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Added by Uncreative Name on 18 Aug 2012 03:11
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August 2012 Film Journal

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Cinema

People who added this item 620 Average listal rating (376 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3


August 11th - Beasts of the Southern Wild tells the tale of marginalized individuals living in an unincorporated community from the eyes of a little girl named Hushpuppy. With a huge flood devastating their community and her father dying Benh Zeitlin could have easily slipped into a heavy handed neo-realist approach and show the difficulties that she faces, but right from the start he injects magic realism that Hushpuppy sees the world. From the definition those two things couldn't be more polar opposites, but Zeitlin is able to combine those two to create a sort of visual hybrid. There is the graininess of a 16mm camera, jarring camera movements and a fascination with worn faces that creates an intimacy with these characters, but there is also a poetic voice over, lyrical cinematography, ethereal score and CGI monsters that makes their world larger than life. The results are aesthetically audacious with visual metaphors and a bombardment of haunting poetic images, but despite the magical perspective of a child it can never totally eradicate the struggle.

The performances from the untrained and untested actors are quite affective and help to build the realism even further. Dwight Henry is a little too big at times delivering a too much of his dialog in yells, but he has a type of physicality whenever he is on screen that makes up for those moments. Of course there has been tons of talk about Quvenzhané Wallis and all of that is rightly earned. She truly is a force of nature giving intense and determined looks that I didn't even think was possible in a child that young. She is a revelation and a conduit where all the emotion in the film flows. Through her Benh Zeitlin focuses his visual ingenuity to build to wonderfully explosive emotional moments that strike at you like bolts of lightening.

I am a huge admirer of auteurs and always want to see directors leave their fingerprints on their films, but I do think there are times when Benh Zeitlin needed to pull back some. Beasts of the Southern Wild is beautiful and Zeitlin enthusiasm of these people and this community is undeniable, but there are times where he needed to be more patient. There are some moments where a sequence needed more time to breath or an emotional reaction needed to be expanded upon. The original score is quite affecting and is a big asset to the film, but Zeitlin does over score some scenes. There were moments where silence or quietness would have said more than the score could. I think these are more the marks of Benh Zeitlin being a young director and the fact he was so bold in his debut feature film. This type of imaginative composition and wondrous heart is part of a rousing debut, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and multiple awards at Cannes.
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People who added this item 929 Average listal rating (560 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
The Master (2012)


August 17th - I was very lucky to catch The Master in a special screening in 70mm in Chicago, and I must say it did not disappoint. From the technical aspects to the writing to the performances, no other contemporary director is more skilled than Paul Thomas Anderson at weaving all of these into the rich fabric of cinema and he proves that once again in The Master. It is tough to really give justice to what the film is about with a short synopsis or basing it upon only the subject matter it touches on. I honestly think it is best to go into the film as blind as you can and I am thankful I got a chance to see it before what I am sure will be a considerable buzz when it starts to roll out. Like all of Anderson's films it is a multi-layered tale filled with the complexities of the human condition and may not be one that is easily accessible, but any moviegoer worth their salt won't have problems and be up to the challenge since it is never obtuse or purposefully frustrating. I was a bit surprised with the amount of humor that the film has, but it's function seems more to mirror the erratic behavior of Freddie than to directly play for laughs. The Master uses that erratic behavior in a way to surprise you where it is going and keep you on your toes since I was never totally sure how a character was going to act or react. It disarms you in a way which makes the numerous hard hitting dramatic parts even more potent.

Joaquin Phoenix gives an absolute tour-De-force performance as Freddie. Every moment on screen is sheer agony from him. His face always seems to be scrunched to the side, he always seems to stand in a back breaking manner with various nervous ticks and when he speaks his voice always trembles. He is a perpetual cry for help and is an extremely guarded individual, but Phoenix is also able to make Freddie someone that has an animal like magnetism and despite his behavior you can't help but care about. To contrast that Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd who is instantly charismatic and always seems to have the right thing to say and has the gift of engaging with people. Incredibility intelligent it is hard to get an exact read on whether he is a trickster, a true believer or a swindler. It is the dichotomy of the characters that is so immensely fascinating.

