Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2018

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#108 - Loro (2018) [International Cut] ~ November 4

My third theater visit of the weekend was the one I was most looking forward to: Sorrentino's new film about Silvio Berlusconi: Loro!

As expected, it's a cinematic spectacle full of decadence and metaphorical visuals. Berlusconi is portrayed as a man who's equally powerful and pathetic, the embodiment of Italian materialism and of a country that has lost its inner soul.

As a whole, I would probably not put this film on the same level as The Great Beauty or Youth. Therefore it's a little too unfocused and chaotic at times (maybe because the international cut is a collection of Loro 1 and 2, which together are an hour longer as a whole but are only screened separately in Italy). But it does certainly have its equally spectacular and fascinating moments.
Definitely another cinematic win for Sorrentino!
Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2019

#109 - The Other Side of the Wind (2018) ~ November 10

STUNNING achievement! Both by Welles and the people who finished the work many years later.

This film tells the story of film director Jake Hannaford's (terrificely portrayed by the hugely charismatic John Huston) last day on earth. He just finished a film and on his 70th birthday party he plans on showing it to his guests. Everyone who's invited to his party is also encouraged to film the event. The footage of all those different filming perspectives was later edited together, in order to reconstruct Hannaford's final hours.

The result is a glorious piece of cinema, in the shape of Welles' other great late-career film, F For Fake, but this time entirely fictional and even more "stream of consciousness". Inbetween the clips of the event, we also get to see some beautifully photographed scenes of Hannaford's 'film within a film', which is reportedly a parody of Antonioni's Zabriskie Point (which I haven't seen yet). Those scenes are nothing short of stunning, in my view. Particularly one scene, where Oja Kodar (Welles' girlfriend at the time) has intercourse with the leading man in a car, is absolutely magnificent. If I'm not mistaken, that scene is also part of the one third of the film (which is spread throughout its whole running time) that Welles edited himself.

We'll never know what the film would've become if Welles had been able to finish it by himself, but as a huge fan of his work, I'm glad to say that the people who reconstructed this lost piece of cinema, did a very fine job. This was something I was looking forward to seeing since I got to know Welles' work for the first time. It was worth the wait.

#110 - They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018) ~ November 11

Great Documentary and pretty much a must see if you liked The Other Side of the Wind!

#111 - The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) ~ November 18

Greatly enjoyed this! Especially the third, fourth and fifth short story of this anthology Coen Brothers western were absolutely stunning. The others were also great fun in their own way.

This might be my favorite of their last few films.

Documentary Series - Wild Wild Country (2018) ~ December 9

Very well made documentary series, telling the insane story of an Indian cult from the 60s that moved to the state of Oregon in the 1980s, which caused a lot of crazy trouble. Incredible true story!

#113 - Roma (2018) ~ December 15

I've always been a huge fan of Cuaron, but this has to be his best film yet. What a masterpiece!
This haunting film tells the story of a housemaid in Mexico at the start of the 1970s, a period of violence in the streets.

There's one tragic moment at the center of this film that made me cry. The people who've seen the film will know which scene I'm talking about. In my opinion, it's one of the strongest moments in recent cinematic history. Filmmaking in its most brutal and touching form.

#114 - Ida (2013) ~ December 23

Masterful cinema. Makes me look forward even more towards Pawlikowski's newest film: Cold War.

#115 - Mandy (2018) ~ December 29

What an extraordinary picture. It's been a long while since I've seen a film with such a uniquely cool mood. I was blasted away.
This film is just one large hallucinatory trip. And its one of the best of its kind. I kept being amazed at how unapologetically the director embraces his own sensibilities. Panos Cosmatos: remember that name!
Sure, some will say it's style without substance or that it's way over the top (with Nicolas Cage once again giving it his all), but I kindly disagree. Some directors can get away with exploring more extreme cinematic territories. Cosmatos is absolutely one of them.

#116 - Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) ~ December 30

It's a pretty cool story with some fun scenes, but ultimately I don't really like the concept of an "interactive film" all that much. I'd rather just see all the possible scenarios after eachother, without having to return and click all the time.
Also, the different results and the logic behind the whole meta-story are a bit chaotic, to say the least.
I enjoyed it as an experiment, but I sincerely hope this doesn't become a trend.

In this last official post of my 2018 log I want to talk about my 15 favorite new film discoveries of 2018. These are all films that I watched for the first time during 2018. It was, like always, a heartbreaking mission to leave out all the other films that deeply touched me, but one has to make choices.
I wasn't able to see as many films as I wanted near the end of the year, because I was busy working, but I was still able to watch 116 new films in total. I'll try for 100+ again in 2019. Here we go!

15. Nixon (1995)

I'm still in the process of discovering Stone's complete filmography, but this is probably his most impressive film for me yet. Of course, Platoon and JFK are also fantastic, but there's just something about this one that seems special to me. Maybe it's because I'm so fascinated by the character of Richard Nixon. Of all the films about politics that I watched this year, this seemed like the one with the most impressive and credible vision, even though many scenes are sheer fiction. Stone has the power to create his own history and it's sensational to watch.
Will probably watch Salvador and The Doors soon.

