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Posted on Jul 4, 2012 7:24:20 PM PDT
Finally got to sit down in front of my big-screen TV last night (it's a long story). Finally got to watch Pather Panchali.

Unbelievable! This film dips into the real with such skill it's almost like watching a documentary. This fact leads to a total immersion into the film, and the characters. Not a wasted shot, movement, word or moment. Such simplicity is this films genius, allowing the story to flow at a mesmerizing pace. This film can be summed up in one word: Life.

Genius. 10/10

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 7:47:49 PM PDT
'Pather Panchali'... no wasted gestures, no empty style, that's very true. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen.
I wish James Ivory and Wes Anderson (the most vocal Ray supporters) would pool their multi-Millions to help Criterion put out some hi-def discs of Satyajit Ray. Dude deserves it. So many masterworks that have never been on video, or are only in busted up old prints.
My favorite of of the Apu trilogy is 'The World of Apu'. Of course seeing #2, 'Aparajito', is essential.

Fun fact: both Ray and Kurosawa, at the ends of their life, proclaimed the Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, to be the greatest director in the world, and their natural successor.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 8:08:35 PM PDT
Luckily, I have parts 2 and 3 just waiting to be watched.

I was reminded of Kurosawa more than once while watching. There seemed to be similar dedication to the shot, and it's ability to tell it's own tale.

@Abbas Kiarostami
Did Ray also always wear sunglasses? That may explain the eyes of the three...always looking through a lens.
I gotta see more of Kiarostami's work. Those Persians got some skill.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 8:25:56 PM PDT
Re: Persians skill

Their economy of means sometimes produces the most vividly 'present' and meaningful storytelling per sq. inch on screen, anywhere to be found. It's a shame the best are being censored or (if they're lucky) being sent into exile.
the Makhmalbaf clan, Kiarostami, Majidi, Payami, Meshkini, and notoriously Jafar Panahi.
The imprisoned (by "house arrest") Panahi's last movie was smuggled out of Country by way of cake, like in an old Warner Brother gangster movie!

Posted on Jul 5, 2012 6:07:08 AM PDT
Jersey Girl says:
Watched two movies yesterday. One was a rental-New Year's Eve. What a horrible movie!!! Too many characters and so cliche'd. I wish I had listened to what others had said about it. Second was my new Blu Ray purchase of The Entity. I had never seen all of it before and it was ok. I am not quite sure if it is something I would pull out to watch once or twice a year or not. It is one of those "I've seen that" kind of movies.

Posted on Jul 5, 2012 6:17:16 AM PDT
Zolar Waka says:
I picked this up on the day of it's release and only got around to watching it last night!!!

Stake Land [Blu-ray], an excellent, low-budget zombie/vampire road movie. This type of thing has been done before, but very rarely this well. Of course, in all of it, I honed in on something small. I really enjoyed how the characters were linked by trinkets, small items they carried that came to signify that character after the that character gets killed/leaves, necklass, figurines, etc. Without much dialogue, just a small focus on these trinkets, in combination with better-than-average acting for this genre and a really good film score, this film underscored the power of connections between the characters, the loss felt when the characters were absent, and the need to keep moving on, without dwelling on the loss too much. This was a really good movie. Pretty gory. (8+/10)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2012 6:27:30 AM PDT
Jersey Girl,
One thing you have to admit, 'The Entity' was not one of those "I've heard that" kind of movies: I've never heard a horror movie with that kind of score. And the acting was round-the-board excellent, which isn't altogether mind-blowing for a horror movie, yet still a rare thing.

So, JG (and by the way, nice to see you back on the forum,) what movies do you think 'The Entity' resembles most?
When it came out, I think most people thought it very original then. I know Scorsese puts it in the front rank of horror movies.
I'm curious which movies it put you in mind of?....

