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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 27, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 27, 2020

#1

Post by sol » July 5th, 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

Killer Darts (1968). Carrying around the deadly dart that killed her mother, a young woman finds herself at odds when evidence surfaces suggesting that her kung fu master was the one responsible in this Shaw Brothers production. The film is a bit more complicated than that, and perhaps even overly complex, but this is pretty entertaining throughout even when some of the finer details of the plot become fuzzy. There is a surprisingly large amount of graphic bloodletting on display - and right from the pre-credits scene in which a fighter chops off his own arm to prevent poison spreading! Stomach wounds also lead to fountains of blood here, while there is such zaniness as the lead actress karate chopping down whole trees in anger and whacking away giant spinning discs thrown at her in between dodging darts. Good dart action too as one might expect. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Wedding in White (1972). Pregnant after a soldier on furlough rapes her, a teenager clashes with her war veteran father who blames her for tempting the young "man of honour" by dressing inappropriately in this solemn Canadian drama. It is refreshing to find a film of this vintage that deals so frankly and openly with victim blaming in rape and the practice of marrying off pregnant girls without considering their feelings. Carol Kane is so passive throughout as the victim in the case that it is always hard to like her, but her passive nature is somewhat essential in showing just how little she is considered in her parents' scheme of things. The final few minutes are especially haunting and while director William Fruet would go onto have a successful horror career, what transpires here is in some ways more horrific than anything he would later bring to screen. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Search and Destroy (1979). His old army buddies killed off by a vengeful Vietnamese man, a former soldier tries stop the killer while trailed by cops who think that he is guilty in this action thriller from horror luminary William Fruet. The film has some decent suspense and thrills, including silent cat-and-mouse routines in empty factories, fights against Niagara Falls and rooftop shootouts in crowded streets late at night. The film does not have a lot driving it though between the occasional confrontations. Perhaps if the soldier was being framed by the Vietnamese man for the murders this would have had extra sizzle; as it is, it is never clear why the police do not simply believe him because he has no motive for killing his friends. Tisa Farrow is also thoroughly under-developed as a love interest, but George Kennedy pops up solid as ever in support. (first viewing, online) ★★

Bedroom Eyes (1984). Ashamed of his fetish, a peeping tom becomes a prime suspect after anonymously reporting the murder of a naked woman he was watching in this thriller that is actually not as lurid as it sounds. While some viewers have been critical of how little nudity there is and how mundane the witnessed activities appear to be, this feels on-point. With the camera fixated on his eyes (rather than the goings-on) whenever he peeps, the film acutely captures how the experience feels for him as well as how invasive his presence is with colours often flashing over his face. The wrong-man angle actually feels like the perfect comeuppance for a pervert too. Less successful here is a female psychiatrist character who all-too-quickly becomes his lover and confidant, but this is a briskly paced thriller provided one does not go in expecting an erotic drama. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Watchers (1988). Genetically altered to have extraordinary intelligence, a golden retriever escapes captivity after a laboratory explosion, but is soon pursued by government agents and a mutant killing machine creature in this Canadian thriller. This is an odd film that pulls in two near polar directions. As a comedy, it is heartwarming with lots of great moments as the well-trained dog bonds with Corey Haim and impresses him with his intelligence. The film is also partially a horror movie of the 'creature feature' variety though, and crazy as some of the kills are with the mutant beast's face obscured, the reasons why he was bred to track down the dog never quite make sense and the more violent scenes actually feel a little generic against all of the clever tricks that the dog performs. This is engaging while it lasts, but certainly uneven in the execution. (first viewing, online) ★★

Murder by Night (1989). Pestered by a detective who believes that he is faking his condition, an amnesic man tries to work out why he was found passed out near a murder scene in this nifty telepic from Canada. Michael Ironside is perfect as the taunting and unrelenting police officer and the film has some appropriately haunting dreams and nightmares as pieces of the puzzle slowly come back to the protagonist. What works best about the film though is the personal identity themes it taps into with the protagonist trying to rediscover who he is and whether he wants to even be that person; "maybe I don't want to remember". The pacing of the project is sometimes off, with a love subplot a particular distraction; the final ten minutes are also a bit underwhelming when all cards come out on the table, but this generally effective - even unsettling at times. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Little Devils: The Birth (1993). Discovering that his reclusive neighbour's demonic sculptures have come to life, a writer of sleazy fiction teams up with a local doctor and his girlfriend to stop the critters rampaging in this enjoyable Canadian B-movie. The film has copped some flak over its similarities to Gremlins and Ghoulies, but with the "little devils" all armed with insane weapons (including acid sprayers and flame throwers), the film does its own crazy thing. The gooey creature effects are great too, creepy with realistic movements, and the film has some amazing pyrotechnic special effects. As a narrative, this is less solid with a poorly explained mythology involved cursed mud (?) and possession (??) and some of the supporting performances (local thugs) are plain bad, but the whole thing is done with such imagination and energy that it is really fun. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Twists of Terror (1997). Three tales of human beings doing terrible things to one another are strung together in this horror anthology. While certain plot developments are predictable, each tale is more twisted than it seems, and with the same writer and director behind all three, the quality is more consistent than the average horror anthology. The wraparound segment is well done too. The first tale becomes darker and darker as it explores an anniversary date that goes to hell. The second tale is really creepy with how it progresses along from a Cujo variant to something even more terrifying, while the third tale has the niftiest plot developments of three. It is very hard to see where the third episode is going from where it starts. The acting and cinematography is quite classy too - unexpectedly so given that this was released as a telepic. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Teen Lust (2014). Losing his virginity becomes more important than ever to a timid high school student when he discovers that his parents wish to virgin-sacrifice him in this energetic horror-comedy from Canada. The film comes with some nice satiric touches as his family are devout Satan worshippers who take their church sermons just as seriously as the most pious Christians. More time could have in fact been dedicated to exploring this alternate look at a religious upbringing before everything becomes a chase thriller, but it is an enjoyable ride throughout thanks to the amazing chemistry between Jesse Carere as the protagonist and Daryl Sabara as his best friend. The chase part does indeed run a little long, but there is plenty of zaniness throughout with some cool magic tricks. Cary Elwes also has a fun cameo as the leader of the Satanic cult. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Knock Knock (2015). Seduced by two young women who he helped one rainy evening, a happily married man soon discovers that the girls have a darker side when he asks them to leave in this Eli Roth thriller. The film begins well with loads of tension and uncertainty as to whether the film will go down a Fatal Attraction path. Alas, it reaches its craziest and most satiric halfway in, resulting in the second of the half feeling like aimless scenes of the women going berserk. Without giving too much away, it actually becomes a lot like Hard Candy for a new generation, but with Hard Candy, its protagonist always had a clear purpose in mind, whereas the girls here seemingly select their victim at random and seem to be only doing it for fun. The film ends on a weirdly comical note too with a darkly humorous penultimate scene and a jokey final line. (first viewing, online) ★

REVISIONS

Wavelength (1967). Set inside a single apartment room, this unconventional thriller shows the days before and after a resident is murdered. The film is shot to look like one continuous slow zoom towards an object on the wall, and Michael Snow employs an interesting bag of cinematic tricks to create the illusion as colours are inversed and shots are dissolved together to disguise the editing and blur the sense of time before the murder and after the body is discovered; after all, death is death, regardless if he was discovered one minute or one week later. Those looking for an explanation or context to the killing might be disappointed, but this is a very deliberate manipulation of generic expectations by Snow. The varying pitch sound design becomes a bit irksome and repetitive upon revision, but this stacks up well to rewatch as something daringly different. (second viewing, online) ★★★★

<---> (1969). Or Back and Forth, the camera in this experimental Michael Snow movie rocks to and fro in an empty classroom. This might sound repetitive, but the film is quite the opposite after its first eleven minutes. The false sense of security that Snow establishes by the exact same thing happening hypnotically for so long (with only whirring sounds heard) makes the rest of the film full of surprises. People randomly pop up, the speed and direction of the swaying changes and then we start to see things in the windows... or do we? Upon second viewing, the classroom setting seems all the more fascinating, perhaps symbolic of repetitive lessons where it is easy to become distracted by things going on outside. Snow makes this quite a disquieting experience too: his camera refuses to fixate on any single image, which leads to many eerie blurs. (second viewing, online) ★★★★

So Is This (1983). Flashing single words on screen at time, Michael Snow address such issues as the making of this very movie, censorship and audience expectations in this amusing experimental film. While the whole thing is white letters on black background and no audio, it is very noticeably a Snow project from the way he manipulates the size of the letters, the speed between words and how long "length" and "pause" humorously linger on screen for. And humour is rife throughout So Is This; it is frequently laugh-out-loud funny as Snow lies about length of the film (and asks if the prospect of something longer is "frightening"), as he lingers on the heading "Warning:" for ages and as he flashes swear words throughout a segment dedicated to the Ontario Censorship Board. This is just as much fun a second time round too, if occasionally repetitive. (second viewing, online) ★★★★

*Corpus Callosum (2002). Workers in a high-rise office building are subjected to humiliating experiments that defy physics and human perception in this fascinating Michael Snow movie. While a basic plot can be deciphered here, this is not a traditional narrative, and with rather random cuts to a lounge room and a classroom, the film does not progress like a typical story. This is, however, a strength of the project with electrocution, upside down shots, posters melting off walls, walking monoliths, wheelchairs driving over the frame (and the list goes on) as Snow encourages us to think twice about what we are seeing - and to a further degree, how elaborately constructed all movie scenes are. A second viewing of the film also reveals some humour easily missed the first time; most notably, some of the unattended computers display the movie's opening shot! (second viewing, online) ★★★★

Martyrs (2008). While the overarching mystery is not quite the same upon revision, Martyrs is arguably even more disturbing on second viewing, knowing exactly what is going on, since the film is so much of an indictment of the unspeakable things that human beings are capable of doing to one another in pursuit of a goal. The plot in a nutshell involves a young Québécoise woman who agrees to help a childhood friend exact revenge on those who she suspects abused her as a child despite being unsure of her friend's sanity and memory, something that leads the initial murders being quite horrific here... but that is nothing compared to what is to come (which is best left unspoiled). While some of the third act scenes feel a bit repetitive, the film ultimately concludes on a chilling note that still plays out as a jolt even knowing that it is coming. (second viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

