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Screening Log 2006 - What did you watch this week?
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Mark Dujsik
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: 03.15.2006 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Dusk Till Dawn (Rodriguez, 1996)

The Hills Have Eyes (Aja, 2006)

History of the World: Part I (Brooks, 1981)

The Last House on the Left (Craven, 1972)

No Substitute for Victory (Slatzer, 1970)

Serenity (Whedon, 2005)

Stand by Me (Reiner, 1986)



No Substitute for Victory is a "docudrama" hosted by John Wayne featuring interviews with military men who argue the Vietnam War is a losing one because the politicians want it to be. Horribly biased and unintentionally funny, the movie actually feels relevant in today's climate, though.



I love Stand by Me for its honesty.



I guess you can consider me a fan of Serenity. I missed "Firefly" on TV, but I want to check it out on DVD now.



I'm very torn on The Last House on the Left. There's something to be said about the fact that I actually wanted the killers to get theirs, and Craven doesn't linger too much on the depravity. Some of it is still uncomfortable, though, in terms of the latter, especially in terms of the two cops, who just about ruin whatever effect he's going for.



I'm getting tired of horror movies, and The Hills Have Eyes and my reaction to it are good evidence. The movie is well made, sometimes frightening, sometimes sick, but I simply don't care either way.



From Dusk Till Dawn is an awesome midnight movie. I hadn't seen it since it first came out, so it was a pleasant surprise.



Brooks hasn't made a funny movie since Silent Movie, and History of the World is a lot less funny than I remember it being as a teenager.
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10 Best Films of 2006



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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.19.2006 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/27 ? 3/19/06



Over the last three weeks, in preferential order:



Girl Shy / Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor / USA / 1924

Michael / Carl Theodor Dreyer / Germany / 1924

Transporter 2 / Louis Leterrier / USA / 2005

Save the Green Planet! / Jeong Jun-Hwan / South Korea / 2003

Lila Says / Ziad Doueiri / France / 2004

Lord of War / Andrew Niccol / USA / 2005

The Tracker / Rolf de Heer / Australia / 2002

Needful Things / Fraser C. Heston / USA / 1993

Without a Paddle / Steven Brill / USA / 2004

Lock Up / John Flynn / USA / 1989



Girl Shy is one of Harold Lloyd's most endearing features. Can't believe I waited so long to catch up with it.



In Dreyer?s Michael, the famous artist Zoret welcomes Michael, a young male model, under his wing. But when the young man takes up with a beautiful countess, the aging master paints a canvas called "Suffering," wills his estate to Michael, curls up in bed, and dies. Although its notions about art and class are strictly Victorian, the expressionist visuals?the interiors were photographed by Karl Freund?and gay sensitivities are thoroughly modern. An early American print translated the title into Chained: The Story of the Third Sex, which might hint at the story's bisexual love triangle, but really doesn't do justice to the subtleties Dreyer brings to the subjects of unrequited love, sacrifice, and artistic accomplishment. Worthy of note: As a story about gay romance suppressed by social forces for a lifetime, it predates Brokeback Mountain by, oh, about 80 years.



Believing that a powerful CEO is actually an alien with plans of destroying Earth, a mentally unstable man kidnaps and tortures him. Like most South Korean thrillers, Save the Green Planet! is brimming with ultra-violence?a remnant of that region's long-standing affinity for melodrama?and anti-authoritarian themes. Still, the movie carries an unmistakable anti-violence message; it might be the most gruesome pacifist movie I've ever seen. It's all a little shopworn, but it's reasonably clever and never dull.



Say what you will be about the disposable Transporter movies? I would trade all of Lock-Up for how Transporter 2 cleverly choreographs a water hose into an effective weapon.
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 03.20.2006 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

13/03/06 - 20/03/06

Matango (dir. Ishiro Honda, 1963)*

Return of the Blind Dead (dir. Amando de Ossorio, 1973)

Memories of Murder (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2003)

A Tale of Two Sisters (dir. Kim Ji-woon, 2003)

Patlabor 2: The Movie (dir. Mamoru Oshii, 1993)*

The Thing from another World (dir. Christian Nyby, 1956)

Fear X (dir. Nicholas Winding Refn, 2003)*



Surprisingly little viewing this week. Not wishing to make a big issue of this, but I was diagnosed with osteoporosis a few day ago, so I've found it difficult sometimes to pay attention to the television. That said, here's my analysis of this week's movies.



