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Offline Darth Geek

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19155 on: March 08, 2020, 08:32:50 AM »
Parasite (2019) - This was really good! Not a surprise, since it won the Oscar and all. But it's much more of a thriller and drama than I usually go for, so I wasn't sure how much I would get into it. Plus it's subtitled, which I've said before I don't prefer. But since this is not big on action or effects, I didn't feel like looking at the subtitles would make me miss something. The acting was really good. And the humor was sparse enough that it was still effective when used. I don't think I'll ever watch it again, but I was glad I did see it.



Online stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19156 on: March 08, 2020, 09:23:01 PM »
The Last Tycoon ( 2012 )
No, not an adaption of the unfinished F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, but a Chow Yun Fat gun-fu  movie set in Shanghai during the 1930s during the Japanese invasion, directed by Wong Jing. Much of the film depicts Chow's character as a young man in the late 1910s through early 1920s, and his rise as a powerful gangster boss. Here the character is played by  Huang Xiaoming, so that Chow is only in about a third of the film. Each of the characters is loosely based on actual gangsters, warlords and one opera star in a fictional story about an assassination plot against the Japanese general who invaded Shanghai and the gangsters who collaborated with him. This is one of Chow Yun Fat's best films, so I am surprised it got such little attention here in the States.

Avengers: Infinity War ( 2018 )
This is a great example of why the MCU works while the DCEU is in chaos. I don't think Warner Bros. would ever allow a movie where almost all the heroes are all killed, the villain wins, and trillions of life forms across the universe are killed. A film where the surviving Marvel characters are stunned and ask the question "Did we just lose?" Where several mini franchises are ended, as is the entire MCU's future apparently ended. Of course any Marvel fan knows this is all temporary. But Warner Bros. would simply not allow a film like this. Even Batman v Superman only got away with the death of a major DCEU character because he sacrificed himself defeating a villain and saving billions of lives on Earth.  But Avengers: Infinity Wars is a film where heroes go through a lot of trouble,  travel great distances and fulfil a lot of quests and fail anyway. No one is saved, and a lot of heroes die trying to save them. This is the sort of movie Hollywood never allows. Even in films with no happy ending, there always needs to be at least some sort of silver lining ( with the exception of a handful of horror films. ) And Disney allowed Marvel Studios to make it. If only the executives at Warner Bros. had the same confidence not to interfere in the DCEU once they settled on the producers in charge of that franchise. BTW, loved Infinity War, but nowhere as much as the first Avengers film. 


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19157 on: March 08, 2020, 10:33:19 PM »
Well, I adored Onward. It spoke to me both as a father and as someone who lost his father earlier in life than usual. The very nature of the plot meant there was gonna be that Pixar tear-jerk moment, and you know more-or-less what it is as soon as the plot starts unfolding, and they still managed to sprinkle a little twist in how it plays out that caught me off-guard. Not sure why so many of the critics seem to be implying that Pixar's lost it. It's no Up or Inside Out, but I'd put it up there with the likes of Brave or Monsters, Inc.

And the teaser for Soul looks VERY interesting. I'll be looking forward to that one next year.


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19158 on: March 08, 2020, 10:49:49 PM »
I watched JoJo rabbit on my tablet at my friends house earlier. It is a great movie!! I enjoyed it a lot. It was fun, sad, moving, and absolutely Batshit insane at some points.


Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19159 on: March 11, 2020, 10:07:29 AM »
I watched JoJo rabbit on my tablet at my friends house earlier. It is a great movie!! I enjoyed it a lot. It was fun, sad, moving, and absolutely Batshit insane at some points.

Have you seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople? If you liked Jojo, you are probably going to like that one too.


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19160 on: March 12, 2020, 09:58:05 AM »
Have you seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople? If you liked Jojo, you are probably going to like that one too.
Not yet, but I'll try and check it out sometime. Thanks Johnny!


