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Just call me "Peg-legged Peg"
I have a feeling some wont understand what my film is getting across. That's ok. My choices can be unique.
__________________
That, biscuit boy, is a UV lamp.



Just call me "Peg-legged Peg"



Miracle Mile
(1988)

Nominated by Captain Flynn

Their love started at the La Brea Tarpits and it ended where it began.

This wasn't a bad little film. I could tell it was completely 80s by actors, hairstyles, scenery and music. There were actors that had minor roles that have been in many of the films I have seen throughout my life. There were a few aspects that reminded me of the film "2012".

Would this be something I would watch on my own? not really, maybe something I would come across on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I'm not saying its a bad movie but not one I would normally watch. Perhaps I will watch it again someday to get a better understanding.



Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies


I rewatched My Favorite Year (1982). This was my 2nd time seeing it and my opinion hasn't changed much since the first time. Peter O'Toole is wonderful here. He was deservedly nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. I think the film itself is fine, but not great. There is some charm here and a couple funny moments, but nothing really impressive or special. It has a decent screenplay and some good supporting performances. I liked the film well enough, but feel it could have been better. It's an alright film, worth watching once, but I probably wouldn't have watched it a second time if it wasn't nominated for this hall.



13 Foreign Language movies to go


The Travelling Players (O thiasos) - 1975

Directed by Theodoros Angelopoulos

Written by Theodoros Angelopoulos

Starring Eva Kotamanidou, Vangelis Kazan, Aliki Georgouli
Stratos Pahis & Petros Zarkadis

Some films you want to learn more about, and they encourage repeated watches. The Travelling Players does that with me, despite it's eye-watering running time of 230 minutes. The film is unconventional in many respects, and concerns itself more with Greek history than that of telling the story of any individual characters - the characters themselves are the backdrop to the turmoil and upheaval which takes place in Greece over the years 1939 to 1952. Despite it's long running time, there are only 80 shots used - and most of them are long, meticulously rehearsed shots, often tracking ones which are uninterrupted. Sometimes two different time periods are combined into one shot, with both characters and places becoming fluid and interchangeable.

The film ostensibly begins in 1952, but quickly morphs into 1939 (the reverse will be true at the film's conclusion) and we get to know this travelling group of performers and the play they're rehearsing and performing, Golfo the Shepherdess. Dictator Ioannis Metaxas rules Greece, but soon the Italians invade, followed by the Germans as the Italian attack falters. We don't see any of this directly, but instead see how events continually interrupt performances put on by the players, as members of the troupe are arrested and bombs fall. Some members are avowed communists, and others fascists. The whole group is nearly executed by the Nazis, but Greek partisans take over and they're followed by the British as Greece descends into civil war. The British broker a truce, but those communists who surrender are treated in a cruel manner, and Greek government becomes more and more dictatorial once again.

Characters in this film aren't introduced in any conventional manner, but are more like recognizable archetypes who either collude with the government or power of the day or else rebel and have communist or partisan sympathies. There's the troupe's leader, Agamemnon , played by Stratos Pahis - his wife Clytemnestra, played by Aliki Georgoul and their son Orestes (Petros Zarkadis) who becomes a communist and a partisan. There's also a recognizable villain in Aegisthus, who not only is a fascist and colludes with the Nazis, but also betrays Agamemnon, with the help of Clytemnestra, who he's sleeping with. We keep a certain, unusual distance from the characters though, and see much of what happens from one step removed, aside from when various characters talk to the audience directly, imparting historical facts, or tales of what they have individually gone through during certain periods of upheaval in Greece.

