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I have to mention I saw the Devil if we are speaking of violent South Korean movies with serial killer plot (like the Chaser).


Though the best SK serial killer flick has to be Memories of Murder.



Invention for destruction (1958) A.K.A The fabulous world of Jules Verne, this Czech film directed by Karel Zeman is based on various works by Jules Verne and is a combination of live action and animation. The film visuals are based on the original style of illustrations in Jules Verne's books and look very unique. An enjoyable watch and I will be checking out more of Zeman's work in the future.



I have to mention I saw the Devil if we are speaking of violent South Korean movies with serial killer plot (like the Chaser).
I wasn't quite as taken with I Saw the Devil (performances were great, I had serious issues with the writing). MKS and I have already argued about this to great extent--like at one point there was borderline name calling involved.

Though the best SK serial killer flick has to be Memories of Murder.
This I will agree with, though in my mind it's a slightly different kind of film than the others. I will never forget seeing this movie when it was first released, in a theater so crowded that we had to sit in the very front row. It blew my mind and the whole audience SCREAMED when
WARNING: spoilers below
the figure runs out of the field in the rain
.



Parnormal Activity 2, 2010, 2nd watch (C)

So this really isn't a terribly eventful series of movies. They're also horrendously under-directed. Some mumblecore that, at some point, gets topical, and camera footage of increasingly apparent, yet never truly interesting paranormal footage. Loud bangs and things moving a bit, a shadow, stuff like that.

It's clear that a franchise was not written before the second movie was in the works, because this takes places a couple weeks before the first movie, includes some major events that should be mentionned in the first one. Not a hint previously given, however. You'd never guess any of the original 2 characters had family.





Shame, 1968

Some films get a ton of different parts of your brain firing, and that is definitely what happened with me as I watched Shame.

A couple named Ava (Liv Ullmann) and Jan (Max von Sydow) live on a farm in the countryside of an unspecified country. A war wages on, unseen by them at first. Then one days jets fly overhead and paratroopers arrive. Despite their relatively neutral status, they come under siege from both sides. As they endure one trial after another, an irreparable rift begins to form between Eva and Jan.

Something that grew on me the more I watched the film was the was that visually it speaks to both the past and a vague futuristic post-apocalypse. You know when you watch a movie and a visual from it resonates incredibly strongly in your mind and you realize it's because it reminds you of another film? Several times during Shame I was reminded of certain shots from The Road.


We've had a few conversations in this thread about what it means for a movie to be anti-war. I think that Shame is a film that can unhesitatingly be given that label. We are never given to understand why the war is even happening, aside from a phrase here and there like "revolution" and "liberation." But these words are stripped of their potentially benevolent meetings. After the paratroopers threaten Eva and Jan, they shove a trembling Eva in front of a camera as "testimony" of their liberation. Later this footage is used in an accusation against Eva and Jan of collaboration with the enemy. Both sides seem to regard Eva and Jan only for what they can take from them and how they can use them. If Eva and Jan ("the people") are meant to benefit from the revolution or the resistance or the liberation, that certainly doesn't seem to be the case.

At a character level, the film is also a damning look at what it means to be brought to the point of just wanting to survive. In the beginning of the film, Jan can't bring himself to shoot or otherwise kill the couple's chickens. By the halfway point of the film, he is willing to commit indirect or even direct actions that kill others. Eva is a ball of frustration. She wants children, but knows that she cannot in good conscience bring them into this world of violence. She is the more forceful of the two (running out of the house to help a stranded paratrooper who is caught in a tree), and although she maintains more of her humanity and empathy, she falls into a more visceral despair.

I've said this before about a movie, but this is the kind of film where I find myself wanting to simply describe things that happened in it ("And then there's this scene where . . . ") as opposed to necessarily analyzing it. I think that this is largely because my response to it was so much on an emotional level, and that can be harder to articulate in a review.

This is definitely one of the more bleak (LOL, I've used that word a lot this month!) films I've seen from Bergman. The imagery it contains of both violence and the aftermath of violence is some of the stronger things in his filmography. Strangely, though I'm sure I've heard of this film before, neither the title nor the plot were familiar to me. I'm incredibly glad that it was recommended to me.




