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Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:19 am
by Dan Warburton
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Frank Tashlin, Artists and Models, 1955

I have to admit, Jerry Lewis drives me up the fucking wall (I also understand why Jim Carrey does now, too), but at least you can see where he was coming from - the Stooges, Harpo, Abbott.. - and Tashlin's gaudy decor is always a treat. Love how the potty Cold War spy plot doesn't kick in until half an hour from the end! (Also love the Jimmy Stewart Rear Window gag...) Not as good as Rock Hunter, but a pleasantly harmless way to start the year..


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Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers, 1966

Drop dead masterpiece. Can't for the life of me figure out why I'd never seen it before. Any film that appeals to George W. Bush (who had a private screening arranged by the Pentagon to try and teach him to "understand" terrorists..) and Andreas Baader (who said it was his favourite movie) must have something going for it, for sure. Awesome faux-documentary footage from the Casbah, terrific Morricone soundtrack, great script and superb performances from a cast of non-actors, with the exception of Jean Martin. Wow.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:35 pm
by dialectics of shit
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Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Kış Uykusu (Winter Sleep), 2014

Didn't grip me in the same way as Anatolia, but for a movie where so much of the effect is the thick undercurrent of tension and judgement and bitterness, there was something very comforting about watching this — like wrap-up-in-a-blanket-in-front-of-the-fire comforting. I think it's the seasonal overlap more than anything, although the weather here is certainly nowhere near as inhospitable.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:22 am
by Piano Mouth
Will need to see that one, big fan of Distant, kinda rings true for me on a personal level too. I've got a no good cousin in NY that I've been trying to stay with but he's such an a-hole it's not even funny.

I just saw Pigs and Battleships by Imamura. Enjoyed it a lot. The intro said it was purely fictional but it must've been somewhat based on real events of American sailors landing in Japan and the nightlife of prostitutes, gangsters and nightclubs Etc interwoven with a Japanese couple's plan to make it out of city and away from the underworld which was portrayed to be rather comical. Excellent film, and my first intro to the dir.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:01 am
by Dan Warburton
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Giuseppe De Santis, Roma Ore 11, 1952

There's always a healthy dose of melodrama and romantic cliché even in the most famous Italian neorealist films, and this one, though based on a rather gruesome true story (no spoilers, go find the details yourself) is often as funny as it is genuinely touching. Awesome camerawork of the staircase. Would be nice to have a smartly restored print. Well worth it, imo



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Olivier Assayas, L'enfant d'hiver, 1989

Bit of a disappointment, this early (his second?) feature by Assayas. Well acted – not that you really care about any of the characters, a pretty cowardly, selfish bunch – and well-filmed, in its rather film-schooly way (do we really need those Fassbinder 360° turns and shots in the mirror? I think not..), but if you want tortured relationships and painful communication, Philippe Garrel's your man.


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Joseph H. Lewis, The Big Combo, 1955

Bit of a wimpy ending, which is a shame, as the rest of the movie is vintage noir. Terrific black and white, snappy dialogue (the bad guy gets the best lines of course), but the leading lady's a bit colourless. Watch out for young Lee Van Cleef though as one of the mafia henchmen. Nice cameo of Jakob Gimpel playing piano too.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:57 pm
by Dan Warburton
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Aki Kaurismäki, Mies vailla menneisyyttä (“The Man Without a Past”), 2002

One of my several (and no doubt never to be realised, like all the others) New Year's Resolutions is to watch everything I can get my paws on by Aki Kaurismäki (amongst others.. Kiarostami and Kitano too.. it's a K year). I can't believe how good this film is – not only how it looks (great filming and framing), but in the quality of its script, acting and soundtrack. And its timing: wonderfully paced, it's quite short – an hour and a half – but stretches out to feel much more substantial. Guess AK learned that from Bresson. The Kaurismäki / Jarmusch connection has often been noted (JJ popped up in a cameo role in Leningrad Cowboys, and later “borrowed” some of Kaurismäki's regulars for the Helsinki episode of Night On Earth), so if you like Jim you'll find much to enjoy here. Can't say much more, really, because I haven't seen enough. Paging our man in Finland, Matt Wuethrich – any thoughts, Matt?

