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TM2YC's 1001 Movies (Chronological up to page 25/post 481)

TM2YC

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Peeping Tom (1960)
Director: Michael Powell
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 101 minutes
Type: Horror

'Peeping Tom' has become a highly influential and respected work of art after Martin Scorsese lionised it in the late 70s and having been included on the BFI's Top 100 British Films list but it was castigated on it's initial release. A contemporary reviewer said "flush it swiftly down the nearest sewer", another suggested it was "more nauseating and depressing" than a leper colony. The outrage was such that Director/Producer Michael Powell (who had been the foremost British Director in the 40s/50s) had to go to the other side of the planet to find somebody willing to hire him. It's been suggested that it was Alfred Hitchcock seeing that critical mauling which influenced his decision to not press screen his own proto-slasher film 'Psycho' two months later. It's also been said that Hitchcock's decision to shoot in black & white made his film more palatable to 1960 viewers, where as Powell's lurid colour schemes and bright red blood was too much. I'd never noticed before that in a brief shot after the final neck stabbing happens you can see that blood has just been sprayed way up the back wall, so I think the gore FX must have been filmed and then self censored. So it could've been even more provocative.

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In Powell's hands the film camera becomes an eye, a sexual organ, a knife, an insect, a mirror. I doubt it's by accident that the psychopathic Mark's chosen model of camera has very testicle shaped magazines. In one of the early POV shots (of many, many POV shots) we see ourselves (from Mark's perspective) discard what is supposed to look like a packet of condoms into a bin but as the camera moves closer it's revealed to be a used up box of film. There's dark humour all the way through, like Mark claiming he's a photographer for "The Observer" (a long running British newspaper) while filming the aftermath of his crimes, or the hilarious scene where Miles Malleson is buying pornography (hidden under a newspaper) and the shopkeeper remarks "Well he won't be doing the crossword tonight". Maybe Powell wanting us to laugh and be truly disturbed by Mark's psychosis and to find him sympathetic (or at least pitiable) was too much for viewers then. Mark has clearly been tortured and broken by an abusive father (who it's implied has murdered his mother) and he's finding love with the kind Helen far too late to save him from his demons. Hitchcock just asked us to like Norman Bates before we find out he's a weirdo/killer, where as Powell shows us the truth about Mark from scene one and still makes us like him. I'm always fascinated by the creepy, dead, staccato way that the blind, alcoholic mother says "Take me to your cinema" to Mark. This time it occurred to be that Brian Easdale's avant garde piano score is not just unsettling but is also like that of an early improvised silent-movie piano accompaniment.

This original trailer is awful but I can't find anything better:




That's all films up to and including the year 1960 watched, rewatched and reviewed (367 films). Yay! If anybody wasn't already aware, this film is where I got this from ;):

 
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Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Director: Robert Benton
Country: United States
Length: 105 minutes
Type: Legal, Drama

I remember thinking this was probably a boxing movie when I was younger, then I thought it was a film about divorce, then a court-room drama but it turned out to not really be any of those things (although a divorce does happen off screen and a court sequence does occur). Most of the runtime is an intimate portrait of a workaholic New York ad exec (Dustin Hoffman) who arrives home to find his wife has left him to bring up their young son. The journey you see him go on from seeing his son as an inconvenience to his hectic work life, to the only thing that matters in his life is beautifully played between Hoffmann and child actor Justin Henry. It's often heartbreaking stuff, the silent smiles they exchange at the end while making French toast together nearly had me blubbing. The custody battle sequence is so intense and raw, Hoffman and Meryl Streep deserved their Oscars. This would make a perfect double bill with the more recent 'Marriage Story'.

 

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Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Director: Sergio Leone
Country: Italy / United States
Length: 166 minutes
Type: Western, Epic

If you asked me what my Top-5 movies were, then ‘Once Upon a Time in the West' would be somewhere in there. It's what Cinema was made for, the wide panoramas, the intoxicating sound-mix, the drama, the violence, the passion, the operatic score, the elegant direction, the innovative editing and of course the wonderful story, characters and actors. There isn't a single element of the production that isn't operating on another level (well, except some of the lip-syncing but that’s a given with Spaghetti Westerns). The crane shot that raises up over the station roof as Claudia Cardinale's Jill enters the bustle of the town with the score playing gives me goosebumps every time, Ennio Morricone's music is some of the greatest ever written. The cut from the gun smoke and roar of Henry Fonda's pistol, to the steam and screech of wheels of Jill's train is one of the most seamless cuts in movie history. I think I first saw this before any other Fonda film so him being cast-against-type as a villain was not a surprise to me, like it might have been for viewers back in '68. His performance as Frank is the devil incarnate, it's difficult to imagine him playing a hero.

