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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 28, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 28, 2020

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Post by sol » July 12th, 2020, 12:00 pm

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

Please share with us which films you saw last week. It would be great if you could include some comments on each film. It would be awesome if you could also take some time to comment on everyone else's viewings. Unfortunately, it has reached the point where it is no longer viable for me as host to comment on everyone else's viewings every week (especially since some people like to use the weekly thread to log their viewings and nothing else). I am always keen to promote movie discussion though, so if you comment on my own viewings, I will comment on yours at my earliest convenience.

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

This is what I saw:

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

Maniac Cop (1988). Suspicion falls on an adulterous cop as a desperate police force try to a nab a police uniform-wearing serial killer in this nifty thriller. While the film has some very raw and brutal violence and memorable kills (cement!), it is as a sharp satire that it works best with the city turning on their own police force; cops get killed by frightened citizens, while others claim "cops like killing; that's why they're cops". It is curious too how suspicion falls on a cop who was cheating, and then we discover that the killer is against the entire corrupt force. As a thriller, the film does not always work with too much time dedicated to Tom Atkins sleuthing, who manages to piece things together very easily, rather than the killer in action. It is slickly filmed though and a dialogue-free flashback of what happened to the killer in the shower is very well done. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Maniac Cop 2 (1990). Beginning where Maniac Cop ended, this sequel follows the continued killing spree of the murderer and the reluctance of the police force to let the public know that he is still at large, lest it reignite panic. Often cited as superior to the original, this entry is not as sharply satirical and feels more built around a catalogue of slayings than a city driven to chaos by mistrust. Maniac Cop 2 does at least do its own thing rather than copy the formula of the original. The killer gets a tag-along companion and even has a very human scene as he struggles to say his name. There are great neon red scenes too. The film also has a pretty awesome final line, but then a silly rap song spoils the mood. A complete recycling of the original's flashbacks feels lazy too, but this is generally energetic stuff, if not quite as powerful as the original. (first viewing, online) ★★

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993). Disowned by William Lustig (who reportedly refused to finish filming it), this is as uneven a horror sequel as one might expect. While there are some great images and nifty novelty deaths, the plot makes less sense than the other two movies by injecting a voodoo angle and romantic feelings in the killer that make him less enticing than the ruthless killing machine he previously seemed to be. Where the film gets really interesting is with a couple of Nightcrawler-like reporters who scour the city at night in search of gruesome crimes to report, but alas they are mere supporting characters here. Their overall insignificance also detracts from a media spin satire that the film otherwise tries to offer. With some particularly impressive pyrotechnical stunts, this is never once boring, but neither it is ever really gripping. (first viewing, online) ★

Junior (1985). Also known as Hot Water and A Cut Above, this is not a particularly good film whatever the title. There are some memorable bits and pieces, including a chainsaw scene (but that does not occur until an hour in) and a part where one of the protagonists lights her bikini top on fire, but this is a weird genre blend that never quite feels right. Ostensibly, it is a backwoods brutality horror film with two former prostitutes harassed by local rednecks, the most imposing of which is the mentally impaired title character. What this actually amounts to though is repeated scenes of Junior trying but failing to kill the women, which actually comes off as something closer to a comedy - only it is never very funny. There are also lots of scenes of Junior asking his even kookier mother's permission to kill, but the whole thing feels random and messy. (first viewing, online) ★

Junior (1994). Funding cut and his fertility research shut down, a scientist is talked into impregnating himself in this comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. It is an intriguing premise, but played as a comedy rather than a drama, all pseudoscience is shied over and there is lots of goofiness, yet precious few moments of Arnie grappling with what is happening to him and ethical questions. At the film's lamest, Arnie dresses in drag and puts on a female voice for a very long stretch, though there are also awkward moments of him eating "like a pregnant woman", balling his eyes out and so on, none of which is particularly funny. In fact, the funniest scene is the first one with director Ivan Reitman parodying his own Ghost Busters. If seldom boring, this is just not deep enough to click as a drama or zany enough to take off as a comedy. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Picture of Light (1994). More than just a documentary about an expedition to film the Northern Lights in Manitoba, this is a documentary about the very nature of film itself and how we live "in a time where things don't seem to exist if they are not captured as an image". This conflict drives much of the project with director Peter Mettler even recalling how he had to resist "the impulse to get my camera" at one point since it would ruin his memory of what he was seeing. Something else thought-provoking arises from the difficulties that the crew have in filming the natural phenomenon; maybe some things were never meant to be filmed? What footage we do see is enchanting though with superb accompanying audio. Unfortunately there are too many interviews in between the footage, but it is easy to see why this considered to be one of Canada's finest films. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Paint Cans (1994). Wanting to finally produce a high quality motion picture, a Telefilm Canada producer considers approving an experimental script in this industry satire. The film begins well with humorous voice-over as he talks about the difficulty making adventurous films in Canada when they rely on tax payer money, and the script for the film is comically pitiful, involving a man who cuts up his wife and stores her in paint cans and nothing more (but apparently it is a meta-movie!). There are lots of fun scenes of the movie being dissected, though there is also a lot of time dedicated to a romance with an ulterior motive so obvious that it is hard to believe that he never saw it coming. The romance aside, this is a fairly zesty film with Don Francks well cast as the protagonist's father who recognises how mediocre his son's films are and is not afraid to say so. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Roadracers (1994). Set in 1956, this early career Robert Rodriguez film focuses on a young smart alec who has difficulty avoiding trouble because he refuses to be intimidated by anybody in his small town. While there is not a lot driving the plot (it is basically David Arquette getting into various verbal and physical altercations) and the ending is abrupt, the overall film is incredibly immersive since Rodriguez gets the 50s atmosphere so right with accurate sets, cars, costumes and music. John Hawkes is also a lot of fun as a best friend obsessed with Invasion of the Body Snatchers - which of course was Rodriguez's inspiration for The Faculty - and Hawkes has an amazing scene after the end credits. The movie is very slickly filmed too; a roller-skating part is incredibly well done, while Rodriguez does well capturing action that mostly occurs at night. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

Uncle Sam (1996). Killed in friendly fire and his soul not at rest, a war veteran returns from the grave on American Independence Day, dons an Uncle Sam costume and sets about teaching those who disrespect the day a lesson in this William Lustig horror film. It is a decent satirical premise with some nifty kills (shoving up a flagpole) as the undead veteran takes his patriotism to heart. The film also assembles a decent line of potential victims, from draft dodgers, to flag burners to those who mock the National Anthem. At the same time, we also get an interesting child protagonist in the killer's hero-worshipping nephew who discovers that fighting for his country is not all that it is cracked up to be. The film missteps a bit by giving the killer a history of abuse, but if slow to warm up, this works pretty well as a look at a war hero simply pushed too far. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

Fathers' Day (1997). Both conned by the same ex-girlfriend into trying to find a runaway teenager who might be their son, two dissimilar men team up to find the lad in this comedy starring Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. The plot does not totally add up and the film uncomfortably endorses some wildly manipulative behaviour, but Crystal and Williams play well off each other with great banter and improvisation between them. Julia Louis-Dreyfus also has fun moments as Crystal's confused wife, though her befuddlement (with misunderstood phone calls and so on) is not milked for all that it is worth. As for the scenes without any of the film's three stars, they all fall flat. A drug dealer subplot is particularly cut and dry, and culminates in some ridiculous head-butting at a rock concert, while Charlie Hofheimer as the son has almost zero personality. (first viewing, DVD) ★

The Red Violin (1998). Ending up on auction in Montreal, this film traces the history of a red violin that had several owners across three continents over hundreds of years. It is an idea with some potential, tugging at intriguing notions regarding inanimate objects outliving their owners and the value something once worthless can gain. As a narrative though, the premise alone is insubstantial, and a weird sex-with-violin scene aside, most of the movie is cut and dry, with little explanation of what makes the violin so great until the final third when Samuel L. Jackson as an authenticator becomes prominent. The science behind his craft is curious, as well as his own evident love of the violin, but again, it is only near the end that he gets a chance to shine. It is kind of weird to think that THIS film is the reason why Thomas Newman still does not have an Oscar to this day. (first viewing, VHS) ★★

