Apex Predator's Film Discussion Thread

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Black PhilipI just added They Call Us Monsters to my list. That's too bad. I like watching those prison documentaries because it shows you how awful these places are. Over crowded, full of people that don't belong there, violence against guards, etc.

If you're in the mood for something interesting and visually arresting watch Into the Inferno the Werner Herzog documentary about volcanoes.

Yeah, They Call Us Monsters isn't that type of documentary. Will keep Into the Inferno in mind.
Jun 13, 2017 11:46 PM
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Alright, tomorrow I get back with three new films to review (two of which I had to stop due to them expiring on Prime).

Non-Stop
Top Five
Blue Like Jazz

And maybe I squeeze in The Blackcoat's Daughter on Monday before work!
Jun 19, 2017 1:54 AM
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No Blackcoat's Daughter, although that's in my next 2-3 films over the next couple of days.

On the plus side, Rumpled might tune in for this:

Non-Stop:

Yeah, Rumpled picked this one among others for 2014 films I had yet to see. Yeah, still working on that. Whatever, but that final list will be impressive.

Anyway.

Liam plays a alcoholic former NYPD cop turned air marshal named Bill who is on a flight to London. Along for the ride is dying woman Julianne Moore, stewardess Lupita Nyong'o, a fellow air marshal who is off duty, a cop from New York City, and some random bloke who bummed a light off of him at the airport.

Bill gets texted and his whole family has been taken! No. Someone (on the flight) has apparently some beef with Bill and is planning to kill someone on the plane every 20 minutes or so unless $150 million is sent to a bank account.

But as Bill quickly learns, it's all a setup. The account belongs to him and thanks to some press, they think he's a terrorist who's hijacked the plane.

Sure, there are some problems with motivation being a bit fuzzy. Not entirely sure what the point of that one scene was supposed to be, frankly. And that one guy on the phone seems to exist as a writer's crutch to complicate the film/plot. But thanks to director Collet-Serra, the film proves to be a fairly good time waster (think Beach Novel or some "so bad it's good" reality show).

Neeson's character is just flawed enough that it places the outcome in doubt and there's just enough depth to the characters that you may change your mind as to who's behind it at least once or twice.

Fun little film.

Blue Like Jazz:

Don (Marshall Allman) tries his best to be a good Christian in a small Texas town. When he's not working on a factory, he's helping out the church youth with various programs such as puppets and lock-ins.

But his perfect plans (which includes a small Texas Christian college) go awry when he learns that his mother is seeing the married youth pastor. So he takes the hint from his father and agrees to attend the most Godless campus on Earth.

Reed College in Portland, Oregon (apparently, it's a real place).

While Don is trying to live it up and fit in at the school, he falls for a good looking blonde named Penny (Claire Holt). She's hiding a secret that could get him back on track. Meanwhile, the Pope (Justin Welborn) has a major ax to grind with religion and he befriends lesbian Lauryn (Tania Raymonde) on his first day in class.

Film's a bit of a mixed bag. While it doesn't try to preach to its audience (film is more worried about actual story than pounding home its message), film does have its flaws. As an aspiring writer, Don could have noticed the cliches that pile up such as the intolerance that Reed has with religion itself and various college cliches (yeah, there's one of those scenes where the lead does consume too much alcohol. Why do you ask?). Much like other films, I suspect that this won't appeal much beyond the followers (and probably not all of them in this case).

But the film does manage to connect at times in the quieter moments thanks to the interactions between the characters. And it's nice to see a Christian themed film where people appear to behave more normally in a college environment than usual. Oh, and the acting is fairly decent.

Although not perfect or good, it's a credible attempt to tackle faith in a more mainstream way than similarly themed films. Just wish the film was better.

Top Five:

Chris Rock apes Woody Allen and proves pretty adept!

Actor Andre Allen (Chris Rock) is hoping that people will see Uprize (a film on the Haitian revolt), a personal project that will propel him on a new path. Best known for the action comedy character of Hammy (and its catchphrase It's Hammy Time), Allen no longer feels funny.

On the weekend of his impending nuptials to reality star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), he agrees to an interview with reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson). After some time finding out that she needs a recorder and is a mother, she agrees to interview him as long as he's as honest as he is with Alcoholics Anonymous. This honesty propels the interview as he is candid on his low points and his fears, but something happens to change the equation.

