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Everything posted by LawrenceA

  1. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Mystery/Crime/Noir/Etc.

    Reprisal (2018) - 4/10 Low-rent, uninspired crime drama with Frank Grillo as a family man and assistant bank manager. When his bank is robbed by a violent, methodical pro (Johnathon Schaech), Grillo is left emotionally traumatized. He eventually teams up with his neighbor (Bruce Willis), a retired police detective, to track down the robber and bring him to justice. Grillo is better than this kind of cheap junk, although it's the sort of thing that Willis appears in too often anymore. It straddles the line between a crime thriller and a dim-bulb action flick. Either way, it's bad.
  2. I've started this thread to discuss films that fall under the genre headings of mystery, noir, crime, cops and robbers, and suspense thrillers that don't quite fit the horror label. I know Cigarjoe has a recently watched noir thread, but I didn't want to interrupt his thread's distinct style, and not everything I'll talk about here will be noir. Here's my first entry: Behind That Curtain (1929) - Dreadful mystery/melodrama from Fox and director Irving Cummings has a couple of noteworthy details. John Beachum (Warner Baxter) is a dashing explorer, back in London in order to set up his next excursion, this time into the "Persian desert of India". His best friend is Eve Mannering (Lois Moran), and Eve is thrilled to inform John that she's met the man she wants to marry: Eric Durand (Philip Strange). However, Eve's wealthy uncle Sir George (Claude King) disapproves, and he's hired a detective to dig up dirt on Eric. When the detective is murdered, Eve and Eric quickly marry and move to India. Scotland Yard inspector Sir Frederick Bruce (Gilbert Emery) is on the case, and he'll solve it even if it means traveling half the globe to track down the culprit. Also featuring Boris Karloff, Jamiel Hasson, John Rogers, Edgar Norton, Mercedes De Valasco, and E.L. Park as Charlie Chan. The acting is atrocious, the direction sedentary, the lack of score is painfully glaring, and the script is abysmal. However, this marked the first sound role for Karloff, playing a turban-sporting manservant, and it's also a Charlie Chan movie, although just barely. The character is name-dropped a few times earlier on, but the man himself only appears 10 minutes before the end, and then he only has about 5 lines of dialogue. Most of the usual detective action is instead taken by the stuffy Sir Frederick. This was the third appearance of Chan (here played by Korean actor Park), as he had also appeared in a silent serial in '26 and a silent feature in '27 (played by George Suwa and Kamayama Sojin respectively, both of Japanese descent, and both films now lost). He next appeared in 1931's Charlie Chan Carries On played by Swedish Warner Oland for the first time. That film is also lost, while the second Oland film, The Black Camel (1931) survives. The following 3 entries are all lost, while the rest survive. 4/10 Source: YouTube, a very good print. Park as Chan on right.
  3. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Action/Adventure

    Escape Plan: The Extractors (2019) - 4/10 Terrible action flick starring Sylvester Stallone as Ray Breslin, veteran escapologist and penitentiary and security expert. The deranged son (Devon Sawa) of Breslin's deceased ex-partner kidnaps a Hong Kong executive's daughter in order to lure Breslin into a revenge scheme to destroy him once and for all. With Dave Bautista, 50 Cent, Jaime King, Russell Wong, Daniel Bernhardt, and Jin Zhang. This is the third part in the series. The first film wasn't terrible, but the second film was a complete trainwreck, marred by budget issues and production delays. This third installment was rushed into production at the behest of the Chinese backers who salvaged the second film from bankruptcy, and it features several Chinese characters who seem to be operating in their own separate film. The end result is only slightly better than part 2, but it's still atrocious, and worth avoiding.
  4. Air Mail (1932) - John Ford directed this look at the US Air Mail Service, from Universal Pictures. Ralph Bellamy stars as Mike Miller, the tough boss of an air mail station and supervisor over a number of pilots. The hazards are many, and turnover in the ranks is frequent as many pilots crash, permanently injuring themselves or, more likely, dying. After one such death, hot-shot former war ace Duke Talbot (Pat O'Brien) joins the service and immediately starts rubbing everyone the wrong way. But when the chips are down, he may be the only one who can save the day. Also featuring Gloria Stuart, Lillian Bond, David Landau, Russell Hopton, Slim Summerville, Leslie Fenton, Frank Albertson, George Irving, Jack Pennick, Jim Thorpe, and Ward Bond. The highlight here is the aerial footage, with some excellent shots from under the planes while doing low-flying aerobatics. Some rear-projection and miniature work is antiquated, though. There's a lot of the typical "men in close, stressful quarters" type of dialogue and camaraderie, which comes off as more genuine than the attempts at melodrama involving infidelity. The movie serves as a nice snapshot of a type of work, and the characters who worked it, that are now distant history. 7/10 Source: YouTube, from a recording off of AMC.
  5. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Mystery/Crime/Noir/Etc.

