GrooveRemote's comments

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GrooveRemote

Jesus, what am I doing with my life? Why did I sit through this movie? Oh, sure, the best gag did come in the last 20 minutes, but it was not worth all of that pain.

The way I would describe this movie is as a turd with corn in it. There are a few bits of promise that haven't been whittled away by the digestive system that is whatever satanic writers' room plotted this monstrosity. Neil Patrick Harris is fun, and Rob Corddry has some enjoyable moments, but it's 95% unbearable shit. It's the same milquetoast story seen in every other crappy comedy (Wayne's World, but without the likable characters and humour). Most of the gags are sex or bodily function-related, and while those things can be used for good jokes, sex and bodily functions on their own just aren't funny. The other jokes are mostly just bad. JohnnyDavidson put it best when describing them as akin to those of a bad sketch comedy show.

It's a disaster of biblical proportions and I want it wiped from my mind or from history. Either one works.
1 day 16 hours ago
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GrooveRemote

Did people choose Una O'Connor for roles because they wanted someone infuriating? Was she considered an amenity for her ability to irritate? Was she the mistress of a studio head? How is she in so many great movies, ruining them to some small degree? (I suppose she was fine in Robin Hood.) And why in the world would Claude Rains ever agree to collaborate with her more than once? Was she a likable person in real life? Were they just friends? I have a hard time believing that anyone would befriend her. She just can't be that irritating in real life. She wouldn't get work. But was her acting never thought of as crossing the line, where an annoying character becomes too annoying to stand?

Oh, right, the movie. Revolutionary special effects. I mean, WOW! Not only the invisibility effects, but the miniatures. They hold up astonishingly well, given it's an 85-year-old movie. I do wish they photographed the miniatures a little more interestingly, but you do have the limits of not getting so close that it ruins the illusion that people are inside the vehicles. The story is interesting enough, even though it's hard to get behind such a prick of a protagonist. That aside, it's quite a good sci-fi movie, and good for a few chuckles (intentional ones, at that).

Isn't anyone worried they're gonna touch Claude Rains' junk?
3 days 16 hours ago
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GrooveRemote

1931's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is perhaps the most recognized adaptation of R.L.S.'s classic novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (And, no, I don't mean R.L. Stine.) This film is often compared to the 1941 adaptation, which gets a lot of things right that this version does not, and vice versa. When putting aside the source material and other adaptations, this rendition is a fairly good one. It has its ups and downs, and the complete package is one I would say succeeds where it matters most.

This movie likely owes its reputation, by and large, to Frederic March. The underappreciated actor delivers a deft portrayal of Dr. Henry Jekyll, a man conflicted by his dedication to science and to the woman he loves (and common decency). He rarely overacts, and as a result the performance is a winner by the standards of any era. The trouble is that he's just not that good a Hyde. March really cheeses up the joint, which wouldn't be such an issue if it wasn't at such a sharp contrast with his measured and carefully crafted Jekyll. It doesn't help that the makeup is goofy as all hell (which is an issue I have with a lot of Jekyll-Hyde adaptations). He looks like an albino chimp with slightly worse teeth than your typical chimp. All of these factors render the Hyde scenes ultimately ineffectual, which is such a shame when Jekyll's scenes are so powerful.

The cinematography in this film is immaculate. It features such sharp and memorable angles and shadows, and the lack of recognition given to the film for some very interesting techniques is appalling. I found that, given my sensibilities, the cinematography really became the star of the show. Even when Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was dull, it looked good, which is something many films cannot boast. Granted, those dull spells were frequent, but you win some, you lose some.
4 days 17 hours ago
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GrooveRemote

David Cronenberg's Videodrome is a unique and insightful horror/thriller/satire that makes still-relevant points about technology and how it affects out society, and has obviously made an impact on many (as evidenced by these comments). It creates memorable visuals using very impressive practical effects.

And I hate it with a passion.

