What DVD have you just watched?

The Cloverfield Paradox: Streamed via Netflix.

After enjoying 10 Cloverfield Lane I thought I would follow on with the latest Cloverfield instalment. A hyped straight to streaming release does not bode well! There are some interesting ideas being explored and the cast try their hardest, but it just doesn’t quite mesh together. But, I enjoyed it for what it was, I suppose. Recommended for Sci-Fi completists only.

Operation Crossbow.  

I had a conversation a few years ago with a friend about good war films and remembered this one, but for some reason it has been quite hard to find in the UK.  Anyway, for my 50th he found me a copy, so watched it a few days ago.  I think I first saw this many years ago, so didn't know what to expect.  What I found was actually quite a strong and enjoyable film. While definitely not reaching the heights of something like Where Eagles Dare or The Train, or even Von Ryan's Express, it's still good watch. Sophia Loren is as easy on the eye as ever and it's nice to see the actors speaking German too. The transfer to DVD is a much better than I expected from a PAL All Regions release - shown in Anamorphic 2.35:1 ratio, it looked pretty good.

Les Affamés (Ravenous): Streamed via Netflix. 

An interesting take on the ubiquitous Zombie movie. Genuinely unsettling as the world portrayed is believable. Gallows humour occasionally lightens the tone, but its hard going in places. Reinforced by the eery still landscape shots - one person standing still in a field has never looked so menacing. The calm balanced with intense scenes which are not for the squeamish. In overall tone its much more in keeping with the original Night of the Living Dead than the comedic Evil Dead2 etc - or even recent Zombie movies themes. Plus a few jump scares that caught me (and a glass of red wine) out! Recommended only for nihilistic genre fans.

Browsing my DVDs last night, fancying watching a movie, I selected this. I don't think I've watched again since I first bought it years ago and my memory was it was just 'okay'.  So I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it this time round.  Some violent and depressing scenes, depicting the chaos of Sierra Leone, but the story moves along at a brisk pace and the characters are interesting.    

MDS posted:

Browsing my DVDs last night, fancying watching a movie, I selected this. I don't think I've watched again since I first bought it years ago and my memory was it was just 'okay'.  So I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it this time round.  Some violent and depressing scenes, depicting the chaos of Sierra Leone, but the story moves along at a brisk pace and the characters are interesting.    

The 15 seconds when they showed the regal Rodegian Ridgeback dog made it worth watching for me. We miss our departed one dearly.

I think Kevin-W posted about this recently having seen at the cinema.  A while since I've watched and I'm now reminded how stylish it is.  The attention to detail is very impressive and I'm sure more reveals itself on further viewings. Gilliam is a talent, for sure.  

Three Billboards ....

A very 'Coen Brothers-esque' movie (in a positive sense), though not a Coen Brothers movie. Quality acting throughout, albeit a rather derivative role for Francis McDormand. Strikes at all the "redneckiness" the rural American south has to offer, but in the end manages to portray some humanity in those characters. I was left wanting by what I found to be an abrupt ending, but it had me thinking - something a provoking movie ought to do.

Director Martin McDonagh also did the film In Bruges  which I found to be equally good. A worthy watch.

A brilliant, stylish noir mystery from a time when Hollywood still made pictures for adults (1944).

The script is crackling with great lines, it's shot in luminous black and white by Joseph LaShelle, Otto Preminger directs with admirable economy (the movie is just 84 minutes long, and not a second is wasted), and it's perfectly cast: Gene Tierney, one of the great beauties of the age, takes the title role; a young Vincent Price is the parasitic, shifty fiancée; Dana Andrews is the harboiled detective with an unnatural interest in the case; and Clifton Webb is just magnificent as the waspish, effete newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker.

Like so many of Preminger's films, it's a cynical satire - in this case, on notions of power, class, betterment and the pursuit of money and social status. Well worth your time.

I saw that it was on TV Tony, and being disappointed to have missed it, I decided to get the DVD (hadn't seen the movie since the mid 1980s, when I was a student).

Fantastic picture, they don't make 'em like that any more, sadly. And Gene Tierney was a real stunner, wasn't she?

Annihilation: Streamed via Netflix: 

Outside of the US a straight to streaming release, but don’t let that be an influence. Paramount got cold feet, interpreting it as being “too intellectual” for general movie audiences. Good grief.

From the (stunning) panoramic shots, it is clearly evident the movie was design for the big screen. If you saw it at the cinema - I’m envious! Anyway, seeing it on the small-ish plasma TV & surround sound - in a blacked out room was as good as could be hoped for, and certainly hasn’t diminished my enthusiasm.

