My 2024 Watchlist Obsession!

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I forgot the opening line.

REVENGE (2017)

Directed by : Coralie Fargeat

I was a little dismissive of Revenge before watching it. Another revenge thriller? Yawn. What this is, though, is kind of I Spit on Your Grave from an intelligent woman's point of view - and what we get from it is blood, courage, and the idea that women are made to tolerate great pain, which can be transformative. That's an advantage exploited to the full by Jen (Matilda Lutz), who had joined Richard (Kevin Janssens) on a trip to his out-of-the-way vacation home in a desert location to have fun (and cheat on his wife.) When Richard's friends Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume BouchŤde) join the couple, all is leisurely and there's a party atmosphere. Stan, however, takes Jen's intimacy as permission to have sex, and when she refuses him he rapes her while Richard is out. When he returns, Jen wants to leave immediately, and when she refuses to accept a pay-out and job offer to forget the whole incident she's pushed over a cliff and ends up impaled on a tree. The three men go hunting, with the intention of coming back later to take care of the body. When they return though, the body is gone...but how much trouble could the badly injured Jen possibly cause them?

Revenge is gory fun. We get to watch people pull glass shards out of their feet, tree branches out of their guts, and generally splatter flesh and bone everywhere. It only falls down, in my eyes, as far as believability goes. For example (mild spoilers coming), Jen spends half a day or so with a tree branch sticking through her midriff, and it's far too painful to pull it out and cauterize the wound - so she turns to peyote, which she's heard can completely separate herself from her agony. When she's completely under the influence she pulls the branch from her body and burns the wound with a discarded beer can heated over a fire. I don't know if any of this is really possible, and I'm not sure if her wounds are survivable, let alone not severe enough to completely incapacitate her. In fact, she's hurt so badly that I at first assumed that Jen was going to come back as a zombie and hunt down her foes - I did not think it possible for her to do what she does, considering the fact that she's been impaled on an entire tree branch. If you or I survived what she does, we'd need the help of two nurses slowly getting to and from the hospital toilet. Jen is running and diving around like a commando the very next day. It's a quibble though - because this is an enjoyable movie, and it also manages to double as great horror.

Revenge has the feel of an early Peter Jackson film, and that has me excited about Coralie Fargeat's next movie, The Substance, which is already receiving rave reviews. I've never felt as much of a supporter of the feminist cause as I was while watching this exploitation film - and that's a sentence I never thought I'd ever type. It distils the very best of it's genre, and see's it's protagonist reborn through suffering and pain as a kind of phoenix-figure. Better yet, it doesn't feel the need to hammer home it's points about a woman's strengths and abilities - that's part of the narrative, as are the darker subjects of sexual aggression and consent. There's a fine balance when it comes to how trashy a film like this can be (just take the abovementioned I Spit on Your Grave as an example), and here the feel of everything is so right. I found myself fascinated by Fargeat's approach, which fixates on horror, gore, pain and suffering - and how they're overcome - rather than the usual role reversals we get in most revenge thrillers. It was a little different, while still being familiar - but overall it was so surprisingly good. I was really amazed in the end - keep an eye out for this young filmmaker.

Glad to catch this one - it has a 93% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and is one of 16-or-so movies with the title "Revenge".

Watchlist Count : 432 (-18)

Next : Bliss (2019)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Revenge.
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.

Latest Review : Aftersun (2022)

I forgot the opening line.

BLISS (2019)

Directed by : Joe Begos

I guess vampirism and drug addiction go hand in hand, and in case the connection is a little hazy Bliss provides us with a character who scores the double - ending up addicted to some kind of powdery hallucinogenic drug, and blood. Or is it all in her mind? Hmmm. Dezzy (Dora Madison) is a successful artist with a creative block - and this block is causing all kinds of financial difficulty for her. To help deal with the stress, she visits her friend and dealer Hadrian (Graham Skipper) who provides her with a big bag of the experimental drug Diablo (it's kind of explained as a mix of DMT and cocaine.) He warns her though, that it's potent stuff and she should start with small doses. Before long, Dezzy and her friend Courtney (Tru Collins) are partying, snorting and having threesomes. Problems arise when Dezzy starts having blackouts, and funnily enough she paints during them. Later on, while at a club, she becomes violently ill and witnesses Courtney bite a woman on the neck and drink her blood - which she shares with her buddy. Before long Dezzy's lust for blood becomes like the worst addiction you could ever imagine, and her life erupts in chaos, despite her artistic inspiration being at maximum levels. Looks like she'll finish her latest commission in time after all.

