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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 22, 2021

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kongs_speech
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 22, 2021

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Post by kongs_speech »

What a week! Despite continuing fatigue issues, I powered through it and watched 38 features. 30 shorts too. Of course, the downside is that it means this thread took longer than normal to piece together. :lol:

"Please share with us which films you saw last week. It would be great if you could include some comments on each film. It would be awesome if you could also take some time to comment on everyone else's viewings. Please also note that this is intended as a movie discussion thread, not a large image posting thread. Having too many large images makes this thread difficult to navigate through. If you wish to include more than five images in a reply, please use spoiler tags - [ spoiler ][/ spoiler ] - to hide extra images." - sol

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My Golden Days (2015, Arnaud Desplechin)

Arnaud Desplechin's My Golden Days is an intelligent, sophisticated coming-of-age story that centers on the highs and lows in the young adulthood of its protagonist, Paul Dedalus (Quentin Dolmaire). Specifically, it places most of its emphasis on his troubled yet passionate relationship with the love of his life, Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet). A wistful look back at young love, the film possesses more emotional and intellectual depth than most similar American movies. The dynamic between Paul and Esther is always interesting. They are in love, yet they are often sexually active with other people. (Nowadays, perhaps this would be considered polyamory.)

Brought vividly to life by Roy-Lecollinet, Esther is insecure and prone to making bad decisions, yet there is something about her personality that is deeply likable. Desplechin's film is let down only by its unnecessary wraparound story involving present-day Paul (Mathieu Amalric) as a lonely, middle-aged anthropologist. Presumably this was done to make a stronger connection to 1996's My Sex Life, in which Amalric played the character of Paul, but it distracts from the youthful magic prevalent in most of the film. Aside from this issue, My Golden Days is terrifically written, acted and directed. 4/5

Papillon (1973, Franklin J. Schaffner)

Papillon is very well-acted by Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. It is also unrelentingly slow and lacking in significant character development. The film does not appear to really be saying much of anything about corrupt prison systems and societal injustice. There is no narrative reason to root for the heroes. I just kept checking the time and wondering when the hell McQueen was going to escape already. The ending is an anticlimactic disappointment that carries none of the emotional weight it hopes to achieve. The island cinematography is beautiful, but I wonder how much of that is filmmaking skill and how much of it comes from islands being inherently pretty natural wonders. This film is important, absolutely, but I remain unconvinced that it is good. 2.5/5

The Last King of Scotland (2006, Kevin Macdonald)

Forrest Whittaker is a terrifying force of nature in The Last King of Scotland. His Idi Amin comes across as pleasant and likable when Dr. Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) first meets him. As viewers aware of history, we have the hindsight of knowing that this is not Amin's true nature. Nicholas, however, has no such benefit, so he is easily lured into becoming Amin's favorite advisor. By the time Amin's evil reveals itself, the Scottish doctor has gotten in way too deep. Amin was a man whose wrathful, violent paranoia prevented him from maintaining trust in anyone.

The big issue with Kevin Macdonald's film is that Nicholas never actually existed in reality. Framing the story of a vicious Ugandan dictator through the perspective of a fictional white person is a questionable decision, but I suppose it allows Nicholas to function as a type of on-screen avatar for the audience, lured in by Amin's charm, only to be horrified by what he discovers. The fact that McAvoy's performance is strong enough to make his presence feel justified is a testament to his talent. Kerry Washington is also great as one of Amin's wives. The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Whittaker. He is simply on another level, channeling the spirit of a genocidal maniac in a bloodcurdlingly realistic manner that transcends any script issues. 3.5/5

MASH (1970, Robert Altman)

I don't know what impresses me more about Bob Altman's MASH -- its relentlessly scorched Earth, caustic attitude or the fact that it has nothing that can really be considered a plot. I do understand why it could be taken the wrong way in a contemporary context, and I wouldn't tell someone they're wrong for hating it, but I definitely believe its characters are unlikable by design. It's all part of the scathing satire, which is not only anti-war but lampooning the whole military institution itself. The trio of would-be heroes, while skilled at their jobs, are total dickheads. Considering its politics during the Vietnam War and its narrative risks during the early days of New Hollywood, this baby must have really been a revolution in 1970. The whole cast is great, especially Sally Kellerman. I've read that the TV series apparently has its rough edges sanded down considerably, but I'm now interested in checking it out someday. The narration at the end is the funniest thing in the entire film. 4.5/5

Amistad (1997, Steven Spielberg)

Steven Spielberg's slavery odyssey Amistad begins with one of the finest sequences in the director's oeuvre. Under the night sky, the captured Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) incites a rebellion and leads his fellow African prisoners to kill and overpower their Spanish abductors. The way this scene is shot by Janusz Kaminski is absolutely stunning. Anyone should root for slave rebellions just on general principle, but the artistic framing of the moment really invests the viewer in Cinque and the others immediately. We feel their righteous anger, fear and desire for freedom. In its own way, this scene is as awe-inspiring as the storming of the beach at Normandy that opens the director's next film, the better-received Saving Private Ryan.

When the ship reaches America, Spielberg shifts gears and centers itself on the legal battle for the prisoners' freedom. Because slaves are considered property, their representative is property lawyer Roger Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey). Baldwin and freed slave Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman) set out to prove that the men were never actually slaves and therefore acted in self-defense when taken from their homes. The Americans, however, cannot understand the African men, who speak no English. Realizing that communication between both parties is essential, they bring in James Covey (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as a translator.

The courtroom scenes are highly effective, due in large part to the stellar acting on display. McConaughey, Freeman and Ejiofor all give the caliber of performances that one would expect from them, as does Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams, who eventually assists Baldwin. The standout, however, is clearly Hounsou. The most iconic moment from the film is his "give us us free" outburst during the trial. Between Hounsou's emotion and the masterful deployment of John Williams' soaring score, the declaration comes as such a triumph of the human spirit. Amistad puts Spielberg's inherent sentimentality to proper use, transcending the sap that sometimes leaks into his work and therefore creating a genuinely affecting drama hammering home the eternally relevant message that we all deserve freedom. 4/5

The Damned (1969, Luchino Visconti)

For all of its graphically portrayed Nazi depravity, Luchino Visconti's The Damned keeps a certain distance that makes it easy to appreciate but difficult to adore. The film is entertaining, but at 156 minutes, feels bloated. It is at its best when it is at its most salacious, as this is when it feels Visconti is the most passionate. Helmut Berger's committed performance as one of the most evil characters ever portrayed on screen would make the film worth seeing regardless, but its blunt depiction of fascist sexual atrocities makes it a necessary precursor to Salo, and it was the favorite film of Fassbinder, so it holds an important place in history. 3.5/5

Les Carabiniers (1963, Jean-Luc Godard)

Leave it to cinema's greatest provocateur, Jean-Luc Godard, to make one of the most wickedly pointed anti-war films. His early, low-budget effort Les Carabiniers oozes cynicism in every frame. It is harrowing and, at times, darkly hilarious. The scene with the postcards is perhaps the best bit, showcasing Godard at his most absurd, yet carrying an underlying tragedy. I'd be fascinated to see what the politically radicalized Godard of the late '60s / '70s would have done with this material. 4.5/5

Kids (1995, Larry Clark)

When it came out in the '90s, Kids scared the piss out of white America, who desperately wanted to pretend their offspring were nothing like the drinking, smoking, drug-abusing, sexually active teens it depicts. Written by Harmony Korine, who at the time was a teen himself, the film was harrowingly realistic then. Now, if anything, it feels quaint. In the era of smartphones and Snapchat, the youth of today are exposed even younger to such things. I say this in no way to pass moral judgment, simply to acknowledge reality.

Korine's script, directed by Larry Clark, doesn't come across as judgmental either. Kids is not at all some Reefer Madness hand-wringing, which likely made the Moral Majority crowd hate it even more. At the same time, it also certainly does not glorify the self-destruction and cruelty towards one another of its young subjects. The film is as matter-of-fact as possible. As a late millennial, I was a teen in the time between these kids and Gen Z. I lived a very strictly-parented lifestyle, but most of the kids around me were doing things similar to those written by Korine. As with his masterpiece Gummo, if you think it's exaggerated, you've been privileged enough not to witness the real thing.

The film's youthful cast were, at the time, a bunch of nobodies. Chloe Sevigny and Rosario Dawson ascended to stardom, while Leo Fitzpatrick has consistently worked as an indie character actor. Some of the others met with tragic fates, not unlike those which undoubtedly awaited their characters in Kids. Perhaps because it is so natural in the vein of neorealism, the acting is stellar. Fitzpatrick's Telly is charismatic enough in a "scrawny white boy who talks shit" way that it's almost possible to forget at times how twisted and manipulative his behavior is. As Jennie, who contracted HIV from Telly as the result of her one and only sexual encounter, Sevigny is heartbreaking. The film's ending, involving Jennie and Justin Pierce's Casper, is a shocking gut punch. Kids is hopeless, but don't mistake it for nihilism. It's realism. 4.5/5

Horse Feathers (1932, Norman Z. McLeod)

The Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers is a burst of hilarious anarchy, centering on Groucho as a new university president desperate to win a big football game. The plot is a loose framework for brilliant wordplay gags and slapstick. In the role of Quincy Adams Wagstaff, Groucho is constantly funny. The only thing dragging the film down slightly is the useless romantic subplot for his character, but otherwise, the laughs are non-stop. Horse Feathers climaxes with the funniest football game this side of MASH. 4/5

A Snake of June (2002, Shinya Tsukamoto)

Shot through a blue filter, Shinya Tsukamoto's A Snake of June is a haunting little provocation that is difficult to classify but lands somewhere in the realm of being a psychosexual thriller. The film is bizarre and concerns itself with voyeurism, paraphilia, infidelity and obsession. In its shameless approach to such subject matter, it recalls Cronenberg's Crash a bit. The film is credibly acted by its three central characters, especially Asuka Kurosawa as Rinko, a married woman who finds herself in a very kinky situation. It is a tense, exciting film, and running a mere 76 minutes, excellently paced. 4/5

Monkey Business (1931, Norman Z. McLeod)

Although the least consistent of the Marx Brothers comedies I have seen thus far, Monkey Business still offers plenty of laughs. The film drags at times, perhaps a tad overlong at 78 minutes. As usual, Groucho is the funniest brother, though as in Horse Feathers, he is saddled with a romantic subplot that doesn't really go anywhere. The greatest bit involves each of the brothers impersonating Maurice Chevalier. A Marx film that doesn't quite fire on all cylinders is a good time nevertheless. 3.5/5

Happy Together (1997, Wong Kar-wai)

Named for the Turtles' song that plays over the end credits, Wong Kar-wai's Happy Together is a romance film that is emotionally draining in the best way. It follows a Hong Kong gay couple who travel to Argentina only to soon break up and each be stuck there alone. The performances from Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung are understated and deeply felt. Equally terrific is Chang Chen as a co-worker who becomes Leung's only friend in Argentina. Because I have only seen the Janus Films restoration, I do not know how the film is supposed to look, but I found it visually breathtaking, largely due to the cinematography of Christopher Doyle. The pacing is slow, yet always totally captivating. A milestone of queer cinema and contemporary Asian cinema, Happy Together should move practically anyone who has a soul. 4.5/5

Apparition (2012, Isabel Sandoval)

Isabel Sandoval's second feature is an ambitious, gorgeously crafted film following the lives of nuns living in a forest convent in the Philippines during the time of Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorship. Sandoval's direction and script (co-written with Jerry Gracio) are most impressive, sustaining an atmosphere of slowly building tension that becomes unbearable, resulting in shocking violence that left me shaken. Although she doesn't star in her own film this time, Sandoval's voice as an auteur is all over Apparition, which laid the groundwork for her even better film, Lingua Franca. Trans women rule, obviously. 4/5

Bye Bye Morons (2020, Albert Dupontel)

I was floored by this film, which does not have a US distributor or release date despite winning the Cesar, the most prestigious film award in France. An absolutely one-of-a-kind piece of art, Bye Bye Morons is proof that Virginie Efira is becoming one of our best contemporary actresses. Writer/director/co-star Albert Dupontel utilizes a zany, vintage screwball style to tell a story that is deeply of the moment -- a tragicomedy satirizing police corruption and the ineptitude of bureaucracy. Considering that he tackled similar themes in Brazil, it is fitting that Terry Gilliam cameos. Anchored by Efira's remarkable turn as a dying woman attempting to find the son she was forced to give up as a teen, Bye Bye Morons is as funny and poignant as it is infuriating. If this gets released in your country, please support it. Otherwise, see it however you can. ACAB, motherfucker. 5/5

Afterschool (2008, Antonio Campos)

Three years before they became Kevin, the teen psychopath whom Lynne Ramsay insisted that We Need to Talk About, Ezra Miller portrayed a different kind of disturbed young man. In Antonio Campos' chilling film Afterschool, Miller is Rob, a prep-school student obsessed with violent pornography. When Rob joins a video editing class, he sets up a camera on campus as part of a school project. Rob's hallway camera accidentally captures the drug-related death of two sisters. Since Rob is in the video class and was also the only witness to the girls' final moments, he is asked to assemble a tribute video.

