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Mad Max: Fury Road



While not the "10/10 best movie of the year" the internet might say it is, to me Mad Max: Fury Road is a thoroughly entertaining flick where person drive car into other person car and big explosion happens. Needed more guitar man tho.

The Social Network



For me, I usually care much more about who's writing a movie than who's directing it. I think it's a lot easier for a mediocre director and a good screenwriter to make a good film than vice versa. There are a few guys who stand outside this generalization and Fincher is absolutely one of them. Not saying the screenplay here isn't great, because it is, but to me what makes this film work is just how well Fincher is able to piece together scenes to make a very compelling narrative. Also hahaha it's funny lizard man do you get the joke he is lizard

There Will Be Blood



This is one of my favorites, but I don't want to sing its praises since I think it's best going in blind. What I will say is that this movie is almost perfect in every way, and I think you could analyze and dissect it for hours. What I think's more fun, and more entertaining to read as you slurp down that coffee like the drone you are, is what sucks in this film. There is one scene, one scene in the 158 minute running time that pulls a Perfect Blue and just throws all the subtlety out the window. I won't say what it is for those who haven't seen the film, but it gets pretty cartoony and two-dimensional for this one scene, before getting back to the great stuff. For any other movie this would take off some points, but the rest of this film is so ******* good that I don't think it matters all too much.

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Been watching too many good movies lately, I'll try to see some ****tier ones and let you fine folks know how agitated they make me because that makes for better entertainment.



Dark of the Sun (1968) -

Mercenaries hired to snatch some diamonds in the Congo. A good movie with a low-buttoned shirt and hair on its chest. The score is an excellent Morricone knock off, albeit too light for often brutal & heavy content. Other than that, it's a little too tightly edited for my liking. The gorgeous scenery feels cramped.


The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971) -

Aggravating young Satanic collective up to no good. Harbors an authentic enough 1600s atmosphere within a nice rural setting. Good dialogue and acting too. Despite some silly zoom-in scares, it's probably better than I'm giving it credit for, but it just never grabbed me.


Blast of Silence (1961) -

An anti-social hitman on a job. It's got a ton of dark noir-ish style, and is a pretty good character study of someone that, without sinister narration detailing his inner thoughts, would seem like a pretty unremarkable fellow. Some character actions seem unnatural, and the composer could use an odd dose of ritalin.


Memories of Murder (2003) -

An old favorite that I hadn't seen in years. A group of knuckle-happy detectives in a military-governed South Korea investigate (and attempt to frame) certain oddball suspects for a series of murders. The characters drive the story, and are able to pull off comedy without diminishing the gravity of the subject matter. This has to have one of my favorite epilogues too; bitter and chilling.



A system of cells interlinked
The Town

Affleck, 2010



Excellent crime thriller set in my neck of the woods. Perfectly paced with some excellent performances. Be careful down Charlestown, alright kid?



Stalker

Tarkovsky, 1979



Hypnotic and thought provoking, I don't think I quite understood some of it, but I was certainly pulled into the proceedings. Watched this in an effort to 100% the recent best-of list. Probably deserves a higher mark, but some sections were a struggle to get through. I am sure that is all on me.



OK, now that we have the actual films out of the way...


Xanadu

Greenwald, 1980



Awful stuff. Love every second of it. Watched it with my two year-old daughter and she was dancing along with the musical number. Will watch again, probably soon.




The Warriors

Hill, 1979



Not so awful stuff. Love every second of it. My wife hates this movie, so there is a constant barrage of derision funneled my way whenever I watch this, to which I respond by proceeding to quote the film for a week straight after I watch it.

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"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP



A system of cells interlinked
Goodfellas

Scorsese, 1990





Cheery, light-hearted family film about a sweet old lady who makes great marinara sauce, and her kind-hearted son and his two neighborly friends. OK, only the sauce statement is true, but that doesn't stop Goodfellas from being one of the best films ever made.


The Quick and the Dead

Raimi, 1995





This one was a mixed bag for me. Some stuff to like here, but it also felt like Raimi took Hackman's character from Unforgiven and plopped him down in a decidedly worse film with a boilerplate script and Sharon Stone doing a Clint Eastwood impersonation. There were some cool shots and Hackman killed it as usual, but overall, not a great flick.



A system of cells interlinked
Amelie

Juenet, 2001





It had been a while, but it was finally time to revisit Ms. Poulain. I went ahead and watched it twice this week. Close to a perfect film.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
The Song of Bernadette (1943)



After 40-odd Johnnie To films I thought that as much as I love the HK auteur, I indeed should tackle another director. I'd love to write about To and his films but I have no idea how to approach this. Meanwhile, I decided to watch my first Henry King.

