stvs.tv/movie-diary/

2021

Movies are listed in watch order

Dawson City: Frozen Time 2017

Still from Dawson City: Frozen Time

City of Gold 1957

This short doc was mentioned in Dawson City: Frozen Time. It was nice to see more time dedicated to Hegg’s photos.

Still from City of Gold

鐵漢柔情 The Young Dragons (1975)

Still from The Young Dragons

獨臂刀 The One-Armed Swordsman (1967)

Still from The One-Armed Swordsman

Passenger 57 1992

Still from Passenger 57

L'Année dernière à Marienbad Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Still from Last Year at Marienbad

女子跆拳群英會 The Dragon Tamers (1975)

Watched with pretty janky subtitles. Rarely incomprehensible, one could always feels the texture of Mandarin grammar beneath the English words. When so much of modern media is made easy to access, there was something nostalgic and exhilirating about watching something endearingly bootlegged.

Still from The Dragon Tamers

Barbarella 1968

Still from Barbarella

合氣道 Hapkido (1972)

Still from Hapkido

Streetwise 1984

Still from Streetwise

モリのいる場所 Mori, The Artist's Habitat (2018)

Still from Mori, The Artist's Habitat

The Chicken 2020

ハッシュ! Hush! (2001)

There’s a scene where a character ignores, and then gently apologizes to his partner for not listening. I can’t easily recall a film that displays the routine frictions between partners like this. It lends a genuine foundation to their relationship that so many on-screen romances lack.

Still from Hush!

Mamma Mia! 2008

Still from Mamma Mia!

たそがれ清兵衛 The Twilight Samurai (2002)

Still from The Twilight Samurai

ジョゼと虎と魚たち Josee, the Tiger and the Fish (2003)

Still from Josee, the Tiger and the Fish

バーバー吉野 Yoshino's Barber Shop (2004)

Still from Yoshino's Barber Shop

アカルイミライ Bright Future (2003)

Still from Bright Future

Cinderella 1997

Still from Cinderella

ゆれる Sway (2006)

Still from Sway

さくらん Sakuran (2006)

Still from Sakuran

エッシャー通りの赤いポスト Red Post on Escher Street (2020)

It was nice returning to Sono’s work after a year long break.

While this is getting a lot of comparisons to Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, I think the more interesting comparison is to Bad Film. In 2012, when it was finally released, it already represented the same gesture to a past film-making life that the character Kobayashi is seeking. The final minutes of this, too, echo the activities of Tokyo GAGAGA, the anarchist art collective Sono belonged to who served as Bad Film’s cast.

Still from Red Post on Escher Street

告白 Confessions (2010)

Still from Confessions

百万円と苦虫女 One Million Yen Girl (2008)

Still from One Million Yen Girl

空気人形 Air Doll (2009)

Still from Air Doll

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai 1999

My father and I watched this a long while ago, closer to its release. Rewatched again with my father, partly in celebration of my parents getting their COVID vaccine.

Still from Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

2つ目の窓 Still the Water (2014)

Still from Still the Water

鈴木家の嘘 Lying to Mom (2018)

Still from Lying to Mom

帝女花 Princess Chang-Ping (1976)

Still from Princess Chang-Ping

The Lost Okoroshi 2019

I missed this at TIFF in 2019, so was glad to see Netflix had picked it up.

Still from The Lost Okoroshi

Riot in Cell Block 11 1954

Still from Riot in Cell Block 11

Riot in Cell Block 11 1954

Rewatched with commentary by Matthew H. Bernstein

Still from Riot in Cell Block 11

La nuit des rois Night of the Kings (2021)

Still from Night of the Kings

조용한 가족 The Quiet Family (1998)

Still from The Quiet Family

친절한 금자씨 Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)

Still from Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

少林門 Hand of Death (1976)

Still from Hand of Death

반칙왕 The Foul King (2000)

Still from The Foul King

報仇 Vengeance! (1970)

This isn’t a martial arts movie, it’s a stabbing movie. The fight scenes are scrappy and scummy in a way that feels at least a decade ahead of its time, if not more.

Still from Vengeance!

