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5/10
Faulkner set in Iran
14 December 2018
Adaptation of William Faulkner's novel to an Iranian setting. with lots of gaps in-between (one brother exits the story after being slapped by another, the dead man's body is not the body of the father, according to an undertaker! The dead man was being given pills to stay awake by a son). The book had 15 characters with different motivations to bury the dead man--the film has just three. If there is any merit in the film, it is due to Faulkner. The director gives the film another name "Graveless." to put some of the viewers of the track, in case they have not read the celebrated author.

Unless I missed it, the filmmakers do not acknowledge Faulkner in the film's credits (even on IMDb!) That's not being honest about the adaptation.
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Pity (I) (2018)
6/10
Pity this lovely film ended as it did, reducing drastically its total potential impact
6 December 2018
First three fourths of the film is very good, the last one fourth is awful. That last quarter spoils the value of the entire film.

I was stunned by the screen-presence of actress Evi Saoulidou, who plays the wife recovering from coma. Though her screen time was teeny weeny, she is a Melina Mercouri award winner for stage acting in Greece. I do hope some top international directors pick her up for bigger significant roles in their forthcoming projects.
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Cold War (2018)
7/10
Wonderful Editing
3 December 2018
If there was one aspect that stood out in the film it was its editing. I am surprised that the film was recognized for its direction at Cannes and not for its editing or even its very taut screenplay. Perhaps the jury wanted to honour the film and the Best Director was the nearest to the deserving editing and screenplay writing honours that Cannes does not bestow.
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7/10
A film that clears the name of the title character, confused by many for Mary of Bethany
2 December 2018
A film that clears the Biblical character of being confused with Mary of Bethany, who was indeed a prostitute. A Catholic Pope in AD 591 had confused the two Marys and only many centuries later the Catholic Church cleared Mary Magdalene's name. The film however reaffirms the Da Vinci Code theory that Mary Magdalene was a participant of the Last Supper. The film is important for those who read the Bible and are familiar with the contents.

The music and sound management in the film are very good. But the landscape does not resemble the Holy Land, the Sea of Galilee looks more like an ocean, and the flora does not belong to the Middle East.
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A superb debut film on the visual and aural fronts
16 November 2018
A very impressive debut from the director. Well deserving of the Golden Hugo. Though the end was ethically very disturbing for me, the film was consistent in its visual and aural appeal throughout, especially the end sequence. A director to watch. A very good choice of actresses.

Vietnam is presented as a heavenly tropical country in the 19th century, without insects or reptiles (a lizard is the only exception) even in bamboo groves, with washed linen hung out white as snow. One would wish more realism to match the time frame of the story.

Why was this film not Vietnam's Oscar submission for 2019 in the Foreign Language Film category? I guess there were technical reasons.
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7/10
Nietzsche would have smiled at this film.
2 November 2018
There are several reasons why you will not forget this film if you have had the patience to sit through the 4 hours of its slow running time. One of them will be to wonder if the long film was worth your while.

The director Bo Hu only made this feature film in his entire life before he committed suicide at age 29. The film is based on his book that he wrote under a pen-name. With a book and a feature film to his credit, Bo Hu evidently still felt trapped.

All the characters are innocent but nihilistic to the core caught within China's social "no-win" trap if you are not rich or have political connections. Nietzsche would have smiled at this film. There is no way out. Yet they hope optimistically for a better life. It is a curious film that ends up with stupid violent scenes as some recent award-winning films from China have. Nothing positive to take away here after 4 hours. The concept of the elephant sitting still is possibly positive, which is why four adults want to metaphorically see it. One positive takeaway in the indirect commentary on China today, rarely discussed in the media.
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8/10
A substantive film from Hollywood, ignored by many
25 October 2018
A very impressive screenplay from Eric Roth plus really good performances from the ensemble cast. Well deserved the Berlin Silver Bear award.

Best lines: There is no "The" before God or CIA: Friends can be enemies and enemies, friends; "And, yet, a certain word, a glance, a guise, will mirror, never show, reflecting not my gaze, but my uncertain question caught inside a shadow of our shifting eyes."

Problem sequences for me: the easy suicide of the tortured man, the dead finger in a coffee can (referencing "Godfather" of Coppola).
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The Collector (1965)
7/10
Removing a character from the book in a film, should improve it, but this didn't work
24 October 2018
I do not consider this book of John Fowles to be impressive, and film does not improve on the book by cutting out a character in the book. And Fowles, has written more impressive novels.

The film is important as it is belongs to the last phase of William Wyler's career. The only impressive bits of the film are the lead performances of Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar, both of whom won the acting honors at Cannes for this film.
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7/10
Belongs to Kore'eda's favorite theme but this one is not one of his original tales
21 October 2018
The film is tender to the core. It is written by Kore'eda, but it is based on an existing manga novel by Akimi Yashida. One of the few non-original story departures of the director.

