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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 5, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 5, 2020

#1

Post by sol » February 2nd, 2020, 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. Unfortunately, it has reached the point where it is no longer viable for me as host to comment on everyone else's viewings every week (especially since some people like to use the weekly thread to log their viewings and nothing else). I am always keen to promote movie discussion though, so if you comment on my own viewings, I will comment on yours at my earliest convenience.

Please also note that this is intended as a movie discussion thread, not a large image posting thread. Having too many large images makes this thread difficult to navigate through. If you wish to include more than five images in a reply, please use spoiler tags - [spoiler][/spoiler] - to hide extra images.

This is what I saw:

★★★★ = loved it /// ★★★ = liked it a lot; ~7/10 /// ★★ = has interesting elements; ~6/10 /// ★ = did very little for me; ~5/10 and lower

Sterne (1959). More interested in being a painter than furthering the Nazi cause, a young German officer becomes entranced by a headstrong Jewish woman in this war drama set in occupied Bulgaria. The film wears its heart on its sleeve with both the Nazi and Jewess telling their friends at different points that the other side are still human beings; the fact that the protagonist is a failed painter just like Hitler seems a little on-the-nose too. The tale here is quite powerful though and less a doomed romance story (since she does not really reciprocate his feelings) and more a look at someone simply trying to do something good while a part of something evil. The film is sumptuously photographed whatever the case, with the camera often walking with the characters, gliding up the stairs and so on. There are also several very nifty lethargic dissolves in the mix. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Alligator (1980). Flushed down the toilet, a young girl's baby alligator grows up in the sewers to be a monster-sized beast that terrorises its city in this horror flick. For a film that features tons of splatter, it begins on a tongue-in-cheek nod as a grandmother watching an alligator attack obliviously complains "they could do without the fake blood". There is also some very dark humour after the alligator escapes - most notably a pool incident. Such humour is, however, seldom at the forefront with much focus instead on the two main characters trying to stop the beast. Robert Forster is fine as the burnt-out lead, but he lacks romantic chemistry with co-star Robin Riker, and -- for all the film's attempts to flesh out its human characters -- the giant reptile is the most sympathetic character here, only lashing out at a world whose crap he has literally grown up with. (first viewing, online) ★★

Native Son (1986). Scared of not receiving a fair trial when his Caucasian employer dies in his care, an African American chauffeur tries to cover things up in this morality play movie. Based on a 400+ page novel, the story feels compressed as a two-hour feature (abrupt ending; limited build-up) and does not really explore the racism of 1940s America too well. As a film about guilt and grappling with misdeeds though, it is hard to pass up. Lead actor Victor Love has some great moments, only barely looking up from the ground as his employer's boyfriend and others are grilled over his crime, and not knowing what to say when the boyfriend assumes that the African American has been unfairly targeted. The middle third of the film (trying to get away with it) is certainly a lot more compelling than the final third here, but this is a pretty solid watch all the same. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Singapore Sling (1990). Obsessed with finding a missing woman whose painted portrait he loves, a private detective gets in too deep when he traces her steps back to an isolated villa in this bizarre Greek movie. With the girl named Laura and many plot similarities, this is a clear reworking of the Otto Preminger classic and may be better appreciated with it fresh in mind. Either way, the film leaves an indelible impact as the PI is caught in a strange power play between the villa's owner and a girl hired to play her daughter. Shot in stark black and white, the imagery is very out-there and boundary-pushing, including a note from Timothée Chalamet's peach playbook. Deciphering the meaning behind everything here might be futile, but the film works well as an elaborate cautionary tale for the dangers of probing too far in search of someone you do not really know. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Crow (1994). Inexplicably resurrected by a crow just before the anniversary of his death, a murdered man inexplicably dresses up like the Joker from Batman to take revenge in this vigilante fantasy film that takes the world "inexplicable" to a whole new level. The film is based on a comic strip and by all accounts is quite faithful. The project has also developed a bit of a cult following due to Brandon Lee's tragic death on the set of the production. On a cinematic level, the film is certainly fairly well done with spirited choreography, memorably grisly revenge scenes and some great bits in which Lee gets to taunt his victims to-be, occasionally hanging from the roof. Beneath the technical prowess though, this feel like a run-of-mill vigilante film through and through, only lacking the gradual transformation to vigilante of something like Death Wish. (first viewing, online) ★★

Virtuosity (1995). Modeled on the personalities of dozens of serial killers, an artificial intelligence program causes chaos in the real world when it downloads itself in this action thriller starring Denzel Washington as the only cop capable of stopping the AI. With its utterly ridiculous plot and even more ridiculous computer graphics, this is by no means a great motion picture, yet the film is made very watchable by a lively Russell Crowe at his utmost energetic. Whether it be somersaulting wherever possible or greedily eating glass to regenerate, Crowe gives an unrestrained and over-the-top performance that is mesmerising to view; he even get his own Saturday Night Fever spoof at one point. Washington by comparison is a pretty dull and formulaic action hero, but this is absolutely electric stuff whenever Crowe takes centre stage. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

The Relic (1997). Attendees of a museum gala event are trapped inside and terrorised by a giant reptilian creature in this slick creature feature. With its catacombs and dozens of darkened corridors, the museum makes for a great horror setting and the gala event is amusingly set inside a room with an entrance like a creature's mouth. The action does not really begin until halfway in though with much dialogue as the police investigate mounting deaths at the museum before the big event. The comic relief also only works half the time. There is a great, quipping female autopsy doctor, but there are also tiring running gags - e.g. the chief investigator losing custody of his dog in court (why is this meant to be funny?). Things get better once the action starts, but everything looks so dark during the monster attacks that it is not always possible to see what is going on. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★

Sliding Doors (1998). Two different timelines emerge for a young woman depending on whether she misses a train or not in this British romcom. It is a curious premise and the film does well early on juxtaposing different events depending on whether or not she then catches her boyfriend cheating on her. The novelty wears out quite quickly though and with her happiness in both timelines dependent on the men who she is with and nothing else, the potential for more is striking. The movie almost gets a bit daring halfway in as her cheating boyfriend from one timeline appears to catch a glimpse of her from the other timeline through a window, but the filmmakers never go beyond the glimpse. John Hannah is pretty charming here and a melancholic Gwyneth Paltrow is effective in the lead role, but this is ultimately more sentimental than thought-provoking. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Death at a Funeral (2010). Released only three years after the original, this African American take on the lively British comedy has been called pointless. Moving the action across the Atlantic with some of America's finest black comedy actors must have sounded great on paper, yet the main location is almost identical, all of the brightest gags are lifted directly from the original, and the film dedicates limited time to the likes of Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan and Kevin Hart bouncing off one another. The scattered interactions between the African American cast generally work though and a cantankerous Danny Glover is a lot of fun, while James Marsden makes a good Alan Tyduk substitute. This does not hold a candle to the original, but it is highly tolerable and occasionally very funny with some of the new dialogue amid the reused gags. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Predators (2010). Far better than one might expect for a third entry in a horror franchise, this loose sequel actually begins similarly to Cube with its characters awakening in a strange jungle with no memory of how they got there. While we as viewers are always one step ahead, it is still interesting to hear them debate why they have been placed in the forest and who or what is hunting them. There is also a creepy part early on in which one character's cries for help are still heard after he is mercy-killed. The film is a bit uneven after its strong opening, conveniently introducing an exposition character and including such silliness as a samurai sword fight (!). Intriguing ethical questions arise throughout as the folks debate whether it is better "to be human" with all it means, or just "alive", while the motley crew gradually learn that if it bleeds, we can kill it. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

The Thing (2011). Halfway between a remake of and prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing, this venture that tries to change things up with a female protagonist and less macho supporting characters. While these changes are refreshing, the overall film cannot quite compare to Carpenter's version (or even the 1951 original). The best thing about the 1982 film was a sense of dread and mistrust with constant uncertainty of who is the thing. There is a very intense scene here in which the scientists inspect each other's fillings, but the film is mostly a series of alien attacks, and feels more like a formulaic final girl slasher than a look at unease from being unable to trust anybody else. The special effects though are solid, especially if not compared to the 1982 film, with some particularly startling images of a female thing victim bent over backwards. (first viewing, online) ★★

Dear White People (2014). In the minority at their Ivy League school, the lives of four African American students with very different views on race relations are intertwined in this sprawling drama. The title refers to a campus radio show that one of the four hosts and as the hostess in question, Tessa Thompson has some great lines, pointing out some of the less obvious racist ways of her peers. She is a curious character too with very firm views about the world, and the film could have benefited from more focus on her radio show. The other protagonists are decidedly less fascinating and the film does not quite balance being an attack on racism as well as a story of each of the four finding their own way in the world. Still, this is relatively interesting while it lasts, even if everyone's utter obsession with race tends to simplify rather than broaden the characters. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

High Life (2018). Alone with his baby daughter on a spacecraft heading towards a black hole, a young man recalls his daughter's conception and his former crewmembers in this deliberately paced deep space drama. The film benefits from a great setting and set design, often atmospherically lit in varying colours. Robert Pattinson is also very solid in the lead role, especially early on, bonding with his daughter. The flashbacks are less engaging though and take up more screen time. Juliette Binoche plays the ship's doctor who seems increasingly unhinged as the film progresses, but much remains unexplained (celibacy choice?) and none of the other astronauts are well developed or interesting. With boundary-pushing, borderline kooky sex stuff in the mix, this is never boring, but a film actually focused on the baby and father may have been more captivating. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Irishman (2019). Involved with the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, a mob hit-man recalls his friendship and association with the trade union leader in this sprawling crime saga. Covering several decades and many side characters, the film tackles a very large canvas and certain subplots -- particularly Al Pacino and Joe Pesci both having designs on the protagonist's preteen daughter -- often feel neglected and shied over, but there is a lot to like here. Pacino's larger-than-life performance as the intimidating Hoffa is a real highlight, there is a fair dose of dark comedy (the whole "what kind of fish?" scene) and some very well edited, suspenseful bits such as Hoffa's wife nervously turning an ignition key. The reverse ageing visual effects are impressive too, but as a narrative, things certainly feel condensed and truncated even with an already epic length runtime. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Just Mercy (2019). Based on a true story, this searing drama from Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton looks at a Harvard-trained African American lawyer who defended a black man wrongfully convicted of murder in a deeply racist Alabama town. The film is heavy on the sentiment, especially towards the end, but the central case is very potent. The performances are also completely on the mark. Running through a whole gamut of emotions, from disbelief, to despair to cynicism etc, Jamie Foxx is excellent as the accused man, while Michael B. Jordan shines in the lead role, even if he sometimes seems overly naive/idealistic. The supporting cast are generally in good form too - especially Rob Morgan and Tim Blake Nelson as other unfairly treated prisoners - though Brie Larson is wasted in an oddly underdeveloped yet pivotal role. (first viewing, cinema) ★★★★

REVISIONS

The Intruder (1962). Opening with a bus ride set to ominous music, it is clear from early on that something malevolent is coming to town here, yet in the form of our smiling young protagonist this is hard at first to believe. He is polite, talks well and dresses smartly, but his agenda for social reform is full of hatred and bigotry. William Shatner is excellent as the enthusiastic young racist orator, reveling in how his speeches stir others up; he is also often filmed from low camera angles that accentuate his megalomania. The film runs out of steam a bit as it progresses and Shatner becomes less intriguing when he is revealed to be a womaniser too and not the pure idealist he at first seems to be. The final scene is powerful though, and while no other characters are as dynamic or as interesting as Shatner is, their willingness to be strung along is fascinating. (second viewing, online) ★★★★

Joe (1970). An unlikely friendship forms between a businessman who accidentally killed his daughter's junkie boyfriend and a right-wing extremist who admires his crime in this engrossing if sometimes unfocused drama. The film has its flaws (too much build-up before they finally meet; an orgy tangent) but the film is electric whenever it focuses on the gradually developing friendship. The businessman goes from fearing Joe and feeling blackmailed to eventually enjoying his company as "a refreshing change", and Dennis Patrick is superb as he contemplates the "pleasure [and] satisfaction" that he attained from killing. This is a superb companion piece to Crimes and Misdemeanors as a tale of an upstanding citizen wrestling with life/death morality quagmires - but it is the haunting conclusion that really sells Joe and causes it to linger long in the mind. (third viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Despair (1978). After having a number of out-of-body experiences, a businessman becomes obsessed with finding his doppelgänger in this film set against the rise of Nazism in Germany. Michael Ballhaus photography's is superb with plenty of glides and fluid camera movements around glass wall interiors. Coupled against disquieting sound effects and music, Despair plays out like a semi-surreal nightmare as he soon finds a man who he inexplicably believes to be his exact double and concocts a wild scheme. How exactly all of this relates to Nazism is less clear though and the film may have also been stronger had it gone into what caused him to become so delusional. The film packs a wallop as it is though with Dirk Bogarde very relatable throughout with desire to escape his life and surroundings, and his despair at not being able to. (second viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Fingers (1978). Classically trained but unemployed, a concert pianist pours his heart into his day job as a loan shark, even putting his precious hands at risk, in this searing directional debut from James Toback. This is a curious film to revisit since Harvey Keitel's performance has real staying power, especially with the movie's haunting final shot, and yet beyond his terrific turn, the movie disappoints just a tad upon revision. It all feels highly episodic with not all subplots (Tisa Farrow as Keitel's lover?) necessarily benefiting the character study at hand. The film also rather heavily signposts differences in parenting as the cause of the two completely different sides to Keitel's personality. Still, it is a delicious dynamic protagonist that the film builds up with Keitel constantly torn and conflicted as to whether he primarily identifies as a loan shark or a pianist. (second viewing, DVD) ★★★

