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Which films Did You See Last Week? 27/01/19 - 02/02/19

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sol
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Which films Did You See Last Week? 27/01/19 - 02/02/19

#1

Post by sol » February 3rd, 2019, 12:00 pm

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

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 (if you're like me, "real life" sometimes gets in the way, so no need to feel obliged).

Some fun trivia: Today marks my 2nd year anniversary of migrating to the forum. :party:

This is what I saw:

★★★★ = loved it / ★★★ = liked it a lot / ★★ = has interesting elements / ★ = did very little for me

Turksib (1929). Titled after the nickname for a railroad connecting Turkestan to Siberia, this Soviet film shows the construction of the massive project as well as lives of those residing and working in both areas. Made before the term "documentary" entered popular culture, this is pretty interesting, with narrative many techniques used to further the non-fiction presentation. The use of cutaways is especially remarkable, with empty jars/pots and tired animals lying down conveying the harshness of drought. There is a great montage of sleeping animals and humans later on too. There is also an animated map to show the direction and length of the train track and the list goes on. The film does lack focus somewhat (it is meant to be about those cotton pickers or a celebration of the track?), but this is a surprisingly hypnotic experience as all the images slide together. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Bad Girl (1931). If never as salacious as the title suggests, this melodrama actually begins very well as it focuses on an unusual romance. She has developed a knack and quick wit for rejecting the advances of men while he is a cynic in love, calling out her obvious flirting and deliberately provocative attire, and yet these hardened souls nevertheless connect. The early nighttime Luna Park scenes are also so lusciously filmed that Frank Borzage's directing Oscar win feels justified. And yet, after a promising first half-hour, the film falls apart when the pair wed. Their financial stresses and parenthood woes are very by-the-books and their miscommunication issues are often groan-inducing. The ending feels a little rushed too. James Dunn and Sally Eilers certainly make the most of their roles throughout here, but they are uncannily stronger as a dating rather than wed couple. (first viewing, online) ★★

Svengali (1931). Lonely and scorned by his peers, a foreign-born music teacher uses hypnotism to secure the love of an aspiring singer in this borderline horror movie starring John Barrymore. Made up to look like Rasputin and sporting a thick accent, Barrymore certainly provides a memorable turn and donning glowing contact lenses, his stares into the camera as he hypnotises are downright eerie. Barrymore never quite lets us under his character's skin though, which leads to an awkward situation in which we cannot really root for him, nor the boyfriend of the singer who - unlike Barrymore - is simply lifeless. Whatever the case, the film certainly looks good with Oscar nominated expressionistic sets and some divine camerawork - in particular, a shot that cleverly appears to travel out of his window and into the singer's across town in a single take. (first viewing, online) ★★

Chun Can (1933). Also known by the English language titles Silkworms in Spring and Spring Silkworms, this silent film from China follows the plight and hardships of a family of silkworm farmers. The patriarch is both very superstitious and protective of his crop and conflict comes as he argues about whether to spend the family's negligible savings on rice for themselves or leaves for the silkworms. Unfortunately, few of the characters are particularly well developed outside of the patriarch, and none are likeable, which makes it a tad hard to care about whether or not the family experience a good season. The insight into silkworm farming is rather interesting though, and with some luscious tracking shots over the family at work and well distributed close-ups of the silkworms themselves, this may have well worked better as a documentary on the subject. (first viewing, online) ★

Dead End (1937). An opinionated young woman struggles to keep her teenage brother away from local gangs and influence of criminals, which becomes hard when a notorious mobster returns to town in this crime drama starring Sylvia Sidney. Released at Sidney's career peak - Fury and Sabotage were just one year earlier - she expectedly shines, even with some leaden dialogue (going on again and again about her brother being a good kid). Humphrey Bogart is strong too in an early near-lead role as the legendary gangster. Neither of them unfortunately have all that much screen time though as the film keeps focuses on the teen brother and his annoyingly squeaky-voiced friends, none of whom are likeable in the least. Gregg Toland's Oscar nominated camerawork is very nice though, especially in the opening and closing shots that glide across buildings. (first viewing, online) ★★

Let's Make Love (1960). Mistaken for a dedicated impersonator when he visits the set of a musical play about his life, a billionaire embraces the ruse to win the heart of the show's lead actress in this Marilyn Monroe comedy. This is a charming film despite the silly, suggestive title, though it takes a good 15 minutes for the mistaken identity plot to get underway. The film milks the dynamic of Yves Montand's billionaire playing himself well as he hears others' assumptions and has to talk about himself in third person. There is also a very funny bit in which Montand manages to get back a bracelet, and with his genuine desire to make people laugh and so on, he is quite appealing. Unfortunately, it never seems right how he steals Monroe away from her ailing current boyfriend. The songs also tend to interrupt the flow of the story, but this is generally a delight. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Clear Skies (1961). Distressed when her pilot husband does not return from World War II, a factory worker eventually learns to carry on, which makes life difficult when he returns years later in this Soviet melodrama. The film is lusciously shot in vivid colour with deep shadows and a variety of camera angles. The film also includes chic fades to red rather than black (much more effective than it sounds). The story and acting, however, reek of soap opera and Nina Drobysheva is too cloying to make for a three dimensional protagonist, madly in love with her husband from the first time they met and carrying a torch for him even when told that he was probably dead. Evgeniy Urbanskiy has some good moments as the husband though, convincing as a man displaced in a country he once loved, but the whole thing is way too melodramatic to really resonate. (first viewing, online) ★★

Blue Mountains, or An Improbable Story (1983). Visiting a nearby publishing house, a Soviet writer struggles to get his latest manuscript accepted as increasingly absurd circumstances distract the editors from reading it in this Kafkaesque comedy. All of the editors and secretaries have individuals quirks and eccentricities that play into them avoiding reading the manuscript; the building itself grows increasingly close to collapsing too with running gags involving cracks in walls and one editor's constant fear that the painting above his desk will crash onto his head. The dilapidated building falling apart of course mirrors the state of the Soviet Union at the time, eerily prescient of the USSR's imminent demise. Bits and pieces feel repetitive by nature and Ramaz Giorgobiani is not an especially likeable lead actor, but this is very fresh, one-of-a-kind type of comedy. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

From the Journals of Jean Seberg (1995). Blurring the lines between fiction and documentary, this pseudo-autobiography stars Mary Beth Hurt as Jean Seberg narrating her career and life with images from her films in the background. While Seberg's acting history is interesting, particularly her pre-fame pre-Breathless days, what makes the movie so dynamic is the way it supposes what Seberg might have made of 1980s and 90s movie trends, and how her career might have mirrored that of Jane Fonda or Vanessa Redgrave, yet "I missed all that because I was dead at age 40". This is not, however, a very focused affair and the stretches dedicated to Fonda and Seberg's Paint Your Wagon co-star Clint Eastwood tend to wander quite a bit from Seberg's career, rise and fall - though these segments certainly have their own points of interest. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Who Am I? (1998). Adopted by an African type, an amnesic man tries to discover who he once was when an attempt is made on his life in this Jackie Chan vehicle. The film is incredibly slow to warm up and the reasons why he is wanted dead (something to do with scientific research) are hazy throughout. A decent comedic streak kicks in though after he is found in Africa by a Japanese tourist who mistakes him for a native incapable of talking, and there are plenty of well coordinated action scenes once the film eventually returns to urban civilisation. A particular highlight is some car chase stunts on the level of The Italian Job, though there are superb hand-to-hand (and foot-to-foot) combat scenes too. The film does not exactly maximise its personal identity dilemma dynamics, but Michelle Ferre is just lovely and the fights are great when they finally occur. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Down with Love (2003). Rivalry sparks between a feminist author and a philandering journalist in this romantic comedy set in 1960s New York. Fashioned after the Rock Hudson/Doris Day films of the era, this is a remarkable movie that not only pays tribute to those motion pictures but manages to take the gist of them to new extremes with the double entendre gags more explicit and sexually suggestive than was allowed in the Production Code early 1960s. The famous split screens from Pillow Talk are taken to especially new and hilarious extremes. Homage aspects aside, Down with Love also works nicely as a look at balancing extreme feminism with realism, plus the sets and costumes are simply gorgeous. There is a big twist towards the end that does not really gel, but this is generally a well paced and very funny affair. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Half Nelson (2006). Friendship develops between a crack-addicted history teacher and one of his pupils after she catches him getting high in this independent drama. The film is best known for netting Ryan Gosling his first Oscar nomination, and he does okay, but it is Shareeka Epps who shines more as the precocious student. On one hand, this is an easy film to admire for what it doesn't do. Gosling always comes across as very flawed with inspirational teacher clichés avoided. The film also shies away from suggesting any romantic desire between them, or others suspecting that. The film additionally avoids her using the secret to guilt him. On the other hand, the film does little by avoiding such avenues. It is a decent look at two imperfect individuals connecting with one another, but this is not a film where anyone really changes or progresses from their experiences. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Blockade (2006). Archive footage of the Siege of Leningrad during World War II is spliced together in this documentary without voiceover narration or music. Furthermore, the entire sound design was recorded and added in by the filmmakers themselves, and it is uncanny just how well their audio matches the images. Alas, with its lack of background information or explanations, the movie is not a very good primer, and it is a bit hard to maintain focus with the way the filmmakers deliberately avoid structure. Many of the images are striking though, from water being collected from broken cracks in the ground, to dead bodies, to buildings in ruin and fires being extinguished. Some moments even seem poetic and serene (e.g. overlooking a river) before the rolling in of a tank or the marching of soldiers brings us back to the reality of the slice of history depicted. (first viewing, online) ★★

After Last Season (2009). Shot for $30,000 in a single house with cardboard sets and props, the history of this movie is actually more interesting than the project itself. Using multiple accounts, the director created dozens of fake positive reviews on IMDb and by citing a five million dollar budget, he invented an embezzlement scandal to help promote the movie! As for the film itself, it is weighed down by second-rate acting and the noticeably fake sets, but what can be made out of the plot is rather fascinating as it involves telepathic communication in which thoughts are passed on in geometric representation (kind of logical given the complexity of human thought). A loose murderer subplot unfortunately distracts amidst all this, and Ralph Sepe's YouTube review of the film is more entertaining than the movie itself, but the premise itself certainly screams of potential. (first viewing, online) ★

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). Whereas the first Fantastic Beasts film was a briskly paced affair that used ample comedy and a constant slew of imaginative creatures to make up for its narrative gaps, this sequel moves at a slower pace, is almost entirely devoid of comedy and introduces barely any new creatures; as such, it is a colossal failure. Some of the sets and special effects are still impressive, but Dan Fogler's bafflement at the world of magic is no longer a consistent source of comedy, and as both Fogler and Redmayne lots of spend time pining for their love interests, as well as coaching each other on how to be romantic, the film feels like a soap opera at times - as well as bloated at over two hours in length. Most disappointing of all though, the sequel devotes insanely more time to the dull orphan subplot of the first film. (first viewing, cinema) ★

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018). Ostensibly based on a published book of short stories, but actually mostly from the direct imagination of the Coen Brothers, this Wild West anthology is a curiously structured film. As we see the opening and closing typed lines of each tale, as well as a colour insert, the Coens successfully make their tales more descriptive without falling back on voiceover or such to paint what is going through their characters' head. It is a very funny film too at the best of times. Not all of the tales are on the same level and the Coens play their best hand early on with the darkly comic first two tales resonating most. The rest though have their points of interest, especially Tom Waits as a gold prospector and the film concludes on a pretty fitting note as yet another foray into irony, chance and fate from the directing duo who do it best. (first viewing, online) ★★★★
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » February 3rd, 2019, 12:00 pm

proudly presented by Gaspar Noé

Heart of Darkness (Nicolas Roeg, 1993) 8-/10

CLIMAX

Gloria (John Cassavetes, 1980) (2nd viewing) 6/10

(2018) 5+/10

shorts

Before My Eyes (मणि कौल/Mani Kaul, 1989) 6/10


music videos

Chrysta Bell & David Lynch: The Truth Is (Golnaz Jamsheed, 2019) == (but tending towards + for the YT video description )


didn't finish

We the Workers (Huang Wenhai, 2017) [49 min]
Roger & Me (Michael Moore, 1989) [37 min]
Two Years at Sea (Ben Rivers, 2011) [18 min]
The Green Fog (Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson & Guy Maddin, 2017) [15 min]
Sandakan hachibanshokan bohkyo / サンダカン八番娼館 望郷 / Sandakan No. 8 / Brothel No. 8 (熊井啓/Kei Kumai, 1974) [8 min]
Lass den Sommer nie wieder kommen / Let the Summer Never Come Again (Alexandre Koberidze, 2017) [7 min]


notable online media

top:
Tom Waits on Everything and Nothing
rest:
Homeless Man Sleeping Rough in Cardiff, Wales Used to Be a Registered Nurse
A Conversation With My Future Self? One Month Anniversary Edition
Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on February 3rd, 2019, 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#3

Post by Onderhond » February 3rd, 2019, 2:03 pm

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01. 4.5* - The Book of Birdie (2017)
Equal parts drama, mystery and horror. This self-funded film rises way above itself to deliver an ethereal yet discomforting experience. Great actors, lush cinematography and a superb score add to the overpowering atmosphere that draws you in right away and doesn't let go until the final notes have died.

02. 3.5* - The Rezort (2015)
Nifty variation on the zombie genre, borrowing royally from Jurassic Park while taking that idea to some good places. The middle part is less interesting as it devolves into more traditional zombie territory, luckily the ending makes up for that. Great fun, which is pretty exceptional for a zombie flick these days.

03. 3.0* - Patient Seven (2016)
Pretty decent anthology that slightly outstays its welcome. Could've done with one less short, though it's pretty hard to say which one should've been cut. The quality is pretty consistent, even though the shorts themselves offer quite a lot of variety. The Body was my favourite short of the bunch, the rest wasn't far behind.