Rob is a different breed of troubled youth than Kevin from Ramsay's film. Kevin is blatantly, psychotically evil, while Rob gives every surface-level impression of being a normal kid. He has friends, a girlfriend (Addison Timlin) and behaves politely towards adults. Rob is unlikely to ever be the school shooting type. His issues stem more from a sociopathic degree of indifference. He enjoys porn in which the women are choked and degraded, because only then are their reactions sufficiently "real." Rob is not quite 100% percent evil, but it is telling that despite his obsession with capturing "real" moments, his own behavior is almost entirely artificial.

The cinematography by Jody Lee Lipes is intelligently deployed to benefit the narrative. Though Afterschool is not a found-footage film, it is poorly framed in order to resemble Rob's amateurish attempts at video recording. This subtle decision adds to the atmosphere of discomfort created by Campos. For their part, Miller is at their career best, less outwardly menacing than in the role that later launched them to stardom and therefore scarier. Afterschool is the type of haunting, audacious film that sticks with the viewer long after the credits roll. 4.5/5

Senorita (2011, Isabel Sandoval)

Oh jeez. Being trans, this one hit me so deep in the feels. I have endless love and respect for the brilliant Isabel Sandoval, and Señorita is such a stunning debut film. The tension, revolving around its protagonist Donna (Sandoval) trying to maintain her secrets while becoming embedded in large-scale political corruption, is practically nauseating. Sandoval's performance, script and direction are all impeccable. I would say that she has evolved into one of the most unique and essential perspectives in contemporary cinema, but her first film proves that she always was. 4.5/5

Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021, Taylor Sheridan)

Taylor Sheridan's Those Who Wish Me Dead deserves some credit for being a big-budget studio film marketed to adults and devoid of any connection to a pre-existing franchise. That, regrettably, is about all of the praise it merits, because the thriller is as mediocre and by-the-numbers as it gets. The release of something that would have flopped before clogging up VHS bargain bins in the '90s now comes as a breath of fresh air, which is a sad commentary on the state of the American multiplex. To be clear, Sheridan's film is not exactly bad. It isn't memorable enough to be bad.

When a young teen's father is murdered by assassins in rural Montana, the boy (Finn Little) falls under the protection of Angelina Jolie, firewoman and survivalist. Jolie is committed to the role, delivering laudable work, yet she is hindered by a thinly-written character, as is every other actor. The one side character who manages to be interesting in spite of the material is Allison (Medina Senghore), a pregnant survival expert capable with lethal combat skills. Although it is nicely shot, the film's climax makes underwhelming use of its large-scale forest fire. For mindless, easily digestible entertainment without a superhero or a space battle, one could do worse than Those Who Wish Me Dead. Just don't expect to remember it in a week. 2.5/5

Cruella (2021, Craig Gillespie)

Equal parts gritty and campy, Cruella is a delight. It successfully reinvents the infamous Disney villain as a heroine we can root for, or at least something resembling that. The real villain of the story is not Ms. De Vil (Emma Stone), but rather Emma Thompson as the over-the-top wicked Baroness, a prestigious fashion designer. Both Emmas are fantastic in their roles. Craig Gillespie's film has a thoroughly winning sense of style, whether it's from the constant '60s and '70s needle drops or the jaw-dropping costumes and makeup. It is nearly as influenced by Scorsese's work as Joker, yet takes inspiration mostly from Goodfellas and has so much fun with it. Cruella is the darkest, weirdest thing to ever come from the Mouse House, and that's worth celebrating. The "I Wanna Be Your Dog" scene deserves to be iconic. 4/5

The Thing (1982, John Carpenter)

As a work of sci-fi and horror, John Carpenter's bleak and preposterously gory The Thing goes above and beyond to deliver everything a fan could possibly want. Taking place in a research center in Antarctica that becomes invaded by a murderous, shape-shifting creature, the atmosphere of terror that the film evokes is as chilly as its the frozen environment itself. Kurt Russell's lead performance as badass helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady is among his finest, while Keith David is superb as Childs, his hot-tempered nemesis. Beloved character actor Wilford Brimley steals his scenes as biologist Dr. Blair.

There is no detail, however minor, of The Thing that is lacking in any capacity. To watch it is the genre film equivalent of listening to Beethoven's 9th or staring at the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Each element of Carpenter's well-oiled machine functions in perfect unison. The dialogue from Bill Lancaster's script sounds irrepressibly cool coming from its pissed-off characters. Ennio Morricone's score contributes enormously to the sense of dread that swells throughout the film. The star of the show, of course, would be the practical effects, which are quite possibly the greatest ever put on the screen. Even the iconic chest-burster from Alien has nothing on the ghastly creatures "the thing" turns its hosts into. Anything negative to be said about The Thing would be a meticulous nitpick and arguably false. Panned upon its 1982 release, it has since been rightfully recognized as a flat-out masterpiece. 5/5

The Ladykillers (1955, Alexander Mackendrick)

Even given my affinity for Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, I went into the original version of The Ladykillers with lowered expectations as a result of how horrendous the Coen Brothers' remake is. I should have never doubted such giants of British comedy, because Alexander Mackendrick's film is practically non-stop hilarity. Having seen the remake first, it was oddly fascinating to watch this one and discover how the Coens followed the same story beats, yet spectacularly bungled it with the worst impulses of broad 2000s humor.

The 1955 film possesses such a dry wit, performed by a wonderful ensemble. Nowhere to be found are Tom Hanks' dreadful southern dandy accent, J.K. Simmons as a tasteless IBS punchline or Marlon Wayans saying "fuck" roughly 475 times. Instead, we get comedy greats doing what they do best, only to be outshone by Katie Johnson as a sweet little old lady who just might be far wiser than she lets on. The Ladykillers is as dark and mean-spirited as its shoddy remake, yet in a fun, lovable way, because Mackendrick isn't punching down with his jokes or vomiting vulgarity at his audience. 4/5

Day of the Dead (1985, George A. Romero)

Though not surprising from horror master George A. Romero, Day of the Dead is an uncommonly profound, cerebral zombie film. It concerns itself more with the human appetite for evil than with the living dead. Deep into an apocalypse and unbound by any rules of law and order, the film's soldiers are bloodthirsty in their abuse of the researchers and civilians with which they share a missile silo. Though the first half is largely set-up, Romero's story moves at a beautiful pace. Tom Savini's effects are amazing. One element that really sets Day of the Dead apart is its semi-sentient, sympathetic zombie character, Bub. Bub is being trained by Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty) as an attempt to civilize the zombies. The bloodbath of the final act is pure gruesome satisfaction for gorehounds such as myself. The most striking image, of course, is Bub's salute. 4.5/5

A Night of the Opera (1935, Sam Wood)

Though it runs out of steam near the end, most of A Night at the Opera is the Marx Brothers firing on all cylinders. Unusual for a Marx film, it has a cohesive, classically structured narrative. More importantly, it offers three of the funniest scenes to be found anywhere. In the first, Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho) and Fiorello (Chico) attempt the careful art of contract negotiation, only to find themselves not liking any of the contract's clauses. The second scene centers on Otis allowing more and more people to crowd into his tiny cabin aboard a passenger ship, and for increasingly ridiculous reasons. (I laughed so hard at the manicure.) Finally, we are treated to an utterly spectacular sequence of physical comedy involving a cop, a chase through a two-room apartment and the maneuvering of four beds. Showcasing the brothers' equal gifts for slapstick and verbal wit, these moments are enough to make any film essential. 4.5/5

To Sleep with Anger (1990, Charles Burnett)

To Sleep with Anger is a beautiful slice-of-life film from LA Rebellion pioneer Charles Burnett. To my knowledge, it is the most polished production he ever got to direct. It is an exceptional accomplishment in intimate, character-based storytelling, a film where the story evolves organically through the characters' behavior rather than hitting a checklist of obligatory plot points. Danny Glover is masterful in his turn as Harry, an old acquaintance who arrives to visit his old friend Gideon (Paul Butler) and proceeds to wreck his life.

This could be the set-up for a zany comedy, but Burnett plays it completely straight. There is something unmistakably sinister lurking beneath Harry's charming facade, something of which Gideon's wife, Suzie (Mary Alice), quickly becomes aware. Especially given the religious themes at play, it is possible to wonder if Harry is Old Scratch himself. The ending shifts gears into a very surprising direction, making the film even deeper in its melancholy examination of middle-class black American life. It is a poetic work that seemingly takes place slightly outside of reality while focusing on a demographic that, at the time, was practically not represented at all in film. 4.5/5

Wag the Dog (1997, Barry Levinson)

After all the genuine scandals and corruption of recent years, the ruthlessly scathing political satire Wag the Dog seems entirely plausible. Maybe it was a stretch in 1997, but there is nothing in Barry Levinson's film, written by David Mamet, that is too ridiculous to happen now. This cannot help making it feel dated, but should a movie be punished for being prescient? No, and certainly not when its leads are two of the greatest actors who ever stepped in front of a camera, backed up by a "who's who" ensemble and given a script dripping with head-spinning wit.

Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro have flawless chemistry in their roles as two con artists (a Hollywood producer and a spin doctor, respectively) trying to bullshit America into a baseless war with Albania a mere eleven days before the election in order to distract from the president's sexual misconduct with an underage girl. With presidential aide Anne Heche on their side, there is no depth to which the unscrupulous trio will not sink in order to keep their guy in office. Taboos regarding the use of certain subjects for comedy are shattered, and from the perspective of indignant satire, none of it feels at all tasteless. The humor comes from how profusely terrible these powerful people are. Even more than that, Wag the Dog casts a spotlight on the stupidity of "the American people" and the ability of corrupt politicians to make large swaths of the population believe absolutely anything. In that regard, the cruel joke is on all of us, because we all suffer as a result. 4/5

Underwater (2020, William Eubank)

Better than it has any reason to be, Underwater is a tense, captivating b-movie set in an underwater research station rapidly filling with water. Kristen Stewart has evolved into a performer who can be counted upon to elevate any film, and she brings her all to her work as determined heroine Norah Price. Gritty and tenacious, it's a role reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver's beloved Ripley from the Alien franchise, which brings to mind how perfect Stewart would be for a future installment of that series. The plot takes a surprising third-act turn that is satisfying and effective.

