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filmbantha
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#201

Post by filmbantha »

St. Gloede wrote: February 3rd, 2021, 4:31 pm 3 more nominees seen:

Jonaki (2018, Aditya Vikram Sengupta)

Jonaki very much captures the feeling of a wasteland, a unique world crumbling on top of itself, disappearing - my mind drifts to Sukorov, and his more experimental work. The visuals are beautiful, but also a little vacant. 

I will say though, that there is a resonating conflict, revealed at the end, that does make what we have seen come together more than you'd originally think. At face value this is a world where people turn into trees, and fruit covers corridors. The poetic exit does centre the film a little more, and offers a key.

At the same time, while I was swept up in its beauty, I don't think it held itself together as well as it should - mixing contemplation/poetry - with the odd, minimalist almost reverse-Tetsuo vibe. I simply did not find this seemingly central theme or its execution that satisfying - though it is at all times an enjoyable film, and, with its conclusion comes together quite well. 7/10 (2)



Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway (2019, Miguel Llansó)

Filmbantha sold this as a "genre film", and I think that is selling it short. Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is clearly a future cult movie phenomenon - as bizarre and off-beat as it is playful and fun - complete with video game/simulation tie-ins giving the impression of a retro-Matrix/World on a Wire - but with the camp value turned up to 1000 - with silly crumbled avatars, brought acting and plotting - and a lot of charisma.

Daniel Tadesse carries the film wonderfully, teaming up with Llansó once again after Crubs (he really needs to be in more films) and showcases wonderful charisma and a presence we rarely see. Camp of this kind is usually not my cup of tea, but the silliness and camp value genuinely work really well - and you laugh/smile along, even if some elements may just be a little too silly. The tone and atmosphere is just that good. A film that just makes you happy, complete with a great ending. 7/10 (2)
Really pleased to see some more support for Jonaki and Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway! Love your write ups, hopefully they will encourage others to check out these wonderful films. Did you visit www.jonakithefilm.com after watching it? It helped my appreciation for the film grow when I read more about the Director's intentions, adding meaning to some of the more obtuse scenes in the film.

I watched I Think We're Alone Now last night which was an unusually restrained post-apocalyptic film about a lone survivor whose life is thrown into turmoil when he encounters another survivor. Peter Dinklage is on top form here as the misanthropic librarian who has comfortably settled into his new role of tending to the town in which he was once an outsider. The early scenes are reminiscent of I Am Legend (the novel) albeit without the hordes of undead creatures and there are lots of creative ideas on show but the film drifts a little off course towards the resolution as we learn more about the situation. Another good film that gets a 6/10 and a 1 from me.

For anyone interested in checking out a bigfoot horror, my nomination Monstrous is now available on Prime UK and hopefully in other countries as well.
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#202

Post by St. Gloede »

Thanks, Filmbantha. I had not gone to the website, and that director's note undoubtedly makes the film far more clear, adding a stronger personal touch than what is originally apparent.
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#203

Post by St. Gloede »

I also love all the activity on the sheet now, especially Kingink joining it with a 3s for Uppercase Print and This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection + a 2 for Fire Will Come.
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#204

Post by kingink »

St. Gloede wrote: February 5th, 2021, 11:02 am I also love all the activity on the sheet now, especially Kingink joining it with a 3s for Uppercase Print and This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection + a 2 for Fire Will Come.
I was watching several eligible films in order to find my nominations, but I slipped a couple in between... Lovely films! And will we have 2 great Romanian films this year in the festival? We shall see!
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#205

Post by kingink »

I added some films in the spreadsheet. Let me give you some insight.

Truth and justice (2020) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5593384/
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A wonderful Estonian film and one of my favorites. It's a bit long, but it is quite an epic film based on one quintessential Estonian novel. It's very well made and it transports you with ease into this era and into the lives of the characters, who we are following for several decades. It manages to create a great depiction of life in Estonia in the late 19th century, but the message of the film has a universal appeal. You see the struggles of the characters and their relationship with the land, God, their community and their family through a wonderful emotional roller-coaster.

The rifleman (Dveselu putenis) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6084202/
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A Latvian film about WW1. It is quite a typical war movie, so don't expect another "Come and see", but it really does a great job! We see the personal journey of a Latvian teenager who experiences the war and personal losses and witnesses the dark fate of his country.
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#206

Post by kingink »

I will post about the other 5 films I added later, since I am not in the mood right now :P :D :whistling:
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#207

Post by filmbantha »

I've updated the spreadsheet with some new ratings today:

A Whisker Away: 7/10 (2) This is a charming animation about a girl who can transform into a cat. The high school romance aspect of the story is a little twee but the fantastical elements of the film work really well and the animation is enchanting.
The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open: 6/10 (1) If it wasn't for the film's technical accomplishment of being shot almost entirely in one long take I probably would have rated this lower. There are two compelling performances from the leads but I struggled to engage with the bleak and plodding narrative that asks a lot from the viewer.
A Sun :8/10 (3) - This was on my watchlist for potential nominations but Kingink beat me to it by nominating it. I watched it last night and I definitely would have nominated it myself had I seen it earlier. It's an unpredictable crime drama with a real emotional heft that is surely deserving of a coveted spot in the festival. I would encourage others to seek this out, it is on Netflix and was a joy to watch. It's been a while since I had a new favourite :)

These are films I've seen prior to them being nominated:

Truth and Justice: 7/10 (2) - This sprawling saga of a feud over farmland feels almost like the Estonian version of Jean De Florettes and Manon Des Sources. It's mostly gripping stuff although there are times when it feels a little bloated.
I'm No Longer Here: 6/10 (1) - I watched this only last week as it was in my list for potential nominations. It didn't make the grade for me to nominate it, though I loved learning about a new culture - the music and dancing were fascinating.
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#208

Post by zzzorf »

OK well I've had a run of watching some nominations and I have thrown some support for some.