Each long shot is wonderful to watch, and give us a sense of time and space that is missing from a lot of other films. We almost feel like we're one of these travelling players - who are one moment running from gunfire and conflict, another happily singing and swinging their suitcases and trunks. At one stage, they're accosted on a shore by a British patrol not long after their liberation from the Nazis, and all of the players raise their hands in fear, not realising if these soldiers are friend or foe. For most of this time, they've been at the very lowest rung of society, and at the mercy of the elements and their fellow human beings. The British encourage them to perform their show, then dance and make merry with them - but things like this never last, and it's not long before gunfire is heard, and someone drops down dead. It's hard to comprehend just how volatile this period of history was - seeing as we live in relatively more stable times (and I emphasize, relatively.)

Although director Theo Angelopoulos often cowrote his screenplays with Tonino Guerra later in his career, here he takes sole credit for The Travelling Players script, but frequent cinematographic collaborator Giorgos Arvanitis is on board as always, teaming up with the director early on the short film Broadcast in 1968 and sticking with him for every film he ever made bar the last three. Here Angelopoulos and Arvanitis create beautiful shot after beautiful shot - many of them breathtaking, dazzling and just ever so enjoyable to watch. Together they create something outside of just about every film experience you could have, with the camera travelling all manner of places as the painstakingly planned sequences play out. Such exacting work is exciting to sit and experience. A whole new kind of film is created, with character and film composition differing in many different ways from the norm.

The drama and tragedy is mostly left to speak for itself, without any underlying score, and it's a silence that will at times be shattered, but there are plenty of opportunities for music created by this band of theatrical travelers, other civilians, or the various military personnel who populate the film. We get a great deal of an accordion playing traditional Greek music, and the travelling players sing a welcoming song which will become something of an anthem for them as the film progresses. Music that didn't already exist was composed by Loukianos Kilaidonis, a Greek composer who mostly championed the working class of Greece, putting him in close touch with the sympathies here of the ordinary man and woman of 20th Century Europe.

Although The Travelling Players doesn't focus on any one specific character, and has such an unusual 'non-narrative' drive, it is principally devoted to examining human nature in connection with larger, historical and political forces that sweep entire communities and nations almost like tidal waves. The people it concentrates on are ones who are trying to entertain, enliven and uplift those who come to watch them perform, but the effect is always almost the exact opposite, and it's the players who are affected by their environment and various situations that surround them. They never seem to get beyond the first scene in their play before some kind of force has them abandoning the attempt. For all that though, my favourite scene in the film is one in which they follow a winding road up a hill in a snow swept landscape, singing their song and lugging their luggage in a moment of spontaneous joy - just to be alive, free and moving forward.

I don't know enough about composition to fully explain why I think The Travelling Players is a masterpiece - but that's indeed what I think. I find the unique way this film is put together exciting, and wonder why this film in particular has had such shoddy attention paid to it by lacking good releases on various media. It is simply one of the best films I've ever seen, with every moment constructed in an interesting way, while saying a lot and keeping my absolute attention - and for a film with a running time like this I've never been as attentive from beginning to end. With a firmer grasp on Greek history during the time period it covers my interest in it is enhanced even further, as is my curiosity about Theo Angelopoulos. Surely this is his best film - he could hardly do better.

The Travelling Players is beautiful in it's imagery, interesting in it's historical narrative, and achingly emotional when it swoops down from it's wider view to force us to witness the pain suffered by individuals because of the choices made by others. Amazingly, Angelopoulos will often manage to merge the three of those things in one single shot, over and over again. Greece was undergoing a transition from dictatorship to democracy as the film was being shot, and there's a feeling of revolutionary verve and optimism despite the bitter, cold winds that were faced by the entire population from 1939 to 1952 and onwards to the commencement of production. Throughout everything there was a flame burning brightly, and comfort in the company of shared experience. These travelers are bound tightly to each other, and are family - as an entire nation can be despite the terrible betrayals and resentment sometimes wrought.