04. 3.0* - Inside the Boys [Jie Pou Shi Ling Yi Shi Jian Zhi Nan Sheng Su She] (2018)
Decent but somewhat formulaic and slightly uneventful horror film. Like most Chinese horror films, there's a more dramatic undercurrent that somewhat detracts from the horror, but Zhan finds a nice balance between both genres. Inside the Boys is hardly an essential film, but it's good filler nonetheless.

05. 2.5* - Ghost Town (2008)
Ricky Gervais being Ricky Gervais. Sadly New York isn't the best place for him to be himself. Gervais is so typically British that he doesn't really fare well within an American environment. There are some funny bits, mostly when he's by himself, but whenever he mixes with the rest of the cast the film is just mediocre.

06. 2.5* - Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Pretty decent. The chemistry between Hepburn and Peppard is what makes this film tick, even though they're both not the most congenial of characters. The drama near the end is a bit overdone though, the more light-hearted start suited the film better. All in all not a bad watch, but far from perfect.

07. 2.0* - Devils on the Doorstep [Guizi Lai Le] (2000)
Disappointing film from Jiang. The erratic camera doesn't work that well, characters are very loud and obnoxious and the running time is simply inexcusable. There are some decent moments and the use of black and white is fine, but that alone won't save this film. Luckily his more recent work is way better than this.

08. 1.5* - Universal Soldier (1992)
Very mediocre action flick. Lundgren is a terrible actor that completely fails his part, Van Damme isn't much better and Walker is completely forgettable. The action is pretty dull, the comic interludes are misplaced and Emmerich has no added value. It spawned plenty of sequels though, but it's just not for me.

09. 1.5* - Root Cause (2019)
Another health doc that does itself a major disserve by presenting itself like a cheap commercial and by not properly explaining why its proposed science isn't catching on. Also mingling Western and Eastern science is never a good idea. There might be some truth here, I just didn't buy it because of the way it was handled.

10. 1.5* - Song of the Exile [Ketu Qiuhen] (1990)
Pretty unattractive and tepid drama by Ann Hui. I'm not getting along very well with Hui's older work, though I had slight hopes because Song of the Exile featured Maggie Cheung. While Cheung's performance is fine, the rest of the film really isn't and even though it's pretty short, it still dragged a lot.

11. 1.0* - The Arch [Dong Fu Ren] (1969)
Notable because this is the first Hong Kong drama film directed by a female director, but that's about it. The drama is poor and imposed, the camera work and editing feel extremely amateurish and the ever-present soundtrack is simply maddening. It may deserve its place in history, but it's far from a good film.

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#4

Post by sol » February 3rd, 2019, 2:46 pm

PdA:

Inasmuch as I really like Sicko, Roger Moore has probably never made another documentary as good as Roger & Me - coming from a period where he was less angry and was able to find some sad amusement in those unwilling to be interviewed by him. You owe yourself to finish this one at some stage.

Onderhond:

Ghost Town was okay at the time. Having never seen 'The Office' or any of his stand-up shows, I had no idea who Ricky Gervais really was at the time before he begun to host the Golden Globes. I suppose I might like it more now, having warmed to him as stand-up comic in the time since.

I don't like Breakfast at Tiffany's. Seen it a couple of times and I have a very low opinion of it, so curious to see your relatively high score. Can't stand Audrey Hepburn in the film (she's usually one of my favourite actresses) and I think I said something to the effect that the film even ruins the beautiful 'Moon River' song; sung naturally, all emotion from the song becomes drained as soon as those percussion instruments chime in. Ugh.
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#5

Post by mightysparks » February 3rd, 2019, 3:06 pm

@sol, seen a couple there that I don’t even remember now clearly weren’t good :P and well I watched Buster Scruggs the other week but wasn’t impressed. I think the only Coen bros movies I liked were No Country, A Serious Man and Inside Llewyn Davis. I find most of their comedic attempts painfully unfunny.

@Onderhond, The Rezort was one of the films I most looked forward to at 2016 FrightFest but found the whole thing to be a pretty formulaic zombie bore fest. It was only a week after my traumatic event and unbeknownst to me I was in the early stages of depression and PTSD at the time but I’m still pretty certain my judgment wasn’t too badly affected :P also not a fan of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And Ghost Town I actually didn’t mind though I agree that there are a lot of bad awkward moments that don’t really work.
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#6

Post by Onderhond » February 3rd, 2019, 5:15 pm

@sol: funny, because Tiffany's is the first Hepburn part I actually like. Her character is somewhat vague and quirky, that's actually quite rare for older films imo. The same goes for Peppard, which is probably the reason why the film appealed to me. Not a big fan of Moon River either, so there's was little to ruin for me.

@mightysparks: I rarely look forward to films, so there's that. I also thought, apart from the middle part, that the film was pretty original. Not that I feel like defending it at great lengths, I just liked the film.

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#7

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » February 3rd, 2019, 6:55 pm

Before My Eyes (Mani Kaul, 1989, sh) - 8-

밤의 해변에서 혼자 / On the Beach At Night Alone (Hong Sang-Soo, 2017) - 8+
That window cleaner has haunted me the whole week!

Trains Are For Dreaming (Jennifer Todd Reeves AKA Jreeves, 2009, sh) - 7

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982) - 7
By mysterious reasons I never saw this in my childhood or even in my adolescence, maybe because I'm not American and that American blockbusters from the early 80s never was part of my upbringing. Well, it's a very lovely film which I would have loved to see when I was 10 years old.

Possible Worlds (Robert Lepage, 2000) - 7++

O Dia do Desespero / Day of Depair (Manoel de Oliveira, 1992) - 7

그 후 / The Day After (Hong Sang-Soo, 2017) - 8

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#8

Post by Lonewolf2003 » February 3rd, 2019, 6:58 pm

My FTVs for last week:
Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988): 7.0 - this does belong on the badmovies-list; it's very bad, but extremely enjoyable.
Rabu & Pîsu [Love & Peace] (2015): 8.0 - A loser after some bullying flushes pet turtle trough the toilet, the turtle becomes magical and starts to grants the loser wishes turning him into a major rockstar, meanwhile the turtle grows bigger and bigger untill it's kaiju-sized. Like most Sono movies it's absolutely bonkers, but still Sono manages to infuse his characters with emotions in all this craziness.
Jiang hu er nv [Ash Is Purest White] (2018): 7.8 - Like all Zhangke movies the movie is more about the changing of China in this century than the plot of the movie. Zhangke's directing is as confident and strong as ever. The movies has some amazing sequences that are among the best of 2018 (f.e. the fight sequence), but unfortunately also some scenes that don't add much to the movie. Tao Zhao carries the movie with ease, while Fan Liao offers her some strong opposition.
Side-note: after seeing the action scenes in this and A Touch of Sin I really would like to Zhangke do an action movie.
Maggie (2018): 6.0 - seen in the International Film Festival Rotterdam Bright Future program which highlights promising new directors. And the directing, especially the mis-en-scene, of this young Korean director is indeed very promising. Unfortunate the movie is dragged down by a tendency for quirkiness for quirkiness sake and unnecessary complicated story structure.
Zan [Killig] (2018): 7.2 - In this samurai movie Shin'ya Tsukamoto deconstructs the samurai-code and examines what it actually means to kill and get caught up in downward spiral of violence. The story is about a young ronin who helps out on a farm while training the farmer's son, he is recruited by a skilled older ronin to come fight for the shogun, but the arrival of a group of bandits who attack the farm delay their trips and start a cycle of violence. Tsukamoto directing is very strong; he mixes shaky-handheld cameras for the more nervous younger samurai and young farmer with a steady shots when dealing with the calm older samurai. The biggest downside of this movie is that if you blink you will miss all the actions.
Enemy Mine (1985): 6.2 - This mediocre movie is a sci-fi take on the enemies becomes friends plot. Dennis Quaid overacts the entire picture. It also doesn't help that his character is irritatingly arrogant, but of course this is necessary for the character to undergo the necessary character growth. Louis Gossett Jr. does a lot better beneath all the make-up and mask.
Sia, le rêve du python [Sia, the Dream of the Python] (2001): 6.0
Pride & Prejudice (2005): 7.0 - That I don't rate this adaption higher is more because the story of Jane Austen's book isn't my thing than with Joe Wright's adaption of it; cause it looks absolutely gorgeous and most of the cast is more than fine with Knightley as the stand-out.
Pygmalion (1938): 7.2 - very decent adaption of Shaw's play that would later become the famous My Fair Lady musical (and film).
Le Livre d'Image [The Image Book] (2018): 5.0 - What I most took away from Godard's latest incomprehensible essay consisting of footage of old movies, newsreel and other stuff is that Godard is (still) very angry at the world. And while it is incomprehensible (to me, some others might find a lot of meaning in it) on a cinematic level some parts were edited so interesting that I can't hate this either.
Ying [Shadow] (2018): 6.5 - Yimou Zhang whose big colorful martial arts epics has been his most famous and successful movies this century returns with another big martial arts epic. But in contrast to those this one is shot in stunning grey scales with only the slightest hints of colors. On the fight choreography Zhang also delivers again. Most rememberable is a sequence with a group of fighters use umbrellas made out of knifes to slide down a street on. Unfortunate these fight scene stakes depend on a plot about some uninteresting cliched political intrigues and maneuvering involving some uninteresting stereotypical characters.
Netemo sametemo (Asako I & II) (2018): 6.8 - Asako falls head over heels in love with free-spirited Baku. But after some months of dating Baku one day just never comes back. A few years later Asako lives in Tokyo where she might Ryohei, Baku's doubleganger in looks (he is played by the same actor) but opposite in personality. After awhile they start to date and begin a loving relationship. But things gets complicated when Baku returns again... Ryûsuke Hamaguchi uses this idea of a woman falling in love with a look-alike to examine what it means to fall in love, to contrast unrealistic love-at-first-sight love with the love formed through long steady connection and most of all how our past loves form our current loves and how we look for our past lovers in new ones. Which are all very interesting themes, but the movie is pulled down by the fact that the main characters are far from fleshed out. We learn very little about them and what exactly attracts them to each others. It's only after a twist late in the movie these themes really come to the forefront.
Sidenote: for cat lovers this a recommendation just because it features one of the best cats in a movie in years.

Rewatch this week:
Of Time and the City (2008): 7.5 > 7.5 - interesting personal essay movie by Davies about his hometown Liverpool

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#9

Post by Carmel1379 » February 3rd, 2019, 7:27 pm

sol:

"The Ballad" is pretty great. Agreed the first two were the most laugh-out-loud funny ones.


PdA:

How do 'Heart of Darkness' (ok, I guess this one is rather obvious) and 'Gloria' fit in(-between) CLIMAX? Edit: French flag, k.


Onderhond:

The Book of Birdie - "one poster and screenshot was all it took"


Viktor:

On the Beach At Night Alone - Grabbed this and a couple of his other films this week.
Trains Are For Dreaming - :thumbsup:
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial - I definitely saw it once when I was much younger, but it's been a bit murky in my memory (until I rewatched it 1(-2) year(s) ago), which I think can partly be attributed to how greatly the film plays with fog and darkness. Same goes for 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', especially in the first half and very last scene (although that one I only saw for the first time last year), which I seem to remember you saw pretty recently too. I definitely dig those kinds of shadowy suburban(-on-the-verge-of-a-forest/fields) aesthetics with electricity transmission lines and aliens.


Carmel:

Salad Fingers #11: “Glass Brother” / “Glass Mother” (2019, David Firth) (two viewings + one with commentary)

Gone Girl (2014, David Fincher) (2nd viewing) 7/10

Fable for Fountains / A Legend for Fountains (1957, Joseph Cornell) (short) 3/10

逆噴射家族 / The Crazy Family (1984, Sogo/Gakuryu Ishii) 7/10

The Simpsons: Another Simpsons Clip Show
The Simpsons: New Kid on the Block
The Simpsons: The Last Temptation of Krust
The Simpsons: Lost Our Lisa
The Simpsons: Lisa Gets an “A”
The Simpsons: Make Room for Lisa
The Simpsons: A Star Is Burns
Last edited by Carmel1379 on February 4th, 2019, 1:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d


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#11

Post by joachimt » February 3rd, 2019, 8:21 pm

@sol:
Seen exactly half of your watches.

Turksib 8/10
Bad Girl 7/10
Dead End 7/10
Let's Make Love 6/10
From the Journals of Jean Seberg 7/10
Down with Love 7/10
Blockade 7/10
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 7/10
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#12

Post by sol » February 4th, 2019, 9:41 am

mighty:

Well, Inside Llewyn Davis is my favourite Coen film, with No Country third and The Man Who Wasn't There wedged in for second. If you haven't seen it, The Man is likewise one of their more serious/sombre efforts, a quirky UFO subplot aside. While I like their straight comedies a lot too, it would appear that their less funny films resonate more with me too.

What is interesting though is that I don't know if I would really describe Buster Scruggs as a comedy overall. The first tale is certainly very comedic, the second one has its noticeably quirks, but the rest of the tales are pretty dark with only one or two amusing moments in each.

Onderhond:

Well, I don't like Audrey's most popular/widely-seen performances as much as most, but she's great in The Children's Hour, while Wait Until Dark offers her very finest work for money. A nifty thriller overall too - though it's from 1967, so a little "old" for you. ;)

viktor:

I don't think I ever saw E.T. until I was in my twenties myself. I remember being impressed with how well shot and well acted the film was, but it's been a number of years. Seen nothing else of yours.

Lonewolf:

Such a long list of films and the only one that I have seen is Pygmalion - some 12-15 years ago. I did like the film at the time and thought that it stood up well as a My Fair Lady counterpart.

