The 29th Hall of Fame

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Robot



A movie with an identity crisis for me. That Bollywood stuff just really turns me off from what exactly the film is trying to do. I feel like the film is a bit all over the place. The characters aren't too likeable either. The lady seems to have played games with both of them. I do like the basic concept of Robot gone mad but I think it went too far for there to be any sort of redemption value. There's some good visual stuff mixed in here, the mosquito scene sticks out as far as that, but then we got some Transformer robot building that just really doesn't work for me here. Too long of a film I'd say too. Let's just call it "not my cup of tea".

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I hope to have my review for The Year My Voice Broke ready next week.
Damn, PHOENIX, why did you do this to us? Was it something we said?




11 Foreign Language movies to go
I hope to have my review for The Year My Voice Broke ready next week.
Damn, PHOENIX, why did you do this to us? Was it something we said?

I'm looking forward to reading that review.
__________________
My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

Latest Review : Paper Moon (1973)



The trick is not minding
Started The Year my Voice Broke but I’m getting sleepy (not through boredom or anything), so I’m going to give it a proper watch tomorrow, when I’m less tired so I can give it the full attention it deserves.




The Promise (Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 1996)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've whined about not being into realism countless times and I was expecting to find this to be another perfectly fine film in that style that simply doesn't do anything for me but this does some things that brings it a little closer to my wheelhouse. Like most films I like, its the camerawork that kept me engaged and I really responded to how intimate it felt at points. I mean, I've seen plenty of movies use exclusively handheld cameras to try to get that feel before (to varying degrees of success) but this film really nails that approach. It follows the action really well but not well enough to feel overly rehearsed and lose the spontaneity and energy it has. It also finds itself some excellently framed shots without sacrificing the naturalistic vibe at all and whatever they shot it on has some lovely texture to it. Pacing-wise, I was initially worried that we had gotten to the titular promise far too early and that the film hadn't done enough dicking around yet but it quickly clicked that no, it makes way more sense to do the dicking around when the mc has that event weighing on their conscience. Umm yeah, nice, simple, straightforward, effective film and while its definitely not my cup of tea it is still a good cup of tea.



Vengeance is Mine (1979) -


This is kind of film I struggle to write much about as it left me quite emotionally cold. It's clearly a biography of sorts for the killer, but for much of it, I felt pretty disconnected from him. In spite of covering multiple events from his life (his early years growing up, the murders he committed near the start of the film, befriending a lawyer, his arrest for fraud, his marriage with Kazuko, and his relationship with Haru), the film had a somewhat aloof sense as it moved through these sequences. For instance, opening with the killer's capture, backtracking to a drawn out scene of two of his murders, and flashing back to his capture seemed like a weird choice of an introduction. Similarly, the scenes of him as a child left me particularly cold. The conflict with his wife and his relationship with Haru were among the better parts of the film, but even they felt double their runtime and left me distant as well. Maybe if the film focused more on the latter two sub-plots and less on the other parts I mentioned, I'd be more into the film. For what it's worth though, I found Haru's mother to be the most memorable character in this. Also, the acting is pretty good, the washed out color palette fits the bleak vibes of the film really well, and the final scene, while I'm not sure what it was going for, is pretty fun (I would've liked more scenes like that). Also, the film is technically well-made, so I wouldn't say it's a bad film or anything. Just one which left a lot to be desired. So yeah, all I can say is that it was a well-made and well-directed film which left me cold. I might check out some more of Imamura's films in the future to see if I respond better to them though.

Last Up: The Year My Voice Broke



The trick is not minding
The Year My Voice Broke

Australian films have always been interesting to me. They didn’t hit their stride until the 1970’s and it was mostly exploitive films, that is horror, psychological thrillers, action, sex comedies, meat pie/bush ranger westerns and the occasional drama. Perhaps their best known film will forever always be Mad Max.

The Year My Voice Broke is quite different from the above. Those films helped Australia get a foothold into the film industry, and with the likes of actor Mel Gibson, and directors like Gillian Armstrong, Peter Weir and Bruce Beresford, made more mainstream fare that were popular with the US. Films like Breaker Morant and Gallipoli were far more serious films, that showed there was more to Australia then Ozploitation (a term that wouldn’t be coined for another few decades).

This is a coming of age tale, one that focuses on a love triangle of sorts, between three friends, two boys and a girl. Danny, a sensitive boy who writes poetry bullied by others. Trevor, a rugby player who sticks up for him. And Freya. Sweet Freya. Adopted, and subject to town gossip.

It’s the typical young boy loves girl but girl loves his best friend. I’ve seen it handled better in films such as Lucas, or even Japans Crazed Fruit. The film lacks emotional connection for the three. Danny seems more intrigued by the towns history, particularly the identity of Freya’s mother. But when the identity is discovered, it lacks any real punch.

