ian mackinnon

Films I have watched since Thursday 12th of April, 2007

Jan 2008

Sat 19th

No Country for Old Men (2007) Joel & Ethan Coen

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In the past, watching the Coens messing around was fun and often hilarious, later it became tedious and then irrelevant. Thankfully this film contains very little messing around. The first two thirds are the best work they have done for a long time, and could have produced a near-perfect bag-full-of-money movie. Unfortunately this is abandoned in order to pursue an abortive ending. Instead of the plot reaching a conclusion, it is allowed to peter out through variations on previous scenes, and is terminated by a soft and sentimental monologue. Worth watching for the good bits, but not a fulfilling story.

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Sun 13th

Rosemary's Baby (1968) Roman Polanski

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Generic conspiracy plot with the predictable problem: either there is a conspiracy or there isn't. Both possible endings are easy to imagine, and therefore boring. As with 'The Wicker Man', the revelation scene is genuinely thrilling at it's climax (the line 'What have you done to it's eyes?' is the direct equivalent of 'Oh God! Oh Jesus Christ!' in that film), but this and the other enjoyable details do little to shore up the weak plot. Great camerawork, casting and production, shame about the story.

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Dec 2007

Tue 25th

The Fast and the Furious (2001) Rob Cohen

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Wow! Vin Diesel and his generic sidekick totally saved those DVD players! Those all-American boys sure showed them villainous foreign dudes in their evil and inferior imported cars. A tender tribute to the homegrown manufacturing industry.

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Wed 5th

The Seven Year Itch (1955) Billy Wilder

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Disappointing. Contains a weak story, static one-dimensional characters, and few of the clever and surprising moments that Wilder is famous for.

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Nov 2007

Wed 21st

Language Lessons (1994) Steve Hawley & Tony Steygel

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So whimsical as to diffuse either any serious information or the nuanced personalities of the subjects. Uses unnatural locked-off camera shots that make the participants look alien and so quirky as to be irrelevant. Shamelessly and lazily lifts most of it's factual information verbatim from J.A. Large's book, The Artificial Language Movement. Coherence collapses under several competing structures. Still interesting, but could have been so much better in almost every way.

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Wed 21st

Poto and Cabengo (1980) Jean-Pierre Gorin

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Fascinating, experimental and sweet, but ultimately dissatisfying. There are just too many disconnected story strands to make a unified film. There's the twins' supposed invented language, which is explained away well before the end, there's the parents' financial problems, exploitation by the media, themes of immigration and inability to fit in that resonate with the film-maker as well as the character's, and there's the ambiguous relationship between the twins and the film-maker. It's wonderfully rich but it's all over the place. Various events are commented on without being introduced, and then there are the confusing (and fairly ineffectual) freeze frames, sound looping and endless sequences of black, all of which get pretty tedious pretty quickly. On the good side, the shot of the parents role playing at buying a house is immensely sweet and very revealing, and the film is generally more openly honest than many documentaries. More good than bad, but severely messy.

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Mon 19th

The Unbelievable Truth (1989) Hal Hartley

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An essentially good film marred by Hartley's embarrassing attempts at philosophy and suspense (and some rather irritating music, but hey, it was the '80s, it could have been so much worse). The first ten minutes had me in one long cringe punctuated by a number of eye rolls, but once he actually gets the characters together and talking about tangible things he makes up for the poor start despite several short relapses of cod philosophic babbling. I wouldn't have given him 200 grand to make this, but I'm fairly pleased somebody did.

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Sun 18th

Hearts and Minds (1974) Peter Davis

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A broad and powerful documentary of American attitudes to the Vietnam War. Particularly shocking were the scene in which American politicians project their own abhorrent attitudes onto their victims, and another in which a returning prisoner of war tells a room full of grinning schoolchildren that they'll 'probably' have to fight in a war themselves. The range and depth of footage is quite amazing and a credit to the committed research of the film-makers. Without it such a far-reaching exposition of the roots of this imperialism wouldn't have been nearly as convincing. The only improvement I would have liked is more information to understand the chronology of source material and interviewees opinions.