Really, there is only one major factor holding Underwater back somewhat, and that is the dreadful miscasting of TJ Miller as a member of the crew. Granted, it is impossible to cast Miller properly, as he does nothing well, but his presence here with the usual crass one-liners is especially egregious. When Stewart, Vincent Cassel, and John Gallagher Jr. are among his co-stars, he sticks out like a sore, oafish thumb. Fortunately, he is not the movie's focus, so the amount of damage his presence can do is limited. Otherwise, director William Eubank's film is briskly paced, nice-looking and easily recommendable to action fans. 3.5/5

The Las Vegas Story (1952, Robert Stevenson)

Produced by notorious billionaire crank Howard Hughes, The Las Vegas Story is a cracking noir with a great cast including Jane Russell, Vincent Price, Victor Mature, Brad Dexter and Hoagy Carmichael. As for the twisty plot of gorgeous dame Russell, the men in her life and the ensuing violence ... well, perhaps it's all a bit silly, but Director Robert Stevenson sells it with the right panache. The musical numbers are fun, especially "My Resistance is Low," which closes the film. What really makes The Las Vegas Story notable is its spectacular car-and-helicopter chase, the first in movie history. At least Hughes' money was good for something. 4/5

Caddyshack (1980, Harold Ramis)

Rodney Dangerfield is a comedic force of nature in Caddyshack. Everything the guy says or does in the film is funny. With Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Ted Knight all bringing their A-game as well, the gleefully stupid golf comedy is irresistible. Perhaps I draw the comparison because I've been watching so many Marx Brothers films lately, but I think Harold Ramis' film possesses an anarchic spirit not unlike their work. Numerous scenes have become deeply engrained in pop culture, and yet watching it for the first time was still a joy. Dangerfield says it best: "so what? Let's dance!" 4/5
Misc.
Rosa Luxemburg (1986, Margarethe von Trotta)

It seems like Rosa Luxemburg lived a very interesting life, but you wouldn't know it from Margarethe von Trotta's film bearing her name. The lead performance by von Trotta's frequent collaborator Barbara Sukowa is strong, though it cannot rescue what is a dispassionate, overly restrained film that is more concerned with her personal life than her accomplishments. All three of the director's films that I've seen come off as cold to some degree, but this one is the only one where that serves as a major detriment. Two hours is a perfectly reasonable length for such a film, but given this type of treatment, it seems overlong. 2.5/5

The Ties (2020, Daniele Luchetti)

To be honest, Daniele Luchetti's The Ties was a considerable disappointment. I rented it from the Lincoln Center's virtual cinema because I'm a sucker for a domestic drama. It is easy to imagine a version of this film that could have worked. The one that exists, however, is hampered by flat characterizations and an unnecessarily convoluted presentation of its decades-spanning storyline. 3.5/5

For Lucio (2021, Pietro Marcello)

Following his excellent narrative drama Martin Eden, Pietro Marcello's documentary on Italian singer Lucio Dalla is intimate and artistically presented. Its subject's music is at the forefront, and having never listened to him before, I was quite impressed. The one thing holding me back from loving the film is my feeling that it does not provide enough background on Dalla. Marcello seems to assume that viewers are familiar with the basics, which is likely true in Italy but not in America. 3.5/5

Force of Evil (1948, Abraham Polonsky)

Force of Evil is a reasonably entertaining and intelligently written tale of two brothers on opposing sides in the underground crime world, led by a quality performance from John Garfield. Having said that, it doesn't stand out as an exceptional or unique entry in the noir genre. This leads me to believe that much of its reputation stems from the unfair blacklisting of writer/director Abraham Polonsky due to McCarthyism. The final scene is memorable. 3.5/5

Born in Flames (1983, Lizzie Borden)

Born in Flames is a film that exists on its on wavelength, a lo-fi dystopian sci-fi in which the patriarchy exploits the idea of socialism in order to distract from the real issues plaguing their society. Focused on a revolutionary group of women, Lizzie Borden's film is refreshing in its concept and generally well-executed. For my tastes, it could have been a bit more polished, but it seems unfair to nitpick an ultra-low-budget indie. It is a very thoughtful film, which makes me curious to see Borden's other significant film, Working Girls. 3.5/5

Wandering Girl (2018, Ruben Mendoza)

I was going to give this a slightly higher score, but I mistakenly forgot to review it when I saw it. I now remember virtually nothing about it, and I think that says everything. If a movie is entirely out of one's mind in a matter of three days, it obviously isn't good. 2/5

Vital (2004, Shinya Tsukamoto)

There are interesting ideas in Vital, in which the lead's previously lost memory being jogged by the revelation that his med school class is dissecting his deceased girlfriend, who perished in the car wreck that left him with amnesia. Mostly, however, I felt that it plods along, rarely as gripping as Tsukamoto's A Snake of June. Devoted fans of contemporary Japanese genre flicks seem to appreciate it more. I do not find it to be a bad film, but as someone whose journey into that world is only beginning, it left me as cold as a cadaver on a table. 3/5

Caught (1949, Max Ophuls)

Directed by Max Ophuls during his American period, Caught is a very nice-looking film. Robert Ryan sinks his teeth into a disturbing portrayal of an egomaniacal millionaire (think Howard Hughes) who abuses the woman he married on a whim. More melodrama than noir, the film drags, however, resulting a severely implausible conclusion that left me baffled. As the victimized Leonara, the performance of Barbara Bel Geddes also leaves something to be desired. 3/5

The Rental (2020, Dave Franco)

For his directorial debut, Dave Franco opted to make a banal mumblecore drama of infidelity that gradually morphs into an even more tedious and unoriginal horror film. The Rental plods along for 88 very long minutes, culminating in a laughably anticlimactic ending. The script was co-written by Joe Swanberg. Unlike the best of Swanberg's directorial work, in which the improvised dialogue comes off as effortlessly natural and conversational, this script feels like a stilted attempt to create that type of vibe. Alison Brie plays one of the four hipsters who rent a beach house for a weekend. One cannot escape the feeling that, if the director had been anyone other than her husband, Brie would have rightfully seen such material as being beneath her talents. Franco shows some technical promise as a filmmaker, so my advice would be this: ambiguity only works if the viewer cares what happens in the first place. 2/5

The Bride Who Has Returned from Hell (1965, Chi Hsin)

The Bride Who Has Returned from Hell is a very fun and engaging Taiwanese film with a central mystery that keeps the suspense going. Director Hsin Chi does a great job of building the atmosphere. The original songs on the film's soundtrack are quite nice, though the blatant theft of unaltered pieces of music from Dr. No and Vertigo serves as a weird distraction. The female characters are written in a complex way, with the protagonist being very likable and three-dimensional. This film's restoration is streaming on a Taiwanese YouTube channel (with English subs, of course) until June 10. 3.5/5

Grace (2009, Paul Solet)

Grace is one of those moronic horror films that is an unintentional source of laughter. Nearly everything about this self-serious maternity claptrap is cringeworthy. It is one of those movies that starts with a bad premise and just digs its own grave so much deeper. The only component that is legitimately well-done is the gore, of which there is plenty. The fact that someone honestly thought the epilogue was a good idea is hilarious ... and not in the way that the final "punchline" hopes to be. Unless you have a group of friends to join you in mocking such crap (I didn't), skip it. 1/5
Shorts
Bardo Follies (1967, Owen Land) - 1.5/5
The Beau Brummels (1928, Al Shaw & Sam Lee) - 3.5/5
The Discipline of D.E. (1982, Gus Van Sant) - 4/5
The Film That Rises to the Surface of Clarified Butter (1968, Owen Land) - 2.5/5
The Masquerader (1914, Charlie Chaplin) - 3.5/5

Tusalava (1929, Len Lye) - 4.5/5
Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper (1972, David Rimmer) - 3/5
Water and Labour (1963, Martin Slivka) - 3.5/5
Voyage en Boscavie (1958, Jean Herman & Claude Choubiler) - 2/5
What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963, Martin Scorsese) - 4/5

It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964, Martin Scorsese) - 4/5
Still Processing (2020, Sophy Romvari) - 4/5
Kino-pravda no. 1 (1922, Dziga Vertov) - 3.5/5
2 into 1 (1997, Gillian Wearing) - 3.5/5
In nomine Patris (2019, Jenni Olson) - 3.5/5

Blue Diary (1997, Jenni Olson) - 4.5/5
575 Castro St. (2009, Jenni Olson) - 3.5/5
On the Edge (1949, Curtis Harrington) - 3/5
The Labyrinth 1.0 (2017, Tiona Nekkia McClodden) - 2/5
A Guide to Breathing Underwater (2018, Raven Jackson) - 4/5

Kino-pravda no. 2 (1922, Dziga Vertov) - 3/5
21-87 (1963, Arthur Lipsett) - 4/5
Scheiss-Kerl (1969, Otto Mühl) - what the fuck/5
Kino-pravda no. 7 (1922, Dziga Vertov) - 3/5
Kino-pravda no. 10 (1922, Dziga Vertov) - 3/5

A (1965, Jan Lenica) - 3/5
Shangri-La (2021, Isabel Sandoval) - 4.5/5
A Free Ride (1915, A. Wise Guy) - 3.5/5
Affirmations (1990, Marlon Riggs) - 4.5/5
Mount Head (2002, Koji Yamamura) - 4/5
Last edited by kongs_speech on June 6th, 2021, 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Perception de Ambiguity
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

In sterquiliniis invenitur.
(or: That which we need the most will be found where we least want to look.)


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Bo Burnham: Inside (2021, Bo Burnham) 7+

Spaceship Earth (2020, Matt Wolf) 6+

Crestone (2020, Marnie Ellen Hertzler) 6

The Mafu Cage (1978, Karen Arthur) 6-
On the failure of making a difficult decision that means bestowing temporary suffering upon a beloved person, and the resulting disaster and suffering for many people instead.

It's Murder! (1977, Sam Raimi) 7-

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Pinocchio (1940, by Walt Disney Productions) 5+

Rotkäppchen (1962, Götz Friedrich) 6

Halloween - the first 45 minutes (+8 minutes overwatched) (1978, John Carpenter) (3rd viewing) it rips

Death in Venice / Morte a Venezia / Der Tod in Venedig (1971, Luchino Visconti) (3rd viewing) 8

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Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962, JLG) (2nd viewing) 8 (from 7)
For me a good film is one that makes me feel less alone. This is one such film.


shorts

directed by Matthias Müller:
Aus der Ferne - The Memo Book (1989) 6
Home Stories (1990) (2nd viewing) 6

Ghost Dance (1980, Holly Fisher) 3

Brasília, Contradições de uma Cidade / Brasilia, Contradictions of a New City (1968, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade) 5

The Black Ghiandola (2017, Catherine Hardwicke & Theodore Melfi & Sam Raimi) 1+

music videos

Till Lindemann: Ich hasse Kinder (2021, Serghey Grey) (3+ viewings) 8-

Iggy Pop: Cold Metal (1988, Sam Raimi) 4


other

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1070 - Jordan Peterson (2018) 8

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1159 - Neil deGrasse Tyson (2018) 7+

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1139 - Jordan Peterson (2018) 8

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1208 - Jordan Peterson (2018) 8-
Rogan: "...and I wonder how detrimental that is for us as a whole, because we are constantly dealing with this clickbait nonsense headline, and, you know, everything is a dispute, everything is a war, everything is..."
Peterson: Yeah, well, it's nerve-racking... I've noticed this years ago, because I really stopped watching the news...oh...25 years ago (although I've been heavily involved in it in the last two years) 'cause I noticed that most of what passed for news wasn't. Because my sense was, well, if it isn't important a month from now it was never important, and almost everything that's news is, like, "IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW". And so I try to stay away from that, it was better for my peace of mind, and I often recommend it to my clinical clients who were depressed and anxious that they shield themselves from the news as much as possible."

