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djw180

2050 (2019) dir Princeton Holt

 

Reasonably good concept, poorly executed.

It's about s*x-robots. It starts with a quote from someone I have never heard of  along the lines of 'by 2050 we will be having s*x with robots'. Based on a documentary I saw last year, you could say that is already happening. But the s*x-bots, or E-mates as some who own one in the film call them, are more like Bladerunner replicants; physically indistinguishable from real human beings, able to walk and talk (somewhat limited vocabulary) and played by human actors. So the film is exploring what would (will) happen if/when such realistic s*x toys become widely available. It's quite stylishly made with good cinematography. Given the subject matter it is no more explicit than many films today.

The acting varies from bad to mediocre, with the script and direction similarly bland. The setting of 30 years in the future is pointless; people still wear the same sort of clothes, drive the same sort of cars, use the same sort of phones, etc. The only differences are the s*x-bots and a lot more delivery drones than we have now.

The plot is game designer Michael (David Vaughn) discovers his brother-in-law's new girlfriend is actually a s*x-bot. Then going through a rough patch in his marriage decides to try one himself and falls in love with it/her. Cue consequences w.r.t. marriage, affairs, how do you know if that girl / boy you just met is human or robot and should we even care about it anyway, etc. etc.

I have to mention he music. It almost made me laugh, for the wrong reasons. If you watch a lot of films you will have heard most of the, mainly orchestral, soundtrack before in other films. It's as if the director got hold of a compilation of greatest pieces of classical music used in films and decided to use them all at some point, irrespective of whether they fitted the scene they accompanied and no matter how badly one transitioned to another.

It is interesting to watch but technically it's a poor film on a number of levels. Although it did make me wonder if it was deliberately made with 'bad' acting, strange choice of music, sci-fi but not really that futuristic script, for reasons that alluded me. If you watch the trailer you will see it was apparently nominated for a host of awards and even won some. I haven't bothered to check but part of me thinks those are deliberately fake (presumably making some comment on movie awards). If this seriously won awards for it's acting and ensemble cast I dread to think what it's fellow nominees were like even if they were quite niche awards ceremonies.

4 /10

 

 

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LimeGreenLegend

She's Gotta Have It
dir. Spike Lee/1986/1h24m

She's Gotta Have It - Wikipedia

She's Gotta Have It is a relationship drama and the debut film from Spike Lee.  As well as writing and directing, Lee also edited the film and plays one of the central characters.  The plot concerns the young and independent Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), a sexually liberated woman who is dating three men at the same time.  The three men, “nice guy” Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), narcissistic model Greer (John Canada Terrell) and immature motor-mouth Mars (Lee) soon start to have a problem with the situation and want Nola to make a choice over which one she wants, even though she doesn't want to be with one man, to be “possessed” by one person.  

This is a very assured and cinematic debut, with Lee wearing a lot of his film school influences proudly on his sleeve.  Shot in beautiful black and white, the jump cutting and characters addressing the camera directly is pure Godard.  My favourite scene is an audacious reference to The Wizard of Oz where, for one scene, the film bursts into glorious colour for a 50s style song and dance number.  It all feels like Lee thought he may never get another chance to make a film, so he threw all of his ideas in here and, for the most part, they work.

This is also a very mature film, which is very surprising after seeing Lee as Mars.  There are two of the best s*x scenes that I've ever seen just in this film, and they are both very different.  The first is shot in extreme close up and in the dark so it makes for a very surreal image, the two bodies like a landscape shifting with each other's touch.  The second is shot from above in daylight, the frame static but the fast jump cutting giving us a slideshow of the many positions they go through.  

The way it treats the relationships between the characters is also very considered, and Lee, in his first film, is better at writing female characters than most directors manage in their entire careers.  I also appreciate how this is a Black film that doesn't play into the sterotypes and conventions of Black films at the time.  There are no gangs or drive-bys or pimps or poverty.  What this is is a proud representation of modern (at the time) Black life.  At the end of the credits there is a line which  declares “this film contains no jerri curls and no drugs”.  I also love the jazzy, almost noir like score by Lee's father Bill, who also has a small role in the film.

I do have a few negatives for this film.  While the central performance by Johns is very good, and Lee is always entertaining when he's on screen, the rest of the cast aren't very good.  They're never bad, but it's clear that they're amateurs.  I also have a few problems with the ending, specifically a scene where an enraged Jamie basically rapes Nola.  It doesn't feel at all necessary for the film and comes across as there for the shock factor.

I always like watching the first films from directors I like because you can always spot the seeds of their style starting to bloom, but here a lot of that is in full colour.  His films may have become more political as time went on, but all of his confidence and bravado, his willingness to ignore convention and do his own thing, were there from the start.  

 

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LimeGreenLegend

About Endlessness
dir. Roy Andersson/2019/76m

About endlessness | Gent

About Endlessness is a Swedish drama from Roy Andersson.  Rather than a plot the film consists of a few dozen mostly unconnected scenes of human life.  These scenes range in length from thirty seconds to a couple of minutes, some are presented as comedy, others tragedy.  We see big moments and very small, purposefully boring moments.  Topics covered range what seems like the whole of the human experience; war and religion, family bonds, work, love, duty, calling, joy and loss.  We see some teenage girls dancing outside of a cafe without a care in the world.  With the same eye we watch a defeated army being marched off to a prisoner of war camp.  A father ties his daughter's shoelaces in the rain and a businesswoman stares hopelessly out of her office window.  A man is ready to kill for his family while a priest loses his faith and a couple in love fly through the air.  All the while a nameless, unseen narrator guides us on this journey.  

Andersson shoots all of this with static frames, all very carefully composed.  He has the eye of a painter.  This really helps with the idea that we are seeing snapshots of life, watching this film feels like flipping through a stranger's photo album.  The film is made up of muted pastels, giving a melancholic feel to every scene which perfectly matches the tone of the piece.  The slightly stiff and stilted performances reminded me of the films of Yorgos Lanthimos, as does the sometimes absurdist comedy in what, from the outside, seems like a very serious film.  But this is not a very serious film, just as life isn't very serious all of the time.  

The fact that this film feels like a cohesive whole, rather than a disparate series of ideas, shows how talented Andersson is as a filmmaker.  The fact he's only made six films since 1970 is a damn shame.  I loved this film.  It's quite slow for a film a little over an hour long, but that's deliberately so, Andersson wants to give you time to think about what you're seeing, but by the end you'll be wanting to see more, to experience more.  I highly recommend this film.  It's a quiet and considered portrait of humanity that is gently moving and really makes you wonder what it's all about.  Well, obviously it's About Endlessness.  

 

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LimeGreenLegend

Antip*rno
dir. Sion Sono/2016/1h16m

Affiche du film Antiporno - Photo 17 sur 17 - AlloCiné

Antip*rno is a provocative drama from the notorious Japanese director Sion Sono.  Hired to make a film for a production company's “romantic p*rn” series, Sono instead made a subversive and feminist take on the s*x industry.  The film starts with Kyoko (Ami Tomite), a famous young artist, being woken up by her older assistant Noriko (Mariko Tsutsui) to prepare for a day of media interviews.  The bratty and disturbed Kyoko, who is haunted by visions of her dead sister, subjects Noriko to more and more humiliating treatment, becoming more violently s*xual as time goes on.  Just when things seem about to boil over into something very nasty, an extraordinary thing happens that strips the artifice from the film and it becomes a Brechtian analysis of not only the p*rnography industry, but of film as a whole and the voyeuristic and sexualised way women are treated.  

I won't say what happens about halfway through the film, because it has to be experienced.  I never saw it coming and it made a film that I was already enjoying into something special.  The performances here are fantastic from both leads, especially after the halfway points and their characters totally change.  The film is visually gorgeous, the bright primary colours, in both production and costume design,  adds a sardonically saccharine tone to proceedings.  The direction is also very captivating, Sono has a talent for presenting a visually arresting image, and he really knows how to use those bright colours, particularly in a scene in which Kyoko is writhing on the floor in a pool of differently coloured paints.  