Carmel:

Yay. Another fan of Buster Scruggs. I can't say that all the episodes worked for me and I think that they are a little out of order. The Liam Neeson episode should I have been second-last, I think, since the film otherwise quite naturally progresses from laugh-out-loud funny to deathly grim, which is what I think the Coens were trying to achieve. I really liked the structure of the film, and even more so when I learnt that I only two of the tales were actually adapted from other sources. There is no 'Buster Scruggs' book per se (as far as I am aware at least). Rather, the open book structure acts as a narrative device for the Coens to let us know what is travelling through their characters' heads (via typed sentences) at the end of each chapter. Very cool stuff, and I love the idea of something like this being Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Only seen Gone Girl from yours, which yeah was pretty decent, though I kind of doubt that I would like it as much the second time round, knowing the twists and turns to come.

joachimt:

What are the chances of that? In most weeks, I can't find a single person who has seen even a quarter of my viewings, let alone half. I suppose I watch a lot of not-very-common films each week, but I also mainly watch Official Checks, though I guess not everyone is as much a check whore as I am. :ph43r:

Nice to see some strong ratings for some films that I liked to varying degrees this week, though I'd take Let's Make Love over half of the films that you have seen. I had procrastinated seeing this one so long given how infrequently it is cited as a seminal Marilyn Monroe movie, and frankly the title did not sound too promising either, but the personal identity dynamics were really fun, Montand's character playing himself and all. Some really provocative outfits for Miss Monroe too.

Your ratings for Dead End and Bad Girl jump out to me as a little high, but I guess the former is pretty decent if one discounts the weird casting of the highest-pitched teenagers that they could find for the young gang, and the latter certainly began well; loved the initial cynical approach to love.

Seen these from you, in rough order of preference:

Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) - love Svankmajer and I consider this equal to his other full length features
The Intruder - William Shatner has never been better; ought to rewatch since it really wowed me at the time
Gett AKA The Trial - amazingly intense for a movie that never once leaves the one location
The Death of Stalin - very funny stuff, definitely liked it more than In the Loop
Control Room - didn't do very much for me (watched for one of last year's Challenges)
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#13

Post by joachimt » February 4th, 2019, 10:13 am

sol wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 9:41 am
joachimt:

What are the chances of that?
Two words: Rosenbaum challenge
I've seen all available titles from the Rosenbaum-list (and a few titles not available to others here).
I didn't count it the previous weeks, probably about the same then......
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#14

Post by Carmel1379 » February 4th, 2019, 10:29 am

sol wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 9:41 am
Carmel:

Yay. Another fan of Buster Scruggs. I can't say that all the episodes worked for me and I think that they are a little out of order. The Liam Neeson episode should I have been second-last, I think, since the film otherwise quite naturally progresses from laugh-out-loud funny to deathly grim, which is what I think the Coens were trying to achieve. I really liked the structure of the film, and even more so when I learnt that I only two of the tales were actually adapted from other sources. There is no 'Buster Scruggs' book per se (as far as I am aware at least). Rather, the open book structure acts as a narrative device for the Coens to let us know what is travelling through their characters' heads (via typed sentences) at the end of each chapter. Very cool stuff, and I love the idea of something like this being Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Only seen Gone Girl from yours, which yeah was pretty decent, though I kind of doubt that I would like it as much the second time round, knowing the twists and turns to come.
I think most people liked "Buster Scruggs" around here, can't seem to remember anyone expressing per se strong negative opinions. Not that it got overwhelming favourite-levels love either, the anthological structure most likely precludes that, as everyone likes different segments better than others. Originally it was supposed to be a series, such that on Netflix one would actually have credits after each segment and would have to click further/wait until the next episode comes on. I wonder what lead the Coens to the decision to keep it as a compact film - the penchant for conciseness and smooth transitions (i.e. page turning)? maybe budgetary constraints/creative differences with Netflix (although I doubt this)? or, indeed, the possibility of recognition in film circles / film awards? I'm sure -- given all those high-class actors and so on -- that there's loads of cut-out extra material.

Anyway, yeah, the adapted screenplay nomination was also initially a surprise to me, but then I also learned that some aspects of and titles from the film are inspired by other western stories. I also wonder if the Koans actually wrote those short stories down in full, or merely retrospectively created the appearance they did. Mystery of any kind is always cool by me, so I also like the Oscar nomination in this respect, not to imply I even barely care about Oscar nominations (though I'm glad for the praise for Cold War for personal and patriotic reasons. Also The Favourite ftw in categories where it doesn't clash with Cold War.^^ Did either get a SAG Ensemble nomination? :P)

Gone Girl - Yeah, the whole thing was perspicuous on a second viewing, little novelty or new discoveries. I know someone who's a big fan of the novel & its adaptation, so I'll ask her if there's anything in the source material that still potentially complicates the plot or whatever. Still definitely enjoyed the film, and even greater props for it actually making me think Ben Affleck perhaps isn't so bad after all (since I did/do pretty much detest him). The way the film handles the themes of creating-an-image / pretending / masking -- in both the public sphere and ones ""private""/domestic life -- is as brilliant and relevant as ever, though; good refresh there.
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whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#15

Post by Onderhond » February 4th, 2019, 10:32 am

sol wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 9:41 am
What are the chances of that? In most weeks, I can't find a single person who has seen even a quarter of my viewings, let alone half.
The comment I get most is N/A :p

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#16

Post by mightysparks » February 4th, 2019, 11:19 am

Onderhond wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 10:32 am
sol wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 9:41 am
What are the chances of that? In most weeks, I can't find a single person who has seen even a quarter of my viewings, let alone half.
The comment I get most is N/A :p
I usually am too tired from writing my comments to comment on everyone else’s lol. Often I’ve seen films but don’t remember them or have much to say. I want to make more of an effort but I’m lazy sooo. I still haven’t finished writing up most of my stuff from last week, just haven’t been in the mood.
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#17

Post by sol » February 4th, 2019, 11:55 am

joachimt:

I thought about that, however, only 3 of the 8 films of mine that you have seen are on the Rosenbaum list. I guess I just got lucky with the Oscar nominated and Russian viewings that I chose to watch. tehe

Carmel:

No, I have not come across a lot of negativity regarding Buster Scruggs, but I recall quite a few 'it was okay' sort of comments on this forum, most notably from mighty on last week's thread, so yeah, not as much love as I would have expected from what I think it is a pretty solid film (and a step above Hail, Caesar! if you ask me). It is a fair point you raise about anthologies being more naturally prone to divisiveness. Actually, I have seen a lot of anthologies in my time (horror buff, you know) and I can't think of an anthology off-hand in which I loved almost each segment equally. Maybe the British Dead of Night, but it has been way too long since I have seen that.

Interesting mystery you raise with regards to the penmanship of Buster Scruggs. With the Best Adapted Screenplay category, I like it when creative adaptations get nominated. The other obvious example of this would be Adaptation., which is only based on its source material in the very loosest sense.

Huh, I have never thought that ill of Ben Affleck. His acting range is certainly quite limited compared to his brother Casey and best friend Matt, but there are probably at least at least half a dozen performances that I have genuinely enjoyed from him. Upon looking it up: Dogma, Changing Lanes, Hollywoodland, Argo, Gone Girl. Well, that's at least five solid turns, of which I agree that Gone Girl is the best thing that he has done so far.

mighty:

I generally find it easier to pen reviews directly - or within a few hours - after seeing a film rather than leaving it for days and penning tons of reviews one after each other all at once. In my youth (when I was closer to Carmel's age), I was all of the opinion that it was best to let films swim around in my mind and write about my lasting impressions once I have had time to mull them over. These days, I am more inspired to write when a film is fresh in my mind. Maybe just jot down a few notes afterwards that you can expand to full sentences later on?

I don't know what to say re: commenting on other people's viewings. Obviously, I would like to think that this is the purpose of the weekly thread (creating film discussion - not just typing words into a vacuum), but the thread for me at least is ultimately about structure, i.e. a reason to keep notes on what I have seen. Yes, even as host, it is sometimes a struggle for me to comment on everybody else's viewings, especially when a newbie cineaste like Coryn posts comments on over a dozen films that I have seen in a single week. I don't have a solution, and with school back this week, my contributions to film discussion are going to diminish here until the next round of holidays.
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#18

Post by Onderhond » February 4th, 2019, 12:11 pm

sol wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 11:55 am
It is a fair point you raise about anthologies being more naturally prone to divisiveness. Actually, I have seen a lot of anthologies in my time (horror buff, you know) and I can't think of an anthology off-hand in which I loved almost each segment equally.
I'm a big anthology fan, the problem with Buster Scruggs is that's it is probably too coherent for an anthology. I love how these films offer a lot of different styles, ideas and experiences in a limited time span, Scruggs was pretty even all the way through, which is a shame imo). Not a bad film, just not that great either. But that's my general sentiment about Coen films.

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#19

Post by sol » February 4th, 2019, 12:16 pm

Onderhond wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 12:11 pm
Scruggs was pretty even all the way through, which is a shame imo
With the way the tales vary from having pronounced comic antics and quirky characters to being, grim, serious and downbeat, "even all the way through" is probably the last five words that I would think of to describe the film. If somebody told me that the Tim Blake Nelson and Liam Neeson segments were done by a different writing and directing team, I would have believed them in a second, no questions asked.

I do like your take on anthologies in general though and how they have a chance to offer more than non-anthology tales.
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#20

Post by Carmel1379 » February 4th, 2019, 12:53 pm

sol wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 11:55 am
Carmel:

No, I have not come across a lot of negativity regarding Buster Scruggs, but I recall quite a few 'it was okay' sort of comments on this forum, most notably from mighty on last week's thread, so yeah, not as much love as I would have expected from what I think it is a pretty solid film (and a step above Hail, Caesar! if you ask me). It is a fair point you raise about anthologies being more naturally prone to divisiveness. Actually, I have seen a lot of anthologies in my time (horror buff, you know) and I can't think of an anthology off-hand in which I loved almost each segment equally. Maybe the British Dead of Night, but it has been way too long since I have seen that.

Interesting mystery you raise with regards to the penmanship of Buster Scruggs. With the Best Adapted Screenplay category, I like it when creative adaptations get nominated. The other obvious example of this would be Adaptation., which is only based on its source material in the very loosest sense.

Huh, I have never thought that ill of Ben Affleck. His acting range is certainly quite limited compared to his brother Casey and best friend Matt, but there are probably at least at least half a dozen performances that I have genuinely enjoyed from him. Upon looking it up: Dogma, Changing Lanes, Hollywoodland, Argo, Gone Girl. Well, that's at least five solid turns, of which I agree that Gone Girl is the best thing that he has done so far.
I haven't seen too many anthologies myself. Dekalog -- probably the most universally acclaimed one anyway -- seems to be my highest rated, and the consensus divide there is between 4 masterpieces (#1, #5, #6, #10) and remaining 6 good ones, so it's unequal as well. Neo Tokyo is pretty great too. Some (mini-)series of course function anthologically, with each episode being its own self-contained story with perhaps only loose connections to the other episodes (apart from the obvious - characters, place, ...). With an anime like Watamote I love every episode pretty much the same, but clearly not in the case of 'South Park' or 'The Simpsons'. I suppose one should also distinguish between those anthologies where the director(s) and writer(s) are constants among the segments and where they vary. But anyway.

Affleck - Idk, I just always had a distaste for him. It's not that he's necessarily a bad actor, but that everytime he appears on screen my instinctive reaction is just "Oh no, ffs." Which is why he's so well cast in 'Gone Girl', playing a guy who stupidly smirks in front of his missing wife's poster or takes a smiling selfie with a stranger, or says "I'm so sick of being picked apart by women", etc. Ultimately the film obviously makes one root for him more, though. In any case, his role in 'Gone Girl', this, and this are pretty much the only things I like in which he appears, because he appears in them. The rest ranges from barely bearable to aversion.
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whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#21

Post by Onderhond » February 4th, 2019, 12:57 pm

@sol: I agree that there are some differences, but I found them very nuanced. The difference between the first and last one might be considerable (although still very much within the same setting), but between each consecutive short they are much less outspoken, which still creates a certain natural flow. I never once had the thought "oh my, the Coens made this?"

For reference, the trailer of my favorite anthology: Genius Party Beyond

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#22

Post by Coryn » February 4th, 2019, 1:11 pm

40. 27/01 Rosemary's Baby (1968) ****
Loved the atmosphere in this film. One of the best horrors I've seen for sure.

41. 28/01 All about Eve (1950) *****
The dialogue in this movie was sensational. Some amazing quotes as well I won't forget. Instant favorite.

42. 28/01 Persona (1966) *****
How Bergman could get me so invloved in such a strange setting still baffles me. After seeing Cries and whispers which I didn't enjoy at all this instantly became a favorite for me. Top 10 material.

43. 29/01 Sunset Blvd. (1950) ****
I found this one to be quite similar to All about Eve (at least the aspect of aging stardom) and although Billy Wilder is one of my favorites, I think all 'Sunset Blvd.' did, 'All about Eve' did better.
Still 4 stars which means I'll buy the copy on Blu Ray and see it again in my lifetime.

44. 30/01 Double Indemnity (1944) ****
And another classic. Another very good film. I'm new to the noir genre byt can't wait to get more checks on these.

45. 31/01 Duck Soup (1931) ***
Some funny bits and amazing acting for the time.

1. 01/02 The Wild Bunch (1969) **
Messy film in my opinion and didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Start and ending was good though.

2. 02/02 Sleepy Hollow (1999) ***
Was fun to see a recent 'blockbuster' for a change after all these classics.
Creepy atmosphere in the film but I didn't expect anything else from Burton.
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#23

Post by peeptoad » February 4th, 2019, 1:39 pm

Hi sol, hope you're having a good week so far. The only film of yours I've seen is Down With Love, which I saw on release since I had a massive crush on McGregor at the time. It was okay from memory, but I definitely didn't like it as much as you did (and I had seen the Day/Hudson flicks prior but that didn't really affect my opinion of DWL).
I'm hoping to see Svengali also this month. I keep putting off Buster Scruggs even though it's easily accessible for free right now. Not sure why except I wasn't the biggest fan of the last couple of Coen films I've seen.

mine for last week-
No Blade of Grass (1970) 6
The Valley of Gwangi (1969) 7*
Horror Express (1972) 8*
Deathstalker (1983) 5
Stargate (1994) 7*
The Ghoul (1933) 6
The Human Monster (1939) 6

*rewatch

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#24

Post by Good_Will_Harding » February 4th, 2019, 2:17 pm

Took me only one month to combine two weeks worth into one. Ehh.