The Song of Bernadette is a panegyric and the makers never try to hide it. From the opening title saying "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible." (the line is later repeated by one of the characters toward the end of the film), to the solemn nature of the visions, it's pretty evident this is a work of a laudatory nature.

The miracles are evident and aplenty, leaving very little to the imagination. This is not Ordet, patiently waiting to strike in the finale, nor Stars in My Crown, poetically electrifying with its miracle and then surprisingly showing that where God cannot cope, man must help Him. No, The Song of Bernadette is something else. It's a big Oscar-winner on a saint. Not devoid of poetry, mainly found in its riveting cinematography, Jennifer Jones' coy performance, and the juxtaposition between the exterior and interior - especially visible in the monastery scenes towards the end, the film oftentimes takes the literal route. Mary manifests herself in the image of a beautiful lady with gold roses on her feet - an image quite possibly taken from some classic painting of the time. There's a point to be made about how the viewer sees Mary just like Bernadette does and if and what it entails but I don't know enough about Henry King to draw any conclusions about his intentions. Perhaps he was simply enamored with early silents like Vie et Passion du Christ. ;)

It's not a huge spoiler to say that Bernadette's life wasn't devoid of suffering and it's interesting to note how her profile matches your average Christian saint darling (one could say that Christianity - especially Catholicism - is at its root leeringly sadistic). As a person who used to be Catholic and now boasts of atheism, I declare I never found the idea of saints especially believable, hence why I seem to prefer films where miracles happen mysteriously, by the intervention of a Light. I think the mystery is a big part of faith. That's why I'm not a fan of depicting gods literally. But that's more of a personal preference.

Besides the intriguing photography (a few times the camera is held lower than necessary resulting in a worm's-eye view), and Bernadette herself, two well-fleshed-out side-characters have their little arcs that work better than expected. Writers managed to avoid playing some very questionable tones, and it's very easy to imagine how you could go too far with Vincent Price's character (had no idea the actor was going to be in this film).

By no means do I deem The Song of Bernadette a masterpiece, and I can name some better films both about saints and miracles, but the film's sanctified character makes it easy to get into, the seemingly outrageous 156 minutes go by relatively fast, and your questions and doubts about Bernadette should keep you thinking as much as it did Sister Marie Therese (although probably not for 10 years).
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In the strictest sense lesbians can't have sex at all period.



A system of cells interlinked
Dazed and Confused

Linklater, 1993





This is a bit better than I recall it being, or perhaps my tired ass is just longing for more carefree days. Anyway, gets the period right for the most part, and captures the vibe of the era fairly well.


Parasite

Ho, 2019





My wife still hadn't seen this, so we fit it in over the weekend. She loved it, and I thought it was just as good the second time around.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
China Girl (1987)



Ferrara's West Side Story (because, obviously, both take the central idea from Romeo and Juliet). The youth revolts against tradition and the status quo. Some fight using love, others using hate. Correctly points out that a China Girl is all you need to be happy. ;) Look out for a young racist Horatio Caine long before his YEEEEEAAAAH days. Expected a minor Ferrara but this is up there with his best.

跟蹤 [Eye in the Sky] (2007)



Allegedly directed by To's screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi but, come on, by now it shouldn't come as a surprise that this was most probably ghost-directed by Johnnie To. Thanks to To's masterful directing and Cheng Siu-Keung's cinematography we get yet another exceptionally shot crime thriller. Seriously, any other non-arthouse HK film feels so boring and plain after a To. I turned off another Milkyway Image production, Looking for Mr. Perfect directed by Ringo Lam, partly for that reason (I love Lam's On Fire Trilogy and blast-of-a-film Full Contact and I like Shu Qi so I guess I will have to get back to it - I was pretty tired, I gotta admit). Eye in the Sky might seem quite regular screenplay-wise but there is a surprise or two along the way, and Johnnie To uses his skill to make it insanely watchable. Not to mention Simon Freakin' Yam tellin' jokes and mentoring rookie Kate Tsui (she's such a cutie!). Loved it.

Trở Về [The Return] (1994)



A beautiful feminist melodrama ala ennobled Sirk*, in which invisible lines cruelly divide people while the hegemony of rectangles over human silhouettes covers deep wounds. While my first Đặng Nhật Minh and his best When the Tenth Month Comes and his best 90s film Nostalgia for Countryland are quite open in their poetic beauty, The Return, not unlike Guava Season, is a much more cryptic film. It's easy to understand the general story and the feelings of the female protagonist, but the exact goings-on are often deliberately obscured, left ambiguous, or concealed. After having seen 6 Đặng Nhật Minh films, I pronounce him the best Vietnamese director ever (take that, Trần Anh Hùng!). He's a guy whose films look so simple but hold such poetic power that they bring tears to my eyes. I can't wait to watch his last film Don't Burn! Miss Nhung is another one I haven't seen but no English subtitles are available! Shame!

