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aronisred's Avatar
outrageous film reviewer
Ghostwriter



A ghostwriter for a controversial ex-prime minister gets mixed up with his shady political dealings and the people close to him.

This is the first Roman Polanski movie since Chinatown that felt like its in his wheelhouse. Auteur theory is something very very magical. It is the stuff of legend in the art of film making. Because a lot of things have to go right for something like that to work. A director considered an auteur knows what he wants from each and every department. His style is as important as the script of the movie. He needs to be able to communicate what he wants from cinematographer, editing and other major departments to fit his style. So, as soon as I noticed the uneasiness in the air I knew I was in for a unique film experience.

Majority of the movie takes place in a remote countryside in US. But since Polanski can't enter US, he shot it in Europe and it feels like something is a bit off. But surprisingly that works to the film's advantage. Seeing all these places that doesn't look like american locations but we are told its in america makes for a pretty weird experience while watching the movie. We follow a ghostwriter who accepts the assignment to work on an ex-prime minister's autobiography for a London publisher. He is replacing his deceased predecessor. The movie keeps audience at the same level as the protagonist. So we know what he knows when he knows about it. As he accepts the job he starts noticing weird occurrences happening around and to him. He gets mugged and robbed. While on his way to US he finds out that the ex-PM is being investigated for war crimes involving CIA torture. Tempted by the financial offer he decides to go anyway and be done with it. The performance of Ewan McGregor is pretty bland. You never get a sense of who he is and what his personality is. He might just be a curious nerd. But since it's an imaginary character based on the novel, actor should have taken it into more expressive territory. When you are playing someone like Dick Cheney, you can't really make him super expressive because everyone knows how he is and making him something he is not will never work. So he goes to this vacation spot of ex-PM in remote US to read the draft written by his predecessor and finish the book using it.

The atmosphere of the US location is quite fascinating. There are 4 or 5 locations on the whole. You got the house, a water crossing harbor with a ferry, a motel nearby, a lodge by the harbor and the woods near the house. The mystery of it all stems from the unsettling nature of the death of the previous ghostwriter. The replacement catches up with his work and continues getting to the heart of who the prime minister was during his life. While all this is happening, the outrage and actions of the prime minister when he was power comes under scrutiny as well as push by government officials to try him for his crimes. What the ghost writer doesn't know is how far his predecessor has come in his unearthing of the life of PM while researching for the book. So through a combination of his predecessor's work and his own digging, Ewan McGregor comes to a conclusion that his college buddy might have been working for undercover CIA even before joining the college. That ratchets up the thrill a notch.

The movie has 2 spectacular sequences going for it. These sequences prove why roman Polanski is a great director. Both are not exactly wordy sequences but the framing of those sequences and the atmospheric nature of them kinda makes them stand out. One involves the protagonist escaping 2 killers sent after him after his encounter with a culprit. The escape is from a ferry. So he gets on the ferry in his car and gets off it as it is about to leave the harbor there by getting rid of the killers on the ferry. That is such a clever Roman Polanski sequence. Because the danger is there but it is subtle danger. Those guys are going to kill him if he stayed on the ferry. Even after getting off the ferry the sequence sustains the eeriness. The whole architecture of the ferry and its harbor quite brilliantly fits into the tone of the film. The protagonist doesn't try to leave the harbor because he knows that the ferry is not going to turn around and the killers will have to take the trip of ferry. So he just stays in this eerie lodge which is by the harbor and it's in of itself is very creepy. The second sequence involves the house itself. It is a very strange house with wind blowing all the time and with the increasing scrutiny on the ex-PM , protestors started waiting outside the gate of the compound. This movie uniquely shows how it feels like to be be in the vicinity of a politician under immense scrutiny.As the ghost writer makes contact with the ex colleague of the ex-PM, who is still a government official trying to bring him to justice, he is tasked with getting confession from the man himself and in the process of doing so it appears that things appear not to be what they seem. Following the assassination of ex-PM and during the unveiling of his book that is finished by the ghost writer himself, he uncovers that the wife of ex-PM herself is a CIA recruit.

