Author Topic: What was the last movie you watched?  (Read 1524066 times)

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Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16815 on: June 05, 2016, 11:12:34 PM »
Iron Monkey ( 1993 )
According to Hong Kong cinema, China's greatest hero must have been Wong Fei Hung. The subject of over 100 films made between the 1940s and 1970s alone, he was also the lead character of many of Hong Kong's most popular movies, including the Drunken Master movies and the Once Upon a Time in China film series. But he is still virtually unknown in the United States, which is why when Miramax released Iron Monkey in the United States at the behest of Quentin Tarantino,  it was not promoted as a Wong Fei Hung movie. In fact, when Miramax commissioned a new soundtrack for the American release, the familiar Wong Fei Hung theme music ( On The General's Orders ) was removed. ( Just imagine The Lone Ranger was released in China, and they took the William Tell Overture out of the soundtrack. ) For the Chinese, Iron Monkey was a tale about Wong Fei Hung as a child. For Americans, Iron Monkey was another retread of the Zorro story. The Iron Monkey was a bandit in black who exclusively targeted a corrupt mayor, distributing the money he steals from him back to the poor and refugees that the money was suppose to go to in the first place. Determined to capture the Iron Monkey, the mayor arrests martial arts expert Wong Kei Ying ( Donnie Yen ) and his son Wong Fei Hung ( Angie Tsang  ), locking Fei Hung up in a prison cell and giving Kei Ying a week to find and capture the illusive bandit. Since the townsfolk regard Iron Monkey as a hero, they refuse to sell Kei Ying food nor give him any rooms in their inns. Only the town's doctor Yang Tian Chun ( Yu Rong Guang ) feels pity for Kei Ying, inviting him to stay at his home and offering him dinner. Of course, the doctor is actually the Iron Monkey.

Directed by celebrated martial arts movie director Yuen Woo Ping ( Who first two movies were Jackie Chan's groundbreaking Snake in the Eagle's Shadow ( 1978 ) and the Wong Fei Hung comedy Drunken Master ( 1978 ) ), Iron Monkey does take some chances. Such as making all the villians Shaolin Monks. Traditionally, Shaolin Monks have always been depicted as good and incorruptible, with very few exceptions ( such as the traitor of Shaolin  Mao Fu Yee ). While I would not call the fighting in this movie the best ( or even among the best in a Yuen Woo Ping movie ), they are satisfying. The set piece of the film is a climatic pole fight, but this time instead of fighting above sharpened bamboo sticks, they fight above a blazing inferno which is slowly burning away the very poles they are fighting on. Iron Monkey is well worth seeking out, but I can't help but to think that the original Chinese edit was a lot better. Supposedly Miramax edited out much of the violence to insure a PG-13 rating instead of an R ( or possibly NC-17 ). How much tampering was there, and did it ruin any of the fights? 


Darkman ( 1990 )
This is usually considered Sam Raimi's first superhero film. Made around the time that Tim Burton's Batman ( 1989 ) was a huge hit, it was Universal's way of capitalizing on the superhero trend, but with an original character they owned rather than licensing an already existing superhero from Marvel or D.C. And while it did have a musical score composed by Danny Elfman, that is where the similarities to any other superhero movie ends. In fact, Darkman seems more like a throwback to the older Universal horror movies. The story is about a scientist developing synthetic skin who is attacked in his lab by gangsters, who then blow the lab up with him in it, resulting in the scientist receiving disfiguring burns on his face and hands. Mistaken for a homeless John Doe, he is brought to a hospital where a doctor ( Jenny Augutter in an uncredited role ) gives him an experimental surgery which prevents him from ever feeling pain, but as a side effect turns him mad, as well as giving him constant bursts of adrenaline. He escapes the hospital, and returns to his lab where he uses the synthetic skin to make face masks, both of his former face, and of the faces of the gangsters who tried to kill him. The rest of the film has him seeking revenge against the gangsters by using the face masks to infiltrate their gang and turn them on each other.

