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December film thread

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 Offwidth 01 Dec 2019

An oustanding movie from last nights pre-recorded viewing:



I'd completely forgotten the history of its conception until obvious changes in the actors made it obvious. Such a brave high risk project, given everything that could have gone wrong, and I'm so pleased it worked out as well as it did. Highly recommended.

In reply to Offwidth:

They didn’t change any actors, did they? I thought that was part of the point? 

 Offwidth 01 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The actors changed themselves, as people will over time, yes that was the point....

....just finished another great little movie, Rams, but boy is the life protrayed in it, in Iceland, bleak, even for the film's black comedy, and the island's landscape... definitely worth a watch.


In reply to Offwidth:

> The actors changed themselves, as people will over time, yes that was the point....

Your phrasing isn’t coming across very clearly, that’s all. Someone that didn’t know the film would not know what you are on about. I do know the film and still needed to get you to clarify what you meant. 

Film should have been called Motherhood and released as a double bill with Michael Caton-Jones’ underrated and forgotten “This Boy’s Life”

In reply to Offwidth:

I watched the new Charlie’s Angels film but I’d rather not talk about it 

 Offwidth 04 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

It's how I experienced it... they seem to be ageing....I was pondering how they did that so well... then I thought hang on a minute is this THAT film.

 aln 04 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> I watched the new Charlie’s Angels film but I’d rather not talk about it 

Possibly your best ever review! 😁

 Offwidth 04 Dec 2019
In reply to aln:

Last nights film, an epic portrait of a legend


The focus is much wider than his music: quite personnal and  political.  It also looks very odd in hindsight just how hard he had to fight to reach a world audience.

In reply to Offwidth:

Knives Out. A wonderful evening's entertainment, the result of a superb script and direction by the obviously exceptionally talented Rian Johnson. I'd normally be reluctant to give a pure entertainment film, lacking in any kind of 'profundity', the top score, but here it's so well accomplished in every way that I'll give it 5 stars. The secret of its success is that it's perfectly pitched. I'm not normally a fan of Daniel Craig - far from it - but here, despite his very wobbly 'American' accent, he hams it up just right. Mind you, he's given some great lines. In fact, the whole cast is uniformly brilliant (e.g. great to see Christopher Plummer again, on v good form). And it's bloody funny in parts. Overall, a gem of a movie, really well directed.

Post edited at 00:29
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Well said and I am glad you enjoyed it. I think I mentioned it briefly above (I’ve been a bit too busy to write actual reviews). I would be inclined to 8/10 or 8.5/10 due to some minor niggles but on the whole it was great stuff. I enjoyed the generosity of the ensemble “stars” pretty much “giving” the whole film to Ana de Armas.

Now go and watch your DVD of Game Night is you are in the mood for “pure entertainment without lofty ambitions”

In reply to Blue Straggler:

Re. de Armas. Well, the script did that, because she's really the central character.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I do understand how these things work Gordon. By “generosity” I meant off-camera. All those big names merrily lending their names when in truth they are all supporting roles. All part of Rian Johnson’s master plan presumably  

In reply to Blue Straggler:

I guess they were all really impressed by the script, so happy to be a part of it. Even if their parts were quite small. Jamie Lee Curtis perhaps being best example. She didn't have much to work with.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

That was my point. Sorry if it wasn’t clear! 

 Tom V 06 Dec 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

Motherless Brooklyn.

A beautifully made film, great to look at and for the most part a pleasure to listen to.

I've been thinking for years that Edward Norton can do very little wrong and for me this is just more confirmation.

Surprisingly it actually seemed less than its quoted running time.

 Offwidth 07 Dec 2019
In reply to Tom V:



Letters from Baghdad is a highly impressive and unusual construction:  formed just from Gertrude Bell's letters and other's in reply, and communiques about her at the time. It's surprisingly important today...the story of the formation of Iraq resonates with its modern fate, as does that of the politics of oil. She was a truely remarkable woman: explorer, adventurer, diplomat, and political advisor who lived on equal terms with the leading men of the time, and this film does her justice as much as its length could.  It's flaws are based in that length:  so much she said and did, had to be covered only briefly, notably her mountaineering interests  (for those you need to read her words).

