ScarletLion's Movie Log

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'Like Me' (2018)


Neat little film that riffs on loneliness, insecurity and err, solvent abuse. Some lovely visuals mixed in with some sparse dialogue and dream like qualities. Reminded me of Shane Carruth films and 'Lost in Translation'. Worth a watch

6.5/10



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



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'Blindspotting' (2018)

Very interesting movie about life choices and race in modern america. Comedic elements combine to make a really tight film. Looks nice too. Suffers from a few histrionics at the end but recommended.





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I think I may rekindle this thread for the occasional thought or 2.

'The Spirit of the Beehive' (1973)

Dir.: Victor Erice




Absolutely beautiful film. It depicts the lives of 2 sisters in Spain during the end of the Spanish Civil War. They watch the movie Frankenstein, amble about in the rural countryside, make up fantasy stories and trick each other. In that sense it's a coming of age movie but also one about socio-political events of the time and the threats to family life.

What is so stark about the film is that it uses the shots, cinematography, light, camerawork etc to do the story telling instead of dialogue. There is one scene where the mother is lying in bed, her husband wandering about in the same room, but the camera never moves away from her face, and not one word is spoken. The shot looks almost Bergmanesque and the absence of dialogue hints at a problematic relationship melded with mental suffering. In another shot we see the windows of the house bathed in yellow sunlight as the father tries to open them. The windows are honeycomb shaped - in a reference to the bees that the father keeps. Presumably Erice is saying that the family, just like any other family in Spain at this time are trapped like worker bees in a futile existence as the political regime of the time tightens it's grip on ordinary people.

Guillermo del Toro cites this as a major influence on his work, and it is easy to see why. The period, the language, the fantasy, the innocence of the children (who are remarkable in this film - their expressions and mannerisms are so natural), the political climate, the slight horror element etc etc. It's almost like a cross between Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone.

Of the two sisters, the movie focuses on the younger - Ana and her relationship with the spirit monster that her sister has told her lives in an abandoned outbuilding in a nearby farm. This, along with large amount of symbolism (I won't even pretend to know what all the paintings represent) makes the viewer think that the loss of innocence is somehow tied to Spain finding it's feet as a nation. But I'm hardly qualified in history to confirm it.

A really beautiful film.




the samoan lawyer's Avatar
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I think you should keep this thread updated.


Re. Spirit of the Beehive, I remember loving it but I don't remember much about it, I'll have to revisit.
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'Nobody Knows' (2004)

Dir.: Hirokazu Kore-eda


I'm convinced that only Hirokazu Kore-eda could make a film about tragic child neglect, appear so beautiful. Yuya Yagira's performance as a 12 year old boy forced to take care of his younger sisters is astonishing. Kore-eda's ability to photograph in such a real, natural way is unmatched. It's 2 and a half hours of mostly misery but that misery is portrayed in such a charming and innocent way. The third act is forseeable in some ways, but Kore-eda frames it in such a gut-wrenching manner that the predictability instantly forgivable. That it's based on a real, even more tragic story, makes it all the more unfathomable.

It's hard to put into words the ability that Kore-eda has, to show us humanity on screen. Close ups of unpaid gas bills with child's scribbling on them, dirty fingernails, hopelessly wandering the streets etc. It all builds up to a hugely moving climax with a tiny ray of hops at the end. Kore-eda is one of the greatest living Directors.




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'Happy Together' (1997)

Dir.: Wonk Kar-Wai


This film has aged very well. Wong Kar-Wai's directing is so recognizable. His long time collaborator Christopher Doyle's cinematography is absolutely mesmerizing - and matches his work on 'In the Mood for Love' . Lost love, loneliness and unhappiness are the themes, which sounds depressing but it's all packaged so wonderfully that it doesn't matter. There are only four people with acting credits in this movie - that's how focused it is on the central characters. I was sad to read about the tragic life of co star Leslie Cheung, at least we have performances like this to remember him by.

Anyone who's ever felt alone or had their heart broken should watch this.




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'The art of self defense' (2019)

Dir.: Riley Stearns


Surprisingly good film about male interaction and machismo. Jesse Eisenberg plays Casey - a docile and submissive accountant who wants to change his life after getting mugged by a gang of thugs.

The standout performance is by Alessandro Nivola as 'Sensei' - the karate tutor that Casey visits to introduce a bit of alpha male into his life. The Dojo lounge is a sacred and mysterious place that Casey begins to obsess about as he tries to work his way up the belts. There's a night class and a day class, and Casey finds out the sinister difference as the film goes along.

The film is produced by the Zellner brothers (one of which plays Henry, another karate student) - and you can notice slight tonal similarities with films like the brilliant 'Kumiko the Treasure Hunter which they Directed - specifically the delusions of youth and the necessity to comply with society's norms.

There is a lot of great comedy too, much of it in a deadpan absurdist manner not unlike that of Todd Solondz The absurdist / surreal nature does require some suspensions of belief as the plot does waver into analogies and implausibilities . All in all its a film that goes way deeper into exploring the pitfalls of masculinity (and the positives of feminism) than it looks at the outset.

