What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Film Reviews and Release Comparisons
Guro Taku
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Guro Taku » 04 Oct 2019, 10:49

Film Festival Dispatch - Part 2

Riot Girls (Canada, 2019) [DCP] – 3/5
Jovanka Vuckovic's debut film is set in an alternate 1995 where all adults have died from a mysterious disease and two punk chicks have to rescue a guy from the evil jock gang. Not especially violent for most of its runtime but there's two pretty memorable bits where an 8 year old gets his throat slit and another that may well feature my favorite headshot of all time.

Adoration (Belgium, 2019) [DCP] – 3/5
Kind of a return to form for Fabrice du Welz after the disappointing mainstream-ish COLT 45 and MESSAGE FROM THE KING. A love story of a twelve year old boy and the schizophrenic girl of the same age, whose escape from a mental hospital he aids. It doesn't have anything resembling an ending but maybe that's appropriate when one tells a story about mental illness. I should add that the film was shot in Super 16mm and is any grain fetishist's wet dream.

Why Don't You Just Die! (Папа, сдохни) (Russia, 2018) [DCP] - 4/5
My second favorite film from this festival after the previously mentioned BLISS. A pitch black and extremely bloody comedy from Russia that starts with a guy asked to kill his girlfriend's father, whom she accuses of rape. Too bad, then, that said father is a streetwise corrupt cop and can't get killed so easily. Two other points of view in the film (which is divided into 3 chapters of sorts) show that things are way more complicated and fucked up than initially assumed. The title, by the way, refers to the protagonist who gets shot, stabbed, drilled and beaten for the entire runtime (he also has to tongue the world's most disgusting bathtub drain) but. just. won't die.

Rabid (Canada, 2019) [DCP] – 3.5/5
The Soska sisters direct a very loose remake of an early Cronenberg film and smartly choose to only take the basic premise and do some pretty different things with it. I don't hold the original in very high regard so that may have played a role but I liked this way more than I expected.

Mutant Blast (Portugal, 2018) [DCP] – 2/5
Some military experiment goes wrong and turns most people into z***ies (the film always bleeps the term), the responsible idiot politicians nuke the area so from then on it's mutants versus zombies. Troma is distributing this so that should give you an idea how silly things get. There's a guy with a rat for a hand a lobster who really hates dolphins. It was hyped as being super-splattery but it isn't and what effects we get are very repetetive and get old quickly. Disappointing.

The Wind (USA, 2018) [DCP] – 2.5/5
Slow-burn horror/western hybrid that tells its story in a non-linear fashion. Nothing about it impressed me all that much.

I Trapped the Devil (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 3.5/5
A couple visit the man's brother for Christmas because they think he needs an intervention only to discover that he's way further gone than they anticipated and claims he's managed to trap the devil itself in his cellar. Great performances from AJ Bowen, Susan Burke and Scott Poythress, excellent tension and atmosphere. Director Josh Lobo is one to watch.

Freaks (USA, 1932) [DCP] - 4/5
That Tod Browning's masterpiece still works as well as it does after 87 years and having about 30 minutes cut out before its innitial release is testament to what Browning achieved. An uncut version is my holy grail but even in its current state it's a great film with some absolutely thrilling scenes. Only the abrupt cut as the freaks chase Cleopatra through the rain at the end is an obvious censorship trim, the rest flows amazingly well and its message is, of course, timeless.

Tammy and the T-Rex: Gore Cut (USA, 1994) [35mm] – 3/5
Famously trimmed to family-friendliness upon release but originally sporting a good 20 minutes of additional splatter effects, this is a very silly flick but while I was expecting to laugh at the film, I was surprised that most of the comedy was fully intentional as everyone was clearly aware what kind of idiotic premise they were working from. It was extremely surreal to see two guys fighting over Denise Richards in much the same way as what happened 3 years later in STARSHIP TROOPERS. Except that Johnny Rico was never eaten by lions, of course. Is Verhoeven a fan of this flick? At any rate, I can't wait for the director's commentary on the forthcominmg BD release. Speaking of which, we were apparently the last audience to be allowed to see the film projected from 35mm as a digital print was struck in the BD authoring process and the 35mm copy won't be sent out ever again.

Depraved (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 2/5
Larry Fessenden's update of the Frankenstein story sees a former Army medic stitch together a corpse and then deal with the pharma mafia. Overlong at nearly 2 hours and not especially interesting.

