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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 10, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 10, 2020

#1

Post by sol » March 8th, 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

I never thought I would utter the phrase "3 Idiots is the best film that I saw last week", but in a week filled with disappointments and pure drivel (Straub and Huillet), this surprisingly charming and hardly idiotic Indian comedy was just what I needed. :unsure:

History Lessons (1972). In between navigating traffic in modern Rome, a young historian listens to elderly scholars ramble on about Ancient Rome this experimental narrative. The contrasting of two views on Rome may sound fascinating, but the treatment here is incredibly uncinematic. The entire first ten minutes are just spent on the historian driving, and the next nine minutes are a scholar talking non-stop without looking at the camera nor the protagonist. What's more, the filmmakers quickly run out of cutaways and end up resorting to random cuts-to-black (!) until he suddenly pauses and sits still for over a minute around a third of the way in. The final two thirds of the movie do not improve on this initial clumsiness, and with all the ramblings coming off as articles read out loud, the film is never engaging enough to be really educational either. (first viewing, online) ★

Sleepwalk (1986). Told to not let an ancient Chinese manuscript that she translating out of her sight, a young woman is beset by increasingly bizarre occurrences when she leaves the text in her office in this strange and mysterious film. The film benefits from moody audio and visuals and there are some great bits that force us to question if what we are seeing is real or imagined (the title is Sleepwalk after all) with the best of these being a surreal elevator ride. The film never resolves what is going on though. Suzanne Fletcher constantly looks sleep-deprived throughout and she states very early on how she keeps seeing computer screen flashes while in bed, but her insomnia is present before the manuscript even arrives. The film is so daringly different though that it remains appealing if confusing, though the abrupt ending certainly leaves a bitter aftertaste. (first viewing, online) ★★

Turner & Hooch (1989). Believing that a murdered friend's aggressive dog is capable of identifying the killer, a well-groomed policeman with a spotless house finds his life turned upside down when he adopts the dog in this Tom Hanks comedy. The film has some solid moments towards the end as Hanks and the dog team up to take down the bad guys, but the entire first hour here is hit-and-miss humour with far more misses than hits. The dog predictably tearing up his entire home when he is away is especially lame and drawn out, and Hanks gradually bonding with the dog by chewing towels and dog treats with him is not half as endearing as it sounds. There is also a lifeless romance in the mix. As mentioned though, the cop/dog partnership stuff is really great (and the dog in question is certainly well trained) but it is never really the focus here. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★

Death Warrant (1990). Sent undercover to investigate a prison with an unusually high death count among inmates and staff, a kickboxing cop has to avoid being identified by criminals who he incarcerated while trying to solve the mystery in this very decent Jean-Claude Van Damme action film. The ins and outs of the conspiracy are very interesting and highly satirical when revealed; Patrick Kilpatrack is also excellent as a taunting serial killer with a grudge against JCVD. Alas, the film never really focuses on the conspiracy or Kilpatrick's character as elaborate fight scenes and lots and lots of kickboxing is at the forefront - plus a smidgen of poorly developed romance. Still, this is a generally gripping ride with lots of danger hanging in the air as to whether JCVD's cover will be blown and if he will become a stat in the suspiciously high mounting death count. (first viewing, online) ★★

Double Impact (1991). Separated at birth, two equally muscular identical twins team up to take down the men responsible for their parents' murder in this Jean-Claude Van Damme action film. While the film does not milk the premise for all that it is worth (there is little of them trying to confuse the baddies by appearing in two places at once etc), the film offers JCVD a meatier role than usual. While only a haircut distinguishes them physically, JCVD convincingly comes off as two entirely different persons. He also has amazing chemistry with himself - lots of witty banter and so on. The close combat action is pretty great too. The film often feels like a mere excuse for such action and stunts (plus of course the twins gimmick), but the whole thing is easy to warm to with JCVD clearly having a great time, plus the authentic Hong Kong locations are excellent. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Home for the Holidays (1995). Too scared to admit that she lost her job, a single mother nervously travels to her parents' house for thanksgiving in this dysfunctional family drama starring Holly Hunter. The film boasts some solid acting but never seems entirely sure what it wants to be. At its most intriguing, the movie concentrates on Hunter's gay brother, her parents' refusal to accept that he is queer and his other sister's outward disgust about it. This ultimately amounts to little more than a subplot though as focus keeps returning to Hunter and a shoehorned romance. The film is also beset by some clunky chapter divides (likely inherited from the source material) and while the film tries to make some important points about how loving even the most dysfunctional families can be, the overall film feels oddly more about Hunter learning to love again. (first viewing, online) ★

Analyze This (1999). Focusing on a notorious gangster who starts seeing a timid psychiatrist and refuses to leave him alone, Analyze This always feels like it should be a lot funnier than it actually is. Spoofing his Goodfellas and Godfather personae, Robert De Niro is expectedly great in the lead role, but the film often goes for easy laughs (De Niro's disgust over shrink Billy Crystal explaining the Oedipal complex) rather than milking the more elaborate comedic scenes for all they are worth. A running of gag of De Niro interrupting Crystal at all the most inopportune points grows tiresome too, especially Lisa Kudrow's increasing annoyance in a highly underwritten role. Things admittedly get quite funny in the final twenty minutes as Crystal is allowed to go all gangster, but this is an uneven film at best and only hilarious on the odd occasion. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Saroja (2000). Her mother killed by soldiers and her father incapacitated, a young girl traverses the jungles of Sri Lanka and befriends another girl of a different ethnic background, but whether the other girl's family will accept her hangs in the air in this captivating drama. As a message movie, this hardly very subtle with one adult even ruing the fact that in war "children must suffer for the stupidity of adults", but the bond that develops between the two girls across cultural divides always feels authentic and genuine. Both young actresses deliver well too in their scenes apart as they question why each other is meant to be 'the enemy'. It is interesting seeing all round the island country too, and while bits and pieces of the film feel melodramatic (loud music cues as the fathers both fire into the air), the film feels very human and down-to-earth overall. (first viewing, online) ★★★

3 Idiots (2009). Hoping to track down a college buddy who vanished without a trace after graduation, two best friends reminisce about the great times they shared together in this lively comedy from India. The film has gained a mixed reputation from its questionable inclusion in the IMDb Top 250, but it is actually a pretty terrific film viewed on its own terms. Some of the humour is a little juvenile (lots of flatulence gags) and the life messages about being who you want to be are a little obvious, however, the film also offers a great satire on education, teaching and studying versus real life skills. Aamir Khan is excellent too as the missing friend - constantly cool and collected and wise beyond his years. The film is also frequently funny (a "screwed" speech is particularly amusing) and the "all izz well" stuff grows increasingly endearing as the film progresses. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Third Star (2010). Dying from cancer and without long left, a young man convinces his friends to take him to a serene, isolated beach in this Welsh drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The film goes through the expected motions for a movie about such a subject with all of his friends expressing their regrets and fears along the way. Always a classy actor, Cumberbatch levels the film up a notch, especially as he does his best to convince his friends that he is not feeling as unwell as he clearly is. The film also benefits from the four main players all interacting well like the close friends that they are, joking about helping Cumberbatch urinate, etc. The script does, however, often dip into sentimentality, whereas a movie actually focused on the friends joking, carrying on and maintaining a stiff upper lip to mask their sorrow may have been more interesting. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Bookshop (2017). Unfazed by staunch opposition, a young widow persists in opening a book store in a small English town in this drama starring Emily Mortimer. Set near the seaside, the film boasts great natural vistas, but it is a struggle finding much about else positive to say. The storybook-style voice-over narration has a very distancing effect, the film is heavy on elongated pauses and silences while light on dialogue, and the magic that Mortimer finds in reading does not really translate to screen. Add in strange techniques, such as Bill Nighy reciting letters aloud on screen, plus Patricia Clarkson as a one-dimensional antagonist whose motivation seems to be pure evil, and the whole thing feels misguided. Honor Kneafsey has some very decent moments as a lonely child who Mortimer befriends, but she alone is certainly not a reason to give this a spin. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★

