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Added by VierasTalo on 9 Jan 2020 01:04
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Film Journal 2020

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January

People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 7.4
Hairat (2017)
A mental reset is required a lot nowadays to focus on what feels essential in life. Hairat chronicles a nightly reset of one man as he feeds a pack of hyenas meat in the night, often via a stick hanging on his mouth. DP Efrem Degu and director/co-DP Jessica Bashir capture this in some of the most striking black-and-white imagery of the 2010s. The whole thing is narrated with a poem about a release, a return, of sorts. All of it made me very sad.

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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 6.9
Steal some technology from Conan O'Brien's office circa 2004, apparently

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Ugh. I wish this was better because it is trying to say quite a lot about the general concept of self-help gurus and life coaches and the development of self-image. Unfortunately it goes at it with a hackneyed approach to the material as a third of the run-time is spent watching "kooky gurus" do their shtick with one character staring very displeased at the goings on, giving it an overall vibe of "aren't these people stoooopid and aren't you smart for thinking that" which is honestly one of the worst feelings a movie can try to illicit. When it barely lands a single joke in the entire movie the mix becomes somewhat unbearable, so, despite a good eye for visuals and a real good lead performance and... I mean, I can see the heart in the messaging, but it's clouded by the snooty attitude.

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People who added this item 44 Average listal rating (32 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
Look, I'll get this out of the way: The super optimistic tone this movie strikes at it's climax feels exceptionally unearned, and hinders what could work, even as an optimistic finale, to something akin to a Takashi Miike budgeting solution where the movie just turns into a joke because there's no money left but hey let's do it with style. Except here the style isn't really there for that part.

But beyond that (to me major, to you possibly very minor) gripe, I wouldn't dare yuck anyone's yum on One Cut of the Dead as this is maaaaybe the most mechanically savvy and fulfilling films I've seen in a long time. Yeah, that isn't a descriptor you'd usually use for a movie, because, well, it's a movie, not an intricate Swiss stopwatch, but sometimes a movie forces you to view it on a mechanical level. It's very hard, but this one does it effortlessly, and through that endeavor it also rewards you. A lot. Consistently. It's really fun in a way movies rarely are.
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People who added this item 6 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
An intriguing premise one would hope would be elaborated on. It isn't the lack of a climax that disturbs me but rather that this feels like the opening to some gritty 80s New York street hustler movie that just stops. In a way that's a primo way of making your short a lot more interesting because it makes you imagine where this thing would go, but I don't necessarily think there's anything here that makes it so the same wouldn't be achieved with, say, one sentence scribbled on a napkin. Not to say I won't just sit in the Safdie bros view of NY for the heck of it, I just wish it packed a bit more something to it.

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People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 0
¡Tupamaros! (1974)
A traditional propaganda film on the actions of the tupamaros, or National Liberation Movement, and as such the first film from Uruguay I've seen. Oddly enough it doesn't really have that bolster that a lot of propaganda has, as it doesn't bloat even the most fantastical events in the movement's lifespan (telling, among others, an insane prison break of over 100 members with a deadpan attitude befitting the listing of a lunch menu at a mediocre diner). Rather it commits several acts of omission, noting only a few killings the movement committed, those against a notorious CIA torture trainer and against soldiers, rather than discussing the murder of civilians which the movement practiced if needed as well. This, along with the ending of the film featuring a hymn for lost comrades, is the biggest stamp of this documentary not being entirely objective, or even subjective from the point of view of anyone but the top brass of the movement. Still, it's all very interesting, as it contains a fair amount of footage you'd probably not see elsewhere, be it police photos of decimated corpses, the tupamaros prison complex, or interviews with ministers and the like reluctantly admitting to the resiliency of the movement. I enjoyed how this was clearly a film made during these events rather than afterwards, and even though it sometimes reflects through the aspect of attempting to recruit the viewer, you can also see it through those candid interviews. A minister of the government wouldn't admit to thinking so highly of the movement after their government ran it to the ground as they did when they had political clout. Anyhow, very interesting curiosity, all around.