This film is what it says it is, antip*rno.  This film dares you to become sexually aroused despite what's happening on screen, and the halfway point really holds a mirror up to the audience as if to ask them why they're watching this.  This is a bold and brash film which doesn't deal in subtlety, and I have to recommend it because I guarantee you won't have seen anything like this before.  

 

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djw180

Romulus v. Remus: The First King (2020) dir Matteo Rovere

Looking for something to watch on Amazon Prime before I end the subscription I came across this. I do like historical or mythological settings but from the description and trailer suspected this might be too much about the action and not enough story for my liking and I might be looking for something else after the first 5 minutes. But I was pleasantly surprised. It's a story about the legendary founders of Rome, from 8th Century BC. I have no idea if anything in this film is based on the accepted story or all made up. But it feels authentic to a time when Europe was at a very primitive level of technology and society. It appears to be in some form of latin-like ancient language, pretty sure it's not modern Italian, which adds to the authenticity. There is lots of fighting but it's not over-the-top and the whole story is reasonably slowed paced. The titular brothers are humble shepherds captured by a a tribe known to practice human sacrifice. They escape and lead a band of other would-be sacrificial victims, accompanied by a priestess, through dangerous territory to escape their pursuers, eventually overthrowing the 'king' of a swamp village and settling there.

8/10

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omarcomin71

Went and saw F9 (Fast and Furious 9) this morning.  

Personally a huge fan of the franchise.  
As the movies go on so does the far-fetched possibilities. It used to be much easier to buy into the first couple movies.  However I love the characters and the action is a nice escape from reality, and there was plenty of it. 
In my opinion it was better than the eighth installment.  If you’re a fan of these movies it’s a must see. 
I give it a 9 out of 10. 
 

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Fido_le_muet

A Quiet Place Part II

 

Loved the first one. It was truly special and a fantastic movie. 

This sequel is on par with the original and doesn't really suffer from sequelitis. It's slightly less good but still a very solid movie. 

It expands on what made the first one so good, without succumbing to the sequel trope of doing the same but bigger. It's still this very small story about the Abbott's family and their life in this new world and I'm glad it's not going down the franchise route, although a spin off has already been announced and a third film is very likely. 

New characters additions (ie Cillian Murphy) are very good but one thing pissed me off : the one black guys being killed almost immediately. It's infuriating because it's something that keeps happening despite this being 2021 and I was definitely not expecting to see it happen in this film. 

Anyways, I liked the flashback sequence at the beginning because it finally shows us the origin of the creatures and the immediate chaos that ensued. 

 

8/10

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Fido_le_muet

Black Widow

blackwidow_lob_crd_06.jpg

Oh I missed you MCU ! 2 years since I last was in my local cinema to watch the adventures of Peter Parker. That was way too long but thankfully, since the beginning of 2021, I can have my MCU fix thanks to WandaVision, Falcon & The Winter Soldier and the ongoing (and awesome!) Loki TV series on Disney +. Still very happy to jump back in this world in the theater though ! 

So, here's the first film in Phase 4 of the MCU but honestly, it's more of a stand alone movie and won't bring much of anything to the rest of phase 4 (except maybe that one character in the post credit scene, who also happen to show up in Falcon & the Winter Soldier). 

The title is kinda smart cause it's not just the story of Black Widow Natasha Romanoff but of Black Widows plural. It takes place during/after Civil War and before Infinity War so no mentions of Natasha's fate from following films. 

First off, I think it's one of the lesser MCU movies like Thor 2 or Ant-Man 2. It's still good, entertaining and very enjoyable but not of the level of the best MCU entries. We get some backstory for Natasha, when she was a kid living with her "family". Family is the center of the movie and the family dynamics works very well throughout the film. Supporting characters are cool and IMO as fleshed out as the title character. Each one of them brings something cool, especially Florence Pugh and David Harbour's. They're the highlights of the movie for me. 

The plot is fairly unsurprising but works. Everyone was expecting to see what happened with Hawkeye during the famed Budapest mission but eventhough a good chunk of the film happens in Budapest, that mission is not seen and only referenced a bit more so that we learn a few things. But it's actually OK, I didn't want another let down like the Kessel Run in Solo.

The villain Taskmaster is kinda 2D, some sort of T1000 hunting down our heroes but the twist towards the end redeems the character in a satisfactory way. The big bad Dreykov is kinda lame however but the actor does a great job because I couldn't stand him. He's an *sshole and I think that was the point so kudos. 

The action and CGI was awesome and it's probably one of the most fast paced movie in the MCU so far. I also liked that they didn't make it too obvious that Pugh's character is most likely going to be the next Black Widow. It's subtle enough to be satisfactory. Looking forward to seeing her again, along with Harbour and Rachel Weisz's characters. 

One thing that bugged me was that there are a couple blatant shots of Scarlet Johansson's *ss but I didn't get why cause the director is a woman. Would have been common from a male director IMO but from a woman? Now I wonder if Marvel Studios exec didn't "ask her" to add a few *ss shots for good measure.

8/10

 

The Tomorrow War

The_Tomorrow_War-136636319-large.jpg

I like Chris Pratt and I love Yvonne Strahovski and Sci-Fi so I had to watch this. 

Well, nothing too exceptionnal. Generic alien movie but with a time-travel element. It's december 2022, everyone is watching the final of the FIFA World Cup when they're abruptly interrupted by human soldiers from the future telling everyone that everyone will die by 2048 in an alien invasion. So they gather soldiers and eventually civilians to go fight aliens in the future. 

It's entertaining and I had a good time watching it. Pratt steals the show and I'm a bit disappointed that Strahovski's role isn't more fleshed out and is definitely just a supporting character. Action was cool and so is the design of the aliens. 

I won't spoil the plot although there aren't any surprises and it is pretty on par with other blockbuster alien movies. Kinda reminded me of Battleship but better. 

7/10

 

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djw180

Beast (2017) dir Michael Pearce

 

Moll (Jessie Buckley) lives with her parents on the island of Jersey (English speaking island much closer to France, technically not part of the UK but not really independent either). Whilst working as a tourist guide she is also expected to look after her elderly father whilst her brother and sister get on with their married lives. She clearly is not allowed much of a social life by her controlling mother and early on the film implies she has had mental health problems in the past.

One night, her birthday, she has had enough of her family and goes out for the night. After leaving a club she meets Pascal (Johnny Flynn) poaching rabbits in the early morning light. A romantic relationship begins despite her mother's best efforts to stop it. Then Moll learns that Pascal is a suspect for a couple of unsolved murders. But this is no murder mystery film. It's about the troubled relationship between two young people, both with a past they don't really want to discuss, and both not really trusted by others. Pascal does not seem to have any family, Moll does but she does not really like them. Whether Pascal is or isn't the killer is kind of irrelevant. Most other people believe he is but Moll decides to trust him at first then later changes her opinion. But it's not really a thriller either. There is no great tension to the story, which is very well written and the conclusion seems deliberately ambiguous. The two lead actors give very good performances and the supporting cast features many actors recognisable from British TV.

8 / 10

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LimeGreenLegend

A couple of recent releases y'all should check out, they're pretty good.

Censor

dir. Prano Bailey-Bond/2021/1h25m

Censor (2021)

Censor is a British horror film, and the debut from Welsh director Prano Bailey-Bond.  It stars Niamh Algar as Enid, a censor for the British Board of Film Classification in the early 80s during the wave of "video nasties" like Evil Dead, Driller Killer and I Spit on your Grave.  Enid has an almost devout way of working, as if she is trying to personally protect people from the violence that the tabloid press say these films inspire.  She becomes a target of public abuse after a film she passed is said to have inspired a man to kill his family, a murder which he says he can't remember committing.  This relates to Enid because she has no recollection of the events around her sister's disappearance when they were children.  This is bought to a head when she becomes convinced that an actress in an obscure film is her sister.  She becomes obsessed with reclusive horror director Frederick North and so goes to the set of his new, and final, film, which is also to be the actresses final film, to confront him.

