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 osnap - a film log 
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Remember that I did a thing

Recent viewings:

The Day After (09) B+. Gorgeously observational character study reveals a bright future for a Korean cinema of the banal. Superbly acted too

Doggy Poo (03) B. Claymation of a dog turd's existential crisis played straight, quite affecting if sometimes cutesy, overly pious

Série noire (79) A. Immense and intense, brilliant Dewaere perf plunges to the heart of darkness and hits the heights of comedy. Bitter fun

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (13) C+. Emotionally dimwitted, pervy straight man fanfic of what girl-on-girl porn tells him lesbianism is like

Enough Said (13) B+. Beautifully perceptive, witty navigation of emotional minefields. Lose the TV-pic dressing and Holofcener'd be a master

Blue Jasmine (13) C+. Blanchett is compellingly stressed but everything is so perfunctory, hollow. Allen's 1-per-year clause not working

You're Next (11) C+. By turns clever and really, really stupid, perhaps best appreciated as fan service for Home and Away nostalgics

Serial Rapist (78) A-. Mercilessly nihilistic pinku anticipates Clarke's ELEPHANT, achieves a stark and harrowing poetry. Valiantly not-fun

Brother (97) B. Haphazardly edited and more grim than powerful but the grit here is less manufactured than in the likes of LA HAINE.

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:51 pm
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You may be the only person on the forum that I can unequivocally agree with (your Enough Said review) and passionately disagree with (your Blue is the Warmest Color review) in one post.


Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:02 pm
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Tell us what real lesbianism is like.

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"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10


Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:13 am
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certainly not Kechiche's weird fever dream of its sexual component or super straight and leering point of view

also melonjaywalk noted this but can we please stop making sexuality = sex on screen

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:17 am
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leering point of view
yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah


Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:55 pm
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yeah sarcastic or yeah rouj is gonna get some imaginary action tonight yeah

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:15 pm
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nobody but snapper actually knows anything about human sexuality

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no longer on hiatus from movies(!)

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Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:32 pm
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look at the recurring ass-up shots of the girls splayed out on the bed, pointless solo shower shot of Adele from the back near the end, a collection of sex scenes that prioritise audience-friendly aesthetic over actual depiction of real connection or tenderness or interest, the trite and totally perfunctory courtship scenes that play like a catalogue of first-love movie cliches and are basically rushed through as a fast-track to the sex scenes. The entire thing is hollow and totally pointless and emotionally retarded and you haven't even seen the film have you bry

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:12 pm
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no i haven't i just wanted to take the opportunity to criticize you

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no longer on hiatus from movies(!)

next projection | twitter | frames within frames
| letterboxd


Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:27 pm
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you'd hate it anyway they don't even have dicks

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


TWEET1 | TWEET2 | FACE | BOXD | TUMBL1 | TUMBL2


Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:29 pm
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that's just a tragedy

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no longer on hiatus from movies(!)

next projection | twitter | frames within frames
| letterboxd


Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:31 pm
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The Kill-Off (89) C-. Monumentally ugly and unconvincing, saps the malice and bitter interest from Jim Thompson's work.

Short Term 12 (13) B. Strongly performed, visually lovely and only occasionally bathetic in its manipulations. Sensibly knows its limits.

American Hustle (13) C. Entertaining first 45 give way to toneless bloated monotony, players try hard but everyone is fundamentally miscast.

Stranger by the Lake (13) B-. Strong metaphor let down by vacuous expression, stuck in a rut of austere cinema compulsion

North by Northwest (59) A-. Dodges real seriousness at the last second, par for the course, but suspense as compelling as it gets.

Peggy Sue Got Married (86) B. Stupendously pretty but too engaged with crowdpleasing tactics to really resonate. Turner's a weird actress.

Morning Patrol (87) B+. Dystopicaresque gets more and more 80s as it goes on but the rigor of its ruined-city vision is haunting, eerie

Killed the Family and Went to the Movies (69) B+. Small but scorching, secondary narratives scab on top of each others until the original can hardly breathe

The Portrait (48) B. Surface lightness yields to breathtaking emotional setpieces, done with the starry-eyed guilelessness expected of KK

A Drowning Man (01) C+. No-frills, no-thrills approach occasionally works in its favour, but more often than not a wet blanket on enjoyment

The Spectacular Now (13) B+. Ssuccess following dismal SMASHED, lays out the future for its characters while discussing the present. Lovely.

Gloria (13) B. Content with letting its characters just 'be', which is revolutionary for a psych' study. Pacing problems persist though

Happiness (34) B. Inventive but incoherent, showcases fascinating cultural influences in blocking and design but convolutions hurt the fun

Poitín (78) C+. Takes its grimness bit too seriously; feeling more like edutaiment from a Gaelic awareness initiative. Still bold, important

I Know Where I'm Going! (45) B+. Less of a whole than other P&Ps but some beautiful asides, keen-eyed commentary on Brit-Scot relations

Millennium Mambo (01) A-.Lags at points but full of observations tender, angry, resigned, sad encompassing vicissitudes of life in a new era

A Double Life (47) B+. Dense deep-focus comps elaborate on a story given less weight than it needs by script despite Gordon-Kanin wit

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


TWEET1 | TWEET2 | FACE | BOXD | TUMBL1 | TUMBL2


Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:28 pm
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That's a good Cukor. Pretty.

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no longer on hiatus from movies(!)

next projection | twitter | frames within frames
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Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:20 pm
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Could you elaborate on the Kathleen Turner comment?

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"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10


Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:42 am
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I'm ashamed and sorry that it has taken me this long to publish the second part of my 2013 Spectacular! I've had a busy month and a decent case of writer's block, but here we are. 2013 was a strange year in a lot of ways, and the slate of movies I saw was as eclectic and variable as the experiences I had. These are the pick of the litter. Let's start off with my appraisals of the top 10 films I saw for the first time in 2013. Coming in at number 10 is a shining light of the Japanese New Wave, an underseen and underacknowledged masterpiece by Susumu Hani:

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A wrenching study of the way abuse can echo across lives and generations, Hani’s grayscale kaleidoscope prisms the stories of two damaged youths into an indictment of a society that mediates basic human need through limiting, toxic channels. The girl, exploited by pimps and pornographers, is left to waste in love hotels; the boy, raped by his own blood, blurs the world out in his relentless search for understanding until ‘good touch’ becomes indistinguishable from ‘bad touch’. These socially shipwrecked are stuck before walls that even sex can’t break through, forced to abandon their kin for the sake of some feeble idea of intimacy, left voicing their yearning for lost lovers through films they’ll never see. Hani exposes a voiceless population whose opportunities for release are reduced to the frantic scratch of pen on paper, fingernails on purchased skin, desperate loops of thought. Our two leads take refuge from this mob, but their tenderness will be short-lived – it’ll end in a chase, a death, the tumult of a city of shame, a brief explosion of fading light anticipated by an image from the film’s sole colour sequence: the word ‘SAYONARA’ scrawled on a window in English script. In the end, they can’t even say goodbye to themselves.

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A film with charisma if there ever was one, Deep End brims with action – strange and lurid, the kind that leaks out from the covers of pulpy dimestore novels hawked on the same Soho streets where Jane Asher’s swimming pool siren may or may not sell her wares. Scenes change direction, characters change motivation, the camera changes subject as quickly and brutally as reversals in the rush of hormones through the systems of our young leads, hunters and hunteds whose demented game of supply and denial accrues a bitter edge as they discover how effortlessly they can incorporate the laws of soap opera into their own lives. When the gadfly narrative’s tension and farce finally erupt into violence we see how closely sexual urge relates itself to corporeal destruction, how a thrust echoes a stab, how the desperate unburdening of virginity is like a suicidal compulsion. To let one in – to let oneself go – is to shatter a certain kind of mystique, a mystique that Skolimowski suggests we are powerless without. In the end these children, following an elemental drive, sacrifice all – want and will, body and spirit. All they can become now are beautiful pictures.

