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bartist
Posted: Tue Mar 17, 2020 7:37 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6525
Bernadette did appear to be a very conformist film about non-conformity. So I skipped. I am descended from an Arctic explorer so if you need any travel tips...actually, got nothing. Hmm. Wait.
Socks. Socks are key.

Will look for Running with Scissors. Thought that was a weird dark comedy with Amy Sedaris but no, that was Strangers with Candy. I guess the crossed wire was owing to both having common phrases from my childhood.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 7:27 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
Running with Scissors is nothing great. I was just thinking of other, better quirky films with a dysfunctional mother. R w/ S is based on a true memoir, has a better cast led by Benning, and just has more going on and more at stake. It at least feels real with genuine consequences for actual characters, as opposed to the carefully-constructed offend-nobody bland Bernadette.
________________________________________

Otherwise, I still can't decide if it's worth it to spend a lot of money and take a lot of time&effort to go to Antarctica. I'm sure it would be pretty incredible in its own way, even if you can only explore a tiny patch of the continent. I think I need to read up on how stage-managed and hyper-safety and rule-based it all is.

I'm used to going to some random country and somewhat diving in to the local culture. And this has become easier as apartments have become much easier to rent, so you're no longer limited to hotels and trained hospitality people and a more structured tourist environment. I'm not opposed to hotels and booking.com has made it easier to select a hotel where you want (I like to be in the heart of things) and with the amenities you prefer (for me, usually a good breakfast buffet and a swimming pool, even if time usually doesn't permit using it).

As for Antarctica, I've never been on a boat cruise/tour before. And I guess this isn't exactly the best year to choose to do one. Though maybe there are cancellations and the prices have gone down and availability up. For the most part the Antarctic tourist season is DEC-JAN, and usually you need to book and pay almost a year in advance. So maybe I should look into if I could slip into a cancellation spot at a good last minute rate. Xmas in Antarctica sounds impressive. But it's going to be some effort & $$ to get there.

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Befade
Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 1:12 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3658 Location: AZ
Iím booking a trip to Norway in October. Who knows? But Iíve always wanted to spend some time in Oslo.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 3:56 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
Who knows what will be going on virally then.
But I would think things will be better by then.

I would like to plan a trip for late September/early October -- for China's National Day weeklong holiday -- but don't know if travel will be normalized by then. Maybe Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

So why Norway?

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gromit
Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 4:12 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
I enjoyed Jo Jo Rabbit a good deal. It's a nice looking and polished film, which I wasn't expecting. Not sure why, but I thought it would look more low budget and slapdash. I thought the look, colours, costumes and feel were real relaxing and enjoyable.

Some seemed to have problems with a goofy, comic Hitler. But I saw this as Hitler as conceived by a 10 year old boy, who imagines him as his friend and partner/adviser. There's something darkly comic about Hitler complaining that the Jew project in the boy's house isn't progressing well.

I thought the two boy actors were very good, especially the lead. But also his fat guileless friend Yorki. I liked all the characters, but thought the Jewish girl was too restrained, too modern, and underdeveloped for the most part. I thought she was the weak link, whereas I've read a number of people saying the opposite, that she was the only good actor in the film. Everyone in the film except her is a little off-kilter, a little zany, mostly dreamers and oddball strivers. To like her performance and none of the others is to stay outside the film and not become engaged.

The wrap-up is a bit too pat, but I rarely hold films quick tidy endings against them; I just don't like long overblown endings.

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gromit
Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:42 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
Motherless Brooklyn is rather lumpy. It has a TV movie look and feel to it. With a kind of stagey falseness to it. Half the scenes felt like a rehearsal to me. Edward Norton's afflicted-savant comes off as real annoying early on, and then he gets to be more polished and smooth, with just a few twitches and such. Ill-considered and really makes it his movie all-around.

The noir story at the heart of the film, and the twist aren't really that interesting, and the evils of gentrification don't really get one's blood racing. They could have tried to make racism and profiteering more relevant to today. The investigation is too slow and choppy. Then there's a whole bunch of exposition to catch you up on how the characters/pieces fit together. Then finally the film picks up a bit, but by then I didn't care.