The Master continues Paul Thomas Anderson's tradition of making films with great visual potency without being self indulgent. There are so many visual sequences that are burned into my memory, but he does it so assured and effortlessly. He never uses flashy protracted scenes to call attention to his cinematography. Every moment has a function and within that function he consistently makes it visually engaging and engrossing. The Master was shot in 70mm and I was so happy I was able to view the film in the manner it was intended. It was absolutely breath taking to watch with the films compositions that richer and the lensing even more powerful. Since Paul Thomas Anderson's usual cinematographer Robert Elswit wasn't able to work on the film he choose Mihai Malaimare Jr. instead and he shows just as much talent with more attention paid to focus as well as takes that last a little bit longer. There was also a point towards the end where he uses a few jump cuts in about as subtle of a way as possible to great effect. Jonny Greenwood's score is always used in perfect moments as you would expect from an Anderson film and that scene that accompany Greenwood's score feel eerie, but also beautiful. I was a bit surprised Anderson used music during the period as much as he did. It helped to give a strong scene of time and he never chooses incredibly well known songs in the era to the point it becomes distracting, but with a score like Greenwood's I was a little shocked I didn't notice it as much as I did with There Will Be Blood.

With amazing performances, a fantastic script filled with wonderful depth and a masterful technical touch it is hard to not see this as a Oscar juggernaut. It is probably too early even in the films cycle let alone the Oscar cycle to say it with any certainty though. The Master cast a strong spell on me where I can't get the themes and images from my mind and if we consider films to function as cults (as quoted in the film the basis of cult is the will of one man and nowhere is the will of one man more apparent than as an auteur) than I boldly consider myself an initiate of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master.
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Films

People who added this item 367 Average listal rating (141 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.3


August 1st - Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a series of dreams filled with surreal imagery from a young girl. There is a mix of all sorts of emotions from the cheerier and carefree attitude of youthful innocence, an erotic sexual confusion but also an overwhelming fear and horror of dark sexual fantasies involving vampires and lecherous priests. It makes for some very eerie but also beautiful visuals with a strong ethereal mood. When Jaromil Jires gets a surreal image right it really reverberates loudly, but the production values were pretty low which causes other images to look bland. To Jires credit the images never the low production value never takes away from the symbolic images or visual storytelling, but it does diminish the overall punch the film has. Despite being a film with a parade of images from a stream of consciousness of a person it strangely overlays a fragmented narrative on top. It really makes the storytelling confusing and even detracts from the visual storytelling. While it has it's downside it is a pretty unforgettable film and is a rather artistic way to describe the psyche of a girls sexual awakening.
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People who added this item 111 Average listal rating (49 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.2
Pariah (2011)
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People who added this item 63 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7


August 5th - A kind of anti-police procedural Police, Adjective has fairly low stakes. Instead of the main character tracking down a serial killer, solving some type of grizzly murder or investigating a crime of great consequence, Corneliu Porumboiu has his character following a teenager they suspect of giving hash to his friends. The investigation is pure monotony without any thrills. I am sure this is much more realistic as to what a detectives job would be, but Porumboiu pushes it way too far. So much of the film ends up being an endless cycle of the detective standing around watching the suspect and his two friends from the distance. He starts to introduce some stakes where the detective is pressured by his superior for a sting which he is against since he is afraid of ruining this kids life for some hash he is clearly not dealing, but until the end it really isn't of much consequence.

