Films of October 2014

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Two more months to go until 2015. This year flew by so fast. Sorry for the poor formatting of the post. It’s killing me, but I refuse to get annoyed by it.

In October I turned 23 years old. So as a celebration I shared my favorite films and TV shows. Hope you enjoyed the lists. I also watched all the remaining Blind Spots and am now up to date. This month I will see and review Carol Reed’s The Third Man. I also plan to watch Two Days One Night, The Hunger Games film, and make my way through some classics and current films. I also hope to see Serena and Fury because I lost them when they played in my city.

By the way, I became interested in the story about Henry VIII and his wives. I am looking for a faithful and the best adaptation of the story. Don’t want to see The Tudors now, it’s too long. Any suggestions?

First Time Viewings:

The Insider (Michael Mann, 1999)

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Tense from beginning to end. I enjoyed this film so much. This is my first Michael Mann film and I can say I am looking forward to seeing the rest of his work. Expertly directed and adapted from a terrific script, it’s a very engaging film. Russel Crowe was so much better here than in the freaking Gladiator. Had great chemistry with Al Pacino who was also doing a great performance. Really liked this. A

City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

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This was June’s Blind Spot for me. Finally got to see it and review it. Here is my review of City Lights.

Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007)

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Another super tense thriller. I liked how it played with narrative. I feel like I need to see it again to go through the story again. Even though I don’t consider him an actor with a lot of range and like more his work as a director, George Clooney did a great job here. Tom Wilkinson was outstanding and Tilda Swinton was exceptional as always. She reminded me of Lydia from Breaking Bad, the type of villain who reacts on fear, is so calculated. Even though she’s weak and always afraid she’s also ruthless. Just like Lydia the Tattooed Lady. A

The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994)

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The praise is worthy. Very emotional story and a brilliant script. A perfect and highly satisfying ending. What more could I say about this film? A

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)

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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was September’s Blind Spot. A review will come out soon. Do angels look like young Catherine Deneuve? They probably do.

The Secret In Their Eyes (Juan Jose Campanella, 2009)

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I like story that goes on for longer periods. This is an outstanding story about a murder mystery, revenge, lost love and justice. Gorgeously shot (the segments involving the train especially). I am so glad this won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s a brilliant and epic story. It’s funny, tragic, cruel, charming. The acting is outstanding and the script is very strong. Highly recommended. A

Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

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I reviewed this one. You can check out my thoughts on it here.

Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)

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Even though I haven’t seen any of Douglas Sirk’s melodramas, I know Far From Heaven pays homage to them. Far From Heaven has that essence of classic Hollywood films shot in a studio. Julianne Moore was great as usual. Was impressed by Dennis Quaid, never thought he had it in him. Probably the most beautifully shot film set in autumn. B+

Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)

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Eraserhead was this month’s Blind Spot. A review will come out soon. In Heaven Everything Is Fine. That song is my jam.

Listen Up Phillip (Alex Ross Perry, 2014)

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Well, this was original. It’s hard to describe Listen Up Phillip. It’s narration, they way it’s shot and the beautiful and melancholic jazz soundtrack make for an interesting combination I haven’t seen before. Jason Schwatzman’s character is such an asshole but I have to admit that sometimes he was right. But I enjoyed the moments he lost. I can’t believe so many beautiful women fell for this smug. Returning to the film, it’s something different. It’s got this cool retro look that I liked. The dialogue and narration are sharp. However, it’s not for everyone. You will probably break your screen trying to punch Phillip. But don’t worry, the film’s not all about him. B+

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)

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By the end you realize this story is so much more than what it appears to be. Viggo Mortensen masters this role of a Russian who infiltrates the Russian mob from London. It’s a really dedicated performance and he got recognized for that with an Oscar nomination. The score is extremely beautiful and heartbreaking. I was bothered a bit by the ending which seemed to Hollywood-ish (not the very last scene, but the climax). It’s still a cruel, touching and very story brought to life by a very talented cast. B+

Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969)

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I can’t say I was blown away by the story. It was alright, but the acting from the two leads is among the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a sad story, a dream-shattering one. I am surprised this one Best Picture. It’s X-rated. It’s very dark. B+

White Bird In A Blizzard (Gregg Araki, 2014)

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A coming-of-age story mixed with a murder mystery/disappearance one. Eva Green plays Shailene Woodley’s mother in this. The film focuses on Woodley’s character and how she reacts to her mother’s sudden vanishing and recounts her strange relationship with her. It’s a stylish film with a super duper cool soundtrack full of 80’s hits. In terms of story it doesn’t bring anything new, but I enjoyed the mystery, the performances,the style and the soudntrack (check out the opening song by Cocteau Twins). Also, Laura Palmer is in this. (Twin Peaks returning is more surprising than anything I’ve heard this year. I am still shocked) B

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 1971)

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Willy Wonka and The Cholocate Factory was August’s Blind Spot. A review will come out soon. Pure Imagination is a gem of a song.

Ghost In The Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995)

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Being a big fan of cyberpunk and techno punk, I had to see this. And I consider myself a fan of anime. Ghost In The Shell is a pretty cool story about a female android cop who searches a hacker named The Puppet Master. The visuals are cool, there is a lot of action and the atmosphere is present. I found the story hard to follow though. Sometimes I barely knew what was going on. I watched it with English subtitles, no dubs, but because they talked so fast I barely had time to put the pieces of the story together. I wasn’t clueless the whole time but it had to read the whole plot description on Wikipedia after. It’s still an awesome story. Hollywood is currently in pre-production for a live action remake with Scarlet Johansson in the lead. That would be interesting to see. B

An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981)

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My Halloween pick which I watched last night. This is more a comedy horror than just scares and gore. I wasn’t scared at all about it, but it was a lot of fun. The transformation scene is fantastic. The director chose a very straightforward approach to making this film. Doesn’t drag the story. it ends abruptly but I guess the couldn’t have done anything more after. It was just unusual. The girl who played the nurse was really cute. And she had a striking resemblance to Annette Bening. B

Frank (Lenny Abrahamson, 2014)

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Glad I got to see this one. I am a big fan of films set in the music industry. This one takes us inside one of those obscure, hipster bands and focuses on their front man, Frank. It’s quite funny but never shies away from some morbid material. Gotta love that final song. After I saw the film I found out Frank was inspired by a real man, Frank Sidebottom. After I read his story I got depressed. Really sad and now I am slightly creeped out by the head.  But the film is great. Maggic Gyllenhaal really knows how to play bitchy women. B

Life of Crime (Daniel Schechter, 2013)

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This Elmore Leonard adaptation and Jackie Brown prequel is not bad at all. Haven’t seen a good crime comedy in a while. Jennifer Annsiton shows she’s better than those rom-coms she used to do. This year specifically she did different work: this together with the drama Cake and the Peter Bogdanovich film She’s Funny That Way. She’s very good here too. Liked the 70’s vibe. Very entertaining. B

Eros (Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh, Wong Kar Wai, 2004)

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This anthology film focuses on the themes of love and eroticism with some shorts better than others. Wong Kar Wai’s The Hand is the most accomplished of the three. It looks very much like 2046. It’s sexy, classy and is successful in actually touching the subjects proposed, unlike others. And the music is what you can expect from a Wong Kar Wai film. Listen to this. I should check out more of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s and his composer Peer Raben’s work.B+

Steven Soderbergh’s Equillibrium left me scratching my head. It’s pretty stylish in the opening which features all blue. The rest is a B&W story set in the 50’s probably, with Robert Downey Jr. at a therapy session. The shrink is played by Alan Arkin. I have no idea what it is about. I think it’s supposed to be funny. I appreciate the execution but the message went over my head. It’s pretty stylish though. C+

