no words spoken, and the less famous airport climax is nearly twenty minutes with very minimal dialogue)

So we have McQueen, a gorgeously and generously filmed San Francisco, some cool cars (forget the Mustang and the Charger, and feast your eyes on Cathy's Porsche 356!). And Robert Vaughn is brilliant.

But the STORY is simultaneously boring and baffling. There seems to be a massive character plot hole (regarding the stooge and why on earth he'd sign up for helping out, and maybe it's just me being thick - I was sleepy when watching it on Friday - but the Vicky character didn't quite make sense to me).

And yes in the chase, both cars pass the same dark green Beetle twice although I got the idea that it was deliberate repeat shots from different angles cos they were so proud of the car jumps. 

I've never really "got" the appeal of McQueen and this viewing of Bullitt didn't help MUCH. He did suit the role, all taciturn etc, but I don't think he has as much presence as he's credited with. 
 

Ghastlyrabbitfat on 17 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

In order to get a few hours escapism - currently living through Teenage Daughter From Hell Syndrome - took a trip to see "The Predator" today along with my good wife and was relieved when she laughed and recoiled at all the right moments.  Even I laughed, probably more than seven times which I think by Kermode's definition would make it a comedy.  It does exactly what it says on the tin and in order to get complete immersion I even stumped up the extra for IMAX and 3D.  The 3D was handled pretty well: not too "in your face" with projectiles constantly popping out of the screen, but quite balanced and only fell down during a couple of very fast action sequences.  Yes, die harders, there is no Arnie nor Carl Weathers but if you need some escapism and go viewing with the right expectations it's a solid seven.

If you need something more cerebral - but still strangely light in places - I'd agree with BS again and rate "BlacKkKlansman" highly.  "American Animals" is also excellent and I found it more affecting than BlacKkKlansman with a very engaging style and heart rending interviews with the real protagonists.  You couldn't make it up.......   

Gordon Stainforth - on 17 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Pin Cushion. Oh my god. It's so bad, so revolting, so unentertaining and so puerile, that I'm now desperately trying to erase it from my memory.

Blue Straggler - on 17 Sep 2018
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

 

It does look unappealing and “hard work” but I am interested as to why you describe it as “puerile” - the synopses I’ve seen don’t seem to give room for “childish and silly” aspects.

 

 

Tom V - on 17 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The Charger is pretty unique because I think it manages to lose 5 hub caps during the chase.

Gordon Stainforth - on 18 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

By "puerile" I really meant "pubescent" (nothing to do with being silly or childish). In a weird way it made me feel I'd gone right back in time and reminded me of a lot of the movies we saw/made when I was at film school 45-46 years ago, but I don't remember anything quite as embarrassingly awful as this.

Post edited at 00:20
Blue Straggler - on 18 Sep 2018

Crazy Rich Asians
An uncertain and probably generous 6.5/10
Very hard to score this film. It passed the time well enough and had likeable protagonists, it was beautifully shot and adequately acted (with one particularly strong performance and one standout), but at the same time I was left wondering what the point of telling us this story really was, and why we should care about ANY of these people. It tries to play the standard Hollywood formula (present likeable protagonists, give them obstacles to overcome, show them overcoming the obstacles), but the obstacles here are pretty trivial and we are left just gawping at some obnoxious show of wealth straight out of a late 1980s celebration of yuppie culture.

At 2 hours, it is way overlong and simultaneously manages to leave voids. i.e. it would have been better as a 3-episode, 4h television piece. In particular the subplot of Astrid's character should have either been better fleshed out, or left out entirely, plus there is so little explanation about the father's absence that you are left wondering if there is some other story going on there...
And after being overlong, it rushes the bloody ending AND doesn't stick to its own hitherto apparent convictions.

btw those acting honours go to Gemma Chan as the angelic Astrid, and Michelle Yeoh who was coldly terrifying and played it JUST RIGHT, as the matriarch. 

Offwidth - on 18 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

A retrospective look at some vintage Clash footage from their opening of the Roxy at New Year 1977 and set in documentary clips of the social and political situation at the time. Written and directed by Julien Temple. Very raw but a must for early Clash fans. The side footage seems like a lifetime ago, rather than half of one; the music almost as relevant as ever.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04w08p6

(Sadly not currently avialable)

Blue Straggler - on 18 Sep 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Is it any good for people who really don’t much like The Clash?

Offwidth - on 18 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I'd say yes... only about 20 minutes of the 70 is performance footage and even then the film is interlinked with contemporary political and social imagery. I prefer the later Clash and still think Sandanista is as experimental, political and influential an album as any that a big name group ever produced... well worth a listen if you missed it (most did, partly as they pissed off many of their old punk fans and their record company).

"https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandinista!"

Edit: might need to search wikipedia including the band name as the exclamation mark is needed for the correct link and it didn't link for some reason.

 

Post edited at 22:31
aln - on 19 Sep 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

I'm a fan. As the doc in the link isn't available, how did you see it?

Offwidth - on 19 Sep 2018
In reply to aln:

Recorded from BBC4 a few months back. I would have watched it earlier and given a heads up but I forgot it was there. My V box is annoying as it does not show such documentaries under TV or Films, it only appears on the All listings.

Post edited at 11:44
aln - on 19 Sep 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

OK, thanks. I might have a search online for it.

