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By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22604077

City of Life and Death - (2009) - China

Affecting and extremely depressing film about what is known as the Rape of Nanking. What is unexpected though is the sympathetic treatment the Japanese sometimes get. I remember reading about this - after the Japanese take the city a humanitarian 'safe zone' is erected by Nazi official John Rabe and various British and Australian aid workers. It was thought that the Japanese would respect Rabe's authority, (Nazi Germany and Japan were allies at the time,) but constant Japanese incursions bring the massacre and rape into this leaky commune. Eventually Rabe is ordered to go back to Germany due to the obvious conflict of interest. Some of the Japanese feel a great deal of shame and distress over what their compatriots have done.

Black and white cinematography turns this into a vivid nightmare - there are many instances where it feels we are dreaming. When the Japanese and Chinese forces meet just inside the walls of the city, you expect conflict to erupt. Instead, the Chinese try to flee while the Japanese try to obstruct them. There's a roiling mass of humanity - death will be the result after all, just by crushing instead of gunfire. Later a Japanese soldier accidentally shoots women and children in hiding, and is broken by this - his compatriots trying to interfere with his dogged suicide attempt. It was this treatment of Japanese innocence lost that made me angry at one point, but by the end of the film I felt the events were very accurately portrayed. For a Chinese production, which had been painstakingly examined by Chinese censors, the balance is remarkable.

In the end I felt more depressed by this as opposed to excited about finding a great new film. I can't find much wrong with it, but be warned. This one isn't out to shock with graphic depictions of war, it's more of a human drama. Even though it ends on a slightly positive note, I felt some of it was about how humanity flourishes in an individual but completely breaks down once a mob is formed. I need to watch something uplifting lest I give up on humanity altogether.

7/10



Professional horse shoe straightener

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22604077

City of Life and Death - (2009) - China

Affecting and extremely depressing film about what is known as the Rape of Nanking. What is unexpected though is the sympathetic treatment the Japanese sometimes get. I remember reading about this - after the Japanese take the city a humanitarian 'safe zone' is erected by Nazi official John Rabe and various British and Australian aid workers. It was thought that the Japanese would respect Rabe's authority, (Nazi Germany and Japan were allies at the time,) but constant Japanese incursions bring the massacre and rape into this leaky commune. Eventually Rabe is ordered to go back to Germany due to the obvious conflict of interest. Some of the Japanese feel a great deal of shame and distress over what their compatriots have done.

Black and white cinematography turns this into a vivid nightmare - there are many instances where it feels we are dreaming. When the Japanese and Chinese forces meet just inside the walls of the city, you expect conflict to erupt. Instead, the Chinese try to flee while the Japanese try to obstruct them. There's a roiling mass of humanity - death will be the result after all, just by crushing instead of gunfire. Later a Japanese soldier accidentally shoots women and children in hiding, and is broken by this - his compatriots trying to interfere with his dogged suicide attempt. It was this treatment of Japanese innocence lost that made me angry at one point, but by the end of the film I felt the events were very accurately portrayed. For a Chinese production, which had been painstakingly examined by Chinese censors, the balance is remarkable.

In the end I felt more depressed by this as opposed to excited about finding a great new film. I can't find much wrong with it, but be warned. This one isn't out to shock with graphic depictions of war, it's more of a human drama. Even though it ends on a slightly positive note, I felt some of it was about how humanity flourishes in an individual but completely breaks down once a mob is formed. I need to watch something uplifting lest I give up on humanity altogether.

7/10
Great film. Possibly the most underrated war film of all time. I never see it in any lists, favourites or mentions when war films come up. The sound design is also brilliant.



Great film. Possibly the most underrated war film of all time. I never see it in any lists, favourites or mentions when war films come up. The sound design is also brilliant.
While it suffers from softening the depravity of the situation like most films about genocidal atrocities, as accurately capturing these events would quickly devolve into exploitation-Salo-meets-Serbian-Film territory, it has among the most affecting and haunting sequences Iíve seen in war cinema. Itís approach lacks the sentimentality of most in this genre and itís all the more haunting for that.