    We Die Young (2019) - 6/10 Surprisingly competent crime drama about a Washington, D.C. teen (Elijah Rodriguez) mixed up with the local MS-13 gang. The kid sells drugs for gang boss Rincon (David Castaneda), including opioids to Afghan-war vet and auto mechanic Daniel (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who suffers from PTSD and painful injuries that have left him mute and with a permanent tracheostomy. When the kid gets into trouble trying to protect his little brother from the gang, Daniel steps in to help. Van Damme hasn't starred in a good movie in decades, but this wasn't bad, as far as low budget crime dramas go, and the performances by everyone are good. Castaneda's gang boss is a complex character, and Van Damme's aged visage adds to a wordless performance. Not great, or even very good, this is still the best thing Van Damme's made in a long time.
  6. I tend not to refer to Korean music at all. Except, I guess, right now.
  7. LawrenceA

    Ultra early 2019 Oscar tracking???

    We're still a few months away from the end of the year, and there's usually one or two surprises left in that time frame. Maybe we'll see somebody new emerge, however unlikely. And I'm sure one or two more of the "shoo-ins" will fizzle out, like The Goldfinch. Yeah, everything I've heard about Ford v Ferrari says that Bale is supporting, but whether due to a contract stipulation or studio hype, they've decided to submit him as a lead. A couple of yours above were under my radar. Clemency and Just Mercy. I'm always glad for more recommendations.
  8. LawrenceA

    Ultra early 2019 Oscar tracking???

    I saw an article yesterday that said that Bale will be submitted in the lead category by the studio. I'm not sure if that therefore means he has to be considered, or if the Academy can ignore it and nominate him in whatever category they see fit.
  9. Bette Davis is Star of the Month. Here are the weekly links:
  10. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Horror

    Dead Trigger (2017) - 3/10 In the year 2025, a virus has decimated civilization, reducing the healthy population to a few scattered cities. Those afflicted with the virus become zombie-like killers. When a general's daughter goes missing in the infected zone, a team of fighters is assembled for a rescue operation. Featuring Dolph Lundgren, Isaiah Washington, Autumn Reeser, Romeo Miller, Brandon Beemer, Tamara Braun, Oleg Taktarov, James Chalke, and Joel Gretsch. This is cheap and dumb, and comes across like a bunch of bored actors found a box of military props and decided to make a zombie movie over the weekend. The oddball cast almost makes this worth sitting through. Almost. This was based on a videogame, and there's a go-nowhere subplot early in the film where the military recruits players of a zombie-survival game to become real fighters.
  11. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Horror