Spy Kids (2001). Their secret agent parents kidnapped, two siblings must overcome their differences to rescue them in this imaginative action comedy from Robert Rodriguez. Populated by villains and henchmen with simplistic motives, and with little bloodletting given the film's PG-rating swing, this sometimes feels rather silly - but it is always thoroughly entertaining to view. The biggest plus is the creative sets and inventive gadgetry with the villain's lair more like a crazy funhouse; there is also a lot to like in the wacky monsters and zany non-talking robots that Rodriguez populates his film with. The chemistry between Alexa PenaVega and Daryl Sabara is spot-on too and the film has some delightful bits as they fight robot versions of themselves who eventually learn to taunt them. The film sets itself up too obviously for a sequel, but it is fun while it lasts. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Spy Kids 2 (2002). Now professional child spies, the siblings from the first film go rogue on a mission to a mysterious island in this follow-up entry. As per the original, the film is most alive when Robert Rodriguez's imagination is allowed to run wild with crazy creatures on the island that bring to mind Ray Harryhausen. Steve Buscemi is also on hand as a mad scientist. The wacky inventions of the first film feel toned down though; the flying pigtails are great, but a good stretch here does not rely on technology, and some of it is downright silly this time (nose picking machine). Having love interests and rivals for the two siblings also distracts from their adventures, though Taylor Momsen is quite something as the very outspoken daughter of the US President. All in all, this is an entertaining ride, but one that sits well in the shadow of what came before. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006). While it opened to negative reviews, the first half-hour of this Ivan Reitman comedy is actually a lot of fun as Luke Wilson dates super-heroine Uma Thurman without knowing her identity and just assumes that she is neurotic and quirky. The film loses a lot of its oomph though once Thurman reveals her identity; her character feels entirely rewritten for the final hour of the movie with unrelenting jealousy only surfacing in her after the revelation, and then the ways she tries to get back at him are pretty lame, a totally insane Sharknado spoof aside. Everything does sort of come together well at the end with some craziness involving a certain rock. Eddie Izzard and Rainn Wilson are also both hilarious throughout, but it is easy to see why this disappointed those expecting this fantasy venture to be a Reitman return-to-form. (first viewing, online) ★★

I Know Who Killed Me (2007). Found injured, a young woman wakes up in hospital to be told that she is not who she thinks she is in this intriguing thriller starring Lindsay Lohan. The film bombed on initial release, which is a shame but understandable. With loads of neon, much talk about doubles, halves and personal identity issues, the film plays out closer to a David Lynch film than the comedies that Lohan was making back then. It is a pretty decent film too and downright eerie at times with amazing colour scheme including pronounced blues and reds. The film goes down a particularly compelling pathway when she begins to believe that she may be a twin separated at birth; A Zed & Two Noughts springs to mind. The title is pretty silly, and sounds even more ridiculous when Lohan finally says it out loud, but this is stylish and thought-provoking stuff. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Polytechnique (2009). Based on an actual college mass shooting and filmed in stark black and white, Denis Villeneuve provides a chilling account of human terror here. The opening scene is quite jolting even knowing that some shooting is coming, and the film follows this with eerily calm first person narration by the gunman who considers himself "a rational individual pushed to take extreme measures". While he mentions a dislike of feminism though, the film never quite probes deep enough into this. The project also ends on a sentimental note that takes away the immediacy of the shooting. All of the scenes at the polytechnic are really well done though. Villeneuve uses limited lighting well and frames his shots with deliberately limited sense of space that acutely captures the fear of the students who are literally unsure of what is just around the corner. (first viewing, online) ★★★

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016). Deciding to play along when the horror author she is caring for starts mistaking her for one of her characters, a live-in nurse becomes fascinated by the character and consumed with paranoia in this Canadian horror film. Written and directed by Oz Perkins, this is not as eerie and atmospheric as his February (aka The Blackcoat's Daughter) with too much voice-over, but it is cut from the same cloth, with a brooding sense of dread and few overt scares. While the ending leaves more questions than answers, Perkins richly captures the nurse's pure terror and fear. There is a particularly great shot of television static washing over her face and the audio design features lots of disquieting sound effects. The title is unexpectedly apt too, relating to a key theme that even the prettiest things eventually rot. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Alita: Battle Angel (2019). Reactivated several centuries after she was shut down with few memories intact, a cyborg tries to discover why she was manufactured while navigating a confusing new century in this action thriller. With a generic dire dystopia world, messy action scenes and a maudlin romance, this is an easy film to disparage, but there is quite a bit of interest to it too. The personal identity issues are intriguing, a surrogate father/daughter angle works well and the whole design of the main character is fascinating. Understandably some have been put off by her appearance, but the fact that she looks so cute and adorable with those large eyes actually furthers the tale. She proves much more dangerous and deadly than she looks - and indeed maybe none of us are as helpless as we look and all of us are capable of standing up and taking action. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

The Decline (2020). Undertaking survivalist training in a remote part of Québec, a small group of paranoid individuals become divided about what to do after a fatal accident in this Canadian movie. As a thriller, the film takes quite a while to warm up with lots of talk and discussion before the accident, and yet this is arguably the most fascinating stretch of the film, given that these folks are all so worried about an unlikely doomsday event that they have undergone crazy training, and then there is the man in charge who seems very much like a cult leader. More debate over what to do might have also been better, but once everything becomes a chase thriller there is certainly no denying how generally effective the chase scenes are. The snowy wilderness setting works in the film's favour too as the characters struggle to overcome both human and natural dangers. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Rhythm Section (2020). Her family killed in a terrorist bombing, a grieving woman trains to become an assassin when her government refuses to act in this revenge film with a difference. Far removed from popcorn flicks about glorious and graceful assassins, the focus here is always how unprofessional she is and how hard every kill is, and while a flawed film, it is easy to admire the ambition for added realism. This added realism does, however, mean that there is little action until the second half and her training scenes tend to be accompanied by an upbeat music score that feels tonally inconsistent. The film also does a poor job with exposition (it takes a good twenty minutes before it is clear what is going on). When the film gets down to her difficulties as an assassin, it is electric though - and a car chase shot from the passenger seat is brilliant. (first viewing, online) ★★

REVISIONS

Crimes of the Future (1970). Lots of great ideas abound in this early David Cronenberg venture which, with its focus on genetic mutations, feels very much like a warm-up for the body horror master. A third viewing only confirms though how amateurish it feels, with many drawn out dialogue-free scenes that only seem to exist to beef up the running time to over 60 minutes. The film is frequently fascinating though as it looks at "creative cancers", organs extracted from a man who keeps growing new organs "seemingly without function", and when weighing up if the hairs developing from one man's nostrils may just be highly developed nerves. The quieter moments are never too interesting, save for the near the end where the power of suggestion conveys all as the plot some takes increasingly bizarre and disturbing turns that may or may not make sense. (third viewing, DVD) ★★

Ocean's Eleven (2001). Still as fresh as ever after ten viewings, Ocean's Eleven is not only a great heist movie, but a great film about friendship and camaraderie - something that really comes out with the ad-lib style dialogue, all of which is perfectly timed - especially George Clooney and Brad Pitt finishing each other's sentences. The whole thing is sumptuously filmed too, with lots of supersaturated colours throughout, clever editing (Pitt raising a glass in one shot and putting in down in another near identical shot) and pitch perfect music cues and song choices throughout. What is perhaps most remarkable about the film though is how it pitches thirteen protagonists together - including Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia's characters - and manages to develop them all as distinct individuals with their own idiosyncrasies. A rare miracle of a film. (tenth viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Ocean's Twelve (2004). Without a big heist and lower stakes (no revenge motive for the crew), this will probably always be considered the black sheep of the Ocean's franchise, but it is still a pretty amazing film on its own terms. The lower stakes lead to more characterisation with great conversations in which the team discuss their relationships, fears of ageing, how difficult it is to turn their brains off and not see the "angles", and a dislike over being called 'Ocean's Eleven'. The lower stakes also lead to this being the laugh-out-loud funniest of the three films, with the Julia Roberts/Bruce Willis come off particularly well. Steven Soderbergh does a lovely job shooting the film once again too; a sideways plane overhead shot is simply magnificent. Nine viewings later and this is still as fun as ever with all the plot twists and turns working sublimely. (ninth viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Ocean's Thirteen (2007). Boasting more prominent supersaturated colours than its predecessors, niftier editing (plenty of split screen used well) and even more glorious music choices, this is easily the most stylish of the three Ocean's films. As a narrative it is also the best. The revenge motive clicks better here than in Part 1 since it affects each and every player and the whole code of ethics between those who shook Sinatra's hand works really well. The supporting performances are also perfectly on the mark, especially the newly added Al Pacino, but also Carl Reiner doing great impressions as always, and David Paymer as the V.U.P. who has some of the film's funniest scenes. Andy Garcia's character also gets an amazing comeuppance that tops off the trilogy as a look at not just friendship but also greed versus honour among thieves. (ninth viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