* I feel kinda bad name-dropping Douglas Sirk so much, especially given I'm not a fan of his. Constantly mentioning Sirk signifies that I'm probably giving him too much credit. Anyway, by ennobled I mean a much more reserved and pure. Pure poetry, that is, crystallized on screen.



Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996) -

Graboids have been reported somewhere in Mexico, and a company offers the Graboid-tested Earl Bassett $50,000 per kill. He declines. They don't raise the price. He accepts.

Fred Ward is such a cool & likable lead. Perfect for the self-aware humor and jovial spirit of the movie.

WARNING: "Tremors 2" spoilers below
Having mini-walking monsters ruins a lot of the fun though, relegating it to generic monster movie in acts 2&3.



Willy's Wonderland (2021) -

8 robot mascot demons locked in a building with caffeinated Nic Cage. Intentionally stupid and simple. It has a psychedelic style akin to Mandy, but less artsy with a faster pace. Probably what a lot of naysayers wished Mandy was like. Funny and cool.


Special (2006) -

A hapless man volunteers for a medication trial and starts believing that he has super powers. Bittersweet and melancholy. It starts off a little try-hard, but does capture the monotony of life well, which makes it all the more funny and powerful when wild stuff starts happening. It's concise and silly with a low-budget feel, but I was very moved by it.

The Ghoul (1933) -

A dying man pledges his life to Anubis in the hope that he will be resurrected. Largely takes place in a dark, quasi-expressionistic horror house with some Egyptian paraphernalia. The imagery is pretty remarkable, but the movie is just too corny and boring overall. Somehow vapid and melodramatic at the same time.

Xchange (2001) -

In the near future, people can temporarily switch bodies. A promising concept, though it belongs in a time far removed from what looks like present day with some cheap Nickelodeon props. Are early 2000s computer graphics considered retrofuturism yet? This movie has aged like milk and feels a lot like a pervy TV production. Although the part of me that misses Windows XP gradients really likes the goofy weird look, I doubt too many others will.


Crawl (2019) -

Father, daughter, and dog try to avoid hungry alligators during a hurricane. As a lifelong Floridian, I've only had to deal with this scenario three times in the past.

There's some bent logic to conveniently justify more suspense, a little too much CGI for my liking, not enough meth for a more Florida than Florida movie, and the dog is the smartest character.

In all seriousness, I hate alligators. These movies bother me. I look like Chuck Liddell watching a fight on cocaine the whole time.
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Seen in February

Sans Soleil:
Some of the sequences in this have a marvellous combination of image and sound. Even with that, I still somewhat agree with the Vincent Canby’s very negative review of the film, though not nearly as intensely or hatefully. Is a travelogue with nice music really “best documentary of all time” material?

Funeral Parade of Roses:
+ Oedipus Rex but within the context of Japan’s lgbt scene? That’s such a specific premise that I have to wonder how the director came up with it. Matsumoto uses some very bizarre visuals for certain sequences, but they weren’t used often so I would’ve liked to have seen more of it. The interview sections reminded me alot of Paris is Burning or the interview scene in the 400 Blows. I’ll have to check out more by Matsumoto.

All that Heaven Allows:
Lovely use of colours and a cute romance. The characters also feel much more human than most romance films at the time, I felt like I was looking at a real person when looking at Jane Wyman’s character.

Far From Heaven:
One of those films that’s kind a remake but not really a remake. Basically takes the style and themes of Sirk but does it from a modern perspective.I do like how this film somewhat more realistic than All That Heaven Allows (She doesn’t marry the gardener or is completely swept off her feet by him or anything like that).

The Slumber Party Massacre:
Picked this out because I’m planning to watch more women directed films this year to expand my taste. What saves this from being boring is the very humorous conversations between the friends at the party; it makes them seem all the more human. Some of the kills and chases are really good too. Will definitely watch the sequel.

Vampyr:
I believe what adds to the film’s creepy, unreal atmosphere is the blending of styles: It looks like a film from the 20’s, but the way the camera is moved and placed is very ahead of it’s time and it has sound (also don’t forget the blurring and odd effects). This film have one of the most unique atmospheres I’ve seen due to this. Also very empathetic and expressive acting (as is to be expected from Dreyer)

She-Man: A Story of Fixation:
A boring, problematic (but kinda progressive) mess of a B-movie that’s made watchable by it’s hilarious bad acting and a sassy drag queen.

