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What Are You Watching?

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CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

So, this weekend I checked out;

Trucks - This is basically a remake of Maximum Overdrive but much lower budget and written to be closer to the original short story by Stephen King. I'm a bit unsure why it was ever made as it wasn't like the original film (a favorite of mine) was well received or the source particularly valuable IP. Maybe it started out as a much bigger project and dwindled. It's watchable and actually has a brilliant final moment but it's also full of exposition.

Women's Prison Massacre / Emmanuel in Prison - A lot more arty in terms of cinematography than I was expecting with what must be directly translated Italian to English dubbing because the dialogue is comically unrealistic. It contains graphic nudity but only really graphic in one place which surprised me as I thought that's what these films were sold on.

The Mountain of the Cannibal God / Slave of the Cannibal God - Impressive that they managed to shoot in the conditions they did and Ursula Andress is certainly no pampered pooch when it comes to getting her hands dirty. The story however is a bit weird with last minute twist that's never resolved. The animal cruelty is abhorrent.

Cannibal Holocaust - Certainly worthy of it's status as one of the most controversial films ever made. It left me stunned and sitting in silence for a while after finishing. It genuinely is shocking and horrific even by today's standards and nailed its attempt to appear part mondo documentary. While the message behind the story resounds, it completely lacks any form of self-awareness, mostly because the director appeared to be a borderline sociopath when he made it. I cried for the animals harmed but admired the artistry that went into making it. 

Sarah Nader's picture
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Joined: Jan 2021

B. Jack Azadi - You're not alone on that one... I watched Capernaum a few months ago too haha! The thing is, my parents had gone to the theater when it came out, and I couldn't go with them at the time, so they watched it without me, but eh. I finally watched it now. 

With that said, I'm not really watching any shows or series at the moment, but I did watch The Queen's Gambit a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it.

Derek Reid's picture
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Joined: Jan 2020

Austenland (2013). Fiction(! ) Went for quirky, landed sometimes (straw girl) fell flat sometimes ("Darcy Rocks"). I was a little mystified why they didn't even try to de-age Keri Russell for the High School (maybe pre high school?!) intro scenes. Kinda funny, but not a major part of the movie so whatever.

Gist is people (women) pay to have a Jane Austen-era experience with actors paid to be contemporaries / possible "romantic" interests which at best (with all parties knowledgeable-ish and limiting physical rules in place) is still a complete moral minefield (to the film's credit this is dealt with in the third act). Some things to think about re: fantasy/reality & also class distinctions in ye olde England.

Occasional inappropriate humor. Keri Russell was charming. The final "twist" could almost be guessed from the opening credits but it still needed to happen.

Verdict: FREE TV.

Also Seahawks V. Rams Playoffs (2021) Verdict: SKIP.

CJ Walley's picture
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I watched The Sisterhood last night which is an old b-movie from the 80's. It was made to ride on the wave of the punkocalypse trend Mad Max created at the time. It's very poorly reviewed but I really enjoyed it. I want to write a remake LOL!

Barry John Terblanche's picture
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Joined: Jun 2020

Last night, babysitting my sister's 10-year-old daughter. I was left with having to pick and watch what she had. I ended up with BFG (big friendly giant)

I grinded my teeth as I pop the DVD in. Well, I'll be darned... It was actually an enjoyable movie! Very well made too, I may add. 

Sarah Nader's picture
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Barry John Terblanche - It is indeed! I watched it two years ago, but I remember enjoying it (and being surprised by that haha).

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

I watched Galaxina last night which is a screwball space comedy trying to exploit the popularity of Star Wars and Barbarella. What's really strange about it is that it's packed with jokes but barely any of them actually land. It's fascinating and almost painful to watch because they aren't bad ideas.

Derek Reid's picture
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Joined: Jan 2020

Pride & Prejudice (2005). Re-watch. I'd scratch the "goddess divine" line near the end but a hard one to improve much upon. Keira Knightley & Donald Sutherland are playing poker here with 10+ cards. Verdict: PURCHASE.