I thought it ambitious, intelligent and thought provoking Sci-Fi filmmaking by Alex Garland (although a little raw in places). First Ex Machina and now Annihilation, not to mention screenwriting Dredd, 28 Weeks Later and writing Sunshine. I’m certainly really looking forward to what he does next. Highly recommended.

By far the best thing of 2307: Winter’s Dream is its poster. The film is a sci-fi thriller, about a director with the means to slow down time to a crawl, while an inept squad of soldiers tracks a group of honourable mutants and native Arizonians in search of a decent plot, through a frozen post nuclear desert, called ‘the dead zone’, where the effects of 300 years of -60 degrees cold has a different effect on anyone or anything. 

Acting is terrible across the board, but all this could have made for an entertainingly bad experience, were it not for the male lead who confuses complexity with lethargy.

cheers,

EJ

 

Has there been a greater American film-maker than Orson Welles? It's difficult to think of  one.

Kubrick? Too obsessed with technical detail, meaning that his films after 1962's Dr Strangelove - with the exception of the breathtaking Barry Lyndon - are empty spectacles, devoid of human life and any semblance of humour or insight. Hawks? Master craftsman and storyteller, but not a cinematic innovator. The same applies to Wilder. Griffifth? An innovator certainly, but his Victorian melodramas have not aged well, and his Birth of A Nation is marred by a racist and turgid second half. De Mille? A great showman with a tabloid journalist's feel for what the public wanted, but it's his silents that really count, not the ponderous sound epics of his later years. Spielberg? Maybe, he has the popular touch, and Jaws and Duel are masterly examples of the film-maker's craft, and Jurassic Park and Schindler's List are populist blockbuster film-making at its best, but too much of his work is treacly and conservative.

There can be few better films made in the past half-century than Malick's Days of Heaven and Badlands but his record thereafter has been spotty, even if his pictures are always worth making a detour for. Scorsese, Penn and Altman  too. Coppola is close, and The Godfather films, along with The Conversation and Apocalypse Now are unimpeachable masterpieces but often his work is flawed, and his battles with the moneymen have left him creatively exhausted these past 30 years. Cassavetes and Cronenberg are too quirky, Lynch too erratic. Tarantino is perhaps a triumph of style over substance. Ford, Stone, Wise, Wyler and Capra are overrated. Manciewiwcz was a brilliant writer more than a director.

There are arguments to be made for Cukor, Huston, Sturges, Minnelli and others working in the Golden Era. But many of the other greats of that time - Von Stroheim, Von Sternberg, Preminger, Borzage, Hitchcock, Lang, Murnau, Lubitsch, Mamoulian - were born outside America and started their careers long before Hollywood came calling.

So it boils down to Welles. like Coppola, his battles with bankers and studios meant that many of his projects were unrealised, or emerged less than fully-formed. But consider the films he did make - Citizen Kane, F For Fake, Journey Into Fear, Lady From Shanghai, Touch of Evil, Chimes At Midnight, The Trial, Othello, Macbeth... that's a pretty good record.

Here's his second film, his 1942 adaption of Booth Tarkington's novel about a proud midwestern family bought low by the rise of the automobile age. It's almost as good as the more famous, more acclaimed Kane. It might even have been better, but we'll never know. The picture fell behind schedule and went way over budget, and RKO seized control. Welles' orginal cut was two and a half hours, the studio cut it to 90 minutes, created a happy ending and in an act of philistine vandalism and petty vindictiveness, destroyed the excised footage (this was not without precedent - in 1924 Irving Thalberg of what would soon become MGM ordered Erich Von Stroheim to cut his film Greed from nine hours to something more manageable. Von managed to get it down to 462 minutes, but Thalberg gave it to the studio hacks and it was cut to just 88, with most of the footage destroyed).

But the version that remains to us is majestic. The ensemble cast - Joe Cotten, Anne Baxter, Agnes Moorehead, Dolores Costello, Erskine Sanford - is superb; Bernard Hermann's (butchered) score is wonderful, as is Stanley Cortez's cinematography. But it's Welles' film, his mobile camera and gift for cinematic narrative dominates.

For anyone who's interested, have a look at the opening scene below. It owes a lot to a scene in a film by Jean Renoir's (Welles' favourite director) La Crime de M. Lange. It's masterful storytelling - the kind of narrative that only the movies can create.

Kevin-W posted:

Has there been a greater American film-maker than Orson Welles?

I can't say definitively because I haven't seen many of Welles' films. As for great American film-makers for which I've seen a large body of their work Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and Quentin Tarantino come immediately to mind for me. Different era though.

Yetizone posted:

Annihilation: Streamed via Netflix: 

Outside of the US a straight to streaming release, but don’t let that be an influence. Paramount got cold feet, interpreting it as being “too intellectual” for general movie audiences. Good grief.