Dial M for Murder


Very entertaining (as can be expected from the Master of Suspense), but I think different casting might have taken this to the next level for me. Ray Milland is very good as the conniving husband, but he's not exactly easy to identify with, and I think someone like Cary Grant (who Hitchcock used brilliantly in a such a capacity in Suspicion) could have complicated the audience's sympathies with his immense charisma. Placing the heroine in the wrong man role is pretty novel at least, and Grace Kelly is very easy to root for. As for John Williams, at first I was thinking I would have liked Jimmy Stewart in the role, but I think his fogey-ishness nicely subverts our expectations of his intelligence (I understand he played the same role in the stage version).

Hitchcock's visual direction is astute as always but also somewhat low-key (the film's stage origins are pretty evident), which makes it interesting that the film was originally made in 3-D. There are a few scenes that obviously would play well in the format (the best known scene, Grace Kelly's trial scene) but given how much of the movie is set in the same house, I'm curious how he would have handled those interior scenes. Definitely would like to see the film in that format eventually.
Good points. Hitchcock wanted to contain the feel in the production, so he kept it filmed in virtually the same set. The whole film was shot in 36 days! He felt that the picture was an easy make because the elements were mostly there already from the stage play, which Warner Bros. had already purchased. He felt that he was "playing it safe" with a tailor made project.

I always felt that Ray Milland was a little too stilted in his portrayal; too pat. The role would have been difficult to cast in any rate. Most name actors of the day did not want to play a bad guy. Hitchcock said that he even changed the ending of Suspicion because he believed that the public would not accept Cary Grant as a bad guy.





In a Glass Cage, 1986

Another rewatch.

The film begins with a man named Klaus (Gunter Meisner) torturing and murdering a young man as he is watched by an unseen figure. Years later, Klaus is paralyzed, kept alive only by an iron lung that churns away in the large home that he shares with his wife, the maid, and his daughter Rena (Gisele Echevarria). One day a mysterious man named Angelo (David Sust) appears, ostensibly to act as a nurse for Klaus. It is immediately obvious that Angelo has some past relationship to Klaus, and as time goes on he begins to exert an influence over the house.

This is a nasty film, and there are certain sequences that are very difficult to watch. Much of the film centers on the discussion of or perpetration of sexual violence and torture against boys. This is my second time watching the movie, and it was interesting to try and remember how I felt the first time I saw it, over 15 years ago, when I had just graduated from college. I had done a lot of academic work related to the Spanish Civil War and Spanish Involvement in World War 2), and I loved seeing how some of that history was explored in films (including things like The Devil's Backbone).

The film explores the notion of the way that violence begets violence, and addresses the way that abuse can become fetishized or internalized by its victims. Klaus's crimes are revisited and re-imagined with Angelo's arrival, and the movie sets up multiple symmetries and echoes between the original crimes and their new iterations. Klaus, alive but turned into a passive observer, exists in a strange place between victim and perpetrator. This includes echoes such as
WARNING: spoilers below
the way that the first boy who ties gasps just the way that Klaus does when removed from the iron lung


The performances in the film are solid, including Sust as Angelo in his first feature film. This includes the performances of the child actors (more on that later), and the whole movie trembles with a fraught energy that means the entire 100 minutes is incredibly tense. There are maybe 3 minutes of happiness or joy or lightness. There are maybe a few moments of dark humor, especially as Angelo begins to transform the house into a literal war zone, but it's never winky enough to pull you from the sense of doom.

One thing that does slightly alleviate the brutality of the film's content is the way that it begins to scale into a sort of larger allegory as it goes on. The relationship between the war and violence and the lineage of violence between oppressors and the oppressed starts to take on a clear thematic presentation. There is a degree of craft and care in the narrative itself and way that the different sequence are filmed that lifts it a bit from feeling like exploitation. It's a fine line, though, and I could easily see another viewer feeling that it crossed that line.

So let's talk about the kids.

The very first sequence of the film graphically shows the torture and murder of a boy who is probably no older than 14 or 15, and many other sequences in the film either graphically describe or show the sexual abuse, torture, and/or murder of boys, sometimes in the context of WW2 medical "experimentation". There is a disclaimer at the very end of the film that all of the sequences filmed with children, "despite looking real", were filmed with consideration of ethics, and the statement is followed by the authorization of a child psychologist. When I listened to the commentary on the film [b]Mysterious Skin[/B, I was amazed when the director described the way that they kept the children from being involved by using editing tricks and special effects. In a scene where a character touches a child's belly, the director notes, "That's not the kid, that's actually a mannequin." Watching In a Glass Cage this time with an eye toward what the child actors were actually doing, you can tell that some tricks were used in this film. But that said, the child actors (I suspect that the person in the first scene was a bit older and possibly even a young-looking adult, considering there is nudity, but the other children are clearly much younger) are actually manhandled and partially disrobed on camera. To me, as I said before, the film barely lands on the "right side" of the question of how child actors and child characters are treated on screen.

