2021 Onscreen: Seen Any Good (or Bad) Movies Lately?

TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
I have locked the 2020 movie discussion board and started this new one to continue conversation about films we saw, loved, hated, or just had opinions about. Note that "movies" here generally means not just theatrical releases (which most of us are seeing a lot less of these days) but movies you watched on TV, on DVD, or on a streaming service, etc. (I mention this because the question has arisen once or twice). If it's a film/movie, talk about it here.
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  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Finishing off my list for 2020, I had neglected to mention that I saw Where'd You Go, Bernadette, a domestic dramedy directed by Richard Linklater. Featuring his typical sort of characters and situations, albeit grown up and living in the upper middle class suburbs.

    Enjoyable enough, but, having been released in 2019, not exactly the kind of thing that meshed too well with the era we entered soon afterwards. Very much focused on the personal quirks and neuroses of one individual.

    I'd recommend this if you're a Linklater fan, or REALLY enjoy stuff about the respectable bourgeoisie going through mid-life crises.
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I was reading a Good Omens fan fiction on AO3 which mentioned the film Miracle on 34th Street - the original 1947 version with Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood as the little girl.
    I haven't seen it for years, so I sent off for a DVD and - yes, it's still as charming as ever.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited January 2
    Eigon wrote: »
    it's still as charming as ever.

    Agreed. Still, I think
    a psychiatrist would be decertified if he stated under oath that he couldn't say Santa Claus was a myth.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    It's also interesting that in MO34S, as with Harvey from the same era, the charmingly delusional eccentric who manages to dodge psychiatric commitment is a man of independent wealth and leisure.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    The Nightingale

    Basically boils down to a rape-and-revenge thriller set against the backdrop of colonial Tasmania during the 19th Century.

    Or, more precisely, a
    rape-rape-murder-infanticide-more rape-child murder-racist murder-and-revenge thriller
    set against the backdrop of colonial Tasmania during the 19th Century. (And I'm probably missing a few tidbits in there.)

    The anti-colonialist politics might seem fairly groundbreaking to someone who doesn't watch a lot of movies of this nature. Arguably falls into Noble Savage stereotypes in its portrayal of indiginous Tasmanians, though in fariness anyone would look pretty noble compared to the way the English are portrayed.

    Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone interested in anti-colonialist themes in cinema, AND in possession of a strong stomach.

  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I understood that Kris Kringle lived in an old people's home, which doesn't suggest independent wealth to me - but you've reminded me that it's also a long time since I watched Harvey, so I think that's going on my rewatch list soon.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Eigon wrote: »
    I understood that Kris Kringle lived in an old people's home, which doesn't suggest independent wealth to me

    Point taken. As with you and Harvey, I hadn't watched Miracle for a long time, and I vaguely remembered that Kris was bestowing expensive gifts upon people. However, reading the summary on wikipedia, it seems more that he was arranging for people to acquire otherwise unattainable gifts, but with their own money.

    I'd still file them both under the Who Are We To Force Someone With A Different View Of The World Into Our Reality thematic genre. Though I guess in Harvey, it's more obvious that Elwood believes the delusions, whereas MO34S leaves open the possibility that Kris is just doing it all as a lark.

  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    I adore MO34S (the original version, not the remakes). And, yes, part of the joy of the movie is that Mr. Kringle manages to arrange for others to provide the gifts. Macy & Gimble provide the doctor with medical equipment; Kringle tells the mother where to get the fire truck the boy wants; The DA rushes out to get the football helmet for his son; and Mr. Kringle provides the directions to find Susan's house, but it still needs to be bought.

    But that is how Santa works in real life, too. MO34S is clearly a documentary.

    As for Harvey, the last scene does suggest that Elwood is not delusional--he just sees what others cannot. As the bartender comments when the psychiatrist comments that Elwood is "alone" in the booth: "There are two schools of thought on that..."

