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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 15, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 15, 2020

#1

Post by sol » April 12th, 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

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938). Returning to the rough neighbourhood where he grew up after a long stint behind bars, a hardened gangster influences the unruly teenagers there against the wishes of a former friend (now a priest) in this gritty crime drama. James Cagney is excellent as the crook in question and the film has some great dynamics, from Cagney reveling in all of the hero worship of the teens, to him feeling torn between his loyalty to his old friend and his criminal inclinations. Alas, co-star Pat O'Brien is no match for Cagney and most of his scenes are sermon-like and didactic, lecturing both Cagney and the teen boys in ethics and morality. The ending is questionable too, though certainly quite memorable. The real sell-point here is Cagney in as fine a form as ever - plus the unusual casting of Humphrey Bogart as a timid lawyer in support. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Angels Over Broadway (1940). Realising that the man who they were all trying to swindle is suicidal and indebted rather than rich as they had assumed, a trio of small-time hustlers hatch an underhanded plan to help him out of financial strife in this odd film. A bug-eyed and inebriated yet eloquent Thomas Mitchell is excellent as the most charismatic con artist; John Qualen is also fine as the man with money woes. The other two main players are less interesting though and the whole altruistic nature of the plot works against it with no sense that any of the con artists might be secretly double-crossing the others. The film certainly looks great though, co-directed and photographed by the legendary Lee Garmes with memorable high contrast shots and high camera angles. The décor inside the nightclub where the quartet meet is also wonderfully imaginative. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Good Humor Man (1950). Titled after a slang term in the 1950s for ice-cream van vendors, this bubbly comedy follows the experiences of one such working man who becomes involved with shady criminals and a disappearing corpse. While bits and pieces here are certainly quite silly, Jack Carson does a great job maintaining his dignity - despite numerous humiliations - in the lead role and his fondness for the kids in his area is heartwarming. Lola Albright is less interesting as his on/off girlfriend, but she holds her own well too during a magnificent fifteen minute slapstick climax in which she teams up with Carson to take on the baddies, armed with musical instruments and whatever else they can find at their disposal in the local elementary school. The film is frequently inventive too; the sound effect distortions in the opening scene are especially creative. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Alice in Wonderland (1951). Disney's first horror film, this Lewis Carroll adaptation is demented and downright disturbing in the best possible way with a real nightmare flavour to Alice's trip down the rabbit hole. From an anecdote about oysters meeting their doom, to barking flowers, to animals that eerily appear and disappear, to a constant threat of being beheaded, this is truly the stuff that bad dreams are made of. The whole thing is wonderfully surreal too with lots of creative backgrounds even if the character designs are crude by modern standards, plus the whole thing is incredibly funny, creepy as bits and pieces are. Perhaps most striking though is how Alice remains a perfectly prim and proper young lady throughout, never letting things interfere with her old fashioned manners. Great stuff, even if it cannot compare to Jan Svankajer's take. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

House of Wax (1953). Her roommate murdered and the corpse stolen, a young woman begins to suspect the worst when she sees the likeness of her friend in a wax museum exhibit in this Vincent Price horror film. Phyllis Kirk is no great shakes as the female lead, but Price is both a lot of fun and incredibly sympathetic with some potent speeches early on as he waxes poetic (pun intended) about his art. Despite the occasional good chase through a foggy street, the film unfortunately only ever works to a limited degree since there is no real mystery as to what is going on. The movie also spends much more time with Kirk despite Price receiving higher billing. Originally presented in 3D, the film additionally goes overboard with things flung at the screen, but there is also a fun moment where a character breaks the fourth wall before throwing something at the screen. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Hollywood or Bust (1956). Unable to pay his debts, a compulsive gambler schemes to win a getaway car in a prize draw, only to share it with an avid movie fan and his dog in this zesty road movie. This was the last film that Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis collaborated on and their chemistry remains solid despite reported animosity on set. It is the Great Dane cast as Jerry's dog who totally steals the film though, even accidentally driving the car! There is also a terrific angry bull and many fun small touches, like the pair's names on a hotel sign in Vegas that they drive past. The plot is more than a little silly and Pat Crowley's falling in love with Deano after his attempts to force himself on her are pretty icky, but this is generally nice and creative. There are lots of fun Hollywood plugs too, the best of which might be the tribute to Singin' in the Rain final scene. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Operation Mad Ball (1957). Smooth-talking and clever, a charismatic soldier at a medical unit stays one step ahead of his stuffy superior officer as he organises a social function for the enlisted men and nurses in this vibrant comedy. Jack Lemmon is excellent in the lead role and has some great moments as he pulls fast ones on Ernie Kovacs, who similarly gives it his all as the stuffy captain who Lemmon has to answer to. There is a particularly memorable stretch involving a fake cadaver with a drip; Lemmon's weaseling out of a court martial early on is very well done too. Lemmon's courting of a new young nurse is less interesting though and with some arguable sexism in the mix, this is not the easiest film to get through whenever Lemmon or Kovacs is not on screen, but fortunately they are often present - and they are absolutely dynamite when together. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

The Demon (1963). Rejected by her secret lover, a young woman attempts to make a pact with a demon and suffers at the hands of her superstitious fellow villagers who believe that she is cursed when their exorcism methods fail to normalise her in this intriguing precursor to and influence on The Exorcist. Labeling this is as a horror film might be inaccurate though since this is far more ambiguous than The Exorcist with a distinct possibly that she is not possessed and simply mentally ill and misunderstood. Indeed, the film is very critical of her pious community who believe that they can will storm clouds away through chanting and so on. Daliah Lavi is electric in the lead role and while all of the scenes without her fall flat, this is very atmospheric film overall, with lots of fluid, mobile camerawork and a perfectly eerie general soundscape. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Gladiatorerna (1969). Set in a future in which countries at war verse each other in a reality television game rather than on a battlefield, this Peter Watkins film comes with a very intriguing premise. As usual, Watkins takes a pseudo-documentary approach with some dark humour as the narrator nonchalantly comments on some of the absurdities of the "peace game". There is also much time spent on the military leaders of the warring countries sitting harmoniously in a single room as they watch the action on TV. These spectator scenes are a lot more interesting though than any of the on-ground action. Same goes for those in the control boxes who can change the whole "game" with a push of the button, all of which serves to make Gladiatorerna rather uneven. The still photos near the end are nifty though and the film provides a fair bit to ponder. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Lathe of Heaven (1980). Burdened with dreams that have the power to alter reality, a young man seeks treatment from a psychiatrist more interesting in exploiting his gift than curing him in this intriguing sci-fi yarn. The premise is rife with potential, especially since nobody else seems aware of the changes that his dreams bring, and there are some great moments in the first half as he is unable to convince his shrink that a painting has changed and so on. As the film progresses though, it becomes bogged down in moralising matters with the dreamer repeatedly telling the shrink that he has no right to change reality (it is also confusing that the shrink becomes suddenly aware of the changes when nobody else is). The second half still has plenty of interest - precursory in ways to the likes of Inception - but this also feels like it could have been more. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Juniper Tree (1990). Tension simmers at an isolated farm between a young boy and a young woman who he refuses to accept as a stepmother in this curious black and white feature from Iceland. Inspired by a Brothers Grimm fairytale, the plot is often interpreted literally, i.e. the stepmother really is a witch as the boy claims and her younger sister really has visions of their deceased mother. Things get pretty intriguing though if one views the entire plot as metaphorical for the whole stepparent scenario. Metaphors or not, the glacial pacing of the project is not exactly helpful with the tension between the four principal characters spread thin through all of the near-static shots of characters just looking and staring. The whole thing looks sumptuous though and the film has an appropriately melancholic music score. It is also interesting to see Björk pre-fame. (first viewing, online) ★★

Remote Control (1992). Leaving work early to track down his mother's lost television remote, a young mechanic becomes involved with thugs and smugglers as his search takes him all over Reykjavik in this energetic comedy. While it lacks Martin Scorsese's strong visuals, this feels like an Icelandic attempt at After Hours with an eventually all-night adventure that seems to grow more and more absurd as it progresses. Not all of the goofy comedy works and some of the plot points are not well explained (why exactly the protagonist has fish in his bathtub, etc) but everything spirals towards a memorably over-the-top climax with botched cement shoes, a sleeping woman sent down a river and the baddies arguing about who should kill who. Plus, there is the zaniness of being able to control televisions telepathically. This is an appealing if uneven mix. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Ulee's Gold (1997). Contacted by his estranged son's criminal associates, a beekeeper finds himself in a bind when the criminals give him a deadline to find the loot that his son stole from them in this indie drama. The film is best remembered for netting the usually charismatic Peter Fonda his sole acting Oscar nomination, and he plays quiet and reserved very well here. The structure of the film disappoints though. The strongest parts are the criminals intimidating Fonda, and yet this ends up as a mere subplot that only occasionally crops up amid beekeeping, romancing and a rebellious granddaughter who softens ridiculously quickly. Fonda's night trip with the criminals is especially intense, but this is followed by several false endings that turn the film into more of a sentimental affair than an acute looking at a man trying to retain his cool in heated times. (first viewing, VHS) ★★

The Rocket (2013). His family forced to relocate for a government dam project, a rural Laotian boy experiences uncertainty before a local rocket-building competition takes his fancy in this coming-of-age drama. The film benefits from on-location photography and well cast child actors, with the best scenes involving the lad bonding with an orphan girl. The Laotian superstition is curious too with the boy's grandmother constantly telling him that he is cursed as the second of the two twins (the first who died). Alas, the superstition stuff and girl-boy bonding fades into the background for the rocket contest, and with more time dedicated to the actual competition than his building of the rocket, this angle only ever half-works. Still, there is plenty of interest here with the depiction of a war-torn Laos whose inhabitants are tossed around in the name of "progress". (first viewing, online) ★★★

Thale (2012). Two cleaners encounter a mysterious, mute young woman hiding in the basement while cleaning out an abandoned cabin, however, something other than her mutism does not quite seem right in this intriguing indie horror film. Silje Reinåmo is excellent as the mysterious, wide-eyed woman in question whose movements and reactions seem more animalistic than human. The film also does well conveying her back story only in mere bits and pieces as audio recordings from the cabin's former owner are found and played. Where the film ultimately ends up heading is less interesting than the build-up with a lot of familiarity to how things end up going down. For the most part though, this is a nicely unusual horror film with less emphasis on shocks and scares and more focus on the friends weighing up what to do and what exactly she might be. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Thelma (2017). Plagued by unexplained seizures, a devout Christian college student begins to wonder if something other than epilepsy could be to blame in this atmospheric thriller from Norway. The symbolism is a little on-the-nose with the seizures coming as she begins to experiment with drugs and alcohol for the first time and as she begins a lesbian love affair, all of which of course conflicts with her upbringing. The whole thing is still highly engaging though with much moody music and a pitch perfect performance by Eili Harboe as the fragile protagonist. There is also the suggestion of something supernatural afoot, and while the film does not quite dig deep enough with this (in terms of what she might be capable of doing), it is a fascinating slant that turns this into much more than just another film about how suffocating a religious upbringing can be. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

REVISIONS

The Queen of Spades (1949). Somewhat more impressive upon revision, the final half-hour here is divine even if the build-up is uneven. The plot has Anton Walbrook trying to get his hands on a diabolical secret for winning at cards, possessed by an elderly countess. It is a third of the way in before we even meet the old lady, and the middle third here is very dull, full of repetitive ballroom scenes and romantic courting as Walbrook tries to get to the dame through her granddaughter. The final half-hour is really nifty though with Walbrook's obsession totally taking over his demeanour and some great film distortion effects. His final card game is particularly intense. For a film about card playing, however, it is strange how little of it factors in here, and based on a short story, the whole thing perhaps unexpectedly feels dragged out at full feature film length. (second viewing, DVD) ★★

Billy Budd (1962). Tension mounts between a sadistic master-of-arms and a fresh-faced new seaman aboard a naval vessel in this British drama set during the 1790s. Robert Ryan and Terence Stamp are also both solid in the respective roles, but this is Ryan's film the whole way, radiating more menace and malice than in Act of Violence or Bad Day at Black Rock. It is a multi-layered performance too; as he confesses to being "I am what I am sir, and what the world has made me," a beating human heart can be sensed, which is all the more interesting given that his character is possibly a repressed homosexual. Upon revision, once again the biggest disappointment about Billy Budd is that it is more about Stamp than Ryan's character, but all of the justice versus the law versus morality issues that crop up towards the end are still interesting. (second viewing, DVD) ★★★★