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It’s a hot summer’s day in the village, and two boys are about to learn their lesson. Charged with drunken violence, they are tasked with writing out the blurry postscript of their night of revelry, re-enacting it for a film crew’s anti-alcohol PSA. Their victim has dropped charges – no matter – and they’re as distracted as jaybirds, especially in this heat. Made in the years following Ceasescu’s rise to power, Pintilie’s affair with comedy of errors yields to something more substantive as his central allegory develops into a rumination on the roots of totalitarian control. A dictatorship takes hold by turning its people against each other, by circumstance if not by intent - lampreying their insecurities and reinforcing a guilty conscience that will keep them in line. And like the director of this film within a film, they will close their eyes to the damage being done: they will shroud their faces in cloth, flank their cavalcades with crowds, drown reality in celluloid – pulling focus to obscure the broken, beaten souls left crumpled in the background.

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Speth’s debut film is a revolution of aesthetic, a phoenix from the ashes of the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century, the most relevant and invigorating of the miscommunication narratives that have become the trademark of the digital age. Its precariat lead characters, a German girl and a Japanese man, do not speak the same language, do not appear to have much in common, share none of the same history or understanding – but they live in a system where a chance midnight meeting can let the world flood into a week, where a touch can send shivers of comprehension through minds and stories until they either short-circuit or ignite. They act out a halting romance on empty streets, the sole survivors of an apocalypse that has sent humanity spinning, shuddering, into the machine. Deprived of language, they speak like luminous deep-sea creatures, lit from within as they dance in the dark. The camera’s sensitivity to urban texture and the poetry of faces dazzles our perception of them until it resembles the dazed spectatorship of dream, freezes our anguish at night’s passing as it is caught, dumbstruck, in the beauty of morning. The boy wakes up next to cooling skin. He plays a song and comes to a realisation - that in this last, fleeting chapter of an epoch of possibility love and loss no longer matter. Only light.

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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a study of echoes. Passions, tensions, insecurities and doubts reverberate around its baroque interiors, hooking on the loose curl of a wig and the exposed catch of a brooch as they ricochet between persona and personality, spanning years and square metres. If this is a chamber drama, ‘chamber’ is the operative word, as Petra’s glamorous apartment becomes a womb, a jail cell, a gallery of damaged portraits, a stadium where intent and desire collide like a demolition derby. Poussin’s Midas and Bacchus, covering the wall of her bedroom, is slowly subsumed by plush carpets and the detritus of kitsch. It is the film in miniature: a tableau chewed away at by the flesh-eating viruses of money and love, revealing a pit whose darkness may obscure a soul, or may be depthless.

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The West does not have a monopoly on colonial narratives – Japan’s rule over the southern Ryūkyū Islands and systematic disenfranchisement of their population tell a story as steeped in the ash of power as any from Africa or the Americas. We are informed at the beginning of Imamura’s epic that the fictional Kurage-jima lags decades behind the mainland in culture and commerce. The islanders take pride in the primitive; wrapping themselves in it like a cloak, it is their only defense from a Yamato monsoon that threatens to extinguish their heritage. In a place so out of time, it makes sense that the stories are old, too, that we’d be asked to view them through a savage eye. The mutation of contemporary narratives into the folkloric casts a spell on us as observers, or intruders – and it did on the film’s director and crew, too, as a standard production ballooned into an 18-month odyssey. We are so bewitched by the sunset and sand, by the mundane incorporation of magic into existence, that we barely notice the earth boiling underneath us, this discourse of power and pity breaking apart in an emotional cataclysm. We’ll be left dazed when its over, haunted by its ghosts, watching its cinders snuff out in the wet of the sea.

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Nighthawks asks for a new understanding of what ‘gay cinema’ is, or what it could be. Produced during the germination of the gay club scene, Peck’s is nevertheless a prophetic vision, a portrait of the times as well as times to come, speaking candidly of that which most gay filmmakers are afraid to address. This is a study of casual sex and critical solitude that understands their application to the most emotionally hegemonised of minorities. Denied a socially permissible outlet for their yearnings, these nocturnes swing from cock to cock like monkeys, searching not for physical release but the brief snatches of postcoital conversation that will allow a human connection to condense for a minute before evaporating into the light of the above-ground. It speaks for this film’s sensitivity to the banal that we can see the future in a slow zoom into our protagonist’s darting eyes as he scans the crowd at a cruising joint, hungry but tired, lightless and suffocated, doomed to endlessly pick at the scab of the cultural lash until the wound goes straight to the bone.

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Twin Peaks is a town with secrets – we know this if we’ve watched the show. The series was a revolution in TV storytelling, hilarious, compelling in its treatment of a space where the mundane and fantastic merge, naïve in a way that warded off true darkness. Lynch’s feature film prequel to the show irked a lot of longtime fans – it’s not funny, true, it’s flippant with its characters. But attacking Fire Walk with Me for a lack of humour is misguided, as it proposes that the show’s comedy is just another layer of the town’s façade, made of the same social lucite that coated the technicolour lawns and swimming pools of Blue Velvet. The film is so singularly about Laura Palmer that intrusions by other characters upon her story are like alien encounters, passerby caught in the frame’s shuddering axis. We’re denied the cute and the comic so we can see what really drives the action of this perverted pastoral – the death rattle of a girl too betrayed by life to go along with it. In stripping away the degrees of separation between us and these ‘secrets’ we’ve heard so much about, Lynch lets us see what they really are – horrifying.

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Recipient of a nearly unanimous critical drubbing upon its release, Showgirls’ disastrous coming out perhaps speaks most persuasively for the holism of Paul Verhoeven’s ironic vision – for this is a monstrous satire of the idea of Hollywood, an indictment of male control, a joke played on the eye itself, merciless in its excoriation of the redemption narrative. The central character of Nomi Malone represents every minority made undercaste in an America that strives for the ideals propagated by its Boulevard spin doctors – she wears lip liner from the barrio, halter tops from the trailer park, nails from the ghetto. Through dance and decoration she creates artworks fated only to be scrubbed like graffiti from a glass ceiling. Like its liminal leading lady, Showgirls exists in the no-spaces between performance and display, aesthetics and advertising, erotica and porn. And like her, it had its expression co-opted by a cultural force unable to accept that its definitions of art were far too limited.

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Here are my 20 favourite scenes from my 2013 selection. I've restricted it to one scene per film, otherwise some (like Showgirls or Nighthawks) would be double-dipping. Without further ado, I'll start with a lovely scene from a shattering film by Maurice Pialat:

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#20 – Mozart, La gueule ouverte (1974, Maurice Pialat – France)

Pialat’s essay on a woman’s long illness is a revolution of the banal, a study in silence and space where the emotional vicissitudes of years of family life are reflected in the tyranny of cheap wallpaper, stale bread and the rings left by beer steins. The stylistic coup de grâce comes in an insistence on exploring the natural duration of action. Moments that would be glossed over in busier (and lesser) films are probed and extended, creating spaces where emotions can be projected, germinate and grow like ivy across the interiors of their characters’ minds. In the best example of this formal conceit, Pialat has the sick mother and her adult son sit at a breakfast table, begin and end a formless conversation before listening to a Mozart opera through to completion. There are no illusions of profundity here, just the clash of her tenderness and his obliviousness, the grim anticipation of the decay inside of her, the frustrations of the mundane and everyday and the cracked drywall that absorbs Drama into the minutiae of character interactions. The sequence (and the film) is so striking because in watching it we realise we are watching the unfilmable being filmed; a master finding a novel beauty in the ugliness of the ordinary.

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#19 – Dinner party, Twilight Portrait (2011, Angelina Nikonova – Russian Federation)

Angelina Nikonova’s scathingly subversive revamp of the rape revenge genre explores the psychology of a rape victim whose assault inspires her to insinuate herself into the life of her attacker. Her observation of his squalid underclass existence doesn’t demotivate her from carrying out a complex war of emotional attrition, but it does require that she begin to engage with her own life and network in a different way. Suddenly aware of the ways in which her own friends, family, partner and career have failed to protect her she cuts them down to size in a blackly comic, grotesquely awkward spectacle of scripting and acting where, taking the floor at her birthday dinner, she cycles through the personal flaws of each of the attendees in turn.