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Sat 17th

Pan's Labyrinth (2006) Guillermo del Toro

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Fantasy movies are not really to my taste, as I think otherworldly things can easily give an unearned impression of being highly meaningful, when in fact they are an ambiguous muddle of conflicting associations. (I feel pretty much the same about flowery poetry full of classical references).

This at least had an interesting crack at a heroic story of the conflict between fantasy and reality, but I think it could have been somewhat better.

First of all they should have dropped the irrelevant historical setting (which was not at all engaged with by the story). The fascist soldiers and the resistance fighters were nothing more than generic archetypes. Next, a choice should have been made between bringing the audience closer to the girl's experience of events (at the expense of keeping us informed of what was happening everywhere), or making the other characters a little more complex (we spend a lot of time following the Captain, but because he's 'completely evil' we can't really empathise with him so it's not that engaging). Actually the girl could have done with some attention too. How come she's so unafraid of all her tasks? Why does she eat that fruit when it's so obviously a bad idea? Also the relentless 'bluey-green with flecks of bright orange' was unnecessary, and had the effect only of making persecution look picturesque.

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Thu 15th

Breathless (1960) Jean-Luc Goddard

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Great, but I can't help liking 'Bande a Part' a little bit better.

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Thu 15th

Mirror (1975) Andrei Tarkovsky

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At many moments it's more vital and powerful than some of the highs from Lynch, Kubrick, Almodovar, and others, but the trouble is that it's scarcely anything more than poetic cinema. The rare dialogue is often surprising and intersting but the gaps between scenes are so chasmic that I struggled to maintain interest. Poetic cinema of this sort may be compelling for some, but as a whole I found it overpoweringly vague.

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Thu 1st

Dirty Pictures, Hotel Diaries 7 (2007) John Smith

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Brilliantly simple, yet densely packed with elegant and powerful observation. Every time I see one of his films it makes me want to just run out in to the world and look at stuff.

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Thu 1st

Trader's Dreams (2006) Marcus Vetter, Stefan Tolz

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Many depressing stories of eBay traders and competitos around the world. These are some interesting, shocking and amusing portraits, but I can't help feeling like there might be some hopeful or happy stories about eBay out there that haven't been included. I found the argument one-sided and the music and editing quite manuipulative.

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Thu 1st

It's Always Late for Freedom (2006) Mehrdad Oskouei

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An overwhelming display of the day to day generosity, sympathy and hopes of a group of violent juvenile criminals. There are countless powerful juxtapositions in this film, many created by editing and insightful questioning, but many also occurring naturally and discovered by the film-makers. It's a joy to witness so much positivity in this situaton with all its complexities and contradictions laid bare.

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Thu 1st

How Is It Done (2006) Marcel Lozinski

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More terrifying than the most frightening horror movie is this documentary about how easy it is to create a politician from an ordinary person. We see the morality of a group of would-be politicians pushed to its limits among a live testing ground of the unsuspecting general public. It's like entering the matrix and finding your host is Alastair Campbell.

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Thu 1st

The Most Secret Place in the World - The CIA's Covert War in Laos

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Important information, and amazing, eloquent interviewees, but a lousy, poorly constructed and over-stylised documentary. The music, narration and titles undermine the subject matter by aping the hallmarks of a military action film and the barrage of unreferenced source material negates the audience's trust. They should have just let the interviewees talk for 80 minutes instead. The question of how various people attempted to bring legal action about the bombing of Laos is barely touched upon and should really be central to the story. I would particularly have like to hear Fred Branfmann's court testimony in full. Disappointing, but the great material outweighs the poor film-making.

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Oct 2007

Wed 31st

YinMa Ferry (2007) Xiangyang Gong

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In retrospect there were some poingant and personal moments in this film and some real character development too, but while watching it I found it disorienting and unengaging. A little more hand-holding in the editing department would have gone a long way and there were many key events in the story that were not dealt with at all.