Before I explain why, I want to say that I have to intent to attack or insult anyone else. I hope you love this movie. My thoughts on now "intelligent" this film is have nothing to do with my thoughts on anyone, including David Cronenberg. I love The Dead Zone, and I think he's a very talented guy.

Anyway, all aboard the hate train!

So, my problem with this movie is layered. I have to peel apart the layers one by one to really express my frustration with this... this thing. First of all, the film is listed here under action, sci-fi and horror. While it's certainly horrific, and has some cool sci-fi ideas, calling this movie an action movie is an affront to the idea of excitement. It is one of the most sleep-inducing movies I have seen. A lack of surface tension is not necessarily a deal-breaker, especially when 2001: A Space Odyssey is so acclaimed, despite not having much of a plot at all. What that film did have is incredible artistry. 2001 is striking and iconic for good reason, with its incredible set designs and costumes, its impeccable cinematography, and its simple yet memorable characters. Videodrome has nothing on its surface to latch onto. The characters are boring and plain, even with a strong performance from James Woods. The story has potential to be interesting, but there has to be more going on. The first two acts are a series of events ranging from mildly interesting to watching paint dry. Even when something tense does happen, there's no tension, because you just do not care about anythign happening. It fails to build any characters in the first two acts, resulting in total indifference when shit hits the fan. It makes an attempt to tow the line between theme-driven and plot-driven, which just does not work. You have to favour one, otherwise both end up underdeveloped.

The themes are certainly handled better than the plot. Videodrome, as mentioned, has a lot of interesting things to say about technology. And that's something I found frustrating. The whole thing feels like a self-assured sermon. It's not asking any questions about society; it's telling you that society is a shithole and you're a TV-loving zombie. It beats the viewer over the head so hard that it's difficult to really listen to what's being said. If Cronenberg had eased up a smidgen on the preaching, I think it would be so much more interesting than it end up being. But as of now, in my opinion, its insights are lost in a sea of pretension and smugness.

I know I have a relatively unpopular opinion, and I really did want to like this movie. I had high hopes for the first 10 minutes, but it just didn't elevate that base level of tension, and just left a bad taste in my mouth. Just watch RoboCop if you want a good media satire. Or any number of Simpsons episodes. I guess it had some cool ideas and visuals.
1 week 2 days ago
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GrooveRemote

Wow. That was something.

First of all, this is a really good movie. It's usually mentioned in the context of disturbing movies, but it really runs the gamut. It's disturbing first and foremost, but it can be oddly touching, and darkly comedic. Michael Rooker is a horrifying villain, tortured romantic, and straight man all in the same movie, and he pulls it off incredibly well. Henry is a truly great character, and that is owed mostly to Rooker's performance. Now, I don't want to discredit Tom Towles and Tracy Arnold, because they're also splendid. It's a real performance movie, as the direction is very subdued. It certainly goes for a natural style, which I found very effective in putting you in the same room as the characters.

Now, maybe some of you are wondering why I called this movie "comedic." It is in the same way Lolita is comedic. You have these horrible, disgusting people who perpetrate unforgivable crimes throughout the movie, and then you see them bickering over a VHS camcorder. The horrendous nature of their other actions just seemed to heighten the understated hilarity of their everyday interactions. And comedic scenes also amplify the shear torment of some of the rougher scenes. Most of the murders are nothing you haven't seen in any violent movie, but I think anyone who has seen this movie knows that one scene that made me pause the movie for a minute. That one scene is the perfect example of what makes this movie great. You experience absolute torture watching them commit atrocities, and then they go on with their day as if nothing happened. It's a perfect melding of themes and story.

Of course, no movie is perfect, and if I have one gripe with Portrait, it's the score. It's cheesy and melodramatic, and sounds like the music you'd hear in, like seithscott said, a TV movie. It would've been so much stronger with no music. Just absolute cold.

That complaint aside, it's a truly phenomenal movie that is certainly not for the young'uns. Hell, it's probably not for most adults. But for a sick fspoiler like me, it's like a rollercoaster: it's a good time that also makes you feel like throwing up.