Svengali (1931) - Some impressive visuals and miniature work for the time, but overall I didn't find this to be the most engaging viewing experience.

Nightfall (1956) - Solid classic era Film Noir effort.

Witchhammer (1960) - Mostly well made and atmospheric effort, but the narrative wasn't especially noteworthy, albeit while not being all that important to the overall impact.

La vie de boheme (1992) - Been slowly working my way through the films of Aki Kaurismäki and while I didn't adore this like some of the others I've watched recently, I'm still thankful for every one of his works that I'm able to seek out in such good quality. Especially one as visually distinctive as this one.

Aquaman (2018) - Surprisingly decent, if not utterly campy and dunderheaded superhero outing. While it's just as bloated and overlong as anything from the modern comic book film era, what made it bearable for me is the overall lightweight, cheesy tone throughout the whole thing. Whereas most previous DCU films have been portentous and self-serious to their own detriment, this one at least presents its whole story and setting in a far less dramatic light, and the undersea world of Atlantis is creative and wondrous enough to elevate a lot of the first two thirds of this puppy.

Green Book (2018) - Pretty much exactly what I expected. Two perfectly fine leading performances elevating an otherwise completely rote, conventional buddy road comedy that tries **really hard** to incorporate racial politics into the mix, to varying degrees of success.

Shoplifters (2018) - An emotional masterpiece. Hirokazu Koreeda has been making gem after gem for about a decade and a half, but this very well might be my favorite of his. An intriguing central hook is explored with equal amounts of ambiguity and tenderness, and the result is a wholly devastating experience and one of my favorites of 2018.

They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) - Conceptually interesting and at times quite haunting quasi-documentary. Didn't see it in 3D but I'm curious to see if that really changes the viewing experience much at all.

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) - Ehh, sure. My father was really the one who wanted to see this, and along with some surprisingly strong critical reception I decided to check it out and it was... fine, I guess? Certainly not terrible and for kids it's actually decent enough, and doesn't contain too many stupid elements or annoying humor. It's just a super conventional family fantasy movie without much variation or originality. Again, not bad but I honestly a little baffled by how critically praised this was.

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#25

Post by sol » February 4th, 2019, 2:26 pm

Carmel:

Re: Ben Affleck, I assume you've seen Family Guy's takes on him? If not...
...these might amuse you.Show

I have always told you that Family Guy does the best movie parodies and whatnot. :lol:

Coryn:

I have seen them all and I'm not about to comment on all of them. :folded: :P Persona, Sunset Blvd. and Double Indemnity are all very high in my favourites list. Duck Soup isn't quite as great as its reputation might suggest, but with its war satire, it is easy to see why it is generally considered to the best Marx Brothers film. The mirror gag is certainly very well done. The gag had its origins in earlier movies (Seven Years Bad Luck) and reportedly on stage, but there is reason why everyone associates it with Duck Soup, it's that well done. And yeah, I didn't get the fuss about The Wild Bunch either at the time. Only seen it once, but Peckinpah is an incredibly uneven director in my books and I am not a fan of his trademark slowmo. The Getaway is probably my favourite from him, but I'm very partial to The Osterman Weekend too. But I acknowledge that I'm in the minority there.

peeps:

Oh, I'm no big fan of the Hudson/Day comedies that Down with Love parodies (Day's best work is Caprice if you ask me) but I wasn't expecting anything as quick-paced, energetic and full of funny double entendre as Down with Love turned out to be. A really nice surprise. Loved the split screens, e.g.:

Image

I would only cautiously recommend Svengali. I'm usually the first to sing John Barrymore's praises, but with his constant talking out loud to himself, addressing himself in the third person and so on, it is a bit of a hammy performance. And it's really only slightly a horror film.

Of yours, I have no strong memories of No Blade of Grass, Horror Express or Stargate. All were okayish in my books. I will hopefully see The Ghoul at some point this week since one of my side goals with the current 1930s Challenge is to make progress on the TS Zombies Canon and finally overtake peeptoad in the rankings. ;)

G_W_H:

Eye-to-eye on Green Book and Svengali. Not really much more to add... :unsure:
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#26

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » February 4th, 2019, 2:40 pm

Carmel1379 wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 7:27 pm
How do 'Heart of Darkness' (ok, I guess this one is rather obvious) and 'Gloria' fit in(-between) CLIMAX? Edit: French flag, k.
Yes, French flag, and also because the credits are spread out over the whole film. On further thought I could have done it backwards too, since the film also starts with the end credits (and with what chronologically is the last scene or at least is likely to take place at around the same time as the film's ending).
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#27

Post by peeptoad » February 4th, 2019, 3:04 pm

sol wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 2:26 pm
...is to make progress on the TS Zombies Canon and finally overtake peeptoad in the rankings. ;)
;) ha ha... scratch that for sure. I bet you are farther along on that one than I am. I did filter out the 30s films for this month; I hope to get to 10-15 of them. I think Mighty probably has us both beat on TSZDT.
Thanks for the visual reminder on DWL. That was some of the detail I was forgetting. It's probably not enough to make me rewatch the film though, unless I get a hankering again for Ewan (not likely). :P

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#28

Post by Carmel1379 » February 4th, 2019, 3:47 pm

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 2:40 pm
Carmel1379 wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 7:27 pm
How do 'Heart of Darkness' (ok, I guess this one is rather obvious) and 'Gloria' fit in(-between) CLIMAX? Edit: French flag, k.
Yes, French flag, and also because the credits are spread out over the whole film. On further thought I could have done it backwards too, since the film also starts with the end credits (and with what chronologically is the last scene or at least is likely to take place at around the same time as the film's ending).
Well yeah, that makes sense. I was just wondering if there are perhaps any thematic connections which placed those film within the CLIMAX "bracket". Since I know you recently told me you like to order the films in your posts in particular intuitively-meaningful ways. But 'Heart of Darkness' I certainly imagine (though I haven't seen this adaptation) seems like a rather apt film to see in the same week, both featuring inward and outward journeys into what Noé calls man's "reptilian brain", among other things.


Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques, dormez vous? dormez vous? Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines! Ding, daing, dong! Ding, daing, dong!
IMDb, letterboxd, tumblr
Image
whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#29

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » February 4th, 2019, 5:12 pm

@Carmel
"On the Beach At Night Alone - Grabbed this and a couple of his other films this week.
Trains Are For Dreaming - :thumbsup:
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial - I definitely saw it once when I was much younger, but it's been a bit murky in my memory (until I rewatched it 1(-2) year(s) ago), which I think can partly be attributed to how greatly the film plays with fog and darkness. Same goes for 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', especially in the first half and very last scene (although that one I only saw for the first time last year), which I seem to remember you saw pretty recently too. I definitely dig those kinds of shadowy suburban(-on-the-verge-of-a-forest/fields) aesthetics with electricity transmission lines and aliens."

I hope you enjoy Hong's films. You do like Rohmer a fair bit, right? Because there's a lot of Rhomerian tropes in his films. I ope you will like On the Beach At Night Alone, which is - of the 4 of his I've seen - the most surreal. As Michael Sicinski wrote in his review of the film: "The man who for so long has drawn comparisons to Rohmer is now possibly incorporating elements of Buñuel or even Kiyoshi Kurosawa." And I'd say that this approach made it to be a strong favorite of mine.

E.T. - Sure, I love the foggy, shadowy rural America aesthethics of both this and Close Encounters (which I watched two weeks ago), and generally both of the films are simply gorgeously shot. Stranger Things sure got its aesthethic from these (and many other things, basically that show is one of the most synthethic and composed things out, which is also part of its charm). But E.T. is simply one of the loveliest sci-fi films out there oozing with warmth, heartfelt emotion and the magic of childhood.

Only seen Gone Girl of yours, which is great. I'm looking forward to rewatching it at some point.
Probably going to watch the Sogo Ishii film at some point too.
Last edited by viktor-vaudevillain on February 4th, 2019, 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#30

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » February 4th, 2019, 6:09 pm

Carmel1379 wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 3:47 pm
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 2:40 pm
Carmel1379 wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 7:27 pm
How do 'Heart of Darkness' (ok, I guess this one is rather obvious) and 'Gloria' fit in(-between) CLIMAX? Edit: French flag, k.
Yes, French flag, and also because the credits are spread out over the whole film. On further thought I could have done it backwards too, since the film also starts with the end credits (and with what chronologically is the last scene or at least is likely to take place at around the same time as the film's ending).
Well yeah, that makes sense. I was just wondering if there are perhaps any thematic connections which placed those film within the CLIMAX "bracket". Since I know you recently told me you like to order the films in your posts in particular intuitively-meaningful ways. But 'Heart of Darkness' I certainly imagine (though I haven't seen this adaptation) seems like a rather apt film to see in the same week, both featuring inward and outward journeys into what Noé calls man's "reptilian brain", among other things.


Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques, dormez vous? dormez vous? Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines! Ding, daing, dong! Ding, daing, dong!
No thematic connection that I had in mind, though I could come up with some BS. But as for this ''Heart of Darkness' film, it seems to be a very faithful adaptation, and I assume you have read the novella, in which case I reckon you might find the film to be not too much more than a pale shadow of it. As a literature-curious lazy reader it's my jam, though. There's certainly much more unabashed soliloquizing and heady dialogue than in 'Apocalypse Now'. Retroactively I also could see the significance of transporting this story to the Vietnam War in that film (not to mention various other films that were inspired by "Heart of Darkness") but although I hate the American pigs and side with my Vietnamese comrades I'd have to say I find the original context more powerful. I am quite interested in the history of colonialism currently, so there is that, and this gave a picture of it I hadn't quite seen before as vividly as this. Now we take for granted that a lot of Africans speak French and are (officially) Christians (it always makes me a bit sad to see Westernized Africans, which by now apparently are almost all Africans, except for the few still living in tribes ✊) and this showed a point in time where you could see the invaders do their thing but still get a pretty good sense of the original cultures in the process of getting disrupted.
And at that point in history this area also was more truly uncharted territory for the Western "explorers" to venture into, making for a more powerful analogy for a journey within - confronted with war in a strange country Willard is busy trying to understand his own nation and American mindset while sticking to himself and his own people, while (in the Roeg film at least) Marlow actually is eager to make a connection with the Other, and confronts himself and his ideas of (national) self this way, but just as intensely, making for an enriching experience instead of resulting in a mere anti-agenda towards his own national ideologies (as grim as Kurtz' final words may be that leave such a big impression on Marlow). The horror. The horror.
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#31

Post by mightysparks » February 5th, 2019, 4:06 am

sol wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 11:55 am
mighty:

I generally find it easier to pen reviews directly - or within a few hours - after seeing a film rather than leaving it for days and penning tons of reviews one after each other all at once. In my youth (when I was closer to Carmel's age), I was all of the opinion that it was best to let films swim around in my mind and write about my lasting impressions once I have had time to mull them over. These days, I am more inspired to write when a film is fresh in my mind. Maybe just jot down a few notes afterwards that you can expand to full sentences later on?
Yea, I was trying to write a review - or at least notes - immediately after watching, but then I kept leaving it for days (especially while I was moving house and stuff, and now I'm in a binge mode where I don't want to write lol). So then I fall behind and forget or don't care anymore. Once I catch up I hope to get back in the habit of doing it immediately after. I feel like I'm just rushing to poop words out rather than really considering them now.
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#32

Post by Carmel1379 » February 5th, 2019, 4:42 am

viktor-vaudevillain wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 5:12 pm
I hope you enjoy Hong's films. You do like Rohmer a fair bit, right? Because there's a lot of Rhomerian tropes in his films. I ope you will like On the Beach At Night Alone, which is - of the 4 of his I've seen - the most surreal. As Michael Sicinski wrote in his review of the film: "The man who for so long has drawn comparisons to Rohmer is now possibly incorporating elements of Buñuel or even Kiyoshi Kurosawa." And I'd say that this approach made it to be a strong favorite of mine.

E.T. - Sure, I love the foggy, shadowy rural America aesthethics of both this and Close Encounters (which I watched two weeks ago), and generally both of the films are simply gorgeously shot. Stranger Things sure got its aesthethic from these (and many other things, basically that show is one of the most synthethic and composed things out, which is also part of its charm). But E.T. is simply one of the loveliest sci-fi films out there oozing with warmth, heartfelt emotion and the magic of childhood.

Only seen Gone Girl of yours, which is great. I'm looking forward to rewatching it at some point.
Probably going to watch the Sogo Ishii film at some point too.
I've only seen Rohmer's 'Le rayon vert' at this point (h/t GruesomeTwosome), but I loved that one. 'Pauline at the Beach' is the next one I'll see... sometime this year. The plot descriptions of Hong's films I've glanced at almost always involved people just out of university and/or immersed in (for whatever set of reasons) complicated romances -- both of those are big pluses for me.

Yeah, 'Stranger Things' consummates those aesthetics and bootstrapped me back to the influences ('The Iron Giant' is perhaps another one, but I haven't seen that in years). Artists like Simon Stålenhag, Daniel Danger, or Kim Dorland I think also capture the atmospherics pretty accurately (just to name a few random examples I could easily get from tumblr) (although most of their stuff is probably more on the dark/horror/gothic side). The scope is vast and haecceities indescribable, situated in a space where horror touches domesticity yet remains mostly hidden and composed, a space slowly encroached by The Weird and overwhelmed by The Eerie, while easily remaining rather playful (especially if it's pop-culture-versed kids which are the protagonists), not having lost touch with the ordinary human world. Anyway, I'll stop rambling.

