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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 26, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 26, 2020

#1

Post by sol » June 28th, 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

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Playing (perhaps) the same character from Fistful and Few Dollars More, Clint Eastwood is once again a solid presence in this Sergio Leone western and there is lots to like about the con act that he has going on with a Mexican bandit played by Eli Wallach. The third title character is a contract killer played Lee Van Cleef, who gradually crosses path with them. Gradual is the keyword in the best possible way: the shifting power dynamics and uneasy friendship between Eastwood and Wallach is divine, with neither able to ever properly trust one another. The film is loaded with tension, even in the smallest of scenes such as Wallach in a gun store. The film feels a little unfocused in its middle section as the Civil War becomes a large part of the proceedings, however, the film offers some interesting ideas regarding wartime tactics (getting soldiers drunk to make them less scared) and everything still ultimately comes together very well. The sunburn makeup effects are still impressive by standards today, while Ennio Morricone's music is pitch perfect - especially the way it overtakes the very last line of the film. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Heaven and Earth Magic (1962). Various cut-out figures and photographs interact with each other in this experimental animated feature from Harry Smith. Several theories exist as to what is actually going on, but with no dialogue (other than some carnival barker calls halfway in) and images that bend and bleed into each other, this is not a project that invites itself to be interpreted as a narrative. As an anti-narrative experiment, it runs a little long and feels random and repetitive, but there is no denying how striking the images are. The black and white aesthetics work in the film's favour, and coupled with weird ambient noises, this is often rather eerie to watch. The black and white figures are especially nifty with how they keep morphing and becoming something new; perhaps Smith subtly suggesting to us that nothing is ever as simple as black and white. (first viewing, online) ★★

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). Exactly what one would expect from a film with such a title, this precursor to Ridley Scott's The Martian likewise involves a future astronaut stranded on Mars. With oxygen pills and rocks that magically create breathable air though, the protagonist here never has major any obstacles. His cave home is cool with homemade alarm clocks and other gadgets, but he makes them all with such ease that his only hardship is loneliness, and even then he never loses his mind. The narrative does pick up tension in the second half with an unexpected guest, but this deflection is actually less enticing than the protagonist trying to survive and fight off boredom. The film does have some great, meditative moments of him all alone and in deep thought, and the sets are great, but there is little real danger or urgency until the second half. (first viewing, online) ★★

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967). Tracing the events leading up to the titular mob slaying in Prohibition Era Chicago, this crime drama is strong on the facts and details. It gets off to a terrific start too with gunfire heard but not seen as we instead witness the reactions from everyone nearby. As the film then goes back in time to look at what led to the massacre, it unfortunately becomes less enticing. The constant, monotone matter-of-fact narration is distracting - though it does get a little eerie towards the end when the narrator keeps saying what each person was doing "on the last morning of his life". Jason Robards is also very over-the-top as Al Capone with a lot of mugging that goes further than being short-tempered. The film looks very slick throughout though and is never really boring - but neither does it ever feel as exciting as it could have been. (first viewing, VHS) ★★

Dragon Inn (1967). Suspecting that the guests at an outskirts inn are not who they claim to be, a swordsman is drawn into an elaborate assassination plot in this Taiwanese classic. The choreography is impressive and the camera nicely often moves with the fighters as opposed to being static. There is also a fun bit involving booby-trapped furniture. The film is let down though by an overly complex plot that requires voice-over narration to provide several minutes of exposition, and yet which ultimately amounts to a lot of a swordplay and not much else. There is also a ridiculous contrivance of a group of men completely oblivious to the fact that the devastatingly pretty "man" sitting opposite them is a woman in disguise. Certainly, bits and pieces work here (the swordsman's initial avoidance of murder attempts is fun) but this is an uneven ride overall. (first viewing, online) ★★

New Dragon Gate Inn (1992). Also known as Dragon Inn, this Hong Kong remake of the Taiwanese classic outclasses the original in almost every regard. Made 25 years later, it is expectedly more graphic and strikingly so, with lots of bloodletting, unsettling moments that literally cut to the bone and a queasy "drink your own blood". The wire stunts are also more eye-popping - particularly a fight between two women whipping clothes off each other. Above all else though, the story is clearer here and the stakes feel more real with two actual kids in danger, rather than the grown children as in the 1967 version. This is not a perfect movie, still retaining the silliness of women disguised as men without anyone telling the difference, and the ridiculousness of the battles sometimes subtracts from the sense of danger, but this is very entertaining while it lasts. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Queen (1968). Competing in a beauty pageant, US drag queens discuss gender politics and the way they are treated in society as they prepare for the big event in this informative documentary. The film is fascinating both for showing their extreme transformations (with the right makeup and wigs) as well as for diving deep into issues such as the fact that they do not actually want sex change operations, and how this confuses many who they meet. There also some great tales of how understanding (or not) their relatives are. The film nevertheless feels incomplete. While it ends shortly after the pageant concludes, the emotions that erupt as a result of the chosen winner with suggestions of rigging and racism are very interesting and feel as if they warranted more screen time. Still, shot mostly in close-up, this is a nicely intimate insight while it lasts. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Honeymoon Killers (1970). Upset after she is duped by a swindler working the lonely-hearts column and fed up with her job, a nurse convinces the con artist to let her tag along, but their joint ventures soon turn sinister in this fact-based crime thriller. Playing an obnoxious character in a theatrical manner, Shirley Stoler's performance is irksome at first, but definitely gets a lot more interesting as a real darkness emerges. Tony Lo Bianco is also a mixed blessing on the acting front. A throbbing music score that carries much dread is great though; same for the atmospheric black and white photography. There is also a fun bit at the start where a gunshot sound turns out to be something else. The film ends on a weak note with perplexing character motivations, and altering from what really happened, but even with a so-so ending this leaves a distinct impression. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Heroes of the East (1978). Married to a Japanese woman trained in ninjutsu, a Hong Kong man accidentally insults his wife's family by claiming that kung fu is superior and has to fight off her relatives in between trying to explaining that the insult was unintentional in this lively comedy. While the plot often feels like a simple excuse for a whole lot of expertly choreographed fight scenes, the action is exciting and well-filmed with some great moments as he tries to adopt the "sneaky" ways of ninjutsu, even oiling himself up in one hilarious scene. The domestic squabbles are also surprisingly amusing with Yuka Mizuno holding her own well as she constantly defeats her husband. The film's ostensible running theme (kung fu is more honorable than the "sneaky" ways of the ninja) always feels iffy, but the Japanese characters are at least portrayed respectfully. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Drunken Master (1978). Better at kung fu when drunk, an eccentric old man trains an unruly youth in this action comedy that catapulted a young Jackie Chan to fame. Most of Chan's fights are impressive, especially an early bit where an unarmed Chan outsmarts a swordsman and beats him with the blunt end of his own blade. Playing an arrogant and conceited guy who never softens though, Chan is unfortunately thoroughly dislikeable here, with some particularly reprehensible treatment and mockery of women. Yuen Siu Tin fares better as the title character, but he does not appear until a third of the way in, and even then he is never even close to being the main character. Another great character comes in the form of Chan's martial arts expert aunt, but again she is a side character in this story of an obnoxious upstart learning to quell those easily offended. (first viewing, online) ★★

Dragon Lord (1982). More interested in playing sport and chasing girls than studying, a young man has a chance to prove himself after a chance encounter with a gang of thieves in this comedy written, directed by and starring a young Jackie Chan. As expected, Chan has some solid martial arts moments, but they are all confined to the final half-hour. It is also only in this stretch that the film comes alive with Chan meeting the thieves after an intense rooftop bit where he has to evade spears piercing the roof below him. The entire first hour is a mess though, full of lame gags (Chan's best friend urinating on his leg; the pair shooting themselves), lots of misogynistic talk and far too many repetitive scenes of them playing a strange sports game. Things do not improve a lot in the final half-hour with one dimensional villains, but it is better than what comes before. (first viewing, online) ★

Calamity of Snakes (1982). Snakes start killing off the residents of an apartment block in an apparent act of revenge in this Hong Kong creature feature. The film features several memorable images as snakes are skinned alive and set on fire while they cover entire apartment floors, creep inside bathtubs, crawl up dresses and wriggle around to the sound of electronic musical blips. With thousands of real live snakes clearly killed in the making of the film though, it is actually a bit hard to root for the human characters who take such enjoyment in killing them. Enough about the film remains of interest though to keep it chugging along until the end. Particularly arresting are some deadly fights between mongooses and snakes, even if they come at odds to the narrative, and it is amazing how insane everything gets when things culminate towards the end. (first viewing, online) ★★

Duel to the Death (1983). Amidst rivalry between their nations, a kung fu master from a China and an expert swordsman from Japan debate the merits of fighting duels to the death in this wuxia film with ninjas. The plot is not quite as dynamic as it sounds; while it is refreshing to have a martial arts film focused on the ethics and purpose of killing, the conversations feel like dull filler in between the fights. The battles are pretty solid with the fighters imaginatively flying through the air, turning into leaves, turning invisible and so on, and - at the film's zaniest - a giant ninja somersaults in the air and splits into five separate ninjas. This kookiness does, however, go against the film's attempts to be a realistic and down-to-earth look at dueling. In fact, the real duel going on is with the filmmakers themselves, split between making something meditative and kinetic. (first viewing, online) ★★

Oh! Uomo (2004). Composed entirely from archive footage, this Italian documentary showcases various victims of war, most of whom are civilians. The film has some striking moments, such as a shot of various people limping along, some missing legs, with it only gradually revealed that the victims are kids. Equally striking are some parts later on that focus on the faces of adult victims, before it is revealed that they are missing limbs. Most fascinating of all though is the final stretch of the film, documenting various victims adjusting to using hooks and artificial limbs. Assembled without voiceover narration and only music on occasion though, the film nevertheless often feels repetitive. The shots of kids solemnly staring into the camera certainly resonate, but stretches of the film seem to just drill in the same points rather than provide new perspectives. (first viewing, online) ★★

La Antena (2007). Discovering that the boy next door to her can speak in a city that has lost the ability to talk, a young girl embarks with her divorced parents on adventure to recover the rest of the city's voices in this strange but utterly enchanting (mostly) silent film from Argentina. The visuals are breathtaking, with creative sets, exquisite lighting and nifty stop animation. The film's best asset though is its title cards; the characters frequently interact with the title cards, pushing words off screen, looking at words appearing above their heads and so on. Not everything about the film works with the child-of-divorce angle offering a distraction from the central tale. The main plot, while outlandish on the surface, is pretty solid though. There is a lot going on metaphorically with dictatorial leaders, literal policing of what can be said out loud and Nazi symbolism. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