I often think of the beach scene with the machine guns as one of the essential ďhorrors of warĒ sequences, alongside much of Come and See.



I watched the movie "The Colony" with Laurence Fishburne. At first, it seemed like it was not bad, but cannibalism is already too much. I would rate it 4/10.



Little known film that I rarely see mentioned. I more or less agree with you. I thought this one had a great first half, but sorta lost a bit of "oomph" as things start to fall in place. Still solid.
Yeah, it is easy to build up the tension but then a real film-makers job is to maintain that. And it ebbs at a pivotal point in this film.



Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)

So, after pretty decent Wind River, Taylor Sheridan makes this bore-fest that has all the grandeur of run-of-the-mill television production? It doesn't help that I dislike Angelina Jolie badly. Terrible carbage.
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Seen this movie a million times. Always makes me cry at the ending. Streisand such a good actor.
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Iím here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Thatís why Iím here now.



SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAW

It's a straight up SAW movie. Take from that what you will.



Great film. Possibly the most underrated war film of all time. I never see it in any lists, favourites or mentions when war films come up. The sound design is also brilliant.
I should have given it a higher rating - it's a film I can't fault at all on any level, but I couldn't shake the bad feelings it gave me and it affected my judgement on it's 'enjoyability'. I remember watching Come and See (a kind of benchmark for revealing the true horror of war) for the first time with my father. I regretted it. He was born in Germany, 1940, and even though he was only a kid he felt deeply ashamed to be a German that day. I've never seen him like that before or since. It took me around 25 years to watch Come and See again - but I did watch it again because I knew it was such a unique and powerful film. In time (not as much hopefully) I'll rewatch City of Life and Death.


By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57505137

The Sisters Brothers - (2018)

A splendid Western with horror elements, The Sisters Brothers is refreshingly original despite it's simple premise - a pair of brothers turned violent assassins chasing down a couple of gold-prospecting men. Based on a novel by Patrick deWitt. I've never seen a galloping horse on fire before, and when you do see it, it's unsettling but that's the kind of film this is. You'll squirm at times, but the film as a whole doesn't feel too dark to enjoy - it just smacks you around a bit like a horror film would.

The casting of John C. Reilly (he co-produced, so that's a shoe-in) and Joaquin Phoenix might have been a mistake, but it turns out well for them. Despite being murderous gunslingers they're brothers first and bicker (often in an immature manner) like any brothers would. You feel that they are just kids in adults bodies - albeit kids that don't mind killing people. In fact, a theme of 'infantile regression' is woven into the fabric of the whole film. Jake Gyllenhaal as jack-of-all-trades John Morris and his heavy accent didn't gel as well for me, but he's somewhat peripheral to the whole story. He's paired up with Riz Ahmed's Hermann Kermit Warm (love that name!), who he's been sent to babysit until the Sisters Brothers arrive intent on torturing and murdering him. Well made, with many surprises.

8/10



The trick is not minding
Profile 3.5/5


Decent thriller not helped much by overstating its message at the end (fear gives them power!!!) nor the gimmicky POV as told through a laptop screen, but still decent.

Wrath of Man 2.5/5

Ritchie really hasnít been the same since Snatch, although the first Sherlock Holmes film was ok. Maybe Madonna took his talent during the divorce? Whatever the case, he seems to be stuck in neutral. Clumsy dialogue, a strange insistence on giving characters odd nicknames. (Boy Sweat? Really? I swear Iím not making this up) characters come and go with little explanation and the ending is a mess.
But I gotta give props to the action and the music.



THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD

Sheridan once again finds strength in transforming boilerplate crime thrillers through strong character work and a sense for acute details that add authenticity and nuance that could easily slip into trite territory. Just solid, straight forward, well done meat and potatoes genre filmmaking. Not quite as good as Wind River but not far off, either.




