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Movie Time 2.0: TT mini reviews

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Last night I watched Ganja & Hess. I knew little about it but I've seen the name pop up more than once before and was surprised this month to hear it is a horror film (and a classic at that). So I watched it as blind as I could. It is... interesting. It has horror tropes but my suggestion is go in expecting an experimental art film. The film is about a wealthy black anthropologist who invites an assistant over for dinner. As the evening wears on, the assistant reveals that he's paranoid and suicidal and the professor, Hess, talks him out of it and the guy stays for the night. Later in the evening, Hess is awoken to the assistant apparently stabbing him to death with a bone knife from his collection. The assistant kills himself and Hess wakes up alive and unharmed, finds the body and begins drinking its blood.

So Hess becomes a quasi-vampire, at first stealing blood from the hospital but soon finding only fresh blood will do. Later, the assistant's wife Ganja pays him a visit to enquire about her missing husband and the two fall in love. Later, the wife finds the body of her husband but after an angry outburst, she returns and clearly tells Hess that due to her upbringing, she is willing to keep seeing a murderer if she can live a life where she is supported. She doesn't believe Hess is supernatural, just a killer. But Hess invites her into immortality and she accepts and then things get complicated for both parties.

Its a weird movie and because it is an art film from the 70s, there are LONG periods that slowly unfold that are more about tone and an experience than plot. Which is tough for me on a Friday night after a long work week. And in many ways it is an extremely unpolished film. It reminds me of George A. Romero's early work (helped by the fact that the lead of Night of the Living Dead is Hess in this movie) and Carnival of Souls: ambitious and intelligent but technically very rough around the edges. Conversations are not always easy to hear. But the saturating use of sound reminds me of Scorsese, particularly in the final half of the movie.

But the big thing is I thought about this movie the rest of the night. A lot of it is not an easy watch for a casual viewing. This isn't a fun thrill ride, it is a meditative movie about the black experience and I'm still grappling with what it is saying about Christianity. Its never presented in a negative light but I feel like with references to an older culture, writer/director Bill Gunn might be trying to work through his feelings about being Christian but also Christianity being the religion of the white people who enslaved black people. Similarly, I feel like while Hess isn't "evil" for being wealthy, his wealth and class puts him in a system where he is losing touch and empathy for people.

Marlene Clark, who would become more well-known as a recurring character in Sandford and Son apparently, is the best part of the movie (though Duane Jones does good work). Her speech where she explains why she is willing to be party to murder or more specifically, look out for herself at any cost, is some powerful stuff.
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
21 Bridges was like watching someone with a terminal case of Hollywood writer brain try to reconcile the fact that they liked writing cop movies against the fact that IRL cops are all murderous sons of bitches.

The result was probably the most confused and fucked up thing I've ever seen. 2ish hours of MURDER COP, who they keep assuring us has done SO MANY MURDERS, but for some reason is also the ONLY COP who HESITATES TO MURDER, trying to hunt down MURDER CRIMINAL and NORMAL CRIMINAL, to uncover the truth of the EVIL COPS who are evil, but not MURDER COP who is good and presumably all the other cops who are also good!

The BAD COPS are not bad because they're cops, but because the CITY HATES THEM so that's why they joined a SCECRET TEAM of being bad and selling drugs, because that's how bad cops happen. Not by doing all those kills! That's a good cop!

Just.

I miss you Chadwick, but holy shit, what were you DOING in this, man?
 
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YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
The Invisible Man was a solid thriller, but I would only recommend it with an attached content warning of "extreme gaslighting towards a woman."
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Watched Smokey & The Bandit, since my father was utterly shocked that I’d never seen one of his favourite movies.
It is, in fact, a pretty solid movie, and Burt Reynolds and Sally Fields are effortlessly charming, and also it’s a movie from the 70s, and is rife with all the baggage that entails.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
After many years of thinking about doing it, I watched The Road To El Dorado. It was a good movie that probably did not do very well in theaters due to the lack of interest in 2D films at the time. Also, Chel is way too sexy for a kids movie. I can't imagine a family watching this film, and then she shows up twenty minutes in and things get awkward.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
Hubie Halloween is on the upper side of mediocre. Not quite as lazy or tired as many of Sandler's movies, but still not really good in any sense.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Watched Christine, a film I know existed but kept forgetting is a John Carpenter film. And I think I know why. With the exception of Halloween, Carpenter rarely deals with movies about teens. And even in Halloween, it is less about a "teen experience" and more about the transformation of a human into a myth. Christine is very much about teens. Of course, it helps that it is based on a King story and he's a guy who often writes about the experiences of youth. This hits a lot of the hallmarks: nerd becomes confident and "cool", friends grow apart and a character finds a new outlet. In this case, the outlet is fixing up a car and things end badly. I wouldn't put it as top tier Carpenter but it is definitely a funny little thriller. There are nice details, such as the car being so broke up at a point, it looks like a fanged mouth.