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#18 – New TV, All That Heaven Allows (1955, Douglas Sirk – USA)

A prescient social satire, Sirk’s film created the template for a certain cinematic deconstruction of power structures, one versatile enough to be remade and reimagined several times by directors as diverse as Fassbinder and Haynes. The original stands tall above its descendants, however, thanks to the sensitivity and clarity of its approach to its heroine’s relationships and emotional inner world. As her college-age children attempt to keep her boxed in to a familiar social station, their attempts are mirrored by, and eventually converge with, those of a peripheral character, a television salesman who markets the novel technology as a pacifier for lonely housewives. Driven to sacrifice a budding relationship with a younger, working-class man (whose character conception is bravely unsympathetic in a way that leaves our emotional engagement solely with the woman), she comes home one day to find her kids eagerly awaiting her arrival. They present, with oblivious pride, the gift of a new TV, another unconscious attempt at distracting their mother, neutering her attempts at self-fulfillment. In a single, shattering swoop of the camera we move from a view of our lead, existing in nervous opposition to the chintz nightmare around her, to a close-up of the TV screen, where a reflection of her ruined face is fossilised in the lead glass.

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#17 – Opening, Shadows of a Hot Summer (1977, František Vláčil – Czechoslovakia)

František Vláčil’s story of a wartime farmer held hostage in his own home operates in a relatively safe vein of suspense for the majority of its runtime, although it certainly unfurls with a bang. Shadows’ opening scene is a disquieting montage of sunlit ills, weighing the buzz of birdsong against ominous, non-diegetic whines, creating in just a few minutes a foundation upon which Vláčil can explore the fusions of pastoral fantasy and political menace he’s best known for. With a gunshot, a dog’s bark, the cries of children and the sizzle of the scorching sun, we’re already absorbing an entire narrative of tension before the first page of the plot has even turned.

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#16 – Backstories, Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972, Shunya Itō – Japan)

The glorious sequel to the subversive exploitation classic Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion, Jailhouse 41 continues its predecessor’s shrewdly feminist rearticulation of pinku and violent pinky tropes, balancing spectacles of ero-guro ultraviolence with the kaleidoscopic constructed camp of Nobuo Nakagawa (who must be an influence on Itō’s aesthetic trademark). In this instalment, the notorious #701 goes on the run with a group of murderesses and crooks, waging war against the men that landed them in the clink in the first place. In the film’s most beautiful and unsettling segment, the not-so-merry band are shifted out of the diegesis into a no-space of darkness and quiet, sitting in a row, faces lit by candles. They’re reminiscent of mourners at a traditional funeral, or actors frozen at the cusp of a vaudeville stage. Their stories of crime and punishment are played back to us as if village legends, each woman repackaging her history of exploitation as ‘all men are evil’ cautionary verse. Through it all, we’re cognizant of Meiko Kaji’s #701 staring through the camera, and through us, with resolute, unblinking, silent eyes, daring us to acknowledge the truth of her film’s address – that its ire lies with the pinku audience themselves.

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#15 – Salaryman, Silence Has No Wings (1966, Kazuo Kuroki – Japan)

Kazuo Kuroki’s Silence Has No Wings is an odd beast, a strange mix of tropes borrowed from its New Wave contemporaries that often seems to be affecting Teshigahara or Hani, hitting its marks in a way that is by turns energising and enervating. Where it does succeed – and succeed proudly – is an affecting extended sequence detailing a day and a night in the life of a salaryman (played by a stellar Fumio Watanabe), a ghost given life by the camera’s granting of a face and the script’s granting of a name. We’re lead through a day’s work, an afternoon’s evesdropping on the trivialities of snatched conversations, a dusk’s drinking and a night’s unfulfilling one night stand. We leave our quarry in an abandoned lot where he pauses in his pace through the rut to vomit up the shame of yesterday and the apprehension of tomorrow before getting up and calmly following his breadcrumb trail back to normalcy. It’s as specific an examination of loneliness as anything made by the aforemention New Wavers, but it has real potency as a much broader examination of a disenchantment with the failures of social structures meant to offer emotional support.

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#14 – Clock tower chase, Niagara (1953, Henry Hathaway – USA)

The definitive daytime noir, Niagara bristles with the kind of paranoid energy that one would expect from a Ray or an Aldrich. Yeoman director Henry Hathaway imbues it, however, with a sense of suspended unease, an awareness of the troubled waters beneath the calm surfaces of the good ol’ boy and good-time gal archetypes. In a milestone of cinematic tension Hathaway has an increasingly frantic Marilyn Monroe seeking to escape her vengeful husband (Joseph Cotten, recreating his Shadow of a Doubt sliminess) in the clock tower of Niagara Falls Village, a futile chase ending in one of the most cynical and disquieting images of violence in 50s American studio cinema, anticipating giallo in its staging and films like Bigger Than Life in its matter-of-fact horror. When viewed through the lens of Hathaway’s sly feminist critique of a society where women are refused the right to be the controlling presence in their own lives, the sight of a scarf slowly unravelling through Monroe’s platinum waves takes on another degree of darkness.

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#13 – “Night”, Through the Forest (2005, Jean-Paul Civeyrac – France)

Civeyrac’s 65-minute opus is the story of a young woman trying to recover emotionally from the death of her boyfriend in an accident, a struggle complicated by a meeting with a man who may or may not be the reincarnation of her partner. Told in 10 single-take ‘chapters’, Civeyrac’s rigidly structured mind-meld gradates through various degrees of aesthetic and narrative sobriety before breaking into full-on dreamscape with this most evocative and mysterious example of uninterrupted lateral and lyrical motion. Our heroine wakes up from – or falls deeper into – a nap at the siren of a phone’s ring. Exploring her moonlit apartment, wind battering the windows, she encounters reflections of herself and of her sisters, engaging with them in a silent game of echoes before collapsing onto a floor that has sprouted bracken without us noticing.

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#12 – Records for lonely people, Nanami: The Inferno of First Love (1968, Susumu Hani – Japan)

Susumu Hani’s portrait of social/cultural disconnect speaks with the same syntax as its lead characters, two lonely teenagers telling each other shaggy-dog stories of past and present in a love hotel. Like reciting from its own diary, Nanami spins its narrative from the microscopic images and impressions that make up ‘incident’, deferring endlessly until what seems at first like ‘plot’ doubles back and bites itself in the tail. One of its many narrative interruptions is a discomfitingly revealing look at a society out of touch with itself, an almost documentary depiction of a woman selling ‘records for lonely people’, stocked with pre-recorded responses to basic conversational topics. These answers form an aching pulse on the soundtrack as the camera explores with its own inner logic, picking up crowded cafés, empty stations, impotent acts of assertion – one man writes ‘my boss is an idiot’ on a paper bag before blowing it up and popping it. “Now I feel better”, he says. We’ve absorbed his pain for him.

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#11 – Crêpes, The Story of Paul (1975, René Féret – France)

René Féret’s fascinating debut is a chaotic blend of visual and sonic textures that attempts to impress upon its audience a wholly sensory understanding of the narrative – that of a young man committed to a mental hospital for a suicide attempt, the motivations for which are never revealed. His dotty mother visits him often in an attempt to break him out of a hunger strike. It’s a futile effort until a cathartic final-act scene, where the titular Paul takes his first bite in days, cramming his mouth with his mother’s crêpes, barely taking time to chew as he wolfs them down, tears streaming down his face.

