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Offline Darth Geek

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19440 on: October 19, 2020, 09:33:32 PM »
The Comedy of Terrors (1964) - Well that was...surprisingly unfunny. I went in with lowered expectations given the age of the film. But I figured with the cast of Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff it would be at least fun. Unfortunately it was not. The biggest problem is Vincent Price's character, he's just a mean drunk. Which could work comedically, especially since it's Vincent Price hamming it up. But it doesn't here because there aren't any consequences except for the very end. All the rest of the characters are more likable so him being needlessly cruel to them, especially his wife, is just awful to watch and not funny. Hell, half his complaining about women sounds like modern day incel talk. Even back in the 60s I wouldn't think that him berating his wife needlessly like that would be considered funny. Poor Boris Karloff is given barely anything to do.
This movie also looks super cheap. The sets, especially the graveyards, practically look like an Ed Wood movie.
The older chubbier Peter Lorre here did look like he would have been perfect to play The Penguin.



Offline stansimpson

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19441 on: October 19, 2020, 10:23:02 PM »
On the Rocks is playing at our local indie theater (12 people max per screening), so I got my ticket the moment I found out and watched it this weekend. Lost In Translation is in my Top 10 favorite films of all time, and I've seen everything that Sofia Coppola has done and enjoyed it all in varying degrees. For this outing, I'll say I quite liked it, but I can’t say that I loved it. It’s much closer to “Somewhere” than “Lost In Translation" (not a bad thing btw). I think if you liked what the trailer was promising, you’ll probably like the movie enough. It's not terribly deep, but it's a fun little bittersweet journey through existential marital doubt. I could've had more Bill Murray, but it's Rashida Jones' story. I will be happy to add this one to my collection when it comes out on blu-ray. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 06:26:33 AM by stansimpson »


Offline Darth Geek

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19442 on: October 25, 2020, 09:07:44 PM »
The Mortuary Collection (2020) - That was really good! Particularly Clancy Brown as the mortician host, he was a lot of fun. All the segments are good, although the last one is the weakest since it's mainly a slasher. Worth it for the ending though. I'd love to see this get sequels, although they would have to get Clancy Brown back.



Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19443 on: October 25, 2020, 09:44:49 PM »
An Orphan's Tragedy ( 1955 )
Another film Bruce Lee did as a kid. There seems to be a theme of the films Cinema Epoch chose to release on DVD. Bruce Lee plays an orphan in each of them. An the two in this double feature set star actor Wood-Yao Cheung as Bruce Lee's character as an adult. I have no idea if Lee was cast in these films because he looked like Cheung, or if Cheung was cast in these films because he looked like Lee. Last week I said of The Guiding Light that it seemed like one of those Charles Dickens novels where an orphan goes through a miserable childhood before finally getting a happy ending. This week's movie is an adaption of a Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations  Lee is in the first half of the movie as an orphan named Frank, with Cheung taking over in the second half as an adult Frank. Once again, not a martial arts film, although the ending where Frank and his father confront the villain and his henchmen and a fight breaks out could have easily had martial arts instead of regular fighting. Another good film that feels like something Hollywood was churning out in the 1930s.

You Only Live Twice ( 1967 )
Eon had thought they would be doing Casino Royal next, only to discover the producer with rights to that novel had already made a deal with M.G.M. to make the movie for their studio.  So the next logical step was to adapt the next two novels in the Blofeld trilogy. Despite what the movies would have you believe,  Blofeld only appeared in three Bond novels, Thunderball,  On Her Majesties  Secret Service and You Only Live Twice, all three which follow a story arc. Since Fleming had ceded the rights of SPECTRE and Blofeld  to Kevin McClory, the final You Only Live Twice had SPECTRE disbanded and Bond taking down Blofeld, locking his appearances in the novels in a trilogy.  Otherwise, Fleming would have continued using the character.  Eon introduced SPECTRE into films based on novels where SMERSH was the organization Bond was fighting.  Blofeld had not yet formerly been introduced in the series. Even in the adaptation of Thunderball the leader of SPECTRE is depicted as a mysterious man only shown from the back, or in shadows.

On Her Majesties Secret Service should have been the next film. But producers Saltzman and Broccoli,  who had been planning to shoot the next Bond movie in France, decided scouting the Alps for the locations needed for On Her Majesties Secret Service would take too long, and instead decided to film You Only Live Twice because finding locations in Japan would be easier. Well, not entirely easier. When the entire Eon production crew including Saltzman and Broccoli went to Japan to scout locations  their airliner crashed killing everyone aboard.  Luckily the members of Eon had been invited to a sumo wrestling competition,  and not wanting to offend their hosts, rescheduled for a later flight. This wasn't the only reason why the Bond franchise nearly ended. Sean Connery decided that he had enough of playing Bond on screen,  and wanted to retire from the role. He was given a substantial pay increase to play the role once again. But let Broccoli and Saltzman know that this would be his final Bond film. Which is a damn shame considering how the  next film, which could have been the best in the series, turned out. More on that next week.

Eon hired Fleming's friend, author Roald Dahl, to adapt the novel into a screenplay. Dahl was better known for such classics as James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but had never written a screenplay before. Ein had already hired Harold Jack Bloom to write the screenplay,  only to reject it. However,  they did enjoy a couple of original bits Bloom had created for the movie, specifically the opening where Bond is presumably killed, only for it to be revealed MI6 had him fake his own death. Broccoli and Saltzman insisted Dahl keep those parts in his screenplay.

Dahl soon realized why Eon was eager to hire him. The novel was unfilmable.  As one of Fleming's close friends,  perhaps Dahl had some insight into the Bond character and could fashion an original Bond story to go with what they couldn't use from the book. The original plot took place in the aftermath of On Her Majesties Secret Service.  MI6 has successfully disbanded SPECTRE and it's founder Blofeld is a wanted fugitive.  Meanwhile,  Bond is in a deep decline, often turning to drink to forget his troubles.  He is close to being fired by MI6 when M decides to reassign him in their diplomatic unit in Japan, and given a mission to trade intelligence with the Japanese secret service.  There he is asked to assassinate Dr. Guntram Shatterhand, who operates a spa where people go to commit suicide by walking through a garden of poisonous plants. Shatterhand is protected as a diplomat and the Japanese government can do nothing to stop him. Bond realizes that Shatterhand is Blofeld, and accepts the assignment so he can extract his revenge.  There is a climatic duel between Bond and Blofeld, but while escaping the spa, Bond receives a brain injury and gets amnesia.  No longer remembering his name or former life, the second half of the novel has him living in a Japanese village trying to figure out who he is, while the rest of the world assumes that James Bond had been killed during his encounter with Blofeld and even has a funeral for him. The novel ends on a cliffhanger as Bond remembers the name of a Russian city called Vladivostok and decides to travel there to see if he can rediscover his identity.