14. Yi Yi (2000)

I believe this was my second film by Yang and just like with The Terrorizers last year, Yang again makes my year top 15 list. This is a film with a very large scope. It manages to comment on many different aspects of the human experience. A lot of impressions remain, but it's hard for me to point at the various plot developments of this film, even a few months after I've watched it. I'm pretty confident this is a sign that it will get even better with a rewatch.

13. Roma (2018)

This film was an extremely impressive cinematic spectacle that somehow manages to tell a very personal and intimate story. It's Cuaron's best film so far! Let's hope we don't have to wait as long for his next picture.

12. I Vitelloni (1953)

This is probably my favorite pre-La Dolce Vita Fellini film. Rich, quick, dark and extremely wise storytelling. Absolutely adored it!

11. Under the Silver Lake (2018)

I really want to revisit this film some time in the near future. I watched it in the theater and it was such a cool and fresh experience. It's like a neo-noir for paranoid young adults. I wouldn't say I'm a paranoid type, but I can certainly relate to the sentiment of paranoia. This film is one of the most entertaining portrayals of youthful existential paranoia ever made.

10. Mandy (2018)

This was THE late year surprise for me. I read a lot about how great this film is, but I couldn't really believe I would become part of the cult following of this film as well.
For those who haven't seen it: watch it now, the hype is real! This is absolute batsh*t crazy yet high quality filmmaking. Nostalgia, a delicious psychedelic atmosphere, layered storytelling and Nicolas Cage going all the way: this film brings it all.

9. The Music Lovers (1971)

Ken Russell's other composer film, Mahler, also had a good chance of making this list, but I ultimately chose for this Tchaikovsky biography. What impresses me the most about Russell's biographies is that they feel so extremely unconventional, subversive and bold. And yet, after doing a bit of research myself, they still seem to be largely rooted in reality. Russell was a true cinematic master and one of my absolute favorite discoveries from the last few years. I'll gladly watch some more of his work in 2019.

8. A Face in the Crowd (1957)

Kazan decided to go all the way with this cynical commentary on media and politics. Explosive and biting cinema!

7. Cowards Bend the Knee or The Blue Hands (2003)

This was the first of three feature length Maddin films I discovered this year. It was the one that pulled me in. I was shocked at how good and fresh this was, even though I was familiar with Maddin's shorts before. Absolute genius.

6. The Boy Friend (1971)

The most delightful, escapist cinematic discovery of the year for me. Russell made one of the most intensely beautiful musicals of all time, while still making it feel like a Ken Russell film. This must not have been an easy task, but the result works perfectly.

5. The Other Side of the Wind (2018)

Words can't easily describe how happy I was with the restoration of this Welles film, 40 years after it was initially filmed. They did a magnificent job and in my opinion, delivered something close to the cinematic chaos, genius and focus that Welles would've offered us if he'd had the chance to finish this film himself.

4. Casanova (1976)

This is one of those films that unexpectedly kept haunting me many weeks after I watched it. I revisited many scenes of it from time to time, and I absolutely fell in love with its Nino Rota music score. It's another of those films that I'm really looking forward to rewatching. Pure Fellini deliciousness.

3. Phantom Thread (2017)

PTA did it again with his latest film. I saw this alone at the theater and I remember walking around in the city afterwards on my own. I was in a state of trance. It was a really enjoyable experience. It was the kind of pure happiness that only cinephiles can understand. Already looking forward to PTA's next piece of magic!

2. Ugetsu (1953)

Mizoguchi's Ugetsu is probably the richest piece of cinema I watched in 2018. Every time I think about it, I smile because of its sheer genius. It's quite incredible that this film is only slightly over 1 hour and a half long. I will definitely watch some more Mizoguchi in 2019. Probably finally getting around to Sansho.

1. The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

After seeing Cowards Bend the Knee, I could barely believe that Maddin had made another film that was that cool and good. And what do you know, in the same year, he made an even more impressive and crazy film. The Saddest Music in the World is a breathtaking flick with a totally out of the box concept. It's a really weird film to explain to people. Isabella Rossellini literally has glass legs with beer in them.
Yet, when you see this film, you'll realize the true greatness of Maddin. He's able to inject genuine emotional profoundness inside the funniest and most outlandish scenarios. It's breathtaking cinema of the highest order and my favorite new discovery of this year!

I still need to see Yi Yi.

Sansho the Bailiff is better than Ugetsu in my opinion, I think you will like it. I found Ugetsu a little overrated, not bad but just not as great as I expected, although I didn't see it on the big screen, which probably would be ideal.

Gangster Rap is Shakespeare for the Future
Yi Yi is great but A Brighter Summer Day and Taipei Story are where itís at! They finally got decent quality releases too. I saw both on a vhs transfer a few years ago when that was the only available way and they were still amazing lol