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:45 am
by Dan Warburton
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RIP.. we also lost Francesco Rosi this weekend (but he's not quite as photogenic 8-) ) (A propos, by way of tribute, KG has made Tre Fratelli a Featured Torrent.. if you don't know it, go snatch it

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:12 am
by Dan Warburton
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John Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China, 1986

Enjoyable but lightweight action flick with Kurt Russell trying to outdo John Wayne and not taking it very seriously. Fun first time round. A return visit won't be necessary (soundtrack not bad though)


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Pedro Costa, Casa de Lava, 1994

Wow, what is this about? Even Costa has admitted he doesn't entirely know – a sort of remake of I Walked With A Zombie that takes place on the blasted volcanic island of Fogo (amazing landscapes). I can't summarize the plot (and wouldn't if I could..), but the images will remain with me for a long time to come, for sure. Any film with Edith Scob in it must be good. Have yet to find an exception to that “rule”


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Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Deux jours une nuit, 2014

Yawn. So our heroine has two days to persuade her colleagues to forego a 1000€ bonus so she can keep her job in a dingy little company somewhere in the suburbs of Liège (at least it's sunny this time). Quite why the Dardennes wanted to sign up a star like Cotillard just to make her look dowdy and miserable, I dunno (surely some local Belgian chick would have done the job for substantially less money, and just as well). We don't even have the facile kneejerk Loach-y satisfaction of knowing the boss is an asshole and the worker a hero. Hell, if I were the boss of this outfit I wouldn't take her back. A bore.


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Anthony Mann, The Naked Spur, 1953

Long overdue for a Blu-Ray release – classic western, complete with tortured Jimmy Stewart hero, dialobical sniggering villain (Robert Ryan, spectacular), and feisty tomboy sidekick (Janet Leigh). Shot on location in the Rockies (helluva way from Abilene, where they're trying to get to, but never mind). Soundtrack's a bit too colourful, but then again so's the landscape. Great stuff.


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Derek Jarman, Sebastiane, 1976

I liked this last time I saw it, but I guess the novelty of good-looking lads frolicking in the bath in slowmotion, not to mention the Latin spoken dialogue (yes, Latin as in hic haec hoc not Jennifer Lopez) has worn off. The execution scene's pretty, if that's the word. So's the Eno music.


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Lisandro Alonso, Fantasma, 2006

The two “stars” of Alonso's first two films, La libertad and Los muertos, get lost backstage in a Buenos Aires cinema before a private screening of the latter. Umm, that's about all, folks, though to read what some crrritics have written online, it's supposed to be the best use of sound since Walter Murch. Hm, hardly, though it does exert a curious fascination. Where did that dog come from? Did Misael bring it with from the pampa? Go figure


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Joon-Hwan Jang, Save The Green Planet, 2003

This film is totally fucked. The sequence ripping off 2001 and intercutting it with Dachau and Nam combat footage is daring enough (there's also a hilarious poke in the eye for Usual Suspects), not to mention the cop who gets stung to death by bees, but wait till you get to the lunar eclipse. Holy shit, Batman!


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Sergei Eisenstein, Strike, 1925

In addition to the baby being thrown off the balcony, there's cow being butchered, several near fatal drownings by water cannon, and a guy who gets his neck crushed in a doorway. Crikey! Vive la révolution!

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:07 am
by Dan Warburton
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Guy Gilles, L'amour à la mer, 1963

Good to see a decent DVD release of the first three features of this often overlooked director, who was rather sidelined by the Cahiers crowd - Luc Moullet wrote a rather snotty review of this one - and died of AIDS in his 50s. Born in Algeria, he moved to Paris after his mother died and left him enough to shoot a couple of shorts (the story he tells himself in this movie about living dirt cheap in Pigalle chambres de bonnes is largely autobiographical), and managed to pull off quite a coup here by persuading Alain Delon, Juliette Greco, Jean-Claude Brialy and Jean-Pierre Léaud to appear. Not for long, mind - the two principal characters (Geneviève Thénier and Daniel Moosmann) carry much of the film. Which is, basically, your standard lovers separated, he in Brest she in Paris. If you like similar storylines in Demy, Rozier and Rohmer you'll enjoy this.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:41 am
by Dan Warburton
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Edward Dmytryk, Murder My Sweet, 1944

Yep, certainly belongs in the Noir Top Ten. Watching this one again after a long time, I see where Elliott Gould in Altman's Long Goodbye came from - Dick Powell's Marlowe is much more amusing and laidback (check the pic above, and his hopscotch in the Grayle mansion) than Bogart or Mitchum. Crazy drug nightmare sequence, ridiculously complex plot, wild camera work and lighting. Brilliant stuff.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:55 am
by Dan Warburton
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Blake Edwards, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961

God knows why I went back to watch this one again (actually, I do know - I snatched a HD rip during the KG freeleech, but never mind), as it's a total non-event of a film, with the flimsiest and most implausible of plots, cardboard characters and no sense of pace at all. Audrey Hepburn's nice to look at, but do yourself a favour and go have a look at her via Google Images instead of wasting two hours of your life. What a wank.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:07 am
by Dan Warburton
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Aki Kaurismäki, I Hired A Contract Killer, 1990

