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Which films Did You See Last Week? 05/05/19 - 11/05/19

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sol
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Which films Did You See Last Week? 05/05/19 - 11/05/19

#1

Post by sol » May 12th, 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; somewhat recommended / ★ = did very little for me; not recommended

The Toll Gate (1920). Sheltered by a widow after he saves her son from drowning, a double-crossed outlaw wrestles with whether to turn himself over to the authorities in this silent western starring William S. Hart. While the moralising is heavy-handed, The Toll Gate spins a fairly decent story with a couple of potent ironic turns, plus Hart is very good playing a character whose disposition transforms throughout the course of the movie. The acting in general is solid though, with Anna Q. Nilsson well cast as the widow too even if the romance between them is a tad undernourished and comes across more through title cards than on-screen action. The initially quizzical title also makes more sense by the end as Hart learns the importance of paying for his crimes before trying to move on. Certainly, this is superior to Hart's better known Tumbleweeds. (first viewing, online) ★★

Sons and Lovers (1960). Torn between devotion to his prim and proper mother and disdain for his coal miner father, an aspiring artist constantly sabotages his happiness in this UK drama set during the 1910s. BAFTA nominated Wendy Hiller is superb as the matriarch whose scheming is ambiguous (she disapproves of his girlfriend but she encourages him to study in London, at least on the outset). Heather Sears is also very endearing as his neglected girlfriend - though the film fails to paint her as just as manipulative as Hiller. In fact, lead Dean Stockwell is very dislikeable with his treatment of Sears, plus his constant giving up on his dreams and weird infatuation with his mother. Even with a not-so-likeable protagonist, the film still packs a punch though with its look at child-parent tension and the Oscar winning shadowy cinematography is lovely. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Ugly Ones (1966). Also known as El precio de un hombre (The Price of a Man) and The Bounty Killer, both alternative titles give a better idea of what this Spanish western is about as the plot focuses on an outlaw hiding from a vicious bounty hunter in his hometown where his former friends and acquaintances happily shelter him. Unbeknownst to them though, he is actually just as vile and despicable as he is reputed to be with the film circling around their disillusionment and realisation that he is no longer the man they once knew. Curious as all this might sound, the execution disappoints with pacing issues, interchangeable supporting characters and a slim premise that feels stretched thin at over 1.5 hours. The Morricone style whistling music score from Stelvio Cipriani is great throughout though and Tomas Milian is very decent as the outlaw. (first viewing, online) ★★

Evil Roy Slade (1972). Cast as a notorious but bumbling outlaw, John Astin is energetic here as the title character, eyes gleaming maniacally when holding up banks, cheating at cards and riding tiny ponies. The vast majority of the film though is spent on Astin trying to reform his ways, which is nowhere near as funny to watch (some of the psychiatry scenes are downright excruciating). Astin also has limited chemistry with co-star Pamela Austin; his desire to reform comes from falling madly in love with her but there are no sparks between them and it is unclear what she sees in him. Add in Dick Shawn still acting like LSD from The Producers and this is a bit of a mess. There are certainly some very decent verbal exchanges ("that's been said to me before!") and Astin definitely tries his best, but this is never half as funny as it feels like it should be. (first viewing, online) ★★

Mossafer (1974). Known as The Traveler in some English language countries, this debut feature from Abbas Kiarostami follows a schoolboy who is desperate to travel to Tehran to watch his favourite sports team play. In order to achieve this goal, he lies, steals and cheats his closest friends, family and teachers while experiencing a new world in the city with a particularly effective sequence with just music (voices drowned out) as Kiarostami's camera walks and follows him through the crowds. And yet, this is an uneasy film to watch as Kiarostami uses parent-teacher meetings and so on to paint the kid as a misunderstood individual, yet his reprehensible actions render him rather unlikeable. His passion shines through potently during his quest though, and this is perhaps best thought of as a meditation on the fact that all bad behaviour has its reasons. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

The Nickel Ride (1974). Long affiliated with the mob, a warehouse manager begins to suspect that a contract has been taken on his life in his slow burn drama starring Jason Miller. The Exorcist star is superb if very young for such a jaded character and the second half is pretty solid here once paranoia takes its hold with Miller memorably pulling over his car at night, ready to shoot someone who never turns up. There is also an intense scene in which he discovers dirty footprints in his holiday home. The first half film is far less interesting though with much more talk than action as side characters constantly converse about Miller without him catching wise. The second half is really good though, and Bo Hopkins is excellent throughout as a contemporary cowboy assigned to Miller as a protégé but who might harbour a more sinister true objective. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Long Riders (1980). Opening with an intense bank robbery gone awry, this Walter Hill movie about the rise and fall of Jesse James and his associates gets off to a solid, action-packed start. Alas, the pacing soon slows downs with more time dedicated to the outlaws' romantic flings and them letting off steam in between heists. This would not be too much of a problem if the characters were more interesting, but they are highly interchangeable here and James Keach lacks the charisma needed to play Jesse James. Things pick towards the end with an exciting shootout that includes horses driven through glass windows, but with the most interesting part of the James legend (his assassination) left until the final five minutes and an overload of Peckinpah style slow-mo, this is nowhere near as engaging as something like Sam Fuller's I Shot Jesse James. (first viewing, online) ★

Homework (1989). As some curious kids approach Abbas Kiarostami's camera and ask what he is doing, this documentary gets off to a nicely self-aware start and things get even more interesting as Kiarostami interviews the kids. All of them claim to like homework more than cartoons, all of them understand punishment and are beat up if they do not do their homework, yet none of them can define praise or encouragement, while most of their parents are illiterate. The insight is potent, especially how the kids smile when describing their beatings, yet the film soon becomes repetitive with the kids all stating the same things. Kiarostami keeps things interesting though by constantly cutting away to himself and his cameraman. A couple of adults are also interviewed near the end, but it would have been more powerful to have adults offer a perspective throughout. (first viewing, online) ★★★

White Hunter Black Heart (1990). Obsessed with authenticity, a maverick film director successfully diverts a shoot to Africa, only to become distracted by the local culture and elephant hunting in this unusual moviemaking movie, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. The premise brings to mind Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now woes, but the inspiration was actually John Huston's less infamous troubled shoot of The African Queen. Either way, the script offers interesting ruminations about "rules to art" and the commercial nature of such art, with Eastwood's distractions paralleling his disillusionment with producer interference. The film is an up and down, meandering ride with Eastwood so readily avoiding filming, but it is fascinating to see him play against type as fast-talking and loquacious, and the movie certainly concludes on a strong note. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Offside (2006). Shot during an actual match at a crowded stadium, there is a distinct authenticity to this Jafar Panahi project about a handful of girls who crossdress to sneak into their local men's-only stadium to watch a World Cup qualifying match. All of the actresses deliver well with Sima Mobarak-Shahi a particular standout as the most nervous and least enthusiastic fan. The film ventures beyond the girls to also explore the awkwardness of the soldiers guarding those they catch; while they speak the rhetoric, Panahi presents them as victims of bureaucracy; there is an especially intense bit as one escorts a girl to the male toilets. For all of the film's merits, we never quite under the characters' skins, with most of the girls left as nonentities, not even named. Panahi's presentation of the power of sport to unite and transcend gender laws is appealing though. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Fireworks Wednesday (2006). On her first day cleaning in a new apartment block, a young woman is manipulated by two female residents who are caught in a web of lies and deception in this complex Iranian drama. Taraneh Alidoosti is excellent as the wide-eyed protagonist, pulled between spying for one lady (who believes her husband is having an affair) and pretending to be the niece of the suspected mistress who does not want her home-run beauty salon shut down. With this leading up to Alidoosti's own impending nuptials, director Asghar Farhadi presents an engaging look at relationship anxiety with immersive, walking camerawork that follows the characters around. Some plot details are oddly left hanging (e.g. the salon operator's former husband) but this is generally engaging stuff with loads of mystery as to who is secretly doing what and when. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Burrowers (2008). Believing that a vicious Sioux tribe is behind some settlers disappearing, several men venture into the wilderness and find unexpected and horrific in this nifty western/monster movie blend. While the creatures themselves are perfectly unsettling, it is the deep ironies at hand that make The Burrowers resonate, with both the Sioux and settlers blaming each other for their woes when a common enemy lurks beneath them. The more we learn about the creatures, the better the film also works as a critique of the interference of white settlers. The characters and performance are unfortunately far less interesting, with Doug Hutchinson especially bad as a moustache-twirling villain. There is, however, lots to like in the mood and sense of unease that J.T. Petty skillfully establishes throughout and the creatures scenes are well crafted. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

The Homesman (2014). Lonely and desperate for a purpose in life, an unmarried woman volunteers to drive three insane housewives from the western frontier back to the city in this potent drama directed by and co-starring Tommy Lee Jones. The first quarter of The Homesman does not flow well with Jones using convoluted flashbacks similar to those that plagued his earlier Three Burials; it is also over 35 minutes in before we meet the mad women. The women themselves are fascinating though as the film explores an element of western life rarely depicted on film. The parallels between the insane women and the heroine are interesting too and an unexpected plot turn renders the final 45 minutes even more enticing with Jones getting a real chance to flex his acting muscles as his project questions the very role of women in western mythology. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

REVISIONS

Way Out West (1937). Initially disappointing as one of my first Laurel and Hardy feature films seen, Way Out West impressed me this time round having seen more than ten other features from the comic duo in the time since. The film benefits from a more solid and less skit-like plot that the average L+H feature - though there are still superfluous sequences that run too long as the pair randomly sing and dance. The best asset is the always hilarious James Finlayson as the chief antagonist, though the dialogue is often witty too and the hat eating is great. This certainly isn't the duo's best film like some out there quizzically contend, but it is probably among their five or six best. (second viewing, online) ★★★

Blazing Saddles (1974). Capped off with an amazing final ten minutes that not only breaks but completely shatters the fourth wall, Blazing Saddles ends on a very high note, though it is an uneven ride until then. The best moments come when both Cleavon Little and Harvey Korman are allowed to strut their stuff with the latter's constant indignation very funny, but we also have to endure some terrible jokes involving baked beans, a stupid governor and the list goes on. Mel Brooks does commendably manage to say a few potent things about racism and prejudices with his extreme fish-out-of-water tale, but it is all the audience winking that really brings the film to life. (third viewing, HD-DVD) ★★★

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Drug-induced fantasy and reality blur in this deliciously twisted film that is both nightmarish and incredibly funny. The combination of Johnny Depp's comic antics, Hunter S. Thompson's vibrant dialogue and Gilliam's bizarre visuals is absolutely flawless, with the sets melting and sometimes actors morphing right before our eyes as Depp scurries about like a hyperactive ant while spurting amusing observations. There is also something fascinating in Gilliam's portrait of a reporter as clueless and unsure of what he is doing as the inexperienced GIs in Vietnam; certainly this is one of the more out-there takes on the controversial war. (ninth viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★
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#2

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

Dadetown (Russ Hexter, 1995) 8-/10

三里塚 第二砦の人々 / Narita: Peasants of the Second Fortress (小川紳介/Shinsuke Ogawa, 1971) 8+/10
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三里塚 辺田部落 / Narita: Heta Village / Sanrizuka: Heta buraku (小川紳介/Shinsuke Ogawa, 1973) 8/10
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Yawar Mallku / Blood of the Condor (Jorge Sanjinés, 1969) 6/10

バーバー吉野 / Yoshino's Barber Shop (荻上直子/Naoko Ogigami, 2004) 5+/10

Tokyo Blood (Sogo Ishii/石井岳龍/Gakuryu Ishii, 1993) 6/10

U.S. Go Home / Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge...: US Go Home (Claire Denis, 1994) 5+/10

I Am Not a Witch (Rungano Nyoni, 2017) 7-/10

The Last Detail (Hal Ashby, 1973) 7/10

Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck, 2006) 6/10

Crime Without Passion (Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur & Lee Garmes, 1934) 8/10 (from 10)

Specter of the Rose (Ben Hecht, 1946) (2nd viewing) 8/10

Kakfa (Steven Soderbergh, 1991) (2nd viewing) 7/10
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Mrs. Doubtfire (Chris Columbus, 1993) (2nd viewing) 6-/10

Mrs. Doubtfire - deleted scenes (1993) 7/10


shorts

Hole (Nicky Hamlyn, 1992) 5/10

Matrix (Nicky Hamlyn , 1998) 6/10

10 Min (Ben Rivers & Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2019) 5/10

Brouillard: Passage #14 (Alexandre Larose, 2014) 7+/10

You Don't Bring Me Flowers (Michael Robinson, 2005) 6/10

Panels for the Walls of the World (Stan Vanderbeek, 1967) 8-/10

Oh (Stan Vanderbeek, 1968) 7+/10

Symmetricks (Stan Vanderbeek, 1972) 7/10

8 Flags for 99¢ (Chuck Olin, 1970) 8-/10

Deutsche Panzer (Walter Ruttmann, 1940) 3-/10

Ihre Zeitungen (Harun Farocki, 1968) 5+/10

Rehearsals for Retirement (Philip S. Solomon/Phil Solomon, 2007) 6+/10

Selective Service System (Warren Haack, 1970) 2+/10

Fluxfilm 07: 10 Feet ( George Maciunas, 1966) 6/10

Fluxfilm 08: 1000 Frames (George Maciunas, 1966) 6/10

Fluxfilm 09: Eye Blink (Yoko Ono, 1966) (rewatch)

Fluxfilm 10: Entrance to Exit (George Brecht, 1965) 6/10

Fluxfilm 11: Trace #22 (Robert Watts, 1965) 5/10

Fluxfilm 12: Trace #23 (Robert Watts, 1965) 6+/10

Fluxfilm 13: Trace #24 (Robert Watts, 1965) 6/10

Fluxfilm 14: One (Yoko Ono, 1966) (rewatch)


RiffTrax & MST3k

Sisters of Death (Joe Mazzuca, 1976) 1/10


music videos

Björk: Tabula Rasa (Tobias Gremmler, 2019) 7-/10

The Pineapple Thief: The Final Thing On My Mind (2017) ==


series

Monty Python's Flying Circus - S02E11 - How Not to Be Seen (Ian MacNaughton, 1970) (2nd+ viewing) 8/10

Monty Python's Flying Circus - S02E10 - Scott of the Antarctic (Ian MacNaughton, 1970) (2nd+ viewing) 7/10