Since Blofeld and SPECTRE would be in the next Bond film, the disbanding of SPECTRE or downfall of Blofeld could not be used. Since the events in On Her Majesties Secret Service had taken place prior to You Only Live Twice in the literary continuity, there wasn't even a reason for Bond to seek revenge against Blofeld, or any traumatic event that would cause Bond to go in a downward spiral.  Nor could they use the cliffhanger ending. Bloom had tried to write an entire script where Bond had amnesia,  but Saltzman and Broccoli didn't like it. So the only option left was to take the characters and a few events from the novel and use them in an original story. Despite being a close friend of Fleming,  Dahl had no idea how to write a Bond story. Instead he simply copied much of the plot from Dr. No and basically distilled the Bond film into a formula which he then turned into a screenplay about SPECTRA stealing space crafts in order to cause a World War between the United States and the Soviet Union.  This became the first Bond film in to completely ignore its source material and make up a new story ( Casino Royale at least had some of the novel's plot, ) the first to rely entirely on a "Bond" formula, and the beginning of the dumbing down of the Bond franchise.  Eon was pleased enough with Dahl's script that they immediately hired him to adapt another Fleming novel for screen,  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

This is a contender for the worst of the Bond films. You get the formula without much of a plot that dominates the later Bond films, but not the action. At least in the Moore era films you would go from one action scene to the next. We don't get much of that in this film. There are two vehicle chase scenes in this film, but without the imagination the chase scene in Casino Royale from the same year had. In one, Bond has escaped from the villain's office building with some clues he has stolen from a safe. He jumps into a car driven by one of the Bond girls and they are chased by henchmen in another car. Aside from turning a few corners, nothing really happens.  A helicopter with an electromagnet flies above the henchmen's car, snags it, then flies it away and drops it into the bay. A nifty visual, but not as exciting as if Bond did various car stunts to evade his pursuers.  The other vehicle chase involves "Little Nellie", a miniature helicopter Bond flies over an island suspected of being a SPECTRE base which is confronted by armed SPECTRE helicopters.  Of course Little Nellie is armed with gadgets, so basically we just see Bond knock out each SPECTRE craft with one of the gadgets instead of doing various stunts to evade them. The film doesn't really get exciting until the final act, where the SPECTRE base is invaded by an army of machine gun toting Ninjas working for the Japanese secret service. But by then you have sat through 90 minutes of mostly boredom with a few odd death traps and fist fights thrown in that occasionally break the monotony. SPECTRE's scheme this time, they have their own space craft that is capable of swallowing American and Russian space craft. The Americans blame the Russians for it, and the Russians blame the Americans for it, each convinced the other is sabotaging their space programs. What SPECTRE wants to do is cause the United States and U.S.S.R. to get into a war, because China is paying them to do it hoping once America and Russia have annihilated  each other then they will be the only super power left.  Not much of a plan, and the beginning of the villain with a doomsday machine trope in the Bond films. Even the theme song is a dud. Nancy Sinatra's You Only Live Twice is perhaps the most forgettable of all the Bond theme songs.

It is amazing how sloppy Saltzman and Broccoli allowed Dahl to get with this script. One of the clues that leads Bond to SPECTRE's hidden base, is the papers he finds in the villain's safe. Apparently a tourists took a picture of the island with the base from a cruise ship, and was eliminated. But for some reason, instead of just destroying the tourist's roll of film, SPECTRE took it out of the camera, had it developed, then wrote on the picture "This is the picture the tourist took of the island. We had her eliminated" Meanwhile, there is a fishing village on the island that SPECTRE has no problem with. I am sure the people of the village saw SPECTRE constructing their base in the volcano, or at the least noticed the SPECTRE rockets taking off and landing at the base. But while SPECTRE will kill some poor woman just because she mistakenly took a picture of their hidden base, they have no concern of the hundreds of fishermen living on the island who take their catch to the mainland markets every day, and could probably tell anyone about their base. Also, why did Dahl feel the need to have Bond married in this film when he knew darn well that the net film would be base on the one novel where Bond gets married? Sure, it turned out to be a scam wedding so Bond could go undercover as a fisherman, but it dilutes the impact of the plot of the film coming up.  Also, it made no sense. The wedding takes place away from the island where the rest of the fisher village doesn't see it. Bond and the female agent could have shown up saying they were married without needing to go through a ceremony. Also, plot convenience theater where the female agent from this film turns out to have grown up in the very fisher village where SPECTRE decided to build their base next to.

It's not as bad as Casino Royale from the same year, but a very forgettable entry in the Bond franchise. In retrospect, Eon should have done On Her Majesties Secret Service first, giving Connery a great Bond film to leave the franchise on, and then given Lazenby a literal adaption of the You Only Live Twice novel with the Blofeld revenge in the first  half hour and the rest of the film being Bond with amnesia, which would have been a fitting plot for a new Bond.


Offline Cupcake

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19444 on: October 29, 2020, 10:49:00 AM »
Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

Movie was a lot of fun and full of moments that would have any normal person saying "What the actual fuck?" The idea of dropping a blatantly offensive caricature into people's every day life and seeing how they react to it is just as funny as it was when the first came out. Maria Bakalova was incredible and stole every scene she was in, except the one where Rudy decided to give the weasel a tug; that scene goes to him.

The scenes at the crisis pregnancy center and the plastic surgery office were top tier.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19445 on: November 01, 2020, 08:12:26 PM »
The Kid ( 1950 )
 No, not a remake of the classic 1921 Chaplin comedy.  This was a film starring Lee Hoi Cheun and co-starring his son, Bruce Lee.  Based on a Chinese comic strip called Kiddy Cheung which was popular in Hong Kong during the late 40s and early 50s, Lee plays the lead character, a 10 year old orphan raised by his Uncle who after helping a gangster called Flash Knife Lee escape from the police, is invited to join his gang, even though his uncle would rather he go to school. The plot of the film is a slightly hard to follow story about  a textile factory owner who's son is sexually harrasing the female employees and stealing  from the stock and selling it to criminals. The movie feels like it came from a print that is missing a reel or two, or had scenes edited out, because there are some jumps in the story. For example,  while robbing a  main character, Flash Knife stabs him and leaves him on the ground for dead, and then kidnaps a girl who witnessed it. Suddenly it is months later. The character that was stabbed is walking around as if nothing happened and the girl is back working in the factory, and no one mentions the prior scene.

This film was made for fans of a comic strip that was only known in Hong Kong in the 1940s and 1950s. So basically anyone outside of Hong Kong, or not in their 70s, would not remember the strip this film is based on,  would not remember the story lines from the strip, and would not recognize the characters in it. What they would recognize is Bruce Lee, who after joining Flash Knife's gang struts around bowlegged and arms outstretched like he is a tough muscular guy. More important, he does the tough guy facial gestures that he would in his martial arts films, including rubbing his nose with his thumbs.  It is one of the few films Lee did as a child where he acts like one of the characters from his adult films.  He even briefly fights in this film with another child, and wins. It is nothing as good as his martial arts fights as an adult, but never the less what qualifies as  a Bruce Lee fight. So while Bruce Lee fans would be a little lost when it came to following this movie, and would not get the nostalgia from the comic strip it was based on, would probably get a kick out of the brief tidbits  that foreshadow the adult Bruce Lee in his martial arts films.  The story is, ehhh. So unless you are a fan of the strip or a fan of Bruce Lee, I suggest avoiding it.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service ( 1969 )
Since this is a rare day when I am watching both a George Lazenby film and Bruce Lee film, I decided to start this review off with my favorite Lazenby story. The closest Lazenby and Lee got to being in the same film for real. After bailing out on the Bond franchise,  Lazenby discovered no studio wanted him. Which is how he ended up in Hong Kong after getting an offer for a three picture deal. After three very successful films made for the Chinese market, and Hollywood giving him his first starring role in Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee decided he would be producing his own films in Hong Kong for the foreseeable future. Lee already had Hollywood connections due to him teaching martial arts to various major celebrities, and with Enter the Dragon about to be released, hoped to be able to cast many prominent actors in his current passion project, a film to be called  The Game Of Death.