The Crazy Family - A very fun watch. I don't really want to give away anything, but it comes recommended.
IMDb, letterboxd, tumblr
Image
whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#33

Post by Carmel1379 » February 5th, 2019, 6:20 am

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 6:09 pm
Carmel1379 wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 3:47 pm
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 2:40 pm
Yes, French flag, and also because the credits are spread out over the whole film. On further thought I could have done it backwards too, since the film also starts with the end credits (and with what chronologically is the last scene or at least is likely to take place at around the same time as the film's ending).
Well yeah, that makes sense. I was just wondering if there are perhaps any thematic connections which placed those film within the CLIMAX "bracket". Since I know you recently told me you like to order the films in your posts in particular intuitively-meaningful ways. But 'Heart of Darkness' I certainly imagine (though I haven't seen this adaptation) seems like a rather apt film to see in the same week, both featuring inward and outward journeys into what Noé calls man's "reptilian brain", among other things.


Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques, dormez vous? dormez vous? Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines! Ding, daing, dong! Ding, daing, dong!
No thematic connection that I had in mind, though I could come up with some BS. But as for this ''Heart of Darkness' film, it seems to be a very faithful adaptation, and I assume you have read the novella, in which case I reckon you might find the film to be not too much more than a pale shadow of it. As a literature-curious lazy reader it's my jam, though. There's certainly much more unabashed soliloquizing and heady dialogue than in 'Apocalypse Now'. Retroactively I also could see the significance of transporting this story to the Vietnam War in that film (not to mention various other films that were inspired by "Heart of Darkness") but although I hate the American pigs and side with my Vietnamese comrades I'd have to say I find the original context more powerful. I am quite interested in the history of colonialism currently, so there is that, and this gave a picture of it I hadn't quite seen before as vividly as this. Now we take for granted that a lot of Africans speak French and are (officially) Christians (it always makes me a bit sad to see Westernized Africans, which by now apparently are almost all Africans, except for the few still living in tribes ✊) and this showed a point in time where you could see the invaders do their thing but still get a pretty good sense of the original cultures in the process of getting disrupted.
And at that point in history this area also was more truly uncharted territory for the Western "explorers" to venture into, making for a more powerful analogy for a journey within - confronted with war in a strange country Willard is busy trying to understand his own nation and American mindset while sticking to himself and his own people, while (in the Roeg film at least) Marlow actually is eager to make a connection with the Other, and confronts himself and his ideas of (national) self this way, but just as intensely, making for an enriching experience instead of resulting in a mere anti-agenda towards his own national ideologies (as grim as Kurtz' final words may be that leave such a big impression on Marlow). The horror. The horror.
Yeah, I've read it twice, but a few years ago, such that I don't remember too many specifics off-hand. But as you predicted I have little interest in seeing Roeg's adaptation, which -- despite probably being decent, well-researched, and overall convincing-enough film -- I predict doesn't even come close in portraying the excruciating descriptions within the novel, where, in this case, I think the power of the language shatters what the visuals would have to offer (and viewers in general are likely already largely apathetic to), I mean, I take Roeg's visuals aren't up there on 'Apocalypse Now' levels, right?

I'm gonna try to find my old notebooks when I'm back at my parents', I've made some good abundant notes about the book there. I seem to remember noting about how Marlow's recollections would include descriptions of a distinct number of Westerners, each representing a particular type of person with his own agendas, but that neither he nor Kurtz can fully identify with any one of those characters and their interests, despite obviously sharing the same background and possibly having had those aspirations in the past as well. There are the economists-exploiters, willing to persevere through any heat to export the ivory back to Europe, the proper adventurers, the Christian missionaries, and more generally missionaries of "civilisation", with ambitions to civilise those "brutes" (or use it as an ironic cover for patronisation, to then later just dominate and conquer). I can see why that background -- as opposed to 'mere' armed conflicts in Vietnam -- would hence interest you. The half-settled Belgian Congo is now a space of complex behavioural dynamics, with all groups in disarray given their previous forms of adaptation have been disrupted. In the case of the whites one can trace how their carried civilisation-enlightenment ideals all crumble down, how those can only be upheld hypocritically with the white men projecting their own faults onto the natives because they cannot themselves easily adapt to the particular ecology they've travelled to, wrecking disorder. But more generally there's of course all kinds of feedback between the many groups involved, and as you said at that time the natives would've still had a lot of old traditions to hold onto.

But then the ivory trade is just a cover, which pales in comparison to the philosophical horrors of the deep dark jungle up at the end of the river. Kurtz doesn't care about commerce or civilisation (anymore), he is now an explorer of hell, the horror. Marlow/Willard voyages up there towards Kurtz, narrating and reflecting, while obviously adopting some of the darkness during the journey, which is more obvious in 'Apocalypse Now' (even if Willard may remain partly unconscious of it), at least in a distinctively visual way. I know Marlow in the novella since the very beginning, since his childhood has expressed fascination with the unknown and otherness, but he definitely does grapple with the notion of "civilisation" as well as Willard with Amurica, as you said. While in the end Willard reaches deeper into it the darkness. I haven't seen 'Apocalypse Now' or read the novella in a while though, and maybe Roeg's adaptation does something like this too? Anyway..
IMDb, letterboxd, tumblr
Image
whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#34

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » February 5th, 2019, 9:58 am

Carmel1379 wrote:
February 5th, 2019, 4:42 am
viktor-vaudevillain wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 5:12 pm
I hope you enjoy Hong's films. You do like Rohmer a fair bit, right? Because there's a lot of Rhomerian tropes in his films. I ope you will like On the Beach At Night Alone, which is - of the 4 of his I've seen - the most surreal. As Michael Sicinski wrote in his review of the film: "The man who for so long has drawn comparisons to Rohmer is now possibly incorporating elements of Buñuel or even Kiyoshi Kurosawa." And I'd say that this approach made it to be a strong favorite of mine.

E.T. - Sure, I love the foggy, shadowy rural America aesthethics of both this and Close Encounters (which I watched two weeks ago), and generally both of the films are simply gorgeously shot. Stranger Things sure got its aesthethic from these (and many other things, basically that show is one of the most synthethic and composed things out, which is also part of its charm). But E.T. is simply one of the loveliest sci-fi films out there oozing with warmth, heartfelt emotion and the magic of childhood.

Only seen Gone Girl of yours, which is great. I'm looking forward to rewatching it at some point.
Probably going to watch the Sogo Ishii film at some point too.
I've only seen Rohmer's 'Le rayon vert' at this point (h/t GruesomeTwosome), but I loved that one. 'Pauline at the Beach' is the next one I'll see... sometime this year. The plot descriptions of Hong's films I've glanced at almost always involved people just out of university and/or immersed in (for whatever set of reasons) complicated romances -- both of those are big pluses for me.

Yeah, 'Stranger Things' consummates those aesthetics and bootstrapped me back to the influences ('The Iron Giant' is perhaps another one, but I haven't seen that in years). Artists like Simon Stålenhag, Daniel Danger, or Kim Dorland I think also capture the atmospherics pretty accurately (just to name a few random examples I could easily get from tumblr) (although most of their stuff is probably more on the dark/horror/gothic side). The scope is vast and haecceities indescribable, situated in a space where horror touches domesticity yet remains mostly hidden and composed, a space slowly encroached by The Weird and overwhelmed by The Eerie, while easily remaining rather playful (especially if it's pop-culture-versed kids which are the protagonists), not having lost touch with the ordinary human world. Anyway, I'll stop rambling.

The Crazy Family - A very fun watch. I don't really want to give away anything, but it comes recommended.
If you loved Le rayon vert, you'll probably love many of his other films. Pauline a la plage and Conte d'ete especially.

I don't know those artists, but I suppose they're guys who are "tumblr-famous"? I quite like the stuff by Kim Dorland, there's a slight Edvard Munchian approach to his painting. But I suppose this "style" mostly works on film for me.
Is it your recent Mark Fisher obsession talking as well?

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#35

Post by Carmel1379 » February 5th, 2019, 11:20 am

viktor-vaudevillain wrote:
February 5th, 2019, 9:58 am
I don't know those artists, but I suppose they're guys who are "tumblr-famous"? I quite like the stuff by Kim Dorland, there's a slight Edvard Munchian approach to his painting. But I suppose this "style" mostly works on film for me.
Is it your recent Mark Fisher obsession talking as well?
"tumblr-famous" - Not that I know about that, but that's probably the platform I learned about them (might've also been the 41 Strange twitter account or something). Simon Stålenhag's digital artworks are illustrations for his science-fiction books (e.g. 'The Electric State') which are quite similar to Spielberg's science-fiction work.

Yeah, the gothic and expressionism (Munch indeed) also came to my mind. In poetry there's Georg Trakl, whom I can't recommend highly enough. Pretty much all of his poems contain motifs from nature and death (seen as vast enigmatic realms) that slowly creep to the human, likewise with(in) such intensely chilly, shadowy zone where there's still a presence from the human side, and so much that is still nostalgic and sweet. Sometimes it's the human who's exploring the outside (of the familiar, the village), becoming a solitary wanderer, a drunk stranger between taverns and forests, guided by his fremde sister (who, e.g. "has friendly words with ghosts"), into the darkness of the night. I've started making a concept map of Trakl's multifarious constellations (of imagery, stylistic devices, emotions, quotes, ...) in my notebook, but it's just an impossible task, his poetry simply dissolves all evaluation, it's pretty much impenetrable, just like feelings/impressions/atmospheres themselves. There are many religious overtones too (God's silence, God's solitary wind, dark angels), if that interests you. Well anyway, he's the best. (l)

"Is it your recent Mark Fisher obsession talking as well?" - I was hoping you'd pick up on that. ;) Yeah, definitely. If When you read his 'Ghosts of My Life' and 'The Weird and The Eerie' I think it'll be no surprise to you why his ideas continue being such influences in my schauung of art, how they help picking it apart, understand why I enjoy something and then making me love it more. Mark's examples and references are also just a delight to pursuit, he's definitely one of those gateway thinkers. k-punk :wub:
IMDb, letterboxd, tumblr
Image
whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#36

Post by GruesomeTwosome » February 5th, 2019, 3:13 pm

Hey sol. From yours, I've seen Half Nelson and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

I have a very dim memory of Half Nelson, though I recall Baby Goose being quite good in it. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was a nice rebound for the Coens after the decent but somewhat underwhelming Hail, Caesar! I enjoyed all 6 vignettes, to varying degrees. The initial segment with Tim Blake Nelson, and the story starring Zoe Kazan, were probably my favs; I thought that the film ended with its weakest segment (the one with Brendan Gleeson among others), though it's still quite effective in its own right and I found it made for a fitting conclusion. But yeah, this thing was Coens-y to the max, all of their trademarks that any Coen fan would love (plenty of their particular brand of humor, bursts of violence, mostly bleak endings).


My viewings last week:

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019, Dan Gilroy) - 6/10

Attack the Block (2011, Joe Cornish) - 7/10

Massive Attack: The Spoils (2016 music video, John Hillcoat) - 6/10
I’m to remember every man I've seen fall into a plate of spaghetti???

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#37

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » February 5th, 2019, 4:22 pm

Carmel1379 wrote:
February 5th, 2019, 6:20 am
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 6:09 pm
Carmel1379 wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 3:47 pm
Well yeah, that makes sense. I was just wondering if there are perhaps any thematic connections which placed those film within the CLIMAX "bracket". Since I know you recently told me you like to order the films in your posts in particular intuitively-meaningful ways. But 'Heart of Darkness' I certainly imagine (though I haven't seen this adaptation) seems like a rather apt film to see in the same week, both featuring inward and outward journeys into what Noé calls man's "reptilian brain", among other things.


Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques, dormez vous? dormez vous? Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines! Ding, daing, dong! Ding, daing, dong!
No thematic connection that I had in mind, though I could come up with some BS. But as for this ''Heart of Darkness' film, it seems to be a very faithful adaptation, and I assume you have read the novella, in which case I reckon you might find the film to be not too much more than a pale shadow of it. As a literature-curious lazy reader it's my jam, though. There's certainly much more unabashed soliloquizing and heady dialogue than in 'Apocalypse Now'. Retroactively I also could see the significance of transporting this story to the Vietnam War in that film (not to mention various other films that were inspired by "Heart of Darkness") but although I hate the American pigs and side with my Vietnamese comrades I'd have to say I find the original context more powerful. I am quite interested in the history of colonialism currently, so there is that, and this gave a picture of it I hadn't quite seen before as vividly as this. Now we take for granted that a lot of Africans speak French and are (officially) Christians (it always makes me a bit sad to see Westernized Africans, which by now apparently are almost all Africans, except for the few still living in tribes ✊) and this showed a point in time where you could see the invaders do their thing but still get a pretty good sense of the original cultures in the process of getting disrupted.
And at that point in history this area also was more truly uncharted territory for the Western "explorers" to venture into, making for a more powerful analogy for a journey within - confronted with war in a strange country Willard is busy trying to understand his own nation and American mindset while sticking to himself and his own people, while (in the Roeg film at least) Marlow actually is eager to make a connection with the Other, and confronts himself and his ideas of (national) self this way, but just as intensely, making for an enriching experience instead of resulting in a mere anti-agenda towards his own national ideologies (as grim as Kurtz' final words may be that leave such a big impression on Marlow). The horror. The horror.
Yeah, I've read it twice, but a few years ago, such that I don't remember too many specifics off-hand. But as you predicted I have little interest in seeing Roeg's adaptation, which -- despite probably being decent, well-researched, and overall convincing-enough film -- I predict doesn't even come close in portraying the excruciating descriptions within the novel, where, in this case, I think the power of the language shatters what the visuals would have to offer (and viewers in general are likely already largely apathetic to), I mean, I take Roeg's visuals aren't up there on 'Apocalypse Now' levels, right?