OtherShow
What Price Vengeance (1937). Too nervous to shoot a bank robber holding his nephew hostage, a policeman is forced to resign, but embarks on vengeance by infiltrating the bank robber's gang in this Canadian crime thriller that pushes the limits of credibility. From his superiors calling him a coward to the way the gang let him in without checking his background, very little involving the cop here makes sense. The film's saving grace though is the true-to-life performance of Wally Albright as the abducted nephew; while fun and oh-so-precocious early on, he is stellar in the second half of the film as he loses his eyesight. Alas, he is never the focus here and Plan 9 from Outer Space's Lyle Talbot is bland in the lead role. Then again, his dull personality might account for the criminals' inability to recognise him as the cop who earlier tried to stop them! (first viewing, online) ★

Whispering City (1947). Informed by a dying actress that her late husband's death was an assassination made to look like an accident, a young female reporter finds herself in a web of deceit and murder as she conducts her own investigation in this thriller from Québec. While the Montreal setting renders this slightly different from the average noir, there is otherwise little to distinguish it. Mary Anderson is fine in the lead role but everybody either feels dull or interchangeable. There are some decent suspenseful moments as she finds herself alone with a man who she does not believe is a killer but has no way of knowing for sure, however, her investigation constantly becomes sidetracked in subplots, including the action moving to the Québec Concerto so often that the film occasionally feels like a mere advertisement for their music, which at least is good. (first viewing, online) ★

Flaming Frontier (1958). Raised alongside Sioux children, a half-Sioux army captain is sent to quell a possible Sioux uprising in this Canadian western from genre veteran Sam Newfield. Having made his name in low budget vehicles for Buster Crabbe, Al St. John et al, it is refreshing to see a Newfield film shot in 2.35:1 widescreen with mobile shots that follow the characters around. The story though feels pretty insubstantial, even for a brief feature like this. There is also a lot more talk than action, and what action exists is hardly impressive (a silent arm wrestling match sticks out). The film also has some very loud and jarring music cues. There is certainly something of interest here with the protagonist drawn between his army and his Sioux "blood brothers", but with a romance also thrown into the mix, his divided loyalties are rarely in focus. (first viewing, online) ★

The Jade Bow (1966). Two decades after a rare manual is stolen, two women from opposite ends have to use their martial arts training in the fight for rightful ownership of the manual in this Hong Kong action film. The film features some decent wire-fu work, especially in a zany bit in which one man pushes an opponent into the ground while hanging in the air. There are some eye-popping torture methods too involving darts and spiked closing walls. The plot is, however, too complex for its own good, which leads to this being far heavier on dialogue than action. The film also carries for so long after its climactic battle that the whole thing feels much more like soap opera-level melodrama than the exciting wuxia film that it early on aims to be. The female fighters angle is at least pretty neat, though Come Drink With Me et al give a lead actress more to do. (first viewing, online) ★★

Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976). Keen on mastering a technique that Bruce Lee had for killing his opponents with his fingers, a young martial artist is pursued by gangsters as he tracks down a book that Bruce Lee wrote on the subject in this Hong Kong action flick. This has a reputation as one of the better "bruceploitation" films that were made after the star's untimely death and it is certainly more palatable than the likes of The Clones of Bruce Lee since there is much more than just martial arts here. We actually see some imaginative torture methods, from victims hung up like chunks of meat to a snake dropped onto a naked woman's body and allowed to enter her nether regions (!). There are some insane death scenes too (snooker ball to the mouth). Underneath it all, this is a pretty ridiculous MacGuffin thriller, but a reasonably enjoyable one at least. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Clones of Bruce Lee (1980). Cashing in Bruce Lee's name and fame, this strange Hong Kong action film focuses on a mad scientist who engineers three Bruce Lee clones, with conflict arising between moviemakers who want to film the clones and shady government agents. If disrespectful, the premise sounds kooky enough, and it is at first with weird cloning headgear and newfangled laboratory sets. Alas, the plot becomes increasingly nonsensical at it progresses and kung fu battles take centre stage. As such, none of the ethical implications of cloning can be found, nor many scenes of the trio interacting together. They also accept that they are clones far too easily. The fight scenes are certainly great, and even rather zany with poisonous grass stuff in the mix, but topped off with an abrupt ending, this is a film that really one you go 'huh?' at the end. (first viewing, online) ★

Bullies (1986). Moving to a small town whose residents live in fear of a ferocious family, a teenager decides to take a stance after his stepfather embarrasses him with his passiveness in this Canadian B-feature. The film has the markings of a vigilante thriller, yet all of the vengeful violence is confined until the very end and is actually rather hard to make out, shot in low lighting at night. The project also tries too hard to be about the strained stepfather/stepson relationship when the intimidating, self-righteous bullying family is far more interesting. The stepfather/stepson angle is problematic too, with the stepfather painted as cowardly for not standing his ground rather than sensible for trying not to incite the family. There are certainly some intense bits and pieces here and Olivia d'Abo is radiant, but the father/son melodrama trivialises the vigilantism themes. (first viewing, online) ★

Flying (1986). Also known as Dream to Believe and Teenage Dream, this is a mediocre movie no matter the title and mostly of interest for seeing a young Keanu Reeves playing a sweet and romantic yet goofy high schooler. Despite third billing, Reeves is absent from over half the film though which instead focuses on a teen gymnast trying to get ahead in her sport despite being bullied by her peers and her grumpy stepfather. The set-up is decent and there are some memorable moments as she is tricked into going to a posh party in fancy dress a la Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary, however, the film spends far more time on repetitive montages rather than scenes that truly build the characters. Some of the plot turns and shifts also feel very sudden, as if the whole thing was originally twice as long (what an unappealing thought that is!). (first viewing, online) ★

Crazy Moon (1987). Released on DVD with the subtitle "an usual love story", the romance here is certainly offbeat as a deaf shop worker falls in love with a young man who goofily steals a mannequin from her store. There are some zany bits and pieces as he dresses the mannequin in certain ways, including a memorable first date in which he fondles the mannequin that he has dressed to look like his date. The chemistry between leads Kiefer Sutherland and Vanessa Vaughan is great too with lots of heartwarming moments as they learn to communicate, accompanied by music from the 1920s and 1930s that makes it feel a lot like an early career Woody Allen film. Alas, the movie becomes less interesting as it progresses and focuses shifts to the families of the two lovers, both of whom have predictable reservations. Sweet stuff, but far better in its first half. (first viewing, online) ★★

Twin Dragons Encounter (1986). Known as Canada's first martial arts movie, this is perhaps the reason why there have been so few since. In all fairness, the film has a catchy theme song and the choreography is okay, but almost every single fight is played in slow-mo, which reduces the immediacy of the action and detracts from any sense of danger. That said, the antagonists seem more silly than threatening throughout; basically, they are a group of adult soldiers who act like children with a (not so) cunning plan to kidnap the girlfriends of two kung fu fighters due to some spat. The film also ends so abruptly that it is hard not to wonder whether more was written here and left on the cutting room floor. As it exists, this is pretty dull in between the fights and training, but gee that "fight for your right to fight" theme song really lingers in the mind. (first viewing, online) ★

A Whisper to a Scream (1989). Very reminiscent of Brian De Palma's Blow Out, this Canadian thriller focuses on a man so obsessed with the recording the right sound effect of a woman screaming that he begins hiring and murdering young actresses in his pursuit. It is an offbeat premise with several effective kill scenes in which he genuinely shocks and surprises his victims, with loads of black comedy as he stands over his victims with a large microphone as they whimper and cry. The focus of the film though is actually a telephone sex worker who the sound recorder becomes obsessed with and she is sadly far less interesting to follow around as she tries to get acting gigs in between learning to enjoy the phone sex job. Whenever the sound recorder is in focus though, this is encapsulating stuff. There are also some creative cabaret/strip acts in the mix. (first viewing, online) ★★

Mrs. Ashboro's Cat (2004). Retitled Ghost Cat in some places and given a horror-style front cover, this is actually closer to a family comedy. The plot has a dead cat return as a ghost to stop some greedy property developers who wish to buy up an animal shelter. The laughs are minimal though and the cat actually does very little to foil the one dimensional baddies. The film's mythology feels random too; sometimes the cat can be seen by one or more characters, while at other times it is completely invisible. What the film is really notable for though is seeing Ellen Page with very long hair in one of her first starring roles - not that she has much to do. There are also some great animals on display at the shelter, though they are mostly presented in routine montages, but at least a wintery Charlottetown PEI (not a place commonly seen in film) looks beautiful. (first viewing, online) ★
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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Perception de Ambiguity
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » July 5th, 2020, 12:00 pm

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Consolations (Love Is an Art of Time) Part 2: The Lighted Clearing (R. Bruce Elder, 1988) 9/10
SpoilerShow
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Necronomicon: Book of Dead (Brian Yuzna & Shûsuke Kaneko & Christophe Gans, 1993) 6/10

INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls.] (Adam Khalil & Zack Khalil, 2016) 7/10
The DoorsShow
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雁の寺 / The Temple of the Wild Geese (川島雄三/Yuzo Kawashima, 1962) 5+/10

Only God Forgives (NicWinRef, 2013) (6th viewing) 9/10

Farewell, My Lovely (Dick Richards, 1975) (2nd viewing) 9/10
"I wished it was part of my nightmare, but it wasn't. It was Tommy Ray. He'd never blow another horn... I was torn between making myself walk, and wanting to lie down on the bed. It was a lovely bed. It was made of rose leaves... It was the most beautiful bed in the world. They had got it from Carole Lombard. It was too soft for her. I was still fighting it though. Still walking. When some footsteps I heard made up my mind for me. I had to get back into bed like it or not. I decided to play dead. I didn't have to be a hell of an actor."