The Plumber (1979). Unable to convince her husband or friends that anything is wrong, a woman becomes increasingly terrified of a plumber who keeps making seemingly unnecessary repairs in this Peter Weir thriller. The concept is decent (is she overreacting or is everyone else under-reacting?) yet between his rape jokes, spying on her at night and forcing his way in, Weir makes it very clear that the plumber's motives are sinister. As such, there is not a lot driving the film, which leads to things feeling repetitive long before the end. A second of viewing does reveal some extra depth, what with her dilemma seeming somewhat ironic, given that she studies foreign cultures but has no idea how to interact with someone less educated of her own culture. The resolution is strong (with some great credits music!) but even at a mere ~75 minutes, the slim story drags. (second viewing, DVD) ★★

Angela (1995). Elements of horror, mystery and fantasy come together in this story of a precocious preteen girl who believes Lucifer is responsible for her mother's mental illness. She also perceives various people as good or bad angles, has visions of the Devil incarnate and believes so strongly in her superstitions that she takes her younger sister on a series of increasingly bizarre cleansing rituals. This is a bit of a folie à deux tale too as we also see some of the sister's visions - but only briefly. This is mostly a tale of the older sister, her anxiety over her mother's depression and feeling that she must be responsible. Whatever the case, the atmosphere here is hard to shake and whether it is through religious indoctrination or irrational fear, Angela's concerns are real to her, and thus the film is set in a universe in which everything she imagines takes place. (second viewing, online) ★★★★

OtherShow
Trancers (1984). Set in a future in which it is possible to time travel by inhabiting the body of an ancestor, a jaded detective travels back to the '80s on the trail of a murderer with zombie-making powers in this low budget sci-fi yarn. For a film made on a budget, this is a surprisingly enjoyable affair; there are visible boom mics, a ton of unexplained stuff (mostly regarding the zombies) and the plot feels like a poor rehash of The Terminator - but there is much ingenuity too. The water-submerged future Lost Angeles is a sight to see, the "long second" watch device is very cool, and the film has some real madcap humour. Mostly notably, a fight with a zombie mall Santa only becomes even crazier to experience with cutaways to kids joyously watching the altercation. It is a shame that the plot does not add up better because there is a lot of interest here. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Body Bags (1993). Three horror stories are linked together in this anthology film from John Carpenter, who also plays a morbid mortician in the wraparound tale. Carpenter is electric, making ghoulish wisecracks left, right and centre; the humour is hit and miss, but it is all kooky enough to work. The first two episodes, also directed by Carpenter, are nifty too. The first one is as creepy as Halloween, set at an isolated gas station at night, while the second is silly but has a fabulous turn from Stacy Keach and Cronenbergish body modifications. Alas, the final segment, directed by Tobe Hooper, is a tired variation of the Hands of Orlac premise, except with a transplanted eye rather than hands, and topped off with a silly Biblical ending. Carpenter's contributions are certainly worthwhile here, but concluding on Hooper's tale leaves a bitter taste. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Neria (1993). When her husband dies without a will, a young woman struggles to maintain custody of her kids and possession of her home in this drama set in rural Zimbabwe. The film takes a definite swipe at traditional native law that whisks her children and property away from her, while also indulging in the beautiful sunsets and picturesque locations of the small town, suggesting that rural living in itself is not problematic but that more progressive approaches are needed. It is a bit of an obvious agenda and this is in no way a subtle movie; the acting is a little theatrical too, especially the brother-in-law's outbursts in court. Still, there is a fair bit of interest here with all the urban/rural contrasts, a dissolve-heavy dream sequence, a neon-heavy nightmare and camerawork that is generally mobile and fluid. The courtroom scenes are pretty intense too. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Living World (2003). A modern day knight sets out to slay an evil ogre in this contemporary fairytale. The film is an undeniable curio with its telling of a medieval story in the present day, but what the project has to offer beyond curiosity value is debatable. The acting is incredibly stilted, with deadpan/expressionless line delivery throughout, and one child actor aside, everyone is completely unemotional. The dialogue often feels silly too, e.g. "bread is life; like words". Some of the techniques at hand are certainly amusing (a dog roaring like a lion, but the roar only heard when the dog is off-screen) and some of the framing is refreshingly unusual with hands reaching into the frame and so on. Everything is filmed in an oddly distanced way though; there is even a 'big' swordfight that is only show through elongated close-ups without swordplay. Weird stuff. (first viewing, online) ★

Alien Raiders (2008). Supermarket employees and customers are held hostage by masked robbers who are more interested in interrogating them than looting the store in this moderate budget horror film. The movie benefits from an intriguing premise with some mystery as to what exactly the robbers are up to. Alas, the film's title spells out most of what is going on (the working title of Supermarket would have been a lot more effective). The project also goes for gooey effects as opposed to playing up the ambiguity as to whether the robbers know what they are doing or are simply delusional. The twist ending is foreshadowed from a mile away too. With such a great build-up as the unsuspecting characters are taken hostage - and then tortured for seemingly no good reason - Alien Raiders may be worth a look, but it does not capitalise on its potential. (first viewing, online) ★★
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joachimt
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#2

Post by joachimt » February 2nd, 2020, 12:18 pm

Too many 6's. Bit boring......

Tess (1979, 5 official lists, 1870 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Tôkyô nagaremono AKA Tokyo Drifter (1966, 5 official lists, 1923 checks) 7/10
Watched because it used to be on TSPDT.
'A Santanotte (1922, 1 official list, 47 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's an official check less than 70 min.
Iracema - Uma Transa Amazônica (1975, 4 official lists, 95 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a new entry on TSPDT.
Kishibe no tabi AKA Journey to the Shore (2015, 2 official lists, 169 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Le roi et l'oiseau AKA The King and the Mockingbird (1952, 4 official lists, 1372 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981, 3 official lists, 1325 checks) 6/10
Watched because it used to be on TSPDT.
Dolittle (2020, 0 official lists, 59 checks) 5/10
Watched because I went to the cinema with my daughter.
Le pont des Arts (2004, 2 official lists, 135 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
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Perception de Ambiguity
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#3

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » February 2nd, 2020, 12:34 pm

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Die Jagdgesellschaft (Claus Peymann, a play by Thomas Bernhard, 1974) 5+/10

Amazona (Clare Weiskopf & Nicolas van Hemelryck, 2016) 7/10
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Leni Riefenstahl im Sudan / Leni Riefenstahl: Her Dream of Africa (Ray Müller, 2003) 6/10

Vợ ba / The Third Wife (Ash Mayfair, 2018) 4+/10

Mark Trade (Ryan Trecartin, 2016) 7-/10

4 / Chetyre / Four (Илья Хржановский/Ilya Khrzhanovsky/Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, 2004) 6/10
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実録不良少女 姦 / Female Delinquent: A Docu-Drama / Jitsuroku furyo shoujo: Kan (藤田敏八/Toshiya Fujita, 1977) 8-/10

野良猫ロック ワイルドジャンボ / Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo (藤田敏八/Toshiya Fujita, 1970) 6/10

狂い咲きサンダーロード / Crazy Thunder Road (Sogo Ishii/石井岳龍/Gakuryu Ishii, 1980) 6/10

止められるか、俺たちを / Dare to Stop Us (白石和彌/Kazuya Shiraishi, 2018) 4/10

Disneyland, mon vieux pays natal / Disneyland, My Old Native Land (Arnaud des Pallières, 2002) 6/10
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Disneyland Dream (Robbins Barstow, 1956) 6-/10

Die poetische Kraft der Theorie (Alexander Kluge, 2007) 6/10

South of the Border (Oliver Stone, 2009) 7-/10

Cinema Cinema (Maani Petgar, 1997) 7/10
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Die große Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner (Werner Herzog, 1974) 6+/10
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Corridor of Mirrors (Terence Young, 1948) 6/10

El espíritu de la colmena / The Spirit of the Beehive (Víctor Erice, 1973) (2nd viewing) 7/10 (from 6)
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Dead to the World (Sean Beavan & Joseph F. Cultice, 1998) (3rd+ viewing) 8/10


shorts

timbre. (Raz Vahn, 2017) 6/10

Blight (John Smith, 1996) 5+/10

Racconto da un affresco (Luciano Emmer, 1941) 5/10

La sublime fatica (Luciano Emmer, 1967) 3/10

Romantici a Venezia (Luciano Emmer, 1948) 5+/10

Events in a Cloud Chamber (Ashim Ahluwalia, 2016) 4/10

Melodie der Wellen (Hans Fischerkoesen, 1931) 5/10

長恨 / Chokon / An Unforgettable Grudge (fragment) (伊藤大輔/Daisuke Ito, 1926) 5+/10

القاهرة منورة بأهلها / Cairo as Told by Youssef Chahine (يوسف شاهين/Youssef Chahine, 1991) 4/10

La loi du pardon / The Law of Pardon (Albert Capellani, 1906) 1/10

Amour d'esclave / A Slave's Love (Albert Capellani, 1907) 1+/10

3) Six Easy Pieces (Reynold Reynolds, 2010) 3/10

Nicky's Film (Abel Ferrara, 1971) 2/10


RiffTrax & MST3k

RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion (2016) 6+/10
- The Talking Car (1969) 2/10
- A Word to the Wives... (Norman Lloyd, 1955) 1/10
- Stamp Day for Superman (Thomas Carr, 1954) 1/10
- Americans at Work: Barbers & Beauticians (1969) 1/10
- At Your Fingertips: Grasses (1970) (rewatch) 2/10
- Shake Hands with Danger (1980) (rewatch) 1/10


music videos

Rihanna: Unfaithful (Anthony Mandler, 2006) 2/10

The Killers: The Man (2017) (rewatch) 5+/10

The Killers: Somebody Told Me (2004) (rewatch) 5/10


series

Curb Your Enthusiasm - S10E02 - "Side Sitting" (2020) 7-/10

The Twilight Zone: "Walking Distance" (Robert Stevens, 1959) 1/10


didn't finish

Maynila sa mga kuko ng liwanag / Manila in the Claws of Light (Lino Brocka, 1975) [40 min]
Meghe Dhaka Tara / The Cloud-Capped Star (Ritwik Ghatak, 1960) [14 min]
Eşkıya / The Bandit (Yavuz Turgul, 1996) [14 min]
Hustle (Robert Aldrich, 1975) [9 min]


notable online media

top:
The night Tom Noddy forever changed the world of bubble entertainment. January 5 1983.


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Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on February 2nd, 2020, 3:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Onderhond
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#4

Post by Onderhond » February 2nd, 2020, 1:02 pm

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Had a pretty solid week, with Fabrice du Welz' latest film leading the pack. Also some welcome surprises from Rintaro and Tsutsumi. At the bottom there's evidence that I was a little pissed by my TSPDT setback a week or two ago, so I tried to make up for it by covering some leftover shorts. Not a big success, but at least I'm finally to bronze on that list.


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01. 4.0* - Adoration by Fabrice Du Welz (2019)
Quite ominous, slightly fantastical, somewhat dramatic. Fabrice du Welz' latest films is a lot of things, even then it's quite hard to qualify and slap a few labels on it. Not that it matters when the result is this impressive of course. Beautifully stylized, wonderfully acted and sporting a perfect ending, this is another du Welz classic.

02. 3.5* - My House by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (2012)
Surprisingly small and understated black and white drama by Tsutsumi. After a bunch of high-profile blockbusters he probably needed to do this, the biggest surprise is that he actually managed to pull it off. This is a sweet, endearing and well-directed film that lingers well beyond its end credits.

03. 3.5* - Jojo Rabbit by Taika Waititi (2019)
Fun, amusing and Andersonesque WWII comedy. Waititi clearly had a lot of fun playing Hitler, the rest of the cast was visibly enjoying themselves too. The jokes are funny, the drama is decent, the setup feels original. Somehow I got the feeling the film didn't use its full potential, but it's definitely a recommended watch.

04. 3.5* - Armageddon: The Great Battle with Genma [Harmagedon: Genma Taisen] by Rintaro (1983)
Very bombastic and completely over the top. It felt like a mix of Dragon Ball Z and Akira, rightfully considered an anime classic though a little overlooked in recent years. The animation looks nice, the plot is insane and the action is loud and bold. Not quite consistent throughout, but definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen it already.

05. 3.5* - The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead [Rusalka: Ozero Myortvykh] by Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy, Christopher Bevins (2018)
Fun and capable horror film. Definitely not the most original of films, but the lore is interesting enough and the direction is well above average. Decent acting, fine camerawork and moody settings make this perfect horror filler material. Whatever you do though, don't watch the English dub because that's a complete abomination.