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#10 – The swamp, A Flower in Hell (1958, Shin Sang-ok – South Korea)

In this vanguard, noir-influenced Korean thriller, a pair of brothers find themselves fatally double-crossed by a socially climbing schemer after being conned into committing a dangerous robbery at an American military base on the outskirts of a Seoul red light district. The brothers, one critically wounded, are tailed by their siren to a hazy marsh. Having realised his bride’s deception, the elder brother – bleeding heavily from a gunshot wound – engages her in a slow, trudging pursuit through the mire. The inevitability of deadly violence is deferred seemingly endlessly as the slick of mud, sweat and emotional poison trap their feet and delay the kiss of steel on skin.

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#9 – “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”, Spring Breakers (2012, Harmony Korine – USA)

Korine’s postmodern dystopia, a slasher film where the will-o-wisps of a Reality TV reality are mown down like teens in a sorority house, contains a few scenes destined to become classics – James Franco playing a piano version of Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime’ while surrounded by balaclavaed bikini babes sporting assault rifles – but the one that sticks with me the most is its beguiling opening, a perfect bluebrint for its day-glo examinations of aesthetic and emptiness. A pounding Skrillex score punctuates the slow-motion deconstruction of a Spring Break beach scene, a visual assault of beer, breasts and lycra abstracted until the subjects barely appear people. We become spectators of a human zoo, scientists watching the virus of pop culture replicate under a microscope – vapid depictions of ‘fun’ are rearticulated as fever dreams.

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#8 – “We’re not in high school anymore!”, Baby It’s You (1983, John Sayles – USA)

A film of effortless nostalgia and acute political insight, unusually evocative for its genre, Baby It’s You outlines the ups and downs of an unlikely courtship through high school and into college. Drama-school JAP Jill and Sheik, the prototypical guido, are an odd pair for 60s Jersey. Aware of this, Jill is torn between genuine affection and a kind of strange pity that informs her meetings with him after high school graduation. As their paths diverge further some time into Jill’s college degree, Sheik visits his old flame in an act of desperate yearning. Sheik trashes her bedroom, they confront each other in a blaze of emotional violence and Jill, out of honesty or class martyrdom it is never quite clear, rejects him with words that are hard enough for Sheik to hear, but perhaps harder for the audience to listen to.

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#7 – Cardboard Susan, Deep End (1972, Jerzy Skolimowski – UK)

Deep End’s hilariously attention-deficit centrepiece comes as its eternally horny protagonist Mike sets off on a midnight stakeout to track the movements of his mysterious co-worker Susan, who may or may not moonlight as a prostitute called Angelica. He casts himself as the big shot detective in this game of no consequence, a silly endeavour driven by jealousy and hormones whose particulars ultimately begin to resemble daydream. He paces the same Soho alleyway for what seems like hours, eating endless amounts of cheap street stand hot dogs before catching a glimpse of a cardboard cutout that looks identical to the object of his obsession. Setting upon it like a magpie on foil, he’s led on a frantic chase around the block, hiding out from the whorehouse bouncers in the smoky chambers of a wistful, broken-legged prostitute, escaping into the procession of a band of midnight proselytisers and finally, catching a glimpse of Susan, pursuing her onto a crowded subway car, cardboard likeness in tow, only to wither in the fugue of her pity and contempt.

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#6 – Revenge, Showgirls (1995, Paul Verhoeven – USA)

There is a point in Showgirls where the façade of Vegas glitz seems to be rudely yanked away, the Vaseline wiped off the camera and the Swarovski shine scraped from the matte. Our ‘protagonist’ Nomi celebrates her ill-gotten promotion to revue star at a gala thrown in her honour while, in a back room, her best friend is brutally raped by a famous musician. The cross-cutting is ruthlessly cynical, the staging realistic and shattering. This moment throws the film into a new relief. From this point onwards, Nomi plans to avenge her now-catatonic friend, playing escort for the musician at his hotel. We see her beforehand building her look in the mirror: painting her fingernails a sinister black and gold before brandishing them, like a gang sign, at her reflection. She strides into the rapist’s suite in a leopard-print dress, high ponytail and thigh-highes, playing the part of the high-end escort before ripping off her top to reveal breasts adorned with crimson circles of lipstick, a ‘don’t tread on me’ warning colouration as ominous as that of any poisonous creature. She proceeds to beat the man senseless, a moment of violence that we are conditioned to package as righteous or ‘redemptive’ – but in a satire whose object of parody is the redemption narrative itself, we aren’t let off the hook that easily. Nomi’s triumph over her friend’s attacker is made grotesquely hollow by the previous-scene reveal of her past as a violent, drug-addicted itinerant. We know we’re meant to cheer, but Verhoeven cues us to look at this behaviour critically. How many times has she done this before, for far less worthy reasons?

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#5 – Science lab assault, Typhoon Club (1985, Shinji Sōmai – Japan)

The filmography of Shinji Sōmai, virtually unseen in the West, was something of a project for me in 2013. There’s a magpie-like attention deficit in his work, an attraction to shine and flash at the expense of honest emotion and analysis. In his best moments, character psychology and the aggressive exuberance of camera and tone speak in unison. The results are elemental and can, at their peak, bypass cinema to a place of shuddering physicality. It is a shame that he was taken too soon to make the most of this ability (and that he didn’t exploit it as he should have while he was alive), but along with the climax of his opus Moving one passage from the beguilingly abstract teen film Typhoon Club comes to mind. A gallery of stories from the lives of students trapped in a school after-hours by freak weather, one in particular elevates the film to a new level of interest. An odd, withdrawn student, at first presented as a somewhat comical, pervy loner, attempts to actualise his attraction to a female classmate through stalking and assault. Pursuing her through hallways and into an abandoned science lab, he kicks his way through a door, dodges her attempts to subdue him, pressing on with robotic inevitability. For the duration of this terrifying extended setpiece he eschews personality entirely, becoming the embodiment of narrative primacy that inspires a million killers in a million slasher movies. Here, however, the horror is direct, sustained and real, a fake out - in part because it grows, like a weed, out of an emotional milieu that has lulled us into a less engaged mode of spectatorship.

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#4 – Dongama-matsuri, Profound Desires of the Gods (1968, Shōhei Imamura – Japan)

In a film full of fiercely cinematic moments, the most visceral – and cathartic – passage of Imamura’s slow-burn expression of postcolonial anguish comes at the climax. Endlessly discussed by the picture’s characters, the coming-of-age festival of Dongama becomes, for the audience, the mysterious keystone of the island’s self-image, a peak of cultural exclusivity that defines them separate from the mainland. So when it is revealed – rows of young men being beaten by the elder villagers, standing over them like occupying soldiers – the contradictions of identity and politics jar the film out of hibernation and into berserker mode. Genres are resurrected and recycled in a setpiece of unprecedented brutality and terror, where the beauty of the sea’s gold and blue tones meets its complement in the bitter sting of red.

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#3 – “The thread will be torn!”, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992, David Lynch – USA)

Fire Walk with Me, in replacing procedural with character study, achieves a keener grasp of trauma’s effects on the individual and the community than the series ever did (much as I love it). The intrusion of the supernatural and the oneiric upon a plasticine Americana becomes shorthand for the lies and stories Laura Palmer tells herself as distraction from her own incestuous abuse. In a small masterpiece of sustained hysteria, Laura and her father find themselves trapped in their convertible between a logging truck and another car as MIKE, himself a force acting upon Leland’s slide into depravity, shouts a furious, threatening warning. Frantic, compulsive cross-cutting and a storm of exhaust noise, car horns and screams distill all the unimaginable terror of Laura’s last days into one minute of chaos.

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#2 – Night driving, Nighthawks (1978, Ron Peck – UK)

Nighthawks doesn’t exactly keep its cards close to its chest – it’s as blistering an exposé of a way of life as any – but its characters are unusually reticent. We learn soon into the film’s pattern of repetitions that Jim, our lead, is not especially honest about his life and relationships – not out of any particular urge to deceive, but rather out of insecurity, fear, shame. It’s a vivid contrast to the candour of his ‘outness’ (exemplified in a stellar later scene where he frankly answers the questions of a class of belligerent students) but a necessary reflection of his refusal to look at his own disenfranchisement critically. In a long night drive with a female friend and fellow teacher, he opens up, halfway, about his relationships and his past. Earlier statements are reneged upon, a history is rewritten and these casually-spoken truths and lies, little personal revolutions, are swallowed up by the starless murk of a Stygian autobahn.