O.J.: Made in America (2016). Clocking in at close to eight hours, this is a sometimes exhausting but mostly engrossing look at the circumstances leading to O.J. Simpson's controversial acquittal for murder in the mid-1990s. The detailed insight into the political climate of America at the time is fascinating, with the documentary in many ways focusing on the power of extenuating circumstances to shape a desired outcome, as well as the ease of wanting to believe someone's innocence. While the fifth chapter (the aftermath of the murder trial) feels slightly anticlimactic, Simpson's subsequent crime and convictions are pretty interesting since there is never any way of knowing whether his trial on those matters was coloured by his murder trial - much like how it can only be speculated whether his public image and politics influenced the jurors in the original trial. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

REVISIONS

Silent Movie (1976). An entertaining ode to silent comedies and a funny silent comedy itself that remains amusing on repeat viewings, Silent Movie is Mel Brooks at the peak of his game with self-referential gags and a self-reflexive story of an ambitious film director (not unlike himself) trying to make a silent movie in the sound era. It is hard to say what is more entertaining: the cameos from stars playing exaggerated versions of themselves or the pokes towards silent comedy mechanisms, including a studio exec declaring that "slapstick is dead" before becoming a victim of a slapstick gag. The side puns (ordering blueberry pie; guide dog mix-up) are a little hit-and-miss, but stars Brooks, Marty Feldman and Dom DeLuise are in such excellent form that the whole thing still works. Especially amusing is the way they tend to walk in synchrony together. (third viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Dr Plonk (2007). Shot on a hand-cranked camera without any dialogue, this contemporary silent comedy surpasses the likes of The Artist and La Antena in terms of how authentic it feels. Viewed for a third time, the outlandish plot remains entertaining, circling around a scientist who in 1907 discovers a way of time travelling to 2007 where he becomes baffled by televisions and those who stare at them. Operated by steam with a bouncing switchboard, the simple wooden box time machine is imaginative too, reminiscent of Primer's homemade time machine. Dr Plonk does not go deep as Primer does into its time paradoxes, but it has much charm as a fish-out-water tale of a different sort, focusing on just how strange another generation's future seems to even the smartest minds of an older generation. Great stunts and chase scenes too. (third viewing, DVD) ★★★★
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#2

Post by Onderhond » June 28th, 2020, 12:00 pm

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Another week of playing catch-up. Schiller's list is yielding some interesting films I've missed, no real favorites so far though. On the bottom end, I watched some terrible Box Office crap, my first run-in with Egyptian cinema wasn't a big success either.


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01. 4.0* - Swallowtail Butterfly [Suwarôteiru] by Shunji Iwai (1996)
A vibrant and wild trip through an alternative world. One where the yen became the dominant currency and foreigners flocked to Japan to earn a quick buck. It's one of the least typical films in Iwai's oeuvre, but also one of the most interesting. While a little uneven in places, there is so much raw energy here that I had no trouble convincing me of its strengths a second time around.

02. 3.5* - Wood Job! [Wood Job!: Kamusari Nânâ Nichijô] by Shinobu Yaguchi (2014)
A very pleasant little drama. A bit predictable maybe, as it doesn't take long to figure out where Yaguchi is heading with this one, but the road there is well worth taking. I may have been a little weary at first, Yaguchi's earlier films never really appealed to me, but it seems that he's come a long way since then. A city boy takes a leap of chance and goes off on a one-year course to become a lumberjack. He isn't really cut out for the job and when he ends up lodging with some boorish mountain folk, it doesn't look like he'll be sitting out his training. But, as is always the case in these films, people slowly learn to respect each other etc etc. It's one of those films that would never work in real life for me, but is still invigorating to experience on film. The amazing setting has a big part in that, the overall solid performances of the cast only add to that. The direction is nice, but nothing too out of the ordinary. If you can appreciate films like Breathe In, Breathe Out or Only Yesterday, this is a fine recommend.

03. 3.5* - The Thousand Faces of Dunjia [Qi Men Dun Jia] by Hesheng Xiang, Qiuliang Xiang (2020)
Expectations were quite low going into this one, but it was surprisingly well-made. There have been a lot of these Chinese fantasy/martial arts TV productions lately and while most are somewhat enjoyable, they rarely leave much of an impression. The short running time and slick poster design tricked me into thinking this was another one of those, but I was clearly mistaken. This film is not to be confused with Woo-Ping Yuen's 2017 blockbuster version, which deals with pretty much the same story. While it's clear that the 2020 remake didn't have have quite the same means to its disposal, Hesheng and Qiuliang Xiang did their very best to make this just as enjoyable. The CG is actually quite solid, the nifty creature designs and spell effects are also of great help. Actors are decent and the sets look pretty impressive. Nice action cinematography, perfect pacing and a fun story do the rest. It's not quite up there with the best Chinese martial arts/fantasy hybrids, but it was great fun nonetheless.

04. 3.5* - Tremble All You Want [Katte ni Furuetero] by Akiko Ohku (2017)
A very fun and perky romance, with strong comedy overtones and a slightly more dramatic ending. The concept should be familiar enough, but Ohku's direction gives it some extra polish. It's the first film I see from her, but it's clear that she can take a simple idea and make it into something more. There's something about the tone and rhythm of the film that makes it stand out. The introduction is a good example. Very soft and cute, but also a little strange and weary. It contrasts well with the quirky main character and her somewhat dry but ultimately upbeat romantic woes. Ohku alternates regularly between these two approaches, keeping the audience on their toes. The cinematography is beautiful, performances are also on point. The first hour or so feels fresh and invigorating, the second half is just more of the same though and clocking in at almost 2 hours the film's a bit too long. Also, I didn't think the turn to drama at the very end was really that necessary. But otherwise well recommended.

05. 3.5* - The Drudgery Train [Kueki Ressha] by Nobuhiro Yamashita (2012)
A very dry mix of comedy and drama, though don't expect too many overt laughs. The main character of the film is rather tragic, a loner whose family fell apart after his father was apprehended for a sex crime. Kanta is a dayworker, spends his money on booze and prostitutes and has no tangible goals in life. Kanta's luck seems to be changing when he meets Shoji, a more composed character who moved to Tokyo to attend school there. Things are looking up, but Kanta's troubled past is going to prove hard to overcome. If that sounds pretty dramatic, nihilistic even, it's because it is, but Yamashita's execution makes it bearable. Some colorful characters and slightly absurd situations give the film a somewhat lighter tone. The cinematography is decent but nothing too special, the same goes for the soundtrack. Performances are strong though and give the characters the necessary weight. All in all a pretty good film, but it lacks something that makes it truly stand out.

06. 3.5* - Bakuman by Hitoshi Ône (2015)
A rather simple but likeable and easily digestible drama. Bakuman offers a peak into the world of mangakas, though don't expect anything too serious. The presentation is light and focuses on familiar themes like chasing your dream, overcoming problems and valuing friendship. In that sense, it could've been about literally every other topic. The film does touch upon some some less idyllic aspects of the job, like the pressure of serialization, the competition and the harsh working conditions, but none of that really makes a big impression. The characters are a bit too stereotypical and the drama a little too convenient for that. Then again, big drama and social critique is clearly not what this film set out to do. The cast is likeable, the cinematography slick (with a couple of stand-out scenes) and the film flows well. Even though it's two hours long, it never drags or loses momentum. It's just a very warm, easy-going drama that has its heart in the right place, but doesn't really excel at anything particular. Premium filler in other words.

07. 3.5* - The App by Elisa Fuksas (2019)
The App was surprisingly nice. I'd read a lot of bad things about this film, which is puzzling because it feels like an elevated Black Mirror short (a show everyone seems to love). While the setup of The App isn't all that original, and the ending probably doesn't even deserve to be called a twist, the execution is well above the level of any and every Black Mirror episodes. The story revolves around a young, wealthy guy who has everything going for him. He has a beautiful, dedicated girlfriend, a baby on the way, and he just moved to Italy to direct his first film. But when he downloads a dating app he gets infatuated with a mysterious caller. She seems so in tune with him that he is willing to risk everything he has, just for a meeting with her. If you haven't figured out already where this is going, you probably haven't seen much recent sci-fi. The film is pretty predictable, but the execution is on point. The cinematography is dreamy, the soundtrack adds a lot of atmosphere and performances are overall strong. Nothing outstanding, but very solid, worthwhile genre filler.

08. 3.0* - Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by John Krasinski (2009)
Not quite what I expected from Krasinski's first to be honest. I wasn't surprised to find out this was a book adaptation, as the structure felt a bit overworked and the dialogues are anything but natural, but Krasinski keeps his film on the rails rather well. At least, if you're willing to put in the effort. The start is a little hesitant though. The comedy is subtle and elaborate, lacking clear punch lines or quick payoffs. Because there's no real introduction and the film keeps jumping between random interviews and the main story thread, it takes a while to get on board with what Krasinski is trying to do. Performances are good and the final half hour really drives its point home, sadly the film looks a little shabby and barren and the soundtrack feels like it's made up of left-over scraps from Woody Allen's films. The presentation is a bit of a let-down, but if you sit through the struggling first half, there's a neat little film here.

09. 3.0* - Violence Jack: Evil Town [Baiorensu Jakku: Jigoku-gai-hen] by Ichirô Itano (1988)
A fine example of 80s post-apocalyptic anime weirdness. A mix of action, sci-fi and horror, a very colorful and eclectic cast and a hefty dose of explicit violence. If you don't like the kind of anime that gave Japanese animation its bad reputation, then it's probably best to skip this series altogether. The art style is a little clunky and butch, but the character designs are distinctive and fun. The animation is fine, considering the limited budget. Some very nice-looking scenes, but if you're familiar with the typical anime cheats, it is clear where they cut some corners. For an 80s OAV though, it's not bad. The plot is a pretty basic, nothing more than a solid setup for some very bloody, violent and gory fun. It's clearly not for everybody, but if you love over-the-top violence and depravity then there's plenty to like here. A film for a particular audience in other words, not my favorite kind of anime, but I do appreciate it from time to time.

10. 3.0* - Gigantic by Matt Aselton (2008)
A film headlining Dano and Deschanel, no surprise then that the result is a chilled, somewhat droopy romance. Quirky characters give it a small comedy edge, while romantic problems in the second half push it more towards the drama side. Nothing you haven't seen before, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Both Dano and Deschanel are fine actors, and they don't disappoint. There are also some very solid secondary parts, with a stand-out role for John Goodman and a fun cameo by Zach Galifianakis. It's more than enough to make this a decent film and that's exactly what Gigantic ends up being. The romance is pretty basic but works well and there are some goofy moments that earn the film some indie points, what I missed though was something that truly sets it apart from the rest. It's a bit too safe, even the weirdness feels a bit too expected and by the numbers. Not a bad film, but it lacks flavor.