Golden Harvest studio head Raymond Chow learned of George Lazenby being unable to find work, and thought he would be desperate enough to agree to a three picture deal with their studio. But although he got Lazenby and his agent to show up for a meeting, the actor was not thrilled that Golden Harvest was a new studio that was nowhere as prestigious as Shaw Brothers, and feared ending up in a bunch of cheap martial arts movies. To alleviate his fears, Chow invited Lazenby to a party for him to meet their star Bruce Lee. Bruce was eager to work with James Bond, and wanted Lazenby in his next three films. ( It should be noted that Roger Moore had only filmed one Bond film at that point, so as far a Bruce Lee was concerned, Lazenby was just as much James Bond as Moore. )

Lazenby was impressed with the charisma of Lee, and was impressed by learning how Lee was about to be the star of a major Hollywood film. Lee pitched Lazenby the three films he wanted him in. The Game of Death which Lee was in talks with Steve McQueen,  Elvis Presley and Mohammed Ali to be among his opponents. A buddy cop picture that would follow Game of Death where Lazenby would play a rogue detective from Australia seeking  the drug ring that caused his daughter to overdose  and Lee an undercover agent trying to take down the same ring. And a fantasy called The Magic Flute which Lee was doing with James Coburn. When Lee was done, Lazenby was sold, and signed the three picture deal at the party. Shortly after signing the deal, Lee left the party.  Lazenby stayed behind to get to know his new co-workers.  About a half hour later Raymond Chow silenced everyone so he could take a phone call, then looking as if he had seen a ghost, raced out of the party. Word soon spread that Bruce Lee had just died.

Lee may have been dead, but Lazenby still owed Golden Harvest three movies. While The Game of Death and The Magic Flute were both postponed indefinitely,  the studio still went ahead with the buddy cop film, called Stoner with Lazenby now billed as the star, and Angela Mao taking over Bruce Lee's role. Stoner didn't do so well at the box office, so Lazenby was reduced to villain in his next contract film The Man From Hong Kong which was meant to introduce Jimmy Wang Yu to the international market as the next Bruce Lee. That film didn't do so well either,  but at the least it's theme song Sky High by the band Jigsaw became a huge worldwide hit. Finally both Lazenby and Wang Yu were reduced to co-villains in A Queen's Ransom with Lazenby dropping to third billing. A Queen's Ransom is notorious for filming Queen Elizabeth through a telescopic lenses during her state visit to Hong Kong and editing her into the movie without her permission. Lazenby lost his last chance to be in a Bruce Lee movie when production on Game of Death was held up for another five years. The role he would have gotten went to Huge O'Brian. The closest Lazenby came to being in a Bruce Lee movie,  aside from documentaries,  was 1977's Kentucky Fried Movie which did a parody of Enter the Dragon with a Bruce Lee imitator. 

George Lazenby isn't as well known today. He is known as "Who the hell is this guy?" To anyone new to the Bond franchise.  That's how I knew him when On Her Majesty's Secret Service aired on ABC, the network that aired all the Bond films. My friends had the same reaction.  He wasn't Sean Connery and he wasn't Roger Moore, that's all we knew. It is because Lazenby was neither Connery nor Moore that ABC, who had a deal with Eon to air the Bond films as many times as  they liked, only aired On Her Majesty's Secret Service once, while the other Bond films got multiple reruns.

Different story in 1969 when Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli were promoting him as the next James Bond, spending a fortune in advertisements. After five films Sean Connery called it quits. The usual reason being he was sick of playing the same character, but also the usual falling out with the producers over his salary and not fond of how they replaced the plot from the novel  You Only Live Twice with a bland formula plot when Connery had signed on to the series in order to bring the novels to film. Eon approached Timothy Dalton to be the new James Bond, but he didn't want to be the actor who replaced Sean Connery. Others actors gave the same reason. The role was eventually given to Australian model George Lazenby,  who's only acting experience was in a television commercial.  He was given a seven film contract. Lazenby thought he could take the Bond character in a new counter culture direction.  Eon told him no, that they already had a successful formula for Bond, and he was to follow it. Lazenby said he immediately grew disillusioned with the role, and has claimed he deliberately walked through his role so he could get out of his contract.  Or maybe he just couldn't act that well in 1969. The last straw for Eon was Lazenby growing a beard  and mustache and dressing like a hippie on the Bond promotional tour, not even  shaving for the premiere, and claiming he was doing no more Bond films in interviews.  Broccoli let him out of his contract as he wanted, but warned him as he left that he would be reduced to making spaghetti westerns for the rest of his acting career after pulling that stunt.
 
To be fair, the real reason Lazenby gets so much flack for his portrayal of Bond is because he was in only one film. It took some time for audiences to accept Roger Moore,  but by his third Bond film everyone thought of him as Bond. Dalton has the same problem having only starred as Bond twice. Had Daniel Craig quit after Casino Royale we would have never accepted him as the new Bond. My biggest problem with Lazenby wasn't his acting, but that he was sandwiched in between two Connery films, the next film which had Connery as Bond taking vengeance for the events in this film. Although the run of Eon films up to Daniel Craig were in the same continuity, they were also within their own separate continuities.  Connery had the entire SPECTRE arc. Moore was the comedy Bond who went after wealthy criminals who could afford their own army of henchmen,  who usually built their own doomsday machines. Brosnan was the Bond trying to adjust to a post Cold War. Every Bond had their own run of films. Lazenby doesn't. He is in one of the Connery films as a substitute.  Because of all of this, it is almost impossible to accept Lazenby as Bond. Unless, of course, you are Bruce Lee.  For the rest of us he is the "Who the hell is this guy?" and always will be.

Which brings us to the biggest continuity error in the entire run of the Eon Bond films. Bond is on the trail of Blofeld,  and discovers he has taken the identity of Count Balthazar de Bleuchamp. Blofeld has been corresponding with a genealogist named Sir Hilary Bray because he wants his claim as a count to be recognized.  Pretending to be Bray, Bond infiltrates Blofeld's base. For some reason Blofeld doesn't recognize Bond, nor is Bond worried about Blofeld figuring out who he is. The problem.... in the previous film Blofeld and Bond not only met face to face, but Blofeld had Bond at gunpoint for nearly 20 minutes.  You can blame this on Roald Dahl's sloppy script for You Only Live Twice, which should not have had Bond meeting Blofeld as Eon was going to next adapt a novel where Blofeld doesn't recognize Bond. However,  this turns out to be entirely Eon's fault. The film was originally going to open with Bond getting plastic surgery so that Lazenby's different appearance could be explained.  Plastic surgery would have been the Bond series version of regeneration for each new actor who took over. However,  as Lazenby began saying he wanted out of his contract  to do seven additional Bond films even before filming began and Sean Connery was signaling he was willing to return for a million dollar payday, Eon decided to eliminate the plastic surgery scene, just in case Lazenby didn't return for any more films. Instead,  at the end of the pre-credit scene, Lazenby looks at the camera and says "This didn't happen to the other guy." letting the audience know it was the same character but different actor.

Another reason for the continuity error was Seltzer's insistence that this time the do the closest adaptation of the novel possible.  It is the one film in the series that adapts the entire novel with no major embellishments.  And marked the final time Eon bothered to adapt the plot from any of the Bond novels. From this point on Bond films only had a few plot points and characters from the novels,  but were entirely formula driven original plots that allowed Bond to globe trot and go from one action scene to the next.

