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Movie Time 2.0: TT mini reviews

Rewatched all Screams in anticipation of Scream (2022 film). Well, also because they're all a blast and I couldn't stop at the first. Perhaps the most consistent slasher franchise. (Nightmare's my favorite, but that one has some bad films) Strongly feel that Scream 3 is really good. Worst beginning and ending in the franchise, but it has some of the highest quality Gale Weathers material in the series, of course supported by Parker Posey's Jennifer Jolie. Also Emily Mortimer is really good here. I was always sad when she died as a child bc she seemed nice, but she was supposed to be the second killer and in retrospect, yeah, she's playing that in every one of her scenes. It's funny! I see no reason to think she isn't one, and Roman was just a dick and killed her before she could monologue about her motivations.

Scream 4 otoh has maybe the second strongest beginning/ending (particularly the latter) in the franchise after the first. But Gale is sidelined and that's a real shame. Hard to tolerate after the highs of Scream 3...

Anyway, Scream (2022 film). First of all, I wish it were just Scream 5. A lot of new creatives here so who knows. I liked the directors' film Ready or Not well enough. Trailer has some weird business with an app that controls the door locks! which seems silly but actually, every one of these films has some slightly off use of technology. (mostly regarding the voice changer) Also strange the presumptive first victim is not using an iPhone considering Scre4m had a pretty good bit about how you could tell something was up if character didn't just have iPhones. Is something up... or are the creatives just going all in on this app business? Time will tell.
 
I watched Creature last night. Its a 1980s sci-fi horror film and is also an Alien rip-off.

Its pretty good. It feels a bit to me like an episode of Star Trek.

A crew goes to Saturn, a moon of Jupiter, to investigate a ship that lost communication with Earth. When the crew lands on Saturn they discover a Creature which killed the previous ships crew. The creature implants an organism into a crew member, and then the crew member does the creature's bidding. Infected crew lure other crew members to feed the carnivorous Creature.

I liked the premise of the movie. While the movie is low budget, the sets are decent and the actors take their roles seriously. If you've seen Alien a ton of times, Creature is an interesting alternate take on the same basic plot. Its not amazing, but I enjoyed Creature.
 
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Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Watched Willy's Wonderland and I can't recommend it. Don't bother. Much of it is around the same level as a Syfy Original Movie. BUT Nick Cage and his character are both great. He's doing the silent badass but I love that within the premise, he clearly is indifferent to the very fact that monsters are trying to kill him and sees it as a slight inconvenience to cleaning up a Chuck E Cheese rip-off, his real mission. And the fact that he is mildly interested in the fate of the other people in the movie, both good and evil. He's good enough to lend a jack knife so a girl can defend herself but by God, he's still going to take his break. Everything else about the movie is a clunky attempt to be a midnight movie and is missing the mark in most respect but the director, writer and cinematographer know exactly what to do with Cage in the best possible way.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I finally started to watch movies on Criterion that aren't Zatoichi and did what I was doing earlier: going through alphabetically and just take a chance. And I ended up with Abigail Harm, an earlier film (2012) from the director of Minari. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 50% and it's either loved or not (save for universal acclaim for Amanda Palmer) and I get it. It's very much more about tone as it tells it's urban magic realist fairy tale. Basically, a lonely aging woman saves a man who tells her in return how to get a man through sort of magical means. There's a place where a vaguely mystical young man bathes and if you steal his clothes, you can essentially own him. Desperate, the woman does it and the two do fall in real love. But as time goes on, he's yearning to move on and she's torn between her desire to keep him and wanting him to have agency. Despite this, tonally it's not a dilemma heavy movie and is more about the intoxication of falling in love. Which means lots of scenes with not a lot happening. One critic complained there wasn't a lot happening to ground it but I think it's not meant to be grounded. It's a fairy tale art piece, enigmatic. Did I like it? I'm... not sure. It's a short movie so it isn't long but I had time letting it wash over me, which I feel is the point. I might try again sometime. But for now, I'm more interested intellectually than being moved (though again, it's hard not to feel for Palmer, even if she does the wrong thing).
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Enjoyed Frozen 2 - it shakes up the Disney formula more than the first, which is nice, and also agreed with the things VV said about it last page. Anyway, the pair of those are one more cultural lodestone off the "never got around to it" list.

Oh also my partner printed me out some piano sheet music for Let It Go which *is* a fun song, though dang this arrangement is hard and I'd actually have to practice if I wanted to do it justice. You don't really notice when just watching it but the whole thing is so darn syncopated. And then there a finicky bridge section that happens when the ice palace is going up and it's all huge fast runs of accidentals and oof.
 

4-So

Spicy
And I ended up with Abigail Harm, an earlier film (2012) from the director of Minari. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 50% and it's either loved or not (save for universal acclaim for Amanda Palmer) and I get it.

