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  1. A movie watchers blog

    Basil The Great Mouse Detective (1986) a.k.a The Adventures of the Great Mouse Detective When the toy maker Hiram Flaversham is kidnapped, his daughter Olivia turns to Basil of Baker Street, the great mouse detective. At the same time, a mouse returning from the war, Dr. David Q Dawson, is on the look out for a place to stay. Elsewhere, the dastardly Ratigan has cooked up his most diabolical scheme yet. Mondays are a difficult night to watch anything more than an hour or so in length. Last week we went with The Sword in the Stone, and this week we picked Basil. It's a fun adventure and the shadow of Sherlock Holmes is never far away (quite literally). The story essentially serves as a Basil/Dawson origin, as well as introducing us to Basil's greatest nemesis, Ratigan, voiced with delicious delight by Vincent Price. Barrie Ingham, as Basil, is just the right amount of smarts and pompousness. Dawson, serving as our eyes and ears into the world, is down to earth and dependable. Despite being made in 1986, the animation reminded me very much of 101 Dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp. It's filled with detail, but the dull palette means we miss a lot more than we normally would. There's a couple of great sequences, including one in a toy shop and a climactic battle within the cogs of Big Ben. There's also some questionable moments that almost certainly would have gone over the head of anyone under ten (a bar room brawl and a burlesque dance routine). At around 75 minutes, the story works nicely, and it's a shame this wasn't more popular. The songs are kept to a minimum and the picture doesn't shy away from danger and death. A slight but enjoyable feature.
  2. A movie watchers blog

    No, I know the corridor scene because it's been mentioned so many times elsewhere, but I've not actually seen the whole movie. As for not seeing any Korean movie before - no idea why really. That said, there are so many movies I've never seen (an embarrassing amount and type). Thanks for the all recommendations. I can't say I'll go on a Korean movie watching spree, but at least I know what to look for now.
  3. A movie watchers blog

    The Villainess (2016) Sook-hee is a deadly assassin who is captured by an intelligence agency. They make her an offer - give them ten years of service as a sleeper agent, and they will give her freedom at the end of her time This is, I think, the first Korean movie I've seen. It showed up on Netflix and I'm sure I'd heard it was good so gave it a shot. This was a stunning movie. The opening five minutes, playing out like a first person, then third person shooter, may look gimmicky, but it contains some of the most frenetic fights scenes I've ever witnessed. Fast, brutal and brilliantly shot. It takes the hallway scene from Oldboy and then triples it. And then just keeps on going until you're as breathless as the assassin herself. The story is then told in flashbacks to different points of Sook-hee's life, as well as her day to day at the agency. These sections are cold, unforgiving and never less than brutal. A final blow in one scene made me physically jump in my chair. Kim Ok-bin played the role fantastically, a combination of coldness and calm, and a skill (and near blinding rage) unlike almost anything else. But with that, such heart that you begin to feel her pain and rage. The story continues to layer itself as cracks begin to appear on all sides. I won't say more than that, but the story plays out very well. The violence is full on, and while the film doesn't go out of its way to glorify things, it doesn't shy away either. The action sequences are so well done, and often descend into flashes of swords, blood and painful deaths. While never quite emulating that opening five minutes, each set piece is fast and bloody. There's also an amazing shot in a wedding dress. There are definite comparisons to La Femme Nikita, but I think the film more than earns the right to stand on its own. Blistering action, a good story and a superb lead.
  4. A movie watchers blog

    Turbo Kid (2015) In a post apocalyptic world, a comic book loving kid meets and is befriended by a naive girl called Apple. But soon they find themselves at the mercy of the tyrannical Zeus, who rules over the wastelands, grinding all who stand before him into precious water. Can Turbo Kid save the day? This was a major homage to 80s sci-fi, with an amazing amount of gore and blood, in the vein of Braindead and Bad Taste. Even the opening credits seemed like the sort of thing you'd expected to have seen on the front of Megaforce or Spacehunter (and more splash screen credits than I think I've ever seen on one movie). This was a Canadian/New Zealand co-production and seems to have been largely shot in and around a quarry somewhere. Munro Chambers plays the kid, a loner who is reluctantly befriended by Apple, a free spirited, naive girl. The character of Apple swings between annoying and sweet, while on what seems like a lot of caffeine. The cowboy was good fun too, with his gruff, no nonsense attitude. The real show is Michael Ironside as Zeus, playing up the part of the 80s sci-fi villain to the hilt. He's not that far away from his Spacehunter character to be honest. Zeus' mute sidekick, Skeletron is also suitably vicious, with weaponry (and a look) that wouldn't have been out of place in Mad Max 2. As mentioned, the effects are incredibly over the top, with heads/arms/bodies and goodness knows what else, gushing blood when they're severed or cut. The film wisely avoids directly playing up the 80s angle too much - we're not seeing Back to the Future posters or much in the way of 80s toys strewn about the place - but there are plenty of influences and references. The soundtrack was good, if a little overbearing at times. Mostly synth, with a power ballad opening. I think the directors made exactly the film they wanted to make - and I should have loved it, but somewhere it fell short. The Kid and Apple's relationship was nicely handled and became the core of the film. It was entertaining enough for what it was, but even now, twenty minutes after watching it, I'm struggling to recall half of what happened. I think it tried a bit too hard, not giving itself room to be its own thing. And when it had a half decent idea, it tended to cover it in gore and blood just to bring it back to what the directors wanted it to emulate. It's rare to see a film made with such love though, credit to all for what they achieved.
  5. A movie watchers blog

