Zotis' Film Watching Diary

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The Cry of the Owl (2009) Drama/Thriller

Written and Directed by Jamie Thraves
Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith
Starring Paddy Considine, Julia Stiles, James Gilbert, and Caroline Dhavernas

I wanted to see more of Julia Stiles so I decided to check this movie out. She played Jenny, a depressed stalker. Paddy Considine was the lead. His character, Robert, was a lonely quiet man. The plot was pretty complicated, though the pacing was fairly slow. It involved a one-sided awkward romance between Robert and Jenny tangled with troubles involving both of their ex's and a murder mystery too. It was an interesting movie with decent acting. There wasn't really anything particularly special about the movie, but I can't find any faults with it either. A decent movie overall. I liked Considine as an actor, and I liked his character Robert. Robert and Jenny were both characters that drew a lot of sympathy.

Gospel Hill (2008) Drama

Directed by Giancarlo Esposito
Written by Jeff Stacy, Jeffrey Prat Gordon, and Tarrell Tannen
Starring Giancarlo Esposito, Adam Baldwin, Tom Bower, Danny Glover, Samuel L. Jackson, Taylor Kitsch, Julia Styles, Nia Long, and Robert Diggs (A.K.A. RZA)

Another one off of Julia Stiles' filmography. In this one she plays a supporting role as a new school teacher who recently moved to a small town with a controversial past. The town is divided over a commercial prospect that threatens to uproot the poor and prosper the wealthy. Many stories intertwine to tell a larger story about fighting for what you believe in. It covers many themes such as racism and freedom. There is nothing especially great about the cinematography or acting, but it's a good story with a strong cast. Giancarlo Esposito is an actor who I first noticed in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. He not only acted in, and directed Gospel Hill, he also produced it. He took it upon himself to play something of a villain, but his character was also very human.

Memento Mori
(1999) Horror/Drama

Written and directed by Tae-Yong Kim and Kyu-Dong Min
Starring Kim Gyu-Ri, Lee Young-Jin, Park Ye-Jin, Kong Hyo-Jin, Kim Jae-In, and Baek Jong-Hak

The second film in the Whispering Corridors series. These movies are set in all-girl private schools, and their subject matter revolves around suicide, and ghosts. Other than that there are no connections between any of the five movies in the series. In terms of acting, cinematography, and meaningful content this is probably the best in the series. It's an extremely well made movie which was actually considered quite controversial in Korea at the time (according to what I've read). I still prefer Whispering Corridors V: A Blood Pledge, based solely on my personal enjoyment of the movie, but it doesn't really contend with Memento Mori in terms of quality from an objective standpoint. If it wasn't for the plot structure Memento Mori could even be considered Hyper Realism. The way they convey the school setting and the behaviour of teenagers is spot on. Rather than having antagonists and protagonists they just show all of these complex human beings that can't even be labelled in such a primitive way. While these movies are technically Horror movies, none of them are scary. There are some suspenseful moments, but the emphasis is on telling a story. The story is also told through basically two perspectives, one is the present time in which all of the various characters have their own perspectives, and the other is flashbacks of the past which represent Kim Gyu-Ri's character, Min-Ah, reading parts of a diary. It's a little hard to tell when a flashback is occuring because there's no camera effect indication, so the movie does require considerable concentration to piece together exactly what's going on. The theme of a lesbian romance is very well done, especially in the Korean context. I'm really glad I found it second-hand and now have a physical copy. It will be a treasured part of my small but growing film collection.

The Robe (1953)

Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, and Victor Mature

It was a charming movie with that old fashioned classic Hollywood feeling to it. The acting was fairly decent, but I wouldn't compare it to French cinema of the same time. The story was about a Roman officer who takes part in the crucifixion of Jesus and wins Jesus' robe in a wager. It deals with early Christianity and Tiberius Caesar from an interesting perspective. Jesus' death is mostly behind the scenes, and it's more about the lives of a few people in that time period.

Do you mean that you wouldn't compare the acting because the styles of acting are different? Or in that it doesn't compare in terms of quality?
5-time MoFo Award winner.

