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Added by Xanadon't on 1 Oct 2011 08:08
1416 Views 10 Comments

Monthly Movie Journal: October 2011

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People who added this item 1143 Average listal rating (665 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4

A hell of a lot of fun and a stunning example of execution living up to creativity. It's the kind of film that nurtures one's love for the movies of old while simultaneously rekindling one's hope for cinema's future.

Anyone out there have a copy of the screenplay? I've gotta find out how to get one.
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People who added this item 780 Average listal rating (503 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.1

Tom Hardy gives us a strong performance, but that's not enough to shake my overall indifference toward the film and the subject. A few visual flourishes by director Nicolas Winding Refn pulled be out of my boredom now and then, but still, meh.
Xanadon't's rating:
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People who added this item 964 Average listal rating (498 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8

"Deep" hilosophical musings set to trippy animation has its own built-in cult-appeal I suppose, so it's little wonder that this film is often hailed as a sort of "contemporary masterpiece". Which also has a lot to do, I suppose, with why I avoided it for so long.

While I can't proclaim anything near that level of enthusiasm for Linklater's ambitious, if slightly tedious, film I will say that I found certain aspects fascinating. Unfortunately too much of this movie smells vaguely of insincere "intellectualism" and if it's not quite "empty-headed" there is a noticeable void where the "heart" should be, and which has always warmed me to his other work.

Still, I applaud the bold manner that the film employs in effort to explore the ideas at hand. And while for that reason I don't begrudge the movie's existence I'm certain I won't be revisiting it anytime soon.
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Xanadon't's rating:
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People who added this item 882 Average listal rating (526 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6

And ^that^ should give you a clue about the awesomely irreverent humor that makes this film so much fun, and an important piece of American cinema culture.

I've never been as impressed by Robert Altman as I feel I'm supposed to be, but this early effort alerted me to the talent and vision that he possesses. Maybe I'll give some of his other earlier titles a look.
Xanadon't's rating:
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People who added this item 64 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 0

Wow. I felt about a month's worth of different emotional responses to this film all in its 100 minutes. Sometimes my reactions to the film were even conflicting with one another, but one thing I never felt was passive. I appreciated this film for that alone.

But this film was extremely engaging intellectually also, and its narrative structure ratchets up the intensity of it all. Some may argue a lack of credibility within the plot and the manner of connections shared between the characters. But I found most of this easy to forgive, or simply unoffensive in the first place, in light of what the film is trying to tell us. If I do have a point of apprehension, it regards the way the teacher character is written. Something stands in my way of totally buying into her character and her motivations. Regardless, this struck me as a very special piece of film-art and I'll be looking to see what else I've missed from this director.
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People who added this item 821 Average listal rating (489 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.3
Hidden (2005)

Director Michael Haneke once again aims his critical arrows at pseudo-intellectual bourgeois society, under the guise of a mystery thriller that doesn't thrill and in which no satisfactory answers are given to any of the questions raised by the plot. There seems to be quite a lot of post-9/11 subtext at work here, but I don't pretend to really know what Haneke is on about most of the time.

What I do know is that here he has two very talented leads under his command (Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil) but I wouldn't really be able to make that statement if this was the only film I'd seen them in; for much of the film they're given very little to do and the camera and lighting, etc don't seem to give two damns about any talent that may be trying to work its way out. In fact much of Haneke's film is shot in perfectly static and exasperatingly long takes of the mid or long-shot variety (not merely the "surveillance shots mind you). And if this is intended to bring a cold and detached feeling to the proceedings, fine, but to me it feels more like lazy and smug. I'd love to trade in some of Haneke's philosophical musing and pontificating for even the slightest bit of creative and passionate imagination.
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Criterion Collection Releases

I don't place a huge stock in whether or not something is deemed "Criterion Collection worthy" but I will admit that when the Janus Films logo comes up on my screen, I do tend to assume I'm about to watch something that's somehow important.
People who added this item 607 Average listal rating (343 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.8

Not only did I greatly enjoy this film, but it also strikes me as the one that arrives closest to the "essence" of what Jim Jarmusch is all about as a film-maker.

Read review here
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Film Snob Pick of the Month

You know the kind of movies I mean.
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At the Movies

Watched on the big screen
People who added this item 1545 Average listal rating (952 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
50/50 (2011)

The trailers for this film did little to convince me that this movie would be worth more than a nonchalant rental. But early buzz about this being something a bit more special than it appears, along with the approval of a trusted friend here on listal, compelled me to find out for myself. And I must say I'm glad I did.

I found 50/50 to be one of the best films of the year, as improbable as that may sound to some of you. It's a deeply affecting film that respects itself and audiences far too much to sacrifice sincerity for emotional hijacks. The writing here is extremely good in its ability to maintain dramatic and comedic cohesiveness while expertly navigating its many delicate and sometimes severe emotional shifts. As my friend put it, the material here feels organic with the added bonus of being unusually smart and heartfelt.

Oddly enough, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in both of the films I've seen so far this month. He's an actor that I'd until yesterday only encountered in Inception. I hated him in it. I thought his performance was for the most part border-line miserable. Now, having seen Brick and 50/50 my opinion of him has completely changed. This isn't an overtly dramatic and dynamic performance, or the kind that calls a lot of attention to itself. But it is a strong, nuanced performance and one that shines so brightly at times in small moments of human crisis and emotional gravity.

Anna Kendrick is superb here as well. She's long been an actress that fascinates me, but has never really grabbed hold of me and shaken me emotionally. But here that's just about all she does. This is a welcome break from the fast-talking, too cool-for-school, emotionally distant but vaguely insecure character we've seen her in before. Here she's pained in tones of warm vulnerability upon a canvas of quiet strength and psychological fortitude. Her nervous resolve and self-conscious good will layered atop the deep well of empathy and understanding that she naturally possesses combine to make her among the most inherently likeable characters I've come across in a long time. And there's rarely a moment she's on screen that doesn't somehow become truly interesting and affecting.

