Added by johanlefourbe on 7 Jan 2020 12:31
1001 Movies ... my own version (2010's)
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Blue Valentine (2010)
Notes: Back in 2009, Ryan Gosling was supposed to star in 'The Lovely Bones' but dropped out just a few days before shooting started. It seemed, at that time, like an odd move since there was a big buzz around this movie (which did flop eventually) and for a couple of years, Gosling pretty much vanished from the scene. Flashforward 2 years later and the guy made a huge come-back with this movie so, of course, I was really eager to check it out. Honestly, it is probably the darkest, the gloomiest relationship I have ever seen in a movie. I mean, especially when you are married with kids (like me), the whole thing felt way too familiar and, frankly, was really depressing to behold. I still liked it though. Indeed, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were really impressive here, giving some of their best performances and the whole thing was really well written. I don't think I have often seen a better movie portraying the daily struggle a married couple have to face everyday (going to work, taking care of your kid(s), doing the groceries, feeling exhausted most of the time, looking and feeling like sh*t, noticing every little irritating things about your partner, the attraction and affection slowly disappearing,...). In my opinion, being a couple, it is just plain f*cking hard and this movie pretty much proved that point.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Notes: I have to admit that I was already sold with the 8 bit Universal logo. And I think that was the main issue with this flick. Basically, it was made for a very speficic audience and other people wouldn't care for it, I'm afraid. I mean, if you have never been into gaming specifically the older games from the 80's and the 90's or if you never cared for those, all the video games references will be lost on you and they might even bother you. As far as I was concerned, I thought it was awesome though. But it didn't stop there, no, that was just the beginning... I had never seen a movie with such an ADHD syndrome and it is also something that can wear you down pretty quickly but, once again, for me, it made the whole thing even more appealing. Of course, the characters were really cartoony but most of them were pretty funny and the whole thing just looked awesome. This flick is another example that CGI can be a great tool to enhance a director's vision, if it is used properly. Anyway, I had so much fun watching this.
Inside Job (2010)
Notes: To be honest, I have never really paid attention to the worldwide crisis back then (thankfully, I always managed to keep my jobs) so I never really dug into it but since this movie had some pretty good ratings, I was definitely eager to see what was actually going on. And boy, that was such a depressing movie... I mean, they threw in from time to time an upbeat tune but there was no way they could remove the general sour taste giving by this take. To be honest, I'm totally a left-wing guy, it came with my upbringing, and this movie displayed how nasty and unhealthy capitalism can be in general. From an ideological point of view, I still believe that left-wing ideas such as socialism, government control and regulation, social welfare would be a better option but it is unfortunately not in our human nature, I'm afraid. Like they said in this movie, if most of the people get the opportunity to get a massive amount of money with a minimum risk for themselves, they will almost always go for it. I have to admit it, the whole thing was quite reminiscent of Michael Moore's style in the sense that many people get ridiculed during the interviews, the editing was massive and there was a fair amount of manipulation. Still, the message remains strong and, like I said before, terribly depressing, but it is and remains a really impressive documentary.
Shutter Island (2010)
Notes: Since I'm a huge fan of Martin Scorsese's work, I was really eager to check the damned thing. To be be honest, I actually think that his movies starring Leonardo DiCaprio are actually a little bit overrated, especially if you compare them to the masterpieces Scorsese delivered earlier in his career but I have to admit that, together, they made some really good movies and this one was a perfect example. Indeed, they gave us here some awesome directing and acting, especially by Leonardo DiCaprio who seemed to have a great year considering the fact that 'Inception' was released not so long after. I also loved the mood and the plot was quite spellbinding to watch, at least, until the end. Indeed, unfortunately, like any other thriller dealing with some mystery, they had to give us an explanation but, like most of the movies in this genre, the end was actually rather weak. Indeed, while the rest of the movie completely made sense, this ending was in my opinion seriously unbeliveable and really difficult to swallow. Eventually, it’s a movie that really works only once in my opinion. Anyway, even if it wasn't flawless, it was still a very good movie though.
Black Swan (2010)
Notes: Before this movie was released, there was a huge buzz about it and since I'm a huge fan of Darren Aronofosky's work, I was really eager to check this flick. Eventually, I really loved it and even watched it twice in the movie theater which is something I haven't done for many years. Basically, Aronofosky displayed once again his versatility and after making an amazing movie about the wrestling world, he has now made an amazing movie about the ballet world. Seriously, it was just very impressive. The directing was indeed very good, Natalie Portman gave the best performance of her career and she definitely deserved her Academy Award. Eventually, in my opinion, it was just a fascinating picture which shares my views about Art. Indeed, in my opinion, Art always goes with excess, violence, sex, it should push the boundaries and it can be highly destructive. My only complains with this movie would be that 'The Swan Lake', the actual ballet, is actually rather dull. Furthermore, since it was only 90 minutes, none of the supporting characters were really developed and I wish I had the chance to get to know them a little bit more. . Still, it is and remains a fascinating picture.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Notes: It turned out to be a really good drama with some comedy but not too much and some terrific acting. Honestly, I thought the whole thing was pretty flawless with a fascinating story with some very intriguing characters. My only complain would be that there were 2 very interesting plots (the children meeting their donor father and the lesbian mothers having a rough patch in their relationship) but the way they merged both stories felt pretty random and forced. The amazing thing is that even if it was a mistake, it also had a positive effect. Indeed, before that, the donor father was way too good to be true but, then, after his disastrous actions, he finally got a human face and it made the character even more interesting. The cast (Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson) was pretty amazing and I was above all impressed by Annette Bening. Indeed, after 5 minutes, I completely forgot I was watching Bening on the screen, I only saw a fully fledged character and that's what acting is or should be about.
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
Notes: Eventually, I was rather blown away by the whole thing! First of all, there was a big discussion about the fact that it might actually be a fake but, personally, I didn't think it was a fake but I don't know for sure and, honestly, I really didn't care. Indeed, in my opinion, the whole thing really did happen and The allmighty Banksy actually got pissed off because Guetta got succesfull this way and decided to take revenge with this movie. But, of course, it is only a theory and we will never know for sure. On the other hand, it seemed that he still became mesmerized by this weird and egocentric French guy. Anyway, it was definitely a really intriguing study about Art and how you could define Art. It was also a fascinating jump into the graffiti world. I think the conclusion of the movie is that Art doesn't actually exist but it also can be found in everything. I know, this statement didn't seem to make much sense but it perfectly fit this movie.
