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Added by jaytoast on 2 Jan 2013 12:50
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Cinema Diary - Vol 4 E1 - Jan 2013

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January Film Focus



My film focus for the month of January will be on Charlie Chaplin.
People who added this item 1416 Average listal rating (901 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.5


It was a special treat to watch this film that has been so well restored. I found the film to be heartbreaking and nearly brought me to tears as the world Mr Chaplin spoke of never manifested. However, the ending monologue still stands as a powerful message for any generation.
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People who added this item 917 Average listal rating (588 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.3
The Kid (1921)


This isn't quite the light hearted comedy one might expect. There are several social issues that are part of the story and again... sadly they are relevant today as much as they were a hundred years ago.
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People who added this item 246 Average listal rating (155 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8
A Dog's Life (1918)


Considered a 'short film' I found that the film didn't feel short by any means. A full film that is sweet and endearing.
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Five by Five


Five by Five

Last year, Phillydude, Xanadon't, The Giraffe and I exchanged movies through the postal service. Alas, I had an issue with receiving mail which messed with the films I had slated to watch at the later part of 2012. So, with a new year and a new group I'm ready to forge new cinematic viewing territory.
People who added this item 106 Average listal rating (67 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 5.7
Altered (2006)

Recommended by Mackenzi



Rednecks versus aliens... well at least that is how the film feels starting out. Still, some nice drama in enclosed spaces with some actual acting abilities throughout. There are a few stupid lapses in logic but not as bad as many horror films.
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People who added this item 1232 Average listal rating (749 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 8.6
City Lights (1931)

Recommended by phillydude



A romantic comedy, that is also tragically sad.
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Top Picks...

People who added this item 771 Average listal rating (458 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.1


There is quite a lot of story here and if there would be any one complaint it would be that some aspects felt a little rushed. Still, the film has held up well and the acting performances are something to enjoy.
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People who added this item 1143 Average listal rating (690 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.9
The Insider (1999)
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People who added this item 557 Average listal rating (375 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
Killer Joe (2011)

External Review by Roger Ebert

Some great acting performances and a story that falls on the darker side of black comedy. There are a few aspects that I found enjoyable but hardly a film I would put at the top of any list.
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People who added this item 346 Average listal rating (219 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5


A sweet and rather lighthearted film. The pacing is low-key but everything worked well together.
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People who added this item 1570 Average listal rating (1090 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.9


Quite entertaining and fun comedy. One worth watching again... decent comedies are hard to find ;)
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People who added this item 201 Average listal rating (94 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
Dot the I (2003)


Is that Tom Hardy and Charlie Cox??? Wow, I think I liked them more before any Hollywood make-over. OK, they aren't really main characters but I did some how find it distracting to want to see more of their slacker slightly-douch-bag characters.

The film starts off as a rather boring romantic film. However, it twists and turns on itself revealing an all together different viewing experience. Despite some reservations, this was a really good film.
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People who added this item 1080 Average listal rating (631 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.9
Whip It (2009)


This was a nice little low-key film. It isn't anything too incredibly special except that it did manage to focus on roller derby without feeling exploitative or over glorified. A very impressive film from director Drew Barrymore and it was nice to see some indy-film favorites playing other rolls then what they normally get typecast into playing.
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People who added this item 176 Average listal rating (108 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1


Very dark comedy. With a very bleak look into the Hollywood system and how to 'make it in the business'. A film that clearly influenced some future films. Between the acting and warped story this is sure to remain a classic if a bit understated one.
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Thorne Double Feature

People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 6.8


I have recently started noticing Aidan Gillen as an actor and my appreciation for him has grown over time. David Morrissey is also another actor who I appreciate. So, these two made for tv shows were a pleasant discovery. The 'film' is a bit confusing but in a good way as the relationships of the characters cloud the issues of solving the case.
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People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.6


The second 'film' might seem a bit weaker but it still rounds out the other story nicely. Watching the two films back to back was a good choice for a night of mystery.

Well, at least until I break down and start watching the whole "Prime Suspect" episodes over again.
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International...

People who added this item 105 Average listal rating (59 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8.1


This is the first film that I have ever watched that successfully used a circular narrative, without resorting to some bizarre sci-fi element.

Told in three chapters, the film shows the conflict in Macedonia from three different points of view yet they are connected in a linear way. Eventually that line becomes a circle. A powerful film that was exceptionally executed. A difficult film to discribe but after you watch it, you'll understand "the circle is not round".
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People who added this item 479 Average listal rating (261 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.1


The fact that this film was ever considered controversial (and still considered somewhat controversial) is something I find silly. Still, it is nice to know that the USA isn't the only country that would like to sweep some aspects of history under the rug of revisionist history. Yes, there was a time when war was fa bit more dignified and it wasn't until later that guerrilla warfare changed the landscape of modern warfare forever.