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shorts

200 Feet for March 31st / 60 metri per il 31 marzo (Massimo Bacigalupo, 1968) 6+/10

Petits écrans du Caire (Philippe Grandrieux, 1983) 5+/10

Lamentation (Simon Moselsio, 1943) (2 viewings) 6/10

Третья реальность / Third Reality I / Tretya Realnost 1 (Владимир Кобрин/Vladimir Kobrin, 1995) 6/10

Montparnasse (Eugene Deslaw, 1929) 6/10

The Walking Fish (Thessa Meijer, 2018) 5/10

Un incendie à Dublin I / Pompiers: Un Incendie, I (1897) 6-/10

Japonaise faisant sa toilette (1899) 5+/10

The 3 Rs / Viennale Trailer 2011 (David Lynch, 2011) (rewatch) 8/10


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music videos

Grossstadtgeflüster: Diadem (2020)


other

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1240 - Forrest Galante (2019) 6+/10

The Return (Greydon Clark, 1980) (with RiffTrax) 2/10

directed by Michel Gélinas:
En train de danser sur une musique de M. Muybridge (extrait)
Objets perdus (extrait)
Du ciel, une poussière d’ange… (extrait)

Captivator_draft1.mov (Shane Carruth)
A Topiary (proof of concept film) (Shane Carruth) (rewatch)
The Wanting Mare - Trailer (friend of Shane Carruth)


series

Boogiepop Phantom - Ep1 - "Kioku no shôzô" (2000) (2nd viewing)

didn't finish

Beschreibung einer Insel / Description of an Island (Cynthia Beatt & Rudolf Thome, 1979) [66 min]
Breakthrough - S02E05 - "Predicting the Future" (Shane Carruth & Kurt Sayenga, 2017) [12 min]
Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997) [would-be rewatch] [half]


notable online media

top:
AYAHUASCA DMT Trip Simulation (POV) | What Ayahuasca "Looks” Like
Walking Rifle Adventures (part two) [by Damon Packard]
Why Public Schools and the Mainstream Media Dumb Us Down
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THOTH's PROPHECY read from the Hermetic Texts by Graham Hancock
HardRAVE Festival 9 0 Official Aftermovie
Q&A: “Empty Metal” by Adam Khalil & Bayley Sweitzer
[YT channel "DAVID LYNCH THEATER"]
rest:
[Joe Rogan Experience clips]
Arca - KiCk i unboxing video! Abriendo una copia de KiCk i!
Sounds like #2 [by Insane Cherry]
Chatting with Cannibals | National Geographic


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Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on July 11th, 2020, 2:03 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Onderhond
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#3

Post by Onderhond » July 5th, 2020, 12:09 pm

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My girlfriend had a bit of a work/vacation mid-week, ergo I had a bit of a bachelor week myself, so sorry for the long post! Lots of solid/good films this week, been catching up with Schiller's book, which has yielded some fine discoveries. Also caught up with some bigger films on Netflix/Prime this week, but those ended up on the bottom of the list.


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01. 4.0* - Dancing Mary by Hiroyuki Tanaka (2019)
Dancing Mary is a superb blend of so many genres that it's nearly impossible to categorize. Fantasy, horror, crime, comedy and drama seamlessly mix together to tell a beautiful story about a long-lost romance that ended in tragedy. The cinematography is beautiful, the editing is excellent. Add a great score and a fine cast and you have another Tanaka masterpiece.

02. 3.5* - We Are Little Zombies [Wî Â Ritoru Zonbîzu] by Makoto Nagahisa (2019)
This felt particularly fun and fresh. Makoto Nagahisa's first full-length feature is quite the calling card, overflowing with novel ideas and presented with plenty of flair and audacity. On paper this film is supposed to be right up my alley, somehow though it wasn't quite as good as the sum of its parts. I can't quite recall any other film with a chiptune soundtrack. On the one hand it shows that We Are Little Zombies is quite forward-thinking, on the other hand it also illustrates how slow and backwards the medium of cinema is. Which is probably why this film never really got to me. I grew up in the 80s/90s and appreciate the whole 8-bit vibe here, but that's 30 years ago. I simply prefer a more modern approach. The presentation is pretty slick though. Lots of visual gags, crazy cinematography, funny and interesting characters and a constant onslaught of twists and turns. The film's a tad too long and also a little fragmented, with certain parts working better than others, but overall Nagahisa succeeded in showing off his talent. Now let's bring him back to our time and let him make a film for the 2020s.

03. 3.5* - Heaven's Story [Hevunzu Sutôrî] by Takahisa Zeze (2010)
No doubt one of Zeze's most ambitious works. A four and a half hour long drama that doesn't pull any punches. It's the kind of film that requires the right state of mind (and some familiarity with Japanese dramas will also come in handy). When those requirements are met though, there's a lot to like here. The story is quite convoluted and hardly worth detailing, but it spans several years and a handful of main characters, centered around a plot of murder and revenge. It's not really a thriller or crime film though, Zeze focuses squarely on the characters and the emotions that they're trying to process. The camera work is effective, the soundtrack is beautiful and the performances are top-notch. There are also quite a few stand-out scenes and a fair amount of memorable moments, but 270 minutes was a bit too much for my liking, especially for a film that is tonally consistent for its entire running time. A must for fans of Japanese drama, just make sure you're ready for it.

04. 3.5* - Hit Me Anyone One More Time! [Kioku ni Gozaimasen] by Koki Mitani (2019)
Koki Mitani's latest film is a typical Mitani production. If you're not familiar with the man's work, it's probably a fun introduction into his oeuvre, others may have been expecting a little more. Not that Hit Me Anyone One More Time is a bad film, on the contrary, but it's not a stand-out Mitani either. After suffering a blow to the head, Kuroda, the prime minister of Japan, wakes up in the hospital. He's lost all of his memories, which gives him a rare opportunity start from scratch. He grabs it with both hands, as he's known as the most hated prime minister in Japanese history (something tells me Mitani found his inspiration across the pond). The film is kooky and fun, serving light, farce-like comedy. A large cast of exaggerated characters twirls around Kuroda while he tries to make things right again, for his family as well as his country. The presentation is nice, actors do a good job and the pacing is perfect. A fine film, the only problem is that I know Mitani can do better.

05. 3.5* - EGG. by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (2005)
Sometimes I forget how crazy those early Tsutsumi films could be. Around the mid 00s his work became a lot more commercial and accessible, but apparently not without going completely mental one final time. EGG is a film for fans of Japanese weirdness, a little mindbender that defies easy description. The setting is some nondescript future. A woman starts seeing an egg every time she closes her eyes. It's a little unsettling, but when she goes to a doctor nothing strange is found. But then the egg cracks open and a weird monster starts approaching her, and the woman slowly starts to go mad. But how do you escape a monster on the inside of your eyes? There's some weird lore here that doesn't make too much sense, luckily the film is weird and intriguing enough to transcend its plot. The camera work is nifty, the effects rather cheap but effective and the mystery is upheld until the very end. EGG is short, quirky and unique, it's a shame Tsutsumi abandoned this type of film.

06. 3.5* - Somebody's Xylophone [Dareka no Mokkin] by Yôichi Higashi (2016)
A solid, but somewhat understated drama. Kaito is a hair stylist, Sayoko a housewife who just moved into the neighborhood with her family. When she goes to Kaito's salon for a haircut, something long dormant awakens in Sayoko. The both of them are in a relationship though, and neither is immediately willing to explore their feelings for each other. Somebody's Xylophone isn't the first film about middle-age ennui, but Higashi's approach feels quite fresh and modern. The film mostly avoids the usual victimization that tends to dominate similar dramas, instead it creates a very warm and humane narrative that treats its characters with the proper respect. Performances are good and Higashi makes good use of the soundtrack to either create short breathers, or accentuate certain dramatic moments. The cinematography is crisp and clean, though not quite up there with the better films in the genre. While the film lacks some true stand-out moments, it's a strong film with little to no weak points.

07. 3.5* - The Sword of Alexander [Taitei no Ken] by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (2007)
Another one of Tsutsumi's crazier films. It feels like a Sushi Typhoon project, only without the excessive gore and made with a slightly larger budget. It's a samurai fantasy with sci-fi elements, aliens and nonsensical lore. And it's all played for laughs, so don't worry about things getting too serious. Tsutsumi was clearly having fun with this one. Hiroshi Abe is a weird fella and fits perfectly in the role of long-sworded samurai hero. His accomplices are oddballs too, but they're nothing compared to the various creatures they face in their battle to stop an alien invasion. There's more to the story, but even the voice over doesn't seem too bothered with all the details. The comedy is pretty mad, performances are over-the-top but funny and the cinematography is surprisingly snappy. The CG is quite limited of course, but the camerawork is interesting and the colorful visuals and designs are lovely. Not for everyone, this film, but if you love Japanese weirdness, make sure you give this film a go.

08. 3.5* - Little Miss Period [Seiri-chan] by Shunsuke Shinada (2019)
It's not every day that you bump into a light comedy that focuses on women's periods. Little Miss Period does more than that though, it even brings them to life as physical characters. The fact that this film is directed by a man could lead to all kinds of trouble, so let's hope the West doesn't find out about this one anytime soon. Believe it or not, as outrageous as the premise may sound, the film itself is actually quite subtle and sweet. The film follows several women whose everyday lives are hindered by their period. The film never gets preachy though, neither is the discomfort played down or ridiculed. And should any men feel left out, there's also a Mr Sex Drive character that is pretty fun. If you're very sensitive or easily triggered by the whole men vs women debate than this might not be the film for you, otherwise it's just a harmless, pleasant and sweet romantic comedy that distinguishes itself with its unique premise. A solid cast, decent cinematography and a warm ending do the rest.