Speaking of action, this is the first Bond film to have the action scenes we were use to in the later films. And the first to have Bond in a ski chase.  You have to wait until two thirds of this 2 hour 20 minute film for the first actual chase scene to happen, but from that point on the remainder of the film, excluding the five minutes for Bond's wedding at the end of the film,  is pure action. Bond goes from a ski chase, to a car chase that ends up in a demolition derby, to another ski chase, to a shootout between SPECTRE and an army of good guys culminating in the blowing up of Blofeld's base, to Bond chasing Blofeld on a bobsled run. Maybe there was a little too much of Lazenby, Rigg and Telly Savales ( who played Blofeld this time around ) in background projections intercut with obvious stuntmen who did the actual action. But this was both a major jump in the action content, as well as the first time in an Eon film where stunts were plotted out in an action scene. There is no theme song. In the past, after the score was written,  lyrics were written for the main theme. This time around it was decide "On her Majesty's Secret Service" just didn't work as the title lyrics of a song. So it was decided just to go with an instrumental.  There is, however, the love theme between James Bond and his eventual wife Tracy, We Have All The Time In The World as sung by Louis Armstrong, and was the last single he released before his death.

This was the second Bond film to steal John Steed's partner from the series The Avengers. Diana Rigg played the leather catsuit wearing  Emma Peel, who had replaced Steed's other partner Cathy Gale when actress Honor Blackman left the show to star in Goldfinger. But while this movie did relive The Avengers of another one of it's stars, it did provide a replacement.  Joanna Lumley began her film career in this movie as one of Blofeld's hypnotized girls. She would later become Steed's partner Mrs Purdy in the reboot series The New Avengers. Rigg played Tracy di Vicenzo, the love of Bond's life, and perhaps the most important character in the entire Eon series prior to the reboot, playing into the plots of Diamonds Are Forever and Licence to Kill, as well as the opening segment of For Your Eyes Only, tying Lazenby,  Connery,  Moore and Dalton together as the same cannon Bond character.

Something I always forget about this film is that it is a Christmas movie. Just slightly, the way Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Bond infiltrates Blofeld's headquarters  during Christmas, and yes, Blofeld  has a Christmas tree. Part of his latest scheme is to give hypnotized girls Christmas gifts that contain biological weapons he wants them to activate when they return home. One of the reasons Blofeld suspects Bond is not Sir Hilary Brey is because Bond suggests they both go to Blofeld's supposed ancestral home to look for documents supporting his claim that he is a legal heir as a count. This was an attempt to get Blofeld out of Swiss jurisdiction where he could legally be arrested. But Blowfeld has to remind Bond everything would be closed for Christmas. Later when Bond escapes from Blofeld's base, he arrives in a town celebrating Christmas with a winter festival. There is pretty much enough here to qualify this as a Christmas movie, but I have never seen it on anyone's Christmas movie list.

Despite Lazenby, who's performance becomes more tolerable on each viewing of this film, this is one of my favorite of the original run of the Eon Bond films. A tie for #3 with Live and Let Die with From Russia With Love at #2 and Licence To Kill at #1.  This is one of the rare instances where a love story actually elevates an action film instead of slowing it down. Tracy is a wonderful character, and you wish she had gone on to be in the rest of the Bond franchise films, even if it meant being on the screen briefly  as was the case with Felix Liter and played by different actresses. Lazenby may have not given a great performance, but here Rigg delivered a performance of her lifetime, making the story all the more powerful. When her character is not involved with most of the middle of the film you miss her absence. Of course, she can't be in that part of the film as Bond goes back to sleeping around with several girls to get information from them. In fact, despite Bond having fallen for Tracy, he goes on to f#*k ( or attempt to f#*k as it is only suggested he got to several other girls ) the most girls he ever has in a Bond film in a matter of 20 minutes. Still, you can understand why he chose to marry Tracy, while all the other girls he ended up with at the ends of his films are never mentioned again in any subsequent films.  Telly Savales is probably my least favorite of the actors to portray Blofeld, mostly because he doesn't fit in with the character as established by the other actors. But is still effective as a Bond villain.

One last thing. The irony was not lost on me that the very day Sean Connery died, I would be watching the one Bond film during his era that he skipped. But I decided to rewatch my Bond collection months ago as one film a week, so there is no way this could have been timed out on my part. It is all Connery's fault for choosing not to do On Her Majesty's Secret Service which could have been his best Bond film, and for deciding to drop dead on Halloween, which anyone knows is the last day you want to die on. The top two worst decisions Connery ever made. (  Zardoz would be #3 )
« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 08:23:23 PM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19446 on: November 08, 2020, 08:13:57 PM »
I Am Bruce Lee ( 2012 )
Continuing with my upgrade of the Bruce Lee section of my film library,  the latest Bruce Lee documentary.  I am not sure why I even bother getting these, because there hasn't been any new information added to any of these documentaries since the first one Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend in 1973. About the only difference is the archival footage used, or not used. Depending on what the film's producer decides to pay the license for,  there is always something missing ( for example,  when making Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend, Golden Harvest didn't want to pay what the producer of The Green Hornet were asking for licensing footage from that show, so it was just barely mentioned and used a public domain publicity photo, while they could get footage from Longstreet for cheap, so made a bigger deal out of that series. ) Another issue is always the quality of the archival footage, which is often culled from sources other than the owners of the actual negatives. In the case of this documentary, it appears the archival footage was culled from Youtube or some other low resolution streaming source. It would be nice to some day see a definitive Bruce Lee documentary that goes into full detail of his life and films, and uses every bit of archival footage including all his hoe movies and tournament appearances, and copied from the first generation masters of each. The closest we ever came to that was the Biography channel documentary.

Diamonds Are Forever ( 1971 )
Lazenby was out. He had lost interest in making Bond movies even before his first Bond film, sa well as firs film period, began production. Meanwhile United Artists,  the American movie studio that had been the North American distributor of the Bond films, kept insisting Eon hire Sean Connery back. In fact,  while Eon was spending a fortune promoting Lazenby as the next Bond who was about to shoot his first Bond film, UA met with Connery and tried to negotiate him returning to the series. Connery would only consider coming back for $1.5 million, which at the time would have been a record salary for a single film. UA realized why Eon wasn't hiring Connery back, and that was that.

Eon wanted to keep Lazenby. They had already spent a lot of money promoting the new Bond, and felt his acting abilities and  attitude towards the role would improve with the next few films, and soon everyone would be saying "Sean who?" whenever Bond was mentioned.  But going to the premiere unshaven with a hippie beard and mustache and despairing the Bond character to reporters was the last straw. Lazenby was let out of his contract,  and that was that.

Eon was now looking for a new Bond. There are stories of Roger Moore being approached  as well as Timothy Dalton again. Supposedly Burt Reynolds was offered the role and turned it down  because he felt Bond should be played by an Englishman.  Perhaps my favorite unconfirmed casting story was that Eon offered the role to Adam West, and he turned them down because he didn't want to be type casted as Bond. Eon eventually signed American actor John Gavin to play Bond, but then met resistance from their distributor UA who had other ideas as to who should play Bond. They wanted Connery back, and were now willing to meet his terms.

What changed their minds? Was it the poor reception of Lazenby? Well, actually no. It was producer Kevin McClory who owned the film rights to the novel Thunderball as well as SPECTRE and it's leader Blofeld. After Eon had decided to create an original story for You Only Live Twice instead of adapting the novel, McClory realized he had a loophole that would allow him to make his own series of Bond films. Continue to adapt Thunderball over and over again, each time giving it an original plot and new title,  and only keep one or two elements from the novel to make it all legal. And since Connery was no longer on speaking terms with Eon, could use him as the Bond for the counter series.  And since he owned SPECRE and Blofeld, they would be in his series,  not Eons. McClory approached Connery,  but could not afford what he was asking, so began looking for a studio who would finance his series and pay whatever Connery wanted.

