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: Rate The Last Movie You Saw  ( 5045834 )
dave jenkins
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« #19425 : December 05, 2020, 04:20:55 PM »

Here is a review that actually reviews the flawed but always fascinating Mank instead of reviewing the boring and imaginary Mank vs Welles: the film:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/03/movies/mank-review.html
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Thalberg, while not as vain as Hearst or as volatile as Mayer, is Welles?s true antithesis: a company man, as passionately committed to the workings of the system he helped design as Welles is to his own creative integrity. They are both, in their different ways, heroic (and also tragic) figures in the mythology of movies.

Not Mankiewicz. He is, almost as a matter of principle, a minor player in the Hollywood pageant. The paradoxes of his position are the film?s real subject. He is a bleeding-heart liberal comfortably ensconced in a fundamentally conservative milieu, a court jester whose proximity to power underscores his impotence, a critical intellect whose aloofness renders him ineffectual. Like a lot of East Coast scribes (then and still) he thinks the movies are beneath him, even though he doesn?t mind the money or the company. He finds it easier to crack a joke than to take a stand.

Neither a maverick nor a visionary, he?s an alienated insider, a participant observer, a kibitzer at the table where the big guys make the big bets. Which may just be a verbose way of saying that he?s a writer. I?ll drink to that.
This is a fair assessment. It does not, however, offer any reason why the subject should make for an interesting film. Welles would make a good subject, as would Thalberg. So would Hearst, but, I understand, that's already been done. Writers are not inherently interesting. To make Mank the person interesting you'd have to add a lot of sweetener to the mix. This is what the filmmakers give us to sweeten Mank: The California gubernatorial election of 1934. I don't insist on historical veracity if I get something entertaining in return (looking at you, Quentin). But the California gubernatorial election of 1934 is not it.




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« #19426 : December 05, 2020, 04:43:49 PM »

Panique (1946)

It?s ok, but I don?t think it?s any kind of masterpiece

The whole business with the town spreading rumors is handled quite comedically.

The Criterion BRD has a bonus feature with two French critics, One of them says he believes Hitchcock used several shots/ideas from this movie: the carnival in Strangers on a Train, the voyeuristic shots of Rear Window, and James Stewart hanging off the roof at the beginning of Vertigo.


The Criterion BRD also has a nice bonus feature with Bruce Goldstein, founder of Rialto Pictures and also head of repertory programming at New York?s Film Forum (where DJ and I have seen many classic films). This piece is on The Art of Subtitling - Goldstein is, among other things, subtitle editor at Rialto (Panique is a Rialto release) and he talks here about subtitling, an overlooked aspect of classic film restoration. It?s a really good piece.



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« #19427 : December 07, 2020, 07:20:33 AM »

I need to stay off this topic for a while.  2020 has been such a disturbing year that Mrs. Cusser and I are watching Lifetime Christmas films on DVR for some happy feelings and to see life without social distancing, so at least we can zip through commercials with DVR.

Almost all have the same plot: successful beautiful single gal goes back to her small hometown to save the historic inn, family bakery, Christmas pageant, etc., and runs into either a mysterious stranger/guy from her past that she didn't like/broke up with.  And through the magic of Christmas all is good, and all stories miraculously take exactly to hours to tell...

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« #19428 : December 08, 2020, 03:07:34 AM »

Se7en (1995) 8.5/10
Still great. Of course the 90?s are beginning to show but the film did enough at the time to not look like a movie from the 90?s that it?s mostly aging proof (visually speaking. The ending ?twist? is soooooo 90?s). I?d love Darius Khondji and David Fincher to get back together.

Arizon Junior (1987) 7.5/10
I had seen it once, on TV, in French, 20 years ago. I liked it much better this time around, even though it probably doesn?t have the same unlimited rewatch value as the better comedy efforts by the Coen.


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« #19429 : December 09, 2020, 01:47:41 PM »

The Third Man (1949) 7.5/10
It always looks beautiful, but I wouldn?t say it?s flawlessly directed. Still, there are hints of genius filmmaking  here and there. Great portrayal of postwar Vienna. It?s funny how better the movie becomes as soon as Welles is first seen.


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« #19430 : December 12, 2020, 03:52:09 PM »

In the Mood for Love (2000) - 10/10. Reportedly, they spent hours each day on Maggie's hair and eyebrows. It was worth it.

Chungking Express (1994) - 6/10. Love the stuff with Brigitte Lin, everything else is fluff. Faye Wong is impossible. Tony Leung talking to a stuffed animal? Give me a break.

My Blueberry Nights (2007) - 6/10. Eatery as a locus for intersecting lives: check. A narrative device involving keys: check. A cop in relation to two women: check. A woman who leaves for a year and comes back: check and double-check. OK, we've got Chungking Blueberry Express here. Wong tells very simple stories but can't get details right: there is no frosting on blueberry pie, so why does Norah Jones keep getting frosting on her lips when she eats it? A cop who beats up a guy and later pulls a gun on his ex-wife would lose his job first and go to jail next, so why is David Strathairn free to drive drunk? Happily, when we get to Reno the gambling story works (and Natalie Portman really sells it). Well, one out of three ain't bad.



