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2022

幸せな時間の先に Beyond Happy Hour (2018)

ドーターズ Daughters (2020)

Still from Daughters

國產凌凌漆 From Beijing with Love (1994)

Still from From Beijing with Love

How to Be Alone 2019

Still from How to Be Alone

It Follows 2014

Rewatched as part of a horror film club.

Being freed of the suspense meant I could focus my attention elsewhere, such as on the constant camera movement.

Still from It Follows

ハッピーアワー Happy Hour (2015)

Watched in two sittings.

Didn’t quite work for me in the way Hamaguchi’s later films did, and I eventually slipped into using it as Japanese comprehension exercise. I can understand wanting to establish parallels between characters’ narratives, but with this runtime, it risks feeling like repetition rather than reflection.

I know this was part of an improv workshop with non-professionals, but a couple of these performances were so good it’s a shame they’ve got no other credits.

Still from Happy Hour

Love & Friendship 2016

Still from Love & Friendship

Psych 2: Lassie Come Home 2020

Still from Psych 2: Lassie Come Home

రౌద్రం రణం రుధిరం RRR (2022)

How should one watch propaganda? I think a lot about my limits when watching non-US cinema, and this movie tests my ignorance. It’s intoxicating in that a battle of independence from the British Empire sets up an easy underdog story. But what national mythmaking is occurring on the other side? The theater can hoot and holler when blood splatters on the slogan “the sun never sets on the British Empire”, but how should it respond to the omission of Muslim contributors to independence in the credits sequence?

Still from RRR

Crimes of the Future 2022

Despite its implications, only Kristen Stewart’s character seems to truly believe that “surgery is the new sex”. The movie itself certainly doesn’t. The lingering gaze on exclusively female naked bodies tells us “the old sex” still rules. Give me more of Stewart’s labored breathing and she pushes in an endoscope.

Despite that, I enjoyed this as a well done world building exercise.

Still from Crimes of the Future

Fire Island 2022

This movie loses easily the best part of Pride & Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet. Noah lacks the traits that made that character compelling. One example of many where contorting to fit the shape of the book harms the story (e.g. Dex’s alleged original offense).

If anything, Noah is far more of an Emma Whitehouse than Lizzy: a meddler, conceited not about his own (certain) attractiveness, but his cleverness.

It also doesn’t help that the movie feels excessively in dialogue with social media trends of today. One could hear the hash tag slip through characters’ lips before each online platitude.

Still from Fire Island

幕末太陽傳 A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era (1957)

So much of this movie would have been lost on me without 2020’s Artist of the Year. I feel lucky to have accumulated just enough historical cultural cognizance to see that there’s something under the surface of the comedy, even if I can’t grasp it the same way its original audience may have.

Still from A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era

But I'm a Cheerleader 2000

Still from But I'm a Cheerleader

Saving Face 2004

There’s one line, something to the effect of “what the fuck do you care what kind of dance I do?”, that’s stuck with me. There was something about the delivery of the line that crossed a threshold of believability I didn’t know was there. I was startled out of watching the movie and into seeing the conversation.

Still from Saving Face

Romeo + Juliet 1996

Doesn’t necessarily live up to the first 10 minutes, but those 10 minutes are really excellent. In particular that nightly news framing device. Maybe I just don’t like the play.

Still from Romeo + Juliet

着信アリ One Missed Call (2003)

Still from One Missed Call

Marie Antoinette 2006

Still from Marie Antoinette

The Rental 2020

Still from The Rental

Sally's Beauty Spot 1990

Pride & Prejudice 2005

Curious how this feels to people who didn’t read the book, as I find it moves through plot points with great speed. I didn’t mind, as I’m familiar with them, and it let the film focus on those it cared more about (without dropping important arcs).

Above all, the expressionistic details are what make me love this. The moment of isolation in the crowded ball. The muffled embarassing conversations of family. A sudden downpour upon learning an unfortunate truth. Day passing into night in a long glance at a mirror. The rapid passing of uneventful seasons on a swing.

Still from Pride & Prejudice

Mission: Impossible 1996

Still from Mission: Impossible

Barrier Device 2002

Bull Durham 1988

Watched with commentary by Ron Shelton.

Was gratified to hear the writer describe Crash’s “belief” monologue as an indulgence, given my feelings about the character.

Enjoyable for all the in-retrospect nitpicking, and the reflections on baseball, both as observer and player.

Still from Bull Durham

Bride & Prejudice 2004

Situating Darcy’s pride in the distinction between America and India is an interesting approach, but this doesn’t pull it off. His weird judgements just get forgotten without ever being resolved directly.

Lalita’s particular flavor of outspokenness is a great rendition of Lizzie in a modern context. Freed of most period propriety, she gets to deliver great barbs about “India without Indians” and America after 60 years “killing eachother over slavery”. The character implied by those lines isn’t the one on the screen, though.

Still from Bride & Prejudice

Bull Durham 1988

Periodically overwritten dialogue, especially from Crash and Annie.

The wide angle lenses on the field are such a pleasure, especially when paired with Crash’s internal and external monologues during that first at bat.

