A noob's journey through cinema

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Slentert
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:55 pm

Inherent Vice (2014)

Everything about Inherent Vice indicates that it should be my favorite movie of all time. An L.A. stoner noir, in the great tradition of movies like The Long Goodbye and The Big Lebowski, helmed by one of my favorite directors, featuring multiple stellar performances, not only the regularly praised ones like Phoenix' and Brolin's, but I really dig what someone like Martin Short is doing here as well. It's a goofy, melancholic, slightly pretentious summer breeze of a movie with subtle spikes of paranoia shattered throughout. It's basically tailor made to appeal to all my personal interests, so why do I find the entire thing to be rather fatuous and bloated, even when there is so much to admire/like about it?

The feeling I'm left with once the credits start to roll is the same feeling you get after having overindulged in a heavy, overpacked all-you-can-eat-buffet. Sure, every individual dish might've tasted fine on its own, but if you're being honest with yourself, you already lost all your sense of flavor after you went for that second round of french fries. And now that the whole endeavor is over, all you want to do is take a long and healthy nap.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:28 pm

Monos (2019, Alejandro Landes)

I saw this movie last Thursday and, because of circumstances we're all familiar with, it will most likely be the last movie I'll see in a theater for the next month or so. I really liked it, but something irked me the wrong way about it, so it took me a while before I could write something down.

As a purely sensory experience, I think this movie is quite amazing, frankly. But, for a war movie, it's oddly depoliticized to the extent that it becomes almost fetishized. The filmmaker seems mostly interested in the decorative elements of war while forgetting the human aspects of it (unlike a quite similar movie like Beau Travail, which is always deeply rooted in the humanity of it all, no matter how expressive the filmmaking might be). There is nothing inherently wrong with preferring style above other things but it's a better fit when you're making something like let's say Drive instead of a movie about child soldiers. Again, I really liked it, but something about it feels off.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:22 am

The Killing (1956, Stanley Kubrick)

Rewatch. One of the most striking things about this classical noir (one of my favorites) is it's narrative structure. Kubrick namely chose to depict the day of the heist by telling the stories of each of the gang members separately. Piece by piece, they're all indispensable cogs of one well functioning, yet fragile machine which could fall apart by even the smallest disturbance.

The heist itself maintains to be exciting, even after sixty years, and the dialogue is still as sharp as a razor. Some people might experience the ending to be a little bit disappointing (Kubrick had to take the Hayes Code into account) yet I like the idea of all these men getting so caught up in their hunger for money that everything just becomes meaningless in the end.
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BL Sometimes
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by BL Sometimes » Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:41 am

Slentert wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:22 am
One of the most striking things about this classical noir (one of my favorites) is it's narrative structure. Kubrick namely chose to depict the day of the heist by telling the stories of each of the gang members separately. Piece by piece, they're all indispensable cogs of one well functioning, yet fragile machine which could fall apart by even the smallest disturbance.
Which makes this particularly rewarding as a rewatch alongside Jackie Brown.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Evil » Sat Mar 21, 2020 2:30 am

The voice over is pretty old time funny though, you have to admit.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:45 pm

I find the narration a bit awkward, but I still like the film a lot. My main gripe with the film is that Kubrick chooses a distant, plot-driven approach which doesn't allow for a lot of emotional connection with the characters which, in turn, leaves the ending feeling a bit cold. Still, I love how tight and slick everything else is.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:20 pm

Evil wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 2:30 am
The voice over is pretty old time funny though, you have to admit.
While I enjoy a good voice-over more than most filmgoers, I have to admit the one in The Killing doesn't really work. It's too flat, It lacks any sense of flavor or personality, where, let's say, the one in Double Indemnity is oozing with those. But I love the movie so much, I'm willing to overlook it. If I think about it, most of my favorite movies have one or two flaws that, for me at least, get lost in the grand scheme of things.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:36 pm

Yeah, I also overlook the narration in that film. It's sometimes awful at times (At exactly 3:45 on that Saturday afternoon in the last week of September...), but since I love everything else, I'm okay with overlooking it.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:01 pm

I'm just gonna rattle off some titles.

Wuthering Heights (1939) Really captures how loving someone can sometimes be the most painful thing in the world.

The Gentlemen (2019) You can clearly see how everyone involved with this had so much, which almost makes up for the fact that it has a tendency to be quit lazy at times.

Little Women (2019) Rewatch. Perhaps not the best movie of the past year, but definitely the one that has brought me the most joy.

Dark Waters (2019) There is a certain rage bleeding through all of this that feels genuine and not performative like with most Oscar bait movies. Extremely well-made and acted, but just a tad too "standard" to really hit a home-run.

Branded To Kill (1967) Rewatch. I would be lying if I said I didn't find the experience a little bit disorienting, but it's also an immensely creative piece of work. You're constantly on the edge of your seat, not because it's so tense, but because it's so unpredictable.

Hot Fuzz (2007) Such a tightly written comedy. Every punchline simultaneously serves as a set-up for another joke. For that, it should be praised just as much as the screenplay of Back To The Future.

Miami Blues (1990) Really loved this one. Alec Baldwin is such a loose cannon in this that you can never be certain which direction he and the movie will take. There is a manic joy to be taken out of all this chaos, I was laughing throughout the entire thing, yet there is also a sadder undercurrent to this that grounds this movie frankly, even elevates it.

The Housemaid (1960) I was kinda into what this South-Korean stab at the film noir genre is doing, but damn, that ending really ruined the entire thing for me.

Game Night (2018) Rewatch. I'm happy everyone else in this cast is so inspired in this to make up for the fact that Jason Bateman is basically sleepwalking through most of it. Otherwise, I think this only becomes better upon a second viewing.

The Invisible Man (2020) With the current A24-ication of horror going on (which I'm not totally against) it's nice to see a critically lauded horror movie that is just a good, old-fashioned, effective thrill ride. I really admire Leigh Whannell's craftmanship in both this and Upgrade and the way he handles CGI in his films is just so smart. He isn't eager to impress his audience with what we can nowadays create with a computer (something the concept of an invisible man otherwise rather invites) but he uses it sparsely, never overdoes it, only relies on it when it matters. Again, really effective.

Swallow (2019) Saw this on the same day as The Invisible Man and the two of them make for a great double bill. Not that Swallow is nearly as suspenseful, you could barely even call it a horror movie (I wouldn't) But it makes up for it with real emotional resonance. I loved the ending.

Spenser Confidential (2020) Boring. They always try to turn Mark Whalberg into this loveable rogue who talks back and takes no shit, but every time he just ends up coming across like a total jerk.

Oldboy (2003) Rewatch. Its giddy pop nihilism always somewhat turns me off, but it's so stylish and gnarly I still end up having a good time.

Style Wars (1983) An amazing film and an equally important document of an era and a subculture. It's both awe-inspiring and unbelievably depressing, especially to see how severely the people in power go out of their way to squander every last bit of creativity and hope out of those youths.

Notorious (1946) There is so much to love about this movie. It works perfectly as an entertain piece of suspense thriller, but its exploration of the dark corners of romance and passion elevates it to all-time classic status.

Breathless (1960) Playful, amusing yet slightly annoying, I didn't love Godard's debut feature but I definitely admired and even appreciated what he was going for.

Pierrot Le Fou (1965) This is more my speed. Gorgeous, expressive and articulate, it's a movie with a lot on its mind that is also breathtaking.

Man Bites Dog (1992) Rewatch. The Office meets Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. One of those incredibly dark comedies that make you feel guilty for enjoying it so much.

Last Life in the Universe (2003) Both incredibly sad and quite delightful. A movie about depression that could function as a warm blanket. Very dreamlike, but not in the usual nightmare or fever sense.

Free Fire (2016) Rewatch. Basically, it's an action movie where the action is the worst part of it. But the cast seems to be having a blast, and the banter between them is quite amusing, you can't help but be entertained by it, to a certain extent at least.

Stagecoach (1939) Such a fun movie. I love how you basically have an entire class system into on carriage. Thomas Mitchell in this is one of the all-time great cinematic drunks.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:54 pm

Slentert wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:01 pm

Miami Blues (1990) Really loved this one. Alec Baldwin is such a loose cannon in this that you can never be certain which direction he and the movie will take. There is a manic joy to be taken out of all this chaos, I was laughing throughout the entire thing, yet there is also a sadder undercurrent to this that grounds this movie frankly, even elevates it.
I have not seen this since its theatrical release but your description of it is exactly how I remember it.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Sat Mar 28, 2020 6:12 pm

I haven't seen most of those, but I agree with your takes on the few I have seen...

Notorious is slick and fun. It could probably sneak in my Hitchcock Top 5, depending on the day.

Hot Fuzz reminds me of The Big Lebowski in that I had fun with it, but didn't think much else of it beyond that, only to have it pop in my head often afterwards. I've seen it once or twice after the first time and I love it more.

Free Fire was indeed a mess, but a fun mess.

I've also seen Oldboy and Stagecoach.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Apr 01, 2020 5:44 pm

Martin (1977)

This is one of the movies George A. Romero (the A stands for Awesome) made in the 1970s in between his two most legendary zombie pictures (Night and Dawn of the Dead). It's an extremely low-budget affair, so it's rather rough around the edges, but simultaneously it's a thousand times bolder and more fascinating than most studio pictures will ever be.

The movie is a complete deconstruction of the vampire mythos, wherein a socially disturbed teenager named Martin (duh) is seen by his family members as Nosferatu himself. So now begs the question: is Martin truly a vampire, or merely an ordinary, pathetic serial killer (and a bad one at that)? You can look at it as the more fucked up, exploitation alternative to something like The Graduate, even though I personally think it shows more resemblance with Deep End, another 1970s cult film about a sexually frustrated young man who deals with his lusts in a way that is everything but healthy...
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 7:21 pm

Slentert wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 5:44 pm
Martin (1977)

This is one of the movies George A. Romero (the A stands for Awesome) made in the 1970s in between his two most legendary zombie pictures (Night and Dawn of the Dead). It's an extremely low-budget affair, so it's rather rough around the edges, but simultaneously it's a thousand times bolder and more fascinating than most studio pictures will ever be.

The movie is a complete deconstruction of the vampire mythos, wherein a socially disturbed teenager named Martin (duh) is seen by his family members as Nosferatu himself. So now begs the question: is Martin truly a vampire, or merely an ordinary, pathetic serial killer (and a bad one at that)? You can look at it as the more fucked up, exploitation alternative to something like The Graduate, even though I personally think it shows more resemblance with Deep End, another 1970s cult film about a sexually frustrated young man who deals with his lusts in a way that is everything but healthy...
It is my favorite movie. Not favorite horror movie, just favorite movie.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:23 pm

The Wind Rises (2013)

This truly is one of the best movies of the past decade. Miyazaki finds poetry in a genre where you would the least expect it: the biopic. Most of its greatest scenes have no relevance to the central "plot" really and my favorite sequence in the entire movie in fact (the paper plane one) holds no dramatic stakes at all.
It's easy to see what attracted Miyazaki to this material, as an artist himself he would obviously relate to this story of a dreamer who is inherently restricted by compromise to actually be able to get his dreams off the grounds. Those compromises can be for commercial reasons, or for practical ones (the technology to sustain what our lead character is already imagining is often not invented yet) but the most interesting one, which brings us to the most controversial aspect of the movie, is a moral compromise.

Jiro is such a fascinating, ambiguous protagonist because he has the ethics (and naivety) of a boy scout. He wants to do good, he sees suffering all around him and obviously understands it's tragic and even wants to help, but he is completely blind to the political structure behind that suffering and his own place in all of that. Which isn't the first time that kind of character is used in fiction, but what makes The Wind Rises stand out is how unapologetic it is about it. Jiro never experiences an epiphany of any kind during the movie that suddenly makes him take a stand or anything, his morals are a lot more muddier. He clearly disapproves of the war that is going on (and so does Miyazaki, see the constantly returning phrase "Japan will blow up") yet his dream is to make these beautiful airplanes which will undoubtedly be weaponized and used to further the destruction and suffering he obviously laments, and sadly the more successful he is at finalizing his passion project the more effective it will be as machines of war. And the way he deals with this moral dilemma is by simply ignoring it. Seemingly he believes that all the horror he indirectly helped to create was worth it for him to achieve his dreams, and Miyazaki seems to think so too, but it's hard to tell because Miyazaki's beliefs are never as black or white as would be convenient. In the final scene of the movie, where Jiro finally accomplishes what he always wanted, and his childhood hero/imaginary friend praises his creation, Jiro undercuts him with the sad yet detached line "Not a single plane returned".
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