    Svengali (1931) - Supernatural thriller from Warner Brothers and director Archie Mayo, based on the novel Trilby by George L. Du Maurier. John Barrymore stars as Svengali, a composer and music impresario who teaches singing in hopes of finding the right talent to mold into stardom. He discovers it in pretty young woman Trilby (Marian Marsh), and sets out to harness her abilities, which also requires him to exert his supernatural ability to hypnotize and dominate the thoughts of others. This understandably upsets Trilby's suitor Billee (Bramwell Fletcher). Also featuring Donald Crisp, Carmel Myers, Luis Alberni, Lumsden Hare, Ferike Boros, and Paul Porcasi. Barrymore, with a long pointed beard and heavy makeup, gets to glare about and look intimidating. The scenes showing his hypnosis, during which Barrymore wears white contact lenses, are effective, as is a scene with the camera swooping over highly-stylized rooftops to show his hypnotic pull over great distances. Marsh is pretty but unpolished, acting wise, but as she was just 17 at the time, it's understandable. There's a scene of her nude modeling for an art class that could only have been Pre-Code. While this film is generally categorized as horror, I wouldn't go in expecting much of the typical horror film elements. This earned two Oscar nominations, for Best Art Direction (Anton Grot) and Best Cinematography (Barney McGill). 7/10 Source: TCM.
  12. Here are two answers to the question "Are there any warm-blooded reptiles": David Kirshner, Zoologist, wildlife interpreter, wildlife illustrator and photographer - "I am going to start by getting a bit technical, only because I think the terms ‘warm’ and ‘cold’ blooded are not very accurate descriptions . A supposedly ‘cold-blooded’ reptile will, on most days, have warm blood simply because that reptile will be doing anything in its power to keep itself warm, by basking or resting on something warm. So how do we describe this sort of thing? The first distinction we can make is whether or not an animal is able to maintain its body temperature at a fairly stable level. A poikilotherm is an animal whose internal temperature varies a lot. A homeotherm is an animal whose internal temperature is fairly stable. We know most mammals are homeotherms, but the surprise is that so are most reptiles. The difference is how that temperature regimen is maintained. An endotherm is an animal that produces its own heat internally. Mammals fall into this category. An ectotherm is an animal that gets its heat externally and uses behavioural or other means to maintain a stable temperature. Most reptiles fall into this category. The reptile that shuffles around to keep itself warm, through basking in the sun or resting on something warm is trying to keep its internal temperature stable (making it a homeotherm) but is getting heat externally (making it an ectotherm). Getting back to your original question, what you probably want to know is whether or not there are any endothermic reptiles (excluding dinosaurs and birds, presumably). And the answer is yes (sort of) . The leatherback sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, can maintain a body temperature up to 18C above ambient temperature. Although the heat isn’t produced metabolically, as it is in ‘true’ endotherms like mammals and birds, it is generated from muscle activity and is therefore produced from within." Donna Fernstrom, Reptile keeper and breeder, wildlife observation and ecology hobbyist - "Well, yes. Birds are endotherms, and they’re part of Sauropsida, which is synonymous with Reptilia. The Linnaean classification system is sadly outdated, and the old group ‘reptiles’ is non-monophyletic, so is falling into disuse. The only way to resolve it is to be rid of it entirely, or simply use it as a synonym for sauropsida (as I mentioned). And if that’s the case, then birds are definitely reptiles. There are some mesothermic non-avian reptiles. And some mesothermic mammals. The whole warm-blooded thing isn’t as important as it once made out to be. They’ve even found an endothermic fish now." So to put it more simply, there were warm-blooded and cold-blooded reptiles in the ancient past. The warm-blooded ones evolved into what are now birds or certain sea-life, while the cold-blooded ones evolved (or not) into the modern reptiles. Anymore questions?
  13. LawrenceA

    To TopBilled or anyone, where is Jakeem?

    Hey, I mentioned that I noticed your absence. You had stated something about setting a goal this year of posting about one movie a day in the "I Just Watched" thread, and then you disappeared a few days later. I noticed! But I didn't start a thread about it...
  14. LawrenceA

    GOP madness Unbound...

    Mark Levin: ‘Hasn’t Even Been a Hint of Scandal’ in Trump’s Presidency During a recent broadcast of his Blaze TV show, Levin—who also hosts a Fox News weekend program—took aim at Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) over the former GOP presidential nominee ramping up his criticism of Trump as the Ukraine scandal has deepened. With it recently being revealed that Romney had a clandestine Twitter account used for criticizing Trump’s behavior, among other things, Levin took the opportunity to claim that Romney “known nothing about” the personal lives and behavior of former President Barack Obama or ex-Vice President Joe Biden “outside of what we’ve been told.” “And they kept the [John] Kennedy stuff hidden for decades, they kept the [Lyndon] Johnson stuff hidden for decades, they kept the FDR stuff hidden for decades, and his affairs and so forth,” the conservative commentator added, implying that Obama/Biden had skeletons in their closets. Levin proceeded to go on a largely confusing rant in which he said he wanted to question Romney about the Founding Fathers’ sexual affairs and whether he thought it was right for Franklin Roosevelt to team up with Russia during World War II. “What do you think about that, Willard?” Levin grumbled. “I can go through history, one case after another, about how people are so terribly imperfect.” “But I will say this about our president,” the pro-Trump host continued: “While he’s been president there hasn’t even been a hint of scandal. Not a hint!”
  15. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Horror