Neat fact, the guy who plays Arnie, the lead (though I think it can be debated that his cool friend is lead or co-lead) went onto become a TV director and even worked on one of my all time favourite shows known for great directing Better Call Saul. He also directed some Fargo episodes, another good looking show.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army is not nearly as faithful to the comic as the original, but in exchange it’s a lot more fun, and is largely an excuse for GDT to be given a big budget in order to spend Two hours showing off all kinds of fun monsters and really impressive practical effects; Furthermore, Seth Macfarlane as a scuba ghost.

It also Set up a lot of plot for a third movie, and while we did eventually get one, it was a reboot, so it didn’t pick up those threads. Furthermore, it was terrible.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
Hellboy II is one of my absolute favorite movies. Just a bunch of gorgeous monsters and scenery. It might be the most Guillermo Del Toro movie, including the one where the creature from the black lagoon plays the romantic lead.
 
Watched Christine, a film I know existed but kept forgetting is a John Carpenter film. And I think I know why. With the exception of Halloween, Carpenter rarely deals with movies about teens. And even in Halloween, it is less about a "teen experience" and more about the transformation of a human into a myth. Christine is very much about teens. Of course, it helps that it is based on a King story and he's a guy who often writes about the experiences of youth. This hits a lot of the hallmarks: nerd becomes confident and "cool", friends grow apart and a character finds a new outlet. In this case, the outlet is fixing up a car and things end badly. I wouldn't put it as top tier Carpenter but it is definitely a funny little thriller. There are nice details, such as the car being so broke up at a point, it looks like a fanged mouth.



Neat fact, the guy who plays Arnie, the lead (though I think it can be debated that his cool friend is lead or co-lead) went onto become a TV director and even worked on one of my all time favourite shows known for great directing Better Call Saul. He also directed some Fargo episodes, another good looking show.
I’m not sure I’d place all the credit with Christine being good re: teens with King. The teen stuff in Halloween is very good! I definitely appreciate it more than the mythologizing of Michael, but I think I’m unusual for enjoying that... not at all. Rewatched Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers for the first time since childhood this year. It’s a teen movie but everyone is fully fucking weird aside from thinking Brian Krause is hot. King seems totally disinterested in writing teens which made sense to me until five minutes ago bc I mostly associate him with writing either children or adults, especially if they’re boomers. Then I remembered, uh, Carrie. So maybe one or the other is an outlier or they are his only two works about teens... (unlikely, writes a lot, more than enough of it good)
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Vampyr

Looking for something to watch late last night that was short and while I was tempted to watch the Unknown again (if you haven't seen it, its a 48 minute black comedy horror movie in the Tales from the Crypt vein 25 years early) but went with this. Its an odd movie and feels largely about showing off its impressive visual effects and good visual aesthetic. The weirdest aspect is that it is a sound movie but the entire tone and feel of it is silent, meaning it feels like a silent movie where characters occasionally talk. I don't even its a movie with little talking, I feel like it is a movie in which the camera moves and lingers in a way I'm used to silent era film. Its a neat little film but probably not the best watch when you are sleepy. But some of these silent actors (many of which who are non-actors) make an impression.
 

Paul le Fou

AAAAAAAA
(He)
I watched The Girl With All the Gifts. I liked it! It had a lot of interesting concepts, really good characters, a lot of tension, and only one "oh you complete idiot!" sequence.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
Tonight I watched Night of the Lepus, a movie about murderous, giant bunny rabbits rampaging over the west. The filmmakers struggled to make the bunnies seem malevolent, on account of how they were cute bunnies. It almost seems like it has to be a self-aware joke, but it seems like it was earnestly trying to be a horror movie. But it is significantly more silly than scary and just as significantly more boring than either.
 