There is a long and exceptional scene towards the end where everything finally comes together in sequences where we see the detectives preconceived notions of conscience, law and the extent of his job ripped to shreds. It is a discussion of dialectics that is both funny and also sad to see how subjective and tenuous our grasps of personal morality and ethics really are. Romanian films tend to be very representative of their society so I kept trying to grasp at some cultural significance, but there didn't seem to be any available, at least not on any outward expressed level (admittedly I know little about the country). It was also rather uncinematic with dull washed out colors, a frustratingly static camera and without much in the way of cinematography. Even the great dialectic scene felt more staged than filmed. I always look forward to seeing films that explore morality and conscience, but Police, Adjective becomes so self indulgent in it's realistic portrayal of police work that when the exploration finally begins, the film is already at the end.
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People who added this item 225 Average listal rating (95 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.2
Coriolanus (2011)
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People who added this item 490 Average listal rating (267 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.1


August 10th - The Battle of Algiers has long been considered the pinnacle of political cinema and it is easy to see why. A fierce anti-colonial tone Gillo Pontecorvo shows the pointlessness, death and destruction that both parties incur. The documentary style of The Battle of Algiers makes every frame feel truthful and authentic. Everything feels spontaneous with natural camera angles and movement without resulting to a handheld camera being shaken around. Each frame feels authentic like these moments are being captured in time as they happen rather than being thought and acted out. It makes the events of the film even more harrowing. The scenes of the bombing and the aftermath with the carnage and chaos are so scarily realistic I swear it was real footage. Of course that is the whole purpose of trying to make the film look like newsreel footage. It does it very successfully, but doesn't sacrifice any aesthetic value either. The black and white photography is still stunning despite it's spontaneous feel. The use of focus, lightening and lensing work together to make some incredibly striking and effecting images. The actors all give very intense and realistic performances too.

The Battle of Algiers is careful to stick with a humanistic view point. It never completely puts one side on a pedestal over the other and acts of murder or terror are put in the proper horrific light despite the moralizing done by both sides. While I wouldn't call the film bias, I would definitely say it is rather unbalanced. The film spends far more time with the insurgency and while I wouldn't say the film is manipulatively sympathetic to their plight, after watching the film it is hard to deny that it is more sympathetic to them. I think the fatal flaw is not providing any sound reason for the French being in Algiers. We understand the Algerians act for their freedom but the French seem to be there because well, they were already there. Pontecorvo sticks to a mostly broad look at the conflict, but he does occasionally cycle to a more personal view focusing on some of the individuals. There isn't a whole lot of personability in the film which makes that choice a little shocking and over time that occasional micro view of the conflict starts to create a detachment when it goes back to the macro view of it. Despite some of the flaws in it's storytelling, The Battle of Algiers is still a landmark and important film. The technical achievements are impressive and the film tells a story that is as relevant now as it was back when it was made.
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People who added this item 125 Average listal rating (58 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.7


August 14th - Carlos Reygadas for better or worse in Battle in Heaven uses an uncompromising technique of burying any emotional resonance or character depth in favor of aesthetical and intellectual pursuits. It is a bold move and one that pays off in with his aesthetical pursuits with an interesting ethereal and detached tone along with a haunting score. There are lots of evocative camera work and striking cinematography with some key scenes leaving me breathless. As the film unspools though it becomes increasingly more evident that the intellectual pursuits are shallow. Lurid acts and actions try to take the place of genuine emotion to get a response to increasingly dismal results. The thematic material becomes more murky and confusing to the point where you start to ask that deadly question for any film: What is the point of it all. With zero character motivations or development with some awkward and purposeful stiff performances from the actors there isn't anything to latch on to from that end. What starts as a provocative and visually expressive film unravels until there is nothing left to hold onto.
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People who added this item 1450 Average listal rating (980 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2


August 18th - What separates 21 Jump Street from the slew of Hollywood remakes is the fact they use the concept to to tell a unique story that fits in well with the brand as opposed to working backwards and fastening a story to work with a brand just to get people into theaters. A lot of time has passed since the slew of 80's high school films and where the eco system of a high school was established and Michael Bacall uses the absurd idea of two grow men going undercover at a high school to subvert them. Phil Lord and Chris Miller struggle at first missing the mark on some of the jokes and having the film become hyper self aware, but once it gets the characters into a modern high school setting it settles in nicely. They hit the right tone of self awareness and really starts to zero in on being character driven exploring the characters and their relationship together as well with their new surrounding. Having the popular jock become an outcast and the nerd become a popular hipster is a clever and frankly kind of truthful role reversal and the fact it is the result of their own personalities is what makes it successful. Seeing the toll it takes on them and how they react to each other makes for some rich dramatic territory, but as this is also a comedy it also is used for the basis of lots of comedic dialog, interactions and jokes as well.

