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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 30, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 30, 2020

#1

Post by sol » July 26th, 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

Undertow (1949). Framed for murder, an ex-gambler places his trust in an old friend and a schoolteacher he is romancing as he tries to prove his innocence in this noir entry. The film is mostly noted nowadays for Rock Hudson's first credited role and William Castle at the helm; Hudson's part is brief though and minus the gimmicks that made his later stuff stand out, Castle's direction is flat and dull. There are some nifty shots towards the end in very dark corridors, but for a film with such a generic 'wrong man' plot, there is too much emphasis on dialogue over mood and atmosphere. The romance is oddly handled too, with the teacher initially so dedicated to her job but later willing to drop everything. The initial scenes of her learning to gamble are pretty decent though, and with the protagonist's background, it feels odd that gambling isn't a big part of the plot. (first viewing, online) ★

13 Ghosts (1960). Inheriting a haunted house, a financially strapped family tries to live in harmony with their ghosts in this William Castle movie. As usual for Castle, 13 Ghosts was released with a gimmick; in this case, a special viewer that allowed audience members to choose whether or not they saw the ghosts in certain blue-tinted scenes. Watched without the special viewer, the blue scenes are actually kind of eerie with the ghosts 'appearing' in vibrant red, but the blue scenes aside, there is not a lot to write home about. The gee-gosh boy in the family is a real nuisance, the rest of the characters are dull and the answer to what is really going on is hinted at way too early in. The film does have a pretty nifty séance scene though and William Castle's introduction is a lot of fun, but this comes across as relying far too much on its gimmick for effect. (first viewing, online) ★★

Mr. Sardonicus (1961). An eminent physician is called to cure a reclusive Baron's hideous facial affliction in this William Castle horror movie. The film is slow to warm up with it not revealed until halfway in how his face became disfigured. The explanation flashback sequence is incredibly well done and atmospheric though, and the second half of the film evolves into a potent look at ethics and those driven to extremes in desperation. That said, the first half of the movie is never boring if slow-moving. There is enough weirdness in the Baron's refusal to take off his mask, and his use of leeches, that there is seldom a dull moment. Guy Rolfe is also remarkably sympathetic as the Baron, no matter his cruelty, with a haunting final shot. The film additionally benefits from Castle's gimmick this time barely intruding in on the narrative, which works fine without it. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Crooklyn (1994). Growing up in a poverty-stricken Brooklyn with four brothers, no sisters and a male name, a young girl navigates a complex world of constant harassment in this coming-of-age tale written by Spike Lee and his siblings. Known for making movies with bitter, angry and unsubtle agendas, Crooklyn is a nice change of pace for Lee and almost verges on being a comedy at times. If a tad too meandering, it is a frequently heartwarming film with Zelda Harris simply adorable in the lead role despite some antisocial behaviour; in between her tantrums and mood swings, there are several great moments of her family laughing and sharing good times together. Lee also applies many neat cinematic tricks, from upside down characters, to blue hue nightmares, to squashing the screen - though the latter technique is more distracting than it is effective. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Fear of the Dark (2003). More afraid of the dark than most kids his age, an adolescent boy begins seeing things during a power outage when home alone with his older brother; things take a grim turn when the older brother starts seeing things too in this Canadian horror film. If well acted, the film is slow to get started with much time spent on the older brother belittling his sibling, but everything becomes extremely dynamic once both of them become scared. Are we merely seeing a folie à deux a la William Friedkin's Bug, or is something really out there? The film maintains a nice ambiguity regarding this conundrum throughout, and there are some effective spooky moments with the limited lighting used well. The movie does not exactly have a lot going for it beyond the "are they both imagining it or not?" premise, but this passes the time fine. (first viewing, online) ★★

Monkey Warfare (2006). Making a living by scouring garage sales for collectables and antiques to resell for profit, the lifestyle of two former revolutionaries is challenged when they meet a young woman selling pot for reasons unknown in this quirky Canadian feature. While the plot takes a while to ignite (with the revelation of what their new pot dealer is up to), Nadia Litz is excellent in the role and the dynamics between the three main characters simmer. As one of the once-revolutionaries turned scavenger, Don McKeller waxes poetic about the Black Panthers and counterculture while at the same time rambling on about the very capitalist pleasures of finding "junk" to sell for a profit. The film ends on a bit on anticlimactic note, but this is a pretty nifty film about values changing over time and having sympathy for causes without wanting to take action. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Bikini Girls on Ice (2009). Very literally titled, this Canadian horror film involves a bunch of a bikini-clad college students stalked at an abandoned gas station by a maniac who preserves his victims' bodies on ice. The killer's motivations are unclear though, his back-story is never properly explained, and while William Jarand looks the part, it is a very one-note role. The film also missteps by making most of deaths happen off-screen and without the heavy gore or creative kills of the 1980s slasher cycle that seems to have inspired the project, there is very little driving it. The characters are a little better than average, reaching beyond simple stereotypes, and the film is even rather engaging to begin with as the girls frivolously go about their business while we wait for the killer to strike. Once the killer gets to work, however, everything begins to feel awfully generic. (first viewing, online) ★

A Little Bit Zombie (2012). Titled with a double meaning, this Canadian comedy involves a human resources manager who becomes a little bit of a zombie after a little bite from a mosquito carrying zombie blood. The film brings little new to the table with its zombie mythology and certain laughs feel overly familiar given the plethora of zombie comedies out there. The project is assembled with an incredible amount of energy though and bits and pieces are highly imaginative. Most notable is a dream/nightmare in the style of a 1950s sitcom, but then there is also a scene-stealing George Buza as an exotic meat salesman who the protagonist and his friends encounter as they try to satisfy his hunger. The film also offers some zany bridezilla satire, while Kristopher Turner is excellent in the lead role, trying to keep calm and in control as only a HR worker would do. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Berkshire County (2014). Renamed Tormented in some places, this Canadian home invasion thriller involves a bullied babysitter who finally finds the courage to stand up for herself when her life is in mortal danger. While the metaphor is obvious and unsubtle and the ending is weak with too much left unresolved, this is thrilling and suspenseful while it lasts. The antagonists' Halloween masks are appropriately creepy and the architecture of the home is cool with all of the endless extra rooms making it more eerie during the invasion since they could be nearly anywhere. While the plot is less clever and twisted, this bears a very similar vibe to You're Next with so much in the way of atmosphere and a very strong female lead. It is too bad that we know so little about the motives of the home invaders here because everything else works so well. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Dead on Campus (2014). Far from the college-set slasher that the title and various promotional posters promise, this is mostly a film about moral fibre and tough choices as the narrative revolves around a mean-spirited prank gone awry and a female student too afraid to admit her involvement despite guilt gnawing away inside. While the whole thing sometimes feels like a soap opera episode with some of its melodramatic plot turns, it is all quite watchable when one gets over the fact that this is not going to be a horror film. There is actually a decent dose of psychological terror with a film offering an acute thing or two to say about absolute power corrupting and the gullibility of college freshmen by older students who systematically abuse the pull that they have over them. The acting is fairly decent too and if cut short, a key romance feels genuine and real. (first viewing, online) ★★

