What I’m Watching #3

Welcome to the second edition of What I’m Watching, a series that twice a month looks at the films I’ve been watching recently, and the films I plan to watch in the future. Today’s post covers all the films I’ve watched since July 1.

Films Watched For the First Time:

56 Up (2012): The brand new instalment in Michael Apted’s Up series of films which has been following the lives of fourteen British middle-class individuals since age seven. Now they’re 56 and the series is more engaging than ever. FilmScore: 8/10

Karin’s Face (1984): A short documentary consisting solely of images of Ingmar Bergman’s mother, Karin. Bergman fans will be interested, others probably won’t. 6/10

Glen or Glenda (1953): Notorious for its reputation as one of the worst movies ever made, Glen or Glenda is absolutely terrible for countless reasons. Despite it’s good-intentions premise, it fails across the board, a ludicrous mess of a movie. 3/10

A Lesson in Love (1954): This lesser-known Bergman comedy from the 1950s is actually surprisingly good, if flawed in parts. It trudges into the area of drama at times and this is where it encounters its flaws, but in general is watchable with a great cast. 7/10

From the Life of the Marionettes (1980): A late and underrated film from Ingmar Bergman that is not perfect, but still damn interesting and echoes his greater, earlier works, while not quite succeeding in all the areas that made them great. A powerful drama about alienation, mental confusion and loneliness. 8/10

Torment (1944): Interesting drama scripted by Ingmar Bergman but directed by Alf Sjöberg. Well regarded as a Swedish classic, Sjöberg’s film is a powerful, engaging tale of desire and obsession, with great actors bringing strength and courage to their parts. 8/10

I Was Born, But… (1931): Wonderful early silent comedy from the great master Yasujiro Ozu that is also one of his oldest surviving films. The delightful story of two young boys, brothers who are struggling to fit in in a world of persecution. Light and funny but also painfully honest at times. 9/10

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011): A genuinely unsettling and quite discomforting film that is almost certainly among the best of last year. Lynne Ramsay’s direction is pitch-perfect and deeply disturbing, lending the horrific film an extra touch of power and brilliance. 9/10

Julien Donkey-Boy (1999): This film, an important staple of the Dogme 95 genre, is like a sister film to Harmony Korine’s previous work Gummo, and at times exceeds it with its level of raw power juxtaposed with dark humour. Werner Herzog starring as an abusive, schizophrenic father is a big highlight. 8/10

Peeping Tom (1960): Perhaps I missed something, but I can’t quite see why this film is regarded as highly as it is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good film that I liked, and the actors are stunning (particularly Karlheinz Bohm as the lead character), but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected. 7/10

Sione’s Wedding (2006): Mildly funny Kiwi comedy that features the kind of humour you either enjoy or you don’t. I personally don’t really care for this cult favourite (the subtle comedy of Eagle vs Shark is more my thing), but it does have a few decent laughs. 6/10

Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business (2012): Crappy sequel that will only be enjoyed by fans of the first, and even then some of them will be disappointed. 4/10

A Swedish Love Story (1970): Wonderful, delightful and beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe this Swedish classic from the great director Roy Andersson, made early in his career before his films became more bleak and darker. A tale of puppy love, Andersson’s film captures the exuberance and innocence of childhood in a refreshing manner without the clichés or predictable plotlines. 10/10

Elegy of a Voyage (2001): A 45-minute meditation on memory, history and existentialism from the Russian filmmaking poet Aleksandr Sokurov. Not one of his best films, but still wondrous and thought-provoking. 8/10

Fred: The Movie (2010): This is basically an unbearably exuberant teenager screeching at the top of his lungs for ninety minutes. Take from that what you will. 1/10

Angels and Demons (2009): As if The Da Vinci Code wasn’t enough ludicrously bad filmmaking based on astonishingly awful literature, along comes Angels and Demons to add to the insanity. 3/10

New Years’ Eve (2011): … 1/10

Sex and the City 2 (2010): The single most vile, reprehensible cellular abortion in cinematic history. Some movies are like watching paint dry. This is like watching shit dry. And it’s so fucking long. Certainly the worst film ever made; no film can dare challenge it. NO RATING.

