Film Review by Sedai

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Well versed, strong hold on technical concepts, yet you don't dry out the film by talking about it... it has been quite some time since i have heard/read a film review that i could not only enjoy and agree with, but that really goes onto depth about the things that really make a film worth watching or skipping. You also avoid ruining the film by talking about it. Even the spoilers really didn't spoil much for me
In summation, I give your reviews two thumbs up, 4 stars... any way you wanna slice it. keep it up benny

A system of cells interlinked

I appreciate that people get something out of these. Perhaps I should take up reviewing again and write a few more!

Say..... who's Benny?

GREAT avatar, by the way. One of my favorite surreal flicks...
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell


I appreciate that people get something out of these. Perhaps I should take up reviewing again and write a few more!
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.

The City of Lost Children relates dreams to creativity, youth, and wonder.Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro did very good job. All the character of this film lovely. It's acceptable.

Registered User
Hello there Sedai,
Nice thread you have going on. Looking at post time it's 2004. You plan of doing more reviews anytime soon? I'd be interested.

Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
You plan of doing more reviews anytime soon? I'd be interested.
I'll second that. Wasn't even aware really that you used to write reviews but they're very good.

Touch of Evil twice so far, and I really liked it, but I think I need to watch it again. I also watched Chinatown twice this week, as well as some exerpts from Kiss Me Deadly, as I have become fascinated with some of the sequences in that film, such as the opening minutes and also the conversation between Hammer and his secretary(where she is on the checkered tile floor). This conversation is great, as it lays out what will become of the characters. The comment she makes "Your type are all the same, you find a bit of string and you follow it. The string leads to a rope, the rope leads to a noose, which ends up around your neck." Lines like this make this one of the best film noirs in my opinion.

Some notes on Kiss me Deadly:

Taking a page from Nicholas Christopher, a noir analyst I like, We find Hammer entangled with not one, but two destructive ladies (Femme Fatales) in this film. Mirroring Dante, Hammer finds his Circe(two of them!) and Beatrice in this hellish labyrinth of a film. Two sirens whose songs lament of but one thing, Hammer's bitter end. The Hammer of this film is ultra confident, possesed of almost precognitive detective ability. From intuitively finding a bomb in his car to knowing exactly which buttons to push when he is shaking somebody down, this man has his mission in site and he is dead set on solving the case. This being film noir, we the viewer know, he hasn't got a chance. For it isn't the faceless, syringe toting psychiatrist (another noir regular), or the slew of jacked up muscle he wades throgh that end up undoing our hero. In the end, it's Circe, opening Pandora's box, who not only does our hero in, but everyone else as well. The line mentioned above, about the string, is spoken as a grim warning to Hammer, spoken by the only beacon of hope or escape in the film. Unfortunately, the tether his secretary throws down to Hammer, only serves to entangle her in the twisted, ever growing web of deceit and death in which Hammer has become inextricably ensconsed.

So, to answer your question, these are the concepts and films the "soaking' referred to. I could go off on another tangent (fitting the Dante paradigm perfectly again, btw) about Chinatown, but maybe that is for another day. I will say thet one could watch Chinatown without sound, and still be blown away by the photography alone.



I have yet to find a copy of Diabolique to watch.
If you haven't allready seen it, I reccomend Farewell My Lovely with Robert Mitchum, as an exquisitely filmed noir movie. I found the cinematography and the overall mood ambience outstanding.
Wish I could find it on Dvd.

A system of cells interlinked
The Descent

Neil Marshall, 2005

I have seen this film several times, but when I watched it again this weekend, I really focused on allegory. Plenty has been said about this film in regards to acting (above average for a horror flick) and the ballsy, sort of bleak ending (if you watch the proper ending), but since this film has been around for a while, I will skip the usual angles for review and just chomp into the metaphors. This review is more for fans of the film who have already seen it, and not so much new viewers. If you haven't seen this film, dive in and return for some thoughts on what it all means.


The Descent doesn't do anything terribly original, to be sure, but at no point does it fall into any typical horror pitfalls, and the director keeps his hand off the usual tension release valves for the entire film. So, so many horrors will attempt to alleviate tension with a little comedy or a conversation here and there with a lighter tone. This film has a crushing grip that never relents, and a completely bleak ending that pulls no punches. It's also incredibly rich with subtext.

I guess it's fitting that the film is about subterranean concepts as allegory for grief and betrayal, because most horror flicks are concerned with surface issues: the way people are killed, the cute blonde bimbo that only seems to be able to scream and fall over, the underwear model stars, and convention, convention, convention.

