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What'd ya last watch? (Movies)

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Just finished watching a trio of Roger Corman/Vincent Price 60's horror flicks; "The House of Usher", "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Haunted Palace", to be exact. Really good shit, I can see why Stephen King himself praises Pit and the Pendulum as highly as he does. Made much more of an effort to indulge myself in as much horror content as I can in my free time this Halloween season, and I've been mostly getting by on AMC, Syfy and TCM (with some Netflix and Amazon Prime thrown in). It's nice to ease myself back into the holiday spirit this past month after a long spell of just letting Halloween pass me by like any other day these past six or so years.

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Watched a whole bunch of movies in theater since my "Angel Has Fallen" post, a bit too much for me to want to dive into right now, but I'll be sure to get to all that in a separate post soon. But, I will take this time to mention the last two movies I watched recently.

Playmobil the Movie: What a right mess this movie was. The usual "poor man's version of The Lego Movie" crack aside, this movie was just all over the place in the most bland ways possible. The whole beginning was, like, "0 - 100 real quick" kinda ridiculous, but it honestly coulda translated into something good if they knew how to tackle it right. They didn't tackle it right, so it's just this huge, pretty unnecessary dark area in an otherwise colorful and bubbly movie lmao. That...situation really reminds me a bit of Lilo & Stitch in a way, but that movie was just a lot better and tackled it in better ways. I also heard common criticisms about it's worldbuilding, which I can very much agree with. Lego Movie really went out of its way to flesh out all its lore and whatnot, and here it's just a messy hodgepodge of...stuff just happening without any rhyme or reason as we go along and it doesn't really explain how exactly (spoiler alert) these human characters were suddenly transported into Playmobil World in the first place. Even the villain felt like bargain bin Lord Business, minus the emotional undertones of that character's real purpose. I'm sure any proper world building they did have in store was being reserved for a sequel, something they were confident enough to tease at the end, but I don't think that's gonna happen. And finally, it was all sorts of weird to see Anya Taylor-Joy in a role like this. I guess I'm just too used to her in her usual dark roles in these darker movies like The Witch, Morgan, Split and Thoroughbreds. Plus I heard she apparently turned down a Disney show offer before, so she struck me as somebody who wouldn't settle into kiddy roles like this. But bless her heart for the effort she puts in here. Going into this, I figured she'd just be lending her voice to a Playmobil a character, but she has a live action role with a Disney-esque musical number and everything. It's both weird and hilarious at the same time, and contributes to the whole "zero to a hundred" thing I mentioned earlier. All in all, this could've been something at least decent with some real good morals to give with its subject matter, but it ended up being something close to a dumpster fire that hand feeds its morals pretty sloppily. At least I can say that I indeed watched the Playmobil Movie in theaters since it doesn't seem like many others are. Box office numbers aside, I was literally the only person there in the auditorium. If I was in the year-end list making business, this'll probably be mentioned somewhere on my worst surely.

Take Home Pay: So to help take the bad taste of the Playmobil Movie out of my mouth, I immediately bought a ticket to this right afterward. It's an action comedy from what I read, so I could've used a good laugh at that point. I ended up back in the same auditorium, in the same seat, but with slightly more people this time around, thankfully. An action comedy (pretty much all comedies in general) is always better to take in with others. This is a sorta local indie movie produced in Samoa/New Zealand. The theaters here tend to show these kinds of productions a lot of love, as they should given this is Hawaii. I can't help but admire and appreciate some good pacific dwelling folk making a good go at it  in the world of cinema. I seen the trailer on youtube beforehand and it looked about as low budget as you'd expect, but I thought they ended up doing a real good job with what they had. I really enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. Comedy was really on point, dialogue felt like I was just hanging with my Samoan friends' families really at points haha. A bunch of genuine laughs without having to get dirty or raunchy. Good, wholesome fun. Stuff that I (and the all other Samoan people watching there with me) can click with. That's just covering the comedy part, but the action? The fight choreography, especially for the final face off, was really well done. Actually had me on the edge of my seat a bit. The story itself was pretty solid and there was some genuine emotional depth thrown in here and there. Had some slow, lull-y parts around the end, but nothing too bad enough to really take away from it. All in all made for a good time at the theater. I'll definitely be on the lookout for anymore projects this crew does in the future. 

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"Promare": Very dazzling movie, well worth seeing on the big screen for the animation and visuals alone. Had to go out of my way to see this once I heard the same people behind Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill were also the creative force behind this, so you know the action sequences and comedy are very on point. Story-wise, idk. I feel like this could've benefitted a lot more as a series rather than a movie. Quite a bit felt sorta rushed and could've used more fleshing out, especially some of the characters. The twist villain also wasn't much of a twist at all and felt hella cliche. I did appreciate the references throughout to past works. And, well, I've just gotta point out the Fire Force similarities cuz it's there. Now I don't know the story of just which idea came about first, I just know that I was aware about Fire Force being a thing first. But to this movie's credit, they take a much different route with their elements that helps set it apart on its own. All in all, a great visual movie experience. Could've used some fine tuning in other areas.

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In Movie Theaters: the 2019 version of "Little Women". I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't already read the book or seen one of the earlier versions of the movie; just know that it has its happy moments, but also has some sad ones, just to let you know in advance.