Movies about addiction tend to feel like horror movies - the likes of Trainspotting requires a strong stomach to get through, as does Requiem for a Dream. Bliss goes straight for the jugular, and you can practically feel the warm blood running over you as it dominates this film in a visual sense. I don't know if we're quite there performance-wise - but I might be mistaken in that instance seeing as Dezzy is completely intoxicated for 87% of this film's running time (a very specific guess.) Her expressiveness kind of goes - and she becomes like a zombie. Visually, this is a very dark kind of horror in a literal sense - with a deep red/crimson kind of hue to most scenes. Of course, it would make sense that if Dezzy really becomes a vampire, then the daylight scenes at the start would be the only ones we see through the entire film. It gives us a good sense of Dezzy's evolving madness through convulsive movement, and the special effects look practical - if that's true I give Bliss a hearty slap on the back, and if it's not then that's some good CGI. There's nothing I hate more than CGI blood, because I can always immediately spot it, and it looks incredibly fake. So I really liked those horror effects.

I liked Bliss, despite not being a huge fan of vampire lore - I don't know why, but it's never excited me. That said, Dracula is a great novel - even if nobody has ever quite nailed it's adaptation to film. This film brings the whole subject into a completely modern context - the whole clubbing aspect reminded me of the start to The Hunger, especially when combined with sexuality and eroticism. I also got strong Mandy vibes from it, especially in a visual sense. The production and art design is top-notch too - and whomever did it, I want them to do some interior designing for me. Bliss often rises above what threatens to be a very trashy experience, but still delivers on that front if that's what you're looking for. It's also enough to frighten any kid watching it off drugs - better than any Public Service Announcement on that front. To hell with "Just Say NO", put Bliss on and make your kids watch it. Show them what a descent into addiction and madness really looks and feels like. That's all I have for Bliss - it's really doing something and I completely respect that in a horror film.

Glad to catch this one - The A.V. Club reviewer Katie Rife said that it "represents a stylistic leap forward for its director" and compared it to the work of Lucio Fulci, Gaspar Noť, and Abel Ferrara.

Watchlist Count : 433 (-17)

Next : Emily the Criminal (2022)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Bliss.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : John Patton Ford

We might not be born bad, but our "gifts", as that specific designation suggests, are inherent within us. It might be imagination, physical prowess, intelligence or nurturing. In Emily's (Aubrey Plaza) case it's aggression and criminality. John Patton Ford's film Emily the Criminal starts off with an example of how tough life can get in the United States if you've been convicted of a crime. Emily is trying to land a job good enough to allow her to repay her student debts - but her record, despite only consisting of a DUI and assault charges, are enough to cause her problems. Once you turn down that road, the system makes it hard to do anything other than commit more crimes. You're more likely to spend time in prison in the U.S., which can criminalize a person further - and poverty is becoming all too common. Still, Emily fights the good fight - putting in long hours at a catering business who awards their workers "contracts" which allow them to rob them of union-based rights. When she's given an opportunity to earn $200 for one hour's work, doing something illegal, she balks at first but then caves and so starts her journey.

It's not that Emily has an urge to be bad - she's a good person. It's simply the fact that she's so damn good at it. She immediately attracts the attention of Youcef Haddad (Theo Rossi), who sees in her not only that spark of ingenuity but also a capability of handling herself physically when the need arises. The two become close, with Haddad being a mentor of sorts, before the student eventually surpasses the teacher. This adds an interesting romantic sub-plot to the narrative - and running side-by-side with all of this is Emily's attempts to get a high paying job that might be enough to divert her from the path she's taking. Most criminals start off in their childhood, but some, like Emily, "break-bad" through necessity or simply because of an opportunity to do so. It's nice to see all of these strands interwoven so well, which enhances the strength of the film as a whole. Aubrey Plaza has charisma enough to command the screen for the film's duration, and we believe her capable of everything she eventually does, and like so many of these films we're on the side of the protagonist simply because of a system that is broken and in bad need of repair.

