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Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19185 on: March 24, 2020, 07:52:25 AM »
Annihilation

I wasn't as over the moon for it like a lot of sci-fi fans but I really did like this movie a lot.  The climax was really visually arresting in a way that I often want my mysterious sci-fi to be and it is full of beautiful, spooky imagery.  The film is about the beauty and terror of entropy, things getting out of control until the order gives way to something grotesque yet fascinating and from that perspective it is an accomplishment.  I know this is based on a book series but the film itself definitely works best as a one-off, a weird, mysterious little film, though I wouldn't be opposed to seeing similar visualization on screen.  It feels a bit like a mix between Tarkovsky and Cronenberg but more palatable to mainstream audiences.


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19186 on: March 25, 2020, 01:22:42 AM »
Quote
“Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest?” -- Kenneth Patchen.

Many horror movies take place in what I call "Horror Movie Land", which is some non-specific time in the past, usually in middle or eastern Europe but sometimes in France or the UK or even early America. The time period can vary from the late middle ages all the way up to the early 20th Century (the automobile in Hammer's Kiss of the Vampire is a giveaway, for one example). What they have in common is that these settings are nowhere real. They are, rather, archetypal landscapes, the land of dreams and nightmares conjured up by the Gothic imagination of the Romantics. Think of the bleak landscapes painted by artists like Caspar David Friedrich or Otto Runge, or the Europe of Melmoth the Wanderer or The Castle of Otranto. Almost all horror movies that are set in Horror Movie Land abstract their settings for effect. There's a level of theatricality in all such movies, whether they're shot on a soundstage, as Corman's Poe movies were, or in the landscapes favored by Hammer and Amicus. Osgood Perkins's new film, Gretel & Hansel is set in a more abstract version of Horror Movie Land than usual. The locale is doggedly non-specific (the Hansel and Gretel story is German, but this film doesn't seem particularly Germanic), and the time period seems to exist outside of a historical context. Given the film's origins in a fairy tale, it's entirely appropriate that it exists inside an archetype rather than in a specific time and space. It makes for a strange mood.

As with Perkins's previous horror movies, this is a female-centric film in which the principal conflict is between Gretel -here a wise sixteen-year old - and Holda, the witch in the woods. Hansel is eight and acts as the object of their conflict. Gretel and Hansel have been turned out of their homes by their insane mother after Gretel fails to secure employment in the house of a noble. She's hip enough to the ways of the world to realize that the rich landowner isn't really in the market for a maid. The land around Gretel's family is accursed, and famine is raging around their family. As Gretel and Hansel leave their home, their mother suggests that they dig their own little graves, and maybe one for her, too. Along their way, they are aided by a kind huntsman who maps the woods for them and urges them to find the foresters, who he suggests might take them in, but warns them not to stray from the path. The forest itself only offers them hunger and isolation and dire visions at the limits of their perceptions, certainly not helped by the sinister mushrooms they eat when they have nothing else. Eventually, they come upon a house where the table has been set with abundance. They are taken in by Holda, the owner of the house, but they cannot determine from where her bounty comes or why it keeps so well ("plums only last three days out of season," Gretel observes). Holda recognizes in Gretel something of herself and begins to teach Gretel her craft: herbalism and darker things. Gretel discovers the secrets of Holda's powers in due time, and Holda, for herself, guides Gretel to her own power, provided she gives up the part of her that is holding her back. That part of her is Hansel.

Oz Perkins is a director of so-called "quiet horror." Both of his previous films, The Blackcoat's Daughter and I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives In the House, prefer to insinuate their horrors and creep away with atmosphere rather than shock the audience with blood and thunder scares. Neither of those films had enough plot to sustain that technique. Often, they seemed glum and tedious rather than creepy. Not so this new film. The plot here hangs on a story that has an atavistic hold on Western cultural memory, and that does a lot of the heavy lifting. Perkins still indulges in mood rather than story, but here it manages to work. There's something about watching children lost in the woods that tickles an area in the hindbrain. The mood of the film most resembles the mood of The Blair Witch Project, though without the headache-inducing cinematography. Many of its initial terrors are sounds off in the trees or are simply the oppressive, autumnal landscape. The styling of its human habitations seems a-cultural and could exist anywhere. There's a distinctly modernist sensibility to some of the architecture in this film, particularly Holda's A-frame house and the underground abattoir beneath it. Holda's abattoir reminds me a bit of the dreamy space where the anti-heroine of Under the Skin took her victims, and Gretel & Hansel indulges in some overtly similar imagery. This is all built on the bones of mythologies that still resonate in our cultural meme pool. Even though Perkins's first two films are more overtly "realistic" (whatever that may mean), this one has more of a narrative hook in its first ten minutes than either of those films ever found during their entire running times.