I'm sure I'll be watching The Travelling Players again a few times in the future, and when it comes to re-examining films, or promoting and suggesting them, this will be near the top of my list. It reaffirms the 1970s as a kind of great decade for film globally, and one out of which you can discover truly great films that haven't had their time in the limelight, despite deserving it. Theo Angelopoulos directed here with such confidence and ability that he captured the essence of his country and humanity, with the appearance of ease - which I know may not have been the case. It's as if he tuned in to something ethereal and just followed where that led him. I've heard the characters in this film described as kinds of "ghosts" who even cross over to inhabit his other films - they exist as emotional responses to events more than individuals.

This film is a flat out masterpiece, and exciting. I enjoyed it about as much as I can possibly enjoy a film, and wholeheartedly agree with anyone else who considers it a lofty addition to the greats. When I watch it I feel like I'm watching something absolutely unique and different that works in myriad ways and is alluring. It's everything I love about cinema. It's waiting for certain cinephiles out there to discover and get blown away by, if they're at all similarly aligned to the tastes that I am. I can understand if some will be put off by it's length or by it's unusual lack of character-driven narrative and tendency to mix time-periods, confusing us as to where we are or with whom. These things didn't bother me, and in fact they added much to it's mysterious charm. I've never felt as freed from needing to exactly know, instead just taking in what I think each shot is trying to say and integrating it as a whole to see the whole. It's poles-apart from everything else, distinctive and absolutely incredible.

__________________
My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

Latest Review : Rams (2015)



13 Foreign Language movies to go
A huge thankyou to @SpelingError (umm, Rottooth Jones) for that great nomination, which in my estimation, despite not having seen all the nominees, ought to win this HoF.



Glad you really liked the film! Also, excellent review of it. I'm not sure how well it will fare amongst everyone else, but I'm glad I got the film at least one new fan.



A huge thankyou to @SpelingError (umm, Rottooth Jones) for that great nomination, which in my estimation, despite not having seen all the nominees, ought to win this HoF.
Always good to see someone enthusiastic for one of the noms, especially when it's someone elses. We're trying to vote for the best movie to be honored, regardless if it's our own nom or someone else's...So I approve of the sentiment of your post!

Glad you really liked the film! Also, excellent review of it. I'm not sure how well it will fare amongst everyone else, but I'm glad I got the film at least one new fan.
I'm looking forward to watching it. And I was glad to see that both you and Allaby said you went with personal favorites this time that you weren't sure how they would do but you believed the films were great so nominated them...I like that sentiment too!



Miracle Mile (1988) -


This was a lot darker than I expected it would be going into it. At the back of my mind, I noticed a bit of cheesiness here and there which may or may not bother me if I were to rewatch it (Harry searching for a helicopter pilot was a prime example of this), but for the most part, I enjoyed the film quite a lot and felt it was able to maintain its disturbing feel. This is the kind of film whose tone at the end is so different than what it was like at the beginning, by the time I finished it, I lost sight of how the film even got to such a state as I was edged closer and closer to the climax. The film is also technically impressive, specifically with its depiction of the city-wide panic in the final act which ranks amongst the most exciting sequences I've seen in a while. The only flaw with this film is it hasn't aged that well as, if something like this were to happen nowadays, the film would be more like Don't Look Up. Still though, really good film and I'm glad I watched it.

Next Up: Rams



Miracle Mile (1988) -


This was a lot darker than I expected it would be going into it. At the back of my mind, I noticed a bit of cheesiness here and there which may or may not bother me if I were to rewatch it (Harry searching for a helicopter pilot was a prime example of this), but for the most part, I enjoyed the film quite a lot and felt it was able to maintain its disturbing feel. This is the kind of film whose tone at the end is so different than what it was like at the beginning, by the time I finished it, I lost sight of how the film even got to such a state as I was edged closer and closer to the climax...
You took the words right out of my mouth! Glad you liked it.



