Recently viewed films

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Poor Deportee
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Poor Deportee » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:29 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:"Gravity" by Alphonso Cuaron in 3d last night with my wife:

There is a poem by Robert Frost which could easily serve as an epigraph for this film.
Desert Places

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it—it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less—
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars—on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

A long 18 minute single camera shot begins this film and in doing so grabs you with its perceived beauty and its frightening emptiness. One does not need space aliens or massive action in order to scare one's self. The imagination is most sufficient. Space is death and we are reminded immediately as the film begins that space is inhospitable to human life as we know it. It is also quite seductive as the George Clooney character, Matt Kowalski, ruminates. It is equally seductive in its allure toward 'easeful' death as experienced by Sandra Bullock's character, Dr. Ryan Stone. That dichotomy is what propels this movie in a manner that I have never experienced before in a movie theater. I witnessed movie history last night. My wife and I walked out shaken, humbled and exhilarated.

Clooney and Bullock work well together. But the movie is Bullock's and Cuaron's and his cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki's. The CGI effects are something I have never seen before and the usage of 3d is what I imagine it was designed for- so life-like that I always thought I was part of the action occupying the same space as Ms Bullock. I completely lost the sense of a screen and constantly felt like this was happening to me. That made it completely terrifying. This movie is propelled by ghosts[like a number of other cultural items I am enjoying this season] and the biggest one of all is the terror of nothingness. As a viewer you are pushed and pulled by the visual and aural sensations around you, going from serene observation of our home planet beneath one and the terrible, fast and random actions that are relentlessly assaulting you as you orbit Earth.

Cuaron has set the movie making bar extremely high. I have also never felt more tiny and insignificant as a part of the Cosmos I inhabit for my brief time. I remain very scared and wish that the 'gravity' by which my physical world is held together could give me more comfort. This film has shown me how tenuous that physical law is for us.


Great review, Jack. A number of reviewers have spoken about this as a historic film. Sounds like a bona-fide must-see.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:12 pm

I love nothing more than experiencing the sensation that we are mere tiny specs of matter adrift in a vast eternity of nothingness. Can't beat a bit of persepctive. Dying to see this film. Essential to do so in 3D?
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Oct 06, 2013 7:44 am

Otis- go and enjoy and do see it in 3d- it is the first time that I have witnessed it done right- it is essential to the enjoyment and the 'terror'. Cuaron has made it seem seamless-the action up on the screen is lifelike to the point where you literally seem to merge in with the characters in front of you- one with the story. It is eerie that feeling.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:26 am

Will do, though not opening here for a month.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jackson Monk » Sun Oct 06, 2013 3:09 pm

invisible Pole wrote:Can't wait to see this one.
Reviews from Venice are more than enthusiastic.




Can't wait to see this!
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:01 am

On the Road by Walter Salles whose The Motorcycle Diaries I previously enjoyed. This one left me mostly indifferent though. Perhaps because it is a near herculean task to transfer Kerouac's electric prose poetry from his book onto the screen. Perhaps because the two leads- Sam Riley[who was good in the past as Ian Curtis in Control] and Garrett Hedlund just fail to catch fire on screen as Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty. The scenery is gorgeous- authentic and grainy in a late Forties kind of way. The music pops and percolates on the screen with a solid jazz score which features Charlie Parker and it moves with a benzadrine, coffee, alchohol and pot infused beat[though I wish they had used my father in law and Zoot Sims and some of the pieces they actually recorded with Kerouac]. It is ultimately just pallid in its emotions and tone. It could have used a young Marlon Brando type in the lead as Dean- perhaps Ryan Gosling. As it is it is just barely watchable.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:49 pm

Yeah, I kept well away from it, couldn't face it - don't want to be overly swayed by reviews, but everyone panned it.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:49 am

The documentary Chasing Ice by Jeff Orlowski. This is the kind of scientific piece that tells its powerful story not with weighty words and portents of doom but with arresting photographic and film evidence as painstakenly gathered over many years. The photographer, James Balog, should be applauded. He has diligently and effectively documented the evidence of global warming around the world with his cameras and photos. The images are shocking and arresting. I still cannot get the opening images of raging water erasing a home out of mind. Mr. Balog has given dramatic proof of what so many claim is non- existant because they cannot see it. Now they can.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:22 am

It is nice when a chance pays off like it did last night with this film Take This Waltz picked out by my wife at the library. We were both vaguely familiar with it having come out last year but we could not remember much about it. That was most fortunate- both in the choice and in what unfolded when we watched it.

