Movies

TSPDT Double Feature

This week I gave myself a double dose of They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? with the movies Storm Over Asia and Das Boot. My desire to watch each of these movies couldn’t have been any more different, but without further ado let’s get into it.

Storm Over Asia (1928)

Starting off with #989, Storm Over Asia or Potomok Chingis-Khana if you prefer original titles. This is a silent, historical, 2+ hour long Russian movie about uhhh, trying to sell some furs, getting in a fight, then being mistaken for Genghis Khan. I judge books by their covers, and I thought this would bore the pants off of me. I psyched myself up and hit play. The first thing I noticed was the music which was so different from other silent movies I’ve seen. This one was Asian themed and I liked it a lot actually. I think it fit well with the movie and I didn’t get sick of it after the 2 hour runtime like I have with other silent movies I’ve watched. The effects were also pretty good for such an old movie. They actually showed blood that looked like blood which I found somewhat shocking for a movie from the 20s. It was also very impressive that they shot the movie in Mongolia and hired Mongolian actors to play many of the parts which added a lot authenticity to the movie.

Overall, this wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be, but I did zone out a little in the middle. Even so, this is in my personal top 5 silent movies… out of the 10 or so that I’ve seen…

Verdict: 7/10


Das Boot (1981)das_boot.png

Next let’s fast forward to 1981 with Das Boot, a movie about Germans on a U-boat in WWII. This would be #988 on the list and is my second time seeing it. I was so excited to re-watch it and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. I think the first time I ended up watching the nearly 5 hour version, this time I watched the 3 and a half hour version but boy did it not feel that long… there wasn’t a single moment when I asked myself when this was going to be over.  This movie is so intense, it had my stomach in knots. I had the added bonus of not remembering how it ends and the ending just blew my mind. I loved it so much that I won’t dare spoil anything, even though that’s the tagline of my blog. As far as special effects go, they built scale models to do some of the outside sea shots which held up really well almost 40 years later. They even built a life sized U-boat set to use where you can see how insanely small those things were for the amount of people they carried. You can just imagine the filth and stench inside that boat after months on sea. I just can’t get over how well this movie was made. I loved every minute of it.

This movie is suspenseful, emotional, claustrophobic and beautifully made. I can’t stop praising it enough, and because of that I decided that it’s earned a place in my top 20 movies of all time. Don’t be scared of the runtime for this movie because it doesn’t feel long at all. But if you still can’t stomach watching such a long movie, there’s a shorter one at around 2 and a half hours that just might do it for you. So turn off the lights, turn up the volume and enjoy!

Verdict: 9.5/10

 

 

 

Oh, hi there, nice of you to still be reading… here’s a bonus movie just for you.

Miller’s Crossing (1990)millers_crossing.png

I had this one laying around for awhile and decided to finally give it a watch and it was just alright. It’s about this guy who keeps trying to play both sides of this mobster feud. The plot is interesting I guess, but personally I don’t find that Gabriel Byrne can really carry a movie. The movie just felt small and could’ve benefited from some bigger name actors in it. There were some great scenes, but I couldn’t help but feel like something was always missing. I really can’t say what it was though. This is a decent Sunday afternoon movie, but I wasn’t too blown away with it.

Verdict: 6.8/10

 

 

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Movies

Marjorie Prime (2017)

marjorie_prime.png

I’ve been putting off writing this review for days now because Marjorie Prime is a movie I really thought I’d like. I waited for it for months before I finally got a chance to watch it and not surprisingly, I didn’t really like it. It’s basically about some version of our world where you can get holograms of someone who’s passed away. You talk to them about who they were, tell them stories about their lives and hopefully try to get some closure. Very interesting premise and I thought it’d be right up my alley, but it wasn’t and I’m not even sure why.

