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gromit
Posted: Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:06 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
The Awful Truth (1937) was in truth awful. A screwball comedy that is rather unfunny. Often strained humor or what seems to be bad improv at times. Even Cary Grant can't figure out what to do with this role and this film.
Felt much longer than its runtime. Leo McCarey can be a plodder. hardly a thought of subtlety.

Just read on IMDb that this was largely done without a script and McCarey had the actors improvise much of it. It shows.

Cary Grant reportedly thought the film wasn't working and tried to back out, and/or switch roles. But it became a big success and made Grant a star. Go figure.

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bartist
Posted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 5:40 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6768 Location: Black Hills
Awful movies?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Harlem_Globetrotters_on_Gilligan%27s_Island

You don't need to watch, just read the synopsis and be amused.


On a slightly higher plane, just saw Okja. What a weird movie. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance is frightening. An ensemble of actors who in other contexts you would view as serious talents are similarly misused. The positive critical praise I don't entirely understand but I would guess arises from being charmed by the mega-teated Okja herself and some beautifully shot and composed sequences of superpiggery and abbatoir Hell. I can't deny the film has its moments and the young girl is sweet and tough.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:52 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
A couple months ago I watched the 1951 Harlem Globetrotters movie.
I enjoyed it. Goose Tatum is pretty funny, Marques Haynes does his fancy dribbling routine. You get to see some of their classic routines.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sIxwmQakVw&t=21s

A real actor portrays promoter/manager, Abe Saperstein, to smooth things out a little. Dorothy Dandridge plays the love interest of a brash young player who leaves college and joins the Trotters. The ending was cute.

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gromit
Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 7:38 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
So a guy on a chat group posted an offer to give away a free cat litter box (nice big one with a cat door). I needed one because it's nicer than the ones I have, plus I took in a friend's cat a few days ago.

So I responded, he lived nearby, and then he asked if I wanted a free BluRay player that he didn't need. Which I really need. Because they've stopped selling them in stores and I'm inept at buying things online in China. And free is always welcome.

Well, he also tossed in about 60 movies. I almost said No, but I don't have any Blu Rays and free is always good.

Well, I never heard of most of these films, except for the handful of Pixar/Disney animation. And some, especially the horror films are clearly not for me.

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gromit
Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 12:13 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
Here's some of the haul (as many as I type up).

Some I'll probably watch:
Wandavision - I remember hearing something about this, I'll watch it
Free Solo -- the kind of thing I might watch on a plane
Red Sparrow - ?
Papillon
Ad Astra - ?
The Little Things - generic title, strong cast (Denzel, Rami Malek, Jared Leto)
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There's another decent handful I've seen:
Green Book, Blinded by the Light, Hellboy, Christopher Robin

The 10 or so animation films are fine though I've seen many of them.
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A brace of romantic and sophomoric comedies:
The King of Staten Island
Life of the Party
Game Night
Long Shot
The Secret life of Pets 2
Fighting with My Family
Little Italy
Patrick

Are any of those watchable or worth watching?
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A few series I've never heard of:
Luke Cage Season 1 - Netflix series
Runaways Season 1
Barry S1
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Most of the rest looks incredibly awful:
Glass
Dragged Across Concrete
Final Score
The Mule
Mortal Engines
Boss Level - some violent sci-fi crap by the looks of it
Wrong Turn - horror dreck?
Cold Pursuit
Replicas
Outlaw King
Kickboxer: Retaliation
The Dead Don't Die
The Divine Fury
and another 20+ in that same vein ...
-- can't imagine watching any of that

This guy seems to like: horror films, sci-fi and action films, animation, and dopey comedies. Bottom line: nice guy with bad taste. Most likely he'd hate the films I like and dub my taste bad as well.

Let me know if any of that is good, okay, non-awful ...


Last edited by gromit on Thu Sep 30, 2021 1:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

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bartist
Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 1:07 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6768 Location: Black Hills
All I remember of Red Sparrow is that it's a violent spy actioner....in which Jennifer Lawrence is a supersexy killer superkitten and the part of my brain located at the other end of my anatomy recalls little else of it. Seriously it's missable.

Game Night is a lot of fun. Spouse and I both enjoyed this. Great comic actors at work.

Papillon, which should have rode high on the shoulders of Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen, is rather bleak and disappointing. It's an iconic film everyone my age knows but it just fails with its character development and made me so glad when it was over. Dustin Hoffman does store some money and an extra pair of glasses up his bunghole, so thanks for that memory, Mr Trumbo.

As Astra had some problems, but I've forgotten a lot of it so would have to search for my earlier review of it here. Or Syd's. Weeds hated it, iirc.

The Dead Don't Die is a relentlessly silly sendup of the zombie flick, and I recall some moments of wit and cute meta jokes (jarmusch breaking the Fourth Wall). By 2019, when it released, I had already seen a half dozen zombie sendups, and it seemed like this one added very little. Jarmusch fans would like it, I'd guess. Like Okja, which I mentioned a couple days ago, it has Tilda Swinton in full crazy mode.

Hope that offers some useful leads. Happy blew-Ray ing!

