My 2024 Watchlist Obsession!

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What problems did they have with the middle third, then?
I don't remember the specific issues. I think it was along the lines of finding it less interesting than the first and final third.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Orson Welles

I'll never forget Chimes at Midnight - mostly because of how stuck I've been with it for what feels like forever. I've been ill, and I pushed everything aside to just rest and get better - but the minute I felt well enough to sit through the film and then write something about it I find out my sister is in intensive care, and perhaps is not going to make it. She's been battling leukaemia, and doing so well - but apparently beating that has robbed her of her biological defenses, and we nearly lost her. I could write nothing - just think of her. I dreaded the news this morning - but she's awake and talking and I'm well enough to start this stalled enterprise once again! Unfortunately my familiarity with Shakespeare doesn't extend to the 'Wars of the Roses' cycle of plays - so I don't have any kind of grounding when it comes to the character of Falstaff (who Welles plays in Chimes at Midnight.) I tried to familiarize myself as much as I could with the plot by reading a bit about it, for I knew if the dialogue was going to be Shakespearean in nature I might find myself becoming a mite lost. That did happen in places, even though I pretty much knew what was going on in general.

While I had a hard time following this, I was the most impressed I've ever been when it comes to how Welles has brought his vision to life through cinematography and editing. There is a never-ending pageantry of great shots, bristling with creativity and providing me with something special to focus on - something I was thankful for. The "Battle of Shrewsbury" part of the movie is exceptional, but Welles makes sure that it doesn't make the movie uneven for most everything in Chimes at Midnight is given emphasis and weight simply by the way it's filmed and framed. Falstaff is a scamp. A loveable rogue who, despite being a thief, drunkard and more, has taken the young Prince Hal (Keith Baxter) under his wing - much to the consternation of King Henry IV (John Gielgud). The king is in the meantime preoccupied with a rebellion led by Henry Percy - otherwise known as Hotspur (Norman Rodway) - something that leads to the aforementioned battle. Will Prince Hal prove himself worthy of his father's crown? Orson disappears into his larger than life role here - he really did have exceptional talent in a theatrical sense. A sixth sense about what was needed in any given situation.

Overall, considering how wrecked I feel, I don't think I was able to give Chimes at Midnight it's full due - but I could still manage to see what it's most passionate adherents love about it. If only there were CliffsNotes for me to use. I wonder if there will be future occasions where I watch this and start grasping everything that's said in it, instead of barely anything. I'm not even quite sure if everything in it comes directly from The Bard, or if there's connective tissue written by Welles in Shakespeare's signature style. Why everyone has to talk in lyric-soaked riddles and make their general conversation poetry is beyond me - but it is what it is, and as such there are those of us who will struggle with it. I wonder why I was so eager to put it on my watchlist, considering how much of a challenge it was - perhaps just so I could appreciate how well made it was, and get another step closer to having seen everything Orson Welles made. I think I've heard the chimes at midnight - or perhaps it's just been a trying week or so.

Glad to catch this one - #830 on Criterion and in Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Watchlist Count : 429 (-21)

Next : The Phantom Carriage (1921)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Chimes at Midnight.
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.

Latest Review : Aftersun (2022)

Easily my favorite Shakespeare adaptation. I think your reaction is similar to my initial reaction, but it's the kind of film which gets better with rewatches once you understand more of, well, what goes on.

I don't know shit about Shakespeare. I guarantee I missed about 80 percent of what Chimes of Midnight offered. But that's enough.

Yet another example of why Welles was better than most at everything. Except success.

The trick is not minding
I haven’t seen Chines at Midnight yet, but I understand it’s considered by many, including Welles himself, to be his best. It’s a shame it wasn’t highly regarded at the time of its release

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Victor Sjöström

Another movie, another tremendously different experience because this comes from such a faraway time and place. Director/star Victor Sjöström is actually the guy from Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, and The Phantom Carriage was one of the Swedish filmmaker's favourite films. You've gotta be curious - features were such a new phenomenon, and this one's structure at first took me aback. It starts with a dying Salvation Army Sister's dying wish to see a particular man, and as people go out to search for him we find him first - telling a story about a man he once knew a while back. We transfer ourselves to that time and place, and before you know it this new person starts telling his own story. Now we're within a story that's within it's own story being told by a man that people are searching for. Once familiarized with the film, it all makes perfect sense - but the first time around you feel you only have the most tenuous grasp on The Phantom Carriage's narrative. It's not a complex tale, but it's told in nonlinear fashion, with many flashbacks and different points of view.