Fire Will Come (2019) - I was left wanting in this one. I just couldn't get a connection with anyone and by the end I just felt like the movie went nowhere. 5/10 and no support from me.

The Heiresses (2018) - This is a movie that grows on you the further it goes along. You can't help but feel for Chela's plight and feel for her as she progresses in what really is a coming-of-age story but transferred to the elderly. 7/10 and a 2 in the spreadsheet.

Athlete A (2020) - A well put together documentary about a topic I only just knew slightly about. Even though I believe it will make the 10000 limit I still gave it a 3 to go with my 8/10

4x4 (2019) - This was actually a lot better than I thought, a great one location film. One of my daughters even watched with me in what is probably the first movie she has watched in subtitles. 7/10 and a 2 in the spreadsheet.


And to help fill in some of the weaker pools here are some more nominations to give us some more selections.

Tremors (Temblores) - 2019 This Guatemalan movie depicts a family man who has entered into a homosexual relationship and his families/societal reaction to this 'sin'. I put it in the LGBT section but I am wary because it does do a lot to be anti-LGBT even though it does at times send a pro message. I think someone else will need to watch it (which to gain support someone has to anyway) to say if it is a fit in that pool or not.

Los silencios - 2018 A big recommendation for this one from me, a movie that had me thinking a lot about it afterwards as I came to grips with everything it had to tell me. A Brazilian film where a family is fleeing Columbia during armed conflict and the issues it presents in their new community and coming to grips with death. Especially look out for the use of fluro colouring as the movie progresses which was a great touch.

This Magnificent Cake! (Ce magnifique gâteau!) - 2018 As long as 44 minutes isn't to short this Belgium movie has unique animation depicting several interlinking anthology stories based around colonial Africa.

S He - 2018 Hey look an Art House nomination from me, who would have thought? Anyway this Chinese stop-motion movie has been likened to a cross of people like Jan Svankmajer, David Lynch and Pedro Almodovar. The plot, in a authoritarian society a female high heel shoe rebels by disguising herself as one of her male 'betters' in what is a great look at the chauvinistic nature of men.


Edit: My iCM list has been updated and we have now got 101 nominations.
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#209

Post by Fergenaprido »

I've had my eye on Temblores anyway, so I can add it to my queue to watch.

I've seen This Magnificent Cake. I don't think the length is an issue. I found it very uneven, with some stories fine and others... less so. I gave it a 6.8/10, and unfortunately it will get no support from me.

Also, as an aside, we now have 6 films seen by 4 programmers and 2 seen by 5 - not only do we have more films overall than last year, but it appears we're having more overlap as well, which is great! And 5 of you have ~30+ films viewed already. Fantastic work everyone :)
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#210

Post by beavis »

Yes, we're doing very fine! Huge thanks already to all
Because of it i have been able to concentrate on the challenges more than i thought i would. Hope you guys don't mind ;)
If we keep this pace steady all will be fine, i still hope to get some focus on US indie in there, and got my eyes on a few other things too...
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#211

Post by Onderhond »

I'm not actively part of this project but I noticed some worries about anime nominations, people might be interested in checking out Cocolors.
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#212

Post by St. Gloede »

I saw an oddly fitting set of 3 nominees, Yara, Dwelling on the Fuchun Mountain and Brothers' Nest.

I couldn't really help thinking that Dwelling on the Fuchun Mountain could just as easily have been called Brothers' Nest, and that Yara could just as easily - and even more fittingly, have been called Dwelling on the Fuchun Mountain. It is further interesting in that the plots somewhat overlaps, with Yara/Brothers arguably being single location films, Dwelling/Brothers being about the response to a mothers illness and Yara/Dwelling both enjoying to pan away from the action to show the world around them.

All get full support from me.

Dwelling on the Fuchun Mountain

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Immersing you into scenes and settings Dwelling on the Fuchun Mountain allows you to do something we rarely see in cinema - get a sense of characters, who is important and who they are as scenes play out. You are immediately thrown in and immersed into settings, rather than a clear narrative - starting with the large birthday of a family matriarch that keeps going wrong. The power goes out and comes back, people try to get it fixed, get a smoke or just stays put - a world is drawn.

The family drama, comprised of 3 generations, are only part of this world - where the change of the city - as well as the landscape around them - seem of near-equal importance. Scenes are often composed in long takes, allowing us to follow the Fuchun river with characters talking or moving at a far distance - or simply panning away to continue to explore the landscape, collapsing apartment blocks, etc.

It may test some people's attention spans, but it will immerse others - and as the film progresses, we see increased richness in the portrayal of both our characters and Fuchun itself. There is a level in broad-reaching humanity, family, history and change tieing it all together - and as the final title card implies this may not be the end - I am very excited to see it continue. 8.5


Yara

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Yara is the name of a young woman/teenager living with her grandmother in an abandoned Lebanese mountain region - but before we even see her we see the quiet, serene and beautiful lull around her. Mountains, valley views, animals - and this becomes a motif. Almost every scene ends with a pan to the mountains and a cut to the valley, perhaps cats sleeping in the sun, or just crossing the courtyard. It infuses a surprising amount of air into a simple story of first love - and both grounds and lifts us away in the odd contrast of incredible beauty and lulled isolation. Young love is equally set against remnants of the past - against old abandoned buildings - and the people who died and left. While the plotting and characters are drawn with broad touches, this opens up a degree of universality, while the atmosphere and reality washes over you. 8/10

