No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

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No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby Mach6 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:51 am

I’m not Vargas, so cut me some slack. ;-)

Wreck-It-Ralph: This was an incredibly fun movie for me since I grew up in the 80’s Atari 2600/8-Bit NES era & was a gamer up to the early mid 00’s with the PS2. The famous video game characters & sounds (I loved the Metal Gear Solid “!”) are used very effectively but they don’t dominate the main story. They aren’t just used for lame & lazy Family Guy type jokes. I didn’t see it in 3D, but the visuals & animation were top-notch especially in the Sugarland world. I even like the touch of the old 8-Bit characters still moving in an 8-bit herky-jerky motion even when they’re in the “new” Hi-Def game worlds. The voice work was great overall (Jane Lynch nailed the Gears of War leader role) although I agree with the mob that John C. Reilly was doing his Seth Rogen impression for Ralph.

Skyfall: A big improvement over Quantum of Solace in that this actually feels like a Bond movie instead of a Jason Bourne wannabe. The opening & ending action sequences were worth it alone. I don’t want to spoil it, so all I can say is I was really surprised where the final battle took place. (Everybody in the theater loved the use of an old school Bond vehicle.) Unlike Solace, Skyfall finally found the right mix of fun & seriousness to make Bond fit it with the 21st Century. The new additions to the cast (& future sequels) were handled well & the script did a good job of organically putting them into their roles. I haven’t watched every Bond film so I can’t rate it in a top five ever list, but it’s probably my favorite Bond film since License to Kill.

MINOR SPOILERS:




The only big problem I had is I’m getting tired of the main bad guy getting himself captured so it was all a part of his bigger masterplan twist.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby J.M. Vargas » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:40 pm

Actually I approve of that thread title; you're on the right path, young padawan! :D

Jean-Luc Godard LES CARABINIERS (1963) on TCM-HD for the first time. Apparently Godard didn't get the memo back in '63 that you can't make a war movie that doesn't glamorize war. "Les Carabiniers" has the usual war movie assembly-line parts (the poor peasants that actually do the fighting, their anguished family members that await their return, the cause that gets rallied upon, etc.) and then, along with Godard's now-conventional disregard for conventional filmmaking techniques, distills the war movie down to its very basic, ugly truths: poor greedy idiots and the poor greedy shrews that love them get taken advantage of by cynical lying oportunists. Gotta say though, "Les Carabiniers" has one of the greatest final spoken lines in a movie (that keeps the satirical acid flowing) I've ever heard that is also pure Godard: pretentious, highfalutin and perfectly in synch with the story he's telling. Not a Godard film from this period I'd enjoy revisiting often, but glad I saw it.

Kihachi Okamoto's SWORD OF DOOM (1966) on Criterion DVD for the first time. I saw this just before I went to see RZA's "The Man with the Iron Fists" (see review at bottom... both literally and figuratively) and man, it wasn't even close. Between Tatsuya Nakadai's intense and rather-tricky performance (a psychopath samurai who gradually snaps) to director Okamoto-san's economy of set-ups (no fancy camera work) enhancing the sumptuous-looking anamorphic B&W photography with a few cool scenes (a tense duel with a single deciding blow, a snow fight that clearly had an influence on Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" finale, an unforgettable-even-if-it-wasn't-intended-to-be-that final freeze frame shot, etc.) and great supporting actors for good measure (particularly Toshirô Mifune in an unforgettable very special cameo), "Sword of Doom" is 'chambara' genre filmmaking at its finest. The ever-present Nakadai vs. Mifune duel tease is just cruel though. :(

Claude Chabrol's STORY OF WOMEN (1988) on TCM-HD for the first time. A nice companion piece to Mike Leigh's "Vera Drake": same type of lead protagonist/premise, different WWII-era country/decade. It's less about the hypocrisy of the puppet French government executing an abortionist woman to carry the pretension of normalcy because of their inability to do something about being Germany's bitch (this is dealt with in the rather-rushed closing 15 or so minutes) than about the portrayal of an immature woman that stumbles upon a money-making task that she puts ahead of her husband and family (who ironically benefit the most from her arrangements). It's a dysfuctional family portrayal, and Isabelle Huppert is never less than fascinating to watch as the matriarch that can relate better with prostitutes (Marie Trintignant) and French collaborators ("The Intouchables'" François Cluzet) than with her distant husband and too-young-to-know children. The movie's final line, 'Have Pity on the Children of the Condemned,' puts the film into a low-key but nevertheless powerful context.

