Monthly recap: Watched in September

As always, my ratings are what I think the films should be rated on IMDb. I intend to share lots of horror mini-reviews during October, so I hope you stop by for those posts. Anyway, let's look back on September viewing

Blue Jasmine (2013)
While the theme of infidelity is not exactly new in a Woody Allen film, he makes the story somehow fresh again, and the performance by Cate Blanchett is probably the best I’ve seen all year. There are more unlikeable than likeable characters, but the film stayed with me after the credits had rolled.
Rating 7.7

Mud (2012)
Overlong, yet fairly involving coming-of-age drama. I liked it, and some good performances. Story does a good job of making the characters likeable. The weakest part of the story was the teenage boy’s older girlfriend.
Favorite quote: “You’re a good man Elis, you meet a girl half as good, you’ll be alright”
Rating 7.8

Trance (2013)
Danny Boyle’s latest. You can’t trust the world you’re in, it should really be watched as a thriller/noir. Trance messes with your head, as much as it messes with its protagonist's head. There are unexplained things I’m still confused by. Thanks in part to cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, the film looks really beautiful, almost Blade Runner-esque, in terms of background colors. For me, the story was quite entertaining, yet a bit implausible.
I found it a little difficult to believe that both Vincent Cassel and James McAvoy both would be obsessed with Rosario Dawson’s character.
I liked the soundtrack quite a lot.
Favorite quote: “We keep secrets from lots of people, but most of all we keep them from ourselves, and we call that forgetting”
Rating 7.0

Disconnect (2012)
I liked it, despite it feeling like an extended tv-episode. About internet bank fraud, internet identity pranks. To be honest it’s mainly pessimistic about the internet.
The second hour isn’t as captivating, but overall well worth your time, because the themes are so contemporary.
Favorite quote: “Ben’s at that age, huh. When you have to pull every word out of him. He’s 15”
Rating 7.5

500 Days of Summer (2009)
A cute depiction of falling in love, and struggling to define the relationship. Very quirky and stylized, with a nice soundtrack. I liked all the little references to music and movies. My favorite scene is when they go to the karaoke bar.
Favorite quote: “I just don’t feel comfortable being anyone’s girlfriend, I actually don’t feel comfortable being anyone’s anything, you know”
Rating 7.7

Gone Baby Gone (2007)
It’s an ugly subject matter, and I didn’t like the characters in Gone Baby Gone, but it’s a well-told story, with twists and turns, and the ending does make you think. It sort of reminded me of tv-show The Wire, so it was no surprise for me to read that Lehane wrote several episodes for that show. My favorite part of the film is the intro voice-over. Even though I didn’t love Gone Baby Gone, I can still appreciate that it’s a good first feature. I just prefer The Town (2010), of the films Ben Affleck directed.
Apparently, the novel by Dennis Lehane is Ben Affleck’s favorite, Lehane also wrote Mystic River and Shutter Island.
Favorite quote: “I always believed it was the things you don’t choose, that make you who you are. Your city, your neighborhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something they had accomplished”
“He lied to me. I can’t think of one reason bigger enough for him to lie, that’s small enough not to matter”
Rating 7.4

Oldboy (2003)
By the guy who directed Stoker, Chan-wook Park. A man is imprisoned in a room and doesn’t know why.
Unique movie, with some nice editing tricks. Famous for the scene when he eats an octopus. The main character is easy to root for, because he has been wronged, but he’s not someone I can actually say I liked.
I could have done without the tooth scene, and the tongue scene. A good film, but maybe because of the torture, I didn’t love the film as others have.
It was quite a heavy watch, I needed to take a few breaks, so it took me half a day to finish it. What I liked most was the editing and visuals.
Rating 7.5

The Night of The Hunter (1955)
The use of shadows and lighting is extraordinary. That singing by Robert Mitchum is pretty creepy. Good story, and probably the best film I saw this month.
Rating 8.0

Paris, Texas (1984)
Winner of the Palme d’Or. For me, the film has a strong beginning, surprisingly weak middle section, and strong ending.
I really liked the first 25 minutes (which might have made a great short film?), but once Travis started talking it lost a bit of magic for me. During the middle section of the movie I was actually bored. Once the two go on a road trip towards the end, it picked up again. The walkie-talkies thing was cute.
Spoiler: The long monologue near the end is powerful, but I had a tough time believing that it took two visits for her to recognize his voice in the booth? Maybe the first visit she knew it was Travis, and was simply blocking him out? I also struggled to imagine the young woman falling for a dull Harry Dean Stanton. The end scene feels unresolved, why does he go off without them?
Favorite quote: “I wanted to see him so bad that I didn’t even dare imagine him anymore. Anne kept sending me pictures of him until I asked her to stop. I couldn’t stand the pain of seeing him grow up and missing it. (…) I didn’t have what I knew he needed”
Rating 7.5