So, the spectral carriage itself is driven by a new person every year - someone who dies on the stroke of New Years, who will be cursed to act as Death himself. Every night as this carriage driver lasts 100 years from a person's perspective - it's a real cruddy job, and this particular year the driver is Georges (Tore Svennberg) - a friend of David Holm (Victor Sjöström), who is the man being sought by the dying Salvation Army nurse with consumption. David is an alcoholic who has caused nothing but misery for his brother, wife and two children - and this nurse had taken his cause up to only be let down and rebuffed by David time and time again. Well, it turns out David has just died - on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve wouldn't you know it, and is being inducted into his new job by Georges - who wants to take him to see the nurse, and show him things much like the three ghosts do in A Christmas Carol. You see, David's wife is about to poison the kids and kill herself - having had enough of the drama. Is it too late, considering that David is now a ghost? I won't spoil anything - I guess it depends on the rules and regulations regarding this Phantom Carriage, which collects souls over a year that lasts (*gets calculator out*) a seeming 36,500 years for the poor soul which has to operate it one human year.

This was really interesting from a film fan's point of view. It's not so easy watching this, because it's dialogue heavy, and you always have to watch characters natter away and wait...and wait...until intertitles finally pop up, with the Swedish text translated for us (I do prefer that authentic touch.) Sometimes we're left to figure out what characters are saying ourselves - and they do gesticulate more than normal people would do - it's very theatrical. Still, it's well shot, although I prefer straight black and white to the many colour tints we get throughout this film. Victor Sjöström is a force of nature, and bellows through the film whether he's drunk, or possessed with emotional desperation - it's a fiery performance. I also liked the nurse, played by Astrid Holm - these were all famous, well-regarded Swedish stars of the stage and screen. I didn't know Swedish cinema was as well established as it seems to have been in 1921 - but The Phantom Carriage seems to be the biggest title of this period - a central work from the biggest name in Swedish film, Victor Sjöström. A fascinating peep through a time gap that now extends past a century.

Glad to catch this one - #579 on Criterion and in Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. It's notable for it's double-exposure special effects, and was released on New Year's Day 1921.

Watchlist Count : 433 (-17)

Next : A Visitor to a Museum (1989)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch The Phantom Carriage.

I haven’t seen Chines at Midnight yet, but I understand it’s considered by many, including Welles himself, to be his best. It’s a shame it wasn’t highly regarded at the time of its release

Is it a shame that Welles didn't get the full wallop of proper recognition in his lifetime? Sort of. I'm sure Welles never doubted what he was though, even though he probably at times resented how frequently he was considered a washed up has been or charlatan.

But he got to make 23 films. Nearly all of them worthy of his legend. And he did it while very rarely compromising his pretty uncompromising vision. If the guy really truly wanted to be a consistent success in his time, I'm sure he could have figured out how to do that. But he would have had to be a smaller and less adventurous man, and it would have shown in his work. Instead, he chose to go where his own instinct took him, and that is why he is remembered. So, I'm sure on some level he must have accepted this fate. Even though I do imagine it was frustrating at times.

With very few exceptions, you don't end up mattering if you try to appeal to everyone. The two things rarely go together. So, I guess we should be thankful that he proceeded exactly as he did, and burned all of those bridges, and got himself laughed into frozen pea commercials.