Emily the Criminal didn't exactly have a huge budget, but all the same it barely broke even despite all of the positive reviews that came in it's wake. It's an oversaturated marketplace, despite the "death of film" being heralded from every street corner these days. I think there's a middle ground it awkwardly sits in, where it's far too good to be cast aside, but not good enough to be talked about 20 years from now - I have no regrets watching it though. Now lets see if John Patton Ford can take his next step forward, this being his feature-length debut. He's certainly shown that he can pace a movie with precision, and also write a good screenplay - so I do hope he gets future opportunities. For me, personally, it's very interesting to note that Aubrey Plaza's first role came in the 2009 comedy feature Mystery Team, which at the time was a 'branching out' effort from YouTube comedy team Derrick Comedy (I was a huge fan), that featured among it's trio a 'before-he-was-famous' Donald Glover. As per this film, it kept me glued to the screen from start to finish and certainly heralds a newcomer that has the potential to do anything.

Glad to catch this one - the movie earned four nominations at the 38th Independent Spirit Awards, including Best First Feature, with Ford winning Best First Screenplay.

Watchlist Count : 433 (-17)

Next : Elmer Gantry (1960)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Emily the Criminal.


REVENGE (2017)

Revenge is gory fun. We get to watch people pull glass shards out of their feet, tree branches out of their guts, and generally splatter flesh and bone everywhere.
I really enjoyed this one. Gory and tense, and the violence sits on this fine line between impactful and outlandish. (I mean, around the time she
WARNING: spoilers below
literally sears a phoenix onto her body you are somewhat liberated to not worry too much about the realism

It also does something that I think Mandy did to strong effect, which is to
WARNING: spoilers below
invert the usual trope of a nude woman running from a clothed man to a dressed woman being menaced by a nude man. I think that it flips the typical "male gaze" of assault sequences and is very jarring.

Very happy to see you back @Takoma11 !
Thanks! I have been watching your attack on your watchlist with a mix of jealousy and intimidation. My watchlist is definitely moving in the opposite direction!

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Richard Brooks

Elmer Gantry feels like the very definition of a film I have to watch a second time before I really know how I feel about it. Truth be told - I wished I knew a lot more about evangelism and it's history while watching it. Apparently, the role of Gantry (Burt Lancaster) himself is a take on famous evangelist Billy Graham, and Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons) is Aimee Semple McPherson, the first such figure to take to radio to preach hellfire and damnation. Not being an American means I have absolutely no first-hand experience other than what I've seen in other films. It's interesting that the novel this was based on (a 1927 book written by Sinclair Lewis) and this film expose the darker side behind these characters, something that has been exemplified in more modern times with various scandals related to modern-day televangelists. Put simply - they don't practice what they preach. In any case, most of them shamelessly fleece their congregation for so much money they own their own private jets, palatial mansions and an embarrassment of riches. "It's what God wants," they tell their followers, with a straight face. (Interesting that this film came out the same year as Inherit the Wind also - fundamentalist, bible-thumping religiosity really took a pounding that year.)

Elmer Gantry is a womanizer and a drinker, along with having a job as a travelling salesman that nonetheless gives him a lot of time to spend conning his marks with evangelistic sermons delivered with verve and energy. When he comes across Sister Sharon Falconer he's blown away by her gift for talking to audiences, using humour, wry observation and a common vernacular. Soon enough, using flattery, he's become part of her travelling revivalist roadshow - he's the one who preaches hell and eternal torture, while she preaches the love and forgiveness of the lord in a kind of 'good cop/bad cop' routine. Before long, they fall in love with each other. Newsman Jim Lefferts (Arthur Kennedy), a cynic and non-believer, travels with them to report on the whole circus-type enterprise. One day, after delivering a particularly scathing piece in the newspaper he works for, Gantry sees an opportunity open up and demands an equal platform to respond - on radio. Doing this, he expands the revivalist's audience - and before long he's leading crusades, intending to close brothels and prohibition-era speakeasies. Quite accidentally, while doing this, he's reintroduced to a prostitute he once had a relationship with, Lulu Bains (Shirley Jones), who could bring the whole enterprise crashing down.

