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Possessor (2020)


This was gorgeous, exactly as I was hoping. Even the ending not a letdown, how rare is that?



Possessor, 2020 (A+)

A film about a group doing assassinations by having the assassin controlling a person through an implant.

Absolutely outstanding. First off, Cronenberg's son is good. Like, really good. You can feel David's influence on him, but you never get the sense that he's just copying his father. There's a certain sensibily and a way of approaching the material that carries through from the father, but with entirely different means and a vibe that is clearly distinct.

The film itself is very violent. Shockingly so. I'm reminded of Strange Days in that sense, or the bar scene in Near Dark. There is no aestheticization of what is happening whatsoever. The camera sometimes moves away from it, and that helps things from steering into the pornographic. Impact is what is sought, first and foremost, in each violent scene. There is also sex, but no sexual violence. Those two things are kept apart.

It's hard to describe any of the events without going into spoilers, but this is a sublime movie. It is intense and visceral, and it will probably make you wince. I would say that if you liked Strange Days, this one should be up your alley. You would never guess how early in his career the director is from watching this. It has the level of visual flair you would expect from someone Refn.

Mild epilepsy warning.



Possessor (2020)

This was gorgeous, exactly as I was hoping. Even the ending now a letdown, how rare is that?
Yeah, I also quite liked it and I'm looking forward to watching it again soon.



WOMAN IN THE DUNES
(1964, Teshigahara)
A film from the 1960s



"Make the sand work for you, not against you."

That is one of the advices that Junpei (Eiji Okada) gives the titular "woman in the dunes" (Kyōko Kishida) as they ponder about the possibilities given their current situation. You see, they are both trapped in a sand pit and forced by local villagers to work by shoveling sand so the village can survive. The woman, who has been there longer than Junpei, has already accepted her fate, but Junpei holds on to "hope... that things will change tomorrow". But will things change? can things change? or is it us that have to change?

That seems to be one of the statements made by this 1964 Japanese New Wave film; not that it offers any concrete conclusion, but it does put forth that clash between freedom and free will, "rigid thinking" and adaptation, and also complacency. The film puts the lead characters in a situation that seems hopeless, as their respective prospects of life clash. Junpei doesn't want this change as he longs to return to civilization, but in rejecting it, isn't he as "trapped" as his companion?

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot and the PR HOF3.
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Saint Maud (2021)


This was a nice little blend of the Hammer British Thrillers and the Polanski Apartment trilogy. Saint Maud is the story of a reclusive woman who after becoming a hospice nurse starts to experience religious visions and begins creating her own passion play. While it certainly has a so what quality to it, a strong grounded lead performance and some exceptional body horror elevates the subject matter/genre.






1917 (2019)

Re-watched this landmark film, and was even more impressed with it the second time. Everyone in the production of the movie was at the top of their games. Director Sam Mendes was able to draw together seasoned experts in their respective fields, including the incomparable Roger Deakins as DP, Lee Smith as editor, and Thomas Newman for an unassuming and highly effective score.

The acting was cast and acted perfectly, and surely gave several participants a guarantee of good projects in the future, notably George MacKay as Will Schofield, who brought the message home both literally and figuratively.

In my view the object of the film was not a portrayal of WWI, but a representation of the indomitable spirit of two individuals who put their lives in jeopardy in order to save others which was presented in such an aesthetic way that it superseded the typical "war is hell" theme. In fact there were really only two instances of battle confrontations, and those were in the form of single man to man combat, both of which were brief but necessary to facilitate the plot.

There have been accusations of the film being more of a showpiece in regard the continuous long take effect. In fact Deakins stated in a podcast that the production had never been planned to be a long take wonder. The decision to construct the picture that was decided only after filming had started. Mendes believed that an uninterrupted continuous take effect would serve the narrative better. In fact there were dozens of cuts and edits, but were expertly disguised. Filming took in excess of three months, with several changes of location. The only obvious cut was when the screen went to black after Schofield gets knocked out. When he comes to, it's dark. That was the only way to facilitate the change in day to night.

During the re-watch I was inclined to sleuth out the cuts, but I lost interest after about 5 minutes! This film will be referred back to in years to come by films students and audiences alike. If you haven't yet seen it, treat yourself to one of the few masterpieces of the 21st Century.



I am so behind on reviews. I'm in a mad sprint to finish work for the end of the school year. I've watched some good stuff, but I only seem to have energy to watch episodes of The Mentalist while I frantically edit together slideshows, LOL.



