Apex Predator's Film Discussion Thread

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I was slacking. But on the plus side, I have gotten through with The Fits if anyone wants to add anything on it before I review it tomorrow.
May 10, 2017 2:56 AM
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Early thoughts on Florence Foster Jenkins:

Wow, this seems a lot like Keeping Up Appearances but with Hyacinth Bucket as an opera singer instead of someone trying to crash high society.
I don't know what to think of Hugh Grant, et al arguing that she's doing great when she sings.
Simon Helberg is an acquired taste, but he's acquitting himself nicely so far.
May 10, 2017 4:21 AM
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The Fits

The film is not exactly the most original...a look at the plotline would see some similarities to the British The Falling. And I think I spotted both Billy Eliot and It Felt Like Love in its DNA.

But the film does evoke a certain feel and look about it that makes it stand out. And I feel both its director (Anna Rose Holmer) and star (Royalty Hightower) are meant for big things.

Toni (Hightower) is a 11 year old girl who hangs out with her brother in a boxing gym. But she finds herself drawn towards a dance troupe that practices in the same building.

Eventually, she agrees to try out as part of a junior squad of the award winning troupe.

Then people start convulsing and staring up into the ceiling.

Is it the water that the troupe drinks? Or is something else at play?

Sometimes I get frustrated with a film that has no answers. But once in a while, a good film can overcome this by giving you several possible explanations and make you think.

My theory:
The infantry has fallen off the roof.

Film is well written, directed, and acted in such a way that the small budget proves to be a strength. It really places you there as Toni overhears various things that otherwise might have to come out awkwardly.

Adults play a minor role in this, which makes sense because for kids, adults play a minor role in day to day routines.

You feel like you're a part of the community in Cincinnati as they question the government and exasperated leaders start questioning those who have had The Fits.

The Fits means various things to various people. For some, it's a nightmare while others appreciate the sereneness of it all.

The film has a way of drawing you in while making you think about what's going on.

This made It Looked Like Love look like amateur hour in comparison to this.

NEXT: Keeping Up Appearances: The Musical?
May 11, 2017 4:40 AM
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Florence Griffith Joyner Foster Jenkins:

Of late, I seem to be noticing that the films that I'm watching seem to share things in common with other films or TV shows. Not a bad thing, mind you, but it can be odd.

When I heard the description for this one, I immediately thought of Keeping Up Appearances, the British sitcom about a lady who is trying to get into high society despite having a family of poor relations.

Because it's a sitcom, things hardly ever end up well.

One of the series's quirks has the lead character Hyacinth attempt to sing so she can get a neighbor's role in musicals. She's quite terrible.

In many ways, it reminded me of the situations faced in this film.

Florence (Meryl Streep) is in high society, having founded the Verdi Club, celebrating a love and passion for music. Her husband/manager is St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), a former Shakespearean actor now given to do monologues prior to her appearances.

When she has a hankering to sing, he decides to look for a pianist to accompany her.

Enter Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg), a soft spoken San Antonio man who fortunately plays piano as soft as he talks.

But when he shows up to work on the first day, he learns something dreadful.

Florence can't sing. The charitable would say that she reaches the right note a third to a half of the time. Those less giving would say that she couldn't hit a note if given a broom.

But oh, my hat. They won't tell her that. They give her rave reviews and encourage Cosme to do the same lest he go back to his previous job accompanying a steakhouse.

They decide to humor her with a small select performance in front of the Verdi Club and we learn that Bayfield isn't above bribing music critics to go along with him.

That's not the only thing he's willing to do. Due to Florence having a sexual disease, Bayfield gets his kicks filled by Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson).

But while St. Clair and Kathleen are on vacation, Florence and McMoon bond and they release a single onto a radio station which leads to their biggest challenge yet.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Have a hit on the radio and give away some of the tickets to soldiers apparently.

But they'll have their hands full pulling this one off.

Film is pleasant and easy to take. Acting is generally well done, even if I found it hard to believe that Streep had one of the year's best performances.

But the film tries to have its cake and eat it too. We're supposed to both laugh at Jenkins's performances while taking them seriously (the climactic sequence in many ways parallels the final speech in The King's Speech).

It's clear that this illusion is done out of love (unlike Lars and the Real Girl, where it appears to be done out of script necessity).

