Stamped Box

Hey! I got a package from France with the most stamps ever!

Just look at it! Such variety! I’m very impressed.

The contents are even better. It’s the Éric Rohmer bluray/DVD box set. The Intégrale. That sounds much classier than “complete edition box set”. I mean, if that’s what it means? The French are so classy.

I was completely unaware of Rohmer until last year (I think), when I happened upon a DVD of one of his films in a used DVD store somewhere. I liked his name, so I bought it. I think it was An Autumn Tale, and I was blown away by its subtle silences. It reminded me of a Nouvelle Vague film, only less showy. I was surprised to find out that that’s what it was, basically: He was part of that wave of filmmakers, and never stopped making films.

So I’ve been looking for his films the last few months, and I was overjoyed when I found this box set on the web. And the reviews alleged that there were English subtitles on them, but I’ve been burned by that before, because the French really hate pandering to foreigners by putting (optional) subtitles on their DVDs.

Each film in this beautiful box set is on bluray and DVD, and I’ve done spot checks on a few, and they all turn out to have English subtitles! Yay!

But only on the film itself. The supplementary material, which there is a lot of, is subtitle-free. Boo!

And there’s the nerdiest tech specs ever. “Encodage MPEG-4 AVC”. Mais oui.

I also got the Agnès Varda today which… isn’t as lavish.

Century 2018: Black Panther

Black Panther. Ryan Coogler. 2018.

This started off really well and I was like “wow! this is like a real movie or something!” but then soon got bogged down in really bad acting (like the challengers in the coronation scene (and where they should have had thousands of people watching the fight, not dozens CGId up that wall)).

Still, it’s not without its charms. It’s funny at times, and the 007 references are amusing. The action scenes are fun. But it should have had a bigger budget or something: Some of the effects look a bit pokey. And all the crowd scenes look so puny! There should be hundreds of extras pasted all over the place!

And it’s an hour too long, but then again, all super-hero movies are.

I am disappoint. I was all ready for this to be a great movie, but it’s a snoozefest.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2017: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson. 2017.

OK, I’ve seen the other new Star Wars films… I think… And I saw the original ones back in the 80s. And I saw the first of the prequels.

In short, I’m not really a Star Wars fan, but I though the previous one was pretty entertaining and the makeup film was even better.

But I’m having some problems trying to remember who all these characters are. We don’t really get any “as you know Bob, you’re the evil emperor of the Empire” stuff, which is great! But also bewildering.

So I’m reduced to a state of watching a bunch of people I can vaguely remember seeing having a lot of dramatic moments and wondering whether they mean anything.

There’s a lot of portentous stuff here, but the director goes for the laughs in basically any scene. It’s an approach I would guess really freaks out the most deranged Star Wars fans, but it does make for a pretty amusing film.

That said, it’s also a supremely stupid film, and when it’s this stupid, it makes scenes that would otherwise be fun tend towards the tedious. But imdb-ing the director’s career it all makes sense: He did all those risible Breaking Bad episodes that were hailed as the best thing ever in the history of anything. So the sheer stupidity of the film is understandable, but that it’s this amusing is a surprise.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2016: Tickled

The parrot is fascinated by all the bokeh.

Tickled. David Farrier. 2016.

Last year, I bought all the films John Waters said were the best of 2016. Well, at least all the ones that were available at the time…

There were a couple that were totally “er, no”, like Cattle Towards Glow, but in general they were an interesting bunch. This is the only one I haven’t seen yet.

It’s allegedly a documentary (it says “HBO Documentaries”) from New Zealand (it says so) about competitive tickling, so I’m assuming this is more of a mockumentary. It’s a New Zealand speciality.

But if it is a mockumentary… it’s not that funny. I guess I should probably google the film; I mean, it might be a real documentary, even if that doesn’t seem very likely.

Perhaps it’s not a mockumentary but a fake documentary? Oh, I guess it’ll reveal itself after a while… Some of the American people have a kinda fake dialect.