Perkins is a good director of actors, though he's been fortunate in his leading ladies so far. This film is basically a two-hander that needs to be carried by its leads. Sophia Lillis is up to the task of playing Gretel, and it's to her immense credit that she's not blown of the the screen by Alice Krige's Holda. Krige offers a delicious melange of menace, kindness, and manipulation. She's good as the witch. You get her full story and you can see Krige internalize all of it and offer it back to the audience in her face and posture throughout. Lillis, for her part, does the same, though the range of emotions that the filmmakers ask of her is more limited. A great deal of this film is a series of conversations between these women, some of them in a teacher/student mode, some of them wary verbal fencing, some of them a lethal chess match (chess is an overt image in the film). Both actors are game for it and it's fun to watch them play against each other. Young Samuel Leaky is a fine Hansel, and he doesn't strike any obvious false notes, but he's almost an afterthought in the film's drama. He's mainly a prize that the two women trade for advantages.

The central conflict that drives the narrative is a question of from where women derive their power. Do they derive their power from their children (something implied by the fairy tale of the Beautiful Child that opens the film)? Do they derive their power from their sexuality? Do they derive their power from their own agency (and does the world take that agency away from them)? Gretel's interview with the landowner is a signpost toward the film's main concerns: men are only concerned with her suitability for sex. When he asks her whether her maidenhead is still "intact," its clear to her that nothing she can do is of greater value than her fuckability. She rejects this out of hand. Even Holda's power seems to derive from her sexuality, and so too, does Gretel's. The persistent shots of the moon in different phases is a telltale, and if you miss this allusion, the film accompanies one of Gretel's prophetic dreams with her menstrual cycle. (Add this to the list of menstrual horror movies). The Huntsman tells Gretel that she should study herb and medicine if she is to retain her agency in the world, and that's initially what Holda offers her, too, but she's unwilling to sacrifice family ties for the access to Holda's power. And yet, at the end of the film, it's implied that her rejection of conventional norms will make of her a witch whether she wants that or not. The very last scene can be read as either defeat or liberation, depending on one's point of view. The film maybe gives away the game in its voice over narration, but the words on the soundtrack don't match the implications of the image. If one regards the images on offer during the closing credits as a continuation of the text of the film - which is something one can argue - then the film ends on a disquieting note indeed.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19187 on: March 25, 2020, 06:41:23 AM »
Knives Out

Man, this was such a fun movie.  I knew it was going to be a murder mystery and an homage to classic detective tales but I didn't expect
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I feel like Craig's been looking to ham it up like this forever.  He got a bit of a chance as the villain in the Tintin movie but he's clearly doing great stuff here playing a silly detective.  But he doesn't eat too much scenery, just enough for what the film needs.  It is also a very, very funny movie.  Can't wait to se Rian's next movie.


Offline ScottotD

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19188 on: March 25, 2020, 04:54:21 PM »
Annihilation

I need to re-watch this, adored it the first time but I was partly distracted by being disappointed I didn't get a chance to see it in the cinema
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Offline wihogfan

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19189 on: March 25, 2020, 06:44:43 PM »
Meh...really wanted to like Annihilation, but didn't. Ideas intrigued me enough to seek out and read the book series. Felt the same way about the books. Lots of setup, but total failure to follow through. OK with vague endings, but don't introduce a hand grenade in act one and then never have anyone pull the pin.


Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19190 on: March 25, 2020, 07:02:27 PM »
Annihilation

I need to re-watch this, adored it the first time but I was partly distracted by being disappointed I didn't get a chance to see it in the cinema

It holds up. I enjoyed it even more second time through.
FINE


Offline wihogfan

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19191 on: March 25, 2020, 07:42:39 PM »
The platform from Netflx. I think this explains all the hoarding we have now
You forgot to include the link to your malware.


Offline MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19192 on: March 26, 2020, 05:53:16 PM »
The platform from Netflx. I think this explains all the hoarding we have now
You forgot to include the link to your malware.
It finally happened in the corona jokes thread...


