What was the last movie you saw?

Victoria Silverwolf

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The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1964)

Low budget director Larry Buchanan gives us another courtroom drama, this one imagining what might have happened if Oswald had not been killed by Jack Ruby. The actor playing Oswald never speaks, and is only shown a few times as a closeup of his eyes. His lawyer pleads Not Guilty by reason of insanity. The vast majority of the film is a dry-as-dust questioning of a large number of witnesses. It all seems very accurate, mainly because it's so unexciting. Every once in a while we get some footage of the street where JFK was killed, with gunshots on the soundtrack. At one point we hear the real voice of Oswald on a tape recorder, giving a radio interview about his work for the Fair Play For Cuba Committee. We never see the jury, because YOU are the jury, and the verdict is up to you. Of historical interest, but conspiracy buffs might be disappointed by the fact that nobody seems to doubt that Oswald acted alone.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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High Yellow (1965)

After two sedate courtroom dramas from Larry Buchanan, this wild melodrama from the same director of cheap movies comes as something as a relief. A teenage girl, the daughter of a black mother and a white father, arrives at the mansion of a Hollywood mogul to work as a maid. We quickly find out that this is a very dysfunctional family indeed. Dad is a phony, who faked his wartime footage; Mom is a neurotic, who lies in bed a lot, from some kind of hypochondria, and talks about sex when the local pastor comes around; Daughter is a high school dropout, out for kicks; and Son just got kicked out of a military academy, under suspicion of being a "queer boy." The chauffeur is a decent enough chap, although he admits to wanting to steal the family silver so he can go into the car repair business. The gardener/handyman is a total psycho, only working there because he served in the war with Dad (and was somehow responsible for the death of a few soldiers) who demonstrates what he'd like to do to Daughter by snapping a rabbit's neck! (Off screen, thank goodness.)

The plot gets going when Daughter takes our High Yellow protagonist to a disco, because she can easily pass for white. We get to listen to a couple of rock 'n' roll songs and witness go-go dancers. Daughter's drink was drugged. She passes out at home, and gets her neck broken. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out whodunit. The cops have our heroine dress up as Daughter and meet with the psycho, so he'll freak out and confess. Since this isn't enough plot, we also find out that Son was only accused of being a "queer boy" because his buddies at the military academy took him to an off-limits strip club, where the authorities found him just as he found out that the stripper he was with was a man! He proves his true manliness by engaging in a forbidden romance with our "colored" protagonist.

The whole thing mixes issues of race, social class, the generation gap, and sexual orientation, without forgetting that it's a low budget drive-in exploitation flick.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Hell Raiders (1968)

This is more like the Larry Buchanan I know. Take an old, cheap, lousy movie, and make an unofficial remake of it, but cheaper and lousier. In all other cases this was a horror/monster/science fiction flick. (For example, transforming It Conquered the World into Zontar, the Thing from Venus.) This time, it's the war movie Suicide Battalion.

We begin with a lot of stock footage and a narrator telling us about World War Two. Then we meet a tiny group of American soldiers in a forest supposedly in Italy. One, a young kid, gets killed almost immediately by a nearby German soldier. A little later the survivors get a mission; retake a building that was captured by the Germans, because it's got some important papers in it. We then kill a lot of time with the GI's on leave in an Italian town. A couple of women show up, one an American photographer and one an Italian, so we can have some romance. Throw in some lame comedy, as the madam of a brothel teaches her workers to speak both English and German. The actual mission doesn't start until nearly an hour into the film, and then it's pretty much just a few guys on each side pretending to shoot each other. In between we get more stock footage and narration. The battle scenes resemble adults acting like little kids playing war.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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A Bullet for Pretty Boy (1970)

Larry Buchanan gets the largest budget in his career -- i.e., about the same as a typical low budget B movie -- in this highly fictionalized version of the criminal career of "Pretty Boy" Floyd. Teen idol Fabian has the lead role. We start with his wedding. A couple of uninvited guys show up at the party afterwards, one makes some smutty remarks about the bride, Floyd beats him up. The guy tries to get revenge by shooting Floyd, but misses and kills Floyd's father. Floyd fights the guy, killing him with an ax. He gets sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter but escapes after four years. He winds up sheltered in a brothel, where he gets a girlfriend and learns bank robbery from a couple of crooks. The rest of the film is full of shootouts, car chases, and so on. Lots of soft rock/country pop songs on the soundtrack, which is about as anachronistic as the long hair on most of the male performers. Cars, sets, and costumes aren't bad, although Floyd's prostitute girlfriend looks more like a disco queen. Overall, a fair-to-middling example of its kind.
 

Vince W

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The Walk. As with all true story films take this one with a pinch of salt. The story of Phillipe Petit's outlandish highwire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York in 1974.