阮玲玉 Center Stage (1991)

Still from Center Stage

Music Palace 2005

Galaxy Quest 1999

Still from Galaxy Quest

Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary 2019

Still from Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary

獨臂刀王 Return of the One-Armed Swordsman (1969)

Still from Return of the One-Armed Swordsman

馬永貞 The Boxer from Shantung (1972)

Still from The Boxer from Shantung

National Treasure 2004

Still from National Treasure

Old Joy 2007

Still from Old Joy

Der fliegende Koffer The Flying Koffer (1921)

Still from The Flying Koffer

Bamboozled 2000

The pre-credits montage is one of the most affecting few minutes of a film I’ve seen. Even without the preceding two hours, it’s a hell of an indictment of (then) 100 years of film history. With it, it’s also an empathetic remembrance of the black performers and talents featured in it.

I’d rather play a maid […] than be a maid
— Hattie McDaniel
Still from Bamboozled

Bamboozled 2000

Rewatched with commentary by Spike Lee

Still from Bamboozled

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears 2020

Still from Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears

豪俠 Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979)

Still from Last Hurrah for Chivalry

Shutter Island 2010

Still from Shutter Island

空山靈雨 Raining in the Mountain (1979)

Still from Raining in the Mountain

Wendy and Lucy 2008

Still from Wendy and Lucy

来访 Visit (2020)

Still from Visit

錢作怪 From Riches to Rags (1980)

Has exactly two good jokes in it, and they’re subtle enough that they might not have even been intentional.

Still from From Riches to Rags

Space Is the Place 1974

Still from Space Is the Place

重慶森林 Chungking Express (1994)

2008 Criterion version

Still from Chungking Express

Salt of the Earth 1954

Still from Salt of the Earth

重慶森林 Chungking Express (1994)

Rewatched with commentary by Tony Rayns, which I don’t recommend

Still from Chungking Express

Sound of Metal 2020

Rewatched for a film club

Still from Sound of Metal

Sergeant Rutledge 1960

Still from Sergeant Rutledge

摩登天師 To Hell with the Devil (1982)

Still from To Hell with the Devil

This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection 2019

Still from This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection

Minari 2020

Still from Minari

Rush Hour 1998

Still from Rush Hour

Curve 2016

Still from Curve

575 Castro St. 2009

Still from 575 Castro St.

八彩林亞珍 Plain Jane to the Rescue (1982)

The slapstick stuff doesn’t do much for me, but there’s a comedy of desperation throughout that’s biting and quite good. The tunnel scene alone, of people recognizing their power having stopped the machine of the city, and extracting mahjongg/pop concerts/free tunnel tolls for life is a particularly fun power fantasy to see on screen.

Still from Plain Jane to the Rescue

The Wild Bunch 1969

Rewatched for the first time as an adult; this time through the lens of John Woo.

Was disappointed with the handling of codes and principles. There’s clearly tension around duty, obligation, and betrayal, but the main characters have a non-self-aware inconsistency in their application of those principles that it’s hard to take the transformation at the end seriously.

The editing in the action sequences is stunning, rapidly stiching together multiple parallel sequences of simultaneous action. Best exemplified by the onset and conclusion of multiple gun fights in the time it takes a body to fall from a roof.

Still from The Wild Bunch

Girls on Film 2006

To the Happy Few 2003

Releasing Human Energies 2012

Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore 1998

Still from Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore

In Nomine Patris 2019

The Thing 1982

Still from The Thing

菊とギロチン The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine (2018)

Still from The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine

Meek's Cutoff 2010

Still from Meek's Cutoff

Death Proof 2007

Still from Death Proof

April 2020 Paris 2020

海上浮城 Dead Pigs (2018)

Still from Dead Pigs

英雄無淚 Heroes Shed No Tears (1986)

Still from Heroes Shed No Tears

The Story of a Three-Day Pass 1968

I hadn’t been to a theater in 14 months. Exiting the Roxie was such a time warp that I was halfway home before I realized I was walking to the apartment I’d moved out of a year ago.

As for the movie, it was exciting seeing the likely inspiration for Spike Lee’s double dolly shot.