And also:

Ready or Not (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 3.5/5
I had 3 hours to kill between screenings so I went to a nearby regular theater and watched this film. A bunch of rich folks hunt some lower class girl for... well, not sport exactly, but you get the idea. A tired and boring premise. Thankfully the film turned out to by way bloodier than I expected and also way more foul-mouthed. Any film that has Andie MacDowell exclaim "Holy Dick!" is already awesome in my book. Samara Weaving, who impressed me last year in Joe Lynch's MAYHEM, is the best part of this film once again. I love that she literally keeps killing it in genre films even though I'm sure she could have gone on to romantic comedies and superhero flicks long ago.
Last edited by Guro Taku on 05 Oct 2019, 16:11, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 04 Oct 2019, 11:37

The Night Walker (1964) **
William Castle's B&W chiller has decent atmosphere, but too many lulls, and rests on an unlikely plot.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 04 Oct 2019, 14:50

Joker (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 3/5
Scorsese by Phillips, for incels. Socially relevant, but too slick to have grit, too superficial to be genuinely challenging.

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 05 Oct 2019, 10:58

Mandy (2017) *
Unbearable splatter revenge saga with Nic Cage going full Nic Cage enough to raise a few unintended chuckles.
Pretentious, arty, and utterly terrible.
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Guro Taku
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Guro Taku » 05 Oct 2019, 18:54

HungFist wrote:
04 Oct 2019, 14:50
Joker (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 3/5
Scorsese by Phillips, for incels. Socially relevant, but too slick to have grit, too superficial to be genuinely challenging.
Which one is you?

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Guro Taku
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Guro Taku » 06 Oct 2019, 17:17

In the Shadow of the Moon (USA, 2019) [netflix] – 1.5/5
I've been a fan of director Jim Mickle since MULBERRY STREET (2006) so it wasn't any fun to see him shit the bed with this netflix original. The film starts out as an alright mystery but drops the ball in the third act when it's revealed that the mystery female serial killer is actually the protagonist's granddaughter who's on a mission to liquify racist people's brains from the future. The political messaging is so thuddingly heavy-handed it becomes insulting and even Mickle's able directing, especially during a number of thrilling chase scenes, can't save it.

In the Tall Grass (USA, 2019) [netflix] – 3/5
Vincenzo Natali is another director whose work I have followed closely ever since CUBE hit the festival circuit in 1997. It was unfortunate to see him relegated to TV work in recent years. Here he's back directing a feature film based on the novella of the same name by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. It's a decent horror film about a bunch of people getting lost in a field of grass where neither time nor space work like they should and a large black rock is lording over everything like a Lovecraftian deity. Natali's directing is sharp and the actors are fine, especially Patrick Wilson. There's too much subpar CGI, however, which detracts from a film I otherwise rather liked. This being a netflix production there is of course also a strong political message, this time of the anti-abortion, pro-life variety, but it's handled a lot better here. By which I mean you could ignore it if you wanted to and there's no 3 minute voice-over explaining its importance like in a certain other flick I reviewed above.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (USA, 2019) [BD] – 2.5/5
With the third try, Hollywood finally made the Godzilla film I originally expected in 1998. There's a lot of kaiju mayhem in this film and that's exactly what I expected back then, instead getting a subapar remake of the third act of Jurassic Park: The Lost World. So... Why didn't I like this more? Part almost certainly is me no longer being the teenager I was in 1998. The other part probably stems from all the action scenes feeling strangely boring and pre-viz'd to hell, lacking identity and genuine excitement. I enjoyed Rodan being an utter cunt, though.

It: Chapter 2 (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 3.5/5
A sequel that feels strangely unnecessary, just like the chapters featuring the adult characters felt like when I read the book as a 12 year old. Andy Muschietti does his best to make things work, ditching many of the more idiotic aspects from the source novel, but he never stood a chance to make this anywhere near as interesting as the first film. A rumored supercut that combines both films and reflects the structure of the book might be interesting and one way to get me back to watch it all again.

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 08 Oct 2019, 10:18

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 3/5
Fun, but with a downwards trend. The best stuff is in the beginning. The knife room fight is fabulous, with Keanu in career best form, filmed with very long (but not overly long takes). and choreographed mad creativity. The final fights are less imaginative, and also use quicker edits. Some good bits here and there, like the battle dogs, but also failed opportunities like the motorcycle chase which packs so much movement that none of it ends up having an impact (still way better than the same scene in The Villainess). Cinematography and editing remains acceptable throughout, far above the mess that was John Wick 2, but they could still learn from the 180 degree rule. Oh and why did they have Mark Dacascos speak random lines in clumsy Japanese? There was no need for that, just stick to English, please. Overall, better than Wick 2, not as good as Wick 1 that had more interesting world building.

