Four Weddings and a Funeral 1994
Jáaji Approx. 2015
Hocus Pocus 2 2022
The Age of Innocence 1993
Predator 2 1990
Barry Lyndon 1975
Prince of Darkness 1987
Hocus Pocus 1993
Low Tide: A Newly Restored Work by Thomas Wright 2022
東／West East/West (1989)
Calls to mind After After Babel
Hellbound: Hellraiser II 1988
Concussion Protocol 2018
The Road to Magnasanti 2017
Estonia Dreams of Eurovision! 2002
The direct address is great, a step up from the 2007 adaptation’s meaningless glances. Johnson’s performance is fantastic. It’s just in pursuit of a character with inconsistent and irritating characterization.
There are at least three Annes, with seemingly conflicting dialogue, motivations, and relationships. I wouldn’t mind it if it were service of something. But this doesn’t even have the courtesy to be funny or interesting, despite amping up so many of the bits of already funny scenarios and interactions. As if it might’ve been too subtle, but I can’t hear anything over all this winking.
Anne loses her shit for 90 minutes.
Characterization aside, this makes some poor structural changes. Severing the “constancy” conversation from Wentworth’s letter is inexcusable. Revealing that Wentworth has no interest in Louisa before showing us Anne believing him to be engaged is bizarre.
Hawkins’ looks to the camera are poorly motivated. What am I supposed to feel when they happen? What is the film saying?
Full of lots of weird framing choices. Conversations where the camera, too close, must pan to see who is speaking or being spoken to.
Much more visually interesting than other BBC adaptations. A dolly zoom in a moment of shock. Sudden outbursts of handheld photography after Louisa falls. Humorous cutting when everyone is complaining at her. It works very well to inject some visual interest into an otherwise quite direct adapatation.
I’m surprised by the usage of lines from Austen’s original manuscript. I wasn’t fond of those parts myself, but I appreciate an adaptation that fully engages with all parts of its text.
無間道 Infernal Affairs (2002)
The Lost City 2022
Intriguing use of Yumeji’s Theme, likely drawn from In The Mood For Love, whose partner swap plot is slightly echoed by what we know of the past between Csilla and Mathias.
Ultimately, I didn’t really respond to this. The town hearing scene was brutal and hilarious, but everything else seemed a bit distant from me, in a way I wish I could clear.
Always fond of movies that think about their subtitles. Here, colored by Romanian, Hungarian, or “foreign”.
Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago Leonor Will Never Die (2022)
Adorable and heartwarming. So much of the humor comes from the editing, which being in a shared cinematic language, perhaps helped with the international reception. So too is the language of 80s schlock action a common heritage.
I missed this at CAAM Fest, so was glad to see it here in this setting (a midnight showing) rather than in a museum context. The cast and crew seemed stoked to be there, and that feeling was infectious.
Butcher's Crossing 2022
I’d rather have a feature length exploration of the epilogue than any of the narrative stuffprior, which isn’t even close to being as bleak or brutal as those few images.
Plan 75 2022
I love the casting of Chieko Baisho. I feel her age more than many actresses, because of knowing her from the Tora-san films. Reminiscent of Pulse in its grappling with loneliness, though from a distinct cause.
I didn’t totally understand some of the choices, particularly with Maria’s finding (stealing?) money and Michi’s escape. I really want to watch the short to reassess.
Women Talking 2022
Notes from Q&A: Lots of elements found in the edit. Color scheme. Cropping of men’s faces. Voiceover existence and perspective.
Thinking about adaptation, the splices of ceiling-view shots does a lot to layer visual meaning on top of a ton of (great) dialogue.
2 Lizards 2020
I thought I had an allergy to COVID stories, but it turns out I only had an allergy to COVID allegories.
헤어질 결심 Decision to Leave (2022)
Perhaps not as interesting as it thinks it is? Also succumbs to a pesky affliction of needing to explain everything in minute detail when not needed (namely, the voice memo).
Vanskabte Land Godland (2022)
Iceland as the wild west. I’ll confess I didn’t totally get it, but I certainly responded to it. Some of my absolute favorite visual sequences in recent memory here. “Terrifically beautiful”.
La hija de todas las rabias Daughter of Rage (2022)
I put this movie on my list solely because it was made in Nicaragua, and I’m so glad to have.
Similar to EO in being road-movie-esque, but here the vignettes all feel of a perfect length and I never grew impatient.