    Tragedy Girls (2017) Spoilers - and major spoilers in the tags. Two girls, Sadie and McKayla run a website reporting on some local murders. Not getting the attention they want, they begin their own killing spree. This felt like a combination of Scream and Heathers for the Instagram generation. It's very knowing, and even references another movie after one particularly bizarre kill. The leads (Brianna Hildebrand & Alexandra Shipp) are very good and the supporting cast, which included Craig Robertson and Kevin Durand were fine. Some of the kills were brutal and gory, and the girl's reactions seem to fit perfectly with how the current generation would react. It does use the website/Twitter/text message thing a little bit, but it's not overdone and isn't really the main thing after a while. A subplot with another killer makes for a good distraction but I'm not sure it was really needed. I'm really not sure how I felt about this one. It's a hard one to talk about because you're seeing 'fun' kills, and they work within the context of the movie. It was well made, bloody and funny in places, but the tonal shift about 2/3 moved my opinion somewhat. Up to that point the kills were inventive in a Final Destination/Scream kind of way. But the shift made the film into something else - all the earlier stuff gets put to the side and I felt like it had become cruel, Yes, a well made picture, good leads, good kills, but perhaps just not for me.
  6. A movie watchers blog

    Good Time (2017) After a botched robbery leaves his mentally challenged brother in jail, Connie attempts to raise $10,000 bail money to secure his release - all the while being pursued by the police. A tense, nightmarish ride through a single night. It's grim, gritty and neon soaked, with so many amazing night time shots of a New York you almost never see. It's a fascinating study into people you probably wouldn't want to associate with, but there's a strong bond between Connie and his brother Nick at the heart of the movie. Things go from bad to worse but the film never once plays that up - it seems to relate it in a very matter-of-fact kind of way. Each misfortune or error just ratchets up the tension and desperation. I don't think the film does anything you won't have seen before, but it is played out so very well. I haven't seen much of Robert Pattinson's work before, but whatever he's known for is a world away from this. He's desperate to the point of doing literally anything to get the money. And he plays the character so well that you really should hate him, and yet he's got heart, spirit. Maybe that's a product of his situation and his love for his brother, but it works incredibly well. Ben Safdie doesn't get as much screentime (he also co-directs) but gives a really great performance as Nick, scared, frightening, but trusting in his brother's intentions. Jennifer Jason Leigh has a small role that both jangles your nerves and annoys - but that is the character, not the performance. The night looks amazing, for all the wrong reasons. The neon, the bizarre apartment lighting and a location late into the film look stunning. This might have been enough but my god the soundtrack is simply sublime. It might sound ridiculous, but the soundtrack really is a third or fourth character. It works brilliantly with what's happening on the screen. It's synth, with splashes of John Carpenter and a few other influences. Superb stuff. This isn't a film for everyone - I'm not sure I would say I liked it as such, there's little sympathy for the characters. The boiled down story is slight, and the central plot seems superfluous to the struggle. However, it is an incredibly well made, well acted picture, that cliched as it sounds, is about the journey rather than the destination. Edit: Goodness, the poster on Letterboxd for this movie is shockingly bad.
  7. A movie watchers blog

    Yes, I was concerned at that point about the tone the film would take, but once it got onto the train, it calmed down a bit. The overhead shots reminded me of 90s Amiga point & click adventures.
  8. A movie watchers blog

    Yes, couple of years ago - loved it.
  9. A movie watchers blog

    Yes, the above the carriage shots were a bit annoying.
  10. A movie watchers blog

    The film itself is insane, but man, those opening 15 minutes are amazing. I also loved Revenge of the Ninja back in the day. I've definitely seen Enter the Ninja but can't remember anything about that.
  11. A movie watchers blog