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Wed 31st

The Rain Prayer (2006) WenQuing Zhang

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From the first line of voiceover I felt separated from the subject in this documentary. I think it would have been better if constructed in such a way that the viewer could realise for themselves what was at stake for the characters instead of being bluntly and explicitly told by the narrator. I never really believed what he said about what was important to them as I might have done if it had been in their own words.

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Mon 29th

13 Tzameti (2005) Gela Babluani

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A boring, predictable scenario involving characters whom we learn almost nothing about, shot in a pointless and pretentious style. I think I would rather have watched Sebastian ignore the mysterious train ticket and continue fixing the roof.

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Sun 28th

Chop Shop (2007) Ramin Bahrani

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An elegant story, with such insightful nuance and unusually natural pacing that I assumed it must have been devised closely from the events of the non-professional actors' real lives. This turned out not to be the case. The script was apparently written from a years' observation of the location, and the actors are playing created roles. I loved how the major points of the plot were allowed plenty of time to sink in before characters acted upon them, their lives continuing for some time as they were before, but with the shadow of various events looming over them. Bahrani makes very similar choices in other areas, allowing the audience to project their own thoughts on to various neutral media, live a character's blank expression or an empty location. I also really enjoyed the directors introduction before the film, asking us as an audience to dream with this young boy for the next eighty minutes.

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Fri 26th

Into The Wild (2007) Sean Penn

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It's funny to see a film about abandoning society for the simplicity of the outdoors when you know how complex and convoluted a typical film set is. In this film you can often see the lead actor experiencing the actions of his character directly, as he physically engages with nature. At these moments the film is at its best, and I think the audience is able to get comparatively very close to what he's feeling. However, this has the effect of exposing the clunkiness of some of the more plotty dialogue and flashback scenes (though even in these the script itself is mostly rather neat, creative and powerful). The film is quite wordy, with lots of quotes from characters' diaries and letters, as well as from many famous novels. These along with several blunt scenes often felt like emotional short cuts, until discovering at the end of the film that it is based on real events. This effectively undermines the ability to critique the film on these matters because it's impossible to determine what was real and what was a choice of the film-makers.

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Sat 13th

The Mark of Cain (2007) Marc Munden

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Well-researched and engaging drama that comprehensively explores a difficult subject.

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Thu 4th

La Regle du Jeu (1939) Jean Renoir

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Takes almost an hour to get going, but is then surprising and entertaining. Perhaps the most interesting scene is where Octave, played by the director, is unable to find another character to help him out of his bear costume. This seems an early precursor of the in-jokes that were one of the hallmarks of the French new wave.

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Sep 2007

Wed 26th

Three Times (2005) Hou Hsiao-Hsien

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Part one is engaging, vivid and elegant, with the minimum of action or dialogue. Parts two and three grow steadily more complex in plot and become more like stylish melodrama.

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Wed 26th

Last Year in Marienbad (1961) Alain Renais

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One interesting though simple idea relentlessly repeated for two hours. Would make a better installation than a film. Could also serve as a how-to guide to nuts-o editing and eerie organ music.

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Tue 4th

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) Sydney Pollack

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A magnificent microcosm of the entertainment industry, capitalism and human life itself. Would make a fine first lecture on film studies or citizenship. It's argument is powerful, daring, broad and provides its own commentary.

Also contains a much better 'crazy person in the shower' scene than Psycho.

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Aug 2007

Sun 26th

The Party and the Guests (1966) Jan Němec

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Brilliant, intense and constantly challenging. It was particularly shocking to see a revolutionary artist depicting the theatre as a tool of oppression in one scene.

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Sun 26th

Nimmermeer (2006) Toke Constantin Hebbeln

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In structure and style this film is a classical fantasy, a genre that I don't like very much. However, the story contained few elements of fantasy and focussed mainly on real human interaction. It delivered a strong message with a minimum of messing about. Some of the writing was quite brilliant, and there was some terrific puppetry.