OtherShow
Pour la suite du monde (1963). Hoping that "the young may see what the old invented", the elderly villagers of a Québec island agree to revive the whale hunting practices of their forefathers so that they can be captured on film here. Shot on a handheld camera that the filmmakers even take into the water, this is generally considered to be a pioneer and revolutionary documentary. Most of the first half of the film though simply consists of the villagers either sitting or standing around and talking with the occasional dance in masks in between. The action, as such, picks up more in the second half, and the actual whale capturing is intense, but even then there is more time spent on the villagers arguing than really doing anything. Thematically, there is a lot to like about these folks trying to preserve tradition; actually watching the film though is less exciting. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Cat in the Bag (1964). Focusing on a misanthropic young man and how his worldviews provide a hiccup in his romantic relationship, this French Canadian drama has a lot of interest at first. It easy to relate on his desire to not be part of a structured society, and the whole film is exquisitely shot in luscious black and white with echoic sound and characters talking to the camera in the style of a French New Wave movie. Alas, the project quickly outstays its welcome. As he drones on and on about the same issues, his diatribes soon become repetitive and he eventually comes across as more of whiner than the philosopher that he initially seems to be. His treatment of his girlfriend (always interrupting, never letting her talk) is deplorable too, and even spending a mere 74 minutes with him is nearly unbearable. The film looks and sounds amazing though. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Child of the Future (1964). Subtitled "how might he learn?", this Canadian documentary purports to look into the future of education and what the classrooms of tomorrow might look like. It is a fascinating topic, especially when viewed retrospectively, and the first few stretches of the documentary are great as we see pendulums and film loops as examples of technology back then. An experimental literacy program involving screens is pretty neat too. As the film progresses though it seems to lose focus, spending a lot of time not on kids but rather teenagers learning foreign languages via video recordings and television broadcasts, none of which is too spectacular. This is though an interesting part with a series of slides and accompanying (but separate) audio, and near the end we get to see some kids making Norman McLaren inspired shorts. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Helicopter Canada (1966). Aerial footage of Canada's ten provinces is spliced together in this documentary narrated by Stanley Jackson. Of particular note is some candid footage of a mountain goat, but pretty much all of the landscapes that we get to see from above are interesting, and yet, this is an up and down ride overall. Jackson's humour varies quite a bit in effectiveness; there is a very funny part early on as he talks about how Canadians "have to protect themselves" since they live next to Americans, but most of his jokes fall flat. There are also some questionable song and music choices. What works best is a stretch that has kids talking about the images being shown, and with their honesty and youthful fascination, it is hard not to wish that the entire documentary had been narrated this way, though this is reasonably engaging as is it while it lasts. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Rowdyman (1972). Acting like a teenager, still getting drunk and partying all the time despite being well into his thirties, a Newfoundland man annoys and embarrasses everyone around him in this drama written by and starring Gordon Pinsent long before Away From Her. Memorable moments include Pinsent refusing to leave his best friend alone on his wedding night and outrunning local coppers. Unfortunately, Pinsent is thoroughly dislikeable with his refusal to grow up. Things take a bit of a sharp turn in the final 35 minutes with a workplace accident, but having proved himself so obnoxious until then, it is hard to care about any changes this brings. The film also features too many sentimental songs. Pinsent has some pretty solid moments here and there with Will Geer as a much older wheelchair-bound friend, but this is always a mere subplot. (first viewing, online) ★★

Cannibal Girls (1973). Stranded in a small town when their car needs fixing, a Toronto couple begin to wonder if a local legend about cannibalistic young women could be true in this horror film. While there is little explicit cannibal action, the film features a fair dose of gore and squeamish suggested killings, such as a bit where a victim screams in pain in close-up while the girls (off-screen) begin biting his stomach. The structure of the project feels a little frenzied though, full of flashbacks that last so long that one tends to forget that they are flashbacks, and with a zany reverend in Ronald Ulrich who pops up out of nowhere to suddenly be a key character. More on Ulrich and the girls' rituals would have been great too, but the whole thing is at least slickly filmed with creative camera angles and some clever framing making up for the noticeably low budget. (first viewing, online) ★★

Fort Good Hope (1977). Investigating the prospect of building a pipeline in the Northwest Territories, the Canadian government provokes angst and resentment from the native people in this fascinating documentary that gives voice to locals who believe that they were cheated with ill-explained land treaties. Talking about how they are "destroyed to make somebody else rich" and so on, it is easy to feel for their struggle. There is also the question of whether building the pipeline will just be destructive without achieving its goal since building on permanently frozen ground is something that has never been done before. The documentary's attempts to be neutral - also stating how the pipeline would provide so many jobs to the natives - zaps away some of its potency, but this is generally compelling, and at less than 50 minutes, never outstays its welcome. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Hounds of Notre Dame (1980). Hard drinking, chain-smoking and very politically opinionated, the unconventional parish priest at a Saskatchewan boarding school might actually have what it takes to shape his unruly pupils into responsible citizens in this Canadian drama based on a real life priest and school. The film is mostly powered through by Thomas Peacocke's commanding performance as the priest in question (he won the Genie Award for Best Actor) and the memorable spats that he gets into with his superiors over denouncing Communism, with his staff over his contradictions for appropriate teacher etiquette and with his students. He also creatively uses a nun's habit at one point to teach some boys a lesson. As for the students (and in fact all the other characters) they are sadly interchangeable and/or dull, but Peacocke really lights up the screen. (first viewing, online) ★★

Deal of the Century (1983). Opening with an over-the-top commercial for a weapon plane, this comedy gets off to a sharp satirical start. Things become darkly comical too as Chevy Chase surprises potential buyers with his black market bazooka. Alas, after this strong start, the movie falls apart. The biggest issue seems to be that is pulling in a lot of different directions at once. It is partially about Chase stealing an arms contract off a dead man (something he does with so few scruples that he instantly becomes dislikeable), but also partially about his arms-dealing partner finding religion, and yet also about the dead man's wife chasing Chase for the contract. With so much going on, the film kind of forgets to be funny. Gregory Hines probably has the best angle as Chase's born-again Christian partner, but how his character ends up progressing never quite clicks. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Revolution (1985). Their boat requisitioned during the American War of Independence, a widower and his preteen son end up reluctantly fighting in a war that they do not care about in this historical epic starring Al Pacino. A notorious flop upon release, the film actually begins well with much tension as the pair's boat is confiscated by officials who laugh at their objections, and the way the son is tricked into enlisting is memorable too. After this strong start though, everything becomes messy as the pair go from one conflict to another, occasionally getting separated and with little sense of time. Nastassja Kinski also pops up here and there as the film unwisely tries to be a sweeping love story too despite dedicating few scenes to the pair falling in love - but on a smaller scale with more focus on Pacino's character and key war events, this may have really been something. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Family Viewing (1987). Memories and the role of video in capturing memories seem to be the focus of this strange Atom Egoyan feature. The plot revolves around a teenager whose mother is out of the picture. He is close to his grandmother, but cannot understand why his father makes her live in a nursing home and why his father erases home videos of his mother. Curious as this might sound, the plot is even more complex with a phone sex worker, another woman in the same nursing home, plus a private detective - and ultimately it becomes hard to keep track of what is going on. There are some nifty moments as the film switches between recordings and the reality of the movie, but then there is also much to read into with the grandmother placed in front of a television set all day. Perhaps it could best be said that this feels overstuffed for such a brief feature. (first viewing, online) ★★

Snake Eater (1989). Carrying a wealth of knowledge and experience from serving as Special Forces in Vietnam, an undercover cop uses various booby traps and homemade inventions as he tries to rescue his sister from hillbilly kidnappers in this Canadian action film. This has been described as MacGyver meets Deliverance, which is pretty accurate and it is almost as fun as it sounds. And yet, while some booby trap floorboard spikes early on are eye-popping, our hero generally gets little chance to apply his ingenuity, with lots of very ordinary fights and far too many scenes of the hillbillies unsettling his sister. It is all quite enjoyable to watch though with ample weirdness in things like a motorbike turned into a jet ski. The post-climax final scene is really funny too and leads to a great final note, even if it feels tagged-on and unaligned with the narrative. (first viewing, online) ★★

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993). As per the title, this unconventional biopic presents the life of Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould in thirty two episodes. They are not actually short films per se, but more so vignettes, and while this is a refreshingly different approach to recounting someone's life, the vignettes inevitably vary in effectiveness. The ones that work the best are the acted ones with Colm Feore doing well capturing Gould's triskaidekaphobia and general pessimism, and yet, these episodes are the least informative. We actually learn the most about Gould from the scattered interview clips, but shot as simple talking heads, these are also by far the most mundane stretches. Perhaps the most intriguing one is a brief animated clip set to Gould's music, though again it is not an episode that tells us too much about Gould the person. (first viewing, online) ★★

New Waterforld Girl (1999). Tired of living in her small Nova Scotia town, a teenager does everything that can to try to leave in this indie drama. The premise is okay with some quirky bits as she tries to hitchhike to Mexico and enroll in educational programs out of town. The movie quickly grows repetitive though; it is mostly scenes of her complaining about how cut-and-dry her town is strung together, while at the same time we never see what is so terrible about the place that she feels such a desperate need to escape. Things go in a somewhat more intriguing direction halfway in as she becomes set on getting pregnant so that she can be sent away to have a baby, but this is nowhere near as funny as the filmmakers appear to think. Liane Balaban is certainly fine in the lead role, but her compelling performance is the only big plus that this film has going for it. (first viewing, online) ★

