It’s a pretty good animated period drama, but if you watched if before the others, you’d say what’s the big idea with this Ghibli thing, their movies aren’t so hot. At least “pretty good” puts it above what I’ve heard about Tales From Earthsea from the number one Goro hater in my office. But it’s missing something, the smoothness and refinement of motion. When people turn their heads it doesn’t look so much like a person turning their head as it does progressive images of a head turned at different angles – the flow is wrong. Or I dunno, maybe my blu-ray was bad, but this came out after Ponyo, and some of the stuff in Ponyo is leagues beyond. The old timey piano music on the soundtrack was different, anyway.

It’s the ol’ story of kids saving their clubhouse from demolition by fatcats – in this case it’s a creaky old multi-story house on a high school campus where all the boys run their after-school organizations, and the school board is demolishing it to build a nicer one, so the girls pitch in to clean the place up and show off its value. Shun runs the school paper, Umi runs a boarding house, and they think they might be in love, but then see photos of each other’s dead fathers and it’s the same guy so they’re worried they might be siblings, then this gets resolved and it turns out their fathers were just friends so they are free to do whatever.

A decent doppelganger thriller with an anticlimactic ending, our lead Alice challenging her alter-ego Lola to a live simon-says, and Alice gets more likes by smashing her nose against a table, so Lola hands over her account password and presumably dematerializes. Kind of a neat creepy concept in the meantime though, combining the phenomenon of “cam girls” (girls with live online video shows, often nude, competing for tips) and the problem of not knowing who online is a fake/clone/bot/ghost. Great music, too.

Star Madeline Brewer is from the Black Mirror episode with military vs. “roaches.” Her lead customer/stalker Tinker (“I can usually tell when a girl’s gonna be copied”) is Patch Darragh, a doctor in The Visit. Her brother Jordan is Devin Druid, Jesse Eisenberg’s younger brother in Louder Than Bombs, and her mom is Melora Walters of Magnolia who I guess I don’t recognize anymore. Watched on streaming, and it was too pixelated, but since it’s a movie about streaming video, I’m going to allow it.

2018 Movies I Missed:

I made a “complete” list of movies that played somewhere I could reach (Nebraska, Atlanta, blu-ray, streaming) in 2018 that I wanna watch on letterboxd. I’m not going to forget the ones on everybody else’s year-end lists, or the latest by major directors, but here are some others I don’t want to miss:

Taming the Horse
Dirty Computer
The Work
The Wolf House
Those Who Are Fine
Happy as Lazzaro
The Tale
Under the Silver Lake
The Woman Who Left
Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts
Djon Africa
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Le fort des fous
Good Luck
Lu Over the Wall
The Nothing Factory
An Elephant Sitting Still
Classical Period
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling

SHOCKtober 2018 Post Mortem:

I previously made a couple of must-see horror lists from 2009 and 2010 here and I collected a few more lists in 2015 here. It’s getting so I’ve seen almost all the titles on the latest “100 best horror films ever made” lists, but here are some I’m still missing, from all around the internet…

Slant list 2018:
Blood and Black Lace (1964)
Deathdream (1972)
The Hitcher (1986)
Opera (1987)

Indiewire 2018:
The Ghost Ship (1943)
The Lodger (1944)
Hangover Square (1945)
Village of the Damned (1960)
Viy (1967)
Messiah of Evil (1973)
Tales from the Hood (1995)

Indiewire Underappreciated Horrors 2018:
The Entity (1982)
Wild Zero (2000)
The Unseeable (2006)
P2 (2007)
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
We Are The Flesh (2016)
Bear With Us (2016)
Don’t Breathe (2016)
The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

Roger Ebert Underrated Horrors:
The House That Screamed (1969)
The Company of Wolves (1984)
Razorback (1984)
Parents (1989)

Time Out’s 2012 and 2016 lists:
Threads (1984)
The Vanishing (1988)
Lake Mungo (2008)

