What I’ve been watching

I used to do a best of the year film list, but things have changed. First, I no longer see films at the theatre. Even last year I had started watching some films at home, now I watch all of them at home. And I watch mostly older films, with a few recent ones sprinkled in. When the NBA closed up shop I started watching documentaries while exercising.

With Amazon Prime, I watch far more films than before. Unfortunately, with everything at one’s fingertips the masterpieces of the past don’t seem quite as precious as when I tramped through the snow to Harvard Square to watch old classics. It’s like eating every night at a 4 star restaurant. So I try to add in some mediocre films, to mix things up.

With so many films, I thought it made sense to stop at the half way point of 2020, instead of waiting until the end of the year. I may switch to monthly film reports, as even this post will be way too long. I’ll start with a few recent films, then lots of older ones:

New Films

An Elephant Sitting Still  (China) 3.8  A four hour film somewhat reminiscent of Bela Tarr, but the director has his own distinctive style.  Hu Bo committed suicide after making this film, at the age of 29.  Had he lived, he might have been one of the all-time great directors.  An unbearably sad film, and it’s equally sad to ponder the director’s suicide.

1994  (Mexico)  3.7  A 4-hour Netflix documentary (5 episodes) covering 1994 in Mexico.  I already knew the outline of what happened, but the film made the events come alive.  Reminded me a lot of 1968 in America, with Colosio being the Bobby Kennedy of the story.  You really need to use your critical thinking skills when watching this, as the filmmaker’s interpretation is not always the most plausible one.  Nonetheless, the facts are presented in a fair enough fashion that viewers can make up their own minds.  Zedillo might have been treated a bit unfairly—I wonder if that’s because he declined to be interviewed (while almost all the other key players were interviewed.)

Now someone needs to make a documentary of the year 1968, for us nostalgic boomers.

The Whistlers  (Romania)  3.6  Original and clever thriller that takes place in Romania and also the Canary Islands. I thought they made up the whistling language, but apparently it is actually used in the Canary Islands.  Recommended for those looking for something intelligent, humorous and off beat.

Call For Dreams  (Japan, Israel)  3.6  Most people will not like this film, but it contained almost everything I look for in a film. A feast for the eyes.  Not one review on Rotten Tomatoes, which is hard to understand.   Watch it late at night.

The Vast of Night  (US)  3.6  Very impressive effort for a first time director, despite being a bit derivative at times.  Let’s face it, it hard to come up with anything new in a low budget flying saucer film. Patterson is a director to watch.

Dave Chappelle: Sticks and Stones  (US)  3.5  I’d never seen this comedian before, and was impressed by his sneaky intelligence.  Probably not politically correct, but then I’m too old to know how acceptable his jokes are in contemporary society.  Takes shots at both sides of the political spectrum.

Miles Davis:  The Birth of Cool  (US)  3.5  With a life this interesting you’d have to work pretty hard to create a bad documentary.  And they didn’t.  I would have liked to have seen a more bit coverage of the music, however.   (Also saw “Chasing Trane”, a 2016 film about John Coltrane.)

Transit  (German/French, 2018)  3.5  Not a great movie, but a pretty good film in many different ways, including acting, cinematography, screenplay, plot and pace. 

Uncut Gems  (US)  3.2  Many would rate this higher, as it’s obviously a skillfully made film.  But for me large parts of it were tiresome to sit through—too annoying.  Just not my cup of tea.

Star Wars IX  (US)  3.0  I saw this film out of a sense of duty, since I’d seen the other eight.  JJ Abrams put lots of spectacular scenes on the screen, but forgot to tell an interesting story.  He’s a competent director, but doesn’t have much originality. It’s one of the (many) Stars Wars films that was passable entertainment, but you’d never in a million years want to see twice.

Tigertail  (Taiwan)  3.0  A nicely crafted story of a couple of Taiwanese emigrants to American.  In the end, however, the protagonist never quite seemed like a real person.  Taiwan has produced far better films.

Joker  (US)  2.8  Joaquin Phoenix is excellent, but is stuck in a film that doesn’t quite seem to know what it’s trying to do.  A mishmash of previous films, which don’t really fit together. Or maybe I just didn’t “get it”.

Dying to Survive  (China)  2.4   A Hollywood style “message” film.  In this case the message is that Swiss pharma companies with expensive life-saving drugs and the Shanghai police that enforce their intellectual property rights are evil, and Indian drug counterfeiters making cheap copies and the Chinese lowlifes who smuggle them into China are heroes.  Feel free to scoff, but the film makes a powerful emotional argument for its thesis.  Pity it’s such a flawed film. 

BTW, perhaps the most interesting thing about this “subversive” film is that the Chinese government allowed it to be made.  The Shanghai police look bad, but it’s not hard to figure out who the real target is.

Maki  (US)  2.2  Sometimes, less is more.  At other times (as Robert Venturi said), less is a bore.

Extraction  (Bangladesh)  2.0  Lots of 4k images of Dhaka, one of the world’s largest cities and a place I’ll never visit.  So there’s that.  Also a reference to Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia, a remote outback town I drove through in 1991, which not many people visit.  Otherwise, more of a video game than movie.

Old Films

Late Spring  (Japan, 1949)  4.0  If Kurosawa is the Rembrandt of Japanese directors, then Ozu is the Vermeer.  A near perfect film, featuring Setsuko Hara.

Persona  (Sweden, 1966)  3.9  Imagine a film made during the late 1960s that is full of mystery and multiple interpretations.  There are sudden breaks in the narrative that confuse the viewer.  The music is jarring and atonal.  The cinematography is often breathtaking, among the best in the history of film. The intro is radically different from the main narrative.  Sounds a lot like 2001, doesn’t it?  Yes, Kubrick’s film explores outer space while Persona explores inner space (or more specifically human faces.)  But after more than 50 years, the bold experimentation of the 1960s is what shines through in both films.  Just as the creative explosion of the late 60s set the template for pop music for decades to come, these two films have been wildly influential with serious filmmakers.

Unlike me, most movie buffs saw this film long ago.  For me, it was weird seeing echoes of later films by Lars von Trier, David Lynch and even the film 2001.  I can no longer assume that 2001 “came out of nowhere”. Call me a nostalgic boomer, but the leap in film from the classics of the late 1950s (Vertigo, The Searchers, etc.) to Persona and 2001 was the most radical in film history. After these two films, filmmaking was no longer about pushing the envelope; it was about utilizing the innovations.

