10 on the 10th – May 2017

The last 10 films I’ve watched are about as solid a group of films as you’ll randomly find. While You’re Welcome, America shows some spottiness that perhaps mars its dizzying highs, the least of this 10 is The Odyssey, a French bio-pic about Jacques-Yves Cousteau that was completely off my radar. The Odyssey feels heavily formulaic, constantly checking off the boxes of bio-pic adversity, but it remains a very enjoyable watch, gorgeous to the eye and featuring Audrey Tautou stealing every scene she’s in. Certainly recommended for fans of JYC.

  1. Macunaíma (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1969)
  2. Planet Earth II (Various, 2016)
  3. Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome, America: A Final Night with George W. Bush (Marty Callner, 2009)
  4. The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (Emilio Miraglia, 1972)
  5. The World of Kanako (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2014)
  6. The Rapacious Jailbreaker (Sadao Nakajima, 1974)
  7. Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)
  8. The Odyssey (Jérôme Salle, 2016)
  9. One More Time with Feeling (Andrew Dominik, 2016)
  10. Chopper (Andrew Dominik, 2000)

The Andrew Dominik double feature was by accident and I can’t say enough about the visual trick Dominik executes at the end of One More Time with Feeling, conjuring a ghost on the viewer’s retina with uncanny elegance. Possession lived up to its mind-blowing reputation, The World of Kanako felt like a lost Tony Scott film, and Macunaíma is recommended for those aiming for higher degrees of tropical whimsy and absurdity in their Herzog or Jodorowsky. Those looking for more straightforward thrills would be well-served by The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, The Rapacious Jailbreaker, and Chopper. Planet Earth II is listed on Letterboxd and so it makes the last 10 films I’ve watched despite obviously being a TV mini-series. The pigeon-eating catfish help too!

10 on the 10th – April 2017

Movie watching has been slow-going of late, what with television dominating our screening minutes. MasterChef: AustraliaLucha Underground, The Venture Bros., and Guy’s Grocery Games: Supermarket Masters Tournament have been keeping it classy around MMC!. And it’ll be tough times for cinema with JordskottFive Came Back, Archer Dreamland, The Gorburger Show, and the NBA playoffs on the immediate horizon. Nevertheless, the last 10 movies I’ve watched are:

  1. Yakuza Hooligans 893 (Sadao Nakajima, 1966)
  2. A Touch of Zen (King Hu, 1971)
  3. The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948)
  4. Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2015)
  5. Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
  6. Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970)
  7. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  8. Deafula (Peter Wolf, 1975)
  9. Porco Rosso (Hayao Miyazaki, 1992)
  10. Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, 2017)

This just in and you heard it here first – Toni Erdmann is really good. See it before Kristen Wiig and Jack Nicholson turn it into Dinner with Schmucks (Jay Roach, 2010), a movie that I do enjoy but takes some crazy liberties with its very entertaining source material, Francis Veber’s The Dinner Game (1998).

A Touch of Zen is dazzling to the eye and manages to feel measured and accelerated, dedicated and diverted, all at once. Shin Godzilla takes on the plodding monster that is political bureaucracy (with tongue firmly in cheek). Porco Rosso remains one of Studio Ghibli’s undervalued masterpieces. But a warning should be heeded – stay away from Deafula … far away. Its American sign language-meets-vampire movie premise can’t save it from the failings of its art house pretensions.

Lastly, you can still vote for the cult cinema genre to be featured in our next Arrow Video proposal. Please head over to our poll and vote for your favourite!!!

10 on the 10th – March 2017

The only real disappointment amongst the last 10 movies I’ve watched was Searchers (1986), an Inuit take on John Ford’s The Searchers (1956). While having a fascinating sound design and an impressive arctic re-imagining of Monument Valley, it’s little more than home invasion genre exercise and is beneath Kunuk’s usual standard. Best in Show is shared between The Gate, a wonderful kids’ horror flick with stellar special effects, and Millennium Actress, an impressive survey of Japanese national and cinema histories told through a personal meta-narrative. The fact that there will be no more films by Satoshi Kon is tragic.

  1. The Gate (Tibor Takács, 1987)
  2. Sólo con tu pareja (Alfonso Cuarón, 1991)
  3. Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon, 2001)
  4. Santo vs. las lobas (Rubén Galindo and Jaime Jiménez Pons, 1972)
  5. Dead End Drive-In (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1986)
  6. Babo 73 (Robert Downey Sr., 1964)
  7. Searchers (Zacharias Kunuk and Natar Ungalaaq, 2016)
  8. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
  9. Tora-san’s Lovesick (Yoji Yamada, 1974)
  10. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)

I saw I Am Not Your Negro and Get Out about 12 hours apart, making them into something of a double bill and I very much recommend that pairing. James Baldwin’s commentaries in I Am Not Your Negro movingly describe the challenge of living in an environment that is openly resistant to your presence, yet dubiously blind to that opposition. Taking Baldwin’s frustration and lament at being an alien within your own country and transposing that into the experience of Get Out is particularly informative, as the micro-aggression paranoia of this post-racial Twilight Zone episode encapsulates then allegorizes Baldwin’s view of American racial hegemony. Get Out isn’t a perfect film. It’s premise is easily foreseeable, making it slow to progress toward its reveal, then brief in its resolution, but its concept and execution display a confidence and an intelligence that makes Jordan Peele a rising new voice in feature filmmaking.