Monty Python's Flying Circus - S02E08 - Archaeology Today (Ian MacNaughton, 1970) (2nd+ viewing) 8-/10


didn't finish

Tôkyô no kôrasu / Tokyo Chorus (Yasujirô Ozu, 1931) [11 min]
Lacrau (João Vladimiro, 2013) [10 min]


notable online media

top:
Chimp sound music Experiment/2018
rest:
Mrs. Doubtfire - screen tests
[more Robin Williams stuff]
[some more Jack Nicholson stuff]
William Shatner reveals battle with loneliness | 60 Minutes Australia
Wohltäter Hitler: Besuch bei Auschwitz-Leugnern | Panorama | NDR
Why Our Eyes Are SHUT (Eyes Wide Shut) – Wisecrack Edition
Last Call with Adam Sandler - SNL
Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on May 12th, 2019, 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#3

Post by joachimt » May 12th, 2019, 12:58 pm

Khlib (1929, 1 official list, 31 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's an official short.
Gimme early Russian silents every day.
Crank (2006, 1 official list, 16308 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Thin story, but the pace, camerawork and editing perfectly fit the subject matter, which made it a nice trip.
Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer AKA The People vs. Fritz Bauer (2015, 1 official list, 145 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Interesting story with a strong lead.Could have used some more tension.
Elle (2016, 3 official lists, 2988 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Enough tension to keep it going and Huppert is perfect as the fucked up middle aged woman. I just had a hard time accepting that every person in this was fucked up. That made it a bit too unrealistic.
The Immigrant (2013, 1 official list, 1729 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Well-made drama with a bit too predictable plot.
Behind Green Lights (1946, 1 official list, 75 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's an official check less than 70 minutes.
It stuffs too many characters into one hour which makes it feel too complicated, although that's not really the case.
Hundertwassers Regentag (1971, 1 official list, 20 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's an official short.
?
Love & Friendship (2016, 1 official list, 1444 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Mostly 1.5 hours of standard high society chitchat and gossip, with one naughty member in the bunch.
Phileine zegt sorry AKA Phileine Says Sorry (2003, 1 official list, 710 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Why are so many Dutch movies so much about sex?
Vet hard AKA Too Fat Too Furious (2005, 1 official list, 775 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
A lot better than expected, but I went in with very low expectations. It was amateuristic, but here and there quite funny.
Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991, 2 official lists, 93 checks) 6/10
Watched because it was this week's FotW.
Weird and funny, but also monotonous in pace and tone, which made it too hard to get through.
Love Must Love (1968, 1 official list, 21 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's an official short.
?
Rush Hour 3 (2007, 2 official lists, 11841 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Not funny enough.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014, 1 official list, 5564 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
It has its moments, but overall not funny enough and the action was a bit messy.
The First Wives Club (1996, 1 official list, 3177 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Meh. Some pretty annoying characters here.
Timecop (1994, 1 official list, 3681 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
For a while it manages to bypass the timetravel paradoxes, but in the end it fails. Still enjoyable though, but very dated.
Sex and the City (2008, 1 official list, 22945 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Videoland.
Do I really need to explain why this is a terrible movie? Everyone who has seen it will probably understand.
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#4

Post by sol » May 12th, 2019, 1:31 pm

PdA:

Kafka is easily my favourites of your viewings this week. Awesome sets and photography.

Also seen from you and awarded positive ratings to The Last Detail, Half Nelson and Crime Without Passion. Didn't like Specter of the Rose and found the climax unintentionally hilarious.

joachimt:

I suppose either Elle or The Immigrant would be my favourite viewings of yours this week, though I don't have vivid memories of either outside of their fantastic leading female performances.

I liked Timecop more than you; time travel films are fun and I don't think I've seen many others that travel back to the 1920s stock market crash. First Wives Club and Wax were both okay but not great films for me.

Oh, and let me throw you a question about Sex and the City (since I'm trying to find the least painful way to make it up to Bronze on the All-Time Box Office list): Do you need to have seen many (any?) episodes of the show to get a proper grasp on the movie?
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#5

Post by Onderhond » May 12th, 2019, 1:56 pm

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01. 4.5* - Memories of Matsuko [Kiraware Matsuko no Issho] (2006)
If you care for contrast, this film delivers. An extremely tragic and depressing story is told in the brightest, most colourful and upbeat way possible. Nakashima's style is striking, the characters are happy and chirpy, but the spiral of negativity is inescapable. A strange and unpredictable film, but it is all the better for it.

02. 3.5* - The Wandering Earth [Liu Lang Di Qiu] (2019)
Slightly more action-packed and a bit more stylish compared to its US counterparts, but The Wandering Earth is everything you'd expect from a big budget blockbuster. The action is impressive, the sci-fi setting elaborate and the effects are grand. Plot and characters are second in line, but most importantly they don't get in the way of the fun.

03. 3.5* - Braid (2018)
Mitzi Peirone impresses with her very first feature. While just a little too on the nose and derivative at times, Braid still convinces as a dark, twisted and slightly puzzling little horror/mystery. Well acted, beautifully shot and pleasantly confusing, Braid is a film that gradually reveals its true identity and does so rather boldly. Good stuff.

04. 3.5* - A Home with a View [Gaa Wo Maan Si Ging] (2019)
Yau's latest starts out as a pretty jolly farce, but turns pleasantly dark and grim towards the end. Familiarity with the Chinese sense of humour definitely helps, but the themes are universal enough to appeal to a more international crowd. A Home with a View is another striking Yau film that stops just short of being genius.

05. 3.0* - The Grandmother (1970)
A dark and experimental film that shows the budding talent of David Lynch. While definitely a little rough around the edges, the gritty cinematography, challenging sound design and disturbing animations are sure to appeal to fans of Lynch's later work. The Grandmother didn't get better over time, but it's still an interesting watch.

06. 3.0* - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
Amusing mishmash of genres and elements that don't quite belong together. While the idea is fun, the execution is a little random and the film never really figures out how to blend everything together effectively. There are some funny moments and memorable scenes, but it never really comes together to create a great film.

07. 1.5* - Dumplin' (2019)
A somewhat sheepish and light-hearted drama that deals with body issues. Expect troubled teens, life lessons and an upbeat ending. Oh, and plenty of Dolly Parton. I feel I've seen this type of film too many times before, and without any stand-out performances or witty comedy there just isn't much for me here.

08. 1.5* - Guava Island (2019)
They built a film around Donald Glover, which might be nice if you're a fan of the man, but it's all quite flimsy and pointless. A meagre story, too much focus on the music, some bad acting and an annoying aspect ratio make this a very forgettable affair. On the one hand it's good the film is short, on the other hand it makes it even shallower.

09. 1.5* - Room for Rent (2019)
While the potential for a twisted and nifty little thriller is definitely there, the poor acting and almost amateurish director ruin a lot. There are quite a few uncomfortable scenes, but I never quite figured out whether it was the atmosphere or the poor execution that did it. This just isn't a very good film, unless you're extremely forgiving.

10. 1.5* - Warda (2014)
Egypt with its own take on Paranormal Activities. I've never been a big fan of the series, Warda doesn't fare much better. The horror is rather dull, the tension is mostly absent and the haunting are dire. There are some cultural elements that add something fresh to the formula, but it's simply not enough to make it interesting or stand out.

11. 1.5* - Notes on Blindness (2016)
Interesting peek into the life and mind of a man who turned blind, at least in theory. While I don't mind a stylized doc, there's a cheesiness to the mix of the soft-voiced, semi-poetic voice-overs and the meandering visuals. It's like watching a corny romance, which really couldn't have been the intended effect here. Not very good at all.

12. 1.0* - Aquaman (2018)
Oh my. James Wan transitioned well from horror to action, but superhero material clearly isn't his thing. Aquaman is a red-hot mess, a bunch of over the top nonsense that lacks the self-awareness and humour that could've redeemed it. The designs are atrocious, the characters are ridiculous and the plot is dumb beyond belief. Poor DC. Poor Wan. Poor me.

13. 0.5* - The Nutty Professor (1996)
Shallow and simplistic comedy that's little more than a hacky cut-and-paste job hinging on the performance of Eddie Murphy. Sadly he's not good enough to save the film, so all that's left is 90 minutes of lazy, predictable jokes. It's been a while since I watched a comedy this bad, I guess that's also an accomplishment.

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#6

Post by joachimt » May 12th, 2019, 2:37 pm

sol wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 1:31 pm
Oh, and let me throw you a question about Sex and the City (since I'm trying to find the least painful way to make it up to Bronze on the All-Time Box Office list): Do you need to have seen many (any?) episodes of the show to get a proper grasp on the movie?
No. If you watch the series first (I've seen only a few episodes many years ago) you'll only make it more painful. The movie can be watched standalone.
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#7

Post by Lonewolf2003 » May 12th, 2019, 2:43 pm

My movies this week:

Decision at Sundown (1957): 7.8 - This movie very interesting and successfully plays with tropes of the Western revenge plot, with Randolph Scott as the the rightful protagonist bent on revenge for the loss of his lover. not being so rightful after all. The moral complexity of the characters make this a fine mature Western.
Buchanan Rides Alone (1958): 7.8 - This one distinguishes itself from the rest of the Boetticher-Scott westerns by being more comedic, especially trough Scott's devil may care-attitude, and in the fact that Scott's character basically is a bystander and not the protagonist in the movie's revenge plot.
Ride Lonesome (1959): 7.8
Comanche Station (1960): 7.8 - These Boetticher-Scott movies are all so alike that this one even meta-comments on previous ones,
SpoilerShow
f.e. when the bad guys here comment it would be nice if they had a purpose for the reward they going to rip Scott of, which is a nice contrast to the two bad guys in Ride Lonesome who actually do have a real purpose for the reward they want.
All in all I really liked these movies; The plots are very simple and formulaic. But in closer examination the characters, their relationships and plot reveal to be well-rounded and nuanced. Because the plots are stripped down to the bare essentials, they work like clockwork; there's not a minute or word too much in them. As my ratings reflect I liked them all about equally.
Boven is het stil [It's All So Quiet] (2013): 7.8 - Pretty good Dutch drama which slowly reveals what's going on in its closed of protagonist
Essential Killing (2010): 7.5
Crooklyn (1994): 8.2 - This semi-autobiographical Spike Lee film co-written with his siblings succeeds very well in conveying the joys and hardships of growing up in Brooklyn in the early 70s using a slice-of-life story structure. It’s supported in this by an excellent chosen soundtrack. The cast overall is strong, special mentions have to go to Zelda Harris as the young female protagonist and Alfre Woodard and Delroy Lindo as her respective mother and father.
One-Eyed Jacks (1961): 7.8
Two Rode Together (1961): 7.5 - This late Ford Western about the ransom of longtime Comanche captives and their reintegration into society touches in a very a very cynical way interesting points about identity, prejudices, racism and social acceptance. Unfortunate the examination thereof is intercut with dispensable comic relief and the obligatory romantic subplots. Highlights of the movie are the scenes with Stewart and Widmark bantering, because Stewart, even on autopilot, and Widmark are so far above the rest.
Warlock (1959): 7.5 - The plot is overly familiar, but trough the use of complex grey characters, good guys show their bad sides and vice versa, the movie becomes interesting. Because the motivations of the various characters are evident, there is real tension in the shootout scenes. Unfortunate is the loss of momentum in the middle, when the movie focuses on again some obligatory romantic subplots.
Sandanju no otoko [The Man with a Shotgun] (1961): 7.5 - Although set in contemporary Japan, it has the characteristics, looks and feel of a Western mixed with Japanese crime-action movie ellement. Individual scenes are very well stylish directed, as can be expected from Suzuki. But the way they are structured together is at times poorly done, illogically jumping over time and randomly into scenes. (I expect the result of cutting it to its short runtime and low budget.) Still overall it is a very cool and fresh movie.

@sol: Good reviews of Mossafer and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas of which I agree on both your rating and takes.
@joachim: Yes, you do! I expect a three page essay on why Sex and the City is terrible by Tuesday 18'o clock sharp!
@Onderhond: Memories of Matsuko [Kiraware Matsuko no Issho] (2006) is a colorful good movie indeed, but don't remember much of else of it.

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#8

Post by sol » May 12th, 2019, 3:52 pm

Onderhond:

It's been a while (10+ years), but as a non-fan, I recall The Grandmother being the most tolerable of David Lynch's early shorts. Certainly, I don't recall hating it - as is the case with Six Figures Getting Sick. Seen nothing else of yours, but I do quite like Donald Glover, both as an actor ("Community") and music artist.

joachimt:

Thanks for the tip. Obviously the film is not a high priority for me, but I would like to find some pathway to Bronze on that list without watching every superhero movie of the past 15 years. And between Lonewolf and myself, I bet you never counted on Sex and the City draw the most discussions of your picks this week!

Lonewolf:

Mossafer was quite a find. I was big into Kiarostami around 10-12 years ago and bought whatever I could of his films, including imported VHS versions of Life and Nothing More and Where is the Friend's Home?. It's quite exciting to me how many of his then-rarer films are nowadays readily available online. I should be seeking out some more later this month with the Iranian Challenge - as long as I can keep myself away from watching westerns and Cannes films for a bit.

I have made watching Fear and Loathing a bit of a yearly thing over the past half-decade and at nine viewings, it now holds the joint record for my most watched film. It is just one of those films with so much packed into it that I find something new to appreciate and like each time and Terry Gilliam's camerawork has never been more alive.

Yours:

It's probably been a good 15 years since I saw Two Rode Together purely on account of Stewart's name in the credits and the fact that it happened to be showing on TV. I liked it at the time, but my memories are quite vague and I wonder what I would make of Richard Widmark's performance now. At the time, he was a relatively unknown actor to me, but I have come to really appreciate his sinister turns in noir outings in recent years.

Essential Killing is the only other film that I have seen of yours. As someone who tends to think of Jerzy Skolimowski as one of the more interesting and offbeat directors of the 70s and 80s, it was really cool to see him direct a very solid recent movie. He hasn't lost his touch. His follow-up film 11 Minutes also has its points of interest with a very unconventional narrative structure, but I was less enthusiastic about that one.
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#9

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » May 12th, 2019, 5:11 pm

Not much this week, been too busy with not watching films :(

Adieu au langage / Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014) - 9++ theatrical 3D
For my money, this is the greatest Godard film. I never thought 21st century Godard was completely my cup of tea, but boy I was wrong!

ดอกฟ้าในมือมาร / Mysterious Object at Noon (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2000) - 7+
Everybody has to start somewhere.

Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978) - 7-

50 Feet of String (Leighton Pierce, 1995) - 8+
I think I've found a new favorite avant-dude.

Retrograde Premonition (Leighton Pierce, 2010, sh) - 8

37th & Lex (Leighton Pierce, 2002, sh) - 6+

+ episodes of Gilmore Girls and Our Planet - the episode about forests is great!