The ingredients are here for a new superhero. The inability to feel pain. The increased adrenaline giving him extra strength. The ability to use face masks to change his appearance. But aside from going after the one gang who disfigured him, the Darkman shows no interest in fighting crime. Instead, the movie follows the formula of past Universal horror movies where a scientist is disfigured and turned mad, resulting in him going on a killing spree against those he blames for his disfigurement. The earliest of these films was The Invisible Man ( 1933 ), a formula which was repeated again and again, including two films that were used on MST3K,   The Projected Man ( 1966 )  and The Brute Man ( 1946 ). Typically these movies ended with the police catching up with the disfigured scientist and shooting him to death. Darkman ends with the police clueless a murdering spree had taken place, and the Darkman leaving town in his new disguise, the face of Bruce Campbell. At the time it was released, Sam Raimi  was known primarily as a director of horror movies, specifically for his low budget Evil Dead series.  He claimed that he had thought up Darkman after he failed several times to seccure the rights to established superheros, and decided the only way he could direct his own superhero film was to create the superhero himself. Although, I suspect this was more of Raimi wanting to direct an update of the formula Universal horror film, then pitching it to Universal as a superhero film. Universal had hoped it would be the beginning of a franchise. But where Batman grossed $43 million on it's opening weekend, Darkman only grossed $8 million, eventually just barely breaking even for it's initial release. This brought an end to any plans of a franchise, however, Universal did eventually produce a couple of cheap direct to video sequels.

Maybe Darkman is not among the best superhero films, and not just because it barely qualifies. But it is an entertaining waste of time. And it boasts a very impressive cast, including future Academy Award nominee Liam Neeson as the Darkman, and future Academy Award winner Frances McDormand as his girlfriend. It does have a great Danny Elfman score which, well, sounds like every other Danny Elfman score. And considering the 80s through 90s era of superhero films was mostly horrific, it is nice to find a movie from that era that was actually good.


It's A Gift  ( 1934 )
The second movie in my W.C. Fields box set, and it is a winner. This is the one I had seen many years ago on late night television and thought was hilarious, and it still holds up. Basically, Fields had two screen characters. The most famous was his traveling con artist who wore the top hat. The other, and the one used in this film, was the mild mannered yet rude family man. This movie has barely a plot. Grocery store owner Fields decides he wants to become an orange grove farmer. Ignoring the objections of his wife, he sells his store and uses money he inherits from his uncle to buy a grove out in California, packs up his family in a car, and drives out there to find out what he had bought. The thin plot was just enough to tie together a bunch of skits he had performed on stage. The movie itself has the feel of a handful of two reelers stitched together. But Fields is constantly funny.

It is also one of three films Fields did with Baby LeRoy, a child actor who has the record for the youngest actor to ever sign a movie contract, which he did at the ripe old age of 16 months. ( although, I suspect they just handed him a pen and he scribbled on the contract. Which did not matter anyway, since all contacts with minors are not legally enforceable. A lesson Hal Roach learned the hard way when various parents of his Little Rascals pulled their children from the series to work for other studios, despite their respective contracts. ) Despite getting second billing, Baby LeRoy adds nothing to the film. Barely in the movie as an annoying child of a neighbor, he basically does what any infant his age would do. One scene called for LeRoy to open the tap for a molasses barrel and spill the contents all over the floor. During the scene he is clearly lead by hand to the tap by a store employee, the actor who was pretending LeRoy was the one leading him. A year after this film was made, Baby LeRoy retired. Or more truthfully, was not offered any more roles once he reached the age of three. There was a sad story about how he almost made a comeback at the age of 8 as the star of a children's film called The Biscuit Eater. The first scene he shot required him to swing over a lake on a rope, and instead he slipped from the rope and fell into the water. The director demanded he immediately retry the stunt, and a cold wet LeRoy tried to swing on the rope again, falling into the water again. Suffering from hypothermia from the exposure to the cold water, LeRoy was taken from the set. Yet his parents had him back on the set the very next day. But the hypothermia caused him to contact laryngitis, which the set doctor concluded would take a couple of days to clear up. Not wanting to put the film behind schedule for two days, the studio immediately recast his part to another child actor Billy Lee.


Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16816 on: June 05, 2016, 11:30:55 PM »
I've been meaning to revisit Darkman.  When I first watched when I was way too young, it was a little scary but exciting.  Then I revisited it as a teen and mostly enjoyed it but was surprised how silly it was.  Now that I'm older and more open to silliness, I wonder if I'll like it more.


Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16817 on: June 07, 2016, 12:02:04 AM »
I saw Hunt for the Wilderpeople this weekend.

We enjoyed it very well, but it wasn't a patch on Boy.

One woman brought two young girls, and there is a scene where
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
and the youngest one bawled and bawled.

Research a movie before you take your kids, asshole.
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Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16818 on: June 07, 2016, 12:16:36 AM »
Saw the Revenant this morning.  I rather liked it, but I did wish I got the theatrical experience with this one.  Still, I like it quite a bit, particularly the brief part of the film where
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  I think a lot of people complained it was more spectacle than story but while I feel it was certainly spectacle focused and the story was pretty simple, I feel it was told really well.