I thought that would be obvious... Do you mean you aren't aware of how bad Hollywood acting is?

I wouldn't compare them in terms of quality.

My fourth Tarkovsky. This was the hardest one so far for me to digest. I feel like I have no idea what was going on. The cinematography was amazing. There were long shots with things like the wind, the sun setting, and animals moving that must have been really hard to capture, or they were just really good at capturing things in the moment because those elements would be in the same shot as dialogue and acting. I really want to watch more art films until I learn to appreciate them more.

Fando and Lis

My third Jodorowsky. It was a really fascinating movie. The acting was a bit of a drawback at times, but overall it was a great movie. I especially loved the character Lis, the love/hate relationship, and their crazy journey. I have some fairy tale books and I recognized a lot of the artwork. I haven't read very many of the fairy tales though, so I think there is a lot of mystery to the movie that gets missed without that knowledge.

I wonder at what point people rioted. I can see how the ending would cause it, but I can't imagine most people getting through half the movie.

Martyrs (2008)

This was my second watch. This movie contended for my top 100 but got knocked off. I actually liked it more after watching it a second time. I think the first half of the movie, because it's so exciting, brutal, and violent sets expectations that the second half doesn't deliver, and that results in what the second half does deliver not being appreciated. Seeing it a second time I enjoyed the first half just as much, and was able to appreciate the second half more. I enjoyed the movie much more as a whole. In fact I loved it. The movie actually brought me to tears twice, and I don't think that's ever happened to me on a rewatch, especially not of a movie that didn't draw tears the first watch. I never really understood the second half before. I just thought it was stupid that the girl did the cliche thing and didn't call the cops. But honestly, how could you expect a 17-year-old to call the police under those circumstances? The plot actually does make perfect sense, and the two halves really do explain each other in a crucial way. I don't think of this as just a brutal violent movie anymore. Martyrs is legitimately a solid respectable movie that I deeply admire. I'm very glad to have it in my permanent collection.

(1983) Drama, Horror, Thriller

Directed by Gerald Kargl
Written by Gerald Kargl and Zbigniew Rybczynski
Starring Erwin Leder and Robert Hunger-Buhler

So, this new video store that I've recently switched to is really kicking butt! At the front of the store is a caged section and some shelves of movies for sale of the horror/thriller/violent/exploitation varieties. I noticed a while ago that they had Alice Sweet Alice, but I held off on it, and the next week it was gone. Apparently it's out of print too. So I was a bit disappointed, but I browsed their selection to buy something else instead. This movie, Angst, caught my eye with it's striking cover. When I asked to have a look at it the clerk was really excited. His enthusiasm alone sold me on the movie, and so I asked him to stop talking about it because I wanted to go into it relatively blind. He had already told me that it was arthouse, and based on the true story of a serial killer. It also happened to be my friend's birthday coming up. He also likes arthouse and especially likes horror movies, so I thought it would be perfect for him. We watched it together on his birthday, and I could not believe how excited I was after watching it. Fortunately my friend passed out within the first ten minutes of the movie, so I got to watch it again with him the next day, and he definitely shared my enthusiasm. Well, it was the perfect gift. I just wish that I'd kept it for myself instead.

This is one of my new favorite movies. I guarantee when I redo my top 100 Angst is going to be in the top 50, maybe even top 25. I'm tempted to give it 5 stars and put it in my top 5, that's how much I loved it. Quality-wise it's a flawless masterpiece, there's no doubt about that. I noticed how good the cinematography was the first watch, but I was really enthralled by it on the second watch. The composition of the cinematography and the sets is incredible. You could pretty much take a screenshot at any point in the film and it would be supreme source material for a painting. Only the main character, played by Erwin Leder has any particular attention paid to as a character. Every other actor in the movie is merely an extra with little to no dialogue. The voice over representing the character's inner thoughts, which sound like their revisiting the events of the film in retrospective, is done by a different actor, Robert Hunger-Buhler. The voice over was another thing that really captivated me with this movie. It was very thoughtful and thought provoking. It wasn't just a device to explain the situation, but it also contributed essentially to the atmosphere and made you think about things at particular times to get an extraordinary psychological effect. Like for example when he was strangling an old woman; the voice over talked about his childhood, how he hated his grandmother and how he got kicked out of a convent for killing a pig. It didn't just delve into his mind and reveal why he had turned out to be a psycopath, it also made you think about that while he was strangling an old woman.