Compared with his modern counterparts, Gantry is something of a saint in this film. Sure, he drinks and has slept around - but by the time he's become part of Sister Falconer's travelling circus he's pretty much faithful to her, and not as much of a drunkard. He's intoxicated by the power he has over the crowds of people that come to see him. He's a complicated figure, right to the end - and it's impossible to dislike him, which had me wrestling with this film's intentions. I think having a modern perspective makes watching Elmer Gantry a more challenging prospect - but that's not a bad thing. How shocked would the audience of this film in 1960 be with the exploits of today's evangelists? The drugs, the sex and money - the corruption - it's the proof in the pudding as far as this what this film was saying goes. They're simply con-men using religion as the ultimate grifting tool - and millions of people fall for it, believing their lives will be blessed if they send as much money as they can to these people. Lancaster sells his role with as much verve as Gantry preaches, and gives an unforgettable performance - which is what I liked best about Elmer Gantry the film in the end.

Glad to catch this one - was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (beaten by Billy Wilder's The Apartment), with Burt Lancaster winning a Best Actor Oscar, Shirley Jones a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Richard Brooks a Best Adapted Screenwriting Oscar. Andrť Previn's score was also nominated.

Watchlist Count : 432 (-18)

Next : Things (1989)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Elmer Gantry.

I forgot the opening line.

THINGS (1989)

Directed by : Andrew Jordan

When I sit back, rub my temple, and think to myself, "I do believe that was worse than Manos, the Hands of Fate", I must have seen something exceptional. In all fairness, Manos wasn't what Andrew Jordan and Barry J. Gillis were aiming for here. They had their sights set on emulating Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. If Raimi could cobble together something like that with friends and basically no budget to speak of, why couldn't they? The only problem was, Sam Raimi knew what he was doing, and Jordon/Gillis by all appearances are absolute idiots. Their movie is basically a strange mix of Evil Dead and Aliens - and if that sounds like two movies that couldn't possibly be combined, you're obviously sorely mistaken. Don Drake (Barry J. Gillis) and Fred Horton (Bruce Roach) head to a cabin off the beaten track, the home of Don's brother Doug (Doug Bunston) who has a pregnant wife, Susan (Patricia Sadler). Susan couldn't initially become pregnant, but with an experimental treatment provided by Dr. Lucas (Jan W. Pachul), she realized this long sought-after dream. Unfortunately, the dream becomes a nightmare when monstrous creatures burst from her abdomen, attacking those present and causing a nightmare situation.

It's a simple enough plot - but the way it's delivered is particularly incoherent and bizarre. All of that is made worse by the fact that whomever pushed this project forward considered the need of a "name" to attract an audience. Porn star Amber Lynn turned out to be the best available for Things, and her part in the film is that of a news broadcaster who interrupts the film with her segments - most often these have nothing to do with the film, and only do more to add to the chaos factor. The makers of Things were so hyped up by having her that they include a post-credits scene where the real Amber Lynn talks about an anecdote related to her appearance in John Frankenheimer's 52 Pick-Up. I can imagine how they felt - how there was only one degree of separation between them and John Frankenheimer. Their excitement is adorable. Other than that, the dubbing ended up being a complete disaster, the cinematography is awful - at times the lighting non-existent, and there are long stretches where the characters lounge around doing nothing. The special effects are primitive, the acting is amusingly awful and there's no sense that these people know anything about the language of cinema. It's a mess that's a true shock to watch unfold.

