stvs.tv/movie-diary/

2024

Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1: Lavender Town Syndrome 2020

The Fall Guy 2024

カメラを止めるな! One Cut of the Dead (2017)

In Paris Parks 1954

I Saw the TV Glow 2024

Jeanne d'Arc Joan of Arc (1900)

La danse du feu The Pillar of Fire (1899)

Tokyo Days 1988

Dance in the Sun 1953

Whatever Happened To Green Valley? 1974

10 Cloverfield Lane 2016

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

I wrote my first (and ideally, only) Letterboxd review about this viewing. I felt compelled to memorialize it as my favorite on the platform, and it gave me an opportunity to put more words to it than fit in this little side capsule.

Apocalypse Now 1979

Watched the Final Cut in theaters.

Has some of the most impressive night footage I’ve ever seen.

Unfairly marred now by the flourishes it pioneered having been ground down into obnoxious trope over the last 45 years. It’s a marvel that such a contemplative, slow, dreary, and dreamy film has had such a presence in the air of American media.

Bronx, New York, Novembre 2019 Bronx, New York, November 2019 (2021)

Cal State Long Beach, CA, January 2020 2021

The Monk and the Gun 2023

Fewer jokes than I’d hoped, but the one about the second verse of America’s sutras is among the best I’ve heard in a long while.

Showgirls 1995

Incredible Floridas 1972

When at the symphony, I sometimes struggle to calm my mind, or give myself something to visually focus on. Here, Weir decorates the music with images, distracting me just enough to counter-intuitively highlight Meale’s composition.

青少年哪吒 Rebels of the Neon God (1994)

Ningla A-Na 1972

Encountered uncomfortable echoes while watching, 52 years ago, Australian police destroy encampments of protestors. Halfway through the movie, I paused it, got in my car, drove to the nearest student encampment in solidarity with Palestine, and helped them build a barricade to offer some temporary protection from the dozens of police amassed around them.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016

Watched in a park in honor of “Star Wars Day”, May 4th, but due to bad rain on the day of, was observed on May 11th.

The Manchurian Candidate 1962

Devil in a Blue Dress 1995

Footloose 1984

The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial 2023

Dedicada A Mi Ex Dedicated to my ex (2019)

Sure, there’s a very deep debt to Scott Pilgrim here, but still it’s always fun to see films that take advantage of our learned comprehension of continuity editing to construct impossible sequences.

Paddington 2014

Watched on a plane to (darkest???) Peru

House of 1000 Corpses 2003

I misread the listing, and didn’t understand that the pre-show House of 1000 Corpses themed drag show would end at the listed screening time, not start at it, so I caught only the last act.

レンタネコ Rent-a-Cat (2012)

3 Directions in Australian Pop Music 1972

Raging Bull 1980

快餐車 Wheels on Meals (1984)

My Own Mecca 2020

Giòng sông không nhìn thấy The Unseen River (2020)

人在紐約 Full Moon in New York (1989)

I love learning the “original” titles of pieces of art, and their implications. Here, I only learned the expression “人在江湖,身不由己” after watching, making the title 人在紐約 far more laden with meaning, and priming the viewer into an immediately somber posture that the English one doesn’t at all.

アニ*クリ15 Ani*Kuri15 (2008)

The Oath of the Sword 1914

Watched at San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s “Amazing Tales From The Archives”

Given the history and racial narrative of Madame Butterfly, seeing this early example of a revisionist take emerging out of a specific Japanese-American identity and lens was fascinating, even if the film itself was just fine.

Riviera Revels - Travelaugh No. 10: Fauny Business 1927

Watched at San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s “Amazing Tales From The Archives”

Riviera Revels - Travelaugh No. 9: Cold Feats 1927

Watched at San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s “Amazing Tales From The Archives”

Path of Totality 2018

Watched in preparation for seeing the 2024 North American solar eclipse in Texas. I’d seen my first eclipse in 2017, the same event documented here, though in a very different (but similarly middle-of-nowhere) locale.

秋天的童話 An Autumn's Tale (1987)

金刚经 The Poet and Singer (2012)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989

Watched with my friend and his 3-year-old, who was given unprompted permission to get himself a rare popsicle treat just in time to miss the villain crumbling to dust.

Field Notes 2014

I sought out works made in Trinidad after having gone for Carnaval. Having on-the-ground familiarity with the place helped imbue the images and sounds, such as the creaking of the bamboo arches, with a specificity that the film doesn’t attempt on its own. It doesn’t seek to use the language of a presumed outsider, giving me both the experience of recognition for those things that were mildly familiar, and the sense of the alien from those that weren’t.