partly watched Rogans: #1662 Tom Papa (2021), #1661 Rick Doblin (2021), #1659 Scott Eastwood (2021)


series

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth - Ep 1 - "The Hero's Adventure" (1988) 6+
«...or he may kill the dragon power as Siegfried does when he kills the dragon, but then he tastes the dragon blood, that is to say he has to assimilate that power. And when Siegfried has killed the dragon and tasted the blood he hears the song of nature, he has transcended his humanity and re-associated himself with the powers of nature which are the powers of our life, from which our mind removes us. You see, this thing up here [points at his head], this consciousness thinks it's running the shop, [but] it's a secondary organ of a total human being, and it must not put itself in control, it must submit and serve the humanity of the body.»
- Joseph Campbell

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Six fois deux: Sur et sous la communication / Six Times Two: On and Beneath Communication (1976, JLG / Anne-Marie Miéville)
- 3A Photos et cie 5+


didn't finish:

Tenkôsei: Sayonara anata / Switching - Goodbye Me (2007, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi) [43 min] - 43
Kanno kyoshitsu: ai no tekunikk / Excitement Class- Love Techniques (1972, Noboru Tanaka) [22 min]
Umoregi / The Buried Forest (2005, Kôhei Oguri) [17 min]


notable online media

top:
David Lynch's Weather Report 6/1/21
EIGHTHGRADE_gl00bysw0rld082218.mov
Jordan Peterson goes to Burger King at 3AM.
Steven Pinker: Progress, Despite Everything [partly]
The Multiverse with Joe Rogan
[YT channel Shivelight] - highlight: "Lůn – Chamanes (Official Video) {Folktronica | Shamanic | Cinematic | Neofolk}"
LOOK WHERE YOU LEAST WANT TO - Powerful Life Advice | Jordan Peterson
[YT channel "CodPast"] - highlight: "Joe Rogan and Roe Jogan talk Salmon and Bears"
rest:
Nirvana - School / Covered by YOYOKA family (KANEAIYOYOKA) at Home
Do time crystals violate the laws of physics? | Frank Wilczek and Lex Fridman
Mom mistakes PlayStation VR for real life
Werner Herzog on Philosophy of his Films, Cancel Culture, Consumerism & More | Full Video Episode [partly]

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It's better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.
We do not have to understand new things, but by dint of patience, effort and method to come to understand with our whole self the truths which are evident.Image
LETTERBOXD | MUBI | IMDb | tumblr.
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Torgo
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#3

Post by Torgo »

Perception de Ambiguity wrote: June 6th, 2021, 3:50 pm Image
Mh I dunno.


When Strangers Marry (1944) (6/10)
2LDK (2003) (6/10)
The Stranger (1946) (7,5/10)
Dancing With The Birds (2019) (birb/10)
When They See Us (2019) (9/10) <- This was probably the most intense thing I have seen this year. .. or, in a long time. Really.

Also Band of Brothers, but 10 hours is where I make the cut for "rating that works on an IMDb/movie scale" I guess
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Onderhond
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01. 4.0* - Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? [Eri Eri Rema Sabakutani] by Shinji Aoyama (2006)
A very odd Aoyama feature. Part sci-fi, part music film, part drama. It's a full-on arthouse project though, so expect a very deliberate and slow film that isn't too interested in presenting a clear-cut narrative or enjoyable characters. Instead, we're getting harsh noize concerts and tragic cyphers who hardly open up during the course of the film. This won't be everybody's cup of tea, it's by far my favorite Aoyama film, with great performances by Asano and Miyazaki, a superb score and neat cinematography.

02. 3.5* - Wonderful Paradise [Noten Paradise] by Masashi Yamamoto (2020)
What if Project X was an absurd Japanese comedy? Well, then you'd get something like Wonderful Paradise. A dry, madcap and completely absurd film that starts off quite tepid, but picks up steam in the middle and never slows down after that. Needless to say, the finale is quite something. Due to his own mistake, Shuji and his family have to leave their home. His kids aren't too happy with the move and to annoy her father, Akane tweets that everyone is welcome to join their farewell party. The invitation is picked up immediately, and before they know, they have a miniature festival going on in their backyard. The first half hour is quite slow and uneventful, but that's just part of the slowly building crescendo that wreaks havoc in the final hour. There's not a lot that makes sense here and everything is clearly played for laughs. Directors Yamamoto's execution is solid, though I will say that I've seen this done better. Still, if you're in for a hilarious comedy, this one comes well recommended.

03. 3.5* - Cruella by Craig Gillespie (2021)
Disney continues to milk it's stable of villains. The success of Maleficent surely had something to do with it, looking at Cruella it seems we'll see a bunch more in the future. It's not the Disney version of Jokes as some weird souls have suggested, but it's a vibrant, slightly devious take on Cruella DeVil's origin. Estella is a bit different from other girls. Her mom tries to raise her well, but her personality can't be toned down. She gets kicked out of school, messes up a fancy party, inadvertently kills her mom and ends up with two little hoodlums in the middle of London. Trying to make good of her life, she hopes to become big as a fashion designer. The plot is decent but somewhat predictable and it's a bit of a cop-out that Cruella isn't really the villain here, but Stone thrives as Estella/Cruella, Hauser is pretty funny and cinematographer Karakatsanis really knows how to add a little extra flair to the film. The film is much better than it has any right to be, Disney did really well here.

04. 3.5* - A Little Red Flower [Song Ni Yi Duo Xiao Hong Hua] by Yan Han (2020)
I've really liked Yan Han's work so far, but I was a bit worried when I heard he was tackling one of my least favorite (drama) genres. And sure enough, the result is pretty much what I expected it to be. Han's talent is hard to miss, but on an emotional level A Little Red Flower fell a bit short. Yihang Wei is a kid who is faced with the consequences of cancer at a very young age. After a successful operation he tries to pick up his life and things look up when he bumps into Xiaoyuan. After a rocky start, the two quickly become best friends, but tragedy hits when Xiaoyuan also falls ill. Disease-based romance and tragedy has been quite popular in Asia the past decade and this film merely continues that tradition. Han's knack for beautiful visuals is there, and the actors do a pretty solid job, but the story is just a little too sentimental. It's certainly not a bad film, but I expect more from Han.

05. 3.0* - Over the Rainbow, Under the Skirt [Ji De... Xiang Jiao Cheng Shu Shi II: Chu Lian Qing Ren] by Joe Ma (1994)
A surprisingly decent coming of age film. 90s Hong Kong isn't exactly known as a thriving scene for drama cinema, and Joe Ma doesn't really stand out as someone who excells in the genre. Still, Over the Rainbow, Under the Skirt (mind you, it's a sequel, though you can easily watch it as a stand-alone film) was pretty decent. Bobby is at the point where he finally has a girlfriend and is ready to lose his virginity. That's easier said than done, with everyone getting in his way all the time. Things get even more complicated when his dad ends up in the hospital, which gets Bobby worrying if he will ever get to make the next step. Performances are decent, the comedy is light yet amusing and the drama is poignant at times. It's very solid for HK standards, on the other hand this is a pretty standard and expected coming of age flick that goes through the motions without taking any risks. Just a decent film, which is better than I expected it to be.

06. 3.0* - First Kill by Steven C. Miller (2017)
Simple but amusing genre work from Miller. First Kill is one of those film that doesn't even try to do anything out of the ordinary. From the casting to the setting and plot, you've probably seen it all before. First Kill is genre filler in its purest form, the positive here is that Miller did a pretty decent job. A dad takes out his son to spend some time in the wilderness. He's going to learn his boy how to hunt, but after a short hike they run into a scuffle between two guys. One of them shoots the other in cold blood. Though they try to keep out of it, the kid betrays their hiding place, which marks the start of a complicated stand-off. The cast does a decent job (with a somewhat surprising role for Willis), the setting is appealing, and the camera work is nice enough. Miller simply goes through the motions and doesn't do much beyond keeping the plot on the rails, but if you're looking for a decent action/thriller flick, this isn't such a bad choice.

07. 2.5* - Quantum of Solace by Marc Forster (2008)
A surprisingly action-packed Bond film. It's clear that there isn't much place anymore for Bond's goofy side in the modern films, but at least they cut out most of the narrative cruft that made Casino Royale such a tremendous drag. Not that Quantum of Solace is a return to form, but at least it was pretty decent. After being betrayed in the previous film, Bond his asked to keep his emotions out of his job. There's a bit more padding of course, but in the end the plot is always the same: Bond has to chase an evil guy half across the world, while hooking up with some women along the way. Quantum of Solace is no exception. The action is a big step up from the previous film and the first half is pretty explosive. The second part slows down a bit too much, which takes away from the fun. But, major props for keeping it well under 2 hours for a change, a film like this really doesn't need to be any longer. There's definitely some good things here, it's just a shame about the less interesting second half.

08. 2.5* - Ten Tigers of Kwangtung [Guangdong Shi Hu Xing Yi Wu Xi] by Cheh Chang (1980)
One of the later Cheh Chang films. It shows that he was fully settled into the martial arts genre by then, probably a bit too much. Ten Tigers of Kwangtung is a decent Shaw Brow production, but also one that feels quite haphazard and repetitive, more like a best-of than an actual individual film. When the Kwangtung Tigers kill one of Tung's family members, Tung gathers all his nephews and vows to take revenge. The Tigers are a fearsome bunch though and the only way to get to them is to separate them, which is easier said than done. To help them out, Tung calls in the help of 5 Shaolin masters. Expect a slew of familiar Shaw Bros actors doing their usual thing. There's a lot of kicking, punching, hurling weapons at each other and some brutal murders. What there isn't much of is coherence or creativity. I'd probably like this film better if I'd seen it a bit earlier in my exploration of Chang's oeuvre, but as a 60th+ plus film it's just a bit too expected.

09. 2.5* - The Valiant Ones [Zhong Lie Tu] by King Hu (1975)
A more action-focused King Hu film. It's nice to see him do a straight-up martial arts flick for a change, though it does highlight why directors like Cheh Chang took over the genre. Still, the attractive setting (not filmed in a studio) and some pretty solid action scenes makes sure that boredom never set in. The Ming dynasty is dealing with a Chinese-Japanese pirate problem on its south coast. They are hard to battle, and regular military attacks are expensive and inefficient, so they send Yu Dayou, a tactical mastermind, to solve their problem. He quickly discovers that one of the Chinese officials is accepting bribes from the pirates. It's always nice to see a film like this shot on location, Hu is also very capable capturing these lovely settings. Performances aren't too great, luckily there isn't too much drama or narrative. The fight choreography isn't the best either, though the editing is nice and punchy and the short runtime keeps things nice and tight. A solid Hu.

10. 2.0* - Keeping Up with the Joneses by Greg Mottola (2016)
Simple comedy that doesn't take too many chances. It's a bit of an odd niche (the neighbors-are-spies one), but one that never seems to deviate too much from its set path, even though its premise is pretty absurd. Mottola does a decent job here, but fails to make Keeping Up with the Joneses stand out. When the Joneses move into their new house, the people in their neighborhood aren't quite sure how to react to this flashy, worldly couple. Karen doesn't trust the two, but her husband, HR manager Jeff, is pretty taken with Tim Jones and does his best to make them feel at home. The cast does a decent job, with Galifianakis as the obvious stand-out. There are too many jokes that don't fully land, and the action scenes feel somewhat underdeveloped, though the light tone of the film makes it easy to digest. It's certainly not a terrible film, just one that fails to stand out in any way.

