Zotis' Film Watching Diary

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I thought it would be an interesting idea to keep track of movies I've watched. So this thread is going to consist of reviews and tidbits about each movie I watch as I watch them from now on. I might just mention the movie and give it a rating, or I might give full reviews. It's just going to be a mixture of whatever I feel like.

December 23rd

Only Yesterday
Directed by Isao Takahata

At first glance I thought this had Miyazaki written all over it. Guaporense recommended it to me. So that's why I watched it. At first glance of the cover I thought it looked kind of boring, but when I saw other pictures my interest got peaked because the artwork was so interesting. I noticed a lot of gestures and facial expressions that I haven't seen in any other animated movie before. Like when characters were eating food they didn't like, their mouths would make interesting shapes and their features would reveal their discomfort. There was a lot of layered movement where you would see the focal point moving in one way and things in the background and foreground moving in other ways. There were quite a few beautiful landscape shots. The composition especially stood out as being really well done. This made the movie so easy on the eyes it was just beautiful to behold. The quality of the animation was so good it felt like a 2011 movie.

The story is about a young woman who goes on vacation while fostering memories of her childhood when she was 10 years old and went on a similar vacation. It goes back and forth between the present and past telling various short stories throughout the overarching plot. I liked the parts that revolved around her 10 year old self more. One thing I noticed that was almost a drawback was that characters chuckled a lot at silly things that really weren't funny at all. I get that they were just a bit giddy, but still it was almost annoying. And the wrinkle line that would appear on each cheek as they chuckled made them look chubby until it went away. To go back to the positive side though, the ending was one of the most interesting endings I've ever seen in a movie. I mean for style alone I have never seen anyone do that before. I don't want to spoil it, but if you watch it make sure you watch through the credits. By the time the credits finished I had to wipe away a tear from each eye.

Overall it was a terrific movie that I would recommend to anyone interested in animation (not just anime).


December 24th

The Illusionist (2010)
Directed by Sylvain Chomet

I went into this blind aside from looking at a few screenshots. I'm still not really sure how I feel about it exactly. I did enjoy the movie, it's a very good movie, but it was a bit of a weird experience. The style reminded me of Cat Soup and Angel's Egg because there was very little dialogue and most of the dialogue was mumbled, possibly gibberish, or in another language. The dialogue I did understand was either in French or in English. I enjoyed that aspect of the movie, and I liked having to deduce what was going on. I enjoy movies that make you think. The Illusionist was for the most part a visual experience with beautiful artwork and lively motion. One thing in particular I noticed was how well the drawn and moving characters on the screen blended with the painted backgrounds. There was a comical flair throughout the movie that was sometimes very lighthearted and other times very satirical. The dynamics between the two main characters were very creative in how the relationship was shown to be such an unusual thing.

Very Good

I love both of those movies, in fact I voted for both of them for our animation countdown, Only Yesterday at #9 and The Illusionist at #11. I'm glad to see you like them too.

wanabe movie critique
good thread. Another source for me.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

It was a bit boring, but some parts were really emotional and it was very well drawn. It looked like it was made in the 2000's that's how good the animation was.


I bought it because I thought I would. My brother was on the verge of making me turn it off half way through because he was bored.

The Flower of Evil (2013)

I've spent a considerable amount of time browsing the top anime by year. I didn't come across this when browsing the top anime of 2013. I think it was actually a random new forum member here who mentioned it. But this is certainly one of the best series 2013 has to offer. Well the first thing I noticed was the drawing style. It's done with rotoscoping so the characters and movement all look very realistic. I didn't have to watch for long before I knew I was going to like it. I especially like the way characters talk and act in a very realistic way. I'm only on episode 4 now, but the story seems to be revolving around the corruption of innocence.

Very Good (so far)

January 1st

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Drama
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Not what I was expecting at all. Actually it reminded me a lot of Only Yesterday. There is a lot of everyday living going on and just normality, but then there's also these forest spirits around. I thought it would be more surreal like Spirited Away. The quality of the animation was super like all of Miyazaki's films, especially considering it was made in 1988. I focused on the artwork and just enjoying the simplicity and pleasantness of it all. There were still times where I found myself a bit bored. I don't recall ever seeing a scene containing the picture above of the girls fishing with the forest spirits.