Edgar Wright’s list:
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Theater of Blood (1973)
Death Line (1973)
Frailty (2001)

Older Slant list that went to 200:
Witchfinder General (1968)
Wake in Fright (1971)
Blood Spattered Bride (1972)
Shock Waves (1977)
The Entity (1982)
The Church (1989)

Selections from my own list:
Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970)
Beauty and the Beast (1978)
Boxing Helena (1993)
The Happening (2008)
The Baron (2011)
Over Your Dead Body (2014)
Unfriended (2014)
The Devil’s Candy (2015)
The Shallows (2016)
Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (2004)
Puppet Master parts 9-11 (Axis trilogy, 2010-2017)

BBC Foreign-Language Film Poll 2018:

Hooray, another one of these. Original list is here.

A selection of movies from the Top 100 I need to (re)watch

Landscape in the Mist (Theo Angelopoulos, 1988)
In the Heat of the Sun (Jiang Wen, 1994)
Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou, 1991)
Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman, 1973)
Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1962)
To Live (Zhang Yimou, 1994)
Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)
Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988)
Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige, 1993)
Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

And some enticing selections from the individual lists:

Macario (Roberto Gavaldón, 1960)
Sentimental Education (Júlio Bressane, 2013)
Macunaíma (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1969)
A Chinese Odyssey: Part Two: Cinderella (Jeffrey Lau, 1995)
Things of the Aimless Wanderer (Kivu Ruhorahoza, 2015)
Lebanon (Samuel Maoz, 2009)
My Son, the Hero (Ismael Rodríguez, 1961)
Year of the Devil (Petr Zelenka, 2002)
Last Night (Kamal El Sheikh, 1964)
Chronicle of a Boy Alone (Leonardo Favio, 1965)
Pyaasa (Guru Dutt, 1957)
New Dragon Gate Inn (Raymond Lee and Ching Siu-tung, 1992)
The Adventure of Three Reporters aka Miss Mend (Boris Barnet and Fyodor Otsep, 1926)
Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
Big Green Valley (Merab Kokochashvili, 1967)
Falling Leaves (Otar Iosseliani, 1966)
Salt for Svanetia (Mikheil Kalatozishvili, 1930)
Mr. Long (Sabu, 2017)
Angel’s Egg (Mamoru Oshii, 1985)
Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (Shun’ya Itô, 1973)
Green Snake (Tsui Hark, 1993)
Ariel (Aki Kaurismäki, 1998)
The Iron Rose (Jean Rollin, 1973)
Girl with Hyacinths (Hasse Ekman, 1950)
The Bitter Stems (Fernando Ayala, 1956)
The Last Family (Jan P Matuszynski, 2016)
Fehérlófia / Son of the White Mare (Marcell Jankovics, 1981)
Red Wood Pigeon (Nanni Moretti, 1989)
The Disenchantment (Jaime Chávarri, 1976)
Little White Dove (Raúl Ruiz, 1973)
Udzinarta mze (Temur Babluani, 1992)
Cargo 200 (Alexei Balabanov, 2007)
Salto (Tadeusz Konwicki, 1965)
Reconstruction (Lucian Pintilié, 1970)
East Palace West Palace (Zhang Yuan, 1996)
The Heroic Trio (Johnnie To, 1993)
The Illumination (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1973)
Fruit of Paradise (Věra Chytilová, 1969)
Teza (Haile Gerima, 2008)
A Hole of My Own Making (Tomu Uchida, 1955)
The Graceful Brute (Yûzô Kawashima, 1962)
Still Life (Sohrab Shahid Saless, Houshang Baharlou and Morteza Momayyez, 1974)
Entranced Earth (Glauber Rocha, 1967)
The Outlaw and His Wife (Victor Sjöström, 1918)
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Elio Petri, 1970)
Sinbad (Zoltán Huszárik, 1971)
The Things of Life (Claude Sautet, 1970)
A Hometown in Heart (Yoon Yong-kyu, 1949)
The Eternal Breasts (Kinuyo Tanaka, 1955)
Long Arm of the Law (Johnny Mak, 1984)

50 Under 50 Redux

Six years ago I got excited about Cinema Scope’s 50 Under 50 list and made vague plans to watch a film or two by each of the listed directors. I lost steam on this a while back, but still ended up watching about 40 movies because of one magazine issue, so it seems worth revisiting.