Matango is a suprising change of pace for the creator of Godzilla (Gojira to the initiated), and concerns a crew of selfish young people who find themselves stranded on a tropical island. With food supplies dwindling and tensions always on the edge of exploding into violence, they're forced to consume a wild mushroom. Honda turns Gilligan's Island into a prototype-Cronenberg vision of hell in a film that has to rank as one of the most unique sci-fi/horrors of the sixties.



I'm normally a big fan of Oshii, but Patlabor 2 just didn't draw me in. The plot- big business fabricates a terrorist threat in order to force the Japanese military-industrial complex into overdrive- is certainly relevant 13 years on (perhaps more so than it was in 1993), but it's rather lifeless and slow.



I'm still not sure what to think of Fear X. It's well constructed and interesting throughout, but I'm not sure what it adds to the existing (and growing) catalogue of films about obsessed detectives. It's better than The Pledge though.



Memories of Murder is still fantastic, mind you. I'll be handing over a review soon (I planned to do one in 2004, mind you).
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 03.20.2006 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry to hear about your bad news, Jim. Keep us updated on your health.



V for Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2006) - Certainly a more thoughtful movie than I expected, although I did have some problems with it. For instance, would the British population really accept a government that so clearly recalls the Nazis, both in image and demeanor? And though I haven?t read Alan Moore?s graphic novel, the story?s paranoia seems better-fitted as a denunciation of 20th century British Thatcherism (at least, what I?ve read about it) than the current Bush administration. The Wachowsky Bros?s retooling of the subtext seems a tad overwrought. Furthermore, their tendency to adopt the current decade?s most unpopular issues in the US as the primary targets of the totalitarian government -- namely, homosexuality and Islam -- struck me as heavy-handed, but also threatens to severely date the movie in just a few years time. (Had this been made twenty-five years ago, we?d probably have seen interracial couples and rock music targeted by the powers-that-be.) Also, I?m a little tired of fiction that takes critical aim at ?the Church,? but doesn?t have the nerve bring theistic belief itself into account, as well. On the other hand, there?s an awful lot to like here, not the least of which is Hugo Weaving?s grand performance as the terrorist / social liberator V, who manages to convey the gamut of human emotion while hidden behind a sardonically grinning mask. John Hurt is a wonderful Orwellian figure; with his swollen pupils he looks poised to devour society with his eyes. Natalie Portman is great too, although her character?s progress tends to lurch forward in the movie?s first half. I also liked the costume designs, which was a convincing projection of near-future dystopiate fashion. All-in-all, V for Vendetta is feels more like 70s philosophical science fiction than the obnoxious action movie it?s being marketed as.



Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962) - One of my favorite supernatural horror movies. Like Detour, it overcomes the limitations of its budget and the performances of its cast to achieve a whole that is greater than its parts. There are some startling images that even today, and after four viewings, still deliver a delightful sense of frisson. But its portrayal of alienation, both social and of the self, revealed within the interactions between Mary and her across-the-hall neighbor John Linden, is its psychological anchor. The dialogue between these two, while not sterling, strikes an awkward sort of authenticity. How did two educational and industrial film makers manage find such genuine notes of desperation and loneliness? Perhaps it was never their intention. You can?t make a good movie by accident, but can you make an effective one if by failing to meet your intentions you touch upon a higher truth? I?d like to find out. The edition I have is of the el cheapo bargain bin variety (the print used for the DVD contains an intrusively inserted title card during the credits that declares the movie we?re watching is Corridors or Evil), but I?m saving up my nickels to get the Criterion Collection edition to hear Harvey and Clifford describe their creative processes. When approaching Carnival, potential viewers must be aware that the movie requires the individual to offer as much to the story as the movie provides. Perhaps more. Indeed, actively picking up and running with threads, and finding invisible connections within the narrative, is probably the best way to watch supernatural horror. This movie certainly supplies each viewer countless opportunities to do so.



