Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Christopher Nolan, Tenet, 2020

So here it is, last year's big box office smash, which for reasons you can guess we didn't get to see in a cinema - a humble DVD has to suffice. Can't say I didn't enjoy it (but you enjoy Nolan movies in the same way you enjoy a comic book or a video game) - the director keeps things moving at a brisk pace and though it flags a bit in the final battle scene (hey, I never knew Siberia was so sunny!), it sustains its 150' duration quite well. Thankfully, Zimmer wasn't on hand to fuck everything up with another bludgeoning overscored mess, but Ludwig Göransson comes in a close second. Most of his music is eminently forgettable, if often obtrusive. Locations, nice; cinematography flashily impressive; acting as good as can be expected under the circumstances. The circumstances being the (initially) confusing time-flowing-backwards-and-forwards-simultaneously negative entropy claptrap (I shouldn't titter: the real world of quantum mechanics is just as mindbending, and the only string theory I've ever understood is how to tune a violin) - but behind all the scientific jiggery-pokery is a basic save-the-world Bond scenario complete with multiple MacGuffins and Harry Potter Horcruxes. Of course, numerous websites have tried to explain the whole thing, the most amusing of which is this one https://www.vulture.com/2020/09/tenet-e ... movie.html and I don't doubt that Nolan has fretted over each and every little detail (red = time going forward, blue and oxygen masks = time going backward etc etc) so that, if you feel inclined to watch the thing about 40 times you'll eventually figure it all out. Or realise that there's nothing much to figure out at all, when all's said and done. It's about saving the world, see, but I don't get the impression Nolan gives a flying fuck about the world or the people in it: there's hardly any humour, no sex, nobody ever eats anything, and even the flimsy pretext of our hero going back through the turnstiles to save Elizabeth Debicki because she wants to be with her little boy doesn't really add up to much, as Nolan clearly has no time to show the slightest touch of human warmth, maternal love, what have you. Just as well, as Ms Debicki's acting ability is in inverse proportion to the length of her neck. Pattinson, whose character was, I read, modelled on Christopher Hitchens (wonder what he'd have made of it), plays his kind of Corto Maltese figure with amused detachment and vowels recycled from his Lawrence of Arabia in Herzog's Queen of the Desert; Branagh does his Russian accent with the same kind of manic intensity as he did Woody Allen in Celebrity; Michael Caine does Michael Caine. As for the hero, The Protagonist, John David Washington, does the job as well can be expected... His dad would have had more charisma, but Denzel's getting on a bit and wouldn't be able to do all that running about. So. The question is: do I want to watch this again (and again) to "get" more of the details? Not sure there's much to get, to be honest, but that seems to be part of Nolan's appeal. A major Hollywood director who makes "difficult" movies, indeed. You are cordially invited to spend a day of your life watching this ten times. Not so far removed from binge-watching several seasons of The Walking Dead or Better Call Saul, then. Personally, if I find myself in the mood for another time-travel sci-fi headfuck in the near future, I think I'll go back to Resnais's Je t'aime je t'aime or Carruth's Primer.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Sometimes a Great Notion (Newman, 1971) - Directed by Paul Newman at his peak, after Butch Cassidy but before The Sting, this is a largely forgotten film, judging from the fact that a search of the IHM archives turns up no mention. Newman ended up directing this because Richard Colla dropped out after a few weeks. The film is justly famous for the death scene of Joeby (Richard Jaeckel, who was nominated for an Oscar), as well as some arresting footage of the Oregonian wilderness. Based on the Kesey book which I recently reread, the film stays somewhat close to the plot, with a few notable exceptions, mainly, the climactic fistfight at the end between Hank and his step brother Lee which Viv witnesses is not in the movie. Its clear why Newman wanted this role, he's made to play hardheaded strike breaker Hank Stamper, as is Henry Fonda as the crusty patriarch. The cast is more or less well chosen, but Lee Remick as Viv (Hank's wife) just too glamorous for the role, with her snow white turtlenecks and coifed hair. She looks rather ridiculous abreast the Wakonda Auga River. The family homestead is also too regal for my tastes, depicted as much more ramshackle and rundown in the book. The narrative moves along quickly, and there is much to recommend it, Jaeckel as Joe Ben particularly, but what keeps the movie from really achieving the heights of Kesey's novel is its unwillingness to delve into the love triangle between Hank-Viv-Leeland which is the emotional core of the book. In the book, there is a draw out seduction / revenge plot between Leeland and Viv, with Leeland getting back at Hank for sleeping with his mother who eventually ended up committing suicide. The romance between Lee and Viv is alluded to undirectly, and much of the tension between Hank and his younger step brother Lee is absent. The movie therefore becomes much more about the conflict between the town and the strike against Wakonda Pacific, and the strikebreaking Stamper family, which is the skeleton framework of the book, but not its emotional core. Mild recommendation I suppose, despite the hokey Henry Mancini soudntrack, but the book on the other hand, is a classic of the American West, probably better than anything Steinbeck wrote tbh.

