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Let The Sunshine In (Claire Denis, 2017)


Obviously Binoche is the star of the show, and the primary reason for watching her in the 'effortless excellence' period of her career. It's also probably the lightest film one could imagine from Denis, not so much a comedy (as it's been advertised) but more idealistically romantic than what would be Denis' milieu, in that it ultimately remains optimistic about the promise of intimate joy (the better title translation would be The Bright Sun Within) while simultaneously frustrating this promise, but without the kind of chic cynicism that pervades too much modern Euro-cinema. For that reason, it can be seen as refreshing, but hardly satisfying.

I suppose I wanted a film with more aesthetic flourish, instead it's pretty dry visually. The most striking image is its very first one, of Binoche open and radiant, similar to the poster. This is immediately (comedically, I suppose) ruined by some fat jackass jumping on top of her without the first clue of what to do with her. The film has lots of awkward sex like this, as Binoche shrugs "better than no sex". It is amusing to watch this string of lame men in her life, practically advertising their lameness, while Binoche silently wagers her desperation in a mix of pity and pragmatism. I kept wanting her to simply go out and purchase one of those contraptions from High Life instead.

The film eventually fails to have much to say about the plight of a middle-age single woman facing the end of her sex life and (what is suggested) the potential end of her artistic viability as well. The biggest deflation is saved for the end, when psychic (?) Gerard Depardieu shows up to offer perhaps the lamest male advertisement of them all, and his banal blatherings would be embarrassing even without the pretense of their psychic wisdom. Is it a joke that a woman as sharp as Binoche would entertain such wisdom? Her desperation? The ending is left open, but I hope she recognizes this as just another fat caboose on the lame man train in her life. Either way, it's a muddled effort that Binoche seems to carry entirely on her shoulders.

6.5/10




Dune (2021, Denis Villeneuve)

As someone without a point of reference (neither read the book nor seen Lynch's 1984 version yet), I didn't quite know what to expect, but coming off Blade Runner 2049, I had no doubt Villeneuve was going to deliver the eye candy. Well, Dune certainly doesn't disappoint in that regard Ś it looks simply spectacular, and the atmosphere breathes epicness. You really get immersed in the feeling of grandeur and fatalism of it all. Bad news is, it's a heck of a long movie, so inevitably there's going to be some dull moments along the way Ś thankfully I didn't count all too many. The story is also incomplete, which will probably disappoint many Ś it ends on an open note leaving the door open for Part II (no idea if/when it comes out). I thought the ending was kinda meh, tbh (I felt a movie as epic as this deserved a stronger exclamation point).

All in all, an outstanding film no doubt, but not without flaws. A lot of work went into it, and it definitely shows. If you're a sucker for epic fantasy vibes and striking visuals, don't miss it!



The trick is not minding



Let The Sunshine In (Claire Denis, 2017)

Obviously Binoche is the star of the show, and the primary reason for watching her in the 'effortless excellence' period of her career. It's also probably the lightest film one could imagine from Denis, not so much a comedy (as it's been advertised) but more idealistically romantic than what would be Denis' milieu, in that it ultimately remains optimistic about the promise of intimate joy (the better title translation would be The Bright Sun Within) while simultaneously frustrating this promise, but without the kind of chic cynicism that pervades too much modern Euro-cinema. For that reason, it can be seen as refreshing, but hardly satisfying.

I suppose I wanted a film with more aesthetic flourish, instead it's pretty dry visually. The most striking image is its very first one, of Binoche open and radiant, similar to the poster. This is immediately (comedically, I suppose) ruined by some fat jackass jumping on top of her without the first clue of what to do with her. The film has lots of awkward sex like this, as Binoche shrugs "better than no sex". It is amusing to watch this string of lame men in her life, practically advertising their lameness, while Binoche silently wagers her desperation in a mix of pity and pragmatism. I kept wanting her to simply go out and purchase one of those contraptions from High Life instead.

The film eventually fails to have much to say about the plight of a middle-age single woman facing the end of her sex life and (what is suggested) the potential end of her artistic viability as well. The biggest deflation is saved for the end, when psychic (?) Gerard Depardieu shows up to offer perhaps the lamest male advertisement of them all, and his banal blatherings would be embarrassing even without the pretense of their psychic wisdom. Is it a joke that a woman as sharp as Binoche would entertain such wisdom? Her desperation? The ending is left open, but I hope she recognizes this as just another fat caboose on the lame man train in her life. Either way, it's a muddled effort that Binoche seems to carry entirely on her shoulders.

