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Don't Look Now (1973 4K Blu-Ray)

This film came out the year I was born and we've both aged exceptionally well. At times, Nicholas Roeg's film seems meandering and feels like it spends a lot of time chasing it's own tail. Strands of story appear to lead nowhere and red herrings abound, but as its two leads race towards their fates it all comes together beautifully at the end.

 

Both Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland are superb as the grieving parents, Laura and John, who are trying to move on from the death of their daughter who passes away in the traumatic opening scenes. There's a palpable grief to their performances and you can feel their pain as Laura embraces the wild claims of a blind clairvoyant and John wraps himself in his work, unable to deal with the loss of his child.

 

Rich in theme and willing to bend all manner of different genres, Don't Look Now is an incredibly piece of work that deserves all the accolades bestowed upon it. It's also been treated to a truly magnificent 4K restoration, so pick it up now and see what all the fuss is about.

5/5

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On 03/08/2019 at 00:49, Vimster said:

 

Pontypool (2008)

An early-morning radio show gets reports of a disturbance in the local area that goes way beyond their expectations. Let's be honest here, this is superb horror with real invention. Without giving too much away, this is a highly-original take on a zombie outbreak, handled with precision and style. You're just as intrigued as the crew at the local radio station as to what the hell is going on out there, and the script does wonders building a picture of events elsewhere and how they could have a wider impact, largely through the maverick morning DJ played by Stephen McHattie. Once you get what's actually going on the film takes on a more surreal quality, but I won't spoil it, suffice to say it is unusual and gripping. This is how you do a one-location film. It may be a bit too theatrical for some who are expecting something more visceral, but for those prepared for it this delivers a well-executed, novel story.

 

Just finished watching this, thank you for the recommendation I thought it was great and had one of the best intros for a film I have seen in a while. 

 

The story is top-notch and made me wonder if 

Spoiler

Hideo Kojima had seen this film before he started writing Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain as one of the main plot points in that game is the same as the big plot in this film. 

 

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20 minutes ago, The Eagle Lord said:

 

Just finished watching this, thank you for the recommendation I thought it was great and had one of the best intros for a film I have seen in a while. 

 

The story is top-notch and made me wonder if 

  Hide contents

Hideo Kojima had seen this film before he started writing Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain as one of the main plot points in that game is the same as the big plot in this film. 

 

I didn't mention this was adapted from a novel, although I've not read it so can't say how well it was adapted. To be honest it doesn't really matter when the film is this good.

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CIA: Code Name: Alexa (1992)

Agent Alexa funds herself caught between the CIA and a megalomaniac who wants to hold the world to ransom. PM Entertainment do espionage the only way they know how: gun fights, exploding cars and excessive bloom lighting. Alexa was tasked to recover a chip for cliche charming villain Victor Mahler but is brought back in by the CIA, all whilst police detective Murphy is investigating murders linked to the missing chip; Le Carre this most definitely isn't. Shoot first, do spying later seems to be the order of the day, The action is pretty good although not the best PM have produced. Production design seems to revolve around ordering as many strip lights as possible and putting them in every single shot. It does have that lush PM cinematography. A pre-trial OJ Simpson throws himself into a limited role. And you get a bit of tasteful 80s-style sex thrown in. It all adds up to something rather underwhelming, not action enough to be exciting, not espionage enough to support intrigue.

 

The Great Hack (2019)

Documentary follwing key players involved in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. This may not be big news or new information to the tech-savvy 'mukkers  here but this gets over some complex information in a largely engaging and visually-stimulating way. It is one of those right-place-right-time docs where the film-makers were able to document events relating to the scandal, starting with American data academic David Carroll's legal action to recover his data held by Cambridge Analytica and by extension expose their operation, moving on to spend a lot of time with former CA business director turned data rights advocate Brittany Kaiser. Kaiser is an intriguing, complex character, the film does a good job trying to understand her motivations. The film eschews dry explainers and endless talking heads for something that feels like a low-key espionage thriller, with international travel, earnest fly-in-the-wall conversations, serious people getting in and out of big cars and walking into hotels and office blocks, all to a sombre piano-and-synth soundtrack. Whilst this builds an atmosphere it did feel like they could have cut down the excessive running time by minimising the shots of people in airports and the like, but that's just the style they went with. Important information, lush production, interesting characters, but some may find the lack of emphasis on the information a let-down.