What the movie does so well is it shows how dangerous people in extremely high positions can be. They play mind games all the time to control and manipulate others to get them to do what they want. This ghost writer is way out of his depth from the get go. Even before he set foot on American soil he is out of his depth. He has been seeing warning signs that are telling him to not take the job. The thing is, ex-PM's wife and his CIA buddy don't want any writer to get close to the truth. When the first writer was doing his research, he came way too close to the truth and was killed by them. All this is unbeknownst to the ex-PM of course. But since he wants to finish the book, he hires the next guy to finish the book. But what they don't know is that the previous writer hid some sensitive information in the house and the new ghost writer catches wind of that. It's basically powerful people that are too big to get caught are too willfully careless to tie up the loose ends and the new writer catches wind of one of such ends. The whole time his focus was on the CIA pal of ex-PM but once he catches wind of the information that the secret in the manuscript is in "the beginnings" and that was the reason the script was not allowed to leave the house, he puts the puzzle pieces together and uncovers the truth.

The movie adds an extra level of sinister element to it all. Because, from the get go we have a layer of sinisterness to the whole setting that we see through the fresh eyes of the ghost writer. Our ex-PM is believed to have been willfully involved in US torture program. So the ghost writer is sitting and talking to a guy who seem to have enough proof against him to convict him of war crimes. All this adds certain uneasiness to the conversation and as the resident writer he unwittingly becomes an ally to the ex-PM. But, the moment he gets close to his college buddy who happens to be a CIA operative even before he joined the college it starts turning dark and with final revelation that the wife herself was recruited by CIA before she met ex-PM decades ago makes it pitch black. Because the implications of these findings point to something far more nefarious than anyone could imagine. So, have they been brainwashing the prime minister from his college days to make him run for public service and with the help of US government he moves up the political ranks and once he becomes PM he supports US in all their political policies including the torture program ? is he the Manchurian candidate of US government ? because all this leads to an explosive political scandal of sinister proportions almost to the point of fantasy and unbelievable.I mean, who would believe someone could be manipulated for decades on end ? was he brain washed by his wife ? was she able to manipulate him for so long in such serious decision making processes ? So all the sinisterness is captured in the movie through its style and tone. It is one of its kind.

The movie's flaws are mainly with Ewan McGregor's character portrayal and his character's decisions. He takes no measures in hiding his tracks when he veers of-course. A lot of times in the movie he does something that could potentially puts him in harms way , yet he simply is not careful enough. At one point he steels the manuscript and at some other point he just gives away some information he knows about the situation to the wife or to the ex-PM himself and thats too risky and dumb. All this makes the film good but not great. But man can Polanski direct ! you see this movie and then see china town or ninth gate with Johnny Depp and you can feel the directorial flair.



Too much of a backlog to write up comments, so here we go:

A Star is Born (William A. Wellman, 1937)


Steamboat Bill Jr. (Buster Keaton and Charles Reisner, 1928)


Paper Moon (Peter Bogdanovich, 1973)


Late Spring (Yasujirô Ozu, 1949)


The Image Book (Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)


Apache (Robert Aldrich, 1954)


A Woman Under The Influence (John Cassevetes, 1974)


Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)


BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)


L'Animale (Katharina Mückstein, 2018)


Hold the Dark (Jeremy Saulnier, 2018)


Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)


Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier, 2013)


Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)


Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)


The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)


Je vous salue Sarajevo (Jean-Luc Godard, 1993)


Renzo Piano: The Architect of Light (Carlos Saura, 2018)


Hedgehog in the Fog (Yuriy Norshteyn 1975)


Akira (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988)


Cléo from 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962)


Harakiri (Masaki Kobayashi, 1962)


Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018)


I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)


Buchanan Rides Alone (Budd Boetticher, 1958)


The American Friend (Wim Wenders, 1977)


Yourself and Yours (Hong San-soo, 2016)


The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 1960)


A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1946)


Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947)


The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943)


Under The Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2018)
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Too much of a backlog to write up comments, so here we go:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)


The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)


I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
Any chance of a few comments about the rating of these films. A lot lower than I would expect from you. Why didn't these films work for you or what didn't you like about them?
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5-time MoFo Award winner.



