Shackpets | Available on iOS and Google Play Store

action wombmate's MOVIE MONDAY | 12.14.20

My weekly movie discussion thread. I'll list the movies that I've watched the previous week, covering only movies that watched for the first time, and you guys can comment with movies you're interested in and I'll tell you what I think about them, and then we can discuss. 

action wombmate

I've seen four movies (that I’d previously never seen) since we last convened for MOVIE MONDAY. 

 

Underwater

2020 | Starring: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel | Dir. Willian Eubank

Despite the lukewarm description from several Shackers in last week's Movie Monday, I decided to give this a shot anways because I can be a sucker for genre stuff and I needed something I didn't have to think about too hard. It's not a remarkable movie in any fashion but I think I went in with sufficiently low expectations that I wound up enjoying it despite not having anything super-positive to say about it. I always like seeing Vincent Cassel, and Kristen Stewart has never bothered me, though none of the characters in this are really given tons to work with, it's a movie that prioritizes plot and peril over drama. I was on the fence as to whether or not the film's murky underwater visuals felt appropriate and effectively creepy, or if they were simply too disorienting for the audience. SPOILERS: The design of the huge kraken thing was cool, but the humanoid design of the smaller monsters felt kinda dumb, nothing that lives that deep would look like that. 

 

Jackie Chan's First Strike

1996 | Starring: Jackie Chan, Jackson Lou | Dir. Stanley Tong

I think this one can safely be categorized as "lesser" Chan. Some of the charming elements of his films are still here - the overdubbed dialog, the cheesy humor, the awkward acting, etc. But the first 2/3 (at least) feel like a very low-rent James Bond copycat. It's not until quite late in the movie that Chan delivers on the inventive style of martial arts action that he's known for, and there are some gems in this one, including a whole sequence with Jackie on stilts. There was a couple fun plot twists but for the most part the story was inconsequential hooey. Kinda fun, but maybe only a must-see for Chan devotees.

 

The Man Who Knew Too Much

1934 | Starring: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre | Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock would later make a 2nd film with the same title, but I have not seen that one yet. This is firmly from his very early British portion of his career and you can really sense it. There's not a ton of visual flair to his presentation yet, and despite it being the 1930's equivalent of an action thriller, there's a very English kind of reserve to all the action and calamity that occurs. But, I don't want to make this sound like I didn't enjoy the movie, because I did. Partly because I could see that parallel between it and modern action thrillers, but also because it's a pretty effective and brisk story with a fair bit of humor thrown in. This was, as I understand it, Lorre's first English-language feature after fleeing Germany only one year prior, and I think he's easily the star of the show. His character is equal parts menacing and petulant. Lastly, I think the film's first section, which I won't give away here, is excellently executed as an introduction to the larger plot.

 

Christmas in Connecticut

1945 | Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet| Dir. Peter Godfrey

Much how I saw the previous film as a sort of prototype for action thrillers, this movie feels like a bit of a prototype or early example of what we now call "sitcoms". Don't take this as a negative, though, I think the movie is brisk and funny and gets away with just the right level of absurdity. The love story at the heart of the movie is preposterously superficial of course, but it almost feels as if the film knows it and doesn't care. It doesn't quite have the high energy of a screwball comedy like His Girl Friday, but it still mines its premise for some pretty amusing scenarios. Also, if you're not overly fond of "Christmas" movies, this one doesn't have a ton to do with Christmas other than it being the setting for the story. 

 

And, the usual MOVIE MONDAY thing:

 

1. Name a movie. Any movie. If I've seen it, I'll briefly tell you what I think about it. I'm sure you're dying to know.

2. If you want, we can then dig deeper in our agreement/disagreement about said movie.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 14, 2020 8:19 AM

    In this week's movie discussion - Underwater, Jackie Chan's First Strike, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Christmas in Connecticut

    Read more: action wombmate's MOVIE MONDAY | 12.14.20

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 8:58 AM

      I remember seeing First Strike when it came out. Yah very hooey, but that still remember that stilt scene -- amazing.