Still from The Story of a Three-Day Pass

Blood Simple 1984

Still from Blood Simple

The Last Angel of History 1996

Still from The Last Angel of History

三枪拍案惊奇 A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (2009)

A reimagining of Blood Simple.

The closing shot captures my problems with this. Adherence to individual shots and scenes, but deviating in so much of the connective tissue that it’s lost all thematic coherence.

Still from A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

リンダ リンダ リンダ Linda Linda Linda (2005)

Still from Linda Linda Linda

극장전 Tale of Cinema (2005)

Still from Tale of Cinema

Fairy Tales 2015

英雄本色 A Better Tomorrow (1986)

A startling stylistic leap from Heroes Shed No Tears. I expected to see a more gradual discovery of style.

Still from A Better Tomorrow

Dawn of the Dead 1978

Watched for a horror film club. “Complete” cut.

I’d heard a fair amount about the critique of consumerism in the film, but that didn’t really land. Instead, especially after the intervening 40+ years of disaster and post-apocalyptic media, I saw a lot in here about the seductive narrative of the apocalypse. The group is never really happier than when they’re striving for their basic needs. Never unhappier than when those needs are met and the hard work of living resumes.

Still from Dawn of the Dead

News from Home 1977

Watched on what would have been Akerman’s 71st birthday. I’d read so much about it in reference to Jenni Olson’s work, but found it significantly different, especially in the portrayal of motion. Basically every shot in the subway was breathtaking.

Still from News from Home

Soul 2020

Watched for a film club

Still from Soul

The Fall 2019

Still from The Fall

The Crazies 1973

Still from The Crazies

I ran from it and was still in it 2021

ゆきゆきて、神軍 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1987)

Still from The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

No Maps on My Taps 1979

Still from No Maps on My Taps

野火 Fires on the Plain (1959)

Still from Fires on the Plain

皇家師姐 Yes, Madam! (1985)

Still from Yes, Madam!

野火 Fires on the Plain (2014)

Interesting in its contrast to the 1959 version. The more subjective camera here ends up lessening the impact of a number of significant moments, such as the strafing scene.

Tony Rayns described the 1959 version as free of ideology, which is nonsense. Rather, it used an objective, austere, clean image to precisely depict the debasement of humanity in war. This version loses that with its change in visual language.

Still from Fires on the Plain

Censor 2021

Still from Censor

Perfect Fifths 2020

英雄本色2 A Better Tomorrow II (1987)

Still from A Better Tomorrow II

The Doom Generation 1995

Watched in 35mm from someone’s personal collection. Shown at the Balboa Theater.

Still from The Doom Generation

Subject to Review 2019

Still from Subject to Review

Ping-Pong 1974

Mr. Yellow Sweatshirt 2017

Mating Games 2017

Multiple Maniacs 1970

Still from Multiple Maniacs

Independence Day 1996

Still from Independence Day

Lake Mungo 2009

The first movie that scared me in years.

The cinematographer shared some fun details about the film.

Still from Lake Mungo

Lick the Star 1998

Preshow short before The Virgin Suicides.

Still from Lick the Star

The Virgin Suicides 1999

Still from The Virgin Suicides

音楽 On-Gaku: Our Sound (2020)

Rewatched in theaters to better spend some time with it as pure showcase of animation. Glad I saw The Tale of Princess Kaguya first, since the running away scene might have hit a little less hard if I’d seen the same kind of technique (used less powerfully) here.

Still from On-Gaku: Our Sound

The Ox-Bow Incident 1943

Still from The Ox-Bow Incident

五毒 The Five Venoms (1978)

Still from The Five Venoms

この空の花 長岡花火物語 Casting Blossoms to the Sky (2012)

Obayashi’s didactic approach works well for me, as does his situating of the fiction as a thread through multiple specific moments of history. The blurring of those boundaries, as when an actress’s photo is placed inside a real war memorial, can be discomforting in moments, but I have enough faith in Obayashi’s compassion for these people’s stories to tell them faithfully.

The video quality of the Japan Society stream tanked when trying to compress the play scenes, reminding me of what we’ve lost with today’s streaming technology.

