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Which films Did You See Last Week? 03/02/19 - 09/02/19

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sol
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Which films Did You See Last Week? 03/02/19 - 09/02/19

#1

Post by sol » February 10th, 2019, 12:00 pm

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

Please share with us which films you saw last week. It would be great if you could include some comments on each film. It would be awesome if you could also take some time to comment on everyone else's viewings (if you're like me, "real life" sometimes gets in the way, so no need to feel obliged).

This is what I saw:

★★★★ = loved it / ★★★ = liked it a lot / ★★ = has interesting elements / ★ = did very little for me

A Ship Comes In (1928). Immigrating to America proves challenging but rewarding for an European family in this silent drama set during World War I and the years preceding it. Unapologetically flag-waving, the family's unwavering faith in their new country is a little hard to buy when things really do not go their way. The plot becomes a little contrived towards the end too, but the insight into the immigrant experience is interesting throughout, from their initial struggle to get their baby to stop crying upon landing (lest her red eyes be mistaken for illness), to lost-in-translation issues (not knowing what "professional" means) to the kids gradually growing up to understand English better than their parents. Louise Dresser received an Oscar nomination for her role as the matriarch, though with twice as many scenes, this is really Rudolph Schildkraut's movie. (first viewing, online) ★★

Laughter (1930). Content with her opulent life as the wife of a millionaire twice her age but not exactly happy, a former chorus girl considers leaving her husband when a penniless former boyfriend reappears in this early talkie. The film is billed as a comedy, but other than the bizarre image of Frederic March wrapped in a polar bear skin, there is little to laugh about for a film about a woman tossing up whether she is "born for laughter" or to be a trophy wife. Lame gags involve another (drunk) former boyfriend conversing with a statue bust and the protagonist constantly noting that she and her stepdaughter are the same age (uh, that's creepy, not funny). The film does have one very amusing stretch in which Nancy Carroll and March break into a house because they don't want to walk in the rain, but it is a little too bizarre a crime to really go along with. (first viewing, online) ★

The Ghoul (1933). Believing that an ancient Egyptian jewel is capable of providing life after death, an archeologist leaves instructions to be buried with it and then returns from the grave to take revenge when the jewel is stolen here. How exactly he manages to come back to life without the stone in his possession is never made clear and the film is poorly paced with the resurrection scenes saved for the final 20 minutes and much time dedicated to the characters other than Boris Karloff's archeologist, most of whom are dull. Karloff is effective in those scenes towards the end with a terrific decaying flesh makeup job. His mansion and tomb is also a magnificent feat of art direction, and if the bulk of the film spent in between Karloff dying and returning from the dead were trimmed, this actually may have been a half-decent film as opposed to the bore that it mostly is. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Man's Castle (1933). Both short on money, a fast-talking drifter and a homeless woman try to make a life together, but his fears of commitment jeopardise their romance in this early career Spencer Tracy film. It is easily one of Tracy's career best performances, oozing charm and charisma while also noticeably plagued by fears of being pinned down in life. Memorable moments include Tracy avoiding payment of a restaurant bill and his daring handing of summons to an elusive stage actress. The film brims the edges of melodrama and sentiment as it progresses and Tracy is never entirely likeable with his treatment of his girl, but his mixed personality underneath is what makes him so interesting. The film also provides a nice glimpse into banding together during the depths of the Great Depression with some of the optimists who Tracy hangs around with. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Alice Adams (1935). Keen on wooing on an affluent suitor, a lower-middle class woman burdens her family with her attempts to look respectable in public in this melodrama starring Katharine Hepburn. Usually a very mannered actress, Hepburn provides an unexpectedly fresh and chirpy performance and is supported well by Fred Stone as her unfairly henpecked father and Frank Albertson as her gambler brother - the most down-to-earth character in the film. Solid as some of the performances might be, it is hard to care about the characters, especially Hepburn with her first world problems and a nagging Ann Shoemaker who spends the whole film blaming Stone for not making enough money to give Hepburn the opulent lifestyle she wants. There is also a simply excruciating scene in which the family pretend to be well-off when Hepburn's suitor is invited for dinner. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Holiday (1938). Finally introduced to his fiancée's family after a long engagement, an idealist with big dreams find himself connecting more with his quirky future sister-in-law than his bride in this romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. While it is hard to dislike the film's 'seize the day' anti-capitalist philosophies, this is not an easy film to warm to. It is obvious from the first time they meet that Grant and Hepburn are better suited for one another, yet it takes them 90 minutes to realise this. The film also adds some unexpected character flaws for Grant's bride in order to make her less desirable. It is rarely funny either with lots of dragged out gags (that lost shoe!). Lew Ayres has some good moments as a depressed brother and Hepburn isn't half-bad herself but the elaborate Oscar nominated interior set design is probably the film's best asset. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Block-Heads (1938). Having spent two decades guarding a trench under the incorrect assumption that World War I was still ranging, a dimwitted soldier is invited into his old war buddy's home with chaos ensuing in this Laurel and Hardy comedy. Frequently cited as one of the pair's best films, Block-Heads is certainly refreshingly unique with Stan given much more dialogue than usual and Ollie actually feeling sorry for him half the time and seldom belittling him. There are some very funny routines too, from broken telephone lines, to out-of-order lifts, to a chair that keeps whacking a bewildered Stan. The film does not quite milk the potential of Stan discovering so much new technology (after twenty years away) for all that it is worth. The ending is also incredibly abrupt. This is a highly enjoyable affair though with nary a boring moment to be had. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Big Boss (1971). Bruce Lee's first starring role, The Big Boss casts him as an ice factory worker who becomes so disenchanted with the corrupt practices of the management that he eventually violates a nonviolence oath. The film is always too vague about this (what happened in the past; why he swore off violence) for his internal conflict to resonate as Lee contemplates whether or not to fight back. The pacing of the second half also noticeably improves once he begins lashing out. Lee is solid in the part either way, oozing charisma with just the simplest of glances upwards in addition to displaying great fighting skills as always. The zoom-outs towards the end are also very neat as they place his eventual actions into perspective. If not quite as entertaining as Enter the Dragon, this is an adequately engaging look at standing up for what is right. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Magic Blade (1976). Two swordsmen have to evade sneaky assassination attempts as they make a perilous trek across the country in this Shaw Brothers martial arts movie. The basic story does not exactly have a lot to it and neither protagonist is exactly well developed, but with imaginative attempts on their lives and several zany henchmen, there is always enough of interest to keep things chugging along here. All of the fights are very well choreographed and the filmmakers smartly include plenty of swordplay rather than relying solely on the titular unstoppable weapon that the duo take along with them. The film gets a little caught up in some improbable twists and turns that are introduced in the final fifteen minutes, but these developments allow the film to end on a nicely solemn note for what is otherwise a rather kooky swordplay venture. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Scorpion King (1992). Also known as Operation Scorpio, this Hong Kong action movie focuses on a teenager whose love of kung fu comic strips helps him to master the skills necessary to take on abusive slave traders. The title refers to the son of the local slavery kingpin whose scorpion-inspired kung fu moves prove hard to defeat, and the film features some simply breathtaking choreography, especially during the climax in which the protagonist hilariously uses a self-styled "eel tactic" to combat the scorpion moves. This a decidedly average film though outside of the fight sequences. There are more lame montages set to corny songs than in the average 1980s youth comedy; there is also a lot of silly comic relief as the protagonist tries to convince a young slave woman of her freedom. The fight moves here really need to be seen to be believed though. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Iron Monkey (1993). Forced to hunt down a Robin Hood-like masked bandit, a kung fu expert unknowingly befriends the thief and subsequently has to contend with whether or not to aid the bandit's noble cause in this Hong Kong action film. As a narrative, the film does not have a whole lot to offer beyond the countless Robin Hood films out there. Some of the comic relief is also too silly to be funny (hunger pains; eating far too spicy food). The vast majority of the humour works though with a part in which the bandit pretends to be royalty standing out in particular. The film also gives the kung fu expert's son some great fight scenes and it is very entertaining to watch the young lad in action. All of the fight scenes though are very well done with the umbrella choreography bits (a possible influence on Kingsman?) especially engaging. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Kung Fu Yoga (2017). Playing a university professor and part-time adventurer, Jackie Chan shows remarkable energy and flexibility here considering he was over 60 years old when this project was filmed. His stunts are impressive as ever, kicking briefcases out of hands, swinging between ropes and so on. He also has a very funny and well coordinated car chase scene with an unexpected lion in the backseat. Chan's presence aside though, the film sadly has little going in its favour and yet Chan is often sidelined in favour of flavourless supporting characters and such silliness as runny nose gags and kickboxing innocent hyenas (oh, yes). As for the plot, it has something to do with mystical hidden treasure and some rare stolen gemstone, but none of this is ever developed beyond basic McGuffin level, and if it were not for Chan, this would be really subpar stuff. (first viewing, online) ★

Phantom Thread (2017). An unusual relationship develops between an obsessive compulsive dressmaker and a young model set on having elevated importance in his life in this daringly different romantic drama from Paul Thomas Anderson. The film is incredibly slow to warm up with around a third of the movie elapsing before the dynamics between the controlling male protagonist and his love interest begin to shift and change. The conclusion is also abrupt, with the film ending just as it begins to explore the extent of the dynamics between the pair. The final two thirds of the project are generally riveting though as Anderson challenges traditional ideas of romantic relationships and pushes the generic expectations envelope. The film also benefits from an intriguing turn by Leslie Manville as the dressmaker's very close sister and Vicky Krieps does well as his muse. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Escape Room (2019). Along similar lines to Fermat's Room and Cube, this thriller follows a small group of individuals trying to escape various rooms by solving riddles. Initially under the impression that it is just a game, it soon becomes apparent that someone has selected them all for a reason and is set on seeing who can survive. The rooms themselves are wonderfully imaginative (especially the upside down bar) and the puzzles themselves are thought-provoking. The whole conspiracy angle does not quite click though with lots of unanswered questions. The flash-forward opening scene does not really work either and there are at least a couple of awkward false endings. It is a pretty riveting watch overall though, well shot amid claustrophobic environments, and well acted by Dale from Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and a young Taylor Russell. (first viewing, cinema) ★★★
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » February 10th, 2019, 12:00 pm

Kuro (Joji Koyama & Tujiko Noriko, 2017) 5/10

Black Harvest (Robin Anderson & Bob Connolly, 1992) 6+/10

Le lit de la vierge / The Virgin's Bed (Philippe Garrel, 1969) 7-/10

彼らが本気で編むときは / Close-Knit (荻上直子/Naoko Ogigami, 2017) 6/10


shorts

Vietnam, Land of Fire (unknown, 1966) 6+/10

Butterfly (Raz Vahn, 2018) 8-/10

Me at the Zoo (Jawed Karim, 2005) 2/10


series

Salad Fingers: "Glass Brother" (David Firth, 2019) 4+/10


notable online media

top:
The gull who eats pigeons
rest:
Bob Dylan - Interview by CBS CID (2004) - FULL VERSION
Greg Sestero on Making Best F(r)iends With Tommy Wiseau
Where Are the Creative Jobs?
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#3

Post by Coryn » February 10th, 2019, 12:15 pm

3. 03/02 Network (1976) ***
Bought the arrow academy blu ray of this one. The story might be even more reality nowadays than it was in 1976. Original and shocking plot but not my favorite Lumet.

4. 04/02 Women on the verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) ***
Typical Almodovar. Loved the characters as always.

5. 04/02 Spellbound (2002) ***
Fun documentary on spelling bee. Nothing too shocking but good fun.

6. 04/02 Click (2006) **
Cheesy but fun movie. Some parts were just over the top and simply bad.

7. 04/02 Boogie Nights (1997) ****
PTA is a master of current cinema.

8. 05/02 I am a fugitive from a chain gang (1932) ****
Made me go from 'damn, I need another job' to 'I'm so happy with my current job'.
Awesome movie from start to finish. Acting was amazing for that time as well.

9. 06/02 Bonnie and Clyde (1967) **
This one couldn't really interest me too much, some parts were kinda bad.
I do know what influence this movie had on other directors but still 2 stars for me.

10. 07/02 Brazil (1985) ***
Not my favorite from Gilliam but still had some fun and original bits in it e.g. the electricians
Story was too romantic and cheesy for me.