Logan Lucky (2017). Described by some as a redneck Ocean's film, this heist comedy from Steven Soderbergh follows a similar formula to his trilogy but with a NASCAR track rather than a casino targeted. The characters (and inevitably the cast) are quite different too, and while some of their interactions are solid, the chemistry of Brad Pitt and George Clooney is never present. There also is no charismatic antagonist, and while one of the protagonists has some resentment stored up, it is nothing compared to the Ocean's films, especially Thirteen, which were all about revenge. The movie is certainly slickly filmed as one would expect from Soderbergh and bits and pieces of the scheme are quite clever, but a character in the film even referring to the job as Ocean's 7-Eleven only serves as a reminder of the trilogy's superiority. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Equalizer 2 (2018). Now working as a humble taxi driver, the vigilante from The Equalizer spends his time helping various folks in trouble until his own life is threatened in this follow-up film. Denzel Washington once again does well remaining calm and collected throughout and there are also some nifty bits once again in which his impeccable timing helps him to outwit his foes. The sequel is, however, weighed down by a formulaic surrogate son character and a rather ridiculous climax set during an over-the-top storm with obvious metaphorical significance. The film has some really good small, quiet bits and pieces though; Washington trying to reenact a reported murder/suicide, even sticking his finger in his mouth as a gun, is a real highlight - and on the action front, an attack from the backseat of his moving vehicle is very well filmed. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Too Late to Die Young (2018). Set in rural Chile circa 1990, this coming-of-age drama looks at various adults, teenagers and children who live at some sort of commune. The tale apparently has metaphorical significance for the political situation in the country at the time, but entering the film unaware of such context, it is difficult to digest. There seems to be a few issues with some of the teenagers wanting to leave the commune and a spate of robberies in the area, but the adult characters are too dull and interchangeable to care about and the teenagers are not much better developed. Where the film really comes alive is when it focuses on the kids - one dog-loving girl in particular. She is rarely in focus though and while the interactions between the preteen kids feel very authentic, the movie only ever places them at the periphery of the events around them. (first viewing, online) ★

Uncut Gems (2019). Controlling his chronic gambling grows increasingly difficult for a debt-ridden New York jeweler in this anxiety fueled drama starring a cast-against-type Adam Sandler. While the visuals are not as strong as in Good Time from the same directing team, the film once again has a dynamite score from Daniel Lopatin that perfectly captures every heightened emotion, with chimes even used to excellent effect. This is not an easy film to warm to though since Sandler's protagonist is such a dislikeable and selfish human being; Sandler is solid during his more vulnerable moments, but it always feels like he brings all his misery upon himself. The film also follows an 'everything that can go wrong does go wrong' formula that tires before long, but this does admittedly have its potent moments as a tale of debilitating debt and addiction. (first viewing, online) ★★

Honey Boy (2019). Based closely on his own abusive childhood, this drama written by Shia LaBeouf tells of an alcoholic actor reflecting on his relationship with his father in rehab. There are several potent bits at first, but things quickly turn into a repetitive catalogue of emotional, verbal and physical abuse. The point that the film ultimately reaches (his final lines with his father) is great, but it is numbing to sit through 90 minutes of repeated abuse in the lead-up. The random memory structure of the narrative is also a bit unhelpful, offering limited chances to show character growth (there is no progression; his father is equally as abusive throughout). LaBeouf is really solid though, effectively playing his own father here, and Noah Jupe as his 12-year-old self is great, but the film's genesis as self-therapy is more intriguing than the father/son relationship. (first viewing, cinema) ★★

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The Balloon (1956). Made in the same year as his lusciously photographed Suzaki Paradise: Red Light, this Yuzo Kawashima film is an inevitable disappointment, shot without half of the artistry of Suzaki and featuring even more pronounced melodrama. Amidst all this, Masayuki Mori is actually very solid as the patriarch of the family at the centre of the film, yet this is not really about him, or his struggle to reconcile his traditional values with a changing world around him, since the film keeps going off on tangents with less interesting side characters, including a philandering son. The film does manage to address some very serious issues, from attempted suicide to whether men and women should be equally blamed for infidelity, but with everyone so dull outside of Mori, this is no more engaging than Kawashima's listless Till We Meet Again. (first viewing, online) ★

Terminal Island (1973). Curious as a precursor to Escape from New York, this film benefits from an intriguing notion of murderers permanently relocated to an island when the death penalty is outlawed in the US. The movie does not really capitalise on the satirical potential of the premise though, with the film quickly descending into a female empowerment tale with a new arrival encouraging the other women to rebel against the men who keep them subjugated for sexual gratification. This leads to some strong moments in which they seduce men to lure them into traps, but then again, the movie is not really about this. There is also a lot of mindless action, especially towards the end, and with a number of men ultimately banding with, supporting and fighting for the women, this is hardly a tale of women standing up and fending for themselves either. (first viewing, online) ★

The Dion Brothers (1974). Also known as The Gravy Train, this crime caper focuses on the aftermath of an armored car robbery planned by two brothers with too much trust in their colleagues. The robbery is exciting and well executed and there is much tension to the brothers sneaking out of their apartment disguised as cops after they are betrayed. The duo going on the lam while trying to track down their treacherous colleagues is far less interesting though. Margot Kidder tries to add some spunk, but her gradually complicit hostage-like character is poorly developed. There is some kooky comedy (threatening one man with a crayfish) but it is very limited as the aftermath stretch of the film falls into a series of messy action sequences as opposed to the endearing buddy-buddy comedy stuff between the two brothers in the lead-up to their felony. (first viewing, online) ★★
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#2

Post by peeptoad » March 8th, 2020, 12:44 pm

Hi sol, I haven't seen any of your views again this week. Thought I had seen Analyze This, and I may have, but no memory of it and it's not rated...
… I just woke up and the time change is already getting to me.. need some coffee. :sleeping:

mine-
*rewatch
Wonder Woman (2017) 8
Monster (2003) 7*
Tropa de Elite (2007) Elite Squad 8
Polytechnique (2009) 6
Vice Squad (1982) 8*
Into the Forest (Patricia Rozema, 2015) 5
Kiss the Girls (1997) 7
Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seidelman, 1985) 9*
Spenser Confidential (2020) 4
Krótki film o zabijaniu(1988) A Short Film About Killing 9

Wonder Woman was a bit better than I anticipated it to be. I was expecting to like it more than the average superhero movie (which I don't usually like), but it was a hair better than that as well. And watching that caused me to rewatch Monster, which I hadn't seen since its release. Tropa de Elite was quite good; saw that because I liked Bus 174. Watched Krótki film o zabijaniu last night when I got home... fantastic. It was exactly what I was hoping for (and coming on the heels of a poorer view in the Marky Mark flick that preceded it).

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#3

Post by Onderhond » March 8th, 2020, 12:55 pm

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Lots of good films this week, few bad ones, no terrible ones. At least, when I'm not counting the absolutely terrible shorts I've been watching. Went through the Cartoons list and going through Annecy right now, but maybe I'm not such a big animation fan as I initially thought.


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01. 4.5* - Children of the Sea [Kaijû no Kodomo] by Ayumu Watanabe
Amazing fantasy anime that shows why Studio 4°C is still the greatest animation studio in the world. The art style and animation are absolutely insane, the craft and creativity is unparalleled and the finale is grotesque, in the best sense of the world. A truly wonderful film that every animation fan should watch.

02. 3.5* - Fagara [Hua Jiao Zhi Wei] by Heiward Mak
Mak returns with a stylish drama, claiming her seat as prime Hong Kong drama director. The film knows some thoroughly impressive moments, but overall the theme didn't quite appeal to me enough to make me fully invested in the characters. Mak's talent is unmistakable though and Fagara is a worthy addition to her oeuvre.

03. 3.5* - Five Minutes to Tomorrow [Mayonaka no Gofun Mae] by Isao Yukisada
Solid Pan-Asian romance that turns mystery halfway through. Yukisada is a great director and aces both genres, but the combination is somehow less than the sum of its parts. The two parts never quite gel together and I would've preferred it if the film had stuck to the romance. Still, there's plenty to like here, so well recommended for fans of Yukisada's work.

04. 3.5* - Cemetery Junction by Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
A social drama with the necessary laughs. Not quite the film you'd expect Gervais and Merchant to make, but the many cameos make it clear this is very much part of their universe. Well acted, funny and light-hearted, but also poignant and emotional in the right places. A nice film, not outstanding, but more than solid filler.

05. 3.5* - A Record of Sweet Murder [Aru Yasashiki Satsujinsha no Kiroku] by Koji Shiraishi
Interesting film, about a reporter visiting an old friend who is on the run from the authorities. A nifty handheld thriller, with a nice twist and some minor horror elements. Well acted, intriguing from start to finish and sporting a very rewarding finale. One of the better Shiraishi films I've seen.