13 Foreign Language movies to go


My Favorite Year - 1982

Directed by Richard Benjamin

Written by Norman Steinberg & Dennis Palumbo

Starring Peter O'Toole, Mark Linn-Baker
& Jessica Harper

I don't think I've ever seen an 80s comedy as well-mannered, inoffensive and generally clean as My Favorite Year, mirroring the 1950s cultural epoch it's character is thinking back to. That's despite it's Errol Flynn stand-in, Alan Swann - played convincingly by Peter O'Toole - being something of an alcoholic louse. If he's discovered naked in a park carousing with a girl we hear about it instead of see it, and his dialogue never takes a crude turn. I'm sure in real life, Errol Flynn would have been swearing and telling any nearby confidante the most outrageously personal and descriptive things about what he's been doing. That's just life - especially intoxicated life. My Favorite Year isn't life. Rather it's an image of 1950s America that only exists on Christmas cards and advertisements of the time. It has been mythologised in the imagination of one Benjy Stone - the role Mark Linn-Baker found himself wrestling with at the very beginning of his career.

Benjy Stone is thinking back to his "Favorite Year" - and more specifically, one of the events that happened to occur during that year. It's 1954, and Stone (really Steinberg, changed to obfuscate the fact he's Jewish) works at 30 Rockefeller Plaza as a writer for the variety show Comedy Cavalcade which is a weekly television production. Famous, swashbuckling movie star Alan Swann is to appear on this week's show, and so Benjy has his hands full keeping the always troublesome Swann under control and romancing co-worker K.C. Downing, played by the gorgeous Jessica Harper who really isn't given enough to do in the film's screenplay. In the meantime, the show's star, King Kaiser (Joseph Bologna) is being threatened by mob boss Karl Rojek (Cameron Mitchell) due to some unflattering sketches the former has taken the lead in. Rojek's threats appear to signal that Kaiser is in imminent danger which could be waiting around every corner.

Like almost everything in this film, the threat to Kaiser ends up materializing into something deflatingly tame (getting roughed up by some goons) and not very memorable. The only thing really keeping the show going is Peter O'Toole's charisma and his attempts to breathe vigor and life into Norman Steinberg and Dennis Palumbo's cautious screenplay. As already mentioned, O'Toole's Swann gets up to drunken antics, but they're stopped far short of being truly outrageous. He's never the slightest bit offensive, nor does he cause anyone (save the worrying producers of the show) trouble. The height of his playfulness has him dropping into a party from the floor above by way of a firehose, but even this middle act climax doesn't set us on edge (Swann plummeting to his death would surely have have made this Benjy Stone's least favourite year.) For a comedy writer, Benjy also has a surprising lack of wit* and Mark Linn-Baker makes us yearn for the real Mel Brooks, Woody Allen or Carl Reiner, on whose recollections this film is based.

Although screenwriter Norman Steinberg had experience as a writer for a televised comedy show, it was Mel Brooks and Woody Allen being writers for Your Show of Shows which inspired this film. Errol Flynn did make an appearance on the show, and King Kaiser relates to Sid Caesar who headlined the production. Brooks worked as Executive Producer on this film, but let it be known that Flynn's appearance on the show was uneventful in the end, and merely an inspiration for the initial screenplay. Another interesting connection with real life takes the form of Herb Lee (played by Basil Hoffman) who always whispers what he wants to say to others, so that this person can relay whatever that message is. Apparently Herb is based on Neil Simon, who would whisper his ideas to others to make them known instead of shouting above all the others who would be making a lot of noise in the writer's den. In the film this whispering is just an eccentricity of the character. 30 Rockefeller Plaza exists in real life of course, and is the headquarters of NBC, where Your Show of Shows and many other comedy series are/were filmed.

What interests me the most about My Favorite Year are the performers, especially Jessica Harper. I guess you could call me a fan of Harper, (a Harper freak) even though I hardly like any of the films she's appeared in. I like her anyway, which is what makes me very familiar with My Favorite Year, but her character in it isn't very well developed, although admittedly she's very beautifully dressed and looks fantastic. She exists only to be wooed by Benjy, and after the characters kiss she disappears from the film, without even a mention. Did they go on to marry? Benjy would have to have done more than palled around with Swann for this to be his favourite year, so I guess we can at least assume they did. I enjoy seeing Selma Diamond in this as well, and it's interesting to note that she actually was a writer for Your Show of Shows, which makes a neat little connection for lovers of trivia.