Any chance of a few comments about the rating of these films. A lot lower than I would expect from you. Why didn't these films work for you or what didn't you like about them?
I would like to hear more as well. Maybe also on Annihilation. Personally I really enjoyed that too.

But I mean, I save 1/5 for some true ****fests. I’m very surprised to see The Favourite receive such a low rating from a film lover. Not that the latter makes it not-okay to dislike it, but I just thought maybe one would at least see stuff others don’t. Really can’t see what would make The Favourite that bad. The acting and cinematography would take it away from that 1 star alone imo.

I didn’t really like Yorgos’ past films too much, but this one I liked much more.



Any chance of a few comments about the rating of these films. A lot lower than I would expect from you. Why didn't these films work for you or what didn't you like about them?
I actually wrote up short thoughts on these three films already, so quite convenient for your question

I, Daniel Blake

Whilst I deeply sympathise with Loach's relevant attack on the conditions of the welfare state within my country, I cannot lie and say that I was impressed with this film. Deeply lacking any type of structure or language, instead choosing to capture scenes that would normally be unique and attempting to string them together into a narrative, desperately lacking in focus and unfortunately feeling scattered.

I just felt like it was more a collection of scenes and thoughts, and the ending felt too forced too. I am a proud Labour member so I keep my thoughts on this one too myself normally

The Favourite

Lanthimos continues his mission to repulse the audience through the degradation of his actors. I am unsure why his vulgar images are being lapped up by critics, who like him seem to have a propensity for weirdness without actually saying much. The scene where a group of men pelt a naked man with tomatoes until he eventually falls over felt like an appropriate analogy for his enjoyment of human suffering.

I hated Dogtooth too and don't like these weird films, filled with humiliation and weird things, shot in what the director thinks is an "arty" style.

Roma

When film works best, it utilises all its the tools available to its disposal such as the editing and mise-en-scene, combining them to create a whole that can convey a story in a language only cinema can. Here the technical choices, long takes and detailed crowds seem designed to impress rather than used to best tell the story. As a result I was left cold and felt not immersed.

The whole thing felt detached and emotionally soulless, similar to Dogtooth in a way where its style over substance. I just feel like the more I watch older films, say the Powell & Pressburger ones, everything is just utilised so well. The editing, the formal construction of everything, they're proper good old stories well told making actual use of the format they're created in. New films just look nice and realistic/arty and tackle sensitive or controversial themes but I don't like them. I actually like Cuaron's other films so this is a bit of a surprise, I thought his Harry Potter and Gravity were more immersive and the form served the stories and immersed you in the worlds. L'Animale was another one actually, some nice photography and tackles unconventional themes, but in the end nothing except a really pretentious signing scene.



I would like to hear more as well. Maybe also on Annihilation. Personally I really enjoyed that too.

But I mean, I save 1/5 for some true ****fests. I’m very surprised to see The Favourite receive such a low rating from a film lover. Not that the latter makes it not-okay to dislike it, but I just thought maybe one would at least see stuff others don’t. Really can’t see what would make The Favourite that bad. The acting and cinematography would take it away from that 1 star alone imo.

I didn’t really like Yorgos’ past films too much, but this one I liked much more.
When I saw Annihilation I actually thought it was okay, maybe a 2.5, but I lowered it after thinking some more. I wrote this little bit when I saw it.

Although easily compared to the stories of Tarkovsky or the horror of Carpenter, I was more often reminded of the disturbing visceral feeling from the works of Cronenberg. The film has a number of thought provoking sequences that linger with you long after viewing. Its mixture of styles feel muddled, I would have preferred a more focussed, reflective feel utilising the space/time for thought rather than action.

It just wish it had been more ambitious, maybe if it was longer and used the space to convey its thinking in a way that Tarkovsky does in Stalker or Solaris. Instead it seems stuck between that and a more popular appeal thriller/horror, maybe not the directors fault. It kept me interested anyway.

Also for The Favourite I didn't like the acting or cinematography either, sorry. For the acting, too much nowadays acting is about realistic performances and dedication the role rather than gravitas and what the character does combined with the other elements. I would rather watch 20 John Wayne films than most of the actors around today. It was just women abusing each other and being over the top to amuse audiences. The cinematography yes there were some pretty colours and lighting, but again the focus is on making it look pretty rather than actually using the cinematography to tell the story, I'm not sure how it aided the film in the way that cinematography is used in older films properly. Even the lesser known Western autuers that I watch recently like Boetticher completely understand cinematography and mise-en-scene.



