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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 5, 2021

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 5, 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.

Note - Hopefully I'll be in a better frame of mind to actually discuss things this week, but we'll see. Back at work tomorrow after a week of Coronavirus lockdown and devastating bushfires. Did get to watch quite a few films though.

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

Limite (1931). Stuck at sea in a rowboat, a man and two women retreat into their memories in this avant-garde silent movie from Brazil. For a film of its vintage, there are some remarkable shots - most notably an extreme low camera angle that looks up at two passersby. The memory blur structure also gives the project a nicely dreamlike quality. That said, the lack of clear-cut answers here is more frustrating than enchanting. Who are these folks on the boat? What is their relationship to each other? How did they get stuck at sea? The film also only features three title cards, all towards the end in a single flashback/memory sequence. The project might have done better without title cards altogether. There is something very universal about the despair of the three protagonists and it is pretty neat how images and music alone capture this sans dialogue. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968). Filming a scene of a couple bickering in the park, a young director encourages his cast and crew to discuss the scene while filming the making-of process in this experimental documentary. It is a conceptually interesting project, full of creative cutting (sometimes we see two or three screens at once) as well as some meta discussion, including never being able to know whether somebody is acting or being themselves, even in a documentary. The premise makes for uneven viewing though; everything feels all-over-the-place while certain bits and pieces (the crew interacting with a homeless man near the end) feel like they might have been better left on the cutting room floor. The whole reshooting of the same scene ad infinitum is pretty neat though simply as a look at how repetition can drain the immediacy out of anything. (first viewing, online) ★★

Flodder (1986). Relocated to an affluent suburb as part of a government housing experiment, a lower class family clash with their snobbish neighbours in this popular Dutch comedy. There is something pointed in how the rich folks here bring all of their misery upon themselves by refusing to welcome their newest neighbours, leading to much destroyed property and general mayhem. The lower class family members are all pretty friendly and likeable too, with the film offering a bit a satire in terms of money not being everything in life. As a comedy though, the film is a little all-over-the-place. There are some amazing stunts involving moving vehicles and some fun blackmailing parts, but much of the mischief feels like standard teen movie shenanigans and at close to two hours, the film is a little exhausting by the end, if easy to appreciate for its satirical edge. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Blue (1993). Consisting of only a blue screen with audio, this experimental movie from Derek Jarman is an oddly riveting experience. While his monologues sometimes drag on for too long, Jarman does a great job narrating the film, providing a startling insight into his own deepest fears and worries as he contends with losing his eyesight as a side effect of AIDS. In fact, it seems only fitting that a movie about a man losing his vision has no images as is the case here, and Jarman does plenty to keep things interesting with unusual sound effects and bursts of music. Clocking in at around 75 minutes, the film does feel stretched a little thin with not all of Jarman's speeches and stories equally as engaging. The overall experience though certainly resonates with Jarman bluntly acknowledging "I shall not win the battle against the virus" while still looking ahead. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Cop Land (1997). Newly appointed, the cop-worshipping sheriff of a small suburban town gradually discovers how deep corruption runs in this crime drama starring Sylvester Stallone. In one of his more character-driven roles, Stallone provides a very decent performance; his naivety to the extent of corruption never quite rings true though and a side plot involving Harvey Keitel and his nephew is far more encapsulating and involving than Stallone trying to tackle corruption singlehandedly. Michael Rapaport is solid as the nephew and an early scene in a green-lit freeway tunnel is remarkably intense; same goes for how things spiral out for him afterwards - but he is always a side character. As mentioned, Stallone does fine with his part and the film is also blessed with a perfectly brooding Howard Shore score, but the focus of the story always feels off. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

House of 1000 Corpses (2003). Refueling at an outskirts gas station that doubles as black museum, four youths cross paths with sadistic serial killers in this horror film from Rob Zombie. The film begins well with much mysteriousness as to what is going on. Full of neon lights and sharply lit exhibits, the black museum also feels a lot like a haunted house carnival ride and there is much tension in the youths' unsuccessful attempts to drive away. After this great build-up though, the film grows less interesting, bouncing back and forth between dull police investigations and fairly standard torture porn moments. Zombie also really overdoes it with the inverse footage, perhaps trying to cover up for how flimsy the narrative is. There are certainly some striking moments towards the end (elongated pause before a trigger is pulled) but this starts stronger than it ends. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Devil's Rejects (2005). Often regarded as superior to House of 1000 Corpses, this follow-up continues the adventures of the sadistic killers while trying to make them more down-to-earth and human. It is a curious approach that nicely comes with more comic relief than its predecessor as the trio argue over ice cream and so forth (though a chicken-lover scene is certainly the comedic high point). Alas, the sequel comes without the original's delightful WTF sense of mystery. There is also no awesome funhouse/black museum, while Rob Zombie replaces his penchant for inverse footage with an overload of slow motion. The ending is pretty well done and there are certainly effective moments here and there (a gun sexually shoved into a victim's underwear) but this generally feels like a step down from the unrestrained zaniness of the original. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Roost (2005). Presented as a film-within-a-film, this auspicious debut feature from Ti West is a remarkable to testament to the power of innovation on a shoestring budget. Set primarily at a barn in the middle of nowhere with low lighting and some of the eeriest music and audio effects ever combined together, this a genuinely unsettling experience as four stranded friends awaken a colony of bats. There is some other more fantastical horror stuff in the mix, but the film works best when the bats are the drivers of the terror with an especially spooky part where one victim inadvertently plunges to his death. The acting is not the best, but fortunately there is ample mood and atmosphere for the film to never bore during its brief duration. The horror themed radio plays and the black-and-white wraparound segment also really enhance the general ambience. (first viewing, online) ★★★

JCVD (2008). Cast as himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme provides a nicely down-to-earth and human performance here, complete with a fantastic monologue and a touching strained father/daughter relationship. Outside of the novelty of Van Damme playing himself though, this is a mixed bag. Mashing up the timeline works well to show the confusion as Van Damme ends up complicit in a bank robbery gone awry; the scenes of him dealing with fans and trying to teach kickboxing are neat too. The resolution of the bank situation does not quite sit right though and the robbers themselves are bizarre, caricature-like characters that subtract from the realism that the film otherwise tries to go for. The washed out colour palette makes the film feel a little fake too, though perhaps deliberately so for a film about an actor discovering that life is never like in the movies. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Last Days of Emma Blank (2009). Living out her final days at a manor by the sea, a terminally ill woman places absurd demands on her family and servants in this black comedy from Alex van Warmerdam. The first hour is a mixed bag. On one hand, everything is too bizarre to ever bore (the dog is depicted as a human being; incest is ripe) with the dying matriarch's requests soon growing extreme. On the other hand, an hour's worth is a bit much. Things get a lot more dynamic in the final half-hour though as van Warmerdam reveals the reason why the servants and family members seem so eccentric, and from there the film only grows increasingly interesting as everybody's tested patience begins to surface. If not for all tastes, this is a fairly unique look at power relationships and the roles that we all play within various households and family units. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Saint (2010). What if Santa Claus was evil? Using Dutch myths and urban legends, Dick Maas explores this idea in this Christmas horror film with black comedy elements. The movie takes a while to warm up, but once the evil St. Nicholas springs into action it becomes a decent ride, full of unusual camera angles, rooftop chases and gory mayhem in the snow. The film's best parts though are the darkly comical ones, which are sadly few and far between. A dead victim falling down the chimney like Santa is very well done; same goes for a bunch of hospital children smiling at the sight of the murderous Santa, plus a couple of businessmen sarcastically commenting when St. Nick falls through their roof. For the most part though, the film feels like a standard slasher movie. The ending is weirdly low key too, but as a festive movie this is at least daringly different. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Innkeepers (2011). Believing in the paranormal, two employees of a supposed haunted inn conduct amateur investigations in between accommodating the quirks of their guests in this slow burn horror film from Ti West. As per his earlier The Roost, West loads the film with atmosphere, utilising a singular location well and rendering it creepy through lighting and sound effects alone. Or at least for the most part. After a superb first half with no overt horror and great chemistry between the leads, West gradually brings in the jump scares and the final quarter hour of the film is particularly weak as the film treads a more traditional haunted house route. Even if it ends less potently than it begins, this is pretty effective overall. The believer/skeptic relationship between the leads is very dynamic with the film almost feeling like an X Files ep at times. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Cub (2014). Suffering from past trauma and a violent childhood, an adolescent boy is not believed by his scoutmasters when he comes across a vicious feral child in the woods in this horror movie from Belgium. The film benefits from a pulsating electro score, great locations and oodles of ambiguity as to whether he is imagining the feral child, or whether the feral child is his id incarnate. There is also a very well done kill early on involving a booby-trapped beehive. This is a film that does not offer very many answers though and the ending is more frustrating than scary. The scoutmasters are also unbelievably irresponsible, getting their dog to attack their cub scouts, frequently swearing in front of the boys and even discussing sexting with them. When in horror/thriller mode though, the film generally works with Maurice Luijten solid in the lead role. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Creep (2014). Hired to film a legacy video for a terminally ill man, a cameraman becomes concerned that his employer might not be who he says he is in this indie horror movie. Shot on video (in found footage style) with the screenwriters as the sole actors, this is fairly innovative for a thriller on a budget. Mark Duplass also absolutely nails it as the creepy employer, constantly tricking and scaring his cameraman and acting just a little too friendly. As a narrative though, the film is a little less satisfying. Some crazy wolf mask antics aside, the first half of the film mostly consists of repetitive conversations in between formulaic jump scares. The second half actually builds up some decent atmosphere, but then Duplass is absent from much of this half and the other guy is less interesting. The film concludes well though with a very unsettling final few minutes. (first viewing, online) ★★