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#1 – “No more wire hangers!”, Mommie Dearest (1981, Frank Perry – USA)

Watching films like this and the aforementioned Showgirls has helped me realse that the term ‘camp’ might be euphemistic, a way of dismissing art that second-guesses American pop culture’s obsession with itself. Mommie Dearest is a remarkable feat of self-reflection, a penance on the part of Hollywood – it holds a broken mirror up to the already twisted face of celebrity, examining with cruel irreverence the toxic chemical reactions that take place when fame and the mundane collide. The centrepiece of the story, a miniature emotional apocalypse, comes as an insomniac, demented Crawford discovers a wire hanger in her young daughter’s closet. The resulting outburst, a desperate attempt to shake off the ties that bind, is a splash of acid straight to the face of the audience and an exercise in brutally sustained terror. In the aftermath the girl slumps on her wasted bathroom floor, crying, disheveled, wailing “oh God”, a bizarrely precocious response that seems appropriate to a child whose only role model is a cinaesthetised picture of adulthood. It’s the death rattle of an innocent caught in the hyperbolic crossfire of film and photography.

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And here are my 10 favourite characters! The first, the unlikely protagonist of a nostalgic romance by John Sayles:

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#10
- “Albert ‘Sheik’ Capadilupo”, played by Vincent Spano (Baby It’s You, John Sayles – 1983, USA)

There’s a slight disconnect between the leads in Baby It’s You. Rosanna Arquette plays some of her scenes like she’s in a Teen Movie. She has an aesthetic and narrative safety net, and it isn’t too distracting. But Spano’s ‘Sheik’ is a creation so close to Sayles’ shrewd exposé of class dynamics that the two might as well be sewn together – despite his Sinatra-worshipping, pressed-suits-and-fast-cars teenage guido being the type of character one would be likely to see in a more quotidian 80s offspring of the American Graffiti panspermia. He’s all bluster with very little to back it up, the kind of guy who’ll wear his Sunday Best on the first day of school – and then wear it every day for the rest of the semester. He hopes his drive to be liked, to entertain some vague idea of success, will make him upwardly mobile. But life (and love) don’t work that way. His arrested development is distressing to bear witness to because we know how hard he works to break free of it. Making a living lip-synching to big band anthems at a buffet, he soon realises his skills are not wanted, or needed, or relevant. He rushes to his erstwhile sweetheart’s college dorm only to find that she is capable of existing without him. Enraged, he trashes her room, pleads with her for a reconciliation, lets his machismo be torn apart by her dismissals. But here it is as if spending this energy has unclouded his eyes, and he sits, calm in a sea of emotional waste, accepting and resigned to the fact that a soulmate doesn’t carry a lifelong guarantee. In his fakery, his frustrations and the fragility beneath them all we find a portrait of urge, confusion and agonising love and yearning. His is the truest arc, and his the most honest emotion, in this sweet, sad and soulful film.

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#9 – “Norman Long”, played by Dan Byrd (Norman, Jonathan Segal – 2010, USA)

Norman is a liar – the central premise of the film is his impulsive claiming of his father’s cancer diagnosis as his own. This much is true. But why does he lie? Where does it come from? He’s been the Sad Teen for so long, whip-smart, a wordsmith that could have just as easily become a serial killer or a suicide. He’s not quite outcast, but more of a pithy observer. He works hard for a family that cannot physically offer him anything in return, so he hurts himself in tribute to the desperate need to feel cared about, to feel his body heal itself, stitching his skin up like a mother would caress a chid. There is a tendency of the script to reduce him to a wiseguy, or the straight man in a story with no comic foil – but Byrd’s miracle performance plumbs for complexity where there may have been little, showing how unfulfilling his ruse is, how little his newfound attention matters, how abstract his coming-of-age becomes to him. When he yields to the demands of reality it’s both a relief and a shock, but in Byrd’s hands this is less of a means of cauterising a narrative loose end and more of an exploration of the ambiguous and fickle nature of growth and ethics. Because what is the moral of this story, really? Don’t lie? Through the symbiosis of character and performance it takes on a million shades of gray.

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#8 – “Kihachi”, played by Takeshi Sakamoto (Passing Fancy, Yasujirō Ozu – 1933, Japan & An Inn in Tokyo, Yasujirō Ozu – 1935, Japan)

One of Ozu’s not-quite-recurring characters, à la the many incarnations of Noriko played by Setsuko Hara across his later career, Takeshi Sakamoto’s Kihachi is largely a comic creation, but as with any joke in Ozu’s films the ring of laughter contains the dissonance of tragedy and the potential for political discourse. Kihachi at first appears to be very much the loveable rogue – an itinerant labourer with a young son (two in An Inn in Tokyo), penniless but lazy, lecherous and not quite above indulging in the morals of the street. But the strength of these films is in the limits Ozu sets for the character, obstacles that force him out of ‘type’ and into a more richly metaphorical narrative life – Kihachi becomes symbolic of a working-class Japan, stuck both geographically and socially in shitamachi and serfdoms, disenfranchised by a farsighted Empire. He has no class consciousness, but he carries within him the seed of change – as shown when, cornered by circumstance, he finds strength and principle he’d have never expected to have. His overwrought swagger, his childishness and his crude humour ultimately exist in relation to that which requires that he better himself for the good of others. While Passing Fancy ends in an atavistic return to the hostile familiar, An Inn in Tokyo showcases a breaking-through. We’ve watched this manchild become a man in this moment – and though the moment is gutwrenching, it carries the rare gleam of an optimism so frugally employed by the master across the decades. Kihachi has made good.
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#7
– “Susan”, played by Jane Asher (Deep End, Jerzy Skolimowski – 1970, UK)

A riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a mac, Susan is at first presented as an ordinary girl – pretty, clever, aware of her sex appeal but pragmatic and defiantly working-class. She immediately piques the romantic interest of her new co-worker Mike, a fey, awkward youth, good-looking but cloistered and frustrated. Finding some power in this relationship, leverage missing from those she shares with her fiancé and her lover, she begins to manipulate him towards mysterious ends, the game being the goal of itself. It sounds simple enough, but here first impressions do not tell the whole story, and we soon realise that Jane may not be an ordinary girl after all – she may be many girls, many different fantasies for many different men, many different devised selves that she can use to exert control over different aspects of her (different) live(s). We expect resolution from this story, we want the roulette of story to settle on one of these masks, but both Skolimowski and Asher know that to undercut ambiguity is to destroy mystery and to neuter character. She exits the narrative wearing a different kind of shroud, motivations and psychology still obscure, the audience left loose and low, strung out like a ball of yarn unravelled by her quick, anxious paws. We’ve been toys the whole time – and even in death she leaves us hanging on, with a smirk, a ‘that’s all, folks!’ as she fades into aesthetic memory.
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#6
– “Charlie”, played by Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky – 2012, USA)

Charlie is who we wish we could have been in high school, someone with such sensitivity that even the douche moves can be instantly forgiven, the awkwardness dismissed and the halting, fragile attempts at romance endeared to. Logan Lerman brings a revelatory realism to the role that stands at odds with the more carefully constructed anachronisms of place, persona and tension elsewhere in the film, and he elevates it above what it could have been. In his hands, it makes sense that a boy like Charlie would equate looking smart with fitting in, that he would be attracted to the friends he is, that he would help them live as he is helped to live by them. The embarrassing is not smoothed over, nor is the traumatic – and it is truly scary to learn the secret he’s kept, hidden, like the threadbare lining of a tailored blazer. He’s the fullest picture of a ‘self’ the teen movie has seen in years, someone we want to be OK. He deserves to be OK, whether he thinks it or not.

