The 29th Hall of Fame


The Year My Voice Broke

Watch this: you can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half.

Scotty in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Relics says it best: "it's like the first time you fall in love. You don't ever love a woman quite like that again." That is the situation of Danny (Noah Taylor), a teenager whose precociousness and love of music and sci-fi make him all too relatable. His first and sadly unrequited love of childhood friend Freya (Loene Carmen), which he holds on to despite what happens when local bad boy Trevor (Ben Mendelsohn) comes along, also hits close to home. This isn't the first and likely won't be the last movie about first love I've seen, but it has qualities beyond its relatability that make it stand out. The most prominent of these is nostalgia, which drips from every frame. When it's not the sun-bleached vistas, it's Danny's narration, and when it's not that, it’s the combination of the aptly chosen '60s pop songs and Christine Woodruff's beautifully wistful score. It thankfully doesn't take it too far, though, particularly in how it portrays small towns as the hotbeds of gossip and toxicity they can be instead of in the way those who haven't lived in one or how lesser entries in this genre idealize them. There's also Ben Mendelsohn's standout performance, which works for how raw and animalistic he makes Trevor and for how diametrically opposed he is to the more sensitive and thoughtful Danny. Despite this, I appreciate that he seems more like a person than a force of nature, especially for how he treats Danny like a friend instead of a rival. I also have to praise familiar face Bruce Spence as Danny's mentor Jonah, especially because it's nice to see him in a role where a plays a relatively normal person after mostly seeing him in movies where he's barely recognizable like Dark City, The Return of the King and Revenge of the Sith. As for the tragic ending and the bittersweetness that is Danny's response, it more than ably captures how it feels when first love ends, and I'm not ashamed to say that it brought the tears.

There are few experiences in life as formative or that make or break you when all the possibilities you imagine during your first love go up in smoke. As devastating as it is when the object of your affection does not reciprocate in the way you want them to, another thing this movie gets right is how it stresses the importance of being a friend regardless, especially when they find themselves in unfortunate situations like the one that leads to Freya's departure. Again, this movie belongs to a crowded subgenre; in fact, it's so crowded that I for the life of me cannot think of my #1 pick in it. As much as I enjoyed this entry and as much as it moved me, I would rank Lucas - which it reminds me of the most - and Summer of '42 over it. For what it gets right about the experience's complicated feelings, the tragedy in why they rarely last and what they're like for the most sensitive and imaginative of us, though, it is up there. Oh, and it's always nice to see a great Australian movie since I've seen so few of them, not to mention one that lets me see how two actors I'm always happy to watch began their careers.

It's time to have some fun

Robot (2010)

Wow, that chick was hot...I liked her short hair better there than in most of the other scenes where it was longer.

But man was she a royal pita or what? If I was the scientist dude I would've made myself a girl-bot and ditched the pain in the ass fiance. That's assuming a girl robot could, um, you know function fully.

Anyway, I liked this and thought it was very creative, especially the mosquito scene, so different!

I'd only seen one Bollywood before, well I didn't 'see it' because I shut it off after only 10 minutes, but with Robot I was engaged from the get-go and found it well made and entertaining. I liked the first two hours way better than the end. I wish it would've ended with the destruction of the robot and the big wedding scene....then Sana after she's married could have said with a tear in her eye, 'I wish Chitti could be here.' Then the camera pans to the elaborate ceiling of the wedding hall and...through the hall to the open night sky with all of it's millions of twinkling stars, then the camera angle focuses downward on the the Earth from far above...There we see a little dark area and as the camera zooms in we realize it's the trash dump where the robot was the camera zooms in ever closer on the trash heap we see a glowing eye and hear, 'Sana, Sana, Sana.'...

Thanks Ueno for a neat nom.

11 Foreign Language movies to go

Tomboy - (2011)

Directed by Céline Sciamma

Written by Céline Sciamma

Starring Zoé Héran, Malonn Lévana & Jeanne Disson

Céline Sciamma has already wowed me with Portrait of a Lady on Fire, so it's interesting to go back and see Tomboy - the film she followed up her 2007 debut, Water Lilies, with. Water Lilies seems to have been a very visual and sensual film which explored issues about sexuality, and Tomboy does also - although much more from the perspective of someone with gender identification issues. It puts us on a level with 10-year-olds, and has us sympathise and feel empathy for Laure - whose behavior is questionable, but only because she's so uncomfortable with the thought of being a girl, and enjoys being a boy so much that she's decided to present herself as one. In a manner similar to Sean Baker's The Florida Project, Sciamma had me feeling I was a little kid again by having us inhabit the world the kids share almost exclusively, and shrinking us down to their size to observe the games they play, judgements they make and social roles they take on. For example, Laure sees herself as her younger sister's protector, and tries to assert her dominance over the other boys in her group. This brings up all kinds of social anxiety - as at times I was particularly worried about Laure's physical and psychological welfare.