Creep 2 (2017). Far more complex and dynamic than the first Creep film, this sequel cuts through the mystery and goes straight to Mark Duplass acting off-kilter with much tension as an unsuspecting new victim signs up to do a documentary on him. The victim this time though is not as easily scared or off-put, and even manages to frighten Duplass at several points. The film also dives far deeper into Duplass as a character than the original ever had a chance to do, with his titular creep almost coming off as sympathetic, faced with a mid-life crisis and all. This is not, however, quite as brisk as its predecessor and meanders a bit during its second half. It is less scary too. In general though, this feels like a substantial improvement over Part One, also delving even further than the original into the act of filming with a fun Francis Ford Coppola parallel. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Darling (2015). Cut from the same cloth as Repulsion and Euridice BA 2037, this is similarly a black and white thriller about a paranoid woman losing her grip on reality when alone in an apartment, and while it never reaches the height of its influences, this is dynamite stuff. Director Mickey Keating does a great job balancing eerie elongated shots of the protagonist wandering about with rapid fire edits that reflect her fractured mind, and in the lead role, Lauren Ashley Carter is simply superb. The film gets particularly interesting halfway in with a Promising Young Woman type turn as Carter lets a guy pick her up with grisly results. It is nevertheless hard not to exit the film wanting to know more about her character (we only ever get hints of a troubled past). The conclusion is also fairly easy to predict, but it is an amazing ride getting there. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Carnage Park (2016). Kidnapped during a bank robbery gone awry, a desperate woman tries to outsmart a maniacal sniper when the getaway vehicle breaks down on an isolated property in this thriller starring Ashley Bell. With a sympathetic back story, Bell makes a great protagonist and the set-up is superb, topped off by a grisly scene in which Bell awakens to find herself handcuffed to the corpse of her kidnapper. After this promising start though, the film does very little, offering nothing new beyond The Most Dangerous Game - and less if anything since Pat Healy's villain is one-dimensional and never reveals his motives for hunting humans outside of fun and simply being evil. Much of the second half of the film is also too poorly lit to work out what is going on. Fortunately, Bell is excellent throughout and the story remains intriguing, warts and all. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Mind's Eye (2015). Halfway between a remake of Scanners and an uncredited sequel to it, this ambitious low budget horror film is fascinating viewing however one chooses to interpret it. The plot is a little on the simplistic side as a small group of medically subdued 'scanners' come up against an evil scientist who wishes to harness scanning powers himself, but the film is a real visual treat with lots of neon and supersaturated colours, plus Steve Moore's music score is wonderfully atmospheric, if not moody as Howard Shore's classic composition. The acting is certainly less impressive here and downright amateurish at times, but great practical effects on a budget make up for it. Most of all though, it is just delightful to see a continuation of the universe Cronenberg established, and logically extended with the whole notion of isolating 'scanner' genes. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Heart of a Dog (2015). Saddened by the death of her loyal dog, Laurie Anderson reflects on life and death and everything in between in this very personal documentary. From the opening stretch in which Anderson describes a dream of having her dog sewn in her so she could give birth to it (all of which is depicted in pencil-line animation), it is clear from early on that this will be a refreshingly unusual ride. Throughout we are treated to sometimes bizarre but always entrancing images and while Anderson sometimes loses focus, going on about the "screen savers" in her eyes and seeing ghosts, the whole thing still feels pretty cohesive. It is almost like a stream of consciousness movie with the dog's death bringing out so many memories of experiences and ideas she once thought. This is an invariably even ride due to such a structure but enticing nonetheless. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Let the Corpses Tan (2017). Various interested parties conspire to acquire a stolen stash of gold in this thriller from Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. The premise brings The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to mind while the film looks just as exquisite as Amer and The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears. Similarly to those, the narrative takes a backseat to the visuals, but we are given enough information to appreciate the set-up even if we never get to know any of the characters as individuals nor how most of them found out about the loot. Particularly striking is how the directors incorporate everyone's dreams and fantasies into the narrative, giving the film a surreal nightmare flavour. And with well distributed rapid fire cuts, excellent angular photography, superb colour filters and amazing lighting in general, this is a breathtaking experience. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Logan (2017). Occurring several years after the events of The Wolverine, this X-Men spin-off feels fairly routine at first, aside from some scenes of Logan caring for a cantankerous, ageing Professor. Things really take off 30 minutes in though and the film seldom lets up from there as we discover the powers and strengths of a mutant child escorted by them to safety. Dafne Keen is excellent as the mostly mute youngster in question and rivals Stewart for the best performance on hand as the film subsequently becomes a surprisingly smooth blend of road movie and action thriller elements. The bonding between the characters always feels very real while the fights are exciting without indulging in the ostentatious special effects that the series became known for. Occasionally the film feels tonally inconsistent, but this is mostly great after a slow start. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Girl (2018). Trying to excel at ballet, a transgender teen girl becomes frustrated as her body has trouble keeping up with the moves in this solemn drama from Belgium. While there are a few minor incidents, her classmates and peers generally seem accepting of her; same goes for her father and her brother, with the film instead set in the protagonist's headspace, trying to find her own place in the world. The film also has a bit of a Whiplash vibe with her practising until her feet bleed at multiple points, and it might have been nice for this obsessive angle to be played up and her unhappiness with her biologically male body played down (the final ten minutes take this in some especially uncomfortable directions). Whatever the case, the film's pensive young lead is excellent throughout, with every iota of the protagonist's anxiety and frustration heartfelt. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

3 from Hell (2019). Following on from where The Devil's Rejects left off, this Rob Zombie movie tracks the further adventures of the serial killers who must engineer a prison escape for the female member of their clan. While Sheri Moon is more over-the-top than ever before, the film is relatively engaging during its pre-prison break scenes with Moon facing off against an equally vicious guard played with gusto by Dee Wallace. There is also a neat scene in which another guard's family are targeted and terrorised at dinner, capped off with an out-of-the-blue clown visit. The film is far less engaging after the prison break stuff. Any urgency or suspense goes out the window and while there are occasional bursts of violence, the majority of the movie just has its killer characters sitting around, waiting and occasionally having fun when going out for drinks. (first viewing, online) ★

Bliss (2019). Addiction and withdrawal symptoms inspire an artist as she tries to finish a mural-sized painting in her apartment in this hallucinogenic drama from Joe Begos. As per usual, Begos loads the film with neon, while also using much spinning camerawork and even some upside down shots to portray the protagonist's drug-fueled fervor. The film is most interesting for its horror angle though, and this only really takes off over half an hour in as the painter starts to do some crazy things while doped with some initial uncertainty as to whether it is all in her head. It also does not help that she is a really hard character to warm towards. At its best, Bliss brings The Devil's Candy to mind, but it is nowhere near as dynamic a film as that. The act of painting is actually hardly in focus and this is mostly a pic about doing crazy stuff when stoned. (first viewing, online) ★★

VFW (2019). When a female drug thief hides out in their pub, a bunch of cantankerous war veterans decide to defend their bar and attack those in pursuit of the girl in this action thriller from Joe Begos. This is a very good-looking film with Begos really saturating the film in neon; the throbbing score is awesome too. All of the neon though renders the action difficult to make out and when one strips back the audiovisual finesse, the plot is downright shaky. As a narrative, this is sort of like The Purge, except that those who are trying to penetrate the building actually have a good reason to want to get the thief. And as a thief, it is never clear why the honorable war veterans are so set on protecting her. Having war veteran protagonists is a pretty neat touch though with great banter between them as they get a chance to relive their heyday wartime action. (first viewing, online) ★★

Yummy (2019). Worried about the cleanliness and safety of the hospital where his girlfriend is having breast reduction surgery, a medical student wanders around and accidentally unleashes an infectious zombie in this Belgian horror movie. The set-up and setting are awesome with the film tapping into the anxieties that one faces before undergoing any medical procedure. The film also looks divine with much neon and plenty of splatter/gore, plus some really WTF imagery, including a mutant frog/reptile and a few accidents involving a penis enlargement patient. The zombies themselves are quite ordinary though and only move and act according to genre cliché. The film's constant attempts to add humour backfire around half the time too with vomiting and breast size gags in the mix. This is pretty great though in the moments when is not trying to be funny. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Hunted (2020). Charmed by a charismatic stranger at a bar who soon ties her up and kidnaps her, a Belgian lady ends up fleeing her kidnapper in the woods when his car crashes in this nifty thriller. The first half of the film feels a bit routine and repetitive, focused on their pursuit in the woods. Other elements are introduced in the second half though and the final fifteen minutes enter laugh-out-loud black comedy territory. With some of the dialogue exchanged near the end, the overall film also feels like a stinging look at modern relationships, insensitive men and the whole general craziness of trying to have to one night stands with strangers. The acting is a little over-the-top, though mostly in the comedy section of the film where the exaggeration is on-point - and it is really this comedy slant that separates this from the average rape/revenge type of movie. (first viewing, online) ★★★
Other
Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (1969). Ken Jacobs manipulates the footage from a silent short film in this experimental movie without a soundtrack. It is an innovative idea, but one that works better in theory than in practice. While it is fascinating to watch Jacobs toy with frame rate and create blurs simply by playing the footage too fast or by zooming in too far, two hours of it is a little much. The project has a bit of a Michael Snow vibe, except that Snow's movies are always incredibly playful and sometimes downright funny; here, there feels more of a vibe of Jacobs doing things for the sake of it without much rhyme or rhythm. Some of the slower parts work quite well; at one point Jacobs pauses the footage as he cuts to various closer and closer zooms on a maid's face, but there are precious little bits like this that linger and provoke reflection on what is being shown. (first viewing, online) ★★

Heavy (1995). Embarrassed about being overweight and always bowing into pressure from his mother, a young man's life is turned on its head when he develops a crush on the new waitress at his mother's cafe and as his mother becomes ill in this indie drama starring Pruitt Taylor Vince. Best known for playing mentally unsound characters in films like Identity and The Devil's Candy, it is nice to see Vince in a down-to-earth dramatic role. Quiet and laconic, we never really get to know his character in depth beyond his crush and worries about his weight, but he still comes across as very sympathetic. Outside of Vince though, there is not much to write home about. Shelley Winters and Deborah Harry are both fine but underused while Liv Tyler never quite lives up to being the dream girl that Vince perceives her as. But, perhaps that is the point. (first viewing, online) ★★

Too Fat Too Furious (2005). Discovering that his adoptive father has a biological son in prison, a career criminal busts the other son out as part of a plan to secure a liver transplant for his father in this chaotic comedy from the Netherlands. The humour is too childish and in poor taste to work most of the time with lots of physical humour (characters whacked on the head) and sexual assault gags. The protagonist's schemes and plans are wonderfully imaginative though, with the initial prison break and an airport hustle towards the end standing out in particular. The film also tries to say something about father/son bonds and blood not always being thicker, though this is undercut by the characters not being particularly well drawn in the first place. Whatever the case, the film is seldom boring even if the schemes are sporadic and the humour is hit-and-miss. (first viewing, online) ★★

Trigger Man (2007). Three friends go to the woods to hunt squirrels, only to eventually find themselves hunted by an unseen sniper in this early Ti West feature. As usual for West, this is a slow burn film with nothing much happening until around halfway in. Unlike The Roost or The Innkeepers, there is little in the way of mystery, suspense or atmosphere though as the friends walk through the woods idly conversing and occasionally resting for over thirty minutes before the sniper takes aim. Characterisation is pretty slim too. Certainly the set-up is interesting with the ruthless hunters finding the tables turned, and the initial sense of WTF when the sniper pops up is awesome. Too much shaky camerawork soon ruins the experience though and a final stretch outside the woods only serves to remind that West's key strength is single location work. (first viewing, online) ★

Save Angel Hope (2007). Con men conspire to have a gullible politician back their fake charity as part of his election campaign in this crime comedy. It is a decent premise and the film makes some salient points about charity, how some who donate simply do so to provide "relief from their terrible guilt" and make themselves feel good, as well as how easily political campaigns can be manipulated. The film never quite feels as funny as it could have been though. The funniest moments have the politician fumbling over misheard words in his earpiece rather than the fake charity. There is no audience trickery either; we always know who is grifting who, which takes away some of the fun of the average confidence trickster movie. Still, this is reasonably entertaining while it lasts with all concerned really getting into their characters and having a good time. (first viewing, online) ★★

Milo (2012). Lost after running away from home, a ten-year-old boy is taken in by a kindly childless couple and gradually learns the truth about his rare skin condition, kept a secret by his parents, in this drama from the Netherlands. In the title role, Lorcan Bonner is excellent and the acting is generally down-to-earth and solid all round. As a narrative though, this is a heavily sentimental affair and there is not a whole lot driving the plot. Bonner instantly clicks with the childless couple, they are all-too-happy to help him out and parent him better than his actual parents ever did and so on. There is a bit of something in him learning that his father is not all that he is cracked up to be, but as this is obvious from early, it lacks any dramatic punch. This is an okay way to pass the time, but with limited sense of adventure for a film about a lad run away from home. (first viewing, online) ★

The Notorious Guys (2012). Barred from going on a school trip to Portugal due to their poor grades, a group of remedial education students join the class via a stolen hot air balloon in this Luxembourgish comedy that is nowhere near as fun or offbeat as it sounds. There is certainly much craziness at hand, not the least of which are the main character's constant fantasies, which including appearing on Portuguese game shows, but none of the characters are likeable at all with the film offering a rather dim view on students with special educational needs. There is also a Congolese student who is depicted in a very racially insensitive way, performing voodoo on his teacher's clothes and unable to fit in at high school despite apparently having a degree in philosophy. Bits and pieces of the madness here are entertaining for sure, but this is generally grating to view. (first viewing, online) ★

Quiz (2012). Claiming to have kidnapped his family, a deranged man subjects a game show host to a humiliating life-and-death quiz in this thriller from Dick Maas. With a premise like that, this is intriguing to begin with, clouded with mystery as to why he doing this and whether his family are really in danger. Pierre Bokma is superb as the antagonist too, sometimes sounding eerily sane in between his outbursts. Alas, film seems to expect us to accept that the quiz is a 'just desserts' of sorts. We are told the host is an uncaring philander, but since we never actually see this, the film instead becomes an uneasy tale of a nice guy harassed for no apparent good reason. There is some motive revealed later on, but it is all cliché and the ending is extremely weak. Still, the premise is offbeat enough and Maas drums up ample suspense to keep things chugging along. (first viewing, online) ★★

