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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 4, 2021

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 4, 2021

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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.

Hope you are all going well and are having a better week than me. We are back into Covid lockdown for the first time since April last year. :( Not a particularly great movie watching week either as I set out to complete a couple of unfinished sci-fi franchises. Next week should be better. I have a lot of promising things lined up for the February Challenges. And plenty of Covid lockdown time to watch them in until they make us teach from home again.

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

You and Me (1938). Opening with a musical number about cash registers and the importance of not shoplifting, this is a pretty bizarre noir entry from the get-go. Things only get stranger from there as the film turns into a look at one shopkeeper's altruism in employing ex-cons, then deflecting into a romance between two of his employees, a melodrama about a marriage they must keep secret and the list goes on. This unevenness does not make the film easy to digest and while some scenes certainly stick out (Sylvia Sidney lecturing other ex-cons on the mathematics of 'crime does not pay') the movie generally gets less interesting as it progresses. The whole notion of the two lovers keep their ex-con status secret from each other has potential, but as others have remarked, the material feels fitter for a screwball comedy, especially with the odd occasional songs here. (first viewing, online) ★

Spy Kids 3: Game Over (2003). His sister stuck in a virtual reality game, the boy spy kid tries to rescue her and stop the game's evil creator in this third Spy Kids film. It is a concept with potential, but the movie lacks the charm of the first two films which heavily relied on imaginative sets and gadgetry, instead replaced here by "low res" computer graphics. The chemistry between the young leads was always pivotal too, and Daryl Sabara struggles to carry the film on his own for over half the duration. There is a pretty awesome new character played by Courtney Jines at least - and Sylvester Stallone has fun hamming it up as the villain with multiple split personalities - but the whole thing leaves far too many unanswered questions, such as how the kids survive for days plugged into the quasi-matrix and Stallone's motivations beyond simply being evil. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011). After the dire third entry killed off the franchise nearly a decade earlier, this fourth film in the Spy Kids franchise feels like a breath of fresh air. It is not a great film by any means, relying too heavily on vomit/flatulence gags, pratfalls and silly sound effects for laughs, but the film returns to what made the original so great: outlandish sets, nifty gadgets and great chemistry between two young actors cast as brother and sister. While Alexa PenaVega and Daryl Sabara return in supporting roles, this is Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook's film all the way. The less said about the whole bizarre time stopping plot (and lame time gags) the better - same goes for Ricky Gervais as a mechanical dog - but if not quite up to the standard of the first two films, this captures their sense of adventure and childhood wonderment. (first viewing, online) ★★

Deja Vu (2006). Obsessed with a young woman who died under mysterious circumstances in a terrorist attack, a New Orleans detective tries to use top secret time travel technology to prevent the disaster in this convoluted sci-fi thriller. The pseudoscience does not make much sense, but it leads to some fascinating scenes as the protagonist becomes able to follow the terrorist in the past while walking and driving in the present. In any case, the biggest problem is not the flimsy sci-fi angle but rather that the sporadic action is not frequent or explosive enough to compensate for the narrative weaknesses at hand. In particular, the whole reason why he becomes so obsessed with her out of everyone never adds up, but then there are also far more scenes of the characters discussing what to do than actually doing anything. The film is at least seldom boring. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Third in the X-Men franchise and weaker than the two entries before it, The Last Stand comes with some impressive special effects parts (most notably involving the Golden Gate Bridge) and the curious notion of medically 'curing' mutants, but too often it feels like a melodrama. The Scott/Jean/Logan love triangle gets an excess of screen time; same goes for Rogue's desire for human touch. The whole debate over whether to cure mutants or not is interesting, as well as the fighting that it leads to, but the stakes feel low with all emphasis on the love and desire subplots. None of the new characters are ever as interesting as the Nightcrawler in X2 either. This certainly is not a bad film; it is technically well accomplished and even thrilling at times. It does though stand in the shadows of its predecessors. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). As per the title, this X-Men spin-off attempts to fill in the blanks in Wolverine's past that X2 brought up but never dealt with. It is an intriguing concept but a full film dedicated to his background is a bit much and the supporting characters end up stealing the spotlight. Not all are great, but Ryan Reynolds is so impressive with his quick wit and even quicker bullet deflection moves that it is easy to see why a separate spin-off franchise was given the green light for his character. Mutants with light bulb and card deck powers are pretty cool too. Less impressive are the attempts at comic relief, with Kevin Durand's weight problems making for especially uneasy gags. At the end of the day, this is not much better or worse than The Last Stand, but again the film feels several steps below X-Men and X2. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

X: First Class (2011). Arguably better than all of the other X-Men films before it, this entry from Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn is a prequel that fascinatingly chronicles the Professor, Magneto and Mystique during their childhood and young adult years. Especially interesting is the gradual shifts that we begin to notice in the latter two towards the veritable dark side with Michael Fassbender doing an especially good job handling his character's building anger and resentment. Nicholas Hoult's Beast aside, the rest of the mutant characters are sadly far less interesting and Vaughn tends to dwell too long on the training scenes that are hyperactively editing with excessive split screens. At over two hours long, the film feels a little bloated too, but as always Vaughn crafts the project with style and panache and it is an encapsulating ride. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

The Wolverine (2013). Taking place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, this Wolverine spin-off attempts to do something different just like X-Men Origins: Wolverine did by following one particular mutant and his adventures outside the events of the original trilogy. What drove Origins though was all the mystery surrounding Wolverine's past, whereas there is no intriguing mystery here. Origins also introduced the fascinating Deadpool and Bolt characters, among other mutants, whereas here we are limited to pretty much just one mutant who can deliver venom through her tongue. The result is a film that does not really feel like an X-Men movie whilst being no more interesting for all its daringness to different. There is a cool bullet train action scene are some of the effects are not half-bad, but the story is pretty average. (first viewing, DVD) ★

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). Sent back in time, Wolverine tries to prevent a dire future in this ambitious sequel that merges the younger selves from First Class with the older characters. It is an intriguing idea, but the film is not really about the older and younger selves interacting, nor is about temporal conundrums, alternate timelines and all related science fiction ideas. Disappointing as this is, the 1970s setting works well with bystanders capturing mutants on Super 8 video, a genuine recreation of the time period, a paranoid Nixon and an explanation for the JFK magic bullet. Evan Peters is also great as a new mutant character who can move at hyperspeed, though he is sadly underused. The film also ditches any attempt at continuity following the events of The Last Stand, but this is very decent if not as classy as First Class. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Set around a decade after the events of Days of Future Past, this follow-up continues the adventures of the mutants as they find themselves up against an evil mutant whose origins date back to Ancient Egypt. It is not a bad premise, but other than the ability to bury those who offend him inside walls and floors, Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse is not a great villain and it is kind of ridiculous how his mind control battles are depicted through physical fights. The internal continuity of the series seems more disrupted than ever too, especially in terms of character ages. Once again, Evan Peters is the brightest spark here, and again his hyperspeed is underused. Some of the other effects aren't too shabby and giving Magneto a family is neat, but his whole being pulled towards the 'dark side' definitely feels like a case of 'been there, done that'. (first viewing, online) ★

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019). Further ignoring the continuity of the franchise, this X-Men sequel is set in the 1990s and involves Jean Grey turning into Dark Phoenix... as already occurred in The Last Stand. Even pushing continuity issues to the side, however, the film does not make a whole lot of sense, introducing an intriguing chief villain in Jessica Chastain but then not bothering to explain who she is. The film actually starts off very well though. There is an exciting outer space scene as the movie toys with the notion of the X-Men helping humanity, and called upon by government agencies to solve problems, before questioning if Xavier is more interested in fame and glory than anything else. Alas, this plot deflection is soon cast aside for explosion action. Sophie Turner is hardly the most compelling actress either, though the rest cast are in decent form. (first viewing, online) ★

