The Night of the Hunter: 8/10
The story is the obvious weak point of the film as it fell apart about the time the third act rolled around. Heavily and disappointingly anticlimactic. However, it’s definitely Robert Mitchum’s most solid and compelling role that I can think of. Cinematography is near pitch perfect. Laughton was a freaking genius when it came to black and white. The positives outweigh the negatives by a significant margin but I can’t help that nagging feeling that if the third act were reworked this would be a masterpiece.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: 3/10
“….the version I watched was the 1942 re-issue which Chaplin considered the definitive version of his film”
I heartily recommend watching the original silent version. Faster, funnier, more moving, and just a far better version of the film than Chaplin’s hack job on his own masterpiece.
SEVEN CHANCES – 7.5/10
This is the one where Buster Keaton has to marry by 7:00 p.m today in order to inherit a fortune. He manages to self-sabotage his proposal to his otherwise willing girlfriend, and there’s a lot of good fun watching him propose to every woman in sight at a country club. There’s a Big Finish, of course, in one of Keaton’s most spectacular sequences. A fast and funny little movie that clocks in at just under an hour. I always enjoy this one a lot, despite a couple of unfortunate moments of dated political incorrectness.
//I heartily recommend watching the original silent version. Faster, funnier, more moving, and just a far better version of the film than Chaplin’s hack job on his own masterpiece.//
Thanks Roscoe….I had a hard time deciding which version to watch first (I bought it on Criterion and both versions are on the disc)….my understanding was that Chaplin disavowed his original version after he re-cut it and trimmed out about 16 minutes of footage. I’ll have to give the original a look see…..I didn’t love the narration on his cut. Maybe I’ll even up it to 5 stars after I see the original. Funny how even back then directors continued to mess with their films.
Travis – watch Night of the Hunter again. That’s exactly how I felt after my first viewing, but after watching it again I realized how perfect the story was. That last third was strangely affecting the second time around (and actually made me tear up a bit!!).
“my understanding was that Chaplin disavowed his original version after he re-cut it and trimmed out about 16 minutes of footage”
Yeah, he did, and there’s no surer sign of Chaplin’s declining sensibilities than his delusion that the sound version is anything like an improvement on the silent version of THE GOLD RUSH. I had the great luck to see the silent version a few months back, with a live musical accompaniment, and it was magical.
The Poseidon Adventure: 8/10
The Darjeeling Limited
Dir. Wes Anderson
I’m still processing this, but my initial score is 57/100. I didn’t find the film very funny at all, although this seems like one of the more serious films from Anderson. Somehow the characters and actors in the roles (especially Adrian Brody) just didn’t work for me. (Anderson seems to like a dead-pan, lethargic style of acting, and some of the actors don’t seem fully comfortable in that role. I felt this way about Bruce Willis and Ed Norton, too.)
Dir. Moshen Makhmalbaf
I think the concept is better than the actual results, but I’m still thinking about this.
I enjoyed The Poseidon Adventure as a kid. It was one of the few 70s disaster movies I got to watch as a kid (assuming you’re talking about the original and not the remake).
Morning for the Osone Family (Dir. Keisuke Kinoshita, 1946)
This is a bitter, bitter film. Up to this point in my journey with Kinoshita (around 13 films seen so far this year), a lot of them have dealt with WWII. And given the time period I’ve covered (‘43-’51), this makes sense. Morning might be his most acid and true of them. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it came out right after the war ended. The wounds are fresh. By comparison, the coming of age story in Boyhood seems downright trite. Highly recommended.
Footnote (Cedar, 2011)
Really solid film. I particularly liked the use of the score in this film, one the better uses of music in film I’ve seen recently.
Insomnia (Nolan, 2002)
Ugh. A headache inducing snorefest.
A Simple Life (Tao Jie) 4/5
Such a warm and dignified portrait of a woman in the last years of her life
Tokyo Story (re-watch)A+
The final 20 minutes of this movie DESTROY ME. I walked out very depressed from this, unlike the first time when I was simply humbled by what I just saw. I still find every bit of it to be very beautiful. I also wanted to smack the shit out of those grandchildren, but that’s how kids really act so…
Note: After I saw this, on the verge of tears, I immediately walked into another room to check on my pet mouse. He was tired looking, like he didn’t know where he was. I took him out of his cage expecting him to crawl all over me like he used to (sitting on my shoulders and stuff) but he just laid there, crawling with his back feet dragging. I put my hand over him, and watched as he slowly closed his eyes. I tried to mentally communicate that he didn’t have to keep exhausting himself, because every movement he made looked like great suffering for him. We rested there for a few moments, and I began to cry. I don’t know why I am sharing this depressing shit with you kind folk, but I found that this very sad personal moment helped me better understand the messages about the cycle of life Yasujiro Ozu was showing in Tokyo Story.
Odd, how something the size of your thumb can be one of your closest friends.
The Double Life of Veronique (Rewatch) – 5/5
After The Decalogue I had to rewatch this and so I did, twice once with the fascinating commentary by Annette Isndorf writer of Double Lives and Seconds Chances: The films of Krzystof Kieslowski. For what it’s worth, I’ve moved it up to 3rd in my favourite films list after these two viewings. I think it’s a beautiful, metaphysical culmination of a lot the themes and ideas (visual and thematic) that Kieslowski had been working to since ‘Camera Buff’.