06. 3.0* - Warriors of the Nation [Huang Fei Hong: Nu Ha Xiong Feng] by Marco Mak
A classic Wong Fei-hung narrative, sporting evil Japanese henchmen, corrupt Chinese officials and some serious ass-kicking by Wong Fei-hung and his apprentices. The execution is decent and it was fun to watch a simple martial arts film like this again, but it's hardly best in class and it's far from the most memorable Wong Fei-hung film out there.

07. 3.0* - Shall We Dance? [Shall We Dansu?] by Masayuki Suo
Well-made romantic comedy that has few weak points, but is just a little too long. The actors do a solid job, director Suo has everything under control and the film hits its emotional beats, it's just that the runtime is a little excessive. It's not the greatest film in the world, but it's a very fun and accessible film.

08. 3.0* - Finale in Blood [Da Nao Guang Chang Long] by Fruit Chan
A very capable early Fruit Chan film, that doesn't deliver on its horror premise (on par for most mainstream HK horror), but at least serves up a decent story. Chan's direction is also well above average and while the actors aren't quite perfect, they do a good enough job. Not an ultimate classic, but Chan's talent is already on display here.

09. 3.0* - Cruel Peter by Christian Bisceglia, Ascanio Malgarini
A typical contemporary Italian horror flick. The cinematography is very promising, but the editing feels forced and the use of English-speaking actors is a little awkward. Cruel Peter is a capable horror film with some memorable moments and decent scares, but it's also somewhat rough around the edges. Worth a try though.

10. 2.5* - Scare Campaign by Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes
The film tries a little too hard to come up with twists that you see coming a mile away. It ruins the scares and it kills the atmosphere, which is a shame because there's some real potential here. With a slightly better cast and less focus on some dumb reveals, this could've been a pretty solid horror flick. Not terrible though.

11. 2.0* - BraveStorm by Junya Okabe
Rather cheesy and just a little too cheap, but if you can get past the poor special effects and the over-the-top acting there's an amusing film hiding underneath. It's quite hard to recommend this one, but if you're in for a solid dose of camp then you won't be disappointed. Not great, but somewhat amusing when you're in the mood for this kind of thing.

12. 2.0* - Bless This House [Meng Gui Fo Tiao Qiang] by Ronny Yu
Silly horror comedy that's mostly just comedy. None of the scares are scary and the acting is so over the top that it's hard to believe anybody would be creeped out by this film. It's somewhat amusing and short, which makes it an easy watch, but it's not very memorable and not even close to Yu's best work.

13. 2.0* - The Close Encounters of Vampire [Jiang Shi Pa Pa] by Woo-ping Yuen
Woo-ping Yuen tried to cash on the vampire hype, but his attempt feels flimsy and rushed. Some mediocre martial arts, extremely over-the-top performances and loud comedy make this a forgettable affair. The fast pacing and some random weirdness kept me watching, but this is easily one of Yuen's worst films.

14. 1.5* - All That Jazz by Bob Fosse
Energetic and frantic, but also a little drab and grim. Too 70s to be a successful musical, not quite stylish enough to be the trippy and existential movie it fancied to be. The result feels muddled and forced, but at least the pacing made sure it never really dragged. That at least is something for a 2-hour film.

15. 1.5* - Promising Miss Bowie [Zhu Fu] by Yonfan
A rather lifeless and ill-conceived romance. The drama has no impact, the actors can't bring their characters to life and the direction feels overdone. Yonfan had a rather rough start, this film is simply more proof of that. I guess one might appreciate the attempt to do more serious drama in Hong Kong, but the film itself is pretty dull.

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#4

Post by sol » March 8th, 2020, 1:47 pm

peeps:

Analyze This is pretty forgettable so that's not a surprising observation. I cannot really imagine the film appealing to anyone other than De Niro diehard fans since the film props itself up so much on De Niro spoofing himself. Crystal and Kudrow by comparison have very little to do.

I don't know what else I would recommend beyond my mere two ★★★ viewings this week, and neither of them really strike me as peepish films. Saroja is pretty good though if you're participating in the Indian Subcontinent Challenge and want to see something not from India. A children in war film. Otherwise, there is Sleepwalk, which crosses some borderline horror/fantasy territory (blurred reality; a possible curse) but not the most satisfying watch out there. Logan Lucky was also pretty decent but I cannot help but mentally weigh it up against the superior Ocean's trilogy.

Yours:

Liked Monster the most of your viewing this week. Great turns by both Theron and Ricci. Elite Squad didn't do much for me when I watched it for last year's Latin American Challenge. I have seen Desperately Seeking Susan a couple of times and isn't really for me. Much prefer She-Devil. I don't know if I have ever seen the long version of the Short Film About Killing short, but I did watch the entire Dekalog back in the day on VHS tapes borrowed from my university library. Probably deserves a rewatch at some point now that I own the whole thing on Artificial Eye release DVDs.
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#5

Post by Coryn » March 8th, 2020, 3:17 pm

@Sol: I've seen Analyze This (1999) this week as well so will elaborate under here.

@peeptoad: Krótki film o zabijaniu (1988) is the only film from Kieslowski I couldn't seem to get in to. Can't remember too much from it either.

For myself this week:

Analyze this (1999) 6,5/10
Was nice to see the references and had some small laughs but that's it. Won't be searching for the followup called Analyze That although I'll watch it if it would be on tv for example on a sunday afternoon.

The Miracle Worker (1962) 6/10
Good performances but I'm astonished by the score this got on IMDB (8,1). Nothing really happens and it's forgettable.

Moana (2016) 6,5/10
Average Disney movie

The House of the Devil (2009) 6/10
Nice throwback for lovers of the slasher genre, build-up was really good but the end was a bit of a let-off.

Monos (2019) 7,5/10
This came very close to an 8 or even a 9 out of 10 but the ending was so unsatisfying to me. The cinematography is up there with the absolute best, no doubt I'd revisit this movie if it airs on the big screen.

Brooklyn (2015) 7/10
Ronan is absolutely adorable and I see a bright future for her.

Unbreakable (2000) 6/10

Martha (1974) 7/10
I'm almost ashamed to admit that this was actually my first Fassbinder. For some reason I never got to watch any of his movies but I'm happy to know that this is only his 12th most favorited movie on icm. Sublime performance by Martha as she really got into my head.

Holiday (2018) 4/10
Absolute dogshit

Clueless (1995) 6,5/10
Was fun
I saved Latin, what did you ever do ?

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#6

Post by sol » March 8th, 2020, 3:51 pm

Coryn:

That's a pretty generous take on Analyze This, but I guess I might have found it funnier had I seen the Godfather films and Goodfellas more recently. As it is, the parts with Crystal going gangster were all that had me laughing out loud. And Lisa Kudrow can be so funny, but not with what little she had to work with.

Unbreakable is my favourite of your viewing this week. That scene towards (at?) the end where he points to the paper and looks at his son, without words needing to convey anything - all the emotion in it, I really felt that. It is probably also the most moody and atmospheric Shyamalan film to date (amazing James Newton Howard score) and I would certainly rate it far stronger than Analyze This. I do admit though that I am very partial to films like Unbreakable that focus on individuals trying to finding meaning and purpose in the world. And the film only gets more dynamic upon revision knowing the twists and turns to come.

Brooklyn was probably my least favourite of your viewing this week, but I have never been particularly big on Ronan myself, so that probably doesn't help. Of the rest, I agree about Clueless being fun. Alicia Silverstone really shines in the lead role. I don't remember a lot of The Miracle Worker outside of the performances. I gave it a positive score at the time, but it is only #48 in my 1962 list, so yeah, agree about the IMDb rating I guess.
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#7

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » March 8th, 2020, 6:08 pm

Lydia Lunch: Video Hysterie - 1978-2006 (2008) 6/10

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019) 6+/10

Les années lumière / Light Years Away (Alain Tanner, 1981) 6/10
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Umfeld (Scott Pagano, 2007) 6/10

Aquarela (Viktor Kosakovskiy/Victor Kossakovsky, 2018) 4/10

Monterey Pop (D.A. Pennebaker, 1968) 7/10
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열녀문 / Bound by Chastity Rules / The Memorial Gate for Virtuous Women / Yeolnyeomun (신상옥/Shin Sang-ok), 1962) 2+/10

دوچرخه سوار / The Cyclist / Bicycleran (محسن مخملباف/Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1989) 7/10

Savršeni krug / The Perfect Circle (Ademir Kenović, 1997) 6/10

Het oog boven de put / The Eye Above the Well (Johan van der Keuken, 1988) 6/10
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Przypadek / Blind Chance (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1987) 4/10

