What was the last film you watched?

Willie Oleson

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MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (1991)

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The artistic style makes it a very interesting film, but the flowery speech doesn't always work for me (unless it is supposed to be a warped interpretation from River Phoenix's character's point of view, but I'm not sure about that).
It's possible that a character like Bob Pigeon couldn't exist without the arty-farty approach, to make him look as "legendary" as he was supposed to be.
Nevertheless, I find the deadpan weirdness of characters like Hans and Budd much more entertaining to watch.

Whatever it is that the film (for better or worse) tries to convey, it doesn't seem to affect River Phoenix at all. I don't know how he managed to make sense of it but he completely disappears in his role, and perhaps it is that very performance that makes the film's flaws a little bit more noticeable.
It's a pity that so much of his on-screen presence is in a state of unconsciousness, especially when Keanu Reeves has to fill those running time gaps.
That being said, Keanu is perfectly cast as the exotic object of desire, and his somewhat inept attempts to keep up with River Phoenix' acting kind of accidentally makes Scott Favor's out-of-reachness more physical, as if he embodies the artificial still images of the erotic scenes.
But it's always his scenes without River that drags the film down a little bit (imho, of course).
 

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MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO is a flawed but fascinatingly little avant-guard, occasionally cinéma vérité, mess of a movie (they use real street boys in the cast) and is the perfect film to capture the cusp-of-the-'80s-and-'90s zeitgeist (whatever that is). Perpetually on the edge of a nap, River Phoenix is terrific; Keanu is Keanu, and tries to master the Shakespeare; the cinematography is breath-taking. And it almost works.

And it has those numerous prescient moments contained in so many River Phoenix movies (like his collapsing onto sidewalks, roads, etc.) we've come to expect. Like Natalie Wood in peril near the water.

Curiously, Gore Vidal turned down the role of the pederastic mentor of a band of hustler kids (ultimately played by William Richert) a real-life portrait of the guy cast to give River a B.J. in the near-opening scene. Although Vidal liked the movie -- well, he wrote Myra Breckenridge -- he didn't want to play it (some have suggested it was too typecasting for his tastes).

But the picture ends on the same song that opens BONNIE AND CLYDE, and it confuses me.
 

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I just saw Night of the Hunter(1955). I enjoyed it, but I needed to do some research after to find out why it is considered such a scary thriller. I did not find it scary, but nore if a character study of different religious personalities. I understand it much better after I read about what the director, Charles Laughton, was doing in terms of lighting, camera angles, and the influence of German expressionism on him. I don't fully understand German expressionism,but now I want to learn more.
Anyway, I was expecting a scary thriller, which I didn't get. However, what I did get was fascinating and unusual movie.
 

Willie Oleson

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FIRESTARTER (2022)

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I was in the mood for an easy popcorn watch, something that wouldn't challenge me too much.
Apart from being a remake it also got a terrible rating on IMDB, but I'm happy to report that there's no need to avoid this film.

I've watched the original In the 1980s and thought it was a poor imitation of CARRIE, and at that time I kinda hated Drew Barrymore with her snotty little Hollywood face.
I figured this bad memory would give me an advantage on watching the remake, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how emotional it was. It doesn't feel as if the various fire spectacles take centre stage, it's more about a superhero coming to terms with her powers. It's easy to lash out but it's more rewarding to be kind, that sort of thing.
Perhaps, in a way, it can be viewed as an X-Men prequel rather than a Stephen King story, although I probably wouldn't have bothered if it had been an X-men prequel.
But let's not speculate about things that didn't happen.

The pacing and the dramatic tension isn't always perfect, but the only thing that really annoyed me was the drab, beige colour scheme. For reasons unknown to me there are still many filmmakers who think that it's going to look more natural when they suck the colours out of it. Most of the original streaming content have that strange blue-ish filter and it just doesn't look good at all.
For a film made in 2022 I thought the picture quality was really bad sometimes, like watching a VHS rental from the 1990s, but I'm going to assume this was the result of a bad streaming encoding or my computer's inability to show it in 4K or whatever.