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

surfer wrote:
Wed Mar 24, 2021 2:15 pm
Image

Sometimes a Great Notion (Newman, 1971) - Directed by Paul Newman at his peak, after Butch Cassidy but before The Sting, this is a largely forgotten film, judging from the fact that a search of the IHM archives turns up no mention. Newman ended up directing this because Richard Colla dropped out after a few weeks. The film is justly famous for the death scene of Joeby (Richard Jaeckel, who was nominated for an Oscar), as well as some arresting footage of the Oregonian wilderness. Based on the Kesey book which I recently reread, the film stays somewhat close to the plot, with a few notable exceptions, mainly, the climactic fistfight at the end between Hank and his step brother Lee which Viv witnesses is not in the movie. Its clear why Newman wanted this role, he's made to play hardheaded strike breaker Hank Stamper, as is Henry Fonda as the crusty patriarch. The cast is more or less well chosen, but Lee Remick as Viv (Hank's wife) just too glamorous for the role, with her snow white turtlenecks and coifed hair. She looks rather ridiculous abreast the Wakonda Auga River. The family homestead is also too regal for my tastes, depicted as much more ramshackle and rundown in the book. The narrative moves along quickly, and there is much to recommend it, Jaeckel as Joe Ben particularly, but what keeps the movie from really achieving the heights of Kesey's novel is its unwillingness to delve into the love triangle between Hank-Viv-Leeland which is the emotional core of the book. In the book, there is a draw out seduction / revenge plot between Leeland and Viv, with Leeland getting back at Hank for sleeping with his mother who eventually ended up committing suicide. The romance between Lee and Viv is alluded to undirectly, and much of the tension between Hank and his younger step brother Lee is absent. The movie therefore becomes much more about the conflict between the town and the strike against Wakonda Pacific, and the strikebreaking Stamper family, which is the skeleton framework of the book, but not its emotional core. Mild recommendation I suppose, despite the hokey Henry Mancini soudntrack, but the book on the other hand, is a classic of the American West, probably better than anything Steinbeck wrote tbh.
Wow, it's nice to know I'm not alone here! Haha! Great to hear from you again, and thanks for hipping me to another one I haven't seen. I'm off hunting :) Meanwhile --

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Guillaume Brac, A l'abordage, 2020

The spirit of the mighty Rohmer lives on. Another light (light in the sense Jane Austen is light), finely-honed French-boys-on-holiday tale, well-written, well-acted, beautifully filmed. Holidays....... Well, um, maybe later this year?
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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François Ozon, Grâce à Dieu, 2019

I've seen several reviews describing it as one of the best, if not the best, movies of 2019, and I quite agree. Here's one: https://observer.com/2019/10/by-the-gra ... -rex-reed/
Quite apart from the subject matter - the film's based on the real events that took (are still taking, in fact) in Lyon - it's an excellently-crafted and compelling piece of work. My only quibble is that Ozon could have lopped off a few minutes in the last half hour - but the way the story shifts from Poupaud (best actor of his generation? discuss..) to Ménochet to Arlaud is expertly handled. I see Ozon was - yet again - snubbed at the recent Césars ceremony. Never mind, Hitchcock never won an Oscar, either. I'm prepared to wager a small sum this will stand the test of time.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Robert Guédiguian, Gloria Mundi, 2019

https://variety.com/2019/film/reviews/g ... 203321306/ Yes, I reckon Ms Kiang is pretty much on the one here: the director obviously has more sympathy for his older characters - Bruno and the thoroughly detestable Aurore are almost caricatures - and the "swerve" towards melodrama at the end (shades of Combo taking the rap in This Is England) is rather heavy-handed. But so is Mike Leigh's (and Ken Loach's, at times) depiction of yuppies - and that doesn't detract from the power of their work. Not my favourite Guédiguian, but a solid film nevertheless.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Le jeune Ahmed

https://www2.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/si ... tion-story Agree - the story is not the Dardenne's to tell. I imagine someone told them they should get around to doing something on Islamic radicalisation in the modern city, since they've covered just about every other social question in their works so far. Maybe next year we'll get something on COVID. But, with no explanation as what causes young Ahmed to go over to the dark side in the first place (we need to know what happened to his father, more about his jihadist cousin and his imam), no explanation as to why he stays that way despite compassionate and dedicated attention from the folks in the detention centre, and a thoroughly limp ending (OK, so falling off the roof and breaking his back suddenly brings on remorse?), it fails to deliver. And the choice of Schubert - albeit great late Schubert - as music to accompany the final credits is mystifying.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Return visit, here's what I thought last time, just as much fun this time round. Doubt I'll need a third visit, though
Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:22 am
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François Ozon, 8 femmes, 2002