06. 3.5* - The Aeronauts by Tom Harper (2019)
Clearly the budget wasn't there to do justice to this story, but the film does feel quite adventurous and both Jones and Redmayne put in very solid performances. It takes a while to get going, but the second half had me pretty captivated. A pretty decent and agreeable Amazon Original, but it would've benefited from the full blockbuster treatment.

07. 3.0* - The Death of Dick Long by Daniel Scheinert (2019)
Scheinert goes solo. Not sure if it's that or if he just wanted to try something different this time around, but the low-key dark humour and the lack of absurd elements makes for a way less spectacular film. It's not bad, decently acted and dark enough for a couple of grim grins, but in the end it's just not all that memorable.

08. 3.0* - Lupin III: Legend of the Gold of Babylon [Rupan Sansei: Babiron no Ogon Densetsu] by Seijun Suzuki, Shigetsugu Yoshida
A typical Lupin adventure, made slightly more interesting by Seijun Suzuki's involvement and a very strong 70s vibe that runs through the film. It doesn't change too much about the core of Lupin though. Silly, over-the top action, a charming set of characters and one-dimensional bad guys. A fun diversion, but nothing more.

09. 3.0* - The Samurai Master [Samurai Sensei] by Kazushi Watanabe (2018)
Cute but somewhat derivative comedy about a samurai who wakes up in modern times. The film is very lighthearted, the actors do a decent job and there are some solid jokes, but this has been done many times before, often a lot better too (think the Termae Romae series). It's sweet and unobtrusive filler, but not all that memorable.

10. 3.0* - Away We Go by Sam Mendes (2009)
A fine blend of comedy and drama, revolving around a couple of soon to be parents looking for a place to settle. The road movie-like structure fits the topic and Krasinski and Rudolph are both perfect, but the film is a bit on the safe side and feels rather inconsequential, while Mendes was clearly aiming for something deeper. Still, not a bad watch.

11. 3.0* - Sisters by Jason Moore (2015)
A pretty typical "middle-aged people throw one last party" flick. Fey and Poehler are very nice together though and there are some solid jokes there, even though not everything works. Rudolph and Barinholtz are respectable in secondary parts. Not the greatest comedy ever, but pretty decent comedy filler nonetheless.

12. 3.0* - The Cold-Blooded Trap by Takahisa Zeze (1998)
On paper a pretty basic serial killer film, but both Aikawa and Nishijima are on a roll and Zeze's subdued direction helps a lot to make this film stand out from the crowd. It's not a true classic, for that it's still too much of a typical genre exercise, but it's very solid filler that underlines Zeze's talent as a director.

13. 3.0* - Heaven and Hell [Wong Jorn Pid] by Yuthlert Sippapak, Tiwa Moeithaisong (2012)
A trio of horror shorts linked together by their use of cam footage. The first short is pretty interesting, featuring no audible dialogue and monochrome images. The second (and longest) short is rather plain though and the last one is simply ridiculous. Not a terrible anthology, but Sippapak and Moeithaisong have made better films together.

14. 2.5* - Make the Last Wish by Sion Sono (2009)
A strange mix of supernatural, thriller and documentary elements. Sono crashes an Avril Lavigne fan contest and weaves his own story through it. The result is a little messy and the film doesn't feel very polished, but it's an intriguing mess that did keep me engaged from start to finish. Far from Sono's best, but decent filler nonetheless.

15. 2.5* - Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? - Arrow of the Orion [Gekijouban Danjon Ni Deai O Motomeru No Wa Machigatteiru Daro Ka: Orion No Y] by Katsushi Sakurabi (2019)
The animation is solid and the art style is nice, but the characters feel rather flat and the mix of fantasy, comedy and action isn't all that original. In the end this was just a very average anime with an above-average budget. Unless you're new to the genre there are no surprises here, but at least it's short and pretty to look at.

16. 2.0* - Uncut Gems by Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie (2019)
I'm not quite sure where the hype for this one came from. It's a rather basic crime flick that fails to stand out at all. Think Ritchie's Snatch in New York, with worse characters, duller direction and an overrated central performance. It's not the most terrible film, but it's not one I'm going to remember for a long time to come. Too plain.

17. 1.5* - The Saviour [Jiu Shi Zhe] by Ronny Yu
A pretty lackluster start to Ronny Yu's solo career. This is a rather dull police thriller, with a serial killer on the hunt for prostitutes. The action scenes are dim, the murders are boring and the investigation feels mandatory. It's not uncommon for Hong Kong directors to start their careers on low-end productions to learn the tricks of the trade, this is one of those film.

18. 1.5* - Fires Were Started by Humphrey Jennings (1943)
The first half hour feels incredibly staged (which it was) and fake (which clearly wasn't the goal). The second part introduces some much-needed dramatic tension and is a bit more demanding, but overall this is a pretty dull feature that does little justice to the work and the many sacrifices these people had to make.

19. 0.5* - Flaming Creatures by Jack Smith (1963)
Experimental 60s film, notorious for being banned (obscenity cited as the main reason). That's about its only claim to glory, because it has completely lost its shock value since then, the image quality is absolutely atrocious and the soundtrack is a terrible drag. Might have been a real hoot in its time, but it's utterly lame by modern standards.

20. 0.5* - Wavelength by Michael Snow (1967)
Like many experimental films, a very singular concept stretched endlessly. A 45-minute long (edited) zoom with a single tone growing louder and louder. It might've been grating and daring in the 60s, it's incredibly dull and lifeless by modern standards. Hard to sit through not because of its experimental nature, but because its faded impact.

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#5

Post by mightysparks » February 2nd, 2020, 1:25 pm

The Dirty Dozen (1967) 6/10 AFI's 100 years...100 thrills, Platinum 2/2
More of an action/adventure film than a war film, and as such as some ridiculously over the top moments. In the first half we follow the 12 criminals as they learn to become soldiers and all the hi-jinks that ensue. None of the characters are particularly fleshed out, but are mostly all fun to watch. Lee Marvin, as their general is pretty great the whole time and John Cassavetes is in top form too. In the second half they actually perform their mission, and though there are some really cool scenes (the climax is pretty great), we never really got enough 'growing through adversity' in the first half to have much of a connection to the characters as they die off and/or become heroes.

Point Break (1991) 5/10 The New Cult Canon, Gold 1/2
Insanely cheesy with a terrible script, poor characters and iffy acting to boot. It's still somewhat entertaining at times - the shoot-out at the house with all the guns was good - but mostly isn't very effective. Reeves has a few decent moments and is likable, but just isn't a very good actor. His character doesn't make much sense either and all the excited screaming rings false. None of his relationships are particularly convincing. Reeves and Busey do not make a good buddy cop couple, though Busey is ok. There's never any real bonding between him and Bodhi for the 'betrayal' to matter. The romantic interest is an absolute waste of space and the actor is terrible. When she comes in shooting at him in bed and is like 'I bet you even lied about your parents!', she sounded like a crybaby 12 year old and I lost it laughing. The dialogue is pretty cringy and bad throughout, all the surfing slang and 'bruhhh' is hilarious. And the ending could've been decent if they had skipped all the dialogue, it was ridiculous. It's also obvious that the waves are archival/B-cam footage and the surfing stuff is never really interesting.

Holy Motors (2012) 6/10 BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century, Gold 1/2
Many times over the years I've attempted to watch this film but there's either been a technical problem or I've just not been in the mood. It was one of those films that I felt I had to be in a particular mood for, and finally tonight felt like the night. I didn't expect to like this much, not that I knew anything about it, and I was surprised at how intriguing it was. It was unnerving, slow, and moody, with an impossible, but fascinating, world. Mulholland Drive is an obvious comparison, with elements of Dark City and Black Mirror, though more subtle, ambiguous and unexplained (sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing). Not every 'appointment' was interesting though; the model one was terrible, the singing one was annoying, and the last scene was a bit silly. The first 20-30 minutes were the strongest, and the motion capture scene was pretty dazzling. I didn't really get what the whole thing about - which is part of its charm, there are many explanations, but also none - but at the same time it seems to hint at something more that I don't think quite adds up.

Big Hero 6 (2014) 6/10 Reclaiming IMDb Top 50's Animation platinum
This is ok, but a pretty standard animated kids film. I really don't understand why the humour is supposed to be funny and it just goes wildly off-topic constantly so it remains quite shallow and doesn't really go in depth with the one thing it does really well; Hiro's grief. It's a basic character development point, but it's kind of sad when it happens and his reactions are convincing. Particularly as the entire revenge plot is tightly wrapped around a loss/anger arc, but it only ever gives you small glimpses of its potential before interrupting with silly childish jokes. The characters are all boring and though the robot is cute looking, its personality/dialogue is not particularly endearing.

Uncut Gems (2019) 8/10
I saw this described somewhere as a '2 hour panic attack' and that's a pretty good description. It's pumping with energy, super intense and it made me constantly anxious and nervous. Everything is constantly going wrong, everyone's putting pressure on everyone else and then you get a quick respite and it's just up and down all the way through. I don't get connected like that to a film's energy very often, and as anxiety-inducing as it is, it's a really awesome experience. Idina Menzel has an amazing natural resting bitch face, Adam Sandler is great, all the actors pretty on-point. Everyone is kind of irritating to a degree (in a good way), and the bad guys are pretty intimidating. Brilliant ending too.

Margaret (2011) 6/10 BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century, Gold 2/2, The New Cult Canon, Gold 2/2
A mixed bag, though it's enjoyable. Lisa is an interesting lead character, though never really makes any sense with anything she does. At first it seems she's just dealing with her grief and guilt, but it's more that this is just the kind of person she is; but she's impossible to understand. Paquin is also hit and miss with her performance, though it's not clear whether it's her acting, the character or the script that's causing the problem. J. Smith-Cameron gave the best performance and the relationship between her and Lisa is one of the more interesting parts of the film. Lisa's attempts to get justice are realistically disappointing and frustrating, and that moment that she sees the bus driver driving the bus is a feeling I know all too well. Nothing ever really comes together as a whole though, though there are some genuine and emotionally effective scenes, there are way too many random moments (eg, the 'abortion' comment, wtf?) and overly verbose and unrealistic dialogue.
"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

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#6

Post by peeptoad » February 2nd, 2020, 3:43 pm

Hi sol-

Alligator (1980) 8
Singapore Sling (1990) 6-7
The Relic (1997) 6
Predators (2010) 4-5
High Life (2018) 5

Alligator we touched in the challenge thread, but it's a good memory from my youth. Looking forward to that region A blu ray someday. B)
And I read Native Son when I was 14 for a school assignment, but I haven't seen any of the film adaptations. I was engrossed by the book, esp with regard to the more graphic depictions of the main event from memory...


everything for the last 2 weeks-

*rewatch
Peau d'âne (1970) Donkey Skin 6
Variola Vera (1982) 8
Gosti iz galaksije (1981) Visitors from the Arkana Galaxy 6
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 8*
De lift (1983) The Lift 6
Beyond the Time Barrier (1960) 7
The Devil's Men aka Land of the Minotaur (1976) 4
Shin Gojira (2016) Shin Godzilla 8*
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019) 3
Day of the Animals (1977) 5
Intruders (2011) 5
Gospodin oformitel (1987) Mister Designer 8
Konec srpna v Hotelu Ozone (1967)End of August at the Hotel Ozone 7
The Neon Maniacs (1986) 6
Gladiatorerna (1969) The Gladiators 6
Lady in White (1988) 6
Total Recal (1990) 7*
Quatermass 2 (1957) 8*
Radius (2017) 7
Knives Out (2019) 6

Variola Vera and Mister Designer were my 2 best FTVs for the last two weeks. The former I found to be bleak, realistic and rather gripping. I wonder how accurate this was per what actually happened, but it seemed very genuine. Mister Designer was a good psychological & visual experience. The overall atmosphere/mood is probably what will stick with me the most here. 'Hotel Ozone I also quite liked, but it didn't delve deep enough into the subject at hand, partly due to brevity, to really satisfy me. It was an intriguing beginning to something that would be interesting to see fleshed out in more detail. Shin Godzilla was my most enjoyable rewatch.

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#7

Post by sol » February 2nd, 2020, 4:04 pm

peeps:

Nice to see Singapore Sling get the second highest rating of what you have seen from mine. Euridice 2037 from the same director is a much more accomplished film to my mind, but I still loved all of the weirdness and subversion of the film noir mode that came with Singapore Sling.

Sad to see Predators get your lowest rating. Easily the best of the Predator sequels, almost on par on the first for me; then again, I have always been a sucker for Cubesque films.

I recalled your lowish rating of High Life from a couple of weeks ago. I was sceptical, since the film sounded very much up my alleyway, but it's really much more of a kooky sex movie than a deep space meditative drama.

Regarding Native Son, I will repeat my caution to max on the African American Challenge thread: Don't get your hopes up too high; everyone who has read the book seems to despise the 1986 version. It appears to be a pretty well-known text in America. As a non-US citizen though, and I hadn't even heard of the novel beforehand and with little/no preconceptions, I found the movie fascinating to view. But I have always been big on films that focus on characters grappling with crimes, misdeeds and immoral actions that haunt them. Oh, and yeah, the crime is shown in a lot of detail.

