22nd Hall of Fame

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Before anyone points it out, yes I do realize that I said very little about the film itself in that write-up. I didn't mention the performances or the cinematography at all. However Joker is a film were the context of its release was very important to my perception of it, so that's what I decided to focus on.



I agree that the controversies around Joker were stupid and I'm not a fan of Phillips (Old School is the only other one of his films I like, but I've not watched it in awhile) or his comments but I think he created something special here. I'm glad I made you watch it, Cosmic.



Many pianists consider Mozart to be one of the hardest composers to play due to the nuanced touch needed, yet in Shine the "professionals" condescend to it; "He'll start with Mozart" says the piano teacher when taking in David. In real life, many pianists would tell David to start with Rach 3 and transition to Mozart.
I remember hearing this a long time ago regarding Mozart: Musicians hate Mozart because amateurs can play him but professionals can't. I think the condescension is usually cover for not being able to play it as intended.

I really liked Shine. The "Sock it to us Liberace" scene is one of my favorite scenes of all time but I'm a big fan "How do you like dem apples?" kinds of scenes.



I remember hearing this a long time ago regarding Mozart: Musicians hate Mozart because amateurs can play him but professionals can't. I think the condescension is usually cover for not being able to play it as intended.

I really liked Shine. The "Sock it to us Liberace" scene is one of my favorite scenes of all time but I'm a big fan "How do you like dem apples?" kinds of scenes.
Actually most Mozart piano pieces are not that difficult, certainly for an accomplished pianist. In fact they're fun to play for the musician, but can get boring for the audience. In that way it's similar situation to Dixieland jazz.



I can't find a decent copy of I, Daniel Blake so I may have to watch Inglorious Basterds and Joker first. Those are my last 3.

3 ballots are in already. Nice job guys!



Inglourious Basterds



I had watched this previously for the 7th Hall of Fame and I was pretty indifferent to it, swaying on the side of not caring for it. My initial thought was that this rewatch would either prop it up quite a bit or that I would just pretty much hate it. What happened was the latter.

That's not to say there isn't good in the film for me. I really enjoy Christoph Waltz's performance as Colonel Landa. The brightest bright spot in the whole film and if the film were done as magnificently as it was done through chapter 1 I would really like the film. Loved the dialogue of Waltz in it and it had a lot of great shots like the Jews who were hiding eyes poking out of the floorboards, really well done. All the chapters to follow it are just not up my alley.

I really disliked Brad Pitt in this film, not to mention his annoying accent. Usually like him so it was a bummer. Also didn't care for Diane Kruger in this. As for Tarantino, people always hate me for saying this but I think he emphasizes style over substance to much that it affects the stories he tells. And that's my biggest negative with this film, especially with that ending. Not saying it's a bad film in general but it certainly isn't a film that is for me either.




I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Inglorious Basterds
If there are issues with it it is Hitlers cartoonish performance
I meant to mention this too. It's like an unnecessary spoof of the Downfall Hitler meme (which was totally serious in the original, and didn't need spoofing, because the meme was the spoof).



I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

The Matrix (1999)
Laurence Fishburne is very good in this...nobody else is




Blue Ruin (2013)

Hell yeah! Gotta love a movie with Jan Brady toting a Tec 10 semi auto, like some backwoods survivalist in a modern day Hatfield and McCoy feud. I didn't even know Eve Plumb was in the movie and then the credits rolled, good thing I watched them as otherwise I'd never had spotted her.

I should probably hate this movie, but hot damn, I really liked it. Right at the get go where we see the homeless guy and follow him around... all without him speaking, I knew then that I liked this movie. I mean he could've just went dumpster diving for the next 90 minutes and I would've dug it. It just felt so much like what I call 'honest cinema'. I loved the style of film making and the actor/character was interesting too and that's about all I really need to care about a film. Gosh I wish more movies were made without the bombastic need to 'wow' the audience.