The first 15 or 20 minutes were just so boring and slow that I didn’t even want to finish the movie. I held out for a bit longer and then the movie took an unexpected turn that made it much more watchable. I figured I’d be following the first hologram’s progression through most of the movie, but you don’t… you end up following several. The first hologram you’re introduced to after it’s already learned who it is; it’s been “alive” for days or weeks at this point. You’re able to witness the ideal moment in the hologram’s existence where it feels like the person you knew. Then the second one is introduced much earlier in its life and you start to see how it has to learn things about itself before it can feel real. The third one is even more raw because it’s brand new. It has to be told who it is, how it died, what their relationships are like and so on. It’s in this last hologram that we really start to see the flaws in this system.

What I got out of this movie is that, while it’d be great to have your loved one back, it isn’t really them and can’t ever be them. All they are is who you imagine them to be in your head. If you loved them you might tell the hologram all of the happy memories you have, while if you have some deep resentments towards that person you might tell it stories that really hurt you. If that person wronged you, it could be very therapeutic to talk it out, but if they didn’t then to me it’s just a way for you to never let go and I don’t think that’s healthy.

This was an interesting review. I didn’t want to write it because I had nothing to say, but as I struggled to come up with something to write, I started realizing that, while the first 15 minutes were sort of boring, the movie as a whole had a lot to say. I guess it’s a movie you really need to think about. Would you ever use this service? Who would you use it on? Would you use it to hold on to the happy memories or try and resolve the unhappy ones? Can’t say if I’d recommend this because obviously I found it a little boring, but if any of these ideas or questions intrigued you then maybe give it a shot.

Verdict: 6.5/10 At least in the holographic AI revolution there’s no way they can murder us

Movies

Weekend Binge #1

The Weekend Binge is a new series of blog posts I’ll be writing where I rattle off some reviews of the movies I binge watched on the weekend. Sometimes I just like chain watching movies and don’t really have the time to give them all a full post, but I’d still like to talk about them. So here we go!


Band Aid (2017)

This movie reminds me a lot of Patti Cake$ because of the way this couple creates their songs. It’s very organic and it all happens in the moment. Some of the songs were pretty funny and the leads had great chemistry. Writing songs about their fights is an interesting idea, and the movie was entertaining to watch. There were some extremely awkward moments though. Like so awkward that I didn’t even want to watch them. Most of the scenes with Fred Armisen just made me cringe. I think they played the awkward weird neighbour card a little too much. Also, the ending wrapped itself up a little too quickly and I think it would’ve been better served to take its time tying up all the loose ends.

Overall this is sort of a fun movie, but it deals with some heavy topics. I enjoyed it a lot and if you like Patti Cake$ I think you’ll like this one too.

Verdict: 8/10 A band aid for the heart


Frank & Lola (2016)

I really wanted to like this movie, and while I enjoyed the story, I felt like the acting just left a little too much to be desired. Most of the time I just wanted to slap Frank and make him say something. He barely says a word through most of the movie. He’ll take like 10 seconds to answer someone and when he does answer them, it’s in this low voice and it’s really slow. In his job interview, the conversation was something like, “Did you use a truffle?” – “…Yes.” – “That wasn’t in the basket.” – “…Ok.” – end of scene. All that aside, I was semi-invested in them as a couple and was rooting for them at the end of the movie.

This one isn’t terrible, but it’s not great. If you’re in the mood for something really… really… slow… you might like this.

Verdict: …6.7 …/ …10


Logan Lucky (2017)

logan_lucky

I did not expect to like this movie at all. I saw it and vaguely recall hearing that it was good, but I didn’t know what it was about. Turns out it’s a hillbilly bank robbery movie and a pretty funny one at that. The chemistry between the characters was very good and I actually laughed out loud. The heist was interesting and I didn’t expect what happened at the end. While not a huge change to the heist movie formula, it took me by surprise and I love surprises.

This is a very good movie. It’s a lot of fun, has Kylo Ren as a one armed bartender, some sexy car shots, and a great ending. Definitely worth a watch.

Verdict: 8.2/10 Logan Lucky to have been in the presence of a car as beautiful as that Mustang


November Criminals (2017)

november_criminals

This movie didn’t really appeal to me, but I’m a fan of Ansel Elgort after seeing him in Baby Driver, a movie I loved so much that I watched it back to back. He tried so hard in this movie, but the script and plot just couldn’t be overcome. None of the character’s actions felt genuine. It was like the writers wanted certain things to happen so they forced the characters to do things they would never do and made no sense. Then the movie kept repeating its themes over and over again. I think the audience is smart enough to realize why he’s looking into his friend’s death, they don’t need to be beaten over the head with it. In the end, I just felt like this was a pointless movie with nothing new to offer to the solving a crime genre.