11. 2.0* - Stigmatized Properties [Jiko Bukken: Kowai Madori] by Hideo Nakata (2020)
I think Nakata has reached the point where he needs to ask himself if he feels he still has something to add to the horror genre. Stigmatized Properties felt like a 25-year-old film that just happened to be made last year. It is so insanely derivative and uninspired that you have to wonder why Nakata even bothered. After a comical duo disbands their act, one of them lands a job as a TV host, with the other on board as a screenwriter. His job is to seek out haunted houses and spend the night there. He gets lucky on his first job as his camera registers a spirit. He becomes an overnight sensation and before he knows it, he is on his way to his second haunted house. There is a lot of padding here, which isn't very interesting at all. Generic characters and Nakata's tepid direction simply don't support a dramatic narrative. The bigger problem though is that none of the haunts are scary. It's just the same old ghosts and apparitions doing the same old things. The ending gives the film a small boost, other than that this is for the most hardened J-Horror fans only.

12. 2.0* - The Devil Wears Prada by David Frankel (2006)
Not quite as bad as I'd feared, though once the formula starts to settle the film loses a lot of its steam and shine. It's a bit surprising to see this is such a popular film, then again the fashion scene and the casting probably were a perfect match for the film's target audience. Beyond that's, it's all pretty standard. Andrea is hoping to make it big as a serious journalist, but her job interviews don't work out and in the end all that's left for her is a secretary job for one of the biggest fashion magazines in the US. She becomes the assistant of Miranda Priestley, a stone-cold bitch who treats her as dirt, slowly Andrea starts to adjust to her new job. It's a bit of an ugly duckling story with some girl power thrown in at the end. The performances are decent, and the first hour has some rather amusing scenes. The second half is too predictable though and with Frankel playing it safe from start to finish there's really not much here that makes a lasting impression.

13. 2.0* - The Poseidon Adventure by Ronald Neame (1972)
One of the classic disaster movies. It's a pretty simple film, with a relatively short introduction that quickly introduces the characters. The moment of the disaster isn't all that spectacular either, instead the film focuses on a small group of people and their perilous adventure to safety. The Poseidon is a big cruise ship. An earthquake and the subsequent wave put the ship upside down in the water. The survivors have only way thing to do: climb up the decks towards safety. Meanwhile, the film is slowly filling up with water and fires are raging everywhere. And so the survivor countdown begins. Almost all scenes are filmed inside the ship. This could've resulted in a claustrophobic atmosphere, instead, it highlights the stage-like setup and comes off rather fake. There's also a bit too much bickering between the survivors, especially since most of them mistook shouting for acting. A handful of decent scenes make it a passable affair, but if you're after nail-biting suspense, you won't find it here.

14. 2.0* - Performance by Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg (1970)
Roeg's first film is quite the calling card. I'm certainly not his biggest fan and it's no surprise then that Performance wasn't entirely my kind of thing, but it's hard to ignore the vibrancy and talent on display here. Regardless of how you end up feeling about this one, it's certainly a film worth experiencing. Chas is a bit of a hothead. When he kills someone he endangers everyone in his little gang of criminals. And so, Chas has no other choice than to flee, both from the cops and his gangster friends. He ends up with Turner, a strange musician who is working hard on making his comeback. James Fox puts in a pretty solid performance, but it's Roeg's manic visual style that stands out here. It's a little rough around the edges and I don't think it works very well with the score, but the energy is boundless. It's a pretty odd film beyond that, possibly a bit too puzzling for some, but it's certainly worth a shot.

15. 1.5* - Godzilla vs. Kong by Adam Wingard (2021)
The recent Kong reboots were surprisingly fun, the Godzilla reboot on the other hand was a big fluke. It's not the first time these two franchises crossed each other, but the old Kaiju films are hardly a reference for this blockbuster CG fest. Wingard in the director chair was a big question mark too. The plot is a lot of bollocks, but that isn't necessarily problematic. All this film needed to do was bring these two giants together and let them fight it out. It does that rather efficiently, though there's still a little too much fluffy padding, with some little kids thrown into the mix for no apparent reason. The problem with Godzilla vs. Kong is that it's not quite goofy or over the top enough to be fun, neither is it cool nor impressive enough to be a kick-ass blockbuster action flick. No matter how hard Wingard tries to make it big and bold, it all feels rather dull and inconsequential. Disappointing.

16. 1.5* - Blue Thunder by John Badham (1983)
A pretty dim 80s action flick that puts all its eggs in one single basket: its titular helicopter. It's a thing that probably looked quite futuristic in the early 80s, including its "amazing" capabilities, but it's little more than a bit of cheesy hardware nowadays. The same goes for the film itself. Murphy is a veteran Vietnam pilot who ends up becoming the test pilot of a new type of military surveillance helicopter. Though suspicious at first, he quickly learns to love this new hardware. During one of his surveillance missions he uncovers a covert operation, led by one of his old wartime nemeses. The performances are weak, the film looks pretty cheap, the action scenes aren't that exciting and the futuristic hardware fails to impress. At nearly 2 hours, it's also way too long. There's just a basic amount of action/genre fun to be mined from this film, unless you're truly starved for action films, I wouldn't really bother.

17. 1.0* - Scary Movie 3 by David Zucker (2003)
Third part in the infamous Scary Movie franchise. On paper these film should appeal to me. I love a good parody, the barrage of jokes is constant and there's no room for a more dramatic final act. Scary Movie 3 could've been a decent film, if only some of the parodies and jokes would've landed. There's hardly a plot to speak of. The main aim of the parody is The Ring, but Scary Movie 3 also tackles a lot of other franchise (even ones that aren't horror-related, like 8 Mile). There's also a tepid romance in there, but since this film is just about the comedy, it's hardly worth mentioning. The problem is simple: none of this is funny. The jokes are predictable, the comedic timing is horrendous, and overall the execution feels cheap. This film feels like a rush job and even though they managed to land some famous actors for this entry, it comes off as a lazy fan project. Not good.

18. 1.0* - Miss Chic [Fröken Chic] by Hasse Ekman (1959)
A very slow and stuffy Swedish comedy from the late 50s. I had no idea what to expect to be honest, though it aligns pretty well with more modern contemporary Scandinavian comedy. It's quite static, somewhat formal and not particularly funny, just with a strong 50s aesthetic. Isabella is a remarkable TV quiz contender. Buster Carell is a desperate talent scout who sees big bucks in Isabella when he watches her performance on TV. He chases her down like a madman, but Isabella isn't all too willing to lay her future in the hands of Carell. Buster of course won't give up on her that easily. There are a few slapstick moments that break the mold, but they are even less funny than the rest of the film. Performances are rather poor, the plot isn't all that interesting and though the film itself is relatively short, it felt at least twice as long. It's a comedy I simply didn't find funny, and since that's all there is to Miss Chic, the verdict is quite damning.

19. 1.0* - Flubber by Les Mayfield (1997)
Robin Williams is somewhat of an acquired taste, his films aimed at children in particular are a tough sell for adults. Flubber is probably one of the most childish things he did, so unless you're a big Williams fans and/or you're a manic completist, there's no good reason to submit yourself to this one. Professor Brainard and his little robot pall are working hard to find a new source of energy. So hard in fact that he's been missing out on his own wedding. The day of his final attempt, he invents flubber, a squishy substance that has strange and magical powers. The question is: will it be magical enough to save his relationship. The special effects are quite terrible, Williams is grating, the plot is really simplistic and the bad guy ... well, I actually felt bad for him as the film went along. It could be that little kids gets something out of a film like this, then again it'll probably just make their ADD worse than it already is. Pretty horrible.
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hurluberlu
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#5

Post by hurluberlu »

Onderhond wrote: June 6th, 2021, 7:19 pm
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01. 4.0* - Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? [Eri Eri Rema Sabakutani] by Shinji Aoyama (2006)
A very odd Aoyama feature. Part sci-fi, part music film, part drama. It's a full-on arthouse project though, so expect a very deliberate and slow film that isn't too interested in presenting a clear-cut narrative or enjoyable characters. Instead, we're getting harsh noize concerts and tragic cyphers who hardly open up during the course of the film. This won't be everybody's cup of tea, it's by far my favorite Aoyama film, with great performances by Asano and Miyazaki, a superb score and neat cinematography.

02. 3.5* - Wonderful Paradise [Noten Paradise] by Masashi Yamamoto (2020)
What if Project X was an absurd Japanese comedy? Well, then you'd get something like Wonderful Paradise. A dry, madcap and completely absurd film that starts off quite tepid, but picks up steam in the middle and never slows down after that. Needless to say, the finale is quite something. Due to his own mistake, Shuji and his family have to leave their home. His kids aren't too happy with the move and to annoy her father, Akane tweets that everyone is welcome to join their farewell party. The invitation is picked up immediately, and before they know, they have a miniature festival going on in their backyard. The first half hour is quite slow and uneventful, but that's just part of the slowly building crescendo that wreaks havoc in the final hour. There's not a lot that makes sense here and everything is clearly played for laughs. Directors Yamamoto's execution is solid, though I will say that I've seen this done better. Still, if you're in for a hilarious comedy, this one comes well recommended.

03. 3.5* - Cruella by Craig Gillespie (2021)
Disney continues to milk it's stable of villains. The success of Maleficent surely had something to do with it, looking at Cruella it seems we'll see a bunch more in the future. It's not the Disney version of Jokes as some weird souls have suggested, but it's a vibrant, slightly devious take on Cruella DeVil's origin. Estella is a bit different from other girls. Her mom tries to raise her well, but her personality can't be toned down. She gets kicked out of school, messes up a fancy party, inadvertently kills her mom and ends up with two little hoodlums in the middle of London. Trying to make good of her life, she hopes to become big as a fashion designer. The plot is decent but somewhat predictable and it's a bit of a cop-out that Cruella isn't really the villain here, but Stone thrives as Estella/Cruella, Hauser is pretty funny and cinematographer Karakatsanis really knows how to add a little extra flair to the film. The film is much better than it has any right to be, Disney did really well here.

04. 3.5* - A Little Red Flower [Song Ni Yi Duo Xiao Hong Hua] by Yan Han (2020)
I've really liked Yan Han's work so far, but I was a bit worried when I heard he was tackling one of my least favorite (drama) genres. And sure enough, the result is pretty much what I expected it to be. Han's talent is hard to miss, but on an emotional level A Little Red Flower fell a bit short. Yihang Wei is a kid who is faced with the consequences of cancer at a very young age. After a successful operation he tries to pick up his life and things look up when he bumps into Xiaoyuan. After a rocky start, the two quickly become best friends, but tragedy hits when Xiaoyuan also falls ill. Disease-based romance and tragedy has been quite popular in Asia the past decade and this film merely continues that tradition. Han's knack for beautiful visuals is there, and the actors do a pretty solid job, but the story is just a little too sentimental. It's certainly not a bad film, but I expect more from Han.

05. 3.0* - Over the Rainbow, Under the Skirt [Ji De... Xiang Jiao Cheng Shu Shi II: Chu Lian Qing Ren] by Joe Ma (1994)
A surprisingly decent coming of age film. 90s Hong Kong isn't exactly known as a thriving scene for drama cinema, and Joe Ma doesn't really stand out as someone who excells in the genre. Still, Over the Rainbow, Under the Skirt (mind you, it's a sequel, though you can easily watch it as a stand-alone film) was pretty decent. Bobby is at the point where he finally has a girlfriend and is ready to lose his virginity. That's easier said than done, with everyone getting in his way all the time. Things get even more complicated when his dad ends up in the hospital, which gets Bobby worrying if he will ever get to make the next step. Performances are decent, the comedy is light yet amusing and the drama is poignant at times. It's very solid for HK standards, on the other hand this is a pretty standard and expected coming of age flick that goes through the motions without taking any risks. Just a decent film, which is better than I expected it to be.