Re-watching an old favorite, The Thing From Another World, vaguely adapted from Lovecraft and from the novel by Campbell, directed by Howard Hawks, it's a classic of its kind. It's been remade several times, the best remake by John Carpenter in the 80's. I've seen the remakes, but the 1951 black and white, low-FX version is still my favorite. The thing, itself, was played by James Arness, who had a long career as Matt Dillon in the Gunsmoke TV show.

Strangely, a cheesy 2005 movie, The Naked Monster featured several of the surviving cast members, including the famous Kenneth Tobey (a military guy), George Fenneman (the guy with the stripes on his sweater) and Robert Cornwaithe (the scientist who wants to capture and study the monster). It's a memorable piece of a genre and a terrific period piece.






Conjuring The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Average film terrible horror film, the big problem I have with these Conjuringverse is sometimes I wonder if the producers just don't know how to edit or shoot or even write a proper story. Michael Chaves who made the frankly unwatchable Curse of La Lorena decides to squeeze three different films in here. And most of it simply does not work because you feel like you are missing massive chunks of the film. 10 minutes after watching this and I have more questions than people have about Prometheus.

The irony is the acting is great, the world buildings is fantastic and the production values are great. The problem is you get these scenes of what the scenes should look like with budgetary restraints but by getting rid of those restraints you get excess. So when you watch a film like this the director is just jaming all of this stuff into the frame where you should be given the chance to breathe.




You mean me? Kei's cousin?

Suikoden: Demon Century (1993) - First Time on 9anime

So a few days ago, I found out about this short, 45-minute movie. When I noticed that the dub had a few of my favorite voice actors, I said, "What the hell? It's free, I ain't paying $60 I don't have for a LaserDisc that might not have the dub and almost certainly won't have subs, and I got uBlock Origin, so I ain't getting any of those annoying ads and pop-ups." Let me tell you, it was fun. It's basically wall-to-wall action with all manner of cool martial arts moves and blowing stuff up. The gore hounds should be pretty satisfied, too; it's not every day that you see someone behead two guys over a game of Blackjack or a demonic crime boss get his head quite literally burst wide open by a single punch. The animation is also pretty solid for a direct-to-video early '90s anime. I'm pretty sure the copy I watched is a rip from the ADV LaserDisc, so it's lookin' way better than the crappy VHS-rip-lookin' version floating around YouTube. Its story, based on one from a light novel series, is certainly good enough for a 45-minute movie. I wouldn't mind seeing this material revisited with the capabilities of modern anime if there's more to this story. While Yoichiro Yoshikawa's musical score isn't necessarily anything special, it pretty much works for this. ADV has made a solid English dub, as they basically always did—ADV dub of NGE > Netflix dub of NGE any day of the week. The legendary Spike Spencer, who many will remember as Shinji Ikari and Akito Tenkawa, is excellent as Takateru Suga, a tough guy visiting a rebuilt, though still rundown and deteriorated, version of a Tokyo that was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 21st century to check on his little sister, only to find that she's been abducted by the Koryukai, a vicious gang who may have a demonic power on their side. It's pretty cool getting to hear Spencer voice a real badass like Takateru since he doesn't get to very often. Aaron Krohn, who many will remember as the original English-language Ryoji Kaji, is equally impressive as Miyuki Mamiya, a drag queen who more than knows his way around a fight. Jason C. Lee is also solid as Ryo Hamura, an ex-mercenary who is impressed by Takateru's mode of martial arts after they nearly come to blows near the opening. Needless to say, he's fighting on Takateru's side by the second half. Tristan MacAvery, who many will remember as the original Gendo Ikari, is appropriately insane and "Eeeevil!" as Kyoichi Amamoto, a screwed-up hitman employed by the Koryukai who won't hesitate to behead someone with his katana and who Takateru will eventually have to try to put down for good. Misato Katsuragi herself Allison Keith is also excellent as Kiyomi—who is voiced in Japanese by Kotono Mitsuishi who is also the voice of Misato, Takateru's little sister who is apparently quite tough in her own right since it's mentioned that she didn't give her abductors an easy time. Also, watch out for Rob Mungle and Traci Shannon as a priest and a nun who may know a little more about how to down a gangster than they let on. Everyone else, including Asuka Langley herself Tiffany Grant, is also up to par and the dub script is completely natural. It doesn't have the best reputation—Justin Sevakis of Anime News Network called the flick "buried garbage", but I had a lot of fun watching it. Sure, there's little doubt who will win the day in this one, but since it doesn't take itself too seriously and doesn't pretend to be anything it's not, it works, and if you don't go in expecting the next Akira, you just might enjoy it as much as I did.
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25th Hall of Fame