OtherShow
The Lemon Drop Kid (1951). Given until Christmas by a mobster to make good on a debt, a small-time grifter goes from one con to the next in the hope of raising the funds in this Bob Hope comedy. The film begins well with Hope cleverly swindling racetrack punters before crossing paths with the mobster. The middle portion of the film by comparison is a mixed bag with Hope desperately checking in with various old acquaintances. Things eventually improve though as he comes up with a crazy couple of scams involving a fake charity and an illegal casino and there is much zaniness with the casino's trap doors. The pacing always feels off though with some songs in the mix that dilute the tension; the tunes are pleasant though and "Silver Bells" is a classic. Hope is also as solid as one would expect here, though an in-drag segment drags a little - pun intended. (first viewing, online) ★★

That's My Boy (1951). Unable to accept that his son would rather be a vet, a former college football star pulls strings to ensure that his son similarly makes the team despite not being able to play in this Martin and Lewis comedy. While all of the father/son stuff is by-the-books, the premise has much slapstick potential that it nevertheless mostly fails to realise. After a great entrance, falling over and around stuff with his glasses knocked off, Jerry Lewis is soon left with little to do with it taking around half the film for him to enroll in college and befriend Dean Martin. His co-star has even less to do though; aside from crooning the odd out-of-place song, Martin actually does precious little in terms of trying to turn Lewis around. Lewis certainly has some great bits here (getting confused during a training session) but Harold Lloyd's The Freshman this is not. (first viewing, online) ★

A Girl in Every Port (1952). Two sailors hatch a scam involving identical twin racehorses in this Groucho Marx comedy that is a lot less funny than it might sound. Groucho delivers many wisecracks with several genuine laughs to be had, but in his sixties at the time, he lacks the physicality that made his turns in the likes of Duck Soup so dynamic. He really seems out of energy half the time. William Bendix also makes a poor substitute for Harpo and Chico, though the casting of Marie Wilson as a blonde airhead and romantic interest is the film's worst aspect with way too many gags at the expense of how unintelligent she is. She also has nothing compared to Margaret Dumont's ability to care on unfazed amidst numerous Groucho insults. If less vibrant than usual, this is still almost worth watching to bask in Grouco's droll line delivery, but little else here works. (first viewing, DVD) ★

It Grows on Trees (1952). That old adage about money not growing on trees is disproven in this comedy involving a middle aged couple who discover that their latest plants sprout cash. It is a silly idea, yet one ripe with satirical potential. The satire is not terribly strong, and mostly comes through newspaper headlines in montage as the socioeconomic consequences of the discovery emerge, but the film certainly begins well and is nicely acted. This was Irene Dunne's last big screen performance and she does a good job of cleverly deceiving her less open-minded husband. Edith Meiser is also fine as a nosey neighbour who accidentally discovers the secret, though the film does not milk the comedic mileage of this for all it is worth. What works best is the dismissive government officials who make fun of Dunne's revelation, only to later have to swallow their pride. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Runaway Bus (1954). Navigating a bus through thick fog, a hapless driver's problems are multiplied when he is informed by the police that a criminal mastermind of unknown identity is among his passengers in this quaint British movie that gave Frankie Howerd his first lead role. Always a delight to watch, the ever-indignant Howerd is very funny here as he gets lost climbing in and out of windows and begins to suspect that his every male passenger could be the baddie. As well as a comedy though, the film also attempts to be an Agatha Christie style mystery and this genre-blending does not really click since the comedy makes the mystery seem less serious and urgent. With a talented supporting cast including the likes of Margaret Rutherford at her most cantankerous, this passes the time fine but is hardly a career high for anyone involved. (first viewing, online) ★★

Man of the Moment (1955). Asked to substitute for diplomatic delegate at the last minute, a simple filing clerk causes a stir when he accidentally votes for a controversial measure in this Norman Wisdom comedy. While less episodic and tighter plotted than Wisdom's other 1955 vehicle One Good Turn, this is a less funny film and Wisdom is less charming here compared to his child-loving character there. Much of Man of the Moment works though. An extended sequence in which Wisdom tries to get rid of a bomb is a real highlight and a TV studio climax is not half-bad, however, the better gags (a near-miss dagger attack; airplane seat dominoes) tend to get cut short while other nonsense goes on too long. The political satire also comes off as very slight, but the way his superiors go from trying to get rid of him to trying to keep him is pretty dynamic. (first viewing, online) ★★

That Certain Feeling (1956). Keen on helping her indebted ex-husband, a private secretary gives him a job without telling her fiancé/boss that they were once lovers in this Bob Hope comedy. This never feels quite as funny as it should have been since it seldom focuses on tension from the fiancé not knowing his latest employee's new identity. In fact, the whole secret relationship comes second to Hope's despair as he is relegated down to an errand boy and babysitter (none of which is particularly funny) when actually employed to ghostwrite. The way his ex keeps throwing herself at him feels weird too; are meant to root for them get back together - when Hope appears reluctant to - simply because her current fiancé turns out to be a dullard? The performances are okay here and even the songs are decent, but this is an odd story to get one's head around. (first viewing, online) ★

War Dog (1987). Discovering that his missing-in-action brother is actually alive but has been brainwashed as part of a super-soldiers experiment, a war veteran sets out to rescue him in this very violent Swedish flick, full of blood and gore. With young children graphically shot through the chest with exploding bullets in the open scene, the filmmakers make it clear from the get-go that this will be a no-holds-barred action film, and yet nothing to come is ever quite as disturbing as the opening. In fact, the middle stretch of the film quickly feels repetitive as the brothers keep getting shot and chased in burning cars. The final stretch of the movie is pretty decent though and surprisingly dark (look out for a grim hide-and-seek game) but this tone and mood really should have been present throughout given all of untapped potential of the nifty super-soldiers premise. (first viewing, online) ★

Fragile as the World (2001). Afraid that her parents will not approve of her boyfriend, a teenager runs away with her beau and attempts to live in the woods with him in this Portuguese drama. It all sounds a bit like Badlands, and while never quite as magical or lyrical as that, writer-director Rita Azevedo Gomes is clearly trying to do something very different here, filming most of the project in high contrast black and white with only occasional bouts of colour. The film is nicely philosophical at its best too, with João (the hopeless romantic boyfriend) waxing poetic about moments of pure happiness and how hard it is to enjoy them knowing that they will never forever last. Featuring several lengthy, nearly static shots and with the pair not running away until halfway in, the movie sometimes feels like an endurance test, but it is a surefire intriguing one at that. (first viewing, online) ★★

Devil's Bride (2016). Finland's answer to The Crucible, this 1600s-set drama focuses on a teenager with an older, married lover who sets off a ghastly chain of events when she accuses her lover's wife of witchcraft. While the historical context is interesting, set in a time in which one's word was all that was needed to condemn someone, the film is beset by a dislikeable female protagonist whose irresponsible actions are hard to accept, and while she looks pretty enough, Tuulia Eloranta does not really give the character much depth except in the final twenty minutes - and by then it is hard to care. Still, the film is an undeniable curio, not only for the Scandinavian setting but also a female solidarity angle that differs it a bit from The Crucible. The film also looks as smart as period pieces tend to be, though it is as characteristically slow-moving too. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Lion Woman (2016). Growing up with a rare medical condition in which her entire body is covered in hair, a young girl struggles to gain the acceptance of her father and then wider society in this Norwegian drama. Rolf Lassgård is fine as the girl's father with a nice character arc as he gradually grows less ashamed of his doting daughter, yet the focus here is her shame and humiliation, which is always very predictable and by-the-books. The film also rushes through her teen and adult years after spending more than half the duration in her childhood, which gives us little chance to really see her progress in attitude as she matures. The makeup effects are certainly great and the child abuse (locked up in closets) is compelling, but the film may have done better to tackle just one period of her life, or simply just focus on a stubborn man learning to love his kid. (first viewing, online) ★

A Fortunate Man (2018). Arrogant and self-conceited, an ambitious engineering student struggles to secure funding in this lengthy Danish drama. Esben Smith is fine in the lead role, capturing well a mixture of indignation and confusion as he tries to understand why others do not see eye-to-eye with him. Unfortunately, he is a pretty dislikeable human being; quite aside from his cockiness regarding his academic abilities, he is an unrepentant womaniser who at one point even courts the less attractive older sister of a more vibrant younger woman (who would happily have him) simply because he likes the challenge of breaking up an engagement. The set-up of a genius too socially inept to get his ideas across has lots of potential (think A Beautiful Mind or The Imitation Game) but even at almost three hours, this only seems to skirt around the dynamic. (first viewing, online) ★★
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Perception de Ambiguity
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » April 12th, 2020, 12:01 pm

どっこい!人間節 寿・自由労働者の街 / Dokkoi! Songs from the Bottom / A Song of the Bottom / Dokkoi! Ningen bushi—Kotobukicho: Jiyu rodosha no machi (小川紳介/Shinsuke Ogawa, 1975) 6+/10
Mr. Pink: "No real people?"Show
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Guy Debord, son art et son temps (Brigitte Cornand, 1995) 6/10

La vérité / The Truth / 真実 (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2019) 4+/10

Gretel & Hansel (Oz Perkins, 2020) 5+/10
SpoilerShow
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Angano... Angano... Tales from Madagascar (Cesar Paes, 1989) 6+/10

Ascent (Fiona Tan, 2016) 8-/10
one mindShow
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Blokada / Blockade (Sergey Loznitsa, 2006) 6/10

Verlassen; Verloren; Einsam, Kalt (Missa Solemnis) (Klaus Wyborny, 1992) 4/10

Startup.com (Chris Hegedus & Jehane Noujaim, 2001) 6/10

Hi no tori: Hôô-hen / Firebird: Karma Chapter (Rintaro, 1986) 6/10

Iluminacja / The Illumination (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1973) 6/10
sleeping pleasureShow
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Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011) (2nd viewing) 8/10
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東京戦争戦後秘話 映画で遺書を残して死んだ男の物語 / A Secret Post-Tokyo War Story / The Battle of Tokyo / He Died After the War / The Man Who Put His Will on Film / Tôkyô sensô sengo hiwa - Eiga de isho wo nokoshite shinda otoko no monogatari (大島渚/Nagisa Ôshima, 1970) (2nd viewing) 10/10 (from 9)
reality and the creative subject engage in mutual criticismShow
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shorts

Die neue Wohnung (Hans Richter, 1930) 5/10

In wechselndem Gefälle (Rob Gnant & Alexander J. Seiler) 6/10

All Still Orbit (Dane Komljen & James Lattimer, 2016) 2/10

The Suicide (Todd Haynes, 1978) 7/10

Moon Blink (Rainer Kohlberger, 2015) (2nd viewing) 8/10

various Rainer Kohlberger works

The Man Who Put His Will on Film - Trailer (Nagisa Ôshima(?), c.1970) (3rd+ viewing) 9/10
problem pictureShow
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music videos

Igorrr: Very Noise (MeatDept., 2020) 9/10

Sonic Youth: Disappearer (Todd Haynes, 1990) 5/10

Sonic Youth: Disappearer (Director's Cut) (Todd Haynes, 2004) 7/10

Sonic Youth: Sunday (Harmony Korine, 1998) 7/10

Kontra K: Hassliebe/Bleib ruhig (Mikis Fontagnier, 2014) +=

Kontra K feat. Nisse: Atme den Regen (Dirk Rosenlöcher, 2015)

Flume feat. Toro y Moi: The Difference (Apple x Matilda Sakamoto Dance Video) (Apple Inc., 2020)

Rollins Band: Illumination (2000) (rewatch) (2 viewings) 7+/10


other

40 Days to Learn Film (Mark Cousins, 2020) [partly]

The Man Who Left His Will on Film (Oshima): Video Essay - The Seventh Art (Christopher Heron, 2013) +++++


didn't finish

Midnight (Mitchell Leisen, 1939) [24 min]
Besat / Possessed (Anders Rønnow Klarlund, 1999) [35 min]
Nárcisz és Psyché / Psyché / Narcissus and Psyche (Gábor Bódy, 1980) [17 min]
Les garçons sauvages / The Wild Boys (Bertrand Mandico, 2017) [18 min]
Závrat / Vertigo (Karel Kachyna, 1963) [19 min]
Ningen jôhatsu / A Man Vanishes (Shôhei Imamura, 1967) [14 min]


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NYC Lockdown - Manhattan, New York 4K [partly]
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Onderhond
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#3

Post by Onderhond » April 12th, 2020, 12:04 pm

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A pretty awesome week, film-wise. Hardly any low rating and a stellar new film from Mika Ninagawa. Even better yet, I have her next film already lined up for this week. Some very cool 3.5* films too, it's a good time for quirky, off-kilter films it seems. And even some positive surprises, like Mean Girls, of which I expected nothing, but it turned out quite alright.