I didn't know all that much about the event since it happened when I was very young but this film manages to make all the work leading up to the event quite entertaining. It plays much like a grand caper film where all the players come together and the story is in the planning, not in the execution, although that was a work in itself as well. The narration of Gordon-Levitt as Petit throughout the film could have been reduced or dropped IMO. I would rather the film kept its focus on the story without the constant interruption. It would also have made the film 30 minutes shorter without taking much away from the story.

The walk itself was almost anti-climatic after everything leading up to it. Seeing it at home the heights were pretty dizzying on my 4K screen. In the cinema, I might have felt vertigo at the views to the ground. A decent enough way to pass a couple of hours.
 

BAYLOR

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Monty Python and the Holly Grail This film never get old for alot hilariously funny reasons.:LOL:
 

HanaBi

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"Bullitt" (1968)

A regular favourite of mine, and still holds water despite being over 50 years old. Of course it will be remembered for one of the greatest cinematic car chases of all time, but the film oozes a laid-back feel which suits not only the San Francisco location, but also the sign of the times back then. And Lalo Schifrin 's brooding score just adds to the flavour.
 

Randy M.

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Fiddler on the Roof (1971) dir. Norman Jewison; starring Topol, Norma Crane

Still one of my favorite musicals. Engaging, sly performance by Topol as Tevye and an equally smart performance by Crane as his wife. Tradition takes a beating as times change, his daughters take a measure of control over their lives, and he grudgingly supports them because he loves them. Wonderful score and smart direction.


Targets (1968) dir. Peter Bogdonovich; starring Boris Karloff, Tim O'Kelly, Bogdonovich,

Long time horror movie star Byron Orlok decides to retire after his last contracted movie, The Terror, a very bad Gothic drama which convinces him he no longer has the desire to act or the ability to do so well and since Victorian mansions and the like are no longer scary but camp, in the age of random shootings (movie inspired by University of Texas tower sniper, and the easy access to guns in the U.S.). To help his friends Jenny and Sam, he agrees to one last personal appearance at a drive-in showing of The Terror. A parallel story line follows a seemingly normal young man as he unravels, culminating in sniper attacks at a highway and then at the drive-in.

One of Karloff's last movies, and one of his best performances. Bogdonovich was working for Roger Corman who told him to cobble together something for Karloff since there were still two days left on his contract after filming finished on -- you guessed it -- The Terror (notable for truly being bad while pairing Karloff with a very young, stiff Jack Nicholson).


While You Were Sleeping (1995) dir. Jon Turtletraub; starring Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, and a raft of good character actors

Made a couple of years after Sleepless in Seattle, so one of the rash of rom coms that came in the wake of that big box office movie. I've always preferred this charming, low-key rom com with Bullock and Pullman striving to out underact each other. Hadn't really thought about it until watching Pullman's turn in The Sinner series, but he's a method actor, and in spite of that he can be charming and as sharp comedically as he is dramatically. (Not sure the hectic Spaceballs really proved much in that regard, fun as it is.)


Shrek (2001) dir. Adam Adamson, Vicky Jenson; starring the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy

Still anarchic fun, and a good way to wile away a lazy, cloudy Sunday afternoon.


True Grit (2010) dir. Joel Coen; starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailed Steinfeld

Had not seen this before. Covers the same story as the John Wayne/Henry Hathaway version, and like that seems steeped in sepia tones (at least that's my memory of the earlier movie) but less inclined to the broader humor of Wayne/Hathaway with an exception or two. Benefits from the presence of a stronger actor in the role of LeBoeuf; Damon is equal to standing up to Bridges, unlike Glen Campbell who was pleasant but not really believable. Hailee Steinfeld is phenomenal as Mattie. At the same age as Mattie, 14, she more than matches up Bridges, Damon, Barry Pepper and Josh Brolin. I knew she was good from other things I've seen her in, but I didn't realize just how good she was starting out.


Randy M.
 

J Riff

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and now, a rare 'Pre-watching' review... of the new 'Minuscule' movie... it's gonna be great... no dialogue... nice music -- funny bits... gonna really enjoy it... u probably will too. :)
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Malibu High (1979)

The title suggests a lighthearted teen sex comedy, right? Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is one dark and twisted little movie. Our main character, played by an actress who never appeared in anything else, is a bitter, angry high school student. Her father killed himself a couple of years ago, her boyfriend dumped her for a rich girl, and she's flunking out. The solution to her scholastic problem is to seduce her teachers and blackmail them into giving her good grades. At the same time, she becomes a prostitute, working out of a van. She accepts an offer to earn more money in the same profession. When a client gets rough, she kills him with an ice pick. It turns out she enjoys the sensation, and her employee promotes her to professional assassin. More killings follow, both as part of her job and ones she performs for her own reasons. In most ways, this is a terrible movie, poorly acted, and with a truly awful soundtrack. (Many scenes end with a descending electronic tone that sounds like something out of an old video game.) However, there's a certain fascination to the deranged plot, and the main character's nearly constant foul mood adds a certain sleazy intensity.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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High School Hellcats (1958)