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Sun 26th

Snow Cake (2006) Marc Evans

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Contains a lot of cliché, particularly at the start, but builds around it some very original scenes and dialogue. I didn't find any of the characters likeable of interesting in themselves, but their interactions were often thoroughly entertaining.

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Sun 26th

Chansons d'amour (2007) Christophe Honoré

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This is a series of pleasant, interesting scenes, which do not form a meaningful story and are punctuated by about a dozen songs. The blandness of the songs themselves is tolerable, but their narrative stasis is not. It seems music and action do not mix. You either end up with these sorts of repetitive pauses in your story, or else you get a melodramatic opera for the hearing-impaired (e.g.. R Kelly's Trapped in the Closet). There are many charming, playful and rewarding moments in this film, but I often felt bored.

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Sun 19th

Run Granny Run (2007) Marco Poras

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I distinctly remember the moment I understood that art was powerless. It was September 1998. My friend said of Schindler's List, "It was brilliant. It really made me think. And it made me want to do something". Me: "So what did you do?". No Answer.

I hope I continue to remember this film so vividly. It has made me feel empowered, or perhaps empowerabled. Either way, it's not a feeling I ever expected to get from a film. This powerfully corroborates a lot of thoughts I've had recently about how pursuing ones interests is only really fulfilling if done independently (which is to say hierarchy is bad, collaboration is not necessarily bad).

Anyway, my pledge is this: I'm going to look into throwing my weight behind some kind of independent political purpose. If I actually end up doing so, it will be due to this film and it will prove that art can influence society for the better. If not, art is conclusively pointless.

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Sun 19th

Razzle Dazzle (2006) Darren Ashton

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Formulaic and derivative at first glance but reveals pleasing subtleties, depth of character and a pretty good argument by the end. I was feeling pretty harsh towards Ben Miller at the star, probably because he looks and acts so much like Rob Brydon, but some of his lines are really superb.

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Sun 19th

Comrades in Dreams (2006) Uli Gaulke

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Chooses a powerful documentary theme of following cinema projectionists from four different countries, but is not afraid to deviate from this and portray their surroundings. It is shocking for a westerner to see the North Korean projectionist's misguided belief in the power of film (that it can endlessly increase agricultural productivity) and the quality of the films she shows (they're rubbish propaganda and she finds them terrifically moving). Similarly I'm sure a viewer from any of the countries would think the inhabitants of the others are all nuts (the American Christian music we hear is similarly propagandist, and hilarious). But it's a little more effort to see that this unreasonable belief in the power of film is represented across cinema-goers of all four countries. They all see and feel things that aren't there in the crummy films they're offered: the Indians are convinced that the life of every viewer is represented in their film; an American lady is thrilled to receive a free badge for a film she knows nothing about. It makes one wonder what it is that these people get from film. I have no idea what it is but it seems to occur all over the world.

I would also like to reproduce (as well as I can from memory) the words of an Indian man talking about 'Titanic': I learnt a lot from it - that it's a terrible thing not to reach your destination, to sink at sea and not leave a body. It would be very bad for my family if I went to this cinema and disappeared without leaving a body."

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Sun 19th

A Mighty Heart (2007) Michael Winterbottom

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If this is an accurate portrayal of Mariane Pearl then she is an incredibly admirable person. It would be wonderful if more people were able to keep her judgement and perspective at the best of times, let alone under extreme trauma. Beyond the story, The film is vivid, engaging and gives us the information and space to form our own opinions of the events. Deeply inspiring as a film and otherwise.

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Sun 19th

W delta Z (2006) Tom Shankland

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This is a hateful abhoration. The film-makers would rather peddle brutal events of their own imagination than deal with anyhing that even partially resembles extant social problems. The film has to work really hard to provide any sort of message without compromising its promise of sadism, and finally blurts out something like, "it's possible for a man to 'love' someone else so much that he will will bear any amount of ill treatment upon himself or anyone else", and tries to pass this off as somehow positive. Pitiable.