When I saw Annihilation I actually thought it was okay, maybe a 2.5, but I lowered it after thinking some more. I wrote this little bit when I saw it.

Although easily compared to the stories of Tarkovsky or the horror of Carpenter, I was more often reminded of the disturbing visceral feeling from the works of Cronenberg. The film has a number of thought provoking sequences that linger with you long after viewing. Its mixture of styles feel muddled, I would have preferred a more focussed, reflective feel utilising the space/time for thought rather than action.

It just wish it had been more ambitious, maybe if it was longer and used the space to convey its thinking in a way that Tarkovsky does in Stalker or Solaris. Instead it seems stuck between that and a more popular appeal thriller/horror, maybe not the directors fault. It kept me interested anyway.

Also for The Favourite I didn't like the acting or cinematography either, sorry. For the acting, too much nowadays acting is about realistic performances and dedication the role rather than gravitas and what the character does combined with the other elements. I would rather watch 20 John Wayne films than most of the actors around today. It was just women abusing each other and being over the top to amuse audiences. The cinematography yes there were some pretty colours and lighting, but again the focus is on making it look pretty rather than actually using the cinematography to tell the story, I'm not sure how it aided the film in the way that cinematography is used in older films properly. Even the lesser known Western autuers that I watch recently like Boetticher completely understand cinematography and mise-en-scene.
Thanks for your answer.

While I appreciate the in-depth you actually went instead of a one-sentence reply, I’m not a huge fan of all the references you throw about. While I can appreciate a connection to me it just seems like name dropping. “This gangster drama was good but it was no Godfather!” While I can, to some extent, see the comparison to the mentioned directors and films in connection to Annihilation, I don’t think it makes too much sense to compare it to those.

I also think the over the top acting does fit with the story and subject in The Favourite, being a dark humored satirical style costume drama on that period and its politics and so on. I also think the cinematography do help tell the story and is like a character in the film. If I should go your route here, there’s a clear similarity to that of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Anyways, I also have a review up of The Favourite if you are interested. link in signature.



Thanks for your answer.

While I appreciate the in-depth you actually went instead of a one-sentence reply, I’m not a huge fan of all the references you throw about. While I can appreciate a connection to me it just seems like name dropping. “This gangster drama was good but it was no Godfather!” While I can, to some extent, see the comparison to the mentioned directors and films in connection to Annihilation, I don’t think it makes too much sense to compare it to those.

I also think the over the top acting does fit with the story and subject in The Favourite, being a dark humored satirical style costume drama on that period and its politics and so on. I also think the cinematography do help tell the story and is like a character in the film. If I should go your route here, there’s a clear similarity to that of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Anyways, I also have a review up of The Favourite if you are interested. link in signature.

But when I compare them to those films I don't expect them to be as good or regard every film as inferior to the leaders in its genre, but ith something like Annihilation I thought that the inspirations were so clear, that it was difficult not to draw comparisons in terms of style. The plot is a mashup of Stalker and Solaris, and then The Thing type creature stuff is thrown in. What Tarkovsky does is allow the landscape to act as reflections of the characters, and for the images to act as space for the viewer to think, draw conclusions about the ambiguities of the plot and so on. I enjoyed the mysterious stuff and ideas behind Garland's film, I just think that it could have been longer and more subdued, I thought that the message became a bit too forced and it's most thrilling horror-like themes although impressive didn't add too much to my experiene. Like I say, I thought it was a decent effort, it just didn't fully work for me.


I understand that, if you enjoy the sense of humour Lanthimos clearly has, then the acting and cinematography probably work for that. His actors are clearly dedicated and put in some fantastic work for what they are asked. I just really don't enjoy it, it's humiliating and not comfortable to watch for me.