06. 3.0* - First Kill by Steven C. Miller (2017)
Simple but amusing genre work from Miller. First Kill is one of those film that doesn't even try to do anything out of the ordinary. From the casting to the setting and plot, you've probably seen it all before. First Kill is genre filler in its purest form, the positive here is that Miller did a pretty decent job. A dad takes out his son to spend some time in the wilderness. He's going to learn his boy how to hunt, but after a short hike they run into a scuffle between two guys. One of them shoots the other in cold blood. Though they try to keep out of it, the kid betrays their hiding place, which marks the start of a complicated stand-off. The cast does a decent job (with a somewhat surprising role for Willis), the setting is appealing, and the camera work is nice enough. Miller simply goes through the motions and doesn't do much beyond keeping the plot on the rails, but if you're looking for a decent action/thriller flick, this isn't such a bad choice.

07. 2.5* - Quantum of Solace by Marc Forster (2008)
A surprisingly action-packed Bond film. It's clear that there isn't much place anymore for Bond's goofy side in the modern films, but at least they cut out most of the narrative cruft that made Casino Royale such a tremendous drag. Not that Quantum of Solace is a return to form, but at least it was pretty decent. After being betrayed in the previous film, Bond his asked to keep his emotions out of his job. There's a bit more padding of course, but in the end the plot is always the same: Bond has to chase an evil guy half across the world, while hooking up with some women along the way. Quantum of Solace is no exception. The action is a big step up from the previous film and the first half is pretty explosive. The second part slows down a bit too much, which takes away from the fun. But, major props for keeping it well under 2 hours for a change, a film like this really doesn't need to be any longer. There's definitely some good things here, it's just a shame about the less interesting second half.

08. 2.5* - Ten Tigers of Kwangtung [Guangdong Shi Hu Xing Yi Wu Xi] by Cheh Chang (1980)
One of the later Cheh Chang films. It shows that he was fully settled into the martial arts genre by then, probably a bit too much. Ten Tigers of Kwangtung is a decent Shaw Brow production, but also one that feels quite haphazard and repetitive, more like a best-of than an actual individual film. When the Kwangtung Tigers kill one of Tung's family members, Tung gathers all his nephews and vows to take revenge. The Tigers are a fearsome bunch though and the only way to get to them is to separate them, which is easier said than done. To help them out, Tung calls in the help of 5 Shaolin masters. Expect a slew of familiar Shaw Bros actors doing their usual thing. There's a lot of kicking, punching, hurling weapons at each other and some brutal murders. What there isn't much of is coherence or creativity. I'd probably like this film better if I'd seen it a bit earlier in my exploration of Chang's oeuvre, but as a 60th+ plus film it's just a bit too expected.

09. 2.5* - The Valiant Ones [Zhong Lie Tu] by King Hu (1975)
A more action-focused King Hu film. It's nice to see him do a straight-up martial arts flick for a change, though it does highlight why directors like Cheh Chang took over the genre. Still, the attractive setting (not filmed in a studio) and some pretty solid action scenes makes sure that boredom never set in. The Ming dynasty is dealing with a Chinese-Japanese pirate problem on its south coast. They are hard to battle, and regular military attacks are expensive and inefficient, so they send Yu Dayou, a tactical mastermind, to solve their problem. He quickly discovers that one of the Chinese officials is accepting bribes from the pirates. It's always nice to see a film like this shot on location, Hu is also very capable capturing these lovely settings. Performances aren't too great, luckily there isn't too much drama or narrative. The fight choreography isn't the best either, though the editing is nice and punchy and the short runtime keeps things nice and tight. A solid Hu.

10. 2.0* - Keeping Up with the Joneses by Greg Mottola (2016)
Simple comedy that doesn't take too many chances. It's a bit of an odd niche (the neighbors-are-spies one), but one that never seems to deviate too much from its set path, even though its premise is pretty absurd. Mottola does a decent job here, but fails to make Keeping Up with the Joneses stand out. When the Joneses move into their new house, the people in their neighborhood aren't quite sure how to react to this flashy, worldly couple. Karen doesn't trust the two, but her husband, HR manager Jeff, is pretty taken with Tim Jones and does his best to make them feel at home. The cast does a decent job, with Galifianakis as the obvious stand-out. There are too many jokes that don't fully land, and the action scenes feel somewhat underdeveloped, though the light tone of the film makes it easy to digest. It's certainly not a terrible film, just one that fails to stand out in any way.

11. 2.0* - Stigmatized Properties [Jiko Bukken: Kowai Madori] by Hideo Nakata (2020)
I think Nakata has reached the point where he needs to ask himself if he feels he still has something to add to the horror genre. Stigmatized Properties felt like a 25-year-old film that just happened to be made last year. It is so insanely derivative and uninspired that you have to wonder why Nakata even bothered. After a comical duo disbands their act, one of them lands a job as a TV host, with the other on board as a screenwriter. His job is to seek out haunted houses and spend the night there. He gets lucky on his first job as his camera registers a spirit. He becomes an overnight sensation and before he knows it, he is on his way to his second haunted house. There is a lot of padding here, which isn't very interesting at all. Generic characters and Nakata's tepid direction simply don't support a dramatic narrative. The bigger problem though is that none of the haunts are scary. It's just the same old ghosts and apparitions doing the same old things. The ending gives the film a small boost, other than that this is for the most hardened J-Horror fans only.

12. 2.0* - The Devil Wears Prada by David Frankel (2006)
Not quite as bad as I'd feared, though once the formula starts to settle the film loses a lot of its steam and shine. It's a bit surprising to see this is such a popular film, then again the fashion scene and the casting probably were a perfect match for the film's target audience. Beyond that's, it's all pretty standard. Andrea is hoping to make it big as a serious journalist, but her job interviews don't work out and in the end all that's left for her is a secretary job for one of the biggest fashion magazines in the US. She becomes the assistant of Miranda Priestley, a stone-cold bitch who treats her as dirt, slowly Andrea starts to adjust to her new job. It's a bit of an ugly duckling story with some girl power thrown in at the end. The performances are decent, and the first hour has some rather amusing scenes. The second half is too predictable though and with Frankel playing it safe from start to finish there's really not much here that makes a lasting impression.

13. 2.0* - The Poseidon Adventure by Ronald Neame (1972)
One of the classic disaster movies. It's a pretty simple film, with a relatively short introduction that quickly introduces the characters. The moment of the disaster isn't all that spectacular either, instead the film focuses on a small group of people and their perilous adventure to safety. The Poseidon is a big cruise ship. An earthquake and the subsequent wave put the ship upside down in the water. The survivors have only way thing to do: climb up the decks towards safety. Meanwhile, the film is slowly filling up with water and fires are raging everywhere. And so the survivor countdown begins. Almost all scenes are filmed inside the ship. This could've resulted in a claustrophobic atmosphere, instead, it highlights the stage-like setup and comes off rather fake. There's also a bit too much bickering between the survivors, especially since most of them mistook shouting for acting. A handful of decent scenes make it a passable affair, but if you're after nail-biting suspense, you won't find it here.

14. 2.0* - Performance by Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg (1970)
Roeg's first film is quite the calling card. I'm certainly not his biggest fan and it's no surprise then that Performance wasn't entirely my kind of thing, but it's hard to ignore the vibrancy and talent on display here. Regardless of how you end up feeling about this one, it's certainly a film worth experiencing. Chas is a bit of a hothead. When he kills someone he endangers everyone in his little gang of criminals. And so, Chas has no other choice than to flee, both from the cops and his gangster friends. He ends up with Turner, a strange musician who is working hard on making his comeback. James Fox puts in a pretty solid performance, but it's Roeg's manic visual style that stands out here. It's a little rough around the edges and I don't think it works very well with the score, but the energy is boundless. It's a pretty odd film beyond that, possibly a bit too puzzling for some, but it's certainly worth a shot.

15. 1.5* - Godzilla vs. Kong by Adam Wingard (2021)
The recent Kong reboots were surprisingly fun, the Godzilla reboot on the other hand was a big fluke. It's not the first time these two franchises crossed each other, but the old Kaiju films are hardly a reference for this blockbuster CG fest. Wingard in the director chair was a big question mark too. The plot is a lot of bollocks, but that isn't necessarily problematic. All this film needed to do was bring these two giants together and let them fight it out. It does that rather efficiently, though there's still a little too much fluffy padding, with some little kids thrown into the mix for no apparent reason. The problem with Godzilla vs. Kong is that it's not quite goofy or over the top enough to be fun, neither is it cool nor impressive enough to be a kick-ass blockbuster action flick. No matter how hard Wingard tries to make it big and bold, it all feels rather dull and inconsequential. Disappointing.

16. 1.5* - Blue Thunder by John Badham (1983)
A pretty dim 80s action flick that puts all its eggs in one single basket: its titular helicopter. It's a thing that probably looked quite futuristic in the early 80s, including its "amazing" capabilities, but it's little more than a bit of cheesy hardware nowadays. The same goes for the film itself. Murphy is a veteran Vietnam pilot who ends up becoming the test pilot of a new type of military surveillance helicopter. Though suspicious at first, he quickly learns to love this new hardware. During one of his surveillance missions he uncovers a covert operation, led by one of his old wartime nemeses. The performances are weak, the film looks pretty cheap, the action scenes aren't that exciting and the futuristic hardware fails to impress. At nearly 2 hours, it's also way too long. There's just a basic amount of action/genre fun to be mined from this film, unless you're truly starved for action films, I wouldn't really bother.

17. 1.0* - Scary Movie 3 by David Zucker (2003)
Third part in the infamous Scary Movie franchise. On paper these film should appeal to me. I love a good parody, the barrage of jokes is constant and there's no room for a more dramatic final act. Scary Movie 3 could've been a decent film, if only some of the parodies and jokes would've landed. There's hardly a plot to speak of. The main aim of the parody is The Ring, but Scary Movie 3 also tackles a lot of other franchise (even ones that aren't horror-related, like 8 Mile). There's also a tepid romance in there, but since this film is just about the comedy, it's hardly worth mentioning. The problem is simple: none of this is funny. The jokes are predictable, the comedic timing is horrendous, and overall the execution feels cheap. This film feels like a rush job and even though they managed to land some famous actors for this entry, it comes off as a lazy fan project. Not good.

18. 1.0* - Miss Chic [Fröken Chic] by Hasse Ekman (1959)
A very slow and stuffy Swedish comedy from the late 50s. I had no idea what to expect to be honest, though it aligns pretty well with more modern contemporary Scandinavian comedy. It's quite static, somewhat formal and not particularly funny, just with a strong 50s aesthetic. Isabella is a remarkable TV quiz contender. Buster Carell is a desperate talent scout who sees big bucks in Isabella when he watches her performance on TV. He chases her down like a madman, but Isabella isn't all too willing to lay her future in the hands of Carell. Buster of course won't give up on her that easily. There are a few slapstick moments that break the mold, but they are even less funny than the rest of the film. Performances are rather poor, the plot isn't all that interesting and though the film itself is relatively short, it felt at least twice as long. It's a comedy I simply didn't find funny, and since that's all there is to Miss Chic, the verdict is quite damning.

19. 1.0* - Flubber by Les Mayfield (1997)
Robin Williams is somewhat of an acquired taste, his films aimed at children in particular are a tough sell for adults. Flubber is probably one of the most childish things he did, so unless you're a big Williams fans and/or you're a manic completist, there's no good reason to submit yourself to this one. Professor Brainard and his little robot pall are working hard to find a new source of energy. So hard in fact that he's been missing out on his own wedding. The day of his final attempt, he invents flubber, a squishy substance that has strange and magical powers. The question is: will it be magical enough to save his relationship. The special effects are quite terrible, Williams is grating, the plot is really simplistic and the bad guy ... well, I actually felt bad for him as the film went along. It could be that little kids gets something out of a film like this, then again it'll probably just make their ADD worse than it already is. Pretty horrible.
And Mandibules ?
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hurluberlu wrote: June 6th, 2021, 7:44 pm And Mandibules ?
You can find out all about Mandibles next week!
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Perception de Ambiguity wrote: June 6th, 2021, 3:50 pm Bo Burnham: Inside (2021, Bo Burnham) 7+

Halloween - the first 45 minutes (+8 minutes overwatched) (1978, John Carpenter) (3rd viewing) it rips

Death in Venice / Morte a Venezia / Der Tod in Venedig (1971, Luchino Visconti) (3rd viewing) 8

Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962, JLG) (2nd viewing) 8 (from 7)
Haven't seen the Bo yet, but I'm a longtime fan since his early YouTube days, and I've been hearing nothing but praise.

