Movies You Watched in March 2013
Ben Lott
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I've always been a big-time fan of the New-to-You geeklists that Grimwold puts together. It's just awesome to hear people talk about the games they have discovered. I'm also a big-time fan of movies, so this is a list where we can have similar discussions about films. But I won't limit you to just talking about movies that were new-to-you, in case you didn't manage to watch any this month. This list is simply for you to talk about Movies You Watched in March.

Enjoy...

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1. Board Game: Robot Master [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:6129]
Board Game: Robot Master
Ben Lott
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Mason
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New to Me


When I heard the plot outline for this movie I knew I had to see it at some point. However the movie's a little more obscure so you may not have heard this plot outline. Therefore I'll share it with you and see if I can hook you too. The movie is set in the "near future." Frank is a retired burglar, and his son gives him a robot to help take care of his needs. Through a series of events that you'll have to watch the movie to understand, the robot and Frank become the most unlikely pair of jewelry thieves. I'm so pleased that the movie delivered on this story perfectly. The transition from Frank resenting the robot, to Frank liking the robot is so well executed that I never questioned it for a moment. They also designed the plot perfectly to actually make the audience root for Frank despite his surly demeanor. This was a very believable future too. It didn't feel sci-fi or anything like that. Aside from minor technological advances, the whole film felt exactly like it was set in 2013.

Big props should go to Frank Langella for his lead role. I'm always impressed when you can tell what's going on inside a character's head without the actor needing lines to explain it. In fact there's a lot of that kind of quality acting going on. Very little of the movie is exposition, the writer and director allow you to figure out things simply based on the actions and facial expressions of the characters. As for the robot, I don't know who to give the credit for that performance. Peter Sarsgaard gives it a likeable voice, but there's more to it than that. I don't know if it was a puppet, or some guy in a costume, or an actual robot they used but its mannerisms were perfect. You couldn't help liking that hunk of metal and plastic. Which is crucial to the plot of the movie. If the robot was annoying there is no way you would be able to put yourself in Frank's shoes.

I'm trying to figure out how to tell you some of the story points I liked in this movie without spoiling it for you so I suggest, if you might watch the movie and don't want it spoiled, perhaps you should skip this last paragraph. Let's put it this way, without talking about it openly, there is a definite debate in this movie over whether robots have souls or emotions. The really interesting part is that the humans are the ones forced to work through those questions, because the robots don't even care. In fact my wife was disatisfied with the conclusion of the movie, and I think part of that is because she had begun to think of the robot as a person and not just an appliance. However, in my mind her reaction is exactly why this movie was so spectacularly successful. She grew attached to the robot like she would a human, exactly like Frank did. Of course part of her frustration is also because the robot's mission to make Frank healthier was working, so the ending was kind of sad. I'll say no more, except that I really liked this movie because it made me laugh. It was just charming and unique enough to make me want to watch it again someday.


I grew up watching every G.I.Joe cartoon, reading some G.I.Joe comics, and collecting as many G.I.Joe toys as I could get my hands on. So, when I heard they were making a live-action movie back in 2009, I was first in line. Man, that was disappointing. But now, 4 years later, they made the movie I was hoping for originally. I should qualify that statement, though. I never expected a perfect movie. I mean, if you watch the original G.I.Joe cartoons you will be shocked by the cheesy and hyper-patriotic presentation. This is a cartoon that would never get the greenlight in the 21st century. So I was willing to accept some silliness, and over-the-top action from a good G.I.Joe film. However my vague recollection of that Rise of Cobra movie is that it failed to even provide an ounce of the feeling I had as a boy growing up with these characters. Retaliation, however, embraced the source material. Sure, it had some cheesy moments as well, and the action was certainly ridiculously over-the-top, but it was just so much dog-gone fun!

One of the advantages this movie had was (spoiler if you haven't seen the trailers for this film) Channing Tatum's character dies early. Not being forced to suffer through his awful acting for long was such a blessing. Dwayne Johnson is perfectly cast as the lead in a G.I.Joe film because he has the physical look of an action star, and somehow manages to deliver the typical melodramatic lines without seeming like a complete ham. Most of the other actors I wasn't familiar with beforehand, but I think they work together well. The one exception I had was with this guy RZA, who apparently is some kind of recording artist and I think he should stick with music. His role was stupid, and his performance in that role was a joke. Luckily the script injected just enough tongue-in-cheek lines that you were able to relax and laugh off most of the ridiculous stuff, because you knew they weren't taking it all too seriously. By all rights I should be railing against this film because of the silly, and completely illogical things that happen. I mean Cobra is a military organization and yet they have a team of ninjas working in security that seem to be there solely for Snake-Eyes and Jinx to have someone to fight. Yet I just went with it, because I was able to turn off my logic and just be a kid again.

