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Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

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I don't watch many documentaries but figured I'd take a swing with this for the upcoming foreign language countdown. They don't affect me the same way as other movies so I don't generally rate them as high. This was really well made and turned what I thought was an uninteresting subject into a very interesting film. I like to occasionally eat sushi even if I don't like every kind. Part of it is just that I like being able to say hey I had some sushi today. I could have done without seeing some of the fish alive but it is part of the process. The old fart has a good philosophy; find out what you're good at, pursue it, and always strive to improve. Maybe if I had a dad like Jiro I could have been a gigolo instead of a regular loser.
I've heard this Jiro is a very unpleasant chap, at least to americans.



I referenced There Will Be Blood just as another example of a film with an unlikable lead character. I wasn't trying to make a side-by-side comparison, but anyway, it boils down the same point about "relatability" since you once again brought up how you "can actually relate to" Plainview but not to Travis. So my initial question remains, is it necessary for us to "relate" to the lead character in order to appreciate or like a film?

As far as which character is more "interesting" or "fascinating", it all depends on how you look at it. So to entertain the comparison a bit, some would argue that the life of an oil baron is more distant and "unrelatable" than that of a mere taxi driver, who despite all the insanity we see in him, is pretty much an "everyday guy". And that's one of the things I find interesting and chilling about Taxi Driver. Everybody I interact with could be Travis Bickle, while not everybody I interact with could be Daniel Plainview. A regular guy like me wouldn't have much control over what a "Daniel Plainview" does from his distant "throne of power", whereas my everyday interactions could really have a positive/negative impact in dozens of "Travis Bickle"s around me.

Which brings me to another important point on the film, which is "control". What control do we have over our lives and reactions? Travis' friend thinks we don't; he says "we're all ****ed up", while Travis himself says later "there never has been a choice for me". And even though I don't think Scorsese fully answers the questions he asks, I don't think he needs to, but I do think it's interesting that he's asking them.
I personally think that the lead character who a movie is designed around should at least be somewhat relatable.

And while I have no problem with down to earth movies, a movie shouldn't be too dull, it should have some semblance of the fantastic.



Kudos to the previous viewings -- "The Social Dilemma" (I agree with what Doc said, but a proper response would be one of my long-winded political posts), "Bicycle Thief" (De Sica is my favorite), "Rocco And His Brothers" (Visconti is my #2), and "Taxi Driver", although I'll flip it around and say I don't like most Scorsese but I like "Taxi Driver" much, but I attribute this to Paul Schrader and Robert De Niro.


Nomadland - 6/10
This movie was made fifty years too late it seems. Hollywood is usually fifty years behind, though. It's actually based on an article from Harper's fifty years ago. As for the movie, this should have been one of I liked very much, but it had too much DIY (Do-It-Yourself). You'd think the audience for this movie has never left their house to know how to live "on the road". I've had experiences like this, but by backpack, and all over the world, hostel-hopping, farming, sleeping in a park for a week with friends, and it's tough, but also fun, just depending on how you feel at the moment. I never knew or cared about "Bo" - we don't see him in the movie, and it seemed like a way to bring in sentimentality/sadness to a situation that didn't need it, and was probably interrupted. I would have liked to have seen more conversations from Blinkie, Linda, and Bob, who must be non-actors, because they were not only natural, but they reminded me of people I know. I'd think "Cool", and then the 60-second conversation was over. I never liked Jason Statham - he seems to always play a creepy-kinda guy who just has an unlikable face... I would have lied to know more about the main character, and would have probably been better not to re-do the Amazon job scenes, etc... It might have been a good to see the not-so-community oriented "tent cities" all over the country, too. Pretty soon, we'll ALL be working for Amazon in some way, and we ARE the product. Social media isn't free, but some of the nomads found it useful and if that's where the people are at, you don't have much of a choice.

Frances is good as usual, but the movie seemed to take 30 minutes of good movie and make it almost 100 movies. However, I guess I'm glad this won Best Picture, because people should know about struggle, which I'm sure they do, but that it's probably more common than just the undesirables. I liked that Statham's and Frances' character didn't "bang", because it seemed like the way it would have gone. It might have been cool and been expressive if the young man and her had a one-night stand to show a more instinctual nature, and the depravities of the road, and if two people can do something so they can both have one of those free pleasures in life, why not, but I praise on not including any, too. It was good the sister wasn't cliche, supported her, and mentioned how she was emblematic of the pioneers, those who sought a new frontier, when man meets a new idea which is probably impossible staying in one place, which is something I seem to prefer now, but there's too many reasons and not enough space to type this all out.