The three lead heroes are all so strong, with their own well defined narrative impetus, which intertwines with the others. Jason Robards' "Cheyenne" can't abide somebody dirtying his name (even if he is an outlaw) so delights in playing his part in bringing Frank down but he's almost doing it for the shear sport and because Jill reminds him a little of his mother "the biggest whore in Alameda and the finest woman that ever lived". Charles Bronson's "Harmonica" has perhaps the strongest motivation but it's not revealed what it is until "the point of dying". It's brilliant the way he defeat's Frank with his own scheming, he out thinks him and out plays him, only then can the final epic duel begin. The slow way the flashback sequence gets closer and closer through the film is genius. Harmonica's "You brought two too many" line in the iconic opening scene is so cool. Then there is Cardinale's Jill, a woman as tough as she is beautiful. Her line "You don't look at all like the noble defender of poor defenceless widows.. then again… I don't look like a poor defenceless widow" (as she knocks back a whiskey) is a classic. Despite her defiance the Old West was still a "man's world" where everything is settled by the gun, so she needs Cheyenne and Harmonica in her corner, even though she doesn't ask for their help... and then they just ride off alone like ghosts. In my opinion, 'Once Upon a Time in the West' is the greatest Western ever made, from the master of the genre. If Sergio Leone had a dollar for every time somebody has made a film called "Once Upon a Time in the..." since, he'd have a fistful.

An incredible 35mm trailer:


Danish National Symphony Orchestra do an incredible job replaying the music:

 

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^One question: How do you deal with the treatment of Claudia Cardinale, both in the film and on set? I mean, clearly since you love the film it's not a huge issue for you, but I wonder how you view it that lets you reach that point? So as not to seem like I'm trying for a "gotcha" moment, cards on the table: I just found the film too endorsing of misogyny and toxic masculinity. This is a movie I'd very much like to enjoy, but I found that the portrayal of misogyny becomes so heavy and gratuitous that it seemed Leone (and a 1960s/70s male audience) was getting off on it. For me, it becomes an exploitation film that thinks it's a drama, rather than the reverse.
 

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I just found the film too endorsing of misogyny

I don't get that at all. "Misogyny" means a hatred of women, 'Once Upon a Time in the West' admires and celebrates it's female main character. Portraying something about a culture, a time, it's behaviours and endorsing it are very different, even opposite things. For example, witness the fury with which Jill/Cardinale delivers her "just another filthy memory!" speech to Cheyenne. She's telling him she has survived a lifetime of being used and abused by men, so one more indignity isn't going to break her spirit. She arrives in the story because she has followed Brett McBain from New Orleans and married him in the hope that he's the one decent man she's met (even if as it's implied she doesn't particularly love him). When she arrives to find him murdered by other men and his promises seemingly proved to be lies to trap her, she's ready to instantly go back where she came from, having had her opinion of men confirmed. She thinks that all men in this brutal world just want her body but finds three who don't. Frank is attracted to her but his vanity and lust for power and gold far out ways that, Harmonica has no interest in her because he has no interest in life/humanity itself, just death and revenge and Cheyenne (despite his bad outlaw reputation) just wants to help her, out of unexpected kindness and because she reminds him of his mother. The film concludes with all the violent men having killed each other (or vanished back into the wilderness) and Jill walking proudly out as the matriarch of a new peaceful town and American civilisation.

The invented rubbish on the film's poster (above) "There were three me in her life. One to take her... one to love her - and one to kill her" bares no relation to the plot and speaks to the sexism of 60s film marketing and audience expectation, not to the film itself.