Yes Blue Ruin had some graphic violence, but...and this is a big but...the film never presented that violence as tawdry, cheap thrills. I just watched Oldboy and that film made the graphic violence seem like a thrill ride in an entertainment park. Blue Ruin never did that and for that reason I was OK with the violence as it was done 'matter of fact'. That's the best I can explain that. The violence was there, but it was never presented as a reward to the movie goer, instead the violence was an integral part of the story.

Loved the low key ending, less is more and that ending worked perfectly. Blue Ruin is why I keep joining these HoFs!

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I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach 2016)

The strong British working class accents were hard for me to understand. Luckily Dave Johns is the kind of actor that you can feel his thoughts and see his growing anger at his frustration over loosing his ability to work and make a living. All he wants is to to pull his own weight but a heavy bureaucratic system, that seemingly is well intention, ends up treating him like an invalid.

I liked the honest, indie style of film making here, and ironically I, Daniel Blake reminds me of Blue Ruin. Very different stories, but similar direction, where the character's inner self and actions tells the story, without the need for cinematic tricks to cue in the viewer on how to feel.


When Daniel meets Katie who has two kids who's also struggling with money...we then see it's people helping people that counts for the most. That's in juxtaposition to what the government agencies do.

I liked the food bank scene the best. What I really liked about it was the set design. It's a little warehouse set up to look like a poor man's version of a grocery store. And that set says it all! The British government agency's mean well and tried to help these forlorn, destitute people, but by doing so with their sad little 'grocery store' of warehouse food, it just all looks so hopeless and depressing. Good nom.


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I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
I, Daniel Blake

We should all be drinking a lot more bloody coffee.

I’d always put off watching this, not because I thought it wouldn’t be good, but because I thought it would be frustrating to watch. The idea of watching a Ken Loach film is a bit like the idea of having a salad for lunch - it's probably good for you and you won't be sorry you did it, but it's harder to muster up the enthusiasm for it that you might for something less bleak sounding! I’m glad this HoF did make me finally watch it.

There’s an inherent difficulty in conveying the boredom and frustration of dealing with bureaucracy without making the film boring – watching someone on hold to a government agency is only mildly less irritating than being put on hold by them yourself. But while it was a little slow to start, the film manages to inject some humour and humanity in amongst the hopelessness of a man being ground down by a catch-22 system.

Having read many articles on the problems of the new benefit system and the disability assessment process, I wasn’t sure what more there would be to learn from this film – and it is a film that very obviously wants you to learn something – but what it did do was put a human face on the problem. People aren’t customers or service users, they are individuals and the system isn’t always built to handle individuals. It’s inconvenient coming up against a difficult tax form or ticking the wrong box online under normal circumstances – when a mistake in the system means you won’t eat that month, it’s more than inconvenient, it can be life or death.

I think it had a good point to make on the reliance on computers which can exclude older people, people who can’t afford a computer or people with disabilities who find it hard to use one. It’s not just government services who are guilty of this – banks want people to bank online, shops want to email your receipt etc. – but when it is government services accessed by more vulnerable people it is pretty shocking. I know a few older people who just wouldn’t be able to access services online.

I thought for the most part the performances were very natural and real – I believed in Daniel and Katie absolutely. Some of the supporting cast were a little too deliberate in their portrayals – the unhelpful job centre woman, for example – but at other times I wondered if they had just brought cameras into real locations like the library or the foodbank. There were just a few things at times that undermined the realism – the computer making a bleep noise when the form was filled in incorrectly, the police car putting the flashing lights on - and that was a shame because it then made me question the veracity of some of the other things shown in the film.

The scene in the foodbank was absolutely the stand out scene of the whole film – unlike some other things that happened later, I didn’t see that coming so it was all the more shocking and dramatically effective. It also made me want to donate more things to the foodbank so I guess in that sense, job done.





