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XTC: This Is Pop (Roger Penny & Charlie Thomas, 2017)
+ Cult Rating

XTC evolved enormously from the quirkiness of the "This Is Pop" video.
Woah, bro. I had no idea this was made or out. Absolutely have to see this! Thanks.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Mark, if I suggest a film for you to review, would you consider reviewing it, if time allows?
Maybe You hear the story about why I don't write full reviews anymore - the stroke?
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Maybe You hear the story about why I don't write full reviews anymore - the stroke?
I have read that, Mark, yes. But I think any down time you deem fit to focus on elaborating will be well appreciated. Naturally, I wouldn't expect your review to be long, detailed and filled with gifs and tons of pictures, but a bee line indication of what you thought of the film, and what you liked/didn't like would be nice, especially since you're a bit of a film veteran and I have a few films that I'd really like to hear your opinion on. If availability is an issue, I'll get to it, finding a way you can comfortably watch them.

Maybe You hear the story about why I don't write full reviews anymore - the stroke?
Mark, have you ever tried voice recognition software to write with? I tried one of those 15 years ago when I couldn't type. It worked pretty good for me. It did make typos by choosing the wrong words occasionally, but that could be corrected with a keyboard. By now they must have vastly improved the software. Don't know if that would work for you, but I've thought about mentioning it for a long time.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
People ask me to elaborate on films all the time, and if you look in here and Movie Tab II, I do, so ask away.

Unless I'm wrong, I think voice recognition would be more trouble than it's worth. I already have a lot to do every day (believe it or not) so I could do it if I watch a lot less movies than I do now. It's just that between Movie Justice, Metacritic Forums [both defunct and unrecoverable] and Movie Forums. I've written so many lengthy reviews and shorter mini-reviews that perhaps I'm burnt out. I do appreciate everyone's concern though.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
La Guerre est finie (Alain Resnais, 1966)
Art House Rating

Alain Resnais is obviously a political filmmaker. His films undoubtedly reflect the politics of the underdog, and more often than not, they also reflect a leftist leaning, but he already said that he's not an auteur, so maybe Spanish scripter Jorge Semprún (Z, Special Section) is truly responsible (don't count on it!) for the message of this film. Well, being a Resnais film, the message isn't really difficult to decipher, but the true meaning is often open to interpretation. Resnais focuses on Yves Montand's Diego, a Spaniard fighting against the Franco regime while supporting his Leninist allies. He has spent most of his life aiding and abetting what he sees as his people's chance for freedom, but having reached middle age and having to live six months of any year in France, he seems more concerned with his friends' survival than he does for broad political gestures which he knows from experience will accomplish very little.

Resnais' trademark editing techniques are mostly relegated to the first part of the film. We see what Diego either recalls or imagines of all the various times he has been put into a similar position; where he has to go through all the motions of covering himself and trying to help comrades, several of whom he doesn't even know. Interestingly enough, these early scenes seem to focus on the dozens of women he's either followed or witnessed, so yes, fighting the good Lenin fight apparently makes you something of a stud. After the suspenseful opening scene where Diego and his comrade are pulled over at the French border by the Authorities, the next important scene is his meeting of Nadine (Geneviève Bujold in her film debut). In what amounts to a surrealistic sex scene, Nadine seems to float around the room (while instantaneously undressing, with nothing but a solid white background under her). Predictably, the next scene seems to show her awaking in bed with night clothes on, so was it a dream or not?

The film's title seems to carry multiple meanings. Is the war against fascism over? Is Diego's specific attempt at war over? One of the interesting things about Nadine's character is that even though she's French, she and other twentysomething French revolutionaries want to carry on the war in a much more violent way than the oldtimers' concept of a "General Strike" in Spain on or about May Day. But the young are always gung ho and "impatient", as Diego calls them, and he should know since he's a "professional revolutionary". Actually, the deepest relationship which Diego has is with his "girl friend" Marianne (Ingrid Thulin), who has been together with him for nine years now, but she's starting to feel a bit shortchanged in both the honesty and the intimacy department. She wants to spend the rest of her life with Diego and have his children, but Diego has spent so much of his life using false names and false personas that he has a difficult time believing he can change or become tied down to something so petit bourgeois.