Offline wihogfan

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19161 on: March 13, 2020, 08:56:44 PM »
Freaks (2018)
2/3s original really good lower budget psychological horror flick, last 1/3 crappy Avengers level super hero bullshit. First 2/3s not totally ruined by last 1/3, but could have been so much better with a better last 1/3.


Offline MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19162 on: March 14, 2020, 07:27:51 PM »
Frozen II


Since it showed up on Disney+ I watched it today.

I liked it I think a bit more than the first one, most of the songs in the first one annoyed me but this one not as much, but I did have to hit FF to get past 1 of them.


Offline wihogfan

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19163 on: March 15, 2020, 08:19:44 AM »
Knives Out (2019)
Pretty much what I was expecting. Extremely silly at times (part intentional,  part not). Enjoyable if you're willing to look past the implausibility and every character being a well worn stereotype.


Online stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19164 on: March 15, 2020, 09:20:41 PM »
League of Gods ( 2016 )
I ran into an extra expense in the past month. Basically, an expensive Blu-ray set I was planning to save up for on Amazon with a limited run sold out faster than I thought it would, and I needed to get it immediately. This on top of still being behind in budget on my Christmas gift purchases from November. So once again, for the next month or two, I will have to forgo buying any new marital arts films. So basically, the next month or two will be used to rewatch  movies. And there were a lot of films I really liked from the past couple of years that I look forward to rewatching. This film isn't exactly one of them. But the first time I watched League of Gods back in October, it was under unideal conditions.  We had guests. Which meant I kept needing to leave the room to retrieve refreshments. Which also meant I couldn't pause the film everyone else was watching and hoped the scene I left the room on didn't have any vital exposition. Also meant a lot of people talking during the film, oh, and asking a lot of questions, like "Who is this guy?". Also meant that despite everyone agreeing to read the subtitles on the Chinese language version, about halfway through I was asked to turn on the dumbed down English dub, which I was thinking of doing anyway because it was one of those films where the subtitles disappear before you have a chance to finish reading them. Which if I was alone, I would have simply rewound the disc and did a paused any subtitles that had a lot of text on characters who were talking fast. so basically, I thought it was a visually fantastic effects film, but was completely lost on the story.

I had planned to simply rewatch the film in 20 minute increments at night time, but never found the time. So finally got to watch it again this week, and without the distractions and interruptions that having guests cause, it isn't actually that hard of a film to follow. Also, I began to realize how much this film was modeled  after the MCU. Right down to a mid ending credit scene teasing the sequel ( which probably will never happen. ) Also, the ending credits are similar to that of MCU ending credits, with a lot of flat 3D illustrations of scenes from the film.

Ant Man and the Wasp ( 2018 )
And speaking of MCU film, this week's was Ant Man ad the Wasp, a sort of lightweight film in the MCU cannon. But what exactly can you do when you have a story that takes place during the events in Avengers Infinity War?  Still cant figure out why the villains in this film are all from Iron Man comics. Unless maybe the characters were initially intended for an Iron Man sequel that never happened?  A fun film, but with the other MCU films being about the Earth and sometimes entire universe in peril, the plot in this one feels pretty underwhelming. 



Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19165 on: March 16, 2020, 05:56:49 PM »
I suppose it was too much to hope that a new version of Fantasy Island (2020, directed by Jeff Wadlow) would be something other than a bunch of moralizing twaddle. Moralizing twaddle was baked into the DNA of the old TV series. It's what made the show popular with the old ladies who were its primary audience. My grandmother loved the show, although that might also reflect her crush on Ricardo Montalban. There's a certain poetry in the original show's position as the follow-up to The Love Boat, given that it takes the privileged bourgeois characters of that show and holds up a mirror to their moral failings. That could work even today. It's not too surprising to see it re-imagined as a horror movie, either. The original 1977 pilot for the show had more than a little horror woven into it, particularly that weird Gothic ambiance unique to 1970's TV movies. Horror tropes abounded throughout the series original run from the outset. The pilot featured a riff on The Most Dangerous Game and another story about a woman who wants to attend her own funeral, after all. It was a sunlit variation of The Twilight Zone at Rod Serling's most didactic. So the new movie, which includes both the moralizing and the tired horror tropes, is at least recognizable as descended from the original show.