Brothers' Nest

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Brothers' Nest is a clever, little production fueled with dark comedy and suspense as two brothers embark on an irreversible crime. It uses its playbook well - setting the full actions within their childhood home - and allowing the brothers, with near odd-couple character dynamics reveal their intentions and motives. While some dialogue feel a little too much like exposition, it is hard to deny the playful tension and chemistry between actor-director Clayton Jacobson and Shane Jacobson - as brothers Jeff and Terry - with dialogues and mannerisms culpable to a modern update of Hitchcock's Rope. They are charming, endearing and chilling. This a film that thoroughly enjoys its own darkness, and plays and teases throughout. The climax itself may just be trying a little hard to be "cool", but when it is clear you are having this much "fun" it works. 8/10
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#213

Post by xianjiro »

Just finished Uppercase Print and while the story is somewhat interesting, I thought the pacing off, editing uneven, and nothing particularly cinematic about the telling. From a purely cinematic POV, I don't believe this movie has much to contribute to our festival. If people are arguing that Hamilton isn't a movie ... how can this be argued to be anything but a filmed stage piece with tons of interspersed archive footage which is only tangentially related to the case at hand (though fairly informative on Romanian society)? I also have to fault it for not addressing how/why the boy died in 1985 - while this might be well-known in Romania, it certainly isn't to the wider world.

We fault documentaries for "too many talking heads" and yet, what is this but a dramatization with talking heads (and lots of archival footage)? I also thought it overlong by at least 30 minutes if not 60: just don't see why it had to clock in at over 2 hours when so much of that time was eaten up by archival footage, that while interesting, well, let me put it this way, exactly how much propaganda TV does one need to get the point?

While I can see this as an answer to Romanians pining for the "good ole days" of socialism, I'm not sure the message will resonate with a much wider audience. And while we can debate how much this or that national government is trying to teach its citizenry how and what to think, is this the film to 'teach' this to an audience seeking to be entertained? Yes, it's thought-provoking to some degree, but I don't see that audience as our audience.

Won't categorically rule it out - I rated it a 1 in our spreadsheet - but am fairly confident we'll have better movies with which to fill slates. I could see this as a possible pick for European or Arthouse slates, but Arthouse feels like a stretch, however I'd be most inclined to consider it for Documentary since it is a somewhat novel take on the genre using both archival footage and reenactment to tell the story, but I'm just not that enthusiastic about it to want to make much more of a case, especially at this point in reviewing films. Now if we had a political slate, then this would be a very interesting option.

I'll go back and see what others have said about it since I see at least two others rated it a 3.
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#214

Post by St. Gloede »

xianjiro wrote: February 15th, 2021, 9:41 am Just finished Uppercase Print and while the story is somewhat interesting, I thought the pacing off, editing uneven, and nothing particularly cinematic about the telling. From a purely cinematic POV, I don't believe this movie has much to contribute to our festival. If people are arguing that Hamilton isn't a movie ... how can this be argued to be anything but a filmed stage piece with tons of interspersed archive footage which is only tangentially related to the case at hand (though fairly informative on Romanian society)? I also have to fault it for not addressing how/why the boy died in 1985 - while this might be well-known in Romania, it certainly isn't to the wider world.

We fault documentaries for "too many talking heads" and yet, what is this but a dramatization with talking heads (and lots of archival footage)? I also thought it overlong by at least 30 minutes if not 60: just don't see why it had to clock in at over 2 hours when so much of that time was eaten up by archival footage, that while interesting, well, let me put it this way, exactly how much propaganda TV does one need to get the point?

While I can see this as an answer to Romanians pining for the "good ole days" of socialism, I'm not sure the message will resonate with a much wider audience. And while we can debate how much this or that national government is trying to teach its citizenry how and what to think, is this the film to 'teach' this to an audience seeking to be entertained? Yes, it's thought-provoking to some degree, but I don't see that audience as our audience.

Won't categorically rule it out - I rated it a 1 in our spreadsheet - but am fairly confident we'll have better movies with which to fill slates. I could see this as a possible pick for European or Arthouse slates, but Arthouse feels like a stretch, however I'd be most inclined to consider it for Documentary since it is a somewhat novel take on the genre using both archival footage and reenactment to tell the story, but I'm just not that enthusiastic about it to want to make much more of a case, especially at this point in reviewing films. Now if we had a political slate, then this would be a very interesting option.

I'll go back and see what others have said about it since I see at least two others rated it a 3.
Interesting to have such uniquely different experiences. This is my favourite film of 2020 and one of the most cinematic. I don't quite comprehend the comparison between talking-head documentaries, and deadpan re-enactments of transcripts adding a layer of dark comedy, Brechtian distancing effects and a wall between the real and the unreal - i.e. we are questioning just how these conversations were actually had - or what was going on in the head of the people writing the reports - as what they are typing is on its face ridiculous.

The former is cinematically uninteresting - as it (unless something is done) has nothing to do with cinematic language or art - and merely about people informing us/telling us stories. Here we are faced with ultra-stylized theatre. While the stylization may not be to everyone's liking, the idea that extreme minimalism - coupled with outlandish, colourful set-design could be the same - is odd.

I also find the stance that it is comparable to a "filmed play" ala Hamilton bizarre. I am not sure how close the film is to the play it is based on - but this is a specific cinematic production. Radu Jude did not put on this play and choose to film it - he and his team created it specifically for the world of cinema - with utterly incredible visuals and framing driving the comedy and power of it all. As you can see when the stage is displayed it is created in a circle - with the different tableaus set up against each other - increasing the sense of artificiality that runs through the entire film. If anything it is comparable to, say, Altman's Secret Honor - though the added essay elements of ironically inserted reels emboldening the bizarre reality these events are taking place in makes it even more cinematic.

I also have to say that personally, I find it thoroughly entertaining - and often laugh out loud funny (though then again, that is my general stance on Godard too, and I can see how poorly The Image Book did :( :D )
I also have to fault it for not addressing how/why the boy died in 1985 - while this might be well-known in Romania, it certainly isn't to the wider world.
A decent portion of the film is dedicated to the mystery of his death - with accusations that the secret police poisoned him - and them denying it.

