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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
QT goes through phases. For a while, he had an obsession with crime movies, then it was grindhouse movies, and now it's alt-historical movies. Just give him time and he'll move onto ancient Mediterranean fresco movies or whatever.


I'd be down for sci-fi.


Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:05 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
MGamesCook wrote:
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If I could pinpoint what drives Vexer's taste in movies, I think it would be that he enjoys unpretentious movies. Films that don't have delusions of grandeur, don't pretend to be anything greater than what they are, don't stand up and say "Look at me! I'm important! I'm Award-worthy! I'm cool!" He looks at movies from a fundamentally different perspective I suppose. He'll champion movies he feels are undervalued.


So you do understand...


Yeah, I do. Doesn't mean I agree with it; I was just playing devil's advocate.

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Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:40 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)

I haven't disliked a character as much as the pregnant girl in this in quite a while. Over all, the naturalistic approach (of which I normally don't care for much) helps lend great tension and dread to the film. At times it is so matter-of-fact it's almost difficult to watch, like when Bebe is describing the procedure step by step and then we have to wait for that part. Very good performances all around, with a fantastic, haunting final shot. 8.5/10


Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:42 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Pumpkinhead (1988)

Better than average horror film. Notable, at least to me, that the object of fear actually is on camera a significant amount of time. Some of the scenes seemed to copy those from Aliens in a strange way. 7/10

The Awakening (2011)

Fine setting for a ghost story and, I thought, an outstanding performance by the lead. I felt like there was too much time spent wrapping up the story. It's not long, just seemed the drag at the end some. This one had a somewhat reverse to the element from another popular ghost movie. It sounds silly, but due to a hearing impediment I rely quite a bit on lip movement to pick up dialog and the British accents caused me to miss much. Plenty spooky for me. 7/10

The Croods (2013)

Kind of a cartoon version of One Million Years B.C. except that a family of non-progressive cavemen integrate with an individual that is more advanced rather than the other way around. Nothing very memorable, new, or lasting about the story. It was very funny and highly entertaining for the whole family. For that I'll give it 8/10.


Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:38 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)

I haven't disliked a character as much as the pregnant girl in this in quite a while. Over all, the naturalistic approach (of which I normally don't care for much) helps lend great tension and dread to the film. At times it is so matter-of-fact it's almost difficult to watch, like when Bebe is describing the procedure step by step and then we have to wait for that part. Very good performances all around, with a fantastic, haunting final shot. 8.5/10


I really didn't like this film. It didn't click with me at all.

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Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:24 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Children of the Corn

I wanted to watch a dopey horror movie, so I put this on. It's a pretty generic story; most of the best elements of Stephen King's short story are watered down. A couple traveling through Nebraska stumbles into a town where the children have murdered all the adults and worship a god named He Who Walks Behind The Rows. It's kind of hokey and not scary at all, but then I realized the film was mostly a metaphor critical of the Religious Right in Reagan's America (the film was made in 1984). So if you look at it from that perspective, it's OK.

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Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:38 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
A Serious Man (2009)

Finally got around to watching this, and it was pretty much what I expected, namely a dark family drama with a number of tragi-comedic elements. It's quite an impressive film, and clearly one that lies well inside the Coen's comfort zone of social alienation, mid-life crisis, various inflictions, and a commentary on the Jewish community to boot.

It's hardly groundbreaking stuff in those regards, but it's still done very well, and with sly humour proliferating throughout.

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Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:06 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
NotHughGrant wrote:
A Serious Man (2009)

Finally got around to watching this, and it was pretty much what I expected, namely a dark family drama with a number of tragi-comedic elements. It's quite an impressive film, and clearly one that lies well inside the Coen's comfort zone of social alienation, mid-life crisis, various inflictions, and a commentary on the Jewish community to boot.

It's hardly groundbreaking stuff in those regards, but it's still done very well, and with sly humour proliferating throughout.


Bit of a weak review that, so I will expand - Firstly, there is a real cruelty about the way Larry is simply relieved of his Wife, and not even after suffering some of the dignity of being defeated by her new lover in any realm. He loses her like one would lose a game of dominoes - a game of dominoes he didn't even know he was playing.

In essence, Larry is the kinds guy you cringe at when bad things happen, because his personality just isn't equipped to deal with the kind of traumas, dramas and dispossessions life throws at people. In a way he may be the closest thing the Coens have developed to a typecast, in that he just too nice a guy to bend the rules to win. He is greeted by his Wife's new lover holding a bottle of "good" wine and you know fully he'll never strike a blow or even utter too strong an objection. He won't challenge his own colleagues on whose been writing a series of defamatory letters about him, he can't even cancel a mail-order deal on buying pop records that he never even signed up to. It asks the serious question of how such man can cope with life and keep his soul intact. And what exactly is meant by becoming a "serious man"? Perhaps the answer is as allusive as the signs on the Dentist's patient's teeth, in what was recanted as an infuriatingly hilarious anecdote.