Sunset Song (2015). Mistreated by her parents, a free-thinking young woman finds independence and love after their deaths, but World War I threatens to interrupt her marriage in this drama from Terence Davies. Shot on location in the picturesque fields of Scotland, this is a beautiful-looking film, and the interiors look equally gorgeous, illuminated largely by candlelight. As a narrative though, Sunset Song is extremely dull. Everything that occurs feels melodramatic rather than down-to-earth and Davies has a tendency to bask in the magnificent sunsets and outdoor scenery he has captured, which results in the film being paced without any sense of urgency. Things do get a bit more interesting towards the end as we see and hear about the effects of World War II, but hampered by on/off overly descriptive narration, the protagonist is never easy to care about. (first viewing, online) ★

Indignation (2016). Surprised to receive a blow job on a first date, a stuffy college student immediately questions the character of his prospective girlfriend and how promiscuous she is in this 1950s-set drama that is pretty much as dreary as it sounds. There is certainly something to the premise since he is an arrogant and outspoken atheist who looks down upon others for believing in religion and yet who cannot see how judgmental he is - but it is not a lot to fuel a two-hour movie. The best bits are the verbal debates that the protagonist has with his college dean, played with gusto by Tracy Letts, but these parts are infrequent and the central relationship lacks sparks. Mostly though, it is just difficult to warm to the protagonist who actively tries not to fit in, evaluates women based on their legs, and then is anxious about dating a woman with loose morals! (first viewing, online) ★

Patti Cake$ (2017). In between taking care of her ailing grandmother and working in an unrewarding job, a heavyset young woman tries to break into the music scene as a rapper in this indie drama that has gained understandable comparisons to 8 Mile. The basic story is actually even more generic than that - it is your classic underdog tale - but it is pretty well done all things considered. Danielle Macdonald is solid in the lead role and the fact that she is not conventionally pretty and slightly uncouth brings much edge to the story; she is not instantly likeable, but the more we see about how much she cares and how deep her passion is, the more we become invested in her fate. Her mother likewise gradually shows extra dimension after initially coming across as selfish and disinterested in her daughter. The rap theme song "PBNJ" is awesome too. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Ex Libras (2017). Frederick Wiseman observes the goings-on of the New York Public Library in this observational documentary. Much like his other recent epic length projects National Gallery and At Berkeley, part of the focus is how the institute is funded and what those in charge are prepared to do to attract more funding. This is, however, sadly a much smaller part of Ex Libras than the other two films; this also feels far more unfocused, often lost in guest speaker scenes that tend to overtake the more intriguing shots of patrons simply using the library in diverse and varied ways. The documentary does capture a pretty intriguing digital technology slant with several staff members talking up the benefits of going digital and increasing information access, as well as the resistance to this, but again this takes a backseat to countless guest speakers. (first viewing, online) ★★

Decembers (2018). His photographer father killed during the US invasion of Panama in 1989, a boy is haunted by his memories as his father's ghost watches on here. Or something like that. The narrative at hand is hardly straightforward and the film assumes much prior knowledge of the incident, but even as someone not deeply familiar with the events, there is still much to like here. Particularly potent is the incorporation of actual footage of the invasion into the narrative with Panama's skies illuminated yellow and orange by the blasts and explosions. The young lead is pretty decent too. The father's monologues are less impressive, heavily weighted towards sentiment, but he also offers some interesting ruminations on capturing images, and there are some really striking images here of the Panamanian people washing the blood off their streets afterwards. (first viewing, online) ★★

Her Smell (2018). Constantly rude and dismissive of her closest friends, colleagues and daughter, a punk rocker changes her attitude when she finally sobers up in this indie drama from Alex Ross Perry. Sober in the second half of the film, Elisabeth Moss has several strong moments in this stretch - mostly notably playing piano with her daughter and agreeing to play with her outside. The first half of the movie though is borderline intolerable. There is no real plot but just mounting chaos as Moss dials it up to eleven in a scenery-chewing performance that makes her seem more like a caricature than character. And yet, even with an improved second half this leaves a bit to be desired. The point of the film never seems to be much more than a look at how different human beings can be when sober, which is not a lot of content to support a near epic length film. (first viewing, online) ★

And one revision:

Upgrade (2018). Even more compelling and tragic upon revision knowing everything to come, this sci-fi thriller plays out like Frank Henenlotter's Brain Damage crossed with a Cronenberg body horror film in the best possible way. The film involves a quadriplegic with an experimental chip installed in his neck which allows him to move his limbs, but the symbiotic relationship that he develops with the sentient chip goes awry. Some of the film's best ideas are under-developed (super-soldiers with Cronenberg body enhancements), but this is enticing from start to finish with all its artificial intelligence issues. The film also jumps between several genres and tones, including laugh-out-loud comedy, while always remaining cohesive, and the saturated colours, neon lighting and newfangled sets really enrich the experience. Same goes for the unusual music score. (second viewing, DVD) ★★★★
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#2

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Which Way to the Front? (1970, Jerry Lewis) 6

ぼけますから、よろしくお願いします。/ I Go Gaga, My Dear (2018, Naoko Nobutomo) 7

バッドフィルム / Bad Film (2012, 園子温/Sion Sono) 8-
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LA Plays Itself (1972, Fred Halsted ) 7-

Tapage nocturne / Nocturnal Uproar (1979, Catherine Breillat) 6+

Sarah préfère la course / Sarah Prefers to Run (2013, Chloé Robichaud) 4+

侍 / Samurai Assassin (1965, 岡本喜八/Kihachi Okamoto) 6+

Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike - Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital (theatrical cut) (2008, Alexander Kluge) 8
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Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht (Ludwig Berger, 1932) 7

Szenvedély / Passion (1998, György Fehér) 8-

The Big Mouth (1967, Jerry Lewis) 6+
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shorts

Ride on a Runaway Train / Lyman H. Howe’s Famous Ride on a Runaway Train (1921, Lyman H. Howe) 7

Happy-Go-Luckies (1923, producer: Paul Terry) 5+

Cityscape (2019, Michael Snow) 6

Who's Who in the Zoo (1942, Norm McCabe) 5

La pieuvre / The Octopus (1928, Jean Painlevé) (sorta-rewatch) 6

La plage / The Beach (1992, Patrick Bokanowski) (2nd+ viewing) 7


series

All in the Family - S01E03 - "Archie's Aching Back" (1971) 6

Twin Peaks - S2E22 - Beyond Life and Death (David Lynch, 1991) (3rd viewing) 7++


other

Good Health Practices (1953, Avis Films) (w/ RiffTrax) (2nd viewing) 3


didn't finish

Matatabi / The Wanderers (1973, Ichikawa Kon) [39 min]
Otoko no isshô / Her Granddaughter (2014, Ryuichi Hiroki) [24 min]
Karmen / Carmen (2003, Aleksandr Khvan) [10+ min]
Bérénice (1983, Raoul Ruiz) [12 min]


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We do not have to understand new things, but by dint of patience, effort and method to come to understand with our whole self the truths which are evident.Image
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01. 4.0* - Patlabor: The Movie [Kidô Keisatsu Patorebâ: The Movie] by Mamoru Oshii (1989)
The foundation for the masterpieces Oshii would serve in the two decades to follow. Together with Kenji Kawai and Kazunori Ito he would develop a style and tone that would fully materialize in films like Patlabor 2 and Ghost in the Shell, but the first glimpses are already visible here. A thoughtful sci-fi story sporting fun characters, a limited amount of top-notch action scenes and some very moody breathers. It can't compare to Oshii's greatest film, but it's still a blast.