Twelve of the most obvious directors, and the films of theirs I had seen, were listed on the original page (and I forget why I was angry with Film Comment back then, but I resubscribed to it and Filmmaker last year) – here are the others, with links to movies I watched, unlinked are the ones I’ve meant to watch.

Pretty well-covered:

Paul Thomas Anderson
Johan Grimonprez
Yorgos Lanthimos
Matteo Garrone
Ben Wheatley
Ben Rivers
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Maren Ade
Bertrand Bonello
Albert Serra
Lucretia Martel
Paul WS Anderson
Lisandro Alonso

In progress:

Azazel Jacobs: The GoodTimesKid / Momma’s Man / Terri / The Lovers
Miguel Gomes: Tabu / Our Beloved Month of August / Arabian Nights
Carlos Reygadas: Battle In Heaven / Silent Light / Post Tenebras Lux
Andrew Bujalski: Computer Chess / Results / Support the Girls
Ben Russell: A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness / Let Each One Go Where He May
Denis Cote: Bestiaire / Vic + Flo Saw a Bear / Joy of Man’s Desiring / Boris Without Beatrice
Joao Pedro Rodrigues: Last Time I Saw Macao / The Ornithologist / To Die Like a Man
David Gatten: Hardwood Process / Secret History of the Dividing Line
Wang Bing: Coal Money / Dead Souls / West of the Tracks / Three Sisters / Ta’ang
Xavier Beauvois: Of Gods and Men / Le petit lieutenant
Zhao Liang: a couple of shorts / Crime & Punishment / Petition / Behemoth
Corneliu Porumboiu: 12:08 East of Bucharest / When Evening Falls on Bucharest / The Treasure / Infinite Football
Raya Martin: Independencia / Buenas noches, España / The Great Cinema Party
Nicolas Pereda: Greatest Hits / Summer of Goliath / Perpetuum Mobile
Cristi Puiu: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu / Sieranevada
Hirokazu Kore-eda: Still Walking / After The Storm / Shoplifters

Still unseen:

Jennifer Reeves: The Time We Killed / a lot more shorts
Liu Jiayin: Oxhide / Oxhide 2
Matt Porterfield: Putty Hill / Hamilton
Pema Tseden: The Search
Romuald Karmakar: Deathmaker / Nightsongs
Serge Bozon: La France / Madame Hyde
Sergei Dvortsevoy: Tulpan
Sharon Lockhart: Pine Flat
Ulrich Kohler: Sleeping Sickness / In My Room

Top 15 of the year:

1. First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
2. Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson)
3. Bisbee ’17 (Robert Greene)
4. Madeline’s Madeline (Josephine Decker)
5. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
6. Burning (Lee Chang-dong)
7. Zama (Lucrecia Martel)
8. Mission: Impossible 6: Fallout (Christopher McQuarrie)
9. The Wild Boys (Bertrand Mandico)
10. Let the Corpses Tan (Cattet & Forzani)
11. The Rider (Chloé Zhao)
12. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos)
13. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)
14. Faces Places (Agnès Varda & JR)
15. The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles)

Next 15 – maybe not all-timers, but I’d watch any one of ’em with you right now:

16. The Night is Short, Walk on Girl (Masaaki Yuasa)
17. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross)
18. Blaze (Ethan Hawke)
19. Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley)
20. The Challenge (Yuri Ancarani)
21. Western (Valeska Grisebach)
22. Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
23. Makala (Emmanuel Gras)
24. Resolution and The Endless (Benson & Moorhead)
25. Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)
26. Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda)
27. Crime + Punishment (Stephen Maing)
28. The Green Fog (Maddin & Johnson)
29. The Wandering Soap Opera (Raoul Ruiz & Valeria Sarmiento)
30. The Girl Without Hands (Sébastien Laudenbach)

Late-breaking unranked addition: Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse

15 honorable mentions, in viewing order … the ones I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, but I thought about a good bit in the weeks after watching:

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)
Escapes (Michael Almereyda)
Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison)
Primas (Laura Bari)
The Task (Leigh Ledare)
Shirkers (Sandi Tan)
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler)
Annihilation (Alex Garland)
Avengers 3: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo)
Hereditary (Ari Aster)
Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)
The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen)
Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino)

Favourite Recent (last ~5 years) Movies watched in 2018:

1. American Made (2017, Doug Liman)

2. Kate Plays Christine (2016, Robert Greene)

3. Three by Hong Sang-soo:
Our Sunhi (2013)
On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)
Yourself and Yours (2016)

4. Butter on the Latch (2013, Josephine Decker)

5. Columbus (2017, Kogonada)

6. Blade of the Immortal (2017, Takashi Miike)

Favourite Older Movies watched in 2018:

1. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999, Isao Takahata)
2. Throne of Blood (1957, Akira Kurosawa)
3. Coeur Fidele (1923, Jean Epstein)
4. A Poem is a Naked Person (1974, Les Blank)
5. The Sect (1991, Michele Soavi)
6. Bright Star (2009, Jane Campion)
7. Chambre en ville, Une (1982, Jacques Demy)
8. The Devil (1972, Andrzej Zulawski)
9. Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1968, Nagisa Oshima)
10. Millennium Actress (2001, Satoshi Kon)

Favourite Rewatches of 2018:

1. Rashômon (1950, Akira Kurosawa)
At the Alamo with Katy

2. A Zed & Two Noughts (1985, Peter Greenaway)
3. Innerspace (1987, Joe Dante)
4. The Dead Zone (1983, David Cronenberg)
First time seeing these in HD, and in many years.

5. Mission: Impossible (1996, Brian De Palma)

6. Cure (1997, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

7. Rumble Fish (1983, Francis Ford Coppola)

8. The Beyond (1981, Lucio Fulci)

Favourite Shorts of 2018:

1. Me the Terrible (2012, Josephine Decker)
Decker also made my top-5 new movies and top-10 recent movies lists, so is probably the discovery of the year.

2. Bao (2018, Domee Shi)

3. The Burden (2017, Niki Lindroth Von Bahr) (oops, forgot to write this up)

4. The Stranger and Six Cents in the Pocket (Ricky D’Ambrose)

5. Winnie-the-Pooh and Winnie-the-Pooh Pays a Visit (Fyodor Khitruk)

6. Heat of a Thousand Suns (1965, Pierre Kast)

7. Blanket Statement No. 1 & 2 and Curses (Jodie Mack)

8. Muta (2011, Lucrecia Martel)

9. Love’s Refrain (2016, Paul Clipson)

10. Pure Flix and Chill (2018, Anthony Simon)

Favourite TV Shows of 2018:

I still can’t talk to anyone about TV shows because I like to catch up with four-year-old seasons of comedies while everyone else is watching the very latest dramas – even in Atlanta where Dream Corp LLC billboards float above Ponce and the Connector, I get oblivious frowns when I mention the show.

Tales from the Tour Bus season 1

The Good Place season 2

BoJack Horseman season 2
Big Train season 2
Archer season 6
Bob’s Burgers season 2

Documentary Now season 1
Who Is America season 1

Master of None season 2
Review season 2

Honorable mentions to The Great British Bake Off and Dream Corp LLC

Unfinished and Abandoned in 2018 (in no order):

Episode of the Sea
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (series)
The Boy and the World
Pelican Dreams
Les Cousins
The latest season of Kimmy Schmidt
Wild Wild Country
that Martin Short and Steve Martin special
The Breadwinner
The Deuce

Happy New Movie Year!