6.5/10
I watched this last year, mainly for Binoche. I agree, sheĺs really the only reason worth watching it.





Dune (2021)

Dune is a reminder of just how good Game of Thrones was...because this felt like a season of Game of Thrones...just not done that well. While the film is long it likely needed another hour or so for all the supporting characters and to cover the deaths. I think most of the plot was given away in the trailer so that was a bummer but also so much of the story is obvious.

Like most Hollywood films the wokeness is evident as the bad guys are white people taking from the good guys brown sand people. It drives me crazy especially when I think if they had cast an AA in the Baron role it might have had a bit more of an impact. Sometimes you can over do it with the symbolism and they really hammer it home.

Visually the film is stunning, and the plot is great for a first part of the series. It's somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Modern Star Wars when it comes to quality.

Game Of Thrones was bull****. I want 88 hours of my life back.



THE FIREMEN'S BALL
(1967, Forman)



"We'd be better off with five fires... but no!"

Set in Czechoslovakia during the rule of the Communist Party, The Firemen's Ball follows the bumbling members of the volunteer fire department of a small town as they prepare for their annual ball. During the event, we are witness to their attempts to organize a pageant with almost no contestants, a raffle where most people ends up stealing the prizes, and a recognition to their retiring chairman, all of which goes wildly awry.

To sum it up, I found the first half to be rather uncomfortable and the film overall wasn't as funny as I would've expected, but it was nonetheless interesting and there were some laughs to be had.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
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On the other hand, Fireman's Ball is an excellent motion picture.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

The Thing Called Love (Peter Bogdanovich, 1993)
6/10
Pßnik (Sßndor ReisenbŘchler, 1983)
+ 6.5/10
Crescendo (Alan Gibson, 1970)
+ 5/10
Slalom (CharlŔne Favier, 2020)
+ 6/10

15-year-old slalom skier NoÚe Abita trains with JÚrÚmie Renier who uses his "influence" and her youth to make her fall in love with him.
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (Terence Fisher, 1969)
6/10
American Insurrection (William Sullivan, 2021)
5/10
Frankenstein Created Woman (Terence Fisher, 1967)
6/10
Titane (Julia Ducournau, 2021)
- 6.5/10

Knocked-up serial killer Agathe Rousselle must change her appearance and comes across fire captain Vincent Lindon who accepts her as his missing son. Sex and gorefest turns surprisingly tender.
The Blazing World (Carlson Young, 2021)
5/10
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (Freddie Francis, 1968)
6/10
Dracula A.D. 1972 (Alan Gibson, 1972)
5/10
The Mummy (Stephen Sommers, 1999)
6.5/10

John Hannah and Brendan Fraser open up a sarcophagus in the ancient Egyptian City of the Dead, Hamunaptra, and the F/X flow. Librarian Rachel Weisz is the most decorarive character.
Runt (William Coakley, 2020)
6-/10 R.I.P. Cameron Boyce
Taste the Blood of Dracula (Peter Sasdy, 1970)
+ 5/10
The Wizard of Gore (Jeremy Kasten, 2007)
6-/10
Bergman Island (Mia Hansen-L°ve, 2021)
- 6.5/10

Film director Tim Roth comes to stay on what was basically Ingmar Bergman's personal island, but the austere beauty and both director's overriding personalities and movies seems to take a toll, especially on his writing/producing partner (Vicky Kreps).
Pimpernel Smith (Leslie Howard, 1941)
+ 6.5/10
Broadcast Signal Intrusion (Jacob Gentry, 2021)
6-/10
Emma Mae (Jamaa Fanaka, 1976)
5/10
13 Fanboy (Deborah Voorhees, 2021)
6-/10

