Viewing recap for April

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Rewatch. My favorite film, seen at cinema for the first time in 70 mm. It was great to see it all up there and marvel at all the details.
The second half on the trip to Jupiter is certainly more involving due to the pacing. The beginning is a bit slow to get going. I wish the ape learning to use bones as weapons was handled in just as subtle a way as the ending. During the Dawn of Man sequence, we see a cut to an animal falling down, when the ape is hitting the bones, and that wasn't really necessary. We could think that ourselves without being told. I also felt the soundtrack is a bit pretentious in places, but I still love the music choices, and is still the best film I've ever seen!
Rating 9.8

Run Lola Run (1998)
Rewatch. Still as fresh and exhilarating as when I first saw it. Highly stylized with bits of animation, pulsating soundtrack, and inventive editing.
Director Tom Tykwer takes his bag of visual tricks to the limit. I wouldn't watch it often, but for me among the best contemporary German films.
Rating 8.5

Bullitt (1968)
Rewatch. I love the score in the opening. Famous for Steve McQueen's performance as a renegade cop, and the impressive car chase in the streets of San Francisco.
A pretty good crime drama, but I wouldn't call it a masterpiece.
Rating 7.4

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Rating 8.5
Read full review here

A Touch of Sin (2013)
The animal torture is excruciating to watch, killing a duck, and whipping a horse, but does serve a purpose as a warning not to harm animals. Apart from that, the multiple stories were interesting, about jealousy, corruption, and so.
Of the four stories, the first one is the most memorable. The second one is the least interesting,
about random acts of violence. The third was quite captivating about infidelity, and for some reason
I empathized with the young woman, even though she is breaking up a marriage, however I didn’t
care for the direction that story takes.
The fourth and final part is about a trip a young man goes on.
To me, the film overall warns about greed and abuse of power, the danger of weapons, not loving a
child enough, and how aids spreads through prostitution. These are things we all know already, yet
are important reminders. The final quote is, “do you understand your sin”, and maybe it’s about
how characters are all sinners.
Rating 7.8

Life of Brian (1979)
Rewatch. Famous for the iconic closing scene with the song Always Look on The Bright Side of Life. For me the film wasn't laugh-at-loud funny, a couple of scenes amused me, especially the names of the Romans and the guards not being able to stop laughing at biggus dickus and so on.
According to Rev Richard Burridge, who was interviewed: The film takes the mickey out of organized religion, and the way people follow people blindly. Judea at the time was full of pretend messiahs. “I should know lord, I follow many of them” is one of Cleese’s lines. Opens up for a discussion of why was Jesus different from the Brians and others.
Rating 8.0

The Guard (2011)
The way they talk reminded me of Pulp Fiction, with all the off topic discussions. Criminals talking about philosophy, books, music, and so on. It somehow made the characters more rounded.
The best thing about it is the dialogue (dark humor)
The worst thing about it is the dialogue (lots of profanity)
From the style of the film, you can tell director John Michael McDonagh is the brother of Martin McDonagh-who made In Bruges (2008).
Rating 7.9

Everybody Else (aka Alle Anderen) (2009)
German drama. Looks at a relationship between a couple on holiday told in a realistic way, with the audience as a fly on the wall in the room. The story depicts their daily life and little discussions and disagreements. I enjoyed just listening to the conversations, because it wasn't dumbed down but a film made for adults. Won't appeal to everyone, though.
Deals with stuff like: how much should you tell your partner, where do you draw the line in terms of honesty, how well do you know them, are you the right one for them without changing your ways, how to deal with neighbours, doing something your partner wants such as going to the disco when you're not in the mood. How far should you go with criticizing your partner? Does show the complexities of a relationship quite well, although thematically it's a bit scatterbrained.
The abrupt ending is frustrating, and there are many unresolved loose ends. Perhaps the director wants us to imagine how the story will continue. Perhaps the title is a clue to the main theme?
Rating 7.6

The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008)
German drama. Knew nothing about the real life story. You can admire the cause the group are fighting for, but the methods they use are increasingly brutal, so the line between justice and criminality becomes blurred.
Rating 7.5

Kill Your Darlings (2013)
The title, I see it both as sacrificing certain things in your real life to concentrate on art, and editing out stuff in the creative writing. Probably the latter is the real meaning of the phrase.
Intriguing at first, but the story about the beat generation poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs doesn’t maintain my interest. The characters were having more fun than I was. Has a few inspired moments, but is not a great movie.
Favorite quote, from opening: “Some things, once you’ve loved them, become yours forever. And if you try to let them go, they only circle back, and return to you. They become part of who you are, or they destroy you.”
Rating 6.5