-

For convenience sake, here's my review:

Tipografic majuscul / Uppercase Print (2020, Radu Jude)

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Whoever said that lines deliver flat, without any emotion - composure held - faces still - can not deliver a punch. Maybe no one ever did; as it has been proven time and again to be false. However - this is not Bresson's monologues - but the recitation of real reports and letters - at first awkwardly amusing - but shortly, increasingly disturbing.
Uppercase Prints takes, from the archives, the real story, and the real words, of a massive investigation into who wrote slogans - yes, in UPPERCASE PRINT - on walls in Bucharest in 1981. This criminal act sets forth an investigation with hundreds of informants, countless police offers staking out suspect areas - and increasingly bizarre reports - including letters from regular people and their reactions to the words/phenomenon.

The visual world Radu Jude creates here - is as if Godard's The Joy of Learning - was blown up at a larger scale - and policed into an incredible Brechtian theatre. Standing in front of walls decorated merely by a recorder, a TV, and other baseline characteristics giving a mild inference of context - lighted up with strong colours - our "characters" recite their reports, letters, notations - as the reality of life in 80s Romania becomes increasingly clear.

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This is interwoven with real footage from the TV stations at the time - connecting the real reality of political suppression - and a horrifying big brother - with lighthearted fare, calls for patriotism and odd, "playful" ways to lull people into following rolls - such as a clip from a comedic segment with police issuing fines for honking. It all creates a simultaneously surreal and real underbelly that becomes stronger and stronger as the stakes get higher. 

Though based on the documentary play by the same name, it should have been clear already, but Uppercase Print truly cements Radu Jude as one of the great cinematic masters of our age. Throughout his career he has been in a conversation with history - examining the persecution of Roma people in Aferim! and exploring the rise and then essentially love of fascism with Scarred Hearts and I Don't Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians. 

It is exciting to see just how well he commands every style he handled, from Aferim!'s epic scope, comparable to The Saragossa Manuscript - or even Samurai tale - only placed in Feudal Romania - to the restrained minimalism of Scarred Hearts - to his explosive meta film "I Don't Care ...". Uppercase Print takes these meta elements even further - creating a meta essay that both dissects, contextualizes and dramatizes real events - the outcome - and leaves you with a real feeling of utter unease. The ending scene is particularly strong, and plays further with the ideas of breaking down all walls and making it clear you are watching and interacting with a film - as well as history - and as each representation could be seen as speaking directly to you - you are an active participant.

Note: Uppercase Print could be understood to be a documentary - as it features re-enactment of real words - along with real archive footage. There are no labels on IMDb yet. This is a really interesting case of an essay that could easily be seen as leaning either way on the documentary vs. feature scale.

9-9.5/10
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#215

Post by St. Gloede »

The above being said, and failing to get it into the main slate, fitting a film like Uppercase Print would complete on of my key programmer goals - so if that's where I might get your support I count that as a win. :lol: :cheers:
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#216

Post by xianjiro »

Just finished Half the Picture. It does a great job of laying out the case for why, in this case Hollywood, prefers white men by allowing a wide range of women - including women of color and queer women - to talk about their experiences working in cinema and perceptions of why women don't get more jobs directing. It's tightly edited to keep thoughts going from voice to voice while still communicating on a theme or concept. But again, it's just talking heads - oh, there are cuts to stills and some video of women working as directors. Yes, this helps keep it interesting, but I can't say it leapt off the screen and grabbed me by the collar.

And while I understand the bit about the ACLU and EEOC being part of - I hate to use the word battle since this concept came up in the film and it can't be said the speakers liked comparing making movies to waging war - being an important part of the process to (hopefully) get the studios, and maybe just as importantly talent, to think about how their systems keep opportunity away from women, POC, and the LGBTQ community. IDK, it just seems an odd, pass the power to someone else, way to end a film which is all about empowering women in Hollywood (both in film and TV, after all, most studios are active in both).

Obviously could be considered for Documentary slate and maybe even Indie, but that's about it. While I give it a 2 and would like to keep it in mind as we start to feel which films would make a great slate, I'm not interested in nominating it at this time. It would make an ideal adjunct to a slate dedicated to women in cinema.

PS: This felt more like something that would air on public TV and less like "average" festival content though I admit to be troubled by this and the women talk about just such an attitude in the film being problematic.
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#217

Post by xianjiro »

I have to admit to having a lot of trouble letting go of Uppercase Print and that's not a good thing. While I have no issue with Gloede's opinion and mine being so very divergent, and don't wish to turn this into a debate, I have found the methods employed by Radu Jude (I'm unclear which is his family name and noticed inconsistent positioning of family names during the film) to be troubling and dehumanizing. For some reason, the use of bold colors and monologues conjures up images of Apple's iTunes/iPod advertising campaign around two decades ago. This and the choice to not discuss the circumstances of the boy's death as well as the overwhelming sense of artificiality and even artifice left me uneasy about the film's use of the boy's memory. I found (and continue to find) no humor in the potential torture, to the death, of the child used as focus of this piece, all done to continue commentary on the modern Romanian state.

I also find no evidence that this film has been hailed by critics in quite the same way as Gloede has done. Could it just be another unwitting victim of worldwide pandemic response? But even so, one would expect it to show up somewhere since it debuted at Berlinale. (It's inclusion in the "Forum" section meant it wasn't eligible for award consideration.) Still, one would expect European film critics to have been exposed at such a venue. And what I'm seeing is decidedly mixed, but far from the universal adulation one would expect from "one of the great cinematic masters of our age."

