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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 6, 2021

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 6, 2021

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Post by sol »

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

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

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

This is what I saw:

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

Rameau’s Nephew (1974). Michael Snow examines language and the absurdity of using sound to communicate in this lengthy but always intriguing experimental film. Of particular note is a narrator who struggles to pronounce the ridiculously long credits, three office workers trying to work out if "that piece of cheese" or other inanimate objects are talking based on sound direction, and subjects speaking gibberish wherein every few words sounds like actual words (Snow challenging us to avoid making meaning based on a few random sounds). There are also a lot of overlong sound effects sequences and the whole thing feels random and unfocused compared to the likes of <---> or So Is This, but Snow's overall critical look at language and sound resonates, right down to the insane full-length title that blurs how ownership is denoted in language. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

The Dress (1996). Passing through various owners, a summer dress brings bad luck with it as those who wear and see it become obsessed with it in this Dutch comedy from Alex van Warmerdam. As per usual for the director, this is a very strange and quirky film; it also blends comedy and tragedy, quite often in an uneasy way, but the film is consistently fascinating for its depiction of obsessed human beings who believe and even declare "I'm normal!" despite clearly being anything but. There is also a lot zany weirdness in the mix, from a pig owner who believes that his pet has a human soul (and that's not the least of it), to teeth brushing in a public park, to the ending where the extent of obsession really takes full swing. There is really never a boring moment to be had as van Warmerdam tracks the progression of an inanimate object during its existence. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Character (1997). Prime suspect in the murder of his father, a lawyer is grilled by the police and recounts his rocky relationship with his father in this Dutch period drama. Some of the period detail is nice and the film benefits from an atmospheric music score; as a narrative though, this never quite feels as tight and focused as it could have been. The tension between son and father simmers whenever together; a scene in which he wins a job by being fluent in English is pretty intense too. Same goes for a nightmare that almost eventuates in reality. Much of the film though wanders between romantic interests, having good times with his mother's boarder, and clashing with his mother - none of which is ever as involving as the estranged father/son angle. The slow pacing does not help either given the whole thriller-like framing device of a police interrogation. (first viewing, online) ★★

Wild Things (1998). Accused of raping two students, a guidance counselor's life spirals downhill, but not everything is as it seems in this noir-like thriller. At first, this seems like a conventional if harrowing tale of a man whose reputation is tarred by possibly false accusations. Around a third of the way in though, the filmmakers begin turning things on their head, and while the array of twists almost feel like a gimmick with their abundance, they keep the film constantly intriguing. It is nicely often hard to predict the direction where things are heading. None of the characters are especially likeable, but appropriately so as the film is full of unsavory characters undone by their own doings. The plot probably does not stand up to close scrutiny and the need to explain things further during the end credits feels like a writing shortfall, but this is generally encapsulating. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Miss Minoes (2001). Inexplicably transformed into a woman, a curious cat befriends a milquetoast reporter and uses cat gossip to help him write juicy stories in this delightful Dutch comedy. The plot does not make total sense and there is surprisingly little focus on her snooping around to find great news stories, but the film generally works thanks to the performances of several well-trained cats and Carice van Houten's magnificent turn as the cat in human form. Her every mannerism right down to the way she walks feels feline while also running a whole gamut of human emotions, and she lights up the film whenever on screen. Sarah Bannier is also excellent as the reporter's young neighbour who gets in on the action too. As the reporter himself, Theo Maassen is pretty bland - perhaps deliberately so, but he is a weak link in a very decent family film. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Black Book (2006). A Jewish woman recalls how she worked undercover for the Dutch Resistance in this World War II thriller from Paul Verhoeven. The framing device is strange and adds nothing to the tale, only reducing the impact of what would have been a great ending were it not for a clunky bookend. What happens in between the bookends is excellent though; while lengthy, this is nary a boring moment as Verhoeven captures the uncertain, paranoia-fueled atmosphere of the times in which no characters are completely good or evil with hazy loyalties and hidden agendas. Carice van Houten is superb, facing betrayal and forced to fend for herself at various points. Sebastian Koch is equally good though as a Nazi officer who she gets close to and who eventually proves to himself to be much more human than some of the Resistance workers. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Haywire (2011). Framed and betrayed by those closest to her, a government agent has to evade pursuit as she tries to uncover why she was set up in this Steven Soderbergh thriller. While her fighting skills and athleticism are undeniable, Gina Carano is hardly the most charismatic actress and a bit bland for a protagonist. Her struggle to clear her name is hardly new or original either. Soderbergh does an amazing job as usual though visualising the material with lots of supersaturated colours, especially blues at night. His upbeat music choices are nicely quirky too; the project has a definite Ocean's vibe, minus the great banter between characters. There is a superb rooftop/stairwells chase in the mix too, though Soderbergh does not generally pump up the action; the title is misleading, though appropriately so given the false allegations that she has gone haywire. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Oldboy (2013). Watched without the Korean original fresh in mind, Spike Lee's Oldboy remake makes for decent viewing, but it definitely feels less energetic and less haunting than the original. Lee foreshadows the story's shock ending a little too heavily for it to sting while the action feels much more sporadic in this take. It is a slickly filmed production though with some fantastic colour filters, awesome memory walkthroughs and a powerful look at the debilitating effects of isolation in the earlier scenes. Apparently over half an hour of character-building was deleted by the studio against Lee's wishes, and with how the early scenes really tap into the main character, what Lee was going for sort of makes sense. In actuality though, this feels like the original watered down just a tad; not a boring film by any means but hardly enthralling either. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

I Kill Giants (2017). Believing in the existence of giants that she has to protect her town from, a teenage social misfit begins to increasingly worry her family, friends and teachers in coming-of-age drama with fantasy and thriller elements. Madison Wolfe is excellent in the lead role, playing a definite social outcast but an extrovert too, confident and unafraid to stand up to bullies and condescending adults. The film also has a bit of a Donnie Darko vibe with the eerily whispering giants we see and the fact that she keeps talking about the end of the world. Alas, the film ultimately goes for a more sentimental and less mysterious route than that, greatly playing down the ambiguity over whether or not the giants really exist. Wolfe is so superb in the lead role though, and Sydney Wade is so natural as her only close friend though that the film does work. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Kursk (2018). Based on actual events, this film from Thomas Vinterberg details an explosion aboard a Russian submarine that caused it to sink and the bureaucratic red tape required to cut through to send a rescue party. The disaster scenes are very well crafted with much immediacy and a real sense of panic in the air. The rest of the film is sadly a lot less engaging though. The big problem is that Vinterberg overplays his hand, diluting the drama by exploring the fates of the sinking men and their wives back home and those trying to organise a rescue mission. Having such a large canvas leads to minimal characterisation and much of what occurs feels more melodramatic than down-to-earth. Most detrimental though is that the fate of the men sinking (all of their tension, anxiety, desperation) is constantly undercut by cutaways to characters on dry land. (first viewing, online) ★

The Laundromat (2019). Inspired by the Panama Papers leak, this Steven Soderbergh movie merges the experiences of those in charge of the firm (at the heart of the scandal) with a woman investigating a scam plus a few others adversely affected. This is every bit as muddled and confusing as it sounds. Bits and pieces definitely work though, most notably the banter between Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman as they introduce the movie and walk us through their firm's shady dealings. Flow is interrupted though whenever it stops to focus on the affected persons. Meryl Streep's subplot certainly gets ample screen time, but the other characters' tales feel heavily truncated. The film ends on a rather preachy note too. The movie definitely looks great though and all the fourth wall breaking, especially the end, is pretty neat - but the whole thing never feels all that satisfying. (first viewing, online) ★★

Another Round (2020). Four teachers decide to test a theory that mild alcohol intoxication leads to better performance in this film from Thomas Vinterberg. The premise has some promise and the quartet of lead players do well playing themselves at varying levels of inebriation, but this is never especially enlightening or entertaining. The first two thirds of the movie mostly consist of the foursome acting like irresponsible drunk teens, which is more pitiful than funny. Things (predictably) turn more serious in the final third, or at least until a weirdly upbeat ending comes that seems to render any of the movie's messages about alcohol consumption null and void. In a way, it is a refreshing that the project does not take a more obvious and didactic approach to the topic, but the film's overall unabashed celebration of an alcohol-reliant lifestyle feels odd to say the least. (first viewing, cinema) ★★

