Watched List!

Movies I've watched throughout 2013. A combination of old classics that I haven't seen (but really should) and various snippets of world cinema wrongness.
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Dogtooth (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Three teenagers live isolated, without leaving their house, because their over-protective parents say they can only leave when their dogtooth falls out. (94 mins.)
“ This film was seriously wrong on so many levels. Loved it. 9/10. ” - johnjnicholson
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up! This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus. (84 mins.)
“ Best premise for a movie - possibly ever. In the top 5 anyway. The exposition of the plot however left a bit to be desired. A good ride though, and short. 6/10, mostly for originality (you will never see anything even remotely like this ever) and good acting, especially from the young lead. ” - johnjnicholson
Paper Moon (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
During the Great Depression, a con man finds himself saddled with a young girl who may or may not be his daughter, and the two forge an unlikely partnership. (102 mins.)
“ Old-fashioned laugh out loud comedy. Forgot how good this actually is. ” - johnjnicholson
Mother (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl's horrific murder. (129 mins.)
Director: Joon Ho Bong
“ South Korea is producing some of the best international cinema these days, and this movie didn't disappoint. An unnerving psychological drama wrapped up in the guise of a mystery/thriller. A couple of moments of genuine shock. 8/10. ” - johnjnicholson
Honey (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The quiet life of a boy and his family is endangered when his father does not return home from his work collecting honey in the forest. (103 mins.)
“ Spoiler alert!!!

The saddest movie I have ever seen. An absolute tragedy which will break your heart. It is a true work of art, with flawless acting and imaginative camerawork, but the heart of the movie is one of loss, despair and emptiness. Beautiful though it was, there was no point to this movie, no closure, no central theme except darkness. ” - johnjnicholson
Whisky (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
When his long-lost brother resurfaces, Jacobo, desperate to prove his life has added up to something... (99 mins.)
“ This comedy was not so much low-key as absolutely stone-faced deadpan. Excellent acting from the three leads, especially Mirella Pascual, who gives a master class in understatement. Won't be to everyone's taste but I enjoyed it. 7/10. ” - johnjnicholson
Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
An exiled detective is recruited to solve a series of mysterious deaths that threaten to delay the inauguration of Empress Wu. (123 mins.)
Director: Hark Tsui
“ Odd movie. Wonderful costumes, sets and fight sequences. Enjoyable, if you can ignore the very strange plot and just enjoy the fun. ” - johnjnicholson
Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The film uses a mix of cut-out animation from photographs and live-action segments, and tells the story of a married man who lives a double life in his dreams, where he is married to another woman. (109 mins.)
Director: Jan Svankmajer
“ A great turn of the bizarre from Jan Svankmeyer, definitely not his best but more that worthy of a watch. Sigmund Freud is so prevalent in this film, he almost deserves top billing. 6/10 ” - johnjnicholson
Animal Kingdom (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A seventeen year-old navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him. (113 mins.)
Director: David Michôd
“ Dark and wearing drama about the effects of an ultra-violent crime family on the youngest member, who has been taken in after his mother (who was estranged from the clan) dies of a heroin overdose. Not completely worth the strain it puts on the viewer's psyche, but very well executed, if you'll excuse the pun, from grim beginning to grisly end. ” - johnjnicholson
Sexy Beast (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Brutal gangster Don Logan recruits "retired" safecracker Gal for one last job, but it goes badly for both of them. (89 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Glazer
“ Ben Kingsley has to be the greatest film actor of his generation, and he gives a mesmerising turn as an unhinged criminal. Ray Winstone is fantastic as the lead, giving a more nuanced performance than he is usually allowed. Best British film ever? Debatable, but I think it's close. ” - johnjnicholson
The Conversation (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered. (113 mins.)
“ It's so exciting to discover a movie this good. Gene Hackman plays an introverted wire-tapper who becomes obsessed with the human consequences of his work. The cast is a who's who of 1970 s film- John Cazale, Harrison Ford, Frederick Forrest, Teri Garr, Cindy Williams and Robert Duvall all feature. Incredible ending that you won't see coming. ” - johnjnicholson
A Screaming Man (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Present-day Chad. Adam, fifty-five, a former swimming champion, is pool attendant at a smart N'Djamena hotel... (92 mins.)
“ This film is a real heartbreaker. A study of the devastating effects of war on a middle-aged swimming instructor in Chad. Low-key and well produced throughout. Bring the tissues. ” - johnjnicholson
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
All her life Englishwoman Gladys Aylward knew that China was the place where she belonged. Not qualified to be sent there as a missionary... (158 mins.)
Director: Mark Robson
“ The story of missionary Gladys Aylward, given the 1950s Hollywood treatment. Old-fashioned and a bit cringeworthy at parts, emotionally powerful and singularly breathtaking in others. Can't get over the exceptionally beautiful yet hopelessly miscast Ingrid Bergman in the main role. ” - johnjnicholson
Le Quattro Volte (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
An old shepherd lives his last days in a quiet medieval village perched high on the hills of Calabria... (88 mins.)
“ A very good film in many ways, but it's certainly not a narrative. While I believe I understand the philosophical bases for this film, I have to admit found it hard going. Stunning cinematography compensates to some degree for a very quiet movie indeed. Perhaps one best watched in the cinema as opposed to at home? ” - johnjnicholson
Las Acacias (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Rubén is a lonely truck driver who has been taking the motorway from Asunción, Paraguay to Buenos Aires... (82 mins.)
Director: Pablo Giorgelli
“ Good, but slight. After having seen it I am a bit surprised at the amount of accolades given to the film, which was enjoyable but hardly groundbreaking. Still, worth watching, and probably an excellent date movie. ” - johnjnicholson
All About Eve (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends. (138 mins.)
“ The perfect film? It's up there. If you've seen it you know what I mean. If you haven't, go rent it. Now. Fasten your seatbelts... ” - johnjnicholson
No Country for Old Men (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande. (122 mins.)
“ It doesn't get much better than this. A fantastic tale of blood for money and existential angst. The Coen brothers get the tone of the book exactly right, and deliver a spine-tingling and innovative telling of McCarthy's tale. Great acting from all three leads, but special mention has to go to Javier Bardem. His portrayal of psychopath Anton Chigurh would be funny - like the child from the old Dutch Boy paint adverts grown up and seeking revenge - if it wasn't so utterly frightening. ” - johnjnicholson
The Dreamlife of Angels (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In Lille, two penniless young women with few prospects become friends. Isa moves in with Marie, who's... (113 mins.)
Director: Erick Zonca
“ Reasonably good drama centring on the relationship between two young women, who are broke and living on the edge of existence. Not too many characters drew me in, with the exception of Isa (played by the brilliant Élodie Bouchez) the characters were flat and not particularly convincing. The rest of the cast, in particular Natacha Régnier, deliver admirable performances concerning the angularity of character development.