Az ötödik pecsét / The Fifth Seal (Zoltán Fábri, 1976) 6-/10

カーネルパニック / Colonel Panics (or "Kernel Panics"?) (Cho Jinseok, 2016) 9-/10

パプリカ / Paprika / Papurika (今敏/Satoshi Kon, 2006) (3rd viewing) k
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shorts

Il caso Valdemar / The Case of Valdemar (Gianni Hoepli & Ubaldo Magnaghi, 1936) (2 viewings) 7-/10

Roulement, rouerie, aubage (Rose Lowder, 1978) 3/10

At the Mountains of Madness (Ethan Miller, 2016) 3/10

Experiment 17 (Christian Matzke, 2005) 2/10

Escape from Midwich Valley (P.H. Debiès, 2014) 3/10

The Other Gods (Peter Rhodes, 2006) 2/10

What Did Jack Do? (David Lynch, 2020, 2016, 2017) (2nd viewing) 7/10


RiffTrax & MST3k

All Right Here at Your Fingertips! / The Kids' Guide to the Internet (Philip Earl, 1997) 3/10


music videos

Grimes: Idoru (Slightly Longer Version) (2020)
Grimes: We Appreciate Power (Lyric Video) (2018) ==
Grimes: Oblivion (rewatch) ++


series

Curb Your Enthusiasm - S10E07 - "The Ugly Section" (2020) 6/10


didn't finish

Trading Places (John Landis, 1983) [many min]
Cocote (Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias, 2017) [26 min]
Fräulein Else / Miss Else (Paul Czinner, 1929) [18 min]
Hiso hiso boshi / The Whispering Star (Sion Sono, 2015) [12 min]
Die letzte Chance / The Last Chance (Leopold Lindtberg, 1945) [10 min]
History of the Entire World, I Guess (Bill Wurtz, 2017) [1 min]


notable online media

top:
Why I'm Angry. | Russell Brand
Chinese Poem: "Thinking on a Quiet Night" 靜夜思 | Learn Chinese Now
Yoyoka Improvisation Drum Collection #3 / よよかのきまぐれドラム集 3
rest:
TAOISM | How to Get Drunk on Life
Girls Just Want to Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper / Cover by Yoyoka, 10 year old
Taking It One Day at a Time [by The School of Life]
Street Photographer Captures the Humanity of Los Angeles's Skid Row
Beschte deutsche memes #13
Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound Of Silence (Animal Cover)
Norm Macdonald and Rodney Dangerfield Wife Jokes
Masaaki Yuasa und seine virtuose Anime-Welt | Arte TRACKS
The Last Video Store | a documentary on the World's oldest VHS & DVD rental store
Thank you! From My Past Selves
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mightysparks
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#8

Post by mightysparks » March 9th, 2020, 10:09 am

I forgot how exhausting uni was and didn't watch anything for 2 weeks, but my brain is starting to function again... Three of the below films had forced blowjobs and I'm not sure why this is a common theme these days lol.

Holiday (2018) 6/10
Although I felt this never really totally came together, it was an interesting film. The cinematography and use of colour was quite beautiful, and I thought the use of the distant, lingering camera was quite effective. The main character was confusing and though I liked that she was just kind of shown doing her thing (often in the background or blending into the background, rather than being the central focus) and not trying to explain her, at the same time I was left feeling too disconnected from her. The rape scene was pretty gross and confronting.

Little Joe (2019) 6/10
In a lot of ways this felt similar to the previously watched Holiday with the distant, lingering camera and use of colour (albeit, in a different way). The camera often slowly zooms in past the characters as they're talking and there's always a sense of something invisibly sinister. I really liked the concept of the happy plant and its 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' type of story, and the use of sound and music was quite interesting. I didn't feel it really dealt with its 'mother/child bond' theme enough, and it made a lot of the character motivations not seem believable. The changes in the characters are quite subtle, but some of the characters weren't really developed enough. The exposition dump by Bella's character was also kind of unnecessary and the film was a lot better when it was subtle and relied on its visual storytelling, and it should've cut a lot of dialogue.

The Russian Bride (2019) 5/10
I don't go into a Corben Bernsen film expecting a masterpiece, and the low budget look and feel of this film is pretty off-putting from the start. Bernsen is mostly convincing as a creepy and not-very-nice old man; helped significantly by the robe dropping scene. Nina and Dasha are decently likable, though their performances are hit and miss. The dialogue is pretty generic and the plot is pretty tired and overdone, plus it's just not very interesting and it doesn't build tension well. The revelations and outbursts in the last third of the film are mostly laughable, though Nina's rage and coke-filled revenge was kind of satisfying.

Tiempo compartido (2018) 5/10
There's a really nice underlying tension throughout this film which keeps you pretty hooked, but the ending and lack of a climax is immensely disappointing. The initial set-up of the double-booked room is ridiculously aggravating and it immediately builds sympathy for the lead character and a hatred and distrust for the other family; as well as all the actors giving fairly good performances. But all the other characters are too vague; particularly his wife, who is just pretty much completely unlikable in her ignorance. The company in charge of the timeshares, and its workers, are built up pretty well and there's always a sense of something more going on but it totally wastes all of the time spent investing in these people by the end.

Blue My Mind (2017) 5/10
Quite a dull and generic coming of age female story. I get annoyed by films like this because they are completely foreign to my own 'female' experience and this was no different in failing to convince me of this girl's experience or build any sympathy. She makes a ton of stupid decisions (lashing out against parents, making friends with the extremely boring and lame 'cool' kids, trying to have sex with everyone) and everything is blamed on 'puberty' (puberty was not that big of a deal, c'mon). If I hadn't gone into this knowing it was a mermaid film, I wouldn't have stuck around and the mermaid aspects are pretty diluted. It almost becomes a body horror at times, but doesn't seem confident enough to go that far, but it also never really gets into any real depth about Mia's state of mind.

Bacurau (2019) 6/10
My rating for this is a little generous, but I felt it was somewhat well-crafted with some interesting ideas and moments even if it never engaged with me too strongly. It starts off slow, but once the tourists arrive things start picking up. The blood baths and 'action' are quite entertaining, but the 'tourists' are kind of lazily developed villains and just portrayed as generic, white, rich American's. There is no real main character and the film shifts its focus from a leading lady at the beginning to some random ex-gangster guy, they have no real depth to them either. It's easier to side with them, but it's not so easy to care.

I am Jane Doe (2017) 6/10
I was expecting this to be more focused on the experiences of the sex-trafficking victims so I felt a bit let down when it turned out to be focusing more on a Craigslist style website that was facilitating the sex-trafficking. At times it felt a little too emotionally manipulative, particularly as I really disliked the narrator's condescending voice and hated it every time she spoke. It was interesting, and frustrating, to see Backpage continually win cases due to ignorance and a seeming unwillingness to look at the sex-trafficking of children (and rather focusing on 'but old men want to be seen with young women'). Though I agree to a point with the law they were using to get away with it, it was another example of vague law that is put in place to help perpetrators get away with doing bad things and it really needs to be reconsidered.

Daniel Isn't Real (2019) 6/10
Ok, but pretty shallow and mostly predictable take on the mentally unstable/invisible friend 'subgenre'. It does end up going in an interesting supernatural direction later on, but never really fully explores this idea. Daniel, as well, is kind of interesting to watch and Patrick Schwarzeneggar is quite charismatic. Luke is kind of a dull character, and we never really get to know him well enough aside from a few stereotyped traits of a troubled loner, though Miles Robbins' performance is ok. Some of the effects are impressive, Daniel and Luke merging into one and the clay face thing were pretty cool. The female characters aren't given much to do aside from being a love interest. There's nothing really terrible about the film, it's just.. ok.
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mightysparks
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#9

Post by mightysparks » March 9th, 2020, 10:13 am

@sol;

3 Idiots (2009) 4/10 - that you liked this more than Uncut Gems makes me question your sanity :P
Uncut Gems (2019) 8/10 - this was just a non-stop rollercoaster for me

@Onderhond;

Cemetery Junction 7/10 - yea, pretty much agree
Scare Campaign 6/10 - pretty much in agreement here too. I liked the idea (despite it being predictable) but felt it ended right when it was beginning
All That Jazz 7/10 - don't remember this much, but I remember finding it pretty gripping despite not really being my kind of thing
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#10

Post by Onderhond » March 9th, 2020, 10:39 am

@sol:
Didn't see much from yours again, clearly we're on very separate tracks lately. I did see Logan Lucky (3.5*) and Equalizer 2 (3.0*), two films I've seem to like a bit more than you do, but don't really feel compelled to defend. Also seen Uncut Gems (2.0*), which I didn't like as much. The more I read about it, the more I think the score is the big culprit. It seems to agitate most people, but I didn't find it very effective.

