Monthly recap: What have I been watching in November?


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I haven't done one of these mini-review posts in a while, so a few of the films below I watched in October.

I was in London recently, and got to visit a few free museums I had never been to. Went to The British Museum, which you could basically spend 3 days exploring, spent the day there, and saw the Mexican history area about the Mayans and Aztecs, and also the Egyptian mummies. Both with guided tours. On the way out we passed by the Rosetta Stone, which has taken many years to decipher, and has helped scientists work out what certain ancient symbols stand for.

Another day, we stopped by The Tate Britain art museum, and it was quite odd to watch Skyfall the next day, because Bond looks at a Turner picture in the movie, and we saw a Turner collection at the museum. We also walked past several other filming locations, which was kind of surreal to see those places again so soon in cinema.



An even bigger coincidence was that the Turner picture "The Fighting Temeraire" (above) seen in Skyfall is on my wall at home!!! I didn't go to The National Gallery, where apparently Bond saw it, I did walk past the museum by Trafalgar Square, though.

We also considered The London Film Museum. Decided against it, because beforehand I read a number of unenthusiastic reviews online, saying, besides the Chaplin exhibition, it wasn't worth £12. Maybe next time.

Was an expensive month. While in London, I watched a bunch of 2012 cinema releases. Only thing is the cinema prices are higher there than normal, c'est la vie...

Also filled my suitcase with a few new books, I was lucky enough to find a few film-related books from my wish list: Cronenberg on Cronenberg, Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh, and Gilliam on Gilliam. Also The Great Gatsby, which I still haven't read yet. Probably would have been cheaper buying those online or loaning from library, but I couldn't help myself, when I saw them lined up on the shelf!




NEW FILMS WATCHED:



Barbara (2012)
Doesn't have a whole lot new to say that we didn't already learn in Oscar-winning The Lives Of Others (2006), but it does have a mood of distrust which is striking. The story made me curious again about 80s East Germany, so it can be a starting point for looking into the history.
Rating 7.4



Looper (2012)
I quite liked Looper, wouldn't say I loved it. Aside from the drugs in the eyes, there were no other moments where I felt "hey I've never seen that before in a movie"
A lot of the time travel stuff doesn't make sense, but it never does anyway in these type of sci-fi films.
Not among my favorites of the year, still, an entertaining ride. I definitely feel a second viewing is required to process my thoughts, whenever that may be.
Rating 7.4

Your Sister's Sister (2012)
Overrated, mediocre indie drama. To me, Emily Blunt was miscast having a British accent. Not as funny as I expected, and fairly predictable.
Know the feeling when all the reviewers praise a movie and you don't get what's so great about it? This is what happened. The only scene that was mildly interesting was when the two were drinking late at night and getting drunk. Watch the trailer and you've pretty much seen this movie. Not recommended.
Rating 5.5




Argo (2012)
Slick, US thriller. I think you could sum up the story in 2 minutes, yet they drag it out to 2 hours. Very little characterization, so I only care about the outcome, not the characters. I think this film is overrated, and not deserving of Oscars.
Extra points for the very suspenseful last 30 minutes, which was very well-done.
Perhaps, as Random Film Buff writes: "Argo attempts to give insightful observations of the ethics of the movie business, or lack of, that is"
Rating 6.8


Cosmopolis (2012)
I didn't think the story was suited for a film, and the novel should maybe have been left alone. The story is very monotonous, and the unlikeable main character (Robert Pattinson) I didn't care about if he got his hair cut, or his marriage goes well or not. None of them feel like real living characters, but puppets reading their lines. Not as good as the trailer suggested.
Rating 6.0


Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012) (documentary)
Entertaining documentary about the James Bond franchise. Starts off by focusing on  writer Ian Fleming, and later on what was going on behind the scenes of the films. George Lazenby is remarkably honest, a pity no new interview with Sean Connery, only brief archival footage and audio of him. A number of films are not mentioned (Moonraker, A View To A Kill, Tomorrow Never Dies) so don't expect all the Bond productions to be discussed. Loved the music used in the doc, instrumental tunes from the Bond movies. Enjoyable to watch, if you are a fan of the series. Very little is said about Skyfall, except a clip from the trailer.
Rating 7.7