11. 08/02 Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969) ***
Thin plot but awesome performances from our lead roles.
[*][*][*][*][*] Favorite
[*][*][*][*] Very good
[*][*][*] Good
[*][*] Okay
[*] Bad

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#4

Post by Carmel1379 » February 10th, 2019, 12:17 pm

sol:

Phantom Thread - 8/10
Escape Room - Noted.


PdA:

You interested in the audio commentary to "Glass Brother"?


Coryn:

Network - 7/10
Spellbound - 7 or 8/10
Boogie Nights - 8/10
Bonnie and Clyde - 6 or 7/10
Brazil - 8 or 9/10
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid - 6/10


Carmel:

Written on the Wind (1956, Douglas Sirk) 8/10
Been a while since I’ve seen anything in Technicolor - that felt fresh. Loved it, from the very first second I knew this was special, as soon as I saw the assemblage of electricity pylons, power lines, oil wells, warehouses, and the tempest of winds dispersing the tree’s dying leaves and human dreams, accomplishments, promises, lives, ... all evoking a fragile and savage ontological substratum. Moreover it’s all filmed with incredible energy, propelling the viewer onto the characters’ downward spirals, onto the ravaging desires and swooning colours of excess. This was written on the wind, and shall terminate in 3, 2, 1, ...

Also, reposting the obligatory gif:

Image


Misery Loves Company (1993, Carl Brown) 8/10
Scraggly psychosis at its finest.
IMDb, letterboxd, tumblr
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whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#5

Post by Onderhond » February 10th, 2019, 1:14 pm

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01. 4.0* - Like a Dragon [Ryû ga Gotoku: Gekijô-Ban] (2007)
A lesser known Miike, but that doesn't mean it's less fun. One of his last Yakuza-themed films, but don't expect anything too serious. The film is loosely based on the Yakuza game franchise and is a hoot from start to finish. Action, crime, comedy, a few typical Miike moments. Not his best work, but still worth a look.

02. 3.5* - Hold the Dark (2018)
Gritty and icy thriller that makes the best of its surroundings and cleverly alternates between solemn scenes and gruesome action. It's what Saulnier does best. For an even higher score it should've been that little extra atmospheric, but as it is the film gripped me from the start and didn't let go until the very end.

03. 3.5* - Terrified [Aterrados] (2017)
In essence a very simple horror film, but with some very well thought out and original ideas. Don't expect anything too out of the ordinary, but this is not your average Insidious clone either. Some tense moments, creepy designs and a solid soundtrack seal the deal. Recommended if you're looking for a fun horror.

04. 3.5* - Up among the Stars [En las Estrellas] (2018)
Sweet, imaginative and creative film about a washed-up dad/director who fails to take proper care of his son. It's a solid blend of drama and fantasy that delivers on both counts. The visual effects are a little lacking, which does take away from the fantasy, but it's a minor quirk with minor impact. Recommended.

05. 3.5* - Close (2019)
A very capable and amusing hostage thriller. Rapace and Nélisse are a fine team and Jewson is very confident behind the cameras. It's not a very original film and the ending is hardly noteworthy, but there are some very tight action scenes along the way and the film never really slows down. Pretty good.

06. 2.0* - The Swordsman of All Swordsmen [Yi Dai Jian Wang] (1968)
Basic and somewhat crude martial arts flick. The plot is a copy or template (almost impossible to say with these films), then again who watches these films for the plot. Sadly the action is a bit stiff and the drama overdone. A nice finale doesn't quite make up for the mediocrity that comes before. Not great.

07. 1.5* - Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
These Jack Reacher films just aren't very good. A bland mix of thriller and action elements, a struggling Tom Cruise and some mis-directed drama make this quite a chore to watch. Zwick's direction doesn't add anything either, which makes you wonder why they even bothered making this film. Bad filler.

08. 1.0* - The Assassin Swordsman [Xia nu Chuang Tian Guan] (2000)
Rather horrendous TV movie. Even though there's enough talent on board, the film looks as if it was shot on a 5 dollar budget. While extremely dynamic and eventful, the martial arts and visual effects don't look the part, making it a very cheap and dull experience. Only for true fans of the genre, others shouldn't bother.

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#6

Post by sol » February 10th, 2019, 1:30 pm

PdA:

Only seen Me at the Zoo from you and, uh, that's why I don't rate shorts - especially something like this which was never designed to have any artistic merit in the first place. I guess it would be a 1 from me if I forced myself to rate since I don't think it does anything to elevate itself above that.

Coryn:

So many great films there; Network is possibly my favourite of the bunch with such pitch perfect stellar performances throughout the cast and such memorable moments as everyone yelling out "I'm mad as hell" from their windows in unison, plus Ned Beatty's scene in the boardroom. It is really top tier stuff. Brazil also sits quite highly in my esteem. I would have never thought to call it a "romantic" film, let alone "too romantic" myself, but I can see where you are coming from. Personally speaking, I was always more invested with the quirky futuristic humour and sets than his dreams myself.

Spellbound is easily my least favourite of your viewings last week. I thought it was pretty bad/mediocre when I watched it for the Documentary Challenge a couple of months ago. An excerpt from my review at the time: "...the film rarely addresses the downside of their obsession. One parent laughs off the suggestion that the process is akin to child abuse ... the documentary also does not tackle how spelling out loud is one of the least effective ways to learn words". I did at least like the kids though. Except for the one with the wide mouth and braces. Boy did he get on my nerves.

The rest of yours:

4. 04/02 Women on the verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) - fun at the time
6. 04/02 Click (2006) - I recall this having some pretty decent drama (fastforwarding too much) amid the gags
7. 04/02 Boogie Nights (1997) - yep, an excellent movie
8. 05/02 I am a fugitive from a chain gang (1932) - intrigued, but nearly impossible to find
9. 06/02 Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - pretty cool (terrific, unexpected ending too); first film I ever saw on Blu-ray
11. 08/02 Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969) - not nearly George Roy Hill's best film, but raindrops keep fallin' on my head...

Carmel:

Yeah, I certainly wanted to give Phantom Thread a higher rating with its willingness to push the boundaries of conventional romance and its look at a couple connecting in a most unconventional way. The film takes so long though to build up to the point and when the film ended I was really like "was that it?"; not that I can really imagine PTA and DDL signing up for a sequel, but the movie sort of concluded just as the couple began to explore the extremes of what made their connection work. I guess I was expecting an ending more in line with In the Realm of the Senses? Possibly...

Hmm, I don't think you'd like Escape Room that much because the riddles/puzzles are more wordplay than mathematics-orientated. Fermat's Room and Cube were simply the closest comparison pieces that I could think of, but I guess something like Die Hard with a Vengeance might be more similar with the riddle solving, I don't know.

I actually think that The Magic Blade might interest you the most of my viewings this week. The 'hidden in plain sight'/'empty scroll' ideas from Kung Fu Panda seem to have been almost directly lifted from this kung fu effort.

Seen neither of yours this week. In fact, I haven't seen a single Douglas Sirk movie in my life, what with my general dislike of melodramas and whatnot. I have seen that gif before though.

Onderhond:

Seen none. Definitely interested in the new Saulnier, though I liked Blue Ruin a lot more than Green Room, so I guess it depends upon which of those it is closest to. And this reminds me of a work colleague recently gushing about this great, heart-warming film that she had seen over the holidays called "Green Room". That raised an eyebrow from me until she started talking about it and I realised that she of course meant Green Book.
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#7

Post by mightysparks » February 10th, 2019, 1:32 pm

@Onderhond, I thought Hold the Dark was Saulnier's weakest so far. I really didn't like it all. Murder Party is still his best. I have been trying to find Terrified for a while but hadn't found a copy with English subs until just now...
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#8

Post by Onderhond » February 10th, 2019, 1:35 pm

sol wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 1:30 pm
Onderhond:

Seen none. Definitely interested in the new Saulnier, though I liked Blue Ruin a lot more than Green Room, so I guess it depends upon which of those it is closest to. And this reminds me of a work colleague recently gushing about this great, heart-warming film that she had seen over the holidays called "Green Room". That raised an eyebrow from me until she started talking about it and I realised that she of course meant Green Book.
Still have to see Blue Ruin, but I found Green Room to be rather disappointing. No clue why that one is coined as a horror film, because it's all rather soft and tepid if you approach it from that angle. At least Green Room prepared me a little better for Hold the Dark :)
mightysparks wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 1:32 pm
@Onderhond, I thought Hold the Dark was Saulnier's weakest so far. I really didn't like it all. Murder Party is still his best. I have been trying to find Terrified for a while but hadn't found a copy with English subs until just now...
I have Murder Party waiting on Netflix, but have low expectations for it. Terrified is also just a click away on Netflix (was added last week here I think), which is probably why a version with EN subs showed up.

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#9

Post by joachimt » February 10th, 2019, 1:46 pm

Official features:
Three on a Match (6/10)
Fun romantic drama, but not especially memorable.
Kitch's Last Meal (5/10)
Random homevideo shots, two at the same time on top of each other.
Another Girl Another Planet (4/10)
Amateuristic. Looks and feels like something made by some random people who decided to shoot a movie at home.

Official shorts:
Mor vran (8/10)
Leave it to Epstein to make great compositions and shots.
Birds Anonymous (7/10)
Funny.
Chuyen tu te (7/10)
Quite interesting doc in which the subject and the makers of the doc are equally important. It's showing the lives of Vietnamese people and it also tells about the filmmakers, whose lives become subject of the movie as well. Maybe I'll upgrade if I think about it some more.
Rohfilm (7/10)
Intense experimental film.
Étude cinégraphique sur une arabesque (6/10)
The Shetland Experience (6/10)
Vietnam, Land of Fire (6/10)
2 Into 1 (5/10)
Fun idea, but not more than that.
Aerial (5/10)
Amy! (5/10)
Dull.
Machorka-Muff (5/10)
Above average for Straub-Huillet.
Spot the Microdot (3/10)
Fun idea, punching holes in the film itself, but the result is boring and annoying.
Wind Vane (2/10)
Pointless. Someone had a nice idea. Let's put two camera's on two different wind vanes only a few meters away from each other and let them shoot whatever there is to see. So the result is two shots of the same field and a few trees, while the camera goes left and right influenced by the wind. Fun idea if you've got two camera's and had nothing better to shoot, but the result is just a pointless movie, if you can call it that.

Unofficial features:
Jane (8/10)
Amazing footage, well put together. I believe I saw some footage when I was a child, because I remember that chimpanzee dying in the tree after his mother died.
The Beguiled (7/10)
Tiny story, but the atmosphere and tension were very nice.
The Mudge Boy (7/10)
Last Vegas (6/10)
Stupid story saved by four fine actors.
Rambo (6/10)
I was into something simple that evening and this was the right choice. Simple story, that's an excuse for lots of violence and gore. The gore was well done, btw.
Slucajni zivot (6/10)
Not bad, but I'm going to forget about this one within a few weeks.
Transcendence (6/10)
Fun SciFi. Could have used more tension though, because it was pretty clear soon enough which way it was going.
Evan Almighty (4/10)
The previous almighty was kinda fun, but this was mostly annoying. I don't think I laughed a single time. Freeman was nice though as God.

Unofficial shorts: (only early stuff from around 1900, so no ratings, because they don't mean a lot)
I was the first to check for most of these.
A Bowery Cafe
A Busy Day for the Corset Model
A Child of the Ghetto
A Couple of Lightweights at Coney Island
A Dance on the Pike
Battery B Arriving at Camp
Battery B Pitching Camp
Battery K Siege Guns
Boat Wagon and Beach Cart
Boxing Horses Luna Park, Coney Island
City Hall to Harlem in 15 Seconds, Via the Subway Route
Cuban Volunteers Marching for Rations
Day at the Circus
Deceived Slumming Party
The Boy in the Barrel
The Coney Island Beach Patrol
The Pajama Dance
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#10

Post by lynchs » February 10th, 2019, 1:48 pm

downloaded
the good

Os Inconfidentes (1972) (l)
Before Need Redressed (1994) (l) SHORT
Adynata (1983) (l) SHORT
A través de las ruinas (1982) (l) SHORT

A Warm Day Comes After a Cold Winter (1995) SHORT
Aspiraciones (1976) SHORT
Another Worldy (1999) SHORT
Brouillard: Passage #14 (2014) SHORT
Beneath the Skyline (1966) SHORT
Clouds (2012) SHORT

the bad

Sirènes (1961) SHORT
Nevestka (1972)
El viento sabe que vuelvo a casa (2016)
Vinterbrødre (2017)
Kékszakállú (2016)
Lazzaro felice (2018)
Cold Blooded (2012)

and the ugly

Verifica incerta - Disperse Exclamatory Phase (1965) SHORT
Hyuil (1968) :unsure: jd's favorite

from TV

Phantom (VI) (2017) SHORT
Nana (2011)

Duels (2014– )
Episode: Truffaut vs. Godard (2016)

notable online media

Benfica & UFC

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PeacefulAnarchy
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#11

Post by PeacefulAnarchy » February 10th, 2019, 1:56 pm

I want to get back to writing about films (Also watching films).