The tragedy of Orson Welles is very small, compared to the largeness of everything else about him.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Konstantin Lopushansky

The religious no longer say "Amen" in Konstantin Lopushansky's nightmare world created for A Visitor of a Museum (sometimes called Visitor to a Museum.) They say "Let us out." Interesting too that there's a dividing line between those who practice faith and those who seem content watching television and dancing - the former are "degenerates", or mentally ill. Some in his native Russia criticized Lopushansky for lacking a sense of humour, unlike say, a Terry Gilliam - but his post-apocalyptic dystopias thrived on their own severity, and anything funny would have seemed particularly out of place. I still remember his previous film, Dead Man’s Letters, which took place after nuclear Armageddon - this time it's more of an environmental collapse that has left mankind clinging on desperately to a trash-filled, broken, unpredictable existence. Ocean tides flow in and out to such great degrees that abandoned cities can only be explored at certain times - and there's a museum which a man known only as "The Visitor" (Viktor Mikhailov) is determined to see while he's on vacation. It's a trip that will test his sanity, and see him come into contact with the tenuous remnants of a people completely broken - the inheritors of a rubbish dump of a planet, where beauty is a thing of the past.

You can tell that Lopushansky studied under Andrei Tarkovsky - there's that same kind of co-opting of unusual environs, repurposed to represent something new. A world of endless rubbish, deterioration, fire and encroaching ocean. It's a dark world, both literally and figuratively - and that's why The Visitor thinks it hilariously ironic that it's here he's chosen to spend his vacation time. Even the train is simply known as the "dump train" - it's broken down carriages transporting more garbage and dirt than people. It's a violent world, although we rarely see that violence. Religious hysteria also bubbles away under the surface - but it's kept out of sight, with the ruling class sedated by television. A lot of this is pretty dour - with The Visitor waiting at a run down hotel for the tides to change so he can travel to where he wants to go - a trip that will unexpectedly become something of a religious pilgrimage for him after he becomes a target for the cult-like movement the "Degenerate Maid" (Irina Rakshina) belongs to. It becomes a transformative experience, and The Visitor something of a Christ-like figure.

I wasn't so sure of A Visitor of a Museum until I saw it's particularly powerful final scenes and everything seemed to fit neatly into place. Up until then there's such a miserable stasis that the film was testing my patience - a dogged sadness, mixed with failure, dirt, despair, indifference, darkness and desperation. Lopushansky wants to show us a humanity that's long, long past the point of no return, where redemption has become a purely personal matter. With no cause left worth fighting for, the only escape for the lonely is either dogma or mindless entertainment. I don't know how much of humanity remains, but it seems not at all too different from the nuclear wasteland of Dead Man's Letters. It's harsh watching that in such an unrelenting manner, especially when characters just start lingering and losing their motivation. When the tide went out, I thought The Visitor might not even bother going to his museum - which would have upset me. In the end though, the whole carcass of refuse, waste and destruction was under my skin anyway. My anguish matched the pinpoint spot that Lopushansky was aiming for.

Glad to catch this one - it was entered into the 16th Moscow International Film Festival where it won the Silver St. George and the Prix of Ecumenical Jury..

Watchlist Count : 432 (-18)

Next : The Ruins (2008)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch A Visitor of a Museum.

I forgot the opening line.

THE RUINS (2008)

Directed by : Carter Smith

Damn films where the whole premise is a spoiler that's revealed a quarter of the way into the movie - forcing me to tip-toe my way up to it and then write around the central thing that's happening. Anyway - four American travellers are holidaying in Mexico when a German tourist invites them to visit some Mayan ruins with him - once there they're forbidden to leave by some gun-wielding locals. Why? Because the ruins have a ghoulish, deadly secret to them that's basically staring you right in the face from the beginning. Something spreadable. Trapped, they're forced to treat serious injuries suffered when two of them fall down a central shaft, looking for the friends they were supposed to be meeting there. There are forced leg-amputations and some impromptu surgery necessitated by medical emergencies - and then there's that creepy something which keeps threatening the lives and sanity of the kids who can't leave this ancient abode. It's a tale of survival and investigation, and it's kind of a shame the characters aren't a little more interesting, because there's not much more to this 2008 horror film from Carter Smith.

