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Sean's Film Diary 2018

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Jeanne Dielman
Chantal Akerman 1975


I was very prepared to say I felt about this film what everyone jokes about. Boooring, the movie is about nothing. I even had this super hilarious review all planned out where I just type a recreation from the scene in Seinfeld where George pitches a show about nothing. As much fun as that would have been for Mofos something kind of weird happened about an hour and a half into the film. It was time to take the dog for a quick walk and I was all alone in a quiet house. So I pause the film, put on socks and shoes, go get the dog leash, put it on the dog, walk to the door, go out into the yard...you get the picture. The thing was I felt very much in a daze and hyper aware of everything I was doing and every sound that was being made while I was doing it. The film had the exact intended effect on me. Maybe that wouldn't have happened if I had watched it when my boys are around, or if I watched it during the day with lights on. it happened though, and it was pretty cool. I felt totally immersed in the rest of the film and it made for a great viewing. Nothing happening became interesting and the ending is pretty great.

This is till far from a favorite. Despite the immersive nature of the main character and her perfectly framed and manicured apartment this isn't a movie that I will return to. Three and a half hours is the point but it is also a looong time to watch housework. I did appreciate the experience and the craftsmanship though and that will probably be enough to get a vote from me on the upcoming women's director list.

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Still need to explore Akerman. I don't really get bored by movies anymore, so I can't see myself disliking Dielman on that front.



Missed Last Flag Flying and Battle of the Sexes. Was actually going to message you asking a bunch of questions about Battle of the Sexes but i decided there's no point as i'm not going to watch it anytime soon. Pretty much agreed with Last Flag Flying. Bottom tier Linklater but still solid and the three main actors have a good dynamic going.



Missed Last Flag Flying and Battle of the Sexes. Was actually going to message you asking a bunch of questions about Battle of the Sexes but i decided there's no point as i'm not going to watch it anytime soon. Pretty much agreed with Last Flag Flying. Bottom tier Linklater but still solid and the three main actors have a good dynamic going.
Now you have me intrigued about the questions.



Now you have me intrigued about the questions.
It was just: is Emma Stone super jarring in it whether she's good or not? Hate being mean about people's looks and BJK certainly wasn't ugly, but that's probably the most insane hollywood casting in recent memory to me. Plus they've just gave her glasses, that's it! Knowing BJK well and having watched a bunch of her matches and stuff i don't think i'd be able to get past that.

Also is this a straight female empowerment story or are the match fixing allegations touched on? Before looking into those i thought it was most likely sexism but there does seem to be some backing to them, not totally convinced but i'd like if it was at least mentioned. Outside of the actual claims Riggs destroying Court (who i think was significantly better than BJK) and what that nobody Karsten Braasch did to the Williams Sisters gives me pause. Plus my knowledge of mob sports fixing and the size of this event, makes me see it as something they'd definitely be interested in fixing.

There was other stuff can't even remember what now.



Black Panther
Ryan Coogler 2017


There is a lot to break down with this one but frankly it is all being said by people a lot smarter than me and my two cents feels worth less than that. It is unique in all the ways people are saying and I certainly respect it for that. At the end of the day though I don't really watch these films for the thematic elements and because of the large bombastic nature of Marvel films the themes aren't going to ring very true for me. I want to take my kids or go with my buddy and be entertained. Black Panther work on that level and ends up falling somewhere in the middle of the Marvel pack.

My opinion of the film can pretty much be summed up in Michael B Jordan's performance. I felt the way about him in this film as I usually do. He is absolutely a magnetic presence at times and I find him to be an exciting young actor. Then at other times I wonder how he ever got a job acting in big time films. These moments usually are when he is trying to act tough. There is something about the way his demeanor turns in these moments that are cringe worthy for me.

That's how I felt with the film as a whole. There were times when I thought this was one of the best looking CGI filled blockbusters I had ever seen: The after life, waterfall rituals and fights, and Korean car chase. Then there were times when I thought I was in a Transformers flick except for not as good looking: Very dark first act, and the ridiculous over blown third act complete with a horrible train sequence and arcade like rhinos. I just hated the third act but what else is new.

Notably missing from the latest Marvel installment for me was the humor. They tried at points but the film just wasn't funny. I don't find it to be the fault of the actors. Despite my luke warm feeling on Jordan I pretty much loved everyone else not named Freeman. Boseman especially deserves a call out. I think he is as good as anyone playing an Avenger character. He and the super cool suit he comes equipped with are a welcome addition to which once again is feeling like an over crowded cast. I will go into the Infinity Stone film wondering how they are going to juggle all these characters. I am sure they will and look forward to it.