Peter O'Toole is the big attraction for people who love this film, and he received yet another Oscar nomination and yet another loss on Oscars night (during his career he was nominated 8 times and never won.) He fits his role well, as a once-beloved swashbuckler who is far past his prime and permanently wedded to the bottle - and plays with gusto. He outshines Mark Linn-Baker to such an extent that it seems to me to have been a mistake to cast Linn-Baker in this role - even if he does give an accurate reflection of someone who is young, fresh faced and somewhat inexperienced. He's no young Woody Allen, or young Mel Brooks. Linn-Baker would have his moment on television's Perfect Strangers, which ran for an impressive 8 seasons, but he never managed to find a niche when it came to feature films. Apart from those I've mentioned, Cameron Mitchell is an extremely well known face, and an actor that would appear in anything for a paycheck. Bill Macy is always a pleasure, and here he's as likeable and funny as he always seems to be.

Behind the camera, directing, is someone people of the 1970s and early 80s had seen a lot of in front of the camera, Richard Benjamin. He never made a really good director, and after the success of My Favorite Year he began a downward slide in quality, both in his work and in the projects that came his way. The Money Pit was mid-80s comedy that was at least appreciated by me at the time, but later the likes of My Stepmother Is an Alien and Made in America saw him cement a place in the lower echelons of mediocrity as a bit of a hack (though some might give him some credit for 1990 comedy Mermaids.) By the late 90s he was mostly directing for television. Nat 'King' Cole sings on the soundtrack, "How High the Moon" turns up numerous times. Aside from that Ralph Burns (a two-time Oscar winner) has added a very sparing score which highlight moments, and you notice it when it decides to underline these occasions. Cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld was director of photography on Young Frankenstein and Fail Safe, two very notable films in an uneven career.

"Haven't we walked enough for one night!?" towards the end O'Toole grabs a policeman's horse (and Linn-Baker) galloping away to the surging sounds of an orchestra and providing that excitement that the films of old used to. It's not enough, and he can't rescue this film from the mediocre writing, lack of really outstanding comedy and poorness of performers that surround him. It's not that My Favorite Year ends up being a terrible movie, but it doesn't rise to any heights of greatness, and despite being a regular favourite film for some it doesn't stand out as ever so deserving of that status it has. I don't mind seeing Jessica Harper circa 1982, but she's spread pretty thin here, and Mark Linn-Baker, who I don't like so much, is spread very thickly. I don't understand why Mel Brooks or Carl Reiner couldn't write or direct it, seeing as they had such a personal connection to the story. It would have made a vast improvement to the finished product. That said, it could have been worse. There could have been no Jessica Harper, and it had the potential to be a bad film which it is certainly not. There's a lot worse a film can do than be on many a 'favourite film' list and have a legend produce an Oscar-nominated tour de force performance. There's something authentic about it's enthusiastic nostalgia.



* In a deleted scene seen mostly in televised replays of the film, Benjy has a scene in an elevator with K.C. where he actually displays a great sense of comedy and wit.



Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies
So I watched Blue Spring (2001). Directed by Toshiaki Toyoda, this Japanese drama is about the lives and experiences of a group of high school students in Tokyo. Sorry to say this didn't do much for me. I didn't find the story very interesting and I felt it was hard to get invested in the characters. Acting was alright, but no one actor's performance really stood out to me. I think it could have been better if they had developed the characters more, so each character stood out and we could get to know them better. Cinematography and score were decent. The film is fairly short, so even though I didn't care for it, at least it didn't drag on. There were a couple of interesting moments along the way, but not enough to make the film compelling or entertaining to me. I haven't seen any other films by this director, so I can't compare it with his other films. I can understand and appreciate why some viewers might really connect with this, but it fell mostly flat for me.