Post edited at 14:37
In reply to Tom V:

I didn’t like Motherless Brooklyn. 5.5/10. 

In reply to Offwidth:

Sounds interesting, I got 45 minutes into Werner Herzog’s Bell film last week but as jist watching too late at night and nodded off, no judgement on my part 

In reply to Tom V:

Motherless Brooklyn WAS less than the quoted 144 mins unless it had really long end credits. I actually missed the end as I nipped out to the loo for 70 seconds assuming there was ten minutes left, and came back in to see credits rolling. It says a lot for the film that I wasn’t that bothered and have not yet looked up the plot synopsis to see what the ending was . Good acting .

In reply to Tom V:

> I've been thinking for years that Edward Norton can do very little wrong 

What are your thoughts on his behaviour regarding American History X and his public disowning of The Italian Job and The Incredible Hulk? 

In reply to Offwidth:

Jumanji - The Next Level. Slightly generous here with 5.5/10 as it had some laughs and charm. But it’s rare that I’ve seen a film where you realise EVERY SCENE is at least a minute too long, whilst watching it. Takes forever to get going and the story is inevitably just a retread. Basically the point of these films is to let the stars playing the avatars, have fun expressing their “real world” equivalents, and they add to this in this sequel by throwing in some massively established veteran actors (Danny Devito and Danny Glover) so we can see various performers try to mimic those two. It has to be said, Kevin Hart’s Danny Glover is spot on.

But it takes 25 minutes to get going, it assumes we are invested in the relationships between the young “real world” characters, and the way it throws in the veteran Dannies is labourer and unengaging. 

 Shame as I really liked Jumanji : Welcome to the Jungle.

If you liked that one, don’t pay money to see this one (I have an annual pass) 

In reply to Offwidth:

Another rare "didn't see it at the cinema" review. 

Peeping Tom (1960). 

Famously controversial, arguably career-destroying for Michael Powell the eminent British film-maker. 
I've seen it before but many many many years ago and probably before I could really appreciate it. It's a kind of character study of an eccentric young loner whose only pleasure in life seems to be in the murder of women.
I've had it on DVD a while and always put off a revisit as I thought it was going to be quite a demanding view but it is actually very pacy and peppered with black comedy. 
It also feels way ahead of its time, hence the shock in 1960. It's as if someone took David Fincher's "Se7en" back in time and screened it.
It is superbly shot and acted, I think it helps that Carl/Karlheinz Boehm, the lead actor, is not more famous. 

Highly recommended and fully deserving of its classic status. Apparently it was often compared to Hitchcock's "Psycho", probably only because they were release around the same time and both featured a charming mild-mannered young man as a killer with parent issues. However, I felt that Powell's film is far more deep than Hitchcock's slightly overrated one at least in terms of what is presented on screen (a lot of the lore around Psycho and around Norman Bates, comes from extrapolation)

In reply to Offwidth:

Jojo Rabbit, 8.5/10

Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark, What We Do In the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok) adapts a novel I've not heard of, to very good effect. Comparisons to another recent adaptation "The Death of Stalin" are inevitable and fair, and hopefully complimentary. 
The trailer plays it as slapstick but the actual film does intersperse the silliness with plenty of well timed reminders of the horrors of the Second World War. 
(the premise is that our main character, a 10.5-year-old German boy, is struggling to grow up and fit in, excluded from the Hitler Youth by injury, and finds that his mother is harbouring an older Jewish girl). 
It is a strong story which does not spoon-feed the audience, the serious dialogue is wonderful, the comedy aspects are well done, and the two lead performances from Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin "Leave No Trace" McKenzie are spot on. Sam Rockwell does his (not unwelcome) Sam Rockwell routine, and Scarlett Johansson is rather good as the boy's sometimes mysterious mother. 
It does feel a little overlong at times and I am not sure whether "imaginary friend Hitler" really works that well - he's certainly in it more than I would have liked.

But overall very good stuff. A fair few reviews criticise it for pulling its punches, for being a bit toothless. I didn't feel this at all. 

