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Oh crap.
I thought Mother Of Tears was literally one of the worst films I've ever seen.
It's the type of movie you wish Argento was currently making. Not what he's actually making.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
The Professor's Beloved Equation - 6/10
You picked the right director but the wrong movie.
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You have me really intrigued with this.
Probably need to save it for November, when all of my Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Thriller/Horror silliness is out of my system and I can watch something great, but I'm definitely interested.
Your bolded statement certainly resonates with me and is why I have always loved reading movie reviews even when I was a kid and why I actually have the physical volumes of Ebert's Great Movies on my shelf. Movies like Last Year At Marienbad really benefit from hearing someone else talk about them as well.
I think that it's a unique film, which is not to say that I think everyone would love it or think it's great. But it's got a lot going for it, including one of the best anti-erotic sequences I've ever seen.



minds his own damn business
I thought the Cohen tunes worked perfectly for it, personally, and really added a lot to the overall haunting vibe of the movie:
Too bad Altman didn't wait a couple of months to hear the new Leonard Cohen record because this would have been an excellent addition to the soundtrack.


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SF = Z



[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Pioneer (Erik Skjoldbjśrg, 2013)
6/10
Roly Poly (Andrzej Wajda, 1968)
6.5/10
Don't Go Near the Water (Charles Walters, 1957)
6/10
Prisoners of the Ghostland (Sion Sono, 2021)
+ 5/10

Semi-futuristic spaghetti western/eastern with horror overtones has a few highlights but not enough.
House of Hummingbird (Bora Kim, 2018)
6/10
Dance of the Damned (Katt Shea, 1989)
+ 5/10
Three Sailors and a Girl (Roy Del Ruth, 1953)
5.5/10
Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019)
6/10

Lo-fi, stylish "thriller" is probably a unique film, and a lot of people in it are angry.
Our Defeats (Jean-Gabriel Pťriot, 2019)
6/10
Nightbooks (David Yarovesky, 2021)
6/10
Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (David Butler, 1950)
6/10
Candyman (Nia DaCosta, 2021)
6/10

Belated sequel has plenty to say in an elegant manner but not enough scares.
Her Socialist Smile (John Gianvito, 2020)
- 6.5/10
My Son (Christian Carion, 2021)
6/10
Maska (Quay Bros., 2010)
6.5/10
Old (M. Night Shyamalan, 2021)
6/10

No duh!
Together (Stephen Daldry & Justin Martin, 2021)
6/10
Stripped to Kill 2: Live Girls (Katt Shea, 1989)
5/10
The Father Who Moves Mountains (Daniel Sandu, 2021)
6.5/10
Cry Macho (Clint Eastwood, 2021)
6/10

Ancient ranch hand Clint Eastwood goes down to Mexico City to retrieve the wild, insecure son (Eduardo Minett) of his rancher friend.
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Duck Soup, 1933

In the fictional European country of Freedonia, the newly appointed leader Rufus Firefly (Groucho Marx) is supported financially by the wealthy Gloria Teasdale (Margaret Dumont). Meanwhile, the leader of another country conspires to begin a war with Freedonia, hiring Chicolini (Chico Marx) and Pinky (Harpo Marx) to steal valuable war plans.

This is a classic comedic film that serves mainly as a vehicle for snappy dialogue bits and slapstick set-pieces.

I was glad that this film ran the length it did--about 70 minutes--because I have only a moderate tolerance for what I will now describe as shenanigans. Which is to say that even when I find what's on screen fun and amusing, I still struggle when it's a series of bits strung together only loosely by a thin narrative.

But what's on screen here is really funny and engaging for the most part. The slapstick bits are accomplished with great physical control (especially a running bit whereby Pinky produces a pair of scissors to clandestinely trim the tails off of hats, helmets, and even a cigar). The word play---basically stand up bits put into dialogue--is also strong.

The only downside for me was the lack of development of the secondary characters. I mean, in one sense most of the characters aren't really developed in the traditional meaning of the word. But characters such as Teasdale seem overly flat in their role as straight man. Because so much of the dialogue is just set up -> response -> punchline, the character just reacts minimally before walking right into the next set up. It would have been nice to see a little more personality from her and some of the other supporting characters.

A fun little flick, certainly worth seeing.








1st Rewatch...The general consensus on this film is that Renee Zellweger's performance is great but the film is crap, but I totally disagree. Enjoyed it a lot more than I did the first time. Don't get me wrong, Zellweger is brilliant and totally deserved the Oscar she won...the actress really loses herself in this role and really makes us feel Judy's pain and insecurity. But there's a lot more going on this movie and a lot of credit has to go to director Rupert Goold, who shows his loving respect for the subject in every frame of this movie. It's pretty gutsy to make a film about the world's greatest entertainer during the biggest down period of her life, but he allows us just enough of a peek into her life at MGM to understand why she has become what she has become. The film also captures Judy's through line for her entire life...the love of her children. There are some powerful scenes sparkled throughout here...watch her argument with Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell) near the beginning of the film...the incestuous undertone of young Judy's scenes with Louis B Mayer, the scenes where Judy gets heckled and booed off the stage, or the conflicted feelings of London assistant Rossalyn and what she has to do to get Judy onstage, bursting her personal images of Judy into smithereens. Or watch Mickey Deem's reaction to Judy's suggestion that they marry. I also applaud the decision to let Zellweger do her own singing...Judy's voice was a one of a kind instrument that can't be duplicated anyway and I think Zellweger's singing just enhanced the power of the performance.