Still from Casting Blossoms to the Sky

Les Sorcières de l’Orient The Witches of the Orient (2021)

Still from The Witches of the Orient

魔女の宅急便 Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

Still from Kiki's Delivery Service

喋血雙雄 The Killer (1989)

Still from The Killer

It's Such a Beautiful Day 2012

Didn’t finish. I tried three times, but I couldn’t get through it. Whatever poignancy exists at the end, which I’ve read plenty about, couldn’t motivate me enough to plod through the early-2000s-internet-esque mean spirited & non sequitur laden humor that’s layered on top of everything.

Still from It's Such a Beautiful Day

Frogs 1972

Still from Frogs

Les Diaboliques Diabolique (1955)

Watched as part of a horror film club

Still from Diabolique

TOKYO! Tokyo! (2008)

Could have done without Carax’s segment. Rewatched Gondry’s segment multiple times because it was that good.

あたしがあたしの好きな事をやって自分の存在を定義できるじゃないの?

I actually loved Hiroko’s stance on ambition vs hobby, and the ending reads as a different kind of tragedy to me than what was intended.

Still from Tokyo!

Kamome 2020

野のなななのか Seven Weeks (2014)

Still from Seven Weeks

夜は短し歩けよ乙女 Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (2017)

Rewatched as part of a film club.

Kind of fortuitous to watch it so soon after Seven Weeks, given both films’ fixation on the manifestation of connections betwen people, and the power of personal histories embedded in used books.

Still from Night Is Short, Walk On Girl

Lu tempu di li pisci spata The Age of Swordfish (1955)

Still from The Age of Swordfish

花筐 Hanagatami (2017)

Still from Hanagatami

The Green Knight 2021

Still from The Green Knight

CatCam 2012

Hella Trees 2020

Friday the 13th 1980

Watched as part of a horror film club

Still from Friday the 13th

龍虎風雲 City on Fire (1987)

Still from City on Fire

Old 2021

Still from Old

Unfriended 2015

Watched as a companion to Jordan Schonig’s lectures on new media theory.

Freshman year of high school, a friend showed me a video he’d downloaded of a man being beheaded. The audio was distorted. The visuals small and muddy. I wouldn’t say I saw anything, but that was certainly a human’s last moments.

Gore captured in that degraded digital aesthetic will probably always register as real to me.

Still from Unfriended

義膽群英 Just Heroes (1989)

Having characters in your film talk about being fans of the movie you made 3 years ago is a bold move.

Still from Just Heroes

June 4, 2020 2021

いとみち Ito (2021)

Still from Ito

全員切腹 Go Seppuku Yourselves (2021)

Perpetual Spawning 2018

ヒルコ/妖怪ハンター Hiruko the Goblin (1991)

The action felt stuck in the past perfect. A tool had been invented. A discovery had been made. A child had been killed. We rarely witness events, instead just seeing their consequences. Presumably there’s something interesting happening just off screen.

Still from Hiruko the Goblin

夢みるように眠りたい To Sleep So as to Dream (1986)

Still from To Sleep So as to Dream

School Radio to Major Tom 2021

Still from School Radio to Major Tom

二重のまち/交代地のうたを編む Double Layered Town / Making a Song to Replace Our Positions (2021)

I was first introduced to Rikuzentakata in Kamome when NBC aired it during the Olympics. While that story had a great hook, hearing directly from the survivors in this felt far more pressing.

Relatedly, the documentary explores the limits of telling a story on behalf of another, and the way that our retellings (or our recollections) of stories are malleable. The intertwined fiction gestures towards the idea that fiction can accurately convey the emotional truth of a story in a way that conveying a comprehensive factual truth might be infeasible.

サマーフィルムにのって It's a Summer Film! (2021)

Still from It's a Summer Film!

Reflective Notes (Reconfiguration) 2021

Manhatta 1921

An idea I’ve been thinking about for a while is the notion that while we may think of places “in the wide”, our experience of them, by virtue of scale, is wholly dominated by details, and the best avenue for evoking a location is not in a wide shot that captures, say, the whole skyline, but by an assemblage of specific views that in sum capture that place’s essence (potentially without even containing its landmarks).