    I just watched The Road to Singapore (1931). This is NOT the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby movie. This version stars William Powell and is a drama. Powell plays a disgraced womanizer returning to a plantation colony in SE Asia (I forget the name of the place. Not Singapore. This is on the road to there...). He takes interest in a woman who has come to marry the local doctor. She initially rejects Powell, but soon comes to realize that her husband is more interested in his career than in marriage. Meanwhile, the doctor's younger sister also takes an interest in Powell. The movie takes some unexpected twists from there. Recommended.
  • BelisariusBelisarius Admin Emeritus
    I'm probably in a minority, but I thoroughly disliked Harvey--only bearable as a farce where no sympathy to the characters is expected. Dickensian grotesques abound, the sudden changes of heart are unnatural, and Elwood, to put it bluntly, is a jerk; he knows no one else can see Harvey (who, if he exists, is a jerk too), yet he continues to put his mother and sister through inconvenience and embarrassment (the most "real" part of this movie).

    Perhaps the worst detail:
    The idiot hospital worker forcibly stripping and hosing the mother is treated as a joke; I was genuinely shocked.

  • 12 months ago, Mrs Claypool and I stumbled across a Christmas Humphrey Bogart film I wasn't aware of, called 'We're No Angels' and also starring Peter Ustinov.

    It's not in the same league as Casablanca or African Queen, naturally, but it is a lovely, funny Christmas movie. We saved it on our TV box and watched it again this Christmas. If you want 100 minutes of charming Christmas diversion, this is for you!
  • AthrawesAthrawes Shipmate
    I have to admit, I *love* We’re No Angels! The script is a delight.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited January 5
    @Belisarius

    My main problem with Harvey is the pacing, which I think is related to its being structured for the stage, not the screen.

    For example, Elwood leaves home in the morning, and you're expecting him to have some some sort of adventures away from home. But then, he runs into someone who tells him about some social gathering he should attend, so he makes his way back home(or maybe to someone else's house, but all living rooms are basically the same), and we're back in the rut of a domestic drama.

    Later, he goes into a bar, which in a movie will usually predict action, romance, that sorta thing, but he doesn't stay long enough for us to get even a brief impression of the place.

    I don't remember the scene of his mother being hosed down. Clint Eastwood directed a scene of Angelina Jolie being hosed down and subjected to an invasive examination by a psychiatric nurse in his directorial effort Changeling. I think the scene was supposed to look horrific(she was sent to the hospital by corrupt cops), but came off, to me anyway, as cheaply eroticized. (The actor playing the nurse seemed clearly chosen to resemble a conventionally attractive blonde, of the stern ice-queen sort.)

    (possibly NSFW; double-click)

    https://preview.tinyurl.com/y2v9xe84

    Overall, this is a film I would recommend.




  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Athrawes wrote: »
    I have to admit, I *love* We’re No Angels! The script is a delight.

    Is that the one that was made into a re-make with Sean Penn and De Niro? I remember the monks that they were impersonating had written some book arguing that a crying Madonna statue was just caused by leaky plumbing(or some such), but also argued that this in no way distracted from its spiritual significance. I think that actually had some impact on how I think about miracles.

    (I don't read much about miracles, so the fictional monks didn't have much competition for my discipleship.)
  • AthrawesAthrawes Shipmate
    Definitely not! Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray are escaped convicts. For “reasons” they adopt a hard up family during their escape and help them to have a happy Christmas by, among other things, murdering their Cousin Andre and his horrible son with the help of a poisonous snake called Adolf. Bogart was an excellent comic actor and the script is classic 1940s brilliance!
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    @Athrawes

    According to wikipedia, the 1989 film is, in fact, a re-make of the 1955, but with a lot of changes. In the re-make, they are still escaped convicts, but hide out in a monastery after being mistaken for a pair of academic monks who had been sceduled to visit.

    I can't remember exactly what the faux brothers help their hosts with(analagous to murdering Andre and his son), but a number of jokes depend on Sean Penn trying to mumble his way through conversations on advanced theological topics.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Seen first on the big screen a year ago and on Amazon Prime, the terribly beautiful, shot seamless, 1917.

    I can see why Parasite won best movie, but 1917 is in another league.