To be honest it's been too long since I saw Barry Lyndon to comment too much on that, but from what I remember he uses all natural lighting, and I think I recall I enjoyed his choices because they gave the story a delicacy and warmth, and went with the story-being-told type narrative. Also in The Favourite I didn't enjoy the fish eye distorted camera angles, but again I guess if you enjoy the chaos of the film this probably adds to that too.



@Daniel M I’ll just add you instead of quoting.

This prolonged answer on Annihilation made more sense to me. And regarding Lanthimos, I actually dislike his style and humor. I didn’t click with The Lobster at all and though I moderately liked the darkness of Sacred Deer it still wasn’t quite for me. The Favourite has been the first one I liked of his...

Yeah, I do like what Lanthimos does with The Favourite and I can understand one not doing so. I just that the 1 star seemed more extreme than the wide angles of the cinematography.

Anyways, thanks for your very sober answers. It often rare you can disagree and engage in a discussion without someone getting ticked.

- oh, and a last note just for information: Kubrick did use natural lighting for most of the film but it’s a common mistake that it was purely natural light. There was used some in a few scenes. Actually you can pause the film at one point and spot the edge of a big lamp outside a window.



Welcome to the human race...
I'm more bothered by the
for Akira.
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aronisred's Avatar
outrageous film reviewer
Panic Room



A single mom and her daughter move into a posh suburban house. On the first day at the new house they become subjects of a home invasion and robbery. The twist is they have an impenetrable panic room in the house.


It's a david fincher movie. So you know the kind of aesthetics and atmosphere that will be in the movie. Right from the title cards the movie is very much easing audience into its urban setting. Cast and crew names are displayed graphically across buildings in the city. Its a cool neat trick that works. Fincher's focuses mainly on the house for the whole movie. Pretty much from the first minute till the end of the movie it mostly takes place in the house. The advantage of doing that is to make audience feel the sense of home and a home invasion in the movie can feel immersive to the audience. The main objective of the robbers is to get stuff from a safe that is in the panic room and get out unnoticed. It has been there long before the new tenants moved in. One key mistake they make is they miscalculate when the new tenants are going to movie in. So a theft turns into a potential home invasion. In Addition to that fluid element in the plan there is also a new unpredictable member in the team who was invited to assist in the robbery by the leader.

The way to dissect this movie is to start talking about the two parties on the opposite ends of this conflict. First is the robbers. We don't get explicit background about them but we get insight into who they are by their actions and how they fit into robbery. Jared Leto is the cocky inexperienced member but since he planned the robbery, he is their self appointed leader. Forest Whitaker is the brains of the operation. He works for the security company that built the panic room in the house. Last but not least Dwight Yoakam. He is the most menacing of them all. Their dynamic is quite unique. It has shades of Breaking bad. Usually good/conflicted people resort to crimes out of desperation. But deep down these are good people. They are incapable to committing heinous crimes. But once in a while in the criminal world you find true evil and there are some people who are capable of horrible crimes and even the people who know them don't know how much they are capable of. It proves the saying that if you hand around in the wrong places long enough you will find what you are looking for. Throughout the movie we see Forest Whitaker opposing to the idea of committing any murders and just want to take the money and leave. Jared Leto to some extent is in a similar mindset. But Dwight Yoakam talks like them but he is a new level of evil and is capable of horrible crimes. So when the family locks themselves inside the panic room. His true evil progressively comes out.

The second team is the family consisting of Jodie Foster and her daughter. She is divorcee and is in mourning phase. But make no mistake , she is resourceful and strong. Throughout the movie she shows extraordinary courage and her actions feel true to her character.The movie revolves around the idea of who is in the panic room and who is outside. For most part the owners are in the room but two thirds of the way, the robbers get in there. How they get in and how they get out is the major part of the movie. The goal of the movie is to squeeze every bit of tension and thrill and scares from home invasion subgenre. The movie is unapologetic about that. The home owners are set up in such a way that they are fighters.
Every interaction with outside world is filled with thriller genre filmmaking elements. The movie is not going for any big ideas.

