Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by Dan Warburton »

Claud601 wrote:Does anyone have a torrent link for the "Industrial soundtrack for The Urban Decay" documentary?
I can't see it at KG yet. Looks like an interesting documentary though, will keep my eyes peeled. (That sounds painful enough to be a TG lyric) Meanwhile -

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Asghar Farhadi, Darbāreye Elly ("About Elly"), 2009

Good news: Jeb Bush is out of the race. Bad news: Donald Trump isn't. Sorry to drag the Presidential Flea Circus into this erudite discussion :) but the word "Bush" comes to mind every time I see a great Iranian film, along with a brutal and terrible desire to insert DVD of said film (in its box) sideways into rectum of said ex-president for that notorious "axis of evil" speech. Enough policiticking - it's good to see that a few of W's compatriots don't agree with him.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Stephen Frears, My Beautiful Laundrette, 1985

I still have a hard time accepting the cult classic status that's been accorded to this film, which is far from Frears' best (The Hit and Prick Up Your Ears are much better, and even the director's next collaboration with Hanif Kureishi, Sammy And Rosie Get Laid is more convincing). The story itself is rather hard to take - there was a tendency at the time, in the darkest days of Thatcher's Britain, to exaggerate the misery and make villains blacker than black (a trend that Frears himself sent up wonderfully in Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, the episode he directed for The Comic Strip) - but even if you believe that characters like Nasser and Salim really exist(ed), they wouldn't be spouting the kind of crap they do here. The script is truly awful at times, and the acting isn't much better: with the benefit of history, punters rave at Daniel Day Lewis's performance, which isn't all that special, but the less said about Gordon Warnecke and Saeed Jaffrey the better. So why was it such a smash? Because it "shone a bright light on the savagery of 80s Britain"? Because it showed Asians were just as capable of being assholes as white folks ("I'm a professional businessman, not a professional Pakistani!")? Or because we got to see Omar and Johnny getting it on on the kitchen table? (Most of the IMDb raves seem to focus on the gay subtext, which as far as I'm concerned is nothing more than that: a subtext) Whatever, I now find it horribly dated - that cold materialist greed-is-good vibe still works for me in Greenaway's films of the time, precisely because they're so artificial, but elsewhere the mid-80s seem like a galaxy far far away to me now, in a way that the 70s, curiously, don't. That's just me, I guess. Anyone else seen this lately?
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Chantal Akerman, No Home Movie, 2015

Even if you didn't know (and now you do, since I'm telling you :) ) that this was Chantal Akerman's last film - she committed suicide aged 65 last October, outliving her beloved mother by barely a year - I suspect you'd find it a moving experience. Moving but also frustrating, as Akerman's very good at parking her camera and letting it roll just long enough for you to start wondering what the hell's going on. Or going on offscreen - as we often hear sounds and dialogue taking place in another room, or outside, and end up wishing we could see that instead of a half-open door, a kitchen table, a pair of vases on a bookshelf. Hence the frustration: but Akerman understood that great Cage line (“if something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”) very well. Instead of switching off, the mind is moving, as Michael Pisaro would say, making connections, asking questions - where were these barren desert landscapes filmed? Israel, one assumes - the "no home" of the title assumes another level of meaning - knowing that Akerman's mother survived Auschwitz. The Holocaust is a spectral presence in Akerman's work, as it is in WG Sebald's, casting its shadow but only rarely explicitly mentioned. Not for her the traumatic tales Lech Kowalski's mother tells in East Of Paradise (another truly great film that I recommend to you without reservation) - the daughter / mother conversation, sometimes over that kitchen table, sometimes via Skype from Oklahoma, is more likely to be about whether there's any mustard in the fridge or saying affectionate extended goodbyes. I mean, you're not going to call your mother from NYC and go, "Hi Mom, tell me about those gas chambers again, wouldja?" We live much of our lives in the world of the unsaid, the non-dit, the unspoken secrets of the past - ask yourself how much you really know about your parents' lives? I reckon you'll be surprised - or the unspoken terrors of the future. When we see old Mrs Akerman coughing awfully and drifting in and out of sleep in her easy chair, we know she's not got long to go. And so does Chantal, whom we also see sitting across from her, filming her. There's something disturbing here: does she have the right to film this, does she have the right to release it to the wider world for others do see, and do we have the right to watch it? And that "it" is not just mother, you understand. At one point, Akerman zooms in so close to the Skype image on her laptop screen that we see her own dark, slightly fuzzy reflection in the background, haunting her own film. And on the few occasions we see her shuffling in and out of the shot in the Brussels apartment, we're aware that she too is growing old. Reminds me of a line by Quentin Crisp: "if you live long enough, you become the same age as your parents. If you're three and your mother is 30, she might be from another planet. If you're 53 and your mother is 83, what the hell, you're just two little old people." Hell, that reminds me, I turn 53 in June. A wonderful film, watch it.
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jon abbey
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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I knew the age differences on that Crisp quote didn't make sense, here is the actual quote (just googled):

"My mother lived until I was in my fifties, and of course, if you live long enough, you become the same age as your parents. If you're three and your mother is thirty, she might be from another planet. If you're fifty-three and your mother is eighty-three, what the hell, you're just two little old people."