I cannot say whether it was the way that the writer/director wanted things, or whether it was a concession to the limits of what you can put on screen, but I did think it was interesting that
WARNING: spoilers below
Angelo's fixation is on death and not the sexual abuse. While we learn that Klaus frequently raped/abused the children he victimized, it's interesting that Angelo is focused mostly on killing them. His sexual fixation is on Klaus himself, but he seems to primarily draw excitement from the purely violent aspect of the crimes and not the more sexualized ones.


Something I noticed very strongly this time around was the way that the film examines the power of gaze. In the very first sequence, it is the stare of his victim that agitates Klaus. Throughout the film Klaus is forced to witness much of the action through a mirror that is mounted on his iron lung--yet another symbol of the way that he becomes a second-hand part of the crimes. We learn that the gaze of his victims both repulsed and excited him. It is interesting to watch Angelo's own sight-lines as the film progresses, as well as those of the daughter, Rena.

This is a hard film, and it definitely won't be for everyone. The subject matter is obviously very disturbing. But I was impressed with both the craft and the message of the film.






Barry Lyndon, 1975

I watched Barry Lyndon years ago and I was not a fan. But enough time had passed that I couldn't really remember the specifics beyond not liking Ryan O'Neal's lead performance. This time around I liked it better (I'd originally given it a 6/10 on IMDb, LOL), but it wasn't entirely smooth sailing.

Barry (Ryan O'Neal) is a young Irishman. The film follows his many adventures and misadventures as he fights for the affection of the woman he wishes to marry, serves in multiple armies, and seeks to find love and a title among English nobility.

This movie is three flippin' hours long. I was set to give a massage and I asked "Hey, do you mind if I put on this movie in the background?", and so that was how I watched the first 80 minutes of the movie. And honestly, it was probably to the movie's favor that I approached it that way. Watching from a more removed state, I was able to better set aside the things I didn't like (O'Neal still stinks) and focus more on what I did like.

This time around (and admittedly watching on a larger TV), I was much more taken with the painterly composition of many of the shots. The movie, whatever else my complaints, looks great. The colors are excellent, the sense of depth and scope. The movie feels epic and never more so than when Kubrick lets the land and the sky take over the top 2/3 of the frame. The locations and sets are also grand in color and size. It is a lush film that feels dimensional.

My struggle with the film is that Barry is just such a tool. He is selfish and impulsive and the film feels like three hours of watching him ruin other peoples' lives. Barry is a cad, and not a fun one. There are a handful of moments of genuine emotion from him that allow you to connect to his character, but it's not enough across the space of so many hours. By two hours I was done spending time with him . . . and then spent another hour with him.

Also, and I realize that this is a minor complaint, WHAT ON EARTH WAS HAPPENING WITH THE CROTCH OF HIS PANTS?!?! He spends so much of the film looking like he's wearing a diaper backwards under his pants, and at first I thought that it must just be the style of the clothes, but no one else in the film seemed to have diaper crotch!

I had a very mixed response to the pacing of the film, and this extends to individual scenes. The camera often lingers and sequences often go on for a long while as characters do things like drink a cup of water or walk down a hall. One part of me kind of appreciated that it was "the pace of life" and gave you a sense of how long these characters were interacting with each other instead of cutting it short with crisp edits. But the downside is that the film is very long and at a certain point I felt like "Okay I get it!! They are walking down a hall! NEXT! SCENE! PLEASE!"

The person on the massage table also had some hot takes, which I feel compelled to share:
1) (sitting up to look at the screen for a moment about an hour into the film) "Oh, god, is that Barry?! His face is so punchable!"
2) "Is this pipe music going to last much longer? I feel like it's been playing forever."
3) "Is this the same narrator who narrates Watership Down?!" (It was--she has a great ear for that stuff).

Then we come back to O'Neal in the lead role. I read that Kubrick had to cast a top 10 box office actor in the role to get funding and . . .fine. But whatever the reason--that's who is in the movie for all three hours. He is simply a black hole of charisma and so bland. It's hard to even feel strong emotions toward him, positive or negative. I would just feel irritation or annoyance or maybe a smidgen of pity. Give me someone I can love. Give me someone I can hate. Give me someone complicated. But don't give me a blank slate. I was willing to overlook the absurdity of everyone calling him a "boy" for the first half hour or so, but there is nothing to the performance and Barry just remains a faintly irritating, diaper-crotched enigma. O'Neal's smarm can work (as in Paper Moon), but not here.