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01. 4.5* - Diner [Dainâ] by Mika Ninagawa (2019)
Weird and full of wonder. Ninagawa's Diner is dark and outrageous, but the extremely colorful and bold direction give it a brighter appeal and a certain lightness you would not expect from a film like this. Ninagawa once again proves she is one of Japan's most talented active directors, a true delight.

02. 3.5* - Swallow by Carlo Mirabella-Davis (2019)
Stylish and somewhat perplexing drama that incorporates some very light thriller and horror elements. The direction is beautiful, the acting is sublime, but there's a slight disconnect between both halves of the film, which makes that the dramatic climax doesn't reach its full potential. Very intruiging film though.

03. 3.5* - Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss by Vivieno Caldinelli (2018)
Extremely quirky, weird and funny, but not quite as insane or out there as the work of Jim Hosking, to which this film bears a striking resemblance. There's still plenty to like here and fans of eccentric comedy should definitely seek this one out, but for me it stopped just short of being a true comedy masterpiece.

04. 3.5* - Overheard 3 [Sit Ting Fung Wan 3] by Felix Chong, Alan Mak (2014)
A very solid sequel that offers a nice blend of financial thriller elements, surveillance police antics and some kick-ass action scenes. Add a bunch of famous Hong Kong actors and a lofty budget and you have a film that may not be all that original, but delivers on its premise. Prime big-budget entertainment done well.

05. 3.5* - Our Family [Bokutachi no Kazoku] by Yuya Ishii (2014)
A surprisingly straight-forward drama by Ishii. There's certainly no lack of disease-based dramas in Japan, but this stands out as one of the better in the genre. The direction is subtle, performances are great and the emotional climax is dignified. Not as edgy as some of this other work, but well recommended for fans of Japanese cinema.

06. 3.5* - St. Agatha by Darren Lynn Bousman (2018)
Another solid horror flick by Bousman. The evil convent isn't the most original setting and the film doesn't hold too many surprises, but the execution is on point, there are some nice, gory bits, the atmosphere is creepy and the actors do a solid job. Pure genre work that is sure to please the horror fans.

07. 3.5* - Dear Doctor [Dia Dokutâ] by Miwa Nishikawa (2009)
A small and subtle drama. The Japanese country side isn't all that exciting and Nishikawa takes her time to tell a moderately interesting story, but the sluggish atmosphere does have its perks. The direction is solid, the actors do a good job and the film left me fulfilled. Not the most dashing film, but a nice find nonetheless.

08. 3.5* - Sea Fever by Neasa Hardiman (2019)
Nifty little aquatic horror that feels at times a little too held back by its lack of budget, but builds up a nice tension and shows just enough to keep the intrigue going. The direction is solid, the cast does a good job and the effects are pretty decent, it's also quite topical with all the infection and quarantine stuff going on. A good, effective horror flick.

09. 3.5* - Ripples of Desire [Hua Yang] by Zero Chou (2012)
Stylishly directed romance. Performances are more than solid and the film looks lush from start to finish, but the plot is a bit too basic and the drama isn't always fetching. Some details (like the setting and illness) add a novel twist to the film, but it's not enough to turn it into a bona fide masterpiece. Very nice though.

10. 3.0* - Mean Girls by Mark Waters (2004)
Quirky little comedy that makes good fun of the usual high school drama, with some pleasantly over-the-top characters and a couple of solid punchlines. The cast does a good job, there's plenty of jokes that land, only the ending was a bit too corny for my taste. Still, I had plenty of fun with this one, not something I'd expected up front.

11. 3.0* - Golden Swallow [Jin Yan Zi] by Sing-Pui O (1987)
Nice blend of fantasy, action and just a blip of horror, not unlike Chinese Ghost Story. At its best this film rivals its famous peer, but the filler scenes are of a much lower quality and the score is pretty disappointing. But cinematographer turned director Sing-Pui O shoots nice pictures and there are some memorable scenes. One for the fans.

12. 3.0* - Blood Punch by Madellaine Paxson (2014)
A solid time loop film that includes some nice comedy, thriller and horror elements. It's a pretty crazy mash-up of genres and Paxson doesn't always feel fully in control of her film, but the result is pretty amusing nonetheless. A nice find for people who love a good genre mash-up, even when not everything feels as polished as it should be.

13. 3.0* - Love Strikes! [Moteki] by Hitoshi Ône (2011)
A decent mix of comedy and romance, though it's clear the comedy bits work better than the romance. It's all quite cliché and over-the-top, which isn't too bad for a comedy, but in the end it's hard to really feel for these characters. It's not a bad film, pretty decent filler, but I hoped for a little more from Ône.

14. 3.0* - Manhattan Murder Mystery by Woody Allen (1993)
Classic Allen, though I didn't quite expect to see a real murder mystery. In the end it doesn't even add that much, this is still the big Woody Allen show, with rattling dialogues, cultural references and a light-heartedness that suits the film. I found it quite nice, but like most of his work, it all depends on whether you can stomach Allen's trademark style.

15. 3.0* - Fear Itself: The Circle by Eduardo Rodriguez (2009)
A nice film to close down the series. A cabin in the woods, an evil lurking outside and stories writing themselves, all the elements are here for a solid horror film. And director Rodriguez does a good job. The effects are a bit iffy, but the gore is nice, the performances are decent and the tension is on point.

16. 2.5* - I Am Human by Elena Gaby, Taryn Southern (2019)
Decent documentary that sounded better on paper. It's interesting to think about what computer/brain interfaces may bring in the future, but the exploration of this idea was executed rather poorly. The applications that are already possible today are a bit more interesting, but they were hardly mind-blowing.

17. 2.5* - The Farthest by Emer Reynolds (2017)
Decent documentary on the two Voyager missions. Sadly the makers tried a little too hard to be inspirational, which is not that easy when you're dealing with outdated tech. The interviewees are a tad boring and the mission never feels as grand as it actually is, but at least the topic was interesting and the doc gives a good recap of the facts.

18. 2.0* - Highlander by Russell Mulcahy (1986)
It's all very cheesy, but at least Mulcahy tried to make it atmospheric. The direction is solid and the bigger set pieces look nice enough. The performances are painfully bad though and the story isn't all that exciting either. A better lead and a shorter running time would've helped this film tremendously, but it turned out differently.

19. 2.0* - Love You You [Xia Ri Le You You] by Jingle Ma (2011)
A mediocre romantic drama that lacks charm and likeable characters. It tries to compensate with an idyllic setting and some pretty young faces, but in the end that doesn't really cut it. It's not the worst film and it does provide some easy entertainment, but there are better films out there that offer exactly the same ingredients, only prepared by a better cook.

20. 1.5* - The Band Wagon by Vincente Minnelli (1953)
Very typical Minnelli musical that starts off with a lot of hassle and problems, spends the last half hour stuck in musical numbers and turns out a happy ending from out of nowhere. Astaire and Charisse are professionals, but lack the energy to make this a better films. This film is sure to appeal to core musical fans, I'm just not one of them.

21. 1.5* - Clueless by Amy Heckerling (1995)
I finally watched this one, but was disappointed to find a rather tepid high school comedy. The performances are mediocre, the comedy lacked wit and the ending was terribly cheesy. I'm sure some people will appreciate this film as a relic of its time, but it has aged pretty badly and has few redeeming qualities.

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#4

Post by joachimt » April 12th, 2020, 7:14 pm

All or Nothing (2002, 1 official list, 713 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Les Kiriki, acrobates japonais AKA Kiri-Kis (1907, 0 official lists, 140 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
Die bleierne Zeit AKA Marianne and Juliane (1981, 6 official lists, 328 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Senaste Nytt AKA The Latest News (1997, 0 official lists, 12 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
Django (1966, 4 official lists, 3299 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Plex.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019, 2 official lists, 1548 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, 3 official lists, 82306 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007, 4 official lists, 85088 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Secretary (2002, 2 official lists, 7012 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Ofrenda (1978, 0 official lists, 25 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo (1955, 0 official lists, 19 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
The Toxic Avenger (1984, 3 official lists, 4294 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Variety (1983, 1 official list, 83 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Twentynine Palms (2003, 1 official list, 357 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Ya Private Sky (2001, 0 official lists, 8 checks) 2/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
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prodigalgodson
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#5

Post by prodigalgodson » April 12th, 2020, 7:30 pm

Uneven week with some of the best films I've seen in a long time.

A Man for All Seasons (Zinnemann, 1966) 5/10

There was a great trailer for this Thomas More biopic at the New Beverly awhile ago, and I kicked myself for missing the screenings, but now I don't feel so bad. Palace intrigue is one of my favorite niche genres, but this is really more in the "stubborn principled man against the world" tradition of Zinnemann's earlier High Noon. The landscape and architectural pillow shots during the opening credits had me optimistic, and the nature shots, especially anything with water, tend to be excellent, as does a long crane take early on. Most of the runtime, though, is scenes of characters talking (no complaints in theory), most of which feel stilted and stagey, with serviceable, occasionally clunky blocking. The dialogue itself isn't, by and large, particularly captivating, with occasionally sharp repartee and a bit to nibble on about the consequences of complacency. The character interactions and betrayals which form the basis of the film feel somewhat tepid and inconsequential until the inevitable end, largely because the characters themselves are so two-dimensional and there's so little development given to the relationships between characters on which the dramatic tension hangs (specifically More's with Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell). The performances are a hodgepodge of subdued and excessive, with Paul Scofield's eyebrows doing most of the heavy lifting. Orson Welles has a small role looking like a wrecked shell of himself, hurt to see. Anyway this kind of story's been told better both before (Dreyer or Bresson's Joan of Arc movies) and more recently (Silence, A Hidden Life).

The Tenant (Polanski, 1976) 9/10

Don't have too much to say about this one considering how much it affected me, but it's one of the most visceral and frightening portrayals of paranoia and erosion of identity I've seen, themes that have a lot of personal relevance to me. I find it increasingly difficult to separate art from the artist, but damn, Polanski knew how to build a mood, down to the small touches -- oranges falling under a hospital bed, a car passing inches behind the lead, a door smacking into his face. There's a palpable sense of unease, with claustrophobic framing, disorienting editing, and a dearth of establishing shots and context. I don't know how Polanski got Sven Nykvist to shoot this, but his way of bringing eerie beauty out of what would otherwise be dull and drab scenery is put to excellent use. I also don't know how good an actor Polanski is, but he cast himself perfectly as the lead, and I found myself relating to his ticks, sweating, and difficulties parsing meaning to an unnerving degree. Unnerving is an apt choice of adjective for the whole experience -- a new horror favorite.

Man of the West (Mann, 1958) (rewatch) 8/10

Ah, this was a throwback. I think this tale of a reformed man confronting his old violent life was the first Anthony Mann film I saw, before I got deep into old Hollywood and he became one of my favorite of its purveyors. Though my attitude toward the studio system has become a bit jaded since then, there's no denying the effortless fluidity and charm of its 40s and 50s output, especially when such a well-oiled machine is in capable hands. It's remarkable how far a bit of vision and a great deal of technical prowess can go, two things that have been increasingly sparse in Hollywood for a number of decades. Mann is such an experienced craftsman that even his less showy later work like this has a distinctive look, a murky washed-out grandeur that anticipates the dusty, mythic style of the spaghetti westerns that would soon follow. There's a fight scene as visceral and pathetic as I'd imagine spontaneous violence actually would be, and the screeching death of a mute badman later strikes the same chord. And of course the eventual shootout is immaculately directed and Mann gets in a couple rounds of his famous multi-tiered climaxes. It's only really psychologically penetrating by the standards of the Hollywood machine, but it's undoubtedly a discerning deconstruction of the haunted, wasted, vicious depths behind archetypes that loom so large in the American mythos.

The Quince Tree Sun (Erice, 1992) 9/10

"We would talk for hours and hours. We were discovering the world. We'd probably be bored to death now."

I'd say something about watching paint dry, but that'd be low-hanging fruit. What begins as a meticulous journal of the artistic process as a painter tries to capture the quince tree in his backyard develops into a textured exploration of space and ultimately reveals itself to be a poignant reflection on the passage of time. The artist Lopez Garcia's process focuses obsessively on how to best capture his subject through his lens, rather than what spin to put on that subject, and this is mirrored in Erice's hypnotically observant style of direction. I, of course, felt most connected to it during its more abstract, oneiric moments, but it's spellbinding throughout. Another one I'd love to see on film.

