Katy picked this out. I liked it, maybe better than either of Luhrmann’s other movies, but still wish we’d watched Henry & June instead.

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Scott wants to dance his own wild made-up steps at the ballroom dance competition but everyone tells him he’s being selfish and stupid and will ruin everything. His own partner goes off with the fancypants guy, and then the fancy guy is dancing with the superstar super girl. Now Scott needs to audition a partner and quick. In comes Fran, dance student at Scott’s parents’ studio who wants to dance Scott’s steps at the competition, and has a few of her own to contribute. A happy ending is had by all. Even though most of the movie looks like it was filmed in a gymnasium, it still manages to look great the whole time. The dancing not so impressive, even the big finale, but at least it’s well presented.

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40 minutes or so of short movies. The evolution of Robert Morgan!

The Man in the Lower-Left Hand Corner of the Photograph (1999)
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Too slow and draggy with meat and maggots, all Svankmajery and dingy and stuff. Lonely guy watches his neighbor kill herself, drags her home, feeds her to his pet maggot, and she sorta comes to life all maggoty and sleeps with him and he puts their photos together or whatever.

The Cat with Hands (2001)
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Short and awesome, about a cat slowly becoming human by eating people and taking their parts.

The Separation (2003)
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Another good one, slow and dreary like the first, but not overdoing it this time. Conjoined twins are separated then consider getting back together again while working at a doll factory.

Monsters (2004)
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All live action, boy has nightmares, threatens to turn psycho, sister shows last-minute sympathy. Very nice looking. Guy’s got a bright future.

Katy glimpsed parts, thought was gross.

Katy and I both liked.

Interesting watching this after reading “Silk Road to Ruin”. I wonder what Ted Rall thinks about Borat.

Movie was funny, and I’m sure a lot of people are rightly pissed off. The flag carrier falling off a horse behind Borat as he finished singing a fakey Kazakhstan National Anthem to a rodeo is still astounding. Can’t think too hard about this right now but there’s probably not much to say anyway.

At first, seemed like a not-at-all-interesting re-enactment of the last battle to be fought on British soil, when some Scottish Highlanders attacked to get their leader “restored” to the throne. The highlanders lacked the will, experience, rest, nourishment, preparation, leadership or equipment for victory and were easily defeated.

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But then it gets interesting, as the British soldiers not only defeat the Scots on the field, but chase down all retreaters and kill them, kill their families, and just destroy everything in a brutal rampage. Seemingly even more critical of Britain than The War Game was. Watkins says he intended to draw parallels between the behavior of the British troops and that of US troops in Vietnam, which was going on at the time.

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Grainy and real looking, perfectly shot and acted, Watkins gets his point across easily. Like The War Game, not too long. Funny that the same guy should end up making such long movies (La Commune is 6 hrs, The Journey is over 14 hrs).

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Peter Watkins’ own account of the film: http://www.mnsi.net/~pwatkins/PW_Culloden.htm

I’m starting to think that everyone should see every Peter Watkins movie. Too bad I started Katy on The Gladiators, cuz now she probably won’t wanna see the rest.

A horrifying look at nuclear war. Should’ve been required viewing, but was instead banned from the airwaves for decades. Ho-hum.

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Short and to the point. Not only tells what might happen during a nuclear attack on Britain, but shows it, enacting the attack documentary-style.

Below: a homeowner discusses self-defense.

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A powerfully convincing movie against the bomb. Unfortunately also harshly critical of Britain and its policies, which I’m sure contributed to the film being banned for so long.

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Of course, Watkins’ own notes on the film are essential:
http://www.mnsi.net/~pwatkins/PW_Game.htm

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Katy didn’t watch it, but probably should.

After a decade of slow self-education in cinephilia, I’ve finally sat down and watched an Ozu movie.

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These happy folks are travelling to the city to visit their children and grandchildren. It’s implied that they won’t make the trip again, then right after they get home, the wife dies. The kids aren’t very receptive, can’t be bothered to break away from their daily lives and jobs and make time to treat their parents with respect and attention. Their daughter-in-law, though, wife of their deceased son, takes them in, takes time off work to entertain them, and is the one who seems saddest at the wife’s funeral.

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Nicely paced, very well told story. Liked it surprisingly well… figured it’d be an overlong slow-paced thing full of symbolism I don’t understand… but it’s just a modern family story. Apparently all of Ozu’s films are modern family stories, each just like the last, and all just as good. Looking forward to finding out for myself.