7.1/10




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'And Breathe Normally' (2019)

Dir.: Isold Uggadottir




This movie won't win any major awards. And that is largely why most awards suck, and should be ignored.

The lead performance from Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir (Lara) in this movie is one of the performances of the year. This is her first ever feature. She is brilliant. On to the Director - Isold Uggadottir, it is her first feature too. A really remarkable debut for someone who has just a handful of short films to her name.

It's a story about two women struggling in Iceland, both for very different reasons, both mothers trying to do the best thing for their children. Their stories intertwine and their decisions will have a major impact on both their lives and their children's lives. We see desperation to feed and shelter themselves, and although the subject matter sounds bleak, there is enough hope and determination in this film to make it a pleasurable experience. I was engaged and moved throughout.

It's an understated but perfectly paced film. It touches on the bond of motherhood, poverty, life choices, humanism, immigration and the goodness / evil of people in the Western world.

If there is a criticism it is that the third act is slightly fanciful, and the payoff can be seen coming. But that shouldn't detract from the film as a whole, because the journey to get to this point is completely satisfying. The film is yet to be released where I live but was released on Netflix USA in January 2019. So I'm calling it a 2019 film. And it's one of the best of the year.

7.9/10




the samoan lawyer's Avatar
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'And Breathe Normally' (2019)

Dir.: Isold Uggadottir




This movie won't win any major awards. And that is largely why most awards suck, and should be ignored.

The lead performance from Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir (Lara) in this movie is one of the performances of the year. This is her first ever feature. She is brilliant. On to the Director - Isold Uggadottir, it is her first feature too. A really remarkable debut for someone who has just a handful of short films to her name.

It's a story about two women struggling in Iceland, both for very different reasons, both mothers trying to do the best thing for their children. Their stories intertwine and their decisions will have a major impact on both their lives and their children's lives. We see desperation to feed and shelter themselves, and although the subject matter sounds bleak, there is enough hope and determination in this film to make it a pleasurable experience. I was engaged and moved throughout.

It's an understated but perfectly paced film. It touches on the bond of motherhood, poverty, life choices, humanism, immigration and the goodness / evil of people in the Western world.

If there is a criticism it is that the third act is slightly fanciful, and the payoff can be seen coming. But that shouldn't detract from the film as a whole, because the journey to get to this point is completely satisfying. The film is yet to be released where I live but was released on Netflix USA in January 2019. So I'm calling it a 2019 film. And it's one of the best of the year.

7.9/10


Looks good. Wonder is it getting picked up by Netflix over here?



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Looks good. Wonder is it getting picked up by Netflix over here?
If it was, It would have by now I would have thought. There are probably no plans for a BluRay either.

Sigh.



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'American Woman' (2019)

Dir.: Jake Scott


Hard to believe the lack of chatter surrounding this film. Sienna Miller gives the best performance of her career, and the scriptwriting is bang on. It's a drama about motherhood, sisterhood, coping with loss and love and single parent families struggling in modern America. Christina Hendricks and Aaron Paul provide good support, but Miller is the standout. Definitely one of the films of the year, and I'm bewildered at the lack of response to it.




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'The Red Shoes' (1948)

Dir.: Powell / Pressburger

Finally, I can remove the shame tag from around my neck and tick this off the watchlist.

Jack Cardiff's cinematography is littered with eye popping reds and blues, and is stunning to look at. The shot below in particular was awesome and must have been a treat to experience in 1948



It's choreographed so well - the long ballet scene in the middle of the film is jaw dropping. The set design is also fantastic. The viewer can see immediately that this movie has inspired countless others (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, La La Land, Black Swan spring to mind).

The score is also a character in itself, and there are a couple of scenes that feature diegetic music very cleverly in order to push the plot along. Goring and Shearer are great as Craster and page respectively, but I thought Anton Wallbrook as Lermantov was the performance that held everything together.

The setup took quite a while to get to, but it's easy to see why this is considered a true classic of cinema. Quite a treat to see Covent Garden, Paris and the riviera in the 40s, and I didn't see that ending coming. I love the ambiguity of the ending too? Do the shoes provide a metaphor for literally "dying for ones art"? Or by taking the shoes off at the end - does she commit to having a relationship with Craster after all?

Great film.




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'Dronningen' (The Queen of Hearts) (2019)

Dir.: May el-Toukhy

'Dronningen' (The Queen of Hearts) is a Danish family drama directed by May el-Toukhy. A well off couple with 2 young girls have an extra guest - as the father's troubled stepson comes to stay with them.

The film creeps up on you and makes you squirm and feel uncomfortable. There are disturbing scenes, very explicit scenes, some beautifully shot scenes and some scenes so tense that you can feel yourself edging forward in your seat. The brilliance of these scenes is that the viewer thinks they know exactly what's coming....... but it doesn't. This happens two or three times in the film and it's to the Directors credit that the viewer is left wondering where the film will turn next.