I also appreciate the mixture of idealism and realism of baseball. It’s religion, and it’s also a job.

Still from Bull Durham

Mississippi Masala 1991

Still from Mississippi Masala

Malignant 2021

Still from Malignant

Bridget Jones's Diary 2001

Still from Bridget Jones's Diary

回路 Pulse (2001)

Part of a two-day double feature with We’re All Going To The World’s Fair

Still from Pulse

We're All Going to the World's Fair 2022

Part of a two-day double feature with Pulse

Still from We're All Going to the World's Fair

Forever's Gonna Start Tonight 2011

Still from Forever's Gonna Start Tonight

Second Cousins Once Removed 2010

Pride and Prejudice 1995

Perhaps the best example I know of a “videobook”. While there are some bits removed, and others added, this is basically a book-on-screen. The book is also low of physical action, so being visible on screen largely means embodying the narration in setting, but all action in the book is dialogue, which translates directly into a series of close-ups.

Still from Pride and Prejudice

万引き家族 Shoplifters (2018)

In a movie where everyone hides select details of themselves, there are a few moments where characters speak under their breath, only to themselves. The only instance where we can be certain of their true feelings. The grandma at the beach, Nobuyo in prison, Shota on the bus. I want to watch again and make special note.

Still from Shoplifters

Everything Everywhere All at Once 2022

The second time around, the juvenile humor (see: buttplug fight) didn’t irritate me as much, but neither did the earnest parts I really enjoyed feel as good. Much of the power, for good or ill, seems to derive from surprise, which is perhaps reasonable in a movie with such dramatic tonal swings.

But now it seems that its only real bright spot is the metatextual aspect.

Still from Everything Everywhere All at Once

Pride and Prejudice 1940

2/3rds of a good movie. After that point, the movie excises, collapses, and rewrites a lot of plot points that ultimately harm the overall story. Lizzy falls in love for basically no reason, Darcy learns nothing. Rejecting faithfulness is fine so long as you actually improve something other than runtime.

Mary benefits quite a bit from being on the screen. We see/hear her remarkably little in the text. Being on the screen lets us indulge in the way she is where narration falls short.

Still from Pride and Prejudice

Everything Everywhere All at Once 2022

The most compelling story here is the metatextual one of Ke Huy Quan. We live in the universe where he basically doesn’t get work in the US after The Goonies. As an adult, he could have moved into action movies, or spy thrillers, or comedies, or became America’s own Tony Leung, brooding in rain-slicked alleys. We don’t live in that universe, though. This movie instead lets us verse-jump for a couple hours and imagine a world where all of those did in fact happen. And perhaps this movie is just unexpected enough to slingshot our universe closer to that one, and continue from where he might have left off.

Still from Everything Everywhere All at Once

Johnny Mnemonic 1995

Would have been good to see this last year, the year it’s set.

This film was panned in 1995, but I think there’s something excellent to be found here today (if not then as well). Our memories are being transformed by our devices. While our phones might not be shoehorned into our skull, they’re still an augmentation, often closer to us physically that any other possesion.

Additionally, in this world, despite the presence of the internet, it’s fax, radio, and VHS that liberate people. Technologies that aren’t captured by platforms in the same way today as the internet.

Still from Johnny Mnemonic

Division Avenue 2015

寝ても覚めても Asako I & II (2018)

Still from Asako I & II

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 2022

Still from Sonic the Hedgehog 2

蜘蛛巣城 Throne of Blood (1957)

Still from Throne of Blood

Memoria 2021

Still from Memoria

An Exercise in Discipline: Peel 1983

Still from An Exercise in Discipline: Peel

七人の侍 Seven Samurai (1954)

Rewatched with commentary by Stephen Prince, David Desser, Tony Rayns, and Donald Richie, and Joan Mellen

Still from Seven Samurai

Faya Dayi 2021

What an excellent last shot. I have a thing for closing movies with night time shots beside busses.

Loved it as a collection of beautiful photography. I generally like movies that uncomfortably straddle documentary and fiction, but here there wasn’t enough narrative to activate that same interest.

Still from Faya Dayi

The Piano 1993

Ada is guided back to her piano and the beach and starts to play. Within the first few notes, I recognized the song, and was disappointed they’d picked such a famous one. But as the scene went on I struggled to recount where I’d heard it before. By scene’s end, I realized it wasn’t famous, or at least, not at the time. I knew this song from the soundtrack, which must have been in regular rotation at home growing up. I would have been 5 or 6. I don’t recall much from that period, but I know this song.

Filled with wonderful moments. Don’t necessarily make a wonderful whole though.

Still from The Piano

The Power of the Dog 2021

Still from The Power of the Dog

Essais cinématographiques 1928

七人の侍 Seven Samurai (1954)

Watched in 35mm, largely for the first time.

It was hard to not think of all superlatives going in. I found the battle scenes to drag on a bit.

I was struck by how well, and thoughtfully, composed so many of the frames are, especially with vertical compositions. Startling, particularly because in a period where everything seems to be shot in scope by default there isn’t much opportunity for nice vertical compositions. The shot of the graves, in particular, really benefits from the narrower frame.