Having said this, there was a stark beauty to the craft inherent in the plot and dialogue, which were sardonic and deeply unsettling in turns. Worth seeing, especially for fans of French cinema. ” - johnjnicholson
Black Narcissus (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings. (100 mins.)
“ What in the hell did I just watch? No, I wasn't expecting that.

Good old-fashioned melodrama, in which five surprisingly beautiful nuns start a school and dispensary in the Himalayas. Except, well, a few things go wrong here and there.

As usual in these colonial-style romps, the indigenous people get a raw deal though stereotypes and socio-geographic generalisations. But still a great film, must have been unbelievable in the day.

The highlight, for me at least, was an impossibly gorgeous and seductive 18-year-old Jean Simmons as the Indian 'beggar maid'. Now where did I put that time machine... ” - johnjnicholson
Killer of Sheep (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Set in the Watts area of Los Angeles, a slaughterhouse worker must suspend his emotions to continue working at a job he finds repugnant, and then he finds he has little sensitivity for the family he works so hard to support. (80 mins.)
Director: Charles Burnett
“ This is a one-off, a low-budget (I read somewhere it was shot on $5000) movie that shows the life of residents of the Watts area of LA. It tells its story not through a straight narrative, but through a series of short character-developing scenes often illustrated by poignantly ironic music. A good film, and an important one too. However try as I might I couldn't help but be put off by the quality of some of the acting, editing and camerawork. ” - johnjnicholson
The Ladykillers (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Five diverse oddball criminal types planning a bank robbery rent rooms on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians. (91 mins.)
“ Good comedy. Not great, and certainly has struggled to stand the test of time, but some funny moments. As the villians, Alec Guinness and Herbert Lom shine, Cecil Parker and Danny Green get by, and Peter Sellers is criminally wasted. Katie Johnson, who spent most of her life in vaudeville, is perfect in the role of the dotty would-be victim. ” - johnjnicholson
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperiled. (103 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ John Wayne was fantastic in every film he was in. However, in this film he seems to be the only glue holding together an average plot. Although it garnered plenty of awards, this in my opinion is not one of the Duke's best (although there are a few good moments). ” - johnjnicholson
Don't Look Now (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond. (110 mins.)
Director: Nicolas Roeg
“ Unsettling drama which moves from atmospheric to horrifying and back again without missing a beat. It seems like it's becoming unstuck in the middle. It's not. Stick with it to the shocking end. This movie still unsettles me. ” - johnjnicholson
Scanners (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him. (103 mins.)
“ 5/10 and I'm being generous. David Cronenberg's bottom-barrel-budget sci-fi horror deals with a group of telepaths known as scanners. Bad script, worse acting, but you can't seem to turn it off. Worth seeing to the end, as the plot does hold interest. ” - johnjnicholson
35 Shots of Rum (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The relationship between a father and daughter is complicated by the arrival of a handsome young man. (100 mins.)
Director: Claire Denis
“ Wonderfully understated character study centring around a father and daughter, who have been alone together for many years but are now facing inevitable changes within the family unit. Well worth seeing. ” - johnjnicholson
Chinatown (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder. (130 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
“ A very good movie, but perhaps not quite worthy of its iconic reputation. The plot manages to be predictable and obscure at once. Jack Nicholson feels like he’s going through the motions (and is too young for the part anyway). However, it set the benchmark for neo-noir films – there would have been no L.A. Confidential without Chinatown – and in a way is a victim of its own success. Worth seeing, provided you manage your expectations. And what a great score! ” - johnjnicholson