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I'm trying to fill out that world map that's on the Letterboxd stats page so I'm exploring new countries! Up first, Bolivia and Blood of the Condor. There are few more powerful openings to a film than what we have here, as a long quote from Martin Bormann's instructions on the occupation of Ukraine during the Third Reich (particularly regarding the prevention of reproduction of indigenous people) and a long quote from James Donner's speech given at a California university who knows when, on the subject of the imperialist and colonialist mindset of viewing indigenous people as the other (in this case "simply animals [...] a malignant disease" and something to enslave.

These are blocks of text that are designed to come out swinging and though blood of the Condor has its quieter moments it never really stops doing this swinging as we're treated to a story of an indigenous Bolivian community being targeted for forced sterilization by a Peace Corps -esque organization (funnily enough the release of this film prompted the real Peace Corps to leave the country, hinting at more than slight proof of this being the actual case), rising up against them, getting shot for their troubles, and the brother of one of the shot men trying to get him medical help in a newly capitalist society in which he needs money for a blood transfusion.

The highlight of the film, aside from the no-punches-pulled fashion it is made with (oh lord that scene where the brother ends up in a high stakes luncheon with speeches being made by the people responsible for bringing the sterilizers to the country while the shot brother is dying in a hospital), is the music. It's a very impressive score, mostly consisting of siku and other, traditional instruments to the region, that are then distorted, occasionally to the point of being unrecognizable. It fits the very, very depressing tale of colonization, and especially the montage of the brother walking desperately around a marketplace witnessing first-hand the imperialist effects of his culture becoming a commodity in the form of trinkets for whites while the music his people have been instrumental in creating is being screwed all over our ears.
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People who added this item 443 Average listal rating (308 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.6
Road House (1989)
Being a person whose job for a few years involved dealing with people in a way that made them do things they didn't always want to do (admittedly in a much less intense and less violent environment than this film!) I found myself intrigued by the opening hour of Road House as Swayze goes about converting a crappy bar to a fancy bar by teaching bouncers how to treat customers. It's a thread dropped a bit too soon to engage with a traditional evil carpetbagger -story where said carpetbagger holds the whole town under an iron grip and this Yojimbo-Swayze is the only one who can take him down. The film receives interesting flavor towards the end as Swayze's character ostensibly becomes more and more of a sociopath despite everyone urging him in the other direction. The primal nature that is unearthed is treated by the film as a virtue in the end which is a bit of a simplification to say the very least, but, as with most of it's themes, it doesn't engage with it much. The climactic action scene where Swayze dispatches the local goons in a cat-and-mouse game in a big mansion is straight out of a more over-the-top 80s movie with the oneliners and all, and doesn't entirely work in context. Before that the repeated barfights are fun enough though, especially since they're usually initiated by some real funky dialogue – occasionally even said by Terry Funk himself! "Heard you have balls big enough to fill a dump truck" and all. Women are either trophies, commodities or trouble, but I did appreciate Kelly Lynch functioning as a voice of reason towards the end (one that the film nor it's characters want to listen to).
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People who added this item 30 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 0
You can definitely see director Armando Crispino catering hard for the "terza visione" crowd by filling the first ten minutes of this movie with some real bonkers shit as disturbing and sleazy visuals take over the screen as we witness several suicides (including a murder-suicide where a father has shot his two children and then machine guns his torso off), grating solar flares, a lot of nudity, including corpse nudity, and the corpses sort of start having an orgy, and our leading lady who hallucinated said orgy gets groped by a dickhead in a car. Then we meet her father who also gropes her and kisses her on the lips, and we also get to see some real photos of corpses.