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#5 – “Laura Palmer”, played by Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, David Lynch – 1992, USA)

The memory of Laura Palmer haunted the Twin Peaks of the show to such an extent that watching Fire Walk with Me is like taking part in a séance, opening a portal through which the sheer force of Lee’s performance and Lynch’s conception swoops like a banshee. She is someone we have heard a lot about but of whom we have seen nothing – a psychology that must be disentangled from the folkloric reputation that precedes it. We’ve held this second-hand horror but we haven’t really felt it, which is why when Laura bursts onto the screen like a shotgun blast, personality disintegrating and scattering before our eyes, the effect is immediately and viscerally frightening. Laura is a wounded animal from the moment we see her, but there is enough light in her eyes, enough history on her face that she escapes monochrome, becomes someone for us to root for even as she makes awful, self-destructive decisions, diving deeper into the quicksand of her home life. Scratching through the gloss of the yearbook photo that had, up to this point, been our only window into Laura’s past exposes what Twin Peaks is, and was, really about: victimhood, abuse, betrayal, the creeping shadows that can drown and destroy a family. And, most disturbingly, it shows the depth of the ruination they had inflicted upon Laura. In her final-scene apotheosis we are forced to confront a cutting truth, the most bitter of all pills to swallow – that Laura Palmer had been dead for a lot longer than we’d realised.

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#4 – “Nomi Malone & Cristal Connors”, played by Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon (Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven – 1995, USA)

There’s a marvelous push and pull in Showgirls between character and archetype, with its two leading ladies often shifting rapidly between them, and between different variations of them, within the same scene. Verhoeven’s masterpiece is a perversion of the typical redemption narrative, an XXX All About Eve where the greatest irony of all is the application of these phoenix-from-the-moral-ashes tropes to the sleaziest, most immodest of all geographic and occupational environments. Nomi is a ‘fallen woman’ desperate for a leg up, a creative being whose attempts at expression are co-opted; reinterpreted as display. Cristal is the gargoyle flanking the gates of Vegas’ feudal system, one of the boys who has succeeded in a class system that now allows her to be both Madonna and Whore at once without requesting her dignity as tribute. Their identity politics play out to the tattoo of acrylic nails on the surface of a vanity, Gershon’s charisma providing the wattage that kindles the Goddess’ lightshows, Berkley’s stilted line readings seeming more and more like the careful, euphemistic choreographies of a kabuki play as time wears on. Through the gauze of heat and light their lives become less than real and more like puppet theatre, interactions seem touched by the delirium of kinky sex. They spin themselves in and out of exaggeration, playing with the boundaries of character and connotation so that when true humanity actually shines through in their final scene together, the tenderness is striking enough to hit the gut.

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#3 – “Joan Crawford”, played by Faye Dunaway (Mommie Dearest, Frank Perry – 1981, USA)

Celebrity is a job you can’t clock out of. The most intriguing aspect of Mommie Dearest’s meta-camp cross-examinations is its exploration of the pressures weighed by fame upon its afflicted, specifically the obligation, when life’s most mundane moments are dissected and analysed by figures in the dark, to turn the self into a character; an endless warmup for a film that will reach terminus only at its star’s death. Joan Crawford was a parasitic twin trapped in the flesh of Hollywood – born Lucille LeSueur, her name was decided by a mail-in contest for a movie magazine. This inextricability from the mechanisms of the movie machine informed her entire career: the frozen Mona Lisa smile shadowed under anxious, rueful eyes, the forever-arched eyebrow, the autophagic scenery-chewing, the contracts that trapped her just like the camera did, the widey publicised stories of a family life treated like the everlasting climax of a seedy second feature. The excoriating reach of Perry’s script into the bottomless pit of a reality superseded by public expectation is what gives the film its raging, disturbing tension – because what we see in this extended aria from the opera of Crawford’s life is the confused, anguished struggle of a Star trying to remember what it is like to be human.

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#2 – “Maria Coughlin”, played by Adrienne Shelly (Trust, Hal Hartley – 1990, USA)

At one point, Maria writes in her diary “I am ashamed of being young. I am ashamed of being stupid.” She needn’t be. She might not have the book smarts of her idol and possibly-maybe-boyfriend, the nihilistic Matthew, or of her narrative ancestor, The Unbelievable Truth’s Audry, but she knows how to survive in a community intent on scrubbing the messiness of youth away like soup stains on linoleum. She enters the film very much seventeen years old, big-haired, rouged, petulant Long Islandisms dripping like acid from her mouth. A possible murderess, she leaves home, only to return days later, this time like an alien returning to the pyramids it helped construct epochs ago. The key to Trust’s development of story and emotion lies within the crossfire of its ironic humour and the stark, embarrassing sincerity of the things its characters say and do, especially about and to themselves. Hartley gives his characters the tools they need to recharacterise themselves, building on and replacing narrative foundations we thought existed but which may never have been there at all. The examination of flux in story, in relationships and in personality is personified by Adrienne Shelly’s Maria, a girl who grows up before our eyes. When we last see her she has come of age, a young woman touched by love and taught by trust, fragile yet strong like a cobweb, harmonising living for others with being her own. It is through Hartley’s wry, sympathetic scripting of the character and the late, great Shelly’s purity of performance that this coming-of-age never seems schematic or trite. Rather, it is like experiencing our own again – once more, with feeling.

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#1 – “Henry Fool”, played by Thomas Jay Ryan (Henry Fool, Hal Hartley – 1997, USA)

Hartley’s densest and most challenging film, Henry Fool, gains its thematic weight from an exploration of talent and its limits, ambition and its snares, personae and the cracks within them. The eponymous Henry is a monstrous cad, a womaniser, a lush, a tremendous liar – or perhaps an adjuster of small truths. He’s talented, perhaps not literarily, but at being, at persuasion, at writing himself into larger-than-life existence. His construction of self, contained within his behemoth ‘confession’, a collection of writing, is pap, but the force of his presence shakes other characters into new modes of interaction with themselves. He incites a suicide, a pregnancy, a cosmic rise to the atmosphere of success, but can only view his doings and dealings from a cheap seat in the gutter. So mythical is his self-illustration that it’s a slap in the face to the audience when he fails, when he abandons his family, when he’s revealed as a sham and, worse, a predatory ephebophile. But there’s kinks in every web, fissures in every family, rust on the surface of every relationship. These are tiny crevices in the pavement of life’s narrative that his influence smoothes over, frictionless, like a beam, illuminating the reality of his fellow characters and of his audience. The final shot is Henry running for a plane, a gift of gratitude from his protégé – fleeing from consequence, glowing under the lashes of that so Hartley a score, disapparating in a haze of personality. We’re glad he came to town, this maverick, this monster, and we’re sad to see him go.

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And I'll just leave this here with minimum comment - my 10 favourite endings from my 2013 selection. I've described each with one keyword that I feel describes the essence of the scene:

#10 MARSEILLE (2004, Angela Schanelec – Germany)
disappearance
#9 EVANGELION: 3.0 YOU CAN (NOT) REDO (2012, Hideaki Anno, Mahiro Maeda, Masayuki & Kazuya Tsurumaki – Japan)
regression
#8 THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974, Tobe Hooper – USA)
escape
#7 CURE (1997, Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Japan)
complicity
#6 THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT (1972, Rainer Werner Fassbinder – West Germany)
assertion
#5 THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942, Preston Sturges – USA)
convenience
#4 THE DAYS BETWEEN (2001, Maria Speth – Germany)
gratitude
#3 THE ARMY (1944, Keisuke Kinoshita – Japan)
loss
#2 THE LIVING END (1992, Gregg Araki – USA)
moorlessness
#1 RECONSTRUCTION (1968, Lucian Pintilie – Romania)
ruin

And that's it! I'm already hard at work on my 2014 viewings. Fingers crossed for an even more fruitful year of watching and making and writing! Thank you for your continued attention!

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:23 pm
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Post Re: osnap - a film log

Nice words, man. (Maybe I'll say more later...lol.)


Mon Feb 03, 2014 1:45 pm
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Thank you!!!