Halloween is great and all, but I'm weird in preferring what Rob Zombie did with it. I really appreciate the fleshing out of Michael Myers. For me, knowing the origins of that guy makes him even scarier. That said, I prefer Zombie's Halloween II to either of them. Brilliant film on trauma.

I will rewatch Death in Venice one day, but my initial viewing last year practically bored me to sleep. I generally like Visconti, with Conversation Piece being a 5/5.

Vivre sa vie is top-shelf Godard. He's my favorite director, so that's high praise.
Torgo wrote: June 6th, 2021, 4:06 pm When Strangers Marry (1944) (6/10)
2LDK (2003) (6/10)
The Stranger (1946) (7,5/10)
Dancing With The Birds (2019) (birb/10)
When They See Us (2019) (9/10) <- This was probably the most intense thing I have seen this year. .. or, in a long time. Really.

Also Band of Brothers, but 10 hours is where I make the cut for "rating that works on an IMDb/movie scale" I guess
Haven't seen any of your stuff, but I hope you had a good week! :cheers:
Onderhond wrote: June 6th, 2021, 7:19 pm 01. 4.0* - Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? [Eri Eri Rema Sabakutani] by Shinji Aoyama (2006)
A very odd Aoyama feature. Part sci-fi, part music film, part drama. It's a full-on arthouse project though, so expect a very deliberate and slow film that isn't too interested in presenting a clear-cut narrative or enjoyable characters. Instead, we're getting harsh noize concerts and tragic cyphers who hardly open up during the course of the film. This won't be everybody's cup of tea, it's by far my favorite Aoyama film, with great performances by Asano and Miyazaki, a superb score and neat cinematography.

03. 3.5* - Cruella by Craig Gillespie (2021)
Disney continues to milk it's stable of villains. The success of Maleficent surely had something to do with it, looking at Cruella it seems we'll see a bunch more in the future. It's not the Disney version of Jokes as some weird souls have suggested, but it's a vibrant, slightly devious take on Cruella DeVil's origin. Estella is a bit different from other girls. Her mom tries to raise her well, but her personality can't be toned down. She gets kicked out of school, messes up a fancy party, inadvertently kills her mom and ends up with two little hoodlums in the middle of London. Trying to make good of her life, she hopes to become big as a fashion designer. The plot is decent but somewhat predictable and it's a bit of a cop-out that Cruella isn't really the villain here, but Stone thrives as Estella/Cruella, Hauser is pretty funny and cinematographer Karakatsanis really knows how to add a little extra flair to the film. The film is much better than it has any right to be, Disney did really well here.

12. 2.0* - The Devil Wears Prada by David Frankel (2006)
Not quite as bad as I'd feared, though once the formula starts to settle the film loses a lot of its steam and shine. It's a bit surprising to see this is such a popular film, then again the fashion scene and the casting probably were a perfect match for the film's target audience. Beyond that's, it's all pretty standard. Andrea is hoping to make it big as a serious journalist, but her job interviews don't work out and in the end all that's left for her is a secretary job for one of the biggest fashion magazines in the US. She becomes the assistant of Miranda Priestley, a stone-cold bitch who treats her as dirt, slowly Andrea starts to adjust to her new job. It's a bit of an ugly duckling story with some girl power thrown in at the end. The performances are decent, and the first hour has some rather amusing scenes. The second half is too predictable though and with Frankel playing it safe from start to finish there's really not much here that makes a lasting impression.

14. 2.0* - Performance by Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg (1970)
Roeg's first film is quite the calling card. I'm certainly not his biggest fan and it's no surprise then that Performance wasn't entirely my kind of thing, but it's hard to ignore the vibrancy and talent on display here. Regardless of how you end up feeling about this one, it's certainly a film worth experiencing. Chas is a bit of a hothead. When he kills someone he endangers everyone in his little gang of criminals. And so, Chas has no other choice than to flee, both from the cops and his gangster friends. He ends up with Turner, a strange musician who is working hard on making his comeback. James Fox puts in a pretty solid performance, but it's Roeg's manic visual style that stands out here. It's a little rough around the edges and I don't think it works very well with the score, but the energy is boundless. It's a pretty odd film beyond that, possibly a bit too puzzling for some, but it's certainly worth a shot.

15. 1.5* - Godzilla vs. Kong by Adam Wingard (2021)
The recent Kong reboots were surprisingly fun, the Godzilla reboot on the other hand was a big fluke. It's not the first time these two franchises crossed each other, but the old Kaiju films are hardly a reference for this blockbuster CG fest. Wingard in the director chair was a big question mark too. The plot is a lot of bollocks, but that isn't necessarily problematic. All this film needed to do was bring these two giants together and let them fight it out. It does that rather efficiently, though there's still a little too much fluffy padding, with some little kids thrown into the mix for no apparent reason. The problem with Godzilla vs. Kong is that it's not quite goofy or over the top enough to be fun, neither is it cool nor impressive enough to be a kick-ass blockbuster action flick. No matter how hard Wingard tries to make it big and bold, it all feels rather dull and inconsequential. Disappointing.

17. 1.0* - Scary Movie 3 by David Zucker (2003)
Third part in the infamous Scary Movie franchise. On paper these film should appeal to me. I love a good parody, the barrage of jokes is constant and there's no room for a more dramatic final act. Scary Movie 3 could've been a decent film, if only some of the parodies and jokes would've landed. There's hardly a plot to speak of. The main aim of the parody is The Ring, but Scary Movie 3 also tackles a lot of other franchise (even ones that aren't horror-related, like 8 Mile). There's also a tepid romance in there, but since this film is just about the comedy, it's hardly worth mentioning. The problem is simple: none of this is funny. The jokes are predictable, the comedic timing is horrendous, and overall the execution feels cheap. This film feels like a rush job and even though they managed to land some famous actors for this entry, it comes off as a lazy fan project. Not good.

19. 1.0* - Flubber by Les Mayfield (1997)
Robin Williams is somewhat of an acquired taste, his films aimed at children in particular are a tough sell for adults. Flubber is probably one of the most childish things he did, so unless you're a big Williams fans and/or you're a manic completist, there's no good reason to submit yourself to this one. Professor Brainard and his little robot pall are working hard to find a new source of energy. So hard in fact that he's been missing out on his own wedding. The day of his final attempt, he invents flubber, a squishy substance that has strange and magical powers. The question is: will it be magical enough to save his relationship. The special effects are quite terrible, Williams is grating, the plot is really simplistic and the bad guy ... well, I actually felt bad for him as the film went along. It could be that little kids gets something out of a film like this, then again it'll probably just make their ADD worse than it already is. Pretty horrible.
I need to see more Aoyama sometime. Eureka is stunning.

I knew I would like Cruella, but it really impressed me more than I expected. I got basically everything I wanted from it.

The Devil Wears Prada isn't my kind of thing. I'm a fan of Streep, Hathaway, Blunt and Tucci, yet I feel that the movie is very meh. Probably a 2.5 for me, 3 if I'm being generous.

I really dug Performance, but I need to revisit it.

I agree with what you said about Godzilla vs. Kong. I hated it. #NotAllKongs

I like Scary Movie 3 and the first one. Loathe 2 and 4. Will most likely never bother to see 5, because they couldn't even get Anna Faris back.

I bought Flubber a few years ago because I loved it as a kid. Haven't given it a spin yet. It probably sucks, but the DVD was cheap. :lol:
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kongs_speech wrote: June 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm Haven't seen any of your stuff, but I hope you had a good week! :cheers:
You really should When They See Us a watch one day. It's a mini-series - less than 5 hours - in 4 episodes, rather feeling like 2 1/2 films than "just some TV/streaming". I didn't appreciate Selma that much 5 years ago and now will carefully follow Ava DuVernay's next steps.
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Torgo wrote: June 6th, 2021, 9:40 pm
kongs_speech wrote: June 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm Haven't seen any of your stuff, but I hope you had a good week! :cheers:
You really should When They See Us a watch one day. It's a mini-series - less than 5 hours - in 4 episodes, rather feeling like 2 1/2 films than "just some TV/streaming". I didn't appreciate Selma that much 5 years ago and now will carefully follow Ava DuVernay's next steps.
Noted!
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@kongs speech: seen quite a few of yours along with a couple I've been meaning to see for a long time.

Papillon: For a prison escape movie based on a true story I found it pretty boring overall.
MASH: This one left me cold, the humour was definitely of its time and didn't work for me. Never watched the TV show either.
The Damned: Memory's a little hazy on this one but I felt like it was inferior to some of Visconti's best films, been meaning to rewatch it.
Horse Feathers/Monkey Business/Night at the Opera: I love the Marx Brothers :banana: Groucho said the films with MGM were their best films, partly from the bigger budgets and production values but I think the increased musical numbers and romantic subplots detracted from their humour. I'd say "Duck Soup" is their best film with "Night at the Opera" in second, but after "Day at the Races" their films drop in quality ("Room Service" is horrendously unfunny).
Happy Together Quick rule of thumb: if Christopher Doyle is the cinematographer it's supposed to look visually breathtaking B)
The Thing Horror is one of my least favourite genres but I quite enjoyed The Thing, just as if not better than the original.
The Ladykillers Very enjoyable Ealing Comedy, Katie Johnson indeed steals the entire film. Haven't seen the Coens' remake but a while ago there was talk of remaking "Kind Hearts and Coronets" with Will Smith as Dennis Price and Robin Williams playing Sir Alec Guinness' roles, thankfully it fell through.
Caught Definitely lesser Ophuls, think "Reckless Moment" was a little better but he made his best films in France.

@PdA

Pinocchio A couple steps below "Snow White" and "Fantasia".
Death in Venice Pretty good rendering of Thomas Mann's novella but I know Visconti's lingering shots of the young boy are pretty creepy.
Vivre sa Vie Never been a big Godard fan, this one was alright I guess.

@Onderhand

PerformanceI'm not a big Roeg fan either and didn't care for Performance much.
Scary Movie 3 I saw this in the cinema back in the day, I was young and ignorant (well more ignorant)....



As for me it was a long week of Japanese rewatches with a few Hollywood flicks thrown into the mix:

Fires on the Plain (1959): War films were becoming grittier and harsher by the end of the 50s, "Fires on the Plain" is a pretty bleak look at the Japanese effort in the Philippines near the end of the war. The TB-suffering Pvt. Tamura wanders across the landscape in a daze as the Japanese position deteriorates: running low on food, supplies and morale as the Americans close in. To increase the realism the cast members ate very little food and did little to no bathing to achieve the haggard, spaced-out look: during filming the lead actor collapsed and production had to be halted for a couple weeks. The lack of action set pieces is a boon to the film since the few remaining ones aren't the smoothest edited, the film makes up for it in spades with its nihilistic tone and permanent dread of impending death. Complete contrast to the sentimental "Burmese Harp" released a couple years before, "Fires on the Plain" is one of Kon Ichikawa's finest films, I even prefer it to the Human Condition Trilogy.

Assassination (1964): A beautifully framed and pretty confusing story of an enigmatic ronin in 1860s Japan playing the Emperor and Shogun against one another. The story is largely told through lengthy flashbacks building up an incomplete hero with lots of conflicting evidence. Released the same year as "Pale Flower", the framing and lighting are even better and the soundtrack is great too, you might have some trouble keeping track of all the characters and the power plays.