Doggiewoggiez! Poochiewoochiez! (2012). Credited as a remake of The Holy Mountain, this bizarre film consists almost entirely of dog-related found footage edited together. Calling it a remake of the Jodorowsky film stretches things a bit; the "my name is / my planet is" audio is lifted from Holy Mountain and randomly pops up throughout, but there is no discernible narrative here. On one hand, this makes the film feel like a whole lot of randomness; on the other hand, everything is spliced together very rhythmically and even cleverly at times with some great "dogs are people too" and "b word" montage sequences that highlight just how frequent these ideas are in pop culture. Most striking of all though is how many clips have dogs talking in some way, shape or form - almost making the film a curious look at human desire to communicate with dogs. (first viewing, online) ★★

Almost Human (2013). Returning to Earth after he was abducted by aliens, an ordinary man goes on a killing spree in this low budget horror film. Many fans have pointed out the parallels to John Carpenter's work (even using the same font as Halloween) and for plot purposes Xtro gets mentioned, but what this bears the most resemblance to is actually David Cronenberg's Shivers. While not as darkly comic or satiric as that, the notion of a slug crawling out of victims' mouths and infecting them is similar, and the disappointment of Almost Human is how rare the slug/mouth infection stuff is. Most of the film just consists of the returned man committing pretty routine murders. The film also ends abruptly. Still, the practical effects are top notch, the lighting is great, and as a love letter to 70s and 80s B horror, it is easy to admire the effort. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Overnight (2015). Invited to stay overnight by the parents of their child's new best friend, a timid couple have their boundaries tested during the course of the evening in this indie comedy. It is a premise ripe with potential with much uncertainty at first as to whether the other couple have nefarious ulterior motives or whether things will descend into Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? territory. Neither of these possibilities eventuates though, and while the film has some great imagery (unusual paintings; neon-lit massage rooms), the film culminates in more of a 'huh' than anything else. There are certainly some great comedic moments as the other couple seem oblivious with how uncomfortable they are making their guests feel, and there is a pretty unforgettable poolside dance scene, but this never feels as wild and outlandish as it could have been. (first viewing, online) ★★

Boy 7 (2015). Handed a notebook apparently written by him, an amnesic teenager learns about how he was recruited for a top secret organisation with nefarious motives in this future-set thriller from Holland. When one gets over the fact that the 26-year-old Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen (who could pass for 30) is meant to be playing a teenager, he actually delivers a decent performance as a socially awkward youth and he is much of the reason why the film is watchable. The premise is hardly new or original and while there is a neat fingerprint lifting part, none of the protagonist's ingenuity feels especially novel. The movie also becomes very cloying and sentimental towards the end rather than suspenseful or thrilling. If seldom boring, this is hardly the most exciting motion picture either and it barely feels futuristic - although maybe that's the point. (first viewing, online) ★★

Pod (2015). Two siblings enact an intervention with their brother who claims to have an alien pod in his basement in this gripping low budget horror film. The project comes with an X Files vibe as one sibling is convinced that the brother is crazy, while the other thinks that he might be telling the truth, and the tension between the trio is excellent. Alas, once the siblings venture down to the basement and ambiguity is lifted, the results are less immersive. Some of the lighting is neat and the isolated snowy setting is great, but the film does not really go anywhere once it clears up the ambiguity, delivering more questions than answers. The effort by all concerned is admirable and the trio interact as realistic estranged siblings, but given that the film's initial strength is how everything is conveyed via dialogue, it is a shame that a different path is ultimately chosen. (first viewing, online) ★★

Kristen (2015). Retitled Trapped in some places, this Dutch thriller begins as a Scream variant with the sole late night worker at a pub receiving harassing phone calls after closing from a man who might be watching her. As the film progresses, it slowly heads in a different direction though with a broken television set, clocks that have stopped ticking and so forth. The film concludes in a rather weird way that sort of undercuts this curious plot deflection, but either way this is a decent attempt to do something different with the usual lone girl stalked/tormented plot. The lead actress does well with the demands of the part and the film is nicely shot with lots of eeriness in the corner of the frames. It is a generally spooky watch too. Not everything quite adds up (the cat's fate just seems odd given what the stalker seems to want) but this passes the time fine. (first viewing, online) ★★

Ubiquity (2018). Three individuals with electric hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS) are interviewed in this documentary. While the film ignores the controversy over EHS and whether it is a medical or psychosomatic condition, it provides a fascinating glimpse at ordinary folks trying to function in world full of Wi-Fi and electronic devices which, regardless of cause, provide them with adverse health effects. The subjects bring to mind Julianne Moore in Safe, except that these are real human beings whose suffering is ignored in the name of progress. The documentary gets less interesting towards the end though as it goes from objectively observing to calling on a ban on 5G towers and widespread Wi-Fi while also delving into unproven conspiracy theories (Wi-Fi impacting on fertility). Whenever the focus is on the human sufferers though, this is compelling stuff. (first viewing, online) ★★

I, Pastafari (2019). Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster struggle for legal recognition in this intriguing documentary. The film does a great job delivering the main ideas of the religion, which comes across as more peaceful and let-and-let-live than most organised religions. The documentary is also quick to point out the hypocrisy of other religions, with one woman talking about Christianity teaching empathy cut against an anti-gay rights protestor. What the film ultimately becomes about though is religious freedoms - and didactically so. The use of Scopes Monkey trial footage is neat at first, but this soon becomes the very crux of the film. More insight into the origins of the Pastafari religion would have more interesting instead; basically any minority religion could have been used to further the project's overall religious rights agenda. (first viewing, online) ★★
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01. - 4.0* - Daughters by Hajime Tsuda
A delicate, stylish and modern drama about two young women whose lives are about to be turned upside down. Stellar performances, stunning cinematography and a smart, wonderful score raise this film above the many Japanese dramas released each year. Hajime Tsuda is definitely a bright young talent to keep a close eye on.

02. 3.5* - Saint Maud by Rose Glass (2019)
A dark and moody slowburner. Rose Glass shows she has the chops to deliver an eerie, mysterious horror film that doesn't show its true face until the very last frame. While not quite as edge as I'd have liked, Glass' talent shines through in Saint Maud, hopefully kick-starting a long and prosperous career. Maud is a private caretaker who tends to Amanda, a former dancer whose life will soon end. Maud is a devout believer and she sees it as her mission to save Amanda's soul. That's easier said and done, especially since Amanda likes to indulge in the pleasures of life while she still can. The cinematography is moody, the score dark and bass-heavy, performances are great across the board. The film is tense, the mystery is kept alive until the very end and the very last frame is one of the best ways to end a film I've seen in a long time. If it only had been just that little edgier (add some grit to the camera work, throw some actual distortion on the soundtrack) this would've become an instant favorite, now it's merely a promise for a future masterpiece.

03. 3.5* - Bliss by Mike Cahill (2021)
This was a bit of a weird one. I wasn't a terribly big fan of Cahill's earlier films, nor did I expect too much from a film headlined by Wilson & Hayek. And while Bliss certainly has its rough patches, it kept me the entire length in suspense, sligthly baffled at what exactly I was witnessing. That surely counts for something. The recently divorced Greg is struggling with his life. Things don't get better when he accidentally kills his boss, who just fired him seconds earlier. Greg escapes the place of the crime and runs into a mysterious woman. She tells him the whole world is fake, a simulation where only a few people are real. Cahill is smart to never reveal the true reality of the film, the soundtrack is well above average and Wilson does a good job for an actor best known for doing (safe) comedy. Hayek isn't up to par and not all the drama works equally well, but this peculiar blend of urban fantasy (it's not really sci-fi, is it?) and drama was pretty interesting.

04. 3.5* - Impetigore [Perempuan Tanah Jahanam] by Joko Anwar (2019)
My first Joko Anwar. Anwar's been making a name for himself as a genre director and based on this film, it's not hard to see why. While Indonesia in general is enjoying a little horror boost of late, Impetigore is one of the most competent films I've seen from that region so far, stopping just short of true greatness. Maya, an orphan, works night shifts in a toll booth. One night, she is attacked by a creepy man who seems to know more about her past. After a quick investigation Maya discovers more about her roots and decides to travel to her hometown to find out what happened all these years ago. Anwar clearly has a knack for crafting a moody film. The cinematography is strong, with excellent use of color and lighting, the soundtrack isn't too shabby either and performances are on point. The problem is the plot, which offers little beyond the usual Indonesian ghost fare. After a strong start, the setup's just a little too slow and the pay-off not quite harsh enough, keeping the film from getting an even higher rating. Well recommended for horror fans.

05. 3.5* - Lonelyheart [Sabishinbô] by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi (1985)
A very sweet and agreeable Ôbayashi. His 80s work is generally a lot more toned down than what he's famous for, usually sprinkling drama with light fantasy elements. Quality varies, but Lonelyheart is one of the better films in this niche, a cute mix of coming-of-age with some supernatural elements. Hiroki has a crush on a girl he doesn't really dare to approach. He sees her practicing the piano every day and pines for her love. But then another girl shows up. She's wearing weird make-up and seems to know Hiroki and his family very well. At first only Hiroki can see her, but then people around him start noticing her too. Lonelyheart is a very warm and nostalgic film. The small-town rural community, the yellowish haze draped over the film and lots of minor details that make you reminisce about simpler times. Performances are good too and though a bit long, the film never starts to drag. I liked this one a lot.

06. 3.0* - Mao Shan by Shuai Yang, Qiu Zhongwei (2021)
China's TV productions seem to be getting better. Mao Shan can't quite hide its TV roots when the CG gets too complex, apart from that this turned about to be a very capable fantasy/martial arts flick that doesn't bother with innovation, but has the basics down and delivers prime entertainment. Yin Shou Yi does his best to earn the respect of the villagers, but his antics seem to have the opposite effect. To prove his worth, he moves away to join the Mao Shan clan. He's not skilled in martial arts and he appears very clumsy, but his heritage and his will to persevere will serve him well. The sets look nice, the camera work is on point and the action looks cool, there's no overreliance on CG and the pacing is perfect. Performances aren't stellar and the comical bits aren't that funny, but these are just minor details that disappear in the background once the fighting starts. Good fun.

07. 3.0* - Ranmaru: The Man with the God Tongue [Ranmaru: Kamino Shita wo Motsu Otoko] by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (2016)
A TV series with strong roots in anime culture finds its way onto the big screen. Director Tsutsumi Yukihiko sounded like a perfect fit, especially since the material isn't unlike the Trick series, but as the focus lies on comedy I think someone like Yuichi Fukuda could've done a better job. Ranmaru is a detective who solves cases with his tongue. By licking things, he can deconstruct the materials and what happened to them, discovering clues that will ultimately lead him to solve any puzzle. When he arrives in a small mountain village that's suffering from strange phenomena, Ranmara is asked by the villagers to help them solve the mystery. Performances are well over the top (some fine, not all) and Yukihiko's direction remains close to the film's anime roots (even enlarging people's head from time to time), but the comedy's a bit hit-and-miss. While the premise is fun enough, the film does start to drag during the second half as there's way too much dialog explaining all the clues. Quite fun, but I've seen this type of material handled better.

08. 3.0* - Time of the Gypsies [Dom za Vesanje] by Emir Kusturica (1988)
The fact that I haven't seen too many Kusturica films yet, yet I can still recognize this as a vintage Kusturica says something about this director. I'm not a spirited fan of his work, but there are definitely moments of genius in his films. It's a shame they're not a bit more consistent, though I guess that's also part of the charm. Perhan is a young gypsy with telekinetic powers, living together with his grandmother and lame sister. Life as a gypsy isn't easy and after a ton of drama he takes off to Milan, hoping to find a better life there. At first, he tries to make an honest living, but after being dragged through the mud Perhan turns to a life of crime. Kusturica delivers his usual blend of genres. There's drama and crime, but also touches of fantasy and a good dose of comedy. The cinematography is excellent and the performances are solid, sadly the soundtrack has its ups and downs. When everything comes together (the scene in the river) the film is truly magical, but these moments are a bit sparse and the soundtrack does get a little grating. The film's also a tad too long, but well worth a try if you like to see something unique.