The star of this film, however, is the action. I have never seen a better 3-D action movie. This should be the template for all other action films that use the 3-D technology. They had these beautiful set pieces with amazing effects. The battle on the side of the mountain that you see in all the previews is out of this world in 3-D. You can feel yourself on the mountain, and watch bodies falling past you. In fact, I wonder if I'll even want to own this film on DVD simply because the effects were so perfect in 3-D. It was a visual feast without question, and that's what a good G.I.Joe movie should be! I know I sound like I'm gushing as if this movie was some kind of Citizen Kane masterpiece, which it definitely was not. In fact the majority of people will probably hate it just like they did the first Joe movie. However, Retaliation accomplished what Rise of Cobra failed to do for me...it made me feel like a kid again. I was almost slack-jawed watching cool action scenes, and was giggling like a pre-teen with each new special effect. For people who have their inner child locked up for good, avoid this movie at all costs. For people who like to recapture their youth, I recommend you give this one a shot and definitely try 3-D if you're willing.


It was with an abundance of apprehension that I went to see this prequel to the 1939 film.  I was never a big fan of the Wizard of Oz, so going to see another film based in the same world wasn't exciting for me.  I'm also not sure how much I enjoy Sam Raimi films since my primary experience with his film-making is a trilogy of films I hated.  Yet a loving wife, and a visually stimulating preview were enough to convince me that I needed to take a chance.  The opening credit sequence was brilliant, and took full advantage of the 3-D.  For once I actually read every name on the screen, but the early scenes of the film were a letdown after that opening.  I mean, the gimmick of Kansas in black-and-white and Oz in color makes sense, but it seems in opposition to the 3-D technology.  These scenes also established all the characters into standard archetypal roles, which sadly made the remainder of the film highly predictable.  Now that doesn't mean I found the movie worthless, in fact I probably enjoyed it more than the original film, but it never rose above the standard of OK into the realm of greatness.
 
Part of the problem is the fact that lead actor, James Franco, does not impress me.  He was easy to dislike in the opening scenes (as intended,) but he never rose above that for me into being a heroic figure.  I don't know whether it was something in his appearance, or just his general swagger, but in the end I still found myself skeptical of his intentions.  Rachel Weisz was also an odd casting choice.  She never felt convincing as the evil mastermind of the film.  Although her actions were wicked, her face didn't sell the passion behind her evil deeds.  Perhaps if they had spent a little time on establishing a background motive, for why she was so bent, it would have made the character more convincing.  Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, and Joey King are fine additions and pull off the roles as the Wizard's conscience quite well.  But the real gem of the film was Mila Kunis.  Her story is by far the most interesting and surprising.  You can sympathize with her character, and feel the emotional journey she takes throughout the movie.  In fact, by the end, I think I actually empathized more with her character than any of the "heroes."
 
The 3-D effects, particularly in the land of Oz, are truly excellent.  They took full advantage of the technology in order to allow the colorful land of Oz to fully envelope you.  There were a few pointless scenes that I felt were added strictly to play around with the 3-D effect, which is a pet peeve of mine, but thankfully they weren't so excessive that the film would ramble when viewed in 2-D.  Sam Raimi did a noble job of remaining respectful to fans of the original film, while still telling a new story.  One of the confusing aspects of Oz the Great and Powerful was the odd rights issue that caused them to completely redesign the look of the Emerald City, and avoid mentioning certain iconic elements like the ruby slippers.  However the omissions didn't hinder the storytelling (they might have actually helped,) because it allowed the story to be more independent and spend less time on setting up the next film.  I actually liked the story they told, it had a good arc and an exciting climax.  I didn't walk away from the theater with any disappointment at all.  It was a perfectly nice film for children of almost any age, and looked amazing.  If only they had a little more originality and unpredictability  (plus a few better casting decisions) I think it might have been something truly remarkable.  As it stands, this movie is deserving of all the attention it has received, and I would recommend everyone at least give it a try before dismissing it.  I never expected to like it, and here I am recommending it, so that tells you something.