All that to say, this resonated in a similar way as The Joy of Life.

Still from Manhatta

Candyman 2021

Works best as a story of an artist summoning a spirit to enact vengeance upon a vicious art world. It never actually tells that story, but one can squint and see it for a brief moment.

Still from Candyman

ZONA 2021

彼女来来 Mari and Mari (2021)

Still from Mari and Mari

Thief 1981

Saw it on 35mm. Thought throughout: “this is really blue”. Got home and stumbled upon the hubbub around restoration broadly and the allegedly revisionist coloring of the latest release. I guess they’re wrong?

Still from Thief

ロビンソンの庭 Robinson's Garden (1987)

Still from Robinson's Garden

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls 1970

Still from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

スパイの妻 Wife of a Spy (2020)

Still from Wife of a Spy

ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:破 Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (2009)

There’s an noteworthy transmedia trick going on here. This movie is quite light on characterization, possibly due to the assumption that the TV show has already done the work of defining the characters, and the Rebuild movies can just focus on what’s distinct. Similar to the way Marvel movies can avoid introducing characters/stories because the viewer is assumed to already know, or to imbue it with prestige for dedicated fans who seek it out.

Still from Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance

ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:Q Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (2012)

Still from Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo

シン・エヴァンゲリオン劇場版:|| Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (2021)

On a literal narrative level, this whole series is Kabbalistic word salad and is not really deserving of deep inspection. Where the series is special is its revisions, and how the differences between them help triangulate Anno’s mental and emotional state during their creation. It gives us the opportunity to hold some things constant, to permit a glance into his heart in a way lots of singular pieces of art can’t.

Still from Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time

The Card Counter 2021

Still from The Card Counter

Blue Velvet 1986

Still from Blue Velvet

Blue Collar 1978

Still from Blue Collar

1968 < 2018 > 2068 2018

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021

Black Panther had years of revision and redefinition to elevate it out of “a white fantasy of blackness”. Shang-chi as a character is much earlier in that journey out of yellow peril exploitation.

Still from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

喋血街頭 Bullet in the Head (1990)

Still from Bullet in the Head

T 2019

Still from T

T 2019

So good I had to watch it a second time. I sometimes get discouraged after watching several middling shorts, wondering if I’ll find something as good as my favorite feature length works. This is does that.

Still from T

花樣年華 In the Mood for Love (2000)

Watched the 2012 Criterion version

Still from In the Mood for Love

花樣的年華 Years Like Flowers (2001)

@In the Mood for Love 2001

How do I watch this movie of Tony and Maggie cooking and dancing?

Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage 2019

Still from Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage

縱橫四海 Once a Thief (1991)

Woo is haunted by A Better Tomorrow’s Mark. Revived, then referred to as a known fictional character, and now found rolling across a kitchen on a skateboard. Mark is too fun of a character to not see his echoes everywhere.

Still from Once a Thief

Never Rarely Sometimes Always 2020

Watched as part of a film club

Still from Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Drop Dead Gorgeous 1999

Still from Drop Dead Gorgeous

Buyer Walker Rover (Yiwu) Aka. There then 2019

Still from Buyer Walker Rover (Yiwu) Aka. There then

重慶森林 Chungking Express (1994)

Watched the 2021 restoration (with the weird credits) in theater.

All I wanted was to hear California Dreamin’ played at too loud a volume. Too bad it was balanced to be reasonable.

Still from Chungking Express

2046 2004

If possible, I pick images for this diary that’re evocative of the movie as a whole. Here, I just really liked the juxtaposition with the Chungking Express frame below, and how it emphasizes the doubling inherent to 2046’s characters.

Still from 2046

牛皮 Oxhide (2005)

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings 1976

Still from The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) 2020

Still from Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Skyfall 2012

Watched this on a plane without sound (lost my headphones) and without closed captioning (the option didn’t work). I’d seen it before, so wasn’t worried about not following the plot. As a purely visual spectacle, it was great, and it’s impressive how rarely the film dips into bland shot reverse shot. There’s almost always something of visual interest happening.