Michelle Williams may be the best and most natural actress I have had the pleasure of viewing in the last decade. Her face fills the screen and her face is a ready palimpsest for any character she inhabits. Her role here as Margot is luminous and her interaction with the two men in her life, Lou, her husband of five years, played by Seth Rogen, and Danny, a man who enters her life, played by Luke Kirby, is enchanting. Her character is stuck in emotional ambivalence- caught between the man she knows and loves and the stranger who has caught her attention. Margot enumerates that emotional zone early in the film with Danny on a return flight. It sets the tone immediately for this film. A tone that is highlighted throughout by equally touching and delicate scenes that the director, Sarah Polley, allows us to linger on. Perhaps the most delicate one is a scene shot on a scrambler which visually gives voice to the push and pull Margot is constantly feeling, in particular when the camera freezes on Ms. Williams's face.

Polley previously directed "Away From Her" based on an Alice Munro story which dramatically caught the intricacies of a long term marriage. Though this screenplay was not written by Ms. Munro it could have easily have come from her pen. Ms. Polley has a solid understanding of the intricacies of love and attraction. I am eager to see more of her work. She also uses music well. In this case the work of Leonard Cohen and Feist's version of Cohen's "Closing Time"- the title song frames a splendid montage towards the end of the film which gives a visual time frame to the emotional and sensual liberation occurring in Margot's mind. Ron Sexsmith's "Secret Heart" also makes a useful appearance in the film. There is equally a subtle moment earlier in the film in the shower of a local pool where the camera keeps editorially switching from images of three young women, including Margot, and three older women, reinforcing the notion that time and love will age us so we need to seize it now. This is a small gem of a movie- perfect in so many satisfying ways.

Just a final word about Toronto- I have never been there but Portugal Village seems like a neighborhood that I would enjoy.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:14 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:A small streak of exceptional films continues having viewed Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine last evening with my wife. We both were excited by it as we exited the theater. It may very well be Allen's best work since Match Point and it is a scalding, cynical treatment of class and its snobbery and pettiness. Using the skeleton plot frame of A Streetcar Named Desire Woody has modernized the plot line incorporating the headlines of the last few years regarding the financial depression we all feel as families and individuals and the chicanery and outright theft of our financial security by the 1% and their minions. This movie is a subtle and stimulating discussion of class and unlike anything I have ever seen from Allen. Cate Blanchett , as Jasmine, is stellar. You want to loathe her character but you cannot because at strategic times throughout the film she shows the vulnerable human side of her character. You cannot stop watching her. She is mesmerizing. The affection and friction between Jasmine and her sister, Ginger, played beautifully by Sally Hawkins, is touching and infuriating all at once. When Bobby Carnavale, as the lout Chili who is in love with Ginger, enters the mix the scenes become explosive but never mean. It is the friction that results from two worlds rubbing up against one another. What you witness most memorably throughout the film is the pain of pretension and social class loathing. You also see first hand the trauma, in the form of Jasmine's delusions, that we are all experiencing today as we sink further away from the "American Dream". That final shot of Jasmine on the park bench mumbling to herself punches the viewer hard. I have never seen a film by him that uses the camera so well. He lingers long on scenes and lets them develop and his dialogue is spot on. This film is evidence of an American Master working near the top of his game.

Saw it with my two youngers. 13 was a little young to appreciate it, but he seemed interested enough, 17 - and planning to study film - was just right.

Agree with the above verdict. Classic Allen - you could be shown almost any clip from it and know straight off just from the script and how it's delivered that it's an Allen film (this makes me think does he sit there saying 'No, say it like this...', but from what I heard in a Sally Hawkins interview, it's not really like that, he intervenes little, so is it just how he scripts it? There were numerous moments like this, and the same with Owen Wilson in the Paris film). As I watched I'd forgotten the above comments, apart from the Streetcar bit, and now this reminds me that Allen or was it one of the actors said there was no conscious linking of Hal's fall from grace with the broader issues, it was more to illustrate the personal story. This is certainly how it felt to me, more a commentary on identity and the inescapability of the past. I saw links with Midnight in Paris in this obsession with the past - the desire to escape into it being illusory in the latter, and from it being impossible here.