Also on (free w/ ads) U.S. Peacock atm.   

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

I watched a very trashy 80's movie last night called School Spirit which is about a guy who is killed in a car accident and gets to spend some time as a ghost at his high school, the boon being (of course) trying to get laid. It's got very polarized reviews but I found it a lot of fun with some great performances. What's crazy though is the lead was aged 37 when it was shot!

Derek Reid's picture
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Stalingrad (1993). I'd been sitting on a friend's rec for this one a bit. Discovered it was kinda difficult to find in the U.S. DVD available for purchase on amazon at $20 (the amount of times I'd pay $20 for a disc unseen is near, if not at 0). Also not at the library or rental streaming services I use. It was thrown up on YouTube, but it was obviously a non-official upload and I won't even consider taking part in that unless the work is 100% commercially unavailable / out of print whether the copyright holders are filing claims to remove them or not. Finally remembered that eBay is still a thing and found it new on there for $8 (w/ s&h), which I bought on the grounds it's probably the best deal I'll get atm. (disclaimer: the previous story wasn't super interesting)

I was kinda disappointed with the DVD quality, looked like a mediocre VHS transfer or something. Movie was decent enough tho. Really only had "war is a bad time" to say but it said that pretty well. Oh, also showcased that Russian families were still living in Stalingrad during the fighting there. Tough stuff. Verdict: FREE TELEVISION (if available)    

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

A lot of early DVD copies of films are indeed just that, VHS transfers. VIPCO infamously re-released a load of old films doing this and upset their customer base as a result.

Coincidentally, I watched Invasion of the Bee Girls last night which is was digitized from such a poor print that it opened with a warning about it. I found the film itself a bit meh and much alike Curse of the Moon Beast in tone (lots of pseudo science waffle). However, William Smith puts in a great performance.

Derek Reid's picture
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CJ - Fo sho. I def don't have a problem when that's all there is to transfer, it's the lazy cash-grab ones that I'm not down with (have some pride in one's work yo). Not sure which is the case here (when the dvd was pressed, etc.) It does have some weird missing space, capital letter (?) thing going on a bit w/ back case text (it's the official release still by the look), but at least there are English subtitles on the film and not just dubbing (I try to avoid language dubs when I can help it). 

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

The Warrior Queen from 1987 drew my attention last night. Perhaps one of the strangest films I've seen from a story standpoint as it doesn't really seem to have one... or a protagonist... or a villain. It just has a bunch of events play out that are barely connected while occasionally throwing in some nudity as compensation. What's doubly-weird is it seems all the major action scenes were pulled from a different movie, evident by the fact it clearly cuts back and forth from video to film.

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

Saw Break Even yesterday. Best movie I've even seen, hands down. Totally not biased LOL!

Anyway. I watched another old 80's movie called Screwballs which, while puerile, was a load of fun. Imagine a movie where the entire premise is touching girl's boobs in what appears to be the horniest high school in America. Utterly ridiculous but totally self aware. 

Alan Fleet's picture
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Joined: Jan 2018

Watched Westworld original at the weekend. Still liked it. Crichton really did have great ideas. I wonder if Jurassic Park was in his mind in 1973.

Kaye Koddy's picture
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Joined: Dec 2019

A Simple Favor came up on Hulu and I loved it. Stylish and twisty (a few twists are half-baked but they don't detract from the compelling story and performances). I think Paul Feig should get more credit as a director for comedic originality. There are lots of sly touches that are fun to look out for. And I'd love to read the adapted screenplay, dialogue is brilliant and the elliptical scenes are so well designed. A very intelligent movie that actually does credit to the Hitchcockian genre and is entertaining throughout.

Kaye Koddy's picture
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Joined: Dec 2019

If you're looking for a comedy hate-watch, Little Italy is a wretched movie. Usually if a bunch of critics write sneering reviews of a new comedy film, I bird-dog right to it because so many good comedies don't get the love they deserve. But Little Italy gets zero stars.

