Movies are listed in watch order

Hai Phượng Furie (2019)

Still from Furie

Creep 2014

Still from Creep

Spider-Man: No Way Home 2021

Still from Spider-Man: No Way Home

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

Licorice Pizza 2021

Still from Licorice Pizza

竜とそばかすの姫 Belle (2021)

Still from Belle

สาวคาราโอเกะ Karaoke Girl (2013)

Still from Karaoke Girl

La Planète sauvage Fantastic Planet (1973)

Still from Fantastic Planet

Les escargots The Snails (1966)

Still from The Snails

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

Mustang 2015

Still from Mustang

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

The Night of the Hunter 1955

Still from The Night of the Hunter

[REC] 2007

Still from [REC]

家有囍事 All's Well, Ends Well (1992)

Still from All's Well, Ends Well

Sunlight 1957

Watermelon Man 1970

Still from Watermelon Man

Scream 2022

Still from Scream

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

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

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

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 do. 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

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

CODA 2021

Still from CODA

Journey to the East 2021

Friends Like That 2020

Still from Friends Like That

At the Video Store 2019

Bloodsport 1988

Still from Bloodsport

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

Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940 1940

Death on the Nile 2022

Still from Death on the Nile

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

A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984

Still from A Nightmare on Elm Street

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.

白日焰火 Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

Still from Black Coal, Thin Ice

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.

Minoes Miss Minoes (2001)

Still from Miss Minoes

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

Essais cinématographiques 1928

The Power of the Dog 2021

Still from The Power of the Dog

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

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

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

An Exercise in Discipline: Peel 1983

Still from An Exercise in Discipline: Peel

Memoria 2021

Still from Memoria

蜘蛛巣城 Throne of Blood (1957)

Still from Throne of Blood

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 2022

Still from Sonic the Hedgehog 2

寝ても覚めても Asako I & II (2018)

Still from Asako I & II

Division Avenue 2015

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

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

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 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

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

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 on 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

Second Cousins Once Removed 2010

Forever's Gonna Start Tonight 2011

Still from Forever's Gonna Start Tonight

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

回路 Pulse (2001)

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

Still from Pulse

Bridget Jones's Diary 2001

Still from Bridget Jones's Diary

Malignant 2021

Still from Malignant

Mississippi Masala 1991

Still from Mississippi Masala

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

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

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

Barrier Device 2002

Mission: Impossible 1996

Still from Mission: Impossible

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

Sally's Beauty Spot 1990

The Rental 2020

Still from The Rental

Marie Antoinette 2006

Still from Marie Antoinette

着信アリ One Missed Call (2003)

Still from One Missed Call

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

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

But I'm a Cheerleader 2000

Still from But I'm a Cheerleader

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

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

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 as she pushes in an endoscope.

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

Still from Crimes of the Future

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

Psych 2: Lassie Come Home 2020

Still from Psych 2: Lassie Come Home

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.

Still from Love & Friendship

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

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.

Still from It Follows

How to Be Alone 2019

Still from How to Be Alone

國產凌凌漆 From Beijing with Love (1994)

Still from From Beijing with Love

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!.

Still from Daughters

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.

Come From Away 2021

This is the second stage-on-screen I’ve watched, and it helped me understand 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.

Still from Come From Away

Orlando 1992

Still from Orlando

Independence Day 1996

Still from Independence Day

Lost Highway 1997

Still from Lost Highway

Feathers 2018

Still from Feathers

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.

Still from The Eagle Shooting Heroes

Metropolitan 1990

Still from Metropolitan

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.

Still from Ashes of Time

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum 1966

Still from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

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.

Still from Hard Boiled

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.

Still from Mansfield Park

Thor: Love and Thunder 2022

Still from Thor: Love and Thunder

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.

Still from Mansfield Park

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Still from Portrait of a Lady on Fire

I'm British But... 1990

The Quick and the Dead 1995

Still from The Quick and the Dead

A Room with a View 1985

Still from A Room with a View

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.

Still from Before Sunrise

Cam 2018

Still from Cam

Nope 2022

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.

Still from Nope

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!

Still from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie

神探大戰 Detective vs. Sleuths (2022)

Still from Detective vs. Sleuths

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.

Still from Gone Girl

Trainspotting 1996

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.

Still from Trainspotting

レッドライン Redline (2010)

Still from Redline

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.

Still from Sense and Sensibility

Shiva Baby 2021

Still from Shiva Baby

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.

Still from Death Becomes Her

犬王 Inu-oh (2022)

Cultural memory as a disputed territory. Tale of the Heike feels particularly well suited for this sort of thing.

Still from Inu-oh

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).

Still from Kandukondain Kandukondain

Prey 2022

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.

Still from Prey

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.

Still from Alienoid

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.

Still from Sense and Sensibility

Predator 1987

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.

Still from Predator

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.

Still from Bodies Bodies Bodies

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.

Still from Ikiru

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.

Still from Return to Seoul

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 specific set of religious views, particularly with regards to the rules of reincarnation.

Still from The Taste Of Apples Is Red

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.

Still from De Humani Corporis Fabrica

The King's Horseman 2022

World premiere!

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.

Still from The King's Horseman

Living 2022

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.

Still from Living

Unrueh Unrest (2022)

Primarily interesting for its cinematography. The subjects are rarely in the 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.

Still from Unrest

X 2022

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.

Still from X

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.

Still from The Whale

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?

Still from Dry Ground Burning

Pearl 2022

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.

Still from Pearl

EO 2022

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.

Still from EO

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?