I think that Rock the director was inspired by Woody Allen, at least with a couple of his early works. The film itself kinda works like Annie Hall with the chemistry and the give and take between Rock and Dawson. And plus, there's some parallels to Allen's Stardust Memories to the plot.

Film could have been less raunchy in places such as the whole Cedric the Entertainer character and a scene involving hot sauce and Chelsea's boyfriend considering we're trying to see a more mature side of Rock. And we could have seen more of Allen's family (one scene involving a man on the street proves surprisingly poignant when we find out who it is).

But overall, I thought it was fairly well done.
Jun 20, 2017 6:31 PM
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Finally got through Girl on a Bicycle.

Remember a few weeks ago when I thought it was a likeable quirkfest? Yeah, that changed a bit.

The plot: Paolo is a tour bus driver who becomes engaged to flight attendant Greta (she of the biting wit and yep, superior video gaming skill. Not sure why this was a thing in 2014, but I'm more than OK with this. #EqualSexIndeed)

Anyhoo, he becomes fascinated by this French woman on a bike named Cecile and he seeks advice from buddy Derek (Paddy Considine). Paolo, thanks to some ill-chosen words ends up Cecile's husband and father to her two children who have been convinced that their father speaks English and is off fighting dragons.

Before you can say "The quirkfest has become a farce", Paolo is forced to lead two lives as Greta's fiancee and as caretaker to Cecile and the kids.

Pleasant but forgettable fluff whose interest may come down to your opinions of meet cutes, cloying songs that spell everything out, children who can cry on cue, and airplane singalongs, particularly to a song you suspect the majority haven't heard of before.

Next: Probably The Blackcoat's Daughter. Unless anyone wants me to tackle either Spongebob Squarepants 2 or I'll See You in My Dreams.
Jun 26, 2017 2:34 AM
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Black Philip
Apex Predator

Next: Probably The Blackcoat's Daughter. Unless anyone wants me to tackle either Spongebob Squarepants 2 or I'll See You in My Dreams.

Check out I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.

Will once I get my Netflix account back.

Blackcoat's Daughter just seems weird so far. Like it's trying to show scary moments without any buildup.
Jun 27, 2017 2:49 AM
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If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend McQueen's Hunger. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's really powerful.
Jun 27, 2017 2:54 AM
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Popcorn ReviewsIf you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend McQueen's Hunger. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's really powerful.

Had been needing to see this ever since I saw 12 Years a Slave. Will add to the list!
Jun 27, 2017 4:42 PM
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Black Philip
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Black Philip
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Next: Probably The Blackcoat's Daughter. Unless anyone wants me to tackle either Spongebob Squarepants 2 or I'll See You in My Dreams.

Check out I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.

Will once I get my Netflix account back.

Blackcoat's Daughter just seems weird so far. Like it's trying to show scary moments without any buildup.

Even less goes on in I Am the Pretty Thing but I like the mood created. Still not sure what to think of Oz Perkins but he's onto something.

Or perhaps he's the arthouse answer to Rob Zombie (only without the pathological need to cast his wife in everything)?

Should finish tonight and maybe I'll have some answers.
Jun 27, 2017 4:43 PM
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Apex Predator
Popcorn ReviewsIf you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend McQueen's Hunger. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's really powerful.

Had been needing to see this ever since I saw 12 Years a Slave. Will add to the list!

See if you can pick it up on Criterion while you're at it.
Jun 27, 2017 4:45 PM
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Popcorn Reviews
Apex Predator
Popcorn ReviewsIf you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend McQueen's Hunger. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's really powerful.

Had been needing to see this ever since I saw 12 Years a Slave. Will add to the list!

See if you can pick it up on Criterion while you're at it.

Spend $30-40 on a film that I might not like. Nah, I'll either rent it or stream it.

While working on finishing Blackcoat's Daughter, decided to take a chance with Spongebob.

Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water

Not entirely sure why this TV character endures over a decade later. Perhaps it is his innocence or his childlike approach in dealing with things.

But here we are again. And look how far Antonio Banderas has fallen.

After a live action opener that showcases pirate/food truck chef Burger Beard (Banderas) stealing a valuable book from a skeleton, we leap into the familiar world of Spongebob who is a fry cook/burger maker for The Krusty Krab, a popular establishment under the sea. Rival Plankton remains eternally unpopular due to his surly nature and his crappy culinary skills.