I think both the structure of the film and the phony movie-look of the film work against this succeeding. Also, all of the characters are just brief sketches except for Norton's lead. The young black woman at the heart of the film is a complete cypher. Bruce Willis comes back a few times briefly in ghostly memory flashbacks, but he was a ghost when he was alive. A complete nothing of a character. The only good role was that of the elderly female activist who seems to have real spunk and something to say and delivers both anger and reason. She was the only highlight of the film.

MB basically comes across as cross between Cotton Club and Lucky Number Slevin with Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man or Spacey's Verbal Klint in the lead.
Don't say you weren't warned.

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gromit
Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2020 1:39 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
So apparently I saw First Reformed almost a year ago and didn't get much from it. Here's my old review:

gromit wrote:
My cats like First Reformed better than I did. Because when I get bored by a film, they get a lot of attention. I found the first half too slow paced, and then the second half kind of silly. I thought Amanda Seyfried's performance was awful and empty. Probably a function of being underwritten. Her husband and his eco-despair seemed forced and trying to hard to be topical. I thought in a number of scenes the acting was visible. And in the latter half, the horror movie music was annoying and distracting.

I guess the film fully lost me with the Magical Mystery Tour and the priest's eco-dystopian vision. Although the idea of him repressing his urges by focusing on desolation and her husband's obsession is an interesting idea. But I really disliked how it played out. I also saw where the film was heading way early, which is unusual since I really never guess at what will happen, but it just seemed a little obvious that the priest wound up with a certain possession of the dead husband.

I thought the multi-culturalism seemed oddly exaggerated and unexplained. Where are we in New England that a large mostly black outreach church has supplanted the old white congregation? A group of 5 schoolchildren are brought in for some history of the church, the teacher is Asian, the kids are black, asian, two girls and a token white boy. That was only distracting, but the environmental theme seemed goofy and poorly integrated despite being at the core of the film, along with faith.

When the narration is the most interesting part of a film, you have trouble. About the only part of the film I liked was when the priest harshly dismisses the churchlady who is in love with him. I guess the trap door and the church as part of the underground railroad was another good moment, but just one very brief scene.

Overall I thought 1st Reformed was boring, thematically silly, with poor acting, and a clunky script.

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gromit
Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:55 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
This seems to be my 2019 film viewing so far:

2019 FILMS

Liked:
1. Jo Jo Rabbit
2. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
3. Lighthouse
4. American Factory

Fine Enough:
5. Yesterday
6. The Best of Enemies
7. Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

Okay-ish:
8. Rocketman
9. Greta
10. Under the Silver Lake
11. Stockholm

Weak:
12. Where'd You Go Bernadette?
13. Motherless Brooklyn

Disliked:
14. Uncut Gems
15. A Simple Favor
16. A Star is Born
17. High Life Claire Denis


Want To See:

Honeyland (Macedonia)
Transit - Christian Petzold, Germany
Marriage Story
The Invisible Man
Itís Such a Beautiful Day
The Souvenir Joanna Hogg
Cats
Judy
Blinded by the Light
maybe Richard Jewell

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bartist
Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2020 8:33 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6525
Spouse and I both are partially benched by the panda Mick, so we are starting to catch up on last 2 years of missed flicks. JJR, Yesterday and Last Black Man are in the queue. Lighthouse and Midsommar, per spouse, I'm seeing on my own. Richard Jewel didn't much excite, but we're considering.

I know Boz (er, whiskeypriest) is in love with Renee Zellwegger so I'm sure he will see Judy. I'm pretty stoked over The Invisible Man, but have to wait until the local multiplex reopens. Reading between the lines of their webpage it sounds like they have to sterilize everything and then organize ticket sales that maximize crowd distribution with no more than 50 people per screening. It may not happen.

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billyweeds
Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:09 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20487 Location: New York City
gromit wrote:
This seems to be my 2019 film viewing so far:

2019 FILMS

Liked:
1. Jo Jo Rabbit
2. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
3. Lighthouse
4. American Factory

Fine Enough:
5. Yesterday
6. The Best of Enemies
7. Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

Okay-ish:
8. Rocketman
9. Greta
10. Under the Silver Lake
11. Stockholm

Weak:
12. Where'd You Go Bernadette?
13. Motherless Brooklyn

Disliked:
14. Uncut Gems
15. A Simple Favor
16. A Star is Born
17. High Life Claire Denis


Want To See:

Honeyland (Macedonia)
Transit - Christian Petzold, Germany
Marriage Story
The Invisible Man
Itís Such a Beautiful Day
The Souvenir Joanna Hogg
Cats
Judy
Blinded by the Light
maybe Richard Jewell


I haven't seen most of these movies, and we mostly disagree on the ones I've seen. "Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood" is not only my favorite film of 2019, it's my favorite of the past 20 years and now resides on my all-time top-ten list. I absolutely adored "Uncut Gems" and semi-loved "A Star Is Born." Meanwhile I was blah on JJR and detested "Rocketman." Meanwhile, however, we agree on "Motherless Brooklyn." Meh to the max.
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gromit
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 3:42 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
I didn't make a 2019 list until yesterday, so the order isn't that great. Ordinarily I make a Year List as I see the films, so I can compare reasonably well and slot them in among the previous comparisons.

I used category headings, because I wasn't terribly sure on order.
Really the Weak section could be re-labeled Disliked.
And Disliked changed to Really Disliked.

Uncut Gems drops way down because I hated it's ugly close-up shaky camerawork and its music. Thought it an ugly film. Then i didn't like the plot, characters or acting. And well, that's the ballgame. Speaking of ballgames, the climax occurs with a guy watching a basketball game on TV while 3 others guys who don't like him sit in a glass-enclosed vestibule for hours. Such drama! Might have wanted to rethink that ...

If it weren't for the stupid, perplexing ending I'd probably be willing to re-watch Once Upon a Time with Leo & Brad. But Tarantino movies just blah me out and never improve.

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gromit
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 3:52 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
Motherless Brooklyn was heading to the lowest rungs, but in the last 20 minutes the pace at least picked up and I hadn't completely tuned out. Norton mostly played the last half hour as a leading man and largely ditched the silly routine (minor twitching with Tourette's mostly disguised as sneezes).

I was still largely disaffected, but then after the Dvd ended, the film restarted and I watched the first 15 minutes again. I still didn't think the tone or look was right at all -- I kept expecting someone off-screen to yell Cut! -- but now that I was used to it more or less, Norton's twitchy routine which kicks off the film wasn't as jarring or as much of a turn-off. I still disliked the film. And forgot to mention in my initial review how the music cues and the scene transitions really annoyed me throughout.

So I charitably bumped it up a level to keep the bland slightly PC-annoying Bernadette company.
_________________________________________________________

Motherless Brooklyn has a lot of problems. It never became gritty or stylized, two workable options for a film noir. But instead had this phony style that seemed like acting or perhaps a TV movie. The small but important Bruce Willis and GuGu doll roles were underwritten and completely vacuous.

But two things I really disliked. When a character is supposed to be a savant of sorts, and then everyone in the film tells us that fact in case we didn't get the point. It's difficult to convincingly portray someone who has some sort of extraordinary abilities and integrate such character into a dramatic plot. Usually they rely on some bs demonstrations and other characters pointing out the genius of the savant. Generally a turn-off for me.

Another bugaboo for me, I hate it when some government or corporate official becomes a gun-toting killer. It's just not very believable or the way the world really works, but irresistible for screenwriters. In MB the planning commission head has henchmen and tries to gun down people. Yuck. Another semi-recent example, Tilda Swinson's corporate lawyer in that Clooney film, Michael Clayton. Gov't officials and corporate counsel rarely resort to killing to protect their white collar crimes. It's a dumb ploy.

(did I use the word bugaboo correctly? Something that irks me. Does that work?)

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Syd
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:28 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12583 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Of the ones you're planning to watch, I really liked "Blinded by the Light" and "Richard Jewell." The latter might make a good double bill with "Dark Waters," which is about a long (very long) quest to get justice for victims of an industrial chemical.

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gromit
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 1:24 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8682 Location: Shanghai
Half that To See list is from recs here.

Blinded By The Light is here, I know. Sounds like a companion piece to Yesterday.

I really should put that list on my phone so when I'm at the Last Dvd Shop in Shanghai, I know what I'm looking for. And the owner there will look them up on his phone if he doesn't know the English name of the film.

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billyweeds
Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2020 11:08 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20487 Location: New York City
I didn't really like "Blinded by the Light" a lot, but absolutely loved "Richard Jewell" AND "Dark Waters." RJ was the first Clint Eastwood film I've liked in decades.
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