Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Armando Iannucci, In The Loop, 2009

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/a ... oop-review "Iannucci approaches politicians and their staff with a dark loathing that goes far beyond Yes Minister, the TV series so much admired by Margaret Thatcher and only equalled in satirical terms by Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove and Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man!" Dark loathing indeed - was the TV series it spun off from as foulmouthed? 135 fucks and five cunts, and most of those seem to come from the mouth of Peter "Doctor Who" Capaldi. It's hilarious - but uncomfortably close to reality. Even more so today, I imagine, as a casual skim through Sasha Swire's tell-all diaries seems to indicate. (I wouldn't bother if I were you - the diaries, not the film, I mean)
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:33 pm
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Armando Iannucci, In The Loop, 2009

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/a ... oop-review "Iannucci approaches politicians and their staff with a dark loathing that goes far beyond Yes Minister, the TV series so much admired by Margaret Thatcher and only equalled in satirical terms by Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove and Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man!" Dark loathing indeed - was the TV series it spun off from as foulmouthed? 135 fucks and five cunts, and most of those seem to come from the mouth of Peter "Doctor Who" Capaldi. It's hilarious - but uncomfortably close to reality. Even more so today, I imagine, as a casual skim through Sasha Swire's tell-all diaries seems to indicate. (I wouldn't bother if I were you - the diaries, not the film, I mean)
You should hunt down Veep, the show he did in the US about American politics. Great stuff, and suprisingly textured and intelligent. Chris Morris does directing duties on quite a few episodes, and it's Julia Louis-Dreyfus's finest hour since Seinfeld.

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Robert Mulligan - The Other (1972)

Wow. I did not expect this coming into it, but this is one fine film. Two twins, one naughty, one nice, stalking and haunting the family home in 1930s Connecticut. Spoiler alert: the naughty boy Holland is dead, or is he? How and where do you draw the line? It is a testament to the film’s power that it doesn’t really matter if you know this going in, or if you pick up on it as you watch, as I did. (The film is scripted by Thomas Tryon from his book of the same name - I must check that out as a matter of some urgency, now). That’s also why I like the film as much as I do - how I dearly hate all those soggy twists and reveals in seventies horror cinema. A hammy insight, the curtains drop to unmask the wings of the theatre, and you’re supposed to work backwards from that. But here, you don’t work backwards, you work inwards, the lineaments of a horrific imaginary/reality visible and given body in the narrative. Released sufficiently close to the more vaguely contoured dread of the sixties, it reminds me of Rossen’s Lilith: the same kind of pathology tracked and fleshed out in the frame, not pointing to anything but itself. (And, I’m actually reminded of Kim Jee-won’s A Tale of Two Sisters, much along the same lines.) And the icy horror when you see that, although the bad boy is dead and in his coffin, there is no escaping the fact that it is the good boy Niles who’d desecrates the body with garden shears to get the grandfather’s ring from his brother’s finger. Twin - what twin? What “Other”? The bad and the good residing in and haunting the same body. And, a surprisingly dark ending too, for the period, but this I will not spoil. One of the best twin-themed films I’ve seen since Dead Ringers, excellent.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Benoît Delépine & Gustave Kervern, Aaltra, 2004

Pitch black humour, totally un-pc, shot (magnificently, too) in grainy black and white, it's a treat. No spoilers from me, but watch out for some in this fine review https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/d ... n-delepine Beckett meets Tati meets Lynch meets Ferreri. Has to be on the list of any Top Ten Road Movies. Brilliant.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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James Benning, Ruhr, 2009

A splendid summary here https://mubi.com/fr/notebook/posts/the- ... r-2009-usa followed by an illuminating exchange in the comments section (scroll down). Should I spoil things by telling you there are only seven shots in the film, and the last one lasts an hour? Well, I just did.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Donald Cammell, Demon Seed, 1977