 

Willie Oleson

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THE MISFITS (1961)

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It took me only 5 minutes to realise I was watching an unusual film, an almost experimental mix of classic Hollywood and Indie cinema.
The acting, editing and cinematography looks excitingly vibrant even though the story starts somewhere in the middle of another story.
Thelma Ritter plays a landlady of sorts and she has devoted her life to the guidance of soon-to-be-ex-wives, maybe that's why I got Australian vibes from her.
Her arm is bandaged and I wonder if it was a real injury because story-wise it doesn't serve any purpose.
It was Knots Landing's Ben Gibson all over again .

Marilyn Monroe is the weak link in this otherwise great ensemble cast, but perhaps the story wouldn't make sense without her Marilyn Monroeness.
While the physical attraction is addressed, sometimes even in a crude way, it seems rather unlikely that three single men would be content with her friendship.
But if a filmmaker wants to tear up the rulebook of "movie romance" then I'm all for it.
And it's very nice to see that Marilyn is a champion in solo-pingpong.

Some histrionic outbursts come out of nowhere, and Clark Gable's scene in which he can't "find" his daughters could rival Patty Duke's infamous meltdown in Valley Of The Dolls.
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Gayloooooord! Rose-Mae!
I get the feeling that Huston and Miller have tried to inject a bit of Eurocinema into their black & white Americana, and if that's true then the effort is very much appreciated.

But all these unusual an entertaining goings-on disappear in the second part of the film, it's almost as if a new team has taken over.
Marilyn Monroe's character's childlike idealism and mid-sentence deep breaths become increasingly challenging to watch, and the feel of the story becomes more explanative in dialogue and I think it's a pity that they decided to hammer it home in such a traditional way.
Incidentally, Thelma Ritter doesn't star in the second part, but I'm not completely sure if that has anything to do with it.

It's difficult to rate a film that is partially wonderful and partially underwhelming, but I don't regret watching it.
 

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THE MISFITS (1961)

View attachment 53270

It took me only 5 minutes to realise I was watching an unusual film, an almost experimental mix of classic Hollywood and Indie cinema.
The acting, editing and cinematography looks excitingly vibrant even though the story starts somewhere in the middle of another story.
Thelma Ritter plays a landlady of sorts and she has devoted her life to the guidance of soon-to-be-ex-wives, maybe that's why I got Australian vibes from her.
Her arm is bandaged and I wonder if it was a real injury because story-wise it doesn't serve any purpose.
It was Knots Landing's Ben Gibson all over again .

Marilyn Monroe is the weak link in this otherwise great ensemble cast, but perhaps the story wouldn't make sense without her Marilyn Monroeness.
While the physical attraction is addressed, sometimes even in a crude way, it seems rather unlikely that three single men would be content with her friendship.
But if a filmmaker wants to tear up the rulebook of "movie romance" then I'm all for it.
And it's very nice to see that Marilyn is a champion in solo-pingpong.

Some histrionic outbursts come out of nowhere, and Clark Gable's scene in which he can't "find" his daughters could rival Patty Duke's infamous meltdown in Valley Of The Dolls.
View attachment 53271

I get the feeling that Huston and Miller have tried to inject a bit of Eurocinema into their black & white Americana, and if that's true then the effort is very much appreciated.

But all these unusual an entertaining goings-on disappear in the second part of the film, it's almost as if a new team has taken over.
Marilyn Monroe's character's childlike idealism and mid-sentence deep breaths become increasingly challenging to watch, and the feel of the story becomes more explanative in dialogue and I think it's a pity that they decided to hammer it home in such a traditional way.
Incidentally, Thelma Ritter doesn't star in the second part, but I'm not completely sure if that has anything to do with it.

It's difficult to rate a film that is partially wonderful and partially underwhelming, but I don't regret watching it.

One of my faves, so era-specific in its forlorn appeal.
 

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I saw the 1956 film Around the World in 80 Days for the first time. Having already seen both TV versions from the 1980s and 2020s, I was curious to see how the 1956 film approached the topic.

I knew nothing about the film other than the plot, that David Niven starred in it, and that it won the Oscar for best picture. What confused me was that the French Passepartout was played by a Mexican actor. When I saw Fernandel briefly in the first scenes and he didn't reappear again, but other stars were briefly seen, I realized that the cameo appearances were a theme of the film and perhaps the most interesting part of it. However, I wondered if all the stars participated voluntarily or if some were forced into it by the studio.