This is a great film in many ways.  Firstly, it looks gorgeous.  It has a cold blue colour pallette which is punctuated at times by otherworldly red lights which reminded me a lot of Dario Argento films like Suspiria.  The direction is inventive and at times quite experimental and the script is very well written, each character is distinct and well rounded.  The music perfectly matched the tone of the film, very ominous and oppressive at times, at others it channels the 80s low budget horror vibes.  The one thing I can see being divisive is the ending, which goes to the realm of total insane fantasy.  I loved it as it really reflects Enid's state of mind at that point.  She has become totally consumed by these films that she can't tell what's real anymore.

The performances are good all round, but Algar as the lead was the standout.  She reveals her character little by little and plays her mental decline so well.  The supporting cast is all very solid too, and there will be some familiar faces for fans of British TV.  Nicholas Burns (Nathan Barley) and Felicity Montague (Alan Partridge) as her co-workers, and Michael Smiley (Spaced, The Lobster) as a sleazy film producer.  

This reminded me of Saint Maud in a lot of ways, particularly the lead characters.  Two women possessed with an evangelical zeal for their missions, both intending to do good, but at what cost?  @Conyou need to watch these films in a double bill because I want your opinion as a true horror connoisseur 🙂 I would highly recommend this film to everyone, not just horror-hounds.  A truly scary experience, but it's only a film, right?  

======================================================

Pig

dir. Michael Sarnoski/2021/1h32m

Pig (2021) - Movie Posters (1 of 2)

Another debut, this time by Michael Sarnoski, Pig is a revisionist revenge film starring Nicholas Cage as a forager, Robin, who lives out in the forests of Oregon with his truffle pig.  His only contact with humanity seems to be when young high-end restaurant supplier Amir (Alex Wolff) comes to buy his truffles every Thursday.  One night his pig is stolen and so he has to return to the city to not only retrieve his pig but to face his past and some painful memories.  

When I read the synopsis "Nic Cage seeks revenge on the people who stole his pig" I was expecting the usual meme heavy crap Cage has been doing recently like Mandy and Willies Wonderland.  I did not get what I was expecting.  This is an incredibly quiet, tender and moving film which isn't really about revenge, it's about grief and loss.  This is John Wick if he never killed anyone.  The only violence is committed to Robin, not by him, and by the end of the film, which takes place over a day more or less, his face is bloodied and bruised and filthy, like his grief has become physical.  

This is also a film about food and the power over memories that a meal can have.  The film is split into three acts, each named after a meal which is important in some way in that chapter.  Late in the film there are two incredibly moving scenes, one where a meal is prepared and one where it is served and eaten and I have never been so moved by a scene like that before.  Particularly the preparation scene.  The love and care that you see Robin and Amir put into this meal is so tender and loving.  This reminds me of First Cow in that that film is also a quiet and tender film centered around food and male bonding.  It's set in Oregon too, and that setting is gorgeous. 

If you want a revenge film that isn't really a revenge film, and maybe the best Nicolas Cage film since the last millenium then you should check this out.  

*

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djw180

The Square (2017) dir Rubed Östlund

 

 

Satirical comedy about the curator of a Stockholm modern art museum, Christian (Claes Bang), also featuring Elizabeth Moss as a an American journalist (who lives with a chimpanzee) and Dominic West as an artist. Mostly in Swedish but they switch to English quite often.

Christian's phone is stolen by pick-pockets on the way to work one day. A colleague tracks the phone's gps signal, finds the apartment block where the thief lives and hatches a plan for him and Christian to get it back. It's doesn't go quite to plan and distracted by the aftermath of this Christian approves a bizarre promotional video for an up-coming installation, 'The Square', which features a child apparently being blown up. This does not go down well with the press and general public. That's the basic story but this is essentially a satire on modern art and how bizarre and ridiculous it can be. I don't know much about art and find a lot of modern art, particularly 'installations' utterly incomprehensible. That seems to be what the film-makers are saying as well. It's not a rolling around on the floor type of comedy, more the sort that makes you grin at the awkward situations Christian gets himself into both in his professional and personal life. The funniest moment you can sort of see coming a mile off, but it's still good when it finally happens; a cleaner in the museum accidentally sweeps up what was not actually a pile rubbish but one of the 'art' works.

It's well acted and looks very stylish. It's too long for me though at 2 ½ hours. Maybe if I was more into art I wouldn't say that but for me the same story and message could be easily done in well under 2 hours.

 

7/10

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djw180

All is True (2018) dir Kenneth Branagh

 

 

 

A semi fictionalised story of the last years in the life of William Shakespeare made by one the great Shakespearian actor-directors, who of course takes the lead role.

 

After his theatre accidentally burns down an ageing (late 40s, but that was old in those days) Shakespeare, played of course by the director, decides to hang up his quill and retire to his country home and live out his remaining years with the wife and daughters he has pretty much ignored whilst living and working as a early 17th century London celebrity.

 

If you like Shakespearian adaptations, particularly Kenneth Branagh's, then like me you will probably really like this. But if those are not your sort of thing you might not. I suspect this is a role the director always wanted to play, and he does so with his usual very high standard. Judy Dench is very good as Mrs Anne Shakespeare and Ian McKellan makes a brief but great appearance as the Earl of Southampton; thought by many to have been Shakespeare's lover. It's very well written by Ben Elton and full of Shakespearian quotes. I really like explanation given for the widely known story of Shakespeare leaving his wife his 'second best bed' in his will, and that rather than him being mean, it was an in-joke referring to the fact they pretty much never shared the same bed and she automatically inherited 1/3 of his estate by the laws of the time anyway. It has a great, quite moving, scene at the end where Anne and her two daughters read one of Shakepeare's poems at his funeral. The film's tilte is the alternative title of the play that was being performed when the theatre caught fire and refers to Shakespeare, as he says in this film, never letting the truth get in the way of a good story.

 

The cinematography is stunning at times with slow shots, almost stills, of the English country side. There is no great drama nor tension, and I think viewing the trailer would make you expect there to be lots of those, but I don't know if you can hold a film responsible for what trailers get put out. It's really a very gentle story of a man reconnecting with the family he has somewhat neglected, especially finally finding time to properly mourn his son who died in childhood and discovering things he was not aware of because he was never around to be aware of them.

 

8/10

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Con

Black Widow (2020)

Unlike Fido, I had no issues with the back-shots of Scarlet Johansson, I think she has an amazing figure and should be considered a work of art. And in fact, being a connoisseur of the female gluteus, I noticed hers change a few times, so there is no question sometimes it is not her bo*ty you are actually seeing and probably a stunt man.  Yes, that does not mean I excuse all the sexism she has endured especially after becoming part of the MCU, you can youtube plenty of videos of her shooting down cringy questions about wearing underwear under the costumes. I felt that there was a conscious effort not to have gratitious shots of her body, kind of like what they did at the olympics this year with the tv footage, gone were the old fashioned athlete crotch shots. Anyways enough of that, did i like the film? 

Quick disclaimer: I am not you traditional MCU fan. I like the superheroes but usually dont go out of my way to watch the movies, The Avengers? never seen it, been meaning to, perhaps that will be the genre I submit next month to the film club. Now, I enjoyed the Wonder Woman and did see the Thor movie and liked both. I watched WW84 and for my taste, that was such a let down. I was not familiar with Black Widow because I did not watch Civil War or Captain America. So I was confusing this Black Widow thing with Scarlet's other movie where she wears a tight-suit, Ghost in the Shell (2017). Yes, I'm not the go-to-guy for things MCU or superheroes so excuse me for not talking about the easter eggs and references. 