Jean-Pierre Léaud is, as we've said before, an acquired taste, but if you've decided you can't stand him you'll be depriving yourself of some of the greatest films made in the last 50 years (and you don't need me to tell you which ones). But the annoyingly verbose Léaud of La maman is lightyears away from the morose, taciturn character he plays (to perfection) here (shades not only of Keaton, but of Paris Texas-era Harry Dean Stanton..). Unceremoniously laid off from his dreary desk job in 1990 London (shades of Brazil..) - though the desolate cityscapes, cars and costumes look more like late 70s than Thatcher's glittering free market City - Henri Boulanger decides to take a contract out on himself - and then changes his mind. Even if you don't appreciate AK's deadpan humour as much as I do, you'll thrill to the fabulous cinematography, great use of light and colour, and splendid cameos from Joe Strummer and Serge Reggiani. A delight.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:24 am
by Dan Warburton
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Philippe Garrel, les enfants désaccordés, 1964

Just 15 minutes long and the work of a 19-year-old, the entire universe of Garrel's cinema is already there in embryo.. alienation, frustration, incomprehension, ennui.. gorgeous! Hope a subtitled DVD might appear one day, meanwhile you snatch it on KG and enjoy watching the young director squirm in a TV interview :)

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:28 am
by Dan Warburton
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Chantal Akerman, Dis-moi, 1980

..and it'd be lovely to see a decently restored and subtitled release of this priceless set of conversations between Akerman and Parisian Jewish grandmothers recalling their lives in pre- and post-War Poland (and feeding the young director with as many cakes as she can gobble down)

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 3:05 am
by Dan Warburton
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Jean-Luc Godard, Adieu au langage, 2014

Post-Histoire(s) du Cinéma Godard is so stuffed with references to other films and quotations from writers and philosophers (all tastefully sprinkled with his trademark sliced and diced classical music soundtrack) you come out at the other end scratching your head and feeling as intelligent as a tree sloth. Sure, in one way this sensory overload is the way we confront our world in the first place (I realised this on the way to work today, when it suddenly occurred to me that I was perfectly capable of reading a book of interviews with a German film director while listening to Os Mutantes singing in French, paying attention to a security alert announcement on the Métro and watching a couple of pretty Japanese tourists poring over a Lonely Planet street map) - but whereas pre-Mao Godard left you saying "wow, isn't he brilliant?", all I can think of after watching the recent stuff is "wow, aren't I stupid?" Look, without wanting to brag, I consider myself to be reasonably well-educated, well-read and probably above average when it comes to music and film, but I reckon I "got" about 5% of the references first time round, and about 15% on a second viewing. But that doesn't mean anything: simply patting yourself on the back for IDing Blanchot, Badiou or Beckett means jackshit - you have to freeze-frame and figure out how they might intersect meaningfully (?) with Lang, Schönberg, the principal actor taking a shit (no shit) and the (far too many, imo) shots of the Godard family dog. I'm reminded of Susan Sontag's line on Finnegan's Wake: "That Joyce expected his readers to devote their whole lives to this book may seem an outrageous demand; but it is a logical one, considering the singularity of his work." I'm afraid I'd rather spend 65 minutes gazing at the Nicolas de Staël paintings Godard so adores (the man always had good taste, after all), and will have to resign myself to dying without fathoming out this film. I just wish he'd hold some of these gorgeous shots, even the ones in garish digital colour (for 3D), a little longer. As it is, this amusing capsule from a French review rather sums it up: "On l’attendait avec impatience et ce nouvel assaut de Jean-L…pffffuuuuiiiit…. crrrrrrrrrr…. couple se déchire/nature élégiaque/laclémanlaclémanlacléman… la clé ment…ouahouahouah (aboiements), le chien philosophe erre dans la forêt que les IndiensBeethovenHitlerFreudCOURT/COURTCIRCUIT/COURTMETRAGE/COURBET/cutcutcutcutcut…" :D

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:16 pm
by Dan Warburton
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James Benning, Four Corners, 1997