09. 3.5* - Ten Years Thailand by Weerasethakul, Assarat, Sasanatieng & Siriphol (2018)
Third entry in the Ten Years anthology franchise, also the best one. The problem with the Ten Years anthologies is that most of the entries don't care too much about the overarching concept. While artistic freedom is definitely welcomed, especially in anthology projects, some base level sci-fi (even when it's just near-future) would be dearly appreciated. Assarat and Weerasethakul's shorts could just as well be about present-day Thailand. There are some conceptual ideas about the future here (though hardly related to any kind of realistic future), but there is no world building, no genre elements. It feels a bit lazy and cheap, but not totally unexpected considering the past work of both directors. The films of Siriphol and Sasanatieng are polar opposites and cook up a completely fantastical future. While still a long way off from the core premise, at least these films are creative and fun, with Sasanatieng's creepy/weird cat-dystopia as the clear highlight of the anthology. By far the two best short across the entire Ten Years franchise, but still not quite what I'd like to see from this project. Maybe just hire some directors with an affinity for the genre next tim?

10. 3.5* - Run All Night by Jaume Collet-Serra (2015)
Surprisingly well-made action film by Collet-Serra. I'm not a big fan of the man's work and Run All Night certainly isn't strong enough to change my mind about him, but it is a film that delivered what I'd hoped to get from it. A simple, fun and entertaining two hours sporting some rather impressive action scenes. Neeson can do these kinds of roles with his eyes closed. There's a little drama between him and his son that doesn't really add much to the film, but at least Kinnaman and Neeson are decent enough actors to not botch it up. The rest is pure action cinema, within a classic crime setting. The camera (work, because I assume there's quite a bit CG involved) is the biggest star of the film, as it flies through the sets and puts you right in there with the action. Some memorable moments and impressive set pieces, that's what I wanted from this film, and that's exactly what I got. Not bad at all.

11. 3.5* - Haru's Journey [Haru Tono Tabi] by Masahiro Kobayashi (2010)
A solid and heartwarming Kobayashi. It's been a while since I watched one of his films, expectations were relatively low, but it turned out much better than I'd hoped. Which, if I'd been paying more attention, isn't really all that surprising, because I've liked almost all of Kobayashi's films so far. The two main characters are truly golden. A grumpy grandfather (Tadao) and a submissive granddaughter (Haru) go on an improvised trip after Haru tells him she wants to go her own way in life. Finding a place for Tadao to stay proves harder than expected though, as the bonds with his direct family have soured over the years. While the drama is quite overt and on the nose, the strong performances, subtle direction and delicate pacing make sure the film always feels genuine and pure. It's a bit long maybe and it might've benefited from some visual polish here and there, but overall this is another great film from Kobayashi. Well recommended for fans of Japanese drama.

12. 3.5* - Don't Laugh at My Romance [Hito no Sekkusu o Warauna] by Nami Iguchi (2007)
A small and pleasant Japanese drama, with likeable characters and some lighter notes to make the romantic squabbles easier to bear. The biggest problem with Don't Laugh at My Romance is that there are already so many similar films and that Nami Iguchi rarely attempts to rise above the rest. A classic love triangle forms the core of the plot. A young art student is attracted to his free-spirited teacher, whereas his dependable but somewhat boring classmate doesn't seem to have a chance of capturing his romantic interest. No doubt you've seen this played out countless times before. Fine cinematography, deliberate pacing, great performances and some poignant moments. There's really nothing to complain about, except maybe for the excessive runtime and the lack of truly memorable moments. It's a solid recommend for fans of Japanese drama, but unless you're relatively new to the genre there's little to get truly excited about.

13. 3.0* - Adieu, Galaxy Express 999: Last Stop Andromeda [Sayônara, Ginga Tetsudô Surî-Nain: Andromeda Shûchakueki] by Rintaro (1981)
Rintaro's sequel to the first Galaxy Express 999 is quite tricky. It's very different in tone, even though both films share quite a few similarities. It's almost a reimagining of the same source material. Hence, it's not going to be for everyone, especially not for those expecting a straight-forward sequel. Personally, I really liked the approach. This second film is quite a bit darker and more dystopian. Online reviews are quick to link to to The Empire Strike Back (understandably so), but there are also traces of The Matrix here, and the work of René Laloux (Fantastic Planet) is never far off. In the end though, it's really just a core Rintaro project. The film is epic in scope, a welcome surprise as older animations are usually a bit more singular. The art style betrays the film's age, but the animation itself is still pretty impressive and there's no lack of creativity here, so much in fact that it's as much fantasy as sci-fi. A bit long in the end, but it's easy to see how these films helped to build Rintaro's reputation. Good stuff.

14. 3.0* - Knockout by Roy Hin Yeung Chow (2020)
It's nice to see Roy Chow is still around. I lost track of him for a while, after he had a very promising start some 10 years ago. But Chow seems to be back on track, Knockout is one of his latest films. Not really the kind of material that will instantly relaunch him, but it's a solid film that shows his talent is still there. The film is a pretty classic boxing drama, following the career of a promising boxing champ who sees his life slipping away when he gets mixed up in an escalated bar fight. After spending some years in prison, he tries to pick up the remains of his life and vows to stop boxing, but well ... you know how it goes in these films. Performances are decent, the mix of drama and action works well and Chow's direction is crisp. The boxing scenes are nice and get the adrenaline flowing, but they're nothing you haven't seen before. Which is the film's biggest problem, not in the least because it's almost two hours long. It's not a bad film, just not a very remarkable one either.

15. 3.0* - Bandage [Bandeiji] by Takeshi Kobayashi (2010)
A pretty standard, but decent and slightly above par Japanese band drama. There are quite a few of these though, and they never really seem to stand out much. Bandage was written by Iwai, which at least gives it some extra backing, but the result is still pretty much what you'd expect from a film like this. The camera work and cinematography were nice though. A bit freer and less restrained than usually the case, which helps to give the drama a bit of an extra push. The characters feel also a little more realistic and grounded, but it's not really enough to elevate this film above its many peers. The actual plot has been done countless times before. Record deals, band troubles, different visions on how to continue etc etc. It's really very basic. The music is also quite drab, which is another recurring problem. Uninteresting J-Pop/Rock that sounds like a million other songs and bands. It's a shame Kobayashi wasn't able to differentiate his film enough, because the potential for something better was clearly there.

16. 3.0* - A Piece of Our Life [Kakero] by Momoko Andô (2009)
A decent drama, though I expected a bit more from this one. I liked Ando's 0.5 mm and I'd heard good things about A Piece of Our Life, but it felt rather sterile and a little too by the numbers. As if I'd already seen this film a million times before, only with different actors and from a different director. It is quite novel within the Japanese canon I guess, there aren't that many gay dramas, certainly not high-profile ones. The start of the film is pretty good too, but then it starts to falter a little. The romance never dazzles and the drama felt a bit overdone, especially the boorish boyfriend didn't add much. Performances are nice though and the cinematography is pretty decent too. Nothing out of the ordinary, but some well-framed shots and nice camerawork. Add a decent score and you have a solid, though somewhat unremarkable drama. It's not a terrible introduction to Ando's work, I'd just hoped it'd be something more than that.

17. 3.0* - The Man in White Part 2: Requiem for the Lion by Takashi Miike (2003)
One of Miike's final DTV releases. A sequel to The Man in White (released in the same year), which I remember liking a little better (although I'll be honest, I'm mostly going by my own ratings here, I don't remember that much from the first film). Not too surprising, because this is pretty basic Miike stuff. Part 2 is also a full-blown Yakuza film. The usual themes of honor and revenge are abundantly present, you won't miss out on the usual Yakuza shouting, gun action, finger clipping and whatnot either. Miike is more than capable to make these types of films work and that's exactly what he does, without putting in excessive effort. The film looks okay, but it's nothing special. From time to time Miike plays around with the cinematography and soundtrack to try out some new things, but overall it's a little too sloppy to leave a big impression. The actors do a decent job, the plot is never boring (unless you hate the usual Yakuza intrigue) and the pacing is on point. Nothing too spectacular, just a solid Miike Yakuza film.

18. 3.0* - Summer Breeze of Love [Che Goh Ha Tin Yau Yee Sing] by Joe Ma (2002)
A surprisingly decent film from Joe Ma. A romantic comedy written around "the twins" doesn't sound too appealing on paper. Truth be told, you don't have to expect miracles from this film either, but Summer Breeze of Love turns out to be quite effective, offering light and easily digestible entertainment that never feels misplaced. The film bathes in a warm summer glow, which is definitely part of the appeal. Some slick and attractive camera work certainly doesn't hurt either. Even Choi and Chung seem to be feeling at ease here. Not that Joe Ma asks a lot of their characters, the romance and the resulting drama is quite stereotypical, but they deliver on what they're asked to do. The comedy is pretty typical for a Hong Kong film, which may put people off if they're not familiar with it, but even then the romance and light drama is probably enough to redeem this film. Summer Breeze of Love delivers exactly what it promises, and just as long as you don't expect anything too deep or serious that should be enough.

19. 3.0* - The Shaolin Avengers [Fang Shi Yu yu Hu Hui Qian] by Cheh Chang (1976)
A fine Cheh Chang film. Chang does what he knows best and delivers a film with plenty of martial arts acrobatics. The Shaolin Avengers is exactly the type of film Chang got famous for, and with good reason. Martial arts is simply what Chang excels in, this film offers yet more proof of that. Recently I've been watching some lesser known Chang films, films that often found Chang dabbling in different genres and settings. It's nice to return to his classic martial arts fare after that, because the different in quality is significant. There's a little drama here, but the majority of the film is spent on action scenes. It's not just the classic martial arts stuff either, the ending has a bona fide pole fight, a personal favorite of mine. It's scenes like these that elevate this above about the countless other Shaw Bros offerings. While not a truly exceptional or spectacular film, The Shaolin Avengers is solid fun that is sure to appeal to fans of the Shaw Bros offerings.