At the same time, I’d only recommend this movie to film buffs.  It’s much less enjoyable to watch than most 4 star films, unless you share Bergman’s sensibilities (I don’t.)  For me it was all about light and shadows; the murky 60s-era psychology goes right over my head.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut  (US, 1982)  3.9  It’s a sort of miracle that this film ended up this good.  One of the three best sci-fi films ever made (Kubrick and Tarkovsky made the other two, and Ridley Scott is not in their class.)  A 4K image plus 77 inch OLED plus Blade Runner equals bliss. 

Rushmore  (US, 1998)  3.9  I can’t believe I’d never seen this film before.  Just brilliant.

A Man Escaped  (France, 1956)  3.8  The most realistic and suspenseful escape film I’ve ever seen.  Bresson’s films tend to be rather minimalist, without a lot of Hollywood flourishes.  If that’s your taste then you should definitely check this one out.

La Notte  (Italy, 1961)  3.8  One of my favorite Antonioni films.  The second half is a masterpiece in every respect.  Worth getting a big OLED just to see the inky blacks in the superb cinematography.

Solaris   (Russian, 1972)  3.8  It’s funny how certain scenes seemed mesmerizing in 1972, but now seem inconsequential.  I recall being fascinated by the scene driving through modern Tokyo on the freeway.  In life you can only experience something for the first time once.  (I sometimes wonder if JFK was the most fortunate man in history—got everything a man could want, went out at his peak, and avoided the long painful decline.)

A Brighter Summer Day (Taiwan, 1991) 3.8  An Edward Yang masterpiece.  One beautifully directed scene after another—for 4 hours.  Some scenes you’ll want to cut out, frame, and put on the wall.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly  (Italy, 1966)   3.8  Even better than I remember it.  More epic, with impressive production values.  Sergio Leone is sort of a weird mix of Tarantino and John Ford.  Eli Wallich gives the more memorable performance, not Eastwood.  And that soundtrack. . . .

The Lady Eve  (US, 1941)  3.8  In 1941 Sturges also directed Sullivan’s Travels, another masterpiece. In the same year, Barbara Stanwyck also appeared in Ball of Fire and Meet John Doe.  (Has an actress ever done three better films in one year?) Also in 1941, Hollywood produced Suspicion, How Green Was My Valley and High Sierra.  Oh, and did I mention Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon? It truly was a magical year.  And 1941 was also the year the Great Depression ended.  We were prosperous, but WWII had not yet saddled our country with the military-industrial complex.  A great time to be alive.

Sullivan’s Travels  (US, 1941)  3.8  Another gem by Preston Sturges.  He tries hard to be funny rather than serious (and often succeeds), but “ideas” keep slipping through anyway.  One more to add to the long list of great movies about making movies.

Hana-Bi  (Japan, 1997)  3.8   Excellent film by Beat Takashi, probably his best. Odd mixture of art film (with actual art) and violent Tarantino-style film. Lots of Americans would be horrified by the ethical implications of the ending, but I thought it was beautiful.

Shadow of a Doubt  (US, 1943)  3.8  One of Hitchcock’s best pre-1950s films, full of wonderful scenes. During the 1940s, a Santa Rosa, CA resident is bored with life and looking for some excitement, and ends up with too much to handle (as in The Man Who Wasn’t There.) Very nice B&W cinematography.

The Music Room   (India, 1958)  3.8  This Satyajit Ray film would be too slow for many people, but has great rewards for the patient viewer.

The Kid  (US, 1921)  3.7  You can learn a lot about history watching these old silent films, such as what poor neighborhoods looked like in 1921. Contains a nice illustration of Bastiat’s broken window fallacy. Chaplin is upstaged by the cutest kid in the history of cinema. 

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures  (US, 2005) 3.7  One theme in the documentary is the way that Kubrick’s pictures were consistently underrated on release, especially by critics who should have known better.  (Audiences were ahead of the critics.)  Another theme is how Kubrick’s reputation keeps growing over time.  I suspect he’s eventually headed for #1, as he has so many films that are the absolute best in their genre (2001 for sci-fi, Dr. Strangelove for black comedy, The Shining for horror, etc.)  That’s really hard to do in such a variety of genres.  Full Metal Jacket isn’t as good as Apocalypse Now, but then when you think about it the Coppola movie sort of rips off Kubrick.

Alien  (US, 1979)  3.7  Ridley Scott has a good eye, which is why this film holds up really well.

The Talented Mr. Ripley.  (US, 1999)  3.7  Has there ever been a writer whose novels were turned into such consistently great films?  I’ve seen 4 films based on Highsmith novels, and they are all excellent.  Even if Matt Damon was miscast, the acting is consistently good.  It’s unusual to see such a good film made by an average director (Casablanca is another example.)

Singing in the Rain  (US, 1952) 3.7  First time I’d seen this classic. This should probably rate even higher, but I’m not really a fan of musicals.  Some great dance sequences, but the first half has some scenes that don’t quite work.

Rome: Open City  (Italy, 1946)  3.7  This film would have seemed even more impressive in 1946, when it’s realism would have shocked audiences.  Even today it’s a powerful film.  It might almost be viewed as the first modern film (in terms of content, not style).

Spies  (Germany, 1928)  3.7  I’d never even heard of this great Fritz Lang (silent) film.  You see its influence on everything from Hitchcock to James Bond.  A great musical soundtrack, one of the best ever in terms of matching the flow of the narrative.

Elevator to the Gallows  (France, 1957)  3.7 Louis Malle’s first film, with a really cool soundtrack by Miles Davis.

Raise the Red Lantern  (China, 1992) 3.7  The cinematography doesn’t seem quite as impressive after 28 years, although that may reflect seeing it the second time on a smaller screen.  Gong Li’s first great role.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir  (UK, 1947)  3.7  Javier Marias wrote a heartfelt essay suggesting that this film is wildly underrated.

Body Heat   (US, 1981)  3.7  One of the best of the 1980s film noirs, at least among those that don’t feature Theresa Russell.  It holds up pretty well after 40 years, if (like me) you have the gift of easily forgetting plots.

Antarctica: A Year On Ice  (New Zealand, 2013)  3.7  A gorgeous documentary about a year spent living in Antarctica.  Also contains lots of interesting sociology, including the emotional impact of the small winter community being suddenly overwhelmed with the large summer staff of the scientific station.

The Man Who Wasn’t There.  (US, 2001)  3.6  During the 1940s, a Santa Rosa, CA resident is bored with life and looking for some excitement, and ends up with too much to handle. Very nice B&W cinematography.  The critics missed all the references to Shadow of a Doubt in this beautifully crafted Coen brothers film.  Hitchcock himself doesn’t appear, but no fewer than three fat men play important roles.  Even the title sounds like Hitchcock.