Whenever you're exploring a foreign country, and a taxi driver tells you that the place you want to go to is "a really bad place", I know it's tempting. For some strange reason, tourists feel immune and impervious to danger in foreign lands - as if you have to live there officially to be touched by whatever evil is laying in wait. The kids in this film actually get to declare their invincible "we're Americans!" status, except for Mathias (Joe Anderson), the German, who is the one who is heading down into the temple when the rope holding him breaks. Despite him sorrowfully declaring that he can no longer feel his legs, our four intrepid explorers feel the need to drag him out of the temple - and in pretty short order cut his legs off to prevent infection or something. Turns out he can feel his legs! These kids hardly need any kind of horrendous outside threat - they're dangerous enough to themselves - but after a night on the temple they discover something very creepy happening. They can't leave, because they're surrounded by an armed force - and none of them can speak Spanish, so the bullets and arrows do the talking.

So - five characters are trying to survive on the temple, and what's pretty damning for this movie is the fact that I know one thing : one of them, Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), is studying to become a doctor. That's the only thing I picked up about any of the characters. There is not one other identifying feature about the characters that I can mention after watching the film - their blandness is stultifying. Oh - Amy (Jena Malone) drinks too much, and flirts when she's drunk - other than that these are very random human beings that I seriously don't care all that much about, despite the moments of gore which gave me a visceral empathetic reaction to people being harmed. I'm kind of surprised that this is based on a novel - written by Scott Smith, the author of A Simple Plan. Smith wrote the screenplay, (and also adapted A Simple Plan, which earned him a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination.) There was no nomination for The Ruins - there's simply not enough to it, despite it's winning, creepy premise which I won't mention for fear of spoiling it. There should be more meat on this film's bones - it feels light on, like an episode to an anthology show.

Watchlist Count : 431 (-19)

Next : The Devils (1971)

Thank you to whomever inspired me to watch The Ruins.

I can't for the life of me remember if I've seen The Ruins but I really liked Scott Smith's novel.

I forgot the opening line.
I can't for the life of me remember if I've seen The Ruins but I really liked Scott Smith's novel.
The book reviews do sound really good - I'll grab myself a copy and read it when I get the opportunity.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Ken Russell

I'm thinking I should check out more of Ken Russell's films - his unflinching look at the absurd political power inquisitors could wield in 17th Century France combines sexual repression and corruption in a fiery, fierce film. It tells the real-life story of Father Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed) - a French Catholic priest who wielded some power and influence in Loudun, and ended up getting tortured and burned at the stake after being accused of witchcraft. His accusers were a group of nuns, chief among them Sister Jeanne des Anges (Vanessa Redgrave), who in the film harbours deeply felt sexual desires for Grandier. The trouble starts when she discovers that he's married another woman, after refusing to become her convent's new confessor - two rejections which compel the Sister to go along with the Baron de Laubardemont (Dudley Sutton) and Father Pierre Barre (Michael Gothard) with their plans to have him tried for bewitching her and the nuns in her Ursuline convent. Grandier's own pride and libido have already made him many enemies, despite his efforts to protect his fortified town from destruction, and soliciting the protection of King Louis XIII (Graham Armitage).

Nobody was really ready for The Devils' sexuality when the film came out in 1971 - and it was that aspect which overshadowed it's brilliance so completely that nearly every influential critic rubbished it upon release. While it might seem tame today, you could arguably say that there might be an excess of boobs throughout the middle portion of the film - and certainly enough to satiate anyone who wants to watch The Devils for purely prurient reasons. What probably disturbed some the most was Russell's dogged attempts at sacrilege, with nuns masturbating with crucifixes and using statues of Christ to pleasure themselves - and Redgrave gets to work with Grandier's charcoaled femur during the film's closing stages. Sex is a source of pride and power in The Devils - it both drives most of the characters, influences their decisions, is used to persecute and scandalize and defines a person's spirituality far more than praying and lighting candles can. It's a religion unto itself, and it complicates Father Urbain Grandier to such a degree that he becomes a fascinating character - and I have to say that Oliver Reed is particularly good in this, although sometimes he does look a little drunk.