Jules and Jim (1962)
French drama directed by Fran├žois Truffaut. About two best male friends, and Catharine, who are all indecisive in what relationships they want. The opening 15 min is full of energy and charm, and was my favorite part of the movie. The dialogue is quite fast-paced. The story did seem to lack character development, as I got the point after 30 minutes, and the rest was just repeating itself.
The film has been described as "a plea for free and passionate love, the impossible quest for harmonious love"
Favorite quote: "I don't want to be understood!"
Rating 7.3

Shallow Grave (1994)
Danny Boyle's directorial debut. Could be labelled a neo noir.
Well-written dialogue. Seldom has a round of interviews looking for a new flat mate been so entertaining to watch.
It isn't perfect, the three friends are a bit too quick assessing the body as dead, before even checking the pulse. Also, there are numerous hints about the bad guys, so it's a bit predictable once the baddies show up. Despite these minor flaws, I was entertained.
Another oddity is how the friends naively shout about the crimes in the flat, it isn't relevant in the film, but I was wondering if the neighbors could have heard their loud voices?
Goes in a very gruesome direction, so not for everyone. You have been warned!
The story questions if you can be happy, if it's obtained in an immoral way.
Rating 7.8

Pusher (1996)
Rewatch. Low budget debut from Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. Like watching PT Anderson’s The Master, the characters are mostly unlikeable, yet I can’t look away. A lot of vile and desperate behavior, yet very powerful.
The dogme 95 movement is famous for its handheld cameras and so on, but Pusher was actually one of the earliest examples of that style of filmmaking.
Rating 7.7

Pusher 2 (2004)
The Ferrari scene is pretty cool, if somewhat contrived. Focuses on Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) who was a supporting character in the first film. A fine central performance by Mikkelsen, his character attempts to gain respect from his crime boss father, while also learning about being a dad.
Like the original, we are in the seedy underworld of Copenhagen. The filmmaking is pretty much the same style.
Rating 7.5

Pusher 3 (2005)
Less tension at first, but it does slowly build. Another supporting character from the first movie, Milo (Zlatko Buric) takes the lead role. More bloody than the other two films. The trilogy as a whole, I feel each film is of roughly the same quality.
Rating 7.5

Fear X (2003)
Held my interest with the atmosphere and central performance by John Turturro. You can tell Nicolas Winding Refn put a lot of love into each frame, and it really is a pity this was a flop, because there is a lot to like. Granted it doesn't all add up at the end, but I was captivated.
If I had to name a movie people hate, that I enjoyed, this is high on the list. Visually it reminded me of the director's other films, with lots of red in the background. That said, there's hardly any violence, so it's an atypical outing from Nicolas Winding Refn.
Rating 7.6

Seen anything great this month you want to recommend? Have you watched any of the above films? Agree or disagree? As always, comments are welcome


  1. You saw 2001 in a 70mm print? Fucking awesome. I would do anything to see that in a 70mm presentation.

    I'm glad you enjoyed those Refn films though Fear X is my least favorite of the bunch.

    1. @thevoid99: Indeed, it was a packed audience too, so Kubrick can still bring in the masses.
      I know Fear X has a bad reputation, and was also a box office flop. For me it’s underrated, I enjoyed every minute of it.

  2. Oh my!! I didn't realize the McDonaugh brothers made The Guard and In Bruges until your comment and this post, Chris! Glad we both like The Guard, I might review that at some point. Oh I LOVE Run Lola Run, I actually made a trailer for a film class a while ago and I chose that movie, been a while since I saw it but I really like it.

    Don't hate me but I have yet to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, I will at some point though, I know that it's a must-see for movie lovers :D

    1. @Ruth: Yep, I thought I recognized the surname of the director of The Guard from somewhere! So googled him, and found out his brother is a director too. It’s a fun comedy.
      Run Lola Run is so visually unique, I can imagine a comic book version of the story. Glad you are a fan also.
      I hope you have an opportunity to see 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen at some point.

    2. There are quite a few filmmaker brothers aren't they? Now that'd make a fun blog list ;-)

      If they ever re-release 2001: A Space Odyssey I'd definitely see it!

    3. @Ruth: I'll await your filmmaking brothers post! Off the top of my head, there's the Marx brothers, and Tony Scott/Ridley Scott.

  3. Very interesting selection as always Chris! Really want to see that Pusher trilogy!

    1. @Pete Turner: Thank you! Go for the original Pusher trilogy by Nicolas Winding Refn. The 2012 Pusher remake directed by Luis Prieto got mixed reviews.

  4. Ugghhh Im uber jealous that you saw 2001 in theaters, but in 70mm. I havent seen a movie in that format since ..well ever. Very cool Chris. Very cool. I agree with you about the first moments of Jules and Jim being good but not the later part. Will have to rewatch that one again. Never saw any of the Pusher films but may seek em out later. Great list

    1. @The Vern: Was quite something, though just seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey on any big screen would be great.
      The Pusher trilogy is worth it, they are quite dark movies from the seedy underworld, so not for everyone.