The cast is good and everyone has great comedic timing. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum work well together and are able to segue between the comedic and dramatic parts. Brie Larson also does a nice twist of the popular and attractive love interest grounding the character in a great deal more substance and sincerity than we are used to seeing. Despite the ingenuity of 21 Jump Street it just couldn't seem to help itself in giving into the Hollywood call of empty action and overly melodramatic moments. The last third of the film abandons the strong character driven narrative in favor of escalating run of the mill action sequences with questionable moralizing. All the plot points intersect in really cliche and uninspiring convenient ways. It really takes the wind out of the sails of the entertainment of the subversion and dulls the bromance. There is even a shameless setup for a sequel. As soon as I heard 21 Jump Street announced I had pretty much written it off as another cash grab, but with the positive reviews and buzz I decided to give it a second chance. I am glad I did because it is certainly a cut above those usual studio remakes with a clever use of the 21 Jump Street premise and despite the fact it gives into the focus group pleasing aspects of studio film making at the end, Phil Lord and Chris Miller do make a film that is fun and funny.
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People who added this item 27 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7


August 19th - The French New Wave is largely response for my love of cinema. When I started becoming interested in film as an art form it began with the films of Truffaut and Godard. They are both such fascinating figures and Two in the Wave does a really good job establishing their backgrounds as well as the environment at the time that led to the New Wave and why it was so important. From there it gets very shaky. Emmanuel Laurent doesn't quite seem to know where to go so he skips around in time and from subject to subject. The subjects that it covers are always interesting and do have a place, but there is no focus. Laurent uses footage from their films, interviews, articles and letters all with a constant narration that Two in the Wave ends up being a historical lecture with a fragmented look at Truffaut's and Godard's career during that New Wave period.

There are numerous scenes of Isild Le Besco looking through articles or newspaper clippings and while she is a talented actress the narration is in a male voice and she is never acknowledged or even speaks. It appears that Laurent did have aspirations above being a lecturer from Isild Le Besco's role in the film, but having a deadline of the Cannes Film Festival for the 50th anniversary of The 400 Blows he had to go ahead and go with what he had. Still, it is puzzling seeing her crop up from time to time. Two in the Wave does have nice footage and interviews along with an occasional interesting insight and if you have a cursory understand of the New Wave it will be informative. Chances are though most people seeking out the film will know the majority of the information that is covered. The material Two in the Wave covers is historically accurate and will greatly interest film buffs, but the dry and dull approach to a movement known so well for it's vibrence is so counterintuitive it almost seems to betrayal the very thing it is trying to portray.
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People who added this item 440 Average listal rating (237 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.2


August 21st - The Exterminating Angel has a simple enough premise, a group of dinner guests are unable to leave a room after a dinner party, but Luis Buñuel turns it into a scathing satire of the bourgeoisie. From the first moment the film is surreal and disorienting. Buñuel edits many of the conversations into nonsensical self absorbed loops and even on occasions will repeat a whole scene with slightly different character interactions. Each sequences feels like you entered too late or are leaving too early. Despite Buñuel is obviously tinkering with the film he has a very deft touch. You even start to question yourself when things don't quite add up and do a double take when you see the same thing repeated with no one acknowledging it. Everyone starts acting increasingly peculiar as the night goes on and time starts to decompress as scenes flow together yet characters speak of the time and how much of it has passed.

Everyone is unwilling to explain why they are compelled to stay despite it being against all of societies norms offering up excuses or wild reasons. They all are happily avoiding the truth living in a shared delusion of the reality of their situation and the world around them, but once someone finally breaks down and admits what everyone else is afraid to say it opens up Pandora's Box. Despite all their elegance, pride and talk of social niceties their reality is so frail and when they are all stuck together with no out their humanity crumbles. They start to panic, lash out at each other, form cliques and even create a scapegoat for what they can't explain. It is slightly perverse how funny and entertaining it is to watching how quickly these conceded and pretentious people turn on each other. Buñuel does a good job of making us feel the panic and claustrophobia in that room as it the frame starts to shrink with more people and objects as well as more close ups.