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Three quick hits from this week:

Carnal Knowledge
Mike Nichols 1971


A new favorite so I was hoping I would have a bit more to say about it. I just love everything about it. The dialogue is so sharp and funny. Great performances, but especially from Nicholson which is no surprise. The dialogue all centers around sex but like Nichols other great films it is about our inability to be content and happy. The characters are always searching for their next conquest where they will again fall into unhappiness because of their superficial views on women and relationships. Simple them but one I always respond to well when the characters are done well. Fantastic film.



Amarcord
Federico Fellini 1973


Fun film. I love the shaggy dog style to a coming of age story. Some parts just work better than others and I would be lying if I didn't say there are parts where I just checked out because it wasn't interesting.



Blow-Up
Michelangelo Antonioni 1966


What the hell have I become I ask myself when I watch a movie and want to tell people I love the part where the protagonist buys a propeller and when some mimes play tennis. I did love those scenes though and I think what I loved about this speaks to how perfect the technical aspects of the film are. I say that because the mystery aspect was pretty insignificant and anytime the main character was speaking it was pretty obvious how poor of an actor he was. Anyway, not a perfect film but one that will stick with me because of the visuals and has me interested in more Antonioni. Couldn't help but think of the context of this film after the year we have had with the #metoo movement.




Three great films right there. As you may know, Carnal Knowledge is one of my absolute favorite films. Glad you liked it as much as I do!

This is what I wrote about it back in 2014:

43. Carnal Knowledge (1971)



Let's make it a Jack Nicholson double feature!

Carnal Knowledge came out a year after Jack Nicholson's great succes with Five Easy Pieces. The film is directed by one of the most promising young directors of that time, Mike Nichols (who had great succeses with The Graduate and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? before this).
Carnal Knowledge is not as highly regarded as Five Easy Pieces or Mike Nichols' two first feature films these days, but it's still a very respected movie. The reason why it's often overlooked is probably because the film feels less like a fluent "whole". This movie explores a larger time field. We have Jack and Art in college in the beginning and we slowly see them developing into middle-aged men. Another reason could be the "suspension of disbelief" aspect. We're not only asked to imagine Jack Nicholsons and Art Garfunkel as college boys, but we also have to believe that Jack Nicholson is a virgin at the beginning of the film!
Anyway, those minor issues didn't bother me at all. I kind of love them even. It does not stand in the way from enjoying the darkly profound and hugely entertaining story that's being told.



As I already said, the film follows two young guys growing into mature men. Again, very much like Five Easy Pieces, the film is not trying to send some sort of message. The purpose of this film is showing us a cynical observation of certain aspects of the human condition. This film shows us some insightful stuff about the male psyche, about cruel sexual politics, about not being able to fully commit to someone and about the descent to meaningless, Epicurean and immoral behavior, caused by a man's utter frustration with himself and with the opposite sex he completely fails to fully understand.

I'm also a big fan of Mike Nichols' directing. He's always so creative and playful (especially in his earlier days), but at the same time it's obvious that he's in complete control of what he's doing. At his best, he can be a true visual poet and this film definitely has moments that show him at the top of his game.
Besides my love for the visual aspect of this film, I also love the script and of course the brilliant performances. There are four main players in this film and a couple of minor characters and I think they all did a great job.
The two most notable performances are from Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret (God, I love that woman). Jack simply goes "all-in" and shows off how well (and extreme) he can play the egotistical, screaming douchebag, while Ann-Margret pulls off being vulnerable, seductive, despicable, sweet and absolutely gorgeous all at the same time! They are both fantastic to look at in this film and it's no wonder that the most widely popular scene from this film is an explosive piece of hugely entertaining acting between the two of them in a bedroom.


Acting doesn't get much more entertaining than in this long bedroom scene.

The most important factor of my love for this film, is something completely different, though. It's something that even the most perfectly constructed films very often lack. It's a very peculiar and above all, very personal quality that only a few films really have. The true reason why this film is one of my personal favorites is because I have the feeling that it's telling something sincere, something true. I really connected with this film's story and especially Jack Nicholson's character. I felt like a dark piece of my own mind was being exposed. The film doesn't particularly offer any satisfying answers concerning the character's issues and the different aspects of the human condition that are being observed, but that's not the point of this film anyway. The clever mocking of the issues that are being adressed and the cynical and darkly comical way the film tackles and explores its themes, are more than enough to make this a very enrichening and personal experience for me.
The combination of the self-awareness the story provokes and the sheer enjoyment I have when watching the film, makes for a very intense viewing every time I see it! I passionately LOVE this picture.