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:14 pm
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elixir is this you? http://cinelixir.wordpress.com/top-10s-by-year/

i didn't know you liked kyary pamyu pamyu

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:54 pm
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yeah, that's me.

i only got into her recently.


Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:20 pm
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I see you don't like Kore-eda

or that you don't watch him idk

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:32 pm
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Never seen a film of his.


Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:34 pm
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tl;dr

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no longer on hiatus from movies(!)

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:39 pm
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B-Side wrote:
tl;dr


read it, i gave you nudes

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:49 pm
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did you really

did you at least share with the rest of the class?!

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:56 pm
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i will barter them for KG ratio

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:03 pm
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i browsed, isn't that enough

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:35 pm
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i browsed your mother last night

saw nothing of note

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:49 pm
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:O

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:42 pm
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snapper wrote:
disapparating
:-/

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Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:09 am
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snapper wrote:
Image
#10
- “Albert ‘Sheik’ Capadilupo”, played by Vincent Spano (Baby It’s You, John Sayles – 1983, USA)

There’s a slight disconnect between the leads in Baby It’s You. Rosanna Arquette plays some of her scenes like she’s in a Teen Movie. She has an aesthetic and narrative safety net, and it isn’t too distracting. But Spano’s ‘Sheik’ is a creation so close to Sayles’ shrewd exposé of class dynamics that the two might as well be sewn together – despite his Sinatra-worshipping, pressed-suits-and-fast-cars teenage guido being the type of character one would be likely to see in a more quotidian 80s offspring of the American Graffiti panspermia. He’s all bluster with very little to back it up, the kind of guy who’ll wear his Sunday Best on the first day of school – and then wear it every day for the rest of the semester. He hopes his drive to be liked, to entertain some vague idea of success, will make him upwardly mobile. But life (and love) don’t work that way. His arrested development is distressing to bear witness to because we know how hard he works to break free of it. Making a living lip-synching to big band anthems at a buffet, he soon realises his skills are not wanted, or needed, or relevant. He rushes to his erstwhile sweetheart’s college dorm only to find that she is capable of existing without him. Enraged, he trashes her room, pleads with her for a reconciliation, lets his machismo be torn apart by her dismissals. But here it is as if spending this energy has unclouded his eyes, and he sits, calm in a sea of emotional waste, accepting and resigned to the fact that a soulmate doesn’t carry a lifelong guarantee. In his fakery, his frustrations and the fragility beneath them all we find a portrait of urge, confusion and agonising love and yearning. His is the truest arc, and his the most honest emotion, in this sweet, sad and soulful film.

Image
#1 – “Henry Fool”, played by Thomas Jay Ryan (Henry Fool, Hal Hartley – 1997, USA)

Hartley’s densest and most challenging film, Henry Fool, gains its thematic weight from an exploration of talent and its limits, ambition and its snares, personae and the cracks within them. The eponymous Henry is a monstrous cad, a womaniser, a lush, a tremendous liar – or perhaps an adjuster of small truths. He’s talented, perhaps not literarily, but at being, at persuasion, at writing himself into larger-than-life existence. His construction of self, contained within his behemoth ‘confession’, a collection of writing, is pap, but the force of his presence shakes other characters into new modes of interaction with themselves. He incites a suicide, a pregnancy, a cosmic rise to the atmosphere of success, but can only view his doings and dealings from a cheap seat in the gutter. So mythical is his self-illustration that it’s a slap in the face to the audience when he fails, when he abandons his family, when he’s revealed as a sham and, worse, a predatory ephebophile. But there’s kinks in every web, fissures in every family, rust on the surface of every relationship. These are tiny crevices in the pavement of life’s narrative that his influence smoothes over, frictionless, like a beam, illuminating the reality of his fellow characters and of his audience. The final shot is Henry running for a plane, a gift of gratitude from his protégé – fleeing from consequence, glowing under the lashes of that so Hartley a score, disapparating in a haze of personality. We’re glad he came to town, this maverick, this monster, and we’re sad to see him go.
Oh, yes! Two of my favorites characters of all time. Nice thoughts, too.

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Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:09 am
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I feel like I need to re-watch Henry Fool. Nice words.
You also make a good, rarely seen argument for Lerman rather than Miller being the highlight of Perks. I feel like it's a bit shit at capturing what high school is like, but a lot of good high school movies seem to do that, so that's OK, really. The suggestion that fucked-up-ness is so often a result of molestation is a bit problematic, though, very Bergman-esque in its insistence on traumatic events in the past determining the characters' mental states.
I love that scene in the Sirk but my favourite scene from his movies is the jazz dancing in Written on the Wind, I think.


Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:16 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
:-/


it has entered the lexicon

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Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:49 am
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I'm leaving this here so I can fill it up with responses when I get the time to read this in full.

Some nice selections just from skimming though, productive year you had.


Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:39 am
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Trip wrote:
186 Paisà (1946, Rossellini) D

:(


waitaminute why do you like this movie

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Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:02 pm
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Shadows in Paradise (86) A+. I've liked Kaurismäki before, but I think I finally *get* him. A small, perfect thing.

Quick Billy (71) A-. Spectral abstractions take American avant-garde to more sensual and tender places than I've ever seen it go. Bravo!

Letter Never Sent (59) A+. Human drama invigorating, directorial setpieces stunning "how-did-they?"s. A usurper to CRANES' throne

Ladies in Retirement (41) B+. Superbly acted, incredibly entertaining gothic slow burn adroitly balances mordant humour and grim suspense

Wife (53) B-. Filler fare for the most part, but third act has some quintessential Naruse personality politics, strongly touching ending

Detective Story (29) A-. Fractured exploration of genre scratches at formalist itch til the celluloid scabs over, eye-popping and daring

Safe (95) A+. Sociocultural malaise filtered through tableaux of one woman's physical and psychic erosion. Melodrama demelodramatised

Ariel (88) A-. Kaurismäki uses formula to explore the cyclicality of ruin and renewal in a society of hostility and cruel economics

I Even Met Happy Gypsies (67) B. Expresses a marginalised voice with warmth & kinesis, but could benefit from a bit more narrative coherence

Boat People (82) B. If this were a Pokémon, it'd be normal-type, but its narrative density and power can't be denied. Often quite harrowing

The Blair Witch Project (99) B+. First & best of a dire movement, tense, hokey, even stirring, with a keen fascination for digital artifacts

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Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
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* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
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Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:55 am
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Our Very Own (50) C. Pleasant melodrama chugs along unsurprisingly, but showcases a strong and subtle performance by Ann Blyth

A Private Function (84) B-. Wartime rations comedy needs a tighter focus and less glib plotting, but Dame Maggie is hilarious here

We Won’t Grow Old Together (72) B+. Interaction of actors + time less uniform than in other works but stirring, discomfiting

The Worthless (82) C+. Aki’s humour doesn’t line up with Mika’s formality – deadpan repartée lost, but mood and colour have their own charms

Twenty-Four Eyes (54) C+. Kinoshita’s most famous is his most maudlin, least visual: with the camera-eye blinded his naïveté is cloying

Alien (79) B. Claustrophobia only intermittedly inspires tension, and what’s underneath? Gruesome rape analogies and bullheaded formal sense

Lord Love a Duck (66) B. Vibrant actors and gags cry out for colour, but prods sociopolitical bugaboos with wry cynicism and game players

The Ballroom of Romance (82) B+. Compact, poetic and evocative, limns that which works best in the short story medium

Sincerity (39) C+. Naruse tries to navigate knots of imperial censorship but the result works better as tone poem than political subversion

Sunday (97) C+. He-said-she-said story has interesting textures but actors and assembly are charmless and off-putting. A disappointment

The Passenger (75) B. Gone is the dense symbolism of MA’s 60s - long shots and silences, though rigorous, are like draughts in an empty room

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (70) B+. Batty but beautiful, recursive rhythms reflecting each other like diamonds set in a tarnished crown

