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  • Fist of Fury

    Fist of Fury

    ★★★½

    Bruce Lee is turned up waaaay past 11. He's absolutely INSANE in this movie, and it is EXHILARATING to watch. And not just in the fight scenes! He even gets to show off some dramatic acting, and I got a kick out of all his fun disguises and costumes.

    The classical score is really nice. The symphonic flutes and strings are actually a little moving, especially during the great romantic interlude in the middle. The musical storytelling is so strong…

  • Ulysses' Gaze

    Ulysses' Gaze

    ★★★

    Film Lads Film Club Round 2, Week 5
    Film Choice: Blake

    "The first thing God created was the journey."

    Immersive long takes with satisfyingly intuitive editing, everything continuous, masterfully coordinated and choreographed. It's written and performed like an intimate character play, but produced with the full advantages of the film medium. The silence of the score is broken only occasionally with ominous humming to heighten tension, or with soaring symphonies to heighten melodrama, but the atmosphere is always slow, sad,…

  • Sansho the Bailiff

    Sansho the Bailiff

    ★★★★

    Film Lads Film Club Round 1, Week 5 (late)
    Film Choice: Aydan

    Soulful, humanist, heartbreaking, beautiful.

    The visual storytelling is great, with several vitally important and emotionally impactful sequences told purely through careful coordination between the acting, cinematography and light score. The lingering shots maximize the gravitas of every scene and the soft, gentle black and white complements the smooth editing fades well. The minimal score is most effective when it uses slow, deep drums for tension and sorrow, like…

  • The Bells of Death

    The Bells of Death

    ★★★★½

    HOLY COW YES YES YES YES YES

    Blending the visuals of Zack Snyder and King Hu with genuinely emotional, high quality storytelling, The Bells of Death is SO CLOSE to being one of the GREATEST film experiences I have EVER had.

    The simple story works with poignant drama and heartwarming romance, bitter revenge and satisfying sentimentality. With the gnarly violence, basic revenge plot, and some actual standoffs, the movie feels like a western/chanbara loosely pretending to be a wuxia. To…

  • Frances Ha

    Frances Ha

    ★★★★½

    I really enjoyed Frances Ha. The film is fairly well directed across every department, and I particularly enjoyed the gorgeous black and white photography and the catchy, timeless soundtrack. Some of the costumes seemed a bit stereotypically hipster, but the tacky theatricality just feels right. And resolution of the film is simply perfect.

    I think this is a relatively simple film that works in an extremely complex way. In the first half, there's a number of layers of (dis)likability. You…

  • The Band Wagon

    The Band Wagon

    ★★★½

    A fantastic premise with a strange sort of execution. The absolute best part of the film for me was the park dance (Dancing in the Dark) and somehow it was heightened even more by my love for La La Land. Seeing a steamy, slow, silent ballet/tango with those pure white costumes in the exact same setting as La La Land's bright, poppy song-and-dance number made me realize how much a film could express through pure dance, without words, without slapstick,…

  • Hugo

    Hugo

    ★★★★½

    "Do you want to have an adventure?"

    I watched this to see how Scorsese works outside of a gangster movie, and also because I really liked the original book a kid.

    My first thought: Why did an American director make a movie set in France using a British cast? But strangely enough, it works, feeling like a modern English fairytale, somewhere between Oliver Twist and Harry Potter. At moments it also feels a bit pseudo-Spielbergian, but Scorsese really makes it…

  • The Irishman

    The Irishman

    ★★★★

    Frank to Jo, on the phone:
    "It's gonna be okay."

    The price of duplicity & the cost of allegiance. Old mobster is oblivious to pain he causes family. Slow simmer. Why was this 3½ hours.


    Also features:
    -Food
    -Cameos
    -Nice music
    -Setup/Payoff
    -Tracking shots
    -Twin Towers shots
    -De Niro with blue eyes
    -Period sets, props, and costumes
    -Incredible aging/deaging hair, make-up
    -Nice world building, but incomprehensibly dense

    That is to say, it's really well made, and the most reflective, profound, melancholic Scorsese I've seen. It's good! But I just don't think Marty's Mobster Movies are for me.

  • The Lighthouse

    The Lighthouse

    ★★★★

    "'Tis bad luck to kill a 'gull."

    To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed.

    The disorienting editing was perfect. The make-up, and hair design were major stand outs, and the minor horror effects. The sound design is especially horrific and fantastic, especially with a movie theater sound system. The sets were great, especially the real, giant lighthouse and that GORGEOUS glass light installation. In particular, I loved the framing of that scene, and how, in one slow take, the…

  • Opening Act

    Opening Act

    With surreal atmospheric lighting and a pure punk score, Quinn Bailey brings a new twist on chivalry, marrying rock and horror with a sweet bit of tenderness. The smooth editing and stylish post-production effects would make Edgar Wright proud. The intense close-ups and smart visual storytelling carry the tension effectively without more than a word of dialogue spoken.

    However, as aesthetic and fun as it is, I do have a few very petty reservations:
    1. Since it is life or…

  • Godzilla vs. Hedorah

    Godzilla vs. Hedorah

    ★★★★

    "I dreamt it, so I know he'll come."

    An incredibly stylish musical opening sets the tone for Godzilla vs. Hedorah, resurrecting the franchise after 2 years in a wild new direction. Flashing bright, bold colors over murky shades of blacks, GvH is an explosion of post-60s excess, a haunting commentary on reckless hedonism.

    Directing with style, confidence, and wicked smart editing, Banno infuses the film with psychedelic visuals, like a living Jackson Pollock painting. The fun animations offset the heavy…

  • Death Proof

    Death Proof

    ★★★★½

    Film Lads Film Club Round 2, Week 4
    Film Choice: Gabe

    "Do you know any of these shows or people I'm talking about?"

    I LOVE this movie. Top 3 Tarantino, easy.*

    It's all in the details: the intentionally choppy editing, the scratchy filmscreen aesthetic, the overlapping takes, the sudden camera movements, the ridiculously over-the-top violence and blood, the unashamedly groovy 70s score, the relaxing, aimless hangout atmosphere. The characters are intentionally flat and underdeveloped, as the girls talk about almost…