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Field Of Dreams (1989, 4K Blu-Ray)

When struggling farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice in his wheat field, he ignores reason and ploughs it up in order to create a baseball field. Supported by his spunky wife, Annie (Amy Madigan) he goes on an unlikely quest to combat the ghosts of his past.

 

I love Field Of Dreams. It's easy to say it piles on the schmaltz, but it perfectly captures those Hollywood movies of old like A Wonderful Life. It's mainly down to Costner, who is perfect as the every man idealistic husband who refuses to give up on his dream, despite the absurdness of his situation. 

 

The rest of the cast is superb too, with Ray Liotta playing the disgraced baseball player, Shoeless Joe Jackson, James Earl Jones shining as an idealist who's lost his way and Burt Lancaster as an aged Doctor who gave up his dreams of playing baseball for a nobler cause. And then there's the wonderfully vivacious Amy Madigan as Costner's devoted wife. She sparks whenever she's on screen and never falters in her faith that her husband isn't as deluded as everyone thinks.

 

Steeped in metaphors and effortlessly straddling different genres, films like Field Of Dreams just don't seem to get made any more. It's a terrible idea on paper, but it works and it works brilliantly. A true classic.

5/5

 

The new 4K transfer looks exceptional too. Field Of Dreams has never looked as good as it looks here. Sensational stuff.

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1 hour ago, strider said:

Field Of Dreams (1989, 4K Blu-Ray)

When struggling farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice in his wheat field, he ignores reason and ploughs it up in order to create a baseball field. Supported by his spunky wife, Annie (Amy Madigan) he goes on an unlikely quest to combat the ghosts of his past.

 

I love Field Of Dreams. It's easy to say it piles on the schmaltz, but it perfectly captures those Hollywood movies of old like A Wonderful Life. It's mainly down to Costner, who is perfect as the every man idealistic husband who refuses to give up on his dream, despite the absurdness of his situation. 

 

The rest of the cast is superb too, with Ray Liotta playing the disgraced baseball player, Shoeless Joe Jackson, James Earl Jones shining as an idealist who's lost his way and Burt Lancaster as an aged Doctor who gave up his dreams of playing baseball for a nobler cause. And then there's the wonderfully vivacious Amy Madigan as Costner's devoted wife. She sparks whenever she's on screen and never falters in her faith that her husband isn't as deluded as everyone thinks.

 

Steeped in metaphors and effortlessly straddling different genres, films like Field Of Dreams just don't seem to get made any more. It's a terrible idea on paper, but it works and it works brilliantly. A true classic.

5/5

 

The new 4K transfer looks exceptional too. Field Of Dreams has never looked as good as it looks here. Sensational stuff.

One of those movies I have to watch every few years.

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Cold Pursuit (2019, Amazon Rental)

Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is a well-respected member of a Colorado ski resort where he works as a snow plough driver. When his son is killed from a forced heroin overdose he goes on a bloody rampage.

 

Based on a Norwegian movie, which was also directed by Hans Petter Moland, Cold Pursuit is an oddball of a movie that simply doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. There's flashes of humour, mostly dark, but some of the jokes feel overdone, while others fall completely flat.

 

Neeson is simply going through the motions here, offing bad guys, mumbling over his poor dialogue and offing every stereotype you can think off. It doesn't help that the pool of actors are largely terrible, with only Emmy Rossum really impressing as an earnest cop who slowly begins to realise that there's a lot more going on beneath the supposedly sleepy town.

 

Overall I thought this was a bit of a mess, even though the trailer looked quite promising. One to avoid.
2/5

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@strider    Wow, I have a very different opinion on this. I loved the quirky humour, the odd yet likeable characters and how the plot escalates.  4 badly nicknamed gangsters out of 5 for me.

