Scorcese’s latest a snooze; ‘Napoleon’ peak Ridley


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Damon Packard’s movie diary Damon Packard is the Los Angeles-based filmmaker behind such underground classics as “Reflections of Evil,” “The Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary,” “Foxfur,” and “Fatal Pulse.” His AI-generated work recently appeared as interstitials for the 18th annual American Cinematheque Horrorthon and can be enjoyed on his YouTube channel. After a long day making movies or otherwise making ends meet, he likes to unwind with late-night excursions to the multiplexes and art house cinemas of greater Los Angeles.

August 2, “Oppenheimer” (d. Christopher Nolan), AMC Universal CityWalk 19 with IMAX

Sold-out 12:45 a.m. 70mm IMAX show on a weeknight for a movie that’s been out for a while and is well beyond the attention span of most of the population. Incredible.

Cheap Xanax For Sale Update, three hours later: Good Lord, that was dull. I’ve lived long enough to see a new 70mm theatrical renaissance where people flock to see an interminable talky historical drama. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad audiences have suddenly finally decided they’re sick of Marvel garbage and CG pixel waste. But it’s too late; stop pretending. Go back to your Spider-Mans and Aquamans and everything else. I’m not a Nolan hater, I’ve enjoyed his last few films; this is by no means a terrible film. It’s perfectly fine for a dry miniseries historical courtroom drama if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing. Of course, as with most mainstream portraits of history, you’re still not going to learn much about what really happened. If you really want a good intelligent historical film, watch “The Devils” (1971) or “Executive Action” (1973) or “Mandingo” (1975) or “The Last Valley” (1971) or “The Killing Fields” (1984) or “Africa Addio” (1966) or something like that.

August 3, “Barbie” (d. Greta Gerwig), AMC Century City 15

Order Xanax From Canada I’ll be darned. I kinda liked “Barbie” though I slept through half of it so only got the half-dreaming compressed version. And again only because I only had about two hours of sleep today. (The heat has made it almost impossible to get any decent sleep lately.) So sitting down in a nice air-conditioned theater is like trying to watch a movie with a shot of elephant tranquilizer. Who knows — maybe the dream-compressed version made it better. I sometimes feel like Jeff Goldblum in “Into the Night.” It’s funny how they reference Century City in the movie when I was watching it
in Century City! Did I dream that or was that real?

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August 5

Buy Diazepam Amazon The 7-Eleven right next to my building (the one across the street from the Nuart theater) has nothing but Toto’s “Africa” playing 24 hours a day over its loudspeakers (no joke). I don’t know if the owner had the idea that song on endless repeat would scare off the homeless, but it worked. Hurry, boy, she’s waiting there for you.

August 8 Someone at InfoWars liked my Toto post! Psychological warfare?!? I would say it’s just the power of music calming the soul.

August 10, “Meg 2: The Trench” (d. Ben Wheatley), AMC Century City 15

Buy Diazepam Xanax Ben Wheatley, the visionary mind who gave you “A Field in England” and “Kill List” brings you … ”Meg 2: The Trench”??! The world is completely topsy-turvy. Now certainly auteur filmmakers suddenly grabbing an opportunity to go full mainstream sellout and do some awful big-budget franchise is nothing new (the girl who made “Nomadland,” etc). And of course
I’d do it in a second. But this has got to be one of the more bizarre cases. The many awkward moments of goofy senseless humor makes the movie feel like it was ghost-directed by some uncredited hotshot Chinese director whose first language is not English. (It is completely Chinese-funded.) I wonder what the story is here?

August 14, “Double Team”/”Knock Off” (1997/1998, d. Tsui Hark), New Beverly Cinema

Sold-out double bill of a couple of late ’90s Tsui Hark Van Damme films I’ve never seen. A group of beautiful French girls sitting in front of me, certainly their first time here. An elegant young Frenchman is making sure they are well treated with snacks and popcorn. The girls weren’t into it, though, and wanted to leave after the first film. (This is not a date place.)

