Ian's Log

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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:07 am

Film/post ratio still a bit too high but I'm working on it, Pinz!
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Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1925) Ernest B. Schoedsack & Merian C. Cooper - 9/10

I’ve heard this compared to Nanook of the North and certainly as far as silent ethnography goes it’s one of the best. It’s really like nothing you’ve seen, where there’s a sense of the past that might as well be 2000 years old as much as 90. Not that the people here are primitive, just that the area is one with a history so richly embedded into every stone. This is wonderfully captured here, with a strange distance between the fresh and immediate and the wholly removed by time.

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Diwan (1974) Werner Nekes - 9.5/10

Hynningen has been a long-time favorite, so when I found out that it’s essentially part of a larger work I jizzd everywhere. This retains just as much enigmatic, mirage-like strangeness only in a more advanced form. Truly marvelous. Really want to find more to say about this but it needs to set in.

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Bare Knuckles (1977) Don Edmonds - 7/10

This is about what I expect from a blaxploitation movie. Not that it’s the best of its kind I’ve seen, just what I think a good average bread and butter one should be like. But I guess it’s a bit unique too. It’s very slow and deliberate in its pacing. Very dark too, with some scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in a slasher movie (well, the plot of this is basically a slasher movie with some of dat VIGILANTE JUSTICE). Grim, visceral, funky.

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Die Säge des Todes (1981) Jesús Franco - 6.5/10 (Bloody Moon)

A decent latter era Franco. Very gory in more of a traditional slasher style as is traditional for the 80s. It doesn’t have as much of the air of mystery you expect in his best works but there are still some nice shots. Overall though it doesn’t quite feel like Franco with his specialties, even if it’s still fun. But oh well, there were some siqq gore scenes.

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The Flamethrowers (1990) Schmelzdahin, Alte Kinder & Owen O'Toole - 9/10

The quality is very poor, even poorer than most experimental stuff I watch, but from what I can see through it this is absolutely fantastic, very much a precursor to some exciting works that the next few decades will bring in chemical film manipulation. All kinds of strange images float through bubbles of uncertainty until we end in pure light. These are alchemical manifestations in full. The sound also really works well, which is hard to do for these kinds of films where usually silence is a safer bet.

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Verhängnis (1994) Fred Kelemen - 8/10 (Fate)

I was fond of Kelemen’s Krisana, but this really gives me many more insights into how great he can be. While Kelemen is a totally different filmmaker in style, the sense of desperation conveyed through wordless, aimless people reminds me a bit of Bartas. But his filming style is more intimate, like Dwoskin or Garrel where he manages to convey so much meaning in just an observation of a sinking face. I don’t think it quite matches any of those filmmakers but it’s notable either way. Especially for Kelemen being one of the most quintessentially East European filmmakers I think I’ve ever seen lol.

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Black Scorpion (1995) Jonathan Winfrey - 3/10

Sometimes so bad it’s funny, but mostly not.

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Latent Light Excavations (2003-2007) Lynn Marie Kirby - 8.5/10

These are marvelous works, with a remarkable ability to transform simple colors into something more complex, but these are not structural works in that simplicity. So rather than a Róbakowski-style mechanical take, these are more like the video/digital equivalent of Stan Brakhage’s more minimal hand-painted works.

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Strella (2009) Panos H. Koutras - 5.5/10

This is an interesting enough piece, very much in the style of Northern European handheld intense bleakfests like The Free Will or something. That said, I didn't like the dream sequences too much and I thought they held it back. Overall, eh.

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Spirals (1926) Oskar Fischinger - 7.5/10
Studie Nr. 6 (1930) Oskar Fischinger - 6.5/10
Studie Nr. 7 (1931) Oskar Fischinger - 6.5/10
Kreise (1933) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
Allegretto (1943) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
Radio Dynamics (1942) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
Motion Painting No. 1 (1947) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
Wachsexperimente (1927) Oskar Fischinger - 8/10
Seelische Konstruktionen (1927) Oskar Fischinger - 7/10
München-Berlin Wanderung (1927) Oskar Fischinger - 7.5/10

In some of these, we are able to see the beginning primordial roots of someone like Brakhage, but with a very different sense of "painting." Compared to someone like Brakhage, Fischinger more seems to try to make film into painting rather than find some new purity in cinema like Brakhage that doesn't resemble either other films or paintings. Overall, I don't find them to be any kind of revelation but I enjoyed them all to some degree, especially Wax Experiments.

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At Land (1944) Maya Deren - 9/10
A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945) Maya Deren - 6.5/10
Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946) Maya Deren - 6.5/10
Meditation on Violence (1948) Maya Deren - 5.5/10
The Very Eye of Night (1958) Maya Deren - 7/10

At Land is just as good as Meshes of the Afternoon. As much as I overuse the phrase "dreamlike," it really is as close as I've seen in a film along with some Brakhage and Quay Brothers works. The rest are more interesting from a dance perspective than a cinematic one for the most part but all have their plusses.

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Les Jeux des anges (1964) - Walerian Borowczyk - 8/10
Renaissance (1963) Walerian Borowczyk - 7.5/10
Rosalie (1966) Walerian Borowczyk - 6/10

After Dom, the first is probably my favorite of Borow's animation work. Of course we know him better for his erotica, and for good reason, but his skill at animation is interesting, comparable almost to someone like Bokanowski in the way he crafts very dark and mysterious scenarios. The second is more like Švankmajer than his previous stuff, I think. The third is not as engaging but the titular female is very very beautiful.

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Le Cristallin (2002) - Carole Arcega - 8.5/10
Macula (2004) - Carole Arcega - 8.5/10

The first is a strange piece, but near the end especially it becomes extraordinarily beautiful, something like an industrialized, non-romantic response to Commingled Containers. The second too is great. Arcega is a cool gal.
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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:35 am

Lots of classic stuff from lists I never got to in the TLC days... makes me very nostalgic, I to that site am sometimes like Li Po exiled from the Chinese court! But I promise not to mention it every post hehe.
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The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) William Dieterle - 8.5/10

It really is quite a wonderful setting we see here. It’s definitely a battleground for temptation from Christian morals, but these are treated in a way so humorous and earthen that they have tremendous meaning and pathos for the secular viewer. As touching as it is funny as it is dramatic. It’s a film which has a remarkable number of different moods and tones and moves through them with grace.

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Bellissima (1951) Luchino Visconti - 8/10

Yep, Visconti is definitely a dude I need to see more from because this is a quite wonderful example of Italian Neorealism. Full of humor and pathos blending into each other quite imperceptibly.

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The Errand Boy (1961) Jerry Lewis - 8/10

The opening here is a wonderful satire and inversion of the mechanized Hollywood steamline production but also a celebration of its best moments. The whole film is what you’d expect from Lewis: ramshackle zaniness and insane slapstick, but with a surprising amount of tenderness and sincerity. I wouldn’t say it’s his best effort but his stuff tends to be fairly solid. Its self-referential nature is even more obvious when you see how it seems to self-consciously note the way Hollywood films of the time are so happy in throwing Japanese/Chinese classical artworks into their sets by using them in one of the scenes. This decoration is something I, as an art historian, is something I love seeing and studying.

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Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) Harald Reinl - 6/10 (The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism)

Some truly lovely moments, some which are quite a bit more boring. Overall, it’s decent. Quite more somber than the silly title would suggest, with some pretty great cinematography at times. But I can’t pretend I was too impressed by it.

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N-Zone (1970) Arthur Lipsett - 7.5/10

I’m not a huge fan of the other films of Lipsett’s I’ve seen (though they’re nice), but this one impressed me. More so than in his others, he really transforms stock footage and odd sound clips into something mysterious and dreamlike. That said I do find the stock footage parts way more engaging than the filmed parts here. But when those occur? Like nothing I’ve seen. And luckily that’s most of the content, all things considered. I don’t know if I’m ready to consider Lipsett a GOAT experimental guy but this makes me want to revisit him because it’s definitely incredibly solid stuff. But this kind of experimental Buddhist stuff always just gets to me.

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What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) Curtis Harrington - 8/10

This is a strange film, mostly because it manages to not appear so on the surface. But in fact it takes what seems like an ordinary story/setting, almost reminiscent of classical Hollywood, and puts some very strange disturbing moods into it. Its theme is classic: the small-town girl (well, middle-aged women) moves to Hollywood in search of paradise but her past haunts her. It almost reminds me here of what Lynch does with films like Mulholland Dr. and INLAND EMPIRE where gaudy theater lights hide something much more sinister, but in a much more simple way, and a more effective one in my opinion. What starts off as so benign really becomes one of the creepiest films I’ve seen in some time. Also it does feel somehow fulfilling to know what the ANIMAL CRACKERS IN MY SOUP song everyone who watched TV in the early 2000s saw over and over again in the Shirley Temple DVD commercial is from. It makes sense why they went with that one rather than the really weirdly, uncomfortably sexualized number that follows. Indeed, this is hardly the cutesy movie you’d expect to be in that collection.

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Solamente nero (1978) Antonio Bido - 7/10 (The Bloodstained Shadows)

A lesser known Goblin score introduces us to this one and while it’s for a much lesser-known film, it’s a score of theirs that’s up there with the best of them. The film too is what you’d want from a giallo for the most part. Some of the more talky scenes are duller than someone like Argento would make them, but overall it’s one of the better lesser ones I’ve seen in a while and it’s well worth checking out. So while it’s not perfect and I think it runs a little long, there are some really wonderful moments sprinkled in it.

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A Perfect Couple (1979) Robert Altman - 7/10

My experiences with Altman have been mixed, but I really did enjoy this quite a bit. Not going to touch McCabe & Mrs. Miller for me, but like that film it’s a nice look at two oddballs connecting. I normally think that sounds super trite and I’m not always fond of how Altman handles that either but this one does it well, quite well.

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O Segredo da Múmia (1982) Ivan Cardoso - 5.5/10 (The Secret of the Mummy)

If nothing else, the film’s style is decently interesting. It reminds me a bit of another Brazilian: José Mojica Marins. However, it isn’t up to his standards, missing most of the things that really make Marins special. Cardoso too uses the cheap nature of the film to make it even more unsettling and strange-looking. The switching between black and white and color is actually handled very well and it adds tremendously to its mood. But sometimes it’s way too goofy in an unpleasant way, and overall the images aren’t crafted nearly as expertly. So it’s mediocre. Lots of hawt chix though, but you can expect that with a Brazilian cheapo horror flick.

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Krull (1983) Peter Yates - 3/10

This seems to be what people who haven’t seen Zardoz think Zardoz is like. So while that film is actually fantastic, this is pretty lame outside of some admittedly cool imagery. Maybe that’s a bad comparison but the point stands: once you get passed some nice setpieces (and I’ll admit, some of them are really something), this is tedious.

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Qaamarngup uummataa (1998) Jacob Grønlykke - 5/10 (Heart of Light)

Surely it’s a novelty because everyone will be curious to see a movie from Greenland (though it’s made by a Danish director so take that for what it’s worth). It’s about an alcoholic, certainly one of the most central issues to Greenlandic people. That said, besides some naturally rather beautiful landscapes it isn’t that special. Only see it if you’re too interested in the novelty of the country like me to skip it, but you won’t be too impressed.

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In den Tag hinein (2001) Maria Speth - 8/10 (In Days Between)

“Between” is a great word for this one because that’s what it mostly is: moments “between” more “monumental” occurrences. There’s something special about this one where it resists the normal “contemplative” style by seeming more constructed for that reason, but still wholly natural somehow, like we just walked into the scene. It’s an early Berliner Schule/“contemplative” style before it’s really finalized so it’s more experimental and has a bit of looseness about its content, which makes it less rigid and more open. It’s fantastic.

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1859 (2008) Fred Worden - 8/10

This some crazy shit boyeee. Sort of like marrying the pure experiments in light of a latter-era Brakhage/Baillie with seizure-happy timing in the style of someone like Tscherkassky and the others of the Austrian school. But more than either of those it has a highly mechanical approach, seeming more interested in building an experience out of minimal means (here the film is built from one shot of a lens flare).
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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:13 pm

Yep, still got a shit movie/post ratio I know. On the James train right now:
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Der Mörder Dimitri Karamasoff (1931) Erich Engels & Fedor Ozep - 9/10 (The Murderer Dmitri Karamazov)

A true gem. The directors avoid having to make a complete match to the book by simply making it a work of cinema rather than literature. Yet it still retains a marvelous connection to the work itself. As I saw a critic remark, this is a remarkable work because of the way it matches a wonderfully eclectic style, clearly inspired by the linking of detailed images to emotions, especially through montage, as the Russian masters pioneered. But this is matched to a more Western European sense of lyricism inspired by the likes of Epstein concerned with the construction of beautiful landscape and composition as well as the tension between speaking bodies in them. It’s certainly not the Brothers Karamazov we experience reading Dostoevsky, but it’s as cogent and accomplished in reflecting Western Europe in the early 1930s as the book was for Russia in the late 19th century.

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Stage Door (1937) Gregory La Cava - 8/10

I gotta say, I liked My Man Godfrey, but this is even better. It reminds me a bit of The Bells of St. Mary’s by Leo McCarey in a way, where any particular story is jettisoned in favor of creating a big universe to explore various situations and events in, in the way the best films do. I remember someone describing that McCarey film as seeming more like a season of a TV series than a film, and I agree, but while they meant it negatively I don’t see it as so. It has that amount of depth and intensity without feeling “non-cinematic” for a second. It’s actually rather impressive how much empathy and investment this creates in only around 90 minutes. Part of this, of course, is due to its stellar cast, including both Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. Overall, a fabulously emotive work, full of humor and tragedy in equal measures.

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You and Me (1938) Fritz Lang - 8/10

This might even be my favorite film from Lang so far. Incredibly funny and even more touching and sweet. It also has a surprising bite and grit for a post-code film.

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The Wrong Man (1956) Alfred Hitchcock - 7.5/10

Hitch himself opens this one by proclaiming that it’s a true story, yet is as exciting as any of his fictions. That’s certainly hard to deny. As I’ve seen others say, it really has a paranoia and bleakness that’s more severe than pretty much anything else by him I’ve seen. There’s very little comic relief or cheeky humor to pick us up along the way, but it doesn’t need it. The intensity of the situation only adds to the film’s power. At the same time, it doesn’t stop feeling like Hitchcock even when lacking these things. I’d argue it’s him at his highest power. This sense of inescapable peril really is something that effects us on a deep, psychological level.

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Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962) Albert Zugsmith - 8.5/10

An endlessly unique specimen. It’s certainly one of Price’s best roles of all time, but that’s not even close to the most impressive element when this film is such a great work. It expertly captures the surreal crossovers of culture in the era of international trade. Even without the opium, the diasporic proliferation of China in all its grit and glory in the classic American West is a dizzying event, and Zugsmith captures this most expertly. The way he transfers a modern cityscape into a Carroll-style labyrinth of mystery is honest-to-god comparable to someone like Rivette.

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The Parallax View (1974) Alan J. Pakula - 7.5/10

Very interesting. It’s a film which really seems to exist only stitched together by scenes which retain all their power on their own as much as together, making the story less important, while still somehow the story remains effective. The whole film seems to follow that train by making things seem very disconnected and alienating in a way perfectly reflective of the paranoia of its subject.

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Die dritte Generation (1976) Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 9/10 (The Third Generation)

This is absolutely one of Fassbinder’s most interesting efforts, and definitely the most bleak and bitter I’ve seen from him. The first shot already conveys the whole film’s meaning: We see computer laying next to a television. The latter broadcasts a scene taken from Bresson’s Le diable probebement, which this film is clearly a continuation and response to in many ways.

