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Thread: Summer 2022 diary of films seen but not reviewed

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    Summer 2022 diary of films seen but not reviewed

    Unreviewed - a summer list (to be continued)


    BENITO A. MARTINEZ OCASIO/AKA/BAD BUNNY AS "WOLF" IN BULLET TRAIN

    New summer movies I could not review or preferred not to. More will be added..

    BABYSITTER (Monia Chokri 2021). Again, like BULLET TRAIN, superficially clever, though nowhere on that production level: a hazy, self-satisfied candy-colored playing around with misogyny and male self-absorption focused on a man who writes a whole book, a bestseller, he hopes, instead of just apologizing, to atone for a rude recorded public kiss that gets him fired from his job. Jessica Kiang shows in her excellent, detailed Variety review that it just isn't as smart or hip as it thinks. She calls it "forced" and "haphazard." French Canadian.

    BULLET TRAIN ( David Leitch 2022). Facile train actioner full of clever flashbacks, onscreen titles, and slo-mo violence in a derivative style based on Guy Ritchie and various other undesirable models. Very slickly done and some admire it, but I do not see how you can take it seriously. It's too slick. All that saves it is Brad Pitt's laid-back persona as a hired assassin who wants to become a nice guy now. Brian Tyree Henry is in this, who plays Al/Paper Boi in "Atlanta." Not a worthy follow-up but who would know?

    CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH (Cooper Raiff 2022). I loved his simpler debut, SHITHOUSE (UK title FRESHMAN YEAR), but the slowness and excessive self-regard sink this sophomore effort about a young man (Raiff) who falls for older women and briefly gets a gig as a "party starter" at Bat and Bar Mitzvahs. Not a slog, since he plays and is a people-pleaser, just blah. People hate the title; I thought it was real smooth.

    COSTA BRAVA, LEBANON (Mounia Akl 2021). I missed the July 15 and 22, 2022 US release dates. But it seems too good not to review.

    I LOVE MY DAD (James Morosini 2022). No, I did review it, though I lost my review at first, then found it a day after its release on my second computer where I had not absent-mindedly copied over it. Maybe I shouldn't. It's generally thought to be "cringeworthy." But I still see something deserving a thread of sympathy since Morosini really was "catfished" (made a victim of fake-identity entrapment) by his father, and somehow they lived beyond it. Hard to take a clear stand on such a film.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-05-2022 at 10:17 PM.

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    YEAR OF THE DRAGON (Michael Cimino 1985). Watched because Criterion Channel is taking it off this month and I had never seen it. Spectacular, classic filmmaking from start to finish despite the racism, weak characterization, clichéd dialogue. It's the visuals and especially the big screen crowd scenes that sing. You can see why the French decorated Cimino and why Tarantino, who loved the final shootout sequence, made this one of his five favorite action films of its period. Dave Kehr's Chicago Reader short review:
    Police captain Mickey Rourke finds himself reliving his service in Vietnam when he takes on a Chinatown heroin racketeer (John Lone). Michael Cimino’s film (1985) gives full rein to his personal tics—Southeast Asia, male bonding, mass social ritual (no less than three funeral scenes in this one)—as well as his usual weaknesses—lumpy narration, rhetorical inflation, wooden dialogue—while staying well within the standard outline of the violent urban thriller. Cimino’s talent is at least 50 percent hot air, but the part that is not—his superb feel for movement across the Panavision frame—seems especially valuable. Say what you will about his overstuffed, overdetailed images, they at least represent a notion of cinema, as opposed to the flat television aesthetic that dominates Hollywood, that no film lover can afford to ignore.
    Yes, whatever the faults, this feels like glorious cinema. Yet Janet Maslin found much to object to in her 8/16/85 NY Times review and later, at greater leisure, Pauline Kael slowly tore it into little pieces in the 9/9/85 New Yorker. They were prejudiced, this that was the blindness of the moment, and they missed the artistry later assessments (as of Days of Heaven) have uncovered. Cimino's depiction of NYC Chinese crime syndicates is superior to other such treatments, with a lot of dialogue in Chinese, for one thing. Even back then everyone agreed that John Lone is impeccable as Mickey Rourke's sleek, steely young Triad boss adversary, Joey Tai. See the TRAILER
    for a lavish 2016 French "Ultra Collector "limited edition Blu-ray+DVD "coffret" (yours for 284.19 €) that includes a 208-page book.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-17-2022 at 11:33 PM.

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    BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (Justin Lim 2002). Yes, minority people don't have to represent themselves as exemplary, but this goes boldly to the opposite extreme. See the passionate reply to a viewer complaint at Sundance by Roger Ebert, a big defender of this film, who yelled at a post-screening audience critic: "Asian Americans have the right to be whatever the hell they want to be. They do not have to 'represent' their people." I saw this when it came out, drawn to the story of wealthy Orange County Asian American high school honor students who, out of boredom with their "model minority" status, "progress from cheating to theft to murder" (Chicago Reader, Rosenbaum) . Whether or not this is a great film, it's an iconic one. Rewatched 8/22/2022 on Criterion Channel. Also watched a 2017 video of a SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival seminar with Lim and the main actors 15 years later discussing the special experience of making BETTER LUCK TOMORROW and how it changed things for them. "We would like to have our 'MOONLIGHT' one cast member says. They haven't had theirs yet. OLD TRAILER. NEW TRAILER.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-05-2022 at 10:20 PM.

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    THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF BOREDOM (George Miller). That's not the real title but describes the feeling of watching "narratology" professor Tilda Swinton and djinn-from-a-bottle Idris Elba crammed into a needlessly posh Turkish hotel room (analogous to the impossibly posh London house for a professor she later returns to) while a lot of glitteringly exotic but ultimately rather tedious tales unfold as djinn-life flashbacks, using gooey, monotonous CGI. while Tilda and Idris continue to sit around in white bathrobes in the hotel room. Into this static basic plot situation Miller, a brilliant action filmmaker, can't inject even a fraction of the imagination and excitement Apichatpong Weerasethakul achieves with a much lower budget using a much less stereotypical version of Tilda in MEMORIA. This new movie is based on a story collection by A.S. Byatt . See Bonnie Johnson's comparison in the LA Times explaining what essential elements the film leaves out from the book: it emerges that while in Johnson's view the djinn's stories are gorgeously told in the film, the professor is reduced to a dry hull and the sexual element has been excised. If you like the idea of a djinn's life history and "narratology" - a celebration of 1001 Nights-style storytelling - I suggest you read "Dunyazadiad" in John Barth's three-part book Chimera. The film opened Aug. 26, 2022. Watched at Albany Twin with three other people. Metacritic rating: 60%.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-05-2022 at 11:54 AM.

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    TOP GUN: MAVERICK ( Joseph Kosinski) As reboots of 37-year-old movies go this is a good one. I mildly enjoyed seeing Tom Cruise return to the scene of his greatest triumph with a noble cameo from the seriously ailing Val Kilmer as Mav's mentor and protector, "Ice." At 60 Tom still has the pizazz and the smile to make the absurd courage believable, and his role nicely acknowledges, does not shirk, his age. There is movie magic in the daredevil flight sequences. The filmmakers just about manage to make the lightening maneuvers comprehensible to the ordinary viewer, even if it's hard to believe them or believe in them. The machismo and the militarism are alienating and seem out of date. Miles Teller is a blank (in a key role) and has a silly mustache, and Jon Hamm is just thick-necked bluster. The original seemed better, more three-dimensional: probably it was the reverse. I am really tired of the terminally unsubtle kind of character Ed Harris plays so well. Metacritic 78%.



    THE GOOD BOSS (Fernando León de Aranoa) Javier Bardem shines as the ironically described " El buen patrón," the smug, self-satisfied head of a provincial scale factory he inherited and which he dominates, pretending to love his employees like family when he merely uses them and throws them away when he feels like it, and will do anything to get one more "best factory" award. Screenplay issues mar the material. There's too much plot or too little. This could have been honed down into a sharper sex comedy or expanded further into a mini-series about labor and management. Nobody is likable here; everybody is at least mildly obnoxious, and it's not very funny. The movie pushes class and race and gender buttons, but it's unclear why it was such a huge success in Spain, beating out Almodóvar's PARALLEL MOTHERS for local awards. Metacritic rating 65%. Watched with a huge crowd of two dozen people, probably there for the A/C on Labor Day.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-05-2022 at 10:54 PM.

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    Claire Denis. Since this turned into a binge of watching all the director's films that I could get my hands on, I moved it over to a separate thread called Claire Denis Revisited.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 10-04-2022 at 11:47 AM.

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    Two by Agnieszka Holland.


    MARINA GOLOVINE, GREGOIRE COLIN IN OLIVIER OLIVIER

    OLIVIER OLIVIER (1992). In French. Not seen since the nineties, this haunting tale of a conflicted provincial family and disappeared boy is the earliest role (nearly) of Grégoire Colin, around 16, as the boy six years later, who's been living as a gay hustler, who a Paris cop thinks is the disappeared Olivier. Is he or isn't he the lost Olivier? Holland winds things up rather quickly. A great story rather than a great movie. Colin has a teasing, pleasing quality. Still rather small, he flits through the film lightly. A sort-of followup to Holland's EUROPA EUROPA (1990) (in German) about a young man in living among the Nazis during WWII who conceals the fact that he's Jewish. On Amazon Prime.

    EUROPA EUROPA (1990). In German, Polish and Russian. Originally watched this in the nineties, then later OLIVIER, OLIVIER. Marco Hofschneider (whose good looks, rosy cheeks and ruby lips are the key to his success) plays the young Jewish con man (in the memoir of Solomon Perel) who wants to become a movie actor, and after all his family seem tomhave been killed after escaping from Germany to Poland, winds up posing as a goy to escape Nazi persecution, being in a Stalinist school and learning Russian, being an interpreter for the Nazis in Russia, then through crazy but dangerous luck, back in Germany in an elite Nazi school that's a much tougher test of his deception than the front. Solly is a much more fully developed character than Grégoire Colin's wispy "Olivier," a true story that with its voiceover always seems sort of a lark. Born in Warsaw in 1945, Holland had divided her life between France, Poland, and the US so these two stories suited her background. As stories they are well told, especially this one, but they're not particularly notable for their psychological depth. These are probably my favorites of her films, though I also liked TOTAL ECLIPSE, with Leo DiCaprio, another attractive youth, very bold as Arthur Rimbaud.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-14-2022 at 03:24 PM.

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    THE SIENT TWINS (Agnieszka Smoczynska 2022). Now is the time for me to regret my not being in NYC: the NYFF starts tomorrow and runs to the middle of October. Instead this afternoon I went to Landmark's Albany Twin, had buttered popcorn, the reliable thing, and watched (ironically?) THE SILENT TWINS. It announces at the end the said twins (played by non-twin actresses) wrote extensively and kept many journals and notebooks which were used, well, extensively in the movie. That’s the trouble. It has no imagination of its own. A drab, dreary piece one constantly imagines oneself watching years from now on TV, which could have been from almost any dreary time, though mostly set in the early eighties. This “astounding true story” has a deservedly lukewarm Metascore of 60%. (My enjoyable recent watches - of which I've written reviews - have been screeners from the Mill Valley Film Festival: the tremendously upbeat, fun documentary about rural kids in Uruguay WE DREAM OF ROBOTS/SONAR ROBOTS (Pablo Casacuberta 2022) and the distinctive little indie feature road movie PROVO by Emma Thatcher out of Chicago looking at Mormons. You'll find these in the Mill Valley Film Valley 2022 festival thread. I will go back to Claire Denis shortly.


    LETITIA WRIGHT, TAMARA LAWRENCE IN THE SILENT TWINS
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 10-07-2022 at 01:25 AM.

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    MOONAGE DAYDREAM (Brett Morgan 2022). In his rave review written after the Cannes premiere Peter Bradshaw calls this film "a glorious celebratory montage of archive material, live performance footage, Bowie’s own experimental video art and paintings, movie and stage work and interviews with various normcore TV personalities with whom Bowie is unfailingly polite, open and charming." His language is articulate and elegant too. The exploration of multifaceted creativity and daring to be different and androgynous could inspire many. The images are gloriously psychedelic, the sound spectacular. But it's visually sometimes all a bit of a letdown after the early, stunning "alien" Ziggy Stardust phase. Afterward there is a lot of Bowie's questioning and later of his seize-the-day positivity. A hundred and forty minutes is a lot of David Bowie without any private, non "artist" side or relations with other people. Toward the end it all begins to sound like a motivational lecture. Surely better in a theater - if there are a lot of enthused fellow-viewers, which there weren't at my 4:05 p.m. 10/6/22 Landmark Albany Twin show where only half a dozen showed up (a big problem). At home, when the critical raves fade, this will be mostly for Bowie or rock god completists. I like him, but I'm just not into his music or his prancing around or his eccentric costumes that much. Rock docs I liked more: METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER (Berlinger, Sinofsky 2004), which is as long as this; NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS (Jonathan Demme 2012), a trim 87 mins. For a much more thorough, intelligent and appreciative description of Brett Morgan's "glorious celebratory montage" see A.O. Scott.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 10-07-2022 at 02:29 AM.

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    AMSTERDAM (David O. Russell 2022). It fails to live up to the romantic Hemingwayesque WWI opening of the odd three comrades, the beautiful mysterious nurse, the half-Jewish future Park Avenue doctor, and the Black future lawyer, and in fact loses touch with it. Years later a woman dies getting pushed under a car and the doctor and the lawyer have to prove they didn't do it - winding up re-connecting with the former nurse in the process - but it all gets lost in the details and the faltering pace. I could expect anything of Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington, as that trio. They're all engaging and good, especially Bale. Sadly, they get nothing. Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Shannon, and Mike Myers are almost unrecognizable, and Rami Malek escapes from weirdness into posh. Robert DiNiro blends in nicely. But so what? The screenplay wastes it all. Went to this even though it got 47% on Metacritic and I got my reward. I'm a fan of Russell, giving him points for going to my college, as did Jeffrey Wright and David Foster Wallace. But it's not just the school tie. I mean, FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, THREE KINGS, THE FIGHTER, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and AMERICAN HUSTLE were all great. There's been a falling off in the nine years since that. I was hoping for individual scenes to be fun, to enjoy the A-List cast, who include Alessandro Nivola, Chris Rock, Taylor Swift, Zoe Saldana, Anya Taylor-Joy, et al., but they were just awkward, or not distinctive enough. Watched 10/9/22 at Century Hilltop 16, Richmond, California but walked out midway, my departure hastened by annoyance with scattered ticket holders with limited audience skills. An announcement before the feature for post-Covid viewers reminding them that they're not at home didn't sink in for everybody, or they came late and missed it.

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    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 10-09-2022 at 09:57 PM.

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