While watching it, I asked myself whether the competition was so weak that year that Around the World in 80 Days won best picture at the Oscars. What bothered me was that nothing was really explained. The hot air baloon seemed to suddenly be there when it was needed, as was the wind-powered sledge.

Although I'm glad I finally saw the film, I probably won't watch it a second time.
 
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The Butler (2013)
Inspired by the life of a real African-American butler who worked at the White House during the turbulent 60a and 70s.
The history of that era is fairly well-trodden cinematically but still pack a punch, especially given the personal treatment it receives here - although I thought it was bit too coincidental that one of his son's was involved in the Civil Rights movement and the other was sent to Vietnam - the two most controversial events of the time. Perhaps that was true to the subject's life, I don't know. It's also a bit jarring that some of the presidents are portrayed by actors and some through historic footage, but maybe that's just me.
Overall, though, a stirring depiction.
 

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The Other Mother (2017 TV Movie)
A twist on Gaslight. A divorced mother finds herself the target of her ex-husband's new wife in a scheme to paint her as a neurotic.
Annie Wersching stars. I regard her a one of the great underrated actresses and was very sad to hear that she died last year at only 45.
 

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Bad Boys 4 (2024)

After the third movie a few years back, which I wasn’t a big fan of, I was kind of apprehensive about this one. To my surprise it far exceeded my expectations. Tons of laughs and a good enough plot for the fourth installment of a franchise they seem to intend on moving forward.
 

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Muriel's Wedding (1994)



Last time I gave this one a spin was the 25th Anniversary. This year it's the 30th!

These days it takes an exceptional film for me to be able to revisit at all, even if it is just twice a decade. I've had a yen for something Australian for a while. And yesterday evening I also craved something familiar and comforting. Throw in that I've been on an ABBA jag for the last couple of weeks and there really was only one film.

After a number of watches and rewatches, Muriel has become a little bit of a Rocky Horror Show experience, where every utterance of "what a coincidence" or "you're terrible, Muriel" is anticipated and relished. This also goes for the one-off classics like "I'm a parking inspector"; "Are you black?" and "I'm not alone... I'm with Muriel".

Muriel never gets old for me. It's everything. Quirky. Hilarious. Daft. Touching. Joyous. It breaks my heart then puts it back together again.

 

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May December (2023)
A while back I watched Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right (2010). Here she is in another unconventional family as a woman who had been jailed for her relationship with an underage boy to whom she has subsequently been married for 24 years.

There have been some similar cases in the news over the years but this doesn't seem to be based on any one in particular.

Natalie Portman also stars as an actress who wants to get to know the family as preparation for playing her in a movie.

It's an unusual way of telling the story and comes across a little like a sequel to an earlier movie that was never made.
 

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Sadly, my feelings about the film overall are more mixed than I'd hoped. Much as I enjoyed the opening scenes of young George saving the pharmacist from making a fatal error, it went a bit downhill after that. I found it very slow and sluggish, which in itself would have been fine were it not for the cloyingly saccharine tweeness prevalent in American films of the era. I know George's optimistic spirit needed to be there to be broken but he was so damned chipper that I found him very irritating. Then there was all that business with his brother and the stupid honking noise and accompanying gesture they'd do upon parting (these are actual adults). And every time Donna Reed sang at him I heaved (I really wasn't sure what to make of her character. She came across as manipulative and shrewish much of the time which didn't garner much empathy).

I skipped by your review when you posted it back in late 2022. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE isn't just one of my favorite films, it's one I regard as among the best ever made. My mom watched IAWL annually, a tradition I've continued. I've also seen it in theatrical re-releases at least six times. I consider it a bellwether film -- when someone says they don't like it, my opinion of their opinions takes a hit. At the time, I didn't want to seem like I was attacking your view of the movie or, worse, smugly implying that I thought you didn't get it. Since your memories of the movie seem to be more positive than your immediate reaction, I'm more inclined to give my counter view.