I think, along with Powell/Pressberger’s ‘The Red Shoes’ that this is one of the strongest colour films ever. The film even has it’s own tri-force of colour: red, green and gold. Each frame is loaded with red and green suggesting the connection and presence of Weronika/Veronique to each other but also the balance between fate and free will. Then there is the sensual, warm gold slowly blends its way into the film and appears at key moments. I took it as a confirmation of a higher power as it shines down upon the characters at key moments – the light in Veronique’s bedroom, the gold dust that falls on Weronika’s head. This is also suggested consistently with the camera placement and the eye line, often above Jacob with her gaze fixed beyond or above the camera.
Also the red haired woman that appears to both Veronique and Weronika, Isndorf suggests that she is a harbinger of death. I disagree, I think she’s from the same metaphysical realm of the ‘watcher’ in ‘The Decalogue.’ An observer, who looks on unhappily as she knows what the consequences will be from the choices made by the women.
The commentary offered some really keen insight both to the film thematically and just to some history. She alligns the character of Alexandre with Kieslowki, making him a director figure who borrows and steals from peoples lives in order to create his stories, she goes on to explain that Kieslowski gave up on documentary film making because he felt he was stealing from people. Allegedly he also wanted 17 endings (one for each cinema the film opened in) including one where Veronique see’s a third girl. She offers an explanation for the ‘flasher’ scene, which to be honest always baffled me. She claims it was simply there for an added streak of dark humor. Makes sense I guess, Kieslowski does have a variety of black humor in his films as well as the two odd scenes dealing with the divorce subplot that never went anywhere. Apparently it was a more expansive element to the story but was ultimately chopped, he left the two sequences in to make the character feel more real.
This film genuinely moves me in a way few others do. It’s astonishingly beautiful, it captures the minute details and subtleties of human interaction and intimacy, it has one of the most haunting soundtracks that manages to be incorprated into the story, it’s profoundly spiritual and touching, I could talk all day about it. One of my favourites.
The Red Desert – 3/5
Oh man I am not looking forward to writing this…
I don’t really know what to say about this. It’s poignantly shot, managing to create this sort of decaying beauty of the bleak landscape, mixed with this technical marvel of the industrial setting. Atonininininini utilizes a lot of visual tools to create this sense of detachment and isloation; focus, fog, colour, framing, stiff robotic movement in the camera. He also has the visual motif of the ships which are constantly drifting in and out of the background, silently. The sound design is also terrific, a lot of hums and buzzes from the industrial enviroment that change in volume frequently to really heighten the emotional state of the main character.
Speaking of which, she manages to portray isolation very well. Her presence, movement and expression are all heavy and rought with a confused sadness, but have a lingering delicacy. By the end we see a woman failing to adapt to her surroundings, her loneliness and her disappointment, it’s pretty pathetic and quite sad. Watching her explain her situation to sailor who doesn’t even understand her is pretty difficult.
So all these compliments aside, why is that I found this film so goddamn boring. Is there something I’m missing? The drama is rather stilted and detached, maybe that’s the point. But it’s structure is really far to reptitive and the whole film drags. There are some interesting moments – the quarentined ship being the highlight. But there is far to much of her walking around expressing her detachment to Richard Harris for me.
I’ll gladly revist this in a few years time, maybe when I’m a bit more equipped to handle it. But, whilst I admire its techincal skill and visual storytelling, I just didn’t… like it.
Sorry, double post.
Or triple post…
Oh come on now.
Lol this is embarassing…
I think I’ll just leave…
Hahaha, I feel your pain, Mervyn.
Little Children (2006). 1/5. I hated everyone in the film, including the children. Well, there were a couple people I didn’t hate. It was worse : I didn’t give a damn about them. And the narration kept reminding me of Babe. And I rolled my eyes a million times, especially at the ending. I was so perplexed by the ending that, even though I was thrilled the film was over I triple-checked to make sure I hadn’t somehow missed a scene or five.
I’ve heard mixed things about Little Children… One day I’m game to watch it, then I see a comment like yours that makes me stay back for years, lol.
Sorry bro, does this happen often?
I finally watched it because it was free on demand. Rubes and Tommy gave it a solid rating though, so if I were you I’d at least start the film. Nobody throw tomatoes at me, but I think it’s one of those films that you can tell by 30 minutes in whether you’ll care for it or not.
I’ll give it 30 minutes. I have on demand, thanks.
Modern American drama is in the shitter for me. Little Children, at the time, gave me a bit of faith. But of course I’ve been let down countless times since. I go French for excellent drama rather than American.
I also hated Little Children……utter waste of time.
Diabolique (1955) 5/5….late to the party on this one but I knocked it off my viewing list this evening…..a masterpiece…that scene with the little boy at the end is creepy. Legitimate scares in this one…..great atmosphere and superb performances by Vera Clouzot and Simone Signoret make make this a film that actually lived up to it’s reputation. I figured the ending out but to be fair, in my years of cinema watching I must have inadvertently heard about it and retained it on some level so I don’t blame the film for that.
I wonder how different it would have been if Hitch had directed it (he was within hours of securing the screen rights when Clouzot beat him to the punch).
I also love films that are set primarily in one location…as this one is set almost exclusively at the boys school with the exception of one small segment.
Films like this remind me why I love the cinema so much.
The Tribulations of Balthazar Kober 4/5
Working on getting through some Wojciech Has since I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. This is only my second after The Hour-Glass Sanatorium. He’s an interesting filmmaker so far, often delving into fantasy to explore Polish history.