Beneath the brutal horror is a heavy personal subtext of grief and loss, with the darkness and claustrophobia of the cave an inspired metaphor for the confusion and pain of Sarah. In grief, we tend to describe ourselves as "lost", "in the dark", "trapped", or "confused". We don't know which way is up. Here, that feeling is played out physically and quite viscerally in a creative and potent way.

The Descent is almost an Anti-horror film, systematically destroying horror convention while giving us a glimpse of what real horror is like. You think you are getting a conventional ending, with justice being finally dished out to the guilty, but no...the entire hero concept is sort of flipped on his head, and the main character goes almost directly from victim to antagonist in the final scene, with the film's alleged antagonist sliding in and out of heroism for almost the entire run time. Both character arcs are almost completely subverted by film's end, and the final confrontation is subtly acted and leaves the viewer feeling ambivalent about both characters; this fact alone pushes The Descent up above most horror films. I would go so far as to say the character Juno is one of the more complex characters in any horror film, ever.

Another convention that gets flipped is that all the horror stems from only good intentions. There is no malefic secret plan, no witch among the peasants bringing evil down; no clear-cut evil with designs on the other characters doom. Juno made bad calls in the past, but out of all the women, she wants Sarah to heal more than any of them, as her actions clearly show in the third reel. This is a woman almost completely sustained by guilt and remorse, driven to repent for her wrongs, even if it means talking crazy risks to do so. All these woman genuinely want to help Sarah - what horror flick has a set-up like that? Not many.

Speaking once again of convention: I know people are all aboard the good ship Joss Whedon lately, and his subverting of typical film stereotypes, especially in regards to females, but this is the most Whedon-esque of all, and Joss had nothing to do with this project! There is not one weak, two-dimensional lady in the entire caving group, and the sole male character is relegated to nothing but a back-story for why they are going on the trip in the first place. The ensemble cast is equally fleshed out, and each character has their own reasoning for going, be it complete altruism or shared guilt on some level or another for the events that shattered Sarah's life.

The sad thing is that they succeed, but they all pay with their lives. Sarah is finally able to face the ghost of her daughter with a smile, her pain conquered, her grief played out. Too bad she is stark raving mad by then, her descent into madness complete.

A system of cells interlinked
I hear ya.

When I first saw it, I really liked it, but I wasn't over the moon. On subsequent viewings, I discovered a lot more in regards to subtext, and I am all about subtext in film, lately.

Thanks for reading!

Also, next review will be a proper review, as this was more of a focus on the concepts behind the film, rather than a discussion of the film's merits and problems.

Women will be your undoing, Pépé
i liked your perspective on descent and just finished reading your review for Serenity, a movie i watch every couple of weeks or more and agree with your great review.
Gonna have to come back and read over the others. Kudos sedai!

Wow thats a great review brother, good job! Not only is that an incredible horror flick but a great movie to review given the abstract references. Really appreciated your insight on the metaphors among the protagonist, compared with her environment and the emotional disdain she felt with her friend. Great review man, keep them coming.

Great review on The Descent; I'd agree it's one of the better horror films of recent years. I liked it enough to play it for my wife, who also liked it. A solid 4 stars for me.

A system of cells interlinked

Lars von Trier, 2011

Some spoilers ahead!

Oh, Lars. As usual, I get through one of his films, and end up feeling extremely ambivalent about it. Clearly, the guy is talented and has a gift for cinematic vision. What I want to know is just exactly why this guy seems to hate everyone and everything so much.

This time around the subject isn't dancing in the dark or a gaggle of idiots. No, this time, we go straight for the apocalypse; a ridiculously popular and overused theme these days. Overused or no, I happen to be a fan of the premise, so after swearing off this director years ago, I decided to eat my hat, and watch Melancholia.

First off, this is in my opinion von Trier's visual masterpiece; he absolutely nails it in this regard. I watched the opening lietmotif about 20 times. It's brilliant. When studying art from hundreds of years ago, one notices the painters didn't attempt to emulate a photograph, which was hundreds of years away from being invented, they attempted to imitate life in motion. von Trier approaches this from the other side of the tracks - he takes film, and crushes it down to an almost motionless painting, and the results are breathtaking. He is clearly referencing the period in art that I mentioned above, as he recreates a famous painting or two in the opening prelude, and the entire film seems to be inspired by an etching from hundreds of years ago.