The last thing UA needed was a competing Bond series with Sean Connery and SPECRE, so to shut that down they met with Connery again and offered him the $1.5 million. But Connery  simply didn't want to do Bond anymore and never expected any studio to seriously meet his offer. So he gave them a counter offer. The $1.5 million, and he got to choose two lead roles in upcoming UA projects of his choosing.  UA agreed to the terms, and whether Eon liked it or not, Sean was Bond again for the next film, John Gavin's contract was terminated with the provision he still get paid the money he was promised, and that was that.

Meanwhile,  Eon was struggling to figure out just what the next Bond film would be. They had already announced the next novel to be adapted would be Diamonds Are Forever, chosen specifically because most of the novel could be replaced with a new plot. Eon had two problems.  One was that they had already adapted You Only Live Twice which was the follow up novel to On Her Majesty's Secret Service and was the one where a vengeful James Bond hunts down Ernst Blofeld and has their final confrontation.  The events in On Her Majesty's Secret Service would need to be avenged in the following film. In fact, they had considered editing out the ending of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and instead using that footage as the cold opening to the next film. However,  with Lazenby claiming he would be doing no more Bond films, Eon couldn't risk it.

The other problem,  neither Blofeld or SPECTRE were in any of the Bond novels that Eon had left to adapt,  so could not legally use them for Bond to take his revenge. But while McClory may have owned Blofeld and  SPECTRE,  Blofeld's second in command Irma Bunt was entirely Ian Fleming's creation.  So the decision was made that it would be casually mentioned that  between films Bond had tracked down and  killed  Blofeld, and SPECTRE was disbanded, leaving Irma who had actually pulled the trigger as the one Bond hunts down in the next film.

Eon was not that thrilled with being reduced to Bond hunting down one of Blofeld's underlings,  and then Lazenby was officially out, decided to abandon the revenge plot and instead do a sequel to their most successful Bond film Goldfinger. The same director returned, and Shirley Bassey was rehired to sing the theme song. The idea was to replace the villain from the novel with Goldfinger's twin brother who is looking for revenge. Despite having the last name of Goldfinger,  the brother's mineral of choice was diamonds. This version was ready to go when UA let Eon know they had negotiated for Connery to return for o e more film, and has also negotiated with McClory for the use of SPECTRE and Blofeld.

Meanwhile Albert Broccoli,  who  was close friends with Howard Hughes  and had watched as he became a recluse living in a Las Vegas penthouse  who was obsessed with conspiracy theories,  had a nightmare about him. In the nightmare he finds out that Hughes had been replaced with an impostor who only Broccoli could detect, but everyone else believed was Hughes.  Just some of Hughes rambling conspiracy theories that ended up in Broccoli's dream. But would become inspiration for a new plot where SPECTRE kidnaps a Hughes type recluse millionaire living in a Vegas penthouse and replaces him with an impostor who funnels his wealth and resources into SPECTRE's next scheme.

As for the revenge part, the cold opening now had Bond roughing up various criminals demanding to know the whereabouts of Blofeld,  until one of them gives him up. He finds Blofeld attempting to create lookalikes via plastic surgery,  but eventually finds the right one and kills him. So much for Blofeld.  With that out of the way the film follows part of the novel. Bond is assigned to track down the leader of a diamond smuggling ring by impersonating one of the smugglers.  At least some of the novel is here, but then goes off book when Bond's trail leads him to a mysterious wealthy recluse living in a penthouse over a Las Vegas casino. This isn't really a spoiler unless you were fooled by the opening,  but the trail eventually leads to Blofeld who has been using the smuggled diamonds to build a satellite with a death ray which he plans to use to once again ransom western civilization.  That is until Bond and an army of agents blow up his base. Bond sort of kills Blofeld, but like every time before, no one in MI6 bothers to check and see if there is a body. Yep, Eon wanted an open ended death just in case they wanted to use Blofeld again.

Diamonds Are Forever seems more like a parody of a parody of a Bond film than part of the actual Eon series. Basically, it feels way off. Although Sean Connery was back, he didn't seem like the same Bond from the first five Bond films.  They didn't even bother to dye Connery's hair black this time. The mood is much different, closer to the cartoonish films that dominated the Moore era. In one scene, Bond  has taken the identity of a smuggler named Peter Franks, but then learns that Franks has escaped from police custody  and is on his way to a pre arranged meeting with the smuggling ring, which would blow Bond's cover. He intercepts frank and kills him in an elevator, then slips Bond's credit card into his wallet so that everyone who witnessed the fight thinks that Franks killed James Bond. I mention this scene because when Jill St. John's character Tiffany Case find's the credit card, she loos shocked and says "You just killed James Bond" as if she is talking about Bond being a superhero. He is supposed to be a secret agent.  I can understand SPECTRE knowing who Bond is, but Tiffany Case is supposed to be a common criminal. So basically Bond is well known to every criminal on the planet? So much for being a secret agent. You got less of this in the films that followed, but here Bond is a world famous crime fighter even though his past exploits were supposed to have happened during classified operations.

The idea of the villain having an interesting henchman who goes around assassinating the good guys is back from the last one the series had, Odd Job in Goldfinger. Perhaps because while the script was being developed they were attempting to recreate Goldfinger. This time two  characters from the novel, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd who are enforcers for a gang that wasn't used in the movie, end up as hitmen working for SPECTRE who have been murdering everyone associated with the diamond smuggling pipeline so that no trail leads to Blofeld. In the novel they are suspected of being a homosexual couple, which is suggested in the film with minor moments, like Kidd and Wint walking away from one of their murders holding hands. After each of their kills, they make some sort of jokey remark, which brings the film further into cartoonish territory. They also reinstate the cliché of a Bond henchmen returning for revenge at the end of the film after the villain is dead. Which from this point on would be added to the growing James Bond  formula which would solidify for the Moore era. This film had less action than the previous film, but still far more than the first five films. There are just two back to back vehicle chases. One where Bond is being chased through a desert in a stolen moon buggy, and a much better scene where the police chase him through the streets ov Las Vegas, culminating in a stunt where Bond is able to evade them by driving through an alleyway too narrow for cars by hitting a loading dock ramp so the car is at an angle driving on two wheels. You have to wait for the midpoint of the film for the chase scenes. It seemed that by this time EON was pacing out the action as follows: some sort of fight in the cold opening, a fistfight with one of the enemy agents about a quarter of the way through the film, car chases somewhere in the middle, and the final quarter of the film being an army of the good guys attacking the villain's base which is defended by an army of his henchmen, and now followed by an attempt on Bond's life by a surviving henchman as the closing of the film.

rapidly developing Bond film formula aside, once again we get no consistency with the series main character Blofeld, this time played by Charles Gray, who had also played one of the English agents in You Only Live Twice. At a near tie for least favorite Blofeld with Telly Sevales, Grey does not shave his head for his part. So basically Blofeld went from being in the shadows, to being a bald man with a scar, to a bald man without a scar, to having hair and no scar.  There is far more consistency in the Doctors from the series Doctor Who than there is with Blofeld in the Bond series. At least when they cast new Bonds, they try to find actors who look similar enough  to Connery, and act the same way his version of Bond did. Of course one could point out that there was no consistency with the character Felix Leiter, but aside from the first film in the original series, his character has very little screen time.