January 2nd

I watched A Woman Under the Influence for my I Will Watch at Least One Recommendation From Each MoFo thread.
Here is the review: Linky

You liked it more than me, but I think it's a very good film. There's some good back and forth about it in the 5th Hall of Fame thread, but there's a lot of posts to sort through.

January 4th

I watched The Killer with a friend on Sunday. We both enjoyed it.
Review: Link

January 5th

I re-watched Returner (2002) for probably the fourth time. A sci-fi/action movie about time travel and aliens. The acting wasn't great, but it's an interesting movie. Anne Suzuki makes the movie for me, otherwise I wouldn't even bother with it at all to be perfectly honest. Her character has so much charm it should be illegal. The main character of the film is played by the more famous Takeshi Kaneshiro, who was also in Fallen Angels (1995) and House of Flying Daggers (2004). The director, Takashi Yamazaki, is little known.

I missed the 3rd and 6th due to being too busy. I'll try to make them up. In total I've watched 4 movies this year.

The Flower of Evil (2013)

I've spent a considerable amount of time browsing the top anime by year. I didn't come across this when browsing the top anime of 2013. I think it was actually a random new forum member here who mentioned it. But this is certainly one of the best series 2013 has to offer. Well the first thing I noticed was the drawing style. It's done with rotoscoping so the characters and movement all look very realistic. I didn't have to watch for long before I knew I was going to like it. I especially like the way characters talk and act in a very realistic way. I'm only on episode 4 now, but the story seems to be revolving around the corruption of innocence.

Very Good (so far)
I might check this out. I like rotoscoping. Very underrated animation style.

As far as The Killer goes, I haven't seen it, but I don't think I'm much of a fan of John Woo.
Neither am I, and I had to suspend disbelief quite a bit for it too, which I really don't like doing. Still, it wasn't difficult to enjoy. At least the unrealistic action was done deliberately for style. I can appreciate that a lot more than action that's just unrealistic because the people making it are too lazy to put work into making it realistic.

I might check this out. I like rotoscoping. Very underrated animation style.
Apparently it was controversial at the time, but I'm not sure why. I like rotoscoping too.

January 8th

I watched May (2002), here is the review: Linkage

January 9th

I watched Rosemary's Baby (1967). Review

Now my total this year is up to 6, but I also lost another day that I have to make up. Fortunately I have the next four days off work so hopefully I can get all caught up.

January 11th

I went to the theaters with a friend. It was his idea, but we decided to pay for one movie and watch three. It's the first time I've movie hopped like that, and it was great. We saw Big Eyes, The Imitation Game, and Foxcatcher. I enjoyed them all.

Big Eyes (2014)
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Amy Adams and Christopher Waltz
With notable supporting roles by Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston, Terence Stamp, and John Polito

I enjoyed this one a lot. There was virtually constant sadness in Amy Adams' character and I think she did a very good job portraying the gradually increasing strain and anxiety that built up over the course of the film. Christopher Waltz's role was more comedic, but he also worked hard getting red in the face when his character exploded boisterously and laying on thick charm to sugar coat lies and coax favorable responses. I saw a lot of Waltz that I had already seen in Inglorious Bastards and other recent films, but he still had a bit of uniqueness in this role. The movie was based on a true story, and the plot ran over 10 years of its characters' lives. At first I felt impartial to the paintings, but they grew on me, and I thought the different styles were interesting. Aside from the paintings, the relationship between Margaret (Adams) and Walter (Waltz) Keane was the focal point of the narrative. Overall I had fun watching this one. I could relate to Margaret Keane's struggle, and I liked the portrayal of the art world. I'm not terribly fond of everything Tim Burton has done, but I think this is my favorite of his work to date.


The Imitation Game (2014)
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and Keira Knightley
With notable supporting roles by Matthew Goode, and Charles Dance

Tyldum wasn't a director I was familiar with, but I liked this film so much that I'm going to have to check out his other work. It's been a while since I've enjoyed Keira Knightley in a role too. She's a scrawny girl and I thought she was perfect for the nerdy character type as apposed to the sexier roles she has often played. Cumberbatch did a spectacular job. It was my friend who pointed out that he played Sherlock in the recent British series. I didn't even recognize him. I liked this role for him much better than Sherlock. First of all the "Genius" was way more believable here. Once again this movie was based on a true story, this time it was about British code breakers during WWII. Cumberbatch portrayed such a full spectrum of emotion through the portrayal of a man who most likely had some form of Aspergers. The movie had a very triumphant tone as social barriers and scientific barriers were overcome. I was surprised by how strong Alex Lawther's performance was, an unknown child actor who played Alan Turing's younger self.