REVISIONS

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986). Revisited after nearly twenty years, this indie drama stands up well. It is not flashy, but appropriately so for a movie about a serial killer who has succeeded due to his ability to blend in. Very pointedly, we never even see Henry kill anyone during the first half of the film. It is rather just implied in cutaways and shots that slowly swivel around corpses - most notably, a woman on a couch who appears to be watching TV until the camera circles closer to her face. Other than a TV set murder, the kills are not ostentatious, matching well his calm disposition, especially as he explains the need to move around and not use the same weapon twice. The film has a haunting music score too. More insight into his motivations and methodic approach would have been great, but this works - and due to its bluntness more than its gore. (second viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Inside Man (2006). Overworked detectives try to uncover why four bank robbers are stalling for time in this Spike Lee joint. While the material initially feels very unusual for Spike Lee, the film tackles familiar Lee themes with racial profiling and profiteering off racism in the mix; "what happened to my civil rights?" as one Sikh character asks. The film also stands up revision, even knowing what is to come. The robbers' plans are very clever and the dynamic they strike up with the police is great, while Matthew Libatique does a superb job visualising things with unusual tracking shots, vertigo shots and so on. The film is less compelling when it tries to explore its characters; Jodie Foster is too mysterious while a commitment-phobic Denzel Washington is a bit dull. The project also runs too long and becomes anticlimactic, but this is generally a riveting ride. (second viewing, online) ★★★

BlacKKKlansman (2018). Just as powerful upon revision, Spike Lee sublimely mixes anger, comedy, suspense and thrills in this encapsulating 'joint' based on the true story of a black undercover detective who infiltrated a Klu Klux Klan chapter in the 1970s. While the film is partially about the protagonist learning about the Black Power movement and just how deep-seeded racism is in his community, the movie is equally about his white partner reassessing his own Jewish roots (that he never embraced) when forced to constantly deny them in front of KKK members. The sombre ending is also just as effective upon second viewing; if a bit bombastic, Lee potently drives home the fact racism is not a thing of the past. Lee's trademark anger is also nicely restrained throughout much of the film too; this is always chiefly a comedy, if a thought-provoking one. (second viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Unsane (2018). Even more chilling and unsettling upon revision, Unsane benefits from knowing the plot going in and seeing it all unfold before our unsuspecting main character's eyes. As per Contagion and Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh takes a stab at modern medicine here, focusing on a woman who accidentally commits herself to a mental institution as part of a scam. The plot thickens as her longtime stalker appears there too. Or does he? While there are few convenient coincidences, this is riveting right to the pitch perfect final freeze frame. Also, while it is very noticeable that the film has been shot on an iPhone, this suits the paranoia and fear of being watched agenda here very well. The film is excellently acted too and just generally quite scary with its look at medical care for profit and stalking in an ever-interconnected world. (second viewing, online) ★★★★
Other
Up Your Legs Forever (1971). Consisting almost entirely of shots that simply pan up various pairs of legs (from the feet to just below the crotch), this experimental movie from John Lennon and Yoko Ono is a lot more dynamic than it might sound. The biggest plus that the project has going for it is the audio design which consists of conversation highlights as Lennon and Ono talk to their participants. "How how many legs have you watched in your life?" asks Ono of a skeptical participant, while Lennon waxes poetic about how the film "will help promote peace" because it will make viewers realise that they "have more in common than they thought". The deviations that are eventually show up are fascinating too, from legs in boots, to prosthetic legs, two pairs at once and so on. The film does feel very repetitive in between in its high points though. (first viewing, online) ★★

Army Brats (1984). Sometimes known as Darlings! - a literal translation of the Dutch title - this comedy involves a couple of rebellious teenage siblings who barricade their parents out of their family home. With a premise like that, this unfortunately never feels quite as quirky as it could have been. The most insane scene has the parents getting their army buddies to try to intervene; but an early homemade bomb aside, nothing else is especially over-the-top or outrageous until the Shining-inspired final ten or so minutes. There is a lot of quarrelling and bickering, but none of the characters are ever developed in enough depth for their anger at each other to resonate. Parents not understanding their children is certainly a ripe satirical target with much potential though, and some of themes and ideas that crop up here are thought-provoking at least. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Borrower (1991). Transformed into a human being and exiled to Earth, a ruthless alien finds that his biggest problem is the instability of his human head, something that leads to him frequently ripping the heads of others to replace his own in this odd horror comedy. The gooey practical effects are excellent throughout, especially a Scanners type head explosion early on, however, the plot is nearly nonexistent, mostly just consisting of the alien wandering the streets and every so often randomly changing heads. The details of his exile and the instability of his body are hazy too. The movie does at least mostly avoid going down a fish-out-of-water comedy route with the funniest bits instead coming from those oblivious to the head changes. All of the head actors also do a pretty amazing job inflecting the same facial expressions and walk as each other. (first viewing, online) ★★

Small Gods (2007). Talking to her lawyer, a woman describes how she was kidnapped from a hospital bed and ended up going on a road trip with a mysterious criminal who she did not know (but nevertheless trusted) in this strange Belgian film. The plot is certainly intriguing at first with questions arising as to who the man is, who a third companion is, why she ended up in hospital and why she needs a lawyer. As the film plods along though, the mysteries become less fascinating as the plot adopts an oddball road movie structure full of side events (randomly stopping to box with an old man) that make little sense. The project is certainly visually striking though, with moody skies, gorgeous shots of glowing pizza ovens and a chic black and white fire. The film's most common visual trick though (shooting the present-day action in extreme close-up) tires quickly. (first viewing, online) ★

Zwart Water (2010). Moving into her mother's childhood home, a young girl finds another girl her age hiding in the basement who may or may not be a ghost in this borderline horror film from the Netherlands. As the film progresses, various puzzle pieces start to fit into place with deep, dark secrets revealed and all ambiguity over whether or not the other girl is a ghost soon quashed. Alas, this is a film that works better when the ambiguity is strong and everything is unclear. Isabelle Stokkel is excellent as the young lead and the most effective scenes are the early ones of her wandering the catacomb structures of her new home and interacting with someone who may or may not be real. Certainly some of the more twist-based stuff later on leaves an impact with a few very haunting flashbacks, but it is the earlier parts of the film that really resonate. (first viewing, online) ★★

Blind Spot (2012). Investigating his brother's death, a disgraced cop uncovers a web of deceit and corruption in this crime drama from Luxembourg. While there is novelty value in watching an attempted thriller from the small European nation, filmed in the Luxembourgish language no less, much of the movie feels decided average with its slew of red herrings, corrupt men and dark secrets. Jules Werner is certainly solid as the determined protagonist, there are some neat shots in the rain and a chic foot chase. The overall film though is much heavier on the dialogue than the action with failed marriage melodrama in the mix too (including a bizarre 'twist' in the final twenty minutes as to why the marriage failed). The film has a moody percussion score, but one that feels underused, though the whole film really feels less atmospheric than it should have been. (first viewing, online) ★
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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Perception de Ambiguity
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

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on how to keep moving
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A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki (2006) 8-

Mare's Tail (1968, David Larcher) 9-
A trip beyond the mind's eye.

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Saint Maud (2019, Rose Glass) 6+

Ms Slavic 7 (2019, Sofia Bohdanowicz & Deragh Campbell) 5
shots
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Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike - Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital (full version) (2008, Alexander Kluge) 9-
the knowledge supreme
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The Unknown Craftsman (2017, Amit Dutta) 8
I understand sacred geometry now (again)!

Октябрь / October / Oktyabr (1927, Сергей Эйзенштейн/Sergei Eisenstein & Григорий Александров/Grigory Aleksandrov) 7

dropping some more wisdom
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miscellaneous
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ചിത്രസൂത്രം / Image Threads / Chitra Sutram (Vipin Vijay, 2011) 9
Hindu philosophy laid out through cyberpunk ideas and the parameters of the digital age. Rad!

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Blade Runner (The Final Cut) (1982-2007, Ridley Scott) (8th viewing, 3rd viewing of this version) 9


shorts

De occulta philosophia (1983, Gábor Bódy) (2 viewings) 5

Thimble Theater (1938-1968, Joseph Cornell, completed by Lawrence Jordan) 4

In the Street (1948/52, James Agee & Helen Levitt & Janice Loeb) 6+
The joie de vivre never ends in the ghetto.

