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I forgot the opening line.

By Unknown - IMP Awards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71615799

Tár - (2022)

Yeah, this was a good one. It has something of a laboriously slow start - but with running times these days, a film can well afford to do what this does in really letting us get to know the character. The character in question is Lydia Tár, world famous conductor and composer - a kind of intellectual giant who is just as pretentious and removed from us mere mortals as you'd imagine. It also doesn't take long to realise that Tár is a compulsive liar - in fact, almost pathological in that regard, and she uses her position to reward favours from those hopefuls who'd like to be part of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The sexual nature of this system has led to one young lady obsessing with her, and committing suicide - whereupon all of the bad things about Tár's character are about to come home to roost in a big way. She has a family, and a huge career - she has everything to lose, but does she deserve what she has? The film touches on contemporary issues in a way that opens up in an interesting manner. Mozart...Bach...if these men were questionable characters, is it reasonable to shun their music if you're an eminent maestro? What difference is there to that, and the talented of today? How do you separate the music from the person who composed it, or conducted it? I struggled at first to stay with this, but it rewarded my attention with a masterful second half.

8.5/10


By Warner Bros. Official poster IMP awards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70099316

Elvis - (2022)

Okay, this one. I've set myself the goal of watching all the Oscar nominated films this year - before the ceremony. This means I had to watch Elvis, despite me having a rocky relationship with Baz Luhrmann films. It has all the requisite dazzle you'd expect from one, and all the dumb, boring and predictable narrative choices you'd expect as well. I did like the way the story came from Colonel Tom Parker's viewpoint (played by Tom Hanks, despite him being somewhat ill-suited for the role.) Parker basically scammed Elvis Presley for his entire life, riding his piggy bank all the way to an early grave - but there's little else you'll learn during the near 3 hours you'll be sat watching this. It has some cringeworthy moments, and from the age of 18 onwards Elvis never seems to age his entire life - but this is a shiny, sparkly Vegas show of a movie - right up Luhrmann's alley. I don't think Austin Butler should win an Oscar for his performance (please no) - and no way should this win Best Picture (don't you dare Academy) - but as for the other 6 nominations - Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound, Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing and Production Design, I wouldn't complain.

6/10

So, I've seen 8 out of the 10 Best Picture nominees so far. Only The Fabelmans and Women Talking to go. It'll be the first time in a long time that I've seen all of the nominees before the ceremony - and I'm pretty happy and excited about that.


By https://media.vogue.mx/photos/630e35...r-pelicula.jpg, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71664732

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths - (2022)

So, this is the first Ińárritu film for 7 years - he hasn't directed one since The Revenant, and there hasn't been much hoopla about it. He would have at least expected a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination, because it's an achingly personal and spectacular movie. It's very much similar to a Luis Buńuel‎ film, with surrealism taken to extremes at times. For example, when the movie starts the main character's wife has had a baby, but the baby requests the doctor to go back - so they shove the baby back in. It's a stream of consciousness kind of film, but the themes are well defined and obvious - Ińárritu is questioning what it means for him to be Mexican, especially since he's become so integrated into the United States now. Silverio (Daniel Giménez Cacho) is obviously modelled on him, and constantly has to face questions about his ethnicity and home in relation to the place he calls home now. It's a fun trip - and at times brilliant. A shame the brilliance doesn't cohere to the entire film - but I liked it one hell of a lot all the same. Too much fun, and such a visual feast - this really took me away last night.

8/10

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths was only nominated for Best Cinematography. (A deserved nomination). It means I've seen 4 out of the 5 films nominated in this category now. I only need to see Empire of Light now - the Roger Deakins entry. Darius Khondji, nominated for Bardo, has only ever been nominated one other time - for Evita (1996).


By the way. My last three Oscar nominated movies :

Tár - 2 hrs 38 min
Elvis - 2 hrs 39 min
Bardo - 2 hrs 39 min -- is there a reason for this?
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.