If you’ve never seen a crime solving drama before, maybe you’ll find this interesting. Personally, I didn’t really care why the kid died or who did it… I was just not invested through most of it. I hope both the leads can get out of the teen dramas and start doing some more adult movies because they’re both excellent actors and I want to see them in more excellent movies.

Verdict: 5/10 Maybe next time just call the police?


Crown Heights (2017)

crown_heights

Last but not least, a movie that shows I don’t change. I’m still judging movies based on where they played. This one was also part of the Sundance film festival along with Patti Cake$ and was one of the only reasons why I decided to watch it. I didn’t have very high expectations, but this was actually pretty good. I’m a huge fan of these wrongful conviction, crime solving movies and this was one of the good ones. The biggest thing that sets this apart from other movies in this genre is the way the story is presented. You see almost nothing of the prosecution’s case in the beginning, it’s all from Colin’s perspective and you’re left wondering why all these stupid kids keep lying. Later on in the film, you start to see why they said the things they said. It’s one of the first movies I’ve seen that gives some insight into what the so called witnesses were thinking or feeling during the case. This is based on a true story so I guess the outcome really shouldn’t have surprised me, nonetheless I was a little surprised by how it ended. Usually these movies follow a specific formula: meet the main character, crime happens, character is arrested and convicted, friends/family/interested third party takes up the case, character is retried and wins the case. This movie hit all of those beats, but changes it ever so slightly at the end and it almost gives me hope for the US justice system.

If you like this type of movie, definitely give this one a watch. It’s near the top of the pile and will get you pretty fired up. There are lots of ups and downs and “how can this happen?!” moments.

Verdict: 8.3/10 If someone dies in your neighborhood, maybe just leave the country to be safe…

 

Movies

The Veil (2017)

Picture a shirtless muscular man with an emotionless expression on his face.

The Veil’s done it… this is the one that finally made me lose all faith in Netflix recommendations. Netflix told me it was an 86% match for me, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m in pretty much the opposite situation I was in for my last review. This movie is so bad that I don’t know how to even review it. It felt like a college student’s final project before graduation. The costumes were cheap, the story was confusing and jumbled, the ending was awful and the acting left a lot to be desired. I don’t think there was a single thing I actually enjoyed in this movie, but for the sake of this review I’ll go into each of these points a little more in depth–at least as in depth as I can manage.

The costumes were like stylish burlap sacks. The bad guys had black burlap sacks and the good guys had white burlap sacks. It was all pretty bland and boring to look at. There was one colorful character though, and that was the king. Colorful he may be, but I swear they borrowed an old Burger King mascot costume. I couldn’t stop laughing every time he showed up on screen.

The costumes were so bad they were funny, but the story was so bad it just upset me. I had no idea what was happening for most of the movie. The parts I did understand, I think I only understood them because they were such cliches. Some guy is a chosen one, has to save a princess… boring stuff with nothing new to bring to the table. The actors couldn’t even sell me on any of their lines. The delivery was absolutely awful. The actress who plays the princess was the worst of the bunch. She didn’t show an ounce of emotion throughout the entire movie. She always had this deadpan expression on her face and it drove me nuts. Poorly delivered bad dialogue had me watching the time left just waiting for the end. When I thought I was finally free of this nightmare, the movie gave me one last surprise… a completely insane ending. I had to go back and watch it again just to make sure that it made no sense, and I was right… it made no sense. The movie suddenly went into like a Terminator time travel story which only cemented my hatred of it.

This was just not good in any way and I wouldn’t recommend anyone to waste their time on it. That’s all I’ve got to say about this movie, and Netflix recommendations… you’re dead to me.