Indeed, this film, much like Bresson’s, deals with political radicals and their psyches. However, while Bresson dissects the individual level in a very enigmatic and somber way, Fassbinder is more willing to explicitly mock these radicals in a comic way. On a more prosaic level, he seems to note the way that seemingly noble responses to oppression usually result in nothing but more oppression, that those most committed to justice are in fact those most unjust at their core. This view is almost unbelievably ahead of its time. People overuse the phrase “rolling in his grave,” but I’m sure Fass is right now.

But despite my comparison with Bresson, there’s something even deeper going on here. After all, Fassbinder is a person who is interested in the personal even more than the political, even if their intersections are often his focus. What he really focuses on here is not politics but the deeper malaise caused by modern existence. What seems to be the point here is the way that political rebellion seems like nothing more but a projected attempt to escape a personal psychological unease. It’s one of the most biting and uncompromising satires in that nature that I’ve ever seen, while never being too on-the-nose about it, which is simply incredible.

But as much as I’ve talked about this, the parody of leftist radicals is only the surface. At the end of the day, it comes around to how the film’s plot, mood, etc. is conveyed and the aesthetics here as as incredible as any Fassbinder film I’ve seen. The way he uses technological engagement to comment on this alienation could almost be mistaken for a work of Alexander Kluge. But the virtuoso camerawork and attention to intimacy between individuals make one always cognizant that this is Fassbinder. There always seems to be some television, music, or other thing around these characters, and it almost always has some sort of sly humor in the contrast. Overall, this is a profoundly rich work which is one of Fassbinder’s greatest achievements.

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Le Camion (1977) Marguerite Duras - 7.5/10

This is unmistakably Duras. It’s more comparable in style to Agatha et les lectures illimitées than the others I’ve seen. But it’s not quite like it. It’s closer to a Straub-Huillet film than the others by her, I’d say. I think there’s so much dialogue in this one that it isn’t quite as hypnotic or beautiful as that, but it’s still rather interesting. It absolutely makes sense that she was a writer before director, because her works always play with the nature of writing, speech, text and their relation to imagery, especially as memory is concerned.

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Za jia xiao zi (1979) Sammo Hung - 7.5/10 (Knockabout)

This is an early work and thus seems to be Sammo before his unique voice has been fully developed, but it’s still quite strong. The end fight scene is where it really comes into its own and becomes a great ballet of fight cinematography.

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Fast-Walking (1982) James B. Harris - 8.5/10

This whole movie has this sickly, creeping sense of heat to it. Its direction is powerful, somehow subtle and delicate despite being about such gritty, sticky subject matter. But this is really a film where the performances shine just as bright, especially those of James Woods and Tim McIntire which are utterly mind-blowing by any means. Indeed, much of this film’s entire tension is built on the opposing forces of these two, who almost consume every other performance around them. But they are not two dramatic titans; Woods plays the cool, calm yin to McIntire’s angry, frothing yang. But again, there is much more to this film than just the performances. Harris directs with a fantastically measured pace and a beautifully subtle sense of composition. And the writing here is incredible, a beautiful sentiment or wonderfully effective bit of trash talk every minute. Overall this is fantastic.

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Les Trois couronnes du matelot (1983) Raúl Ruiz - 8/10 (Three Crowns of the Sailor)

I believe this is the first Ruiz I’ve watched since his untimely death. It’s been some time at least. It’s not quite as magical as something like City of Pirates, but it definitely comes out of the same tradition. Its style somehow verges more like an essay piece than that one though, where the scenes are more related in an oblique way than blended into each other organically. That doesn’t mean it’s better or worse, only different. It’s marvelous either way.

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Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (1988) Mark Lewis - 7/10

This is a strange work. It kind of reminds me of a more madcap, humorous edition of a Herzog doc. It’s not nearly as great as one of his, but I don’t pretend I wasn’t entertained. It really does have a great sense of absurdist humor, something that is impressive for what is a bonafide documentary (even with some moments that are obviously scripted).

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Tainted Image (1991) Steve Kornacki - 4.5/10

A Nugget Films production <--- lol no way you’re shitting me. Anyway, this is a slasher/thriller thing that’s somewhat unique in its mood. It’s very slow and deliberate. But overall it’s not very effective, sadly.

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The Wife (1995) Tom Noonan - 7.5/10

This is a very unique film. It’s like a Whit Stillman film taking place in some kind of purgatory… or something. It’s weird, like every interaction has this totally removed, dreamy quality (truly dreamy, not the overused sense of the word). The effect it strange. The whole movie was full of dialogue but I can barely remember a line of it, yet it still is full of emotion and a lingering feeling.

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50 Feet of String (1995) Leighton Pierce - 9.5/10

I’ve seen a few of Pierce’s shorts and they were lovely but this is on another level. I’d compare this to the one film by Nathaniel Dorsky I was lucky enough to see, as in the same way it uses strangely focused images to capture mysterious and dreamlike elements of life. Of course, this has roots in Brakhage as well. But the timing is very different. If not necessarily more enigmatic, this is at least more abstract in the sense that the objects are not as easily recognizable. It’s full of black leader and really does have a strange feeling, like we’re seeing glimpses remembered from a dream, or visions from underwater, or something. I don’t know how else to describe this but it’s rather incredible.

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Florentina Hubaldo, CTE (2012) Lav Diaz - 9/10

It’s a Diaz film and that’s the first thing you can say about it, so there’s all kinds of things you’ll know you’re getting yourself into just by hearing that. And it’s a good one to boot. Century of Birthing was extremely solid, but probably my least favorite of his features. But this is a step above that one. Though it is also very similar in the way that it again returns to the countryside of the Philippines for most of its setting, even more than normal for him. I feel like the shots here were a bit longer, though maybe it’s just because I haven’t seen one of his in a while and I tend to think of them as longer in my mind. His style seems to be narrowing and finding its truest niche.
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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:35 am

With this post, I've finished seeing all the films of the old TLC lists of James and sidehacker. A bittersweet moment to be sure!
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Hádanky za bonbón (1978) Jiří Barta - 6/10 (Riddles for a Candy)
Diskžokej (1980) Jiří Barta - 6/10 (Disk Jockey)
Projekt (1981) Jiří Barta - 6/10 (The Design)
Zaniklý svět rukavic (1982) Jiří Barta - 6.5/10 (The Vanished World of Gloves)
Balada o zeleném drevu (1983) Jiří Barta - 7/10 (A Ballad About Green Wood)
Krysař (1986) Jiří Barta - 7.5/10 (The Pied Piper of Hamelin)
Poslední lup (1987) Jiří Barta - 7.5/10 (The Last Theft)
Klub odlozených (1989) Jiří Barta - 7.5/10 (The Club of the Laid Off)

All of these were pretty enjoyable. The Pied Piper of Hamelin was definitely the best, but his work with humans in The Last Theft was also surprising. It reminded me a lot of the Quays' non-puppet work.

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Anatomy of a Murder (1959) Otto Preminger - 7.5/10

Preminger is a fantastic director, though I will admit that the first things I was attracted to here were the stellar performances of James Stewart and Lee Remick. But I have to say that the lean, mean nature of Preminger’s storytelling is even more impressive. All around, this is absolutely deserving of its status as perhaps the archetypal heated courtroom drama.

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Prima della rivoluzione (1964) Bernardo Bertolucci - 8/10 (Before the Revolution)

The third Bertolucci I’ve seen and it’s marvelous. But very different in style. This is about a thousand times more new wave-inspired in its nonlinear editing, odd narration, and dynamic camera. It certainly feels like a very different Bertolucci. But a great one.

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The Patsy (1964) Jerry Lewis - 8.5/10

The opening of this one is so interesting. Lewis downplays his typical Tashlin-style hijinks for a strangely somber moment of reflection. This is because the film opens with a star comedian’s death, whose place Lewis’s characters takes. This is prime Lewis filmmaking: making all emotions of life into something humorous, even those most depressing. In a style similar to The Errand Boy, this is a remarkable satire of stardom and entertainment as industry, but even more cynical than that one, or at least more measured and mature. But this cynicism doesn’t mean it isn’t wholly hilarious and capable of putting a smile on my face. This is perhaps the apex of his comedic performance at its height as well. All of this culminates in the end which is perhaps the greatest moment in his career that I’ve seen so far. I think this is the movie that really made me love Lewis.

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Invasión (1969) Hugo Santiago - 7/10

Very interesting. Marginal style aesthetics but the mood is something else, more classical. Maybe it’s like the Truffaut to the Godard films of Brazil? I don’t know, it gets pretty wild near the end and the story is definitely more like Godard in its abstracted nature. Of course, it’s even closer to Borges who apparently wrote the story it’s based on. It’s cool any way. This will probably grow on me.

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Deep End (1970) Jerzy Skolimowski - 7.5/10

Somehow this reminded me a bit of Bertolucci’s La Luna. Not so much in style, but in the way it’s soaking with bizarre, prurient sexuality. There really is something unique about the way that sexuality is shown here with all its pitfalls and moments of exuberance. The bathhouse is a great setting for it, as it’s teeming with a kind of perverted curiosity that’s both innocent and mature at once.

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Im Lauf der Zeit (1976) Wim Wenders - 7/10 (Kings of the Road)

This is my first experience with Wim Wenders (huge blindspot, yeah). And I enjoyed it. I don’t think it was an epic masterpiece, but I think its pacing is well-managed, its imagery is nice, and its scenes are reflective of a nice peripatetic mood influencing Neue Deutsch Kino. I don’t believe he’s going to touch Herzog or Kluge any time soon, but this shows that he has potential, no doubt.

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The Falls (1980) Peter Greenaway - 7/10

Immediately I would call this much more interesting than Vertical Features Remake, the other Greenaway I saw. This is a trip. Ruiz was the first director who came to mind, but that still isn’t a really good comparison at all. It’s a bit more, well, I wouldn’t say self-referential because clearly Ruiz is that, but more… cheeky? It’s unique, for sure. I’m not sure what I think about it. I was definitely amused by the Quay brothers taking the roles of the Fallari brothers.

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The Running Man (1987) Paul Michael Glaser - 6/10

It wants to be Verhoeven really bad but isn’t quite that great at subversion. But it’s still a good movie, just nothing incredible.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:19 pm

jade_vine wrote:Prima della rivoluzione (1964) Bernardo Bertolucci - 8/10 (Before the Revolution)

The third Bertolucci I’ve seen and it’s marvelous. But very different in style. This is about a thousand times more new wave-inspired in its nonlinear editing, odd narration, and dynamic camera. It certainly feels like a very different Bertolucci. But a great one.
Bert's best, if only for this miraculous shot:

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“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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roujin
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by roujin » Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:11 am

jade_vine wrote:With this post, I've finished seeing all the films of the old TLC lists of James and sidehacker. A bittersweet moment to be sure!
:cry:
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:37 am

roujin wrote:
:cry:
It's sad indeed... oh well, at least it'll be years and years before I track down everything on Elephant_Gun's list, ha.
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Herr Arnes pengar (1919) Mauritz Stiller - 8/10 (Sir Arne's Treasure)

I do truly love these deeply historically indebted early days of silent film. While the storyline of this one may progress similar to a stage play, its style is anything but. Stiller absolutely uses the camera to its utmost potential here, with all kinds of interesting shots and methods of narrative communication. It’s fantastic.

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The Damned (1963) Joseph Losey - 7.5/10

Losey is great at subtle uncomfortability in films like The Servant, so a sci-fi/horror film seems perfect for him. It seems like leather gangs of the 50s/60s are ripe for this sort of paranoia. I’ve always been fond an episode of The Twilight Zone called “Black Leather Jackets” and in some ways this is like a full-length version of that. But those guys are only the surface, there’s something far more sinister. This work’s sense of unease is one of the most timely to the early 60s yet also timeless. Naturally, Losey accompanies this all with a great sense of slow unfolding and some incredibly dynamic framing.

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Memorias del subdesarrollo (1968) Tomás Gutiérrez Alea - 7/10 (Memories of Underdevelopment)

I was impressed by this one. I didn’t think it was a total masterpiece, but it reminded me very much of early Godard (duh). I thought a few of the interview style scenes ran long, but otherwise this is solid.

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L'Eau chaude, l'eau frette (1976) André Forcier - 8/10 (A Pacemaker and a Sidecar)

I’ve waited a long time to see this one and it’s lived up to the hype I’ve given it. It’s very different from anything else I’ve seen from Québec. It has more warmth to it in the style of a European humanist. I’ve seen comparisons to Fellini, but somehow I saw Pialat in this as well. Certainly it’s a bit less naturalist, but it has Pialat’s sense of delicacy to intimate moments. That’s not to say this isn’t present in other Canadian films, but this somehow seems less removed from the proceedings. We’re in the tenement house with these characters every step of the way, in other words. There’s a bit more of that homespun feel. I dig it.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:50 am

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La hora de los hornos: Notas y testimonios sobre el neocolonialismo, la violencia y la liberación (1968) Fernando E. Solanas & Octavio Getino - 7.5/10 (The Hour of the Furnaces)

Sobering. Like many of the Latin American films of this time, this film is full of intense, energetic editing that distinguishes this from a mere documentation of dry facts. Instead, there’s a really interesting profusion of tons of voices and ideas here. It’s not without a fair share of propaganda, but the thing is edited in a way that comes across more as a stream-of-consciousness than an ordered piece (even if that’s basically what it is). I don’t think it’s without its faults, as some scenes run a bit long and uninteresting, but altogether for a 4+ hour film I can’t believe how engrossing it is. Admittedly the second episode had a bit long with all those debate scenes which a lot of Third Cinema gets bogged down with, but overall this is a surprisingly lively film for its length. I wonder if Ken Jacobs saw this before Star Spangled to Death in some ways too.

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Steklyannaya garmonika (1968) Andrei Khrzhanovsky - 7.5/10 (The Glass Harmonica)

I’ve heard people talk about Soviet animation, and if this is the standard, I can definitely see why. Lovely, humorous, and just a little strange. The simplistic anti-capitalist sentiment is so drowned out by the fantastic animation that I barely even noticed it.

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Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala (1968) Yuri Ilyenko - 8/10 (The Eve of Ivan Kupala)

Ilyenko knocks it out of the park again. I’d even go so far as to say that this may be his most strong cinematography, even if I slightly preferred the story of his Mavka. Well, maybe not prefer it necessarily but I feel that it is more of Ilyenko’s suited material. Maybe I dunno, there’s not a big difference because they’re both great. Both are thus my favorite of his, I guess. Cute girls in this one, too. You can expect that with these Ukrainians though.

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Providence (1977) Alain Resnais - 7.5/10

With every new film by Resnais I see, he becomes a slippier, harder fish to pin down, a frustrating figure for any auteurist. Of course that’s common knowledge, but it was really driven home here. And for such an oddball of a director, this might even be his most oddball film. It feels a lot like Resnais’s take on Buñuel. Indeed, I feel like the surreal, off-kilter nature of this is similar, but a bit less overtly humorous. I wouldn’t say this ranks up there with something like Last Year at Marienbad or Hiroshima mon amour, but it’s around the second tier after that.

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Ana (1982) António Reis & Margarida Cordeiro - 8.5/10

Strange stuff. But with a rather remarkable sense of time and space. It’s cliche to say a film is like a piece of poetry when it uses poetry on its soundtrack, but that’s truly what this is. But not just a simple piece of poetry, some kind of poetry that is marked by a deep sense of connection to history. It’s almost like a Straub/Huillet in content/structure combined with something more… earthen? Maybe more like Herzog, but not him because it’s more slow and somber. Maybe that’s something everyone else has already said but W/E IT’S GR8 JUST WATCH IT.