Pursuit of Happiness (1940, Rudy Burckhardt) 5

1941 (1941, Francis Lee) 5

Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 (2018, Zach Blas) 6

Poem 8 (1932, Emlen Etting) 7

The Ambassadors (2018, Ben Rivers & Anocha Suwichakornpong) 3

とてつもなく大きな / Totetsumonaku okina / Humongous! (2020, Aya Kawazoe) (2nd viewing) 6

Migration (1969, David Rimmer) (2nd viewing) 7+

Bells of Atlantis (1952-53, Ian Hugo & Len Lye) (3rd viewing) 8


series

Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life (1960-69) - Ep1 - "Man and Nature" 6

Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life (1960-69) - Ep2 - "Things and Thinks" 7

Discovering Buddhism - Module 4 - "The Spiritual Teacher" (2004, Christina Lundberg) 5

All in the Family - S03E17 - "Archie Goes Too Far" (1973) 6


other

The Joe Rogan Experience - #501 - Randall Carlson (2014) 8+

The Joe Rogan Experience - #764 - Duncan Trussell (2016) 7

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1609 - Elon Musk (2021) 7

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1608 - Michael Malice (2021) 6


didn't finish

Jitsuroku Rengo Sekigun: Asama sanso e no michi / United Red Army (2007, Kôji Wakamatsu) [52 min]
Nocturno 29 (1968/69, Pere Portabella) [16 min]
Amorous / Hide and Seek (2014, Joanna Coates) [8 min]
Unter Schnee (2011, Ulrike Ottinger) [8 min]
The Red Pill (2004, Activists) [4 min]


notable online media

top:
Hamilton Arts & Letters magazine . R. Bruce Elder . George Grant
The Uozu Adventures (Uozu Buried Forest Museum, Uozu Aquarium, and Mirage Land)
Randall Carlson New Science for 2020 (Latest, Newest)
Randall Carlson and Some Navy SEALs Talk Sacred Geometry
Randall Carlson is HILARIOUS! Pyramids, Aliens, and Laughs!
R. Bruce Elder: avant-garde experimental filmmaker (pt 1) [rewatch]
Bill Burr’s Advice for Breaking Off an Engagement
rest:
Die GameStop-Rebellion: V wie Vendetta
Self-Help: What Went Wrong?
Crypton Future Media - Hatsune Miku -- World is Mine
tale of tales
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We do not have to understand new things, but by dint of patience, effort and method to come to understand with our whole self the truths which are evident.Image
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Onderhond
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#3

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01. 4.0* - The Midnight Meat Train by Ryuhei Kitamura (2008)
A pleasantly slick, dark and brutal adaptation of Clive Barker's short story. A stellar performance by Vinnie Jones and a seasoned director eager to prove his worth in the US for the first time add the necessary spark to what is an otherwise pretty basic horror flick. Not Kitamura's finest, but a perfectly executed genre film that hasn't lost any of its shine.

02. 3.5* - Mio on the Shore [Watashi wa Hikari wo Niggite Iru] by Ryûtarô Nakagawa (2019)
A gentle coming of age drama that alternates between stylized and more naturalistic scenes. It's an accomplished film by a director who knows what he's doing, at the same time the film struggles to set itself apart from so many other Japanese dramas. Very solid filler in other words. Mio is a young girl who grew up in the countryside, working in a local inn. When the inn closes down she is sent to a friend of the family who lives in Tokyo. It's time for Mio to see more of the world, but Tokyo isn't anything like home and she needs time to adapt to her new environment. Performances are strong, the cinematography looks very polished, characters are intriguing and the drama is touching. Seeing the coming of age elements mixed with the redevelopment drama is a bit odd, but it gives the film some extra character it lacks elsewhere. Definitely not a bad film, just a little too expected for a true masterpiece.

03. 3.5* - The Stepford Wives by Frank Oz (2004)
Frank Oz updates a classic. I'd never read Levin's book, nor did I watch the prior film adaptations, but I still feel it's quite obvious where and how Oz' version deviates from the original. If I'd had to wager a bet, I'd say that Oz' version is the one I'm most likely to prefer, but I'll have to see the older ones first to be sure. After Joanna's latest TV show flops, she and her husband move to Connecticut to start their lives anew. They arrive in the quaint town of Stepford, where it appears time has stood still. Everybody looks their best all the time, the wealth is extreme and nobody ever complains. It is obvious something weird is going on there. The performances are gleefully over-the-top, the cinematography is bold and colorful and the comedy is just right. Oz doesn't even bother hiding the mystery of the village, instead he has a little fun with gender roles/reversals and twists the original story a bit further to come to a satisfying ending. A fun surprise.

04. 3.0* - Kung Fu vs. Acrobatic [Mo Deng Ru Lai Shen Zhang] by Taylor Wong (1990)
Taylor Wong by way of Jing Wong. Kung Fu vs. Acrobatic is a parody update of Buddha's Palm in true Jing Wong style. Don't expect classy film making or high brow comedy, but when you're in the mood for some goofy, nonsensical Hong Kong silliness then this film has you covered. In an attempt to smuggle contraband into Hong Kong, Charles and Chi find themselves in a secret cave where they wake up a princess and a dark martial artist trapped there for centuries. The duo gets magical powers which they use gratuitously, but when the evil master follows them back to Hong Kong they need to step up and save their loved ones. The effects are absolutely dire and performances are well over the top, but Andy Lau, Pak-Cheung Chan and Joey Wang have good chemistry and the comedy is delightfully daft. The pacing is insane and the film is completely unpredictable, which makes for 100 minutes of solid entertainment. A pleasant surprise.

05. 3.0* - The Commuter by Jaume Collet-Serra (2018)
Another typical Collet-Serra/Neeson collaboration. This is pretty much Non-Stop (at least, from what I can remember of it), only in a train. I'm not the biggest fan of these films, but they're pretty entertaining and even though Neeson's getting a bit old to play the action hero who saves the day, he can still pull it off (though barely). When Michael is on his daily commute, a stranger sits down across him. She makes him a deal where he has to unmask a passenger on the train in return for a big, lump sum of money. Michael is a bit hesitant, but when it turns out his family is held hostage he has no choice but to comply with their demands. Neeson can play these parts with his eyes closed, other performances are decent too, the limited set feels aptly claustrophobic and there are some solid action scenes. It's all a bit predictable and the ending could've used some extra spice, but overall this was pretty fun and well-made filler.

06. 3.0* - The Beast [La Belva] by Ludovico Di Martino (2020)
Decent genre flick, with some minor twists that help to set it apart from its peers, though ever so slightly. The Beast doesn't try to be anything special or extraordinary, but it does it best to bring you an entertaining mix of action and thriller elements without too much unnecessary cruft. And that it does well. Leonida is a war veteran who suffers from mental illness when he returns home. He neglects his family and loses the respect of his son. When his daughter gets kidnapped though Leonida immediately chases behind the kidnappers. The police, looking at his record, treat Leonida as a possible suspect, but he only cares about getting his daughter to safety. It's Neesan meets Rambo, which means its best to keep your expectations of the plot rather low. The (rather neat) twist is that Leonida is quite fallible. An impressive force to be reckoned with, but far from the killing machines I'm used to seeing in American productions. The presentation is decent and performances are okay, it's hardly a spectacular film, but solid enough filler for those looking to watch an entertaining action flick.

07. 3.0* - Malu by Edmund Yeo (2020)
A solid drama that aims to be slightly more poetic than it can muster. Cinematography and score aren't quite strong enough to support the slow pacing and the drama gets a little overbearing because of that. There's quality here though and with a bit of fine-tuning I'm sure that over time Yeo could deliver a masterpiece. Two sisters are reunited after their mother dies. It's clear from the start that there's a lot of unaddressed drama and anger in their past, caused by the erratic behavior of their mother. The sisters lose sight of each other once again and won't be in contact until one of them turns up dead in Japan. Performances are good, the cinematography is decent and the score acceptable, but it all feels a bit too safe. Just a little too predictably arthouse, which made it harder than necessary to get really invested in the characters. The potential is there though, and I'm certain to give Yeo another shot, but I expected a tad more from this one.

