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audreyv [2018] BOOKS

 

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin [2009] * * *

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I suppose I shouldn't have been that surprised upon reading the book the film is based on, that the original text has many more discussions regarding race and different ethnicities, but I did find it disappointing that these topics were abandoned in the screenplay. The book contains a fascinating description of Eilis' experience interacting with black customers at her job and how her housemates react to this. The novel also specifies that Eilis' law professor is Jewish and was personally affected by the Holocaust. I believe these details of the diversity of life in New York are extremely important in establishing the uniqueness of America as so full of people from such a variety of backgrounds, and I think their inclusion in the film would have benefited its historical accuracy, especially when drawing comparisons between the United States and Ireland.

I definitely enjoyed the extra characterization of Eilis' friends and family during her final trip back to Ireland. To me this portion really captured the nostalgic feeling of returning to one's childhood home after having moved away for a while.

The movie is a favorite of mine and the reason why I decided to read the book, and I think I can conclude that the two work well as supplements of each other. The ending of the film feels much more powerful and romantic to me; that final scene is one of my favorites and Saoirse Ronan brings so much to the role. The conclusion of the film from the confrontation with Miss Kelly onwards is where I believe the screenplay greatly improved on the novel, and is the reason I'm not giving this version a higher score. However, the book is definitely good for providing some extra detail, such as Eilis' Dodgers game experience, and it is a quick read!


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jmunky [2018] FILM

 

I, Tonya [2017] * * * *

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If only we could invent a sport that combined ice skating and boxing. Any ideas?


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Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM

 

Avengers: Infinity War [2018] * * * *

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[*Spoilers*]

On the drive to the theater, we were all making predictions about who would die and who we wanted to survive. I said that what I wanted most to happen was this: At the end of the movie, Thanos is standing on a pile of all the dead superheroes, and he opens his arms wide and declares, "Ta-da!" Turns out I was half right.

(My second choice was no one dies, but they somehow bring Agent Coulson back to life and ten seconds later he gets another spear through the heart.)

I was pretty confident I would like this movie for two reasons:

1. Any movie I see with my niece that she enjoys (she's a Marvel nut these days), I enjoy by proxy simply because it makes me happy that she's happy.
2. My expectations could not have been lower.

Honestly, I'm shocked this wasn't a total cluster. Plotwise it's just A to B to C to D. Things happen, yada yada. But the movie moves at a snappy pace (I didn't feel the runtime at all) and there's a pretty constant thread of jokes to keep me having fun.

And I guess that's the essence of my positive reaction. I had fun for 160 minutes. Anytime that happens, I'm grateful.

The one emotional moment that worked for me was when Spider-Man evaporates. Not because I care about any of these characters. But in that one isolated moment, I wasn't watching a superhero movie but a young man facing death, afraid and powerless.

Oh, and Samuel L. Jackson's "motherfucker" cut short was a gem.


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Chad S. Walsky [2018] FILM

 

Predator [1987] * * * * *

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Predator is a glorious cocktail of anabolic steroids, Alien, a Camaro IROC Z28, The Most Dangerous Game, a Gold's Gym membership, Bud Dry, issue #117 of Guns & Ammo, Jose Canseco, unqualified American governors, and a vaguely Jamaican alien-monster. It's everything you'd expect from a Reagan-era action flick that's packed to the gills with pussy jokes and sweaty bohunks. But a funny thing happens along the way - Predator becomes a cunning cat-and-mouse game where all the artillery in the Western world doesn't mean shit without a good plan. Wit beats weapons every time, and the mano y mano climax is one for the ages. Two primal forces locked in battle where the only thing at stake is life itself! (Uh oh... I think it moved when I typed that. Sorry, I really dig 80s action movies).

We first meet Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer (Schwarzenegger) and his rescue team - medic Mac Elliot, tracker Billy Sole, gunner Blain Cooper, explosives expert Jorge "Poncho" Ramirez, and radio operator Rick Hawkins - as they learn about a covert rescue-op deep in the "Val Verde Jungle". Why a rescue team would need massive amounts of explosives and a Gatling gun is beyond me (the point is it's cool so shut up and don't be a fruit bat ya dingus). Anyway, Dutch's former Army buddy George Dillon - that "sonofabitch" Carl Weathers - breaks down the mission parameters, and despite a few raised eyebrows the squad gets ready to head straight up Satan's bunghole. Apparently some soldiers need rescuing. Pretty standard stuff.

In fact, the first third of Predator plays like a sequel to a random Chuck Norris movie with enough bullshit posturing and exposed chest to make Michael Dudikoff blush. I love it unabashedly, but I can see how this may be a turn off to folks who aren't fans of testosterone-fueled 80s action. This set-up serves a sly purpose though - even the most juiced-up, arrogant prick can turn to jelly when faced with true fear. And McTiernan does a clever thing by staging the village raid as a moment of dominance for the team, only to have them quickly unravel in the face of deceit and uncertainty. Watching the air go out of the balloon as the squad is picked off one-by-one is part of Predator's brilliance. From Billy's final judgement on the bridge, to Mac's whispered goodbye to Blain, the second act injects some genuine pathos alongside the non-stop carnage.