Just call me "Peg-legged Peg"



Hrútar
(2015)
Nominated by Bird-Eyed Bill The Feared

First off I want to say, I'm annoyed that every great foreign film has been made into an English-speaking version. Maybe the reason they are great is that they are foreign!
I was super annoyed that on Hulu, there was an Australian version of this film! I will refuse to watch the English version.

A story of two brothers, who have had a quarrel for 40 years, and who come together to save their beloved sheep due to an illness that has come upon several of the herds on nearby farms in Iceland.

I completely understand how they felt. These were not just their livelihood but their pets/children. Raising sheep for their wool is a major trade in Icelandic culture.

This is my third viewing of the film. My opinion of it has not changed. Great film, interesting story, and at times, funny
WARNING: "spoiler" spoilers below
especially when he takes his drunk brother to the hospital using the bulldozer




My Favorite Year (1982)

I was sorta lukewarm to this film back when I first seen it, but after a rewatch I have a whole different viewpoint and appreciation for the film.
I think the reason for the change of mind is that since my first viewing I've learned a good deal more about 1950s television...and I know I must have missed a lot of the references in My Favorite Year to the golden age of TV...I didn't know who Alan Swan was suppose to be or King Kaiser and his Comedy Cavalcade show.

For over a year I binged watch What's My Line? I watched all 835 of the existing episodes, which is a lot of time to spent viewing the past! What's My Line? was famous for having mystery celebrity guest and one of those guest was Errol Flynn...and he appeared to have been drinking too. So this time I seen Peter O'Toole not as himself but as Errol Flynn at the end of his movie career and forced to do a parody of himself on TV. That personal connection made the charter of Alan Swan seem very real and very sad too. I liked this a lot.
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Rams (2015) -


I can understand this film being too slow for some people, but I really enjoyed its story. I found Gummi's and Kiddi's disdain towards each other tragic since, from what we saw in the film, their behavior made both their lives more complicated. Kiddi had two instances of nearly freezing to death due to his alcoholism and Gummi played a part in saving him both times. Meanwhile, Gummi's jealousy of Kiddi's success at the start of the film led to an act which caused most of the conflict in the film. It was clear they both needed each other since their behavior was bad for both of them. A similarity between the two of them though was that they both cared deeply for their rams, so it wasn't until a threat came to their herd that they were forced to cooperate. Some people may take issue with how a couple details are left open at the end, but I didn't mind that since it prevented the film's emotional register from feeling blunt. The film was also darkly humorous in certain scenes, specifically when Gummi used his tractor to pick up Kiddi and carry him to a hospital, only to dump his body at the entrance and drive off. Given the rather dehumanizing elements of that scene, it seemed like Gummi was giving Kiddi a middle finger and saving his life at the same time. Finally, the various landscape shots were lovely to look at. I don't believe I've ever seen a film from Iceland, but I found this film to be a great introduction to the country.

WARNING: spoilers below
As an aside, does anyone know why Kiddi took both his and Gummi's clothes off at the end? I mean, if you're trying to keep warm, shouldn't you not want to do that? I don't know much about wilderness survival, so maybe someone else can fill me in.


