The Resident Bitch Prepares for the MoFo 2010s Countdown

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God's Own Country (Francis Lee, 2017)
(Recommended by @Takoma11)

God's Own Country is carried by a pair of very powerful performances in its leads Josh O'Connor (Johnny) and Alec Secareanu (Gheorghe), neither of which I've seen before. The two men have very strong chemistry and every bit of their roles feel real (probably owing a lot to the two weeks spent working on a farm in preparation). The film also makes very good use of color and light to convey Johnny's transformation from a sort of lost soul drowning his frustrations in drink and casual hook-ups to a man ready for real connection and love.

Unfortunately - despite its strengths, it took me a good long while to get fully engaged with the film. Part of this was due to my inability to understand a not insignificant amount of the dialogue in the earlier scenes, especially the lines spoken by Johnny's father. But much of it just had to do with an initial dislike of Johnny. As things stand, these issues did affect my enjoyment of the movie and it's unlikely to get my vote, but I think there is a lot of potential for a rewatch to improve my experience.




God's Own Country is carried by a pair of very powerful performances in its leads Josh O'Connor (Johnny) and Alec Secareanu (Gheorghe), neither of which I've seen before. The two men have very strong chemistry and every bit of their roles feel real (probably owing a lot to the two weeks spent working on a farm in preparation). The film also makes very good use of color and light to convey Johnny's transformation from a sort of lost soul drowning his frustrations in drink and casual hook-ups to a man ready for real connection and love.
I'm glad you liked it (and sorry I forgot to mention the animal content when I originally recommended it). I agree that it takes a while to warm up to Johnny as a character, but I also don't think he's meant to be very likable in the beginning because he's living such a negative, self-destructive life. I thought Secareanu's performance was really interesting, the way that the character was kind of gentle and almost passive, but also unwilling to let Johnny treat him a certain way.





Who Killed Captain Alex? (Nabwana I.G.G., 2010)

If they gave awards to movies with the most useless and irritating narration, Who Killed Captain Alex? would be a big contender. If this thing had a plot, I missed it because of the distracting exclamations from the narrator - some of which were not even translated in the subtitles so it amounted to nothing but noise. Not that the parts that could be understood contributed anything positive to the experience. The constant barrage of bullshit like "What?" and "Huh huh hey hey!" left me wondering if they took inspiration from rapper Lil Jon and also left me just wishing for it to end. It felt like a bizarre hybrid of the song "Yeah" and a terrible rip-off of Mystery Science Theater with the net result of making the film's one hour runtime feel like five.

I fully understand that this movie was made on a not-even shoe string budget. I could probably have forgiven the shitty acting, terrible effects, terrible cinematography, and terrible writing and enjoyed this on a cheese level, but not with that irritating running commentary.






Pawn Shop Chronicles (Wayne Kramer, 2013)
(Recommended by @cricket)

Iím not entirely sure what the hell I just watched, but I liked it.

This weird ass movie is a collection of different stories that loosely intertwine via their connection to a small town pawnshop. Itís full of familiar faces and crazy ass situations, with each story trying to out-bizarre the others and damned if I know which one to crown the victor. This thing is absolutely nuts and I really loved parts of it, but it was a little too uneven to love it as a whole. Still, itís quite a memorable experience and I do think itís got potential to grow on me down the line.






Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
(Recommended by Funny Face)

I'm not entirely sure how to respond to this film.

Do I say I liked it because it was creepy and disturbing, which is what horror should be? Or do I say I didn't like it because I never want to watch this crazy shit again? I don't know.

What I do know is that this was my second experience with Ari Aster (the first being The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, which I also don't ever want to watch again) and, if these two are any indication, he seems to have a knack for making really uncomfortable films - but also films that you can't really look away from. Its images and concepts are deeply unsettling, but also really intriguing and almost alluring.

It's an incredibly well constructed film that makes great use its colors and location to give the village an initially idyllic feel. The performances are also strong and, for a two and a half hour movie, it is very well paced.

But I don't ever want to see it again. Still, I have to give credit where it is due and rate it positively, but it will not be getting my vote.






Belle (Amma Asante, 2013)

I used to read a lot of romance novels when I was a teenager and my favorites were always the period novels with the young debutante on the hunt for a good match. So when I saw the trailer for this movie almost ten years ago, I felt a little nostalgic and wanted to see it, but it got put on the back burner because, while teenage me was big on romance, adult me has other interests. After awhile, I kind of forgot about it.

But I put it on my watchlist for the countdown and, after watching several strange movies in a row, I was wanting something a little more normal and decided to give this a go today. And I have to say I felt that nostalgia all over again, though I do appreciate the way that the movie paints a more accurate picture of the position of ladies in society than those old novels did. I also appreciate that it presents a story of greater substance than the garbage I was reading back then. Of course, I also enjoyed the look of the film with its gorgeous sets and costumes.

However, the overall feel of the movie is just as corny as those books and I was rolling my eyes by the time Dido announced her wish to marry Mr. Davinier, even if my rolling eyes were laced with happy tears. Ultimately, this was an entertaining watch but not something that will get my vote.






Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow, 2015)
(Rewatch)

Jurassic World is an unoriginal cashgrab. Its writing is not exactly impressive. Its characters are hollow and two dimensional. There are continuity errors and things that just don't make a whole lot of sense. The sort of underlying message of "nature = good, messing with it = bad" is clunky. The CGI is a bit too obvious at times and lends the whole thing a sort of sheen of artificiality that wasn't present with the practical effects driven original.

But I really couldn't care less about any of that. As stupid as it may be, this movie is fun. It's exciting. It was really cool to see some different dinos - and their different ways of killing people - and it was satisfying to see the two scariest baddies of the original movie become this one's heroes. It's just a solid piece of mindless entertainment and I can think of far worse ways to spend a couple of hours.






Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2013)
(Recommended by @SpelingError)

I really didn't know anything about this movie going in and I'm not sure why I decided to put it on my watchlist, but here we are.

This is a really well constructed and fast paced film that is carried well by by its central performance (performances?). Gyllenhaal does a very fine job of making Adam and Anthony different enough in their posture and actions to recognize them as different people, but also similar enough to make you question if they really are.

And that's really what this whole movie is: A 100 minute long question that never gets a concrete answer. But that back and forth guessing and second guessing makes for an intriguing experience and I never got bored with it. That said though, I don't know how well it would hold up to repeated viewings and there definitely wasn't anything here that I loved, but I do like it well enough on initial impression to give it a positive rating for now.




Enemy is one I'd probably like but I've never been compelled to watch. At some point I'm sure.

I can't remember how I felt about Jurassic World. Some of those I like and some not.





Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011)
(Rewatch)

This movie probably shouldn't be as good as it is. It takes a lot of bits and pieces from other sources - basic ideas that have been before. A man has to live a certain period of time over and over again until he figures things out? I've seen that. A man is inserted into a simulation that he believes can be used to alter reality? I've seen that. Someone entering another's memories and subconscious? I've seen that a few times over. Experimentation for the greater good that raises questions of ethics? That's not original. And yet, it somehow assembles these into something that is exciting and doesn't really have a been there, done that feel to it.

I also really appreciate that, despite the fact that it is very much Sci Fi, it maintains its focus firmly on the human element, aided greatly by strong performances from both Jake Gyllenhaal and Vera Farmiga. It also snaps along a fast pace and never allows itself to drag, even though as a viewer you feel Captain Stevens's frustration right along with him.

If I have one complaint, it's with the ending, which feels over-long and panders far too much to the "happily ever after" crowd. But that's a minor annoyance in an otherwise very fine piece of entertainment. I don't know if this will make my ballot, but it's not out of the running yet.






Cold Fish (Tsumetai nettaigyo) (Sion Sono, 2010)
(Recommended by @cricket)

I went into this movie having no real idea of what it would be like and having seen it now, I have to say that almost nothing worked for me. It's just too much. It's too much of everything. It's too dark. It's too bloody. The sex is too weird. The characters are all horrible people. And it's way too damn long.

If all of those things were turned down just a notch or two, I might've been able to enjoy it - and I can absolutely see why some people do really dig it - but for me the highlight of it was seeing all those cool fish and that's just not enough. I'm not sorry I watched it, but this is definitely not something I'm likely to ever revisit.






How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, 2010)
(Rewatch)

This movie has long been a favorite of mine. I'm not typically into heavy fantasy like this, but the potent combination of adventure, laughs, and a touching story about a boy who defies expectations and changes his world for the better is irresistible. It helps a lot that Toothless is super cute and full of personality.

I will say though that I probably loved it a little less tonight than I have in the past, but it's still all but guaranteed spot on my ballot.






Andhadhun (Sriram Raghavan, 2018)

I think this is the only Indian movie I've ever actually watched. To be completely honest, I've always been a little prejudiced against them because the bits and pieces of Indian films I have seen were so heavily musical that I just never had any desire to look any further.

I was very happy to find that Andhadhun was nothing like that, though music and singing is featured heavily in it, and I mostly enjoyed myself with this. Like others, it did take me a little while to settle in and really engage with the movie. The first half of the film felt a bit uneven and a little bloated - in particular the scenes involving music felt like they went on for too long, but the crazier the movie got the more interested I became. That said, at 139 minutes the movie probably could've done with fewer twists and turns and benefited from some streamlining, but it was a fun ride and I'm glad to have watched it even if it doesn't really stand any chance of getting my vote.






Xingu (Cao Hamburger, 2011)

Based on true events, this movie tells the story of a trio of white Brazilian brothers in the 1940s who embark on a journey to open new paths and create outposts and airfields in the previously untouched lands of the Amazon. They would eventually become instrumental in the creation of Xingu National Park.

From a visual standpoint, this is a wonderful film, much of which was shot on location in the park. It also features some pretty solid performances, particularly from Jo„o Miguel. However, in all other respects this movie is kind of a mess. Nobody gets enough character development, very little time is spent with the indigenous people these men supposedly care about, and although we are occasionally told that the film is fast forwarding 2 or 3 or however many years ahead, the actual passage of time is very poorly represented. It does do a decent job though of showing the destruction that happens when white men and native people make contact and, despite its flaws, I was never bored with it. Overall an okay movie and not a waste of time, but not something I can really recommend.