09. 3.0* - Zero Focus [Zero no Shôten] by Isshin Inudô (2009)
A capable but rather basic mystery/thriller. After setting up a sudden disappearance, the rest of the film is spent finding out what happened to the missing person. Clues pop up at the right time and little by little the real story is revealed. Director Inudô feels a bit absent from the film though, which is why it fails to rise above its peers. Teiko marries Kenichi through an arranged marriage. A week later Kenichi has to take care of some business for his old employer, when Teiko sees him off she's blissfully unaware that it'll be the last time she'll see Kenichi. Once she's informed of her husband's disappearance, she travels after him hoping to unravel the mystery. Performances are decent, but the cinematography, soundtrack and plot are a bit too simple. I guess it's telling when a poster of a film adds more intrigue than the styling (kudos for the cool poster though). Zero Focus isn't bad, fans of whodunits will surely find something to love here, but it's in no way exceptional.

10. 3.0* - Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum [Gon-ji-am] by Beom-sik Jeong (2018)
South-Korea does found footage meets haunted asylum. That means you'll be seeing a film that isn't even trying to win any prizes for originality, but as we're dealing with a core genre film that's hardly a surprise. The real question is whether the execution is on point, and luckily the film delivers. Horror Times is an up and coming web series that wants to make it big. After finding a CNN article on the most haunted places in the world, they decide to visit the South-Korean entry on the list. It's the Gonjiam asylum, built during the 50s and completely abandoned 30 years later. The setup's a bit long, but once the crew arrives at their destination things quickly heat up, with a good pay-off at the end. There's nothing here you haven't seen before, but the haunts are pretty creepy, the camera tricks are nifty and the performances are solid. Fine horror filler is always welcome.

11. 3.0* - Blue Lake Woman [Aoi Numa no Onna] by Akio Jissoji (1986)
A classic kaidan (ghost) story by Jissoji. A director with a very recognizable style that matches the kaidan aesthetic. Blue Lake Woman can't quite hide its TV roots though, which seriously hampers the enjoyment of the film. Still, I'm quite sure fans of Jissoji will find plenty to enjoy here. When Nagare is invited to stay at Takigawa's house while he is off to do business in the US, he finds himself drawn to Mizue, the wife of Takigawa. She feels the same as Nagare and the two decide to commit a lover's suicide to redeem for their adultery. Mizue dies, but Nagare survives the suicide attempt. When he revisits Takigawa's house several years later, he is visited by the ghost of Mizue. Surreal imagery, eerie ghostly apparitions and of course clocks (because what good would a Jissoji film be without clocks). Blue Lake Woman has all the ingredients for a lovely film, except that it looks like it was shot on a consumer-grade camera. If you like a good Japanese ghost story though, or you're a dedicated Jissoji fan, this comes well recommended.

12. 3.0* - Fly, Daddy, Fly [Furai, Dadi, Furai] by Izuru Narushima (2005)
The only reason I wanted to catch this film was Shin'ichi Tsutsumi and it turns out Tsutsumi's performance is the only really good reason to watch Fly, Daddy, Fly. It's pretty amusing fodder, light comedy with some minor drama, sports and crime influences, though ultimately not a very memorable film. The premise is a bit weird, since we're supposed to be championing for a father who is training to kick the ass of a high school kid. The twist being that the kid assaulted the man's daughter and got away with it scot-free. Tsutsumi bumps into a gang of kids and since they have nothing better to do all summer they decide to help him work out for his big fight. The two-hour running time is a bit of a stretch and not all performances are great, but Tsutsumi is a hoot and there are certain moments where director Narushima does his best to break the mold. It's pretty decent filler, but it's all a bit too predictable, with not enough scenes that stick.

13. 2.5* - Junk Boy by Katsuhisa Yamada (1987)
A simple and short ecchi comedy. It's not unlike the Golden Boy series, only a bit more explicit. If you like overly excited boys chasing after every single girl they come close to, then Junk Boy delivers. Certainly not the most memorable of films, but solid filler is nothing to scoff at either. Ryohei believes he has found his dream job when he is hired to work at an adult magazine. He still has to prove his worth as he isn't really cut out for the cutthroat business world, but as it turns out he has some very handy skills that come in handy when the models aren't really feeling their shoots. The animation is limited and the comedy quite predictable, but the chirpy atmosphere, the over-the-top characters and the slightly excessive dedication to its topic make Junk Boy worth a fun diversion. And at 45 minutes it's also sure not to overstay its welcome. Pretty decent filler.

14. 2.5* - Love and Crime [Meiji · Taishô · Shôwa: Ryôki onna hanzai-shi] by Teruo Ishii (1969)
A slightly more subdued Teruo Ishii film, though mostly because there's something else going on than just the usual exploitation elements. Not that you should expect a full-fledged drama, but Ishii's film is not unlike the inquisitive films of Wakamatsu that try to dig deeper into the darker corners of sex and romance. A coroner gets the scare of his life when one night his wife is brought in. Inside the body he finds traces of semen, which baffles him as he never suspected his wife of cheating on him. He delves into the police archives to look for similar cases, hoping to find an answer to what might have motivated his wife to do what she did. While essentially a mini-anthology, the strong thematic link between the different segments makes it feel like a more traditional narrative film. There are definitely some good moments here, though overall the exploitation elements with dark psychological overtones don't always mix that well. At least Ishii fans won't be bored.

15. 2.0* - The Rocketeer by Joe Johnston (1991)
Pretty cheesy pre-Marvel superhero nonsense. The setting is actually quite charming and the Rocketeer suit is well-designed, but the action falls short and the level of cheese gets pretty unbearable during the second half of the film. Its Disney roots are a little too apparent and they hold the film back. Cliff is a young and promising pilot who stumbles upon a strange jetpack. He's able to fly the thing, but others are interesting in the jetpack too. One of those people is Neville Sinclair, a popular actor who plans to sell the jetpack to the Nazi. To get to the thing, he tries to go through Cliff's girlfriend. Performances are gleefully over-the-top, the 1930s have been given a nice comic book shine and the suit is cool. But the green screen action is flimsy, the soundtrack is bad kitsch and the Nazi plot feels terribly outdated. Started out fun enough, but this is the type of film that gets worse by the minute.

16. 2.0* - The World Is Not Enough by Michael Apted (1999)
Pretty much a carbon copy from the previous installment. Brosnan doesn't quite fit in this action spectacle, the action itself hasn't aged too well and is still too dependent on the old Bond tropes and the bad guys are incredibly dull. It's clear we're moving to a more serious Bond now, which simply isn't as much fun. Bond is once again chasing after some bad guys to prevent a nuclear disaster. Because the Cold War might've been slipping from people's minds, there's also something about oil, giving it a more 90s contemporary feel. It's safe to say, you won't be watching this film for its intricate plot. Brosnan needs to dodge quite a few bullets, jump away from explosions and prove himself in hand-to-hand combat. None of that are his strong points, and it shows. The action isn't terribly impressive either (though the scenes with the helicopters are nifty) and two hours still feels like a stretch. It's not terribly boring, but there just isn't that much joy left in these later Bond films.

17. 2.0* - 48 Hrs. by Walter Hill (1982)
Early buddy cop flick that rests on the meager chemistry between its two protagonists. This might've been way more fun back when these films weren't as prevalent, but after seeing a gazillion of them it just doesn't do much for me anymore. Though I'm sure fans of the genre will have fun with this one. Cates is a tough cop who barely survives a shooting. His colleagues aren't so lucky. Cates is given 48 hours to solve the case, to do that he might need the help of Hammond, an inmate who still has six months left in prison. Hammond convinces Cates he won't solve the case without him, and so they become partners. Murphy is quite fun, Nolte is terrible. Whenever this film tries to be edgy it instantly loses a lot of its appeal, luckily the comedy is quite bearable and the pacing is decent, so Hill gets everything wrapped up within the 90 minutes limit. It's all very basic, but if you're looking for some easy amusement you could do worse.

18. 1.5* - Eighth Grade by Bo Burnham (2018)
A pretty drab and exaggerated coming of age film. It's recognizable in the same way a horoscope is: by sticking to vague and broad sentiments that apply to pretty much every teenager. The result is your average whiny, US indie that does little more than piling on scenes of awkwardness. And it's not even great at that. Kayla is a young girl who has no trouble making inspiring YouTube videos, but in school she's much quieter and has a hard time fitting in. She tries to follow her own advice, feigning confidence and venturing outside her comfort zone, but she soon finds out that's easier said than done. Fisher does well, but Burnham's direction is rather plain and the constant repetition gets old really fast. Burnham cycles through all the usual topics (sex, social media, popularity contests, crushes, ...) but doesn't have much interesting to say about them. I get, teens have insecurities, stressing that for 90+ minutes doesn't make it a good film.

19. 1.5* - Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett (1978)
Whether you'll like this film or not will probably depend on what you consider an "important" film and how much weight you put on that. Technically it's all very barren and limited, but Burnett's uncompromising look into one of the poorer (and black) neighborhoods of LA certainly has worth. There's no real story to speak of. We follow a family (the father works in a slaughterhouse for sheep, hence the title) and see them in their natural habitat. It's a series of small vignettes that paint a picture rather than tell a story, which is fine for this type of film. Just don't expect to be entertained by a narrative. The camera work is pretty limited, performances are weak and the barren style certainly isn't my preference. But the choice of music is pretty decent and several more poetic moments give Killer of Sheep a bit of extra flair. Not a film I'd ever revisit or recommend, but if you like neo-realist cinema and you wouldn't mind a 70s USA flavored version, it can't hurt to give this one a try.

20. 1.5* - The 39 Steps by Alfred Hitchcock (1935)
I'll never be a big Hitchcock fan, but I clearly prefer it when he keeps it short and simple. There's also a bit more wit here compared to his later films, though it doesn't make that much of an impact. At least the British vibe makes the comedy a bit more palatable, apart from that it's just trademark Hitchcock. Richard Hannay tries to help a counter-espionage agent after a row in a theater, but when she gets killed he suddenly becomes the prime murder suspect. He decides to flee into the Scottish Highlands, but soon finds himself chained to a blond vamp who believes she's dealing with a real killer. Performances are decent but a little stiff, the comedy isn't tremendously funny but acceptable. The story is pretty bland though and the intrigue didn't really capture my attention. It's a good thing this is a pretty short film, if it'd run closer to 120 minutes then I sure would've disliked it a lot more.

21. 1.5* - Heaven & Earth by Oliver Stone (1993)
Oliver Stone is pretty hit-and-miss and this was one of his misses. It's interesting to see he made this just one year before Natural Born Killers (still my favorite Stone), I guess he needed to get all the saccharine out of his system after making Heaven & Earth. Don't expect a typical Stone war flick, this is hefty Hollywood romance in a far away country. Le Ly lives in a small village that gets torn apart by the war. No matter who visits, the villagers are tortured and raped regardless. Le and her mom escape to Saigon, where she gets pregnant and has to turn to prostitution to make a living. Walking the streets, she meets Steve Butler, a kind-hearted soul who wants to marry her. Loud, sentimental music, overbearing drama and some tourist-like cinematography scream Oscar contender. So much that even the Academy got a queasy from all the pandering and passed it right by. At 140 minutes, it's also excessively long. There's a handful of interesting scenes, other than that this is just one big misfire.

22. 1.0* - Ice Age 5: Collision Course by Mike Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu (2016)
There's one clear sign that a franchise is running out of ideas, and that's when they start ending people into space. Regardless of the actual quality of the film, it usually means it's time to put the IP in the freezer for a while. Which is a nice Ice Age pun, possible funnier than anything you'll find in this film. While the gang is having some inconsequential problems, they notice that a big asteroid is approaching Earth. Cue the start of yet another adventure, where they need to travel to the crashing site in an ultimate bid to save the world. The plot isn't much to look at really, but that's well within expectations. The film struggles with the same issues as the previous installments. The comedy is more loud than it is funny, the voice acting is subpar, the art style is rather ugly and the soundtrack is tasteless. I'm glad this is apparently the last entry in the series, a poor but fitting finale to a series that failed to live up to its popularity.