@you guys:

@Sol:
Seen none, but especially looking forward to Mossafer and White Hunter Black Heart, and also Offside and Fireworks Wednesday.
Of your rewatches I've seen Fear and Loathing. Pretty good film.

@PdA:
I'm interested in this Ogawa guy.
US Go Home - looking forward. How's Gallo in it?
Half Nelson - seen it
Crime Without Passion - 7 - big leap in rating, huh?
Specter of the Rose - looking forward to it.
Kakfa - sure thing. I have it rated as an 8, but it has been years, and my knowledge and appreciation of Kafka has only grown since, so I'm interested in how I'd like it now... Only a rewatch will tell, but it's not really a priority.
10 Min - looking forward to it, but even to their upcoming feature film.
Brouillard: Passage #14 - have had this on my radar for a while. Thanks for reminding me. Will watch it sometime soon, then!

@joachimt:
Crank - seen it.
Elle - 8++
Love & Friendship - interested

@Onderhond:
The Grandmother - 7
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#10

Post by maxwelldeux » May 12th, 2019, 6:19 pm

No links again this week because my export is still broken... :angry:

The Salesman (2016) - 9/10
Watched because Iran. So good, and probably the best film I've seen in several months. Absolutely baffling, though, how this was not nominated for DtC. I saw it too late to nominate it, but hot diggity damn...

Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (2006) - 4/10
How a Mosquito Operates (1912) - 6/10
Anemic Cinema (1926) - 5/10
Arnulf Rainer (1960) - 2/10
Watched to get bronze on the Brief Encounters list. Which I did. These films did not win me over to the Experimental Mafia.

Fireworks Wednesday (2006) - 7/10
Watched because Iran. I liked it and how it nailed a lot of subtext in interpersonal relationships. Didn't really feel the mystery aspects, so that tag baffles me, but overall this was a really interesting look at Iranian relationships.

Companeros (1970) - 6/10
Watched because Spaghetti Western. Decent, with some nice scenery, but not much more to say.

El Terror de la Frontera (1929) - 5/10
Watched because it was a Western on the UNESCO list. I'd have to read more about this to get anything out of it.

Death Rides a Horse (1967) - 5/10
Watched because Spaghetti Western. All these spaghetti westerns kinda run together for me.

Wolf Creek (2005) - 8/10
Watched because of the Australian challenge and a slow library request. First horror movie in a long while that excited me and pulled me in. Kept me on my toes.

Cria Cuervos (1976) - 6/10
Watched because Cannes. This fell into the unfortunate category of "great film, I just don't really like movies that center on kids."

I Don't Want to Be a Man
(1918) - 8/10
Watched because it was on the 1910s list. Loved this - hilarious look at the life of someone of the opposite gender.

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#11

Post by maxwelldeux » May 12th, 2019, 6:41 pm

@sol:

Interesting that you highlight the mystery on Fireworks Wednesday - I didn't feel it was so much mysterious and would never have thought to classify it that way. What were your thoughts about the scene where she picked up the kid from school? It annoyed the crap out of me, not just because I can't fathom why anyone would send a person they just met to pick up their kid from school, but also I'm not certain why that was necessary for the plot and what it accomplished. Also have seen Blazing Saddles and Fear and Loathing, though it's been a long time - I tend to agree with your take on Saddles, but I really disliked Fear and Loathing when I saw it 15-20 years ago.

@PdA:

Mrs. Doubtfire was a significant part of my childhood. I loved that film and everything Robin Williams brought to the table in it. Of course, the wonderful homage to it in Arrested Development makes it live on in memory.

@joachimt:

Crank was fun - you're right that the producers didn't exactly break the bank on story development, but it's hard to do better for a fast-paced thrill-ride. The second one dosn't hold up, though. I was a big TMNT fan growing up, but that film didn't bring me back. If I remember Timecop, it was a pleasant enough bit of entertainment, but certainly not something you'd want to fire up the ol' brain for.

@Onderhond:

Only seen The Nutty Professor of yours, and it's been a while, but I'm not going to disagree with anything you said...

@viktor:

Not that you had a super high rating for Watership Down, but what did you like about it? It's a pretty hard dislike from me... the animation was fine, but the story just annoyed me.

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#12

Post by maxwelldeux » May 12th, 2019, 6:52 pm

joachimt wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 2:37 pm
sol wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 1:31 pm
Oh, and let me throw you a question about Sex and the City (since I'm trying to find the least painful way to make it up to Bronze on the All-Time Box Office list): Do you need to have seen many (any?) episodes of the show to get a proper grasp on the movie?
No. If you watch the series first (I've seen only a few episodes many years ago) you'll only make it more painful. The movie can be watched standalone.
OK. Confession time:

I've seen the series. In its entirety. Sequentially. Twice. And I own it.

And I'll partially disagree about the movie - I think the series really helps understand the characters, as they don't really develop them in the movie. That said, the "benefit" of watching the series to understand the movie does not outweigh the pain of watching said series. It doesn't hold up as a series, and the movie just feels sad. (PS: Sex and the City 2 makes the first movie look like a damned masterpiece of cinematic history).

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#13

Post by peeptoad » May 12th, 2019, 7:40 pm

Hope everyone had a good week.
I'll try to add in links later, but here are mine (most watched for the western challenge )-
Django Kill...If You Live, Shoot! (1967) 7
Cannibal! The Musical (1993) 5
Ravenous (1999) 8*
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) 7
Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991) 6 fotw
Kyûketsuki hantâ D (1985) Vampire Hunter D 8 always wanted to see this and finally got around to it.
Welcome to Blood City (1977) 6
Caltiki il mostro immortale (1959) Caltiki, the Immortal Monster 5 watched for Bava!
Get Mean (1975) 7
Rango (2011) 7* was over someone's house and they put it on, plus... western
The Magnificent Seven (1960) 8

ratings for what I've seen of other's :cheers:

sol-
The Burrowers (2008) 5
Blazing Saddles (1974) 7
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) 7

PdA-
The Last Detail (Hal Ashby, 1973) 8

joachimt-
Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991) 6
Timecop (1994) 4

Onderhond-
The Grandmother (1970) 8

viktor-
Watership Down (1978) 8

Maxwell-
Wolf Creek (2005) 6
Cria Cuervos (1976) 9

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#14

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » May 12th, 2019, 10:21 pm

maxwelldeux wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 6:41 pm

@viktor:

Not that you had a super high rating for Watership Down, but what did you like about it? It's a pretty hard dislike from me... the animation was fine, but the story just annoyed me.
There's a lot to like in it. First of all, I think the animation is superb. The use of water colors is very beautiful and sets a rather impressionistic tone, but the more hallucinogenic sequences is the best part of the film, reminded me of Georges Schwizgebel's animation. The story is very basic and mythical. Many parallels to the Exodus of the Bible. You don't like your Bible? ;) I agree in the story being too didactic in its handling of environmental issues.
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#15

Post by maxwelldeux » May 12th, 2019, 11:31 pm

viktor-vaudevillain wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 10:21 pm
maxwelldeux wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 6:41 pm

@viktor:

Not that you had a super high rating for Watership Down, but what did you like about it? It's a pretty hard dislike from me... the animation was fine, but the story just annoyed me.
There's a lot to like in it. First of all, I think the animation is superb. The use of water colors is very beautiful and sets a rather impressionistic tone, but the more hallucinogenic sequences is the best part of the film, reminded me of Georges Schwizgebel's animation. The story is very basic and mythical. Many parallels to the Exodus of the Bible. You don't like your Bible? ;) I agree in the story being too didactic in its handling of environmental issues.
Oh... the bible. I see you've found one of my key issues. 17 years of Catholic schools does not make for a pro-religious person, at least in my case. :P

But thanks for your perspective!

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#16

Post by sol » May 13th, 2019, 9:59 am

viktor:

White Hunter Black Heart is a pretty interesting film about filmmaking beyond the staging of shots and shooting process with an uncharacteristically fast-talking and chatty Clint Eastwood going on a self-discovering journey while he is meant to be filming. Perhaps not as dark and psychological as it could be, but a definite curio in Clint's directing filmography.

I have Offside in my top 15% of viewings this year. Unexpectedly intense and interesting given how slim the premise sounds on paper.

Yours:

I didn't find 50 Feet of String all that interesting. Watership Down is indeed great though - one of the most nightmarish animated films that I have ever seen, though my preference lies with The Plague Dogs of the two Martin Rosen films.

maxwell:

I thought that there was a dual mystery at hand in Fireworks Wednesday with uncertainty as to whether both the rich husband and wife are having their own separate affairs. Certainly, there is a lot of distrust and tension in their marriage and as a narrative, I thought it was great how the cleaning lady was thrown into the midst of this. The film was somewhat symbolic for me with all of the cleaning lady's uncertainties and anxieties with her own upcoming marriage surfacing. The picking up the son scene added to this agenda for me. I think it gave the cleaning lady cause to pause and consider how she would treat her own children once was married. And the neglect of the mother (bad parenting) is again another anxiety that we see come to life. I don't know if you have seen the Russian Loveless, but I got a similar vibe from Fireworks as being a film about a couple whose marital tensions lead to them placing their child last rather than first.

If it helps at all, it took me a good three, maybe four viewings to really warm to Fear & Loathing. The film is a mess, and it is chaotic and episodic, but very deliberately so; it is a lot about the mood and the culture at the time with apathy towards the Vietnam War, disillusionment with government etc. I don't get high, but the film is a favourite among my friends who do, so maybe try rewatching this one when stoned next time rather than Half Baked.

Yours:

Obviously Cria Cuervos is my favourite viewing of yours this week since you keep insisting on using my top 100 for movie recommendations. It's my highest ranked film that I have only seen once; I'm a bit apprehensive to watch it since the viewing conditions that I first saw it in were ideal and hard to replicate: sleep deprived and watched late at night, the film's seamless blur of childhood dreams, reality and fantasies was really something else.

Huh, I'm surprised that The Salesman isn't in the 21st Century list. I have similar feelings about the spaghetti westerns that I have seen (re: kinda run together for me). Oh, and Wolf Creek is good, but the director's follow-up (Rogue) is great.

peeps:

Most of the reviews and comments that I read about The Burrowers were pretty middling but the film really worked for me. I found a distinct Predator vibe when watching it, what with that film's look at human beings picking off one another in military conflict when an extraterrestrial enemy lurks among them. The ecology angle interested me too and I liked the creature design (almost humanoid, but with limbs and bones at all different angles).

Yours:

Welcome to Blood City is easily my favourite of your viewings this week. A Kafkaesque precursor to the modern day virtual reality film with some cool similarities to Westworld. Need to rewatch this one at some point. It's been nearly ten years.

Does IMDb still classify Vampire Hunter D as a western? If so, this month may be the month to finally see it.

Seen also The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Rango, Wax and Ravenous from you - in that order of preference.
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#17

Post by peeptoad » May 13th, 2019, 12:51 pm

sol wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:59 am

Does IMDb still classify Vampire Hunter D as a western? If so, this month may be the month to finally see it.
Nope. Looks like if it did have a western tag it was removed (and I actually can't argue with that)... I just happened to watch it recently since I picked up a used DVD that was cheap. Meant to see it about 25 years or so ago when I had also watched Demon City, Boah, and some of the other horror/fantasy-themed Japanimations. It just fell off the radar for some reason and I'm glad I finally saw it; it's very easily in the top 5-10 anime I've seen so far.

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#18

Post by sol » May 13th, 2019, 2:07 pm

peeptoad wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 12:51 pm
sol wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:59 am

Does IMDb still classify Vampire Hunter D as a western? If so, this month may be the month to finally see it.
Nope. Looks like if it did have a western tag it was removed (and I actually can't argue with that)... I just happened to watch it recently since I picked up a used DVD that was cheap. Meant to see it about 25 years or so ago when I had also watched Demon City, Boah, and some of the other horror/fantasy-themed Japanimations. It just fell off the radar for some reason and I'm glad I finally saw it; it's very easily in the top 5-10 anime I've seen so far.
Maybe it was the sequel? One of them had around ten genres listed next to it on IMDb at some point... and was on the iCM (IMDb) Western List. :shrug:
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#19

Post by peeptoad » May 13th, 2019, 2:46 pm

sol wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 2:07 pm
peeptoad wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 12:51 pm
sol wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:59 am

Does IMDb still classify Vampire Hunter D as a western? If so, this month may be the month to finally see it.
Nope. Looks like if it did have a western tag it was removed (and I actually can't argue with that)... I just happened to watch it recently since I picked up a used DVD that was cheap. Meant to see it about 25 years or so ago when I had also watched Demon City, Boah, and some of the other horror/fantasy-themed Japanimations. It just fell off the radar for some reason and I'm glad I finally saw it; it's very easily in the top 5-10 anime I've seen so far.
Maybe it was the sequel? One of them had around ten genres listed next to it on IMDb at some point... and was on the iCM (IMDb) Western List. :shrug:
Hm. I don't see one there either... though it does list 5 genres for the sequel. Bloodlust I also want to see, so if that's on the ICM western list I'd watch it this month. :shrug:

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#20

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » May 13th, 2019, 3:16 pm

sol wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:59 am
viktor:

White Hunter Black Heart is a pretty interesting film about filmmaking beyond the staging of shots and shooting process with an uncharacteristically fast-talking and chatty Clint Eastwood going on a self-discovering journey while he is meant to be filming. Perhaps not as dark and psychological as it could be, but a definite curio in Clint's directing filmography.

I have Offside in my top 15% of viewings this year. Unexpectedly intense and interesting given how slim the premise sounds on paper.

Yours:

I didn't find 50 Feet of String all that interesting. Watership Down is indeed great though - one of the most nightmarish animated films that I have ever seen, though my preference lies with The Plague Dogs of the two Martin Rosen films.
Hey there.

"but a definite curio in Clint's directing filmography" - exactly what I've heard, which is what interests me. I have many friends who are big Clint-worshippers, and a lot of critics whose opinions I value a lot are in that boat as well. And the thing is my apreciation of Clint isn't that high, but I think 'White Hunter Black Heart' is the film to get me on the ship.