Okay, so I thought The Devils was pretty fantastic - a film of extraordinary power, and one that I found visually outstanding, very well written, and directed with absolute confidence and a complete lack of fear. Vanessa Redgrave's unhinged portrayal of the deformed, hunchbacked Jeanne des Anges clearly defines her as calculating and cruel from the outset, while being tormented by a confused desire that lights the destructive flame which burns Grandier at the stake. Dudley Sutton is also great, wielding his power with conspicuous relish, and I have to mention George and Mildred's Brian Murphy, because his likeable presence appearing in the form of a torturer's assistant tickled me. Most of us know full well how weaponized religion can be when the state decides to use it to persecute people, and the power of religion and sex combined make for a monstrous beast which perverts the sanctity of love, which is what sex and religion are supposed to be all about. It's the ultimate irony, and an irony that's not lost on Ken Russell or the original writer of The Devils of Loudun - Aldous Huxley. A magnificent cinematic achievement.

Glad to catch this one - Ken Russell won Best Director at the 33rd Venice International Film Festival, as well as from the U.S. National Board of Review. The film appears in Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Watchlist Count : 429 (-21)

Next : November (2017)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch The Devils.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Rainer Sarnet

Rainer Sarnet's November is a mad, mad, mad movie. It takes place in 19th Century Estonia, and immediately introduces us to "kratts", which are jumbles of scrap, pipes, bones, material or whatever that have been animated by giving them a soul (this is often arranged via making a deal with Satan - played by Jaan Tooming.) Kratts basically make life easier for the downtrodden, filth-ridden peasants by doing work, and of course stealing stuff for their masters. The film opens with a kratt stealing a cow, which it drags up into the air - flying about, because of course a kratt can do that. Now - I've just wasted a considerable part of my review on kratts, but November is such an odd beast that kratts are the least of it. Ghosts walk about and converse with the living as if they're still alive - they're dressed in white and clean. The plague takes various forms - a girl, a goat or sometimes a pig - and must be fooled. You fool the plague by wearing your pants on your head, because if it thinks you have two bums then it won't dare infect you. It takes a little while to get used to how strange this movie is, but once you get a grasp on this superstition-as-fact world it's charms will no doubt win you over.

At first November seemed a little random to be, and rudderless, but eventually a love story coalesces - or more accurately, a story about a love triangle. Liina (Rea Lest-Liik) is a werewolf (to be fair, we never see her kill anyone, but she often transforms into wolf form), and she has fallen in love with Hans (Jörgen Liik) - despite her father promising her to the fat, old and disgusting Endel (Sepa Tom). Hans though, has fallen in love with the Baroness (Jette Loona Hermanis), who is far about his station. The two love-struck youngsters try various ways to make the objects of their affection fall for them. Liina is given a magical arrow with which to kill the Baroness, but she fears that killing her would in turn kill Hans by causing him to grieve. Hans promises the Devil his soul in return for a kratt - and proceeds to make his kratt a snowman, who informs him that kratts can't steal people, only livestock. The snowman kratt does recite a lot of romantic poetry though, and tells Hans many tales of love - for he was once water, and has travelled the globe extensively. In the end, what will the efforts of these two lovelorn people amount to?

There is just so much fun to be had with November - every scene has various quirks that simply feel so right. The way people relate to each other, and the socioeconomic reality here, is twisted in a way that makes for an amusing, and very interesting world. The way kratts, werewolves and ghosts are incorporated as if all three are simply a natural part of life is inspired - and extends to people like witch doctors, whose spells now seem as real as the medicines we buy in modern society. Fooling the plague sounds like an old superstition, but in November the plague does take different forms - and has to be fought with wits (something the villagers sometimes lack.) Greed, stealing and corruption are so endemic there's a constant flow of goods - and the low moral fibre is matched by the physical dirt and muck these people are covered in. The pure imagination is matched by some brilliant cinematography, making this an inspired effort that takes a little getting used to, but after that is pure hallucinatory fantasy of the highest order. This is a spectacularly peculiar festival-type movie, and I enjoyed it a great deal.

Glad to catch this one - it won the Spotlight Award by the American Society of Cinematographers, and won Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival.

Watchlist Count : 428 (-22)

Another recent watchlist movie I saw incidentally was Haunt (2019), a not too shabby horror movie.