20. 2.5* - Ride Along by Tim Story (2014)
Very basic Hollywood fodder, but within its category definitely not the worst film I've seen. The match-up between Ice Cube and Kevin Hart is a typical one, with both actors immediately falling into their respective stereotypes. Once you're okay with that though, there's some decent fun to be had here. The story is simple, coupling a loudmouth gamer to a hardened cop and sending them on a mission to capture the kingpin of the city. It's probably like most other cop/buddy films you've seen, the twist being that Hart isn't even an actual cop. But that's just a technicality, as it hardly has any impact on the film. The banter between Hart and Ice Cube is fun and the action scenes are nice too. Nothing too spectacular, just solid entertainment. The pacing is also on point. The film doesn't feel sluggish and doesn't unnecessarily drag things out. It's a pretty inoffensive action/comedy, nothing new, but proper filler when you want something easily digestible.

21. 2.5* - The Golden Era [Huang Jin Shi Dai] by Ann Hui (2014)
Ann Hui goes for the big guns here, but ends up making a rather cheesy and overly sentimental drama that fails to impress. It's as if she wanted to relive the heydays of Yimou Zhang's work, but lacked Zhang's talent to keep the sentiment under control. The result is an overly long film that drags things out unnecessarily. The Golden Era ends up being China's answer to Hollywood kitsch. Slow and overstated camera work, overbearing drama that lacks subtlety, a score that is a tearjerker's dream and an epic story that spans half a lifetime. And a 3-hour running time, so even when you aren't impressed by the film itself, you'll be hard-pressed to forget about it afterwards. It's not all bad though. The actors do a nice job and some stand-alone scenes do work well. The problem is that they're not highlights of climaxes within the film, put just part of the constant onslaught of drama. I'm not a big Hui fan to begin with, but at least her usual mix of character drama and genre cinema offers something unique, this film sadly doesn't.

22. 2.5* - Tigertail by Alan Yang (2020)
Alan Yang follows in the footsteps of Ang Lee and makes a drama about Taiwanese immigrants, focusing on family and relationships rather than external immigration problems. It isn't the most appealing of setups to be honest. I didn't really like the early Lee films, sadly Yang doesn't add much to what Lee had to offer 30 years ago. The presentation is okay, though it borders on cheesy. Rather static but clean camera work, good use of colors, sadly the indoor scenes tend to look a little bland. The soundtrack is somewhat disappointing too, and so are the performances. Tzi Ma is on point, but clearly outclasses the rest of the cast. The drama simply wasn't strong enough to make me care. The melancholy of the flashbacks didn't really grab me and Ma's current problems were rather pedestrian. Yang doesn't do enough to add the necessary intrigue to the characters, which results in a decent, but derivative and forgettable drama.

23. 2.5* - Letters from the South by Aditya Assarat, Sun Koh, Chui Mui Tan, Royston Tan, Ming-liang Tsai, Midi Z (2013)
I'm quite partial to anthology films, as they allow directors to go a little crazy. Because they are comprised of several shorts, these projects allow for a little more risk. One or two failed entries don't necessarily mean a failed film. For the larger part, anthology films deliver, but only when the directors are willing to play. Letters from the South was a bit disappointing though. For the larger part it's just run-of-the-mill arthouse shorts that don't offer anything unusual or memorable. Aditya Assarat, Sun Koh and Midi Z are interesting names on paper, but their entries felt muddled, unadventurous and a little lazy. Royston Tan's execution is better, but not up to par with his feature films. Tsai on the other hand delivers the biggest disappointment of the bunch (a prelude to Journey to the West). The only one who rose above the pack here was Chui Mui Tan, delivering a challenging and beautiful little film that stands in shrill contrast with the other entries. I expected more from this film.

24. 2.0* - Lupin III: The First by Takashi Yamazaki (2019)
A failed experiment. This is the first full-CG Lupin film, hopefully it's a direction they won't further explore. This is not the first time people have experimented with the Lupin style, just recently Koike made an awesome trilogy that was pretty different from the usual Lupin fare, but at least that still had class. While The First has managed to retain the quirky character animation, but the character models look off. They're terribly generic, and they lack any form of charisma. It's not that the film is disappointing on a technical level, but artistically it just lacks the spunk and flair that makes the Lupin franchise so much fun. The story is also a little too epic, with micro black hole generation machines and a bunch of strange WWII lore. It's a bit too serious for the silly antics of Lupin and it feels tonally off compared to the rest of the film. It's not a total disaster though, but it's one of the worst Lupin films I've seen so far.

25. 2.0* - 2047: Virtual Revolution by Guy-Roger Duvert (2016)
This made me think of what my favorite film would look like when it would've been made by a hack director. I got a pretty strong Avalon vibe from Virtual Revolution, but at no point did I get the feeling that either the crew, nor the cast had any belief in what they were making. The result is a film with potential, but little else. I'm not even sure whether the cast actually understood half of what this film was about. The way they accentuated words like "database" or "server" reminded me of old people trying to deal with a world that left them behind years ago. For a sci-fi film, that's pretty problematic. It's a shame, because the setting is actually quite decent and the camerawork, props and cinematography are nice too. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but a sci-fi like this isn't easy to make on a budget, and they did manage to get quite a few things right. A better director might've done more to save this film, but it's the cast that's the biggest letdown here.

26. 2.0* - The Score by Frank Oz (2001)
A pretty basic heist film. I expected a film that was a little more distinctive from Oz, but apparently he was fine with plain old genre work and a little twist at the end, something that was practically required around the turn of the millennium. The result is a respectable, but rather boring feature. Some big names were hired to draw in the audience. De Niro, Norton and Brando have enough charisma to carry a film by themselves, putting them together in a film means money in the bank. But with a dull and predictable plot, bland characterization and a lack of sparkle in the direction, not all that much comes of it. If you like heist films, the film is quite entertaining. Apart from that, there's just very little to recommend here. A less predictable twist, 30 minutes cut from the runtime and some tighter editing might've helped to salvage this film, in its current state though, it's little more than random filler.

27. 2.0* - Basic Instinct by Paul Verhoeven (1992)
I'm pretty sure I'd seen this film before as a kid, but I didn't remember much of it, apart from the scenes that have become part of our cultural memory. It's a Verhoeven though, so I figured it would be nice to give this one another go and see if it was still worth something. The result was a little disappointing I'm afraid. There's quite a bit of nudity and the murders are pretty direct (for a Hollywood film), but that's about it really. The film itself is a very basic cop thriller, with a rather plain "did she or didn't she" plot that Verhoeven drags out until the very end. I found it hard to care about the final twist, which is never a good sign. Performances are rather weak (Douglas in particular is prone to some serious overacting) and the film has that rather cheap 90s cop thriller look. The soundtrack isn't very helpful either. The pacing is fine though and the film never gets too slow or boring, but in the end there's not all that much appeal left for a 2 hour film.

28. 2.0* - The Dancing Warrior [Pi Li Qing] by Cheh Chang (1985)
Cheh Chang tries to bring together dance and martial arts. And as I've said a couple of times before already, whenever Chang moves away from what he's known for, it tends to end badly. There are some good fight scenes here, but the combination with the dancing is done poorly and takes away from the action. Performances aren't great, which is a problem when the action only makes up a small part of the film. The comedy isn't all that great either and the soundtrack is just plain terrible. Lame and cheesy songs that make the film a little too ridiculous (beyond what was intended to be funny). I think a different director could've made something better of this film, as other films have shown that there is potential in mixing martial arts and dance. But Chang simply isn't the man for the job, especially not since he was nearing the end of his career when he made this film. There is some fun to be had, but overall it's not all that great.

29. 2.0* - Seven Years in Tibet by Jean-Jacques Annaud (1997)
Not Annaud's worst film I've seen, but that doesn't really say all that much. Like most of his work, subtlety isn't really in the cards and there's a fair bit of exotism driving the film, but at least it makes for some pretty images and impressive settings along the way. That's where the appeal lies here. Brad Pitt as the German Harrer isn't the most successful casting ever, luckily Thewlis is there to take some of the irritation away and together with Tsamchoe they make a pretty decent trio. The end up in a pretty decent adventure, sadly for a film that's based on true events it never feels all that convincing. Annaud's direction is just too overworked and more often than not it feels like you're watching some random, kitschy Hollywood story. A more balanced film would've definitely made this a lot easier to bear, not in the least because of the lengthy runtime. I guess I would've preferred a decent documentary, rather than this sappy adventure.

30. 1.5* - The Remains of the Day by James Ivory (1993)
Hopkins and Thompson play servants and find each other working at a big estate. They are both extremely uptight and posh, as English servants tend to be, which makes for one of the most British romances ever put on film. It never crackles or sizzles, but right beneath the surface a lot is brewing. Hopkins and Thompson are fine, but their mannerisms are a bit much. While there are some nice scenes between them, their characters never feel real enough to care for. Which is a problem, because besides the romance there's some political filler that slows things down unnecessarily. Ivory's direction is dull and by the numbers. The cinematography is meager and a lot of time is spent on drawn out dialogues that aren't half as intriguing as they were meant to be. At least the score was pretty decent, keeping the film from becoming too sappy, but that hardly redeems the overly long runtime and poor overall quality.

31. 1.5* - Pride & Prejudice by Joe Wright (2005)
A typical Wright film. It's definitely classier than your average costume drama, but it's still very much a costume drama. Overtly posh and British, quite slow, an overload of drama and too sentimental for its own good. I'm not a big fan of the genre and this adaptation of Pride and Prejudice did little to change my mind. Quite a few famous actors on the cast though, with a defining role for Knightley and a well-stuffed secondary roster. While they do their best make the most of it, the format hardly allows them to make something of their characters, meaning actors like Mulligan and Reilly are pretty much wasted on this film. The setting looks rich and the outdoor shots are pretty nice, which turned out to be the main selling point for me. That's hardly enough for a 2+ hour film of course and the second hour in particular dragged quite a bit. Fans of costume dramas are sure to find something they like here, for me there wasn't much here.