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Sun 19th

LYNCH (2007) blackANDwhite

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I really enjoyed being swept through scenes of Lynch's adventures through the world. He seems to be accompanied by an army of young assistants who help him to apply his will upon anything that takes his interest. There are many exquisite anecdotes, and plenty of useful thoughts for film-makers. The images and the film's construction are also very fitting for the subject, they reflect his influence while having their own style. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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Fri 17th

Control (2007) Anton Corbijn

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This film is either inaccurate or unfortunate and I wish it had not been made. Some of the performances are great, and it contains some welcome humour, but these are dwarfed by everything else: boring melodrama which serves no useful purpose. I had so little capacity for disappointment left that I barely care about the Killers' cover version over the closing credits.

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Fri 17th

I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK (2007) Park Chun-Wook

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Totally delicious production design and many wonderful characters and ideas, all of which contribute to a rich character piece. The realisation of illusory imagination is quite the best I've seen, though the film lacks a clear thesis and could do with a bit of a trim.

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Fri 17th

Phantom Love (2007) Nina Menkes

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There are some beautiful shots in this pointless film. It's a dull montage of unchallenging events that imply nothing. It borrows much of it's subject matter, mood and choice of juxtaposition from Lynch (the superficial similarity to Inland Empire is quite striking in places) but fails to realise that Lynch's brilliance is in his choice of serial and parallel inconsistencies.

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Fri 17th

A Massacre Foretold (2007) Nick Higgins

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I have never before seen footage of indigenous people in the process of having their land taken by force, and I am not aware of any apart from this, so it's a very special film. I felt the film was rarely explicit or clear, but I think we are lucky to have what we have. Particular revelations for me were that the paramilitary counter insurgency was built from neighbouring tribes who had already had their livelihoods crushed by the state, and that incredibly the ex-president Zedillo is now a lecturer at Yale while he awaits trial for these murderous crimes.

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Fri 17th

Planet B-Boy (2007) Benson Lee

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As expected, the world's best breakdancers are unrelentingly incredible to watch, but this documentary doesn't go much deeper than that. It takes the most obvious course through the action of its subject and fails to deliver much from its flirtation with the dancers' personal lives. I think a far more intersting story would have centered around the South Korean dancers' fears and eventual avoidance of National Service.

It could have been so much better, but it was still inspiring.

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Thu 16th

Ratatouille (2007) Brad Bird

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This is easily the best Pixar movie since Toy Story, and staggeringly slick even by their standards. Every element of story, image, dialogue, etc. is intricately placed within the whole and given a good polish.

My main criticism of children's films is their lack of criticism of social norms, but it's a little harder to have a crack at a kids movie that uses words like 'surplus' and 'rejectamenta' without hesitation.

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Thu 16th

Lovely by Surprise (2007) Kirt Gunn

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This is an amusing platform for experimentation and play which falls a little short of forming a cohesive whole. The characters occupy a spectrum from pure allegory to pure emotion, and they're all flung together in various combinations so there's plenty of diverse interplay. The conceits are a lot to stomach, but I think it's worth it to see their consequences.

The soundtrack matches the film very well; it's intentionally quirky to the point of saturation, but provides some pleasing results.

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Tue 14th

Intacto (2001) Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

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All plot and no humanity. What, other than a tendentious script, could possibly provoke a concentration camp survivor to engage in murderous games of chance? This film chose to hide this and other glaring moral absurdities behind a thick layer of fetishistic style.

Also, Polaroids come a close second to Rubik's Cubes as the cheapest shortcut in film-making, and Intacto had a towering stack of them.

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Tue 7th

Fitzcarraldo (1982) Werner Herzog

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Clearly an almost incredible feat, yet I found myself repelled by the decadence of the film. I don't know what to make of the indiginous tribe's actions at the end of the film. What is Herzog trying to say by having them accidentally avoid collonial plundering of their surroundings as a side effect of acting on their spiritual beliefs?