50 Feet of String - your loss ;)

I'm looking forward to The Plague Dogs as well!
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#21

Post by OldAle1 » May 13th, 2019, 6:15 pm

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED

Seed (John M. Stahl, 1931)

Cinema, 35mm. I've known about this film for years - back in days of yore, on the IMDb Classics Board, it was legendary - probably as legendary, the one Bette Davis film it was impossible to see, and directed by John Stahl, one of those great "women's picture" directors that we don't have anymore. I can't say I''m an ENORMOUS Davis fan, or Stahl fan for that matter, but the film has always stuck in my mind as something to see, should I ever get the chance. Never on video, and apparently not on TV either, at least not since the days of home video recording - doesn''t appear to be online either, and mine is only the 6th check at ICM. So would it be worth the anticipation, and the hour drive each way on the first really nice weekend day of spring when all the normal people are outside on their bikes, feet or blades?

The answer is definitely YES. While allowances have to be made - if you're the type of person willing to make them, and I am - for the early sound recording and a few creaky scenes; I think without being able to put a music track in synch with dialogue, it was sometimes hard to tell whether a scene was running on too long, and many films from this period have this issue, they can get a little static at times - I think this holds up remarkably well, in certain respects as a proto-feminist work but in all counts as a fine example of a pretty realistic sort of melodrama, in which a man is torn between the glamour of his past and potentially future love, with the prospect of fame and fortune as a novelist going alongside, and his humdrum wife and five kids in suburbia. It's a pre-code film so it's a bit more explicit about the affair, but it's the latter scenes, 10 years after the dramatic events involving this love triangle, that really have staying power, and this is where Davis, in her second film shot when she was 22, comes into the story as one of the children, now grown up. The lead guy, John Boles, is sort of an American Ronald Colman type, but not all that distinctive if perfectly fine here, so it's up to the female leads, Genevieve Tobin as Mildred the exciting glamour girl, and especially Lois Wilson as the steadfast wife and mother, to give this it's lift. Tobin manages to exude both intellectual and sexual attraction, not all that common, but Wilson in the less glamorous role is really the one who pulled me in, someone I can really imagine giving up the battle, but perhaps winning the war through her ability to role with the punches, and this is where the feminist angle comes in, as Wilson shows it's possible to be both the traditional woman and something else in the end, without sacrificing her soul.

Masterpiece? Maybe; it hit the right spot for me. In any case, well worth the trouble and I'd certainly hope that anyone with an interest in American cinema of this period check it out - when it shows up at a theater near you.

The Misfits (John Huston, 1961)

TCM. I've always been ambivalent about whether or not modern-day westerns are "westerns" or not, and that ambivalence continues with this film, best known for containing the last performances by Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, though I'd have to say they are both equalled or outclassed in the acting department here by Eli Wallach and Montgomery Clift. And Thelma Ritter as Monroe's best friend ain't no slouch either though her role is a bit smaller and she mostly disappears in the second half. Simple story - Monroe is in Reno to get divorced from hubby Kevin McCarthy (seen only for a few seconds) and accidentally falls in with Gable and Wallach, both of whom of course are smitten with her, shacks up with the former and later meets Clift, and we have something of a love quadrangle complicated by Monroe's ambivalent attitude about living out under western stars, and especially about the mustang roundup that the three men are engaging in during the last act. This was a solid film overall, with a nice production all around, nice music by Alex North and crisp b/w photography by Russell Metty, but the screenplay by Monroe's hubby Arthur Miller verges on pretentiousness quite a few times - in particular there are just a few bits of dialogue that seem really out of place for these characters, from what we know of them.The Misfits (John Huston, 1961)

Shazdeh Ehtejab / Prince Ehtejab (Bahman Farmanara, 1974)

Prince Ehtejab, aka Khosrow, one of the last heirs of the Qajar dynasty that had ruled Iran for 150 years, sits dying of tuberculosis in a lonely mansion, remembering his own sins and malice in the treatment of his now-dead wife among others, and also reflecting on the brutality of his ancestors, specifically a grandfather who shot his own mother to death and walled up hundreds of people alive. This is based on a novel - which got it's author into trouble with the Shah, interesting as the film at least is a criticism of the earlier regime, not the Pahlavi "dynasty" specifically; I guess somebody in authority recognized that criticism of one family of despots could easily be seen as criticism of despots in general. This is a beautifully shot film and I found it engaging enough in it's temporal movements, but it's also one of those films that feels rather opaque to me, without any great knowledge of the period (roughly 1850-1925) covered or the real-life people they are at least loosely based on. Really good quality print, OK white hardsubs.

Postchi / The Postman (Dariush Mehrjui, 1972)

Mehrjui's fourth feature seems to me like it could form the third part in a loose thematic trilogy - the first two parts being 1969's Gaav and 1970's Aghaye Halou. All three are rather misanthropic works dealing with delusion and fantasy, all taking rather harsh looks at different elements of society. While the first and greatest of these deals with a madman obsessed with his cow and portrays the venality and ignorance of small village life, and the second shows a man under the delusion that life will be better in Tehran, and that he'll meet the woman of his dreams, Postchi offers the titular character as a lottery-obsessed man willing to risk his job and any kind of honor or self-worth he might have for money. The setting in this case isn't so clear - it seems to take place on the outskirts of some town, but mostly in a rural environment or in the environs of the crumbling mansion owned by the town's aging and dissolute lord played by Ezzatolah Entezami, who has key roles in all three of these Mehrjui films. There are also themes of masculinity and impotence relating to our protagonist, the lord and the doctor/veterinarian who seems to treat all the animals and people in the area (illegally as it turns out) and in the end it just feels like everyone in this world is scheming for his or her self, with little regard to society at large or other people. There is also an increasing element of absurdity that manifests and in the end it's clear that all is breaking down, life can't go on like this. I liked it, but overall probably not as much as most of the other 10 films I've seen from the director. Decent copy and subs.

Gharibeh Va Meh / Stranger and the Fog (Bahram Beizai, 1976)

I'm going to start out by mentioning that this was one of the worst-looking copies of any film that I've ever seen, and if it didn't entice me immediately in the first few minutes - and if I weren't an increasingly huge fan of the director, maybe second only to Kiarostami in his generation at this point in my estimation, I wouldn't have persevered. Low resolution nth-generation VHS rip with THREE watermarks onscreen at all times, the lower-left one obscuring half of the subs that aren't already obscured by being below the bottom of the chopped-off frame. I spent a good deal of time looking for something better but no such luck though it apparently HAD been on MUBI and perhaps looked like this -

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as opposed to what I watched:

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And yet... I got enough out of even this wretched viewing experience to believe this is probably a masterpiece. Its an enigmatic, mystical-mythical story of a young man who is found unconscious in a boat off the shore of a small fishing village; he knows little more than his name, Ayat, and that men are after him. The villagers take him in but are suspicious, and make him undergo trials of strength and drinking against the biggest, strongest man there, after which he is generally accepted, though some of the relatives of the woman he falls in love with, a young widow named Rana with an infant, remain troubled. Eventually his doom seems likely to come for him, and the village is involved whether they like it or not. There's a really good IMDb review which gets into more detail, I'd recommend that if you're interested and don't care too much about spoilers that your read that - or if you trust me, really love Beizai already, and/or have a high tolerance for crappy quality video copies, just check it out. For me there was enough here in Beizai's mise en scene, the ciematography which at moments shows it's brilliance despite the dimness of the transfer, the editing and sound - it pulled me into this strange world, even if there was clearly some stuff going on that I couldn't understand. The IMDb reviewer mentions the influences of world cinema, Tarkovsky and Kurosawa in particular; I'd also perhaps add Orson Welles. Not only does a climactic battle sequence offer some of the grit and muck and chaos of the Battle of Shrewsbury from Chimes at Midnight, but there's a secondary character who looks and sounds an awful lot like a 35-40 year old Welles.

Dar Ghorbat / In der Fremde / Far From Home (Sohrab Shaheed Saless, 1975)

Saless' first film as an exile, a German-Iranian co-production about Turkish laborers getting by in some large German city, in particular Hussein, a short dumpy guy who wants to meet a girl, but suffers from a lack of fluency in the language and also from the racism towards the gastarbeiter in general, though the racism angle in the film is relatively subdued. This is a fairly dreary film suffused with melancholy and near-hopelessness, with Hussein engaged in performing the same repetitive task at his job over and over, coming back to the same apartment he shares with several others, walking up the several flights of stairs and saying "Guten Abend" to the old lady who peers at him from the door of a lower floor apartment as he trudges upward. It's very well done though I guess I don't see the greatness here that propelled this into a DTC slot; Saless' previous two Iranian features are both more interesting IMO, though all three films are quite "minimalist" and rather dreary. But certainly as an early example of the Diaspora film in regards to Iran, it has some importance.

Silverado (Lawrence Kasdan, 1985) (re-watch)

Probably 3rd viewing, maybe 4th, first on BD - I never saw it in the cinema, watching in for the first time in the early 90s I think with my girlfriend at the time who loved it, on VHS (pan and scan? probably). She wasn't really a western aficionado so I've always unconsciously thought of it as "western for people who don't like westerns" but truth be told I've liked it more myself each time I've seen it, though I still cannot deny the many problems that I've seen with every viewing. It starts out pretty great, with solid if unremarkable introductions for our four main characters - brothers and sometime outlaws Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner, left-for-dead man-with-a-past Kevin Kline, and gunslinger and would-be-farmer Danny Glover, headed west to join his family. The first half of the film in which we meet these guys and the story gradually coalesces around them as a group, along with various other secondary characters including John Cleese as the no-nonsense sheriff in a town along the way to the eponymous place where they're all headed, and Brian Dennehy as an ebullient but violent man with a connection to Kline, is pretty great stuff, but eventually we have too many characters and too many little subplots that end up getting short shrift in the second half. Why the hell is Rosanna Arquette here for example? She's got three VERY brief scenes scattered through the film, and it seems clear to me that she was supposed to be a character of some significance, but most of her part must have gotten left on the editing floor. The film as a whole feels frustratingly incomplete, a would-be epic shoehorned into an extended shoot-em-up ending that really doesn't satisfy as drama even if the action is pretty decent.

BUT...the amazing cast and Kasdan's fine direction of them: Costner in particular who I've never been that partial to but who has a lot of energy in this role, and I should also mention Linda Hunt as the bar owner in Silverado who Kline goes to work for...the wonderful score by Bruce Broughton...the landscape photography in the early parts in particular...all of it does add up in the end to a worthwhile experience, despite all my caveats. I swear I've seen comments, maybe by Kasdan, that there was a longer version out there that might see the light of day sometime, or maybe it's just my imagination - can't find it now. Maybe I should watch the BD extras.

Shatranje bad / The Chess Game of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)

A fascinating film that might have seemed even more fascinating and perhaps greater had I been able to see a better copy (this one was watchable but certainly a bit fuzzy, with decent subs) and had I not seen several films over the past week involving the dissolute downfalls of wealthy families. In this instance, a young woman is (seemingly) heir to a fortune and a large house, but is confined to a wheelchair and has to watch helplessly as her stepfather runs roughshod over her heritage and perhaps plans to do away with her - unless she can do something about it first, with the help of her brother and a young servant (Shohreh Aghdashloo in her film debut). The film has multiple themes and parts that interact in interesting ways - there's the class disparity involving the young woman, who wants to marry into wealth but is considered beneath the family - and we cut periodically to scenes of other servants, completely unrelated to the main action, washing clothes in the courtyard and commenting on the immoral or criminal behaviors of their lords and ladies; there''s a Poe-esque horror-ghost story element; and there's a general (fairly typical in Iranian cinema of this period) commentary on the typical greed and corruption of people in general, as characters promise to help each other time and again and renege to get their own hands on the fortune. Not surprisingly things don't end well. Despite the fairly typical narrative elements and a certain dullness at times this ended up fairly worthwhile for a number of cinematic reasons - a quite impressive modernist, dissonant score by Sheyda Gharachedaghi, one of the very few female composers in this cinema at the time, and some pretty terrific camerawork including a great 3-minute gliding track following a murder near the finish. And a last shot that offers a very different perspective on things, and somewhat changes the meaning of the whole piece.

Dayereh mina / The Cycle (Dariush Mehrjui, 1977)

Continuing another trend for me - the successful DTC-nominated Iranian films this year that are far, far less impressive than my own nominatinions :verymad: Oh well, it's not as if I found this outright bad, just perhaps, like the film above, it's a little too reminiscent of too much else I've seen of late, and for me not nearly as impressive or original as the director's previous three films. Here Mehrjui gives us an old man - his regular star Ezzatolah Entezami - and his son Saeed Kangarani (very impressive in a rather nuanced asshole role) desperate for money, who end up going to what seems to be a black market blood donation operation. The old man is too sick to give blood, and the young man takes him to a hospital and tries to get treatment for him while both more or less live just outside by the gates, and the son increasingly gets involved in various scams and cons to make more money, while the father.... well, you can probably see where this is going, as I did, and that was my main problem, it all seemed too obvious and predictable. Perhaps I was focusing too much on the narrative, and those who loved this found something else there to hold onto that I missed? In any case from my perspective this was just OK, but as I generally have really liked or loved Mehrjui I imagine I'll return to it one day. One interesting bit of trivia - both lead actors, though separated by 30 years, died within a few weeks of each other last fall.

Baghé sanngui / The Garden of Stones (Parviz Kimiavi, 1976)

A rather strange experimental mix of documentary, essay and perhaps some fiction looking at the work of Darvish Khan Esfandiarpoor, a poor farmer and a deaf-mute who is constructing a garden of stones - stones for the most part hung from withered trees. Darvish Khan has had a dream compelling him to do this, and like other religious mystics, outsider artists or holy fools he works at it because he believes his life or the world depends on it, and his family can only try to continue on with life somehow; when their eldest son is drafted, they try to get an exception, and when that doesn't work, eventually they start to actively try to solicit religious pilgrims to what is now a "shrine", many of whom leave gifts of livestock or money that the poor family definitely needs. A fascinating work that certainly treads the line between genres, with much of it clearly staged for the cameras and certain formal techniques, like spinning characters around as they speak with the garden whirling by them in the background, that one doesn't find in conventional docs. Kimiavi has had an interest in art - often religiously oriented - and outsiders and hermits since the beginning of his career in the 60s and this is in some ways typical though it also feels like a bridge in some ways between some of the slightly more straightforward nonfiction work and experimental narratives like Mogholha. I happen to live in a part of the US where little religious shrines built by self-taught artists are surprisingly common, and it's long been something of interest to me also, so I found this pretty wonderful. There's a sequel from 2004 which I'll watch later this month.

