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

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

The Mist (2007)

the_mist

As unbelievable as this sounds, The Mist is about a small town that’s terrorized by… a mist. That really took me by surprise, but once I got over the shock of it, I was left with an emotionally confusing movie. I just don’t know how to feel about it. There are a lot of moments I genuinely enjoyed and there are ones where I nearly broke my nose face-palming so hard.

I’ll go ahead and start off with the best part of the entire movie, and that’s, hands down, Thomas Jane’s performance. He is just amazing and completely carries this movie on his back. You see him go through a believable range of emotions as this mist starts to attack, and the last scene of the movie is so well acted that it rips your heart out of your chest and throws it on the ground. Then there are the characters in this movie that are just so annoying; Mrs. Carmody, the one dimensional religious freak; Brent Norton, the neighbor that for some reason believes the entire store is trying to trick him… like get over yourself buddy; and Carol from The Walking Dead’s character, who thinks someone is actually going to walk her home in this mist and gets mad when they don’t. Such unlikable people with unbelievable motives and actions. I also thought it was a little unfair of the movie to provide such spoilers for The Walking Dead. Killing Andrea and Dale? Not fair! Carol gets to survive? Come on! Boy am I glad I watched this after watching that show or I’d be pretty upset.

On top of all my issues with the characters, the special effects were pretty… 10 years old. I guess the movie tried its best, but those effects dated real fast. Thankfully they didn’t detract too much from the story because I still bought into what was happening. It was built up really well and the whole premise was interesting. The spider like creatures shooting acid webs just gave me another reason to murder any spider that enters my house. Try it spiders… bring it on!

This was an alright little horror movie with a fantastic final scene. I mostly watched it for the ending, which I think is pretty well known at this point and if you haven’t watched it yet I’d definitely recommend it. I think I might even go back for a rewatch on upcoming Halloweens.

Verdict: 7/10 If you’re gonna do a shout out to The Thing, do it with sweet effects not just its poster

Movies

Friday the 13th Parts 1-3

FridayThe13th.png

In honor of Friday the 13th falling in October, I rightfully marathoned a few of the Friday the 13th movies this last weekend (took a week to post this). I managed to make my way through the first 3 movies before I needed to give myself a break. This isn’t the first time I’ve watched these movies, but it’s the first time I watched them without commercial interruptions and with my full attention. Luckily they were a lot better than I remembered.


Part 1

This movie starts off slow… so slow… so very slow…. You have teenage pranks, strip monopoly, and Kevin Bacon. At least half the run-time I felt was filler since the main reason to watch these movies is for the kills. Sadly, the kills weren’t too memorable for me as the only one that stuck out in my mind was seeing someone get stabbed through the neck and seeing the very obvious skin tone change of the neck prosthetic. Great characters can be a compelling reason to watch a horror movie, but I didn’t really like any of the characters and I’m struggling to even remember their names so that didn’t hit the right note for me either.

Based on the last paragraph, it probably sounds like I didn’t like this movie, but I actually really think it deserves its place in horror history. Most of the problems I have with it are just because of its age and the fact that I’ve seen a lot of modern horror movies that have just done things bigger and better. This movie was one of the ones that started it all and that in itself is an accomplishment.The thing that really brings this movie home for me is the fact that Jason’s mom is the killer. This gives the movie a lot more depth, and makes it feel like more than just your average psychopath slasher movie. There is motivation for the murders and creates a much more compelling story.

Having the mom be the killer and actually die at the end without some supernatural reincarnation is what will leave this as a classic in my mind forever.

Verdict: 8/10


Part 2

I’m not a huge fan of sequels since, for the most part and especially for horror movies, they tend to be cash grabs. Friday the 13th Part 2 however feels like a true part 2 and not just a sequel. It’s hard for me to actually write about this movie because I felt like this movie’s plot was a logical continuation of the story, but then my brain keeps telling me that Jason died in the first movie so it’s completely illogical that he’s back for part 2. In this case however, I’m willing to ignore my brain and just go with my gut. I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. Jason was the new killer, but he was still mortal. He bled, limped and got hurt just like a real human would. There is a great scene when you can see Jason running up to the shack through the window and that scares the shit out of me every time. He didn’t just suddenly appear in the shack behind the girl with a loud jump scare sound like you’d normally see these days in horror movies. The girl sees him coming and to me that is a whole lot scarier. This leads me in to my favorite part of the movie which is the final girl’s idea to pretend to be Jason’s mom. She psychoanalyzed Jason while she was in the bar, saying how he must be doing it to avenge the death of his mother. That was a nice little set up for the ending because her knowing about his mother didn’t just come up out of nowhere.

