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The trick is not minding
Better Days


What a heart breaking film.

Chen Nina and Xiao Bei couldnít be more opposite from each other, yet so much more alike. Both are lonely, long abandoned by their parents for various reasons. Chenís mother is at least somewhat in her life, but is also in hiding from the debt she is in, while trying to earn more money.

Both are drawn to each other out of a need to survive. Chen because of her bullies, and distractions eh doesnít need because of the constant pressure she already feels while studying for her admissions test. Xiao, because of his street life will assuredly one day end him. The constant bruises and scars he comes home with become progressively worse.

This film is an indictment against bullying, and we see itís effects. Chen is wracked with guilt for her silent complicity, when her friend commits suicide. After being questioned by the police, the bullies turn their attention to her, pulling the same pranks. We see flashbacks to scenes that Echo her friends treatment as we see the same lea so pulled on her. *Wracked with guilt, she holds herself responsible for remaining a silent witness, doing nothing because of the fear it would bring unwanted attention to her. Her friend, just before committing suicide, even questions why she did nothing.

I could go on about the bullying. I didnít find it exaggerated, considering the bullying I had witnessed firsthand, and, regrettably, the bullying I implemented myself as a kid. I never found it over the top.

The constant pressure to succeed is always in the background as well, with subtle messages abo it their future hinging on their test results. We see a student who HS failed and her parents reaction from begging, to bargaining, to anger.

It is the relationship between Chen and Xiao that is the lynchpin of the film. It isnít one based on sex. It is a need. The need to survive and escape the city to a better life. Both recognize their current paths are perilous without each other. And so he becomes her great protector. I think, in a way, he also sees her as something pure (he even calls her pure at one point), and he would never forgive himself if he allowed something that pure to be swallowed up by the city.

I do have issues with the third act, the murder mystery, which I felt was completely unnecessary, but it doesnít ruin the movie, thankfully.
I also wonder how she is able to get a job as a teacher with a prison term attached to her record.

Maybe things are different in Hong Kong. 🤷



I guess I can
WARNING: spoilers below
kind of see the murder mystery being unnecessary. I would've preferred that the film stuck to the drama between the two leads, especially since being wrapped up in murder mysteries isn't as relatable to bullying victims as what happened to the leads before that sub-plot.
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Better Days (2019) is a good movie, but it's the kind of movie that I wouldn't want to watch again because it's a tough watch.
WARNING: "SPOILERS about the ENDING of "Better Days"!!!" spoilers below
I would have liked a better ending for Chen Nian and Xiao Bei. They shouldn't be punished for what seemed to be an accident that was caused by the bully.
I think that
WARNING: spoilers below
the problem is that while the death was accidental, they definitely moved a body, covered up the death, etc. There were mitigating circumstances with Chen Nian beause of the bullying, but not so much Xiao Bei.


I also wonder how she is able to get a job as a teacher with a prison term attached to her record.

Maybe things are different in Hong Kong. 🤷
She was a minor and the death was accidental.

When I renew my teaching certificate I have to answer questions about my criminal/legal past, but the questions are only about if I have committed (or have any charges pending) crimes involving children.



I was requested by Takoma to let you all know that the film contains a slaughterhouse scene in the beginning. The actual killing isn't shown on camera, but some sprays of blood are, as well as the carcass being gutted.



A quick note (especially for @MissVicky!), that the movie has a setting sometimes of the family's slaughterhouse.

I checked IMDb, which says you see sprays of blood but no actual killing of animals. I couldn't remember if you actually saw any death.



The trick is not minding
She was a minor and the death was accidental.

When I renew my teaching certificate I have to answer questions about my criminal/legal past, but the questions are only about if I have committed (or have any charges pending) crimes involving children.
I was always under the impression a criminal background would prevent a career in teaching. Me ex had a DUI and lost her job as a direct result of that, for instance. She hasnít been able to reach since. And that was back in 2014.

Does it depends on the school? Or maybe, Iím Over looking the fact that she was a minor.

Edit: also probably over looking the incident itself, and the fact they probably felt sympathy for her



I was always under the impression a criminal background would prevent a career in teaching. Me ex had a DUI and lost her job as a direct result of that, for instance. She hasnít been able to reach since. And that was back in 2014.

Does it depends on the school? Or maybe, Iím Over looking the fact that she was a minor.

Edit: also probably over looking the incident itself, and the fact they probably felt sympathy for her
Sex crimes and "endangerment" offences are the worst ones in terms of getting/keeping a teaching certificate. It's about the danger that the teacher could pose to a student, and so crimes involving endangering other people are big no-nos.

I think that her being a minor at the time and the extreme extenuating circumstances--she had been physically assaulted and sexually humiliated by her "victim"--along with the fact that the death was accidental are really important. Would Chen Nian post a risk to her students? I think most reasonable people would say that her pushing her bully (which wasn't even intended as a fatal attack at all) is not a signifier that she would be a danger to children. She may have even had the crime expunged from her record.



I was a day late but I checked out Better Days last night, which I really liked. I donít have anything to add to the conversation that already happened. Itís the kind of movie I love to watch. Super sobering, and just gives you time to think and reflect. I gave it a 3.5. If I was to point to a reason why it probably would be the length. I could feel it losing its power and hold on me a bit. Good movie that Iím really glad was nominated. I hadnít heard of it.
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Just finished Tikkun, and I thought it was alright. It left me very cold and I'm not sure I ever got on the film's emotional wavelength, but it still had a few nice visuals here and there which kept me (occasionally) on board with it. I'm curious to see how the rest of you respond to it though.