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gromit
Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 10:28 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
Thanks.
I'll make sure to try Game Night.

I've seen Papillon and recall it feeling exceedingly long.
My brother has a funny story from circa college days where he took mescaline while out partying, came home late, turned on the TV and ran across Papillon. With senses heightened, he got intensely involved in the storyline and cried throughout the film. Said it was a real emotional experience. But I think I'm all out of hallucinogenics ...
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Yikes, Red Sparrow doesn't sound like my cuppa. I just recall hearing the title in some vague capacity.

Dead Don't Die -- I was hoping to avoid that as I hated Jarmusch's recent films. Talk about a director out of ideas ...

Well, I've got some mediocre sounding comedies and a dozen animation films I can watch. But I wasn't expecting his BR collection to be so antithetical to my taste. Most of this has negative appeal to me.

I'll try to list the other two dozen violent, gory films when i have a chance,
I wonder if he kept the good stuff, or just didn't have any.
It sounded like he switched to some streaming option so didn't have use for the BR player or discs anymore. So I think he didn't save anything since he doesn't have a player anymore.

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gromit
Posted: Sat Oct 02, 2021 10:34 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
Game Night kind of annoyed me. It reminded me of an extended Scooby Do episode. A bunch of friends solving a mystery. The threat doesn't seem real, etc. It also has really one joke -- that these folks think they are playing a game and not realizing the real danger -- that it really milks endlessly. Also akin to Shaun of the Dead where folks go about their petty lives while fighting kidnapping terrorists/zombies/whatever. And it really labored to set up the cop neighbor. Actually none of the characters were believable. Scooby Do ...
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Tim Burton's Dumbo. Far too frenetic for me. Just always another complication barreling in on top of the last one. Also, old timey evil villains v. salt of the earth good guys. Meh. And the actress who played the young daughter was too stunning in a model/princess manner -- which just constantly threw me out of the film. The ending was awful pretty poorly conceived. Overall, the film just wore me out.


Last edited by gromit on Sat Oct 02, 2021 11:20 am; edited 1 time in total

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gromit
Posted: Sat Oct 02, 2021 11:03 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
I'm just half an hour into King of Staten Island and ... I quite like it.
It's a somewhat deadpan slacker comedy. Not trying to do too much, but quite solid in what it does.

The main character is a stoner-slacker. In a low key way, he's an aspiring tattoo artist. His dream is to open a tattoo-restaurant, which is of course an awful idea. But for now he occasionally does iffy renditions on his friends for practice. One black friend is miffed because his Obama tattoo is rather off. Then we see a fairly spooky looking tattoo of a child on another friend. Presumably, another poor job, but instead the guy says it looks exactly like his brother. Then the guy pulls up his shirt to reveal a sizable stomach tattoo of a cat walking away but turning around to look back. The kicker is that the guy's belly button is the cat's butt. It's such a weird, wrong concept that I couldn't stop laughing. I definitely will need to go back and see that again after the film ends.

Anyway, it's very SI specific. The characters are solid. So far doesn't try to overdo things. Low key observational humor, with a bunch of peripheral New Yorkers. Enjoyable.

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Syd
Posted: Sun Oct 03, 2021 9:03 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12718 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
The Warren Theater is doing a lot of anniversary films, and tonight was the 80th anniversary showing of "Dracula" and "Frankenstein," neither of which I'd seen on a movie screen. One of Dracula's unnatural powers is that when you see him at night, his eyes and the part of his face around them are spotlit.

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gromit
Posted: Sun Oct 03, 2021 11:48 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
It makes up for his mirror deficit ...

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gromit
Posted: Sun Oct 03, 2021 12:16 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
Well, I definitely liked The King of Staten Island set up more than the rest of the film. It kind of meanders and becomes less interesting once the Mom has a boyfriend. Some of that and the conflict with the son seemed sort of autopilot. Also, the main character just acts inappropriately and like a jerk much of the time, and that gets tiresome. He also mentions a number of times that he has mental problems and nobody seems to engage that or get him help. He does mention that he is on anti-depressant medication. So I guess he is getting some (off screen) help. But basically he seems like a danger to himself or others and nobody intervenes or tries to get him professional help.

Otherwise the film is far too long at 2'15". Needed to be edited down and focused more. And lastly some of the minor jokes are rather basic and flat. Screenplay needed to be tightened up and jokes reworked. I did like the set up, character intros, early interactions and relationships. Was on board for the first 30 mins...

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Syd
Posted: Sun Oct 03, 2021 8:10 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12718 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
gromit wrote:

Papillon
Fighting with My Family

Let me know if any of that is good, okay, non-awful ...


These two, especially the latter, which is about the mixed martial arts culture family whose daughter became a world champion (and is played by Florence Pugh!) The Rock's part is rather small and mostly fictional, but the rest is fairly close to the actual story. I believe he was doing it to help people find it. There's also a documentary somewhere about this family, but this is a good movie.

I've not seen any of the ones you're actively avoiding.