02. 3.5* - Blue Hour [Burûawâ ni Buttobasu] by Yuko Hakota (2019)
An odd but compelling little drama. Hakota shows a lot of promise, both in handling the characters and the themes of Blue Hour. While the presentation was just a bit too safe for my liking, there are flashes of true genius here. With just a little extra stability, a masterpiece is definitely within reach. When Sunada and her friend have a little time to spare, they decide to visit Sunada's hometown for a visit to her family. Sunada isn't too proud of her rural roots, but being there unearths a lot of forgotten memories and emotions, some of which prompt her to reevaluate her current life. The performances of Kaho and Shim Eun-kyung are stellar, the chemistry between the two is truly off the charts. Hakota aptly balances deeper and darker moments with light comedy and there are quite a few poignant moments. The soundtrack's a bit underused though and visually it's just a little too predictable. But the potential is clearly here, I'll be keeping a close eye on Hakota. Fans of Japanese drama should definitely give this one a go.

03. 3.5* - L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties 2 [Jue Ji 2] by Jingming Guo (2020)
I didn't watch the first film (which I regret now), then again I didn't expect a lot from Guo's animated epic. China doesn't do CG that well and making a bold fantasy epic in 3D CG animation requires some solid technical capabilities. But lo and behold, while not a film without faults, Legend of Ravaging Dynasties 2 delivers the goods. Qi Ling and Yin Chen embark on a journey to save Gilgamesh, the last wish of the former Duke. Their trip is made a lot harder when You Ming, Thalia and Qi La show up. They're hellbent on stopping our heroes from reaching their goal, and they've got some mean tricks up their sleeves to accomplish just that. Guo is a young director, so it's no surprise that the film sometimes feels like an elongated cut scene from an unreleased Final Fantasy game. It's just not quite cinematic enough to be a real masterpiece, but the lore is compelling and intriguing, the action scenes are glorious and the film feels truly epic. The character models are a bit flimsy (faces can look very realistic, but the body language still feels off) and there are definitely some pacing issues, but the fantasy elements are more than sufficient to make me want to go back and watch the first film, while looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy. Good stuff.

04. 3.5* - Promising Young Woman by Emerald Fennell (2020)
Fennell's promising feature film debut is rightfully making some waves. There's quite a lot going on here, but Fennell juggles everything like a pro. It's one of those films that retains its mystery until the very end, though it lacks that little extra grit that could've turned it into a real masterpiece. Cassie still lives with her parents and works a boring day job in a local coffee shop. She was well on her way to become a doctor, but she dropped out of school and lost all will to make something of her life. At night, she frequents bars and pretends to be drunk, trapping unsuspecting predatory men and giving them a good scare. Promising Young Woman has everything to be a cynical, gutsy and relevant revenge thriller, but it feels like Fennell keeps pulling punches. There isn't really one identifiable thing that goes wrong, it's more like a series of missed opportunities that make it feel like the film didn't live up to its full potential. Still, some fine performances, strong cinematography and cheeky twists (not a big fan of the massacred pop songs though) make this a very worth debut.

05. 3.0* - Synchronic by Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead (2019)
The new Benson & Moorhead is a solid film, no doubt a worthy choice for genre fans, but when they get too serious about their subject they start to lose me. Synchronic could've been a simple, fun genre film, but they clearly envisioned something bigger. And that's where things start to fall apart. Dennis and Steve are two paramedics who stumble upon a new drug. When Dennis' daughter disappears after taking the drug, Steve starts an investigation on his own. The drugs acts as a time travel mechanism, but as it doesn't come with any explanation Steve has to figure out himself what the rules are. It's a silly premise and even though the film tries to come up with an explanation, it still makes very little sense. The time travel scenes are also a bit too complex for a little genre film like this, which takes away from the impact. Performances are decent and the soundtrack is pretty great, visually it's also pretty solid, but it's just a little too serious for its own good.

06. 3.0* - The City of Kong Fu by Majik Jingwei Zhou (2019)
A simple but amusing martial arts film. It's one of those popular Chinese TV productions that are a bit hard to gauge up front, but this was one of the better ones. Some solid action scenes, goofy kung fu masters, a little comedy and a clear bad guy who may think he's winning, but is about to get his ass kicked. Yi Li is a wannabe martial artist who roams Old Street, a tourist attraction that used to house a lot of martial arts schools. When he is hired by a wealthy group to help revive the glory of the street he gladly obliges, but little does he know that they are using him to get to the treasures of the former masters. Performances aren't great and the comedy is a little questionable, but once the film starts to focus more on the action that's quickly forgotten. There's nothing exceptional here, it surely can't compete with the better films in the genre, but if you're starved for some decent martial arts fun than this is a pretty solid bet.

07. 3.0* - Wrath of Daimajin [Daimajin Gyakushû] by Kazuo Mori (1966)
The third and final part in the Daimajin trilogy. This one is a bit more adventurous compared to the first two, though the setup still remains the same. That means you won't be seeing Daimajin spring into action until the final 20 minutes, which is still a damn shame. At least the rest of the film's a bit more enjoyable. Unsuspecting villagers are enslaved by Lord Arakawa to work in the sulfur pits. The children take it upon themselves to try and free their fathers, but the trek through the mountains is pretty treacherous. Luckily they get a little help from the big stone God, who ones again rises to fight for the fate of the innocent. This was easily the best-looking entry in the series. The snowy scenes in the mountain were pretty great and the finale was by far the most impressive of the three films. It's a shame that there's not quite enough variation in structure between the films, as it all felt a little too predictable the third time around. This was good kaiju fun though, definitely recommended for fans of the genre.

08. 3.0* - Sex, Love and Hate [Wu Yi] by Yuen Chor (1974)
Like Cheh Chang, famous Shaw Bros director Yuen Chor also loved to branch out once in a while. Unlike Chang, he had a penchant for romance. That sounds like a recipe for disaster (and sometimes it was), but Sex, Love and Hate is actually a pretty decent film. No doubt a bit sappy at times, but overall I liked it quite a bit more than I expected. Three women in contemporary Hong Kong are sharing a house together. They each have a very different idea of what love is supposed to be. Pai Mei wants to marry rich and live a comfortable life, Chu Tai just wants to get married at all cost and Yao Yao is saving herself for the right man. But love isn't that straightforward. The soundtrack isn't great and the drama is a bit much, but the cinematography elevates the film above the usual Shaw Bros fare and the film is actually quite atmospheric. Performances are decent and even though the characters are a little too stereotypical, Sex, Love and Hate succeeds in what it sets out to do. Not bad, just don't expect a typical Chor martial arts epic.

09. 2.5* - The Hourglass Sanatorium [Sanatorium pod Klepsydra] by Wojciech Has (1973)
Polish classic that is booked as one of the weirdest films in its history. And it makes good on that promise, as it's a very colorful and confusing film that uses its mysterious and surreal setting to tackle some pretty dark themes. While it starts off pretty promising, I wasn't entirely convinced by the time the film had ended. After a peculiar train ride, Jozéf arrives at a far off sanatorium to pay his dying father a visit. The reception is puzzling, but that's only a prelude to this mysterious place where time doesn't seem to behave as expected and where dreams, memories and fantasy all blend together to create one big, confusing experience. The setting and cinematography are impressive, sadly the props and costumes come off a lot cheaper. Performances aren't that great either and the darker second half takes away some of the film's appeal. People with a soft spot for the weird and creative owe it to themselves to give this one a fair chance, others should tread carefully. Interesting, but not entirely successful.