Yours:

That's a lot of films. I'll try for one sentence on each of which I have seen.

Yep, Variola Vera was one of the highlights of my recent Balkans quest; what an ending too with that flute showing up. I disliked Return of the King and the whole LOTR trilogy at the time. It's been more than 15 years though, and I guess this month is as good as any should I feel inclined to revisit them (doubtful but you never know). De Lift was fun enough at the time. I was so underwhelmed by The Force Awakens that I haven't seen the last two Star Wars movies and maybe never will. Mister Designer was yeah, interesting for sure. Lady in White didn't do much for me at the time. Total Recall is an all-time favourite with Jerry Goldsmith's greatest music score and such amazing personal identity drama. I almost watched the remake during the Sci-fi Challenge but couldn't quite bring myself to do so even though it will go Official when the mods eventually sort out the Box Office lists (no priority to them I realise). Quatermass 2 was really cool at the time; been a while though. And liked Knives Out a fair bit as a murder mystery fan, but the whole vomiting thing felt a bit ridiculous (I don't know if it's a real medical condition) though no more ridiculous than Daniel Craig's accent.
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#8

Post by peeptoad » February 2nd, 2020, 4:12 pm

sol wrote:
February 2nd, 2020, 4:04 pm
That's a lot of films.
Yeah, it's two (healthy) weeks' worth.
Knives Out was about 45 minutes too long for its own good imho. I've noted Euridice 2037, thanks. And maybe I'll give Predators another shot someday...

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#9

Post by morrison-dylan-fan » February 2nd, 2020, 4:33 pm

Hi all,I hope everyone is having a good weekend, @Sol, Singapore Sling is actually the only film I've seen where I actually wondered if the director had a mental breakdown during production (!),due to how utterly strange, well out of the comfort zone of taste it is.

I recently went to the Electric, (the oldest working cinema in the UK) for a doc showing. Although I enjoyed Ghostbusters & the cartoon shows,I'm not a huge fan (I've not seen the second film) but the quality of the doc,and the 50 minute Q&A afterwards, caught me by surprise:



Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters (2019) 9

Taking 12 years to make, (just like Boyhood!) directors Anthony Bueno & Claire Bueno set their Proton packs to a stunningly detailed examination of the first Ghostbusters, with the Bueno treating everyone from the cast,to the puppeteers with equal importance. Along with footage from the film and production photos, the Bueno's use delightfully quirky animation, which along with bringing to life recollections from the cast/crew, also links to the history animation has with Ghostbusters.

Detailing the hours of cut footage in a 50 minute Q&A after the screening, the Bueno's unveil fascinating behind the scenes archive material which has been unseen until now, from original concepts designs, models, and test runs on how the ghosts looked/moved, (Stay Puff sure got crispy!) to interviews going into the changes made to Ernie Hudson/Sigourney Weaver's plot lines. Whilst Rick Moranis (who has retired) and Bill Murray, (who has a rep in Hollywood for being a jerk,he stopped Ghostbusters 3 from being made for decade) don't appear, the Bueno's easily overcome this with fantastic interviews from Dan "Crystal Head Vodka" and visual effects art director John Bruno, to Harold Ramis final interview about the first Ghostbusters.

By a odd chance, the last Sci-Fi flick I saw also took 12 years to make!

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Space Cop (2016) 5.

Taking 12 years to make, (which means it must be good,since it took 12 years to make) the lads at RedLetterMedia (RLM) create a loving tribute to the shoddy-looking flicks of the video bargain bin era, from the indoor baddies talking scenes being barely lit up and ending out of synch audio, to models/low-res "special effects" being slapped on, along with the change from actor to stunt guy being clearly visible.Stating later that they gave Space Cop no arc (it's so dense) the knowledge RLM have on Sci-Fi in some snappy exchanges, because like poetry, it rhymes.

The move to keep Space Cop in the same place, does lead to the almost 1 hour and 50 min run-time feeling stretched out, due to little chances taken to expand the buddy team-up of Space Cop and Cooper, and a surprising laid-back mood, for what should be a exciting chase of Space cop hunting for the evil talking brain. Admitting that he can't act, Hollywood superstar Dick the Birthday Boy charges in with the best laughs in the flick when bumping into the set or screaming as he messes with the props. Attempting each time he is on screen to get Rich Evans to laugh,Mike Stoklasa brings out all the warmth and ease the RLM team have round each other, which sits half in the bag.

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#10

Post by Cinepolis » February 2nd, 2020, 5:41 pm

@sol
I liked "The Crow" and "Singapore Sling" more than you. "Body Bags" was (kinda) banned in Germany till recently. I'm hoping for a worthy home media release.
I watched "Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre" last week and enjoyed it just as much as you.

@peeptoad
"The Lift" is one of my favorite Dutch horror movies.

Mine:
Night of the Dolls (Daniel Murphy, 2014) - 4/10 | Generic low-budget slasher
Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre (Helmut Dziuba, 1982) - 7/10 | Heart-warming but still realistic tale of a little girl who runs away from an orphanage searching for a family.
WNUF Halloween Special (Chris LaMartina, 2013) - 6/10 | Creative premise, but the story drags a little and the ending is a letdown.
Troll Hunter (André Øvredal, 2010) - 6/10 | Good-looking found footage movie with nice visuals, but bland characters and no real tension.
Cold War (Paweł Pawlikowski, 2018) - 7/10 | Beautifully shot and acted, but the characters are too shallow. Looking forward to watching "Ida".

Ø6,00/10

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#11

Post by OldAle1 » February 2nd, 2020, 9:00 pm

OK, going to do this in two parts - first, films I saw this past month that weren't part of the challenges, and then all the stuff I actually saw this week. And hopefully I'll be back on track to keep this up week-to-week now.

This film ROCKED
This film SUCKED


Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold, 2019) (cinema)

I guess we need more films about the glory days of car-racing, huh? Didn't Ron Howard make something of the sort a few years ago, some (undoubted) piece of shit that's a thorn in the Top 250 forever? Anyway, while this has rightly gotten a little praise for being sort of anti-big-business, for championing little guy Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon, doing a pretty decent southern accent) and his wacky, doesn't-play-by-the-rules buddy and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), it never at any point gets into thinking about the inherently macho, beating-on-the-chest culture of the sports world, of the idea of winning at all costs. I guess you can't do that in a sports movie if you want to make hundreds of millions of dollars though - nobody likes to be told their favorite pastime might not be such a good thing for the world, or might at least deserve some thinking about, some examining why we throw all this money and energy into games. Anyway... this is all right, pretty much exactly what I expected, and there's nothing more to say from this non-sports fan.

The Last Dragon aka Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon (Michael Schultz, 1985)

Watched this because the RedLetterMedia guys devoted an episode to it, with the 40ish Macaulay Culkin waxing rhapsodic over childhood memories, and the similarly-aged Mike, not so much. They seemed to agree that it is just about the most 80s film there is, and I'd have to concur - the music, the hair, the styles, and the uneasy mixing of adolescent sexual urges, family-friendly violence, and way un-PC stereotyping of..just about everybody. I love watching Vanity - not so much for her acting, which is actually OK, or her music, which isn't my thing - I just like watching her, definitely one of my favorite sex symbols of that period. And I thought the martial arts stuff was all right for what it was, I mean you know this isn't a Shaw brothers or Jackie Chan film going in; and I thought the spiritual journey of our hero Leroy (Taimak) was kind of interesting, and his family dynamic - he's trying to be a pure martial arts warrior-monk guy while his parents think he needs to spend more time working in their pizza parlor - but the best part of the film is Richie, Leroy's kid brother, played in a too-old-for-his-years highly sarcastic style by Leo O'Brien. Add it all up and you've got a pretty silly film that's at least worth seeing once, and I can see how it's developed a cult, though I guess at this point I'm not in it.

The Big Night (Joseph Losey, 1951)

TCM. Bunch of good noirs on this month on the channel and I caught a few that I hadn't seen yet, including this solid entry by Losey, his last American film. John Drew Barrymore (who was spying on Losey for the FBI while the film was being made, the fucker) is all right as the young man who feels compelled to stand up for his father (Preston Foster) after the latter is savagely beaten by local sportswriter and big cheese Al Judge (Howard St John), and who goes on a night-long mission of attempted vengeance, but it's the secondary cast, including Joan Lorring and Dorothy Comingore as sisters who impress the young man in different ways, and the feeling of desperation and powerlessness that infuses this with it's energy. Not ultimately a top-flight noir for me but a solid entry into the sub-category of films that take place all in one night or in a few hours.

The Goonies (Richard Donner, 1985) (re-watch)

I probably would never have given this a second chance had I not bought a 3-fer BD for the two Gremlins films that also included this. And being more nostalgic than usual lately - though this wasn't part of my growing-up period - I plopped it a couple of weeks ago. I was 19 when it came out in the summer of 1985 and though I still was watching plenty of "kids" stuff - never let go of Warner Brothers cartoons, even at my most anti-Hollywood-anti-mainstream phase - I skipped it for whatever reason. Didn't see it until, I dunno, middle of last decade? And didn't like it that much.

But surprisingly enough I liked it a lot more on a re-watch. Maybe it is in fact that I'm at a nostalgic peak - living a few miles from where I grew up, having just lost my mom a few months ago, etc - or maybe it's something else but I got into it this time. I think it's fairly well directed and the kids didn't annoy me as much - though they are still too much at times. I guess this time I was able to put myself into an adolescent persona more, and maybe it helps that I read or re-read a couple of Hardy Boys books recently - clearly one of the primary influences on the film. And I love the particular kind of overstuffed production design - evident in both the underground sequences and the pirate ship and also in the kids' house. I dunno, it's probably never going to be a favorite for me but I definitely get the appeal more this time.

Race Street (Edward L. Marin, 1948)

TCM. Cop William Bendix still maintains a friendship with childhood pal George Raft, who has become a top bookie, and when something happens to Raft's best buddy Harry Morgan, Bendix (who also narrates, so you know he's going to make it to the end) gets involved, soon finding out that there's a new syndicate headed by Frank Faylen in a welcome, rare larger role, and that perhaps Raft's girlfriend Marilyn Maxwell isn't as sweet as she seems to be. This is a solid and fairly exciting cheapo noir, with a couple of good chase scenes, limited significantly by Raft, one of the most colorless and wooden leading men even at the best of times and not at his best here. I enjoyed it enough for the usual reasons I love classic noir but I'd never recommend it to anyone who isn't already enamored of the style.

Gambling House (Ted Tetzlaff, 1950)

TCM. Victor Mature is a small-time gambling hustler taking the rap - and a bullet - for his boss and casino operator William Bendix, who concocts a scheme whereby he'll be able to walk away with $50k and leave Bendix holding the bag, as he has evidence that'll put Bendix away if the boss doesn't help him out when he faces deportation back to Italy. Luckily he also meets immigration worker Terry Moore, the archetypal rich girl who wants to do some good and get away from her family. A fairly simple story with a nice message of the ability of a guy to reform himself, the notion that nobody is born bad, and that immigrants, yeah, they really did make this country; rather a progressive film in the end though there are some mixed messages throughout. Mature is as usual much better than he is ever given credit for; being of Italian heritage himself and a WWII veteran (one plot element here is that his character complains that he fought for his country so how can he be deported, even if he isn't a citizen) maybe he puts a little more than usual into this one.

Uncut Gems (Safdie brothers, 2019) (cinema)

Yes, Adam Sandler was robbed. Can't believe I'm writing that, but along with Greta Gerwig's missing a Best Director nod, this is the biggest Oscar oversight this year IMO (so far - lots to see yet). He is absolutely brilliant as the hustling diamond merchant and sports fanatic playing multiple deals at once and trying to stay afloat in a nightmarish world where he can't deal with either his wife or girlfriend problems, there are more and more threats from his brother-in-law and multiple other people - some obvious gangsters - that he owes money to - and all he really wants to do is become Kevin Garnett's best buddy. I liked this much, much more than the brothers' previous film but it has much of the same manic feeling of darkness and pessimism, a souped-up noir you could call it I suppose. I didn't quite love it -- the ending felt a little too pat I guess, a little too predictable -- but Sandler is a revelation and I can't knock anybody else in the cast including Garnett, playing himsel - he's no LeBron James but if he wasn't 7' tall he might have an acting future.

Hidden Guns (Albert C. Gannaway, 1956)

Well above average b - almost c - western with the usually dull Bruce Bennett in a better part and giving a better performance than usual as a crooked gambler, Stragg (great villain name) who holds the town in the palm of his hand and gets away with murder with ease. Only sheriff Ward Young (Richard Arlen) and his son Faron (Faron Young, an up-and-coming singing star at the time) can stop him, but things look dire indeed when Stragg hires killer Snipe Harding (John Carradine) to do his dirty work. Faron Young is more or less the hero here and he's, well, a better singer than an actor and I'd never heard of him as a singer before - but Carradine is awesome in one of his best low-budget roles, very funny and obviously playing everybody against each other in an almost Yojimbo-like way. 25-year-old Angie Dickinson is also on hand in a small role, one of her earliest. Not a great film but one of those many examples of a completely unheralded and obscure little flick that ends up being memorable.