When I watched this movie I felt like a primordial desire of mine was satisfied. I felt relieved that I'd finally come across a movie like this. I felt like I'd been waiting my whole life to see it. There is nothing else I've seen that contends as a better psycho-killer movie. There is no boring filler content just to get to the violent bits, every single element of the movie is done with creative genius and artistic mastery. The movie is perfectly structured with it's buildup of anticipation, gloriously explosive peak, and final wrap up. My only regret is that it's going to be so hard to find anything else that gives me the same sensation, the same sadistic thrill and simultaneous gut wrenching heartbreak.

Because I can't contain my excitement, I need to talk about what excited me the most about the movie. But it's going to contain major spoilers, so don't read it if you haven't seen the movie yet. I just can't stress enough how glorious the bildup in this movie is. When even thinking of how I'm going to talk about what excited me I feel the need to be very careful about how I build it up. But I can't do as good a job as the movie itself did. That's why I say watch it before you read this.

WARNING: spoilers below
Well I really have two favorite parts in the movie. The first and lesser favorite part of mine is when the psychopath attacks the family in their home, and while he's terrorising them. The "part" itself is the attractive young daughter. It's just so amazing to me how they did her character. For one thing she isn't a developed character. She has no name Oh yeah, she does have a name that is mentioned by another character. Most of her screen time is in the background or off to the side. She's almost like an extra, and yet at the same time she's the second most important character in the movie. My second favorite part is the pivotal apex of the movie's plot.

There are several particular shots of the daughter that stand out to me during this part of the movie. One is when she's tied up. The killer ties one of her feet to the handle of a door, stands her up, and ties her hands behind her back. So she's left stuck there with one foot bent upwards behind her, her hands behind her back, and trying to balance on one foot. The image of her tied up like that is so fascinating. It leaves me full of wonder, excitement, and curiosity. Will she escape? What's going to happen to her? It's such an interesting way to tie someone up. It's so haphazard. And it defenitely left me hopeful that she could escape, because she wasn't tied up very well. She was so attractive too. I found myself simultaneously excited at the prospect of her dying and dreading it, hoping that she'd escape.

While the killer is busy elsewhere she reaches the knife on the ground and picks it up with her mouth. There's a few shots of her on the ground, foot tied up at the door handle, with the knife in her mouth. And those images pierced me deeply as just wonderful to behold. The hopeful moments where she just might escape.. But honestly it didn't even look very promising. I think that deep down it was obvious she wouldn't escape. I remember the feeling that I had when I saw her with the knife in her mouth. It was like a hope that I knew would fail, a fleeting glimmer that was too good to be true. She looked so vulnerable, desperate, and beautiful.

There are a couple more particularly interesting shots of her before the apex. The psycho dragging her awkwardly into the kitchen while she tries to make out with him in a desperate attempt to save herself by seducing him. I love the way he talks about his plans for her and how what she's doing won't save her. Then he leaves her in the kitchen and as she's falling over there's a shot of her catching herself on the counter with her teeth before slipping off. And then there's an interesting shot of her hiding in the closet while the killer looks for her.

If you actually did watch the movie before reading this, then my favorite part will undoubtedly be your favorite part too. The attractive young woman's cataclysmic death scene. It was perfection. The setting of the dark tunnel couldn't be any better. I loved the nice little touch of the children's ball that she accidentally kicks when she runs away from the killer, and how it sits there off to the side of the shot when she's dead. It's haunting at that point, and creepy. It makes me quiver just thinking about it. I love the way he talks about his "plans" when he really doesn't do anything according to his so-called plans. He says he's going to kill her in the most precise manner, but in the end he kills her in a spontaneous uncontrolable outburst. As he's chasing her down the tunnel he just starts stabbing her and exploads into a violent orgasm. I've never seen such a compelling death scene. The way her eyes widened as she gargled up blood while he just kept stabbing her. The shot of her weak legs twisting under his with torn stockings and fleeting life. The look of sadistic glee on the killer's blood splashed face as he contorts in murderous ecstacy.