Never slips into misery porn (the mercury poisoning easily could have), and juxtaposes the genuine despondency with so much beauty, not dissimilar from the landfill itself slipping into the lake.
브로커 Broker (2022)
Does it produce a feeling or understanding of found family beyond what Koreeda’s other work has? Perhaps not. But what we do get is a demonstration of an artist who’s really skilled at depicting their space doing it well. And maybe that’s enough!
Assembles so many vivid tiny moments that in aggregate evoke a sense of a whole person being projected onto the screen. It’s impressive. Especially the scenes in the ferris wheel.
Rose Gold 2017
Rose Gold 2017
The Wonder 2022
Never really engages with the possibility that this might be a miracle, and is worse for it. We never really doubt that, and how it’s faked isn’t an interesting mystery to solve.
The Brechtian artifice of stories stuff wrapping the film is intriguing, but is the best vehicle for that message? Our lives are a story we tell ourselves, and we can change them, but the central figures here don’t. One changes the other, and throughout we’ve identified with the changer. This produces a skepticism rather than an empowerment, and ends up feeling a bit too cute.
Im Westen nichts Neues All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)
Some very Come And See vibes throughout, but without being nearly as effective at communicating Paul’s inner state.
While watching, I couldn’t help wondering : who’s this movie for? Am I part of the intended audience? I couldn’t help but think the answer is “no”. There’re a lot of additions here about national socialism that seem to be saying something to someone. But what?
Impressive to watch this manage to situate the film from the perspective of a donkey via purely visual means. Particularly color usage and shot-reverse-shot.
I felt the movie drag towards the end, and I wasn’t sure what each successive vignette was adding to the overall experiene. Being a (recent) cat owner may have made this film landed with greater emphasis than it would’ve prior.
Within a few minutes, when Pearl racks up her first kill, it’s clear this won’t be about much other than “she’s crazy!”. This lacks the genre thrills I’d expect from something that knowingly doesn’t have much to say.
Thankfully, this is a kind of fun ride with Mia Goth just doing stuff (a similar formula that led me to liking Venom). I enjoyed hanging out with her, especially with the monologue towards the end.
Mato seco em chamas Dry Ground Burning (2022)
When picking movies for TIFF, I try to optimize for the high “maybe“s. If something is sure to be a big hit, I’ll avoid it here unless I’m seeing it with a big group (e.g. Joker). I go to the things that might need someone to root for them, and with few exceptions (e.g. Joker) I’m almost always rooting for them.
When those movies fall short though, it feels bad. I can happily hate on Joker, but I can’t do the same for this. There’s some excellent night photography near the start. I love blends of narrative fuction and documentary. This just didn’t work. Do I just never mention it? How does one share art that perhaps fails?
The Whale 2022
Setting aside the fact that it felt too play-y for me, the characters never really got to be characters? Ellie is effectively just the character Sink plays in Stranger Things. Thomas has an interesting character trajectory that then craters during a final plea to save Charlie. Everything feels contrived and unnatural.
Were it not for the metatextual story of Fraser’s comeback, I don’t think anyone would care about this.
Watched in anticipation of Pearl.
Took a bit to warm up to the conspicious cutting style, but eventually grew to appreciate its commitment to the “duality” theme. Lots of individually beautiful shots too (e.g. drone shot of Maxine swimming).
Wasn’t fond of how it drew elderly sexuality as horrific. It’s tricky to nail that tastefully, and I don’t think this succeeds.
Unrueh Unrest (2022)
Primarily interesting for its cinematography. The subjects are rarely int he center of the frame. People, animals, and objects emerge from the midst of the frame, or penetrate it from outside. This happens form the start, where our protagonist enters from the right, exits to the left, and then re-enters from the center, from behind a building in the background. An almost optical illusion-esque visual quality.
Also managed to be really funny, in an otherwise grim depiction of the oppression of measurement.
Infuriating. From the cast Q&A, it appears that the actors didn’t really understand what the story was about (procrastination? gender norms?) and so not too surprising that this fails to be even just a straightforward remake.
Icons, such as the bunny, remain without any of their meaning (the possibility of improving the world through one’s work). Scenes reshuffled to impart a hopeful message, rather than lament the unchangeability of these systems. It produces a far more individual-centric story and is weaker for it.
I didn’t even really like Ikiru and I’m mad about this.