Still from Skyfall

辣手神探 Hard Boiled (1992)

The last Hong Kong film of Woo’s. The tracking shot through two floors’ of hallways is perhaps his best action scene so far. It smartly deemphasizes a key moment of friendly fire in the middle, a casualty of the fog of war.

Still from Hard Boiled

Mystic Pizza 1988

Still from Mystic Pizza

Will 2012

Hard Target 1993

Thematically barren. Not unrelatedly, Woo didn’t write this (nor any of his other US or Canadian films). Late in the film, Henriksen lampshades and asks Van Damme why he meddled since this wasn’t his problem. Good question.

Still from Hard Target

バトル・ロワイアル Battle Royale (2000)

Inspired by having watched a few episodes of Squid Game.

Still from Battle Royale

Forbidden City, U.S.A. 1989

Throughout the pandemic I’d been interested in borrowing from the library the book of the same name by Arthur Dong, but the one copy available was a reference copy only. Glad this popped up on Criterion Channel. There was also some serendipity of this becoming available at the same time as the first volume of The Good Asian, which references the club.

Still from Forbidden City, U.S.A.

Possession 1981

Watched the 2021 4K restoration.

Upsetting and alienating. I didn’t recognize among the principal characters anything that resembled understandable behavior or motivations, in a way that remained enthralling rather than frustrating.

Still from Possession

返校 Detention (2019)

Still from Detention

Dune 2021

Still from Dune

Sewing Woman 1982

Top Spin 2014

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold 1965

Still from The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Hooligan Sparrow 2016

No Time to Die 2021

Still from No Time to Die

Host 2020

Watched as part of the Halloween edition of horror film club

Still from Host

The Fall 2019

Watched as part of the Halloween edition of horror film club

Still from The Fall

Lake Mungo 2009

Watched as part of the Halloween edition of horror film club

Still from Lake Mungo

The Rocky Horror Picture Show 1975

Still from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Broken Arrow 1996

Still from Broken Arrow

Devil in a Blue Dress 1995

Still from Devil in a Blue Dress

Daddy and the Muscle Academy 1991

Deserved a far more critical assessment. Isaac Julien’s contribution on the fetishization of black men shouldn’t have been so clearly abridged, and someone really should have said something about the Nazi stuff.

Still from Daddy and the Muscle Academy

Us 2019

Watched as part of a film club.

Expected to enjoy it more on my second go, when I didn’t have to spend so much time/energy trying to unravel the mystery. Wrong. Without the mystery, everything after the appearance at the house is weak. The scenes before, of a traumatized Adelaide returning the to site of said trauma, is incredible, and I wish that anticipation had been held for more than about 20 minutes.

Still from Us

Caprice 1986

Once a Thief 1996

Not nearly as bad as I expected. That might’ve been because I was less watching the movie, and more watching the space between this and the original. There are some interesting choices (making one of the “siblings” the villain) and some curious (not getting rid of the semi-incestuous romance).

I bought this for $5 since it’s not easy to track down otherwise. It has the saddest bootleg-looking DVD menu I’ve ever seen.

Still from Once a Thief

食神 The God of Cookery (1996)

Watched in Cantonese with Chinese subtitles. I understood a bit of dialogue, I could read a little bit more, but mostly I just relied on already knowing the dialogue.

Still from The God of Cookery

Ford v Ferrari 2019

Confusing morals. Perhaps best captured by Shelby’s “they’ll find new ways to screw you because you’re different”? But is that all there is? Both titular entities are ultimately villains. But one holds our heroes hostage so we cheer for them, I guess.

Still from Ford v Ferrari

Ready or Not 2019

I was excited to see how this depicted violent reactions to status threat, but via a certain reveal at the end, the family’s terrible ritual was shown to be totally rational, deflating much of the critique. That choice also meant the absence of a cathartic triumph.

Still from Ready or Not

Face/Off 1997

Still from Face/Off

Titane 2021

Still from Titane

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 1974

I thought this was a thriller but it’s actually a comedy about a bunch of shitty New Yorkers just trying to run a railroad.

Still from The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Blackjack 1998

Still from Blackjack

Time and Tide 2000

Full of ellipses. Produces a wonderful rhythm.