Pretty much the same comments as last year (fell behind on the blog, made lists of movies to watch and didn’t watch the movies) but this time I have better excuses. Anyway, still watched a few movies, and some of them were great, and even the ones that weren’t great were pretty great because watching movies itself is great, so three thumbs up for 2018.

Another good year of LNKarno and SHOCKtober and True/False. I also set up a new movie database, which only kinda sorta integrates with my old one but has a different purpose, and maybe I’ll merge them eventually, but anyway it’s not publically accessible yet, nor maybe ever will be, I’m just using it to determine what new things are worth watching.

Favourite 2018 Movies
2018 Favourites: Recent & Older Movies & Rewatches
2018 Favourites: Shorts & TV
2018 Must-sees & Other Lists

Archer season 6 (2015)

Reboot season, back in their spy agency doing spy stuff. Dealing with Archer and Lana’s baby (and their getting back together towards the end), the return of Barry and Katya and Christian Slater, lotta betrayals and fuckups – the usual. As always I tried to watch an episode a week, then one a day, then six all at once. Enjoyed the attempts to bring back retired catchphrases – this show has the best writing. Cheers to Jared and Mike and Ron and the others.

Review season 2 (2015)

Forrest loses his new girlfriend after blackmailing her, experiences a glory hole, loses his next girlfriend trying to join the mile high club, burns down his dad’s house pretending to be a little person, loses his next girlfriend to a dangerous cult that he started, gets the perfect body, gets shot by his dad “doing a William Tell,” gets lost on a rowboat and buried alive, kills a guy, gets in a violent prison pillow fight, watches his imaginary friend get murdered, continues to get in trouble with his ex-wife, and finally “believes in a conspiracy” that his producer Grant (James Urbaniak) is trying to destroy his life, and rushes him off a bridge to both of their presumed deaths, but we’ll see in season 3. I enjoyed it more than season 1, this time knowing from the start that Forrest is massively deluded about the importance of his show and will sabotage himself and everyone he supposedly cares about for the sake of a review.

Bob’s Burgers season 2 (2012)

Home sick and unable to do much of anything, this made me forget all troubles for a while. Bob is involved in two hostage situations, buys a food truck and gets addicted to video gaming. The kids get lost in an abandoned taffy factory, avoid schoolwork and sabotage Bob’s guest segment on a local talk show. Too many big guests to list, but Megan Mullally stood out as both Linda’s sister and a knockoff Tori Amos.

Looking up the directors on IMDB I discovered a Mike Judge show called The Goode Family, which sounds intriguing, and makes me wonder why I’ve apparently never looked up Mike Judge on IMDB… oh no, he cowrote the new Johnny Knoxville movie.

Dream Corp LLC season 1 (2016)

A dream therapist (Jon Gries, Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite) runs an extremely ramshackle operation, recruits his patient from the first episode (Nick Rutherford, a SNL and Axe Cop writer) to be another “doctor”. There’s a patient-of-the-week and various operational and interpersonal problems and low-rent sci-fi scenarios, with rotoscoped dream sequences, and it’s all pretty wonderful. Also featuring Stephanie Allynne (One Mississippi), Ahmed Bharoocha of Comedy Central show Dead Kevin, Mark Proksch of The Office U.S., and original Office writer Stephen Merchant as the robot. Guests included Mary Lynn Rajskub, June Squibb (Nebraska, About Schmidt), Dan Gill (Creative Control), and the voice of Liam Neeson as itself.