The Shout (1978) 7.5/10
A slow burn 70s melancholy insanity horror. Is there a name for this slice of horror, stuff like Don't Look Now, The Last Wave, Images, etc? I guess in the 70s they fit more smoothly in the continuum with stuff like The Exorcist or The Omen being the next level. In any case this isn't the best example of the style, but it is quite good. At its heart we have John Hurt and Alan Bates in an enjoyable battle of wills with an eerie atmosphere, a solid core for this type of movie. The framing device is a bit less effective and feels a bit like padding, but it works and has a few good moments.

Oklahoma! (1955) 4/10
The first 5 minutes had me excited that it wouldn't be a two and a half hour slog, with stunning photography and an enjoyably snarky old lady. Then the guy started singing and it became everything I feared. The "songs" are absolutely awful, the narrative is shit and that stunning photography is a purely technical achievement because the actual cinematography is below average. The whole thing is incredibly tiresome and the only reason it's watchable at all, besides the pretty colours, is that some of the secondary characters are enjoyable. Steiger is the only one trying, although in a way that actually makes the film worse since his character, the villain, is the only actual human around and even when he's an asshole he's more sympathetic than the pieces of cardboard around him. He is fun to watch, though, and his scenes are far and away the best. Gloria Grahame puts in a full effort too, but her effort is going to playing an annoying ditz so it's a wash. Still, she has some good lines and is fun to watch, except when she sings and is the worst part of the whole film. I guess Eddie Albert and the aforementioned old lady are also good for a couple of laughs, but I think they mostly stand out because of how bad everything else. It took me years to get around to watching this, and I should have bailed after those first five minutes.

The House That Jack Built (2018) 9/10
Admittedly I haven't seen much from last year besides the big films, and even then only those that have been released on Blu/streaming, but this is my currently my favourite of the year. It's von Trier through and through, with its meticulous construction, gallows (sometimes even hateful) humour, and overindulgent self referential style and themes. If you hate von Trier for what he has to say and how he says it this will not change your mind, but if you're on the fence this has both more overt misanthropy and more clear humour than most of his films. This is about the same length as Oklahoma! but it felt like it went by in a brisk flash in comparison. Dillon is so good at playing a serial killer and switching between personas and while he's the centre of the film in every way the supporting cast is good too, even if necessarily thin. There's so much morbid creativity here, visual, narrative. and thematic all of which fits together to build the whole.

Climax (2018) 8/10
I'm not a fan of Noé, and this is very much a Noé film, but the visual style is so amazing that it makes up for a lot. I was enthralled for the first hour with the dance sequences and snippets of dumb conversation and while my interest started to wane as the nightmare second half ensued it still maintained my interest well enough to the end which comes a just about the right time. It's an experience to be sure.

Leave No Trace (2018) 8/10
Even though I've seen people compare this to Wendy and Lucy, and it makes sense from a superficial stylistic perspective, I was actually much more reminded of Captain Fantastic. It's more grounded than that film, but shares a lot of its thematic elements of the struggle to live apart from society, though in this case the causes are less idealistic and more tragic. Even so, it's an interesting exploration of the limits of what passes for normal and the limits of social expectations and financial ability. Ben Foster is good, but his character is dead set so his struggles only give us so much. The girl who plays his daughter has a more complex character to deal with, and she does a great job with it from start to finish. It's a film that manages bittersweet not by mixing a ton of joy with tragedy, but by simply allowing us to perceive a mixed frustrated reality and recognize that it will always be mixed and frustrated. I really appreciate that.

From last Friday/Saturday there's also:
Bird Box (2018) 6.5/10
This is dumb, but also kind of good, but mostly a mixed bag. It's a good horror premise, "what if looking outside made you kill yourself," and it makes sure to never delve deeply into the how or why and simply explore the reactions of survivors which is mostly for the best. With a split time line we have half the film taking place in early days, as your typical group of mismatched survivors have to struggle to adapt, and the other half with Bullock trying to take two children on a blindfolded trip. The first half is typical with the usual dumb mistakes mixed with bits of cleverness that feel thrown in by a writer eager to say "see my characters aren't all the typical horror movie idiots." It's nothing special, but it has its moments and is enjoyable as far as it goes. As things break down it gets more interesting, but also dumber, and overall a lot of it doesn't add much. The other half feels like it has higher stakes and has some good moments, but there's only so much that can be done with it and it feels rather repetitive and a bit tedious particularly the penultimate scenes. It's a fine film to pass a lazy afternoon, nothing more nor less.

Eighth Grade (2018) 8.5/10
I spent a lot of this film wondering what I would have thought of this if I had seen it in eighth grade, and I don't think I ever decided on an answer. Emotionally it resonates well, even with all the differences in experiences I can feel the awkwardness and confusion and frustration and I can relate it back to myself at that age, the worst age. But I don't know if I, at that age, would have been able to see that core rather than dwell on differences, for both good and ill. Part of that is that the technological landscape is so different that core aspects of daily life would have been sci-fi 25 years ago(Fuck I'm old!), and another part is that as good as it is at feeling authentic there are a few times where you can feel the voice of an adult writer. But I'm not in eight grade and, as an adult watching it, yeah this is really, really good and it's the kind of fresh perspective cinema needs more of. It reminds me of that time in my life, and gives me a window from which to reflect on my actions and inactions, but also serves as a reminder that there are kids today struggling with those same feelings and frustrations and confusions. We've all lived it to some extent, so it's not so much a film with revelations as it is one with reminders and empathy and it works really well in that regard staying grounded and making us feel the drama of the mundane.
On a final note, gucci is the my most hated teen slang of all time and I know this makes me officially old but I've hated it since I first heard it a couple of years and it needs to die and the fact that the lead says this repeatedly makes it resonate but also creates a little bit of distant antipathy towards.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) 7/10
Montages are the cornerstone of music biopics, so why not make a music biopic that iss essentially all montage. A handful of scenes each culminating in a musical performance, each of those culminating in an era defining performance, where all of those culminate into the films finale. That's what this film is (except it's not clever enough to actually consciously and methodically do that) and it's not bad, scene to scene. Some are true, some are embellished, some straight up lies that from what I've read about them don't seem at all necessary for the film's narrative to work, but individually they're all fluffily entertaining with a hint of drama but nothing that will linger. Each scene is a nice little piece of candy, but by the end it all feels hollow and unsatisfying. For a film like this to work it has to be much, much, better with precise editing and stunning visuals, not the string of "good enough" that is this film, particularly the editing which is very frequent and not very good. As a whole it is "good enough," it's enjoyable and as someone who went in giving zero fucks about Queen it made me vaguely interested in listening to a few albums, but it's not particularly special or memorable.

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#12

Post by sol » February 10th, 2019, 2:11 pm

joachimt:

I actually recall Rambo being pretty good; certainly the best of the sequels at least. Definitely liked Transcendence less than you. It had an awesome concept (transferring yourself to 'digital' in order to achieve immortality) but I found the evil technology narrative treatment to be really old-hat and lacklustre. Similar opinion of Last Vegas, which I also only watched on account of the actors.

lynchs:

Seen none. In fact, I haven't heard of more than half of them. Or maybe I only know them by their English language titles. :unsure:

Peaceful:

I haven't seen The Shout and Oklahoma! in a long time, but I recall liking both. The latter surprisingly so, and maybe mostly because it was a surprise.

I laughed out loud at your comment regarding the uses of 'Gucci' in Eighth Grade since that's something that befuddled me at first when some of my students last year began to use it at the end of the videos that they were making in class. It's kind of interesting how the YouTube phenomenon has shaped the way kids today thinking about filming - that they are creating something for public consumption, not just something artistic or as an alternative narrative point-of-view retell. A lot of kids also handed in projects with "subscribe!" at the end of their videos. But I digress. Yeah, Eighth Grade was great.

I can't tell if I liked Bohemian Rhapsody less than you or not. Unlike you, I entered the film as a Queen fan, so I did like the music-oriented segments and whatnot, though at the same account, I didn't like how little the film explored the band members outside of Freddie Mercury (they pretty much ended up as interchangeable) and I didn't feel that the film quite delved deep enough into the depths of Mercury's depravity during his career lows.
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#13

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » February 10th, 2019, 2:20 pm

Carmel1379 wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:17 pm
You interested in the audio commentary to "Glass Brother"?
Thanks for the offer, but no, not particularly, unless you thought it was so revelatory in its own right that it is a must-listen.
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#14

Post by mightysparks » February 10th, 2019, 2:22 pm

Onderhond wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 1:35 pm
sol wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 1:30 pm
Onderhond:

Seen none. Definitely interested in the new Saulnier, though I liked Blue Ruin a lot more than Green Room, so I guess it depends upon which of those it is closest to. And this reminds me of a work colleague recently gushing about this great, heart-warming film that she had seen over the holidays called "Green Room". That raised an eyebrow from me until she started talking about it and I realised that she of course meant Green Book.
Still have to see Blue Ruin, but I found Green Room to be rather disappointing. No clue why that one is coined as a horror film, because it's all rather soft and tepid if you approach it from that angle. At least Green Room prepared me a little better for Hold the Dark :)
mightysparks wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 1:32 pm
@Onderhond, I thought Hold the Dark was Saulnier's weakest so far. I really didn't like it all. Murder Party is still his best. I have been trying to find Terrified for a while but hadn't found a copy with English subs until just now...
I have Murder Party waiting on Netflix, but have low expectations for it. Terrified is also just a click away on Netflix (was added last week here I think), which is probably why a version with EN subs showed up.
Didn’t realize it was on Netflix (rarely go in it and with internet trouble lately it’s been impossible to use). Hold the Dark is more like Blue Ruin, and it’s his least graphic or violent film. It attempts to be a slowburn and atmospheric mystery.
"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

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lynchs
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#15

Post by lynchs » February 10th, 2019, 3:01 pm

sol, all long ago, you know the drill,

Holiday (1938) 810 Cary Grant (l) Katharine Hepburn (l)
Siu nin Wong Fei Hung chi: Tit ma lau (1993) 510 give me Chuck Norris instead

Percepção de Ambiguidade,
nada mate

Coryn, all long ago,

Network (1976) 710 subplots and lots of shouting
Mujeres al borde de un ataque de "nervios" (1988) 810 same characters, same topics, same everything, but works every time
Boogie Nights (1997) 610 conventional
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) 810 Muni's classic
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) 710 slapsticky
Brazil (1985) (l) care for a little necrophilia?
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969) 710 rushed

Carmel1379,
Written on the Wind (1956) 410 soap opera without opera? :)

Onderhond,
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) 410 dumb ;)

joachimt,

Mor vran (1931) 810
Aerial (1974) 710
The Beguiled (2017) 410 dull
Rambo (2008) 410 war porn
Slucajni zivot (1969) 610 don't remember anything
Transcendence (2014) 410 very very transcendently... cliché

PeacefulAnarchy,
The Shout (1978) 810 thrilling
The House That Jack Built (2018) 510 God of emptiness

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#16

Post by lynchs » February 10th, 2019, 3:11 pm

sol wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 2:11 pm

lynchs:

Seen none. In fact, I haven't heard of more than half of them. Or maybe I only know them by their English language titles. :unsure:
reported <_<

just copy paste, I always use original titles, that's me :thumbsup:

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#17

Post by Lonewolf2003 » February 10th, 2019, 4:10 pm

My FTVs this week:

Little Caesar (1931): 5.8 - my enjoyment of this was hampered by some subpar acting and very monotonous line-delivery.
Beautiful Boy (2018): 7.2 - the writing especially the dialogues in this are very good and both Carell and Chalamet do justice to this writing with their strong acting. The movie as whole suffers from an fragmented story structure that kept me from engaging in it more.
Zhuibu (Manhunt) (2017): 6.5 Woo returns also to the style of his most famous works with this. The plot is the typical Hitchcockian wrong man at the wrong time and place set up which in Woo hands leads to almost constant action scenes. Those scenes while still enjoyable don't reach the artistic height of Woo's famous bullet opera's. The laughable English most of the characters speak to each other, because of the international cast, drags the acting down a lot. Everybody and everything in this look richer and better than in an Italians Gucci commercial. Maybe this says something also about modern day China.
The House That Jack Built (2018): 5.2 - by far the weakest movie by von Trier in a decade. Not because of all the violence (which honestly wasn't even that horrific at all). I do get that the lack of suspense and emotion in those scene are meant to confront the viewer which their lack of reaction to violence in this (media) world oversaturated with violence, tho that doesn't make for a very engaging movie experience. No the main reason are first that von Triers directing isn't as inventive and good as usual, only the epilogue showed some of this. But last and most of all because of all the platitudes about art ventilated in this.
My Man Godfrey (1936): 7.5 - Powell is absolutely sensational in this. Of course it isn't hard to come across as a great person, when the rest are so horrible, annoying, entitled and racist. Even Lombard character, who's supposed to be to most sympathetic of the family I guess, is a spoiled hysterical brat. Also for this to work as a social satire the characters were too broad. So while I enjoyed the very witty dialogue, this kept me from seeing the absolute greatness of this.
A Farewell to Arms (1932): 7.8 - This adaption by Borzage of Hemingway's classic look absolutely stunning, especially the mis en scene is great So it's no wonder it won the Best Cinematography Oscar. Borzage adaption more focus on the melodramatic romantic aspect than the war aspect, most we see from the later is a stunning expressionistic sequence near the end. But this was a correct choice, it makes for a tighter better story instead of trying to cram the whole novel in 90 minutes of movie. It also aligns better with Borzage sentiments as a director.
The Roaring Twenties (1939): 7.8 - Good gangster movie about the rise and fall of a gangster during the prohibition era. Cagney sells every stage his character goes trough (which not many actors can). Bogart is great in his supporting role.
Fuk sau (Vengeance) (2009): 7.2 - To does what he does best; shooting some highly styled action in a crime movie. This time starring the French rockstar legend Johnny Hallyday. While his casting might come across as stunt casting, it somehow works because Hallyday dressed in a raincoat with glasses and a hat gives it a noirish touch. The casting of a Frenchman made me remind Melville's gangster movies even more, which share honor-among-thieves code with To's movies. (It's no coincidence of course that Alain Delon was actually To's first choice for the lead and the character is named Costello just like Delon in le Samuraï.) While this isn't among To's best works in the genre, it's a recom for any To or action fans out there.
Chai gong [Mad Monk] (1993): 5.0 - Maybe a bigger understanding of Chinese mythology from my part might have helped in understanding the basic principles behind this better, but I doubt the plot would been less incoherent. And the movie sure won’t be less ridiculous. Despite or maybe thanks to this ridiculousness it did manage to get a few laughs out if me.
Sam sei goon [Justice, My Foot!] (1992): 4.0 - Boring, stupid and unfunny at best. Offensive at its worst.
Chik geuk siu ji [The Bare-Footed Kid] (1993): 6.2 - Although still not good, this was one was way better than the previous two, because it depends less on stupid broad comedy, has a more comprehensible plot, more sympathetic characters and most of all some decent martial arts scenes.
Man tam [Blind Detective] (2013): 5.8 - A blind detective is partnered with a female inspector to solve cold cases. To shifts from police action to buddy cop to romcom to dark thriller and back again in this. While he does has the beat of the various genres down in their sequences, the tone of these different genre don’t mix well. They distract from instead of adding to each other. Making the total movie less than the sum of its part. The other big problem is that Lau in his ignorance of his partners feelings for him emotionally abuses her, making it impossible to keep emotionally invested in his character.
Wu wei shen tan [Loving You] (1995): 5.8 - another mix of genres this time crime and family drama. A hard nosed workaholic cop is in bad marriage. His pregnant wife is about to leave him. But then he is shot in the head by his nemesis, testing his marriage even more. The action crime part is quite decent. But its the family drama and characterizations that pulls this down. The redemption and change of character by the protagonist comes quite out of nowhere. This could have benefited from a longer run time to develop his growth better. But then even with only a 80 minute run time the movie already felt like it lasted more than 2 hours, which is never a good sign.
Daan gyun naam yu [Don't Go Breaking My Heart] (2011): 6.0 - A romcom in which the female lead has to chose between a rich badboy who cutely flirts with her and a loyal, bit dull nice guy. The three characters do have a lot of charisma and chemistry between them. But the indecision of the female to chose for the nice guy instead of the asshole gets annoying after awhile.
Daan gyun naam yu 2 [Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2] (2014): 6.0 - In the sequel things gets more complicated now the female's lead boss is dating the bad boy, while also dating the female lead's brother. Who the boss mistakes for the female's lead fiance.
SpoilerShow
Ooh and while haven chosen for the nice guy in the previous one, her feelings for the bad boy haven't disappeared.
. What this one has going for it compared to the first is that because it has more story parts moving, it moves in a much higher tempo. On the other side this high tempo and more complicated story with multiple characters leaves less room for characterization, something the first one did better.
Sap maan fo gap [Lifeline] (1997): 6.5 - A movie about a firefighter brigade in HK. The first half of this feels like a tv-drama, with some smal "action" moments and different characters getting their background story. But the piece de resistance of this is the last half in which they have to rescue some people from a huge fire in a factory. To really built the suspense in this. He also very well conveys the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped by the fire in the building during their escape.

No rewatches this week. Have to go now, might react later to others. But from a quick glance I can see that I liked the von Trier way less than PdA. And I'm far from a von Trier hater - so that isn't the reason.
I also liked the new PTA more than sol did. But here I kind of agree with his comments about the plot. But imo its PTAs direction that lifts the movie above these problems.
Last edited by Lonewolf2003 on February 10th, 2019, 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#18

Post by peeptoad » February 10th, 2019, 4:28 pm

Hi sol!
Of yours I've seen two: The Ghoul and Iron Monkey. I liked The Ghoul more than you did, but it's still around average imho. I saw Iron Monkey back in the 90s in the theater. I recall liking it a lot, but don't have a real memory of the details except for a scene in which the main character has cupping done on his back...

Anyhow, here are my paltry few for the week ;)

Black Moon (1934) 7
Prospect (2018) 7
Son of Frankenstein (1939) 6
L'âge d'or (1930) 8
Lost Horizon (1937) 8

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#19

Post by morrison-dylan-fan » February 10th, 2019, 10:09 pm

Hi all,I hope everyone had a good weekend, Saturday was my 32nd birthday,and I saw:

Birthday viewings:

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Oculus: Chapter 3 - The Man with the Plan (2006) 7

ilmed in 4 days from a budget raised on GoFundMe, editor/cinematographer/co-writer/director Mike Flanagan reflects on what was to come with future recurring motifs of stretched lower jaws and an abrasive use of alarm sounds booming in the location. Set in one single room, Flanagan impressively locks the location with a slow-burn Horror atmosphere threaded from side shots of the pristine white room and long lingering shots aimed straight at the mirror. Reviving some of the history of the mirror mentioned here for Oculus (2013) later, the screenplay by Flanagan & Seidman gazes into unsettling psychological horror from the monologues by Russel cracking his state of mind over a desire for the mirror to reveal its secrets. On his own for the whole film, Scott Graham (who'd later work with Flanagan on Oculus and Absentia (2011)) gives a wonderfully jittery turn as Russel, whose calculations and extensive research are torn by the Oculus rift.

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Trauma (1993)-The Workprint/ "Italian Cut" 8 (have been after these versions since 2013!)

Scattered across two different cuts, (talk about not making it easy) the additional 12 minutes of footage cleans up a number of rough edges left in the cinema version, as additional extension of scenes (such as Parsons visiting a pub) unveils various missing paths Parsons and Aura took to solving the murder case. Making their first encounter take place much earlier than in the "normal" cut, director Dario Argento displays a surprisingly subtle touch in the initial establishment of Aura's rebel edge, and a drug problem which lingers with Parsons and won't break until he solves the murders and reunites with Aura.

Original notes on the "theatrical" cut script: 7

For what is,perhaps his most personal (which includes a rather weird,un intensionally off-putting topless scene featuring Argento's 18 year old daughter Asia,and also a mean spirited swipe against his former,white witch performing partner Daria Nicolodi) film,the screenplay by Dario and co-writer's T.E.D. Klein,Ruth Jessup,Franco Ferrini and Gianni Romoli disappointingly contrasts Argento's confident directing with a script that is far too nervous in deciding which direction it would like to go,which leads to the Giallo element of the movie sadly being left as an separate entity to the rest of the film (something that is also not helped by an oddly comedic score from Pino Donaggio.)

On all the other aspects of the film (from parts of the "theatrical" review, now with the addition footage my rating is 7 for "theatrical" cut, and 8 for "Italian/Workprint."

Surprisingly keeping away from changing his directing style for his first (and up to now only) solo film to be made in the US,director Dario Argento closely works with cinematography Raffaele Mertes to give the movie an extremely atmospheric wet mist appearance,which helps to create a strong sense that the mysterious killer (and the media reports) are causing the fear temperature of the residents to go up to a scouting hot heat.Along with the wonderful "wet mist" appearance,Argento also shows a real eye in his great stylised directing for claustrophobic,closed off locations,with scenes involving Parsons searching round the killers house/ basement having a very chilling feel,due to it looking like David is inadvertently cornering himself,as the killer prepares to strike and inflict trauma.

HK Cinema:

The Enchanting Ghost (1970) 7

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Weaving a tale more tragic Gothic Romance than Gothic Horror for the majority of the run time, director Hsu Chiang Chou & cinematographer Hsi Lu Chen display an impeccable taste in surrounding the haunted house in a delicate stilted atmosphere painted with beautiful water colours along the grounds of the building which blossom a classical elegance. Placing so much focus on the mood of the movie, Chou goals get undermined at each turn by the terribly ill-judged score by Fu-Ling Wang, whose wah-wah noise brings unintended comedy to the serious sweeping romance.

Whilst not taking things to their full potential in the male role being played by a woman, the screenplay by a sadly un-credited writer burns with a sincerity to this (somewhat) lesbian romance as outside forces bring an evil into the house in order to kill the romance, which unleashes an evil upon them. Dipping into a lake of revenge horror for the final, the writer does very well in keeping the motives for the swift attacks clear and precise. Entering the house broken after being swindled out of his own home, Li-Hua Yang gives an excellent performance as Lang, whose love Yang captures with a sensitivity that burns out into a sorrow which haunts that final shot. Bonding with Lang after the death of her mum, Mei-Yao Chang gives a terrific turn as Ruyu, who Mei-Yao gives a sharpness to which fully reveals itself with the arrival of the enchanting ghost.

Curry & Pepper (1990) 6

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Playing the straight woman to the mad-cap antics, cute Ann Bridgewater gives a very good performance as Law, whose eager attitude to capture the cops protecting the streets is captured with a breeziness by Bridgewater. The second flick they would do together after Faithfully Yours (1988), Jacky Cheung and Stephen Chow already display a yin/yang ease in their buddy act, via Chow supplying the frantic physical slap-stick as Pepper, while Jacky Cheung has Curry target punch-lines with a funny nervousness.

Sending the duo off with reporter Law for the first half, director Blackie Shou Liang Ko & cinematographer Wai-Keung Lau hold the broad punch-lines and funny stumbling physical gags together on the foundation of Law filming all the antics, and the terrific brooding synch score from Richard Lo. Once the doc filming is wrapped, Ko and the screenplay by James Yuen become hazy in connecting all that took place in the first half with what unfolds in the second, as the duo take on a gang which is poorly forced into linking with Law's doc filming. Whilst the road to it is shaky, Ko cooks up a winning final with a pitch-perfect spoofing of the Heroic Bloodshed genre,complete with ultra-stylised tracking shots smashing against blown out windows and icy freeze frames for the most over the top action kicks cooked up by Curry and Pepper.