General release in early January (I saw a preview)

 Simon Caldwell 17 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Just been to see Knives Out on your (and Gordon's) recommendation. 

And thanks very much for giving me the incentive of ignoring the truly appalling trailers and giving it a go! Not perfect perhaps, but one of the best films of the year.

I've been trying, but I can't think of any film that's been worse served by its trailer. I expect you'll be able to come up with a few though!

In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Glad to hear it on all counts. See also my review of Jojo Rabbit which is not quite ill-served by its trailer in the same way, but I think the trailer could deter potentially appreciative audiences. As for examples of films truly ill-served by their trailers, yes loads more than Knives Out but I think it warrants a thread! 

 Offwidth 18 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Superb nostalgic fandom....


Goodness knows what someone would make of it if they hadn't seen the series.

In reply to Offwidth:

The General (1926)

Buster Keaton's classic, presented with a commissioned new live score by the band Haiku Salut. 

Long cited as Keaton's masterwork and one of the best films of all time. I saw this at a screening of a recent digitally restored version (and I have to say I was astonished at how good it looked, I didn't think they made things so sharply and with such good dynamic range, back in the 1920s, at least not on difficult location shoots). 

Hard to say much about the film, even if you don't know this one, you must know what to expect from Keaton. Brilliantly conceived action set-pieces involving some rather bold stunt work. A mostly deadpan face, which adds to the comedy. 
Quite long for a 1920s film, at around 85 minutes, but it really didn't overdo anything. 
Bit odd being on the "side" of the Confederates in a Civil War film but hey ho. 

A lot of fun, good storytelling. 8/10

In reply to Blue Straggler:

Don't F*ck With Cats - Netflix

4 part true life documentary which came online yesterday. Person posts film of himself killing two kittens on youtube. General outrage online and facebook group formation of disgusted people who decide something must be done and turn detective. What follows is a quite compelling story of leads and dead ends in the pursuit of someone who starts to post increasingly more horrifically violent film clips, taunting the thousands in pursuit of him. I haven't finished it yet so cannot comment if it maintains pace and grip, but I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. 

 Tom V 19 Dec 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Thanks for that, was intrigued by the title when it came up this morning. Sounds a bit like the UKC disliker.

In reply to Offwidth:

Two more home-view reviews worthy of note due to the scores

The Cat Returns (Studio Ghibli animation) 10/10

Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen drama) 0/10, my first ever 0/10. 

 Offwidth 22 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Come on... both of those need an explanation ;-)

In reply to Offwidth:

The Cat Returns was an absolute joy. I had never seen it, only known of it as being highly regarded. Watched it with zero knowledge of the plot (managed to not read the back of the DVD) and either my adult brain has been cabbaged, or the film was wonderfully unpredictable. It had a great sense of humour which can sometimes feel a bit lacking in some Ghibli stuff. 

Cassandra's Dream is probably the least known of all Woody Allen's film, a 2007-8 effort which came in that period where he was weirdly churning out a series of small British films (Match Point - dull, Scoop - not seen). 
I've seen the trailer a few times and it did look deathly dull but I was intrigued by it being Hayley Atwell's first feature film, plus a cast including Colin Farrell, Tom Wilkinson, Sally Hawkins and Phil Davis, and bizarrely a score by Philip Glass, all added to the intrigue. I wasn't expecting much but yesterday I'd already given two films a "second chance" and was feeling generous so decided to try this one. 
It is absolutely ABYSMAL. Idiotic characters that don't deserve any empathy. Lumpen dialogue and some awfully wooden acting, which one might come to expect from Ewan MacGregor a lot of the time, but Farrell and Hawkins don't come out of it well either (I don't blame them, it is badly directed and badly written and no actor can salvage that). 
Atwell is fine with what she's given to work with (i.e. Woody Allen's typical "set dressing") but her character serves absolutely no purpose and might as well not be in the film at all. 
It is 1h47m long and I think it says it all, that I dozed off at about 1h05m for 25 minutes, and didn't even realise I'd missed a chunk of it by the time I got to the end, and then I DID realise, and went back and watched what I'd missed, and it didn't add anything (the film is predictable enough). 
I gave 1/10 to Tulip Fever earlier this year, because Tom Hollander turned in a comedic performance worthy of note. Cassandra's Dream doesn't even have anything like that. Hands down the worst "major" film I have ever seen. So I am weirdly happy, now I have a new benchmark!