Stalag 17 (1953)
Directed by Billy Wilder. What I would call a “hang out movie”. It has a lot of snappy, entertaining dialogue. Set during WW2, we are a fly-on-the-wall in a Prisoner of war camp.
I liked it, especially the first hour, when the characters and setting are introduced.
Rating 7.4

Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
Entertaining war actioner, about a team that is recruited to steal gold behind enemy lines. Surprised by the title, since the soldiers are not what you would call war heroes, but have selfish motivations.
Stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, in fact many of the same actors from The Dirty Dozen (1967).
Favorite quote: “Do me a favor, don’t call me Barbara, my name’s Babra!”
Rating 7.6

Rififi (1955)
An influential film noir. It wouldn’t go on my top 10 film noir list (probably top 15). The planning of and execution of the heist was the best thing about it. The end scene when he drives around, out of control, also stayed with me.
Rating 7.5

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
A “Hitchcockian” thriller/noir/western, with a solid cast. A man (Spencer Tracy) arrives in a small town in the middle of nowhere, the community is secretive, and don't welcome outsiders.
The scenes that stuck with me: when he makes a bomb using oil from the car, only with one arm. Also the bar brawl between Spencer Tracy and Ernst Borgnine.
Favorite quote: “I believe a man is as big as what he’s seeking. Why would a man like you be looking for a lousy jap farmer. Maybe I’m not so big? Yes, you are, I believe a man is as big as what will make him mad, nobody around here seems big enough to get you mad”
Rating 7.7

Divorce Italian Style (1961)
I guess I didn’t get the humor of this Italian comedy. It was creepy rather than funny, that these older guys were chasing girls half their age.
The husband imagines his wife’s death in various dream sequences, those scenes are visually quite imaginative. Also, good performance by Marcello Mastroianni.
Rating 7.3

Purple Noon (1960)
Based on the book The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955) by Patricia Highsmith, a decent adaptation. Personally I thought Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) was a bit more entertaining and captivating.
There are differences, as 3guys1movie pointed out, Marge is much more trusting of Tom in Purple Noon. In the 1999 film Marge suspects Tom almost immediately.
Alain Delon’s performance as Tom Ripley is very assured, yet also quite cold, so maybe that’s why I prefer Matt Damon in that role.
Rating 7.0

The Fury (1978)
Brian de Palma’s follow-up to Carrie (1976). The Fury is decent, but overlong. The psychic elements I couldn’t take seriously(I suppose it was sci-fi?)
But it has a few good scenes, the intro by the beach, a chase scene in the city involving Kirk Douglas in disguise, and also a few “psychic” scenes: speeding up an amusement ride, reading minds, etc. The first half of the film is stronger than the last half.
The theme is about learning to harness your talent, and not let others take advantage of and corrupt your special abilities. Using your power for good rather than evil. With all the crazy stuff happening feels more like Cronenberg movie than de Palma movie.
Rating 6.5

Seen anything great this month? Have you watched any of the above films? Agree or disagree?

My Top 5

1.) The Night of The Hunter (2013) (8.0)
2.) Mud (2012) (7.8)
3.) Blue Jasmine (2013) (7.7)
4.) 500 Days of Summer (2009) (7.7)
5.) Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) (7.7)

6.) Kelly’s Heroes (1970) (7.7)
7.) Paris, Texas (1984) (7.5)
8.) Disconnect (2012) (7.5)
9.) Oldboy (2003) (7.5)
10.) Rififi (1955) (7.5)
11.) Gone Baby Gone (2007) (7.4)
12.) Stalag 17 (1954) (7.4)

2013 tracks I'm listening to

Dance Apocalyptic - Janelle Monáe

(Really liked this track, thanks Cristi B for the recommendation. If you love Bond theme tunes, also check out Look Into My Eyes)

New Town Velocity - Johnny Marr

(Solo record from the guitarist of The Smiths. An underwhelming album, but love the single)

The Way Out - Porcelain Raft

(Porcelain Raft usually have 1-2 tracks I like on each new album)

Your Life Is A Lie – MGMT

(From MGMT's self-titled third album. Didn't love the record, this was the stand-out track)

Ready To Start (Arcade Fire cover) - Tears for Fears

(Just a superb cover, for me an improvement on the original)

Romanticise - Chela

(As someone wrote on youtube, a happiifyingg tuneeee!)