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Jeune femme à sa fenêtre lisant une lettre (1983) Jean-Claude Rousseau - 7.5/10

Note to self: revisit the other Rousseau I saw. This is cool. Like a lot of the best diary-type films, this engages light and the nature of the image in the most small, intimate ways. It’s so appropriate to use Vermeer’s painting in a part of this, because what he does with this film is not unusual to Vermeer’s domestic explorations.

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Historia sexual de O (1984) Jesús Franco - 8/10 (The Sexual Story of O)

This is at his highest sexiness, where he creates a world of sexual temptation that’s fully intoxicated and pervading with lust. This is more purely pornographic than a lot of his other most classic pieces, and it certainly isn’t up there with something like the Eugénie films, but it’s a strong exercise for him all the same. The ending, however, is one of his best, strangest scenes.

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Mammame (1986) Raúl Ruiz - 8/10

One of Ruiz’s most unique works and a unique work by anyone’s standards. It skirts the line between dance performance and cinema in some ways, but manages to do the very difficult: make a filmed performance (or at least what seems like one) cinematically interesting and dynamic.

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Nassereddin Shah, Actor-e Cinema (1992) Mohsen Makhmalbaf - 7/10 (Once Upon a Time, Cinema)

My first from Makhmalbaf and what a unique specimen. I know I’ve been saying that about a lot of films recently, but this definitely warrants it. The story of it is sort of a fantastical comedy with a magical realist tone, very unlike the other modern Iranian films I’ve seen in his scene from, say, Kiarostami or Panahi. However, like Kiarostami especially, Makhmalbaf here comments rather exquisitely on the nature of cinema itself, but in a way that is far more playful and humorous than the more enigmatic work of the former. Still, there’s a definitely intersting engagement with the past and other things here that aren’t as direct. On a purely visual level it’s also a very beautiful film, full of wonderful setpieces and some finely choreographed movements through them in a way that’s both classical and self-referentially removed. Overall, while this took a minute or two to get into, I ended up really enjoying it.

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Genet à Chatila (1999) Richard Dindo - 7/10

On one level, this lives up to its title by being a documentary about Genet and his relation to the massacre and other events in the Palestinian camp of Shatila. And if that’s all it was, it might be a simple curiosity. However, there’s a lot more going for this one. It’s obvious that Dindo here is inspired by a lot of the great experimental French directors, most obviously Godard around his 80s/90s pivot. However, it’s more a matter of editing than anything. In terms of story and mood it’s a bit more simplistic than Godard, being so tied to a specific bit of history. That said, it still has a wonderful sense of poeticism similar to his by virtue of its interesting editing, tied with a more earthen sense of documentary (though this is an essay film, it also very much merges on typical documentary). Overall it’s quite nice, even if I wasn’t totally in love with it.

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Kleftis i pragmatikotita (2001) Antouanetta Angelidi - 8.5/10 (Thief or Reality)

Another great film from a great director. This is fantastic, but that’s not surprising from the director of Topos. However, lacking subtitles for this one makes it a bit more of a challenge through no fault of its own. I feel like the setpieces here are a bit less obviously artificial, yet they still are out of this world, like some shadowy mindscape to get lost in. Really great.

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Peggy and Fred in Hell (2002) Leslie Thornton - 9/10

This is just bizarre, almost off-putting stuff. But you would know that by just hearing the name Leslie Thornton. It’s also excellent. Reminds me almost of Dwoskin’s later work, the way she uses old footage in hallucinatory, distant ways, but with less obvious emotional pathos. I definitely need to return to this again and again.

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At Sea (2007) Peter Hutton - 9/10

I knew what to expect from New York Portrait, but this is just as great if not better. Hutton captures the world in a way not quite like any other director, with the eye of an alien observer landed on a new world. Profound and mysterious.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:11 am

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Victory (1919) Maurice Tourneur - 6.5/10

This is not my first by the elder Tourneur, but it is a more comprehensive film than the other one I saw, which was a short (if a very excellent one that contains just as much power as this feature). He isn’t the most advanced director for his time in terms of something like editing, but it doesn’t mean that his works don’t remain moving and lovely.

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The Navigator (1924) Buster Keaton - 7.5/10

Out of the Keaton films I’ve seen, I think I might have to choose this as my favorite so fa. Well, it or Steamboat Bill, Jr. I guess, those two nautical ones are a great pair. The scenes with the natives here are certainly choreographed with a fantastic, incredibly far-reaching scope. The amount of figures orchestrated together to pull them off is simply superhuman for its time (and even now).

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Le Joueur d'échecs (1927) Raymond Bernard - 8/10 (The Chess Player)

Fantastic. I don’t have any prior experience with Bernard but what a promising start. The editing here plays shots off each other in a marvelous rhythm with some incredibly effective, emotional closeups and off-kilter angles. The actors here are wonderful too, with that Mozzhukhin style of bemused expressiveness. Bernard the cinematographer is a marvel; he takes seemingly stagey and ordinary compositions and makes them much more dynamic just with the treatment of delicately composed light.

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The Cameraman (1928) Buster Keaton & Edward Sedgwick - 8/10

The best Keaton? I know I just called The Navigator that but I might have to take that back. Well, they’re obviously all great watches, but this is definitely in the upper tier. The self-reflective qualities are obvious from the beginning, but the point is only driven home by a wonderful metacommentary in the opening scene. This awareness, I think, makes the already electrifying nature of a Keaton film only better than normal. Marvelous.

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La Petite Lise (1930) Jean Grémillon - 8.5/10

I read someone note one of the most impressive aspects of this: a mature use of sound and silence in relation to image despite it being a very early talkie. As usual, he is a fantastic crafter of very delicate images and an even more fragile storyline. This especially is one of his simplest stories, very much like a fable or rumor. He illustrates it with glances and small moments of silence, all framed brilliantly in light and darkness. This is a great blend of the lushness of a silent and the more formal arrangements of an early talkie, two fields that Grémillon always is somewhere interesting between.

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Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) Edward F. Cline - 8/10

What starts as a typical Fields film soon descends into pure mayhem. This is actually my first I’ve seen from him all the way through, and this seems self-aware in a lot of ways, so maybe it wasn’t the best choice. But holy shit, what a work of insanity. The jokes and setpieces here are just insane, totally disonnected from any logic or normal sense of taste or humor, which is amazing and only makes them funnier. I may not think of Fields immediately when it comes to transgressive Hollywood comedy in the way I would with someone like Jerry Lewis (mostly because he didn’t direct this, of course), but this shows that he could make some pretty crazy movies that were way ahead of their time. This is just monstrously funny, for its time or not.

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Bluebeard (1944) Edgar G. Ulmer - 8/10

I have to say that, for what seems a low-budgeted treatment of an old theme, this is remarkably eerie. There’s almost no scene here that isn’t cloaked in some expertly tempered shadows, and even those in sunlight seem dark and foreboding. But it’s also very delicate and intimate, almost like you’re viewing the whole thing through a peepbox. All around, great.

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Film About a Woman Who… (1974) Yvonne Rainer - 8/10

One of many incredible films from this time in America which pay such a close attention to the body and materiality with the world, media, image, etc. As much as this is called a feminist landmark, there’s little I saw that was particularly concerned with women specifically as opposed to a human condition in general. But don’t ask me, I don’t understand most of that feminist film theory stuff. Whatever you want to call it, it’s simply excellent. Need to revisit it even more, but for this first viewing at least I feel very full.

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Ma première brasse (1981) Luc Moullet - 8.5/10

This would seem comparatively “minor,” sort of like Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, since the subject matter is similar as being a bit of curious biography of the director (not that Herzog directed that film). Here, Moullet learns how to swim for the first time. But Moullet takes full advantage of this situation to create a humorous, self-reflexive, and incredibly tightly constructed yet loose-feeling creation. For him to make something so simple so hilarious and affecting is a big talent.

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Szenvedély (1998) György Fehér - 8/10 (Passion)

What do I make of this? Immediately, I’d say I prefer it to the other film by Fehér I saw. Although only by a bit. The mood of this one I’d say more immediately invites comparison to Béla Tarr, and I know I’m not just saying that because they’re both Hungarian due to the fact that the two ran in the same circles and even acted as producers to each others’ films. The opening of this one can’t help but make one think of the famous tango scene of its title from Sátántangó, although Fehér in comparison is a more still and small-scale director than Tarr, even in his similar long, slow pans. He’s carved out a nice space of his own with this film, easily comparable or not. It’s a lot more quiet too, certainly. Very little dialogue here at all. Its sense of place is different though, feeling more like a documentary in a way, somehow. Or at least more improvisational. All around, I dunno if I’m ready to consider Fehér quite as great as Tarr but this is a great film, there’s no doubt there.

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Nakta(dul) (2002) Park Ki-yong - 7/10 (Camel(s))

I’ll admit that I have the same inclination as everyone will to compare this to Hong Sang-soo, but I think that’s something of a swing and a miss. Park, in comparison, is much less involved directly in the characters and has more of an objective distance, almost like they are mere objects in a landscape. Of course, dialogue is still fundamentally important here, but it is a more stilted and natural dialogue than the Rohmer-style ones of Hong. All around, this one is more connected in general to the generic idea of “contemplative” cinema, of a particularly cold and mechanical, yet emotionally-driven style. It reminded me a bit of Oxhide in that regard, actually, if nowhere near as austerely minimalist as that one. Not totally in love with this, but Park has a lot of talent in capturing that specific mood. Near the end especially his use of silence really comes into its own.

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In Jackson Heights (2015) Frederick Wiseman - 8.5/10 [35mm]

Well, what do I say about it? Good stuff. I haven't really seen him do something at a community level as opposed to a specific institution or profession, and it really allows him to do a lot of nice exploration without a central theme, more finding a bunch of moments that are diverse but somehow all seem to fit perfectly. Though I guess the theme of gentrification comes through a bit harder than the others. I wanted to see a whole documentary about that taxi training school!

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Doragon Bôru (1986-1989) - 7.5/10 (Dragon Ball)
153 episodes

This was fun and nostalgic to revisit over the past few months. Of course I watched it as a kid, though I wish I’d seen more of this series than Dragon Ball Z, its follow-up, which is far inferior. I wasn’t much of an action show guy but watching it makes me think of good memories being 8 with my cousins. This series really had one of the most ludicrous plots in fiction, full of retcons and all kinds of shit made up on the spot as it went along, didn’t it?
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roujin
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by roujin » Thu Jan 28, 2016 5:20 pm

Dragon Ball is much better than Z. It's not close.

Have you read/seen any Dr. Slump? That one is incredible.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:58 am

roujin wrote:Dragon Ball is much better than Z. It's not close.

Have you read/seen any Dr. Slump? That one is incredible.
Yeah, I guess that's common knowledge. I can get behind a lot of shonen shit but when the series is just 90% closeups of aliens going RAAAAAAH like Z it can get a bit tiring.

I found out about Slump watching the Penguin Village episodes. I'm probably going to download it soon (can't find any streaming). I can't lie though, I wanted those Gattchan things to die when watching lol. But that's just the English dub. Usually a subs guy but the nostalgia needed the voices.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:58 am

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True Heart Susie (1919) D.W. Griffith - 6.5/10

Has the same problem as Hepburn films: The idea that the main character is so plain and no guys like her. When she’s played by Lillian Gish? Pffft, yeah right. That said, this is easily forgivable because this is perhaps the best Griffith I’ve seen. Apparently Rivette was a fan of this one (R.I.P. ;_;), and I can see why; it has his sort of interest in the interior lives of relationships, if in a far less psychological and mysterious manner. For as good as he was at large-scale historical battle scenes, Griffith seems best at all at depicting these kind of small, fairy tale style narratives.

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Potomok Chingis-Khana (1928) Vsevolod Pudovkin - 8/10 (Storm Over Asia)

I like how the stubby Wikipedia page of this still dedicates a fair amount of space just to pointing out the historical inaccuracies. But who cares about accuracy when you have a film this excitingly shot and edited? This film, as you could guess, takes place in the steppes of Asia. As much as the typical propaganda seems the driving force behind this film as most Soviet silents, because of the shift in setting I think this one takes a lot more time to simple wonder at the alien landscapes and milieus. Indeed, the propaganda often gives way here to very simple pleasures of imagery. And of course, like any of these films, there are a lot of spectacularly edited sequences where the motion of the drama is high. The images of the monastery are particularly interesting. Given the anti-religious nature of a lot of Russian revolution, there’s a typical ambiguity where the images are shot and edited to somehow look foreboding, just like the machines in those devilish industrial factories. However, there’s a clear beauty to them in their sublime power. It’s both similar to the treatment of those machines and very different from anything else in these films. Much like the rest of this one’s style. Gru888!

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Alibi (1929) Roland West - 8/10

This is an American film and it is an early sound piece (very early, this has to be one of the first true sound ones that has dialogue in addition to sound effects), but it has many hallmarks of the tradition of poetic filmmaking going on in Europe. These include some rather impressive camera movements, closeups, and an overall impressive attention given to constructing the story with images rather than intertitles/dialogue. Of course, maybe the reason for that is a lack of the ability to afford much voicework. Either way, the way it remains so attentive to its atmosphere and construction of beautiful imagery is very surprising given the new technology it has. However, its images are more subtle and perhaps conservative than those directors on the continent.

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Red-Headed Woman (1932) Jack Conway - 9/10

Fantastic. One of its first shots is of some bare legs in a pair of fuck me pumps, which shows just how typically smutty pre-code this is. Indeed, it’s one of the most risque I’ve seen since the whole thing concerns one young vixen who is interested in a young man and doesn’t care that he’s married. Of course infidelity is a big theme in these pre-codes, but this one is so focused on it and treats it as such an unquestioned main theme that it’s rather ballsy. It’s not that it’s unquestioned I suppose, as she causes a bunch of people distress, but that she’s our main character and clearly with whom our sympathies lie. But there’s a whole whirlwind of homewrecking and unfaithfulness on all ends. It’s sexy and crazy, one of the best and funniest pre-codes I’ve seen in some time.

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Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) Boris Ingster - 7.5/10

To quote Wikipedia, this one is often cited as the first true film noir, but also quote Wikipedia, some slightly earlier films fall into the genre well enough. It uses Rebecca and They Drive by Night as examples, both of which I’ve seen and can agree with. But either way this is about as archetypal as it gets, whereas those other two perhaps are more sprawled over a few other genre classifications. I’d say that it also seems more in common with the way a hard-boiled detective novel feels than the genre’s later developments, but at the same time this does feel totally like a film and not bound by literature. Its use of deep psychology is probably the most impressively noir thing about it. Nathanael West wrote this so you know that it’s rather complex in its themes. It has that tension about the ability for anyone to become guilty that characterizes the best noirs. All around, a pretty impressive specimen, especially for how early in the genre’s development it is.

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The Mask of Diijon (1946) Lew Landers - 7/10

I forgot to write any words on this one but it’s cool. Very dark and Stroheim gives an excellent performance. The opening and ending scenes outshine pretty much everything else a bit too much but other than that it’s great.