What a way to start a month of horror.
1 week 6 days ago
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GrooveRemote

Linking The Pirate Bay? You're a bold kid, Jerry.
3 weeks 2 days ago
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GrooveRemote

Perhaps the most pretentious list on iCheckMovies. There are other candidates, but I think this is the king.
4 weeks ago
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GrooveRemote

It's so well done, but I couldn't bring myself to like it given the way it ended. Beyond being honestly somwhat bored throughout most of it (as others have mentioned, it's pretty cliched), the ending gives out all the wrong vibes. spoiler So, yeah, thouroughly disquieting. And please keep in mind that I just saw it. I may soften up on it with time. As of now, it made me feel sick after the one scene I shouldn't have.

Just remember, kids, don't just push yourself, do it so hard you get into a car accident!
1 month 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

I don't think this movie could ever be executed better than it was here. Because, really, it's just following two young sisters around for a few days. And, yet, it's exceptionally whimsical and enchanting.

I should first clarify that I watched the English dub. I tried the original audio, didn't like it. Nothing personal.

My Neighbor Totoro is a movie that has a magnificent feeling of honesty. It's the purest distillation of childhood you'll find contained within an hour and a half. It's a portal back to childhood, and one laded with faces that, although they're probably quite different from what you or I remember, feel familiar nonetheless. And you feel as though the people who made the movie feel that wonder, too, as exemplified by the imaginative ideas.

It goes perhaps without saying that the movie is gorgeous. It seems to have a much larger budget than another of that year's Ghibli features, Grave of the Fireflies. All of the delicate details caught my eye and gave me a greater appreciation for the dedication on display.

Which is why it pains me to say that as a whole, it didn't do a whole lot for me. I see why it's so meaningful and extraordinary for so many, but I couldn't find myself getting so sucked in that I didn't notice the lack of plot. Now, not every movie needs much of a plot, as long as it keeps the viewer invested, but there were a couple periods of boredom for me. There's a stretch of time from about the twenty-minute mark to the thirty-minute mark that had be wondering why it was so beloved, though each act did get better and better. When the supernatural elements are so transfixing, the real world can be a slog. Please don't think I'm a boring stick-in-the-mud. I tried to be mystified, but it just didn't connect beyond a surface level.

And that's why I say Miyazaki and his team did better than anyone else could have. They took the bare-bones idea of kids playing, and made it a pretty solid movie. It's not my speed, but it's good-quality, and well worth a recommendation.
1 month 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

While A Man for All Seasons is a fine movie in its own right, I think it is most interesting for the comparisons one might draw between it and the Academy at the time of its release, and subsequent victory at the Oscars in the field of Best Picture.

It follows Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, and his complete and utter faith in God. He's a man so faithful that spoiler to uphold the principles of his religion (is that a spoiler? It's all there in the history books). It's not a terribly deep or complex movie, but one inhabited by a cast of distinguished characters. John Hurt's Richard Rich is the only main character that I would say feels flat, but the rest all feel as though they really were the figure they portray, but with an added level of intimacy. I would single out Robert Shaw's Henry VIII and Paul Scofield's Sir Thomas More as the biggest highlights, but it wouldn't be fair not to call out Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Nigel Davenport and Orson Welles, who also do wonders with their screen time (which isn't much for Welles and Davenport).

While that's all well and good, I couldn't help thinking about the aforementioned similarities between this and the Academy. In the '60s, Hollywood musicals started to die out, and counterculture and cynicism were emerging (movies like Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider are examples of mainstream success). The Academy, in my mind, are a symbol of old-fashionedness, and their continuous refusal to budge reminded me quite a lot of More in this film. Sure, some New Wave movies broke through the glass ceiling in the following years, but did Patton not beat MASH? Maybe I'm grasping at straws, but I think there are real similarities that may have subconsciously manifested in votes for this particular film. Then again, maybe I'm talking out my ass.