The best way to describe this film is a sort of mess. We don't get enough of the source novel for a coherent plot. The part about Blofeld's latest doomsday machine seems tacked on and rushed in the third act. The bit about Blofeld kidnapping a Howard Hughes type character and taking over his empire is a decent idea, but is short changed in this film. Wint and Kidd seem to have no purpose other to add killer henchmen who tell jokes. The theme song is among the forgettable ones. And there is not enough action for a series that is no longer relying on plot. It is entertaining, but feels like one of the lesser Bond films even though all the elements are there for it to be among the best.


Offline ScottotD

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19447 on: November 09, 2020, 05:48:13 PM »
Ip Man: Kung Fu Master

The new guy playing Ip Man wasn't as great an actor as Donnie Yen but the fight scenes were pretty spectacular, especially on the big screen.  Was on the fence about going to see Enter the Dragon at the cinema later in the month but I definitely will now
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Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19448 on: November 11, 2020, 10:28:12 AM »
Doctor Strange - Out of curiosity i went back to revisit this really great entry in the MCU. By 2016, the MCU was already rocketing towards greatness, thanks to prior entries like Iron Man, Captain America, Captain America The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and 2016's Captain America Civil War.

You know the story... or maybe you don't. I will elucidate. Doctor Stephen Strange, egomaniac and uber-talented Surgeon gets in an accident that leaves his hands disfigured. He seeks the help of a mystic in Kathmandu only known as "The Ancient One". Through great story-telling, Doctor Strange not only proves to be a great and powerful origin story, but he is also the ONLY superhero in 2016 worthy of wearing a red cape. Yes... that was a direct attack on you, Batman Vs Superman.

And of course, my favorite line in the movie is "Dormammu, I've come to bargain!".
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Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19449 on: November 16, 2020, 12:11:17 AM »
The Black Dragon's Revenge ( a.k.a.The Death of Bruce Lee )( 1975 )
Back when I first began collecting films, I found this cheap $6 video tape called Death of Bruce Lee in Woolworths. I had branched out from Bruce Lee movies to Bruceploitation films, and there was his name on the box cover, so I bought it. The tape was released by Star Classics, a company that previously released movies without box art. Blank boxes with a rectangle hole cut out so you could see the label on the videotape.  I previously bought a copy of Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires from that company and returned it after finding it was a bootleg taped from a television broadcast,  complete with station IDs. Death of Bruce Lee didn't appear to be a bootleg. Actually, it was. A company called Sun Video Corporation originally released it, and after they went bankrupt Star Classics grabbed their catalog and began releasing their movies. Back in the 80s and early 90s it was common practice for budget video companies to release films from recently bankrupted legitimate home video labels, under the premise they could not sue anyone until their bankrupt status was settled, or until the release rights to the films legally passed to another home video company. Star Classics always made the claim on their boxes TAPED  ON HIGH QUALITY VIDEO, which wasn't the case here. The cheap VHS tape It was recorded on gradually demagnetized itself.  It wasn't a good film, but it had it's share of really dumb moments that made it unintentionally entertaining. So, I was sad to have it vanish off the tape.  A few years back it was released on DVD by the star of the film Ron van Clief. There was an apology printed on the back of the box, stating that the print they used was the only one they could find, which was the  full screen VHS master, most likely from the later Star Classics release. Definitely not worthy of being released on DVD, but at least gave me back what I had lost on VHS.

I recently discovered a company called The Film Detective released a "restored" version of The Death of Bruce Lee on Blu-Ray in 2017, claiming to have mastered it from the only surviving film print. It was released under the alternative title The Black Dragon's Revenge which is why I didn't realize it had been restored until this year.  Karate champion Ron Van Clief ( not to be confused with Lee Van Cleef, who only did Ninja films. Oh, and both actors were in an Italian film together.  ) began his acting career in 1974 when discovered by producer Serafim Karalexis. Serafim himself had just begun his producing career, and realized the best way to get a movie financed was by co-producing  a martial arts film with Hong Kong producers. Bruceploitation had reached it's peak in HK, and anyone who was even remotely connected to Bruce Lee was in high demand by studios as a way to legitimize their Bruceploitation film. Ron Van Clief had trained in one of the same martial arts schools as Bruce Lee,  claiming he and Lee were in the same class, and Lee himself gave Ron the nickname "Black Dragon".  Serafim realized signing someone who was allegedly co-students with Bruce Lee could get him a co-production in a Brueceploitation film, his first with Ron called The Black Dragon. This film was the follow-up. It was another one of those films where the hero investigates Bruce Lee's death, this time with Ron playing himself. He is hired by a wealthy Chinese businessman who says he is an old friend of Bruce Lee. He doesn't trust the results of the official police investigation into Lee's death, and wants Ron to do his own investigation. Ron discovers no one wants to talk, witnesses mysteriously dying, and a gang of thugs who attempt to kill anyone trying to investigate Bruce Lee's death. The film leads up to a climax with a surprise twist on the head villain, that makes no sense whatsoever. Also, Ron never finds out what killed Bruce Lee, and never finds out why the thugs were trying to prevent any investigation into Lee's death, mostly because by the final reel he has killed all o them.

It would have been nice if The Film Detective was able to track down a Chinese print of this film. Shortly after it's completion, Karalexis became increasingly worried that Bruce Lee's widow would sue him.  So he ultimately removed the title The Death of Bruce Lee and replaced it with the title The Black Dragon's Revenge. He also went as far as asking an editor to go to all of the moments where the name Bruce Lee is mentioned, and remove the last name from the soundtrack. In every American print, whenever Bruce Lee's name is mentioned, all you hear is the character saying "Bruce" followed by a half second of static instead of the last name Lee. The Film Detective tried to fix this by dubbing "Lee" back into the film, but was unable to find voice actors who matched whoever originally dubbed this film. They finally gave up and instead chose to erase the static. Which was a mistake because that static was one of the entertaining arts of the film. Also, Karalexis had at least one entire scene removed. You can here it at 11 minutes and 50 seconds into the film. A group of Kung Fu students decide to launch their own investigation of Bruce Lee's death. There is a few notes of music, and then it abruptly stops. I am sure the foreign prints still have the mystery scene intact.. It looks as if Video Detective were unable to find an unedited print anywhere. Oh well. At least you get an improved copy of the film shown in widescreen for the first time.



Live and Let Die ( 1973 )
Sean Connery announced "I am never playing James Bond again". When United Artists failed to come up with any price to make him return, they gave Eon the green light to hire a new James Bond.  They had been eyeing Roger Moore for some time, asking him twice if he wanted the role, but he turned them down as he was busy filming the series The Saint. This was his debut as Bond, and his best performance in the series.  While it was still his tong in cheek version of Bond, at least he wasn't playing the role as if Bond was past his prime. You didn't get Bond going "Ooof!"every time a henchman punched him. Perhaps he thought an older Bond who was past his prime was funny? Oddly though, he doesn't make his screen debut ( not counting the obligatory gun barrel opening, ) until after the credits. The cold opening shows the assassinations of various agents across the globe. The first glimpse of the new Bond happens after the opening credits have ended, and it is him asleep in a dark room. Not exactly a memorable first scene for any Bond. Connery had the classic scene at the card table where his first on screen appearance is him delivering the line: "Bond --- James Bond." Lazenby and the other Eon Bonds during an exciting action scene, usually where you do not see Bond's face until halfway through it. Fittingly, we don't introduce Moore in an action scene, but snoozing in bed.