DECISION TO LEAVE 2022 ‘헤어질 결심’ Park Chan-wook

2h 19m | Crime | Drama | Mystery | Romance |Thriller
Writer: Park Chan-wook, Chung Seo-kyung
Cast: Park Hae-il, Tang Wei, Lee Jung-hyun, Park Yong-woo

Solid Korean Thriller, technically outstanding, with some noticeable Vertigo influences.

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Fire Will Come -


Moody, deliberate but not exactly accessible, this Spanish drama kicks off with a bulldozer plowing down trees until it stops in reverence at a much larger, more majestic one. It then diverts to Amador, a pyromaniac who, like the tree, is different than most of society, but like most people we can't easily explain, he is treated much differently. He is released from prison after setting a forest ablaze and returns to his hometown in Galicia, where everyone but his loving mother is suspicious. What follows is a sometimes thought-provoking and sometimes interminable march to what the title promises.

With forest fires becoming more frequent, it's not surprising that there are more movies about them, and it's a nice change of pace to see a non-action one. Filming - with impressive cinematography, I might add - in not only a heavily forested area, but also in a town that has seen better days makes the movie seem more documentary than drama, not to mention makes you wonder if such places are where people like Amador are bred. Speaking of documentaries, the climactic event - which I don't think is a spoiler to mention since it's in the title - actually happened, and the way director Laxe and company film it put me in the (underfunded and undersupplied) firemen’s shoes and proves that there's no substitute for the real thing.

There's plenty to complement about the look and feel of the production, but I wish I could say the same about the characters. Amador is supposed to be a mystery, but he's perhaps too mysterious. In Herzog and Bresson's movies about the lonely and misunderstood - two directors Laxe is obviously inspired by and not just because he uses a non-professional cast - they're able to do this while giving us something to work with, if you will. Despite scenes where Amador bonds with a veterinarian who's treating his mom's horse, so much of the time spent with him seems like filler. Despite Benedicta Sanchez's work as his sympathetic mother, I always felt like I was at a distance. For the ways the movie used forest fires to examine humanity's failings, I give it a mild recommendation. I just wish the rest of the movie hadn’t takes a backseat to the forest fire scenes.



The Way We Were (1973)



Seen this a million times. Love it.
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I’m here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. That’s why I’m here now.





I never watch animated movies, but made an exception for this one based on a true story. Excellent movie.



Lilya 4-ever (2002) A powerful, well made film with excellent performances.
I love this film, and it radically changed the way I regard the portrayal of violence/sexual violence in movies.



Lilya 4-ever (2002) A powerful, well made film with excellent performances.
I think I saw this, but can’t remember a single thing.



Le Pupille (2022) I watched this today on Disney+ because it is Oscar nominated for best live action short film. It's really well made, charming and sweet. The acting is delightful and the cast is adorable.





Living (2022)


They white washed Ikiru! jk jk jk this is a remake of the Kurosawa classic moved from Tokyo to London. And it feels like they cut about a half hour off the run time to deliver a powerful and pleasant experience. Famed author Kazuo Ishiguro decided to tackle this masterpiece with Bill Nighy giving an incredible performance. It's a funnier version of the story because the director clearly doesn't have the same visual skills as Kurosawa but as a remake this is pretty solid.





After Yang, 2021

Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith) live with their young adopted daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) and Yang (Justin H. Min), an artificial intelligence designed to help Mika connect with her Chinese heritage. One day Yang suffers a malfunction and will not restart. As Jake tries to find a way to fix Yang, he gets an insight into Yang's experiences with their family and others.

This is a stirring, meditative look at connection and loss. Anchored by strong, wry-but-moving performances and a distinct visual style, it slowly unravels Jake's understanding of the young (artificial) man purchased.

The film is incredibly strong from a visual perspective. Starting with one of the most engaging opening credits sequences I've ever seen, there are many layers of visual interest to explore. There is great use of contrasting interior and exterior spaces, including the structure of the house with a central courtyard made visible through large glass windows. Characters, and their voices, appear and disappear in unexpected ways. Later in the film we get some glimpses into how Yang saw the world, and the memories are loaded with reflections, refractions, and simple meditations on tea leaves swriling in hot water.

