What's on your Daily Viewing List?

Adam Lenhardt

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The Babysitter
Originally Released: 10/13/2017
Watched: 09/15/2020
1080P HD digital streaming on Netflix, upscaled to 4K via Roku Ultra

The Babysitter (2017) Poster


I had a blast with this movie. It basically takes all of the teen horror movie tropes, a couple Joe Dante coming of age movies, throws them all in a blender, and then doses them with acid.

Originally made for New Line Cinema and then picked up by Netflix, the screenplay -- on the 2014 Black List of best unproduced screenplays, provides a perfect showcase for all of McG's best qualities as a filmmaker in a package ridiculous enough to accommodate his excesses.

Samara Weaving, in one of her earlier American roles, stars as the titular babysitter. She brings a counterintuitive warmth to the role; her performance in the first half hour really makes it clear why the boy she's babysitting adores her, which in turn makes everything that follows a lot more effective.

Said boy is Cole, the last kid in his grade who still needs a babysitter. Judah Lewis brings a deceptive blandness to the role; he seems like every other nerdy anxious twelve-year-old boy in America. But by the end of the movie, he is surprisingly credible going head to head with a hand of murderous devil worshippers.

All of the supporting characters are standard movie archetypes, but just a little bit skewed. Everybody in front of the camera was clearly having fun, and it gives the movie a gleeful joyous energy even when objectively horrible shit is going down.

Highly recommended for any Halloween horror movie marathons next month. The sequel just came out, and it's definitely going on my watchlist.
 

Robin9

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Robin

Those Redheads From Seattle
Must confess, I found this one a little disappointing...a film that just couldn't figure out exactly what it wanted to be. It tries to be many things - a musical, a Klondike adventure, a western, a romance, a family drama - and ends up not pulling any of them off. Rhonda Fleming sure looks purty, though. Plus, the 3D is good. A very nice disc package from the folks at the 3D Film Archive.
Being a fan of Rhonda Fleming - and her looks - I regret very much that in the early to mid 1950s she made several films in which she is the only thing worth watching. Tropic Zone is a good example: she's fabulous, the film's garbage.
 
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bujaki

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Jose Ortiz-Marrero
I've eaten enough oats for a while, or else I'll join a cavalry regiment. Here's last night's diet:
War Arrow (Starz) 1953. Jeff Chandler courts Maureen O'Hara who may not be a widow after all. Lovely Suzan Ball plays an Indian. Shown widescreen and I wonder whether this is a case of shot academy and premiered wide. The closeups looked very tight. Interesting plot and exciting finish.
40 Guns to Apache Pass (Starz) 1967. Audie Murphy and more cavalry. He has to get these guns back to the unit or face extinction. But first he has to fight his villainous underlings. Unnecessary narration mars this oater. Average.
Apache Territory (Starz) 1958. Rory Calhoun carries the film as a drifter with brains who saves the few members of distaff groups who are worth saving from an Indian attack. Not bad as the suspense builds to an explosive climax.
Bullet for a Badman (Starz) 1964. Audie Murphy was never a great actor, and here Darren McGavin and Ruta Lee really steal the show. A very interesting tale in which McGavin has sworn to kill ex-BFF Murphy who has married his ex-wife and adopted his son. Through twists and turns, McGavin has to come to the aid as well as betray Murphy. Eventually the posse is worse than the Indians who pursue them, and McGavin and Murphy have to join forces in order to survive. The end has only one man standing, but it is quite touching and even earned a tear from me. If only Murphy had not been so limited as an actor...
Tonight I'll change my diet. No more horse operas for a while. TCM Women Director Series beckons...
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Originally Released: 09/10/2020
Watched: 09/16/2020
1080P HD digital streaming on Netflix, upscaled to 4K via Roku Ultra

The Babysitter: KillerQueen (2020) Poster


Like most sequels, and most horror sequels in particular, it is vastly inferior to the original: Obvious plot twists, lazy repetition of moments that worked well in the first movie, and a plot that is pretty much the same as the first movie only in a different location. If the first movie was sharp and exciting, this one feels a lot more pedestrian and a lot less memorable.

Where it suffers the most is the lack of a compelling villain. Bee in the first movie was a really well-written villain, paired with a really terrific performance from Samara Weaving. The villain this outing has neither the writing or the onscreen presence.

But it's still a hell of a lot of fun. The immature sense of humor, the unrepentant embrace of its exploitation roots with T&A and over the top violence, the satire of genre tropes, all still work this time around.

And the sequel managed to bring back every major character from the first movie, including all of the dead ones. Their resurrection feels cheap, but what made them fun in the first movie also makes them fun in this one.

In fact, there's really only one new character this time around, but she holds her own well.