It doesn’t help that I never see any real connection between Freya and Danny either, aside from being friends with him having a unrequited crush, they barely have any meaningful conversations. Not until after her secret condition is revealed anyways. You do get the sense that, for Danny, she is all that matters. When they’re together, it’s treated as if they’re the only two people in town. There is a scene at night that best illustrates this point, where everyone else is asleep while they walk along the street together. Which is the point of course. They’re both outsiders, of a sort.

The cinematography is decent at times. Especially the night scenes. But the film just lacks any emotional punch, that a characters off screen death is kind of just brushed aside.
It isn’t until the end that I feel anything, but then….it was too late.



The trick is not minding
So far, for me, It’s Das Boot, Goldfinger and Stroszek, but I imagine it’ll come down to Das Boot and Goldfinger unless one of the remaining films really strikes a chord with me. Tomboy and The Promise will be the next two.



11 Foreign Language movies to go
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this - but how about the international diversity of the films we've nominated? I meant to mention that earlier.

- Belgium - The Promise
- Germany - Das Boot, Stroszek
- France - Tomboy
- United States - Anomalisa, Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- Australia - The Year My Voice Broke
- UK - Goldfinger
- Japan - Vengeance is Mine
- Denmark - Adam's Apples
- Iran - A Moment of Innocence
- India - Robot



I don't know if anyone has mentioned this - but how about the international diversity of the films we've nominated? I meant to mention that earlier.

- Belgium - The Promise
- Germany - Das Boot, Stroszek
- France - Tomboy
- United States - Anomalisa, Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- Australia - The Year My Voice Broke
- UK - Goldfinger
- Japan - Vengeance is Mine
- Denmark - Adam's Apples
- Iran - A Moment of Innocence
- India - Robot
Wow, nice job everyone. I didn't notice that till just now.



Has there ever been a Hall where every film nominated came from a different country?

Speaking of which, that might be a good Hall idea.



The trick is not minding
Has there ever been a Hall where every film nominated came from a different country?

Speaking of which, that might be a good Hall idea.
I am always a fan of foreign film Halls. The Russian one you held was full of great films. There was a Asian HOF held about 3 years ago that was also well received.



The trick is not minding
Scratch that. The Asian HOF was last year, I believe? I’m confusing it with the Japan HOF from 3 years ago? Either way, those are among my favorite.



It's time to have some fun
Has there ever been a Hall where every film nominated came from a different country?

Speaking of which, that might be a good Hall idea.
I like it!
@PHOENIX74 I'm digging those flag representations for our noms country of origin.



11 Foreign Language movies to go


The Promise (La promesse) - (1996)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne

Written by Luc Dardenne & Jean-Pierre Dardenne

Starring Jérémie Renier, Olivier Gourmet & Assita Ouedraogo

I love seeing young characters find a sense of what is moral and right from within themselves, without being taught or told what direction they need to take. It speaks to something both universal and true about humanity - and an example of a boy doing this can be seen in the Dardennes' film La Promesse, which follows movement and action in a very naturalistic way. You really do get the impression that you're peeking into a living world (for Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, that world is almost always the town of Seraing, a city located in Belgium.) The two brothers do this by mapping out exactly what is going to take place and then filming around it in whatever manner they can - as such they're not two for complicated shots that call attention to themselves, and instead a sense of realism and normality lets us slip into this world they've created and are capturing. Coming from a background in documentary filmmaking (much like Shōhei Imamura) primed them for making films like this.

La Promesse tells the story of a father and son - Roger (Olivier Gourmet) and Igor (Jérémie Renier) respectively. Roger is making money from taking advantage of undocumented migrants in Belgium, trafficking them and using them for cheap labor, while housing them in slums. One day, as these exploited workers are rushing around a site so as not to be caught by immigration inspectors, one of them falls and is seriously injured. Igor wants to call an ambulance or take him to hospital, but Roger interferes and insists that they simply let him die - lest they get into trouble. This man begs Igor to look out for his wife, Assita (Assita Ouedraogo) and infant child, before he dies - so after burying the body in concrete Igor tries to protect Assita from various attempts by Roger to get rid of her, and eventually flees with her, while all the time hiding the fact that her husband has in fact died - telling her he's simply fled due to his gambling debts. In the meantime, Roger hunts for his wayward son - and isn't averse to inflicting violence on him.

I found this a very enjoyable film to watch - it's always on the move, and feels like more than the sum of it's parts. Instead of feeling like I'm following a plot, I feel like I'm simply observing life and change. It's obvious that Igor is no innocent as he helps his father collect money, and treats his mechanic boss (who he is serving under as an apprentice) in a dismissive and arrogant manner. Nevertheless, Igor is also being hustled and exploited by this father, who is leading the boy down a deep and dark path into criminality. Gourmet and Renier do an excellent job in making us feel like these two have been doing this for a long time - they do it all in such an easy and laid back manner, having all of the particulars and angles covered. A great bit of casting there, with two actors who would go on to feature in further Dardennes films. Gourmet looks very shifty and nefarious in his thick glasses - which are usually issued to those in Belgium who can't afford to pay for their own. The two are close, but we are shown that Roger often flies off the handle and smacks Igor around.