Duck Soup, 1933

In the fictional European country of Freedonia, the newly appointed leader Rufus Firefly (Groucho Marx) is supported financially by the wealthy Gloria Teasdale (Margaret Dumont). Meanwhile, the leader of another country conspires to begin a war with Freedonia, hiring Chicolini (Chico Marx) and Pinky (Harpo Marx) to steal valuable war plans.

This is a classic comedic film that serves mainly as a vehicle for snappy dialogue bits and slapstick set-pieces.

I was glad that this film ran the length it did--about 70 minutes--because I have only a moderate tolerance for what I will now describe as shenanigans. Which is to say that even when I find what's on screen fun and amusing, I still struggle when it's a series of bits strung together only loosely by a thin narrative.

But what's on screen here is really funny and engaging for the most part. The slapstick bits are accomplished with great physical control (especially a running bit whereby Pinky produces a pair of scissors to clandestinely trim the tails off of hats, helmets, and even a cigar). The word play---basically stand up bits put into dialogue--is also strong.

The only downside for me was the lack of development of the secondary characters. I mean, in one sense most of the characters aren't really developed in the traditional meaning of the word. But characters such as Teasdale seem overly flat in their role as straight man. Because so much of the dialogue is just set up -> response -> punchline, the character just reacts minimally before walking right into the next set up. It would have been nice to see a little more personality from her and some of the other supporting characters.

A fun little flick, certainly worth seeing.

I agree with this a 100%
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1st Rewatch...The general consensus on this film is that Renee Zellweger's performance is great but the film is crap, but I totally disagree.
I rated it similarly. A solid film that makes its point, driven by a great central performance.



26th Hall of Fame

Angel-A (2005) -


WARNING: spoilers below
Tonally wise, I found this film really strange. I'm not sure how much I liked it (my rating may increase or decrease in the future), but I do have some respect for it. Initially, I thought this would be a straightforward story of Angel-A improving Andre and helping him fix his various flaws. Instead though, he made virtually no improvements throughout the first hour and made a couple improvements throughout the final half hour. At the end, while he was in a better place than he was at the start of the film, he still needed Angel-A by his side to prevent him from making the same mistakes all over again. If it wasn't for Andre recognizing that he was only half-developed at the end, one could criticize the film for not properly developing his character, but since the point of the ending is that she didn't fully improve him, the film doesn't need to provide closure to his character flaws. While I find that to be a clever premise, I think I respect this film more than I like it. I admired that the film twisted my initial expectations around, but what I got as an alternative left me rather cold and removed from the characters. Andre's ineptitude kept me at arm's length from him for most of the first hour, so it took me a while to feel an emotional connection to him. Also, the occasional bad advice Angel-A offered (e.g., telling him he should've insulted one of the thugs he owed money to) and how she did virtually all the work when dealing with some of his problems instead of instructing him on how to handle them kept me from getting into her character. And again, I get that Andre wasn't fully improved at the end, so I'm hesitant to call these qualities flaws. I'm just not sure I connected much with them. Angel-A seems like a highly flawed film which resolves its flaws at the end in a rather odd way. Granted though, I'm a bit undecided about how I feel about this film and somebody could probably convince me that it's better or worse than what I think. For now though, this is where I'll stand.





La Ceremonie, 1995

A reserved, slightly odd woman named Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) gets a job working for a wealthy family in their isolated home in the country. Sophie soon strikes up a friendship with the town's postal clerk, Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert). As the two bond over their pasts, Jeanne begins to sew seeds of discord with Sophie, turning her against her employers.

Dang.

So, to being with, I will keep this review very spoiler free (or will spoiler text even mild spoilers), and if you haven't seen this movie I (1) recommend that you immediately check it out and (2) avoid reading ANYTHING about it before watching.

Okay, I thought that this was pretty great.

I haven't yet read any critical reviews of this yet (aside from Ebert's review that I checked out after watching), but I think that there's a lot of interesting stuff to unpack here.