Peter Jackson's THE FRIGHTENERS (1996) on HD-DVD. I downright loathed this movie the first time I saw it in the heat of October horror movie binge-viewing. The acting/pace/humor/execution of the premise were pitched sky high, like "Ghostbusters" on crack cocaine. And, except for Michael J. Fox, everybody (particularly Jeffrey Combs) seemed to be overacting up a storm. On repeat viewing with Peter Jackson's informative commentary track on though (and a 4+ hr. making-of documentary still to go through) my opinion has softened and I can appreciate the movie now more for the frenetic and uneven-but-wild movie it is than the mess (per Jackson's own opinion) we end up with. The movie's closing half-hour is actually pretty damn good, but the 90 min. or so set-up leading up to it is laborious and hard to sit through. And Combs' Dammers is still too weird and OTT, but you would too if the Manson clan had done to you what they did to poor Milton. :)

George Clooney's GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK (2005) on HD-DVD. My appreciation for David Strathairn as an actor has grown in recent years (he alone is the reason SyFy's "Alphas" show is even remotely watchable), and his excellent portrayal of Edward R. Murrow as well as an ace cast (including Robert Downey Jr. in a minor supporting role) make this re-enactment of the CBS News vs. Joseph McCarthy events pleasant enough to watch. And I just love the way B&W photography looks in high-definition, which for this particular movie really helps put the viewer in the mood for a cinematic history lesson.

Robert Zemeckis' FLIGHT (2012) in theaters for the first time. Literally five minutes before "Flight's" credits start rolling Zemeckis can't help himself and gives us an "invisible" SFX shot (like the one in "Contact" when young Ellie reaches for the medicine cabinet) just because he can and wants to put his considerable SFX expertise to work. Before that though (or whenever John Goodman isn't on-screen, which is a clear attempt to inject forced humor into an otherwise sober and dramatic narrative) Zemeckis succeeds at directing an adult and grown-up movie about a flawed human being (Denzel Washington at his best; you root for his Whip Whitaker longer than you would if he were played/portrayed differently by a lesser actor) wrestling with inner demons that threaten to be exposed. "Flight" is being sold on a title and premise that only cover the movie's first half-hour; after that is an entirely different film that what audiences might expect, and we're all the better for it because of the necessary commercial evil of this bait-and-switch. It says something about how good the movie is that the hospital staircase scene is more compelling and intense than the already-intense scene of the airplane accident.

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012) in theaters for the first time. Awful, just awful fanservice tribute by co-writer/director/star RZA (who predictably gives the weakest performance amongst the principals) to not just samurai and chambara movies from decades past, but primarily to how Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth (the latter co-wrote and co-produced the flick) have re-interpreted these films for mainstream American audiences. It inhabits an awkward place where the devotion to its genre roots are too earnest and sincere to dislike, yet it's so amateurish and goofy in its execution you wanna laugh at it when you're not so bored you're seriously debating whether to doze off. Every actor seems to be in a different movie than the one they're in (good for Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu, really bad for Rick Yune and RZA), although I gotta say I was surprised at how effortlessly Dave Bautista steals the movie with his imposing screen presence. Save you time and money and rent/buy the really cool Japanse movies that inspired RZA to make "The Man with the Iron Fists," a flick whose sum total doesn't add up to the lameness of its individual parts.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby mavrach » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:04 am

I was gonna create a "Vargasian" Watching thread but it kept coming about too dreary: like NOtVrymanymEMBERsleft...

Since my divorce and move into my own apartment I've actually had a lot of trouble focusing on movies. I've been falling back on video games (almost done with Fallout 3 for the third time around), with the occasional movie sprinkled throughout. Most have been comfort or at least lighter movies. My mind wanders if I try something heavier, so I'm taking it easy for the time being.


I watched Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome for the first time since high school. It was a favorite back then (moreso than The Road Warrior even) so I wasn't sure how it would hold up. Now that I'm older and appreciate RW much more, Thunderdome now feels like an awkward mess. It's two clearly separate movies smashed together and has no overall point in the end. And whereas the tone of RW was bleak and hopeless as people made due with their limited resources, Thunderdome's world almost seems fun to live in with its goofy characters. That being said, I still had a lot of fun with it. The action is lively and there's a general energy throughtout, and the score is fantastic (I still remembered it 15 years later). It's hard to say how much of this is nostalgia, but I'd still see it again.
+1. this is very interesting.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby Polynikes » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:41 pm

Valkyrie (2008) which I saw for the first time on TV last night. I was pleasantly surprised. I feared that the makers might succumb to the temptation to jazz it up into an action thriller, but allowing for reasonable dramatic licence, it was faithful to the history, and it was a lot better than I had been led to believe.