Have no idea of the context of the film's inclusion in Berlinale nor if it had an attendant Q&A session. Clearly one of the things I've struggled against is the lack of contextuality beyond the propaganda and cult of personality that formed the basis of the Ceaușescu regime. I've asked myself if I'd have been less troubled with a fictionalization but also know I would have wondered if it really happened, so in a sense, there is value in using the real story. I know that I prefer authenticity to artificiality in my art and that's clearly impacted my response here.
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#218

Post by St. Gloede »

xianjiro wrote: February 16th, 2021, 4:45 am I have to admit to having a lot of trouble letting go of Uppercase Print and that's not a good thing. While I have no issue with Gloede's opinion and mine being so very divergent, and don't wish to turn this into a debate.


No need for debate, though this is an exciting disagreement. If it gets into a slate we should consider re-publishing our stances to spark more conversation. :cheers:
I have found the methods employed by Radu Jude (I'm unclear which is his family name and noticed inconsistent positioning of family names during the film) to be troubling and dehumanizing.
Radu (first name(, Jude (last name) - Romania has the standard western first name, last name setup.
For some reason, the use of bold colors and monologues conjures up images of Apple's iTunes/iPod advertising campaign around two decades ago.
Ha, fun where our mind goes - mine went to Godard - though the degree of artificiality would be similar. :lol:
This and the choice to not discuss the circumstances of the boy's death as well as the overwhelming sense of artificiality and even artifice left me uneasy about the film's use of the boy's memory. I found (and continue to find) no humor in the potential torture, to the death, of the child used as focus of this piece, all done to continue commentary on the modern Romanian state.
The circumstances around the boy's death were discussed quite extensively. It is a pivotal part of the film. I'm not sure I quite get this complaint. No one knows how he died, he simply got weaker and weaker - and the speculation is that the secret police poisoned him. The description of his weakening state, the suspicion of how he was murdered as well as long explanations of how much the secret police telling you how they "liked the boy", "checked up on him due to how much they cared", etc. - which comes across as extremely unsettling.

As for the black humour, the butt of the joke is always the system - and the humour only arises from the convoluted terror of the regime. I find this entirely justifiable, and have no moral qualms with it whatsoever. Especially in the investigation stage, where you see the extent, the concern and the way they paint writing a few slogans on a wall as a crime against the country - simply hangs the system by its own words.

This is perfectly illustrated by the opening as well, with cheerful presenters/actors singing the praise of Ceaușescu - for then to be horrified when the teleprompter is not telling them what to say. It is this nuance between the image attempting to be created (the TV clips) - and the reality - everyone formulating themselves to such an extent that there can be no question of their sympathies - but taking it to such extreme degrees (out of fear of the repercussions) that looking back at them they gain a surreal element - an element of clear performance - giving rise to the question: do they not see how ridiculous they sound?

But this goes hand in hand with horror.

I don't think this is a type of "comedy" that makes light of
Spoiler
the boy's death (that's a spoiler, should be hidden)
at all - but rather uses this case to lay bare and attack the system at hand.
I also find no evidence that this film has been hailed by critics in quite the same way as Gloede has done. Could it just be another unwitting victim of worldwide pandemic response? But even so, one would expect it to show up somewhere since it debuted at Berlinale. (It's inclusion in the "Forum" section meant it wasn't eligible for award consideration.) Still, one would expect European film critics to have been exposed at such a venue. And what I'm seeing is decidedly mixed, but far from the universal adulation one would expect from "one of the great cinematic masters of our age."

Have no idea of the context of the film's inclusion in Berlinale nor if it had an attendant Q&A session. Clearly one of the things I've struggled against is the lack of contextuality beyond the propaganda and cult of personality that formed the basis of the Ceaușescu regime. I've asked myself if I'd have been less troubled with a fictionalization but also know I would have wondered if it really happened, so in a sense, there is value in using the real story. I know that I prefer authenticity to artificiality in my art and that's clearly impacted my response here.
:blink: 

It's been a long time since I have seen the response "If it is so great, why aren't more critics raving about it". :lol: Just to be clear, I am only talking about my own feelings about the film.

Let's be honest, it is a Brechtian essay/performance film from Romania (and could qualify as experimental - Hint hint to anyone wanting to participate in that challenge) it is surprising that it got a decent amount of coverage at all. I think the main appeal would be to the arthouse (and possibly politics) crowd.

That said, it did just get a 4/5 review by the Guardian yesterday (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/f ... -radu-jude) in advance of its release on Mubi tomorrow.

Variety gave it a positive, but not raving review after Berlinale (in part comparing it to their love for Jude's previous "I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians", which to be fair, is even better).

The next 5 reviews (based on my google results) were raving/really positive, however, but I'm not sure how good each of the sources are:

https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/upp ... 37.article
https://www.romania-insider.com/romania ... case-print
http://ubiquarian.net/2020/02/film-revi ... radu-jude/
https://cineuropa.org/en/newsdetail/391585/
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/revie ... ew-1280594

The last two also agree with your stance that it could have been cut down (and some critiques against the austere style), but praise it for the emotional punch.

The Hollywood Reporter does add "This may be one of Jude's minor works, but it delivers a quietly devastating emotional punch." - and in terms of exposure this may be its legacy - as it is a highly unusual film and overly Brechtian cinema tend to be allocated to the fringes of cinemania - but as part of Jude's journey into meta cinema/Brehtianism and possibly the conclusion to his historical films (his new film seems to be about the present day) it may still be argued to be an important part in his filmography.
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#219

Post by kingink »

I didn't think that Uppercase print re-invented the wheel, but it was very interesting to watch it as an art-house piece of work. I gave it an 8 because I liked the distant theatricality (yeah all that Brechtian shit :P B) ), but mostly because he managed to mix all those different elements of the film and create a coherent film that transcends the normal forms of both films and documentaries and blends them all together.So it was exciting for me to watch it. Also it kept my interest throughout the whole duration which is quite an achievement for me, given the uncommon cinematic language he chose to use. I know it's not gonna please everybody, but I think it deserves a place in the art-house slate. It will be divisive for sure, but divisive films will make the art-house slate more interesting!
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Post by St. Gloede »

Brechtian shit. :cheers: (l) (l) (l) :cheers:

Yeah, I don't think Uppercase Print can be said to have re-invented the wheel - especially as it is an adaptation of an already existing play, and Brechtian techniques have been around since, well, Brecht - with the French and German new wavers in particular really dipping into this very style. I think it is different enough within this tradition to stand out and be of a degree of note - and I think the way it structured Romania in the above and below surface look - what they projected and what they really were created a really striking contrast that is simultaneously intellectually stimulating, harrowing, darkly comedic and entertaining.