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Mon 6th

Daft Punk's Electroma (2006) Thomas Bangalter & Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo

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Beautiful and charming. The strong production design and tone allow us to be very easily convinced of complex concepts (ie. that the protagonists are robots, yet they express very human feelings) on the basis of such sparce suggestion. It's also interesting how totally our view of the characters is deflected: (most superficially) their fake skin; their frequent deption as silhouettes; their super-specular helmets and visors, which ensure that the closer we try to look into them, the more vividly the natural environment is reflected back at us.

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Sun 5th

Lost in Translation (2003) Sofia Coppola

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Delicate and reductive at the same time.

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Wed 1st

The Simpsons Movie (2007) David Silverman

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Who Shot Mr. Burns was impossible to beat. This movie was full of the arbitrary subplots (Alaska? Inexplicable Irish boyfriend?) that have crippled the TV show in recent years. Also the TV pacing feels very awkward on the big screen. The pig song was funny though.

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Jul 2007

Thu 26th

Stalag 17 (1953) Billy Wilder

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Good, but still a little disappointing. I think this is the least clever, exciting and insightful Wilder movie that I've seen. For heroism in dire circumstances The Five Graves of Cairo, directed by Wilder ten years earlier, is much better, not least in its slightly more tasteful portrayal of Nazis who come across as bumbling clowns in Stalag 17.

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Sat 21st

Shadows (1959) John Cassavetes

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At the beginning of this film I felt it was a very 'European' American film, but then I started to notice some quite interesting differences. Shadows is freeform within each scene though still follows a rigid plot, where the reverse is true of many contemporaneous European art films. It is ernest where they are playful. One particular comparison that struck me is the scene in the Louvre in Bande à part, in which the characters show a comfortable disrespect for their society's high culture. In Shadows the trip to the museum is marked by intimidation, resentment or wonderous incomprehension.

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Thu 19th

Police Squad! (1982) Zucker, Abrahams & Zucker

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So good.

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Sun 15th

Last Tango in Paris (1972) Bernardo Bertolucci

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Charming, offensive, inspiring. Like the films of Goddard, Antonioni and Rivette, this broadened my sense of the range of meanings and feelings that can be expressed through film.

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Sat 14th

Shooter (2007) Antoine Fuqua

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What are the chances of accidentally seeing two Danny Glover films back to back?

This one (honourably? cynically?) attempted to include the gamut of cheap left liberal neo-con jibes, but in the end just couldn't help putting politics aside and shooting all the bad guys in the back.

As a film dork, I have to say that the humour in the film was surprisingly elegant: it was well timed, genuinely witty, not distracting, and with a neat pinch of self parody.\ (And to borrow from old BBC Radio One film reviews) Exploding helicopter quotient: 2

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Thu 12th

Bamako (2006) Abderrahmane Sissako

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Contains several well-structured, grandiloquent legal indictments of African debt, the World Bank and the IMF. The film as a whole though is sparse with reason and argument, and prefers personal anecdotal experience and oblique non-verbal emotional expression. I prefer rational discussion to this blanket approach to persuasion, but I recognise it's value and appreciate the director's beautiful and innovatively structured realisation of his goals.

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Sun 8th

Caché (2005) Michael Haneke

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There were some nice stylistic touches but I found the film's relentless ambiguity rendered it almost meaningless.

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Jun 2007

Sat 30th

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005) Cristi Puiu

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An immersive depiction of the last hours of a lonely man's life. Exquisite characterisation, a peppering of unobtrusive symbolism and constant imperative to engage critically with the action. The way the protagonist's life is transferred to his sudden guardian, the paramedic, as he slowly loses consciousness is thoroughly compelling. The DVD also featured an insightful interview with the director in which he sums up the film, "You're going to die alone, baby."