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d10-4 - Lockout =

This is a movie with a lone man vs. a criminal army like Die Hard, but it's in space, and it's written by the guy who did the Fifth Element. That should be a perfect storm of awesome, right? Well, not quite. The potential on this film was through the roof, I just wish it had lived up to that potential. I did enjoy some aspects of this film. It had a nice look, and a decent plot line, so I don't want it to seem like I'm doing nothing but bashing it. I think, perhaps this was just a case where I allowed my expectations to rise too high and the movie couldn't meet them. I loved the world they created. It felt very realistic having a world/culture that looked so similar to ours, but just tweaked with more technological advancements.

The best thing about the movie is Guy Pearce and his character's personality. He lends a light-hearted jocularity, even when his world was crashing down around him, which is quite fun to watch. I honestly chuckled at some of his lines, and loved how aloof he seemed despite the life-or-death situation. The rest of the cast was decent. I didn't feel a real connection with most of them since they were all fighting for screen time, and none of them seemed to get enough. Maggie Grace was also a bit disappointing in the female lead, because she just didn't convince me as someone who would be able to go toe-to-toe with Pearce's character. By the end I wasn't surprised by the romantic relationship they started, but it felt overly far-fetched.

I think this movie messed up for me because it was too short. It felt like they had a lot of big ideas, but trying to get them all to gel in such a short film was a mistake. Character development ended up taking a backseat, so it became quite difficult to get emotionally involved. The criminals weren't defined well enough, so they end up as a simple body count. Even the climax felt rushed and therefore much less exciting. Clearly the writers tried to amp up the intensity by adding a ticking clock to the situation, but since the director never reminded the audience of it later it became a wasted plot device. By and large I think this is a decent film that, given a better director or a little more polishing in the script, could have been great.

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d10-5 - Admission =

A friend once told me "If you don't laugh at the trailer for a comedy there is no way you will laugh at the film itself." This is true of course, because in this day and age movie trailers are designed to show as many of the best moments as possible to draw in suckers like me. Perhaps it would have been best for me to heed that warning before going to Admission, because the previews never made me even chuckle, and the movie suffered a similar fate. What's odd, though, is that this film felt like it wasn't even trying to be funny. They focused much more on the drama. An interesting, and entirely surprising decision for a Tina Fey project. Yet there would be a few scenes sprinkled in that were typical romantic-comedy material, which made it very confusing whether even the writers knew what kind of movie they were making.

I can't really fault the cast for making this film so forgettable. I mean they had several talented comedic actors. For instance, I didn't mind either Tina Fey or Paul Rudd in the lead roles. They had nicely contrasted personalities, and it made for a suitable opposites-attract kind of romance. But they never got genuinely funny stuff to say. I mean to cast Wallace Shawn in your film, and then never put a single humorous line in his mouth is absolutely unforgivable. The only one who seemed to find the humor in her role was Lilly Tomlin. It wasn't hard, though, because most of the humor for her character was simply the fact that she said and did things that were completely inappropriate. So, a fine cast falls short because there is just nothing for them to work with.

Now I'd be lying if I said I never laughed while watching Admission. There were some humorous moments, particularly when Tina Fey's character starts to overcompensate for giving up her child for adoption by treating a teen like an infant. She was awkward, and out of her element, and it made for a few very funny scenes. Of course then they'd follow it up with something deeply dramatic, and I would again struggle to differentiate the emotional direction this film was taking me. Admission falls prey to a problem that I've found in a number of other films in recent years...lack of focus. If the producers/writers/directors had sat down and made some decisive moves in one direction then they might have made a better film. Instead they muddied the waters by allowing it to drift back and forth between rom-com, mother-son drama, and even college recruitment video. I didn't hate the movie, but I'll certainly never watch it again.
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2. Board Game: Scene It? 007 [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:14174]
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Alberta
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I watched Skyfall (on DVD)

I'd give it

It didn't have as good of a story as Casino Royale, I thought, but there were inspired moments.

I had a big problem when broad daylight turned into the darkest night on earth all within ten minutes of arriving at Bond's family home in Scotland.
Yes, the explosions look better at night but the first wave of attacks were all well lit. Sloppy.

I liked the new Q and the new Moneypenny.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
If the latest M is going to be the ongoing one, he'll be a fine replacement for Dame Judi.

Sorry if that spoiled anything for anyone.
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3. Board Game: Loop [Average Rating:5.90 Unranked]
Board Game: Loop
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
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Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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I know I did not make it to the movie theater and I do not recall any other movies being watched outside of "Looper" released in 2012 starring Bruce Willis.

