Author Topic: What was the last movie you watched?  (Read 1623860 times)

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Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19065 on: January 13, 2020, 12:26:02 AM »
Never Back Down: No Surrender ( 2016 )
As I said last week, I wanted to collect all the films of Yanin Mitananda ( a.k.a. Jejaa Yanin ), the actress and martial artist from Chocolate ( 2008 ) and Raging Phoenix ( 2009 ) mostly because I really enjoyed both her acting and screen fighting, but also because she seems to have stopped making films, so completing her 8 movie filmography would be very easy. In fact, just checked IMDb and still no upcoming acting roles for her. But they do have her listed as stunt doubling for actress  Jane de Leon  in her upcoming film Drana, so yeah, her career continues to go backwards.
UPDATE: Turns out she has a 9th film? When I first wrote this Friday afternoon, she only had 8 movies and two television series on IMDb, and just checking now I noticed one was added called Europe Raiders ( 2018 ) and she has third billing.  It is currently only available from Amazon as an expensive $35 import disc from Hong Kong, where the film was made. Which probably explains why it didn't appear on IMDb until now. With all the turmoil over there, probably the only reason IMDB found out she was in the film was after the discs were imported and someone noticed her name on the box. Still, I am not sure I can trust IMDb on this one. Hong Kong imports on many occasions lied about cast members on the box, or found actors with identical names, or in a lot of cases, someone simply did a bad translation of the text on the box. If she is in the film, she may not have a role worth third billing. I have seen a lot of HK films where someone listed as the star only had a very minor cameo. Since Europe Raiders is a Tony Leung film, it is very likely Well Go or one of the other importers of Asian films will give this an official North American release, and then we will see if Yanin is actually in it. But at this time $35 for a disc I can't even be sure is not a bootleg is not worth spending money on.

I was thinking of skipping Never Back Down: No Surrender. It's an MMA film that was released strait-to-video, and Yanin's role was described as somewhere between a minor  cameo and an extra, and was listed on IMDb as "Gym Fighter Girl" which was not very promising.  Never Back Down: No Surrender was the third film in something that really shouldn't be a franchise. The first film, Never Back Down ( 2008 ), is described as a "Poor man's Fight Club". According to Wikipedia, the plot has Sean Farris as a new kid in town who is introduced to an underground MMA fight club being run at his high school. Exactly why Sony decided a direct to video sequel was called for three years later is anyone's guess. Never Back Down 2: The Breakdown only managed to get one actor from the first film to return, Evan Peters, who goes from fifth billing in the original film to star billing in the sequel. They also got Michael Jai White to be in it, possibly because they also allowed him to direct his first film. He had seventh billing and played what appears to be a minor character. ( And it had a $3 million budget?! ) Seven years later Sony decided to release a third direct to video film in the franchise. Now even Evan Peters, who at the time was Quicksilver in the FOX X-Men franchise, was unwilling to return. But Michael Jai White was, as long as he got to direct again. This time around he has star billing as the only character from the sequel to return.  Pretty much the films in this franchise have no connection other than going from minor character to minor character, and that Chris Hauty wrote all three films. So, yeah, the bottom of a direct to video franchise which was once again budgeted at $3 million didn't look promising.

But there was some good news. One is that Yanin  has a bigger role than I expected.( And she actually plays herself. Although I suppose that is supposes to be a spoiler? ) Sure, it looks as if all her scenes were shot in a single afternoon and edited into the film. Every now and then we see her at a punching bag. One of the fighters in the gym is beaten by a wise mouthed fighter, and for not much reason Yanin takes offense to him, jumps into the ring, and kicks his ass in a very brief fight. She turns up again very briefly on the red carpet at a star studded MMA event all glammed up, where she tells everyone her name is Jejaa.  At the same time Tony Jaa shows up for his very brief cameo as himself.

Well, that's more of her in this film than I had expected. In fact, it is almost as much screen time as she had in Triple Threat.  The other good news, the film was actually good. It seemed to be going in the predictable kick boxer film formula where the hero trains his friend ( or brother ) for a fight, the opponent kills him, then the friend ( or brother ) trains for a fight against the same opponent. But then it went into a sort of unexpected direction, then ended in a completely unexpected direction. Also, even though it had a lot I had seen in too many other films to no longer be fresh, it managed not to be boring and had a decent amount of fights that were above average for American films not choreographed by Woo Ping.  So, I ended up liking it.  But, the fact that I went into this film with very low expectations may have helped that opinion.  Now I am wondering if I need to get the other two films in this "franchise".