You Only Live Once  (US, 1937)  3.6  An overlooked gem by Fritz Lang.  The plot seems derivative, but perhaps that’s because Lang has been copied by others.  Sylvia Sidney is excellent as usual, and Henry Fonda plays a criminal.  The desperation of the 1930s seeps through almost every frame of this film.

Journey to Italy  (Italy, 1954)  3.6  This is the second time I’ve seen this film.  Given its reputation, I was a bit disappointed (especially the ending.)  Nonetheless, it’s well worth seeing if you’ve never seen it before.  Rossellini doesn’t seem to like the English.

The Grifters  (US, 1990)  3.6  This may be rated a bit high, but I really like Anjelica Huston.  I don’t much care for Annette Bening, but she’s fine in this film. John Cusack wasn’t given much of a role.  Or maybe he’s just a pretty face.

Brief Encounter  (UK, 1946)  3.5  This David Lean film has the feel of being a classic, but it’s a bit too serious for my taste.

Dreams  (Japan, 1990)  3.5  I see why some critics panned this films, but I found much to enjoy in an otherwise uneven and disjointed effort by Kurosawa.  They say the inferno section of the Divine Comedy is best (I don’t agree), but it’s certainly not the best part of Dreams.  The Van Gogh section is a disaster.  But the blizzard is sublime.

Punk Revolution NYC  (US, 2012)  3.5   I greatly enjoyed this 3¼ hour documentary on the New York music scene in the 1970s.  Your mileage may vary, depending on how you feel about the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, the Ramones, Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell, Blondie, the Talking Heads, etc.  In my view, a lot of this music holds up better than the more popular stuff from the 1970s. (Especially that boring, mellow, West Coast stuff.) There were also a bunch of interesting people on the edges of this movement (Warhol, Nico, John Cale, Eno, etc.)

Brian Eno: The Man Who Fell To Earth (2011) 3.4  Another long documentary about the 1970s music scene.  The film just focused on 5 years of his life. But they were the decisive 5 years, so maybe that was for the best.  Interestingly, while in Roxy Music he enjoyed living the life of the decadent rock star much more than did Bryan Ferry.  (The opposite of what I would have expected.)

Black Sunday  (Italy, 1960)  3.4  A classic black and white horror film, with some inspired cinematography.  Just ignore the silly dialogue.

Sleuth  (UK, 2007)  3.4  Kenneth Branagh’s version is intriguing at first, but gets a bit tiresome by the end.  Other than Michael Caine, has the same man ever starred in a film, and then starred in the remake of the film 35 years later?  Has Michael Caine been in more movies than any other actor in film history?  (He’s been in 130.) 

Monty Python: Almost the Truth (UK, 2009)  3.4   Six part documentary on the history of the British comedy group. The members did a good job of evaluating the group dynamics, especially seeing the other side of disputes.  Reminded me again of why the 1970s was the greatest decade ever.

Consider these three facts:

  1. They had some funny skits
  2. They developed a new approach to comedy.
  3. They were very talented comedic actors.

People overrate the first point.  It doesn’t even matter if some of the skits no longer seem funny.  It’s the second and third points that insure their legacy.

Sonatine   (Japan, 1993)  3.4  Beat Kitano play a yazuka who spends much of the film hanging out in Okinawa, waiting for violence to erupt.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles  (China, 2006) 3.4  One of those Zhang Yimou films that wavers between sentimental and overly sentimental.  It presents a sanitized view of China, but there’s real value in what he does.  He plants a seed in the minds of Chinese viewers—this is what their country should be.  That’s how change happens.

Dennis Hopper: Uneasy Rider:  (US, 2016)  3.4  Hollywood actors like to consider themselves to be “artists”, but in the case of Hopper the term actually fits.  Whether he was actually “the coolest man on Earth” is debatable, but he was certainly in the conversation.

Happy People:  A Year in the Taiga  (Russian, 2013) 3.4  At first I wasn’t that interested, but it became increasingly engrossing, especially the final 10 minutes.  Looks at the smart, tough, resourceful men who hunt and trap in the Siberian wilderness.  Makes pretty much every single job in America seem cushy by comparison.  It’s sad to think that this way of life is probably dying out.  Despite all our new gadgets, we are losing something important.  And it’s narrated by (who else?) Werner Herzog!

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology  (2012) 3.4  The point is not to follow our dreams, but rather to create the right set of dreams.  Slavoj Zizek definitely has interesting things to say, but I found the 2 1/4 hour length to be excessive.  It would have worked better as a 90-minute film.

A Shot in the Dark  (US/French, 1964)  3.4  I saw this film on TV when I was about 12, and more than 50 years later it holds up pretty well.  Parts are silly, but Peter Sellers is perfect and some of the other people are well cast.

Ghost in the Shell Machine 2: Innocence  (Japan, 2004) 3.4  Actually better than the first one.  Nice visuals and sound.

Hangmen Must Die!  (US, 1942) 3.3  A fairly engrossing Fritz Lang film about the Czech resistance, made during WWII.

Baby Face  (US, 1933)  3.3  TMC said this was the uncut version, too risqué for even the pre-code era.  In fact, it’s quite tame.  There’s only one reason to watch this, but it’s a good one—Barbara Stanwyck. 

Voyeur  (US, 2017)  3.3   There are all kinds of people in the world, which means there are plenty of documentaries still to be made.  For me, the most interesting idea in the film was the protagonist’s God-like perspective.  And also those thousands of people who will go to their graves having no idea there was a man above them, watching over them in seedy hotel rooms.

BTW, conventional wisdom says that someone who watches people without their knowledge is a creep, but when God does the same thing it’s OK.  I’m not sure I accept this conventional wisdom.  I suspect that either voyeurs are underrated or God is overrated.

Cowards Bend the Knee  (Canada, 2004)  3.3  This sort of film is hard to rate.  Think of it as a silent movie with everything except Freudian images removed.  Not for those who view film as a narrative art, but lots of eye candy for those who view it as a graphic art.  Don’t blame me if you hate it.

Coast Modern  (US, 2013)  3.2  Nice documentary looking at the history of modernist houses on the West Coast.