    I could watch it right now. Like Master and Commander.
  • BelisariusBelisarius Admin Emeritus
    Yes, Stetson, the pacing of Harvey is meandering as well. The scene I mentioned is off-camera, but still.
  • Athrawes wrote: »
    Definitely not! Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray are escaped convicts. For “reasons” they adopt a hard up family during their escape and help them to have a happy Christmas by, among other things, murdering their Cousin Andre and his horrible son with the help of a poisonous snake called Adolf. Bogart was an excellent comic actor and the script is classic 1940s brilliance!

    One of my favourite lines comes from Bogey (wearing a very fetching apron):
    "We came here to rob them and that's what we're gonna do - beat their heads in, gouge their eyes out, slash their throats. Soon as we wash the dishes."
  • AthrawesAthrawes Shipmate

    stetson wrote: »
    @Athrawes

    According to wikipedia, the 1989 film is, in fact, a re-make of the 1955, but with a lot of changes. In the re-make, they are still escaped convicts, but hide out in a monastery after being mistaken for a pair of academic monks who had been sceduled to visit.

    I can't remember exactly what the faux brothers help their hosts with(analagous to murdering Andre and his son), but a number of jokes depend on Sean Penn trying to mumble his way through conversations on advanced theological topics.

    Thank you, I didn’t know they’d done a remake. Don’t think I’d fancy it, though. I thought the movie might have been made in the 50s due to HB’s age, but the script is what I love, and it’s that high speed, razor sharp wit from the 1940s black and white comedies. I’m not sure Sean Pen would cut it as a Bogart substitute, either. Oh, well. Each to their own.
  • I think the film was made in 1955 but comes from a play so don't know when that was written.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Belisarius wrote: »
    Yes, Stetson, the pacing of Harvey is meandering as well. The scene I mentioned is off-camera, but still.

    Meandering can work if it meanders into interesting places, eg. Pulp Fiction(*). But the thing with Harvey is that it always reverts to its mean: just when you think it might be throwing something new at you, you're quickly transported back to the drawing room.

    And even those mundane settings have their impact truncated by redundant pacing. The scene near the end in the psychiatrist's office is supposed to be a climax, except that getting to see the office is no particular thrill, because we had already seen it earlier in the film.

    Again, most of this is probably down to the script's origins as a play, less dependant on setting than a film usually is.

    (*) I actually don't care for Pulp Fiction all that much, and in fact find its plot twists rather artificial. But it does at least fulfill the promises implied by each change of setting.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    I think the film was made in 1955 but comes from a play so don't know when that was written.

    According to wikipedia, the play is from 1953, but was based on a French play from 1952.
  • I knew someone would do the leg work that I couldn't be arsed to do! Thanks
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    I knew someone would do the leg work that I couldn't be arsed to do! Thanks

    No problem. And it's always more fun to ask someone else for the answer than to just look it up on your own, even if they just end up googling it themselves.
  • I have been pining away for a sequel to the Wonder Woman movie since I first saw it and was reading everything I could about it. Then Covid happened and I still cared about a sequel but not with the same amount of enthusiasm as before.

    Well, "Wonder Woman 1984" is now out in theaters and live streaming. But the reviews have been a good deal less than kind. I saw a few clips from the movie and was dismayed at some of the dialogue and the general "blah" of the storyline. I'm betting it won't be taking in truckloads of cash like the first movie did. Oh, well..
    I guess I'm not surprised, really.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    The5thMary wrote: »
    I have been pining away for a sequel to the Wonder Woman movie since I first saw it and was reading everything I could about it. Then Covid happened and I still cared about a sequel but not with the same amount of enthusiasm as before.

    Well, "Wonder Woman 1984" is now out in theaters and live streaming. But the reviews have been a good deal less than kind. I saw a few clips from the movie and was dismayed at some of the dialogue and the general "blah" of the storyline. I'm betting it won't be taking in truckloads of cash like the first movie did. Oh, well..
    I guess I'm not surprised, really.