Separation Anxiety (2014). Separated from her boyfriend for the first time in years, a young woman begins to suspect that she is being stalked, but could it all just be in her mind? As one might expect with a premise like that, this is an acute portrait of heightened paranoia. The scenes of her being stalked are well done with the figures barely visible, and there is much creepiness in how the stalker seems to be able to teleport - or could there be more than one stalker? While the film provides its answers a little soon (several minutes before the protagonist catches on), this is generally solid while it lasts. The movie often feels like a living, breathing nightmare with some great otherworldly shots in which the characters are illuminated by neon signs and lights. The ending is a little flat, but with everything that is revealed, the film leaves plenty to ponder. (first viewing, online) ★★★

End of Days, Inc. (2015). If intriguing, the title arguably a bit reveals too much as the plot here concerns a group of office workers who discover the sinister true purposes of the mysterious boxes they sort through at work during a farewell party. The set-up is deliciously satirical with the employees' jobs being so mindless that they never stopped to think what they were doing. Anna Ferguson and Paulino Nunes are also very creepy as their bosses with much weirdness such as making their employees play 'Duck Duck Goose' during the party. The film nevertheless falls apart towards the end, concluding on more of a 'huh?' rather than a bang. The resolution also comes about too easily and conveniently and the humour varies in effectiveness. Still, while this may have played out better as a drama, it is also so offbeat and daringly different that it is hard to pass up. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Rise of the Trolls (2016). Internet trolling in the subject of this fascinating Canadian documentary that tracks the history of the online behaviour from the chat forums of the mid-1990s to the Twittersphere. Among those interviewed are various victims of trolling, a woman genuinely remorseful of her drunken death threats that landed her in prison, an anonymous man proud to be called a troll, and a psychiatrist who has studied the trolling phenomenon. The most intriguing of these is the proud troll who talks about how boring the world is, how entertaining it is to provoke others online, and how he believes that online users need to leave their real life personality behind when cruising the internet. The voiceover narration varies a lot in effectiveness, sometimes sounding preachy, but with such an intriguing topic, there is not a boring moment to be had here. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Devil in the Dark (2017). Two brothers try to mend their fractured relationship during a hunting trip, only for one to become convinced that something supernatural is stalking them in this Canadian horror film. The project is quite atmospheric and even rather spooky at times with some haunting overhead shots of the trees of the isolated woods set to music similar to Jóhann Jóhannsson's Sicario score. This atmosphere is, however, often broken up with flashbacks and conversations between the brothers talking about their differences, and it is not really until the final quarter of the movie that anything definitely horror-like occurs. It is easy to admire the ambition here, using horror as a metaphor for the siblings' strained relationship, but with the way everything plays out, the horror feels like an afterthought and a distraction from the brothers connecting. (first viewing, online) ★

Rodney King (2017). Considering that it is a filmed live performance of a one person show, this is a surprisingly riveting and heartbreaking motion picture. While credited as only playing the titular African American victim of police brutality, Roger Guenveur Smith actually plays every single role here, effectively altering his voice and using microphone bang sound effects to capture a cross-section of the American community and their reactions to King. Was he a mere troublemaker or an important advocate? Regardless of one's opinion, the film always reflects on the fact that King was still a human being. Some nicely captured stage lighting and a clever bit of split screening aside, the project is not exactly visually impressive considering that Spike Lee was behind the camera, but the whole thing feels more informative without Lee's trademark pizzazz. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Selfie from Hell (2018). Burdened by a silly title, it is not surprising that Selfie from Hell opened to mostly negative reviews, but it is actually a decent motion picture about the dangers of the dark web, giving out personal details online and modern technology literally invading one's life. While the protagonist makes a few foolish decisions online, the mystery at hand is riveting and the film is very atmospheric, shot in low lighting with often just the glow of the screen illuminating the face of the lead actress. There is also some great philosophising about fear being the "most intense feeling" out there. The film loses its way a bit towards the end by going more down more of a supernatural rather than grisly realistic path - something that makes the likes of The Den and Unfriended: Dark Web far superior films, but this is a nifty thriller while it lasts. (first viewing, online) ★★★

OtherShow
Firebird 2015 AD (1981). Set in a future in which petrol and privately owned cars have been outlawed due to dwindling natural resources, this dire dystopia movie focuses on a bunch of rev-heads who flaunt the law and spend all their time drag racing and evading the police. The idea of banning petrol is intriguing - doubly so due to environmental factors - and the resentment in the air is curious since the rev-heads see driving as a basic human right. It is, however, always hard to get behind the protagonists' love of driving since all that they do with their cars is fool around. A far more fascinating film could have been made by concentrating on citizens who need to drive for survival - or maybe for an emergency. Some of the action here (including exploding cars) is quite decent, but for something with such satirical potential, this just feels like a whole lot of car racing. (first viewing, online) ★

The Pink Chiquitas (1987). Exposed to radiation from a fallen meteorite, the women of a small town turn into nymphomaniacs in this Canuck sex comedy that is just as lame as it sounds. The premise leaves a wealth of unanswered questions, some of which may be best left unanswered, and the comedy varies significantly in effectiveness. At its best, the film is darkly comic. The second scene (at a drive-in movie theatre) is excellent with much black comedy from the patrons who are either too engrossed in the movie - or pashing one another - to realise that a shootout is going on around them. At its weakest, the film is goofy and childish with silly wordplay jokes, a bumbling deputy sheriff and something seriously wrong with John Hemphill's eyebrows. The film does though try to be quirky with zany costumes and an even zanier glowing meteorite. (first viewing, online) ★

The Long Weekend (1994). Staying at a cabin on an isolated island for a long weekend getaway, a family is terrorised by the cabin owner after he becomes obsessed with the couple's daughter in this thriller that is never quite as lurid as it sounds. It is over a quarter of the way in before the cabin owner begins to get obsessive, and working with a low budget, the film is a more a collection of cat-and-mouse moments than a series of grisly attacks and counterattacks. The filmmakers actually drum up a fair bit of suspense though and Frank Savage is well cast as the antagonist who unsettlingly varies from almost sane to rather maniacal from scene to scene, even promising to give a five minute head start at one point! Less successful are the film's attempt to develop its characters and make it a tale of stepdaughter and stepmother bonding, but this is not half-bad. (first viewing, online) ★★

Warriors of Terror (2006). Animal activists raid the premises of a bio-tech company suspected of performing cruel experiments on animals in the name of cancer research, but instead find a mutant girl who feeds on human blood in this Canadian horror film. There are a few nifty ideas in the mix, from the girl being the result of cancer research performed on human rather than animal subjects, to the activists getting a comeuppance for trespassing, to the idea of feeding on healthy human organs as a grisly possible medical cure. All of this intellectual potential is, however, squandered on a very simple thriller plot where the protagonists are hunted down by an unrelenting killer. The low lighting and limited sets also make it a bit difficult to focus on the images and none of the characters are really likeable or better developed than an average slasher victim. (first viewing, online) ★