Blue, White and Perfect (Herbert Leeds, 1942)

Fourth in the Michael Shayne series with Lloyd Nolan as the ever wisecracking and ever poor and just about to get arrested private eye. Here he gets a new job masquerading as a riveter at a factory that's experienced an unsolved murder which might be...sabotage. Soon he finds out that industrial diamond thieves are behind it and the plot kicks into high gear with just about as fast a pace and as much action as I've seen in a 74-minute crime film from this period. That's why these films are fun, they just take off and never let anything get in the way, including common sense. There's a scene where Mike is allowed to sign a check written to him over to a steamship company, right on the gangway, and get a ticket and change in cash! I mean even in 1942 that's hard to believe. Great secondary cast includes Mary Beth Hughes (also present in the previous two series entries though playing differently-named characters in each), Superman himself George Reeves and Curt Bois.

Edge of the City (Martin Ritt, 1957)

TCM. Longshoreman Sidney Poitier befriends drifter John Cassavetes on the docks of New York, and the two strike up a fast and easy friendship, complicated only by asshole foreman Jack Warden, who has something against Poitier...hmm, wonder what it could be? This is labeled noir in a lot of places, and it does have those elements, and the ending in particular has a hard-boiled, tragic and pessimistic feel to it, but I don't really think the crime and violence is at the center of it - the center is really the friendship of these two guys and the ability of people from different walks of life to just not care about skin color, class, etc, anymore - a bold statement in 1957. I do think the ending lessens the power of the comedy-drama elements that form the center of the film, and I came away feeling I wanted to just spend more time with these two guys, Poitier's wife (Ruby Dee) and Cassavetes' budding romantic partner (Kathleen Maguire). The cast is just great but Poitier and Dee especially are tremendous; I've become a big Poitier fan in recent year, he's got a charisma to him that is really to my mind unequalled in American film of that period (Newman and Brando are close) and he is just a joy to watch, but it's Dee who has the absolutely killer scene near the end, which I can't describe without spoiling it. Not a great film ultimately I think because it allows itself to fall too neatly into genre tropes in the end and to some extent the beginning, but a good one with plenty of moments of greatness.

The Wrath of God (Ralph Nelson, 1972)

TCM. OK late Latin America-set western with Robert Mitchum as a priest (maybe) who teams up with ex-pat Ken Hutchison, a loser with few prospects, and British arms dealer Victor Buono to do the dirty work of Colonel Santilla (John Colicos) in dispatching a brutal militia leader (Frank Langella) who holds a town and a large part of the countryside under his sway. Notable for Langella in a pretty early performance, and Rita Hayworth in her last role as his mother. 1972 is pretty late for a film set entirely south of the border, with a cast of all gringos (OK Hayworth was half-Spanish but I don't think that cuts it), but the real problem is that it's just kind of long and boring.

5 Card Stud (Henry Hathaway, 1968)

Another fairly mediocre Mitchum western though it's Dean Martin who's the headliner and protagonist here. Martin is one of several players in a poker game (hence the title) where a stranger in town was caught cheating and run out of town and lynched by the others, while Martin tried and failed to stop them. Ringleader of the bunch is Roddy McDowell in a rare villainous role, and Mitchum is a stranger, a preacher who comes to town at the exact moment that the card players start getting killed one by one - in ways involving their necks. Coincidence? Dean Martin is going to find out before he, though he wasn't one of the lynchers, becomes the next victim. Ehh, an interesting cast isn't enough here, not to make it really good anyway though it's far from terrible. One rather interesting element is the presence of Yaphet Kotto as a bartender, and the fact that there's only one very brief reference to his race -- part of a trend of having the occasional black actor in a western and just pretending that racism didn't exist in those days, you can see it in the later Silverado and Unforgiven also.

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#12

Post by OldAle1 » February 2nd, 2020, 10:17 pm

Part 2 - everything I actually saw this past week.

This film ROCKED
This film SUCKED
This film is SO BAD IT'S GOOD

Little Women (Greta Gerwig) (2 viewings, cinema)

I was pretty sure this was a great film after one viewing, but a couple of elements - the ending, or rather endings, and the cinematography, which looked a little too pink/lavender hued, almost "off" - bothered me, and I wanted to see it a second time anyway just because I loved it. I'm happy to say that the photography had no issues on the second pass - I saw it in a different cinema deliberately and either that, or my just having a bad eye day, was the issue - and that I feel like I get what she was doing with the ending now. I'm convinced this is a brilliant work now and it's quite safely my favorite film of 2019, though with so much left to see who knows what will shake out in a month or six. But in any case this will remain a contender, a top 1-5 for almost any year.

What makes it great? Well, technically it's hugely impressive, with a very careful and specific cinematographic design that works in beautiful concert with the editing and directing decisions in juxtaposing the lives of the March sisters and the extended character relationships past and present, so as to present a view of time and memory, past present and even future (the future of 2019, when the film was made, as well as 1868-9 when the book was published) that really does feel at times almost "cubist" as Gerwig has called it; certainly it's a modernist rendition that makes us aware of author(s), actors and characters all as being reflections of the same being. The reflective nature and continuous awareness of time passing, of loss and the delaying or ending of hopes makes the film feel much more serious and true to lived experience than the 1933 version (the only one I've seen - haven't read the novel either), or for that matter the vast majority of dramas that cover years of characters' lives. Here we really get a sense of why these girls - especially Amy, who has the most complex character arc in the story - grow into the women they do, and what they lose and gain in the process.

The cast is very good top to bottom, with Saorise Ronan as Jo and Florence Pugh as Amy getting the most, deserved praise, but Emma Watson is certainly better than she has been in most films and does pretty well at carrying off a Meg that is, let's face it, never going to be exciting or particularly relatable to most 21st century viewers, and I really liked Eliza Scanlen's quiet grace in the prospect of early departure; and the men, particularly Chris Cooper, come off just as well. Meryl Streep is fine as the old battle-axe rich aunt but let's face it she could play it in her sleep; Laura Dern has a couple of great small scenes and bits of dialogue but this is really about the girls, and about the one boy they all love or might love at some point or another, played with an often indolent ease by Timothée Chalamet. I haven't totally warmed to Chalamet for whatever reason but I can't really complain about him here, I feel it's just me, and the dance with Jo on the veranda is certainly one of the high points in a film that has many.

Masterpiece.

Nights and Weekends (Greta Gerwig/Joe Swanberg, 2008)

Gerwig's first film as director, co-directed/written/and starring Swanberg, who has a cottage industry of super-low-budget, improvised (or seemingly so) films about himself and his little workshop of actors/writers fucking and talking about their hopes, dreams, philosophy, Chicago, clothes, etc. This is the second of these I've seen, after Hannah Takes the Stairs and I maybe liked it just a tiny bit more, mostly due to Gerwig's greater domination of the film; it's not really a surprise that she became the breakout star of this group, though associated members Mark Duplass and Andrew Bujalski have gone on to have significant careers as well. Mumblecore, not really my thing; I guess I believe there is an art even to artlessness, to trying to get that elusive sense of reality, something that John Cassavetes achieved regularly, and maybe you could argue that some of the New Wave films like Varda's La Pointe-Courte manage it as well, but to me these Swanberg (or Swanberg/Gerwig - unclear to me how much of the direction she is responsible for, given that she has said over and over that she can't direct herself, and she's in just about every scene) films are mostly tedious and ugly. Recommended to those who want to see Greta or Joe naked a lot, but that's about it. And if anyone reading this loves these films or other mumblecore productions, what am I missing?

The Cosmic Man (Herbert S. Greene, 1959)

Super-cheap reworking of The Day the Earth Stood Still. An impenetrable and immovable egg-like ship appears in a canyon after being seen flying all over the place at 50 miles per second (!), and scientist Bruce Bennett among others goes to investigate. Soon there are strange sightings of a shadowy figure around the nearby town, and an odd heavily wrapped-up man (John Carradine) takes a room at the lodge run by the attractive widow who has a crippled science-obsessed son. Is he The Cosmic Man? Is he up to help humanity, or destroy it! You'll figure it out more quickly than the film will tell you I"m sure, but the message remains a good one and Bennett and Carradine - and Carradine's voice especially - make this moderately enjoyable. Interesting note: at one point the alien is called a "cosmonaut" - this was 2 years before Yuri Gagarin's first flight, and I wonder how commonly that term was known in the USA at the time?

Flash Gordon (Frederick Stephani, 1936) (re-watch) (245 minutes, 13 episode serial)

I've been on a bigger nostalgia kick than usual this winter, and it was time to re-visit one of my earliest sci-fi memories, the Flash Gordon serials. Well, the first one anyway - one of these inside a month is enough. I have no idea which serial, or which parts of which serial, or whether it was a whole serial or one of the cut-up b-movie 70 minute versions that I saw back when we lived in Chicago in the early 70s, but I distinctly remember the scene, repeated many times, of the rocket ship as it circles and lands in the cheap papier-mâché sets

Image

and even more vividly I've always remembered the buzzing sound of the ships. I first watched the three serials straight through around 2002 or so, on VHS from the local video store in Burlington, VT, and then I watched them again around a decade later on the OK Image DVDs, the same source I have now. It'd be nice to see these transferred in HD with some extras but I'm not holding my breath, and the DVDs are OK. What to say about them...if it's good acting, or storytelling, or direction you're looking for, well...these are above the standard quality for serials for sure and the production design, sets and FX are about as good as you get in 1936 which is to say certainly very dated but fun if you can cast yourself back to those days. The acting is probably the hardest thing to take though to be fair I think the very quick shooting schedules and frankly the attitude behind these things ("they're just for kids, they won't notice") is a big part of their flaws. Charles Middleton as Ming is most memorable and probably gives the best performance but it's all ham; Jean Rogers as Dale is simply horrendous, with a deer-in-the-headlights look plastered on her Harlowe-esque countenance most of the time. It's fun to look at the storytelling flaws - one thing this film shows as well as most serials is the lack of any coherent time/space values - it feels like it's all taking place over, I dunno, a couple of days at most (we never see anyone sleep), with just a couple of costume changes for the females and none for most of the male actors, with people flying all over space from planet to planet in seemingly a few seconds or minutes time, and Zarkov inventing a new gadget in every episode in the matter of 5 minutes - new rays, new weapons, etc. But it's a hell of a lot of fun if you can buy into the whole serial idea, probably still among my 5 favorite Hollywood examples from the era.

Elektra (Rob Bowman, 2005)

I got this out of the library just because it was right next to the Greek Ilektra and I thought it might be amusing to watch it while watching all these Greek films and seeing if it had anything to do with any of them, like if Elektra's name really came out of the tragic Greek heroine's story. Answer: I guess she does, her name and that of her brother (not in the film) do come from the Greek sources, but there's not a whole lot else other than general vengeance shit that you see in both ancient tragedies and loads of comics. I never bought Daredevil back in the early 80s when she was created, but I was aware of the character - this is really my first significant exposure to her. And this film has a very poor rep but...I didn't think it was all that bad. Oh, not good either and it gets an overall negative score from me, but no worse than a LOT of better-reviewed and more profitable superhero films of the last 15 years IMO. It's nicely shot, the CGI looks pretty good for 2005, and it's got Terence Stamp, and nothing can be truly awful with Terence Stamp. And Jennifer Garner is OK in the lead, she certainly can look the part anyway, but the story is the letdown as it often is for these kinds of things, just a boring typical I-have-to-fight-guy-who-it's-been-my-destiny-to-fight thing, and the way the flashbacks to Elektra's childhood are integrated really doesn't work and doesn't add much of anything to the proceedings. I wouldn't have thought it would qualify as "fantasy" but it does end up having a lot of wuxia trappings and there is indeed a lot of magical shit going on in the second half in particular.

Ilektra (Michael Cacoyannis, 1962, GREECE)

I may have read the Euripedes play back in college - certainly some bits of this fine adaptation seemed familiar - but I can't say for sure. Hard for me to say too much about this, I'm not really familiar enough with Greek tragedy and it's conventions, and I found some of the dialogue and the overtly stagy acting in this story of spurned daughter of a murdered king seeking revenge on her mother and stepfather a little dense and strange; however Irene Papas as Ilektra burns through the staginess like a fire through silk, and the desolate settings are beautifully captured by Walter Lassally's camera, and the modernist but folk-inflected score by Mikis Theodorakis is great as well.