Ruby Sparks (2012)
The fictional character coming to life was a cool idea in a 'Being John Malkovich' kind of way. The scenes when they are just getting to know each other in the park and at the pool are my favorites. "I'm writing to spend time with her" pretty much sums up why authors love to write. Does an imaginary person have a will of their own is what I could see this film was saying. Also about being yourself in a relationship and not being too controlling. Don't expect any revelations about being a writer, though.
Something I can't put my finger on held me back from loving it, maybe it was the lack of surprises, and that Paul Dano has been playing that awkward geek character several times before. Didn't quite live up to the promise of the concept, in my opinion.
Rating 6.5





Holy Motors (2012)
Imaginative, absurd, experimental arthouse film, which demands a lot from the viewer, and will divide audiences. Sadly I’m not a fan.
Plenty of wild ideas. I struggled to put the pieces together to a meaningful whole.
It’s different and unique, I’ll give it that.
Is it set in the future, or an alternative reality? Who is controlling them? Why does he have to keep changing appearance? Are the disguises some kind of job, or pranks, performance art, day dreams of a businessman? Many questions.
Unpredictable and original, but didn't quite live up to the hype surrounding it for me. I admire the risk-taking of the filmmakers, and I was interested to see how this cinematic poem would play out. But for my liking too bizarre and too self-conscious of its own style. The episodic structure left me emotionally cold. A philosophical exercise that is not for everyone.
Favorite quote: “Your punishment is to live with yourself”
Rating 7.2


Beasts of The Southern Wind (2012)
The desire to live outside of civilized society has always interested me, The Mosquito Coast (1986) is among my 100 favorite films. I loved the visuals and poetic dialogue of BOTSW, and I ended up liking it more than Holy Motors, because I could connect with the emotions. I’d like to watch it again with subtitles next time.
Rating 7.8



Amour (2012)
Great acting. The last 30 minutes are powerful and memorable, yet the first 90 minutes feel very slow and borderline boring. The film didn’t need to be over two hours in my opinion, and not among my favorites of the year. I really wanted to love the characters, but I never really did. I felt there was an emotional distance, even though we are together with the old couple in their apartment for so long. Or may just have simply been folks that I couldn’t relate to personally.
Rating 7.4



Skyfall (2012)
Loved the opening credits scene on the train. The one-liners, love them or loathe them, reminded me of the 70s and 80s Bond movies, which is my favorite Bond era. I disliked Quantum of Solace, so it was a welcome return to form. Even though the motivations of the villain, especially in the underground, were not very clear to me. Bardem was a memorable villain, no doubt. I had a good time all the way through.
Rating 7.9


Marley (2012) (documentary)
To be frank, I know zilch about Bob Marley and his career, so I went in blind, only having previously heard a few of his biggest hits. It was interesting to learn about his origins, his black and white descent, neglected by his dad.
The doc covers his rise to fame, how he was wounded by a shooter, almost lost his toe playing football. Despite being worshipped by the audiences, he was not a very faithful dude in relationships, eleven children with seven different partners. Enjoyable documentary, which showcases his strengths and weaknesses as a man. He should have lived longer than he did.
Rating 7.7


Silver Lining Playbook (2012)
Considering this film won the audience award at Toronto film Festival, I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed.
I don't know if Bradley Cooper stands a chance during awards season, his performance in this I thought was the best so far of his career. Maybe that isn't saying much, because he hasn't really been given many great acting roles yet.
There is something about Jennifer Lawrence’s eyes and acting that makes it difficult for me to bond with her character. In my opinion, Bradley Cooper is much easier to see what he is going through, and empathize with, from looking at his face.
I’m sure there is a mainstream audience for this, but count me as among those who wasn’t entirely won over by its charm. Maybe because I guessed where it was heading.
Rating 7.2



The Master (2012)
Great performances by the main cast. The characters are sort of unlikeable, though they are so fascinating to observe that it doesn’t really matter. Whether Lancaster Dodd’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is helping or harming Freddy Quill (Joaquin Phoenix) is open to debate.
I agree with Eric, that "it could represent any number of cults. The point here is not to bash a certain organization but to show the man in power and his influence over those near him."
Rating 8.0


Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Coming of age high school drama set in the 80s before internet and mobile phones. Loved the atmosphere and soundtrack.
I think it helped Emma Watson has gone to school in the US, her accent was flawless. Brit actors playing Americans often have dodgy distracting accents, not so in this film, at least nothing off that I noticed. I think she has the most promising future of the Harry Potter kids. I’m curious how this film would hold up for a rewatch.
Rating 7.8





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OTHER FILMS WATCHED:




The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Not an easy watch, a film that will divide audiences. Slow-paced, long, and dialogue-heavy western with an ensemble cast of name actors. You may want to view the film with subtitles, the accents are sometimes difficult to understand. I expected more action scenes than I got, since they were outlaws. Many scenes are just guys sitting around talking. The cinematography has a praiseworthy, Malick-esque beauty, and the acting is solid.
I found the characters tough to care about. It has it's moments, particularly near the end, but for this reviewer doesn't achieve the greatness it clearly strives for. Some of the supporting cast could have been edited out, for example the Paul Schneider story, was it essential? I love the ambition of the production, but to me needed tighter execution. Too dull and lacking intensity, I don't think I'd watch it again. There was little emotional connection for me.
Rating 6.8



The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)
Having recently enjoyed Starman (1984), I was in the mood for another sci-fi that explores our cultures values and desires from the perspective of an alien outsider.
The director Nicolas Roeg's filmography is also largely a blind spot for me.
I've never been won over by David Bowie's acting, but he does have an interesting and secretive face, which makes him a good choice to play a mysterious alien. His motivations and ambitions are tough to read.
The story is quite simple, but still quite tricky to follow. I have read the editing was purposefully non-linear narrative, kind of like how Memento was not in order. I didn't quite see why that was necessary in this case, though? Also, why does he go to Mexico?
I could be wrong, the film to me is about an innocent being corrupted by temptations, sort of like Adam & Eve.
To me Roeg's film has big potential and wonderful ideas, yet the elusiveness is quite frustrating at times, there is very little substance in the dialogue, instead the viewer has to make up their own mind of what it's images are about. This filmmaking style has led opinions to be very polarizing, some calling it a masterpiece of the 70s, others calling it empty and pretentious.
Interesting how everyone supposes when you say "drink" that it means alcohol and not water, the modern life of automatically assuming someone wants alcohol. shows how far we've come in our excess society, that it would be somehow rude and impolite to offer what would suffice, a glass of water, H2O has been reduced to an unusual choice.
It must be quite something to have the ability to see the past in an empty field, and to view in your mind what people are doing in other parts of the country. An alien observation of what television is to him was another cool theme, but I never figured out what his position was on that, why he watches all those screens simultaneously was never explained.
A very interesting film I had mixed feelings about in terms of nonlinear style. There is no denying we glimpse fascinating ideas. Probably is more about what is not said, than is said. As a think-piece it stayed with me, as a watching experience I felt it was flawed, and not quite sure what it wanted to be.
Rating 7.6


A Serious Man (2009)
Cohen brothers drama. A Jewish teacher going through a difficult time in his life: his marriage, at work, & spiritually. The film looks great thanks to DP Roger Deakins. The story didn’t rise above average for me, and the ending was unsatisfying.
Rating 7.0

The Simpsons : The Movie (2007)
Entertaining, if a little predictable
Rating 7.3

Taken (2008)
Fast paced French action thriller, which doesn’t disappoint, despite the formulaic nature of the story
Rating 7.4


Senna (2010) (documentary)
A highlight reel if you will of Ayrton Senna’s life and career.
Captivating even if you, like me, have little interest in formula one.
I especially liked what Senna said about looking ahead to success in the future.
Rating 8.2


The Invention of Lying (2009)
Very disappointing. The idea is great, but to me the jokes are not as good as they should be.
Expect a “what if” drama rather than a comedy. Nowhere near as funny as The Office, and not as effective to me as Ghost Town (2008)
Rating 4.0

Hereafter (2010)
Decent story of a group of characters who’s lives intertwine. No masterpiece, but also not as bad as reviews indicate. Worth a watch.
Rating 7.0