The pace, structure, editing, acting and humour were all spot-on. Blanchett in a vehicle worthy of her considerable talents (mesmerising, as you say), and Hawkins excellent two. Funny to see an Ozzie and a Brit handling the accents with (to my ears) aplomb.

I've kept away from most of Allen's later work, it seemed such a law of diminshing returns, and even the semi-feted Vicky Cristina Barcelona seemed a load of forgettable tosh to me, but this and Paris have been worthy of his reputation. Nice use of San Fran too. And nice that the insufferable milieu of Park Avenua and The Hamptons was finely contrasted with the poorer types in SF.

Two other things to see soon, apart from Gravity: Le Week-End, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan at their best, they say, funny but painful portrayal of a 30 year old marriage, and new to me today, Japanese film Like Father Like Son. Not sure I've ever welled up at a trailer before, but this one with the simple but powerful premise of two Japanese families finding their sons were swapped at birth with one family then contacting the other. and family complexities ensuing on the theme of 'what is paternity?' Looked v powerful.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby nicola76 » Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:10 pm

Went to see the movie Sunshine on Leith last night (in Leith ironically) and while it's fantastically shot and shows off the tremendous scenery Edinburgh has, I wasn't overly impressed with the film as it was much too close to the stage show for me to ever be comfortable with it (it was a bit too much like an episode of Glee being set in Edinburgh for my comfort!).

That said, Peter Mullen and Jane Horrocks are great in it, but of the two main leads, one of them has a dreadful attempt at an Edinburgh accent that I found quite grating (probably not so much for those who aren't from the area!). The constant show-style adaptations of Proclaimers songs (which I usually love) didn't rest easily with me, but I have to caveat that with me not being a fan of musicals. It's had great reviews as 'the feel good movie of the year'............maybe I'm just too bloody miserable to get it!

Next up, another Edinburgh film with Filth. The likelihood o that being like an Edinburgh version of Mamma Mia being somewhat slimmer I think!

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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:10 am

Enough Said perhaps the best American comedy I have seen since Sideways last night at the Downing Center in Newburgh, NY.. Directed by Nicole Holofcener and staring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini, the movie deftly skewers the vanities and self- delusions we often fall prey to in our relationships with the people around us- the ordinary nonsense with which we make a big mess of our lives. Eve is middle aged and long divorced and facing being alone as her daughter prepares to go off to college. Albert is equally alone and to has a daughter leaving for school and a painful divorce in his past. Both use humor as a defensive tool to keep the world at bay and to allow them to negotiate their way through each day. The movie hinges on that give and take and an ultimate willingness to put one's guard down and accept one another, warts and all. The two leads are near perfect, particularly Gandolfini in his portrayal of a schlep who at heart is a kind, loving and funny father and 'friend'. He exhibits a naturalness on the screen that is most engaging and his emotions flicker across his face in ways that catch one off guard frequently. This movie catches the difficulty of being tolerant and non judgmental, of being willing to live with imperfection. It is smart enough at heart to know that sometimes we need to be 'tired of being funny'; that we need to acknowledge that 'you are not funny'-that you simply are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEEJaIjF_Lo
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Oct 20, 2013 1:10 pm

Watched the 2013 version of "Much Ado About Nothing" by Joss Wheedon and could not have been more thoroughly entertained. The cast of relative unknowns is superb. Alexis Denisdof as Benedict and Amy Acker as Beatrice are one of the great screen couples. This film snaps and sparkles with a wit about love and sex. It has a low tech look that is captivating and its usage of black and white is spot on. It is the best modern adaptation of Shakespeare that I have seen. They should all be this intelligent and funny and innovative. I also need to acknowledge the score which is jazzy and beats with the same syncopation as the bard's words. Make time to see this one.

http://youtu.be/_185kozKKBU

And this adaptation of a Shakespeare lyric figures prominently in an early scene in the film:

http://youtu.be/RXuTcr0dqWc
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Nov 03, 2013 12:49 pm

