Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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We watched In a Lonely Place a couple of years ago. It's a well-constructed mystery-thriller and Bogart is at the top of his game.

The Nice Guys (2016)

I've been a fan of Shane Black going back to his writing on the first Lethal Weapon film. And his neo-noir Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is a total classic in my view.  The Nice Guys tries to repeat the black comedy, buddy picture feel of Kiss Kiss in a retro groovy, 1970s setting.  It doesn't quite capture the same magic as Kiss Kiss but it's not half bad.  I would start with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang if you haven't seen that though. 

I loved The Nice Guys! Great flick. I thought it was one of the most underrated movies of 2016. It was just pure fun. I will have to watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang now.

Detective 445 said:

The Nice Guys (2016)

I've been a fan of Shane Black going back to his writing on the first Lethal Weapon film. And his neo-noir Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is a total classic in my view.  The Nice Guys tries to repeat the black comedy, buddy picture feel of Kiss Kiss in a retro groovy, 1970s setting.  It doesn't quite capture the same magic as Kiss Kiss but it's not half bad.  I would start with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang if you haven't seen that though. 

I just added Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang to my Netflix DVD list and moved it and my previously listed The Nice Guys close to the top of my selection list, based on your comments. When I see them both I'll weigh in.

I love both of those movies. So much fun!



Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

I loved The Nice Guys! Great flick. I thought it was one of the most underrated movies of 2016. It was just pure fun. I will have to watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang now.



Richard Willis said:

I just added Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang to my Netflix DVD list and moved it and my previously listed The Nice Guys close to the top of my selection list, based on your comments. When I see them both I'll weigh in.



Hope you guys enjoy it!

Just watched John Sayles's Honeydripper, about a blues bar in 1950s Alabama, a real treat. There's a Danny Glover monologue in the middle of it, where he speculates about the first black man to play a piano, that's just a knockout performance. Terrific movie. There are no bit parts in Sayles pictures.

We bought the DVD directly from Sayles a few years ago; he came to our town to screen Amigo, a story about the war in the Phillipines, at a local independent theater. He's one of my favorite filmmakers, and it was a pleasure to hear him speak about making movies.

(Come to think of it, I saw him years before, too, at a Philly screening of The Brother from Another Planet.)

On the recommendation of the former youngster in the house, we watched Catch Me If You Can, the "inspired by a true story" of Frank Abagnale, a teenage conman who ran away from home after his parents split up.

Abagnale made his living by impersonating a Pan Am pilot and making, forging, and cashing Pan Am paychecks. He went on to impersonate a hospital administrator and an assistant district attorney in New Orleans. Throughout the story, he is trailed by FBI agent Carl Hanratty.

This was lighthearted fun. Abagnale, played by Leonardo diCaprio, has the gift of gab and uses it adroitly. Tom Hanks is the FBI agent, and there's an odd father-son dynamic that develops between them over the years, as it becomes a regular habit for them to have a conversation on Christmas Eve. 

By story's end, after he gets busted for fraud, he becomes a consultant to the FBI, helping them on other fraud cases, like the guy in the TV show White Collar. He also launches a consulting firm, showing banks how to spot bad checks.

Steven Spielberg directed, so there are a fair amount of Spielbergisms in the story. One is how Abagnale is always seeking the approval of his dad, played by Christopher Walken, who is under a cloud with the IRS for unspecified reasons. An early scene has Dad pull off a low-rent scam -- borrowing a car from a dealership and a black suit from a tailor, just so the boy could pretend to be his driver as Abagnale Sr. applied for bank loans. This is clearly meant to indicate Dad inspired the boy in his life of crime. Also, in real life, Abagnale never saw his dad again after he ran away from home. 

Late to the party. When I read that the Captain watched It Follows, I dug up my review from a couple years back. It follows:

A woman runs in fear. She calls home and leaves a distressed message.

We see her the next morning, horribly murdered.

Another young woman, Jay, goes on a date with a handsome, slightly older man. They later have sex in a car near some picturesque ruins. Then he chloroforms her, ties her to a chair, and points out a figure stalking her, slowly, nearby. It moves slowly. It will follow her. She can move herself further down its victim list, however, if she has sex with someone else.

It follows. It will kill the most recent victim first before working its way, at a slow and casual rate, down its list. Her friends get drawn in as she tries to convince them she is sane, and that they must somehow save her life.

The premise is more than a little ridiculous. What follows is not. The most talked about horror movie of 2015  may not be perfect, but it's more than a little disturbing, and worth watching.

