Thursday, December 31, 2015

Saved from letterboxd

for my own reference...

Song of the Sea

I miss Ghibli already.

Der Griller

Strange dopey slacker film. The singing feels natural, the dialogue stilted. Makes Munich look like an adventure playground where no one can remember what the toys were used for, originally.

La Famille Wolberg

Let me down easy... I'd think it over twice (if I was you).... Remove this doubt... What becomes of the brokenhearted...
Taking northern soul at face value sure makes for a beautiful, emotionally devastating movie.


Proofs that Franco was capable of directing a relatively straight, technically competent slasher film. Also proofs that he was right to try for something else in luckily almost all of his other films.

Sette uomini d'oro nello spazio

Has its moments, if one cares to separate them from all the clutter (and I understand everyone who doesn't want to try). Most of them have to do with isolated faces breaking away from darkness. If one can hold on to them, this morphs into a deeply romantic film about the loneliness in space. With suicidal robots and Yanti Somer as a melancholic goddess.

The Restless Breed

Bare bones ultra formalist Dwan sure ain't my favorite Dwan. And especially after the magnificent John Payne films I just couldn't buy into Scott Brady's cheap smugness. Still much to love, of course... Anne Bancroft's dance... and if it would be nothing else, it would be an object lesson in just how many shots of a pair of eyes looking through painted glass one can put in a film without derailing the narrative.

Hold Back the Night

Keeping everything bottled up, even after marriage. For there might be another war.

A Most Violent Year

I don't mind the heavy-handedness of the central theme, and a film that starts with one of the most beautiful Marvin Gaye songs can't be all bad - but there are different kinds of restraint, and Gaye's is much more resonant with me than Chandor's. For the most part, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR feels like a double episode of a quality tv show with all the quirky side characters left out.


Although I like most of Kawase's work, I was surprised by how touching this is. The emotional exhibitionism that tainted some of her previous narrative films (although it works beautifully in the documentaries) is replaced by a much more detached sentimentality that might feel more conventional but is always rooted in poignant, expressive gestures. She even keeps her inner Malick in check this time, for the most part. Only in the end the lens flares take over. But that's ok, too, a Kawase film just needs a bit of bad taste.

Love in the Buff

Best ringtone ever. And the way his cellphone makes Shawn Yues shirt light up - just wonderful. Aside from the beautifully handled central romance, this isn't quite as lively as some other films of Pang, though.

Die Feuerprobe - Novemberpogrom 1938

It feels wrong to check a heart for this film. But it would feel even more wrong not to, as this is one of the most important documentaries about violent antisemitism in Nazi Germany - from the Reichskristallnacht to Ausschwitz. As an interview film giving voice almost exclusively to jewish survivirs, it would also make an interesting companion piece to Lanzmann's SHOAH. Even the rather conventional "talking heads"-format serves the film well. It might even be argued that it exemplifies an ethical stance: providing a frame where there was none.

Mistress America

Not as smart as LISTEN UP PHILIP and not nearly as generous as DAMSELS IN DISTRESS... but it has a highly enjoyable flow all of its own, especially in the Greenwich sequence, which frames the interaction of space and an ensemble cast in ways recent (=post 60s) comedies almost never do. Baumbach also uses Gerwig's considerable talent much better than in FRANCES HA. Here she can't run wild into narcissist boredom, but is both confined in and guided by a (at least mostly) clever take on the remarriage comedy, with her basically playing both Tracy and Hepburn. The music is good, too.

Black Mass

I understand why this one leaves most people cold. But I enjoyed both Depp's honest-to-goodness showmanship and the way it didn't connect at all with its various petit bourgeois trappings.

We Live in Two Worlds

I don't think I've ever encountered a better, more nuanced case for technological utopianism as a democratic force. The GPO documentary method at its dialectically strongest.

John Atkins Saves Up

An erotic fixation traced through three different media and two different girls might not even be the strangest thing about this weird, wonderful short.

Granton Trawler

Sensory ethnography 80 years before LEVIATHAN. And with a much better grasp on human agency, too.

Le dernier tournant

If not the best James M. Cain adaptation (though it may just be that, too), then at least the most termite.


Cinema crosses its own limit but fails to realize it. Instead it marches on. On and on.

Coeur de lilas

When you want to play "robbers and gendarms", some guys just have to play the gendarms. And so the trouble - or, in this case, a naughty, free-flowing masterpiece of the kind only early sound cinema could produce - starts.

Hell Is for Heroes

The most terrifying last 30 seconds in all cinema.

Magic Mike XXL

Turns out, without his signature smug cynicism, Soderbergh's cinema is even less interesting. (I can picture a pitch for this: "Let's do another film about male strippers and dry humping. But all in good taste, this time. I'm sure, there's an allegory for America in there too, somewhere. And here's an idea: Sitting around the campfire the boys could talk about all the blue-collar work they're usually doing... when they're not out on some phony wish-fullfilling-fantasy mission, that is.")

Model Shop

i just need to move to los angeles. now.

The War for Men's Minds

WW2 not just as an anti-Hitler intervention, but as a global fight for liberation. Very free form, very left wing, very moving. One of the most amazing propaganda films of its time.

Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant

Not one of my favourite Fassbinders, to say the least. The heart belongs solely to Carstensen's face. Ok, maybe to Schygulla's laugh, too.


Maybe the strongest film of his first "space as theater" phase.


If vulgar auteurism will ever move beyond fetishisation of craft, Schumacher is ripe for discovery. The flashbacks of Kidman's seduction alone make this one a small, chaotic masterpiece.

Wu Dang

Whatever happened to Patrick Leung? (Not a rhetorical question, as I haven't seen any of his films between TASK FORCE and this)


70mm, Delphi.
Never thought I'd watch any Nolan film three times. Well, emulsion made me do it. And it IS, after all, Hans Zimmer's masterpiece.

High Kickers

Bare bones low budget Martial Arts film set almost exclusively in near empty training rooms. On first sight completely unoriginal - and even the fight scenes aren't exciting at all. But still... when seen as a study of Eva Huang's face, this is very beautiful. To me all its would-be weaknesses were transformed into somber, reluctant strenghts.

From Vegas to Macau

Wong Jing's films have become beyond ugly since he went digital, but still, I can't help cheering for his frenetic anachronisms.

Children of Nagasaki

prime example of a film that just shouldn't have been made... and also: prime example of a film that doesn't benefit, but suffers from the undisputable competence of its director.

The Eternal Rainbow

Would make a wonderful / strange double feature with King Vidor's AN AMERICAN ROMANCE.

Something's Got to Give

probably shouldn't have watched this - every single frame can't help but being entrenched in death, for me this results in a very uncomfortable sort of intimacy. and it isn't even particularly good, especially given the talent involved. marilyn monroe has a nice reaction shot, though, when one of the boys jumps into the pool.

Taken 3

"You guys need better coordination." - "What do you mean? Colour coordination?"

She's Funny That Way

just another example of what's wrong with movies these days: birdman getting raves while this one's hardly getting noticed... kathryn hahn is a goddess.


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