Sayonara  (US/Japan, 1957)  3.2  A somewhat dated 50s Technicolor film, with a message in support of interracial marriage. And yet even as late as 1957, the role of a Japanese Kabuki actor is being played by Ricardo Montalban.  Japanese men were still invisible, or the objects of ridicule. Marlon Brando is always interesting, but here he seems to be playing a character below his actual intelligence, which I found a bit grating.  Written by James Michener, and has his usual “social studies lesson” vibe.  Still, the film is pretty to look at and has its moments.  It did get 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Steel Helmut  (US, 1951)  3.2   Sam Fuller’s first film, and already has his unmistakable style.

Archangel  (Canadian, 1990)  3.1  Guy Madden is one of the most original directors out there.  His films seem like long lost silent movies that someone unearthed from a vault somewhere.  With sound added.

The Pearl Button  (Chile, 2015)  3.1  Pretentious and artsy at times, but it does have two things going for it.  There are stunning images of the landscape in southern Chile, and there’s some very interesting material on the native people of that region.  Left-wing perspective.

Sea Gypsies: The Far Side of the World  (Roaring 40s, 2017)  3.1  Adventure is still possible to stumble upon.

K2 and the Invisible Footman  (Pakistan, 2016) 3.1 A reminder that the third world is still really, really poor.

This is Spinal Tap (US, 1984)  3.1  I had heard that this film is hilarious, but after 36 years it merely seems amusing.  Perhaps having heard “turn it up to 11” about 50 times ruined it for me.

Killing Them Softly  (2012)  3.1  A sort of poor man’s Tarantino film.  Worth watching if you are a fan of Reservoir Dogs.  Some good acting, but a bit tiresome at other times.

Boccaccio ’70   (Italy, 1962)  3.1  A 3.5 hour film comprised of four short films.  The first is charming but inessential.  The second (by Fellini) is quite lame; I’d skip it.  The Visconti episode comes third and may be the best, and the amusing final episode (De Sica) has Sophia Loren—a force of nature.

S is For Stanley.  (UK/Italy, 2016)  3.1  A documentary about an Italian guy who was Stanley Kubrick’s personal assistant.  Probably not worth your time unless you’re a big Kubrick fan.

The Age of Innocence  (Korea, 2015)  3.0  For some bizarre reason (OK, I know why), Amazon Prime translated the title as “Empire of Lust”.  Fairly typical East Asian historical drama.  A bit over the top, as with so many Korean films.   Still, you’ve got to respect their enthusiasm.

The Barefoot Contessa  (US, 1954) 3.0  There are only three reasons to see this film.  Humphrey Bogart (not at his best), Ava Gardner, and the glorious 1950s Technicolor.

Where the Green Ants Dream (Australian/German, 1985)  3.0  Not one of Herzog’s best efforts.  There’s some droll humor, but directors like Jim Jarmusch are better at that sort of thing.

The Sacred Triangle:  Iggy, David & Lou  (2010)  3.0    Another documentary on 1970s music, this time the connections between Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. I also saw a Jim Jarmusch documentary on Iggy Pop called “Gimme Danger”.

Dirty Pictures  (US, 2010)  2.9  A documentary about a guy who devoted his life to creating new mind altering drugs, and then experimenting with them on himself.

You Were Never Really Here  (US, 2018)  2.9  One year after getting really fat to play this role, Joaquin Phoenix got really skinny to play the Joker.  This film has some stylistic flourishes, but never really comes to life.   Unless you are a great director, the safest course is to tell an engrossing story.

Midnight Cowboy  (US, 1969)  2.9  I was surprised at just how bad this movie was, given its reputation.  (It’s basically a 2-star film with a 4-star performance by Dustin Hoffman—maybe the best of his career.  Watching the film I couldn’t help think about what aspects of the movie would have appealed to people back in 1969.  Some films just don’t hold up well, especially if they rely a lot on scenes that seem novel at the time, but are actually nothing special.

Topkapi  (US, 1964)  2.8  This film actually got very good reviews, but spoofs from 1964 don’t seem funny in 2020.  Even so, the last third has a jewel heist that is nicely done.

Impact  (US, 1949) 2.7  I love film noirs from the late 1940s.  But this one’s just OK.

The Avengers  (US, 2012)  2.5  First time I’d seen an Avengers film.  Last time I’ll see an Avengers film.  Felt more like watching a video game than a movie.

The Bedroom Window  (US, 1987)  2.5  Steve Guttenberg?  Got to be among the top 10 miscast roles of all time.

Topaz  (US, 1969)  2.5   It seems almost inconceivable that Hitchcock went from Vertigo to this bland film in just 11 years.  I’d be inclined to assume senility, but then he bounced back somewhat with Frenzy.

The Harder They Come  (Jamaica, 1973)  2.4  I suppose this is a sort of cultural landmark.  And it does have some very good music.  But it’s not much of a film.

Moon  (US, 2009) 2.3  For some reason this dull and unimaginative sci-fi film got good reviews.

The Neon Demon  (US, 2016) 2.2  First there was Lars Von Trier and now Nicholas Winding Refn.  There’s truly something rotten in Denmark.  Does have some nice visual images.  But about that second half . . .

She  (US, 1935)   2.0  A sort of poor man’s King Kong, albeit very poor.  Despite the horrific screenplay, I’m giving this two stars as an interesting historical artifact.  For some strange reason I’m glad this sort of film exists, as it tells us something about our secret desires.



40 Responses to “What I’ve been watching”

  1. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    2. July 2020 at 22:31

    I’m curious who you think they should’ve cast in The Talented Mr. Ripley. If you haven’t seen the Watchmen, it’s a grittier, more ‘mature’ alternative to the Avengers in the comic book movie genre; it and the first two Nolan Batman movies are the only comic movies I can sit through.

    You should try Chappelle’s earlier stuff as well. I thought his show on Comedy Central in the early 2000s was great, but maybe I was just a lot more juvenile back then.

  2. Gravatar of A A
    3. July 2020 at 03:19

    Maybe reset your system with The Wrong Missy?

    Volver is the best movie I’ve seen this year. Beautiful optimism and acceptance existing with brutal personal histories.

  3. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    3. July 2020 at 04:22

    Scott, you should publish these movie lists as a compilation on a special page… so I can look them all up together when I finally get a streaming subscription that carries these movies! No luck on Netflix haha.

  4. Gravatar of Rajat Rajat
    3. July 2020 at 04:49

    Ha, I quite liked Moon. Great theme track anyway. Maybe it wasn’t very imaginative, but I wouldn’t know.

    Any thoughts on Leave No Trace (US) and Border (Grans, Sweden), both 2018?

  5. Gravatar of lashawn lashawn
    3. July 2020 at 06:42

    That is quite the list.