Next : The Eternal Road (2017)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch November.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Antti-Jussi Annila

The Eternal Road is fine, but it's certainly not a movie to get too excited about. Seems that a lot of people immigrated from Finland to America, and then went home when the Great Depression hit. In the meantime, in the early 1930s, people on the far right in Finland started to kidnap suspected communists and dumped them all in the Soviet Union. "Enjoy your worker's paradise!" Jussi Ketola (Tommi Korpela) is one such man - when we start the film he gets kidnapped by Finnish Nazis, and nearly executed when these thugs can't get him across the border. He escapes, runs to the other side, then wakes up in a Soviet hospital - but he's forbidden to go home. Instead he's told he has to spy on a commune that consists of ex-American Finns who have come to the country voluntarily, thinking that the U.S.S.R. really was going to be a socialist wonderland. Jussi just wants to go home, and be back with his family, but all of those efforts fail and soon he finds himself with a new wife and two kids. He has no real information for his handlers, but soon enough crazed, paranoid charges start to befall this innocent conclave and everyone discovers that the only 'paradise' anyone is going to get close to here is the real one you find after death.

This movie looks really nice - in fact visually, it's something that's deserving of a much better screenplay, and more interesting lead character. Jussi is dull, and even though he's adamant that he be let go, he doesn't take too much prodding when it comes to substituting his old family for his new one. Tommi Korpela's mode of acting consists of much scowling, and he has such a mess of beard, eyebrows and hair that his features just seem to disappear into the tangle. He's too much of an introvert for us to really hitch our wagon to his cause, and instead of raging at each hurdle he just seems to shrug and give in. When an emissary shows him he's been pronounced dead in Finland, he just kind of scowls, gets frustrated, then gives up. His three go-to modes along this journey of his. His remarriage (mere months after his kidnapping) comes completely out of the blue - and by the time the story has got to that stage it's about to barrel through the years and events as if the time apportioned to telling the story has been misjudged. The ending makes little of his momentous final journey, which seems a little strange.

In the end we've learned about the Finnish Americans, nearly all of whom ended up being executed for no other reason than Stalin was suspicious of why they were there. They went to the Soviet Union in good faith, and their end was brutal and completely senseless. The other characters - Jussi's new wife Sara (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and NKVD chief Kallonen (Hannu-Pekka Björkman) make very little impact and are ultimately forgotten as soon as the credits have rolled. I appreciated the bit of history, and the excellent visual aplomb with which the story is presented to us, but ultimately I was expecting much more from a film that was on my watchlist. I guess Finnish heroes are hairy and stoic for the most part, and pretty much roll with the punches while scowling a lot. The end of the film seemed particularly undeserved - but that's all part of the awkward rhythm and pacing The Eternal Road has. The story of one hard to define man asking many times to be let go and being told no. The time and place are interesting - but the protagonist is really lacking.

Happy enough to catch this one - it won a whole heap of Jussi (the Finnish Oscars) Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography.

Watchlist Count : 427 (-23)

Next : Petite Maman (2021)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch The Eternal Road.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Céline Sciamma


This was a really nice movie - warm and bittersweet, but for the most part brimming with love and emotional sincerity. It's a magical movie in which eight-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) briefly visits her grandmother's home when she passes away - staying with her father for a number of days until everything is packed and carted away. While staying there, she visits the woods her mother used to play in as a child, and while there actually comes across her mother, Marion (Nina Meurisse) as an eight-year-old child (Gabrielle Sanz). In this bizarre kind of time-warp, Marion takes her to her home where she meets her Grandmother as a younger woman (Margo Abascal). The young Nelly and Marion become firm friends, and eventually they're inseperable. In the meantime, her adult mother disappears and Nelly must depend on her dad (Stéphane Varupenne) to provide the emotional support she needs to deal with the strange circumstance she's in. It's a film that explores the different kinds of bonds a child makes with those around her, and how they relate to each other. Nelly wants to know more about her parents, to the extent that she learns so much more about her mother by relating to her as a child.

You know, I was wondering why this was called Petite Maman - that title didn't make sense to me until I found out what this movie was about. It's a departure for Céline Sciamma, because there's nothing about sexuality that's explored here, although she did delve into childhood with her 2011 film Tomboy. The only feature of hers I haven't seen is Girlhood, and that looks like one that's well worth catching. I'd never want to have met my mother as a child, mostly because if she got a crush on me things would have been super awkward. So, I contemplated meeting my father as a child, and kept thinking that I wouldn't have liked him very much (awful of me, but I just know what he would have been like, and that means we wouldn't have got along.) But even though I couldn't put myself into Nelly's shoes, it was incredibly easy to still have my emotional empathy working it's way inside her and feeling much of what she may have been feeling. Love is love - it's just that Nelly has the bonus of being on childhood Marion's wavelength psychologically. It would have been the same with me and my mother - perhaps to too great an extent.