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 09 Oct 2019, 05:58

The Disaster Artist (2017) ***
Tongue-in-cheek film detailing the making of oddball Tommy Wiseau's cult stinker The Room.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 09 Oct 2019, 19:01

I Do... Until I Don't (2017) **½
Patchy, but sometimes sharply observed comedy drama about the trials of married couples.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 11 Oct 2019, 16:45

A Black Veil for Lisa (1968) **
Pedestrian, tame European thriller unsuccessfully tries to meld police procedural and giallo. John Mills(!) stars as a middle-aged detective mistrusting of his younger trophy wife - flame-haired temptress Luciana Paluzzi (distractingly dubbed here). Not terrible, just a bit bland and dull, really.

The Cable Guy (1996) **½
This black comedy had the potential to be a classic, but director Ben Stiller doesn't embrace the material's darkness enough, and allows lead Jim Carrey - who could have been great - to overact throughout. That said, it's entertaining, and effective in parts.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 12 Oct 2019, 05:51

Ingrid Goes West (2017) **½
Aubrey Plaza is good as an unbalanced girl who fixates on social media personality Elizabeth Olsen.
Not great, but good black comedy. Would make an interesting companion piece to The Cable Guy.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 15 Oct 2019, 16:28

Ghost in the Shell (2017) **½
Live action Manga, populated with westerners.
Interesting ideas, arresting design, overwhelmed by visual effects.

Last Girl Standing (2015) **½
Well-written and acted psychological horror capably deals with the trauma of being a massacre survivor;
gory final act is a disappointment, however.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 16 Oct 2019, 02:05

Planes Trains, and Automobiles (1987) **½
Steve Martin and John Candy both shine in this sometimes funny, sometimes irritating farce.
Goes for Hollywood schmaltz toward the end, but it's not entirely unjustified
(although anyone other than the genial Candy would've been unbearable in the role and only he could make this element work).
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 16 Oct 2019, 04:14

Justice League (2017) **
A video game masquerading as cinema. Forget logic and physics - the filmmakers certainly did.
A paper thin story with only the presence of (somewhat) charismatic superheroes to hold it together.
Batfleck is OK; EzraFlash, mildly amusing, WonderGal - I could happily watch reading the phonebook; boorish Aquamomoa I didn't like; SuperCavill was barely in the film (and when he was they buggered up his face with CGI); and Cyborg (an unfamiliar character to me) comparatively anonymous.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Guro Taku » 20 Oct 2019, 11:35

Crawl (USA, 2019) [BD] – 2.5/5
Survival horror about two people (a Kaya Scodelario I never heard of before and Barry Pepper from BATTLEFIELD EARTH) trapped in house during a hurricane - with a bunch of alligators. I've always liked director Alexandre Aja's visual style but he hasn't made a great film since his remake of THE HILLS HAVE EYES in 2006. This is another middling effort from him, tightly directed and with some solid tension but marred by sometimes atrocious CGI. Producer Sam Raimi's influence can be felt in how the protagonists are really put through the wringer, with everything that can go wrong for them actually going wrong.

Wounds (UK, 2019) [netflix] – 2/5
Another film that squanders a solid premise and interesting mythology (a fictional gnostic practice of contacting "higher entities" through other people's wounds) with an over-reliance on bargain-bin CGI and a complete non-ending.

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 23 Oct 2019, 18:49

Inception (2010) ***½

Groundhog Day (1993) ****
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Oct 2019, 12:05

Unknown Soldier (Finland, 2017) [DCP] - 3/5
Solid Finnish war movie doesn't break much new ground, being already the 3rd adaptation of a Finnish literary classic (the 1954 version was a smash hit like no other). The 132 min international version reviewed here is almost non-stop forest war action; the Fin theatrical cut is 180 min and the TV edit 270 min. Should play pretty well with foreign audiences with protagonist Rokka being a very likeable layman (excellent performance by Eero Aho too), and the changing seasons adding a bit of flavour, though the film lacks clear identity (not going for lively, ultra-detailed nature photography ala Lone Wolf and Cub feels like a missed opportunity). Director Aku Louhimies was one of the leading Finnish directors until he was gunned down with #metoo briefly after this film's release, although he had not sexually harassed anyone. Basically he had had his actors go all Daniel Day Lewis for their roles for decades and #metoo burst the bubble when several actresses who had (repeatedly) worked with him accused him of inhuman treatment. To make things worse, the news broke out just prior to the Finnish Oscars where he was nominated for best film and director, and had to pick up the audience award. Sometime later he got hired by BBC who where blissfully unaware of everything until a Finnish reporter mailed them, causing him to be fired.