I liked it more this time around, but the combination of a flat lead performance and a lengthy runtime still make it a less than stellar viewing for me.




Love in the Afternoon



Hepburn is charming. Wilder is as talented behind the camera as ever. The film is close to being another classic alongside the Apartment and Some Like It Hot but is kneecapped by the casting of Gary Cooper, who is too old and FAR too wooden to be believable as the charming Playboy the film desperately wants him to be. From that, the cracks in the script show as we don't have the chemistry of their connection to sell the romance.

Originally Cary Grant was sought for this film and given how well they played off each other in Charade, it's a shame that he didn't accept this film. It would've made it an entirely different film.

Cooper has his place (High Noon)but I've yet to see a role of his that couldn't have better by many of his contemporaries.





Barry Lyndon, 1975

I watched Barry Lyndon years ago and I was not a fan. But enough time had passed that I couldn't really remember the specifics beyond not liking Ryan O'Neal's lead performance. This time around I liked it better (I'd originally given it a 6/10 on IMDb, LOL), but it wasn't entirely smooth sailing.

Barry (Ryan O'Neal) is a young Irishman. The film follows his many adventures and misadventures as he fights for the affection of the woman he wishes to marry, serves in multiple armies, and seeks to find love and a title among English nobility.

This movie is three flippin' hours long. I was set to give a massage and I asked "Hey, do you mind if I put on this movie in the background?", and so that was how I watched the first 80 minutes of the movie. And honestly, it was probably to the movie's favor that I approached it that way. Watching from a more removed state, I was able to better set aside the things I didn't like (O'Neal still stinks) and focus more on what I did like.

This time around (and admittedly watching on a larger TV), I was much more taken with the painterly composition of many of the shots. The movie, whatever else my complaints, looks great. The colors are excellent, the sense of depth and scope. The movie feels epic and never more so than when Kubrick lets the land and the sky take over the top 2/3 of the frame. The locations and sets are also grand in color and size. It is a lush film that feels dimensional.

My struggle with the film is that Barry is just such a tool. He is selfish and impulsive and the film feels like three hours of watching him ruin other peoples' lives. Barry is a cad, and not a fun one. There are a handful of moments of genuine emotion from him that allow you to connect to his character, but it's not enough across the space of so many hours. By two hours I was done spending time with him . . . and then spent another hour with him.

Also, and I realize that this is a minor complaint, WHAT ON EARTH WAS HAPPENING WITH THE CROTCH OF HIS PANTS?!?! He spends so much of the film looking like he's wearing a diaper backwards under his pants, and at first I thought that it must just be the style of the clothes, but no one else in the film seemed to have diaper crotch!

I had a very mixed response to the pacing of the film, and this extends to individual scenes. The camera often lingers and sequences often go on for a long while as characters do things like drink a cup of water or walk down a hall. One part of me kind of appreciated that it was "the pace of life" and gave you a sense of how long these characters were interacting with each other instead of cutting it short with crisp edits. But the downside is that the film is very long and at a certain point I felt like "Okay I get it!! They are walking down a hall! NEXT! SCENE! PLEASE!"

The person on the massage table also had some hot takes, which I feel compelled to share:
1) (sitting up to look at the screen for a moment about an hour into the film) "Oh, god, is that Barry?! His face is so punchable!"
2) "Is this pipe music going to last much longer? I feel like it's been playing forever."
3) "Is this the same narrator who narrates Watership Down?!" (It was--she has a great ear for that stuff).

Then we come back to O'Neal in the lead role. I read that Kubrick had to cast a top 10 box office actor in the role to get funding and . . .fine. But whatever the reason--that's who is in the movie for all three hours. He is simply a black hole of charisma and so bland. It's hard to even feel strong emotions toward him, positive or negative. I would just feel irritation or annoyance or maybe a smidgen of pity. Give me someone I can love. Give me someone I can hate. Give me someone complicated. But don't give me a blank slate. I was willing to overlook the absurdity of everyone calling him a "boy" for the first half hour or so, but there is nothing to the performance and Barry just remains a faintly irritating, diaper-crotched enigma. O'Neal's smarm can work (as in Paper Moon), but not here.

I liked it more this time around, but the combination of a flat lead performance and a lengthy runtime still make it a less than stellar viewing for me.