Notes: Kick-Ass is so much fun. Just the title cracks me up! Still, even so, I don't think it is a masterpiece though. Indeed, Hit-Girl didn't really work for me. Not that I was shocked or anything but what I loved in this movie is that the main character was a loser without super power. Indeed, I really loved this concept but then came Hit-Girl fighting just like a super hero... Anyway, when it was released, this movie rapidly reached a cult status. Indeed, the first half is just great. When they focused on this average teenager who tries to be a super-hero, the whole thing was just hilarious and the realistic approach was great. The directing was also awesome and the cast was really neat. Still, I really hard a hard time with Hit Girl. Not to blame Moretz who gave a tremendous performance at such a young age but I failed to see how it was 'cool' to see a 12 year old girl shooting a whole bunch of guys. Eventually, she even gets beat up which was quite inevitable and also pretty discomforting. Furthermore, like I said before, the way she completely whacks everyone makes her look totally unbelievable and completely contradicted the realistic approach they chose. Still, even though it might not be as 'awesome' as many seem to think, it still remain a very well made, original and intriguing super-hero flick.
Notes: This movie was the proof that a movie can be a huge blockbuster, entertaining and thoughtful at the same time. It's a real pity that it has lost some of its reputation several years after its release. Indeed, the nolanites are so fanatic, they really believe that this movie is the best one ever made which is kind of infuriating when you consider the wealth of movies made during more than 100 years of film history. I mean, I think it is a great movie, the best one released in 2010, but it is far from being the best movie ever made, it is not even near my top 10 at all. So, with all these arguments going on, it is actually rather difficult to objectively judge this flick nowadays. Anyway, in spite of what the lovers and haters have to say, I still think it is a great movie. Indeed, it was visually impressive, there was a great cast, the whole thing was damned entertaining and I just loved the concept behind it. The haters should keep in mind that it is and remains a blockbuster with its creative limitations. As a result, it is supposed to be enjoyed by a broad audience so you can't really expect too much artsy and philosophical shenanigans. Anyway, in spite of all the controversies, I really love this flick, Nolan did it again.
The Social Network (2010)
Notes: It is rather funny that when the rumor came out that David Fincher was making a movie about Facebook, many people started to actually trash him. Indeed, it is pretty obvious that an average director would have made an average flick with this material but Fincher succeeded in making one of the best movies of the year. I mean, I don't even care about Facebook at all, I understand that many people really love it but I really don't care about this website whatsoever. I seriously don't care if Mark Zuckerberg is actually a completely different person in real life, the Mark Zuckerberg they showed in this movie was just fascinating. Basically, the guy was a genius but he didn't look like most of your typical lead characters, physically and mentally. Furthermore, he was a disaster in the way he interacted with other people and this whole combination was just spellbinding to behold. So, the writing was quite impressive, but the directing was just as good and so was the acting as well.
A Separation (2011)
Notes: To be honest, the whole thing was at first misleading. Indeed, I thought the movie was above all about this couple who were divorcing and I thought, somehow, that the movie would deal above all with the woman because she was the one who wanted this separation. In fact, the separation wasn’t the most dramatic event that took place, but an accident involving a pregnant woman who worked for the husband who might have been responsible for her miscarriage. This turn of event was actually quite compelling to watch. Indeed, it was quite a masterstroke from the director that even though I, and many viewers I guess, have very little knowledge of the Iranian culture and, still, I could really identify with most of the characters and I was able to understand most of the struggles they were facing. And that’s the other amazing thing about this flick is that you don’t only identify with the main character, you are able to understand all the other characters involved in the story and their motivations which was something quite unique and remarkable. After watching this flick, I was thinking about ‘Not without my daughter’, an American feature taking place in Iran which gave a terrible view on this people who seemed to be able only to shout at each other like some animals. Here, you can see that they are just like us, flawed, complex and facing some struggles everyday like everyone else.
The Skin I Live In (2011)
Notes: Well, I wasn't disappointed as it was easily Pedro Almodovar's best movie in years. Indeed, it was a fascinating tale and the Spanish master delivered here a really strong thriller. On top of that, after 20 long years, he was working again with Antonio Banderas who gave here one of his best performances. Unfortunately, even though the whole thing really had the potential to be a real masterpiece, it still didn't completely worked, I'm afraid. First of all, I was worried when this guy in tiger suit showed up. Seriously, this character came from nowhere and he was basically one of these typical obnoxious characters that are a trademark in Almodovar's work. Fortunately, he was killed off within the next 10 minutes. Then, I also struggled with the daugther. I mean, she was supposed to be a major drive behind the main character's actions but she was actually poorly developed and reduced to a rather pathetic mental case. Finally, even though the story was quite powerful and already pretty messed-up, which is rather usual with this director, they still felt the need to go for a really random structure which wasn't really interesting after all. In fact, it wasn't only the structure, the whole thing was actually pretty random. For example, the way Marilia tells that she is Zeca's mother but also Robert's mother came out from nowhere, it didn't add much to the whole thing and why on Earth would she tell this to Vera? Anyway, in spite of its flaws, it was still a fascinating thriller though.
Notes: Basically, if the Dardennes brothers would remake ‘The Godfather’, it would probably look like this. Indeed, it was a really intriguing crime feature involving the ‘hormone maffia’ in Belgium and it was really interesting to see those mobs figures involved with farmers, cattle and vets instead of the usual urban areas. So, the directing was really sober and efficient but, above all, the breakthrough performance by Matthias Schoenaerts was just really amazing. Indeed, once again, you have here an actor who completely disappear behind his character who physically looked damaged but even more so psychologically and through fate, he also became an enhanced and crazed beast like his own cattle. Unfortunately, like many movies I have seen recently, they added way to many characters and way too many sub-plots and many of those were rather half-baked and unnecessary. Still, in spite of its flaws, it remains a pretty good crime drama with an amazing performance from Schoenaerts.