Still from All Quiet on the Western Front

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 this 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.

Still from The Wonder

Rose Gold 2017

Rose Gold 2017

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.

Still from Broker

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.

Still from Daughter of Rage

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”.

Still from Godland

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).

Still from Decision to Leave

2 Lizards 2020

I thought I had an allergy to COVID stories, but it turns out I only had an allergy to COVID allegories.

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.

Still from Women Talking

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.

Still from Plan 75

Butcher's Crossing 2022

I’d rather have a feature length exploration of the epilogue than any of the narrative stuff prior, which isn’t even close to being as bleak or brutal as those few images.

Still from Butcher's Crossing

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.

Still from Leonor Will Never Die

R.M.N. 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”.

Still from R.M.N.

The Lost City 2022

Still from The Lost City

無間道 Infernal Affairs (2002)

Still from Infernal Affairs

Persuasion 1995

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.

Still from Persuasion

Persuasion 2007

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.

Still from Persuasion

Persuasion 2022

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.

Still from Persuasion

Estonia Dreams of Eurovision! 2002

Still from Estonia Dreams of Eurovision!

The Road to Magnasanti 2017

Concussion Protocol 2018

Hellbound: Hellraiser II 1988

Still from Hellbound: Hellraiser II

東/West East/West (1989)

Calls to mind After After Babel

Still from East/West

Low Tide: A Newly Restored Work by Thomas Wright 2022

Hocus Pocus 1993

This was the first time I’d ever actually seen this from start to finish, and it’s quite good! The movie existed in this hazy recollected form of moments with no connective tissue, largely drawn from childhood watches. The bus driver sequence was superb.

Still from Hocus Pocus

Barbarian 2022

In the moment, I thought it was fine. With distance, I find the invocation (or absence) of certain details thoughtless or embarassing. What does this film actually have to say about white flight, to pick but one ill considered “theme!” this seems to drag into the frame.

Still from Barbarian

Prince of Darkness 1987

Still from Prince of Darkness

Barry Lyndon 1975

Still from Barry Lyndon

Predator 1987

Watched on 35mm as a double feature with Predator 2.

The person sitting next to me had never seen it before, and we chatted after about why this was so special to many in the audience. Ultimately, where I landed was that this movie reminds me of the formative moments of my childhood, watching things with perhaps inadequate supervision beside my siblings. My brother was supposed to be there with me that night, too.

Still from Predator

Predator 2 1990

Watched on 35mm as a double feature with Predator.

Still from Predator 2

Smile 2022

Still from Smile

The Age of Innocence 1993

Still from The Age of Innocence

Hocus Pocus 2 2022

Still from Hocus Pocus 2

Wawa 2014

Jáaji Approx. 2015

Maurice 1987

Still from Maurice

Four Weddings and a Funeral 1994

Watching this in 2022 for the first time, this is a parallel universe Love, Actually that doesn’t suck. The appearance of Love Is All Around ends up feeling like a trick played by a time traveler, rather than an homage in the later film.

There’s a kindness demonstrated to all of the characters that I find remarkable.

Still from Four Weddings and a Funeral

Holy Spider 2022

My screening was filled with Iranian flags and cardboard signs. Perhaps the crowd had arrived from a demonstration in solidarity with the protests following the killing of Mahsa Amini. As the film ended, someone in the crowd shouted something in, presumably, Farsi. Much of the crowd shouted back, in call-and-response.

Whatever the intent of the film, its release at this moment in time colors it in the palette of today. I’ve been reading about adaptations, and one interesting interpretation of adaptation is how an identical work, shown in a different temporal and spatial context, becomes a distinct work. I saw that in action that night.

Still from Holy Spider

Photo-Prem 2021

Ambulance 2022

It’s a shame I watched this on a plane. There are sequences in this like nothing I’ve seen before. Even if I wasn’t sold on the relationships or the politics, the drone work was spellbinding.

Still from Ambulance

தர்பார் Darbar (2020)

Still from Darbar

पीके PK (2014)

Watched on TV in Malayalam. Understood enough, just because of visual language, to want to find this with subtitles.

Still from PK

A Mighty Wind 2003

Still from A Mighty Wind

A Scanner Darkly 2006

Still from A Scanner Darkly

The Tree of Life 2011

Still from The Tree of Life

The Menu 2022

This could have had teeth. It could have said something real. Instead it’s, what? I guess a kind of fun ride that I never think about again.

Reminds me in many ways of Ready or Not’s wasted potential

Still from The Menu

Atonement 2007

Still from Atonement

四月物語 April Story (1998)

I arrived in Tokyo a week or so before school started, to enjoy the chery blossoms longer. I joined Camera Club. We went to one photography exhibit, of the club president. I remember a photo of his girlfriend in the tub. There I befriended some guys by being an American that didn’t own guns. Many months later, I and one of them would travel north to his hometown for a couple nights, to stay with his mom. After, the two of them drove me to the airport when it was time to return to the US, she cried. “Why are you crying” my friend asked, “you don’t even know him”.

Still from April Story

Avatar: The Way of Water 2022

Still from Avatar: The Way of Water

Polyester 1981

Watched in Odorama! I’m not sure that my card actually worked. Everything smelled of baby powder.

Still from Polyester

Howards End 1992

Still from Howards End

井里的人 Man in the Well (2016)

Still from Man in the Well

The Fall 2006

Watched in 35mm

Still from The Fall

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery 2022

Still from Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 2022

Still from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

一一 Yi Yi (2000)

Still from Yi Yi