The opening shot with its dangling jewels followed by the young deer outside the window are both clear nods to Sirk, but there are as many references to French classics too, including Jacques Demy (the eight set-piece songs, one for each of the women), Alain Resnais (the hyper-stylized theatricality of it all) and also Julien Duvivier's huis clos Marie Octobre, which also starred Danielle Darrieux. If you like French actresses and silly whodunnits, you'll have a ball.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Fernando Meirelles, The Constant Gardener, 2005

As one irate IMDb punter notes, the film "ends up insulting Africa rather than redeeming it, precisely because it has redemption on its mind. One could defend it I suppose by saying that it at least 'raises the issues', but there is nothing empowering, nothing motivating about this film. It is in fact extremely boring." Indeed it is. No amount of jittery, zoomy, flashy - and totally gratuitous - camerawork can cover up a flimsy and convoluted plot (that could be John Le Carré's fault as much as screenwriter Jeffrey Caine's). Fiennes, whose Great Actor status I've never really understood, transitions from boring minor diplomat watering his potted plants to globetrotting, fake passport-sporting ace-reporting Indiana Jones-like desperado, supposedly out of love for his late wife, though the director gives very little indication of why they ever fell for each other in the first place. Straight out of the press conference into the steamy sex scene. Rrrright.. A bore. But I'm sure the crew had a lovely holiday filming it in Kenya with all those nice, smiling, colourfully garbed local kiddies.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Quentin Dupieux, Mandibules, 2020

Nothing like a Dupieux to cheer you up in the latest lockdown, which could be as long running a franchise as Friday the 13th. Our two antiheroes find a giant fly in the boot of a stolen car and decide to tame it and train it to rob banks for them.. Yes, it's totally fuckin' potty, and great fun. You can't watch Ingmar Bergmans every day, y'know.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Ken Loach, Riff-Raff, 1990

A bit bored this time. Laudable though the intentions are of Messrs Leigh (Mike) and Loach, they each have a rather noticeable flaw: Leigh's depictions of the upper classes all too often veer into caricature (yes, I don't like them either but it's not by making the yuppies into cartoon villains that you're going to elicit sympathy for the working class), while Loach's lad culture (football, pints, witty repartee) finds little room for women. I'm always surprised how much my students here in France - especially women - seem to adore Loach: maybe it's just that curious attraction for British working class culture as something somehow exotic, I don't know. Anyway, fine performances and all that, but I don't think I'll need to see this one again.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Lao Tsu Ben wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 11:42 am
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Le Septième juré, Georges Lautner, 1962

While Le Monte-charge has the perfection of a Swiss timepiece, Le Septième juré is looser at the ends but very interesting nonetheless. A bit too verbose, thanks to Bernard Blier's voiceover, which is rather well-written but makes things too explicit and wallows a tad much in that existential ennui so typical, in a clichéd way, of French cinema. Lautner's direction has a physicality that's very impressive, dealing with the main characters as well as the extras in the background with a mix of consideration and solemnity, not devoided of comic at times. The film functions as a Hitchock's Wrong Man in reverse, hinting at all the repressed turmoils of the French society of that time in a rather striking manner.

Interesting you mention Hitch there, Ben, as I see he also bought the François Didelot novel for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (Season 1 Episode 24, "The Star Juror"), which I have yet to see. It was, apparently, Blier who was smitten with the book and not only pushed Georges Lautner to direct but chose the town of Pontarlier as the filming location. It's an intriguing film, the kind of dark indictment of bourgeois smalltown mores Chabrol and Mocky specialised in (and the casting of Francis Blanche reinforces the Mocky connection) crossed with the courtroom drama. Much as I enjoyed the performances, especially Maurice Biraud's as the cynical boozed-up vet, I can't help thinking Lautner wasn't the best director to tackle the subject, being more at home with snappy comedies (this one came just before L'oeil du monocle and Les tontons flingeurs) or faster-paced action films. The courtroom scenes seem a tad too wordy - Clouzot did this better in La vérité - and the original murder scene, though attractively shot by Maurice Fellous (great screenshot above, the one I'd have chosen myself!) doesn't shock as much as it perhaps should. And more frustratingly, it all reminds me of another film - an American one, I think - which deals with the same subject, and which, for the life of me, I can't quite put my finger on. Sigh. Seen so many films now I can't access the cracked hard drive of my movie-addled memory as efficiently as I should be able to.. Needless to say, if anyone else is reading this and has an idea of what I'm on about, I'd love someone to jog my memory.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Allen Baron, Blast of Silence, 1961