Notes: Even though I have the highest respect for Lars von Trier's work and I think he is truly an artist, I have to confess, I’m not a huge fan and this movie was a perfect example explaining why. I mean, it was gorgeous to look at, probably the most beautiful movie made by von Trier. Then, it was a really intriguing take on the doomsday concept, something really different than what we got from ‘Armageddon’ or ‘Deep Impact’. Still, I can’t say I really loved the damned thing though. I mean, I did enjoy and relate to his vision of how a big wedding can be daunting and dreary, even though as usual, he pushed it even further but I didn’t really get the connection with the impending apocalypse. Furthermore, even though Kirsten Dunst gave a fearless performance, probably the best of her career so far, her character slowly but surely got on my nerves. I mean, was she depressed? Psychotic? Difficult to say… Eventually, as usual with von Trier, the whole thing had some terribly dreariness and sorrow and I don’t think I will ever have a ‘good’ time watching one of his movies. Anyway, even if I wasn’t really blown away by the whole thing, there was definitely something quite mesmerizing about this flick.
The Intouchables (2011)
Notes: I remember it very well, while I was on holiday in France, this movie was just released there and it was already a huge success. Right away, I dismissed it. Indeed, I thought it was just another successful French comedy based on a very old formula and I was really not interested. But then, it became this massive international success, becoming the highest grossing French movie ever made in the process (surprisingly, it didn’t beat ‘Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis’ which is still the most successful French film in France, a movie which seems even less appealing than this one). Obviously, since this flick was such a success, I started to wonder if I might have been mistaken so I was quite eager to check it out. Indeed, I have to admit it, it is actually a pretty good flick but does it really deserve such praises and box-office records? I don’t really think so. I mean, it is a solid feelgood feature with some good performances by Omar Sy and François Cluzet and there were some funny scenes but, seriously, what was actually so amazing about this story? In my opinion, even though it tried to break some stereotypes, it was still rather stereotypical, pedestrian and quite predictable. Anyway, even if it might not be as amazing as everyone seems to think, I have to admit that it is still an enjoyable flick though.
The Artist (2011)
Notes: Following all the hype surrounding this feature which eventually managed to win the Best Picture Academy Award (a historical event for a French movie), I obviously had to watch this movie at some point. Well, eventually, even though I did like damned thing, to be honest, I can't say I was really blown away. I don’t know, maybe it had to with the fact that, to the contrary of many viewers who loved this movie, I have seen my share of old silent movies and even though I'm a huge fan of silent comedies, especially the ones starring Charlie Chaplin, I always had a hard time enjoying silent dramas and this one was not an exception. On top of that, the story was entertaining enough but it wasn't anything I haven't seen before. However, I have to admit it, it was still an original and inspiring experiment. Indeed, the directing was really solid, they gave a good feeling about this time period and the performances were really good. I was above all impressed by Jean Dujardin who was just amazing and he really deserved to receive an Academy award for his tremendous work.
Oslo, 31. august (2011)
Notes: Basically, it is a very dark Norwegian feature which gives some really interesting and harsh insights about what must happen with drug addicts when they manage to get clean. Indeed, one of the ‘positive’ aspect of being a junkie is that the drugs give you a purpose, a meaning to your life, maybe it is all rotten but still. But what happens when it’s gone? Even though the drug addicts have become more or less healthy, there is a huge vaccum in their life and, for the main character, it seems impossible to fill this vaccum. Getting in contact with friends and relatives, seeing how they managed to live a ‘normal’ life, doesn’t help either because this way of life seems difficult to understand or even rather pointless when you have turned your back on it for 5 years or even longer. In my opinion, all this stuff was missing from ‘Trainspotting’ and that’s the reason why I always had some mixed feelings about this classic. Here, all these ideas were very well developed by the director and helped by an amazing performance given by the main actor. Unfortunately, from the moment he got to the party, I thought it was not really compelling anymore. I mean, from the moment he gets there and starts to drink, you know the guy is lost and, then, the only thing you have left is waiting for the predictable ending to show up. Anyway, even if it didn’t completely convince me, it was still a very strong drama though.
Notes: Basically, after making all those gangsters flicks, Martin Scorsese decided to make for the first time a 'family' feature but, to be honest, in contrary to what most of the critics and viewers seemed to thing, I wasn't exactly blown away by the whole thing. First of all, to be honest, I don't think it was really a appealing movie for the kids in general. I mean, it was not fun at all even rather sad and all the movie references were just way too high-brow for the young viewers (even most of the adults won't have any clue about who is George Méliès). Furthermore, even though the story was fairly entertaining, it was still nothing really amazing. Still, it was a really gorgeous movie and one of the very few movies I have seen where the 3D provided some actual added value. It was also a really sweet love letter to the history of motion pictures. Eventually even if I did enjoy the damned thing, in my opinion, it was still a minor effort for Martin Scorsese but, still, a minor Scorsese is always better than all the garbage you can see nowadays.
Notes: To be honest, I thought this movie was indeed pretty good but, nothing really amazing, I’m afraid. Sure, I have to admit that it did look really terrific and it is even more impressive when you think that Nicolas Winding Refn had no knowledge of Los Angeles before shooting this flick. Furthermore, the music was just great, one of the most mesmerizing soundtracks I came across lately. The actors were also pretty good and I especially enjoyed Albert Brooks who was phenomenal playing against type a ruthless gangster. So, how come I didn’t really love this movie like (apparently) everyone else? Honestly, I didn’t care much about the story. Basically, the whole thing takes place just because the guy has a thing for his neighbor, that’s it. I thought it was pretty thin and the romantic intrigue was hardly convincing. Basically, you have a guy and a girl and they fall for each over for no particular reason except that without this love affair, there wouldn’t be any story to tell. I also had a hard time to care for the main character. Gosling did deliver a solid performance but since you don’t learn much about him, he always remained a little too far away. I understand that he was a throwback to such characters like ‘The Man with No Name’ immortalized by Clint Eastwood but the big difference is that ‘The Man with No Name’ obviously didn’t give a sh*t about anything and that was the only thing you needed to know about him. In the case of ‘The Driver’, there was obviously a lot going on in his head but since you never get to know him, it was rather frustrating. Still, they managed to create a great mood and I definitely enjoyed the whole thing.