Good Girl arrives at a new school. The leader of the Bad Girls tells her that all the girls are going to wear slacks the next day, even though that's against the dress code. Of course, Good Girl is the only one to do it. Despite falling victim to this prank, she chooses to join the gang of Bad Girls, even going so far as to shoplift as an initiation. She wants to fit in because her mother goes off to play bridge, leaving her a note to make herself a sandwich, and her father slaps her across the face for walking around the house in a slip. At a party with plenty of rock 'n roll, drinking, and making out, the leader of the Bad Girls falls down a flight of stairs and is killed. Her second-in-command, our film's switchblade-wielding Psycho, swears to find out who pushed her. Of course, you've already figured out what really happened, leading to the final showdown between Good Girl and Psycho. It's an efficiently made little B picture, with some decent, if inherently melodramatic acting. Notable for how little a role the male characters play. At first, I honestly thought this was taking place at a girls' school.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Teenage Doll (1957)

Roger Corman flick jumps right into the middle of things, with the discovery of the dead body of a member of a female youth gang, the Black Widows. (They appear to be the female auxiliary of the Tarantulas gang.) They know that the victim met with the movie's Good Girl, and figure she killed her. Their plan for revenge is to get their hands on cash or other valuables and then pay the hood, leader of the Vandals gang, whom the Good Girl thinks is her boyfriend, but who would sell her out for a price. This leads to scenes of the squalid lives of the gang members. One lives with a baby sister, who's sitting on the floor of their dump, surrounded by garbage. One lives with an older sister, who's dating her boss in an attempt to make something of herself. One has a father who's got a series of young girls to smooch on. One steals money from the cash register of her family's little store, one steals her father's gun, and so on. Meanwhile, the Good Girl tuns through the streets in a panic, with blood on her dress. Lots of creepy and eccentric characters show up. The whole thing leads up to a rumble between rival gangs. The Bad Girls in this one are as tough as nails, doing as much serious fighting as the boys. Overall, a pretty grim little B picture.
 

HanaBi

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"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (2011)

Spy games twixt the USSR and the UK back in the days of the Cold War.

I haven't read the book by John Le Carre, but certainly enjoyed the BBC TV version back in the late 70s with Alec Guiness and Michael Jayston. However, this film version seemed rather lacking even though the period charm and the acting abilities from Gary Oldman. Colin Firth and John Hurt were a joy.

I suppose if you haven't read the book or watched the TV version, then you may find this a pleasant surprise. But for me it felt uneven and muddled. It was if the director wanted to cram the 7 hours of the rivetting TV version into a mere 2 hours for cinema, and failed.

3/5
 

Vaz

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Avengers: Endgame

maamged to avoid all spoilers before watching as I don't really use social media. Had fun and enjoyed it. Absolutely loved the fact that Cap was worthy too!
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Mark of the Witch (1970)

Starts off in the old days, with a witch placing a curse on the folks who are executing her. We've seen this a million times, so let me just point out that the witch does the most extreme overacting I've ever seen, complete with eyes and mouth wide open. Cut to nowadays (well, 1969 anyway) as a woman sings an odd a cappela chant, written by the lead actress in this thing, over the titles. She's a college co-ed who finds an old book of spells and takes it to one of the informal seminars about various kinds of spooky stuff held by a professor. Hey, guess what? Professor looks exactly like the guy who was part of the witch's coven, and who betrayed her. The students cast a spell from the book to attract witches. It's a darn easy spell, too. You just need some candles, wine, and rosemary. This results in the co-ed being possessed by the witch. (Oddly, the co-ed is not played by the same actress who played the witch.) She kills the professor's dog with magic, then makes him teach her about the modern world, explaining such strange things as telephones and coffee. (At this point the movie is like an odd, non-comedic version of Bewitched.) After zapping the professor's pet bird as another demonstration of her power, she goes off in the woods and chants some mumbo-jumbo. She goes on to drug a couple of students to control their wills, makes them pledge their bodies and souls to Satan, then kills them. At the end, the professor and the co-ed's boyfriend set up a timer to project a cross of light on her, just when she's performing some kind of ritual. This frees the co-ed, brings the actress playing the witch back, and leads up to the Shocking Twist Ending. It's a cheap little film, notable mainly for performance of the lead actress. While not exactly a good one, she does manage to change from sweet and innocent young thing to evil temptress in a reasonably convincing manner. Lots of bright colors, and the students look both extremely clean cut and 1960's groovy at the same time.