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Brightburn (2019)

 

What if Superman turned evil when he discovered his powers. That's basically the plot of this film and outside that, they're isnt much substance at all.

 

Everything just felt super rushed and unearned. They have a pretty cool concept to start with and that's where it ends because they dont do anything good or interesting with it and it was all just really cliched.

 

Its wasnt terrible but equally it wasnt very good. Some nice gory death scenes at least.

 

2/5

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Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

A computer designed to handle America's defence threatens its masters if it doesn't get its way. Suitably bleak SF from an era where things were going dark. The biggest problem with this film is the ludicrous premise that the US and Russia would allow a computer to totally control their defence systems AND make it impossible for anyone to turn them off, or have any failsafes available - pretty basic for something that important. And yes, it is fiction and all that but it makes it almost impossible to feel the terror everyone goes through here. It's a shame because it has all that lovely retro-future technology, a sleek, ultra-modern, crisp yet cold aesthetic, maybe not as well realised as The Andromeda Strain from around the same time. The ending is pure 70s bleakness, you certainly wouldn't see anything like that today. It's just that frankly daft idea that everyone from the President down throught this would be a great idea. I don't even think 50 years of computing advances make a difference, it would be just as silly then. Would definitely suggest if you want a humanity-in-peril cold 70s SF film go for The Andromeda Strain over this.

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On 10/08/2019 at 07:24, Gord said:

@strider    Wow, I have a very different opinion on this. I loved the quirky humour, the odd yet likeable characters and how the plot escalates.  4 badly nicknamed gangsters out of 10 for me.

I guess it may be just a numbers game but for me this is Neeson's best movie for decades. I was shocked by how enjoyable it was.

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I watched "Good Boys"last night.

 

Imagine Superbad, but with younger kids and all the funny bits stripped out. Now add in loads of swear words, some cringey performances and a fascination with sex toys and you have this film.

 

1 Skull (fuck) out of 5.

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16 hours ago, Mawdlin said:

I guess it may be just a numbers game but for me this is Neeson's best movie for decades. I was shocked by how enjoyable it was.

 

I meant 4/5. Loved it. 

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18 hours ago, Vimster said:

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

A computer designed to handle America's defence threatens its masters if it doesn't get its way. Suitably bleak SF from an era where things were going dark. The biggest problem with this film is the ludicrous premise that the US and Russia would allow a computer to totally control their defence systems AND make it impossible for anyone to turn them off, or have any failsafes available - pretty basic for something that important. And yes, it is fiction and all that but it makes it almost impossible to feel the terror everyone goes through here. It's a shame because it has all that lovely retro-future technology, a sleek, ultra-modern, crisp yet cold aesthetic, maybe not as well realised as The Andromeda Strain from around the same time. The ending is pure 70s bleakness, you certainly wouldn't see anything like that today. It's just that frankly daft idea that everyone from the President down throught this would be a great idea. I don't even think 50 years of computing advances make a difference, it would be just as silly then. Would definitely suggest if you want a humanity-in-peril cold 70s SF film go for The Andromeda Strain over this.

 

Have you seen Demon Seed? I imagine so, but if not check it out.

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15 minutes ago, ZOK said:

 

Have you seen Demon Seed? I imagine so, but if not check it out.

Yes, definitely seen that one. It's defintely freakier. It didn't play on the paranoia about computers like Colussus did though, it was much more intimate pyschological horror.

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Stray Cat Rock: Beat '71 (1971)

In Japan a group of hippies set out to help save one of their troop who was framed for murder, standing up to the corrupt mayor of a small rural town. This isn't a genre of film I'm familiar with but I have to say this was really enjoyable. The hippies were a likeable bunch, keeping the pressure on a crime boss of a small town and his gang of bikers in a bid to get justice for their kidnapped companion. Strong themes of belonging, hnour and family, with the boss' son being torn between going into the family business or helping his surrogate hippie family, you never know which way his allegence will fall. The western-themed finale was a decent touch, although it didn't hammer the theme home. Some fantastic views of rural Japan, the film looks great. With the music and American-style hippie architypes it was clearly influenced by American films but still managed to retain a strong sense of Japanese culture, at least that's how it felt to me; I'm no expert on it. Will be seeking out similar films.