Speaking of how the movie is put together and the directorial style the main question would be , is it the work of an auteur or is it a well made high quality commercial movie. I would say it is a commercial movie. One of the reasons why Fincher didn't win best director for social network is because his style of filmmaking is highly stylized and heavily influenced by his music video directing background. Through his background he was able to develop a style that is designed to keep audience engaging. But the way he used this skill is to make movies about robbers, serial killers or perverted people is a bit of an easy route for a filmmaker. Every movie by him expect benjamin button is about horrible people. There is something inherently attractive to watch movies about people doing bad things so his style of filmmaking enhances that. As good as the movie is, it never feels like an uncompromising vision of a director. It feels like a well made movie that is intended to satisfy the audience and deliver on the promise of what they came to the movie theater for. So in a nutshell, the genre and type of scripts he work on makes his work easier and not the other way around. His movies are consistently good but they are good because all those movies are in his wheelhouse. Your work is cut by half if the script alone can hold audience interest. Mysteries are like that. Very easy for director to make the movie engaging. Many times in the movie I found myself noticing cliches in these kinds of movies.

Ultimately it is very suspenseful and thrilling movie. Two aspects in the movie that elevate it from the usual thrillers of this kind to the next level are the characterization of Dwight Yoakam which added a touch of pure evil to the movie and how they use her ex-husband in the plot.



Re-watch March 2019:


Zodiac 2007

Lawrence of Arabia 1962
The Blind Swordsman: Zatôichi 2003

The Leopard ‘Il gattopardo’ 1963
McCabe & Mrs. Miller 1971
The Outlaw Josey Wales 1976
Escape from Alcatraz 1979
Blow Out 1981
Angel Heart 1987

The Big Gundown ‘La resa dei conti’ 1966
High Plains Drifter 1973
Runaway Train 1985


Crying Freeman 1995


Brotherhood of the Wolf ‘Le Pacte des loups’ 2001

Logan’s Run 1976


First time viewings March 2019:
The Lives of Others 'Das Leben der Anderen' 2006
Army of Shadows ‘L'Armée des ombres’ 1969
Free Solo 2018
Zombieland 2009
Captain Marvel 2019

Total March viewings: 20
Total 2019 viewings: 69



March, 2019 movies watched-

Fright Night (1985) Repeat viewing
Just an old favorite that still holds up.

Dead of Night
British horror anthology that's probably better than what I got out of it.

The Skin I Live In (2011) Repeat viewing
Didn't like it before, love it now.

The Favourite (2018)
+ Plenty of good qualities but yet I found it dull.

The House that Jack Built (2018)
Could have been much better if less ambitious.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
- Could have been much better if more ambitious.

The Equalizer 2 (2018)
Ok at best.

The Dirt (2019)
I wouldn't say it was good but it was great for nostalgia.

Almost Human (1974)
- Italian crime film with a nasty exploitation feel.

Bird Box (2018)
+ I liked it blah blah blah.

Total March viewings-10
Total 2019 viewings-52

My lowest monthly total since being at Movie Forums.



Weird is relative.
Total March viewings-10
Total 2019 viewings-52

My lowest monthly total since being at Movie Forums.
Well hey, I only watched these movies in March:

Green Book (2018) -


Isn't it Romantic (2019) -


Aquaman (2018) -


For a total of 54 films viewed so far in 2019.

I took a break from movies because it was easier to keep up with TV shows as per my work schedule...



Thank God I‘m an atheist.
½

The Mustang (2019) Clermont-Tonnerre
This was a bit thin; it needed a little more to flesh out the story. I think going in, the audience could assume from the poster that the untameable Mustang is going to symbolize the captive man’s struggle, but in the end, the convict isn’t really worthy of the comparison.
http://www.impawards.com/2019/mustang_xlg.html

Torch Singer (1933) Hall & Somnes
A chorus girl is seduced and abandoned and left an unwanted pregnancy. She tries to make it on her own but finally has to give her baby up for adoption than goes on to become a notorious club singer by night and the host for a children’s radio program by day. Things come together a little too neatly for the happy (?) ending.

Hot Saturday (1932) Seiter
This is a small town where everyone spends the entire week talking about the only thing interesting in town, the Saturday night dance. This active rumor mill gleefully ruins the reputation of a young woman. There is some real cruelty that she has no longer has a future (no one will employ her) and has to leave town. This is so old; Archilbald Leach is still a supporting character.