10. 2.5* - Soul Hunter by Wen Xu (2020)
A rather messy mix of fantasy and romance. Wen Xu shoots for the moon with Soul Hunter, but doesn't really have the budget nor the technical and creative chops to pull it off. The result is a film that shows quite a bit of promise, but trips itself up one too many times and left me behind somewhat unfulfilled. Yang Lie Xue is a soul hunter, a descendant from an alien race who help lost souls make their transition to the afterlife. She isn't very good at her job and because her family is famed for their immaculate track record, this results in quite a bit of friction. When Xue gets another chance to prove her worth, she decides to make a real effort. The fantasy lore is interesting enough and there are moments when Xu shows he could one day be a capable director, but overall the film looks too cheap, the fantasy elements are poorly conceived and some misplaced comedy didn't help much either. It's certainly not a terrible film, it's just that the potential was there to be great, it just never really materialized.

11. 2.5* - Yakuza Law [Yakuza Keibatsu-shi: Rinchi!] by Teruo Ishii (1969)
Teruo Ishii's mini-anthology on the code of the Yakuza. Three shorts each handle a different aspect of the code, though the setup of each story is very much alike. I'm not the biggest fan of this format to be honest, I prefer more varied anthologies, but at least Ishii makes sure things never gets boring. The first two shorts are set in ancient Japan (Edo and Taisho era) while the last one takes place in a more contemporary (and common Yakuza) setting. Though the title of the film focuses on the law part, Ishii has more interest in what happens when they are broken, which makes for some very gruesome punishments. While the exploitation elements are definitely fun, Ishii seemed a little too confident in the technical side of his production. Paint-like blood and rubber body replacements don't work that well from up close. The pacing is high though and there are some very nasty kills that will no doubt please genre fans.

12. 2.5* - Tully by Jason Reitman (2018)
Reitman has never been a full-on comedy director, but through the years it seems the fun and comedy has been slowly disappearing from his films. Tully is still booked as a comedy/drama, but I have to wonder if that it's just based on Reitman's profile or whether there's some sly comedy I simply didn't catch. Marlo struggles with her responsibilities as a mom. She has two kids and a third one the way, her husband isn't helping much around the house and her oldest is having troubles in school. Marlo is at the end of her wits, but things change when she hires Tully, a night nanny who helps her out so she can get a decent rest. It's not the most imaginative setting and even though Theron does her best, she'll still somewhat of a miscast. Once Davis hits the screen things get a little better, but some silly twists and questionably executed scenes in the second part don't do the film any good. Not a terrible film, just rather mediocre.

13. 2.5* - The Deserted City [Haishi] by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi (1984)
A surprisingly straightforward drama from Ôbayashi, set in Yanagawa (Japan's famous canal city - its demise was also captured in a documentary by Isao Takahata a few years later). While Ôbayashi tries to add some mystery and intrigue, it doesn't really stick and the result is a bit too cheesy for its own good. Eguchi thinks back of the time he spent writing his thesis in Yanagawa. At the time he lived in with the Kaibara household. When he hears the sound of tears at night, he goes out to investigate and becomes part of the drama that tears the family apart. The rest of the city is in pretty bad shape too. Performances are decent, but the intrigue simply doesn't work. Ôbayashi's style isn't very suited for serious films and when he tries to get poetic it just comes off silly. There are moments where his talent shines through and its certainly not a terrible film, just not on the same level as his other work.

14. 2.0* - Tomorrow Never Dies by Roger Spottiswoode (1997)
Brosnan's second Bond is a somewhat middling affair. Director Spottiswoode revisits some old settings/tricks and piles on a bunch of additional action. The problem is that Brosnan isn't the best action hero and with so many things blowing up, there isn't that much time left for him to be his most charming self. Carver is a wealthy media mogul who plans to launch a worldwide news coverage agency. Behind the scenes he's staging and manipulating highly volatile political scuffles, in order to produce scoops for his network. Bond is sent in to investigate as he's had a past with Carver's wife. Brosnan doesn't quite feel at home with so many bullets flying around, Yeoh's martial arts skills are underused and Pryce must be one of the blandest bad guys yet. There are some nifty action scenes and the film's a tad shorter than usual, but there's nothing really memorable about this Bond entry.

15. 2.0* - Z by Costa-Gavras (1969)
1969 must be one of the most political years in cinema. It's no surprise then that Z is a police thriller that deals with fascism, socialism and capitalism, though at its core it offers a pretty basic police investigation where some dedicated investigator goes to great lengths to solve a mysterious cover-up. The death of a respected left-wing politician during a rather violent protest shocks the public. At first, it looks like an act of terrorism, but then stories start popping up that he was assassinated by his political rivals. More and more evidence points in that direction, but the investigator has to wiggle by some high-ranking officials to get to the truth. Z is an amusing film, but that's about it. The political context is little more than dressing and the investigation is very by the numbers. More and more clues push the investigator into the right direction, who doesn't have to do much but wait until everything is thrown into his lap. It's not really a genre I'm very fond of and I didn't see anything too special here, but it was decent enough.

16. 2.0* - The Mad Phoenix [Nan Hai Shi San Lang] by Clifton Ko (1997)
Clifton Ko is capable of delivering a decent comedy once in a while, but drama has never been his strong point. It's not really a big surprise then that The Mad Phoenix, a lengthy biography about a talented but deviant Chinese opera writer, doesn't come across as a very capable film. Kiang Yu-Kou's intellect is apparent even at a very young age, but his arrogance doesn't make him very popular. He spends his time watching Chinese opera and even tries his hand at writing one himself, but his blossoming career is cut short when the Japanese invade Shanghai and the war starts. The film's a bit oldskool for a '97 Hong Kong project but fails to revive its glory of just half a decade ago. Performances are weak, the cinematography is a little disappointing and overall the project feels rather cheap. Might be better for people who are more acquainted with the subject, though they might be bothered by Ko's inability to fully suppress his comedy background. Not great.

17. 2.0* - Django by Sergio Corbucci (1966)
Slightly more amusing than its US counterparts. After seeing at least two contemporary films based on Django's character, it was time to get acquainted with the original. I'm not a big fan of westerns and probably never will be, but the original is at least a bit juicier compared to other films in the genre. Django arrives in a little town close to the Mexican border. The town is overrun by members of the Klan and a group of Mexican bandits, turning the town into one big lawless battlefield. Django tries to keep out of their affairs, but inevitably gets drawn into their rivalries, with deadly consequences. The characters are a bit livelier and there's a stronger focus on action, which makes it a little easier to sit through. I still don't care much for the setting and there's still too much posing and boring conversation to make it truly entertaining, but compared to its peers Django is a breath of fresh air.

18. 1.5* - The H-Man [Bijo to Ekitainingen] by Ishirô Honda (1958)
A pretty disappointing Honda. I even had to double-check whether I got the right film, as it starts as a plain police/crime thriller. Not really what I expected from a Honda film, later on minor horror elements are added and his signature style starts to shine through a little, but overall it remained quite boring. The police are trying to track down a gang of criminals who have the uncanny capability to disappear on the spot. The police is clueless, until one of the cops discovers they might have taken part in a nuclear test. Their bodies became unstable and they turn to goo whenever they're touched. The effects are crummy, Honda isn't really suited to direct cop thrillers and the performances are quite poor. It's just a very sluggish and dull film. The finale quarter is slightly better as things heat up (quite literally), but watching transparent goo isn't as much fun as seeing someone prance around in a rubber suit. Not a fan.