Operation Lipstick (1967) 9

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"I have great skills for stealing love,just like the way I lightly stole your wallet."

Blowing the film wide open with a canon ball through a cake in Li Bing's introduction, writer/ directing auteur Umetsugu Inoue is joined by cinematographer Love Parade (1963) in bringing his eye for Musical numbers over to the spy genre. Book-ending Bing's intro and final scenes as Musical numbers,Inoue scatters the stylisation over the mad-cap chase for the microfilm, in shimmering pinks and yellows riding a wave of quick-fire zoom-ins down hidden side streets, and crisp Dutch angles giving gang fights a slippery atmosphere. Twisting the microfilm with a real relish,Inoue drizzles in wonderfully peculiar colourful edges springing from guitar-playing assassins,a killer with hooks for hands and bursts of bright yellow smoke and the fake MacGuffin being handed along in fluid panning shots.

Getting ahead of the Euro Spy games by having Bing caught in the centre of the web, the screenplay by Inoue brilliantly sinks Bing into the full-scale espionage war by attempts Bing makes to get a friend to correct a mistake, unintentionally drawing them each closer to the double-dealing taking place. Referencing the Cold War by the microfilm containing "atomic energy" details, Inoue makes the film be impressively modern, via Bing being an equal to all the male spies, who she exchanges mishaps and underhanded mind-games to grab the MacGuffin. Chopping down attempts from others to get the film, Pei-Pei Cheng gives an excellent performance as Bing, with Bing striking a great balance between high-kicking quick-wits and lipstick glamour.

The Singing Thief (1969) 8

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Swooning round the opening music number like a Pop-star pin-up,Jimmy Lin Chong gives a sparkling turn as 'Diamond' Pan,thanks to Chong's slick charisma fitting that of a gentlemen thief, while offering a believability to "Diamond" putting his thieving days behind and becoming a singer. Suspecting he still has a sparkle in his eyes for robbery, pretty Lily Ho gives an elegant twist as heiress Darling Fang, who is unable to resist the temptation of "Diamond" being a dangerous thief.Departing from the Martial Arts creations they had done for Shaw Brothers in the past, director Cheh Chang & cinematographer Mu-To Kung wonderfully criss-cross Musical numbers with spy Caper thrills and scatter-gun Kung-Fu action.

Keeping "Diamond's" robbery past an open secret, Chang shines an ultra-stylised light over the jewels in Diamond's life which shimmer in glittery kitsch yellows, greens and pinks being sprayed on the dance floor and his bedroom wall, along with distorted corner shots tracking a copycat thief from Diamond's view. Holding the hearts and diamonds that he has stolen, the screenplay by Kang Chien Chiu spins a comedic playfulness from Diamond being a charmer who outwits the police at every turn. Rolling in double crosses as Diamond tries to catch a copycat thief, Chiu loses focus by trying to to bring gangs into the action, which leads to a final where the motives remain somewhat vague, yet can't take the shine off a Diamond geezer.

Other flicks:

Upgrade (2018) 10

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Backed by the grinding Trent Reznor-style Industrial hum from composer Jed Palmer,writer/director Leigh Whannell is joined by The Mule (2014-a film co-written/starring Whannell) cinematographer Stefan Duscio in giving the futuristic setting a pristine metallic appearance, lining Trace corridor to revenge with a subtle design on an inability to escape from machinery surrounding him.Slashing at the knife-edge atmosphere over the build up to revenge attacks, Whannell stamps Trace's actions with burning neon reds and purples which simmer down to metallic whites as Trace calculates his next line of attack.

Pulling the raw nerves of his Horror past into Action, Whannell carves out incredibly visceral set-pieces, charged by an excellent precision of keeping Trace framed in the middle of the screen, which allow for the fights to pack a real crunch thanks to the smooth visibility of each move, and the move to speed-up footage highlighting Trace gradual loss of control of his own body movements. Set in the near-future, the screenplay by Whannell wires Cyberpunk Sci-Fi anxiety with raw revenge Action and insidious Body Horror at an outstanding upload speed. Taking his wife and the ability to move his limbs within the first 10 minutes,Whannell slams Grey Trace's nose to the grindstone as he is left washed out in the corner with only basic machines.

Getting what looks to be a helping hand, Whannell places Grey in a thrilling vice-like grip, with the revelation that his computer body chip "Stem" can talk to him, leading to push and pull battles over how far Grey goes with his revenge. Tapping into Cyberpunk fears of man verses machine, Whannell unleashes a knock-out twist ending, which in a similar move to Saw,changes perspective on what the viewer believes they have seen. Wired in by Harrison Gilbertson's eerie, dead-eyed Eron Keen, Simon Maiden gives a pitch-perfect performance as Stem, whose calm, smoothing tone Maiden slowly snaps at the edges. Left a broken man, Logan Marshall-Green gives a blistering turn as Grey, thanks to Marshall-Green feeding Grey's sorrow into a burning rage which gets twisted into doubt, as Grey begins to regret his upgrade.

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The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955) 4

Throwing the man in rubber costume monster on the screen within the first minute, (why bother building up suspense?!) editor/ director Dan Milner & cinematographer Brydon Baker catch an oddly cute goofy atmosphere which draws up the type of outline distributing company American Releasing Corporation would follow for teen drive-in movies when it became AIP, as Milner dabs swift under water Creature Feature terror with pretty ladies in bikinis and chiselled guys chasing after the monster and trying to locate the creator. Whilst the limited $100 thousand budget should have helped to give it a fast pace, the screenplay by Lou Rusoff only offers a few splashes of iffy scientists and monster antics, instead placing the focus on the rather dry attempt by Stevens to find who put the phantom under 10,000 leagues.

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#20

Post by RedHawk10 » February 10th, 2019, 11:02 pm

Vice (2018) - 5/10

This wasn't good but it also wasn't as godawful as a lot of people are making it out to be. It's annoyingly condescending for...whatever the hell it is this is trying to say...and most of the attempts at humor fall flat. Still, it's mildly enjoyable. Bale's weirdly eerie performance was fine, and I'll admit I found the sudden cut to credits like an hour in actually pretty funny.

BlacKkKlansman (2018) - 6/10

Decently entertaining, but other than the revolting ending (I mean that in a good way) this played it disappointingly safe and was too on the nose for me. I guess I can see the point that spots of it are intentionally heavy-handed, but I didn't feel it was done too well even if that was the purpose.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) - 8/10, probably a 9

I can certainly see why this has left people bewildered. My first impression is that this is among the very best things the Coens have done, one of their most nuanced and honest films yet. Loved it.

On the segments:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - borderline brilliant. Manages the incredibly difficult task of being as comically absurd as it is fucking disturbing.
Near Algodones - should've been longer, felt rushed. Not bad though.
Meal Ticket - effective grim parable.
All Gold Canyon - gorgeously shot...a bit simple thematically, but good.
The Gal Who Got Rattled - clearly the most fleshed out of the stories, and easily one of the strongest. All the performances here are excellent.
The Mortal Remains - perfect final chapter to this thing with a wonderfully atmospheric close.
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#21

Post by RedHawk10 » February 10th, 2019, 11:14 pm

Sol - Phantom Thread is fantastic, I'd say it's Anderson's third best behind The Master and Magnolia. I get what people are saying about the ending, but it didn't bother me.

Coryn - Brazil is one of my favorite science fiction films, what a bleak and singular vision. Network and Boogie Nights are both great. Bonnie and Clyde is good, but not totally in love with that one.

Joachim - Not a fan at all of the two I've seen from your bunch this week. Strongly disliked Rambo and found The Beguiled a slog.

PeacefulAnarchy - that's one of the only positive takes on Bohemian Rhapsody I've seen, lol. I'm skipping it. I would like to see the new Trier flick, even if I do have somewhat mixed feelings on his stuff.

Haven't seen any others. Hope everyone had a good week!

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#22

Post by mightysparks » February 11th, 2019, 12:31 am

Was only one film behind this time, finally keeping up again.. Pretty bland week though.

Jing wu men (1972) 5/10
When a renowned martial arts teacher dies, one of his students seeks the truth behind his death. The story is silly, the acting is ridiculously over the top and the fight scenes are quite dull. There is not much of interest here, and I’m not sure why Bruce Lee is so celebrated if this is typical of his films and performances. From his first breakdown and scream at the funeral, you know whether you’re either going to enjoy this as a so-bad-it’s-good film or be frustrated and bored. Usually these martial arts films are quite enjoyable simply for the choreography but they’re really not engaging at all. The story also brings it down and it has some pacing issues.

Moana (2016) 6/10
Moana is the daughter of the chief on the island, Motunui, which is being poisoned after the demigod Maui stole the island goddess’ heart and she sets out to return it to the island. I think I enjoy these films as an adult more than I did as a kid. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s colourful, fun and warm with really nice animation and an entertaining though simple and unoriginal story. The voice acting is good all around with nice likable characters. Some of the songs are catchy and others are kind of annoying. I don’t know much about Polynesian culture but it seems to incorporate that nicely and brings it all to life.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. (2017) 5/10
After being burglarized, a woman and her neighbor set out to find the thieves and get retribution. This was hit and miss for me which was disappointing as Macon Blair is always amazing as an actor, but needs to tighten up his writing and directing. Melanie Lynskey didn’t quite work in the lead role, though she seems like she should. Her character is interesting and there’s a lot of observations and behaviour that ring true (like her frustrations at the selfishness and ‘taking’ of others), but they’re never really that insightful and she’s not that convincing. The story isn’t particularly interesting either and it goes off on lots of directions that disrupts the pacing and feels muddy.

Piercing (2018) 5/10
A man leaves his wife and baby to visit a hotel as he goes over his plan to hire a prostitute and murder her. This started off really promising, with a great performance by Christopher Abbott with a really intriguing character. It is super stylish, with great visuals and editing and sound and it gets you really pumped for what’s about to happen; you want this guy to indulge his urges and see this prostitute dead. And then she turns up and the whole thing falls apart. As usual, Mia Wasikowska gives a terrible performance whose accent is constantly slipping and very distracting. She is not convincing whatsoever, and the character is also very boring, and what should’ve been an interesting play on power dynamics and tension falls completely flat.

Abducted in Plain Sight (2017) 6/10
A documentary that looks at the Broberg family and their relationship with their neighbor, Bob Berchtold, and his eventual kidnapping and raping of their 12 year old daughter Jan. This was making the rounds on social media and as I’m interested in any documentary that focuses on these kinds of topics (it’s sickening how often this happens and how often they get away with it). The story is bizarre, and the family’s decisions and actions are sometimes just absolutely insane and it’s really amazing that this chain of events was allowed to happen at all. Though the story is interesting and the documentary is fairly well paced and edited, it’s sometimes frustrating at a real lack of conclusion or point to having this story told other than to inform the public and for their own catharsis.

Downsizing (2017) 5/10
A group of Norwegian scientists discover a procedure to reduce all living organisms to 5 inches to save the environment, but may begin using it to be able to afford a life of luxury. The concept of this film is extremely interesting for a lot of different reasons and the film hints at the ways ‘downsizing’ has environmental, social and political effects but instead follows pretty uninteresting narratives and characters and never takes full advantage of this amazing world its created which makes it doubly disappointing. The first half of the film and its worldbuilding is the more enjoyable part of the film because it builds up all these promises that the second half doesn’t deliver on. The sense of humour was weird as well, particularly the unfunny ‘joke’ of the Asian woman’s accent that is endlessly dragged out.

Backcountry (2014) 6/10
A couple, Alex and Jenn, go camping in the wilderness to visit one of Alex’ favourite camping spots but find themselves lost and being tracked by a bear. The characters and their relationship are built up during the first half and are decently likable and genuine, though Missy Peregrym’s acting is not particularly convincing. It takes a while for the film to ramp up its pacing and tension as a survival film, which makes it feel a little more realistic. When the bear enters the picture, it goes from 0 to 100 real quick. The rest of the film doesn’t quite match the tension and emotion so it ends on a bit of an anti-climax,
SpoilerShow
why does the woman always have to survive? There’s always a camping expert who somehow dies and leaves the camping noob to fend for herself and somehow she’s fine. The bear attack though, was super graphic and difficult to watch and listen to. It actually made me feel really sad.