I wasn't looking forward to this movie because I thought I couldn't possibly relate to an eight-year-old girl, but there's something about the joyful sincerity coming from the Sanz sisters that won me over completely. Those two kids were freaking fantastic performers, even when the camera really pulled in close to their faces, and forced them to act - beyond what I would have asked of a child. They were just terrific. It was a sweet, contemplative, lyrical and poignant movie that didn't feel the need to drag itself out like many films do today. It was very emotionally satisfying, and had me thinking a lot about my childhood, and how I related to other kids compared with how I related to my parents. It was beautiful seeing Nelly and Marion slowly build their relationship from the ground up, and the film had a perfect tempo to it as far as that's concerned. The only other thing I have to say is - time gets strange when you get older. I thought the Marion of the past would have been living in a time long since gone, but 8 from 31 is only 23 years - meaning, in 2021, that the young Marion would have lived in 1998. Even the internet would have been around. I remember a time when a household would have one television set, and a radio - and that's all.

Glad to catch this one - Criterion #1181. It was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film BAFTA, and won similar awards at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards, San Diego International Film Festival and Jakarta Film Week.

Watchlist Count : 427 (-23)

Next : Gargi (2022)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Petite Maman.

I forgot the opening line.

GARGI (2022)

Directed by : Gautham Ramachandran

I'm sure Indians aren't as bad as they're made out to be in Indian-made dramas - I've never seen a people portray themselves as mercilessly as they do. I've heard, though, that misogyny is a deeply-rooted problem there, so I'm willing to accept that. In Gargi, we're dealing with the aftermath of a particularly heinous gang-rape of a ten-year-old girl, so there's no doubt that this shocking crime could only be committed by absolute monsters. Four men freely admit their guilt, but one, a security guard called Brahmanandam (R. S. Shivaji) says that he's not guilty. This film revolves around the distress this causes his daughter, Gargi (Sai Pallavi), and her efforts to prove her father's innocence. There aren't many people willing to help her, because of the negative stigma attached to Brahmanandam, but an inexperienced lawyer (who is also a part time pharmacist), Indrans Kaliyaperumal (Kaali Venkat), feels sympathy for her and takes up the case. Indrans has a stammer, and has never tried a case before, so the odds are stacked against the defense in this matter.

Of course, the public behave very badly in this matter. Brahmanandam is presumed guilty, and he's constantly attacked by crowds whenever he's transferred, getting smashed over the head and in a few cases nearly stabbed. People also write horrible graffiti on his family's house, while smashing the windows, and the media hounds Gargi and ask her questions which assume that her father is a child-rapist. In the meantime, the police where he's being held refuse to let Gargi or any of Brahmanandam's family visit him, in contravention of the law - and it looks like he's getting rough treatment while in there. They do this in a cruel manner, letting his family trek all the way there before telling them "He's asleep, try again tomorrow." Throughout the film, we get flashbacks to Gargi's childhood, where she was paid special attention by a lecherous male teacher who would stand close to her, and stroke her while giving her intense looks. It's extremely discomforting to sit through and watch. Oh, and the little girl who was raped nearly didn't survive, because her family didn't want to take her to hospital because this incident would "ruin her reputation".

When thinking of India I have to take into account that this movie got made, so the myriad issues it highlights are up for discussion throughout this nation. I saw a good one that dealt with homosexuality called Aligarh (2015) - but like I say, I can't judge what Indian society is like from these films. I think they give us the feeling that there's much hate and stupidity because that ups the stakes and makes it feel that the good, heroic protagonists are up against it. It certainly feels that way in Gargi. The courtroom scenes don't add up to much here - so if you're hoping for a courtroom drama, be warned that's there's probably only 5 to 8 minutes total out of a long running time. This mostly deals with public perceptions, the media, being a woman in India and corruption - and adds a little mystery to that mix. We even get a musical montage, which felt a little strange for a movie with such a disturbing subject matter. Overall, I have to say that it didn't drag, and kept it's tension running tight from start to finish - it's crisp, sure-footed and careful to put a woman's perspective front and center in a society where most women are 2nd class citizens.