August 24, “Gran Turismo” (d. Neill Blomkamp), AMC Century City 15 Now this is what I like. A nice big empty theater tonight for an 11 p.m. show of “Grand Turismo” or whatever it’s called. Finally the empty theaters are back.
Update: “Gran” not “Grand” — sorry about that. It was just another racing movie. I really don’t have much to say about it. If only the art houses (a) didn’t have showtimes too blasted early, forcing you to battle peak rush hour traffic and impossible parking; (b) were more comfortable with half-decent screen sightlines; and (c) weren’t so expensive. As much as it pains me to say it, the mainstream corporate lifeless garbage-plexes do have some things going for them

September 2, trailer for “Ferrari”

Order Valium Overnight Delivery Michael Mann’s “Ferrari.” Eh. It looks OK. It’s hard to know how and why directors and artists get so attached to stories and ideas that just don’t seem all that interesting (at least to me). I don’t even know why
I get attached to things I later regret. What is interesting any more? Perhaps only what we’re told to be interested in, because we don’t even know. I guess we’re happy he’s still making movies at his age. Truth be told his last great movie was “Heat”; some of his more recent efforts have been pretty dodgy. If he’s going to do a prequel, I’d rather see him make a prequel to “The Keep,” but I’m sure that’s the last thing he has any interest in. I hope he gets to do his big-budget “Heat” sequel, but in all brutal honesty, worthwhile stories may not even exist any more.

September 4, “Femina” (1991, d. Piotr Szulkin), Vintage Cinemas Los Feliz 3 Los Feliz Nights continue tonight with the Polish yuppie fear thriller “Femina” (1991). Never saw this. In fact, I’ve only seen pieces of Piotr Szulkin’s movies. Nice comfortable empty theater, too, as I knew it would be. Perfect for dark, moody, yuppie fear thrillers (my favorite of which is probably 1989’s “Hider in the House”).
Update: That was interesting, I didn’t understand any of it. It’s complete surrealist allegorical storytelling, but I liked it. Some very odd references to old religious pedophile cults (or something) in it. It’s one of those movies I feel like I need to watch with a running commentary by either the director or someone who understands what every single and shot and scene means.

September 14, “O-Bi, O-Ba: The End of Civilization” (1984, d. Piotr Szulkin), Vintage Cinemas Los Feliz 3

Piotr Szulkin’s “O-Bi, O-Ba: The End of Civilization” (1984) is playing at 7 p.m. at the Los Feliz, two hours from now. Which I
really want to go to; just not sure I can deal with that two-hour peak traffic drive again. In extreme on-the-fence mode. These 7 p.m. shows! What should I do? #BanAllEarlyShowtimes. Update: I did it … I made it to the last day of the Piotr Szulkin series. Update: That was great. This is the one Szulkin movie that I had seen pieces of before years ago and always wanted to see in its entirety in a theater. The story still loses me, but it just looks so amazing. Certainly his most ambitious visual work of art.

September 21, “The Nun 2” (d. Michael Chaves), AMC Century City 15

Guess it’s a late show of “The Nun 2” tonight. God help me (literally). Of course there was actually one last Piotr Szulkin film playing earlier at the Los Feliz, but it was too early and I was passed out, so now it’s this garbage. The question is will I actually be able to sit through more than 30 minutes, as I have no tolerance for awful new mainstream horror. Here we go …
Update: Awful, sheer boredom. Left early.

September 26, “Sisters” (1972, d. Brian De Palma), New Beverly Cinema

Buy Diazepam 15 Mg At the New Bev for “Sisters” (1972), trying to get my mind off of more six-month delays on work invoices driving me to insanity. Always liked this film. It has that creepy, strange early ’70s vibe tailor-made for 35mm and books like [critic Kier-la Janisse’s] “House of Psychotic Women.” And I love Margot Kidder. She really did go insane, too. We’re all going insane.

September 28, “The Creator” (d. Gareth Edwards), AMC Century City 15

Guess it’s “The Creator” tonight at the AMC; deliveries are dead. Pray $700 somehow magically surfaces in the next few days. Update: Eesh, despite its surface looks and A-level VFX, that was pretty bad. A forgettable, dumb, cliche-ridden high-financed mediocrity from “Star Wars” filmmaker/fanboy-who-got-lucky Gareth Edwards. “Elysium” and “District 9” meets “The Golden Child” with a giant barcode-scanning spaceship (which looked pretty cool). But Gareth Edwards isn’t worried about how his rent will get paid this month; I am. And that’s all that matters.

October 2, “Saw X” (d. Kevin Greutert), AMC Burbank 16

Guess it’s this “Saw X” garbage tonight at the AMC Burbank. Sigh. Here we go.
Update: Pure torture. I thought this genre was dead? Who are these movies made for? Sadistic psychopaths who like to sit through torture, rape, mutilation, body disassembly, fleshy lacerations, blood gurgling, and screaming? Why are they made? I just don’t understand it. There are deeper meanings here I don’t have time to ponder at the moment.