Love Streams (Cassavettes, 1984) 6/10

As much as I admire Cassavettes' approach and have many favorites that bear marks of his influence, I always feel at a distance to his work and often find it a bit of a slog. His films feel true to life, but not necessarily the parts of life I find compelling, and there's a lot of droning inconsequential dialogue to sit through for the odd moments of spontaneous poetry and emotional payoff. The scattershot editing, verite shot selection, and improvisational performances give this the feel of a scrapbook of miserable assholes self-destructing. Which could also describe my favorite Cassavettes, Husbands, and I could see this being a favorite of his hardcore fans, but this is more confined and subdued where that has more the feel of an adventurous romp. Cassavettes' decrepit sleaziness and Rowlands' frantic fragility both grated on my nerves, but I came to like both Rowlands' character and the siblings' bond more as things went on. One scene toward the end had me laughing my ass off and I was pleasantly surprised by the surreal touches introduced late in the game.

The Draughtsman's Contract (Greenaway, 1982) 8/10

I've been watching a spate of unconventional films lately, but it's still delightful to encounter something so provocatively one-of-a-kind as this. Its sensibilities land somewhere between Sternberg and Wes Anderson, with a more painterly eye and more dense intellectual obfuscation. The imagery is gorgeous, and in another context and rhythm might take on more poetic aspects, but here is in the service of a quirky, ironic sensibility. The visual and verbal styles overall seem to belong more to "serious" cinema than to what amounts to a sex comedy cum erotic thriller, and this winking approach is both refreshing and a bit unsatisfying when you realize there's not much more there than meets the eye and ear. Still, many of the shots, through pure loveliness or aesthetic force, transcend their pithy purpose. Between this cinematographic eye candy and the scads of brisk witty banter and devious plotting, this is compulsively watchable and worth revisiting. More essential hermetic shelter-in-place viewing, and a good follow-up to Quince Tree of the Sun.

The Hour of the Furnaces (Getino/Solanas, 1968) 10/10

"This is not a space for spectators, or enemy’s accomplices, but for only the authors and protagonists in the process that this films tries to document and explain."

[Gulp.] This is radical filmmaking at its most radical -- I don't think I've ever seen a film blatantly advocate and justify violent revolution. It's really something difficult to describe: overwhelming, incendiary polemic spurred on by the successes of Algeria, Cuba, Vietnam, and early Peronism; relentless chronicle of the brutal, bitter modern Argentine history and manifesto for what must follow; precise, rigorous treatise on revolutionary political philosophy, with a moral weight beyond any fictional cinematic tragedy. It reconceptualizes film form itself as a revolutionary act: overlaying essays on found footage and raw portraits of and glimpses at a country in crisis; interpolating epigrams from the likes of Franz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, and Che and Fidel; replacing traditional intermissions with "espacios abiertos para el dialogo;" ultimately judging its own success only by the extent to which its conclusions are acted upon. The imagery, sometimes lyrical, sometimes stark, sears the camera in a way I've never seen outside silent film; the interviews and testimonials give abstract concepts human substance and bring slivers of history to vivid life. It ends optimistically but inconclusively, with room for further contributions and testimony from freedom fighters on the way to the national and international liberation from imperial powers it previsages.

I remember my 9th grade biology teacher Ms. Sanderson saying that she in the 60s she felt herself to be a political centrist, but now found herself way left of the median, and I always wondered quite what she meant and kind of doubted the accuracy of her perspective, but as I get older I understand better. Something equivalent to this today would never get any kind of wide distribution, and it's a terrifying realization in response to something so forward-looking that we're living in and enjoying the privileges of a future where the bad guys won (and there's no ambiguity as to the identities of the bad buys: the genocide perpetrated and propagated by the colonial powers of Spain, England, and subsequently the US are laid bare -- how easy to forget and hard to keep track of all the evil our country has committed throughout history and the world). How did we get from there to this self-interested apathy and collaboration; how did urgent, life-or-death politics devolve to quibbling over trivialities, when so few of the problems that instilled that urgency have yet been resolved? It seems all the distractions and conveniences of modern life have replaced religion as the opiate of the masses and completely shifted the focus of the political paradigm.

Anyhow, this is one of the most incredible film experiences I've had in years, one that not only renews my passion for cinematic form and its potential but inspires me to be a better human being and work toward a more just world. I'll leave you with a few of the excerpts I found most powerful, which stretch their relevance temporally and indict all of us in one way or another:

"Gold and coffee, meat and oil, grain and tin: the labor of a people reduced to cheap manpower has built the wealth of the great powers."

"In Latin America, the war is waged principally in the minds of men. Ideological frontiers replace conventional ones. The means of mass communication replace conventional weapons.”

“Only those within battles will win or lose them.”

“What is commonly understood by solidarity, is just a form of piteous charity and satisfies more those who give than those who receive it.”

“The regime involves in its crimes all who don’t fight them directly.”

And, given the half-century that's followed, the most tragic of all:

“If 500,000 Marines, the elite of the American army, couldn’t overcome the small heroic people of Vietnam, how many millions will they need to face and fight against more than two thirds of humanity: 700 million Chinese, the Cubans, the Koreans, the Latin Americans, the socialist countries, the Africans, the Arabs, the black Americans, and the progressive forces of the industrialized countries? Imperialism has no chance at all.”

Senso (Visconti, 1954) 10/10

Damn, this and Hour of the Furnaces in the same day. What struck me first was its warm, dusky, almost milky palate; I don't think I've seen another film with quite that weathered postcard look, and I'm curious to know how Visconti and d.p. GR Aldo managed it (the color process at the time may've had a lot to do with it). Between this quality of light, the grace of the camera, the coordination of movement within shots, and the exhaustive sumptuousness of the production design, it's one of the most visually rich and stimulating movies I've seen. All this combined with the rapturous temperamental swings of a doomed wartime romance make this the first Visconti I've seen to truly earn the description operatic, the word I find most often associated with his mature period. On top of all that, I just wasn't expecting it to hit me so hard emotionally -- that ending was a gut punch to the soul. This immediately impresses me as one of those unequivocal masterpieces of the medium.

I Was Born, But... (Ozu, 1932) 8/10

Ah, I haven't watched a silent in a while. I remember my old pal tosser used to say that silent film should be considered a separate medium from sound, and at least for narrative film I kind of see what he's saying: the meaning of a film's images change when they, including intertitles, are the only means of conveying its story and feelings. It necessitates a different approach to directing and acting, and therefore a different way of analyzing those aspects. I think I got enough of them in early on to be able to readjust to that different form of movie-watching, but it really is like switching to another language, and I can see why it's easy for people who aren't movie geeks to zone out -- especially today when the visual aspects of film are increasingly irrelevant to their meaning other than as decoration. It's also interesting how much the styles of the silent medium stick with directors who came to fame in that era -- people with as diverse styles as, say, Ozu, Sternberg, and Lang all retained more of the aesthetics of silents than their sound-era counterparts, giving their sound films unique styles.

Near Dark (Bigelow, 1987) 5/10

This was fine, but not really my cup of tea. I have a tough time evaluating straight-up genre films -- I feel like the reasons people watch movies like this and what they get out of them are much different than the kind of enjoyment I get from watching movies. I watched this with my girlfriend so I wasn't taking any notes, but I dunno, I liked some of the shots.

Burning (Lee, 2019) 2/10

I'd only seen Oasis from Lee Chang-dong prior to this, and enjoyed it a lot in high school, and I usually like aimless wandering type movies, but damn this was insufferable. Strewn with vague socioeconomic signifiers to establish unearned relevance, ambiguous to the point of vapidity, and shot in a student film/Netflix original movie style. In its more philosophically transparent moments it comes off as asinine and corny. In fact it frequently comes off as asinine and corny, never moreso than in a scene where the three leads smoke weed together. I guess the tension is supposed to come from the internal life of the protagonist, but it's not conveyed in any way I could feel, and when the dramatic payoff comes it just feels random and uncathartic. There are so many films that deal with this subtle buildup of tension in an aimless protagonist so much better -- Twentynine Palms, Battle in Heaven, Last Days spring to mind from recentish years -- that I was really stunned by how poorly conveyed it is here. Usually with acclaimed films I can at least understand the hype, but I found nothing to appreciate here. I may've been more receptive in a different mood or if I saw it in a theater, and I did like a few of the scenes of the lead just wandering, as pedestrian as they are visually.

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#6

Post by kongs_speech » April 12th, 2020, 9:59 pm

I had a lot of things to do this week and my chronic fatigue has been worse than usual, so I only managed to get in nine films, five of which were for this forum.

The Soul of the Bone (2004, Cao Guimarães) This naturalistic documentary was my big winner in this round of the World Cup, even if most people ranked it lower. One of my favorite things about film is seeing people and experiences that are very different from my own life, so spending some time with a Brazilian hermit is right in my wheelhouse. I can easily see how someone could find the first thirty minutes insufferable, as the hermit collects rain water and goes about his normal routine without saying a word. It's very much "slow cinema." However, I found it fascinating, especially when he began telling stories later in the film. I think this is a masterpiece of subtle documentary filmmaking and a major hidden gem. 4.5/5

I fotografia (1986, Nikos Papatakis) I'm a bit of an odd duck, in that I was totally captivated by The Soul of the Bone but bored by this far more story-driven film. I found it visually drab and couldn't get engaged in the plot or characters. In the week since I watched it, it has faded from my memory already. I had to consult Letterboxd to even remember the basic plot. I suppose the actors did good work, but I don't understand Greek, so they could have been terrible for all I know. 2.5/5

Zigeunerweisen (1980, Seijun Suzuki) I can't say I followed the narrative all that well, but I was highly entertained by Japan's World Cup entry. I can always appreciate surrealism, so the 144 minute runtime proved to be no problem. I look forward to seeing more from Suzuki. 4/5

Korczak (1990, Andrzej Wajda) Beautifully photographed in black and white, Wajda's Korczak is one of the most gripping and unusual Holocaust films I've seen. This harrowing film tells the true story of Dr. Janusz Korczak, a doctor who tried his best to protect Jewish orphans in occupied Poland. The ending is unforgettable. 4/5

For Ever Mozart (1996, Jean-Luc Godard) Godard's later works seem to have very little interest in narrative, though this one does tell a fragmented story that is engaging if not always coherent. Last week, I watched Helas pour moi. I liked it, but this film was more enjoyable to me. It's experimental Godard, though still mostly accessible. It was my 14th of his features, and I hope to see many others soon. 4/5

Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003, Thom Andersen) What a gripping masterwork of an essay film. As Andersen shows clips from countless films and narrates his feelings on the history of Los Angeles' representation on film, I learned so much about the history of the city and cinema itself. One minor complaint would be that the section on black filmmakers feels somewhat tacked on at the very end, but I suppose you have to give him credit for including them at all. Overall, though, it's an incredible doc. 4.5/5

The White Reindeer (1952, Erik Blomberg) The ICM Forum's film of the week was a Finnish horror treat in the vein of Val Lewton's productions. I particularly felt it was similar to Cat People, which is a compliment, even if I prefer the underrated sequel The Curse of the Cat People. There are some really stunning images in this film. I predicted the ending, but it's powerful nevertheless. 4/5

Delicatessen (1991, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro) Given the cannibalistic subject matter of Delicatessen, I was expecting a truly disturbing film, maybe something comparable to The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. To my surprise, it's actually sort of delightful and a total blast to watch. It's a dark comedy with engaging characters and some of the most stunning production design I've seen in a long time. I don't think I'll ever forget the image of the guy sitting in his swampy, frog-filled apartment. 4/5

Southland Tales (2006, Richard Kelly) When I first saw Southland Tales in late 2007 or early 2008, I was a teenager just getting into film, but I knew Richard Kelly was onto something special. My fanatical love of it led me to bond with a guy who became one of my best friends who I still talk to every day. Over the years, though, I had cooled off a bit on it. I still believed it to be a misunderstood masterpiece, but I hadn't watched it since about 2010. Having revisited it last week, I now feel confident in saying it is one of the greatest films ever made. It's stunning how ambitious Kelly's vision is, and what's even more stunning is that he pulls it off about 99.8% of the time. I love films that take risks and swing for the fences, and Southland Tales can never be accused of playing it safe. It has proven to be incredibly visionary in regards to predicting the direction America has drifted in since the film's release. The satire is simultaneously funny and bleak, the casting is incredible, and the climax is almost unbearably beautiful. Without a doubt, one of my top 10 films. 5/5
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#7

Post by Onderhond » April 13th, 2020, 9:14 am

@sol:
Alice in Wonderland (2.0*) certainly wasn't the worst Disney film of that time, but the songs still dragged it down for me. Also the flat Disney look just isn't all that appealing. Also seen Hollywood or Bust (1.5*), which I probably rated a little too low, as it's one of Lewis/Martin's more memorable films. And that dog of course. I've seen Thelma too, but was kind of underwhelmed by that one. A bit tired of arthouse directors botching up genre films.