And the movie ends well, providing fairly satisfying answers to some of the lingering questions from the first film. If they make a third one, hopefully they'll keep the two protagonists but come up with some completely new supernatural mayhem to put them through.
 

bujaki

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Man Hunt (TCM app) 1933. It's a bit of a slough saved only by some interesting camera angles, tracking shots and lighting concocted by director Irving Cummings and DP Joseph Valentine. Otherwise, poor Junior Durkin is wasted as a dim teenage detective helping find the murderer of Charlotte Henry's father (a diamond thief).
Women Direct Film Part 3 (TCM app) Accompanying documentary to series of films programmed by TCM Tuesday evenings.
Joan of Paris (TCM app) 1942. Last viewed as a child close to 60 years ago. Old print which still shows glimpses of Russell Metty's use of chiaroscuro lighting. Morgan is luminous (those eyes!) and Alan Ladd was already showing that star quality (1942 would prove to be his year). Good cast: Henreid, Cregar, Mitchell; and direction: Robert Stevenson. Good morale booster showing the unvanquished spirit of France even under the tyranny of Nazi rule.
 
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Mike Frezon

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On Disney+:



Peg had read the book and wanted to see how they handled the movie. She said the book was a bit more graphic and that the movie was typically Disney-sanitized for kids. But we agreed that the topic (animals in captivity) is a tough one for young children. The payoff at the end was rather unsatisfying since...

the animals really only traded one captivity for another.

But , on the plus side, the cast was great and the CGI was even better. I almost always fall deep into the uncanny valley when I see a film with CGI animals but this one did it right! I was amazed at how good the CGI looked and how realistic each one of the animals appeared.

I fully expected to be bored by this film and find myself distracted by other things. But it didn't happen.
 
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bujaki

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Jose Ortiz-Marrero
I wrote I'd be watching films directed by women playing on TCM (via TCM app) (enough oaters):
Loving Couples 1964. Saw this during my college years (late '60s). Mai Zetterling's strong debut as a film director. She goes for strength by using the great Sven Nykvist as DP and many of Ingmar Bergman's stable of actors. The film was groundbreaking in its frank attitude towards sex and female nudity. Women are the protagonists as they control or are controlled by men. But at the end they are the ones who guard the future by procreating and bringing forth life.
Zero Motivation 2014. Debut directorial feature of Talya Levie. Multiple award winning story of women serving in an Israeli military base. The director deftly handles comedy and drama involving two young women who are friends, have a falling out and reconcile. Life in the base is hellishly boring since they are reduced to filling space (due to Israeli politics). That's the reason for the title of the film: there's zero motivation to do anything if you're a female in the Israeli military. The film's final image is very eloquent. Our protagonist is discharged and she enters a bus and looks at all the empty seats facing her. That's all she got from 2 years in the military.
 

Matt Hough

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I watched River of No Return tonight. I viewed it on the TCM app even though the sharpness and color vibrancy weren't up to HD standards. I know a lot of people didn't like the Blu-ray issued for the film in the Forever Marilyn set, but it's a great improvement on the indistinct transfer TCM had on its app.
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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The Glass Castle
Originally Released: 08/11/2017
Watched: 09/18/2020
4K UHD digital streaming on Apple TV app via Roku Ultra

The Glass Castle (2017) iTunes Cover


An adaptation of Jeannette Walls's best-selling memoir about her unconventional upbringing with an alcoholic father and a self-involved mother, this movie jumps back and forth between Jeanette's increasingly turbulent upbringing and her adult life in New York City circa 1989.

There's a lot of really messed up things that happen in this movie, but some of the most messed up things -- particularly when the children were younger -- are left out of the movie.

The movie is anchored by terrific performances from both the adult actors and the child actors playing Jeanette and her siblings at various ages. There are many moments that will ring true to anybody whose family has been affected by alcoholism. Jeanette's parents, Rex and Rose Mary, are objectively awful people. It is a credit to Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts that the audience understands why their children were ultimately so loyal to them, in spite of everything.

As teen/adult Jeanette and preteen Jeanette respectively, Brie Larson and Ella Anderson very effectively put the audience inside Jeanette's head, so you know exactly what she's thinking and feeling at each moment.

The movie's critical flaw is that it goes for a moment of reconciliation at the end that may have actually happened, but doesn't feel earned in the context of everything that came before.
 

Robert Crawford

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I watched River of No Return tonight. I viewed it on the TCM app even though the sharpness and color vibrancy weren't up to HD standards. I know a lot of people didn't like the Blu-ray issued for the film in the Forever Marilyn set, but it's a great improvement on the indistinct transfer TCM had on its app.
I thought Marilyn looked beautiful on that Blu-ray.:)
 
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