11. 2.5* - Trick the Movie: Last Stage by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (2014)
Pretty much in line with the other Trick movies. They start out pretty fun, but can't really keep the momentum going, and they always end up being too long to keep me fully engaged. It's a shame, because the potential to be something nicer is definitely there and it's not like Tsutsumi can't do better. The cheap TV look is a big part of the problem. The film simply looks cheap, the special effects are pretty bad and the direction is mostly functional. Luckily the cast is on point, with solid performances by Yukie Nakama and Hiroshi Abe and the comedy is pretty noteworthy too, but it's not enough to elevate it above mediocrity. When Trick gets pleasantly weird, its potential becomes clearly visible. Sadly these moments are quite rare and stand out compared to to the rest of the film. While it never gets truly bad or boring, I'm always a bit disappointed after seeing one of these films. I can never escape the feeling that this should've been much better.

12. 2.5* - Scare Package by Andujar, Andujar, Cousins, Hagins, Koontz, McInroy, Segan & Vaughn (2019)
An anthology film that wears its meta humor proudly on its sleeve. From the very beginning, it's made abundantly clear that Scare Package is by and for horror fans. If you're not too familiar with the tropes of the genre, it's best to just ignore this one for the time being, until you feel confident enough to pick up on all the horror geekiness. The problem is that this isn't the first film to go so meta, in fact the meta itself has become a trope of horror/comedies. So as with most genre films, it's the execution that counts, and that's where things falter. Performances are rather poor and the overall quality is pretty uneven, though for an anthology featuring mostly unknown directors, that was to be expected. The first two shorts are nice enough, so is the finale. They're not outstanding, but the comedy works and the horror is quite over-the-top. The middle shorts slow things down though and without any real standout material, the film at least one short too long. Overall it's not too bad, but it feels just a little lazy.

13. 2.5* - Violence Jack: Hell's Wind [Baiorensu Jakku: Herusuuindo Hen] by Osamu Kamijô (1990)
Not quite on par with the second entry in the trilogy, but definitely better than the first film. The animation quality is a small step up, yet the impact is rather limited. The series' home release roots are obvious and Violence Jack relies more on its art style plus over-the-top action to keep people glued to the screen. It's not quite as insane and/or depraved as the middle entry, which is a little odd as the middle episodes in these types of trilogies are usually the tamest. The episodes here don't form a coherent story arc though and act more like stand-alone stories within the same universe. Probably the smart thing to do, considering that narrative and characters aren't really the series' biggest assets. The story is pretty much negligible and the characters are pretty static. Whenever nobody is being ripped to shreds or blood isn't splattering across the screen, the overall quality quickly plunges. Luckily there's plenty of the aforementioned going on, but I felt a bit disappointed that Hell's Wind didn't push the boundaries just a little more.

14. 2.0* - Violence Jack: Slum King [Baiorensu Jakku: Haremu Bonba-hen] by Ichirô Itano (1986)
A somewhat disappointing kick-off. I admit that I messed up by starting with the second entry in the series, but that shouldn't excuse the poorer quality of this first installment. The problem with Slum King is that it's a lot tamer than its follow-up. It's mostly just an introduction to the setting with some mild violence to fill in the gaps. The art style is less detailed and the animation isn't quite as energetic. The characters aren't as crazy or over-the-top either, giving it an overall cheaper feel. While there is still some gore and weirdness, it never makes much of an impact. It's still amusing to watch though, but it's really hard not to compare it to the much better second part. The comparison may be a bit unfair, on the other hand I'm not sure if I would've continued with this series if I'd seen Slum King first. It's not terrible, but it is quite underwhelming and apart from a handful of solid moments, it's too cheesy and forgettable to make a lasting impression. Persevere though, because it gets better after this.

15. 2.0* - Happy Family [Fung Lau Ga Chuk] by Herman Yau (2002)
A mediocre comedy from Herman Yau. The early '00s weren't Yau's best period and it shows. Happy Family is a basic comedy that just hobbles along without ever making a worthwhile impression. It lacks Yau's typical edge and comes off as commercial filler in between more challenging projects. The lead actors do a decent job, but the rest of the cast is well below par. Loudness and overacting are often confused for comedy, the soundtrack feels like a complete afterthought and the cinematography is plain and uninteresting. If you ever wondered what Hong Kong filler looks like, look no further. The plot itself is slightly amusing though. It's not great, but at least it kept my attention until the end of the film. It's definitely not enough to actively recommend Happy Family, but I've sat through worse films. At least it's short and mildly amusing, at the same time it's also wildly plain and forgettable.

16. 1.5* - Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga by David Dobkin (2020)
Pretty disappointed by this one. I'm not a big fan of the whole Eurovision circus, but it is perfect material for a crazy comedy/parody. Ferrell's involvement looked very promising and some random screens seemed to guarantee plenty of over-the-top cheese. Dobkin appeared to be on the right track for redemption. The biggest problem is that the film isn't even half as camp as the real thing. Eurovision is an alternate universe that is a bit hard to explain when you haven't been subjected to it for most of your life, maybe that's where it went wrong with this mostly USA-led production? Ferrell's version of the festival is pretty dull. Dobkin has a pretty bad track record as a director and surely can't rectify it with this film. Almost all the jokes fall flat, the characters are boring and the showmanship is pretty poor. Rather than a sprawling show, the Eurovision competition looks like a second-rate concert. Nah, very poor use of the potential.

17. 1.5* - Alone in the Dark by Jack Sholder (1982)
This felt more like a remnant of the 70s than a front-runner of the 80s horror scene. Though it borrows openly from films like Halloween, Sholder's approach is more serious and committed. Sadly that doesn't necessarily translate into a better film, especially when working in the horror genre. The problem with Alone in the Dark is that it goes for pure suspense, but never really gets there. The psychopaths on the loose are rather plain and fail to be menacing, while the main characters are too daft to care for. Add a very slow first half and few confrontations between both groups and you're left with a pretty dull film. The intro was by far the most interesting scene here, it all goes downhill after that. Performances are pretty bad, the film looks dim and lifeless, the score fails to add atmosphere and the kills look terribly fake. Would've been better if Sholder had loosened up a bit, but that clearly wasn't what he was going for. Not good.

18. 1.5* - Cairo Station [Bab el Hadid] by Youssef Chahine (1958)
I'm not too familiar with Egyptian cinema, this sounded like a good place to start. And the film showed some promise too, though you have to wait until the very end before it comes to full fruition. Sadly the road there is much closer to what I'd feared it would be, and isn't something I thoroughly enjoyed. The introduction is mostly spent on capturing the mood and energy around a train station. It's a bustling environment and while the noise levels aren't that pleasant, they are an essential part of the setting. The problem is that once the film shifts its focus to the characters, the noise doesn't really go away. It makes for a tiring experience. The dialogue and drama isn't that interesting either, luckily the cinematography is decent and there are a couple of scenes that stand out from the rest, but it wasn't until the finale that the film had truly grabbed my attention. That was a case of too little, too late though. Not a terrible film, but it left me rather cold.

19. 1.5* - Winner Takes All [Da Ying Jia] by Clifton Ko (2000)
Clifton Ko makes a swindler comedy. A popular niche in Hong Kong that yielded some entertaining films, but Ko's attempt is pretty bland. The usual mix of genres (comedy, crime and action) is mostly absent and Ko turns this into a full-blown comedy. The problem is that the film is hardly ever funny. Performances aren't up to par. There are some familiar faces here, but most of them fail to land their jokes. The soundtrack is absolutely dreadful and feels like an afterthought, while the film itself looks like something out of the 80s. It all feels very rushed and put together without putting too much thought into it. It's a little odd because Ko is capable of making good comedies. Without the proper actors, a decent script and the necessary funding though, it seems he can't perform miracles. At least the pacing is decent and the film constantly propels itself forward, but unless you're absolutely starved for a Hong Kong comedy, I can't really recommend this.

20. 1.0* - Alvin and the Chipmunks by Tim Hill (2007)
As if it's not bad enough that most of these USA CG animations are overflowing with cheap pop music, Alvin adds insult to injury by having the songs performed by a bunch of actual chipmunks. Even worse, that's apparently the whole selling point of this movie. Best viewed with the volume all the way down in other words. The plot is extremely trivial. Three talking chipmunks end up in some annoying guy's home. He turns out to be down on his last luck as a music writer, but lo and behold, the chipmunks can sing, and they become an overnight sensation. There's also a romantic subplot and an evil studio mogul, but who cares really. The blend between the CG and live action footage is pretty decent, that's about the only good thing I can say about this film. The acting is terrible, the comedy is bland, the music simply deafening. But it's a successful film that spawned a bunch of sequels and spin-offs, so I guess there's an audience out there that digs these kinds of films.

21. 0.5* - Legends of the Fall by Edward Zwick (1994)
Legends of the Fall is a bona fide childhood trauma. I remember my parents renting this one, and I was semi-forced to watch it with them. I've hated this film ever since. But one has to confront his fears, and so I figured I might as well give it another try. Turns out young me was very much right about this one. The performances are extremely overdone, the romance and drama are overworked and never feel genuine and the film's many genre excursions all seem to be working against each other. And then there's the incredibly sappy, cheesy soundtrack that adds insult to injury and makes everything so much worse. I can't say I was very surprised by all of this, it's pretty typical for Zwick's work. He's not my type of director and this film checks pretty much all the checkboxes of why I dislike many of his films. It's archetypical Hollywood sentiment, loud and demanding, but ultimately empty and extremely boring.

22. 0.5* - Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel by Betty Thomas (2009)
What's worse than 3 singing chipmunks you say? Well, after seeing the sequel to Alvin and the Chipmunks, I'm fairly confident the answer is: 6 singing chipmunks. Three males, three females, double the headaches. And believe it or not, they'll be facing off against each other in exciting sing-offs. As far as lazy sequels go, this one is pretty damn lazy. The plot is just a lame cut & paste job from a throwaway Glee episode, the characters are still the same old stereotypes that go through all the familiar motions once again, while the finale is utterly unimaginative and predictable. Or what did you expect. The first film made plenty of money, so they made a sequel. Either you like this kind of comedy, or you're an enormous fan of billboard-type pop music (and you don't mind chipmunks butchering the songs), otherwise I don't see anyone liking this terrible piece of junk. A complete and utter waste of time.

