2023

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Dan Warburton
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2023

Post by Dan Warburton »

A Happy New Year to all. Can't be worse than last year - can it? Anyway, lest you think I started 2023's film binge just after midnight on January 1st, here's the first of many left over from last year's lot. New Year's Resolution: write up more films? Yours and mine :) ? all the best to posters & lurkers alike

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John Frankenheimer, The Horsemen, 1971

Well as I can say with absolute certainty that I'll never set foot in Afghanistan as long as I live, this is about as close as I'll get to the place (I see though that parts of the movie were also shot in Spain). A while back I wrote up Jacques Dupont and Pierre Schoendoerffer's La passe du diable - use the search engine above -, based on the same story by Joseph Kessel, which with Raoul Coutard's awesome cinematography is more impressive than The Horsemen. Frankenheimer's vision of Afghan men as gnarled toothless peasants leering at fighting camels, birds and rams (if animal mistreatment - real or otherwise - isn't your bag, steer clear) and woman (there's only one) as scheming whore isn't exactly kosher these days.  It's dated badly, and I imagine it must have been dated when it came out, but never mind. Omar Sharif plays the moody and not particularly likeable Uraz, son of Tursen (Jack Palance), retired buzkachi riding champion, who gets his leg broken in a match and sets out of regain his father's respect by riding home through a dangerous mountain pass for no particular reason that I can figure out. It's a bit of a daft story, but it's worth a look if only for the buzkachi sequence. Buzkachi is the Afghan equivalent of polo, except that instead of using mallets and balls, the objective is pick up a headless calf (or goat or something) and ride around a field pursued by everyone else. Pretty bloody mad, if you ask me, but as Roger Ebert wrote at the time, almost as good as the famous bit in Ben Hur. No great acting performances here, so if you just want to see the spectacular scenery, go for the other one I mentioned.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: 2023

Post by Dan Warburton »

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David Lynch, Twin Peaks: The Return, 2017

Well, OK, call it a series if you want, but as far as I'm concerned it's a film :) I've been overdosing on Lynch crit lately, not because I find much of interest in it (hell, forget Hitler, if Jack Gladney wants an even more fertile academic hunting ground, how about Lynch Studies?) but because it sends me to sleep quite nicely (just what you need after the monumental headfuck of Episode 8). At the rate I'm going, I'll probably get through Anne Jerslev's David Lynch: Blurred Boundaries sometime early next year, by which time we'll probably all be dead anyway. Meanwhile, what a spectacular piece of work Season Three is, despite occasional yawns (Andy and Lucy should have joined Harry Truman, and I never cared much for James Hurley in the first place). Kyle MacLachlan is just superb throughout, goes without saying. The editing, pacing and especially the sound design are terrific. But you probably know all this already. Anyway, finally watching this in glorious HD on a decent-sized screen at last was a great way to see out 2022. There are probably several threads on this here somewhere, and god knows how many millions of words about it all online, so you don't need any more from me.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: 2023

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Paul Verhoeven, Flesh + Blood, 1985

To quote a certain Noel Murray, on Wiki: "From the start of his career, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven has mostly focused on making violent, sexy genre pieces—often punishing, often absurd, and always placed in the context of a moralistic pessimism. Verhoeven’s 1985 English-language film debut Flesh and Blood wallows in mud and misery, with Rutger Hauer playing an early-16th-century mercenary who leads a troupe of undesirables in a revolt against a deadbeat lord, and Jennifer Jason Leigh playing a virginal lady who’s kidnapped by the rebels and becomes Hauer’s (mostly) willing mate." Meanwhile, Prof. Douglas Keesey (no, me neither) wrote that there's "no hero to root for and no happy fantasy element to lighten its unpleasantly realistic depiction of the Middle Ages." Unpleasantly realistic? Were we watching the same film? I reckon this self-indulgent romp has got more in common with Monty Python and the Holy Grail (than.. erm, anyone know a truly realistic depiction of the Middle Ages in film? Pasolini's toothless peasants in Decameron or The Canterbury Tales?). At one point whizkid inventor Steven manages to make nothing less than a wooden extendable telescopic fire ladder (shades of Python's giant rabbit) to scale the besieged castle walls, which is almost as hilariously implausible as Rutger Hauer managing to throw the key to unlock Steven's chains out from the bottom of a well. More fun than Boorman's Excalibur (haha, more happy memories of moistened bints lobbing scimitars) because it just won't take itself seriously, but needless to say it bombed at the US box office, and yet has, so I read, something of a cult following. Count me out: although I didn't dislike it, the total absence of anything resembling serious plot and refusal (deliberate I presume) to situate itself in any particular country at any particular time (somewhere in Europe, 1501? go figure!) doesn't make me want to watch it again anytime soon. Unlike PV's other gloriously trashy American features.
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Wombatz
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Re: 2023