I'm gonna try to find my old notebooks when I'm back at my parents', I've made some good abundant notes about the book there. I seem to remember noting about how Marlow's recollections would include descriptions of a distinct number of Westerners, each representing a particular type of person with his own agendas, but that neither he nor Kurtz can fully identify with any one of those characters and their interests, despite obviously sharing the same background and possibly having had those aspirations in the past as well. There are the economists-exploiters, willing to persevere through any heat to export the ivory back to Europe, the proper adventurers, the Christian missionaries, and more generally missionaries of "civilisation", with ambitions to civilise those "brutes" (or use it as an ironic cover for patronisation, to then later just dominate and conquer). I can see why that background -- as opposed to 'mere' armed conflicts in Vietnam -- would hence interest you. The half-settled Belgian Congo is now a space of complex behavioural dynamics, with all groups in disarray given their previous forms of adaptation have been disrupted. In the case of the whites one can trace how their carried civilisation-enlightenment ideals all crumble down, how those can only be upheld hypocritically with the white men projecting their own faults onto the natives because they cannot themselves easily adapt to the particular ecology they've travelled to, wrecking disorder. But more generally there's of course all kinds of feedback between the many groups involved, and as you said at that time the natives would've still had a lot of old traditions to hold onto.

But then the ivory trade is just a cover, which pales in comparison to the philosophical horrors of the deep dark jungle up at the end of the river. Kurtz doesn't care about commerce or civilisation (anymore), he is now an explorer of hell, the horror. Marlow/Willard voyages up there towards Kurtz, narrating and reflecting, while obviously adopting some of the darkness during the journey, which is more obvious in 'Apocalypse Now' (even if Willard may remain partly unconscious of it), at least in a distinctively visual way. I know Marlow in the novella since the very beginning, since his childhood has expressed fascination with the unknown and otherness, but he definitely does grapple with the notion of "civilisation" as well as Willard with Amurica, as you said. While in the end Willard reaches deeper into it the darkness. I haven't seen 'Apocalypse Now' or read the novella in a while though, and maybe Roeg's adaptation does something like this too? Anyway..
Well, the film is quite wordy and I reckon a lot of it is taken from the book verbatim. But it feels natural enough as part of the dialogues between Marlow and the various other characters, most notably with the Congo native that he devolops a strong connection with, which was something that was missing in 'Apocolypse Now', and' there might actually be significantly less voice-overs than in the Francis Ford Coppola film. So I felt I actually got a pretty good idea of how well-written the book is, much like with Luhrmann's 'The Great Gatsby'. Visually I found Roeg's film certainly convincing and smartly framed but it was more the writing for me that made it what it was for me. Not saying that it wasn't also an experience and decently atmospheric. For pure spectacle this "TV movie" can't match 'Apocalypse Now', of course.

What you wrote there reminds me of how the Roeg film suggests that Marlow is very much like Kurtz when he was young and started going into the Congo. It's never spelled out but this connection is implied throughout the film. And, well, Marlow in the film never has any interests in the ivory business and is very much a doubter from the start, but there is a progression on his journey that makes him align more with Kurtz line of thinking, and with meeting Kurtz he embraces the "darkness" fully. With 'Apocolypse Now' I never quite got the sense that Willard's journey to the end of the river changed him much or at all, as he apparently already went through so much in the war and got fucked up by it when the film starts, all the progression occurs only once he reaches Kurtz' area and listens to the man. In Roeg's film Marlow rubs the blood of his Congo friend over his face after he gets arrowed to death on the boat, and he "goes a little mad"/is more hardened from then on, I guess this would be the equivalent to the 'Apocalypse Now' gif you linked to.
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#38

Post by OldAle1 » February 5th, 2019, 7:50 pm

A BIG week for me, numbers-wise - extreme cold + no necessity of going out much = lots of movie watching! Apart from some re-watches, it wasn't as strong on quality as numbers, but pretty decent in terms of variety I guess.

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED

Kosmicheskiy reys: Fantasticheskaya novella / The Space Voyage / Cosmic Journey (Vasily Zhuravlyov, 1935)

Late - very late - silent production about the first trip to the moon, commanded by the elderly Prof. Sedikh, who has to overcome other bureaucrats and scientists who don't want him to go. Also on board are a younger man, a woman (amazing how many early films about spaceflight assume that women will be part of the mix initially - one area in which SF was often much more progressive than the real world) and a teenaged boy stowaway. This is a fast-paced (65 minutes in the copy I watched) very pro-science and optimistic vision of a lunar exploration, with only a little bit of real conflict and danger impinging on the tranquility and joy overall, which might make it sound boring, but the amazing production design, miniature work and stop-motion sequences (for the on-foot lunar exploration) make it very much worthwhile - like The Tunnel from the same year this is another expensive "epic" SF film that is almost in hailing distance from Things to Come and probably would be if the story were a little more interesting and it were a little longer. And it's more accurate than most SF of this era, with the moon's lesser gravity and lack of atmosphere taken into account for example, and the shock of liftoff in a rocket noted - though the solution for the acceleration's effect on the body is not exactly viable or one that I've seen in any other film. Really cool and deserving of more notice from anyone interested in early SF for sure.

Ivan Vasilevich menyaet professiyu / Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future (Leonid Gaidai, 1973)

Silly farce about a time machine inventor who accidentally sends two others back to the 16th century while bringing Ivan the Terrible to the present, with madcap chases, mix-ups (Ivan the Terrible looks just like the Ivan who was sent back in time, and they are played by the same actor) and, oh, a few songs. This is apparently a "mafia" movie, on lots of lists because of intense up-voting from mostly Russians and if you look at icm comments they're a lot like many of the comments about Bollywood and Turkish mainstream films that are all over the IMDb lists. As usual with many of these films, I didn't find this nearly as terrible as a lot of folks do, in fact I could say that I enjoyed it slightly, but it's really marginal and not just because of my different American sense of humor as opposed to it's Russian cultural background - much of this actually struck me as very much like many mainstream American and British comedies of a few years earlier, e.g. The Pink Panther and other Peter Sellers and/or Blake Edwards films - the music in particular and the many sped-up sequences. And I don't like a lot of those films either though there are certainly a few that I liked more than this. Slapstick post-silent-era is just really hard to get right, or it's really hard for me to like it, and if this worked at all it's mostly because of the performance by Yuriy Yakovlev in the title role(s) - he's pretty funny even when just standing still. Chalk another one up for the Mafia!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti/Peter Ramsey/Rodney Rothman, 2018)

Cinema. First let me say that it's nice that this film hasn't had it's ratings or reviews trashed on IMDb or other sources that I've seen. Why would it, you ask? Because it's SO "PC" with it's black/Latino Spider-man protagonist, two spider-women, and a generally ethnically/gender inclusive view of New York and the superhero world - and such films have gotten pretty heavily slammed over the last few years (look at Wonder Woman and Black Panther in particular). So it's surprising that this hasn't - and I don't think it's that people have grown up, and I'd be surprised if IMDb is policing ratings & reviews more than it did just a few months ago. Weird. In any case, I will just say that I really loved the animation, the look of the thing generally, and most of the voice work (CAGE!!!), but the storyline and the way the narrative progressed just weren't all that exciting or fresh to me - I really thought a lot more could have been done with the multiple-universe/multiple-spider-people idea but it really just ends up in the place of "you've got to find out what being a hero means yourself'" space that half of all the superhero films have lived in, and the ending is thus ultra-predictable. So, to my mind worth it for the production values which are pretty cool, but as a narrative there really isn't anything new here, especially if you've seen or read any of the zillions of multiverse/alternative timeline stories that have proliferated in science fiction and comics since, oh, H.G. Wells.

Act of Violence (Fred Zinnemann, 1949) (re-watch)

I first saw this in 2005 or 2006, as a rental from my local video store at the time - I guess my last local video store, at least up to the present - just as I was really starting to get serious about noir. I had seen plenty of dark thrillers from the 40s and 50s when I was younger, usually in the cinema, but for whatever reason I had never really connected with the "film noir" label, perhaps because the cinemas I used to go to in Chicago that played old movies didn't typically do genre-themed series. So I knew the Hitchcock, Lang, Welles films that are labeled as noir, but as yet lacked the language to connect them. Seeing several films during the period mentioned, living in Richmond VT, alone and isolated, and just having one friend to talk about them with, and then going and reading some books on noir - that put me into the world. And this film was the key work if any one film was. There's really just about nothing for me to criticize here - oh, perhaps the wife, played well enough by a very young Janet Leigh, could have been stronger? But no, she and the two other significant female characters (Phyllis Thaxter as Ryan's girlfriend, and Mary Astor as a tired and cynical hooker) all leave pretty strong impressions, very strong in fact given that the film really belongs to Van Heflin as a builder living the ideal life with the young wife in the suburbs, and Robert Ryan as the bitter revenge-fueled ghost from the past. The nightmarish chase sequence with Heflin running through the silent, dark streets of L.A., and the ending - still packing a wallop even when I knew what was coming - are merely the high points in this masterpiece, one of the greatest of the genre/style and one of the greatest films about our collective dark pasts and the specter of World War II as it still hung over the world years later.

In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950) (re-watch)

TCM with Eddie Mueller intro - how could I not watch this when he announced that it's his all-time favorite film? And it was one I'd been meaning to check out again anyway. I think I first saw this around 2006 or so, near the point when I really got taken in by noir - as a matter of fact not long after the above film. This one - perhaps its because as Mueller suggests, it isn't really anything like an archetypal noir - it's much more invested in the characters than in the crime elements - doesn't quite hit the peak for me, still, though I did get more into it this time than I did a dozen or so years ago, and with Gloria Grahame and Bogart both near their peaks, what's not to like? Nothing - it's just that there are things that still don't work perfectly for me, principally Bogart's character who is soooo violent and moody that it sort of beggars belief that he'd have ANY friends or work anymore, unless he were absolutely at the peak of the profession, which he doesn't seem to be. And the whole car / beat down episode rings a little too much for me I guess. These are minor quibbles, its still a pretty great film, just not for me in that realm of best-ever candidates.

A Burlesque on Carmen (Charles Chaplin, 1915) - Chaplin's take on Carmen offers more pathos than usual this early in his career, and one of the best comic fight sequences he ever filmed. I don't get the brilliance that JR or some others see I guess, after one viewing, but then I rarely do with his shorts - I go to Keaton for brilliance in the 10-30 minute range usually. I dunno, there's just less excitement in his mise en scene or something. But it's still fun, and I personally loved the finale.

Get Out of the Car (Thom Andersen, 2010) - Andersen investigates vanished and vanishing Los Angeles in the form of signage and disappearing businesses, especially focusing on the Hispanic influence on the city, which from this reportage would seem to be diminishing as well. Interesting as always but I suppose I don't find this quite as compelling as most of his other work that I've seen, at least not yet. I think I need to do a whole day of Thom Andersen sometime soon though.

Peter Thompson shorts:

Two Portraits (Anything Else + Shooting Scripts) (1982) - I'm not sure why this first diptych is run together on IMDb/ICM - its two separate but linked films, just like the next two, but in any case this is fascinating but I think not as interesting as a "film" as it might be as a "diary" or document of lives; that is, while the stop-frame technique showing the father while Thompson describes his life as a series of numbers and dates is attractive in a way, it's not exactly "cinematic", nor is the nearly motionless view of his mother while her offscreen voice reads from her diary particularly interesting as cinema either - it's the words, and the thinking about the two afterwards, and during the second part, that make it something more than just dry-ish recitations. I don't know, that doesn't say much, I don't know how to express it well. It's something to get used to with more of the director's work and more viewings I guess, not sure what to make of it.

Universal Hotel + Universal Citizen (1986/7) - these were more interesting and "dynamic" if that's the right word, more "cinematic" if still quite essayistic and dry at times. The first film is mostly an examination of research into hypothermia conducted by Nazi doctors at Dachau, while the second involves an interaction between Thompson and his wife with a Jewish Dachau survivor now living in Guatemala with his adopted child. On the surface these are both in a sense travelogues - since Thompson went to Europe to investigate the medical experiments in the first part - but there is an awful lot more to them, dealing with the nature of memory and the nature of identity - the "universal" element certainly, as each "character" - Thomspon, his wife, the Nazis, their victims, the Universal Citizen who is the main focus of the second film, etc - each display multiple identities, each have multiple roles to play in the complex world of these very short films. Again, like the first diptych, fairly simple on the surface, but with much to explore further, and I feel that I am inadequate to the task of really getting at what makes these interesting and special just yet.

Kivski Freski (Sergei Parajanov, 1966) - hard to say much about this, fragments of work Parajanov was doing for several different films, among them it seems Sayat Nova, but also stuff that was quite unfamiliar, some of it more "modern" and rather avant-garde. Interesting, but it would take more viewings and probably a better copy (the colors in particular, very washed out here) to say more.

Der Schweigende Stern / The Silent Star (Kurt Maetzig, 1960)

An interesting, if hardly original concept even in 1960 - evidence from the Tunguska explosion of 1908 is found to show the existence of life on Venus, and a team of astronauts prepares to visit the "silent star" (because nothing more has been heard from the planet in 50 years). The first half of the film is well mounted with an interestingly racially/ethnically/nationally mixed team of 8 astronauts (cosmonauts?) embarking on the trip. Only one woman and she is of course the doctor; bare hints of a romance between her and one of the others are stifled but in a manner that makes sense. While en route the team discovers dark secrets about the Venusians, and then they land, and this is where the film goes from mildly interesting to really cool, almost even AWESOME because of the truly exceptional production design - reminiscent in some ways of This Island Earth in it's alien designs, but much more sophisticated and surreal. The Venusians are evidently hostile, and the team has to figure out how to stop them - if they can find them - and get back to earth after being caught in a gravity field. Numerous references to Hiroshima and nuclear war make this clearly a pacifist statement, though one unquestionable couched in Communist rhetoric. All in all it's certainly not perfect but for me at least highly memorable in it's second half and one of the most impressive SF productions from anywhere from this period.

Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983)

And on the other end of the scale in terms of production values is this extremely low budget piece of feminist agitprop about a women's army developing and moving towards armed resistance to the new democratic socialist government of the USA, which has promised much but delivered little. Interesting in that it doesn't take a socialist, more equitably-run society for granted, and instead suggests that only in an absolute and radical equality imposed by the people from below can a truly livable state exist. Of course this is something that has been preached by Marxists for a century and has existed in other forms for even longer, but seeing it expressed in an American narrative feature is pretty unusual and the accent on women's and minority rights - in the age of Reagan - is unmistakably born out of righteous anger at the time. I wonder what Lizzie Borden and her actresses think about 2018 America? A timely film then, even more timely now, and the last few minutes of the film in particular will carry a jolt to most audiences, even if they have a hard time with the low budget, amateurish and proselytizing nature of the film as a whole.