Maltese Falcon (1941)
I liked the dialogue, even though it was blink and you’ll miss it. A film noir impossible to predict.
Nominated for Best Picture and with an iconic Humphrey Bogart performance.
Favorite quote: You always have a very smooth explanation ready. What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?”
Rating 8.0



Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carnival) (1951)
Great performance by Kirk Douglas as an ambitious newpaper reporter in a small town, he really had some good roles back then. I haven’t seen many Billy Wilder films before, only 3-4. This one, and Some Like It Hot have encouraged me to check out a few more: Witness for the Prosecution, Double Indemnity, Stalag 17, & The Seven Year Itch are next for me.
Favorite quotes: “I can handle big news and little news, and if there’s no news, I can go out and bite a dog” “I’ve met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life, but you, you’re 20 minutes”
Rating 8.0


The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d'Arc) (1928)
Silent classic. Great acting. A huge amount is said with body language and facial expressions, especially Joan, those intense eyes, passion indeed. You can perceive the film as a historical documentary.
That torture wheel is the scariest thing I’ve seen for a while. Never seen a character cry that much in a movie before. She has a lot of presence.
The director Dreyer admitted in Neergaard’s biography that the close-ups “made it possible for me to bring the audience very near to the physical and mental torture that Jeanne suffered, and also showed how her judges and tormentors reacted to her tears”
Rating 8.0

Leave Her To Heaven (1945)
I like Douglas Sirk's melodramas, however this one directed by John M. Stahl is just too old-fashioned for my taste. There is something very dated, unrealistic and plasticy about the whole movie. Only so much gee! golly! and gosh! I can handle. Probably worked okay in the 40s, today it’s not for everyone.
Favorite quote: “To a man like that, two years in prison is worse than hell”
Rating 6.0


A Place in The Sun (1951)
A film that stayed with me. I agree with Alex Withrow’s assessment, that George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) is a vulnerable character, drifting along, going with the flow. However you can also blame the decision-making of na├»ve Shelley Winters character to a certain extent, she doesn’t think ahead either, by entering into a relationship that is frowned upon.
There’s a great quote that relates to the main character, which is not in the movie, but popped into my head while watching: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody”
Favorite quote: “I guess I loved you before I saw you”
A candidate for my top 100 film list. A Place in the Sun won six Oscars, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, although it lost Best Picture to An American in Paris.
Rating 8.2

The Case of The Scorpion’s Tale (1971)
Entertaining Italian giallo, with the trademark murders, unknown killer, beautiful women, and a twist ending. Intricate plot is closer to a Hitchcock whodunit than to horror. Don’t expect anything deeper besides a suspenseful, well-told story, though.
Rating 7.5

L’argent (Money) (1983)
Director Robert Bresson’s last film. Powerful story, although the emotionally detached acting style of Bressons films with characters stripped of theatricality means that it’s difficult to connect. Good story with a haunting ending.
Rating 7.5

A Gentle Woman (Un Femme Douce) (1969)
Robert Bresson directed French drama. A young woman whose relatives use her as a servant meets a man. A major theme is jealousy and relationship issues. Based on a story by Russian author Dostoyevsky.
Rating 6.8


Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971)
Robert Bresson directed French drama. Again based on a story by Russian author Dostoyevsky. The scenes with the eccentric painter in his flat I found dull. The lodger scenes and following women in the streets were memorable, as were the heart-to-hearts by the water. I couldn’t say if this is better or worse than Visconti’s adaptation of the story, both are good, and very different stylistically.
Rating 7.6

The Ladies of the Bois de Boulogne (1945)
Robert Bresson directed drama about a couple drifting away from each other.
Favorite quote: “There is no such thing as love, only proofs of love”
Rating 6.4

Tokyo Twilight (1957)
I decided to watch a few Ozu. About an unwanted pregnancy and how impacts on family.
I found it overlong and mostly dull. The last hour was the best part, and I liked the innkeeper scenes, but even so, feels contrived that the woman meets someone to go on the train with.
Rating 6.5

I was born, but… (1933)
Silent film by Ozu. Loved the yawning scene
The story of a group of mischievous children is timeless. Suitable for all age groups, the film reflects the falseness of adulthood, yet is also a bit predictable towards the end.
Rating 7.5