The King's Horseman 2022
Interesting as an adaptation along two axes: from stage to screen, and from English to Yoruba. It never really escapes staginess (though still better than The Whale), but something special appears to be happening in the latter case.
The cast and producer spoke at length about the injection of percussion, particularly talking drums, into the film to complement the spoken Yoruba, whose tonality is mimicked by the drums themselves. I’m far from able to assess the success of the approach, but I’m fond of this dimension of adaptation.
De Humani Corporis Fabrica 2022
Multiple walkouts. I nearly fainted during one operation. It’s miraculous what the body will do in response to purely visual stimuli. The man sitting to my left closed his eyes for perhaps half of it.
Lovely in its juxtapositions. The banal conversations about real estate against brain surgery (I can’t recall if that was the precise pairing). The primitive nature of hammer and chisel against ribs compared to the multi-device orchestration of a prostatectomy.
“I’m lost. I’m too zoomed in. Everything’s a bit abstract”, the surgeon said. Same here.
The Taste Of Apples Is Red 2022
70 year old men with 50 year old grudges. Wasn’t sure where this was going until the last 15 minutes of Chekhovian payoff.
Most remarkable, perhaps, for its skill in communicating and being steeped in a particular set of religious views, particularly with regards to the rules of reincarnation.
Retour à Séoul Return to Seoul (2023)
My first, and favorite, of the festival.
The premise, a French-Korean adoptee finding herself in South Korea for the first time since her adoption, could easily have slipped into cliche. This avoided that. It remained elusive, too specific and slippery to be trite. Frustrating at times, in fact. But that frustration has only increased my interest since.
生きる Ikiru (1952)
Watched in anticipation of seeing its remake at TIFF.
Didn’t really work for me? The kind of thing I can cerebrally appreciate but leaves me emotionally unmoved.
Bodies Bodies Bodies 2022
Differentiating Greg from the group, but not Bee (the two outsiders), gives this a distinctly “kids these days” vibe that’s not very interesting. The dynamics of a group chat, with all their inter-member feuds, petty and otherwise, is enough without pathologizing a whole generation.
Revisited after Prey. Writing and performances all weaker here, except for Bill Duke. Visually, this far an away better. Fuller range of highlights, shadows, and colors. Everything is always legible, or made legible after intentionally being obscured (e.g. hidden guerilla lighting cigarette, Dutch in silhouette under log).
Independently, the approach to Killer POV remains exciting even now. It’s largely dropped after our first seeing the Predator camouflaged, as its now been “concretely placed”, which only happens after ~45 minutes. The hand entering the frame to pick up the scorpion is exhilarating.
Sense and Sensibility 2008
Wastes its longer runtime spending far too much time with the various men in revised or newly invented scenes. The power of the duel confession is that it’s a confession, and we get to read Elinor’s reaction to it. Skipping her learning of that fact deprives the act of its main value.
Morahan performs Elinor with too open a “countenance”, in Austen’s words. We’re able to read her feelings too easily through her facial expressions, which is often desirable in film, but Elinor the character is rather defined by her deftness in navigating and compartmentalizing the internal/external.
외계+인 1부 Alienoid (2022)
In its best moments (namely the past), demonstrated some Stephen Chow-esque brilliance in slapstick action comedy. The time travel aspect produced some incredible moments (e.g. pistol after wedding) that got huge laughs in our 4 person theater attendance.
Could benefit from some editing. Too much time making very explicit plot details that one could easily infer from the surrounding context. This (half of a) story had no business being over two hours long.
Demonstrates the power of having real setups and payoffs. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, and in fact it’s a little too overt/visible, but it delivers well when many of its contemporaries can’t.
I wish the CGI were less present or less jarring. Some of the movie is illegible, particularly in the (few) night scenes. Otherwise, this was a solid movie I wish I could have seen in theaters with friends and strangers.
கண்டுகொண்டேன் கண்டுகொண்டேன் Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000)
The musical romance is a great genre for Sense and Sensibility. The song and dance (only sometimes diegetic) lets us glimpse into the minds of the characters, making up for the loss of narration. In this case, it’s mostly used for the characters that’re already most expressive (e.g. Meenu), where the book gave us access to the character who was otherwise careful not to reveal too much.
Impressive in how well it adheres to various plot beats (e.g. Willoughby’s debt) while not drawing attention to its reverence (or even provenance).