Gorod Zero / City Zero (Karen Shakhnarazov, 1988)

This bit of end-of-Soviet-era absurdity is listed as "science fiction" on IMDb but I defy anybody to tell me what makes it deserving of that label; however I can see the argument for "fantasy" - of the Kafkaesque/Buñuel/Lynch/Ruiz surreal, at times nightmare form, so perhaps it does belong in the challenge. And it's worth seeing I think though ultimately besides the warm, soft, slightly muted photography I don't know that there's anything here that fans of any of the artists I just mentioned won't have seen before; another point of congruence might be Konwicki's Salto, though the storyline here as it develops is sort of the reverse of that film; in the Konwicki, a man comes to a small town where he claims he belongs, but is disbelieved, while in Gorod Zero our Muscovite protagonist is visiting a small town for the first time on a job, but finds himself apparently the son of the chef in a local restaurant - who doesn't look any older than he does. There's also an IMMENSE wax museum located under the town, a beautiful secretary who works in the nude, a train station that maybe doesn't exist, and a lot of other impossible occurrences. I'm not sure it added up to very much but on the whole I enjoyed the ride.

Show Boat (George Sidney, 1951)

Memories of the 1936 James Whale film are dimming, but if they are still accurate I liked that film a little more than this color remake, which is not to say that this isn't pretty good in it's own right. Both films offer a lead actress with an operatic voice - Irene Dunne in the 1936, Kathryn Grayson in this film, and in general I'm not a huge fan of the classical type voice in standard Hollywood musicals, but they both work OK; Dunne maybe was a better actress and brought out a little humor to the essentially pathos-ridden role. Ava Gardner, like Rita Hayworth and a few other actresses who made their careers on their looks alone, had more to offer but rarely got the chance, and she does plenty with her secondary role here, though we don't get to hear her voice in the film; she was apparently credible enough in her handling of the songs, but Hollywood in those days nearly always was looking for a beautiful voice rather than real emotion so Annette Warren dubbed her - though strangely it's Gardner on the soundtrack album! And William Warfield is great on "Old Man River", but Paul Robeson was maybe just a touch greater. And it's a good story at heart, and along with South Pacific one of the very few musicals to tackle race in a progressive way in the classic era, though we've never gotten a film version of either that entirely does them justice, in the case of Show Boat largely because the original stage musical was very long and the era of the 3-hour-plus musical wasn't yet here when this, the last theatrical film version, was made. Someday? Unlikely.

Liquid Sky (Slava Tsukerman, 1982)

Sex, drugs, rock and roll (punk/new wave), fashion, and aliens. A cool looking - probably cooler in a better copy than what I watched - and sounding film but that's about it for me. There are aliens in New York that apparently have a craving or need for heroin, and they somehow make a young woman kill a bunch of people through sex. Or something like that. I honestly didn't give much of a shit about this and while it was rather beautiful at times, and Anne Carlisle was fascinating to watch in her dual role, it was punishingly long at almost 2 hours of nothing to care about. I know this has fans - maybe caring more about the NY punk scene of the time, or having more drug experiences would have helped my appreciation, dunno. Kind of a down note to finish off the BFI 100 list, oh well, most of the rest of that list is pretty cool and at least this isn't the same as everything else, some points for originality.

Noviciat (Noël Burch, 1965) - sort of a feminist - S&M fantasy about a peeping tom watching a group of female martial artists train, until he gets captured by them and made their slave. At first he's just a punching bag for them but later the (literal) boot-licking begins. Reminds me in some ways of Rivette, in particular Noroît, in the sense of it being a female-empowerment portrait linked to fetishism and possibly lesbianism with a vague aura of surrealism. Very enjoyable, beyond that I'm not sure...

Phillips-Radio (Joris Ivens, 1931) - typically brilliant Ivens industrial film, showing the process of making radios at the Philips factory in the Netherlands. Poetic and beautifully put together, showing the start-to-finish process from the point when raw materials are brought into the factory to when the finished products are sent out; one gets a sense of real quality control here, of a product made the best it can be - whether that represents the reality of the company at the time is another matter.

Blow Job (Andy Warhol, 1963)

A half an hour of the face of DeVeren Bookwalter as he gets a BJ from an unseen Willard Maas. What's to say about this? The high-contrast black-and-white image, which sometimes obscures the Bookwalter's eyes, is beautiful. The reality is palpable. I don't know, the title and running time should give you an idea of what you're getting into; I guess I found it rather entrancing in it's way, perhaps in the context of watching other experimental shorts at the same time it was an interesting change of pace. I'm not sure that in this day and age when we can see similar work all over the place it can have the kind of impact it did then, or for that matter the kind of impact it would have had on me had I seen it in 1989 instead of 2019.

Vinyl (Andy Warhol, 1965)

I've seen very little from Warhol, and after watching this and Blow Job I'm not necessarily interested in exploring more of his canon - Official Checks or no. I don't think it''s that I can't appreciate amateur film-making, or deliberately transgressive work, or the 60s milieu, or anything like that - I love the two Jack Smith films I've seen for example - but Warhol, in this film in particular, pretty much leaves me cold. Looking at Edie Sedgwick, sitting on the right edge of the screen smoking for an hour was the most enjoyable aspect here, though I guess there are other moments too - the sort of asexuality of both Sedgwick and the bondage/S&M elements contrast interestingly with the only really lively parts, when Gerard Malanga is dancing like crazy to "Nowhere to Run"; pop music is a lot more exciting than sex, apparently - or perhaps pop music IS sex. Anyway, not worthless but not much else either.

The Wishing Ring: An Idyll of Old England (Maurice Tourneur, 1914)

Charming but ultimately not terribly memorable romantic comedy with a fairly typical basic plot - good-for-nothing son of rich guy is thrown out of school, has to show his father that he's worth something before he can rejoin the family, goes to work and falls in love with kindhearted girl who decides to try to reconcile the family. The girl (Vivian Martin) is a bit more resourceful and aggressive than usual in a film of this era, and I especially liked the scene where she first goes to the old man and essentially pushes all the servants away - that's right, the women are smarter.

The Deadman (Peggy Ahwesh/Keith Sanborn, 1987) A dead naked man on a bed, and a woman, naked but for a thin see-through coat runs away in the rain to a bar, where she proceeds to engage in various sexual acts with the barkeep and various patrons, before leaving with "the count". More sex, peeing, vomiting, death. Oh, it's black and white, and there are titles as in a silent film - and occasional narration - and sound that is sometimes direct and sometimes synched - or unsynched - I think. What seems to be at times just an overtly transgressive piece of porn has a lot more going on underneath, and the way in which the soundtrack and titles interact and reflect on each other is a bit part of it, though I would also note that if you turned the sound off and skipped the titles, you would essentially get the "story" without much trouble. Very strange and sometimes repellent but interesting - not sure I liked it, or that like has much meaning here, but I guess I'm glad I watched it - once.

Kramasha / To Be Continued (Amit Dutta, 2007) - A beautiful musing on place and family, with a poetic and at times quite obscure narration as we see images of a semi-ruined house, or maybe mansion would be a better word, and a family that lived there. The narration rarely stops and there's a huge amount of information given, which doesn't always seem pertinent to what we're seeing, and it's fairly exhausting intellectually - Ruiz' Colloque de chiens, which is exactly the same length, came to mind as a reference in terms of the density of material, though completely different in every other way. Really quite stunning and something I'll probably watch again soon just to take in more.

The Fighting Gringo (David Howard, 1939)
Trouble in Sundown (David Howard, 1939)

TCM. Two George O'Brien b-westerns, both OK with the first one just a little more interesting. It features O'Brien and his "gang" getting involved in a land dispute, where naturally the big land owner is trying to steal from a little guy; what makes this marginally of interest is that the small landowner is Hispanic and there's a little bit of a progressive attitude here about how the whites have been stealing from the Mexicans forever; also the Don and his daughter are actually played by Hispanic actors - the Chilean Lucio Villegas as Don Aliso, and Mexican Lupita Tovar as the daughter Anita. It would really have been progressive had O'Brien's character carried through on the implied romance, but that was probably a bridge too far.

Trouble in Sundown has an equally familiar story - a bank robbery and a frame up, as rich guy tries to gain control over the whole town with the help of henchmen by blaming it all on the bank president; this is just too pat and obvious to really be of much value, though it does have Ward Bond as a bad guy, and Chill Wills as O'Brien's sidekick, so worthwhile for western fans in that regard.

Come on Danger (Edward Killy, 1942)

Also TCM. A Tim Holt western, made the same year as his shot for stardom in The Magnificent Ambersons. Here Holt is a Texas Ranger sent to bring in a female bandit (Frances Neal) who supposedly murdered a local rancher. This starts out really well - there's a typical song to open, played by a jug band in a bar, interrupted by a couple of guys telling the musicians to stop because they hate music! I don't recall that kind of opening in a western, and for the first few minutes this proceeds almost like a parody. A bar fight ensues and the barkeep puts up a screen over his fancy mirror - and then a sign saying free drinks if the mirror doesn't break. And there are some other amusing bits in the first couple of reels, but then it settles into a rather conventional b-plot, with bad guys framing good guys to get all the land, and all of it pretty obvious, blah blah blah. Still the opening makes it worth seeing, and Holt is a reasonably credible western hero - I think this is the first of his starring roles in a western I've seen.

Seryy Volk end Krasnaya Shapochka / Grey Wolf & Little Red Riding Hood (Garri Bardin 1991) Truly bizarre stop motion animation that brings together not just the Wolf and Red Riding Hood, but also the Three Little Pigs, the Three Musketeers, music of Kurt Weill and others in a delirious and colorful musical adventure extravaganza. I felt that in the second half it got to be a bit much - too much stuff thrown in to distract from whatever story was there - but I still really enjoyed the inventiveness throughout.

Karlson vernulsya / Karlson Returns (Boris Stepantsev, 1970) - never trust IMDb ratings and rankings! A fairly boring, and boringly animated story about a kid with a new nanny who's longing for his apparently imaginary friend Karlson, sort of a fairy with a propeller, to come and take him away or at least make life more interesting. Shades of "The Cat in the Hat" though for all I know the source this was based on is older. Anyway, slightly amusing at times but pretty forgettable.

What Price Hollywood? (George Cukor, 1932)

TCM. As we are informed by Ben Mankiewicz, this is not *precisely* A Star is Born, but that didn't stop a lawsuit in 1937 when the first film by that name appeared. Well, yeah, not exactly - but pretty darn close. The major difference between this and future versions is that the 2-character drama becomes a 3-character triangle, with the up-and-coming actress (Constance Bennett) falling for a wealthy playboy (Neil Hamilton) instead of for the hard-drinking director (Lowell Sherman) who discovers her. This is pretty decent, with the solid acting especially by Sherman, but the addition of the third character allows for a completely different ending which in this case really doesn't work IMO and detracts from the power of the story we've been watching.

Gibel sensatsii / Loss of Feeling / Robot of Jim Ripple (Aleksandr Andriyevsky, 1935)

I had no idea when starting this that it was based on Karel Čapek's play R.U.R , which I read a long, long time ago - reading the synopsis on Wiki it looks like this doesn't have much at all to do with the original work (yes kids, it's not just Hollywood that changes writers' works until they are unrecognizable) which was certainly not a piece of Communist propaganda, as this ends up being. It's somewhat dull in it's first half, with the main drama being the conflict between two brothers, Jim and Jack Ripple - Jim is an inventor who thinks that his robots will ultimately benefit mankind, even if initially they will take away labor jobs - Jack is the head of the labor union. Lots of arguing and fighting, the robots ultimately get built and, this being a Soviet film of the 30s, you can guess which brother ends up being right. The robots are fairly impressive, 3 meters tall or so, and the effects and production design are quality for this period for sure, but on the whole this is a little too didactic and less interesting than most of the other serious SF films from the decade that I've seen from this or other countries.

Captain Video, Master of the Stratosphere (Spencer Gordon Bennett/Walter Grissell, 1951)

15-part Columbia serial running just shy of 5 hours, based on the popular TV series - the only serial ever based on a TV series, the second of the company's three sci-fi serials and the only sci-fi serial from the 50s that I've seen that's any good at all - though picking a "good" serial over a "bad" one, particularly in the later era of it's popularity, is in some ways akin to comparing a "so-bad-it's-good" film over one that's merely bad. All serials (all American studio examples that is) are repetitive, juvenile, and cheap, and this certainly shares all those features with the likes of the following year's Radar Men From the Moon which I watched earlier this month. But the acting is just slightly less meretricious, the new inventions that they showcase in every episode are totally silly, some of the ways in which they contrive their ways out of the cliffhangers are nuts, and it's all played dead serious, which makes it all the funnier. And there's a little more variety overall in the chases and action than in some of the worst examples, though I think almost every cliffhanger ends in an explosion. The storyline is essentially the same as Radar Men and half a dozen other SF serials - bad guys from another planet (which you can get to in about 5 minutes apparently) want to conquer earth, with the aid of a traitor scientist (who is OBVIOUSLY a traitor to anyone watching, but who the "brilliant" Captain Video can't believe is a sellout until around episode 10). The main character is only referred to as "Captain VIdeo" and his sidekick as "Ranger" - though there are a bunch of other "video rangers" as well. Deliriously wonderful in it's way, if you can get into serials. Given that mine is only the 2nd check and that most serials I've seen have only a handful of checks, I guess most people find these a bridge too far - and of course very few of them are Official, the final kiss of death.