I liked that they keep you guessing as to what is happening with the family. I enjoyed the element of kids being betrayed by their parents. It really made me wonder what the movie was going to be about. And they did a great job leading up to that reveal, when the family reunites and even when they do, I enjoyed the twists within the twists of the family dynamic. I felt that that whole family device could easily have been used in a non-MCU film about a family with secrets minus the superhero stuff. But that is what made this interesting enough for me to care. Plus what the amazing actress does as the young Florence Pugh is so brilliant that when the grown Pugh arrives in the film, I was like "She was a baby when that sh*t happened and she was so innocent and loved her family. Pugh does a great job conveying her disgust of the betrayal as an adult. Pugh really stands out here and the only time she comes across as corny is when she has to read the lines in script. Like when she does the pose, I felt her saying something better than "i feel disgusting" was in order there, it was still funny but something like "So unnecessary" would have hit me funnier. Obviously I had to remind myself that no matter how grounded everything seemed, I was still watching an MCU film and that was made clear when the CGI starts to kick in. And good job with the CGI. In fact, I felt that the big loser of the film was the lighting team, there were some scenes where the actors were not flattered. The main robot bad guy was cool to look at but suffers from the inconsistency usually present in these films. One scene the robot guy is killing everything and in another scene its like he isnt that strong, which did make sense when it is revealed who is under the costume. 

Okay, so I'm never going to do this movie any full justice, me not being the huge MCU fan. So im going to just answer the question most non-MCU people probably have...."Should we watch it?"

The answer is yes. I think the family element is intriguing and done well enough to sit through the entire film to see how that comes together, it really elevates the human element and I felt worked really well. The film is cohesive unlike WW84 which was a train wreck in my opinion. I would not watch WW84 again but I would watch Black Widow again. There is the regulation superhero stuff and its just more of the eye-rolling worthy stuff like bad guys forgetting to shoot at the good guys or forgetting how to shoot with accuracy. Luckily the quantity of those scenes are paced far enough that you forget how comic bookish this stuff is supposed to be, until you get to the last act and then you have to throw what you know about physics and luck out the window and just accept the crazy ride. There was one scene where I laughed so hard at the absurdity of the main bad guys base. I get why no one could find him and he was clever, but in an instant my investigative brain asked, how does the staff get up there without being seen? And the eye opening red glitter powder....why not make tons of it from the start? Pugh was hit with it very early on in the film. I don't know, I might have missed something about the red powder thing. Just seems like they had access to that as a solution very early on. 

Final Verdict....3/5....A solid and unexpectedly fun family drama. Everyone involved took it seriously and it benefits from that. Florence Pugh is a global treasure, even if I felt her accent is quite inconsistent throughout. Scarlet does most of the heavy lifting, what Pugh brings emotionally cements the importance of the main theme of family is forever. There is also the theme of bad guy controlling the world and wanting to control humans but it is all just standard throwaway stuff. I enjoyed watching this. From putting the pieces together of what happened at the start and following that until the reunion was pretty fun. Like I said, I didn't know who Black Widow was and this film has now given me that knowledge and I even know she has a sister and since the typing of this, I have learned that Black Widow may not be with us any longer and a White Widow is rumored to be the next bad-*ss MCU female. Stuff sure moves fast in this MCU universe place.

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LimeGreenLegend

Rubber

dir. Quentin Dupieux/2010/1h25m

Rubber (2010) - IMDb

Rubber is a high concept horror/comedy about an abandoned car tyre named Robert who comes to life one day for no reason and discovers that he has telekinetic powers which enable him to blow up rabbits, crows, and, Scanners style, people's heads.  At the same time it is about a group of random people who have been gathered in the desert to watch, through binoculars, the events of the film unravelling.  And not on a screen, like, actually happening around them.  These two threads collide several times in really interesting, fourth wall breaking, meta-commentary ways.  My favourite scene in the film involves the police chief Chad (Stephen Spinella) trying to, after the desert group has been apparently killed, tell the rest of the police force that they can stop with the investigation now that no one is watching.  It's all fake.  It's over.  My second favourite involves Man in Wheelchair (his actual character name, played by Wings Hauser) who is one of the spectators, insert himself in the ending of the film because it's getting too ridiculous and he wants to see some action.  I think the entire ending is fantastic, and the sequel bait is just perfect for what this film is trying to do.

This film is in a lot of ways a critique on the horror genre and the audience expectations/involvement with what's happening on screen, and as a comment on the very nature of voyeurism that is the film watching experience as a whole.  This is sometimes obfuscated by the fact that this is a film about a sentient tyre, this ridiculous sounding premise monopolising your attention.  However, I found the scenes that were shot seriously to be a lot more engaging than the over the top gore and straight up comedy scenes.  The start of the film where Robert comes to life is almost touching; the way it wobbles about on his tread uncertainly reminded me of Bambi, his first few wobbling rolls really come across like a child's first steps.  You can feel his joy end exuberance when he finds his feet and is soon bounding over the dunes.  You can see his pain and confusion when he comes across a scrapyard with a burning pile of his brothers.  

The very concept of this film will put some people off right away, and that's fine because not every film is for everyone, but if you can get past that you might find something with a lot more substance than you were expecting.  I found this entertaining and engaging enough that I'm very interested in checking out the director's newest film Deerskin, in which a man becomes manically obsessed with his vintage deerskin jacket.  Clearly this filmmaker likes to eat cheese before going to sleep.  

======================================================

Paddington

dir. Paul King/2014/1h36m

Paddington Poster Big Ben (61cm x 91,5cm): Amazon.co.uk: Kitchen & Home

Paddington, from Paul King, is a family film based on the beloved children's books by Michael Bond.  The story is about a young bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who, after an earthquake in his native Darkest Peru, is sent to London to find a new home.  Found all alone at Paddington train station by the kindly Brown family, the bear is taken in and all kinds of fish out of water hijinks can ensue.  As well as trying to win over Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) so that he can stay, he also has to contend with evil taxidermist Milicent (Nicole Kidman) who sees him as the potential jewel of her collection.  

This film is like a warm hug and a cup of hot cocoa.  It's incredibly sweet and kind-hearted and always sincerely so.  I was worried that this would try to modernise Paddington, to try to make him cool.  I was expecting him to dab at some point, or do a Fortnite dance.  Maybe say "yolo".  Thankfully, none of this happens.  Paddington is as he was.  He is truly innocent, and in a time where every film aimed at children seems to think they need to be edgy, or full of songs from the charts, or have a million references to pop culture something like this is so refreshing.  

The cast is excellent all round.  Whishaw's performance as Paddington is child-like but never childish.  He's naive but not stupid.  Despite his child-like tendencies there is also a maturity and wisdom to him.  In many ways he very much reminded me of Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardner from the excellent film Being There (highly recommended).  Bonneville as Mr. Brown was a revelation to me.  I only new him as the guy from Downton Abbey and thought of him as the guy you get when you can't get Colin Firth, but he is brilliant in this.  His stiff-upper-lippishness is consistently hilarious, and most of my biggest laughs were reserved for his scenes.  His disguising himself as a cleaning lady is a particular highlight. 

Sally Hawkins (The Sound of Water) doesn't get much to do as Mrs. Brown seeing as she's on board with adopting a bear from square one, but she always radiates a comforting warmth whenever she's on screen.  Kidman is having a blast channelling her inner Cruella De Vil here and there is solid support from a host of familiar British faces, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Kayvan Novak and Simon Farnaby.  The production design matches the tone of the film perfectly, every location is inviting and awash with gorgeous pastel colours.  It may be a cliche but this really is a film for the whole family.  

======================================================

Run

dir. Aneesh Chaganty/2020/1h30m

Run Movie Poster (#1 of 2) - IMP Awards

Run is a thriller film from Aneesh Chaganty starring Sarah Paulson (Birdbox, Ratched) as Diane, single mother to a teenage daughter Chloe (Kiera Allen) who is a wheelchair user.  Chloe is waiting to hear back from the colleges she's applied to, but starts to notice things that indicate her mother may not be so loving, and her overprotectiveness, things like not letting her have a mobile phone or her own computer, takes on a sinister note.  This is a quite standard plot at first but a few things elevate it.  Firstly, it gets really dark.  Seriously, the third act is twisted.  Not in a gory or gross way, it's just f*cked up.  Secondly we not only have a main character who is a wheelchair user, adding extra suspense and tension because she can't just run away, even a staircase is an almost impossible obstacle to overcome, but she is played by an actual wheelchair user, something that's not happened since the 40s I think.  