1917 (Sam Mendes, 2019) (cinema)

I guess I can say I "liked" this overall, or at least that I enjoyed the experience of watching it - and agree with many others that it is essentially a technical exercise, a thrill ride, Indiana Jones in the trenches. And I could enjoy it for that and admire the craft; I'm not the world's biggest fan of Roger Deakins but I thought his work here was pretty darn good and maybe after this and BR2049 I need to go back and re-assess my feelings about some of his earlier stuff. And Mendes and editor Lee Smith certainly succeed in keeping up the energy and constant movement, but at the end of the day to me this feels more like Raiders or True Lies, or a horror film like Get Out, than it does a film really trying to deal with what war is. And I like those three films, so that's not exactly damning it, but none of them are close to all-time favorites for me, in part because horror and especially action films tend to be deliberately self-limiting, they want to shock or excite or thrill you and that's all. And for me that's usually not enough, and it certainly isn't enough in a film about a real-life, massive human tragedy. Now the more I think about it the less I like it actually, and some of that also has to do with thinking about the complete lack of any moral/ethical/political tones in the film - something that we expect in plenty of earlier war films but which seems pretty out-of-place today, especially given what we know about the real reasons behind WWI, that the "allies" were simply greedy colonialists not much different from the "axis". It was all about money, of course, something this film never begins to acknowledge.

Meandre (Mircea Saucan, 1966)

Another film most notable for it's photography - also b/w like every film I've watched for this challenge, but also full of odd angles and weird stagings of events, and repetitions. Maybe I was too tired or wasn't concentrating that well but this story of an architect and his struggles with his wife (??) and a younger man - son? - mostly lost me, but it's definitely something I'll come back to for the beauty of the imagery and some great long takes and deep focus shots.

O fovos / The Fear (Kostas Manoussakis, 1966)

This will probably tie with O drakos as the best film of this challenge for me, an intense murder-drama about a wealthy farm family - a heavy-drinking and gambling father, long suffering mother, virginal and angry and perhaps rather slow son, beautiful daughter who is mostly away in the big city, and an adopted deaf-mute daughter who seems to have something of the saint in her - at least according to the local village people. The son is mad with desire and can find nobody to be with --- the father unknowingly is showing him the way of force and brutality --- and it all goes in a direction that isn't going to surprise but remains compelling through excellent performances and camerawork that really makes us feel a part of this isolated rural area. And another film with an excellent modern score that reflects older musics, by Yannis Markopoulos.

Deadly Prey (David Prior, 1987)

Had no idea this was on the list, who the hell voted for this :lol: ? Anyway, I've known about this for a few years, being a die-hard fan of RedLetterMedia's Best of the Worst since it began, and this was one of their earliest finds, circa 2012-3 or so. Got a copy somewhere a couple of years ago and this was as good a time as any - and it's pretty much just as awesome as they describe it, a z-grade Rambo rip-off with elements of Predator and - the title is the clue - the best of all of these kinds of one-man-against-an-army films, Cornel Wilde's The Naked Prey. Our lead guy even runs around through the forest mostly naked. One thing the RLM guys didn't mention is how the whole thing is horribly post-dubbed - by the actors themselves in most cases I think, but it's more obvious than it should be that the sound isn't live. Another thing they don't mention is the presence of the great Cameron Mitchell as the cop, father-in-law to our one-man-army, who has one of the best scenes in the movie, declaiming a long speech to one of the faceless villains before summarily executing him. Maybe the RLM guys didn't know Mitchell at the time, he became a fixture on the show later, as well he should. Anyway this definitely hits the so-bad-it's-good sweet spot for me.

The Brain That Wouldn't Die (Joseph Green, 1962)

TCM. Jason Evers - acting at fever pitch through much of this weird piece of schlock, like most of the cast - plays a doctor who just won't let the patient being operated on by his boring old conventional father die... you see, he knows the secret of bringing people back to life! And also transplanting every kind of organ or body part you can think of, and so when he and his fiancee get in a terrible car accident conveniently just outside of his palatia (on the outside - the room we see just inside looks like a cheap hotel room) country house equipped with it's own experimental laboratory, he knows he can save her even though... well, you'll get the idea from the title. This is basically an excuse for lots of cheesecake modelling (he has to go find a suitable body you see) and dancing, and hyperbolic statements about man playing god and such, and it's lots of fun if you enjoy this kind of thing. Anthony La Penna probably gives the most ripe performance as Kurt, the tragic assistant. I wonder if Stuart Gordon is a fan - I definitely felt a bit of Re-Animator while watching this. The second film I've seen this month that goes on my so-bad-it's-good list, that's pretty crazy given that we aren't even doing a low ratings challenge right now.

Ritzar bez bronya / Knight Without Armour (Borislav Sharliev, 1966)

Cute story about a kid and his family, with the kid having fantasies about Don Quixote, the Three Musketeers, etc - encouraged to one extent or other both by his rather rough father and his much gentler, laid-back bohemian uncle. If you read the IMDb plot description you'll get the basic idea - there's corruption and deceit in the world, and both his parents and many others around him are a part of it, with only the uncle being true and honorable - though he of course is seen as a lazy bum by others. It's a nice little film but I can't say I got anything particularly special out of it. Nice feel for the big old city - Sofia I presume - and with a loose shooting style that reminded me of some French films of this period.

Reconstituirea / Reconstruction (Lucien Pintile, 1968)

Two young men have gotten in a drunken fight, and hurt the barman at a cafe out in some suburban or rural environs, with a lake and river, forest and hills nearby, and the film describes a re-enactment of their crime a few days later which is being filmed in the hopes of curbing other young wastrels' alcoholism and violence. This is a tough little film that I probably watched too late, and perhaps could have used a little background to appreciate more; it's clearly making some arguments against the bureaucracy and criminal justice sytem of the regime but I couldn't understand the details, and why we have a beautiful bikini-clad girl flitting around the margins of the frame nearly all the time was also beyond me. Interestingly shot and the kind of film I generally like, I just couldn't get enough out of it on one viewing to say much more than "neat, but what's it all about?" I definitely think I'll return to this at some point but at this point I have to say "interesting, but.. ???"

Pote tin Kyriaki / Never on Sunday (Jules Dassin, 1960)

Director-writer Dassin also stars, alongside his future wife Melina Mercouri in his first Greek-made film and second film with Mercouri. He's an American writer obsessed with the Greek tragedies (but who strangely enough doesn't speak a word of the language) on... holiday? work? it's never really clear - in Piraeus, which, if the films I've watched in this challenge are any indication, seems to be used as a filming location as much as Athens itself in this 50s-60s era. He's trying to find out why Greek classical civilization fell and the world became barbaric, and he meets lovable aging hooker Mercouri and determines that she will be his key, eventually deciding to play something like a Prof HIggins to her Pygmalion (a Greek story to begin with before Bernard Shaw made it famous to the rest of the world). This just didn't work for me overall; I didn't find it funny or particularly romantic and though I don't think it's intended to be misogynistic or condescending towards women or Greece it sure felt like it at times. And Dassin isn't particularly engaging as an actor, he's kind of like Sam Fuller with half the personality. So that leaves Mercouri who pretty much makes this worth watching - barely - on her own. Oh, Giorgos Foundas is also pretty good - I think he was in half the Greek films I watched in this challenge. This is also the origin of the pop song, sung by Mercouri, and it's a nice rendition though the lyric "never on Sunday" isn't present, that doesn't exist until it was re-written in English to capitalize on the film's success under the English-language title; I've always known the song, vaguely, as a dim memory from childhood - it was recorded dozens of times through the 60s - but I don't know which version(s) I'm remembering; frustrating. Anyway a somewhat disappointing last film for a pretty good challenge, and, interestingly it's this and Zorba, the two films that are most "American" that I liked the least.

NBC Special Treat: Into Infinity (Charles Crichton, 1975)

And this one is DEEEEEEPPP nostalgia for me. I"m pretty sure I saw this on it's original airing in December, 1975, shortly after I turned 10, and I never entirely forgot it though like Hardware Wars it was buried pretty deep for a long time. In this case I didn't even remember the title so had no way of finding it until I figured out how to do advanced search on IMDb and spent some time looking for something about interstellar travel from the mid-70s. Bingo! And then I found a copy a while back and figured this would be a good time to watch it. I remembered that it was a family, on a spaceship going to another star, and that there was a sequence where they go through a black hole - that was it. I didn't remember (and wouldn't have known at the time) that it was a British production, directed by the great Charles Crichton, famous for his comedies, and produced by Gerry Anderson of Space: 1999 and Thunderbirds fame. Knowing that now, and then watching it again, it's not surprising that it was intended as the pilot to a TV series, which never got made - and I guess then it got picked up by NBC for their competition to ABC's wildly successful Afterschool Specials. It's as I remembered it - a family (though the relations are unclear - there are two adult men, one adult woman, two kids - I think it's a single dad with one kid, mom & dad with the other - but the way it's done I'm just not sure who belongs with who) taking the first interstellar trip to Alpha Centauri aboard a space ship that looks suspiciously like a leftover from Space: 1999. Brian Blessed is the only member of the cast that would be likely to be familiar, but this is not an acting-centered program, the characters are all pretty cardboard. You watch this for the neat (at the time - certainly very dated) effects, and for the regular doses of science fact doled out by just about every character, explaining Einstein's theory of relativity, the Doppler effect, black holes, etc etc. It feels like a lecture at times though these moments are mercifully pretty short. Anyway it's quite family-oriented and harmless, and really nothing more than a blip in the history SF television, though it probably offers one of the first mentions of black holes, and it's certainly the place I learned about them, and about photons and maybe the speed of light and the distances between stars. Another one purely for the nostalgists.

Sátántangó (Béla Tarr, 1994) (re-watch) (cinema)

4K restoration at the UW Cinematheque, Madison. The first and only other time I saw this was at the 1994 Chicago Film Festival, with Jonathan Rosenbaum introducing Béla Tarr, who stayed for an hour of questions after the 7 1/2 hour film we had all just watched. No such luck this time but as with that other viewing, the theater was packed and it didn't seem like a single audience member packed up and left before it was all over. I had forgotten a lot over the past quarter-century, including most of the last section apart from Irimiás' long speech - Mihály Vig has such a personal magnetism, and an absolutely beautiful and melodic voice (probably related to his main job as a musician) that it just leaves me spellbound, and I don't think it's a coincidence that he is younger, taller, and better looking than anybody else in the film, he is meant to stand out. Plus that cool black hat and coat and the Tom Baker scarf - if anybody could cut the figure of the Christ/Devil that Irimiás represents, Vig's the guy.

I had also forgotten the impressive sound design; because Tarr shot most of it silent and foregrounds the voices in the sound mix, and the volume was quite loud, the effect is often one of being roused out of the hypnotic feelings during the long slow takes by these often aggressive voices and the regular doses of very dark humor. I"m not sure why this is no longer listed as a comedy on IMDb but to me if forced to give it only one genre that's what it would be. I mean the scene in the clerk's office, with the two guys "correcting" or sanitizing Irimiás' truly awful descriptions of the townspeople might be one of the funniest I've ever seen. Then again the several scenes that are quite deliberately dark and stripped of all joy, most notably the scene with the little girl and the cat, don't belong in any traditional comedy. This is something else altogether I guess, a cosmic black and bitter howl at the universe full of sarcasm, grief, and a pessimism for even darker days to come. If Irimiás is the savior, the devil/capitalist/God/Mick Jagger to a group of desperately poor, drunken, amoral and clueless louts who barely survived communism and aren't surviving it's successor any better, who yearn for easy answers and big promises, then what does the future really hold, what will happen if these people never wake up? Donald Trump, Victor Orban and climate catastrophe seem to be the answers that Béla Tarr and his crew knew all along.

In addition to Vig's magnetic Pied Piper at the center of the madness I have to mention Peter Berling's tragic drunken Doctor, possibly the only person besides Irimiás who has a clue about anything, and whichever actor plays Kelemen (IMDb lists an actor who was in his teens at the time, clearly wrong) as the standouts in a cast that is only standouts, and Vig's sparsely-used heavily accordion-inflected score, Gábor Medvigy's grayest-of-gray-ever photography and Ágnes Hranitzky's editing of these tremendous long shots into something that never feels boring - in fact felt a good 2-3 hours shorter than it is - all have to be mentioned. I don't think there's ever been a film so squalid and so beautiful at the same time. Now that we have this new 4K version I'm sure it will be on BD, finally, soon, and it will certainly be a first-day purchase for me. I have this at #30 on my all-time list right now but it probably deserves to go higher - if anything above it deserves to drop that is. Oh, making favorites lists is so hard.

What a great end to a week that started off pretty fucking great; one of my best movie weeks in years.