Post by Wombatz »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Jan 02, 2023 12:39 pm
anyone know a truly realistic depiction of the Middle Ages in film?
lancelot du lac, of course. happy new year! over the holidays, we saw:

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mr turner by mike leigh, 2014. this stays close to a lot of facts, turner was a famous eccentric after 50 or so. it also adds a lot of cliché (like turner thinking the first camera he meets will end painting ... few ambitious painters actually had that fear, but late turner would have been about the last to want to compete with an objective camera lens). anyway, it's an easy watch, time went by ok. timothy spall is rather good at making us feel something despite being reduced to a few grunts and a manspreader's gait, the love story is kind of touching. and yet it's all wrong. the chief problem is the amount of caricature. friends and enemies alike are mere buffoons (especially turner's champion, ruskin, as an evidently closeted young pedant), turner himself paints like bud spencer eats spaghetti. this film has no interest in art, or in 19th century society, i guess it's about how by going savage you can free yourself of all repressions and just be yourself. except you're no longer much of a self. i don't know why this thing exists.

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the men who stare at goats with george clooney, 2009. hey, it's a post-hippie vietnam war disillusionment revival film! it's pretty awful because it offers no update despite taking us into the now, there's nothing on contemporary wars in iraq or elsewhere that would justify disinterring the new age soldiers. except torture by cringe music is bad and you can just free the above iraqis and leave them somewhere in the desert, they're born there, creatures of the sand,they'll easily survive without water or sunscreen.

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how to steal a million by william wyler, 1966. this still works! if you don't believe me, ask my younger boy (13). it probably helps that the male lead is just as pretty and the same age (actually a couple of years younger, though he looks older) and nobody thinks of acting, so this might be audrey hepburn's best role (though not her best film)? there are no real laughs or surprises, it's just loverly to watch.

Dan Warburton
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Re: 2023

Post by Dan Warburton »

Lancelot, of course. How could I have forgotten Bobby Bresson? (Probably been spending too much time lately with Bobby Briggs :)) Happy New Year to ya too Lutz. Mr Turner, yes.. don't recall if I mentioned it last time (when did we see this? 2015?) but my dad was Chairman of the Northern Branch and later Vice-President of the Turner Society, so I spent a disproportionate part of my teenage years touring the North of England with him to research exactly where JMWT got his viewpoints (no easy task, he was very good at "rewriting" landscape to suit himself, erasing mountains and adding trees and cliffs wherever it took his fancy). I do recall reading somewhere that Turner was interested in the emerging daguerrotype technology, so I'm inclined to cut Leigh a bit of slack on that one, but.. yes, caricature as usual is the director's undoing. I used to think he reserved his most grotesque exaggerations for the upper classes - the yuppie in Naked being the most extreme example, but it's clear Mikey doesn't have much time for Ruskin here - but I recently rewatched (and won't be writing up) Home Sweet Home and absolutely hated it this time. Maybe after all Leigh doesn't like anybody at all.. Loach's working class heroes are more believable. But anyway, to connect nothing with nothing, one thing we did do back in 2018 was actually go to Margate in the summer and, if you're prepared to overlook the empty beer bottles and the stink of decaying seaweed at high tide (or was it the whelk stand?), the light there really is absolutely extraordinary. So, forget the film and go and see the paintings. (My dad, by the way, checked out before Leigh's film came out - I wonder what he would have made of it)

Audrey's best film for me is Wait Until Dark
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henriq
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Re: 2023

Post by henriq »

I posted this to cap last year, but it might have gone a bit unnoticed there, so let's start this year with it.