The Kid with a Bike (2011)
Notes: To be honest, I was slightly disappointed by the Dardennes brothers's previous movie, ‘Le Silence de Lorna’, but this time, they blew me away again. Indeed, within the first minutes, I was completely fascinated by the tragedy lived by this troubled young boy. Basically, you witness this 11 years old boy mentally melting down in front of you and it was just heartbreaking to behold. On one hand, he is a resourceful kid who knows what he wants and how to defend himself but, on a psychological level, he is a total mess but, considering the circumstances, it is not really surprising. Of course, it is really shocking to see his father discarding him like an old sock. Would it be too much to ask him to spend some time with his own boy once in a while? Unfortunately, I’m afraid many men and women do make this kind of decisions and the Dardenne brothers are not shy to throw these facts right in your face. At the center of this tragedy, you have this young boy played by an unknown called Thomas Doret and it must have been one of the best child performances I have ever seen. Seriously, this boy was just completely amazing and mesmerizing to watch.
The Tree of Life (2011)
Notes: Basically, this movie started with an awe inspiring introduction which I cannot describe and then the movie went very theological and metaphysical. I guess that since I'm not that smart, I was kind of losing track of the whole thing but then Mallick came again and again with some amazing sequences really beautifully shot with some awesome music, and then I was again completely fascinated by the moving pictures in front of me. I know, this review sounds rather cryptical but so was this movie. Watching this movie was like going to a museum and staring at a masterpiece. Nothing is explained to you but you get some emotional reaction to it, right there in your gut, a reaction which will be really personal and someone else may have a completely different response to it. In my opinion, Brad Pitt gave an amazing performance and I don't think I have ever seen any children giving such impressive performances before, just mind-blowing. And of course, Malick is an amazing director, actually he is not, he is an amazing artist, something rare nowadays in the movie industry. This movie touched me very deeply and many times, I thought I was watching myself when the father was messing up his family or when the older boy was getting messed up.
Notes: Once again, Steve McQueen really impressed me and it is not very often that you come across a director who managed to deliver so much quality with just 3 movies (It's too bad that I didn't care much for 'Widows'). The only thing I’m worried is that the whole dreariness of his tales might become a gimmick at some point if he keeps throwing at us such dark and relentless dramas. Anyway, this time, he gave us a rather painful portrait of a man driven by his obsession and how his life constantly revolved around this obsession and nothing else. Since I’m a rather obsessive person myself, it was rather confronting and I could definitely relate with him in the way that, even though his constant search for sex gave him a purpose, it also made him emotionless and completely unable to connect or socialize with other human beings. At least, junkies or alcoholists usually have an active (albeit sick) social life but the main character here chose not to have such a social life, probaby because of the shame he constantly felt. Once again, Michael Fassbender who is obviously one of the greatest actors of his generation gave a fearless performance and it is really astonishing that he wasn’t even nominated at the Academy awards.
Notes: It’s only later on that I discovered that Roger Ebert picked up this movie as one of the best released in 2011. Well, as usual, good Old Roger was right… Indeed, it was a terrific drama and something awful to watch for any parent. Indeed, my step-daughter is now 26 years old but I remember all those years worrying when she was younger spending hours on MSN chatting with some people she barely knew. Her sister is now 14 years old and I guess I would have to go soon through this phase again… And guess who directed this amazing flick? David Schwimmer, of all people!!! Basically, it was a masterful psychological study of a father and a daughter after she had been assaulted by a pedophile. The really amazing thing about this flick was how heartfelt the characters were developed. The whole process went into details and seemed pretty realistic on how a teenager could fall for this and her reactions afterwards were quite striking as well. At some point, I was worried that the father will go full vigilante on us but it was not that kind of movie, fortunately.
127 Hours (2011)
Notes: Since I'm a huge fan of Danny Boyle's work, of course, I really wanted to check this check this flick. Furthermore, the buzz surrounding this movie was also quite intriguing so I was expecting a lot from the damned thing. First of all, this movie is based on an amazing story and even if the movie would have sucked, the story in itself would still be interesting. Then, my first impression was that I was actually rather distracted by the uplifting music at the beginning of the movie but I guess the music didn't represent the mood of the audience ("something terrible is going to happen...") but the mood of the main character ("I'm going to have a great week-end!"). A part from that, the whole thing was rather quite impressive. In fact, I was still shaken up many days after watching the damned thing... The directing by Danny Boyle, as usual, was really good and, once again, James Franco showed that he was, at the time, one of the most interesting actors at work. Basically, they really succeeded in making you share Aaron's feelings in his terrible ordeal.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)
Notes: Of course, a movie about Chauvet cave (la grotte de Chauvet in French) did sound really intriguing. However, I didn’t expect it to be so awe-inspiring. I mean, at first, I thought ‘Great… I’m getting to spend 90 minutes in some cave, I’m going to get bored so fast…’ but no, it never got boring. Indeed, from the very first second we entered this cave, the whole thing was quite spellbinding. Basically, those paintings are the oldest ever found (about 35000 years old) and about twice as old as the previous oldest painting. When watching these, it’s basically watching the birth of Art which was quite overwhelming, at least, if you have any interest in Art. The striking thing is that even though those paintings were obviously primitive, they also had some impressive artistic qualities, like some amazing shades and contrast effects and those were just simply beautiful to look at. It was also kind of emotional to realize that those ‘primitive’ cavemen actually had some artistic aspirations already 35000 years ago, something that really has defined us as human-being and one of the major differences we have with other animals. As usual with Herzog, you have this rather weird narration provided by Herzog himself and it can be annoying but I think it’s an asset because its enhances the whole surreal aspect of this situation. Apparently, it was released in the theaters in 3D and, according to Roger Ebert, it worked pretty well so I really wonder how the whole thing looked in this format.
Notes: Basically, it is a really slow burning drama but it was very effective and the ending was just heart-breaking. Still, I thought it was a little bit frustrating that they never named in which country the whole thing took place and it bugged me so much, I had to stop half way through it to look it up on the internet. And, indeed, it takes place in an unnamed Middle-Eastern country based on Lebanon. There were also some refugees whose nationality was never specified. Even though I consider myself an history buff, I was sometimes confused, and if you don’t have any knowledge of this region history, I’m pretty sure you’ll be confused as well. Anyway, it didn’t change the fact that it was a fascinating drama with some shades of thriller elements. The cast was also really good and, like I said before, the ending was completely heartbreaking hitting me like a truck on full speed. Usually, I’m annoyed to death by the typical twist ending provided by your average Hollywood thriller. It is a useless gimmick but, in this movie, it was really good and appropriate. Even the random chronology which is so much overused nowadays worked really well here. This movie was also a terrible reminder of all the atrocities which have been taken place in the last 50 years in the Middle East.