3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves, 1957) - Interesting atypical western. Almost film noirish in many ways. Instead of a rugged, morally sure-footed hero we?re given a doubtful rancher out of his league and only in it for the money. Instead of gun fights we?re given psychological drama. Instead of action, suspense. All of these alternate elements work superbly to the movie?s advantage. It?s too bad the ending is just kinda lame. Still, definitely worth checking out.



The Hills Have Eyes (Alexandre Aja, 2006) - There?s a forty-minute stretch through the middle that?s genuinely tense, suspenseful, and, yes, horrifying. And, unexpectedly, the movie boasts one really outstanding performance -- Dan Byrd, as the teenage son who must take control after his father disappears. It?ll get ignored, of course, because it?s stuck in an aught-year horror remake, and because the book-ends of the running time are pretty much exactly what you?d expect from such a movie -- either routine formality or mind-numbingly loud, hyperactive, and overblown. Still, anyone planning on seeing it will probably get something out of it, although I doubt I?d recommend it to someone without an initial interest.



The Ice Harvest (Harrold Ramis, 2006) - Funny, but also a solid, straightforward neo-noir about very bad people on a night when their deceit finally catches up with them. The coda is a bit of a cop-out, I think, although the first alternate ending found on the disc?s extras follows the way it should have gone. Definitely worth seeing.



Long Dream / Nagai yume (Higuchinsky, 2000) - Goofy, sometimes unintentionally funny flick from Team Higuchinsky-Ito that?s nonetheless a lot of fun in a wonky, Outer Limits kind of way. I am halfway convinced that the movie cheats, however: based on what is revealed at the end, how can the focus-shift to the doctor?s prot?g? in the second half of the story be justified?



Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001) - Fifth time. Just doesn?t get old.



The Ocean Waves / Umi ga kikoeru (Tomomichi Mochizuki, 1993) - A non-fantasy film from Studio Ghibli with a surprisingly edgy story. We have a high school girl whose deceit and manipulation is a manifestation of her desperate loneliness and emotional abandonment, and a boy who goes out of his way for her because he likes her and is too inexperienced and naive to realize he ought to be very angry with her. There?s a gritty, painful truth in the confused behavior and the uneven responses of the characters to one another. But the limp-wristed ending wants to wrap everything up with an abominably unsatisfying ?time heals all wounds? sentiment, which had me throwing my hands up in frustration. I do, however, really like anime dramas, and hope to see more.
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 03.20.2006 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I'm sorry to hear about your bad news, Jim. Keep us updated on your health.




Thank you, will do.



the night watchman wrote:
[Long Dream / Nagai yume (Higuchinsky, 2000) - Goofy, sometimes unintentionally funny flick from Team Higuchinsky-Ito that?s nonetheless a lot of fun in a wonky, Outer Limits kind of way. I am halfway convinced that the movie cheats, however: based on what is revealed at the end, how can the focus-shift to the doctor?s prot?g? in the second half of the story be justified?




It doesn't stand up to close scrutiny, does it? Like most Japanese TV projects it's hampered by a non-existent budget, although to the credit of Higuchinsky and his crew it looks better than many similar efforts I've seen. Takashi Shimizu directed an instalment of the same series of Ito adaptations, but I doubt it's as good as this one.



Aside from Uzumaki, he's only done Long Dream and one other feature, which seems a great shame to me since he's got a flair for the weird and wonderful.
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Mark Dujsik
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Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: 03.21.2006 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Night Watch (Bekmambetov, 2006)

16 Blocks (Donner, 2006)

V for Vendetta (McTeigue, 2006)



Pretty good week in terms of content.