The Last Trapper (2004). Shot on location in the wilderness of Canada's Yukon Territory, this film about a trapper going about his day-to-day life is almost worth seeing for the images alone. As he traverses Canada's north, we see both picturesque rivers in the warmer areas and dense forests, while lots of serene ice and snow in the colder parts. Taken as a narrative though, this always feels insubstantial. There is very little driving the story with no real urgency or sense of danger, an early appearance by a bear aside. The voiceover narration also varies wildly in effectiveness; some of his truisms, like "we have to start living with nature, not against it" sit well, yet a lot of his narration feels documentary-like in approach, clinically explaining the role of trappers as a part of an ecosystem and the importance of not taking more than one needs from the environment. (first viewing, online) ★★

September Dawn (2007). Suspicious of a group settlers moving through their area, a clan of Mormons look for a heavenly sign to justify their desire to slaughter the innocent travelers in this fictional recount of an actual massacre. While shocking and brutal at its most confronting with children killed too, the project often feels distracted by focusing heavily on a romance between a settler and a Mormon. The film also drones on a lot about true love and the virtues of monogamy over polygamy. The deluded Mormons angle is a lot more interesting, but at the same time feels disrespectful. While their actions were horrific, the film paints them as pure evil as opposed to trying to get under their skin and understand their thinking. This is slickly made with some excellent lethargic dissolves, but the romance and 'evil' Mormons cheapen a film that aims for historical accuracy. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Iqaluit (2016). Titled after the capital city of Canada's Nunavut Territory, this brooding drama follows the experiences of Montreal woman who travels north after her construction worker husband suffers a life-threatening injury. The exteriors are all very majestic and the first third of the film is quite strong, focusing on how otherworldly and unconventionally beautiful the city is, as well as all the mixed emotions she has over her husband. Things seem to grow more interesting as she begins to discover things that she did not know about her husband, but everything that is revealed ends up being mundane with the movie feeling like a melodrama by the time all of the secrets come to the surface. It is pretty cool though watching a film shot entirely on location in Nunavut, and some of the Inuit customs are admittedly fascinating, eating raw seal meat etc. (first viewing, online) ★★

Tia and Piujuq (2018). Unable to make friends in her area, a young Syrian refugee finds a portal that takes her to Nunavut where she meets a local Inuk girl in this pleasant family drama. While themes of refugee displacement and grief enter into things, this is first and foremost a tale of two girls bonding and the interactions between the two actresses feel very real. As for how the portal works, this is inevitably shied over, though there is some suggestion of a connection to Inuit mysticism with the girls imagining all sorts of monsters when together. While not exactly scary, the film does get a little creepy at one point when the Inuk girl's grandmother recounts a story of fingers being chopped off and turning into animals, and with her story depicted well in animation, it is hard not to wish that Inuit legends were a greater part of the film's overall tapestry. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Song of Names (2019). Decades after his childhood friend (and musical prodigy) suddenly disappeared without a trace, a middle aged man sets out on a quest to track down his friend in this Canada/Hungary co-production. The film is powered through by a strong lead turn from Tim Roth; the two child actors who play the boys as kids are fairly good too. The way the film keeps jumping between the present day and flashbacks soon becomes irksome though - and much of the movie is melodramatic. Things do admittedly pick up when the pair finally reunite with the second half of the film largely dedicated to his reasons for vanishing. Some of the World War II, Holocaust themes and renouncement of religion ideas work well too, though these largely become buried under flashbacks of the boys bonding and present day awkward conversations. (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 12th, 2020, 1:26 pm

«Democracy can not be defined simply by its means. Not via voting, discussion, or general assemblies. Real democracy must be definied by its goal: Collective self-mastery.»
- INVENTING THE FUTURE (ISIAH MEDINA, 2020) 9/10
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パルチザン前史 / Prehistory of the Partisans / Pre-History of the Partisan Party / Paruchizan Zenshi (土本典昭/Noriaki Tsuchimoto, 1969) 7-/10
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The Gate to the Mind's Eye (Michael Boydstun, 1994) 7+/10

The Second Journey (To Uluru) (Arthur & Corinne Cantrill ©1977-81) 8/10

Epsilon / Alien Visitor (original 1995 version) (Rolf de Heer, 1997) 8/10

Edward James: Builder of Dreams (Avery Danziger & Sarah Stein, 1995) 7+/10

一个死者对生者的访问 / Yi ge shi zhe dui sheng zhe de fang wen / Questions for the Living / A Dead Man Visits the Living (黄健中/Jian-zhong Huang, 1986/1988) 9-/10
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双生児 / Gemini (塚本晋也/Shinya Tsukamoto, 1999) 5/10

Takeshis' (北野武/Takeshi Kitano, 2005) 6/10

Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman, 2014) (2nd viewing)

Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2013) (2nd viewing)

Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016) (2nd viewing)
«...it's a fucking alien invasion movie about two scientists trying to teach Cthulhu English for several months.»
- Perception de Ambiguity (07.02.2017)


shorts

Silver Traces (Bruce Wood, 1976) (2 viewings) 6+/10

Iwanakya yokatta & Yamaoka-sensei / Better Left Unsaid & Mr. Yamaoka (Shunichiro Miki, 2004) 4/10

Heliography (Hiroshi Yamazaki, 1979) 8-/10

humming, fast and slow (Rainer Kohlberger, 2013) (2 viewings) 9/10

Oro Parece (Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy AKA OJOBOCA, 2012) 6/10

Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (Tracey Moffatt, 1990) 3/10

The Adventures of Alan R. (David Lynch, ????/2020(?)) 4+/10

Adidas: The Wall (David Lynch, 1993) (rewatch) 6+/10


music videos

Kontra K feat. Samra: Tiefschwarz (Shaho Casado, 2020)

Kid Cudi, Eminem: The Adventures Of Moon Man & Slim Shady (Lyric Video) (2020) (2 viewings)

Dorian Electra: Sorry Bro (I Love You) (2020)


other

The Joe Rogan Experience - #550 - Rupert Sheldrake (2014) 6+/10


series

DEVS (Alex Garland, 2020) 8/10
Ep1 6/10, Ep2 6/10, Ep3 7/10, Ep4 8/10, Ep5 8/10, Ep6 6/10, Ep7 8/10, Ep8 8/10

Georgia Coffee: Twin Peaks (David Lynch, 1993) (rewatch) 4/10
Spot 1: "Lost" 5/10; Spot 2: "Cherry Pie" 4/10; Spot 3: "A Mystery of 'G'" 3/10; Spot 4: "The Rescue" 3/10

didn't finish

Die Sieger (director's cut) (Dominik Graf, 1994) [29 min]
The Rebel / Amakusa Shirô Tokisada (Nagisa Ôshima, 1962) [20 min]
The Beach House (Jeffrey A. Brown, 2019) [16 min]
In This Life's Body (Corinne Cantrill, 1984) [14 min]
One False Move (Carl Franklin, 1992) [11 min]
Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011) (would-be rewatch) [36 min]


notable online media

top:
LSD Trip Simulation Replication [Accurate POV]
Why Passivity Breeds Mediocrity and Mental Illness
Is EVERYTHING CONSCIOUS!? | Russell Brand & Prof. Philip Goff
[JRE Toons / YT channel "PowerfulJRE"]
rest:
[YT channel "DAVID LYNCH THEATER"]


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Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on July 12th, 2020, 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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peeptoad
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#3

Post by peeptoad » July 12th, 2020, 1:47 pm

hi sol

I've seen a few of yours and honestly have no strong opinion really about any of them-

Junior (1985) 4
The Red Violin (1998) 7
Spy Kids (2001) seen it but not rated- maybe 6-7?
Crimes of the Future (1970) 5
Ocean's Eleven (2001) 7

I've been slowly working on the RTD challenge, plus I finally saw Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which was quite good, but I preferred Tomboy from Sciamma-

Martyrs (2008) 7
The Tall Man (2012) 6
Incident in a Ghostland (2018) 6
Ovoce stromu rajských jíme (1970) Fruit of Paradise 7
Kalamita (1982) Calamity 6+
Vlci bouda (1987) Wolf's Hole 8+*
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) 8
The Old Guard (2020) 5
La boulangère de Monceau (1963) Bakery Girl of Monceau 8
La carrière de Suzanne (1963) Suzanne's Career 7
*rewatch

I also started a run for Rohmer, but I've been busy last two days so I'll try to catch up tomorrow...

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Onderhond
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#4

Post by Onderhond » July 12th, 2020, 2:53 pm

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One of those weeks where I watched a lot of very good and interesting films, but struggled a bit to find a truly great one. Pretty much all my 3.5* ratings are solid recommends though. Also very few bad ones this week. Some mediocre music docs and the usual Alvin crap, but I've really been spared this week.


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01. 4.0* - House of Voices [Saint Ange] by Pascal Laugier (2004)[/b]
A fabulous start to Laugier's career. House of Voices starts of a little slow, lulls you to sleep, makes you believe you're just watching a simple haunted house flick, but there's a darker side to the film that start to reveal itself after the halfway mark. Cinematography, soundtrack and performances are all great, this is quality horror cinema.