19. 1.0* - Kill! [Kiru] by Kihachi Okamoto (1968)
I'm not a big fan of chanbara (samurai films), which is somewhat required to get the most out of Kill!. It isn't entirely straight-faced and toys with genre conventions, but that's difficult to appreciate when you don't care much for the genre. Okamoto based Kill! on the same material as Kurosawa's Sanjuro, a film I've seen but hardly remember anything about. A ronin arrives in a barren town, hoping to find a bit of work. The town looks deserted, not too long ago an uprising took place there, so the ronin appears to be dead out of luck. Desperate for food, he gets caught in a local feud that goes way above his head, but his will to survive is strong. Kill! is just a smidgen over-the-top, which doesn't read as very funny when you're not too versed in rules of the genre. I mostly saw a very familiar setup with the usual elements I dislike about chanbara cinema. Crude characters, uninteresting drama and poor action scenes. Maybe I'll revisit it once I've seen more core genre efforts, but for now this was a big disappointment.

20. 1.0* - The Amityville Asylum by Andrew Jones (2013)
Cheaper than cheap. The Amityville Asylum has little to do with the Amityville franchise, it's just a film about a mental asylum that tries to lure a few extra viewers by referencing a famous brand. I guess it helped as I ended up watching the film, but the result is even poorer than most films in the actual franchise (and that's a pretty low bar). So they tore the Amityville house down and put an asylum in its place. Lisa gets hired as a cleaner, but soon enough her job starts to take a serious toll on her mental health. The caretakers mistreat the patients, see sees apparitions and the ward with the criminally insane is a vile place to clean. Cue a sinister plot. The film is just really amateurish. Performances are crap, the sound mix is hilarious (with much of the music fully drowning out the dialogues) and the cinematography is substandard. Some moments are moody, but they're completely overshadowed by the poor execution elsewhere. A bland and cheap attempt to cash in on a franchise that isn't very good to begin with.

21. 1.0* - Embers [Sholay] by Ramesh Sippy (1975)
Embers feels a bit like a Tears of the Black Dragon avant la lettre. A very colorful, Asian reimagining of the western genre. That sounds like a lot of fun, and truth be told there are moments when it actually is. The problem is that they're hidden deep within an overly long and ill-focused film. Gabbar is a mean criminal who made many enemies in his time. When he kills the family of an officer, the man decides it's time to get rid of Gabbar once and for all. He recruits two small-time criminals and tasks them with tracking Gabbar down and killing him before he can do any more harm. The colorful cinematography and light tone are a pleasant departure from the norm, the plot is simple but leaves enough room for some genre fun. The problem is that the film gets way too serious, jumps from one genre to the next and grossly overstays its welcome. The usual Bollywood complaints in other words. A real shame, as with some serious trimming this could've been a pretty acceptable film.

22. 1.0* - Ballad of a Soldier [Ballada o Soldate] by Grigoriy Chukhray (1959)
Russian classic that felt a lot less remarkable than many of its peer. Not that I'm a big fan of Russian cinema, nor their classics, but even I can't deny they've made some very particular, often unique films throughout the years. In comparison, Ballad of a Solider came off rather plain and pedestrian, a simple war drama where the protagonists just happen to be Russian. After destroying two German tanks, private Alyosha is branded a hero. Rather than accept a medal, he asks for leave so that he can visit his mom. His wish is granted, but his voyage home is not without trouble. He meets up with various people as he tries to get to his destination in time. Performances are bland, the cinematography is rather dull and the drama is extremely predictable. I couldn't really find the appeal of this film, nor how it earned its status as one of the big classics. At least the film isn't too long, but after about 30 minutes I grew tired of it and it didn't get any better after that. Disappointing.
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#4

Post by lynchs »

sun 10/18
a bad week?

percepção 2/11
gay XXX? I'll try to see it, why not?

Onderhond 10/22
also a bad week?
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#5

Post by RolandKirkSunglasses »

Made it through another year in my Japanese challenge and whittled through almost all my old favourites I'd been meaning to rewatch for several years. Also found time to sit through a famous trilogy I've never been interested in just to see what all the fuss is about.


Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District (1956): Two drifters struggling for work and money end up in Tokyo's red light district. She isn't thrilled about returning to an environment she left behind (she once worked in a brothel) but she knows she's gotta hustle to get out of there. Her proud husband can't adapt to the changing circumstances. They're helped out by a friendly bar owner still yearning for her husband's return. Some plot developments are telegraphed in advance but it's an interesting look at the darker side of Tokyo.

Flowing (1956): All-star cast of Japanese actresses make this largely plotless story an enjoyable look at the dying geisha industry. One of Naruse's better films lacking in a little intensity.

Love Streams (1984): Final film of John Cassavetes, playing a famous playboy writer even though we never seem him writing. His story arc fires up when his son drops by, we see his complete inability to see things from his son's side, he's a lousy father. Gena Rowlands is a scatterbrain going through divorce, her story arc along with her incredible performance makes the film bearable. As expected in Cassavetes directing some scenes needlessly drag.

3 Women (1977): An intriguing film with enough vagueness to hint at greater depths under the surface. Shelley Duvall is a lonely woman feigning popularity to impress those around her. Sissy Spacek turns up and seems to idolise her at first, insinuating herself into Shelley's life as their personalities start to blend. A third woman walking along the outer edges of the story adds another personality to merge with the other two. No doubt influenced by "Persona", it certainly keeps you hooked until the ending even if it doesn't always make sense.

The Thick-Walled Room (1956): A social commentary on post-war Japan seen through the eyes of Japanese prisoners branded as "war criminals". We learn about the prisoners through flashbacks, war is hell indeed but how guilty are these soldiers who simply had to obey their superiors? Which direction should Japan take in the future? A good film by Masaki Kobayashi that was shelved for years due to its politically sensitive material.

The Balloon (1956): OK story of changing attitudes in Japan, the head of a camera company's son is seeing two women. OK film from Yuzo Kawashima, funny to see a character called Haruki Murakami.

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969): Bizarre, funny and shocking, I can definitely see where Kubrick got his ideas for "Clockwork Orange" from.

His Girl Friday (1940): My absolute favourite screwball comedy, brimming with energy and never stopping for breath, the chemistry and rapid-fire dialogue between Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant makes a great ride to the known conclusion.

The Cremator (1969): Excellent lead performance makes this subversive tale of a Crematorium manager's descent into madness all the more entertaining. Once you discover it's set on the eve of World War II (the settings and costumes look like late 60s) you know what's in store. The sparkling camerawork makes us see things from his perspective, would be disturbing if it wasn't so funny.

The Fire Within (1963): Louis Malle's story of a disaffected twenty-something looking for a reason to live. He visits his old friends in search of answers but comes up empty. They all want to help him out, they don't want to lose him but he seems resigned to his fate. Pretty good, not great.

An Actor's Revenge (1963): Visually inventive, playful, simple storyline that never takes itself seriously, Kazuo Hasegawa is brilliant as a revenge-seeking female-impersonator and as the master thief ironically commenting on the unfolding plot. Great film.

Star Wars (1977): Basically a B-movie western set in space. The stormtroopers' atrocious aim really spoiled the movie, up until that point it was almost believable, didn't enjoy it but it's not the worst offender of the trilogy.

Empire Strikes Back (1980): Opening 10 minutes add little to nothing to the story, the whole film feels like a set-up to the twist. Hans Solo has an unconvincing romance with Leia while Luke disobeys Yoda and Obi-Wan to get his hand lopped off. Best film of the trilogy despite the lack of dramatic heft and glacial pace.