Glad to catch this one - it won various Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards (the Tamil Oscars) such as Best Actress (Sai Pallavi), Best Supporting Character (Kaali Venkat) and Best Screenplay.

Watchlist Count : 430 (-20)

Next : Love Exposure (2008)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Gargi.

I've been wanting to see November for a couple of years now, but I keep sleeping on it. I think it used to be on one of my streaming services, but I am sloth like these days getting around to watching anything, so that opportunity passed me by.

I forgot the opening line.
I've been wanting to see November for a couple of years now, but I keep sleeping on it. I think it used to be on one of my streaming services, but I am sloth like these days getting around to watching anything, so that opportunity passed me by.
I don't want to build it up too much, but at the same time...keep it in mind.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Sion Sono

Four hour movies are always a challenge - I mean, I consider anything over 2 hours a long movie, which makes Love Exposure nearly twice as long as what I consider long. I decided to watch as much as I could last night, and finish off in the morning, but this film was good enough to keep me hanging in there - so I surprised myself by watching from start to finish in one sitting. Now, how on earth do I describe Love Exposure? Religion, parenting, perversion, sin, cults, love, erections, family and upskirt photography all mixed together in a crazed swirl that races forward for an epic duration (that was originally 6 hours, before the pleading of producers was finally heeded.) It's a certain level of funny, because Sion Sono doesn't seem to have wanted this to be a comedy, but at the same time pushes an absurd and amusing tone to the very forefront of his film. We see almost everything from the perspective of main character Yū Honda (Takahiro Nishijima), whose upskirt photography perversion takes off because his depressed priest father Tetsu (Atsuro Watabe) starts demanding that Yū confess greater and greater sins, and the latter is desperate for his father's love, with his mother having passed away years prior.

In the main, Love Exposure is a love story. Yū searches for his "Maria" - a mythical future love that his mother implants into his imagination from a young age. He eventually meets Yōko Ozawa (Hikari Mitsushima) when he helps to fight off a gang of men, but unfortunate complications arise because Yū is dressed in drag (he lost a bet), and as such Yōko thinks that Yū is a woman. Enter cult leader Aya Koike (Sakura Ando), who has been watching Yū from a distance ever since he tried to take an upskirt photo of her. Aya guides most of what happens in this film, acting as a kind of 'puppet master' figure who becomes almost obsessed with Yū, and going so far as to seduce Yōko while pretending to be the woman who helped her fight off that gang of men - all to stop Yū from realising his romantic ambitions. All of this is presented in a very frenetic and fun way, although at it's core the film feels serious, outwardly it can be quite silly while always maintaining a very clever and winning sense of humour. It takes the distasteful act of upskirt photography, and turns it into a kung-fu like act of transcendent martial arts.

Love Exposure, as brilliant as it is (and it is), is going to be a very difficult film to just throw on and watch if the mood takes me. The film's opening title comes up 58 minutes into the film, which must be some kind of record, and it's overall length is daunting. All the same, I loved it. I remember watching Sion Sono's Himizu (2011) a while back, and becoming interested in his films, of which this is probably his most famous, and I have to say it earns it's reputation as a "modern masterpiece". For the most part it's an entertaining story with myriad twists and turns, giving us a particularly flawed protagonist that we cheer for nonetheless, and it takes cues from many old dramatic classics, giving them all a subtle, perverted and surreal twist. The funny stuff keeps us amused, but under the surface the film is working away at it's many themes - with many characters desperately trying to reach each other, but being blinded by their own preconceptions and the influence of others. It's the kind of mix that could only come from Japan, and fans of Japanese cinema would be crazy to miss out on it. It's something special.

Glad to catch this one - it won almost everything it was nominated for, including the Caligari Film Award and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Watchlist Count : 429 (-21)

Next : The Empty Man (2020)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Love Exposure.