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Letterboxd Film Diary, May 2019

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Letterboxd Film Reviews

5/2/2019 Man with a Movie Camera, 1929 (Rating: 4.5/5)


5/3/2019 Napoleon Dynamite, 2004 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/4/2019 What We Do in the Shadows, 2014 (Rating: 3/5)


5/5/2019 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1988 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/6/2019 Big Trouble, 2002 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/6/2019 Hot Rod, 2007 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/7/2019 Synecdoche, New York, 2008 (Rating: 4.5/5)


5/8/2019 #PostModem, 2013


5/8/2019 Mandy, 2018 (Rating: 2/5)

First, just a quick shout out to Cheddar Goblin, which has a backstory that’s even more impressive than most everything going on in Mandy. Maybe I appreciate the little snippet because it encapsulates the insanity which is generally attributed Mandy better than much of the rest of the film does. I’m a Nicolas Cage guy insofar as I think 8mm is an underrated movie, but beyond that, installing him as a backbone to a film like this doesn’t add anything to it for me. The entire time I wanted to see a performance which Cage was never afforded given how aesthetic drove the film (it reminded me a lot of Only God Forgives at times because of that)… though even if there was something more to this film, I don’t know that he is the right guy to put it over the top. Did his performance breathe life into the character? It felt like forced spectacle to have him there in the first place. Then there are added lines that throw the tone of the film off (like… his wife was just burned alive in front of him, but he gets shook because his favorite shirt is ruined?) that are meant to feed the ironic Nicolas Cage-ness of the film, or whatever, but it plays out as pointlessly goofy. Chop this thing down by about three quarters and go full-on doom metal with the soundtrack and it could have been one of the coolest music videos ever. As is, however, it’s mostly just Cheddar Goblin and a chainsaw fight.


5/8/2019 After Fall, Winter, 2012 (Rating: 0.5/5)


5/8/2019 The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, 1988


5/8/2019 The Decline of Western Civilization Part III, 1998


5/8/2019 Assault on Precinct 13, 1976 (Rating: 2/5)


5/9/2019 The Void, 2016 (Rating: 2/5)


5/9/2019 Tenebre, 1982 (Rating: 1/5)


5/9/2019 Shivers, 1975 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/9/2019 Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, 2012 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/10/2019 Masters of the Universe, 1987 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/10/2019 Spirited Away, 2001 (Rating: 3/5)


5/11/2019 The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, 2018 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/11/2019 Alien, 1979 (Rating: 4/5)


5/13/2019 Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, 1986 (Rating: 2/5)


5/13/2019 The Nice Guys, 2016 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/14/2019 Terminal, 2018 (Rating: 1/5)


5/14/2019 Frances Ha, 2012 (Rating: 3/5)


5/15/2019 Until the Light Takes Us, 2008


5/16/2019 John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, 2019 (Rating: 3/5)

Within five minutes of sitting down, the guy next to me in the theater chirped his phone (yep, a chirp… remember those?) and growled instructions into it to “Keep the fluids.” No context. No nothing. I have no idea what he meant. It doesn’t matter. From that moment on though I knew I was in for a ride, and neither he nor this film disappointed. I particularly enjoyed the parts where they were fighting.


5/17/2019 A Camera’s Journey Through the Land of Sushi, 2018


5/17/2019 Satan, 2006 (Rating: 2/5)


5/18/2019 Heathers, 1988 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/18/2019 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), 2014 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/19/2019 Un Chien Andalou, 1929


5/20/2019 Ed Wood, 1994 (Rating: 3/5)


5/20/2019 The Tall Man, 2012 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/21/2019 Portal to Hell!!!, 2015


5/21/2019 Cremaster 1, 1996


5/22/2019 Pet, 2016 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/22/2019 Andre the Giant, 2018


5/23/2019 Tag, 2018 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/23/2019 Deadpool 2, 2018 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/23/2019 Pyewacket, 2017 (Rating: 2/5)


5/24/2019 Berberian Sound Studio, 2012 (Rating: 2/5)


5/24/2019 The Duke of Burgundy, 2014 (Rating: 3/5)


5/24/2019 Three Identical Strangers, 2018


5/27/2019 Putney Swope, 1969 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/28/2019 Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, 2002 (Rating: 2.5/5)


5/28/2019 Solaris, 2002 (Rating: 3/5)

Part of me wishes I saw this version before Tarkovsky’s, as Soderbergh’s version begins to create space for the themes that are explored in the 1972 original. On the other side of that, I couldn’t fully give myself into Soderbergh’s vision of the story as I kept comparing it to Tarkovsky’s, and in the process I kept comparing it to what it wasn’t, or maybe just what it didn’t make me feel. The lack of “feeling,” maybe, is what seemed most vacant about this film.

Obviously, with the original running at almost twice the length of this version, it’s going to create space to explore the essence of the story with more nuance. And in that space, concepts percolate and blossom… that’s what led me to feeling what I felt about the original once it had ended. Let’s not forget that also means Tarkovsky’s version is boring as hell at times (which isn’t as much a presentation flaw as it is a structural technique). This version avoids all of that, but in doing so it fails to stew conceptually. In doing so this version struck me as much more focused on the physical than emotional (forgetting the moments of exposition which spell out a lot of what Tarkovsky’s version only ever hints at).

The physical is where I think this version gets stuck… which says something (though I’m not fully sure what it says) about what Soderbergh’s aim was. At one point Gordon’s dialog focused on why Rheya was the physical embodiment of Chris’ memory, which influenced the importance of tactile memory over feelings—this felt really important to me in association with showing multiple scenes of Chris and Rheya in nude embrace. Besides cashing in on an opportunity showcase George Clooney’s ass a couple time on screen, it felt like the action was aimed at connecting memory (and failed memories) back to a sense of touch rather than feel. This brings me back to the top, where I wish I would have watched this version first because of how Soderbergh’s focus might have prepared me for what was to come with the original. It opens the door to concepts that can be explored in greater depth in the original’s near three-hour run time, but when watched in the opposite order, seems only to amputate and confine them to a much more accessible (and limiting) state.


5/29/2019 Before Sunrise, 1995 (Rating: 3.5/5)

To take that risk… Telling the select few you decide to meet that you were in the midst of an anonymous journey—yet so very eager to tell anyone of it—hoping they’d notice you and notice the value of such a mission statement. You see her cue but don’t see it for what it is. The ideal self you attempt to project is dwarfed by the person you could be if you just stopped trying so hard. Very few at that age get it. Very few at any age get it. Underneath the cynicism, below the self-concern, might be the thing she seeks, the thing she desires, so you try… Half believing she would never say no, you’re still surprised when she says yes. She joins you as you exit the train together. For as long as you both shall live.


5/29/2019 Before Sunset, 2004 (Rating: 3.5/5)

My heart will stay yours until I die. Never have I met a Jesse or Céline, but there exists a select few who I might do just about anything for just to see them sashay across the floor. This isn’t just a preferable brand of cereal—this is sustenance itself. If I ever get the chance, I wonder if it’d even possible to love them the way they need to be loved? Can anything ever truly be enough? Continuing to live life with the door open probably confirms itself to be every bit the question as it is the answer.


5/29/2019 Sorry to Bother You, 2018 (Rating: 3/5)


5/29/2019 A Vigilante, 2018 (Rating: 1.5/5)


5/30/2019 Before Midnight, 2013 (Rating: 2/5)


5/30/2019 Kubrick: One-Point Perspective, 2012


5/30/2019 Criterion Designs, 2014


5/31/2019 The Night of the Hunter, 1955 (Rating: 3.5/5)