08. 3.0* - Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch by Yudai Yamaguchi, Keita Amemiya (2017)
Yamaguchi's latest film is probably a good indication of the position Japanese underground horror finds itself in these days. Underfunded, without a dedicated international audience and straining to survive. With the proper talent and budgets backing this film this could've been a lot of fun, now it's mostly just unrealized potential. Though they haven't seen each other in 10 years, Izumi and Mika decide to meet up again and catch up for old time's sake. Meanwhile, a string of seemingly unrelated hauntings is taking place. When Mika reveals a lingering trauma from their childhood days, everything appears to be coming together. The film plays a little like a horror anthology, with one main thread bringing all the shorts together in the end. There are some fine ideas here, and it's not hard to see how this could've been a great Japanese horror film, but cheap production values, poor performances and icky CG don't really help Yamaguchi. It's a shame, because underneath that cheapness this was good fun.

09. 3.0* - The Glory of Team Batista [Chîmu Bachisuta no Eikô] by Yoshihiro Nakamura (2008)
A decent, though somewhat unspectacular medical thriller that is slightly elevated by the joyous performance of Hiroshi Abe. Team Batista's TV roots are a bit too obvious at times, with Nakamura failing to make a true effort to hide them, but overall the whodunit aspects were pretty effective. Team Batista is a lauded team of surgeons who have a perfect track record performing the Batista operation, a somewhat experimental procedure that has a mere 60% success rate. But when three procedures in a row fail, people are becoming suspicious and an investigation is launched to find out what is going on. With Takeuchi and Abe in the lead the film has two serious assets, the rest is decidedly more pedestrian. These two actors manage to single-handedly drive up the tension and make the mystery elements work, other than that it's pretty decent, but a bit too long and not very cinematic. Solid filler in other words.

10. 3.0* - Satan's Slaves [Pengabdi Setan] by Joko Anwar (2017)
I guess the most disappointing thing about a film called Satan's Slaves is that it's really just another ghost/hauntings flick. In twenty years time, many Asian horror films still haven't really moved beyond Ringu. While the story itself tries to incorporate some novel influences, the horror is just shrouded ghosts and pale faces. Rini lives with her family in a remote village, where they take care of their sick mom. When she dies strange things start happening around the house and Rini begins to suspect her mom has kept something important from them. When grandma suddenly dies and the youngest of the family becomes the target of violent hauntings, everyone's in a panic. Satan's Slaves is a well-made film, the problem is that you've probably seen it many times before. Performances are solid and the cinematography is stylish, but the haunts aren't all that scary and the backstory never really comes into its own. Certainly not bad, but it could've done with more original lore.

11. 2.5* - Die Another Day by Lee Tamahori (2002)
Brosnan's final entry in the series is a slight step up from his two previous films. Not so much because of Brosnan himself, he still feels woefully out of place in this more action-packed version of James Bond, but at least the action scenes and set pieces are a bit more outrageous in this film. Bond goes on a risky mission to North-Korea. He is captured and tortured, but his life his spared when it can be traded for a North-Korean spy. Bond's hellbent on unmasking the mole who betrayed him. His travels take him to Iceland, where he learns about a new weapon that threatens to start a new war. Tamahori did well with the action scenes, which are a good step up from previous installments, while still offering enough kooky Bond nonsense (live him surfing the tsunami). Berry's a bland addition to the cast though and Stephens is a dull bad guy, Yune and Pike are slightly better. Certainly not the greatest Bond, but quite entertaining.

12. 2.5* - Fear of Rain by Castille Landon (2021)
Fear of a mediocre thriller. Writer/director Castille Landon chewed off more than she could bite when she tried to spike a pretty basic thriller (think Suburbia or Vertigo) with a dash of mental illness drama. The result is something that falls in between two worlds and fails to deliver on both accounts. Rain is diagnosed with schizophrenia. She suffers from hallucinations and she's on her last strike before she is sent to an institution to recover. When she hears screams in the house across the road nobody believes her, except a new friend she made at school. Together they set out to prove Rain isn't making things up again. The entire film hinges on whether Rain's suspicions are correct, the fact that she's suffering from mental illness feels more like a lazy shortcut rather an actual attempt to add depth to her character. But the biggest problem is that even with all that Landon fails to cast doubt on the ending, making it all too predictable. Performances are decent and the cinematography is slightly above par, but that's not enough to make this a successful thriller.

13. 2.5* - Another 48 Hrs. by Walter Hill (1990)
An apt title for a film that is really just more of the same. Ten years after the first film Walter Hill revisited his cop/con flick and redid it with a bit more action, slightly more seasoned actors and tighter pacing. Don't expect a world of difference, but I did find this sequel marginally more entertaining. After some initial hoopla, Cates and Hammond team up again to finally catch The Iceman. Cates is on the brink of losing his badge, Hammond was just released out of jail but hasn't got his money back yet. Their unorthodox ways gets them very close, but somehow The Iceman is always one step ahead. Another 48 Hrs is a decent buddy cop flick, nothing more, nothing less. The biggest difference is that the action scenes are a tad more impressive and that Murphy has come into his own, which is beneficial to the comedy. The rest is just simple and basic genre stuff, but it does a decent job passing the time.

14. 2.5* - Akamoru: The Dark, Wild Yearning [Chi Wa Taiyô Yori Akai] by Koji Wakamatsu (1966)
Early Wakamatsu, though with Wakamatsu that doesn't necessarily mean it's one of his first films. Merely three years into his career he already had 20+ films under his belt. Even so, it's obvious that Wakamatsu was still trying to find his style here. Many of his signature elements are already present, but the film still lacks what would set his more notable work apart. The topic at least is vintage Wakamatsu. The film follows a high school student prepping for his exams. When he looks at the world that he's about to join, including its many social inequities, he's anything but excited. Malcontent with the future that lies ahead of him, he decides to take revenge on the adults. Activism in other words. Some youthful revolt, a little nudity, stylish black and white cinematography with a splash of color and a jazzy soundtrack. But the film lacks that rawer edge that made Wakamatsu's best work stand out. Also, after 30+ Wakamatsu films, it does start to feel a bit repetitive, seeing the same subject handled over and over again. But for fans of his works, definitely worth seeking out.

15. 2.0* - Lock-On Love [Kakugo wa Ii Ka Soko no Joshi] by Noboru Iguchi (2018)
What happened to Iguchi? At one time he was one of the prime representatives of gory splatter horror and crude, off-kilter comedy. With Lock-On Love he delivers a mushy and predictable high school romance. I get that the Sushi Typhoon hype is well behind us, but that's quite a stretch. Furuya is an adoration boy. The kind of boy all the girls love to swoon over, but won't actually date. Furuya is tired of being alone, and he picks Misono as his romantic interest. She's known to be somewhat of an ice queen though, so Furuya will have to do his utmost best to win her over with his charms. Lock-On Love is a cookie cutter romance that doesn't even try to venture outside its comfort zone. Performances are basic, the cinematography feels kinda cheap and the soundtrack is extremely poppy, but at least the pacing is decent and there's some chemistry between the leads. If you come for signature Iguchi though, it's best to avoid this one altogether.

16. 2.0* - Snow/Woman [Furinzuma: Jôen] by Mitsuru Meike (2000)
A small indie film that shows some potential, but doesn't really capitalize on it. The direction's a bit murky, the mix of genres never truly comes together and the technical qualities are rather poor. The premise is intriguing though and it does get quite atmospheric in places, but it's simply not enough. A man is waiting for a woman in a snowed-in house, deep in the mountains. When the woman doesn't come the man gets a little suspicious, but the tricks himself into believing she's just held up. The longer he stays in the house, the crazier he gets and his imagination starts running wild. Maybe with a little extra budget, some better actors, more professional gear and a talented cinematographer this could've ended up a much better film, then again that means replacing about 80% of the entire production. Fans of indie/cult cinema might get something out of it, but I wouldn't really recommend it unless you know what you're getting yourself into.

17. 2.0* - Ingeborg Holm by Victor Sjöström (1913)
A tough film to judge. My trip through Swedish classic cinema hasn't been very successful so far, and Ingeborg Holm suffers from the same traits that made me dislike the earlier films I tried. The biggest difference here is the score, which is really haunting and emotional. Very modern and tacked on too, making it extra tricky to judge the film. Ingeborg and her husband open up a small grocery store. While it doesn't make them rich, it allows them to live a comfortable life. But then Ingeborg's husband falls ill and though she tries her best, the shop has to close after he passes on. Ingeborg is separated from her kids and has to stay in a poor house. All she wants is to see her kids one last time. It's a very sentimental film that piles on the misery, but because the score is so beautiful and calming (a big contrast with most scores for silent films) it really balances out the drama. I'm sure that with a different soundtrack my score would be halved, but as it stands the restored version is not that bad.

