Movie Diary 2019 by pahaK

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The Hole in the Ground (2019) N

A woman moves to rural Ireland with her son. After finding a weird sinkhole in the woods behind their house and meeting a local crazy lady she becomes convinced that her little boy isn't really her son anymore.

The Hole in the Ground is somewhat typical low budget indie horror. While it's perfectly OK film it still annoys me quite a bit because all it needed to be good was better script. For the most part its cinematography is great for $2.5M budget, it has good but unoriginal soundtrack and capable actors but the story is really clunky at times.

It's my type of film with its slow pace and kinda depressing settings so I'm not saying it's bad. It has few nice scenes (like the spider eating) and it's generally atmospheric but fails to build up its horrors far enough. Story takes some odd leaps (like why did the mother connect the events to the sinkhole) and the scene inside the sinkhole doesn't work.

Nice idea, good technical quality for such a cheap movie but some issues with the script prevent it from being good. Still pretty watchable.


Split (1989) N

Big Brother is watching everyone but one man lives beyond its control. Is he the new messiah or just a random lunatic?

To me Split looks exactly like how I'd imagine a film school project that tries too hard to be intellectual and artistic to impress the teachers. The result is preachy and incoherent mess only interested in giving speeches and doing gimmicky edits.

I like my movies with story and characters but Split is more like modern art splashing almost random images and big words on screen with all sorts of noises playing in the background. I'm somewhat sure that there's a logic behind Split's structure but it doesn't really save it from being utterly boring (and I'm more interested about the piece of art than the artist's explanation of it anyways, hence my distaste for the so called modern art).

I can't really find much positive to say about this. I think it's technically terrible (especially editing is horrendous), badly acted and badly written piece of cinematic junk.

Onibaba (1964) R

A woman and her daughter-in-law live in a small hut in the middle of a huge reed field. To survive during the civil war they scavenge the dead soldiers for their gear and sell them. And if situation demands it they offer help with the dying too.

I saw Onibaba maybe fifteen years ago and considered it somewhat OK. This time I liked it considerably more. I wouldn't necessarily call it horror film but it's very atmospheric drama or tragedy that uses the environment in horroresque manner.

It's very simple story that revolves around lust, greed and flexible morals. For such an old film it's very direct in its sexuality and it doesn't shy away from moist sweaty flesh. It's like mundane fable or cautionary tale but unlike most of them it does have good and interesting character relations.

The reed field looks rather spooky and soundtrack enhances the atmosphere by having all sorts weird screams and grunts so that you're never sure if something's meant to be out there or not. Onibaba looks really nice and I liked the acting too. There's little too much repeated running in the reeds and couple of turns feel little forced but in general I did like it.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (2018) N

American war veteran and off the record war hero (as the movie title implies) is called back to service to hunt another mythical monster.

I was initially going to give this one a pass as its title just screams bad movie to me. Then I read couple of reviews that claimed it's nothing like the name implies but a proper and powerful drama. After watching the film I'd say it's somewhere in the middle.

I guess my main issue with the movie is that it doesn't know what it wants to be and because of that it tries to be everything. There are scenes that remind me of family friendly Tarantino, there's nostalgic drama and romance and awkward B-film action with some horror-like transitions. Despite the good performances by both Elliot and Turner I still couldn't find the man inside the shell called Calvin Barr.

I don't like the whole story. It's either too tame for a grindhouse film or too wild for serious drama. Flashbacks from the war serve very little purpose except to show that Calvin really killed Hitler. The adventure part about hunting The Bigfoot doesn't work at all (Elliot is too old and the whole concept is dumb). Only good parts of the film are the pre-war romance and Calvin's interactions with his brother in the present.

Speaking of Nordic Noir I tried the Finnish Bordertown (Sorjonen) next and didn't like it. It feels like a cheap knock-off of US police shows that tries to move their cliched story lines directly to Finland with (at least in my opinion) poor results. I watched 3.5 episodes and I think that's enough. Why can't we do good shows here in Finland

With a couple of exceptions I agree with your thoughts in this thread more than your old thread. I also think The Evil Dead is easily the best of the series, but I've seen other people mention the comedic elements and I've never noticed them and I've seen it over a dozen times. I see it as a pure horror movie.