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Adam Rehmeier - Dinner In America (2020)

OK, a couple of years old but THIS is clearly my Movie of the Year. ’Tis the season, no? This reads like a punk, and I mean seriously PUNK, amalgam of things like Five Easy Pieces, Bonnie and Clyde, or Buffalo ’66. None of the deathly cuteness of Gallo’s film, thank you very much: so contained, isn’t it, everything neat and discreet in that frame on loan from Ozu. Anyway, the story here: punk Simon, played with antisocial verve by Kyle Gallner, on the run from the law, hooks up with gawky, bullied teenager Patty, played by the wonderful Emily Skeggs. And then there is a twist. I won’t even tell it in red font, it’s that good. A love story ensues. All played out against a backdrop of low rent, minimum wage rust belt America. Maybe think of it as if John Waters had remade Bonnie and Clyde. And then there is a song, that made at least my heart melt… Wow, I can’t remember when I fell in love with a film before. I almost daren’t watch it again…

henriq
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Re: 2023

Post by henriq »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Jan 02, 2023 12:13 pm
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David Lynch, Twin Peaks: The Return, 2017

Well, OK, call it a series if you want, but as far as I'm concerned it's a film :) I've been overdosing on Lynch crit lately, not because I find much of interest in it (hell, forget Hitler, if Jack Gladney wants an even more fertile academic hunting ground, how about Lynch Studies?) but because it sends me to sleep quite nicely (just what you need after the monumental headfuck of Episode 8). At the rate I'm going, I'll probably get through Anne Jerslev's David Lynch: Blurred Boundaries sometime early next year, by which time we'll probably all be dead anyway. Meanwhile, what a spectacular piece of work Season Three is, despite occasional yawns (Andy and Lucy should have joined Harry Truman, and I never cared much for James Hurley in the first place). Kyle MacLachlan is just superb throughout, goes without saying. The editing, pacing and especially the sound design are terrific. But you probably know all this already. Anyway, finally watching this in glorious HD on a decent-sized screen at last was a great way to see out 2022. There are probably several threads on this here somewhere, and god knows how many millions of words about it all online, so you don't need any more from me.
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Wombatz
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Re: 2023

Post by Wombatz »

(actually i never minded the yuppie in naked at all, a) because i was in the first class dominated by the kind and as sombody who identified as a hippiesk post-punk jazzhead developed a proper hatred of them, and b) i thought he was an early british answer to american psycho the book, and as such worked very well.)

Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: 2023

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Jan 02, 2023 12:39 pm
Image

Paul Verhoeven, Flesh + Blood, 1985

To quote a certain Noel Murray, on Wiki: "From the start of his career, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven has mostly focused on making violent, sexy genre pieces—often punishing, often absurd, and always placed in the context of a moralistic pessimism. Verhoeven’s 1985 English-language film debut Flesh and Blood wallows in mud and misery, with Rutger Hauer playing an early-16th-century mercenary who leads a troupe of undesirables in a revolt against a deadbeat lord, and Jennifer Jason Leigh playing a virginal lady who’s kidnapped by the rebels and becomes Hauer’s (mostly) willing mate." Meanwhile, Prof. Douglas Keesey (no, me neither) wrote that there's "no hero to root for and no happy fantasy element to lighten its unpleasantly realistic depiction of the Middle Ages." Unpleasantly realistic? Were we watching the same film? I reckon this self-indulgent romp has got more in common with Monty Python and the Holy Grail (than.. erm, anyone know a truly realistic depiction of the Middle Ages in film? Pasolini's toothless peasants in Decameron or The Canterbury Tales?). At one point whizkid inventor Steven manages to make nothing less than a wooden extendable telescopic fire ladder (shades of Python's giant rabbit) to scale the besieged castle walls, which is almost as hilariously implausible as Rutger Hauer managing to throw the key to unlock Steven's chains out from the bottom of a well. More fun than Boorman's Excalibur (haha, more happy memories of moistened bints lobbing scimitars) because it just won't take itself seriously, but needless to say it bombed at the US box office, and yet has, so I read, something of a cult following. Count me out: although I didn't dislike it, the total absence of anything resembling serious plot and refusal (deliberate I presume) to situate itself in any particular country at any particular time (somewhere in Europe, 1501? go figure!) doesn't make me want to watch it again anytime soon. Unlike PV's other gloriously trashy American features.
I also saw that for the first time two weeks ago. I was wondering, as I like Verhoeven's movies, why I didn't watch it earlier and had my answer. I guess I intuited I wouldn't like it very much for all the reasons you are listing. A preposterous romp that more or less works until Jason Leigh's character is kidnapped. One thinks of a berserk Robin and Marian: its children adventure stuff, with a veneer of amorality and trashiness. Quickly had to fast-forward to the end.