The Long Goodbye (1973) -


I'm still fairly new to Altman as, other than this film, I've only seen Nashville and his segment in Aria, the former of which I loved and the latter I thought was alright. I thought this film was pretty good and I'd put it in the middle. I was mainly impressed with the dialogue. The various wisecracks from Elliott Gould were quite witty and brought a great deal of humor to this film, especially when he agitated other people with them, like Marty Augustine. Elliott Gould was definitely the main highlight of this film for me, as I imagine he was for many others. I also enjoyed the main conflict with Lennox well enough. I found it fairly compelling and was caught off guard by the various twists and turns of it. While I enjoyed that conflict though, I also felt it was overshadowed by other sub-plots, specifically the conflict with the aforementioned Marty Augustine. The sadism and charisma of Augustine and the strangely lovable qualities of his gang members resonated with me much more. His sub-plot also culminated with a delightfully awkward, yet suspenseful sequence which was heightened by an Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo. I found all this more memorable than Eileen and Roger, in part due to the average to poor acting from Pallandt and Hayden. Of course, I still liked their scenes, but comparing them to some of the other major characters and their sub-plots, they simply didn't hold up. Regardless of my thoughts on Eileen and Roger though, I still liked quite a bit about this film and I may revisit it in the future to see if I warm up to it some more.
I felt similarly about it, although not because I found one sub-plot more compelling than the next (because the actual plot ends up not mattering that much); rather, it was because the film went back and forth between being a more comedic, satirical take on Noir (like the scene where Marty and his men voluntarily start stripping off their clothes to make Marlowe feel more comfortable doing the same), and taking the genre more seriously (like the moment where Marty does that thing with the glass bottle of Coke), which made it feel conflicted in the end. Plus, its serious side means that it spends a lot of time developing a plot that, again, ends up not mattering that much. Still, it's a solid enough film despite all of that, with enough unique quirk, charm, and entertainment to make it worth watching, even though I can't say that it's a favorite of mine or anything like that.



I felt similarly about it, although not because I found one sub-plot more compelling than the next (because the actual plot ends up not mattering that much); rather, it was because the film went back and forth between being a more comedic, satirical take on Noir (like the scene where Marty and his men voluntarily start stripping off their clothes to make Marlowe feel more comfortable doing the same), and taking the genre more seriously (like the moment where Marty does that thing with the glass bottle of Coke), which made it feel conflicted in the end. Plus, its serious side means that it spends a lot of time developing a plot that, again, ends up not mattering that much. Still, it's a solid enough film despite all of that, with enough unique quirk, charm, and entertainment to make it worth watching, even though I can't say that it's a favorite of mine or anything like that.
I wasn't as bothered with that as you were, but I can understand that criticism for sure. It seems like the film is caught between two different tones. Out of curiosity though, could you elaborate on why the plot doesn't matter much?





The Furnace - 2020

How on Earth did this film fly so low under the radar? At the moment I feel like I've just hosted an unofficial and accidental Western Australian film festival in my own home. Strange Colours, Jasper Jones and now The Furnace are all set in the harsh vast landscape - and this last film really deserves due attention. Strange Colours was more artistic, and has a mere 146 votes on the IMDb, Jasper Jones a more respectable 3K, but The Furnace has only been rated a mere 504 times - and it's a detailed, professional production carried aloft on it's shoulders by a commanding performance by David Wenham (who I always mistake for Rhys Darby.) Ahmed Malek is an Egyptian actor of note venturing into English language territory.

Set in the 1890s, during one of the World's biggest gold rushes, The Furnace follows the fortunes and degradation of Hanif (Malek) - a Middle Eastern cameleer of the type dotting the desert landscape in colonial Australia. These foreigners had a close relationship with the native indigenous population but a very poor one with English pioneers, as is evidenced by the brutal end of Hanif's friend and partner. The bloody incident forces Hanif to start a journey home, but not before he's beset at a campsite by the dead and dying members of a gold heist, one of whom, Mal (Wenham) leads Hanif down a hellish path of moral blackening, murder and greed.