Blue Straggler - on 20 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam aka "Turkish Star Wars"
6.5/10

Cult classic doing the rounds as a 2K restoration, touring independent cinemas under the popular title "Turkish Star Wars"

It's a bit of a "point and laugh" kind of film - a "so bad it's good" sort of thing. Camp trashy grindhouse nonsense made infamous by its shameless copyright-infringing use of (seemingly randomly inserted) footage from Star Wars and totally stealing music from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Battlestar Galactica (and a tiny bit of Queen's Flash Gordon)

It's one of those microbudget films that is fun to mock (with associated guilt for laughing at the beleaguered under-budgeted earnest film makers) BECAUSE it's not trying to funny in itself. 

Basically a no-budget early 80s Turkish attempt at making a sci-fi epic. There is plenty on the Internet about this film so feel free to Google for more professional write-ups than mine here. 

Plot and villain's motivation make no sense. Protagonists are meant to be two best buddy sub-Han-Solo types although they appear to be in their mid 40s and a little pudgy, although the main guy REALLY loves jumping around. A lot. All through the film. Using hidden trampolines etc. 

It's not really very Star Wars though, apart from the clips (also other borrowed footage from stock travelogue film, and some zombie films etc). 

I actually - beyond scoffing at it - kind of liked its goofy charm and its try-hard efforts. You do wonder what was going through the performers' heads during shooting though - they surely must have known how bad the result would be.

I am sure that daft no-budget films like this are (almost literally) ten-a-penny but to get to see this in a loving restoration on a big screen with a full audience, is a special experience (especially because if you watch it on YouTube you'll probably give up after 10 mins, which would be tragic)

Costumes are the high point. Everyone will have their favourites but personally I most liked the red Yetis that looked like evil cousins of The Banana Splits

Blue Straggler - on 20 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Only a couple of dates left on touring Turkish Star Wars https://scalarama.com/shared-programme/turkish-star-wars/ My screening was free and I wonder if they all might have to be free because of the copyright thing

Post edited at 11:14
Offwidth - on 20 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

No score/review or cross reference to the actors' previous work ?;-)

Blue Straggler - on 20 Sep 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> No score/review 

What?

 

Offwidth - on 20 Sep 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Soz... I missed the classic post above

Offwidth - on 21 Sep 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/jimi_all_is_by_my_side/

Really enjoyed this.  Most people seemed unaware of how Jimi 'arrived' thinking he was always there as superstar in waiting, until discovered, and then sadly gone all too soon. This docudrama seems to 'get it', with why the talent and flaws of Jimi combined to make his outcome uncertain on the journey to it and how all this played out with the main characters who were involved before he became famous. Weirdly accurate cool portral from the lead. 

Blue Straggler - on 11:29 Mon
In reply to Blue Straggler:

A Simple Favour
7/10
Billed heavily as "The dark side of Paul Feig", Paul Feig being he who brought us such delights as Bridesmaids and made a star of Melissa McCarthy. As taglines go, it's not really a strong selling point. 
BUT! To the film. Basically a low-rent knock-off of Gone Girl crossed with that late 80s-early-90s "yuppies in peril" mini-genre. It is as daft as a box of frogs and might have been better served by being done as a spoof. The Anna Kendrick character is a dimwit, the plot machinations in the middle section are horribly contrived, and it throws a few too many twists in during the final act, and it's a bit too long.

So why 7/10?
It's NOT predictable, it's really well shot (some lovely compositions), it is certainly engaging and fun (I just wish it were funnier), but mainly it's that Blake Lively carries this brilliantly - she seems to be channeling 50% Lauren Bacall and 50% Lana Turner, as a bad-girl femme fatale, and she is just brilliant at it. It's actually worth seeing the film just for her performance (even if,, like the rest of the film, it does descend into utter hokum - it does so in a fun way. A bit like Rebecca DeMornay in one of my guilty pleasures "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" )

 

 

Offwidth - on 20:38 Mon
In reply to Blue Straggler:

A very well made drama on the unlikely end of the dictator Pinochet in 88. The No team were given no hope but being brave enough to work on a campaign under intimidation and to market positivity in the face of all the wrongs of the regime was a big help in winning the vote. Good marketing really can be useful at times!

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/no_2012/

Blue Straggler - on 23:54 Mon
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The Little Stranger

7/10

Would like to score it higher but in fairness it plays a bit too much with the "slow burner" thing (and you will see the phrase "slow burner" a lot if you look at for example User Reviews on imdb) and almost ends up "so slow burning that it burned out before getting ablaze"

This is the film whose trailer makes it look like a knock-off of 80% The Awakening and 20% The Others.

It's actually a bit different to that and I don't want to say much about it for fear of spoiling the plot.

It is worth a watch just for the acting. It's so well cast. Domnhall Gleeson gets top billing and as usual he is so good that you barely notice he's there, so it's left to Ruth Wilson to engage your attention, and she is BRILLIANT. Very nuanced, yes the whole film is a bit theatrical/hokey but she keeps the body language and eye movements just the right side. Will Poulter (who gave one of the three most terrifying screen performances I've ever seen, last year in Bigelow's "Detroit") is good, and it's nice to see a film not shy away from a character's disfigurement. And THEN there's Charlotte Rampling, but also Liv Hill as the maid is really good. It's beautifully shot and it really nails the whole "dilapidated mansion" thing.

 

I'd have cut about twenty minutes from it, but on the whole it's recommended despite the middling score.


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