What I Watched, What You Watched: Installment #114

1911 posterI saw two films at the Seattle Cinerama in 70mm this week and I also tried to watch a screener of Jackie Chan's 1911, which I will tell you right now I only managed to watch 37 minutes of it. It was truly awful as it attempted to serve as a history lesson detailing the revolutionaries that brought about the fall of China's Qing Dynasty. Too bad it was about as dull as a film can get with a lot of onscreen explanation in-between each scene, attempting to establish what you are about to watch before it went into tedious, generic and overly melodramatic action sequences I felt entirely removed from.

The sound effects sounded like they were straight out of "Call of Duty" with guns being cocked every two seconds; there were jarring edits, even in the middle of someone speaking; they put almost every character's name on screen for about one second before flashing it off, fortunately it didn't matter who any of them were; and the acting was was so bad there were a few American actors involved, speaking as if English was their second language. Once some guy named Homer appeared for the second time I was checking out. Just dreadful.

All of that said, let's take a look at a film I did enjoy and then get to what you watched.

Cleopatra (1963)

I already discussed this one earlier this week after I saw it in 70mm so I don't think I need to say much more here. However, I did go see 2001 in 70mm last night, which I will be writing about soon enough, but for now I am going to go enjoy my Sunday.

So now I leave it to you, what did you watch this week?

  • Nitin Bohara

    1. Adaminte Makan Abu(Abu, Son of Adam). This is India's official entry to Best Foreign Language Film Oscars. It is an immensely moving film. But since the makers lack enough funds to promote it, I'm not sure if it will be noticed much.

    2. Blue Valentine. This is definitely one of best performances by both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

  • Ron

    Warrior: One of the best films I've seen this year. Great performances by Edgerton, Nolte and Hardy. If you weren't convinced that Tom Hardy will own as Bane, you will after seeing this movie! The movie tends to be a bit formulaic at times though, but the fighting sequences make up for that. 8.5/10

  • Winchester

    Nothing in cinemas this week.

    At Home -

    The Haunting (1963): DVD rewatch - To be honest I'm more a fan of the elements of the sound design and effects that made the film stand out in the 1960s but I much prefer 'The Innocents' in terms of being a more satisfying ghost story set in an old house. The plot is fine but it's too old to be particularly scary so when I watch it it doesn't have any effect on me that way.

    Beauty & The Beast (1991): Blu-ray rewatch - But first watch on Blu-ray which I bought it on as part of a little Disney Blu-ray splurge I went on this week as they were on 'Buy One, Get One Free' in the UK just now . This is actually my personal favourite Disney animation ever and it looked tremendous on Blu-ray from start to finish. A classic tale, executed brilliantly and I will watch this for years to come.

    Sister Act (1992): TV airing, rewatch - It's a fun harmless and utterly safe little comedy which has a great comic Whoopi performance in the middle, which is just why I like it every once in a while.

    Cars (2006): Blu-ray, rewatch - Yeah, it's the poor relation apparently in the Pixar canon but it's warmth and simplicity and stunning animation win me over more than several other Pixar films.

    Wall-E (2008): Blu-ray, rewatch - It's more the first 30 odd minutes that I really love more than the last hour when I think it settles down from exceptional to just really good. But again, the animation is flawless and jaw-dropping on the Blu-ray format. Again, one of my preferred Pixar films overall.

    The Boat The Rocked (2009): Blu-ray, rewatch - Released as 'Pirate Radio' in the US at the time. Anyway, I like the film but I don't think it's overly coherent and it's more like it's a collection of great scenes that evoke the time but which don't coalesce into a proper film that has a real story to tell. It's like a little wind down memory lane. on that level, I find it pleasant to watch once in a while but not that often. As ever, Bill Nighy steals the film and so does Emma Thompson in a small cameo.

    The Tourist (2010): Blu-ray, rewatch - I'm not sure why I rewatched this...............I'm really not. But I did. moving on..........

    Winter's Bone (2010): Blu-ray, First watch - I thought it was a pretty good thriller, but also one that I'm not yet sure I would ever feel the need to revisit. I have zero idea about life in the Ozarks so I don't know if the cultural and societal life the film shows is in any way accurate but if it is.............hardship isn't the word for it. Especially if a woman. I liked Lawrence's work but although it's a moot point I'm not sure I can get behind the Best Actress nomination. Or John Hawkes I'm afraid. But, that's all old so it doesn't matter. The thriller aspects also worked well without flashiness and the whole film was solid. But I can't see me coming back to it hugely in the future.

    In TV-Land I had to take a break with 'Fringe' season 2 but got back on track the last day or two and hit the keystone episode 'Peter' so the season is really ramping up gears now for it's story. I'm enjoying it.

    That was all this week.