It was hard to stomach, but it was also something I've wanted to see for a very long time. I've often wondered why I haven't seen this type of sadistic violence done so well and so realistically before. I've often wondered if I ever would see something like this on film. Now that I have, I just want to see more, but I have no idea how I'll find more of the sensation this movie gave me. I think the best thing to do is savor it, cherish it, and just be thankful that I have found it, and that it does exist. Maybe one day I'll find another movie that gives me the sensation that this movie made me feel. A sensation that almost makes me afraid of becoming a sadist myself one day, or a murderer. A sensation that completely combines excitement and terror.

Screw it, I rate it five primordial urges out of five.

Minio was telling me about Angst the other day. I need to watch it. I need to!!!!!

Gaspar Noe said that Angst was going to be rediscovered in the next few years. I can't believe I'd never even heard about it before. I feel the incredible urge to murder tell people... about this movie.

If you see Just Before Dawn in this little video shop of yours, Zotis, take a look at that. I think it's a cracking little slasher in the original US slasher style.

(2015) Drama, Romance

Directed by John Crowley
Written by Nick Nornby
Based on the novel Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, Fiona Glascott, Domhnall Gleeson, and Julie Walters

My dad and brother went to see Deadpool. They abandoned me while I was in the washroom assuming that I knew which time they picked and which theater. Well, I looked in the theater that was starting next, but they weren't there. Later they told me that they went into one that had just started so all they missed were the previews. I didn't want to see Deadpool anyway. Well, nothing was really catching my eye, but Brooklyn was giving me decent vibes so I decided to check it out.

It was actually quite a pleasant movie. I think I would have to say it was primarily a drama and secondarily a romance. It was serious and not sappy, and it contained a decent amount of meaningful content about life in general, immigration, culture, family, peer bonding, and other such things. It was a bit of a female character study too, which I liked. I was much gladder to see something like that than Deadpool. I'm sure my dad and brother would have found Brooklyn boring.

I've been trying to find Angst for quite a while now. If anyone has a link, please send my way.

A Zotis rec is on tap for me this weekend.

I've been trying to find Angst for quite a while now. If anyone has a link, please send my way.

A Zotis rec is on tap for me this weekend.
You can buy it.

Angst, starring Bjork.

I usually just type in google "watch _____" and fill in the blank with the movie's title, but you better have adblock, a firewall, anti-malware, and an antivirus before you click on some of those links. And the quality probably won't be good.

Andrie Rublev
(1966) Biography, Drama

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Written by Andrei Tarkovsky and Andrey Konchalovskiy
Starring Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolai Grinko, Nikolai Burlyayev, and Ima Raush

My fifth Tarkovsky, and man did this one ever hit the spot for me. I think this might be my favorite so far. All of his movies have spectacular cinematography, but this one goes the extra mile with longer shots that involve intense acting, the destruction of props, the use of animals, and so many things. I was more captivated by that than anything else in the movie. Also, it's shot in black and white which just made it all the more beautiful. The plot was a bit difficult for me to follow, and I'm not sure why. I got some of the characters mixed up, and couldn't quite tell what was going on. Maybe it's because I was paying too much attention to the cinematography. There were so many amazing scenes in this movie. One character is a jester, and holy crap... I've never seen a jester like that before. Man, that was a real jester. He was hilarious, and then they just executed him. Soldiers randomly show up at this pub or whatever, take him, and run him head first into a tree knocking him out, then it's straight to the execution site. The poor guy was screaming, "I'm innocent," in the background of a later scene, and then in passing a bit later you see his corpse get thrown onto a pile of corpses. He was just a minor character. Later it's revealed that another character sold him out. I don't know what for. This is a movie that I'm probably going to have to watch several more times before I can begin to understand it. Well... I guess you could say that about all of Tarkovsky's films, except maybe Ivan's Childhood. Anyway, wow, it was a superb movie.