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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jon abbey wrote:I knew the age differences on that Crisp quote didn't make sense, here is the actual quote (just googled):

"My mother lived until I was in my fifties, and of course, if you live long enough, you become the same age as your parents. If you're three and your mother is thirty, she might be from another planet. If you're fifty-three and your mother is eighty-three, what the hell, you're just two little old people."
See what I mean? Senility setting in :lol: (Original post amended..) Good detective work Jon. I love the other quote in that interview, "my father died when I was 22, more or less in self-defence"
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Thom Andersen, The Thoughts That Once We Had, 2015

I've tried on several occasions to get through Gilles Deleuze's monumental tome on cinema, but have never quite managed it. It looks like Thom Andersen has though, as he's chosen to illustrate his own histoire(s) du cinéma with quotes from the philosopher. Or vice versa. Whatever, I'm still not sure I understand half of the quotes he's chosen here, but I enjoyed the eclectic selection of films, which range from Harry Langdon to Hank Ballard, via Griffith, Groucho and Godard. Particularly Godard, not surprisingly perhaps - super ending, juxtaposing Marianne Faithfull's a cappella vocal of "As Tears Go By" from Made in USA with the later, time-ravaged voice over the final credits. Overall, it's not as forbidding as the Godard Histoire(s) (few things are..), but it's often a head scratcher nevertheless.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Jean-Claude Brisseau, L'ange noir, 1994

Not a bad late acting debut from 60s yé-yé heartthrob (and former Mrs Hallyday) Sylvie Vartan, but one senses Brisseau has allowed himself to get drawn away from the basic noir plot by all those pretty (and naked) young things cavorting in his hero's dream sequences. A few years later the director got into real trouble with his casting couch antics.. but here he just about makes it through to the end. As usual, the golden lighting is sumptuous, but that Jean Musy soundtrack is a wee bit cloying.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Michel Gondry, Human Nature, 2001

Great fun, with Patricia Arquette getting all hairy, Miranda Otto going seriously French, Tim Robbins getting het up over table manners and white mice learning to eat with the right fork - if they don't they get a serious electric shock, which is what happens to poor Puff (Rhys Ifans) when he tries to hump the waitress in the upmarket eatery Robbins takes him to. Sharp and snazzy Charlie Kaufman script, and typically flashy (in the right way) direction from Gondry. Watch out for cool cameos from Robert Forster and Alex Cox regulars Sy Richardson and Miguel Sandoval.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Alexander Zeldovich, Mishen ("Target"), 2011

No, not Eyes Wide Shut again, but there is a bacchanale towards the end that Stanley might have liked - and the use of the mask as message ("I know what you've been doing") does feature in Zeldovich's film, which could be a direct homage to Kubrick's swansong. Thereafter, comparisons with other great movies end, though you could probably draw a few parallels between this and Stalker - Russians in search of some form of enlightenment head to remote place apparently imbued with mystical powers. Here though it's not the overgrown weedy building site of The Zone, but a gigantic immaculate Jasper Johns-like land art circle in the middle of Mongolia able to attract some funky radiation which stops the ageing process. The eternal dream of eternal life, again. And of course when they get it they realise that it's not as wonderful as all that. But Zeldovich doesn't seem to want to follow up on his diverging plotlines, and fails to explore some of the fascinating moral and psychological dilemmas, not that I find any of the principal protagonists very likeable. I don't care much for well-heeled arrogant Russian yuppies in real life, so I'm not all that drawn to them in a work of fiction.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Takeshi Kitano, Outrage Beyond, 2012

I recommend watching this one right after the one that came before, to remind yourself of who's who. I have to admit I prefer Kitano's earlier more oddball yakuza outings - this one concentrates more on the, umm, psychology of the characters and less on the action, but as I've never really watched a yakuza flick in search of deep and complex characters (this is not The Godfather, even though many folks would appear to want it to be) I can't say I felt very engaged with the people. Still, ends with a nice bang.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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I saw Spotlight (McCarthy, 2015) the other day, and it reminded me of Jon's recent remarks about the additional things that can be done with a mini-series. It seemed to me that something was lost here by starting this thing when the Globe team finally started a series. As there weren't flashbacks either, and only a couple of interviews with victims, one never really felt the full force of the....long....wait. A couple of embarrassed "looks" from Michael Keaton doesn't seem like enough to me.