Pink Flamingos:
The use of a live chicken during ‘that’ scene is simply inexcusable. Apart from that it’s a great time; The hilarious, exaggerated way in which people talk is probably the most obvious indicator that this film isn’t meant to be taken seriously, and the film really benefits from that (SOMEONE HAS SENT ME A BOWEL MOVEMENT!). Upcoming John Waters binge? Maybe.

Batman Returns:
Good, superhero fun. I should’ve watched this in December, the Christmas atmosphere is quite tranquil.

Love Meetings:
+ Felt like a lot of the interviews were just the same ideas repeated over and over again, just by different people. I feel like because of this, the film could’ve been way shorter and gotten the exact same message across. Still, it’s very interesting to see how people viewed sexuality back then.

Thriller: A Cruel Picture:
- A rape-revenge that takes a very long time to get to the revenge. Despite this, it’s still quite badass, though in a bit of a silly way (They use slow motion for every, single death in this film and the lack of self-awareness in it is shocking). The soundtrack is quite experimental, as in there’s no similarity in the tracks and everything is so random. Sometimes the music falls flat (Like there’s a scene where she’s just driving but they’re playing untuned Teletubby-esque music?), but sometimes it’s great (that slo-mo martial arts scene with the peaceful, ethereal music is wonderful). I love the gunplay, even if the blood kinda looks like ketchup.



February, 2021 movies watched-

The Slayer (1982)
- Enjoyable enough for horror fans.

[b]Hard Times (1975) Repeat
Not a great movie but a great guy movie.

The Beast in Heat (1977)
+ Mediocre nazsploitation.

The Untold Story (1993)
+ One of the best Cat III movies I've seen.

Days of Wine & Roses (1958)
Better than the more well known 1962 version.

Antwone Fisher (2002)
For this story, the only thing that matters is strong performances.

Amateur Porn Star Killer 3 (2009)
+ Not good enough to compel me to watch the rest of the series.

Trauma (2017)
Highly recommended for those who like the sicker stuff.

Rabies (2010)
The first Israeli horror movie is a good one.

Clash (2016)
Very intense hidden gem.

The Italian Connection (1972)
- A good step below Caliber 9 but still worth watching.

Wild Tales (2014)
Plenty of good moments.

Le Doulos (1962)
Very good Melville crime film.

February viewings-13
2021 viewings-34



Watched some really good looking movies (well, for the most part), here they are:

Hot Fuzz




Bing bang cop go haha!. Starts off as a decently funny film but really picks up near the end. Not as laugh out loud as some other comedies for me but it does a real good job at pulling you in while still keeping up the laughs.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World



This is the best image I could find that didn't spoil anything I'm so sorry

Third time seeing this, was having a pretty dour day and decided to turn something on to give me a few laughs. Obviously, the visuals are the most immediately noticeable thing about this film, and I can't imagine the work it took to get all of this stuff done right. Not just the visual effects, but the choreography really made all the action stand out. There are some goofy shots in there too, but they add to the cheesy charm the movie has. Same with the ending, and however embarrassing it is to say it I think it helped me have a better outlook on things for the following days. Hilarious too, especially the visual gags and more dry stuff. I'd say it's funnier than Hot Fuzz and Hot Fuzz has the better story, but I love this film.

Fantastic Mr. Fox




Fun animated family film with a really cool style. It's really short too, so if you just want something quick and fun to watch this is a good pick.

Speed Racer



There's a good chance I end up writing a real review to this, so I won't say too much or give a rating. I have a pretty personal connection to this film and I gotta decide if I want to include any of that in my review, and I also gotta decide how I want to phrase everything. There's so much I need to include to really illustrate my thoughts, and that balance is delicate. I think that describes this movie pretty well, too. A crazy ass racing/crime/comedy movie like this is many things, but it certainly isn't boring. What I will say is this is one of the most enjoyable and bat**** crazy films you will see, and I recommend it to anyone who can deal with the colors.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Platoon (Oliver Stone, 1986)




Harrowing and poetic depiction of Vietnam as a sort of allegory which works because of Stone's real-life experiences and his masterful control behind the camera. 1986 was a very intense year for watching movies in the theatre. First, there was Aliens which was incredibly nerve-wracking, and then later on, Platoon came along with several hair-raising battle scenes and confrontations. The story is almost simplistic as Charlie Sheen's new recruit is being tempted and has to decide who is really good or evil, Barnes (Tom Berenger) or Elias (Willem Dafoe), but what's depicted on screen is powerful and important, especially in the context of Stone's career. Platoon perhaps uses Barber's "Adaggio For Strings" as evocatively as any film has, and here's the roll call for the cast ("Sound off if you've got a pair"): Keith David, Johnny Depp, Forrest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Kevin Dillon, Richard Edson, Tony Todd, Mark Moses, Reggie Johnson and Dale Dye.
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It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page



March, 2021 movies watched-

The Beast (1975)
- Absurd but amusing when it wasn't boring.