18. 2.0* - Visitors [Eoddeon Bangmun] by Lav Diaz, Sang-soo Hong, Naomi Kawase (2009)
I quite like anthology projects, as they offer an opportunity to directors to try something different, do something unexpected, to surprise. But then there are films like this, where each director just turns in a shorter version of what they regularly produce, only shot on a smaller budget. In Kawase's short, Kang Jun-Il returns a sacred scroll to its ancestral home. In Hong's short we follow Mi-Sook as she drives off on a whim to visit an old classmate of hers. When she arrives, she finds out her friend is having an affair with a college professor. And in Diaz' short Carol returns home to the poor miner village where she grew up, only to become the target of a kidnapping ploy. None of the short are anything special. They're pretty much what you'd expect from the directors, only less developed and visibly made with less money. Kawase's short is the nicest of the bunch, while Diaz' was the weakest for me. A waste of potential though, these tree established directors should've done a lot more with this chance.

19. 1.5* - The African Queen by John Huston (1951)
A classic Huston adventure that hasn't aged all that well. The film was shot entirely on location, even so the special effects trickery for some of the more adventurous shots looks more like something you'd expect to see in a cheesy Honda flick. A very dashing film this is not (at least not anymore). Samuel and Rose run a church in Africa, until they are raided by German troupes. Only Rose survives the attack, but she has no way of escape. Then she meets Charlie, a rugged fella who owns a boat. Traveling down the Ulonga-Bora is ill-advised, but Rose convinces Charlie there's no other way to escape their predicament. The effects are crummy and the adventure is merely amusing, never tense. Bogart's performance is questionable at best, Hepburn isn't really on top her game either. At least the film doesn't take itself too seriously, other than that it's a decently paced, but hopelessly outdated film.

20. 1.0* - Casino Royale by Martin Campbell (2006)
Ouch. By far the worst Bond in the series. Gone is the self-aware fun, the crazy, goofy elements, the over-the-top nonsense. In good old Hollywood '00 tradition and old franchise is revamped to be more serious and raw. Of course within the safe confines of marketable Hollywood entertainment, making for an extremely boring and glaringly nonsensical film. This is a little reboot for James Bond. He's on his very first assignment and still has to learn the tricks of the trade. He chases down a bad guy called Le Chiffre, the famed banker of a global terrorist network, in order to stifle their operations. But Le Chiffre isn't just some office stiff, making Bond's life much harder than he had anticipated. The action scenes are bland, Q is dearly missed, the extra time spent on the characterization of Bond is an utter waste of time and the poker game that grinds the film to a halt halfway through is one of the dullest scenes in any of the Bond films out there. A disgrace, sadly it did well and we seem to be stuck with this Bond for the time being.

21. 1.0* - Galaxy Quest by Dean Parisot (1999)
Spectacularly unfunny. I'm not a big Star Trek fan, nor do I particularly like nerd/fanboy culture, so a good parody on these things should be right up my alley. Emphasis on "good", as this was nothing more than a lazy, cheap and predictable attempt to have a little fun at the genre's expense. Nesmith and his crew still frequent comic fairs, almost 20 years after their hit series disappeared from TV. Though they still have fans, nobody takes them seriously anymore. Until they're summonsed by actual aliens who think their show was the real thing. Suddenly they find themselves in the midst of a real space war. Performances are bland, the sets and effects look cheap, the comedy is very predictable and lacks the edge of a good parody. I'm pretty sure US TV sci-fi fans will find something to laugh at here as in the end it's more and ode than a parody, I'm just glad they never bothered to make a sequel.

22. 1.0* - The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (1943)
An old British favorite. Powell & Pressburger enjoy a reputation I really don't understand. This is the third collaboration between both directors I've seen and none of them has struck me as anything special. The same goes for this one. It's a long film, very long in fact, and that's about all there is to it really. Colonel Blimp follows the life of Clive Candy as he rises through the ranks of the British army. It zooms in on the romances he had and picks out a strong friendship he upheld with a German officer. It's all a big stage for the run-up to WWII, where Candy realizes the world has changed for good and his time in it may be coming to an end. There's a lot of British cheekiness that feels hopelessly outdated, apart from that it's just endless conversations about nothing much at all. Because it handles three periods in Candy's life the film ended up quite long, but that length adds surprisingly little to the characters and the narrative. I dozed off a couple of times, which at least made time pass quicker.

23. 1.0* - The Cheat by Cecil B. DeMille (1915)
Early DeMille that fails to impress. I've said it before, but silent cinema doesn't work that well for straight drama/crime narratives. Unsubtle performances make it hard to care for the characters, while awkward alternations between scenes and intertitles slow the whole thing down unnecessarily. Edith is a cheeky woman. She steals money from a charity in invest it in the stock market. What looked like a good deal turns out to be a disaster and Edith loses all her money. In order to pay back the charity she relies on the help of an Asian businessman. He is willing to aid Edith, but wants more than just money from her. It's a pretty simple story that goes from A to B without too many surprises. Performances are well over-the-top, the cinematography is rather bland and characters are flimsy. In its time it might've been an interesting film, considering all the limitations directors had back then, but films like these just didn't age well at all. It's only an hour long, but it felt much longer.
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viktor-vaudevillain
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#4

Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

The Handmaiden / 아가씨 (Park Chan-Wook, 2016) - 6-

Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019) - 7+

Cartesius (Roberto Rossellini, 1974) - 9

The Naked Kiss (Samuel Fuller, 1964) - 9

Das Kino und der Tod / Cinema and Death (Hartmut Bitomsky, 1988) - 8+

Framing Britney Spears (Samantha Stark, 2021) - 4


shorts:

Jamestown Baloos (Robert Breer, 1957) - 5

Contadini del mare / Sea Countrymen (Vittorio de Seta, 1955) - 8+

Brutalität in Stein / Brutality in Stone (Alexander Kluge & Peter Schamoni, 1961) - 6
Last edited by viktor-vaudevillain on February 15th, 2021, 10:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
not everything is fish, but fish are teeming everywhere
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prodigalgodson
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#5

Post by prodigalgodson »

False Start (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 2006) 8/10

Windows and paintings, paintings and windows, all through the painterly window of the camera lens. Melancholy old Rousseau is back in a hotel room, nothing but some coat-pocket envelopes, an alarm clock, and ambient noise with which to construct some semblance of meaning. Frames-within-frames alternate and demand parallels between the whimsical portrayal of a medieval castle on the wall and the view of barren wintry treetops outside the window, the latter of which draws most of our subject's attention, as if waiting for the dream and promise of life to reawaken. They do for a moment in an unexpected sequence (within context, one of the best shots of Rousseau's career), but alas, in the course of things, this proves to be a Faux depart. The window is closed again, and the only hint of the world of imagination we're left with is the distant haunting whistle of a train.

13 Lakes (James Benning, 2004) 7/10

Finally found a decent, full-length version of this! Still hardly makes the impact I'd imagine it makes on film, but even the digital glitches mostly work. 13 10-ish-minute shots bisected by an expanse of an American lake and whatever lies beyond or above it. Not Benning's most dynamic, but at its best electrifying, using sound and image to examine how time transforms space.

Mank (David Fincher, 2020) 5/10

A glossy, uninspired wisp of a film with nothing substantive to say about the various subjects it bumbles across. Charming and competent enough to pass 2 hours quickly, but utterly lacking in insight or development, it's perfect for a generation that prefers instagram-filtered Hollywood pastiche to the genuine article. I was really digging the chiaroscuro effect of all those fades to and from black though, something I've incidentally been considering quite a bit lately...

37/78: Tree Again (Kurt Kren, 1978) 8/10

A long three-minute speedball of contemplative imagery and machine-gun editing that invites/demands revision (it's been my nightcap about 5 times this week). The camera's placed in (approximately) the same spot throughout, while a sequence of about 3-10 frame time-lapsed snatches of a tree, foregrounded by meadow and backlit by sky, denotes the passage of the year. Entrancing stuff.

Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995) 6/10

Mixed feelings on this one. Absolutely love the aesthetic, and all my favorite sequences were just music and atmosphere. But the script feels like a rough draft, or a particularly consequential episode of a longer series, which I guess it kind of is. Nothing's really fleshed out, and story-wise and thematically it swings between too simplistic and overly complex. If shoot-em-up government/corporate conspiracy plots and stoic cyphers waxing philosophical is your kind of thing, this should be right up your alley. Didn't quite scratch the intellectual-adrenaline itch for me like, say, Akira or Evangelion, but I'd like to revisit it at some point, and I'm excited to see more from Oshii in the meanwhile.

Fog Line (Larry Gottheim, 1970) 7/10

Dang I wish I'd seen this on film. Fog is such an extraordinary phenomenon; funny how the scenery goes from so otherworldly to so humdrum as it abates. Don't quite know what to make of the four superimposed (power?) lines cutting across the frame, but I think that's the point. Cool little one-shot take on one of my favorite weather patterns.

Vapour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015) 9/10

Joe just might be the goat.

What an insanely coincidental double feature (double short?) to cap off the week, thanks to the generosity of fb and vv.
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Lakigigar
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#6

Post by Lakigigar »

Nightcrawler: 10/10 (*)
La haine: 9/10
WolfWalkers: 9/10
The Wicker Man: 9/10
Like Me: 9/10 (*)
Europa Report: 9/10
1917: 8/10
Lion: 7/10
Adrift: 4/10
Seul contre tous: 4/10
Snatch: 1/10 (a contendor for the worst film i've ever seen)

(*) = rewatch

I don't think i've literally seen an average movie. They were all extremely good or bad. Perhaps only Lion is "just" good, but starting from 1917 which is very close to 9/10, they're either extremely good or a masterpiece in Nightcrawler's case.
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RolandKirkSunglasses
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#7

Post by RolandKirkSunglasses »

A quieter week and an important milestone in my Japanese challenge, onwards through the 60s. Also snuck in a couple rewatches.

Endless Desire (1958): Early Shohei Imamura is a fun crime caper with enough twists and jokes to keep it interesting.

Rusty Knife (1958): Starts off a semi-interesting noiry flick with a neat cameo from Joe Shishido but it telegraphs plot developments and the second half becomes ridiculous, Yujiro Ishihara turns into superman and the movie nosedives.

Summer Clouds (1958): Found it really hard keeping track of all the characters in this colour film by Naruse. Devoid of drama and overlong story of modernisation in the Japanese countryside, might need a second viewing somewhere down the line.

Anzukko (1958): Enjoyable black + white Naruse with Katshushiro from "Seven Samurai" becoming an unsuccessful alcoholic writer to the detriment of his wife. So Yamamura is the best part of this film that feels like a second-rate "Sound of the Mountain" at times.

Giants and Toys (1958): On-the-nose corporate satire, relevant today in our social-media obsessed society even if things are way more cynical in real life.

Perfect Game (1958): Was this really made by the same director as "Rusty Knife" in the same year? A gang of wealthy loafers scam a bookmakers out of thousands, when he doesn't pay up they kidnap his sister with tragic consequences. Surprisingly enjoyable crime flick.

Enjo (1958): It's beautifully shot with a fine central performance but I couldn't get into it, maybe you have to read the novel to understand it better but I was slightly disappointed.

Kiku and Isamu (1959): Unusual to see a Japanese movie focusing on mixed-race Japanese. Covers issues of racism without being too preachy showing a balanced discussion on whether the two orphaned children should go to America. In the second half it becomes more about Kiku with some forced situations stretching credulity, otherwise an above average film.

Desperado Outpost (1959): Fun action flick with dark comedy thrown in, throws in some jabs at the Japanese military too.

Samurai Vendetta (1959): Surprisingly bloody samurai flick, a little slow in places but the final fight scene is pretty good, fans of "47 Ronin" will approve.

Town of Love and Hope (1959): Nagisa Oshima's film debut has an uneven pace for a 1 hour flick, commentary on the class divide is effective, he'll make much better films later on.

Mikkai (1959): By the same director of "Crazed Fruit", a middle-class woman is canoodling with her young lover in a secluded forest when they witness a murder take place. She's married to a respected professor and he's a student, she wants to keep her lifestyle and reputation but he saw the murderer's face and his conscience won't let it go. Good.

Ghost of Yotsuya (1959): Lots of snakes and stabbings in this famous ghost story. Man tries killing his way to a wealthy wife, karma haunts him. A lot of the ghostplay happens in the second half, it's OK.

Kagi (1959): What could've been a disturbingly fascinating story is undermined by two things: Machiko Kyo is too young to play the mother no matter how much make-up you give her, the ending is pretty sloppy too.

Brancaleone at the Crusades (1970): Vittorio Gassman is back, he's on his way to the Holy Land in this lesser sequel with a smaller budget. To spice up the dialogue a German character is introduced along with a Princess who switches between French and Italian. In the second half one King speaks in rhymes. Has its moments but lacking in satire compared to the first film.

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs (1937): If this film were called "Snow White and the Evil Queen" I'd enjoy it a lot more, the Dwarfs really slow it all down to a crawl. The Prince barely has any screentime too.

The Rules of the Game (1939): Still a brilliant film despite a couple minor flaws, the way Renoir orchestrates his character's through the mansion is exquisite, still an all-time favourite of mine.

Ikiru (1952): A mixed bag of a film, a couple scenes run on far longer than necessary, Takashi Shimura's bug eyes get so annoying even his co-worker calls him out on it, and the entire wake scene is too cute to be credible. Two of my biggest pet peeves with Kurosawa is his sentimentality and his forced message, Ikiru has them both.
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prodigalgodson
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#8

Post by prodigalgodson »

Interesting factoid re: Ghost in the Shell from wikipedia:

"Niels Matthijs of Twitch Film praised the film, stating, 'Not only is Kokaku Kidotai an essential film in the canon of Japanese animation, together with Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tarkovsky's Solyaris it completes a trio of book adaptations that transcend the popularity of their originals and [give] a new meaning to an already popular brand.' He ranked it #48 of his personal favorites."

Looks like they're off a few spots though...
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Onderhond
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#9

Post by Onderhond »

prodigalgodson wrote: February 15th, 2021, 10:01 am Interesting factoid re: Ghost in the Shell from wikipedia:

"Niels Matthijs of Twitch Film praised the film, stating, 'Not only is Kokaku Kidotai an essential film in the canon of Japanese animation, together with Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tarkovsky's Solyaris it completes a trio of book adaptations that transcend the popularity of their originals and [give] a new meaning to an already popular brand.' He ranked it #48 of his personal favorites."

Looks like they're off a few spots though...
Well, it's been years since I wrote for Twitch Film/Screen Anarchy and I redo my top list every year, so I'm guessing that quote's a few years old already. Can't expect them to keep up with that :) But yeah, it got me some quotes on Wikipedia left and right (and a handful of poster quotes even). Good times, but I prefer to be "my own boss".

As for your critique, there's two things that surprised me a bit:
1/ Instead of feeling like a longer/expanded episode, it's in fact a condensed story arc, which is why some things only feel modestly fleshed out, even somewhat incoherent. It's a bit difficult for me to me comment on that since I've read the manga a few times and watched this film a whole lot more, but the focus is clearly not on a strong, coherent plot. But it never felt like very episode-like to me. The second films suffers more from that I think.
2/ I could understand how all the geeky/nerdy stuff gets in the way of your "intellectual-adrenaline itch", but I'm a bit surprised you cited Akira/Eva as projects that did. From these three, I'd say GitS has the most interesting things to say.