Tokyo Story (1953)
The balancing act of following your own path, and allocating time to family, is part of life. How we treat are parents is a sign of who we are, no matter if they have been good, or not so loving parents. Since our parents sacrificed their best years to raise us, is it a sin to neglect them, when they are old? Is it also the parent's duty to let their children lead their own lives? These are the type of questions which Ozu's most famous film asks. I quite liked it, definitely improved on rewatch, but a little slow in places.
Rating 7.5





My top 5:

1.) A Place in The Sun (1951) (8.2)
2.) Senna (2010) (documentary) (8.2)
3.) Maltese Falcon (1941) (8.0)
4.) The Master (2012) (8.0)
5.) Ace in the Hole (1951) (8.0)

6.) The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) (8.0)
7.) Skyfall (2012) (7.9)
8.) Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) (7.8)
9.) Beasts of The Southern Wind (2012) (7.8)
10.) Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012) (documentary) (7.7)
11.) Marley (2012) (documentary) (7.7)
12.) The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) (7.6)
13.) Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971) (7.6)
14.) Tokyo Story (1953) (7.5)
15.) L’argent (Money) (1983) (7.5)
16.) The Case of The Scorpion’s Tale (1971) (7.5)


Agree? Disagree? Have you seen any of the above? What were your favorite films watched in November?

28 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had fun. Great months of films here, Chris.

    Really glad you liked Skyfall, Perks, Senna, The Maltese Falcon, and Ace in the Hole. Love that you're going to check out more of Wilder's work.

    I can't wait for Holy Motors, Amour, and Silver Linings Playbook! :)

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    1. @Josh: Yes, it was a fun holiday. I thought you might welcome my idea of watching more Billy Wilder.

      Hope you enjoy that group of new films you mention at the end there, I quite liked them, but didn't love those three.

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  2. Great post! I agree that The Invention of Lying was a disappointment. It started out mildly funny and went downhill. I'd never heard of Barbara, but it sounds intriguing.

    I am so jealous that you've been in London! ;-) And I do love art museums.

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    1. @Quirky BookandFilmBuff: I'm a fan of Ricky Gervais, what he does as host of awards shows is hilarious, and of course The Office is amazing. I guess everything Gervais touches can't turn to gold, I think The Invention of Lying is a misfire.

      Museums, I especially love guided tours

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  3. Sorry you didn't like Argo more, I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to Silver Linings Playbook and the Master, I think they have a shot at getting in my top 10 of the year.

    London is fantastic, but very expensive indeed. Still, it's money well spent, I really hope to visit that city soon.

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    1. @Sati: Yeah, seems like I'm the only blogger who didn't love Argo ! Somehow too American and Hollywood for my taste.

      Indeed expensive, I payed £13 to see Amour, and its not even 3D. You should definitely visit London when you have the chance, lots to do there.

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  4. Wow, great bunch of films! Senna is one of my all-time favourites, he was my childhood hero and I'd been waiting for a good documentary on him for a while. Great to hear so many non F1 fans such as yourself enjoying it so much to.

    Agree with you completely on A serious Man but I loved The Assasination Of Jesse James. Can't wait for the master!

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    1. @filmdrivel: Senna is great, one of my favorite documentaries watched this year.

      I know there is a fanbase for The Assasination Of Jesse James, it was stunning for cinematography, but the story I found overlong and dull, and in need of more intensity.

      Enjoy the Master ! Currently in my top 10 of 2012.

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  5. Wow, you watched a ton of films! I like ARGO a lot more than you but hey, glad to see the high rating on SENNA. That was my fave movie of the month last March. I REALLY want to see A Place in the Sun and Maltese Falcon!

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    1. @Ruth: I liked SENNA a lot more than Argo, that's for sure.

      A Place in the Sun and Maltese Falcon, a couple of classics you shouldn't miss.

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  6. Wow Chris even if some of these were from October, this is a helluva lot of films and many I still need to see. Really want to see The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Marley and that Bond doc. And very curious to see if I'll be a lover or hater of Holy Motors too. Agree with many of your ratings but would give Argo much more. It's probably going to make my top 5 of the year.