02. 3.5* - Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops [ce to Amaoto] by Daigo Matsui (2017)
Daigo Matsui takes a more serious approach with Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops. I know him as a comedy director, producing films that have goofy premises, but also harbor a slightly darker core. That darkness finally surfaces and dominates Matsui's latest, though it's not an easy puzzle to decipher. The film follows a theater group that is preparing for their very first show. Then comes the news that nobody is buying any tickets and that their production has been cancelled. But the film deliberately blurs the lines between reality and play and it's hard to know what's real and what is staged. The fact that it's a single take film and even switches between different locations only adds to the confusion, but it also increases the appeal. While it's a film that left me with more questions than answers, it's also a film that leaves a strong impression and won't be easily forgotten. Matsui deserves credit for his bravery and vision, the execution could've been a little tighter though.

03. 3.5* - Extra Ordinary by Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman (2019)
A comedy. Just that really. No drama, no serious bits, no takeaways, nothing to spoil the jolly and daft atmosphere that drives this film. Just a hilarious comedy. It's such a rarity nowadays that it's almost hard to believe you're actually watching one, it wasn't until the end credits started rolling that I actually believed there wasn't going to be a late genre twist. There's also a small layer of horror underneath it all, but that's just there for the plot. The film never gets tense, creepy or gory, everything here is done with one single goal in mind: to make you smile, giggle and smirk. It's a good thing then the film is pretty good at it too, if dry comedy is your thing at least. Higgins and Ward are pretty great, Forte and O'Doherty are good too, but in a more exaggerated way. Visually it's quite dry, though clearly a conscious decision, as there are a few moments that betray the broader skill of both directors. This was a very welcome surprise, just a little more polish and Ahern + Loughman are ready to deliver their masterpiece.

04. 3.5* - The Blackout (Avanpost) by Egor Baranov, Nathalia Hencker (2019)
Straight-forward, but fun and entertaining sci-fi/invasion flick that does things just a little differently. The Blackout is pure genre work, but made with a bigger budget. That means that there isn't too much drama and/or pandering to all potential groups of cinema goers, but a purer focus on the sci-fi and action elements. Even though the film doesn't look cheap, it's clear that they still had to cut some corners. The sci-fi elements are well executed, but not very consistent. When needed for world-building and effect they are given the necessary time in the spotlight, at the other times the film looks surprisingly mundane and contemporary. The actors are decent enough, the reveal halfway through is interesting and the finale is explosive. There are moments when the film goes above and beyond mere genre expectations, but they are few and far between. The ending isn't entirely satisfactory either, but I'll be there for the sequel regardless.

05. 3.5* - Emotion [Émotion] by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi (1966)
One of Obayashi's early shorts. The recently deceased madcap director clearly didn't miss his start. Emotion is quite experimental, but also just plain weird, a mix not uncommon in Obayashi's films. Where his feature films have narratives that are somewhat easier to follow though, Emotion is bonkers from start to finish. Parts of the film are shot in color, others are monochrome. The editing is frantic, with jump cuts, repetitions, stop-motion and fast intertitles, happily referencing the era of silent film. There's lots of voice-over narration too though, some in English, some in Japanese. The film feels like a baffling fever dream, something I can definitely appreciate. At just under 40 minutes, it's also not too long. The plot is really rather vague and the execution is quite crude, so 90 minutes of this would've been a bit much. At its current length though, Emotion is a fun, quirky, creative and appealing film that is sure to please those seeking out something different. A must for fans of Obayashi's work, a good starting point for all the rest.

06. 3.5* - Broil by E.J. Drake (2019)
Interesting mix of horror and fantasy that takes an all too familiar horror niche and sprinkles it with some creative lore. While the result isn't something entirely novel, the new additions were enough to make me doubt the direction and outcome of the film. And that's a rare feat for any horror film nowadays. The cast is solid, but not perfect. Neither are the visuals, which is probably the main reason why I didn't rate this even higher. While it looks decent enough, it lacks the polish and detail to be a true stand-out. The score on the other hand was impressive. Not the most subtle, but very leading and instrumental in dictating the atmosphere. Not everything works, but for a film that tries to bring something new to the table that's easily forgiven. The first half hour is the weakest, after that everything slowly falls into place and the finale is pretty spot on. A fresh, entertaining, intruiging and pretty twisted horror flick. Liked this one a lot.

07. 3.5* - The Promised Land [Rakuen] by Takahisa Zeze (2019)
Why is it that films referring to promised lands (or Shangri-Las, or utopias, or whatever they call it) always use the reference in an ironic manner? I hadn't heard a thing about Zeze's latest, but at no point did I expect this film to be a pleasant, heartwarming drama about a place that feels like an actual promised land. The titular promised land is a small community in rural Japan. A sunny village hidden between the mountains that does look like an idyllic place, at least from afar. Of course these communities hide a lot of toxicity too and when a young girl goes missing a long feud begins, one that will make its fair share of victims. Performances are solid, the film looks pretty nice and the mix of drama and thriller elements works very well. There's little wrong with this film, but it also doesn't really set itself apart from many others. It's a solid, memorable and at times impressive drama that further underlines Zeze's talent, but never quite dazzles.

08. 3.5* - Palm Springs by Max Barbakow (2020)
The Lonely Island crew makes a time loop film for contemporary audiences. Palm Springs put Samberg in the lead and lets him revisit the same day again and again. It's a familiar setup and this film doesn't wander too much from the beaten path, but they nailed the execution and that makes up for a lot. There's a tighter focus on comedy (and a little romance) rather than on mystery, which was probably a smart decision as most people know how these types of films pan out by now. Samberg is doing his usual shtick, Milioti and Simmons are really fun additions to the cast and help to brighten things up. The film looks nice enough, there are some memorable moments and the pacing is perfect. It may feel a little rushed if you've never seen one of these time loops before, but it's nice to see a film that doesn't spend too much time on concepts and ideas that have been done to death already. An entertaining, fun and cheery feature.

09. 3.5* - The Garden of Evening Mists by Tom Lin (2019)
The new Tom Lin film is a Pan-Asian project, which is definitely new territory for the Taiwanese filmmaker. It's also the first time he handles a book adaptation, those two things combined probably help to explain why The Garden of Evening Mists feels a bit more traditional compared to Lin's other work. The film is centered around the Japanese occupation of Malaysia, but highlights the unique relationship between a Japanese gardener and a young woman looking for her missing sister. It's a pretty classic and recognizable setup, not in the least because the story is told through a series of flashbacks. With Hiroshi Abe and Jessica Lee on board, Lin had the proper acting talent secured. It's a bit of a bummer most of their dialogue happens in English, but that was to be expected. The cinematography is nice and polished, but not too challenging, while the soundtrack hinges between moody and sappy. Overall this was a fine film, but Lin's signature style doesn't really come through enough, which makes it his "worst" film to date.

10. 3.0* - Delusion [Wang Xiang Zheng] by Danny Pang (2016)
One of Danny Pang's more recent efforts. While both brothers are still quite active, their films are having a much harder time reaching the West nowadays. It's a shame, because they are a talented duo and I do like most of their films. On the other hand, if you look at a film like Delusion, it's not very surprising that international interest has faded. Not that it's a bad film, but it feels like a film that should've been made a decade earlier. And even then, Danny Pang's films used to be better than Delusion. What you get is three short ghost stories, marginally connected to each other, with (by now) very predictable scares and plot twists. Performances are a bit doubty too, but nothing too off-putting. The film looks nice, Danny is a good editor and the fact that you get three films for the price of one helps with the pacing, it's just a shame that I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd all seen it before, from the same director, only better. Delusion is good filler, but a little disappointing nonetheless.

11. 3.0* - Irresistible by Jon Stewart (2020)
A cynical political comedy by Jon Stewart. Stewart takes aim at the political circus and spares no one. The timing is a little odd maybe (America's first priority is to get rid of Trump, not fix their political system), on the other hand the film is a good reminder that the fight won't be over, no matter who wins the November election. Steve Carell plays a political advisor who finds an unlikely candidate for the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, one of the swing states. Certain he can make an example of him and turn the entire state again, he travels there to meet the guy and help him become mayor of his small hometown. Of course the Republicans find out and decide to give the Democratic campaign a run for its money. The comedy is decent but a little dry and not quite sharp enough. The film is also extremely targeted at American politics, even though Stewart makes a broader point. It's all a bit on the nose (that final speech was not okay), but overall it was a pretty funny, if somewhat inconspicuous film.