This one was nearly as good as the original and truly deserving of being called a Part 2.

Verdict: 7/10


Part III

Now for the last movie of my mini-binge, the one where they decided they should really be using roman numerals–continuity be damned! This movie is one of the reasons why I feel like most sequels are a cash grab. There wasn’t too much that was new and fresh in this movie. We have another group of stupid teenagers going to the woods to have sex and die. There were a lot of really annoying characters in this one, like Shelly and that gang he meets at the store. The store scene was just a reason for more people to end up at the cabin to be killed before the main cast has to start dying. It could’ve been the fact that I’ve been marathoning these movies and was getting tired of the same old thing, but I do think that this is the movie where the franchise started going down the wrong path. Jason becomes almost supernatural in this one and impossible to kill. He gets stabbed in the leg, jumped on, takes a shovel to the head, is hung in such a way that I’m pretty sure his neck snapped, and to top it all off he gets axed in the face. None of this ever seems to slow him down because he will not stop chasing this girl. When the killer can never die, I feel like the movie has no point to it and no real suspense. I’m not content with just watching people die, I want to have great characters to root for and feel that suspense wondering whether they’ll live or die. In this movie, I knew every time Jason was knocked down that he would get back up and no matter where she runs he will always find her.

Not terrible, but definitely falling into the boring, invincible, supernatural slasher rut that the movies are in now.

Verdict: 6/10


Overall, I have a small place in my heart for the Friday the 13th franchise. I grew up watching horror movies late at night and these movies are dripping with nostalgia. I’m not a giant baby or anything, but after watching them at 1am it put me a little on edge. I slept on my back cause I was scared to turn around and I turned on all the lights when I went to the bathroom. They aren’t the best movies of all time, and it’s weird that I give the first one an 8 since it’s not the same caliber as some of my other 8s. For horror movies though, these movies stand out in the genre and are worthy of an October rewatch every year.

Movies

Chappie (2015)

chappie.jpg

Chappie is about Chappie the gangsta conscious robot from Johannesburg. He learns to walk, talk, fire guns, beat the shit out of people and most importantly… he learns to love. I absolutely love this robot. He’s voiced by Sharlto Copley who was the lead in District 9 which was directed by the same director and also took place in Johannesburg. It must be the guy’s accent because even in District 9 he had me cracking up. Something about the way he swears gets me every time and this movie is no exception. The way he swears, calls Yolandi and Ninja mommy and daddy, and his childlike innocence was just hilarious to me and I was thoroughly entertained by him. The shootout at the end was a little cheesy with the slow motion yelling, but I did enjoy how they left enough time to really feel the emotion of the scene. Not to mention, the special effects were pretty damn good in this movie. There were times when I wasn’t sure whether I was watching a real prop robot or a CG one and I loved that.

While I just loved watching the scenes with Chappie in it, I absolutely hated the scenes with Deon. I hate the stereotype that all programmers have to chug red bull to keep coding through the night. You’re going to tell me some mid 20s kid wrote the code for perfect consciousness all by himself by chugging some red bull? Like please… there are teams of people with scientific backgrounds that still haven’t been able to do it. I find this so annoyingly unrealistic that it made me mad enough not to want to watch the rest of the movie. To put a rotten cherry on top of that sundae, he brings his new found AI to the boss lady and explains it as a robot that can learn to write poetry and paint. Seriously? That’s your best pitch? How about that you discovered consciousness which in itself can be very useful in military and police applications, but if not for that then to harness and sell for a lot of money. Not the most moral of applications, but I find it impossible to believe someone can just discard this discovery. She won’t even give him a garbage robot to do his little experiments on. It’s an incredibly clumsy way for Deon to be able to power up Chappie in private without the company knowing about it.

This is a hard movie for me to recommend or even rate because my brain knows that the plot was sort of weak and it wasn’t the best made movie… but my heart can’t get enough of that robot. This verdict comes down based on pure entertainment value. I think it’s a movie I would watch again. I’d just maybe skip over the first 20 or so minutes.

Verdict: 7/10 No! You don’t use guns!

Movies, TV

Catching Up

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything here. I haven’t felt the desire to really put my thoughts about what I’m watching into words. Not to say I haven’t watched things lately that weren’t worth writing about. I’ve slowed down a lot on movies, but I’ve watched some great TV Shows. I’ll do another quick fire of things I’ve watched recently to get my juices flowing. Then the next movie I plan to watch, At Once, will hopefully have something worth writing a full post about.