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Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Director: Mira Nair
Country: India
Length: 113 minutes
Type: Romantic-Comedy, Drama

I'd remembered 'Monsoon Wedding' fondly and vividly for 20-years but I really regret not rewatching it sooner because it's a masterpiece on every level. The way Director Mira Nair establishes the intertwined narrative directions and personalities of about 20 characters in a matter of minutes is astounding. You immediately get who they are and how they relate to each other. I knew it was funny, joyous and romantic (a bit like a Punjabi 'Four Weddings and a Funeral') but I'd forgotten how dark and deep one of the sub-plots goes into child abuse. The actors play it for all it's emotional rawness. One of the most innovative elements is the subversion of the expected Hollywood romance plot (at least for western viewers) by presenting the bride as having a love affair behind the groom's back. You expect it to be a story about her escaping a loveless arranged marriage, to be with the man she has chosen for herself but instead it beautifully shows her falling out of love with the fickle boyfriend and in love with the considerate and kind arranged groom. My favourite part is the wonderful romance between the brash wedding planner Dubey and the gentle servant girl Alice. His cheeky, loud, "wheeler dealer" persona reminded me of the character Del Boy (from the UK sitcom 'Only Fools and Horses'), so when the motor-mouth is stunned into lovesick, reverential silence by seeing Alice, you really feel it too. The colours, the music, the performances, the laughter and the dancing are ecstatic. I want to watch it again already!


 
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mnkykungfu

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I don't get that at all. "Misogyny" means a hatred of women, 'Once Upon a Time in the West' admires and celebrates it's female main character. Portraying something about a culture, a time, it's behaviours and endorsing it are very different, even opposite things.
Yeah, I'm with you on the "depiction is not necessarily endorsement" front, which is why I noted that it eventually crossed the line for me in my original comment. While I didn't read this the same way as you, I think you're essentially answering my question about what allows you to appreciate the film, so I appreciate that.

The invented rubbish on the film's poster (above) "There were three me in her life. One to take her... one to have her - and one to kill her" bares no relation to the plot and speaks to the sexism of 60s film marketing and audience expectation, not to the film itself.
I actually found this to be a pretty accurate tease, except in that it implies the film is interested in Jill, but it's really not. Like all Leone films, it's interested in the ****-measuring contest between the men, and Jill is simply in the middle of that. And look, I can dig some exploitation films and films about manliness, so that's not a barrier to me appreciating a movie in and of itself. But I don't want to go on about why I found the film problematic and keep 'yucking your yum', so to speak. Far better people than me have noted all this stuff before, so if you want to read up, I'll just drop a few here that bring up the issues:

Scott Larsen (of the Filmspotting podcast as well as print reviews, books, etc)
Tara Zdancewicz (Film School Teacher)
Farran Smith Nehme (author and blogger), this one really goes into the nuance to show why the portrayal is actually disempowering to women

I think that as a dude I might have overlooked this stuff as I did in the past with the Man With No Name films. But I had started to notice it more and more, and maybe after watching Once Upon a Time in America, there was an obvious current of misogyny that I was primed to look for. So upon watching Once Upon a Time in the West, I was like "Oh, here we go again!" The handling of women across Leonne's work adds to the sense that this crosses over from depiction into displaying the director's own attitudes in part. Italy-based writer John Bleasdale writes about that here.

Anyway, there's a lot else to admire in the film, and if you can focus on that and the issues that are problematic for other people don't bother you, then more power to you. I'm just not there right now.
 

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Another thought I had about the themes of 'Once Upon a Time in the West' (and thanks for the opportunity to examine it more) is the comparison between the railroad tycoon Morton and Jill. He's "civilising" the western frontier by forceably ploughing through the landscape, eradicating all resistance, leaving his mark for future generations after his impending demise just for it's own sake (as Frank says "You leave a slime behind you like a snail, two beautiful shiny rails"). But she, and her late husband Brett before her, are patiently nurturing new life, with a farm, water, a station, a church etc and getting pleasure from seeing civilisation slowly grow ("You don't sell the dream of a life time"). There's a juxtaposition between masculine and feminine, death and life and Morton's physical impotence and Jill's "virility".



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Muriel's Wedding (1994)
Director: P.J. Hogan
Country: Australia
Length: 101 minutes
Type: Comedy, Drama

I'd remembered all the glorious ABBA music and all the humour and outrageous fun but had totally forgotten how depressing and bleak this gets at points (in an emotionally satisfying way). 'Muriel's Wedding' feels spiritually like a top-flight Romcom but it doesn't actually feature any romance, despite much of it being a search for love, nobody finds it, except the love between two best friends. The karaoke scene with Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths recreating the video to 'Waterloo' is utterly wonderful. I love that one of the big emotional moments in the final scene is the defiant line "What a bunch of c**ksuckers!". If you liked 2011's 'Bridesmaids' (and who doesn't) then you should go back and revisit this 90s classic for a similar hit of sharp comedy about self-worth.