  5. I am jealous you got to see 2001 in 70 mm. That's the best film you can see on the big screen and in the best format you can find. You are one lucky man.
    Looks like you had a great month too, not just me. You liked most of your films and have them high marks, something I noticed you don't do that easily. Life of Brian is hilarious.

    1. @Cristi B: Indeed, I have been wanting to watch it in cinema for years, great to see 2001 in the format it was intended to be shown in! Gladiator is another that is just better seen on big screen. I should do a post on all the epics I want to eventually see at cinema!
      Yes, I’m quite critical with my reviews, this month the good films outweighed the not-so-good ones, so that was nice. Glad you liked Life of Brian too.

  6. I want to see Kill Your Darlings just to see Dane Dehaan. I think it's a breakthrough for him getting a villain role in TAS 2, but something's missing in the movie. I'd like to see Life of Brian, seems great.

    1. @Andina: Kill Your Darlings is well-acted, just the characters were having more fun than I was, so it's a 3/5 rating from me. Dane DeHaan is a good-looking fellow so can understand your interest :) Life of Brian is pretty funny, if you like Monty Python humor.

  7. I've only seen about half of these. Seeing 2001 in the theater must have been something. I'm still glad I had read the book before ever seeing the film, though. I can't imagine being able to truly understand what was going on in the film if I hadn't.

    1. @Chip Lary: I had to take the opportunity, never know if I'll have another chance to see 2001 at cinema! I read the book afterwards, definitely prefer the movie. I guess I’m different that I don’t want the things explained, I prefer not to fully understand it, if that makes sense. So I've somehow blocked out the book from my memory :)

  8. I remember commenting on your last monthly recap post but for some reason it feels like I am commenting here after a long time. It's weird! :)

    Not a big fan of 2001 but everyone I know who has seen it on big screen is impressed with it. I will definitely give it a try if I get a chance.

    Bullitt: I am in love with streets of San Francisco and those chases in Bullitt have definitely played a part in that.

    Life of Brian: One of the films I have laughed loudest and hardest. Stoning scene literally knocked me off my chair. I know it's stupid but that's what they are mocking about it. And that interview is one of the best videos I have seen in long time. I love it when Palin asks both religious men to think logically and then goes something like "I am sorry! I am sorry I am asking you to think logically and you are clearly incapable of doing that" Solid Gold!

    Jules and Jim: I have only seen a couple but Trauffaut usually leaves me a bit cold. I agree with you that after 30 minutes it was film repeating itself and I never understood why either of the men kept going back at her and then that ending comes out of nowhere.

    I would love to see Pusher trilogy and A Touch of Sin. I have heard good things about them. Someday!

    1. @SDG:
      2001: is impressive on big screen

      Bullitt: I think you said you lived in San Fr before you moved back, so can understand why the movie is special to you. It’s a great city for a car chase. Have you seen Peter Bogdanovich’s What's Up, Doc? (1972)? Also has a great chase in streets of San Francisco:

      Life of Brian: Indeed, the stoning was funny, and pretty controversial when you think about it. Definitely waaaaay different to The Stoning of Soraya M (2008)! I really need to check debate between pythons and the priests from 70s, I only linked to a clip where they discuss the debate years later.

      Jules and Jim: Yeah, wasn’t really enough story there for 105 minute movie, it just sort of….stagnates.

      Hope you get to see Pusher Trilogy, and Touch of Sin. Will look out for your reviews.

  9. Niiiiice, so cool that you were able to experience 2001 in 70mm. I was lucky enough to do that last year and it blew me away all over again. Quite possibly the best film I have ever seen as well.

    I've got Run Lola Run high in my queue. Can't wait to give that a watch.

    Quite an interesting selection you had last month. Some of them are ones I have been meaning to see for ages (Shallow Grave, Pusher 2&3, etc). Good stuff.

    1. Eric @ The Warning Sign: I remember your review for 2001 in 70mm was very enthusiastic, so that played a part in persuading me it was something I needed to go see.
      Shallow Grave, Pusher trilogy and Run Lola Run, hope you like them too!

  10. Replies
    1. @Lights Camera Reaction: I saw my favorite film in the cinema, so yes, I had a good month :)

  11. Oh, I really need to rewatch Run Lola Run. I loved it when I first saw it, but it's been ages.

    Glad you liked The Guard so much. I can't wait for John Michael McDonagh's Calvary with Brendan Gleeson.

    1. @Josh: Run Lola Run is a visual feast, and so full of energy, I still love it on rewatch. The Guard surprised me how good it is. Calvary is on my radar now, thanks.


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