A late noir, made just before noirs (and hats - thanks JFK for that one) went out of style, except in Jean-Pierre Melville films. And talking of Melville, I wonder if he knew this tight, bleak little masterpiece. Jef Costello could be Frankie Bono's French brother. I'd hazard a bet Scorsese knew it: the mean streets and taxi drivers are just over a decade away. The only thing that spoils Blast of Silence is Meyer Kupferman's omnipresent blaring jazz soundtrack, in the same way that André Previn's fucked up Bad Day at Black Rock (and we won't mention Hans Zimmer..). Shame, because otherwise this kicks ass. Great beginning, great ending. And the bit in the middle's good too. Check out.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Return visit, absolutely love this film :)
Dan Warburton wrote:
Thu May 07, 2015 12:07 am
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Douglas Hickox, Theatre of Blood, 1973

A huge THANKYOU to Walto for hipping me to this one - not only is it bloody hilarious and hilariously bloody, with a stellar cast (in addition to comedy legends Arthur Lowe, Robert Morley, Dennis Price, Diana Dors, Eric Sykes there's Ian Hendry, the wonderful Diana Rigg and Vincent, who of course steals the show), it's superbly written and brilliantly filmed. Humour aside, I wonder if Mr Fincher was aware of this when he came up with Se7en - the parallels are striking: OK, Vincent actually dispenses with eight victims here, but the serial killer with a masterplan and the "pound of flesh" and the way Robert Morley dies (NOT spoiling this, but see first screenshot above :) ) quote can't be mere coincidences, can they? I wonder. Whatever, the bloke who comes out of it best is Wm. Shakespeare - choice speeches (choice killings) from his plays, and masterly integration of those oh so famous quotations. It's an absolute delight, and has sprung automatically into my Top 20 films of the year (if not the decade): anyone who admires the Bard and likes a good gory comedy should go snatch this right away!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Return visit, by way of homage to Yaphet Kotto..
Dan Warburton wrote:
Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:59 pm
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Milton Katselas, Report to the Commissioner, 1975

I thought this was terrific, sucker that I am for grungy 70s NYC cop movies, but I can see why it never charted like French Connection or Dog Day Afternoon or Pelham 123: the narrative is fractured into a complex series of flashbacks and overlaid narration, several plot lines are left dangling (who did shoot Susan Butler after all?), and it certainly doesn't end happily for Michael Moriarty, who delivers a great performance as the naïve rookie cop. Excellent supporting role for Yaphet Kotto, and watch out for cameos from William Devane and.. Richard Gere as a pimp. Deserves to be much better known.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Paolo Sorrentino, La grande bellezza, 2013

OK, the flamingos and the 195-year-old wrinkled nun are a bit hard to take, and if you like neither Holy Minimalism (Pärt, Lang and Tavener figure prominently in the soundtrack) nor Holy Father Federico Fellini (Sorrentino would be the first to acknowledge he owes a substantial debt to Otto e Mezzo, La Dolce Vita and Roma), you're screwed, basically. Sure, the camerawork is wonderfully flashy, far too much in terms of telling what's basically a very simple story, but Servillo plays the ageing playboy to perfection, and delivers the dialogue beautifully. I just want to go back to Rome again.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 4:01 am
Quentin Dupieux, Mandibules, 2020

Nothing like a Dupieux to cheer you up in the latest lockdown, which could be as long running a franchise as Friday the 13th. Our two antiheroes find a giant fly in the boot of a stolen car and decide to tame it and train it to rob banks for them.. Yes, it's totally fuckin' potty, and great fun. You can't watch Ingmar Bergmans every day, y'know.
Ouais, vas-y, taureau le film.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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ah, here's the rare occasion of two films on a page that a) i have seen and b) i heartily endorse: blast of silence (the rare case of a totally functioning pulp voice-over) and especially theatre of blood, which is in my slim pantheon of films i can watch again and again anytime ... of course i'm a huge vincent fan but e.g. the more stylish dr. phibes stuff doesn't really deliver to the same extent ... (i've been wondering at what age can i watch this with the boys, though, for all the fun some of the scenes aren't that easy to stomach)