My first recommendation this month is "I Tonya". A black comedic drama of the rise and fall of the infamous figure skater, including her dysfunctional and abusive family life. Margo Robbie is superb in the lead role as is Alison Janney as her exploitative mother. Redneck chaos meets the Olympic ideal!
Robbie was robbed at the Oscars. The fourth-wall-breaking stuff in this was brilliant. And as much I like Janney USUALLY, her performance (which did get her an Oscar and probably spoiled Robbie's chances as Janney was a shoo-in) in this felt shrill and cartoonish.
BUT a great film, from the director of Lars and the Real Girl.
I watched the Blu-Ray of the classic big budget 1985 Golan-Globus extravaganza Lifeforce last night. Brilliant stuff.
Wow... I haven't seen that since around... 1985! I remember thinking it was really good, but I was a spotty teenager then and I wonder if it stood the test of time.
As it came up in another thread recently, I watched The Death of Stalin again yesterday. A rip-roaring farce, with a gag a minute pace, but that still shows deference to the brutal terror of the time. Some brilliant performances especially from Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor, but also Rupert Friend and Andrea Riseborough. Of course the show was stolen by Simon Russell Beale and Jason Isaacs and all were brilliantly directed by Iannucci.
> Wow... I haven't seen that since around... 1985! I remember thinking it was really good, but I was a spotty teenager then and I wonder if it stood the test of time.
Well it does and it doesn’t. Actually “test of time” is not quite the thing; the flaws (massive logical plot holes and a muddled overall premise including an ending that I still don’t quite get the point of) but it’s been beautifully restored and I actually watched with Tobe Hooper’s commentary (50% Tobe and 50% some film writer with a big love for the film) and this may have biased my judgement somewhat as they were really interesting and delightful in conversation)!
It LOOKS great on this restoration compared to all the times I’ve watched ropey VHS taped off the telly. Of course everyone remembers it mainly for one aspect (Mathilda May) but bear in mind you have proper thespians like Patrick Stewart and Frank Finlay in there, and the special effects stand up even today, and the cinematography and (within the limitations of a wayward screenplay) editing are top notch. It’s certainly not predictable!
Pusher trilogy currently on MUBI:
Riz Ahmed was excellent in Sound of Metal
I've been watching a few Pete Walker films too. 1970s Brit exploitation films. Interesting peep into a genre...
The Dark Mirror (1946). Somewhat silly yet brilliant “of its time” film in the then popular “cod-psychology drama” genre (see: Spellbound, Whirlpool etc). Olivia DeHavilland as identical twins, one of whom has murdered a man and both of whom won’t properly co-operate with the law who know one of them is guilty and have to enlist a psychologist to identify the guilty party because apparently you can’t just bang them both up and wait for one to crack.
Basically it’s a vehicle for DeHavilland to show off some acting skills after being released from a contract that repeatedly cast her as a simpering doormat in the wake of Gone With the Wind. And she is fantastic in the dual role; also fantastic is the camera trickery giving us plenty of scenes with two Oliviae on screen talking to each other (and a great mirror trick, possibly a blend of back projection and matting)
Watched 'au revoir les enfants' don't know how I've managed to miss this film for so long, completely brilliant.
Rewatched 'the battle for algiers'
Urge anyone to watch both..
> Watched 'au revoir les enfants' don't know how I've managed to miss this film
Possibly because it had been quite difficult (read: expensive or out of print) for a criminally long time in the UK. I got it last year on a pricey Louis Malle box set. Where did you see it?
this is a very old film I'd never seen before featuring Alec Guinness and Robert Redford from 1965.
It is quite funny in places and perhaps it might have inspired "Goodbye Lenin".
"Situation Hopeless but not Serious".
I will probably watch it again sometime. Courtesy of TalkingPicturesTV
Never heard of that, sounds interesting. The link below contains spoilers.