I had to Google this to realize you meant Amanda Plummer. I was concerned for a second that Amanda Palmer was in a movie and I totally missed it.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Can't argue with that, especially given I spent two years of my life running fan stuff for it.


Meanwhile I finally saw The Triplets of Belleville. I have no idea what I was expecting (all I really knew going in was that it's a highly acclaimed piece of animation work) so pretty much all of it was a surprise. The opening retro bit is interesting from an animation history perspective but I was relieved when the film became something else entirely pretty quickly. Though it wasn't really until the water animation bits that it sunk in that every inch of this thing looks *precisely* as they meant it to.

Also for a movie with nearly no dialog it is very, very French.
 
Watched Willy's Wonderland and I can't recommend it. Don't bother. Much of it is around the same level as a Syfy Original Movie. BUT Nick Cage and his character are both great. He's doing the silent badass but I love that within the premise, he clearly is indifferent to the very fact that monsters are trying to kill him and sees it as a slight inconvenience to cleaning up a Chuck E Cheese rip-off, his real mission. And the fact that he is mildly interested in the fate of the other people in the movie, both good and evil. He's good enough to lend a jack knife so a girl can defend herself but by God, he's still going to take his break. Everything else about the movie is a clunky attempt to be a midnight movie and is missing the mark in most respect but the director, writer and cinematographer know exactly what to do with Cage in the best possible way.

I love this movie
Granted, it's not great. But the FNAF rip off plus peak Cage makes it very entertaining. I recommend it to everyone, even you despite what you just said. :p
 
Watched the original King Kong for the first time in decades. The special effects are truly spectacular and I really wish stop-motion animation were more used in blockbusters these days. Fay Wray good. Subsequent versions lean too heavily into Kong as a hero. He loves eating people! Son of Kong (never seen) is seventy minutes long and stupid. More films should be! Special effects are way less impressive here (not surprising considering how quickly it was produced and apparently the lead animator on King Kong left) but still, really fun. Why did SoK have to die, rip. Helen Mack also good. Her character makes a bad financial decision in the end, but whatever.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I also rewatch Ed the original King Kong. The visuals have aged a lot better than anything else in the movie. Every part of the movie that wasn’t a gorilla wrestling a dinosaur or sailors being murdered by local megafauna was, if not a narrative waste, than it was incredibly racist and/or misogynistic.

Carl Denham Is the biggest monster in the movie, not the giant god-ape
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I also was going to watch King Kong but for some reason it's not playing on Chrome so I decided "Fuck it, I'm gonna watch something arty on Criterion" And it was the best choice.

The film? Les Abyses. And man, it is a film that started on the complete wrong foot with me and totally won me over. The problem is that the first act feels like capital N New Wave Art Film with people yelling and having completely affected madness. But once the set up is done and the plot actually begins, the film turns a complete corner into being a great psychological class thriller melodrama.

Two maids/sisters have basically been left alone for years on an estate by their thoughtless employers. They haven't been paid in years and have gone mad from isolation. Their employers eventually return home; a kind-intentioned woman, her mom who doesn't abide the help's insolence and her father who is just trying to keep the peace. All three of them exhibit a different kind of class abuse, including the well-intentioned woman who wants to help the girls in half-measures and doesn't seem to have much real intent on helping them in the present. Her feelings are genuine but her inability to see she's really been a party to the abuse despite everything makes things worse. The father can't pay the three years worth of wages until he sells the house but the sisters don't want him to sell; they plan to take the house over themselves as recompense. When it is about these weird power dynamics and the failings of all three characters who assume authority over people, even the seemingly nice woman who really does believe in humanity over money (and failing to realize the nature of her own privilege.

The film is at it's weakest when the women are just "acting crazy", laughing maniacally and smashing shit. It's much better when it is about dominance, control and power and in this respect would make a great companion piece with Parasite (even if the last scene is quite on the nose). Apparently, there's also a lot of metaphor for the issue of Algeria at the time but that is completely lost on me. The "class is Hell" definitely spoke to me more.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I kind of feel like Independence Day is the perfect litmus test for determining someones taste in movies lines up with my own. It is riddled with such a completely unbelievable number of plot holes, they’ve been pointed out countless times over the years; if internal coherent logic is important to you for watching a movie, it is poison.

However.

Its pacing is incredible; even with its 2 and a half hour run time, it moves at a good clip and not a single scene is wasted. Every character is, if not especially deep, perfectly suited for the movie. 25 years later, it still looks amazing. Nobody else in Hollywood has ever matched Roland Emmerich for rendering wide scale destruction, and here it’s matched by the sheer spectacle Of the aliens even when they aren’t doing anything but sitting there. This is a movie you look at as much as you watch.