NB I am NOT going to see Cats! That might break the scale and get a negative score....


 John2 22 Dec 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

Two Popes (available on Netflix).

I was not expecting to enjoy this so much - there was a lot of humour in the to and fro between Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins, who were both superb. At least 8/10. If only the recreation of the Sistine Chapel had been a little more convincing.

In reply to Offwidth:

Oh come on!!

Anybody going to write a review of Cats?  Anybody going to admit to have paid to watch it? ;)

 Tom V 22 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Only just spotted your question about Edward Norton. I wasnt aware of him disowning Hulk and The Italian Job but I can't say I'm surprised.

But as for American History X , what's the issue? I've googled it but can't find much other than praise.

In reply to Tom V:

> But as for American History X , what's the issue? I've googled it but can't find much other than praise.

He had the director barred from editing and oversaw the edit as he saw fit, changing the director’s intention for the film. Perhaps he did an excellent job, perhaps director Tony Kaye was a bit all over the place and it needed doing Norton’s way, but it was widely reported at the time to be an acrimonious brattish show of power, and done without due process 

In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Oh come on!!

> Anybody going to write a review of Cats?  Anybody going to admit to have paid to watch it? ;)

I have an unlimited annual cinema pass and I would not admit to seeing it for - effectively - free! I see the director is now desperately claiming that all that is wrong with it is that the special effects weren’t quite finished so he’s tweaked them in the last five days and now a much better version will be shown  

In reply to Tom V:

>  I wasnt aware of him disowning Hulk and The Italian Job but I can't say I'm surprised.

Plenty of actors regret certain film choices but the (unwritten?) “rule” is that they should keep quiet for a sort of “grace period”. I would assume that on large films they are contracted to involve themselves in the promotion. Whenever they break rank, it’s a big deal and they probably burn bridges.

So for example a film like The Negotiator was pretty obviously a bit of contract fulfilment duty for Kevin spacey and Samuel L Jackson but they didn’t publicly disown it.

Ryan Reynolds had the good grace to wait a while before mocking his The Green Lantern.

Norton just went straight ahead and disowned those two examples pretty much before they were released. You may think that is really cool and punk and honest of him, but it’s kind of disrespectful and childish in my opinion 

 Tom V 22 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Ok I'll revise my opinion of EN slightly but on cinematic performances I'm still a big follower.

In reply to Offwidth:

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

My spoiler free review 

I score this [blank]/10

The first [blank] minutes were quite [blank] but as it went on, the film got steadily [blank]. Some aspects of it were very [blank] but [blank] balanced out by other aspects. [Blank] takes the acting honours but it has to be said that [blank] for their part, was quite [blank]

 Guy 26 Dec 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Sounds very similar to Star Wars Episode [blank]

In reply to Offwidth:

Destination Wedding. Romcom. 2018. Netflix. 7.7/10
Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder as two cynical, sardonic and loathsome singletons having to endure a wedding.
If you get through your own derision of the characters in the first 10 minutes then fabulous dialogue should keep you laughing all the way through. 
One of the best comedies I've seen this year. 

 Offwidth 30 Dec 2019
In reply to becauseitsthere:

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 from last night... fantastic fun.


 Tom V 30 Dec 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

Mudbound on Netflix. 

Depressing civil rights drama with a little uplift at the end.

In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Anybody going to write a review of Cats?  Anybody going to admit to have paid to watch it? ;)

I would have gone to see it on New Year's Eve (partly inspired by my review of the year's films including the worst ones!) if my sister hadn't announced she was making a surprise visit on New Year's Day, which necessitated a rapid panic-cleaning-up of Straggler Mansions and no time to waste deliberately watching a total trainwreck. 
I am pretty slovenly with housework as I hate it, so it says a lot about the reputation of Cats, that I preferred doing manual labour cleaning my house, to watching Cats....

Post edited at 15:38

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