The Descendants (2011)
Notes: I wonder why it took Alexander Payne 7 years to finally come up with a new director effort. Anyway, it was definitely worth the wait, that’s for sure. Indeed, I thought it was a very good drama with a perfect pace (probably the best directing by Payne so far) , some more than solid performances and some of the best written characters I have seen lately. The beginning monolog also stroke a personal chord in the sense that my wife has been really sick for about 8 years now and I had about the same internal monologs as our relantionship was already pretty chaotic even before she got some health issues and even more afterwards. Of course, I didn’t went through the rest of the story myself but it was definitely a good start. But the movie is not only about a family tragedy, it is also about the faith of an aristocratic family and what they should do with their land. That part of the story was also quite fascinating and it is quite amazing that they managed to balance such diverse topics in one movie.
The Hunt (2012)
Notes: Thomas Vinterberg has delivered one of his strongest movies so far. Indeed, personally, I have always been intrigued about our current obsession about pedophilia and this movie gave me some really interesting insights about our current approach about such issues. I mean, it is something absolutely dreadful but it has always been around and, in the past, it was a rather taboo subject but, nowadays, we are not supposed to trust anyone with our children, even people close to us, resulting in the massive hysteria displayed in this movie. But that's the whole problem here. Wouldn't it be really awful to not believe a child who was really a victim? But, on the other hand, to make an innocent man such a monster might be just as terrible. I was actually amazed that the adults would keep repeating that kids always tell the truth which is something I don't believe at all. The reality is actually much more subtle. Basically, depending on the circumstances, a child might tell you anything, it could be the truth, a lie, but usually, they will try to tell the adults exactly what they want to hear, which was exactly what happened in this movie. I must admit that I was really amazed that the guy would still live there after everything he has been through. In his case, I would have just taken off and try to start over somewhere else, instead of staying with this people who never believed or trusted him. And, the very last scene which I found tricky to analyse tells me that it would have been indeed a wiser choice.
Django Unchained (2012)
Notes: Eventually, even though I had a good time, pretty much like with 'Inglourious Basterd', there were many things I enjoyed but also many things that just puzzled me and, at the end of the day, I can't say that it was really so amazing. The first half was really good though. Indeed, it was sharp, focused and really really fun with some great dialogues. Furthermore, there was a great cast and they delivered some strong performances. Many people actually criticized Tarantino for constantly using the word 'nigger' and being disrespectful about the sensitive subject of slavery but I thought he handled it actually really well, probably better than the Nazis in 'Inglourious Basterds'. Indeed, the living conditions of the slaves were displayed as really horrible and the slave owners were displayed as stupid morons looking also quite terrible as well. It was just a really f*cked up business and Tarantino didn't sugarcoat the whole thing, that's for sure. So, what went wrong? From the moment that DiCaprio showed up on the screen, the whole thing lost some momentum. Don't get me wrong, DiCaprio was terrific but from this point, you get some very long dialogues involving DiCaprio, Waltz, Foxx and even Samuel L. Jackson who also gave one of his best performances. The problem was that all those actors were just amazing and Django pretty much get upstaged, sitting quiet in a corner while the other actors were really stealing the show. I don't know, the whole thing with the slave deals was also seriously quite murky and, precisely like in 'Inglourious Basterds', after this long talk, the whole thing was concluded with a huge shoot-out.... How disappointing... But it didn't stop there, no, Django was sent away and came back again for yet another bloodbath! Why?!? What's the point of this second bloodbath?!? In my opinion, the main issue with this 2nd half is that you had 4 fascinating characters (Django, Dr Schultz, Calvin, Stephen) and you could have made one brilliant movie about each one of them but to put them all together in one single room was just too much to handle for this movie. Eventually, the only solution Tarantino found was to kill all of them, except obviously Django, but it was a rather weak way to solve this predicament. Still, like I said before, the whole thing was pretty good though and I had a good time watching this.
Holy Motors (2012)
Notes: Eventually, as I expected, it was a pretty tough watch. Indeed, after watching virtually everything directed by David Lynch, I think I had my share of weird experimental mind-f*cks so I definitely had a hard time to connect with this picture. Still, there is no denying that there was still something quite spellbinding about the whole thing. I think my interest finally started to rise with the really strange sequence with the mo-cap artists which was really far-out and easily my favorite part. Sometimes, you did get some scenes which seemed a little bit more traditional but everything was massively chaotic and you wonder how Carax came up with all this stuff. Anyway, in the center of all this, you had Denis Lavant and you have to give some credit to this guy who portrayed all these wildly different characters (according to the end-credits, they were 11) but, somehow, he still managed to give them some depth which is even more remarkable when you think that he had no plot to hang on to. Eventually, even if it didn’t really blow me away, it was still a really intriguing flick.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
Notes: Nowadays, almost every year now, you have one small feature opening at Sundance which gets a massive push from critics and becomes a hit, at least critically. Well, this movie was a typical example and therefore, I was really eager to check it out. Eventually, even though I really liked it, I can’t say I really loved it though. Basically, it is a rather dark and gloomy picture, with some really nice directing and rather flawless acting but I didn’t like their approach of showing a harsh reality while telling you at the same time ‘Don’t worry, this isn't actually reality, it is in fact some magic realism so you shouldn’t worry about the terrible fate of these characters’. I also didn’t like much the way they introduced the father who was displayed at first as a careless drunk douchebag but, by the end, it might be in fact the best father in the world after all. That was some rather cheap manipulation. Still, there was definitely something quite mesmerizing about the damned thing. Indeed, even though they obviously didn’t have much money, they created a detailled and organic world and most of the shots were very well done and beautiful to look at. And, of course, the very young Quvenzhané Wallis gave an impressive performance, she was only 5 years old when was cast and became, at 9 years old, the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actress Oscar and will probably remain so for a long time.