Nich

stuck in baby prison
(he/him)
I remember seeing that on TV when I was pretty young and thinking it was called Night of the Leapers, because rabbits.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Finished watching Bram Stoker's Dracula last night (I rarely watch movies in "parts" but I was way too tired to make it all the way through on Monday night). Its not a perfect movie but it is GOING for it. Great turn by Oldman and Hopkins is at his best not when he's an exposition machine but during his off-handed comments that other characters just CAN'T BELIEVE. Poor Keanu is lost without a map, which is a shame. Jonathan Harker is a pretty wet noodle of a character even without Reeves' problems (apparently part of it was that he was wiped from back to back roles but the fact is Reeves is not an "accent" guy). But his weaknesses actually make the other actors even more impressive and it still makes the whole thing feel crazy fun.

Part of me wants to check out Mary Shelly's Frankenstein but I'm given to understand that's all weakness, no fun. But I have always been more of a fan of Frankenstein than Dracula.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Color Out of Space - It took me a while to get into this one but man, that's a Hell of a final act. Appropriately apocalyptic and I love how they made how moving through reality itself is like wading through mud. This is supposed to be the first of a tryptic of films, so I'm looking forward to the next ones. Impressed that this is the directors first feature film since getting kicked off The Island of Doctor Moreau. Also, Nic Cage gets to totally Cage out. It works.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Cremator - In 1930 Czechoslovakia, Karel Kopfrkingl is a quirky but seemingly harmless cremator with a slightly Addams Family-style morbidity who believes death alleviates suffering. But it becomes apparently that he's an aloof and somewhat hypocritical creep (he claims abstinence from Earthly desires but sexually harasses an employee, goes to a brothel and drinks "ceremonially") and he slowly gets much worse after he falls under the sway of the Nazi party, in the form of an old war buddy. Eventually, he's betraying pretty much every friend he has, under the delusion that death will save them from suffering, only to cause more suffering. He believes himself to be the reincarnation of the Buddha and in hallucinations a monk who is also himself comes to tell him this. Soon, he's getting his own hands dirty with death directly.

I suspected this wasn't a "horror" movie, but Criterion listed it as such so I decided to watch it anyway. I mean, I guess you could definite it as such if you also think of A Clockwork Orange as something similar. After all, horrifying things definitely happen in both and there's murder, but I would define it more as a bleak and very arch allegory.

I actually mention A Clockwork Orange because this film feels very much like a 70s era Kubrick movie, particularly towards the final act. Its a very good but bleak movie about radicalization into Naziism, so its timely and even more upsetting. The film was banned for a long time by the communist government and it is easy to see why a regime of any kind might not want this around, even if its essentially about the regime the communists defeated. And it is scary but more scary in seeing what a man can convince himself into believing, leading to Kopfrkingl giving a propagandist speech during what is supposed to be his half-Jewish wife's funeral and revealing that he's one of the key architects of the extermination camps that are to come.

Rudolf Hrušínský is the lead and apparently a legend in his own country and after watching this, its easy to see why. He has a Peter Lorre quality, save much more unsettlingly stony than most Lorre characters (I find in the Lorre movies I've seen, he tends to be aloof but also somewhat fragile). I can definitely see the film being a hard watch (especially if you feel uncomfortable watching an awful person getting even more awful throughout a movie as he targets good people) but I do recommend it. Its a pretty amazing movie.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
The Trial of The Chicago Seven is solid. Lots of good acting, especially from Mark Rylance. It feels a little manufactured, though. Its Sorkin, and the characters frequently have just the perfect line to say for any given moment in a way that doesn't feel at all real. I think this story, and maybe even this script (Sorkin writes and directs) could have been made into a great movie, but this is a good one.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Oh, you are in for a treat. I will say, I've not seen his 70s output. I'm given to understand the Brood is strong but comes from a bit of a misogynistic place as Cronenberg was going through a nasty divorce which heavily informed the film. I've seen Shivers and I only think its half a good film but I might like it more on rewatch.

But his 80s stuff is strong. The Fly is great and as good as Videodrome (don't ask me which is better, that's very difficult for me). The Dead Zone is good but outside of a few moments, its not very Cronenbergian. Not just a lack of body horror (which he eventually gets away from) but more trying to suit himself to a more Hollywood film.
 
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