10 on the 10th – February 2017

the-champions-of-justiceThe last ten films I’ve watched boast various highlights – Takashi Shimura’s warm, paternal energy (Points and Lines), Marina Malfatti’s plunging necklines (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave), Amanda Donohoe’s long, lean torso (The Lair of the White Worm), the Black Hand’s pack of super-powered, little people henchmen (The Champions of Justice). Still, the biggest surprise of the bunch was discovering that the Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint of The Lair of the White Worm is none other than the constantly irritated, often sweary, and so very young Peter Capaldi!

  1. Points and Lines (Tsuneo Kobayashi, 1958)
  2. I Remember You (Ali Khamvaev, 1985)
  3. The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (Emilio Miraglia, 1971)
  4. The Lair of the White Worm (Ken Russell, 1988)
  5. Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 1969)
  6. Sausage Party (Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan, 2016)
  7. The Champions of Justice (Federico Curiel, 1971)
  8. Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (François Girard, 1993)
  9. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (André Øvredal, 2016)
  10. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)

the-autopsy-of-jane-doeWhile I enjoyed most of the films listed here, I felt particularly conflicted with Aquarius and The Autopsy of Jane Doe. While Aquarius features a wonderful performance by Sônia Braga, I thought her character was willfully blind to real issues connected to her “dog-in-a-manger” position on her apartment and the film’s Erin Brockovich-like ending was a clever bow tied up over a lot of undeveloped conflicts. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is an amazing concept with a very solid first act that is gradually allowed to deflate into nothing by the film’s conclusion. I could actually see myself watching Autopsy again in the vain hope that it will manage to suddenly live up to its splendid premise and will have somehow remedied its failure in my time away from it. Both films have great things going on in them, but nevertheless left me frustrated.

10 on the 10th – January 2017

I’m please to say that among the last 10 movies that I’ve watched is my favourite film of 2016 (at least for now) – La La Land. As part of that minority that was left cold by Chazelle’s Whiplash (2014) and entirely underwhelmed by Chazelle’s co-scripted 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg, 2016), I’m won over by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and ready for Chazelle’s next film.  As for the rest, no clear duds here and some real fondness was generated for All Night Long and Arrival.

  1. la-la-land-posterFour Hours of Terror (Tsuneo Kobayashi, 1959)
  2. All Night Long (Basil Dearden, 1961)
  3. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
  4. Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015)
  5. The Swinging Cheerleaders (Jack Hill, 1974)
  6. The Birth of Saké (Erik Shirai, 2015)
  7. White Christmas (Carl Tibbetts, 2014)
  8. The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015)
  9. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
  10. Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra, 2015)

Usually my list of the last 10 films I’ve watched covers the last week or two of screenings, but this list goes back even farther. A major reason for this has been our binge watching all 7 volumes of the Found Footage Festival. For those looking to cleanse their palettes after Son of Saul, I highly recommend exploring the FFF and becoming familiar with Instant Adoring Boyfriend, Corey Haim’s Me, Myself, And I, Dancing with Frank Pacholski, Rue McClanahan Cat Care Video, Carnival in Rio with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rejuvenique, and Mikenastics.

My ever-shifting “Best of 2016” list is up on Letterboxd for anyone interested and I may post something more substantive here at MMC!, perhaps in February when I’ve had a chance to catch up with just a few stragglers – The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook), One Piece Film: Gold (Hiroaki Miyamoto), Moana (John Musker and Ron Clements), Silence (Martin Scorsese), Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve), Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade), Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul), Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols), The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer), Jackie (Pablo Larraín), The Autopsy of Jane Doe (André Øvredal), Neither Heaven Nor Earth (Clément Cogitore), Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Werner Herzog), Ixcanul (Jayro Bustamante), Paterson (Jim Jarmusch), Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross).

10 in the 10th – December 2016

The last ten films I’ve watched skew toward current MMC! posts (Cruel Story) and future ones (Fighting Tatsu and Thirty Two Short Films). The Executioner and Tale of Japanese Burglars stand as real discoveries and are highly recommended.

  1. gimme-dangerAlois Nebel (Tomáš Lunák, 2011)
  2. Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (François Girard, 1993)
  3. The Executioner (Luis García Berlanga, 1963)
  4. Fighting Tatsu, the Rickshaw Man (Tai Kato, 1964)
  5. Loving (Jeff Nichols, 2016)
  6. Cruel Story at the End of the Tokugawa Shogunate (Tai Kato, 1964)
  7. Inferno (Dario Argento, 1980)
  8. Tommy Boy (Peter Segal, 1995)
  9. Gimme Danger (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
  10. Tale of Japanese Burglars (Satsuo Yamamoto, 1965)

Big ups to Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger. While his documentary is nothing special in its construction and seems unlikely to turn anyone into a Stooges fan who wasn’t one going into the film, Gimme Danger is a charismatic portrait for those already devoted to Mr. Osterberg and his crew of “true communists.” Listening to Iggy Pop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame give thanks to his friends and supporters by calling them “cool” is amazing.