I am a big Bruce Willis fan and after a weeks of waiting for my turn in the library reservation que, I was able to check this title out last week from the town library. My in-laws were in town and they claim to like Bruce's shoot 'em up movies and they wanted to watch this Saturday night. I thought Clint Eastwood's "Trouble With the Curve" might be better for this group, but they insisted before I could explain anything.

. . . . funny story about watching the movie, not much about the movie follows until the *******'s in this posting . . . . .

I glanced around a few times at my wife and the in laws during the movie to see if we needed to pause and explain anything as this movie involves time travel and flash backs and is not the typical paint by number production that Hollywood usually puts out. Everyone was engaged which was good, or so I thought.

With about 20 minutes to go my father-in-law blurts out, "Does anyone know what the hell is going on (with this movie)?" I pause it and his wife also is slightly confused, but thinks she has it and no one wants a brief recap from me. So I say, "We've got 20 more minutes, I can explain anything at the end," and we finish it off.

The movie ends. No discussion, just comments like "I think I got it" and "That was weird" and "Who the heck writes a movie like that?". I let it go at that.

I mentioned we still had "Trouble With the Curve", but knew that would be a struggle to get into the DVD player while they were in town even though it was much more their style.

*******************

I thought the movie was excellent and if you are a science fiction fan and can handle violence, then this one is definitely worth viewing. It is probably the best movie I have seen in the past few years and the funny story above only adds to its legendary status in my mind.

I will have to check out this director's other moviews as well - something I rarely pay attention to - especially for a younger, new to Hollywood director.

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4. Board Game: The Battle of Britain [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:11796]
Board Game: The Battle of Britain
Joe Gola
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Connecticut
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Great Expectations (1946)
The famously well-regarded adaptation of the Dickens tale. The cinematography is superb, and the acting and directing are top-notch as well, but at the end of it I felt that perhaps the novel isn't really all that well-suited to the film medium; the story (originally published serially, of course) just has too much of an "and then, and then, and then…" feel to it. I'm glad I saw it, though.


Fargo (1996) (again)
I watched this as a kind of antidote to Great Expectations—as an example of a movie which draws you into its story and carries you off with it.


House by the River (1950)
An unusual thriller. Initially it seems to be about a creepy writer's attempt to hide his accidental/accidental-ish manslaughter of his young female house servant, but as the movie goes on the focus is transferred to the writer's wife and brother as they slowly realize that the writer is a psychopath. Directed by Fritz Lang.


Clash by Night (1952)
The film version of a Clifford Odets play, starring Barbara Stanwyck. The story concerns a jaded, self-centered woman who returns to her blue-collar hometown after having failed to marry into money. Two different men promptly fall in love with her, one a a kindly but none-too-bright fisherman and the other a brooding idler who shares her dissatisfaction with the world.

The movie's story is interesting and somewhat unusual for a Hollywood film, in that it deals with deep stuff happening to ordinary people, but the movie doesn't quite rise above average for a number of reasons. First of all, Odets's dialogue has not aged well; it sounds phony and pretentious, particularly as it has been removed from the stage and inserted into the more naturalistic art form of the film drama. Earthy characters pronounce their grand earthy metaphors, and all one can think is that probably no one ever really talked like that in the whole history of the world. I had imagined that the snippets of the fictitious stage play in the Coen brothers' Barton Fink was a broad parody of Odets, but they are a pretty dead-on imitation.

The movie is also somewhat miscast; the actors are all excellent, but Barbara Stanwyck seems a bit old for the part and Robert Ryan a bit too homely. You would figure that a woman who had failed to trade on her looks would call it quits in her late thirties, not at forty-five, and it doesn't quite make sense that her brother would be thirteen years younger than she, given their dialogue together. It's all a little bit distracting and it makes it hard to really believe in the relationships. Marilyn Monroe is wonderful to watch however; her role is small, as she was only just becoming famous in 1952 (thanks to the discovery of the nude photos she had posed for some years earlier), but some of her acting is quite good.

It's also not particularly interesting from the perspective of a Fritz Lang aficionado, seeing as how it was a filmed play. It also seems awfully "grown-up" for Lang, who was probably more comfortable with melodrama.