Return of the Jedi (1983): Made to sell lots of merchandise, goes absolutely nowhere and Darth Vader's personality change is utterly ridiculous. Worst of the bunch.

L'Eclisse (1962): Divine cinematography, gorgeous framing, fabulous direction, but this time I found it really hard to sit through it all. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood but I didn't enjoy this rewatch as much as I hoped.

Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962): Utterly love this movie, inventive, playful and thought-provoking, it packs a lot into 90 minutes.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927): First third of the movie is excellent, it loses steam in the extended city scenes, a fine silent film but I've seen better.

Eight Hours of Terror (1957): This ain't "Arigato-san". Seijun Suzuki's thriller about a microcosm of Japanese society riding a rickety bus through dangerous mountain paths, two wanted criminals highjack the bus, suddenly the on-board prisoner who murdered his wife doesn't look so threatening. Decent early Suzuki, not as wild as his later works.

Throne of Blood (1957): Atmospheric reimagining of Shakespeare's "MacBeth". Isuzu Yamada and the weather are the real stars of the show as a couple scenes drag longer than necessary, beautiful photography though. One of Kurosawa's better films.

Black River (1957): A nice student and a psychotic gangster are both interested in the same girl. Early chance for Tatsuya Nakadai to practise his cold, psychotic persona he'd perfect in the 60s, another look at the seedy underbelly of Tokyo society, another solid film by Masaki Kobayashi.

Kuchizuke (1957): Early new wave flick about two teenagers joined together by their fathers stuck in prison. Not the most extravagant film ever made but still pretty effective.

A Brighter Summer Day (1991): Saw this over 10 years ago and couldn't quite understand it all fully, but I knew I had seen a masterfully directed 4 hour epic that doesn't drag. Watching it again with more experience and knowledge, it's a thoroughly enjoyable epic, my favourite film of the 1990s and Edward Yang's best film.

Journey to the beginning of Time (1955): OK adventure flick from Karel Zeman, not so educational nowadays and the 4 boys in the film don't have much to do, but you have to admire the animated dinosaurs, maybe not the stock-footage leopard. Not as good as "Invention for Destruction".
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#6

Post by lynchs »

RolandKirkSunglasses 19?/23
All time classics?

If I had to choose one, it will be Suzaki Paradise:)
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#7

Post by Lakigigar »

The Beach Bum (2019) 8/10
Mud (2012) 8/10
Joker (2019) 10/10
Green Room (2015) (rewatch) 6/10
Baby Driver (2017) 9/10
Hard Candy (2005) 7/10
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#8

Post by lynchs »

Lakigigar 5/6

not seen The Beach Bum, Green Room was the most entertainment of the bunch;)
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#9

Post by prodigalgodson »

Mountain in Shadow (Lois Patiño, 2012) 8/10

Ravishing high-contrast mythic-proportions experience of a mountain's ski slopes; digital aestheticism at its most refined. Thanks to Viktor Emil for putting me on to Patiño.

In Landscape's Movement (Lois Patiño, 2012) 7/10

Patiño seems to have quite a singular eye; you wouldn't mistake his images for those of Benning, Hutton, or any of the usual suspects, even without the apparent slight digital manipulation. Enjoyed all seven shots, though I didn't find the human figure added anything aside from an otherwise absent cohesive element (except when silhouetted against steam in the third-to-last, where the figure is necessary to the shot's effect).

Brouillard Passage #14 (Alexandre Larose, 2013) 6/10

It's raining in LA tonight; perfect time to crack the window and watch some silent experimental film. This is an interesting project, 39 superimposed 10-minute walks along a path from the filmmaker's family home. The idea seems to be to approximate his subjective conception of this familiar space, with the layered shots standing in for simultaneously-felt memories of various points in the past. Can't say the blurred, oversaturated result resembles any form of memory I can personally relate too, but it's a groovy concept, there are some cool moments, and the ending's great. Nice to see another approach while I'm working on my own film about memory and habitual spaces.

I watched a few other shorts too but wanna rewatch before I comment.
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#10

Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

I de-escalated my film viewings this week, or: I had other stuff to do.

지금은맞고그때는틀리다 / Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-Soo, 2015) - 8+

Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind (John Gianvito, 2007) - 8+
This is probably one of the simplest but most intelligent documentaries I've ever seen. A potpourri of cinematic sensibilities we know (and love) from Straub-Huillet, Farocki and (early) Errol Morris. Genuine socialist filmmaking.

George Washington (David Gordon Green, 2000) - 7-
What a strange career Green have had.

The Casting (Omer Fast, 2007) - 6+

Lux Æterna (Gaspar Noé, 2019) - 7
No one can turn experimental filmmaking into the most mainstream thing like Gaspar Noé.
I actually think there's some interesting ideas in this, but it's also self-absorbed, kitschy and made in a vacuum. But hands down for Noé that he once again rethinks credits in film.

Out of the Blue (Dennis Hopper, 1980) - 6
Quite underwhelming actually - I would have loved this 6 years ago.

Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven, 1995) - 8

+ the first episode of Babylon Berlin (Henk Handloegten, Tom Tykwer & Achim von Borries, 2017-), which was (surprisingly!) really great.
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#11

Post by lynchs »

prodigalgodson 3/3
go experimental, silent or not;)
Only enjoyed 3 from him: Fajr, Montaña en sombra and Costa da morte

Larose's Brouillard Passage #14 was kool:)
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#12

Post by lynchs »

viktor-vaudevillain 3/7

Love/like Hong Sang-Soo's films but this is one I didn't care so much
Out of the Blue - 70s madness
Showgirls - cult classic ? too campy for me

I know the name, but I never started Babylon Berlin.
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#13

Post by peeptoad »

Hi sol and everyone...
Sol, of yours this week I've only seen X Men Last Stand, which I disliked, one of those Wolverine movies (not even sure if it's Origins or the other one), which I found middling at best, and Upgrade, which I thought was quite good, but I didn't love it (i.e. 7+/10). The latter might be closer to an 8 since I slightly revamped my rating scale since I've seen it.
RolandKirkSunglasses wrote: January 31st, 2021, 5:15 pm The Cremator (1969): Excellent lead performance makes this subversive tale of a Crematorium manager's descent into madness all the more entertaining. Once you discover it's set on the eve of World War II (the settings and costumes look like late 60s) you know what's in store. The sparkling camerawork makes us see things from his perspective, would be disturbing if it wasn't so funny.
Love this one. Prob my favorite Herz so far, right ahead of Morgiana.

Haven't seen anyone else's views this week...

...and I'm at work (I feel like I never leave this place some weeks, but at least I got my new ID activated and it's working properly now and there is fresh coffee in the break room).
From memory my most prominent (though not best) view last week was watching Eight for Silver at the remote Sundance on Saturday night with a couple of my friends. The movie was okay (6/10), but the experience of forcing my non-cinematic friends to sit still and QUIET for the running time of a film that I paid in advance for was worth it. We actually had quite a good time, but my friends (they're married- duh) somehow go into a raging argument during the first 15 minutes so I had to lay down the law (and we were in my home, so you abide or get out). We also got drunk on homemade cider that was 12% and the best I have ever tasted (I'm not a cider or beer person normally). The fact that I have more to say about the viewing experience and not the film I guess tells the tale, but if Sundance is remote again next year (or any other major ff that I can view from this continent) then I would not hesitate in the least partaking again.
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#14

Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

@sol:

Her Smell - 6 - I kinda liked the cassavettian style of this.
New York Public Library - looking forward to (when I feel like having the time) watching all the Wiseman's from the last century.
Sunset Song - 7+ - I generally like Davis' style. Such a delicate cinematic sensibility.
Deja Vu - one of my big blank spots from the 00's - looking forward.
Spy Kids 3: Game Over - might have seen it way back then?
X-Men: The Last Stand - seen it, don't remember much.