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#13

Post by mightysparks » February 3rd, 2020, 12:56 am

Others:

sol:
Sterne (1959) 7/10 - don't remember much now, but pretty good
Alligator (1980) 8/10 - Loved it. The alligator was awesome, the whole film is super fun and Robert Forster is a pretty likable and cool lead, though agreed about the romance.
The Crow (1994) 5/10 - meh.
Virtuosity (1995) 7/10 - I liked this more the first time. The idea is cool and it's decent fun, but it's quite cheesy and dated. And yea, Washington is a pretty dull lead, but Crowe is fun.
The Relic (1997) 5/10 - meh
Sliding Doors (1998) 7/10 - again, been a long time since I saw it, but it was one of the first 'alternate' timeline films I saw and I thought the concept was really cool. I don't remember the romances, but based on your comments it wouldn't surprise me if I liked it less on a rewatch...
Predators (2010) 6/10 - Don't remember it well, aside from being entertaining enough and one of the better sequels in the series.
The Thing (2011) 6/10 - Ok remake, but has nothing on the Carpenter film. I feel like it tried too hard to be an obvious remake that it never got to stand out on its own.
High Life (2018) 6/10 - Found the flashbacks too episodic and a lazy way of giving us information, though there are glimpses of an interesting film in them. I wasn't that interested in the present scenes with the daughter, and much preferred the back story, but the characters were all pretty boring.
The Irishman (2019) 5/10 - Well, wrote about this a few weeks ago but found it over-long and dull, the story wasn't interesting, acting was bad and the CGI was distractingly awful.
The Plumber (1979) 7/10 - Remember it being pretty tense, needs a rewatch though. One of my favourite Aussie films.

joachimt
Le roi et l'oiseau (1952) 4/10 - do not remember this at all

PdA
nothing

Onderhond
Jojo Rabbit (2019) 6/10 - liked it, but didn't really find the jokes funny and agree that it didn't use its full potential
Uncut Gems (2019) 8/10 - first favourite of 2019 and first fave watched this year. Got sucked right into the tension. Hated Snatch, so I don't see the comparison :P
Flaming Creatures (1963) 5/10 - don't remember at all
Wavelength (1967) 1/10 - interesting experiment, poor film

peep
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 9 - love this more every time I see it
De lift (1983) 5/10
Intruders (2011) 6 - good, until they reveal what's actually happening
Gospodin oformitel (1987) 4
Lady in White (1988) 4
Total Recall (1990) 9 - this is one of my earliest film memories, don't know if I'll ever not love it
Quatermass 2 (1957) 5
Knives Out (2019) 6

OldAle
Uncut Gems (2019) 8/10 - agreed with most points. Great stuff.
Little Women (2019) 5/10 - mediocre and shallow, but looks beautiful
Elektra (2005) 2/10 - we had a Bali copy of this and I remember the poorly translated subtitles being the highlight
Ilektra (1962) 6/10
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) 4/10 - the MST3K episode of this is hilarious though
Sátántangó (1994) 4/10
"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

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#14

Post by sol » February 3rd, 2020, 10:30 am

peeps:

You'll probably like Euridice 2037 if Kafka, Polanski's Repulsion and Aronofsky's mother! are up your alleyway. A terrific glimpse inside a paranoid mind.

m-d-f:

While I wouldn't recommend Sinapore Sling to everyone, I actually did not find it as strange or uncomfortable as many others out there. I have seen a lot weirder and more boundary-pushing movies in my time (Thundercrack! instantly springs to mind) and I liked the film's complete and utter assault on the noir mode in which our protagonist is more than just led astray by the femme(s) fatale. Some curious elements of Don Siegel's The Beguiled too.

Seen none of yours, though the Ghostbusters documentary sounds interesting despite also not being a big fan myself.

Cinepolis:

I wasn't expecting to find someone here who regarded the divisive Singapore Sling as a favourite, but that's cool. I liked it a lot. I'll make sure to double it up with Preminger's Laura if/when I give it another spin. I'm pretty sure that the film would be more interesting with the classic noir fresh in my mind, though I guess the occasional feeling that the film was being weird for the sake of it is what put me off awarding the film an elusive fourth star.

The Crow seems to be a massively popular film, but I don't get it. Some nice visuals and good choreography, but the film is a zero as a character study (he instantly becomes a vigilante) and honestly, dressing up like the Joker from the Batman series made no sense to me unless he was acting under the impression that the thugs were all terrified of Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film.

Body Bags has a gorgeous Region A Blu-ray release. Probably worth seeing if you're a Carpenter fan. I'm not and I still liked it a lot, though Tobe Hooper's contribution is weak. And possibly the reason why it was banned in Germany due to a sex scene that looks unsimulated and in which we get to see it all on both a male and female front.

Oh and cool, re: Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre. That's the film that finally pushed me into starting a Letterboxd account since I thought that the film deserved better than the two other 'reviews' on the site.

Yours:

Pretty much agree with you on Cold War, but I'd rate it lower. I liked Ida somewhat more when I watched the two films for last year's East European Challenge, but I would hard-pressed to cite any greatness in either movie despite my own affection for black and white photography.

mighty:

Yeah, Robert Forster deserved far better than the annoying romance he got stuck with in Alligator. Certainly some cool alligator attack scenes in the mix, but I craved more dark humour like the kiddie pool incident. Also, I kind of felt sorry for the croc. Didn't you?

It seems very weird to me how highly regarded The Crow is, but I guess a cult following was inevitable with what happened to Brandon Lee on set.

There is no comparing Virtuosity to The Insider or Proof, but while Russell Crowe has been better elsewhere, I don't think I have ever seen him quite as electric and energetic as he is in Virtuosity, or at least not outside of that 'South Park' episode of him bashing people around the world.

Well, yeah - the back-story of High Life could have easily been better with more dynamic characters in the mix. The fact that it is the back-story is a bit problematic too (no mystery or suspense about how things will turn out). I wonder if I would have liked the film more in chronological order because I'm generally big into deep space vastness films.

Agreed about the CGI being distracting in The Irishman, though for a different reason. I kept gawking how genuine it looked (even if De Niro never quite moved like a fit 40-year-old). That said, I agree about the story being no great shakes. On the acting front, De Niro had that telephone spluttering scene and Joe Pesci's eating without teeth really got to me, but I didn't think too much of their performances outside of these moments. I did like Pacino though, if mostly because he gets away with hamming it up. Not sure what Anna Paquin was doing, but I didn't like her much and the way the film handles her character is really wtf. I thought that the film was pretty decent, but in what has been a very solid movie year, I would rank it 8th of the 2019 Best Picture nominees that I have seen so far (I'm only missing Little Women).

I thought The Plumber was pretty mediocre when I first saw it on VHS some 15 or so years ago. It is a single "joke" film (everybody else thinks she is crazy for finding him dangerous) and consequently repetitive, but I found some small touches to really like this time - most notably a haunting final scene. Note: I'm not sure if you recall, but the film takes a bit of a jokey attitude towards rape, so might not be the most comfortable film to revisit.

Yours:

The Dirty Dozen is fine, though I recall liking it less upon revision. Point Break was actually much better than I ever anticipated that it would be, though its role in Hot Fuzz probably appeals to me more than the film itself. Holy Motors was interesting but silly. Apparently a film about the roles that we all play in life, which of course makes sense since we all tread through graveyards munching flowers every day (hmm). Big Hero 6 was a pleasant surprise. Will probably save Uncut Gems for next month's crime drama, but definitely interested as fan of Good Time. Also, I have long sung Adam Sandler's praises as a dramatic actor. He needs more films like Spanglish and Punch-Drunk Love to his name. Don't remember much of Margaret other than not liking it as much as the "cool kids" on the IMDb message boards at the time. I need to rewatch You Can Count on Me, but Kenneth Lonergan doesn't really seem to be my director.
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#15

Post by Onderhond » February 3rd, 2020, 10:43 am

@sol

We're pretty much on the same page about The Relic and The Crow , though it seems I was slightly more lenient towards The Relic. Slightly more critical towards Predators, which I didn't like at all (which I thought was a shame because I really like Antal). Liked The Thing a bit better that you, Dear White People about the same. None of those films I'm very passionate about though.

As for High Life, I really hated the set design/sci-fi elements in that one. It felt like typical arthouse being very lazy with its genre elements. The "outside" shots in particular were terribly ugly. Also don't agree about the deaging CGI in The Irishman, fell quite flat for me (and even more so after seeing what a YouTuber did with some freeware)

From yours, looking forward to see Death at a Funeral, the Oz one that is. Hadn't heard about that one before, I'll just let the afro-American remake pass me by I think.

@mighty

Kinda liked The Dirty Dozen (2.5*), mostly because it was a simple action flick rather than a war drama. Holy Motors (3*) was okay but not all that spectacular, Big Hero 6 (1*) a true atrocity. It seems you can stomach US animation better than I can :D

As for Uncut Gems, the downwards spiral + gem focus makes it slightly related to Snatch, the execution of both films is indeed very different. I really don't get the praise for the film, then again I'm not a big fan of the NY chaos/we're all so Jewish atmosphere that runs deep through the film. Also didn't get much from the tension to be honest, but that's probably because I prefer more viscerally unnerving cinema. It all felt quite modest and "normal" to me.

@peeptoad

Glad to see you liked Shin Gojira. I was actually attending a local expo (Cool Japan) yesterday, where they were playing scenes from the film. Not my favorite Godzilla film, but definitely one of the better ones.

Also liked Intruders much more than you did, but I seem to be one of the few people actually liking that film. It's also been a while though, so maybe a revision is in order :)

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#16

Post by mightysparks » February 3rd, 2020, 10:48 am

@sol

I enjoyed Holy Motors, and I liked the black comedy kinda feel, but yea that entire leprechaun/model sequence was just gross, boring and stupid. It had a lot of potential with the 'roles we play in life' thing, but it should've taken the concept more seriously. I liked Good Time a lot too, Uncut Gems was very similar but I felt it was more intense. I've liked all the Lonergan films I've seen, I think, Manchester By The Sea is my favourite of his. But Margaret was a little messy.

And yeah, I felt sad for the alligator, it was cute :( I liked the alligator action, and would've happily accepted more.

@Onderhond
I thought Uncut Gems was viscerally unnerving :P that's my favourite type of stuff, but it's very rare for me to find stuff that connects with me like that.
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#17

Post by Onderhond » February 3rd, 2020, 11:34 am

Myeah, "viscerally unnerving" is very much a "bend or break" style of film making, where "too much" will often result in the audience getting bored and losing interest altogether. I'm quite a bendy person though, so a bit of shaky camera work and a fast-talking New Yorker aren't going to do it for me :)

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#18

Post by sol » February 3rd, 2020, 12:31 pm

Onderhond:

I think The Irishman was my first experience with de-ageing visual effects in films. Maybe the whole thing is not quite as lifelike as it has the potential to be, but going in expecting rubbery faces and whatnot, I can't deny that I was impressed with how smooth the whole thing felt. :shrug:

High Life would have indeed done better by attending to its genre elements (rather than funnelling everything down to kooky sex experiments). The film is not really about the mysteries of space and weird things happening when far away from Earth. The comparisons the film got to Solaris are disappointing.

The British Death at a Funeral is a great film. I actually hadn't heard about the remake either until it somehow made its way into my Blu-ray collection (either bought on the cheap, in a bundle or something).

Yours:

I suppose your rating of Wavelength makes sense if you rate the likes of Dog Star Man as a minus two or minus three out of ten. Obviously, it is not a film for everyone, but I would definitely call Wavelength one of the most accessible experimental films out there since it has a decipherable narrative. It is also incredibly playful and I was personally enthralled the whole way through. I can't wait to revisit it. This is what I wrote at the time:

Wavelength (1967). Set inside a single apartment room, this unconventional thriller shows both days before and after a man is murdered there. Best thought of as an experimental movie rather than a narrative, the film is shot to look like one continuous slow zoom towards an object on the wall, and director Michael Snow employs an interesting bag of cinematic tricks to create the illusion as colours are inversed and shots are dissolved together to disguise the editing. The final shot, as it turns out, is a bit of a pun and frustratingly gives little context to the murder, but this manipulation of expectation is interesting in itself. It is quite a hypnotic experience too, with the pre-murder long distance shots especially enticing as attention is drawn to the windows where what is going on can barely be made out. The varying pitch sound scape is excellent too. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

I don't know. The film really worked for me. I was hooked and I look forward to seeing how I react when I revisit it for this year's Canada challenge.

Also seen Jojo Rabbit from you, which we've discussed and I loved, as well as Away We Go which is yeah okay and all but probably the weakest thing I have seen from the generally solid Sam Mendes.
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#19

Post by Onderhond » February 3rd, 2020, 12:47 pm

Glad I didn't hear of the Solaris comparisons before seeing High Life, that would've only made things worse I guess :D

I quickly skipped through Dog Star Man to get a feel of the film, it's something I could potentially like a lot better than Wavelength, depending on the score underneath. The film on YouTube doesn't seem to feature a soundtrack though, which would be a shame if the actual film is like that. I'm a much bigger fan of hyper-editing than I am of single-take shots (hence why Tetsuo and Umfeld are in my Top 10. I can appreciate both, but for slower films I expect much tighter execution and attention to detail

With films like these though, I have a lot of trouble looking through the crappy recording quality, feeble soundtracks and crappy looking "effects". I get that back then it was somewhat cutting edge, but for me, living in 2020, it falls completely flat. It can't phase me, it can't put me in a trance, it's just ugly, sloppy and imprecise. For example, the soundtrack of Wavelength feels like it should make me uneasy, but it doesn't at all. After 30 years or listening to noize, breakcore, industrial techno and whatnot, a single beep isn't going to unnerve me.

I'd be much more interesting in modern experimental films, but we all know these don't make it on ICM.

Oh, and as for the weakest Mendes, Road to Perdition (1*), Revolutionary Road (2*) and Skyfall (1*) are well below my score for Away We Go. Bit of a hit & miss director for me.

