felicityking: (clouds and flowers)
Newest to oldest, per usual.

For Lovers Only. WOO HOO! THE BIG 5-0! And what a film to celebrate it with! This film is what "Before Sunset" should have been. Two lovers are reunited in Paris after many years and fall in love again. It's a simple film, it's a lush film, and it's very intimate film. Not intimate in an uncomfortable way, but Michael Polish, the director, is very successful in making you feel like you are peeping in on the lives of these lovers. (Yes, the reviews say that, but it's true!) This film is an indie's indie and it shines it every scene. Also, while the film homages the French Wave it isn't neccesary to watch FW cinema to appreciate the delights of this little picture. My only nitpick was with the soundtrack. Everything from score to song was good but sometimes it was a little too on-the-nose (ruining subtle moments here and there in an otherwise flawless film). The ending is ambiguous, but I like it. (It does hint in one direction, but it also open-ended enough to allow the viewer to interpret it).

Taketori Monogatari (Princess from the Moon) Criterion, WTF? There's fluff, and then there's cheese, and this was cheese at its finest. Yes, it's Japanese and based on mythology....but it's cheese. It's like one of those movies you find on SyFy during the middle of the night: not bad but not good and the special effects are so obvious and low budget that you laugh.. The story is about a couple who daughter comes from the moon and how the village becomes obsessed with her. It's just....Really? Seriously, Criterion? If this had been produced by Hollywood, you wouldn't have slapped your high-brow label on it. Who bribed you to get it included on the label?

Thunderpants. This movie has the dumbest premise ever: so much so that if Rupert Grint wasn't it, I would never have watched it in the first place. And, yet, I'm spent the majority of it in tears. Here's the plotline: Patrick farts and farts since birth, all the time. His friend, Allan, is a genius with no sense of smell. Together they plot to make dreams come true. It should have been the dumbest, most embarassing movie ever...but instead, I was bawling at Patrick feeling ostracized at school, at home, being used by adults, and just plain feeling hated by the world--even by Allan (mini-Sherlock Holmes shall we say?). This movie had NO RIGHT to make me feel so emotional but it did. Despite the stupidity of it's plot, it did have a great message for socially awkward kids and the darker undertones give it a gravity. BUT STILL! Bawling over a ridiculous kids flick? I need to go throw myself off a building.

Sanma no aji (An Autumn Afternoon). I LOVE THIS FILM! I wasn't even going to watch, but I forced myself. I thought "yeah you're tired of watching high-brow classics and want to watch fluffy shit, but this is not easily accessible. Watch it!" I'm glad I did it is one of the most beautiful, most enchanting, most amazing films I've ever seen. It's a Japanese film not about much--just about love and marriage, family and friendship, the passage of time and getting old--but it's just breathtaking. The scenery porn is particularly gasp worthy. Everything is so flawlessly synchronized from the set design to the costumes but it's not cloying. I love this little film! If I ever have more money, I plan on buying it!

Vivement dimanche! (Confidentially Yours). Truffaut's swansong was a homage to Hitchcock, and oh what a homage it is! Apparently, Traffaut was an expert on Hitch and it shows in every frame of the film. A man is suspected of murdering his wife and her lover. His secretary gets entangled and decides to prove the man is innocent. This is a suspenseful who-done-it and I really enjoyed every minute of it. Also, I fully approve of the use of black-and-white here. It isn't pretentious because the film is shot as though it is an early Hitch film. In fact, there were times where I had to remind myself that it wasn't lost Hitchcock and the story does take place in the 1980s. Lots of fun!

Valerie a týden divů (Valerie and Her Week of Wonders). My first Czech film. Imagine Marc Chagall's art: enchanting, beautiful, but often strange fairytales and you have this film. It concerns the coming-of-age of a girl named Valerie, but beyond that I couldn't really explain it. It is amazing though! Despite being obviously low-budget, every scene looks like a painting. Apparently, this director of this film is part of the Czech New Wave, but it differs from the French in that it is about "long unscripted dialogues, dark and absurd humour, and the casting of non-professional actors." (per wiki) Back to the film: while it's not my favorite film of the year, I think it is one I'll definitely want to see again in the future for all the scenery.

Akasen Chitai (Street of Shame). While I'm enjoying my French and Swedish film education, it occurred to me I haven't seen any Asian cinema. Fortunately, Criterion came to the rescue. This Japanese film classic concerns the intersecting lives of 4 prostitutes, and how they suffer when the government passes a law banning the trade. It was quietly heartbreaking but still powerful. Also, the score is one of the most original I've ever heard. Despite it's otherworldly, fantasy (think "The Twilight Zone") overtones, it worked for the film.

L'argent (Money). My first Robert Bresson film. Hulu is making me realize just how lazy a cinemaphile I am! Even though he's considered one of the most important French directors of all time, I hadn't heard of him until I watched this. Influenced by the New Wave, Bresson's film has a bare, minimalist style. I really enjoyed this film although it was quite harrowing and terrible to watch. Based on Tolstoy short, the plot concerns the interconnected lives of those involoved with a counterfeit banknote. It truly is a tragedy about an innocent man lost in, and corrupted by, the system that works against him. And I'll never view Paris the same way again! Bresson reveal the unglamourous, gritty, suburban side of it. Yet, it is not an ugly film. (Well, my POV. I can find beauty in mundane, forgettable things.) Also, it took me an hour before I realized this film has NO score. Yet it works fine without it because the acting, editing, and cinematography is so compelling (nothing is wasted).

Immortal Beloved. A nearly flawless film that is a sympathetic portrait of a prickly genius. Like The Virgin Spring, this mesmerizing film is able to show beauty and serene alongside scenes of unflinching brutality and horror. While it does severely overreach (no one knows the identity of Beethoven's Immortal Beloved, and the film's conclusion of who it is is very laughable.) The period drama porn from costumes to scenery to set is just beyond amazing. This film is very underrated. What is particularly well-done is showing how Beethoven was affected by his deafness and how that affected his music and relationships.

Anemic Cinema. A strange surrealist short by Marcel Duchamp. A series of French puns alongside concentric, spinning circles. It actually reminded me of The Twilight Zones's opening credits. The circles were nice...but watching so many in a row made me feel dizzy.

The Fisher King. "You think it's easy being nuts? Try being me!" screams former shock jock Jack to Perry, a "nice psychotic" homeless man who believes knights exist and Jack is there on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Terry Gilliam isn't a filmmaker for everyone, but what I appreciate about his films is that he celebrates the social awkward, the seedy, the Luna Lovegoods. This film is slow to yield its fruit, but it does. It about the powers of story, mythology, to help us find redemption and make sense of our lives.

Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows). GAH! THIS FILM IS SOUL-CRUSHING! I'm not a fan of woebegone teen movies. I find the genre overdramatic and calculated. However, this film drew me in. François Truffaut's story follows a lost, confused, disillusioned adolescent boy. His angst works because we see how he is neglected at home, encouraged to thievery by his friends, and treated harshly by teachers at school: and it is always contextualized but never in a forceful way. This film is gritty but not pretentious due to its realism as well as its moments of humour. Its sadness is profound but not in an ironic, distancing way but rather in a 'this is just the way it is' way.
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