The performances themselves are for the most part pretty muted---this is one of those films where half of the characters seem to be speaking in half-whispers, though I'm not exactly complaining because Sarita Choudhury's voice is like drinking hot chocolate--but they are coherent. There's a fundamental distance between Jake, Kyra, and Mika, something rendered more blatant by Yang's sudden absence. I really enjoyed Min's performance as Yang, always keeping the character right at the edge of making you wonder if you're seeing really good programming, or something more (for lack of a better word) organic. I continue to be impressed with Farrell's comedic timing, something I first started noticing in earnest in his work in Lanthimos's films. He brings a mix of desperation (as with Jake's repeated protests that despite buying Yang used, "he was certified!"), wary outrage at the state of the world (as when a technician offers to turn Yang's head into a personality-free virtual assistant), and some deeper sorrow undercutting it all.

But the story itself, and its implicit meditations on what it means to be alive or "real", is what really got me. This film, to me, felt like a spiritual cousin to Marjorie Prime, another film that explored memory and relationships and the possible role of artificial intelligence in those things. The movie doesn't just come at this exploration through Yang himself--though the trips we take into his memories are definitely highlights of the film--but also through the grief process of the family he left behind. Despite repeated offers that treat Yang as an object--like discussions of warranties, repairs, recycling him, cashing him in, etc--the family can only approach his loss as they would mourn a "real" person. Mika misses her older brother. The role he played in their lives, whether via programming or something else, was the role of a person.

One of the best aspects of the film is that it doesn't let itself get bogged down in the "rules" of AI or some of the other near future technologies we see (like a neighbor whose daughters are clones). It simply lets us watch what happens when people integrate those human-adjacent (or human, depending on your point of view) beings into their lives.

This film is full of amazing little moments, not unlike how we come to understand the way that Yang's memory storage works. I LOVED a sequence where Yang explains adoption to Mika using the analogy of tree grafting. Just all around very moving.




I forgot the opening line.

By Netflix Animation/Netflix - Vital Thrills, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71098602

The Sea Beast - (2022)

My primary reward for watching The Sea Beast was one of visual satisfaction - this animated feature hasn't just got one wonderful "monster" to marvel at (and boy, is that creature beautiful or what), it has half a dozen or so of the most incredible life forms ever invented for an animated movie. It's a really visually appealing film, but for me it did lack the comedic spark that other animated studios give their features - and when that's not present I find that I really miss it. Other than that, this might be a good option for kids if you have them, for they'll surely marvel at the organisms on display. I prefer films like Moana, which had great songs and great humour, and although you'll get a song or two in this, it'll be the characters singing sea shanties.

This is the first of the five Best Animated Feature Oscar nominees I've watched, and I have four to go. I'm going to try and see them all before the awards ceremony, but it'll be a stiffer challenge than some other categories.

6/10



The Martha Mitchell Effect - (2022)

During the Watergate scandal, wife of John N. Mitchell, Martha, started speaking out about what was going on, so Nixon told his old Attorney General and head of his reelection committee to resign and tell the press he was doing so because his wife had gone crazy. This attempt to shut her up was appalling, and Martha never stopped trying to get the truth out, despite the fact that it indeed did sound crazy, which combined with what was circling in the press lessened the impact. In the end she was vindicated - after being held against her will, at one stage drugged, and after all those stories were leaked to the press by the president's men. Now, "The Martha Mitchell Effect" means having people tell everyone else you're crazy while you're actually telling the truth. This short documentary about it has been nominated for an Oscar this year - it's the first out of five I've watched.

6/10



The Red Shoes

Director: Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell
Rating: 10/10


If you haven't started your pilgramage through Pressburger and Powell films, I highly reccomend thrashing through them. The Red Shoes was the most intense and fulfilling experierence of what I have seen of their filmography so far.





I forgot the opening line.
Le Pupille (2022) I watched this today on Disney+ because it is Oscar nominated for best live action short film. It's really well made, charming and sweet. The acting is delightful and the cast is adorable.
That was really good! Just as you described - "charming and sweet" with an added touch of meaning. I watched it after reading your post.