Happy to see that much of the motion in these motion-paintings involves snow or animals – in fact, when there are humans in a scene, they’re the only things that don’t come alive. The visuals sometimes remind of The Mill and the Cross, and sometimes you can’t tell they’re based on still photos at all.

Here’s me, pointlessly taking stills of motion versions of stills:

Crows are prominent. Rare is the scene without any birds in it. The movie is as attuned to outdoor bird behavior as I am, always wondering what the crows and ducks and sandpipers are up to. Whenever there are birds seen through a window we hear opera. Not all the animals survive… tense music in frame 5 before a deer gets shot, and there are more bird fatalities in this than in The Lighthouse. In the most narrative scene, a seagull gets shot and another mourns him. Great ending: a Disney-sounding song, a sleeping motion designer, a classic film on an iMac rendering at about 1fps, the wind in the trees outside.

Watching The Shallows, I was delighted that Blake Lively and the movie allow their injured seagull to survive to the end, but now I realize this avian assistance was the key to Blake’s survival, because Rob Pattinson’s luck turns bad when he cruelly murders an injured gull, and after a descent into pain and horror and madness, he ends up gull food. Let these sister films be warnings to any who would wish harm to our seagull friends.

Eggers sounds like a delightful interview subject:

My understanding is that they were rescue birds that were injured and rehabilitated, and after that rehabilitation couldn’t really survive back in the wild again. So giving them things to do makes them happy. So they were very eager to learn how to fly on a windowsill, peck a windowpane three times, and jump off, and then get a little food reward. Actually the seagulls were incredibly easy to work with, unlike a certain black goat that, I mean, I have no fond memories of working with.

Set in 1890ish Maine, Rob Pattinson is on the run under another man’s name, spilling his beans to crusty old Willem Dafoe, as the two of them tend a lighthouse for a season. Unclear how much time passes, or what is real vs. hallucinated, but it’s all very beautifully shot, and if this Eggers makes another dark film about witches or lighthouses I will go see it.

Water and ice, beautiful and frightening on the big screen.

Sometimes you lose all sense of scale until you see birds flying off the icebergs.

Metal soundtrack… egrets in a flooded cemetery.

Nice sailing scenes – so much winching! I want to show this to dad, but I know he’ll fall asleep long before the sailing begins.

Dedicated to Sokurov.

In late 1970’s Paris, Anne, the boss of a porn film company (pop star Vanessa Paradis) has to deal with being dumped by her editor (You and the Night‘s Kate Moran) and being investigated for the murder of one of her actors, actually perpetrated by a masked psycho wielding bladed sex toys.

Anne decides to deal with this by filming a porn parody of the investigation called Homocidal and casting herself as the murderer.

As actors keep dying, she visits a bird museum, discovers the victims are visited by a blind grackle, an extinct bird, and tracks down the story of a tormented youth, burned half to death by his father for being gay, come to the city as a scarred, homocidal adult.

Also featuring Nicolas Maury (You and the Night, Heartbeat Detector) as Anne’s blonde director, and Yann’s fellow-traveler gender-bending filmmaker Bertrand Mandico as the dramatic, floppy-haired cameraman.

With the giallo lighting, M83 music, movie theaters and rare birds, this was mostly up my alley.

Michael Sicinski on letterboxd:

If there’s one dominant hetero influence at work in Knife+Heart, it’s Brian De Palma. This is a sexualized murder mystery, based in part on who has the power of the gaze, who has been sidelined by desire, and how killing is a perverse sexual substitute. And even as the gravity of life and death are acknowledged, Gonzalez shares with De Palma a taste for the ridiculous, a recognition that movie violence can exorcise psychological demons precisely because it is not real, and the more outlandish the better.

Happy SHOCKtober 2019!

From the first five minutes, this movie is too energetic and stylized to be a standard-ass survival/horror. Even the character setup scenes, video phone calls with her family, are visualized in a way I’ve never quite seen before. After that you’ve got your surfer, stranded on a tiny island trapped by an angry killer shark, and we remember Open Water but we’ve established that she’s organized and resourceful so this could go either way. Some dodgy CG when she escapes to a buoy and the enraged shark chomps the metal railings, otherwise a colorful, terrific-looking movie. The winning move, crowning this the queen of all shark-attack films, is introducing an injured seagull as Blake Lively’s only companion, naming it Steven Seagull, then feeding it crabs and letting it live to the end. Guess I’ll have to watch the rest of Collet-Serra’s movies now, to thank him for this seagull generosity (not including any superhero spinoffs and/or theme-park-ride adaptations he may have in the works).

I only know Lively from Age of Adaline. The writer followed up with a Coachella satanism flick and a couple TV movies, and is headed back out to sea this year with Gary Oldman. DP Flavio Labiano has also worked with Alex de la Iglesia and Snoop Dogg, and shot Timecrimes.

Bao (Domee Shi)
We’d already seen this before Incredibles 2, but our audience must’ve missed that, and found it hilarious.

Late Afternoon (Louise Bagnall)
The obvious artistic achievement in the bunch, smoothly following patterns and colors into memory holes, a fanciful visualization of an Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother’s thoughts while her daughter is tidying up. Louise is from Ireland, worked on Song of the Sea.

Animal Behaviour (Alison Snowden & David Fine)
I don’t recall Bob & Margaret having writing this obvious, but I do recall this sort of thing being done to death in other animated shorts, including some by Snowden & Fine’s former employer Aardman. Group therapy session with different types of animals ends when a rampaging ape can’t control his anger issues.