    Chappelle had previously quit comedy because of PC culture, and sticks and Stones was his first special in almost a decade. Of course that didn’t stop the far left from descending upon him with incredible hate and vitriol.

    These same psychopaths sought to remove Kanye wests “blackness” (unbelievably true story!) because he supported a trump policy and retweeted a black academics conservative view (I think it was Thomas Sowell). Not that any intellectual cares what Kanye thinks, but there was a time when a man could disagree and still keep his skin color. Apparently, that is not the case anymore. If you are black, and not in lockstep with the far left, or BLM loonies, then you are now a sellout. I could marry a white woman tomorrow and my parents wouldn’t care at all, but if I say I lean conservative they would disown me.

    Anyways, such is life in this climate we now live. I’d be shocked if he ever returned, and that is a real shame. He’s not quite as talented as George Carlin, at least not with the written word, but his material has depth.

    I was also disappointed in the Star Wars finale. I’m not sure why Disney moved away from Lucas’s vision – perhaps ego?

  6. Gravatar of Aladin Aladin
    3. July 2020 at 07:22

    “more a video game than a movie”

    Man, I really hope you don’t see 1917 then, the director explicitly based the cinematography and overall narrative off of that of a 3rd person shooter. Even the structure is essentially, character on one mission, break, next mission, break, with none of the segments related to each other in any way like a video game etc… It is extremely jarring.

    There was a scene where they just drop the main character, who supposedly was in an extremely important mission, off at an enemy encampment, and were just like, good luck! and left him there. He moved two feet and suddenly took fire. Like you would think they would bother to reinforce him if the message he is delivering is that important. Or … like they had telegrams in 1917 right?

  7. Gravatar of marcus nunes marcus nunes
    3. July 2020 at 07:56

    The Talented Mr Ripley was called Plein Soleil in the 1960 french version. So much better than the US version and with the beautiful Marie Laforet!

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. July 2020 at 08:00

    Mark, I read the Watchman comic book a long time ago, but have not seen the film. I agree about the two Nolan Batman pics.

    A, Thanks for the tip.

    mbka, All my old year end reviews are still avaiable in this blog.

    Rajat, I have not seen those two.

    lashawn. He has great timing in his delivery of jokes.

    Aladin, Didn’t that film get good reviews?

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. July 2020 at 08:00

    Marcus, Yes, I plan to see that one too.

  10. Gravatar of Akash Garg Akash Garg
    3. July 2020 at 08:47

    Honestly, I feel the reviews were gushing over the one shot aspect a bit too much and focused on a few sequences that were extremely well done, and not the overall narrative.

    Or you’re just trolling because you and I both know that good reviews doesn’t equal good movie … damn I need to get better at detecting that.

  11. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. July 2020 at 08:56

    Akash, No, I wasn’t trolling, I genuinely assumed the positive reviews meant something good.

  12. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    3. July 2020 at 09:08

    Thanks for this—-looking for new things—-I like “curated” recommendations ——rotten tomatoes is ok—-but its good to hear a person one “knows” (so to speak!) give their comments.

  13. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    3. July 2020 at 10:14

    Very good ratings and comments, for the most part. One of them is strange to me: The Avengers. Not because of the score (if anything, it’s too high), but the reason for criticism.

    Videogames can look and feel very different from each other: It’s a very complicated medium that sometimes it tries to say nothing, other times it pretends to be a movie, denying anything unique to its medium, and other times it tells stories that are very hard to tell anywhere else. So “It’s like a videogame” says little.

    Avengers has a lot of flash, but everything appears to be incredibly low stakes. There’s way too many charactersm and it spends too much time trying to please its most rabid fanbase than getting anything done. There are worse superhero movies, but its still no good. Either way, I’d not call those things videogame qualities.

    For someone that isn’t invested in the genre. I’d just recommend Into The Spiderverse, as it pushes the medium in many ways that are easy to appreciate. Helps mode if you can enjoy rap though.

  14. Gravatar of Alan Goldhammer Alan Goldhammer
    3. July 2020 at 10:20

    Scott – really good list of films. I think ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ is far superior to ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.’ There is far more evil in the former. the role of the French new wave directors had far more influence on the changes in movie making than Bergman or Kubrick. I actually think Kubrick is overrated. the only film of his that I would watch today is ‘Paths of Glory’ the rest of them I find uninteresting.

    I too am a huge film noir fan. If you have cable TV, see if you get Movies! channel. they do noir films every Thursday and there have been some real gems that I’ve not seen before. “Film Noir: The Dark Side of the Sceen” by Foster Hirsch is an essential reference. He covers all the Barbara Stanwyck movies in detail. She was certainly one of the top five actresses of the period.

  15. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. July 2020 at 10:34

    Bob, I don’t play video games, so I defer to your expertise.

    Alan, You are probably right about Once Upon a Time in the West. I haven’t seen it in many decades.

    I disagree about Kubrick. Making the all time best sci-fi film, the all time best black comedy, the all time best horror film, and the all time best period drama (Barry Lyndon) doesn’t happen by accident. In my view, the only director who is arguably better is Hitchcock.

  16. Gravatar of tc0 tc0
    3. July 2020 at 10:46

    Scott, you should start using letterboxd, if you don’t already know about it. Its designed for and used by lots of cinephile like you. You can use it like a movie watching diary or just browse it for movie watching ideas. Here’s their list of 250 best reviewed movies


    no highbrow movies site I know has A Brighter’s Summer Day on their top 15 but this one does. The movies on the list coincide with your taste pretty well I think.

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. July 2020 at 12:16

    tc0, Great list—yes it does correspond very closely with my taste.

  18. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    4. July 2020 at 01:32

    A really long list by Sumner but good, full of passion. In another life Sumner could be a film critic.