@PdA:
Seems like great viewings this week!
Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike - Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital - looking forward to watching this some day
Cityscape - 8
La pieuvre - 7+ - I love all kinds of mollusc's and octopoda's, though I like Painlevé's later works more than his early ones.
La plage - 7

@Onderhond:
seen none this week.

@RolandKirkSunglasses
lots of great stuff this week, huh?

favorites: Love Streams, 3 Women, L'Eclisse, Cleo from 5 to 7, A Brighter Summer Day.
really good: The Fire Within, His Girl Friday, Funeral Parade of Roses, Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District
meh: The Cremator, the star wars' (though I haven't seen those in a really long time).
Need rewatch: Sunrise
Really looking forward: Throne of Blood, Flowing

@Lakigigar:
Don't really like any of those I've seen of yours. Kinda looking forward to The Beach Bum.

@prodigalgodson:
Mountain in Shadow - glad you enjoyed it. Haven't seen In Landscape's Movement yet.
Brouillard Passage #14 - (l) (l) (l) love this. Actually this and Mountain competes for best experimental short of the 10's for me.
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#15

Post by Lonewolf2003 »

My viewings in the last week of the first month of 2021:

Crack in the World (1965, Andrew Marton): 5.8 - Dana Andrews is a scientist who has discovered an endless energy source by tapping into the power of the earth’s core, to reach that core he decides, despite warning from his younger colleague to blast his way through the earth’s crust. Which of course backfires and results in... you can guess it... a fissure in the earth. This feels mostly like a cheap version of a 60s disaster movies. It isn't particular good, the plot and characters utterly predictable and clichéd, the effects are second-rate and there is plenty use of stock footage, but the cliched human drama is done adequate and the pace is sufficient enough to pass the time.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019, Michael Dougherty)
: 7.5 -- I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this. It suffers less from the shortcomings of its predecessor which I already liked too. While some of the action is still too dark, most of it is brighter and better to follow. That action is very spectacular and delivers on what you can expect from CGI monster clashing into each other. The human plot was also better, with better drawn and more interesting characters. Plus the human plot was well interwoven into the franchise building and kaiju action. Maybe it's is because I just come of my huge Godzilla bench, but most of all I just loved the many references to the old franchise, like calling Gidorah monster zero, and the incorporation of the classic Mothra and Godzilla themes into the score. This was just a highly enjoyable and successful blockbuster and it makes me actually exciting for this year's(? you never know with this pandemic) Godzilla vs. Kong.

Pan (2015, Joe Wright): 4.0 - Joe Wright in my eyes had already proven himself to be a talented director, so despite its bad reputation I was still curious to see this. The direction is the least of this movie problem, there still are some creative and inspired moments. The casting and acting is a bigger problem already. Both Peter Pan and Hook are miscast and having Tiger Lily played by Rooney Mara is an absolute horrible choice (nothing against Rooney, who in fact gives one of the better performance). On top of that the acting is horrible, most of all from an unrecognizable Hugh Jackman. The biggest problem however is the writing. It's a wonder this plot even got made. When I discovered after a few minutes that this was meant to be an origin story for Peter I already had severe doubts about the premise. Almost 2 hours of cliché-ridden plot later I was totally convinced there is absolute no need for this movie to exist. Furthermore it lacks sense of childhood fun a movie about the Boy Who Won’t Grow Up should have.

Shin Gojira [Shin Godzilal] (2016, Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi): 7.5 - By shifting the focus on to the governmental reaction to the crisis that is Godzilla Anno and Higuchi put an original spin on this remake of the first movie in which Godzilla (again) is an unknown giant monster that terrorizes Tokyo.Turning it more into a procedural than a disaster movie. The depiction of this reaction feels very realistic. It also doesn't shy away from satirizing the less competent and political aspects. While this may sound dull, through some excellent editing and a breathtaking pace Anno and Higuchi keep the movie highly engaging the whole way trough. It's admirable how captivating this makes seeing scientist trying to figure out what is and how to deal with this monster or bureaucracy how to respond to all the (possible) mayhem. On top of that Godzilla himself has never been more terrifying and the destruction he causes is truly tremendously chilling. While meant as being about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, this is now again very topical with the ongoing pandemic crisis.

Gojira: Kaijû Wakusei [Godzilla: Monster Planet/Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters] (2017, Kôbun Shizuno & Hiroyuki Seshita): 3.8
Gojira: kessen kidô zôshoku toshi [Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle] (2018, Kôbun Shizuno & Hiroyuki Seshita): 4.2
Gojira: hoshi wo kû mono [Godzilla: The Planet Eater] (2018, Kôbun Shizuno & Hiroyuki Seshita): 4.5 - If nothing else this Godzilla anime trilogy is at least ambitious in trying to do something new with the Godzilla series. I can respect they mainly use them as means for some philosophical discussion about human nature. Alas they completely fails in the execution. Sacrificing decent plotting and good characterization for some half-baked ideas. More so the philosophical discussion are more often sleep inducing than thought provoking. The action also vastly disappoints. Godzilla just kind of stands still, he does even less than he did in those old movies in which they at least had good budgetarry reasons for him to do little. On top of that I also didn't like the animation style.

Tabi no Owari, Sekai no Hajimari [To the Ends of the Earth] (2019, Kiyoshi Kurosawa): 7.2 - About a women travel show reporter in Uzbekistan, who like so many find herself searching for herself and learning a thing or two about prejudices when in a totally different environment. It's very well directed and deliberately paced movie, but it does feel like we have seen this umpteenth times before.

Terminator Genisys (2015, Alan Taylor): 6.5 - The problem with the Terminator series is that the first two are such highlights, that any subsequent entry not living up to those reputations seems like a major dissapointment. While in fact this compared to your average sci-fi blockbuster is just an okay enjoyable average sci-fi blockbuster with a good pace thanks to a lot of action sequences.

Super Mario Bros. (1993, Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton & Dean Semler): 5.5 - Hard to rate this, cause I was constantly torn between being amazed by how bat shit crazy it is and stupefied how moronic it is and how it’s has nothing to do with the videogame.

Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It. [Gas-s-s-s] (1970, Roger Corman): 3.5 - Starts promising with a fun animated intro. But rapidly declines into incoherent nonsense. I suppose this is meant to be a satire on (counter)-culture, but it’s painfully unfunny.

I basilischi [The Basilisks/The Lizards] (1963, Lina Wertmüller): 7.8 - Impressive debut by Wertmüller, from who this is also the first movie I see. The comparison to Fellini's I vitelloni in both theme and style is understandable and justified.

Love Story (1970, Arthur Hiller): 6.2 - The romance between O'Neal and MacGraw is okay. I liked the most how the tedious father-son relationship is more to fault to the sons own hotheadedness than the perceived fathers stubbornness. Who can be seen as an old-fashioned man trying to reach out to his son in his own way. No wonder they used the best actor for that small part to convey all this. Unfortunately the movie infuses some unnecessary tragic drama into the last act by making one of the leads terminally ill.

The Fast and the Furious (2001, Rob Cohen)
: 5.5 - Primarily it adequately gives what to expect from it; some dumb fun with fast cars, hot chicks and cool stunts. But it also tries to go for the whole Point Break plot of "undercover cop questioning his loyalties and befriends the criminals" plot, but fails to really convey this through the emotion of the characters. Don't know who's to blame for this more, the acting or the writing. Probably both equally guilty.