JOKER

Todd Philips takes a deep dive into the drama genre and emerges as a dark horse rather than the donkey he reluctantly became in the clammy confinements of comedy. No one is laughing now, because Philips has proved that he can take the reins with rage and ride off into the darkest corners of the DC universe. In the center of it all, we have Oscar-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix, who certainly wasn’t a joker in the award season line-up. He arguably delivers his best performance as Arthur Fleck, the awkward and mentally unstable mama’s boy who proves a product of society in the worst ways possible…

The film is a character study and I agree that it relies heavily on Joaquin Phoenix. But Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, who then eventually becomes Joker. That is the story it wants to tell. How Fleck breaks down and breaks free from everything around him, emerging as a phoenix from the filthy ashes of a society in early apocalypse. As with the title card in the beginning, Joaquin as JOKER really does take up the entire screen with his towering performance of this pitiful lunatic luring the audience into his twisted mind. The movie grows from within Arthur, telling its story from the inside out, digging its way out through the dirt. Joker, or Arthur Fleck, is the jumping board for the story that jumpstarts every single element around him. In the reality of the film, Arthur is a product of society, but in the realities of filmmaking, the society is a projection of Arthur.

It truly is a film build in and around Arthur in every sense of the word, all the way down to the framing, camera and lenses used – large format cameras, often relying on intimate close-ups or distancing wides, combined with the use of telephoto lenses and the constant bokeh-blurred-background used to truly isolate the isolated. Joaquin as Arthur is secured as the main focus, literally, closing out the world around him. All the close-ups are uncomfortable, cunning and uncanny, while the wides are isolated, atmospheric and awkward. I wouldn’t argue, that parts of the technical aspect and possibly the entire story aspect is very explicitly presented, but honestly, it isn’t more on the nose than the clown wearing it. I don’t know if that saying works, but my point is that it’s quite obvious what the intention is from the start, and it never tries to be anything else. Philips isn’t the best writer and he could improve as a director too, but as for many people working in comedy, they seem to understand human emotion better than most and he has a flair for creating atmosphere too.

It may be a very surfaced film filled with dents, about a man suffocating in society and eventually rising to the surface where he can finally breathe. But surfaced or not, that very surface is deliciously rusty, all scratched up and worn out. It just works, and even with a limp script, Philips lifts this world and the character right off the pages – the comic book and the movie script. We feel Arthur’s thoughts, feelings, emotions and motivations hiding behind the façade… Joaquin has taken a lot of the credit, and rightfully so, but one shouldn’t wash away Todd tugging away behind the curtain, pulling all the strings to this amazing setup for Joaquin. The performance is undeniably exceptional, but the atmosphere equally so. All the technical aspects mentioned earlier, combined with the towering score that made me sink down in my seat watching this in the cinema. The feel of the movie is so demanding and so dictating in a way. Some may not like that and view it as being too obvious, too much or too attention seeking. And in a way I would agree. But it is hard to fault a movie for the fundament it builds and presents us with. That you wanted another film with another angle and another execution, that’s fine, but in no way do I feel like the film isn’t true to itself from beginning to end.

Also, no one can deny the underlying layer of obvious yet important criticism towards the system that eventually creates Joker. That aspect is very real. I honestly admire the film for its boldness and bleakness in this area, which also seems to be what caused the controversy surrounding the film. Some may see it as a joke with no punchline, some may feel it as a punch with no joke, but the fact is that a joker can be anyone and anything and the controversy is almost a contradiction in itself. When Arthur finally rises up in the midst of riots and roars, while wounded and bleeding, he turns hurting to happiness and completes the transformation into JOKER with a smile created from pain… grinning outside and in. And at the very end, we get this little epilogue of our hero… born in hell… living out his own heaven… walking into the sunset in his own twisted, almost taunting way. Because the enemy is not he, but thee who wants him captured and not cared for. They don’t care… they just send in the clowns… the genuine clowns of our society. Not those with make-up, but those that make up excuses with made up facts. Now that's the true jokers, ladies and gentlemen - and indeed... they wouldn’t get it.