Night Watch is insanely odd but highly entertaining. I'm eagerly anticipating the next installments.



16 Blocks has some nice character elements that really boost the film.



I haven't seen such an outright politically charged and angry Hollywood film as V for Vendetta. It's an entirely idea-driven film but enthralling in its presentation of those ideas.



Jim, hope everything turns out alright. I wish you the best.
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10 Best Films of 2006



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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 03.21.2006 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:
Not wishing to make a big issue of this, but I was diagnosed with osteoporosis a few day ago, so I've found it difficult sometimes to pay attention to the television.




I'm deeply sorry to hear that, Jim. Like NW said, keep us updated on your health.



Quote:
Memories of Murder is still fantastic, mind you. I'll be handing over a review soon (I planned to do one in 2004, mind you).




I'm also a big fan of Memories of Murder, and I look forward to your review.
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j miller
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PostPosted: 03.26.2006 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

V for Vendetta

Inside Man



Both films were very good.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.27.2006 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3/20 ? 3/26



Eat the Document / Bob Dylan / USA / 1972

Undead / The Spierig Brothers / Australia / 2003



Dylan?s tour diary of his 1966 trek through Europe is a rambling, discursive, jittery account that is closer in spirit to drug-addled poetry than to conventional documentary. In this case, that isn?t a plus?Dylan?s visual puke makes Undead, a zombie movie that only masquerades as something more than routine, seem coherent.



Sorry to hear about the diagnosis, Jim. Will it require major changes in your diet or physical activities? Like NW said, keep us posted.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 03.27.2006 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mortuary (Tobe Hooper, 2005) - Well, maybe Hooper?s only able to hit his stride once every decade. Of course, this movie's failure is not his sole responsibility: he?s working with a script that just doesn?t do anything interesting. Mortuary shares even less resemblance to its source than did Toolbox Murders, but unlike Toolbox, this one only makes a few jabs toward genuine characterization and mystery before it goes straight to paint-by-numbers. Skip it.



Capote (Bennet Miller, 2005) - Still catching up with all the Best Picture nominees, but so far every one of them has been really good. The emotional gamut Capote runs is astonishing. Like Crash and Munich, it refuses to give us a typical good guy / bad guy dichotomy, and leaves us to understand each character on his own terms. For me, the film took on special relevance in its exploration of the mind of the artist. Significantly, the killer Percy Smith is a portraitist of great talent and skill. As an individual, he displays genuine intelligence, hampered only by his lack of education. In his own way, he is Truman?s equal. Truman?s metaphorical description of he and Perry growing up ?in the same house, and one day he went out the back door and I went out the front" is as profound an observation as I?ve ever heard.



Howl?s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2005) - This is visually delightful and conceptually interesting -- no one does magic better than Miyazaki -- but the storyline and characters didn?t engage me as much as they do in his other films. I can?t for the life of me explain why.



Marebito (Takashi Shimizu, 2004) - It?s rare for a movie you?ve been anticipating for so long to live up to your expectations, but Marebito is a wonderful success. Few movies focus on Lovecraft?s pure sense of existential dread to the near exclusion of any other narrative element. The film keeps an even keel of dread and mystery up to its perfect final image. I was also delighted to see referenced Richard Shaver?s hollow-earth ?stories.? (They weren?t fictions to him: Shaver believed every word he wrote.) Tomomi Miyashita?s flawless performance as the ?stranger,? her movements like a combination of dog and spider, combined with her ethereal beauty, is the film?s centerpiece. After watching Marebito, I?m disappointed Shimizu?s next movie is going to be the third (or fifth? or sixth?) installment of the Ju-On series.



Halloween II (Rick Rosenthal, 1981) - In a perfect world, Halloween would have never spawned sequels. It?s a campfire story, and its logic doesn?t need (nor, for that matter, can it support) further elucidation, so it?s probably no wonder that the franchise is the most mediocre in all of slasherdom. To be honest, in my teens and early twenties, I actually kind of liked this first sequel. My appreciation for it, however, has steadily dwindled over the years. Viewed today, what once seemed surreal and hauntingly inexplicable now smacks of slapdash plotting. Worse, the more explicit and elaborate moments and graphic violence both conflict with the nature of The Shape and work to cheapen the movie as a whole. I think it?s time to retire this one from my re-watch list.



Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Joe Chappelle, 1995) - This late sequel tries to round out the druid subplot initiated in Halloween II, and while it?s all absolutely nonsensical, I do appreciate the attempt to eschew the typical horny-teens-getting-slaughtered anti-plot in favor of an actual storyline. While it is painful to watch a clearly ailing Donald Pleasence struggle through each of his scenes, I did appreciate this silly mumbo-jumbo more than endless mediocrity of parts four and five, and far more than the dreary and ill-named Halloween Resurrection. It's not a good movie, but it's far from the worst of the bunch.



Three...Extremes (Fruit Chan, Park Chanwook, Miike Takashi, 2004) - Chan?s ?Dumplings? is quiet, beautifully photographed, and the most genuinely horrific and horrifying piece of cinema I?ve seen in a while. It?s ironic that those viewers who would embrace its subtext would also be the ones most likely to condemn it on grounds of decency. I guess that?s the reason why art tends to be liberal. In Chanwook?s ?Cut,? a film extra kidnaps a director and forces him to make a terrible choice involving the fate of the director?s wife and a child. It has its moments, but a set-up like this often relies on contrivances to save the plot from becoming repetitive, which dulls the story?s dramatic and psychological impact. Miike?s ?Box? is a poem of guilt, shame and need, that all join together into mystical redemption, which, perhaps, only the individual suffering from these specific malaise would call peace. Two out of three ain?t bad.



Shallow Ground (Sheldon Wilson, 2004) - An intriguing set-up slides into weird supernatural events that, I?m almost positive, don?t quite add up. Or, rather, while I understand the purpose of the entity?s presence, I am unclear as to what catalyst is responsible for its manifestation. Perhaps there is no catalyst; maybe it?s a product of spiritual spontaneous generation. That would at least explain the very last scene. In any event, it?s a reasonably well-acted and well-made low-budget horror flick. At the very least, writer/director Wilson doesn?t settle for worn-out convention.
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 03.29.2006 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3/20 - 3/26



Domino (Scott, 2005)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Newell, 2005)

Orgazmo (Parker, 1997)



Tony Scott is really getting out of hand. Domino isn't as mishmashed as Man on Fire, but it's a shame he takes a pretty interesting story and messes it up.



Still a fan of the latest Harry Potter. Probably the best one next to Chamber of Secrets, but I'm still holding out for a great Potter film.



Orgazmo is full of obvious jokes--some of them hit, most of them sink.
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 03.30.2006 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

20/03/06 - 30/03/06

Untold Scandal (dir. Lee Je-yong, 2003)*

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (dir. Scott Derrickson, 2005)*

Island of Terror (dir. Terence Fisher, 1966)

Village of the Damned (dir. Wolf Rilla, 1960)

Quatermass and the Pit (dir. Roy Ward Baker, 1967)

Dominion: The Prequel to ?The Exorcist? (dir. Paul Schrader, 2005)*

Millennium Actress (dir. Satoshi Kon, 2001)

Nos miran/They?re Watching (dir. Norberto Lopez Amado, 2003)

The Thing (dir. John Carpenter, 1982)

Ju-on: The Grudge (dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2002)

Ju-on 1 & 2 (dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2000)

The Grudge (dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2005)

Shibuya Kaidan (The Locker) 1 & 2 (dir. Kei Horie, 2004)

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2003)



Very little new this week.



Untold Scandal is a fine South Korean period rendition of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. With something like this you don't expect stunning originality, but this is still an excellent version of the tale, well-acted and every bit as witty as Dangerous Liaisons. Worth tracking down if you're a fan.



As everyone pointed out, The Exorcism of Emily Rose definitely isn't a horror film, although it's occasionally chilling. Nonetheless it's a decent film that explores the ethic issues without getting bogged down in them or immediately taking the 'Satan-is-real' way out.