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Mogambo (1953) John Ford - 8.5/10

A very interesting aspect of this is that it was in fact filmed in Kenya itself. This itself isn’t spectacular, as Hollywood films had access to exotic locales for quite some time by 1953, but considering it’s a Ford film it presents a very interesting change of pace. Indeed, if there were any director I’d think of as tied to the American soil and landscape, it would be Ford. It’s interesting how this simple change of place changes the mood so much, since his style remains its usual consistency. What’s most interesting about this one to me is its lack of music. If I’m not mistaken, the only musical accompaniments in this film are the chanting of the tribesmen and of course the sounds of birds and other animals, quite a change from the typical orchestral cues we can expect in a Ford film. I’m forgetting if his other later works were like this, so I need to revisit them. This is a unique work of Ford’s for other reasons too. Of course his treatment of playful romance between men and women is anticipated with works like My Darling Clementine, but this especially seems to push this to a more intimate forefront in a way I’m less experienced with for him. All around, another fantastic film of his.

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Night Tide (1961) Curtis Harrington - 7/10

This is a pretty interesting little work. It’s one of Dennis Hopper’s first roles and he’s fantastic in it. The plot of it is essentially a remake of Cat People, but cats have been exchanged for mermaids and the setting shifted accordingly from Manhattan to a small port town. This changes a couple of things. It means that the whole thing has an air of legend that’s more classical than “urban.” I also have to say that it doesn’t quite have as strong an air of sexual steaminess (it’s hard to compete with Tourneur’s film after all so that doesn’t at all mean it doesn’t have any), but the sense of mystery is just as pungent if not more so. It’s unfair to compare the two films anyway, as this clearly aims for a very different mood. Feels kind of Twilight Zone-esque which is always nice. Overall, quite good.

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Ya shagayu po Moskve (1963) Georgiy Daneliya - 7/10 (Walking the Streets of Moscow)

This may not be quite as mature as Kalatozov’s films, which it somewhat reminded me of, in terms of aesthetics or story, but it remains very touching and amusing all the same. The whole thing definitely moves along at a very brisk pace, but never feels too fast for its own good. Every shot lasts long enough to get the full enjoyment out of its composition and never longer. That’s definitely a positive to it. Despite being a bit thin, it’s enjoyable to watch and very emblematic of certain global New Wave trends, especially with its nicely-framed yet highly mobile and energetic B&W images.

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Arcana (1972) Giulio Questi - 8/10

Its opening claims it is not a film but a “game of cards,” and that sets the tone of this one as a playful, mysterious entity. Given my experience with Questi, I expected this to be some kind of giallo or horror, but it really doesn’t fit snugly into any of the typical Italian genres. It has a fortuneteller, dabbles in black magic, and some of those great gore scenes, but the story itself becomes much more surreal and off-kilter from genre staples. It reminded me actually a lot of a director like Iván Zulueta or Bigas Luna who transform horror into something less genre based but no less unnerving.

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La Fête à Jules (1973) Benoît Lamy - 6.5/10

Unique, very unique, even if there are some other French directors from this time I can compare it to. It seems to fit in well with some of the 70s/80s French directors who fall a bit out of the New Wave due to coming in late and thus exist in an odd place, like Doillon. This one is more explicitly humorous though. But it has a quiet sense of humor. Sort of like Luc Moullet, but less deadpan. It reminded me of Tosca’s Kiss too, though moving that film’s observation of daily life into a more tall tale-styled realm. It really ramps up in the second half, where they get really restless and the biggest hijinks begin. All around, not bad at all, even if I wasn't blown away.

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‘Rameau’s Nephew’ by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen (1974) Michael Snow - 7.5/10

This is by far the strangest work by Snow I’ve seen, but I’d also say it might be his second best (La région centrale is still my favorite). Lots of varied experiments with cinematic structure, but specifically ones of sound. Most of them speak for themselves, but it’s a really interesting state of mind you’re in while you watch the whole thing. While not as singularly hypnotized and not conscious of your body anymore as you might be watching La région centrale, I was left with a weird disconnect between sound/image/time etc. after watching all these tableaus. Of particular interest was one where Snow experiments interestingly with a rainy window and the sound/image disorientation something so simple can create. I’d really like to see a longer treatment on that theme from Snow, but its place in this film is still great.

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Moi, Pierre Rivière, ayant égorgé ma mère, ma sœur et mon frère… (1976) René Allio - 8/10

This film takes as its starting point a historical case and the telling of it, but soon dramatically (but also subtly) makes us question a lot of things from a philosophical standpoint. Not only does that include examining the story from various perspectives, but even the nature of cinema in doing so, since the film is made entirely of non-actors from the town where the event took place. Its reflexive nature is so interesting because of this casting choice and the engagement of various other texts and nice filming techniques (slow pans etc.). It’s nearly as complex in that regard as a Godard film despite seeming like a typical historical drama on its surface. It reminds me a bit of what Rivette did with Joan the Maid too, both recreating and de-historicizing the myth in modern poetic terms.

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The ButterCream Gang (1992) Bruce Neibaur - 4/10

Lollll this was one of the best pieces of shit I’ve seen in a while. I never know how to rate this kind of stuff because it’s like a 2/10 for quality and a 7.5/10 for unintentional hilarity. The setting for this one is the most cartoonishly, ludicrously “wholesome” small town you’ve ever seen which is where all the comedy comes from. One of the members of this group of friends goes to the BIG CITY and joins a GANG and becomes a BAD GUY. So they have to win him back with their small town goodness, because big cities are evil. It’s painful but really funny. A good one to make your friends endure until they hate you.

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Combat d'amour en songe (2000) Raúl Ruiz - 9/10 (Love Torn in a Dream)

This is one of Ruiz’s best latter-day works, and, in my perception at least, is quite underrated. The story is incredibly strange, even for him. More than almost any others it seems to be an excuse to experiment with visual tricks and narrative playthings. It soon becomes a labyrinth of a few reoccurring themes and symbols, and it’s rather exciting to dive through. Some of the historical scenes even seem like miniature versions of Le Monde Vivante! I might want to call this overall the Ruiz version of The Saragossa Manuscript, given its deep associations with history, religion, global trade, and the surreal scenes that all of these create when united.

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Marseille (2004) Angela Schanelec - 8/10

I think that this, along with Passing Summer, is Schanelec at her best. She is really growing on me as a Berliner Schule star. She’s probably one of the best at her particular scene, even if Köhler is close. The filming style of this one experiments a bit from the norm, mixing some handheld work into the typical static long shots. These are rather impressively integrated without seeming stylistically off, which is a difficult deed to accomplish. I think her works aren’t quite as emotionally deep as someone like Nanouk Leopold, who I’ve seen compared as a similar director, and for good reason, but this one especially makes me reconsider her talent.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:27 am

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The Wedding Night (1935) King Vidor - 9/10
Howard Productions, USA, 83 min.

The more I watch from Vidor, the more he seems like a hidden genius in the construction of works that have a particular voice of their own even if it remains hidden in skeletons of certain genres. This one especially shows him engaging in some of the romantic playfulness that makes all these old comedies shine, and it’s certainly up there with the best of them. And just how cute is Anna Sten in this role? I’d get involved in risky business for her with no regrets. It’s so funny that apparently Cooper had problems with her, because their chemistry here is just on a level I’ve rarely seen before. To be specific and to quote IMDb about it:
Gary Cooper hated his co-star, Anna Sten, so much that behind her back he would refer to her as “Anna Stench.”
#REKT

The look at Polish immigration adds an interesting historical realism (not necessarily in the Novaks themselves who are an archetypal East European farming family). It’s an interestingly common narrative device at this time that seems to provide for a lot of the typical jokes about clashing cultures but also a piece of curiosity in the increasingly multicultural landscape of the east coast. In addition to the Polish immigrant family, the Japanese servant Taka that the urban couple have here show that immigrants are all around this area.

This one is interesting because it takes place with in the relocated couple’s Connecticut farmland, yet still has all these immigrants. That is something I haven’t quite seen in a film from this time and place, where it’s normally seen in the burgeoning big cities. Kind of like Ruggles of Red Gap, this shows that those comedic moments of cultural difference are hardly limited to the urban world. So that’s something that immediately makes this one a curiosity. But it’s fantastic in any other way as well; it’s funny, charming, and even quite beautifully shot in its simplicity. And I won’t spoil its ending, but it really makes the pain of forbidden love even more piercing and relevant.

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Adventure in Manhattan (1936) Edward Ludwig - 8/10
Columbia Pictures Corporation, USA, 73 min.

A streamlined, efficient, classical crime drama. As such, there’s very little to complain about. The scenery here is very well-set. I have a hobby of looking at how these domiciles are directed with artworks, and this has some of the best decoration of that style I’ve seen in some time. The story is, after all, about the theft of precious items, so it’s fitting. The interactions between the characters are also incredibly charming, so that’s far from the only plus to this one. It’s typically coy and clever in the best ways, and has an impressively lean, almost minimalist proceeding to the work. I liked Wake of the Red Witch, but I think this is even better.

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The Shopworn Angel (1938) H.C. Potter - 8.5/10
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, USA, 85 min.

Stewart always scores the best chicks. His performance here is excellent even if outside of his voice he’s so young you can hardly recognize him at first. Maybe I’ve just grown to really like these kinds of films but this is definitely the best of Potter’s I’ve seen so far. I love the Petrarchan melting of the ice queen he treats here, which shows that his ability to treat romantic intrigue is as strong as anyone else of this time. The soft focus is fantastic (or is it just the degraded quality of this rip? I hope not) and gives this a lot more visual pleasure to look at than some of his other stuff. The tensions of romance and war duty are as powerful as one can ever see in a film like this, but it’s really interesting that this one transplants it back to WWI in order to comment on the contemporary situation in WWII. A hint at the timelessness of all those emotions I suppose, which only makes them more poignant. I love it.

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Hellzapoppin’ (1941) H.C. Potter - 7.5/10
Mayfair Productions Inc., USA, 84 min.

I’d only seen the two in this post and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, but judging by these three, Potter seems like an excellent director, if more of an eclecticist than an auteur. This one is clearly inspired by the classic works of Berkeley (the swimming scene is a clear homage) and other musical pioneers, but this has more of an almost ironic sense to it and clearly is having fun rather than creating something pure, almost unearthly perfect. Which isn’t to say that this isn’t very, very carefully constructed. It’s absolute mayhem, even if it’s mayhem with a very specific mode of construction in its visual preciseness. I’d say its sense of humor is a bit so widespread that the humor can vary a bit, but it’s overall very funny. It wouldn’t suit the mood of anarchy if it wasn’t a bit inconsistent. So overall, it’s a hit.

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Story of G.I. Joe (1945) William A. Wellman - 7.5/10
Lester Cowan Productions, USA, 108 min.

Wellman, like the creators of some of the other war films of this time, is excellent at showing the interactions of men in dangerous times. Especially interesting is the opening scene where a singer on the radio beckons to them in an almost too-obvious but still quite lovely analogy of the siren call of abroad duty. It reveals the situation over the sea as being much more gloomy, but without ever taking too preachy of a side. For Wellman, who is generally regarded as more of a genre staple if a very talented one, to make a film this somber is indeed rather remarkable. This is not a movie that seems to have functioned as RAH RAH nationalism so much as a tombstone for the many dead. I definitely wouldn’t go so far as to call this an anti-war film, but anyone who can think this is just propaganda or chest-pounding is totally mistaken in my opinion.

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Pitfall (1948) André De Toth - 7/10
Regal Films, USA, 86 min.

I think I prefer this one to Crime Wave, even if that one is usually touted as De Toth’s masterpiece, at least in my experience. I'd like to revisit it though. It’s one of those noirs which almost becomes more impressive by virtue of it being outwardly plain. Indeed, it’s one of those which is almost perfectly the “average” noir. But this is one of the qualities that makes it most nice, how well it embodies its genre in every shot.

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Backlash (1956) John Sturges - 8/10
Universal International Pictures, USA, 84 min.

Wikipedia, if in an article that obviously doesn’t quite have that textbook objectivity yet, labels this as a “psychological Western” and compares it to Anthony Mann, both of which are for good reason in my opinion. Indeed, this one uses the idea of a lone cowboy in the wilderness to almost reflect a sort of mindscape, engaging the use of bare nature. The opening reflects this perfectly by taking the typical Western technique of opening with no backstory, only a man alone in the wilderness, and slowly revealing his background over the film’s course. It’s impressive that he creates this opportunity while this film remains so lean that there’s barely any room to breathe as the plot progresses (not in a negative way, it’s just totally without a bit of fat). And for being such a bright film (the technicolor!), the mood of this one is actually pretty grim. And that’s how I like my Westerns. Great stuff.

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The Young One (1960) Luis Buñuel - 8/10
Producciones Olmeca, USA/Mexico, 96 min.

I hadn’t seen any of Buñuel’s English films, and this is notable not just for being in English but being really intimately associated with things American in pretty much all its facets. However, even with that, it has a sense of timing and manner of subtle camerawork that is typical of Buñuel. The typically charged timeliness of civil rights-era race relations here doesn’t at all undo Buñuel’s typical talent of finding the smallest moments where the surreal or uncanny seems to creep into everyday life. It’s so interesting how he’s able to do this just as well in the American South as he does in Catholic Spain. So yeah, people who call this an atypical film of his don’t make much sense to me. Once you look past the difference of the setting, the mood is quite familiar.

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Vladimir et Rosa (1971) Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Gorin - 6.5/10
Vladimir and Rosa
Munich Tele-Pool, France/West Germany, 103 min.

Like any of Godard’s early 70s films, this is a very complicated work that I have mixed feelings about. Like the others, it is rather fantastic in many ways, but still seems to be caught a bit halfway between the montages and essay work he will later develop versus his other narrative films. This film, more than any others, seems a bit too on-the-nose in its political engagement, which is its biggest flaw. There’s a bit too much direct ranting or satire that’s shallow. However, his editing does always make it possible to engage a bit with the ambiguities of any situation. Certainly the young radicals seem as silly in this film as the government forces they rebel against, to me at least. Also, even as an obnoxious radical feminist, Wiazemsky can’t be anything but adorable. It’s surprising that these Dziga Vertov films manage to work as well as they as they do for being such messes on the surface of things. Even if this is near the bottom of them in rank for me, it could have been so much worse.

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Payday (1973) Daryl Duke - 8/10
Fantasy Films, USA, 103 min.

One of the perfect 70s Americana movies. Not necessarily that it’s one of the all time best, but the mood it captures is just perfectly emblematic of this time and scene of movies, full of that kind of disinterested, bitter look at the countryside. The scenes progress with a passive beauty even in their extreme grit. Very cynical and bitter, I love it.

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Three the Hard Way (1974) Gordon Parks, Jr. - 8/10
Allied Artists Pictures, USA, 89 min.

One of the blaxsplo classics and absolutely deserving to be. This is first of all impeccably paced and shot. Every scene progresses just right, without ever lagging too long or two short. Its plot is insane even for the standards of these films: there’s a secret conspiracy of neo-Nazis who have developed a secret black-exclusive poison that they plan to disperse into society. This leads to similarly insane, incredibly hilarious and fun scenes of fighting and action which are utterly fantastic. In short, this defines everything a good blaxsploitation film should be: Ludicrously over the top and emotionally engaging in equal measures.

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Benilde ou a Virgem Mãe (1975) Manoel de Oliveira - 9/10
Benile or the Virgin Mother
Centro Português de Cinema, Portugal, 112 min.

Rosenbaum compares this to Dreyer and that seems very apt to me. Like any of Oliveira’s earliest works, it’s strange. Very strange, even in comparison to what he’ll later becomes, or perhaps especially in comparison. There’s a lot more camera movement, creating something more ghostly but perhaps a bit more earthen or romantic. The mood of this one is incredibly eerie and unsettled, especially due to its rather bizarre use of sounds such as wind and screaming in the background. The images are quietly expressive in a very worn, ancient-looking way that is yet strangely lost in time like the best of Oliveira’s work. This is definitely right when his magic period began.