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Perception de Ambiguity
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#3

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » June 28th, 2020, 12:01 pm

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«All of us feel sparks of anger, flickers of passion, twinges of jealousy. Small moments. But from these seeds we grow to become a jealous person, an angry woman, a passionate man. We say "this is what I am," and we act accordingly. But these are just our masks, we forget that we are wearing them. And we run from the ones which others wear.»
(The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation)


Tutankhamun In Colour (Paul Bradshaw, 2020) 5+/10
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Vertige (Barrie McLean, 1969) 7-/10

警察官 / Policeman / A Police Officer / Keisatsukan (内田吐夢/Tomu Uchida, 1933) 6+/10

Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983) 8/10
«It begins in a celebration of the rights of alchemy, the transformation of shit into gold. The illumination of dark chaotic night into light. This is the time of sweet, sweet change for us all.»

日日是好日 / Every Day A Good Day (大森立嗣/Tatsushi Omori, 2018) 7/10
Way of TeaShow
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Way of LifeShow
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The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life (Yukari Hayashi & Barrie McLean, 1994) 8/10
meowShow
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The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation (Barrie McLean, 1994) 9-/10
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Burn After Reading (the Coens, 2008) (4th viewing) 9/10

Intolerable Cruelty (the Coens, 2003) (3rd viewing) 7/10

Empty Metal (Adam Khalil & Bayley Sweitzer, 2018) 9 or 10/10


shorts

The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets (Adam Khalil & Zack Khalil & Jackson Polys, 2018) 8 or 9/10
«Memory is not a container for information, but a perpetually emerging process.»

Sales images (Michel de Gagné & Michel Gélinas & Rémy Beausoleil, 1988) 8+/10
which one to use for the IMDb/letterboxd poster?Show
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Fire studier av Oslo og New York / Four Sudies of Oslo and New York (Ane Hjort Guttu, 2012) 4+/10

Le pompier des Folies Bergères (inconnu, 1930) 6+/10

Les nuits électriques (Eugène Deslaw, 1928) 5+/10

Un monsieur qui a mangé du taureau (Eugène Deslaw, 1935) 8-/10
going out clobberingShow
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Des jeunes femmes disparaissent (Jean-Claude Brisseau, 1972) 3+/10

Essai à la mille (Jean-Claude Labrecque, 1970) 5/10

The Poet and the Pond (Norm Bruns, 1980) 3+/10

Eager (Allison Schulnik, 2014) 6/10

Dubs (Ed Emshwiller, 1978) 6/10

directed by Lewis Klahr:
Lost Camel Intentions (1988) 6/10
For the Rest of Your Natural Life (1988) 6-/10
In the Month of Crickets (1988) 5+/10

SPIN (Nobuhiro Aihara, 1993) 6/10

哥 / Poem / Uta - Trailer (ca. 1972) 7/showing soon at this cinema

Heavy Metal Parking Lot (John Heyn & Jeff Krulik, 1986) 5+/10

There Is a Spider Living Between Us (Tejal Shah, 2009) 2+/10

Awe Shocks (Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy AKA OJOBOCA, 2011) 6+/10

Eigenheim (Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy AKA OJOBOCA, 2012) 7-/10

Curious Alice (Design Center Incorporated (Washington, D.C.), 1968) 7/10
"Nothing seems to happen here unless you eat or drink something."
- Alice

Blanche (Marc Hurtado, 1995) 8/10
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Franciscan Sketches (Justin Kelly, 2020) (l)

Invocation of My Demon Brother (Kenneth Anger, 1969) (3rd viewing) 5/10 (from 3)

Invocation of My Demon Brother (Kenneth Anger, 1969) (with director's commentary) (4th viewing) 5/10

Eaux d'Artifice (Kenneth Anger, 1953) (2nd viewing) 7/10

Eclipse of the Sun Virgin (George Kuchar, 1967) 5/10

The Finishing Line (John Krish, 1977) 6-/10


music videos

Dmøncøre: Closer to Truth (Diego Seta, 2020)

Black Eyed Peas, Maluma: Feel the Beat (2020)


other

The Joe Rogan Experience - # 909 - Bill Burr (2017) 5+/10

partly:
The Joe Rogan Experience #1066 - Mel Gibson & Dr. Neil Riordan
The Joe Rogan Experience #1147 - Dr. Debra Soh

哥 / Poem / Uta (Akio Jissoji, 1972) - Desser Introduction


series

Magical Egypt - E06 - "Legacy" (2001) 6/10
Oṃ Maṇi Padme HūṃShow
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didn't finish

Nora-neko rokku: Mashin animaru / Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970) [10 min]
Dang ai lai de shi hou / When Love Comes (Tso-chi Chang, 2010) [6 min]
Kung Fu Hustle (2004) [ca. half an hour] (would-be rewatch)


notable online media

mountaintop:
Afterimage: EMPTY METAL
top:
A walk with Rifle gone bad [by Damon Packard]
Two Easily Remembered Questions That Silence Negative Thoughts | Anthony Metivier | TEDxDocklands
The Greatest 7 Minute Sequence In Joe Rogan Experience History
Exploring The Giza Plateau And Entering The Great Pyramid In April 2019
Do We Live in a Sick Society?
Top Chef - Season 4 Ep 7 (part 3 of 4) [by nathanfielder] [rewatch]
Dharma Grooves: Tibetan Prayer Beads and Mantra
Egypt 2020 Exploring Deep Within The Valley Of The Kings Full Edition
Egyptian Museum (First Floor) Walking Tour [partly]
The tomb of Ramses III in the Valley of the Kings Egypt
[YT channel "DAVID LYNCH THEATER"]
rest:
Orlando Bloom on Buddhism, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and Daisaku Ikeda.
Dalai Lama speaks out on COVID-19


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peeptoad
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#4

Post by peeptoad » June 28th, 2020, 2:08 pm

Hi sol, I've only seen two of yours this week-

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 9
The Honeymoon Killers (1970) 8

I'm glad you liked the third Leone film in the trilogy. As we agreed it's far better than the 2nd film and I may or may not like it better than A Fistful of Dollars. It's in the same league as that one anyway.
The Honeymoon Killers is a bit of an oddity that I enjoyed when I saw it. I really liked Stoler in this, and it left me feeling a little uneasy, maybe unclean. Something to that effect (I saw it long time ago). The same past events and source material was also made as Spanish film called Deep Crimson, which is also pretty good.



mine-
Mirage (1965) 7
The Connection (1961) 9
The Cool World (1963) 7
Kong bu fen zi (1986) The Terrorizers 8+
Mouchette (1967) 8
Le Trou (1960) 8
Jiao you (2013) Stray Dogs 9

I had slightly more time this week, but not much. I have about 3-4 more 60s films I wanted to see this month, so hopefully I can get to a couple of them today since the month is waning.

Stray Dogs was fantastic. It was my third Tsai Ming-liang film and it did not disappoint. I had previously seen The River and The Hole and this was more similar to the former, though it's been almost 20 years since I've seen that one. Stray Dogs had qualities that I found very similar to some present in Pedro Costa's In Vanda's Room (both had a kind of slow, meditative, cinema verite style that I love), even though that one was half a world away and a different time and place altogether. I am definitely seeking out some more of Ming-liang's work, esp his earlier stuff from the 90s.

The Terrorizers was also very good. I loved the character of the girl who was the petty thief. The character had this free wheeling vibe, also with a sense of detachment from her surroundings. At times I was reminded vaguely of "Simone" in Der Fan (1982) and also "The Girl" in Two Lane Blacktop (1971) even though those are very dissimilar films to Yang's...

And I haven't even mentioned Shirley Clarke's The Connection yet, which went straight onto my favorites list and caused me to see The Cool World (63), which was not as good, but featured a great turn by Carl Lee and also great music. The Connection was adapted from a stage play and it has lots of theatrical qualities: static location, with characters weaving in and out... the music was cool and I loved the alternating focus on most of the characters as they are in the process of just hanging around and waiting. There were a couple of very small aspects that detracted for me: some of the acting in spots, mainly from Goodrow (in one scene he seemed almost to lose character for split second or two), but these were uncommon and brief detractors. Really excellent film imo.

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sol
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#5

Post by sol » June 28th, 2020, 2:39 pm

peeptoad wrote:
June 28th, 2020, 2:08 pm
Hi sol, I've only seen two of yours this week-

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 9
The Honeymoon Killers (1970) 8

I'm glad you liked the third Leone film in the trilogy. As we agreed it's far better than the 2nd film and I may or may not like it better than A Fistful of Dollars. It's in the same league as that one anyway.
The Honeymoon Killers is a bit of an oddity that I enjoyed when I saw it. I really liked Stoler in this, and it left me feeling a little uneasy, maybe unclean. Something to that effect (I saw it long time ago). The same past events and source material was also made as Spanish film called Deep Crimson, which is also pretty good.
Yeah, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is an amazing improvement over For a Few Dollars More for me in all aspects other than Lee Van Cleef's performance/character. Not that he is bad or under-developed in the third film, but he is easily the most fascinating element of the second film whereas what really drives the third film is the Wallach/Eastwood dynamics, almost to the point that the film could have been called The Good and the Ugly. Really interesting film in any case with a great ending.

Most of the reviews that I came across praised Stoler's performance in The Honeymoon Killers, so perhaps I am alone there, but I actually stopped the film after five minutes and double checked the IMDb and Letterboxd ratings because I was amazed by how amateurish the acting seemed. As mentioned in my review, I did like when her character got to show her darker side, but all of the earlier unlucky-in-love and hospital chore stuff really did not jive for me. I had not heard of Deep Crimson, so thanks for the recommendation.

Yours:

Absolutely loved Mirage at the time: from the stark black and white tracking shots to the music of Quincy Jones, I felt like the film had just the right mood/feel for a movie about a man trying to recover his memory while pursued by persons unknown.

The Connection was pretty cool with a lot of little bits of humour in the mix as the director tells the junkies to act natural (while oblivious to the fact that they are doing just that), as he shines bright lights in their faces, and of course ethical questions as he pays them to take drugs. Recall quite a bit of comedy at the fact that director was a making a film about something that he really knew nothing about himself.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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joachimt
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#6

Post by joachimt » June 28th, 2020, 5:48 pm

Bhumika (1977, 3 official lists, 107 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
The Kids Are All Right (2010, 6 official lists, 17182 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019, 1 official list, 917 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
The Making of the Mahatma AKA Apprenticeship of a Mahatma (1996, 1 official list, 10 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Va savoir AKA Va Savoir (Who Knows?) (2001, 1 official list, 231 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Chak De! India (2007, 1 official list, 1458 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Prime.
Hermia & Helena (2016, 1 official list, 55 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
The Moon-Spinners (1964, 1 official list, 144 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
Zama (2017, 4 official lists, 590 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
TDF Really Works (2011, 0 official lists, 14 checks) 2/10
Watched because someone wanted to add it to MovieMeter and I had to watch it to be sure we wouldn't allow it.
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prodigalgodson
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#7

Post by prodigalgodson » June 28th, 2020, 7:22 pm

The Burglar (Paul Wendkos, 1957) 1/10

I like the handful of other Goodis adaptations I’ve seen, but this is irredeemable: terrible acting (Duryea's fine), obnoxious music, clunky direction, tacky editing, cookie-cutter writing. I’m sure there are worse movies out there, but of stuff I'd willingly watch start to finish, this scrapes the bottom of the barrel.