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« #19431 : December 12, 2020, 03:55:00 PM »

I've been striking gold with some films I love this weekend (and some that I not so love) as I stay inside with a minor cold (or perhaps COVID??? waiting a test back)

Batman Returns (1992) - 8/10
Armageddon (1998) - 5/10
Small Axe: Mangrove (2020) - 8.5/10
Small Axe: Lovers Rock (2020) - 9/10
A Christmas Carol (2009) - 4.5/10
Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959) - 9/10
A Brighter Summer Day (1991) - 9/10

the summer day theme is coincidental

Chungking Express (1994) - 6/10
::)

« : December 12, 2020, 03:56:29 PM PowerRR »
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« #19432 : December 12, 2020, 04:57:49 PM »

The first half of Chungking is way better than the second half.



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« #19433 : December 12, 2020, 08:42:12 PM »

The first half of Chungking is way better than the second half.
Yup.



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« #19434 : December 12, 2020, 08:48:52 PM »

Ashes of Time Redux (1994/2008) - 10/10. Rewatching this last night it suddenly occurred to me: this is my favorite WKW. You don't have to worry about the plot, all you have to do is allow the images to wash over you. Those colors!
This is the one where an orange-and-teal bias is correct. I enjoy this more every time I watch it.



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« #19435 : December 15, 2020, 09:52:04 AM »

2046 (2004) - 4/10. The eye candy is nice, but at best this is an exercise in empty formalism and at worst WKW's descent into self parody. Mrs. Jenkins, who has been at my side for most of these recent viewings, declared at the end, "No more Wong Kar Wai." Yeah, he really gave the game away on this one.

« : December 15, 2020, 02:00:34 PM dave jenkins »


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« #19436 : December 15, 2020, 02:30:29 PM »

Quote
The Grandmaster (2013) - 6/10. Blu-ray. Ip Man gets Wong Kar-Wai'ed. The style-to-story ratio in this must run about 100:1 and, although the images are ravishing and a treat to watch at first, the whole thing becomes very wearing as it goes along. This is partly because the fight scenes all have a sameness about them--there are two kinds of fight scenes, interior and exterior. The interior scenes are always dark. The exterior scenes are always dark too, because they are set at night, usually when it's raining or, for variety, snowing. One thing I enjoy about Ashes of Time Redux is the bold colors, but here the colors get drained every time there's a fight (I'm guessing its easier to cut shots together that way). Occasionally there are striking colors, in between fights, but a lot of the film comes off as monochromatic (kung-fu noir!). The worst thing, though, is that much of the storytelling is relegated to intertitles, as if this were a silent film. The story isn't all that interesting anyway (and we've already seen other versions of it), but matters are made worse by our having to constantly stop and read about what has or is about to happen.
I was way too harsh in this evaluation from 7 years ago. My biggest problem with the film then seems to have been with the storytelling, which I no longer feel is worth worrying about. Who goes to WKW for the story? Instead, there are wonderful set pieces to enjoy, and they are many. There's humor, too--the cigarette lighting scene is a scream. Of course, this is WKW's most Leone-esque film, which he explicitly acknowledges with the use of Morricone's music. Initially I thought the references cheapened the film, but now I've changed my mind. I actually think WKW has been very clever, blending Leone's concerns with his own. Most of SL's film are buddy movies, where women are mostly irrelevant. With WKW of course you usually get one or more love stories. The Grandmaster has a series of showdowns, the most significant being the one between Ip Man and Gong Er, where they simultaneously joust and fall in love. Making the hero's buddy a girl adds a kick that SL never tried, one he certainly would not have countenanced. But that's precisely why WKW's contribution is valuable--he has added something new to cinema that only he could have brought off. I really like this film now and am radically re-scoring it: 10/10.

P.S. I'm talking about the longer, HK cut. I've never seen the U.S. cut.

« : December 15, 2020, 02:37:42 PM dave jenkins »


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« #19437 : December 17, 2020, 04:02:18 PM »

My Dinner With Andre (1981) - 7/10. It's been a long time, but a re-watch was in order so that I might introduce the film to Mrs. J. This time I realized where things go wrong--Wally wisely orders the potato soup, but fumbles by opting for the small-portioned quail. All is not lost yet, however, because there's always dessert. But Wally then unaccountably orders only an espresso and an amaretto! Oaf!



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« #19438 : December 19, 2020, 10:14:00 PM »

2046 (2004) - 4/10. The eye candy is nice, but at best this is an exercise in empty formalism and at worst WKW's descent into self parody. Mrs. Jenkins, who has been at my side for most of these recent viewings, declared at the end, "No more Wong Kar Wai." Yeah, he really gave the game away on this one.
While I haven't seen this in a long time, I think you're right, if maybe a little harsh. Or maybe not even that harsh.

I also think Power is probably right about Happy Together.


« : December 19, 2020, 11:02:34 PM T.H. »


Claudia, we need you to appear in LOST COMMAND. It's gonna revolutionize the war genre..
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« #19439 : December 20, 2020, 11:51:54 AM »

Solaris (1972) - 3/10. Yeah, yeah, Tarkovsky, Tarkovsky, Tarkovsky. Let's say, rather, Turkey, Turkey, Turkey, and let it go at that. The most hackneyed plot in science-fiction, and in this case, it takes forever to unspool. And then there are all the tedious Scenes From an Intergalactic Marriage. Finally, at the end, the big reveal is that all the hero ever wanted was acceptance from his father . . . and now the planet is going to simulate that for him? He gave up infinite pussy for that? More fiction than science in this one.  Plus very low-fi SFX. Some good nature photography, though. And a nice cameo by the horse.



"McFilms are commodities and, as such, must be QA'd according to industry standards."
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