Bad Lieutenant (1992): Harvey Keitel is stunning in this underrated film from Abel Ferrara. One of the best American films of the 90s, this shows Keitel on top form, and his performance is riveting and mindblowing. A great, great film. 9/10

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009): Werner Herzog’s supposed “remake” of Abel Ferrara’s film introduces some new and interesting elements (most notably a direct homage to Herzog’s greatest film Stroszek) and shows Nic Cage going crazy like only Nic Cage can. Surprisingly good. 8/10

The Travelling Players (1975): The third film in my gradual study of Theo Angelopoulos’ career, and easily one of his greatest works. Though quite lengthy and noticeably slow at times, I really wasn’t bothered by its run time and was absorbed from start to finish. The direction of a true auteur in his early stages. 8/10

Hard Candy (2005): Interesting thriller with great performances from Patrick Wilson and a young Ellen Page. A violent – but crucially not bloody – tale of justice and retribution pushed to its extremes. 8/10

Jesus Camp (2006): I don’t like any of these people at all. 6/10

Befrielsesbilleder (1982): Early film from Lars von Trier that’s well shot and mildly interesting but at times almost incomprehensible. 6/10

The Skin I Live In (2011): Pedro Almodovar’s latest film, and one of his best. An interesting mix of horror and drama shot and directed in a way that clearly expresses Almodovar’s luscious, transcendant, unique visual style. 9/10

A Film With Me In It (2008): This interesting and mildly funny comedy survives mainly because of the sharp comic timing of Dylan Moran, who is genuinely hilarious. 6/10

Don’t Look Now (1973): A classic horror film from Nicholas Roeg regarded as one of the greats for good reason. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are both fantastic as a married couple falling apart after the death of their daughter. The setting of Venice provides a creepy backdrop, and the famously steamy sex scene is brilliantly edited and very effective. 8/10

Doodlebug (1997): Early film from Christopher Nolan. Only three minutes long, but clever and dark. 6/10

Shadows (1959): My second John Cassavetes film, and it has definitely confirmed my admiration for the director. An interesting, plotless dissection of race relations and relationships with a peppy jazz score and good actors, it’s an important film in the history of American independent cinema. 8/10

Wendy and Lucy (2008): Kelly Reichardt, now famous for Meek’s Cutoff, made this film with Michelle Williams back in 2008, and I think I prefer this one. Williams is fantastic in an understated but effective performance as a lonely woman in a strange town. The film is slow, but I like slow-paced movies, provided they still remain interesting and this one does. 8/10

Rocco and His Brothers (1960): Luchino Visconti’s 3-hour masterwork, Rocco and His Brothers is an epic in every sense of the word. Enthralling for every minute and with a devastating conclusion, the film has a great cast, utilises the incredible talent of each actor and provides us with a great story that helps make this film one of the most memorable classics of its era. 10/10

Rewatches Since July 1

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Hunger (2008)

Snatch (2000)

True Lies (1994)

Persona (1966)

The Green Mile (1999)

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Stranger than Paradise (1984)

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

You, the Living (2007)

Lake of Fire (2006)

The Seventh Seal (1957)

Film Tally: New Movies: 31 Rewatches: 12 Total: 43

Films Ranked:

10/10

A Swedish Love Story (1970)

Rocco and His Brothers (1960)

9/10

Bad Lieutenant (1992)

I Was Born, But… (1931)

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

The Skin I Live In (2011)

8/10

The Travelling Players (1975)

Don’t Look Now (1973)

Shadows (1959)

Wendy and Lucy (2008)

From the Life of the Marionettes (1980)

56 Up (2012)

Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)

Torment (1944)

Elegy of a Voyage (2001)

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

Hard Candy (2005)

7/10

A Lesson in Love (1954)

Peeping Tom (1960)

6/10

Karin’s Face (1984)

Jesus Camp (2006)

A Film With Me In It (2008)

Sione’s Wedding (2006)

Doodlebug (1997)

Befrielsesbilleder (1982)

5/10

4/10

Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business (2012)

3/10

Glen or Glenda (1953)

Angels and Demons (2009)

2/10

1/10

New Years’ Eve (2011)

Fred the Movie (2010)

NO RATING

Sex and the City 2 (2010)