Look forward to hearing back. Cheers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2012 10:27:50 AM PDT
Jersey Girl says:
I did enjoy it..don't get me wrong. I think that it was very different. I enjoy older horror movies compared to most released today. The music was great! It reminded me of the first time I saw the original Omen or The Exorcist. Something creepy set to very original music. I also enjoy Psycho very much and I think the music also sets that one apart. To say it resembles any of them though...no. It is a unique movie in that a woman is physically attacked by an entity that is never seen. Sometimes the scariest things are those that we do not see but feel...don't you agree? I will take all of these movies any day over Saw and the likes of those.

Posted on Jul 5, 2012 10:53:15 AM PDT
C. Hillman says:
The last movie I watched all the way was....Despicable Me.

from beginning to ending I...could...not...stop....laughing. Guess I needed a good laugh

I'd give it 8/10

just thinking of it writing this makes me smile :)

Posted on Jul 5, 2012 11:04:42 AM PDT
M. Martin says:
An "unknown" movie, yet so much fun ... American Dreamer with Jobeth Williams.

great actors in every role, and pure fun.

Posted on Jul 5, 2012 5:36:40 PM PDT
MJEH says:
"1776" (1972)

How could anyone NOT like this move...?!?!? Okay, so it bends the truth a little for dramatic effect, but the story and the songs!!! This movie is an annual tradition with me, just like "Wonderful Life", "Rudolph", and "Charlie Brown" at Christmas.

Posted on Jul 5, 2012 7:58:10 PM PDT
stevign says:
~ Moneyball ~

Just saw it for the 1st time and I loved it. Excellent cast.......and yes to all you Brad Pitt haters out there, he was excellent too. The dramatic story is unique (based on a true story) and like all sports movies, it is about much more than the sport itself. For not giving way to any sappiness, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiAHlZVgXjk

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2012 7:58:50 PM PDT
stevign: I concur. Moneyball was excellent.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2012 7:59:52 PM PDT
stevign says:
(Thumbs up)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2012 12:01:34 AM PDT
Jersey Girl: "Sometimes the scariest things are those that we do not see but feel...don't you agree?"<

You hit right on it. It's that inexplicable fear of the unknown, that's something that no amount of special effects and ghoulish makeup can replicate...
A well-conjured fright based on atmosphere, mystery. That's why the horror films of the '30s/'40s still hold up. If they SHOWED more, we could call them dated and campy, like so many monster movies of the 'Fifties and onward were. But because of their art of withholding certain simulations, they are able to evoke a far deeper menace.

Movie like 'I Walked with a Zombie', 'Cat People', The Unseen', will always be classics. Yeah, I always prefer the old school horror and fantasy movies. I don't need a bunch of gore squirting out at me to feel I'm getting my money's worth!

That said, I'm still a big fan of 'Flesh for Frankenstein', which I paid $17 to see in true 3-D, Halloween 2002, that's more than I've ever paid for any other single-admission movie. And I'd do it again too.

Posted on Jul 6, 2012 7:27:46 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jul 6, 2012 7:29:18 AM PDT]

Posted on Jul 6, 2012 3:54:28 PM PDT
Re: "[Deleted by Amazon 8 hours ago]"

I bet it was something good.

Posted on Jul 6, 2012 4:26:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 6, 2012 4:37:04 PM PDT
'Assault on Precinct 13' (John Carpenter).

Saw it *again* last night, because we're playing the Favorite Cult Film game, and I wanted to be sure where it stood in my mind.
I like it enough to re-watch it, with and without director's commentary. It's an exploitation movie classic, by the director's own admission equal parts 'Rio Bravo' / 'Night of the Living Dead' homage/rip-off. And its second half is 5-star cinema all the way, as good as 'Dawn of the Dead' or 'The Warriors' in its action inventiveness on a low, low, low budget!

There are plenty of excellent things in the first half, things they would never shoot today the way Carpenter chose to shoot them, with a classical old-Hollywood elegance of dolly pans, and leisurely pace, not to mention the anti-PC content of murdering a little mopette Disney star in cold blood!

Austin Stoker and Darwin Joston make an authoritative duo, and as good as any in a Carpenter movie. Laurie Zimmer is worthy of any Howard Hawks woman. What ever happened to her promising career? Too unique for Hollywood. More on that at the end of this post.