    I don’t watch films at all (the first film I ever saw that was not rated G or on TV was “The Stunt Man” (1980), because a college professor insisted we see it as an assignment; I wonder what Sumner thinks of it?) and after forty years I’ve not seen a single paid film except the excellent movie, The Game (1997), based on the excellent John Fowler book The Magus). I’ve never seen a single Star Wars film. Not one and I’m proud of it. Nor Star Trek, which I understand is superior. Did not see a single Spielberg film except the first dino film (group event) and his first movie with Dennis Hopper? about a road rage incident (was OK, a bit too long). I did see Keaton’s Batman since the office I worked in made it a group event (so I had to go), it was barely OK. Never seen the Godfather except excerpts (I think it’s a suspense film, not really an interesting film, it’s basically a horror film where you wonder who will get off’d next). I did see Citizen Kane in high school (we had to see it), it was uninteresting, but the Rosewood reference in the beginning was good. I did kind of like “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” for historical reasons (I’ve been to that part of Mexico) and the ‘good guys’ were at times evil. Never saw any Orson Wells film except his first, about a femme fatale in Mexico (this year, forget the name, it was OK but the ending should have been longer, I understand it was edited for commercial reasons). I declined to see even the first A. Hopkins film “Silence of the Lambs” when the office all went out to see it (the secretaries were shocked, and thought the guy sponsoring the movie night was a pervert). I also see popular films when my hot Filipina half my age drags me into the cinema to see them with her friends (they are awful, just awful, even the Avengers “Thanos” film where everybody dies, which was interesting, and the Guardians of the Galaxy had a decent soundtrack for Boomers–BTW I don’t listen to music either, some of these Boomer songs I heard for the first time at that theatre, they were better than the pop synthesis they make now). The recent movie “Parasite” seems utterly unwatchable and uninteresting, based on reviews of it and Wikipedia.

    As for stay at home and watch films, I rather play chess (after around 30 years of trying, I’m finally at the expert level), program something or read a book. Nothing I’ve seen in film really is interesting, though if you gave me a budget I’d make a good film (more sex and nudity for example, more random chance events, less storytelling, for example I saw on download the movie “Gravity” starring Bullock and certain parts of it were really good, also some scenes in “2001: A Space Odyssey”). I did write a Hollywood script once (took me a mere week, as I’m a good writer, as evidenced since you’re still reading this now), was told it was good, but Spike Lee the same year did a WWII film and since this script based on some embellished WWII stories we felt it was not opportune to sell it, so we canned it. I did like the action in “The Last Boy Scout” (the script was bought for a nice sum as I recall hearing) but it could have been better (did kind of like the random violence, which Q. Tarrantino made a career out of, btw I’ve never seen a single one of his films). I did sort of like that French / Italian film of some jungle travelers that Sumner recommended from the 1970s where everybody dies. Same for Papillion (1970s version) and Bronson cult classics “The Mechanic” and “Death Wish”, as well as some Eastwood films (saw them on download again after first seeing them on TV). James Bond films are usually pretty good too, albeit too predictable. The best Bond IMO was Roger Moore, closely followed by Sean Connery. The worse is Dalton and that guy nobody remembers. The present Bond is just OK. I did watch Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” for the historical context (the movie was bad but ahead of his time for storytelling effects, and for it’s time, given censorship in Japan–they don’t even show female genitalia in the 21st century–was good).

    Just saw parts of “Nixon on Nixon: In his own words” and it was interesting, a documentary about Nixon, a fascinating and flawed president but actually all presidents are (see the Wikipedia entry on the Pentagon Papers, all US presidents going back to Eisenhower lied about clandestine foreign policy, a legacy of ashes), and despite his flaws Nixon of course would beat Trump as a good president any day.

    Also “debut” films are always good in art, for example on an airplane (the only other place I watch films, if only partly) I saw “Baby Driver” (2017) and it was “OK” (not really good but the dyslexia angle was interesting) but apparently the director claims the movie was 20 years in the making in his mind’s eye, which is promising.

    As for Sumner’s comment about trudging in the snow and classics seeming to fade, it reminds me of a passage in A. C. Clarke’s book “2001” where the character observes as lifespans progress and time speeds up, stuff that once fascinated you have less power to fascinate. The wonder of youth, and why babies seem fascinated by shiny noisy objects. I think babies would like economic theory if it could be somehow brought to life (ostentatious nonsense).

    @Allan Goldhammer – “Once Upon A Time in the West” was unwatchable for me. “Good, Bad and the Ugly” was good, the railroad battle, the bathtub scene, the prison camp, the final scene, the Ugly visiting his brother priest, and others. The movie you like tried to hard.

  19. Gravatar of Saturday assorted links – Marginal REVOLUTION Saturday assorted links - Marginal REVOLUTION
    4. July 2020 at 07:45

    […] 3. What Scott Sumner has been watching. […]

  20. Gravatar of Saturday assorted links – BIJIN WORLD Saturday assorted links – BIJIN WORLD
    4. July 2020 at 07:46

    […] 3. What Scott Sumner has been watching. […]

  21. Gravatar of TMC TMC
    4. July 2020 at 08:24

    Wow you’ve seen a lot of movies. Re:Joker – ‘Or maybe I just didn’t “get it”.’ I think you did. It was a terrible movie. The only one I’ve walked out on in the past decade (still working on my applying sunk cost to my life).

  22. Gravatar of ricardo ricardo
    4. July 2020 at 08:48

    Thanks, will watch An Elephant Sitting Still based on this. I liked The Whistlers a lot too.

  23. Gravatar of ee ee
    4. July 2020 at 12:19

    RE: Avengers 2012
    Watching Avengers without seeing the preceding 5 MCU movies is like watching Harry Potter #6 first: you’re missing the character and plot development that was already supposed to be in the bank.

    Avengers was special for being the first movie to feature the 4 heroes from the previous films together. It also had some nods to future plot points that were paid off more than 10 movies later. The ability to tie characters together and balance short-term plot with long-term plot is what makes the MCU’s decades-long construction project special.

    The must-see movies in the MCU are the first one, Ironman, for it’s engineering fantasy, and the 19th, Avengers: Infinity War, for it’s grim and high-stakes action. Black Panther is probably a top contender for a lot of people. And Thor: Ragnorak is notable for its style. But again be warned: watching any of the movies with “Avengers” in the title without seeing the preceding movies that build the characters will leave you with a shallow picture of the franchise.

  24. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    4. July 2020 at 13:07

    Interesting all the way through.

  25. Gravatar of tom cooley tom cooley
    4. July 2020 at 13:51

    An OLED TV and The Criterion Channel is bliss

  26. Gravatar of Turma Turma
    4. July 2020 at 14:09

    Scott, I don’t want to be too pedantic, but the series is much much more commonly known in English as Ghost in the Shell, rather than Ghost in the Machine. But yes, a good movie and better than the first. Glad you didn’t like the Avengers movie. Since you reviewed two Beat Takeshi movies, may I recommend Kikujiro? Not a masterpiece, but a cute and laid back road trip movie, with Beat Takeshi starring as an ex gangster who is entrusted with taking care of his young nephew.

  27. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. July 2020 at 14:11

    ee, Maybe, but I doubt it would have dramatically impacted my evaluation.

    Tom, I plan to sign up soon.

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. July 2020 at 14:14

    Thanks for the tip Turma, and I fixed the typo.