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Kôfuku no kane (2002) Sabu - 7.5/10
Blessing Bell
Japan, 87 min.

This definitely has a lot in common with the modern Japanese films that I tend to enjoy. In particular, while some of the flashback techniques are the slightest bit hackneyed (or at least conventional), there’s much that’s impressive here about the way Sabu isolates a rather simple plot device (wandering around after being laid off) and expands it into a whole world. It has a very Japanese since of humor to the whole proceedings too. Great!
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue Feb 09, 2016 7:30 am

jade_vine wrote:Marseille (2004) Angela Schanelec - 8/10

I think that this, along with Passing Summer, is Schanelec at her best. She is really growing on me as a Berliner Schule star. She’s probably one of the best at her particular scene, even if Köhler is close. The filming style of this one experiments a bit from the norm, mixing some handheld work into the typical static long shots. These are rather impressively integrated without seeming stylistically off, which is a difficult deed to accomplish. I think her works aren’t quite as emotionally deep as someone like Nanouk Leopold, who I’ve seen compared as a similar director, and for good reason, but this one especially makes me reconsider her talent.
mmm :heart:

Need to watch more Leopold, for the record.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Tue Feb 09, 2016 7:49 am

She's great! What have you seen? If you like Schanelec you'll probably like her even if they're not totally alike.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:31 am

Just Brownian Movement, but have been meaning to watch Guernsey and Wolfsbergen forever and ever.

Schanelec is the best! Did you see her most recent one, yet?
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:23 pm

That's the one I haven't seen from Leopold. But her first three are all excellent.

I didn't see her latest. So far I've seen these:

1. Passing Summer (2001) - 8.5/10
2. Marseille (2004) - 8/10
3. Nachmittag (2007) - 8/10
4. Orly (2010) - 7/10
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by Colonel Kurz » Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:43 pm

Not a big fan of Leopold, especially not of Brownian Movement. And a friend of mine worked on that, too.

Boven it het stil is good though.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:11 pm

Been watching a ton but here's some of the most recent:
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Magnificent Obsession (1954) Douglas Sirk - 8.5/10
Universal International Pictures, USA, 108 min.

One of Sirk’s great works, but then again everything I’ve seen from him has been great. On the surface it’s one of the most excessively melodramatic and preposterous tearjerker plots, but being Sirk he makes it all smooth and incredibly moving. I was especially impressed with his pacing of this one, no scene lasts even a second too long. Of course, the lighting is absolutely sumptuous in the way the best of Sirk’s color films are.

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Vivre sa vie: film en douze tableaux (1962) Jean-Luc Godard - 7.5/10
Les Films de la Pléiade, France, 85 min.

One of his best 60s films. I can see the way Godard looked back onto this one in some ways when working on his 80s films. Of course, Karina also probably looks about the best she ever has in this one. Anna watches The Passion of Joan of Arc the way it was meant to be: in silence.

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Le Joli Mai (1963) Chris Marker & Pierre Lhomme - 8/10
Sofracima, France, 145 min.

An early work of Marker’s with more of a grounded edge in the everyday rather than the realm of reflection he creates later, but it still remains an excellent example of his talents. We see his aesthetic talents in their most root forms, but at the same time they are very refined enough to be easily discernible even there. The essay segments are so far above the interviews that it almost nulls them a bit, but overall Marker is still talented as ever at finding people with interesting things to say and piecing his own thoughts together out of them.

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Subarnarekha (1965) Ritwik Ghatak - 7.5/10
The Golden Thread
J.J. Films, India, 143 min.

I rather enjoyed Reason, Debate and a Story though felt it was below The Cloud-Capped Star, which I considered Ghatak’s masterpiece for good reason. This definitely ranks up there with that one though. It might even surpass it. This one in particular is deeply connected to facets of society in India but never loses sight of its intimate character focus. And it is truly tragic in its story. If you read the events it sounds suffocatingly sad; it details the elope and downfall of a young couple in love. But Ghatak is skilled at including snatches of everyday life that lend some complexity to the events. He captures the daily moments that aren’t grand tragedy or triumph. He really is talented at classical, rich compositions. They don’t seem special at first but they really are.

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Nunta de piatră (1972) Dan Piţa & Mircea Veroiu - 7.5/10
The Stone Wedding
Filmstudio Bucuresti, Romania, 90 min.

The editing of this one is pretty spectacular, full of a lot of great little views of the countryside. I’d compare it a bit to the classical documentaries of the 30s from places like the USSR. There are very few lines of dialogue, as the directors are very talented at making the scenarios and shots of characters speak for themselves. The landscapes and vistas are Eastern European farmland to its pure core. You get a real sense hear of something ancient in that land, more ancient than words.

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Il paese del sesso selvaggio (1972) Umberto Lenzi - 7.5/10
The Man from Deep River
Rosas Produzioni, Italy, 93 min.

Pretty r8 decent stuff overall. As far as the cannibal genre goes I do prefer this a lot to Cannibal Holocaust and it’s made me interested in seeing more of the classics. Though maybe it’s more accurate to call it just a “savage” movie because there isn’t a ton of cannibalism in this one. It definitely has some great cheesiness to enjoy, and Lenzi as usual keeps everything moving quickly enough where you don’t have the time to get bored. Plenty of great action. It’s more on the action side of things than gore, which makes sense with Lenzi as a director, but he’s so good at action that this didn’t strike me as a bad thing. I wouldn’t say this is an extraordinarily thought provoking film, but it ironically makes one consider the boundaries between “civilized” and “savage” way more than Cannibal Holocaust’s MAEKS YOU WONDER WHO THE REAL CANNIBALS AER.

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Los ojos siniestros del doctor Orloff (1973) Jesús Franco - 6.5/10
The Sinister Eyes of Doctor Orloff
Manaoca Films, Spain, 81 min.

Way better than Franco’s first Orloff film. The framing and color is at an especially surprising level, among his typical best. Overall, it isn’t too spectacular, but there’s a lot to appreciate.

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Ten Violent Women (1982) Ted V. Mikels - 2.5/10
Cinema Features, USA, 97 min.

I’d heard horror stories about Mikels for some time. And this is definitely very bad. There’s something humorous in the poor quality, but it’s unfortunately mostly just the kind of humor that doesn’t result in much more than groaning. Abysmal, but not in as fun a way as you’d hope. Best part was the most lazily acted prison fight in history though, that got a good chuckle from me. Otherwise consider this irredeemable.

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Mixed Blood (1985) Paul Morrissey - 7.5/10
Sara Films, USA/France, 98 min.

It’s not going to touch Blood for Dracula, but this is a pretty cool film which shows that Morrissey still definitely had it in him all the way to the 80s. He’s great at creating tight montages that locate the films in a sort of time outside ours. For a film primarily concerned with gang violence, this has a very slow, reflective vibe even in its most action-packed parts. It’s not unlike his other genre works. The natural comparison is Abel Ferrara’s China Girl, which I just watched recently. I have to say that China Girl wins in the contest, but they are quite different films. This is more community/area/etc. based where Ferrara’s is more about two individuals. Like all of Morrissey’s films, this one wins with dialogue. Plenty of great quotes.

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Sans toit ni loi (1985) Agnès Varda - 7.5/10
Vagabond
Ciné Tamaris, France, 105 min.

When you see not only Bonnaire’s name but also Macha Méril’s in the credits, it’s obvious you’re dealing with a great cast. Varda, being one of those directors who fall vaguely in the wave of innovation but not in the technical French New Wave, has an interesting post here. She is somewhat similar in style here to Godard’s 80s work, but with more of a subdued style. I like it quite a bit.

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Otázky pro dvě ženy (1985) Drahomíra Vihanová - 7/10
Questions for Two Women
Krátký Film Praha, Czechoslovakia, 22 min.

The idea is as simple as it is ingenious: film two women, as different as you can imagine and compare and contrast them. One is a middle-aged molecular chemist and one an elderly railway worker. For being made in 1985, it bears a lot in common to the classic new wave docs from the eastern bloc. It’s not an earth-shattering masterpiece, but its tiny and unassuming nature almost makes it where you wouldn’t want it to be.

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Double Edge (1986) John Lloyd - 6/10
Silver Star, Philippines, 87 min.

The Philippines really do seem like an underrated repository of garbage cinema. They seem to follow only Italy in terms of wanting to replicate the most trashy elements of American genre film and pump it up 1000x. It’s not an all-time classic but I laughed quite a bit at the silly deaths.

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Frost (1997) Fred Kelemen - 8/10
Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, Germany, 270 min.

This might be my favorite from Kelemen so far. I really feel this one exists more in its own universe than his others, where Tarr and Bartas are the typical points of reference. And for good reason; a good way to describe his style is the elemental, austere environments of Bartas with the roving camerawork of Tarr. Here though his camera is a lot more tight to his focus subjects, focusing on even smaller, somewhat more claustrophobic spaces, in a way very different from those two directors. I thought this made him less interesting visually for some time but this one showed me how well he really can make his composition. I’m not sure if I’m ready to consider Kelemen one of the all-time best directors, but he’s certainly one of the all-time bleakest and most miserable. I’d say his work veers more toward documentary than the typical European miserablism. Not necessarily in aesthetic but in terms of his capturing moments from the everyday. Great, great stuff that is a signifcant leap for Kelemen.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:13 am

I was in New York City last week, so I managed to see some really exciting things at Anthology Film Archives:
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Anticipation of the Night (1958) Stan Brakhage - 9/10 [R] [16mm]
Cat's Cradle (1959) Stan Brakhage - 8/10 [R] [16mm]
Sirius Remembered (1959) Stan Brakhage - 7.5/10 [R] [16mm]
The Dead (1960) Stan Brakhage - 8.5/10 [R] [16mm]
Thigh Line Lyre Triangular (1961) Stan Brakhage - 9/10 [R] [16mm]
Mothlight (1963) Stan Brakhage - 8.5/10 [R] [16mm]
Blue Moses (1963) Stan Brakhage - 6/10 [R] [16mm]

I'd seen all of these before, but Anticipation of the Night especially was a revelation. I've always found the difference between digital and film viewings a bit overhyped in the case of Brakhage (I guess I just build it up to be so much more than it is), but for Anticipation it felt warranted. It made me want to revisit it even in the mediocre online rip quality though.

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Dog Star Man (1961-1964) Stan Brakhage - 10/10 [R] [16mm]
USA, 78 min.

No more needed to say, as fantastic as I expected.

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Songs 1-14 (1964-1965) Stan Brakhage - 8/10 [8mm]
USA, 40 min.

These were all very very solid. For being so different, they worked well as a series (I have to rate it as a whole because they ran together to a degree).

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The Art of Vision (1965) Stan Brakhage - 9/10 [16mm]
USA, 250 min.

The big daddy. My rating is high, but I must note that this is primarily just footage from Dog Star Man with slightly different editing. That footage is all great, but the film did get repetitive on occasion. Still, overall it's a definite hit.

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Minamata: Kanja-san to sono sekai (1971) Tsuchimoto Noriaki - 8/10 [16mm]
Minamata: The Victims and Their World
Higashi Productions, Japan, 121 min.

An interesting break in all the Brakhage stuff. The scenes of protests weren't as interesting as the ones of daily life for the affected families, but overall it's still a great documentary.

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Loving (1956) Stan Brakhage - 8/10 [16mm]
Pasht (1965) Stan Brakhage - 9/10 [16mm]
Fire of Waters (1965) Stan Brakhage - 7/10 [R] [16mm]
The Horseman, the Woman and the Moth (1968) Stan Brakhage - 9.5/10 [16mm]
The Weir-Falcon Saga (1970) Stan Brakhage - 9/10 [16mm]
Sexual Meditation #1: Motel (1970) Stan Brakhage - 8.5/10 [R] [16mm]
Sexual Meditation: Room With a View (1971) Stan Brakhage - 7.5/10 [R] [16mm]
The Shores of Phos: A Fable (1972) Stan Brakhage - 9.5/10 [16mm]

The brochure labelled these "some of Brakhage's most densely mysterious works," and I think that was definitely earned. Especially for The Shores of Phos: A Fable which is one of my favorites from his career I think. The Horseman, the Woman and the Moth was another standout as an early example of hand-painting, as was The Weir-Falcon Saga which appears at first to be a traditional family diary film but is actually a lot more strange.

I had my fair share of normal watches too:

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Tih-Minh (1918) Louis Feuillade - 7/10
Gaumont, France, 418 min.

Quality isn’t optimal, but you get used to it quickly and it isn’t as bad as it seems at first; it’s definitely enough to get a good feel of the film. Feuillade is always story-heavy anyway (not to say he can’t construct a quite decent image). I have an immediate interest in this one because I love this era of Chinoiserie. It adds a lot of fun international flavor into things. I’d like to see this in better quality before determining for sure, I think it might even outdo Les Vampires if I viewed it optimally. My project of screencapping Asian decor was very difficult for this one because there are so many and they’re so hard to decipher in this quality lol.

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Ye mei gui zhi lian (1960) Wang Tian-lin - 7/10
The Wild, Wild Rose
Motion Picture & General Investment, Hong Kong, 128 min.

I’ve been a big fan of Grace Chang for some time in her music work alone, but this is a perfect work befitting her. Obviously her singing and sassy personality make the film in a lot of ways, but the film around her is more than fitting. The composition was very nice which is a great surprise since musicals can have a tendency to just reduce to filming dancers statically. This isn’t even really a musical when you get down to it, it’s more of a melodrama where music is a big component to the story than anything. But it’s very nice all around, if rigorously classicist in style.

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Le Journal intime d'une nymphomane (1973) Jesús Franco - 8/10
Sinner, Diary of a Nymphomaniac
Comptoir Français du Film Production, France, 86 min.

Another day another gr8 Franco. Plenty of kooky, sexy scenarios and it’s all filmed pretty wonderfully too. This is more of his purely hedonistic side, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of filmic quality to appreciate. No Soledad-tier hotties but some god-tier asses. I feel like I wrote the exact same review for the last Franco I saw lol. You could say he’s consistent.

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Kindergarten Ninja (1994) Anthony Chan - 5.5/10
America’s Best Karate, USA, 82 min.

lol wtfff. There are a few unfunny intentional “we’re so QUIRKY at our cheap movie guyz!!” jokes, but otherwise this is one of the best shit movies I’ve seen in a while.

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Eoddeon gaien nal (2009) Lee Suk-gyung - 7/10
The Day After
Korean Academy of Film Arts, South Korea, 87 min.

Similar to something like Oxhide, with the contemplative genre base pushed to its limits. Though this isn’t as extreme as it can get. Lots of everyday conversations filmed in tight, handheld shots. All good, but I think it lacks the final push in terms of really great cinematography which is often what these films need to hold themselves together and push them along. That said, it still looks pretty nice and has an admirable sense of space.

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The Liquid Casket / Wilderness of Mirrors (2014) Paul Clipson - 8.5/10
USA, 9 min.

Fantastic. Need more movies like this.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:21 am

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Wieczne pretensje (1974) Grzegorz Królikiewicz - 7.5/10
Permanent Objections
Zespół Filmowy Panorama, Poland, 70 min.

The first thing that struck me about this one is its odd editing and composition. Many angular shots with roving cameras. It reminds me a bit of Kargl’s Angst or early Żuławski in the way that it seems to never settle on something unless it’s uncomfortably close. That’s special. Overall, it’s very exceptional in that regard. The editing is shoulders above a lot of the rest, but overall the film is good, definitely.