This adds an extra sense of reality to the situation because when you see Allen hauling herself out of bed, or throwing her chair around corners at top speed, or dragging herself across the floor on her stomach you know that these are things that she has to do in her real life (hopefully not the dragging herself around on her stomach too much).  Combined with the fact that she is a really good actor (in her debut no less) you get a real feeling of honesty in her performance which makes you empathise with her so much more.  Paulson is also great.  At the start of the film you feel sorry for her, but she is slowly revealed to us as she is to her daughter, and her escalation in her performance is very well controlled, giving us more and bigger glimpses of her total psychopathy.

The ending does lose some momentum once we leave their house, but it remains engaging right up until the brilliant last scene where our sympathy for Paulson's character almost returns.  This isn't going to redefine the thriller genre, but it is a refreshing new take, an entertaining and pretty messed up ride, and an important step in more screen representation for the under-represented.  

======================================================

The Prostitutes of Lyon Speak

dir. Carole Roussopoulos/1975/46m

The Prostitutes of Lyon Speak Poster | Etsy

The Prostitutes of Lyon Speak is a French documentary by Carole Roussopoulos in which she interviews several of the prostitutes involved with the occupation of St. Nizier church in 1973.  These interviews make up the majority of the film, the rest made up of footage from outside the church of bemused spectators.  This is a very rough film, almost amateur.  However, this just adds to the immediacy of the piece.  It really feels like someone bought their camera along to film this because they feel that it is important, and that weight of importance is passed on to the spectator.  The lack of a soundtrack also adds to this feeling, the words that these women are speaking are what's important, we don't need to hear anything else.

As for those words, they still feel relevant today, sadly.  These women occupied the church because they felt they were being abused, by the police, by the government, by society.  They speak of the money made for the government by constantly fining them, billions of Francs.  Beatings by the police are commonplace.  They are turned down for jobs because of their past, and so can't escape it.  Past becomes present becomes future.  None of them are prostitutes because they want to be, and yet are punished for something out of their control.  They are mothers and they want a better future for their children, but in this world they have been given no other option.  

These women are articulate, intelligent, and strong and this film at times is heartbreakingly devastating.  My main problem with the film is a problem with Amazon.  Their subtitles on this are awful.  I'm not joking when I say that there was an error in spelling or formatting in pretty much every line and it really took me out of the film.  I get that a French documentary from the 70s probably isn't high on their priorities list when it comes to proper subtitling, but it should be!

I couldn't find a trailer, nor any video of this, so here's a gif of Terry Crews.

Terry Crews Need GIF

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LimeGreenLegend

Le Mépris (Contempt)

dir. Jean-Luc Godard/1963/1h43m

LE MEPRIS" Large Vintage Movie Poster of the Classic 1963 Movie with  Brigitte Bardot & Jack Palance : Amazon.co.uk: Home & Kitchen

Contempt is a French drama from innovator of the New Wave Jean-Luc Godard.  It stars Michel Piccoli and Brigitte Bardot as Paul and Camille, a married couple whose relationship breaks down after he is hired to rewrite the script for a film version of The Odyssey.  The film also stars Jack Palance as Jerry Prokosh, a brash Hollywood producer, and the legendary German director Fritz Lang as himself, directing The Odyssey.  

The title is apt because by the end Camille has nothing but contempt for her husband, but this is gradually built up over the course of the film.  The main thing seems to be that Camille loses respect for Paul, and he does nothing to earn it back.  He shows no fight for her, doesn't object when Jerry offers her a ride in his very nice Alfa Romeo, ignoring his own standards by taking a job just for the money.  Not to say that this is totally one sided.  Her testing of him by kissing Jerry knowing that he can see them, as well as other smaller things, can be seen as pushing a wedge between them.  You just know from observing them that this is a doomed relationship.  

As with other early JLG films, this is also a film about filmmaking.  It's a very meta move of Godard to cast one of his heroes, Lang, as the wise old man of the film, there to offer sage advice.  There are also strong parallels made between Paul and Camille's relationship and the way Paul wants to adapt The Odyssey.  At one point he remarks that maybe Ulysses was away for so long because he didn't want to go back to his wife.  

There is a great use of colour in the film, huge blocks of primary colours dominate the frame, red and blue especially, each representing a different character.  The direction is as inventive as always, with JLG continuously finding ways of challenging the viewer with his editing style and use of voiceovers.  The music is lush and romantic but with a hint of melancholy that perfectly matches the tone of the film. 

The performances are great all round.  Piccoli can go from total apathy in one scene to violent passion in the next and they both feel natural.  Bardot is spot on as someone who just becomes more and more detached from her partner so that when the final string is cut at the end it feels so cathartic.  Her bottom is also prominently featured, which I appreciated.  Palance plays Prokosh like William Shatner and I'm not even kidding.  His mannerisms just reminded me of him so much, and they look quite similar.  Lang, playing himself, probably has the easiest job, but he was always a welcome presence whenever he was on screen, very playful and kindly.

This is a fantastic film driven by strong central performances that really invest you in the relationship that is falling apart in front of your eyes.  It would also serve as a good introduction to JLG as a filmmaker as this story is a lot more straight forward and has more substance than a lot of his early films, in the majority of which plot isn't even a consideration.  

La Chinoise (The Chinese)

dir. Jean-Luc Godard/1967/1h39m

La chinoise 1967 Jean-Luc Godard Movie poster reprint | Etsy

The Chinese is another film from JLG, and marks the step from making films about films to making films about politics.  The film sees five students come together to form a radical Maoist group whose various discussions and lectures about the ideology of communism leads some of them to the conclusion that terrorist action is the only means to revolution.  Set mostly in their flat, which could be renamed "the echo chamber", the film also contains several talking-head style interview segments, where Godard interviews the actors who sometimes answer as their character and sometimes as themselves.  

This is Godard's most experimental film to date, in terms of form and construction.  The Vietnam war is represented by one of the students wearing a lamp on their head, sitting in front of an Esso logo whilst being assaulted by toy planes on strings.  At other times the dialogue is spoken syllable by syllable, breaking the language down in the same way he wants to break down the filmmaking process by revealing it to us.  Several times we see the clapperboard and the director calling action before a scene starts, the actors locked in place waiting to be bought to life.  At one point we are given a POV of one of the interviewees and we can see the camera and the sound recordist etc.  

Again, the colour in this film is bright primary blocks, this time of mainly red for obvious reasons.  Shelves of Mao's Little Red Book line the walls.  The music here is more discordant and dislocated from what's being shown on screen, again challenging the viewer.  I can't speak to much on the themes of the film because I'm pretty ignorant on communism, especially as it was at the time.  Godard seems to know something though, just a year after this in May 1968 there were student riots in France that lasted several weeks.  

This is harder to recommend than Contempt because it's a harder film to watch.  Not that it's bad, far from it.  It's inventive and certainly has something to say, a solid viewpoint.  I won't talk about the performances much, they are all good, but the characters are just there to be mouthpieces for Godard's views, and as such there's not really any development.  There's not much plot either, just a series of discussions and interviews which lead to impotent violence.  If you want something the likes of which you won't have seen before then you should check this out.

*

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pete_95973

Been going through IMDB to make sure I see everything Robert Duvall has done because I just love watching the guy.  I cannot believe he is 90!  Last night my wife and I watched A Family Thing.  Co starring with Duvall was another treasure James Earl Jones (Lord Vader).

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116275/

A Family Thing (1996) directed by Richard Pearce • Reviews, film + cast •  Letterboxd

It tells the story of a racist southern man finding out he has black family, and that where he comes from is not where he thought. The screenplay is actually co written by Billy Bob Thornton.  I enjoyed the movie, probably because I could watch Duvall read the phone book as long as he chuckled every few mins.  It is no Oscar worthy film but the solid acting and chemistry between Jones and Duvall (and the character Aunt T) makes it worth the watch.