Warlock Moon (1973)

Begins with a woman walking around some spooky place with a candle, talking to somebody we don't see. Guy with an ax jumps out and we cut to the titles. Next we're at a college lecture, where the instructor informs us that incest is the most common form of deviancy (?), followed by a promise to talk about cannibalism next time. Foreshadowing! Our co-ed heroine is approached by a guy wearing a trench coat and a Groucho mask, who speaks in a fake French accent about some nonsensical spy stuff. Instead of telling him to buzz off, she puts up with this nonsense, and agrees to go on an outing with him. Mind you, they just met. That's how you pick up girls, guys! They find an abandoned spa/sanatorium place, wander around, meet the old woman who lives there. Guy convinces her to come back a couple of days later, but they have to show up in separate cars. This turns out to be a minor plot point at the very end, and also makes the viewer wonder why she has to plead with the guy to leave when she could just drive away at any time. A couple of creepy guys attack her, and the old woman and the guy try to convince her it was just her imagination. She foolishly agrees to stay the night, we find out the guy is in on the plot with the old woman, there's the ghost of a bride (played by the same actress as the co-ed), some kind of blood ritual at midnight, a store room full of body parts, etc. Our heroine escapes, gets busted by the cops when they find (or plant) marijuana in her car -- I told you it was a plot point -- leading up to our (pretty lame) Shocking Twist Ending. It's a pretty lousy movie. Notable for a scene in an empty swimming pool where the guy acts out an extended parody of a horror movie, playing both the monster and the creator of the monster, who rescues the co-ed but turns out to be a monster himself. Foreshadowing!
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Racial Confusion Double Feature:

I Passed for White (1960)

Light-skinned African-American woman (her grandmother was married to a white man) changes her name, moves away from home, gets a job that would have been denied to her if she weren't "passing," marries a rich white man, has to hide her family from her in-laws, gets pregnant, worries if the baby will be dark, things go very badly. I'd be surprised if the actress playing the lead role really was of mixed race, but I can't prove it one way or another. (She had a very minor career, often playing Native Americans, so who knows.) With sixty years of hindsight, we can say that all the fuss over the woman's ancestry is ludicrous, but I'm sure it presents a real problem of the time. The film's attitude to the situation is that it has to end in tragedy.

Black Like Me (1964)

Film version of the true story of the writer who used drugs and ultraviolet light to darken his skin, so he could live as an African-American in the segregated South. In the lead role is James Whitmore, whose transformed appearance isn't at all convincing, but he does the best he can. The movie's structure consists of his experiences with several people, white and black, while undercover, with flashbacks to the procedure he underwent, and its effect on his marriage. It has the racism you'd expect, from casual to overtly violent. What's a little more surprising is the film's sexual content, from a white man asking a black man where he can get a black woman, to a white man obsessively asking Whitmore, in disguise, if he's ever "had" a white woman, to a Northern sociologist who gets way too personal when asking about Whitmore's sex life. (It's strongly implied that the fellow is making a pass at him, so Whitmore punches him in the face, with the guy claiming he's not "queer." Maybe it's time for Gay Like Me.)
 

Parson

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Racial Confusion Double Feature:

I Passed for White (1960)


Black Like Me (1964)
I remember when "Black Like Me" came out, and to say the least it was very cutting edge in a social sense at the time. I hadn't known of "I Passed for White" but with a date of 1960 meaning its roots had to be in the mid to late 50's, this would also have been socially near unthinkable. Remember that there were still several states with laws against interracial marriage in 1960. The last one came off the books in 1967.
 

J Riff

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I remember it too, read it with great interest in the 60s.

Minuscule 2 - Mandibles from Far Away - Charming stuff, our Ladybugs go to Guadalupe.. there's a rescue mission, a spider who sails an old ship ... mantises, foreign ladybugs...a shark, crabs.. and humans, who don't get to say a word.. lovely music, and - near the end, a human project, a big resort hotel that needs to be shut down, so our bug-buddies manage that... and it's a 'plague' that does it... so... prognosticative? I guess so in a small, minuscule way...
 

KGeo777

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COLOSSUS THE FORBIN PROJECT (1970) If the film had merely been content to do a version of Frankenstein with a machine it would be worthy of note, but what makes it such a compelling story is that Forbin is not just a creator who discovers his creation has gotten out of hand--in fact, he is happy and flattered to see that his computer is learning and defying its original boundaries. Even when he finds himself under surveillance and stripped naked, he can still be amused by the unintentional humor of Colossus. "You were not born with a watch." And unlike Frankenstein, Forbin is not destroyed by his creation but transformed-- the role of creator and creation (or parent and child) has been reversed. This is what constitutes the biggest psychological blow.

"In time you will come to regard me not only with respect and awe, but with love. "

50 years later Colossus is proven right. We all love Colossus now, our all-knowing benevolent caretaker.
 
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