10-year-old Laure's family have moved into a new house in a new neighbourhood - as so often seems to be the case, because her father's world requires it. Her only sibling is 6-year-old Jeanne (Malonn Lévana). So once again, short-haired, boyish Laure explores her new environs and comes across Lisa (Jeanne Disson). When introducing herself however, she pretends to be a boy and tells Lisa her name is Mickaël. She meets Lisa's friends and enjoys playing and being a kid with all the little ones in the neighbourhood - who all think she's a boy. When Lisa begins hinting that she has a crush on Laure, she finds it hard to know what to do, but keeps up the pretense, to the extent that when they go swimming, she shapes for herself a fake penis out of play-doh which will show under her swimming costume. Everything becomes more and more complex and frightening for Laure - for she has to be so careful to keep her secret, especially after her sister finds out about it and joins in on the ruse. What would it mean for her and her friends if she's discovered? Does she have an obligation to tell Lisa, especially after they kiss? What will her parents do if/when they find out?

I have to admit, there were moments in Tomboy when I was holding my breath. I was sure that Laure's fake penis would either float away in the water or else shift to the back of her costume - and that would have been an enormously humiliating situation for her to find herself in. Even though what she was doing was unfair to Lisa, I didn't want Laure to be hurt or psychologically scarred by some horrible incident or situation she might find herself in. All the same, with the school year set to begin in a short amount of time, the fact that she would be discovered was evidently inevitable. She was already trying to think up excuses for why the name "Mickaël" wasn't showing up on class lists - excuses which wouldn't work any longer when the first school day got under way. So, all up, the best that could be hoped for was to not get found out in some particularly embarrassing fashion. It was a good source of tension, even if it did feel incidental to all of the issues the film was exploring - which is probably the more important aspect to everything in Tomboy. To identify so strongly with a gender opposed to what you are born as.

For a sister, little Jeanne was one of the most adorable little ladies I've ever seen in a movie, and immediately wanted to learn French and adopt her. Her cute facial expressions, matter-of-fact turns of phrase and mental acuity seemed beyond her years, which turned her babyish, adorable features into an express delivery for fuzzy warmness. The way she teams up with Laure, you can see that they'd be almost inseparable throughout life and have a mutual affection for each other that only two sisters could have. Some great casting has been done here - and that includes finding Zoé Héran to take on the role of Laure. I always go into films as cold as I can, and I'm particularly slow-witted catching on to things film-wise, so I absolutely did not know Laure was a girl until the film wanted me to suddenly find out. It got me, and had me right where it wanted to have me - so that was a massive shock, and the reverberations of "oh, it's a girl!" went on for a few minutes. Héran's androgynous features were obviously something the filmmakers would have been looking for, and they did well because I just assumed it was a boy right up until the reveal.

You don't see many female cinematographers - or at least, I never read about many - but Sciamma utilizes the skills of her Water Lilies director of photography, Crystel Fournier, here. The film seems to have been shot from a low angle, and on a level with the kids in the film. It made me feel like I was a kid, seeing everything from that level. The colours seem more muted in this than they looked to be in Water Lilies, and there were many extreme close-up shots of our characters. Laure's expressions were important to get across - contorted at times, tense and uncertain - she's navigating a world where she feels like a fraud and outsider. Jean-Baptiste de Laubier doesn't intrude very often with incidental music trying to underline moments - but instead we're left to listen to the sounds of kids playing - the biggest contribution is therefore the song "Always" which bursts through as Laure and Lisa dance. Even the opening credits can be enjoyed in solemn silence. The editing was good and was done by Julien Lacheray, who has served as editor for Céline Sciamma films all the way from Water Lilies right up to her well-received 2021 film Petite Maman - one I will be on a lookout for now, seeing as how much I like her films.

It was interesting to see how this was handled by the parents in this case. I felt uncomfortable when Laure's mother forced her to put on a dress and then dragged her around in it - I can imagine how uncomfortable that made Laure, and how it would have just compounded the uneasy feeling she would have had being shown up as different. Being a kid, the very last thing you want is to be singled out as odd or different. Lying about your sex is definitely something you could possibly be ostracized for, and I thought her mother might have stopped and thought things through - but she was obviously despairing, and Laure simply lying about her sex was something she should never do. Think about poor Lisa, who thought she was kissing a boy. Heartening though, was Lisa's eventual reaction to all of this. Also reassuring was the fact that Laure was surrounded by a very loving family who were obviously accepting of her as she was, so they would always rally around her, even after she makes mistakes in life.