The characters talk in Things as if they were hard-pressed to think up something in the moment - was there a script? At one stage they find a tape-recorder and book in the freezer, and not long after Don decides to put his jacket in the freezer. Later he waters down his beer, as if that's a perfectly normal thing to do. These are the moments I guess audiences were meant to laugh at (there's a joke one of the characters tells later that barely qualifies as one), but it just strikes one as so random you start to suspect that Andrew Jordan and Barry J. Gillis aren't human. That they don't get us, or our motion pictures, but are doing their best to emulate movie-making, and human behaviour. Better that, for if not, then these guys are so incompetent their movie is becoming a cult phenomenon as "one of the worst movies of all time", and considering the fact that I think The Evil Dead is one of the best films of all time, that leaves all of cinematic history between them and their goal. They fell as short of that goal as they possibly could - a perfect failure. Consider my rating a badge of recognition - it's not often that such a feat is "achieved".

Glad to catch this one - like I said, regarded as one of the worst films of all time, and therefore now regularly plays in cinemas throughout the world.

Watchlist Count : 434 (-16)

Next : Certified Copy (2010)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Things.

I was so torn on what to rate that film. Its "flaws" are blatantly obvious (terrible acting, terrible dialogue, terrible/misaligned sound, terrible monsters, terrible horror sequences), but it's also fairly entertaining in its relentless badness to the point those elements seem like charms of the film. I ultimately chose to mostly embrace that and give it a 7/10. I don't know if this is too high or too low, but that's the rating I'm sticking with for now.

One of the very few things I have ever taken pride in my life, is I was likely the first Things stan in all of humanity.

Weeks after it was released I was torturing friends with it. For twenty years I tried to find evidence of a single person outside of my orbit having ever seen it. Owners of all sorts of underground video stores claimed no such movie existed when I asked if it was ever going to be released on dvd, as my old VHS copy was worn to shit.

And now it exists in that rarefied air of The Room or Plan 9. Except it's better than both of those. It's a movie that is too strange and impenetrable to have ever been made by anything but the purest sincerity. It's like an alien artifact somehow made by human hands.

I couldn't love it more

I forgot the opening line.
I was so torn on what to rate that film. Its "flaws" are blatantly obvious (terrible acting, terrible dialogue, terrible/misaligned sound, terrible monsters, terrible horror sequences), but it's also fairly entertaining in its relentless badness to the point those elements seem like charms of the film. I ultimately chose to mostly embrace that and give it a 7/10. I don't know if this is too high or too low, but that's the rating I'm sticking with for now.
Rating films that are incredibly bad but super enjoyable varies quite a bit I think. I'll be bringing Things to fun film nights, and I have to admit I loved it too - my
rating is an objective one, which I decided quite a while ago to give to these kinds of films regardless of how much they delight me, and I can't see how anyone could possibly dislike Things. It's a best worst movie contender for sure.

I forgot the opening line.
Note : I couldn't get to Certified Copy last night, but it'll be the next film after this.


Directed by : Denzel Washington

There's no doubt that Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) was a great man, but The Great Debaters wisely stands back and instead of glorifying him gives it's attention to his students at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas - representative of a generation of African Americans who would be fighting for equality in a few decades time. James L. Farmer Jr. (Denzel Whitaker), Henry Lowe (Nate Parker), Samantha Booke (Jurnee Smollett) and Hamilton Burgess (Jermaine Williams) are members of the debating team who go on to win so many debates against other college campuses around the United States that they become the first African American debaters to compete against the prestigious Harvard University. (In real life this was against the reigning champions - University of Southern California.) By doing this they get to explore issues of human rights, politics, racial injustice and other matters both practically and theoretically. The film includes them stumbling upon a lynching, and James' father James Snr. (Forest Whitaker) accidentally killing a white farmer's pig with his automobile and being forced to pay $25 (around $600 today) compensation or else face deadly consequences .