@prodigalgodson
Only seen Near Dark (2.5*) of yours, which I rated the same. Started out pretty decent, but once it tried to become a real horror flick it fell flat. Bigelow's not my director, most of what she does is pretty mediocre. (in fact, looked it up and I have 5 x 2.5*)

@kongs_speech
Delicatessen (4.5*) is a big favorite of mine, close tie for being Jeunet's best film. Southland Tales (3.0*) is also a film I quite liked, though unique as it was, I don't remember much of the details. Just that is was weird and off-kilter (and better than Kelly's other films. Zigeunerweisen (1.5*) was a letdown though. I love weird Suzuki, but found Zigeunerweisen to be a bit tepid compared to his crazier films. Pistol Opera is my personal favorite.

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#8

Post by sol » April 13th, 2020, 11:20 am

Onderhond wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 9:14 am
@sol:
Alice in Wonderland (2.0*) certainly wasn't the worst Disney film of that time, but the songs still dragged it down for me. Also the flat Disney look just isn't all that appealing. Also seen Hollywood or Bust (1.5*), which I probably rated a little too low, as it's one of Lewis/Martin's more memorable films. And that dog of course. I've seen Thelma too, but was kind of underwhelmed by that one. A bit tired of arthouse directors botching up genre films.
I'm not too big on classic Disney either, but Alice in Wonderland really felt like something else altogether to me. Of course, a lot of it has to do with the source material, but it was refreshingly to see a family-fun studio like Disney embracing some of the darkness. I wasn't expecting that. I also agree about the flat animation - at least in terms of character design. The Mad Hatter is especially simple-looking. The backgrounds are just grand though - especially the limited and distorting sense of space in the room with the locked door and shrinking potion. I could bask in some of those backdrops for a long, long time.

Yep, the dog was a definite highlight of Hollywood or Bust. The puppetry for when it raises its pause is a little crude, but those long shots of the dog simply zipping along in the front seat of the car, confounding drivers who are run off the road etc, is pure Frank Tashlin gold. Not sure where I would rank among the Martin & Lewis collaborations, but it would probably be near if not at the top.

I didn't really know what to expect with Thelma, which always helps. I had heard it described as a film about girl grappling with her supernatural powers, but this seems to undercut much of what the film is about with a psychosomatic quality to her seizures possibly inducing by ignoring her religious upbringing. Watching joachimt's film did make me yearn for The Fits though, which I found even more mysterious and atmospheric.

Yours:

Big fan of Mean Girls, which was likewise a surprise to me the first time round. I am now up to two or three viewings. Agreed about the corniness of the denouement, but this one really worked for me overall - and I loved Lindsay Lohan's performance. How many films can you say that about?

Manhattan Murder Mystery has a special place in my heart as the first Woody Allen film that I ever saw - though I did not love it either the first time round. Definitely went up in my esteem upon revision - Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston are especially fun with their fascination with the mystery.

Absolutely loved Clueless the two times that I saw it, but it has been a while. Especially liked Alicia Silverstone's performance and the song soundtrack. The film is nicely spoofed too in Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" video clip. Look that up if you haven't come across it.
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#9

Post by mightysparks » April 13th, 2020, 12:24 pm

Mean Girls and Clueless are both 1/10 for me :whistling:
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#10

Post by peeptoad » April 13th, 2020, 12:40 pm

Hi sol...
Going forward I think I'll only post FTVs here, unless I see a rewatch that really moves me.
These are for the last 8-9 days since I think I forgot a few last week-

Pociag (1959) Night Train 9
Pather Panchali (1955) 8
Mississippi Burning (1988) 8
Orpheus (1950) 8
Ansiktet (1958) The Magician 8
Kon-Tiki (1950) 7+
Terror is a Man (1959) 7
Edge of Fury (1958) 7
Czlowiek na torze (1957) Man on the Tracks 7
Män som hatar kvinnor (2009) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 7
Five (1951) 7
The Mad Magician (1954) 7
Fright (1956) 5
The Man Who Turned to Stone (1957) 5
Without Name (2016) 5
Draug (2018) 4

shorts-
Tire Die (1951) Toss Me a Dime 8
Eaux D'Artifice (1953) 7
Rabbit's Moon (1950) 7
The Tell-tale Heart (1953) 7

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#11

Post by peeptoad » April 13th, 2020, 12:45 pm

selected, brief responses since I have to work in a few minutes (remotely, of course)-

yours-
The Queen of Spades (1949) 9
The Demon (1963) 8
House of Wax (1953) 7
Gladiatorerna (1969) 6
Thale (2012) 6

prodigalgodson-
The Tenant (1976) 9 agree with all you said. This one is second only to Repulsion n Polanski's filmography for me.

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#12

Post by sol » April 13th, 2020, 1:15 pm

peeptoad wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 12:45 pm
selected, brief responses since I have to work in a few minutes (remotely, of course)-

yours-
The Queen of Spades (1949) 9
The Demon (1963) 8
House of Wax (1953) 7
Gladiatorerna (1969) 6
Thale (2012) 6
Gee, The Queen of Spades is easily my least favourite of that bunch. How recently have you seen it? The final third of the film as Anton Walbrook gradually begins to lose his grip on reality is great, but I found the first hour to be a real chore.

Nice though to see a strong rating for The Demon - my favourite discovery of this year's Doubling the Canon nominations so far. Your other ratings seem reasonably fair/similar to my own. Thale was probably the one among them that most exceeded my expectations since I'm usually not a fan of folklore horror-fantasy. Gladiatorerna was a film that I had long searched for and it did not really disappoint.

I can thank Lonewolf for intriguing me to finally intriguing me to give House of Wax a whirl after our discussion last week. I was pretty underwhelmed by the 1933 original back in the day, so I went into it with low expectations and I liked it enough even if I thought that the story had potential for more.

Yours:

Seen Mississippi Burning a couple of times over the years but not recently. Solid film. It has been ages for Bergman's The Magician too, but I have it ranked in my top 10 out of 30+ films seen from the Swedish great. Excellent Ingrid Thulin performance in particular if I recall correctly. I cannot remember a lot of the similarly titled The Mad Magician either, but I did like it. Man on the Tracks did nothing for me at the time, but I would not rule out revisiting it at some point.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a big disappointment for me when I watched it for the 2018 Nordic Challenge. Still never seen the sequels - or the Fincher remake. I might give the Fincher film a go this month (it is DTC nominated) since he's usually a classy director, but the expectation level for me is low. I do generally like Rooney Mara though.
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#13

Post by peeptoad » April 13th, 2020, 2:54 pm

sol wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 1:15 pm
peeptoad wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 12:45 pm
selected, brief responses since I have to work in a few minutes (remotely, of course)-

yours-
The Queen of Spades (1949) 9
The Demon (1963) 8
House of Wax (1953) 7
Gladiatorerna (1969) 6
Thale (2012) 6
Gee, The Queen of Spades is easily my least favourite of that bunch. How recently have you seen it? The final third of the film as Anton Walbrook gradually begins to lose his grip on reality is great, but I found the first hour to be a real chore.

Nice though to see a strong rating for The Demon - my favourite discovery of this year's Doubling the Canon nominations so far. Your other ratings seem reasonably fair/similar to my own. Thale was probably the one among them that most exceeded my expectations since I'm usually not a fan of folklore horror-fantasy. Gladiatorerna was a film that I had long searched for and it did not really disappoint.

I can thank Lonewolf for intriguing me to finally intriguing me to give House of Wax a whirl after our discussion last week. I was pretty underwhelmed by the 1933 original back in the day, so I went into it with low expectations and I liked it enough even if I thought that the story had potential for more.

Yours:

Seen Mississippi Burning a couple of times over the years but not recently. Solid film. It has been ages for Bergman's The Magician too, but I have it ranked in my top 10 out of 30+ films seen from the Swedish great. Excellent Ingrid Thulin performance in particular if I recall correctly. I cannot remember a lot of the similarly titled The Mad Magician either, but I did like it. Man on the Tracks did nothing for me at the time, but I would not rule out revisiting it at some point.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a big disappointment for me when I watched it for the 2018 Nordic Challenge. Still never seen the sequels - or the Fincher remake. I might give the Fincher film a go this month (it is DTC nominated) since he's usually a classy director, but the expectation level for me is low. I do generally like Rooney Mara though.

I saw The Queen of Spades about 15-20 years ago and it was rated 8.5-9 right off the bat. I really can't recall what I liked so much about it, but I'd be willing to watch it again in order to find out. I've almost never rated a film that high and then had the rating go down significantly on rewatch, but I'm curious based on how much you didn't like it.

I agree Thulin was solid in The Magician. Truthfully, I still have to see many of the older classics (like Criterion ilk stuff). Since I began my movie-watching career watching fantasy, sci fi, exploitation, arthhouse bizarre, etc. and nothing in my life has really served to steer me away from that path, I'm underseen in some non-related, critical areas. I've got the kanopy app and more spare time, so I'll be seeing a few more from that library this month for sure.

Il demonio was indeed excellent... beautifully filmed and unsettling, with images that got burned into my retinas for awhile afterwards. That one is due for another view as well....

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#14

Post by Lonewolf2003 » April 13th, 2020, 4:01 pm

My viewing last week:

Adventure in the Hopfields (1954, John Guillermin): 7.5 - It gives a great (neo)realistic depiction of how Londoners spent their holidays hop-picking in the 50s, with at its core a sweet kids movie about a little girl who accidentally breaks her mother's favorite porcelain dog, so she runs away to go hop-picking to earn enough to buy a new one.

India Song (1975, Marguerite Duras): 7.0 - Like I said last week I didn't hate it, nor loved it. Cause sol said better than I can, this review is partly copy-pasted from him; It's tedious at time but it does succeed in capturing the boredom and purposelessness that the characters feel in a foreign country, which i enhanced by the sublime score (the best thing of this movie) and the deliberate framing (lots of mirrors) is superb.

The Camp on Blood Island (1958, Val Guest): 5.5 - This Hammer movie about Prisoners of War in a Japanese prison camp has two major faults for which the movie received a lot of deserved critical backlash in its day and still diminish the viewing pleasure of this. Firstly it plays the many atrocities committed by the sadistic Japanese camp commandant for sensationalism. In this respect it almost is more a predecessor of exploitation movies than a companion of more serious war movies dealing with the horrors in prison camps. Secondly and most importantly the Japanese are all made out to be stereotypical villains, that seem to come straight out of those propaganda cartoons. This even made worse by the fact that they are all being played by British actors in unconvincing make-up. This is really too bad because the movie does have a very good premise to make for a suspenseful movie with lots at stakes; the prisoners secretly found out the war ended already but have to keep the camp commandant from finding this out, because he sworn to kill this whole and a female camp if Japan loses the war. Plus with André Morell as the steadfast British colonel leading the PoWs it has a great lead. So this could have been way better without those two huge diminishing factors, cause when one looks past those (which is very hard to do) it is a solid entertaining movie.

Yesterday's Enemy (1959, Val Guest): 7.0 - As a reaction against all the backlash Camp on Blood Island received, Hammer quickly made another war movie, again with Val Guest at the helm. This one is about a group of soldier (I never known all the correct military terms and differences between platoons, battalions etc.) that is on the run from the Japanese in the Burmese jungle and take shelter in a small jungle village. The big surprises comes when the British captain decides to threaten and exactly have two innocent Burmese villagers shot to get important information from a Burmese collaborator (Yes this movie made only 15 years after the war ended actually has a British officer commit a war crime!). This leads of course to discussions between a priest plus a journalist as the voice of civilization and reason and the captain who feels in all all is fair in war, cause it saves the lives of thousand others. The real twist comes when
SpoilerShow
the British are captured and the Japanese officer uses the same threat by threatening to shot his men if the captain doesn't confesses.
In doing so the movie smartly makes us (re)question if the means justifies the means. Contrary to the previous movie the Japanese officer is portrayed as educated civil man, who clearly is the intellectual superior of the British soldier. Plus this time he and the other Japanese are played by actual Asians. Besides raising this this important issue about what's fair in war, it also is a very decently made entertaining movie, especially the action scene are very solid. The fact that the movie doesn't have a score also stands out.