 

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Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Director: David Lean
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 227 minutes
Type: Historical, Epic

'Lawrence of Arabia' has quite a few connections to Amblin/Lucasfilm. Steven Spielberg was one of the people behind the film's restoration, Peter O'Toole carries the same Webley break-action revolver as Indy in 'The Last Crusade', the desert photography is very Tatooine, John William's music definitely references Maurice Jarre's score and of course there's Sir Alec Guinness. It also trades in a similar adventurous "boys own" spirit as the famous films of George Lucas and Spielberg. David Lean's version of T. E. Lawrence is portrayed like a chivalric knight, with a couple of Bedouin squires. This Lawrence is a fool, a madman, an ego-maniac, a masochist, a hero, a genius, an absolute man of his word and a poet soul. Lean and O'Toole capture all of those qualities and contradictions in one shot of Lawrence framed against a fresco of a chariot crash (I think) as he says the line "they'll come for me". It's defiance, it's vanity but it's also simply true. He's introduced painting details on a map, before going on to remake the actual world. In one scene a British medic slaps Lawrence in the face in utter disgust, then soon after shakes him warmly by the hand, it's not clear which Lawrence likes more. If you're going to watch 'Lawrence of Arabia', make sure it's the 2012 8K restoration because looks amazing on blu-ray (never mind Ultra HD). There are crowd scenes that go on and on, huge battle sequences and landscapes so vast that even a format like Super Panavision-70mm can barely contain them. It's a 4-hour epic that plays like it's 90-minutes and I doubt I'll tire of rewatching it. It's no.3 on the BFI's 'Top 100 British films' list with very good reason.



 

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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Director: Woody Allen
Country: United States
Length: 106 minutes
Type: Comedy, Drama

'Hannah and Her Sisters' is a decent enough Woody Allen film but the discussions between Allen and Mia Farrow's characters about adoption, the jokes about abuse and the character of a younger "naive" woman being attracted to an older "cultured" man is a bit too close the various allegations about Allen and Farrow's lives to be funny. The chapter titles are just like the ones used in 'Frasier', I wonder if this was where they got the idea? I liked where the story went but I didn't like the feeling of not having any clue where it was going for most of the runtime. The idea put forward that watching a Marx Brothers film can solve all of life's problems is one I can subscribe to.

 

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Ring (1998)
Director: Hideo Nakata
Country: Japan
Length: 95 minutes
Type: Horror

'Ring' came toward the end of the VHS/CRT/analogue era and the start of the DVD/widescreen/digital era. I'm not sure what kind of TV I first saw it on but I know it was on a DVD rented from my local library in the 2000s. It's a shame because I bet you got an extra shiver at the end when you ejected a VHS from your player and your TV cut to static because 'Ring'/'Ringu' is about a possessed VHS tape. Apart from the supernatural nature of the main threat, the other plot elements are pretty far fetched and improbable but it's all treated with such grave seriousness that it doesn't much matter. It's not a "slasher" movie but it's got that kind of atmosphere, with a touch of Stephen King. The extraordinary image of the skeletal corpse rising from it's watery grave, with the goop from it's eye sockets pouring out like tears, as it's cradled with compassion by the main character is something that sticks in the mind.

 

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I recently watched Ring as well, and while I did enjoy it, it's one of the few times when I actually enjoyed the American adaptation more than the original. But I also haven't watched the original since it first came out, watching on VHS at a sleepover at a friend's house in the middle of the night in middles school, and the original version I watched streaming on Tubi (interrupted by commercials) in the middle of the afternoon, which certainly lent an inferior ambiance.
 

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A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
Director: Ching Siu-tung
Country: Hong Kong
Length: 115 minutes
Type: Action, Martial-Arts, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Adventure

I wasn't expecting this Tsui Hark produced Hong Kong movie to be closer to 'The Evil Dead' and 'Hellraiser', than to say 'A Touch of Zen'. It's a weird blend of Wuxia flying (some of the most graceful I've seen), stop motion puppets, giant tongue monsters, wacky comedy, romance, horror, fantasy and even turns into a musical for a few minutes. Those tonal shifts and the hyperactive editing were a bit too much for my taste. I also felt like I was deaf to some of the Chinese cultural and literary underpinning e.g. the female evil spirit being played by a male actor in drag was presumably done for some reason. The visuals are highly stylised and artistically lit and Leslie Cheung makes an endearing protagonist. Half the dialogue seemed to be him shouting "Siu-sin!" (the name of the love interest) which started to grate after a while. Once the chaotic plot settled on a recognisable "hero must save the heroine from the evil wizard's lair, with the help of the good wizard" style story I enjoyed myself by the end.

