Spitball Army

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Screenings: Lemon (2017)

December 16th, 2017 · No Comments

2.1
[DVD, Netflix]

It’s theatrically stiff like a Laurie Anderson monologue, unsympathetic, laden with artifice, and unfunny. I guess I don’t understand how or why some films get made.

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Screenings: Frontline – Divided States of America (2017)

December 10th, 2017 · No Comments

8.0
[DVD, library]

Nearly four hours of gut-wrenching historical recap, delineating a theory that attempts to explain America’s turn toward Trump and the populace’s abandonment of loyalty to establishment politics. Good journalism: it is clear from the outset that Obama can be viewed as the catalyst for the movement (or not) and that Sarah Palin, after her pick to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008, was the first manifestation of the new regime (or not). The talking heads who provide commentary are generally first-person witnesses to the activities described therein. Trump is NOT lionized in this production, although he is also not condemned. Re-living it all made me queasy and ill.

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Screenings: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

December 7th, 2017 · No Comments

7.8
[blu-ray, Redbox]

That kinda hilarious moment when Woody Harrelson’s Colonel goes dual-reference: shaving his bald head a la Brando’s Kurtz while surveying his domain from a balcony just like Kommandant Amon Goeth in SCHINDLER’S LIST. And shortly thereafter: a shot of the phrase APE-OCALYPSE NOW scrawled on a subterranean wall.

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Screenings: Beach Rats (2017)

December 6th, 2017 · No Comments

8.1
[blu-ray, Netflix]

This seems cut from the same idea-cloth as MOONLIGHT, communicating the same painful yearning and offering no pat resolution aside from providing a glimmer of optimism for the main character’s future. Most of the action in the film takes place at night, and the director has accentuated the uncertainty gnawing at the core of the main character’s psyche by frequently portraying scenes as disappearing into or being engulfed by darkness. Then there’s the terrific acting job by Harris Dickinson as Frankie, leading a very fine ensemble of supporting characters who create a very realistic, documentary-style world around him.

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Screenings: The Exception (2016)

December 6th, 2017 · No Comments

5.0
[blu-ray, Netflix]

So, this makes the second A24 film I’m aware of where Christopher Plummer plays a Nazi-era German. He’s great as Kaiser Wilhelm, but he’s rarely less than great. The Nazi mole-hunt plot gets diluted by the romantic hi-jinx between the beautiful Lily James and the equally beautiful Jai Courtney (who unhesitatingly goes full frontal). Why not just focus more on the Nazi captain + Jewish maid romance, and give everyone what they really want to see?

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Screenings: The Corn Is Green (1979)

December 5th, 2017 · No Comments

5.5
[DVD, library]

Stagey, late-period Hepburn.

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Screenings: Six and a Half (2008)

December 4th, 2017 · No Comments

5.5
[blu-ray, Netflix]

Pretty good for a student film, if that is what this is. Best approached with extreme empathy for the mindset of a young girl beginning to develop her reasoning skills by trial & error.

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Screenings: The Bad Batch (2016)

December 4th, 2017 · No Comments

6.5
[blu-ray, Netflix]

This is one crazy, dark, fucked-up dystopian trip – kind of like Mad Max in Texas with golf carts. And with cannibals, and with a cult led by Keanu Reeves calling himself The Dream (his concubines wear t-shirts proclaiming “The Dream Is Inside Me,” so, yeah, the film has a sense of humor, too). There’s not much of a script, but the production design is solid, including Jim Carrey nearly unrecognizable as a shopping-cart homeless guy in a land where there doesn’t seem to be a home for anyone. You will likely need subtitles (I did) to know what Jason Momoa is saying half the time.

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Screenings: The Paleface (1922)

November 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

6.6
[DVD]

Totally non-PC by today’s overzealous standards, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from cracking up at title cards with quips such as “A rival tribe of savages who went broke playing strip poker.”

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Screenings: The Scarecrow (1920)

November 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

7.8
[DVD]

Non-stop hilarious gags. That dinner table ballet was tops, but I laughed for the duration. Add some crazy intertitles (“She was a member of the dancers’ union and couldn’t stop until the whistle blew.”), a lug nut wedding ring, and a dog that climbs both up AND down a ladder, and you have a Keaton gem.

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