犬王 Inu-oh (2022)
Cultural memory as a disputed territory. Tale of the Heike feels particularly well suited for this sort of thing.
Death Becomes Her 1992
There are vague images stuck in my brain from repeated exposures to this on VHS. I wasn’t actually sure that it was this movie. Just the recollection of a woman falling down stairs, breaking her neck, and then it being backwards.
Sure enough, this is it! Willis as a dope is wonderful, and I wish he’d done far more comedies. The formal (visual) elements of this were impressive, and demonstrated an active interest in the evocative power of these tools that I don’t feel from a lot of recent cinema.
Shiva Baby 2021
Sense and Sensibility 1995
Marianne wins? This work is strange. We lose the interior voice of Elinor, hiding so many of her thoughts and feelings from us. Her “proper” behavior, rather than being strategic and calculated instead comes of as cold and repressed, which wasn’t my understanding of her character.
Then, Marianne is mocked less, and in fact given new lines and interactions that align the film’s world view with hers. Elinor’s open weeping in front of everyone. Colonel Brandon as the symmetrical rescuer. This has the appearance of being reverent, but is planting antithetical views into Austen’s mouth. I’m conflicted.
レッドライン Redline (2010)
Watched with a particular attention to narration. In all, while I appreciated the writing of the narration, it often felt like two works superimposed. The narration felt particularly book-ish, and didn’t necessarily integrate with the sometimes lovely and obviously opinionated visual style. There were two prominent voices, rather than one synthesized voice.
Gone Girl 2014
Fun with narrative perspective. This does seem to give greater weight to Affleck’s testimony in a way that I don’t think the source material does, and may have been unintentional. The head slam at the end casts some doubts, but it does seem like the movie has indicated whose side it ultimately sits on.
Fond of the way the diary gestures here toward epistolary film, something I’ve been thinking about because of Austen.
神探大戰 Detective vs. Sleuths (2022)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie 1995
It’s interesting to compare this with recent costumed hero movies.
Those lack the physicality of this movie. Sure, there’s no Hemsworth in this cast, but these actors move, flip, kick. Tommy dives head first over caution tape. Love & Thunder resorts to camera tricks to show Thor land on his feet.
This also has on-location shooting with occasionally lovely lighting. Watching the camera track backwards in Bombo Quarry, or capture a dramatic crash of a wave, there’s a sense of presence that was well beyond what I expected given my exposure to the show.
It even had a mid-credits scene!
Had some really spectacular images (especially around the house in the rain). I was a skeptic until the Star Lasso, when the stakes finally revealed themselves. The (long) finale squandered that excitement. The pursuit of “the Oprah shot” is a poor mechanism for identification or interest. I found far more compelling the notion of “anything with a spirit can be broken”. It better tied into all that had been set up thus far (e.g. the farm and the Eadward Muybridge photos), but I guess mattered less than the wishing well.
Before Sunrise 1995
I turned 21 in an unfamiliar country riding trains as far west as I could without falling into the ocean. Stepping off whenever whatever out the window looked interesting. Sometimes alone. Sometimes with friends. Often with people somewhere in between.
I think I understand that romance. But now, practically a lifetime later, I don’t miss it. And powerful though the images and feelings of being in that listening booth might be, I’ve landed where Céline suspected: loving more after knowing deeply. The thrill of having found far above the thrill of finding.
A Room with a View 1985
The Quick and the Dead 1995
I'm British But... 1990
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Mansfield Park 2007
The omission of Portsmouth was a great surprise in the moment, and may have been principally a cost matter, but I think it had artistic benefits. Very little of this focuses on the conflicted feelings of home, and so can better focus on the relationships at Mansfield.
This adaptation decenters Fanny a bit, which proved valuable for me. While present in the book, I hadn’t fully absorbed the conflicts of internal/external selves that occur throughout the story (particularly some choice lines from Edmund and Sir Thomas) for relationships that don’t involve Fanny. Due to the lack of the narrator’s perspective, it was easier for me to see them everywhere.
Thor: Love and Thunder 2022
Mansfield Park 1999
The way the camera moved at the start was exciting and interesting. Once Fanny becomes an adult, the camera largely steadies itself, even though Fanny herself isn’t as settled.
Fanny is a weird superposition of two different characters rather than a blend. In moments, she’s the shy and careful observer. In others a bold outspoken writer. Which version she is depends on the needs of the particular scene, producing an incoherent portrait of a character I really liked and connected with in the novel.