I also don't consider Onibaba horror and for that reason only wont be voting for it for the countdown.

Vigilante is on my watchlist.

Alright guys, it's time go full nerd here. Pretty much everyone here seems to think that I hate majority of films and that my average rating hovers somewhere in the vicinity of zero popcorn. Few days ago I started a Google Spreadsheet project and I think I have the results from my first calendar year in here ready. This kinda belongs to 2018 thread but I don't want to resurrect it just for this. I plan on publishing the updated stats twice a year from now on (in July and January).

For simplicity I'm using 1-10 ratings on this so for popcorn just divide by two. Mathematical average for that range would be 5.5 so I'm slightly behind that. When comparing Bad (1-3), OK (4-6) and Good (7+) things look really nice and even to me. I also didn't count any of the films I hadn't watched completely so the total for 2018 is slightly lower than listed on the thread (I no longer list unfinished films on my movie diary). All genre tags are taken directly from IMDb.

Any comments (or just ridicule for this über geeky project)?

EDIT: Just noticed that Google Sheets screws up my alternating colors for genre rows. It moves the background colors when I order the data

EDIT 2: Oops, forgot one important data from my report:

It's cool that you're also including reactions to shows, books and albums in here. I really enjoyed some of your nominations in the song tournament that we participated in together, so I'll make a point to give a listen to some songs from your albums of the year list. When I do, I'll probably pop back in here sometime and give my thoughts on them. I've only read The Damnation Game from Barker, which I liked. As a horror fan, I keep meaning to read more of his stuff.

Sorry that you didn't get more enjoyment from City of the Dead. I loved its atmosphere. The Psycho-like treatment of the initial main character really impressed me as well. Glad to see that you're a fan of Leone's "Man with No Name Trilogy." I'm in the minority, but I think For a Few Dollars More is the best of the three. Those "dick-measuring contests" that you complained about are a big reason why. The scene where Eastwood and Van Cleef shoot each other's hats is one of my favorite scenes of all-time. The epic stand-off in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is also one of my all-time favorite scenes, but I think the movie itself is overlong and drags at times. We're in agreement that Once Upon a Time in the West is Leone's masterpiece. One of my top five favorite movies ever.

I really like The Evil Dead but gave up on Evil Dead II almost immediately due to its slapstick goofiness. That was a decade ago, though, and my tastes have changed. I think I'd now enjoy the comedy. Proud Mary was all downhill after the stylized opening credits. Polanski has made some of my favorite films and Depp is my favorite actor, but I've never been able to get much enjoyment from The Ninth Gate despite giving it multiple attempts. Never thought of Perfect Blue as a giallo, but now that you mention it, the glove sorta fits. It's the best anime film I've seen. Not that I watch very many.

As usual, there's a lot in here that's either already on my watchlist or that I'll now be adding to my watchlist (even the ones you've rated poorly). I saw a trailer for Brimstone awhile back and thought it looked interesting, but I'm much more interested in it now after hearing how bleak it supposedly is. Saló, or 120 Days of Sodom is often included on lists for the most disturbing films of all-time, so for that reason alone I want to see it. The polarized reactions to Velvet Buzzsaw have me intrigued. It's low on my list of priorities, but I'll probably check out The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot sometime, even though I've heard similar things about it falling into a lame middle-ground between B-movie and serious drama.

I saw a trailer for Brimstone awhile back and thought it looked interesting, but I'm much more interested in it now after hearing how bleak it supposedly is.
Remember to check the comments from HoF 18 as well. It's been getting quite extreme reactions

Saló, or 120 Days of Sodom is often included on lists for the most disturbing films of all-time, so for that reason alone I want to see it.
I'm actually reading de Sade's book at the moment. I'm not very far yet as it's quite a slow read for me (the archaic language is little more complicated for non-native reader than contemporary novels). Pasolini's film had more stuff directly from the book than I presumed even though the film's atmosphere is completely different (film is more serious and grey while the book is playful and colorfully exaggerated).