    I would say you're probably justified in being meh about seeing the sequel. As I said on the other thread, the plot is pretty ridiculous, and not in an over-the-top, so-bad-it's-good sorta way.

    That said, if you're a hardcore devotee of DC Comic or superhero films generally, it's probably worth seeing, just for the sake of completion.

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Mr. Jones

    SPOILERS AHEAD

    About Gareth Jones, the British bureaucrat/journalist who exposed the story of Stalin's famine in Ukraine in the early 1930s.

    This was pretty good, with quite professional acting all around, especially Peter Sarsgaard as Walter Duranty, the Stalin apologist who served as the NYT's Moscow chief in the early 30s.

    The movie is basically divided into three parts, Moscow, Ukraine, and then back to Moscow, with a striking contrast between the somewhat debauched expat scene in the capital, and the horrific deprivation of the countryside. Some of the Ukraine scenes seem a little artificial, eg. Jones, randomly wandering around Ukraine alone, just happens to stumble upon a work-gang shipping grain out of the region, but I guess that sort of shortcut(if indeed it is) helps keep the narrative brief.

    Politically, while there is nothing to be said in defense of Stalin, an unfortunate byproduct of the story is that William Randolph Hearst, who published Jones' reporting, comes off looking relatively good(whereas in fact he was a sleazeball). I suppose there's not much you can do to change the fact that he was the one who finally decided to challenge Duranty's narrative.

    One annoying bit was how the movie keeps flashing forward to scenes of George Orwell writing Animal Farm years later. All well and good, but the attempts at lining up the text of the book with what happens in the main story sometimes go awry. For example, when Orwell's voiceover says "Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm...", we see our first shot of Gareth Jones, and hear someone addressing him as "Mr. Jones". But that makes no sense, unless the script means to compare Gareth Jones to Nicholas II.


  • My escapism list:

    Lit Classic: Little Women (2019)
    Fantasy: Mirrormask
    Sci-fi: Arrival
    Comedy: Man up
  • NicoleMRNicoleMR Shipmate
    I finally watched The Old Guard. It's a hell of a ride, action/adventure with an immortality twist.
  • stetson--
    stetson wrote: »
    I'd still file them both under the Who Are We To Force Someone With A Different View Of The World Into Our Reality thematic genre. Though I guess in Harvey, it's more obvious that Elwood believes the delusions, whereas MO34S leaves open the possibility that Kris is just doing it all as a lark.

    Different people interpret the same movies differently. I see MO34S and Harvey the way Hedgehog does.

    Watch maybe the last 10 min. of MO34S, and you may see things differently.
    :)

    And Harvey was real--just invisible. He was a type of Irish spirit called a "pookah".
  • "Legends From The Sky"

    I've seen this on TV several times--on the FNX (First Nations Experience) network, which we get here via public television. IIRC, it's gotten awards, and a whole lot of First Nations people were involved (maybe Native Americans, too). And from the credits, I think they got all sorts of funding.

    Anyway, it's fiction, but integrates First Nations cultures and beliefs. I don't want to spoil it, so I will just say that the title gives clues.

    Not a summer blockbuster. It's done in a fairly quiet style. If it were to be shown in a theater, might be in the art house type.

    IMHO, really good.
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    Since Burns Night was last week, I re-watched Whisky Galore! Which is still great fun.
  • Has anyone watched The Dig” yet? It’s on Netflix...
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    I've just got myself a MUBI subscription - they were doing a deal where the first three months are £1, and I do tend to like artsy/foreign films more than the typical Hollywood stuff. The other day, I watched and enjoyed Josep, an animated film about Josep Bartolí, and his experiences in a concentration camp, during Franco's dicatorship.