Afraid of the Dark - Ejecta

(The second half of the song is highly addictive. Ejecta's debut album, Dominae, is out in November.)

Heard any of these albums yet? Which music are you listening to at the moment? As always, share your opinions in the comments

My most Anticipated Films of Autumn and Winter 2013-14

Not going to include release dates, because differs, depending on where you are in the world

Enough Said (2013) (dir: Nicole Holofcener)

(I like her movies, especially 2001's Lovely & Amazing and 2010s Please Give)

Nebraska (2013) (dir: Alexander Payne)

(The trailer doesn't have me that excited, but you never know. Since Nebraska is a road movie, I hope that means it will be a sister film to Sideways and About Schmidt, both of which are in my top 100)

Gravity (2013) (dir: Alfonso Cuarón)

(A lot of positive buzz from film festivals. Looks like a film that is meant to be watched on the big screen.)

The Spectacular Now (2013) (dir: James Ponsoldt)

(The enthusiastic word of mouth in the blogosphere has me curious. Maybe this year's Perks of Being A Wallflower?)

Her (2013) (dir: Spike Jonze)

(Spike Jonze's work is so oddball and original. You just don't know what to expect.)

Ender's Game (2013) (dir: Gavin Hood)

(This year, I read the novel from the 80s, so interested to see how the story translates to film)

12 Years A Slave (2013) (dir: Steve McQueen)

(It seems Steve McQueen can do no wrong of late, Hunger (2008) and Shame (2012) are both brutal and uncomprimising. Perhaps Michael Fassbender will finally be recognized by the Academy, word is his role is similar to Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List)

Prisoners (2013) (dir: Denis Villeneuve)

(Villeneuve's last film Incendies (2010) was nominated for foreign language oscar, a brutal watch, not because story contains lots of violence, but disturbing emotionally. I had a strong reaction to Incendies, and I've only heard good things about his latest.)

Philomena (2013) (dir: Stephen Frears)

(I don't want to watch brutal movies every time I go to the cinema, so this probably is a bit lighter, with some humour and witty dialogue. The chemistry between Steve Coogan and Judi Dench looks good in the trailer)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) (dir: Peter Jackson)

(I saw the first Hobbit film in cinema last December, and will do the same again for part 2. Watching it on tv just doesn't work for me)

A Long Way Down (2014) (dir: Pascal Chaumeil)

(The latest adaptation of a novel by Nick Hornby. It could be hit or miss)

Fruitvale Station (2013) (dir: Ryan Coogler)

(Won a few awards at film festivals, and maybe a director to look out for in the future)

August: Osage County (2013) (dir: John Wells)

(Great emsemble cast, and Meryl Streep looks on top form judging from the trailer. Based on a play, from the writer of Killer Joe. I must say it looks a hell of a lot different to Friedkin's film.)

Enemy (2013) (dir: Denis Villeneuve)

(The story is about a man who seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie. Jake Gyllenhaal teams up with director Denis Villeneuve, they also worked together on 2013's Prisoners.)

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) (Abdellatif Kechiche)

(Winner of the Palme d'Or at this years Cannes Film Festival. Hopefully the film lives up to the hype. So far most of the talk has been about the actresses complaining about working conditions on the set. Here's hoping none of them had a 'Christian Bale meltdown' during the production.)

The Past (2013) (dir: Asghar Farhadi)

(From the director of A Separation (2011), which impressed me, and won the foreign language oscar)

Noah (2014) (dir: Darren Aronofsky)

(I don't recall ever seeing a bad movie from Aronofsky. Not sure if this is a blockbuster. Anticipating the trailer)

Nymphomaniac (2013) (dir: Lars von Trier)

(Lars von Trier's films and press conferences are controversial, yet he continues to have an impact. His style is not for everyone, and tends to divide audiences. There are those who claim he shocks just for the sake of shocking, and that his storytelling manipulates the audience. I'm one of those who thinks there is substance to be found in his films)

Labor Day (2013) (dir: Jason Reitman)

(As with Aronofsky, Jason Reitman is another who directs good movies almost every single time...)