Not that it will make it any more enjoyable, but I think Barry's lameness in contrast to the grandeur of the events around him is the point (O'Neal badness makes him ideal for this role). He basically stumbles up and down in his place in society almost entirely due to external factors. It's like Forrest Gump but if Forrest Gump was a bad person (which makes it a nice antidote to the BS feel-good vibes of the Zemeckis film). I do think that if it wasn't for Kubrick firing on all cylinders on a technical level (the contrast between Barry's selfish, inane motivations and the gorgeous visuals only works because of how stunningly beautiful the movie looks), I wouldn't have nearly as much love for it as I do.



What's wrong with it is that he's not using Charlize.
To me, Tom Hardy was boring as Max. He just really didn't convince me, and some of it was the script, admittedly, that he was anyone as special as Max had been in the previous films. I'm certainly not debating whether Tom Hardy is a better actor than Mel Gibson, but he does not have Gibson's charisma/magnetism/screen-presence.
The movie was always better, for me, when it was focused on Furiosa. And a lot of that is because Charlize is a ****ing master.
She deserves that Furiosa movie and I deserve that Furisoa movie.
Instead we get a prequel with a younger actor (assuming it happens at all). I love you for a lot, George, but **** you for that.

To each his own, then; for me, Hardy's Max was a force of nature as overwhelming as that giant dust storm, like if you took the anti-social loner he was in The Road Warrior and dialed that up to 11, to the point that he seemed like more of a grunting, rabid animal than man at first, before slowly but surely regaining his sense of humanity and camaraderie with other people step by step, inch by inch (which means that he got a meatier arc in FR than he did in TRW, to boot). As far as I'm concerned, he's the new definitive version of Rockatansky.



Barry Lyndon (1975) -


WARNING: spoilers below
I was surprised by how much I loved this film. I know it's a Kubrick film, but since I'm not a fan of historical dramas and given that Barry Lyndon is a middle child between four Kubrick films which are more well-known (2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket), I was wondering if this would be one of his weaker films. But nope, Kubrick blew me away once again.

A major theme of this film is the death of existentialism. Barry's attempts to use his wit and skills to secure a good outcome outside of the system make him an existentialist. These efforts are constantly undermined though. For example, though it initially seems like he kills John Quin in a duel, it's later learned that Quin didn't die and that the duel was a ruse to get rid of him. Also, his efforts of escaping to Dublin are undermined by being robbed. In addition, his plan to join the Seven Years' War to get a pension that will enable him to return home are undermined by his friend dying and, of course, never receiving the pension. Finally, his efforts of deserting the war are undermined by him being drafted into the Prussian Army. Since Barry was unable to change his fate and avoid becoming part of the system, his existentialist ideals fell flat.

The latter parts of the first half are where Barry loses his existentialist ideals and becomes part of the system he attempted to avoid. Saving a Prussian soldier's life in the Seven Years' War is his first turning point. While he initially attempted to create a good outcome for himself by operating outside of the system (again, with no luck), he's now operating from inside the system and doing what those above him would want him to do. Except, he isn't quite ready to be a part of the system. Though he's operating from inside it now, he's yet to master the act of deception. While many people in the film deceived Barry up to this point, he's yet to do the same as Prussian Captain Potzdorf caught on to his last attempt. Eventually though, Barry and Chevalier successfully deceive the Prussians by escaping the country. Marrying Lady Lyndon serves as the final nail in the coffin to his existentialism, causing him to be a member of the system. He's now a deceiver who marries for class and uses violence to settle disputes, just like those around him. He wasn't able to escape this fate.

Now is a good time to mention the cinematography. Most shots in the film are constructed to look like paintings, largely due to the abundance of wide angle shots and how the film was shot only in natural light. While this style is visually outstanding, it also adds to the film's themes. Of course, paintings never move regardless of how long or how many times you view them. They will always tell the same story. I think this aesthetic shows how Barry's story is neither special nor unique. Rather, the character traits we see of him are part of a pattern. Many other people had, have, and will have the same fate as Barry. For instance, though little is known about Barry's father, the first shot shows that he also used violence to settle disputes. In fact, a common camera movement in the film shows a close-up of Barry, only to pull back and reveal more and more of the setting he occupies. These shots show that Barry is less important to these frames than the scenery surrounding him is.