As the film went on I was a bit disappointed to see it have some scenes that took place outside of the house. The film is all about being stuck in that insular room with those people and feeling the desperation as society itself crumbles around them and by leaving Buñuel gives momentary relief. It seemed an odd move for a film with such a singular purpose. There wasn't a whole lot of character arc, but I did find it quite difficult to follow who each person is and how they were reacting with the amount of people in the room. You do want to be removed enough from each person to have the film work as a satire as opposed to a horror story, but I still think even with the bourgeoisie cliches and exaggerated behaviors Buñuel could have created fuller persona's. What held me at bay from being able to fully embrace the film was how blatantly impersonal it was. There are many layers to the film with lots of symbolism and social commentary, so much so that I am sure some of it went over my head and most likely requires multiple viewings. Filled with film making treats The Exterminating Angel is bizarre, baffling and unique leaving you feeling a shameful amount of joy at seeing a group of people implode.
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People who added this item 77 Average listal rating (47 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8


August 24th - Brooding and attractive, Léon Morin would appear to be anti-theoretical to the common perception of the priesthood. There is an intensity and frankness to how he speaks and acts but tempers that with empathy and an openness to all discussion and not being judgmental about anything. He has rebellious views of the church and radical political views. When it comes to temptation he doesn't seem to blink an eye at avoiding it by providing spiritual counsel to a largely young female following in close quarters. One doesn't think of many of those traits associated with a priest, but Jean-Pierre Melville shows that ultimately it is the unwavering believe and faith in God that makes a priest, not his appearance. Although Léon is endlessly fascinating, the film is told from the view of Barny, a communist militant and widower who is utterly confused both sexual and spiritually. Randomly choosing a priest to vent to about her disenchantment in Christianity where she meets Léon in the confessional booth with only the thin grid between. It is then where Melville sets the tone for us by having the camera pull out and cut to a shot where there is nothing between them. It is a great bit of cinema to show that the barriers between them disappear immediately.

The interactions between the two make up the bulk of the film and that is where it really shines. They have a wide range of interactions from religious verbal sparring matches, philosophical discussions along with gestures and banter that boarders on flirtatious. The dialog is really engrossing and we start to see the intimate bond develop between the two and the awkwardness that is drenched in every scene wondering what will happen between the two in the end. Melville is so astute in his compositions, always selecting the perfect shot, camera angle and lighting to capture the two sharing ideas and thoughts. He is able to slip the tone from contentious to playful to intellectual on a dime. There is a dream sequence in the film with it's hazy and surreal impressionistic imagery that is absolutely stunning especially in contrast to the look and style the rest of the film uses.

Despite the film handily revolving around the clash of spirituality and sexual desire Melville leaves lots of superfluous story elements in the film that don't serve that purpose. The beginning of the film establishes the WWII setting and occupation of the town only for it to have it play no significant part in the film. Parts about Barny's daughter when she essentially leaves them in the care of strangers for their protection from the Nazis are really confusing and poorly explained. Seeing a mother willingly give up her daughter to the care of strangers feels incredibly false. There are also a lot of odds and ends like Barny's job and co-workers and even her daughter that feel like they should be much more important than they ended up being. The editing technique is strange too using some cutting between scenes that are grossly out of place. This failure in editing by either taking too much context out or leaving too many barely spun plot threats lying to be tripped on is what sadly stops it from being a classic.