So what is a "serious man"? Is it Sy Ableman - a man who comfortably performs the deeds he needs to perform, no mater how ugly, but with a civilised veneer?

Or is it Larry? - a man severely ill-equipped for the tragedies that unfold, but who plods and plunders along, occasionally remembering the art of self-preservation?

Who knows? Not me, not after one watch anyways.

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Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:35 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Perhaps a serious man is a man who takes control of his own life. The irony would then be that the more Larry tries to become this, the harder he gets stomped down by the universe--or Hashem, or whomever you'd like to blame. Note the final phone call he gets from his doctor.

The whole movie is a tribute to buttmonkeyism, which is the fine art of writing a character whose sole purpose is to be the plaything of cruel and uncaring cosmic forces. It's George Costanza: The Movie.

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Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:14 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Obviously that's correct to an extent (recently my eyes glance over a book on Amazon entitled "The Universe doesn't give a flying fuck about you"), but Larry is guilty of having all the constitution of a soggy towel.

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Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:50 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
That's what he gets for living in an Old Testament universe. He never gets to the part where the meek are promised the Earth.

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Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:07 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ken wrote:
That's what he gets for living in an Old Testament universe. He never gets to the part where the meek are promised the Earth.


Haha, very good!

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Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:18 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Wild Life

This is an interesting curio, for reasons I'll get to in a moment. The Wild Life sprang from the pen of Cameron Crowe and stars a number of well-known actors in their early days--Chris Penn, Lea Thompson, Eric Stoltz, Rick Moranis, and several others. It's a Ridgemont High-esque slacker comedy and falls into a similar style, but there's an American Graffiti-esque sense of deliberate aimlessness to it. Where American Graffiti achieved warmth in its portrayal of teenagers with their whole lives ahead of them, The Wild Life is more clinical in its examination of these young people. As a result, it doesn't gain the same kind of traction. The structure of numerous characters following their own little interwoven subplots is there, but there is a limit to how sympathy they generate in this case. Perhaps this is why The Wild Life never gained the reputation of its more famous 1980s teen comedy brethren--we don't get to know these people well, and some of them (ex. Chris Penn's character) are frequently unpleasant.

However, The Wild Life's lack of stature is surely also due to its obscurity. Due to music rights issues, this film was never issued on DVD and is currently only in circulation via rips from laserdisc, VHS, and cable showings. And on the subject of music (and its significance to me), the original score was provided by Eddie Van Halen, with assistance from a drum machine and his favorite engineer of the time, Donn Landee. It's not EVH's subtlest work, but his playing injects a lot of energy into the film. It's a treasure trove for Van Halen fans, as many of these compositions would subsequently be plumbed for later Van Halen songs, including "Right Now" and "Blood and Fire". The soundtrack is also dotted with other classic rock songs, though I can't help wondering if it's the Van Halen music that got this movie into trouble.

Anyway, it's worth a watch if you dig the cast, Cameron Crowe, or the man behind the guitars and keyboards. Not the most stellar work by any of the parties involved, but hell, we care about them because of how well they've distinguished themselves in other projects, right?

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Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:36 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Snowpiercer (2013)

It will be in my top 10 of 2013, but after some hesitation. First, my background on Bong: I have only seen The Host. Although I really like it (8/10) and feel that the monster stuff is spectacular and in the top 3 I've seen from the genre, I find the family drama stuff awkward. Not awkward in a real-life way, but in a "this is taking too much time, kind of unfunny, and pretty dull" way.

The awkwardness in tone and characters carry a bit over to Snowpiercer, but strangely, for me it becomes interesting and eccentric this time, and fits the material and mood like a glove. There are some instances where the movie gets unwieldy, and many moments that seems almost very aloof in tonal logic. I find myself often veering between "this is great" and "yeah, I dunno.." (hence the above hesitation), none more so in the climatic scenes where I must have gone back and forth like that about 5 times for a 10-minute, but I ended up loving it.

The performances are mostly good and pretty diverse. The slight weak spot is Chris Evans. He is competent and tries his best with an almost too straight-man role, but it's hard and requires more to stand up with other such eccentric and memorable characters. Three stand-outs are the regular Song Kang-ho, poignant Octavia Spencer, and of course Tilda Swinton. She has a lot less screen time than others (mainly because of the train's geography), but she is so, so deliciously ugly up and chewing the screen with reckless abandon. It's not a deep role, but expertly entertainng.