Here's my honest question though and remember I need to rewatch the film because I've only seen it once as well: will Phillips ever make another really good movie?



That’s one hell of a review Meds!
Thank you very much, Miss Vicky.

I was struggling a bit after writing the first two paragraphs, but now a few days later, the rest came out no problem right after my breakfast today. I think it turned out pretty well.

Here's my honest question though and remember I need to rewatch the film because I've only seen it once as well: will Phillips ever make another really good movie?
I think he’s only gonna improve. Now he proved himself with Joker so I think he’ll let himself unfold more. And now so will the studios now that that saw what he can bring in.



I’m only missing one and a half movie. And I’ve deliberately been holding back on the rewatch of Dronningen since I saw it fairly recent and want to make sure the rewatch makes perfect sense for me when I finally jump in.

I’m currently in the midst of watching State of Seige and it really isn’t for me. As expected. There’s two things I hate. One is to not finish a movie in one sitting and the other is to stumble upon movies that “isn’t for me” because I feel like all movies have something to offer. And I want to like them or at least understand them. But I’m truly struggling with this one. I’m not much for commenting on movies before finishing them either. But anyways... it has taking me two attempts to get to the halfway point. I’m definitely gonna finish the last hour in one sitting.



I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Waco: The Rules of Engagement

I didn’t know anything about the siege in Waco before watching this movie, which was a bit of a problem as the film assumes you are familiar with it and doesn’t explain, it just jumps right in. I pieced together what had happened, sort of, but it the whole thing was like a counter argument to an argument you haven’t heard which was odd; a summary at the start wouldn’t have gone amiss.

There is a clear bias here. Obviously most documentaries do have a viewpoint, and I get that the thrust of the film was uncovering or exposing elements of what had happened that had previously been hidden, but not being at all familiar with the ‘official’ version of events, it felt very uneven. There were a few times I was sceptical of what they were saying and wondered what the other side of the story was – especially when the evidence presented was just a blurry picture that supposedly showed gunfire. Sometimes it seemed clear. Sometimes it seemed like conspiracy theory speculation – something red near a tank is not definitely a person who wore a red shirt. Sometimes it raised more questions than it answered. A more rounded picture of the story might have made a better film.

It’s clear that there has been some heavy-handed action by the FBI, resulting in a large number of deaths, and some kind of cover-up. Some of the information presented in the last half an hour of the film is quite shocking. It’s a shame it takes the film two hours to get there, bogged down in the minutiae of what kind of warrant they had.

Despite the obvious and shocking culpability of the government forces here, I think the film’s efforts to present the Davidians as innocent victims was misjudged. It glosses over the crimes alleged to have been committed by Koresh, including child abuse. It also doesn’t really explain what efforts were made by the FBI and negotiators to secure the safe release of the children, although there are brief clips of a negotiator mentioning them, so there must have been something. Clearly they have been failed by both the Davidians and the authorities. Nobody really comes out of this film looking good.

Towards the end one of the contributors says that justice and law should mean a man having a trial, whatever his crimes, not just being killed outright. True, of course, but the other side of that is that when accused of crimes he should submit himself to trial, not shoot the people with the warrant and hole himself up in a compound with an illegal stockpile of weapons and a bunch of child-bride hostages for human shields.

I read on wikipedia that this film was produced by gun rights activists. The funny thing about guns and religion, two central aspects of this story, is that everyone wants freedom for their own guns and their own religion but tend to get a bit worked up about other people exercising theirs. That goes for both sides in this.

I think this was quite a poorly made film. The storytelling was poor. There was no attempt at presenting the information in an interesting way, either in terms of organisation or visually. The music was awful. At one point there is what is clearly quite emotional and shocking testimony from a survivor who is almost in tears, but instead of allowing his testimony to speak for itself, it is almost drowned out by the music. I was unsure about the decision to show the charred bodies. It might have been provided as evidence of how they died, but I think the real reason was the shock value and it felt a little exploitative.