The trick is not minding
THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD

Sheridan once again finds strength in transforming boilerplate crime thrillers through strong character work and a sense for acute details that add authenticity and nuance that could easily slip into trite territory. Just solid, straight forward, well done meat and potatoes genre filmmaking. Not quite as good as Wind River but not far off, either.

I almost chose this over Wrath of Man.



I almost chose this over Wrath of Man.
I much preferred it to WoM and Spiral, both of which I saw in theater while I saw this at home. Mistakes were possibly made but I think I particularly enjoyed having the comfort of a media room and easy access to drink whilst watching.

I think a bigger screen may have exacerbated some of the questionable forest fire effects in this too.

A perfect HBO Max stream.



The trick is not minding
I much preferred it to WoM and Spiral, both of which I saw in theater while I saw this at home. Mistakes were possibly made but I think I particularly enjoyed having the comfort of a media room and easy access to drink whilst watching.

I think a bigger screen may have exacerbated some of the questionable forest fire effects in this too.

A perfect HBO Max stream.
I havenít watched any of Sheridans films yet, although I keep hearing good things about Wind River. It like he has many films yet.



I havenít watched any of Sheridans films yet, although I keep hearing good things about Wind River. It like he has many films yet.
I've enjoyed both films he's directed and all the films he has written to various degrees. They all operate on the level where they aren't trying to break new ground but are trying to deliver genre thrills in a straight forward and accomplished manner.

I'd rank his stuff like so:

Sicario (wrote)
Wind River (wrote/directed)
Those Who Want Me Dead (wrote/directed)
Hell or High Water (wrote)
Sicario 2 (wrote)

He's come a long way from being the sheriff in Sons of Anarchy though. That's for damn sure.



I've enjoyed both films he's directed and all the films he has written to various degrees. They all operate on the level where they aren't trying to break new ground but are trying to deliver genre thrills in a straight forward and accomplished manner.

I'd rank his stuff like so:

Sicario (wrote)
Wind River (wrote/directed)
Those Who Want Me Dead (wrote/directed)
Hell or High Water (wrote)
Sicario 2 (wrote)

He's come a long way from being the sheriff in Sons of Anarchy though. That's for damn sure.
I thought you liked SoA, though? At least, more than I did, from what I remember. Anyway, as for the films Sheridan's worked on that I've seen, I'll go with Wind River as his best, since it had an memorable, evocative overall aesthetic, which contrasted with Hell Or High Water, since I felt it was held back somewhat by a fairly flat direction that didn't keep pace with the quality of the writing, while Sicario, although more stylish, still suffered from the inherent detachment of Villeneuve's aesthetic, which works quite well for moody, ambitious Science-Fiction, but didn't quite provide enough of the thrills that a more straightforward Thriller like it needed.



I thought you liked SoA, though? At least, more than I did, from what I remember. Anyway, as for the films Sheridan's worked on that I've seen, I'll go with Wind River as his best, since it had an memorable, evocative overall aesthetic, which contrasted with Hell Or High Water, since I felt it was held back somewhat by a fairly flat direction that didn't keep pace with the quality of the writing, while Sicario, although more stylish, still suffered from the inherent detachment of Villeneuve's aesthetic, which works quite well for moody, ambitious Science-Fiction, but didn't quite provide enough of the thrills that a more straightforward Thriller like it needed.
It's hard to say how I felt about SOA. I think later s1-3 are good television that evokes the success of the Shield, a far superior show. Then, it's a series falling apart, getting slightly better, then spectacularly failing in embarrassing ways that waste the talents of it's cast and previous set-up.

Regardless, being an esteemed writer/director is a massive step up from a B tier character on that show.

I also strongly disagree with your assertions about both McKenzie and Villeneuve's directing, which I think are both far more accomplished than Sheridan's, he just had the benefit of stronger scripts than the former.



Tracker (2010)

Interesting Kiwi film with Ray Winstone playing a vet from the Boer War with peerless tracking abilities. Kinda slow and languid in places but that suits the storyline.