Next Up: The Travelling Players



Just call me "Peg-legged Peg"
Rams (2015) -


I can understand this film being too slow for some people, but I really enjoyed its story. I found Gummi's and Kiddi's disdain towards each other tragic since, from what we saw in the film, their behavior made both their lives more complicated. Kiddi had two instances of nearly freezing to death due to his alcoholism and Gummi played a part in saving him both times. Meanwhile, Gummi's jealousy of Kiddi's success at the start of the film led to an act which caused most of the conflict in the film. It was clear they both needed each other since their behavior was bad for both of them. A similarity between the two of them though was that they both cared deeply for their rams, so it wasn't until a threat came to their herd that they were forced to cooperate. Some people may take issue with how a couple details are left open at the end, but I didn't mind that since it prevented the film's emotional register from feeling blunt. The film was also darkly humorous in certain scenes, specifically when Gummi used his tractor to pick up Kiddi and carry him to a hospital, only to dump his body at the entrance and drive off. Given the rather dehumanizing elements of that scene, it seemed like Gummi was giving Kiddi a middle finger and saving his life at the same time. Finally, the various landscape shots were lovely to look at. I don't believe I've ever seen a film from Iceland, but I found this film to be a great introduction to the country.

WARNING: spoilers below
As an aside, does anyone know why Kiddi took both his and Gummi's clothes off at the end? I mean, if you're trying to keep warm, shouldn't you not want to do that? I don't know much about wilderness survival, so maybe someone else can fill me in.


Next Up: The Travelling Players

Body warmed since Gummi was almost froze.

They say its the best way to bring someone's body temperature up safely.



13 Foreign Language movies to go


Rams (Hrútar) - 2015

Directed by Grímur Hákonarson

Written by Grímur Hákonarson

Starring Sigurđur Sigurjónsson & Theódór Júlíusson

Iceland has a population of roughly 370,000 people. I live in a modest city, but the city I live in alone has almost 10 times the population of the entire Icelandic nation - a nation that seems to continually make itself known far above what it's population would merit. On the film front, Iceland has produced enough quality filmmaking to create a commendable top 10 list of Icelandic movies, and 2015 production Rams won the Prix Un Certain Regard at the Cannes film festival and was voted as the second best Icelandic film ever made in their Kjarninn publication. Iceland seem barely a nation, but whether it be on the sporting field or in the arts they have their culture and pride well represented.

Rams takes place at the base of a windswept, barren hillside in the remote country, where brothers Gummi (Sigurđur Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theódór Júlíusson) breed sheep and enter their prize-winning rams into yearly contests. They have not spoken to each other in 40 years, and any urgent need to communicate is done through writing which is duly delivered by Kiddi's dog. Upon the discovery of the disease Scrapie amongst various flocks in the area, including Kiddi's, it's determined that all the sheep in the area must be put to sleep, and various sheds and pens destroyed. Gummi and Kiddi's sheep have been bred down the generations, and are an import part of the duos identity - can they really just destroy all of that and move on? Gummi's solution will produce unintentional flow-on effects that disrupt the brother's day-to-day lack of contact and mutual hostility.

Throughout the film we get a first-hand impression of Gummi's lonely existence. He celebrates Christmas with a couple of candles, and what looks to be a self-wrapped present to himself. This existence is often explosively disrupted by his errant brother, who is often drunk and thinks nothing about blasting a hole through Gummi's bedroom window with a shotgun, as Gummi sleeps nearby. Gummi is a peaceful, measured person who is obviously more intelligent and responsible, but he promised his parents that he wouldn't evict and banish his brother. There's certainly no love lost, and Gummi doesn't even seem all that concerned when a passer-by discovers Kiddi drunk and passed out in the freezing outdoors. They simply bring up his body temperature in a tub full of hot water, and Gummi leaves him face down and naked on his couch to eventually come to and leave. Later, when Gummi himself discovers him, he uses a loader to pick him up and unceremoniously dump him at the Emergency Department at the nearby hospital.

It's an interesting dynamic that pays off in this film in conjunction with Gummi being the person who does the wrong thing, hiding sheep in his cellar, against the strict protocols in place. Kiddi doesn't know about Gummi's secret, and his only reaction to the Scrapie outbreak is violently irrational - blaming Gummi for what is obviously beyond his control. Sigurđur Sigurjónsson does really well with a screenplay that is light on spoken lines for him, even though he's the lead in the film - he has to communicate to us his guilt, worry and trauma through other means, and his range is more subtle than Theódór Júlíusson, who mostly just has to evoke drunken rage. Moments where Gummi walks through his brother's house, a place he obviously hasn't seen for decades, are really well filmed, scripted and acted, with Gummi finding a photograph of the two of them as kids - a long lost childhood where they were brothers in more than name alone.