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gromit
Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2021 2:44 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
Syd wrote:
gromit wrote:

Fighting with My Family


These two, especially the latter, which is about the mixed martial arts culture family whose daughter became a world champion (and is played by Florence Pugh!) The Rock's part is rather small and mostly fictional, but the rest is fairly close to the actual story. I believe he was doing it to help people find it. There's also a documentary somewhere about this family, but this is a good movie.


Thanks for that. Fighting with My Family was enjoyable. I liked the first half dealing with the small-time wrestling family better than when she goes to the US to try to make it in the WWE. That training is hard and competitive is less interesting, harder to dramatize and somewhat formulaic.
Vince Vaughn was good as a hard-nosed coach for the aspiring female wrestlers.

Not mixed martial arts but what used to be called "championship wrestling" -- the scripted crazy sort with colorful characters. Maybe just called professional wrestling these days in the US. Internets say Paige had to retire age 25 due to a neck injury. It's a pretty demanding sport/activity, and injuries fairly common.
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Sidenote: I used to watch Vince McMahon's WWF wrestling on a local NY TV station (back in the days when there were just 7 stations). It was on past my bedtime, but we'd sneak it on a small portable black and white Tv. Talking 1974-75.

McMahon's wrestling was pretty rinky dink. Andre the Giant, The Polish Hammer Ivan Putski, Gorilla Monsoon, Haystack Calhoun, Bruno Samartino, Chief Jay Strongbow. The managers were strong presences -- Capt. Lou Albano, Bobby The Brain Heenan, Classy Freddie Blassie -- mostly I suspect because the wrestlers weren't terribly articulate or charismatic. It was fun wacky stuff when I was 9 and 10.

My father has been a fan since wrestling broke mainstream in the 80's. Would call me into the den to catch some ludicrous storyline or wild goofy match. It's very strange, silly stuff. My father is an inveterate channel changer, but wrestling is probably the one thing he watches more than anything else.

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gromit
Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:39 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8920 Location: Shanghai
Ad Astra suffers from one fatal flaw. It's a crappy film.
Actually you can make a catalog of what's wrong with it.

First off, the background science is vague and confusing. There are power surges coming from likely Neptune, which is causing havoc on Earth and other human solar system settlements. The suspect is a rogue astronaut. How or why he could generate "power" that could "surge" all the way from Neptune is unclear, though we might be getting a mate reveal (I still have a half hour to go). Neptune is extremely far away. He was looking for alien life outside the solar system, so you could script in that he found some and they enjoy shooting super-hyper-energy at the sun or whatever.

Anyway, the problem seems rather uninspired as the major crisis that puts the plot into gear. There's another incidents that left me quizzical. A Norwegian biomedical and animal testing spacecraft floating around Saturn. It's the kind of thing typical of this film that sounds cool, but makes little to no sense without some explication we don't get. Similarly the Moon is all Mad Max, with dune buggy pirates attacking astronauts and US military in dune buggies.

And that's another problem. The film lurches from one crisis to another, without really any overarching themes. And we don't have a sense whether the Earth is some sort of high-tech dystopia or just the extra-plane tray colonization is a mess. Really we get little info about the Earth at all.

Second main problem is that backstories and conflicts are explained in the clunkiest manner as briefly as possible. Actual Brad Pitt voiceover thoughts: "My dad was the most greatest and most decorated astronaut in the history of the program." The black female head of Mars operations explains in her 2 minutes on screen that Pitt's father faced a mutiny and shut off the life support, killing all crew, mutineers and loyalists alike, thereby murdering her astronaut parents. Then she pops back in a few scenes later to offer to help Pitt sneak on board and stowaway on a mission to Neptune to confront his father.

Because how hard can it be to sneak on board a major rocket launch? You just need to use the Mars underground tunnel system, and then swim in your full astronaut suit through the underground martian lake. Uh, there's a whole lotta war below Mars surface? They could have explained that this was a water reserve cistern, built by humans and filled by hydrolysis or whatever. Instead Pitt just runs across an underground lake and uses the convenient rope to get through. I guess a fully geared up astronaut making his way through water sounded cool too.

I was amused how Pitt opens and shuts the entry hatch just seconds before ignition. It seemed as though there was a backdoor -- emergency exit hatch -- on the rocketship. And then Pitt and the astronauts engage in a zero gravity brawl, with one brainiac firing a gun. Again, must've sounded like a cool idea on paper.

There are a few good visuals in the film, and it becomes clear that the cool visuals is the point of the film and more important than the storyline. The film makes it abundantly clear that Pitt is turning into his father. It almost seemed like farce when Pitt manages to kill the crew and become a lone renegade astronaut like his father. And that's the best theme and idea in the whole film.

Pitt and the dialogue are mostly stilted and awkward. Pitt trying to emote and be serious in close-up rarely works here. No one is convincing in these crappy roles with poor dialogue and a weak storyline.

Other issues: the voiceover thoughts is a rather weak device. The flashbacks and videos of loved ones is rather cliched, but also an overedited numbing jumble. The story races from one crisis action scene to another, so there is almost no emotional resonance to anything in the film. Even though the central conceit is that the father and son are engaged in this taut cosmic drama.

Just a badly conceived film. It wants to show you cool action sequences and visuals in space, and hangs them on a skeletal story.

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