TSP2019: Letters from Baghdad

Letters from Baghdad. Sabine Krayenbühl. 2016.

This is not my favourite genre: It’s a docudrama with the footage “aged” to simulate oldee tymee stock; everything played back slightly too fast to make it look like an old silent movie. But with fake sounds inserted… incessantly… it’s never silent; always a bed of foley or music.

OK, I was inaccutate: It’s my least favourite genre of movie ever.

I’m just… why!?! It makes every single shot into a lie. Even the real ones. “Is this photo real? This shot can’t be real. Is this actual footage? Is this letter they’re reading from real? Did they have photos back then? Did these people ever exist? Do I exist? Why am I watching this? I could be in bed!”

My own comfortable bed!

It’s 4AM and I think I’m going to find my bed instead of watching the rest of this… thing…

But if you’re the kind of person that likes this style of documentary, you may indeed like this; it seems well-made and quite interesting. I find it unwatchable, but that’s just me.

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2019: Suspiria

Suspiria. Luca Guadagnino. 2018.

I have not seen the original Suspiria movie, but I’ve seen quite a few movies by Luca Guadagnino, and I’ve liked almost all of them.

There’s so many references here… “Dr. Klemperer”… Arthur Koestler… “Berger”… Baader-Meinhof… Surely these can’t all have been in the original horror movie? Or perhaps they were? I have no idea. Are they just in-jokes or do they make sense?

Swinton is brilliant in the roles. She does an aging doctor perfectly as she does the choreograph.

I knew this was a horror movie, but when the er horrific bits started, I was still kinda nonplussed. And then it dawned on me that this was going to be the movie, and I got a couple of pillow to hold in front of my face for the rest of the movie. (And there were bits I had to cover my ears as well.)

This isn’t a scary movie, but it’s grisly. Is this torture porn or New Extreme European Cinema?

The cinematography is interesting: They’ve kept everything in 70s beige and greys. One thing this doesn’t help with are the black actors, whose faces are basically just #000000. It reminds me of that Mad TV (or was it SNL?) sketch about the couples photographer?

One thing this entire movies reminds be of is Out 1, and that’s also what makes this movie frustrating: Just when I’m thinking “OK, finally we’re going to see some dancing” then there’s all these gruesome images interspersed with it. They should have added another 30 minute just with the dancers dancing.

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2019: Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame. Anthony & Joe Russo. 2019.

Hey! It’s time to catch up with Tilda Swinton again.

I really enjoyed the previous Avengers movie (by the same directors as this one). The Marvel Studios movies have really gotten a whole lot better the past few years, embracing humour and sci-fi more than the first few iterations (which were mostly about some dudes standing on top of buildings punching other dudes).

So I’m hopeful about this one. That usually leads to me hating whatever I’m going to watch, but let’s see.

[time passes]

I’m one hour into this movie now, and I’m going to take a break to bake a cake, and I’ll just jot down my impressions so far:

It’s sad and it’s funny, and that’s what they’re going for. I guess you could say that they’re leaning in on TV storytelling (most movies wouldn’t spend this much time on just… setting things up; structurally (so far) it’s like one of those TV episodes between when things are happening), but there’s so many little fun details in every scene. While it’s pretty leisurely in terms of plot, it’s dense as fuck in the way of world-building details and teensy little background jokes. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and now I’m going to bake a chocolate cake.

[time passes]

OK, I’m back, and I’m finding it distinctly difficult to get back into this now that the cake’s in the oven. But let’s concentrate!

Tilda Swinton only has (basically) once scene in this movie, so it’s not the most TSP movie ever. It’s kinda fascinating how much time they spend on scenes that are basically callbacks to earlier movies… I think! Because, while I’ve probably seen all of them, I’ve also forgotten most of them.

The fights scenes here are pretty mind-boggling. It’s not 100% CGI, which makes anything uninteresting, but they’re so huge. It’s like the ultimate super-hero comic book movie. It’s going to be hard to top this for sheer spectacle.

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2012: Radioman

Radioman. Mary Kerr. 2012.

Whaaa! Another documentary! I’m developing a hatred of documentaries…

But mostly American ones. This one in British, by Mary Kerr, and it’s good. But you have to wonder about whether this film will do its subject any good or whether it’ll just… make him so public that he can’t continue to live his life.

But it’s certainly the most star-studded documentary ever in the history of ever, so I guess the film-makers had fun. But he’s still getting parts, so perhaps this film did him no harm.

I found this film on Amazon Prime.

OK. this is the last Tilda Swinton Project film in this catch-up batch. See you next in… a couple of years?

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2017: Letters From Generation RX

Letters From Generation RX. Kevin P. Miller. 2017.

OH FUCK! It’s an American documentary, So it’s an incessant barrage of pedestrian imagery, where they try to keep the interest of bored viewers by putting in as many edits in per second as possible replete with “action reenactments”.

I just loathe the “sentence fragment with dramatic music playing beneath” documentary aesthetic.

Tilda Swinton does her best to class it up, but it’s just horrible.

I’m not quite sure what this documentary is about, because it’s unwatchable, but I think it’s about how Prozac (and other SSRIs) makes people kill themselves.

It’s a propaganda piece against anti-depressants, and for all I know, everything it says is accurate. For all I know, it may be effective. But after spending an hour on the evils of Big Medicine (probably accurate, if one-sided) they then present the solution for depression and mental problems:

Vitamins!

SWINTON I AM DISAPPOINT

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2011: Genevive Goes Boating

Genevive Goes Boating. Lucy Gray. 2011.

This short (narrated by Tilda Swinton) can be found on Vimeo.

It’s a kind of fairy tale/parable thing.

I really like the way it’s made: The home-made-aesthetic scenography etc, and it is interesting, but I didn’t really get much involved. I guess the fairy tale thing just doesn’t work for me.

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2017: Okja

Okja. Joon-ho Bong. 2017.

I remember there being some controversy about this film at the Cannes Film Festival because it’s a Netflix film. That is, it wasn’t released to movie theatres? I think? And they changed the rules to exclude such films afterwards?

Anyway, I signed up to Netflix to see just this film, and I’ve remained signed up for a year afterwards… without seeing much of anything on Netflix, because, let’s face it, Netflix sucks. Outside the US it’s just a cruel joke, which in the US it’s a slightly wittier joke.

But they got one year’s worth of money out of me, so they’ve got that going for them, I guess. (I’m assuming that all the rest of their films suck.)

But this is good! It does go somewhat off the rails (mostly due to Jake Gyllenhaal (my first thought when he appeared was “Geez, Jason Schwartzman isn’t as likeable as he used to be”)) and it’s got huge pacing problems, but there are some really exhilarating and moving scenes in here.

The plot doesn’t make any sense whatsoever (when evil corporation Monsanto I mean Mirando I mean Monsanto creates a super-pig through GMO, they obviously won’t create something that takes ten years to get to a market ready state; instead it’ll take two months from gestation to slaughter and be in agony the entire time), but I don’t think that makes that much of a difference.

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.