OK, I think I've been going on a bit too much about the politics involved in the film, and personally, I find that part to be pretty outdated. However, I still think the film works as a low-key political paranoid thriller. I find the best parts of the film to be those where you see somebody is following someone else, but you aren't really sure which of the characters they are following. Then, you take the veteran Diego, and once he realizes somebody is following someone, he decides to follow the "somebody". Diego spends most of the film either paranoid that somebody is after him or oblivious to the fact that his closest comrades no longer trust him. In fact, one of Resnais' most interesting conceits is that he has a narrator discuss to the audience what Diego is thinking and feeling, but the narrator is not Yves Montand! It's actually the screenwriter, Jorge Semprún. That's just another way in which Resnais seems to reinvent cinema, even in a film which a majority of people will have a difficult time diving into. Just remember, if you watch this film, that it's a thriller for people who feel paranoia whenever they leave the confines of their home, even though that's what the character does on a day-to-day basis. He seems attracted to the "mundane, outmoded fear of giving his life for a hopeless cause."

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Coeurs aka Private Fears in Public Places] (Alain Resnais, 2006)

This most recent Alain Resnais film, released when he was 84, was on TV today so I rewatched it. He does have a film coming out this year in France. This is an adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn's 2004 play Private Fears in Public Places, transplanted from England to Paris. It follows six people whose lives intersect, but the common thread seems to be the inability to find love or, perhaps more to the point, the lack of communication between loved ones over an extended period of time. All the characters in the film have either lost loved ones or are in the process of breaking up, trying to start over or maybe even trying to communicate with others in baffling ways.

For example, a major character, played by Sabine Azéma, is a devout Christian who tries to cheer up her coworker at a property rental agency, played by André Dussollier, by giving him VHS tapes of a TV show where personalities share their most-inspiring religious songs. The strange thing about these tapes is that somewhere before the show ends, what appears to be a homemade tape comes on showing what seems to be the Christian woman stripping (we can't see above her neck). There are several other offbeat tangents which the film pursues, so I'll let those be for now, at least until someone whats to discuss the film.

As far as Resnais' style is concerned, this film is far different than his earlier films in that he basically tells the story straightforwardly. He only uses one idiosyncratic editing technique throughout, and that's the superimposition of snow falling when he cuts from one story to the next. I can only recall two times where he edited between stories without the snow, and I haven't quite convinced myself that it may have been because there was a 98.6 degree connection between those scenes or characters. I'm not really sure if the snow connotes the coldness with which the characters struggle to find any human contact or warmth in their lives. The snow is actually seen to be falling on two characters having an indoor conversation during one of the more touching scenes near the end of the film. Watch it and tell me what you think it means and what the theme is.

All good people are asleep and dreaming.
The Shape of Water

Finally watched this Mark, not impressed.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Mon oncle d'Amérique (Alain Resnais, 1980)
Art House Rating

Resnais teamed up with scripter Jean Gruault (The Wild Child) and scientific author Henri Laborit to create one of his most open, inviting films with this, even though it's obviously a Resnais film and will ask its viewers to work to get the maximum pleasure from this film. After all, you don't want to watch a flick and become filled with anguish, do you? This movie begins with Laborit explaining how different forms of life survive and react, and eventually he settles on humans and the four basic ways their brains respond to stimuli, based on their upbringing and its relationship to societal standards. We then see the quick intercuting of the early life stories of the three central characters whose lives all eventually intersect in the late 1970s: the fiftyish politician Jean (Roger Pierre) who suffers from kidney stones, the 30-ish Communist actress Janine (Nicole Garcia), and the 40-ish accountant René (Gérard Depardieu) who strives to rise above his station.