Before I Wake (2016) 5/10
After losing their child in a drowning accident, a couple adopt a young boy whose dreams can physically manifest. There were some nice things in this film, I liked that the kid was a nice kid who dealt with his ‘power’ in a somewhat realistic way and wasn’t some little douche – though Jacob Tremblay isn’t particularly convincing. Bosworth and Jane are one of the most mismatched couples ever, they were both kind of unlikable but had no chemistry between them so their relationship and their issues didn’t really work,
SpoilerShow
When he disappears, Bosworth’s character doesn’t even seem to care that much.
The idea of the dreams coming to life and the explanation behind some of his nightmares was interesting but there was just something that put me off the film a bit though I’m not entirely sure of what it was.

Ying hung boon sik (1986) 5/10
When his brother becomes a police inspector, a counterfeiter and gangster tries to reform his ways but finds it difficult breaking away from his former gang. This is a pretty cheesy typical 80s action film with its synth soundtrack, bad acting and a super low budget feel which some may find nostalgic or charming but it really shows its age. The story has been done to death but it pays little attention to the characters who are all just stock characters so it's difficult to be invested at all. It's also pretty over the top and it seems like its having fun with itself, particularly with its action scenes, but it was just too boring.

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) 6/10
A zombie apocalypse hits the world at Christmas time, and Anna and her friends fight and sing their way through the undead hordes to find their loved ones. This is a decent watch that feels fresh and alive (pun not intended) but there's nothing to really elevate it to great. It's not really a dark film and it balances the horror and comedy to reach a middleground of a light comedy horror, but it's just never funny enough. The characters are somewhat likable, but they are mostly teenagers and are not much more than generic highschool characters with subplots that never add up to anything so they all ultimately feel pointless - especially when the more likable and interesting ones die. The acting and singing is ok, but there's nothing particularly memorable or special.

Possum (2018) 4/10
With nowhere else to go, a troubled man returns to the town he grew up in to stay with his abusive uncle, carrying with him a bag containing a puppet that haunts him. It was difficult to hear or understand anything the lead was saying due to his mumbling, so there was a bit of dialogue that I missed out on, but this film was very vague, plotless and ultimately shallow. The visuals are beautiful and bleak, everything is dilapidated and washed out and ugly and no place and no person looks welcoming. Everyone is creepy and off-putting with Phillip's trauma preventing his mouth from ever approaching a smile and his uncle tense and unsettling (with a bit of a hammy performance). It offers too little though, you can feel this trauma and unsettling atmosphere trying to tear away at you but it never comes together, especially with its obvious ending, and is quite boring.
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#23

Post by mightysparks » February 11th, 2019, 12:37 am

@Peaceful, I've been interested in Leave No Trace and Eighth Grade, I think I'll bump them up a bit in my watchlist now. I also feel similarly about Bird Box but probably found it a little more boring.

@Lonewolf, agree completely about The House That Jack Built.
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#24

Post by Lonewolf2003 » February 11th, 2019, 12:55 pm

@mighty, could you give the English titles for the Chinese ones also? Makes it easier to recognize which movie your talking about.

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#25

Post by fori » February 11th, 2019, 1:37 pm

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 12:55 pm
@mighty, could you give the English titles for the Chinese ones also? Makes it easier to recognize which movie your talking about.
The first one is Fist of Fury, the second is A Better Tomorrow, two of the most well known Hong Kong movies internationally.

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#26

Post by mightysparks » February 11th, 2019, 2:33 pm

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 12:55 pm
@mighty, could you give the English titles for the Chinese ones also? Makes it easier to recognize which movie your talking about.
I’ll try to remember. I just copy and paste from IMDb so I don’t even know the English titles for most of the films (these two I did, but yea).
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#27

Post by joachimt » February 11th, 2019, 5:19 pm

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 12:55 pm
@mighty, could you give the English titles for the Chinese ones also? Makes it easier to recognize which movie your talking about.
I still think the best way is to include iCM or IMDb links, but apparently I'm a minority here. With over 11,000 checks I can't remember all those titles and remember what I've seen and what not. I've got an iCM account so I don't have to remember.

Including iCM links is not that hard. If you've got a paid account you can simply export your checks. That's what I do every Sunday when this thread opens. If you don't have a paid account, you can use the Linkchump or similar to quickly copy all the urls of the past week from your checks-page. Quick formula in Excel combines titles and links to a clickable title to post here.
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#28

Post by peeptoad » February 11th, 2019, 5:25 pm

mightysparks wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 12:31 am

Backcountry (2014) 6/10
A couple, Alex and Jenn, go camping in the wilderness to visit one of Alex’ favourite camping spots but find themselves lost and being tracked by a bear. The characters and their relationship are built up during the first half and are decently likable and genuine, though Missy Peregrym’s acting is not particularly convincing. It takes a while for the film to ramp up its pacing and tension as a survival film, which makes it feel a little more realistic. When the bear enters the picture, it goes from 0 to 100 real quick. The rest of the film doesn’t quite match the tension and emotion so it ends on a bit of an anti-climax,
SpoilerShow
why does the woman always have to survive? There’s always a camping expert who somehow dies and leaves the camping noob to fend for herself and somehow she’s fine. The bear attack though, was super graphic and difficult to watch and listen to. It actually made me feel really sad.
Backcountry was the first film I watched after I moved to a different apartment 3-1/2 years ago... part of the reason I recall that is because of the
SpoilerShow
bear attack scene, which I agree was very brutal and difficult to watch.
I had no internet connection at the time I saw this and I badly wanted to look up how they filmed that scene, but had to wait until I had my connection set up since I had just moved.That right there is really the only memorable feature of an otherwise really lame endeavor... except that the lameness made it more memorable somehow. When entering the remote wilderness how the heck would someone (who is supposedly a seasoned hiker/camper)
SpoilerShow
not take a map and a cell phone, but remember their girlfriend's engagement ring.
:shrug:

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#29

Post by Lonewolf2003 » February 11th, 2019, 7:38 pm

joachimt wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 5:19 pm
Lonewolf2003 wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 12:55 pm
@mighty, could you give the English titles for the Chinese ones also? Makes it easier to recognize which movie your talking about.
I still think the best way is to include iCM or IMDb links, but apparently I'm a minority here. With over 11,000 checks I can't remember all those titles and remember what I've seen and what not. I've got an iCM account so I don't have to remember.

Including iCM links is not that hard. If you've got a paid account you can simply export your checks. That's what I do every Sunday when this thread opens. If you don't have a paid account, you can use the Linkchump or similar to quickly copy all the urls of the past week from your checks-page. Quick formula in Excel combines titles and links to a clickable title to post here.
Clicking a link, opening that (Tab)window, looking for the aka title, going back again to this thread is way more work for the others than just reading the aka title after the original one.
Yeah, I’m lazy like hell. :D

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#30

Post by joachimt » February 11th, 2019, 8:09 pm

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 7:38 pm
joachimt wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 5:19 pm
Lonewolf2003 wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 12:55 pm
@mighty, could you give the English titles for the Chinese ones also? Makes it easier to recognize which movie your talking about.
I still think the best way is to include iCM or IMDb links, but apparently I'm a minority here. With over 11,000 checks I can't remember all those titles and remember what I've seen and what not. I've got an iCM account so I don't have to remember.

Including iCM links is not that hard. If you've got a paid account you can simply export your checks. That's what I do every Sunday when this thread opens. If you don't have a paid account, you can use the Linkchump or similar to quickly copy all the urls of the past week from your checks-page. Quick formula in Excel combines titles and links to a clickable title to post here.
Clicking a link, opening that (Tab)window, looking for the aka title, going back again to this thread is way more work for the others than just reading the aka title after the original one.
Yeah, I’m lazy like hell. :D
I also include AKA-titles.
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#31

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » February 11th, 2019, 8:58 pm

Didn't have much time for film viewing last week, but three good ones:

Stars In My Crown (Jacques Tourneur, 1950) - 8

The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961) - 7+

시 / Shi / Poetry (Lee Chang-Dong, 2010) - 9

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#32

Post by prodigalgodson » February 11th, 2019, 10:23 pm

Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis, 2017) 4/10 - didn't find this particularly enjoyable or insightful; Binoche is great though

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018) (theater) 9/10 - it's rare to find a film both so efficient and so beautiful; scratches every itch

Dust in the Wind (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1986) (rewatch) 9/10 - a lot of reviews focus on its formal integrity but not many on how emotionally potent a film it is -- to me the formalism reinforced the overwhelming sense of nostalgic loss; really beautiful movie, enjoyed it even more this time around

Daughter of the Nile (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1987) 9/10 - loved the flow of this; wasn't nearly as commercial as I expected, also felt more aloof than Hou's earlier stuff while still maintaining its poignancy

Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018) (theater) 9/10 - my first Kore-eda, I'm extremely impressed; I think it's really hard to do a film on this scale and make it as affecting and impactful as I found this to be; all the performances are fantastic but to me Sakura Ando as the "mom" was the standout

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#33

Post by prodigalgodson » February 11th, 2019, 10:43 pm

Everyone else's:

Holiday (1938) 8/10 - aww, this was one of my favorite screwball comedies at the time I saw it, also loved the soft anti-capitalist leanings
Phantom Thread (2017) 8/10 - gorgeous and odd movie, feels like it should be slight, but the performances and direction give it the feeling of a major film

Network (1976) 5/10 - I'm not a big Lumet fan and prescience aside this didn't do much for me either time I saw it
Spellbound (2002) 4/10 - maybe watched this too much in school, don't have fond memories
Click (2006) 1/10 - really not my cup of tea
Boogie Nights (1997) 5/10 - my least favorite PTA, maybe would've enjoyed it more at the time instead of seeing it 20 years later
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) 8/10 - bomb proto-noir, feels ahead of its time
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) 9/10 - loved the manic vibe of this, but haven't seen it in years
Brazil (1985) 8/10 - due for a rewatch, but made a big impression on me as a kid
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) 6/10 - not bad but nothing to write home about

Written on the Wind (1956) 8/10 - the only prime Sirk aside from Imitation of Life that made a big impression on me

Mor'vran (1931) 7/10 - saw it with a few other Epstein shorts in Berkeley; honestly don't remember it specifically but apparently I liked it pretty well
Machorka-Muff (1963) 7/10 - aww, way below average for the duo imo, though a great jumping-off point
The Beguiled (2017) 6/10 - minor but pretty well-done

My Man Godfrey (1936) 5/10 - didn't make much of an impression beyond annoyance and occasional amusement, but maybe I just wasn't in the mood
A Farewell to Arms (1932) 7/10 - odd movie, wish I'd read the book first, but agree it's aesthetically gorgeous
The Roaring Twenties (1939) 8/10 - took a second viewing to really dig it, Walsh is so underrated and of course the cast is great

L'age d'or (1930) 8/10 - really overdue for a rewatch, but made a big impression in my early days of movie-watching
Lost Horizon (1937) 5/10 - some great shots, but didn't do much for me overall

BlacKkKlansman (2018) 8/10 - enjoyed it a lot, even if it felt somehow more minor than I was expecting
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) 8/10 - odd one even by the Coens' standard, but I really liked it

Stars in My Crown (1950) 6/10 - usually like Tourneur a lot, but aside from his compositions this didn't make a big impression on me
The Innocents (1961) 7/10 - also beautifully filmed, but didn't make a big impression on me

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#34

Post by prodigalgodson » February 11th, 2019, 11:07 pm

Oh and a general question from an ICM neophyte: do folks post personal lists on here? On IMDb there were always "my top 10/50/100" threads but here I only see composite lists, and I usually get more out of individual ones.