Offline Kete

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16819 on: June 07, 2016, 06:16:51 AM »
I saw Hunt for the Wilderpeople this weekend.

We enjoyed it very well, but it wasn't a patch on Boy.

One woman brought two young girls, and there is a scene where
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
and the youngest one bawled and bawled.

Research a movie before you take your kids, asshole.

I love that movie. Taika's scene is hilarious.


Offline Darth Geek

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16820 on: June 07, 2016, 12:50:54 PM »
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - I saw it over the weekend with my brother and his friend. It was fun for the most part. Until the end which just got tedious and anti-climactic. But it was really really dumb. I do give it credit for going full in with the silliness from the cartoon. Not too long into the movie and there's Krang, right out in the open, no explanation. They even made him look and sound remarkably like the cartoon. Hell, even Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman was suitably over the top for the tone they were going with. They seemed to make a point of having more scenes in this of them just goofing off like brothers, emulating the elevator scene from the first one. This was a good choice, because the personalities of the turtles is the film's biggest asset. They are all very likable, and enjoy what they are doing (most of the time).
  I do think they could have excised the subplot about the purple stuff making them human, it goes nowhere (So would Sunny D have had a different effect on them?). They definitely could have gotten rid of Casey Jones as he brings nothing to this (and isn't even recognizable as Casey Jones except in one scene). They gave Splinter absolutely nothing to do.
  I've never been a big Ninja Turtles guy, so I doubt I'll ever watch this again (unless Rifftrax riffs it), but I don't regret seeing it. And it is better in some ways than the previous movie (which itself was passable in a "better than it should have been" way).
  The biggest problem these two movies have (aside the obvious influence of Michael Bay) is the turtles' faces are still ugly, and that they are so huge hulking bulletproof that nothing puts them in much danger. So I don't really know how this series can change that without a hard reboot.



Offline MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16821 on: June 07, 2016, 01:43:17 PM »
Batteries Not Included

Been ages since I last watched this, forgot how darn long it takes to get going, it really didn't need 25 minutes to set up the good guys and bad guys.

But once the little alien robots show up it becomes a fun movie.



Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16822 on: June 07, 2016, 05:12:53 PM »
I've been meaning to revisit Darkman.  When I first watched when I was way too young, it was a little scary but exciting.  Then I revisited it as a teen and mostly enjoyed it but was surprised how silly it was.  Now that I'm older and more open to silliness, I wonder if I'll like it more.

A lot of the movies and television shows were like that back in the early 90s. It was the transition period between the campy superhero superhero shows of the past, and the dark superhero movies we know today. Just like Tim Burton's Batman or the first Flash television series, they all seemed dark at the time, but by todays standards are almost as campy as what preceded them. The first mainstream superhero film I can think of that did not fall back on campy humor was Blade ( 1998 ) ( unless you were to count the Animated Batman ).


Batteries Not Included

Been ages since I last watched this, forgot how darn long it takes to get going, it really didn't need 25 minutes to set up the good guys and bad guys.

That is what you call padding. And I imagine a lot of it. Because the movie was originally going to be a half hour episode of Amazing Stories until Spielberg decided to pull it and expand it into a full length feature film. ( I believe it was swapped out with the pilot for Family Dog ). Figuring an episode of Amazing Stories was only 22 minutes without commercials, you figure the director needed to pad the film out for another hour at least.

I myself have not seen this movie yet. In the near future I plan to watch a weekly marathon  of every Steven Spielberg movie ever made,  including the ones he produced. There are a few I have not seen since they were in the theaters, and a lot of others ( like The Color Purple and Hook ) which I have never seen.  It should be interesting.


Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16823 on: June 11, 2016, 09:27:49 AM »
Red Beard

An absolutely wonderful epic drama by Akira Kurosawa about a young doctor in old Japan who aspires to become personal doctor to a high-ranking shogunate but first ends up at an impoverished hospital run by the stern Dr. Niide, though is more commonly known as Red Beard.  At first the young man attempts to get kicked out but soon finds himself drawn into helping people at the hospital and learn what a truly great and selfless man Red Beard is.  It is a longer movie, over three hours, but I was pretty riveted through most of it and it manages a lot of great smaller stories (in fact, though I consider it an epic, it is an epic comprised of smaller tales).  I still haven't seen many Kurosawa pictures (just this, Yojimbo and Rashomon), but it has me excited to see the rest of his films.


Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16824 on: June 11, 2016, 03:31:33 PM »
I love kurasawa, but haven't seen that one yet. Hope it gets the Criterion blu Ray treatment soon.
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Offline Pak-Man

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16825 on: June 12, 2016, 12:21:09 AM »
Finally checked out Zootopia. Not Disney's best, but not bad at all. The message isn't subtle at all, but the show is enjoyable and well-written, so it's still worth the journey.


Offline The Lurker

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16826 on: June 12, 2016, 06:22:13 AM »
Finally checked out Zootopia. Not Disney's best, but not bad at all. The message isn't subtle at all, but the show is enjoyable and well-written, so it's still worth the journey.
Would be nice to see the original, Nick-focused version, if only for comparison.  The one that was shown to test audiences.


Offline Darth Geek

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16827 on: June 12, 2016, 05:09:41 PM »
Monsterland (2016) - Wow this was a whole lot of disappointing nothing! It's an anthology movie with each segment just feeling pointless and having no weight. They also have no relation to each other at all. The only one where much even happens is the last segment called Hellyfish. Which just feels like part of the third act of a bad Asylum movie.
It was directed and produced by a bunch of the cool guys at Dread Central. They know their horror movies, so I had high expectations on this, and I wanted to like it. But I just couldn't.
I can't recommend this at all. It's not even so bad it's funny. At most you might get a kick out of the Hellyfish short, but you might find that on Youtube or something.



Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16828 on: June 12, 2016, 05:59:36 PM »
Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973, directed by Richard Blackburn) is one of those odd little films orphaned by the business of movies only to take on a weird kind of half-life as time goes on while other kinds of films in similar straits fade entirely from memory. The horror genre is in part built on a foundation of such movies. The horror movie acts as a collective unconscious for the medium, so it doesn't really forget anything. I don't want to suggest that Lemora is a foundational film in the genre, or even that it's any kind of unsung masterpiece. It's not. It is a singular experience unto itself, though, one that defies easy categorization.

The story here finds Lila Lee, church-singing poster child for innocence and light, daughter of a father who murdered her mother, going on a kind of vision quest to grant her father Christian forgiveness. She hears that her father has taken it on the lam to the mysterious town of Astaroth, and she heads out on a night journey to find him. Astaroth, it seems, is besieged by degenerate victims of some mysterious disease. Lording over the town is Lemora, a tall, elegant woman with whose interest in Lila is less than chaste, even as she positions herself as a maternal figure toward her. Lemora, it seems, is a vampire, and she's intent on seducing Lila into her dark embrace...

Lemora vanished after its original paltry release as a regional feature in California drive-ins. For many long years, it was more a rumor than something that could be seen and appreciated. For a time, it was thought to be lost. I don't ever remember seeing it on bootleg, though I suppose it might have been offered by somebody. Its reappearance on DVD is surprising for a film with no real commercial history, but money isn't a reliable yardstick of quality. Lemora was cheap, that's for sure, but it manages to stick in the mind anyway, like a meme welling up from the bottom of the cinematic massmind.  There's definitely something keeping it alive after all these years.

Lemora is a film constructed of elements lying around the floor of the genre factory at the time it was made. It's a mash-up at its core, perhaps constructed with the 1973 drive-in market in mind. There are elements of the period crime film (all the rage at the time after the success of Bonnie and Clyde), the hicksploitation film, the lesbian vampire film,  Lovecraftiana, and the Christsploitation film. Looked at with a more gimlet eye, it would be easy to view its assemblage of tropes as cynical, but that would do the film an injustice. This is a first film by director Richard Blackburn, and like many another filmmaker embarking upon a first film, Blackburn also brings to the project a naive, "lets put on a show" enthusiasm. Like many films at the cusp between the amateur and the professional, there's sometimes a sense of discovery, as if the filmmakers are inventing cinema anew, if only in their own minds. This isn't a criticism, by the way. Naivety often goes hand in hand with creativity, and the results can be startling. What this film makes of its tropes is a dream narrative that functions more as a journey from innocence to experience than it does as a horror movie executed for shock value. It's more oneiric elements may be the result of filmmakers not entirely sure of the language of film, or hamstrung by budget, or whatever, but like other films that persist in this kind of twilight world, Lemora turns these things into a virtue.

Blackburn is fortunate, too, in his choice of stars. Cheryl Smith--17 at the time and not yet "Rainbeaux" Smith, exploitation diva and drug casualty--holds the screen as an image of purity that the world seeks to defile. I can't say that she gives a good performance so much as she manages to function as an icon. Smith had just enough movie star charisma for this, and Blackburn emphasizes this by shooting her as a living version of the Phial of Galadriel, a light in dark places. Leslie Gilb is less formidable as Lemora herself, in part because the role is underwritten, but also because there's not a lot of variety in her performance. She's mostly a visual element, whose cheekbones lend her face a vulpine, predatory aspect, over and above her actual performance.