A Zebra for Sally (2008). Possessed by the spirit of a young woman who died in the house she now occupies, an indie filmmaker contemplates whether or not to have the spirit exorcised (since the dead woman just seems lonely) in this brief feature from Canada. This is curious as a different sort of possession movie with seemingly no vengeful or malicious spirit; the film also gets a few spooky images from the fact that the dead woman's spirit can only be perceived if others stare into the pupils of her eye, and the filmmakers play around a lot with strong green, pink and red lighting filters. Alas, with no real conflict or any sense of urgency there is not much at all driving the film. Both the protagonist and the spirit are pretty bland characters too, and while the film does acquire some direction towards the end, it is pretty much a case of too little too late here. (first viewing, online) ★

The Corrupted (2010). Planning to spend the weekend drinking and partying at a lakeside cabin in outskirts Alberta, a group of young adults are unsettled by one their friend's increasingly bizarre behaviour in this low budget horror film. It all begins well with much mysteriousness in his odd actions, plus the occasional streak of quirky comedy (bears with botulism!) in between the friends debating life choices. The practical effects work quite well too because we are only given small glimpses with most left up to the imagination. Alas, when the horror aspects of the film begin to take off, the film quickly goes downhill. There is nothing especially new or novel in the friends trying to take down certain affected individuals while unsure of who has been "corrupted". The final couple of scenes feel particularly generic for what seemed like a fresh take on the genre. (first viewing, online) ★

Singularity Principle (2013). Interrogated by a mysterious government agent, a physics researcher contemplates what might have happened to his mentor who strangely vanished in this movie about parallel universes and inter-dimensional travel. The film's big sell-point is that it was written and directed by an actual experimental physicist, thus its postulations have scientific foundation. The narrative is less interesting than the science though. The film shies over why the government agency is so interested in parallel universes (to what end?) while introducing romantic subplots that only distract from the science. The flashback structure takes away the immediacy of the action too. Still, there are some neat moments as the protagonist flips uncontrollably between dimensions, and his inability to keep track of which universe he is in opens a curious can of worms. (first viewing, online) ★★

Project Eugenics (2015). Assorted individuals react to a global pandemic in this ultra low Budget Canadian film that went under the radar but which has real relevancy in Covid-19 times with talk about "not trusting mainstream media" regarding the disease and its origins. As an unabashed horror film, this sits clearly on the side of the conspiracy theorists with a scientist character responsible for manufacturing the virus with eerily similar Covid-19 symptoms. The film also far overplays the pandemic horrors, with the victims snarling like beasts and lunging at the camera, which makes this a lot less realistic for a film that tries to be a stern warning for pandemic dangers. Add in some second-rate acting, and it is hard not to wish that this was actually more about eugenics (the stuff of Gattaca) rather than the zombie apocalypse-like tale that it is instead. (first viewing, online) ★

The Pineville Heist (2016). Canada's answer to Die Hard (well, almost), this action thriller has a high school student and teacher climbing through air conditioning vents and walking around barefoot as they ward off a bank robber set on retrieving his loot that the teenager thoughtlessly stole and stashed at school. The high school setting is excellent, though this has nothing on The Guest when it comes to making a school a labyrinthine place of terror. A number of twists and turns are also easy to see coming with it often feeling as if we are one or two steps ahead of the characters rather than invested in the immediacy of the action. The film's attempts to be a strained father/son relationship movie frankly feel strained too - pun intended. And yet, there is seldom a dull moment to be had with ample thrills and chills once the pair get locked in the school. (first viewing, online) ★
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#2

Post by Onderhond » July 26th, 2020, 12:15 pm

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Had a pretty solid week, with almost no bad films and quite a few happy surprises at the top. Was also delighted to see the new Toyoda online on its first day of release (yay online film festivals), review follows next week. The only real bummer was Gerwig's Little Women, I rarely agree with the Academy, but that best director snub was well deserved.


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01. The Isle [Seom] by Kim Ki-duk (2000)
Ki-duk's breakthrough film may have aged gracefully, it has aged nonetheless. While not his best work, the intrigue and poetry mixed with ruthless characters and dark emotions would come to define the rest of his career, and that appeal is still very much there. The Isle is the perfect introduction for those who want to dig into Ki-duk's oeuvre.

02. 3.5* - Archive by Gavin Rothery (2020)
Fine sci-fi that offers a pretty straight-forward and familiar story, but impresses with its execution. The plot offers nothing new and hardcore sci-fi fans will feel right at home among the themes and subjects that Archive raises, luckily Rothery keeps a tight focus and doesn't let his film stray from genre territory. Black Mirror fans may be disappointed not more time is spent on social critique, drama and dystopian concepts, I'm glad there's finally light on the end of the tunnel, and we seem to be moving away from that type of sci-fi again. Archive is good old-fashioned genre fun, where you're allowed to oggle at all the robots and tech. There are a few nods to Ghost in the Shell here (the making of a robot sequence more specifically), apart from that Archive tries hard to build its own universe. It does a good job at that too, with strong cinematography, a fine soundtrack and solid performances. While it lacks something truly unique and it's no certified masterpiece, it's a much better sci-fi that most make it out to be.

03. 3.5* - Polder by Julian M. Grünthal, Samuel Schwarz (2015)
An odd, but enjoyable mess. Polder is a weird mix of Swiss and Japanese culture (due to the interest of writer/director Samuel Schwarz I assume, as the connection is never properly explained). An intriguing match-up and the sole reason I was drawn to this film, luckily that's not all Polder has to offer. The story is going to be a challenge to keep up with and I think most people will need multiple viewings to get all the finer details. I know I will. The structure is disorienting by design, but you can easily ignore all the weird reveals and simply enjoy the film for its atmosphere, as Schwarz and Grünthal made that a clear priority. The cinematography, editing and score are all pretty intriguing, but they're not quite edgy enough to carry the film. It lacks the grit, craziness and cool of the films (and other cultural elements) it's trying to reference, which keeps Polder from becoming a masterpiece itself. But if you like odd, unique and perplexing films, it's definitely worth a try.

04. 3.5* - The Beach House by Jeffrey A. Brown (2019)
A small and inconspicuous looking horror film that starts off somewhat tepid and doubty, but builds up surprisingly well. The first 30 minutes are quite slow and the actors aren't really A-grade, which doesn't muster up too much confidence in the rest of the film, but stick with it and you might be surprised. There's a feeling of dread from the very beginning, but because of the slow start it never feels like it's going to materialize into something tangible. That quickly changes once the film starts revealing its true nature during the middle part. Things get weird really fast and because the intro didn't reveal anything of note, you'll be struggling to keep up. Brown really drives up the tension during the second half and keeps it alive until the very end. A mix of sci-fi, body horror and nature's revenge blends together to create a very creepy and disorienting atmosphere. Actors are pushed to the background and what remains is a moody and freaky horror film. Pretty good.