@mightysparks:
Seen I am Jane Doe (0.5*), the kind of doc I really hate. Very one-dimensional and emotionally manipulative. A common problem for many modern docs, which feel more like propaganda for the director's ideas. Daniel Isn't Real (3.5*) I liked a bit better than you, but it felt like it didn't use its full potential.

@Perception de Ambiguity:
Happy to see you liked Colonel Panics! (4.5*). Hopefully they won't ban your submissions from our polls anymore, so the films get an extra push :p

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#11

Post by sol » March 9th, 2020, 12:00 pm

mightysparks wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 10:13 am
@sol;

3 Idiots (2009) 4/10 - that you liked this more than Uncut Gems makes me question your sanity :P
Uncut Gems (2019) 8/10 - this was just a non-stop rollercoaster for me
Don't worry; I feel the same way about your sanity. ;) The choice for me is easy: charming comedy with a very likeable central character versus overlong thriller with dislikeable characters all round. The more I think about it, the more I absolutely hated Adam Sandler's character in Uncut Gems, and thriller pacing or not, I just couldn't get over this barrier when it came to appreciating the movie.

Yours:

Seen none. Little Joe really needs a legit release down here; I have been intrigued by this one ever since it came to my attention with its Cannes win.

Oh, and on a semi off-topic point, I nipped into Leederville IGA before watching Honey Boy on Saturday and they still have toilet paper. Quite a lot. Single roles only and a limit of two per customer, but it's first place that I have seen to actually have any stock at all since this time last week.
Onderhond wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 10:39 am
@sol:
Didn't see much from yours again, clearly we're on very separate tracks lately. I did see Logan Lucky (3.5*) and Equalizer 2 (3.0*), two films I've seem to like a bit more than you do, but don't really feel compelled to defend. Also seen Uncut Gems (2.0*), which I didn't like as much. The more I read about it, the more I think the score is the big culprit. It seems to agitate most people, but I didn't find it very effective.
Huh, that is odd because the music was the one thing that I thought really worked in Uncut Gems. The characters and visuals are so blah compared to Good Time, but I liked the music just as much, if not more so.

The Equalizer 2 was certainly quite okay as far as sequels go. Some decent set pieces, but the surrogate son stuff was way less engaging that Denzel defending Chloe Grace Mortez's honour in the original.

Yours:

Only seen All That Jazz, which of course I liked more than you - though I actually agree that it could have been better by being trippier. Seem to recall the film growing more interesting as it progressed.
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#12

Post by peeptoad » March 9th, 2020, 12:14 pm

sol wrote:
March 8th, 2020, 1:47 pm
I don't know if I have ever seen the long version of the Short Film About Killing short, but I did watch the entire Dekalog back in the day on VHS tapes borrowed from my university library. Probably deserves a rewatch at some point now that I own the whole thing on Artificial Eye release DVDs.
I still need to see Dekalog... maybe for the next (or the one after next) EE challenge.

A Short Film About Killing reminded me, in some aspects, of Angst (83), which is one of my favorites of all time. Stylistically, it's different, but some of the general content overlaps and the short and simple (but really not so simple) question posed in the film was backed up nicely by the events that occurred in the film as well as the emotion (or lack thereof) displayed by the main character at varying points...
Coryn wrote:
March 8th, 2020, 3:17 pm
@peeptoad: Krótki film o zabijaniu (1988) is the only film from Kieslowski I couldn't seem to get in to. Can't remember too much from it either.
...see above for Kieslowski (this was my first of his and I will see many more of his works based on my viewing of this one).

Of yours the 2 best are House of the Devil: that one is far and away the best from Ti West, imho, and the retro vibe he got down pretty well, complete with decent era-music, etc. The ending was a good gut crunch, though very easily forecasted.
...and Unbreakable, which I rated higher than you (8) but it's my favorite from M Knight.

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#13

Post by Onderhond » March 9th, 2020, 12:44 pm

sol wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 12:00 pm
]Huh, that is odd because the music was the one thing that I thought really worked in Uncut Gems. The characters and visuals are so blah compared to Good Time, but I liked the music just as much, if not more so.
I still need to see Good Time, I only watched Uncut Gems because it was on Netflix. Maybe it's because I'm used to listening to music that is a bit more "intense" already (ie, which drives other people completely mad) that the Uncut Gems score didn't really do it for me? It just didn't put me on edge the way it was supposed to.
sol wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 12:00 pm
Only seen All That Jazz, which of course I liked more than you - though I actually agree that it could have been better by being trippier. Seem to recall the film growing more interesting as it progressed.
I generally don't take well to movies about "the tough life of artistic types", it often feels like a misplaced pat on the back. It's as if Bill Gates would make a documentary on how hard it is to live with so much money :)

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#14

Post by mightysparks » March 9th, 2020, 1:26 pm

I didn’t think the Uncut Gems score was intense. It was sorta pulsating, but I found it to be sort of soft synth.

@sol, I haven’t seen toilet paper since I lucked out on my 20 pack before it got too bad. My local Coles has a limit of 1 per person but no TP or tissues to be seen. Baked beans are a rare sight too which sucks because my favourite meal ever needs them :(
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#15

Post by OldAle1 » March 9th, 2020, 3:41 pm

This Film ROCKS
This Film SUCKS

Talaash (Reema Kagti, 2012)

I don't think Aamir Khan cracks a smile once in this film. He's a stern, committed, no-nonsense cop investigating the suspicious accident - or suicide - or murder of famous actor Armaan Kapoor (Vivian Bhatena) who crashed his car into the sea while driving alone late at night in an area that wasn't near his home or movie set. And he's also struggling with his own demons, particularly the drowning death of his young son and the distancing it's causing with his wife (Rani Mukerjee). But when he meets a beautiful hooker (Kareena Kapoor) who seems to have some of the keys to what happened on the night of Kapoor's death, clues start to fall into place while danger increases. This is a decent mystery-crime film with some excitement to it that isn't too derailed by inappropriate music or excessive sentiment - though they are there and do slow it down somewhat - but I'm not sure that the similarity of one major plot point to a similar element in
SpoilerShow
The Sixth Sense
really works in the end. Anyway overall enjoyable enough and I really liked Mukerjee, have to look for her in more stuff.

Siesta (Mary Lambert, 1987) (re-watch)

Only dim memories of this - I'm pretty sure I saw it not long after it came out on VHS, or perhaps after Sea of Love made star Ellen Barkin a household name for a little while. I remember hating it at the time and my IMDb rating of it was 2 - and being a generous guy, I don't have a lot of ratings that low. But I didn't remember much besides Barkin, naked or in a red dress. And I didn't actually remember that the director was a woman, though when I saw her name I thought for some reason of David Lynch, with whom she doesn't seem to have any association. Strange how the mind works, because the film when you watch it does seem if not Lynchian than in the same sphere of noir-surrealism-dream that he has often inhabited - and the fact that Isabella Rossellini plays a major role here, the year after Blue Velvet, also adds to the feeling. At any rate Barkin wakes up in a dirty, torn red dress at an air field in Spain - when she's supposed to be in southern California (or Nevada, Arizona - somewhere in the southwest, I don't remember and it's not important) preparing for a skydiving stunt with her husband Martin Sheen. She tries to recover her memories of the last couple of days and earlier memories flood in also as she reconstructs an affair with Gabriel Byrne (Barkin's husband) and comes to believe that she has committed a murder - there was blood all over that bright red dress. At the end we do find out that in fact she was involved in a crime but
SpoilerShow
the victim was herself, killed by Rossellini in a jealous rage, and we have been watching a ghost's memories the whole time. So this is the second film in a row I watched all-unknowing that mirrors the central plot element of The Sixth Sense. Weird huh?
This isn't deserving of that 2 rating but I understand why I felt that way - it's a mess, often verging toward narrative incoherence, and in this case - unlike in the case of Lynch or for that matter Norman Mailer with his Tough Guys Don't Dance another erotic-noir with Rossellini from the same period - it's hard to tell whether it's intended, and it doesn't add up to making the film that compelling, though it's not entirely uninteresting either and it's nicely shot and boasts a pretty interesting cast. The payoff just seems lame here, unfortunately.