Eon may have given Moore one of the most lackluster openings in the entire Bond series, but it did open with the best theme song,  Paul McCartney's Live and Let Die. It provides such a great theme that you wish they would have used it more often in the film itself, opting to use the original James Bond theme for most f the action scenes. This movie does increase the action over the previous film, including one of the series best chase scenes using boats.  At the time this was only the second film in the Eon series not to have SPECTRE, the other being Goldfinger. While the past films had nuclear devices or death rays, this movie had Bond trying to stop the villain from distributing opium in America. Not exactly Bond saving the world again, and probably the weakest part of the plot. All the films that followed would go back to the villain planning a mass casualty event that would at the least destroy a city. Very little of the film's plot is from the novel it is adapting. The novel had Bond on the trail of a villain called Mr Big, who is smuggling gold coins from a sunken treasure ship into America to finance SMERSH. The movie keeps bits and pieces of that plot, along with the fortune telling character Solitaire, and the fact the villain practices Voodoo. Some of the best moments from the novel were not used, including Bond and Solitaire being dragged keel hauled through a coral reef by the villain, and Felix Leiter being fed to a shark by the Villain. ( Both parts would later be used in other Bond films. )

Live and Let Die has one of the weakest villains in any of the Bond films, but is made up for with not one but three memorable henchmen. Tee Hee, who has a bionic arm with a pincher instead of a hand, Whisper who like his name suggests cant talk above a whisper, and Geoffrey Holder as the Voodoo priest Baron Samedi. This is the only Bond film to have characters capable of magic, or at least Solitaire is capable of telling the future before she loses her powers after having sex with Bond. We later find out Samedi also has magic powers after he comes back from the dead to appear on the front of the train Bond is on. As far as I can tell, this is the only Bond movie to suggest magic exists. It was also the beginning of the Bond films being about globe trotting to different increasingly exotic locations . It was also the beginning of Eon cashing in on the latest film trends. Blaxploitation films were popular at the time, which is why Eon chose Live and Let Die to be their next film as it was the only Bond book with a black villain. This allowed for a script that had a lot of Blaxploitation elements. What Eon didn't realize was it was also the only Bond novel left with Sharks, which they would regret a few years later. In fact, this film sharks are replaced with alligators. Strangely enough, while Eon would spend the rest of the 70s chasing the latest film trends, they apparently ended up creating one. Clifton James portrayal of sheriff J.W. Pepper was not only popular enough to bring the character back in the next Bond film, but lead to a trend of goofy southern sheriffs in movies and television, most notably with the Smokey and the Bandit films and the television series Dukes of Hazzard.

This is among my favorite of the original Bond films. Perhaps because of the theme song, perhaps because of the boat chase that was both thrilling and funny back at a time when you rarely got any chase scene with this many stunts, maybe a little because Moore is fare more bearable in this film, and a little because the Voodoo scenes are legitimately creepy. It is a Bond film that doesn't feel like it is following a formula, even though it definitely does, and never seems to have any slow moments.


Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19450 on: November 21, 2020, 04:13:33 PM »
Tesla (2020)

Odd biopic, there are much better documentaries out there about Tesla, this one I guess was trying to show his personality, it does sort of succeed in that, but the flashes of future "stuff" sprinkled throughout are off putting, then there's a scene near the end that is just purely WTF?

Hopefully if people didn't know anything about Tesla and watch this they go and find out more about him and not just think "that was weird".


Offline goflyblind

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19451 on: November 21, 2020, 05:05:20 PM »
Tesla (2020)

Odd biopic, there are much better documentaries out there about Tesla, this one I guess was trying to show his personality, it does sort of succeed in that, but the flashes of future "stuff" sprinkled throughout are off putting, then there's a scene near the end that is just purely WTF?

Hopefully if people didn't know anything about Tesla and watch this they go and find out more about him and not just think "that was weird".

did it have any hardcore human-pigeon scenes?
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Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19452 on: November 21, 2020, 06:44:18 PM »
Tesla (2020)

Odd biopic, there are much better documentaries out there about Tesla, this one I guess was trying to show his personality, it does sort of succeed in that, but the flashes of future "stuff" sprinkled throughout are off putting, then there's a scene near the end that is just purely WTF?

Hopefully if people didn't know anything about Tesla and watch this they go and find out more about him and not just think "that was weird".

did it have any hardcore human-pigeon scenes?

The movie doesn't cover those later years, it stops after his failure to get more money to keep his Wardenclyffe Tower project going.  Well, it sort of stops there, there is the WTF is going on scene right before the end.  I don't want to spoil it for anyone, when it starts the confusion is so great, in your head it kind of goes: "huh?", "what?", "why?", etc..  There are plenty of tiny WTF moments in the film, like Edison pulling out a smart phone, but that last scene is just amazingly odd.   



Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19453 on: November 22, 2020, 09:13:22 PM »
b]Kung Fu Jungle ( [/b]a.k.a. Kung Fu Killer )( 2014 )
This film was meant to be a tribute by director Teddy Chen to the Hong Kong action movie industry, specifically the actors and directors of martial arts films. As a gimmick, Chen invited a number of giants from the industry to take cameo roles. Those who either declined, or like Bruce Lee, were already dead, were represented either by having their movies shown in the background on a television set, or for the film clips Chen was unable to get the rights to, had them on posters on the wall. Some of those showing up for a cameo included David Chiang, Raymond Chow, Kirk Wong, Tony Leung, Bey Logan and Andrew Lau. The film, however, is more of a tribute to American formula action films. The familiar plot begins with Donnie Yen as a martial arts master serving time in prison for killing his opponent during a fight.  Yen sees a news report about a murder of a martial arts master, and demands to see the detective in charge of the investigation. He tells her that he knows who the killer will attack next, and if he is released from prison, he can help catch the killer. predictable formula story aside, the action in this film  is top notch, although some scenes have a little too much wirework.

The Man With The Golden Gun ( 1974 )
There is a story that came from the Eon publicity department that claimed Saltzman and Broccoli had intended for Roger Moore to replace Sean Connery back in the 60s, and their original plans was for You Only Live Twice to follow the plot in the novel, ending with Bond captured by the Russians. The follow up movie was to be The Man With The Golden Gun which, just as in that novel, would have Bond returning to MI6 years later a changed man, unaware he had been brainwashed to assassinate M. However, a political uprising in Cambodia forced them to cancel their production. With the film cancelled,  Moore signed on for additional seasons of The Saint and would be unavailable to do a Bond film for another five years. Interesting story, but most likely fiction.  While the novel The Man With The Golden Gun did directly follow You Only Live Twice, Eon had been ignoring the continuity of the novels and didn't know Connery was quitting the Bond series when they decided to scrap the contents of the novel for You Only Live Twice for a brand new plot. Also, the reason why the setting of The Man With The Golden Gun was changed from Jamaica to Asia wasn't just because they had already filmed in Jamaica twice, but because they wanted to capitalize on the 70s Kung Fu movie craze, so therefore wanted the next Bond film set in one of the countries that the martial arts came from. There was no Kung Fu craze in the mid 60s, and it is unlikely they would have followed You Only Live Twice by setting a second Bond movie in a row in the far east.