Laborit quite convincingly explains that man's four basic "natural" responses are for survival (food, water, procreation), distinction between pleasure and pain, "fight or flight" (the need to conquer a foe or escape from a stronger one) and inhibition (which causes anguish which leads to many physical illnesses and perhaps even suicide). The intercutting between the three characters and Dr. Laborit lasts a full half hour, and it also includes all the characters' favorite film personalities; for Jean, it's Danielle Darrieux (Madame de... herself), for Janine, it's Jean Marais (Jean Cocteau's Beast and Orpheus), and for René, it's Jean Gabin. After the half hour, the film falls into a more "normal" pattern of editing and storytelling, although it's still unclear how the characters relate to each other and the scientist.

While this film maintains Resnais' preoccupation with how the past influences the present and future, it adds totally new elements to his filmography. The fact that a real scientist is basically describing the story of humankind through these three characters and utilizes rats in cages being indoctrinated to stimuli to show you how rats and humans behave similarly based on their education makes this film especially unique. For fans of David Lynch's Inland Empire, this film has humans with rat heads running around the real world and their homes (in the equivalent of their cages) more than 25 years earlier, plus there is a world-renowned scientist trying to explain why they do it! Resnais works in several new editorial techniques (yes, they reappear near the end of the film too!), but this film just seems much more human, and hard as it may be to believe, much more funny than the earlier films in this thread. Although the movie does get quite tragic near the end, it contains more outright laughs than any Resnais film I've seen, and it's often because Laborit is just so deadpan about what humans do and why they do it that when you see actors doing it to recreate how rats in cages act it's a bit weird but much more liberating and humorous. Mon oncle d'Amérique may well be the "lightest" Resnais film, and therefore, his open door to a new group of prospective fans. I recommend you check it out.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Muriel, or the Time of the Return (Alain Resnais, 1963)
Art House Rating

My first encounter with Muriel (and Resnais) came in the mid-1970s when I was a student at the University of California at Irvine. For some reason, this film annoyed me like almost no other. Resnais is a master at using editing in original ways and constructing intellectual puzzles out of his films, and this one really seemed almost beyond pretentious to me at the time. Today, I see the film as being much easier to grasp, although I still see it as a film for a highly-specialized audience. Resnais' trademark non-linear and even misleading editing is still on display here although the actual point of the film seems extremely clear to me now.

Muriel was Resnais' third film (after Hiroshima, mon amour and Last Year at Marienbad) in a trilogy which highlighted rememberances of the past, and in some ways, although it's the fuzziest in its specifics, it seems the clearest in its intentions. Basically, the film takes place in rebuilt (after WWII bombings) Boulogne, France, where Hélène (Delphine Seyrig, made up to look about 20 years older than she was) greets her ex-lover Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Kérien) and his niece Françoise (Nita Klein) at the railway station and brings them back to her home/antique shop where Hélène's stepson Bernard (Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée) also lives. Both men have recently returned from Algeria although they never met each other there. This film is set during the Algerian Revolution, and Muriel is Bernard's fiancee who's never shown in the film.

Almost immediately, things prove to be not what they seem. Characters are living lies, they're mixing up their pasts with other characters, and they come together only to seem to try to drift even further apart. Muriel does beg the question whether people on any level can really know each other and share themselves. This doesn't just mean lovers, but parents and their children and friends too. Muriel paints a picture of a world where people make overtures at closeness and changing their lives for the better, but in reality, they seem all too comfortable living in the past, even when that past is a complete fabrication. When you add in some of Resnais' machine-gun-paced editing, the film does become something of an endurance test to sit through with basically no traditional entertainment value at all, except for the possibility of unravelling a couple of mysteries involving characters' past (and present) lives. Even so, the acting is excellent and Resnais' first use of color in a feature film does pay off occasionally in a striking visual juxtaposition. I'll admit that I can get into the film better now because I have a good friend who basically lives in the past and keeps embroidering his past, even when he knows that I won't buy it. Of course, this friend is only trying to cover up his own insecurities and unhappiness with his present. In Muriel, Resnais is taking the entire country of France to task for their bloody participation in Algeria, and he's doing it almost subliminally since the French censors let him off scot free without forcing him to edit any of his film

