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IVAN'S CHILDHOOD
(1962, Tarkovsky)



"A war's no place for children."

Set during World War II, Ivan's Childhood follows the titular child (Nikolai Burlyayev), a young orphan who is left wandering around his war-torn country after losing his parents. Fueled by revenge, he insists in working with the military, whether it is as a scout, an informant, or a bona fide soldier. Meanwhile, several officers try to figure out what to do with the child as they can't deny he's useful, while also acknowledging that "war's no place for children".

The first thing that hit me was how well shot the film is. This is something that I had already witnessed in Stalker, but that you can see Tarkovsky was already on top of here. The camera movement, blocking, and framing is excellent making you feel the isolation of the character in the midst of war, as well as his entrapment as a result of the conflict, heightened by his desire to do "something" against the enemy, but also to just be a child.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
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The Watchers

The Watchers is, well, watchable.

I had set my expectations fairly low, given the barrage of rather negative reviews. And, honestly, I don't know if people are being extra hard on the movie because the director, Ishana Night Shyamalan, happens to be the daughter of M. Night Shyamalan.

Has the anti-nepo baby fervor in pop culture contributed to that? Very possibly.

So, given that she's the daughter of an established director, I'll start out by saying that this isn't a terrible first effort, but it does make it seem that Ms Shyamalan is rather intent on copying the style of her father's films.

This puts her in a somewhat different category from other "nepo baby" directors, like Sofia Coppola, who has quite clearly set out to make a very different kind of film than those of her father.

At any rate, with somewhat lowered expectations, this movie is somewhat entertaining, although it probably isn't as scary as the marketing might be trying to make you believe.

I have no idea how faithful it is to the source material, a homonymous novel by A. M. Shine.

Taken on its own terms, the movie offers an interesting and utterly fantastical premise, and follows through with it.

(Yes, there is of course a twist late in the movie).

Whether you enjoy this movie or not, the younger Shyamalan's effort is somewhat promising, but one can only hope that in the future she will try to find a more personal kind of filmmaking that doesn't simply feel like a carbon copy of her father's movies.

(I have said as little as possible about the story because I think it's best enjoyed knowing as little as possible before going in - I don't even remember how much the trailers gave away, but the less you know, the better).



Clockers (1995)

Urban NY story of drug dealers (clockers) in constant battles with the cops - who are the only ones going to win. It's a rich palette delivered by Spike Lee with a fairly original soundtrack that really enhances the atmosphere rather than the action. The murder investigation doesn't impinge but enhances the story. When the central character finds "it's hard to be a saint in the city" because of pressure from the police but also from his own "side" it's a story as old as the hills but played very well by the charismatic Mekhi Phifer. Scorsese was originally lined up to direct but I doubt he would have done a better job than Lee.
Strong



I forgot the opening line.

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The One That Got Away - (1957)

One of those weird movies where we're kind of meant to be cheering for the guy fighting for Nazi Germany - The One That Got Away advertises that fact that flying ace Franz von Werra (Hardy Krüger) was the only German POW to escape and make his way back to Germany. His Wikipedia page qualifies that in a couple of ways though - it says that he was the only German POW to escape from Canadian custody, and then it adds "apart from a U-boat seaman, Walter Kurt Reich" - take everything with a grain of salt. There are some striking parallels in this film to The Great Escape (an American production - this is British), such as when a choir of Germans strike up to cover the noise of Werra tunnelling under the barbed wire fence of his camp. It's a pretty exciting movie, if it wasn't for the fact that the main goal of our protagonist is to get back to Nazi Germany so he can resume fighting for Hitler I'd have been cheering all the way through. In doing this he nearly kills himself a couple of times, and although the film tries to twist things our way by British intelligence figuring out that "he's not one of those fanatics - he doesn't believe in all the Nazi gobbledygook", you have to be something of a fanatic to go through what he does just to get back to that nightmare place to go on killing. Despite all of that, this is a very well made movie, with an expertly fashioned screenplay and magnificent locations used with no expense spared.

7/10


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Blue Collar - (1978)

Paul Schrader's directorial debut vent's it's furious anger at unions, bosses, corporations, racial profiling, the government - everyone but the blue collar worker, who slaves away but still always finds him or herself under pressure and in debt. It's a brilliant film, and the casting of Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto works to perfection. I loved it. Full review here, in my watchlist thread.

9/10
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DEATH WHISPERER
(2023, Wantha)





Set in 1972 Thailand, Death Whisperer follows a rural family that is suddenly threatened by an evil presence that is haunting one of the daughters. This forces the entire family to mend their differences to stick together and try to overcome this presence. It is the older son, Yak (Nadech Kugimiya), who has just returned from military service who takes the lead against the threat.

I saw this film being recommended by someone on Twitter and it looked interesting, so I decided to give it a try. I thought it was very nicely shot and directed film, with some pretty good blocking. I also thought the whole atmosphere of dread was effectively conveyed, and the many ways that this evil presence manifests itself really worked, with some icky moments without necessarily resorting to full gore.

Grade:



Full review in my Movie Loot
I have a habit of watching the majority of Asian horror films that appear on Netflix. This one had been on my watchlist since it came there, and I decided to watch it after your review. I ended up giving it the same rating as you did, and it's one of the better new horrors found on the streaming service. Surprisingly good special effects and plenty of nods toward Evil Dead without being just a tribute.
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La La Land
(Damien Chazelle, 2016)

I hate musicals. Because I hate musicals, I didn't vote for musicals in the poll for the next countdown. Because I hate musicals, I told myself I wasn't going to do any first time watches in preparation for the musicals countdown. Because I hate musicals, I've intentionally avoided this movie for eight years. Yet somehow, against my better judgement and fully expecting to outright hate it, I watched La La Land today.