I give it an extra point for being a movie I actually I didn't turn off like the last handful of movies from my beloved 1930-70s preference, or ever thought about turning it off. I'd say this is a pretty accessible movie; a majority would probably like this, I don't see too many extremes, where people say it's their favorite or the worst movie they saw, but I do like looking at the extremes on the user reviews on IMDB... I also liked it a little more after lighting up a pinner, because the movie is reflective and moderately paced, maybe too slow for a casual viewer.

Is the movie excessively left-leaning politically ? I sort of got that vibe from the trailer.



I personally think that the lead character who a movie is designed around should at least be somewhat relatable.

And while I have no problem with down to earth movies, a movie shouldn't be too dull, it should have some semblance of the fantastic.
Fair enough. I can struggle a bit with some films with unlikable lead characters, but don't consider it a requirement to enjoy or appreciate a film.

But anyway, if the film wasn't for you, that's ok. Like I said before, I myself am not a huge fan of Scorsese or this film, but I think there's a lot to like/appreciate in it.
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I've heard this Jiro is a very unpleasant chap, at least to americans.
Not sure if he's unpleasant or just serious about his sushi. He'll serve someone and stare them down as if to make sure they eat it right. People in the doc said he made them nervous. I'm sure he'd give me the look of death if I asked for a bud to wash it down with.



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Is the movie excessively left-leaning politically ? I sort of got that vibe from the trailer.

I don't know.. The word "left" has lost its meaning. I don't think there really is a left-wing in American politics. A big problem when an adjective (like "liberal") becomes a noun - it has no defense. Sometimes the truth might seem like it bends one way, but its just the way it is. In this case, social security not being enough due to inflation, Employees not being paid a livable wage effects right-wingers, too. Someone could even say it's anti-Democrat.. Fern isn't happy, constantly struggling, while her sister is kind of a hero. She not only supports her emotionally, but supports her financially when Fern's car breaks down. Her sister's family has a steady place to live, very middle-class, but they all seem nice (even the in-law's comment wasn't harsh) and Fern's male friend goes from being hesitant, from a nomad, to then just visiting his grandchild, but ends up staying. Again, the situation, his family seems great, and he seems to indicate he's through with all the moving around. Age effects everyone differently, but sometimes' its others' lives that has influence, such as having a grandchild, or nieces, etc. So in his case, once he saw his grandson, he probably wanted to be there. If his son was to move around, he'd probably follow because he doesn't want to miss out on his only grandchild growing up, so again this example is not about living in one place or being free.



Maybe populist is a better word. But, I didn't find it overly preachy at all. Very little dialogue, and a lot of re-using of scenes - community of nomads drinking together, singing together. If this was released in the early 70s, I think it would have been completely ignored.



Or you could google the book and see that it was published in 2017 and the subtitle that was dropped for the movie was “Surviving America in the 21st Century.”
Maybe it was a cautionary tale, written to be retroactive.



Maybe it was a cautionary tale, written to be retroactive.
You saying Jessica Bruder is a tralfmadorian?



Hold on a minute: Jason Statham is in it? Good for him. I'm glad he's branching out into drama because he's dangerously close to becoming the next Steven Seagal.



I have really fond feelings toward Joy Ride (an admittedly fun, but just slightly above-average thriller) because when it was released my college roommate and I were at a formal dance. We weren't digging it, and we went the college's theater instead. We were the only two people there (9pm showing on a Saturday night) and so we watched Joy Ride in our fancy dresses and our bare feet up on the seats in front of us and got to enjoy talking to each other during the film in a movie theater without being horrible monsters.



[The Bodyguard]
rewatched one of my fav movies
I very much enjoyed the film. It's really more of a love story with a thriller thrown in. Houston was dazzling, and I think if was one of Costner's best roles.





Mother of George, 2013

A woman named Adenike (Danai Gurira) marries older man Ayodele (Isaach De Bankhole) in Brooklyn, New York. Months later, Adenike has still not become pregnant and family pressure begins to mount on her.

There's an easy narrative theme that could have been had with this story, and it's one that seems like it has been articulated about halfway through the film. "Why is it always the woman?!" Adenike wails in dismay. Her husband will not even agree to go to a fertility doctor, and yet she is the one who is being fed noxious teas and blamed for their lack of conception.

But there's something more nuanced at play here, and that's the way that such cultural structures can do harm to both halves of a relationship. To be sure, Adenike is the one who gets the short end of the stick here. Despite being proactive--going to the doctor, trying to work things out with her husband--she is the one who gets all of the attitude from the family and is blamed for the lack of a baby. Her husband won't even get checked out. And the family is quick--like, really quick--to suggest that she should let her husband attempt to impregnate another woman.