At once a history lesson and intense character study, The Furnace reminds me of a pared back Django Unchained without the self-conscious references and star cameos. As rough a Western as you could hope to see, with suffering and greed you can feel in the pit of your stomach. A sorrowful journey that really strikes you. You want Hanif to stop, but understand that once he starts his die is cast. Wenham really inhabits his older character's wisdom and complete lack of moral scruples. He knows enough to divine the motivation behind every action (and very importantly : to survive) but lacks the moral clarity to save his own soul. Behind it all, the madness gold infects into the hearts of men.

7/10


By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11987982

Innerspace - (1987) - DVD

I've cheated a bit here at my look at science fiction - needing a bit of a break from the genre as evidenced from the 1950s to early 1970s. This 1987 reimagining of Fantastic Voyage is a huge big expensive dumb Hollywood comedy directed by Joe Dante. I don't want to really lay into it too much, there's a lot of much worse stuff out there - but I can't help getting the feeling we're getting a really cheap Harrison Ford with Dennis Quaid, and a really cheap Steve Martin with Martin Short, making it a bit less than what it could have been. For film fans, there is some relief with Vernon Wells as the heavy, Dick Miller as a cab driver and seasoned performers such as Kevin McCarthy, Henry Gibson and Kathleen Freeman.

The plot involves hotshot Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Quaid) accidentally being shrunk and inserted into putz Jack Putter (Short) as a result of a botched attempt to steal the technology to do this. There you go. Entire plot in one short sentence. The cameos and improvisation between Quaid and Short make this work at times, but by the end you might need some aspirin and quiet time alone. Who misses practical effects? I do. This won an Oscar in 1988 for said FX and it remains quite impressive. Actually feels real, and not a computer game.

Special Features - An army of little helpers have stuffed the IMDb trivia section with almost all of the comments left by Dante, McCarthy, visual effects supervisor Dennis Muran and Robert Picado. At least listening to it meant I watched the film twice and am quite confident I never ever have to watch it again. And yeah - Vernon Wells is a little bit like Jack Palance! Trailer and cleanup job. No - scene selection is not a special feature. Stop trying to beef up your DVD cover with stuff like that...

5/10



minds his own damn business



8/10


Technically crude but remarkable account of the free slave 17th century Brazilian territory of Palmares. Visually stunning despite some obvious limitations, an excellent example of Cinema Novo.
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Trippy, even for a Ghibli movie. Excellent nonetheless.
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Please Quote/Tag Or I'll Miss Your Responses
Le voleur de crimes - 7.5/10
Unique movie. I knew it would be low-budget, barely seen. First off, there was no rating from the comcast recording. Then I see his wife directed it in the same cable movie info. Then when it started, I could tell by the picture and music it was definitely low-budget, but its good. Might still be on TCM.


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063789/



25th Hall of Fame

Sundays and Cybčle (1962) -


This was an interesting watch and I'm glad it was nominated. When it comes to the complex dynamic between Pierre and Cybčle, I figure I'll give my interpretation on the significance and implications of their relationship as there has already been a lot of discussion on this. As others have noted, it's mainly Cybčle who turns the father and daughter relationship between them sexual. Initially, she jokingly suggests marrying Pierre when she gets older, but keeps escalating by making a handful of sexual advances with him throughout the film (which likely occurred due to her young age and her inability to comprehend why her behavior wasn't okay and could backfire). Pierre, on the other hand, doesn't make these advances towards her, nor does he say he's in love with her.

In spite of this, however, I don't think this gets Pierre off the hook. Pierre handled the situation between them quite poorly since he did nothing to prevent or stop Cybčle's behavior as her sexual advances escalated. He instead lead her on and went along with her behavior, especially during the uncomfortably tense Christmas scene at the end where he had an, at best, passive reaction throughout it. Given this, I think it's logical to wonder if he would've escalated (e.g., making sexual advances himself) had the film kept going on. Regardless of his intentions though, while I understand why the two of them wanted to remain together, I think their relationship was unhealthy due to the naivety Cybčle displayed with her sexual advances and Pierre's refusal to put a stop to that behavior. Also, without spoiling anything, I thought the implication at the end gave me a lot more to ponder over in regards to Pierre. While this film doesn't give you the answers on what Pierre's intentions were (Was he in love/not in love with Cybčle?/Did he have malicious intentions?/etc.), it gives you a lot to ponder over and there's a handful of ways one could view their relationship.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. Its refusal to spoon-feed its intentions to the audience and its willingness to leave them up to interpretation is its greatest strength. This makes the film ambiguously menacing and I can see myself rewatching it down the road.