Postcards (Mark Rappaport, 1990) 9/10

“You always think you’ve come to the end of your tether…then you find out how much more tether there is to go. It’s scary how we adjust to every situation.”

The heartbreaking unraveling of a long-distance relationship in which vintage postcards form the basis for the epistolary story and the visual backdrop for every scene. Maybe Rappaport's most poignant fiction.

D'Est (Chantal Akerman, 1993) 8/10

On paper Akerman could be my favorite director; in practice it's always interesting to see how our interests and sensibilities merge and diverge. This might be my favorite so far. Love the ghostly evocation of a disappearing world, foregrounding of music, long dolly shots, pastoral and urban landscapes. She's obviously much more interested in big groups of people than me. Nice to see such a precedence for the kind of films I've been interested in making lately.

Conversation Piece (Lucino Visconti, 1974) 8/10

“The elderly are strange creatures…. Sometimes they’re frightened by the loneliness they wished for, other times they defend it when it’s threatened.”

Visconti directs with his usual casually assured mastery, at a slightly faster clip than usual. In terms of ability to fill the frame he must be top five. The style of his mature period is so well suited to bringing the past to life, it's interesting to see him tackling the contemporary zeitgeist. I think it was a wise choice to tell the story from the old professor's perspective, and it's nice to see this kind of Pasolini-lite nuttiness handled with warmth and sympathy. Lancaster's a magnificent specimen of obsolescent noblesse oblige; props to whoever dubbed his Italian too.

Local Color (Mark Rappaport, 1977) 8/10

“If you could take a movie of the whole world, one frame every 200 years, it would look like a bubbling mass of caramel. And if we could see that movie, we’d realize just how trivial our own problems are.”

Depravity, existentialism, and witty repartee in a dreamworld of lacunal interconnection. Probably Rappaport's most ambitious and fully realized trip into the shadow of Hollywood melodrama, though I would've loved more quirks like the silent movie intertitles revealing everyone's thoughts at dinner, or the eavesdropping neighbors hooting through the wall like the sitcom soundtrack to a charged conversation. By the end of the 70s Rappaport was poised to become the connective tissue of American independent film between Cassavettes and Jarmusch; I'm curious to learn more of the history behind his strange career, his disappearance in the 80s and hard turn into criticism starting in the 90s.

Climax (Gaspar Noe, 2018) 6/10

Definitely an experience. I liked the dance stuff, and it captures that overwhelmed druggy feeling effectively, but its rapid descent into Lord of the Flies territory is alternately inane and horrifying. With stuff this extreme I always end up feeling both like it would've been more effective if it had been more understated, and like it doesn't go as far as its darker moments seem to tease (what can, and why would it?). I hope Noe's not being ironic when he says he wants to reexamine his career after he's gotten the most positive feedback on the project he worked the least on -- incest, dead kids, and violently terminated pregnancies just don't have the kind of shock value post-GOT that they did when he started working, and no judgment, but it's kind of nuts that an almost 60-year-old man is still so obsessed with the darkest corners of youth culture.

Almayer's Folly (Chantal Akerman, 2011) 10/10

Akerman's modernized take, in more ways than one, on tropical Conrad. The kind of film I only thought I'd get to see in dreams, every shot charged with energy and resonant with cryptic meaning. Maybe the best use of light and shadow since Sternberg. Probably the most incisive study of colonial heritage by a European filmmaker. Powerful alchemical stuff.

Tokyo Story (Ozu Yasujiro, 1953) (rewatch) 10/10

Pictures of the Old World (Dusan Hanak, 1972) 6/10

“What is of value? I wasn’t taught that.”
“I’ve forgotten.”
“I’ve got a headache, I can’t tell you anymore.”

Despite some tender and profound moments, a little underwhelming. I'm not crazy about the quickly-flipped-scrapbook style, which gives it the feeling of a preview for a great, very long film; as it is I feel I have some sense of the inhabitants of this old world but only intriguing glimpses of the place itself. I don't know if it's the (lack of) context or how they're filmed, but many of these little tableaus -- eg a cat slinking out of its door, then its owner walking out of his, with three chickens following him onto the threshold -- feel like they should have some poetic appeal, but end up feeling just pedestrian, which is maybe part of the point. There are some amazing shots though: a cow with blinders, a glowing graveyard, sheep in the forest, and a makeshift bagpipe performance on a misty field are among the highlights. I love the omnipresence of animals and the recurring presence of folk music. The classical score, on the other hand, feels a bit overstated for the otherwise detached, gritty style, as do some of the dubbed-in sound effects. There's also a bizarre detour into space exploration inspired by one interview, especially out of place given the film's otherwise excessive tightness, maybe to comment on the backwardness of progress or to contrast old and new worlds. Anyhow I'm left with more questions than answers, but it's a solid piece of fragmentary documentary art that probably influenced a number of films I like more. Wish this rip had had better subtitles too, if only to learn what's credited to Jan Svankmajer.

America's Grandpa (Mark Rappaport, 2018) 6/10

I wouldn't have known Will Geer's name or face, but turns out I have seen some of his films, and I enjoyed this slight and slightly overlong look at his roller-coaster of a career. A gay communist activist, he played a cavalcade of old men in B movies before and after he was blacklisted, eventually garnering widespread adoration playing the grandpa in the Waltons at the end of his career. Nice distillation of the unforeseeable twists and turns we take throughout life.

The Boy Who Cried (Mark Rappaport, 2016) 4/10

“What’s sadder than remembering your high school years or college years as the high point of your life? Being reminded that the high point was between the time you were 8 and 10.”

Child stardom is a phenomenon rich for psychological probing, but this is more of a laundry list of performances comprising the brief career of Chris Olsen, whose popularity with some of the biggest Hollywood directors Rappaport theoretically attributes to his ability to cry on cue. The success of these late video essays seems to rely so much on how interesting their subjects are. I didn't find this one very insightful, but it does make me eager to rewatch Bigger Than Life again.

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#8

Post by OldAle1 » June 29th, 2020, 4:30 pm

This ended up being an AMAZING week for me, with several really excellent films, and two (the Buñuel and Watkins films) that will go onto my all-time favorites list, with the Wakins a likely top 100 or even top 50 addition. Now what will I have to demote?

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED

Da nao tian gong / The Monkey King / Uproar in Heaven (Wan Laiming/Cheng Tang, 1963)

I think this is the first film I've seen based on Journey to the West, and the titular character, one of the protagonists of this 16th-century classic of Chinese literature. There are dozens of film and tv adaptations, comics, etc; I just looked at a couple of Wiki pages and realized I'd have to set aside a bit of time if I want to learn more - this is a huge monument in Chinese culture. Anyway this 2-hour mainland animated film looks to be about the third adaptation - there's a 1927 silent feature, and a 1941 animated film - and judging from what little I have read, and this film and one of the next few I watched, going through a bunch of these films would be a lot of fun, though reading the original work would probably be really helpful. Maybe next time we do this challenge...

Anyway this was a lot of fun, though it did start to feel a bit too much at times - animated action is something I usually don't want in large doses. The Monkey King goes off to find a great weapon suitable to his abilities, and when the gods notice his successful quest, he is taken up to Heaven in the hopes that being given responsibilities will calm him down and make him a better ruler to his own people and subject of the Jade Emperor. Things don't go well as he sabotages every position he's put in. Pretty good animation - probably better than anything else I've seen from the 60s actually - and nice production design.

Hu di bei / The Butterfly Chalice (Cheh Chang/Chiu Feng Yuan, 1965)

A young man, trained in martial arts and the son of a minor official, comes to the aid of an old fisherman who is being bullied in the marketplace, and accidentally kills the leader of the bullies, who turns out to be the son of a more significant official. Fleeing, the first man encounters the daughter of the now-deceased fisherman he had helped, and is protected by her - and of course they fall in love. Meanwhile his father is summoned by the lord whose son was killed and it's demanded that he produce his son - or lose his own life. Sounds fairly ordinary, but this is enlivened by it's musical elements, and the typical Shaw Brothers production, which is especially lovely in the night-time sequences. This is right at the moment when the musical was giving way to martial arts, and is one of a few films in the mid-60s that incorporate both music and action fairly equally (though I'd say that this is primarily a musical overall). Not really great, and the sort of farcical elements that predominate in the last couple of reels were a bit odd, but certainly fun.

Bian cheng san xia / The Magnificent Trio (Cheh Chang, 1966)

Here we have another early Cheh Chang film, this one squarely in the martial arts realm, with a historical storyline that seems very archetypal, and could easily be re-imagined as a western, gangster or samurai film. A young swordsman, Lu (Jimmy Wang Yu), escaping from battle happens on a village where the local magistrate is starving the townspeople to death, and a small group of farmers have kidnapped his daughter in the hopes of bargaining with him. When his swordsmanship proves adequate to impress the magistrate, he calls on more experienced fights - but Lu manages to find aid himself in the form of a couple of other serious sword-masters - hence the title. This is solid stuff if, like some of the other stuff I've seen from this era, a little slow in the action by the standards of today (or even the 70s). It's the earliest film I can remember to have significant wirework, which is actually much better looking than I would have predicted.

Tie shan gong zhu / Princess Iron Fan (Meng Hua Ho, 1966)

Another film based on Journey to the West and the Monkey King, this makes references to several of the events and characters depicted in the 1963 Chinese animated film above, but I assume isn't in any way a "sequel". It starts out strong, with a young master, the Tang monk, and his three helpers - a pig-like man, a hairy bearded guy (if he's supposed to represent an animal, I didn't catch it), and the Monkey King - on a journey in which they have to pass the Fire Mountain, which can only be done by dealing with the titular Princess, whose magical Iron Fan can beat down the flames - or expand them. Then there are the two White Skeleton sisters to deal with, who want to eat the flesh of the Tang monk and gain immortality. This is notable for having a couple of moments of nudity - which I presume were as rare in HK cinema in the mid-60s as they were in most of the world - and for having more blood than most of the other films I've seen up to this point. It's plenty of fun at times but overall I have to say it was a bit grating in the end - the songs (yes, another semi-musical) seemed more out-of-place here, and the storylines overall a bit confusing and ultimately kind of dull. Still, with the usual Shaw production flare, worth seeing.