12. 3.0* - The Occupant [Hogar] by David Pastor, Àlex Pastor (2020)
A solid thriller from the Pastor brothers. I've been keeping an eye on them ever since they released Carriers. While not modern day geniuses, they are young, talented directors who can deliver a fine genre film. The Last Days was a step up from them, so I was hopeful that The Occupant might continue the upwards trajectory. While a fine thriller, don't expect too much from this one. It's one of those films that comes with a relatively ingenious setup, but gets a bit overconfident and can't quite deliver on its promise. When everything starts fitting together a little too well and the plan ends up being a bit too convenient, a lot of tension goes right out of the window. Performances are good but not spectacular, the script is fine but a little expected. The cinematography and soundtrack are polished, but hardly eye/ear popping. It's a film that doesn't have any overt flaws, but fails to excel at anything in particular. Solid genre filler in other words. Not bad, but it didn't leave a big impression.

13. 3.0* - Elisa & Marcela [Elisa y Marcela] by Isabel Coixet (2019)
A rather basic arthouse drama. The clean and crisp black and white cinematography is the star of the film and deserves some accolades, but beyond that, there isn't all that much here. It's a fairly standard story about a same-sex relationship that isn't accepted by the world our protagonists live in. The film is based on a true story and there are some remarkable details that make the story stand out. But these footnotes never add much to the emotional weight of the film and the structure remains all too familiar. Two people meet, fall in love, but society won't have none of it and persecution follows. The cast is decent but nothing more. The soundtrack is pretty standard arthouse fare too. A piano here, some string work there, but never truly present. And even though the film looks absolutely stunning, there is also some very cliché imagery (like the close-ups of flowers in the rain) that could've been left out. It's definitely not a bad film, but it's a little too expected and familiar.

14. 3.0* - The Magnificent Ruffians [Mai Ming Xiao Zi] by Cheh Chang (1979)
An entertaining and action-packed Cheh Chang film, but when you're already familiar with his work you won't find anything new here. It's always nice to see Chang do what he's good at, on the other hand when you see too many of these films in a short time span, it can get a little too repetitive. The Magnificent Ruffians is a somewhat inconspicuous entry in Chang's oeuvre. It plays like a sort of blueprint of Chang's work, sporting a rather basic setup, followed by a bunch of training scenes and pre-finale brawls that lead up to a long and excessive showdown at the end of the film. Performances are a little weaker than usually the case, the variety in fight choreographies makes up for that though. At 105 minutes, the film is a bit too long (these Shaw Bros films work best when they stay within the 90-minute limit), but overall this is another fun and entertaining film that is sure to appeal to any Shaw Bros fans out there.

15. 2.5* - Almost Human by Nan Zhang (2020)
A slightly confused genre film, something I haven't seen from Chinese cinema in a while now. Nan Zhang tries to blend sci-fi/thriller elements with romance/drama, but that hill proves just a little too steep. The result is middling and somewhat disappointing, at the same time it's hard to miss the potential. As a sci-fi/thriller, this film was pretty damn interesting. Some very cool visuals, a moody soundtrack and a somewhat basic but solid set-up kept me interested. The lair of the bad guys is awesome, the main character is ruthless and intriguing. Whenever this film turns dark, it's a real treat to watch. But that's just half of the film. The other half is some sappy, cheesy romance that felt anything but sincere. The frequent switches between both parts were jarring, and they never really seemed to make sense together. It's a daring choice and if it would've worked this could've been a masterpiece, for now it's just a lot of potential squandered by poor choices and flawed execution.

16. 2.5* - Ninja Assassin by James McTeigue (2009)
Not as bad as it could have been. US films about ninjas (and samurai for that matter) tend be quite cheap and cheesy. Ninja Assassin doesn't fully escape that faith, but at least there are some kick-ass action scenes, which counts for something. That's pretty much the only reason to watch this film though. The film starts off quite promising. A ninja assassination (hah) that is rather bloody and ruthless. Heads fly, bloods spurts and iron flies through the air. But then the plot starts and things start to slip real fast. The performances are weak, the characters are drab and the drama is pretty lame. The entire middle part of the film is pretty much negligible. It just runs through the motions and spends a lot of time setting up the finale. Luckily it ends with some fine action scenes. The editing and camera work may not be up to par, but at least it's graphic and over-the-top. Decent, but not great.

17. 2.5* - Bastaard by Mathieu Mortelmans (2019)
A simple thriller. A little too simple really, as it's almost impossible to build up tension when the plot is so by the numbers that you can pretty much map the entire film out from the very start. Mortelmans doesn't make it easy on himself by sticking so closely to conventions and doesn't add enough as a director to make his film stand out. He does get the basics right though. The performances are decent, even though it's mostly the younger actors who leave an impression. Visually it's decent but nothing too spectacular, the same goes for the soundtrack, though kudos for including some actual, normal rave music for the party scene, even when it's some 25 year old classic. The middle part was too uneventful and predictable to hold my attention, luckily the ending does have a few surprises in store. Not the actual plot twists, but the way they are delivered does deserve some recognition. It isn't enough to fully redeem the film, but at least it gives the impression that Mortelmans can do better when given time to grow.

18. 2.5* - Cannonball Wedlock [Konzen Tokkyû] by Kôji Maeda (2011)
A somewhat comical take on the pressure society puts on getting wedded. A woman sets out to find her ideal partner, but she has a hard time finding anyone suitable. All her potential candidates turn out unworthy, and when the least likely of the bunch manages to dump/insult her, all she cares for is revenge. The premise is promising enough, but the film doesn't really deliver. It's supposed to be a comedy and the situations offer plenty of potential for gags or snark, but Maeda makes poor use of them. The characters themselves aren't very likeable either, making the more dramatic second half moot. Visually the film looks a bit drab, performances are a bit disappointing too and the soundtrack doesn't really add much either. There are some decent moments and at least it was interesting to see how the film panned out, but this wasn't as good as I hoped it would be. I don't think I'll be giving Maeda's other films priority.

19. 2.5* - The Gambling Ghost [Hong Fu Qi Tian] by Clifton Ko (1991)
Sammo Hung times three. Don't expect too much action though, this is a Clifton Ko flick and Hung was hired for his comedic abilities. Sadly they're not quite as good as his action skills. While not a terrible film, it's not one of Ko's highlights and will appeal to fans of Hong Kong comedy only. Hung plays a loser who turns to gambling to make it big. He's not very successful though and quickly squanders the little money he has. His grandfather, a deceased master gambler, takes pity on him and returns as a ghost to help his grandson. While things runs smoothly for a while, it doesn't take long before their little scheme is uncovered. Hong Kong comedy is loud and zany and Ko's films are no exception. The soundtrack is pretty bad and the direction quite sloppy, but the story is goofy enough and there are some decent jokes scattered throughout. The ending is also a bit more action-packed, which suits Hung better. Not a great film, but okay filler.

20. 2.0* - Björk! by Tita von Hardenberg, Hannes Rossacher (2015)
A decent but rather simplistic Björk documentary. I quite like her as an artist and there are some of her songs I really appreciate, though not everything she does is my cup of tea. I figured it would be interesting to watch this documentary, in the hope of learning something more about the person, as well as the artist. The structure is really basic, as it simply follows the chronological events in Björk's career. Her rise from small, budding artist to fashion icon, performance artist and singer/producer is properly documented, but it's hardly unique or noteworthy. There are a select few people who comment on Björk's work as an artist, but most of those interviews offer little value. It's still nice to get a concise overview of Björk's career, the documentary doesn't drag things out and offers a nice peak into the phenomenon that is this little Icelandic artist. But unless you've never heard of her before (or you're an immense fanboy that simply has to watch everything related to her), it's not a must-see.

21. 2.0* - Crime Hunter by Toshimichi Okawa (1989)
A pretty simplistic action flick. The runtime is quite short, mostly because there's hardly any plot to speak of. The setup is extremely basic, after a short introduction the film jumps right into the action and doesn't really let down until the credits start rolling. If you want some firework filler, this film might be a decent bet. I say "might", because the execution is pretty flaky too. Performances are dire and the film looks very cheap. Not much time was spent on the cinematography and I wouldn't be surprised if the soundtrack was made up from leftovers. If you're in the mood for something cinematic, don't watch this. The only redeeming quality of Crime Hunter are the actual action scenes. Not that they're genre stand-outs, but they do deliver. Some heavy firepower, lots of loud noise and a few thrilling moments make this film semi-watchable. I wouldn't actively recommend the film, but if you're in the mood for something short, light and action-packed, there are worse options.

22. 1.5* - Matangi/Maya/M.I.A by Steve Loveridge (2018)
A pretty plain documentary on the woman behind M.I.A. I'm familiar with her music and even though I'm not really into pop, her style is quite different from the norm, which has resulted in some interesting tracks. M.I.A. is best known for using her career as a political platform though, which is what this film focuses on primarily. The problem is that I don't really care about artists using their platform for politics. I'm fine with music, I'm fine with politics, but very few people are experts in both. It's no doubt admirable that she wants to make our world a better place, but there are people better suited and positioned to do that. The doc itself is pretty standard. We get some footage of the time she wasn't famous yet, we get to see her rise as a star and the way the media reacts to her political statements. There's also some parts that explore Matangi's roots and the political situation of her home country, but it all fails to make an impression.