It is only nationalistic propaganda that builds a war between 'good and evil' there are real human on ether side of that line so callously drawn.
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People who added this item 96 Average listal rating (55 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7

The sparse narrative structure of many of Claire Denis's films leaves one to interpret the events depicted in the story. In this film I found that I felt the need to read more into the story or grasped at clues for some type of context to the events. The film has much in common with Beau Travail (1999) as both deal with obsession and internal landscapes that are never fully defined.

While White Material seems to provide more 'story' it was just enough to make the film more frustrating to watch. In the end I felt like I had been watching an abstract and minimal Herzog film... which actually isn't a good thing.
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People who added this item 201 Average listal rating (125 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Kon-tiki (2012)


I have not seen the 1951 film, so I don't have a lot to compare the film with. Still, I rather enjoyed this voyage of adventure. With just enough cine-magic to give the film a feeling of a more universal importance. I may change my feelings in the future if the 1951 documentary is ever released in the USA.
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People who added this item 21 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 5.8

Enslaved, left for dead, and fated to become the most fearsome warrior in all the land, the last surviving member of a massacred tribe embarks on an epic quest to avenge his family\'s murder while getting drawn into a ferocious battle to defeat a monster and save a nation.

The story is by no means unique. There were a few charming aspects that made the story just different enough to not lose me to complete boredom. Still for a sword and sorcery action adventure film you could do a lot worse.

So, if your hard pressed for a fantasy film and the thought of renting "Beastmaster" makes you cringe, this should be worth the effort.
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People who added this item 707 Average listal rating (373 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.1


This is an interesting and sometimes a bit surreal film. Then again, there are many families where one starts to wonder if everyone just escaped from a madhouse. Personally, I found the Dogme 95 style the most crippling aspect of the film. Still, the film managed to over come this handicap and still produce a film that was engaging.
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People who added this item 388 Average listal rating (225 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
Fallen Angels (1995)

This is a rather charming film. It is filed with some of Kar Wai Wong's typical style and manages to be quirky and sweet. Alas, I have a hard time believing that if I hadn't watched so many of the director's films if I would have liked this film as much as I did. In the end it is a rather simple and poetic film and reminded me why I love Kar Wong so much.
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People who added this item 275 Average listal rating (142 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
Close-Up (1990)


There is an interesting overlapping of reality and film, especially the idea of an Iranian New Wave film movement. I feel that I perhaps should have enjoyed this film more then I actually did. Personally, that could have to do with my mind being more on deconstructionist films.

Ether way the film wasn't a waste of time and since it was a Criterion rental it came with the extra film "The Traveler"... the second disk was a documentary of Hossain Sabzian life after the release of "Close-Up" which I didn't find very interesting and stopped watching halfway through.

Still, I look forward to watching more films from Abbas Kiarostami and of course desperately want to watch "The Cyclist" by Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
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People who added this item 15 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.6
The Traveler (1974)


A low key film about a boy desperate to attend a soccer game in another town. The main character isn't very sympathetic at points but his journey is interesting.
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Now playing on MUBI

People who added this item 34 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.9

Amid a revolution in a South American mining outpost, a band of fugitives – a roguish adventurer (Georges Marchal), a local hooker (Simone Signoret), a priest (Michel Piccoli), an aging diamond miner (Charles Vanel), and his deaf-mute daughter – are forced to flee for their lives into the jungle. Starving, exhausted, and stripped of their old identities, they wander desperately lured by one deceptive promise of salvation after another. Shot in brilliant Eastmancolor and featuring a star-studded cast, Death in the Garden is a pulsating adventure film alive with Surrealist gestures, making it classic Luis Buñuel.


I question if the film had any real 'surrealist gestures' still I think this is one of Buñuel's more assessable works and is quite visually stunning. The story is a bit predictable and the characters work more as archetypical figures caught in a harsh landscape. It was a nice change from Buñuel's more surreal films proving his talent on ether side of the art form.
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Classics...

People who added this item 307 Average listal rating (176 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.9


This is an impressive production and rife with great imagery. Still, this didn't do much to make up for some truly dreadful acting by some of the main characters. It is easy to dismiss this as yet another example of the rather difficult transition films made transitioning to 'talkies' (sound film). The 1959 version of the film shows a marked improvement in acting talent. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite version of this film as both films have their merits and flaws.
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An epic film covering the life of Clive Candy from WWI to WWII. There are quite a number of ethical debates that are raised and I question some of the conclusions made at the end. Yet, I think it is those ethical questions that continue to make this an important film.

Even if you don't get your philosophy in a twist, it is still a visual master piece and a very enjoyable film.
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People who added this item 287 Average listal rating (170 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7


Recommend by phillydude

A classic that I had been avoiding watching. I was worried that this would use some of the typical 'pull at the heart strings' tricks. So, it was surprising that the film avoiding some of the traditional emotional pits.
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Horror Films...

People who added this item 32 Average listal rating (21 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 5.4

Loosely based on the Black Monk of Pontefract, a ghost who afflicted the county of Yorkshire in northern England in the 1960s and 1970s, When the Lights Went Out tells the story of the Maynard family. Father Len, mother Jenny and daughter Sally move into their dream house, but soon come across an uninvited ‘presence’. The twist comes when the invisible housemate makes friends with 12-year-old Sally.