6.5/10

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LimeGreenLegend

Not a review here, but I just logged my 1000th film on letterboxd (letterboxd.com/limegreenlegend), and out of those 1000 films I bestowed a perfect five stars on just 42.  So here, in no particular order, are the best films I've ever seen.  Needless to say that I highly recommend everything on this list.

Brazil - Terry Gilliam/1985
Sleuth - Joseph L. Mankiewicz/1972
The King of Comedy - Martin Scorsese/1982
Taxi Driver - Martin Scorsese/1976
High and Low - Akira Kurosawa/1963
Ikiru - Akira Kurosawa/1952
Seven Samurai - Akira Kurosawa/1954
Ran - Akira Kurosawa/1985
Rashomon - Akira Kurosawa/1950
Lost Highway - David Lynch/1997
The Elephant Man - David Lynch/1980
Rope - Alfred Hitchcock/1948
Rear Window - Alfred Hitchcock/1954
Dr. Strangelove - Stanley Kubrick/1964
The Shining - Stanley Kubrick/1980
The Passion of Joan of Arc - Carl Theodore Dreyer/1928
Stop Making Sense - Jonathan Demme/1984
Satantango - Bela Tarr/1994
Amazing Grace - Sydney Pollack/2018
Parasite - b*ng Joon-ho/2019
Monty Python's Life of Brian - Terry Jones/1979
The Ladykillers - Alexander Mackendrick/1955
My Neighbour Totoro - Hayao Miyazaki/1988
The Killing of a Sacred Deer - Yorgos Lanthimos/2017
The Lighthouse - Robert Eggers/2019
Jaws - Steven Spielberg/1975
Alien - Ridley Scott/1979
Hot Fuzz - Edgar Wright/2007
Bait - Mark Jenkin/2019
Nights of Cabiria - Federico Fellini/1957
The Blues Brothers - John Landis/1980
Come and See - Elem Klimov/1985
12 Angry Men - Sidney Lumet/1957
d*ck Johnson is Dead - Kirsten Johnson/2020
Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould - Francois Girard/1993
Citizen Kane - Orson Welles/1941
Hamilton - Thomas Kail/2020
Mary and Max - Adam Elliot/2009
Portrait of a Lady on Fire - Celine Sciamma/2019
The Father - Florian Zeller/2020
Anima - Paul Thomas Anderson/2019 (short film)
Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers - Nick Park/1993 (short film)
 

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Sympathy for the Devil

dir. Jean-Luc Godard/1968/1h45m

One plus one - Sympathy for the Devil de Jean-Luc Godard (avec les ROLLING  STONES héhé...) 1968

Sympathy for the Devil is the first English language film from legendarily divisive French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard.   Half of the film is documentary footage of The Rolling Stones as they compose and record the song Sympathy for the Devil.  Shot in a very unobtrusive way, there are no interviews with any of the band or the crew, we see the song evolve from an acoustic almost folksy ballad to the uproarious number that it finally became. 

The other half of the film consists of several scripted political sketches very much in the style of La Chinoise.  One sees a militant Black Power group assemble in a dockside scrapyard.  One of the number reads from a book about the history of the blues while another hands out guns.  Two white women dressed in white robes are brought in and executed.  One sketch sees a woman in a forest being interviewed by a film crew.  She answers only "yes" or "no" even as the questions become more and more complex.  The owner of a comic book store roams around his domain reading, again from a book, about advertisement and propaganda.  The customers, to pay for their purchases, give him a n*zi salute and then slap two bloodied men.  Intercut with all of this is footage of a woman wandering around spray-painting political portmanteau onto windows, walls, billboards, cars; Sovietcong, Freudemocracy, Cinemarxist.  At random points throughout the film we hear a voiceover of a man reading from a (several?) book(s).  Sometimes it's er*tic, sometimes it concerns a war, sometimes it's a sci-fi story.  

What connects all of these disparate elements is the way JLG shoots this film.  Unlike the very kinetic jump cutting of his early films, Sympathy for the Devil sees him use long, unbroken takes, his camera roaming around freely, taking in whatever interests it.  The sound mixing is also his most experimental.  The aforementioned narrator breaks in and always overpowers whatever is happening on screen, disconnecting sound and image and really challenging the viewer.  He also does this with birdsong in the forest scene and the actual Stones song several times.  A critic once said that if you watched a JLG film on mute it would seem like any other film, but with sound it transforms into something new, and this is very much the same here.

The original title of this film is "One Plus One".  JLG himself says that that is all, there is no "equals two", all there is is the one and the one.  In this case it seems to be art and politics, his two main concerns.  With this film he takes footage of a band and attempts to connect it to radical political thought through cinematic forms.  Like I said in my review of La Chinoise my political knowledge, especially concerning Communism, ain't that strong, but the way JLG incorporates his politics into his film is never less than engaging.  I've watched a fair few JLG films recently, and while I can't say that he's become my favourite director, he's certainly the one I think about the most.  But what's puzzling me is the nature of his game.

 

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djw180

Equals (2015) dir. Drake Doremus

 

Sci-fi with a similar type of story and feel to things like Aldus Huxley's novel a Brave New World or George Lucas' first film THX1138. It's set in some unnamed city at an unspecified date in the future where people no longer have emotions. But some people are starting to feel emotions again. This is viewed as a degenerative disease that can be partially controlled but not cured and once it becomes too bad the suffers are taken to a special clinic where they are offered euthanasia, though many kill themselves first. It stars Nicolas Hoult as Silas, a graphic designer who starts to notice he has the 'disease' and so does a colleague who he falls in love with. Guy Pearce plays a fellow suffer who introduces Silas to an underground support network for fellow emotion suffers and eventually sets up a plan for them to escape to the vaguely described outside world.

It's an interesting idea (written by the director) but one that I think would make a better book than a film, because the problem with the film is how unlikeable and plain boring all the emotion free characters are. Those with the disease and who are starting to acknowledge it isn't really a disease, that humans are meant to have emotions, don't get enough screen time till too far into the film. I could imagine a lot of people turning off before it starts to get interesting. Even when it does get interesting it seemed a bit too similar to the two stories I mentioned at the start. I did like the sets. Where it was shot (somewhere in Singapore) is very impressive; a real setting rather than a film set, modern architecture that looks, or maybe with a bit of CGI maybe was made to look, very futuristic.

So nice sci-fi concept, just doesn't quite work for me. 6/10

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Annette

dir. Leos Carax/2021/2h20m

Annette (2021) - IMDb

Anette is a magic-realist romantic drama musical and the first English language film from Leos Carax (Holy Motors).  It stars Adam Driver (Marriage Story, The Dead Don't Die) and Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, Midnight in Paris) as celebrity couple Henry and Ann.  He's a controversial, confrontational stand-up comedian and she's a world renowned opera soprano.  After a whirlwind romance, documented in part by trashy inserts from a fictional celebrity news channel, they have a child, Annette.  There are two remarkable things about Annette.  Firstly, she has an incredible gift for singing.  Secondly, and this is only remarkable to the audience as the characters don't comment on this whatsoever, is that Annette is a Pinocchio style wooden marionette, visible joints and all.  

After Annette is born Henry and Ann's relationship quickly falls apart, culminating in an incredible sequence on a boat in a huge storm.  Adding to the mix is the character of The Conductor, played by Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory).  He was in a relationship with Ann before she got with Henry, and after their relationship dissolves he and Henry conspire to make his dreams of becoming a world famous conductor a reality by exploiting Annette.  

Adam Driver is amazing in this, in my opinion it's his best performance.  The two stand-up routines we see are stand out moments of the film and are both very different.  In one he's a star, in the other a villain.  The way we realise that the character he portrays on stage isn't a character at all is perfectly revealed little by little until he is completely broken at the end during a powerful duet with his daughter, Sympathy for the Abyss, one of the best songs in the film.  Cotillard is great, but isn't really given much to do.  She's there mainly to act as a source of light and goodness to contrast with Driver's ever growing darkness.  The filmmakers don't really find her interesting, and in turn neither do I.  Helberg was a real surprise to me.  I'd only ever seen him in the awful Big Bang Theory, but he's fantastic in this.  He perfectly plays the other man, overlooked by Ann for Henry who is bigger than him in both stature and character, and his resentment at that comes through in a very real and subtle way, especially in his interactions with Annette.