Into this world comes Assita, who asserts her right to be who she is, despite being vulnerable. I think the Dardennes wanted Igor to help her in spite of their differences, and so these show up numerous times in the film. Assita is often warding off evil spirits with ashes, herbs and other such things while trying to get a handle on what's really happening by reading chicken entrails. She doesn't cling to Igor begging for help, but actually pushes him away many times - the look on her face one of absolute distrust and hostility. There's nothing for Igor to gain from helping her, so we know he's doing it from having a sense of what the right thing to do is, along with honoring a promise he made to Assita's husband as he was dying. It would be easy for a heartless thug to just brush all of that aside - and Igor has to stand between his father - who is trying to sell her into slavery or get her to go back to where she came from - and this new responsibility he has. It feels like Igor has reached a fork in the road, and is facing perhaps the most significant moment of his life.

The two Dardennes brothers established Derives in 1975 - a production company for which they produced over 50 documentary films, directing some themselves which usually explored the world of the poor, immigrants and immigration, resistance and the working class. This is where they developed a taste for what is naturalistic instead of sensationalism and fancy. When they wrote and directed I'm Thinking of You (Je pense à vous) in 1992 they had a terrible experience which would go on to galvanize the way they wanted to make films in the future. During the production of that early feature they delegated a lot of how everything was to be captured to their cinematographer and other technical assistants, for they were so inexperienced and wanted guidance - thus they found that the technical side of filmmaking was dictating the kind of story they were telling. From their next film (this one) onwards, they determined to decide on how everything was going to play out well before they brought the technical side to bear on capturing it. Doing this, they produced a style that gives people a sense of realness when they watch their films.

The cinematographer they brought in for this film, Alain Marcoen, would be with them on every film henceforth up until and including The Unknown Girl in 2016. All together a cinematic style based on movement and following the action gives us a distinct impression of watching a Dardennes/Marcoen film - especially that which almost gives a reading of a camera 'reacting' to the events it is capturing. It's very close to a documentary style, and works really well in La Promesse. It's very much a visual film, and I was struck by how at ease and quiet it was - with music rarely intruding except where it does in the story. There's a great example when both father and son decide to put on a karaoke performance together - and you can see the strength of the bond that's all the same about to be broken. To add to the whole sense that the Dardennes brothers command a family-like team of filmmakers, their editor, Marie-Hélène Dozo, has been putting their films together from this one up until the present day.

The story Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne put to paper in the screenplay came partly from what they've observed during their life, and career as documentary filmmakers - and it also hones in on what they regard as something of an obsession for themselves - the relationship between father and son. I admire this film for recognizing the fact that they could explore this, but at the same time explore what it means to have a conscience, and how that can come down and put pressure on the fidelity and love when a conscience and loyalty are in complete conflict with one another. I loved the scene where Igor tries to find some kind of solace in Assita's arms, but only finds coldness and suspicious puzzlement in them. There are hints early in the film that Igor might be attracted to Assita, but the reasons for doing what he does are more noble than that, and aren't driven by those feelings as much as made easier by them. We read all of this in how all of the characters act, and in the way the camera follows them.

I enjoyed watching La Promesse - it had the feel of a film that's very easy to drink in, and is rhythmically perfect. It's the kind of film that makes me very excited to press on into the filmography of the Dardennes - a duo that have achieved the rare feat of winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes twice. I love their filmmaking style, and I also love their sensibilities. They strike right to the heart of something of utmost importance in our world today - and do it in a way that illuminates an important part of evolving into a noble, and good-hearted person in today's society. To tell this as a story of a young person - virtually a boy - finding what is right conscience-wise from within himself, to the point of betraying someone who he loves but who is wrong, was a very worthwhile endeavour. In a cinematic landscape full of films that try to espouse righteousness, this is a rare film that completely succeeds where most others fail. Finally, I was especially happy to see a film stick it's landing as far as the ending is concerned - to the point of perfection. A great film about a boy's moral awakening, which is a theatrical moral awakening in it's own right.




I don't know if anyone has mentioned this - but how about the international diversity of the films we've nominated? I meant to mention that earlier.

- Belgium - The Promise
- Germany - Das Boot, Stroszek
- France - Tomboy
- United States - Anomalisa, Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- Australia - The Year My Voice Broke
- UK - Goldfinger
- Japan - Vengeance is Mine
- Denmark - Adam's Apples
- Iran - A Moment of Innocence
- India - Robot
That's pretty cool, except for the fact there were no Canadian films nominated! Canada got snubbed again!