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    1. @Pete: Of the 2012 titles, Marley, Cosmopolis, and Your Sister's Sister are out on dvd in the UK, and that Bond doc I was lucky to watch on youtube, before it got deleted.
      I certainly took the opportunities I had in London to see most of the new films on my list. It's so easy at Leicester Square with all the cinemas grouped together. I missed Rust and Bone and Anna Karenina, but the reviews were mixed for those two, and you can't see everything!

      Holy Motors, and the other new releases you mention, look forward to your thoughts on them. I'm out on my own not loving Argo it would seem!

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  7. Looks like a cool month. Still have to decide whether or not to watch Holy Motors as it's been getting mixed reviews.

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    1. @Nostra: It was great to cross off lots of my anticipated 2012 films, I think December will be a quieter month on the movie watching front for me. Holy Motors, it left me emotionally cold, but it is very unique and unpredicable.

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  8. Quite a month, Chris. Seems you enjoyed your London trip. I watched a film festival, some of them are free but some new ones have a ticket fee. It surely cost a little more.

    So jealous that you've seen Perks, I wish I can see it soon. Also want to see Senna.

    I feel the same about Looper, I think I need a second viewing to digest it better. Quite fast paced.

    Ruby Sparks was a bit predictable, but still loved it.

    I already saw Intouchables, you were right. It's now in the top rank of the movies I've seen this year.

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    1. @Andina: Yes, I enjoyed a chance of scene, and it was nice to try new things, and watch films I had been anticipating. That's great you went to a film festival, must be fun to meet other movie enthusiasts from your country ( :

      I think you would like Perks, I'm not sure its a masterpiece, but it's definitely good, and a worthwhile watch. You get to care about the characters-I did anyway.

      Intouchables is great, the black guy Omar Sy could be a future star, if he isn't already. He actually beat The Artist performance by Jean Dujardin at the French version of the Oscars, the Cesars.

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  9. Love these epic mini-review posts. Sounds like an awesome time in London!

    Agree with you on most of the new releases. Skyfall and Looper were good fun, but I'm not sure either will make my top ten. Great to hear you enjoyed The Master so much (thanks for the shoutout, BTW!).

    I plan on indulging in Wilder's filmography as well. Out of the others you mentioned, I have seen Double Indemnity and The Seven Year Itch. The former is one of the all-time great noirs and an absolute must-see, while the latter is probably the weakest I have seen from Wilder. Still worth seeing for Marilyn Monroe's unforgettable performance.

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    1. @Eric: Thanks, I had a good time in London

      Skyfall is in my top 10 of 2012 so far, might change once I've seen a few other releases, we'll see.

      I'm still a Billy Wilder newbie. Look forward to delving into his work. I can't wait to see Double Indemnity, I think I'll move it to the top of my queue.

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  10. Barbara - I obviously enjoyed this one a bit more. I just loved all the small details and the low-key narrative approach, plus I think I have a bit of an Iron Curtain fetish. :)

    Cosmopolis - I'm getting the sense that we aren't going to agree on much this month. Normally artificial dialog irks me, but here I think it represents a stylized representation of the present and these aren't regular people. I do agree the trailer was a poor misrepresentation of the film.

    Holy Motors - I don't think we'll ever know the true meaning, but I see it as Carax' ode to how cinema used to be, and his way of saying goodbye to the past. All the refrerences, and all the unpredictability, it just hit all the right film geek buttons for me.

    Beasts - We've already talked about this one, but I think the biggest problem I had was I couldn't figure out whether it was a farce or it was supposed to be serious.

    Amour - Finally some common ground. I also couldn't relate to the old couple as much as some others. Who knows, maybe in a decade or two my feelings will change.

    Marley - Enjoyable. Not as compelling or as informative as I would have liked, but still very well put together.

    The Master - Excellent performances, but as a whole nowhere near the level of cinematic greatness I expected from PTA.

    The Man Who Fell To Earth - 'big potential but frustrating' can pretty much describe all of Roeg's career. I do enjoy his style, and have always been a Bowie fan, so this one is up there for me.

    Senna - I actually started watching F1 the year after his death, so I didn't know much about him first hand and never understood his perceived greatness. But this doc really captured and represented his life and career in an excelent way. Man, those scenes with him and the doctor the day before the accident. Devastating.

    The Passion of Joan of Arc - The sheer amount of emotion, and the scary way Dreyer presents it. It's a film that doesn't need words.