Ready Player One ( 2018 )
This week I take a break from watching superhero films in order to watch a couple of the films given to me for Christmas. So why did I have this on my gift list? Well, I do have a collection of Steven Spielberg films I haven't updated in two years this belongs in. Also, King Kong is in it. Okay, a computer game version of King Kong that jumps off the Empire State Building and attacks the cars in a racing game, but still counts as another giant ape film, which falls into my giant ape collection. ( I also had Rampage on my gift list, but no one got me that one. )  I actually liked this film a lot. I mean, as much as I like an average MCU film. This is one of Spielberg's better films, perhaps in his top ten of directed films. Something I was not expecting as I thought this would be another forgettable CGI spectacle. A really fun film to watch, that was obviously targeted to gamers. ( I am a semi-gamer so I got a lot of the in-jokes, and realized the significance of the final game long before the lead character explained it. )

The Journey of Natty Gann ( 1985 )
It would have been nice going three for three on enjoying a film more than I expected to. But this was just as I expected it to be, which was just average entertainment.  Most of the live action Disney films from the 80s were like that. There is basically a story that begins and ends, and that's that. Good acting and a quality production, but nothing to warm up to. This one didn't really have a chance. Perhaps I should explain why the Blu-ray was on my Christmas list.

Starlight Hotel ( 1987 ) is one of my top ten all time favorite films. In fact, it ranks at #2, just in between Times Square at #1, and Mr Hulot's Holiday at #3. And some big news. Times Square has been announced as being released as a 4k transfer on Blu-ray this year, hopefully with the missing scenes as extras. No release date as of yet.  Unfortunately, Starlight Hotel is not among the films that has ever been released in this country other than as a full screen edit back in the days of VHS. It did get a laserdisc release, and I have that, but was full screen most likely mastered from the VHS master. A couple of years ago Starlight Hotel did get a release in it's home country of New Zealand, remastered and widescreen on DVD. But in PAL, and unavailable in the United States. I was hoping some North American company would release it here, but as of so far no mention of that happening. So basically I just have the laserdisc,  and a laserdisc player in need of repair.

So what does this have to do with The Journey of Natty Gann? Because since it's release,  Starlight Hotel has been accused of being a rip-off of that film. Both films have a similar plots. Both take place in the Great depression. Both have heroines who are young teenaged girls who's mothers have died, and fathers have left to find work in another part of the country. Both girls were left with a woman who was suppose to look after them until the father was able to earn enough money to send a train ticket for them. But in both, the caretaker is abusive, and the girl decides to run away, follow the rails as a hobo, and make the journey across country to find her father. Both have the girl meeting an older male traveling companion, who doesn't like having a kid trailing after him at first, but then gradually becomes her best friend.

So, did director Sam Pilsbury rip off director Jeremy Kagan and Disney and make a knock off version of Natty Gann a couple of years later?  I'll let you decide. The film was written by Janeen Rosenberg, who had previously co-written the script for The Black Stallion ( which was based on a novel ). There script appears to be an original story, as no other writer is mentioned. There was an The Journey of Natty Gann novel, but it appears to be a novelization that was published two weeks before the film opened. It was written by Ann Mathews, a historian who wrote a lot of books on women in Irish history, but also slummed writing the novelization of Mad max: Beyond Thunderdome, as well as the novel The Transformers: Earthquake back when the toys were just released for the first time, and another novel Punky Brewster and the Nothing to Do Day.  It would make sense a historian who specialized in women writing a novel with a strong heroine that took place in the past, but she gets no screen credit at all on the movie. So by all evidence, all she did was take the script and turn it into a novelization for Disney in order to make a few extra bucks while she was writing actual history books. On the other hand, the script for Starlight Hotel was written by Grant Hinder Miller, based on his novel The Dream Monger which was published in 1985. It appears that Miller wrote only two other novels, Estralita in 1984, and Song of the Nightingale in 1992. The rest of his work was a couple of other screenplays, and making money as a musician. So, is it possible that Miller ripped of Natty Gann? While I can't find an exact publishing date for The Dream Monger other than 1985, the publishing date of the novelization of The Journey of Natty Gann is September 1st, 1985. That would be the earliest he had access to the plot of the film, which would have meant he would have needed to write the knock off novel and get it published within three months.  It is also unlikely that Disney had enough time to knock off The Dream Monger, if it had been published earlier in 1985. Even if it had been published on January 1st, that would have given Disney only six months to write, produce, cast, film and release Natty Gann. My opinion, both the Disney film and Miller's novel were coincidences. Similar stories written at the same time with no one ripping anyone else off. However, there is also the possibility that Sam Pilsbury chose to film The Dream Monger because he wanted to knock off Natty Gann, and found a novel that was identical, therefore preventing the all too litigious Disney lawyers from suing him for copyright infringement.

Another reason why I had always been interested in owning The Journey of Natty Gann was that it starred Meredith Salenger.  She was one of the young Hollywood actresses I had a crush on back in the late 80s. She had an incredible body and an all too beautiful face. Definitely more of a physical attraction. But I remember watching Michael Damien's video for the weak cover version of Rock On whenever it came on just because it showed scenes from the movie Dream A Little Dream, ( 1989 ) and included a few seconds of footage of Meredith in a skin tight satin dance leotard, doing a lot of sexy dance moves that involved shoving her butt outward. I never actually bothered to buy tickets to see that film. I finally got around to buying a copy for $2 from Amazon a couple of years ago out of curiosity, and yeah, it was a weak comedy, but Meredith was hot as hell in most of the scenes she was in. She was the female lead in a couple of other big films, A Night In The Life Of Jimmy Reardon and The Kiss ( both 1988 ) ( and both I haven't seen yet ) and I was sure she would be around for a long time as one of the top Brat Pack actresses. But then she just disappeared. Well, not exactly. What happened was she decided to go to college, took a couple of years off, came back to discover no one was offering here lead roles anymore, and spent the rest of her career dong bit parts in movies and television shows I didn't see, and a couple I did see more recently but didn't realize it was her.  Oh, and apparently she married Patton Oswald a couple of years ago.