henriq
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Re: 2023

Post by henriq »

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Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger - The Red Shoes (1948)

Precious little I can say about this that hasn’t been said about a thousand times elsewhere, and better, about colour and dance, sex and obsession, film and performance, about the absolutely gargantuan effort of actually putting together an entire ballet company (here as in Tales of Hoffmann) for this one film, of creating and rehearsing a unique choreographic piece, and the task of rendering this as cinema, and not solely as a filmed performance. The ecstasy of Moira Shearer’s spinning head in the Lac des Cygnes, of the collective dancers’ body falling like feathers across the stage in time to Tchaikovsky’s full-blooded music. Let me take another tack, though, let me muse a bit about weather and mood, about eating well. Words can’t really describe how drab this rained out winter is here in Sweden. Awful, fog and rain and slushed out snow. Grey-black tones outside, but in here it’s warm, and the soul shores up on a diet of Studio Ghibli and Mel Brooks and Powell and Pressburger and Stanley Donen and Pillow Talk. And at times it’s the obverse, no lights on at all and Joe Colley playing, or The Bug on headphones. But I think I’ll keep going like this for a while, on with Querelle or Black Narcissus. Eat well, friends!

Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: 2023

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

henriq wrote:
Tue Jan 03, 2023 3:52 am
I posted this to cap last year, but it might have gone a bit unnoticed there, so let's start this year with it.

Image

Adam Rehmeier - Dinner In America (2020)

OK, a couple of years old but THIS is clearly my Movie of the Year. ’Tis the season, no? This reads like a punk, and I mean seriously PUNK, amalgam of things like Five Easy Pieces, Bonnie and Clyde, or Buffalo ’66. None of the deathly cuteness of Gallo’s film, thank you very much: so contained, isn’t it, everything neat and discreet in that frame on loan from Ozu. Anyway, the story here: punk Simon, played with antisocial verve by Kyle Gallner, on the run from the law, hooks up with gawky, bullied teenager Patty, played by the wonderful Emily Skeggs. And then there is a twist. I won’t even tell it in red font, it’s that good. A love story ensues. All played out against a backdrop of low rent, minimum wage rust belt America. Maybe think of it as if John Waters had remade Bonnie and Clyde. And then there is a song, that made at least my heart melt… Wow, I can’t remember when I fell in love with a film before. I almost daren’t watch it again…
Shall I give it another try? Tried to watch it in 2021, only to be put off by the hipster snarky doomer tone of the beginning.

henriq
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Re: 2023

Post by henriq »

Lao Tsu Ben wrote:
Tue Jan 10, 2023 10:24 am
henriq wrote:
Tue Jan 03, 2023 3:52 am
I posted this to cap last year, but it might have gone a bit unnoticed there, so let's start this year with it.

Image

Adam Rehmeier - Dinner In America (2020)

OK, a couple of years old but THIS is clearly my Movie of the Year. ’Tis the season, no? This reads like a punk, and I mean seriously PUNK, amalgam of things like Five Easy Pieces, Bonnie and Clyde, or Buffalo ’66. None of the deathly cuteness of Gallo’s film, thank you very much: so contained, isn’t it, everything neat and discreet in that frame on loan from Ozu. Anyway, the story here: punk Simon, played with antisocial verve by Kyle Gallner, on the run from the law, hooks up with gawky, bullied teenager Patty, played by the wonderful Emily Skeggs. And then there is a twist. I won’t even tell it in red font, it’s that good. A love story ensues. All played out against a backdrop of low rent, minimum wage rust belt America. Maybe think of it as if John Waters had remade Bonnie and Clyde. And then there is a song, that made at least my heart melt… Wow, I can’t remember when I fell in love with a film before. I almost daren’t watch it again…
Shall I give it another try? Tried to watch it in 2021, only to be put off by the hipster snarky doomer tone of the beginning.
Oh I think so, but then again, I fell in love with it completely. If and when you get to the twist things will pick up, and then there's the song, and Emily Skeggs is wonderful. And I liked the doomy tone, the energy of it, genteel but goony straight out of John Waters. My take on it, at least.