Sabotage (1936) Hitchcock
The story has a quick pace, a random terrorist event occurs but the guy is already under surveillance by Scotland Yard and so the dragnet quickly intensifies around him and the cops begin to focus on his innocent (?) wife as an accomplice.

★★★

The Invitation (2013) Kusama
A get together in one of the gated big houses in the Hollywood hills seems to be a kind of high class Tupperware party from the outset, with the guests waiting for the moment when hosts finally pitch whatever it is they are selling. In addition, this is a kind of reunion of sorts; four or five years ago they were all the best of friends then everyone went their own separate way. I liked that our hero’s beard wasn’t a fashion statement, but a symbol of grief; he refuses make nice and join in on the festivities. He can’t get over the past as easily as they did.

Flight of the Innocent (1993) Carlei
A young boy growing up in the country becomes the only survivor when a rival gang wipes everyone out (the family business is kidnapping) to steal the huge ransom pay-out they have coming. He escapes death by hopping on a train to the big city and they pursue him like he is the final detail that will allow them to sleep peacefully at night. Too young to know better, he is a true innocent in this totally corrupt world.

Tess (1979) Polanski
I liked the detail in the costumes and the various work processes, circa 1880 before the machines took over. The length of the film works in the favor of Nastassja Kinski, at the beginning she is slightly uninvolved with the proceedings, but as the film goes on, this detachment begins to work in her favor, the longer her ordeal and more horrid it becomes, it mutates into a kind of heroic stoicism, No one could be this unlucky. Notice at the field dance at the beginning of the film, instead of passing to the left of the woman who invited him to dance, if Angel had turned right he would have clasped hands with Tess at the first scene, and their lives would have been completely different, they could have had a lifetime of happiness together.

Narrow Margin (1952) Fleishcher
There is a nice claustrophobic, hall of mirrors feel to this Film Noir where everyone on this bullet train isn’t quite who they pretend to be. The policeman escorting a witness to a big mafia trial on the west coast is immediately outed as such and the hitmen quickly shadow him trying to find where he stashed the witness. It takes him a little more time to identify the villains.

Almanac of Fall (1984) Tarr
A slow moving story revealed in drips of molasses with the random, one-sided conversations with a cast of strangers added incrementally. This is a strange place of emotional dependency and distance; strained intimacy with simmering threats of violence. The audience can’t quite figure out the power games until the end and even then the exact situation isn’t clear. For instance, about twenty minutes in, a name drops: Hédi but we don’t actually connect the name to a face for another forty minutes as the owner of this dilapidated mansion and everyone is guest in her home. Great cinematography; in a scene near the end it appears two separate monologues have been intercut, then the camera pulls back at the end to reveal them sitting around a small table and each character is lit completely differently.

Never Look Away — (2018) — Donnersmarck
This film explores the individual (an artist) trying to survive isms and group think during three different eras: Nazism, Communism, and (when he escapes to the west) Capitalism–although that will probably fly over the heads for a large part of the audience. The third act when he goes after (through endless trial and error) his visual trademark for his product line is the most boring part of the film. His father-in-law is a great sociopath (a cat with nine lives who always lands on his feet and prospers under any regime) but he is a truly amazing doctor who can read your health at a single glance. He notices his daughter’s pregnancy from the way she acts weeks before she even realizes it and he out-manoeuvres the young couple’s plans for future happiness. Our hero also has a skill; he reveals the hidden connections between things in his pictures.

Everybody knows — (2018) — Farhadi
When a guest is kidnapped during a wedding feast, the kidnappers warn that the victim will be simply killed if they go to the cops; but one brother-in-law sneaks in a personal acquaintance; a retired cop who knows the kidnap game inside and out. He always draws devastating conclusions from the evidence, like this can only be an inside job; so a hireling amongst them, or a friendly neighbour a few houses down is the scumbag responsible. What once was one big happy, extended family before the kidnapping is now torn apart by stewing resentments and unforgotten grudges. I liked that Penelope Cruz went without make-up for most of the film and that some connections between people are unbreakable.