Verdict: 4/10 Try a 0% match

Movies

Pépé le Moko (1937)

Image missing because my video card decided today would be its last day of service so I’m not able to grab a good enough shot to do this post justice. Instead, just imagine a close up of a man standing face to face with a beautiful woman in an old black and white french movie.

I’ve been agonizing over whether I should write anything about this movie or not. Pépé le Moko is a classic film noir, gangster movie that was influential in creating the anti-hero archetype. It cemented Jean Gabin as one of the greatest male leads of the time in France and his character was the inspiration for Pépé Le Pew. Movies like this almost seem untouchable for a review. I didn’t go to film school or study film history in depth, I’m just someone who watches movies for my own enjoyment . So for this review, that’s just what I’ll do… I’ll talk about my enjoyment of this movie.

I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it, I’m just completely neutral. Some scenes hit their mark, but I had a huge problem investing in the “romance”. I understand this was made 80 years ago and things were different back then, but I just can’t support a romance where the man says something like, “A pity I don’t know you better so I could smack you one.” Yeah he’s the anti-hero, but this has nothing to do with being an anti-hero character it was just how women were treated back then. I think that line made it too hard for me to care for him as a person and as a result I couldn’t invest in his struggles. Jean Gabin was great in this role though… he really brought the character to life. When he gets mad and starts yelling, that is acting to rival anything you’d see in movies today, I absolutely loved it.

Storywise, I went in a little too cold with this movie so I didn’t even know what it was about and that caused me to be somewhat confused at the beginning. They start right up with Pépé being a wanted criminal and you don’t get to see what he did or what got everyone to where they are now. It took me awhile to figure out who everyone was and what they were trying to do. This might end up being better on a second viewing since I won’t be so confused, but it did hamper my enjoyment this time around. I might’ve liked to see an opening scene of Pépé committing some crimes or something along those lines just to introduce him and give me a real sense of who the police are after.

If you like classic movies then at least give this one a shot because I don’t think you’ll hate it. If you come armed with a little knowledge about the movie, and a longer attention span than I have, I dare say you might actually like it.

Verdict: 7/10 Pepé le Meh

Movies

Thumper (2017)

thumper.pngTo be completely honest, I’m not sure what made me want to watch this movie. I think it might have been the drugs and the fact that I heard someone say it felt “realistic”. Sounded like a winner to me, so I fired this movie up… and was very disappointed. This movie follows an undercover cop who infiltrates a group of drug dealers. There was something in this movie that just completely underwhelmed me.

There are 3 different types of scenes that revolve around the main character: undercover Kat, mom Meredith, and cop Meredith. This is where the movie falls apart because only 1 of those types actually works. Undercover Kat was pretty good with a few stand out scenes. The runner-up for best scene in the movie was when Wyatt the cook forces her to shoot up and she ODs. Everyone involved in this scene, from her taking the drugs to Beaver driving her to the hospital, did an amazing job. The best scene though, without question, is at the end when Wyatt tries to kill her after finding out she’s a narc. Pornstache from Orange is the New Black was so good as Wyatt, and I could tell he really tried his best to elevate this movie. For what it’s worth, he elevated all the scenes he was in… just a shame he wasn’t in all of them.

Rightfully so, he was not in any of the cop Meredith scenes where she has to report into her boss, Cersei. I think this was the worst type of scene in the movie because this was where they tried to build tension by putting an artificial time limit on busting these guys. Cersei was tough for no reason that I could see… she kept putting pressure on Meredith to bust these guys before more people died even if it meant they’d only be charged with small crimes like dealing pot. Case in point, here is an excerpt of one of their conversations and it goes a little something like:

Cersei: “You need to give me something.”

Meredith: “I know, I will…”

Cersei: “Get this shit off the streets.”

Meredith: “I need more time.”

Cersei: “You don’t have more time!”

Ah, the classic “You don’t have more time!” line. A line that’s usually tossed around to build up the tension and push the character into the climax of the movie. In this movie however, there is no reason for her to say that because we’re never told why she doesn’t have any time. More people will die from using drugs? Yeah fine, but getting the job done right to make sure that you A) Have the right guy and B) Can put him away for a long time is more important here than getting the job done fast. I think Cersei dropped the ball in this movie, granted her lines weren’t that great, but her delivery wasn’t any better.