There's a lot more to be said about this movie, but if it's one that you have any curiosity about at all, I say go see it. It's easy to say that there are lots of movies out there just like it, but really I don't think they're as many as we like to think.

Review by lotr23
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People who added this item 390 Average listal rating (275 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
The Guard (2011)

Trailer for The Guard

Another slightly disappointing film in a long year full of them. Ha, really I'm just disappointed because my local critic trumped this one up pretty high. It passes as entertainment, but really there's nothing terribly special at work here.
Xanadon't's rating:
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People who added this item 2464 Average listal rating (1668 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8

*Second viewing!

I agree, it is a little strange that I went to see the same film twice in two weeks. Can't remember the last time that's happened, actually. But consider:

A) It's the best film of the year.

B) The first time I went was by myself. This time around my girlfriend and I went together. While I'm certain it's the best film released so far this year, she's convinced it's the best of the young decade. I'm not sure she isn't right.

For more on Drive see last month's journal or read here:
Review by lotr23

And of course if you haven't seen it yet, do so!
Xanadon't's rating:
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People who added this item 535 Average listal rating (263 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.8
Restless (2011)

This is a far better film than its early IMDb rating suggests, even if it's one that didn't ultimately move me as much as I expected it might. And where it could easily have been bogged down by too much drummed up "quirkiness" the film is lifted considerably by the quietly magnificent performances of its two leads. Gus Van Sant strikes me as a gifted film-maker even in his "failures" so when it comes to Restless which lands somewhere in the middle, one can be sure there's enough "specialness" going on to make it well worth your while. And this movie approaches death and dying in a way that never exploits the audiences emotions or the betrays the actor's talents, and feels fresh and thoughtful all the way through.
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People who added this item 637 Average listal rating (443 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.6

This one is about as much fun as you're likely to have at the movie theater all year. It absolutely excels as entertainment, but is bolstered by some rather brilliant maneuvers in social commentary that add real depth. It's almost exactly the kind of film that leads me to think that if someone can't get excited by something going on in this remarkable debut work, then that person probably just doesn't really like movies.
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People who added this item 3328 Average listal rating (2172 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.1

Yes, for anyone paying attention, that is twice in 7 months now. And I'll likely watch it again in the next year or so.
Xanadon't's rating:
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People who added this item 1036 Average listal rating (615 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
Notorious (1946)

*Watched with commentary track.

Still ranks as one of my top 5 favorite films of all time, and very likely number 1, end of story.
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Good Intentions

Shaped by theatrical release dates, Netflix queues, and two different friends kind enough to let me borrow their DVDs.

Wasn't sure if I was gonna do an October journal page this month, in light of the Halloween horror-fest I want to embark on. But a therapist once told me it was important to keep a journal and stick with it, so... I'm doing BOTH!

Catch all the rest of the action here:

Movie journal Halloween edition!

Thanks for viewing and, as always, feedback, suggestions, and polite criticism are welcome!

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Film Journal Archive, 2011 - Xanadon't (13 lists)
list by Xanadon't
Published 6 years, 3 months ago

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Posted: 7 years ago at Oct 1 16:08
I know you've only added one film, but it's Brick, so I can't wait to vote later, haha. Very glad that you loved it. It's on my DVD collection. As for 50/50, my only warning is that, on certain levels, I liked it for very personal reasons, so I wonder if it'll work for you as well as it did for me. Oh, and I know of several people who don't like Haneke movies, yet love Cache. It's got one of the most shocking, unexpected, abrupt moments I've ever seen in a movie.
Posted: 7 years ago at Oct 2 1:49
AWESOME! And that was quick!! I'm so happy that you got a chance to catch it so soon. Glad that you also took notice of how amazing Kendrick was. This is the type of movie in which one could easily just give all the credit to Gordon-Levitt because he's at the center of everything, but she was freaking terrific as well. Superb review of the movie, and, really, I'm ecstatic that it resonated so well with you too. And thanks for the very kind mentions. :)
Posted: 7 years ago at Oct 2 18:01
Yay, glad you liked "Brick". As I mentioned to lotr23 it was one of those films that help give me hope for "Independent Films".
Posted: 7 years ago at Oct 8 3:26
Perhaps Bronson just wasn't what you wanted after watching Drive twice? I know when I watched it I felt the story dragged at times but Tom Hardy's performance kept elevating it enough to hold my attention. Dude is Amazing in that role.
Posted: 7 years ago at Oct 12 20:41
Hmm...I'd tried watching Waking Life once & the visuals kept annoying me. Think I gave up about 20 minutes into it, if that long. Doesn't sound like I missed much.
Posted: 6 years, 12 months ago at Oct 24 9:06
- Brick : Even though I liked it, it didn't blow me away whatsoever
- MASH : I thought it was really average and rather overrated. Need a rewatch, I guess
- Down by law : Same as Brick but need a rewatch
- A short film wbout killing : Same as Down by law

Good selection as usual!
Posted: 6 years, 12 months ago at Oct 24 19:54
Oops... Forgot to vote!
Posted: 6 years, 11 months ago at Oct 31 12:25
Doh! Okay, I won't encourage you to watch anymore of Haneke's movies, haha. I saw Cache in college, and haven't watched it again, so I don't know if I remember well enough to discuss it. But... were you at least shocked by... you know... that one scene?
Posted: 6 years, 11 months ago at Nov 2 4:30
Well that lowers my expectations for whenever I get around to watching Cache. I see you also re-watched a pair of your favorite films, which is cool. Looking forward to your recap...

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