The idiosyncratic art-pop duo Sparks (Ron and Russell Mael) wrote all of the music for this film, as well as coming up with the story and co-writing the screenplay with Carax.  The music is both classic Sparks style (So May We Start) as well as taking cues from classic French musicals, especially those with music by Michel Legrand like Jaques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (ask @Con about that one 😉).  This is most evident in the song We Love Each Other So Much, the theme of which is returned to several times throughout the film.  I loved the music in this film, but your enjoyment may rely on how much you like the very unique style of Sparks. 

Carax's direction is brilliant.  Every number is presented in a unique way, from the opening scene which sees Carax himself in a recording studio with Sparks.  As they play So May We Start they all leave the studio to walk through the streets, being joined by the cast, a total fourth wall break that doesn't repeat, to the show-stopping storm scene Let's Waltz in the Storm! which uses classic rear-projection techniques to stunning effect.  This is also shot using super crisp digital photography that lends an un-realism to proceedings, really making it feel like a modern fairy-tale.  Again, like old French musicals, the colours really pop in both production design and use of lighting, with great use of unnatural greens blues and reds.  

This is one of the most unique and stylised films that I've seen in a long while.  It's fresh and also has a classic feel to it, a modern remix of old standards.  It is bizarre and at times melodramatic, everyone's emotions are right on the surface here, and totally not everyone's cup of tea, but I highly recommend this film.  You won't have seen anything quite like this before.

 

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Squirrel

Stop what you’re doing now and book a ticket to see Free Guy. 
 

This film is made for people on this forum. 
 

Do it now, you won’t regret it. Can’t give you a synopsis because of spoilers.
 

Just watch it. 
 

Avoid the official trailer too. Gives away too many spoilers. Better to go in not knowing what to expect 

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LimeGreenLegend

The Dead Don't Die

dir. Jim Jarmusch/2019/1h45m

dead dont die poster 2 – Cinematic Slant

The Dead Don't Die is a deadpan horror comedy from the king of American independent filmmaking, Jim Jarmusch.  It stars Bill Murray and Adam Driver as sheriff and deputy of a small town, population just over 700, when the zombie apocalypse hits, caused by polar fracking knocking the Earth off its axis.  The absolutely stacked supporting cast includes Tilda Swinton as a samurai mortician with a comedy Scottish accent, Steve Buscemi as a racist farmer sporting a "Make America White Again" cap, and Wu-Tang Clan's RZA as a delivery driver for the company WU-PS.  There are several other musicians in the film too, Tom Waits as a hermit living in the woods, Selena Gomez as a Cleveland hipster and Iggy Pop as a zombie after some coffee.  

If this all sounds way over the top, well, it is.  But everyone plays everything off so deadpan and dry that it creates this very bizarre, indolent atmosphere even as the world ends.  This is unlike any other horror comedy I've seen from Return of the Living Dead to Shaun of the Dead.  This is totally not to everyone's taste, Jarmusch's best film, Stranger Than Paradise, is literally about nothing, and that is kind of reflected here.  Even though stuff happens, it really feels like it's not.  Does that make any sense?  There is also a lot of meta moments and fourth wall breaking here, the film not worried about trying to keep up the pretence of being a film.  At the start Murray's character ponders why the song on the radio, The Dead Don't Die, sounds familiar.  Driver replies that it's because it's the theme song.  Driver's character also has a Star Wars keychain.  

The most divisive part of the film would probably be the ending.  In the last 10-15 minutes it gets really out there.  I won't say anything about it here, but you definitely won't see it coming.  The rest of the third act before the batsh*t ending really loses some momentum, and the overall point of the film, how the zombies are drawn to things they loved when they were alive, and how we're all already zombies, is nothing original and Jarmusch doesn't develop the idea beyond the first time it was made in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead and it's many imitators in the years since.  Despite that I would still recommend this film.  The performances are all great, and the first act in particular is hilarious.  

 

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LimeGreenLegend

Eighth Grade

dir. Bo Burnham/2018/1h34m

Amazon.com: Eighth Grade Movie Poster Limited Print Photo Elsie Fisher Bo  Burnham Size 27x40#1: Posters & Prints

Eighth Grade is a coming of age film and the debut of YouTuber and comedian Bo Burnham.  It stars Elsie Fisher as Kayla, a socially anxious girl in the final of week of eighth grade, about to graduate to high school.  She has her own YouTube channel where she posts advice videos about things like how to make friends and how to put yourself out there and take risks, things that she actually can't do herself.  She lives with her father Mark (Josh Hamilton), her mother having left some years before.  She attempts to block him out by practically living with her earbuds in, obsessed with social media and trying to present a version of herself that she thinks other people will notice and like.  

This is a fantastic movie with an incredibly authentic lead performance from Fisher.  I have never related to a thirteen year old girl more in my life.  Her isolation at school and the absolute terror she feels at the popular girl's pool party (whose mother made her invite Kayla) is totally heart-breaking.  Likewise, the happiness she experiences when she makes friends with a high school girl radiates out of the screen, the kinetic camerawork following her as she excitedly talks to her on the phone perfectly capturing the emotion of the moment.  

This film pulls no punches when it comes to what young kids experience and the influence of social media on their lives.  At one point Kayla learns that the boy she has a crush on dumped his girlfriend because she wouldn't send him nudes.  She then pretends to have taken some herself, and when the boy asks if she gives blowjobs she lies and says yes, before the film cuts to her looking up bl*wjob tutorial videos on YouTube.  There's also a really uncomfortable and upsetting scene when she takes a ride home from an older boy, a scene scarier and more tense than anything in any horror film.  

But this is ultimately an optimistic film that leaves its main character in a good place when the credits roll and it is absolutely deserved.  Last month's film club genre was school films, and Eighth Grade has immediately become my favourite.  

Irma Vep

dir. Olivier Assayas/1996/1h39m

Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas) | Maggie cheung, Film posters art, Retro poster

Irma Vep is a French drama from Olivier Assayas.  It stars Hong Kong legend Maggie Cheung as herself, in Paris to shoot a remake of the classic silent film Les Vampires.  But when she arrives, three days late because her last film overran, she finds a doomed production.  The director Rene (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is a petty dictator who everyone else thinks is past his prime.  Nobody has faith in his vision, which is to shoot the film in black and white and without sound to keep the essence of the original.  They also don't understand why he hired a Chinese actress, someone who can't speak a word of French.  Maggie becomes friends with the costume designer Zoe (Nathalie Richard), but that relationship becomes complicated when she hears lots of gossip about her.  

Films about making films usually go one of two ways, they either glorify the process or they make it seem like a total clusterf*ck.  This film strikes a balance between the two that feels very real.  The handheld camerawork used in many scenes lends a documentary feel that adds more authenticity.  The performances are also all very naturalistic, with Cheung being a highlight.  She is fantastic every time she's on screen, especially the times where she seems lost or bewildered while everyone around her is talking French.  She is an outsider totally detached from events.  Richard is also excellent as Zoe, and the chemistry between the two is great.

This film also acts as a critique of cinema as it was at the time, and maybe still is.  There are discussions about the pointlessness of remakes, the sexualisation of women, and whether a director should make films for themselves or for the audience.  I loved one scene in particular where Rene is being interviewed by a young film critic who loves films with Van Damme and Schwarzenegger and thinks that the kind of films Rene makes are pretentious crap which nobody wants to see.

If you're interested in the filmmaking process then you need to check it out, and I would recommend this to everyone if just for the final scene where we get to see Rene's edit of the film, a total mind-f*ck of avant-garde distortion and experimentation that left me breathless.  