But his latest scheme involving a brazen assault of the establishment and disguising himself as a penny mostly succeeds in getting the desired formula for Krabby Patties, but it suddenly vanishes.

The world quickly devolves into chaos (perhaps as a nod to George Miller fans) and so our hero must team up with the nemesis to get back the formula before everything truly falls apart.

The rest of the film consists of time travel, superheroes, some music, a dinosaur, and enough chases to make Edgar Wright take notice. And yes, the two stories intersect thanks to a magical space dolphin, I think.

For fans, odds are that you've seen this 30-40 times already and my words won't do much good. For haters, you never planned on seeing this anyway and my words won't be effective either.

For the rest of us, although there are some laughs and a few cute moments, it reminded me of the Minions film in that the film ultimately ran out of gas. Much like Spongebob and Patrick (his best buddy when he's not trying to capture him due to Krabby withdrawal) on a cotton candy high, it's all fun and energy before it crashes down.

Next: The Blackcoat's Daughter
Jun 29, 2017 5:13 PM
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Apex Predator
Popcorn Reviews
Apex Predator
Popcorn ReviewsIf you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend McQueen's Hunger. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's really powerful.

Had been needing to see this ever since I saw 12 Years a Slave. Will add to the list!

See if you can pick it up on Criterion while you're at it.

Spend $30-40 on a film that I might not like. Nah, I'll either rent it or stream it.

Fair enough.
Jun 29, 2017 8:22 PM
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Blackcoat's Daughter:

Fine, I'm done.

And the film improved dramatically from its opening road to nowhere.

Rose is a senior at a Catholic prep school who might be pregnant and may be stuck at winter break for a few days, in part so she can come up with a plan.

Kat is a freshman with vivid dreams and thanks to Rose, a suspicion that the staff assigned to be guardians might be devil worshipers.

Joan (Emma Roberts) is just out of a psych ward and has accepted the ride of a good Samaritan and his dubious wife. They happen to be stopping at the town next to where she's going.

The use of your classic coming of age tropes is used somewhat successfully by Osgood Perkins (yep, Anthony "Norman Bates" Perkin's son).

The campus feels eerily still with the snowfall. And Perkins is able to make spooky atmosphere out of music, visuals, etc.

The narrative just takes too long to get going.

But the last half hour, the film starts to pay off dramatically and the true nature of the story becomes clear. Sorry, no spoilers.

Perhaps if he works on his talents (and storytelling skills), Perkins can launch a successful horror career.?

If not, he becomes the new Ti West, forever on potential as opposed to results.

Hillary's America:

The secret history of the Democratic Party is somewhat compelling. The telling of this history is um, not.

After a belabored opener which showcases worse recreations than Unsolved Mysteries and which showcases the director/narrator Dinesh D'Souza as a victim of political injustice, the film gets going with a look at the dark history of the Democratic party.

Namely, the racism and injustice.

I had to spend a long time verifying various facts. Some were true, some were stretching it, and some were flat out lies.

But his recreations are universally awful, his logic is crazy when it isn't relying on "If it once was so, it must be so now!", and his conclusions on Hillary are far-fetched and ridiculous.

I swear he spent more time in prison than on Hillary. Oh, and wait until we get to the musical numbers that open and close the show.

I checked the pianist on IMDB. He happens to be related to Rush Limbaugh, without his voracious appetite.

Any points that could be made were constantly undercut by either a recreation, D'Souza's theories, or something that could be proven false.

Have to love that final song, though. It indicates everything wrong with politics in 2016-7.
Jun 30, 2017 1:44 AM
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Quite likely I'll get through I'll See You in My Dreams tonight and maybe another film/two tomorrow.
Jul 2, 2017 1:40 AM
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I'll See You In My Dreams:

Ever stumble across a good film on TV or streaming, get your hopes up thinking that this is going to be good, and then watch as the film trips over its own feet and stumbles to a bad conclusion?

I had that experience yesterday watching Dreams.

After losing her dog to an undisclosed fight with something, Carol (Blythe Danner) finds it hard to get up with the alarm buzzer every morning. She's a mistress of routine: she gets up early, enjoys bridge/golf with a group of female friends (Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place, June Squibb), cleans up her house.

One day, she stumbles across a rat scurrying across the kitchen floor. Too scared, she spends the night sleeping on pool furniture which gathers the concern of Lloyd (Martin Starr), the new pool boy of her complex.

They start to bond, they drink, they even go to a karaoke night where she shows off her previous skills as a singer by nailing Cry Me a River.

