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Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM


Red Christmas [2016] * * *


Not many people know this, but Quentin Tarantino directed all the shots of people's feet.

Not going to make my annual watchlist but at least the filmmakers followed the formula:

Holiday + killing people with various household items + dumb decisions by the characters + twisted backstory = Slasher movie




Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM


Prevenge [2016] * * *


As a rule, I like to watch a movie knowing as little about it as possible -- nothing, if I can. Often, I'm rewarded for my ignorance. With "Prevenge", it bit me right in the ass. I spent the first third to half of the movie expecting some kind of sci-fi element, a precognitive revenge. Or at least a story about preemptive revenge.

So a simple story of an unborn baby talking her mother into revenge was a little disappointing. I'll split the blame on that one. (But I still want to see a real "prevenge" movie, so hurry up Hollywood and make that one for me, okay?)

Where the movie can take full blame is assuming that just because the main character is pregnant, I'll have sympathy for her. By being coy about her motivations, the script doesn't allow us to understand the horrible actions she's taking, and understanding is the basis of sympathy. I'm the last person who wants everything explained to me ("Kill List" comes to mind as a great example of a movie skillfully withholding information), but clearly this movie wants us on Ruth's side. Otherwise we're just watching an insane person for 90 minutes.

Those caveats aside, I really enjoyed the mix of horror, drama, and black comedy. Like Ben Wheatley, Alice Lowe has a real knack for off-kilter storytelling. And the story BEHIND this movie is absolutely amazing. Lowe wrote, directed, and starred in "Prevenge" all in her third trimester of pregnancy. AND she made it on a micro budget in something like 11 days??? It's been 3 years and I can't even finish writing my script!




Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM


Silent Night, Deadly Night [1984] * * *


On this rewatch, as the movie progressed through its final act at the orphanage, Jed and I each kept turning to each other, "I don't remember this scene, do you?" That's when we realized that this is usually the last movie we watch for our annual Christmas movie night, and we both fall asleep before the end. Well, high five! We made it through this time!

I first saw this one during the VHS slasher boom in the mid-1980s. I remember it feeling qualitatively different than the Big 3 franchises (F13, Halloween, Elm St). It had a sleaziness to it. Lots of these movies combined sex and violence, but I think the addition of a child witnessing the sex and violence made it feel wrong or dangerous in a way the others didn't. Needless to say, it made an impression on me and is probably why I still appreciate horror movies that push me outside my comfort zone ("Martyrs", for example).

Oh, and check out the bonus features on the new Scream Factory disc. There's an interview with the writer. I just loved his attitude about the movie and hearing his thoughts behind the writing of it.




Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM


Justice League [2017] * * * *


The absurdity with which the entertainment press has criticized the box office performance of this movie is, well, absurd. In what world is making nearly $100 million in 3 days a failure? I saw one headline that claimed the movie was "limping toward $500 million." Limping? For $500 million, I'd limp with broken glass in my shoes and a huge smile on my face.

It reminds me of the stock market. A company can have its best quarter EVER but if the market expected it to do better, the stock price falls. What?

Anyway, as a huge fan of "Batman v Superman", I was hoping enough of Snyder's vision would survive the Whedonization that Warner Brothers forced on the movie. Sadly, it didn't. But I still really liked it, for different reasons.

Visually, Whedon's scenes stick out like a sore thumb. I don't know if that's because he's no Zack Snyder or because the reshoots were rushed and underfunded. (That opening Batman scene on the rooftop looks like a soundstage from the 1980s.)

Whedon did inject a lot of humor, which I had fun with. It was also great fun to see these characters come together for the first time. Yes, more fun than "The Avengers". Marvel's core heroes (minus Thor) are bad-ass humans running around in costumes. DC heroes are archetypes and gods.

The Superman/Flash moment at the memorial site is probably one of my all-time favorite superhero movie moments. I felt tingles of glee, like a 10-year-old reading my favorite comics. Also loved the Wonder Woman intro scene at the bank, and the Themyscira set piece.

When it comes down to it, Marvel definitely has a winning formula for cranking these things out and making gobs of money. DC, to their credit, was trying to craft more theatrical, mythic stories. But they lost their resolve because the reality is that a "bad" opening weekend tarnishes their brand. But really, should we ever expect quality from a movie franchise? Or, like the McDonalds franchise, just a tasty treat that gives us cancer.