The Big Gundown (1966) N

A famous bounty hunter is about to retire but as a favor to a railroad tycoon he decides to hunt down one more criminal - a Mexican who's accused of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl.

"My daughter? Sarah? Sarah's my fourth wife."

I watched the original Italian version and I must admit that continuous switching from English to Italian was little annoying (some parts were never dubbed in English). In many ways the pacing was odd as well and I wonder if one of the shorter versions had actually been better.

On positive side the title song is great (soundtrack in general is OK too but not the best Morricone), van Cleef is always charismatic and dusty settings look nice. There are couple of nice jokes that managed to amuse my twisted sense of humor (like Mexican police's reaction to the rape of 12-year-old girl and the Mormon wife thing).

Like I said earlier the pacing was off and many scenes feel out of place (like the widow's house that feels like a complete filler). Corbett feels stupidly naive at times and we never learn what exactly felt wrong with the case in his opinion. Compared to Leone's westerns The Big Gundown is way inferior and I'm afraid that watching it so soon after those may affect negatively to my review.

Ghostkeeper (1981) N

Three friends from the city are exploring the wintry Canadian scenery. They get little stranded and seek shelter from the cold and snow in an abandoned hotel.

I don't know if calling Ghostkeeper a hidden gem would be a slight exaggeration but nevertheless it's pretty solid for an 80s horror I've never even heard about. For some reason it reminds me a lot of The Slayer that was made next year but they don't seem to have any connection at all. There's some obvious connections to The Shining from the previous year as well.

I really liked the snowy settings of Ghostkeeper and it managed to make the hotel feel very isolated. There's not too much happening in the film at all times but the dark hotel has a good spooky atmosphere. Characters aren't exactly deep but they have enough personality for a film like this. I guess the only major disappointment is the monster (not exactly what I was expecting from a wendigo).

Solid unknown 80s horror. Like a mix of The Slayer and The Shining.

I guess the only major disappointment is the monster (not exactly what I was expecting from a wendigo).
Interesting monster the wendigo. I've never heard of this film either .

The Little Stranger (2018) N

A doctor returns to his hometown and gets entangled in the lives of what's left of the family living in large but slowly crumbling manor.

I often like slow burn Gothic horrors and there's lots of good in The Little Stranger too but also lots of little issues that kinda pile up and weigh the whole down a notch. Perhaps my main issue with the film is its ambiguity or more precisely how it is achieved - both the script and Domhnall Gleeson are selling Dr. Faraday's envy so hard that the ending felt like a copout (it's about the envy anyways but the exact nature of events is left open for no good reason).

Acting is generally very good (especially Ruth Wilson and Will Poulter) but Gleeson is (probably per director's instructions) too emotionless and cold all the time. I suppose he's meant to try to act like the upper class gentleman does in his mind but it feels hard to grasp why the disillusioned and somewhat humble Caroline would fall for such antics. I found the relationship as a whole very unconvincing.

There's good atmosphere in The Little Stranger and it uses the class conflict pretty well as a base for the story. The build-up works to a large degree but like I said earlier it pushes its premise little too hard. It's pretty close to being good though and it definitely wouldn't need big changes to be that. We'll see if it grows on me with time but for now...

They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) N

A World War I documentary whose main selling point is the restored and colored old film footage. I generally prefer "old school" documents that are more like lectures but They Shall Not Grow Old is among the better and more effective examples of the other type.

First I have to say that I'm slightly disappointed that only about half of the film is made up from the advertised colored material while the rest is either black-and-white film and stills or drawings. The narrative is hasty and extremely vague on historical level but it works from more individual or humane perspective. I like how it emphasizes the differences between then and now, both in good and bad.