So yeah, this whole thing probably worked alright at the time, grabbing people who mostly showed up to drink, socialize and smoke cigarettes, but it's so sleazy it really sets a tone the rest of the film isn't particularly engaged with. This is good in the sense that it'd be real poor film if it kept up with showing morgue workers groping corpse boobs for fun for it's whole runtime (instead only occasionally returning to such stuff!), but the it never really lives down the tone and as such it's very, very hard to engage with the thematic content of the film. Interestingly it pushes the suicide-aspect somewhat to the side (this angle mostly provides the giallo-tradition of technological nonsense as the lead speculates on solar flare activity spiking suicide rates and we get to see a paralyzed man communicate via eye computer goggles), instead focusing on our lead's sexuality, as her sleazy, man-driven world pushes her to some form of an edge where she feels like she needs to release herself in one form or another, culminating in an actually beautifully scored scene by a giant slide projector where the editing is really magical as her sexuality seems to ascend to a new level. Ennio Morricone's music is one of his most off-kilter scores as it's mostly a Goblin-esque collection of sighs and mourns with the occasional more operatic flourishes.

Overall though the eventual actual plot doesn't jive with the themes, as it's all about a will (because of course it is, it's a giallo). Unfortunately the biggest downfall in this subgenre though has to be the lack of a masked killer, as the film's mystery is, throughout, whether these people are committing suicide or are they just framed to look like that. As such we don't get any traditional stalking scenes, which would be well and good if the film wasn't structured exactly like a giallo where instead of stalking our lead stares obliquely at some hallways. When those hallways happen to have literal statues of people committing suicide it's well and good but that's only the case for one scene (which is also the best scene in the film along with that previously mentioned slide projector bit). All around this left me feeling dirty and it's a shame because there could maybe be some gold here were it not for all the damn dirt.
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People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 4 IMDB Rating 3.3
City Dragon (1995)
An incredibly misguided epic of boning, rhyming, kicking and swinging (your dick around in a club). Featuring sexual blackmail, sexual humiliation, some bare boobs and a lot of very problematic content ranging from various forms of racism to homophobia and tokenism. It's funny a lot less than it is completely incomprehensible and-or offensive. It mostly feels like "Philthy" Phil Phillips made this to fulfill a whole lot of fantasies he had and I have absolutely zero need to meet the man after watching this. An insane trip.

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People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 4.4
TC 2000 (1993)
In a world...

Where a post-apocalyptic landscape is controlled by roving gangs to the point where the rich have withdrawn to an underground city

of which we only see a control room, an apartment and a whole lot of hallways

that only contains people monitoring cameras that monitor the entrances to the underground complex, guards who keep the people underground in line and "trackers" who make sure people don't come down from above

none of who really have firearms but instead very slow and bad tasers

Billy Blanks must team up with Bolo to learn how to punch through walls

because lord knows he needs all the help he can get because he can only climb ladders down head first

who the hell climbs a ladder like that Billy Blanks

all the audio is ADR'd like it's a 60s Italian movie where they never recorded any sound and it makes the whole thing surreal

well, even more surreal than it already is, containing some of the dumbest outfits I've seen in the 90s and a lead villain called Nicky Picasso

THIS SUMMER

witness the explosive action that rarely meshes from one shot to another but hey it's fun and everything sounds like Lex Luger selling rasslin' moves

TC 2000!
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I hate this movie for making me think of the brothers Paul as kind of... cool? Like, look, there is zero cool about either of them, but they are very, very unabashedly themselves in every frame of this movie and I do have to sort of respect that. Even if themselves are obnoxious, messy idiots who make a lot of weird sounds. Sometimes it makes for... not fun comedy, but very gross comedy, the type of comedy you marvel at and think how terrible it is that someone thought this would be funny.

Also props for teaching me the government is inefficient at protecting the people and you should get twins to do it instead. Unfortunately by the end of the movie all the twins in the world are working in the Paul bros restaurant so we're all screwed.
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Movies I've seen in 2020. Updating as I feel it, you can follow in more real time over at my Letterboxd: letterboxd.com/vierastalo/

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