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#20

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » February 3rd, 2020, 1:48 pm

The Irishman (Marty Scorsesy, 2019) - 8+
The best thing Marty has done in years and years - but a lot to take in on a first viewing, already looking forward to a rewatch!

Gregory's Girl (Bill Forsyth, 1981) - 6-

Pauline à la plage / Pauline at the Beach (Éric Rohmer, 1983) - 8+

Nénette (Nicolas Philibert, 2010) - 6

Dans l'atelier de Chris Marker / In Chris Marker's Studio (Agnés Varda, 2011) - 7+
Chris seems like the weirdest guy. Such a lovely portrait by Agnés. Sad to think both of them have passed away by now...

The Fourth Watch (Janie Geiser, 2000) - 7
not everything is fish, but fish are teeming everywhere

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#21

Post by OldAle1 » February 3rd, 2020, 2:19 pm

FYI Onderhond Dog Star Man, like all (or almost all - someone else knows better I'm sure) Brakhage films, is silent. If you require a soundtrack he isn't for you.

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#22

Post by Onderhond » February 3rd, 2020, 2:28 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
February 3rd, 2020, 2:19 pm
FYI Onderhond Dog Star Man, like all (or almost all - someone else knows better I'm sure) Brakhage films, is silent. If you require a soundtrack he isn't for you.
I've seen two shorts, Mothlight (1*) and The Dante Quartet (2*), so that seems about right.
Feels strange to make these kind of films and not think about a soundtrack though. Any idea whether it was a conscious statement, a technical limitation or maybe he just didn't care?

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#23

Post by OldAle1 » February 3rd, 2020, 2:37 pm

Onderhond wrote:
February 3rd, 2020, 2:28 pm
OldAle1 wrote:
February 3rd, 2020, 2:19 pm
FYI Onderhond Dog Star Man, like all (or almost all - someone else knows better I'm sure) Brakhage films, is silent. If you require a soundtrack he isn't for you.
I've seen two shorts, Mothlight (1*) and The Dante Quartet (2*), so that seems about right.
Feels strange to make these kind of films and not think about a soundtrack though. Any idea whether it was a conscious statement, a technical limitation or maybe he just didn't care?
It was conscious, he wanted people to focus only on the image, that was all that was important to him. I can understand the logic - after all music is (or was, before video) only about the sound, that's your singular focus, so no harm in treating film the same way. But still his attitude seems a bit rare even in the experimental film world - I certainly can't think of anybody as massively prolific and influential in the sound era who has operated this way. I haven't really gotten that seriously into Brakhage yet though I typically find him at least interesting; I have the Criterion set and one of these days I'll start going through that, but at this point I prefer Snow, Frampton and Gehr among his rough contemporaries in the North American avant-garde - not that I'd recommend any of them to you :lol: .

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#24

Post by Onderhond » February 3rd, 2020, 3:19 pm

I find that sound, especially nicely tailored music (not some random background music thrown underneath the visuals, which may have been his issue?) adds focus to images rather than takes away from it, but he is allowed his opinion of course. Just feels like a missed opportunity to me.

Not actively seeking these films out at the moment btw, this was just a little TSPDT sprint to get to bronze, so no worries :D

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#25

Post by 45MinuteZoom » February 3rd, 2020, 4:25 pm

I fell into a deep Stardew Valley hole, so I haven’t been watching too much recently. But that should be ending seeing as I’m in summer of year three, completed all of the new 1.4 content with nothing left to do. Also here to jump on sol’s side of this Wavelength conversation.

The Opposite of Sex (Don Roos, 1998) - The tagline for this movie is “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be offended.” Well color me offended, I guess. The story is about a girl visiting her half brother and seducing his boyfriend to get pregnant. The comedy tries way to hard to be edgy and hadn’t aged well at all. 1/10

Dune (David Lynch, 1984) - watched because I’m just about finished reading the book. Maybe my mistake was watching the extended edition. Just strange changes made to the fighting, why in the world was it changed to yelling guns? I can see why Lynch would have been attracted to some aspects of the story, and the style was definitely fun in places, but overall this is just pretty bad. 3/10

The King (David Michod, 2019) - This was surprisingly captivating. Loved the chaos of the battle scene. Both Timothee Chalamet and Robert Pattinson were both fantastic. 8/10

1917 (Sam Mendes, 2019) - Great use of tension. 8/10

Now for the Wavelength stuff. It’s funny, we were at an art museum yesterday with a friend in a modern section. She had commented that some modern paintings she’s just immediately drawn to, and others don’t phase her at all. I completely agree, there’s just stuff that clicks with me immediately and Wavelength is in that category. It’s one of my favorites because it was just so radically different from anything I had seen before. I’ve since seen a lot of structuralist movies and I really vibe with the majority of them.

It’s just absolutely enthralling. I love the gradual build to the end, and the soundtrack of the wavelength getting faster as the zoom gets closer does complement that build by adding a sort of frenzied uneasiness.

I’ve also seen WVLNT: Wavelength For Those Who Don’t Have The Time in a theatre as a short in a presentation of general Canadian shorts. It’s Wavelength, but played faster and with the first and second halves of the short played over each other. The sound in that one especially is unnerving and I remember other audience members mumbling about when the sound was going to stop.

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#26

Post by Lonewolf2003 » February 4th, 2020, 2:05 pm

My viewing last week:
Altered States (1980, Ken Russell): 7.8
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017, Luc Besson): 4.5 - Few people have been so miscast as DeHaan in this. And he also acts absolutely horrible. His counterpart Delevingne fares only slightly better. Dragging down an already poorly written CGI fest.
Le Roi et l'oiseau [The King and the Mockingbird] (1952, Paul Grimault): 6.0 - It's cute and okay, but overrated. Animation felt very dated.
Kaze no tani no Naushika [Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind] (1984, Hayao Miyazaki) (rewatch): 9.5 > 8.5
1917 (2019, Sam Mendes): 7.8
Carmen Jones (1954, Otto Preminger): 6.8
Sheng gang qi bing [Long Arm of the Law] (1984, Johnny Mak): 7.5 Seen at the IFFR - Released a few year before the "Heroic Bloodshed" genre really kicked off, this very solid action-crime movie clearly been highly influential. It features some good action sequences, especially the final shoot-out in Kowloon's Walled City is memorable. With the protagonists being a bunch of ruthless bastards, who commit some hideous acts, this is a way more bleak and gritty take on the action-crime movie than the romantic one by f.e. John Woo. Painful is that Mak undercuts this hard-nosed depiction with some horrible comedy. An extra layer of interest is to see the difference between Hong Kong and Mainland China and the huge appeal the former had on the later.
Crash (1996, David Cronenberg): 7.8 Seen at the IFFR - I had the immense pleasure to see this with a live score performed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra with a little introduction from composer Howard Shore himself. The movie itself is intriguing take on the appeal of car crashes and the contradiction between the artificialness of death by crashes and human passion and sex.
Nan fang che zhan de ju hui [The Wild Goose Lake] (2019, Yinan Diao): 8.0 Seen at the IFFR- Yinan Diao follows up his breakthrough Black Coal, Thin Ice with this neo-noir. Fans of highly stylized crime movies from Asia should check this one out, people looking for more indepth characterizations and thematic depths will find less to like.
Hatsukoi [First Love] (2019, Takashi Miike): 7.5 Seen at the IFFR -I'm no Onderhond and haven't seen every Miike movie the last decade or so, but I've seen some and can say that tis one of his most enjoyable he made in years. At first it feels like Miike is trying to do too much in this movie; combining a story about a young boxer diagnosed with a brain tumor, an addicted call-girl with hallucinations about her father, a mobster with help of a corrupt cop stealing drugs from his yakuza gang and an ensuing gang war with the rival Chinese triad gang. But after the plot is established half-way, the film gets going at a breakneck pace with some the typical highly entertaining insanity one can expect from Miike.
Zombi Child (2019, Bertrand Bonello): 6.8 Seen at the IFFR -After Bonello's previous two movies this was a let-down. The last 15 minutes or so does have some of his cinematic magic, but both of the narrative strings, one about a real-life zombie in 1960s Haïti and one about teenage girls in a contemporary Parisian boarding school, leading up to this feel underdeveloped. Plus it ends very weirdly unfinished to me. This feels like a waste of what could have been a very fresh realistic take on the zombie genre.

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#27

Post by peeptoad » February 4th, 2020, 2:19 pm

Onderhond wrote:
February 3rd, 2020, 10:43 am

@peeptoad

Glad to see you liked Shin Gojira. I was actually attending a local expo (Cool Japan) yesterday, where they were playing scenes from the film. Not my favorite Godzilla film, but definitely one of the better ones.

Also liked Intruders much more than you did, but I seem to be one of the few people actually liking that film. It's also been a while though, so maybe a revision is in order :)
It's got to be one of my fav Godzillas, but I haven't sen the Toho stuff in ages and the newer films (like 2014 release, etc) I have disliked for the most part. I loved Shin Gojira though: this prob the third time I've seen it. The first two times I watched it twice in 48 hrs when a friend of mine had a download of it. No one but me liked it when we saw it: my friend's husband complained there was "too much talking" and I did notice more of that the third time around, but the overall experience is great. I absolutely love the look of Godzilla here and the mayhem he causes... easily the best 'Zilla film this side of 2000 for me.
Last edited by peeptoad on February 4th, 2020, 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#28

Post by Onderhond » February 4th, 2020, 2:20 pm

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
February 4th, 2020, 2:05 pm
I'm no Onderhond
I am, but I'm no DareDaniel :D

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#29

Post by Onderhond » February 4th, 2020, 2:22 pm

peeptoad wrote:
February 4th, 2020, 2:19 pm
It's got to be one of my fav Godzillas, but I haven't sen the Toho stuff in ages and the newer films (like 2014 release, etc) I have disliked for the most part. I loved Shin Gojira though: this prob the third time I've seen it. Thew first two times I watched twice in 48 hrs when a friend of mine had a download of it. No one but me liked it when we watched: my friend's husband complained there was "too much talking" and I did notice more of that the third time around, but the overall experience is great. I absolutely love the look of Godzilla here and the mayhem he causes... easily the best 'Zilla film this side of 2000 for me.
I liked it a lot, definitely one of the best Godzilla films out there for me. Also way better than the new USA attempts, which fell flat for me.
The only one I rated higher is Kitamura's Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), though I will admit it's been ages since I last saw that one.

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#30

Post by RedHawk10 » February 5th, 2020, 7:45 am

Tag (2015) [rewatch] - 10/10

A genuine, endless nightmare, and, worse yet, a reality. Still, there’s an immeasurable beauty in the thought of persistent and absolute camaraderie even in the worst of worlds. Extremely harrowing and emotional, and maybe Sono’s most perceptive and compassionate work.

Sono is straight up a Top 3 director of all time for me at this point. His work hits me like a truck, and he has an astounding sense of pacing.

Martin Eden (2019) - 7/10

Working towards an ideal, getting there and finding nothing ideal at all, finding yourself surrounded by people in an empty room. Marinelli perfectly captures the character. Thanks Letterboxd friends, wouldn't have even known this existed for a while without it.

Stray Dogs (2013) - 7/10

Tsai isn't quite the director for me, but this is still undeniably a very good film with several inexplicable and haunting sequences.

Meek's Cutoff [rewatch] - 7/10

Much, much better the second go around.

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#31

Post by RedHawk10 » February 5th, 2020, 7:51 am

@Oldale - first of all, great write ups! Wanted to add that I similarly find Chalamet a bit...unlikable(?)...in other roles, think he comes off to me generally like he takes himself super seriously, which is fine if you've got the talent to back it up, but I haven't been convinced with him. In any case, I thought he was spot on in Little Women, felt like a much more natural role for him, and he was surprisingly entertaining to watch.

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#32

Post by peeptoad » February 5th, 2020, 12:47 pm

RedHawk10 wrote:
February 5th, 2020, 7:45 am
Stray Dogs (2013) - 7/10

Tsai isn't quite the director for me, but this is still undeniably a very good film with several inexplicable and haunting sequences.
I coincidentally just picked up a used copy of this movie on dvd. Loved both The River and The Hole, but I haven't seen anything more recent than those from Tsai, so good (I guess) to hear it was decent, even from someone not normally a fan.

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RedHawk10
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#33

Post by RedHawk10 » February 6th, 2020, 5:53 pm

peeptoad wrote:
February 5th, 2020, 12:47 pm
RedHawk10 wrote:
February 5th, 2020, 7:45 am
Stray Dogs (2013) - 7/10

Tsai isn't quite the director for me, but this is still undeniably a very good film with several inexplicable and haunting sequences.
I coincidentally just picked up a used copy of this movie on dvd. Loved both The River and The Hole, but I haven't seen anything more recent than those from Tsai, so good (I guess) to hear it was decent, even from someone not normally a fan.
It's a big time example of "slow cinema", which I generally like, though know that a lot of people aren't a fan of. If you like that style of filmmaking and liked those other two, I bet you'll probably get into Stray Dogs. Enjoy!

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