Il Generale della Rovere (1959, Roberto Rossellini): 7.5 - Contrary to his famous neorealistic movies in which he portrayed fictional events realistically, here Rossellini actualy emphasizes at times that this a fictional retelling of real events by contrasting clear studio shots with real (archival) footage. Another interesting way to read this movie is as a movie about directing and acting, with the colonel Müller as the director and Bardone as the actor losing himself in his part. Of course one also can just enjoy this a good gripping movie about a cheat transforming himself in a hero played by a excellent De Sica.

Higanbana (Equinox Flower) (1958, Yasujiro Ozu): 8.5 - another nuanced gentle portrayal of family live with young women of marriage age and their parents from Ozu, which is also surprisingly funny at times when seeing through the hypocrisy of the stern patriarch.

Chichi ariki [There Was a Father] (1942, Yasujiro Ozu): 7.8

Viva Maria! (1965, Louis Malle): 5.0 - Clearly a vehicle to cash in on the (sex) appeal of Bardot and Moreau. The two do play off each other well. But the comic portrayal of a violent revolution is tone-deaf and the comedy isn't even that funny.

Calcutta (1969,Louis Malle): 6.8 - interesting portrayal of Calcutta in the late 60s which probably made more impact on viewers then than that it did now on me.

Le souffle au coeur [Murmur of the Heart] (1971, Louis Malle) (rewatch): 8.5 > 8.5 - This movie is infamous for its incestuous scene, rewatching I rediscovered to my surprise what a tiny part that actually is of the movie. This mostly is a great coming of age movie that feels like a spiritual successor to Les Quatre Cents Coups. Biggest difference with my former self is that I found the behavior of these spoilt kids, especially the two brothers, more disdainful.

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#15

Post by prodigalgodson » April 14th, 2020, 3:23 am

Argggh, got logged out and had to start over.

sol
Alice in Wonderland - haven't seen it since I was very young, when it struck me more as unsettling than scary, I might well enjoy it more now
Billy Budd - might have to check this out, Ryan's gone from an actor I didn't care for to one of my favorite studio-era standards over the years

pda
The Man Who Left His Will on Film - ah nice, I gotta check this out given Oshima's significance in the evolution of my film-watching; I'll watch that trailer later

onderhond
Mean Girls 5/10 - I love Tina Fey, but this didn't do much for me other than being watchable
Highlander 6/10 - yeah, cheesy and of its time, but fun enough
The Band Wagon 5/10 - yeah, I love Minnelli and Hollywood self-commentary but meh
Clueless 8/10 - aged poorly? as if!

joachim
Django 7/10 - I'm not a big spaghetti western fan but this was pretty good; Corbucci's Navajo Joe from the same year was terrible, while his The Great Silence is one of my favorite westerns
Hobbs & Shaw 4/10 - don't care much for this franchise and this was no exception
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 7/10 - the best book and one of the better movies
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 6/10 - probably the worst book, but not a bad movie, the series had kind of found a formula that worked by this point
Twentynine Palms 10/10 - ah, this went right to my top 10 when I first it, though it's been too long for me to defend it in any detail; mostly I remember it being one of the most vivid renderings of desert landscape and atmosphere (something I've always been obsessed with anyhow), capturing not just the visual aspects but the pervasive sense of unease and daunting potential that comes with losing oneself in such an undefined, sparse, alien environment; the lucid sense of place and masterful accumulation of tension and dread made it so that the excessive, terrifying, borderline meta catharsis of the finale was just icing on the cake; also I think I read on the last film watched thread you or someone saying you never had a sense of why the couple was out there, but I remember pretty specifically the guy was there scouting locations for a film and brought his girlfriend (RIP Yekaterina Golubeva) along to get a bit of a vacation out of the deal

kongs_speech
Los Angeles Plays Itself - ah, gotta check this out; surprised the stuff about black filmmakers was just shoehorned in -- I guess this was before the recent restoration and touring of LA Rebellion films, but that generation of UCLA students in the 70s created one of the most significant black independent film movements in the US
Delicatessen 6/10 - much like Amelie, I enjoyed it, but it was a fleeting enjoyment
Southland Tales 6/10 - cool you liked this so much -- I don't remember much about it except that it wasn't quite to my sensibilities but I liked its ambition and eagerness to do something different, and I certainly liked it a lot more than Donnie Darko

peeptoad
Pather panchali 8/10 - liked this a lot years ago, but I should revisit this, especially given how much I loved The World of Apu and a couple other Rays when I revisited him a couple years ago
Orpheus 9/10 - awesome and appropriately poetic, much more up my alley than Beauty and the Beast
Eaux d'artifice 7/10 - thought it was one of the best things I'd seen when I was first discovering experimental film, saw it again recently and it's like...it's good?
Rabbit's Moon 8/10 - love the shorter later cut of this (it came in the night, it came in the night, it came in the night, night...)

lonewolf
India Song 10/10 - aw, at least you didn't hate it lol
General della Rovere - wow, sounds awesome; I like Rossellini's later style waaay more than that of his more famous neorealist output

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#16

Post by sol » April 14th, 2020, 4:09 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 3:23 am
sol
Alice in Wonderland - haven't seen it since I was very young, when it struck me more as unsettling than scary, I might well enjoy it more now
Billy Budd - might have to check this out, Ryan's gone from an actor I didn't care for to one of my favorite studio-era standards over the years
I would agree about Alice in Wonderland being more "unsettling than scary". It does not play out like a frightening nightmare as such; it just has general nightmarish aesthetics, plus a whole lot of creepy stuff. Damn, that oyster story still sends shivers down my spine thinking back on it. The whole thing is really cool either way as something going completely against the grain of Disney films until that point in time.

Choosing between Act of Violence and Billy Budd for a best Robert Ryan performance is a tough one, but I would probably go with Billy Budd, so definitely check it out if you're into Ryan. On one hand, he is the power-hungry, sadistic villain of the piece; on the other hand, he is a relatable human being trying to take a little pleasure in a life that has given him so little. Upon second viewing, I was less certain about his character being a closeted homosexual, but I think it is quite heavily implied (especially with his interest in young Budd) so I would be curious to hear someone else's take on this.

Yours:

I love your description of The Tenant as "one of the most visceral and frightening portrayals of paranoia and erosion of identity". Great film. I found Man of the West to be a curious precursor of sorts to Cronenberg's A History of Violence, what with the protagonist trying to leave a violent past behind him and encountering figures from his past who want him to once again be the man he once was.

It has been too long (10+ years) for me to comment on any of your other viewings in depth, but I liked Robert Shaw quite a bit in A Man for All Seasons and thought the film was decent enough at the time. The Draughtsman's Contract was a mild disappointment at the time, at least coming off the back of a then-recent viewing of A Zed & Two Noughts, but amazing Michael Nyman music score as always. I liked I Was Born, But... enough at the time, which is interesting since the only other silent Ozu that I have seen (Tokyo Chorus) did nothing for me.

Near Dark would probably be an interesting film to revisit. I wasn't big into it at the time despite some interesting mythology - blood transfusions or something to cure vampirism if I recall correctly? No mention of Tangerine Dream's music score? That's what I remember most vividly of the film.
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#17

Post by joachimt » April 14th, 2020, 12:46 pm

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 3:23 am
joachim
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 7/10 - the best book and one of the better movies
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 6/10 - probably the worst book, but not a bad movie, the series had kind of found a formula that worked by this point
"found a formula"
Quite right, but for me it mostly feels like rerunning the same things. Apart from the same things this time (Half-Blood Prince) there was some teenage love included, but that didn't fit very well. The movie also left me with unanswered questions: in the end we know who the half-blood prince was, but what was the point about it actually and why was he called the half-blood prince?

The whole series is kinda enjoyable, but I often feel there are too many unnecessary scenes and the characters say or do illogical things. Ah well, two episodes left to go......
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#18

Post by prodigalgodson » April 14th, 2020, 9:54 pm

sol wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 4:09 am
I would agree about Alice in Wonderland being more "unsettling than scary". It does not play out like a frightening nightmare as such; it just has general nightmarish aesthetics, plus a whole lot of creepy stuff. Damn, that oyster story still sends shivers down my spine thinking back on it. The whole thing is really cool either way as something going completely against the grain of Disney films until that point in time.

Choosing between Act of Violence and Billy Budd for a best Robert Ryan performance is a tough one, but I would probably go with Billy Budd, so definitely check it out if you're into Ryan. On one hand, he is the power-hungry, sadistic villain of the piece; on the other hand, he is a relatable human being trying to take a little pleasure in a life that has given him so little. Upon second viewing, I was less certain about his character being a closeted homosexual, but I think it is quite heavily implied (especially with his interest in young Budd) so I would be curious to hear someone else's take on this.

Yours:

I love your description of The Tenant as "one of the most visceral and frightening portrayals of paranoia and erosion of identity". Great film. I found Man of the West to be a curious precursor of sorts to Cronenberg's A History of Violence, what with the protagonist trying to leave a violent past behind him and encountering figures from his past who want him to once again be the man he once was.

It has been too long (10+ years) for me to comment on any of your other viewings in depth, but I liked Robert Shaw quite a bit in A Man for All Seasons and thought the film was decent enough at the time. The Draughtsman's Contract was a mild disappointment at the time, at least coming off the back of a then-recent viewing of A Zed & Two Noughts, but amazing Michael Nyman music score as always. I liked I Was Born, But... enough at the time, which is interesting since the only other silent Ozu that I have seen (Tokyo Chorus) did nothing for me.

Near Dark would probably be an interesting film to revisit. I wasn't big into it at the time despite some interesting mythology - blood transfusions or something to cure vampirism if I recall correctly? No mention of Tangerine Dream's music score? That's what I remember most vividly of the film.
Billy Budd - groovy, I'll check it out if I come across it; I think I have the book lying around somewhere too lol
The Tenant - ay, thank you
Man of the West - great comparison, another really solid movie I'd rate about the same
The Draughtsman's Contract - yeah, it sounds perfect on paper but somehow didn't quite scratch the itch I thought it would for me; there are a number of Greenaways leaving the Criterion Channel this month, so I'm looking forward to A Zed & Two Noughts also, I've only seen The Cook... before
I Was Born, But - this was my first silent Ozu, I think my first before the 50s in fact, but it seems like a hard one not to enjoy
Near Dark - I wasn't thinking about it from a vampire mythology standpoint, but now that you mention it, the blood transfusion cure is a unique take; I liked the Tangerine Dream score, but it probably would've stood out more if I was a fan of their music

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#19

Post by prodigalgodson » April 14th, 2020, 10:03 pm

joachimt wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 12:46 pm
"found a formula"
Quite right, but for me it mostly feels like rerunning the same things. Apart from the same things this time (Half-Blood Prince) there was some teenage love included, but that didn't fit very well. The movie also left me with unanswered questions: in the end we know who the half-blood prince was, but what was the point about it actually and why was he called the half-blood prince?

The whole series is kinda enjoyable, but I often feel there are too many unnecessary scenes and the characters say or do illogical things. Ah well, two episodes left to go......
Yeah, the romance aspect is not among Rowlings' strong suits lol. Especially the Cho Chang thing, what a random arc; she usually takes a Chekov's gun approach, so it's weird for a plot thread to go absolutely nowhere. I forget if the movie makes it clear, but (spoiler) Snape's half wizard, half muggle and his mom's maiden name is Prince, hence.... It is one of the odder titles, in that it refers to what's basically a side-plot instead of the main crux (heh) of the story, though I guess the significance of the ending gives it more resonance. Deathly Hallows Part I is probably my favorite of the films, whereas Part II is easily the worst imo.

Look at me, you're bringing out my inner prepubescent Harry Potter nerd.

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#20

Post by kongs_speech » April 14th, 2020, 11:41 pm

Onderhond wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 12:04 pm
10. 3.0* - Mean Girls by Mark Waters (2004)
Quirky little comedy that makes good fun of the usual high school drama, with some pleasantly over-the-top characters and a couple of solid punchlines. The cast does a good job, there's plenty of jokes that land, only the ending was a bit too corny for my taste. Still, I had plenty of fun with this one, not something I'd expected up front.
I like Mean Girls okay, but I've cooled off on it over the years. It's definitely not as sharp as Heathers or Drop Dead Gorgeous, imo. If I want Tina Fey, I'm probably just going to watch some 30 Rock.
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#21

Post by kongs_speech » April 14th, 2020, 11:45 pm

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 3:23 am
kongs_speech
Los Angeles Plays Itself - ah, gotta check this out; surprised the stuff about black filmmakers was just shoehorned in -- I guess this was before the recent restoration and touring of LA Rebellion films, but that generation of UCLA students in the 70s created one of the most significant black independent film movements in the US
Delicatessen 6/10 - much like Amelie, I enjoyed it, but it was a fleeting enjoyment
Southland Tales 6/10 - cool you liked this so much -- I don't remember much about it except that it wasn't quite to my sensibilities but I liked its ambition and eagerness to do something different, and I certainly liked it a lot more than Donnie Darko
I haven't seen any of yours this week, but I'm currently watching Near Dark, so I'll post my thoughts in next week's thread.