Jonathan (Jack), a mysoginistic and rotten character showcases all the so-called female "ballbusters" of his past in a slideshow...
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Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2019



Three great films right there. As you may know, Carnal Knowledge is one of my absolute favorite films. Glad you liked it as much as I do!

This is what I wrote about it back in 2014:
Nice review Cob. I did remember that you loved it. Surprised it doesn't get more love. I get too hung up on dialouge I suppose. I can't help it though, I adore a sharp script. This film has some great framing as well. Very good music too.



Nice review Cob. I did remember that you loved it. Surprised it doesn't get more love. I get too hung up on dialouge I suppose. I can't help it though, I adore a sharp script. This film has some great framing as well. Very good music too.
Yeah, it pretty much has it all. It's close to a perfect film for me. Extremely memorable and rewatchable as well.



Never thought of David Hemmings as a lousy actor.
I didn't recognize him but see I have seen him a few things. He was fine till he opened his mouth.



Mustang
Denis Gamez Erguven 2015


Hard not to watch this and call it a very effective film. It's mind numbing enough to think that lots of cultures used to treat their children and women this way. Way more so when you consider how much of this still goes on. Humans still have a hard time walking that line between instilling values into our young and straight out forcing what we think they should want down their throat. Here it is straight up abuse and seems to be acceptable to most of the culture. Very sad.

I don't really have any problems with the film but my enjoyment was a bit hindered by the fact that I feel like I have seen this story in some form many times before and the way it was presented didn't feel unique. Besides the youngest, the other four girls did not feel distinct and this presented problems at certain points. Especially when they started to be married off.



It Come At Night
Trey Edward Shults 2017


I enjoyed my viewing but this was a pretty run of the mill film for me. I kind of get doing an apocalyptic film and not wanting to over plot it. There is a difference between too much plot and none though and this film goes too far in the other direction. So much so that there isn't really anything to latch on to. The visuals are pretty great. I love the house and how Shults's camera is so tight we have to kind of map out the lay out in our mind. The camera shots through the narrow corridors and how those are lit are the best part of the film for me. I love the contrast of the white dog against how dark everything else is in the film as well. Didn't get enough of that.

Recommend this to film fans for its technique and to those that enjoy a visual tone poem. Not something I will come back to though.




Annihilation
Alex Garland 2018


Such a pleasant surprise and great watch in the theater. Garland is joining Villeneuve as the can't miss sci-fi directors currently working. Certain directors just know how to work in that aesthetic and walk the tightrope between reality and fantasy. After his last two films I would put Garland in that class.

Hard to say anything about this film that hasn't been said but I will add my voice to those who are appreciating the nods to sci-fi classics while still somehow feeling like a wholly unique vision.

I absolutely love the look of this film. The creatures created and the rainbow hue that runs throughout the entire film are beautiful to look at but Garland also understands not to give us too much of a good thing. I think the restraint he shows within this genre can't be over stated and is one of the things that makes him such a great director.

I can see why people have problems with the film. Like almost any fantasy film if you start pulling at certain plot threads the whole thing will quickly unravel. I simply enjoyed this film so much that I have absolutely no desire to do that and have been a bit frustrated when the conversations around this film turn to that.

Just enjoy this film for the unique and heart pounding ride that it is.




It's my favorite of 2018!!! Oh wait, the only one I've seen



More 2017 catch up quick hits

Wonder
Stephen Chbosky 2017


Yeah it's as manipulative as it could possibly be but this kind of melodrama just work on me like a...wonder.



The Square
Ruben Ostlund 2017


I think I am in the minority in liking this quite a bit more than Force Majeure. My kind of social commentary as it is very thought provoking and just kind of presents aspects of human nature in a matter of fact way. Definitely for the viewer to fill in the blanks. The scene that has appeared on most of the marketing is the tell tale one for the movie. If you find it pompous and hate it you probably aren't on board with the film. If you find it frustrating in the best possible way, I think you will. Just outside my top 10.



LA 92
Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin 2017


Best doc I have seen in a very long time. All footage and editing, absolutely no talking heads. Masterfully done. Two of my favorite docs ever by these two fellas. Must watch for fans of the medium.




[I don't really have any problems with the film but my enjoyment was a bit hindered by the fact that I feel like I have seen this story in some form many times before
Can i ask which films you are talking about here?

LA 92
Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin 2017


Best doc I have seen in a very long time. All footage and editing, absolutely no talking heads. Masterfully done. Two of my favorite docs ever by these two fellas. Must watch for fans of the medium.

My man