Isaak von Seggern [2018] FILM


Call Me by Your Name [2017] * * * * *


Call Me by Your Name has sort of become my anti-hero of 2017. Luca Guadagnino has created something that is everything movies haven't been for such a long time. It's not here to tell a tale of epic love, loss, and neglect, but it's also not here to mess up your day either, and that alone is an original idea as of late. It just... exists, first as a quiet dreamlike experience, but then as an outpouring of powerful emotions more than anything that has been put to screen for a long while. Horror films seem to kind of dominate lately, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with that (most of my favorite films this year were of the horror genre), I think it's pretty revealing of our culture and collective psyche that we are always interested in seeing something negative. Call Me by Your Name, a lush romantic tale about the reality of love set in a vibrant eighties Italy does not fit into the mold the industry has set out, and that is why it is so special. Strip away all of the inexhaustible greenery, the cyan blue water, the bicycle riding, the sensual statues, and Call Me by Your Name is nothing but pure emotion. No other film that I saw that came out this year can say that. It is so refreshing to see a movie that doesn't push some kind of narrative or ask you to even accept something when it is over except, perhaps, reality. It is only there to be witnessed in all of its melancholic and honest beauty. Films like this are not why I started watching movies, but why I continue to watch so many movies. Art like this is few and far between, so when something amazing like this comes along I feel it's important to at least recognize it in my own poorly worded way. This is what I aspire to. Call Me by Your Name is simply complex and altogether captivating, more so than anything I have seen since The Great Beauty. I will not forget it anytime soon.

I just realized that if you take out the transformers, the "I want to stay and fight" girl, and the Mark Wahlbergs, then Transformers: The Last Knight is also pure emotion, but I think we all know what I meant.




Biscoito18 [2018] FILM


Call Me by Your Name [2017] * * * * *


It's been over an hour since the movie ended and I still haven't been able to get back to normal. It's as if I've been charmed by it.

The feelings presented during all the stages of Elio and Oliver's summer love are so relatable that it's impossible not to remember moments that you felt like this. An emotional time travel.

"Call Me by Your Name" awakened in me a whole gallery of feelings that I hadn't felt in a long time. The wonderful speech of the father in the final part is as if he were reading my reflections on what I was feeling.

It's impossible to escape from youth to adulthood without having your heart broken at least once. It's an unbearable pain that blocks our throat and for which the only remedy is TIME. A good dose of it.

It's also natural to want to suffocate your feelings in the hope of avoiding to suffer with this pain again. But this solution charges a high price. After all, it's one of the main laws of the universe: every action has a reaction in the same proportion. The pain of the farewell is heartbreaking, but we never feel more alive than in the days we spent in love.

"Call Me by Your Name" made me feel young and in love again. An unforgettable, potent, scary, thirsting summer, which unfortunately isn't endless.




Biscoito18 [2018] FILM


It Comes at Night [2017] * * * *


"It Comes at Night" is totally focused on little details in the relationships between characters having to live in a situation of constant tension where any slight movement or word poorly expressed can lead to death.

Young director Trey Edward Shults did an excellent job of creating the atmosphere of eternal tension and lack of hope, hiding details in the corners of the camera (like a dark silhouette amidst the trees in the car ride scene), picking the right moment to show an impact image and filling the plot with possibilities of clashes, which, at the same time that develop the characters and make them interesting, do not let the film get monotonous even with such a small setting.

Speaking of the scenarios, it is beautiful to see how production works with the colors (the red door that functions as if it were a materialization of the danger of the outside world) and the light, using mainly an elegant oil lantern, which divides the rooms of the house and makes everything more atmospheric.

And as if that weren't enough, the direction is perfectionist, with well-framed angles and carefully using the "shaking camera".

It's a harrowing film because of the subject, but is also very pleasing to the eyes.

Just like "The VVitch", this movie is meant to be loved or hated.

The critics loved the movie, but most of the audience hated it (it received a "D" in CinemaScore). As with most A24 films, "It Comes at Night" is another divisive experience, focused on the characters and their feelings, and with a differentiated structure and narrative proposal.

I even understand that some people felt misled by marketing (which was brilliant, with two excellent posters and trailers that revealed very little of the plot), but I think the general audience is getting very comfortable and now they are going to theaters already with an idea of what they want to see and if they receive something different, they get angry about it.

This is so stupid. "It Comes at Night" may not be the zombie horror movie you hoped for, but it's obviously a notable and well-made psychological horror movie. Enjoy what it is, not what you wanted it to be.

And if you think about it, you'll see that the title makes reference to a main element of the plot and the epicenter of all misery in the third act: Travis's nightmares, which always come at night and are more than they appear to be.

"It Comes at Night" is a top-notch psychological horror with excellent performances, especially by Joel Edgerton and Riley Keough (her screams will break anyone's heart), clever production, and perfectionist direction. A delight to the eyes and a pleasant surprise to those who look for something special in horror movies. Something beyond pure distraction and free scares.