Still from Time and Tide

The Decline of Western Civilization 1981

Having been involved in Norcal punk/hardcore from the mid-00’s, where stories of what it took to beat up and expel honest-to-god Nazis were still in the air, it was startling the see the volume of swastikas here. And fuck Fear.

Still from The Decline of Western Civilization

Tea and Sympathy 1956

Still from Tea and Sympathy

Point Blank 1967

Still from Point Blank

薔薇の葬列 Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)

Still from Funeral Parade of Roses

Mission: Impossible 1996

Still from Mission: Impossible

Santa Barbara 2020

Mission: Impossible II 2000

Continuing a pattern in Woo’s Hollywood work, the action lives separate from the narrative. It’s only spectacle, filled with the iconography of Woo’s Hong Kong work but little else. A more integrated climactic fight might have spoke to Ambrose as a poor, more impulsive, substitute for Hunt. But instead it’s Hunt who ultimately “gets his gun off” to defeat him. Some nice Bruce Lee homage before that, though.

Cruise does seem to be the best suited actor for Woo that I’ve seen in this stretch.

Still from Mission: Impossible II

Hostage 2002

The whole BMW short series helpfully juxtaposes Woo against contemporary Hollywood filmmakers. This period marks a transition from Intensified Continuity to Chaos Cinema, and Woo’s style is much more continuous and readable. Hostage shares a release year with The Bourne Identity, which is the poster child of this new style.

Ticker 2002

Still from Ticker

Beat the Devil 2002

Windtalkers 2002

Still from Windtalkers

萌の朱雀 Suzaku (1997)

Still from Suzaku

Paycheck 2003

Contrary to what I wrote about Hostage, there is actually a dash of Chaos Cinema in here. But for that, and several other reasons, it never ends up feeling like a Woo film.

Still from Paycheck

ドライブ・マイ・カー Drive My Car (2021)

I am a sucker for narratives within narratives, and the role that Uncle Vanya plays in being a space for the characters to work through their issues is magical. Lines and scenes repeated through the film take on new flavor as the circumstances of their performance changes.

Still from Drive My Car

赤壁 Red Cliff (2008)

Watched as one 5 hour movie.

Thematically right in Woo’s wheelhouse, and it feels good to return to steady ground. The “romance” between Zhuge and Zhou Yu, temporary allies against a foe lacking in principles ties, it to Woo’s Hong Kong work. Having a passing familiarty with the historical event, and the fictional representations, provides the opportunity to see what Woo is adding: melodrama, and men standing far to close to each others’ faces.

Still from Red Cliff

赤壁2:決戰天下 Red Cliff Part II (2009)

Watched as one 5 hour movie.

Still from Red Cliff Part II

Jurassic Park 1993

The CGI is wisely often obscured. Behind rain, glass, poor lighting. Keeping us from getting a good view of the dinosaurs helps them blend into our world so much better, and protects this from looking aged.

Still from Jurassic Park

キュア Cure (1997)

Still from Cure

Last and First Men 2020

I’ve long been a fan of the spomeniks. I do wonder if that familiarity, and association with very human pursuits/events, hinders seeing them as otherworldy, in the way this film wants.

This movie also sufferred badly from compression artifacts on the Metrograph stream.

Still from Last and First Men

White Echo 2019

Still from White Echo

G.F.C. 2012

A City of Children 2012

蛇イチゴ Wild Berries (2003)

Still from Wild Berries

害虫 Harmful Insect (2001)

Still from Harmful Insect

Too Much Cendi 2012

Kids 2012

Trey (Interlude) 2012

B.L.B. 2012

The Dreamer 2012

Indigo's Smile (Interlude) 2012

El Train 2012

Heist 2012

千と千尋の神隠し Spirited Away (2001)

Still from Spirited Away

偶然と想像 Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (2021)

Still from Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

永い言い訳 The Long Excuse (2016)

Still from The Long Excuse

太平轮(上) The Crossing (2014)

Still from The Crossing

The Matrix Resurrections 2021

Still from The Matrix Resurrections

太平轮(下):彼岸 The Crossing II (2015)

Still from The Crossing II

追捕 Manhunt (2017)

Still from Manhunt