That aside, it's a very strong movie that is unfairly forgotten. 4 out of 5 obese Orson Welleses.
1 month 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

I have to confess, I'm on the fence with this movie. It's entertaining and probably more intelligent than either of the first two (not saying much), but it's also a lot of the same, done less well than the first movie. The villains are, like the first movie, political statement villains. And, while Scorpio is a silly vilification of hippies, he was at least threatening. We spend so little time with these villains (who are radicals, by the way) that the few scenes they do have are relatively ineffectual.

What we do get in the place of a good foe is a new friend, Tyne Daly's plucky, young cop; Harry Callahan's new partner. She's got a very likeable nervousness about her that transforms into confidence as the minutes go by. She's got a great rapport with Callahan, though he, himself, is not as strong a character as we once had. He's too softened, too friendly. While it's really a good thing to have him change over time, I'm not sure we really get any reason why. It has the feeling of pandering as opposed to growth. Callahan has been castrated by Eastwood's desire to make a marketable movie, not realizing that his gruffness was the appeal all along. I think if they really wanted to have Harry grow, make him more grizzled with each film. Wouldn't you get crankier if bureaucracy kept rehiring and refiring you (speaking of which, I really don't give a damn about "plot holes," but Callahan basically starting at the same place in every movie regardless of what happened in the last is quite frustrating).

I think something that really benefits this entry into the pentalogy is a return to simple messages. The first film is by no means an intellectual movie. It's a very basic "cops should be allowed to brutalize criminals" message (admit it, that's basically what they're saying. They simplify the issue to the degree that there's not much else that could be said), but it's effective and doesn't waste too much time on preaching. Magnum Force is a total mess of hypocrisy that tries to address the complaints about the first film without understanding them. The Enforcer returns to the series' origins and spins a yarn that's surprisingly progressive, given what's come before. The idea that a person should be given a job based on merit, not social awareness, is apt today perhaps more than ever. But on the other hand you have this female cop that proves she has a place on the force (spoiler). Harry's resistance to her appointment could have been more impactful if he was more rough around the edges, but there goes Eastwood making Harry as commercial as possible.

There really isn't much else to say. The action is good, the Black Panther parallels are a fun idea, and the score is groovy as hell. It's a mixed bag that I think ends up winning you over (as evidenced by the passage of time displayed in my review). If you like '70s movies, it's that tenfold.
1 month 2 weeks ago
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GrooveRemote

Born on the Fourth of July is an Oliver Stone movie perhaps more geared towards those who don't like Oliver Stone movies (like myself). It has all of his usual preachy elements, but they're much more toned down here than in any of his subsequent movies (that I've seen).

Tom Cruise is, as usual, not a bad actor at all. It really shows that his earliest roles weren't all Mission: Implossibles and The Mummys. He was a legitimate actor for a while, and one could say that he's quite a good one. He actually puts some of the actors around him here to shame. Caroline Kava, the actress who portrays his bible-thumping catholic mother, appears somewhat amateur in comparison. Never upstaged, though, is Willem Dafoe. He forges what is perhaps the film's most memorable character in very few scenes, but I suppose I almost expect that from Dafoe at this point. The war scenes themselves are different from those I've seen in any other Vietnam movie. They have an exclusively warm colour palette, but feel very cold and uninviting nevertheless. No matter how I feel about his attitudes and writing in general, Stone is certainly capable of greatness.

But, he consistently falls prey to the same negative tendencies. While there are some breathtakingly powerful scenes here, there are also some that could feel much more natural if Stone didn't stick his oppressive morals in there. Yeah, I get it, you don't like the catholic church. I appreciate a filmmaker that weaves subtle themes into a narrative, not so much one that assaults you with how they want you to feel about X or Y. Not to mention the ham-handed foreshadowing. Yeah, I get it, he's raised in an innocent, patriotic time and he's going to become jaded. You don't need to spell it out for me.