23. 1.5* - FP2: Beats of Rage by Jason Trost (2018)
Mad Max meets Dance Dance Revolution. If that sounds like an extremely unlikely combination, it's because this isn't the most professional of films. It truly feels a lot like a fanboy project. In all fairness though, these are some very dedicated fans, as the people behind this project already made a first film back in 2011. The problem is that post-apocalyptic sci-fi isn't the easiest genre to do on a budget. It's no surprise then that it's all played for laughs, but the film isn't really funny enough to make that work. A lot of time and effort was spent on creating a futuristic world, but it never felt genuine or anything more than a Sunday afternoon project. The dance scenes are incredibly lame, the actors are bland and the plot isn't very interesting. 80s references galore, but we've seen that done before too. What remains is genuine effort and enthusiasm. And in some ways it works too, but it's simply not enough to turn this into an enjoyable film.

24. 1.0* - Clear and Present Danger by Phillip Noyce (1994)
Harrison Ford as a 90s Jack Ryan isn't the most appealing sales pitch for a movie, but this was a pretty big box office hit back in the day. I have no idea why though, because it's a really bland and stale B-flick, made with an excessive budget. The worst part is, that excessive budget doesn't even show. Ford isn't really suited to play Jack Ryan and these 90s action/thrillers haven't aged very well either. The action lacks adrenaline, the thriller elements aren't all that exciting and the only thing more over the top than the cheesy patriotism is the runtime of the film. They could've at least cut an hour without losing anything substantial. At least the finale is slightly better than the rest, but you have to wait more than two hours to get there. The secondary cast is pretty poor too and Noyce's direction feels completely uninspired. A very forgettable and poorly executed film, let's hope time will bury this kind of nonsense, so future generations will be spared.

25. 0.5* - Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked by Mike Mitchell (2011)
The kind of film where I'm pretty certain they came up with the pun first and only then built an entire film around it. This film is called "chipwrecked", so the chipmunks end up on a deserted island. Why? Who knows? I guess they just needed something to fill another 90 minutes of film. Part three in the series is so lazy they hardly bothered to conceal the fact it's just a cash cow for them. The plot is completely nonsensical and ill-fitting, but kids love a good bounty hunt, so that's what we're getting here. Throw in some terrible pop songs in true chipmunk style and that's basically it. The comedy is painfully unfunny, the characters are rehashed once again (there's only 1 new addition, and she's terrible too) and the music is just insulting. I'm clearly not the target audience for this franchise, even then one can expect a basic level of quality. Wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be an experiment just to see how blunt they could be without turning away people from the franchise. As there's also a fourth part, I think we haven't hit rock bottom just yet.

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#5

Post by sol » July 12th, 2020, 2:55 pm

peeptoad wrote:
July 12th, 2020, 1:47 pm
hi sol

I've seen a few of yours and honestly have no strong opinion really about any of them-

Junior (1985) 4
The Red Violin (1998) 7
Spy Kids (2001) seen it but not rated- maybe 6-7?
Crimes of the Future (1970) 5
Ocean's Eleven (2001) 7
Hiya peeps. You rating for Junior seems about right. There have been some very funny films made about attempted murder (think A Fish Called Wanda) but this Canuck comedy unfortunately was not one of them. The way he harassed his victims was a little too grueling for me to laugh about it whenever they repeatedly intervened and stopped him. I would say your rating for Spy Kids is pretty fair too. Lots of great sets and images, silly as it may be. The Red Violin is probably your own rating that I would call generous, but then again, it was hard to enter this one objectively since I spent much of the time going "no way is the music that good that it should have led to Thomas Newman being shafted". Oh well.

If you've only seen them once, your ratings pretty much match how I originally rated Crimes of the Future and Ocean's Eleven. Luckily, they both stack up better to rewatch. The Cronenberg film certainly feels amateurish with its low budget shining through, but the ideas, gee, there is so much precursory stuff for Shivers, Rabid, Videodrome and so on that I definitely liked the film the second and third time round. It also gets super creepy towards the end, though I did leave confused this time about what Cronenberg was trying to say with regards to human sexuality. And Ocean's Eleven, that's a film that crept up more and more in my estimation with every viewing. The dialogue is amazing and all thirteen protagonists are amazingly well drawn. It does sort take the two sequels to properly develop the entire crew, but even in the first film it is easy to appreciate the friendship and camaraderie. Rarely as a heist crew ever been so three dimensional and human. Plus, of course, the film looks AMAZING with all of Soderbergh's supersaturated colours.

Yours:

Only seen Martyrs, which we already discussed. :ermm: I was considering watching The Tall Man this month, but I couldn't work out in the end whether it was Canadian enough to count for the Official Challenge. Had not actually heard of Incident in a Ghostland before, but looked it up and it sounds intriguing. Hated Daises at the time, but probably should rewatch that and more Chytilová at some stage.
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#6

Post by sol » July 12th, 2020, 2:57 pm

Onderhond wrote:
July 12th, 2020, 2:53 pm
25. 0.5* - Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked by Mike Mitchell (2011)
But of course, the question that we are all on edge to find out is whether this one is better than The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as well. :D
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#7

Post by Onderhond » July 12th, 2020, 3:16 pm

It's shorter, so yes, very much so :D

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#8

Post by Lakigigar » July 12th, 2020, 7:50 pm

40. Mother! (2017) - 1/10
41. Never Goin' Back (2018) - 7/10
42. Shiki-Jitsu (2000) - 10/10
43. Anchiporuno (2016) - 7/10
44. The Purge (2013) - 6/10

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#9

Post by prodigalgodson » July 12th, 2020, 8:55 pm

Behemoth (Zhao Liang, 2015) 8/10 - thanks to the forum's list of 2010s films for the rec!

Industry devastates nature, human and otherwise, in this dream-parable somewhere near the intersection of Wang Bing and Herzog (in Fata Morgana/Lessons of Darkness/Wild Blue Yonder mode). Strictly for the aesthetes -- I think shallowness is the best way to describe the shortcomings of Zhao's approach to his subject matter (the human interest element feels shoehorned in, like it should've been either further downplayed or more intensive; the Dante parallel is overstated), and its environmental message is about as sophisticated as The Lorax -- but it regularly offers some of the best imagery I've seen anywhere in the digital age. Great finale too.

Chain Letters (Mark Rappaport, 1985) 7/10

This has a great look, between the rich film stock and Rappaport's most polished aesthetic, featuring such novelties as multiple locations and set decoration. Other than that, he's doing his thing: variations on sexuality, paranoia, and violence, with some great moments of character interaction -- his narrative films feel something like postmodern Hawks -- but minus a point for the uncharacteristically trite cliche of a climax.

Private Screenings (Mark Rappaport, 2017) 5/10

The peculiar thrill of private screenings and their rendering in film provides the basis for this self-consciously slight video essay. This matter-of-fact presentation of elements that are obvious when watching the highlighted films is my least favorite mode of Rappaport; all he brings to the table analytically is noting a penchant for certain agressions, and to a lesser extent nostalgia, as the connective tissue between these clips. There is a spectacular and poignant moment of mono no aware as regards film screenings and the medium itself, featuring clips of Contempt and Vivre sa vie. All of these essays have hints of a digital elegy to the format of film; an expansion on that theme could have potential to be a new Rappaport classic.

The Nun (Jacques Rivette, 1966) 8/10

Visually my favorite Rivette so far -- from what I've seen so far only his debut short presages this kind of classical beauty, the symmetrical compositions and gliding camera offset by a more avant garde editing scheme. Several aesthetic choices also seem to reinforce the psychological experience of the forcibly cloistered titular nun: the detachment suggested by the cool blue tilt of the color balance and the claustrophobic interiors; the whiplash, extended to the viewer, of being constantly thrust unwittingly into the midst of decontextualized scenes; the increased presence of outdoor settings in the more "liberated" convent and beyond. The structure of the narrative (compacted along the lines of Bresson or Huillet/Straub), with its recurring ebb and flow of hope and horror, also seems to reflect the ritualized tedium of cloistered life. And despite dragging at times, especially during the more monotonous first half, the stripped-down approach to plot keeps it generally moving at a brisk clip. It's not quite groundbreaking stuff, with an especially pat ending, but it has some lucid things to say about the worldly's tendency to overwhelm the sacred, the corrupting effects of individual egos on institutions, the grace needed to abide an unjust world, and the role luck and circumstance play in determining our fates.