If you have Kanopy, that's where I saw Los Angeles Plays Itself. The film does deal with Charles Burnett and his contemporaries, but like I said, just kind of tacked on at the end. However, the film's ambition and how fascinating it is makes it easier to forgive a flaw or two. I bet you'll like it.
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#22

Post by prodigalgodson » April 15th, 2020, 5:11 am

kongs_speech wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 11:45 pm
I haven't seen any of yours this week, but I'm currently watching Near Dark, so I'll post my thoughts in next week's thread.

If you have Kanopy, that's where I saw Los Angeles Plays Itself. The film does deal with Charles Burnett and his contemporaries, but like I said, just kind of tacked on at the end. However, the film's ambition and how fascinating it is makes it easier to forgive a flaw or two. I bet you'll like it.
Cool, look forward to it.

Ah nice, I unsubscribed from Kanopy when they dropped Criterion, but maybe I'll re-up.

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#23

Post by Lonewolf2003 » April 16th, 2020, 9:34 pm

kongs_speech wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 9:59 pm


Southland Tales (2006, Richard Kelly) When I first saw Southland Tales in late 2007 or early 2008, I was a teenager just getting into film, but I knew Richard Kelly was onto something special. My fanatical love of it led me to bond with a guy who became one of my best friends who I still talk to every day. Over the years, though, I had cooled off a bit on it. I still believed it to be a misunderstood masterpiece, but I hadn't watched it since about 2010. Having revisited it last week, I now feel confident in saying it is one of the greatest films ever made. It's stunning how ambitious Kelly's vision is, and what's even more stunning is that he pulls it off about 99.8% of the time. I love films that take risks and swing for the fences, and Southland Tales can never be accused of playing it safe. It has proven to be incredibly visionary in regards to predicting the direction America has drifted in since the film's release. The satire is simultaneously funny and bleak, the casting is incredible, and the climax is almost unbearably beautiful. Without a doubt, one of my top 10 films. 5/5
Just watched this. Yes I have to hand it to mister Kelly for having the balls to follow through on his vision and go all out, he just took the ball and ran with it. Unfortunate my reaction was the opposite from you, cause the end result is a total mess, a beautiful mess, but a mess nonetheless.

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#24

Post by kongs_speech » April 16th, 2020, 10:25 pm

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
April 16th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Just watched this. Yes I have to hand it to mister Kelly for having the balls to follow through on his vision and go all out, he just took the ball and ran with it. Unfortunate my reaction was the opposite from you, cause the end result is a total mess, a beautiful mess, but a mess nonetheless.
That's fair, a lot of people feel that way. I'm glad you at least gave it a shot! :cheers:
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#25

Post by maxwelldeux » April 17th, 2020, 12:52 am

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
April 16th, 2020, 9:34 pm
kongs_speech wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 9:59 pm


Southland Tales (2006, Richard Kelly) When I first saw Southland Tales in late 2007 or early 2008, I was a teenager just getting into film, but I knew Richard Kelly was onto something special. My fanatical love of it led me to bond with a guy who became one of my best friends who I still talk to every day. Over the years, though, I had cooled off a bit on it. I still believed it to be a misunderstood masterpiece, but I hadn't watched it since about 2010. Having revisited it last week, I now feel confident in saying it is one of the greatest films ever made. It's stunning how ambitious Kelly's vision is, and what's even more stunning is that he pulls it off about 99.8% of the time. I love films that take risks and swing for the fences, and Southland Tales can never be accused of playing it safe. It has proven to be incredibly visionary in regards to predicting the direction America has drifted in since the film's release. The satire is simultaneously funny and bleak, the casting is incredible, and the climax is almost unbearably beautiful. Without a doubt, one of my top 10 films. 5/5
Just watched this. Yes I have to hand it to mister Kelly for having the balls to follow through on his vision and go all out, he just took the ball and ran with it. Unfortunate my reaction was the opposite from you, cause the end result is a total mess, a beautiful mess, but a mess nonetheless.
Just watched this for the first time the other day - I lean towards kongs_speech... it was wacky and bizarre and brilliant and layered. I finished it and immediately have it near the top of my rewatch list. It really connected for me with the odd parallels of covid-19 right now...

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#26

Post by kongs_speech » April 17th, 2020, 2:07 am

maxwelldeux wrote:
April 17th, 2020, 12:52 am
Just watched this for the first time the other day - I lean towards kongs_speech... it was wacky and bizarre and brilliant and layered. I finished it and immediately have it near the top of my rewatch list. It really connected for me with the odd parallels of covid-19 right now...
That's awesome. Glad you loved it! Isn't the "All These Things That I've Done" dream sequence a knock-out? And it's not even my favorite moment in the film. (That would be the climactic dance on the zeppelin.)
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#27

Post by Lonewolf2003 » April 17th, 2020, 10:16 am

kongs_speech wrote:
April 17th, 2020, 2:07 am
maxwelldeux wrote:
April 17th, 2020, 12:52 am
Just watched this for the first time the other day - I lean towards kongs_speech... it was wacky and bizarre and brilliant and layered. I finished it and immediately have it near the top of my rewatch list. It really connected for me with the odd parallels of covid-19 right now...
That's awesome. Glad you loved it! Isn't the "All These Things That I've Done" dream sequence a knock-out? And it's not even my favorite moment in the film. (That would be the climactic dance on the zeppelin.)
That was one of the inspired moments in the movie I did like

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#28

Post by Onderhond » April 17th, 2020, 10:32 am

kongs_speech wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 11:41 pm
I like Mean Girls okay, but I've cooled off on it over the years. It's definitely not as sharp as Heathers or Drop Dead Gorgeous, imo. If I want Tina Fey, I'm probably just going to watch some 30 Rock.
I'll keep them in mind, but my sense of nostalgia isn't very developed and the looming 90s hype is making me a bit weary, especially of Drop Dead Gorgeous :)

My favorite film in this niche is Pretty Persuasion I think, but it's been a while since I watched that one. I remember that as quite dark and cynical though.

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#29

Post by OldAle1 » April 24th, 2020, 4:14 pm

Don't mind me, just passing through... with all the time in the world, I still can't do this on time...

This Film ROCKS
This Film SUCKS

Indestructible Man (Jack Pollexfen, 1956)

Convicted murderer "Butcher" Benton (Lon Chaney Jr) is set to die in the chair, but before he does he threatens his sleazy, crooked lawyer - who apparently was behind the crime he has been sentenced for - and his two henchmen. Of course they laugh it off but when the Butcher's body is sold to an experimental scientist doing work with electricity, well... if you've seen a few Universal horrors (usually with Karloff) or other films along this line from the 30s to the 50s, you can guess what happens. This is no great shakes overall, but it does feature some pretty good use of Los Angeles locations, including the Bradbury Building where the now apparently indestructible man (see how that title is used?) disposes one of his victims. Featured in Los Angeles Plays Itself.

Hollywoodland (Allen Coulter, 2006)

Fairly solid neo-noir take on the George Reeves suicide (or murder) case that rocked Hollywood at the end of the 1950s. Reeves was a TV star - as Superman - who always aspired to be a movie star; his first break was with a small role in Gone With the Wind and, according to the film and Ben Affleck's pretty good portrayal, never quite got over the fact that it never led to him becoming a Gable-like household name. And Superman of course typecast him. Anyway this sticks fairly close to the real events, apparently - Reeves shot himself, or was shot, in a bedroom of a house he owned while his fiancee and other guests partied in the living room below, and there was a fair amount of doubt cast on the whole incident, which also involves a shady producer/"fixer" (Bob Hoskins) and his wife, a fading glamor queen (Diane Lane). The significant made-up element in the reporter (Adrian Brody) who goes doggedly after the truth - he's a composite character - and the juxtaposition of his happy life and Reeves' is clearly there to add depth and to give the audience a feeling that this is a sort of universal story. Not sure that was needed. Anyway, the cast is really good and the story's an interesting one to anybody into old Hollywood, but I can't say that Coulter's direction is particularly special, and while the film has some feel for the Hollywood of the 50s, it doesn't quite hit all the right notes like some other modern noirs filmed there, i.e. Lynch's works or City of Industry or To Live and Die in L.A.. Feels a bit generic at times.

Salome (William Dieterle, 1953)

Every year I think, I must be getting to the very bottom of the barrel of the BIblical epic craze that afflicted American cinema from roughly 1949 (DeMille's Samson and Delilah) through 1966 (John Huston's The Bible). There weren't THAT many of them, particularly not that many of the really expensive deluxe all-star ones, but I always seem to find another stone to move and another not-so-great flick lying underneath it. Here we have Rita Hayworth as the titular character, and as usual the screenplay here is a mixture of different Biblical elements, with this Salome both the daughter of Herodias (Judith Anderson) and step-daughter of Herod (Charles Laughton, as obvious a bit of casting as you can even imagine), and also the eventual disciple of Jesus - so a Salome largely blameless for the death of John the Baptist (Alan Badel, giving probably the best performance here - this is often the case with these things, the guy playing the Baptist is usually pretty solid even when the rest of it is horseshit). Oh and we have Stewart Granger as Claudius, a totally made-up character, assistant to Pilate (Basil Sydney), on board basically as a love interest for Hayworth. Charles Lang's cinematography is quite luscious and bright as usual but the film looks rather flat and everything is a bit TOO colorful and brilliant if you ask me, perhaps as a way to mask the pretty dull screenplay and mostly bored acting on display. Mediocre all around.

Treasure of the Golden Condor (Delmer Daves/Otto Preminger, 1953)

Fun period adventure involving Jean-Paul, a late-18th-century young Frenchman (Cornel Wilde), who may or may not be the heir to a vast estate, put into indentured servitude by his (possible) uncle (George Macready having fun in a typical villain role) - his father and mother having died when he was a child, at sea, without proof of their marriage - and later escaping to Guatemala with an old treasure hunter (Finlay Currie) for the prospect of enough gold to prove his birth status and reclaim his rightful place. Not sure what Preminger did on this film but given that like Daves he was often concerned with the plight of non-white characters, it doesn't much matter, as what gives the film it's heart and soul is how the filmmakers treat the natives, and Wilde's ultimate decision at the resolution of the film. Not too typical for Hollywood at the time, let's just say. Much of this was filmed in Guatemala so it's got a more authentic feel to it than most costumed adventures of the period. Constance Smith plays Currie's daughter, and a very young Anne Bancroft the vain Comtesse who Jean-Paul grew up loving, and Fay Wray is also on board in a small part as is Leo G. Carroll. Solid if not terribly special example of the Hollywood adventure from this period, perhaps one of the models for Lucas and Spielberg decades later.

Clash of the Titans (Desmond Davis, 1981) (re-watch)

This was a fairly big hit when it came out, while I was in high school. I was just as much in love with mythology and fantasy then as I have been since, maybe moreso, so I'm not sure why I didn't see it then. Probably because I just didn't get to see many movies, and I didn't have a driver's license during that year. Anyway I think I may have seen it in the late 80s or early 90s, and then I definitely watched it around a decade ago. And was fairly unimpressed, perhaps judging it too harshly against the better effects and bigger budgets of laters 80s or 90s films, or against FX master Ray Harryhausen's earlier work. And I also thought star Harry Hamlin was a bit of a dud. I'm pleased to say I liked it considerably more this time, though I still don't think it's among the best genre offerings of it's era, or that it holds a candle to Harryhausen's best work like Jason of the Argonauts or his first Sinbad film. The FX are... erratic, some really good and some pretty mediocre - even within certain scenes at times there's a big variation, like the flying sequences. But the story - young Perseus (Hamlin) son of Zeus (Lawrence Olivier) has many adventures to win the hand of a fair princess, including killing the Medusa and the Kraken which threatens to destroy the princess' town, as it destroyed the town he was born in. The interactions of the Gods with humanity are not particularly well done - I think the film would be better without them altogether, or just in very brief moments, maybe whispers in the ears of Perseus or others - but the adventure is fun and Laurence Rosenthal's score is rousing if not terribly original.

