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samsonlonghair
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by samsonlonghair Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:09 am

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This is going to be hard to review without any spoilers. I’m gonna give it my best shot.

I recently watched...
BAD TIMES at the El Royale

Bad Times at the El Royal is a movie unlike any I have watched in a long time. This film displays masterful cinematography, intriguing acting, and dialogue smoother than ice on a hot day. This isn’t a perfect movie by any means, but it’s a darn interesting.

Bad Times at the El Royal utilizes still camera with a tremendously long depth of field. Pedantic types call this camera technique “Pan Focus”. This allows the audience to take a voyeur’s point of view. We, the audience, stand behind the two-way mirror facing into the motel rooms. We can see everything in the room, and even all the way into the parking lot when the door is open. We watch with anticipation as the characters execute their machinations on screen.

Nobody staying at the El Royal is exactly who they appear to be. That’s as true for the actors as it is for the characters they play. Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, John Hamm, Dakota Johnson and Nick Offerman all step outside their usual typecast roles to play two-faced characters whose true faults are slowly revealed. Relative newcomers Cynthia Erivo, and Cailee Spaeny also deliver fantastic performances as the anima to counterbalance this butch film. This ensemble cast delivers sharp dialogue with a rhythm and meter that feels poetic without losing verisimilitude.

Unfortunately, the El Royale is not without its faults. Plotwise, this film has a very strong first act, maintains most of the momentum in the second act, and then runs off the rails in the third act. Just as the characters of this film come unraveled, so to does the plot. Numerous plot threads either go unresolved or left to the audience’s imagination. A knowledge of late 1960s American history helps here. This film seeks to capture the zeitgeist of the late ‘60s without explanation. If you don’t know about Kennedy’s affairs, the rise and fall of Motown records, and the Manson family, then a few of these plot elements might go over your head. This is one movie that might actually benefit from a creator commentary track, or just some annotations. Suffice to say that the ending of the film is mildly unsatisfying.

I walked out of the theater with mixed feelings. My two companions, on the other hand, did not mix words. My fiancée said to her best friend, “so... that was a pretty bad movie, right?” They were complaining about the movie when they walked into the ladies room, and they were still complaining about the movie a thousand hours later when they finally walked back out of the ladies room. Maybe it’s just the kind of movie that men enjoy more than women do.

I certainly don’t think that Bad Times at the El Royale is a bad movie. There are moments when it even seems like a great movie. BTatER reminds me of a figure skater who performs a triple axel in mid air, but then falters on the landing. If the filmmakers had stuck the landing in the third act, then everyone would be talking about what an amazing triumph they had achieved. Instead, all anyone can recall is that Bad Times at the El Royal didn’t stick the landing.

Verdict: watch Bad Times at the El Royale when is comes out in Blu-ray or DVD so that you can listen to creator commentary. It might be the only way to know what in the hell is going on. :wink:
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by Ack Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:36 pm

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Funland

I watched this movie because it was filmed in Six Flags here in Georgia. Once I started it up, I discovered Jan Hooks of Saturday Night Live fame happened to have a small part in it. Excellent.

An amusement park named Funland is bought out by the mafia, and they decide to make some changes. One of those changes happens to be dwindling the influence of Bruce Burgers, a clown that had a mental breakdown the year before and actually believes he is his character. As the mafia exercises more and more control, the clown goes crazier and crazier, eventually talking to a wax model of Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca and the ghost of his dead boss. Eventually, Bruce decides to take a rifle and assassinate the actor who is replacing him, all part of a plan to take back the amusement park.

Unfortunately, Funland falls apart pretty quick because it's got way too much going on. I was promised a massacre from a crazy clown, but it takes over an hour to get there and lasts all of 5 minutes, with hardly any massacre at all. While Bruce's crazy antics leading up to his attack are entertaining to watch, particularly a bizarre dance number in a cafeteria about the food that is being served, the main mob storyline falls flat. One issue I see is that there are really two main characters here: Bruce and park manager Mike. And then there are repeated scenes focusing on the prima donna actor who is the national image of Bruce Burger and how much he hates children; this guy just isn't relevant. And there's the photographer who flirts constantly as well as a goofy security guard, and...I think you get the idea.

Despite this, Funland has some charm to it, particularly in how it throws gags throughout about whatever it can, be it references to the crap food or a sign saying, "You must be as tall as my balls to go on this ride." It means balls for juggling, but of course that's not how it should be taken. The antics of many of the side characters are entertaining, particularly when they are brief, but they often have almost nothing to do with the plot. Hell, some of them literally never interact with Bruce the clown at all.

Funland. Come for the killer clown. Stay for the irreverence. Realize you're not really going to see much of a killer clown. Go home wondering why the movie poster just had to be so provocative.
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by Ack Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:09 pm

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Paranormal Activity

A douchebag with a video camera decides that because weird things have been happening at night, he should film himself and his girlfriend, follow her around even when she doesn't want him to, antagonize her whenever he can, and in general be a jerk. In the end, he causes his girlfriend to become possessed, probably wakes his neighbors, causes his property value to plummet, and gets himself killed.

There, that's Paranormal Activity.