Well, anyway, back in the late 80s when I was obsessing over her, but not enough to buy a damn movie ticket to see her on screen, or even bother to rent her films when they came out on video, I found out she was the girl in The Journey of Natty Gann. I had a vague remembrance of the publicity Disney gave that film. and even vaguely remembered Siskle and Egbert reviewing it, so I had a vague idea what the film was about. So when it was broadcast on television I watched a bit of it. And then I turned it off within a couple of minutes. She was about 14 when she shot it. Also, she was dressed as a tom boy, and that hot body from her late 80s films had not yet developed. I was close to her age at the time, but at the time she was 19 going on 20, not 14.  I probably should have looked up the release date on the film and did the math. So, I decided to wait until one of her more recent films made it to television, and they didn't. Because basically they were crap. They made a lot of money, but they were disposable crap aimed at the teenage market. And you had much better films in that genre from John Huges. I am sure they eventually ended up on the USA Network late at night, but by then I no longer gave a crap. I had moved on to having a crush on other starlets.

Something that did get broadcast on television was Starlight Hotel, which I caught simply because I was too lazy to turn the channel when the episode of Nightline I was watching ended. I ended up enjoying it, and loved it more whenever there was a repeat broadcast. I began to realize it's similarity to the plot of Natty Gann, but by that time Disney was no longer syndicating the film, and had probably locket it in their so called vault. So basically The Journey of Natty Gann became a film I was very interested in owning, partially because of it being a doppelganger to my second favorite film, and partially due to it starring a former crush of mine. If Starlight Hotel did rip off Natty Gann, then was Natty Gann a better film? Could this be my actual #2 favorite? Or perhaps my #1? Actually, I doubted that would be the case. But I was interested anyway. And nearly bought it. But then found out that Disney only released a full screen version of the film. It was only recently that I discovered Disney released it on Blu-ray, as widescreen for the first time.

Okay, so you can tell I was underwhelmed with it. No, it's not my #2 favorite film, not my #200 favorite. Not even in my top 500. It's a good film, but eehhh. Also, it is not Starlight Hotel. Both may have young runaway girls making a cross country trek to find their fathers during the great depression. But that is where it ends. Each girl has a completely different adventure. For example, Natty befriends a wolf who travels with her for most of the film. There is no wolf, dingo or any other dog in Starlight Hotel. John Cusack is barely in this, and does not play a war veteran who is a wanted fugitive. Saying The Journey of natty Gann is the same as Starlight Hotel is like saying The Breakfast Club is the same as Fast Times at Ridgemont High just because both are set in high schools during the 80s.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2020, 12:27:47 AM by stethacantus »

Offline Jesse412

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19066 on: January 15, 2020, 02:26:52 PM »
Midsommar (2019)

Psychedelic and disturbing Ari Aster takes a page from Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973) with this modernization of the pagan cult folk horror genre seen through the vantage point a toxic breakup.  The cinematography and special effects are used to create this incredibly eerie tone and Florence Pugh's performance really carries the emotionally troubling course of events.  One of the better modern horror films I've watched.
"It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The film runs on without any eyes. The spectator cannot exist without it. It ensures his existence." -- James Douglas Morrison

Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19067 on: January 15, 2020, 03:24:47 PM »
Just FYI anyone who subscribe to Amazon prime can watch Midsommar free, for now anyway.

Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19068 on: January 16, 2020, 09:58:11 AM »
Weathering With You

Saw it last night at the theatre with JBear and a non-TTer. Don't worry, he's cool.

Anyway, the movie is perfectly OK, but after Your Name, it is a bit of a disappointment. I was never bowled over or emotionally all in like I was for your name, though the film looks pretty and it is overall an original film. I particularly like the decision in the last act to show that
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Also, despite the director's claims, I don't think this film really has much to do with climate change apart from pointing out its the thing and if I were to unpack it from that direction, it would be a tangled mess.

It was really weird to me that the film basically felt like it had two TV style ops with music and composition (of scenes rather than just music) over the course of the first act.

Also, lesson I keep learning: never see an anime movie in theatre. Goddamned weeaboos. Like, for the most part the audience was low key bad but still.

Offline ScottotD

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19069 on: Today at 12:13:54 AM »

Fun, veeeeeeeeeeeery much an 80s kids/family film which I *think* was a choice.  Probably the second best DCU movie after Wonder Woman imo?
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Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19070 on: Today at 08:01:30 AM »
I just watched Midsommar and... holy hell that was fucked up!!! It reminded me a lot of the VVitch. Course it also reminded me a lot of the wicker man too. However Midsommar’s  main strength is in it’s obscurity and ability to be 100% visually compelling throughout the entire 2 1/2 hour run time. It’s a horror movie that has exactly 0 jump scares and I always admire that about any horror movie that can perform that feat,