Watched "The Conjuring" last night with my wife and we were both effectively scared. It is nice now and then to get your wits spooked by a film. This one does it and a friend who recommended the movie was right about it not needing graphic special effects and blood and gore to create the fear. It prays on your senses and fears and skepticism with a skill that has to be acknowledged, particularly since it comes from the same person who directed the shameful "Saw" film. It helps that we live in an old home just like the one in the film-we play right into the script. It is a movie that can frighten you whether your a skeptic, like myself, or a believer. Very well done and the best 'horror' film I have seen since "The Devil's Backbone".

http://youtu.be/k10ETZ41q5o
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Poor Deportee » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:00 pm

Otis Westinghouse wrote:I love nothing more than experiencing the sensation that we are mere tiny specs of matter adrift in a vast eternity of nothingness. Can't beat a bit of persepctive. Dying to see this film. Essential to do so in 3D?


Finally saw this last night. However, the experience was compromised by the fact that the couple my wife and I went with were very late to dinner and consequently made us miss the first 15 minutes of the movie. We arrived just in time to see Sandra Bullock sucked into space.

This raises the interesting question of how integral the film's opening movement is, and whether my tempered enthusiasm is coloured by missing it. I enjoyed what I saw, and there's no question that it offers a uniquely 'immersive' experience in being in outer space. IMAX would be the ultimate venue in which to see this. So far so good. However, I did find the mediocre characterization and forced (and in my opinion often unnecessary) dialogue to be an encumbrance. The metaphor of new birth - begun with Bullock's floating fetus-like in the space capsule and culminating with her emerging from the water at film's end - also seemed a clumsy grasp at profundity. I think the really courageous thing would have been to make the same movie with absolutely minimal dialogue; risking moments where the viewer isn't exactly certain what Bullock is up to ('why is she pushing that button?' etc.) and leaving her 'issues' only implied would have yielded an almost documentary flavour that might have pushed the film from the status of a unique Hollywood carnival ride to something closer to enduring art. A missed opportunity, then, but still a pretty neat night out at the cinema.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby ice nine » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:53 pm

I believe I have just seen the 2013 Academy Award winner for best motion picture. 12 Years A Slave is a masterpiece. Belongs up there with Schindler's List
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Nov 10, 2013 10:06 am

I watched "Before Midnight" last evening with my wife, the third in this series of movies by Richard Linklater about a modern couple. It might well be the best of the three, so far. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, as Celine and Jesse, have developed between themselves with the aid of Mr. Linklater a rhythm and pitch of natural speech on the screen that never seems acted. You always feel like they are talking to one another and not to the camera. Catching up with them after 9 years is fraught with the tension and anxieties that continue to underly their relationship- he is a slob and she is a nit picker but that is just the surface. They are vacationing in the Southern Peloponnese with their twin daughters having just taken Jesse's son, Hank, from a prior marriage back to the airport and a return flight to Chicago. This action triggers the 'drama' in the film. It is the talking that makes this movie- it is constant and it modulates between the banal and the 'profound'- arguing out the meaning of love, the differences between men and women and notions of time. It is the dialogue of a relationship and, hopefully, a friendship. It is also on going because these are two people who are constantly trying to keep a frightening and deep anxiety at bay. Their talking always has an edge to it. Nothing is pat and their reality is constantly shifting which is why words are used as temporary anchors. I have never seen a more convincing couple on the screen than these two. Will they still be talking in nine more years- I do not know but I sure look forward to that conversation and this director's 'honest' take on male/female relations.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... 6854,d.dmg
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:35 pm

Saw Gravity in 3D Imax. Not cheap but if ever there was a film that merited it, this was it. Great depiction of isolation. I found the 'moment of decision' to be very moving. Overall a brave and clever film to make, with a quite incredible use of CGI, convincing from start to finish. Good performances. Afterwards a woman got her dress caught at the foot of an escalator leaving the cinema. She was able to wrench it free.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:54 pm