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)
Art House Rating

I watched Last Year at Marienbad for the first time in three decades, so I have my own "new" way of interpreting it. It certainly does fit into Resnais' themes of time and rememberance, but I actually bought into looking at it as a horror film/ghost story/nightmare after only a few seconds of the funereal organ score by Francis Seyrig (the lead actress's brother). I decided that was an appropriate reaction, especially when all the tracking shots down the hallways at the beginning reminded me of The Shining which came out 19 years later. Besides that, the "hotel" reminds me of both the Overlook (or Hearst Castle) and its maze. Also, the narration by the persistent "suitor" sounded like something which someone who knows he has no chance with a certain woman would say. Add in that "theatre performance" near the beginning and the ending and several other ambiguities, and you've got three-fourths of David Lynch's filmography from the last 14 years.
Now, this is not to denigrate what Resnais accomplished here. It's just that I know several filmwatchers, including several of the sophisticated variety, who write this film off as just too "into itself" to care about or try to decipher in the usual ways. It feels right to me to look at the film as a ghost story since nobody in the film seems to be living, no matter how much the narrator wants one to live. If it's not a ghost story, then perhaps it's someone's descent into mental illness. I have a very close friend who talks a lot like the narrator in this film. He repeats himself over and over, and no matter how often he's contradicted, he tries to correct people who understand the situation even better than he does. Then, when things don't seem to be going "his way", he changes the "facts" and "details" with new info which he had somehow forgotten for 25 years. I'm not saying that this friend is truly insane, but if he were forced to undergo some kind of standard test, I fear that he would not pass it because he is in denial to just so many things that I'm not sure that he can turn himself off when necessary. He really reminded me of the narrator here; someone who has been jilted and will not take no for an answer (whether about love, family, career, etc.)

Some of the surrealistic flourishes seem to work better when you think of them as either being interpreted by "people" who are in denial about their state of either life or sanity. For example, it would make sense inside the narrator's head that the woman wanted him so we do get a scene (repeatedly) where she seems to be welcoming him. It's also strange that is the scene where he actually denies forcing himself on her. On the other hand, the only times I recall those two individuals touching was when they were dancing (a la a "Dance Macabre") and when he cornered her and she put her hand to his mouth so as to tell him not to speak (I'm sure there were more but you see? memory). But the other man, the Gamester, he touches her head while she's on her bed and seems far more comfortable with her in an intimate situation.
[I don't really want to rehash all the old "interpretations" now, but maybe after I rewatch it, I can think about those. However, I feel that I'm more likely to latch onto my own horror flick interpretation. Resnais had already made Night and Fog and Hiroshima mon amour which were both horrific. There is no hint of romance or passion in Night and Fog while Hiroshima is mostly passion. Last Year at Marienbad is certainly 99% devoid of passion, so even if you don't want to interpret it as a horror film, a ghost story or even a vampire film (there are some interesting visuals involving the sun and the night at the same time and a neat strip of overdeveloped film during a long track down a hallway), it may be a film which you find difficult to warm up to. However, I can understand why it's become a lionized iconic puzzle just as much as I can see why many people would think it was boringly unwatchable. It is rather short though and looking at how influential I now see it to be in my own certain quirky ways, I can see how some people could also fluctuate back and forth between the two "extreme" positions.

Probably - also Only the Brave is for you and your wife.
She actually asked me to put that on our watchlist but I ignored her. I didn’t know what it was until I just looked it up. We will watch it.

She actually asked me to put that on our watchlist but I ignored her. I didn’t know what it was until I just looked it up. We will watch it.
Only the Brave, it's looks good and probably heart breaking, as it's based on the true and sad incident. I have to see that one, it's on my watch list.