But then another solution presents itself, one that would cover up the family shame if it is Ayodele who cannot conceive. "Only the mother knows the true identity of the father,"--a suggestion that comes from a surprising character. And it is this idea, that maybe Adenike should be unfaithful, that ends up driving the emotions of the story.

What I think the film captures well is the way that a society that is overly obsessed with paternal power and lineage actually can do harm to women AND men. Ayodele is mortified by the idea of being seen by a doctor. He cannot even face up to the idea that he might be the problem--and being about 20 years Adenike's senior, it's more likely that he is. Trying to be manly means that he rejects help and won't meet his wife halfway.

Another strength of the film is simply the amazing range of costuming on display. The film is really beautifully lit, and both the actors and their clothing is gorgeous to look at. It is a bright, and yet deep and rich visual palate and I really loved the look of it.

On the downside, the film does feel a bit overlong. There's a bit of a lull about 2/3 of the way through, though it picks up steam in the very final act. A few of the conversations feel redundant, though at the same time it does reinforce just how often Adenike is hearing these hurtful things.

And, my personal pet peeve, there was what appeared to be an unsimulated killing of an animal. I fast-forwarded this part, but still managed to watch an animal screaming in terror as its throat was cut. (I feel very failed by both the IMDb and DoesTheDogDie!!!).

I liked this film and the story it was telling, but wish it had been just a tad more streamlined.




I don't know.. The word "left" has lost its meaning. I don't think there really is a left-wing in American politics. A big problem when an adjective (like "liberal") becomes a noun - it has no defense. Sometimes the truth might seem like it bends one way, but its just the way it is. In this case, social security not being enough due to inflation, Employees not being paid a livable wage effects right-wingers, too. Someone could even say it's anti-Democrat.. Fern isn't happy, constantly struggling, while her sister is kind of a hero. She not only supports her emotionally, but supports her financially when Fern's car breaks down. Her sister's family has a steady place to live, very middle-class, but they all seem nice (even the in-law's comment wasn't harsh) and Fern's male friend goes from being hesitant, from a nomad, to then just visiting his grandchild, but ends up staying. Again, the situation, his family seems great, and he seems to indicate he's through with all the moving around. Age effects everyone differently, but sometimes' its others' lives that has influence, such as having a grandchild, or nieces, etc. So in his case, once he saw his grandson, he probably wanted to be there. If his son was to move around, he'd probably follow because he doesn't want to miss out on his only grandchild growing up, so again this example is not about living in one place or being free.



Maybe populist is a better word. But, I didn't find it overly preachy at all. Very little dialogue, and a lot of re-using of scenes - community of nomads drinking together, singing together. If this was released in the early 70s, I think it would have been completely ignored.
Maybe I wil check it out, the 60s and 70s is my 2nd or 3rd favourite era of filmmaking.



I have really fond feelings toward Joy Ride (an admittedly fun, but just slightly above-average thriller) because when it was released my college roommate and I were at a formal dance. We weren't digging it, and we went the college's theater instead. We were the only two people there (9pm showing on a Saturday night) and so we watched Joy Ride in our fancy dresses and our bare feet up on the seats in front of us and got to enjoy talking to each other during the film in a movie theater without being horrible monsters.
Joy Ride showed up on my radar because one of the screenwriters was in a band I liked. He has apparently gone on to write zero more films, but the OTHER screenwriter was a guy named JJ Abrams. Didn't know that till just now. (I also did not know that the cute boy was Paul Walker.)

And I agree- fun and slightly-above average
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Joy Ride showed up on my radar because one of the screenwriters was in a band I liked. He has apparently gone on to write zero more films, but the OTHER screenwriter was a guy named JJ Abrams. Didn't know that till just now. (I also did not know that the cute boy was Paul Walker.)

And I agree- fun and slightly-above average
It truly is the most early-2000s cast: Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, and Leelee Sobieski. Featuring the voice of Ted Levine.



I felt like I was experiencing gaslighting. I made it an hour and 10 minutes into the film before being like THIS CAN'T BE A THING THAT WON AN AWARD!!!!! IT JUST CANNNNNNN'TTTT.
Honestly, that's pretty damn funny.





The Help - (2011)

Rating this movie has brought me up against that old uncomfortable feeling, where I watch a good, well-regarded movie that's simply not my kind of movie. I don't know how to rate them. Am I supposed to glean how good the movie is in general, and rate it highly in spite of my lack of enjoyment?

This is a long film, and I never grew bored or started praying for the film to end. The acting was great. The racial aspect well-meaning but questionable to some critics. But for me, mainly, there was no "greatness" and I left the film without the feeling that I'd found a really fine piece of movie-making that I'd enjoy watching again some day. I couldn't relate to it.

6/10