The setup is promising: a talented young chef is given an opportunity to compete in creating a menu for a new restaurant. But first she has to travel from London to Canada to update her visa. And that's about the last we get about her efforts to create an amazing menu or try to win the competition. Instead she's sucked back into the family pizza biz that has a longstanding feud with another family's pizza place (they all used to love each other but something mysterious happened to make them enemies; it's only revealed at the end why they fight). The supposedly competing pizza places look exactly alike and the pizza is the same too (and the slices look very unappetizing). The chef gets hooked up with an old boyfriend who's the son of the enemy pizza family yet the complications are very low-key.

But even all those misses, and no stakes at all, might be overlooked if there was a hint of charm or joy or even one scene that evoked something romcomish. There's nothing, it's just never funny or fresh. Worst of all are the formulaic bits of dialogue that miss any opportunity to express character or theme. The parents, grandparents, and best friends all have speeches that start with lines like "If there's one thing I've learned in life," and then what they come up with is flat and unimaginative.

Oh and Nikki the chef of course abandons her career and prospects at the end to help her boyfriend create HIS restaurant dream. Which is just as well because the only things we learn about her cooking over the course of the movie are her inspiration to put figs on a pizza and finding out grandma's secret ingredient to her miracle tomato sauce (anchovies!).

Donald Petrie has directed some good comedies over the years, including one of my favorites, The Associate, with Whoopi Goldberg and Dianne Wiest. Who knows what happened with this one, but how can you screw up pizza and lovable Italian shtick?

(The Associate is available for free on YouTube, there's a full movie version amid the trailers and clips. Whoopi invents Robert Cutty, an old white guy, as her imaginary partner so she can get her ideas through to Wall Street players. She succeeds, but there's a problem: Cutty keeps getting all the credit. Dianne Wiest is her loyal secretary and their chemistry is wonderful, I think it's among the best performances of both. The rest of the cast is great too, including Eli Wallach, Bebe Neuwirth, Austin Pendleton, and Lainie Kazan.)

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

Alan, I love the way Crichton totally owned the niche of futuristic theme parks gone awry niche. 

Kaye, I agree about Paul Feig. Such a shame he come out so badly from the Ghostbusters controversy. 

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

As you can all tell, I'm going through a bit of an ol b-movie binge at the mo.

The Female Bunch - Very interesting concept and some really nice imagery and moments. Appears to have been shot using the left over tails of used film reels so the stock keeps changing similar to The Girl in Gold Boots. Yet another excuse to show sex and nudity but some substance here and there that made it more like a western. I felt it was ripe for a remake but found out that's already been done.

Big Bad Mama - What a hoot! Really suspect Oh Brother Where Art Thou got a lot of inspiration from it. Great action and attitude with a very progressive sense of humor for its time. Sadly, it goes to a very weird place with sexual relations which kind of demeans the protagonists. It also includes William Shatner in a role I've never seen him before where he really stands out.

Derek Reid's picture
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Joined: Jan 2020

The Queen (2006). I wasn't aware what exact time period / events this movie would cover when I plopped it in - turned out to mostly be the royal-interpersonal issues in the immediate aftermath of Princess Diana's death. I was fairly young-ish (age 15) when this happened and aside from noticing it was an affecting thing for certain people (and I mean among those inside the United States based on my own observations) I didn't have much reaction to it aside from the "oh, that's a sad thing" sort of thoughts one might expect upon hearing about an early death of a foreign government-figure or celebrity that they didn't really know much about previous... and admittedly I don't have a whole lot more knowledge of 1990's-era England than I did back then so while I didn't dislike the movie I also didn't feel much of an emotional connection to what was always going on. 