The Birds (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. (119 mins.)
Is it just me who thought this film was decidedly average at best? The characters ranged from dull to grating, what little plot there is seems contrived, there isn’t any kind of proper ending, and there is never an explanation for the birds’ behaviour. The special effects were laughable (ok it was 1963 but even still). While not one of Hitchcock’s worst (Topaz, anyone?), it is a strong contender for most overrated. A straight telling of Daphne du Maurier’s brilliant original story as a short would have been more in order. ” - johnjnicholson
Russell Brand from Addiction to Recovery (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
After the death of his friend Amy Winehouse from an overdose, Russel Brand looks back on his own years of addiction and wants to show that not all addicts turn out the same way. (60 mins.)
Director: Ross Wilson
“ Brilliant. Kudos to Russell as he lays bare his own difficulties as a recovering addict while campaigning for the government to fund abstinence-based recovery. While he is a bit bullish at times, he has a hell of a point and drives this home with humour, eloquence, and compassion. ” - johnjnicholson
The Last Detail (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Two Navy men are ordered to bring a young offender to prison but decide to show him one last good time along the way. (104 mins.)
Director: Hal Ashby
“ When is a Jack Nicholson vehicle not just a Jack Nicholson vehicle? When he's outshone by a young Randy Quaid, in this mesmerising character portrait about two career sailors escorting a young prisoner to the Naval Prison in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Jack is of course brilliant as always, but Quaid is a revelation. ” - johnjnicholson
Silent Souls (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Present days. A man and his companion go on a journey to cremate the dead body of the former beloved wife, on a riverbank in the area where they spent their honeymoon. (78 mins.)
“ 'Silent Souls' centres on the Meryans, an ethnic group from west Russia about whom I knwe nothing before this film. This was an incredible journey in many ways, especially the sexual frankness in the face of grief and the importance of cultural norms in coming to terms with tragedy. ” - johnjnicholson
Harper (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Lew Harper, a cool private investigator, is hired by a wealthy California matron to locate her kidnapped husband. (121 mins.)
Director: Jack Smight
“ This is entertaining enough, but the plot is a bit silly and convoluted and it certainly hasn't aged particularly well. Nothing more than a Paul Newman vehicle, but his charisma alone is enough to keep you watching until the end. ” - johnjnicholson
Baarìa (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Baaria is Sicilian slang for Bagheria where Tornatore was born and this is an autobiographic epic of three generations in the Sicilian village where he was born. (163 mins.)
“ Epic film chronicling 40 years in the life of a political idealist, who lives through Mussolini's Italy as a child and becomes a lifelong Communist. Artier than it needs to be, and the storytelling is a tad uneven. Some good moments, and beautifully acted, costumed and shot, but ultimately there is not enough character development. ” - johnjnicholson
The Scent of Green Papaya (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A little girl, Mui, went to a house as a new servant. The mother still mourns the death of her daughter... (104 mins.)
Director: Tran Anh Hung
“ A very understated movie. Perhaps too understated but it's still a gorgeous little film surrounding the life of a young servant girl (half the move as a child, and the second half as a young adult 10 years later). Lush cinematography, and one of the best film scores you'll ever hear: abstract, stark, and haunting. A minor classic. ” - johnjnicholson
Spider (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A mentally disturbed man takes residence in a halfway house. His mind gradually slips back into the realm created by his illness, where he replays a key part of his childhood. (98 mins.)
“ POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT (probably not but better safe than sorry!)

Bravo to this criminally underrated film exploring the human psyche in a disturbed state. As the mentally ill Dennis (played by Ralph Fiennes) gets ever closer to the truth about his mother's murder, we are torn between grim reality and nightmarish hallucination. Cronenberg excels himself with command over mood, pacing, and the slow release of information; the cast play their roles to absolute perfection. See this film!! ” - johnjnicholson
Quadrophenia (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
London, 1965: Like many other youths, Jimmy hates the philistine life, especially his parents and his job in a company's mailing division... (120 mins.)
Director: Franc Roddam
“ This is, surprisingly, an incredible film. Yes, it's a film about Mods, rockers, Brighton riots and so forth, but it is much more. It goes beyond the Who album which inspired it and creates a portrait of a young man through the extreme highs and desperate lows of growing up: group conformance, rebellion, sex, drugs, euphoria and boredom. Very few films convey the feelings of youth as admirably as this, and you end of caring desperately for Jimmy, who could have been a terribly unsympathetic character in the wrong hands. I'm sorry I waited so long to see it. ” - johnjnicholson
Mission to Lars (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Kate and Will Spicer's brother, Tom, has Fragile X Syndrome, the most common form of inherited learning disability... (74 mins.)
“ I loved this film. It is part family holiday video, part documentary on autism, and part eye-opener into the world of heavy metal. The food critic and journalist Kate Spicer takes to the road in America with her two brothers to meet Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. The reason: her brother Tom, who has a severe variant of autism known as Fragile X syndrome, is obsessed with meeting Ulrich. An insight into a brave man who happens to have a disability, and his two loving siblings. ” - johnjnicholson
Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
During China's Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself. (111 mins.)
Director: Yimou Zhang
“ A royal family slowly devours itself over ambition. The sets are wonderful, the costumes and fight choreography even better. The cast, which includes veterans Chow Yun-fat and Gong Li, are unrestrained in the intense histrionics encouraged by the over-the-top script. A violent psychological thriller, with a plot as unhinged as the characters it portrays. ” - johnjnicholson
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
James Bond investigates the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads with the help of a KGB agent whose lover he killed. (125 mins.)
Director: Lewis Gilbert
“ Well, it's Bond, isn't it? A predictably over-the-top story with Roger Moore (not one of my favourite Bonds but hey ho) attempts to find and recover stolen nuclear warheads and thereby prevent a possible nuclear war. He is aided by a female Soviet agent, whose lover he had recently exterminated. It features some great locations, Jaws (the one who eats cars and bites sharks) is as great a Bond villain as you'll find, and Barbara Bach is delectable as the bereaved (but recently single) Amasova. ” - johnjnicholson
Tyrannosaur (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker. (92 mins.)
Director: Paddy Considine
The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
'It's Monopoly out there'. Jason Staebler, The King of Marvin Gardens, has gone directly to jail, lives... (103 mins.)
Director: Bob Rafelson
“ Very strange, atmospheric and low-key. Set in the Atlantic City of early Springsteen albums, it is a great character study with two brothers: the reticent Jack Nicholson and the grandstanding, imbalanced Bruce Dern. With two enigmatic working girls along for the ride, Dern tries to bring to fruition a shady Hawaiian real estate scheme. Not everybody's cup of tea, but if you are a fan of quirky dialogue-led drama then you should try this one. ” - johnjnicholson
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Dying of kidney disease, a man spends his last, somber days with family, including the ghost of his wife and a forest spirit who used to be his son, on a rural northern Thailand farm. (114 mins.)
“ I don't have a problem with admitting that I didn't completely understand this film, and I'm not sure the director meant for it to be understood. Vignettes of a dying man's former lives are complemented by magical realism throughout. Not plot driven by any means, but an ethereal, fantastical journey. I wouldn't recommend watching this unless you are prepared for a confusing if aesthetically pleasing film. ” - johnjnicholson