End of Watch (2012)
Notes: The first thing I enjoyed in this flick was that, for once, it wasn't dealing with some dirty cops or some wild cowboys but with some decent police officers who are really dedicated to their work which was quite refreshing. Concerning the documentary-style directing, obviously, it wasn't really original but it was efficient enough and it definitely gave the whole thing a really realistic look. Finally, in my opinion, the biggest asset was the great chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. Indeed, this movie was not just about the shootings and chases, it was also about those two men who spent most of their time in their car and how they deal with that. They both gave some really strong performances and while we have been used to greatness with Gyllenhaal (probably one of the best actors of his generation), it was really neat to see Michael Peña shining in a such a star-making performance.
Notes: Even though Michael Haneke is already around 70 years old, he is definitely on fire right now and won with this movie his 2nd Golden Palm in a row at the Cannes Film Festival and it won many other awards as well. And, indeed, it definitely deserved all the praises it has received. Personally, I enjoyed it more than ‘The White Ribbon’ which was pretty good but didn’t really blow me away. Anyway, it is pretty amazing to see the evolution of Haneke through his movies. I mean, he has always been fascinated by death and how mankind deals with it but his vision has always been ice cold and pretty much emotionless. Here, he finally gave us the opportunity to dive in his vision of our world but, for once, he allowed us also to invest ourselves in the characters and the end-result was quite amazing. Furthermore, I think it is disappointing that so few movies are dealing with elderly people (even though the older population is ever growing) and, instead, there is always this disappointing focus and obsession on youth. Well, here you finally get a realistic and spellbinding portrait of two old people who are facing the end of their journey together and the subject has never been handled so brilliantly before.
Rust and Bone (2012)
Notes: I really wonder how they came up with such a messed up but also intriguing story. At the center, you have two of the most spellbinding characters I have ever seen thanks to some flawless performances by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. Concerning the directing, Jacques Audiard once again blew me away and the guy is pretty much the best French director at work nowadays. Indeed, he managed to shot beautiful scenes without making them too much artsy and he gave enough room to develop some amazingly deep characters who were completely 3 dimensional. To be honest, I wasn't completely sold by the ending which didn't really work for me. Indeed, I just loved the deliberate slow pacing but, suddenly, in the 3rd act, everything was terribly rushed because they didn’t have any more time to make sure that Ali realised that his son and Stephanie were really important in his life and the whole thing felt like a massive short-cut. Still, it was a minor flaw and it is quite an amazing drama.
Searching for Sugar Man (2012)
Notes: Since I kept hearing some really good things about this flick, I was really eager to check it out and, boy, I wasn’t disappointed. First of all, contrary to some other similar documentaries dealing with some lost music artists like ‘Anvil: The Story of Anvil’ or ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’, Rodriguez’ music was actually pretty good and some of his songs have some mesmerizing quality ('Crucify your mind' totally gave me the goosebumps). So, that was a already good start but the best part was this incredible tale about this artist who never had any mainstream success at all anywhere in the world but, somehow, became a huge icon in South African as big as Elvis Presley or the Beatles. I was glad I didn’t know much about the guy or this movie beforehand (like the majority of the rest of the world) because this movie had some major twists. I think I shouldn’t talk much about it because I don’t want to spoil it but the last 30 minutes were pretty messianic. This tale ends up on a really inspiring note and this Rodriguez guy turned out to be one of the most intriguing music artists I have ever heard of.
The Act of Killing (2012)
Notes: It turned out to be a really weird and messed up documentary, that’s for sure. First of all, I have to confess, I wasn’t really aware of all the horrors that happened in Indonesia about 50 years ago and only therefore it was already a really valuable feature (as a result, Indonesia is another country I won’t be visiting for ‘fun’). Anyway, not only this movie deals with a massively traumatic experience but it deals with it in such a unique way, as a result, the whole thing was just as much fascinating as it was horrifying. Indeed, even though you might expect these executioners to regret their actions, most of them didn’t feel much guilt, in the contrary, they were actually proud of what they did and, as a result, this movie was more about the psychological impact then putting actual blame on people. I mean, if you see ‘Shoa’, everyone, even the former SS, agree that what happened in WWII was horrible but, then, Germany lost the war. In Indonesia, the same people who ordered the purge still have the power and, therefore, after so many decades, those ‘winners’ have been telling anyone that what they happened was actually justified creating this weird acceptation of a major human tragedy. And yet, when you get to see Anwar Congo, right from the beginning, you wonder if he really believes everything he says and, indeed, slowly, after reproducing these terribly deeds, his attitude changes and, towards the end, he seems to be finally devastated by what he has done.
Notes: To my surprise, I really enjoyed this movie. I mean, I was expecting something good but not something so entertaining. Indeed, it seemed to be historically pretty accurate, it was a thrilling thriller and there were even some hilarious bits. Even the animated introduction was neat because it gave a context for the whole thing. Without it, the Iranians would have been some bloodthirsty hysterical fanatics but, with this intro, you were able to understand that there was once upon a time a legit prime minister who took care off his people, nationalizing the petroleum industry in the process. But, of course, the American government didn't like this and replaced him with the Sha who turned out to be a despote and after years of cruel dictactorship, the population turned to the Muslim fundamentalists. All this information that you get within the first minutes of this movie was crucial because it allowed you understand how the whole situation turned out to be so terrible. It gave a great nuance about their endeavour. Indeed, Mendez was a great hero and the CIA did a terrific job but they also messed up this contry for decades so two sides were displayed. After that, I don't know, I thought it was just quite thrilling. I mean, I did like 'Gone Baby Gone' and 'The Town' but I never thought that either one were really that amazing. However, this flick was a total different kind of ball game. It was slick, smart, emotional and, sometimes, just plain fun. Of course, there were a few issues. The first one, obviously, was that you knew from the start that they were going to make it so for us, viewers, there was never much at stake as for those poor fellows. Still, Affleck managed to make it quite nail-biting. The other issue I had was that, at some point, there were couple of scenes where the military police were just missing them for a few minutes. It didn't work very well but it didn't spoil the whole thing.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Notes: In my opinion, his movie was just really amazing. I even shed a few tears, something that never happened to me before. First of all, the characters and the whole story really touched me personally as I was reminded of how I met my wife and why we ended up together in the first place. Finally, it was just a terrific movie with some real characters, with some real issues, dealing with their emotions and making me laugh and cry. I was also impressed by Bradley Cooper. Man, this guy seems to be the real deal. Indeed, only a few years back, he got his breakthrough with 'The Hangover' as a supposedly funny guy, then he became quickly another pretty face but, now, he is profiling himself as a genuinely talented dramatic actor. Concerning Jennifer Lawrence who actually won the Academy award for this performance, I'm not so sure. To be honest, in my opinion, she was actually too young for this part but she was solid and she definitely had some strong chemisty with Cooper. Eventually, I just loved this flick, it is basically an awesome drama and a great romantic-comedy.