Her acceptance of Mr. Crawford’s proposal is baffling and I can’t understand its purpose.
辣手神探 Hard Boiled (1992)
Watched the theaters in 35mm. When watched previously, I saw it with fansubs, so it was interesting to note the differences in subtitling. Overall, the print’s subtitles were quite good, and delivered on the name joke/pun in the morgue better than the fansub.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum 1966
東邪西毒 Ashes of Time (1994)
Watched as a two-day double feature with The Eagle Shooting Heroes.
Watched the redux version, and loved the fantastical exaggerated colors. Am interested in seeing the theatrical cut particularly to compare that aspect.
射鵰英雄傳之東成西就 The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993)
Watched as a two-day double feature with Ashes of Time.
It’s delightful watching these enormous stars play enormous fools.
Lost Highway 1997
Independence Day 1996
Come From Away 2021
This is the second stage-on-screen I’ve watched, and it helped me understand that why I feel weird about them. Stage productions are enchanting in how they’re (largely) unbroken performances, and the set design, costumes, and performances are designed to be viewed from a fixed position at a distance. Editing, and shifting camera angles, break that enchantment, and give us a too-close seat. We can’t as easily follow or appreciate the geography of the performance when we keep teleporting around the stage.
幸せな時間の先に Beyond Happy Hour (2018)
While this gives us greater insight into Happy Hour itself (the details about Sakurako’s son actually being Jun’s actresses’ son was quite moving) it is far more illuminating of Drive My Car.
ドーターズ Daughters (2020)
Beautiful people shot beautifully.
My two closest friends from college have had kids, and I’ve not. I understand Koharu’s dwelling on the precarity of relationships when people aren’t “at the same level”.
Yet here, Koharu sublimates her individual desires into the responsibility of caring for her friend’s child. Why? A clearer, queerer, reading could explore that. And while gestured at a couple times, the bulk of the film rejects that reading. Ultimately the question isn’t engaged with, and I yearn for a return to Hush!.
國產凌凌漆 From Beijing with Love (1994)
How to Be Alone 2019
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.
A few days later, watched this lecture by Jordan Schonig.
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.
Love & Friendship 2016
The humor in Jane Austen’s writing is typically of the smirking kind. Amusement rather than laughter.
Love & Friendship is different. It left me struggling to catch my breath multiple times. It’s noteworthy that, regardless of whoever wrote the dialogue (either Austen or Stillman), it’s the aural quality of the dialogue that gives it strength, something that would be a challenge in written form. Timing, overtalk, surprise. It’s easy to take the dimension of time for given.
Psych 2: Lassie Come Home 2020
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?
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.
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.
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.
But I'm a Cheerleader 2000
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.
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.
着信アリ One Missed Call (2003)
Marie Antoinette 2006
The Rental 2020
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.
Mission: Impossible 1996
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.
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.
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.
Mississippi Masala 1991
Bridget Jones's Diary 2001
回路 Pulse (2001)
Part of a two-day double feature with We’re All Going To The World’s Fair
We're All Going to the World's Fair 2022
Part of a two-day double feature with Pulse
Forever's Gonna Start Tonight 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Division Avenue 2015
寝ても覚めても Asako I & II (2018)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 2022
蜘蛛巣城 Throne of Blood (1957)
An Exercise in Discipline: Peel 1983
七人の侍 Seven Samurai (1954)
Rewatched with commentary by Stephen Prince, David Desser, Tony Rayns, and Donald Richie, and Joan Mellen
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.
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.
The Power of the Dog 2021
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.
Minoes Miss Minoes (2001)
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.
白日焰火 Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)
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).
A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984
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.
Death on the Nile 2022
Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940 1940
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.
At the Video Store 2019
Friends Like That 2020
Journey to the East 2021
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).
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”
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
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.
Jia Zhangke, Um Homem de Fenyang Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang (2014)
Watermelon Man 1970
家有囍事 All's Well, Ends Well (1992)
The Night of the Hunter 1955
Il était une fois… Mustang Once Upon a Time... MUSTANG (2018)
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.
Les escargots The Snails (1966)
La Planète sauvage Fantastic Planet (1973)
สาวคาราโอเกะ Karaoke Girl (2013)
竜とそばかすの姫 Belle (2021)
Licorice Pizza 2021
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.
Spider-Man: No Way Home 2021
Hai Phượng Furie (2019)