Moon Zero Two (Roy Ward Baker, 1969)

Kind of a loss to explain why this film has such poor ratings - no, it's not any great shakes, but it's a fun and very colorful late 60s adventure much in the same vein as The Green Slime or some of Antonio Margheriti's films like the Gamma Quadrilogy. Oh wait, those aren't that highly regarded either. Oh well, me I just enjoy this kind of thing - space salvage guy James Olson is hired to move an asteroid full of sapphires to the Moon by a super-rich guy - all pretty shady - meanwhile romancing/helping out Catherine Schell, whose brother has been working a mining claim on the far side of the Moon that just so happens to... well you can guess. Cool music and sets, decent if pretty broad acting all around, and a cool animated opening title. It probably ain't art but I thought it was groovy, man.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927) (re-watch)

TCM, third or fourth viewing, probably first on video or tv. Is this where the Oscars - and maybe Hollywood - started to go wrong? By assigning a special award, suggesting that "artistic" was something different from the "normal" Best Picture, was this the beginning of the ghettoization of the arthouse and of anything personal and made by an "auteur"? Probably not... probably the seeds were already there from the first days of film or, hell, from the whole general appeals to the common man - which always meant dumb and simple, as if one has to have a PhD to be smart, as if one can't appreciate art without thousands of house of exposure to high culture... but it FEELS like it. It's a statement - here's one for the masses, here's one for the highbrows, but oh, fuck it, fuck the highbrows, we'll just keep the award for the masses thank you very much. To be blunt if Black Panther wins Best Picture this year, it will be closer to a representation of how Hollywood has always seen itself - and these awards - than any other winner could be.

But I digress just because I always wanted to write something like that, not that it has so much to do with the film at hand, which is certainly "artsy" in style, and perhaps slightly in it's narrative, but not at all in terms of it's basic theme, which couldn't be simpler - the eternal war between the rural and bucolic and the urban and frantic, the virginal and homey and the lustful and wild, between the clearness of day and the mystery of night. I hadn't seen it for probably 20 years so it was only fragmentary in memory - how I envy those of you who can recall in detail films seen decades ago - which made it all the more enjoyable in many respects. It really is quite a remarkable achievement, especially in Murnau's penchant here for big sets full of dozens of extras and loads of detail in both those sets and the mattes and backgrounds, though I have to say that in some ways it feels a little less novel to me now than decades ago, having seen so many more films in the interim from the period, though in terms of really similar works I'm not sure that anything but Lonesome is in the same ballpark. It's not that it's any less great then, it's just that it has more competition in my larger mental framework, and it's possible that it would no longer be my easy pick for a favorite silent feature. In any case a great way to start off the month and challenge.

2. 1930s cartoons

a) Three Orphan Kittens (David Hand, 1935)
b) The Country Cousin (Wilfred Jackson, 1936)
c) Mickey's Orphans (Burt Gillett, 1931)
d) It's Got Me Again (Rudoph Ising, 1932)
e) Building a Building (David Hand, 1933)
f) The Merry Old Soul (Walter Lantz/William Nolan, 1933)
g) Holiday Land (uncredited, 1934)
h) Jolly Little Elves (Manuel Moreno, 1934)

For those who decry PIXAR"S stranglehold on the Oscars in the feature animation category in recent years, I'd suggest taking a look at the early years in this category - which were just as dominated by Disney in the winners column. It's not like there weren't other very healthy animation producers - obviously the staple at Warner Brothers under Leon Schlesinger, and the Fleischer brothers at Paramount, but also plenty of stuff at Universal, MGM and other, smaller studios. Not to mention plenty of independent work that naturally wasn't going to get noticed come awards time. But Disney won EVERY award in this category in the 1930s and in the first two years had another nominee as well. Not that I'd complain as much myself as I would over many later Oscar "issues", because most of these cartoons are pretty good and let's face it, the Academy just wasn't hip enough to nominate Bimbo's Initiation or the Fleischers' Snow-White. The first two and Building a Building are my favorites, the latter because I just love cartoons (and comedy shorts in general) set in construction sites, a very fertile area for mishaps and zaniness; the two winners from 1935 and 1936 are just exquisitely animated and show the beauty of Disney's work at a near-peak in this era. None of these were bad but The Merry Old Soul reminds me why I've never really cared for Oswald the Rabbit.

Storm Over Bengal (Sidney Salkow, 1938)

Pretty obscure example of the Imperialist adventure genre, of which the following year's Gunga Din and The Four Feathers are probably the best-known concurrent examples. This one is very low-budget, very much a b picture, with start Patric Knowles and Richard Cromwell as brothers fighting for "the Indian people" but really for continued English rule against a dastardly revolutionary who wants to incite revolt when the Maharajah of an important territory dies, and Rochelle Hudson as the woman they both love. Mostly predictable adventure that whips by in a brief 65 minutes. I didn't get anything interesting out of the music here, seems typical of this genre and certainly second-class to stuff that people like Korngold were doing, maybe it was a bad year or maybe the Oscars for music in those days were just as dull as Oscars for many categories in many eras have been.

Doctor Doolitte (Richard Fleischer, 1967)

TCM. Thank you TCM; I took this out from the library once and the copy was bad - I could request it from another library, quite possibly with the same results, or download it, or something, but why would I bother? The only reason I even had a faint interest in this was because I've come to love Richard Fleischer, IMO just about the most neglected director in Hollywood in his era, but as it turned out, not surprisingly, this is quite easily his worst work. All of his typical virtues of economy and precision, of understanding the requirements and tropes necessary in just about any genre, and getting good performances out of just about any kind of actor, fail him here, though how much is really his fault is certainly open to debate. This is after all a bloated, elephantine musical from the era in which Hollywood still believed that such things could still be the ticket to huge profits - it was just two years after The Sound of Music after all. So a lot of people were trying very hard to make something that was probably always unworkable work, by the usual method - thrown enormous amounts of money at it. Ultimately it's just a turgid, way overlong and at times rather nasty - in it's attitude towards women particularly, shades of an earlier Rex Harrison musical - film with one good performance, from the irrepressible Richard Attenborough, alas only onscreen for about 10 minutes, and two songs that were OK, one sung by Attenborough and both in the first half. Oh and Bruce Surtees' cinematography is fine. Zzzzzz

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#39

Post by morrison-dylan-fan » February 5th, 2019, 8:38 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
February 5th, 2019, 7:50 pm
A BIG week for me, numbers-wise - extreme cold + no necessity of going out much = lots of movie watching! Apart from some re-watches, it wasn't as strong on quality as numbers, but pretty decent in terms of variety I guess.

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED


Moon Zero Two (Roy Ward Baker, 1969)

Kind of a loss to explain why this film has such poor ratings - no, it's not any great shakes, but it's a fun and very colorful late 60s adventure much in the same vein as The Green Slime or some of Antonio Margheriti's films like the Gamma Quadrilogy. Oh wait, those aren't that highly regarded either. Oh well, me I just enjoy this kind of thing - space salvage guy James Olson is hired to move an asteroid full of sapphires to the Moon by a super-rich guy - all pretty shady - meanwhile romancing/helping out Catherine Schell, whose brother has been working a mining claim on the far side of the Moon that just so happens to... well you can guess. Cool music and sets, decent if pretty broad acting all around, and a cool animated opening title. It probably ain't art but I thought it was groovy, man.


Doctor Doolitte (Richard Fleischer, 1967)

TCM. Thank you TCM; I took this out from the library once and the copy was bad - I could request it from another library, quite possibly with the same results, or download it, or something, but why would I bother? The only reason I even had a faint interest in this was because I've come to love Richard Fleischer, IMO just about the most neglected director in Hollywood in his era, but as it turned out, not surprisingly, this is quite easily his worst work. All of his typical virtues of economy and precision, of understanding the requirements and tropes necessary in just about any genre, and getting good performances out of just about any kind of actor, fail him here, though how much is really his fault is certainly open to debate. This is after all a bloated, elephantine musical from the era in which Hollywood still believed that such things could still be the ticket to huge profits - it was just two years after The Sound of Music after all. So a lot of people were trying very hard to make something that was probably always unworkable work, by the usual method - thrown enormous amounts of money at it. Ultimately it's just a turgid, way overlong and at times rather nasty - in it's attitude towards women particularly, shades of an earlier Rex Harrison musical - film with one good performance, from the irrepressible Richard Attenborough, alas only onscreen for about 10 minutes, and two songs that were OK, one sung by Attenborough and both in the first half. Oh and Bruce Surtees' cinematography is fine. Zzzzzz
Hi Ale, whilst directors usually get the blame,I'd say in the case of DD that Richard Fleischer was just a cog in the studio machine-which was single-minded on who would star. A few years ago Empire mag did a detailed piece on the production of DD being an utter nightmare,which IMDb trivia captures some of the flavour of.

Just before the trivia, your comment " by the usual method - thrown enormous amounts of money at it. " brings Mortal Engines (2018) and the $300 million budget of Alita: Battle Angel (2019) (aka Alita:Uncanny Valley) to mind.

In his 1993 autobiography, "Just Tell Me When to Cry", Director Richard Fleischer devoted an entire chapter to his horrible experiences trying to get this movie cast, made, and edited. He lays much of the blame at the feet of Twentieth Century Fox executives, who insisted on casting Rex Harrison in the title role, and on Rex Harrison, who dithered back-and-forth for a year about accepting the part and then, in Fleischer's estimation, failed to fully commit once he signed for the movie.

Rex Harrison behaved so badly on-set that he was nicknamed "Tyrannosaurus Rex".
The younger cast members grew to loathe Rex Harrison for his abuse. They retaliated by antagonizing him.
Rex Harrison was under contract to play the title character. After the original scriptwriter and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner left, Harrison tried to back out. Christopher Plummer (me:Plummer,always the second choice!) was hired as a replacement. When the studio successfully lured Harrison back, it paid Plummer his entire agreed-upon fee of three hundred thousand dollars to sit out the production. Harrison was wary of Leslie Bricusse writing the score, since he was an unknown quantity to him. On his own, he had English songwriters Donald Swann and Michael Flanders try their hand at songs for the movie. Swann and Flanders signed a contract with Twentieth Century Fox in February 1966, and completed at least four songs ("Animalitarians", "I Won't Be King", "A Total Vegetarian", and "Goodbye to Sophie"), which Harrison recorded as demos before he heard and approved the Bricusse score.

Peter Bull was considered for the role of circus owner Albert Blossom. Sir Richard Attenborough was cast after concerns arose about Bull's drinking.

Angered by the filmmakers' attempts to enlarge a pond in Castle Combe, Wiltshire, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a member of 22nd Regiment, the S.A.S., tried to blow up the dam, using the Army's explosives. He was arrested, dismissed from the regiment, and served out the rest of his military career in the Royal Scots Greys.
There was a huge outcry when the movie was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar despite having received almost universally terrible reviews. According to the 1994 book "Behind the Oscar" by Anthony Holden, this is because Twentieth Century Fox mounted an unparalleled nomination campaign in which Academy members were wined and dined. As a result, this movie was nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture.

With Moon Zero Two,I really don't get the hate Hammer fans dish out to it, I found the flick a fun watch, with regular Sit-Com co-stars, a swiftly moving plot,and the sets/costumes having a retro charm.

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#40

Post by Carmel1379 » February 6th, 2019, 7:21 am

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
February 5th, 2019, 4:22 pm
(...)

What you wrote there reminds me of how the Roeg film suggests that Marlow is very much like Kurtz when he was young and started going into the Congo. It's never spelled out but this connection is implied throughout the film. And, well, Marlow in the film never has any interests in the ivory business and is very much a doubter from the start, but there is a progression on his journey that makes him align more with Kurtz line of thinking, and with meeting Kurtz he embraces the "darkness" fully. With 'Apocolypse Now' I never quite got the sense that Willard's journey to the end of the river changed him much or at all, as he apparently already went through so much in the war and got fucked up by it when the film starts, all the progression occurs only once he reaches Kurtz' area and listens to the man. In Roeg's film Marlow rubs the blood of his Congo friend over his face after he gets arrowed to death on the boat, and he "goes a little mad"/is more hardened from then on, I guess this would be the equivalent to the 'Apocalypse Now' gif you linked to.
My "adopting the darkness" line was taken from 'The Dark Knight Rises' btw. Bane:
Theatricality and deception; powerful agents for the uninitiated... but we are initiated, aren't we Bruce? Members of the League of Shadows. And you betrayed us. (...) Ah, you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding. The shadows betray you because they belong to me.

k, I don't really have anything to add (maybe later, as I said). I could spam some out-of-context 'Paradise Lost' scraps now.

'War hath determin'd us, and foil'd with loss / Irreparable'

'With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seiz'd us, though undismay'd. Long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light,
Our prison strong, this huge convex of Fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
Ninefold, and gates of burning Adamant
Barr'd over us prohibit all egress.
These past, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential Night receives him next
Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being
Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
If thence he 'scape into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him less
Than unknown dangers and as hard escape?'

'Thus roving on
In confus'd march forlorn, th' advent'rous Bands,
With shudd'ring horror pale, and eyes aghast,
View'd first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest: through many a dark and dreary vale
They pass'd, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many a Frozen, many a Fiery Alp,
Rocks, Caves, Lakes, Fens, Bogs, Dens, and shades of death,
A universe of Death, which God by curse
Created evil, for evil only good,
Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inutterable, and worse
Than fables yet have feign'd or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.'


...



But interestingly Marlow is in a sufficiently fit state to survive, continue living. (Obviously otherwise the story would never possibly have been told.) He can return to England, to some extent feign normality, and lie to Kurtz's wife his final words were her name, despite being (for a lack of better word) traumatised [apparently Conrad's 'Lord Jim' I have yet to read is in part about trauma] by everything that happened, with the traces of the darkness still encroaching upon him wherever he sails. He doesn't become or replace Kurtz (iirc in AO there is a shot suggestive of this idea, where Willard, after having slain Kurtz, stands above the "brutes") or pursue the voyage to the end of the river to its conclusion (like Kurtz has), which is utter annihilation. I suppose this is some form of consolation -- with Marlow also being the stand-in for the reader to some degree -- as he's able to uphold a conscience, not become a madman, in an all-so-civilised manner lie to Kurtz's wife, etc.
IMDb, letterboxd, tumblr
Image
whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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