Tati vs. Bresson: The Gag (Mark Rappaport, 2016) 7/10

A funky little free-form passion project it's hard not to love. Tough to synopsize, but basically a brief history of/paean to some highlights of the use of sound in film, jumping off from similar sonic "gags" in Mon oncle and Au hasard Balthazar, the directors of which are paired off (picked from a group of five famous French filmmakers appearing together in a photograph at a 1954 awards ceremony) because of a common perfectionism and prioritization in regards to their soundtracks. If its structural logic sounds confusing, well, suffice it to say I'd love to get my hands on whatever Rappaport's smoking. But it's a fun, if way too short, ride, and unlike some of his other late period work it sheds new light on details I hadn't noticed or had taken for granted in the selected films. Maybe more auditorily inclined folks would find this just as obvious as I criticized a couple of his other contemporary video essays for being; in any case it makes me want to keep a more analytic ear out for sound in films.

Sergei/Sir Gay (Mark Rappaport, 2017) 7/10

Rappaport gives Eisenstein the Hudson treatment (the title refers to the Russian's pen name as a teenage cartoonist), with digressions to provide something of an art house part 2 to Color Me Lavender. It fizzles out a bit at the end after a lengthy section on his obsession with two collaborators, but Sir Gay's pornographic sketches and a couple musical sections alone put it well above the average video essay.

L'annee derniere a Dachau (Mark Rappaport, 2020) 7/10

An appropriately dreamlike foray into the making of Last Year at Marienbad, with actress Francoise Spira's 8mm behind-the-scenes footage (narrated by Volker Schlondorff) catalyzing a discussion of the career paths of her collaborators (especially Delphine Seyrig), a speculative mishmash of Marienbad and Paths of Glory (shot at the same location a few years apart), and a reflection on that monumental location's proximity to Dachau, touching on the representation of concentration camps in film (of course coming full circle to Resnais' earlier Night and Fog). Powerful, insightful, if unsurprisingly scattershot stuff -- gotta love when Rappaport turns his sights from Hollywood to the kind of films I find more personally inspiring.

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#10

Post by peeptoad » July 14th, 2020, 1:26 pm

sol wrote:
July 12th, 2020, 2:55 pm
peeptoad wrote:
July 12th, 2020, 1:47 pm
hi sol

I've seen a few of yours and honestly have no strong opinion really about any of them-

Junior (1985) 4
The Red Violin (1998) 7
Spy Kids (2001) seen it but not rated- maybe 6-7?
Crimes of the Future (1970) 5
Ocean's Eleven (2001) 7
Hiya peeps. You rating for Junior seems about right. There have been some very funny films made about attempted murder (think A Fish Called Wanda) but this Canuck comedy unfortunately was not one of them. The way he harassed his victims was a little too grueling for me to laugh about it whenever they repeatedly intervened and stopped him. I would say your rating for Spy Kids is pretty fair too. Lots of great sets and images, silly as it may be. The Red Violin is probably your own rating that I would call generous, but then again, it was hard to enter this one objectively since I spent much of the time going "no way is the music that good that it should have led to Thomas Newman being shafted". Oh well.

If you've only seen them once, your ratings pretty much match how I originally rated Crimes of the Future and Ocean's Eleven. Luckily, they both stack up better to rewatch. The Cronenberg film certainly feels amateurish with its low budget shining through, but the ideas, gee, there is so much precursory stuff for Shivers, Rabid, Videodrome and so on that I definitely liked the film the second and third time round. It also gets super creepy towards the end, though I did leave confused this time about what Cronenberg was trying to say with regards to human sexuality. And Ocean's Eleven, that's a film that crept up more and more in my estimation with every viewing. The dialogue is amazing and all thirteen protagonists are amazingly well drawn. It does sort take the two sequels to properly develop the entire crew, but even in the first film it is easy to appreciate the friendship and camaraderie. Rarely as a heist crew ever been so three dimensional and human. Plus, of course, the film looks AMAZING with all of Soderbergh's supersaturated colours.

Yours:

Only seen Martyrs, which we already discussed. :ermm: I was considering watching The Tall Man this month, but I couldn't work out in the end whether it was Canadian enough to count for the Official Challenge. Had not actually heard of Incident in a Ghostland before, but looked it up and it sounds intriguing. Hated Daises at the time, but probably should rewatch that and more Chytilová at some stage.
this reply is unconscionably late, but these days are far busier than I'd like them to be...
Ghostland was okay. Turns out that I'm not a huge fan of Laugier (didn't care for House of Voices when I saw it years ago, and then just ran his other 3, with Martyrs being best), but both Ghost and Tall Man had some interesting elements going for them. I preferred Tall Man, partly because it was not at all what I expected it to be and what it was was more interesting than what I had anticipated. Still just above average for me...

I loved Daisies (though it's not a fav), but it's not my favorite Chytilová so far. It's probably my 3rd fav though. Maybe dont' bother with Fruit of Paradise if you didn't care for the Daisies. It's got some stylistic similarities, though different in tone and content. Vlci bouda is def my favorite of hers so far, but it doesn't even have a dvd release AFAIK. It has a nice sense, of mystery and eccentricity (of sorts) plus the sci fi aspect. I also quite liked a Bag of Fleas and Traps (latter plays more on Chytilová 's comedic style and hits the mark, mostly, for me).

As for Crimes of the Future and Ocean's 11: the former I've seen only once (awhile ago) and the latter I've seen about 6 or 7 times now. It had a higher rewatch rating on my 2-3rd views as opposed to now. I got a little weary of it over the years and the stylistic aspects that I appreciated on its initial release no longer seem novel and unique to me. Thusly, it dropped from ~8 to a 7, probably a 7+ actually.

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#11

Post by joachimt » July 14th, 2020, 7:20 pm

Joker (2019, 12 official lists, 9367 checks) 9/10
Watched because it's a must-see available on Amazon Prime.
Dorogoy tsenoy AKA The Horse That Cried (1957, 1 official list, 47 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's in WC 2E.
Heaven Knows What (2014, 1 official list, 494 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
It Follows (2014, 4 official lists, 9034 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI (maybe not completely random, because I actually had it on my watchlist).
Lilting (2014, 1 official list, 329 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Wendy and Lucy (2008, 4 official lists, 2600 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
How to Use Your Coconuts (2001, 0 official lists, 8 checks) 6/10
Watched because someone added it to MM and I had to check it.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015, 1 official list, 1811 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Virus Tropical (2017, 1 official list, 81 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Chupke Chupke (1975, 1 official list, 507 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Eden (2014, 1 official list, 374 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Lamhe AKA Moments (1991, 1 official list, 276 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Prime.
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#12

Post by prodigalgodson » July 17th, 2020, 4:28 am

Better late than never.

sol
Picture of Light 10 - watched this this week, and damn, what an incredible experience; maybe the closest thing I've seen to the mode of filmmaking I'm interested in pursuing
Alita: Battle Angel 5 - easy to disparage, a bit of interest; I don't know about quite a bit ;)
Ocean's 11/12/13 5/6/7 - thought these got successively more fun as they went

pda
Edge of Tomorrow 4 - surprised not to like it
Arrival 5 - heh
The Rebel - haven't seen this one, I should fill in my Oshima gaps
Shame 5 - liked some of the shots
Why Passivity Breeds Mediocrity and Mental Illness - YouTube's algorithm sent this one my way

toad
Portrait of a Lady on Fire 9 - haven't seen anything else from Sciamma, but this is the only digital project I've seen that rivals film for classical beauty, in addition to its emotional potency; what an ending!
Bakery Girl of Monceau 8 - underrated
Suzanne's Career 8 - underrated

hond
seen none unfortunately; House of Voices sounds interesting

gig
mother! 6 - unsatisfying but I like films that capture the feeling of a dream, which this did for me

jt
Joker 8 - yeah, pretty great stuff
Wendy and Lucy - keep meaning to watch this

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#13

Post by sol » July 17th, 2020, 5:12 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 4:28 am
sol
Picture of Light 10 - watched this this week, and damn, what an incredible experience; maybe the closest thing I've seen to the mode of filmmaking I'm interested in pursuing
Alita: Battle Angel 5 - easy to disparage, a bit of interest; I don't know about quite a bit ;)
Ocean's 11/12/13 5/6/7 - thought these got successively more fun as they went
Definitely re: Picture of Light. Quite a transcendental film experience with the director debating whether natural phenomena should ever be captured on film during his attempts to do just that.

Alita: Battle Angel was better than I could have ever expected. It's not a great film, but the initial trailers made it a hard pass for me and something that I thought I would dislike, so it was a nice surprise. Plus, I'm a sucker for personal identity tales and father/daughter relationships, so it was a bit hard for me not to like it.

I would probably agree about the Ocean's films becoming more fun with each entry - though I still prefer the first to the second film. Never to mind, when you have watched them all as often I have, they will all be aces in your books, lol. I guess what I love so much about the films though is not just a cast and crew clearly having a great time, but how beautiful all three films look. I have seen very few films with colours so rich and beautiful. Many shots in each of the three films feel equivalent to staring at paintings on art gallery walls.

Yours:

Seen none. I suppose the Tati vs Bresson film sounds the most interesting because they are not directors who immediately spring to mind as readily comparable.
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