スウィングガールズ Swing Girls (2004)

All respect to the likely progenitor of its genre, but it’s a little too light. I know the characters more by what instrument they play than any identifying characteristic, and the final performance doesn’t carry emotional weight the way that Linda Linda Linda does.

Speaking of Linda Linda Linda, that film successfully uses the premise of the end of year festival to tell a story about relationships. This one is just about the music and the performance. Which is fun! The running “and a boy” gag is great. But after this wrapped, I rewatched the last ~10 minutes of Linda Linda Linda and teared up a little. This has no comparable moments.

恋は五・七・五! Love Is Five Seven Five (2005)

Shoutout to the fansubber for translating the Japanese haiku well, while also maintaining an English, syllable-based, haiku structure.

Homesdale 1971

燃冬 The Breaking Ice (2023)

警察故事 Police Story (1985)

Screened for a couple friends who’d only seen Chan’s American work. Doing an important cinematic service.

Because I was watching with friends who’d never seen it, was particularly attuned to length and pace, and there’s just so much that gets neatly packed into 100 minutes. I kept thinking “surely they must be heading to the mall now”, but no, yet another excellent setpiece first.

少林三十六房 The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

Wake in Fright 1971

Dune: Part Two 2024

Piles of spectacle. And some of it, namely the first worm ride, left my palms sweaty and my jaw sore from clenching.

But at some point, the inertia of prophecy overwhelms all else narratively, with individual character motives giving way to obligation in a parade of preordained moments. If the characters don’t seem to care, should I?

Worse of all, this sensation ends up echoing the experience of watching an abbreviated adaptation rush to check off the remaining major plot points of its source.

Bye Bye Tibériade Bye Bye Tiberias (2024)

Turning Red 2022

“I’ve been warning against the implications of the phrase “feeling seen,” because it presumes a passive and unidirectional relationship between viewer. What does it mean to give away your agency to a constructed piece of art?

If we place agency (and interpretation) in the hands of viewers, then the object can be criticized and we can STILL have our pleasurable and liberatory experience of it”

Racquel Gates

Perfect Days 2023

Like Jenny Odell noted in How To Do Nothing, the careful observation required for a deep relationship with a place demands regularity and routine. Hirayama greets the day, the park, the toilets, in such a way that routine provides the foundation for beautiful serendipities.

I don’t know what to do with the hints of a sadness in his life, other than acknowledge it as real. The stories collected by the angels in Wings Of Desire likewise mingle the bouyant and the somber.

青梅竹馬 Taipei Story (1985)

“Monotonous” is often considered a synonym of “boring”, but that misses something more precise. This movie felt consistently in the same register. Whatever loveliness there was at that pitch, I would have enjoyed greater dynamics. Dynamics I was teased with when Chin hangs out with her sister and friends. But once that sequence ends, we return to that same groove, and it didn’t work for me.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension 1984

The kind of rewatch where a vague cloud of childhood recognition is solidified into something a lot less magical. I’d watched this at some point with my father, and never forgotten about it, while remembering none of the specifics of the experience.

Still delightful today!

The Talented Mr. Ripley 1999

Darkroom 2023

Israelism 2023

Three to Go 1971

Inland Empire 2006

Mami Wata 2023

As an atheist, I care deeply about the depiction of faith in media. It’s a sensation I can no longer tap into; except perhaps in film. Montage and the subjectivity of the camera permit contradictory realities to coexist in a linear space, begging the audience to engage in “faith” as a verb.

Mami Wata could have done that, and for much of its runtime it did. But its final third chooses concreteness and certitude in a way that undermines any consideration of Mami Wata (the being) along the dimension of faith, perhaps in service of it’s more immediate fairytale objectives.

The Last Repair Shop 2024

The ABCs of Book Banning 2023

金門 Island in Between (2023)

The Barber of Little Rock 2023

Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó 2023

Barbie 2023

I keep returning in my mind to Gloria’s speech, lauded by many as “empowering” and “relatable”. It describes, rather than evokes, and even then its aim isn’t lofty.

I think about Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a far cry from the fun of Barbie, and how it provokes in the audience the sensation of the impossibility of being a woman (or girl) in America, and also about the ways in which that impossibility derives not just from the perceptions and pressures of others, but from the systems installed by those others to subjugate them.

Ocean's Eleven 2001

Watched on a plane from what looked like a fullscreen VHS rip, and it’s still elementally perfect. Besides Julia Roberts’ non-character.