The third short is from Michelangelo Antonioni. It’s called The Dangerous Thread of Things. This is my introduction to Antonioni. I couldn’t have picked a worst beginning to my relationship with his work. This is outrageously bad. It’s pretentious. The dialogue it’s awful. It’s also dubbed in a very noticeable way. Terrible in so many ways. The people were good looking and at times its imagery did evoke eroticism but as a whole it’s a failure. Too bad it was his last work. D-

As a whole, Eros is an uneven experience. I would have preferred if they chose different directors to replace Antonioni and Soderbergh. It’s a good idea for an anthology film. Maybe it will get remade someday. I would also like to recommend this song by Caetano Veloso titled Michelangelo Antonioni which is the film’s theme. Overall the film gets a C+.

Wish I Was Here (Zach Braff, 2014)

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I pretty much had the same response I had watching Garden State. It’s alright, but nothing special. It’s mostly a familiar story, excluding the Jewish school subplot. Beautifully shot. It’s a mellow film, that you can pop in when you feel like watching something not too complicated. C+

Poarta Alba (Nicolae Margineanu, 2014)

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I don’t see as many films from my country as I should. I’m trying to change that. This film’s translated title is White Gate. It’s the name of a jail where from 1949 to 1953 prisoners helped build the Danube-Black Sea Canal. It focuses on two college students who are captured trying to leave Romania to escape the oppressive regime in power at that time. A lot of innocent people got in here for minor things. There was a teacher who got in for writing a single sentence about Moscow. There was a man who named his dog Stalin (This one is treated comically in the film). There was a man who gave a loaf of bread to a fugitive. A lot of this kind of cases. The story has a familiar path. The actors were alright and for some it was their debut. I rarely see music in Romanian films mostly because there is not a budget for it. This film has some opera music but it’s totally misplaced. I am glad though that I saw this. It’s not great, can’t say it’s really good but I saw a film from my country and I think it’s great to support the arts. Especially in a state where it doesn’t get that much attention. We should all do that more. C+

This Is Where I Leave You (Shawn Levy, 2014)

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You’ve seen this film before. Family gathers together for some occasion. The children all have their problems. One comes with the wrong partner. One is in a bad marriage or just out of one and the person they love is still living at home waiting for them to be available. Unsupervised children do cute things. Some sex jokes. Some get punched in the face. It’s all the same. I wanted to like this film. I thought it would be one of those easy films. The great cast prepared me for that experience. A real shame. By the end I hated it. It also has a twist. D+

Annabelle (John R. Leonetti, 2014)

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Devoid of real scares, this spinoff of 2013’s The Conjuring is second-rate horror. It uses only jump scares and annoying buzzing sounds to create dread. The doll is barely seen in the film and when it appears on screen it does nothing. It levitates once and that’s it. There is not much done with that doll which should have been the focus of the film. I am amazed at how much money it made, over 150 million $ worldwide against a 6.5 million $ budget. D

Second or Multiple Viewings:

2046 (Wong Kar Wai, 2004)

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I love this film so much. With this viewing I found more depth to the characters and enjoyed the mood even more. Even though I don’t agree with Chow’s opinion at the end, it’s the right way to finish his story. A+

TV Viewing:

Seinfeld: Seasons 1-3 (1989 – 1992)

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 Yeah, it’s pretty funny. Really clever and so much better than Friends. I am watching this show in small portions because I can’t stand the characters’ behavior sometimes. I could live without Kramer. I don’t get why people cheer everytime he walks in. And George. I don’t like this guy at all. The actor does a great job but the character himself is  such a drag. Always complaining and being so despicable all the time. Woody Allen’s characters are neurotic but this guy takes it to a whole new level. He might ruin the show for me.