    Scorpion's Tale - Another cool giallo from Martino. He doesn't get enough recognition compared to his contemporaries.

    L'argent - I found it fascinating and loved the way the story unfolded. As a complete film, I'd rate this one among Bresson's best.

    A Gentle Woman - One of the least effective of his films. Very much a 'French drama' and didn't have anything important to say.

    Four Nights of a Dreamer - I loved the style of this one. Maybe not his best, but I can honestly say it's my 'favorite' Bresson film. Perhaps because I can easily see myself as the dreamer. Those night time street scenes in particular have a direct line to my heart.

    Ladies of the Bois Boulogne - An early effort where he hadn't yet found his cinematic voice. Looks and plays just like most other French films from this era. Nothing really remarkable but not a waste of time either.

    Tokyo Story - This is one of many critically heralded masterpieces that I haven't been able to figure out what all the fuss is about. Even though I do like his style, and love the works of the filmmakers influenced by Ozu, it doesn't blow me away.

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    1. @Bonjour Tristesse: Thanks for the detailed comment.

      Barbara - I liked the dilemma of personal goals and responsibility towards helping at the hospital. I read an article with the director, and he said that in those rural areas in the East Germany, you could hear the surrounding nature, the sound of a car approaching was loud and unexpected, and he wanted to highlight that with no music. Petzold talked about the origin of the film. A doctor told him a true story about East Germany, those wanting to leave were punished, male doctors were sent to the army, women doctors to the country. Barbara was also based on a book from the 1930s by Hermann Broch, about a female doctor in a dicey situation.
      I read the director is currently making a film about a survivor from Auschwitz, who returns to Berlin in 1945 to start over.

      Cosmopolis – yeah, I think you have more patience and love for these slow paced Cannes films than I do! My taste I think is often in the middle grey area between arthouse and mainstream, I don’t like it to be too slow and arty, and not too mainstream either. So I sometimes struggle to find films that speak to me. The Master was one that fits that grey area. I agree, the Cosmopolis trailer was a misrepresentation of the finished product.

      Holy Motors – Never knowing the true meaning, that’s what you love about Double Life of V, if my memory serves me correctly!

      Beasts – maybe it was both, farce and serious.

      Amour – I know, I just never really cared about the old couple as much as I wanted to. The last 30 minutes of Amour was powerful, the metaphor of the bird in the flat was beautifully done, and of course the events which I won't reveal. I'm not quite loving the opening 90 minutes, though, which I found lacking in story. There are hints at past wounds, which were quite interesting, when she calls him a monster I think, would have liked that to have been elaborated on a bit more.

      The Master – I’m not sure it’s PTA best film either, but it has grown on me, the more I think about it. I think there is more to discuss afterwards than his earlier work.

      The Man Who Fell To Earth – I wasn't too sure what grade to give this one, was it a 6 or an 8. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, because it was fascinating.

      Senna – it had a big impact on you then, getting you into watching F1. Agree about those scenes with him and the doctor.

      The Passion of Joan of Arc - Indeed holds up as a powerful watch

      Scorpion's Tale – Agree, he is underappreciated. This is among my favorite giallos in terms of intricate story that I’ve seen.

      Four Nights of a Dreamer – Definitely a Bresson film where you get sucked into a kind, of, well, dreamy world, I liked it a lot. Still need to see Diary of Country Priest, of his essential films.

      Tokyo Story - It didn't blow me away either, though I quite liked the theme. But most of what I wrote in my mini-review was from my own thoughts on the subject, and not in the script. I guess Ozu’s film got me thinking about the parent-child relationship, which is not a bad thing.

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    2. No problem. More often than not, your monthly recaps contain a ton of films that I've also seen and it's fun to compare notes.

      Interesting to hear those extra details about Barbara. I'm actually in the process of trying to track down Petzold's back catalog for my next running feature I hope to start up in the new year.

      Re: Amour, I think part of me was also disappointed that there wasn't more of Isabelle Huppert in it.

      Re: Roeg - Walkabout remains my favorite of his. I have a feeling you might not agree, but I'm interested in your take on it.