Life of Pi (2012)
Notes: It turned out to be a really fascinating story, a gorgeous movie to look at and I'm really glad I'm managed to watch it in the movie theater and in 3D. Pretty much like the late Roger Ebert, I really dread this new 3D hype but Ang Lee used it very well and it definitely enhanced the whole experience. It is pretty funny to think that 10 years ago, Ang Lee was ridiculed for 'Hulk' (in my opinion, a feature criminally underrated and actually one of the best super-hero flicks ever made) above all for its really ugly CGI sequences. This time around, Lee didn't only manage to master the CGI, he made one of the best use of it I have witnessed. Just mind-blowing. Used properly it can be a great tool but it's unfortunate that nowadays it is mostly used to create some big robots, huge monsters or impossible explosions. So, it was visually fascinating and the story was also really interesting with some thoughts about fiction, reality, religion and rationality.
Zero Dark Thirty (2013)
Notes: Personally, I was really impressed by ‘The Hurt Locker’ so I was really eager to see Kathryn Bigelow’s next directing effort, especially after it was heralded by the critics. Eventually, she came up with again another thriller about the war against terrorism and she once again pretty much nailed it, even though I thought that ‘The Hurt Locker’ was still superior. Still, this chick really can direct some realistic and spellbinding thrillers, no doubt about it, and I was on the edge of my seat during the whole duration which is quite remarkable since we all pretty much know how it will end from the start. The first touch that I appreciated where the first few minutes where you hear those horrific (and probably real) phone calls from the victimes of 09/11. It was just heartbreaking and gave a background to what will happen next. Basically, I don’t think Bygelow tried to make us think that it was ok to torture all these people but, with this introduction, it explains that the USA was (and probably still is) at war and that they would use any means necessary. The point was to show without judging and the point was well made. Personally, I always wonder why it took them so long to find Bin Laden and, with this movie, you get more or less an explanation but we’ll never know for sure.
Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)
Notes: Eventually, I was quite blown away by the whole thing and, in my opinion, it was one of the most beautiful and intense love stories I have ever seen. Rightfully, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos were heralded for their performances and they were both just mesmerizing to behold. Seriously, I still can’t stop thinking about their relationship which was so raw and realistic. This is basically the kind of relationship we all dream to have once in our lifetime. To be honest, I have to admit that not everything did work though. Of course, there is the matter of those very explicit sex scenes. Indeed, on one hand, it felt really voyeuristic and it seemed to be a very masculine point of view on lesbian love. You might wonder if those scenes really added something valuable to the story but, on the other hand, you might argue that they matched the intensity of their feelings for each other. Another thing that did bother me was the fact that I didn’t really grasp the chronology. Indeed, at some point, there was some kind of flash-forward and the previous conflicts in Adéle’s life (with her parents, her school friends) were just wiped away and never mentioned again. Anyway, in spite of these flaws, it was still an amazing love story.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Notes: For about 20 years, I have been faithfully following the Coen brothers but, to be honest, it had been a while since they really blew me away. Indeed, even after watching ‘No Country for Old Men’ twice, I still didn’t think it was one of the best films ever made, or even one of their best movies. The main issue with the Coen brothers is that it all depends on my mood. Depending on when I would watch one of their movies, I would either love it or it would make me indifferent. Apparently, this time, I was in a great mood since I really loved this flick. Indeed, I thought it was quite hilarious, one of their best sardonic comedies. Llewin Davis was a great character, some guy who decided at some point to become a folk singer but was never able to breakthrough, partly because of his lack of luck and partly because of his obnoxious behavior. It was such a flawed individual, indeed quite talented with his guitar and songs but so socially awkward and stubbornly making the wrong decisions. Obviously, it was a star making performance for Oscar Isaac but the rest of the cast, especially John Goodman was really good as well. The only issue I would have is that the whole thing was maybe too episodic but it was a minor flaw.