05. 3.5* - The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky [Fugainai Boku wa Sora wo Mita] by Yuki Tanada (2012)
Interesting drama that starts off pretty well, but begins to wander the moment it tries to juggle too many characters and plot lines. There's a lot of drama that needs to be covered, a lot of characters that are dealing with issues of their own, and I feel a tighter focus might've done the film some good. Tanada's direction is frank and to the point, but not as refined as I'd hoped. A little extra attention to the camera work and soundtrack could've helped to create a bigger dramatic impact. While the film doesn't look cheap or uninviting, the styling is pretty functional and by the numbers. Performances are great though and there is definitely some interesting drama to dig through, I just had a little trouble with the shifting focus of the narrative, that often abandons characters for long stretches of time. A solid film that is sure to please fans of Japanese drama, but a little too uneven to be truly great.

06. 3.5* - Snowy Love Fall in Spring [Haru no Yuki] by Isao Yukisada (2005)
Yukisada is best known for making contemporary drama/romance cinema, but 2005 was the year that he wanted to do something different. Year One in the North and Snowy Love Fall in Spring are two films that feature a more historic setting. While not Yukisada's biggest strength, Snowy Love Fall in Spring is clearly the better of the two. The film takes a while to get up to speed, which isn't too surprising considering the rather uptight and formal early 20th century setting. It's not really an ideal era for sprawling romance, but the second half makes up for that, when the story finally takes a turn for the tragic and Yukisada feels visibly more at ease. Performances are strong, with Tsumabuki sticking out in a stand-out role. The rest of the cast is good too, but not quite as notable. The cinematography is classic but refined, the same can be said about the soundtrack. The film's a bit long-winding and the intro a bit long, apart from that this was a fine romantic tragedy.

07. 3.0* - Thunderdome Never Dies by Ted Alkemade, Vera Holland (2019)
Not sure how well this documentary will travel, but if you have an interest in the harder styles of dance music (or you've actually lived through the whole Thunderdome era) it's definitely worth a watch. Production values are pretty high and while the structure is very classic, there's a disarming honesty that gives it some extra flair. Hardcore still isn't socially accepted, in the sense that you still won't hear any of it on the radio, even though the style is 30 years old. It's not that uncommon for a culture that's mostly associated with young people and rebellion, all the weirder to see a bunch of old dudes fronting this documentary. But even young and reckless people grow old, and they started all this after all. It's a very nice, compact but comprehensive recount of the way Thunderdome came to be. The interviewees talk candidly about the early days, their failures, the sudden successes and the cultural impact of the label and the parties. There's nothing new here for most oldskool fans, but it's still a very cool trip down memory lane nonetheless. And sporting a killer soundtrack of course.

08. 3.0* - Attraction [Prityazhenie] by Fedor Bondarchuk (2017)
Russian sci-fi meets young adult. It's a weird premise, but the film is actually better than it sounds. The sci-fi elements were well executed and the young adult romance isn't quite as pervasive or juvenile as usually the case in the American counterparts. The result is a film that entertains. The first twenty minutes or so are quite impressive, with an alien spaceship crashing down in Moscow (while causing quite a bit of destruction). The film slows down after that and focuses on a human/alien bond that is used extensively to provide some (critical) comments on the human race. Performances are decent, the effects and designs look impressive, the cinematography is modern and snappy and the score is fitting, though a little too poppy at times. It's nice to see Russia isn't skimping on making big budget genre cinema. It's a bit long though and Bondarchuk can't match the impressive beginning, but I'm looking forward to the sequel.

09. 3.0* - The Rental by Dave Franco (2020)
A decent thriller that does pretty much everything right, but still fails to make a real impression. It's a little hard to pinpoint where exactly Franco could've done better, it's probably a bit of everything. In the end though, I was never on the egde of my seat, nor did I ever experience the tension this film was so eagerly chasing. Two couples go to a secluded vacation home to spend the weekend. It's a simple premise and Franco doesn't do a lot to spruce it up. Instead, he goes for a slow but deliberate build-up that gradually reveals what tricks are being played. It's a tried and tested setup and it works well enough, except that the payoff just isn't that thrilling. And the little twist at the end isn't as disturbing as it is presented. Performances are decent but though out of the ordinary. The cinematography is clean and slick, but not quite tense enough. The same can be said about the soundtrack. It's a nice bit of filler and it never gets dull or bland, in the end it just fails to stand out from all its peers and since this genre has been done to death already, that's a little disappointing.

10. 3.0* - Legend by Brian Helgeland (2015)
A solid but typical crime film. Tom Hardy takes on the roles of Ron and Reggie Kray, two infamous London crime lords who established themselves during the 60s. Helgeland doesn't really stray too far away from the beaten path, delivering a fairly simple rise and fall story that starts off rather quirky and fun, but turns more dramatic towards the end. Hardy does a good job, though at times it feels like he's trying too hard to differentiate between the two brothers. Browning is decent too, but she fails to make a real impression. Luckily the secondary cast is on point, with fine actors like Paul Anderson and David Thewlis providing the necessary support. The first hour is by far the most interesting, with small nods to Ritchie that help to brighten the mood. 135 minutes is a bit long though and once the inevitable fall starts, the film begins to lose some of its appeal. It's definitely not a bad option when you're in the mood for some crime cinema, just don't expect anything extraordinary.

11. 3.0* - Inferno of Torture [Tokugawa Irezumi-shi: Seme Jigoku] by Teruo Ishii (1969)
A classic Teruo Ishii feature. Torture and tattoos, featured in equal measures. Ishii made a name for himself directing films with rather taboo subjects and Inferno of Torture fits the bill. The nice thing is that Ishii is actually a rather gifted director, so his films are never truly cheap or sleazy. The film highlights the "industry" of tattooed virgins and a professional feud between two tattoo masters, as they try to come up with the most unique tattoo set on the fairest skin. The contrast between their skill and aristry and the abuse of their human canvases is pretty effective and keeps the film interesting. Performances are decent but a little overdone, the cinematography is nice though and aptly captures the beauty of the tattoos. It's a pretty impressive spectacle, though it probably should've been a little shorter as the story isn't really beefy enough to support the 90-minute runtime.

12. 2.5* - The Space Between Us by Peter Chelsom (2017)
A teen romance with some sci-fi bits tacked on to make things a little more interesting. Whether effective really depends on one's ability to go along with the romance, personally I didn't think it worked all that well. While Chelsom's film is promising in places, the overall impression is one of missed potential. The story revolves around the first boy born on Mars, somewhat of a medical mishap that wasn't supposed to happen. He is awfully lonely there and all he wants is to go back to Earth. Sadly his body isn't built to survive Earth's gravity. Sounds very sci-fi, but that's just the setup, so don't expect too much of it. The bulk of the film is set on Earth and is little more than a young adult romance story. While the cinematography is decent, the soundtrack is a little disappointing and the actors aren't all that convincing either. Not even Oldman manages to make a good impression. I had better hopes for this one, but it wasn't terrible either.