I posted this another thread as well in case you think you are suffering from deja vu.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby J.M. Vargas » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:17 pm

SKYFALL (2012) in theaters for the first time. The decade-long hole dug by "Die Another Day" (remember the Jinx spin-off talk?) has been finally paved over. I really hope now that the stage has been set (will not spoil here) in the future we get 007 movies in which the weight of the world/life/Bond's past on his shoulders doesn't drag the fun down. Can I get at least one "Living Daylight"-like Daniel Craig Bond where he and we can have fun, and with the gun barrel sequence in the front of the movie?

Back to "Skyfall." Javier Bardem's bad guy is a little too show-offy and mannered (closer to The Joker than Hans Gruber) but, by the movie's end, Silva emerges as quite the memorable heavy. Bond girls disappoint (IMO) but the Adele song and opening sequence is pretty damn good, and this coming from someone that's hated every Bond CG title sequence post-Maurice Bender doing them. Plot isn't great shakess (a little bit of "Licence to Kill" and "Goldfinger" in reverse, tons of "Bourne"/"Mission: Impossible" touches, etc.) but the direction by Sam Mendes is muscular and flexible; we switch to basically old-school Bond action for the movie's last third, and it's a welcome return to a style that's been abandoned since the 1980's. With Stuart Baird editing and Roger Deakins' lensing you're getting decades of great filmmaking experience backing an entertaining Bond flick that still needs to loosen up. The stage is set for Bond to take off now, whether Daniel Craig is onboard for two more or not.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby J.M. Vargas » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:59 pm

Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO (1960) on Blu-ray. I managed to talk my folks, whom I'm visiting in AZ for Thanksgiving, to sit and watch this with me; dad had forgotten it completely and his wife pretty much guessed the highlights from her pop culture knowledge (and kept babbling them out with me trying to put a sock in her mouth to keep from spoiling it for my father). Even though my stepmom didn't like it as much (as in it was too fantastic and quaint for her to be scary) my dad, who loves to watch "Discovery Investigates" on TV all the time, was blown away by "Psycho" and had all of the movie's classic shocks come as new-to-him. Both of my folks agreed that the doctor at the end explaining what happened in the movie helped them enjoy and understand the flick... whatever, at least now they're both ready for "Hitchcock" when it comes out in December. 8)

James L. Brooks' TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983) on DVD. Also saw this with my folks too and they liked it, even though me and my stepmom's promise to my dad that he'd be in tears came to pass and his were the only pair of dry eyes in the house (though he still laughed at all the appropriate laugh spots). "Terms of Endearment" (in theaters) and "Walkabout" (on a local TV channel) are the first movies that I recall watching at an early age and "opening" my eyes to the fact movies could be more than action, cartoons and happy endings. What did a 10 year old growing up in a third-world banana republic know about the melodrama of middle-class Americans? But somehow, particularly with Michael Gore's majestic score holding it together (the first soundtrack I ever fell in love with, an infatuation with this type of music that continues to this day) and the performances by an ace cast (particularly Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson and a cast-against-type John Lithgow), James L. Brooks managed to briefly make Hollywood melodrama in the early 80's seem as respectable as it was during the heyday of Douglas Sirk. Hasn't dated as well as "Broadcast News," "Terms of Endearment" can still weave together laughs and tears like the best of them.

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012) in theaters for the first time. This turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the year since I walked into the theater with just two hours to kill without expecting much than what the trailer sold: the same tired post-Tarantino school of bloody hitman mayhem mixed with cool 'with it' self-aware humor ("2 Days in the Valley," "Destiny Turns On the Radio," etc.). Alas, the brilliance and skill of writer/director Martin McDonagh's high-wire act is the injection of a healthy dose of Charlie Kaufman-type Hollywood POV structure to a story about movie people caught in the vibes and crazy plottings of a shaping-before-our-eyes hitman screenplay/story. Sam Rockwell (who steals the movie playing an annoying-but-likable character that gets on people's nerves, no easy task), Colin Farrell (whose leading man skills McDonagh brings out better than any other filmmaker) and even the tired-from-overexposure schtick of Christopher Walken lead an excellent cast that's game poking fun at their own bad-ass reputation. A surprise potential entry into my best year top 10 list.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby mavrach » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:48 am

Unstoppable - Unstoppable: Actually a pretty good disaster movie. When it was released I dismissed it as a dumb action mvoie, but the folks around here kept singing praise for it so I gave it a whirl.