(Mini note: It is quite unlikely it will stay my favourite film of 2020 over the next 1-2 years, but it will likely stay in my top 5).
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#221

Post by St. Gloede »

(Can I just add that I love this - how the festival should be - and a really good selling point for the film ;) )
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#222

Post by kingink »

I also watched There is no evil! Another 8/10 from me and a 3 in the ratings for the festival. I was thinking of nominating Son/Mother that Rasoulof wrote, but maybe now I won't. This was better. It has a similar theme with Clemency, but dealt in a different way. I would like both films in the festival to spark discussion on capital punishment, although I doubt there will be anyone supporting it around these parts :D
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#223

Post by beavis »

Time for some more nominations from me!

Next to my first 10: Classical Period, Promare, Jonaki, Jinpa, Amanda, 20th century, Colectiv, Tlamess, Dwelling in Fuchun Mountains and Djamilia
I now present another 10. And will leave my final 10 (if necessary, we're already going strong and quite a few movies I would have chosen are now already nominated by others!!) until I've explored a few avenues on my watch list (US indie, Philippines, Africa, Spain... it might take a few months still).

First and foremost, I'm now nominating my #1, #6 and #10 of my top10 movies seen in 2020
https://letterboxd.com/beavis/list/2020 ... ew-movies/

11. Shirley (2020) US https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8430598/
12. Atlantis (2019) Ukraine https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10749786/
13. Hellhole (2019) Belgium https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9456372/

We've had a film by Josephine Decker in the festival before. The way she uses sound and subjective camerawork to create a mood is of the highest caliber. The dialogue and acting in Shirley is pretty top notch too, I was transported into a kind of dreamworld when I saw it in cinema, making it an instant favorite. If it doesn't gain a lot of Imdb votes in the meantime, this is a strong contender for US Indie, might also be art house material

Atlantis has a lovely minimalist approach, yet is visually vEry impressive. The mood it presents is what I would call typically "Russian", but there are subtle hints of humanity and warmth throughout. A movie that lingers in the mind. This is one for art house or Europe

Hellhole is Bas Devos expanding his amazing dark dreamlike visual style. It is both a very personal vision of his world as a commentary on the state of Europe. He kind of made a companion movie in the same year with Ghost Tropic (2019), but I felt the (nightly road movie) narrative of that one not entirely working for me... it is a bit less "hermetic" though, so some people might actually prefer that one, or would recommend watching both... but I have to go with what I like here. Very much an art house candidate.

14. Rizu to aoi tori (2018) Japan https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7089878/
Watched Liz and the Blue Bird yesterday. There is a nice minimalism and focus on gestures here that reminded me of the work of josei mangaka Kiriko Nananan (check out the beautiful live action movies Blue and Strawberry Shortcakes based on her work). A lot of the elements did feel a bit generic (or do I mean derivative...?) for me, but I can't deny they are very well executed and I was swept away by the gently build up of emotions turning into a coming-of-age growth for all characters. This one is for animation, AsAf and could also be LGBTQ material.

15. Ikiterudakede ai (2018) Japan https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8676984/
I haven't kept up very well with Japanese cinema in recent years (so much to see!), but I do watch a bunch every year regardless, and this one impressed me the most of all of those that qualify for this years festival. The central character is eccentric to say the least, so it might be difficult for some to get along on her journey. But when you do get into it then this ride will take you trough a very strong emotional arc that seems to be the strong point of modern Japanese cinema to me. I was moved. I liked the original style. A nice obscure on for the AsAf section

16. Fanny Lye Deliver'd (2019) UK https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5686112/
This is a very intelligent piece of genre cinema. I was surprised this has not become liked more. It might be too art-housy for the genre crowd and too brutal for the art-house crowd, but it was perfect for me! I have not found it online yet, but it is (already!) cheaply available on DVD in the UK. I would put this one firmly in Dawn, but as said, others might disagree.

17. Vendrá la Muerte y Tendrá Tus Ojos (2019) Chile https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10815648/
I have been following the director of this one for a while because he has a nice experimental approach to low-key art house drama and documentary. Sometimes it is great (Verano), sometimes it doesn't quite work for me (El Viento Sabe Que Vuelvo a Casa), this one was "just" very good. It is unassuming, with just a relation between two women as the central drama. But the characters are lovingly rendered and it is again the subtle experimental touch that lifts this one for me above the mediocrity it could have easily become in other hands. fits in LatAm and LGBTQ

18. Mosquito (2020) Portugal https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5658540/
The opening film of the 2020 IFFR has very recently become available with English subs, shooting it to the top of my list for a nomination here. This was a very great road movie with a heart of darkness vibes going on. Excellent cinematography and sound take you along for the ride. Story wise this is not uncommon territory for Portugal (also see Cartas da Guerra (2016) or Posto-Avançado do Progresso (2016) for instance) but it is still a great experience I thought. Best in the European section maybe.

19. It Must Be Heaven (2019) Palestine https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8359842/
Might be a nice double bill with About Endlessness as both are made up of absurdist vignettes. Elia Suleiman has created his own deadpan style over several movies, and this one felt as one of his best and maybe most personal to me. I'm not sure how well it works when you're not entirely familiar with his work, this it also has in common with About Endlessness... A good on for AsAf, although art house would also work.