But the film left me with a cool reception. It was alright, but I can't go higher than that.


NEXT: Oh, to be young and in love in the South...
May 12, 2017 3:20 AM
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Apex PredatorFlorence Griffith Joyner Foster Jenkins:

But the film tries to have its cake and eat it too. We're supposed to both laugh at Jenkins's performances while taking them seriously (the climactic sequence in many ways parallels the final speech in The King's Speech).

I think that you can laugh at just how awful the singing is, while at the same time realizing that this woman has had a lot of grief and hardship in her life and is doing something she loves that has gotten slightly out of hand.
I thought that the scene with Jenkins playing the piano with St Clair was very moving--she wasn't a musically untalented person, but she couldn't move past what was taken away from her by her husband's cruelty. I thought the movie hit the right balance between comedy and drama.
There is something amazing about watching someone go all in on something they love--I think it can be funny and touching at the same time.
May 12, 2017 11:12 PM
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Takoma1
Apex PredatorFlorence Griffith Joyner Foster Jenkins:

But the film tries to have its cake and eat it too. We're supposed to both laugh at Jenkins's performances while taking them seriously (the climactic sequence in many ways parallels the final speech in The King's Speech).

I think that you can laugh at just how awful the singing is, while at the same time realizing that this woman has had a lot of grief and hardship in her life and is doing something she loves that has gotten slightly out of hand.
I thought that the scene with Jenkins playing the piano with St Clair was very moving--she wasn't a musically untalented person, but she couldn't move past what was taken away from her by her husband's cruelty. I thought the movie hit the right balance between comedy and drama.
There is something amazing about watching someone go all in on something they love--I think it can be funny and touching at the same time.

I see what you're saying...to a point.

To find yourself having a dreaded sexual disease on your wedding night is bad enough. But throw in that fear of knives (that scene when she's washing dishes) and her reaction to reading that Post review, and yeah, she's had serious struggles.

I guess I need to say that my issues with the film wasn't to do with Jenkins or Streep's portrayal. It was more with the standard boilerplate biopic treatment that Jenkins got. To go from laughing at how bad the singing was (I did a few times) and then going for the feels right after, it's pushing it a bit too much in my eyes.

My chief complaint with the having the cake and eating too had to do with the Carnegie Hall performance. Didn't help that no explanation was given why that new blonde wife of the rich man suddenly took up for Florence.

Not to say there weren't touching moments. It turned out each hid the bad reviews from one another out of love/sparing each other's feelings, which I thought was sweet.
May 13, 2017 2:08 AM
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For next time, will discuss the following films:

Last Summer (2013)
Postman Pat: The Movie
Ex-Machina
May 13, 2017 2:10 AM
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Apex Predator

I guess I need to say that my issues with the film wasn't to do with Jenkins or Streep's portrayal. It was more with the standard boilerplate biopic treatment that Jenkins got.?

My chief complaint with the having the cake and eating too had to do with the Carnegie Hall performance. Didn't help that no explanation was given why that new blonde wife of the rich man suddenly took up for Florence.

I agree on both these points. It was kind of a rote, uninspired telling of her story and it hit too many predictable beats (like the one you mention in the spoiler text).
But I was charmed enough by the performances and by some of the quieter moments (like the one at the piano or some of the scenes between Streep and Grant) that the movie as a whole landed above average for me.
May 13, 2017 2:34 AM
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And add John Wick to that list.
May 19, 2017 11:51 AM
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Apex PredatorAnd add John Wick to that list.

Original or the sequel?
May 20, 2017 10:25 PM
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Takoma1
Apex PredatorAnd add John Wick to that list.

Original or the sequel?

The 2014 one.

Also, will have even more to officially discuss tomorrow as I can now add:
Voice of the Whistler
Studio Murder Mystery
Mysterious Intruder (another Whistler film)
National Bird (was trying to hurry to see this so I could record Triplets of Belleville; fell asleep, but should be able to tape Forever Pure now instead).
May 21, 2017 1:57 AM
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Apex Predator
Takoma1
Apex PredatorAnd add John Wick to that list.

Original or the sequel?

The 2014 one.

Nice. Was this your first viewing of it? I liked it a lot and was an even bigger fan of the recent sequel.
May 21, 2017 2:24 AM
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Takoma1
Apex Predator
Takoma1
Apex PredatorAnd add John Wick to that list.