In a weird way, the movie reminds me of Cloud Atlas: the kitchen-sink mentality (it tackles more themes and some genres than I expected), the pronounced set design, and the feeling of talented directors getting a big budget and going "now I can do that big, expensive, weird thing I've always wanted to do!" There are obvious, persistent flaws in Snowpiercer, but it's hard to resist against an infectious spirit like that. 9/10


Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:14 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
CIFF Days #2 and #3

The Whirl (2012) - 3 out of 4

Bojan Vuk Kosovcevic's debut film paints a grim picture of a crumbling Yugoslavia circa the second half of the 90s. Yugoslavia has been destroyed by the wars, and the economy is in a state of ruin. The Whirl observes three characters on the fringe of this hapless society. The film is split up into three episodes titled "The Roots of Hatred", "Twilight of the Gods" and "The Whirlpool." Each section begins at the same point but ends up wildly differently based on the character's behaviour.

The first one observes a skinhead named Bogdan who has just been released from prison. Extremely impulsive and violent, he is trying to get back together with an old flame who is involved with his childhood friend Kale. Eventually she rejects him which leads to disastrous consequences. The second one observes the aforementioned Kale who is even more impulsive and violent. A legend in the city for his notorious activities, he is trying to finish remaining tasks involving a gang war before fleeing the country with his girlfriend. The third one involves an artist named Count who is trying to overcome the horrors of the war by painting his masterpiece, which he calls The Whirlpool.

All three characters and stories are inter-related. They know each other from childhood, though their paths have been wildly different. All three of them are traumatized. Bogdan by his father's cruelty in his childhood days. Kale because of an older mission where he fucked up big time. Count because he was a soldier in the war and saw many horrors. The difference the director is aiming for is showing how they cope with the trauma. While Kale and Bogdan pile violence on top of violence, Count channels his work into art. Acting is excellent especially by the actors who play Kale and Count.

The director was present post-screening for a discussion, and he confirmed that the point he was trying to make was that violence begets violence and is never the answer. The film is technically pretty good, despite being shot on a shoestring budget with a 5D Mark-II. The graphical sequences rival any top HW production. This one is worth a watch if you can get your hands on it.

Salvo (2013) - 2 out of 4

This was one of the slowest films I've seen in any festival. I don't know whether it was the anti-histamine I took in the afternoon or the fact that this was so fucking slow, I dozed off intermittently during the screening for a few seconds. Salvo is a mafia-hitman. After foiling an attempt at a hit on his boss, he chases the man responsible, only to find his blind sister in the house. Eventually he takes out the man, but not before taking the sister to a safehouse to protect her from the mafia. This is the long cliched story of the assassin trying to reconnect with the world. There is almost no dialogue in the film which made it appear even slower. A fine Sri Lankan gentleman next to me appeared to like it. But it didn't too much for me, besides being well-shot and acted.

Like Father, Like Son (2013) - 4 out of 4

Hands down, the best film of the festival so far, one of my favorite foreign films since A Separation, and most definitely to make my Top 10 this year, though that goes without saying. The reason I brought up A Separation was that this film is one of the truest I've seen since then. There is not one false note to be found even if I look hard into this film.

The story is simple: Ryota is a successful architect, who doesn't have much time for his family being a workaholic. His wife Midori takes care of their 6-yr old son Keita. Their whole world is thrown upside-down when they learn that because a mistake at the hospital where Midori gave birth, babies were switched, and Keita isn't their son. They have to decide between the child they've raised as their own for 6 years, and the child who is actually theirs by blood. The decision is especially straining for Ryota who has never seen himself in Keita.

Like A Separation, the reason why this film is a near-masterpiece is because of its honesty. There are no bad people in this film. The family which took Ryota's blood-child may not be not as rich as he is, and the father in particular doesn't come across as very responsible. But they are loving and playful and take good care of their children with what little they have. Ryota does have some harsh words for them, but you can understand where he is coming from as well, even if he does come across as being selfish. On one hand, the film can be considered as a minor coming-of-age tale for Ryota. He's never been there for Keita, and he is forced to come to terms with that and some past mistakes he's made as well.

The film is essentially about what it means to be a parent and a child. Does blood relation really matter? Can it be more important than living in the same house as father and son for six years? And it does so without taking sides or being judgemental. Koreeda's direction is never heavy-handed, which it very well could've been for a subject like this. The camera lingers on a chewed up straw here, a camera snap there, always just enough to let us know what needs to be known. Even Ryota's transformation happens over a period of time, but the moment of profundity where realizes his mistakes is shot simply and effectively. The writing mirrors the direction in that it is, simply put, honest and true. The other couple in particular have a biting line towards Ryota towards the end which elicited wide applause from the audience here.