Things I enjoyed: 1. When I first saw "Tony Blair" I was like o O (wait, is this really footage of Tony Blair?) for about 2 seconds lol. 2. Tony Blair's "cheshire cat grin" LOL. 3. Liked how Tony Blair came to understand & defend The Queen somewhat even tho the transition came across to me as a tad abrupt. 4. When The Queen remarked to Tony Blair about the press coming after him someday I was o O (wow, that's prophetic) tho after reading the movie came out in 2006 I suppose it may have just been a clever reference to current events... not 100% certain on the timeline of all that. 5. I've always liked end credits with something going on so The Queen & Tony Blair walking with her dogs was appreciated.

May now have the record for use of the name Tony Blair in a single paragraph(!) Verdict: FREE TELEVISION

PS: And after looking up Alex Jennings on account of being familiar he's definitely earned a decent living off (well acted / distinctive) royal-family portrayals. heh

 

Xavier Zinn's picture
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Joined: Jan 2021

Currently on Grey's Anatomy, for the third time, with my daughter honest.

Power watched Vikings for the second while we waited for the last half of season 6 to be released. The last 6 hurt my feelings, that's all I'm gonna say.

Irishman - couldn't get over De Niro's CGI, not to mention I didn't care about the character in the least.

Cat's - I had to watch it just because it was so terrible - got news for you, it's worse and it's great! I would love to understand the thought process that allowed someone to say this is a good idea and needs to be made.

Wonder Woman 1984 - First half not bad, second half - train wreck.

Night Stalker - Netflix Documentary on Richard Ramirez - if you live alone probably a good idea to sleep with the lights on for a while.

And finally, when there's nothing on but we want to watch something......Harry Potter. It still stands up.

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

More b-movie trash for me.

This time it was Hollywood Boulevard which was directed by Joe Dante (Inner Space, Gremlins, Burbs). It's a lot of fun and was shot in only ten days using short ends. It also uses footage, props, and costumes from other movies to bulk itself out. There is of course BEWBIES at every opportunity because midnight movie. The only area it got really uncomfortable for me was trying inject comedy around gang-rape and not in an implied way either. Yikes. The film does however show how Dante worked his way up the career ladder via making these kind of movies.

Elizabeth Blandford's picture
Rockstar - Gold
Joined: Dec 2020

I watch and re-watch Last Tango in Halifax, because of the superb writing, acting and wonderful locations.  The Crown, thought Gillian Anderson's Maggie Thatcher "[milk snatcher]"  very effective.  W1A  a lovable "send up" of the BBC. and if Netflix hadn't removed it I'd re-watch  The Detectorists.  Vera's addictive. But I still think Prime Suspect, with Helen Mirren the best police procedural.

Movies I've recently watched and enjoyed are:  Delirious,  Steve Buscemi does angry so well and yet makes it funny.  The Extra Man, totally off the wall, original and funny. Kevin Kline, nutty and irascible, Paul Dano, sad sack loser with heart, and John C Reilly, who looked like Grizzly Adams, but spoke in a ludicrous falsetto.  And for a slice of Hollywood,[ the nuthouse],  What Just Happened. De Niro and Sean Penn are themselves, and an English actor, unknown to me, plays a manic screenwriter so convincingly.  The comedy I go to when I want cheering up, is, The Polka King. Jack Black creases me as  Jan Lewan, a Polish,  polka playing and singing, amiable scallywag. Jason Schwartzman is hilarious as the lugubrious head of the band, Mickey "Pizazz" the ensemble cast are wonderful. Jackie Weaver is fantastic and does angry so well. 

Elizabeth Blandford's picture
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Joined: Dec 2020

Hi Kaye, thanks for the warning about Little Italy.  Definitely sounds unappetizing!

Derek Reid's picture
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Joined: Jan 2020

The Man Without A Face (1993). A bit more language + sexual comments than I would have liked, but lots of good stuff re: kindness, perils of gossip/prejudgments, acceptance of physical differences/deformities, etc. Verdict: PAID RENTAL.

