A noob's journey through cinema

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Wooley
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:19 am

Slentert wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:51 pm
Some recent (re)watches:

The Blues Brothers (1980)
Hadn't seen this in forever and honestly, it was kinda shocking to see a full-blooded comedy that looks like an actual movie. Most comedies nowadays are just strings of partially-improvised sequences and look like sitcoms with slightly more expensive sets.
The Blues Brothers will never be an absolute favorite movie but it is undeniable how this movie is able to work as a comedy, a musical and an action movie as well. It hits every beat it needs to hit. Remarkable.
It is an absolute favorite movie to me.
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Jinnistan
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Jinnistan » Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:04 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:38 pm
Gosh, will someone telling me that I'm confused over and over again make me rethink my position? Or will it just come off as lazy gaslighting?
I'm asking you to identify where I said that which you are accusing me of saying. The fortunate flaw in gaslighting is that it's much more difficult to accomplish when we have a verbatum record of the conversation. What you underlined earlier is an example of my having rejected physical standards of attraction - the basis of objectification - which you are peddling as evidence of my having expressed a preference for a physical standard and contributing to objectification. If you aren't confused, then what's your excuse? Or does the point when intent/context ceases to matter happen to conveninetly align with where an argument can no longer be supported by the textual record?

Let me explain bad faith in this context: Immediately after my first post responding to your take on Eyes Wide Shut, I sent you a PM to open a back-channel, offering you to let me know if I were to cross a line or offend you, because I am sensitive to the fact that sexual subject matter provides a minefield. It was my attempt to avoid the kind of meltdown that we've seen play out (as if it were completely predictable). For whatever reason, you chose to ignore this invitation. It's clear to me, despite your increasingly unconvincing claims that you have some kind of respect for me as a poster (after our 5-6 years of mostly genial online interactions), that our respect is not as mutual as I had assumed.

The cliche is that the Left eats its own. Twitter's circular firing squads are notorious. Despite the fact that we share a common concern in the damage caused by sexual objectification (the Bernard, Leys, Klein study I posted above provides the most substantial summary of the problem that's been posted in this discussion and I recommend everyone read it in full), I'm not immune from being tossed under the bus for the small price of ignoring any inconvenient context that stands in the way.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Jinnistan » Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:07 am

topherH wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:15 am
More black cops should shoot foreign terrorists after having an epiphany. I don't know where to go with this but, I said it.
I don't know if this is a pile on, but I'll say it again for clarity:

Black Lives Matters has a mission against the systemic dehumanization of the black community, including but not limited to a predatory culture of law enforcement.

Officer Al Powell does not represent this predatory culture.
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Takoma1
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:07 pm

Jinnistan wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:04 am
I'm asking you to identify where I said that which you are accusing me of saying. The fortunate flaw in gaslighting is that it's much more difficult to accomplish when we have a verbatum record of the conversation. What you underlined earlier is an example of my having rejected physical standards of attraction - the basis of objectification - which you are peddling as evidence of my having expressed a preference for a physical standard and contributing to objectification. If you aren't confused, then what's your excuse? Or does the point when intent/context ceases to matter happen to conveninetly align with where an argument can no longer be supported by the textual record?
You keep saying that I am confused.

But your posts are full of contradictions that things that do not make sense to me.

You say that we shouldn't shame people or have hangups about our bodies. Then you use the old "must be compensating" joke to talk about Tom Cruise's penis. But when I point this out, you just say that it's okay because Cruise will be "fine". So we can trot out shaming language when we feel like it? How can you give a little speech about being open and unashamed about talking about attraction/bodies and then use shaming language in the next breath?

I don't know how many times I made it clear that when I talked about "type", I meant pretty, thin, white women. I clarified that over and over. You're saying that you consider Kidman a different type than the other women. I've been pretty clear that, to me, they belong in the same category. There was no need to post a semi-nude photo of Kidman to prove anything. I know that the phrase "body type" can refer to build, so if my use of the phrase was confusing, okay. But I think it was really clear in several subsequent posts what I meant. I even explicitly said that I didn't consider breast size to be a distinguishing factor. I stand by saying that I don't consider Eyes Wide Shut as showing female diversity (even outside of the orgy scene).

"I like women with any sized breasts and anyway I'm more of an eyes guy" brings personal sexual preference into it, which I didn't find necessary. After reading numerous articles (among them things that talked extensively about female bodies and their distinct pubic hair), I didn't need to hear anything else about how someone regarded female bodies. So *your* context/intent was, I guess, to display rejection of typical standards, while *my* context was that I didn't need to hear another word about cup size. "I'm more of an eyes guy" is still something I find objectifying, sorry. You're welcome to disagree.
Let me explain bad faith in this context: Immediately after my first post responding to your take on Eyes Wide Shut, I sent you a PM to open a back-channel, offering you to let me know if I were to cross a line or offend you, because I am sensitive to the fact that sexual subject matter provides a minefield. It was my attempt to avoid the kind of meltdown that we've seen play out (as if it were completely predictable). For whatever reason, you chose to ignore this invitation. It's clear to me, despite your increasingly unconvincing claims that you have some kind of respect for me as a poster (after our 5-6 years of mostly genial online interactions), that our respect is not as mutual as I had assumed.
This isn't a meltdown. This is an argument. And there's a difference. No one is slinging around ad hominems. No one is rage quitting or sending nasty PMs. I'm not fuming or worked up.

If you're implying that I'm so delicate that you were trying to help *me* avoid a meltdown, I'm not sure what to say to that. I'm not a fragile little flower. I work two jobs, and both of them involve confronting some pretty intense things that happen to children and adults. Am I highly sensitive? Yes. It is my strength and my kryptonite. If I get frustrated sometimes because of the frequency of sexualized posts/comments on this site, it's because this is one of the things I do to relax and it's annoying when the garbage I'm trying to leave behind pops up here. I would have said the same things in a PM as I've said here. The only misgivings I have about having this conversation in this thread is that I'm sure Slentert is like "SIGH".
The cliche is that the Left eats its own. Twitter's circular firing squads are notorious. Despite the fact that we share a common concern in the damage caused by sexual objectification (the Bernard, Leys, Klein study I posted above provides the most substantial summary of the problem that's been posted in this discussion and I recommend everyone read it in full), I'm not immune from being tossed under the bus for the small price of ignoring any inconvenient context that stands in the way.
I don't think that "Please think twice about if posting sexualized comments/images is necessary to the conversation" is putting someone in front of a firing squad. Asking someone to reflect on their words or how they might be perceived by someone else isn't tossing someone under the bus.

Two people can have views that generally align but disagree on where to draw certain lines. You seem too think that it was appropriate to post that photo, and I don't. My friends and I had a huge debate a while back about whether or not it is appropriate to allow children to role play as minority groups to which they don't belong. And I was on the "less progressive" side of that argument because I allow my students to role play as slaves or Native Americans when we have debates or do other exercises where we consider multiple viewpoints.

My stance that, to an extent, context doesn't matter is the way I feel about films and about posts here. I've had a similar conversation with Wooley about the "satirical" use of nudity in Slumber Party Massacre. He thinks it works and is meta and generates discomfort, and I disagree. I'm willing to assume good intentions in what you said and posted (the photo maybe not so much), and it doesn't change my general reaction to it.
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Stu
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Stu » Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:56 pm

Jinnistan wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:44 am
It's less and less surprising to see all of things I haven't said.

But, hey, let's blame the black guy on BLM grounds for shooting....I'm sorry, what was the race of the kid? We're just all making this shit up as we go along?
Yes, because one of the core beliefs of BLM is that police brutality isn't a problem if the officer involved is black, and it also doesn't matter if the victim isn't black as well.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Jinnistan » Mon Nov 25, 2019 12:58 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:07 pm
"I'm more of an eyes guy" is still something I find objectifying, sorry. You're welcome to disagree.
Thank you. I guess I'll just have to agree with all of these social psychologists instead.


Takoma1 wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:07 pm
No one is slinging around ad hominems.
You accused me of gaslighting you. We're beyond civility at this point.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:13 pm

Nobody's Business (1996)

Great, rather short (less than an hour) documentary. where director Alan Berliner tries to interview his father about his family history, who in his turn maintains there is nothing worth noting about them. There is this really interesting tension between a son trying his damn hardest to express his love and interest in his father's life, and old man Berliner who refuses to accept this sign of affection from his son. Oscar Berliner is at a point in his life where he lost any kind of curiosity or will to change his way of thinking, yet it would be inaccurate to call him bitter. He clearly loves his children and grandchildren, and seems somewhat content with how is life is now, despite certain losses and disappointments that are inevitable when you've lived a long life. He just seems afraid to get hurt once he might open up.

What could've easily been an unremarkable piece of navelgazing, is able to achieve a certain sense of universal resonance.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:10 am

Jinnistan wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 12:58 pm
You accused me of gaslighting you. We're beyond civility at this point.
We weren't seeing eye to eye on a point and you over and over and over again used the word "confused" to describe me. (You also called me "glib" , said that I was "projecting", said "Any misconstrual issues you took away from my comments are not my fault," and maybe said I was having a meltdown--though perhaps you were applying that word to the situation as a whole).

It never seemed to occur to you that the way you expressed yourself might have been the problem. I DO think that it's lazy, when someone doesn't understand you (or, to be more specific, isn't taking the message from your words that you want them to), to just repeat over and over that they must be confused. Looking at a woman's face instead of her body (especially when she's doing something like sports reporting) is of course more humanizing. But I don't think that's conveyed in what you wrote.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri Nov 29, 2019 11:14 pm

The Irishman (2019, Scorsese)

Joe Pesci in this movie gives one of my favorite performances of the year. Not to take anything away from De Niro and Pacino, who are undoubtedly great, but both of them don't do anything we didn't already know they were capable of, where Pesci plays a bit against type here. His Russell Bufalino is so controlled, calm and soft-spoken. He is able to give the impression that he carefully selects every word before he opens his mouth, giving everything he says that little bit of extra weight. He almost appears friendly, compassionate even, but deep down you know this is not a guy you want to turn against you. A nice diversion from what you would expect him to do in a Scorsese gangster picture.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:06 am

How would The Irishman hypothetically rank for someone who is not so enamoured with Scorcese's later career work? I love Shutter Island and Wolf of Wall Street but struggle to appreciate much since Goodfellas.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:35 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:06 am
How would The Irishman hypothetically rank for someone who is not so enamoured with Scorcese's later career work? I love Shutter Island and Wolf of Wall Street but struggle to appreciate much since Goodfellas.
I have the same question. I've struggled with most of his modern work, is this movie a throwback to his great work or just another chapter in his modern catalogue?
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:18 pm

I have not seen all of Scorsese's work, but I think it's much better than Shutter Island or The Departed, maybe not as good as something like Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese's mob movies aren't my favorite by his anyhow I prefer stuff like Taxi Driver, After Hours, The Age of Innocence... Would still fully recommend The Irishman because it's a really good movie, even though it probably won't crack my top 10 of 2019.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Stu » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:57 am

I haven't seen everything I want that Scorsese's made over the last 30 years (or from before then, to be honest, though I did go out of my way to check out Who's That Knocking At My Door?, of all things, for the New Hollywood thread), but it's still definitely the best thing I've seen him make since Goodfellas, which, like so many other people, is one of my all-time favorites, so that should give you some idea of how much I loved The Irishman. But, to go off on a bit of a tangent here, I'm happy to see the online pushback against people complaining about Peggy's lack of lines to Frank, because maybe the fact that he's distant to his family and she's giving him the cold, judgemental shoulder throughout the film is the whole point of their relationship? Because, speaking as an extremely proud, die-hard political progressive, that entire talking point feels like nothing more than keyboard crusaders trying to score "woke" points to fuel the never-ending cycle of online outrage, and quite possibly contributing to a culture that made garbage like this one of the most popular reviews of Mean Streets on Letterboxd, because there's absolutely no good reason why a film primarily set in mobbed-up dive bars in Little Italy should be male-oriented, and there's certainly no significant, three-dimensional female presence in that film at all, no siree...

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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:27 pm

Does anyone here have any experience with the works of Hal Hartley?
I caught a rep screening of Simple Men last week and I needed about 15 minutes to adjust to his very specific style, after that I really started to enjoy myself, and after the Kool Thing-sequence I fell in love. Watched Trust today and that one was great as well. Hartley's characters are so eccentric and distant that you can barely consider them as actual human beings but for some reason I find them to be unbelievably relatable. Like, the tone of his movies is so artificial yet completely sincere, I don't know how he is able to pull that off.
Some people might find him somewhat pretentious, and he possibly is, but he has a nice sense of humor to back it up with, I was nearly rolling on the floor with laughter when watching Simple Men with an audience.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by crumbsroom » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:33 pm

Slentert wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:27 pm
Does anyone here have any experience with the works of Hal Hartley?
I caught a rep screening of Simple Men last week and I needed about 15 minutes to adjust to his very specific style, after that I really started to enjoy myself, and after the Kool Thing-sequence I fell in love. Watched Trust today and that one was great as well. Hartley's characters are so eccentric and distant that you can barely consider them as actual human beings but for some reason I find them to be unbelievably relatable. Like, the tone of his movies is so artificial yet completely sincere, I don't know how he is able to pull that off.
Some people might find him somewhat pretentious, and he possibly is, but he has a nice sense of humor to back it up with, I was nearly rolling on the floor with laughter when watching Simple Men with an audience.
I generally don't like Hartley type comedies, where everyone is overly eloquent and seems to have practiced what they were going to say that day before leaving the house. So I do have prejudices against his style. But I do think I liked one, maybe Unbelievable Truth, and might have liked anothrr, Henry Fool.

But it is also possible I hated Henry Fool. I can't really remember.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:52 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:33 pm
I generally don't like Hartley type comedies, where everyone is overly eloquent and seems to have practiced what they were going to say that day before leaving the house. So I do have prejudices against his style. But I do think I liked one, maybe Unbelievable Truth, and might have liked anothrr, Henry Fool.

But it is also possible I hated Henry Fool. I can't really remember.
You see, usually that stuff bothers me, but since I don't view his characters as actual human beings, it works perfectly for me.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Jinnistan » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:04 pm

Fowl Fartley. Aims for artier Jarmusch and hits like refried DeCillo. I hated Henry Fool because it was the last straw for me.

But Amateur does have Elina Lowensohn and Isabelle Huppert. So that one.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Jan 01, 2020 6:49 pm

YEAR-IN-REVIEW 2019


For most of the duration of 2019 I thought it wasn’t a really good year for movies (not that the rest of 2019 was all that great in comparison, but we don’t need to get too deep into that). Some of my most anticipated movies of the year ended up being my biggest disappointments, like Us (a prime example of how a movie can become a whole lot less exciting once you start explaining what should be left to the imagination), Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (I honestly feel like this is Tarantino’s worst movie, until now at least) or Border (I still don’t understand how a movie this odd could feel so conventional in the way it builds its story). Several movies I was patiently awaiting ended up not coming out this year, or at least not outside of the festival circuit, like Fabrice Du Welz’ Adoration or Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta, which got postponed for the second year in a row.

I also attended the second edition of the Brussels International Film Festival this summer, but wound up feeling mostly neutral about the majority of films I saw there, aside from a few exceptions I will go into later. The movies weren’t particularly bad, they weren’t particularly good, they were just there, and I forgot about them almost immediately. Not a fun place to be in, I can tell you, I prefer having a passionate hatred for something rather than feeling nothing at all. At least when it comes to animosity, you are left with something to think (and write) about.

I usually like to have at least one popcorn or action movie in my top 10 every year, so I can prove to my friends that I’m not a completely joyless film snob. I initially hoped John Wick 3 would fulfill that purpose for me this time around, but I ended up being rather disappointed by that installment in a series I otherwise love, despite it giving us one of the greatest fight sequences of the entire franchise. But then I also need to admit that I haven’t seen most of what the multiplex had to offer this year, because barely anything really piqued my interest. So, who knows, perhaps Terminator: Dark Fate or Frozen 2 would've cracked the list if I actually went out of my way and saw them.

It should be noted that, because I live in Belgium, I haven’t seen a lot of the movies everyone is going crazy about this year, for the simple reason that they didn’t got released in my country in 2019. Therefore, the way I experienced the past year is already different than that of most, so calling it a bad year for movies would be unfair and simply untrue. Perhaps there weren’t a lot of movies this year that meant something personal to me, yet there was a lot of interesting cinema scattered over the year, if you knew where to look. I steadily left my cinematic comfort zone this year, branching out over a wide range of genres and countries. Which is why my list of favorites this year is noticeably more arthouse-heavy than in the years prior.

So, let’s get on with my favorites of the year, won’t we?


The Top 10 of 2019


As always, an important disclaimer, I follow Belgian release dates for this list. Most of the times, they don’t differ too much from when they get released around the rest of the world, but occasionally you will have the odd one out that will make you go “wait a minute, didn’t that one come out in 2018?”. Yes, for you it did, but not for me.


10. The Lighthouse


Robert Egger’s highly anticipated follow-up to his 2015 debut feature The Witch does not disappoint, in fact I believe it even surpasses its predecessor in many ways, though The Lighthouse is by no means a perfect film. I found it to be a somewhat frustrating watch at first, repetitive almost, where a lot of the confrontations between Dafoe’s and Pattinson’s characters just felt like variations of the same conflicts. It took me a while before I could fully embrace this concept of a lost in time purgatory it was going for, but I found it ultimately to be highly rewarding

There is a level of uncertainty while watching this movie. The real and unreal are shot indistinguishably so that you’re only left to guess which one is which, you get so obsessed with all these small little details the movie is layered with until you just give in to the primal madness it has to offer. At the end of it you become just as loopy as the movie’s main (and in fact only) characters.

In the end, I don’t know if The Lighthouse really amounts to much, in many ways it feels like empty yet cool arthouse posturing, but it does deliver a certain sensory experience that we get far too few of in theaters lately, which is why I’m willing to give it the number 10 spot on this list, it offers something I don’t see too often and will stay with me.


9. So Long, My Son


This 3-hour epic of a movie tells the story of several people who experienced long-lasting damage because of China’s decades-long one-child-policy, but mostly focuses on the couple Yaojun Liu (Jingchun Wang) and Liyun Wang (Mei Yong), who lost their only son in a drowning accident. It shatters their life, and every personal relationship they have. Director Xiaoshuai Wang tells this story in a non-linear structure, throwing us from one emotional state into another, spread over several decades. Yet he doesn’t rely too much on big, Oscar-stealing emotional outburst, it’s what is left unspoken that lingers on, like all of this is too painful to dwell over. Especially Jingchun Wang conveys this notion of repressed sorrow perfectly, in what is definitely one of the finest, and sadly most under-discussed, performances of the year. But everyone in this gives a very natural and empathy-generating performance, selling the somewhat contrived plot developments that occasionally occur. That the story is presented in such a restrained, neutral style, makes it able to hold back some of its more blatantly melodramatic tendencies.

Unfortunately, the movie suffers from the Return of the King-syndrome: it just keeps on ending. It tries too hard to wrap everything up rather neatly, it somewhat lessens the powerful impact of everything that came before. Its nearly desperate attempt to add some closure for these characters almost rings false. Yet, it can’t be denied that the movie as a whole is just an emotional sucker punch, making you want to sit a little while longer in the dark empty theater once the credits start to roll.


8. Sunset


Laszlo Nemes follow-up to his widely praised and award-winning debut film, Son of Saul, certainly lives up to the reputation of its predecessor, and on a good day I might even call it the better movie of the two, though that might just be because I saw this one in the theater and I didn’t have that experience with Son of Saul. Set in Budapest, at that time considered to be “the heart of Europe”, on the eve of World War I, 20-year-old Irisz Leiter arrives in the Hungarian capital after spending most of her youth in an orphanage, hoping to find employment in the legendary hat store that used to belong to her late parents. Not everyone is initially happy to see her, and soon she discovers how her family history didn’t exactly play out the way it was always told to her.

Nemes continues the style and tone he already established in his previous movie, where the camera, and therefore the audience, is constantly breathing down the protagonist’s neck, permanently amping up the tension, until all the anxiety becomes plainly suffocating. You could almost call it a horror movie in that sense.

Unlike most Hollywood movies, Nemes doesn’t hold the audience’s hand while the story unfolds, rather throws them in at the deep end without offering any kind of context or guidance. He portrays the time period and its environment as a living and breathing world, as if you as a viewer are actually living it instead of reading about it in a book. History as an experience, not a dull, dead object you can safely study and observe in a museum.


7. Sophia Antipolis

I usually hate it when critics use certain phrases along the lines of “The perfect movie for the Trump Era!”, which more often than not just means that a certain movie vaguely resembles a specific contemporary issue that is in fact a lot more timeless than would be convenient to acknowledge (like with The Post) or even worse, shows a deep misunderstanding of the current moment and what the movie itself is actually talking about (like with Get Out). Just so you know that I’m rather hesitant to say that I thought Sophia Antipolis “spoke to our times”. Writing that sentence alone makes me feel embarrassed in fact. But I truly believe Virgil Vernier’s latest captures the collective feeling that humanity, and the world it’s inhabiting, is on the wrong track and perhaps might come to an end one of these days. It’s a feeling that is shared by the furthest of both the left and the right, though all of them have different reasons for thinking so and deeply contrasting ideas about what might be the best possible solutions.

It’s one of the few things the characters in Sophia Antipolis have in common, this thought that civilization is coming to an end, to some capacity at least. Some believe that we're heading off into a literal apocalypse, others are talking about a moral downfall of society rather, and for a few it’s their own personal world that is going to collapse. How to deal with this sense of fatalism is different for all of them. Some of them join a cult, other characters resort to vigilantism. Perhaps they want to save the world they laid to waste or are they just trying to have a good deed to their names when the Judgment Day comes? Do they want to save other people or most of all themselves? The movie doesn’t provide a cut-clear answer and prefers to just observe these characters and the world they inhabit, without clearly judging any of them.

Sophia Antipolis is a very dreamy movie, which is not the same as dreamlike. It is clearly rooted in reality, the titular Sophia Antipolis is in fact a real place in France, but also seems to exist in this kind of waking state. All of it feels like a distant dream, yet there is a certain sense of naturalism to the story and the performances, which are all delivered by non-professional actors. This is probably the kind of movie where, when people get a chance to see it, they might think I’m crazy for considering it one of the 10 best movies of the year but I found it to be a unique experience, both comforting and discerning, and it has only creeped up on me as time went on.



6. I Lost My Body


A severed hand escapes from a morgue so he can reconcile with his lost body. It’s a rather bizarre premise that becomes unexpectedly moving and completely enthralling in Jérémy Clapin’s debut feature. Animated movies this decade have already made us care for a bunch of children’s toys, a giant red turtle, and even a simple stick figure, so it should come to no surprise that the medium can make us empathize with a deposed limb. I swear I’m not lying when I say that seeing that chopped off hand’s odyssey through the slums of Paris, fighting his way through all possible dangers, is the tensest theatrical experience I had in all 2019. I was legitimately biting my finger nails during those moments, and I wasn’t the only person in the theater with that response. Roger Ebert was right; movies truly are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts.

Of course, the hand isn’t only character in the movie, the titular “body” it belongs to plays a pretty important part as well. That body is Naoufel, a young guy who was kind of jinxed from the get-go. After losing both his parents in a car accident at a very young age, he emigrates from Morocco to France where he grows up with his uncaring uncle and his jock cousin. He works as a pizza delivery guy in Paris, a job he won’t be keeping for long since he always shows up late, when one night he “meets” customer Gabrielle, who he thinks he has some connection with, despite only talking to her through an intercom. This encounter gives him an incentive to take his life in another direction, and he will do everything he can to meet her again.

Naoufel is a nice diversion of the “loveable loser” archetype that usually dominates the animated film genre, because he can be somewhat of a dick, doesn’t always have a clear sense of what is appropriate and what not, and his romantic endeavors are quite creepy when you think about it clearly, which the movie does call him out on in fact. If you want, you can look at I Lost My Body as a sort of coming-of-age tale of a young man trying to find himself, illustrated by a limb literally having to find the body it belongs to. The movie is based on a novel called Happy Hand, written by co-screenwriter of Amélie, Guillaume Laurant, who described his own story as “an eastern fairy tale à la française about two lives that are connected to each other but are separated from each other by fate and reconcile after going their own parallel ways”. He did a far better job than I did, and needed far fewer words.




5. The Irishman


Scorsese’s latest is one of those movies that has really been talked to death only a few weeks after its release, and most of what has been said about it wasn’t really worth hearing in the first place. It’s a great movie that has been diminished by a seemingly unending supply of unfunny memes and hot takes by people who were clearly not willing to engage with the work in any kind of good faith, leaving the actual fans of the movie to become its apologists, having to overpraise every aspect of it just to somewhat overpower the noise of all the ill-informed opinions out there.

The Irishman isn’t a perfect movie. It didn’t even make this list after my initial viewing of it. But the second time I watched it, disconnected from any prior expectations I might’ve had, it hit me like a wall of bricks. Any objections I had towards the first half of the movie didn’t really matter anymore. Its central themes of regret and irrevocability were already apparent on the first viewing, but it was only upon this re-watch that it all clicked for me the way it should.

The Irishman feels kind of like a farewell of these greats. I'm fully aware this is not the last movie Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino or Keitel will ever make (I'm not sure about Pesci though). But this is most likely the last time they're all together in the same picture, and soon, we will have to say goodbye to them for good. And I'm not sure if I'm ready to let go off these people whose art has meant so much to me.
I have never cried because of a celebrity dying. I'm not about that. But there is always a certain sense of sadness upon the realization that I will never see any new work by these artists once they passed away. Once they’re gone, a certain era of filmmaking will go with them as well, and the fact that this last reunion is a Netflix Original, only cements that fact. Just like Frank Sheeran, I have difficulties with things being so final.



4. The Beach Bum


Harmony Korine’s latest is deeply hilarious and seemingly goes nowhere in between. The trailer gave me the impression of a certain kind of redemption story, where Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) finds some sort of spiritual awakening and is able to better his life once cut off of his seemingly unending supply of money, drugs, women and alcohol. That is not the case. The Beach Bum finds most of its humor in showing the sheer decadence of these rich, privileged people that inhabit this surreal hangover of a movie. Moondog in this movie is a textbook example of someone failing upwards, who, when he goes on his illustrious odyssey through the realms of Miami, learns nothing in the process, does whatever the fuck he wants, and eventually gets rewarded for this. Moondog is like a cute, untrained puppy, the kind that people applaud because he only pooped on the stone floor instead of the expensive carpet. Korine seems to suggests that if you’re rich and confident enough of your own genius, people will tolerate everything you do and even praise you for it. He’s probably right about that.

This might sound like I was somewhat offended by this movie, which I certainly am not. In fact, I ended leaving the theater with some kind of admiration for the extravagant lead character. I envy how he has seemingly found peace in this crazy, empty world, only allowing whatever brings him joy into his own personal bubble. "I’m a reverse paranoid. I’m quite certain the world is conspiring to make me happy." he says with a smile. Can you even imagine ever having such a carefree attitude towards everything in life? You could almost call The Beach Bum a perverse kind of feel good movie. It’s also so goddamn funny.



3. Parasite


This is one of the most widely lauded, awarded and discussed movies of the year, to the point that even my grandmother, who is otherwise completely oblivious when it comes to contemporary cinema, had heard of this South-Korean movie that just hit theaters. Singing its praises almost seems unnecessary and perhaps even somewhat blasé. But it can’t be denied that Parasite was probably the most fun I’ve experienced in a theater with a 2019 movie.

Bong Joon-Ho doesn't share his voice through style as much as he does through his use of tone. Precise yet unafraid, he takes gigantic leaps with this story that in the hands of a less masterful filmmaker would render the entire movie as ridiculous. He keeps setting up narrative expectations, then simultaneously meeting them and undermining them. It’s quite a feat.

Bong ditches the science fiction elements that have defined his most recent work for something more grounded, without losing any of his eccentricity however, I would even go as far as saying that Parasite is a war more entertaining movie than both Snowpiercer and Okja were, while being a far more clever critique on class warfare as well. Despite all the praise he and his movie already received, I honestly think that Bong doesn’t get enough credit for the nuance it brings to this tale of class-struggle, which is far less simplistic than most people would like you to believe. There isn’t as clear a moral division between right and wrong as there was in a movie like Snowpiercer, and the movie becomes all the more interesting for it.



2. The Favourite


Yorgos Lanthimos is one of those incredibly rare, “non-English” arthouse directors who not only survived their transition to the language of the Bard, but arguably started making his best work from that point on. The Lobster is one of my favorite movies of this decade, a cold, absurdist masterpiece, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer is almost at the same level, both profoundly hilarious as deeply unsettling, my ideal kind of horror comedy. The Favourite is a bit more mainstream than anything he has made before, especially compared to his early Greek ones, being basically a work-for-hire this time around, his first time directing someone else’s script, one that has been shopped around since 1998 no less, but still undeniably carries the signature of the Greek director. Where in his previous movies characters acted like aliens impersonating what they perceived human beings were like, this feels much more grounded and is even based on real life events, yet that doesn’t mean Lanthimos typical sadistic sense of humor is lacking, far from it. And there were never any more perfect “victims” for his trademark sardonic approach than the 18th Century monarch Queen Anne and her confidants.

Olivia Colman's Queen Anne is an ill-tempered ruler who, not unlike certain notable contemporary celebrities, was raised in a little bubble. As such, she never had to actually care for herself, or others for that matter, and her emotional maturity is that of a petulant teenage girl at her best and that of a whimpering toddler at her worst. This makes her the perfect pawn to be manipulated by Rachel Weisz’ Lady Sarah and later in the movie Emma Stone’s Abigail, who both use friendship and sex to gain that what they perceive is their natural birth right. Several power dynamics are being played out throughout the movie until everyone is left unsatisfied, even those who obtained what they thought they wanted.

Breaking through the usual mold of stuffiness and dusty use of language that customarily dominates the award-appropriate period-piece dramas, The Favourite is vulgar and explosive, featuring vomiting aristocrats and indoor duck hunting. It is Downtown Abbey meets Jersey Shore. The movie is so undeniable modern in its approach, it makes what would otherwise be basically award-bait material feel actually dangerous. Lanthimos keeps challenging his inner Peter Greenaway, and I couldn’t be happier about it.



1. High Life


Claire Denis’ latest was undeniably my favorite movie I saw all year, it has been sitting comfortable in that position since I saw it originally back in March, but I have been dreading to write anything about it for almost the entire year. It’s unbelievably difficult to find the right words to describe what it is I love about this movie.
There are movies that move you, movies that make you laugh, movies that fright you but the kind of movies I prefer are the ones that leave you in awe. The kind of movies that show you something you haven’t seen before or that make you feel something that you have never experienced before, even if you can’t define what that is exactly. There is stuff in High Life that didn’t exactly work for me entirely, but the majority of it is such an overwhelming, sensory experience that has stuck with me for almost the entire year.

The plot of High Life jumps back and forth all the time, from Monte (Robert Pattinson) his life back on earth to his life as a crew member of a spaceship on what is basically a suicide mission to extract energy from a black hole. Everyone involved is a criminal sentenced to death, who all opted serve their time and most likely die in space instead of the death penalty, presumably for the sake of serving some kind of greater good, even though the chances of their mission succeeding are negligibly small. There is also a small side project going on with Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche) who uses all “prisoners” as guinea pigs to see if it is possible to conceive a child in space. Sexual intercourse between the subjects is prohibited however.

The movie is book-ended by two large segments of Monte and his baby daughter, or so we assume initially, when they are both the last remaining survivors of this undertaking. Every night, Monte has to send out his report to the authorities back at earth. When he does that, the ship will expend his energy supply for another 24 hours, until he is obligated to repeat all of this the following night just so he can survive the day after that. Because his ship is so far removed from the base at home, his messages only reach those in power with a 3-year delay. The whole ordeal is basically useless, but Monte does everything he can to remain alive, even if it is just to postpone his death one day at a time. Being a parent can alter your priorities on staying alive.
Claire Denis carefully captures this sensation of slowly running out of oxygen until the very last second. It makes its closing image feel like both an immense relief and somewhat of a defeat.



No year-in-review is complete however without some honorable mentions. Because of that, here is a list of 10 other titles that are also worth your time:


The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg)
This movie could’ve probably made my top 10 if I saw it a second time, now it has to settle with the unofficial eleventh spot. It’s a frustrating, delicate movie that definitely creeps up on you.

Bacurau (Juliano Dornelles & Kleber Mendonça Filho)
A cerebral arthouse film that at its heart is in fact a full-blooded exploitation flick. Perhaps it tries a little bit too hard to appeal to a western audience, but it is really impressive in how the movie is able to make certain genre tropes feel fresh and unique again.

Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach)
A dire indictment of how capitalism will fuck you over, take away all your strength and energy and eventually leaves you beaten up on the sidewalk, with piss all over you. A typical day in the life of Ken Loach.

In Fabric (Peter Strickland)
Funny, pretentious, gorgeous to look at, with a great atmosphere, the kind of horror movies I really enjoy. Probably would’ve made my top 10 if it were solely focused on Marianne Jean-Baptiste's character.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma)
Besides Parasite, this is probably the other most acclaimed movie of the year. I’m probably somewhat underrating this one, I think it got so overhyped with me to the extent that there was no way it could ever live up to that level of anticipation.

Minding the Gap (Bing Liu)
Everything about this movie is very personal to the filmmaker himself, which is why it is so captivating in the first place, but on certain aspects he seems almost too close to what he is portraying, and his blindsides to some of it become obvious. Still a rather moving and heartfelt documentary.

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham)
Perhaps a bit trope-heavy, but we rarely ever get a high school movie these days that truly gets today’s youth and doesn’t feel like a middle-aged man’s sexed-up fantasy of what highschoolers are like nowadays.

Ray & Liz (Richard Billingham)
Well-known photographer and artist Richard Billingham seemingly build a time machine to transport us back to his own rotten childhood during Thatcher-era Britain. A blackly comedic and rather poignant slice-of-life story that might appeal to the fans of Terrence Davies’ The Long Day Closes.

Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke)
A humanistic gangster drama set against the ever-changing landscape of contemporary China. Zhào Tāo is absolutely magnetic in the leading role.

Supa Modo (Likarion Wainaina)
Cute without being cutesy. Supa Modo avoids coming across as sappy or corny by being completely earnest, which is why it will affect adults just as much as it will children, perhaps even more so.



And because I always enjoy myself more when watching and discovering cinema from the past, here are 25 older movies that I watched for the first time in 2019 that I absolutely loved. Seasoned film lovers will already have watched most if not all of the movies mentioned here, I guess I’m just late to the party.
The titles are in alphabetical order because I didn’t really feel like ranking them. My absolute favorite discovery out of all of these however is undoubtedly Dog Day Afternoon. One of those rare, undeniably perfect movies where I wouldn’t want to change a thing, not even the smallest line delivery.

A Man Escaped (1956, Robert Bresson)
Bringing out the Dead (1999, Martin Scorsese)
Days of Being Wild (1990, Wong Kar-Wai)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975, Sidney Lumet)
Full Contact (1992, Ringo Lam)
In the Mood for Love (2000, Wong Kar-Wai)
Memories of Murder (2003, Bong Joon-Ho)
My Man Godfrey (1936, Gregory La Cava)
Opening Night (1977, John Cassavetes)
Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell)
Point Blank (1967, John Boorman)
Robin and Marian (1976, Richard Lester)
Simple Men (1992, Hal Hartley)
Sonatine (1993, Takeshi Kitano)
Sunrise (1927, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau)
The Big Heat (1953, Fritz Lang)
The Devils (1971, Ken Russell)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976, John Cassavetes)
The Last Detail (1973, Hal Ashby)
The Masque of the Red Death (1964, Roger Corman)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940, Ernst Lubitsch)
The Thing (1982, John Carpenter)
The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed)
Trust (1990, Hal Hartley)
Vampyr (1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Jan 01, 2020 6:50 pm

I basically copy-pasted what I wrote on my blog but I thought I'd save you guys the click, this might be more convenient if you have any comments or something like that.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:06 am

Wow, you had a great year of cinema!

I just watched I Lost My Body over Christmas break and thought that it was really powerful. I liked the discussion of fate versus choosing our own path. I liked that the film was sympathetic to all of the characters, including, as you say, not letting the main character off the hook for his inappropriate behavior toward his love interest. It left me with a lot to think about and I felt like the ending hit just the right notes.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:34 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:06 am
Wow, you had a great year of cinema!
I had! I still can't believe it took me this long to watch The Thing! But I bought it on blu-ray the other day so I can't wait to watch it many times more.
Takoma1 wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:06 am
I just watched I Lost My Body over Christmas break and thought that it was really powerful. I liked the discussion of fate versus choosing our own path. I liked that the film was sympathetic to all of the characters, including, as you say, not letting the main character off the hook for his inappropriate behavior toward his love interest. It left me with a lot to think about and I felt like the ending hit just the right notes.
I had such a big emotional response to that movie. I'm glad you share the same sentiment.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:54 am

Slentert wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:34 am
I had such a big emotional response to that movie. I'm glad you share the same sentiment.
My mom and I watched it together and then when we tried to discuss/analyze it the next day we just both ended up crying.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:43 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:54 am
My mom and I watched it together and then when we tried to discuss/analyze it the next day we just both ended up crying.
Someone mentioned that film in a podcast I listened and I was very intrigued by it. I will have to check it out.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 02, 2020 7:58 pm

Slentert wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 6:49 pm
YEAR-IN-REVIEW 2019
4. The Beach Bum


Harmony Korine’s latest is deeply hilarious and seemingly goes nowhere in between. The trailer gave me the impression of a certain kind of redemption story, where Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) finds some sort of spiritual awakening and is able to better his life once cut off of his seemingly unending supply of money, drugs, women and alcohol. That is not the case. The Beach Bum finds most of its humor in showing the sheer decadence of these rich, privileged people that inhabit this surreal hangover of a movie. Moondog in this movie is a textbook example of someone failing upwards, who, when he goes on his illustrious odyssey through the realms of Miami, learns nothing in the process, does whatever the fuck he wants, and eventually gets rewarded for this. Moondog is like a cute, untrained puppy, the kind that people applaud because he only pooped on the stone floor instead of the expensive carpet. Korine seems to suggests that if you’re rich and confident enough of your own genius, people will tolerate everything you do and even praise you for it. He’s probably right about that.

This might sound like I was somewhat offended by this movie, which I certainly am not. In fact, I ended leaving the theater with some kind of admiration for the extravagant lead character. I envy how he has seemingly found peace in this crazy, empty world, only allowing whatever brings him joy into his own personal bubble. "I’m a reverse paranoid. I’m quite certain the world is conspiring to make me happy." he says with a smile. Can you even imagine ever having such a carefree attitude towards everything in life? You could almost call The Beach Bum a perverse kind of feel good movie. It’s also so goddamn funny.
Man, I also liked the movie a good bit, but I took away NONE of what you took.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:51 pm

Wooley wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 7:58 pm
Man, I also liked the movie a good bit, but I took away NONE of what you took.
I know, I've think we had a similar discussion about this a few months ago.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:15 pm

Slentert wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:51 pm
I know, I've think we had a similar discussion about this a few months ago.
Right, I couldn't remember if that was you, sorry.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:34 pm

Don't worry, I don't expect you to remember every single encounter you had on this forum. :)
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:08 am

Slentert wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:34 pm
Don't worry, I don't expect you to remember every single encounter you had on this forum. :)
Heh. Thanks.
I do remember the conversation, though, I saw it as him triumphing entirely by being true to himself, regardless of how that self seemed to the rest of the world, and then dancing on the ashes of that triumph because that's a part of his self.
The fact that he
burns all the money and the boat in the end was not an act of the hedonism of the wealthy, it said to me that money was never a necessary part of his world, even though it was all around him, it was just there like the wallpaper and he could just as easily do without it.
Not that we need to repeat this conversation.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:50 pm

Deep End (1970, Jerzy Skolimowski)

Like a real world version of something like Rushmore, where the horny precocious teen gets exposed for the total creep he is and will grow up to become. Its hyperkinetic photography perfectly captures the confused mental state of our protagonist.
Highly recommended for those who haven't seen it.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:19 pm

Slentert wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:50 pm
Deep End (1970, Jerzy Skolimowski)

Like a real world version of something like Rushmore, where the horny precocious teen gets exposed for the total creep he is and will grow up to become. Its hyperkinetic photography perfectly captures the confused mental state of our protagonist.
Highly recommended for those who haven't seen it.
"I was supposed to do a Q&A afterwards. The organisers brought me to the cinema, they were so happy – 'Oh, the whole room is laughing and enjoying the film.' Then in the last five minutes the room fell silent. When it finished, there was no applause. They said to me, 'Let's forget the Q&A and go for dinner.' During the meal, some audience members came over and said, 'Look, you had such a fantastic film, 90 minutes of enjoyment and humour. Why did you ruin it with the last five minutes?' I told them, 'You know what? I made the film for those last five minutes.'" - Jerzy Skolimowski
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:13 pm

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:19 pm
"I was supposed to do a Q&A afterwards. The organisers brought me to the cinema, they were so happy – 'Oh, the whole room is laughing and enjoying the film.' Then in the last five minutes the room fell silent. When it finished, there was no applause. They said to me, 'Let's forget the Q&A and go for dinner.' During the meal, some audience members came over and said, 'Look, you had such a fantastic film, 90 minutes of enjoyment and humour. Why did you ruin it with the last five minutes?' I told them, 'You know what? I made the film for those last five minutes.'" - Jerzy Skolimowski
I've had some discussions with people who disagreed with me on him being a creep, that he is just a confused kid. And I agree that he is confused, I mean, he himself gets sexually assaulted in the first 10 minutes of the movie, but that's no excuse for some of the things he does and I do believe that the ending is a clear indictment that there is something dangerously wrong with the protagonist.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:04 pm

Ooo, I love Deep End. And, yes, he's a creep.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:43 pm

1917 (2019, Sam Mendes)

I really liked this one, but I would strongly disagree with the people claiming this is "one of the greatest war movies of all time" or something among those lines. It's just not memorable enough for it to sustain such a legacy.
Scorsese's theme park ride criticisms applies imo more to something like this than to most superhero movies. As a purely dramatic film, 1917 doesn't amount to much but as a theatrical experience, a rollercoaster if you like, it provides plenty of thrills and shocks along the way.
I do think it captures the insanity of war better than a movie like Dunkirk did, especially in its second half. But I also think the movie could've been somewhat improved if it wasn't so hung up on this all-in-one-shot gimmick.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:42 pm

The Wild Goose Lake opens like so many classic film noirs do, with a doomed man at the end of his rope, explaining to another person, almost always a woman, and therefore also the audience, how he got into this bloody mess in the first place. It took a while for me to understand that it is in fact the woman in this case that is our main protagonist.

Diao Yinan's latest is a cool but empty genre exercise, where the dramatic aspects never hit as hard as its visuals do. Which certainly isn't something I'm incapable of enjoying. But 2 hours of that does get kind of tiresome after a while.

I was already somewhat lukewarm on this movie, but somewhere near the end it decides to throw in a sequence where the protagonist gets raped for no apparent reason besides filling another 3 minutes and from then on I really couldn't give a fuck anymore about what would happen in the remaining 20 minutes. I'm not going to claim I'm an expert on how to handle rape in film but I'm convinced treating it as a throwaway scene is not the right way in the slightest.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:57 pm

The Whistlers (2019)

You wouldn't expect a cold, quiet Romanian neo-noir to be this much fun, no?

This movie is all about plot, characters are secondary and nothing more than archetypes. The protagonist is an outright cypher, who comes across as boring rather than cool. Which oddly enough I don't really mind, because the movie itself is so engaging. The story is mostly told out of order, especially in the first half, but you're never disoriented because the filmmakers always deliver the right amount of information at the right moment. Some people complain that this approach keeps the viewer at a distance, but personally I found myself far more captivated by it.

Not as silly as you would imagine a movie about criminals communicating through whistling to be like.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Stu » Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:08 am

Slentert wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:43 pm
1917 (2019, Sam Mendes)

I really liked this one, but I would strongly disagree with the people claiming this is "one of the greatest war movies of all time" or something among those lines. It's just not memorable enough for it to sustain such a legacy.
Scorsese's theme park ride criticisms applies imo more to something like this than to most superhero movies. As a purely dramatic film, 1917 doesn't amount to much but as a theatrical experience, a rollercoaster if you like, it provides plenty of thrills and shocks along the way.
I do think it captures the insanity of war better than a movie like Dunkirk did, especially in its second half. But I also think the movie could've been somewhat improved if it wasn't so hung up on this all-in-one-shot gimmick.
I liked 1917 a lot, but I can't agree about the "insanity of war" comment, since I felt like it's combat scenes felt a bit overly smooth and choreographed, and I wouldn't say anything in it matched the intensity of Dunkirk, especially in this scene:

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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:48 pm

Robin and Marian (1976, Richard Lester)

"He's become a legend. Have you ever tried to fight a legend?"

Robin and Marian is a fascinating addition to the saga of Robin Hood. Featuring a somewhat older Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the titular couple, it gives us an impression of these characters many years after the last time we saw them. Robin and his companion Little John (Nicol Williamson) return to Nothingham after their king, Richard Lionheart (Richard Harris), gets fatally injured and eventually dies at a futile battle. After having served their king in the crusades and elsewhere, the two return disillusioned to what they still consider their home. Robin is in a melancholic mood, after having spent half his life murdering and plundering in the name of a king he deep down despised ("But, he was my king..." he tries to explain himself later in the movie when he is asked why he didn’t just leave) and is yearning for the good old days and his sweetheart Lady Marian, who he hasn’t seen in over 20 years and left rather abruptly.

On his return to England he gets almost immediately robbed by two old friends, Fryer Tuck and Will Scarlett, who are happy to reunite with their leader from back in the day, at least once they recognize him. At the campfire, they sing some of the songs the local children of Notthingham have made up about the escapades of Robin Hood and his men. “We didn’t do them” Robin interrupts, which is instantly followed by his friends saying “I know that!”.

This older, scruffy, worn out Robin Hood is clearly not the same figure we know from the Errol Flynn picture, and at the same time you can somehow imagine this is who that character would grow up to become. Director Richard Lester (A Hard Day’s Night) and screenwriter James Goldman (The Lion in Winter) perfectly walk the line between mythical figure and something that actually feels like a human being. This Robin Hood might not be the same frivolous hero that Errol Flynn played, but the people around him view him as such, and he’ll have to come to turns with the fact that the reality will never live up to the legend.

And he also needs to accept that life in Notthingham didn’t just stood still while he was gone. His love Lady Marian has joined the monastery as a nun, and is about the be arrested by the Sheriff of Notthingham (Robert Shaw) for practicing her profession. King John (Ian Holm) is in dispute with the Pope, and therefore has banned every form of religion in his country, but Marian opts to rather spend the rest of her life in jail instead of cowardly fleeing England like most of the other clerics already did. It’s obvious that even without Robin Hood, Marian won’t go down without a fight. In fact, when she sees Robin back for the first time after so many years, she doesn’t recognize him immediately. The revival of their live unfolds painfully realistic, slow, with a lot of blaming and old wounds that haven’t properly healed yet. This is where Goldman’s writing really shines, because so many things are being told without them literally being said.

From all the iconic characters in this movie, the Sheriff of Notthingham gets somewhat of the short shrift, only getting a select amount of screen time. The castle of Robert Shaw is therefore as brilliant as it is crucial, because he makes such a big impression in such few moments. There isn’t any room to expand on what has happened to the Sheriff in all those years, and that’s why you cast someone who can translate all that with one look. Shaw has the face of someone who went through a lot, any more information is completely unnecessary. He is noticeably more excited to see Robin again than Marian was, and he recognizes from the first instant he catches him. This is a man who has no doubt dealt with countless problems and oppositions in his lifetime as an enforcer of the law, but there is something about Robin he could shake off. Perhaps a final duel that he never got a chance to. Until now.

People looking for a typical, swashbuckling adventure story might be a bit disappointed by this movie, although it still provides a few fairly entertaining sword fights (between a bunch of tired old men, still). What you get instead is a deeply human, melancholic look at legend everyone is already familiar with, that is equally as funny as it is immeasurably sad.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Wed Jan 29, 2020 1:12 am

Slentert wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:48 pm
Robin and Marian (1976, Richard Lester)

"He's become a legend. Have you ever tried to fight a legend?"

Robin and Marian is a fascinating addition to the saga of Robin Hood. Featuring a somewhat older Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the titular couple, it gives us an impression of these characters many years after the last time we saw them. Robin and his companion Little John (Nicol Williamson) return to Nothingham after their king, Richard Lionheart (Richard Harris), gets fatally injured and eventually dies at a futile battle. After having served their king in the crusades and elsewhere, the two return disillusioned to what they still consider their home. Robin is in a melancholic mood, after having spent half his life murdering and plundering in the name of a king he deep down despised ("But, he was my king..." he tries to explain himself later in the movie when he is asked why he didn’t just leave) and is yearning for the good old days and his sweetheart Lady Marian, who he hasn’t seen in over 20 years and left rather abruptly.

On his return to England he gets almost immediately robbed by two old friends, Fryer Tuck and Will Scarlett, who are happy to reunite with their leader from back in the day, at least once they recognize him. At the campfire, they sing some of the songs the local children of Notthingham have made up about the escapades of Robin Hood and his men. “We didn’t do them” Robin interrupts, which is instantly followed by his friends saying “I know that!”.

This older, scruffy, worn out Robin Hood is clearly not the same figure we know from the Errol Flynn picture, and at the same time you can somehow imagine this is who that character would grow up to become. Director Richard Lester (A Hard Day’s Night) and screenwriter James Goldman (The Lion in Winter) perfectly walk the line between mythical figure and something that actually feels like a human being. This Robin Hood might not be the same frivolous hero that Errol Flynn played, but the people around him view him as such, and he’ll have to come to turns with the fact that the reality will never live up to the legend.

And he also needs to accept that life in Notthingham didn’t just stood still while he was gone. His love Lady Marian has joined the monastery as a nun, and is about the be arrested by the Sheriff of Notthingham (Robert Shaw) for practicing her profession. King John (Ian Holm) is in dispute with the Pope, and therefore has banned every form of religion in his country, but Marian opts to rather spend the rest of her life in jail instead of cowardly fleeing England like most of the other clerics already did. It’s obvious that even without Robin Hood, Marian won’t go down without a fight. In fact, when she sees Robin back for the first time after so many years, she doesn’t recognize him immediately. The revival of their live unfolds painfully realistic, slow, with a lot of blaming and old wounds that haven’t properly healed yet. This is where Goldman’s writing really shines, because so many things are being told without them literally being said.

From all the iconic characters in this movie, the Sheriff of Notthingham gets somewhat of the short shrift, only getting a select amount of screen time. The castle of Robert Shaw is therefore as brilliant as it is crucial, because he makes such a big impression in such few moments. There isn’t any room to expand on what has happened to the Sheriff in all those years, and that’s why you cast someone who can translate all that with one look. Shaw has the face of someone who went through a lot, any more information is completely unnecessary. He is noticeably more excited to see Robin again than Marian was, and he recognizes from the first instant he catches him. This is a man who has no doubt dealt with countless problems and oppositions in his lifetime as an enforcer of the law, but there is something about Robin he could shake off. Perhaps a final duel that he never got a chance to. Until now.

People looking for a typical, swashbuckling adventure story might be a bit disappointed by this movie, although it still provides a few fairly entertaining sword fights (between a bunch of tired old men, still). What you get instead is a deeply human, melancholic look at legend everyone is already familiar with, that is equally as funny as it is immeasurably sad.
I really, really like this movie.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:08 pm

Going into Adoration, I expected something like Fabrice Du Welz' Moonrise Kingdom, but what I got instead is much closer to a movie like Badlands, only this time the girl is the mentally disturbed killer and the couple is noticeably younger than Spacek and Sheen were.

With a Du Welz film, you don't really expect him to actively break the genre mold, but at least deliver something that is genuinely twisted and unnerving. So it saddens me to say that this movie doesn't really find a way to make this umpteenth l'amour fou story feel fresh or inspired in any way. It seems almost too well-behaved for its own good. The movie mostly relies on the strengths of its two young leads and the beautiful, dreamlike imagery we already knew Du Welz is perfectly capable of creating.

Not bad by any means but disappointing nonetheless. Serviceable would be the right word for it.

And some other quick reviews:


Jojo Rabbit
If you told me upfront that this movie would end with our protagonists dancing on the street to David Bowie's Heroes, I wouldn't have believed you.
This might sound like I hated the movie, which I didn't, but it's ultimately as toothless and naive in its commentary as you would expect from a movie that promotes itself as an "anti-hate satire". Just too broad to really nail the targets it wants to hit.

Bad Boys For Life
Lacks Bay's trademark extravagance but never becomes as exhausting or headache inducing like his movies often do, so that's a plus. The action in this is actually quite good, to be honest.

Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker
I was rolling my eyes for the entire last 30 minutes. So many character arcs get resolved in a way that doesn't feel earned in the slightest.
I didn't hate it but I'm kinda glad this saga is over tbh.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:37 am

A Hidden Life (2019)

A heartbreaking, hyper-intimate epic of a movie. I've seen people calling it "a battle between good vs evil" but I think such phrases minimalize the complexity of what Malick does here. He shows the rather thin, ambiguous line between selflessness and selfishness. Certainly, he looks at Franz Jägerstätter's story with a clear sense of admiration, and what the man stands for is undeniably inspiring this many years down the line, but I also feel like there is a slight acknowledgement from Malick's part that in the moment itself, this kind of sacrifice is merely symbolic and even futile. It's only in retrospect that we can clearly see the weight of this hidden history.


I also saw Little Women (2019) which I don't have anything really substantial to say about except that I adore it. Gerwig perfectly captures the lively and joyful spirit that I remembered from reading the novel while also really nailing the story's most tragic moments as well. If I had seen it in 2019, it would've been my number 1 of that year.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Captain Terror » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:22 pm

Slentert wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:37 am
I also saw Little Women (2019) which I don't have anything really substantial to say about except that I adore it. Gerwig perfectly captures the lively and joyful spirit that I remembered from reading the novel while also really nailing the story's most tragic moments as well. If I had seen it in 2019, it would've been my number 1 of that year.
:up: I saw five of the BP nominees this year and I would've been totally ok with Little Women taking it.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:57 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:22 pm
:up: I saw five of the BP nominees this year and I would've been totally ok with Little Women taking it.
Yeah, I saw 7 of the BP nominees and this was absolutely my favorite one out of all of those, though I'm still happy Parasite won (which is arguably the better movie, but Little Women appeals more to me personally). And while I didn't hate 1917 at all, I'm kinda glad it didn't won Best Picture because I don't think it's remotely on the same level as something like Parasite. It will most likely be remembered more fondly as well now it didn't took home the big award, in the way that Argo and The King's Speech's reputations suffered because of their wins.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:12 pm

Alright, I'm gonna go through some recent watches quickly:

Little Women (1994) Rewatch. I needed something comforting and old-fashioned and that's exactly what I got, but I had forgotten just how heart-wrenching Beth's death is.

Gretel & Hansel (2020)
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Yes, it is overly stylized to a point where it can become distracting and in the end it isn't really able to set itself apart from other "grim fairy tales" but I would be lying if I said I didn't love every second of it.
The way the dialogue was written reminded me of The Sandman comic book series by Neil Gaiman in its lyrical and completely unnatural sounding approach. Too bad it didn't fit well into the little boy's mouth.

Robocop (1987) Rewatch. First time on the big screen. Even though I often complain about the 80s nostalgia craze, this movie is a great example of what that decade was capable of producing. A truly subversive, blatantly violent and considerably controversial movie that could've easily been a silly romp with an equally lame high-concept premisse. Top 5 action movies? Definitely my favorite superhero movie.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) Such a tense, funny, concise little thriller that just keeps on moving and never really stops until the credits start rolling. What fascinated me the most about both this and Robocop is how much personality they have. They're able to breathe life in even the smallest bit characters. Every line delivery, even the throwaway ones, just stand out.

Vanishing Point (1971) I was honestly just expecting this to be one big chase scene (like a less cartoony SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT) so I was really taken aback by the entire existential aspect of the movie, which would make for a great companion piece to Two-Lane Blacktop.
The lead guy kinda looks like a rugged Dustin Hoffman.

Sullivan's Travels (1941) Preston Sturges made this movie as a reaction against contemporary comedies having too many messages, but, being a man of neverending contradictions, he can't help himself but make a big statement in its final 20 minutes. Still really funny, and Veronica Lake was truly something else. Such spark!

My Man Godfrey (1936) Rewatch. I think this has gradually become my favorite comedy movie of all time.

Ninotcka (1939) In a way you could call this anti-Communist propaganda, and a blatant one at that, but in that case it's the most charming piece of propaganda on this side of A Matter of Life and Death.

Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
This is what you would expect an early 1930s movie to be like, a lot of people in dresses and tuxedos having elaborate discussions at cocktail parties. This one luckily has a nice sense of humor and some of that good ol' Pre-Code sauciness. Also, a small cameo of pre-stardom Carry Grant.

Domino (2005) Rewatch. I like this movie way more than I should. 2 hours of it is a bit much though, it's such a sensory assault, you're already drained out by the time they get to the final. Also, a li'l bit racist, no?

The Heart of the World (2000) My first Guy Maddin film was quite an interesting experience. I don't think I've ever seen German Expressionism kind of imagery being mixed with a Soviet-style of editing. Not saying it has never been done before, but I had certainly never seen anything like it.

The French Connection (1971) Not much I can say about this that would be worth the internet space. Really good, Hackman is obviously great, and there is just something inherently magnetic about Roy Scheider.

Modern Romance (1981) Rewatch. I KNOW this is funny, but I can't help but find it a bit off-putting as well.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) One of the best action movies ever made. One of the best blockbusters ever made. It's even able to make something genuinely enjoyable out of the annoying kid character.

Only Yesterday (1991) Can you believe Disney didn't want to release this one for years because it acknowledges the existence of menstruation? The exec who made that decision clearly didn't understand what that segment of the movie was even trying to say. Perfectly captures how certain small, individual moments from your childhood that might seem trivial to an outsider can linger on long into adulthood and shapes the kind of person you are today. Best movie I saw all month, probably my favorite Ghibli film I've seen until now.

Cluny Brown (1946) People have the gall to call this "lesser Lubitsch"?! I think this is one of the most charming movies from the 1940s, perhaps not the funniest work of the famous German-American director, but still an overwhelmingly charming comedy of manners that can't help but put a smile on your face.

Richard Jewell (2019) Hated by a certain section of the left and embraced by the MAGA crowd for the exact same reason, and both sides are absolutely wrong. Yes, the treatment of the female journalist is kinda distasteful and plain irresponsible even, and as with most later Eastwood movies it can be rough and a little conventional at parts, but it's a very impressive movie with a strong pulse and even a sense of humor, featuring several great performances, well worth everyone's time.

Birds of Prey (2020) The way the story is build kills a lot of the momentum, but it's colorful, the action scenes are cool, and it has a lot of personality, something you can't say about most of these movies.

A White White Day (2019) I didn't really enjoy this one, actually hoped I would, but then again I'm not always the right kind of audience for these slow, somewhat detached kind of European arthouse movies. Other people seem to love it though.

Harakiri (1962) Big screen watch. Just a phenomenal piece of work. It's funny how this was my first samurai movie, just as Once Upon a Time in the West was my first western, since both of them are basically deconstructions of the genres they're working in and their respective mythos.

Where Eagles Dare (1968) Most likely the quintessential dad movie, and I mean that as the highest compliment. Its violence is surprisingly callous for its time period and its pacing is plainly remarkable for a movie of such epic length. Once it gets going it never really stops until the credits start rolling. In my opinion, way more fun than let's say The Great Escape or The Guns of Navarone.

Exiled (2006) I wanted to say this is one of the coolest movies ever made, but I've never even seen a Melville film, so who am I kidding. Still pretty damn cool though.

Sherlock Jr. (1924) Rewatch. Just so funny, and it almost feels like an immediate precursor to something like Rushmore, there is something about that tone and that lead character that just seem to match perfectly.

How Do You Know (2010) So unbelievably trite (something the movie itself is seemingly unaware of) that it's kind of a miracle James L. Brooks was able to inject so much personality into it. Everything about it feels a little bit disconnected from reality, like it was written by an alien who only saw humans interact in other romantic comedies and ABC sitcoms.

The Unknown (1927) When someone ever claims that silent movies are dull, show them this movie. It is deliciously bonkers and ridiculously entertaining. It's also like an hour long, so it breezes by.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Sat Feb 29, 2020 5:41 am

Slentert wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:08 pm
Jojo Rabbit
If you told me upfront that this movie would end with our protagonists dancing on the street to David Bowie's Heroes, I wouldn't have believed you.
This might sound like I hated the movie, which I didn't, but it's ultimately as toothless and naive in its commentary as you would expect from a movie that promotes itself as an "anti-hate satire". Just too broad to really nail the targets it wants to hit.
My experience was different from yours.
Not only did I not find it "toothless" it left me gut-punched and my whole night was sort of a brooding, melancholic contemplation on what makes film art.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Sat Feb 29, 2020 5:44 am

Slentert wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:12 pm
The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) Such a tense, funny, concise little thriller that just keeps on moving and never really stops until the credits start rolling. What fascinated me the most about both this and Robocop is how much personality they have. They're able to breathe life in even the smallest bit characters. Every line delivery, even the throwaway ones, just stand out.

My Man Godfrey (1936) Rewatch. I think this has gradually become my favorite comedy movie of all time.

Domino (2005) Rewatch. I like this movie way more than I should. 2 hours of it is a bit much though, it's such a sensory assault, you're already drained out by the time they get to the final.

The French Connection (1971) Not much I can say about this that would be worth the internet space. Really good, Hackman is obviously great, and there is just something inherently magnetic about Roy Scheider.
Well, these, on the other hand, are things we can agree on.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:42 pm

Slentert wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:12 pm
Alright, I'm gonna go through some recent watches quickly:

Robocop (1987) Rewatch. First time on the big screen. Even though I often complain about the 80s nostalgia craze, this movie is a great example of what that decade was capable of producing. A truly subversive, blatantly violent and considerably controversial movie that could've easily been a silly romp with an equally lame high-concept premisse. Top 5 action movies? Definitely my favorite superhero movie.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) Such a tense, funny, concise little thriller that just keeps on moving and never really stops until the credits start rolling. What fascinated me the most about both this and Robocop is how much personality they have. They're able to breathe life in even the smallest bit characters. Every line delivery, even the throwaway ones, just stand out.

The French Connection (1971) Not much I can say about this that would be worth the internet space. Really good, Hackman is obviously great, and there is just something inherently magnetic about Roy Scheider.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) One of the best action movies ever made. One of the best blockbusters ever made. It's even able to make something genuinely enjoyable out of the annoying kid character.

Harakiri (1962) Big screen watch. Just a phenomenal piece of work. It's funny how this was my first samurai movie, just as Once Upon a Time in the West was my first western, since both of them are basically deconstructions of the genres they're working in and their respective mythos.
Agree, agree, agree, agree, agree!... that was a good run for you.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:40 pm

Thief wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:42 pm
Agree, agree, agree, agree, agree!... that was a good run for you.
I had a really great month.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Stu » Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:08 am

Slentert wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:12 pm
The French Connection (1971) Not much I can say about this that would be worth the internet space. Really good, Hackman is obviously great, and there is just something inherently magnetic about Roy Scheider.
I never could get the big deal about TFC; it's not bad or anything, but it always struck me as being an overly distant, detached procedural that mostly failed to involve me so that I actually cared about the fate of the characters or the case they were investigating, and, besides the car chase (which, to the film's credit, is one of the all-time greatest), almost all of it failed to leave a particularly strong impression on me. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike it at all, but I have no idea how on Earth it's supposed to be the "Best Picture" of the same year that also saw the release of this:

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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Tue Mar 03, 2020 3:27 pm

Stu wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:08 am
I never could get the big deal about TFC; it's not bad or anything, but it always struck me as being an overly distant, detached procedural that mostly failed to involve me so that I actually cared about the fate of the characters or the case they were investigating, and, besides the car chase (which, to the film's credit, is one of the all-time greatest), almost all of it failed to leave a particularly strong impression on me. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike it at all, but I have no idea how on Earth it's supposed to be the "Best Picture" of the same year that also saw the release of this:
I more or less agree. I wish they would've delved more into the character of Popeye, but I appreciated how tight the direction is, and how grounded the approach to the police work is. B+ for me.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:54 pm

Fallen Angels (1995)

Made me wish more movies were as playful and stylish as this one. Fallen Angels perfectly captures what it FEELS like to be depressed and unable to connect to anyone despite desperately trying to but instead of going for something draining and dour it's so full of life and even has a great sense of humor. Takeshi Kaneshiro's madcap character initially seems like he is just there to function as the comic relief but it's eventually him and his relationship with his father that ends up breaking your heart.

When "Only You" by The Flying Pickets start playing during the end credits it is the ideal intimate, melancholic yet hopeful song to cap this entire experience off with. It's just as powerful and perfectly timed as the more widely praised and lauded titular song that ends Happy Together.
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