Upcoming Films

As I mention in each of these posts, I always keep ten films (no more, no less) on my Letterboxd watchlist. These are ten films that aren’t relatively hard to find that I should be seeing in the next few weeks or so.  Since the start of the month, I’ve watched these films from the watchlist: A Swedish Love Story, Peeping Tom, I Was Born, But…, 56 Up and Rocco and His Brothers. Also on the watchlist is Les Vampires, a six hour film split into ten parts. So far I’ve watched the first two parts. As of today, the ten film watchlist consists of: The Conformist (1970), Night of the Living Dead (1968), Vanya on 42nd Street (1994), Love is Colder than Death (1967), The Gold Rush (1925), Chelsea Girls (1966), Film Socialisme (2011), Out 1 (1971), The Terrorizers (1987) and Les Vampires (1915). I hope to have watched at least five or six of these before the month ends.

Other films that I have that I plan to watch soon are: David Cronenberg’s The Brood (1978), Kenji Mizugochi’s Ugetsu (1953), Theo Angelopoulos’ The Beekeeper (1986), Lukas Moodyson’s Together (2000), Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession (1981) and Eric Rohmer’s My Night with Maud (1968).

So what about you? Have you seen any of these films? And if so, what do you think of them? What have you been watching? Leave a comment below.

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Posted on July 15, 2012, in Movies, What I'm Watching and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. I don’t think you were supposed to like the people in Jesus Camp. It was to simply show how people like the members of the Westboro Baptist Church become the way they are.

    • I know I wasn’t supposed to like them, but if I’d said anything else it would turn into a bitter rant about how much I hate everyone in that film. Which I do. A lot.

      • Oh. Well i was just surprised at the score you gave it. I would have given it a higher one, but i guess that is why our tastes differ

        • If you ask me, a much better film that deals with the same kind of religious fanatics is a movie I actually rewatched yesterday. It’s a documentary about abortion called Lake of Fire, which easily gets 10/10 from me. It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen about anything. Highly recommended.

  2. I’ve seen a LOT of films over the holidays, mainly due to that crazy film night/morning which I’m never attempting again. The best I’ve seen over the holidays were definitely Grave of the Fireflies, 50/50 and We Need to Talk About Kevin. I’m glad to see you enjoyed Hard Candy, too. That was a really intense film.

    I must be one of the only Kiwis who hasn’t seen either of the Sione’s Wedding films. The sequel has been renting like crazy for the past month. I didn’t know it was so popular.

    • I love getting a free day to do nothing but watch films. I’m going to try and watch eight in one day some time soon, to beat my previous record of seven.

      The Sione’s Wedding movies aren’t terrible; even the sequel has its moments. But they aren’t great either, so if you don’t like the first one don’t bother with the second.

  3. I’m not sure I can explain Peeping Tom‘s appeal other than it does what Psycho does, only more. We know within the first 15 minutes who the killer is. What we don’t know is all of the details of the killings–but we know the identity, and the film still makes him sympathetic. There’s also the aspect of voyeurism that makes the film feel dangerous. With the murders filmed from first-person, it puts us in the place of the murderer, or at least as a part of his audience. In many ways, we’re as culpable for the crimes as he is. I like how subversive it is, how dangerous it feels even now. Given the choice of those two films, I’d almost always choose to watch Peeping Tom.

    As for Jesus Camp, the smartest thing the filmmakers did was create that film without comment. The greatest thing about the freedom of speech is that it lets the really scary people in the world self-identify. That film is stronger without commentary than it would be with it. It’s not a film I enjoy watching, but I think it’s better than you give it credit for being. It’s also, because it is real, one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen.

    Incidentally, I watch on average about five movies every four days. Your pace makes me feel like a rank amateur.

    • I will need to give Peeping Tom another chance. I admire the technical details and the way it keeps up the suspense, but it just wasn’t as good as I expected.

      Jesus Camp is good. Lake of Fire, as I mentioned in the comment above this one, is another great documentary that analyses religion without choosing sides. It shows the debate about abortion from the perspective of people both in favour of a woman’s right to choose and the opposite side. It’s a movie that allows you to choose your side, and I thought it was a more well-made and effective film than Jesus Camp.

      My pace makes you feel like an amateur? Wow, really? I must be doing something right then. Thanks man.

  4. Oh! The Conformist! I’ve been meaning to re-watch that film since I have the extended version on DVD (now out of print). Great movie.