In the Heart of the Sea (2015, Ron Howard): 6.0

Unsane (2018, Steven Soderbergh): 6.8 - Soderbergh; the man who quit moviemaking until he discoverd the iPhone. :lol: This movie starts well as being about woman whose grips on reality is nicely ambiguous. I had some severe doubts when the twist comes halfway the movie. But settles into an okay tense thriller after that. Soderbergh's use of an iPhone to film this really heightens the unsettling paranoiac claustrophobic mood. Foy does a fine job in carrying the movie.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003, John Singleton) rewatch: 5.0 > 4.0 - Again offers some fast cars, hot chicks and cool stunts. It also swaps one of the things the first had going for it; a look into the streetracers subculture for a thirteen in a dozen infiltration in drugs smuggler ring story. At least the car races and stunts were shot okay.
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#16

Post by lynchs »

Lonewolf2003 7?/17
Lonewolf2003 wrote: February 1st, 2021, 4:30 pm Soderbergh; the man who quit moviemaking until he discoverd the iPhone.
That was funny... hilarious B)
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#17

Post by prodigalgodson »

sol
You and Me - one of the few American Langs I haven't seen, but doesn't sound like I'm missing much...
X-Mens - think I've seen all of these except Dark Phoenix, which I fell asleep halfway through, and found them almost uniformly overstuffed and awful; I liked The Wolverine pretty well and didn't think X-Men Origins: Wolverine (the nonexistent sub-series implied by the title cracks me up) was as bad as its reputation

pda
La plage - pretty sure I've seen this and enjoyed it but don't have any record of it
Beyond Life and Death - one of the highlights of the series

hond
Promising Young Woman 9 - nice, glad you liked it
Tomorrow Never Dies - one of my least favorite Bonds, and yeah terrible villain/motivation
Django 6 - aesthetically the opposite of my cup of tea, but pretty solid

roland
Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District 8 - not quite a masterpiece but a great, affecting film nonetheless
Flowing 7 - not among my favorite Naruses, but still good stuff obviously
Love Streams 4 - I'm not the biggest Cassavettes fan to begin with, but this one did draaag
Funeral Parade of Roses 7 - maybe a bit overhyped, but still a very cool, innovative film
His Girl Friday 8 - I'd give Bringing Up Baby the edge, but this is fantastic too
The Fire Within 6 - seems like something that'd have been right up my alley at the time I saw it, but I found it pretty uninspired
Star Wars 8 - aww the stormtrooper's (lack of) aim is part of the charm!
The Empire Strikes Back 9 - love this film, plays like a vivid dream
Return of the Jedi 7 - my favorite when I was a kid, so I've got a soft spot for it, but yeah, pretty obviously the weakest
L'eclisse 6 - think I've seen this twice, and once on film (?), but yeah other than that final metamorphosis into abstraction it hasn't blown me away
Cleo from 5 to 7 8 - delightful filmmaking
Sunrise 9 - felt the same way as you the first time, but on revisiting the city stuff has felt like some of the most pure expression of joy cinema has to offer
Throne of Blood - didn't care for it much at the time, but it's been too long to really say
A Brighter Summer Day 10 - yup, one of the unequivocal masterpieces of the medium

laki
Joker 8 - legit good stuff, my gf's favorite of all time when we saw it
Baby Driver 6 - not really my kind of thing, but cute and well made

vv
Right Now, Wrong Then 7 - not one of Hong's masterpoxen, but still very good stuff
George Washington - indeed haha; wouldn't mind seeing this at some point
Out of the Blue 8 - wonder if I'd like it less now haha; curious what you'd think of The Last Movie
Showgirls 9 - a legit great film, or at least I remember thinking so at the time
Brouillard Passage #14 - if the aesthetic works for you, I can definitely see this being a favorite; one I'd much prefer to watch on film

lonewolf
Gas-s-s-s-s 7 - speaking of Corman stoner flicks...
2 Fast 2 Furious - pretty baaad; might've seen the first one too, but obviously didn't make much of an impression

Where's kong? :mw_confused:
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#18

Post by sol »

peeptoad wrote: February 1st, 2021, 2:02 pm Hi sol and everyone...
viktor-vaudevillain wrote: February 1st, 2021, 4:00 pm @sol:
prodigalgodson wrote: February 3rd, 2021, 7:42 am sol
Thanks, guys. I appreciate you reading my reviews this week and taking the time to comment, but between the new harsh Covid restrictions that have suddenly come into place here, plus the fact that half of my city is on fire, I'm not really in the mood to attend to this thread. Maybe next week...
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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#19

Post by peeptoad »

sol wrote: February 3rd, 2021, 9:03 am
peeptoad wrote: February 1st, 2021, 2:02 pm Hi sol and everyone...
viktor-vaudevillain wrote: February 1st, 2021, 4:00 pm @sol:
prodigalgodson wrote: February 3rd, 2021, 7:42 am sol
Thanks, guys. I appreciate you reading my reviews this week and taking the time to comment, but between the new harsh Covid restrictions that have suddenly come into place here, plus the fact that half of my city is on fire, I'm not really in the mood to attend to this thread. Maybe next week...
I hope things improve down there, sol... stay safe.
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#20

Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

prodigalgodson wrote: February 3rd, 2021, 7:42 am vv
Right Now, Wrong Then 7 - not one of Hong's masterpoxen, but still very good stuff
George Washington - indeed haha; wouldn't mind seeing this at some point
Out of the Blue 8 - wonder if I'd like it less now haha; curious what you'd think of The Last Movie
Showgirls 9 - a legit great film, or at least I remember thinking so at the time
Brouillard Passage #14 - if the aesthetic works for you, I can definitely see this being a favorite; one I'd much prefer to watch on film
On a theoretical level I liked Right Now, Wrong Then more than many of his other films, but it didn't have the same emotional impact as some of his other films have had on me. It definitely takes a master to pull off the structural and metaphysical glitches present in RN, WT.

I'm going to watch The Last Film sometime this year as well. Hope to like that one more - at least on paper it seems like the more experimental of Hopper's directorial efforts. Then I hope to watch it back to back with Filipino director Raya Martin's kinda remake of it, La última película.

Showgirls - it probably deserves a 9 or a 10. I especially loved the cyclical narrative. It's probably one of the most nietzschean American films of the 90's.

Brouillard Passage #14 - I actually missed the opportunity to watch it in a cinema near me a couple of years back. I still regret it...
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#21

Post by prodigalgodson »

viktor-vaudevillain wrote: February 5th, 2021, 10:33 am On a theoretical level I liked Right Now, Wrong Then more than many of his other films, but it didn't have the same emotional impact as some of his other films have had on me. It definitely takes a master to pull off the structural and metaphysical glitches present in RN, WT.

I'm going to watch The Last Film sometime this year as well. Hope to like that one more - at least on paper it seems like the more experimental of Hopper's directorial efforts. Then I hope to watch it back to back with Filipino director Raya Martin's kinda remake of it, La última película.

Showgirls - it probably deserves a 9 or a 10. I especially loved the cyclical narrative. It's probably one of the most nietzschean American films of the 90's.

Brouillard Passage #14 - I actually missed the opportunity to watch it in a cinema near me a couple of years back. I still regret it...
Agree on all counts about Hong.

The Last Movie's certainly experimental, for better or worse. Better for me. Had no idea about that remake, thanks for the info.

I haven't read any actual Nietzche so I can't really say but that seems like a reasonable claim between the self-actualization-through-horror and the operatic pomp.

Ah bummer. I'm still kicking myself about a Dorsky film I missed once...
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