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MRS
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Re: 2023

Post by MRS »

Not mentioned, David Yow is in this film.

henriq
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Re: 2023

Post by henriq »

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Ann Turner - Celia (1989)

Fine psychological horror from Australia. Set in the late fifties, it tells of nine year old Celia and the mounting tide of bereavement and loss she has to face. A beloved grandmother dies, a grandmother with communist sympathies, as have the new neighbours. A loving family and a new set of friends, but this is the reactionary fifties of the red scare - things are kept secret, party activity and affiliation clandestine and unwelcome. And it’s also the period of rabbit infestations, and a beloved pet comes under increasing scrutiny from the forces that be. What is most impressive is the way the film is told much from the child’s viewpoint. A world rendered without much sentimentality, both wondrous, filled with fantasy, and brutal and parched. Extended scenes of play actually become quite scary, stuff is said and unleashed that is quite unpleasant. The mounting tide, yes: the neighbours have to move away, the pet rabbit is taken from the girl as a campaign of pest control gathers force. The whole of the adult world is figured as the hobyahs of a fairy tale read in class: pet stealing demons that stalk night and dream. And also, as in all the finest film making, the depth of character. The dad is not only a commie fearing philanderer, but a loving father and a grieving brother; the uncle a policeman who has to confiscate the beloved rabbit but tries to make amends with a puppy. And the final eruption of violence hits home very hard. Quite impressive, actually.

Dan Warburton
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Re: 2023

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Todd Field, Tár, 2022

Not much to add to MRS's smashing write-up just before Christmas (see p.22 last year's RWF thread). It's a mighty impressive performance from Blanchett, as usual, and she may well scoop up awards all over the place, but the dismal box office it's achieved so far is interesting to note. You need to be quite well-versed in the classical music world to catch many of the references (the old Leon Goosens / Beecham anecdote, the Bernstein video clip, Levine, Dutoit, etc etc), and some of the details are pretty preposterous (no way a conductor would ever get to decide the first part of a concert program unilaterally, let alone pick the soloist - though the cello jury is quite accurate, in that jury members these days do not get to see the musician being auditioned: I have that on good authority from a student of mine who leads an orchestra over here). The infatuated assistant who eventually takes revenge on Lydia reminded me of Kristen Stewart in Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria - in fact the subject matter would no doubt appeal to the French director. All in all though, I thought it was about 30 minutes too long, and things go way downhill in the last 20, especially after the stupid temper tantrum and that daft Philippines coda. I also know a French conductor who's seriously considering some sort of legal action, believing the character is based on her, but I won't go into details on that just yet (will keep you posted though :) ). Meanwhile, Field's choice (his?) of Lenny Bernstein as Lydia (née Linda)'s role model is on the one: as far as sexual predators go, he was legendary (if he were still alive today you can bet your ass he'd be banged up with Weinstein..) Haha.
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Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: 2023

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

It makes for an entertaining, but ultimately shallow watch, in a New Yorker hip way. Funny that you should mention the dismal box office, I was convinced of the contrary based on the per-theater average at the time of the American release, which had been exceptional. . Several months later, it seems that it needs to be nuanced considering the $35 million budget of the film.
Dan Warburton wrote:
Tue Jan 24, 2023 4:25 pm
I also know a French conductor who's seriously considering some sort of legal action, believing the character is based on her, but I won't go into details on that just yet (will keep you posted though
Damn, there is another Tàr, besides Marin Alsop. To be honest, after watching such a film, I'm left wondering about the inflated status of the prestige director in Western societies, and the inflated egos that necessarily go with it.

henriq
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Re: 2023

Post by henriq »

And, I'd say she has EXCELLENT taste in films. I think I like her better in this than in most films she's made.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_rAKw7q6RY

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