Before I get to the grist of what I thought of The Great Debaters, I have to mention how surprised I was to find out that Denzel Whitaker, who plays Forest Whitaker's character's son and kind of looks like him, isn't actually Forest Whitaker's son - in fact he's not related to him at all. To add to the overall coincidence of him being in this, he was actually named after actor Denzel Washington, who he costars with. I'm sure his name caused plenty of confusion during and after this production. The movie itself? Yeeeah, it's okay. It's quite good in fact. The only problem I had with it is the fact that Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker - two men of prodigious talent - kind of stand back to try and let the four young performers playing the debaters carry the movie during long stretches. Because they're not up to the impossibly high standards of their two older costars the movie suffers a little from that imbalance of talent. Denzel Whitaker was the most interesting out of the four young actors, but none of them could rise to match the two goliaths. I guess it was a no-win situation for director Washington - if he'd given his own character even more emphasis he might have been seen as robbing the film of it's focus and purpose.

Other than that I found it interesting how Washington and screenwriter Robert Eisele have reversed racial stereotypes in this film. Most of the white characters we come across are ignorant and dumb, and suffer terribly in comparison with these bright young students, their teacher, and Minister J. Leonard Farmer, who was an American author, theologian and teacher himself. Not that this can help them in the pre-WWII American south, where these four kids couldn't even officially be considered the debating champions because African Americans weren't allowed to be members of the debate society of the U.S. until ten years after this film is set. Washington gets daring with the aforementioned lynching scene, and the tension during the scene where the pig is run over is almost unbearable - but other than that he doesn't give his kids too hard a time of it. In fact, when they arrive at Harvard they're treated like celebrities and kings. The Great Debaters isn't a film that'll press you too hard, or really hit you and sear itself into your memory. Perhaps Washington and Eisele thought a softer approach would curry favour with the Academy. Measured up altogether, this was good though - I can't disparage it despite it's weaker points.

Glad to catch this one - it was nominated for a Best Motion Picture Ė Drama Golden Globe and won various Image Awards.

Watchlist Count : 434 (-16)

Next : Certified Copy (2010)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch The Great Debaters.

I forgot the opening line.


Directed by : Abbas Kiarostami

Well, Abbas Kiarostami certainly isn't going to spin his wheels and make commercial films - his Certified Copy is another film which explores a topic in an incredibly oblique and original way. It's a film that's going to be hard to describe, for there's a certain moment part-way through - a big spoiler I won't divulge - where the game changes and the audience is forced to ask themselves "wait...what's going on here?" One of the issues at hand, though, is presented to us on a platter from the very moment the film starts, where writer James Miller (William Shimell) is appearing to promote his new book, which posits that copies and forgeries are just as valuable as the originals they're copied from if they bring pleasure and appreciation for those beholding them. It's all a matter of perception anyway, and that's something that comes up again and again in Certified Copy. Arriving late to the presentation is an unnamed woman (Juliette Binoche) who has to leave early because her son is nagging her - and afterwards he teases her for having a crush on Miller, who she's made an appointment to see later. The two meet up, and go for an aimless journey through the streets of Tuscany, and Miller's theory is put to the ultimate test.

This is one of those "conversation" movies, much like Richard Linklater's Before trilogy - but far, far more contemplative and philosophical. It also gives it's audience a much sterner test, and benefits from an achingly beautiful performance from Juliette Binoche, and a hugely surprising one from opera singer William Shimell in his first cinematic feature. Tuscany pretty much takes care of the film's visual aspect, apart from having an extremely good looking pair of lead performers. I kept on changing my mind on what was really going on through the whole film - it's that kind of tantalising narrative, which leaves everything up to the viewer right to the very end. It's very much like Kiarostami to construct something that can be seen in a whole variety of different ways, like a riddle with more than one answer. There I was thinking "this is unusually straightforward" at first, before it all become not so straightforward, and I still don't think I have a real handle on this movie. I don't feel like I've fully thought out all of what it's suggesting I should - I think I need to see it again, this time without being completely sidetracked by what it does to us mid-film.

I'll say this for Certified Copy - every moment there's either something interesting being said, or some dynamic between our two lead characters that's fascinating or exciting in some way. Those moments can be either good or bad, but they all add up to a measured and full whole that puts this movie amongst Kiarostami's real achievements. I don't know how many languages this guy can speak, or how adept he is from leaping into differing cultures, but it seems to me that he's one hell of a multifaceted and intelligent man. He explores ideas in ways that would simply not occur to the rest of us - and as such is a real artist with his own unique voice. I was already knocked sideways when I saw Taste of Cherry earlier this year, and Certified Copy lives up to the high standard set by that film and Close-Up. It's very, very simple, and yet vastly complex when you stop and start thinking about what all of it means. That's cinematic poetry, with two people up there on the screen seemingly living their roles. It all feels so right, and in a world where filmmakers make mistakes and studios mess everything up, it's nice to see something from a person who knows exactly what he's doing.