Eureka (Ernie Gehr, 1974)

Read the IMDb description for what this is "about", it says it all succinctly enough. A then seven-decade-old film, a long shot from a trolley moving towards a station and filming straight ahead as cars, pedestrians, horses move back and forth, in and out of frame, with the frames multiplied 8x so that we have a 4-5 minute film becoming a 30-35 minute work. If you are into this particular kind of structuralist cinema - a very obvious analog here is Wavelength you will probably find this rather hypnotic as I did; if not you'll think it's horribly boring, stupid and pointless.

Path of Cessation (Robert E. Fulton, 1974)

One of Fulton's several ethnographic films - I've also seen Inca Light - this one most of an hour in the company of the people and landscapes of Tibet. A beautiful long static high-contrast shot inside a courtyard - maybe a monastery, hard to tell - with a bellringer leads to a more typical flurry of montages with lots of optical printing and overlays as seems typical for the director, with color and contrast varying strongly from moment to moment at times. I couldn't tell you too much what it's "about" or "means" but I find this stuff pretty beautiful and engaging.

Angst essen Seele auf / Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)

I've wanted to see this for a long time, in significant part because of writings by Jonathan Rosenbaum and others, comparing it with both Sirk, who I've really grown to love, in particular All That Heaven Allows, and Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven, another close variation on the theme. In fact I had planned to watch them all in a row while my mom was still alive - we had watched the Sirk film years ago and she loved that - but it never happened. But the other two films are still pretty strong in memory, so reflections on them and on the theme in general were inevitable.

And what is the theme? On the surface, an illicit - or at least highly disapproved of - love relationship; in the Sirk film, it's an older wealthy woman and a younger man, in the Haynes film it's an older wealthy woman and a similarly-aged black man; and here it's an older working-class woman and a black African immigrant. So a combination of race, age, and class figures into all of these films in some way, and we cannot leave out sexuality - Rock Hudson, who played the younger man in All That Heaven Allows, was a closeted gay man; there is a secondary gay relationship in Haynes' film, and Haynes is gay himself, and Fassbinder's film stars El Hedi Ben Salam, with whom the director was having a relationship. A potent mix of all kinds of "outsider" characters and attitudes then is at work in all three films, and taken together they present a complex portrait of what it is like to have to face societal pressures and narrow-mindedness, and how much "fear eats the soul" even in the strongest of wills when the world is against you. I didn't know any real details about this film apart from the basics, and I have to say I was rather surprised that it is ultimately somewhat optimistic and has what might almost be called a happy ending - surprised both because this is rare in Fassbinder, and because Haynes' later film is much more dour overall. I though Haynes probably got the gloom from Fassbinder (the Sirk film, being made during the height of the Production Code, is of course not as pessimistic on it's surface as a later film could be), but now I think it comes from somewhere else. In any case this is a beautiful film - full of rich, saturated colors and great music and two great performances (Brigitte Mira as the middle-aged cleaning woman) at it's center, and I suspect that it's the humaneness of the film - in comparison with the often very dark and cynical tone of much of the director's other work - that has propelled it into being his most popular and well-loved work. I loved it myself, though in the end it felt just a tiny bit thin to me - I would have liked an ending that was a bit...more? I'm not sure exactly how to put it. The rather quick wrap-up was a bit disconcerting, I guess. Still great, just not, on one viewing anyway, as great as a couple of the director's other films.

Le fantôme de la liberté / The Phantom of Liberty (Luis Buñuel, 1974)

Buñuel in high surrealism mode, with elements that get into full-on farce at times, though the weirdness is never far away. The narrative is one of my favorite types, the rondelay - the most notable example being Ophüs' La ronde - where one story leads into the next unrelated bit through the actions of one character; in this case it's usually just one character sort of running off from whatever group or story he's been part of and getting involved with something else. I only dimly remember Slacker but that might be a closer example. In any Buñuel certainly doesn't have any of the particular philosophical musings of either Ophüls or Linklater in mind here, he is as usual more interested in pure anarchy and absurdist comedy. We may all be connected, but we are such a crazy species that it takes a God's eye view to see it, and even then it's not really possible to understand. My favorite bits are probably the sniper/poet, and the absolutely wonderful sequence with the family whose daughter has disappeared - except that she hasn't. This was enormous fun, probably the most purely delightful film I've seen in weeks or months, and certainly one of my 3-4 favorite films from the director - maybe at the top right now, give that I haven't seen a lot of his other classics for decades.

La gueule ouverte / The Mouth Agape (Maurice Pialat, 1974)

Monique (Monique Mèlinand) is dying of a long, lingering illness, and her family - husband Roger (Hubert Deschamps), son Philippe (Philippe Léotard) and daughter-in-law Nathalie (Nathalie Baye), gather around her, wait, argue, etc. Roger and Philippe are both womanizers and kind of scuzzy; Nathalie never got along with Monique and seems to not be even as present emotionally as her husband or father-in-law, who certainly spend plenty of time trying to avoid the oncoming ending. Given that my mother died 8 months ago, and my brother and I were with her constantly for the last 2 weeks - and my brother spent most of that time trying to pick up women on Tinder - this does have some personal relevance to me, but on the whole I didn't really connect as much as I thought I would. Something fairly alienating to me here I guess, though I really loved Deschamps' performance, and I always like Baye even if she really doesn't have that strong a role in this case. Great last shot though.

Un homme qui dort / The Man Who Sleeps (Bernard Queysanne, 1974)

I approached this with a bit of trepidation - especially after watching the previous film, which had a lot of connections to my life; this is a film of deep existential loneliness, a condition I have always identified with, and unfortunately never so much as now. I've also wanted to read some of the work of Georges Perec, who wrote the screenplay based on his novel of the same name; his later novel La Vie mode d'emploi / Life: A User's Manual has been near the top of my to-read list for more than a decade. In other words this was a film I really wanted to see, but feared might really depress or upset me; thankfully while it is an unsettling and very dark portrait of a lonely man cut off from society, it's also a brilliant piece of filmmaking - with one of the greatest "city symphony" portraits of Paris, or maybe any city, that I've ever seen, and in the end it's not quite so bleak as it starts out being, with the brilliant narration by Ludmila Mikaël being a huge part of the reason. Our detached, indifferent "hero" (Jacques Spiesser) somehow comes more alive in the more frantic moments of voiceover towards the end, and the film enters a more dreamlike and poetic world, which captures in the end some of the actual positive elements in solitude and loneliness. Another very hard-to-describe film but suffice it to say at the end I felt more enervated than maudlin or morose.

Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma, 1974)

Typical De Palma flash, with all the "substance" being it's many nods to previous films and stories in the horror genre, most obviously of course "The Phantom of the Opera" but also "Frankenstein", "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Faust". Oh, and it's a musical comedy - predating The Rocky Horror Picture Show by a year. I do have to give it to the film that, for all the homages to other works (there's also a bit of set painting that looks a lot like similar pieces in the original Caligari), it does have a certain personal nature to it - that of the struggling artist being destroyed by a thieving producer - and the acting and some of the songs do help make it fairly enjoyable, and it never really wore out it's welcome. But at the end, like most of the director's films, it went down like a nice bar of chocolate with just a slightly stale and dull center.

Mädchen in Uniform / Girls in Uniform (Leontine Sagan, 1931)

TCM. Another film I've known about forever, and probably came close to watching back when I was more interested in German Expressionism than anything else - but that was in the late 80s and it may not have been available then. This is a really fine work about life in a repressive girls' school, and the passion that a new girl develops for one of her teachers. It does have certain Expressionist elements - a few moments of lighting in the night sequences, and that big open stairway that figures quite prominently - but overall this is certainly more naturalistic than most of the famous German films that immediately precede it, and of course it's a film of social consciousness, as much about the brutal nature of the Prussian attitudes towards conformity and discipline as it is about "the love that dare not speak it's name". I'm not entirely sure I liked the ending but the fact that I was expecting a different one - and B. Ruby Rich, who was the guest host, comments about how the original play from which this was adapted had that ending that I thought would be there. I liked what she said, and perhaps it's good that in this case
SpoilerShow
suicide by the girl was replaced with defeat for the brutal headmistress
. I don't know, still thinking about it.

The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996)

TCM. Fascinating work of meta-narrative that probes issues of representation of black gay women in particular, but also to a certain extent each larger group from which that subset is drawn. Director/writer Dunye, in her feature debut, also plays the central character with her own name, a struggling young filmmaker in Philadelphia trying to find out information about a black actress in the thirties that she knows only as "The Watermelon Woman" from one film that she saw on VHS (she also works at a video store). So the film is a quest to find out more about this woman - first her real identity and more about her career, then her personal life, which intersects in obvious ways with Dunye's (the character's) own, as a black lesbian artist who dates white women as well as black. This has all kinds of stuff going on, including some interesting subtextual bits that are just there and never commented on (why is the black male, apparently straight, owner of the video store only hiring lesbians for example?), and it has some lovely bits of humor and also plenty of poignancy. If it's got a major flaw it's that it is so ambitious that the amateurish acting and occasionally flat dialogue do get in the way of the really profound story and social criticism that Dunye is trying to explore. B. Ruby Rich again was on hand to introduce the film and she talks about how Dunye, like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, worked in video stores and this informs her work in interesting ways - and in fact more interesting than in the cases of these two male counterparts, I'd say. But Smith and QT in addition to being white men also started off their careers with fairly simple and straightforward ideas and I think a lot of their quick success and Dunye's lack of such a name can be attributed to her refusal to go the easy route - not that there probably was any really easy route for her. At any rate this is a fascinating and mostly very good film, and it's a kind of personal filmmaking that I wish we'd see more often.

Den-en ni shishu / Pastoral: To Die in the Country (Shûji Terayama, 1974)

Another work of surrealism - a surreal re-imagining of the director's childhood, with Felliniesque carnival elements; one (negative) review I read also compares it unfavorably with Jodorowsky, which I can sort of see. It's a 30something film director's analysis of and close approach to the dream-world of his youth, with naturally sex and death heavily involved as they probably are for all teenagers in the world. Hard for me to say much more about this one right now - this was my first film from Terayama and while it was very impressive, and very beautiful - lots of heavily saturated colors, and interesting use of color filters - I really don't know what to make of it. I did like the way, towards the end, the current-day 30-something director (well, an actor playing him) essentially enters the past-dream-world to interrogate his younger self, and possibly to kill his mother so that he won't exist anymore. A popular science fiction concept but one I don't recall seeing in this kind of more down-to-earth fantasy (if that's a meaningful phrase) before.

Edvard Munch (Peter Watkins, 1974)

210 minute 2-part version; actually my copy ran closer to 220 minutes but that is probably just a PAL/NTSC difference. Several years in the life of the great Norwegian painter, between roughly 1882-95, with flashbacks to childhood. Well, not flashbacks, exactly; Watkins' technique is pretty far from conventional "well this is how I remember it" storytelling, and in fact this film probably comes closer to the Proustian ideal of capturing the past and present at the same time, of memories and the modern thought interlocking seamlessly, than any other film I've seen (including two actual Proust adaptations). We see Munch's growth from a deeply self-doubting artist into one who has the strength to fend off the severe and often insulting criticism regularly hurled at him, and we simultaneously live with a man who cannot get over a rejection from a woman he only knew for a short while, who keeps recurring regularly, at any moment, all the time; who cannot get over the rejection from his father, the severity and brutality of his father, the religious conservatism and obstinacy of his father, which keeps recurring, regularly, at any moment, all the time. And we see this not only in Munch but in friends like August Strindberg, and we see how these deep, never-healed scars are slathered over with the paint of drinking and smoking and drugs, with how rejection from women - often because of unhealthy obsession, as is certainly obvious in Munch - leads to scars slathered over with sexism, misogyny, cynicism. And we see all this in Munch's work, from early realistic sketches through flirtations with impressionism and finally an expressionism or symbolism which he is known for today. And we see the restlessness of this man who cannot let go of his past, and how the work, and the drinking, and the brief affairs keep him going, keep him moving, keep him alive but never let him rest.

This is likely the greatest portrait of an artist I've ever seen, and one of the greatest films I've ever seen, period. If I haven't said anything about Watkins's style, it's really because it's not much different from that in his other films (and I've seen most of them now and really can't wait to go through the rest), and because that style - English narration (by the director), non-professional actors speaking in their own languages (mostly Norwegian, Swedish and German), scenes that have a documentary quality, with characters looking straight into the camera while answering questions about the artist, or his family, or friends - became rapidly invisible to me, as I felt myself pulled into the world of this exceptional artist and deeply tortured human in a way that almost never happens. I was with Edvard Munch for almost four hours, and I am much the better for it, and I will miss him now that he is only part of my memory.

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#9

Post by Lonewolf2003 » June 30th, 2020, 2:06 pm

Ren zhe wu di [Five Element Ninjas] (1982, Cheh Chang): 7.8 - Martial artists vs. ninjas = highly entertaining.

La dolce vita (1960, Federico Fellini) rewatch: 7.5 > 8.8 - I was happy that my first visit to the cinema since the covid crisis lockdown was for a rewatch of this Fellini near-masterpiece. Which I could appreciate much more now than more than a decade ago, still at the start of my cinematic journey :)

Chong xiao lou [House of Traps] (1982, Cheh Chang): 5.8 - Too much plotting, too many characters, too little fighting to make this memorable. The titular house disappoints immensely.

Xin shu shan jian ke [Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain] (1983, Hark Tsui): 6.0 -It's very imaginative and creative, unfortunate that doesn't make up totally for the mess this movie is. While the basic overall story is very simple, the plot is way more difficult to follow than it should be. The editing is so frantic it's unclear in many scenes what exactly is going on, hindering my enjoyment of this. The best aspect, beside the aforementioned creativity, is the humor, especially in the first 15 minutes in the "real" world.

The Meg (2018, Jon Turteltaub): 6.5 - Of course it has major flaw and stupidities, but it does what it has to do - having entertaining supensefull shark megalodon attacks - well enough.

Wu Lang ba gua gun [The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter] (1984) rewatch: 8.5 > 8.2 - What this makes one of, if not, the best martial arts movies is not just it having some of the most amazing fights in the genre but also it being better than almost all in the genre in other general aspects of moviemaking; directing, cinematography and acting. It doesn't just have great fights, it also really well conveys the dramatic story behind those fights. The biggest flaw is that the last part moves to quick with the transformation of Gordon Lui from hothead into a composed monk happening to suddenly.

Yau doh lung fu bong [Throw Down] (2004, Johnnie To): 8.0 - Leave it to To to make a stylish neonoirish movie about the least exciting martial arts; judo. What makes this a very atypical martial arts movie, if you even want or can call it that, is that the fights are secondary to the characters developments. The final fights are almost an afterthought after the personal victory from pulling one self up from the gutter. Therefore it really focus on that martial arts are about the betterment of oneself and less about beating once opponent. Although the last also happens plenty and delivers probably some of the coolest looking judo fights ever shown.

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#10

Post by Onderhond » June 30th, 2020, 2:54 pm

@sol:
From your non-China list, I've seen The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (0.5*), which I hate with a vengeance. La Antena looks pretty interesting, not 100% my thing but it looks different enough for me to enjoy. Will put that one on my list :)

@prodigalgodson:
I liked Climax better than you, but I do agree it's a little strange to see a film like that from someone who is close to retirement age. Then again, young people rarely get a chance as director, let alone that they're given much creative freedom, so who else is going to make these films? On top of that, Noé isn't even doing "contemporary youth culture", he's doing early 90s kids in Climax, and somehow that still feels kinda fresh.

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#11

Post by Lonewolf2003 » June 30th, 2020, 2:58 pm

Selected reactions to others:
@sol glad you like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly after the disappointment FaFDm was for you last week. I saw Robinson Crusoe on Mars, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre and The Honeymoon Killers fairly recent, liked all more than you. But get your criticism on all. I wasn't a fan of the acting either in the last. Dragon Inn, the Hu one, (haven't seen the other._ belongs among the top of the genre. I always thought Jackie Chan was the titular Drunken Master, cause it's he who at the end masters all forms of drunken fighting.

@peeptoad: The Terrorizers: great film! And so are in a bit lesser extent Le Trou and Mouchette.

@prodigalgodson: Great performance by Lancaster in Conversation Piece indeed. Liked it about the same as you. Too bad Climax didn't work for you completely, like said in recent topics its among the best movies of 2018 for me.

@OldAle1: Great review of Edvard Munch, which I liked a lot, but not loved as much as you.

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#12

Post by sol » June 30th, 2020, 3:57 pm

Onderhond wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 2:54 pm
@sol:
From your non-China list, I've seen The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (0.5*), which I hate with a vengeance. La Antena looks pretty interesting, not 100% my thing but it looks different enough for me to enjoy. Will put that one on my list :)
Must be fun being the only person above the age of 10 who prefers Alvin and the Chipmunks to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. :lol: All kidding aside, nothing surprises me when it comes to your ratings for film that are more than 20 years old, and it has reached a point where I see something like a 1.5 star review for Cairo Station and I go "ah, Onderhond actually thought that was pretty decent". For what it's worth, I agree with you that the finale of Cairo Station is the best part and far superior to the earlier scenes. Also agree about the cinematography, but there was definitely enough in there for me that I liked the film a lot overall, even with a final stretch that far outclasses everything before. Don't recall noises issues, but maybe the print that I saw is better than whatever has been added to Netflix.

Seen nothing else from you this week. Wouldn't mind seeing Alone in the Dark, I know it's a genre classic, but yeah, Carpenter's Halloween is far from my favourite horror movie, so I have my reservations about watching movies that try to follow in its footsteps. Lots do indeed seem to have "daft characters".

I probably wouldn't recommend La Antena to you since you're not into silent cinema. Then again, it definitely tries to do something different with the silent movie approach. And you do care more about visuals than narratives and it is a film that is very strong on its visuals. I predict a 2.0/5 for you. :)

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 2:58 pm
Selected reactions to others:
@sol glad you like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly after the disappointment FaFDm was for you last week. I saw Robinson Crusoe on Mars, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre and The Honeymoon Killers fairly recent, liked all more than you. But get your criticism on all. I wasn't a fan of the acting either in the last. Dragon Inn, the Hu one, (haven't seen the other._ belongs among the top of the genre. I always thought Jackie Chan was the titular Drunken Master, cause it's he who at the end masters all forms of drunken fighting.
Huh, good point on Drunken Master. I had never even thought about that, but I guess it's the whole pupil becomes teacher dynamic.

Oddly enough, I thought I was being super-generous with my take on Robinson Crusoe on Mars. It has nothing on The Martian certainly, and the whole thing's a little silly (no problem breathing or eating on Mars; only problem is aliens who enslave humanoid creatures).

And yeah, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was better than I could have ever possibly expected after For a Few Dollars More. Still, I'd only place it as Leone's third best after both the Once films.

Yours:

I also liked La Dolce Vita more upon rewatch, but I still don't hold it in very high esteem (it was initially a 'dislike' for me). Big problem for me is that the plot only really takes off halfway in when his friend doing that unexpected thing causes Marcello to review his life. Will rewatch again eventually.

I liked Five Element Ninjas less than you, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter about the same, and while I also that The Meg was surprisingly decent, I would only have thought to call it "entertaining" and "suspenseful" on occasion.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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#13

Post by Lonewolf2003 » June 30th, 2020, 4:33 pm

sol wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 3:57 pm
Onderhond wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 2:54 pm
@sol:
From your non-China list, I've seen The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (0.5*), which I hate with a vengeance. La Antena looks pretty interesting, not 100% my thing but it looks different enough for me to enjoy. Will put that one on my list :)
Must be fun being the only person above the age of 10 who prefers Alvin and the Chipmunks to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. :lol: All kidding aside, nothing surprises me when it comes to your ratings for film that are more than 20 years old, and it has reached a point where I see something like a 1.5 star review for Cairo Station and I go "ah, Onderhond actually thought that was pretty decent". For what it's worth, I agree with you that the finale of Cairo Station is the best part and far superior to the earlier scenes. Also agree about the cinematography, but there was definitely enough in there for me that I liked the film a lot overall, even with a final stretch that far outclasses everything before. Don't recall noises issues, but maybe the print that I saw is better than whatever has been added to Netflix.

Seen nothing else from you this week. Wouldn't mind seeing Alone in the Dark, I know it's a genre classic, but yeah, Carpenter's Halloween is far from my favourite horror movie, so I have my reservations about watching movies that try to follow in its footsteps. Lots do indeed seem to have "daft characters".

I probably wouldn't recommend La Antena to you since you're not into silent cinema. Then again, it definitely tries to do something different with the silent movie approach. And you do care more about visuals than narratives and it is a film that is very strong on its visuals. I predict a 2.0/5 for you. :)

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 2:58 pm
Selected reactions to others:
@sol glad you like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly after the disappointment FaFDm was for you last week. I saw Robinson Crusoe on Mars, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre and The Honeymoon Killers fairly recent, liked all more than you. But get your criticism on all. I wasn't a fan of the acting either in the last. Dragon Inn, the Hu one, (haven't seen the other._ belongs among the top of the genre. I always thought Jackie Chan was the titular Drunken Master, cause it's he who at the end masters all forms of drunken fighting.
Huh, good point on Drunken Master. I had never even thought about that, but I guess it's the whole pupil becomes teacher dynamic.