The story begins with a woman fleeing from unknown assailants. She has been abducted to the island for reasons she doesn't understand and when she talks to Mr. Roarke, the proprietor, he tells her that she is his guest, witting or not. The next day, a plane arrives bearing more guests. All of them have won a contest to be there, and each of them has a particular fantasy they would like to live out. Roarke tells them the rules: One fantasy per guest, and you must continue that fantasy until its logical conclusion. There's Gwen, who would like to fix her biggest regret, and whose fantasy initially involves saying yes to a marriage proposal she turned down. For J. D. and Brax Weaver, mismatched brothers, it's living the high life and partying till dawn. For Melanie, it's getting revenge on the schoolyard bully who made her early life hell on earth. For Patrick, it's living up to his father's legacy as a soldier. Needless to say, all of these fantasies go wrong. There are mysterious elements to each fantasy that hint at something darker behind them, and when the fantasies begin to overlap, it becomes clear to all of the guests that they are the elements of someone else's murderous fantasy.

The idea behind this edition of Fantasy Island is clever enough. Let's look at the fantasies from the point of view of the people roped in to making the fantasy real for someone else. Sure. Why not? From there, the film throws a bunch of genre spaghetti at the wall and hopes that something sticks. Zombies? Got it. Torture porn? Got it. Ghosts? Got it. In the course of weaving all of it into a narrative it drops a few stitches, making narrative leaps that sometimes seem like non-sequiturs even when the audience is provided with an exegesis at the end. Why does the island allow Gwen to change fantasies midstream? Why does the island need the live version of Melanie's bete noir when it has provided simulacra of everyone else's? Why is Roarke beholden to the island when its method of compelling his servitude seems more like a compartment of hell than heaven? The answer to all of this is that the film can't actually proceed without cheating.

The filmmakers probably could have done without explaining how the island works. One of the central functions of this movie is to provide an origin story of sorts for both the island and for Roarke and his servants. This isn't a slasher movie, per se, but it makes the classic mistake of the slasher movie. It explains too damned much. Back story is not necessarily character, particularly when presented with characters whose mystique revolves around the possibilities of what they are. Explaining them robs them of what makes them interesting in the first place. It kills the golden goose when you dissect it. That's what happens here. The back story they give Roarke and the way this "explains" how the island works turn them both into something all together less than they were at the outset. The island in particular becomes the equivalent of a video game level to solve while Roarke... well, Roarke is far less compelling as a grieving widower than as a character who might be an angel or who might be a devil and it's up to the viewer to decide which one he is.

Michael Peña would not have been my first or even my fourteenth choice to play Roarke, but he works well enough, I suppose. He lacks the charisma of Ricardo Montalban or even Malcolm McDowell, but I can imagine him aging into the Roarke of the TV series if I squint hard enough. Michael Rooker's character, the guy who is trapped on the island after going off script in order to expose the place to the world works better, but it's a character Rooker has played before and better. The remainder of the cast is anonymous, with the possible exception of Lucy Hale. Her character vacillates between motivations throughout the movie, arriving at a fine madness in the end, but she's not subtle about the transitions and the screenwriters have done her no favors. The screenwriters have done the entire production no favors and perhaps it's to everyone's benefit that the film's actual title ("Blumhouse's Fantasy Island") lays the blame squarely where it belongs.

