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

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)

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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)

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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)

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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

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…

Movies

The Voices (2014)

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The Voices is a comedy horror about a man who talks to his dog and cat and ends up killing people. Based on the summary for this movie, I don’t think I would’ve ever watched it, but my boyfriend picked it randomly for us to watch and I have to say it wasn’t bad at all. I found myself actually laughing at some of the lines, especially the cat’s which I found especially funny because cats are evil. Case in point, “Oh, Jerry, change the fucking channel before I explode!”, says the cat as he watches lion’s having sex on TV, followed by him saying in wonder and awe, “Check it out, a crocodile killing a motherfucking antelope.” I don’t know, is there any more proof that cats are evil than this? Meanwhile, the dog is just chilling on the couch being a good pet.

Aside from the positive light this movie casts on dogs, there were some other good points. Namely, the way the movie shows the difference the drugs make for Jerry. When he’s off the drugs, everything is bright and cheery and his home is clean then when you get snapped back into reality everything literally turns to shit. His apartment is filthy, has animal shit on the floor and, oh yeah… decomposing dismembered body parts. The execution of this idea was done perfectly, and just when you got used to off the drugs Jerry, you’re quickly brought back into the real world and realize that he’s got some serious mental problems.

Overall, this was a fun horror movie that provides some good laughs. The plot is unusual, and is actually genuinely horrific with how disgusting it can be at times. Ryan Reynold’s does a fantastic job as Jerry and the voices of his pets.

Verdict: 7.4/10 Sing a happy song… sing a happy song

Movies

Chappie (2015)

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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

High and Low (1963)

This is going to be an uncharacteristically long review this time around because I have a lot to say about this film. High and Low, or Tengoku to jigoku, is a film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It’s about a man who loses everything when his chauffeur’s son is kidnapped and held for ransom. The movie is essentially broken up into 3 acts: the ransom, finding the kidnapper and arresting the kidnapper.

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In the first act, Gondo is a high up executive of a shoe company who is attempting a take over so that he can create quality shoes that he believes the public deserves. Right off the bat, he’s a very likable and heroic character. He stands up against all the executives who are dead set on producing the cheapest shoes for maximum profit. This man actually has morals and a good work ethic, and I was really rooting for him to take over the company. Of course that isn’t going to happen because he gets a phone call saying that his son has been kidnapped and to get him back he must pay 30 million in ransom. Very quickly, he finds out that it was actually his chauffeur’s son instead and he says something to the chauffeur to the effect of, “It’s okay, he’ll let him go when he realizes he has the wrong kid.” It’s this false optimism you get when you know something bad is coming, and you just don’t want to face the ugly truth until you absolutely have to. After the police are phoned in, they tell him things aren’t going to work out that way and the kid isn’t going to just be released. The next 20 or 30 minutes of the film are intense as Gondo slowly comes to the realization that he has to pay the 30 million. He knows that his life is ruined whether he pays it or not, but he can’t just let a child be killed. I felt every minute of this movie up until the boy is re-united with his father. It was just great writing and acting all around.

However, I wouldn’t be me if I couldn’t find something that made me scratch my head in confusion. Once Gondo realizes that he has to pay the ransom, he phones up his bank and almost word for word says, “It’s Gondo from National Shoe. I need 30 million delivered to my house in non-sequential bills.” And they actually give it to him! No security question, no pin number, they just hand it right over. If it’s this easy to have 30 million delivered to your house why didn’t the kidnapper just spend some time learning to mimic his voice then make the call himself? Even for 1963 this seems a little ridiculous.

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I can look past that though and move on to the second act which is about the police trying to find out who the kidnapper is. They have a large team of detectives on the case that use interesting clues to start building up a profile on the guy. They use the different sounds of trolleys, the placement of the sun when the ransom call was made, and they even stopped every car of the model they were after just in case the plates were changed. I found those little details quite entertaining and for me it injected some realism into the film. Now, I’m not sure if this was just the subtitles that I was using, but one guy stands up and says, “I met with The National Shoe executives. What a bunch of assholes,” and I just laughed out loud. His deadpan delivery and the fact that they seriously are a bunch of assholes was perfect. At that point, I was pretty much convinced that it was someone in the company that kidnapped his son, or one of them hired someone so that Gondo couldn’t purchase the shares to take control of the company. The timing of it all seemed too perfect. Literally, right as he is getting the money together, he gets this phone call out of nowhere. Sadly, it started to look like I was wrong as they closed in on the man responsible and finally got a name.

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This leads into the third act where the movie started to slow down a little bit for me. They know who the kidnapper is and now they’re trying to arrest him. However, they don’t want him to just get 15 years, they want him to be executed. The way they go about it didn’t really work for me because they pretty much bait him into trying to re-kill the heroin addicts that he killed earlier in the movie. I’m not a detective or anything, but I feel like this is entrapment. I don’t think you can try to coax someone into committing a crime and have it hold up in court. Not only that, but a woman died because of it. If they just arrested him immediately she would still be alive, albeit still a withdrawing heroin addict, but at least she wouldn’t be dead. The ending just left me feeling sad for everyone involved. Gondo sounded like a man who started at the bottom and worked his way up the ladder through hard work, but the kidnapper just sees him as some rich guy that doesn’t deserve what he has. This guy was clearly mentally ill, and because of that, Gondo’s, and even the chauffeur’s, family has to suffer.

Even though the third act let me down, I really did enjoy this film. It was exciting, interesting and well written. I highly recommend this movie if you like crime dramas.

This is Bwaffles from the Waffleton Post, can I have a Verdict of 9/10 delivered to High and Low?