Hero and the Terror (William Tannen, 1988)

Another masterpiece from the greatest film studio in the world

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Slowly moving towards completing Chuck Norris' filmography - at least from his "peak" period, the 1970s-80s (am I really ever going to watch Top Dog or Forest Warrior? Don't answer that); I only have the Missing in Action sequels and Breaker Breaker left. Most - maybe all - Norris films fall into one of two categories: tolerable to decent films that had good scripts and competent directors, and garbage films that had neither. A corollary is that if Chuck or his brother Aaron had more obvious control over the film, the quality will certainly be less - Lone Wolf McQuade being a slight exception. This alas is in the shit category along with 80% of Chuckie's filmography, though it has a better cast than usual - Chuck's partner (he's a cop of course, the "hero") is Steve James, the bad guy ("the terror") is Jack O'Halloran of Superman fame (and not RIchard Kiel who he looks an awful lot like in some scenes) and Ron O'Neal is the mayor and Billy Drago is on hand as a rather weird psychiatrist. And it's not such a bad story as cops-n-bad-guys stories go - the terror, a nutcase who kills just for fun, has escaped prison and seeming death and is probably holed up somewhere, and our hero has to get him; the possibilities for fun within a huge old Art Deco movie theater are there, but they just aren't utilized in any interesting way and it all ends up dull and predictable without even much in the way of good fight sequences.

Little Women (Mervyn LeRoy, 1949)

Finally showed up through my library system - good to know, I guess, that I'm not the only person in Wisconsin who gets old movies out of the library, and who has in particular been interested in the older versions of this story. Well, how does this compare? I"ll make it brief - it is, as I suspected it would be, the weakest version of the story among the four American theatrical features of the sound era (hmm, wonder if any of the silents are available? something to check out soon), thanks mostly to June Allyson's rather unsuccessful attempt to copy Katharine Hepburn's Jo from the 1933 version. While she has Jo's athleticism and tomboyishness down, she doesn't offer much in the way of intellectual fire or passion, and LeRoy's competent but stolid direction and a mishmash screenplay don't help matters much. The other three girls are more successful in one way or another and it's easy to see why they got the parts - Elizabeth Taylor (Amy) and Margaret O'Brien (Beth) were two of the biggest child stars of the 40s and while they have to change the ages around because of their ages (17 and 12) they both work pretty well. I've never been the most enormous Taylor fan nor thought she was the MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN ever but as a teenager she was quite pretty and her impetuosity is right-on here, while O'Brien is properly sad and doomed throughout. Janet Leigh works reasonably well as Meg though it's sometimes obvious that she's actually much younger than Allyson. One of the real problems here is that the Marches never really seem poor - there is so much MGM Technicolor gloss here that it really does detract from the feeling of edginess - both oncoming poverty and a major war - that ought to imbue the story; another issue is that some of the central conflicts are really muted - Amy never destroy's Jo's book here and Jo never saves her from falling through the ice, so there just isn't as much drama, it's all very "nice". Still it's handsome to look at for sure and I also liked Rosanno Brazzi's Prof. Bhaer quite a bit, and it's hard to beat C. Aubrey Smith for Mr. Laurence.

Prem Sanyas / The Light of Asia (Franz Osten/Himanshu Rai, 1925)
Shiraz (Franz Osten, 1928)
Acchut Kanya / Untouchable Girl (Franz Osten, 1936)

The first two of these form, along with the somewhat better-known Pranacha Pash / Roll of the Dice (1929) a loose late-silent trilogy on historical themes. The German Osten trained in his native country and made a couple dozen films there before embarking on an extended stay in India, and probably had better training and more resources at his disposal than any native filmmakers and the time, so these are not surprisingly some fairly sumptuous productions, particularly the first two with their grand palace settings.

Prem Sanyas is a fanciful biography of Gautama, the Buddha (co-director and producer Rai, also an important figure in early Indian cinema) and his wife and (according to the film) first disciple Gopa (Seeta Devi, only 12 or 13 when this was made but looking a little older). The wealthy prince Gautama cares only for the beautiful Gopa, and does everything he can to win her from rivals, but gradually comes to realize that the life of luxury and in particular the hunting of animals sickens him and offers no meaning. This is nicely done and carries some real feeling in the last act in particular.

I liked Shiraz, the story of the Mughal emperor Shah Jehan, his blind architect Shiraz (Himanshu Rai again) and the woman they both love and to whom they build the monumental Taj Mahal, a little less; Shiraz is a rather pathetic character and the empress isn't terribly interesting either. Charu Roy as Jehan on the other hand has a certain magnetism and screen presence, and Seeta Devi appears again as a villainous and jealous rival for his affections. Still the sets and production are lovely and, like the other Indian silents I've seen, it can't be accused of running on forever.

Acchut Kanya enters into the world of much of the Indian cinema for the next few decades - a melodramatic music-heavy story about the lives of the poor. Here we have an Untouchable girl in love with a Brahmin boy and of course nothing but tragedy can come of it; what's most interesting though is that the film is very much an attack on the caste system and a call for brotherhood among all. I don't know if this was common in Indian cinema of the time but it seems fairly progressive to me. As it turns out the fathers of the two young would-be lovers are friends, the older Untouchable father having saved the Brahmin man's life when younger, but this doesn't matter to the village as a whole which seems otherwise to be made up entirely of stupid bigots who follow every word of a charlatan "doctor". The songs aren't bad (though not particularly memorable either) and fit in reasonably well with the plot, though they do get repetitive in the end.

3 Idiots (Rajkumar Hirani, 2009)

Currently #80 on the IMDb top 250, and #13 on the IMDb Indian top 250 (oh please please can this list become official? And can I have my eyes put out with slow-acting acid?). I've had a download of this forever but as it turns out it - along with a quite large number of mainstream Indian cinema from the past 20-30 years - is on Netflix. You probably all knew that, I didn't until starting to think about this challenge. Good to know, now if I can only do a better job picking in the future...anyway this is quite easily the worst Indian film I've seen so far. I'm not a Bollywood hater at all, most of what I've seen I've liked - though little of it is really memorable and I've yet to see a masterpiece - and even the ones I've disliked have been tolerable. This...no. It's a STUNNINGLY predictable story (apart perhaps from one major plot point which I didn't see coming - but which didn't really matter much) about three best buddies in engineering school, two of whom actually do seem to be idiots or at least poor student, and the third a genius of sorts, their problems with the dean of the school, and of course a romance between the dean's daughter and the genius/troublemaker leader of the trio. I will give this a couple of points for a reasonably decent production, for Aamir Khan doing an ok job in a somewhat comic role that's totally different from what I've seen him in before and for a few moments - not nearly enough - of self-parody or at least self-recognition that it's just mimicking Bollywood tropes (the poor family with the paralyzed father, shot in b/w - probably the best scene in the film). Kareena Kapoor is the love interest and she's always easy on the eyes but so are most Bollywood actresses. The songs/numbers range from pretty awful to just OK, but what really kills this is the extreme dollops of sentimentality and melodrama. OK I'm more tolerant of this than most cineastes - in fact I've been thinking about this a lot, and wondering why so many serious film buffs hate sentiment so much in all it's guises; if serious literature buffs felt the same way Dickens would be lost to history by now. Something about us movie people. But this is a case where I can fully get behind the feeling and it rears up most when we find out, surprise surprise that the seemingly lackadaisical Khan character is really practically a Gandhi-like saint who is always going to be there when his friends are in need (and of course they are). And of course it's almost 3 hours long. Just crap.

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Cathy Yan, 2020) (cinema)

So this was deemed a "flop" almost instantly, having underperformed expectations - but looking on BOM I see that the $85 million production has almost hit $200 million worldwide - and I'd say this film could benefit from some of the new films being yanked for Covid-19 fears - theaters will have to keep some older releases still going. So quick are the soothsayers to scream hit or flop these days, and I certainly have to wonder if some of it is the overt feminist attitude on display throughout this film. "Hah this is failing just like Elizabeth Warren's campaign, nobody wants to see a man-hater". I just get that vibe from a lot of the discourse today.