Ah, now here's a structuralism I can grasp (though by no means in its entirety) with relative ease: four lives of four painters (one fictional), followed by four narrations of places (not all in the Four Corners region, but all referring to the migration, displacement and destruction of the peoples of North America) read over an unchanging image by the preceding painter, each followed by thirteen static shots of places referred to in the preceding narrative, the whole framed by two songs. Of course, Mr Rosenbaum goes into more detail here http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1997/1 ... l-adds-up/ - and I share some of his reservations about Benning's choice of painters and written potted biogs (Monet?). But the way each section resonates with what comes before it, and, with the passage of time sets up larger cross-references, both textually (Milwaukee = Farmington) and visually (Richard Wetherell's tombstone - section 1 image 11 - and the graveyard - section 4 image 11..) is thought-provoking and moving. My first Benning, looking forward to more soon.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:26 pm
by Dan Warburton
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Charles Burnett, The Horse, 1973

No description necessary. Watch it. Terrific.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:33 pm
by dialectics of shit
Dan Warburton wrote:James Benning, Four Corners, 1997

My first Benning, looking forward to more soon.
Haven't caught this one yet, but it sounds right up my alley. For other Benning, I would say that Ten Skies, 13 Lakes, and RR are musts, with Ruhr, Small Roads, and El valley centro not too far behind.

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:03 pm
by Salty Swift
Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Aki Kaurismäki, Mies vailla menneisyyttä (“The Man Without a Past”), 2002

One of my several (and no doubt never to be realised, like all the others) New Year's Resolutions is to watch everything I can get my paws on by Aki Kaurismäki (amongst others.. Kiarostami and Kitano too.. it's a K year). I can't believe how good this film is – not only how it looks (great filming and framing), but in the quality of its script, acting and soundtrack. And its timing: wonderfully paced, it's quite short – an hour and a half – but stretches out to feel much more substantial. Guess AK learned that from Bresson. The Kaurismäki / Jarmusch connection has often been noted (JJ popped up in a cameo role in Leningrad Cowboys, and later “borrowed” some of Kaurismäki's regulars for the Helsinki episode of Night On Earth), so if you like Jim you'll find much to enjoy here. Can't say much more, really, because I haven't seen enough. Paging our man in Finland, Matt Wuethrich – any thoughts, Matt?

Dan - I've been watching a slew of Finnish films lately.
Out of the Kaurismaki cannon, I'd recommend The Match Factory Girl, Leningrad Cowboys, Le Havre (there are a couple of other titles that escape me right now).....
The other ones that stand are The Princess of Egypt, Naked Harbour and my favourite Kekkonen Tulee (priceless - cinematography and scrip is worth the price of admission alone)......
Don't get me started on the Norwegian or Swedish films please......

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:11 pm
by Salty Swift
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Force Majeure (2014 - Ruben Östlund)
Oddly, the original title is Tourists.....a couple who are strangers to each other. One of them gets demoted by a horrifying experience.
The other one craps on their better half.
I had an elongated discussion on this film today with a close couple tonight over dinner......I tend to disagree.
I find the wife to be the evil one. She's the one who puts everyone down.....sure, the husband looses his cool and does "the wrong thing" in a state of shock,
but she's the evil one....she's the one that hits nail on the proverbial coffin once too many times....
Brilliant film. Spectacular cinematography. Extended shots. Perfect soundtrack.
I'm not sure if I can find a fault with this 2 hour masterpiece yet.....any wonder this didn't make the cut for the Best Foreign Film category.....

Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:32 am
by Matt Wuethrich
Dan Warburton wrote:Can't say much more, really, because I haven't seen enough. Paging our man in Finland, Matt Wuethrich – any thoughts, Matt?
Seeing this in a grimy theater in Kotka, a seaside city in southern Finland, when it first came out is one of my favorite cinematic experiences ever. That of course was helped along by the bottle of vodka we brought in but the fact that it lacked subtitles and that I knew very little Finnish at the time was no barrier to enjoying and understanding it. I take this in some ways as testament to Kaurismäki’s skill. Everything is so clear and there on the screen, even if he doesn’t always show the ‘action’.

This is the middle part of his so-called Finnish trilogy, the other two being Drifting Clouds and Lights in the Dusk. Both are worth your time, but this is still my favorite (probably for sentimental reasons.)

Will concur with Le Havre and Match Factory Girl, but would add two earlier films, Calamari Union and Shadows in Paradise, to the list. I remember being confused by his mid-90s black-and-white films Juha (a silent melodrama) and Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (a road comedy) but perhaps I should revisit. Calamari Union is particularly odd, about 15 guys named Frank trying to get from one side of Helsinki to the other.

Now that I start looking at his filmography, I realize there are a bunch I should catch up on...
Salty Swift wrote:I've been watching a slew of Finnish films lately.
Seen The Earth is a Sinful Song (Maa on syytinen laulu) yet? That's a wild one. If I had seen it before I moved to Finland, I might never have come. :D