The Master (2012) TBD
A challenging, demanding film from Paul Thomas Anderson. The film's title character is a fictionalization of L. Ron Hubbard, but anyone expecting a straightforward examination of Scientology will be sorely disappointed. The main character, rather, is Freddie Quell, a psychologically damaged and alcoholic WWII veteran who is obsessed with sexual thoughts and who ingests every toxic chemical he can get his hands on. Hunched and shuffling, he is almost sub-human, like Caliban, and yet he develops a mysterious bond with Lancaster Dodd, the founder of a nascent mystical movement called "The Cause." Freddie becomes a kind of lieutenant or hanger-on of Dodd, while Dodd "processes" Freddie with intense questioning and hypnosis.

The film's story is told in an oblique way, to say the least. There are many elisions in the narrative where the viewer is left to surmise what has happened in the missing time. There is even some uncertainty as to what is real and what is not; schizophrenia runs in Freddie's family, and there are moments which would seem to be dreams or hallucinations and yet which are not specifically signaled as such.

What does the movie mean, exactly? Is it a metaphor for the two sides of man, the superego and the id, the spirit and body? Why does Dodd seem to need the presence of Quell? Is it just Freddie's chemical bartending, or is there something more? Is there a kind of link between a quack and a man who is beyond saving? Are they predator and prey, or do they share some quality? Are they both delusional, only in different ways? Is Quell beyond saving? Is it possible that the final scenes are a kind of redemption? And where does the viewer fit in? What should we be taking away from the film?

I don't have answers for any of these questions, or at least not yet. I do admire the film's gutsiness and originality, though, and its weird, impressionistic storytelling. Ultimately I think that this will be one of those works of art that people can only respond to on a very personal level.


The Blue Gardenia (1953)
More Fritz Lang—a somewhat skeevy film noir about a woman who accidentally kills a man who attempts to date-rape her; she is consumed with guilt but tries to evade the police nonetheless; meanwhile an opportunistic reporter attempts to capitalize on the story.

The plot isn't terribly novel or interesting, but there was one element which I thought was unusual for its time, namely its frank treatment of the subject of date rape. In contrast to the usual 1950s Hollywood's "naughty boy" attitude towards womanizing, Raymond Burr's character—the "wolf"—is shown to be methodical and calculating, and his attack is preceded by the type of build-up of suspense that is usually only seen with an impending murder. There is never any doubt that he is anything but a predator, nor any doubt that what takes place is a criminal act and not just something unfortunate that happens when people get too horny.

There's a weird disconnect, though (or a purposeful irony?), because the nice-guy love interest is a womanizer too. Had he been in some other movie we might have chuckled about his skirt-chasing, but in The Blue Gardenia we have to ask if he isn't just as big a creep as the rapist. What stuck me in particular was that he has a little black book of women's names and numbers, and at the end, when he has officially fallen in love with the heroine, he tosses the book to his friend, as if the women listed therein have no choice in the matter and will gladly go out with whomever happens to call them on the telephone. In fact, the movie starts with one of the heroine's roommates giving him her number and he promptly offers it to the serial rapist as if it were a pack of chewing gum he didn't want. Bizarre.

Or was the idea that they were the numbers of prostitutes? Maybe I'm overthinking this. I'm just fascinated by this strange world where single women's phone numbers are passed around like baseball cards.


Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
A movie that was miscast up and down and left and right, but the story was fairly good so I enjoyed myself well enough. Neither James Franco nor Rachel Weisz seemed to be in their element playing larger-than-life characters, and while Mila Kunis had her moments, the story would have been better served by an actress who was less adorably pretty and more angular and physical; it took me a while to adjust to the fact that she wasn't going to be the love interest.

I would even go so far as to say that there were moments when none of the non-CGI characters looked like they were quite sure of what they were doing, but the story, effects, pacing and direction kept everything moving forward, so it was a decent enough ride. Of course, you'll have to take my opinion with a grain of salt; I was pretty much just escorting the family, and so I only wanted it to not be boring or actively irritating. Had it been my own time and money I might have reacted differently.


The Small Back Room (1949) (again)
An odd little movie, but a good one. The story takes place in London during the latter part of World War II, and it centers around Sammy Rice, a weapons expert who works for a small independent scientific outfit consulted by the military and the British government. He is a good man but he is in crisis, both professionally and privately; the heavy hand of politics is beginning to be felt at work, and in his personal life he struggles with disability, alcohol, and physical pain. His girlfriend Sue loves him from the bottom of her heart, but his self-pity threatens to drive her away.