Island of Terror (1966)

A scientist trying to devise the cure for cancer mistakenly creates rubbery bone sucking tentacle monsters. A known risk. It’s set in a quaint old small town, with some nice interiors and mystery music straight outta Scooby Doo. I appreciate that the bone sucking is accompanied by milkshake slurping sound effects.

The House That Jack Built (2018)

An atypical serial killer flick that lives off aptly awkward & uncomfortable scenarios. The transient diatribes about the nature of man are fairly pompous, but that fits the character. The tonal shift towards the end made me like it much more, though I could see it letting down those that just want a categorical killer thriller. I really could’ve done without the 10-minute tinnitus simulation though.

Keeping Mum (2005)

A family gets a new nanny with a penchant for revenge. Not quite as funny as I’d hoped from an Atkinson movie, but darker and more mysterious than expected.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)

Blind man and deaf man collectively ‘witness’ a murder. You can expect the blind man/deaf man scenarios to be beaten to death, but it’s still very funny and easy to watch.





Everything I've seen in 2019:
Green Book (Farrelly, 2018)-

The Favourite (Lanthimos, 2018)-

Black KkKlansman (Lee, 2018)-
-
Bird Box (Bier, 2018)-
-
Eastern Promises (Cronenberg, 2007)-

Loveless (Zvyagintsev, 2017)-
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Yeah, there's no body mutilation in it



Feature Films:



An Autumn Tale (1998) by Eric Rohmer
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Forbidden Games (1952) by René Clément




The Portrait of a Lady (1996) by Jane Campion




Loro (2018) by Paolo Sorrentino




Suspiria (2018) by Luca Guadagnino




Phantom Lady (1944) by Robert Siodmak




À nos amours (1983) by Maurice Pialat




Half Life in Fukushima (2016) by Mark Olexa and Francesca Scalisi




Blockade (2006) by Sergey Loznitsa




Bugsy Malone (1976) by Alan Parker




Life Is Sweet (1990) by Mike Leigh




Black Girl (1966) by Ousmane Sembene




Germany Year Zero (1948) by Roberto Rossellini
+



A Canterbury Tale (1944) by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
+



In My Room (2018) by Ulrich Köhler




Johnny Guitar (1954) by Nicholas Ray
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Im Lauf der Zeit (1976) by Wim Wenders



Short Films:

The Song of Assisi (1967) by Jonas Mekas
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The Song of Avila (1967) by Jonas Mekas


The Song of Moscow (1971) by Jonas Mekas
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The Song of Stockholm (1981) by Jonas Mekas


The Song of Italy (1967) by Jonas Mekas


Isabelle aux Dombes (1951) by Maurice Pialat
+

Congres Eucharistique Diocesain (1953) by Maurice Pialat


Oncle Yanco (1967) by Agnès Varda
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Happy Birthday to John (1997) by Jonas Mekas
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Après le bal (1897) by Georges Méliès


The Haunted Castle (1897) by George Albert Smith


A Trip to the Moon (1898) by by Georges Méliès
+

La tentation de Saint-Antoine (1898) by Georges Méliès


La colonne de feu (1899) by Georges Méliès


The Insects' Christmas (1913) by Wladyslaw Starewicz
+

The Cameraman's Revenge (1912) by Wladyslaw Starewicz


Métamorphoses (1912) by Segundo de Chomón


Liliya Belgii (1915) by Wladyslaw Starewicz
+

Christmas Eve (1913) by Wladyslaw Starewicz


Unsere Afrikareise (1966) by Peter Kubelka


Schwechater (1958) by Peter Kubelka



I'm not old, you're just 12.
Pet Sematary (2019) - I could write a full review of this one, and I probably will eventually. The new version of Stephen King's most horrific novel is dark, twisted, cruel, and provocative. I feel like they should have kept the plot twist firmly under wraps instead of showing it in the trailer, but it's still a kick in the teeth, emotionally. Possibly more so than if it had simply followed the novel word for word. It never pulls it's punches, instead letting you live in it's world of despair, grief, and unfathomable anger. If I have one complaint it's that the film's pace is a sprint instead of the dread inducing crawl it should be. But that's minor. It's much better than the original B-Movie shlockfest from 1989.
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"You, me, everyone...we are all made of star stuff." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

https://shawnsmovienight.blogspot.com/