Other than that, Born also doesn't separate itself enough from better Vietnam movies to really stand out. Not much of the ground trodden here hasn't been done better by Cimino, Coppola or Kubrick, and in a style that's generally more interesting. In that sense, I think I like JFK more even though I enjoyed it less. It imprinted on me more than Born did, and I watched Born two days ago. But, it's still a decent movie. It's an all-together OK experience, with some really great scenes, and not a whole lot else.
1 month 3 weeks ago
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GrooveRemote

The movie is years, perhaps decades ahead of its time. Watch a bunch of movies from the same time period and compare, it's like comparing a diamond to sea shells. Pay close attention to the lighting and especially the camerawork. It's all things we have come to know and love now but this is 5+ years ago. I agree with another commenter that no movie could ever really be the "greatest" of all time, cinema is far too varied for that. The vast majority of people who call it "bad" most likely saw this movie as #1 in a few lists and then watched it as one of their first old movies they've ever watched, (once again, it's 7 years old for Pete's sake.) If you are strictly a contemporary movie watcher it's understandable it won't be your thing. A taste for classic movies is a quality obtained over time and study of classic films.

I can't claim it to absolutely positively be the best of all time. It is, however, one of the most meticulously and well crafted movies ever made, without question. Adam Sandler strikes an imposing character who is impossible to take your eyes off of. The movie begins brilliantly and over the course of the film we find that, like advertisements, reality is far different and infinitely more complicated than the Dunkaccinos.
1 month 3 weeks ago
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GrooveRemote

Dis movie bad. No watch.
1 month 3 weeks ago
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GrooveRemote

His racism is killing me.
2 months 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

It's a very simple and somewhat charming cartoon that pales in comparison to the Disney shorts. The animation is decent for something so obviously cheaply-made, but the voice acting is grating and the physics are nonexistent (one thing Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies always did right was establishing cartoon rules and following them. There aren't any stakes if things just happen because they need to, like the balloon just stopping at the hive). The only explanation I can fathom as to this cartoon's popularity is nostalgia for Russian kids. iCM does appear to have an active Russian user base. If there's anything I can say for it, it's that the translation linked here is terribly translated, and adds a lot of enjoyment to what would be a rather flaccid experience.
2 months 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

A very odd movie. Every Which Way But Loose is a story of... well, it's more like an assortment of scenes that all have something to do with one another, but they're not strung together in a very compelling way. Clint Eastwood stars as a fighter/truck driver that follows a country singer to her home in Denver, along with his pet orangutan and his friend Orville (whose mother features heavily in the movie, and is easily the best part, despite not bearing any importance to the plot and being almost totally independent of the other characters), whilst himself being chased by Nazi bikers and a vengeful cop. In short, once again, it's a very odd movie, especially for one that made about twenty-one times its $5-million budget.

Clint was the wrong choice for the title role. While his usual aloof demeanor is befitting of the solemn Philo, he doesn't have any air of a country boy. He just seems like The Man With No Name in a wife beater. Ruth Gordon is hilarious, as is expected of an actress of her calibre. Sondra Locke does quite well, even though her scenes clash pretty harshly with the rest of the movie. And I think that may be where it loses me the most. While there are some very fun scenes, they're all so different from each other. You have the bonkers action with the bikers, heartfelt drama with Sondra Locke's character, Philo's poorly-shot fistfights (who had the bright idea to film them looking up from the middle of the two opponents, with the camera constantly moving?), Ma's antics, and an orangutan doing some orangutan things for... laughs? It's one of the messiest movies I have ever seen, without any real coherent plot or pacing. It just seems to end on what should be a big climactic moment, but the finale was so poorly built-up that it goes off with a whisper. The ending to the movie could be great if more focus was put on Philo's fighting, but it takes too much of a backseat to everything else. You can't be everything, movie. You just can't.