Despite this, the film is quite low key, especially the first hour or so. There are no set pieces here or thrilling action. It is heavy dialogue which is written well, as we need to know the backstory of the characters.


Trine Dyrholm is excellent as the central figure - a woman with a slightly secretive past who doesn't seem to like playing by the rules and admitting mistakes. Her husband on the other hand seems to be the opposite- willing to learn from his past and just trying to do what is right for his family. I think the Director purposefully chooses the father's profession as a Doctor (supposed to fix people) and the mother as a lawyer (supposed to uphold the law), in an attempt to make a point. This leaves the viewer grappling with the question of whether to feel empathy for any of the characters, which may possibly be a sticking point for some.

The film's third act deals with the fallout of decisions made and like many good films leaves the viewer wondering how it all pans out in the future for certain characters. It' a good character study and deserves a wide audience.




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'Jellyfish' (2019)

Dir.: James Gardener


A somewhat frustrating experience. It's a film that has subject content that I love. Troubled teenagers trying to find a way and making the best out of their lives. The premise is a good one - 15 year old Sarah basically acts as a mother to her 2 siblings and a carer to her mother who seems to have addiction and mental health issues.

Sarah helps pay the overdue rent with a part time job and other activities but is struggling to keep it up and her school life is deteriorating as a result. Sarah is played really well by Liv Hill. The main problem I had with the movie was the supporting cast - who just seemed to be in over their heads given how important their roles were.

The script is decent, the film is a lot grittier than I had thought it might be, which is a good thing and it's shot nicely - but there is no real depth outside of Sarah's brief story. The emotive parts are done very well however, and I liked the rather ambiguous ending - the viewer really does root for Sarah's character all the way through.

A film with a lot of heart but just not quite the talent to pull it off, so feels a bit like a missed opportunity. I hope Gardener makes more films though as he does have a nice touch, and this was his first feature.




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'The Farewell' (2019)

Dir.: Lulu Wang


Very sweet family drama that packs a punch or two. It's wonderfully directed with clever language ploys and culture clashes at the forefront. The premise is stated upfront - a Chinese family try to keep their Grandmother from knowing that she is terminally ill. Hard to review without spoilers, it's a complete roller-coaster of emotions (that's a cliche but it's true). There are moments of hilarity (the cemetery scene especially) and moments of pure emotion (most of the scenes towards the end). I went in to this film blind, and found myself googling everything about it 2 mins after the credits rolled.

The Farewell is a film about saying goodbye to a person, but also has lots to say about saying goodbye to culture, family traditions, places and values. It deals with these things very sensitively. I found myself comparing it to the films of Hirokazu Koreeda alot of the time, mostly because of the family aspect.

I've never heard of Awkwafina, but she was completely brilliant in this, and most of the rest of the cast held their own too. Even the real life family member of the Director.

There are a couple of flaws (we didn't need the little bird for instance). But otherwise it is a very lovely movie which I expect will feature in alot of people's top 10's of 2019.




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'Pain and Glory' (2019)

Dir.: Pedro Almodovar


Almodovar's latest is a sumptuous semi autobiographical traipse through time and memory that explores the euphoria and depression of life choices and fate. The colour scheme alone is absolutely spellbinding with reds, blues and green jumping out at the viewer. There are flashbacks, non-linear parts and the structure is quite unorthadox, but Almodovar's direction is so flawless that instead of being jarring, it only adds to the experience. There are the usual themes of mother son relationships and sexuality but also subtexts that include making peace with your mistakes, reliving memories, staying true to your creative side and life's endless search for true happiness.

There are moments that evoke the finest European movies of last century and also a fresh feel to it - with Antonio Banderas giving what many critics have described as a career best performance. And the ending - the ending was just perfect. I left feeling almost euphoric at what I'd just seen.

An entire review at this time is almost pointless as this movie will probably take days to sink in. But at the moment it's a 9 out of 10. Amongst Almodovar's finest work.

It's a truly gorgeous film.




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'Pain and Glory' (2019)

Dir.: Pedro Almodovar


Almodovar's latest is a sumptuous semi autobiographical traipse through time and memory that explores the euphoria and depression of life choices and fate. The colour scheme alone is absolutely spellbinding with reds, blues and green jumping out at the viewer. There are flashbacks, non-linear parts and the structure is quite unorthadox, but Almodovar's direction is so flawless that instead of being jarring, it only adds to the experience. There are the usual themes of mother son relationships and sexuality but also subtexts that include making peace with your mistakes, reliving memories, staying true to your creative side and life's endless search for true happiness.

There are moments that evoke the finest European movies of last century and also a fresh feel to it - with Antonio Banderas giving what many critics have described as a career best performance. And the ending - the ending was just perfect. I left feeling almost euphoric at what I'd just seen.

An entire review at this time is almost pointless as this movie will probably take days to sink in. But at the moment it's a 9 out of 10. Amongst Almodovar's finest work.

It's a truly gorgeous film.


Definitely going to have to get to this one soon. Absolutely loved Julieta btw.