Ah the BFI player. A bit of a hidden gem. I had a two week trial (direct) last year and found a couple of films that I’d struggled to source for decades! (then found out that one of them had in fact had a Blu Ray release in 2018 but before THAT, it was rare )
Channel 4 did a Louis Malle season circa 1991 and the brief appearance of Irene Jacob as the piano teacher in Au Revoir, Les Enfants, inspired me to work harder on my French A level 😃
Just watched The Tree of Life. All beautifully filmed I'm sure, but essentially the bourgeois spirituality of a Chanel advert... that is 133 minutes long.
That CGI plesiosaur though! And Sean Penn entering a heavenly beach via a departure lounge iirc. I think the whole thing was done for a bet 😃
Visually it's a stunning work of art... it just smacked of phoney middle-classed spirituality, reiki classes and soy lattes! 😆
The Kremlin Letter (John Huston, 1970)
A neglected obscurity! I'd never (or "barely") heard of it until I saw the DVD in Oxfam, odd given that it's from John Huston.
To steal someone else's term, this is basically an "anti-Bond" film. Not in a Deighton / Le Carre way depicting humdrum espionage. The Kremlin Letter still has a suave super-agent (he's almost a spoof of the spoof Our Man Flint - fluent in 8 languages without a giveaway accent, and blessed with a photographic memory, and a swagger that's apparently irresistible to women) and glamourous women and a Cold War plot and some little fight and action scenes, but it's all callous, mean, mercenary and dirty. Just as it should be. Everyone has dirt on everyone, everyone has a price, everyone's selling each other out. Very interesting film and really well made, but you can see why it was a massive flop - whilst engaging, it's unappealing. But where else can you see Max von Sydow verbally sparring with Orson Welles?!
Extra bonus - they do a very smart thing to allow Russian characters played by English-speaking stars, to speak English amongst themselves whilst letting us know they are speaking Russian. I've only seen this done similarly once before, in Judgement at Nuremberg. Basically scenes start with unsubtitled Russian dialogue which slowly fades to be taken over by an English-language track. It's really well done.
Saw 'Force Majeure' last night. Embarrassed to say that not only had I never seen it before, but I'd never even heard of it. A five-star movie of great subtlety and profundity; superbly crafted and making extraordinary use of an Alpine ski resort milieu to reflect the psychological aspects of the story. Quite exceptional use of sound; beautifully shot; very, very unusual in feel. Massively thought-provoking. There's so much to say about it that I won't even start. A proper review would simply take me too long (and other things have to be done this evening!)
A great film. Bizarre sense of black comedy buried deep in the subtext, I thought. Glad you enjoyed it.
There is no rush Gordon. Excellent film with many gushing reviews here before.
Yes, exactly that. Humour so dry as to be almost invisible. It wasn't just about the protagonists' bad relationship; it seemed to be - without I hope my sounding pretentious - about the meaning of life itself, a rare thing in a movie. It managed to be a critique not just of the whole milieu of the 'skiing holiday' but of how we spend our lives in the modern western world, without being cynical - well, perhaps a little bit.
Indeed it was about a lot more than just this family!
You might appreciate Lukas Moodyson's 2010 masterpiece "Mammoth". It similarly uses some incidents in the life of a couple of families, to hold up a mirror to modern society whilst deftly managing not to preach or criticise.
It is bereft of any humour at all though!
Nomadland deserves all the praise it's been receiving. A quiet and balanced masterpiece which brought to mind - in a good way - a favourite tiny gem from 2008, "Wendy and Lucy".
> Pusher trilogy currently on MUBI:
I binge-watched these a couple of weeks ago. Wow. While I enjoy American mob dramas as much as anyone, this was in another league and perfectly depicted the criminal underworld in all its desperate, sordid, undignified ugliness. The only thing I've seen that compares is Gomorrah.
Also on MUBI, I watched Gaspar Noe's Irreversible, and wish I hadn't.
I've a soft spot for Gomorrah too.
What I liked about the Pusher trilogy is how the the vast majority of the violence and threat is only ever alluded to, until it isn't..