Jean-Paul Belmondo is perfect as Léon using his charisma and effortless charms. His persona might threaten to overshadow the profession of the character, but Belmondo melts into the character wonderfully. Emmanuelle Riva is quite good herself playing Barny with the right balance of aimlessness, but also great intellect and feeling. Armed with Jean-Pierre Melville's stoic and expressive visual style Léon Morin, Priest deals with faith and religion in a very mature and honest way never dealing in absolutes or reducing the discussion to platitudes. The extra parts of the story might weaken the film as a whole, but it doesn't dampen the power of what we see happening between Léon and Barny.
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People who added this item 631 Average listal rating (368 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.4
Wonder Boys (2000)


August 25th - Wonder Boys is all about a writer named Grady who is struggling with his art and his life. Through a bizarre and escalating series of misadventures we become connected with the chaos and conflict of his life and career that are crumbling around him. Curtis Hanson strikes the right tone with the material never overly dramatizing anything to keep the absurdity and humor intact, but always has a strong handle of the characters motivations and interpersonal conflicts. Wonder Boys is populated with many colorful and off-beat characters and the film maintains a strong grasp on who each one of them are. This film lives and dies on the character moments and dialog and the film succeeds on that front having cast the film quite well and everyone is able to bring a degree of truth to their moments together. It helps us feel a great deal of affection for each person and genuinely care about them. Michael Douglas especially gives a convincing performance as the off kilter but likeable Grady which gives a strong anchor to the plot as well as the rest of the cast.

While it is entertaining and funny, there isn't anything particularly unique about Wonder Boys. As crazy and outlandish as Wonder Boys ends up being there isn't a whole lot that ends up sticking out. Grady may be an interesting character, but cinema is littered with different incarnations of people being lost professional and personally and he doesn't offer up anything enlightening to make much of a distinction. We may not know where it may be going from plot point to plot point, but it hits the same life affirming lesson we know it will including a Hollywood ending. Curtis Hanson is a reliable hand who gets good performances and always has a strong grasp of the material, but he relies very heavily on a voice-over due to his short comings as an introspective director. Hanson is also a very bland and aesthetically vanilla director which holds back the images from feeling more vibrant and alive. Wonder Boys is a prime example of the quirky indie comedy of the late 1990's and early 2000's. Good performances and interesting characters with dark comedy that mostly hits, but overall doesn't take many risks and ends up being rather uninspiring and visually barren.
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People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.6
The Mirror (1997)


August 26th - Iranian film has always been fascinated by truthfulness and an exploration of cinema through a meta nature and The Mirror is another in another worthy entry of that tradition. The film starts out with a young girl named Mina trying to find her way home when her mother doesn't pick her up at school. With no one being particularly helpful to her she becomes impatient and starts to take off on her own. There seems to be one hurdle after another as she interacts with others and with her surroundings. With a camera that is very much reactive to the people in the film we follow her closely as this little girl tries to maneuver herself home in a bustling big city surrounded by all of these people walking around and everyone including Mina giving what feels like honest actions and reactions. Jafar Panahi was meticulous in making it as close to a reflection of reality as possible, but it still shows itself with the editing and camera movement to be a film.

Then about a third of the way through Mina looks into the camera and exclaims she is done acting shattering the created reality of the film. Immediately switching to hand held cameras and showing everyone behind the scenes the film fragments into two. It is quite jarring and unexpected, but for a film that is very much an exploration of truth and realism you wouldn't expect anything else. Mina starts acting resistant to why she has decided to stop acting and becomes impatient and decides to find her way home. Still miked though Panahi decides to let her go home and track her with a handheld camera. What unfolds is a whole new reality that gets established as we see her rushing home. On her new journey there some things that are in stark difference which shed some of the artifice, but there are also surprising similarities that reaffirm much of the events we had already seen.

