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  • Orlando

    Orlando 1992

    Watched 02 Jun, 2015

    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 single 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 2014

    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…

  • Election 2

    Election 2 2006

    Watched 11 May, 2015

    Election 2 is a rather blunt film. At one point literal blood money flutters in a room which features an actual sledgehammer in the background. Similarly if you spend most of the film in ignorance of its political subtext (text really) that will be soundly corrected when you watch a hapless Hong Kong triad member realise he's sold out his society's democratic values and his childrens' future to ruthless mainlander security forces.

    The thing is that it's brutally, ferociously blunt:…

  • Duel to the Death

    Duel to the Death 1983

    Watched 10 May, 2015

    Duel to the Death's title implies that it's going to be something of a long, frustrating march to the fireworks factory. The finale is indeed an impressive show-stopper of a fight which slowly builds to the bombastic spectacle of the combatants reshaping nature around them but the build-up is impressive too.

    It begins with a meticulously edited scene in which ninjas hunt for a book. Searching library shelves doesn't sound exciting on the face of it but the camera -…

  • The Sentimental Bloke

    The Sentimental Bloke 1919

    Watched 03 May, 2015

    The Sentimental Bloke's weakness as an adaptation shows in its shaggy plot which passes through any number of mildly amusing digressions (including a concise but momentum destroying Cliff's Notes version of Romeo and Juliet) and drags along through a bunch of interminable sub plots. Every time such a plot draws to a close it feels like the film might end - until, that is, a title card pops up with something equivalent to "and then". They all contribute to The…

  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

    Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 1927

    Watched 02 May, 2015

    My fuzzy memory of Nosferatu tells me that it's a movie that relies mostly on its sets, make-up and lighting to achieve its effect. As such I wasn't really expecting the more showy techniques applied in Sunrise which opens with some flashy superimposition and continues to thrill with sinuous camera movements that add an extra layer of menace and foreboding to the film's first adulterous rendezvous. That's not to say that Murnau left his expressionistic sets and clever use of…