Monday, April 1, 2013

List of Films I Seen in Fall 2012

True Grit (2010)
True Coen affected style. Meh. It’s entertaining, but it’s no revelation. The comfort food of cinema.

The Long Good Friday (1980)
Yes this is like the alternate universe UK version of Cassavetes’ “Killing of a Chinese Bookie”. Seriously. See both. Know what I mean. I know what I mean. Good film. Solid. Fits right in its era.

Sherlcok Holmes (2009)
The one with Morton Downey Jr. Very boring. Guy Ritchie is not a good director.

History of Violence (2005)
Music reminds you of Contempt (1963), no? Sure it does. The film is okay, but it’s not something I would ever watch twice or even tell someone else to watch. It’s just okay. The acting (apart from the main co-leads) is so wooden I am forced to comment. Similar themes already covered more convincingly in Contempt (1963), Straw Dogs (1971) and probably countless other films. This is not a bad movie. Just not nearly as interesting as other Cronenberg films. I noticed a lot of critics raved about this film. They are wrong.

Flame and Citron (2006)
I just love mads mikelson I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. It’s a perfectly suspenseful film. Not sure if anyone needs to go out of his/her way.

Time Crimes
Another? Quirkly seemingly underbudgeted but strangely compelling ?unassuming science fiction movie not made in the United States by the United States or for the United States. I enjoyed it. I won’t watch again. But I’m sure I wanted to see the ending. I have no clue what it was about.

The Big Lebowski (2000)
I enjoyed the film. I admit. Okay. Fine. But it’s not on the level of other cult films,  and people shouldn’t be talking about this or the Coen Brothers as much as they do. Just go see Withnail & I (1987) or Donnie Darko (2001), both of which are better films than this, and get back to me. I’m sure in 2000, this film would have seemed more interesting than it does to me today. The Steve Buscemi effect (also known as The Buscemi Pathos): definition: every film with Steve Buscemi in it takes on of a certain quality or timbre of pathos, which cannot occur without [Steve]. However, because the effect is so powerful, like a black hole, no film with [Steve] can transcend or escape the resulting phenomenon.

Battle Royale (2000)
Seems almost Korean. Worth it just for the occasionally (unintentionally?) hilarious line. “I’ve always hated you. Now die.”

The sequel Battle Royale (2003) I only watched the first half.

Gozu (2003)

Okay so i just saw a film called "Gozu" made in 2003 by a craZy japanese director. Wow. Two things. One. Shades of Juzo Itami's tampopo (1985), which was equally disjointed vignette structure and also effective for it. And two. This is way better than the latest Cronenberg pap. Which i saw. And which I think is pap. I think Cronenberg may have peaked many years ago. Unless I'm just missing something. Gozu is a beautiful film. Ostensibly about Yakuza but it really transcends. Has as much to do with Yakuza as Tampopo did cooking, which is some or maybe a lot actually. Whatever. 

The Man of the Year (2003)
Compelling. Gritty. Good. So are some candy bars. Why do I feel like I’m watching  Scarface (1983)? I cannot be too unreserved with my praise. A lot of chaos in the unfolding. So it’s not actually totally straightforward and is perhaps deceptively impressionistic. It might be interesting to compare this film to Drive (2011). In spite of whatever shortcomings it has or may have, the social commentary seems very genuine. Rather than a top down lecture on law and order in early 21c Brazil, we get more an embedded view from inside. So the picture may be blurry, at times, out of focus, even out of bounds. It all seems quite real, mostly. A less con-fabricated and therefore excusable version of Amores Perros (1996). What I found on the internet is others have compared this to City of God (2002), which I probably should now see. Okay I’ve now seen City of God (2002). What a disaster. Oh dear. No. That isn’t art. That is glitzy docudrama about Brazilian slums, which is probably about as truthful as an Oliver Stone film. The Man of the Year (2003) is a serious artwork. Like it or not. Thank god for comparators. 

Okay I'm not finished. City of God is like some kind of documentary that thinks it's that awful american film "Traffic" which was awful. Film seems put together by a subcontracted Nike ad producer/team and almost entirely devoid of any let alone an singular artistic vision. Changing to sepia for flashbacks? City of God what an annoying film. Made to appeal to video gaming children. City of Gamers?

Okay so back to The Man of the Year (2003). Two minutes of modern research suggests the filmmaker has only made two major films, with some TV work as well. When I first saw WITHNAIL & I (1987), immediately I was bursting to see more films by Bruce Robinson (happily starring Richard Grant). Disappointing then to not see the collaboration ever reach the same heights again. How to Get Ahead In Advertising is not bad, though.

But none of this means you shouldn’t see The Man of the Year (2003). And if you haven’t heard of it, then it’s overlooked. By you. I will not, however, say you need to see it. I won’t go that far. Because I don't know what else is happening in your life. Because I never ask, or maybe you’re just too distant. Anyway, so now we’ve got two good Brazil films! Who knows, maybe more! The Man of the Year (2003). And Senna (2010).

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
What can I say? It’s not as bad as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Or maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I should say it’s not better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? I hope this helps you. Wait. Let me do one better. Don’t see this film. Instead see Hellboy (2004) or Hellboy 2 (2008). Much better. Now we’re good.