What could have been cheesy was solidified by Tony Scott's direction, and Denzel Washington taking a nothing role and giving it some heft. The setup was a little forced, but they cast Ethan Suplee so it's easy to blame it all on him being a jackass.
+1. this is very interesting.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby Steve T Power » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:35 am

Lawless - Nick Cave's script does a fantastic job of giving the characters discrete personalities, and the actors (even Shia, who turns in the best performance of his career) really inhabit and breathe life into them. This is old school crime flick drenched in atmosphere and memorable beats. Everything about Lawless, the look, the feel, the music, the plot (contrived as certain elements may be) congeals into a wonderfully complete whole that left me immensely impressed. I've noticed a little bit of flack from Hillcoat followers that's entirely unjustified, and probably exists because it's his most accessible film. At any rate, it's the best film I've seen so far in 2012.

Edit: Also have to say, Tom Hardy is gonna be one of the greats.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby azul017 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:45 pm

Skyfall - I think this is as good, if not a little better than, Casino Royale. It has a wonderful flow throughout, the plot moves quickly and Mendes knows how to choreograph some exciting action sequences. Roger Deakins' work is superb, and a further confirmation that digital can be just as sleek and beautiful like film.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby mavrach » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:14 am

Source Code - I walked away disappointed from this one. I expected Dial M For Murder crossed with Groundhog Day. The gist is that the guy can revisit the same disaster scene repeatedly to recrunch the clues to figure out who the bomber is...but the clues are sparse and he spends most of his time flirting instead of treating us to a mystery that we can play along with. As that mystery is solved it doesn't feel like a big deal, and it's replaced with a new twist that is interesting but ultimately makes no sense.
+1. this is very interesting.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby Ptolemy » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:26 am

Life of Pi - go see it. You won't regret it. What's more, even if you don't like 3d, go see it in 3d. Beautiful.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby the5thghostbuster » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:45 pm

[/b]Bloody hell, it has been a long time since I last posted here! Sorry about that folks: been a busy few months (half year?).

Anyways, November was a packed month film viewing wise: Skyfall and Flight in theatres, X-Men: The Last Stand and Watchmen for the 24 Panels podcast (the later is the episode we record tomorrow night), and various odds and ends, including the director's cut of Mimic (big improvment), The Order (just as bad as I remember), Thunderbirds Are GO! (Just...strange), the Jet Li film Hero (just beautiful filmmaking), Purple Rain (great music, some solid filmmaking, horrible narrative),and Die Another Day (bad).
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby azul017 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:48 pm

Killing Them Softly - The pacing is a bit hit-or-miss, but Andrew Dominik's direction is sharp and Ben Mendolsohn's turn is wonderfully slimy. Of course, Brad Pitt is the main reason to see this... absolutely amazingly acerbic, charming and funny at the same time. His last exchange with Richard Jenkins' Collector is absolutely wonderful. It's not for all tastes, but I enjoyed this one.
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby Mach6 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:00 am

J.M. Vargas wrote:Actually I approve of that thread title; you're on the right path, young padawan!

Thanks for the props. :D BTW J.M., have you given up on naming the monthly watching thread. Have you betrayed us to the F! This Movie site? :(

All I got for December is "The Last December To Watch Anything Before The End Of The World" or "December, Schomember, What Did You See?". Or should we go with a seasonal Winter 2012-2013 thread with the lack of posting around here lately? Hello? Anybody?
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby J.M. Vargas » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:06 am

I'm still here. Just too busy to post (have like 12 movies ready to write about when I do get the chance though).

Yeah, I think we'd be better off going back to the old Jury Room style of just doing a big 'Watching' thread and adding to that, only starting a new one when the previous one got too big/large to follow (which I'm guessing won't be a problem anymore :(). You can have the honors if you want, Mach6. I got nothin'. ;-)
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby hoytereden » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:36 pm

J.M. Vargas wrote:I'm still here. Just too busy to post (have like 12 movies ready to write about when I do get the chance though).

Yeah, I think we'd be better off going back to the old Jury Room style of just doing a big 'Watching' thread and adding to that, only starting a new one when the previous one got too big/large to follow (which I'm guessing won't be a problem anymore :(). You can have the honors if you want, Mach6. I got nothin'. ;-)

Same thing's happening with the Buying thread-Either people aren't posting (Guilty!) or not buying (Not guilty ;-) ).
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Re: No(body is posting)vember Watching Thread

Postby mavrach » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:18 pm

I'm still here but I've been video gaming more recently. I've got two Netflix DVD's that have been sitting on the shelf for days now.
+1. this is very interesting.
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