Recently Watched

Kicking off the CoR's film week. If that's not your topic, see you in November.

Duo luo tian shi
(Fallen Angels) (1995): There's a killer and there's a prostitute, but never mind the little plot there is. This offering from Wong Kar-Wai (of Chunking Express fame) explores the idea of choosing to live on the off the field by means of style. Set entirely during the neon-enlightened Hongkong night, the film liberally mixes b/w and colour, uses unconventional camera angles and foregrounds pop music in a way that nowadays comes across as very 1990s, but in a good way. 7/10 if you're in the mood for this kind of thing.

The Hangover (2009): Having gone to Las Vegas with the intention of drinking themselves legless, our protagonists wake up the next day, can't remember a thing and try to find out what happened. Contains all the plot elements I could have thought of (So they were in a hospital? Really?), but, although it's clearly aimed at a teen audience, I found this film to be a decent enough way to spend 90 minutes. (6/10)

Unforgiven (1992): I can't see what all the fuss is about. An old gunman, who's not that good at gunning anymore, comes to town to gun down some baddies, and in the end there is a lot of shooting. (6/10)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941): Not related to the Pitt-Jolie film of the same name, this romantic comedy might be seen to suggest that Hitchcock should have concentrated on thrillers. But how many pre-1941 Hitchkocks can you name that were better? (6/10)

Rocker (1971): One may wonder whether the, cough, cough, non-mainstream appearance of this German indie film is due to incompetence or choice. A bit of both, I guess. The real mystery, however, is how it made it onto the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? list of the 1000 most critically acclaimed films ever. (4.5/10)

Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player) (1960): In its heyday, the nouvelle vague was widely perceived as bringing a fresh approach to film aesthetics. Some fifty years later, it again looks fresh. In an old way. If you know what I mean. (6.5/10) And while we're at it:

Pickpocket (1959): With some films, I feel they would work better as a written narrative. The extensive voiceover used in this look at the bottom rung of society is no substitute for what you could do in a novel if you have a subject matter that's 70% character of the protagonist and 30% plot. An extra half point for the excellent scence at the train station in which wallets are swapped back and forth. Trivia section: Actress Marika Green (Jeanne) bears a striking resemblance to Nicolette Krebitz. (6/10)

Le salarie de la peur (Wages of Fear) (1953): This film about four men hired to drive trucks that are loaded with nitroglycerine over bumpy South American dirt roads is very solid suspense work indeed, never seeming long despite running for well over two hours. Its stellar reputation as a masterpiece, however, may also have something to do with the fact that this is a b/w 1950s French film, but a little more, you know, fun than your average Truffaut. Trivia section: In one scene, you can almost sort of see VĂ©ra Clouzot's nipples, very unusual in those days. (7/10)

A History of Violence (2005): Tom Stall appears to be a clean-cut guy until his past comes back to haunt him, but from there on it's ugly, ugly, ugly. You shouldn't expect a romantic comedy featuring lots of cute puppies when getting a film called A History of Violence, but I can't say I enjoyed this gloomy slashfest. (unrated)

Elegy (2008): The Dying Animal, the Philip Roth novel this one's based on, is maybe my favourite of Roth's book, but it is short, introspective and not exactly plot-driven, thus not giving a filmmaker an awful lot to work with. Given that, the film delivers about as much as you can reasonably expect. An extra .5 points for Ben Kingsley's face. (6.5/10)

People I Know (2002): Pretends to be a thriller for a while and develops a lot of threads that are all dangling in the air when the film is over. I guess what the screenwriter had in mind was the tragic portrait of an ageing professional; as that kind of film, it fails. (4.5/10)

Fracture (2007): This crime/court thriller featuring Anthony Hopkins as the baddie is nice enough, but has a made-for-TV feel to it. And the ending's a bit hard to believe. (5.5/10)

The Village (2004): There seems to be some general agreement that M. Night Shyamalan's carreer after the excellent and wildly successful Sixth Sense is a failure. True, none of his films were as good as this big hit, but Unbreakable was a worthy follow-up, and Signs was a fine film, too. The Village, about nineteenth-century peasants who can't leave their hamlet because it is surrounded by woods inhabited by hostile creatures is also recommended. Visually very disciplined and using the colour red ("forbidden" because it attracts the creatures) to great effect in the few scenes in which it makes an appearance, it also features some of those plot twists Shyamalan loves so much. (7.5/10)

The Caine Mutiny (1954): Thorough as a German civil servant, this minor classic recounts the fictional mutiny on a 2nd world war American minesweeper, including prehistory, buildup, mutiny, preceedings before the court martial and coda (or whatever you want to call it). Entertaining in a conventional way, it almost appears like a conscious antithesis to anything artsy-fartsy and postmodern. Deductions for 1950s-quality special effects and Humphrey Bogart for confirming my long-held suspicion that he'd be found out by any role that involved substantially more than smoking. (6.5/10)

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