Still from Seven Samurai

Minoes Miss Minoes (2001)

Still from Miss Minoes

Emma. 2020

Rewatched with commentary by Autumn de Wille, Eleanor Catton, and Christopher Blauvelt

Also rewatched at home on my own TV, rather than my parents’. This helped me appreciate all the lovely textural detail in the costumes and settings much more.

Still from Emma.

白日焰火 Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

Still from Black Coal, Thin Ice

Emma. 2020

Emma as vibes. It’s remarkable how little dialogue is preserved in this version, resulting in relationships that I don’t quite buy. In fact, this entirely drops the Emma-Frank dynamic.

Watching the deleted scenes, there are a number of dialogue heavy scenes that were shot, but ultimately left out. This places a greater emphasis on physical acting (Joy in particular is great at expressing irritation in her face and hands), but leaves much of the plot unmotivated.

Gorgeous textiles everywhere. They cut out Mr Woodhouse’s best line (the shawl).

Still from Emma.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984

Still from A Nightmare on Elm Street

The Batman 2022

Loved the weight of his boots, the sodium orange glow of lamps at night, and the shallow depth of field when he’s in detective mode.

Hindered by the Riddler’s turn from targeted violence to mass violence, which undercuts a lot of the potential impact of “I thought we were on the same side”. Prior to that, there was a nice spectrum of villainy (that Batman was himself on). Afterward, we didn’t need any heroic gestures to prove that Batman was different.

Still from The Batman

Death on the Nile 2022

Still from Death on the Nile

Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940 1940

Emma 2009

Emma is insufficiently unpleasant here. While reading the novel, I complained to anyone who would listen of how terrible Emma Woodhouse was. This isn’t that same person.

The 4 hours is used to mixed results. It makes the development of the relationships feel more genuine, where in the shorter adaptations they’re unbelievable. But this runtime is padded with new material that doesn’t need to be there (such as Mr. Martin discussing “expansion” plans with Mr. Knightley). The audience need not witness everything.

Mr. Woodhouse is too serious.

Still from Emma

Bloodsport 1988

Still from Bloodsport

At the Video Store 2019

Friends Like That 2020

Still from Friends Like That

Journey to the East 2021

CODA 2021

Still from CODA

Emma 1996

Strikes me as overtly interested in faithfulness. To the period, which is perhaps the only reason to make Kate Beckinsale wear such an ugly hat. And to the material, with its being largely a vehicle for dialogue. It doesn’t do much with its visual elements other than perform faithfulness to the period, though some of that may be the made-for-TV scale/budget.

I appreciated the very explicitly funny Mr. Woodhouse, and how this version succeeds in making visible the staff who support the characters’ lifestyles (most notably in the scene of the dropped lounge chair).

Still from Emma

Clueless 1995

Enertaining for those who don’t know it’s based on Emma (as was the case for my first time watching), but even stronger for those that have. The Mrs. Elton analogue doesn’t get much time here as Mrs. Elton, but knowing her eventual fate makes all her scenes funnier.

Most of all, I like how playful the movie is about the prestige of literary reference: “tis a far far better thing doing stuff for other people”

Still from Clueless

不散 Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003)

It just feels right to have watched this in a theater.

RIP Castro Theater, Embarcadero Theater, 4 Star, SF MOMA, UA Stonestown, & California Theatre

Still from Goodbye, Dragon Inn

Emma 1996

This has grown on me as I’ve watched more adaptations since. The middle part has some excellent editing. Both cutting as ellipsis to show the passage of time, in a way that would be a challenge in written form, as well as cutting for humor, to give us greater access to Emma’s interior thoughts without relying directly on voice over.

Still from Emma

Jia Zhangke, Um Homem de Fenyang Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang (2014)

Scream 2022

Still from Scream

Watermelon Man 1970

Still from Watermelon Man

Sunlight 1957

家有囍事 All's Well, Ends Well (1992)

Still from All's Well, Ends Well

[REC] 2007

Still from [REC]

The Night of the Hunter 1955

Still from The Night of the Hunter

Il était une fois… Mustang Once Upon a Time... MUSTANG (2018)

Mustang 2015

Still from Mustang

野马分鬃 Striding Into the Wind (2021)

When I bought my ticket, the woman at the box office looked at me skeptically, and asked if I understood it was a Chinese movie. I’m incredibly thankful to live somewhere where I have the chance to see stuff like this screened.

Still from Striding Into the Wind

Les escargots The Snails (1966)

Still from The Snails

La Planète sauvage Fantastic Planet (1973)

Still from Fantastic Planet

สาวคาราโอเกะ Karaoke Girl (2013)

Still from Karaoke Girl

竜とそばかすの姫 Belle (2021)

Still from Belle

Licorice Pizza 2021

Still from Licorice Pizza

The Tragedy of Macbeth 2021

While I loved how it looked, and some of the performances, it wasn’t clear to me that this really took advantage of being a movie.

Still from The Tragedy of Macbeth

Spider-Man: No Way Home 2021

Still from Spider-Man: No Way Home

Creep 2014

Still from Creep

Hai Phượng Furie (2019)

Still from Furie