But, it's a weirdly enjoyable experience for just how off-the-wall it is, and the score is a great mix of jazz and country. If you like crazy B-movies, give it a shot.
2 months 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

Here's a movie that tore my heart out and stomped on it. I was on the brink of tears by the end. Probably the most effective PSA movie ever, and that's likely owed to its impeccable direction and writing by the king, Billy Wilder. Wilder is one of my favourite directors for his incredible ability to totally trancend genre, and make each one he touches his own. His film noirs are perhaps the most famous and lauded (though I must confess I haven't seen either Indemnity or Sunset yet), and the same goes for his comedies. Here, he tackles the dangerous subject of alcoholism. And I say dangerous because it's so easy to fall into preachy rants and speeches. But this movie feels totally honest and sincere, without ever being over-the-top (well, there's a level of camp that exists in most old movies). The plot deals a lot in flashbacks, but like, say, A Christmas Carol, it keeps enough of a through line to engross you. The characters feel exactly like people I know, especially coming from a family of party animals that range from responsible to rehab-going. The anguish of trying to help a friend in need is stunningly visceral, and though it's a somewhat alien feeling to me, I truly became Don Birnam. I was subject and observer all at once, and every step of Birnam's spiral was another incapacitating blow to the gut. There's something indescribable about the way it affected me, but it's one of those things you needn't describe. We've all felt that feeling, when a piece of art or a story touches you so deeply that you feel exposed, but in a healthy and fulfilling way. Easily recommended, but with the warning that it can be a hard movie to watch, at least for me.
2 months 2 weeks ago
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GrooveRemote

So preachy it could've won Best Picture.

Not all that bad, though. While successfully gloomy, it never embodies any feeling of taking place in the future. I thought I was looking at an alternate universe version of the '70s. Heston is his usual hammy self, and he does as well as he always does. Robinson's veteran chops show, and Chuck Connors is the Rifleman (I just needed to acknowledge it). It's a bit on the slow side, but a perfectly fine mystery, even though the ending is obvious as all hell (not that it's terribly important to be surprised by it, anyway). But if there's one thing in a movie I can't stand, it's... well, it's probably the stucture and pacing of a biopic, but ham-fisted morals are a close second. Like a JFK, the moral of the story seems to exceed the story itself in importance. No real memorable characters come from it, or anything memorable at all outside of the twist that I may as well spoil, as it's all anybody knows about the movie. This review was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and I never realized until now how forgettable the movie was. I vaguely remember cool ideas like strawberries acting like narcotics, and Robinson's death, but a lot of it is a blur. That's a bad sign. It's not schlocky enough to warrant watching the whole movie, but who am I to tell you what to watch? Go watch it. I dare ya.
2 months 3 weeks ago
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GrooveRemote

"You sound like baby Hitler."

-Sylvester Stallone
2 months 3 weeks ago
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GrooveRemote

Here's a movie that I really don't get. There's some good for me to mention, but the net value... well, read on.

As everyone has said, Stumpy is a regular hoot. Walter Brennan seems like he's having a lot of fun, which translates to Stumpy really being the highlight of the movie. John Wayne suffers from his own determination to choose boring roles for himself, but his talky love interest provides a unique counter to his smarmy roughness. The three leads bounce off of each other very well. You see why Tarantino called it his favourite movie (either that or he said it was the greatest; I cannot recall which), as a lot of his trademark strengths and weaknesses are found here: great dialogue and characters, with a weak plot.

Perhaps that's an unfair way to put it. The plot is fine, although the movie is subject to pointless tangents, but the pacing is atrocious. It's not even so much on a technical level, because it's so terrible that it really impacted my experience. The whole thing just trudges along, without any sense of urgency or stakes. Not just in the main story, that being a murderer's rich brother trying to bust him out, but in the side plots. Even the final gunfight is far too jovial, which I would blame on Howard Hawks. Nothing really progresses at all. The romantic side-plot comes somewhere close, but it's really just a beginning and an end. It's a movie made up mostly of filler. And, in an ordinary movie, it'd be the greatest movie ever, but you can't make a movie out of Dude flatly relapsing into alcoholism over and over. One could easily cut almost an hour of footage, and present the world with a real masterpiece. A factoid I found interesting is that it was written by the same duo behind The Big Sleep, another movie oft referred to as a classic that I found dull and light on stakes.