Ultimate meta '80s/'90s horror tribute about a disappointed Friday the 13th fan wiping out the cast while the authorities are considering it a publicity stunt. Will Kane Hodder bite the dust?
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Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
I'm so jaded with films today. Lately, I've seen like 1000 films in three months. Mainly shorts, obviously.
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2001 Monolith spotted at McDonald's Drive Thru
Dune
7/10.
I had to see this one, with all the hype surrounding it. Some people say this movie is based on the greatest science fiction book of all time (which I have yet to read). While the visuals were spectacular, I found the story and characters somewhat lacking. I can see how the book inspired Star Wars (desert planet, intergalactic war, Jedi mind-trick, etc.). I had seen the original Dune movie decades ago, and the only memory of it that sticks out for me was the giant worms; well, I think I will say the same thing about this movie (and the ships that look and move like dragonflies).
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2001 monolith recently seen at McDonald's Drive Thru



5 films vied for Best Picture at the 2004 Academy Awards ceremony. I didn't need to go back and watch Lost in Translation and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, as I'm familiar with them. Lord help me, here is what I did watch and catch up on :


By IMP Awards / 2003 Movie Poster Gallery / Mystic River Poster (#1 of 2), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19946221

Mystic River - (2003)

If I were watching these Oscars today, I'd be wanting Mystic River to win, and I've got nothing against The Lord of the Rings. This film has a prologue that really hits hard, where one of a group of three kids (all friends) gets abducted from a Boston street in front of the other two, and is abused for days before escaping. Cut to the present day, and the three are now grown up and no longer friends - but a tragedy is going to bring them together again, and the results are going to have a brutal affect on those watching. All in all this is a film of performance (Sean Penn and Tim Robbins won Oscars) and Clint Eastwood's directing. I'm not sure if Mystic River will make my top 25 of the 2000s list, but I enjoyed it one hell of a lot.

8/10


By http://www.impawards.com/2003/seabiscuit_ver2.html, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23888108

Seabiscuit - (2003)

This I definitely hadn't seen before, and it's a fine enough movie. Good looking, well put together - nice how it traces the lives of three people (Business man/entrepreneur Charles Howard, played by Jeff Bridges. Loner/horseman Tom Smith played by Chris Cooper. Jockey Red Pollard played by Tobey Maguire) from the depression onwards. These three lives intersect when Howard decides to get into the racehorse game after his son dies, hiring Smith and getting Pollard to ride Seabiscuit - an eccentric horse, with a past as troubled as the three human leads. I've resisted this film for a while on patriotic grounds, because what Seabiscuit is to America, Phar Lap is to Australia, and I grew up loving Phar Lap. It's been ages since I've seen it though - so y'know how those rose coloured glasses work. Seabiscuit has a lot of polish and heart - and I reckon both films are pretty decent.

7/10




By IMPA Awards, [1], Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28118049

Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World - (2003)

I saw this sometime in the past year, but threw it on while I was busy yesterday so I'd catch bits and it would jog my memory. Heaps of production values, and everything looks terrific - but there's something bland about the characters and the story. It is a film that doesn't stick in the memory - but watch any scene and you'll find yourself admiring it visually a great deal. There's an attempt to be rigorous where it comes to the reality of being patched up by doctors on the sea in the early 19th Century, losing limbs and life - not to mention the hardships on board a vessel like this for long periods of time. I have to say though, Russell Crowe's Jack Aubrey is a bit of a bore - and most of his crew are too - the problem is they have to be, otherwise they wouldn't be a well-functioning battle-ready force to be reckoned with. I certainly don't hate Master and Commander, but it falls into that modern moviemaking trap of concentrating on visuals and accuracy while neglecting storytelling.

6/10


By POV - Impawards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18550662

Biloxi Blues - (1988)

I wasn't expecting much from this non-2000s movie - just wanted to tick it off my watchlist. I was pleasantly surprised by it's humour and characters. This was perfect for Matthew Broderick, the lines he has in this funny script sound just right coming from him. Christopher Walken is a little strange as a drill sergeant - but he does play a weird one, so this off-beat casting works too. Your typical boot camp movie, set in 1945, just as the Second World War was coming to a close - and typical coming of age stuff - but the material from Neil Simon is terrific, as well as the direction from Mike Nichols. I recommend it.

7/10
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I've been strangely unmoved by Mystic River both times I've watched it (in the theater when it was released and then a few years later on DVD). It's been too long for me to give specifics, but both times it was very much like, yeah, this is okay. 7/10.