The acting is outstanding. Masaharu Fukuyama is brilliant as Ryota and hits the right note in showcasing every facet of his character, be it the workaholic or the father or the husband. He is lent effective support by the actors who play his wife, and the other couple. The child artists are pretty good as well.

I was moved to tears by the film's climax. The only criticism I have is that the ending can be thought of as preordained, but that's nothing really, when compared with how moving the film is. It is quite simply a must-watch, and one of the best films you'll see in 2013. I toyed with a 3.5 and 4 for this one, but decided what the hell and gave it full marks anyway.

How to Describe a Cloud (2013) - 1.5 out of 4 Another misfire for me. I almost dozed off in this Chinese film as well. I don't have a lot to offer on this one, except to ask you guys to avoid it all costs.

The Last Floor(2013) - 2.5 out of 4 Though not as bad as some of the other films above, this is not good enough to warrant a write-up either. A psychological thriller about a Polish captain who loses his mind. I wouldn't recommend it at any rate.

I've got A Touch of Sin, Young and Beautiful, Blue is the Warmest Color, The Past, Omar and The Great Beauty to come up in the next few days.

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Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:51 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Balaji Sivaraman wrote:


I almost mad this a double feature with Snowpiercer but my allergy acted up. It has been well-received here, both money-wise and critically. I really should get to it before it leaves theater.


Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:59 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)

I haven't disliked a character as much as the pregnant girl in this in quite a while. Over all, the naturalistic approach (of which I normally don't care for much) helps lend great tension and dread to the film. At times it is so matter-of-fact it's almost difficult to watch, like when Bebe is describing the procedure step by step and then we have to wait for that part. Very good performances all around, with a fantastic, haunting final shot. 8.5/10


I really liked the character of the friend who helps the pregnant girl (and will think twice before helping her again), and was glad that she took over the film as time went by. The director used a static camera to considerable effect, but wasn't as effective at staging as say, Ozu, so people would occasionally stand up and have their heads cut off. Admittedly comparing someone to Ozu in this regard is unfair because Ozu is the master of effective staging for a stationary camera.

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Sun Dec 15, 2013 1:22 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Cube

Despite undeniably weak acting and some shaky direction due to budget constraints, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Intriguing, well paced, and with terrific B movie integrity.I enjoyed it so much that I may just have to check out the sequels.


Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:39 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
A Touch of Sin (2013) - 2.5 out of 4

This was voted as one of of the Top 10 films of the year b S&S and won the Best Screenplay at Cannes, but I wasn't as enamored with it and don't think it'll make my list. Based on certain real life events of violence in China, Zhangke Jia's film is extremely stylized and hyper-violent, but it all feels a bit abstract at times; and abstract films have never done a lot for me. For the whole duration, I was searching for some sort of connection between all the episodes, something that tied everything together, but I never got any payoff in the end. The first episode of a villager who loses himself and resorts to violence has a healthy dosage of humour, and is definitely the best of the lot. I enjoyed it even as a standalone episode. The second episode about a man who is quite possibly a hit man made no sense at all, even taken as a standalone episode. The third one focuses on an extra-marital affair gone wrong, while the fourth is about love, among many other things. All the episodes have a healthy dose of violence, which made it a difficult watch at times.

In a sense, I was reminded of Holy Motors, but while that film's self-contained episodes all worked as standalone pieces, this film didn't have that going for it. Try to catch this one if you want, but stay away if violence against animals is a turn-off. There are just a couple of scenes of animal violence, but I couldn't look at both of them, though one does have a nice payoff within the episode itself.

Young and Beautiful (2013) - 3 out of 4

Coming-of-age French drama focusing on a teenage girl over a single year, but divided into the four seasons. Isabelle loses her virginity to a German kid in the Summer vacation, becomes addicted to sex and sells her body for money in Autumn, is caught and rehabilitates over Winter, and is forced to make a decision on her future life in Spring. Marine Vacth was perfectly cast as Isabelle, providing the exact kind of sultry and sensual French beauty the film needed. Charlotte Rampling appeared for a surprise cameo towards the end in what proved to be a key role. While the ending left things a bit open-ended and left it up to the audience to come to a conclusion on Isabelle's future, it did provide a sense of closure at least. All in all, I found it to be a pleasant viewing experience.

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Sun Dec 15, 2013 1:52 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Blackfish (2013) ***

A documentary about killer whales being killers. Very interesting actually, looking at how SeaWorld soft-peddles the dangers inherent with such animals being pent up in small pens and how this can change their behavior. On instant and only like 80 minutes long. Check it out.

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