Glad to catch this one - Criterion #612 - Binoche also won a Best Actress Award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and Certified Copy was voted 46th greatest film since 2000 in an international critics' poll conducted by BBC. .

Watchlist Count : 434 (-16)

Next : Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Certified Copy.

I like Certified Copy quite a lot and I especially love the next film you have on there as well.
Same for me. Seen his next movie a million times.
Iím here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Thatís why Iím here now.

I forgot the opening line.

1080 BRUXELLES (1975)

Directed by : Chantal Akerman

Once in a while (even a rare while) a film comes along and gives you a completely new and novel film-watching experience. I came to Jeanne Dielman late one night, for some reason mistakenly believing that it was an 80-odd minute sprint. When I checked the running time and saw "201 MINUTES" staring me in the face it both gave me pause as to whether I should watch something else, and also altered my expectations as to what kind of film this was going to be. I'd gathered that this film mostly consisted of a woman, alone, in her house - and the fact that this was a marathon hinted at it's artistic, avant-garde credentials. I decided, in the end, to split the viewing over two nights. In the end that heightened my sense of unease, which is something that slowly seeps in as you watch Jeanne (Delphine Seyrig) go about her day, performing domestic chores that you can see have become carefully worked out rituals for her. Although she spends most of her time alone, she lives with her young son Sylvain (Jan Decorte), talks to neighbours and people in the neighbourhood, and occasionally prostitutes herself for extra money.

For most of us, that last detail would be the scandalous central obsession that Jeanne Dielman would be expected to focus on, but although Jeanne's selling herself is a key narrative ingredient here we instead focus very much on the daily rituals - which are filmed not only with precision, but precise timing and a detailed eye for set decoration and art design. Writer/director Chantal Akerman seems to be saying a lot about repression, and how the work of a housewife can become a compulsive act of intentionally forgetting the more urgent needs of womanhood, femininity and humanity. Thus, this was a remarkable film. But it's interesting to hear Akerman herself talk about how fond she is of all the specific actions she shows Jeanne do in the film, because she grew up in a household full of those kind of rituals. I did also, and it really took me back to my childhood in the 70s and early 80s, when part of being a housewife felt more regulated, and my mother very much a model of Jeanne Dielman herself - possibly repressing her own desire for freedom and sexual fulfillment. Every scene in the film felt somewhat hypnotic and at times it held me spellbound - while at others it allowed my mind to roam freely and ponder what it all meant.

I wonder what a younger version of me would have made of all this. I probably would have been confounded beyond all reason - and for sure I would have been waiting for something dramatic to happen. Now, that's not me saying that nothing dramatic does happen - watchers have to contend with that if they haven't seen this before. I'm just saying that such a specific focus on ritualized household chores is so far different to what we'd normally expect in a film that this is surely not for everyone. That said, I could tell I was watching something remarkable here and although I split the movie over two nights, I doubt a watch in one sitting would have felt as long as three hours and twenty minutes - the film actually feels a lot shorter! Perhaps that's because this is filmed in such a hypnotic way - time begins to lose it's meaning when you're in Jeanne Dielman's groove. When I started to realise what this was, I begin to question whether I was really going to like it - but in the end (especially after a lot of the meaning in the film began to unfold in the second half, along with the film's final scenes) I was totally onboard. You can argue about how original it is in context with realism in "slow cinema" - but for me it was a totally unique, and extremely meaningful, film experience.

Glad to catch this one - Criterion #484 and in Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. It was voted Best Film of All Time in the 2022 Sight and Sound poll.

Watchlist Count : 433 (-17)

Next : O Auto da Compadecida (A Dog's Will) (2000)

Thank you very much to whomever inspired me to watch Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.