Das Boot - Director's Cut (1981). This film was 3.5 hours and could have easily been cut to 2 (submarine life can be boring, I get it). Started counting down the half-hour blocks left which is never a good sign. The last 30 minutes or so hinted at some solid themes but imo those were better explored in such films as "All Quiet on the Western Front" (especially the 1979 version - different war I know). The u-boat Captain did have some low-key charisma. Doesn't 100% help when you're thinking o O (probably be better on a macro level if these guys sunk) Verdict: SKIP. 

Kaye Koddy's picture
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Joined: Dec 2019

Screenwriter Walter Bernstein died today (at age 101!). He was a victim of the blacklist who worked through "fronts" and ultimately was able to revive his career. He wrote "The Front," with Woody Allen and Zero Mostel, and is credited with other wonderful films such as Paris Blues. He was a teacher and provided lots of illuminating interviews about the blacklist era. The Front is available free on Tubi.

Thinking of The Front reminded me of a 90s TV movie with Kirstie Alley, Write & Wrong (aka And She Was), also on Tubi. She's a once-successful screenwriter trying to make a comeback but hits a wall of ageist attitudes. So she hires her nephew, a glib car salesman, to pitch her stories and get a deal, but he gets too full of himself and screws things up. Finally she has to overcome inner obstacles along with the societal ones to write a successful script and get back in the game. I like that she's a flawed character who needs to redeem herself, though the ageist obstacles are formidable too. There are romance subplots for both Kirstie and her nephew that are fun and add a lot to the story. 

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

Sorry to read you didn't like Das Boot, Derek. That's one of my favorites although I'm not sure if I've seen the full director's cut.

Last night I watched One Deadly Summer which is a TF-1 produced movie from the early 80's set in France. I thought it was good even though it's outside my usual remit of entertainment. Isabelle Adjani puts in an amazing performance. Maybe it's the English subtitles but I found a lot of the behavior and dialogue unrealistic. What I did like was the concept of telling the story from different perspectives in chapters with a V.O to narrate.

Derek Reid's picture
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Joined: Jan 2020

CJ - I checked it online afterwards and I guess there are a number of different versions, including a shorter theatrical one and a TV mini-series that's about 1.5 hours longer than what I saw. Actually, depending on the content added & where the break(s) were put it's possible I may have liked it more that way (w/ different film vs. limited-series perceptions/expectations).

Also based on online reviews I'm lookin' odd rabbit out on this one. lol   

Kaye Koddy's picture
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Joined: Dec 2019

Thanks Elizabeth for drawing my attention to Last Tango in Halifax, it looks wonderful. I'm not on Netflix yet but may subscribe soon. 

You might like Le Week-End. There were some cringey bits and I didn't always find the couple's backstories interesting, but overall it's a very enjoyable watch and Jeff Goldblum's character is a great catalyst for the couple's conflict. 

I watch stuff on Roku a lot and a holiday TV movie with Julie Andrews and James Garner popped up, One Special Night. They're wonderful together and there's a sweet happy ending. I'm partial to "mature" romance stories where nobody has to die just because they're old! 

I also watch a lot of British movies and TV on Roku. I liked the early Doc Martin series though his gruff character started to bug me once he had a child. The Cornwall settings are a big draw, so breezy and restful it feels like I'm on vacation there. I also watched all the episodes of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple last fall and while some were pretty dark they were all compelling. I liked both actresses who played Miss Marple in that series, but I'm always partial to Margaret Rutherford's portrayal of Miss Marple in the 60s films. Fantastic documentary about her life came out recently, Truly Miss Marple, I think it's still up on Tubi.

CJ Walley's picture
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Joined: Jul 2016

Used to love it when Tubi was available via Roku in the UK.

I watched both Zulu and The Witches of Eastwick over the past couple of days.

I was very impressed with Zulu, particularly with the humanity of if all. Seeing noble heroes pushed to their limits and showing them fraying at the edges is so refreshing. The ending got me too.

Mixed feelings on The Witches of Eastwick. It was kinda fun but didn't seem to make a lot of sense. Reading about the trivia has given me even more reasons to dislike George Miller who was once my hero.

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