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#35

Post by Onderhond » February 11th, 2019, 11:14 pm

Since we're doing a "your favorite movies" poll, I guess you can find most people's personal top lists here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4189

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#36

Post by Lonewolf2003 » February 12th, 2019, 12:48 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 11:07 pm
Oh and a general question from an ICM neophyte: do folks post personal lists on here? On IMDb there were always "my top 10/50/100" threads but here I only see composite lists, and I usually get more out of individual ones.
There is a top viewings of the month thread after the end of every month in which people post their top list of that month.
And we do a lot of polls in which you can also find (links) to individual lists. See the header above for all currently running ones.

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#37

Post by sol » February 12th, 2019, 10:17 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 11:07 pm
Oh and a general question from an ICM neophyte: do folks post personal lists on here? On IMDb there were always "my top 10/50/100" threads but here I only see composite lists, and I usually get more out of individual ones.
Welcome to our forum! Thanks for taking the time to comment on not only your viewings, but everybody else's too. :clap:

It's probably worth noting that this a very different community to the Film General or Classic Film message boards from way back in the day. The big things on the forum are list compiling and competitive movie watching challenges. There are not a lot of users self-promoting their favourites or whatnot. The forum also isn't really a movie discussion forum per se. We certainly talk about the films we like and so on, but the sorts of in-depth discussions and dissections of individual movies that cropped up on the IMDb message boards are pretty much absent here.

I also get a feeling that the age demographic is older/more mature here. Most of us seem to lead busy lives, quite a few are married with children; this is certainly a very different demographic to the IMDb boards, which always seem to be flooded with teenagers and those in their early twenties. I know myself that the long days that I work heavily impact on my ability to contribute to film discussions. I mean, I'd love to be responding to every single person on this thread to help promote film discussion, but after Sunday night, it becomes a little difficult for me. Many others here are in the same boat; barely enough time to comment on their own viewings let alone discuss others.

So yeah, thanks again for taking the time to comment on what everyone else has seen. I hope you continue to do this in future weeks. Most of will read what is written here even if a lot of us are too busy to reply. :)

On a quick note, I have seen none of your own viewings this week. I would love to see Cold War and Shoplifters but they are currently only playing at art house cinemas that are difficult and time consuming to get to.

With your comments on my viewings, Holiday was unfortunately a big disappointment about hearing so much about it for so many years. I am not a Cary Grant fan at the best of times and I frankly found him quite bland here. I guess it does not help that I am quite partial to Bringing Up Baby from the same year either, since Grant and Hepburn are given so much more to work with there. Ultimately though, I just didn't find Holiday funny at all and I guess I didn't find it particularly credible either in terms of how long it took the pair to realise that they are in fact a perfect match.
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#38

Post by GruesomeTwosome » February 12th, 2019, 3:42 pm

Hello sol. Only seen Phantom Thread from your viewings, and it appears my takeaway from it is similar to yours. Certainly not my favorite from PTA (Boogie Nights/Punch Drunk Love/There Will Be Blood are my standouts from him), but I agree that once this one got rolling, the dynamics between Day-Lewis and Krieps were quite fascinating indeed.


My viewings last week:

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018 documentary, Morgan Neville) - 7/10

High Flying Bird (2019, Steven Soderbergh) - 6/10. A somewhat Moneyball-like look at the business side of professional basketball, focusing on a struggling agent dealing with a rookie client, his own tenuous job situation and the status quo of mostly white NBA ownership that wants to maximize their share of the profits in a league that is majority black. As he did with great success with Unsane, Soderbergh again employs the "shot on an iPhone" technique, and it fits well here since young NBA players' images are so often now filtered through social media posts and videos, which is a point of emphasis at times in the film. However, the very "inside baseball", or I should say, "inside basketball" jargon had me quite lost at several points; I just couldn't grab onto this subject matter with much interest, so I didn't come out of this with much to chew on really, and thus an only mildly positive rating.

Contes immoraux / Immoral Tales (1973, Walerian Borowczyk) - 5/10


TV stuff:

True Detective:
S03E05 "If You Have Ghosts" - 7/10
S03E06 "Hunters in the Dark" - 8/10
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#39

Post by OldAle1 » February 12th, 2019, 8:09 pm

Two new films that are both dislikes this week, a real rarity for me. Let's hope it doesn't happen again soon.

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED

24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters (Kevin Burke, 2016)

An OK documentary that starts out describing the long era of the classic, painted movie poster, dips briefly into the decline of the art as the artist was mostly replaced by photoshop, paintings replaces by faces that just tell you who is in the film, with no idea of what it might be - and then, a third of the way through, switches over to the modern industry of the specialty poster designed for collectors, and not (generally) for advertising new films, spearheaded by Mondo from Austin, TX. This does a decent job of getting into the passion that people feel for this current art but it really doesn't do much to get at the history of the medium, and it often feels more like a feature-length ad for these new companies and their artists.

The Mission (Roland Joffe, 1986)

I was in college when this came out, and it didn't have a huge release, or rather didn't stay in theaters long and ended up a flop, so I missed it - I was seeing a fair number of movies then, but wasn't necessarily hip to all of the different theaters around the city. Had it come out 3 years later I would have seen it in the cinema and probably loved it at the time, as big, blunt, beautiful epics were certainly something I craved at that time, more than now. As it is the only real reason I wanted to see it was for Morricone's music, which I already knew, and not surprisingly that's the best part, though even if it were a much greater film it would probably still be the best part; it might be one of my three favorite scores from him, and the other two are pretty firmly in my top 10 all-time. The main, flute solo dominated theme is as beautiful as anything he's done, and the way he integrates multiple themes over the end credits is quite amazing. Alas the rest of the film isn't nearly as good, though Chris Menges' photography is quite beautiful and probably looks ravishing in 35mm, and the main performances by Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro are solid, if not nearly the best that these actors have delivered. The problems are in Joffe's unimaginative direction - beautiful photography, but few if any exciting shots - and a screenplay that skims over the background and the politics of the situations - the Portuguese slave trade still going on in South America in 1750, Spanish complicity, the Catholic Church's complicity, and the role of the Jesuits, presented here as wholly virtuous intercessors on behalf of the negatives. It's an enjoyable enough watch, and there are some strong moments, like a repeated shot of a girl's teary face at two points in the film, with dialogue in the first scene suggesting that the natives would be happier had the Europeans never been "blown' their way. On the whole though, a very mixed bag that could have benefited from a lot more depth and care in detailing the actual history - and a depiction of the monks that was a little more nuanced.

Charlie Chan in Paris (Lewis Seiler/Hamilton MacFadden, 1935)
Charlie Chan in Shanghai (James Triling, 1935)

I've now seen a dozen Chan films - half from this early period, with Warner Oland, and half from the later, cheaper years at Monogram with Sidney Toler or Roland Winters. All of them have had their low-budget and low-comedy virtues but overall the Oland films, with much better production values and generally better actors in the supporting roles have been a bit more fun. They also tend to have more complex plots and don't always have that scene where the detective gathers all the suspects in a room and points out all the facts that nobody but he put together - neither of these do that, exactly. And while one can't get away from the race issue, with Swedish Oland playing the Chinese sleuth, it should also be noted that the Chinese-American Keye Luke plays his son as just an ordinary young American man obsessed with girls and, especially in the second film, wanting to be on the phone all the time.

Paris is probably the better of the two, with a cool and somewhat unusual disguise element, and an underground counterfeiting operation, shades of Dr. Mabuse. It's also got a rather surprising murder early on, and something of a foot chase sequence that Chan himself participates in - not that it's a very high speed chase! On the other hand it feels even less realistic than the second film in that Shanghai actually has occasional dialogue bits in Chinese, delivered by fluent speakers, while I'm not sure there's a single line of French in Paris. And Shanghai has one of the better fight sequences I've seen in a Chan film, albeit a very brief one. Pretty close in quality overall then.

Viva Zapata! (Elia Kazan, 1952)

Kazan has increasingly struck me as something like a more political William Wyler, if that makes any sense - adept at various kinds of stories, always quite professional, never delivering an inferior product - but rarely rising to greatness either. Reliable in other words but not (yet) a favorite for me; and this bio-drama of Emiliano Zapata, the WWI-era Mexican revolutionary, is no exception. I'm not sure why Quinn won an Oscar here - he's good certainly but he's only got a couple of really impactful scenes, as brother Eufemio; Brando, in the lead, makes a stronger impression. This suffers from the major faults typical of these kinds of films - simplifying and sometimes eliding the real events and politics - we are told what the zapatistas are fighting for, but we don't really see it, nor do we really get much of a sense of what the dictator Diaz had done to the country. And few of the characters apart from the brothers register as particularly real or complex human beings. Still, dynamic and never boring, and worth seeing for sure

Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018)

Cinema. I won't say I was every a *huge* Queen fan, but I did have several LPs back in the early 80s, before I went to college and started to get exposed to newer and different music, and I never really stopped liking them; and I certainly belong to that group that believes that Freddie Mercury was among the greatest of all rock and roll singers, and if I had to pick a favorite, he'd be it - nobody I know had a more powerful and versatile voice. But by the time he died in 1991 I had moved on to other things and I don't remember my friends or I making a big deal of it, or paying much attention to the music after that.

So I suppose I was a little surprised that this film has been such a big hit - I suppose it's just another example of me being out of touch with the mainstream culture today. And it looked dull and by-the-numbers, and I had no intention of bothering with it until the Oscar noms came out and, as in many years recently, I had seen every nominee but one. And it came back to a local theater, and I went, fully expecting a fairly dull but at least occasionally entertaining, simplistic, middlebrow biography that would tell me nothing but at least might be better than Vice. Sadly, I was mistaken, for this is not just the worst of this year's crop of nominees, but conceivably the worst of all nominees, and unquestionably the worst film I've seen so far from 2018 by a good margin. Apart from a couple of specific scenes, nothing in this film worked for me and while I rarely use the word "torture" to describe sitting through a film, if the shoe fits... Let's start with the screenplay and dialogue - perhaps if I had bothered to look and found that Anthony McCarten had also been responsible for Darkest Hour - up until now my least favorite Oscar nominee of this decade and similarly banal and turgid - I'd have told myself, "OK OldAle, it's ok to stop doing this yourself, you don't have to keep up with the Joneses and see every nominee anymore, you know a lot of them aren't worth it". Well, maybe next year. Virtually every line of dialogue here sounds like its some adolescent boy's fantasy notion of how people in rock and roll speak, of how songs get written, band names get picked, etc. If I didn't know that Queen were a real band and you'd told me this was a mockumentary, I might have believed you, and liked it more - though it's rarely funny.

The characterizations are perhaps even worse - apart from Freddie and to some extent his early girlfriend and lifelong friend Mary Austin, nobody comes off as anything more than cardboard, and perhaps it's appropriate that none of them apart from Freddie seems to age a day in the 15 year span that the film takes place in. IF the film had been more stylized in general, rather than just in a few specific scenes, IF the dialogue had been deliberately unrealistic or fanciful, IF the photography and design more overtly campy/retro/weird, then I might have bought it as - and some have seen it this way - a film meant to evoke Queen's style at it's most operatic and over the top. And perhaps that's my mistake, but I just didn't see it that way while watching it, it just felt fake, artificial, and - perhaps this is the worst element - negative, even damning in it's portrait of Freddie through the manipulation of events, particularly in the last act. We are to believe watching this that Freddie and Freddie alone is responsible for a breakup and for all the problems Queen had commercially and artistically in the 1980s (the problems the film asserts it had, that is), and that he bravely went to Live Aid knowing he was about to die - all of this, totally made up. Odd for a gay director to make a film that so exaggerates all of the worst stereotypes of bitchy "gay" behavior while giving a pass to just about every other character except for might-as-well-be-mustache-twirling villain Paul.

And the songs. You'd think in a 135-minute film they'd be able to at least play one song complete, you'd think they'd be able to show a recording session montage that would lead up to a full performance of one of their big hits, something to give us a sense of real musicians at work - and of the real genius at work in some of their songs as complete creations of several artists, rather than just as settings for great Mercury vocals. Nope. The closest we come is a concert performance of most of "We Will Rock You" that is probably the best scene in the film, and most of the Live Aid performance which to be fair didn't originally feature the songs in full.

Rami Malek is fine in the title role, I can't really call it a good let alone great performance because the dialogue he has to read, and the scenes he has to play, are so mediocre (at best) and sometimes awful. And Lucy Boynton as Mary is all right, though I kept being distracted by how much she looks like a young Nicole Kidman. But overall, FUCK THIS MOVIE.