Foxcatcher (2014)
Directed by Bennett Miller
Starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo
Notable supporting role by Vanessa Redgrave

The first thing I noticed was how realistic the movie was. I believe this is what they call "Hyper realism" in movies, and I love it. So much attention was paid to detail in everything from the set and props to the cinematography and acting. I thought Greig Frasher did an outstanding job as the cinematographer. There were too many interesting shots to keep track of. I did notice one weird thing though. In one shot where Tatum's character, Mark Shultz, was arriving at the Foxcatcher ranch the camera had this sort of heat vision glaze and the sound went mute. I liked it, but then later in the movie in a similar shot with a moving truck leaving they used the same camera effect but didn't mute the music. I felt they should have muted it again for the same effect, but it's an extremely minute issue. Now about the acting, it was amazing! I loved how everyone performed. I was impressed with how much Mark Ruffalo bulked up for his role, and I almost didn't recognize Steve Carell. I think Tatum and Carell stepped way out of their comfort zones for their roles. I never would have expected Tatum to perform so well, I mean ever. It's like Jean-Claude Van Damme suddenly winning an academy award for best actor. He played a typical jock with inner wisdom but a cat constantly catching his tongue. That inner frustration was always there of someone who didn't have the vocabulary to express how he was hurting inside. He often pushes out his lower jaw, and it's interesting because I've noticed how some bulky jock types will do that, and I haven't seen him do it before in a role. Even the way Tatum was built physically was actually very accurate of how wrestler's body build. They have flabby stomachs but jacked arms and legs because they just do power training. They don't worry about their abs. There were a number of differences between the movie and actual events, but generally it was fairly accurate. In one scene my friend had a hard time believing that Mark Shultz lost 12lbs in 90 minutes. We looked it up afterwards and it turned out to be true. Mark Shultz, the real person, wrote that it was the most weight he had ever lost in such a short amount of time. Steve Carell's performance was probably the best in terms of acting. I just loved how he would talk at this almost retarded slothful speed, and at times act like a total wacko. The best line in the entire movie: "Come on, it's just cocaine. It's not like it's going to kill you." He did an excellent job portraying the strange John Du Pont, but the movie makes no mention of his schizophrenia. It's blatantly obvious that Carell's character has some sort of mental illness, but the movie doesn't come right out and say it. Foxcatcher contended at Cannes for the Palme d'Or, which it didn't win, but did win Best Director, and the film was nominated for three Golden Globes including Best Picture.

Personal Favorite!

January 12th

Mean Guns (1997)
Directed by Albert Pyun
Starring Michael Halsey, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, and Kimberly Warren
With notable supporting roles by Christopher Lambert and Ice-T

Okay, so it had Ice-T and Christopher Lambert in it. I knew they were terrible actors, but I gave it a chance on my friend's recommendation. Fortunately Ice-T had a tiny role, and Lambert did a surprisingly half decent job. Lambert was more along for the ride than actually focused on. So that was good. Albert Pyun is a weird director. He did Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988), Cyborg (1989), and The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982). I've seen clips from Cyborg and The Sword and the Sorcerer, and they look like typical B movies, but Mean Guns leaves those in the dust. In the style of John Woo this was a guns blazing roller coaster ride of non-stop action. Mean Guns also had a sense of humor with plenty of things you would never expect, like one random vampire with no explanation. The film didn't take itself too seriously either. I got the feeling these guys had a blast of fun making this film. I burst out laughing when Ice-T's character blew another guy away for cheating at chess. Anyway, so the plot revolved around Halsey, Valkenburgh, and Warren, with Lambert tagging along sort of, as they found themselves forced to participate in some sort of blood sport for the amusement of the syndicate. The three of them teamed up for survival, and Lambert convinced them to let him accompany them part way through. They were pros gunning their way through a sea of amateurs for the prize of $10,000,000 in cash and their freedom of course. They left their guns at the door, crowded into a lobby, and got guns and ammo poured down on them like rain. The shooting started and didn't stop until the end. It was a blast.

Very Good

Movies watched in 2015: 10