    I also have got myself a NetFlix subscription, largely because I wanted to see Hannah Gadsby's brilliant comedy performances, after seeing clips on FB. I have watched a few films too, most recently Wonder (which we read in the Ship of Fools book club some time ago). I like some of the animated short films, such as If Anything Happens, I Love You, which is about a couple in the aftermath of their daughter being killed in a school shooting, and Canvas, which is about an elderly artist returning to painting after his wife's death. Sounds a bit like I am watching rather morbid films, but they are very well done. Another short film I enjoyed, which I thought was very well done, about a black girl at boarding school, dealing with racist miscroaggressions, and trying to work out her sense of identity (which she succeeds in doing, with a quietly triumpant ending), is Dọlápọ̀ Is Fine. (I don't know if the diacritics will show on all computers/devices, so if you want to google, without diacritics, it is Dolapo is Fine.)


  • Eigon wrote: »
    Since Burns Night was last week, I re-watched Whisky Galore! Which is still great fun.

    I've seen the original 1950s version several times and really enjoyed it. All those old B&W scenes, quaint views, old real people and crofts etc. - lovely. When I saw it was on again over Christmas I looked at the details and found it was a modern re-make (so modern the actors are still alive!) and decided with some trepidation to give it a try. It was pretty good and while held less charm found it nearly as good as I remembered the original. Since then the original was shown (I think on TalkingPictures) and I wanted to watch it to compare. Original is still better but not by as wide a margin as I'd assumed.
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I didn't know there was a re-make! It might be interesting to compare - does it still have what Paul Merton called the greatest sight gag in cinema history? That's the straight line of footprints leading into the cave, and the wibbly line of footprints leading out of it?
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I've been having a bit of a wallow in indulgence - Stardust (the film of the Neil Gaiman book) and The Princess Bride.
    Just the thing for cheering a person up.
    Also, when we finally have conventions again, my Young Man wants to cosplay as Captain Shakespeare - pirate by day, petticoats in the evening! So I was doing a bit of costume research too, since I'm probably going to be making the petticoats! (Then we just need to source a fluffy pink fan!).
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    My love for The Princess Bride kind of goes without saying because I think of it as an integral part of who I am, but you've reminded me that I also really love Stardust (both of them are rare examples of movies I like better than their respective books).

    My kids often still quote "We always knew you was a whoopsie, Captain."
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Mad Max

    I thought I had already seen it, but almost as soon as it started, I realized I hadn't, and had likely been confusing it with a couple of the sequels.

    I guess it was okay, but I'm honestly not quite seeing what all the fuss has been about these past 40 years. It really seemed just like a hyper-motorized version of cops-and-robbers, set against the backdrop of a mildly dystopian future. I say "mildly" because it actually looked more like an alternate time-line where technological development had stopped after about 1960 or so, rather than a future world that had experienced some sort of apocalyptic meltdown

    It almost seemed as if the writers were trying to create a dystopia, without having to accept the parameters of such a world. The lifestyle of Mel Gibson and his family, just for starters, seemed way too lavish for the post-whatever world that was being portrayed.
  • The Knotweed and I had a movie night last night, having blown some of the ludicrous* amount of A****n vouchers I've been given recently on DVDs of challenging and intellectual films.

    We watched Spaceballs and Young Frankenstein. I won't comment too much except to mention that I was surprised by the pathos that Peter Boyle as the monster brought to, let's face it, a Mel Brooks movie.

    *see what I did there?
  • Jemima the 9thJemima the 9th Shipmate
    edited February 2
    Kid A and I finally got round to watching Parasite the other night.
    It’s amazing. Definitely worth the lavish praise heaped upon it.
  • MiffyMiffy Shipmate
    Do TV miniseries count as movies? If so, I’d offer Russell T Davies’ latest offering It’s a Sin, following the lives of a group of friends in London during the AIDS crisis during the early 1980s to 90s.

    It’s still airing over here, though available also on All4, which is why I watched it over three evenings. But I gather it’s not travelling over The Pond until later in the month. So I won’t offer any spoilers, other than to say I found it not always easy to watch but gripping and desperately sad. It portrayed that intake of students and others who would have been starting just after we graduated, so close to home in many ways.