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Abby (1974) William Girdler - 7.5/10
American International Pictures, USA, 89 min.

A lot about this is very similar in theme to Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess, the way it uses horror with African root themes to unite the modern black experience to the ancient (or some such). This one is more of a traditional blaxploitation take on a genre piece with comic elements, not like the unorthodox, melancholy style of Gunn’s film. In fact it’s so similar to genre staples that it had some legal troubles for its similarities with The Exorcist, apparently. I can see why too as the plot is pretty similar except the evil deity is from Africa instead of the ancient Near East, and it is more specifically concerned with lust and carnal sexuality. It takes one of my favorite elements from that film as a driving point: the way that something ancient and evil can shake even the most rational-minded archaeologist to their core. This one is a Christian theologian, making it a bit different, but the mood is the same. This is like if Chester Novell Turner became a competent, even an exemplary, director. I’ll take “Shit, you ain’t got enough to satisfy me, you impotent son of a bitch!” followed by a kick to the nuts is right up there with “Your mother sucks cocks in hell.”

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La noche de las gaviotas (1975) Amando de Ossorio - 7/10
Night of the Seagulls
Ancla Century Films, Spain, 89 min.

Might be Ossorio’s best, or at least I was most in the mood for this one. Great atmosphere and creepy imagery. I definitely see the Fulci influence.

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Nightdreams (1981) Francis Delia - 8.5/10
Caribbean Films, USA, 78 min.

This was one of the biggest blindspots in a certain area for me. Indeed, as someone who’s seen so many of these bizarre golden age pornos, this is the big one and I hadn’t seen it. And it lives up to the hype, I’ll say. In fact, for having seen so many of these, very few of them retain their power in the way this does. This uses sexual attraction to create something that feels truly perversely voyeuristic and nightmarish. And then that makes it even more hot. It’s just like Sayadian’s other masterpiece Café Flesh in that regard (not that he directed this one, but he screenwrote it and you can tell). While I prefer that one a bit, this is an excellent film by any standards.

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Tajemství hradu v Karpatech (1981) Oldřich Lipský - 7/10
The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians
Filmové studio Barrandov, Czechoslovakia, 97 min.

This is not as much of an outwardly satirical or intelligent film as the others by Lipský I’ve seen, or perhaps I should say that its humor is of a very different style, but there’s a clear sense of playfulness he adds to the style of Gothic horror that was seemingly quite popular in Czechoslovakia at the time. The imagery is stellar as usual, though the sense of humor fell a bit more flat for me this time and clashed with the film’s atmosphere. Still, it’s pretty good overall.

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I Hired a Contract Killer (1990) Aki Kaurismäki - 7/10
Finnkino, Finland/UK/Germany/Sweden/France, 79 min.

The story is genius: The hapless Henri Boulanger, played by an older Léaud, becomes suicidal but can’t go through with it, so he hires a contract killer to assassinate him. But then he finds meaning in his life by meeting a girl, but can’t terminate his agreement with the killer. I’m not the biggest Kaurismäki fan (not that I dislike him, just feel average) but this one really utilizes his talents well. Very nice visual representations of alienation and being lost in a cold society that doesn’t care. He’s great at finding humor in it, specifically a very visual kind of humor which defines the word “deadpan.” I might seek out some of Kaurismäki’s others since this was better than some I’d seen, or at least I’m in a better position to enjoy him now. This might become a 7.5 in due time.

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Scumrock (2002) Jon Moritsugu - 4.5/10
At An Angle Productions, USA, 79 min.

An appropriate title, this is very scuzzy and scummy. Not in love with it though. It’s like a West Coast bum version of Period Piece, but not very funny.

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Annemin Şarkısı (2014) Erol Mintaş - 5/10
Song of My Mother
Arizona Films, Turkey/France/Germany, 103 min.

Lol some dork from the Hollywood Reporter who can’t into contemplative cinema said this:
This quietly assured debut may well signal the birth of a noteworthy new voice in Turkish cinema, but he will need to shout a bit louder next time.
If anything, the understated and minimal quality of this one is its best quality by far. However, its greatest flaw that it still bears a bit too many similarities to typical dramatic storytelling and that outweighs the positive a bit too much. So, between these two, there’s some pretty good stuff here, and the palette is wonderful, but the cinematography is bland and it’s just not quite distinctive enough to add its own to the contemplative base style.
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roujin
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by roujin » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:09 pm

good
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:31 am

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Gli uomini, che mascalzoni… (1932) Mario Camerini - 7.5/10
What Scoundrels Men Are...
Società Italiana Cines, Italy, 67 min.

This was filmed on location which is interesting, showing some proto-neorealist influences in an otherwise incredibly genre-adherent film. This has a ton in common with the romantic comedies made in America around the same time. If you didn’t see the Renaissance architecture in the background, a lot of these caps would look like something coming from Lubitsch. But unlike a lot of precodes, this has more of a classicism and restraint to it. It’s not as saucy as its name would imply, instead bearing a bit more toward what somewhat like Renoir would make. Breezy, but not without a lot of skill behind the camera in creating some great montages and compositions in the cityscape. It’s as glitzy and idyllic as almost anything the French were coming up with at this time. As always in these movies, the carnival scene is the best one.

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Out of the Past (1947) Jacques Tourneur - 7.5/10
RKO Radio Pictures, USA, 97 min.

One of the better femme fatales in noir that I’ve seen, I can say that much for sure. And the movie isn’t too far behind, honestly. Very solid stuff. About as stereotypical of a noir piece as you can find with every element down pat, but that’s what makes it so good. Really impressive shadows, as any noir should have. Mitchum is a beast. Dunno what else to say but it’s a gr8 watch.

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My Sister Eileen (1955) Richard Quine - 7.5/10
Columbia Pictures Corporation, USA, 108 min.

It has the best quality a musical should have: its songs never feel out of place or distracting from its other fine qualities (of which there are many). The story is charming, the compositions are to die for, and it has some of the best chic Asian interior decor I’ve seen in a film like this.

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Ivan Muromets (1956) Aleksandr Ptushko - 3/10
The Sword and the Dragon
Mosfilm, Soviet Union, 83 min.

Some decent cinematography but the style behind it is quite flat and stale, sad to say.

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Yaadein (1964) Sunil Dutt - 7/10
India, 113 min.

This film has a gimmick and it’s a fun one. The film is basically a narrative (even though it’s kind of minimal, just a guy reflecting on his life in his house with flashbacks after his wife and son leave), but it’s told entirely with one actor playing different roles. For its story concerning loneliness and solitary reflection, it actually aids the mood and feeling in addition to just being an impressive feat. Of course, the tricks and techniques he uses makes this overall a very humorous experience. His trip to a seedy dance bar was wonderful to watch. Overall, very much worth watching.

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Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) Bryan Forbes - 7/10
Beaver Films, UK, 115 min.

I don’t know if I’d quite say this is the all-time classic people make it out to be, but it has an impressive sense of unease and mental malaise, and it’s shot decently to boot. So it’s definitely quite good.

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The Kiss of Her Flesh (1968) Michael Findlay - 5.5/10
USA, 75 min.

Great bodies on these chix making for great soft spank material but nothing else is too special. The narration is pretty funny though, lots of great lines.

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Slávnosť v botanickej záhrade (1969) Elo Havetta - 8/10
Celebration in the Botanical Garden
Slovenská filmová tvorba Koliba, Czechoslovakia, 83 min.

Pretty interesting stuff. It fits right in with works like Daisies, Birds, Orphans, and Fools, Lemonade Joe, and any of those other experimental slapstick comedies from the new wave. I wouldn’t say this is as successful as any of those, but there’s a lot to love about it. I’m impressed by how well it balances a wide collage-like array of aesthetics. A great blend of those more surreal films with the kind of homegrown, rural poetry common to the Slovak side of the Czechoslovakian New Wave. It’s a bit of a mess, but a lovable one.

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Satanis: The Devil’s Mass (1970) Ray Laurent - 7/10
USA, 86 min.

This is a vintage documentary on LaVey’s Satanic church, and it’s really a lot of fun to watch. There’s not much filmic quality to this one, but I could listen to these characters talk for hours so I can’t give it a lower rating. It would be dishonest with how much this zipped by while I was engaged.

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Geschichtsunterricht (1972) Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet - 8/10
History Lessons
Straub-Huillet, West Germany/Italy, 85 min.

For what seems to be primarily a warm-up for the second half of From the Clouds to the Resistance, this is quite worthwhile and impressive. It’s naturally a bit repetitive (pretty much one long interview), but the Straubs in their typical manner make it surprisingly never get stale.

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The Love Box (1972) Tudor Gates & Wilbur Stark - 4.5/10
UK, 90 min.

Some scenes are quite sexy, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re really horny. I was, so there you go.

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T-Wo-Men (1972) Werner Nekes - 9/10
West Germany, 90 min.

An interestingly different work from the Nekes films I’ve seen. It’s hard to talk about it comprehensively though because it’s made of five different sections. The camera here is more jittery and removed in a way, reminding me a bit more of Brakhage than his others. With that in mind, the only real downside to this one was that I thought the soundtrack was less necessary. But that’s nothing when the rest of the film is this great. His use of repeated motifs is as usual stellar, but in the style of Brakhage it resembles the act of memory more than a sort of mysterious rite or summoning in the way something like Hynningen works. That’s pretty much true the whole way for this one, whether it’s somewhat removed and dreamily elusive or chaotically frantic. Interestingly, part three reminded me a lot of the beginning of The Hart of London. All around I like it a lot.

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Amore e morte nel giardino degli dei (1972) Sauro Scavolini - 7.5/10
Love and Death in the Garden of the Gods
Hermann Film, Italy, 90 min.

Now that’s a title only a Eurocult director could have come up with, and the film definitely lives up to it, as it’s one of the better obscurities in its scene that I’ve seen in a while. It has a lot in common with giallos in terms of the feel but it wouldn’t quite be accurate to call it a giallo. A mystery, sure, but not quite a giallo. Doesn’t matter though, it was directed by the screenwriter for All the Colors of the Dark, so you know it won’t be shitty. Similar to that film, there’s a real sense of the dreaminess and uncanny lying beneath the surface of the ordinary, often conveyed most powerfully without words. It’s not on the level of Martino’s film of course, but a poor man’s version of that film is still a great work.

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Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976) Marguerite Duras - 9/10
France, 114 min.

A very strange work, which is immediately more similar to India Song than any of the other Duras films I’ve seen. The reason for this is apparent: This film actually has the exact same audio as that one! Only the images are changed. All the post-colonial discourse and stuff goes over my head and is far less interesting than the film’s immediate aesthetic power, but this does seem more connected specifically to the construction of the Indian landscape and vista than India Song. There’s less of an immediate human element in this one as it has less of an obvious main character. You wouldn’t think it could get less immediately human than the marble statues of people that India Song focuses on, but this does by focusing primarily on empty rooms and making the few persons that do appear here seem even more like anonymous parts of the landscape. While I prefer India Song overall, this is super interesting and probably her most experimental film I’ve seen so far. Love it, and hope that someday soon I’ll see it in better quality.

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Real Life (1979) Albert Brooks - 7.5/10
Paramount Pictures, USA, 99 min.

Even for the first film by Brooks I’ve seen, I’m rather impressed by his ability to craft a sense of humor completely his own to work in. Every joke feels original. I laughed a lot. It didn’t seem like my sense of humor at first but I soon fell in love with it. Just shows how well it works.

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Jeuk ngau jai foo dik Jung Kwai (1991) Lai Kai Ming - 6.5/10
The Blue Jean Monster
Golden Harvest Company, Hong Kong, 94 min.

Lol, so get this: A guy dies, but comes back as a corpse, so to keep his guts from spilling out he wears tight blue jeans. Only a Hong Kong director could come up with that. Of course, there’s something a bit intentionally humorous about this one. Funny, kooky stuff.

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What Happened Was… (1994) Tom Noonan - 7.5/10
Genre Pictures, USA, 91 min.

This seems like sort of a companion piece with The Wife, as both are set around one evening for dinners, and both are great at finding the awkward or uncomfortable moments in conversation. Sort of like the American Abigail’s Party, though not that hard to watch. For what seems like such a play-inspired setup, Noonan gets all kind of great compositions in the encounter. And that’s what makes this a great film, the way it can work with such a minimal, dialogue-based idea and still retain all that’s great about cinema.

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Marked Man (1996) Marc F. Voizard - 3.5/10
Allegro Film Production, Canada, 94 min.

Generic B-action trash. Roddy Piper makes it slightly more interesting but can't save it, sorry.

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Thaayi Saheba (1997) Girish Kasaravalli - 7/10

The first Kannada Indian film I've seen, and it's a good one. It reminds me a bit of something like A City of Sadness, the way it focuses on one specific family and their relations in the background of some very complicated political turmoil. Similar to that one as well, it has very classically well-shot cinematography, if a bit less painterly than Hou's. It seems like this guy made some classic films at the same time as later Ray and the other Parallel directors too, so I should seek those out.

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Three Businessmen (1998) Alex Cox - 7.5/10
Exterminating Angel Production, UK, 80 min.

Pulling off a dialogue-centric movie is really hard, but this one does it expertly. Even with so much dialogue, it never feels like the images are unnecessary. In fact, a lot of the humor still comes from images even in the construction of the mood. All around, very funny and engaging to watch, much more than I thought it would be. It really picks up near the end.

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Cheraghi dar meh (2008) Panahbarkhoda Rezaee - 9/10
A Light in the Fog
Iran, 76 min.

Now this felt great to see. I’ve been wanting to find something like it for a while. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the most original thing in the world, falling in line with a lot of other “contemplative” stuff that uses age-old bucolic themes. But originality is by no means a requisite for quality, and this one is so refreshing in the way it just stays with beautiful shots and lets them progress and breathe instead of shoehorning in some kind of story. Sure “two somewhat mournful characters live and work on a farm” is the plot of a ton of other films like this, but you’d never think it seemed unoriginal while watching it. Rezaee makes his film distinct in the way all films should: wonderful imagery and an attention to the subtlest rhythms of the earth. The landscapes here are pastoral in the classic Greco-Roman vein but also somewhat rainy and foggy (the title isn’t a lie). It really makes an interesting counterpart if you’re used to seeing the landscape of Iran from directors like Kiarostami. And he captures it so well. It’s been some time since I’ve gushed over the cinematography of a film this hard. Every cap I took was so beautiful it felt like spoiling the whole film. All around, some very excellent stuff.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by JediMoonShyne » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:17 am

jade_vine wrote:Image

Gli uomini, che mascalzoni… (1932) Mario Camerini - 7.5/10
What Scoundrels Men Are...
Società Italiana Cines, Italy, 67 min.
Camerini and De Sica were a real force. He looks so young in this one!
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

WCoF I II IIIL'EtàL'Eau한국88ShadowsBerlin thırd ISOLATIONVistaVision
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by wigwam » Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:43 pm

yay Albert Brooks!
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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Sun Apr 17, 2016 11:50 am

SO MANY MOVIES

Though recently I've been watching many more shorts than features. Since I'm busy now this will be a good chance to catch up.
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S.V.D. - Soyuz velikogo dela (1927) Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg - 7/10
S.V.D.: Union of the Great Cause
Sovkino, Soviet Union, 76 min.

This is nowhere near as advanced as The New Babylon, as its story doesn’t quite meld with its style in as beautiful a way, but you can definitely tell that the skill in montage on display here is terrific.

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Grønlandsfilmen (1928) Janus Sørensen - 7.5/10
Denmark, 32 min.