Karevanha / Caravans (James Fargo, 1978)

As far as I can tell this is the only true US - Iran co-production, filmed in Iran with an international cast - Mexican-American Anthony Quinn, Canadian Michael Sarrazin, American s Jennifer O'Neill and Joseph Cotten, British Christopher Lee, and Iranian Behrouz Vossoughi headline, while a great many of the smaller roles go to Iranians, and a significant Iranian presence among the crew though the top names are mostly American including the director, producer and the screenwriters who adapted James Michener's 1963 novel. The book is apparently wildly different - set in Afghanistan right after WWII and involving Nazis, while this is set contemporaneously in the made-up country "Zadestan' - and Michener sued the production as a misrepresentation of his work. Maybe he should have sued it just for being terrible? I will get the good things out of the way first - Douglas Slocombe's color cinemascope photography is great and the production design as a whole is lovely, though perhaps I'm overrating it too given all the horrible prints of lower-budget Iranian films I've watched over the past week - it's just good to see these landscapes and villages look so vibrant. Mike Batt's music is pretty nice also, and Vossoughi in his first English-language role (he left Iran after the revolution and has lived in the US ever since) is impressive in yet another role completely different from what I've seen from him, as the traditionalist Colonel who wants his wife (O'Neill) back after she's left him for the charismatic nomad leader (Quinn, who else?). But on the negative...Sarrazin is just horrible, though he's in an untenable role playing a central character with no background and no motivation, sent into the back country by the American government to find O'Neill, a Senator's daughter, sent without knowing a word of Farsi (or whatever language it's supposed to be - remember it's a made-up country) or seemingly knowing anything whatsoever about the region, culture or people. All by himself. And he's the essence of the ugly American in the first half of the film, not that this makes the country he's travelling in look much better - this is Iran (sorrry, Zadestan) as dumb elderly American Republicans see it, savage and violent and anti-western. Oh and there's a really noxious stereotyped Evil Gay Seducer character thrown in for good measure. When the caravan, and Quinn and O'Neill are found, it turns into a modern-day Grass, with the focus being on this nomadic tribe surviving a long journey and getting involved in weapons-running, and this at least has a bit of drama and adventure, though not much - too much of the film is just people sitting around talking and looking at maps. Oh and there's a horrible pop song thrown in for no good reason except that I guess it was mandatory for films about pretty American women going off to find themselves in the 70s. The real problem overall is that we never get much of a sense of these characters, particularly Sarrazin or O'Neill, and it all feels quite ridiculous and phony and Hollywood.

It's kind of amazing in retrospect that THIS is the one big American-Iranian production - produced just as Revolution was in the air, though there is no real sign of anything like it here, apart from the tribesmen being mad at the (faceless) government for taking their land, and that honestly feels like something closer to an American western. A film that manages to make both America and Iran look bad - it's hard to see that this would have helped make future co-productions more likely, even if the politics had not turned out the way they did.

Sooteh-Delan / Desiderium (Ali Hatami, 1978)

Hatami (father of actress Leila) was probably the most important director active before the Revolution from whom I hadn't seen anything; he was well-established by this point, having started out making mostly comedies and musicals - alas like most filmmakers from this period little of his work is readily available, and most in horrible condition; I'd have liked to start out with his 1970 Hasan Kachal but... no subs. Its a musical so perhaps I'll go back to it anyway but I decided to star with this, one of his better-known works, this in the tragicomic (mostly tragic) romance mode, and starring the ubiquitous Behrez Vossoughi apparently doing a weird kind of Jerry Lewis parody

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that eventually settles into the sad portrait of a physically deformed and somewhat slow man who falls in love with a prostitute (Shohreh Aghdashloo). Jamshid Mashayekhi is his sympathetic older brother who runs a shop that rents out table settings for elaborate funerals, weddings and other big events, and who has given up his own chance of love and happiness to care for his brother. This had decent subs but the visual quality was mediocre at best, and the run time is 20 minutes less than stated on IMDb, and while it was easy to follow and didn't have clear narrative breaks or anything, it did feel like something might have been missing. A solid work with great acting all around, especially from the remarkable chameleon-like Vossoughi, but I didn't feel the greatness that apparently many Iranians feel. Once again I hope a better copy comes along some day - the use of color in particular looks like it might be much better than what I could discern here - but I sure won't be betting on it.

60s & 70s Iranian shorts

a) Tappe-haye Marlik / The Hills of Marlik (Ebrahim Golestan, 1963) (re-watch)

There were quite a few significant short films in the 1960s-70s that showcase Iranian art and art history or archaeology - it was one of the Shah's passions, meant to give himself props as the leader of a country with a vast and wonderful history, and it seems to be a passion for many Iranian filmmakers apart from the influence of the government. Golestan made at least one other short about traditional Iranian art, and his second and last feature, Asrar ganj dareheye jenni / The Ghost Valley's Treasure Mysteries, is a savage attack on the Shah's appropriation of older Iranian culture. This is my favorite of the three shorts from the director I've managed to see so far, and it's now available on YT with (apparently) quite good subs - I first watched it a couple of times years ago unsubbed, and it impressed me enough even then. It's just a little piece about the archaeological excavations in the eponymous region, relatively straightforward for the most part with a narrator explaining how important this history and culture is even to the modern world today, but it's beautifully done and there's a wonderful bit in the middle with various figures of animals and arrows flying around over a black screen that somehow takes me back into that ancient world, and conjures up a universe of myth in a way that precious few films manage.

b) Ars Poetica (Khosrow Sinai, 1967)
c) Sardi Ahan / Cold Iron (Khosrow Sinai, 1969)
These two Sinai films are quite impressive b/w works, the first an experimental piece involving birds and rusty metal sculptures that seems to tell a story of the battle between art, metal, the immovable manufactured world, and birds, flight and freedom. Both the footage of the birds and the strange, semi-anthropomorphic sculptures

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are quite beautiful. The second is a similarly beautifully shot and edited portrait of weightlifters - I was much less entranced, because I'm not nearly as interested in looking at wordless beefcake images, and it went on a bit for what it was. But I will definitely be looking for more Sinai work

d) Aan ke khial baft, aan ke amal kard / The One Who Dreamt, the One Who Acted (Morteza Momayyez, 1971)
Somewhat trippy little primitive color animation about a lazy figure who dreams of things, and another who goes out and does them, duh just like the title. Nice but not much to say here.

e) Zang-e Tafrih / The Breaktime (Abbas Kiarostami, 1972)
early Kiarostami short that very typically shows a little boy getting in trouble, and then going off by himself, leaving the school, walking along a highway. Not the most enthralling of his early works but his mastery of editing and sound is certainly present - the little ball game is beautifully done.

Pale Rider (Clint Eastwood, 1985) (re-watch)

Nothing like a nice piece of hickory. Third or fourth viewing. Clint's third (discounting the more modern Bronco Billy and Honkytonk Man for the moment) western as director-star is not only heavily influenced by Shane, but also by his own first directorial outing on horseback, High Plains Drifter. And probably several dozen other films as well - get off the "Shane rip-off/remake" meme guys, there are tons and tons of stranger-rides-into-town-takes-care-of-family-rides-away-again westerns, and not a couple that feature a quasi-mystical element. But it's really HPD that deserves most of the comparisons, the most obvious being that this is a kindler-gentler-PG-rated-Reagan-era revision, with the Hell-sent drifter in the earlier film being replaced by a Preacher, so-called, in this one. It's far from Clint's best hour and IMO is unquestionably the weakest of the westerns he directed - even if you include the pseudo examples I listed above, mostly because it is so damn generic, and it brings little new or interesting to the table. But it's certainly competently mounted, has a good secondary cast (Michael Moriarty, why didn't he become a bigger star? I just love him in this) and excellent production values on a small budget, with Bruce Surtees' photography showing off to best effect in the early-morning showdown at the finale, and Lennie Niehaus serving up a nice, low key score. And for those who claim Eastwood as a director has little or no style, I'd suggest a careful watch of this - certainly the visuals are vintage and typical Clint, with nearly all natural lighting, very dark interiors, smooth and unfussy editing and camera movement. Low key music as well. And the basic narrative third act is something we see over and over in his films, the main character walking away or dying when his own story is done, life going on a little less excitingly for the rest, and often more than a little mournfully, often a strong note of pessimism, life not really working out the way it's supposed to; often true not only in his westerns but in films like The Bridges of Madison County and J. Edgar as well.

A note on the (US) BD: while the image and sound are fine - it's quite dark at times but as I mentioned, that's probably Clint's intention - this disc doesn't even have a fucking chapter index, it just starts right up and there's no menu to go to and access the film where you want to. Goddamn cheap stupid bastards.

Baraye azadi / For Freedom (Hossein Torabi, 1979)

Interesting but quite problematic documentary shot during the middle of the Revolution, in 1978-9, with the climax and end being the vote for the Islamic Republic in March, 1979. Interesting - as a historical record, and for us movie fans it's particularly notable that the film begins with the aftermath of the Cinema Rex fire in August, 1978, a deliberate act of arson which killed over 400 patrons. Both the Pahlavi government and the nascent revolutionary groups blamed each other, but - though at a couple of points this film tries minimally to show something of the anti-revolutionary side - it's quite clear from the get-go who the filmmakers believe are responsible. We also see early on shots of pre-Revolutionary painted movie posters, often with seductive half-naked women, and then scenes where they've been torn down. And interesting to see the massive crowds - there's one pan around a square that seems to hold hundreds of thousands, or maybe a million - and to get a sense of the fervor of that time. Problematic though in that too much of the almost two hour run time is devoted to similar scenes of crowds chanting "down with the Shah" and similar things - it gets tedious and the filmmaking is nothing special to enliven it; and problematic in that so little is given over to the criticism, even at the time, of the kinds of changes Khomeini and his government might bring. We get a few very brief interviews with people (nearly all of them women, not surprisingly) who are unsure whether they want to vote for the new kind of government, but we never get to hear their criticisms nor for that matter do we ever get to hear many details either about what bad things the Shah did to bring this on, or how Khomeini's vision is better, or what it is. Ultimately it's just propaganda, interesting and useful to look at from a historical perspective, but clearly one-sided and attempting to be persuasive rather than informative. I'd recommend Tahmineh Milani's 1999 Do zan / Two Women for a fictionalized alternate take on these events that has a lot more relevance to me and I'd imagine to almost anybody who isn't a religious reactionary.

Jostoju / The Search (Amir Naderi, 1980)

After complaining about the propaganda elements of 1979's Baraye azadi yesterday, I find myself going into raptures about another documentary - one with a message to be sure, but far from the simple politics of the previous film. Naderi's film does, at first, seem to lean to the side of the revolutionaries, but as we go along we see that the message is mostly one of humanism, of a reaction against war and violence and suffering. Was it all worth it might be one idea we're left with in the end. While the Torabi film is about the revolution itself, the crowds of fervent young radicals and the adulation of the Ayatollah and the promise of "freedom", this is about the suffering, the loss, and in particular the grieving families searching for the missing, the presumed dead. Much of the film is taken up with brief interviews with the widows, the orphans, the brother and sister-less, and just as much time in this poetic catalog of grief focuses on the gloom and depression of the empty streets, the filled graveyards, the mortuaries where matching names, bodies, and next of kin is too large a job for the people tasked to handle it, and finally vast quarries and gravel pits where some of the bodies have apparently been dumped. There's a note of fear and conspiracy throughout the film as well - are we being told the truth by the government? - and distrust of the webs of bureaucracy; and there are also shots of how life goes on and how people in downtown Tehran seem oblivious to all the suffering and destruction, only months removed from it. Death and war don't affect everyone equally, that's certainly another message here. Dusky b/w cinematography seems to emphasize the bleakness and barrenness of this new world, and I wonder how the new government saw this - though it doesn't ever come across as a specific criticism of the Islamic Republic, it also doesn't seem to place all the blame on the Shah either. This is the best film I've seen for this challenge so far and the first I'm absolutely comfortable with calling a masterpiece; the copy I watched was decent, with highly readable German subs - those not at least semi-fluent in the language can still get plenty out of it I think.

Hamshahri / Fellow Citizen (Abbas Kiarostami, 1983)

48 minutes of a traffic cop patiently explaining the rules to drivers, or arguing with them, being insulted by them, insinuating sometimes that they are lying, all shot in close-ups from similar camera angles, may seem a bit much but Kiarostami keeps the interest going, and I found myself oscillating between sympathy and irritation towards our protagonist. Anyone who has ever manned a customer service desk, worked retail or in a restaurant or bar, or just dealt with an irritated general public for a spell can probably identify with a lot that we see here, the stories these folks tell, the pleadings and sometimes fairly obvious lies. My favorite moments were probably the interactions with the mechanic, who kept adding to his story as he tried to develop a good enough excuse to be allowed to park illegally, and the moment where the traffic cop is essentially accusing a woman (to someone else, not to her face) of lying about her kids being sick. And near the end he's accused of playing favorites, and letting people pass who he likes. All very real to me and on the whole pretty involving, though I have to say I'm a bit at a loss as to why Rosenbaum praises this so much that it lands on his list. Excellent quality YT copy with fine subs.

Hajji Washington (Ali Hatami, 1983)

Like the previous Hatami film I watched a couple of days ago this suffers from poor video quality - he was known for his use of color and his sets, and we only get a modest idea of those qualities in this scratchy, somewhat washed-out copy. Subs are OK - there's a bit of it in English and that's not subbed, and the accents are a little tough. Basically a fanciful imagining of the first Iranian ambassador to the USA and his adventures in Washington in 1889, during the presidencies of Grover Cleveland (played here by American beefcake actor Richard Harrison, well after his heyday as a peplum star but before the cycle of endless ninja titles that make up most of his 80s output) and Benjamin Harrison. Hajji (Ezzatolah Entezami) basically sits around the palace he has built for his official residence harassing his assistant, trying to push pistachios on Americans, dreaming up wild spy schemes, and pining for his daughter back in Iran, until one day he finds an Indian (a Native American that is) and decides to let him take refuge in the mansion, from which point this already somewhat weird movie gets weirder. This is clearly meant primarily as a comedy, with an underlying theme that Persians don't get no respect (constantly comparing themselves to the Ottomans who seem to be taken more seriously) but much of the humor was lost on me though I might say "amusing" works as an adjective; but overall I liked it, for Entezami's rather florid and crazy performance and for the general weirdness of the thing.