Before Midnight (2013)
Notes: Since I kept hearing some great things about this flick, I had some rather high expectations. First of all, I know it might sound silly, but I was actually a little bit confused by the location. Indeed, it was only during the last 30 minutes that I understood that they were not actually living in Greece but that they were there only on vacation. Anyway, that was certainly not a deal breaker. Basically, at last, Jesse and Céline were finally together and, in fact, when the film starts, they have actually been together for almost a decade and they even have 2 cute twin girls. So, you could think that all is well but, eventually, most of the romance is now gone and they spend maybe half of the movie arguing about various subjects. I know, it might sound disappointing for everyone who just wanted to see some spotless eternal love in their movies but, if you, like me, are craving for something more down-to-earth and realistic, then you will definitely love this flick. Indeed, by now, those characters have been so well developed (after all, we have spent 2 decades following their evolution as individuals and as a couple) and they are still fascinating to behold. On top of that, most of their thoughts and feelings are so relatable, especially if you are yourself in a long-term relationship with kids, and it made the whole thing even more meaningful to me.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Notes: Somehow, the vampires have been an endless source of inspiration for the filmmakers, ever since 'Nosferatu' was made about 100 years ago, and while most of the mainstream features like 'Twilight' are terribly underwhelming, Jim Jarmusch managed to come up with something fresh and original. Indeed, instead of the usual boring action scenes, you get here a fascinating and melancholic character study about some of these night creatures. Once again with this director, the soundtrack was just perfect and mesmerizing and, with Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, he couldn't have found some better actors. To be honest, there were a couple of things that did bother me though. For example, how on Earth a vampire should be able to die like that? It seemed to be an odd choice. Furthermore, those vampires were apparently filthy rich and with such wealth, it shouldn't be really difficult to find some blood and, yet, they act as if they are going to die soon. Anyway, even though it was probably missing something to be truly amazing, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
Short Term 12 (2013)
Notes: Eventually, I was seriously impressed by the damned thing and I'm not surprised that it gave Brie Larson's deserved breakthrough. The first thing I enjoyed was the fact they didn't give a tedious introduction to make sure that the viewers understood what was going on. Sure, Rami Malek was playing a new employee on his first day so they gave him a few tips, obviously, to still informed somehow the viewers but, fortunately, they didn't focus too much on his character. Anyway, the way they presented this foster-care facility felt so realitisc and, very often, it felt like watching a fascinating documentary. I have to admit that I did struggle a little bit with how much time they spent on the private life of the co-workers and, to be honest, I don't think that someone with so much personal baggage like the main character was actually really suited for this kind of job. On the other hand, it was really interesting to see someone so damaged who had decided to help such kids in need until she got to the point that she couldn't handle anymore the pressure because her work reminded her that she should also face her own demons.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Notes: I thought it was so entertaining and actually downright hilarious which wasn’t something I really expected. During some scenes, especially when DiCaprio was heavily intoxicated, he gave us some real slapstick and it actually worked like a charm. I mean, even though there was a really solid supporting cast, the focus was put on Jordan Belfort and as a result, DiCaprio had basically to carry the whole thing on his shoulders. He did a fine job, supported by the fine directing provided by Martin Scorsese, but honestly, by now, we know pretty well that he can play the talented but very neurotic characters like no one else and it would be nice if he tried something else for once. Furthermore, the other characters were not very well developed since they didn’t get much space in my opinion which is rather surprising since the movie lasted 3 hours. And, indeed, it was rather long and you wonder so many times when Belfort will finally get caught and eventually fall down. Anyway, even though it might not the best movie made by the duo Scorsese-DiCaprio, it was still terribly entertaining and easily the most hilarious film released in 2013.
Notes: First of all, I have to say that I'm usually not a huge fan of such thrillers because they rely way too much on the usual tricks and gimmicks. Well, this one was really a different kind of ball game and it was easily the best movie I have seen in this genre for many years. Where should I start? First, it was emotionally so intense, you spent more than 2 hours with these characters and, at some point, it became pretty much a genuine nightmare. I mean, thanks to some stellar performances and some really solid writing, you get so close to the characters, not only the parents but also the detective looking for those girls, that it became so believable that you could feel their agony and despair. At some point, following this terrible predicament, one of the parents makes a terrible judgment call but how many parents, in the same situation wouldn't do the same? Following 'Incendies', it is another spellbinding thriller delivered by Denis Villeneuve who once again pushed the viewers in the darkest corners of the human mind and, once again, I will keep thinking about this flick for many days.
Notes: Ever since I moved to the Netherlands, I have watched many Dutch movies but, honestly, most of them are not really interesting. However, all the members of my film club were really enthusiast about this guy, Alex van Warmerdam, so I became really curious about his work. Eventually, I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed, even though I had seen only this movie at the time (I have seen all his movies since then though), he was already in my top 5 best Dutch movie directors ever. The point is that his style is really original, something terribly lacking in your typical Dutch movie, and this flick would be actually really difficult to explain. Basically van Warmerdam, who has a nice visual style on top of that, seemingly mixes dark comedy with some thriller elements and some rather random violence and the end-result was pretty impressive. The main issue I had is that I don’t think he really cared about the characters. I mean, he put them in some really weird situations and they all react pretty randomly which makes the whole thing intriguing but also rather pointless. If you add with that the fact that there was no real plot whatsoever, the whole thing felt rather unsubstantial. Still, there was a lot of hilarious moments and the whole thing was pretty bold, definitely.
Blue Jasmine (2013)
Notes: Every 5 or 6 years, it seemed that Woody Allen still managed to deliver something praised by the critics and this movie was apparently his last decent one. To be honest, I had my doubts since all his supposedly 'decent' efforts like 'Midnight In Paris', 'Vicky Christina Barcelona' or 'Match Point' were indeed not bad but they seriously failed to really impress me. Well, this movie was not different, I'm afraid. I mean, I have to admit it, I did like the damned thing. Cate Blanchett was indeed really impressive giving one of her best performances but, if you would remove her, the whole thing wouldn't have much else to offer. The main issue I had, I guess, is that none of the characters were either likable or really interesting. Basically, the conclusion with this movie is that the people from the upper class are really shallow but the working class people seem to be just as underwhelming and while it might be true, it didn’t result in something really rewarding to watch. Furthermore, some bits were actually rather poorly written proving once again that Allen should probably take a little more time to write his scripts instead of releasing a movie every single year. For example, the whole romance involving Peter Sarsgaard, especially how it started and how it ended, was just rather weak and poorly developed, in my opinion. Anyway, even if I think it is rather overrated, it was still a decent watch though, thanks to Blanchett's stellar performance.
Notes: Back then, I had never seen a movie directed by Paolo Sorrentino and to discovered a new director made the whole thing even more intriguing. On top of that, I knew really nothing about this flick. Eventually, I have to admit it, it was a rather tough watch. What was actually about?!? Difficult to say… Middle-life crisis maybe? It is pretty obvious that Paolo Sorrentino tried to make a modern version of ‘La Dolce Vita’ but I’m not sure if his movie will be remembered in 50 years. I mean, right from the beginning, you have nothing really to hang on to, no plot whatsoever, just some random scenes following one after the other. I don’t necessarily need a plot but, then, I need then some really fascinating characters. There again, I didn’t care much for the characters, except for the lead, Jep Gambardella. Indeed, this guy was pretty cool, really smart but not a snob. Still, I liked the damned thing though. Indeed, it was visually quite exquisite with no static shots, constantly moving, and there was a great combination with the music. Basically, it is a rather enigmatic feature which doesn’t give you any answer and you are constantly on your toes trying to guess what the hell is actually going on.
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A selection of 1001 movies chosen by Johanlefourbe
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Furthermore, if you're like me and you don't feel like browsing through the whole list, you can now use this index :
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- 1001 Movies ... my own version (1970's)
- 1001 Movies ... my own version (1960's)
- 1001 Movies ... my own version (1950's)
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- 1001 Movies ... my own version (1910's)
- 1001 Movies ... my own version (1900's)
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