Here's a fun little review https://shebloggedbynight.com/2017/demon-seed-1977/ of which this is my favourite bit: " There’s a little Exorcist in Demon Seed, a little 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it’s mostly Rosemary’s Baby with computers and a heady lack of shame." Certainly worth a look for the husband's Bricklin SV1 and the enormous, clunky computers, and the thrill (?) of watching someone get crushed to death by a giant geodesic tangram. The smart house isn't far off in the future, maybe it's already here for those who can afford it, but I doubt the IoT has come up with a solution to the perfect martini yet.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Roman Polanski - The Tenant (1976)

Hello there, strike whatever by this count against Polanski. The director plays a hapless man moving into a cramped Paris apartment, driven mad by the histrionics of the building and its inhabitants. First off: wouldn’t it make more aesthetic and artistic sense to have three principal English speaking actors - Polanski, Shelley Winters and Melvyn Douglas - dubbed into French so that the rest of Paris might be allowed to speak actual French? Adjani, I think, knows the language, as do Bernard Fresson, Claude Piéplu, Michel Blanc, all the myriad minor characters yoked to an ugly, braying yankee tongue. Fucking hell, it can sound ugly like this. But, authorial ego and the pressures of the market gets in the way - Polanski does have a nice voice, and the film wasn’t made for a primarily European or French market. Sidetrack though, as this isn’t even the biggest problem with the film. As so frustratingly often with the director, this film does not feel like it needed, at all, to be made, or watched. Consequently, everything feels frivolous, indulgent, ad hoc, disingenuous. The narrative feels silly, the characterisation wilfully, childishly grotesque, the Kafkan failures and misapprehensions of communication as it were within heavy quotation marks. Exactly the same way I feel about Repulsion, Cul de Sac, Rosemary’s Baby, you name it. (Could be that Polanski wanted to respond to charges - if there were any, and there must have been - of misogyny in Repulsion by casting himself in essentially the same film. Still a failure) Contrarily, both Frantic and Bitter Moon feel urgent, the narratives compelling, and compelling you to watch. And then everything follows: the awesomely queasy interiors and cityscapes brilliantly poignant and THERE. The Tenant is a travesty, though. And just think what you could do with the idea of an apartment building as a surveillance society in miniature, what Fassbinder did in Angst vor der angst. Or, Themroc for losing it completely in a Paris apartment. Go there, but watch out for this turd.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Splendid write-up - funny, I remember enjoying The Tenant last time we saw it (which was a loooong time ago). I should try again. Meanwhile, it's a shame that Walt doesn't post here anymore, as I recall he's a big fan of this. We've been around these bushes before, though - unlike you, I like Cul de Sac and was underwhelmed by Bitter Moon.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Woody Allen, Celebrity, 1998

Woody's adoration of Bergman is well known, but he's always had a soft spot for Fellini too, it seems. If Alice was his take on Giulietta degli spiriti, you might say Celebrity is La Dolce Vita, but needless to say it's not a patch on the original. While I have nothing against movies that set out to skewer the shallow world of stardom, though they're not the first ones I reach for when deciding what to watch of an evening, this one is so chattery and cluttered it leaves you gasping for air after barely half an hour. And unfortunately it lasts for nearly two (what happened to those great, tight 80-90' wonders?). But worse than that, to quote this review https://popcornscorn.wordpress.com/2016 ... rity-1998/ is the casting of Kenneth Branagh. "That an actor the calibre of Branagh is reduced to not merely an impersonation, but a pure facsimile of Allen (the timing, intonations, stammers, tics, neurosis, shrewdness, anxiety, ignorance to social contexts) is unfortunate and, quite frankly, rather embarrassing. His character is a wholly terrible and insufferable person with poor judgement that makes it difficult to invest in any of his escapades." Quite. And Judy Davis too. Worst of all is this bit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMEig9gON6s - telling that when Fellini wants a real celebrity in Roma he gets Gore Vidal; the best Woody can come up with is.. Donald Trump. Yeurgh.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 12:44 am
Splendid write-up - funny, I remember enjoying The Tenant last time we saw it (which was a loooong time ago). I should try again. Meanwhile, it's a shame that Walt doesn't post here anymore, as I recall he's a big fan of this. We've been around these bushes before, though - unlike you, I like Cul de Sac and was underwhelmed by Bitter Moon.
Did you read Rosenbaum on Bitter Moon? It is a great appreciation, the one that lead me to the film. He sees it as a late career film a clef, an icy self-reckoning, a deconstruction. I think it helps if you are already a bit wary and unseduced by Polanski, as I am: it redeems him and his earlier career in a way. See what you think: https://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1994/04/bitter-moon/