    Nightmare Weekend (1986) - 2/10 Incomprehensible sci-fi horror about a mad scientist (Debbie Laster) manipulating the minds of 3 women (Debra Hunter, Lori Lewis, Andrea Thompson), causing them to become drooling psychopaths. With Dale Midkiff and Robert John Burke. This is very stupid, incoherently edited, with an unfathomable script and terrible acting. There's also a lot of nudity and a puppet, so it's not all bad. Just 98.5% of it. There's a copy up on Amazon Prime. The end credits are unreadable.
  16. LawrenceA

    The Soap Opera Thread

    I saw that John Clarke has died. He played Mickey Horton on Days of Our Lives for 39 years, from 1965 to 2004. He had bit roles in a few films as well. He was 88. His daughter Melinda Clarke is also an actress. I first noticed her in Return of the Living Dead 3, and kept a poster from that up in my store for a few years. She was also recurring on CSI as Lady Heather, the dominatrix that occasionally romanced lead William L. Petersen's Gil Grissom.
  17. LawrenceA

    Trump's Biggest Whoppers

    We should be so lucky.
  18. LawrenceA

    Halloween horror quiz...the clues are alive!

    That one is so familiar, too... And #14 looks like it's from one of the Corman/Poe movies, but I don't know which one.
  19. Rey will be the Force-conceived offspring of the Emperor. She's supposed to mate with Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and create the ultimate Force-powered ubermensch. But things won't go as planned. Or there will be Ewoks. Lots and lots of Ewoks.
  20. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Horror

    Discarnate (2018) - 4/10 A group of researchers travel to a secluded house that's supposedly haunted. They take an experimental drug that will hopefully allow them to perceive things in the spirit world. It works, but it also brings them to the attention of something more malevolent. Featuring Thomas Kretschmann, Nadine Velazquez, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Chris Coy, Matt Munroe, and Josh Stewart. The decent cast and promising set-up are completely squandered by poor direction and an even weaker script.
  21. LawrenceA

    Halloween horror quiz...the clues are alive!

    #9 - Dracula #20 - Village of the Damned These two are uncertain guesses: #21 - Night/Curse of the Demon #22 - 13 Ghosts
  22. LawrenceA

    November 2019 schedule is up

    It may have seemed that way, but they were promoting something. If not a soon-to-be released project (movie, book, TV show, live appearance, album, etc.), then they were promoting themselves, getting their names and faces back into the public consciousness, and hopefully getting more and better offers. Sometimes they were doing a favor for the host or producer by filling in for someone else who was expected to appear but didn't. You still see that today, with celebs who live close to the filming locales showing up to fill a spot that someone else dropped out of for whatever reason. The only difference is now they'll often tell the audience that was the case, whereas in the old days they'd play it like everything was going as planned.
  23. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Horror

    Jeruzalem (2015) - 4/10 Found-footage horror features two American friends, Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) and Rachel (Yael Grobglas), who travel to Israel on vacation. They meet charming archaeologist Kevin (Yon Tumarkin) on the plane, and he convinces the pair to travel with him to Jerusalem instead of their intended destination, Tel Aviv. What starts out as an adventure in an exotic land turns diabolical when demons begin to emerge all over the old city, slaughtering hundreds, and trapping the survivors within the quarantined walls. This Israeli feature could have been something with a larger budget and a few more passes at the script. The visual conceit, that everything shown is viewed through Sarah's Google Glass headgear, works well enough within the found-footage convention. Unfortunately things get tedious and frequently incoherent towards the end.
  24. LawrenceA

    Recently Watched Horror

    Better Watch Out (2016) - 6/10 It's the Christmas season, and the parents of 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller) are headed to a party, so they hire regular babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) to watch him for the night. Luke's had a crush on Ashley for a long time, and as she's set to move away soon, he's determined to make their last together memorable. However, everyone's plans are upended when mysterious intruders begin to menace Luke and Ashley. Also featuring Ed Oxenbould, Aleks Mikic, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton, and Dacre Montgomery. This starts out as any of a number of home-invasion thrillers, with the Christmas setting adding the only flavor. Then there's a big twist that changes the movie completely, which I won't go into to avoid spoilers. I thought it was reasonably well executed, and the cast is mostly up to the challenge. DeJonge and Oxenbould had previously played siblings in The Visit (2015).

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