 

 

 

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Sad to read the thoughts on Nashville on the other page. I think it's a perfect film and would be a possible candidate for a desert island choice. I find something new to love every time I watch it it (which I do probably a couple of times a year).

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Firetrap (2001)

A professional thief finds himself trapped in a burning tower block whilst trying to retreive a VR chip. Late era PM Entertainment flick from after Joseph Merhi and Richard Pepin had cashed out in 2000, but it's not too bad, just not great. Dean Cain is the thief in question, trying to steal a chip but finding himself helping out the others trapped in a burning tower block. Imagine a lower-budget Towering Inferno with a bit of office politics and half-arsed CIA-related shenanigans thrown in. Lots of badly-composited fire effects (on the cusp of decent CGI fire), some limp intrigue regarding the various employees in this tech company. Disaster flick? Action flick? Heist flick? It's hard to say and frankly it falls between the three stools. It does everything fine, it's never boring, and Dean Cain is a decent if unremarkable lead, but you really have to be pretty bored to get anything more than idle curiosity from this.

 

if that hasn't put you off...

.

 

 

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Aniara 2019

 

When a spacecraft carrying settlers to Mars strays off course, the consumption-obsessed passengers are prompted to consider their place in the universe.

 

This came out in cinemas last weekend and is also available to rent on Amazon and the likes.

 

So glad I stumbled across this little gem of a sci fi film. It's a Swedish film based on a poem. I won't going to too much detail on plot, but probably best described as High Rise in space. I'm already regretting renting rather than buying as I definitely need a second viewing.

 

With this, Prospect, High Life, Ad Astra and Lucy In The Sky, we could be looking at one hell of a year for mature sci fi (for want of a better term)

 

4.5/5

MV5BMjUzMzk4NDMzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjE5NDY1NzM@._V1_.jpg

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Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (Cinema 2019)

Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading TV star looking for his next big break, while his stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) now works as his loyal gofer. And that's about it.

 

I'm really not sure how I feel about Quintin Tarantino's ninth film. There's no denying that it offers a fantastic snapshot of one of Hollywood's golden eras and there's some excellent dramatic scenes, as you'd expect from Tarantino, but it's also a movie that doesn't really go anywhere. Despite its meandering approach, OUATIH never drags thanks to some truly memorable scenes which include a tense meeting on a ranch, that acting scene from the trailer (which works so much better in context) and Sharon Tate (a delightful Margot Robbie) charming her way into a free showing of her new movie to name just a few.

 

The supporting cast is equally solid with Margaret Qualley leaving an impression as an impish member of Charles Manson's (Damon Herriman) creepy family, Al Pacino firing on all cylinders as a casting agent who takes a particular interest in Dalton and Julia Butters as a precocious child actor. Sadly, Margot Robbie is giving very little material to work with (although she's dynamic in the few scenes she does have) and the excellent chemistry between Pitt and DiCaprio rarely gets a chance to shine because they spend so much of the movie apart.

 

Ultimately, OUATIH feels like a story about coming to terms with your legacy and the fact that your best moments in life could well be behind you. It's interesting because this is Tarantino at his most restrained, pedestrian even, as if he's well aware of the potentially sensitive subject manner that he's dealing with and doesn't want to be labelled as another auteur who has found success in violence for the sake of violence. It lacks a lot of the flourishes you'd normally expect from him and while much of the dialogue still crackles with the same energy found in Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, certain sequences sah under their leaden dialogue. The last twenty minutes feel far more in line with the director's past films, and will most certainly annoy historian buffs but if they anger, they're largely missing the point. OUATIH isn't trying to recreate historical events, it simply uses them as window dressing in order to create a love letter to an intense period of Hollywood that the director clearly loves.

 

It's not one of Tarantino's strongest films, but it's certainly one of his most interesting and I'm sure it's only going to get better on repeated viewings.