Hong Kong Confidential (Edward L. Cahn, 1958)

Super cheap b-noir, running just over an hour, with Gene Barry as an American agent in HK trying to find the whereabouts of a kidnapped Arab prince who holds the key to American - or Soviet - dominance in his (fictitious) country. Barry's cover is as a mediocre lounge singer of all things, and he excels in this role, certainly putting more into it than most actors even in the second tier where he spent much of his career would have. The actor started out as a singer but for whatever reason by the time he broke into films in his early 30s he wasn't often called on for musical work, so it's nice to see (and hear) him in a little bit different role here. The rest of the cast is fine too - Allison Hayes, the "50 Foot Woman" is the only name of any real familiarity - and this moves along and belies it's cheapness in many ways, with a little more death and feeling for danger than is often found in these poverty row noirs. Still not anything great in the end but easily the best Cahn film I've seen so far.

The Prodigal (Richard Thorpe, 1955)

This is a bit better than Salome above, a slightly more engaging Cinemascope production that could have benefited from a more exciting lead than Edward Purdom, who plays Micah, the "prodigal" from the parable in the Gospel of Luke, the younger son of a wealthy Jew in Judea (I guess, not sure it's mentioned), who becomes transfixed by Samarra (Lana Turner) the travelling priestess of Astarte, and asks for his share in gold to follow her to Damascus and woo her, forsaking his family and his intended bride. Once there he finds out that being a Jew and trying to wed (or at least bed - this is actually a bit more risque than most films, Biblical or not, at the time) the high priestess is going to be complicated, not the least by the fact that in the first scene of the film he had saved a slave from his would-be killer/master, and said master turns out to be Nahreeb (Louis Calhern), high priest of Baal and co-equal ruler with Samarra. So Nahreeb wants revenge, and these heathen worshipers of a pantheon of gods of course hate the Jehovah believers (and are hated in return but that's OK of course in this telling). Somehow things will work out and Micah's faith will be unshaken, you can be sure, and a joyful reunion will occur, and we'll get a couple of lines from the good book, even if the story we've seen has little or nothing to do with the original parable apart from names and the basic conceit. What makes this more watchable than some is Turner's star power - even if she does seem a little uncomfortable in this silly story at times, this was I think the only such film she ever did - and Calhern's lovely brash villainy. And some pretty nice Eastmancolor photography by Joseph Ruttenberg, and some OK action, though hack director Thorpe was never one to move the camera much or do anything terribly inventive in his mise en scene. Anyway, not bad, maybe average for this genre in this period.

Cluny Brown (Ernst Lubitsch, 1946)

TCM. I can never remember if I've seen this late Lubitsch marvel; or rather, I couldn't - now I'm sure I will. I think I get it mixed up with something else but now I can't remember what - I guess a title like this that's a rather odd name just doesn't stick for some reason. Anyway on one level this is a simple two-fish-out-of-water romance, with plumber's niece (and would-be plumber herself) Jennifer Jones getting involved with intriguing Czech escapee from the Nazis Charles Boyer, in a London flat and then in the countryside manor of a very rich family who get sent Jones, their new maid, after her uncle pushes her out of the unladylike plumbing profession, just as Boyer joins them as a guest at the insistence of the politically-minded son in the family (Peter Lawford). On another and more intriguing level it's a fairly brilliant satire of class prejudices, wound up with gender disparities, educational differences, and a little bit of the rural-urban divide. And it's frequently hilarious, always charming, and unexpectedly moving at the end when there's a real argument for a more equal and tolerant society - for America I suppose as Lubitsch saw it, at it's best, as an alternative both to fascism and to old-school British classism and snobbery. The whole cast is pretty terrific, including Lawford who I usually find dull, Helen Walker as his seemingly shallow but deceptively bright girlfriend, and especially Richard Haydn as the fussy chemist who takes a fancy to Jones before discovering that she's not as firmly "in her place" as he - or most of the characters in the film apart from Jones and Boyer - would like her to be. Top 5 Lubitsch and the best film of the month so far, easily.


The Magical World of Disney: Mars and Beyond (Ward Kimball, 1957) (re-watch)

I thought I remembered seeing this from childhood - we used to watch "The Wonderful World of Disney" every weekend, I think it was Sunday night at 6pm CST, through a good chunk of the 70s. Then it started out in b/w and I wasn't sure...then it switched to color and those dim memories began to resurface. This is in several parts, with sections devoted to man's slow process of learning astronomy, followed by a discussion of evolution, then depictions of how man might live (or, mostly, not) on the other planets, then an imagination of Martian life-forms, and finally a trip to the planet using a fairly wild (at least for the 50s) experimental spacecraft, or rather a half-dozen spacecraft. Most of this is animated and the animation varies wildly - it's all certainly competent and well-crafted as you'd expect from Disney but the styles sometimes really don't jibe with the narration (by Paul Frees) or content, at least to my mind. For example in the first part, which deals with our growing understanding of the universe, there's a segment about early science fiction, and the animation that goes along with discussion of Wells and Burroughs just looks so cartoony - reminiscent I thought of some of the Pink Panther cartoons, and it turns out that one of the animators here, John W. Dunn, worked for a long time on that series a decade later - that I found it really distracting. On the other hand the visualizations of potential Martian lifeforms later were really cool and kind of eerie in a way I don't usually associate with Disney. Of course all the science is pretty dated as well, but I though that all in all this was a decent intro to the subject - at least for a mass audience television show of the period. Glad to re-acquaint myself with this, even if I can't really give it a high vote; thanks, whoever nominated this.

Hausu (Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, 1977)

RIP NO. The only previous film I'd seen by the director was Nerawareta gakuen / The Aimed School (1981) which I liked but didn't love; I was still, and am still getting used to the particularly Japanese way of mixing genres, something I tend to love but which is very different in these films than it is in the American genre-benders that I'm more familiar with. This is on a whole 'nother level though, and people saying "weirdest movie ever" for once aren't necessarily full of hyperbole. Basically a half-dozen schoolgirls (high school I guess) go to this weird house in the country where the aunt of one of them lives, and all hell breaks loose. In addition to the mix of genres - horror, fantasy, comedy, romance, martial arts (I'm sure I'm not the only person whose favorite character is Miki Jinbo's "Kung Fu") sexploitation - there's also wild tonal shifts and an absolutely flabbergasting soundtrack that veers through 70s soft-rock, disco (lots of American influence on the music and the film in general), heavily percussive piano, country...probably more I'm forgetting now. This would be an absolute nightmare for folks who want a film to be coherent, straightforward, and to play by the (unwritten) rules of narrative generally... for me, it was amazing. I'm still kind of trying to sort it out and don't know that I can call it a masterpiece at this point but it's certainly one of the most memorable viewings I've had in a long time, and something I will definitely get back to again sooner rather than later.

Tripoli (Will Price, 1950)

As I've mentioned many times before, I love the 50s for American genre films - noir, science fiction, westerns, musicals - and I love the often neglected period adventure films from this decade (and going back into the 40s to some extent) just as much, though it's rare that even the best of them rise to the level of the better examples in other genres. I've watched a pretty large number of them over the last few years and I'm still having fun with them, but I feel like I'm finally getting down to the dregs or at least the bottom of the top and middle tiers, and this is a prime example. Not particularly a fan of Maureen O'Hara for one thing, and she's completely dull here, and John Payne is one of those actors who is only as good as those around him and his director and writers, and given that they are the leads, and the story is a rather silly fiction about the Battle of Derna in 1805, a decisive moment in the war against the Barbary States, this has a lot going against it. On the other hand we do have the always entertaining Howard Da Silva as a charismatic and rather sarcastic chieftain, and pretty swell Technicolor from James Wong Howe - so it's watchable. Just. I think I need a break from this stuff for a while.


TEEVEE

Finished re-watching Frasier for, I dunno, the 4th time. And then started re-watching from Episode 1. Soothing words for a comic TV psychiatrist seem to help in these troubled times.

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#30

Post by Onderhond » April 24th, 2020, 4:31 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
April 24th, 2020, 4:14 pm
Hausu (Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, 1977)

RIP NO. The only previous film I'd seen by the director was Nerawareta gakuen / The Aimed School (1981) which I liked but didn't love; I was still, and am still getting used to the particularly Japanese way of mixing genres, something I tend to love but which is very different in these films than it is in the American genre-benders that I'm more familiar with. This is on a whole 'nother level though, and people saying "weirdest movie ever" for once aren't necessarily full of hyperbole. Basically a half-dozen schoolgirls (high school I guess) go to this weird house in the country where the aunt of one of them lives, and all hell breaks loose. In addition to the mix of genres - horror, fantasy, comedy, romance, martial arts (I'm sure I'm not the only person whose favorite character is Miki Jinbo's "Kung Fu") sexploitation - there's also wild tonal shifts and an absolutely flabbergasting soundtrack that veers through 70s soft-rock, disco (lots of American influence on the music and the film in general), heavily percussive piano, country...probably more I'm forgetting now. This would be an absolute nightmare for folks who want a film to be coherent, straightforward, and to play by the (unwritten) rules of narrative generally... for me, it was amazing. I'm still kind of trying to sort it out and don't know that I can call it a masterpiece at this point but it's certainly one of the most memorable viewings I've had in a long time, and something I will definitely get back to again sooner rather than later.
As someone quite notorious for not liking classic cinema, this film was a very welcome exception. It didn't quite make it to my list of all-time favorites, but I gave it a very warm 3.5* and think back fondly of the film.

Also nice reference to the Japanese way of genre-bending. It made me realize that it's nothing something I always appreciate, Hong Kong films in particular are pretty bad at it, but fare a lot better when they go for genre purity. But in the case of Japan, it's definitely something that attracted me to their cinema when I just started out. If I'd seen this film sooner, I might have given it a higher score too, but like everything, you kinda get used to it after a while. I still like it lots, it just feels less special now than it once did.

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#31

Post by OldAle1 » April 24th, 2020, 5:42 pm

Onderhond wrote:
April 24th, 2020, 4:31 pm

As someone quite notorious for not liking classic cinema, this film was a very welcome exception. It didn't quite make it to my list of all-time favorites, but I gave it a very warm 3.5* and think back fondly of the film.

Also nice reference to the Japanese way of genre-bending. It made me realize that it's nothing something I always appreciate, Hong Kong films in particular are pretty bad at it, but fare a lot better when they go for genre purity. But in the case of Japan, it's definitely something that attracted me to their cinema when I just started out. If I'd seen this film sooner, I might have given it a higher score too, but like everything, you kinda get used to it after a while. I still like it lots, it just feels less special now than it once did.
Heh. 1977, old. But I guess that's as subjective as anything else. It's hard for me to think of Star Wars which came out the same year as "old" because then I have to think of myself as old - even older :(

In any case, genre purity only matters to me sometimes, and overall I'm a huge fan of genre mixing - certainly this is a large part of why Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twin Peaks are two of my favorite TV series, and why I love old American serials from the 30s-40s. The Phantom Empire for example is best described as a singing cowboy - science fiction - comedy - romance - action film, with some occasional gangster/crime bits as well. Of course it can be difficult to put together a lot of disparate elements without it seeming to be a mess - I think of a successful blend as something like a successful Indian curry with 25 ingredients, where they all blend seamlessly into something that isn't quite like any individual ingredient. And of course the Indians blend genres as much in their films as anybody.

I'm definitely going to check out more Ôbayashi - I think I have 8 or 10 of his films and may go through them before long. Been setting up a big Japanese genre quest for myself and I may start that off before long, though these films would take a while to get to since I'll likely start in the 50s and go chronologically.

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#32

Post by Onderhond » April 24th, 2020, 8:42 pm

It only takes 25 years before a car is an oldtimer ... '77 is 43 years ago, that's pretty old in my book. About 33% of the length of the entire existence of the medium :)

I'm actually watching Twin Peaks for the first time right now, can't say I'm terribly impressed just yet, but maybe that's because it's pretty "TV" compared to Lynch's other work. It's also quite predictable and repetitive, but I do want to see that film, so there you go. As for genre purity, it's certainly not a must for me, but it dawned on my that HK's best work is when it's pure, when indeed my favorite Japanese film are often hard to fit into a single genre.

I've been wanting to watch more Obayashi myself too. Now is a good time (dying does that to the oeuvre of a director), but most of his more recent films are quite long and I simply don't have the time for 2+ hour films right now. Someday I guess :)

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