The Newsroom (2012)

This is a TV Show that aired on HBO for 2.5 seasons. I watched the first episode and was hooked. I actually couldn’t make myself stop watching it. I watched the first season and a half in just 2 days. I thought the premise to try and run a news broadcast that focuses on the news and not ratings was interesting because I hate watching the news for that exact reason. I immediately fell in love with the ideas, the characters and the dialogue. I’m a fan of the fast talking sarcastic quips they do fairly often. I laughed a lot and ended up caring about almost every character on the show. Season 2 was brilliantly laid out and made it so I had no choice but to keep watching. They start off somewhere in the middle of the season’s plot and then fill in the pieces with each episode until you’re caught up. I watched the first episode and just had to know what could’ve possibly happened that was so bad. Season 3 took a little bit of a dive with the first 2 episodes feeling dull, and the series finale wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t that great. If they were able to do a full last season and finish it off stronger I would have given it a perfect score. It’s definitely worth a watch, just make sure you have a couple hours set aside cause you won’t be able to watch just one episode.

Verdict: 9(.5)/10 


carolCarol (2016)

I absolutely loved this movie, it’s now one of my favorites and is on my regular re-watch list. I’ve seen it twice and am probably going to go for a 3rd watch soon. Maybe tonight because writing about it makes me want to see it again. It was so beautiful and restrained, nothing felt forced or unrealistic. It was slow but it sucked me in completely. Carol is kind, sophisticated and knows what she wants. There is something about her that just draws you in and it’s easy to see how Therese felt drawn to her. The movie had ups and downs that kept me emotionally invested and I felt so much throughout the entire movie. That feeling of thinking you found something special and then having it ripped away from you is devastating. I don’t want to say too much on the plot cause I think not knowing how it turns out really amplifies every decision the characters make and leaves you in suspense. It’s one of my top favorite romance movies and 100% recommend it.

Verdict: 9/10


hushHush (2016)

This is a horror movie where the main protagonist is both deaf and mute. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. As far as thriller/horror movies go, this is one of the most suspenseful and thrilling ones I’ve seen. I really wanted the main character, Maddie, to succeed and get out of there alive. Every scene is straight out of all the other horror movies out there, but it’s elevated to a new level when we know she can’t hear anything. He could be coming up behind her and she would never know it. When she’s trying to be quiet walking on the roof, she doesn’t know if she’s making lots of noise or not. That unknown makes it all the more suspenseful. Not to mention the fact that they inject some realism into the story with her not being able to load the crossbow.  Great, she got a weapon, but she’s still just a regular person and didn’t immediately become some badass who can shoot a man with a crossbow from across the room. Not that I don’t love that, but when I don’t have to suspense my disbelief as much, I enjoy movies a lot more. This one is on Netflix and is definitely worth the time.

Verdict: 9/10


10_cloverfiled_lane.jpg10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

As I was writing my other reviews, I realized a common actor among them–John Gallagher Jr.. He was in the Newsroom, Hush and in this review’s movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane. This is a “sequel but not really” to Cloverfield which I liked a lot when it came out. I didn’t know much about the movie before I started watching it and felt myself getting frustrated wondering when the Cloverfield things were going to start happening. So much so, that I almost couldn’t finish the movie because I thought it was crap and a waste of time. So I paused it, went over to IMDb and realized that it’s a standalone movie that merely exists in the same universe as the other. Once I understood that, it became a lot better of a movie. It was suspenseful and mysterious. I kept going back and forth in my mind wondering if John Goodman was telling the truth or if he was lying to keep her imprisoned. If it were me in that situation, I wouldn’t want to believe him because all I could think is that I’d end up as some idiot who was tricked into living in a bunker for 10 years. Momma didn’t raise no fool, so I really felt her predicament. On the flip side,  I’m really crushing on John Gallagher Jr. now. He was so sweet in this movie as Emmett and in the Newsroom. Ok sure, he was like a serial killer in Hush… but he was also in Short Term 12 which was an equally amazing movie. It all balances out in the end and I loved his character in this movie. When Emmett, let’s just say, was no longer part of the movie my jaw hit the floor. I love when movies have balls and just shock me with a plot decision. Overall, this was a really cool standalone movie that I will definitely re-watch.

Verdict: 8/10


And lastly, one sentence verdicts on some of the other movies I feel deserve a shout out.