      Re: Senna - I actually started watching F1 independently of Senna, and totally by fluke. Back in the mid 90's when I was in college (never finished), I used to watch the Sunday night movie on TV instead of studying, and immediately following that was the week's F1 race (back then it used to be tape delayed and broadcast close to midnight). Anyhow, I would start my homework, and leave the TV on in the background; little by little I began paying attention, remembering names and things, and soon enough I was actively watching.


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    3. @Bonjour Tristesse: That's cool you have seen so many I'm watching, I appreciate the feedback.

      Glad you found the Barbara extra detail useful. I should really have put that stuff in my mini-review, just was a little lazy.

      I think I may have underrated that Martino giallo, I'm going to change my rating.

      That's interesting, two polar opposite opinions on Walkabout, David below hated it, you love it. I already have it on my watchlist. I guess as we talked about Roeg is a director that does that.

      I had a feeling you liked motor sports, as I remember you recently reviewed that biking documentary Closer to the Edge. I probably have a similar history of Sunday night sports, watching late night final round golf over in Europe, when broadcast in afternoon in States, back when Tiger was in his prime. I didn't do my homework then, but I did get to bed too late!

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  11. The Man Who Fell To Earth - Never seen the film,but I have a few words to say about Roeg and Bowie.I loved Roeg's Don't Look Now and hated his Walkabout,my first impression about Bowie was his performance in Oshima's Merry Xmas,Mr Lawrence,liked it a lot.

    Ozu,I suggest you watch something else first,like Floating Weeds(color version) or Late Autumn.

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    1. @David: I enjoyed Don't Look Now as well.

      You should give The Man Who Fell To Earth a try, it's in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

      I'm not so excited about watching Walkabout, now you say you hated it! Never heard of Oshima's Merry Xmas,Mr Lawrence, I'll check the trailer, and decide from that if it's for me.

      Floating Weeds I intend to watch in December.

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  12. I have neve been to England, so I'm envious. The Faber books on film are great...I've read Gilliam on Gilliam, Scorsese on Scorsese, and Lynch on Lynch (as well as most of Schrader on Schrader). You learn so much from simple interviews.

    About the movies I've seen on your list: I had similar feelings about Argo. Very competent, but nothing special. I also enjoyed Beasts...it was sort of like watching primal story telling (not saying the movie was primitive, but mythic).

    I wish I could share your feelings on The Master. Lots of skill on display there, but not formed enough for me. I kept feeling like PTA was lost in his own story and didn't know how to shape it.

    The Maltese Falcon is an old favorite. I just saw Tokyo Story for the first time this year, and liked it.

    Leave Her to Heaven has at least one great scene (and I can't say it because it's a spoiler). Otherwise, kind of dull.

    Nice work. Do you mind if I lift this idea of monthly wrap ups from you?

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  13. @Dusty McGowan: I love that Faber series, and read several too: Scorsese, Tim Burton, Douglas Sirk, Lars von Trier, Kieslowski, and Lynch-my favorite. The only problem is that sometimes can be a bit out of date, I browsed through Cronenberg on Cronenberg book, and the most recent movie it mentions is Crash from the mid 90s. Doesn't look like there is a revised edition available.

    Good point about Beasts of The Southern Wind. I've read on a friend's blog, that this years batch of new cinema releases are very dividing, Beasts, Holy Motors, The Master, Amour, Silver Lining Playbook, all are definitely that. At least almost everyone enjoyed Skyfall !

    Feel free to lift the monthly wrap. It's not my idea, I saw it on other blogs.

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  14. Still haven't seen Ruby Sparks...was really looking forward to seeing it. Shame it didn't quite work out for you.

    Also, looking forward to seeing Argo and Silver Linings.

    One film I saw for the first time this month was Mike Leigh's Another Year which I thought was a beautiful film with some stunning performances.

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    1. @Dan: Several bloggers, Nostra from myfilmreviews, and Andina from inspired ground, both loved Ruby Sparks. So if you want a balanced verdict, check their reviews too. I tend to find faults with every film ( :

      I know a blogger who thinks Another Year (2010) could have included a few more scenes of Tom & Gerri struggling to preserve affection, or hints at past wounds, which Amour (2012) managed. But Mike Leigh's film still features in 20th spot on my 100 favorite films list, indeed stunning performances, and I can't wait for his next film.

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