Dominion complements Harlin's film pretty well, and I'm glad I got the chance to see them both. I'm not sure which I prefer- there are times when I'm just in the mood for a ludicrously overblown and nasty film- but I did appreciate Schrader's political commentary and his attempts at developing an atmosphere of tension and unease.



Thank you for your concern guys, I really appreciate it. Currently I'm waiting for the analysis of the results to come through, so we can see how far the condition has progressed. Needless to say, the results are late.
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Balthazor
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PostPosted: 04.05.2006 11:10 pm    Post subject: Hooray for useful contributions. Reply with quote

This week I got around to watching two movies: La Promesse and Bande a Part



La Promesse was quite good. It was one of those movies that one spent most of the time in horror of the son's life. However, in the end he acts in a way that many people would consider heroic. As a side note, one of my favorite parts of the movie was something sort of tangental. I enjoyed, primarily, the bad vision of the father: I felt that his glasses were almost symbolic of the child in that he does need his child to see, a great deal. I felt what occurs to the man's glasses towards the end is equally important, and says alot about the fact that this man may finally understand himself to be the leech that he is on the small society that he holds realm over.



Bande A Part was tragic as well(this time the crime is an explicit crime, robbery, not implicit misconduct and cheating carried by the way the man in the previous film I talked about), but at the same time this tension was belittled at many different occasions by the narrator. The dead-pan wit of the narrator as well as some of the comments he mentions, by undercutting many dramatic points, created to me a general sense of the futility of the characters involved and also felt similar to the feeling one has when reading the story of a particularily stupid criminal: one both pities their plight and wishes to ridicule them at the same time.



This weekend promises to be a good time to get a good deal of films watched that I've been meaning to for awhile.
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 04.16.2006 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

31/03/06 - 15/04/06

Kairo (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001)

Attack of the Crab Monsters (dir. Roger Corman, 1957)*

Whisper of the Heart (dir. Yoshifumi Kondo, 1995)*

My Neighbour Totoro (dir. Hiyao Miyazaki, 1988)*

Blow-Up (dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)*

Premonition (dir. Norio Tsuruta, 2004)

Nightmare (dir. Byeong-ki Ahn, 2000)

Zoroku?s Disease (dir. Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, 2004)*

Ghost Actress (dir. Hideo Nakata, 1996)

Dark Water (dir. Hideo Nakata, 2002)

Creep (dir. Christopher Smith, 2004)

Dagon (dir. Stuart Gordon, 2001)

2LDK (dir. Yukihiko Tsutsumi, 2003)

Saw II (dir. Darren Lynn Bousman, 2005)*

The Toolbox Murders (dir. Tobe Hooper, 2003)

Secret Window (dir. David Koepp, 2004)

The Premonition/Svart Lucia (dir. Rumle Hammerich, 1992)

A Child?s Game (dir. Laurent Tuel, 2001)*

Das Boot (dir. Wolfgang Petersen, 1981)



Best film: Whisper of the Heart. Great film. Not quite as incredible as Only Yesterday, but an excellent work nonetheless. My Neighbour Totoro was good, but paled a little besides Whisper.



Runner-up: Attack of the Crab Monsters. Heh, lots of fun.



Worst film: Zoroku's Disease. Another disappointing instalment in the 'Hideshi Hino Horror Theatre'.



Saw II is pretty poor. The first wasn't amazing, but it better-written than this. A Child's Game is a French supernatural chiller that does what it does fairly well, but without a shred of originality.



I'll probably get speared for this, but Blow-Up just wasn't very interesting. Didn't make much of an impact at all.[/i]
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 04.18.2006 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:


I'll probably get speared for this, but Blow-Up just wasn't very interesting. Didn't make much of an impact at all.




Blow-Up is a movie I really want to like more than I actually do. I love the premise (sort of an anti-mystery), but, meh. I thought the ending was too self-conscious.
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