20. Liebe in den Gängen (2018) Germany https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6263618/
A lovely nerdy comedy drama (with a bit of a darkly absurdist edge to it) with a lot of famous faces, led by Franz Rogowski (Transit, also nominated) and Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann). This won't exactly change your life, but it is a lovely way to spend two hours. I also personally like to keep up with these actors and modern German cinema; more people should! This one is for the Europe section.
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#224

Post by zzzorf »

Well I saw Atlantis as one of my potential nominations and unfortunately (of the top of my head) has worked the least for me out of anything I have watched for this process so far. I'm not saying it's a bad movie and others should watch it but it is an easy 0 from me, sorry Beavis.
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#225

Post by beavis »

zzzorf wrote: February 16th, 2021, 11:25 am Well I saw Atlantis as one of my potential nominations and unfortunately (of the top of my head) has worked the least for me out of anything I have watched for this process so far. I'm not saying it's a bad movie and others should watch it but it is an easy 0 from me, sorry Beavis.
no worries, a strong negative reaction might even be a recommendation to some. the "Russian" mood and minimalist approach certainly isn't for everybody.
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#226

Post by St. Gloede »

I just watched In den Gängen / In the Aisles two days (as it was one of the strongest films that were not picked last year) and while it would be in tough competition for my final spots, I will be eager to give it 3/3.

It is yet another great, understated performance by Franz Rogowski, and I love the way it makes the aisles come alive and actually centres the film around the work, the aisles, and their lives within these confines. Its brooding leads and supporting cast, who rarely speak - and rarely of what is truly on their mind, reveal wounded and hurting humans who try to cope - and while nothing unique or incredible in its plotting - it is unsettlingly melancholic throughout and manages to find beauty in unusual places.

I also have Atlantis already, and will prioritize it.
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#227

Post by St. Gloede »

On that note I'll also leave one more nominee of my own:

A portuguesa / A Portuguese Woman (2018, Rita Azevedo Gomes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7746590/

Image

A Portuguese Woman is a visually lavish film on the ever-fascinating borderline between minimalism and excess. Almost every scene is composed in a singular, long take - peering into a setting, be it a war camp, a sickbed, a peace meeting - it is almost as if large paintings have come to life and we see the action that takes place within them.

Our titular character is no ordinary Portuguese woman, but the new wife of a German duke, resigned alone in her castle as her husband wages endless war. The motifs depicted, span from love to cruelty - from intimate and serene - capturing the dullness of waiting - to darker themes and brutality. However, the atmosphere and acting is almost always given with a degree of "innocence", or perhaps we should say "simplicity".

The lighting adds to this. Faces are brightly lit, and the scenes are shot from afar - without close-ups - setting up details big and small - while breathing life into the frames. There is a simplicity in action and emotion reminiscent of Rohmer - as we get long scenes of dialogue and recitals of poetry. I think it is clear from this, and her previous work, that Rita Azevedo Gomes may be one most exciting auteurs working today.
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#228

Post by beavis »

nice!

yes, In den Gangen was already in the lower part of the spreadsheet. I have another four movies there that I gave a 3 vote to. I might want to migrate those to the upper halve... but I'm not sure what else I might encounter (some potentially great stuff on my watch list!) ... I should strongly consider Oiktos though... the director has another qualifying movie available now, Birds (or How to Be One), that I also loved a great deal! Maybe this is something Kingink could jump on...?

But these are enough options for now I think, I still hope Classical Period will finally get some votes so we can consider it for US Indie, and I hope Bas Devos will finally get some more love too (hope some who are doing the Benelux challenge this month are reading this!! ;))

I added everything to the spreadsheet now, again destroying some of the formulas... ;) so the totals don't count up correctly at the moment, but I'm sure someone will be able to fix that for us...
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#229

Post by St. Gloede »

I'll try to give Classical Period a viewing this week - and will also try to push in Hellhole this month. Not yet joined that challenge, but might do a mini with 5.

Oh, and again, Uppercase Print will be accepted in the experimental challenge.
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#230

Post by St. Gloede »

So far, these are the films I'm considering nominating, i.e. I have rated 8+ that qualify - but I am semi hesitant.

Broadly considering:

The Death & Life of John F. Donovan (2018, Xavier Dolan) - UK (despite being largely set in the US)
The Painted Bird (2019, Václav Marhoul) - Check Republic
Bird Island / L'Île aux oiseaux (2019, Maya Kosa, Sérgio da Costa) - France
Circumstantial Pleasures (2020, Lewis Klahr) - US
The Bra (2018, Veit Helmer) - Germany

More hesitant:

System Crasher / Systemsprenger (2019, Nora Fingscheidt) - Germany
Yomeddine / Judgment Day (2018, Abu Bakr Shawky) - Egypt
Insect / Hmyz (2018, Jan Švankmajer) - Czech Republic
The Endless Trench / La trinchera infinita (2019, Aitor Arregi, Jon Garañ, Jose Mari Goenaga) - Spain

Left on my pre-set watchlist - 10 (might get expanded)

Last Letter (2020, Shunji Iwai) - Japan
Paris Calligrammes (2020, Ulrikke Ottinger) - Germany
Nova Lituania (2019, Karolis Kaupinis) - Lithuania
Até o Fim / To the End (2020, Ary Rosa, Glenda Nicácio) - Brazil
Rojo (2018, Benjamín Naishtat) - Argentina
Echo / Bergmál (2019, Rúnar Rúnarsson) - Iceland
Chinese Portrait (2018, Wang Xiaoshuai) - China

+ Amanda, Once in the Night and Classical Period - already nominated here.