If ever I invite folks into my home to examine something, and their advice is to recommend a demonologist, I'm contacting them along with a priest, a rabbi, a mullah, and a whole horde of Buddhist monks. Seriously. I will most definitely not go buy a Ouija board and try to talk to 'it.' Why? Because that sounds like a ridiculously stupid idea.

If you can't tell, I don't like this movie. I find the male character Micah to be a supreme idiot and dick and the female character Katie to be a poor woman stuck in a relationship with a moron and being harassed by a demon. I also feel bad for the demon. Demons shouldn't have to put up with jerks like this.

It's also found footage, which is a film style that I've never really been into, so some of my dislike of the film certainly comes from that. But mostly it comes from the fact I just spent 90 minutes listening to an idiot with a camera do his absolute best to make things worse. Katie deserved better, and not just in terms of getting possessed by a demon.
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by Nemoide Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:34 pm

Yeah, I had about the same reaction to Paranormal Activity; I don't know how it became as popular as it did.
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by Ack Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:11 pm

Yeah, one character ruined the whole thing for me.

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Cemetery Without Crosses, AKA Une corde, un Colt..., AKA Cimitero senza croci

There is a small group of us here who enjoy the Spaghetti Western. Well, Cemetery Without Crosses is exactly that: a Western filmed in Spain to stand in for US territory near the northern border of Mexico, from a French director and produced jointly by both French and Italian film companies. The theme song takes its name from the French title. The US title comes from the Italian title. Dario Argento supposedly worked on the script, though director Robert Hossein disputes this. This is the joy of cinema globalism done with an exploitative, on-the-cheap mentality while also telling subversive stories about the uselessness of revenge and the ultimate effects of violence.

The film begins with brothers Ben, Thomas, and Eli running from the Rogers clan because they stole their money, after the Rogers stole their livestock. Ben gets caught and executed by the Rogers, who force his wife Maria to watch. While Thomas and Eli want to flee, Maria travels to a ghost town to find Manuel, a former lover and gunslinger with a thing for wearing one glove on the hand that knocks back the hammer of his revolver when he kills. Manuel tells Maria that revenge is useless because it circles back around and never leads to anything but more violence and revenge. He then wordlessly agrees to help, makes his way into the Rogers gang, and kidnaps their sister. Things don't go well as Maria and Manuel, the Rogers, and Thomas and Eli all play off each other with their own agendas and goals.

This is one of those movies where nobody wins, and that's how we like it. By the end, nearly everyone is dead. The law is useless; it's in the pocket of the Rogers. Women are next to worthless; one potentially raped prostitute seeks revenge on the Rogers, only to have Manual murder them all to ingratiate himself with his enemies to work his way inside. Thomas and Eli rape the Rogers girl, Diana, while she is in Manuel's custody; he walks outside and stares knowingly at Maria, both of whom seem sickened by what Thomas and Eli are doing, yet do nothing to stop it. By the end of the movie, even the innocent Diana will turn to murder, violence, and hate. The landscape is as bleak and empty as the characters' morality; it's a desert, nothing but dirty sand, endless mountains, and scrub brush. More than once I found myself wondering where the wood to build anything came from.

There is a quiet cool to Manuel that I love in this film, and the combination of his curious character, Maria's steel gaze and determination, and the obvious forbidden love they share is what makes the film. They're both doing this for Ben, but there is obviously a history that only comes out in bits and pieces. It's another mystery, but in this barren setting, it's enough.

I liked Cemetery Without Crosses a lot. It's not the best Spaghetti Western, but it is an entertaining one.
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by Michi Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:08 pm

Ack wrote:...I find the male character Micah to be a supreme idiot and dick and the female character Katie to be a poor woman stuck in a relationship with a moron and being harassed by a demon.

YES! Thank you. I'm not alone in my hate for that dumbass. It's like as soon as he found out she was genuinely scared of what was going on, he made it his life's mission to purposefully torment her at every opportunity. The continued lack of respect was just.... staggering. If you ask me, the demon saved her ass by killing the jerk and getting her away from him.

And if you didn't like Micah, I suggest you don't watch the second film either. The male character there is only marginally better than him, but that doesn't keep him from also qualifying as a Grade-A asshole.
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by prfsnl_gmr Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:46 pm

I need to update the October horror thread...but the last movie we watched was The Strangers. It was OK, but ruined by the completely unlikable main characters. The male lead was an annoying, ineffectual dude-bro, and the female lead was completely helpless. We agreed that the killers - who we were rooting for by the end - weren’t actually dangerous. It is just that their victims were so inept...
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by noiseredux Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:51 pm

I was too busy to keep up posts in the Oct thread but I watched like 3 of those Paranormal Activity movies because they were on ... They are all so boring and stupid.
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by Michi Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:03 pm

I watched the first 3 via Pluto TV a couple months ago. They were....alright. The first one just made me want to kill the male lead myself (Like, seriously, I shouldn't have to root for the evil demon, ya'll.) The second one had the best jump scare, but was more of the same. And by the time you get to the third everything is just so predictable that it's not even marginally fun anymore.
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Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

by Ack Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:15 pm

I have a theory about Paranormal Activity 2, and that is that the pool cleaning robot is the demon. It escapes every day from the pool, it runs for abnormal hours, and it knows its prey because they are constantly putting it back in its watery prison.

Makes for a much better movie.
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