Weekends (Trevor Jimenez)
Good editing and visual details, but it’s also the third movie in a half hour to feature dream logic while telling a story about strained relationships between parents and kids. Boy lives with his mom who is pulling her life together, spends weekends in dad’s super cool apartment. I saw the director’s noirish Key Lime Pie a decade ago.

One Small Step (Andrew Chesworth & Bobby Pontillas)
And here’s the fourth, minus the dream logic. I think someone on the academy nominating board had just lost a parent and was feeling very emotional about this subject. Katy said this one was a by-the-numbers Pixar-style story – girl is raised by her shoe repairman dad, is failing to achieve her dream of becoming an astronaut, but gives it another go after dad dies.

Wishing Box (Wenli Zhang & Nan Li)
The jokey, cartoony one – pirate recovers a seemingly empty box that contains whatever his pet monkey wants it to. The monkey finally figures out that his master wants gold coins, and pulls out enough to sink their ship, yuk yuk.

Tweet Tweet (Zhanna Bekmambetova)
Extremely Metaphorical, person walking the Tightrope of Life, growing up, falling in love, losing her husband to the war, and still trudging ever forward, attended constantly by a cutie little bird.

A high-quality movie with well-drawn characters, but it’s also nothing we haven’t seen before, as we meet a bunch of people who will be killed one by one as we learn more about their situation and the zombies’ behavior, and wounded friends conceal their bites until they suddenly turn feral at the worst possible moment.

Lotta jump scares for a movie watched on a plane while holding a ginger ale over the keyboard, but we pulled it off. The first attack is at a racetrack, which pays off wonderfully at the end.

Things learned about Canada: everyone is an excellent rifle shot, and they have a surplus of wooden chairs.

Lydia Ogwang in Cinema Scope:

As Aubert’s characters come to terms with new iterations of life under duress, class and lifestyle conflicts in tow, the film studies the fascinating emergent networks of morality and sentimentality among them which cut through the monotony of genre … The tender, humanistic focus delineates the action from run-of-the-mill Romero rehash: even amidst its faithfully rendered gore and copious jump scares, the film is committed to behavioural realism.

Another well-made, scary horror movie that oughtta make everyone’s decade-in-horror lists. Great cast led by Toni Collette and her son Alex Wolff (he played The Rock in flashback in a Jumanji sequel), with Gabriel Byrne as the only family member with one foot in reality, Milly Shapiro as the creepy daughter, and Ann Dowd (The Leftovers) as Toni’s grief counseling buddy.

I can’t complain about a well-acted horror that ends with the apocalyptic rise of a demon cult – that is one of my very favorite things – but it seemed while watching that the movie’s themes/intentions didn’t come together. Toni’s dollhouse models and the way Aster shoots the proper house as if it were a model are cool… and the ghosts/seances angle is neat… and Toni’s love/hate thing with her own children is fascinating… then Alex is set up to host his little sister’s spirit and/or the spirit of an ancient king, per the cult which Toni’s late mom and Ann Dowd were in together. Presumably the cult left the signs and words scratched onto walls and posts, but there’s no way the cult arranged the little sister’s complicated death (Alex swerves to avoid a dead thing in the road just as she sticks her head out the window, gasping for air because of an allergic reaction, and is beheaded by a telephone pole), and the cult’s final assault on the family makes Toni’s sleepwalk-firestarting and miscarriage attempts and other psychological eccentricities feel like false leads. I’m not extremely clear how the title factors in, since each of the family women seems to have her own unique set of problems, unless they’ve “inherited” the attention from the late gramma’s cult. I turned to letterboxd for answers and instead found Mike D’Angelo calling it “frustratingly muddled,” so we’ll call it a solid debut with script problems.

Besides the dollhouses (actually they are Important Art Projects) and the phone pole, there’s the daughter scissoring the head off a dead bird, Byrne burning, dead relatives who are not dead, nudity and dug-up corpses in the attic, ants, Alex slamming his own face into his school desk Nightmare on Elm Street-style, and most horribly, a possessed Toni floating up in a corner merrily garroting herself to death. I thought someone on twitter saying this movie is derivative of Kill List would be a spoiler – it was not, but the shot in the trailer and promo stills of Toni watching a burning family member sure was.

An extremely opulent desert version of the Eagle Huntress competition. Falcons are flown in (on planes), caravans of motorcycles and SUVs arrive, a jumbotron is assembled and participants watch from gaudy plush chairs.

Ancarani gives us no narration or explanation, just displays these wondrous events in longish takes, a style I was expecting from the shorts, but which didn’t thrill Katy. Little of the (pigeon-hunting?) competition is shown, and most of that is seen from a falcon-affixed camera – it’s mostly travel, setup, and side events. Hooded falcons scan their heads back and forth on a plane, attendees photograph everything on their gold iPhones, tricked-out SUVs see who can drive furthest up the dunes.

Jay Kuehner in Cinema Scope:

a hypnotic study in contrasts: the wild and the tame, the gilded and the barren, ennui and excitement, technology and nature … the film’s pageantry strikes an unforced semblance, sans birds, to the weekend culture of American sporting events and arena-rock parking lots. Exoticism is purely contextual.

One guy arrives in a lamborghini with his pet cheetah:

The Soul Riders, Qatar Chapter:

Bidding on new falcons via remote auction: