Recently Watched Films 2021

Not the stuff on your shower tiles.

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Nanni Moretti, Aprile, 1997

Another acquired taste, perhaps: it's amusing to read the negative IMDb user reviews taking Moretti to task for not making the political documentary about Berlusconi and Bossi and instead focusing on the joys (and anxieties) of becoming a father, but that's the whole f**king point of the film, isn't it? :D Any father who's ever bathed, changed and played with his child can't fail to be moved watching Nanni and his son (it is his son too) rolling around in a sea of newspaper clippings. And if you can't enjoy the closing scene with the pasticcere and his crew dancing to Perez Prado's "Why Wait", I reckon there's something wrong with you. But in terms of cinematic craft there's much to admire here: some spectacular shots - love the cruise liner gliding into view behind him in Venice, the receding shot of him dancing alone on the banks of the Tiber (I think it's the Tiber), the Albanian refugees arriving on their rusty ferry.. - and the editing and pacing is tight and accomplished. He packs a lot into 78 minutes. Of course, the downside - if you don't like Moretti - is that he's all over every scene, and rarely shuts up.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

Return visit, this time in 720 - though the higher definition doesn't add much, image-wise: just as dark, cold and muddy as before. Here's what I wrote back in 2014, my opinion hasn't changed since: but enjoyed the second viewing.
Dan Warburton wrote:
Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:24 am
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Baltasar Kormákur, A Little Trip to Heaven, 2005

It's a Featured Torrent at KG, and if you haven't snatched it I'd strongly recommend this stylish neo-noir (very Nordic, those filters make everything look like it came out of The Element of Crime or Män som hatar kvinnor). Supposedly set in Minnesota but filmed in Iceland, the only weak spots are the ending (a bit limp) and Forest Whitaker's truly bizarre accent (he obviously never got over that IRA kidnapping in The Crying Game). But strong performances all round, classy camerawork and great colour. Nice
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

Lao Tsu Ben wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:12 am
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Lucky Jo, Michel Deville, 1964

Deville's direction is as elegant as they come and well-complimented by Nina Companeez's sharp, witty lines - though just a tad too ironical, just like the film as a whole. The opening looks like Pierre Etaix filming some Westlake's bits of Dortmunder (same remark has been made in this review) and the mix of melancholy and burlesque, to the sound of a fitting soundtrack by Delerue, seems to strike a perfect balance. The problem is that Deville is almost never serious enough, his is the standpoint of an aesthete, detached, ironical, playful, all things I like and favor, but also regrettably shallow. In that sense, the wistfulness of the first few scenes tend to disappear into thin air once things get going, that is, fights and bodies accumulate, and the tragic overtones are too elusive to scrape at the comic-book aloofness de rigueur that's perhaps associated with Eddie Constantine. One "merci Jo" at the end has that tragic, though discreet quality, that characterizes a good série noire but has been a bit lacking. Very impressive camerawork through and through.
This was excellent - I see you mean above, but I enjoyed the shallowness of it all: how do you do a Melville or a Sautet or a Dassin noir post-A bout de souffle? Like this! Nice write-up again, Ben, thanks. I'll be checking that Lautner out shortly too, on your recommendation :)
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Adam Curtis, Can't Get You Out Of My Head, 2001

Though I still essentially agree with Tom Waits's closing lines in Jim Jarmusch's zombie movie - "We're fucked!" - there's a glimmer of hope at the end of Curtis's latest sprawling eight-hour six-episode "emotional history of the modern world" (he could also have called it "Operation Mindfuck", in honour of one of the many characaters who pop up throughout the series, Discordianism's co-founder Kerry Thornley). As usual, the filmmaker juggles various stories throughout, digging up intriguing cross-connections in an exhausting piece of virtuoso montage accompanied by an excellent choice of music (old Curtis faves like Aphex Twin and Messiaen reappear, but there's some great stuff I'd never heard of - Shazam got busy). Mercifully light on Brexit and Trump (but Dominic Cummings certainly features), where else could you find Michael X (seen above with John and Yoko's shorn locks), Jiang Qing, Tupac Shakur? Alas, despite the title, Kylie Minogue doesn't appear.. What do I think? Still reeling, but I happen to agree with much in the two reviews below, haha
Pro: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radi ... curtis-bbc
Con: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/inc ... d-reviewed
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

Actually, Hermit Bob (Waits) 's last line in the Jarmusch is "what a fucked-up world" - but as nobody corrected me (probably because nobody apart from me and about half a dozen other lost souls ever reads this stuff) I thought I would myself :)
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Various, Les ponts de Sarajevo, 2014

Cannes promo blurb: "13 European directors explore the theme of Sarajevo and what this city represents in European history over the past hundred years, and what Sarajevo incarnates today in Europe. From different generations and origins, these eminent filmmakers offer many singular styles and visions. François Schuiten, famous Belgian comic book artist (Cities of the Fantastic) imagined animated cartoon links in between these films, a metaphoric transposition in his graphically luxuriant world of the emblematic bridges of the city of Sarajevo."
No IMDb user reviews (maybe a blessing), but a rather good write-up here: https://variety.com/2014/film/festivals ... 201195101/
Like the reviewer, I didn't care all that much for those cartoons, but I guess you need a little light relief between the shorts. Interesting to see how another journalist came to very different conclusions: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/m ... f-sarajevo Of course, to compare the two points of view, you'll have to watch the film, and it's not one of the cheeriest experiences, as you can well imagine. Some of the shorts were too, well, short, too elliptical, but the advantage of a film à sketchs is that you don't have to watch it all in one go.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, La maison des Bories, 1970

A splendid adaptation of a 1932 novel by Simonne Ratel telling the simple (seemingly) tale of a young German geology student (Mathieu Carrière plays Carl-Stéphan, and very well too) who arrives in Provence to help translate the latest thesis of a rather overbearing père de famille (Maurice Garrel, exceptional) and gets entangled - well, you'll see - with his wife (Marie Dubois, excellent) and garners the affection of their two young children, until.. no, you watch it. Beautifully filmed by Ghislain Cloquet - say no more - it's another damn good little film that really deserves a 4k remaster and a handsome BluRay release.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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René Clément, Les félins, 1964

Funny, I thought I'd already written about this one when I saw it last (a while ago..) - apparently not. I'm a bit miffed I couldn't read the (unfavourable) Joan Didion review in Vogue (paywall, forget it), because she writes so well - but I can hazard a guess at what she might have written. The film exists in a French and an English version - Joy House, a stupid title if ever there was one, leading you to expect a romcom, which it sure ain't - and I think I saw the French version last time round. Whether Clément filmed two versions or merely overdubbed, I'm not sure: the actors here are certainly speaking English. Maybe that's why Delon comes across as so utterly detestable - you'd have thought that a playboy wouldn't have been able to resist to not inconsiderable charms of Jane Fonda (but she gets her wicked way in the end, which I won't spoil) - I suspect it's better in French. Anyway, on: set in and around Nice, it's the tale of our (anti)hero Marc who's on the run from some rather inept NY hitmen out to take his head back as a trophy to their boss, by way of punishment for his (Marc's) banging his (the boss's) wife. He's eventually taken in by Fonda and her older cousin - Lola Albright, equally gorgeous, both of whom have some dark secrets to hide in their house, along with an art collection that rivals the Fondation Maeght up the road (man, I'd love that Giacometti in my front room..). Follows an intriguing game of cat and mouse, accompanied by a glorious - if a little excessive - Lalo Schifrin soundtrack and some classy photography courtesy Henri Decae. "As good as an [sic] Hitchcock!" crows one of the IMDb punter reviews, and with its over-the-top campiness and fine performances from the leading trio, s/he could be right.. French version next time, though.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Corneliu Porumboiu, La Gomera ("The Whistlers"), 2019

Strange as it seems, there is indeed a local whistling language used by the inhabitants of the remote Canary island La Gomera to communicate with each other across distant and hard-to-access mountain valleys https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silbo_Gomero though, upon reflection, there's no real reason for its inclusion in what is essentially a classic noir dolled up with (too) many post-Tarantino stylistic flourishes. Hard to believe that a sultry femme fatale - named Gilda (haha - well, it was either that or Laura), and played by Catrinel Marlon - would fall for a pale, balding and, well, thoroughly insignificant cop like Cristi (Vlad Ivanov), who is, as this review https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the- ... eview-2020 rightly points out, little more than "a walking plot device"; even harder to swallow that she might one day come to his rescue and spirit him off to, of all horrendous places, Singapore. Far from being what Bradshaw calls a "a neat and unexpected coda", it's an utterly implausible ending (the director should have pulled the plug after Cristi's run over in the forest), and I can only imagine it was included because Porumboiu fancied a few days' holiday in Singapore (idem La Gomera, actually: anything to get out of Bucharest). Still, for all its many faults, it's intriguing, a film about watching, and being watched: surveillance is the key word - almost everyone is being filmed or bugged, and most know they are - and we spectators are of course watching all the time. Add obvious references like Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" and (an extract from) Ford's The Searchers and it's not hard to see why the movie got shortlisted for Cannes. But.. that dreadful plastic Garden Rhapsody ending, ugh. Well see what you think..
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