32. 1.5* - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World by Peter Weir (2003)
A drab and unexciting adventure film. The premise of Master and Commander is simple, but not bad. A long voyage on a ship, faraway lands and warmongering nations, everything is present for a fun-fulled and entertaining two hours of cinema. Except maybe a director who knew how to handle the material. The film is quite serious, even though it's little more than three battles on the sea and some filler drama in between. The characters are cardboard and performances are uninspired, the soundtrack is misplaced and the cinematography fails to capture the excitement of the voyage and the battles. It's the trip itself, the vastness of the sea and the short visit to the Galápagos Islands that make it bearable, but it's definitely not enough to warrant the 2+ hour runtime, let alone the many accolades this film has received over the years. Mediocre Hollywood nonsense that should best be forgotten.

33. 1.0* - Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker by J.J. Abrams (2019)
I've never been a big Star Wars fan, but the original trilogy was pretty decent and fun. The subsequent ones were anything but and this final episode seems hellbent on repeating all the mistakes of the previous entries. While on paper a film like this seems virtually impossible to fuck up, Abrams certainly gave it his best shot. Rise of Skywalker tried to be dark, funny and emotional, and it failed miserable at all of these things. For example, it's clear that McDiarmid was supposed to come off as evil and menacing, but it's almost embarrassing to see him struggle. Then there's the obvious attempts at comic relief, but not a single one of the jokes land. And with so many nonsense floating around, it's nigh impossible to feel anything for anyone. Some horrendous performances don't help either. Isaac is a fluke, Ridley is a poor Knightley stand-in and Boyega looks utterly lost. Ultimately though, it's Abrams who should shoulder most of the blame. With all that money and technical skill on display, it's shameful that there isn't a single impressive scene here. Badly paced, horribly cut up and completely unbalanced. Abrams has no place in cinema.

34. 0.5* - Penguins of Madagascar by Eric Darnell, Simon J. Smith (2014)
Truth be told, I didn't expect a lot from this film. I've been going through DreamWorks' animation back catalog and most of these films are rather depressing. What makes Penguins of Madagascar even worse is that it takes the worst side characters of the Madagascar series and gives them their own spin-off. What did surprise me was the shameless cheapness of the film. As much as I dislike US animation, at least most of these films have a certain standard when it comes to technical quality. Penguins of Madagascar pretty much looks like a TV project. There's little detail, the settings are crude and the animation is poor. And that leaves pretty much nothing to enjoy. The comedy is so incredibly dumb and predictable, the plot is boring and inconsequential, the voice acting mostly just loud. That seems to be the standard modus operandi of most of these films in fact. Just make it loud and busy and people will laugh at it. Not really my kind of comedy I'm afraid.

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Lakigigar
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Location: Belgium
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#4

Post by Lakigigar » July 5th, 2020, 3:33 pm

Skate Kitchen (2018) - 8/10
Hjartasteinn (2016) - 9/10
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) - 7/10
Heathers (1989) - 10/10
Captain Marvel (2019) - 6/10
Thoroughbreds (2017) - 6/10
Avengers: Endgame (2019) - 8/10
Snowpiercer (2013) - 5/10
Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) - 6/10
Edge of Tomorrow (2014) - 8/10

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peeptoad
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#5

Post by peeptoad » July 5th, 2020, 4:34 pm

Hi sol... I'm exhausted, so I'll make this quick!

yours-
Wedding in White (1972) 8 the ending of this was harrowing. Bleak film, but one of Fruet's best.
Search and Destroy (1979) 6
Bedroom Eyes (1984) 5

...I actually started Martyrs at 1:00 in the morning last night, but fell asleep. Too tired; will try again later. I am going for a Laugier run next.

mine-
Diary of a Chambermaid (1964) 6
Xiao Bi de gu shi (1983) Growing Up 7
La voie lactée (1969) The Milky Way 8
Blowup (1966) 10*
Fear City (1984) 6
Cat Chaser (1989) 5
King of New York (1990) 7
O Primeiro Dia (1998) Midnight 7
Abril Despedaçado (2001) Behind the Sun 7+
Linha de passe (2008) 7+

*rewatch

The Salles films were good, but Motorcycles Diaries is still my favorite of his by far. Milky Way, a carryover from last month, was good as well but it's only about midpack in a ranking of the 60s Bunuels. I did appreciate that it reminded me a little bit in places of Godard's Week End. I've got a couple of his from the 50s and the big 3 from the 70s and I think that's it for Bunuel's filmography. Closing in..

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#6

Post by prodigalgodson » July 5th, 2020, 6:04 pm

Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee, 2020) 5/10

What a mess...manufactured blink-and-you-miss-it dramatic tension, contrivances agogo, a mixed bag of tangents, an awful stapled-on score (the soundtrack's another matter, loved the Marvin acapellas). Still a nice family movie night: the western-ish construct makes for some fun sequences, the pointed commentary is on-point if often obvious, and it features a (mostly) fantastic ensemble. Delroy Lindo especially is incredible and should be a shoo-in for best supporting actor of this year's limited crop. Apparently my dad cut a show with him in it years ago and said he was one of his favorite actors to edit.

Debra Paget, for Example (Mark Rappaport, 2016) 7/10

Both the specific story of an enigmatic minor sex symbol’s short career and a study of the contract player phenomenon in microcosm, as well as an apologia for kitsch more broadly. Rappaport really leans in to the parentheticals here, with whiplash-inducing zigzags down obscure rabbit holes of film history including the brief biography of a Yiddish bit player, the abandonment of closeups with the advent of Scope, and Paget's doppelgangers Pricilla Presley and Yvonne Furneaux. It also seems like it might include more authorial supposition about his subject's inner world than usual. His most dynamically edited recent essay, and probably his most intriguing project since the 90s.

The Milky Way (Luis Buñuel, 1969) 5/10

I was distracted while watching this road-movie-cum-Christian-dialectic, so I may not have given it as fair a shake as it deserves. I didn't find the philosophical aspects to be all that compelling or insightful, and the surreal vignettes are a bit stiff compared to works in a similar vein by Pasolini or Godard. It does have a nice flow at times, and I forget how adept a compositionalist Buñuel is. Occasionally it achieves the profundity it aspires to; the very ending, for instance, is pretty solid. This kind of inter-Catholic bickering over doctrine feels like it's lost much of its relevance over the last half-century, ironic since its relevance to the half-millennium that preceded it would suggest greater longevity than its more revolutionary contemporary.

Mark Rappaport: The TV Spin-Off (Mark Rappaport, 1980) 5/10

“Don’t let anyone tell you different: it’s a glamorous life making films.”

The ironic self-portraiture that vacillates between tongue-in-cheek and acerbic makes this a valuable curio for anyone interested in piecing together the jigsaw of Rappaport's career. Unfortunately the commentary only comprises a few minutes of what basically amounts to an early-career clip show.

Imposters (Mark Rappaport, 1979) 9/10

“Darling, reality is the differential between what we could use and what we deserve. Remember that.”

Rappaport weaves love triangles, murderous "twins", a treasure hunt, and performance art into a lively but mysterious dreamworld. The late 70s -- this preceded by The Scenic Route and Local Color -- represent the peak of his narrative style, when he'd honed the flow of his images and struck a balance between his pastiche of Hollywood's pastiche of reality and its genuine emotional and psychological underpinnings. This features his best set pieces and most compelling character dynamics.


“Every message was in code. Every look was a sign that only the initiated understood. You were right from the very start.”

Path of Cessation (Robert Fulton, 1974) 8/10

One of those "mysterious filmic objects" of ethnography and enigmatic editing, like Pollet's Mediterranee without the narration, exploring Tibet. At its best absolutely transcendent, though the rhythm and the overlay effects took me some getting used to (it's been a while since I've taken a dive into midcentury American experimental film, and I'd forgotten how much this tactile technique, that's largely lost its currency in the digital age, defined that scene). All of Fulton's films seem to be streaming at ref3films.com, but unfortunately most of them, like this one, have blocks of text covering parts of the screen. This is obviously far from ideal, and this kind of thing cries to be seen on film anyway; I think Canyon Cinema has the prints, hopefully they'll tour a retrospective at some point. (The website also features this strange and impenetrable caption: "Fulton seems to choreograph the rhythms of movements within the frame in relation to the movements of the camera." Insofar as he's interacting with the rhythm of what's happening in the frame it seems to me it's much more in the editing than in the generally minimal camera movement.)

Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014) 8/10

“With language something’s happening. Something awkward about our relation to the world. It acts against pure freedom.”
...
“Soon, everyone will need an interpreter to understand the words coming out of their own mouths.”

Godard really is on some other shit.

"He could not make us humble, so he made us humiliated."

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972) 10/10 (rewatch)

Anna/Nana/Nana/Anna (Mark Rappaport, 2020) 5/10

Rappaport catching a glimpse of a former Russian silent actress in a bit role years down the line in a cold war b-movie provides the jumping-off point for another free-association trivia roll, this time tethered to Anna Sten, a Hollywood emigre and would-be star who fell through the cracks after being much hyped for a coldly-received Goldwyn production of Zola's Nana. Despite the paucity of thought-provoking analysis I've come to expect from these late-career shorts, it is a poignant tribute to a talented actress fortune failed to smile upon.

Conrad Veidt -- My Life (Mark Rappaport, 2019) 6/10

"The life of the artist: a roll of the dice, no?"

I was excited to see a new feature-length essay project from Rappaport; unfortunately, the reason it's longer than the other late-era video videos, aside from especially in-depth tangents, is the absurdly extensive excerpts from its subject's career. Whether the intent is to gain greater intimacy with the actor by watching his scenes play out, or just to admire particularly adept performative moments, these don't add much to Veidt's story. (A parade of various book covers of Jew Suss, the basis for a Veidt hit before it’s re-adapted as the infamous Nazi propaganda flick, exemplifies this bizarre penchant for indulgence.) It becomes more interesting as the actor's story parallels the rise of Nazism in his home country (with which his past entangles him) and the growing refugee community in Hollywood, though it's cut short, along with its subject's life, before it can explore this in too much depth. Rappaport still has a marvelous knack for uncovering nuances hiding in plain sight, and Veidt's story encompasses many of his apparent interests (mine too, for that matter). The highlight of the video is a phantasmagorical parenthetical about the cultural, political, and cinematic repercussions of a web of relations to Veit Harlan, Gobbels’ Juden Suss’s director.