October 5, “Farewell My Concubine” (1992, d. Kaige Chen), Landmark’s Nuart Theater

Tonight it’s the three-hour 1992 Chinese epic “Farewell My Concubine” across the street. Anything long, slow, and foreign (or gay-themed) is perfect Landmark material. Here we go … will update with review in a few hours.
Update: Wow, that was quite an epic. Visually beautiful film. The use of light and shadow and smoke was gorgeous. Through the first 30 minutes I thought this movie was a masterpiece, but I think it peters off a little bit in the second half. Still a very important work in the pantheon of what they call “5th generation Chinese Cinema.” Thumbs up.

October 5, “The Exorcist: Believer” (d. David Gordon Green), AMC Century City 15

I was really hoping it wouldn’t come down to a late show of this worthless pile of waste-of-time garbage, but extreme lack of choice forced it, and I don’t even have to see it before calling it that. Here we go …
Update: Good Lord, Linda Blair comes back in a cameo at the end, and she looks almost worse than Ellen Burstyn. What a sad, pathetic waste. It makes me wonder if David Gordon Green does this on purpose. He can’t be this inept. If anything, this movie should put the nail in the coffin of the demonic possession genre, which has always been dull and dumb with the glaring exception of a certain movie that was made in 1973.

October 11, “Alucarda” (d. Juan López Moctezuma), Vintage Cinemas Los Feliz 3

Los Feliz nights finally continued on this chaotic night with “Alucarda” (1977), the visually nifty gothic Spanish satanic horror phantasmagoria from director Juan López Moctezuma. I’ve always wanted to see this. A bit uneven and all over the place but seeping with striking ’70s horror exploitation imagery, set design, wild costumes and effects. A bit like a Spanish fusion of “The Devils,” “Carrie,” “The Exorcist,” “The Devil’s Rain,” “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders,” “Daughters of Darkness,” “Suspiria,” “The Vampire Lovers” and probably a few others of the time. Based (loosely, no doubt) on the 19th-century Irish novella “Camilla,” which predates Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Loved the fiery climax. Shot (effectively) in the 1:37 aspect ratio even though I can’t imagine this ever aired on TV without being cut to shreds. Despite world-collapse obstacle course chaos (I witnessed three freeway accidents on the way over and several maniac homeless people jumping in front of cars trying to get hit coming down Vermont), I made it on time.

October 17

I passed by the old Crest theater in Westwood tonight. It’s now reopened as the Nimoy (live events only). Be great if they ran nothing but Leonard Nimoy films seven days a week, including all his TV work. Back in ’82 this was one of only two places in L.A. that ran John Carpenter’s “The Thing” in 70mm. Nobody cared at the time, but I dragged at least three friends to see it there and they were all blown away. I also remember seeing “WarGames” and “The Right Stuff” there in 70mm the following year. I believe it was called the Metro at the time (this place has been through numerous ownerships and name changes over the years). I believe this joint also opened with “Three Men and a Baby” in 70mm, which was directed by Nimoy. So it’s appropriately named.

October 18, “Let’s See That Beautiful Face — ‘Did You Call Me,'” “The Specialist (OST),” John Barry

Oddly John Barry’s score for this (of all things) is one of my favorites of his and features some of his most sumptuous melodies and arrangements, such as
this one.

October 18

Burt Young. I remember running into him at some bar in Studio City a number of years back with Jeff Burr, and we started chatting with him at the booth. He was sitting alone and making pained faces like he was upset or depressed or in pain or something, so we decided to try to cheer him up (it worked). He talked about how in love with Diane Franklin he was during the filming of “Amityville 2.” But only after I brought her up. For some reason I mentioned her name, and he went “WHOA, WHOA — where did that come from?! Diane Franklin, holy Jesus …” (Italian wiseguy style). Nicest guy in the world.

October 20, “Killers of the Flower Moon” (d. Martin Scorcese), AMC Burbank 16

Heading into KILLER FLOWER will update in five hours. Update: Oof! A whopping bore and struggle to get through as expected. Should have been a TV miniseries. More like SNOOZER OF THE FLOWER MOON. The problem with this film is I just didn’t care about the story
at all. It’s beautifully made with immaculate attention to detail and casting, especially for the minor characters. Faces that look so right out of the era it’s almost a miracle these people still exist. Jack Fisk’s production design is top-notch. No issues with all the technical aspects of the movie — it looks great. But it just isn’t very interesting, and you’re subjected to nearly four hours of it. DiCaprio, who goes through the entire film with that sour southern smirk on his face, sometimes feels a bit out of place with the more genuine older characters. Throw DiCaprio into the real wild West (or South), and I’d like to see how far he gets parading around like that. Kind of like Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future Part III.” Unfortunately, this gets a huge thumbs-down. It’s well above mediocrity for casting, photography, direction, and production design but falls into bland, stale water-cracker TV territory for me. About two and half hours in, I could hear at least three people snoring in the theater in different seating areas.