Incidentally, I've met a couple of the Spotlight writers featured in that movie--Robinson and Kurkjian: they were both involved in a series on workers' compensation. I never met Bradlee, but I always figured him as a WASPier figure than that, but maybe that's only because Howie ('dickhead') Carr regularly refers to the Globe as the home of the "bowtied bumkissers." Anyhow, I thought the movie was good, but nothing special. You know--Oscar material.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Richard Fleischer, The Boston Strangler, 1968

Not the first use of split screen (Stanley Donen's Indiscreet sez Wiki, must check), nor perhaps the most famous (The Thomas Crown Affair, surely?), but certainly the best I've seen. Fleischer was the consummate business professional, the director who always delivered quality product on time and on (even under) budget. Casting Tony Curtis was a smart move, even if we have to wait until halfway through the movie before he shows up - that said, I don't think he deserved an Oscar (he didn't get one anyway), though he obviously disagreed. And Fonda père delivers the necessary gravitas. A fascinating if rather dated snapshot of the seamier side of American life at the end of the 60s.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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David Michôd, The Rover, 2014

As a dystopian "western" set in the backside of nowhere in Australia "ten years after the collapse", comparisons with Mad Max are inevitable, but director Michôd tries to head 'em off at the pass by slowing down the action to near-Antonioni pace and using Tortoise and Scelsi (amongst others) as a soundtrack. The two stars, Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, are suitably ugly, sweaty and unshaven throughout, the former grimly uncommunicative, the latter a fidgety semi-retarded expat Texan (well that's what the accent sounds like anyway), and both set out on an "adventure" to find Pearce's car, stolen by Pattinson's brother somewhere up the line. When you finally find out why he wanted the car back, you might laugh.. Another one to add to the rather large pile of Australian Desert Hell movies.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Raoul Ruiz, Point de fuite, 1984

"If you can make it complicated, why make it simple?" asked Ruiz once. Hm, I can think of several good answers to that question, but then again, when I'm in the mood, I do enjoy the challenge of a bona fide modernist mindfuck. Klees and Kandinskys on the wall, Joyce and Prynne on the bedside table, Boulez, Babbitt and Carter on the gramophone :) - and a Raoul Ruiz film that'll have you scratching your head so much you may need to buy an anti-dandruff shampoo. What the hell is it all about? An addicted gambler - turns out this is the guy whose story Barbet Schroeder told in Tricheurs (see post above) - seems to be stuck in a hotel (?) in a remote village on the west coast of Portugal, playing cards with Paolo Branco and engaging in elliptical conversations with some of the other pensionnaires, which include his ex-wife and a Danish bloke. Ruiz describes it as a "melancolic thriller", and it's certainly melancolic all right, but.. not all that thrilling. Those big names of High Modernism cited above draw me back again and again to question assumptions and, little by little, the work begins to yield up its secrets. That may be the case with this film, but I can't say I'm tempted to revisit it - the director seems ready to admit himself it's not a major work in his oeuvre - I've enjoyed other Ruizs much more lately, as previous posts have made clear.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Arthur Penn, Target, 1985

Starts out with cheesy 80s TV-movie muzak in dreary DIY store in Texas, but when Hackman's wife goes AWOL in Paris he and his son, played very well by a young hunky Matt Dillon, go to investigate and Dad's previous employment record comes to light.. Won't spoil it for you more than that by telling the story, as it's a good, solid spy movie with fine location footage in Paris, Hamburg and Berlin. Most of the human interest side of it is about the father / son bonding (bit of a yawn, but the script is sharp enough to avoid too many cringes), and the end is a bit sudden and uninspired, but well worth a look if you want an accessible and well-crafted thriller.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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an education

i remember going round to my friend jonny's house when i was a teenager. there were days when his depression would leave him unable to get out of bed, just a shadow lying there in limbo. i remember his father coming in and asking if he wanted anything to eat, anything to drink, anything at all. seeing his father standing in the doorway completely helpless - deeply worried but having no idea how to deal with something so at odds with his lifetime of male emotional detachment. completely out of his depth... but as much as i wanted to grab him and shake him, tell him that he had to be better for his son - it was so much more complicated than that. i feel so small whenever i see people left helpless not by their own doing but through the conditioning they've recieved over their life and the opportunities they haven't had. - i guess if i knew more, had better social skills perhaps, or more opportunities i could have avoided being helpless at times too. perhaps i could have done more than i did for jonny or known what to say to his father.

for this reason and other's i found an education very affecting - particularly the father's story. affecting and simultaniously irritating - i hated the picture of women painted by this film - which paints itself as a fable but looks down on us from the 50s. pretty fantastic performances all around.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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I assume we're talking about this one http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1174732/ ?
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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I saw An Education (2009) back in the day (gosh has it really been that long?). I thought it was an excellent movie, don't remember too much about it except for Peter Saarsgaard whom I liked from the very beginning.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Alexander Zeldovich, Mishen ("Target"), 2011
Only seen this once, but I really enjoyed it and think it has the potential to be something of a cult classic, although more people need to see it for that to happen ;) I tend to have a weakness for films with lofty aspirations, even if they don't completely succeed, and this one has that certain simultaneity of whimsicality and dense-as-shit-ness.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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dialectics of shit wrote:I tend to have a weakness for films with lofty aspirations, even if they don't completely succeed, and this one has that certain simultaneity of whimsicality and dense-as-shit-ness.
Yes, good point. Lofty aspirations.. well, depends on the film. Last Tycoon and Until The End Of The World, yes, Heaven's Gate and Tree of Life no.
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