I remember the media hoohaa around Irreversible, still no desire to watch it
Ignore the media take on Irreversible. Try to watch it with a clean slate. if it gets too much for you, simply stop watching.
As for Gomorrah, the steward in the club where I drink is an absolute dead ringer for Don Pietro. I keep watching the door waiting for Genny and Ciro to swagger through.
Irreversible is rough, of that there's no doubt, but there's plenty of other movies that have similar levels of violence. What I think makes it so shocking is the fact that the violence is not in a horror or war or gangster setting. It's pretty much an every day life setting, with very relatable characters... and that makes it very realistic in more ways than one.
> Ignore the media take on Irreversible. Try to watch it with a clean slate. if it gets too much for you, simply stop watching.
From what I remember that won't take very long then! 😄
I suppose it depends on whether you find the quick violence of the fire extinguisher scene more shocking than the protracted subway rape scene.
Our local cinema re-opened to day and we were there for the first screening of Nomadland. To be honest, I've so missed the big screen that I would have gone to see any old shite (well, maybe not Peter Rabbit 2) but Nomadland is such a beautiful visual hymn to the majesty of the American landscape and the endurance of the human spirit that it cries out to be seen at the cinema.
I can't remember if anyone has reviewed Nomadland yet, but in case not and to maintain the proud tradition of numerical scores, mine is 9/10.
The cinematography is gorgeous. If you've ever been road-tripping in the States and sometimes found yourself a little hypnotised by the unrolling beauty of the landscape, this movie will transport you back. True, it's sometimes harsh and wintry - but there are also some entrancing evening vistas. It's a gentle and compassionate film that celebrates the power of human kindness in the face of great hardship - essentially, the 2008 crash that left so many Americans unable to support themselves in retirement. Some chose to sell their houses for whatever they could get and take to the road travelling for work where they could find it, becoming the modern nomads whose community the movies celebrates. One of their real-life activists - Bob Wells - figures in the movie and gives a particularly moving speech about his personal tragedy and search for meaning that is one of the emotional high points.
In keeping with the film's quiet - sometimes elegiac - tone, McDormand gives a marvellously restrained performance, telling in its fine detail, which includes a lovely casual rendition of a Shakespeare sonnet. (Having performed CXVI at a mate's wedding, I'm fascinated by how the pros tackle these and the sad truth is that they're often badly over-thesped. This one does not disappoint.) She is one of the few actors in the whole film, since this is a docufiction where most of the characters are real-life nomads "playing" themselves. I felt it was cleverly stitched together with enough narrative impetus to keep one moving across the state lines.
This is a widescreen windscreen on the beauty of the American roads and the souls who travel them. If you're thinking about getting back to the cinema, it's the perfect opportunity.
I praised it briefly and have stopped my "marks out of ten system" because people seemed to dislike the latter, and my ramblings have usually gone unnoticed at best. I thought it was fab.
Is "docufiction" a real word and genre? I was wondering how this film could be described, and "docudrama" was not accurate.
If you haven't seen it, I really do recommend Kelly Reichardt's 2008 film "Wendy and Lucy" which I mentioned above; also Marc Singer's 2000 documentary "Dark Days". They weave into a certain North American narrative that Nomadland belongs to.
I might go and watch Nomadland again (against all expectations, my Cineworld Unlimited membership card reactivated smoothly and automatically! And my local - an 8 minute walk from my sofa - is showing it AND Judas and the Black Messiah! I thought it was going to be all Mortal Kombat, Peter Rabbit 2, and Godzilla vs Kong)
I like the marks out of ten and always enjoy the "ramblings." I've only come across the term docufiction recently but it seems to fit Nomadland well. Thank goodness the big screen is back.
Thanks! Maybe there is a silent majority or minority on marks out of ten! Most comments addressing it, say they didn't like it.
Maybe ignore such comments. I always enjoy your ramblings and thought your scores were always interesting (talking about art, like the works themselves shouldn't be boring). These threads have really contributed to my choice of viewing and thoughts around what I've seen.