From the (stunning) panoramic shots, it is clearly evident the movie was design for the big screen. If you saw it at the cinema - I’m envious! Anyway, seeing it on the small-ish plasma TV & surround sound - in a blacked out room was as good as could be hoped for, and certainly hasn’t diminished my enthusiasm.

I thought it ambitious, intelligent and thought provoking Sci-Fi filmmaking by Alex Garland (although a little raw in places). First Ex Machina and now Annihilation, not to mention screenwriting Dredd, 28 Weeks Later and writing Sunshine. I’m certainly really looking forward to what he does next. Highly recommended.

I read the book around a year ago as it was a free download on ibooks and thoroughly enjoyed it, hope they kept the tension in the film. It’s a shame there was no cinema release, I’m going to have to risk a netflix subscription now if I wan’t to see it.

Sabrina (1954)


To borrow a device used in this film, it is a souffle, any slight mis-step and what is a wonderful tour-de-force of romantic comedies would collapse; as demonstrated by the Harrison Ford 1995 re-make. Looking at the protagonists, and this is a film with no antagonists:

Sabrina
Without careful writing Sabrina could easily be seen as a gold digging femme fatale. This was cleverly avoided by opening the film before she goes to Paris, and having Hepburn play her as younger than her actual age. This was strongly aided by having her father played by a well spoken Englishman, we have the immediate impression of a young girl bought up by a loving, and moral, father fighting to give his daughter a path forward, and separate her from her youthful infatuation with the younger son of the family he serves.

David
Could easily have been seen as a self absorbed Lothario with no empathetic human qualities. His pointed unawareness of Sabrina's uncritical love and general good natured and uncritical attitude towards the world around him helps disarm and distract from his obvious personality flaws.

Linus
The older first son. A man absorbed by the family business and with no time for life. His persuit of Sabrina in order to distract her from David, but with NO personal agenda prevents a moralistic judgement that might be levied. The true genius here was in the casting, Humphrey Bogart; a true star, but no matinee leading man. This helps sell his initial disinterest, and sow a sympathy to his character as the story progresses. This is underlined later in the film where Sabrina finds the steam ship tickets in her and Linus's names, rather than dissemble he is strictly truthful, much to his personal discomfort. Here the script writers make an excellent choice by have Hepburn turn in upon herself and quietly, and intelligently, acknowledge the logic of the situation, whilst internally curling up in pain.

The Plot
A young woman in love with David,the monied younger son of her father's employer, goes to Paris to complete her cooking education, and learns much else. On her return the engaged David falls in love with Sabrina, threatening David's marriage and therefore a business merger that hangs thereon; enter Linus to remove the Sabrina shaped blockage and get the family business back on track.

Direction
Billy Wilder shows some nice touches, as well as perhaps one glimpse at genius. As a romantic comedy this is not a film upon which too heavy a framework can be placed and for the most part the direction is professional. One nice touch was the dance upon Sabrina's return. The choreography of the guests and principals during this extended scene is wonderful, including a superb moment where David and Sabrina swirl in front of the disapproving Linus and his parents.

The moment that borders on genius is the scene where Sabrina, having been told of Linus's plans leaves him in his office. Wilder chooses to use a very deep field of focus as she walks towards the camera, departing stage left, whilst Linus is left standing solitary behind his desk. This is so reminiscent of the ending John Ford shot from The Searchers, and pre-dates it by two years.


Cinematography
Being black and white Wilder has the opportunity to paint in the most cinematographic of pallets, and does so wisely with restraint, pulling no punches as the emotions ramp up as Sabrina attempts to separate herself from Linus's increasing grip on her emotional cords.

Final Act
This is where the film delivers its satisfactory denouement, and distracts us from the protagonists many personality defects. The unknowingly love struck Linus attempts to give Sabrina what he thinks she most wants, David; at much personal and business cost. The consistently inconstant David allows a few Sabrina tears to dissolve his infatuation, and returns to the fiancee for whom he never had true feelings in the first place. But, in doing so he engineers an epiphany in Linus, aiding our ability to like and forgive him.

There are so many potential pitfalls in the gloriously light film that to have pulled off a romantic film the eclipses 99.5% of what proceeded and followed it shows more than a touch of genius in itself.

If you have never watched this film do yourself a favour, if you haven't seen it for a while remind yourself of its many glorious facets.

It is the year 2005, and there is a new evil force in the universe: a monster planet that devours everything in its path...