L'Avventura (The Adventure)

dir. Michelangelo Antonioni/1960/2h24m

L'Avventura POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x 102cm) (1960) (Italian  Style A) : Amazon.co.uk: Home & Kitchen

L'Avventura is an Italian drama from Michelangelo Antonioni.  It stars Monica Vitti as Claudia, who travels to a volcanic island with Anna (Lea Massari) and her partner Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti), along with several of their rich and bored friends.  After an afternoon idling the time away Anna disappears as if into thin air.  The remainder of the film follows Claudia and Sandro as they search for her, entering into a relationship themselves.  

This is a very cold film in my opinion, and that may be purposefully so.  The rocky islands come across as totally desolate and dislocated from the world, and the characters seem that way too.  Apart from Claudia and Sandro everyone seems to forget about Anna as soon as she's out of sight.  This attitude is exemplified in a scene where, during the search for Anna, one of the group finds an ancient vase in a cave.  He drops it, it breaks, and he just shrugs.  Who cares?  

The best thing about this film, to me, is the direction.  The shots of and on the islands are gorgeous, and there are some really interesting framing choices and compositions which make simple conversation scenes visually engaging.  The performances are good, but I found them hard to empathise with because of the emotional detachment of the characters.  I enjoyed the first act the most, everything on the island was suspenseful and felt almost like a Hitchcock film, but when they leave the island I felt it was just a lot of rich people being sad.

I'm still glad I watched it as it is considered one of the greatest films of all time.  It's not one of my favourites, but I can see why it's considered as such.  This is a light recommendation from me.

The Green Knight

dir. David Lowery/2021/2h10m

The Green Knight Movie Poster (#9 of 9) - IMP Awards

The Green Knight is a medieval fantasy film based on the Arthurian legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Directed by David Lowery, it stars Dev Patel as Gawain, King Arthur's nephew and not yet a knight.  During a Christmas feast King Arthur's court is visited by The Green Knight (Ralph Ineson), a towering wooden monster who lays down a challenge, or game as he calls it.  He will let anyone there strike him however they wish on the proviso that in a years time they seek out The Green Knight so that the blow can be returned.  Wanting to make a name for himself, Gawain takes up the challenge and cuts off the The Green Knight's head.  Unfortunately for him the Knight proceeds to pick up his head and basically say see you in a year, mate.  

This is a visually stunning film full of surreal imagery and a gorgeous colour palette dominated by vibrant greens, blues, yellows, and reds.  The direction is just as beautiful with some thoroughly staggering shots of the gorgeous landscapes.  The production and costume design is unique while also feeling authentic to the period.  There's a great use of cgi here, but at times it does look a bit out of place, especially when it comes to the fox companion that Gawain picks up on his journey.  At times it looks fantastic, other times it looks like a video game character.  This is a minor complaint though and didn't take anything away from my enjoyment of the film.  

Like Eighth Grade this is a coming of age story, but obviously approaching it from a very different angle.  The whole point of Gawain's journey isn't to seek out The Green Knight but to find a purpose in his life, to make a mark, and to accept the consequences of his actions.  Patel is brilliant as Gawain, his youthful confidence when he faces the Knight for the first time soon giving way to doubt and fear, all portrayed exceptionally.  The supporting cast is also very good, Ineson's distinctive voice is made monstrous with some fantastic sound design, and his performance so strong that you can read it through a wooden mask. 

There is also a small appearance from Barry Keoghan who is solidifying his reputation as being fantastic at playing creepily threatening characters (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Calm With Horses).  I highly recommend this film, it's distinctive and presents an old myth in a very novel way.  Even if you have no interest in Arthurian legend I think you would still enjoy this.  

The General

dir. Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman/1926/1h19m

EclairPlay - Spain - Movie: The General

The General is a silent comedy co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.  He plays Johnnie Gray, a train engineer during the civil war who is turned down by the Confederate army when he tries to sign up, being told that his engineering skills are too important for him to go and fight.  However, when Union spies steal his train while his sweetheart Annabelle (Marion Mack) is still on board he decides to take action and get them back.

As with every Keaton film the main attraction here are the stunts, and this features some of the most spectacular ones I've seen.  Watching him scramble on and around moving trains is always a sight to behold, a real element of danger behind everything he does, and he plays it off so nonchalantly, his legendary "stone face" never registering even a flicker of unease.  There's also a scene in this film where they drop a whole steam train through a burning bridge, and it's one of the most f*cking badass things ever.  But what really shines here is Keaton's humanity and heart.  He is the classic underdog, small in stature but full of courage.  You can't help but root for him.  

There are also some really impressive battle scenes here, with hundreds of people charging on horses, explosions going off all around them.  Taken on their own you would think they were from a serious war film.  If you've never seen a silent film before this would be a perfect start.  Even nearly a century later it's still hilarious and exciting and sincerely heartfelt.  I think I slightly prefer Sherlock. Jr, but this is still an absolute masterclass in comedy from one of the all time greats.

*

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The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Big Foot (2018) dir Robert D. Krzykowski.

 

Sam Elliot and Aidan Turner play the elderly and young Calvin Barr respectively. The former taking the main role with the latter's scenes in flashback. The title tells you exactly what Barr did; there is no suspense. As a young service man in the 2nd world war he performs an heroic deed at great risk to himself, that somehow manages not to alter the course of the war. As an old man he is called on to perform another service as The Bigfoot is found to be carrying a deadly virus that could wipe out most of the human race. But those two events are not the main story. It's more about the elderly Barr remembering what he did as a younger man, the woman and family he left behind when he volunteered to fight and then how he comes to carry out his other notable feat. It's a nice film, reasonably well made but whilst Sam Elliot is great some of the support cast let it down.

6/10

 

Dogs Don't Wear Pants (2019) dir JP Valkeapää

 

 

Finnish film about a heart surgeon, Juha, who years after the accidental drowning of his wife finds a new love in a sadomasochistic relationship with a dominatrix he originally pays to hurt him, but not it seems have s*x. He finds that if she nearly strangles him he can kind of re-connect with his wife. So it's a bit of an unusual subject but also very ordinary as much of the time single parent Juha looks after his teenage daughter and tries dating her music teacher etc. It's making the point that he can be a normal parent but be into kinky stuff in his private life. The title refers to the dominatrix treating all her clients as dogs and ordering Juha to take his pants off, because dog's don't wear pants. It is a bit gory in places, one scene particularly near the end where Juha persuades his mistress to really physically injure him and draw blood.

7/10

 

Edited by djw180
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Shiva Baby

dir. Emma Seligman/2020/1h18m

Emma Seligman makes stress delicious - The Hindu

Shiva Baby is the feature length debut from Emma Seligman, based on her NYU Film School short of the same name.  It stars Rachel Sennott as Danielle, a young woman about to graduate from college who acts as a sugar baby to earn some extra money (to her parents she's "babysitting").  The film opens with her banging an older man, Max (Danny Deferrari), calling him daddy yet pulling away when he tries to show affection.  She then reluctantly agrees to attend a shiva (a Jewish wake) for a distant relative where she not only has to deal with her overbearing mother Debbie (Polly Draper) and her snarky ex, Maya (Molly Gordon) but also the extreme awkwardness and paranoia when Max turns up with his wife and baby child.

Imagine a cross between Uncut Gems and Clueless all set in one location and you pretty much have this film.  And it is fantastic.  The direction really emphasises the extreme anxiety felt by Danielle, isolating her from the rest of the cast in fantastic compositions and exposing her with probing close ups.  The score compliments this perfectly, full of aggressive plucking and stabbings on the strings which match the spiky atmosphere.  Sennott's performance as the lead is pitched at the sweet spot between childhood and adulthood where it feels like everyone has a plan for your future except for you.  I also loved her chemistry with Gordon as her maybe-ex.  Their relationship feels so genuine and you're really pulling for them to get back together.  The rest of the cast is also great, especially Fred Melamed as Danielle's father, Joel.

This film uses it's short run time to the full, constantly upping the drama and the tension until you feel like you're about to burst.  There's not a single ounce of fat here.  I highly recommend this film to everyone, it's dramatic without being melodramatic, also it's really funny and at times beautifully heartfelt.  Watch this now.

 

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