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 26 Oct 2019, 00:25

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (2018) **½
Paper thin story contrived purely to hold together a string of bouncy musical numbers (which are generally fun).
If Amanda Seyfried was the breakout star of the original, here it's the effervescent Lily James.
Final scene brought a tear to my eye, big sook that I am.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 27 Oct 2019, 13:33

Terminal (2018) *½
Strange neo-noir revenge thriller is very obviously the work of a novice.
The director has an eye for neon-lit visuals and sparse set design, but his script is all over the place.
The quirkiness becomes wearying, the twists increasingly ridiculous (and unnecessary).
Margot Robbie was born to play a femme fatale, but needs better material.
Mike Myers is his first film for a decade is woeful.

The Campaign (2012) **
Crass political satire scores some jabs and is likely more accurate that one would hope,
but crude overrides clever at almost every turn.
In smarter, more savvy hands this could have worked.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 28 Oct 2019, 15:24

Navajo Joe (Italy, 1966) [DVD] - 2.5/5
Vengeful Indian Burt Reynolds signs up for protecting a small town so that he could kill as many white villains as possible. Decently paced, watchable violence western with a dumb script that has characters do the dumbest things. Reynolds reportedly hated the film, and only took the part because he mistook Sergio Corbucci for Sergio Leone. Morricone's score is the single best thing about the film. It's just too bad Corbucci didn't really seem to know what to do with the amazing piece of music. Tarantino used it to a much better effect in Kill Bill Vol. 2.

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 28 Oct 2019, 15:40

HungFist wrote:
28 Oct 2019, 15:24
Navajo Joe (Italy, 1966) [DVD] - 2.5/5
Vengeful Indian Burt Reynolds signs up for protecting a small town so that he could kill as many white villains as possible. Decently paced, watchable violence western with a dumb script that has characters do the dumbest things. Reynolds reportedly hated the film, and only took the part because he mistook Sergio Corbucci for Sergio Leone. Morricone's score is the single best thing about the film. It's just too bad Corbucci didn't really seem to know what to do with the amazing piece of music. Tarantino used it to a much better effect in Kill Bill Vol. 2.
I first encountered that music cue in Hwang Jang-Lee's Hitman in the Hand of Buddha!
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 28 Oct 2019, 18:07

Ivan Drago wrote:
28 Oct 2019, 15:40
HungFist wrote:
28 Oct 2019, 15:24
Navajo Joe (Italy, 1966) [DVD] - 2.5/5
Vengeful Indian Burt Reynolds signs up for protecting a small town so that he could kill as many white villains as possible. Decently paced, watchable violence western with a dumb script that has characters do the dumbest things. Reynolds reportedly hated the film, and only took the part because he mistook Sergio Corbucci for Sergio Leone. Morricone's score is the single best thing about the film. It's just too bad Corbucci didn't really seem to know what to do with the amazing piece of music. Tarantino used it to a much better effect in Kill Bill Vol. 2.
I first encountered that music cue in Hwang Jang-Lee's Hitman in the Hand of Buddha!
Well, that got me interested. How is the film?

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 31 Oct 2019, 16:54

Mostly silly comic relief but very intense finale. Par for the course for an early 80s kung fu movie.
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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by grim_tales » 01 Nov 2019, 00:34

The Evil Dead (USA, 1982): 4/5

Influential and low budget splatter horror comedy. I say 'comedy' but while there is some slapstick humour, around the time of it's release I believe the film was seen as more serious and scarier than it's latter day reputation (and that of it's sequel) would suggest. Bruce Campbell is fun but there some disturbing scenes here and there.
I watched one of the UK BDs and it looks good.

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Re: What general film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 01 Nov 2019, 15:00

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) **
Teen zombie flick is an unlikely mix of Shaun of the Dead and High School Musical.
Never less than watchable, with spirited performances, and good sense of humour,
but repetition sets in far too quickly, with perky song and dance numbers failing to
cover up a lack of story momentum and original ideas.
Pretty Ella Hunt stars as Anna and I expect we'll be seeing more of her in future.
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