13. 2.5* - The Son [El Hijo] by Sebastián Schindel (2019)
Argentinian thriller that turned out to be a little too predictable for its own good. Director Schindel tries to spice things up by messing around with the chronology of the narrative, the problem is that it's too transparent and it takes away some of the tension. Not really what you want from a good thriller. The setup is nice enough. A painter and his wife are trying really hard to get a child, but when luck is finally on their side, the mom gets extremely protective of her newborn. That's the story of the painter at least, after he gets apprehended by the police for hitting his wife. Of course the film is keeping those pivotal scenes to itself until late in the second half. Performances are decent but nothing exceptional. The cinematography isn't anything special either and a thriller could really use a better soundtrack. The film is short and the pacing is decent, it never really drags either, but without tangible tension it just isn't a great success. Simple filler.

14. 2.5* - The New Shaolin Boxers [Cai Li Fa Xiao Zi] by Cheh Chang, Wu Ma (1976)
It's a mix of the old and the new, but ultimately little more than basic Cheh Chang filler. The training sequences really feel like classic Chang, but the setting is a bit more modern. Not exactly contemporary, but clearly not the rural, historical setting we usually see in the Shaw Bros films. There's plenty of martial arts action in New Shaolin Boxers, which is always a plus. The synchronized training sequences in particular jump out, but the fights themselves are nicely choreographed too. Add to that some familiar faces and most Cheng/Shaw Bros fans will have plenty to look forward to. The romance and bits of drama in between though are of much lower quality, and slow the film down. Like many of Chang's films, the middle part drags a little, luckily it's a short film and it doesn't take too long before the finale kicks in. A pretty typical Cheh Chang film in other words, not bad, but not all that remarkable either.

15. 2.0* - NiNoKuni [Ni no Kuni] by Yoshiyuki Momose (2019)
I waited with this film until I finished the first game, it turns out that wasn't necessary at all as the link between both is pretty much nonexistent. The film takes the general concept of the games (two interconnected worlds) and builds its own story on top of that. A promising premise, but the execution falters. The first game was animated by Ghibli, which gave it plenty of charm. The film feels like a cheap imitation. The animation itself is rather poor, the art style lacks detail and looks flat. It comes of as extremely generic, which is a bit surprising considering the studio behind it proved its worth with Modest Heroes just a year earlier. The plot is also very basic, run-of-the-mill JRPG stuff that struggled to hold my attention. The characters are rather generic and the runtime is a little too long, especially considering how predictable everything is. It was nice to see some minor references to the game, but this should've been a lot better. Pretty disappointing.

16. 2.0* - Backdraft by Ron Howard (1991)
Ron Howard's ode to the firefighters, Hollywood-style. That means you can expect some pretty big and expensive action scenes, mixed with some very cringeworthy drama. Sadly the balance is a little off and the wait between the action set pieces is a little too long to keep the film interesting. Performances are quite poor, with Kurt Russell and William Baldwin playing two bickering brothers. Russell is the older brother, while Baldwin is a fresh recruit that joins the firefighter squad. This doesn't sit well with Russell etc. It's all very predictable and with a cast of second grade actors it doesn't make much of an impression. But at least the fires are impressive and Howard does a decent job milking these scenes for adrenaline. There just aren't enough of them and the film runs 140 minutes long, which is ridiculous for a simple story like this. It's all supposed to be very epic and heroic, but it would've been a lot better if someone had realized this is really just cheesy action flick material.

17. 1.0* - Little Women by Greta Gerwig (2019)
I'm not familiar with the book and only saw the '94 remake, of which I remember virtually nothing. After seeing Gerwig's version, I find comfort in the idea that I'll have forgotten all about this version too in just a few days. What a lifeless, dull and uninspired remake, a film that feels completely lost in 2019. The story about four young women growing up after the American Civil War was once revolutionary, nowadays it feels dated and stuffy. Gerwig's attempt to infuse the story with a bit more girl power by focusing on the Jo character doesn't really work, probably because the rest of the film remains incredibly old-fashioned. Gerwig's direction is poor, performances are mediocre across the board and there's no reason this story should've been dragged out to span 135 minutes, especially because the focus mostly rests on just one character anyway. There was a lot of hype surrounding this film, not a clue what that was about. This was corny, tired and outdated.

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Lilarcor
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#3

Post by Lilarcor » July 26th, 2020, 12:59 pm

Not seen any of those films sol, although I am curious to check out Rodney King.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989)
For a Miyazaki film this tugged less at my heartstrings than usual, but it was a delightful watch and great light entertainment. The cat is almost a bit too cute and steals every scene, to the point it was hard for my fiancée to follow the story. We were also very distracted by the fact that the film is heavily inspired by Stockholm (where I currently live) yet features many different languages on shop signs etc. 8/10

Disco (Jorunn Myklebust Syversen, 2019)
Syversen’s debut Hoggeren was a real favorite for me when it came out in 2017, and this film about Jesus camps is a great second film. Clearly a Norwegian director with a promising future! Josefine Frida Pettersen (from the Norwegian version of Skam) is very convincing as an innocent perfect daughter of a family that has begun their own “modern” Christian sect. The ambiguous nature of the film is great to capture how such sects pull people in. 7/10

The BLVD (Deborah Stratman, 1999)
Although by no means a pretty or even professionally made film due to its use of DV-camera, this documentary on illegal street drag racing in Chicago has a unique quality to it. It truly captures the year 1999 as it was eerily well, and the DV quality adds to the rambling, disjointed nature of the film that – while messy – comes together to something beautiful. Not sure how to describe this beauty, but I think Stratman manages to see the people and a social space that is deemed by some as destructive as something which has value to it and means a lot to people – from the ex-racer mechanic eagerly telling tall tales about his past wild days to the car with girls just chilling out and having fun parked on the side of the street. Too small perhaps of a film to give it a really high score, but I continue to adore Stratman as a filmmaker, becoming one of my all-time favourites. 7/10

Lemonade (Beyoncè, 2016)
A great visual album that goes above and beyond expectations, if one base it off the cookie-cutter and pop-music convenient feminism of her earlier career. While she has always been a powerful voice for black women all around the world in terms of representation, the years around 2016 and onwards showed a woman daring to speak more freely and committing to developing her own artistic voice to present issues in a new way. While six directors are credited, it is definitely an “auteur” work by Beyoncè which is both quite serious and introspective but also cool as a cat (especially the post-credit Louisiana sequence), dealing with heartbreak, US history and present. While sharing some similarities in terms of aesthetics, Beyoncè certainly made Terence Malick look quite ridiculous this year as The Voyage of Time was quite awful. 7/10

The Girls (Mai Zetterling, 1968)
A classic in Swedish film history that presents rather directly humiliation that women might face from privileged men in high positions. Sounds serious, but it is a rebellious comedy that fights against and points out issues with patriarchal traditions – sprinkled with mocking the (often higher class) audiences and their passive nature. 7/10

Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972)
Musical of the kind where people are not singing to each other, but rather to the audience, leaving plenty of unsung scenes in dimly-lit Berlin apartments. Set in the Weimar Republic in 1931, we are welcomed into a world in which Nazism is on the rise made obvious by loud singing in beer gardens but otherwise not really delved into seriously. Liza Minnelli takes a lot of the attention here, but I am slightly disturbed by her father overseeing designing her costumes for this, making her look part child prodigy part bondage queen. Perhaps the most interesting part of the film is the silent queer moments involving the blandest looking Englishman. 6/10

Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream (Frank Beauvais, 2019)
Raw, personal film essay by a man who watched over 400 films between April and October 2016 to deal with a breakup in near isolation. Consists entirely of shots from other films, most made kind of hard to identify due to lack of faces, shown without sound as the voiceover goes through how this period was for him. Although I am only at a pace of one film per day and have only rarely been above that, it was still something that hit close to home.
Michael Sicinski’s review opens with the question “Is cinephilia healthy?” and I feel like Frank Beauvais leaves the answer to this question open in this film. I find this kind of optimistic in the sense that films were there “for him” in times of his life when he needed them and a passive space in which it is okay to do nothing for a while. At the same time consuming many films can possibly become something too comfortable to lean on in bad times if one does not fight to get on with things. Certainly a film that leaves a mark. 8/10

Palm Springs (Max Barbakow, 2020)
Andy Samberg and Cristin Miloti have fun in a Groundhog Day type film set at a wedding day. Fun, light entertainment. 6/10

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#4

Post by peeptoad » July 26th, 2020, 12:59 pm

I've only seen 1 of yours this week, sol: Mr. Sardonicus, which I rated an 8. 13 Ghosts is on my watch list. I imagine you did a Castle run, with Undertow on there also. Castle has done some interesting stuff. My favorite might be Sardonicus, but I'd have to go and look. Homicidal was pretty good too.

I saw 2 director runs last week, Arrabal and Hou. I'm finished with Arrabal's filmography now and Viva la muerte is easily his best film imo. I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse was pretty solid, and I could take or leave the rest.
Hou seems interesting (and like he had an interesting life experience), but I am probably not going to delver further into his films in the near future. A Time to Live and a Time to Die was the best of the 3 I watched and it did have some very emotional moments that seemed truly real in tone and content. Stylistically, the film didn't really draw me in as much especially compared to some of the other Chinese and Taiwanese directors I've been exploring lately. Having said that The Assassin did have some some neat, though rather subtle, qualities that helped create a deeper experience for me in some of the scenes (e.g. the application and removal of gauze over the camera lens in one). The style and some of the finer qualities in this film were so understated that I found it difficult to pick up on them at times.
Hopefully I can get one more director in before the end of the month: one of Bunuel. Almodovar, or Ruiz I think...

The Emperor of Peru (1982) 5
Le cimetière des voitures (1983) Car Cemetery 7
Adieu, Babylone! (1993) Farewell, Babylon! 5
Tóngnián wangshì (1985) A Time to Live and a Time to Die 7+
Liàn liàn fengchén (1986) Dust in the Wind 6
Ci ke Nie Yin Niang (2015) The Assassin 7
Polar (2019) 6

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sol
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#5

Post by sol » July 26th, 2020, 1:54 pm

Lilarcor wrote:
July 26th, 2020, 12:59 pm
Not seen any of those films sol, although I am curious to check out Rodney King.
Spike Lee's Rodney King is streaming on Netflix at the moment. It's quite brief (less than an hour long), so I would definitely recommend checking it out if you get the chance. RGS has never been better.

Yours:

Kiki's Delivery Service is my least favourite Miyazaki film. It's been a while, but I recall finding the lead character rather 'meh'. <_<

Wow, is that a first-time viewing of Cabaret? If so, I would say that was a bigger viewing gap than The Birds. ;) Haven't seen Cabaret in a few years, but it is a film that I have liked more and more with repeat viewings. The editing is absolutely exquisite with Fosse inserting the briefest of cutaways to Nazi atrocities in and around the cabaret performances. Definitely one of the most striking films about the rise of Nazism that I can recall due to the way it so heavily features in the backdrop while still allowing a seemingly unconnected tale to breathe. The other cool thing about Cabaret is that it inspired a variety of very decent exploitation films such as Salon Kitty.

peeptoad wrote:
July 26th, 2020, 12:59 pm
I've only seen 1 of yours this week, sol: Mr. Sardonicus, which I rated an 8. 13 Ghosts is on my watch list. I imagine you did a Castle run, with Undertow on there also. Castle has done some interesting stuff. My favorite might be Sardonicus, but I'd have to go and look. Homicidal was pretty good too.
Yeah, I am in the middle of a William Castle run at the moment. I wanted to knock off 13 Ghosts and Mr. Sardonicus since they were my two biggest gaps in Castle's filmography.

I wish I could say that 13 Ghosts was worth it, but watched within a day of Sardonicus, there is simply no comparison. Your rating for Sardonicus sounds fair; it is an excellent film with oodles of atmosphere, a chilling ending and a story that survives beyond its gimmick, whereas 13 Ghosts has little to offer beyond its gimmick.

Regarding my William Castle run, I thought I would knock off some of his early career noir efforts too since most of them are Official Checks. Undertow was pretty horrible though. I still have at least one more left that I want to see before posting my Castle run on flavo's thread, but unless I totally love it, I think I will cap my Castle run at four films.

As for the question of William Castle's best film, that's easily the darkly comic Shanks for my money. Great film. I would give Sardonicus second place.

Unfortunately, I have seen none of your viewings this week. I know Polar is streaming on Netflix and I usually wouldn't pass on a Mads Mikkelsen film, but this looked really ho-hum. :shrug:
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#6

Post by Lilarcor » July 26th, 2020, 2:46 pm

sol wrote:
July 26th, 2020, 1:54 pm
Wow, is that a first-time viewing of Cabaret? If so, I would say that was a bigger viewing gap than The Birds. ;) Haven't seen Cabaret in a few years, but it is a film that I have liked more and more with repeat viewings. The editing is absolutely exquisite with Fosse inserting the briefest of cutaways to Nazi atrocities in and around the cabaret performances. Definitely one of the most striking films about the rise of Nazism that I can recall due to the way it so heavily features in the backdrop while still allowing a seemingly unconnected tale to breathe. The other cool thing about Cabaret is that it inspired a variety of very decent exploitation films such as Salon Kitty.
Indeed it is a first watch! Bob Fosse is a blindspot for me, as is many musicals post 1930s, so I will have to check out more of his and other later musicals. Respectfully disagree about the editing, although technically well done I feel the Nazi stuff is much too on the nose and superficial in the way that it is baked into the cabaret. Perhaps it would hit harder if the Nazi stuff was made subtler until the very end, making us as an audience more complicit in the lack of resistance or ignorance shown by the love triangle. Joel Grey does "resist" with his final performance, but this is immediately followed by a carefree Liza Minnelli finale, so I don't feel like the film knows what it wants to leave the audience with. The editing outside of the cabaret lacks a rhythm or energy to it, these sequences dragged quite a lot for me. Part of the issue here for me is that it rests too much on these people's faces playing characters that are not that interesting / appealing to follow. By no means a bad film though, certainly has memorable moments.