23. 1.0* - We Can Be Heroes by Robert Rodriguez (2020)
Yes, I know, I'm not really the target audience of this film. Still, it's fair to wonder if we really need more superhero nonsense to feed kids until they're old enough to get into Marvel. And even then, shouldn't we aspire to make these films just a bit better than this depressing mess? Aliens are attacking our planet and the grown-up superheroes have been taken hostage. It seems Earth is doomed, but the aliens forgot about one thing: the superheroes' kids. They have powers of their own and even though they're not really trained to use them, together they'll take on the fight to free Earth from the aliens. Cringy comedy, flaky special effects, cheap decors and costumes, bland life lessons and the dumbest ending you can imagine. I'm sure Rodriguez had his fun making these films, but they're absolutely unsightly. I don't have kids myself, but I'd sure think twice about showing them this type of crap.

24. 1.0* - The Nurtull Gang [Norrtullsligan] by Per Lindberg (1923)
Swedish classics, so far they haven't been able to convince me of their appeal. The Nurtull Gang is another heavily character/narrative-driven film, which simply isn't a great match for the silent format. I'm sure people looked at it differently back then, with no other options available to them, but by modern standards this is just way too slow. A thoroughly feminist film, following four women in their fight against the patriarchy. They do their best to combine work and romance, they fight for civil rights and they try to help each other out as much as they can. Again, a subject that was well ahead of its time when the film was made, but isn't that impressive anymore. There's a lot of reading, then acting out what was said in the intertitles. Performances feel natural and the restoration is pretty slick, yet the drama is rather lifeless and the pacing is dreadful. The cinematography is also way too functional and the absence of any kind of score just adds to the dullness. Not my kind of film I'm afraid.

25. 1.0* - The Producers by Mel Brooks (1967)
My goodness. My fourth Mel Brooks films and it's official. I really can't stand the man's sense of humor. Though The Producers isn't quite like the other Brooks films I've seen (these were much more pun-based), I simply failed to laugh a simple time and was left with a feeling of overwhelming irritation. A fidgety accountant and a crummy play producer devise a plan to get rich. The idea is to produce a big flop, so they don't have to pay the investors but get to keep the investment money themselves. They try their best to make the play as bad as possible ... and yeah, it's not hard to guess how that'll end. The comedy simply isn't funny. It's noisy, it's repetitive, it's predictable and it leans on obnoxious stereotypes. And that's it really. Just 90 minutes of noise, actors constantly shouting and overacting, the amount of actual jokes is negligible. Seeing how it's a much-lauded film there must be an audience for this, but I'm clearly not it.

26. 1.0* - The Hitch-Hiker by Ida Lupino (1953)
A very stale and bare-bones noir. The title gives you a pretty good idea of what the plot's about, the rest of the film (which luckily isn't all that long) rests on three underperforming actors who never manage to draw any real tension from their predicament. It's a bit baffling this is considered a bona fide classic (though I assume it's somewhat related to Lapino's status). Roy and Gilbert are two jolly guys on their way to Arizona, where they've planned a calming fishing trip for themselves. On their way there they pick up a hitch-hiker and guess what ... the guy's not as friendly as he appeared. He's a psychotic killer trying to stay out of the hands of the police. The wooden performances really hurt the film, the cinematography is very dull, the plot is incredibly predictable and the only real reason to cheer for the good guys is to get the film over with quicker. It's short, but it's anything but snappy and even for a classic noir the pacing is sluggish. Not good at all.
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Perception de Ambiguity
Posts: 3835
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#3

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

«Ich weiß nicht, wer ich bin und wer ich war –
ein Fremder vor mir selbst – und neu für mich –
und alt, wenn ich im Spiegel sehe –
Ich glaubte, daß ich überall zu Hause sei –
und war schon heimatlos, bevor ich noch ganz dort war –»
- Klaus Kinski, Fieber: Tagebuch eines Aussätzigen


Full of Life (1956, Richard Quine) 7

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Trespassing Bergman (2013, Jane Magnusson & Hynek Pallas) 4

エロスの誘惑 / Seduction of Eros / Temptation of Eros / Erosu no yûwaku (1972, 藤田敏八/Toshiya Fujita) 7-

雁 / Mistress / Wild Geese / Gan (1953, 豊田四郎/Shiro Toyoda) 2

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Moonrise (1948, Frank Borzage) 6+

Im Netz der Lügen - Fakten, Fakes und Filterblasen (2017, Mario Sixtus) 7

Bruine Squamma (1977, Claudine Eizykman) 6-
Repetitious layers tear apart spacetime in pulsating frenzy to reveal abstract realms.

Closed Vision (Close Vision) (Sixty Minutes in the Interior Life of a Man) (English-sound version) (1954, Marc'O) 3
Self-glorified Dada delivered in beat poetry cadence.

Jajouka, Quelque chose de bon vient vers toi / Jajouka, Something Good Comes to You (English-language version) (2012, Eric & Marc Hurtado) 6-

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Lost Book Found (1996, a film/video by Jem Cohen) 6+
With the uncommitted rigor of a pushcart vendor in need of filling the patches of boredom on the job in the Big Apple we play detective and philosophize to nobody but ourselves in the manner of our favorite Film Noir heroes. Within the relics of ephemeral city life we search and hope for some nexus pregnant with meaning, a quest to solidify the spirits. With damped brouhaha and a sense of mystery we soak in the aura of NYC streets until maybe we can still get out of the city, but we can't get the city out of us. One of those films that evoked the feeling of late-night TV watching for me as a kid, a memory so distant it's not a memory anymore, but merely a memory of its recollections.

Okeanos (painted) (1972-2008, Myron Ort) 7
A journey embarked inside a box. With a swirl of Brakhage-esque color Parts I & II sink deep into the atomized earth-encircling ur-waterbody where no eye of man has been before. Parts III-V eschews the hand-painted film and chemical baths and the eye resurfaces to take in wider perspectives by sticking closely to the superimposition-rich images of "Okeanos (original)".

Ici et maintenant / Here and Now (Anno Domini 1968, Serge Bard) 6-
The tactile reality of the unseen, quiescence sans context is chaos.

Perret in Frankreich und Algerien / Perret in France and Algeria (2012, Heinz Emigholz) 7
Refinement of the gaze as the eye is moved through tamed space. A study of the inhabitable properties of erectile culture, bathed in the natural sounds of their surroundings. Seeing in shape and pattern, thinking in form and space.

wheel of samsara
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ImageWheel of Ashes (1968, Peter Emmanuel Goldman) 8
Le beau extraordinaire starring as the same sad sack of shit that I am.

[30 min] The House of Science: A Museum of Fake News False Facts (1991, Lynne Sachs) 6

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House of 1000 Corpses (2003, Rob Zombie) (10th viewing) 10


shorts

directed by Patrick Bokanowski:
Battements solaires (2008) (2nd viewing) 7+ (from 6)
The everyday reshaped into the unfamiliar and recontextualized into mythical spheres.
Le canard à l'orange (2002) (2nd viewing) 6-
Television de chambre (1984) 7-
L'envol / Soar (2018) 6
Potency of digital smear.
Au bord du lac (1994) (2nd viewing) 7 (from 3)
The fabric of man. Human shapes melt into the rest of the world.
Déjeuner du matin / Breakfast (1974) (2nd+ viewing) 7
La Femme qui se poudre / The Woman Who Powders Herself (1974) (2nd+ viewing) 6
Nightmare spasms of the vague.
Flammes (1998) (2nd viewing) 7-
Angel memories digitized for new abstraction.
Éclats d'Orphée (2002) (2nd viewing) 3

How to Live With Regret (2018, John Wilson) 6+

The Love Charm (1928, Howard M. Mitchell) 2+

Virginian Types: Blue Ridge Mountaineers (1926) 5+

Won in a Closet (1914, Mabel Normand) 1

Episodes in the Life of a Gin Bottle (1925, Bela von Block) 2

Little Boy Boo (1954, Robert McKimson) (rewatch) 3

Y'a pas de fumée sans feu et en plus c'est vrai / No Smoke Without Fire and Anyway It's True (1996, Nathalie Magnan) 6-
Rumor has it…

Image in the Snow (1952, A Film Poem by Willard Maas) 5-

Wer immer hofft stirbt singend (2018, Alexander Kluge) 4+
9/10 for the title.

Palimpsest Palindrome (1965-1975, Myron Ort) 7
Somewhat like looking under a microscope in which the organisms are on amphetamines, the world is alive with wriggling lines in this edge detection image-obscured guessing game that plays like 10 Oskar Fischinger films superimposed over each other.

Lost and Found Films: ● Delay Exposure, ● EE Control, ● Vibration (1986 Summer, Toshio Matsumoto) 4

The Plague Summer (1953, Chester Kessler) 3

La mort du cerf / Une chasse à courre / Death of a Stag (1951, Dimitri Kirsanoff) 4-

Celery Stalks at Midnight (1951, John Whitney Sr.) 6

とてつもなく大きな / Totetsumonaku okina / Humongous! (2020, Aya Kawazoe) ?

Square Inch Field (David Rimmer, 1968) 7+
I can transcend to that.

The Voices (1953, John Schmitz) 7

Parties visible et invisible d'un ensemble sous tension / The Visible and Invisible of a Body Under Tension (2009, Emmanuel Lefrant) 6
Light is everything except nothing.

Partage des eaux (2014, Jean-Claude Rousseau) 6
…and so I look until I begin to see.

Berliner Stilleben (1926/1931, László Moholy-Nagy) 6

Weltenempfänger (1984, Schmelzdahin) (2 viewings) 6

"Schichlegruber Doing the Lambeth Walk" Assisted by the Gestapo "Hep-Cats" (1941, Charles Ridley) (rewatch)

Danse macabre (1922, Dudley Murphy) (2nd viewing) 5+ (from 4)


music videos

Rob Zombie: The Eternal Struggles of The Howling Man (2021, probably Rob Zombie)


other

Stories from the American Newsreels 1919, ca. 1921; 3 min

Tomatoes Another Day (1930) - Outtakes; 5 min

Visit à l'atelier (Patrick Bokanowski documentary) (2017, Pip Chodorov) 6

Bokanowski on Bokanowski

L'ange (1982) - Trailer

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1601 - Brian Redban (2021) 6+


didn't finish

Luo man di ke xiao wang shi / The Wasted Times (2016, Er Cheng) [36 min]
Shokei no shima / Captive's Island (1966, Masahiro Shinoda) [30 min]
Wer sich traut, reißt die Kälte vom Pferd (2010, Alexander Kluge) [27 min]
Om Dar-B-Dar (1988, Kamal Swaroop) [26 min]
Il deserto dei tartari (French Version) (1976, Valerio Zurlini) [23 min]
Die Kinder der Toten (2019, Kelly Copper & Pavol Liska) [18 min]
The Sex Garage (1972, Fred Halsted) [sum min]


notable online media

top:
THE SIMPSONS. Russian Art Film Version // Симпсоны. Артхаусная русская версия
Werner Herzog Interview über Klaus Kinski bei Alexander Kluge - Team Deutschland - Satire [2x]
Slavoj Žižek Comes Out
PSA from Joe Rogan about Pulling Out
[YT channel "2hou2"]
Joe Rogan Meets Rick Sanchez
rest:
Kid Cudi SIMPS for Kanye
Is System of a Down's Drummer Real?

a collection
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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
LETTERBOXD | MUBI | IMDb | tumblr.
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viktor-vaudevillain
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#4

Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

Gunda (Viktor Kossakovsky, 2020) - 8+

Nefertiti, figlia del sole / Nefertiti: Daughter of the Sun (Guy Gilles, 1994) - 6+

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) - 6

The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz, 2019) - 4+

Toute une nuit (Chantal Akerman, 1982) - 9

Caprice (Emmanuel Mouret, 2015) - 7+

Le Million (René Clair, 1931) - 7+


shorts:

My Name Is Oona (Gunvor Nelson, 1969) - 8

God is a dog (Patrick Carpentier, 2004) - 5

Vapour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015) - 7+

Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis (Daïchi Saïto, 2009) - 7+

Black Bus Stop (Kevin Jerome Everson & Claudrena Harold, 2019) - 7

How Can I Ever Be Late (Kevin Jerome Everson & Claudrena Harold, 2017) - 5

Étude cinégraphique sur une arabesque (Germaine Dulac, 1929) - 9-

+ finished watching season 1 of Babylon Berlin (Tom Tykwer et al., 2017)
not everything is fish, but fish are teeming everywhere
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Lakigigar
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#5

Post by Lakigigar »

Midsommar: 10/10
Home: 10/10 (*)
Blade Runner: 10/10 (*)
Hereditary: 9/10
Ex Drummer: 9/10
Blade Runner 2049: 9/10
Calvaire: 8/10
Howl's Moving Castle: 8/10
The Big Lebowski: 7/10 (*)
La passion de Jeanne D'Arc: 6/10
Capharnaum: 4/10

(*) = rewatch

I don't think i've ever had such a good week. Two awesome rewatches that enter my top 10. A new one that does as well. Two/three other new ones that enter top 25 or 50. Two others in top 100.

