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  • Il Mare

    Il Mare 2000

    Watched 29 Jun, 2015

    Somewhere, buried under the cloying score and de rigueur ending, there's a decent movie - or at the very least a productively unusual one. Most of Il Mare is nothing more than the film's lead actors reading out intimate letters over images of them going about their daily lives. Granted the images are very pretty (think saturated colours and the courage to use a couple of bird's eye shots) but despite that it's hard to imagine this almost plotless film…

  • Repulsion

    Repulsion 1965

    Watched 07 Jun, 2015

    •There are a few scenes in this film where there's something unsettling close to the camera and low in the frame while someone further away either ignores it or is oblivious to it. The last time this happens it's our protagonist who occupies the foreground.

    •This film does the same thing that Cure did in repeating a routine (when Carol comes home and eats some bread) but shooting it from a different angle later on. I'm going to have to…

  • Knife in the Water

    Knife in the Water 1962

    Watched 06 Jun, 2015

    This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Knife in the Water's study of bruised male egos and use of a sudden crises to rupture the relationship of its previously stable couple suggests that both The Loneliest Planet and Force Majuere owe it a debt. Its emphasis is somewhat different though. Knife in the Water is more focused on the events that lead up to the rupture - the small cracks in the men's self confidence that lead to petty aggression - then how their undermined masculinity impacts their relationships. Indeed Knife in the Water ends at the halfway point of its successors; only just after the incident and at a literal crossroads.

  • The Harder They Come

    The Harder They Come 1972

    Watched 06 Jun, 2015

    The Harder They Come is a thematically familiar crime picture (corrupting influence of fame and fortune, empty promises of capitalism and so on) with some strong images (happiness is an expensive car on a golf course) and clever impressionistic editing (a final shootout intercut with a rowdy cinema audience that makes it clear how the protagonist sees himself and a flight from police intercut with the fugitive's memories of humiliating punishment). It's unfortunately marred by a nauseating close-up of a woman's bare breasts as she is threatened and then shot.

  • Orlando

    Orlando 1992

    Watched 02 Jun, 2015

    Orlando risks seeming broad and thus terribly obvious at first - what with its big issue title cards, ostentatiously fussy compositions and archetypal situations. But once it shows its claws and begins gathering its thoughts into a through line of gender its pictorial beauty becomes pointed and what once seemed an unctuously broad collection of loose thoughts is revealed to be a potent polemic and, most thrillingly, an emancipatory vision of the future.

  • The Puppetmaster

    The Puppetmaster 1993

    ★★★½ Added

    The Puppetmaster is the most direct translation of the literary memoir into a visual medium that I can think of. Its frequent use of narration from the film's subject (Tianlu Li), accompanied by either associational visuals or by a medium shot of the narrator, emphasises the importance of the spoken word and gives precedence to the recalled experiences of the speaker rather than the film maker's visual interpretations of his past. Similarly the past tense of his reminisces emphasises that…

  • Cure

    Cure 1997

    Watched 30 May, 2015

    There's a Caitlín R. Kiernan quote from The Drowning Girl that sums up this film's subject perfectly so I'll let it do the heavy lifting: “Hauntings are memes, especially pernicious thought contagions, social contagions that need no viral or bacterial host and are transmitted in a thousand different ways."

    Kiernan goes on to say that one of those methods of transmission is art and if that's so then Kyoshi Kurosawa is probably responsible for more than a few hauntings. Cure

  • Sparrow

    Sparrow 2008

    Watched 26 May, 2015

    It's late (early really) and I don't have a lot to say about this other than I like it very much but here goes:

    Sparrow finds numerous ways to dramatise sleight of hand - mostly by focusing on the sound and texture of the environments in which the pickpockets work. Oftentimes the snatches seem to be less about clever men and more about the places they work in: the pop of a juice box under tires, the sheen of a…

  • The Knack... and How to Get It

    The Knack... and How to Get It 1965

    Watched 24 May, 2015

    The Knack steals from everything: There's an impressionistic scene in which Colin's desire to look and is disgust at himself for looking is conveyed through him seeing himself amongst a crowd of lechers; there's a scene that seems directly inspired by Soviet montage in which Colin's state of excited distress is conveyed through a shot of him running out of the house that is repeated three times; and there's a scene with freeze frames might have been inspired by Truffaut.…

  • Inherent Vice

    Inherent Vice 2014

    Watched 17 May, 2015 3

    While watching Inherent Vice I was reminded of being at the premiere of The Rest of the World, a respectable family drama that features Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Béart. The screening seemed to go well but when the director, Damien Odoul, was introduced to warm applause he was grimacing. Gesturing up at the screen he said something along the lines of how he had been convinced to unveil the film in Rotterdam but in hindsight he didn't feel like it…

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    Mad Max: Fury Road 2015

    Watched 16 May, 2015

    In honour of the film I'll try to write terse but memorable sentences. I'll fail.

    Fury Road has thoughtful aesthetics in all respects but its retention of the contemporary beauty standard.

    •Colour grading is excellent: in the halfway house between naturalistic and vivid.

    •Furiosa's story is pretty much Gamora's but it does more with less.

    •Wanted more dislocating images like that of Max awakening after the storm.

    •Proof that critics don't detest short shot lengths so much as poor editing.

    •Oil as war paint.

  • While We're Young

    While We're Young 2015

    Watched 12 May, 2015

    •I feel insufficiently 25 now. I have no fixie, no record collection, no ambition, no cavernous residence and I'm almost always in earnest. Mind you I have started playing boardgames as a hobby, I do own a (gifted) pair of tight jeans and I did just make this all about myself so maybe I'm not ready for a baby just yet.

    •It does briefly flirt with interrogating documentary ethics and of what it means to make documentaries in a world…