Written as well as directed by Céline Sciamma, I enjoyed the understated simplicity of Tomboy and the matter-of-fact presentation of a situation that has probably played out numerous times for kids like this in the past. Laure's quiet desperation once she starts on this venture of hers becomes our worry as well, but comforting is the fact that she has a good family. The movie isn't intent on ripping our souls apart - only on having us meditate on what this must be like for our central character. I enjoyed watching Zoé Héran, and especially little Malonn Lévana - both of whom look very different now. It's one of those easy, mood-enhancing films that moves at a really slow pace but never bores us - because many of the things we see don't register as boring, but beautiful. Kids playing, loving parents, good visuals, no score - just sitting inside of our main character's head, knowing that life is good for now but also that there's a ticking time bomb that has to go off sooner or later providing the tension we need to keep us fully alert. The film isn't reaching mammoth heights, but it's not aiming for that at all - and what it is aiming at it succeeds at pulling off. A very good film.

My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

Latest Review : Paper Moon (1973)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

I was happy to see this one nominated as I was long overdue to see it. I really liked how well directed it was. The voice over narration gave it noir type vibes for me, kind of reminded me of Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard in that regard. I like how Siegel's script kept us on our toes at all times, we never really knew what to expect.

The acting was good I thought from the two leads, they had some real solid chemistry. That hiding spot was pretty cool and that was a cool scene seeing as of them going over where they were hiding. I also thought there were some Hitchcock vibes to the film and of course that's something that works perfectly for me. Cool nomination definitely.

movies can be okay...
The last scene were also a head scratcher. What is It trying to say here? I found myself at a loss for explanations, but perhaps that just further magnified the issues I had.
The earth was refusing to take Enokizu's bones. With better special effects the ending would've worked a little better, but the idea in and of itself is great and delivers a haunting last scene.
"A film has to be a dialogue, not a monologue — a dialogue to provoke in the viewer his own thoughts, his own feelings. And if a film is a dialogue, then it’s a good film; if it’s not a dialogue, it’s a bad film."
- Michael "Gloomy Old Fart" Haneke

movies can be okay...
It didn't occur to me before but the title doesn't fit the movie. I think I'm just naturally drawn to anything with the word vengeance in it.
I like the title of the film and feel like its purpose speaks directly to Enokizu's motivations. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a scrapped line exclaimed by the main character at some point. He felt to me through all the anger and force behind his crimes and behavior that he thinks he's some sort of avenger, seeking revenge against his shitty upbringing, his father, as well as society's attitude towards him and his family.

movies can be okay...
I also had no idea of how long they were on sea...
I for one loved the fact that the passage of time was communicated through the growth of beards.

movies can be okay...
Welp, I don't really feel motivated to write lengthy "reviews" for the rest of the films as I've been sick for the past couple of days, so here's my thoughts on what else I've watched thus far:

Vengeance is mine - One of the best nominations (that are also new watches for me) that I've ever encountered out of one of these HoFs. The constant harrowing feel throughout the movie contributed to delivering quite the disturbing and uncomfortable experience. The violence is raw, shocking, and heartbreaking. The characters and the web of relationships are emotionally complex and full of depth. I feel like I can write paragraphs about each of the relationships presented, major or minor. I also always love it whenever boundaries are pushed to the extremes in terms of plot elements and character types. The only issues I have are with the structure, as well as with how one important character's death was handled near the end.

Das Boot - The opening and ending are both fantastic. The film is successful every time it tries to generate tension or suspense. The craft in general is impeccable. However, I do think I would've enjoyed the theatrical or the mini-series version much more. In the director's cut, there's a lot of repetitive moments that I imagine wouldn't feel repetitive if either cut down (this is where the shorter version would come in) or expanded on and given more breathing time in-between (this is where the longer version would come in). I'd rather feel the same boredom as the crew's through watching the mini-series, than have it be communicated to me in a half-assed manner as in the director's cut. There's also all these briefly mentioned side relationships that some of the characters have with their loved ones back home, and I also would've preferred them to be completely cut out of this cut. The sound mixing was a hassle too, I was constantly adjusting the volume throughout my viewing.

I've also seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I'm waiting to check out the 1978 remake before posting my thoughts.

It's time to have some fun
I've also seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I'm waiting to check out the 1978 remake before posting my thoughts.
Interesting, can I ask you why you are wanting to watch a remake before reviewing the original? Just curious.

movies can be okay...
Interesting, can I ask you why you are wanting to watch a remake before reviewing the original? Just curious.
I guess I'd want to watch a more "modern" interpretation of that story, see if they do better, worse, and just talk about what works and doesn't in both versions. I gotta say I was a little underwhelmed by the original, so I can't help but want to check out something more.

It's time to have some fun
I guess I'd want to watch a more "modern" interpretation of that story, see if they do better, worse, and just talk about what works and doesn't in both versions. I gotta say I was a little underwhelmed by the original, so I can't help but want to check out something more.
Cool. I loved both versions. Though in my mind they seem like different movies. They're not of course, it just seems like that to me.

movies can be okay...
I also got super intrigued once I saw that that is the movie this gif comes from.

The 1978 remake is the superior Invasion movie. Like, I'll tolerate a little debate over it, as the original is great as well, but come on. If you only ever watch one, that is the one.