Other new films I want to see:
Compliance (2012)
Liberal Arts (2012)
John Dies at the End (2012)
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Beyond the Hills (2012)
The Comedy (2012) (dir: Rick Alverson)
Bullhead (2011)
Mer eller mindre mann (2012)
The Grandmaster (2013)
The East (2013)
The Worlds End (2013)
The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)
Like Someone in Love (2012)
Disconnect (2012)
The Kings of Summer (2013)
The Bling Ring (2013)
Blue Jasmine (2013)
Prince Avalanche (2013)
Upstream Color (2013)
Thursday Through Sunday (2012)
Frances Ha (2012)
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
The Counselor (2013)
Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Serena (2013)
Night Moves (2013)
Under The Skin (2013)
Snowpiercer (2013)
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)

West of Memphis (2012)
The Invisible War (2012)
The Queen of Versailles (2012)
Central Park Five (2012)
The Act of Killing (2012)
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)
Desert Runners (2013)
Mistaken for Strangers (2013)
Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)
Blackfish (2013)
Liv & Ingmar (2012)
Michael H - Profession: Director (2013)

For my complete watchlist, including those films without a release date go here

Readers, thoughts on the above selections? Did I miss anything? Which are your most anticipated films of 2013-14?

Mini-reviews of 2013 albums (2 of 2)

Seasons of Your Day by Mazzy Star (September 24)
(It’s been 17 years since their last album, and nothing has really changed about her vocal. If you liked the band’s earlier work, this new collection will probably appeal to you. For a limited time, you can listen to the LP at NPR First Listen)
Favorite tracks:
In The Kingdom
Common Burn
Lay Myself Down
4 out of 5

AM by Arctic Monkeys (September 10)
(I usually prefer Alex Turner's acoustic work, but I'm slowing getting into his rock albums.)
Favorite tracks:
Do I Wanna Know?
Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Knee Socks
3.5 out of 5

Simon Killer soundtrack by Various Artists
(I read someone call it the soundtrack of the year. It isn’t out on disc, but after that statement I had to give the tracks I could find a listen. Many of the tracks didn’t live up to that hype. Below selections are my favorites)
It Takes a Muscle to Fall in Love - Spectral Display
Dance Yrself Clean - LCD Soundsystem
Beat And The Pulse - Austra
3 out of 5

Loud City Song by Julia Holter (August 20)
(I don’t love all the album, but she managed to catch my attention on several tracks.)
Hello Stranger
This is a True Heart
Maxim’s 1
3.5 out of 5

Dynamics by Holy Ghost! (September 3)
(Sophomore album by Brooklyn electro-pop duo Holy Ghost! Solid record, yet not quite as catchy or memorable as their 2011 self-titled record.)
The stand-outs for me are: It Must Be The Weather,
Okay, Dumb disco Ideas, Bridge & Tunnel, Don’t Look Down, Cheap Shots
3.5 out of 5

Heard any of these new albums yet? Agree or disagree? Share your opinions in the comments.

Monthly links from the blogosphere: September

Bonjour Tristesse's coverage of 2013 Venice International Film Festival

Courtney Anticipating Toronto International Film Fest 2013

Shala Thomas, Alex Ramon and Ryan McNeil were in Toronto

Alex Withrow's Top 20 Road Movies, and Top 10 Directors Who Released Two Great Films in One Year

Steven's Auteurs piece on Woody Allen's recent films

Dan Heaton's Women in 2013 Marathon: Miss Representation, and Desert Island Films guest post

Michaël Parent's Recommended Readings: The Best Film You’ve Never Seen by Robert K. Elder

Pete Turner's Short Story Published at Starburst Magazine: Living for the Weekend

Harrison Ford angrily points at stuff

Channing Tatum's 45-Second Handshake

Bradley Cooper's EMOTIONAL Moment.

Robert De Niro cries on Katie Couric Talk Show

SDG on City Lights or How Chaplin made me Cry!

Keith on Unknown Movies You Wish Others Would See

Ylvis - The Fox has been called by some people "the next Gangnam Style". Probably the most annoying viral song of 2013. What do you think?

Jessica loved the documentary Stories We Tell (2012)

Thomas4cinema's Best films of the last two years

Sati reviews The Hunt (2012), and Mud (2012)

Eric reviews All the President’s Men [1976]

Shane at filmactually enjoyed The Purple Rose Of Cairo (1985)

Cristi B and Andina reviewed The Bling Ring (2013)

Chip's List of Changes Made to the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 2013 Edition

Josh's First Favorite Films of Each Year

Nostra continues 5 Obstructions blogathon

Dan on Top 10 Films To Have Driven People To Murder. Also check Top 10 Real-Life Crimes Inspired by Movies and TV

Steph loved Stoker (2013)

Jaina finally watched some decent horror movies

Ruth and 3guys1movie reviewed Warm Bodies (2013)

Keith joined letterboxd

Lisa Thatcher and I had a little e-mail discussion about boycotting artists. Here's an entertaining thread I stumbled upon of unpopular opinions.

Chris' DEBUTS BLOGATHON WRAP UP. If you enjoyed that, check out's 50 Best First Films Ever Made

Facts That Will Make You Want To Travel


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