 

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'Lawrence of Arabia' has quite a few connections to Amblin/Lucasfilm. Steven Spielberg was one of the people behind the film's restoration, Peter O'Toole carries the same Webley break-action revolver as Indy in 'The Last Crusade'

... plus the Bedouins would've won without him and the British abandon Arabia anyway. I mean, really, Lawrence doesn't affect the plot. ;)
 

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Ring (1998)
Director: Hideo Nakata
Country: Japan
Length: 95 minutes
Type: Horror

'Ring' came toward the end of the VHS/CRT/analogue era and the start of the DVD/widescreen/digital era. I'm not sure what kind of TV I first saw it on but I know it was on a DVD rented from my local library in the 2000s. It's a shame because I bet you got an extra shiver at the end when you ejected a VHS from your player and your TV cut to static because 'Ring'/'Ringu' is about a possessed VHS tape. Apart from the supernatural nature of the main threat, the other plot elements are pretty far fetched and improbable but it's all treated with such grave seriousness that it doesn't much matter. It's not a "slasher" movie but it's got that kind of atmosphere, with a touch of Stephen King. The extraordinary image of the skeletal corpse rising from it's watery grave, with the goop from it's eye sockets pouring out like tears, as it's cradled with compassion by the main character is something that sticks in the mind.

I watched this in the early 2000's. I lived on my own, and I watched it one night, in the dark, finishing about 1am. After it finished, I started browsing the extras on the DVD, and they had the clip as an extra. The clip of what is on the VHS.

I didn't watch it.
 

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I started browsing the extras on the DVD, and they had the clip as an extra. The clip of what is on the VHS.

I didn't watch it.

I didn't dare say Candyman into a mirror either.



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The Fly (1986)
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: United States
Length: 96 minutes
Type: Sci-Fi, Horror

I first watched 'The Fly' when I was probably way too young so it has been seared onto my brain but it's been quite a few years since the last time. The science part of this Sci-Fi/Horror is pretty vague and features some very obvious logical plot holes but it does capture the excitement and drama of being on the brink of world-changing scientific discovery. Stathis, the creepy "walking sexual-harassment lawsuit" ex-boyfriend/ex-teacher/current-boss of the heroine Ronnie has not aged well because I think were supposed to kinda like him? He's arguably the cause of everything that goes wrong. If he hadn't sent her a threatening/controlling piece of mail, Brundle wouldn't of been drunk and alone and experimented on himself. There is unbelievably a (thankfully) deleted scene where Ronnie ends up living "happily ever after" with Stathis. Major props to the stunt doubles, it's incredible that they are able to do things that look superhuman but are just them being amazingly fit athletes. Geena Davis' "No, be afraid... be VERY afraid" is one of the all-time movie lines. Jeff Goldblum gives a performance that only he could give, eccentric and charming and then terrifying and sad. 96-minutes flies by (pun intended).

An unresolved and unexplored element of the story is that Brundle's invention is essentially perfect and works 100% (once Brundle had realised the simple error of allowing the device to merge separate entities) so I was left wondering what the world would be like a year or two after Brundle's death, when everyone is teleporting everywhere and not causing travel pollution in a new utopia. Would he go down in posthumous history as a Marie Curie, or an Alan Turing?

 

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Jurassic Park (1993)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Country: United States
Length: 128 minutes
Type: Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Horror