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Listened to thirty minutes of the commentary before my burned DVD crashed the computer and I gave up. Remember allll the shots have those low camera angles demonstrated by the cinematographer in Tokyo-Ga. He says something about ellipses in continuity, how actions are implied but not shown and how characters names and positions are slowly revealed instead of being explained up front… viewer has to pay closer attention than usual to figure out what’s happening. Says Ozu’s signature dialogue is “It’s a beautiful day”, said twice in this movie. Setsuko Hara (the daughter-in-law, above) was “one of the genuine superstars of Japanese cinema”. Wenders’ Until the End of the World is a tribute to Ozu (maybe I won’t hate it next time after I’ve seen a few Ozu films). Tokyo Story is sometimes seen as a remake of Leo McCarey’s Make Way For Tomorrow. And Ozu makes “mini documentaries of Japanese middle-class life”.

Katy didn’t watch it. Can’t even guess if she would’ve liked it or not.
EDIT 2015: Katy liked it.

Picked a nice, short, famous one for my first Raoul Ruiz movie. Based on a fictional painter (I didn’t know until I looked it up). The curator studies “a collection of paintings by Tonnerre, a French academic painter of the mid-nineteenth century, whose rather undistinguished works, with no consistency in style or subject matter, are said to have provoked a major but mysterious society scandal”. The title is misleading, because the supposedly missing painting is not discussed so much, but rather how the paintings are connected and what scandal they could have caused. Turns out the characters within may be enacting the rituals of a secret society, but that barely seems to matter anymore by the time it’s unveiled.

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Pretty amazing movie to watch (even though I fell asleep the first time). The curator is not the film’s narrator. The curator actually falls asleep once while droning on about the paintings, and the narrator whispers to us until he reawakens. The curator stages complicated tableaus, reenactments, like life-sized dioramas of the paintings in order to get a 3-D perspective on the hidden clues, which are in mirror reflections, light and shadow, and everything else. A movie all about mise-en-scene, so the paintings and stagings have interesting layouts, and the filming of them is interesting on its own. So many layers I don’t pretend to understand.

Below: Professional Jean Reno in his first film role.
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Completely wild. Loved it, though I don’t know who I could recommend it to. Guess I’ll just see more Ruiz movies. Not sure whether any/all questions are answered at the end… curator seems too obsessive to be able to see the truth anymore, and may be using the ritual explanation to justify his own ritualistic beliefs. The movie’s got a few visual freakouts, like the one below, but otherwise is a sort of fictional essay film.

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Where the missing painting, the fourth in the series, should have hung:
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Essential essay here: http://www.rouge.com.au/2/hypothesis.html
Katy might’ve liked it. I guess. Can’t really say.

A not-too-good Masters of Horror installment by not-too-good filmmaker Argento. I knew the ending three minutes in, and just waited patiently to be proven right. An insultingly crappy story, in which TV veteran Steven Weber (currently in that Studio 60 show) saves Jenifer (some girl with lotta makeup) from a crazy man who is trying to kill her. Kills the man, brings Jenifer HOME for some reason, wife and kids disapprove, Jenifer eats family pet and has amazing sex with Weber. Now Weber wants to keep her, so she keeps eating neighborhood people and dude’s family moves out and finally he moves out into the country and gets a simple stockboy job and all is well until Jenifer kills the store-owner’s son and now Weber tries to kill Jenifer but she’s SAVED by a hunter who kills our man and rescues her and so on.

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Not all bad – the Jenifer character is disturbing enough with the crazy face and the eating people’s guts, but not too good either. Katy didn’t watch and wouldn’t have liked.

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Saul Symonds in Light Sleeper points out all the ways this one fits in with Dario Argento’s other work: the circularity of plot, the duality of Jenifer’s character, the “strange shifts of direction”, and exploring “the manner in which a central protagonist is devoured by darkness”.

Best Masters of Horror episode yet. Why? The story is outrageous and fascinating and twisty, the visuals are always exciting, and UDO KIER co-stars.

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Theater owner who owes big money to the father of his dead wife takes on job from eccentric millionaire UDO KIER to find the rarest film of all time, an angelic snuff film that makes its viewers go homicidally insane. The director’s wife gives up the film easily, and he brings it to Udo who, despite having already imprisoned one of the angels, is still unprepared for the film and signals this by feeding his intestines into the projector. The cigarette burns of the title are jolting, and our man loses track of things each time one hits. Only time besides Fight Club I can think of those things really being discussed. Never thought they’d be the title device in a horror movie.

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Katy wouldn’t have liked this one, though she expressed an unusual interest in it.