  29. Gravatar of KevinK KevinK
    5. July 2020 at 04:18

    Nice list and solid analysis. I agree completely with you on Uncut Gems (so annoyed I stopped watching after 45 minutes), The Harder They Come (saw it long ago, was confused by it’s elevated status),and quite a few of the other films you mention. I also love Kubrick, especially for his range. Kurosawa is the other at the top of my pantheon (again, his range and quality), and I need to give Dreams another chance. I enjoy Hitchcock’s better films, but he explored the same preoccupations too repetitiously. And his weak films can be awful. Viscerally disagree about Dennis Hopper – his frantic overacting ruins Apocalypse Now, and the only role he fit was in Blue Velvet.

    I grew up an intense Marvel comic book fan, and enjoyed the first Spider-Man and Iron Man movies, but that film genre rapidly became a wasteland. As another commenter mentioned, Into the Spider Verse is by far the best Marvel movie in years. I wasn’t a fan of the Watchman comic (comics shouldn’t be written by people who have contempt for comics), and the film didn’t do anything for me. However, the Watchman TV series (at least the first 6 episodes, which is all I’ve seen so far) is maybe the best non-animated “realistic” superhero film making I’ve seen.

    There are video games I very much enjoy, but I agree with you about films that seem to be influenced by video games. There is a certain amount of (unfortunate) cross-pollination between games and film, with some game developers wanting to be film makers, and some film makers being overtly influenced by games. In both cases I find such products unsatisfying – I get impatient with games that try to insert long minutes of narrative storytelling, and can’t stomach films that mimic watching a video-game playthrough. (Video playthroughs are popular with gamers – you watch someone film themselves playing a game, and commenting on it. It can be entertaining if it’s a game you’re playing and enjoying. It’s pointless if it’s a game you don’t know).

    Thanks for adding to my “need to watch” list. I need to give Beat Takeshi another chance too – the two of his I’ve seen left me with the impression that he’s a slipshod film maker. Final note: in lockdown I’ve been watching a lot of ’40s-50’s noir/crime films and B-movies that are readily found on Youtube. They help the time pass when I’m doing boring stuff on my computer.Few are good films, but most have some nice moments (Impact is a good example of these films). What’s most striking to me is how much the US has changed for women. The casual contempt with which women are routinely treated, even by men who are supposed to be good guys, is striking. The issues with bad politicians and corrupt cops and yellow journalism often feels fairly modern, but not the role of women.

  30. Gravatar of Sharp Sharp
    5. July 2020 at 04:50

    Re: Comparing Avengers to a video game.
    With video games, we’re seeing the history of cinema replayed and compressed. Early games were shorts and penny arcade films. The next generation was like the silent era as narrative became more important. Many current games have a complex narrative arc and multiple storylines – with the added immersion of interactivity. And auteurs are emerging, like the Death Stranding creater. The parallels are interesting.

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. July 2020 at 09:08

    Kevin, Just to be clear, Dreams is a subpar effort for Kurosawa. But I put a lot of weight on visuals, and it had its moments. This made it worthwhile for me.

    I like Japanese cinema in general. Keep in mind that there are at least a half dozen absolutely “great” Japanese filmmakers, and Beat Takeshi is not one of them.

    Hopper overrated? The American Friend? Red Rock West? True Romance?

    Sharp, Film became an important art form before people realized that film was an important art form. Hence many great films have been lost forever. I’m probably behind the curve on video games, for similar reasons.

  32. Gravatar of mkt42 mkt42
    5. July 2020 at 12:15

    I agree with some of ee’s points: Ironman is a must-see, period. Also recommended is Black Panther, perhaps more for what it’s trying to do culturally; I can imagine that Scott wouldn’t like the film much but I think he’d find it interesting.

    I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, both 1 and 2; again Scott might not like them — they’re films based on comic books after all — but the quirky characters and humor made them fun to watch.

    However in the end I generally side with Scott against the Avengers movies. Ironman 2 was a waste of time. I almost certainly won’t see Guardians of the Galaxy 3 because seeing the first two was enough.

    And unless I’m forgetting one, those are the only movies in the series that I’ve seen, and I have absolutely no interest in watching the rest of the series.

    Partly for the reason that ee states: the need to invest precious time in watching what is now dozens of hours of movies just to keep up. But mainly because these movies are not that good. The best are worth a watch on their own, but I’m not going to watch sequel after sequel. There are other movies that are either better, or more original (i.e. not sequels or part of a series), or both.

    I do intend to see the most recent Spiderman movie, the reviews were very good. But it takes ecstatic reviews to induce me to go watch a superhero movie; I liked the Tobey Maguire Spiderman well enough but the second one once again demonstrated the principle of diminishing marginal returns and I haven’t felt compelled to see any Spiderman movies since then. Except the last one (and I guess the animated one got excellent reviews too so I might see that).

  33. Gravatar of KevinK KevinK
    6. July 2020 at 05:53

    I started to watch Dreams once. I already knew that it was more swan-song than movie, but at the time lacked the patience to give it a chance. I think I left the screening after about 10 minutes. I think I’m more patient and respectful now. As for Beat Takeshi, ‘prolific’ is the term I see associated with him, not ‘great.’ The films of his I’ve seen strike me the way decent quality B-movies of yesteryear do.

    Hopper – most great actors seem to learn early on that less is more. Hopper seemed to operate on the premise that more is barely enough. Instead of submerging himself into the role, he turns the role into Dennis Hopper. I don’t know why, but there are certain actors who strike me as too transparent in what they’re doing as actors, to the point of distraction. Laurence Olivier and James Dean are two wildly different examples that come to mind – not that they couldn’t do good roles, but as often as not they couldn’t or wouldn’t sublimate themselves into the role. That said, I agree Hopper was good in True Romance, and I’ll see if I can find Red Rock West and The American Friend.

  34. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. July 2020 at 08:59

    Mkt42. People tell me the Chris Nolan Batman films were the best comic book films. I’ve seen them and enjoyed them. But I have no great desire to see more such films. Only the one with Heath Ledger was great.

    Kevin, I don’t want actors to completely submerge themselves into a role. It’s fine if they bring something of their persona (think Jack Nicholson, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart or John Wayne.)

  35. Gravatar of KevinK KevinK
    7. July 2020 at 11:27

    Scott, I actually agree with you. Submerge into a role wasn’t the right term. Part of it is that some actors consistently bring a specific energy/attitude/style/something to their roles, and whatever that thing is rubs me the wrong way. I find Hopper really annoying much of the time, plus he’s prone to overacting. Some of it is about modulation. Stewart, Bogart, Nicholson could all dial their energy up and down, and were able to mesh with other actors. Hopper just seems to do his thing, regardless of his fellow actors.