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19193 on: March 26, 2020, 06:30:51 PM »
There's a philosophical problem buried in the second half of Terminator: Dark Fate (2019, directed by Tim Miller) that's new to the series. The Terminator films have always dealt in metaphysics, questioning whether the universe is deterministic or whether it can be affected by free will. This is the dichotomy between the first film in the series and the second. The films since then have mostly tried to have it both ways because if the end of Terminator 2 holds sway, there can't be any more Terminator films going forward. There's too much money at stake for that to derail future films, so these questions mostly get addressed in ways that permit the new films to take place at all, without too much thought about the original dialectic. The new film is mostly unnecessary, as all of the subsequent Terminator films have been unnecessary, except for a brief moment when it veers away from the series' metaphysical dilemma into the realm of epistemology. It asks: "What is the purpose of a killing machine once it has fulfilled its mission?" Then it asks a similar question. "What is the purpose of a mother of the future when that future no longer exists?" It also touches briefly on what it means to be a human being once a trans-human singularity drastically changes the physical bounds of what human beings actually are. It even interrogates, however briefly, the function and moral worth of work in a world where humans are not actually needed to perform that work. All of these questions have been lurking in the underlying structures of the Terminator movies, but this one brings all of them to the surface. It does not, however, dwell too long on them because there's stuff it needs to blow up real good.

The story finds two time travelers arriving in Mexico city. One of them is Grace, an enhanced human supersoldier, sent to thwart the other, a shape-shifting killing machine sent to kill one Dani Ramos, a factory worker of seemingly no great importance. The two time travelers converge on the floor of the factory where Dani works and the battle is joined. Soon, Grace, Dani, and Dani's brother, Diego, are in a high-speed pursuit from the terminator, a chase that results in Diego's death, and ends with Grace and Dani cornered. They are rescued by an older woman who is armed to the teeth. This is Sarah Connor, who has spent the last two decades or so hunting time-traveling killing machines after a terminator killed her son, John. Sarah's future, in which Skynet wages war on the human race, was averted when Sarah prevented its creation. Her Judgment Day never happened. But Terminators still keep appearing and someone has been sending Sarah to deal with them. Dani, Sarah presumes, will be the next John Connor,  the one who will give birth to the resistance in Grace's future. In Grace's future, the rogue AI is called Legion, and the terminator it has sent back is almost unkillable. Her strategy is to take Dani somewhere that the terminator can't find her. This is increasingly difficult in a plugged-in world. Grace has help, though. There's a location coordinate tattooed to her abdomen where she can find help, a location that Sarah deduces as the location of her mysterious guide to killing time travelers. This turns out to be an unexpected benefactor, a terminator from Sarah's original future, one that she knows all too well. Dani, for her part, has no desire to hide. She wants to take the battle to the terminator rather than live out the rest of her life in fear.

This film is a direct sequel to Terminator 2. It solves the problem of the series intersecting timelines by the simple expedient of ignoring them. Further, it severs itself from the motivating event of the previous films: the assumption of leadership by Sarah's son. This greatly simplifies things from the convoluted knots one finds in the plots of Rise of the Machines or Genisys or The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It hits the ground running and assumes an audience that knows what happens in Terminator movies, so it doesn't need to explain too much of its basic plot. We've seen this movie before. Because it doesn't need to explain its plot overly much, it is able to take some time to grab some of the other threads of narrative one finds in the original films.

One such thread revolves around the humanity or lack thereof of a killing machine from the future. In Terminator 2, John tries to teach his terminator protector how to be more human and "less of a dick." In the extended cut of that film, John and Sarah reprogram him to become a learning machine, capable, perhaps, of a sentience beyond the narrow confines of its mission. The film allows that terminator to comment on the nature of the human race ("It is in your nature to destroy yourselves," for example, and "I understand now why you cry."). The question of the humanity of its characters is central to Dark Fate, rather than questions of determinism or free will. It's also a meditation on purpose. It approaches these threads from several directions.

The first is Grace herself. Grace is as much of a cyborg as the terminators themselves, only she is going the other way. She started as an ordinary human being who suffers horrifying injuries in her war. She is rebuilt as a supersoldier, faster, stronger, and "better" than before, able to meet her machine enemies with a better chance of survival. But she's also inculcated with her mission to the exclusion of all other motivations. In terms of what she is, there's not a lot of difference between her and a terminator, save for an emotional connection between herself and the woman she is tasked with protecting. Grace also figures in the film's minor theme of bodily autonomy. She volunteered for the job rather than having it thrust upon her, knowing what they would do to her body, and she continues to hack her body to enable her to continue her mission. Her body is hers to do with what she will, and when she demands that her friends turn her body into a weapon to defeat the enemy, it's the logical conclusion of her character arc. She pursues her mission of her own free will, to the very end. Trans-humanism must be my theme of the month.