      Saw Happiest Season and was pleasantly surprised and entertained. Also saw Christmas Chronicles 2 (yes am watching new random Christmas movies with my wife) and like that as well for what it was. Actually think it was better than the first one.

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 9:53 AM

        Haven't heard of Happiest Season and I have yet to watch any Christmas Chronicles movies. I just don't know if I can muster the interest.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 9:28 AM

      Jackie chan is always at least a little fun. Can't go wrong with kong fu

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 10:23 AM

        I love The Fearless Hyena

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 10:24 AM

      I watched The Art of Self Defense.

      I liked it overall. Was not as funny as I was expecting, was really dark and kinda weird.

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 10:31 AM

        It has some really great moments and I liked the overall idea, but I actually wished it had been a big more biting and dark. A few bits felt a bit flat to me. Still, I'm all for anything that pokes a sharp stick at fragile masculinity.

        • reply
          December 14, 2020 12:21 PM

          Definitely agree on the last bit, we need more of that.

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 9:32 PM

        I felt like the first half to three fourths of the movie were really great, but it didn’t stick the landing.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 10:26 AM

      Who Am I > First Strike

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 10:31 AM

        I don't think I've seen that one yet, either!

        • reply
          December 14, 2020 10:32 AM

          It's sorta the same type of plot; first half is a bit muddled but the stunts in Who Am I dwarf First Strike.

          • reply
            December 14, 2020 10:39 AM

            yeah the African tribe part I could do without

        • reply
          December 14, 2020 12:30 PM

          Supercop aka Police Story 3 is a must but Police Story 1 and 2 are also gems

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 10:31 PM

        This is true. I really like the car stunts in Who Am I, and the fight with the two blond dudes that Jet Li redid in Kiss Of The Dragon.
        Armor Of God even better. That's Supercop... 2 I think? With Michelle Yeoh. (cat mreowl)
        But as mentioned, the ONE is Drunken Master. You should also have seen Laughing Hyena and Spiritual Kung Fu, but that's 70s stuff.
        Also City Hunter if only for Jackie as every Street Fighter 2 character. Yes, I said every. Well, not Bosses or Hidden.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 10:31 AM

      since last time, I saw:

      The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
      https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3513498/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_3
      Fun movie and a treat for Lego fans just like the first one.

      Justice League (2017)
      https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0974015/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_3
      I didn't see it when it released. Not as bad as all the jokes and memes made it out to be. All the characters aside from Superman and Wonder Woman should have had individual films, for sure. Like, Cyborg is not iconic like the Flash or Aquaman, so if you didn't already have prior knowledge, you were kind of learning about a new character on the spot. But it was enjoyable enough.

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 10:41 AM

        I liked the 2nd Lego flick. It wasn't quite as memorable to me as the first, but I like the way both films use the toys as a way to comment about play, fairness, and the value of imagination.

        I've been saying since it was released that I didn't find Justice League to be an outright bad movie, it was just completely bland and forgettable. This "director's cut" experiment they're doing on HBO Max will be interesting, but yeah the theatrical version seemed to have all the rough edges buffed out because the studio was seemingly trying real hard to make the movie as broadly appealing as possible. It didn't work for me.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 11:37 AM

      It was the fiancee's birthday this week, so we did a staycation and binge-watched movies.

      She got two picks and went with The Wedding Date (which was a completely forgettable Deborah Messing/Dermot Mulroney My Best Friend's Wedding also-ran) and Hope Floats (which is also completely forgettable except for how great of an actress Sandra Bullock is; she's really the only reason to watch).

      I got her to watch Midnight Special which is one of my favorite films of the decade. I love everything Nichols does, but something about this movie feels particularly divine: the pacing, the way the story unfurls, the characters, and, of course, the finale.

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 1:21 PM

        I have seen Hope Floats but it was so long ago that I really don't remember anything about it.

        I loved Midnight Special. The tone of that thing really worked for me. The overall story may be a little lightweight, but with presentation that good I kinda don't care.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 11:46 AM

      Ava - A "Netflix" movie I assume? It was entertaining, but the movie played it "safe" throughout. Nothing unexpected happens and it brings nothing new to the table, besides a strong female lead. I liked John Malkovich in this one. He needs to have his own fuckin movie! Wait, he does....he needs another of his own movies!