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Fri 15th

The Pixar Story (2007) Leslie Iwerks

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Ha! Those zany animation geeks with their Hawaiian shirts, their micro scooters and their paper aeroplane competitions! But why all those sad violins?

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Tue 12th

Copenhagen Cycles (2006) Eric Dyer

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By far the best film I saw at the Annecy animation festival this week. It's a non-narrative series of live-action shots of 'cinetropes', 3D sculptures made of horizontal strips of printed video footage which are arranged in loops and ascending and descending archimedian spirals, rotating about their axes. Some are simple repeating backgrounds while others are complex arrangements of cut-out layers different periods. The tiny imperfections in arrangement produce beautiful natural bobbing motions that add to the hypnotic effect. Delicately edited to a delightful composition by John Adams.

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Sat 9th

Funny Ha Ha (2002) Andrew Bujalski

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A little like watching a Dogme film, but with humourous awkwardness in place of outright trauma. I really enjoyed it, but can't shake the feeling that the first scene was the best.

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Sat 2nd

Silent Running (1972) Douglas Trumbull

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Traditionally, science fiction movies offer conditional enjoyment; if you accept a silly premise you are granted visual and conceptual treats. Solaris: if you accept there are ghosts in space, you are rewarded with a tightly-woven psychological masterpiece. Sunshine: if you accept that in the near future man would need to (or even be able to) re-ignite the sun with terrestrial energy sources, and that the world's most capable team of astronauts would alter their plan mid-trip on the basis of garbled science-babble, you are given some of the most beautiful effects scenes ever committed to celluloid. Space-Jam: if you accept... but I have already made my point.

Silent Running defaults on this contract. If you accept that the last remaining flora in existence are for some reason in space, and that the consensus of humanity, bar one man, is that it should all be jettisoned beyond reach, and then destroyed by nuclear weapons (?!), then you can expect, for your patience, another 40 minutes of that one, poor man improvising for his life against a thin, illogical script, and enduring three too many folk musical montage sequences. There is a ten-minute scene of him playing poker with two mute robots, in which he wins one hand and then loses one. I was unable to draw any conclusions as to the argument of this or any other scene. I lost track of the number of times the word 'just' was used, apparently to absolve the screenwriters from providing any plausible explanations for their characters' actions. To quote the lead, immediately before he pointlessly commits suicide for no obvious reason, "I just can't take it any more."

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May 2007

Tue 29th

Roger and Me (1989) Michael Moore

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A moving film, documenting massive lay-offs in the manufacturing industry. It goes beyond the immediate effects and comments on more complex issues like corporate propaganda and poorly-advised state and local government spending.

Almost everyone in the film comes across badly (though many have redeeming features), which struck me initially of one-sided argumentation, but perhaps reflects the sheer scale of the bad situation.

There's an interesing scene where baby rabbits are used as a metaphor for the diplsaced auto-workers ("You gotta keep them in separate cages else they'll literally chew each others balls off and then all you've got is a bloody mess") which reminded me of the comparison inferred between 'killer Africanized bees' and African Americans in Bowling for Columbine - neither link is explicitly stated, and each fills it's own place in the narrative besides the metaphor. They really are very neat comparisons.

It's an inspiring film, particularly due to Moore's acceptance of his peculiar subjects (when it's sincere), and makes me curious as to the sorts of interesting people one might meet while making documentaries. After some thought my opinion is that Moore is chasing the wrong guy. Robert Smith is chairman of a corporation. One cannot expect a man in his position to choose humanism over profit. That's what a capitalist corporation is for. Moore's aim is short-sighted: If he really wanted to help those workers he should not have campaigned for them to get their jobs back, but for capitalism to be abolished, or for the US to stop encouraging sub-standard treatment of South American workers, etc.

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Thu 24th

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) Alain Resnais

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The first half hour is great, I found the rest a little dull.

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Apr 2007

Thu 12th

Fast Food Nation (2006) Richard Linklater

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Yum!

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