SeŮora DelMonte, she go BOOM!
Just checked and sadly like most it doesn't appear to be freely available to me so I'll have to wait for the next nomination.
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terrible, 0/5, not enough puppies.



Just finished Tikkun, and I thought it was alright. It left me very cold and I'm not sure I ever got on the film's emotional wavelength, but it still had a few nice visuals here and there which kept me (occasionally) on board with it. I'm curious to see how the rest of you respond to it though.
I imagine quite a few people might have a similar response. I'm rewatching it right now and really loving the things I loved the first time I watched it two years ago.



Here's what I wrote about it last year:



Tikkun, 2015

A young Orthodox Jewish scholar named Haim-Aaron (Aharon Traitel) is at what looks like the beginning of a crisis of self and a crisis of faith. When he has a near-death experience and is revived by his father (Khalifa Natour), the aftermath pushes him even further into alienation from his faith and his family.

A religious person struggling with temptation--and specifically a younger person struggling with lust and the "temptation of the flesh"--is not new ground. This film distinguishes itself at both extremes of representing the theme. On one hand, bringing an incredibly literal meaning by setting many sequences in the slaughterhouse owned by Haim-Aaron's father; on the other hand, incorporating fantasy sequences that consume not only the main character, but also those around him.

Much like how I felt about Merchant of Four Seasons, this film is a jarring vision of someone who no longer belongs in their own life. Haim-Aaron is the kind of personality driven to extremes---we see him using an incredibly tiny pencil and when he accidentally drops his prayer box, he punishes himself with a strict fast. But what happens when someone drawn to extremes reaches a breaking point? Where does that intensity then find an outlet?

At the intersection of lust and denial, a lot of people turn to anger. And in the very specific case of men who are denied (or who deny themselves) access to sex and intimacy, usually the manifestation is anger or even violence toward women. But in this film, the anxiety Haim-Aaron feels mostly turns inward. When it does turn outward, however, it is very disturbing to see, as he has lost his sense of moral and ethical boundaries.

As someone who is not very religious, it can be kind of painful watching such a narrative unfold. Here is a young person who is so bound up in his beliefs that he must agonize over whether or not to touch his own body for pleasure. And he is so conflicted about how to relate to women and his own desire for sex that he is only comfortable seeking out such intimacy from someone who is not a threat and will not bear witness to his "depravity"--ie someone who is incapable of consent. This is not a specific criticism of Judaism, but rather something that I feel I have seen across different religions. The habit of denying natural urges can lead to an implosion or an explosion.

This is a portrait of a person who has fallen almost entirely out of his own being. Haim-Aaron is alienated from his own body, the bodies of women he finds attractive, his faith, and his family. One of the harshest aspects of the film is when Haim-Aaron's father begins to believe that in reviving his son, he somehow defied the will of God.

In matching the theme of the film, this is a very visceral movie. There are multiple sequences that take place at the father's slaughterhouse, many moments that involve raw meat, and a recurring use of cockroaches. It is a film that is both gorgeous in its black and white image, and disturbing in what it sometimes shows you. I was really shocked to learn that the lead actor was (at the time) a non-professional and that this was his first film. He anchors the film in a strong-yet-subtle way, and the rest of the cast is equally good.




Not my kind of movie.



Tikkun (Avishai Sivan, 2015)

Whatever this movie was trying to say - about religion, death, life, whatever - was lost on me and its snail's pace left me completely disengaged. I spent the full two hours feeling nothing but a vague sense of revulsion at pretty much everything on the screen - with the exception of one particular scene near the end where that feeling of revulsion lost its vagueness and became quite apparent.

I'll give it some credit for the look of the film and some strong performances, but I think in the future I'll be avoiding any suggestions or nominations that deal so much with religion.




Having watched it now a second time. yeah, I still really find it powerful. It's slow and the style of the filmmaking has a degree of being detached that aligns with the way that the main character is alienated from the people and just generally the world around him. I think that the movie deliberately is cold and keeps you at arm's length. In some ways, some of the shots made me think of You Were Never Really Here, where Phoenix would step out of the frame and the camera would linger on the space where he had been.

For me, this is a really powerful portrait of emotional isolation. It's grounded in someone whose lens is religious, but I honestly think that this speaks to the pain of feeling detached from the society around you for any reason. Especially when you're in that place where it seems like everything you do just makes it worse. I still think it's pretty amazing that the main actor was not an experienced actor at all.

I definitely anticipate that a lot of folks will be either neutral or negative on it. Maybe someone will click with it the way I did.

Not my kind of movie.
I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. (And I do appreciate that it's a two hour film, and two hours of not having fun is )



Watched Better Days. It felt realistic and grim, and shows the bullying aspect quite well, as in not exploitative. I didn't like the ending. But overall I enjoyed the movie.


Also, watched Tikkun and I was largely lost. A lot of it was down to me not being aware of any aspects of the Jewish culture, and while I got the larger message about a devout man turning free (or exploring things he wouldn't usually have) I think I missed out on a lot of subtle Jewish references. Even though it's beautifully shot in black and white, and almost has a meditative feel to it, some of things shown made me uncomfortable. And I usually enjoy (yes, it sounds weird but I want my movies to affect me - maybe humour, romance or make me uncomfortable) that when it happens, but here I felt I would have been more affected if I got all the meanings.


Thanks for the recommendation @Wyldesyde19 and @Takoma11