Maybe there's something I'm missing. I really have no idea how somebody could be engaged by this movie. I would love, however, to discuss it with someone. I'm always ready for movie talk, except when I ain't.

I give Stumpy a score of 4 Tucos out of 5.
3 months ago
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GrooveRemote

This is certainly a one-of-a-kind movie. Not only is the concept an interesting one, but it's executed with a dash of eerie style that is entirely its own.

It's about four men that go on a mission to save the wife of one of the men from some mysterious savages. I love the creeping feeling instilled in you from the first scene. Not only do you have a couple very chillingly creepy scenes in the first act, but everything about the ironically-named town of Bright Hope is unsettling. Not only are the colours washed out, even for a Western, but there's constant talk of injury, disease and death. It seems like very character has some overt association with death from the beginning, with the exception of John Brooder, one of the movie's best characters. Brooder is an elitist, bigoted snob; he frequently speaks ill of his comrades without any care. We find out more about why he is the way he is as the movie goes on, but more than that we learn what kind of person he is, and how he and the other men and different.

Richard Jenkins, as other have mentioned, is the highlight of the show. He's undoubtedly hilarious at times when a little humour is needed, but there's such an underlying sadness and desire for kinship in him. Sure, he talks a lot, but it's because he's afraid of being alone. He's lost a very close companion, and is obviously left lost by that. He has a childlike innocence, but by the end of the movie you find respect in him.

The other lead characters are also excellent. They all compliment each other and work off of each other. You grow to really like them so much that the final act is all the more horrifying. By the way, anybody remotely squeamish will definitely want to avoid the final act. I don't know if I've ever seen something so truly disturbing, although I think that certain scene would've been better left to our imaginations. I would've liked it a lot more if they just focused on the character's faces, and used the (fantastic) sound design for some idea of what's happening. As it is, it does feel a little excessive. The practical effects, though, are so convincing. They have a very real quality to them that you wouldn't get with CGI (not to knock CGI too hard, though).

There isn't a whole lot of story here, but a there's always a little taste of tension at the right moment, to keep things from being dull. I think my biggest issue is that it changes a bit too abruptly into a horror movie in the third act. It doesn't feel entirely earned when the first two acts were mostly an exploration of character. But, it's really a minor qualm with an otherwise excellent movie. A very unique experience that's worthy of your time.
3 months 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

A surprisingly different and interesting Eastwood Western. I feel incredibly stupid for not realizing the symbolism about 20 minutes earlier than I did, but I enjoyed it a lot afterwards.

So, you've got a movie about a mysterious man who wanders into a little country town, and "saves" them from a trio of miscreants seeking revenge for something not immediately clear to the audience. I really enjoyed the way this movie flips your expectations. You go in expecting a less-good Fistful of Dollars, and get something totally unique and stylish in its own way, even if said style occasionally comes off as cheesy. It's a hard movie to talk about without spoilers, so most of this will be under the spoiler tag ahead: spoiler

What strikes me as odd is the complaints here about the protagonist's treatment of women. Sure, it's not inherently moral at all, but neither is our protagonist. It's not glorifying his actions. They're just presented as-is. It's not about whether what he does is just, because on normal terms it isn't. But you have to consider the main character's intent, and the events depicted in the movie. spoiler

Anyway, there's my two cents on that topic. Putting aside any accusations of sexism (which you could make some case for in the actual portrayal of the female characters, specifically Sarah rather than Callie), it's certainly not like any other Western out there. I'd recommend it to the surrealist crowd, in particular. It's not a bonafide classic, but given the option, I'd sure as hell speak in its favour.
3 months 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

I've been doing a bit of a Western marathon, and I'm so glad I didn't comment on this one before watching Unforgiven, because that really shows the right way to make a gloomy Western. Now, I have no intention of saying that this movie is bad. On the contrary, it's pretty dang good. There are just some big issues that keep me from loving it.