H-8...(1958)
+ Some call it the best Croatian movie ever made.

Magical Girl (2014)
- Surprised I haven't heard more about this.

Sword of the Beast (1965)
+ Pretty good Samourai film.

Underground (1995)
A crazy amount of energy.

Brother (1997)
Grimy Russian crime film.

Greenland (2020)
Hard to say how good it is but I was entertained the whole time.

Maria Candelaria (1944)
Decent Cannes' winner.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
A decent story and movie from Ebert's list.

Taste of Cherry (1997)
My 3rd movie from the director and I'm not a fan.

Fallen Angels (1995)
Loved the style but it didn't take me anywhere.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)
- A good movie that's better suited for people more spiritual than I.

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)
+ Like having two excellent movies in one.

Another Round (2020)
- Great story about a topic I can relate to.

March viewings-14
2021 viewings-48



Seen in March

(Lots of online film festivals this month!)

Dirty Computer
: Don’t know what I was expecting from a short film made up of music videos, but I found out that it’s not my thing.

Supernova
: A wonderful romance film that you’ll have to get the tissues out for (Tissues for crying! You pervert!).

Jumbo
: Doesn’t do enough with its concept I think.The whole point of the film is to show the absurdity of a woman falling in love with an inanimate object. Only, it’s not that bizarre, because the object is actually sentient in the film. The whole bizarreness of the situation would’ve been way more compelling if the object was actually inanimate, I think.

To the Moon
: A collage film made up of clips from films that showcase/talk about the moon with no references at all to space travel or the moon landing. Very unique idea and well made, but just wasn’t my thing.

Hold Your Breath (1924)
: Alright comedy about a woman climbing on a building Harold Loyd style.

Another Round
: Wonderful tragic comedy, can’t wait to see it again.

The Crazy Ray
: Probably not the director’s intention, but this film is a f*cking nightmare for anyone afraid of heights: There’s scenes where characters are just ideally sitting on the edges of the Eiffel Tower and it's terrifying.

Gunda
: If Béla Tarr made a nature documentary. An incredibly meditative film that really takes its time. The ten minute long take at the end is simultaneously boring and heart-wrenching.

Boys from County Hell
: Has some funny moments and good effects, but the plot points are so predictable that I’m fully convinced it was written by an algorithm.

Source Code
: An overall solid film that has one issue that I’m probably the only person in the world that cares about.
WARNING: spoilers below
At the end, the main character steals a man’s life and goes off with his girlfriend. That’s incredibly deranged but it’s depicted as a happy ending


Lapsis
: Really like the first half where there’s a great sense of mystery and exploration in this unique sci-fi world, but in the last 30 minutes the mystery is swiftly resoled and it becomes a different type of film. Would loved it if it stayed with the tone of the first half.

Pulse (2001)
: The first half is really good and has some of the most effective scary scenes I’ve seen in quite a while, but it lost me in the second half when it veered off in to a very different plot direction.

Lost in La Mancha
: Quite incredible that a film can go so badly so fast.

He Dreams of Giants
: Sequel to Lost in La Mancha. Repeats the same concepts of the craziness of the filmmaking environment but has a more positive tone.

The Butcher Boy
: A really sad dramedy about a boy going insane. Very good child acting.

Body and Soul (1925)
: Starts out really slow, but soon picks up steam with some great acting.

Police Story 2
: Not as funny or action packed as the first one, but still good.

Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life
: Interesting documentary about a group of people I never heard about before.

Beauty Prize (1930)
: The version I watched has an extremely clever use of transitioning from silent to sound, but I just wish the film was shorter.

A Kiss from Mary Pickford
: Some of the jokes were really funny and the actual cameo from Mary Pickford was cool, but I found it forgettable.

Delicatessen
: Love the style, love the comedy, love the action scenes. I need to see more from this director.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1929)
: Solid gothic tale that unfortunately has a few reels missing from it.

A Star is Born (1954
: A bit too long, but the songs are amazing and the emotional beats are really effective.

Simone
?: An sort of bad sci-fi comedy that I fully expected to go into Southland Tales/Under the silver Lake levels of entertainment, but it gets too sentimental towards the end and the characters are not at all interesting.