3.5/5

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Paradise Lost (1999)

A luxury holidy development in the Amazon rainforest triggers ancient forces. This started out simple enough. A worker on a shitty luxury holiday complex being built on the site of an ancient civilisation gets his heart ripped out (in a very PG way). Marina Sirtis (sans bra) is some sort of archiologist, anthropologist, forensic scientist, midwife (it shifts about) and thinks all this development is stirring up something. William Forsythe is the architect/developer behind the development. Nigel Havers of all people has developed a totally harmless (honest) chemical to defoliage the foliage. It's all set up for a bit of simple good-anthropologist-vs-evil-developer shinanegans, with Havers being the lynchpin, right? Wrong. Something happens about an hour in that turns the whole thing in its head. I'm not sure if this was a deliberate attempt to fool the casual viwer into thinking the obvious then pulling the rug from under them or just plain bad writing. If it was the former they did a fantastic job of it. The last half hour is mindboggling, culminating in an over-credits plot wrap-up montage which had me laughing and shaking my head in disbelief. William Forsythe brings the charm but is hobbled by the PG-rated production - Out For Justice this ain't. Sirtis fits the bill as the good doctor who is down with the locals, but is clearly still under the shadow of Star Trek TNG. Is this an eco-thriller? Tropical horror? I don't even think the writers knew. I know one thing though, this has some abysmal editing, re-use of shots (they clearly only had a few minutes of chopper footage), that's two things. Watch it and try to figure out if this was meant to have a big twist or if it was merely bad.

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Kong: Skull Island (2017) - 3/5

 

What do you get if you take a Science Should Leave Nature Well Enough Alone monster movie and then throw in 'Nam clichés galore?

 

Honestly, it's quite amazing how many Vietnam war movie tropes are crammed into this: from the guy at the back of the patrol being picked off first, to "White Rabbit" on the soundtrack. John C. Reilly's character is essentially this movie's version of Dennis Hopper, and there are character name references to Heart of Darkness. All that's missing is having someone rant "You don't know what it was like, man! You weren't there!" This appropriation of pop cultural shorthand signfiers for 'Nam probably says some quite uncomfortable things about pop culture's perception of that conflict.

 

I haven't seen Gareth Edwards' 2014 Godzilla movie but from what I gather, that film emphasised its human characters too much for monster fans' taste, and Kong: Skull Island represents an overcorrection too far in the opposite direction (just as Man of Steel was an over-corrective response to the most prominent complaints about Superman Returns). John C. Reilly's character (star of what Evan Saathoff calls the "exposition mission" side of things) is pretty much the only character who is appealing in his own right on any level more than "functional". OK, it's to be expected that the soldier characters would exist as little more than interchangable cannon fodder (with a few hints at their civilian lives to tug on the heartstrings when they get killed off), but when it comes to the characters played by John Goodman and Brie Larson, I think they could have been made more interesting with a few tweaks. Maybe they had better roles at some point earlier in production? Jing Tian was probably always there primarily as a sop to the film's Chinese release, but surely at some point her character must have had something to do?

 

So if it's not about the human characters, it must be all about the monsters and the action. The monsters' depictions strike a good balance between gentle giants who just want to be left alone (reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, as when one of the soldiers sits on a log that turns out to be a stick insect, or when Kong bathes his wounds), and being deadly, unknowable threats that the humans are totally unequipped to deal with. (Though I don't think the film ever depicts them in a way quite as horrifying as the pit scene from Peter Jackson's 2005 King Kong film.)

 

The action is generally good, interspersed with a few vivid images: close-ups of a President Nixon bobblehead toy in a turbulent helicopter cockpit; spray-and-pray gunfire viewed along the barrel like in an FPS game; a hero with a katana charging through deadly smog. (The cinematographer is Larry Fong, and I think the movie looks a lot nicer than his collaborations with Zack Snyder.) And near the end, there's one gleeful, vicious subversion of a character-ending action film trope.

 

On this evidence, Jordan Vogt-Roberts seems like a good candidate to make that Metal Gear Solid movie. He's got the eye for action; now he just needs to raise his characterisation to the level of those games! ;)

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