      Inglorious Basterds - Its good? Maybe. I mean I love the long dialog. I appreciate a movie that takes its time. But damn...its a what of ultimate revenge against the Nazis...I mean yay!!? Its someones pipe dream?! I'm not really interested in watching someone else's pipe dream. I want to see what actually happened or a new idea or something...not really this. The blonde lead was really pretty though...who the heck was that and why isnt she in more stuff? Why couldn't the movie be more like Act I? Now THAT was awesome.

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 11:53 AM

        Melanie Laurent is in a lot of french stuff

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 1:47 PM

        I haven't seen Ava.

        As for Basterds, I personally have nothing against fanciful takes on history. Movies should be allowed to be any style they want to be. There's plenty of historically-based movies about Hitler and WWII, why not one that isn't? But putting that aside, I think certain scenes of the movie are a masterclass in how to generate tension, and how good dialogue can play a major role in achieving it. I like that it's a movie that's not precious about being nice to any of its characters (not that we'd expect less from Tarantino) but there are characters I like more than others. In particular, I'm not a fan of Eli Roth and I kind of wince every time the movie gives him something significant to do. I don't think it's my favorite Tarantino, but I do like it a heck of a lot.

        The actress you mention is Mélanie Laurent. She's French and mostly does French films, but she has been in a few English-language productions, including that recent Michael Bay movie 6 Underground. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0491259/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t2

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 9:16 PM

        Oh man, Ava was fucking garbage. Strong cast for sure but the writing was so cliche and just plain awful. Goes to show you that acting can't save bad writing.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 12:41 PM

      Good stuff! Yeah, your take on Underwater was just like my own I think.

      I watched Ava and Peppermint. I think I liked Ava better, neither movie was awesome, but both had some awesome parts. Peppermint was tough to watch for a second (as a father). I'm losing my edge and seeing kids gunned down (even when done mostly with taste) was still tough.

      Action sequences were ok, choreography was ok, acting was ok. Malkovich phoned it in, but was still great. Solid movies that pass the time but will be forgotten in a few days.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 1:40 PM

      Underwater is one of the best Cthulu movies made.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 8:26 PM

      The real significant thing about First Strike was that Ladder Fight. Other than it being his biggest HK film, and a record holder among HK films overall.
      The Jackie Chan you "must not miss" is Legend Of Drunken Master (2), which is probably my favorite single Legendary Wong Fei-hung story. Jet Li's The Legend 1 & 2 are really good too (and have the mother playing more of a major role).

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 8:36 PM

        That ladder fight might be my single all-time favorite Jackie Chan sequence, and that's really saying something.

        • reply
          December 14, 2020 9:57 PM

          There were like 8 injuries in that fight and 5 were to Jackie!

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 9:57 PM

        I've seen that Drunken Master. It's great.

    • reply
      December 14, 2020 9:02 PM

      Hey movie fans! A short I shot went up on prime!

      It's a super strange silent film, but it has won buckets of awards all over the world.

      I hope you enjoy it!

      https://www.amazon.com/Seahorse-Trainer-John-R-Taylor/dp/B08HGJRVXH

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 9:55 PM

        Added to my list!

      • reply
        December 14, 2020 9:59 PM

        I THOUGHT THAT WAS A GRAY SKY AT FIRST.
        You sneaky sonofa...

        • reply
          December 14, 2020 10:14 PM

          Two things REALLY tickled me:
          the faucet radio
          the aquarium tv

          Also I noticed couple of what I've come to consider some of your signature shots:
          the Window On The World
          the Top Down Over Circle (though you didn't spin this one)

          And oooo that water layer reflection/refraction!

          • reply
            December 15, 2020 8:57 AM

            Haha yep I freaking love a frame within a frame and a spinning bird's eye!

            I think I added a few degrees of rotation to this bird's eye? It doesn't seem like it warrants a big spin move, but I put a little one on it :)

Hello, Meet Lola