The second half expands upon this generational pattern by detailing how Bullington becomes a faceless member of the system, just as Barry, Barry's father, and everyone else around them did. Much like Barry uses violence to solve conflicts with Bullington in the second half, Bullington uses violence to solve his own conflicts later on. Bullington also upholds the same existentialist ideals Barry had in the early stretches of the film, shown by how Bullington constantly defies Barry with the belief he can save his mother from him or how he later leaves the family estate. Like Barry though, Bullington's efforts are undermined. Defying Barry doesn't save his mother: it only results in him getting beaten. Leaving the family estate doesn't allow for him to operate outside the system: he later returns to the estate. Given this, Barry and Bullington are one and the same as they both end up operating inside the system, despite their efforts to avoid it. Just like a character in a painting, they have no free will and will always live in the same scene.

In conclusion, this is another impressive addition to Kubrick's large body of films. I'm not sure where I'd rank it amongst his other films, but it's definitely a great film. If you haven't seen this film yet, I highly recommend doing so.
And since we're talking about it again, I'd just like to go back and say that this was a good review of a great movie, Popcorn, and while Lyndon may have been pretty long and slow, I ultimately found it be highly involving (in addition to visually beautiful, of course), and one of Kubrick's very best; good work, man!



Dial M for Murder


Very entertaining (as can be expected from the Master of Suspense), but I think different casting might have taken this to the next level for me. Ray Milland is very good as the conniving husband, but he's not exactly easy to identify with, and I think someone like Cary Grant (who Hitchcock used brilliantly in a such a capacity in Suspicion) could have complicated the audience's sympathies with his immense charisma. Placing the heroine in the wrong man role is pretty novel at least, and Grace Kelly is very easy to root for. As for John Williams, at first I was thinking I would have liked Jimmy Stewart in the role, but I think his fogey-ishness nicely subverts our expectations of his intelligence (I understand he played the same role in the stage version).

Hitchcock's visual direction is astute as always but also somewhat low-key (the film's stage origins are pretty evident), which makes it interesting that the film was originally made in 3-D. There are a few scenes that obviously would play well in the format (the best known scene, Grace Kelly's trial scene) but given how much of the movie is set in the same house, I'm curious how he would have handled those interior scenes. Definitely would like to see the film in that format eventually.
This is my #3 Hitchcock so I agree that it is very, very entertaining. However, I have no issues with the casting. Milland is simply excellent and steals every scene, but so is Kelly, and the rest. The only issue I have is with the character of Mark, who I see as pretty much unnecessary, and it's there only to provide Kelly with an empathetic male cushion, opposite Milland. Other than that, it's excellent.
__________________
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Are you posting your monthly lists somewhere or do I have to become a Tweeter?
I might start a thread here. I'll let you know.



Barry just remains a faintly irritating, diaper-crotched enigma.
Just wanted to acknowledge that this made me laugh for a solid minute. Thank you for the chuckle.

Barry L is a film I've only seen once but my reaction was similar to yours. I found it a real chore to finish. Maybe on another night I'd feel differently but the runtime is a real deterrent.



Not that it will make it any more enjoyable, but I think Barry's lameness in contrast to the grandeur of the events around him is the point (O'Neal badness makes him ideal for this role). He basically stumbles up and down in his place in society almost entirely due to external factors. It's like Forrest Gump but if Forrest Gump was a bad person (which makes it a nice antidote to the BS feel-good vibes of the Zemeckis film). I do think that if it wasn't for Kubrick firing on all cylinders on a technical level (the contrast between Barry's selfish, inane motivations and the gorgeous visuals only works because of how stunningly beautiful the movie looks), I wouldn't have nearly as much love for it as I do.
Oh, I totally get that it's the point. And there's this sort of fascination in watching this guy who is just charming enough and just handsome enough manage to survive (and at times thrive) through a combination of scheming and luck.

But that's a movie I would enjoy watching for maybe 90 minutes. At a certain point there is simply fatigue.

And while I felt that the other performances were better, our time with the other characters is SO choppy--with characters vanishing for like 15 or 20 minutes at a time--that I didn't have any "anchors" to keep me invested.

@Yoda - spam account - lifted text from here.
I saw the mention of Mercado and I was like "OMG! This person feels the same way about the film!!". And just for a moment I thought I'd found a soulmate.

Just wanted to acknowledge that this made me laugh for a solid minute. Thank you for the chuckle.

Barry L is a film I've only seen once but my reaction was similar to yours. I found it a real chore to finish. Maybe on another night I'd feel differently but the runtime is a real deterrent.
It's the kind of story I could see myself enjoying as a miniseries.