"The Legend of Ben Hall" is a wellmade Australian film about a real life bushranger. It was perhaps over long but had beautiful scenic shots and some good action sequences. I read somewhere that the film's authenticity was its strong point even down to the actors being chosen because of their similar appearance to surviving images of the outlaws which might explain what I thought was its weak point.
Watched 'One False Move' this week. Never seen it before...90s gem with Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton. Recommended by critic David Thomson.
Really terrific, nail biting watch and a reminder of what an underated actor Paxton was.
Looking to check out Carl Franklin's other works now.
Nomadland is on the list!
Judas and the Black Messiah. Absolutely brilliant. Interesting to see that the two leads were both nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar (Kaluuya winning, in a more obvious and showy performance, whilst Stanfield IMHO did the heavy lifting, but I can't deny that Kaluuya was brilliant).
Really interesting piece of history, especially in the wake of George Floyd's murder almost exactly a year ago). A film to watch alongside Spike Lee's Black KKKlansman and Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit, and also to some extent Mike Newell's Donnie Brasco. It's certainly one of the best "reluctant undercover" films I've seen, especially because in this case the undercover work seems to conflict with the character's own position in life. And Stanfield's eye-acting conveys this brilliantly.
the direction and editing/structure and cinematography are spot on, and the whole flow is coherent with maybe one minor lull toward the end, yet it also manages to insert certain key "acting showcase" scenes without them making it feel disjointed. All quiet talk pieces, one-on-ones or three in a room. One featuring the mighty Jesse Plemons, Martin Sheen and "American Roger Allam" Robert Longstreet, is proper fist-chewingly awkward uneasiness...
Those Who Wish Me Dead.
More straightforward non-pretentious solid (if somewhat "high end B-movie" standard, with a few somewhat preposterous aspects) storytelling from Taylor Sheridan (wrote both Sicario films and Hell or High Water, and wrote and directed Wind River and Those Who Wish Me Dead).
Via convoluted circumstances, a perpetually glam Angelina Jolie (very good in this; I can't remember the last time I even bothered watching her in a straight acting role in a proper film) finds herself escorting a 12-year-old murder witness through the forest, hunted down by vicious assassins and with a huge forest fire approaching.
That's the plot premise in a nutshell. As I said, preposterous - yet somehow enjoyable for it. I've said before that I quite like these sorts of high-end unpretentious B-movies (Brooklyn's Finest being a milestone for me). Solidly made, compelling enough stories, and nobody trying to win any awards. This fits right into all that.
Where it shines is in its brutal efficiency (and indeed its brutality, which manages to never be gratuitous). We are given very few details about the larger plot to bog us down, we just know our antagonists are paid assassins trying to bury the evidence of some sort of financial wrongdoing. Jolie's character is supposed to have some mental trauma relating to her perceived failure to deal with a forest fire a year ago but this is simply a device to get her working alone in an isolated tower.
At 100 minutes, it's quite lean although maybe this forces some of the necessarily expository dialogue to feel rushed or forced. Like her very rapid bonding with the kid.
What's most preposterous though, is the aforementioned perpetual glam. She never has a hair or eyelash out of place, and her lipgloss and foundation don't run, despite:
falling about 12 metres to the forest ground; getting struck by lightning; getting repeatedly punched in the face; being perilously close to a forest inferno; hiding underwater. Fantastic stuff
Performances very good all round, I think it's the first time that Jon Bernthal didn't annoy the crap out of me, not that I have seen him in a lot of stuff (weirdly this is his second violent film centring around forensic accountancy, after, er, The Accountant )
I see that BBC iPlayer is currently facilitating your viewing pleasure of “Tulip Fever”
This film received my only ever 1/10 score. Cats (2019) managed 4/10
You know what to do...
It was a simple concept: invite 100 women trad climbers to a week-long meet to celebrate the centenary of the Pinnacle Club. And the venue had to be North Wales: the club held its inaugural meeting in 1921 at the Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel below...