But let's not forget why we bought a damn ticket in the first place... The Predator vs. Schwarzenegger finale! And the third act is what takes the film from good to great. A frantic Arnie, down to the last of his explosives and a few sharpened sticks, goes at it with the universe's ultimate killing machine. And it's fucking bananas. The shot of Schwarzenegger, black as night from the drying jungle clay, arching his back, raising a torch, and bellowing a murderous scream to the heavens is one of my favorite shots. Brains vs. brawn, man vs. monster, life vs. death. It's all here.

So if you like heart-pounding film scores, Shane Black in Jeffrey Dahmer glasses, Red Man chewing tobacco, timeless special affects, Little Richard, golden-age Schwarzenegger, tactical vests that expose glistening abdomens, infrared technology, lessons about the true meaning of survival, old school blood squibs, and the greatest creature design since H.R. Giger spawned the Xenomorph please check out Predator. Be careful though, repeated viewings can turn you into a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus,* just like me.

*When I say "sexual tyrannosaurus", I mean that I have small hands and my penis has been extinct for a very long time.


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Swartacus [2018] FILM

 

Wild at Heart [1990] * * * * *

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This film is one of the greats.

This is Lynch's lost gem (which is weird because it WON CANNES) ...It's perfectly positioned after "Blue Velvet" and before "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" marking his peak "monument of excess" era. To throw Cage into it elevates it to high art as much as it creeps into reflexive absurdity. I cannot properly or learnedly discuss this film on my own, so I will just simply list everything great about it and curse the many, many revisits to this world I could have made had this had a proper blu-ray release sometime in the last 10 years.

This film contains:

The greatest Elvis impersonation of all time, greatest demented homage to an Elvis movie, greatest demented homage to "The Wizard of Oz", greatest ass whooping of all time (the opening beating Cage's Sailor Ripley gives a pimp who accuses him of fucking his girlfriend's mother in a bathroom stall), greatest teeth (Bobby Peru), greatest pronunciation of "Gulf of Tonkin" (Bobby Peru), greatest sex scene, greatest Laura Dern performance, greatest dance sequence set to death metal, greatest double barreled cigarette toke (this happened twice), greatest decapitation scene (Bobby Peru), greatest terrifying scene of extreme sexual harassment (Bobby Peru), greatest scene of Isabella Rossellini running over a cop, greatest performance by a character actor (Harry Dean Stanton), greatest seersucker suit (Harry Dean Stanton), greatest soap opera acting, greatest use of lipstick in a deviant way, greatest puke scene, greatest rip off of a Nic Cage film to create the greatest Woody Harrelson film (Ollie Stone/"Natural Born Killers"), greatest performance of Laura Palmer playing Glinda the Good Witch (Sheryl Lee), greatest Crispin Glover Santa Claus performance, greatest underpants cockroach infestation, greatest "confused tit grab" to invite guttural guffaws from a theater audience (Nic Cage and Laura Dern), greatest deviant nickname (Mr. Reindeer), greatest film to utilize a Chris Isaak song a full nine years before Kubrick did in "Eyes Wide Shut", greatest film ever to be called "White Trash Noir" by C.S. Walsky, and last but certainly not least... the second greatest pantyhose-masked robbery sequence (second only to "Raising Arizona" of course).


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Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM

 

Savageland [2017] * * * *

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My personal Hal(f)loween 2018 film festival begins on a positive note! This faux documentary brings social context back to the zombie movie. It's what I wish "Diary of the Dead" would have been.

Can I just say how much I loved those grainy black and white photographs! Man, they were creepy. And the last few of the little girl were heartbreaking. Using still photography was a cool way to change up the formula a bit. Instead of found "footage" we get found photographs. That said, I also liked that they threw in some actual found footage right at the end, just for us diehards.

I also really like when fake documentaries work as documentaries, not just as gimmicks to keep the budget low. Using the sequence of photographs as the structure for recounting the events of that night was a nice touch.


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Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM

 

The Killing of a Sacred Deer [2017] * * * *

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[*Spoilers*]

I love how off-kilter Lanthimos's movies are. His characters are like Kubrick meets Lynch. Cold and weird. Their interactions and dialogue are always just a few degrees off from reality. Which is great because I never know where the story is going to go. It could literally go in any direction and I'd be like, "Okay, I'm going with it."

I think my two favorite things from this first viewing are:

1. Barry Keoghan. How did he portray meek and threatening at the same exact time? Damn.
2. The way the characters turned on each other at the end. Give this family their own season of Survivor. I would watch the shit out of that.

The only thing keeping this from a 5-star "loved it" rating for me was that final scene. I don't know what I wanted from the ending of this movie, but it was like he didn't use a punctuation mark at the end of his sentence. Maybe my feelings will change on a rewatch.


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