The rest of the film is shot wonderfully, as well. I really enjoyed watching an apocalypse story that didn't revolve around destructo-beams shattering monuments and landmarks while some schmuck in a station wagon tries to get his family to higher ground. In fact, the viewer isn't even sure the impending apocalypse is real until the third act, and even then, I am still not so sure... No news casts in the background, no alien ships full of lizard people descending on Washington, no eleventh-hour feats of daring do in space suits, just in time to save everyone and really is a unique film in the genre, and as I said earlier, it looks fantastic.

Alas...oh...alas...this is a Lars von Trier film, so all the true horror and catastrophe stem directly from the people in the film. I can state with certainly that Melancholia contains some of the worst people I have ever run across on film, the whole lot of them. Just when you think you find a decent human being in the proceedings, Lars pulls the rug out from under you and you get to watch these people gouge and claw at one another in the most subtle, horrible ways.

Yes Lars, we get it, the genius soul is the despondent soul, or so the etching would infer...but man, who wouldn't be a little down with a family like this? The main character herself is mewling quim, her mother a frigid crone, and her sister and her husband are the worst of the worst in smarmy elitists. I liked her father for a few minutes, but he turned out to be just as bad, if in a passive aggressive way.

They aren't all bad. Oh wait, yes they are, but sometimes it's fun to watch them be terrible to one another. There is a great scene during the wedding toast that had me crawling the walls, wanting to jump through the screen and execute a spinning wheel kick to various characters foreheads. They dice each other up something fierce, which is of course what you do on the alleged happiest day of your life, yes? If you are a nihilist, I mean.

Ah, happiness. This film deals with the concept of happiness, our endless chase to claim it, and the not-so-pleasing results we find in our search, especially when surrounded by the worst collection of people ever assembled. After wedding reception like this, I know I would be hoping for a giant planet to just smash right into Earth and destroy everything and everyone we have ever known, never to be seen again.

I must mention Kirsten Dunst's performance, because it is certainly her best. While some of actor's take their performance into parody, Dunst underplays her character in such a way that her inevitable slide into clinical depression is completely believable, and in some ways heart wrenching. Some might go after her a bit for whining when she clearly has everything, but I think that is the main point of the film, and clearly one of the themes of the etching that inspired the film: Happiness can elude us at the strangest times, and especially when it seems like we really, really should be happy - everything lines up, we have what we need and people who love us in our lives...but we just aren't happy. Dunst really nails it, even if I didn't really end up liking her character, in the end. This opinion stems from the fact that she played her so well, I think.

The philosophy of exactly why this is has been pondered for hundreds of years, since the time we started worrying about such things in relation to society, anyway. The winged genius on the boat in the etching seems to have everything he needs, and yet, his troubled brow is clear... Justine has everything she could ever want, except happiness. There is a ton of symbolism in this film, and the film makes little sense otherwise (and just don't pay any attention to the ridiculous science in the film) This fact bears down on her inexorably, like a gas giant hurtling through space on a collision course with her soul. There will be no escape. There will be no respite. This is a Lars von Trier film, after all.


As an aside - my girlfriend stood up and stormed out of the room about half way through this film, simply because she was physically angry at many of the characters for being so horrible! She skipped the last half of the film, yelling comments from across the house. Lars brings the fun, for real.

A system of cells interlinked
I do not blame you at all. It was sort of a chore to get through, and disliking the characters as much as i did, I wanted to rate this lower. Objectively, when considering technique and his bold strokes, I had to attach the current rating. Not sure I would sit through it again, though.

The People's Republic of Clogher
I keep saying every LvT film I watch will be my last, but I keep coming back.

Probably because, as you rightly say, he's got an eye that most of his peers would kill for. Some day, something might click for me but it hasn't yet.
"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how the Tatty 100 is done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Behan

Coincidentally I watched this film again two days ago and although I think I like this film a little bit more than you do (I give it a slightly higher score), I agree with your main criticism towards it, which is indeed the probably too one-sided pessimistic nihilism that seems to be overshadowing this film (and maybe all of Von Trier's films) and especially its characters.

I still think it's interestingly shown in the concept of this story, though, as depression, the one-sided look at unfurfilled happiness and the assumed meaninglessness of life are the main topics and ideas of this film. It works very well as a showcase of how melancholia works and how it can have such a negative impact on a human mind.

Von Trier exposes the mind of a melancholic in a sort of macroscopic way and uses the apocalypse as a symbol of the inevitable and ultimately approaching death that he displays as the cause, but also (strangely) the cure for the depressive state of mind. But at the same time, he perhaps fails to stay objective on a microscopic level and makes his characters and his 'society' too despicable to give the viewer any other choice than to follow his main philosophy while watching his films, which can be frustrating at times.

Great review!
Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2019