The score evokes the desolate place the film depicts, and the sound of the wind on the plains mixes with an ethereal silence broken by these two human specks living out this drama in the remoteness. The cinematography takes advantage of the beautiful and barren landscape which stretches off into a gigantic, unpopulated and endless vista. It also takes advantage of the especially severe winters which hit the region, leaving banked up snow at Gummi's doorstep which needs chopping away - it creates a certain impression of loneliness and isolation. How two people withhold from each other the desperately needed company and warmth in such a place speaks volumes for the relationship at the heart of the film. It had to have been broken by some unspeakable act of betrayal which escalated to a point of no return. This sets a very good stage for the film's final act, and how emotionally satisfying it is.

I was quite taken by this film the first time I saw it, encouraged to by the number of international awards it had accrued by the time I came across it. The esteem I held it in didn't do much to help the 2020 Australian remake, which changed several elements to it's detriment - and I came away from that film unimpressed and more in favour of this one. I made a note to myself to check out more Icelandic film and came across Hlynur Pálmason's 2019 film A White, White Day. Both that film and Rams were shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the Academy Awards but didn't make the cut. Grímur Hákonarson, who directed Rams, directed The County in 2019, which looks good and I look forward to watching. Summerland was his first feature film, released in 2010 and nominated for Icelandic film awards.

If Rams is anything to go by, brotherly love never dies, no matter how long it is left dormant - and a person's connection to their ancestors is also as strong as that love. People will do anything to not sever those connections, no matter the cost, and that's what makes this such a compelling film to watch play out. Personally, it would be hard to imagine people genuinely loving sheep, but in Rams that love is evident, and well portrayed - especially in the crucial scene where Gummi has to contend with having just put to sleep most of his beloved flock. I could very well imagine the feelings he was going through. It's a heady mix, when intermingled with what he also goes through on an almost daily basis - avoiding, but also having to contend with, his brother. A violent, drunken man who lacks good sense, but also part of that ancestry that include his sheep, and also part of the love inside of him that has been buried, only to be dug up by the crisis the community goes through. The brothers end up in a situation that reminded me of being back in the womb - wound all the way back in time to their very birth.





Miracle Mile (Steve De Jarnatt, 1988)

This was probably the film I was looking most forward to simply because I saw a nice screenshot from it on twitter one time, even though the premise made it sound kinda bad. Off the start its got some visual flair, I like the tone, the ill-fitting score was adding a lot and it was really winning me over for awhile there but it loses steam hard in the second half. There's just a tone change at some point and it made the film far less enjoyable for me. It weirdly gets both goofier and more serious as it goes and whatever it had that had me hooked got lost along the way. There's still cool stuff in the back half don't get me wrong but I'm mostly just acknowledging these moments instead of feeling them the way I was in the first. Balances out to still be pretty alright I suppose.



I kept my pirate avatar in case I could still participate in the discussions by speeding through the nominations once work went back to normal, but I think I'd rather rewatch favourites and get through some of my most-want-to-watch list in case I come across something I'd like to nominate in the next Hall of Fame. (Also I totally forgot the Comedy Countdown deadline was so close.) I'll still creep on the thread though, as always.

Might keep the avatar regardless though, since it amuses me how he looks a little suspicious of all my posts haha.




Blue Spring (2001)

I guess that clapping on the edge of a tall building ledge was the main thing that I took away from this Japanese Tarantino-esque movie. I wonder if the contestants in the clapping challenge could lean forward just a bit and then be able to balance their weight when they let go of the railing? Or maybe that would be cheating? Not my cup of saki but for Tarantino fans this might be up their alley.

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