The terminator sent back to kill Dani is at the other extreme. It's a pure machine, committed to its mission with such single-mindedness that it allows our heroes to manipulate it to where they want it. They can use its mission against it and do so in the film's last act. This creature is a slave to its purpose, too, and when Dani tries to convince it that it can be more than its mission, it shrugs her off, obliging our heroes to find a way to destroy it. To quote Kyle Reese, it cannot be reasoned with. It is a slave to a determinist creator who does not permit it free will.

Carl, the terminator who killed John Connor, is a different matter all together. In fulfilling his mission, he's adrift in a world where his future never happens. He has to find a purpose to replace his mission and he finds it, surprisingly, in human beings and family. He makes a life for himself, improbably working as a home-decoration salesman. He even feels some need for redemption once he comprehends the magnitude of his crime. His willingness to protect Sarah, Grace, and Dani is motivated by a desire to do penance.

Sarah, for her part, no longer has a purpose in her life, either, and having become a notorious criminal limits her career opportunities. She's spent the last twenty years hunting for time travelers, guided by a mysterious benefactor who sends her her missions. She sees herself in Dani. Of course she does. "I was you," she tells her, if the motivation isn't clear enough. Protecting Dani offers her as much redemption as it does for Carl, and it breaks her out of the existential dreariness of her life.

While the film raises all of these points in no uncertain terms - no need to interpret subtext in this film - it never loses its forward momentum when it stops to examine them. This is a film that has clearly defined action beats at the accustomed intervals of contemporary Hollywood filmmaking, some of it spectacular, some of it familiar. As an action film in the abstract, this is positively old fashioned, untouched by either the Hong Kong New Wave, chaos cinema, or the current John Wick-style of filmmaking. This is not a film that re-invents the wheel. Indeed, it's opening movement is specifically designed to echo the truck chase at the start of Terminator 2. Like many franchise films, it knows that part of the game is selling the audience something they've seen before, and that extends to its action sequences.

But how it decorates these sequences adds a sense of relevance to the present moment in a way that the last couple of films in the series have lacked. First: it refocuses its concerns on women. The main thrust of the original film was to strip away everyone who could help Sarah survive against the terminator and show her rescuing herself. The second film - echoing Cameron's Aliens - is at least partly a film about motherhood run amok. The remaining films are about men (Genisys is ridiculously revisionist, recasting elements of the first two films for an audience of dudebros who might have felt cheated that Kyle Reese wasn't the actual hero of the first film). Three of the four protagonists in Dark Fate are women, which is remarkable enough in a contemporary blockbuster, but this is a film that casts an older woman - Linda Hamilton is 63 - as an action heroine. As the most badass character in the film, no less, taking her character from T2 and distilling her down to something even more hard boiled than before. Dark Fate articulates the central politics of The Terminator in Sarah's voice, when she tells Dani that it's all about her womb. That's what matters to the future. If they can't control or destroy that, they can't rule their world. There's a core of feminist rage in this statement. Dani, for her part, rejects this and asserts her own agency for the future. The film's politics extend beyond feminism, though. In setting the film in Mexico, and on the US/Mexico border, it comments on the brutality of the current immigration policies in the United States. Where Terminator 2 found the T-1000 impersonating a police officer (in early-nineties LA) in order to smuggle in a critique of that era's authoritarian impulses, this film dresses its terminator in the uniform of the border patrol. The technological future posited by these films has always been predicated on the increasing abuse of authority by the military-industrial complex of the present. This film has a clear understanding of this. Its images name names. They speak truth to power.

It's a kick to see Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger still game for this film, and it amuses me that Hamilton is billed first in the credits for the first time, but both of them are very much supporting players here. I like both Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes as Grace and Dani, respectively, the series' next generation of heroes. I think they look to the future in a way that recasting Sarah and Kyle Reese (or John Connor) in Genisys looked to the past. The film trades on nostalgia, no doubt, but it's the first film since the Terminator 2 that looks to a different future, that doesn't relive past glories, or that doesn't only regurgitate past themes and past images. It may be completely unnecessary, but it's not bad for all that.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19194 on: March 27, 2020, 11:54:29 AM »
Terminator Dark Fate just isn't a good movie... like at all. It's by no means a horrible movie like Genisys, but it's still a major disappointment and yet more evidence to add to the "This franchise needs to fucking end, NOW" pile. I think they were partially under the impression that they needed Linda Hamilton, some retconning, and that would do it. But it just wasn't enough, even though the elements are interesting, the story is still weak and the final product was absolutely joyless and not interesting in the least.


Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19195 on: March 27, 2020, 02:32:58 PM »
Penguin Highway

An oddball family friendly anime movie, Penguin Highway is about a elementary school boy who loves science (and tries to remain clinical at all times) in a small town where something strange is happening: a sudden appearance of penguins.  No one knows where they come from but eventually the boy discovers that they are created by a full grown woman he has a crush on and even she doesn't know why she is making penguins.  The boy decides to find out, coming across a ball of ocean in the middle of a field that might have a connection.  Penguin Highway has some beautiful animation but as wild as the plot gets, its a pretty straightforward coming of age stories complete with bullies with redemption arcs and romantic jealousy.  Not a bad film but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it, unless you want to see some impressive animation.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Vs3w1X3GSAg" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Vs3w1X3GSAg</a>


Offline stansimpson

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19196 on: March 27, 2020, 03:17:17 PM »
Terminator Dark Fate just isn't a good movie... like at all. It's by no means a horrible movie like Genisys, but it's still a major disappointment and yet more evidence to add to the "This franchise needs to fucking end, NOW" pile. I think they were partially under the impression that they needed Linda Hamilton, some retconning, and that would do it. But it just wasn't enough, even though the elements are interesting, the story is still weak and the final product was absolutely joyless and not interesting in the least.

I saw Dark Fate a couple weekends ago. Totally agreed. At least with Genisys, it was off the walls bonkers which was at least interesting and fun. I felt like we got just a really bland retread of T2. Only fun part to me was "Carl" and Sarah Conner. The rest was so paint-by-numbers action for me with some of the most prolific bad CGI body doubles, I just couldn't enjoy it. And calling it Legion instead of Skynet made it worse. Like they were trying to sell an old product by slapping on a different name.

And I'm surprised that this hasn't been mentioned anywhere, so it's probably just me, but the first hour felt so politically driven, it just took me right out of the movie. I may even agree with the filmmakers a lot politically speaking, but its so heavy handed, forced, and didactic that I was just rolling my eyes by the time the new Terminator was slaughtering all the border patrol agents yet dare not touch any escaping immigrants. One might think "Well, they were running away. They posed no threat." But, dude, Terminators *don't* discriminate. That's the whole point. It's what makes them so imposing and scary. Compare this Terminator to all those innocents that got shot up in the first Terminator movie? *That's* a Terminator. But you got to keep your political fantasy, so "boo evil border patrol" and "yay good immigrants" I guess. The "woman power" angle was botched too imo. Show. Don't tell. It worked for Ripley in Aliens. It worked for Sarah Conner in T2. Both James Cameron. So, as a producer, I would expect more. Instead, they have to talk about women's roles and such to make sure we "get it." Annihilation is another great example. They showed strong female characters without ever having to talk about it. Preaching just makes bad art.

Whoops... almost tripped getting off my soapbox.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 03:19:08 PM by stansimpson »


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19197 on: March 27, 2020, 04:34:25 PM »
When I watch movies I don't really notice political messages(or intent) all that much. I tend to just watch movies pretty much solely within the context of its genre. I try to stay focused on how well a movie tells a story.


Offline stansimpson

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19198 on: March 27, 2020, 10:15:50 PM »
When I watch movies I don't really notice political messages(or intent) all that much. I tend to just watch movies pretty much solely within the context of its genre. I try to stay focused on how well a movie tells a story.
I try to as well, especially in escapist blockbuster films. But sometimes I just feel preached at.


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #19199 on: March 28, 2020, 03:04:13 PM »
High Sierra (1941, directed by Raoul Walsh) is arguably the movie that made Humphrey Bogart into Humphrey Bogart. It rescued him from a long string of gangster roles and marked him both as a charismatic movie star and as a really accomplished actor. The movie introduced Bogart to screenwriter John Huston, who would cast Bogart as Sam Spade later that same year (and the rest is history). High Sierra ain't no slouch, either. What we see here is a transitional film. It takes Bogart's Duke Mantee from The Petrified Forest and thaws him. Roy "Mad Dog" Earle is Mantee with a sliver of humanity retained. He has a consience. He's wonderfully conflicted, and the movie amplifies his inner conflicts with his relationships with both Ida Lupino's dance hall refugee and Joan Leslie's crippled teen-ager. In the broad continuum of film history, what we see in High Sierra is the Warner-style gangster film beginning to shade into the moral ambiguity of film noir. What the film lacks is the visual style of noir, but in its place, director Raoul Walsh has substituted a spectacular natural backdrop. The film hints at this when, fresh out of prison, Earle takes a walk to the park to "make sure that the sky is still blue and that the grass is still green." In the back end of the picture, this tendency becomes grandiose, as Roy Earle meets his demise in the shadow of Mount Whitney. On the whole a terrific film, and primo Bogart is ambrosia for a guy home on lockdown.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.