I have some problems with the script and editing in the first half (especially in the moments before all hell breaks loose at the police station, e.g.: Nancy Loomis giggling "Chaney just fell down..." after seeing him struck down and lifeless on the ground... unfortunate line-reading and cringe-worthy editing. In fact, I'm surprised Carpenter was so taken with her in his commentary, and the fact he used her again in his other movies; he was so right on about Zimmer, but Nancy Loomis is the weakest link of his actors, and tends to spoil the scenes where she has to speak.)

Facts about Laurie Zimmer's acting career:
>"Zimmer had a brief acting career during the mid-to-late 1970s. After playing the female lead opposite Darwin Joston and Austin Stoker in 'Assault on Precinct 13', Zimmer appeared (as Laura Fanning) in two 1977 French films: Jean Eustache's 'Une sale histoire ("A Dirty Story"') and Charlotte Szlovak's 'Slow City, Moving Fast' ....
Shortly thereafter, Zimmer's career stalled, and, after playing her fourth role (in 1979's television movie 'Survival of Dana'), she permanently retired from acting."

>"Zimmer lives near San Francisco, California, has become a teacher, is married, and has two sons."<

So, the film gets a 9.3/10 from me today. 0.2 taken off for the editing and Loomis problems. This is what Independent genre filmmaking looks like at its best, deep in the heart of the 1970s.

Posted on Jul 7, 2012 9:16:33 PM PDT
Sam Raimi's Crimewave [VHS].

Can be summed up in one word: Wacky. Ya like wacky, this film's for you. Ya don't like wacky, avoid like the plague. Raimi has fun with the camera, and all the actors ham it up (none more so than the king of ham, Bruce Campbell). The dialogue is stock cliche, but as this was the intention, it passes (I had to look that up as I couldn't get my head around the fact that the dialogue had come from the minds of the Brothers Coen). In defense of the film and it's makers, supposedly the studios butchered this film, sending Raimi half mad in the process. There are worse ways to spend a lazy Sunday arvo than watching this early Raimi flic. 6/10

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 5:38:35 AM PDT
Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco

Acerbic, and sharp-witted. A kind of meander through the disco-going lives of some young professionals just starting to find their way in the world; still trying to find out who they are, what they want, and whether they even like each other. Great selection of Disco tunes, and an across the board high level of performances (with Chris Eigeman standing out as a man still not sure whether to be true in his own self as he isn't sure his own self is worthy of the truth!). One flaw that stands out: this movie is set during the early 80's, but feels and looks more like the early 90's. No big whoop, but a more genuine 80's re-creation would have helped. Coming in at 7.3/10. Now let's go catch that love train!

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 7:18:01 AM PDT
just curious....why have folks moved the party to this "Rate a Movie" thread, and why have folks semi-abandoned the "Review Your Last Movie" thread?

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 10:19:57 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 8, 2012 10:20:43 AM PDT
SPOILER ALERT!!!!

Endeavour, 2012-In all honesty, I was hoping to like this Masterpiece Mystery effort from ITV better than I did. I am not a fan either of Inspector Morse, or his protégé Inspector Lewis. The Oxford they inhabit seems to me to be alien to the great University city I know from both experience and literature. (If there were that much mayhem at either of the ancient British universities, it would interfere seriously with their major occupations-the instruction of the young, the pursuit of Scholarship, the arts of gossip and academic politics, and, perhaps most significantly, the enjoyment of wines and spirits laid down by the wise actions of fellows dedicated to such pursuits. One wonders why Colin Dexter saw it fit to visit so much mayhem on Oxford-perhaps a cheeky bit of interuniversity revenge, since he is a Cantab, an Old Boy of Christ's College, Cambridge.) The most convincing of all Oxford mysteries remains Gaudy Night-since it springs naturally from the academic soil.