November 1, “The Killer” (d. David Fincher), Landmark’s Regent Theater

Catching Fincher’s “The Killer” at the former Regent (now owned by Netflix) tonight in Westwood. I used to work here in ’85. I don’t care for the 2020 remodeling of this place; it stripped it of all its character and makes things like the box office ticket purchase situation completely senseless. But then everything about modern society is senseless, empty, and brain-dead. What else is new? Disregard my rant; will update with review in a few hours … stand by. Update: That was pretty good, nothing phenomenal.

November 8, “After Death” (d. Stephen Gray, Chris Radtke), AMC Century City 15

Guess it’s an 11 p.m. show of “After Death” tonight in Century City. An afterlife documentary. As expected, I’m the only person here. Bizarre that something like this would be playing at the AMC, especially a late show on a weeknight, in a huge theater no less. Weird. I guess humanity is expecting death soon. AMC staff (including security) simply abandon the theater late at night and don’t even check the auditoriums. Which is why it’s strangely still an unknown/undiscovered haven for homeless sleepers or free shooting location for indie filmmakers (which I have used it for). Everyone is zombied out and buried in their phones these days, especially late at night. Anything is possible.

November 10, “The Marvels” (d. Nia DaCosta), AMC Burbank 16

Sigh, guess it’s an 11:45 p.m. show of that stupid worthless MARVELS garbage tonight in Burbank. No other choice … here we go.
Update: Left after an hour.

November 14, “The Spirit of the Beehive” (1973, d. Victor Erice), Vintage Cinemas Los Feliz 3

A beautiful movie (in 35mm) about screening “Frankenstein” in a small Castilian village in 1940 and its effects on a child’s mind. I was surprised not a single cine-hipster applauded at the end, but then I realized remaining silent is what they do when they are
really affected.

November 15, “Victims of Sin” (1951, d. Emilio Fernandez), Vintage Cinemas Los Feliz 3

Los Feliz noir nights continued earlier tonight with “Victims of Sin” (1951), A terrific, stylish, maudlin melodramatic Mexican noir from actor/director Emilio Fernandez (the drunken Mexican general in “The Wild Bunch” and “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”). American cinephiles would definitely know him as an actor, but few know his work as a director. Honestly, this was the first film of his I’ve seen, and I was quite impressed. This amigo knew his stuff and had a keen eye for visuals.

November 19, “Thanksgiving” (d. Eli Roth), AMC Burbank 16

All right … looks like it’s that Eli Roth “Thanksgiving” film tonight in Burbank. I would have seen it at the Vista in 35mm, but the last show was 8:45 and I would never have made it. I hate places that don’t do showtimes after 8 p.m. This has become common in L.A. since nobody can stay up late any more. Will report back in a couple of hours.
Update: Eh, that was OK, though I fell asleep through much of the last half-hour.

November 20, “Fire Dragon”/”Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow” (1994/1978, d. Woo-Ping Yuen), New Beverly Cinema

Some really nice fight choreography and fire FX in “Fire Dragon.” “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow” is kind of dull. I guess it’s basically noteworthy for being Jackie Chan’s first starring role, but that’s it. Seems like it was mostly Jackie Chan training. The unique thing about Hong Kong martial arts cinema (in my opinion) is that it got much better by the mid- to late ’80s and early ‘90s. I’m speaking purely in terms of fight choreography, stunts, speed, and sophistication. Then at some point in the late ’90s/early 2000s, too many safety restrictions kicked in and CGI started taking over, and they went downhill fast.