The Longest Day (Ken Annakin/Andrew Marton/Bernhard Wicki/Gerd Oswald/Darryl F. Zanuck, 1962)

Not usually a big fan of this kind of war movie - the big all-star cast extravaganza focused on a particular battle that goes back and forth between the various antagonists, generals and enlisted men and civilians, with a clock counting down the hours occasionally. Other prime examples are The Battle of the Bulge, Midway, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and I guess most of the ones I think of come after this, so perhaps this was the one that kickstarted this particular sub-type of war movie. As it turns out, it's one of the better ones, despite the multiplicity of directors and screenwriters and the shooting in several countries and languages. With so many things going on, it's rather a miracle that we end up with a fairly cohesive look at the events of D-Day, even over the film's expansive 3 hours of running time. If there's a standout performance - nobody has a massive amount of screentime here - it's probably Robert Mitchum as Brigadier General Norman Cota, one of the leaders of the landing at Normandy, and he gets the last line.

Qi mou miao ji: Wu fu xing / Winners & Sinners / 5 Lucky Stars (Sammo Hung, 1983)

This first in a long-running, loosely connected series, also co-written by and starring Hung, is one of the more coherent and successful combinations of action and comedy that I've seen from this period; while I nearly always love the more "serious" HK action films, I'm still having trouble getting used too the comedy in a lot of these films. Hung is one of five petty criminals who we see caught in their acts and sent to prison initially, who all get out and decide to live together - along with the beautiful sister of one of the group, surely one of the deciding points for staying together - and go straight, forming a cleaning business. Naturally, they get involved in crime again, though not of their own volition, and Jackie Chan is also along for the ride in a subplot that is only tangential to the main story. This has a really great chase sequence early on, and a couple of good, briefer fight sequences, but it's more comedy than anything and for once it all worked for me, particularly the part where Exhaust Pipe (Richard Ng) thinks he has learned how to make himself invisible. Great cast and solidly put together, even if the Jackie Chan parts seem like they might have been added last minute.

Animated Oscar-winning animaed shorts

The Hole (John Hubley, 1962) - two guys in a mine (Dizzy Gillespie and George Matthews) argue about the possibility of nuclear war, with Gillespie taking the more paranoid view and Matthews standing in for the Dumb American Patriot I guess. Primitive but effective animation and a strong ending, but it's the dialogue and two great voices that are memrable.

Great (Isambard Kingdom Brunel) (Bob Godfrey, 1975) - I'd have guess this had been made a bit earlier if I didn't know - the mixture of pop art, Gilliam-esque cutout animation and music seems to belong more to the end of the 60s to me. But no matter, it's a very entertaining tribute to the title character, one of the great British engineers of the 19th century and a giant of the Industrial Revolution. I suspect were this made today, it would view Brunel a bit more critically/negatively.

Logorama (François Alaux/Hervé de Crécy/Ludovic Houplain, 2009)- the best of the bunch, an amazing collection of thousands of logos and signs and characters, most from large American or multinational companies, serving as the characters, locations, vehicles, etc, in a story about cops (the Michelin men) going after a robber and murderer (Ronald McDonald) in L.A. as disasters start to happen. This is one of the best arguments for the value of CGI in film that I've ever seen and it's magnificent from start to finish; I would actually love to see this concept done at feature length though I'm not sure it could be sustained - and I wonder what the corporations whose identifier are not always being used in a "positive" way would think.

She (Lansing C. Holden/Irving Pichel, 1935) (re-watch)

Third viewing I think. This comes 2 years after the original King Kong and had the same producer, Merian C. Cooper, trying to duplicate that film's monstrous (ha) success. It didn't quite work, but others were trying the same thing, and the 30s as a whole are one of the Golden Ages for big-budget adventure featuring monsters, exotic locales, and lost worlds. This doesn't have the former but plenty of the latter two elements, as protagonists Randolph Scott and Nigel Bruce penetrate the Arctic in search of a forgotten land that may hold the secret of immortality. This is actually the 7th of 8 adaptations of the H. Rider Haggard novel - Haggard was as popular in the silent and early sound years as Stephen King is today - and the best of the three I've seen, with a commanding performance or maybe "presence" is more accurate by Helen Gahagan - later a U.S. Representative from California who ran against Richard Nixon for the Senate and coined the term "tricky Dick" - in her only film role. It's reasonably exciting and the sets and photography are top-notch for the period, but it does have one really big flaw, and sorry as a huge fan to have to say this, but its Randolph Scott, who is terribly dull and inappropriate for this role. Scott was OK in some of the cheaper b-films he did in this period, or in playing sidekick to Cary Grant or Fred Astaire, but he really didn't star to come into his own as an actor until Western Union six years later. Ronald Colman, Errol Flynn or Gary Cooper would all have been better choices, and any of them might have made this a truly memorable piece of escapism.

Red Dust (Victor Fleming, 1932)

I'm not familiar enough with Jean Harlow, or with early Clark Gable, to be able to quite get where this fits into their careers, or to see their developments as actors or stars, but it's pretty obvious even without that knowledge that this is certainly a development in the idea of the sex symbol - applied more to Harlow I suppose but not insignificantly to her male counterpart. This is one of the sexiest pre-Code films I've seen and the implications of adultery, of Gable being a stud who beds any pretty woman that comes along and of the marital troubles between Gene Raymond - who comes to work on Gable's rubber plantation in French Indochina - and wife Mary Astor, are not only much more overt than anything you'd see in Hollywood 3 years later under the Code, but also pretty racy even by 1932 standards, with Harlow naked in the barrel bathing only being the most obvious example. In it's setting and the dialogue and in Harlow's somewhat masculine behavior at times it reminds me a little of Hawks, particularly Only Angels Have Wings, though it's not anywhere near that class. And obviously the treatment of the "natives" is pretty damn racist though probably only par for the 1930s' course. Still lots of fun and the Harlow mystique is starting to work on me.

Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)

I saw Cosmatos' first film a couple of years ago, and while there was a fair bit to admire there in terms of visuals, sounds, the overall feel of the film, that was where it started and ended for me. I can take opaque plots or meaningless plots or non-plots, but if you are making a narrative film, it has to have *something* there - for all the rants people have made against Lynch or Maddin or Ruiz, their films are on some level about something - there's some kind of content there that you can dig for. Maybe there is in Cosmatos' films too, but I'm just not getting it beyond "self-consciously weird and cultish". This film, even more than the first, seems to me an attempt to sell itself purely on the basis of cool - oooh, Nic Cage goin' crazy, Nic Cage bein' profane, Nic Cage with a chainsaw! All the visuals in the world aren't going to be enough for me to get excited by those little bits over an excruciating 2 hours of monotonous pseudo-experimentation coming mostly out of the 60s-80s and yes, Lynch. And the visuals - sorry, lots and lots of red and other colored filters do not alone make something beautiful and memorable. Scraps of obsessions, cults and revenge films, much better when they weren't being done so self-consciously by an "artist".

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (JoelEthan Coen, 2018)

I'm not the biggest Coen brothers fan in the world, but I do at least like most of their films, and I certainly looked forward to what they could do with a western, and an anthology at that - though at the same time knowing that there are precious few great anthology films. I was bummed that this got a Netflix-only release and that the Coens seem to be going in the direction of not caring about the theatrical side anymore, but as the the film itself - well, maybe it was for the best. Westerns are hard enough to get out in the cinema, and I have the feeling this wouldn't have been a huge success. Maybe I'll expand a little on this later, but as it is only the first segment struck me as top-drawer, and that thanks more to the amazing performance of Tim Blake Nelson than anything else. I also liked Tom Waits in the prospector story a fair bit, and I was liking the wagon train segment until it ran on a bit too much. The others, meh. Worth it for me as a western fan but I suspect I'll only re-watch the first segment again, at least anytime soon.

Charlie Chan's Secret (Gordon Wiles, 1936)

Charlie is on a boat that's trying to rescue survivors - or at least salvage the bodies - from a wreck, one of whom might be a man missing for several years, heir to a fortune currently controlled by a family whose matriarch is a friend of the detective's. A mystery...leading to a MURDER, with a medium and several greedy relatives, a big old mansion with secret doors and passages, and attempts on Charlie's life. No Number One son in this particular Chan, and a bit less humor than in most from this period, though some laughs are provided by the fidgety servant Baxter (Herbert Mundin, a terrific character actor who would be better remembered today I suspect if he hadn't died prematurely a couple of years after this film). Later Chan films often featured black actors in the service roles, with Mantan Moreland notably playing a stereotypical frightened, superstitious chauffeur, but while racism is certainly an undeniable aspect of those films, in a film like this one we are reminded that butlers and other "domestics" were often caricatured as flighty, stupid, silly, effeminate, etc, regardless of ethnicity. The good old days I guess.

The Killing Fields (Roland Joffé, 1984)

I liked this bio-pic/war drama about a NYT journalist and his Cambodian assistant/counterpart and friend, and the experiences they went through just before and during the bloody regime of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, in 1973-79, more than I expected to, thanks to a capable and committed cast, most notably Dr. Haing S. Ngor as Dith Pran, who really does give a remarkable performance in his first film role, even allowing for the fact that he had many experiences similar to Pran's to draw on. This is Joffé's first film, and I watched his second, The Mission, last week, and there are notable similarities. Both films show heroes that are maybe a bit too pure for the real worlds they lived in (journalists here, Jesuits there), both are set in the jungles and photographed beautifully by Chris Menges who won Oscars for both, both have distinctive scores (Mike Oldfield here, Ennio Morricone for The Mission), both focus almost entirely on men. But this feels a little more real to me and a little more focused, and gives a bit more of sense of reality to this particular world, which after all was quite a recent one at the time the film was made. And maybe a slight heavy-handedness and hero/villain shorthand was appropriate to this film, at a time when many in the audience really didn't know what the US had been doing in Cambodia - was still doing - and just how awful the Khmer Rouge were.

Hollis Frampton 1966-68

Manual of Arms (1966)
Process Red (1966)
Information (1966)
Heterodyne (1967)
States (1967)
Maxwell's Demon (1968)
Surface Tension (1968)

Been meaning to go through the Criterion Hollis Frampton Odyssey disc for a while, and finally started on it this past weekend. I'd seen Nostalgia, Zorn's Lemma and Lemon before and totally loved the first two, so figured I might as well go through the whole filmography in order. For those who have the set - many of his films that aren't on it are on YouTube in excellent quality; why Criterion didn't do a 2-disk set is beyond me, maybe someone who follows Criterion more knows? Anyway I liked all of these but the standout for me is States which is on on the Odyssey disk. It's 18 minutes of b/w images that might be water, might be paper cutouts, electromagnetic waves, a road at night - all quite abstract - alternating with what seems certainly to be smoke, and blackness. States of matter, perhaps, or states of filmmaking? Dunno, and I find it hard to "review' abstract work like this, all I can really say is that I found it astoundingly beautiful, and I found myself drifting into another "state' myself by the end. Information was almost as good, a 4 minute film, also b/w, of lights or what appear to be lights, mostly zooming towards the viewer, in the midst of blackness. I'm a sucker for balls of light in film, or balls/circles generally - Jordan Belson's work and Marie Menken's Lights come to mind, so this was right up my alley. More of this stuff for next week I think.

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#40

Post by Onderhond » February 13th, 2019, 7:29 am

OldAle1 wrote:
February 12th, 2019, 8:09 pm
24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters (Kevin Burke, 2016)

An OK documentary that starts out describing the long era of the classic, painted movie poster, dips briefly into the decline of the art as the artist was mostly replaced by photoshop, paintings replaces by faces that just tell you who is in the film, with no idea of what it might be - and then, a third of the way through, switches over to the modern industry of the specialty poster designed for collectors, and not (generally) for advertising new films, spearheaded by Mondo from Austin, TX. This does a decent job of getting into the passion that people feel for this current art but it really doesn't do much to get at the history of the medium, and it often feels more like a feature-length ad for these new companies and their artists.
Did they say something about the actual formats of posters? One thing I noticed is that Western (US) posters stick with the 2:3 (300x450 when I cut them) format, but Eastern ones are much closer to 5:7 (300x420). Always wondered why that was.

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