The only thing kept from the novel was the villain, the hitman Francisco Scaramanga, and his nickname "The Man With The Golden Gun" due to his weapon of choice being a gold plated gun. The part about Bond being brainwashed to assassinate M couldn't be used, and the second half of the novel, where Bond goes undercover as Scaramanga's assistant, just didn't fit in with the series now well developed formula. The movie is a low point in the Bond series due to many bad decisions.  Beginning with the theme music. Initially rock star Alice Cooper had been commissioned to write and perform the theme song, which would have worked well as part of the soundtrack

<a href="http://youtube.com/v/wMKPTSE14tY" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://youtube.com/v/wMKPTSE14tY</a>

But then the producers decided they wanted popstar Lulu to sing the title song. Since the producers didn't have the publishing rights to the Alice Cooper song, composer John Barry and lyricist Don Black had to compose a new one within a few days. It is considered the worst of the Bond themes, all the worse considering this film is sandwiched between the two films that are considered to have the Bond series two best theme songs. Worse, John Barry was rushed into completing the score within three weeks, and regularly used the music from the Lulu theme song.

Another bad decision was bringing back Clifton James to play Sheriff J.W. Pepper again. While his character was one of the highlights of Live and Let Die, he was part of the story. There is no purpose for the character in this movie. It is such a stretch to think a redneck sheriff would be vacationing in Thailand, let alone run into Bond again and ending up as a temporary sidekick. A very questionable decision was to cast Hervé Villechaize as Scaramanga's head henchman Nick Nack, which I am sure someone did thinking it would be funny. It would be another three years before the debut of Fantasy Island ( which I am sure drew some inspiration from this Bond film, ) so this casting can't even be explained as the producers cashing in on  Villechaize's fame.

Eon must have felt the pressure to give Scaramanga his own doomsday machine for Bond to destroy,  perhaps because the previous film only had a drug lab and poppy field for Bond to destroy.  So on the third act Scaramanga announces that he has his own solar powered death ray. The plot twist feels even more tacked on than the third act death ray in Diamonds Are Forever. The only things that really work in this movie is the casting of Christopher Lee as Scaramanga. Alas, even the action scenes ( with the only two chase scenes  predictably happening at the one hour mark )  are under par.  his includes a boat chase scene which goes nowhere. a letdown considering the boat chase scene of the previous film. Another car chase scene on a busy highway had potential, but was hastily put together. It does include one of the series best stunts, when Bond jumps a river on a broken bent bridge, causing his car to do a corkscrew, but it is just not enough. Too much of the chase scene is devoted to Clifton James making marginally racist jokes about the other "pointy headed" drivers.



One reason why this film was a misfire was that it had been rushed into production.  Eon had previously settled into releasing one Bond movie every two years. This one began production almost immediately after Live And Let Die wrapped. The reason given by Eon was that they wanted the next Bond film to capitalize on the 70s Kung Fu craze, and realizing the fad was fading,  rushed to finish the next Bond film before it did. But there was another reason. In 1969 producer Harry Saltzman had borrowed $40 million from the Union Bank of Switzerland in a bid to buy out the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation which failed when his allies in the takeover tricked him into selling them some his stock to help pay off his loan, then used the stock in a proxy fight to oust him from the company.  By 1974 he was unable to pay off his loans and in danger of loosing Danjaq S.A. to the UBS. Danjaq S.A. was the company Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli founded specifically to buy the film rights to the Bond novels, and was the parent company of Eon which produced the Bond films. If Saltzman was ordered to turn Danjaq S.A. over to UBS, then UBS could liquidate the company,  basically selling off the film rights  to the novels to other producers and studios. For a while Saltzman was looking to sell his 50% shares in Danjaq to Paramount under condition that studio continue to allow Eon to produce the Bond films. Saltzman even suggested that Danjaq S.A. be dissolved and the rights to the Bond novels transferred over to Broccoli,  but Broccoli wouldn't hear of it. So rushing another Bond film into theaters was an attempt by Eon to earn enough money to pay off the loans to UBS before they foreclosed on Danjaq S.A. Unfortunately the movie underperformed, only earned $20 in North America.  To pay off the rest of his loan, Saltzman sold his 50% stake in Danjaq S.A. to United Artists,  who were eager to keep the Bond series from going to a rival studio. From this point on the Bond series would only be produced by Broccoli and later his family.

Aside from the rush in production, the other thing that hurt it was the indecision on what exactly it would be.  Sometimes it wants to be a smaller Bond picture, where Bond has a duel with the ultimate hitman. But sometimes it wants to be a standard Bond film with the villain has a massive base with a doomsday weapon which needs  to be blown up. The compromise is Scaramanga's lair, with a scaled down version of an underground base which is just a couple of stories tall, and just wide enough for six vats of liquid nitrogen used to keep the solar batteries cold. And including Nick Nack, Scaramanga's army of henchmen is only two, including another who is nothing more than a workman who is given no lines ( no doubt to save money ) and only points instead of talking.  Instead of an army of agents attacking the base, it blows up because Bond girl Mary Goodnight knocks the workman off the base's only catwalk into one of the vats of liquid nitrogen. A vat which just happens to have a "Absolute Zero Must Be Maintained To Prevent Prompt Criticality" sign right next to it. In other words, the body of the workman is causing the temperature in the bats to rise just enough for the base to explode. But not immediately. Bond is given enough time to retrieve the film's McGuffin, the Solex Agitator, a small device that allows solar energy to be turned into electricity. An almost effective suspense scene where Bond tries to remove the Solex from it's housing while a solar reflector occasionally sends a beam of concentrated sunlight at his head. Britt Ekland's  performance of Mary Goodnight is usually cited as the worst thing about this film. I would not blame her. It was the character that was poorly written. In some scenes Goodnight is an absolute idiot who does something dumb that sets back Bond's mission. But in other scenes proves to be resourceful and smart. Apparently Mary Goodnight was a major recurring character in the Bond novels on the level of Felix Leiter, but thanks to how poorly the character was received in her Bond film debut, was never used again. If you really want to blame anything, blame the script. I am sure that if Eon wasn't in such a hurry to churn out a bond film in a year, that they would have demanded a rewrite with much being removed from the first draft. Instead, we get the first draft script with such gems as Scaramanga's base having a funhouse that he has his duels in, presumably to trick his opponents into using up their bullets shooting at the mechanical dummies. The funhouse includes a wax figurine of James Bond, introduced, along with the fun house,  in the cold opening where Scaramanga duels with a gangster. Which also gives away the way Bond wins the duel, as anyone can figure out when they see the villain has a lifelike wax figure of Bond. A misfire on all levels, which is just barely entertaining.




Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19454 on: November 24, 2020, 11:56:37 PM »
Species - It's funny how lust takes away the fear factor... at least for myself. I, like pretty much any guy in the mid-90's had a raging hard-on for then 20-year old Natasha Henstridge. This movie had a lot going for it, creature design by H.R. Giger, an interesting story... but having just watched it, it felt like something was missing, or at least something was wrong.

I think the producers were hoping to capture the kind of terror felt in 1979's Alien. While I admit the design of the true form of Sil is terrifying and all, complete with the kind of things you'd see in Hentai(like tentacles emerging from the alien's breasts), Species is pretty fucking far from Alien. It's not even in the same ball park, it's not even in the same league, it's not even in the same sport.

Aside from the aforementioned titillation factor, the only thing Species has going for it is the good cast: Marg Helgenberger, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Forest Whittaker, Alfred "Throw me the idol" Molina, and of course, Natasha Henstridge.

It also kinds of hurts that some of the effects reminds me of something I saw in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, which is a terribly unflattering comparison. Again, the creature design is good... but for all the things this movie has in common with Alien, it just doesn't even come close to holding a candle or even a very dim flashlight with dying batteries.

It's a fun watch, but aside from being a nice little cinematic relic that shows why Natasha Henstridge was such a bona fide sex symbol... Species doesn't even begin to stand the test of time.

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