However, I was hoping for, at the very least, a reasonably well constructed procedural. Alas, my hopes were roundly dashed. To put it charitably, Endeavour, taken as an exercise in the mystery genre, is a mess. In more general dramatic terms, it's a mass of clichés, with a screenplay riddled with errors of fact and emphasis. Finally, the technical aspects and acting are not particularly noteworthy. Frankly, I find the excitement it has occasioned in some quarters incomprehensible, except in one minor, and irrelevant, way. In order to demonstrate this, I must reveal a great deal of the plot, and its solution. So, consider this a red flashing SPOILER ALERT, as those who become peevish at such things would call it, and, if you do not wish to know the plot, or its solution, stop here. I will even give you some blank space to escape.

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There. Now that we have taken care of that matter, on to business. It's not easy to write a good mystery. It's a genre that demands a fair amount of pure technical expertise, in logic and plausibility and understanding expectations-rather like writing sonnets or other fixed formed in verse. The initial expectation in the mystery story is an interesting problem that is both plausible and ingenious. Note that we must have both. If the solution is too simple, there is no pleasure; if the solution is implausible, the reader, or viewer, will be irritated. In the case of Endeavour, we have a puzzle that turns out to be ingenious-but completely implausible.

Newly minted DC Morse (Shaun Evans) arrives in Oxford, to be assigned to a missing persons case-the disappearance of a fifteen-year-old girl, Mary Tremlett. Not his first time-he was reading Greats at Oxford, but left, for incomprehensible reasons, first for the Royal Signal Corps and subsequently the police. His superior-DS Arthur Lott (Danny Webb), straight from central casting as corrupt and jealous of any intelligence or initiative on the part of his charges-cynically notes that it's likely to be a murder. And so it turns out to be-but not before another victim, this time an apparent suicide-student Miles Percival-turns up by the river.

(One initial lapse in logic, the first of many-Morse is assigned to Central Oxford, but Mary lived in Cowley-the industrial section of North Oxford-and her body was discovered outside of the city. Perhaps not the most logical bit of jurisdiction-but I am getting ahead of myself.) Our intrepid DC Morse digs at the case, and discovers the first of many anomalies-Mary has a stack of hard cover poetry books, next to her bed, bookmarked with crossword puzzles. Subsequently, our attention turns to Dr. Rowen Stromming (Richard Lintern), Percival's tutor, who is married to opera star Rosalind Stromming (Flora Montgomery), for whom Morse has a schoolboy passion-in particular, for her recording of Madama Butterfly. It is worth pointing out here several other anomalies. Stromming has a doctorate-somewhat unusual for a circa 1960s Oxford academic. Furthermore, he is wealthy, complete with decorative wife and substantial country home-again, decorative for the camera, wildly uncommon were it not for some personal inherited wealth. Finally, it is entirely unclear as to what subject Dr. Stromming teaches. It would be logical to assume that it would be Greats-Oxford's term for the classics-since we see him doing a tutorial on a topic from Plutarch, and Percival is noted as reading Greats-but everything else points to English as his subject.

To anatomize the plot in great detail from this point onwards would weary both the writer, and the reader, and so I will begin to untangle it. Colin Dexter's novels are full of red herrings, and there is a veritable boatload of them in Russell Lewis' screenplay. Stromming, Percival, and Ms. Tremlett form an irregular triangle. Stromming, because of Pygmalion-like wager with another don, has been tutoring Mary as a potential student. The books of poetry are all English poetry, not the classics-and, as Morse notes, valuable first editions to boot. (Another logical lapse-since when does one give one's first editions away in so cavalier a matter?) Stromming met Mary at a college function because she was Percival's girlfriend. And-need one say it?-Stromming is having an affair with Mary, and using crossword puzzles in the Oxford Mail to set up assignations via references in the books of poetry. He is the regular Saturday crossword contributor under the name of Oz-short of Ozymandias, referring to the famous sonnet of Shelley, signaled by an obvious prop in his office. Mary is found dead near the point of assignation coded into the crossword.

Confused at this point? We have reached yet another anomaly-Mary is presented as being not particularly bright, and the crosswords are of the British allusive and punning variety. It stains credibility that she could figure out the necessary clues.