My first silent movie i've watched wasn't even bad and got my average score (acting was great). Capharnaum was quite boring though (despite Farhadi - another similar filmmaker) being my 3rd most fav director)
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monclivie
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#6

Post by monclivie »

Lakigigar wrote: February 7th, 2021, 9:21 pm My first silent movie i've watched wasn't even bad and got my average score (acting was great). Capharnaum was quite boring though (despite Farhadi being my 3rd most fav director)
I love many silent films while Joan was quite meh to me, so don't give up :)
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Coryn
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#7

Post by Coryn »

It's just such an atypical movie really.
An amazing one nonetheless
I saved Latin, what did you ever do ?
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Lakigigar
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#8

Post by Lakigigar »

The problem with La passion de Jeanne D'Arc isn't that it's silent (it has intertitles and a score although the director didn't intend to use a score, but I need one lol). The acting is superb (because of lack of focus on voice, it enables more focus on non-verbal communication). Technically it's also great. If it wasn't silent, perhaps people would've said it was made in the 60's (but if it wasn't silent, I doubt the acting would still be that great. But certainly ahead of it's time and probably very experimental for it's age, though i've no framework to judge on.)

That being said, the theme isn't my cup of tea. I'm not that much of a fan of a movie that portrays one person as a hero or martyr without questioning. For the same reason, I don't care about religious movies like The Passion of the Christ either. It's well-made sure and I wasn't bored, but it's not my cup of tea.

Sunrise will be my next silent movie (or Metropolis). But i'll probably watch M Before that. I might give some 40's movies a shot too like Casablanca. Previously the oldest movie i've watched that 1. wasn't a short (le chien andalou and le voyage dans la lune) and 2. wasn't disney animation was Los olvidados in 1950, so this was 22 yrs older.

I still think i'll dislike musicals of than, slapstick movies (almost always hate that, even in Home Alone or those comedy cop movies), Chaplin movies and Wizard of Oz.) But i'll probably be able to find some gems too. I think I need to rewatch los olvidados, letyat zhuravli and le salaire de la peur. I also saw The African Queen as a child and liked it. I might like some Ford westerns. And i've never seen a Hitchcock i've rated below 9/10 so far.
Coryn wrote: February 7th, 2021, 10:22 pm It's just such an atypical movie really.
I watched it exactly because I expected it to be atypical. I thought if I am only going to watch one silent in my life, it has to be that one, but I'll probably watch a few others, perhaps more depending whether I like them or if Le passion de Jeanne D'Arc was "the" exception, so at least it further awakened my interest in silents so in that regard it got the job done (and I'll probably watch vredens dag and ordet too someday)
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monclivie
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#9

Post by monclivie »

Lakigigar wrote: February 7th, 2021, 10:48 pm Sunrise will be my next silent movie (or Metropolis). But i'll probably watch M Before that. I might give some 40's movies a shot too like Casablanca. Previously the oldest movie i've watched that 1. wasn't a short (le chien andalou and le voyage dans la lune) and 2. wasn't disney animation was Los olvidados in 1950, so this was 22 yrs older.

I still think i'll dislike musicals of than, slapstick movies (almost always hate that, even in Home Alone or those comedy cop movies), Chaplin movies and Wizard of Oz.) But i'll probably be able to find some gems too. I think I need to rewatch los olvidados, letyat zhuravli and le salaire de la peur. I also saw The African Queen as a child and liked it. I might like some Ford westerns. And i've never seen a Hitchcock i've rated below 9/10 so far.
I think you should give a chance to Sherlock Jr. for example, which is shortish and not relying on slapstick only and would let you judge if silent comedy has a chance to be your thing, because it doesn't get much better than that. For any beginner i would also recommend The Crowd which is a great film on its own, but also so timelessly relatable like it's one of these 21st century tributes to the silent era.
I hated Metropolis and it would discourage me for years if it was my introduction to silents, but probably i'm alone with that feeling, since it's a generally acclaimed film and I seem to have some problem with most of the German expressionist movies which are simply not fun at all to me, annoyingly overacted and overstylized at the expense of storytelling. On the other hand, Sunrise is one of my all time favorites.
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RolandKirkSunglasses
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#10

Post by RolandKirkSunglasses »

A very busy week with little activity outside of movie watching. Had to finish off a couple lists and continue plowing through 50s Japan, overall a disappointing week with my sleeping patterns out of whack, may have impacted my views.

All My Compatriots (1969): Starts off as a charming film of a closely-knit community until the Soviets ruin everything. Sometimes hard to keep up with all the different characters but still quite a good film.

Baron Prasil (1962): So inventive and fun, more ambitious than "Invention for Destruction" even if it sometimes feels like an exercise in mysti-mation (a very good one at that). Will need to see more from Karel Zeman.

Barravento (1962): Haven't seen a Glauber Rocha movie in a very long time, "Barravento" has some interesting visuals but not as strong as other films based around poor fishing communities like "La Pointe Courte" or "La Terra Trema".

Chinese Roulette (1976): A married couple both wind up at the country home with their respective lovers in tow, their discovery of their mutual deceit is delightful, but it felt too slow in places and the emotional devastation wasn't as palpable in my opinion.

The Man Who Lies (1968): Surprisingly dull story of an unreliable narrator with little to offer besides pretty women (Alain Robbe-Grillet was a weird one).

Swing Time (1936): Being a Fred and Ginger musical, the storyline sucks but the dancing is great.

Easy Rider (1969): Jack Nicholson is the only enjoyable thing about this movie, he's just not in it for long enough. Rather annoying and dull, didn't work at all for me.

American Graffiti (1973): Another movie I had to sit through to complete the AFI's top 100 list. I'm not a big George Lucas fan so I didn't enjoy it.

Sophie's Choice (1982): This film was very different to how I expected it to be. Sure it's Oscar bait and Meryl Streep has to keep an accent for 150 minutes. Feels disjointed with a rather odd tone throughout, at least I got my first platinum award.

Ashik Kerib (1988): Parajanov's weakest film, he couldn't even afford a proper tiger for this one. Interesting in places but the lack of budget hurts.

Moonfleet (1955): Really don't know what to make of this, a costume drama with a hidden treasure, smugglers and George Sanders. Oddly watchable despite some ridiculous moments.

The Party (1968): I wasn't offended by Peter Sellers' faux-Indian accent, I didn't find the romance subplot all that believable either. Feels like a handful of jokes stretched as far as they can go (the drunk waiter got very tedious very quickly). Quite a dud.

America, America (1963): Very disconcerting to see/hear Turks, Greeks and Armenians speaking English, it really drags on and on despite some lush cinematography by Haskell Wexler.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1959): If the print was in higher quality I would've enjoyed it more, I'll have to see more from Jiri Trnka.

White Bird Marked with Black (1971): Has some nice cinematography though if you don't know much about Ukrainian history during the war you won't understand everything going on (like me).

Times of Joy and Sorrow (1957): I wanted to like this sweeping story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife over the decades but it never builds up the characters enough, skips ahead in time too quickly and can't compete with the more sentimental "24 Eyes", with the same actress and director.

Untamed (1957): Hideko Takamine is a strong, confident woman who can't be kept down by no man, she's quickly becoming one of my favourite actresses. Another good film by Mikio Naruse with a small role for Tatsuya Nakadai too.

Snow Country (1957): The snow-capped locations look beautiful but I found it quite long-winded and not that interesting, I think the book might be shorter than the movie.

Cinderella (1950): The movie that transformed the fortunes of Walt Disney uses too much comic relief with little character build up. The Prince is a non-entity and the mice get all the personality. Some decent bits of animation but overall I think Snow White is Disney's best.

I Am Waiting (1957): Starts off as an interesting noir, the second half becomes a rather contrived mystery but that final fight is good. Good direction and decent acting saves a subpar script in my opinion.

Alice in Wonderland (1951): Halfway house between too weird and too straightforward. A couple good scenes and a lot of annoying filler. I'd rather watch Svankmajer's version.

Morgiana (1972): A fabulous looking film, builds up a head of steam until the disappointing finale which may have been studio enforced. Not as good as "The Cremator".

Intimate Lighting (1965): An odd, low-budget film not quite as great as its reputation suggests, enough musical charm to make it a brisk watch.

Stakeout (1958): Surprisingly good police procedural with polished widescreen cinematography. Could've easily gotten very boring very fast but it keeps your interest until the end.

Letter Never Sent (1960): Amazing visuals, shame about the story. Felt the same way about "Cranes are Flying", it must be Tatyana Samoilova, didn't like her in "Anna Karenina" either.

Limite (1931): Was not in the right mood to watch this (you could say that about lots of films this week!) Some gorgeous transitions and visuals but the lack of plot made it drag.

The Loyal 47 Ronin (1958): Rather mundane version of this epic story, so much is shot indoors to show off the costumes. I'll have to check out the Inagaki version sometime.

Rickshaw Man (1958): The story moves in fits and starts, Hideko Takamine's husband is killed off as an afterthought, Mifune is asked to carry the film but it's not sure if it's a comedy or a melodrama. Didn't work for me at all.

Sun-Tribe Myth of the Bakumatsu Era (1957): Rewatch of a great film full of energy and wit, this time I felt like I could follow all the characters better. A great comedy and my favourite Japanese film of that year.

Vertigo (1958): It's been several years since I've last seen this film, about 8 or 9 years ago I went through a phase of watching it all the time, unravelling all its mysteries, the symbolism and everything. It pains me to admit this but on a rewatch I really couldn't get past the increasingly silly plot.
Spoiler
I've never been convinced by Gavin Elster's overly-complicated plan to kill off his wife, it seems like far too much effort for one guy to think up. So he concocts an entire farrago about a dead woman from the past, hires a lookalike and coaches her relentlessly to play her role, waits for one of his old friends to develop agoraphobia at just the right time so he can fail to climb all the way up a tower to stop the "suicidal wife" from throwing herself off.
I feel a bit sorry for Kim Novak, I don't think Hitch wanted her for the role and she's got such a convoluted character it would've been tough for any actress to pull off, it also doesn't help her lack of chemistry with Jimmy Stewart who looked way too old for her. The soundtrack I used to love felt rather intrusive and a little manipulative, and the ending is symptomatic of the main fault of the film: it has lots of great ideas and powerful themes but can't fashion a convincing or plausible story to connect them all. Sorry Hitch, I used to love this film a long time ago but not anymore, I refuse to dwell on the past like Scottie.
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prodigalgodson
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#11

Post by prodigalgodson »

Geez is it that time already? Hope things are better in your parts sol.

Vineyard IV (Robert Fulton, 1968) 6/10

It's a very minor work, but what a joy just to watch what Fulton does with the camera. I'm trying to figure out how he pulls off his trademark swoosh of the camera. It's distinct from when he's carrying it and running, when the frame jostles more. Maybe he's standing still or leaning forward while extending his arms, but the motion looks too quick and protracted. Oh, to have a camera so heavy that handheld looked so smooth. Meanwhile the sea and the shore always make nice subjects.