A Married Woman (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) 6/10

It's always nice to find the odd Godard film you can actually lose yourself in emotionally. And his black-and-white films have such a sharp look; especially with his dolly shots he seems to tease what a good classicist he'd have made if that'd interested him. Aside from Breathless' jump cuts, I feel like the rhythm of the editing is underrepresented in evaluations of Godard's je-ne-sais-quois: where else can you find stuff like three maybe two-second still shots sandwiched between two long reverse-angled tracking shots from a car, or those non-associative quick cuts to other subjects within scenes? Wordplay and consumer culture of course loom large. The subversion of gender roles is obviously ahead of its time; other aspects, like a fertility doctor with a trace of eugenic philosophy, seem either wildly retrograde or a knowing portrayal of something wildly retrograde. The husband casually raping and battering his wife between scenes is very unsettling; the levity with which it’s treated is kind of nauseating but, much as with his treatment of antisemitism, on reflection I think it’s more meant to comment on an all-too-often ignored reality than to exploit. Overall, Godard has better takes on similar subject matter, but this contains some great fragments.

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#7

Post by outdoorcats » July 5th, 2020, 6:37 pm

I haven't been here in a while, so I'll post from two weeks back, where I watched some films for the 2010s poll, including my first two Song Hanghoo films.

The Vast of Night (Andrew Patterson - 2019) 7.5
A description of this indie period science fiction fable would make it sound like a bit of fluff, but it's filmed, scored and acted in such a memorable way to make it more haunting than it has any right to be. I'm definitely interested to follow Patterson's career from now on.

Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee - 2020) 7.5
Sitting above the middle of Spike's body of work, Da 5 Bloods is one of his more experimental films and many of his ideas don't land (the flashback battle scenes seem poorly thought out in particular, and have a weirdly satirical rather than emotional tone which I'm not sure was intended). It's a messy film that ultimately adds up to far more than the sum of its parts, especially in its surprisingly powerful conclusion. Delroy Lindo and Jonathan Majors lead the cast as an embittered father-son duo, but Clarke Peters, Mélanie Thierry and Chadwick Boseman were excellent as well.

The Day After (Hong Sangsoo - 2017) 5.5
My first Hong. I certainly admired this rigorous formality of his shooting style, shot composition and ironic music choices. I still found the film fairly boring, unfortunately.

On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sangsoo - 2017) 6.5
Highly elevated by a powerful monologue at the film's conclusion, yet also tripped up by inexplicable story choices, such as
SpoilerShow
showing the protagonist seemingly being abducted by a stranger at the end of one chapter, then not referring to it again.
I definitely want to continue watching Hong films as I get the sense he has a film I will find great.

Love, Simon (Greg Berlanti - 2018) 7.0
Basically a John Hughes film with a gay protagonist. It's a sweet film with cute leads and probably exactly what the next generation of gay kids needs, a positive story they can project themselves into. It seems wrong to want to penalize the film for not being a more realistic portrait of heteronormativity or homophobia when we never even got our mainstream, blockbuster teen love story, so I won't. Making all the kids insanely rich and glossing over that fact makes the film hard to relate to for most kids today in a way I don't understand was necessary, though.

Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan - 2011) [theatrical cut] 8.0
I stupidly assumed this was the director's cut of the film when watching it and figured out my mistake later. I'll have to check that version out at some later date as it seems it's a pretty different take? As it is, I admired its commitment to authenticity to the world it's set in and its refusal to sanitize how obnoxious and unpleasant teenagers can be (especially privileged and over-educated ones) without demonizing or de-humanizing them either. Besides that, it's a great portrait of how people deal with trauma, warts and all.

Gangs of Wasseypur (Anurag Kashyap - 2012) 9.0
A genuinely epic crime saga spanning 70 years of Indian history; the title might be a riff on Gangs of New York but it's closer in spirit to the massive scope of something like Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, mixed with the absurdist subversion of "badass" gangster tropes Scorsese utilized in Goodfellas (along with some Scorsese-esque ironic pop musical cues). Excellently acted, written, directed, and scored, and compelling for all of its 5.5 hours.

Viva Riva! (Djo Munga - 2010) 8.5
A dark, bloody, sexy and wildly entertaining Congolese neo-noir that is strongly recommended to all fans of the noir genre. A charming smuggler named Riva runs from the army, police, and his former gangster boss all while pursuing another violent gangster's girlfriend and trying to fence a truckload of stolen petrol during a gasoline shortage crisis.

Shorts:

Brouillard: Passage #14 (Alexandre Larose - 2014) 9.0
Thanks Matt! :cheers:

Max and James and Danielle (Mark Rappaport - 2015) 7.5
Really nice video essay on Rappaport's love for Max Ophuls collaborations with James Mason and Danielle Darrieux.

TV:

The Americans: Season 6 [final season]
->One of the great TV shows.

Doom Patrol - Episodes 1-3
->Utterly bizarre but promising

Peter...is your social worker in that horse?

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#8

Post by sol » July 6th, 2020, 2:27 am

peeptoad wrote:
July 5th, 2020, 4:34 pm
yours-
Wedding in White (1972) 8 the ending of this was harrowing. Bleak film, but one of Fruet's best.
Search and Destroy (1979) 6
Bedroom Eyes (1984) 5

...I actually started Martyrs at 1:00 in the morning last night, but fell asleep.
Wow. I can't imagine falling asleep in Martyrs; it's pretty shocking, brutal and in-your-face the whole way through. Unless, maybe, you turned off the movie before the nuclear family start getting attacked? Anyway, the reason why I rewatched this one is to discuss it for our Disturbing Films podcast. Second most disturbing film that I have ever seen for my money after Barefoot Gen.

Oh, yes - Wedding in White definitely seems a crowning jewel in Fruet's filmography with yeah, such a bleak and harrowing ending. Agreed that Search and Destroy was less effective and less interesting overall. A shame that you didn't find more to like in Bedroom Eyes; plot gets a little messy as it progresses and the romance interest is dumb, but the set-up is amazing: inadvertently framing himself for the murder that he witnessed, perhaps the perfect comeuppance for a peeping tom.

I haven't seen Behind the Sun since it came out in cinemas, but I still have very vivid memories of it and how it transported me to a very different world. I guess I'm not a Ferrara fan, because neither Fear City nor King of New York did much for me. In fact, the latter was kind of annoying; the whole film is apparently about how prison changed him, but since we never see him beforehand, we never see the character progression or epiphany, we only hear it from others. Blowup though is a film that I can definitely get behind. Love the music and the mystery... really ought to rewatch it at some stage.

outdoorcats wrote:
July 5th, 2020, 6:37 pm
I haven't been here in a while, so I'll post from two weeks back
Welcome back. :)
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#9

Post by joachimt » July 6th, 2020, 9:07 am

November (2017, 1 official list, 311 checks) 9/10
Watched because it's in WC 2D.
Il ferroviere AKA Man of Iron (1956, 3 official lists, 124 checks) 8/10
Watched because it was FotW.
Kansas City Confidential (1952, 3 official lists, 986 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Nobody's Business (1996, 1 official list, 99 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Animal Crackers (1930, 2 official lists, 2036 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
It Chapter Two (2019, 2 official lists, 2645 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Prime.
Kumshagalskaya istoriya AKA The Kumshagal Story (1986, 1 official list, 11 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's on the UNESCO list.
Papirosen (2011, 1 official list, 26 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Kabhie Kabhie AKA Sometimes (1976, 1 official list, 285 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Prime.
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#10

Post by Onderhond » July 6th, 2020, 9:58 am

@sol:
Didn't like Knock Knock (1.5*) much either. Roth is a pretty plain director, Reeves is a parody of himself and the "games" are quite childish and boring. Also seen Wavelength (0.5*), which I couldn't appreciate at all. Too conceptual, very plain execution. The one where we seem to agree about is Martyrs (4.5*). Been a long time since I watched that one, but still remember it vividly (watched it in theaters). Incidentally, watched House of Voices again. Not as crazy harsh, but Laugier can't hide his talent.

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#11

Post by sol » July 6th, 2020, 11:36 am

Onderhond wrote:
July 6th, 2020, 9:58 am
@sol:
Didn't like Knock Knock (1.5*) much either. Roth is a pretty plain director, Reeves is a parody of himself and the "games" are quite childish and boring. Also seen Wavelength (0.5*), which I couldn't appreciate at all. Too conceptual, very plain execution. The one where we seem to agree about is Martyrs (4.5*). Been a long time since I watched that one, but still remember it vividly (watched it in theaters). Incidentally, watched House of Voices again. Not as crazy harsh, but Laugier can't hide his talent.
I generally like Roth as a director, but Knock Knock is certainly a low point. Agreed about the games being childish, though I wouldn't exactly say boring, though I guess it amounts to much the same thing since they are purely torturing him for the sake of it. I actually thought the part where one of them dresses in his daughter's clothes and proceeds to do him while crying "daddy" was really effed up. Most of it was pretty tame though considering where it could have gone.

"Plain" is probably the last term that I would use to describe Wavelength's execution; by manipulating the lighting, inversing the colours and applying all sorts of other filters, Snow creates a film that is far more than just a "45 minute zoom" to quote what it has often being called. And I love how all the filters and jump cutting distorts time so that we don't know how long it has been between the murder and the body being discovered. But I recognise that it is not a film for all tastes.

I can't imagine watching Martyrs in the cinema. I had to stop and start it at various points given how brutal what we see is. I guess the initial murder of the nuclear family wasn't quite so disturbing for me upon revision because I knew what was driving her, but the whole film still really shook me to the core. Definitely a hard film to watch without feeling something.