Well, we have the triangle, with two of the three vertices dead. But that's not all. Morse has attracted the attention of DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam, giving perhaps the only remotely convincing performance in this exercise) and the search widens. Not only has Mary been dating an undergraduate, and having an affair with a don, but she has gotten herself into a ring of degenerates running sex parties, headed by (again straight from central casting) oily car dealer Teddy Samuels (Charlie Creed-Miles), who, in consequence, has most of the police force, university powers, and local gentry in his pocket. And then it emerges that the time of death might be 12 hours different than it first appeared to be.

I will spare the reader further complications, and move right to the solution-which further strains credibility to the limit. Ex-opera star Rosalind (toward whom, in one hideously embarrassing scene, Morse aims a particular inept pass) knew about the affair. She's no Butterfly in dealing with a rival. She sets up an elaborate plot, switching crossword puzzles to change the point of assignation, killing Mary when she arrives (with an antique Webley which was lying about the house), and then killing Miles in broad daylight with the same gun by the river. Because, you see, she's been having an affair with Miles as a way to set up the murder! A point for which no real foundation has ever been laid-a significant violation of the mystery story principle of playing fair with the reader. All to get the husband back. She becomes Butterly only in the end by hanging herself in her cell, thereby having the Crown some considerable time and money. At least the writer could have the decency to link her to a more strong-minded operatic character-Brunnhilde, perhaps, or Medea-who would do terrible things for love. But "Un bel di" is a pretty, and sentimental aria, and something even musical illiterates might recognize. Did the writer forget that Morse's opera of choice is Wagner?

M'lud, the prosecution has laid out the case, and would ask you to instruct the jury to bring a verdict of guilty against the writer for gross fictional malfeasance.

But it actually gets a bit worse. There is not merely an implied whiff of corruption in the University and the society in which it functions-it's a stench. A former fellow student of Morse, now a don at his old college, says to Morse at one point "You were never Oxford material. Too bloody decent by half." (I might add, something that I doubt a don would ever say.) A blanket condemnation of a great university, which this viewer, at least, finds cynical-and perfectly moronic. (Russell Lewis, the writer, is utterly tone-deaf to the rhythms of academic life.)

Other matters? We have the by-the-numbers handheld camera. Shaun Evans, as Morse, is scrawny and vulnerable, and frankly makes no sense as a character. The relationship with Thursday is again strictly by the book. The exposition is choppy; the logic defective; the pudding over-egged to a fault; and the cynical undercurrents-making Morse out to be (metaphorically) one of the seven Just Men destined to save the world-unacceptable.

Only a mawkishly sentimental attachment to the character of Morse could justify this absurd farrago-the moment at the end when Morse looks in an automobile mirror and sees his future self is one of the silliest things I have ever seen.

And Endeavour? Morse's first name.

I cannot say how depressing I find it that this mess have been picked up for a full season. It's a sad commentary on the state of British television. The average episode of NCIS makes far better sense-and is far more engaging.

3 out of 10-and I don't even know why I am being this generous. What a mess.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 10:55:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 8, 2012 11:10:34 AM PDT
Hikari says:
Mr. Smith--

For such a roundly depressing mess as you find "Endeavor" to be, one must wonder how much of your valuable time it took to compose 14-and-a-half paragraphs on it, not to mention the 90-minutes it took to soldier on through to the end. I am mildly surprised that, given your previously stated animosity toward all things Colin Dexter-related, you'd have bothered with this much of an investment.

But I note, only 'mildly', since negative reviews are so much more fun to write than the positive ones, especially for you.

That "Endeavor" is Morse's first name shouldn't be a spoiler for anyone, since it was let slip in the previous series some time ago, and is made a little inside joke for Inspector Lewis in his pilot movie. Morse's sainted mother was a Quaker, and in the Quaker tradition, she named her son for the Christian virtue she most wished for him to embody. He must have found this maternal hope cumbersome, since he refused to use his first name, to the point of answering to "Pagan" rather than the moniker his mother gave him.