Marauders, 2016

A series of ruthless bank robberies by a bold group of masked men puts a crew of detectives (Chris Meloni, Dave Bautista, Adrian Grenier, Lydia Hall) on their trail. But their investigation is complicated by a morally questionable homicide detective (Johnathon Schaech) and a powerful man (Bruce Willis) with a connection to the banks.

I swear, I can handle a complex plot. I promise, ya'll. But this film was, hands down, the most confusing movie I've seen in a good while. And about halfway through I decided, baby, it's not me, it's you.

Everything in this film works against any kind of flow or coherence. The editing, something I am not normally very aware of, is choppy and disorienting. The plot--or what I understand of it---is at once very elaborate and horrendously improbable. This is also one of those films where Bruce Willis clearly got paid to show up for like 1.5 days of shooting, and I could swear that half of his scenes used a double for reverse shots.

I have no idea why Meloni's character was written the way he was. The character is actively off-putting, and yet he's the linchpin of the whole thing. Meloni is plenty charismatic, but he just can't totally get around the character. Bautista is likewise affable enough, but the material he has to work with is weak.

The bank robberies themselves are probably the best part of the film, though they are also slightly dinged by the choppy editing. The bank robbers are organized and violent, but there is clearly a method to their brutal madness. Not knowing who would die--and why--did add some genuine suspense to these sequences.

Also, there is a character called Mims and all I could think of was:


It took me four tries to get through this film. I certainly wouldn't recommend it, but it's not so horrible that it needs to be avoided at all costs. Just a sub-par action thriller.




The thing with the new 'Dune' is, while it's technically stunning and has all the ingredients of a great fantasy sci fi movie, I did get a nagging feeling at the end that there really wasn't all that much depth and substance beyond the dazzling spectacle.There is an overall emotional blandness to it Ś a beautifully executed and visually seductive blandness, but still a blandness. It feels a bit lightweight and isn't taking risks (I'd pay dearly to see what Lynch would've done with it, had he been given full artistic control over production). A lot of people will be blown away by the looks (rightly so), but some people will miss the spark and boldness that distinguishes a true work of art. Thinking back to Blade Runner 2049, I feel the latter turned out a better film because it managed to strike a better balance between style and substance, while Dune veered more toward style. Both excellent films that can be enjoyed in their own right Ś I'll give the edge to Blade Runner 2049.







SF = Z


[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it




Night and the City (1950)

Produced at the peak of the classic film noir era, this picture is a lollapalooza of a noir, ticking so many boxes of classic noir's characteristics, that it risked coming close to being a send up.

It stars Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, and Brit star Googie Withers, with nice turns by Francis L. Sullivan, Herbert Lom, and Hugh Marlowe. Shot on location in London, it's wonderfully directed by Jules Dassin (Brute Force), with immensely impressive noir cinematography by Max Greene (So Evil My Love). The locations and studio sets are perfect.

Widmark moved away from being typecast as another psychopathic killer like Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death (1947), but he gave 110% as a sleazeball get-rich-quick dreamer Harry Fabian, who would stop at nothing to try to scam his way into prominence and to claw away at elusive respect. It's almost exhausting watching his schemes, antics and emotional outbursts.

Tierney plays Fabian's sweet, honest but enabling girlfriend. Fabian continually lies to her and asks for money for his big final attempt to be a big shot by rising to prominence as London's biggest wrestling promoters. But Fabian goes too far and has burned too many bridges. The underworld kings eventually have enough of Fabian's scheming and lying.

Of particular interest is a long and authentic private grudge wrestling match between Mike Mazurki (Murder, My Sweet), "The Strangler", and Stanislaus Sbyszko (Madison Square Garden), "Gregorius the Great". Both men had been former championship wrestlers, and the realism in their contest makes it one of the best on film.

Dassin reported that Fox studio head Darryl Zanuck had requested that Tierney be cast in the film. She was having psychological problems at the time, and he felt that the work would help pull her out of them. She rose to the occasion in this memorable picture.

But it's the keen photography by Max Greene that sets this film apart. His set ups, locations, lighting and camera angles rival those of the great John Alton, and continue to the movie's uniqueness.

Available on YouTube.

Doc's rating: 7/10