  • MajorFilmFan

    The Social Network (Rewatch)- This film, with it's snappy dialogue, and sarcastic, dry humor, and electronic based score, is about as hip as they come. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield deliver stellar performances, and Aaron Sorkin's screenplay is top notch. I genuenly loved this film, but I can see why some people did not. 10/10

    50/50- This is a truly unusual film, in the way it tackles the material, and subject. This is a genuinely sweet, and frequently HILARIOUS film with a hip, alternative vibe, thanks to the wonderful soundtrack. Seth Rogen is terrific playing a version of himself, and Anna Kendrick is charming playing a version of her role in "Up In The Air". I REALLY loved this movie!!! 10/10

    The Ides of March- this is a disturbing, unsettling, intense, profane, and TERRIFIC portrait of the political circle. The cast, especially Giamati and Seymore-Hoffman are SUPERB, and the screenplay is filled with incredibly snappy dialogue. This film is hard to watc at times, in particular, the last 30 minutes, which are a real gut-punch. If you are a film buff, you NEED to see this movie!!!!! 10/10

  • C138

    Three Colors: Red - After seeing this I have now completed the trilogy. I liked the movie a lot, and I found it to be the least obviously 'artsy' of the three. I'm looking forward to the Criterion release of this trilogy next month. 4.5/5

    Once Upon a Time in the West - I still find it a bit hard to believe I had never seen this movie before until this week, but that's the case. I saw a Blu-ray copy for $10 at Best Buy and couldn't resist. I loved every moment of it, certainly one of the best westerns I've seen and Henry Fonda is one of the more cold villains to grace the screen. It's also stunningly well shot. 4.5/5


    The Omen (1976) - I used to like this movie a lot when I was younger, and I hadn't watched it since my freshman or sophomore year of high school when the remake came out. It's still a good movie, although not a great one, and has some genuinely creepy moments. It especially gets real good when the story picks up in the second half. 3.5/5

    Black Hawk Down - Another very well shot and directed movie, with unbelievable sound on the Blu-ray. Despite not totally explaining all of the historical context the situation took place in or giving a little bit more of a Somali point of view, it's still a great 'you are there' type of experience movie. It's impressive how Ridley Scott is able to keep the story coherent amidst the duration of the battle. 4/5

    Pulp Fiction - Another movie I picked up this week on Blu-ray. Endlessly quotable and full of energy, it's one of the fastest paced movies I've watched in quite a while. I liked it a lot the first time I watched it but pretty much loved it this time around. Ving Rhames and Samuel L. Jackson especially deliver some hilarious dialogue. 5/5

  • Criterion10

    A caught up on a few Ken Russell films . . .

    Billion Dollar Brain -- Ehh, this was your typical 60s cold war, British spy movie. Ken Russell did the best he could with this film. I found the ending to be very poor. C

    The Boy Friend -- I picked this up via the Warner Archive, and the quality was better than I expected it to be. That being said, there was still much room for improvement. Overall, I enjoyed this movie very much, and I probably would've liked it better had I not been falling asleep during it. The film was full of bright colors and some great musical numbers. B+

    Whore -- Russell said that he made this movie as a response to Pretty Woman, in order to show the true life of a prostitute. This film was very campy though, much like a B-movie or exploitation flick. Theresa Russell breaking the fourth wall throughout the whole movie got very annoying. The acting was rather poor and the film was not very well made. Yet somehow, I enjoyed this for what it was, a campy, B-movie. C (and that's being generous)

    I find Russell to be a very interesting filmmaker, his masterpieces being The Devils and Tommy. It's a shame that Warner won't release The Devils. It's a film that needs to seen.

  • Travis

    Full Metal Jacket: Terrfic first half, gripping second half, Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey and the actor who plays Gomer Pyle whose last name I can't remember gave excellent performances. Overall, 4/5
    All That Jazz (rewatch): Still one of the best movies I've ever seen, 5/5
    Bowling for Columbine: It was a gamechanging documentary, but it felt long, repetitive and a little too egocentric for my tastes, 2.5/5

  • Forrest Gump

    The Man from Nowhere 8/10 - Nice fight scenes in it
    Five Easy Pieces 8/10 - Jack Nicholson is very funny in this
    Ocean's Eleven 10/10 (re-watch) - My favorite robbery movie
    Animal Kingdom 10/10 (re-watch) - Third time i've watched this and it only gets better with each viewing.
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 10/10 (re-watch) - Maybe my favorite trilogy of all time

  • tombeet

    The Secret of Kells (2009) [Re-watch] 3.5/3.5
    A good film. In the era of expensive, realistic CGI animation (blame Pixar??, and Dreamworks, lol); a tiny indie hand-drawn gem like this one is fantastic. I love the colour and the character designs. The story is a bit weak though.

    Finding Nemo (2003) [re-watch] 4/4
    This is a classic movie. I can watch it every time in any part and still enjoy it.

    Best in Show (2000) [1st watch] 4/4
    Very funny mockumentary from Christopher Guest. As watched Waiting for Guffman before (and enjoyed it), I know what to expect from this movie, and still I was impressed on how brilliant it was.

    This Is Spinal Tap (1984) [1st watch] 4/4.5
    a timeless "rockumentary" movie. Some moments are simply witty and funny.