Some of the restored footage looks really good and it doesn't shy away from the brutality of WWI. Imagery from and around the trenches is nightmarish but also, as improper as it may be to say so when speaking of real dead people, grotesquely beautiful. Sometimes the footage looks exactly like an old movie and only the men looking straight into the camera reminds me of its reality.

At times it feels like They Shall Not Grow Old leaves something out just to keeps its narrative intact (like before the armistice there's no mention of the intensified fighting in the end) but it's not exactly political. It doesn't really tell that much of the war itself but it offers an interesting glimpse to the men who fought there.

Kuroneko (1968) N

A woman and her daughter-in-law live in a small hut... Wait, wasn't that Onibaba? Yes, it was but Kuroneko is pretty much a variation of the same. This time the women are raped and killed and they return as bloodthirsty ghosts to prey on samurais.

I don't think there is enough content in Kuroneko for a full feature film. The concept is fine but it would work better as part of some anthology. Now there's too much repetition (like riding through the grove over and over again) and (in my opinion) unneeded theatrical antics like the older woman doing some dance moves.

Characters aren't as well defined as in Onibaba and I don't think the mother-son-wife relationship is utilized that good (wife part mostly works but mother doesn't). The introduction of the son is kind of odd and he seems to be completely different character after that.

There are beautiful scenes, nice soundtrack and interesting conflict of interests but as a whole it's just a notch below Onibaba. And those eyebrows are so disturbing (well, at least the women didn't have blackened teeth).

The Bourne Identity (2002) R

A wounded man is picked up by a fishing boat on Mediterranean Sea. He doesn't know who he is but starts to follow the leads he has. While chasing his forgotten identity others are chasing him with intent to kill.

At times I'd want to see a good action film but not many of those are made these days. The only option left is to rewatch something I've already seen. Sometimes even that doesn't work perfectly because the films aren't exactly how I remembered.

There's little too much agent stuff in The Bourne Identity for my liking (I can't give a detailed explanation of what I mean by that - it's more like a feeling than something palpable). The action is actually quite scarce so not really what I was looking for. It just feels like an introduction (which it kind of is) instead of a standalone movie.

Damon looks so boyish on this, he's few years older than Potente but looks like an innocent schoolboy. Other than that he's pretty good though and acting in general is solid. Romance is really forced though and the whole amnesia thing just happens to be one of my least favorite plot devices. It's okay agent film but not the action I wanted yesterday.

The Favorite (2018) N

In early 18th century two women are competing for the favor of the frail and childish Queen Anne.

I've seen only one Lanthimos film before (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and now after The Favorite I'm leaning towards an odd conclusion. I think he is a talented filmmaker but he's chosen a questionable way to distinguish himself from others - he wants to ruin his movies on purpose for them to be memorable, to make viewers angry at the lost potential.

The broken things Lanthimos includes in The Favorite are far less obtrusive than the acting in The Killing of a Sacred Deer though. Still things like the terrible fisheye lens, overused heightened sense of depth, monotonous soundtrack and the ending that feels like director giving the finger do make the film feel far worse that it could have been.

Acting is really good and when Lanthimos takes his job seriously the film also looks beautiful. I like the writing as well both regarding the story itself and the characters (the triangle between three women was interesting and the differing motives of Sarah and Abigail were well built). As a whole The Favorite is very hard to rate - there's too much that I like but also so much that I hate.

The Bourne Supremacy (2004) R

Bourne's happy days in India come to an end when he's framed for double homicide in Berlin.

Second film of the Bourne saga is very similar to the first but slightly better. Greengrass' direction and pacing in general are tighter. Camera is little too shaky and restless (I don't mind it during the action but it feels odd in some of the slower scenes).

Story is quite basic and predictable but there's nothing too wrong about it. Acting is still good and action is perhaps little better than in the first film. It kinda bothers me that Bourne never tries to cover or mask his face even though surveillance cameras clearly work in the film's world.

Pretty solid action film overall. Will rewatch the third one soon.

Weird is relative.
There's a movie out now called The Axiom, I thought the premise sounds intriguing, but the ratings aren't great, and I was curious to know if you've seen it, @pahaK.