I can only hope that readers will take both of our reviews into consideration when making up their own minds about the success of this "Endeavor". Since you find character study anathema in the detective genre, viewing it as extraneous to the action, I think you tend to miss great perfomances when they are in front of you. Of course, the fact that both Mr. Stith and I are very enthusiastic for Endeavor might be weighing into your assessment somewhat. Especiallly that bit about 'mawkishly sentimental attachment to the character of Morse'. I have no rejoinder to that except to say that attachments are by their nature sentimental and without them, we lack a core element of our humanity.

You write,

" . . .(If there were that much mayhem at either of the ancient British universities, it would interfere seriously with their major occupations-the instruction of the young, the pursuit of Scholarship, the arts of gossip and academic politics, and, perhaps most significantly, the enjoyment of wines and spirits laid down by the wise actions of fellows dedicated to such pursuits."

I could level the same charge with more cause, frankly, against "Midsomer Murders". Why is it MORE plausible to you that the tiny villages that make up the fictional sleepy rural county of Midsomer, with its two detectives on patrol, both frankly from the Sgt. Plod school of detection--DCI Barnaby is a genial, likeable man, but no Sherlock Holmes is he--that's why he's been posted to the country and is 'Chief' over exactly one Detective Sargeant. And yet, this faintly bumbling man oversees more murder inquiries in the course of one week than the London Met murder squad. If we are aiming for 'realism', that sure doesn't pass the smell test. Of course, if Barnaby didn't fall out of his door into a new murder on the weekly, we wouldn't have a program. But to say it's LESS realistic than that for murders to occur in the environs of Oxford and its university? Sir, your pronounced bias is showing. You've been in the hotbed of academe . . .no professional jealousies there? No motive or opportunity for illicit, improper relations with pupils or cheating, scandal, blackmail? That's b@ll@cks. I find a lot more cause for those things in that world than I do among the prosaic villagers of Barnaby's patch.

Mr. Dexter was a product of academe, and he wrote the world he knew, as most successful authors do. If your logic holds true to Midsomer, then it was evidently Caroline Graham's intention to 'visit a cheeky bit of intervillage revenge' on the Home Counties and their twee vision of bucolic civility. Sounds like an arrogant Londoner to me. :)

If I were given a choice, I'd be a Cantab, too. If both Dexter and Hathaway are Cambridge men, then mark me down for Cambridge. He might have as easily set his stories at his own alma mater, but perhaps he was worried about being sued for libel. I'm sure Cambridge is not exempt from the ills of Oxford. In fact, other than a different campus location, I'm sure they are depressingly similar.

P.S. Note to the room: My review of "Endeavor" can be found over on the Review the Last Movie You Watched thread, where it belongs. :) :) :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 11:02:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 8, 2012 11:05:54 AM PDT
Hikari says:
@MG
j>>>ust curious....why have folks moved the party to this "Rate a Movie" thread, and why have folks semi-abandoned the "Review Your Last Movie" thread?

I wondered the same thing. It seems at best extraneous to have this one. The other one is nowhere near full. I've posted some responses on here, but out of loyalty to our first thread, roundly refuse to post any movie reviews here, out of principle.

Even if the thread architect is Sloany . . .er, "Snowphish" . . which I had to go back just now to look up. I guess we will have to ask him why he decided to steal the thunder from "Review the Last Movie You Watched".

So, Snowphish . . what have you to say for yourself? If the other thread dies, you realize it will be your fault.

P.S.-- Your daughter is adorable. And I see you were telling the truth about being a ginge. :) When did you put that up?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 11:16:56 AM PDT
Hikari,

I am on your side!! I really enjoyed Endeavour, and think Shaun Evans is a pleasure to watch as the young Morse. William has nitpicked through a programme that nobody forced him to watch? Maybe he should stop watching British programmes, as he obviously thinks they are too inferior for him to deign to watch. I suggest he sticks to David Caruso, and leave the wonderful John, Kevin, Laurence and Shaun to us.

By the way, I have always been a Cambridge supporter, especially in the Boat Race. :)
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