Last time I re-watched 'Jurassic Park' it was the latest 4K digital version at the cinema, the film footage looked very sharp but the 1993 CGI renders looked noticeably soft and waxy in comparison. This time I went for a fan-made scan of a 35mm theatrical print, on a large 4K TV. This is the only way to watch this movie! The difference between the analogue and digital materials is once again invisible, as it would've been back in '93. The extra generation of film grain and naturally consistent deep contrast unified everything, even the weaker FX moments like the sneezing Brachiosaurus, or the stampeding Gallimimus looked fantastic. (IIRC) There is only about 5-6 minutes of computer augmented footage in the movie, so you don't want it to distract from the majority 2-hours of astonishing in-camera illusions. It might have been my imagination but... the vintage DTS cinema soundmix seemed to reveal new subtleties in John William's magical score that I hadn't heard on previous VHS/DVD and blu-ray viewings, like John Carpenter/Alan Silvestri/Brad Fiedel style bass synthesisers low in the mix. There was also a shot I hadn't noticed where you can see Hammond watching Grant watch the Velociraptor's dismember the cow with a kind of maniacal glint in his eye. I know the Hammond of the book is more of a villain, the opposite of the movie, so I wonder if this was leftover from an earlier conception of his character, before Steven Spielberg just fully went with the grandfatherly love-ability that Dickie Attenborough exudes? I've become more and more aware of the tendency of truly great action movies to have a clear division down the middle. The scene where the T-Rex breaks free is at the exact mid point, after that it's no longer impending doom, it's all-out blockbuster mayhem. 'Jurassic Park' is a movie so perfect that it even shows a mouse being correctly used to operate a computer and not just hammering away on a keyboard like 99.99% of other Hollywood movies to this day.

An original trailer in 35mm:

 

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Agree...and this video is a MUST view (will remove if I'm jumping in your thread inappropriately)...

 

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Amélie (2001)
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Country: France
Length: 123 minutes
Type: Romantic-Comedy

I hadn't seen this since it came out but I still remembered the plot, however 'Amélie' is so jam packed with visualise invention and eccentricity that every moment still feels like a fresh experience. I suspect that after making his pretty dreadful Hollywood blockbuster 'Alien Resurrection', Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was so happy to be back in France, making something utterly French that his enthusiasm is palpable. His style is very much his own but you could definitely draw comparisons with Guillermo del Toro and Wes Anderson. 'Amélie' the film and Amélie the character do teeter on the brink of being insufferably whimsical but was just the right side of charming for me.

 

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Onibaba (1964)
Director: Kaneto Shindo
Country: Japan
Length: 102 minutes
Type: Drama, Horror

'Onibaba' is often classified as a horror film but those elements are fairly minimal, it is spooky and creepy though. In a time of rampant civil war, an old woman and her daughter-in-law survive by murdering Samurai who seek respite from the conflict in the long grass of the field they live in, strip them of their weapons, then throw their bodies into a deep pit. The arrival of a returning male neighbour causes tension between the two women, leading to one terrifying the other with a demon mask. The SoundFX of the wind through the grass and the unseen creatures of the field at night, lit in high contrast black and white and Hikaru Hayashi score are quite unsettling.




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The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Director: Wes Craven
Country: United States
Length: 89 minutes
Type: Horror

Because it has the identical basic scenario, it's difficult to not make comparisons between this and 1974's 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre'. 'The Hills Have Eyes' compares poorly. It's got 4-5 times the budget of that no-budget hit but unlike the earlier film which felt quite arty, daring, ahead of it's time and well designed, 'The Hills Have Eyes' looks exactly as cheap as it was. "Let's just go into the desert where it's free to film and dress our cast up in some random rags and Halloween store level makeup". If it didn't have the real-life striking deformities of star Michael Berryman to fall back on, it would look even cheaper. The way the freeze-frame ending pretends to make some limp comment about violence is a bit pathetic. Despite those problems, it's not over long, is effectively scary and dramatic and is an overall solidly entertaining shocker for a Halloween night.

 
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Eraserhead (1977)
Director: David Lynch
Country: United States
Length: 89 minutes
Type: Sci-Fi, Horror, Comedy, Experimental

I'd seen 'Eraserhead' once before, long ago, when I don't think I understood what it was doing, or appreciated it's dark humour. It's about subjects like fear of parenthood, post natal depression, fertility, infidelity, disease, fear and desire, all handled in the weirdest ways possible. Having re-watched it right after 2016's 'David Lynch: The Art Life', I can also see it as a fairly literal semi-autobiographical piece about David Lynch himself, at that point in his life. The super high contrast black and white photography looks amazing. The oppressive atmospheric soundscapes, featuring humming electricity, hissing steam and other unidentifiable creepy noises are perhaps the most memorable part. You also can't forget images like the deformed baby and the synthetic chickens... well not easily anyway. Jack Nance is in almost every scene and his innocent, terrified, childlike facial expressions are very funny. It's almost a silent-comedy type physical performance, like Jacques Tati, or Charlie Chaplin. 'In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)' is such an "ear worm" but I probably knew it first from the cover by Pixies. It was nice to see Darwin Joston (star of 'Assault on Precinct 13') in a small but memorably amusing cameo because he wasn't in many movies.


 
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