    No happy endings, of course, but many redeeming features. TV here seems to have been specialising in misery viewing (Black Narcissus, I’m looking at you). The big difference between IAS and the latter being that IMO, the characters in the former are way more nuanced and invited empathy in a way that the former did not.
  • SparrowSparrow Shipmate
    Yesterday was Groundhog Day, so I watched my no. 1 favourite film.
  • My indulgence at the moment is a 6 DVD collection of 1920s/30s/40s short films from the GPO unit. The most famous of these is The Night Mail, with music by Benjamin Britten and words by W H Auden. Most of the films are fascinating windows on "ordinary" life in Britain at that time. The films from the early war years are especially poignant. I can only watch 1 or 2 at a time.
  • MiffyMiffy Shipmate
    Miffy wrote: »
    Do TV miniseries count as movies? If so, I’d offer Russell T Davies’ latest offering It’s a Sin, following the lives of a group of friends in London during the AIDS crisis during the early 1980s to 90s.

    It’s still airing over here, though available also on All4, which is why I watched it over three evenings. But I gather it’s not travelling over The Pond until later in the month. So I won’t offer any spoilers, other than to say I found it not always easy to watch but gripping and desperately sad. It portrayed that intake of students and others who would have been starting just after we graduated, so close to home in many ways.

    No happy endings, of course, but many redeeming features. TV here seems to have been specialising in misery viewing (Black Narcissus, I’m looking at you). The big difference between IAS and the latter being that IMO, the characters in the former are way more nuanced and invited empathy in a way that the former did not.

    My error: should have said that the latter, (BN) did not.

  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I've been looking around for movies with Michael Sheen after seeing him as Aziraphale in Good Omens - nothing too serious, so I wasn't interested in seeing him as Brian Clough or Tony Blair.
    I came across a kid's film from 2013 called The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, a vaguely Victorian supernatural mystery with a plot that made very little sense - but Michael Sheen was great fun as Captain Will Charity, a sort of gentleman adventurer.
  • @Eigon - have you found Staged - Michael Sheen and David Tennant filming a show in lockdown. I need to catch up on series 2, but loved series 1.
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I'm waiting for Staged to come out on DVD - I've seen clips, and it's wonderful!
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited February 15
    Soul

    Not a huge animation fan(ESPECIALLY Disney), but there are things you watch because there's not much else at the theatre.

    Like Pete Docter's last directorial effort, Inside Out, this one takes as its premise the existence of an unseen world governing our own: in Inside Out, the anthropomorphized bureaucracy of the human mind, in Soul, the afterlife and the "beforelife", the latter being the realm where souls are housed before birth.

    To simplify a somewhat convoluted plot, a jazz-loving NYC music teacher falls into the afterlife via a fatal accident, and is assisted back to earth by a soul from the beforelife. The teacher's terrestrial concerns involve performing a possibly life-changing gig at a nightclub, and the soul wants nothing more than to remain in the beforelife. (There is some contrived reason why she comes to earth with the teacher, but I can't remember the exact details right now.) There is a bit of an identity-related twist in the plot, but I'll forego an explication due to a) concern over spoilers, and b) laziness.

    As you can possibly surmise, much of the story is pushed forward by the rather complicated rules and regulations of the unseen world, which of course the writers are free to invent as they wish. But if you can set aside this serial maguffinism, you can probably enjoy the film's overarching themes, which basically boil down to our old friend Pursuing A Career Vs. Following Your Heart.

    And one minor detail I did appreciate...

    The music teacher at one point refers to jazz as "One of Black people's greatest contributions to American culture." This might seem like a rather blasé observation, but it's apparently a neccessary one, considering the breathtakingly misleading history given in La La Land a few years back.

    (Yes, I'm sure non-English speaking immigrants did make some contribution to jazz, but to make that sound like the main influence, well, the most polite word I can think of to describe that is "whitewashing".)
  • It was released about three years ago, an Austrian film, Der Trafikant/The Tobacconist, about a 17 year old country lad apprenticed to a tobacconist in Vienna during the Anschluss. Freud is among the customers, and gives him advice on his love life. The film is by turns whimsical and dark. I'd recommend it, but you might want to have a schnapps in reserve.
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