    Murder on the Orient Express (2017) The famed detective, Hercule Poirot, boards the Orient Express on his way back to London. His hopes for a relaxing journey are cut short when a man in the next compartment is found murdered. With so many suspects, alibis and motives, who can Poirot trust? This was a sumptuous production, with great performances across the board. I wasn't quite sure about Branagh at first, his accent really threw me, but it quickly clicked into place, and I found myself really enjoying his performance and the detective's theatrics. The supporting cast were all equally good, and seemed to actually get better as the layers of evidence and lies were presented and torn apart. It's shame they didn't all get a little longer to shine, but I think that would have harmed the picture. We got to know what we needed to know. I think Michelle Pfeiffer came off the best and Daisy Ridley made for a good sparring partner to Poirot. I'd say only Johnny Depp was a little weak, mainly because he seemed to be playing a character, while the others all but became their characters. I hadn't ever seen another adaptation and I didn't know the story, so while I thought the ending was initially a bit of a stretch, when I read up, it's very faithful to the book. The details of the Express were very well done, and the film had a surprising amount of tension given it was essentially set in a handful of locations. The scenery we did see looked amazing. No real criticism to be honest, it was very good story telling, presented with the best production values and cast that money could buy. We perhaps didn't quite need the sequel baiting ending or Poirot's explanation of his skills, but these were utterly minor things. A well made, well cast, thrilling mystery. (As an aside, if we're going to end up with a Poirot franchise or cinematic universe, I do hope we get a new version of Murder by Death at the end of it all)
  12. Thank you for the info, let me have a think!
  13. A movie watchers blog

    Justice League (2017) With Superman dead, the world is thrown into chaos. A new enemy rises, intent on reuniting the mother boxes. Elsewhere, Batman and Wonder Woman realise they can't take on this threat alone, and set about building a team of super heroes - both old and new. Spoilers This was a mess of a movie, with a few great moments that went a little way to redeeming it. Affleck wasn't half as good as he was in Batman Vs Superman. Even with the few lighter moments, he just seemed tired and bored of the whole affair. I don't watch The Flash TV show so I don't know how the characters compare, but I thought Ezra Miller was fine in small doses, but then they'd add a daft line or comment, and the character would annoy me again. I never quite understood why every time he moved fast, the film had to slow down. I get it was to show off what he was doing, but it seemed we barely saw him as The Flash. Aquaman, I don't know, I just didn't like the character to be honest. Again, I don't know how much he differs from the comic books, but like Wayne, he just seemed more bored until the very ending. Cyborg I'd heard a lot of bad things about, but I thought he was about OK. I guess they chose him because he was integral to the plot, but he felt like a weak choice despite an alright performance. Gal Gadot I think was the best of the bunch, and you can see after the success of WW, she was a lot more front and centre to the action. I thought she was great and handled the action and the quieter moments well. Jeremy Irons was great too but we didn't get enough of him. As for Henry Cavill - he had a couple of proper Superman moments, but ultimately I don't think they even needed him in the movie. As I saw elsewhere, maybe him being the bad guy would have made a far more interesting feature. Like Brandon Routh, I don't mind them as Clark/Superman, but goodness, they need to make a film worthy of the character. The CGI moustache thing wasn't quite as noticeable on a smaller screen too. Amy Adams really wasn't given much to work with and while I like her as an actress, I don't think she's suited to being Lois Lane - at least not from what we saw here. I felt more emotion from Clark reuniting with his mother than any of the screen time he shared with Lois. But the plot was a mess, the CGI was absolutely everywhere. The lead villain was terrible, the lead villain being CGI was worse. I didn't care for him at all. He seemed to pose little threat and had almost no relevance to that universe of characters. His minions were completely throw-away, as were the whole mother box thing. The green screen early on was really bad - even just basic stuff like fields and backgrounds looked weak. It could have done with another 20 minutes but I think they'd have squandered them on something rather than using them for developing the characters or flesh out the plot. It just baffles me how you can take two or three very iconic characters and make something as average as this. But there were some great single moments. I loved the few bars of Superman's theme just before he returned, Aquaman sitting on the lasso of truth was good too. Just seeing some of these characters in certain situations or places, was cool. But there was never enough, and the film quickly returned to a mess of CGI and daft situations. I don't really know where WB/DC will go from here. As two hours of entertainment, it was barely passable. I didn't hate it, I just didn't really feel much for it at all. Still, mostly better than Batman Vs Superman, but that's feint praise.
  14. Arnie's been cast as the President of the United States.

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