There is, however, a lot of good to it. Clint Eastwood is a master of the aloof wanderer. I can't say he portrays this character all that differently from The Man With No Name, but the context of the story works with his performance and alters it quite interestingly. Here, he comes off as shut-in and distant for entirely different (and more clear) reasons. He's also a great director. The colour palate of the movie, in particular, is eye-catching. There's a lot of grim, saturated browns and greens, with sprinklings of vibrant autumn leaves, and the scarves of Union soldiers. Chief Dan George's peaceful wisdom provides a much-needed balance to Eastwood's grit, and Paula Trueman is definitely the comedic highlight of the film.

My big issue is the tone. The movie would've worked much better if it was a straight war drama with a Western paint job. A different take on your typical Rambo-type character; one that's a down-and-dirty gunslinger. But, this clashes with some scenes that you might find in A Fistful Of Dollars, just without Sergio Leone's masterful use of suspense. Wales will take out numerous opponents with apparent ease, and then we'll go to a scene of quiet remorse for his lost family. They just don't fit together. The only other notable flaw that comes to mind is Bill McKinney's performance. He's quite a one-note villain, and is another facet of the movie holding it back. I know this could be a unique, complex movie, but as-is, it's still a strong entry in the Eastwood catalogue.
3 months 1 week ago
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GrooveRemote

This is a weird movie. Weird, in that it's both low-brow and pretentious at the same time. Weird, in that it's like a cross between Schindler's List and Kazaam. Weird, in that it portrays an almost-romantic relationship between a child and an adult. Weird, in that it spans tonal gorges, from super over-the-top and cheesy, to saccharine. It's really weird.

It's not a bad movie, it's just... really weird. There are good aspects. The two lead performances are excellent. They're both absolutely perfect in their roles, as a lonely man living in a world of darkness who discovers a ray of light, and hesitates with how to react, and a stuck-up brat (a slight jab at ol' Natalie Portman, if it wasn't already clear). The action scenes are top-notch. Besson, for his bizarre faults, knows how to stage and pace an incredibly intense bit of violence, and the build-up is often even better. I had to remind myself a few times that Mathilda doesn't die in the first act. There are also some great, quiet scenes. Little ones of Leon with his plant, and such.

It's not a great movie, though. Gary Oldman did not do as well as the other actors. While I enjoy a hammy villain (Tim Curry is my favourite actor, after all), I don't welcome one that doesn't fit the movie that they're in. I think his presence is partially responsible for the tonal inconsistency. There are also some very sappy scenes that come off as creepy because of Mathilda and Leon's weird relationship. They were dumb to begin with, but it just adds an extra layer of discomfort. There's also a long stretch of movie (the entire second act, actually) where it changes from a gritty-yet-cheesy '90s action movie to a family dramady, and it did hamper my level of engagement with the movie.

There are some weird aspects to discuss. The implied nature of Mathilda and Leon's relationship is really pretty disarming. I was sure that there wouldn't be any sexual subtext to this movie, and that the things I'd heard were really just jokes, but it almost goes there. I really don't understand the argument that Mathilda is like an adult in a child's body, and vice versa. My take-away was that she thought she was tough and independent, but really did need somebody. And the same for Leon, but in a different way. He needed someone to bring that side out of him. But, the implications just sour the potential. It's also both great and terrible at the same time. I like this movie about 50% sincerely, and 50% ironically, because it really is a representation of the best and worst of '90s movies. It's stylish and full of great human drama, but it's also obnoxiously in-your-face.

It's a weird package that's definitely worth watching, if only for Gary Oldman screaming "EVERYONE!"
3 months 3 weeks ago

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