And having seen it, I can actually say that I didn't hate it. Not quite, but I definitely didn't like it either. The one thing that I ask of any movie is that it makes me give a shit and, until about the final quarter or so of its runtime, La La Land utterly failed to do that. I didn't find either Mia or Sebastian to be particularly likable or unlikable, they just kind of existed to me and anytime they broke out in song and dance I went from not caring to being annoyed. I don't know why the hell I even finished it since I wasn't under any obligation to, but I did eventually start to care towards the end of the movie. Though that tiny flicker of giving a shit was nearly extinguished by that final dance number and so here we are. I've seen the movie. It was okay-ish. But not okay enough to have any chance at my ballot.




I have a habit of watching the majority of Asian horror films that appear on Netflix. This one had been on my watchlist since it came there, and I decided to watch it after your review. I ended up giving it the same rating as you did, and it's one of the better new horrors found on the streaming service. Surprisingly good special effects and plenty of nods toward Evil Dead without being just a tribute.
There really seems to be a boom in the region. Feel free to recommend any good stuff.



There really seems to be a boom in the region. Feel free to recommend any good stuff.
Out of the newer ones, I'd say In My Mother's Skin and Susuk are easily worth watching. The first one is a harrowing Philippine fairy tale and the second is an Indonesian curse / demonic possession thing (I strongly suggest Googling the term susuk before watching the film unless you happen to know already what it means).

At least here in Finland In My Mother's Skin is on Amazon Prime and Susuk on Netflix.





La Famille Belier

Mon dieu! Has it been 10 years already since La Famille Belier was released?

Yes, it has. And imho it is still a much, much better film in just about any regard than the U.S. remake.

This movie sadly did not get a theatrical release in the U.S., not even following Coda's Oscar win.

At least now it is easily available for streaming, you can catch it on Kanopy and a few other streamers.




Am I OK?

Am I OK? is, well... just OK.

The film premiered at Sundance in 2022, and it's taken it this long to get a streaming premiere via Max.

Maybe part of the reason is that a movie like this would have seemed pretty edgy in the 1990s, but in 2024 it just feels like... "been there, done that!".

Still, I am a huge fan of Dakota Johnson and it's fun to see her constantly trying to get better in the less commercial efforts she occasionally makes (Daddio will be out this summer).

Sonoya Mizuno, who was born in Tokyo and raised in London, is extremely appealing as Johnson's BFF. She definitely deserves better parts.



Out of the newer ones, I'd say In My Mother's Skin and Susuk are easily worth watching. The first one is a harrowing Philippine fairy tale and the second is an Indonesian curse / demonic possession thing (I strongly suggest Googling the term susuk before watching the film unless you happen to know already what it means).

At least here in Finland In My Mother's Skin is on Amazon Prime and Susuk on Netflix.
Ok, I just googled what "susuk" means, and yeah, I'll approach that one with discretion

And since you mentioned Finland, I think it might have come up in another conversation here, but have you seen Kyrsyä: Tuftland? It's a sorta occult thriller/horror film from there. It's very low budget and amateurish, and far from great, but I still think they had something going on there. It kinda stuck with me for various reasons.



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Spokoj - 7.5/10
Fine acting. Natural. Like many European movies, they're about people, and their relationships with each other, themselves, the external world. Not crossing a finish line or making the kill shot, robbing a bank.




Ok, I just googled what "susuk" means, and yeah, I'll approach that one with discretion
I didn't mean it as a content warning, but understanding the concept makes (or so I would assume) the film easier to follow and more sensible. My brother watched it without any prior knowledge and afterward, he wished he'd Googled it before watching, not after.

And since you mentioned Finland, I think it might have come up in another conversation here, but have you seen Kyrsyä: Tuftland? It's a sorta occult thriller/horror film from there. It's very low budget and amateurish, and far from great, but I still think they had something going on there. It kinda stuck with me for various reasons.
I rarely watch Finnish movies. As a general rule, if the film is Finnish it's most likely bad. There are exceptions, of course, but they're rare (the first that comes to mind is Talvisota - Winter War which is among the best war movies ever made).



A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More -- both 4/5's, trilogy really does get better, and i wasted my time and didn't get the 3rd watched while it was still dark. But i will be spending a lot more time with this famed trilogy, for it is the gold standard of the sub-genre that has become a focus, along with the Golden Age of Animation, and silent cinema.



A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More -- both 4/5's, trilogy really does get better, and i wasted my time and didn't get the 3rd watched while it was still dark. But i will be spending a lot more time with this famed trilogy, for it is the gold standard of the sub-genre that has become a focus, along with the Golden Age of Animation, and silent cinema.
All three are great, but For a Few Dollars More is my favorite.



Roman Scandals (1933) Watched on Tubi. Eddie Cantor stars as a man who suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself in ancient Rome. Wacky shenanigans and musical numbers ensue. Some fun moments and clever dialogue make this an entertaining musical comedy. While not everything works and some parts are a little too dated (there is a "blackface" number), it is still an enjoyable time.



Society ennobler, last seen in Medici's Florence
The Promised Land (2023)

Starring Mads Mikkelsen

Good period drama movie. It is perfectly set for the main actor - the outstanding Mikkelsen.
Well, some of the other characters and events are a bit overstated which smells like intervention by the nowadays regime, which is usual for the cinema as a whole.
-
78/100
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