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Yes I did read that - he's what I wrote last year
Dan Warburton wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:58 pm
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Roman Polanski, Bitter Moon, 1992

Wikipedia isn't the be all and end all of online culture as we all know, but it is a bit dispiriting to see that there is no Wiki page for Pascal Bruckner's novel Lunes de fiel, while there are dozens of links to Polanski's film based on it. Like Jonathan Rosenbaum, whose fine article on the movie piqued my curiosity https://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1994/04/sex-games/ I haven't read Bruckner's novel, but my wife has, and I'm somewhat tempted to give it a try, for the simple reason that Polanski's adaptation deviates from it in several respects (much as I like Hugh Grant's awfully English toodle-oo character, there's no Nigel Dobson in the book - he and his wife are French). No spoilers, but the book's better - and more disturbing. One review online compares this to Mary Harron's airbrushed American Pyscho, and I can see the point. Some things are better just read about rather than shown, not that Polanski's film is very explicit regarding the detail of Oscar and Mimi's sexual adventures. Perhaps a director more used to working with such themes (Breillat, Brisseau..) could have brought it off, or someone adopting a more radical fractured approach to narrative (Ruiz?). Polanski is after all a very conventional director, in that he likes to tell a good story and tell it well, and the four lead actors here do a splendid job, especially Peter Coyote.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Guy-Marc Hinant & Dominique Lohlé, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, 2009

It is, as it says, a portrait of David Toop through his record collection - but even Toop himself, at the end, seems to doubt he's said very much worth hearing. That's not true - I've always enjoyed David's books, and cherish very pleasant memories of an afternoon chatting together in the restaurant at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, sometime around when this film was made - but it depends on how interested you are in shamanic ceremonies in deepest Venezuela or the intricacies of Japanese garden design. I'll pass on the Aleister Crowley 7", if you don't mind - but Dean Elliott's Big Band's Zounds! was one hell of a discovery.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Kinji Fukasaku, Battle Royale, 2000

Fun and games on a remote Japanese island where a class of 15-year-olds is ordered to kill each other until only one remains. A similar idea ought to be tried with the US Senate, though as that's not likely to happen, guess we'll just have to make do with COVID. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Royale_(film) Takeshi Kitano's always good for a laugh, but I got a bit bored about halfway through. Still, as they say, it's a movie you should probably see, once. Once.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:15 pm
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Guy-Marc Hinant & Dominique Lohlé, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, 2009

It is, as it says, a portrait of David Toop through his record collection - but even Toop himself, at the end, seems to doubt he's said very much worth hearing. That's not true - I've always enjoyed David's books, and cherish very pleasant memories of an afternoon chatting together in the restaurant at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, sometime around when this film was made - but it depends on how interested you are in shamanic ceremonies in deepest Venezuela or the intricacies of Japanese garden design. I'll pass on the Aleister Crowley 7", if you don't mind - but Dean Elliott's Big Band's Zounds! was one hell of a discovery.
I started watching that, but got slightly annoyed that the first three albums he pulled out was stuff he either released or recorded, and released. Don't know if he needs to build himself up like that for the viewer, no one is going to come to this without knowing and admiring the man. And his difficult travels in Venezuela (that tale was told as early as Ocean of Sound). Churlish perhaps, so I will watch all of it.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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You're right - the only folks who are likely to see this are people who know of Toop's work. Watch it to the end if you like, but you won't be missing much if you don't. You can give this one a miss too:

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Peter Bogdanovich, Nickelodeon, 1976