What I liked most about this film was the way that it plays on two different, oppositional emotions that you might have watching a film that centers on someone working as a domestic servant. On one hand, it does a great job of showing the way that people who hire servants can extend a sense of ownership over that person. Sophie tends to follow her instructions to the letter: nothing more, nothing less. The family is put off when Sophie creates a tremendous amount of food for a party, but leaves when she is done. Further, I think that the film does a good job of showing a common misconception that can develop around domestic workers. Domestic workers make your bed and fold your clothes and cook you dinner because it is their job, not because they love you. It is a natural fallacy, in a way, to assume that someone who is doing caretaking things, you know, cares for you. But that relationship is transactional, not affectionate.

On the other side of things, the film plays on the fears about what it means to let someone into your home. While in this case the situation is a wealthy family with a maid, I think that this is a fear that people from almost any socio-economic status can experience. What if the people that you trust (doctors, teachers, repair people, etc) do not have your best interest at heart? I think that it is natural to worry that someone on whom you rely or whom you let into your life or space might be a sociopath or have their own agenda. I really liked the push pull of sympathies between Sophie and the family.

Finally (and here come some moderate spoilers)
WARNING: spoilers below
the film does a great job of showing the way that there can be a kind of destructive chemistry between two people. Sophie and Jeanne, on their own, would probably mostly do petty little things. But when they begin to bounce off of each other, it turns into an echo chamber that amplifies their resentments and leads them to actions out of the scope of what they would probably do on their own.


This film was incredibly tense, right up until the last moments---even those that play underneath the credits as they roll.

I suppose that one minor critique that I had was that I didn't 100% buy some smaller character actions in the final act. And while this isn't a critique of the film per se, some of the characters are really maddening (as in, I got really angry at them), so if you struggle with disliking character, you might struggle a bit with some parts of this film).

Tense and well-acted and excellent.






La Ceremonie, 1995
I need to give this a go at some point for Huppert, but Chabrol has left me pretty cold so far. I think Merci Pour Le Chocolat (also with Huppert) is the only one I didn't shrug through.







SF = Z



[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it




By May be found at the following website: IMP Awards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6498038

Batman Begins - (2005) - rewatch

I've always felt that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises were really good, but not great. They just happen to sandwich one of my favourite films - The Dark Knight. The first in the trilogy is the one I'm the least familiar with - and as such I felt it deserved a rewatch. I discovered that if you're watching a 140 minute film with a climactic finale, it helps to watch the final 30 minutes fresh - fatigue may set in after two hours, and with all the fast cutting the attention needed to take in every moment in has diminished. I'm not a massive fan of comic book characters, but enjoy those old Christopher Reeve Superman films along with Tim Burton's Batman films. X-Men : First Class and Logan are another two that I like a lot despite not being a huge fan of the genre.

7.5/10
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I need to give this a go at some point for Huppert, but Chabrol has left me pretty cold so far. I think Merci Pour Le Chocolat (also with Huppert) is the only one I didn't shrug through.
I would think you would like this one. I thought it was a lot stronger than Merci Pour Le Chocolat.







Dark Passage - Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made four movies together. I thought it was more but this turned out to be the only one I hadn't seen and it's an odd one. Sort of an outlier from the other three, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep and Key Largo. Those were more traditional Hollywood films with a clear path along an established trajectory. Charter fishing boat captain tries to avoid WWII entanglements, LA gumshoe is hired to help out an errant rich girl, WWII veteran runs afoul of gangsters in Florida. But this seems more like three or four movies wrapped into one.

It starts with a prison breakout. Vincent Parry (Bogart, or at least his voice) was sent up for murdering his wife. He didn't of course. Through a series of progressively extravagant coincidences he's picked up by a disturbingly inquisitive motorist. When Parry is finally forced to deal with the yahoo, Irene Jansen (Bacall) just happens to be driving by. And she also happens to be a groupie of sorts. Her father was also sent up for murdering her stepmother and died in prison so she's been following Parry's trial and conviction with great interest. She takes him home and while out buying him new clothes her acquaintance Madge Rapf (Agnes Moorehead) shows up knocking at her door. But wait. She just happens to have been the prosecutions chief witness against Parry at his trial. While you're busy trying to digest all these flukey developments you also have to deal with Bogart's absence from the movie. He doesn't actually show his face until halfway through the film. There's a plastic surgery angle and the first hour is filmed entirely POV. You hear Bogey's distinctive voice but that's about it. He also swathed in bandages for a goodly chunk of time.

The one consistent motif is just how intrusive random strangers are in this movie. Cab drivers, hotel clerks, plainclothes detectives. It seems like just about everyone has it in for our put upon protagonist. He doesn't help matters either by going fidgety at the worst possible moments. If the filmmaker's objective was to twist the last bit of apprehension out of any given scene they succeeded.

The performances are good. Bogart and Bacall had a marvelous chemistry together and even though this wasn't them at their pinnacle it still works. Agnes Moorehead also does a superlative job with her conniving and obnoxious character. There are also moments of genuine humor sprinkled throughout. Like I said, it's an odd one but in the end it's worth watching if only to complete the Bogey/Bacall grand slam.