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What Are You Watching? Part 2

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    #1205128601
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    K-Hole
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    #1205129704

    The Limey (1999)
    With a runtime of only 90 minutes, The Limey is a tale of retribution told perhaps too economically and efficiently, although definitely worth watching for its cinematography, editing, and of course Terence Stamp’s memorable performance (Stamp has been acting in films including a number of iconic roles since the early 1960s). For want of a better term, the film’s genre is California Neo-Noir which, unlike the classic B&W film noirs from the 1940s-1950s, is shot in color and takes place mostly in broad daylight, although the palette is mostly muted — not a garish color in sight, but its violent crime thriller themes are pretty much the same as those made 50 years prior. The recent 4K release is definitive and gorgeous.

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    K-Hole
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    #1205130361

    “Mika — Live at the Paris Philharmonic” on PBS
    Mika is an excellent singer who puts on a good show, and the orchestra and backing singers sound great too.

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    K-Hole
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    #1205133943

    The Birds (1963)
    I do not know if anyone can explain what this movie is really about (or whether those killer birds are even a metaphor for something). The theme may have something to do with the Melanie Daniels character (played by Tippi Hedren) acquiring a substitute in the Mrs. Brenner character (played by Jessica Tandy) for the mother who abandoned her as a child, but only after Melanie has been reduced to a needy child-like incapacity after being attacked and nearly killed by the birds. Or maybe the film is just supposed to work on some subconscious level. I do know that this movie is an indisputable classic which holds up to multiple viewings, and that Hitchcock may be the greatest film director ever. The 4K re-release of this film is gorgeous, showcasing the stunning photography by Robert Burks, who was an expert in forced perspective techniques, which are part of Hitchcock’s signature style. TIP: Although it’s been done before, you really cannot go wrong with getting dressed up for Halloween as the Tippi Hedren character in a Edith Head wool sheath dress and matching jacket, with scratches on your face and a bunch of fake birds stuck in your disheveled platinum blonde hair!

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    Cameron
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    #1205135731

    Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) One of my favorite comfort films. Very underrated. Deserved the Oscars they were up against.

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    K-Hole
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    Saboteur (1942)
    One of Universal’s recent rereleases of classic Hitchcock movies in gorgeous UHD and glorious B&W, featuring Hitchcock’s trademark plot — the innocent man (or woman) wrongly accused of murder. The word “Nazi” is never mentioned (although “Fascist” is), but the villains are unmistakably a cabal of Nazi agents and sympathizers committing sabotage in the United States during WWII. Interestingly, the Fascists are depicted as both ordinary Americans as well as the upper class, including wealthy California ranchers and New York socialites, and even military leaders —plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. There are a number of wonderful set pieces, including a traveling circus caravan, a swanky party in a mansion, and the climactic scene at the Statue of Liberty. The movie is fast-paced and a delight from start to finish, and kept my interest despite my being dog-tired after several days of hard work. One of the screenwriters was the great humorist and wit Dorothy Parker.

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    K-Hole
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    #1205155832

    Morbius (2022)
    Not one of those “so bad it’s good” movies, it’s just bad. The critics were right, for once. There are too many showy but unimaginative fight scenes the likes of which we’ve seen too many times before. The plot toys with the notion that Jared Harris’ character loves Matt Smith’s character loves Jared Leto’s character loves Adria Arjona’s character, which is a lot more tedious than it sounds. A real slog to get to a few gems like the scene with shirtless Jared Leto, transformed from sickly invalid to hunky “Olympian athlete,” which is how he describes himself, rather inadequately it seems since now he can also fly through the air like a bat. You see, when you inject vampire bat DNA, your DNA apparently combines with the vampire bat DNA, how about that. As formulaic and bad-CGI-laden as the Venom movies about another hunk who turns into a monster and struggles to find a way to control his “primal” and deadly impulses. I wanted to like this movie but it is a Marvel product after all.

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    K-Hole
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    #1205158977

    Lost Highway (1997)
    Like Hitchcock and Bunuel, David Lynch is a master of surrealism. There are innumerable pleasures, both high and low, to be found in all of their movies. Lost Highway is a very moody, atmospheric psychological thriller that often invokes the logic of a nightmare. This film is an excellent example of California Neo-Noir style, like Mulholland Drive, and is often creepy and unsettling (e.g., the Robert Blake character). There are even a couple good car chase scenes. For me, Lynch is one of the best directors of the Eighties and Nineties. The new 4K rerelease looks great and is a real visual and aural treat — excellent soundtrack and sound effects.

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    K-Hole
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    #1205164803

    Fright Night (1985)
    Perhaps a prime example of the 1980s horror-comedy genre, which unfortunately often means dumb and horny teenagers. Not quite as enthralling as I remember it, but with some camp and veiled references. Would probably make a good triple feature with The Lost Boys (1987) and Salem’s Lot (1979). Spooky houses and fanged creatures, etc. But then there is a scene depicting murder at a dance club, which snapped me out of make-believe and brought me back to the real world of Pulse Nightclub and Club Q, which are nightmares I would have liked to forget for a little while.

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    Dzhizus
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    Batman 2022

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    K-Hole
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    #1205166283

    In memory of the victims of the anti-gay massacre in Colorado Springs, I wanted to watch some gay-themed films that I had never seen before.

    Tom of Finland (2017)
    A biopic of the Finnish artist who created an instantly recognizable homoerotic art global phenomenon. Some may be disappointed that other than the iconic drawings, this is not an explicit movie, although it does not shirk from the protagonist’s pursuit of sex and even love. The movie harkens back to a time when cruising was dangerous and illegal, and even socializing with other gay men risked arrest, attacks and beatings by policemen. One of the stranger episodes involves Tom and his sister falling in love with the same man. The beginning of the film however is set during WWII when the artist-to-be was an officer in the Finnish army, and a lot of the cinematography and editing is evocative and nostalgic, so there is a serious attempt to depict the incidents that made a formative and lasting impression on the artist. It may be easy nowadays in some places to take gay sexual freedom for granted, which may be a mistake given a Supreme Court which casually rules against women’s rights over their own bodies, and a political movement that encourages violence like in Orlando and Colorado Springs. Some viewers may dismiss the movie as being about “dirty pictures,” but the treatment is definitely sex-positive, with Tom’s handsome and idealized men revolutionarily depicted as healthy, happy, unashamed, manly/masculine, and proudly homosexual, and the artist himself shown as a romantic, gentle, loving and good man.

    Cruella (2021)
    This 2 hour 15 minute movie set in an exaggeratedly vicious and campy (read: “gay”) milieu of the fashion business is aimed at more mature adults than Disney’s usual audience, and is otherwise “gay” insofar as including a couple of gay characters (gay people are not invisible). On one hand, I sort of disliked the backstory to Disney’s villain from the 1961 movie One Hundred and One Dalmatians, trying to explain her, which did not need doing. But the 1961 animated Disney classic has great visual style, and so does the 2021 live action movie, especially the costumes, which deservedly won an Academy Award for best costumes. I also enjoyed Emma Thompson’s performance as “the Baroness.” Just as clothes (leather chaps, tight jeans, sexy boots, etc.) make the man in the Tom of Finland movie, the audacious and ingeniously creative dresses make the woman in Cruella. I think much of the interest and value in fashion is that it sometimes reflects a gay sensibility that elevates beauty, art and drama.

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