This is a silent-era travelogue/ethnographic thing, but it really does seem to be as much of a piece for art as for science. At least when there’s no intertitles or sound or anything, that’s how it comes across. Sørensen does definitely have an eye for capturing nice images. A big standout is the scene where they kill a polar bear and remove its organs.

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Daïnah la métisse (1932) Jean Grémillon - 9/10
Gaumont, France, 51 min.

Apparently Gaumont cut over a third of this movie down to its current short length, and that’s a shame because this really is one of Grémillon’s masterpieces, probably his third best in my opinion after Remorques and Maldone. Even at its current length though, it’s marvelous. He uses the theme of maritime in a way that’s similar to many other French films around this time, but this is not the tiny shacks of a Breton village, instead it is set on a ship touring the exotic colonies. Like in his best works, he makes this setting as much of a character as the characters themselves, if not more so. It’s certainly a visual achievement. Fantastic stuff, with the kind of melancholy you can typically expect of him. Much darker content than most of his in this one, but its feeling is about the same as all his others. In other words, great!

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No Greater Glory (1934) Frank Borzage - 8.5/10
Columbia Pictures Corporation, USA, 74 min.

It’s impressive how this film uses a very played up, artificial style of kids in a war scenario yet still manages to penetrate to a very honest feeling at the bottom of it all. All around, one of Borzage’s best from his best era. One can see an interesting mix of precode grit and post-code warmth and pathos.

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Mimong (1936) Yang Ju-nam - 8/10
Sweet Dream
Kyeong Sung Studio, Korea, 48 min.

This was made in Korea under the Japanese rule, and you could tell even if there weren’t Japanese subtitles burned onto the side of this print. The imagery is very similar to what was coming out in Japan at the time, and the concerns about romantic happiness set in well-to-do western style domiciles is also just like the concurrent films of Naruse and Ozu. Yang doesn’t quite work on a level that is as poetic as them, or at least is more classicist, but he makes a pretty great film here all the same.

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Raw Deal (1948) Anthony Mann - 8/10
Edward Small Productions, USA, 79 min.

The really psychological, eerie narration here is one the first things that I was immediately drawn to. With the beautiful and ominous main theme that accompanies it, the feeling of mournful, yet coolly detached recollection is already apparent. That and the grit. If I was going to pick one post-code film to compete with the grittiness and bleakness of pre-code stuff, I’m not sure it wouldn’t be this one. But you can expect that with Mann.

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Portrait of Jennie (1948) William Dieterle - 9/10
Vanguard Films, USA, 86 min

The opening of this one is quite lofty, portraying its goal as tackling philosophical questions as old and reverberating as mankind itself (my words, but its aren’t far off from those). However, it lives up to it in the best way possible, showing the relation of art to life and love. This is a perfect representation of the muse and inspiration of the artist in a way that is incredibly touching and beautiful. It is a perfect look at the fleeting beauty of the world and the role of an artist in capturing it. Loved, loved, loved this one. It may become a 9.5 in time.

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Der Fall Gleiwitz (1961) Gerhard Klein - 7.5/10
The Gleiwitz Case
Deutsche Film, East Germany, 70 min.

Apparently Riefenstahl wasn’t the only one who could make the Nazis look this stylish. But this one doesn’t use the same technique (and obviously doesn’t share the same sympathies). Rather than her grand, authoritative, monumental style, this one is reserved with a cool ease like a thriller. It clearly exists in a world where the new wave was breaking through, even if it comes from a somewhat closed-off area like East Germany. Lots of frantic shots from odd angles.

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Ruke ljubičastih daljina (1962) Sava Trifković - 7.5/10
Hands of Purple Distances
Yugoslavia, 11 min.

An interesting work of the Yugoslav Black Wave since it doesn’t have the sociopolitical transgressiveness of works like Makavejev’s and the other famous ones. This is simply a number of images creating a kind of surreal, dreamy landscape. It reminds me a lot of the earliest Brakhage films, but in a more refined way, so I like it very much.

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Vali (1967) Sheldon Rochlin - 6/10
USA, 65 min.

This hit from Mystic Fire Video is an unassuming hour-long doc about Vali, a reclusive witch/gypsy/outsider who lives alone in the mountains of southern Italy. It’s not particularly incredible, but it’s a nice hour to spend with a peculiar individual.

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Les Souffrances d'un œuf meurtri (1967) Roland Lethem - 7/10
Belgium, 15 min.

A fairly decent surrealist short thing. The last section especially has some incredibly distinctive imagery.

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La morte ha sorriso all'assassino (1973) Joe D'Amato - 7.5/10
Death Smiles on a Murderer
Dany Film, Italy, 92 min.

As in Buio Omega, D'Amato is great at shots set up with strange, unexpected angles, and here especially they suit the gothic material quite well. It’s not quite a giallo even if the story is similar, with a lot of flashbacks and revenge-driven plots. Not to mention its fair share of hot babes getting slashed up. Kinski is the perfect extra bit of goodness to top it all off. Not an all-time classic, but there’s a lot going for it.

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Les Révolutionnaires du Tchad (1976) Raymond Depardon - 7.5/10
France, 51 min.

This work apparently was what Depardon was influenced by to make La Captive du désert. You can see it, as the landscapes here are very similar and the feeling is even very similar sometimes. But this is a documentary, so the timing is less reflective of a memory or something like that. What’s interesting is that we see a female captive here who almost seems like the real life equivalent of Sandrine Bonnaire in that film. But this one speaks instead of simply letting her face and body do the talking. The later film is much better, but this provides an interesting opportunity to see where Depardon lets documentary and fiction intersect wonderfully.

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Genèse d'un repas (1978) Luc Moullet - 7/10
Les Films Luc Moullet, France, 115 min.

This is not like Moullet’s other works, as he’s exchanged the absurdist comedy for a documentary/essay style film about globalized food trade with some pretty heavy overtones. This is comparable more to the themes of someone like Godard or Marker, but his use of montage is as typical of Moullet as usual. Pretty interesting looks at the food producers around the world and their thoughts. Moullet plays an observer with a solemn respect but also a dry sense of humor, though I don’t think he quite has as much of an acute and unique voice as Godard or Marker when it comes to this kind of stuff. Overall, pretty cool, but it definitely doesn’t compare with his best works. I do think he’s better at comedies, they actually bring more deep thoughts than this does in my opinion.

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Vampire Sadism (198?) - 8/10
Japan, 39 min.

A guy in some cheesy vampire makeup kidnaps naked women and tortures them in some clearing for 40 minutes. This goes right along with Tampon Tango and Flying Sex Man in the realm of unbelievably bizarre Japanese underground pornos. This might even be the best of them. It’s certainly the most disturbing, feeling even more like a legitimate snuff film or something I could have dug out of a dumpster. It reminds me of watching Vase de Noces on a shit quality bootleg for the first time so that’s definitely high praise.

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The Wildcats of St. Trinian’s (1980) Frank Launder - 4/10
Wildcat Productions, UK, 91 min.

Some kind of forgotten UK comedy thing. Its sense of humor seems too flat to have really made an effect on me though.

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Sprout Wings and Fly (1983) Les Blank - 8/10
USA, 30 min.

If you like this kind of old-time fiddling like me you’re sure to have as great a time with this as I did. Fascinating stuff, this rural Appalachia truly seems like a place where folk traditions never die. I should definitely check out that full box set of Les Blank shorts.

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Gymkata (1985) Robert Clouse - 7/10
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, USA/Japan, 90 min.

One of the better B-action films of its type. Very well-made even with all the cheese in mind. Tetchie Agbayani is also a fine, fine piece of work.

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Postcards (1990) Mark Rappaport - 8/10
USA, 27 min.

This is only a short but it contains about as much depth as the two features by Rappaport that I saw. As usual he uses the method of contrasting people with heavily artificial environments, but this one is even further because almost every shot has a dramatic, almost surreal green screen to create the composition. The work consists of postcards between lovers away from each other, and it’s almost like the green screens add to the sense of imagining memories or their partners’ locations. It’s no coincidence that a lot of the backgrounds resemble cheap postcards. I wouldn’t say that it’s as much of a visual success as the other Rappaport films, but its imagery is all very integral to its feeling so, while it’s not my favorite, I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Sun May 01, 2016 7:26 am

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La Galerie des monstres (1924) Jaque Catelain - 7/10
Atlántida Films, Spain/France, 54 min.

L'Herbier was the producer and art director here, and that makes sense as you can tell a lot of his innovations of rapid montage and mobile camerawork are here. Overall I think some of its shots are still too stagey to work well with the rapid editing, but that’s a minor flaw and overall I really had a great time with it.

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Shinel (1926) Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg - 7/10
The Overcoat
Leningradkino, Soviet Union, 84 min.

Nice images, overall not a bad entry in these guys’ film work but I dunno if they’ll make another that measures up to The New Babylon.

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Devushka s korobkoy (1927) Boris Barnet - 7.5/10
The Girl With the Hat Box
Mezhrabpom-Rus, Soviet Union, 60 min.

Another great film from the master of these comedies which are the breezier side of Soviet silents. Very touching stuff and Anna Sten is at her best in this role (even if I missed her cute accent from The Wedding Night). Dunno what else to say, good stuff.

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Zhenshchina (1932) Efim Dzigan - 8.5/10
Woman's World
Belgoskino, Soviet Union, 64 min.

Beautiful stuff. This definitely falls in line with the other pastoral Soviet films that people like Dovzhenko perfected so well. Like him, it’s all about constructing images of country life with incredibly poignant lighting and a kind of sadness indebted in every frame in a way that is self-contained rather than dependent on some context. There’s a great mix here of the unassuming poetics of Dovzhenko and the steely power of Eisenstein. The montage isn’t quite on their level, but it’s definitely above average. The story is typical of these: praise of collectivism in farming. But when have these ever been about the story?

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Ikenie fujin (1974) Masaru Konuma - 7.5/10
Wife to Be Sacrificed
Nikkatsu, Japan, 71 min.

A very dark film, even by Konuma’s normally grim standards. It’s about a woman who is kidnapped by her ex-husband, recently out of prison after serving his time for illicit sexual relations with an underaged girl. As usual, Konuma is fantastic and creating beautiful compositions to underlie the perverse content. Sort of like the romantic evil twin of Wakamatsu’s The Embryo Hunts in Secret. He may not always win at stories, but Konuma really is one of the best at pure cinematography and lurid color out of the 70s era pinku directors.

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The California Reich (1975) Walter F. Parkes - 7.5/10
City Life Films, USA, 55 min.

A riot. This one is a look at Nazi parties in America in the 70s, but you could guess that from the title. The Nazis are stupid as you’d expect but honestly the student protestors were embarrassing too. All of it is very cringy. If you liked those Nazi and Westboro Baptist Church docs from Louis Theroux you’ll probably like this. This is probably even better though since there’s no extra narration or anything, just you listening to them talk themselves so you can kind of look at their headspace even closer.

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Les Héroïnes du mal (1979) Walerian Borowczyk - 9/10
Immoral Women
Argos Films, France, 119 min.

Another compilation of stories from Europe’s master of all things erotic, working wonderfully with a historical theme that moves from Rome in 1520 to the present day. The three are utterly beguilling and beautiful. The first goes along nicely with his The Art of Love, though it treats a Rome that is some 1500 years later. That said, it is a work all about the timeless nature of the erotic, as echoed in the frescoes from so long ago. Indeed, it is about the mistress of none other than Raphael himself, and it uses their relationship to explore the erotic women of Renaissance painting and all the beauty that goes along with that. As a lover of art history, it was naturally my favorite of the three, but the others are also fantastic. The second details a young adolescent of a rich family in Fin-de-Siècle Paris, and Borowczyk treats her as unsparingly but lovingly and tenderly as he always does. It reminds me a lot of La Bête, if with less bigfoot cock. The last one is the least of them by far but it’s also the shortest. Still, it has some very nice imagery. Maybe that should mean it should get a slightly lower rating overall but I can’t give it anything less than a 9.

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Lolita chijoku (1988) Hisayasu Satô - 8/10
Brain Sex
Shintoho Company, Japan, 62 min.

All the hallmarks of Satô are here. I’ve said them so many times I hardly think I need to spell them all out again. Technology and alienation to put it briefly. What can I say, it’s dope? It doesn’t quite have anything distinctive enough to push it into top tier but it’s pretty much everything I hope for in one of his films.

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Kurutta butokai (1989) Hisayasu Satô - 8/10
Muscle
ENK Promotion, Japan, 60 min.

Being such a big fan of Satô’s films, I was curious to see how he’d do this one, most famous for being about two homosexuals instead of the men and women he ordinarily makes films about. As another big draw, it has Coil for a soundtrack in places! That’s certainly thematically appropriate. I think there’s a lot that’s very similar to the way he portrays any other heterosexual attraction, but I think the difference here is mostly in the role of communication. This one is so much more silent, in normal scenes and in the sex acts. Maybe it’s also because he made this one outside of the pinku companies and thus didn’t have the expectation of continuing the tradition of girls going yameteeee~~ that we all know and love. I also didn’t see quite as much use of technology here, at least directly, but I did see some ways that media influences and interacts with sexuality (body building maganizes reoccur quite a bit as a prop). This is a film with the same kind of urban loneliness but the alienation isn’t quite as extreme as it will become. Overall, it’s not one of my favorite Satô films but I like it very much.

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Liulang Beijing (1990) Wu Wenguang - 7/10
Bumming in Beijing
Wu Wenguang Workshop, China, 70 min.

This in many ways seems like a precursor to films like Wang Bing’s and the other comparatively recent underground documentary works in China. However, this one has much more of a focus on interviews and I suppose more interest in individuals. It’s not quite as refined as someone like Wang, mostly just because there’s too many interviews at the expense of anything more cinematic, but the individuals here are really wonderful to be around and the view of the city is pretty ominous.

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Umagoya no reijô (1991) Hisayasu Satô - 8/10
Lady of the Stable
Shintoho Company, Japan, 58 min.

Another Satô, but a somewhat atypical one. Like his other horse-themed Horse and Woman and Dog, this one is more surreal and has a rural setting as opposed to the typical urban one. He uses a rural area as sort of a landscape that isolates its characters in their strange mind-worlds. It has a theme of telepathy, being a hint of the more science-fiction/fantastical side of Satô’s exploration. However, beneath all the strange images and scenes, the root of this one is about alienation and the eternal struggle of the individual against society, only with a particular sexual focus. I promised myself I’d get through a review of a Satô film without using the word “alienation” but it didn’t quite happen. :(

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Uwakizuma: chijokuzeme (1992) Hisayasu Satô - 8.5/10
The Bedroom
Kokuei Company, Japan, 64 min.

One of Satô’s most famous and for good reason. I didn’t look up anything about it yet but one of the names in the credits is “Issei Sagawa” so maybe it’s based in part on a story of his. That would certainly make sense at least. This is about a husband and wife which gives it a somewhat different sense of loneliness. Rather than the young, naive types he often focuses on, he instead focuses on two people here who seem to be adapting to the influence of technological modernism rather than growing up in it. This dulled, more melancholy attitude fits in well with the content, which is a lot less bloody and violent than Satô’s usual, instead indulging in a kind ennui befitting of some of the great contemplative directors, but with his own eccentricities no doubt coming through. Because of that I think it would be a great first watch for anyone trying to get into Satô. Great overall.

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Nefertiti, figlia del sole (1992) Guy Gilles - 8.5/10
Challenge, Italy/France/Russia, 68 min.

As a big lover of the ancient world, this was made for me at the outset. It uses the landscape in a wonderful way to show how the past and present are both alive and intersect. At the beginning the two merge into each other here in an uncertain way, as we cut back from a modern archaeological dig to the story of Nefertiti. After that, Egypt comes alive in a way that is profoundly alive and mysterious. Loved loved loved this.

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Alien Encounters from New Tomorrowland (1995) Andrew Thomas - 7/10
Walt Disney Television, USA, 60 min.

Crazy stuff. Apparently this was shown once on the Disney Channel and then buried. It’s funny to see something so conspiratorial on their channel. I wonder how the main execs at the company feel about this now. After all, I thought Disney was supposed to be pretty close to the eye of the reptilian pyramid lol.

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Sekai wa tokidoki utsukushii (2007) Osamu Minorikawa - 6/10
Life Can Be So Beautiful
Office Saku, Japan, 70 min.

This is a series of filmic portraits, essentially. Bits of people talking about themselves in an autobiographical way that is typical of Japanese literary poetics. This is an anthology piece so it’s naturally going to be a bit uneven, but some of them are quite wonderful. It doesn’t quite have the memory-like beauty of a Kawase Naomi film, but there’s some very classic images and words that sync with them quite pleasingly. Overall, pretty nice. The section blending images of science, religion, and Moomins was so Japanese it’s almost unbelievable.
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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Sat Jun 04, 2016 2:17 pm

It's been a bit. Lots of mediocrity. I started playing Kantai Collection and now that's all I do.
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La Bande à Bonnot (1968) Philippe Fourastié - 4/10
Bonnot's Gang
Intermondia Films, France/Italy, 110 min.

I only watched this because of Anne Wiazemsky (she’s a pretty small role anyway… booooo!!!), but it actually stars Jacques Brel and he’s fun to watch in it from time to time. Other than that though, it’s painfully dull and average. I don’t even recommend this for Wiazemsky unless you’re an absolute completist like me because she has upwards of a minute of screentime.

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In nome del padre, del figlio e della Colt (1971) Mario Bianchi - 6.5/10
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Colt
Aldebarán Films, Italy/Spain, 77 min.

With a title like that, obviously I had to do watch this one, though it’s too bad the pun of “Holy Colt” wouldn’t translate too well into Italian. According to one review I read, this film is a bit unique in that it attempts to tie genre elements from giallo and poliziotteschi, the two other most popular genres in Italy at this time. I didn’t think that would be so apparent but it really does have a style exactly like you transported a giallo/polizio hybrid to the old west. There’s some cool plusses about that for sure, as it makes it unusually gritty and sleazy for a western, even for a spag. It also makes it pretty weird and somewhat uneven stylistically though. For example, it switches from scenes of horse riding and shootouts to one of a shopkeep preparing for Halloween festivities (?? when is this movie set) with the typical giallo POV shot to one of the guy seducing the sexy girl at the center of the crime. Overall, it’s definitely a great curiosity, and I enjoyed watching it because of that, but it’s too uneven and stylistically scattershot to be a classic.

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The Urge to Kill (1988) Derek Ford - 6.5/10
Spectacular Film Productions, UK/Canada, 82 min.

The plot of this is a sleazy music producer has a computer system anthropomorphized as a girl named CECSY (“sexy” get it HURR HURR HURR) rigged through his whole house, and it gets jealous with his one-night stands. It’s nothing great but the story is fun as hell and it’s strangely entertaining. Very ahead of its time. Always pick 2D!

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The Golden Boat (1990) Raúl Ruiz - 8/10
Duende Pictures, USA/Belgium, 83 min.

An American production from Ruiz which is as strange as it sounds. I’d seen The Territory, so this wasn’t my first look at Ruiz in English (not to mention Malkovich in Time Regained), but this is set in NYC and has a much more American feeling. It’s obviously inspired by cop dramas and stuff like that. I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s in English and thus more obvious to me, but it seems more outwardly humorous than his other works. I laughed my ass off. Overall, not one of his all-time, top five best works in my opinion but it’s a great film that’s quintessentially Ruizian. I had a great time with it.

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Beasties (1991) Steven Paul Contreras - 5.5/10
Pulsar Films, USA, 83 min.

Lol, this actually starts with the GUY AND GIRL MAKING OUT IN A CAR IN THE WOODS scene. Then the car breaks down and the chick says THIS IS HAPPENING JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIES HURR DURR. That should tell you something about the quality. You might think that sounds like a generic bad movie, but then in the next scene we meet a group of goths hailing their gang leader named Osiris, some hispanic guy in a styrofoam skull cap. That proves that there’s some worthwhile stuff in here even if it doesn’t crack into the all-time best bad movie canon. The titular “beasties” (though they’re never called that in the movie) are also pretty great, hilariously shit puppets. Also there’s pretty solid gore and nudity as you can expect from a film like this, though the gore is mostly restrained to the juice all over the slimy monsters. All around, one of the better flicks of this sort I’ve seen in a while, even if it has enough dull moments that I probably won’t watch it again soon.

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Winterbeast (1991) Christopher Thies - 8/10
Mercury International Pictures, USA, 80 min.

Slogging through a thousand mediocre slashers to find something like this makes it all worthwhile. One of the weirdest movies of its kind ever made. Every piece of dialogue and scene is inexplicably “off,” like it was written by an alien. And then there are really weird attempts at claymation blended in to everything else, giving it a weirdly arcane and homemade feeling. But that makes it super entertaining, and in fact much much more eerie than many “good” horror films. Even a three-minute conversation scene all in one shot becomes really invigorating. Overall, this is pretty fantastic. Not to mention a hearty helping of tits and gore helps it have all the same pleasures as an average slasher.

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La Mémoire des anges (2008) Luc Bourdon - 6.5/10
The Memories of Angels
National Film Board of Canada, Canada, 80 min.

It’s a compilation documentary thing about the history of Montréal. It’s pretty decent, though Bourdon doesn’t quite have the poetic voice of someone like Loznitsa to make this really shine. His images seem more random and lacking in real thought, although occasionally he’ll create a really beautiful moment. We’ll see how this grows on me or not.
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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:01 pm

Hey all, even if I'm not posting reviews, the least I can do is a best-of for the month. I also added spoilers for this page because I think the obnoxious load-time has made my journal a chore in the past.

BEST OF SEPTEMBER 2016:
1. Die wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna (1929) - Hanns Schwarz
The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna
Universum Film, Germany, 102 min.

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2. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) - Leo McCarey
Paramount Pictures, USA, 91 min.

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3. Haha wa shinazu (1942) - Mikio Naruse
A Mother Never Dies
Tôhô, Japan, 104 min.

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4. Foo gwai lit che (1986) - Sammo Hung Kam-bo
Millionaires' Express
Bo Ho Film Company, Ltd., Hong Kong, 98 min.

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5. Storia di una monaca di clausura (1973) - Domenico Paolella
Story of a Cloistered Nun
Produzioni Atlas Consorziate, Italy/France/West Germany, 97 min.

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6. Mozart in Love (1975) - Mark Rappaport
USA, 99 min.

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7. Smorgasbord (1983) - Jerry Lewis
Warner Bros., USA, 89 min.

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8. Atarashiki tsuchi (1937) - Mansaku Itami & Arnold Fanck
The Daughter of the Samurai
Dr. Arnold Fanck-Film, Japan/Germany, 120 min.

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9. Tagebuch eines Liebenden (1976) - Sohrab Shahid Saless
Diary of a Lover
Provobis Film, West Germany, 92 min.

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10. Rage (1972) - George C. Scott
Getty & Fromkess Corporation, USA, 100 min.

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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:07 am

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Gan (1953) Shirô Toyoda - 8.5/10
The Mistress aka Wild Geese
Daiei Studios, Japan, 104 min.

I’m quite fond of the classic novel that this is an adaptation of, and this is the first I’ve seen from Toyoda. It is promising! He’s not quite as somber as Naruse or formally exciting as Ozu, as the work feels a bit lighter overall even with its melodrama, but he very much falls within the same style. His style evokes Ôgai’s novel well enough, though I think by transferring the period of modernization from Meiji to post-occupation, he really makes something different in feeling that distances the film from its source material. Of course this is done nicely, though modernization doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of Toyoda’s mind the way it does Ozu’s. Overall very nice. Hideko Takamine is of course perfect to play Otama.

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Mr. Arkadin (1955) Orson Welles - 7.5/10
Filmorsa, France/Spain/Switzerland, 105 min.

For something that isn’t there for much more than an excuse to create some truly marvelous setups, the plot of this is incredibly compelling. Not my favorite Welles, but one that really exemplifies his strengths.

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Onna no za (1962) Mikio Naruse - 7.5/10
A Woman's Place
Toho Company, Japan, 111 min.

Solid work form Naruse in his late period. It’s balanced a little strangely, as the first half doesn’t seem as pessimistic as some of his other works but then near the end it becomes incredibly melodramatic beyond his normal treatment. It provided a bit of unevenness in the tone, to the point where I’d call it perhaps the least of the 60s films I’ve seen so far, but every last Naruse is worth watching.

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40 gradi all'ombra del lenzuolo (1976) Sergio Martino - 6.5/10
Sex With a Smile
Medusa Distribuzione, Italy, 109 min.

First time I’ve seen a comedy from Martino, so that was quite a surprise in and of itself. These films are rarely very good though. This was a cut above the average commedia sexy, if nothing too special. But the one with Fenech was an obvious standout. It honestly made me raise the score a lot, because it was good not only for Edwige but had a great story overall, like a comedic sexy Twilight Zone. Of course some of the jokes were misses, but overall that segment was a hit. GOD DAMN Fenech is sexy in it, even with a kind of lame hairdo. The story after Fenech’s wasn’t bad either, so the second half of this really makes up for a spotty first half. The first half contains Bardot and, most surprisingly of all, Marty Feldman! It's hilarious to see him in a film like this, even if the segment he was in was a bit of a dud.

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Plätze in Städten (1998) Angela Schanelec - 7.5/10
Places in Cities
Schramm Film, Germany, 117 min.

I think Shanelec’s films really are aided by their textures and tones, so even if this rip is decent compared to the other “bad rips” I compare about, I think there’s a lot lost here. Regardless, this is still some pretty great stuff. It seems plotted minimally even compared to her other works. The mise-en-scène reflects this too, with almost Tsai-like long static images that last longer than normal Berliner Schule.
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wigwam
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by wigwam » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:25 am

Rage!
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jade_vine
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Re: Ian's Log

Post by jade_vine » Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:19 am

It was dope! I watched another favorite of yours in this batch I believe.
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Vénus aveugle (1941) Abel Gance - 7/10
Société France Nouvelle, France, 140 min.

With this, we see Gance trying his hand at an epic film (well, it’s longer than average, even if it’s not Napoléon length) with sound rather than silence. It has a great use of montage on the sea that clearly responds to traditions of maritime poetics in France at the time. And Gance can hang with the big boys at it, even if his training is in silent film that has a very different sense of time.

What I mostly noticed was an interesting shift to close-up and tilted camera angles, which he used quite a bit in his silents as well, but here he’s made them even more present. I suppose such goes with a story that is more intimate in scale. It’s cool that he takes a tradition of naval melodrama that’s normally very small in scale, but makes it so long without sacrificing the interest in a few individuals. I think the beginning of the film was most solid, but I liked it all the way through. I like that the subber of this translated part of the dialogue as “incomprehensible naval jargon” lol.

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Kiss Me Kate (1953) George Sidney - 8/10
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, USA, 109 min.

A musical at its most pure. The film itself is about the production of a musical version of Shakespeare itself, and a large portion of the film takes place in watching this performance. That makes it fascinating, as almost all of the musical numbers are “diagetic” as they take place within a play itself or within the context of practice. The play is an excuse to create a number of sumptuous sets that are rather self-created in their own artifice, almost like Perceval le Gallois or something. Very nice.

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Onna no rekishi (1963) Mikio Naruse - 8/10
A Woman's Life
Toho Company, Japan, 126 min.

Subtitles on this one were a bit off in terms of timing, but I still understood pretty much all of it. The burned-on French subtitles helped me piece together a lot of what I couldn’t get from the Japanese, even if it was quite a lot of work to deal with my mother tongue, a language I’m fairly proficient in, and a language that I can understand bits and pieces of all at once. But this is once again a great work of Naruse’s. Interestingly, despite its title, we see a bit more of the sarariman’s side of the story than is normal for Naruse, even if it’s mostly still from the perspective of the women around him. The family unit in this film too is a bit unusual and not the average nuclear family we see in some similar works, though it’s still more family-based than something like Late Chrysanthemums.

I thought some of the music in this one was a little excessive on the melodramatic side (more during this flashback scene than any other, you’ll see), but I can’t complain too much about it. In fact, there are a LOT of flashbacks that give this more of a historical situating than most Naruse films’. I think even more than a lot of others from this time, this one plays with what it means to be a modern girl in the American-influenced early 60s and the decades before. I noticed the characters using a lot more loanwords than his others, though I’m not sure if that’s just a result of me better being able to understand the Japanese.

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The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972) Martin Goldman - 7.5/10
Paramount Pictures, USA, 98 min.

I’m not expecting this to compare with the most famous in its trilogy, but it’s a fine beginning to them. I’d call it more rough around the edges than Boss Nigger, but in a way that adds to its charm. Worth it even outside of its shock title.

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Caligula et Messaline (1981) Antonio Passalia & Bruno Mattei - 7.5/10
Caligula and Messalina
Italfrance Films, Italy/France, 155 min.

You have to love these exploitation films that use the excesses of Roman rulers as an excuse for the most lavish, hedonist scenes you’ll ever see. What a slut! Cicero needs to discipline this bitch into shape. The cinematography in this one was really nice. The statues that are used expertly to frame the bedroom scenes especially sticks out in my memory. The replica statues look pretty good but wall frescoes look really cheap and it’s funny lol. Some of this was dubbed into German without subtitles but the story isn’t that hard to follow.

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La monaca di Monza (1987) Luciano Odorisio - 8/10
Devils of Monza
Clemi Cinematografica, Italy, 98 min.

Just about everything you want from a nunsploitation. What’s nice about this one too is how slowly it progresses. You really get a sense of the oppressiveness of the monastery’s atmosphere far before you see any skin. I love the nunsplo films that are fuckfests, but I also love ones like this which really take a historical, restrained approach.

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White of the Eye (1987) Donald Cammell - 9/10
Mrs. White’s Productions, USA, 110 min.

Really, really weird stuff. It obviously seems influenced by giallo traditions, but it’s set in the redneck desert of Arizona. It’s a mix of a detective thing, horror, etc. and all kinds of stuff. Really, it’s a lot like a giallo, though there isn’t much gore. Very bitter, antisocial feeling in this one. I loved it.

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Deux (2002) Werner Schroeter - 6.5/10
France 2 Cinéma, France/Germany/Portugal, 121 min.

I think the pacing of this one moves just a LITTLE fast for my taste, but overall it’s a nice transplant of Schroeter’s baroque style to something more modern and urban, though without sacrificing his great penchant for the fantastical. I liked elements of it quite a bit, even if it’s near the bottom of Schroeter’s rankings for me so far.

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Schuss! (2005) Nicolas Rey - 6.5/10
France, 123 min.

Rey with an E, not Nick Ray! Pretty interesting look at skiing through an experimental filter. What other experimental film has that Witch Doctor song in it? OO EE OO AH AH. Although I think overall this could have been compressed as Rey’s style doesn’t really suit such a length. Or rather, it would if this was more dedicated to one style and not kind of Frankensteined from a few different ones. He was at his best here filming landscapes with a still lens rather than the more diary styled stuff. I say this about every exp. film too, but I didn’t see much use for the narration either.
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