The Dark Knight (2008)
Meh. Yes I know. Heath Ledger. Sure. Still meh.

Lady Vengeance (2005)

Chan Wook Park: Old Boy

Korean Peter Greenaway. Probably same thing I said about Old Boy. Lots of color and sensual cinematics. How is it different? More disjointed. More Korean? I found some moments in this film very amusing. Not sure if that’s the correct response. If you like Old Boy then you will like this film. I don’t feel I have anything useful to add, so I’m finished here.

Big Man Japan (2007)
Fucking hilarious. Full stop.

Dororo (2007)
The phrase “crazy whack funky” does not even begin…to describe this film. Do not tell @Carrie I said this. But this film is almost ridiculous. But it’s fun. But if you tell her I will definitely cut off your arm.

The Windmill Movie (2008)
I would really like to know if there was any intimacy between the widow and filmmaker during the making of this film. THAT is what I most want to know. The rest I get. The rest I get. Should you see this film? I have no clue. I saw it.

Man From Nowhere (2010)
Ridiculous adolescent vengeance flick. This is awful even by the standards of its own genre. Wow. I hate myself for watching this film twice.

Man From Nowhere (2010)
Yep. Terrible. Just terrible.

Naked City (Old)

Jules Dassin

Now this film I also saw twice. Again, because I forgot I’d already seen it until well into it. This could be brain rot or maybe this is what happens to people as they age. I don’t know what to do about this problem. Anyway, it’s fine. I mean that I saw this film again. It’s gritty and good, and in black and white. As a time capsule for looking into another world, in point of fact New York City, but it’s not the same New York City of today, so it’s somewhat irrelevant where it is. It’s just The Big City. But for me it doesn’t have the same degree of tension and urgency of Thieves Highway (also Jules Dassin), which I rate higher. It’s better than Law and Order, I can guarantee you that.

Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
Others have probably discussed technical issues with this film’s restoration. We could talk about cinematics in terms of Kurosawa’s career arc, but let’s not. The ending reminded me a little of Once Upon a Time in the West, where you have a duel take place between hero and baddie. Questions like, “Should we have to fight to the death for honor?” anticipate so many other films and quotes from films to follow. “If I’m gonna get my balls blown off for a word, my word is pun tang.” (Full Metal Jacket, 1983) This film has a notably more optimistic view of humanity, redemption as opposed to revenge, than the more hard-boiled reposts which come quickly to mind by the likes of Kubrick, Leone, Takeshi Kitano, and Kurosawa himself, later. [spoiler] After the duel, you could ask, but are no at all surprised, why the hero is so determined to not stay behind with the love interest. [/spoiler] If you are a fan of Kurosawa, I agree with the assertion by the Eclipse people this film is worth seeing.

Cul-de-Sac (1966)

Roman Polanski

Fantastic. Should be seen projected to bring out contrast in black and white film stock. Some of the themes about men and their wives remind me of Contempt (1963) and Straw Dogs (Dustin Hoffman). Polanski is great. I don’t care who he’s slept with. Hell I don't even care who I'VE slept with! Least not at this point.

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

G.W. Pabst

I saw Diary of a Lost Girl for the first time (the old Pabst film?) // wow // very long isn't it? but good. These old German films (silent and otherwise) by these old timers? Are really something else aren't they? and by something else i mean they are literally "something else". i can't even compare them to other films. they are so different in so many ways. the threads connecting them with other more familiar, more recent cinema cover such a span of time, surely. that my ignorance leaves me perplexed. delighted of course. because these are masterpieces, surely. there is such wonder. the cinematics in purely visual terms. and timeline terms. pacing. etc. but also the content. the "other worldly" of 20s german society coming directly through as though it were a time capsule.

These "very old" films. for me. are a good mix of work and pleasure. it really does take effort and concentration to view them. but there is much payoff. i think. both spiritually and intellectually for the undertaking. I need to see all of these old silent films wth. Why have I not done this? My experience sofar with the Germans is they all seem to rely on a great deal of suspense. They are so tight. Like a jack-in-the-box tight. The absence of spoken word is entirely irrelevant insomuch as it takes nothing away. Just different.

12 Monkeys (1995)

Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam films are always too long. But fine. It’s not bad. As far as Bruce Willis Science Fiction goes it’s certainly not as bad as The Fifth Element. Yikes. If that’s your favorite film on your dating website profile then we’re not dating. What 12 Monkeys does do, however, is give us a chance to talk about Lebbeus Woods. Google Terry Gilliam and Lebbeus Woods. Just do it. Good times. Obviously I have nothing important to say about this film. Brad Pitt overacts (Blame Gilliam for letting him? Blame Brad Pitt’s parents? Blame yourself, somehow?) and Bruce Willis is just a terrible great actor who should only be in Hollywood blockbusters. Why is Gilliam so insistent on using big name actors? Heath Ledger in Parnassus (2009)? And so on. Many great directors use big name actors, and this is fine. But the question which is not clearly answered for me is whether Gilliam’s films could be better without these actors? I’m not sure that “just because you can” is a good enough reason, if you’re Gilliam.

Judge Dredd (1995)
As bad as you think. Don’t question my viewing choices.

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