And Jeff Goldblum programs a computer virus that animates a laughing skull in an alien super computer, and by GOD, that’s basically a shorthand for everything I just said.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
Based on Redlettermedia’s quasi-recommmendation during their year end catch up video, I watched The Empty Man. It’s a weird movie and it’s way too long, but I feel I should mention the big plot twist near the end. The twist being that the main character was essentially focus grouped into existence by a cult of psychics to replace a guy in a coma who is a conduit for a unknown primordial being.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
A common form of crime story is one about a criminal who gets into trouble with worse criminals and has to try to get themselves back out. I Care a Lot walks a really fine line by doing this story about a woman who forces old people into assisted living and scams as much value out of them as she can before they die. I was skeptical they could stick the landing but I ended up satisfied with how the story turned out.
 
A common form of crime story is one about a criminal who gets into trouble with worse criminals and has to try to get themselves back out. I Care a Lot walks a really fine line by doing this story about a woman who forces old people into assisted living and scams as much value out of them as she can before they die. I was skeptical they could stick the landing but I ended up satisfied with how the story turned out.
And then Macon Blair is at the end! MACON BLAIR
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I kind of feel like Independence Day is the perfect litmus test for determining someones taste in movies lines up with my own. It is riddled with such a completely unbelievable number of plot holes, they’ve been pointed out countless times over the years; if internal coherent logic is important to you for watching a movie, it is poison.

However.

Its pacing is incredible; even with its 2 and a half hour run time, it moves at a good clip and not a single scene is wasted. Every character is, if not especially deep, perfectly suited for the movie. 25 years later, it still looks amazing. Nobody else in Hollywood has ever matched Roland Emmerich for rendering wide scale destruction, and here it’s matched by the sheer spectacle Of the aliens even when they aren’t doing anything but sitting there. This is a movie you look at as much as you watch.

And Jeff Goldblum programs a computer virus that animates a laughing skull in an alien super computer, and by GOD, that’s basically a shorthand for everything I just said.
All those nice things I said about Independence Day do not apply to Independence Day Resurgence

All the bad things still apply though.

This is a movie where a gargantuan spaceship throws cities at other cities, and even me, someone who is literally Octo, all the time, thinks it sucks.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
The Power of the Dog was certainly an interesting movie; it's quite slow-paced, and it doesn't reveal itself until close to the very end of the film. But that aspect of the film also mirrors the character arc of Benedict Cumberbatch's terribly caustic Phil Burbank. It's kind of a neo-western, but it's not interested in examining physical violence or anti-heroism. Instead, it focuses its attention on toxic masculinity and homophobia, and the multi-faceted loneliness that is caused by them. It's also got a couple of pretty intense animal-related-violence scenes, so content warning for that.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
I haven't seen No Way Home yet, but aside from that I think Eternals is actually the best/my favorite of the new batch of MCU movies.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Watched the new MacBeth. Still processing it as I can't quite decide about the combination of "clearly a soundstage" and "1930s German films", but I didn't dislike it and really appreciate dedicating to a direction so thoroughly. I'm not really sure how you watch it without an AppleTV (we used my mom's account) but I do recommend it if you have that or a free trial or whatever. The pacing is a little quick for me but it leaves the film at only 1h45m so can't complain.
 
After significant amounts of urging from a friend who adores it, I got around to watching Belle the other night. Unfortunately this film landed closer to Summer Wars than Wolf Children for me. I guess I just can't stand Hosoda's digital world obsession, they always seem to come across as dull and the stakes as artificially inflated nothingness. In this film he also mashed up Beauty and the Beast (obviously) with very strong Paprika influences, but it fell far short of measuring up to any of those parts, let alone the sum of them. The soundtrack was decent, nice electronic sound to it all, but the reveal near the end felt cheap, unearned, and then completely botched and undermined in the handling, making it seem like a cheap ploy for feels.

Nonetheless, probably should've got the Oscar nod over Luca.
 
Hosoda's obsession with vehicles for telling furry-stories, and Shinkai's obsession with solipsistic love stories being such large, visible, ambassadors to the realm of anime-films makes me kinda sad tbh. I don't mind artists iterating on a constant theme, but it would be nice if these guys sought out a little bit more diversity in their projects and went through multiple phases versus living walled off securely in their comfort zones.

The Best Animated Film ghetto of the Oscars has always been and will likely always be a dumpster fire. It's nice that this year's nominees culturally represent more than just bland, default-whiteness. But it's still a category completely dominated by Hollywood's kid-centric moneyed interests at the expense of the medium.
 
I hear the Danish animated documentary Flee might be in with a chance this year, which would be a welcome and refreshing change. But I suppose it's more likely one of the Disney/Pixar bunch will win yet again.

I also watched The French Dispatch and found it fairly fun. The bitesized nature of the stories, while presented in a very Wes Anderson mode, actually helped keep any individual story from spiraling too deeply into Anderson-isms, I found. Each little one was able to wrap up amusingly before it overstayed its welcome or got too twee.
 
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