The writing is really strong. I am currently in season 4 and now they are going meta by doing an NBC show about nothing. The smart writing, the cast’s chemistry. Special stuff. But George has to tone it down. A

The Affair (2014 -)

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This month, a new Showtime drama called The Affair premiered. It’s about an affair between a writer on his vacation with his family played by Dominic West and a waitress played by Ruth Wilson. Affairs are usually nothing special in films and TV. But here it’s developed in a complex manner. The concept of the show is that the two are each telling their own version of the affair to a detective who investigates a murder. It’s two shows into one. The writing is great and the acting is tremendous. Please give it a try. A

The Goldbergs: Season 1 (2013 – 2014)

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I enjoy this show a lot. It takes place in the 80’s. The little kid is based on the creator and he tells stories about his family when he was growing up in the 80’s. Each episode ends with real camera recordings done by him as a kid of the things that happened in that episode. I’ve never seen anyone doing this before. I wonder how his family feels about this.

The characters are funny. The mom is my favorite character. She gets the better lines. She’s a smother, suffocating mother, over supportive of her kids. In real life she would be torture, but here she cracks me up every time. A-

Jane The Virgin: Pilot (2014)

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This show sounded so dumb. Virgin girl gets accidentally inseminated and becomes pregnant. But it turns out it’s good. I watched the pilot out of curiosity because everyone was so surprised at how great it is. It’s a remake of a Venezuelan telenovela. It’s funny and has a great cast. I was surprised too. It made fun of the whole telenovela genre. So it’s in on the joke. However, I won’t keep watching it. It’s a CW show after all. They’re not for me. It’s definitely a girl’s show. But it’s not bad. Nice to see a surprise from time to time. B

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Regarding The Twilight Zone, I only watched three episodes this month. The one entitled Two with the aftermath of a war, The Jungle or the one with the New York lion and Little Girl Lost or the one with the fourth dimension portal. Two was the best of the bunch. It’s minimalist, but the acting is some of the best the show ever had. The writing is stellar too. Has an anti-war message.

What did you watch last month? And what do you think of my list?

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2 comments

  1. Unfortunately Serena got many bad reviews. Susanne Bier’s scandinavian work I am a big fan of, no interest in Serena

    Henry VIII and his wives…Have you seen The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) ? I don’t know if it’s good.

    You crossed off some big ones this month! I love City Lights, The Shawshank Redemption, Midnight Cowboy(agree about performances), Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, Eraserhead, and An American Werewolf in London(the transformation still holds up)

    You’ve been watching a few neo noirs I see, Eastern Promises and The Secret in their Eyes. I actually compiled a top 50, but don’t pay attention to the ranking: http://letterboxd.com/mas365/list/top-50-neo-noir-work-in-progress/

    Notice you comment on my site, and also The Matinee, yet both links are not on your follow sidebar? Just seemed odd to me 🙂 I think Ryan is too busy to comment on other sites.

    Remember you are fan of Dirty Beaches. If you haven’t already, you can stream their new album until nov 3: http://pitchfork.com/advance/
    Have a great month!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. About Serena, I’ve been waiting for it for a while. I am aware of the bad reviews but I still want to see it. Plus a Romanian actress plays a supporting role as Bradley Cooper’s ex-wife. I want to see that. I think she is the reason the film got released in my country. She is very talented and won a Romanian Oscar for Best Actress some years ago.

      I haven’t seen The Other Boleyn Girl but I didn’t hear good stuff about it. And I don’t know if it focuses on the entire story. Probably just a part.

      Yeah, I’m glad I got those off my chest. That transformation scene from Werewolf was incredible.

      I have actually seen your list on letterboxd. I will get some inspiration from it when I feel in the mood for a neo-noir.

      About the follow sidebar. I have actually added your blog to the feed from the very beginning, but for some reason it’s hard for wordpress to remember blogs from blogger like yours is. I have a lot more blogs on my feed than the ones presented including yours and Ryan’s. Just some problems with the platform.

      I will check out the Dirty Beaches album. Thanks for the link.
      A great month to you, too!

      Like

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