The final type of scene in this movie was the most pointless time wasting type of all and was mom Meredith. We see how her son doesn’t care about her that much anymore now that he has a new mom. All of this for me was pointless filler and I don’t think the movie would suffer at all if it took out this entire subplot. I think her falling for one of the guys she’s trying to bust is enough of a head fuck to throw her off her game that they don’t need her also struggling with family issues.

All of this culminates in a movie that is very hot and cold. You’re treated to a scene that’s decently acted and well written, then made to suffer through a cliche ridden made for TV movie scene and back again. The ending doesn’t improve anything and is completely unsatisfying. You don’t learn about what happens to any of the characters. Does Beaver go to jail? If Beaver goes to jail, what happens to his brother? If they expect me to just guess what happens and come up with my own ending, fine I’ll do that… a lot of movies now are making me come up with my own ending anyways. But I think they didn’t show us what happened to the characters because they didn’t know how to end their movie. The one person we got a glimpse of was Kat/Meredith, who at the end gets to spend some time with her son. Aw that’s so sweet, she makes him breakfast… which he refuses to eat, then he keeps kicking his foot while she’s trying to put on his shoe, and then he runs out of the car without saying bye to her. So basically, her son still hates her… so what the hell is the point of this plot line? I’ll tell you the point, there wasn’t one. The writers didn’t feel like the shooting was a good enough way to end it, so they tried to tack on some resolution to the rest of the story lines and just failed.

As you might have been able to tell, I was not a huge fan of this movie. I think if you could find a version of it with just Kat being undercover it might be an alright movie. If you can’t then I don’t think I’d really waste my time on this one if I were you… there are a lot better movies out there about undercover cops.

Verdict: 5.8/10 Watching Cersei made me wish I OD’d…

Anime, Movies

A Silent Voice (2016)

a_silent_voiceIt’s finally happened! I’ve watched an anime that I actually liked! I’m ashamed that I’ve had this movie queued up for so long because this is the best anime I’ve seen in at least the past year. A Silent Voice is about a teenage boy trying to find redemption after bullying a deaf girl as a child. This story isn’t something I can remember seeing before in an anime or even in a live action movie and I enjoyed it a lot.

I loved how the bullying felt so realistic because it didn’t just start out with the group picking on her, but it developed gradually as they got more fed up. You could see how Ishida, the main character, would do or say something then look for approval from his friends, and once he got that approval things escalated quickly. Most of the reactions of the characters felt so grounded in reality that never once did I roll my eyes and think, “That would never happen.” I will immediately contradict myself though and say there was one part in the movie that was so anime cliche that steam started coming out of my ears. Why does every anime assume that girls always look at other girls’ breasts and want to touch them? I am actually female and I can guarantee I never once discussed the size of another girls’ breasts at school or even entertain the idea of groping them. Can we please just stop with this stupid anime trope? That one cringe inducing scene aside, this movie deals with bullying in a different way by following the bully instead of the victim. I found it very refreshing and it gives you a chance to really step back and look at both sides. Is this guy unworthy of redemption for something he did as a kid? Can people ever really change? Would you forgive your childhood bully? All these questions ran through my head as I was watching this and I love a movie that can pull me in so deeply.

The part that stands out the most for me is that one of the main characters is deaf. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a deaf anime character before, and if I have, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one where they use sign language. I thought that aspect of it was awesome and it really warmed my heart when some of the kids wanted to learn it so they could talk to her easier. I loved her character because they really took the time to flesh her out. You get the sense that she believes she’s a burden to everyone around her and that’s why she always feels the needs to apologize and not complain. It’s heartbreaking as you learn more about her struggles and there were definitely more than a few times that this movie made me cry.

This is a gorgeous movie with an excellent, moving story that anyone who is a fan of anime should check out. I wish they’d keep making movies like this because I’d love to get back into anime again. Check this one out, if you like anime or not, it is definitely worth your time.

Verdict: 8.8/10 I knew that wasn’t a boy!