But also entering her life, slowly at first, is Bill (Sam Elliott). Although from Texas, he seems to have adapted well to the California climate sailing on his boat called the So What in part to get away from others. The two start a romance on his boat, which picks up steam when she gets the title of the boat (a Miles Davis reference).

Also on deck is her trying to get a fresh relationship going with her grown daughter Katherine (Malin Akerman).

The film succeeds pretty well in the first hour as Danner enjoys being the lead of the film with a role that allows her to breathe. Her relationships with Lloyd and Bill are handled well enough and the relationships with the other women feel true enough. Danner and Elliott have an easygoing chemistry that makes it a pleasure to root for.

But the film starts to fall apart as the bridge group decides to indulge in some ganja. The film at that point seems more interested in checking off various indie points than in staying true to the characters and situations:

Run in with an officer: Check
Mother/daughter reconciliation: Check
Health Crisis: Check
(Planned) Impromptu Trip to Foreign Country: Check
Twee Indie Song: Check

This is in direct contrast to how the director Brett Haley handles the speed dating portion of the film earlier. What could have been played for broad laughs or maudlin turns out to have a deft enough touch to avoid cliche.

Not even the ending which brings up Carol with a cute older dog can save this from faltering from a good film to just an above average one.

Want a good title featuring people of an older age? Check out Redwood Highway. That is all.

Next: Not sure, although I wouldn't mind knocking out Money Monster and The Gift in the next days.
Jul 2, 2017 4:29 PM
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Tomorrow: The Gift and Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution reviews. Perhaps joined by a third title?
Jul 5, 2017 1:08 AM
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Apex PredatorTomorrow: The Gift and Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution reviews. Perhaps joined by a third title?

And of course, the correct answer is that they not only get joined by a third title but by a fourth. Happy Rebellion Day, everyone!

The Gift:
Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a young couple trying to make a go of it in their new town. Into their lives walks in Gordon (Joel Edgerton, who also directed), a former acquaintance from Simon's high school. His sweet, goofball nature charms Robyn at first even as it draws Simon's suspicions to the surface.

But why is Simon so reluctant to befriend Gordon? Might it have to do with their shared past? And is Gordon coming in with good intentions, or not?
Let me address the elephant in the room. Not the hugest fan of the final act whether it happened or not. Although I get that Gordon might have some unresolved issues with Simon, using the innocent Robyn as the victim in this scheme just left a bad taste in my mouth.

But everything else about the thriller is rock solid as Edgerton shows some skills in ratcheting up the suspense. The leads all come through with some strong performances particularly Bateman as he adds some punch to the scarred, yet calculating Simon and Edgerton as his Gordon deals with trying his best of making a bad hand in life work out for him. One feels as he gets subjected to insults and slights based on his high school name and how Simon might have illustrated ruining his reputation through making up a story involving molestation that resulted in Gordon's own father trying to kill him.

The last part might be a bridge too far, but most of the Gift feels like a film that should be accepted without question.

Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution:
For some reason, I've been on a kick of watching stories that have been affecting African Americans of late. First with 13th, then the Daryl Davis documentary, and now this.

In this case, the documentary shows the rise and fall of the Black Panther movement. We get to know both the personalities like Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Fred Hampton, the New York 21 as well as the rank and file members of the party.

Among the highlights is the community outreach or survival programs that fed young kids in Oakland, the use of image that allowed them to become prevalent, and the attempts by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI to destroy the Panthers using arrests, violence, and even driving wedges among the leaders.

A plank focusing on feminism is more or less dropped as soon as it's brought up and I really would have liked to have seen some exploration of its legacy with current events (
Black Lives Matter, the movement of law enforcement towards more of a military range of actions).

But I got a better understanding of the Movement and why it rose and fell and that's good for now.

Sharknado:
After some heavy films, I felt like now would be a perfect time to watch something dumb, silly.

Such as an Asylum release of Sharks forming tornadoes and attacking LA.

First, the bad news: it takes about an hour for a Sharknado to form in a film called Sharknado. Its humor tends to be heavy-handed at times. It does feel a bit chintzy and cheap, although considering this was made for a low-budget cable channel, this was to be expected. Claudia (Aubrey Peeples) brushes fairly close to the survivors who should be left to their own devices at times. Sharks tend to eliminate unnecessary people at narratively convenient times.