[Thanks for the letterboxd info btw pda, sorry not to reply, I read it on my email. Fascinating stuff, I'll definitely be renting that documentary and I appreciate the highlights. I'm out filming a handheld segment tomorrow, I'll have to try some of that tai chi camerawork and see if it doesn't just look tacky. My few fumbling attempts at it in Termite Gumbo came out pretty wack, (hopefully) disguised by the quick cuts. I'm not nearly as attuned to the minutiae of my body as it sounds like Fulton is -- maybe that's one reason he was able to keep the camera gliding so steadily, or maybe the central grip on the Bolex helped, and certainly the shot length did. Maybe in some future yoga-and-meditation phase of life I'll be able to master steady-cam-less camera control.]

Kata (Robert Fulton, 1967) 8/10

The essence of 20th century Americana in 2 minutes...and a cat.

The Two Sights (Joshua Bonnetta, 2020) 9/10 - thanks for Mothravka for the rec/link!

Quite simply some of the best use of natural light the medium has to offer. One tracking shot from a boat, my god, I've never seen anything like it. Sea, sky, and land are almost never done cinematic justice like this, and even the rare glimpses of interior we get have a painterly glow. The soundtrack compliments the images beautifully, though I can't say I was too convinced by the vague anecdotes regarding second sight (the story about the beached whale crushing itself to death is pretty visceral though). The only film I can imagine thanking both Gareth Evans and Nico Pereda in the credits.
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Onderhond
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#12

Post by Onderhond »

@sol:
With JCVD, Yummy, Cub and Let The Corpses Tan you picked some pretty solid BE films this week. They're all in the 3.5*4.0* range for me. Hunted look nice, hadn't heard about that one before, so might be watching that in the near future. Seen a bunch of your other films too (Bliss,the Zombies, Logan) but either don't remember them too well or didn't like them very much. Also lol at you watching Flodder. An undertaking I haven't dared to try since I started getting serious about film.

@prodigalgodson:
Haven't seen any of yours this week. Watch more films! :lol:
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#13

Post by Lonewolf2003 »

My viewings for the first week of the second month of 2021 mainly consited of a run on the F&F franchise, cause they are leaving Netflix soon here. So that was a good incentive to (re)watch those. Had seen the first two last week.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift [The Fast and the Furious 3] (2006, Justin Lin): 7.0 - This is the biggest outlier in the franchise. I think nobody expected and very few wanted a movie about a high school kid getting mixed up in the drifting scene and yakuza's after being banned to Tokyo. The protagonist is bland (he gives Paul Walker a run for his money for blandest protagonist) plus the plot is forgettable, but thanks to Lin's directing this is still a good entry in the series. While this was only his first in the series, it strangely feels like he was given the most cart blanche with this. It feels like the entry he most was able to put his personal stamp on. Especially the music choices are very inspired. Combined with some good stylized directing it manages to create some good moods, f.e. a melancholic ride through the hills

Fast & Furious [Fast & Furious 4] (2009, Justin Lin) rewatch: 3.5 > 6.2 - While liking it much more than last time, is still the weakest of this bunch. It sees the return of the original gang, but with that also the problems of the first two movies, especially the first. Like those this one tries to do what this series doesn't excel at; infusing some dramatic tension and character developments into it. The whole plot of Paul Walker upending his whole career and life and breaking bad for the apparent charisma of Vin Diesel is as unconvincing this time as it was in the first film. Still there is enough to enjoy and glimpses of the direction Lin would take the series in from now on, f.e. in the very enjoyable opening heist. What is noticeable is that the inspired musical choice Lin made in Tokyo Drift here made way for a very standard bombastic blockbuster score.

Fast Five [The Fast and the Furious 5] (2011, Justin Lin) rewatch: 6.5 > 7.2 - I already liked and liked even more this time. It is the entry in which the series went from being about street racers into action packed heist films. Lin keeps the dramatic moments and character development to the bare needed minimum. The whole gang has fun chemistry together. But most important the action and stunts are highly enjoyable. The final car chase while dragging a vault through to the street is as ridiculous as it is enjoyable

Fast & Furious 6 [Fast 6] (2013, Justin Lin): 7.0 - Offers more of the same as Five. Which is also its problem, it feels a bit stale. I was kind of disappointed Lin wasn't able to be more creative with this entry instead of repeating himself. Although there are some inspired music choices in this again, that deviate from the standard blockbuster scores. The action is even more over the top spectacular. Like one characters says in the next: not only did they take out a tank, but also the biggest *bleep* plane ever. Still a very enjoyable movie. But I think it was a a good decision to pass the series to someone else after this.

Furious 7 (2015. James Wan): 7.5 - Wan understand realism left this series already a few entries ago and goes all out. The action in this is even more fantastically over the top spectacular. The dramatic moments on the other hand are also more insufferable melodramatic. The good far outweighs the bad luckily, especially in the second half when the action really get going. Still the ending due to Paul Walkers real passing is touching.

The Fate of the Furious (2017, F. Gary Gray): 6.2 - Def a step down from the previous entries, cause Gray just isn’t as good in directing action and car chases as Lin and Wan are. The start in Cuba is good, but the big finale is a bit lackluster. It attempts and fails to deepen the themes of the series and psychology of the characters by having Vin question his loyalty to family. Theron makes for a laughable incapable whiny baddie. Still there is enough to enjoy for a watchable 136 mins, not in the least thanks to the Rock and Stratham.

Xiao Wu [Pickpocket] (1998, Zhangke Jia): 6.5 - Zhangke Jia's second film has the themes and style already of his later works, but isn't as captivating yet.

Tout est pardonné [All Is Forgiven] (2007, Mia Hansen-Løve): 8.0

Véronique et son cancre [Véronique and Her Dunce] (1958, Eric Rohmer): 6.8 - Decent amusing early short by Rohmer about a tutor who gets mixed by the questions and remarks of her young student. Works nicely as an illustartion of how not to tutor.

Présentation ou Charlotte et son steak [Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak] (1960, Eric Rohmer)): 4.8 - Technically compent made, but rather boring. Nice also for people wanting to see a young Jean-Luc Godard act.

The Last Airbender (2010, M. Night Shyamalan): 1.5 - I've watched the series this month, so wanted to see for myself if this was indeed as bad as its reputation. Too bad it was even worse. This is so completely ineptly made, an incoherent mess. It's no wonder that Noah Ringer (the boy who plays the Avatar) was only cast in one role after this, seldom have I seen worse acting in such a big production. This is among the worst movies I've ever seen.

Le Signe du lion [The Sign of Leo] (1962, Eric Rohmer): 7.8 - It's remarkable how much better Rohmer first feature is compared to his short. A very good character study about a man's decline in poverty. It's much more Nouvelle Vague than his later output. It has the lively spirit of Nouvelle Vague films that keeps it from being depressing despite its subject. It also has a nice realism. It's great use of locations reminded me of Varda's debut. The final act was a bit too fabricated ironic for my taste, dragging the film down a bit.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002, Kelly Asbury & Lorna Cook): 5.0 - I really liked how it tries do something different by not having talking animals like most animations, but conveys the horse's emotions through his behavior and facial expressions. But the story is sappy. On top of that the soundtrack by Bryan Adams is horribly corny. The movie drops immensely as soon as he begins to sing.
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#14

Post by sol »

Onderhond wrote: February 8th, 2021, 10:54 am @sol:
With JCVD, Yummy, Cub and Let The Corpses Tan you picked some pretty solid BE films this week. They're all in the 3.5*4.0* range for me. Hunted look nice, hadn't heard about that one before, so might be watching that in the near future. Seen a bunch of your other films too (Bliss,the Zombies, Logan) but either don't remember them too well or didn't like them very much. Also lol at you watching Flodder. An undertaking I haven't dared to try since I started getting serious about film.
Yeah, the Belgian stuff that I have been watching for the Official Challenge has generally been better than the Dutch stuff. Let the Corpses Tan in particular; that was really a spectacular viewing. The vast majority of what else I have lined up to watch is Dutch, but maybe I should change that...

Hunted is a Shudder original so it might be tricky to find outside of that. It is a pretty great film, though no idea whether it would really be to your taste.

Flodder was, er, decent. I mean, it is pretty much an 80s sex comedy (the type of thing you'd hate but I don't mind), however, the film also has this fun satire to offer with yuppie snobs getting a comeuppance. I liked it okay. The sequels are not a priority for me though. I didn't like the film *that* much.

Yours:

You've watched a lot of film this week that I love but that I'm not surprised that you hate. My favourite of the bunch is probably The Producers, though I really dug Heaven & Earth too. Very much my sorta film. Shame you didn't get more out of your Pierce Brosnan Bond run. Die Another Day is not as bad as its reputation might suggest, but I love Brosnan's other Bond efforts so much that it really pales in comparison for me. I especially love the fact that TWINE saddled the series with its first female chief villain. Good luck with the Daniel Craig movies. They are the least goofy of the entire franchise so I think you'll hate them. Maybe not Spectre because Christoph Waltz goes all megalomaniac there, closer to the 80s Moore villains that the environmentalist villains we get (oh yes; I kid you not) in the likes of Quantum of Solace.
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#15

Post by Onderhond »

sol wrote: February 8th, 2021, 12:47 pm Yeah, the Belgian stuff that I have been watching for the Official Challenge has generally been better than the Dutch stuff. Let the Corpses Tan in particular; that was really a spectacular viewing. The vast majority of what else I have lined up to watch is Dutch, but maybe I should change that...
Let the Corpses Tan is the best worst film I've ever seen I think. It's made up of just about everything I dislike, but it's glued together in such a way that it really impressed me. If you're looking for more Belgian tips (though I'm not sure what you've already seen), Any Way the Wind Blows is definitely recommended. Shot in Antwerp and serves a rather quirky, slightly surreal night in our city. Small Gods is pretty cool too (indie/dark/horror material) and Adoration (the latest Du Welz) is also making a name for itself.

sol wrote: February 8th, 2021, 12:47 pmMy favourite of the bunch is probably The Producers, though I really dug Heaven & Earth too. Very much my sorta film.
The Producers I kinda get (comedy, taste and all that), but Heaven & Earth really surprises me. It came off as overly eager Academy material, not really the kind of film I associate with your taste.
sol wrote: February 8th, 2021, 12:47 pmShame you didn't get more out of your Pierce Brosnan Bond run.
Myeah, I've just watched the last one this morning and while slightly better than the previous two (mostly because of the set pieces and slightly better action scenes), they disappointed me. I think Brosnan could be great as Bond, but not action-Bond. As for Craig, I've already seen Skyfall which I absolutely hated, so not expecting too much from these films.
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#16

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sol wrote: February 7th, 2021, 12:00 pm The Roost (2005). Presented as a film-within-a-film, this auspicious debut feature from Ti West is a remarkable to testament to the power of innovation on a shoestring budget. Set primarily at a barn in the middle of nowhere with low lighting and some of the eeriest music and audio effects ever combined together, this a genuinely unsettling experience as four stranded friends awaken a colony of bats. There is some other more fantastical horror stuff in the mix, but the film works best when the bats are the drivers of the terror with an especially spooky part where one victim inadvertently plunges to his death. The acting is not the best, but fortunately there is ample mood and atmosphere for the film to never bore during its brief duration. The horror themed radio plays and the black-and-white wraparound segment also really enhance the general ambience. (first viewing, online) ★★★
I've seen this, but I don'/t have it rated... disliked it from memory. The Innkeepers wasn't bad, but House of the Devil is really the only West film that I think is worth anything.
The last 2 weeks have been a blur 'cause of work (and having 50% of my reports out for medical problems, meaning I have to cover a bunch of clinical rounds, in addition to all my other stuff) .
I can't even really recall offhand what I saw last week except that Touchez pas au grisbi was very good and a mild fav. I need to find a better copy other than the one I saw online. Prob rewatch it at some point. Saw some cool shorts on YT too.