Borgman (13) B+. Hills of crackling suspense meet valleys, but this is a riveting new spin on Euro austerity with a terrif femme lead

Shopping for Fangs (97) A-. Fourth cinema prototype of the hyperlink film showcases voices and talents denied real expression in Tinseltown

Limite (31) B. Ideas are novel, openness of narrative and vision often hit hard, but its image of alienation never got under my skin

Documenteur (81) B. A bit too shaggy for a 60-min essay, but more often than not its dissections of words and wandering cast a strong relief

Arrebato (80) A. Redefines object-subject relationship of filmmaker and film, unnerves via suggestion of horror tropes, not implementation

Children Who Draw (55) A-. Absurdly, unexplainably emotional, showcases a poetry of unaffected faces more effective than the greatest acting

The Night It Rained (67) B. Startling, stuttering rhythms buoy narrative through satirical vagaries but never quite illuminate its subjects

The Narrow Margin (52) B-. Lots of potential in its train-set premise, but flat visuals null dynamism & stymie tension, bad acting helps not

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The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
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Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:05 pm
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Nobody's Daughter Haewon (13) B+. Narrative recursions mesmerise, striking lead perf, but I wish there were more rhyme to its structures

The Thing (11) C. Fun creature effects but this is an airless, perfunctory affair. Winstead succeeds in cruddy pictures, though

Veronica Mars (14) B-. Doesn't redress for cinema, so we're left with a fun telefilm with bite. Engaging nostalgia trip, Bell enjoys herself

The Mating Season (51) B+. Snappy screwball throwback with tragicomic elements showcases stellar cast, with a rare opportunity for Ritter

Wild Reeds (94) C+. Period soap is engaging but ostensible 'political commentary' never makes an impression. Kid cast largely charisma-free

Mr. Thank You (36) A+. A Pandora's box of incisive social observation nurtures tragedy and hope from the tiniest of seeds. Elemental

Sunday at 6 O'Clock (65) B-. Pintilie asserts shocking images & passages of true kinesis, but I couldn't begin to explain what this is about

The Heart of the Wise Lives in the House of Sorrow (09) D. Inscrutable, amateur indie footnote tries sub-Lynch, sub-Jodorowsky, sub-Paskaljevic, is sub-everything

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The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
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Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
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Bush Mama / Gerima
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Sat Mar 22, 2014 5:49 am
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Didn't I tell you to watch Mr. Thank You? gims props

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Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:06 pm
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wasn't it Fist + rouge?

props

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Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
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* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
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Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:08 pm
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i was all about mr thank you

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Sun Mar 23, 2014 6:13 am
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Lots of good recs for me! Good work!


Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:33 pm
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Grey Gardens (75) B+. Doesn't eke consistent narratives from shaggy dogs but says important things about the US class system

The Match Factory Girl (90) A+. A stylistic Cold War, social gaze cuttinglike a knife. A clarion call from the depths of Aki's shadowscape

Thus Another Day (59) B+. Imbalanced plots pall but has some of K's most stirring images. Good companion piece to superior Snow Flurry

Les sièges de l’Alcazar (89) B+. Irreverent and clever miniature alliterates cinephilia and romantic preoccupation. Tasty buffet of injokes

The Immigrant (13) A. Densely scripted, intricately textured throwback with creeping emotional intensity + a miraculous Marion performance

The Great McGinty (40) A-. Ditches the zany for quiet, assured political insight but the results are more richly emotional than any other PS

Snowpiercer (13) A-. Can't compare to Memories or Host but Bong's flair for visual + emotional complexity passes the International Challenge

A Touch of Sin (13) A-. Often so perpendicular to Jia's usual style as to baffle, but its quadtych steadily builds in interest, formalism

Not Reconciled (65) B-. Clearly has some point, but is a political film w/ exclusive audience worth anything? Don’t wanna join a book club.

The Forbidden Quest (94) B-. Interest comes from the fact of its found footage segments, not their implementation. Unmysterious, very TV

My Child (13) B. Rough around the edges but important, compelling, earning its emotional mileage through use of simple and direct techniques

The X-Files (98) B. Tighter w/ more engaging mythol than the show, unexpectedly v. cinematic, gorgeous. Dave & Gill do best on large canvas

Ossos (97) A. Rigorous examination of rough-hewn faces and streets, more primitive art than poverty porn. A singular vision worth preserving

Uniform (03) B-. Loses its way a bit after a strong start, but thought-provoking. Diao made a significant leap with NIGHT TRAIN though

Touki Bouki (73) A-. Cargo cult cinema, eking out new, fascinating rhythms from hand-me-down colonial formalism. Luv this kind of 3rd cinema

The Wicker Man (73) B+. Beguiles as much as it goofs, greatests strength in poetic + arresting musical segments, dreamstates rare in UK film

The Bedroom (68) B+. Slow, sad & sober modernist melo uses techniques from Antonioni et al but shuddering sense of defeat is uniquely limned

The Mystery of Alexina (85) B+. Acted and illustrated beautifully, strange oasis of colour and literary thrall is not of its Fat 80s time

Fire Festival (85) A. Confounding and mysterious sea & soil poem is a rhapsody of weird silences and shattering noise

A Japanese Tragedy (53) A-. Modernist techniques allied w/ Occupation-era simplicity of address. Purity works in its favour, great lead perf

Grass Labyrinth (79) A-. Terayama distilled is easier to swallow & perhaps more emotional – a whirlwind of indelible imagery & sentiment

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (94) B+. Less of a whole than some other AKs, but a biting one-hour punchline with an edge of real pathos

The Blood of a Poet (32) B+. Surrealism at its most coy, but here it works, muscles and illusions presented with a kid’s playfulness

Rich Kids (79) C+. Depressingly 70s in its divorce-as-dirty-word exposé, though the school play kid leads are still pretty soulful

A Report on the Party and the Guests (66) A-. Filters satire through a shrewd front of naïveté, like Blue Peter Presents Totalitarianism. Clever & cutting

Melody of Murder (44) B-. Periods of bravura wrestle with stretches of the rote, but this got noir grime better than early 40s US pics did!

La vie des morts (91) B-. Brill moments of snatched conversation & vintaged relationships, but give it another hour, watch it get 5x better

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The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
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Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
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Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:57 pm
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Quote:
Touki Bouki (73) A-. Cargo cult cinema, eking out new, fascinating rhythms from hand-me-down colonial formalism. Luv this kind of 3rd cinema


this sounds great


Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:09 am
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Don't know what people see in Ossos. Seems to me to be clearly weaker than all his other stuff.


Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:37 am
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wigwam wrote:

this sounds great


if you like the sound of that you should watch Who Killed the White Llama? which you would probably really enjoy. It's that taken to the extreme, a Bolivian film that uses literally every technique of Western media discourse and subverts it somehow into a completely new kind of satirical language. You've got wipes, split screens, flashing text, powerpoint-style animations about a story of two Indians who go on a crime spree, it's great.

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** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:20 am
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roujin wrote:
Don't know what people see in Ossos. Seems to me to be clearly weaker than all his other stuff.


First Costa

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Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
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Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:20 am
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thought it seemed to ape bresson too much.


Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:22 am
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I was looking for Bresson but, apart from the way the dialogue scenes were blocked, didn't see much of him. And it didn't seem like Costa was aiming to depict a religious transcendence, he's a lot more earthbound.

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The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:29 am
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roujin wrote:
Don't know what people see in Ossos. Seems to me to be clearly weaker than all his other stuff.
I don't think it's weak at all! It has those great faces, and the dancing, and the colors! It has this tactile sense of community that the others don't have (except, maybe, Casa de Lava). And that's not a flaw in the others; it's the point, of course. But, Ossos is the one I remember most vividly, as if I'd been there.

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Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:45 pm
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i see expressionless zombies in carefully arranged compositions who are completely uninteresting. the filmmaking's nice, but it seems grafted on to the film. i don't know how one doesn't see community more clearly in in vanda's room or colossal youth, which are tougher films overall, but more rewarding.


Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:23 pm
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