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The Grudge (2019): Interesting ideas, very disappointing execution. Combine that with an over reliance on cheap, lame jump scares and just lame ghosts in general (like 2005 Amityville Horror rejects). I know they were trying to make it more about the actual curse itself rather than continuing to push Kayako and Toshio (something I feel they did as a way of trying to rectify and make different from those lackluster 2006 and 2009 sequels), but if they're gonna be throwing newer ghosts into the mix, couldn't they at least let them retain a semblance of the iconic and legit scary ass onryo look? I'm sure it has something to do with the curse crossing continents and cultures, but still mang, the classic look still unnerves tf outta me til this day and it's disappointing af to see "The Grudge" become yet another horror movie wi the same kinda ghosts you see in every other American horror movie. Even the audience I was with were saying the same thing afterwards. Also can't help but feel they wasted the talents of some of their stars (especially John Cho). The movie had such a great horror atmosphere and had ideas that did have potential, as well as having some good talent behind it, but a vital piece of the equation got lost somewhere along the way. I heard they're gonna be making an anthology tv series for The Grudge soon and this very much feels like a pilot or a testing of the waters of sorts. Hopefully that produces a better end product. Comparing this to another similar reboot of a Japanese property, Rings, from a couple years ago, I'd say this is better. I can't say that it's by much, but it is better than that piece of shit.

Knives Out: Thanks to the power of my Regal Unilimited card, I've watched this about 7 times now and I think I can say with the utmost certainty that this is my favorite movie of the year. I'm glad Rian Johnson could add this to his name after all the shit that went down with The Last Jedi.

Edited by Old Man Jenkins
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Little Women 

wow, can I even put into words how good this film was? Such a warm, beautiful, funny look at society and specifically women’s role in society during a time where they didn’t have the agency they deserved. What a script! What a musical score! Saoirse and Florence 100% deserve their Oscar noms (and Greta should’ve gotten a directing nod, ahem). It just made me so happy.

Spoiler

Beth’s death made me tear up, especially when Marmee starts shaking with tears 😭

 

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Bad Boys for Life: Very solid popcorn flick. Probably the best in the series so far, I'd say.

Uncut Gems: Originally watched this a few weeks ago. I've been wanting to watch it one more time while it's still in theaters, but I suppose that'll have to wait til a home release. It's almost as criminal as the criminal activity taking place in this movie how Sandler got snubbed by the Oscars. This definitely could've made for one hell of a redemption arc for the man after years of disappointing outputs and peddling out substandard Happy Madison fare. This was a chaotic, compelling ride down a slippery slope of avarice and self destruction, and Sandler made for the perfect man to help tell the story of this get rich or die trying tragedy.

Edited by Old Man Jenkins

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In movie theaters: "Jojo Rabbit", a movie that we DESPERATELY need around right now, due to a fact that it really throws a mirror up to certain aspects of our own society that is happening right now, and I hope it makes a LOT of people really question if THAT is really what they want to BE like. Also, very sad in places, but you'll have to go see for yourself to see what they are. DEFINITELY in the running for some Oscars, though.

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The Turning: Interesting way to end it, to say the least. Going off of that, I guess this movie is at its scariest when you decide to see it as a psychological horror movie, cuz seeing it as supernatural horror just ain't scary at all. Or you could just, ya know, read the original story or watch The Innocents if you really wanna get scared lol

The Gentlemen: Ended up liking this a lot more than I thought I would. Guy Ritchie is back to form here after the utter disappointment that was his King Arthur movie. Crimedy ensembles are definitely his forte.

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Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

shame this is getting harped down by the usual "get woke, go broke" argument (the overall marketing sure did it no favors, neither) when it comes to these all-female movies (some of the reasoning being real reaches to me) cuz this was actually pretty good by DCEU standards, even tho it's not the conventional Birds of Prey team that most fans are familiar with. Way better than I expected it to be. Kinda wish Mary Elizabeth Winstead was given more to do as Huntress tho, she was my favorite.

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Swiped

So I've decided I'm gonna try getting into movies on Netflix and I decided to watch Swiped. Honestly, I wanted to look for a gay romance movie but then this came up on my radar and had heard quite a bit of it and its director so I thought I'd watch it and see what all the hubbub was really about and I...I, uh, truly get what the problems are. But honestly this movie is just dumb; too dumb to even feel problematic in the slightest. The Noah Centineo type enlisting a nerd to make an app where guys can get laid with no strings attached just brings out a ton of stereotypes of both guys and girls. It's a shame there's no grey-area type where there're guys who want romance or girls who just want to get laid. But no, there's only one kind of character to each gender with the "subversion" being reserved for James and Hannah which isn't realistic; it's just meant to separate them from the others and I kinda hated it.

The characters are also incredibly one-dimensional and it says a lot about this movie when argubly the best part of it was in its second act when we see James' separated parents - sidenote: Leigh-Allyn Baker plays the mom...she was really good with what she was given, I have to say - using the app and how effective it is for both of them; again, it's based on gender stereotypes, but I thought it worked a lot better here with secondary characters in order to fuel James' morality check as opposed to with the other college girls that end up contributing to the third act which honestly has no climax. Other issues I had were with Lance's friends expositing like crazy towards the second half of the movie and Lance also apparantly having feelings for a girl out of fucking nowhere as if we were supposed to redeem his character in the first place. I mean, yes, it's dumb, but I would still expect the film to end with James and not Lance. I suppose if this film had any saving grace it would be the computer science teacher and the mom, who both stuck out amongst the forgettable secondary characters.

I didn't necessarily hate the movie Noah Centineo is eye candy, fight me, but it was stupid. There was definitely potential to do a satire here, but the movie ends up being comfortable with its sexist, outdated portrayals of both men and women that it isn't smart enough to be commenting on anything to do with the dating world. It's merely content with slandering hookup culture in the most basic, stereotypical way and that's about it. Probably doesn't help that the creator of this mess isn't necessarily doing herself or the movie any favors either from what I've heard.

Also I sat through the whole movie thinking Lance's friend Daniel was secretly gay and had a thing for James and I feel robbed that that wasn't the case...would've introduced a new dynamic into the movie. Wouldn't even need to have them together, maybe just Daniel coming out by the end of something, I don't know. Just anything to give the secondary characters something of note.

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