Now, that all sounds like grim, heavy stuff, but such is the skill of the writer/director team Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger that the film is instead interesting, sly, witty, and all-around a good watch. We are given a look into an unusual world, a kind of home-front no-man's land where power is shifting and war is becoming business. David Farrar as Sammy has just the right blend of angst and likability; we care about what happens to him even when he's at his worst. It also features a nerve-wracking and suspenseful climax.

It's not the sort of film that I would say that everyone should run out and see, but if you happen to catch it on you could do a lot worse.
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5. Board Game: Pandemic: On the Brink [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
Board Game: Pandemic: On the Brink
Wendell
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Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Two movies in March.

One was 12 Monkeys, that dystopic time-travel thriller. I'd seen it before but not in a long time so gave it another watch. Great again, I think Terry Gilliam's second best movie, right behind Brazil. Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis were very good in this. This sort of movie scares me much more than slasher or zombie flicks.

The other was Office Killer, a dark little film about a nerdie editor at a magazine (played well by Carol Kane) killing several of her office mates. It was OK. Only watched it because famous self-absorbed photographer Cindy Sherman wrote and directed it, so my photographer wife wanted to see it. A few plot holes bugged me. I am easily bugged by plot holes.
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6. Board Game: How to Host a Murder: The Good, The Bad & The Guilty [Average Rating:6.81 Unranked]
Board Game: How to Host a Murder: The Good, The Bad & The Guilty
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Murder Joint Enterprise - TV

A surprisingly engaging low budget British film mainly told through flashbacks telling the story of how a girl is murdered and how her sister and the 'one night stand' fellow are put on trial for it even though they are not acing together.

Neither character is particiularly sympathetic as the viewer gets to know more about them through the course of the film.

It gets more and more interesting as the film progresses from initial arrest to trial to verdict and sentencing.

Worth a look.


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7. Board Game: The Hobbit [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:4222]
Board Game: The Hobbit
Reinis Butans
Latvia
Riga
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Title
The Game
The Stepfather
Basic Instinct
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Into the Wild
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D
Silver Linings Playbook
Bernie
Year
1997
1987
1992
2012
2007
2012
2012
2011
My Rating
5
6
5
8
7
6
6
7
IMDB Rating
7.7
6.7
6.9
8.2
8.2
5.1
8.0
6.8
It appears my ratings somewhat differ from an average person - they are mostly lower. I don't really feel like explaining why I did not enjoyed some of the work as much as other viewers, but there is one that is underrated according to my account = Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. It was exactly what I expected it to be.
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8. Board Game: Heroscape: Arrival of the Master [Average Rating:7.48 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.48 Unranked]
Board Game: Heroscape: Arrival of the Master
Patar Absurdus
United States
Carrollton
TX
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"Gird Up Your Loins, Like a Man!" ~God to Job
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"We're put on this earth to do a job. And each of us gets the time we get to do it. And when this life is over and you stand in front of the Lord... Well, you try tellin' him it was all some Frenchman's joke." ~Betsy Solverson
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The Arrival

This looked really cool. Aliens, linguistics, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner are all good signs. My wife and our friend had seen it in the theatre while me and my buddy watched the kids. They came back very impressed.

I saw it via rental a while back and found it to be a very frustrating experience. To get into the details will require spoilers.
The non spoiler version of my complaints are twofold:
1. it started in what I thought was an unnecessarily depressing manner
2. Lately character motivation has become really important to me. If characters do something I want to really buy into the decision and the reasons behind it. Particularly if I think the decision is stupid. If I feel like I am being written to by the storytellers then I get very frustrated. This felt like that to me.
3. The military characters felt like hollow tools for the story instead of people with depth. They were there to voice decent and be bureaucratic walls.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The underpinning of the movie ended up being Adam's decision to not change anything about the future in spite of knowing that the future would be tragic. She could have told her soon to be husband what she knew pre pregnancy or never told him a thing but she does the exact same things that her visions had already informed her of. That was silly and unsatisfying to me and if they wanted to go that way with the story then I needed some more information on her thought process.

I am sick of stories in which someone knows the tragic future and they decide to do nothing to change it.

It would have been nice to get more info on why those military fellows decided to attack the aliens. An ex-marine friend was left feeling like the movie was a bit antimilitary. I didn't agree but more information on that would have been helpful for the story to make sense.


The middle part had some really interesting sci fi, philosophical, and linguistic elements. Those cool elements shouldn't be downplayed because some of them were very impactful and fairly unique but they didn't make up for my frustration with other story decisions.


edit: wrong list!
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