Now, the good news: Film zips by quick enough to not think about the implausibilities and the wait, whats? You can buy Ian Ziering as the intense, problem solving Fin (he can display a seriousness and gravitas that allows you to go along with it). Fin and April (Tara Reid) are plausible as both the dissolved couple and the couple who might be revived due to a trying set of circumstances. Just as importantly, they don't really annoy in either aspect.
You can buy Claudia as April's daughter and Matt as Fin's son as they share similar characteristics. Although it's clear that they're made of CGI, there's no lack of sharks in Sharknado.

Dumb fun that somehow feels innocent, it's a step below The Room, Miami Connection, and Who Killed Captain Alex but a step above the films that are so bad, they're bad. And that's something.

The Stanford Prison Experiment:
The film gets the basics right, but misses out on making an OK film a good one.

Based on the infamous 1971 experiment by Dr. Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup), a group of paid volunteer students get divvied up into prisoners and guards via a coin flip. Looks like an easy way to get some spare summer cash, right?

Problem is that the Guards get a little too drunk on power and decide to psychologically and verbally abuse the prisoners. The Prisoners get a bit too into their roles as well (perhaps the uniform which consists of a smock and skullcap is to blame) and find themselves trying to rebel.

They undergo the whole prison process (family visits, priest visit, parole hearing) and it takes Philip's girlfriend (Olivia Thirlby) to convince him that things have gone too far.

Film does a good job of showcasing the events of the experiment and one gets a sickening feeling in the stomach as a guard bangs his baton against the bars of the cell or a prisoner is forced to do push-ups and remember their number without assistance in the many line-ups. But other than a basic feeling of oh, this is awful inhumanity towards man, there's not much else that registers because the doctor, his girlfriend, the other conductors of the experiment including a former prisoner as a consultant (Nelson Ellis), the guards, the prisoners are all ciphers at best.

I tried to remember as many prisoners and guards after seeing it and I was down to one prisoner being Asian and one guard having blondish-red hair, but no mustache unlike the other guard who looked like Michael Cera in Youth in Revolt. And that's only maybe 4 on each side.

As the head guard, Michael Angarano does a great job of suggesting that he's seen Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke one too many times. As a rebellious prisoner, Ezra Miller is memorable as well.

But I think for this to have worked that you had to see the students they were before seeing what the experiment did to them.

You're probably better off seeking out Quiet Rage, a 1992 documentary that showcases the disastrous experiment as well as coming up with a better ending than this film could have managed.
Jul 5, 2017 6:52 PM
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Alright, I finally got caught up to what the cool kids were watching.

Okja

Basically, I liked the quirky weirdness of it as well as the emotional undercurrent between Mija and Okja.

Found Jake Gyllenhaal to be more weird than funny in his comic take on that nature guy that I can't remember.

I felt like the humor was a bit much at times as it clashes with its more serious messages.

Tilda did pretty good playing the character she played and Paul Dano was fine. The little girl was perhaps the best of them all.

Overall, it wasn't bad although I preferred The Host which got that mixture down better.
Jul 7, 2017 2:26 AM
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Discouraged by the whole "I've picked up the production pace, but nobody's joining me".


I Am Not Your Negro

Powerful documentary that focuses on the issues faced by African Americans past and present, focusing specifically on Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.

The words chosen by James Baldwin based on his writings from Remember This House are enrapturing. Seeing Baldwin in archival footage shows that he chooses his words carefully and powerfully.

The use of visual cues, particularly from movies, really help to punctuate his points.

The decision of Baldwin to be a detached observer in the history is a bit of a controversial one, but it really drives home the point that his unique perspective of being a expatriate who's returned to America was needed to bring forth a different viewpoint.

I had no idea that was Samuel Leroy Jackson narrating until the end. It didn't feel like it was his voice.

Is it as good as 13th? Not quite, but it deserves to be in the discussion.

Uncommonly good film.

Next: Not sure. Probably some 2016 or 2017 release.
Jul 8, 2017 2:22 AM
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Apex PredatorPowerful documentary that focuses on the issues faced by African Americans past and present, focusing specifically on Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.

I can only imagine what Ben Organa would think of that movie.
Jul 8, 2017 2:36 AM
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Apex PredatorDiscouraged by the whole "I've picked up the production pace, but nobody's joining me".

I read all of your reviews and try to comment when I've seen them. I'm with you, man!
Jul 8, 2017 2:53 AM
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