Guity pleasure: a glorified commercial for the new ‘86 toy line in 4:3 aspect ratio, I think this remains the best transformers film ever made. And, it was my introduction to Orson Welles, who voiced Unicron.

cheers

EJ

Justice League (spoilers)

Not bad, better than Batman vs Superman, but in their attempt to address audience concerns and go for the common denominator, Warner has stripped away all individuality and turned it into an Avengers clone. I thought Bruce's 'Dark Superman' nightmare in BvS was that film's strongest asset and looked forward to it becoming a reality in upcoming DCU movies, but almost nothing of those ideas seem to have survived. Superman's death in BvS turned out to be nothing more than a plot device (world has lost hope), and his resurrection did show his dark side - for about 10 seconds. Combine with an unthreatening villain and weak characterization of all main characters, and the result is a glossy, enjoyable but forgettable action movie and a disappointment given its rich source material and promise.

But, Sigrid's cover of Everybody Knows and the accompanying visuals at the beginning of the movie almost makes up for all of this. Zack Snyder at his best (at least, I assume this was still Zack's work).

Cheers

EJ

The Shape of Water

6/10. Didn't really buy into the mix of love story and critique of white straight men's racism and exclusivity. Sally Hawkins was lovely, and her crush with Definitely-Not-Abe-Sapien was the best part of the movie. But the way Jenkins' character was written, I found it hard to sympathize with him, and missed a counterpoint to the way he is treated. 

 

Cheers

EJ

American Made.



I was looking forward to watching this, and so with my new Cinema Paradiso subscription paid up, this was near the top of my wish list, and they duly delivered a few days ago.

What to make of it..?  Overall, entertaining enough, but ultimately a disappointment. Nothing seemed completely developed.  Almost as though they wanted to make a longer film but had to cut it down to the bare bone in the edit room.  Tom Cruise does the charming good/bad guy routine to a tee, and that's about the best you get.  Worth seeing once, but probably not one you'll be returning to for new hidden depths and previously missed subtle nuances.

On a Sony 43" the DVD picture was good, with an aspect ration of 1.85:1

I know this has been around for a while and I've caught excepts from it from time to time while channel hopping but this is my first time watching it from beginning to end.  I wasn't really expecting much as I'm not a Marvel comic fan but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this. The opening scene was unexpectedly heart-rending and then movie moved along at a cracking pace. I found each of the characters interesting and the script delightfully witty, even if the underlying plot was fairly predictable. The effects, elaborate sets and costumes were very well done. And, of course, the sound track with a liberal sprinkling of classics was lovely.   I'll definitely look out the sequel.    

MDS posted:

I know this has been around for a while and I've caught excepts from it from time to time while channel hopping but this is my first time watching it from beginning to end.  I wasn't really expecting much as I'm not a Marvel comic fan but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this. The opening scene was unexpectedly heart-rending and then movie moved along at a cracking pace. I found each of the characters interesting and the script delightfully witty, even if the underlying plot was fairly predictable. The effects, elaborate sets and costumes were very well done. And, of course, the sound track with a liberal sprinkling of classics was lovely.   I'll definitely look out the sequel.    

The best Marvel film by far. Really amusing, with interesting characters.Great soundtrack, I bought it on vinyl.

tonym posted:
MDS posted:

I know this has been around for a while and I've caught excepts from it from time to time while channel hopping but this is my first time watching it from beginning to end.  I wasn't really expecting much as I'm not a Marvel comic fan but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this. The opening scene was unexpectedly heart-rending and then movie moved along at a cracking pace. I found each of the characters interesting and the script delightfully witty, even if the underlying plot was fairly predictable. The effects, elaborate sets and costumes were very well done. And, of course, the sound track with a liberal sprinkling of classics was lovely.   I'll definitely look out the sequel.    

The best Marvel film by far. Really amusing, with interesting characters.Great soundtrack, I bought it on vinyl.

I'd be really interested in knowing how Bradley Cooper squeezes into that Raccoon outfit though, Tony. 

tonym posted:

The best Marvel film by far. Really amusing, with interesting characters.Great soundtrack, I bought it on vinyl.

That's contentious! Certainly very enjoyable, with an excellent emotional punch at the end ........damn, you just MIGHT be right - have to think about it. Certainly loved that ending, but disliked Pacman, and I think it was rightly criticised for excess profanity.

OK .....I'll watch it again later ........JUST for you.

I am SUCH a martyr!

M

Paddington 2: Streamed via Apple TV.

Well what a superb way to spend a wet Easter school holiday afternoon. Better than the first movie which was a real surprise as to how good it was. Just the right balance of whimsy and humour throughout. The cast are excellent (as per the first movie), but its Hugh Grant who shines the most - his mischievous portrayal of ham actor Phoenix Buchanan is one of the best comedic performances I’ve seen in a while. Highly recommended for adults and children alike - and tame bears too.

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