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#7

Post by prodigalgodson » July 26th, 2020, 7:02 pm

Another slow week for me.

Made in U.S.A (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966) 3/10

I associate a certain sloppiness with early Godard, despite the considered compositions and allowing for the haphazard editing, and I think a big part of it is that so many of his flashier set pieces (eg a tracking shot through a gym here) come off so stiff and inorganic compared to, say, this film's dedicatees "Nick and Samuel". I know many of the people who champion the former demonize the later, but between the namedropping and the genre pastiche, Godard's worst instincts feel like subpar Tarantino. Obviously he was doing this kind of thing years before pretty much every student film, but that's not to say he was doing it well. Watching her play this politically but not morally astute femme fatale, it also dawned on me that Anna Karina's not much of an actor; heavily telegraphed eye movements punctuating self-conscious soliloquies only go so far, and she basically functions only as a model for the camera and mouthpiece for the auteur's ideas. Overall, this is stuck in a meaningless place between a movie and a deconstruction of that movie, and it's a drag. On the plus side, there's a fun little barroom conversation about language and relativism near the beginning, a cool walk through a moving tapestry of gigantic film promo art, and I do find the abrupt muting and resuming of the orchestral score -- a technique the director's found continual use for in his career -- to be effective (less so the slapdash overlay of the music). Its lazily interpolated intellectual Marxist bent is the film's most interesting aspect, and I think Godard made the right call in subsequently abandoning American genre spoofs to go down his own abstract political rabbithole.

The End of Time (Peter Mettler, 2012) 4/10

Surprisingly wasn't feeling this one. I definitely started off on the wrong foot -- physicists philosophizing is a long-standing pet peeve, and the notion that nature evolved humans as a means of self-consciousness, which seemed intriguing in a Herzog documentary when I was in high school, now seems like the height of scientific hubris. But going from there I found the editing rushed, the sound overproduced, the compositions, as often as they were stunning, largely too pristine and symmetrical, and the interviewees uninspiring. I dug some of the Detroit material, but found it an odd inclusion. This lack of focus, which works so well in some of Mettler's other documentaries, feels detrimental within this more conventional structure. I'm still not sure to what the title refers -- one balloonist's experience of time appearing to have stopped when he entered orbit? or the future death of the sun, as discussed at one point? At its best it's more than solid though: the lava flows are awesome and the finale's sublime. One Belsonesque sequence is legitimately hypnotic, and reading a Dostoevsky passage about time over a visual homage to Tarkovsky, the filmmaker most associated with the concept of time, goes a long way toward alleviating the intellectual vacuity of much that proceeds.

Away (Peter Mettler, 2007) 7/10

Mettler gets away from technology in this three-minute video...or does he?

For Ever Mozart (Jean-Luc Godard, 1996) 7/10

“It’s what I like, in general, in cinema: a saturation of glorious signs, bathing in the light of their absent explanation.”

I didn't do this justice by watching it piecemeal, but a neat watch nonetheless. A wintry film, visually and thematically, a melancholy retrospective from an ostensibly over-the-hill artist who turned out to have much of his best work still ahead of him. Godard here is close to mastering the shot selection for his fragmented narrative style that for my money only achieved full realization in the 21st century. In addition to being one of his most aesthetically pleasant films, it's full of surprisingly transparent insights into his process. Mozart turning page after page over the credits is epic.

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#8

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » July 26th, 2020, 8:22 pm

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恋も忘れて / Forget Love for Now 清水宏/Hiroshi Shimizu, 1937 4

अदि शंकराचार्य / Adi Shankaracharya / The Philosopher / The First Teacher Sankara G.V. Iyer, 1983 8-

Půlnoc / Midnight Klára Tasovská, 2010 7
to the stars aboveShow
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Senna Asif Kapadia, 2010 (2nd viewing)

告白 / Confessions 中島哲也/Tetsuya Nakashima, 2010 (2nd viewing)

Hail, Caesar! the Coens, 2016 (2nd viewing)

Bad Lieutenant Abel Ferrara, 1992 (4th viewing) 8+

Yakona Anlo Sepulveda & Paul Collins, 2014 9-
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shorts

directed by Jon Rafman :
Neon Parallel 1996 2015 9-
You, the World and I 2010 6
Still Life (Betamale) 2013 7
A Man Digging 2013 7
SHADOWBANNED 2018 6
Erysichthon 2015 7-

朝の夢 / See You In My Dreams (aka Morning Dreams) 池添俊/Shun Ikezoe, 2019 6

Schnittstelle Harun Farocki, 1995 7

Zwei Wege Harun Farocki, 1966 6

Compline Nathaniel Dorsky, 2009 6

Zillertal Jürgen Reble, 1991 6

Bande-Ambiance Long-métrage “Pellicular” Julien Lahmi, c. 2017

Mon Etoile, Mon Amour Julien Lahmi, c.2018

Ball of Bees #1 David Lynch, 2020 5

Pen Point Percussion Norman McLaren, 1951 6

Lines: Vertical Evelyn Lambart & Norman McLaren, 1960 (rewatch?) 7

Brüder, lasst uns lustig sein Ulrich Seidl, 2006 (rewatch) 6

To the Happy Few Thomas Draschan & Stella Friedrichs, 2003 (2nd viewing) 7

Reasons to be Glad Jeffrey Noyes Scher, 1980 (2nd+ viewing) 7

Der Rabe Kurt Steinwendner , 1951 (2nd viewing) 8

Deep Sleep Basma Alsharif, 2014 (2nd viewing) 6


series

Supersense John Downer, 1988
ep1: "Sixth Sense" 8; ep2: "Seeing Sense" 7; ep3: "Sound Sense" 7, ep4: "Super Scents" 7; ep5: "Sense of Timing" 7

Amazing Stories - S01E01 - "Ghost Train" Steven Spielberg, 1985 2+

Boogiepop Phantom - Ep2 - "Yami no hi" 2000 (2nd viewing)


other

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1213 - Dr. Andrew Weil 2018 7-

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1050 - Shawn Baker 2017 6-

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1511 - Oliver Stone 2020 7

12 Oz Mouse 2 eps


didn't finish

The Spook Who Sat by the Door (Ivan Dixon, 1973) [30 min]
Eko eko azaraku / Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (Shimako Sato, 1995) [8 min]
In a Valley of Violence (Ti West, 2016) [8 min]
Godzilla 3D Gareth Edwards, 2014 (would-be rewatch) [lots]


notable online media

top:
Brain-Dead Teen, Only Capable Of Rolling Eyes And Texting, To Be Euthanized [rewatch]
What Is David Working on Today? 7/25/20 - The Jar
ZIM ZAM "Road" | adult swim smalls
rest:
[YT channel "PowerfulJRE" (JRE Toon)]
[The Joe Rogan Experience with some Andrew Huberman and with some Guy Ritchie]


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LETTERBOXD | MUBI | IMDb | tumblr.