Yours:

I can't remember much of Run All Night. Most of these post-Taken Neeson films seem to blur together, with The Commuter being a rare exception. Haven't seen Basic Instinct in ages, but glad that you thought it was decent. Can't remember how long the film was, I just remembered being gripped from start to finish, and indeed surprisingly so given that, as you've said, it is basically just a "did she or didn't she" film. Can't remember much of Seven Years in Tibet other than the music, but I definitely liked The Remains of the Day, including the music from Richard Robbins - so cool to see you mention this. Again, Master and Commander is not a film whose runtime immediately springs to mind, but it is a film that I liked at the time, largely for Paul Bettany's performance - who isn't mentioned in your review.
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#12

Post by Onderhond » July 6th, 2020, 12:23 pm

Well, any 120+ minute film has something extra to prove to me. To problem is that most of the 120+ minute films tend to be very plot/character-based, which isn't exactly my favorite kind of cinema. So I tend to get bored of them and when they just keep on going and going without doing anything different, I'm going to be complaining about it at the end of the film. Also one of the reasons why I tend to like anthology projects :)

As for Martyrs, it was really quiet in the theater, luckily the film wasn't really promoted as a "typical" horror film, so not many "date people" in the audience. It's also apparent from the very start that it's not going to be a "fun" horror flick. Quite impressive though to see it on the big screen, especially because you can't pause it or run away from it for a short while.

Agree with the Neeson comment, though the cinematography was a big plus for me here. I like it when a camera really gets into the action (which hurts overview but increases impact), it's not really Hardcore Henry-level insanity, but there are some moments that clearly transcend the usual Hollywood-type action. The Commuter is by the same director, still need to watch that one.

And I get what you're saying about Wavelength, but it's too blurry/grainy/crude for my taste. I can appreciate it as a style, but I just don't see what it adds here. I don't even mind the concept as much, I just can't get past the crude (or plain) execution.

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#13

Post by peeptoad » July 6th, 2020, 12:34 pm

sol wrote:
July 6th, 2020, 2:27 am
peeptoad wrote:
July 5th, 2020, 4:34 pm
yours-
Wedding in White (1972) 8 the ending of this was harrowing. Bleak film, but one of Fruet's best.
Search and Destroy (1979) 6
Bedroom Eyes (1984) 5

...I actually started Martyrs at 1:00 in the morning last night, but fell asleep.
Wow. I can't imagine falling asleep in Martyrs; it's pretty shocking, brutal and in-your-face the whole way through. Unless, maybe, you turned off the movie before the nuclear family start getting attacked? Anyway, the reason why I rewatched this one is to discuss it for our Disturbing Films podcast. Second most disturbing film that I have ever seen for my money after Barefoot Gen.
I didn't fall asleep because of the movie; I fell asleep from the sheer, unrelenting fatigue that seems to be afflicting me as I age. Mainly it's getting me because my insomnia has made a formidable resurgence, so I have been averaging only like 5 hours/night.
Anyway, I did watch Martyrs last night (and, yes, I fell asleep way before the scene you mentioned when I put it on late the night before. I was asleep only like 10 minutes in, so the second try was more successful.) I liked it enough considering I had a really difficult time watching it due to the torture sequences. That aspect was structured into the plot, so I was able to tolerate it. It's a deeper film on some level, and it's the type of film that I would rewatch at some point because of some of the finer points that I might have missed, but the torture parts are going to make me put off a rewatch for a long time. It's the same reason I waited this long to see the film to begin with. I would be interested in hearing your take on the closing shot though. I have my own opinion, but iit's still not fully formed at this point.
sol wrote:
July 6th, 2020, 2:27 am
Oh, yes - Wedding in White definitely seems a crowning jewel in Fruet's filmography with yeah, such a bleak and harrowing ending. Agreed that Search and Destroy was less effective and less interesting overall. A shame that you didn't find more to like in Bedroom Eyes; plot gets a little messy as it progresses and the romance interest is dumb, but the set-up is amazing: inadvertently framing himself for the murder that he witnessed, perhaps the perfect comeuppance for a peeping tom.
I should prob rewatch Bedroom Eyes at some stage too. I do like Fruet an awful lot as a director and I think he's very underrated, but this one didn't really do it for me. I think it was probably the cheesy-style romance you referred to or maybe something else. I preferred Wedding in White and I loved Death Weekend even more. That's actually my favorite film of his. If there was an R1/A blu ray out I would snap it up in a second!

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#14

Post by sol » July 6th, 2020, 1:32 pm

Onderhond wrote:
July 6th, 2020, 12:23 pm
I get what you're saying about Wavelength, but it's too blurry/grainy/crude for my taste. I can appreciate it as a style, but I just don't see what it adds here. I don't even mind the concept as much, I just can't get past the crude (or plain) execution.
I absolutely love the crude look of Wavelength (and Snow's other films). He's a director who constantly challenges us to question what we are seeing and how everything in a film in constructed, so I really dig how he creates images that are blurry and difficult to make out. But yeah, that's "crude", not "plain". The latter term suggests to me no style at all, which I don't think is true of Wavelength.

peeptoad wrote:
July 6th, 2020, 12:34 pm
I didn't fall asleep because of the movie; I fell asleep from the sheer, unrelenting fatigue that seems to be afflicting me as I age. Mainly it's getting me because my insomnia has made a formidable resurgence, so I have been averaging only like 5 hours/night.
Anyway, I did watch Martyrs last night (and, yes, I fell asleep way before the scene you mentioned when I put it on late the night before. I was asleep only like 10 minutes in, so the second try was more successful.) I liked it enough considering I had a really difficult time watching it due to the torture sequences. That aspect was structured into the plot, so I was able to tolerate it. It's a deeper film on some level, and it's the type of film that I would rewatch at some point because of some of the finer points that I might have missed, but the torture parts are going to make me put off a rewatch for a long time. It's the same reason I waited this long to see the film to begin with. I would be interested in hearing your take on the closing shot though. I have my own opinion, but iit's still not fully formed at this point.
I might have complained about there not being enough of it in The Sadist, but I don't particularly enjoy watching torture either, so totally understand that take on Martyrs, and I don't know if it is a film that I would have ever rewatched had it not been something I planned to discuss in the podcast.

The final shot...
SpoilerShow
...that's the camera going back to Anna looking upwards with the inner peace in her eyes after Mademoiselle shoots herself, right? I think that's an empowering shot; she has managed to achieve a peace and serenity that the Mademoiselle never managed to ever find herself. Bigger questions for me lie in what she whispered to Mademoiselle and why she shot herself (to reach paradise, because Anna told her that there was something horrific, or because Anna told her there was nothing at all).
Definitely one of those open-to-discussion endings. Keep doubting.

Oh, and sorry to hear about the sleep issues. I'm not much good at catching sleep either. :(
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#15

Post by peeptoad » July 6th, 2020, 1:51 pm

sol wrote:
July 6th, 2020, 1:32 pm

The final shot...
SpoilerShow
...that's the camera going back to Anna looking upwards with the inner peace in her eyes after Mademoiselle shoots herself, right? I think that's an empowering shot; she has managed to achieve a peace and serenity that the Mademoiselle never managed to ever find herself. Bigger questions for me lie in what she whispered to Mademoiselle and why she shot herself (to reach paradise, because Anna told her that there was something horrific, or because Anna told her there was nothing at all).
Definitely one of those open-to-discussion endings. Keep doubting.
OK, so I said final shot, but what I was referring to actually was the penultimate shot:
SpoilerShow
Mademoiselle shooting herself after hearing Anna's words. This appears to be a scene devised specifically to cause the viewer to ask the question, "What did Anna say?" and there is no answer. As in reality, we can never know what lies beyond our physical realm in the afterlife. It works either way: either Mlle heard words akin to "there is nothing" and kills herself since her entire life has been rendered a meaningless waste, or she hears from Anna" there is everything and more" and kills herself hastening her demise so she can reach the afterlife faster.
"Keep doubting" similarly works either way: "keep doubting" since there really is nothing to hope for, nothing after life and nothing to the mystery of afterlife (and life itself) that motivates mankind... or "keep doubting" because there is so much to hope for that it would ruin humanity. All that there is is beyond humans' meager understanding and to release this into the world would cause such upheavel that it would effectively destroy the human existence that precedes death... all that we have learned, lived for, and know up to this point.
...something like that.

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#16

Post by sol » July 6th, 2020, 4:16 pm

peeptoad wrote:
July 6th, 2020, 1:51 pm
sol wrote:
July 6th, 2020, 1:32 pm

The final shot...
SpoilerShow
...that's the camera going back to Anna looking upwards with the inner peace in her eyes after Mademoiselle shoots herself, right? I think that's an empowering shot; she has managed to achieve a peace and serenity that the Mademoiselle never managed to ever find herself. Bigger questions for me lie in what she whispered to Mademoiselle and why she shot herself (to reach paradise, because Anna told her that there was something horrific, or because Anna told her there was nothing at all).
Definitely one of those open-to-discussion endings. Keep doubting.
OK, so I said final shot, but what I was referring to actually was the penultimate shot:
SpoilerShow
Mademoiselle shooting herself after hearing Anna's words. This appears to be a scene devised specifically to cause the viewer to ask the question, "What did Anna say?" and there is no answer. As in reality, we can never know what lies beyond our physical realm in the afterlife. It works either way: either Mlle heard words akin to "there is nothing" and kills herself since her entire life has been rendered a meaningless waste, or she hears from Anna" there is everything and more" and kills herself hastening her demise so she can reach the afterlife faster.
"Keep doubting" similarly works either way: "keep doubting" since there really is nothing to hope for, nothing after life and nothing to the mystery of afterlife (and life itself) that motivates mankind... or "keep doubting" because there is so much to hope for that it would ruin humanity. All that there is is beyond humans' meager understanding and to release this into the world would cause such upheavel that it would effectively destroy the human existence that precedes death... all that we have learned, lived for, and know up to this point.
...something like that.
Yeah, I had the exact dilemma after watching it, wondering just what the filmmakers intended. The first time round, I had more of the "get there quicker" impression, but upon second glance, I think the film plays out as more supportive of the other reading.

But you know the line, "keep doubting" -- that probably applies to us as viewers too. ;)
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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