Anyway... IMO this doesn't deserve the scorn, and it certainly doesn't deserve to flop any more than a lot of other crap out there, some of which makes billions. But it's not all that good either and unless you are charmed by the characters/actresses - Margot Robbie as the eponymous Harley, a psychiatrist-turned-wackaloon-petty-criminal, Rosie Perez (nice to see her in a major film after what seems decades) as a put-upon non-nonsense cop, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the vengeance-fueled Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as singer/martial artist Black Canary and Ella Jay Basco as the precocious kid that seems necessary to round out this group of misfits for some reason - you won't give a shit. Fortunately I was charmed to some extent - I think Smollett-Bell is the real standout here and I for one would probably see a Black Canary film - and while the Deadpool-style regular breaking of the fourth wall has gotten old (I mean I think it was old in Deadpool) and Robbie isn't as funny as Ryan Reynolds, the action is almost all pleasingly grounded in semi-reality and I guess the neon-grittiness of Gotham worked pretty well too. The plot - all these women looking separately, until they have to team up, for this big diamond that the psychopathic crime lord (Ewan McGregor having fun) also wants - is extremely disposable. The one unforgivable sin the film makes is to showcase a slowed-down-to-dirge cover of Pat Benatar's signature song "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" - that's almost enough for me to deduct a ratings point right there. Anyway, overall, meh to watchable.

Beach Party (William Asher, 1963)
Muscle Beach Party (William Asher, 1964)

TCM. Very dim memories of seeing Back to the Beach (1987) when it opened, and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), the most famous in the original series, sometime around that time as well. I have enough interest in the highways and byways of American genre films such that even this little 60s trend has always interested me a little, and seeing as how they were on TV at the right time...

Beach Party establishes the tone - in fact the second film virtually duplicates the first couple of scenes note for note. Frankie Avalon (as Frankie) and Annette Funicello (as Dolores here and Dee Dee in the second film) are a couple of teens in love who go to an idyllic beach for some fun alone - but Dolores has cold feet and invites a bunch of friends including Ken (John Ashley) and Deadhead (Jody McCrea, son of Joel). So sexual frustration on the part of the Frankie character is part and parcel of at least the first two films here but of course it's all shown in a very g-rated and unfortunately patriarchal-conservative way. In this first film the main conflict is with a bunch of biker guys & gals - probably the mostly harmless biker gang in film history - and there's a professor (Robert Cummings) and his assistant (Dorothy Malone) spying on all the teens for a work on the anthropology of the American teenagers and their sex lives. It's all harmless fluff, lot of blue-screen surfing shots, lots of cute boys and girls in swimsuits, and surf music courtesy of Dick Dale (the best element in the film apart from the cool cameo by a Big Star at the end of the flick). Meh.

Muscle Beach Party is a little more tiresome, though it does boast more musical interest, with several songs co-written by Brian Wilson, performed as in the first film by Dick Dale and the Deltones, and with Stevie Wonder (as "LIttle" Stevie Wonder") making his first film appearance at the age of 14 singing "Happy Street". The plot this time is that the idyllic beach is invaded by a bunch of muscle men, managed by Don Rickles, and an Italian beauty (Luciana Paluzzi) who falls for the biggest and muscliest of them. This comes off as more sexist and stupid than the first one and just offers a brand of comedy that I find intolerable and as boring as, well, watching paint dry. No more beaches with Frankie and Annette for me, thanks.

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu / Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019) (cinema)

I went into this with fairly high expectations, preparing to be disappointed - overall my experiences with films from 2019 have been a little underwhelming compared to previous years, and for whatever reason I had the feeling that I wasn't going to agree with the ecstatic responses this has received, some from people I trust. It's probably good to be cautious but... I had a good sense early on that this might be something special, and though it's a little "slow" in a sense, as let's face it most films about artists are --- we don't have much "action" and we have long periods of looking, staring, thinking, as per the usual dicta of this type of film --- it becomes evident around the halfway point that it's really a slow burn, that the moodiness of model/muse Héloise (Adèle Haenel in what may be the best performance of 2019) and the cautiousness of painter Mariane (Noémie Merlant, very nearly as good) are going to change and develop into something at once ecstatic and mournful.

This is a harder film to write about than any narrative feature I've seen in recent months, because so much of it is in the visuals, in the eyes, in the relation to landscapes both outdoors and in; while there is plenty of dialogue, it is all very carefully chosen in service of character and the inevitable destiny that a story of lesbian romance in the late 18th century must have - disengagement, or tragedy and death, or perhaps exile. It's very much to the credit of the film that I never felt sure where this was going in the final stunning half hour or so - and that I do have such a hard time putting down words. I think the choice to limit the music to a few moments of Vivaldi's "Winter" from The Four Seasons - as well used as any piece of classical music in any film I can think of offhand - was brilliant, and it's also an interesting limitation that we don't really see the exterior of the house where the film takes place - we go from rocky shores and windswept cliffs on the coast of Brittany to indoor candle-lit interiors, as if to show that this kind of experience can only exist in certain kinds of isolation; and perhaps the director's choice of a rural, lonely setting for her first period film suggests also that she desires to show them in the only kind of atmosphere where they could, for a moment at least, feel free.

There is much more to say about this and I'm sure much has been said by many others already. If I get to see this again in the cinema I'll write more for myself and the maybe 2 people who are going to read this. Suffice it to say that had I seen this before the 2019 poll ended I'd have had a real internal battle to decide which of the top three spaces it deserved, and I really, really loved my top 2.

Al-mummia / The Mummy / The Night of Counting the Years (Chadi Abdel Salam, 1969) (cinema, 35mm) (re-watch)

UW Cinematheque. Great to be able to see this classic in 35mm - this was from the 2009-10 Italian restoration that (supposedly) will come out on Criterion one day - it's part of the Marin Scorsese World Cinema Foundation. It looked good apart from a few small issues at reel changes, and most importantly the sound was great. I saw this three years ago in a not-so-great copy on video and was very impressed in a way that you only get rarely if you're a jaded cinephile - it's not much like anything else. I suppose in some ways it reminds me a bit of Golestan's Asrar ganj dareheye jenni in it's basic theme of the modern-day poor villagers essentially stealing from their own heritage - selling off valuable artifacts that will leave the region and maybe the country - but it couldn't be more different stylistically and it's not really a cynical, bitter work like the Golestan. I had issues with the film original despite my enormous respect for it's visual and sound qualities and the sheer oddity of it, and thought those might be somewhat attributable to a poor copy and bad subs - but no, they're still there; this is just a difficult film to understand on a deep level. The basics aren't so hard - in the 1880s, just before the British takeover of Egypt, two brothers are given the secret of buried 3000-year-old Pharaohs' treasures in the ancient city of Thebes upon their father's death, and charged with slowly selling it off to keep their small village afloat, but each brother in his own way resists, with a resulting tragedy for one. It's more the motivations of the surviving brother and the underlying philosophy regarding death and the resistance to modernity that are rather unclear to me. The director's only feature; his short El-Fallâh el-fasîh / The Eloquent Peasant (1970) is also quite impressive (and also somewhat reliant on knowledge of Egyptian history and psychology); I wish it had been shown alongside this. The modernist score by Mario Nascimbene is pretty terrific, and Roberto Rossellini is credited as a producer (in the film - not listed on IMDb).

Naissance des pieuvres / Water Lilies (Céline Sciamma, 2007)

So I had to watch the director's first film, and first collaboration with Adèle Haenel after coming home from her new masterpiece; I'd seen Tomboy and Bande de filles when they were new and liked both an awful lot but never got around to their predecessor. And it's much as I expected from what I knew about it - a sensitive, beautifully acted and shot but ultimately somewhat generic first love - or really first crush - story. Young and still pretty adolescent teen Marie (Pauline Acquart) falls for older, beautiful and (seemingly) boy-mad swimmer Floriane (Haenel), engendering the jealousy of her dumpy, rather childish best friend Anne (Louise Blachère). This pretty much hits all the plot points you'd expect if you've seen a few teen romance/love triangle stories but as I said, it's well done - Sciamma has a certain "classical" way of shooting that very much fits her subjects and is lovely without ever being show-offy - and it's short enough to not get tiresome. A good start to what has become a great career.

TEE VEE EPISODES

Star Trek: Picard

a) Episode 1 "Remembrance" (Hanelle M. Culpepper, 2020)
b) Episode 2 "Maps and Legends" (Hanelle M. Culpepper, 2020)
c) Episode 3 "The End is the Beginning" (Hanelle M. Culpepper, 2020)

I've been on a *little* Star Trek kick for a few months; have gone through the first few episodes of the original series and caught a few Next Gen as well. I can't say I've ever been anything close to a serious fan - I've probably seen every episode of the first series, and maybe a third of Next Gen, a scattering from some of the later series, and all the films - but I do like the concept and I guess I'm more interested now than in the past because I feel the increasing need for a more optimistic view of the future than what we tend to get in modern SF - or in the modern world frankly. And I knew that this show would be more influenced by the J.J. Abrams reboots, and the more recent "Enterprise" series than the old stuff - and thus more trendily "dark" and "intense" and action-packed, but what the hell I figured I'd give it a shot.