  36. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    7. July 2020 at 11:34

    “Dave Chappelle: Sticks and Stones (US) 3.5 I’d never seen this comedian before, and was impressed by his sneaky intelligence. Probably not politically correct, but then I’m too old to know how acceptable his jokes are in contemporary society.”

    There was some wailing and gnashing of the teeth by the wokester set over this one. I don’t think Chappelle cares. Actually if you’ve never seen a “Kings of Comedy” movie, that was certainly an eye-opener for me – the overlap between “what is funny to a black audience” and “politically correct” may not always be that easy to locate.

    You get an interesting look at Chappelle (and others, like Wyclef Jean) in the film “Block Party.”

    “Rushmore (US, 1998) 3.9 I can’t believe I’d never seen this film before. Just brilliant.”

    When the parka didn’t receive a special Oscar, I lost all respect for the Academy.

    “The Lady Eve (US, 1941) 3.8”

    Hubba hubba! Stanwyck is beyond amazing in this one. But what about that last half an hour? I haven’t gone back and watched this again, because I’m not sure that “maintaining my sanity” and “going along with that plot twist at the end of The Lady Eve” are compatible.

    “[MP] developed a new approach to comedy.”

    Aren’t people always claiming that they seem somewhat more “novel” than they really were, since a lot of the stuff from Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers and Cook & Moore (et al) wasn’t saved by the BBC, and now we can’t see it? Something like that. I love MP though.

    “Hopper overrated? The American Friend? Red Rock West? True Romance?”

    Basquiat? It’s a shame there wasn’t a sequel featuring Bruno & Andy.

    “Interestingly, while in Roxy Music he enjoyed living the life of the decadent rock star much more than did Bryan Ferry. (The opposite of what I would have expected.)”

    Check out the flamboyant attire Eno demonstrates on the first two Roxy albums, and the flamboyant music on his first two solo albums. Or the Bowie connection. Then consider the conservative look, and musical style, that Ferry quickly gravitated to. This was hiding in plain sight.

    IIRC, Eno found it hard to maintain the rock lifestyle – touring, singing, etc – and this influenced the pivot to the more quiet, ambient style. (There’s the famous “lying in the hospital bed” story). Maybe the film explains this, or maybe this is actually not true. His compatriot Fripp was apparently Mr. Decadent Rock Star too, in the early days, which his later appearance/demeanor would also seem to belie….

    “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Italy, 1966) 3.8 Even better than I remember it.”

    “Alan, You are probably right about Once Upon a Time in the West. I haven’t seen it in many decades.”

    Leone films beg for repeat viewings (as do all great films, actually). If you own copies of TGTBATU and OUATITW on disc, you’re all set (at least for a while). You can just watch these two, over and over, and dispense with watching all those other crappier films!

    Okay, I’m being (somewhat) facetious. But sheesh! Haven’t seen OUATITW in *decades*? Yeesh!

    (If the English language only had a few more “eesh” words, I could express my reaction more effectively, I think).

    “Late Spring (Japan, 1949) 4.0”

    How can people who appreciate Ozu – films that are quiet and subtle – also appreciate things like “The Rules of the Game,” where the lack of subtlety seems like the only point? I think people should decide on one approach or the other.

    The problem with Ozu is, how many 4.0 films did he make? Maybe for him you could make a special grading system from 3.95 to 4.05 so that you can make distinctions – this one’s a 3.98, that one’s a 4.03, and so on.

    (Okay, somewhat facetious again – but not much).

    “Rushmore (US, 1998) 3.9 I can’t believe I’d never seen this film before. Just brilliant.”

    *I* would think that most people who love Rushmore would also like or love Twenty Four Hour Party People. But I’m also something of a Factory Records fan, which may influence my love of the latter film unduly.

    Two more films that reward repeat viewings, in my view. But I am probably alone on an uncrowded island with respect to this point. (And to be honest, I often miss a whole lot the first time, which is not so much a problem for other people).

  37. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. July 2020 at 07:52

    Kevin, Yeah, that’s a fair point. Hopper’s perhaps more one dimensional than those other actors. On the other hand he was talented in many other ways, including as an artist (photographer). So in that sense he was a multidimensional person.

    anon/portly, I have very fond memories of watching Richard Prior back in the early 1980s. Does anyone know how his humor holds up today?

    The parka comment went over my head

    On comedy—sure there are always precursors. But MP moved the envelope.

    Seven letter long acronyms seem overkill. Why not just say “Once Upon etc. . . . ”

    I can appreciate both Ozu and Rules of the Game for the same reason I can appreciate Vermeer and Rubens. They are both great movies, in their own way.

    I have been rewatching a lot of films recently. Just rewatched the great “I Know Where I’m Going”

  38. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    10. July 2020 at 11:15

    I was referring to the parka Max in Rushmore wears during the interval when he’s attending public school. It’s an unusually expressive garment.

    I have a friend who blogs at Fistful of Leone. We always use the acronyms, it’s just what I’m used to.

    I’m totally out of touch on film. Check out this Yglesias tweet.


    He’s seen 49 out of 50! I’ve seen 20. (Plus chunks of a few more on TV).

  39. Gravatar of Matthias Görgens Matthias Görgens
    13. July 2020 at 00:07

    Scott, you obviously had a lot of time in your hands.

    If you are reading this, I would also recommend watching all of the Studio Ghibli movies. Many of them are primarily aimed at children and teenagers, but they still appeal to an adult audience. (You probably already watched them, given your opinion of Ghost in the Shell.)

    If you ever want to give Video Games a try, Her Story might be interesting to you. No reflexes or coordination required. It’s a game about piecing together what happened from police interviews with a suspect / witness. Perhaps it has some aspects of movies like Rashomon.

    Both of these are also recommendations for anyone else on the blog.

    If you have a soft spot for German cinema, Welt am Draht is a 1973 version of the Matrix with more thinking and fewer guns. Very inspired casting and camera work, too. (For the casting: the director managed to many great actors on a TV budget by picking older actors who had fallen out of fashion at the time.)

  40. Gravatar of Benji C Benji C
    14. July 2020 at 12:10

    “Chaplin is upstaged by the cutest kid in the history of cinema.”

    You might be surprised to learn that Jackie Coogan, the kid from The Kid, grew up to play Uncle Fester on The Addams Family – I know I was when I first found out!


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