The title of the film frames it as a fairy tale, and Lemora certainly feels like a fairy tale most of the time, or a fable if you will. The town of Astaroth is a piece of unreal estate straight from the Gothic imagination that has no real correlation to anywhere real in the United States or elsewhere. The film appoints its setting with a dark castle and monstrous peasants and an evil queen. Like some variants of the familiar Grimms' fairy tales, this is a tale of sexual awakening, further plunging it down the psychosexual rabbit hole of the Gothic. This also functions as a cautionary tale for good Christians. The world outside its Church walls is one of licentiousness and sin, drawn with the broadest of strokes, and Astaroth is a damnation. Perhaps owing to the multitude of tropes on display in this movie, there are also multiple subtexts vying for dominance. This should result in incoherence--and sometimes it does--but it also provides the film with a hothouse ambiance, the better to cultivate strange blooms from the soil of its id. Sometimes, those flowers are beautiful.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16829 on: June 12, 2016, 06:12:29 PM »
As much as I appreciate even his later films, I think John Carpenter may have been broken on the wheel during his sojourn through studio filmmaking. Certainly, he was never the same filmmaker after the major studios spit him out at the end of the 1980s. Too much of a maverick, I presume. He couldn't help but chafe at the bit. And it's a shame, too, because early Carpenter was one of the most exciting filmmakers of the 1970s. In any event, after about 1986, Carpenter was never the same.

I thought about all of this as I watched Prince of Darkness (1987) the director's first indie film following the financial debacle of Big Trouble in Little China. It's a strange film. On the face of it, it's not really very good. It cobbles together a bunch of sci-fi horror ideas that are each suggestive in themselves, then resolutely fails to examine them. Instead, the film devolves into another variation on Night of the Living Dead, by way of Carpenter's own Assault on Precinct 13. It's an exercise in confinement and zombies. Most great films that utilize the ideas of confinement use their settings as a microcosm that lays bare the characters trapped within it. Prince of Darkness barely registers as having characters at all. It has types to feed to the meat grinder.

The story here finds a group of scientists recruited by an esoteric order of Catholic priests who have apparently been holding Satan captive for the last 2000 years. Satan, as postulated by this movie, is an extra-dimensional beastie who had been defeated, but not destroyed, by another extraterrestrial entity named Jesus Christ. To the scientists' horror, the entity is waking up and influencing the world around them. Soon, they're barricaded inside the church where the entity resides, besieged by an army of homeless psychos. Meanwhile, they're being picked off one by one until the entity enacts its master plan.

The screenplay - authored by Carpenter himself as "Martin Quatermass" - is a nod to Nigel Kneale, an association that the director reinforces by allusion through out the film. It's not as cerebral as anything by Kneale, though. This is largely about the gross out, whether through its frequent employment of insects or its means of possession (Satan sort of pisses in his victim's mouths). The endgame of the film involves Satan taking possession of one of the female scientists and enacting a kind of pseudo-pregnancy, which just goes to show that when you dress up a devil movie in scientific jargon, you're still going to end up aping Rosemary's Baby or The Exorcist or both, as is the case here. It's surprising, too, to see a palpable fear and disgust of the homeless from Carpenter, whose anti-Reaganism was well known (and which was given full reign in They Live, his next movie). The film's conception of Satan as a jar of swirling green liquid leaves a bit to be desired, too.

The director himself counts this film as the middle film in an apocalyptic trilogy - the other two films are The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness - but this doesn't feel much like either of those two films. What it really feels like is late-period Dario Argento, particularly Trauma or The Stendahl Syndrome, in so far as its narrative is devoted to red meat as a means to draw an audience while the director creates an exercise in pure style. It should be noted, however, that late Argento can be every bit as problematic as late-period Carpenter.

And yet, for all of its faults, it does have some arresting images. The way it employs the idea of dreams as transmissions from the future is deployed with expert care, and provides the movie with a memorable ending even if the lead up to it disappoints. The film's use of mirrors as the gateway to another dimension is interesting, too. These points come too late in the movie, though. What sustains the film and makes it worth watching by itself, is Carpenter's eye for creepy widescreen composition. For all its flaws - and they are legion - Prince of Darkness looks great. This is nowhere more evident than in the film's long opening sequence, which could play silent, had Carpenter preferred. It communicates with admirable economy with images alone. One wishes the rest of the film had the same kind of discipline.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.