10.000 km (2014) – Another great romance movie, except the characters start out in love and the movie progresses from there. Verdict: 8/10

Victoria (2015) – A 2h 18m movie all done in 1 continuous shot with strong characters and plot. Verdict: 7/10

Moulin Rouge! (2001) – A loud, obnoxious, annoying movie with weak characters and plot. Verdict: 5/10

Ant-Man (2015) – Pretty boring super hero movie that was lacking something that I just can’t put my finger on. Verdict: 5/10

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Great movie but needs a re-cut without the Mr. Yunioshi scenes… Verdict: 8/10

Movies

The Maltese Falcon & Citizen Kane (1941)

There was a time before I started my crazy journey where I couldn’t sit through a black and white movie. Now, I’m starting to almost like them more than colour. Maybe it gives my mind something to work for by trying to fill in the colour blanks… maybe it’s simply the style of film that happened to be around during the black and white period. Who can really say for sure? Regardless, I took a double dip into 1941 today and watched 2 black and white classics.

the_maltese_falcon

The first is The Maltese Falcon, a film-noir about a private detective who gets caught up in the middle of some murders and a statue of a bird. I’d say I’ve really enjoyed about 50% of the film-noir’s I’ve seen. This movie fits right in because I enjoyed about 50% of it. I liked the beginning up to about half way then I started to lose interest. I’m not a huge fan of the film-noirs that in the last 10 minutes have the main character figure out the entire mystery. It’s kind of like most of the movie is just to entertain then at the end they go “Ok, so here’s what happened if you were still interested.” It just seems like lazy writing to me that they feel the need to explain everything at the very end, instead of giving us pieces of information throughout the movie so that maybe we could piece it together ourselves. Or, they could’ve had Spade talk more about his theory a little earlier. The bottom line is that this was just alright for me and that’s really all I have to say about it… it’s time to move on to something a little different.

Orson Welles standing on stacks of newspapers in a scene from the film 'Citizen Kane', 1941. (Photo by RKO Radio Pictures/Getty Images)

The second movie I watched is what some consider the greatest movie ever made. Yeah, you know the one… Citizen Kane. How can I even go about discussing a movie with this kind of reputation? Well, I’m reminded of a post I read where someone mentioned how they never met anyone who legitimately liked this movie and could answer the question “What did you like about it?” without regurgitating lines about cinematography from articles or reviews. So that is exactly what I’ll do. Here is why I liked Citizen Kane, regurgitating only lines from my own brain.

The pacing and execution of the story was, for the lack of a better word, rhythmic. It was like being caught in wave after wave of exquisite storytelling. The movie starts off (after the whole Rosebud scene of course) with a really broad summary of Kane’s life–this is the bottom of the wave. The reporters read from his father’s memoirs which gives them a run down of his life from when he was a child. We get more details that flesh out the initial summary that was given, like how Kane got his wealth and how he got started in the newspaper–this is the top of the wave. As the memoirs go on, the details start becoming more vague–bottom of the wave again. The reporters then go talk to his friend who knew him at the paper and we find out some of the details behind the headlines we saw while we were on the last wave–back to the top of the wave. Near the end of this one, we get some vague details about Kane and his opera theater–brought down once again. Finally, the reporters go and talk to Kane’s ex-wife who fills us in on the details about the opera theater–brought right back up. After her story, we are suddenly thrown from the top of the wave when we hear the reported at Kane’s house say that we may never know just what Rosebud means. Just as suddenly, we’re picked up and taken to the top of the final wave in the very last shot of the sleigh on fire. Any movie that manages to leave me at the top of a wave will keep my brain thinking after the credits have rolled and that’s usually a very good thing.

However, story alone does not make a movie great… so it’s a good thing this one also had some pretty good dialogue, acting and camera work. My favorite line is from Kane’s father, “He thinks it’d be fun to run a newspaper…” Why is that my favorite? I guess because I wasn’t expecting it and it made me laugh. When he delivers it, he breaks the fourth wall and stares right into the camera at me. My favorite moment of acting is after Kane’s speech when he is talking to Emily in the car. She asks him if he will come with her to see his “mistress” and he doesn’t say anything right away, but you can see it in his face. You know how they say acting is about action and reaction? This is a great reaction… you can read the scene right off their faces, no words are even needed. He’s thinking “Oh shit,  the jig is up.” and she’s thinking “You asshole, get in this car right now… I know what you did.” Finally, my favorite shot will have to be when the camera starts on the roof of the El Rancho and zooms in through the sign then looks down through the glass roof and transitions into the interior of the building all in one mostly fluid shot. It was one of the shots that stood out for me and was pretty nice for 1941.

I can’t lie and say I was exactly looking forward to watching this movie, but I have to say it more than lived up to it’s reputation and some day in the future I think I will watch it again. The Maltese Falcon, not so much.

The Maltese Falcon Verdict: 7/10

Citizen Kane Verdict: 9/10