The Wizard of Oz 1939

This version reaffirmed my grievances with the visuals of The Wiz. This one has moving cameras! And frames people effectively! It looks consistently good! (where The Wiz has high highs and low lows)

That said, this retroactively made me appreciate The Wiz more. Except for the brief poetry of “conferrin’ with the flowers, consultin’ with the rain”, the songs here aren’t very good, especially not The Wiz levels of good. And I think the narrative of having always had, inside oneself, that which they seek, so much stronger than the wizard’s weird accolades. And he gets off way too easy here.

The Wiz 1978

Watched in anticipation of the 2024 musical revival. Also complicating this viewing is that this is my first complete exposure to the Oz story, having never seen the original film nor read the book.

The music is fantastic, and MJ has incredible comedic timing, but I was frequently confused by some of the visual choices. The camera is remarkably static. We see lots of characters’ backs. And we’re often far from the action, depriving us of the details of costumes and performance.

Hãy tỉnh thức và sẵn sàng Stay Awake, Be Ready (2019)

Remarkable to watch this and see, effectively, a rough draft of the beginning of Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell.

Câm Lặng The Mute (2022)

春风沉醉的夜晚 Spring Fever (2009)

Bên trong vỏ kén vàng Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (2023)

ゴジラ-1.0 Godzilla Minus One (2023)

Watched the “Minus Color” version. Was initially disappointed about this, based on what I’d heard about the Parasite re-grade. But now having seen it, I can’t imagine having watched it (for the first time) in color.

One stellar scene: the ash rain

اليد الخضراء Foragers (2022)

殺しの烙印 Branded to Kill (1967)

Rewatched this since The Killer left me desiring an assassin palate cleanser.

地球最后的夜晚 Long Day's Journey into Night (2018)

Rewatched in theaters in 3D.

This affected me less than last time, and I now may prefer Kaili Blues to this. But that could just be that that was the most recent first viewing of a Bi Gan film.

The Killer 2023

At it’s best when it’s revealing the foolishness of the protagonists’ grindset via the conversation with Tilda Swinton. Everything else is fine? Ultimately just wanted me to watch other, better, assassin-botched-their-last-job-and-now-on-dealing-with-consequences movies.

RoboCop 1987

Struggles with its two inharmonious stories: a cop’s rediscovery of his humanity and identity in pursuit of revenge, and a satire about corporate ruthlessness and pillaging. The one common thread they have: that policing as-is in 1987 is ok, or even good.

The first story requires the audience to participate in the sensual pleasures of vigilantism. The second story is great, but the conclusion of the first limits its swing.

“No better way to steal money than free enterprise”

Blade Runner 1982

“The Final Cut” version, watched on archival 35mm

I liked this movie the first time I saw it in 2015. I felt similarly on a rewatch in 2017. Since 2017, my movie watching habits, and interests, and aptitudes, have changed considerably. Watching it in 2024 felt like really watching it for the first time, and I loved it. And when the elevator doors slammed shut on me, for the third time, I was left a little breathless in a way I’d never felt before.

かもめ食堂 Kamome Diner (2006)

What a lovely ending scene!

無人駕駛 Spacked Out (2000)

These kids are the same age as me. That is, in the depicted year of 1999, I was just a year younger than the characters. There’s just something about that alignment that startles.

Compared to the internet aided search for guidance in Never Rarely Sometimes Always, this “my godsister” conduit for knowledge matches my memory. Of cousins, or friends’ older siblings. All while on the cusp of a burgeoning connectedness with cell phones.

The Life and Flight of the Reverend Buck Shotte 1968

ร่างทรง The Medium (2021)

Longer than necessary, and I’m not sure how essential the documentary framing is.

The depiction of faith and the divine in media is a minor obsession of mine. Something that can frustrate me about works that try is when characters understand the operation of this other world too much. I felt myself sliding down this path, as Nim seemed to have all the answers in a way that made the sacred mundane. The turning point is the ceremony at the tree, where we realize she actually is struggling to make sense of it just like we are.

Tótem 2023

Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (1953)

I guess I love clowning? There’s a lot of space between the laughs, but I loved all of the stupid gags, as well as the anticipation of the gags (like the shark).

Steamboat Willie 1928

Ringing in the New Year by watching this, newly released into the public domain, on Wikipedia.

Animal abuse aside, it’s remarkable how so many principles of animation were already well understood almost 100 years ago. Those squishy whistles!