Khane-ye Ankaboot / The House of Spider (Alireza Davoudnejad, 1983)

Five men arrive at a house in the country. It is clear immediately that they are fugitives or at least want to stay away from prying eyes; it turns out they are involved in the revolution, though it also becomes clear soon that they don't all have the exact same approach, and in fact we soon learn that they are for the most part counter-revolutionaries who have been involved in the American effort to resolve the hostage crisis. Soon it's apparent that their de facto leader (Jamshid Mashayekhi) will brook no argument, as the rest of the men become increasingly uneasy, talking of escaping out of the country or going back to their families, and eventually the paranoia, backbiting and resentment take their toll on the group's morale and violence comes to the fore. An interesting concept, well-acted (with the great Ezzatolah Entezami also present, as the most pathetic of the conspirators), this ultimately fails for sheer dullness - nothing but talk, and direction not imaginative enough to create real juice - and the overt propaganda elements, such as when one of the younger men says something like "you know, maybe I was wrong to object to my wife ad daughter when they decided to take the chador". It's obvious by the midpoint of the film that we (the presumed Iranian pro-Islamic audience) are supposed to see these men as weak and misguided at best, and to cheer on their destruction. Terrible low-res YT copy didn't help matters, though at least the subs were good, if out of synch for a few minutes near the beginning. First check on icm.

Saman (Ahmad Nikazur, 1986)

Ahmad works as the CFO at a military boot manufacturer in a provincial town during the Iran-Iraq war; he has a wife and a young son, and when the son starts to develop vision and coordination problems, he has to choose between attention to his career (and his patriotic duty of course) and his family. Also there's a scheming asshole who was forced out of the company and is trying to get revenge by having a lackey who still works there sabotage the equipment. Not necessarily an uninteresting set-up but completely undone by a combination of terrible acting, cheap production, and a thick layer of propganda and misogyny - the way the husband treats the wife is not exactly brutal, but regularly demeaning and dismissive; when she worries that Ahmed cares more about his factory, he tells he she's being "delusional". And it all wraps up in the most simplistic and unbelievable fashion possible, with plenty of "if God wills it" and similar statements along the way so we know that this is the way good Muslims should behave and that they'll be rewarded if they tow the line. Probably the worst Iranian film I've seen yet; it's good sometimes to see these obscure films that aren't in any way "canonical", that represent something closer to the "average' film you might see in another time or culture - but sometimes they remain obscure with good reason. First check on icm.

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#22

Post by maxwelldeux » May 13th, 2019, 7:44 pm

sol wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:59 am
maxwell:

I thought that there was a dual mystery at hand in Fireworks Wednesday with uncertainty as to whether both the rich husband and wife are having their own separate affairs. Certainly, there is a lot of distrust and tension in their marriage and as a narrative, I thought it was great how the cleaning lady was thrown into the midst of this. The film was somewhat symbolic for me with all of the cleaning lady's uncertainties and anxieties with her own upcoming marriage surfacing. The picking up the son scene added to this agenda for me. I think it gave the cleaning lady cause to pause and consider how she would treat her own children once was married. And the neglect of the mother (bad parenting) is again another anxiety that we see come to life. I don't know if you have seen the Russian Loveless, but I got a similar vibe from Fireworks as being a film about a couple whose marital tensions lead to them placing their child last rather than first.

If it helps at all, it took me a good three, maybe four viewings to really warm to Fear & Loathing. The film is a mess, and it is chaotic and episodic, but very deliberately so; it is a lot about the mood and the culture at the time with apathy towards the Vietnam War, disillusionment with government etc. I don't get high, but the film is a favourite among my friends who do, so maybe try rewatching this one when stoned next time rather than Half Baked.

Yours:

Obviously Cria Cuervos is my favourite viewing of yours this week since you keep insisting on using my top 100 for movie recommendations. It's my highest ranked film that I have only seen once; I'm a bit apprehensive to watch it since the viewing conditions that I first saw it in were ideal and hard to replicate: sleep deprived and watched late at night, the film's seamless blur of childhood dreams, reality and fantasies was really something else.

Huh, I'm surprised that The Salesman isn't in the 21st Century list. I have similar feelings about the spaghetti westerns that I have seen (re: kinda run together for me). Oh, and Wolf Creek is good, but the director's follow-up (Rogue) is great.
You're kinda selling me on the picking up the kid scene - my initial reaction was that it was unnecessarily cruel, and the same effect on the plot could have been accomplished with a different scene. But I get your point about how that was critical to advance how the housecleaner might want to be mindful of how she treats her children - like you said, the whole film was a metaphor for her wedding anxiety.

I'll put Fear and Loathing on the list to rewatch one of these days - like you, I had a lot of stoner friends who LOVED that movie. And I just glanced at your favorites list, and there are a couple more in the top 100 I might get to this month...

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#23

Post by GruesomeTwosome » May 13th, 2019, 8:17 pm

Hi sol. I've seen none of your first-time viewings, though The Homesman has been on my watchlist for a while and it looks appealing.


Quiet week for me in the film-watching department, was just too busy with work and life stuff, and some catching up on Game of Thrones. Only saw these two:

Taketori monogatari / Princess from the Moon (1987, Kon Ichikawa) - 7/10. Watched this on TCM. This is a version of the old Japanese folklore story, Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, which was later adapted again in a much better film, Takahata's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Ichikawa's film is quite a strange mix, at once very Japanese but then seeming to be inspired at times by 1970s/80s Spielberg (Close Encounters, E.T.) in its sci-fi leanings. It's overlong but it has its charms, plus hey, Toshiro Mifune is here.

Long Shot (2019, Jonathan Levine) theatrical - 4/10. I had zero interest in this one myself, but with it being Mother's Day weekend and my mom wanting to be taken out to the movies, this was her pick. Very standard modern rom-com/typical Seth Rogen raunchy comedy combo. Charlize Theron...what are ya doing in this tripe.
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#24

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » May 13th, 2019, 9:53 pm

viktor-vaudevillain wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 5:11 pm
Not much this week, been too busy with not watching films :(

Adieu au langage / Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014) - 9++ theatrical 3D
For my money, this is the greatest Godard film. I never thought 21st century Godard was completely my cup of tea, but boy I was wrong!

ดอกฟ้าในมือมาร / Mysterious Object at Noon (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2000) - 7+
Everybody has to start somewhere.

Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978) - 7-

50 Feet of String (Leighton Pierce, 1995) - 8+
I think I've found a new favorite avant-dude.

Retrograde Premonition (Leighton Pierce, 2010, sh) - 8

37th & Lex (Leighton Pierce, 2002, sh) - 6+

+ episodes of Gilmore Girls and Our Planet - the episode about forests is great!

@PdA:
I'm interested in this Ogawa guy.
US Go Home - looking forward. How's Gallo in it?
Half Nelson - seen it
Crime Without Passion - 7 - big leap in rating, huh?
Specter of the Rose - looking forward to it.
Kakfa - sure thing. I have it rated as an 8, but it has been years, and my knowledge and appreciation of Kafka has only grown since, so I'm interested in how I'd like it now... Only a rewatch will tell, but it's not really a priority.
10 Min - looking forward to it, but even to their upcoming feature film.
Brouillard: Passage #14 - have had this on my radar for a while. Thanks for reminding me. Will watch it sometime soon, then!
Adieu au langage 3D - Yeah, no.

Watership Down - I admired the animation too, as opposed to many other viewers. Loved the film on the whole, and it even ranked as a prime horror film for me.

Leighton Pierce - Sure. :thumbsup: Reveals new dimensions through focal change, low shutter speed and other basic camera tricks. Delving right into the (relatively) long form work '50 Feet of String' I found to be a good starting point myself, as it might make clearer where he is coming from and makes one understand his short pieces better, which otherwise perhaps would just seem like nice little sketches easy to shrug off. Leighton Pierce also makes me think of Bill Viola, although this has probably more to do with me having discovered them at around the same time, and at a pivotal time at that, when I cast off my absolute agnosticism and became a spiritual being, not that I mean to make it sound too dramatic, ALTHOUGH IT TOTALLY WAS!!! Anyway, Pierce creates a soundscape with seemingly diegetic sounds that compulsively pulls you into the film's reality. Viola's sound design is much more low key and boring, they very well might just be the actual sounds that were recorded along with the images. With Viola you see nature unfold, but ever so concisely framed and brilliantly tweaked to make you see something fresh in it and make you appreciate natural phenomena that by now have become commonplace and banal to you, and you can see that you are a part of this very same natural phenomena, blah, blah, blah, Zen, blah, blah,... Well, it's not fair to speak of them in terms of differences, really, they both do their own thing, but their work, at least for me, is made in a very similar spirit.

---

Well, the Ogawa guy... The Sanrizuka series is the thing for me, a powerful document of a remarkable struggle, most filmmaking concerns are secondary at best there. Of course it's hardly a coincidence that the events took place in the late 60's and continued into the 70's, coinciding with the global student movement, the environmental movement, etc., giving the farmers concrete support in numbers as well as spiritual support in their opposing of the government, without this context this futile fight against an obviously overpowering adversary I reckon would have been a one-off or pretty much a matter of weeks at best, instead of what you have here, a resolute fight spanning over years with incredibly convicted peasants at the helm and similarly convicted supports fighting for more intellectual ideals.
Too bad that only three of the seven films have English subtitles so far (and two of those are VHS rips with in some scenes even utterly unreadable subtitles, as you can probably surmise based on my screenshots). My choice of screenshots have been a bit monotonous (farmers telling off cops, because this is just so very satisfying) but each film actually highlights new and different aspects and considerations to the same struggle (as it develops over time). And 'Narita: Peasants of the Second Fortress' probably is especially amazing - certainly most captivating - showing the struggle at its violent height (or maybe only at one of the violent heights), the battles, as well as its preparations are akin to WW battles or perhaps French Revolution battles, but between farmers (+ supporters) and cops or other government people, and the camera is right in there, and to a degree that you very much feel that the film crew itself are participants, and needless to say they are on the side of the farmers, throwing themselves into danger along with them, going beyond mere documenting. And in general it's clear that the filmmakers live with the farmers and have their full trust.

US Go Home - looking forward. How's Gallo in it? - Gallo. He's the man.

Crime Without Passion - Yeah, my perspective has changed quite a bit since my first viewing. I actually wondered a bit what I saw in the film in the first place, aside from the obviously sharp intellect behind the writing and its for its time and American context pretty unorthodox and inventive filmmaking/storytelling. I guess I watched it a bit too extremely through a lens bent to my own interests, like for example I was drawn in by Nietzschean notions a lot, the lawyer cheating the system through his superior intelligence within the legal bounds of the law and all that. And obviously there is a lot of 'Crime and Punishment' in its story, much food for thought in there. But now I don't see much admirable about succeeding in a game that isn't worth playing, nor does Lee Gentry even succeed eventually. He is consumed by the rules of law, his superiority lies pretty much only in knowing the law, it's his Bible, naturally that's his downfall after flying high by the same means. I've also come to figure that the furies (opening sequence) in all their demonic demeanour of being human evil incarnate represent nothing less banal than the three arms of government. Anyway, I certainly didn't do a 180 on the film, I don't think it adheres to false paradigms, what the film does say I'm in accordance with, let's say. Like, the furies, through there mere existence, also propagate a guilty conscience when overstepping the law, which is what gets Lee Gentry eventually, weighting on his mind. Not to mention that Lee Gentry is super-needy, just wanting to be loved, but persistently hiding that need behind the power that he effectively but unhappily exerts.
But I'm still totally standing behind Ben Hecht & Co. 'The Scoundrel' is the one I would really recommend nowadays, though. Also a shout-out to 'Angels Over Broadway' which I have come to appreciate even a little bit more on a rewatch. Sentimental? I guess. But its honest idealism and tiniest faith in humanity towers over the typical sappy Hollywood pap. To communists I also highly recommend 'Soak the Rich'. ;)

Kafka - Should still hold up, I guess. I've been wanting to rewatch it for years but Soderbergh has been talking about a "radical re-edit" of the film since forever ( https://theplaylist.net/steven-soderber ... -20170707/ ), so that was part of the reason why I had been holding out. Soderbergh seems to be haunted a bit by the relatively poor reception the film received at the time, but speculating about his motivations for working on it aside, I can certainly see a recut (and using previously unused footage) making for a radically different film in this case, and potentially for an even more interesting one. I'm quite fine with the film as it is, I don't need an "improved" 'Kafka', but I'd be interested in seeing an alternative 'Kafka'. I never actually read Kafka (except maybe for that bug story) but the film seems like an excellent amalgamation of Kafka's biography and his writing, and overall very much in the spirit of the man himself.
And I'll say this, I don't care much for performances these days, but Jeremy Irons' befuddled characters I always find a treat to watch. So many of his characters may be befuddled, but each one has their befuddlement built around a unique core and his performances are all different in ever so subtle ways. I guess Irons to me is for befuddlement what Jack Nicholson is for anger to the Nerdwriter ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK7TiA9qmuU ), the greatness of depth in which one particular "emotion" is conveyed by the same actor over a body of work, as opposed to the range of emotions an actor can portray.
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#26

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » May 16th, 2019, 10:22 am

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:53 pm

Leighton Pierce - Sure. :thumbsup: Reveals new dimensions through focal change, low shutter speed and other basic camera tricks. Delving right into the (relatively) long form work '50 Feet of String' I found to be a good starting point myself, as it might make clearer where he is coming from and makes one understand his short pieces better, which otherwise perhaps would just seem like nice little sketches easy to shrug off. Leighton Pierce also makes me think of Bill Viola, although this has probably more to do with me having discovered them at around the same time, and at a pivotal time at that, when I cast off my absolute agnosticism and became a spiritual being, not that I mean to make it sound too dramatic, ALTHOUGH IT TOTALLY WAS!!! Anyway, Pierce creates a soundscape with seemingly diegetic sounds that compulsively pulls you into the film's reality. Viola's sound design is much more low key and boring, they very well might just be the actual sounds that were recorded along with the images. With Viola you see nature unfold, but ever so concisely framed and brilliantly tweaked to make you see something fresh in it and make you appreciate natural phenomena that by now have become commonplace and banal to you, and you can see that you are a part of this very same natural phenomena, blah, blah, blah, Zen, blah, blah,... Well, it's not fair to speak of them in terms of differences, really, they both do their own thing, but their work, at least for me, is made in a very similar spirit.