There are many virtues of the film that I could extol, but I think its technical prowess is remarkable. For years, I assumed the movie was filmed on location; a rarity for the era. It's amazing to me that Bedford Falls was conjured up on a Hollywood backlot. It feels like a real place, grounding the film in one of the most important elements of fiction: verisimilitude. Sure there are elements of the movie that are dated; it is nearly 80 years old. I'm never not vexed by Sam Wainwright's "Hee-Haw!" -- but also think that irksomeness is intentional. If Sam was less annoying, George would have likely have gone into business with him. A poor decision made for a dumb reason that changed the course of his life -- something I suspect most of us can relate to.

I really reject any notion that the movie is saccharine or picture perfect. George is resistant and resentful about his life every step of the way: his job, his wife, his kids. Even when he appears happy, there's always an undercurrent of discontentedness. The failure to appreciate what one has is, again, something I think everyone can relate to at some point. The ending -- sometimes celebrated, sometimes mocked -- is one of the most earned emotional releases of any movie.

I don't think I'd feel I was missing out if I never watched it again.

Since your recollection of the film has drifted more towards the positive, I'd encourage you to rethink this.
 

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I skipped by your review when you posted it back in late 2022. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE isn't just one of my favorite films, it's one I regard as among the best ever made. My mom watched IAWL annually, a tradition I've continued. I've also seen it in theatrical re-releases at least six times. I consider it a bellwether film -- when someone says they don't like it, my opinion of their opinions takes a hit. At the time, I didn't want to seem like I was attacking your view of the movie or, worse, smugly implying that I thought you didn't get it. Since your memories of the movie seem to be more positive than your immediate reaction, I'm more inclined to give my counter view.

There are many virtues of the film that I could extol, but I think its technical prowess is remarkable. For years, I assumed the movie was filmed on location; a rarity for the era. It's amazing to me that Bedford Falls was conjured up on a Hollywood backlot. It feels like a real place, grounding the film in one of the most important elements of fiction: verisimilitude. Sure there are elements of the movie that are dated; it is nearly 80 years old. I'm never not vexed by Sam Wainwright's "Hee-Haw!" -- but also think that irksomeness is intentional. If Sam was less annoying, George would have likely have gone into business with him. A poor decision made for a dumb reason that changed the course of his life -- something I suspect most of us can relate to.

I really reject any notion that the movie is saccharine or picture perfect. George is resistant and resentful about his life every step of the way: his job, his wife, his kids. Even when he appears happy, there's always an undercurrent of discontentedness. The failure to appreciate what one has is, again, something I think everyone can relate to at some point. The ending -- sometimes celebrated, sometimes mocked -- is one of the most earned emotional releases of any movie.



Since your recollection of the film has drifted more towards the positive, I'd encourage you to rethink this.

And photographed by the great Joe Biroc!

Have you seen the disturbing SNL satire? I'm guessing you have.

EDIT: actually two SNL skits:


 
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Crimson

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And photographed by the great Joe Biroc!

Yes, it's a beautiful film assuming one is viewing the restoration and not the degraded, public domain versions that were so common on TV for decades.

Have you seen the disturbing SNL satire?

I love the first one, the alternate ending with Potter getting his comeuppance and a good thrashing.
 

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Murder & Cocktails (2024)



When a free film on Prime has this year as a production date, it's a bit of a red flag so expectations were low. I also realised within five minutes that I wasn't enjoying it, but found myself continuing out of some kind of perversity (along with a need to find something to like about it).

I suppose it can be summed up by saying it's a nice concept, but the creators' reach exceeded their grasp. It was difficult to invest and I know I'll have forgotten it by this time tomorrow. But it killed 90 minutes.





I consider it a bellwether film -- when someone says they don't like it, my opinion of their opinions takes a hit.

I can understand that and relate to it.

If it helps, my comments on the film didn't mention not liking it. Since I praised Capra's direction, said I viewed this as James Stewart's "finest performance", used superlatives including "terrific" and "wonderful" and described having chills as I watched, I'd say I took away more positives than not.

(But we may be in trouble if Murder & Cocktails is one of your favourites).




Since your recollection of the film has drifted more towards the positive, I'd encourage you to rethink this.

Oh, I'd still be open to watching it again sometime.
 
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