Oh, i remember...

@Onderhond- thanks for rec on Ménilmontant. I watched it for the AG challenge and it was excellent.
Perception de Ambiguity wrote: February 7th, 2021, 1:22 pm
wheel of samsara
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ImageWheel of Ashes (1968, Peter Emmanuel Goldman) 8
Le beau extraordinaire starring as the same sad sack of shit that I am.
Nice. Added to wl.
RolandKirkSunglasses wrote: February 8th, 2021, 4:07 am Morgiana (1972): A fabulous looking film, builds up a head of steam until the disappointing finale which may have been studio enforced. Not as good as "The Cremator".
Yep.
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#17

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Onderhond wrote: February 8th, 2021, 1:02 pmSmall Gods is pretty cool too (indie/dark/horror material)
Thanks. Added that one to my Watchlist. Might get to it in time for next week's thread.
Onderhond wrote: February 8th, 2021, 1:02 pm
sol wrote: February 8th, 2021, 12:47 pmMy favourite of the bunch is probably The Producers, though I really dug Heaven & Earth too. Very much my sorta film.
The Producers I kinda get (comedy, taste and all that), but Heaven & Earth really surprises me. It came off as overly eager Academy material, not really the kind of film I associate with your taste.
It's been seven years (I just checked) so I'm a little hazy and can't comment on specifics, but this is what I wrote about the film at the time:
Spoiler
Told from the viewpoint of a Vietnamese civilian, Heaven & Earth offers a unique perspective on the Vietnam War rarely seen in American cinema. Newcomer Hiep Thi Le is superb as the young Vietnamese lady in question who suffers at the hands of the Viet Cong and does what she can to survive, eventually taken to America by a marine full of promises he cannot fulfill. The film has attained a decidedly mixed reputation, with some labelling it as heavy-handed, and with Oliver Stone at the helm, it is not exactly a subtle affair. The voice-over narration often spells out what is going on and the spiritualism falls flat, but at its best, the film is every bit as powerful as Platoon. Stone does a great job establishing the lush, tranquil Vietnamese landscapes early on, soon to be ravaged by unspeakable violence, and the torture scenes to come are shockingly brutal. Her experiences in America are well captured too, with extreme high and low camera angles showing how overwhelmed she is, and a trip to the supermarket becomes particularly daunting simply due to how Robert Richardson shoots it. The editing is great also (especially the flashes as he points a gun to her head) and Kitarô's Golden Globe winning score is perfectly atmospheric throughout with a distinct oriental flavour.
peeptoad wrote: February 8th, 2021, 1:52 pm
sol wrote: February 7th, 2021, 12:00 pm The Roost (2005). Presented as a film-within-a-film, this auspicious debut feature from Ti West is a remarkable to testament to the power of innovation on a shoestring budget. Set primarily at a barn in the middle of nowhere with low lighting and some of the eeriest music and audio effects ever combined together, this a genuinely unsettling experience as four stranded friends awaken a colony of bats. There is some other more fantastical horror stuff in the mix, but the film works best when the bats are the drivers of the terror with an especially spooky part where one victim inadvertently plunges to his death. The acting is not the best, but fortunately there is ample mood and atmosphere for the film to never bore during its brief duration. The horror themed radio plays and the black-and-white wraparound segment also really enhance the general ambience. (first viewing, online) ★★★
I've seen this, but I don'/t have it rated... disliked it from memory. The Innkeepers wasn't bad, but House of the Devil is really the only West film that I think is worth anything.
The last 2 weeks have been a blur 'cause of work (and having 50% of my reports out for medical problems, meaning I have to cover a bunch of clinical rounds, in addition to all my other stuff) .
I can't even really recall offhand what I saw last week except that Touchez pas au grisbi was very good and a mild fav. I need to find a better copy other than the one I saw online. Prob rewatch it at some point. Saw some cool shorts on YT too.
You're not alone on disliking The Roost, but I don't know, watched under the right conditions (all alone late at night with windy noises outside), I found it to be genuinely scary most of the time. The supernatural stuff less so, but it's just chilling to me the idea of bats not attacking human beings, but causing them to accidentally lemming to their death. I dunno. As I was telling flavo elsewhere, House of the Devil is an OOP DVD here, but given how much I liked The Roost and The Innkeepers, I would be very impressed if it is in fact better than those two.

Sorry to hear about your problems at work. I was (finally) back at work today. Teaching in masks. Don't ask me how. Not seen Touchez pas au grisbi, but I've definitely seen some of those great images over the years. Love the Criterion cover art.
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#18

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sol wrote: February 8th, 2021, 12:47 pm
Onderhond wrote: February 8th, 2021, 10:54 am @sol:
With JCVD, Yummy, Cub and Let The Corpses Tan you picked some pretty solid BE films this week. They're all in the 3.5*4.0* range for me. Hunted look nice, hadn't heard about that one before, so might be watching that in the near future. Seen a bunch of your other films too (Bliss,the Zombies, Logan) but either don't remember them too well or didn't like them very much. Also lol at you watching Flodder. An undertaking I haven't dared to try since I started getting serious about film.
Yeah, the Belgian stuff that I have been watching for the Official Challenge has generally been better than the Dutch stuff.
:folded:



:P
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#19

Post by prodigalgodson »

sol - hope things are getting better for you down there!
Limite 10 - film as a dream, one of the most exciting uses of the medium I've seen
Blue - only know this film's reputation, and nothing about it, so thanks for the insight, sounds right up my alley!
Logan 7 - maybe a bit overhyped, but yeah, I was very impressed too, and easily my favorite of the X-franchise
Tom, Tom the Piper's Son - another major entry in the experimental canon I'm looking forward to getting around to at some point

hond
Time of the Gypsies - I've only seen (and loved) Underground, but I'm pleasantly surprised Kusturica's style works at all for you, especially the cinematography; I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover but the DVD sleeve of this looked so godawful I passed up on renting it several times from my favorite SF video store
The World Is Not Enough - my introduction to the Bond mythos, and I haven't seen it since I was a kid, but I enjoyed it pretty well then
48 Hrs. 5 - didn't make much of an impression
Killer of Sheep 9 - I love the camerawork/style/anti-narrative approach, etc., a well-deserved classic whose influence in the subsequent decades is obvious
39 Steps 6 - enjoyed it, especially the last third, but also found it a bit overrated
The Hitch-hiker 9 - one of my favorite noirs at the time but I'd imagine it wouldn't make as much of an impression now; nevertheless love the barebones style, imagery, and atmosphere

pda - wouldn't mind revisiting some Bokanowski myself
Wild Geese 9 - wowww, unexpected
Moonrise 9 - fell in love with the aesthetic/mise-en-scene, wonder if it would contain the same magic for me now
Closed Vision - liked this okay at the time but I was still pretty new to this kind of thing, and don't have any specific memories of it
Wheel of Ashes - groovy, sounds up my alley too
Battements solaires 8 - dug this
La canard a l'orange 7 - pretty wonky shit if I remember
Dejeuner du matin 8 - freaky stuff
Flammes 7 - just remember it as L'ange outtakes (if that's this one), but still enjoyed it
Image in the Snow 8 - aww I liked this a lot at the time, no guarantee at all I would now
Death of a Stag 8 - another chapter in my early experimental film discovery, and I loved it, think it was even on a favorites list at one point
Celery Stalks at Midnight 6 - minor but fun, thought my 15-year-old self
Danse Macabre 7 - enjoying that old Kino avant garde set, are we?; thought this was more than solid at the time

vv
Jaws 6 - pretty much
Le Million 7 - charmant
Vapour - got a link? :D

laki
Blade Runner 9 - not a major favorite of mine, but a justified classic
Hereditary 3 - no idea how this picked up so much steam
Blade Runner 2049 8 - loved the look and atmosphere
The Big Lebowski 10 - the best thing ever
Passion of Joan of Ark 5 - not my cup of tea when I first saw it, but I'd probably like it more now

rks
Chinese Roulette 3 - I usually love Fassbinder, but nothing about this worked for me
Easy Rider 6 - solid encapsulation of the contemporary zeitgeist, but can't say it really spoke to me
American Graffiti 9 - utterly delightful, and not the kind of thing I'd usually like
Moonfleet 6 - felt like I should've loved this, and hope to see it again
The Party 7 - showing its age, but still an amusing and amusingly sustained gag
America, America 6 - didn't quite work for me, but still the most interesting thing Kazan's done
Snow Country 5 - didn't work too well as a film for me either, but I love the book
Limite 10 - plot schmlot, filmmaking at its most inspired and adventurous
Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate 9 - justified classic and thoroughly entertaining, wouldn't mind seeing it again myself
Vertigo 10 - my go-to favorite if anyone were to ask; Elster's plot is far-fetched but to me it works so well within the nightmarish, convoluted context of the film; Novak gives one of my favorite performances ever here too

wolf
Veronique and Her Dunce 6 - "decent"'s a good descriptor
Presentation or... 7 - actually dug this a lot
Spirit - one of my favorite animations as a kid, but I think that's just because I've always been drawn to Western mystique
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#20

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prodigalgodson wrote: February 10th, 2021, 4:50 am sol - hope things are getting better for you down there!
Limite 10 - film as a dream, one of the most exciting uses of the medium I've seen
Blue - only know this film's reputation, and nothing about it, so thanks for the insight, sounds right up my alley!
Logan 7 - maybe a bit overhyped, but yeah, I was very impressed too, and easily my favorite of the X-franchise
Tom, Tom the Piper's Son - another major entry in the experimental canon I'm looking forward to getting around to at some point
Yeah, bushfires are under control and Covid restrictions have eased (thanks for asking) though I did have to return to work this week in a facemask.

I likewise knew almost nothing about Blue before selecting it for this month's challenge. I knew that it was a blue screen + voices, but I had always assumed that it was more of a gimmick film and I didn't realise that it was Jarman's final/penultimate film and almost last will and testament. Really powerful stuff.

Agreed about Logan being the best of the X-Men films. I was kind of going "what the hell?" at first, but as soon as the girl lets out her powers, it becomes a well acted, character-based ride while still pumping up the action.

Tom, Tom is more interesting in theory than practice (as with a lot of experimental stuff, it feels longer than it ought to be and consequently quite repetitive). And sure, Limite was a pretty lovely ride. Hard to believe that it was its director's only film!

Yours:

Seen none. Saw a couple of Fulton shorts that were nominated for the DTC in previous years; visually interesting stuff but evidently not enough so for me to seek out more yet.
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#21

Post by Onderhond »

prodigalgodson wrote: February 10th, 2021, 4:50 am Time of the Gypsies - I've only seen (and loved) Underground, but I'm pleasantly surprised Kusturica's style works at all for you, especially the cinematography; I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover but the DVD sleeve of this looked so godawful I passed up on renting it several times from my favorite SF video store
Oh, I can't count the amount of films I watched/neglected because of a cover. For a visually-inclined person as myself, I think many give a good idea of what to expect :) As for Kusturica's style, it's definitely a bit hit and miss, but I can't say it's boring or uneventful, which is something I appreciate.
prodigalgodson wrote: February 10th, 2021, 4:50 am Killer of Sheep 9 - I love the camerawork/style/anti-narrative approach
The Hitch-hiker 9 - nevertheless love the barebones style, imagery, and atmosphere
I'm easier attracted to maximalist or at least highly stylized films. I guess that explains the big differences in scores.
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#22

Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

prodigalgodson wrote: February 10th, 2021, 4:50 am
vv
Jaws 6 - pretty much
Le Million 7 - charmant
Vapour - got a link? :D
I sent you a PM.

Of yours this week, I've seen the two Fulton's, and (of course) those are great. Probably rate 'em the same as you.

Looking forward to the new Bonnetta. His American Colour is fantastic and one of the best American experimental films of the last decade, but I still haven't seen any of his other films. I missed a screening of El mar la mar back in '17, and just haven't gotten around to it since, though I've only heard good stuff about it. Maybe I should reignite my Bonnetta flame with his new feature?
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