Oddly enough, I thought I was being super-generous with my take on Robinson Crusoe on Mars. It has nothing on The Martian certainly, and the whole thing's a little silly (no problem breathing or eating on Mars; only problem is aliens who enslave humanoid creatures).

And yeah, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was better than I could have ever possibly expected after For a Few Dollars More. Still, I'd only place it as Leone's third best after both the Once films.

Yours:

I also liked La Dolce Vita more upon rewatch, but I still don't hold it in very high esteem (it was initially a 'dislike' for me). Big problem for me is that the plot only really takes off halfway in when his friend doing that unexpected thing causes Marcello to review his life. Will rewatch again eventually.

I liked Five Element Ninjas less than you, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter about the same, and while I also that The Meg was surprisingly decent, I would only have thought to call it "entertaining" and "suspenseful" on occasion.
I wouldn't call the whole movie suspenseful, but the parts that matter had decent enough amount of suspense. And not all parts were as entertaining. Surprisingly decent is a perfect way to describe my experience with the movie.

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#14

Post by Onderhond » June 30th, 2020, 9:12 pm

sol wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 3:57 pm
Must be fun being the only person above the age of 10 who prefers Alvin and the Chipmunks to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. :lol:
If I was in a bad mood I could argue both films are actually targeted at the same demographic :hmph:
But yeah, Alvin's "saving grace" was its runtime and pacing. GBU is twice as long with only half as much plot. Long runtimes tend to weigh heavily on my ratings, especially when I don't like a film. Wouldn't want to revisit either film though!
sol wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 3:57 pm
All kidding aside, nothing surprises me when it comes to your ratings for film that are more than 20 years old, and it has reached a point where I see something like a 1.5 star review for Cairo Station and I go "ah, Onderhond actually thought that was pretty decent".
Make it 40 years, but yeah, pretty much. Just x2 my scores to get a better idea I guess.
As for the noise in Cairo Station, it wasn't much to do with the print, just the music + dialogue + background noise that started to bother me after a while.
sol wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 3:57 pm
I probably wouldn't recommend La Antena to you since you're not into silent cinema. Then again, it definitely tries to do something different with the silent movie approach. And you do care more about visuals than narratives and it is a film that is very strong on its visuals. I predict a 2.0/5 for you. :)
Based on 10% of the trailer, I'm going for 3*. We'll see when I ever get around to it :)

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prodigalgodson
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#15

Post by prodigalgodson » July 1st, 2020, 8:51 pm

Everyone else's:

sol
GBU 8 - hey, glad you finally saw and liked this!
Dragon Inn 8 - I've seen very little wuxia, but I thought this was awesome
Glad you're enjoying these late period silent, haha; never heard of Dr. Plonk, but sounds cool.

hond
Cairo Station 5 - I have a soft spot for both noir and movies set around trains, but wasn't too impressed with this either.
Re: Climax, I'd argue that film in general is inordinately structured around youth culture; forgot or didn't notice the time setting, thanks for the correction. Suffice it to say, a Noe film about octogenarians would be verrry interesting.

pda
Burn After Reading 7 - watched this again on a whim recently, pretty funny stuff
Franciscan Sketches - aww, thanks for the love!
Invocation of My Demon Brother 8 - thought this was pretty darn cool when I was in high school but haven't seen it since
Eaux d'artifice 7 - thought this was pretty darn cool in high school; rewatched it recently and still thought it was pretty cool

toad
The Connection - nice; I've only seen a couple shorts from Clarke but I liked them both, and am eager to see both Portrait of Jason and her Coleman doc
The Terrorizers 9 - awesome stuff, along with Taipei Story I'm eager to revisit
Mouchette 6 - among Bresson's weaker outings for my money
Le troue 5 - some great moments, but pretty average overall; I didn't see it under ideal circumstances either though
Stray Dogs - ahh I really need to catch up on this, and more Tsai in general; Rebels of the Neon God is still my favorite of his if you're looking for early recommendations

jt
The Kids Are All Right 3 - Hallmark-tier family drama
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 4 - not nearly as fun as the first one
Zama 10 - on the shortlist for my favorite films of the last decade

Ale
Path of Cessation - thanks for the rec, managed to dig this up online and stoked to see it
Fear Eats the Soul 9 - one of the highlights of a great career for my money; don't remember the very ending but loved the shifting power dynamic throughout, and thought it was a pretty harsh indictment of human nature, from which the leads aren't exempted
The Mouth Agape 9 - this was very personal to me too, and inspired one of my first short stories; I can see how Pialat's style would be alienating, but it resonates so much with me
The Man Who Sleeps 4 - haven't seen this since high school, when it was very popular on FG; I was reading a lot of existentialists at the time so I remember finding it facile despite of course being able to relate to the lead; I should give it another shot now
Pastoral: To Die in the Country 5 - another old FG favorite, didn't like the aesthetic and had a hard time getting into it, but another one that might be worth revisiting
Edvard Munch 7 - intrigued by this but as usual with Watkins had a hard time getting fully immersed; I think I have the DVD somewhere, your review makes me want to give it another spin

wolf
La dolce vita 9 - nice, easily my favorite Fellini at the time
And yeah, Lancaster is that dude.

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Onderhond
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#16

Post by Onderhond » July 1st, 2020, 8:59 pm

prodigalgodson wrote:
July 1st, 2020, 8:51 pm
Re: Climax, I'd argue that film in general is inordinately structured around youth culture
Rarely about contemporary youth culture though, or through the eyes of young people. It's usually just a director reminiscing about days long gone.
I mean, the soundtrack of Climax still feels rather fresh, even though it features some 30 year old rave and acid tracks. It should be all means feel old and distant.

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sol
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#17

Post by sol » July 2nd, 2020, 10:41 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
July 1st, 2020, 8:51 pm
sol
GBU 8 - hey, glad you finally saw and liked this!
Dragon Inn 8 - I've seen very little wuxia, but I thought this was awesome
Glad you're enjoying these late period silent, haha; never heard of Dr. Plonk, but sounds cool.
Yeah, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was better than I could have ever expected.

The Dragon Inn remake (1990s version) is pretty cool; the 1960s original less so. I must say that one cliche that I really became tired of by the end of the month was women dressing as men and being mistaken for men when they look so feminine, though I guess the 60s Dragon Inn wouldn't be the most egregious example of this.

Dr Plonk is amazing, but I would only recommend it if you really like silent comedies. It's certainly the most genuine-looking contemporary silent film that I know of, but the film has a substantial hate-base on here from those never enjoyed silent movie slapstick in the first place, so I would only ever recommend it to fans of the genre.

And our next podcast episode is on contemporary silent films (already recorded but in the editing stages). Check the header; should be announced there when it is released.

Yours:

While I have always liked Burt Lancaster as an actor, it is indeed his performances in Conversation Piece and especially The Leopard that solidified him a place in my all-time favourites list.

Tokyo Story was yeah, good at the time. Can't barely remember anything now. Sorry you didn't like Climax as much as I did. I think it works best as taken as a variant on the contemporary zombie/infection film.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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peeptoad
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#18

Post by peeptoad » July 2nd, 2020, 12:16 pm

prodigalgodson wrote:
July 1st, 2020, 8:51 pm


toad
The Connection - nice; I've only seen a couple shorts from Clarke but I liked them both, and am eager to see both Portrait of Jason and her Coleman doc
The Terrorizers 9 - awesome stuff, along with Taipei Story I'm eager to revisit
...
Stray Dogs - ahh I really need to catch up on this, and more Tsai in general; Rebels of the Neon God is still my favorite of his if you're looking for early recommendations
I am, thanks. I have loved everything of Tsai's so far... and most everything I have seen from Taiwan, and China, from the mid-80s forward. I am also finding the China 6th Gen directors really interesting so far, in addition to the newer Taiwanese filmmakers. I'll check out Taipei Story too. :cheers:
The Clarke film was very good: staged, but with a somewhat realistic feel. It had a good, even mix of music, humor, and a bit of dramatic tension. The Cool World has even more of a doc feel to it, though it wasn't as good as the former imo. I'll prob check out Clarke's shorts someday. I lobbied for an official "shorts" challenge last year, but it didn't make the grade.
Last edited by peeptoad on July 2nd, 2020, 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Onderhond
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#19

Post by Onderhond » July 2nd, 2020, 12:24 pm

peeptoad wrote:
July 2nd, 2020, 12:16 pm
I am finding the China 6th Gen directors really interesting so far. I'll check out Taipei Story too. :cheers:
Probably a good thing we don't have any Taiwanese members here, I'm pretty sure they won't appreciate the Taiwanese New Wave being mentioned as part of the 5th/6th Generation Chinese directors :D

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peeptoad
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#20

Post by peeptoad » July 2nd, 2020, 12:48 pm

Onderhond wrote:
July 2nd, 2020, 12:24 pm
peeptoad wrote:
July 2nd, 2020, 12:16 pm
I am finding the China 6th Gen directors really interesting so far. I'll check out Taipei Story too. :cheers:
Probably a good thing we don't have any Taiwanese members here, I'm pretty sure they won't appreciate the Taiwanese New Wave being mentioned as part of the 5th/6th Generation Chinese directors :D
I wasn't, or didn't intend to... I meant Taiwanese and the 6th Gen. They weren't meant to be synonymous with each other. My bad. I'll try to edit. This is why I don't communicate well in writing.

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Onderhond
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#21

Post by Onderhond » July 2nd, 2020, 1:04 pm

No harm done! In any case, I think they have worse things to worry about right now.

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peeptoad
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#22

Post by peeptoad » July 2nd, 2020, 1:41 pm

Onderhond wrote:
July 2nd, 2020, 1:04 pm
No harm done! In any case, I think they have worse things to worry about right now.
:thumbsup: yes most likely worse things to worry about though if Taiwan was still a WHO member the globe might actually be in a better state right now.

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Lonewolf2003
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#23

Post by Lonewolf2003 » July 3rd, 2020, 10:42 am

Peeptoad just knows the Chinese gov is watching this board too, so he's smart to be carefull. :lol:

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Onderhond
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#24

Post by Onderhond » July 3rd, 2020, 10:50 am

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
July 3rd, 2020, 10:42 am
so he's smart to be carefull. :lol:
I think you made a small tactical error of your own there :whistling:

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