Original or the sequel?

The 2014 one.

Nice. Was this your first viewing of it? I liked it a lot and was an even bigger fan of the recent sequel.

Yes, and I'll get into it in a bit. Do have some interesting things to say about the film.
I knew there was a sequel, but is it one of those things that has a reason for being or is it just there to show Keanu can be a badass? Not that either answer can be wrong...
May 22, 2017 12:24 AM
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Apex Predator

I knew there was a sequel, but is it one of those things that has a reason for being or is it just there to show Keanu can be a badass? Not that either answer can be wrong...


The sequel takes some of the more, I don't know, fantastical elements of the first movie (like the assassins' hotel) and amps them way up. It creates this sort of gonzo alternate universe where 90% of the people on the street are actually assassins.

With the exception of one character I felt was kind of a swing and a miss (one of those "right-hand-man" type characters), I thought it was better than the first movie. It keeps a coherent and consistent tone, develops some fun relationships between multiple characters, and has an ending that could stand alone as an ending or could open up the possibility of another movie. I also really liked the look of the film: several of the settings were just downright cool and some of the shots/angles were really neat. It felt (in a good way) almost like a comic book come to life.

My main issue with the first movie was that Wick seemed a little too invulnerable and some of the action felt a little redundant. The sequel uses more of a variety of fight scenes (one-on-one, Wick versus a big group, hand-to-hand combat, gunplay, etc).

If you liked the first (and I look forward to reading your thoughts on it), you should definitely check out the second one.
May 22, 2017 1:34 AM
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In order of what I've seen:

Last Summer:?

This film does what I've not seen with a LGBT film so far.

The two lead characters are more or less accepted as a gay couple and have to hide nothing from others. The town also happens to be from the South, I believe.

Thanks to the efforts of the slightly slow but athletically talented Luke to help smart but clumsy Jonah as a young boy, the two became best friends and eventually lovers.

But in the summer before Jonah takes off for college, they have to decide what the future is on their relationship.

Good/bad thing is that not much happens in the course of the summer and it takes its own sweet time getting started. But it works well enough in capturing the small moments of a teen relationship.

Don't expect anything more than that and you'll settle in fine. It's short, at least.

Postman Pat: The Movie

Proof positive that not every franchise deserves a film.

Pat is a sweet mailman with a nice wife, lovely son and a helpful cat. But when corporate decides they can't afford to give out bonuses, Pat is at a loss to explain to his wife about a planned vacation to Italy.

Well, as it turns out, You're the One (X Factor/America's Got Talent amalgamation) is heading straight for his town. And a trip to Italy is among the prizes offered to the winner.

Turns out Pat has quite the voice and wins the audition. But as he's going through the publicity required, a corporate member with eyes on efficiency and head chair decides to replace him with a series of Pat-bots.

Danger and confusion ensues until it's all settled at the grande finale.

Pat may be a nice guy but he finds himself at the edges of his own film thanks to the plot. Better than expected supporting cast (David Tennant! Rupert Grint!) does help things go down easily enough even though it's more for the kiddies and less for the parents/adults.

It's nice to see Big Time used in a film even if its use is a bit obvious here.

Ex Machina:

Who put film noir in my science fiction movie? Not that I'm complaining.

Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) wins a contest and ends up at his strange CEO's (Oscar Isaac) private estate. While there, he learns that he's going to give a Turing Test to Eva (Alicia Vikander), a beautiful robot. But not all is as it appears to be.

Very good film plays with humanity, emotions, and feelings of the three main characters as well as Japanese servant Kyoko in the course of a week. Can't go any deeper or I might spoil things.

It's well worth the effort to find out if you haven't seen it yet.

Voice of the Whistler:

Saw a triple bill from Turner Classic Movies on Friday. Two of them deal with The Whistler, a series of films featuring a radio character known as The Whistler which comments and narrates the goings on in a Twilight Zone/Saw sort of way.

This one as a wealthy man (Richard Dix) told he's had only six months to live so he asks his nurse Joan (Lynn Merrick) to marry him. Although she's in love with doctor Fred (James Cardwell), she agrees to do so thanks to her eyes on his fortune (Fred is poor and that's why they haven't wed).