Mr Deeds Goes to Town (1936): I didn't think it was possible but I found a Capra movie even worse than "You can't take it with you". Gary Cooper plays a country bumpkin who inherits a fortune and struggles to adapt to life in NYC, all the rich folk want to squeeze him for every penny but he's too savvy to fall for their tricks. Meanwhile Jean Arthur falls in love with his simple charms but she's been writing newspaper articles about him which have damaged his reputation. Gary Cooper tries hard but Mr. Deeds is too thinly drawn and his penchant for punching everyone who gets on his nerves isn't exactly endearing to the audience. Rest of the cast don't fare much better and the whole thing is just blandly unfunny until the lengthy courtroom scene at the end, ludicrous from awful start to horribly contrived, pathetically predictable end.

Women are Born Twice (1961): Ayako Wakao is a poor geisha with several clients looking for a ticket out of her destitute lifestyle, she falls for the elderly So Yamamura but can't quite break free from old habits. It's a decent if disjointed film a couple notches below other films on the same subject.

Meet John Doe (1941): I must be a masochist to watch another Capra-corn film after Mr. Deeds but this one wasn't the worst film in the world, though it does have some extremely awful moments. Near Christmas Barbara Stanwyck writes a fake news article about a guy called John Doe wanting to kill himself as a protest, when the wider public sympathises with the non-existent man she has to find an imposter to fit the bill. Gary Cooper winds up sparking an entire political movement that threatens the establishment until they try to put a stop to him. I never bought into the gullible public rallying behind an ordinary man or Walter Huston's preachy speeches rallying against anyone ever owning a bank account, the whole film rings false all the way through to its studio-approved ending. Safe to say this is the worst Capra film about a man wanting to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, but not his worst film overall. There, I said something nice about Frank Capra.

Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939): The first truly great film from Kenji Mizoguchi is an ordinary melodrama about the cosseted son of a famous kabuki actor going it alone to improve his craft on his own terms, supported by the lower-class woman he loves. With an average shot length of 59 seconds you see Mizoguchi's love of tracking shots and long takes with very few close-ups at all, the actors do their acting with their entire bodies instead of relying on extreme-close-ups and tearjerking music; one devastating scene near the end is a textbook example of a moving dramatic scene with a still camera. Excellent.

Brighton Rock (1948): Shot on location in Brighton, Richard Attenborough plays a hoodlum sensing his time is up, looking for a way out and a bit of stability. Some nice noirish photography and a good performance by David's brother makes this an above average noir thriller.

Life of Oharu (1952): The film that made Kenji Mizoguchi's international reputation, a personal pet project and winner of the Silver Lion at Venice. Rewatching it after several years I have to say this is one of his weakest films of the 50s. The story is largely told in flashback as 42-year old Kinuyo Tanaka plays Oharu from the age of 17 up to 50, starting off as a lady-in-waiting at Kyoto, she falls for a young retainer (Toshiro Mifune in a small role) and is subsequently exiled along with her family. From there the film throws every single clichéd catastrophe that could befall her, the film becomes needlessly bleak and rather predictable: everytime something good happens to Oharu you start thinking "how is this going to backfire on her?" The tracking shots and costumes are lovely and everything else about the film is pretty good, the story just can't hide its melodramatic clichés.

Chikamatsu Monogatari (1954):Osan (Kyoko Kagawa) is the noble wife of a master printer, she asks his employee Mohei (Kazuo Hasegawa) for money to save her impoverished brother. Once accusations of fraud and adultery are thrown at the pair they run away together. Fearful of their lives and hating the situation, Osan and Mohei wind up falling for each other for real. Another period drama commenting on the miserly merchant class and strict rules of society, it's a very good 1954 film from Kenji Mizoguchi on par with Sansho the Bailiff made the same year.

A Page of Madness (1926): Made under a short-lived independent film company by a group of modernist screenwriters including future Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata, Teinosuke Kinugasa directs this frenetically experimental film with echoes of Dr. Caligari, Jean Epstein and The Last Laugh. A man takes a job in an insane asylum to be nearer his wife (a patient), some truly breathtaking sequences makes this essential silent viewing even if it's a little hard to follow at times.

Early Summer (1951): Whereas "Late Spring" and "Tokyo Story" are weepier and more powerful, the lighter and more evenly balanced "Early Summer" is my favourite of the Noriko Trilogy. It's focused on three generations living in the same house until the family is inevitably broken up at the end. Among the characters are the elderly grandparents reasonably happy with their lot except for their unmarried daughter Noriko (Setsuko Hara), their eldest son (Chishu Ryu) is a doctor married with two young mischievous boys but is feeling the strain as head of the household and having to convince his modern sister to get married. What it sacrifices in character depth it provides in character interaction and relationships: Setsuko Hara along with her single friend have lots of fun teasing their married friends; the two young boys are obsessed with their train set and give their family a big headache; one family friend (Haruko Sugimura) thinks her widowed son ought to remarry. There's plenty of poignant moments to complement the humour, a thoroughly entertaining film and my favourite Ozu.

Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937): Sadao Yamanaka's tale of a close-knit neighbourhood suffering from gangs, seen through the eyes of two characters: an impoverished samurai and an inveterate gambler. Keeping track of all the different characters can be difficult at times, there's enough humour and pathos to keep you entertained in this brisk watch. The story was so pessimistic Yamanaka lost his military exemption and was sent to Manchuria, dying one year later in hospital.

Street of Shame (1956): Kenji Mizoguchi's final film covers a contemporary brothel and the lives of several prostitutes as an anti-prostitution bill is brought forward. Machiko Kyo and Ayako Wakao are the highlights in this stark(ish) portrayal of the oldest profession. In real life prostitution was outlawed in Japan that very year, this film was considered a catalyst in that respect. Overall it's a pretty good Mizoguchi even if later directors would cover similar ground in far harsher terms.

Tokyo Twilight (1957): Ozu's last black-and-white film is a pretty long melodrama with noirish lighting and a bleak tone. Chishu Ryu lives with his two daughters: Setsuko Hara is currently separated from her husband and takes care of their 2 year old daughter; Ineko Arima is the younger more modern daughter and bit of a wild one. The plot thickens when their mother Isuzu Yamada returns after several years (she ran off with another man when Ineko was just 3 years old). Pretty decent Ozu too long in places.

Pigs and Battleships (1961): Pretty entertaining flick from Shohei Imamura about life near an American Naval base, a low-level hoodlum wants to become a yakuza to the annoyance of his barmaid girlfriend who wants a steady life elsewhere, but he doesn't want to be a wageslave in a boring factory. The crime gang itself is tearing itself apart with lots of double-crossings and unkept promises of future bonuses and perks. Everything comes to ahead near the end with a machine gun and lots of pigs. Lots of cynical, bleak fun which is neither pro or anti-American.

Big Combo (1955): A sub-par film noir about a police officer trying to find dirt on a crime boss. Apart from some nice photography by John Alton and a good villainous turn by Richard Conte, the story is too boring and most of the acting is subpar for it to gain any real traction.

Onibaba (1964): Set in 14th century Japan and inspired by a Buddhist parable, an old woman and her daughter live amongst silver reeds by a river as a civil war rages across Japan, they kill any samurai wandering into their path and sell the armour and swords for money and food. As the daughter becomes attracted to another man, the old woman - fearful of losing her daughter - resorts to desperate measures. Gorgeous photography and stunning locations keep this movie interesting along with the despairing undercurrent, but some heavyhanded dialogue and a slightly repetitive storyline prevent the film being a masterpiece. A good, enjoyable flick with some great atmosphere but lacking in characters.
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viktor-vaudevillain
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#11

Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

Kung-Fu Master! (Agnès Varda, 1988) - 8+

Uncle Yanco (Agnès Varda, 1967) - 7-

Du soleil pour les gueux / Sunshine For the Poor (Alain Guiraudie, 2001) - 6-

I Am Somebody (Madeline Anderson, 1970) - 8

Anne of the Indies (Jacques Tourneur, 1951) - 10
Reverse gender roles in floating anarchy. A whole world within 80 minutes. Tourneur's best flick?

There’s Something About Mary (The Farrelly Brothers, 1998) - 6
not everything is fish, but fish are teeming everywhere
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#12

Post by prodigalgodson »

viktor-vaudevillain wrote: June 7th, 2021, 8:10 am Anne of the Indies (Jacques Tourneur, 1951) - 10
Reverse gender roles in floating anarchy. A whole world within 80 minutes. Tourneur's best flick?
Thanks for the rec! Tourneur made so many underrated classics in this period.
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#13

Post by DareDaniel »

Best one:
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Lolita Vibrator Torture (1987) - 8/10

Rest:
Kokkuri (1997) - 6/10
Black Kiss (2004)- 4/10
Survey Map of a Paradise Lost (1988) - 6/10
Moon Child (2003) - 7/10
Passion (2008)- 6/10
Punk Samurai Slash Down (2018) - 7/10
MOTHER (2020) - 5/10
One Cut of the Dead Spin-Off: In Hollywood (2019) - 5/10
Hold Me Back (2020) - 6/10
Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) - 1/10
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Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

prodigalgodson wrote: June 7th, 2021, 5:17 pm
viktor-vaudevillain wrote: June 7th, 2021, 8:10 am Anne of the Indies (Jacques Tourneur, 1951) - 10
Reverse gender roles in floating anarchy. A whole world within 80 minutes. Tourneur's best flick?
Thanks for the rec! Tourneur made so many underrated classics in this period.
Yup. Hope you like it. I continue to find new Tourneur gems.
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#15

Post by Torgo »

Onderhond wrote: June 6th, 2021, 7:55 pm
hurluberlu wrote: June 6th, 2021, 7:44 pm And Mandibules ?
You can find out all about Mandibles next week!
:thumbsup: Can't go wrong with Quentin Dupieux!

RolandKirkSunglasses wrote: June 6th, 2021, 11:37 pm As for me it was a long week of Japanese rewatches
The amount of classics in this (only a week's? -!) batch. :wub:

Funny, I was also just seeing Brighton Rock yesterday. Amazing picture quality there - does the camerawork with that many shadows justice.
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Post by kongs_speech »

RolandKirkSunglasses wrote: June 6th, 2021, 11:37 pm .
Haven't seen any of yours this week! I really need to do better with classic Japanese cinema.
viktor-vaudevillain wrote: June 7th, 2021, 8:10 am I Am Somebody (Madeline Anderson, 1970) - 8
I Am Somebody is a pretty inspiring short. I watched it last month and found it to be awesome.
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Post by Onderhond »

kongs_speech wrote: June 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm I need to see more Aoyama sometime. Eureka is stunning.
You certainly should, though I don't think there's a second Eureka in his oeuvre. I like him as a director, but it's difficult to find a common thread in his work.
kongs_speech wrote: June 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm I knew I would like Cruella, but it really impressed me more than I expected. I got basically everything I wanted from it.
I went in expecting very little, but I admit Disney is doing a pretty fine job with its live action Villain films. This one was a lot more fun than I would've hoped.
kongs_speech wrote: June 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm I agree with what you said about Godzilla vs. Kong. I hated it. #NotAllKongs
This one on the other hand I was quite hopeful for, but it turned out to be a real dud.
kongs_speech wrote: June 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm I bought Flubber a few years ago because I loved it as a kid. Haven't given it a spin yet. It probably sucks, but the DVD was cheap. :lol:
I've been slowly going through Williams' oeuvre, I was never really attracted to his work and it seems I was right about that. Oh well.

From yours Snake of June stands out, though it's been quite a while since I last watched it. I also really liked Underwater, but I kinda love whatever underwater film where people are stuck. The fact that there's a giant monster just made it all the more fun. It's a shame Eubank doesn't make many films. I liked Signal even better.
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