Rarely has a horror movie been filmed so exquisitely. The tale of young people being stalked by evil features many perfectly-framed, widescreen shots, of vintage suburban streets and contemporary urban blight, all filmed in and around Detroit, Michigan. The camera pans around its eerily-lit locations. It's a slasher movie for the art-house crowd.

It Follows makes the genre fresh and disturbing, in part, by recontextualizing its worn conventions. We get the endangered blonde, the sexually-active victims, the slow-moving killer, the stalker's point-of-view shots, the comparatively absent parents, the flight to an isolated location, and the stark soundtrack. However, the movie twists these to its own ends. The actors are too old to be teens—but, in fact, most play post-high-school young adults. Their flight to a desolate location where, one would imagine, they'd be more likely to die, actually makes sense in context of the plot. The targeting of, specifically, sexually active young people forms part of the film's metaphor, which remains open to interpretation and discussion. One earns the attention of the entity by sleeping with the previous victim.1 Does this odd rule make the demon a stand-in for STDs? The fear of intimate relationships, so common in our wired world? General fear of age and creeping death? A general unease about what's out there?

In order to make this truly odd premise work, writer and director David Robert Mitchell (who claims the story developed from a recurring nightmare) creates an artificial world in which the story makes a kind of nightmarish sense. One character uses an e-reader, though one of a design unique to the movie.2 Otherwise, we see no evidence of the internet, or cell phones, or even home computers. The costumes, cars, props, and sets generally reflect the 70s and 80s, though aspects of earlier and later decades may be found. Televisions are old-fashioned boxes with antennae and principally broadcast black and white B-movies. Against this recognizable but slightly surreal backdrop-- a sort of redacted late twentieth century-- the fears unfold at a slow but certain pace. It Follows does not eschew jump scares, but it relies more on creating a sense of creeping dread that gradually affects the viewer's brain.

While the approach works, the dreamlike ambiance does not excuse everything. The story grows increasingly wonky in the second half. The eleventh-hour attempt to kill the creature seems designed to both fail and backfire. The characters have already seen that it does not succumb to certain methods that would be deadly to humans, and their trap gives it additional weapons.

Nevertheless, the strong, natural cast, led by the talented Maike Monroe, and the effective directing make for a memorable horror, and the most original mad stalker/slasher movie since A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell

Maika Monroe as Jaime "Jay" Height
Keir Gilchrist as Paul
Lili Sepe as Kelly Height
Olivia Luccardi as Yara
Daniel Zovatto as Greg Hannigan
Jake Weary as Jeff Redmond / Hugh
Debbie Williams as Mrs. Height
Ele Bardha as Mr. Height
Bailey Spry as Annie
Ruby Harris as Mrs. Redmond
Leisa Pulido as Mrs. Hannigan
Ingrid Mortimer, Alexyss Spradlin, Mike Lanier, Don Hails, and Erin Stone as It

Notes

1. The demon's behavior also makes me wonder what would happen if a new victim slept with a previous victim. The film ignores this question.

2. It is built from a 1950s make-up compact, in fact.



Captain Comics said:

Watched "It Follows" and enjoyed it. My wife thought it was stupid.

My guess about sleeping with a previous victim is that the previous victim would simply contract "It" anew. If two people, like Jay and Paul, kept sleeping with each other, I assume it would simply switch back and forth.

I thought about that as early as the boat scene, when it's implied that Jay has sex with one or more of the boys, temporarily shedding herself of the problem. (Until the now-ignorant victim is quickly dispatched.) Who got "it"? The first one she slept with, of course.

And so it would go with a previous victim. Whoever has "it" gives it to the next person, even if the next person has had it before. Why would the rules change?

I did wonder about what would happen if you simply went to sea in a boat. Presumably "it" could just walk on the sea floor to where you are, and possibly swim to the surface, but how would it get on the boat?

I don't worry about it too hard, though. As "Hugh" said, "it's not stupid." It would figure a way to get on the boat eventually, possibly by waiting at whatever pier you went to for supplies, and then where would you go? Still, it's worth thought.

Yesterday (the first two hours)and today (the rest) we watched the film version of the Batman serial (1943). I had never seen it before because I was convinced it was bad. I was pleasantly surprised that it had a lot going for it. It was fun to guess where the chapter endings were, usually involving Batman's apparent death.

The only thing that bothered me was the voice-over that said what a "wise decision" it was to intern the Japanese and the attendant disparaging remarks. It seemed to have been filmed in California and there were references to "going to the desert" which you can't do on the Eastern Seaboard. Because of this, I have a feeling that the vacated Japanese businesses shown were the real thing.

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