November 23, “The Boy and the Heron” (d. Hayao Miyazaki), AMC Century City 15

Hurtling at light speed to see that new Miyazaki film (possibly his last), “The Boy and the Heron.” I’ve actually been looking forward to this; nothing could stop me! Will report back with a review in a couple hours.
Update: Hmm, [clearing throat sound] this is a tough one. Once again due to lack of sleep (not because of the movie), I was fighting the effects of elephant tranquilizer and nodding out through quite a bit of it, which makes me hesitant to post any kind of reaction. Although I’ve read other people were falling asleep during this as well. I wouldn’t say that it’s because this is a particularly slow or bad movie; parts just have a kind of meditative effect. I liked it and it has a beautiful Joe Hisaishi score. It’s true it’s not his best, but I wouldn’t say it’s one of his worst either; it’s an odd one. Not entirely sure what to make of it, but I’m going to say it’s an excellent film that perhaps needs to be seen in a different light, mood, frame of mind, or dimensional perspective. I think Miyazaki has possibly made us a film so transcendental that we can’t comprehend it at this point in time.

November 25, “The Cartier Affair” (1984, d. Rod Holcomb), Vintage Cinemas Los Feliz 3

Los Feliz Nights are back tonight with the 1984 TV movie “The Cartier Affair.” Never saw this. Nobody here; this is perfect!
Update: That was good. I enjoyed that. There was actually chemistry between Joan Collins and David Hasselhoff.

November 28, “Napoleon” (d. Ridley Scott), AMC Burbank 16

I’ll be darned, dip me in hot tar and throw me into a giant pit of feathers and light me on fire. I was dead certain Ridley’s “Napoleon” would be a tedious, choppy, sluggish slog with bad CGI and hideous miscasting. I loved it. It was actually pretty awesome. What’s more is for the near three-hour running time, I didn’t feel it dragged one bit (well, maybe a tiny bit). Which is astonishing. Maybe I’ve temporarily lost my mind. Maybe I need to be slapped back into consciousness. Maybe all my friends need to do an intervention. Yeah, it’s not perfect, there
is some really bad CGI, and I still feel Joaquin Phoenix is an absolutely ridiculous decision. For the life of me I don’t understand why Ridley felt he was right for it, but that didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the film at all. Mostly his performance was about his stoic smirks and eccentric behavior, so maybe that was good enough. I don’t know. The rest of the cast were excellent, especially the British military leaders and dignitaries. It’s true there is a cold, sterile feel to the movie, but it just looks so amazing, filled with beautiful locations, natural light, gorgeous costumes, and attention to visual details. And battle scenes (especially the Waterloo finale) that were truly epic. Can a film shot digitally get four stars just for having some of the coolest deep-focus long-lens fast-tracking shots of horses you’ve ever seen? Well, there’s more to it than that, but all I can say is I really loved it. I think it’s one of his best in years.

November 29, “Maestro” (d. Bradley Cooper), the Landmark Westwood

Well, slap me with a wet fish and toss me in a barrel of salt and vinegar. As if “Napoleon” wasn’t enough of a surprise, “Maestro” was
excellent. I loved it. As a Leonard Bernstein fan already, this made me love his music (perfectly interwoven into this movie in a splendid new London Symphony Orchestra recording) even more. I was expecting another tepid, tiresome, melodramatic biopic but got something quite fresh and inventive instead. What impressed me most about this relates to something I’ve thought about for years: Modern actors doing a period piece never speak or sound like they’re from the era, no matter how hard they try. Cooper obviously took painstaking care to get all his actors to learn and master the language, intonations, and dialect of people in certain social circles in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. And what’s more, he made it conversationally fluid and natural, overlapping dialogue and all. At times it did call attention to itself and seemed a bit “stagey” (maybe even a bit Wellesian) but it really gave the film an authenticity you rarely see in modern movies. Bradley Cooper nails every nuance of the character so well that in some scenes I really felt like I was watching archival footage of Bernstein himself. An excellent movie on all fronts. I especially appreciate how Cooper lets the entire suite of “Candide” (one of my favorites) play full blast through the end credits. Five stars. This was originally Spielberg’s project, and dare I say I think Cooper probably did a better job than he would have. This feels like an Oscar movie for the “upper-crust snobs,” and if it wins, we’ll actually finally have something that deserves it.

December 1, “Godzilla Minus One” (d. Takashi Yamazaki), AMC Century City 15

Why was Godzilla so angry? Godzilla, looking strangely bulky, oddly walking a little like a robot at times, had an interesting design that seemed to capture the creepy, frightening aspects of the best of the rubber suit days. First he’s raging mad, bursting onto land roaring and screaming and throwing tantrums, then he’s walking like a robot through buildings like he’s sleepwalking or on drugs. I was kind of drifting off a bit through parts of it (severe sleep disorder, nothing to do with the movie) but found it entertaining enough.

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