But the problem is: If this is a real thing, then it’s not a very good documentary. It’s really exciting when they get D’Amato on camera, but that’s basically it.

OK, now the film is over and I can google it.

WTF? It’s a real thing? Geez. That’s horrifying and too weird.

It just goes to show: You can be too sceptical.

Or… have they just edited Wikipedia as a followup to their prank? THIS CONSPICARY GOES DEEP&gt>;

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2015: Louder Than Bombs

Louder Than Bombs. Joachim Trier. 2015.

Hey! A Norwegian film! And it’s co-written by the guy who did a movie in my apartment.

Er… small world?

This, weirdly enough, is filmed in the US, with English language actors and a mostly American crew, I guess? And it’s weird seeing Joachim Trier’s usual directorial touches that work were well with a Norwegian cast and… not… that much with these American actors? I just see them doing their normal American “natural” acting thing and I’m like “er no”.

Isabelle Huppert is the only one who plays her character in a believable way, but she’s dead for most of the film. On the other hand, there are these touches of Eskil Vogt’s flights of fancy we get here and there that are super-compelling. Very Rashomon. Very funny.

And the cinematography? So much bokeh.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2014: Retour à Ithaque

Retour à Ithaque. Laurent Cantet. 2014.

Quite a few of the DVDs I have I can’t really remember why I bought. I do remember this one: I thought it was a Cuban film, so I got it for my World of Films and Cocktails blog series. And it is filmed in Cuba, but it’s really a French film.

What an interesting film, though. The premise is a reunion of friends who haven’t seen each other in years (perhaps decades). That’s a pretty common premise, but these are Cuban characters, so all the titbits they drop about their youth is more fascinating than these things usually are, and the director places the reunion on a rooftop balcony on a high building in the middle of a city (I totally want that), so you get all these vistas no matter where they point the cameras.

It’s very Ibsen. The people do the “judgement day over themselves” thing. But it loses tension as it progresses, unfortunately. The huge revelations towards the end doesn’t seem that shocking.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2013: Venus in Fur

Gah. Another DVVD with forced subtitles…

Venus in Fur. Roman Polanski. 2013.

Without Canal+, there would have been no European cinema for the past two decades. That’s my conclusion after watching a lot of films these past couple of years. Canal+ is always, in my mind at least, listed as a co-producer of any European arty movie.

So it here, with this kinda-recent Polanski film.

I haven’t seen a film of his for at least a decade or two. I think the last one I saw was when I watched all of Sigourney Weaver’s films like fifteen years ago. It was the one about torture in… Argentina? It was OK.

This film is about a director (who looks awfully like a young Polanski) (who’s doing an adaptation of Sacher-Masoch’s novel) in an empty theatre with a female actor, and… hijinx? ensue? OK, that’s unfair, but it’s just that Polanski’s name is so… icky?… these days that watching his films without that in mind is a challenge.

It’s funny. Polanski’s making fun of his stand-in. He’s describing a character as “A rich idler of his times, intelligent, well-traveled, cultivated” and the vital, manic pixie nightmare girl actress who’s disrupting his evening responds with “A nerd”.

[time passes]

They way I do these blog posts is usually I’ll watch a few minutes and then I have to make the cocktail and I’ll write something, and then I’ll write something throughout the film whenever I’m bored, but that didn’t happen here because THIS IS BRILLIANT!

There’s so many levels here, where Polanski is referencing his own biography, and the Sacher-Masoch novel, and the play they’re putting on, and the constant critiques of that play, and the hints that there might be something much bigger going on. It’s mind-bogglingly meta, and is the best film I’ve seen in quite a while.

Or perhaps I’m just very drunk.

The only thing that doesn’t work for me is the soundtrack. There’s this constant low-level almost-music going on all the time. This is a very funny film, but the soundtrack is like a non-vocal laugh track, and it’s really annoying.

This blog post is part of the Century series.