With an experimental approach it does have it's drawbacks as well. It backfire when the camera loses sight of Mina and it becomes increasingly difficult to follow everything that is happening with her as the audio starts cutting in and out. The ending of the film is abrupt and rather unsatisfying. Panahi's attempt to show some of the other things that are happening in modern Iran around Mina become forgotten in the shuffle. One of the biggest drawbacks becomes how aesthetically similar everything ends up being. There is a definite shift to a grainier and less detailed images when it shifts to a handheld camera, but everything is still naturally lit inside a bus or on the street as the film encapsulates what feels like is mostly the same space. It is fascinating though to sit down and contemplate all the ramifications of The Mirror though. Is what happens in the second half of the film indeed real or is just another layer of a created reality by Panahi? Does it matter? Can there ever be a true reality in cinema? With so many things similar between what is shown to be a created reality and actual reality does that make the created reality any less truthful? These are some complex questions about the function and power of art and Panahi so effortlessly creates a context for us to challenge ourselves with them.
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People who added this item 22 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.3
The Wild Hunt (2009)


August 28th - The subculture of live-action role playing is one that is easily mocked, but The Wild Hunt instead treats it as being deadly serious and uses it as a prism for a psychological drama. And why not? For the uninitiated it might seem silly but to all the people playing there are incredibly high stakes and what happens there matters deeply to them. There are high production values that make it look like a real fantasy film with authentic looking settings and costumes. As long as the people stay in character the film commits to the genre a hundred percent despite some things that are said or done that are slightly off, but when they start to break character the less plausible aspects stop being overlooked and the film starts to become self aware. Smartly we never get bogged down in establishing a mythos instead dropping us right into the story and giving us the information that we need as it is relevant.

While The Wild Hunt was clearly going to be an exercise in tone and genre I was pleasantly surprised at how strong the film making by Alexandre Franchi was. The cinematography is consistently strong leading to some deceptively striking compositions. With lights being non-existent Franchi makes good use of fires and torches to create shadows and layers in the film. The shots are blocked very well using frequent wide shots that contain a great deal of detail making the world feel expansive. There is some interesting psychological connotation to The Wild Hunt too. Watching the film and getting lost in the fantasy it is easy to see why people will use it as an escape from life, but the film also touches on what that detachment from reality can do to them. Some of the psychology could have been explored a little bit further, but I was impressed with the way it doesn't deal with it in a direct or heavy handed manner. Instead it becomes intertwined with the illusion of the film.

The area that The Wild Hunt falls short is in the character study. The two main characters have some pretty severe mood swings that make it hard to see them as people. While it does have us caring for and rooting for their relationship, it isn't established very well to give a sturdy base to build upon. It also hurts the character motivations, especially with Lyn. All the actors do a great job of portraying these LARPers fully committing to all their parts but with just a hint of self awareness. The acting does cover up some of the weaknesses in the writing for the characters. The Wild Hunt falls short in character development and it would have been nice to have seen some more detail paid to the psychological aspects, but it is a refreshing original premise with some surprisingly dark looks into human nature and a strong visual look. An under appreciated film that Alexandre Franchi shows admirable skills that I am surprised more people haven't seen.
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Woody Allen Selection of the Month

I will choose a Woody Allen film each month to watch to make a long overdue exploration into Woody Allen's filmography.
People who added this item 163 Average listal rating (87 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.1


August 12th - I was surprised that dubbing their own audio that Woody Allen and his collaborators didn't go straight for the jugular with the poor production values of the film and the overly sexed up tone. It seemed like something that was served up to be mocked, but instead they do just tell a totally different story. It is more a tone of witty interactions and unusual characters than a complete tear down of what is being shown with off the wall random absurdity. It was certainly an approach I hadn't expected. Strangely though it does keeps you more involved with what you are seeing and builds up to the jokes or bits that makes them all the more funny.

When it is on What’s Up Tiger Lily is hilarious with laugh out loud moments, but there is also lots of downtime where no one seems to know what to do so they just make a passing comment. Obviously with a straight up comedy like this anything that is thrown at you will to a degree either hit or miss, but there are too many times where it just stands there and forgets to throw something. There are also random times where the film cuts to The Lovin' Spoonful as they play in front of a crowd of people dancing which is just bizarre and adds nothing to the film. I think What’s Up Tiger Lily is one of those ideas that might have sounded better in the conceptualization stage than it did with the finished product, but there is enough laughs to justify 80 minutes of a Woody Allen's fans time and have a good time with.
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A list of rambling thoughts and ideas about what I watched this month. Feel free to read, comment or just ignore me.

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