Six months later, the rich man has fully recovered and has fallen for Joan. But Joan is miserable in the lighthouse that serves as their home.

Enter Fred and things get hairy from there.

It's a B-film that succeeds thanks to director William Castle. It has some film noir elements and moves pretty briskly at just over an hour.


Studio Murder Mystery:

Who killed Dolly? You won't want to know.

Dolly is the star of a film and she's killed on film. Enter a doctor and a cop who use various clues to pick out the killer.

How they do it is fine, I guess. But no real reason to care because the characters never move beyond one dimension outside the detectives.

The Mysterious Intruder:

A Whistler film by any other name.

Richard Dix is at it again, this time playing a private dick who is trying to determine the whereabouts of a girl named Elora Lund that a record store owner is trying to find for 7 years.

He decides to hire a woman to pose as the missing relative to learn some things and motives.

But between a serial killer, two inquisitive police detectives, and the real Elora Lund showing up, Dix will have his hands full somehow fixing things.

Castle is at it again. But this one, although it does have a bit of a kicker at the end, doesn't quite do as well.

The plot might be a bit too complex for its own good.

National Bird:

I think the difference between good documentaries and OK ones is that the better entries have a scene where everything connects and fits with each other in such a way as you can say ah-ha.

This documentary has that moment two thirds of the way in as one of the whistleblowers against the drone program, a veteran who served as a security analyst, makes her way to Afghanistan to help a friend with some humanitarian aid. And also to find out about a drone attack that has taken lives of some of a woman's family.

As she shares the tale, footage of the incident plays out where mistakes were made and innocent people (women and kids, among them) lost their lives because people thought they were insurgents.

Along the way, the whistleblowers also face stiff resistance online and from the FBI as one of them risks being named as a traitor under the Espionage Act while another tries to fight for PTSD due to what she saw on screen as a drone watcher.

Really disturbing stuff.

John Wick:

Lean, mean action thriller has a man who has lost his wife due to cancer acquire a puppy as her final act to help him heal.

The dog lasts less than a full day as the son of a Russian mob boss beats the crap out of Wick, kills the dog, and steals his car.

After getting punched in the mouth, the son comes home only to get punched in the gut by his own father. Oof.

Turns out Wick was an assassin. And he was quite good at his job.

But Wick starts to get back into the swing of things in a one-man quest for revenge against his former boss and his family.

I could have sworn this was based on anime or a graphic novel. It wasn't.

But despite the premise sounding like something Seagal or Van Damme could have done 15-20 years ago, the film manages to combine real emotion and solid acting (Keanu Reeves acquits himself nicely in the title role) into the film.

But let's not forget that Wick can kick ass; this film is pretty good as well.
May 22, 2017 2:09 AM
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Stations of the Elevated (1981/2014):

Forty four minutes. Shouldn't be a difficult task to sit through.

But it kinda was.

Thanks to the non-narrative look at subway art and a jazz score that kicks in halfway through, what we're left with is a look at 1970s New York as various subway cars get tagged with paint.

Its points (particularly how subway graffiti is art) are made with a sledgehammer even as there's some interesting juxtapositions at times (such as a look at a prison while some mother is crying and police sirens wail).

It left me somewhat unimpressed:

Next: Just how many times did they watch early Woody Allen to do this Chris Rock film?
May 23, 2017 4:51 PM
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I too liked Ex Machina. The aesthetic, the colour, the special effects & single location.

I also liked John Wick, but recall nothing about it other than SPOILER dead dog
May 23, 2017 7:33 PM
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billtheburger
I also liked John Wick, but recall nothing about it other than SPOILER dead dog

I think that the sequel has more memorable set-pieces, and I can immediately think of three stand-out sequences just off the top of my head. They were wise in the second one to have more variety in the action sequences and it makes each one pop a bit more.
My favorite element of the first movie was Dean Winters as the weary right-hand man. I thought he was a hilarious audience surrogate with every time the bad guys would be like "We'll just send five guys to kill him!" and he would just *sigh*.
May 23, 2017 11:39 PM
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EDIT- Double whammy
May 24, 2017 9:54 AM
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One of the most inspiring things about John Wick is that is was written by an ordinary guy with no Hollywood studio connections.?
May 24, 2017 9:55 AM
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