Mark, I'm gonna request The Station Agent for your consideration to review.
That looks real good too, I'm going to have to hang out here more often

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

A Covenant with Death (Lamont Johnson, 1967)

A Killer Among Us (Bradley Walsh, 2012)
One Minute Racist (Ian Danskin, Alan Peterson & Caveh Zahudi, 2007)

Selma, Lord, Selma (Charles Burnett, 1999)

True-life Disney film by Burnett depicts 1965 when Martin Luther King Jr. (Colin Powell) speaks at the church of Sheyann Webb (Jurnee Smollett), Rachel West (Stephanie Zandra Peyton) and their preacher Jonathan Daniels (Mackenzie Astin), who all join the marchers for civil rights.
Narcissus (Norman McLaren, 1983)

Stranger in the House (Allan Harmon, 2016)
Sister Cities (Sean Hanish, 2016)

How to Survive a Plague (David France, 2012)

At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, ACT UP protesters and activists take on the lack of funding and slow, secretive drug research during the Reagan, H.W. Bush and Clinton Administrations
In Vanda’s Room (Pedro Costa, 2001)

Commandos Strike at Dawn (John Farrow, 1942)

Crime Doctor (Michael Gordon, 1943)
Project Nim (James Marsh, 2011)

Very social Nim Chimpsky had a varied life – living as an unsupervised child of a human family, learning sign language, being experimented on for human drug testing, sent to live alone at an “animal care facility” and being the center of a court case.
The Preacher's Sin aka The Husband’s Confession (Michelle Mower, 2015)
Barbary Coast Gent (Roy Del Ruth, 1944)

So You Want to Build a House (Richard Bare, 1948)

Debra Paget, for Example (Mark Rappaport, 2016)

Documentary of the short career of exotic-looking Colorado native, actress Debra Paget, who was having on-screen love affairs with much-older actors when she was a teenager. This scene is from Fritz Lang’s The Indian Tomb.
Damaged (Rick Bota, 2014)

A Surrogate's Nightmare (Vic Sarm, 2017)

Before Summer Ends (Maryam Goormaghtigh, 2017)

American Satan (Ash Avildsen, 2017)

A metal band, led by Johnny Faust (Andy Biersack), has to choose between the Devil (Malcolm McDowell) and an Angel (Bill Duke) [both in human form] to try to become successful.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Somewhat Secret (Sammy Lee, 1939)

Tomorrow Is Forever (Irving Pichel, 1946)
Running for Her Life aka Run to Me (Philippe Gagnon, 2016)
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (Ernst Lubitsch, 1938)

Oft-married millionaire businessman Gary Cooper agrees to marry Claudette Colbert and financially help her impoverished father (Edward Everett Horton), but the couple constantly argues about everything.
Patterns of Attraction (Grayson Stroud, 2014)

Victoria aka In Bed with Victoria (Justine Triet, 2016)

US Go Home (Claire Denis, 1994)

Most Beautiful Island (Ana Asensio, 2017)

Immigrant Ana Asensio has bad memories about an encounter she shared with other similar women on Manhattan.
Strictly G.I. (No Director Listed, 1943)
Day of Reckoning (Joel Novoa, 2016)

Bright Victory (Mark Robson, 1951)

Gook (Justin Chon, 2017)

L.A. suburb Paramount, 1992. Tweenager Simone Baker ditches school and spends most of her time with Korean American Justin Chon and his friend David So at his shoe store.
The Hasty Heart (Vincent Sherman, 1949)

The Eddy Duchin Story (George Sidney, 1956)

Two Wrongs (Tristen Dubois, 2015)

The Illumination (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1973)

Physicist Stanislaw Latallo has to choose between his love of science, his family and the reason for his and the universe’s existence.
Family of Lies (Jack Snyder, 2017)

My Brother’s Wedding (Charles Burnett, 1985)

The Wrong Student (David DeCoteau, 2017)

Downsizing (Alexander Payne, 2017)

A man (Matt Damon) who has recently undergone a lot lately is taken by a Vietnam refugee (Hong Chau) through a tunnel to where she lives and tries to help people.

People ask me to elaborate on films all the time, and if you look in here and Movie Tab II, I do, so ask away.

Unless I'm wrong, I think voice recognition would be more trouble than it's worth. I already have a lot to do every day (believe it or not)
Definitely not
Yeah, there's no body mutilation in it