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#9

Post by Onderhond » July 27th, 2020, 9:15 am

sol:
Haven't seen a single one of yours, don't think that has ever happened before. You're a bit too wrapped up in the IMDb low-score challenge I'm afraid :D

Lilarcor:
Liked Kiki (4.0*) a lot, but it's not one of my favorite Miyazaki films either. Really need to see it again because it's been a while, but I remember it being very charming (yes, including the cat). I've also seen Cabaret (1.5*), of which I liked the actual cabaret scenes, not so much the drama in between. Seems like a perfect film for a Baz Luhrman remake.

prodigalgodson:
Nothing from yours either I'm afraid.

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#10

Post by sol » July 27th, 2020, 9:34 am

Onderhond wrote:
July 27th, 2020, 9:15 am
sol:
Haven't seen a single one of yours, don't think that has ever happened before. You're a bit too wrapped up in the IMDb low-score challenge I'm afraid :D
Yeah, I also don't know if that has ever happened before. It's okay; I only have another five days of watching low-rated Canadian comedies and horror films before August 1 will return me to "normality". It's okay; a big horror fan, I am really enjoying this stint - far more so than back when I watching countless western comedies.

I don't know what I would recommend you from my viewings this week. Maybe Selfie from Hell if you like The Den and the two Unfriended films. It is a very stylish and atmospheric film. Then again, it has a negative view of technology, which I know is one of your pet hates.

Maybe Berkshire County? Not sure how big you are into home invasion films, but this is one of the better entries that I have seen and it is likewise fairly moody and stylish.

Of yours this week, the only film that I have seen is Gerwig's Little Women. While I wouldn't rate it anywhere near as low as you do, I agree that it was nothing special. The flipping back and forth in time irked me in particular. It is, however, the only version of Little Women that have seen and I have never read the book, and most of the film's supporters seemed to praise how much of a deflection it was from how the tale had been presented before. Of course, that meant that the film did absolutely nothing for someone in my position.
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#11

Post by Onderhond » July 27th, 2020, 9:43 am

sol wrote:
July 27th, 2020, 9:34 am
I don't know what I would recommend you from my viewings this week. Maybe Selfie from Hell if you like The Den and the two Unfriended films. It is a very stylish and atmospheric film. Then again, it has a negative view of technology, which I know is one of your pet hates.
I'm not so bothered with that when it's horror. I mean, negativity is inherent to the genre and these kinds of films weren't made to be taken seriously. It bothers me more with films that present it like something thought-provoking. I liked The Den, not a big fan of the first Unfriended, but sounds fun enough :)
sol wrote:
July 27th, 2020, 9:34 am
Maybe Berkshire County? Not sure how big you are into home invasion films, but this is one of the better entries that I have seen and it is likewise fairly moody and stylish.
Definitely willing to give this a chance. Watched Audrey Cummings' more recent films earlier this year and she's a talented director.
sol wrote:
July 27th, 2020, 9:34 am
Of yours this week, the only film that I have seen is Gerwig's Little Women. While I wouldn't rate it anywhere near as low as you do, I agree that it was nothing special. The flipping back and forth in time irked me in particular. It is, however, the only version of Little Women that have seen and I have never read the book, and most of the film's supporters seemed to praise how much of a deflection it was from how the tale had been presented before. Of course, that meant that the film did absolutely nothing for someone in my position.
The time jumps didn't irk me as such (I've only seen the '94 version, never read the book) but they didn't add much either. My girlfriend is a much bigger fan of the material, but she got a little annoyed by the forced "girl power/independent women" angle that was introduced here. It's so obvious and basic that it even drew some yawns from here. She called it her least favorite version so far. To me, it just felt extremely outdated, regardless of the "yay, women!" message.

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#12

Post by prodigalgodson » July 28th, 2020, 8:54 pm

Yalls' (where is everyone?):

sol
seen none :( the troll doc and the Rodney King performance sound interesting

hond
The Isle - that screenshot looks up my alley; I've enjoyed the handful of Kim's I've seen, I'll have to get around to this
Little Women 7 - enjoyed it a lot, especially the little meta twist, but I agree the direction is shockingly poor, can't believe people were upset Gerwig wasn't nominated

cor
Cabaret 6 - well done, but not really my cup of tea; dug All That Jazz recently though, so maybe it's up for another go

toad
A Time to Live and a Time to Die 8 - loved it at the time, but recall nothing about it, which is unusual for me and unique among this filmography; definitely due for a rewatch
Dust in the Wind 9 - Hou's first great film for my money, beautiful tragic stuff, and I usually don't dig teen romance stories
The Assassin 9 - a second viewing really synched this for me, I always love when my favorite artsy filmmakers tackle genre flicks
re: Hou, might be worth watching something of his from the 90s? it's a lot different than his early and late period work; A City of Sadness (89) and Flowers from Shanghai (98) are my favorites

pda
Hail, Caesar! 6 - remember some great moments, but didn't make a strong impression overall
Bad Lieutenant 5 - oof so grubby; hard to evaluate, Ferrara's nuts
Compline - have wanted to see a Dorsky for years; maybe he'll cave and make his stuff available digitally now, though I regret missing a couple chances to see some of his work on film

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peeptoad
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#13

Post by peeptoad » July 29th, 2020, 9:22 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 8:54 pm
re: Hou, might be worth watching something of his from the 90s? it's a lot different than his early and late period work; A City of Sadness (89) and Flowers from Shanghai (98) are my favorites
Thanks, I'll keep that in mind...

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Onderhond
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#14

Post by Onderhond » July 29th, 2020, 10:18 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 8:54 pm
hond
The Isle - that screenshot looks up my alley; I've enjoyed the handful of Kim's I've seen, I'll have to get around to this
Little Women 7 - enjoyed it a lot, especially the little meta twist, but I agree the direction is shockingly poor, can't believe people were upset Gerwig wasn't nominated
Re: The Isle, that's pretty much ideal then. It's not one of those films you'd recommend to people who haven't seen anything by Ki-duk yet, but once you have a taste for his work, it's pretty high up there as recommends go.

As for Little Women, I think the whole Gerwig snub thing was mostly a symbolic discussion rather than one about quality.

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sol
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#15

Post by sol » July 29th, 2020, 1:00 pm

prodigalgodson wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 8:54 pm
sol
seen none :( the troll doc and the Rodney King performance sound interesting
Rise of the Trolls is a great documentary and I think a lot of users on this forum would appreciate its insight into internet behaviour - though perhaps not so much on this specific forum since our admin are pretty good here with keeping trolling behaviour at bay. A fascinating psychological piece though, and easily found online if you're curious about watching it.

Yours:

My memories of Made in U.S.A. have blurred with the dozen or so other Godard films that I saw at around the same time years and years ago. I have it down as a subpar effort from him and I could dig up my old review, but I remember precious little specific to it. And I am aiming to watch For Ever Mozart for next month's Swiss Challenge.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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