---

Well, the Ogawa guy... The Sanrizuka series is the thing for me, a powerful document of a remarkable struggle, most filmmaking concerns are secondary at best there. Of course it's hardly a coincidence that the events took place in the late 60's and continued into the 70's, coinciding with the global student movement, the environmental movement, etc., giving the farmers concrete support in numbers as well as spiritual support in their opposing of the government, without this context this futile fight against an obviously overpowering adversary I reckon would have been a one-off or pretty much a matter of weeks at best, instead of what you have here, a resolute fight spanning over years with incredibly convicted peasants at the helm and similarly convicted supports fighting for more intellectual ideals.
Too bad that only three of the seven films have English subtitles so far (and two of those are VHS rips with in some scenes even utterly unreadable subtitles, as you can probably surmise based on my screenshots). My choice of screenshots have been a bit monotonous (farmers telling off cops, because this is just so very satisfying) but each film actually highlights new and different aspects and considerations to the same struggle (as it develops over time). And 'Narita: Peasants of the Second Fortress' probably is especially amazing - certainly most captivating - showing the struggle at its violent height (or maybe only at one of the violent heights), the battles, as well as its preparations are akin to WW battles or perhaps French Revolution battles, but between farmers (+ supporters) and cops or other government people, and the camera is right in there, and to a degree that you very much feel that the film crew itself are participants, and needless to say they are on the side of the farmers, throwing themselves into danger along with them, going beyond mere documenting. And in general it's clear that the filmmakers live with the farmers and have their full trust.

US Go Home - looking forward. How's Gallo in it? - Gallo. He's the man.

Crime Without Passion - Yeah, my perspective has changed quite a bit since my first viewing. I actually wondered a bit what I saw in the film in the first place, aside from the obviously sharp intellect behind the writing and its for its time and American context pretty unorthodox and inventive filmmaking/storytelling. I guess I watched it a bit too extremely through a lens bent to my own interests, like for example I was drawn in by Nietzschean notions a lot, the lawyer cheating the system through his superior intelligence within the legal bounds of the law and all that. And obviously there is a lot of 'Crime and Punishment' in its story, much food for thought in there. But now I don't see much admirable about succeeding in a game that isn't worth playing, nor does Lee Gentry even succeed eventually. He is consumed by the rules of law, his superiority lies pretty much only in knowing the law, it's his Bible, naturally that's his downfall after flying high by the same means. I've also come to figure that the furies (opening sequence) in all their demonic demeanour of being human evil incarnate represent nothing less banal than the three arms of government. Anyway, I certainly didn't do a 180 on the film, I don't think it adheres to false paradigms, what the film does say I'm in accordance with, let's say. Like, the furies, through there mere existence, also propagate a guilty conscience when overstepping the law, which is what gets Lee Gentry eventually, weighting on his mind. Not to mention that Lee Gentry is super-needy, just wanting to be loved, but persistently hiding that need behind the power that he effectively but unhappily exerts.
But I'm still totally standing behind Ben Hecht & Co. 'The Scoundrel' is the one I would really recommend nowadays, though. Also a shout-out to 'Angels Over Broadway' which I have come to appreciate even a little bit more on a rewatch. Sentimental? I guess. But its honest idealism and tiniest faith in humanity towers over the typical sappy Hollywood pap. To communists I also highly recommend 'Soak the Rich'. ;)

Kafka - Should still hold up, I guess. I've been wanting to rewatch it for years but Soderbergh has been talking about a "radical re-edit" of the film since forever ( https://theplaylist.net/steven-soderber ... -20170707/ ), so that was part of the reason why I had been holding out. Soderbergh seems to be haunted a bit by the relatively poor reception the film received at the time, but speculating about his motivations for working on it aside, I can certainly see a recut (and using previously unused footage) making for a radically different film in this case, and potentially for an even more interesting one. I'm quite fine with the film as it is, I don't need an "improved" 'Kafka', but I'd be interested in seeing an alternative 'Kafka'. I never actually read Kafka (except maybe for that bug story) but the film seems like an excellent amalgamation of Kafka's biography and his writing, and overall very much in the spirit of the man himself.
And I'll say this, I don't care much for performances these days, but Jeremy Irons' befuddled characters I always find a treat to watch. So many of his characters may be befuddled, but each one has their befuddlement built around a unique core and his performances are all different in ever so subtle ways. I guess Irons to me is for befuddlement what Jack Nicholson is for anger to the Nerdwriter ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK7TiA9qmuU ), the greatness of depth in which one particular "emotion" is conveyed by the same actor over a body of work, as opposed to the range of emotions an actor can portray.[/color]
In his films Pierce seems to go for some kind of expansion of the consciousness and yet it's all so grounded in reality, which is probably the point? How, when you see, the blurry objects in the periphery of your sight becomes something out of your reach and yet you can just turn and watch those objects. From the few Viola films/installations I've seen I do see your analogy between the two... But mostly the early Viola, I suppose? His later super slow-HD-rewind-stuff is probably of another kind.

Wow, Ogawa sounds rousing. Sympathetic, socialist cinema - and yet more than that? The camera (and the crew) as a political object itself, being on wavelength with the farmers and their troubles, being in the midst of their battle (literally) - a vision of the of camera as a political instrument, maybe?

Just watched US Go Home the other day, liked it way more than you (as always with Denis, though). It was great to see a film with Gallo again. He sure is the man. I'd say it's one of the best films about adolescence that I've seen in a long time.

Sometimes you simply have a blast watching a film the first because you're wearing the right 'glasses' at the point of watching it... Sometimes it's a mood thing, and sometimes it's a preconceived understanding thing.
Regarding 'The Scoundrel'... Do you know if it's possibly to find it in better quality than the crummy copy up on KG?
I have both 'Angels Over Broadway' and 'Specter of the Rose' sitting on my HD waiting for a rainy day, hopefully sometime soon.

Speaking of Jeremy Irons, I'm thinking of Dead Ringers, which also have a very Kafkasque feel to it. Paranoia and gallows humour. It's funny with both Soderbergh and Cronenberg trying to adapt absurdist authors in the start of the 90's. But yes, that re-edit is long overdue and would be interesting to finally see at some point. As I remember 'Kafka', it's very much in the spirit of Kafka, the man. I don't think it would have been anything without Welles' 'The Trial' either, they share the same vision of Kafka's writings in my opinion. I remember watching the two for the first time within the same month back in the days.
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#27

Post by Carmel1379 » May 17th, 2019, 8:44 pm

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:53 pm
Crime Without Passion - Yeah, my perspective has changed quite a bit since my first viewing. I actually wondered a bit what I saw in the film in the first place, aside from the obviously sharp intellect behind the writing and its for its time and American context pretty unorthodox and inventive filmmaking/storytelling. I guess I watched it a bit too extremely through a lens bent to my own interests, like for example I was drawn in by Nietzschean notions a lot, the lawyer cheating the system through his superior intelligence within the legal bounds of the law and all that. And obviously there is a lot of 'Crime and Punishment' in its story, much food for thought in there. But now I don't see much admirable about succeeding in a game that isn't worth playing, nor does Lee Gentry even succeed eventually. He is consumed by the rules of law, his superiority lies pretty much only in knowing the law, it's his Bible, naturally that's his downfall after flying high by the same means. I've also come to figure that the furies (opening sequence) in all their demonic demeanour of being human evil incarnate represent nothing less banal than the three arms of government. Anyway, I certainly didn't do a 180 on the film, I don't think it adheres to false paradigms, what the film does say I'm in accordance with, let's say. Like, the furies, through there mere existence, also propagate a guilty conscience when overstepping the law, which is what gets Lee Gentry eventually, weighting on his mind. Not to mention that Lee Gentry is super-needy, just wanting to be loved, but persistently hiding that need behind the power that he effectively but unhappily exerts.
But I'm still totally standing behind Ben Hecht & Co. 'The Scoundrel' is the one I would really recommend nowadays, though. Also a shout-out to 'Angels Over Broadway' which I have come to appreciate even a little bit more on a rewatch. Sentimental? I guess. But its honest idealism and tiniest faith in humanity towers over the typical sappy Hollywood pap. To communists I also highly recommend 'Soak the Rich'. ;)
Gentry knew that all along though, didn't he? "I often wonder why people go on living... intelligent people, I mean." Fancying himself as an eagle is of course rather vain, but the realisation and 'truth' that it's all for nothing was always buried there in him, and when his daimonion runs out of analytic ideas to save him out of his mess (all caused funnily due to love), the only exit left is suicide (which he can't even deliver on). Everyone is in the end just like any other lil doodlebug, downtrodden by a cold passionless universe, blitzed into pieces by supremely ironic fate and cosmic laughter, although in Gentry's case the irony manifests itself as a regression to everything he considers petty and weak -- the public's laughter, conscience, getting caught. He is, after all, https://www.youtube.com/embed/lNccPhYA8 ... 47&end=150.
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#28

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » May 17th, 2019, 9:29 pm

viktor-vaudevillain wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 10:22 am
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:53 pm

Leighton Pierce - Sure. :thumbsup: Reveals new dimensions through focal change, low shutter speed and other basic camera tricks. Delving right into the (relatively) long form work '50 Feet of String' I found to be a good starting point myself, as it might make clearer where he is coming from and makes one understand his short pieces better, which otherwise perhaps would just seem like nice little sketches easy to shrug off. Leighton Pierce also makes me think of Bill Viola, although this has probably more to do with me having discovered them at around the same time, and at a pivotal time at that, when I cast off my absolute agnosticism and became a spiritual being, not that I mean to make it sound too dramatic, ALTHOUGH IT TOTALLY WAS!!! Anyway, Pierce creates a soundscape with seemingly diegetic sounds that compulsively pulls you into the film's reality. Viola's sound design is much more low key and boring, they very well might just be the actual sounds that were recorded along with the images. With Viola you see nature unfold, but ever so concisely framed and brilliantly tweaked to make you see something fresh in it and make you appreciate natural phenomena that by now have become commonplace and banal to you, and you can see that you are a part of this very same natural phenomena, blah, blah, blah, Zen, blah, blah,... Well, it's not fair to speak of them in terms of differences, really, they both do their own thing, but their work, at least for me, is made in a very similar spirit.

---

Well, the Ogawa guy... The Sanrizuka series is the thing for me, a powerful document of a remarkable struggle, most filmmaking concerns are secondary at best there. Of course it's hardly a coincidence that the events took place in the late 60's and continued into the 70's, coinciding with the global student movement, the environmental movement, etc., giving the farmers concrete support in numbers as well as spiritual support in their opposing of the government, without this context this futile fight against an obviously overpowering adversary I reckon would have been a one-off or pretty much a matter of weeks at best, instead of what you have here, a resolute fight spanning over years with incredibly convicted peasants at the helm and similarly convicted supports fighting for more intellectual ideals.
Too bad that only three of the seven films have English subtitles so far (and two of those are VHS rips with in some scenes even utterly unreadable subtitles, as you can probably surmise based on my screenshots). My choice of screenshots have been a bit monotonous (farmers telling off cops, because this is just so very satisfying) but each film actually highlights new and different aspects and considerations to the same struggle (as it develops over time). And 'Narita: Peasants of the Second Fortress' probably is especially amazing - certainly most captivating - showing the struggle at its violent height (or maybe only at one of the violent heights), the battles, as well as its preparations are akin to WW battles or perhaps French Revolution battles, but between farmers (+ supporters) and cops or other government people, and the camera is right in there, and to a degree that you very much feel that the film crew itself are participants, and needless to say they are on the side of the farmers, throwing themselves into danger along with them, going beyond mere documenting. And in general it's clear that the filmmakers live with the farmers and have their full trust.

US Go Home - looking forward. How's Gallo in it? - Gallo. He's the man.

Crime Without Passion - Yeah, my perspective has changed quite a bit since my first viewing. I actually wondered a bit what I saw in the film in the first place, aside from the obviously sharp intellect behind the writing and its for its time and American context pretty unorthodox and inventive filmmaking/storytelling. I guess I watched it a bit too extremely through a lens bent to my own interests, like for example I was drawn in by Nietzschean notions a lot, the lawyer cheating the system through his superior intelligence within the legal bounds of the law and all that. And obviously there is a lot of 'Crime and Punishment' in its story, much food for thought in there. But now I don't see much admirable about succeeding in a game that isn't worth playing, nor does Lee Gentry even succeed eventually. He is consumed by the rules of law, his superiority lies pretty much only in knowing the law, it's his Bible, naturally that's his downfall after flying high by the same means. I've also come to figure that the furies (opening sequence) in all their demonic demeanour of being human evil incarnate represent nothing less banal than the three arms of government. Anyway, I certainly didn't do a 180 on the film, I don't think it adheres to false paradigms, what the film does say I'm in accordance with, let's say. Like, the furies, through there mere existence, also propagate a guilty conscience when overstepping the law, which is what gets Lee Gentry eventually, weighting on his mind. Not to mention that Lee Gentry is super-needy, just wanting to be loved, but persistently hiding that need behind the power that he effectively but unhappily exerts.
But I'm still totally standing behind Ben Hecht & Co. 'The Scoundrel' is the one I would really recommend nowadays, though. Also a shout-out to 'Angels Over Broadway' which I have come to appreciate even a little bit more on a rewatch. Sentimental? I guess. But its honest idealism and tiniest faith in humanity towers over the typical sappy Hollywood pap. To communists I also highly recommend 'Soak the Rich'. ;)

Kafka - Should still hold up, I guess. I've been wanting to rewatch it for years but Soderbergh has been talking about a "radical re-edit" of the film since forever ( https://theplaylist.net/steven-soderber ... -20170707/ ), so that was part of the reason why I had been holding out. Soderbergh seems to be haunted a bit by the relatively poor reception the film received at the time, but speculating about his motivations for working on it aside, I can certainly see a recut (and using previously unused footage) making for a radically different film in this case, and potentially for an even more interesting one. I'm quite fine with the film as it is, I don't need an "improved" 'Kafka', but I'd be interested in seeing an alternative 'Kafka'. I never actually read Kafka (except maybe for that bug story) but the film seems like an excellent amalgamation of Kafka's biography and his writing, and overall very much in the spirit of the man himself.
And I'll say this, I don't care much for performances these days, but Jeremy Irons' befuddled characters I always find a treat to watch. So many of his characters may be befuddled, but each one has their befuddlement built around a unique core and his performances are all different in ever so subtle ways. I guess Irons to me is for befuddlement what Jack Nicholson is for anger to the Nerdwriter ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK7TiA9qmuU ), the greatness of depth in which one particular "emotion" is conveyed by the same actor over a body of work, as opposed to the range of emotions an actor can portray.[/color]
In his films Pierce seems to go for some kind of expansion of the consciousness and yet it's all so grounded in reality, which is probably the point? How, when you see, the blurry objects in the periphery of your sight becomes something out of your reach and yet you can just turn and watch those objects. From the few Viola films/installations I've seen I do see your analogy between the two... But mostly the early Viola, I suppose? His later super slow-HD-rewind-stuff is probably of another kind.

Wow, Ogawa sounds rousing. Sympathetic, socialist cinema - and yet more than that? The camera (and the crew) as a political object itself, being on wavelength with the farmers and their troubles, being in the midst of their battle (literally) - a vision of the of camera as a political instrument, maybe?