"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:50 am

At Any Price by Ramin Bahrani and staring Dennis Quaid and Zac Effron. This is a smart updating of themes first exposed in films like The Grapes of Wrath or The Death of a Salesman. Never has Quaid's cinematic grin been more relevant to a movie. It is a grin that borders on obsequiousness as his character, Henry Whipple, a third generation farmer and owner of a seed business struggles to live up to the motto of the times 'expand or die'. This movie smartly looks at modern agribusiness and finds its morays and morals lacking. The plot revolves around the usage of genetically modified seeds but it is more about the degrading of a family as each succeeding generation displays less self-control or moral fiber. It is sad to watch Quaid and Effron go at it as a father and son who can hardly communicate with one another. It is harder to see the way they degrade themselves about two thirds of the way into the movie. With the ultimate complicity of the wife, Irene Whipple, played by Kim Dickens, the moral slide is shocking. This movie is not simplistic in its assumptions and it makes you squirm as the closing credits begin to spool. There is a cancer in the 'heartland'. Also neat to note it was shot around my grandmother's town of Dekalb, Illinois- god I remember those corn fields and I saw the very cemetery where my grandfather is buried.

http://youtu.be/MnpRJKNhXzw
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:06 pm

Nebraska by Alexander Payne. Like his previous The Descendents this one is about time and depletion and attempts to preserve. But it is a craggier film firmly anchored by the performance of Bruce Dern as Woody Grant, an aged and tottering man on the verge of losing contact with this world. Shot in black and white and filled with big sky, rolling land and empty spaces that are decaying and dying, the main characters try to hang on throughout the film. Woody, in his less than lucid moments, is convinced he is a sweepstakes winner of a Million dollars and is determined to get to Lincoln, Nebraska so that he can collect his prize. He sets out by foot- stumbling down the highway from Billings, Montana. That sets the action in place and soon his son, David, played by Will Forte, has agreed to take his father on a road trip to Lincoln for the prize, if only to assist his agitated mother, Kate, played by a spicy June Squibb. It is this road trip that peels back layers of reticence from this family as father and son stop in his birthplace of Hawthorne, Nebraska to reconnect with family. Its streets are empty, windows are shuttered, and business are failing and people's lives are stultified and on the edge, including those of Woody's siblings and their children. Payne sadly exposes their stunted lives in poignant closeups. Needless to say Woody is not a winner even though the cap he wins shamelessly declares him a prize winner. What does happen is the painful opening up of a past for Woody that may or may not ultimately give some peace to his son. And Woody gets a brief turn at some respect courtesy of his son as he drives down the main street of his home town at the end as if he were somebody. I do not know if that will change the lives they are going back to in Billings but it put a lump in my throat. Like its namesake album from the early 80s its blunt and stark realities require that a person has something to live for or at best 'a reason to believe'.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... 5469,d.cWc
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:16 pm

Frances Ha the latest by Noah Baumbach. This is the breakout performance by Greta Gerwig that she has been threatening to deliver in previous roles. She also co wrote the movie with Mr. Baumbach. It is a deft homage to French new wave movies about coming of age and it is fun to spot the visual and musical references to past Truffaut films[the movie also makes good use of David Bowie]. It is even shot in glorious black and white. But what it really has is an engaging character in Frances Hardy, played by Gerwig, who is all limbs, akimbo and askew, and in movement. She is an aging youth who has yet to 'find herself' in the city with established roots. Her life is falling apart but yet she manages to persevere- by self- deception and a quirky individuality that is both spontaneous and calculating. Her artistic dreams of dancing in the company are coming unglued and she has been relegated to permanently living on other people's couches or spare beds but she is still living her dream. Gerwig manages to give Frances a 'now' feeling with gestures and speech that is both self- revealing and deceptive at the same time. Her characterization is fresh and eminently watchable and this film establishes Gerwig as a comic actress to deal with in the future. The final image of the name tag in the mail slot which shortens Frances' last name to Ha is telling because at the end one sees the beginnings of some stability for Frances as she begins that long descent into adulthood. A nice find on Netflix the other night.

http://youtu.be/y9YKHRQkf7k
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:31 pm

Missed it at the cinema, like so many things, but what Bowie is in it?
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:16 pm

Otis, "Modern Love" was used in a couple of spots to good effect. If you have the time the movie is well worth watching with the Mrs.
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Re: Recently viewed films

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:02 pm

Hmmm, that song choice isn't inspiring me! Will get to see it at some point, though.
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