Though in the end, I very much agree with your opening statement. Atmosphere is what makes this film stand out for me. And for others too I guess, since that break in the middle is poised to become a classic scene in anime history (in so far that hasn't happened yet).
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#10

Post by prodigalgodson »

sol
Black Book 8 - haven't seen this since early on in highschool, my first Verhoeven, and I liked it very much; I imagine I'd appreciate it even more now
Haywire 4 - I think I don't care for Soderbergh
Inside Man 5 - didn't get the hype on this one, but I really don't care for the bank robber genre to begin with
BlacKKKlansman 7 - liked it a lot, but the fact that Scorsese has this in his top 30 films makes me feel like I missed something

pda - what was your beef with Gan btw?
October 7+ - agree with what's-his-face who thought this was a glorious failure
Blade Runner 8 - I think I've seen the final cut; I realized recently I've actually never seen the original with Deckard's narration, but doesn't sound like I'm missing much
In the Street 5 - wasn't too impressed, and that was on film too
United Red Army 10 - an old highschool favorite

hond
The Stepford Wives - haha, surprisingly high score; haven't seen this since I was a kid but I didn't like it then
Die Another Day 6 - agreed it's not as bad as its reputation; also the first Bond I saw in theaters, so I might be biased
Fear of Rain - lol @ random Vertigo shade
Akamoru - have you seen Shinjuku maddo?; that's my favorite of his
The African Queen 4 - I enjoyed the leads, but yeah I was surprised how bad this was
Galaxy Quest 4 - another one I saw a fair number of times as a kid but never really enjoyed, remember finding it truncated and unsatisfying
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp 8 - agree it's not a masterpiece, but it's a very good, very British film with one of my favorite Anton Walbrook performances

Re: Ghost, it feels like an (especially eventful) episode insofar as it's an excerpt of a much wider world, where these characters and their relationships presumably have some more depth and back-story. I don't mind nerdy stuff, but I didn't find the philosophical elements particularly stimulating, especially since they were included in a way that didn't strike me as particularly organic. Evangelion especially I found riveting from a psychological/philosophical standpoint, with these elements fully integrated into the story from the start and then overtaking the story as the series progresses. One of the best takes on depression and PTSD I've seen.

vv
The Handmaiden 7 - liked this a lot in theaters, a bit less impressed the second time
Cartesius - I looove late Rossellini, need to check out more
The Naked Kiss 9 - yeah, one of Fuller's best, so raw and unsettling

laki
Nightcrawler 4 - didn't get the fuss with this, but I'm generally not into films with these types of protagonists
La haine 7 - quite vivacious
The Wicker Man 8 - pretty dope, nutty stuff
1917 9 - an awesome theater experience
Snatch 6 - I'm not huge into this kind of thing either, but I thought this was pretty well done

rks
Giants and Toys 6 - thought it was fine but nothing to write home about
Street of Love and Hate 7 - don't remember this too well but liked it at the time
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - saw it a few times as a kid but never liked it as much as more recent Disney stuff
The Rules of the Game 10 - yup, Renoir's masterpiece
Ikiru 4 - agreed on this and Kurosawa in general, though I haven't seen it since I was just getting into film, might find it more moving now
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#11

Post by Onderhond »

prodigalgodson wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:20 am The Stepford Wives - haha, surprisingly high score; haven't seen this since I was a kid but I didn't like it then
It's deliberately fluffy, hyperstylized approach is something I can appreciate. Though I realize I'm often alone in that, I wasn't surprised to see this film got a lot of flack.
prodigalgodson wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:20 am Akamoru - have you seen Shinjuku maddo?; that's my favorite of his
Yeah, definitely a good one, though not quite top tier Wakamatsu for me. He's quite a character though and after a while his 60s work does get a little repetitive, but worth exploring if you've got the stomach for it.
prodigalgodson wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:20 am The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp 8 - agree it's not a masterpiece, but it's a very good, very British film with one of my favorite Anton Walbrook performances
Well, it certainly is very British :D While I think that's usually a plus (especially for a comedy), it can get a bit too stuffy for my taste.
prodigalgodson wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:20 am Re: Ghost, it feels like an (especially eventful) episode insofar as it's an excerpt of a much wider world, where these characters and their relationships presumably have some more depth and back-story. I don't mind nerdy stuff, but I didn't find the philosophical elements particularly stimulating, especially since they were included in a way that didn't strike me as particularly organic. Evangelion especially I found riveting from a psychological/philosophical standpoint, with these elements fully integrated into the story from the start and then overtaking the story as the series progresses. One of the best takes on depression and PTSD I've seen.
One of Oshii's quotes (for Ghost in the Shell 2) I'll never forget is: As to why I use quotes from many famous philosophers the answer to that is that I want to prove how unimportant the dialogues are to a movie. In GITS 2 you don't really have to listen to any of the dialogue, it's just part of the many details in the movie and you don't have to pay any attention to a lot of the dialogue in order to understand and appreciate the movie.

A lot of what he does is in function of the atmosphere, even (to a certain extent) the characterization and philosophical elements in his work. It's certainly true that GitS is part of a bigger world/franchise, but in Oshii's other original works there's never too much extra character background. I don't think the manga is particularly interested in it either, except that it's a big longer and you naturally spend a bit more time with the characters, which automatically creates more feeling for the whole group dynamic. I see where you come from re:series episode, but I think most of the evidence is circumstantial :)

From yours I haven't seen anything, I don't even recognize any of the director's names except Weerasethakul. A bit of a frustrating director for me as he certainly has the potential to create beautiful and moody films, I just don't appreciate his aesthetic choices that much. But he's definitely interesting enough to keep following, though not quite as vigorously as I do with other directors.
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#12

Post by sol »

prodigalgodson wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:20 am sol
Black Book 8 - haven't seen this since early on in highschool, my first Verhoeven, and I liked it very much; I imagine I'd appreciate it even more now
Haywire 4 - I think I don't care for Soderbergh
Inside Man 5 - didn't get the hype on this one, but I really don't care for the bank robber genre to begin with
BlacKKKlansman 7 - liked it a lot, but the fact that Scorsese has this in his top 30 films makes me feel like I missed something
I have long considered Paul Verhoeven to be one of my favourite directors, but oddly enough I never got around to Black Book until now. For some reason, I had always imagined a dull wartime drama rather than a thriller, though of course thrillers are Verhoeven's forte.

I don't know if Steven Soderbergh is an acquired taste but he definitely has several films that worked much better for me upon revision. Haywire is a far cry from his best work, but it looks as great as ever. I can't think of another current director of narrative cinema that has such an amazing eye for rich, supersaturated colours.

Inside Man is probably more of a mystery than bank robber film to me, but I was actually surprised how well it stood up to revision. Some of it is probably due to me forgetting a few details in the time since watching it, but it just generally stands up well alongside Lee's other looks into cultures of racism.

Speaking of which, I had no idea that Blackkklansman was in Scorsese's top 30. I wouldn't rate it quite so highly either but it is pretty damn great. Best aspect for me is the way Lee seamless blends so many genres; it's a hybrid comedy/sombre drama/thriller/history film. You don't see many of those.

Yours:

Haven't seen Mank, but you've confirmed my suspicion that the film is probably better appreciated with Citizen Kane fresh in mind. I can't imagine watching the Fincher without first given Kane another spin, but then it's been at least ten years for me, so maybe others have it fresher in their mind. Not that one should need to rewatch Kane to appreciate Mank, but from what I have heard, it is highly stylised from it - near identical shots etc.

Didn't love Ghost in the Shell either, but it has been a while. 13 Lakes was a pretty middle of the road (er, lake?) Benning film for me. Too long ago to remember which version of it I saw. And I have seen nothing else from you this week.

Oh, and both versions of The Stepford Wives are awesome. :folded:
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#13

Post by viktor-vaudevillain »

@sol:
some stuff there I'm really looking forward to watching: Rameau's Nephew, Black Book and Unsane - and I'm probably going to watch the other Soderbergh's at some point as well.
Another Round - 4
Inside Man - seen it.
BlacKKKlansman - 7+

@PdA:
The Unknown Craftsman - 7
Октябрь - a huge blank spot for me... which I hope to fill out soon.
ചിത്രസൂത്രം - had this on my HDD for a couple years, now you reignited my passion for watching it. Gotta do that soon! Great screenshots.
Blade Runner - divine
De occulta philosophia - I like the title: bookmarked.
とてつもなく大きな - interesting, also bookmarked.
Bells of Atlantis - one groovy piece, actually think it was you who turned me on to it back then.

