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  • The Flight of the Red Balloon

    The Flight of the Red Balloon 2007

    Watched 17 Apr, 2015

    A sly, delicate film, ostensibly about a tenancy dispute but also about the porous boundary between life and art. To that end it references its own creation numerous times: there's the mixing of Taiwanese and French art that's present in Suzanne's puppetry (which may also deliberately recall The Puppetmaster) and of course there's Fang Song playing herself and working on a film that is very much like the film we're watching. She even explains how the balloon is made to…

  • Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

    Summer of the Seventeenth Doll 1959

    Watched 12 Apr, 2015

    As soon as the actors open their mouths its easy to see why local audiences viewed this adaptation as something of a betrayal. Let's just say that Ernest Borgnine's decision to keep his natural accent might have actually been the right choice. That said if you can get passed the character's voices the rest is a respectable take on characters failing to grow into adulthood along with their country. It is marred a little by the actors - Borgnine in…

  • Battlestar Galactica

    Battlestar Galactica 2003

    Rewatched 12 Apr, 2015

    It's been at least six years since the height of my stark raving mad fandom of this series. I no longer know all the names of every bit part actor (sorry whoever played "Racetrack") and I wasn't really expecting this to hold up - particularly because I don't remember being hugely enamoured of it at the time. It's not half bad though.

    Michael Hogan (Saul Tigh) has long maintained that he joined the series because he wanted to work with…

  • Forty Thousand Horsemen

    Forty Thousand Horsemen 1941

    Watched 11 Apr, 2015

    Forty Thousand Horsemen is very much an unapologetic propaganda film complete with embarrassing racism, cloying nationalism and an awful, condescending romance. It's appropriately scored almost entirely to the strains of the national anthem and Waltzing Matilda so if you don't appreciate either of those awful songs this film may present as something of a struggle.

    There's an early scene to establish why Australians are fighting in the Ottoman Empire and the given reasons are class mobility and free speech. How…

  • Jules and Jim

    Jules and Jim 1962

    Watched 10 Apr, 2015

    Jules and Jim is often wonderfully playful. There's the roving handheld shot that eagerly searches the ground for trashy treasures and the cut to the side of Catherine's face as she runs that turns her into a personification of joy and the shot of all three leads opening separate windows in their massive country getaway and so very much else besides. That playfulness doesn't come close to encapsulating the film though with its allusions to women being viewed as objects…

  • Shaun the Sheep Movie

    Shaun the Sheep Movie 2015

    Watched 09 Apr, 2015

    Pretty delightful. Some of the Aardman story beats are a little over familiar by this point but their penchant for squeezing in inventive yet dumb visual gags wherever possible remains endearing. Their technical wizardry is impressive too: there are not one but two tracking shots that follow moving characters in this movie and I have no idea what combination of computers and painstaking hand animation was required to pull them off.

  • Love is Strange

    Love is Strange 2014

    Watched 03 Apr, 2015

    Love is Strange often feels slightly off kilter. Ben and George aren't really introduced as a specific couple before their split which somewhat undercuts the feeling of separation that ought to underlay the film and the joy that ought to underpin the moments when they are reunited. Once they are split up the focus slowly shifts to the characters in their orbit, or rather the characters in Ben's orbit. By contrast George and his youthful hosts are under-served and the…

  • Ashes of Time Redux

    Ashes of Time Redux 2009

    Watched 01 Apr, 2015

    Despite the hiring of Sammo Hung it's clear that Wong Kar-wai doesn't have a whole lot of interest in swordplay. Or perhaps he does but its decidedly an interest in swordplay as iconography rather than as a physical act. Even if that's so it's trumped by his interest in oddly beautiful, smeary abstract shapes.

    But enough tripling back because Wong Kar-wai's primary interest in Wuxia is that it allows him to indulge in unrestrained romanticism in much the same way…

  • An Autumn Afternoon

    An Autumn Afternoon 1962

    Watched 01 Apr, 2015

    For much of An Autumn Afternoon's runtime it's more effective as a broad portrait of a Japan caught between the past and the future than as a specific story about Hirayama coming to terms with marrying off his daughter (which is not to deny the obvious connection between the two). Hirayama's nostalgia for wartime propaganda music coupled with his acknowledgement that it was probably for the best that his country lost the war makes for a potent mixture of regret…

  • Selma

    Selma 2014

    Watched 26 Mar, 2015

    I am inadequate but I made a commitment to write about every movie I see this year so here goes:

    Proceeds logically and inexorably from problem (Annie Lee Cooper trying to vote and the Birmingham Church Bombing) to obstacle (the lack of political urgency and intransigent, violent opponents) to solution (nonviolent activism). Everything in this film is filled with purpose. A cross constantly hangs over Dr King's shoulder, the film's colour scheme is made up of blacks, browns and whites…

  • '71

    '71 2014

    Watched 22 Mar, 2015

    '71 has a mildly disappointing lack of specificity to it. Its politics - specifically it's rejection of militarism by way of asserting that every side is terrible and that civilian populations bear the brunt of war in a variety of awful ways - could be mapped on to nearly any given conflict. As such it's not a thriller about The Troubles so much as a Troubles themed thriller. That said it is a very well executed one. It contains a…

  • The Bride with White Hair

    The Bride with White Hair 1993

    Watched 17 Mar, 2015

    The kind of gloriously ostentatious film in which the question isn't whether a shot will be taken at a Dutch angle but rather how extreme the angle will be. There are also the requisite intense blue filters for night time scenes and many shots look to have been taken against hand painted backgrounds (don't quote me on that last one though). It's a style that suits the story perfectly. Both main characters are orphans who betray their adopted families for…