Biscoito18 [2018] FILM


Mulholland Drive [2001] * * * * *



David Lynch focuses on turning dreams into images, even if they seem meaningless or random. No one does it better, because he isn't attached to a central narrative logic.

He only attaches himself to the character in focus (Diane here) and analyzes the points of her history to distort them in a whirlpool of sensations transformed in pictures.

Whether she's sleeping or awake, Diane is always dreaming, and Lynch makes no distinction between what is "real" and what is "dream" because it doesn't matter. Diane's basic story will be told and the important thing is to show her feelings.

To understand the film, just remember our own dreams. It's amazing how Lynch can translate this into pictures.

When we wake up, we can understand the meaning of some parts, others are only a crazy series of memories, important or not, that the brain mixes in its nightly "check up" during heavy sleep.

In addition, to analyze the logic of the dream is necessary first the intimate analysis of the owner of the dream, and at that point Lynch makes things easier for us because Diane is a very common character and the dramas and clichés of LA are already widely known.

It's interesting to observe how Diane's dream mixes the genres and clichés of cinema with her memories. A horror movie at the diner, a mix of action and comedy involving the killer hired by her (that reminded me of "Pulp Fiction"), a classic Noir mystery with a femme fatale (Camilla) running away from mafiosos, and a collection of scenes with typical Hollywood's clichés, like a husband finding his wife in bed with the pool cleaner, a cowboy giving a moral lesson and, of course, the old tale of a young, innocent and good-hearted girl who comes to LA dreaming with fame as an actress.

In short, Diane's dream is like the movie of her life, strolling through various genres and happening just moments before her death (just like another famous Hollywood cliché).

The most fun and exciting part is analyzing the details of Diane's dream, that finds all the explanations in the second part of the film.

From easily comprehensible moments like the opening with Camilla fleeing her murder on Mulholland Drive which is an obvious mix between the street of the party in the director's house (where Diane's world collapsed completely) and the kill contract she made later, up to impressive details as the conversation between "Betty" and Coco where Coco says that Betty doesn't fool her in a clear re-imagination of the conversation with the director's mother in the party.

There are so many details that multiple views are required.

"Mulholland Drive" is deservedly considered by many as the best movie of the 21st century so far. David Lynch's achievement of capturing in images the surreal atmosphere of dreams with stunning details is a testament to the fact that cinema's ability to convey sensations is infinite, and it is limited only by the creativity of its director.

Just as Kubrick used to say: "If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed."




Biscoito18 [2018] FILM


Jeepers Creepers 3 [2017] *


A disgraceful waste of Jonathan Breck's great work as The Creeper. Terrible plot full of holes, HORRIBLE dialogue, ridiculous CGI, poor camera work...

Even Gina Philips's cameo was pathetic! They killed all the hype.

Years and years waiting for JC3: Cathedral and they decide to launch this bomb.

Jeepers Creepers is dead. Like the creature, the first two movies got the best parts while "Jeepers Creepers 3" is just the rotten remnant of its victims, which is useless!




Reviews by Morg [2018] FILM


Darkest Hour [2017] * * *


Between Isaak watching Murder on the Orient Express and my seeing Darkest Hour, I'd say has you covered for what to expect when you take your grandparents to the theaters this holiday season.

Gary Oldman turns in a fantastic performance as an alcoholic who's convinced he can save the world if he just never ever ever gives up. Through requesting his local friends go for a day of boating into WW2, Winston drinks and mumbles his way to popularity with the other kids in parliament.

In all seriousness, this is a career moment for Oldman, and he steps to the challenge. Through inches of prosthetics and makeup, he gives life and complexity to a historical figure that many, including myself, have tended to see through one dimension of roughness and veritable masculinity.

There are also a few moments of excellent camerawork throughout, particularly in use of focus. One scene in particular stands out in my mind: Churchill is sitting with his war cabinet, and his predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, is chewing him out over a refusal to consider peace talks with Hitler, a key plot point behind the entirety of the movie. As Churchill is being barraged by his ally, the camera does not focus on the man dealing harsh words in the background. Instead, the audience has nothing to focus on but the grief and frustration in Oldman's eyes, peering through the prosthetics into the past. This trick of camerawork and more span across the film, and make for easy digestion of the very raw material. Some clean and pretty tracking shots don't hurt either.

Unfortunately, I think there's just too much WW2 material around these days for this to stand out. With The King's Speech, Dunkirk, and all the other docudramas about this period of western history, there isn't too much room left for spending a mere week in the life of Winston Churchill anymore. It's a shame too, because Gary really did something special here.




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