Who Is America? (2018)

“37 percent of lesbians dress like Charlie Chaplin. Why? We don’t know.” Sacha Baron Cohen has a new set of disguises, waves a beeping pervert detector at Roy Moore, makes murder jokes with OJ Simpson, and gets a GA state rep to resign. Essential television.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 season 11 (2017)

Good to have the show back. I watched while falling asleep over about 70 separate nights, so it’s all half-awake fragmented bits, and I was already thinking of rewatching but hey look, season 12 just came out. I don’t find the voices distinctive enough, and someone rightly pointed out that they’re overly chatty and could stand to cut a few jokes. Callbacks to jokes from the classic episodes, nice guest appearances and host segments, with at least one all-timer musical number (“every country has a monster”). Movie highlight was probably the two-part Wizards of the Lost Kingdom.

Apocalypse: a Bill Callahan tour film (2012, Hanly Banks)

Either this is one of the best concert docs I’ve ever seen, or I was just in an extremely Bill Callahan mood. Watched the night he performed at Hanukkah, then again the next day – an Apocalypse-era concert, each song (for the first half?) with a different visual treatment, and short interview or tour-life segments between songs.

Flight of the Conchords: Live in London (2018)

Another fine musical hour – coincidentally, Bill Callahan doc director Hanly Banks worked on the Conchords TV series. I’ve conveniently forgotten most of the songs from the show and albums, so they all seemed new to me.

Documentary Now season 1 (2015)

Such a weird niche idea, I can’t believe it’s allowed to exist. The writers/directors, including lead actors Armisen and Hader, mostly come from SNL.

A Grey Gardens knockoff devolves into found-footage horror. A 1980’s TV doc about the true story of a Nanook-like early doc uncovers some Forgotten Silver-like cinematic inventions. A Vice-like publication keeps sending clueless reporters to their deaths seeking a Mexican drug kingpin. A Thin Blue Line-like investigation into a botched murder trial includes fabulous slow-motion re-enactment footage. An Iceland town holds a quaint Al Capone festival (this was actually filmed in Iceland). Finally their masterpiece, in the vein of A Mighty Wind or the Josh Fenderman story, soft-rock legends The Blue Jean Committee.

Kunuk Uncovered:

The Eye Doesn’t Lie:

Only a couple minutes after Buster Scruggs ended, the opening titles of this movie announced that it’s a story told in six chapters – what are the odds? Unexpected suicides in both movies too. It’s not that I wanted a faithful remake, since the plot is the weakest thing about Argento’s Suspiria, but what made them turn a bonkers Italian horror about witches in a dance studio into a 2.5-hour movie set in Berlin during the Baader-Meinhof hijacking, with long sections about a psychiatrist who lost his wife in the Holocaust? What’s the meaning of Tilda Swinton playing both Evil Mothers in charge of the studio and also the psychiatrist? Nice plot twist with Dakota Johnson (the older sister in Bad Times at the El Royale) appearing to be the fresh-meat new girl with especially good dance-murder skills, later revealed to be the reborn Mother Suspiriorum come to cleanse the school by killing one or both Tildas. I mean, this was a lot of movie for a single weeknight, so I think that’s what happened. I have mixed feelings, but pretty sure I need to keep watching all of Luca’s movies (this is my second of the year).

Chloe Grace is a paranoid escaped dancer in the opening scenes, then disappears forever, followed shortly by suspicious Olga, who gets gnarled up in the practice room. Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness) is the dancer who shows Dakota around, and Jessica Harper cameos as the psychiatrist’s dead wife. Most unexpected name in the credits: The Turin Horse cinematographer Fred Kelemen as one of the cops who Psych Tilda asks for help. Writer David Kajganich has also done a Body Snatchers remake and a Pet Sematary remake.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky compares it to “the movies Nicolas Roeg was making around the same time, confounding mosaics of predestination and psychoanalysis … It’s a movie where most of the characters are liminal figures, mid-phase between identities. It is packed with doors, mirrors, ceremonies, rehearsals, shared secrets, and make-up, suggesting commonalities between the backstage world and the supernatural through collage.”