    Metropolitan (1990) [1st watch] 3.5/4
    A first film I watched from Whit Stillman and I'd say that I like the philosophy of the film. The main strength of this film is dialogue. I felt like I'm watching a less philosophical version of My Dinner with Andre with a sense of Woody Allen's touch. It's a kind of film that your perspective will change each time you watch it. I think it will be more relevance the next time I watch it.

    Miller's Crossing (1990) [re-watch] 4/4
    I must say the first time I watched this movie, I didn't understand what the heck is happening (no wonder the Coen's brothers suffer writer's block while making it). This time I quite "get" it. The movie is a tight-plot structure, but what is standout is the cinematography and art direction.

    A Town Called Panic (2008) [1st watch] 3.5/3.5
    A crazy (in its own way), somewhat surreal film that also provides a lot of laugh. A snappy stop-motion animation (I think it's intentional) may turn off some people, but the film is really unique. Should check it out.

    $9.99 (2008) [1st watch] 3/3
    The visual is impressive, those small stories are good enough but it doesn't work as a whole. As a result, in the end I'm not quite sure what to feel about it. Quite a pity because it should've been better.

    Sita Sings the Blues (2008) [re-watch] 4/4
    It becomes my addiction. I loved every moments of it. It works more like a satire and breath a new life to its story, and animation as a whole. About the autobiography part, there were some criticism for its inclusion because it's not relate to the story; but imo it DOES relate and it shows people how she connect the Ramayana tale + 20s Blues + why she choose to do this in a first place. I really appreciate this movie. Bravo.

    Also in TV airplay, I caught 3 great films that were showing AT THE SAME TIME: Mesrine (part 1), The Machinist, Bonnie and Clyde. I ended up watching little pieces of each movie but not as a whole (though I did watch the Machinist and Bonnie and Clyde before), so I think it doesn't count.

  • Travis

    I had hoped to catch The Ides of March tonight before coming home from Thanksgiving (Canadian) at my Aunt's, but things went a little long, it didn't happen so again this week I only saw one film.

    X-Men: First Class - A decent enough film with good performances from Fassbender, Bacon and McAvoy as expected (and an awful one from January Jones as expected), but it was far too generic, predictable as compared to what I had hoped for, though I did enjoy some of the action sequences. Also, though I did like some of the choices he made cinematography, editing-wise later in the film, I still haven't seen what so many others seem to see in Matthew Vaughn as a director, though this one is at least more consistent in its tone than Kick-Ass. B-

  • Fan

    Lust, Caution (rewatch)B- Such a dark story and tredgic... Tony Leung is a monster in this film... A character I sure as hell haven't seen him played before... Great performance by Tony Leung and Tang Wei. They really jump into their roles. Tony Leung character is a man of power and every scene with Tang Wei character she is careful to not step over him, he is obivously in charge. When she realize she hasn't mispoken she always retrack or makes a suggestion as not to insult him or tell him what to do. And that goes for the first sex scene she tells him to sit down while she takes off her clothes, but Tony Leung character Mr. Yee shows that he's in charge, the scene is explict and quite SHOCKING. But it makes a point about his character a really, dark, direct and menacing guy. He's a high ranking officer in the Japanese Regime in China he interrogates resistance members. It never shows him interrogating, but he decribes the brutalitly of an interrogation to Tang character. He interrogates people all day stressful job I'm guessing, we don't ever see or know the full extent of how he interrogates his capives, but I'm guessing it's violent, however his brutalitly is shown through the explict sex scene with Tang's character. But as the story progress it becomes more passionate. And he eventually falls in love with her and vise versa she falls in love with him.

    Tang Wei plays a naive college student Wong Chia-chi that got caught up in a assassination plan by Leehom Wang a patrotic college student who wants to help the war effort anyway possible. Wong Chia-chi goes from actress in a colleege play into a temptress and mistress... Quite sad actully and tredgic she has to go through a rough transaction, no pun intended, having to learn how to have intercourse. That's tough because in a Chinese culture having sex before marriage that's looked down upon, shameful. And the f-up thing about it is went she comes back explains of they're gonna have to go about the plan she tells them that'll she'll have to become his mistress, but they already talked about and decided without her, she didn't even have a saying, it's already decided. She temps Mr. Yee in everyway: looks, offering help, situtations with her "marriage" etc. He doesn't even care about her until she keeps temping him and finally he gives in. She hates him and loves him, in then end when it came down to it kill him or not she back out. She falls in love with him. Even though he did all this to her he's the only one that cares for her. Old Wu only cares about the misson. Leehom cares for her but never showed it until she's caught in the vise of Yee. It's to late. In the end she say to final words to Yee "Go now". He escapes but doesn't he really, in the end his wife said they took Wong Chai-chi and some of his papers from his office. And one of his man knew all long about his affairs and they Wong Chai-chi was working for the resistances, so... maybe he doesn't get away. It's a dark story of lies, decept, love and betrayal. A really gritty film from Ang Lee. (B)