Overall films seen for ICMFFF2021 so far: 62
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#231

Post by beavis »

St. Gloede wrote: February 16th, 2021, 12:50 pm The Painted Bird (2019, Václav Marhoul) - Check Republic
System Crasher / Systemsprenger (2019, Nora Fingscheidt) - Germany
Paris Calligrammes (2020, Ulrikke Ottinger) - Germany
Echo / Bergmál (2019, Rúnar Rúnarsson)
Seen these four. Echo is very good, also has Christmassy vibes that work well for the period the festival is held in
Paris Calligrammes is only interesting for fans of Ottinger I fear, it's not bad but I think I wouldn't support it for the festival
The other two are strong options.

I'm working on a new watchlist with nominated movies and things I like to seek out myself
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/new+ ... st/beavis/
https://letterboxd.com/beavis/list/icmf ... ch-list-1/
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#232

Post by St. Gloede »

Fair enough, so Paris Calligrammes is her Image Book? :D
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#233

Post by beavis »

No it is not so experimental, I found it a bit to personal to her... we jump around some places and meet some people, but everything seems more interesting for her than for the viewer; a bit superficial... I think she might wanted to do something like Varda(?), but didn't found that vibe that Varda had going for herself, and with people... I haven't seen much of her other documentary work though, so I don't know if that comment actually applies... (I hope to watch Taiga in the female director challenge).
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#234

Post by kingink »

The Painted Bird (2019, Václav Marhoul) - Check Republic
System Crasher / Systemsprenger (2019, Nora Fingscheidt) - Germany

These 2 are films that I have rated with an 8 and was considering nominating them. I just waited to see if I will find something more exciting. But I would support them.
The Death & Life of John F. Donovan is not something that clicked with me, although I really like Dolan's films. Well at least most of them. This is a 6/10 for me and I think that it will not work for many people. It was just dull.
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#235

Post by kingink »

beavis wrote: February 16th, 2021, 12:07 pm nice!

yes, In den Gangen was already in the lower part of the spreadsheet. I have another four movies there that I gave a 3 vote to. I might want to migrate those to the upper halve... but I'm not sure what else I might encounter (some potentially great stuff on my watch list!) ... I should strongly consider Oiktos though... the director has another qualifying movie available now, Birds (or How to Be One), that I also loved a great deal! Maybe this is something Kingink could jump on...?
Oiktos was a great representation of the Greek Weird Wave. I liked where he went with the story and how weird and awkward it got. I know that Weird Wave can be a hit or miss, but this was a hit for me. It made me think for days after I watched it, which is a very good thing. But on the other hand... Birds... Oh shit... It became available online for a few days during April here in Greece, so I thought that it was a great opportunity to watch it. I didn't get it at all. It seemed stupid and all over the place. I didn't even realise I was watching the actual film and thought they released a documentary about how the film was made :turned: :woot: :ermm:
I got quite angry to be honest with the film so I ditched it half-way since I wasn't in the mood for all that shit at the time. Afterwards I realised this was the actual film, which made me laugh. I haven't watched all of it, so I won't rate it, but I won't support it...obviously :lol: :lol: :lol: :P
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#236

Post by beavis »

kingink wrote: February 16th, 2021, 3:58 pm which made me laugh
When you understand what you're watching (I had the director presenting his movie in person at the IFFR) this is actually a pretty unique, and funny, project. I'm not sure if it is the most daring or the most self indulgent so far for him, but I do know I really liked it. It is a harder sell for the festival for sure, I'll grand you that. What a great guy though!!
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Post by St. Gloede »

I managed to see Classical Period yesterday, Beavis, and I'm afraid to say I did not quite get what it was going for. From my perspective, it would almost seem more fitting as an "experimental" film than indie - as from the beginning we see car noises overtake the audio of dialogue - and we get long readings and recitals - with a deadpan somewhere between Hal Hartley and Huillet/Straub - which mainly failed to be immersive. The acting style was trapped in a place where it neither seemed overtly comical or overtly austere, meaning it neither amused nor abstracted itself adequately for my sensibilities - and the end result left it feeling strained and frustrating.

There is quality here, especially in the scenes without dialogue - which has a rough kind of Rousseau feel too them - and there are some enjoyable exchanges - like the discussion of what architecture should be - which lead me to believe humour is a big part of the experience if you are on the same wavelength as this film - but as a whole I'm afraid it did not work for me.
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#238

Post by beavis »

I think you got the vibe of it... but just did not like it :)
Fendt is a great admirer of Straub/Huillet (for instance see the US DVD release of Othon where he was involved in). I love the ultra deadpan style so much. There is some humor in there, but I also felt a form of honesty that goes beyond the usual quirky/cute/(hipster?) attitude of the American independent/academic mode...
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#239

Post by St. Gloede »

Quick Stats

Even though we have only been open for 1 an a half months, and have 6 and a half months to go, we have made incredible progress.

Films nominated: 112

Viewings:
Seen by all: 0
Seen by five: 1 (Beanpole)
Seen by four: 8
Seen by three: 13
Seen by two: 34
-
Films that have only been seen by the nominator: 56

Support:

Top 5 (6) most supported films:

Beanpole (11)
Transit (10)
-
The Golden Glove (9) - All 3s
This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection (9) - All 3s
Promare (9) - All 3s
About Endlessness (9)

Films supported by five voters: 1 (Beanpole) - All
Films supported by four voters: 5
Films supported by three voters: 12

Soft support i.e. 2s and especially 1s may not stand as strongly in the final stages, so tracking the 3/3 successes may be more interesting this early in the game:

Films with at least three 3/3 votes: 3
Films with at least two 3/3 votes: 24
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#240

Post by beavis »

I love stats! :)

I think, if you're planning on doing these on a regular basis, it might be informative to also have an index of supported film per section, just tracking total amounts can give a more positive picture than the actual state of affairs...
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