The film reveals a meticulously designed 1970s art direction that also guarantees the necessary humour, for instance in the discussions between man and wife about the colour in the kitchen must be: is it avocado or just plain green? The film mixes the tight and effectively included ghost elements (forms suddenly popping up, flickering lamps, furniture moving on its own) with a northern sobriety that is exceptional for the genre. In this way, an unwilling priest is convinced in an unusual manner to cooperate by performing an exorcism. –IFFR


I'm actually a fan of the more low-key horror films and it doesn't take too much embellishment on a story for me to find it compelling. This was a low key treat for someone looking for something a little less hard core then 'The Exorcist" but without being as dull as "The Rite".
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People who added this item 160 Average listal rating (95 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.1
Lake Mungo (2008)


The mockumentary horror genre is far too over-saturated. However, this film felt was a far more convincing as portraying its self as a documentary. The film falls on the side of low-key or psychological horror films. This was a welcomed break from others of the genre.
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People who added this item 6 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 2.5 IMDB Rating 3.7
Sick Boy (2012)
My expectations for this film were pretty low. The fact that even with low exceptions this film managed exceed my worst fears is something of a triumph. This is a low budget film, with a truly boring couple making all the same cliche 'bad horror movie choices'. This film should come with its own supplies of drugs or alcohol as that really seems to be the only way to find some amusement in this mess; laughing at a truly bad film. Even then there are better 'bad horror films' that I would pick and there are literally hundred of these dreadful gems littering the shelves. Do your self a favor... rent "Leprechaun".
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Mixed Bag...

People who added this item 407 Average listal rating (235 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6


Yet another quirky boy coming-of-age film. Not as dreadful as "Igby Goes Down" and this film does little to breath new life into a stale genre.
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People who added this item 188 Average listal rating (108 ratings) 4.9 IMDB Rating 5
The Informers (2008)


Set in the 80's, this film is a portrait of the bleak decay of the soul. Which has actually been done a number of times and no matter how many 'fresh faces' you toss at a film it is still a tired subject that offers little insight and no hope.
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People who added this item 212 Average listal rating (142 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
Arbitrage (2012)


I appreciated the director's vision of an unsympathetic protagonist. Still, this felt dull and as empty as The Company Men (2010).
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People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 4.4
The Fields (2011)
This is a very well crated film and visually quite intresting. Yet, it is a story where very little happens and falls on the more dull side of things.

The main problem is that the film doesn't fully live inside of the mind of the protagonist. Horror told from a child's perspective is actually something that other films have done quite well.

Since it doesn't dive into the mental landscape of a young boy, it also doesn't focus on anyone else who is particular interesting or part of the 'action'. So, your left somewhere in between two types of films.

Ah, and despite my low rating I did sort of enjoy this 'meditative horror film' it just didn't achieve much credibility with me.
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Cinema Diary for 2013
The Year of The Snake







This is a scrapbook of ideas, impressions and information about the movies I watch. It is basic, rough and raw in an effort to expand my personal viewing experiences. This is a creative exercise not a critical one. I hope you enjoy.

Diary Entries for 2013


July | May & June | March & April | Feb | Jan |

Diary Entries for 2012


Oct, Nov & Dec | September | August | July | June | May | April | March | February |
January

Diary Entries for 2011


October thru December | September | August | July | January

Diary Entries for 2010


December | November | October | September | August | July

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My Film Diary Index (28 lists)
list by jaytoast
Published 5 years, 7 months ago 2 comments



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Comments

Posted: 4 years, 11 months ago at Jan 11 23:02
Yay, as always a bit of a rough start to creating the first of the year film diary. More updates coming soon, time of a nap and to finish cooking dinner for company.

Feel free to make any film suggestions for the month.

I'm a little aggravated that the two films from last years MEP still haven't shown up in my queue and would still like to watch those before I progress too much farther into new film territory. Sorry, MEP... I suck :P
Posted: 4 years, 11 months ago at Jan 12 5:04
Ha, yep... with your recommendation of "City Lights" I figured I would try to watch a few of his other films. Oddly enough never watched many of his films in Film Studies, only clips. Watched a lot of early experimental films. Hay, and it will help making it through those AFI lists ;)
Posted: 4 years, 11 months ago at Jan 21 9:50
That reminds me- I picked up a copy of The Art of Getting By on the cheap and still haven't watched it. Not as dreadful as Igby Goes Down strikes me as a very good thing.

Oh and I rented that stupid movie The Informers once upon a time and only made it about 40 minutes in before ripping it out of the player and muttering "fuck this movie".

I like your Chaplin focus. I'm in need of doing the same.
Posted: 4 years, 10 months ago at Jan 26 19:40
Glad to see you enjoyed Whip-It and Horrible Bosses, both of which I found entertaining & worth watching but not Great by any means.

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