And well, it lives down to my expectations so far. Unpleasant, bloody, profane - I don't necessarily mind these elements in SF or anything else, but does every science fiction or fantasy show or movie now have to have them? Does everything have to resemble, say, Game of Thrones or the Battlestar Galactica reboot in emphasizing all the unpleasant elements of the fantastic worlds, and that people are all basically terrible? I sound like an old man I guess - I'm just saying that there ought to be some place for something a little less mean about the world, and Star Trek was that exception for a long time, probably up through Deep Space 9 to some extent anyway. Not anymore - it's all gotta be dark and violent and we have to trust nobody and all of our heroes have to be at best shells or deeply flawed. And we sure can't make much space for fun or humor (though there is a bit more of that as this goes on, particularly in the 5th episode). The basic setup here is the that the retired 92-year-old Jean-Luc Picard, living happily enough on his vineyard in France in 2399 is called upon to help a mysterious young woman who is being tracked by some super-secret Romulan agents, and when he fails spectacularly, he becomes determined to find her twin sister - unbeknownst to him, working on a Borg cube and fucking a Romulan spy of some sort - and assembles (of course) a ragtag group of freedom fighters - uhh, malcontents to do this. It so happens that the twins also seem to be the "daughters" of Data, Picard's second officer and - according to this series - best buddy on the Enterprise decades previously, who sacrificed his life to save Picard. So there's lots of homages to earlier shows and characters of course, and also extensive reworking of them to make them fit the more "realistic" i.e. negative vision of z-grade writers Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman, the masterminds behind this project.

These first three episodes aren't completely worthless or anything - Stewart is always fun to watch even if he does seem as tired of the character as he is tired and old as a man here, and the new cast isn't bad, and the production of course is modern-day high-digital-gloss, which is probably appealing to a lot of people and is... all right as far as I'm concerned. I like the low-key rather wistful music and at this point though there's been plenty of action, it hasn't overpowered the show. But it feels more like a collection of fan service items and half-baked ideas that may or may not go anywhere, and the everybody-is-lying-and-has-a-dark-backstory idea is very old and overdone here already. I will probably watch through to the end of the first season but I don't expect much improvement frankly. More entertainment value for me in Mike and Rich's dissections of the show on RedLetterMedia, which have also been helpful to me to fill in some of the gaping holes in my scattered knowledge of previous shows.

d) Episode 4 "Absolute Candor" (Jonathan Frakes, 2020)
e) Episode 5 "Stardust City Rag" (Jonathan Frakes, 2020)

The last word in episode 3 was "engage" spoken by Jean-Luc, so if you know your Next Gen, you know they were finally embarking on their outside-earth quest. The first of these episodes involves Picard visiting a planet of Romulan refugees who he had helped set up 20 years ago, but not kept in touch with. They are mostly resentful but he's Picard and the protagonist so of course he gets what he wants - a warrior-nun, well in this case just a warrior, basically a tough dude who will be his bodyguard, something that gets demonstrated here with a nice little beheading. Who would have thought that R-rated violence and language would come to Trek at all, let alone in a TV series mostly about an old codger? Anyway, whatever. The next episode finds the growing cast of characters on one of those pleasure planets that every fucking SF tv series of the last 50+ years has to have, and the return of Seven of Nine with Jeri Ryan looking pretty damn good for 52, ready for some more killin'. We get to see most of the characters dress up, isn't that cool? And the holodeck, one of the stupidest plot-saving devices ever created for an ostensibly "serious" franchise. I think maybe the biggest problem with this series - and I'm guessing some of the other recent series, and some of the later films - is that it takes itself too seriously. TOS and Next Gen knew how to have fun, and also knew that they weren't trying to pretend to be more thoughtful and provocative than they could get away with when aimed at mainstream TV audiences. You still can't tell a really challenging and complex story within the context of something like Star Trek without losing a lot of viewers, but you can offer the kind of veneer of seriousness that lots of superhero films and other kinds of dumb action stuff have today, and I guess that works for most people. Not me I'm afraid.

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#16

Post by joachimt » March 9th, 2020, 6:21 pm

Garde à vue AKA The Inquisitor (1981, 2 official lists, 307 checks) 8/10
Watched because it was FotW.
Fuchi ni tatsu AKA Harmonium (2016, 1 official list, 157 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Fûsen AKA The Balloon (1956, 1 official list, 55 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
El niño pez AKA The Fish Child (2009, 1 official list, 253 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Nothing Personal (2009, 1 official list, 460 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on NPO Start (Dutch free streaming service).
The Princess Diaries (2001, 1 official list, 18349 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004, 1 official list, 9879 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
Foul Play (1978, 1 official list, 597 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Prénom Carmen AKA First Name: Carmen (1983, 2 official lists, 635 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001, 2 official lists, 4584 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
Familia sumergida AKA A Family Submerged (2018, 1 official list, 31 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
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Fergenaprido: "I find your OCD to be adorable, J"

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maxwelldeux
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#17

Post by maxwelldeux » March 9th, 2020, 10:42 pm

mightysparks wrote:
March 9th, 2020, 10:09 am
I am Jane Doe (2017) 6/10
I was expecting this to be more focused on the experiences of the sex-trafficking victims so I felt a bit let down when it turned out to be focusing more on a Craigslist style website that was facilitating the sex-trafficking. At times it felt a little too emotionally manipulative, particularly as I really disliked the narrator's condescending voice and hated it every time she spoke. It was interesting, and frustrating, to see Backpage continually win cases due to ignorance and a seeming unwillingness to look at the sex-trafficking of children (and rather focusing on 'but old men want to be seen with young women'). Though I agree to a point with the law they were using to get away with it, it was another example of vague law that is put in place to help perpetrators get away with doing bad things and it really needs to be reconsidered.
Glad you watched it! Backpage settled the lawsuit filed by the three young women, and while the terms of the settlement are undisclosed, the lawyer did reveal that it's a solid settlement for the victims. The lawyer in that film has gone on to do continuing legal education classes on human trafficking, specifically on business' liability. There's also some legal work done to close loopholes related to those laws.

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#18

Post by Lonewolf2003 » March 10th, 2020, 11:08 am

The Lighthouse (2019, Robert Eggers): 8.0 - The b/w cinematography looks fabulous. The smaller aspect ratio fits the oppressive mood and theme of the movie. And the acting by both is top notch. The sound design the best since Under the Skin. It raises a lot of questions, mainly if it is after all just simply a story about a guy going insane or there is more going on. But it are questions that don’t need to be answered and the movies benefits from its ambuigity.
The Snorkel (1958, Guy Green): 5.8 -The film start with an ingenious murder. But what follows is way less interesting and suffers from an annoying young girl in the lead, who is miscast cause the actress is too old for the way the character behaves. The movies did have a nice dark ending, that unfortunately was rewritten with an extra pre-credit scene probably to please the censors.
Cash on Demand (1961, Quentin Lawrence): 7.5 - A very decent tight bank robbery movie that also function as a take on A Christmas Carol. The movie manages to be suspenseful while being basically a two-character play thanks to the two solid leads, Peter Cushing and André Morell
Ai no onimotsu [Burden of Love] (1955, Yuzo Kawashima): 6.2
Awaara [The Vagabond] (1951, Raj Kapoor) : 5.8 - There is enough to like in the acting, cinematography, directing and even the songs. Unfortunately what could been an interesting story is told unsubtle, with what's obvious from subtext sometimes bluntly stated in dialogues, and the simple nature vs. nurture argument is bloated into a movie of almost 3hrs.
The Wild One (1953, Laslo Benedek) : 7.0 - A movie that's mostly interesting for the cultural influences it had. The first half, which is more a broad objective depiction of the behavior of the group of bikers, holds up well still. The movie loses some impact in the second when it becomes more a redemption through love storyline.
A Kind of Loving (1962, John Schlesinger): 8.5 -A very good humanistic love story, that neither condemns its protagonist nor commends them. It shows very realistic the different stages in a relationship, from the rosy crush to the troubles of newly weds figuring out how to live together.
Darling (1965, John Schlesinger): 8.0
Waga machi [Our Town] (1956, Yuzo Kawashima): 7.5
Maniac (1963, Michael Carreras): 6.8

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#19

Post by Lonewolf2003 » March 10th, 2020, 12:28 pm

@OldAle; I'm one of those 2 people who read your review for Portrait de la jeune fille en feu ;)

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