    Sex & the City 2… you survived that abomination. That film was offensive. Not just in how women are portrayed but the fact that it’s really a capitalist film that Mark Kermode was ranting about. It made me feel really unclean after seeing it. I hated that film!

    • Yeah, I can’t wait to see The Conformist. A big hole in my film viewing.

      It was Mark Kermode ranting about Sex and the City 2 that spurred me on to watching it. Fucking regret that decision.

  5. 43 films already? Wow. And I thought my 28 was good. Just watched We Need to Talk About Kevin today and couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. A great movie, no doubt.

  6. I still don’t know where you find the time for all these films. I don’t think I actually could watch so many in so short a time, my brain actually can’t take too many films in one day, so 43 in two weeks would probably be beyond me. Even if some were rewatches.

    I’m doing the grindhouse/exploitation challenge at ICheckMovies this month, so I’ve been watching some dodgy shit. And with a quartet of Italian cannibal/zombie films from 1980 in the pipeline, among other things, shit’s only going to get dodgier… Though I did find We Need to Talk About Kevin at the library the other day, so there will at least be something kind of respectable in the days ahead, Possession is one I really want to see as well.

    • 43’s just as staggering a number to me as it is to you. I’m fast approaching the number of movies I watched in the entirety of last year, and it’s only July!

      Possession looks great. Mark Kermode’s heaped so much praise on it, that I’m quite excited to see it finally.

  7. I haven’t seen Glend and Glenda, but the fact that you watched it makes you even more courageous in my eyes. We Need to Talk about Kevin is fantastic, I’m still really glad to see comments of praise for it all over the blogoverse. Glad that you loved The Skin I Live In and Hard Candy, too. As for Doodlebug, it’s rather smart and sort of presents Chris Nolan’s imagination that dreamed much bigger with his features and big budgets.

    • The tricky thing about Glen or Glenda! is that it is such a well-intentioned film and really comes from a good place in the director’s heart. But it’s soooooooooooooo bad.

  8. Gee whiz, Tyler. 43??? I now scoff at my mere 8 films in two weeks dosage; and even then, that’s a record for me. I must say it amuses me that you’re also interested in seeing such horrible films as Glen or Glenda. And, before I get shot, I must say that I don’t consider Sex and the City 2 to have been that bad. It was awful, but there were some moments where I did genuinely laugh. *stops,drops and rolls* I’d most likely give it a 3, but the no rating is indeed hilarious. We Need To Talk About Kevin was amazing. Tilda was flawless as always, and the last two kids who played Kevin were quite frightening.

    And I hate New Year’s Eve just as much as I hated Valentine’s Day. I pretty much hate any movie with Ashton Kutcher in it.

    You definitely need to see Gold Rush, Chelsea Girls, and Out 1. I loved all three, though Out 1 was a bit of a challenge. I think it took me a month to watch the entirety of it, with several movies being watched between the breaks.

    My final note is about Fred the Movie. I seriously don’t want to meet that kid in the streets. Because I would kill him! Seriously. First-degree MURDER.

    • I’m watching Les Vampires before I watch Out 1, but I’m looking forward to both.

      I’d want to kill Fred too if I met him. It would be a mercy killing.

  9. Interesting to see so many terrible films mixed in this time. You have a lot more tolerance than I. I’d have to lose a pretty big bet before agreeing to watch SaTC.

  10. I need to watch a lot of the movies you have listed, it certaintly is a diverse list of films.

  11. So 56 Up is out? I will have to check it out. I first discovered this series when 35 Up came out. I’ve seen Peeping Tom and I think it’s just the shock factor (dealing with sex) at the time the film came out that made people talk about it. Since then it has been remembered, I think, more because people talked about it than for the actual film itself.

    Hard Candy didn’t impress me that much, I found it to be just another revenge flick, except it’s female on male revenge instead of male on male. The Skin I Live In has Banderas’ best performance in years. Even though I saw the twist coming it was still quite effective.

    • 56 Up is out and worth seeing if you’ve been following the series.

      Peeping Tom reminded me of Blowup, which I think is a far, far better film.

      As with most great twists, I didn’t see the one in The Skin I Live In coming, and when it finally arrived, I kicked myself for not guessing it.

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