The film suffers a bit from a convention of the original series, too, given that the island setting lends the film a samey same ambiance to most of the fantasies. The only visually distinct fantasy in the film is Melanie's torture room, and even that seems constructed at second hand from the Saw or Hostel movies. This shows the filmmakers' hands in so far as they haven't imagined anything new about the premise of Fantasy Island except how it allows them to regurgitate tired tropes from the last twenty years of horror movies no matter how played out they are. You don't get the shock of the new one encounters in movies like It Follows or The Babadook or The Witch. This is a high concept instead, a marketer's movie banking on the idea that if you slap the Fantasy Island brand name on a bunch of crap you've already bought, who cares if it's good so long as it makes bank in its opening weekend before anyone has an idea that they've been baited.

Since I've criticized this as a marketer's film, it's only fair to give credit where credit is due. The film's marketing is stellar, particularly its posters. They're the only element of the whole production where creativity and novelty are on full display. These are really good.



You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19166 on: March 18, 2020, 07:05:00 PM »
One of the enduring challenges facing horror movies is finding things that really scare an audience. Most horror movies fail at this, or abstract it in a way that an audience can sidestep their fears and take them out for a walk without any risk. A horror movie that can lay those fears bare and weaponize them against an audience is a rare thing and is likely to alienate a mass audience. The things that scare people are so personal that it's hard to find something that will reliably scare a large audience. Better to offer a thrill ride. I say all of this because the new version of The Invisible Man (2020, directed by Leigh Whannell), is legitimately scary and not in a fun, thrill-ride sort of way. It finds a raw nerve and it exploits it without mercy. What this film plays as a fantasy is all too real for so, so many women who are the victims of abuse. The varieties of abuse are all there on the screen: physical, mental, financial, institutional; the whole of a society geared to dismiss the suffering of women comes under scrutiny of this film's clinical examination. It's like a slap in the face.

The story follows Cecilia Kass, the wife of a tech millionaire, Adrian, who is in the process of escaping him as the film opens. She disables the security in the house where she lives and attempts to slip out in the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, she wakes him as she makes her escape and he chases her. She barely makes her getaway with her sister. Two weeks later, in hiding, she suffers from agoraphobia. She's convinced that Adrian will find her. She can barely step outside the house of the cop who is putting her up. Her sister brings her word that Adrian has killed himself and that she stands to inherit a fortune provided she stays out of trouble. Cecilia is deeply skeptical. Soon, strange things begin to happen around the house. She becomes convinced that Adrian has somehow figured out a technology that makes him invisible. Soon, her life starts to come apart, and no one believes her that it's Adrian's doing. Her misfortune culminates in the murder of her sister, for which Cecilia is held responsible. Worse still: she's pregnant. Adrian's lawyer, his brother, offers her a choice: all of her troubles will go away if she has the baby and returns to him. For Cecilia, that's a fate worse than death.

I've been reading a bunch of crime fiction from the 1940's written by women lately. Writers like Dorothy B. Hughes, Vera Caspary, and Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, whose work is the literary bedrock of the domestic version of film noir that flourished in that era. Do you know the films? Women's pictures where the threat comes from someone the heroine loves or something that the heroine does to protect herself? There are enough of these kinds of films that they form a distinctive genre unto themselves, within and adjacent to the mainstream of film noir. These are movies like Laura, The Reckless Moment, Don't Bother to Knock, and (particularly) Gaslight. I wasn't too far into The Invisible Man when I realized that I was watching a contemporary variant of the domestic noir. The elements of the form litter the film: the gaslighting husband, the woman escaping an abusive spouse, the challenge of staying out of jail or an asylum, the challenge of convincing authority figures that our heroine is not actually insane. This film does all of that. This film also reminds me a bit of The Entity, a 1982 film in which a woman is abused (including sexually) by an unseen force and who is not believed by authority figures and psychiatrists. What all of these stories have in common is a generalized fear of men that for many women is entirely justified. This is the core that makes The Invisible Man particularly scary. It's not that Adrian Griffin is exceptional because he's invisible and behaves the way he does because his invisibility (or his wealth) gives him impunity, it's because he is entirely commonplace. This is a story, sci-fi trappings aside, that is all too familiar.

On top of its more traditional elements, The Invisible Man adds a layer of techno-thriller dystopia. Cecilia is trapped as much in a surveillance nightmare as she is in an abusive marriage. One of the first things she does as she escapes is avert the eyes of a camera. Later in the film her invisible nemesis demonstrates how thoroughly he has her under his watchful eye. Cameras are a weapon in this film, and turn out to be an element of Adrian's invisibility technology. His invisibility suit is covered with lenses, like he wants to become some technological version of Argus from Greek myth. There's something distinctly alien about his appearance when you can see him. It's a genuinely unsettling design. Adrian himself is the exact kind of villain who haunts many contemporary day-after-tomorrow dystopias. He's a tech millionaire, one described by Cecilia as a narcissistic sociopath, and I can't really say if the film limits that description to its particular monster given the political moment in which the film arrives, or to some more general social critique. I like to think it's the latter.

The film sets all of this in a world that is downright mundane. When I describe this as a domestic thriller, understand that most of this film's scariest scenes are set in a middle-class house that seems lived in by real people. The things that it sets in motion to discomfort the audience are utterly banal: a pan that catches fire, a set of bed covers that slide off of the people sleeping in the bed, a misplaced kitchen knife. This understands the Steven Spielberg/Stephen King formulation of horror of the ordinary, in which the familiar becomes strange. It contrast this against the unfamiliar. Adrian's house is drastically different from the house of Cecilia's cop friend, James. It's a concrete and hardwood art object that doesn't seem so much a home as it does a spread in an architectural digest. It's a rich person's space, one that contrasts with a middle-class space in such a way as to suggest a drastic difference between the haves and have-nots. It's of a piece with a Bond-villain's secret base, or the lair of a mad scientist on the eve of the Singularity. It suggests the horror in the Bauhaus of The Black Cat from 1934 and the abodes of other more contemporary mad scientists in films like Ex Machina or Upgrade. The film splits the difference with it's scenes at the mental hospital, which is an ordinary hospital space embellished with locks and guards, but which calls to mind echoes of Bedlam and the Gothic image of the madhouse.

This is a remake in name only. This bears only a cursory resemblance to H. G. Wells's novel and even less resemblance to the 1933 film or any other film about the character. Gone is the tragic hero/villain of the Gothic imagination, the scientist who meddled in things man was not meant to know, the man desperate to find a cure for the affliction he has visited on himself. The drug metaphor is gone. The film is not centered on Griffin himself (though it gives Adrian that last name as a nod to its provenance). This is not a film where the horror is internalized by its central character. This is a film where the horror is visited on an innocent, like an act of an angry god. This is a film in which the monster really is a monster. As I mentioned, I think it's significant that Adrian is one of the contemporary world's masters of the universe. He's as much a symbol of the institutional hubris and cupidity of wealthy white men as he is the bete noir of women's domestic predators, and the film draws a parallel between them. This is a film in which patriarchy itself is the monster, which it makes explicit when Adrian asserts ownership of Cecilia's unborn child and of Cecilia herself. He expresses himself in terms of patriarchal monsters in the throes of a tantrum when thwarted. "Look what you made me do!" when refusing to take responsibility for his own crimes. He's singularly unsympathetic. So too is his brother, the lawyer, who symbolizes the legal protections such men often employ. He's a monster, too, and Cecilia is absolutely correct when she tells him that he's the "jellyfish version" of Adrian, the abuser without a spine of his own.

The film chooses instead to center on the monster's victim, who in turn becomes the monster hunter. This is a familiar arc from fantasy and suspense stories without number. Cecilia is a character who begins without power and must find it within herself in order to survive, who has the people who might help her stripped away one by one until there is only her. There's an essential narrative hook to this archetype, but it depends on the central character being wholly sympathetic. We get that here, thanks to Elisabeth Moss's performance as the character. The film takes advantage of Moss's screen image as one of the twitchiest actresses of her era and her association with The Handmaid's Tale, but the character isn't something she's played before. She plumbs extreme emotions in this film. When she emerges at the end, ready to meet the monster in his lair, she is all together different from the woman at the beginning of the film. Her experience throughout is a crucible. It hardens her. Notably, when she finally confronts Adrian face to face, she's a picture of sexual confidence. She's dressed to the nines in a little black dress, confronting him with a weaponized femininity. It's thrilling to watch, and cathartic too. While the other actors are mostly good enough, Moss is on screen--often in painful close-up--for the entire film, and she's more than up to carrying the weight of its story to its bitter end.

The Invisible Man represents a quantum leap in the artistic growth of its director. I liked Leigh Whannell's last film, Upgrade, a lot, and this one might take place in the same world. But where that film was steeped in pulp filmmaking, this one is more elegant. It's worlds apart from Whannell's roots in the Saw and Insidious franchises. Where those films were blunt instruments, this one is a razor blade. Whannell uses the empty spaces within the film frame to create an oppressive aura of menace throughout the film, such that the audience engages with the frame in a way that they might otherwise tune out. This bears a favorable comparison to the work of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who pioneered this kind of menace through shot composition two decades ago. Which isn't to say that this is an art horror film. It knows the value of a set piece. Adrian's rampage in the mental hospital is a fine piece of mayhem - a horror audience that wants carnage will not go home disappointed. It's made playful by the single word he says during the entire thing. The Invisible Man in this film, unlike his predecessor in the 1933 film, is downright laconic. When he speaks - usually single words - it's grotesquely witty. Whannell circles back to this at the end, too, in a beautifully executed ending (if you'll pardon the pun), which he punctuates with one of Adrian's earlier utterances.

Whannell is fortunate, too, in so far as Universal has apparently abandoned their plans for a shared "Dark Universe" on the Marvel model, because this film is unburdened by franchise building. It's a lean film that eschews a franchise movie's scale and eye-drugging special effects. The special effects in this movie are excellent, but deployed with a purpose and in a way that doesn't call undue attention to themselves. The ways this contrives to make the invisible man visible are entirely plot driven, and the effects that bring this to light are grace notes rather than the object of the film itself. It's all in the service of a character-driven story that is intimate in scale, and thus able to focus on specific pressure points that make the audience squirm in ways that an epic could never do. In the bargain, Universal has bought, for a budget of $7 million something they couldn't manufacture for $170 million: one of the best horror movies they've ever made, one that can join the company of the studio's formidable horror legacy unashamed.

Speaking of Universal's legacy, someone in their marketing department has a fine sense of their history. Compare the 1933 preview poster with the main poster for the current film.

You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19167 on: March 19, 2020, 11:39:05 AM »
For the first time in 11 years, I watched Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. It was.... fun. Yeah, a lot of it is slow, but if I am being fair, Quentin Tarantino knows a hell of a lot fuck more about fimmaking than I do. It was immensely satisfying and I absolutely love Brad Pitt in this movie. Everyone else, even Eli Roth gives outstanding performances. Also, who doesn't love seeing Nazis being slaughtered into absolute fucking oblivion?


Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19168 on: March 19, 2020, 04:11:32 PM »
The Princess and the Frog

I had high hopes for this one, but I found it largely disappointing.  Not bad but not great and largely forgettable.  That said, Doctor Facilier is one of the best Disney villains and deserves to be in a much better movie.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/yZAY-78zhmw" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/yZAY-78zhmw</a>

That's a fucking killer musical number and I love that his spiritual powers are used for a very base reasons, money, and is willing to damn an entire city to do it.  Keith David is a treasure but I had no idea he could belt it.


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19169 on: March 19, 2020, 04:26:26 PM »
Disney cell animation's last hurrah. I really wish they'd at least toss one out every couple years and remind us all of how beautiful they can be.