Just watched US Go Home the other day, liked it way more than you (as always with Denis, though). It was great to see a film with Gallo again. He sure is the man. I'd say it's one of the best films about adolescence that I've seen in a long time.

Sometimes you simply have a blast watching a film the first because you're wearing the right 'glasses' at the point of watching it... Sometimes it's a mood thing, and sometimes it's a preconceived understanding thing.
Regarding 'The Scoundrel'... Do you know if it's possibly to find it in better quality than the crummy copy up on KG?
I have both 'Angels Over Broadway' and 'Specter of the Rose' sitting on my HD waiting for a rainy day, hopefully sometime soon.

Speaking of Jeremy Irons, I'm thinking of Dead Ringers, which also have a very Kafkasque feel to it. Paranoia and gallows humour. It's funny with both Soderbergh and Cronenberg trying to adapt absurdist authors in the start of the 90's. But yes, that re-edit is long overdue and would be interesting to finally see at some point. As I remember 'Kafka', it's very much in the spirit of Kafka, the man. I don't think it would have been anything without Welles' 'The Trial' either, they share the same vision of Kafka's writings in my opinion. I remember watching the two for the first time within the same month back in the days.
I described Pierce's films as "photographed reality opening up new vistas of perception" when I first saw some of them. '50 Feet of String' also made my i must be dreaming list. I think I also said something about them being about the spaces in between. So yeah, an expansion of the consciousness for sure, an exploration of this our world at large, since as a Buddhist I don't believe in a real distinction between internal and external.
Yeah, Viola has been taking quite a different route in recent years, Christian subjects, more humanistic, triptychs, etc. His fascination with water remained a constant, though. But previously to that phase Viola similarly explored the physics of the world, often the ways in how light was reflected, shot matter-of-factly without cuts or camera movement, especially in his earliest work. 'The Passing', though, might be closest to Pierce in general, intentionally evoking an in-between state, between awake and asleep, between being born and dying, between water and air, and so on, resulting in a film that can also very easily be called dream-like.

Don't know about the vision of the camera per se, makes it sound like society as spectacle a bit. But those were just more politically active times in general, which was also reflected in all the arts. More hope for a radically different future, less commodity culture zombies, more LSD and Mary Jay around. But yeah, those weren't so much films for the mainstream than probably more akin to reportages passed around in the underground for fellow political activists, cinema as a weapon, if that's what you meant. From the printing press as a political weapon to the moving image. Masao Adachi &, Kôji Wakamatsu's 'Red Army/PFLP: Declaration of World War' also comes to mind as a Japanese film from around the same time made in the same vein and probably even more radical and global (and more anarcho-communist). As for Ogawa, as far as I know he was originally a city dweller, and the movement/work on the Sanrizuka series led him to continue exploring farmer life and delve into the history of small farmer villages and got him to adopt that lifestyle for an extended time, along with others who worked on his films. 'Magino Village: A Tale', for example, which is the only one I've seen outside of the 'Sanrizuka' series films thus far, partly documents his own first attempts in rice farming ("attempts" meaning that it spans around 5 years). No mention of an alternate life there, really, during it's 4-hour running time, nor of political issues outside of historical events within the village itself that reach back hundreds of years, naturally concerning a revolt of farmers against their feudal lords.

US Go Home - I didn't doubt you'd like it. Formally it's notable enough, stripped down narrative, feels like half the film is just boys and girls dancing with each other, reduced to essentially a mating ritual. It's primal, visually the action often is barely visible, shot in half-darkness. And as usual Denis is concerned with the body in movement, even more so the male one, dancing, convulsing in solitude, what Denis film would be complete without one such scene. And I'd have to lie if I said that the film left me emotionally cold. Eventually it's relatively straight-forward, though, even just measured by her own oeuvre alone. Topically I just have little interest in films on adolescence lately for the most part, and it didn't offer much fresh or interesting for me at that point, cerebrally or emotionally.

I'm not aware of any better copy of 'The Scroundrel'. We are probably lucky to have even this one.

I guess there's quite a bit of Welles' 'The Trial' in 'Kafka', I've only seen it once dubbed a long time ago. But maybe that's part of the reason why I was surprised by how confident Jeremy Irons' character actually is in 'Kafka', as opposed to Anthony Perkins in comparison, from what I remember. He's a long-time lowly civil servant now suddenly thrown into anarchist-terrorist cycles and he's not fazed at all though he "doesn't sympathize with their cause" (to use his words) and he still depends on holding his job. Further he's very ready to jump into the unknown and to put himself in danger and playing detective almost out of mere curiosity. I reckon to some extent this was just a necessity to move the story along in this film noir-ish paranoia thriller.
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#29

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » May 18th, 2019, 5:38 pm

Carmel1379 wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 8:44 pm
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:53 pm
Crime Without Passion - Yeah, my perspective has changed quite a bit since my first viewing. I actually wondered a bit what I saw in the film in the first place, aside from the obviously sharp intellect behind the writing and its for its time and American context pretty unorthodox and inventive filmmaking/storytelling. I guess I watched it a bit too extremely through a lens bent to my own interests, like for example I was drawn in by Nietzschean notions a lot, the lawyer cheating the system through his superior intelligence within the legal bounds of the law and all that. And obviously there is a lot of 'Crime and Punishment' in its story, much food for thought in there. But now I don't see much admirable about succeeding in a game that isn't worth playing, nor does Lee Gentry even succeed eventually. He is consumed by the rules of law, his superiority lies pretty much only in knowing the law, it's his Bible, naturally that's his downfall after flying high by the same means. I've also come to figure that the furies (opening sequence) in all their demonic demeanour of being human evil incarnate represent nothing less banal than the three arms of government. Anyway, I certainly didn't do a 180 on the film, I don't think it adheres to false paradigms, what the film does say I'm in accordance with, let's say. Like, the furies, through there mere existence, also propagate a guilty conscience when overstepping the law, which is what gets Lee Gentry eventually, weighting on his mind. Not to mention that Lee Gentry is super-needy, just wanting to be loved, but persistently hiding that need behind the power that he effectively but unhappily exerts.
But I'm still totally standing behind Ben Hecht & Co. 'The Scoundrel' is the one I would really recommend nowadays, though. Also a shout-out to 'Angels Over Broadway' which I have come to appreciate even a little bit more on a rewatch. Sentimental? I guess. But its honest idealism and tiniest faith in humanity towers over the typical sappy Hollywood pap. To communists I also highly recommend 'Soak the Rich'. ;)
Gentry knew that all along though, didn't he? "I often wonder why people go on living... intelligent people, I mean." Fancying himself as an eagle is of course rather vain, but the realisation and 'truth' that it's all for nothing was always buried there in him, and when his daimonion runs out of analytic ideas to save him out of his mess (all caused funnily due to love), the only exit left is suicide (which he can't even deliver on). Everyone is in the end just like any other lil doodlebug, downtrodden by a cold passionless universe, blitzed into pieces by supremely ironic fate and cosmic laughter, although in Gentry's case the irony manifests itself as a regression to everything he considers petty and weak -- the public's laughter, conscience, getting caught. He is, after all, https://www.youtube.com/embed/lNccPhYA8 ... 47&end=150.
Shall I send out for some bicarbonated soda?
Gentry knew nothing. His opening soliloquy is that of an embittered man on the verge of falling into a deep hole, with his professional success being the only thing that is still keeping him afloat. He is privately unhappy, so he assumes everyone must be as unhappy or even more unhappy since few other people have his success (and to his mind probably have a god-like power over life and death that could match his). Everyone feels that life is a rat race, some stronger than others, and some are better than others at pretending and lying to themselves that it is not, but everyone feels it, drudging along with their lives regardless. It's no Gentry specialty. His suicide-wish had been lurking for a long time, probably, but becomes the strongest when he is at his most witless, very untrue to his own words regarding "intelligent people"
He's as good at self-deception as anyone, comfortably resting on one foundation alone, which is that of state law, which has served him well, well enough that often times he can look down on the world through the eyes of an eagle, superior and bitter. That is, until this foundation crumbles, and he falls through the floor without any safety nets waiting for him. It's not even down to his own doing, he doesn't intend to kill, by law he ought to be innocent or at the very least have "mitigating circumstances" on his side, but his chosen religion flat-out fails him, or he feels that it will. He's exposed as being not even a staunch believer of his own religion, but as an opportunist who rode on its wave, lacking Kiefer "horse barn" Sutherland's conviction in it to go through with the final act. So he will suffer to his last breath, living in cold sweat for the rest of his numbered days before his fate will be sealed by the religion he had used to his advantage, because the electric chair alone is much too good for him.
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#30

Post by Carmel1379 » May 18th, 2019, 8:31 pm

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 5:38 pm
Carmel1379 wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 8:44 pm
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:53 pm
Crime Without Passion - Yeah, my perspective has changed quite a bit since my first viewing. I actually wondered a bit what I saw in the film in the first place, aside from the obviously sharp intellect behind the writing and its for its time and American context pretty unorthodox and inventive filmmaking/storytelling. I guess I watched it a bit too extremely through a lens bent to my own interests, like for example I was drawn in by Nietzschean notions a lot, the lawyer cheating the system through his superior intelligence within the legal bounds of the law and all that. And obviously there is a lot of 'Crime and Punishment' in its story, much food for thought in there. But now I don't see much admirable about succeeding in a game that isn't worth playing, nor does Lee Gentry even succeed eventually. He is consumed by the rules of law, his superiority lies pretty much only in knowing the law, it's his Bible, naturally that's his downfall after flying high by the same means. I've also come to figure that the furies (opening sequence) in all their demonic demeanour of being human evil incarnate represent nothing less banal than the three arms of government. Anyway, I certainly didn't do a 180 on the film, I don't think it adheres to false paradigms, what the film does say I'm in accordance with, let's say. Like, the furies, through there mere existence, also propagate a guilty conscience when overstepping the law, which is what gets Lee Gentry eventually, weighting on his mind. Not to mention that Lee Gentry is super-needy, just wanting to be loved, but persistently hiding that need behind the power that he effectively but unhappily exerts.
But I'm still totally standing behind Ben Hecht & Co. 'The Scoundrel' is the one I would really recommend nowadays, though. Also a shout-out to 'Angels Over Broadway' which I have come to appreciate even a little bit more on a rewatch. Sentimental? I guess. But its honest idealism and tiniest faith in humanity towers over the typical sappy Hollywood pap. To communists I also highly recommend 'Soak the Rich'. ;)
Gentry knew that all along though, didn't he? "I often wonder why people go on living... intelligent people, I mean." Fancying himself as an eagle is of course rather vain, but the realisation and 'truth' that it's all for nothing was always buried there in him, and when his daimonion runs out of analytic ideas to save him out of his mess (all caused funnily due to love), the only exit left is suicide (which he can't even deliver on). Everyone is in the end just like any other lil doodlebug, downtrodden by a cold passionless universe, blitzed into pieces by supremely ironic fate and cosmic laughter, although in Gentry's case the irony manifests itself as a regression to everything he considers petty and weak -- the public's laughter, conscience, getting caught. He is, after all, https://www.youtube.com/embed/lNccPhYA8 ... 47&end=150.
Shall I send out for some bicarbonated soda?
Gentry knew nothing. His opening soliloquy is that of an embittered man on the verge of falling into a deep hole, with his professional success being the only thing that is still keeping him afloat. He is privately unhappy, so he assumes everyone must be as unhappy or even more unhappy since few other people have his success (and to his mind probably have a god-like power over life and death that could match his). Everyone feels that life is a rat race, some stronger than others, and some are better than others at pretending and lying to themselves that it is not, but everyone feels it, drudging along with their lives regardless. It's no Gentry specialty. His suicide-wish had been lurking for a long time, probably, but becomes the strongest when he is at his most witless, very untrue to his own words regarding "intelligent people"
He's as good at self-deception as anyone, comfortably resting on one foundation alone, which is that of state law, which has served him well, well enough that often times he can look down on the world through the eyes of an eagle, superior and bitter. That is, until this foundation crumbles, and he falls through the floor without any safety nets waiting for him. It's not even down to his own doing, he doesn't intend to kill, by law he ought to be innocent or at the very least have "mitigating circumstances" on his side, but his chosen religion flat-out fails him, or he feels that it will. He's exposed as being not even a staunch believer of his own religion, but as an opportunist who rode on its wave, lacking Kiefer "horse barn" Sutherland's conviction in it to go through with the final act. So he will suffer to his last breath, living in cold sweat for the rest of his numbered days before his fate will be sealed by the religion he had used to his advantage, because the electric chair alone is much too good for him.
I wish Mr.SysMan you'd stop referring to my philosophical flights as stomach aches.
Knowing nothing is knowing everything. :folded: Of course what I don't understand is... nevermind. In any case 'intelligence' can mean many things, and while Gentry is quite proficient at solving games in local regions -- playing with the law in all those "hopeless" courtroom cases to efficiently miscarry justice -- he's certainly pretty half-witted when it comes to solving his own love games, a monster to himself, not enclosed within his particular office in one of the many high-rise buildings his natural specialised talent brought him to, but instead squirming on the streets, attempting to conceal evidence, create alibis, running around with the premonition the Furies will seize him with their superior claws. While not 'normative' behaviour, I'd consider it... 'normal' behaviour, attempts at self-preservation which are bound to fail. On the streets his "analytic mind" is as useful and useless as any other dispositions, since no human faculty can withstand chance, cold fate, instinctual actions... and actions do have consequences. Brutal fucking murder!

I don't really see him treating the law / his job as a religion, but more like a means to an end, the end goals being any of the 'ordinary' human aspirations like success and 'love'. In his immediate case also breaking up with one girl to start a relationship with another, fabricating evidence and trying to instil guilt within the former instead of honestly talking it out. He probably could be honest with her if he wanted to, but playing and manipulating simply comes to him much easier, and by implicating her in some offence against himself, he can attempt to keep a clear conscience. And when he loses his second mistress he does what any ordinary person would do - drink, and pour out his narcissistic rage [fu hasn't seen 'Crime Without Passion' yet, has he?] against others. And then yes, suffer the consequences dictated by the law he was so well acquainted with, probably ashamed to not have perished in a more tasty manner.
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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.
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#31

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » May 19th, 2019, 6:17 pm

Indeed I played along with the dramatizing tone of the film and of your reply. Gentry thinks of himself more highly than he is, just like any other average Joe, just that he wants love without ever having to give any back [no, fu hasn't seen it], that's really why to me he deserves his fate.

Now I'm reminded of this conversation between John Casavettes and...somebody, over a game of Backgammon:


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