Much as I enjoyed At Long Last Love, Bogdo's Cole Porter musical which came out a year before this and also died the death at the box office, this homage to the early days of moviemaking (the story basically ends when D.W. Griffith's The Clansman - later retitled Birth of a Nation - hits the screens) seems to drag, especially in the last half hour. The director was right though to prefer black and white - the theatrical cut was in colour, against his wishes - but that doesn't necessarily have to mean black and white characters. The O'Neals (père et fille) and Burt Reynolds (avec et sans moustache) are fine, but Brian Keith seems horrendously miscast (PB wanted Welles, didn't get him, and it shows), and Jane Hitchcock quite rightly returned to modelling afterwards.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Reinhard Wulf, James Benning: Circling The Image, 2003

Made before Benning went digital (see the link in the Ruhr review above), so one assumes he's moved on from his earlier "one roll of 16mm film per shot" Lumière Brothers aesthetic, but it's wonderful to see him chowing down in a lonely diner next to a desert motel. And great to see how he set up those shots of Lake Powell and the Salton Sea.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Woody Allen, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, 1982

"A wistful Woody Allen comedy aims low, and hits the mark," as Gene Siskel put it. Woody's Bergman / Mendelssohn remix is pleasant enough, the only real glitch being Mia Farrow, who seems uncomfortable in a role written for Diane Keaton. Can't think of anything else to say, really.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Ramin Bahrani, Chop Shop, 2007

Outstanding - though I am getting a little tired of reviews comparing to de Sica's Bicycle Thieves (albeit most favourably). Watching the excellent bonus interview with the director, a more apt comparison would seem to me to be with Pedro Costa's Ossos : the director spent an enormous amount of time getting to know the folks who live in the Iron Triangle next to Shea Stadium, painstakingly crafting his script and assembling his cast from the locals. It's a splendid film. Roger agreed with me too. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/chop-shop-2008-1 Not to be confused with an earlier film and a later TV series of the same name.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Germinal Alvarez, L'autre vie de Richard Kemp, 2012

Back to the future, or it's déjà vu all over again - but though there's no shortage of time-travel films out there, ranging from the utterly impossible but hugely enjoyable (Terminator, the first two) to the total headfuck (Shane Carruth's Primer), this relatively simple (haha) tale of a cop in La Rochelle - that's not stated anywhere in the film but I'll tell you anyway because I recognise the bridge - who, investigating a murder in 2010 that reminds him of a case he worked on back in 1989, gets pushed into the river and travels back to meet himself and his future girlfriend 21 years ago. I wouldn't bother trying to work out "the solution" - I doubt there is one, and in any case I wasted so much time trying to figure out Primer, not to mention Mulholland Dr. (a doddle in comparison to the Carruth), I'm not going to try again. Whatever, I quite enjoyed it, and admired the eye for detail - period cars, furniture, clothes, posters (ah, 1989 seems so far away now..) - and the make-up.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Shane Meadows, Dead Man's Shoes, 2004

Richard (Paddy Considine, who also co-wrote) comes home to Derbyshire from the Army "with a party in his head", as Tom Waits would say, a mission to revenge his brother Anthony, whose abuse at the hands of local drug thugs is shown in a series of grainy flashbacks. More detail here from Kermode, who liked it more than I did (though I think Straw Dogs has nothing to do with Death Wish, myself) https://www.theguardian.com/film/2004/a ... es.review1 . The problem, and I think it's a huge one, is that we see Richard together with Anthony all the way through the film whereas it turns out he was dead all along, having hanged himself in an outhouse of Riber Castle on the hills above Matlock. While the likes of Shyamalan can bring off such twists (they only work once, though: both The Village and The Sixth Sense were disappointing second time round), Meadows can't, or rather, doesn't seem to bother. In fact, there's no need for Anthony to be present in the abandoned farmhouse with his brother at all: Richard could have been shown talking to himself all the way through and it wouldn't have changed the nature of his revenge or his ultimate bloody redemption. Considine is excellent, but the rest of the cast aren't all that brilliant, and the editing is uneven (OK, so it was a low-budget affair and cast and crew went everywhere together in a camping car blabla.. nothing to brag about, because it looks cheap at times) - I fail to understand the ecstatic reviews over at IMDb. Then again, I often do.
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