@Onderhond:
African Queen - 6
Casino Royale - 5

@prodigal:
Mank - same rating. First time in the 21st century that Fincher made something subpar... Really just what you'd expect from a Netflix film on the making of Citizen Kane.
I generally like Kurt Kren, but haven't seen that one. My favorite of his might be Tausendjahrekino.
Ghost in the Shell - 7 - quite the same thoughts as you on this one.
That really is a nice double bill!
Fog line - (l)
Vapour - 7+ - far from my favorite of Joe's short films.
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#14

Post by sol »

viktor-vaudevillain wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:37 pm @sol:
some stuff there I'm really looking forward to watching: Rameau's Nephew, Black Book and Unsane - and I'm probably going to watch the other Soderbergh's at some point as well.
Another Round - 4
Rameau's Nephew is probably the best film that I've seen this year. I think you'd like it with your leanings towards experimental cinema; prodigalgodson too.

That said, I would temper my recommendation based on how well you responded to *Corpus Callosum since that is the Snow film that it mostly heavily resembles. In fact, it is a bit of a companion piece. Whereas *Corpus is all about Snow manipulating the visual elements of cinema and forcing us to consider how everything is constructed and can be torn apart, Rameau does the same thing for sound. It's also a bit sprawling like *Corpus, consisting of a number of somewhat unrelated segments strung together, though Rameau doesn't really have a narrative whereas *Corpus sort of does. I don't know. Tread with care, but I do think it's excellent if you have the patience to sit through it.

Another Round - so glad to know that I'm not alone on this one. My reaction upon leaving the theatre knowing that it won the EFA for Best Picture: "must have been a weak year for European cinema". Based on four films now, Vinterberg isn't really my sort of director.

Yours:

Liked Sorry We Missed You a lot - especially for the down-to-earth performances of the husband, daughter and wife. The son less so, but I guess he's not meant to be as sympathetic. And damn what an ending the film has. Just goes to show that Ken Loach still has it in him half a century after Kes.

Also see The Naked Kiss from you, but probably around 15 years ago. I thought it was okay at the time, but given how much I have loved Sam Fuller's war dramas and White Dog, which I have watched in the interim, there is no reason to believe that I wouldn't love The Naked Kiss also upon rewatch.
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#15

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

prodigalgodson wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:20 ampda - what was your beef with Gan btw?
I don't have a good answer for that. I couldn't take anything out of it, and the fact that it's configuration was just interesting enough to keep me hooked enough to actually finish the whole film only to confirm eventually that I have been served a bland meal with a couple of walking, talking self-pitying wet blankets just makes it worse. If I wanted to see that I'd just keep looking into a mirror.

Yours:
'Mank' is the first Fincher film I have no interest in. My lack of enthusiasm for 'Mindhunter' didn't help, but in general I've lost a lot of enthusiasm for many former favorite directors over the past years that maybe could be categorized as stylists. e.g. Park Chan-Wook, Snyder, Wachowskis, Gaspar Noé. Not that I'm the only one for whom their output has become rather stale.

'Ghost in the Shell' at this point probably easily feels passé if watched for the first time now, it found so many imitators and its ponderings and themes have become ubiquitous in mainstream cinema and series. 'Ghost in the Shell 2' is an even less balanced affair, but the good news for you is that it largely does away with the shoot-em-up and government/corporate conspiracy plot elements and instead is pretty much all music/atmosphere and philosophical waxing. Incidentally it's still one of my very favorite soundtracks, it's very much like the music in the first one, but more refined, grand and chilling. But I think 'Angel's Egg' is really more the Oshii film for you. Perhaps it has a bit more symbolism than you'd prefer but the very stripped down narrative and languid pace, being carried above all by atmosphere, should be right up your alley. And it remains to be a rather unique animated film.

'Fog Line' back when I saw it I didn't even deem worthy to swing at a cat, even though I have enough room for it. Maybe if I watched it baked...
Didn't care too much for the Kren either. But trees are great still.
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#16

Post by prodigalgodson »

Onderhond wrote: February 17th, 2021, 6:29 am One of Oshii's quotes (for Ghost in the Shell 2) I'll never forget is: As to why I use quotes from many famous philosophers the answer to that is that I want to prove how unimportant the dialogues are to a movie. In GITS 2 you don't really have to listen to any of the dialogue, it's just part of the many details in the movie and you don't have to pay any attention to a lot of the dialogue in order to understand and appreciate the movie.

From yours I haven't seen anything, I don't even recognize any of the director's names except Weerasethakul. A bit of a frustrating director for me as he certainly has the potential to create beautiful and moody films, I just don't appreciate his aesthetic choices that much. But he's definitely interesting enough to keep following, though not quite as vigorously as I do with other directors.
That quote sounds apropos haha. Looking forward to part 2.

His aesthetic choices are probably my favorite of anyone working now.
sol wrote: February 17th, 2021, 8:58 am Haven't seen Mank, but you've confirmed my suspicion that the film is probably better appreciated with Citizen Kane fresh in mind. I can't imagine watching the Fincher without first given Kane another spin, but then it's been at least ten years for me, so maybe others have it fresher in their mind. Not that one should need to rewatch Kane to appreciate Mank, but from what I have heard, it is highly stylised from it - near identical shots etc.

13 Lakes was a pretty middle of the road (er, lake?) Benning film for me. Too long ago to remember which version of it I saw. And I have seen nothing else from you this week.
I was disappointed by how little Mank had anything to do with Kane in any but the most superficial ways.

Middle-tier Benning for me too. Some of the shots drew me in, some just felt bland compared to what I was used to from him.
viktor-vaudevillain wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:37 pm @prodigal:
Mank - same rating. First time in the 21st century that Fincher made something subpar... Really just what you'd expect from a Netflix film on the making of Citizen Kane.
I generally like Kurt Kren, but haven't seen that one. My favorite of his might be Tausendjahrekino.
Ghost in the Shell - 7 - quite the same thoughts as you on this one.
That really is a nice double bill!
Fog line - (l)
Vapour - 7+ - far from my favorite of Joe's short films.
Well-put on Mank. I generally like Fincher a lot too, but I couldn't get into mind hunter either.

Thanks for the Kren rec, I've only seen 3 or so. My favorite by a good margin was Asylum.

Thanks again for sharing Vapour too, glad one of us loved it lol. I haven't seen too many of his shorts, but the only one I might rank higher is Phantoms of Nabua. I really am a sucker for any kind of mist on film though.
Perception de Ambiguity wrote: February 18th, 2021, 5:02 am
prodigalgodson wrote: February 17th, 2021, 3:20 ampda - what was your beef with Gan btw?
I don't have a good answer for that. I couldn't take anything out of it, and the fact that it's configuration was just interesting enough to keep me hooked enough to actually finish the whole film only to confirm eventually that I have been served a bland meal with a couple of walking, talking self-pitying wet blankets just makes it worse. If I wanted to see that I'd just keep looking into a mirror.

Yours:
'Mank' is the first Fincher film I have no interest in. My lack of enthusiasm for 'Mindhunter' didn't help, but in general I've lost a lot of enthusiasm for many former favorite directors over the past years that maybe could be categorized as stylists. e.g. Park Chan-Wook, Snyder, Wachowskis, Gaspar Noé. Not that I'm the only one for whom their output has become rather stale.

'Ghost in the Shell' at this point probably easily feels passé if watched for the first time now, it found so many imitators and its ponderings and themes have become ubiquitous in mainstream cinema and series. 'Ghost in the Shell 2' is an even less balanced affair, but the good news for you is that it largely does away with the shoot-em-up and government/corporate conspiracy plot elements and instead is pretty much all music/atmosphere and philosophical waxing. Incidentally it's still one of my very favorite soundtracks, it's very much like the music in the first one, but more refined, grand and chilling. But I think 'Angel's Egg' is really more the Oshii film for you. Perhaps it has a bit more symbolism than you'd prefer but the very stripped down narrative and languid pace, being carried above all by atmosphere, should be right up your alley. And it remains to be a rather unique animated film.

'Fog Line' back when I saw it I didn't even deem worthy to swing at a cat, even though I have enough room for it. Maybe if I watched it baked...
Didn't care too much for the Kren either. But trees are great still.
Haha, fair enough on Gan. I got the rec from Sy's favorite list at one point, and if there's one person who can make self-pitying wet blankets entrancing it's Takamine (see also: Floating Clouds, A Wanderer's Notebook).

That's the sense I got seeing Ghost in the Shell, though often I find the originals have a certain untouchable je-ne-sais-quois even if their imitations are thoroughly baked into the public consciousness. I'll definitely prioritize Angel's Egg (before my EMT training begins, of course), cheers.
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