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Az ötödik pecsét (1976)
An Intriguing and Universal Film
What hypothetical question could be compelling enough to spawn an entire film? I watched this movie because I wanted to know.
The Good: The hypothetical is really very compelling. Furthermore, it is discussed in a way that reveals its subtlety rather than coming back to the same sticking point over and over. The characters in this film are vivid and well portrayed. The setting is also surprisingly rich. This is important because a lot of this movie takes place in the same place. I was somewhat worried that this movie would just be people sitting around a table talking. That is more or less the case, but it works out nicely. The proceedings are intellectually and spatially dynamic. I was also a bit worried that I wouldn't really be able to understand the film without having the proper cultural context. This turned out not to be much of an issue. I may have missed some things, but you can enjoy this film knowing only that its set in some country that is at war.
The Bad: A large part of this movie is people sitting around a table talking. Like I said, I found this to be interesting, but it isn't particularly exciting. It isn't inconceivable that some people might find this movie to be boring. I should also mention that I found the final act, a drastic departure from the rest of the film, to be contrived.
Overall: This is an interesting movie. Stark and intellectually engaging, the film is surprisingly powerful and surprisingly universal.
A Hatful of Rain (1957)
A Nice Play
A Hatful of Rain has a strong acting and a great script. The film's biggest asset, however, is its maturity. Make no mistake, this is a serious movie and not just because it is about addiction. If you are familiar with other Zinnemann films, you have already been exposed to the unflinching psychological realism that defines his work. Zinnemann's films are honest. Where some directors would cut away from a difficult scene, Zinnemann zooms in. This may be one of the least escapist films you could find, not because it is a tragedy, but because it is a reality.
There is some truth to the complaints about this film's staginess, but overall it delivers as as a great late '60s serious film.
There are few films with comparable emotional impact.
That's really all there is to it. This film is raw. This film will tear into you. More than just emotional, this film is magnetic. What is it really? A simple film; a simple subject. This movie is put together with simple style. It's mostly interviews and mostly hand-held, and yet somehow it eclipses so many more complex and more expensive movies when it comes to emotion. Like I said, this film is magnetic. It is not a movie that you have to work yourself up to watch. Sit down, press play, and this thing will take you. This is the sort of movie that makes you pay attention to it and once you pay attention to it, there's no escaping its impact. More so than any thriller, this is a movie that you can't look away from. Even if you already know how it will end, this film will affect you. At the end of the day, there must just be something to seeing someone look you in the eye, and pour their heart out. That's what this movie is all about.
A Bit Wonkey, but not bad
This is an unconventional film (in terms of the Hollywood standards I'm used to, at least). Unconventional movies have their ups and downs. In some ways they're annoying. One example of this is the general plot structure of this film. The movie feels fairly jumbled and messy because there are many different perspectives in it that don't entirely mesh and the tension does not build evenly to a climax like it does in most films. That said, there are also great things about unconventional movies. This movies feels like a breath of fresh air in many ways especially considering how formulaic most horror films are these days. There are some parts of this film that are fairly tropey, but I think in general the movie is fairly self-aware. It audaciously avoids some of the most pernicious tropes and puts a new spin on a lot familiar setups. The film is really pretty innovating, but it feels more strange than revolutionary, so I guess Karthik Subbaraj didn't get it quite right. It is well made, however. The acting is good especially compared to the one other Tamil movie I've seen. The cinematography is also good. Probably the best technical aspect of the film is the sound design although the soundtrack is a little spotty.
literally the worst movie I have ever seen...
If I were given a choice as to whether or not all German cinema would be instantly destroyed or not, I would probably have to go for it after seeing this movie. Even though it would mean losing Fritz Lang, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, etc., it would be worth it. The only reason I got more than thirty seconds into this movie is that I was assigned to watch it for a class. Otherwise I wouldn't have even made it past the opening credits.
I know all of this ranting can seem a bit vague and hyperbolic, so I figured I would give some specifics as to why this is such a god-awful movie. Let me start by saying that the only virtue of this movie is that it is somewhat well shot although the penultimate scene with its shambolic colorization nearly made me reconsider this. On the whole, however, the film is pretty well shot and looks fairly cinematic. Everything else about this movie is terrible.
The actresses themselves may not be terrible, but the writing is. The dialogue is unrealistic and clichéd. There are many scenes where it doesn't even really make any sense what is going on. The interrogation scene, for example, which sort of seems like it is setting up the final act of the movie (although it turns out not to, sort of) doesn't really make any sense. Throughout the entire movie, there are scenes that are clichéd such as the two characters who initially don't get along, and and yet still manage to not make very much sense. Don't even get me started on plot holes.
The worst part about the writing, however, is that the movie simply isn't believable at all. Not only are the criminals farcically bad, they spent most of the movie evading police who are even worse. Their are many escapes in the movie, none of which are even remotely believable.
I take it back, that probably isn't even the worst part about the writing. The worst part is probably that the characters aren't endearing at all and don't make any sense. The movie tries to rip off some archetypical sort of characters, but can't even do that. They can't even get bland 1-dimensional characters. That's right, this movie has 0-dimensional characters. I couldn't even tell who the main character was until the last half-an-hour of the movie, to be honest, I still don't know.
DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE ENDING.
Let's talk about the music. It sucks. For one, in pretty much every single one of the endless music scenes, it is obvious that the band is not really playing. There is a scene fairly early on of the band playing that clearly shows someone hammering away on the Hammond B3 and yet the song that is playing contains no organ. I'll let it slide if a movie doesn't have incredible attention to detail, but it should have attention to something. It seems like this movie must have been made by total coincidence, as if the various pages of the script blew in on the wind after being cut from other movies and then someone accidentally nudged the record button on the camera while some average citizens mulled about in front of the lights that had been left behind from a music video shoot done the day before. Basically, this movie is terrible. Do not watch it.
The Simpsons: Barthood (2015)
This is the mix of innovation and tradition the all the new episodes need
I'm not nearly as harsh on the newer episodes of The Simpson's as most people are, but I will happily admit that there have been some absolutely terrible episodes in season 27. This, however, is not one of them. Barthood is probably one of the best episodes in the last five years. While there are some iffy plot points that don't match up with classic Simpson's, Bart's never before seen relationship with his grandfather, for example, that's OK. The Simpson's needs some change. That said, the Simpson's also needs tradition and this episode provides it.
Barthood is different from the other future episodes (the most notable of which probably being Lisa's Wedding) in that it doesn't focus all of its humor on the future. The fate of each of the characters is not particularly ingenious as one might expect from a comedy show, rather it is drawn form the same mix of realism and serendipity that made Boyhood so lifelike. In that way, though the episode does not exactly mirror Boyhood, it is a wonderful adaptation.
Then there's the humor. This is one of the funnier episodes from the last few seasons and it delivers with the same mix of wit, slapstick, and allusion that all of the best classic episodes do.
On the whole, Barthood is the blueprint for what a modern Simpson's episode should be. The story is touching and humorous like the Simpson's should be, but is also profoundly different from the episodes that came before it.
Different in all the right ways
The sort of innovation seen in Lucia has been missing from American cinema for many years. In fact, I have seen no more than five films ever, that can be compared to Lucia's fast pace and edgy feeling. When I watched this, it did not take long for it to be clear that what I was watching was different from almost everything that I had seen previously. It reminded me of films like Fight Club, Oldboy, and Night of the Hunter in that all of these films are strikingly different from everything else. In this way Lucia is truly refreshing, but it is far more than that. It is impossible to watch Lucia without being impressed by its plot which can really only be described as awesome. The story is complex but never difficult to follow and the characters always come first. Lucia is easy to relate to even across countries and languages because it examines common themes of love and life, and easy to be impressed by because it takes on these ideas in an altogether new fashion.
Love and loss in the slow-motion of old age
It is a shame that the odds of Amour winning best picture are so slim. It is a love story and a tragedy; a treasure of modern film-making in its acting and directing. The pace is appropriately slow and the camera angles are simple yet unique. From one of the opening shot of an audience watching a performance that lasts multiple minutes, I knew that Amour deserved at least Outstanding Achievement in Directing. Michael Haneke guides the audience through the lives of Georges and Anne, an old couple savoring the sweetness of old age, recounting the frenzy of youth, and crumbling under the sorrow of loss, with unflinching precision. For his art and his storytelling Haneke deserves the academy's thanks.