Is the film different from the rest of his work? Most of his work relates to absent parents and their children. This film conforms to that pattern. Here there are four female characters longing for their dead/missing father and a missing mother. Like Euripides' "The Trojan Women" perhaps where the women longed for their husbands?

The film belongs to the strong character Sachi and the beautiful actress Aruka Hayase's performance as Sachi, the other actresses Suzu Hirose as Suzu and the wonderful elderly late Kirin Kiki.

Also commendable for a Kore'eda film is the music composed for the film by Yoko Kanno.

A very delicate film, very Asian. Or modern Asian, would be more precise a description, since each of the unmarried women have their own private affairs/lovers known to the other sisters.
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8/10
A different point of view of Kore'eda's earlier script/film "I Wish"
13 October 2018
Another lovely original film and script from Kore'eda with a wonderful cast.

Original? Yes. But linked to his own earlier 2011 script for "Kiseki" (I Wish). In "I wish" an almost or fully broken marriage of two young parents were was being tried to be patched up by a son who was directly affected by the break-up. Here in "After the Storm" a son is similarly affected by the almost final breakup of his parents marriage, but the torn marriage is being tried to be fixed for the sake of the child by the father. thus one film is the positive action from the point of view of a son, the other later film from that of a father for the sake of the son and his wife.

So many films of Kore'eda deal with broken marriages and kids with missing parents in their lives. The most heart-rending one was "Nobody Knows," the most complex one was "The Third Murder."

Kore-eda seems to be getting better as a scriptwriter and director in each film. The subtle references to Christianity surfaces here with references to Mother Teresa, only to be more prominent in "The Third Murder."

This Kore-eda film is considerably helped by his stock artists Hiroshi Abe ("Still Walking", "I Wish"), Yoko Maki ("Like Father, Like Son") and the lovely late Kirin Kaki ("Still Walking," "I Wish").

Was there a problem with the film? Of course, there was. Where was the storm/hurricane? The only scene of inclement weather was the rain in the night, when the parents of the boy stay together. Even the day after the storm, the exteriors of the apartment didn't seem to be affected by a hurricane/typhoon/cyclone. Even indoors, there is no evidence of a vicious storm raging outside during the night.
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Isle of Dogs (2018)
6/10
Good music for an engaging film
7 October 2018
Engaging. Nothing exceptional except for the delightful music by Alexandre Desplat. He should get an Oscar nomination.

But the Best Director award at Berlin Film Fest?!!! I am surprised. I can only make a clearer judgement when I have seen the other films that competed with it.
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Assa (1987)
6/10
A brave but mixed-up film
6 October 2018
"Assa" was a film that I was eagerly waiting to see after all the positive reviews. It is an important film as it represents the changes within Russia on the choice of subjects to film. It is a brave film for its time. One of the major characters in the film is an admirer of the music of Nick Cave, at a time when few would have known who he was.

But the film has a major problem. The director introduces a strange fact that Noah of the Bible uttered the word Assa after the floods receded--and there is no such evidence in the scriptures.
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7/10
A very decent western for a director making his debut
4 October 2018
A decent western from a director making his debut--Richard Wilson. Actor Mitchum carries the film. Actress Jan Sterling has an impressive screen presence but her voice is not as impressive. she is more interesting here than in Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole."
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The Last Hunt (1956)
7/10
A revisionist western treating Native Indians with respect and criticizing the killing bravado of gunslingers
2 October 2018
Director/scriptwriter Richard Brooks made me sit up with his 1965 film "Lord Jim," which was a fine adaptation of the Joseph Conrad's novel. Brooks as adapted the story of Milton Lott and written the script of this earlier 1956 film "The Last Hunt" that he directed. This western is unusual on several counts.

It is humanistic. It respects the Native Indian community. It is pro-conservation of the wild buffalo that once roamed USA. It is against the "bang bang" killings that made westerns so popular. It gives importance to tiny tots.

What is commendable is to have the handsome Robert Taylor play the anti-hero after getting the top billing. Taylor as a dumb good looking gunslinger who sleeps with women using ability to kill as a threat.

Director Stanley Kubrick evidently copied a critical end sequence for his own film "The Shining," made decades later.

If the film belongs to anyone, it belongs to Brooks and to the majestic wild buffalo.
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Happy End (2017)
7/10
Perspectives of happiness by social status, by ethnicity, by family bonding
30 September 2018
Many times in the movie, I felt it was a reworking of Haneke's "Cache." Nothing new from Mr Haneke. The more I see of his films, I do not see new approaches to cinema from him. His "Amour" I thought was wonderful, until I realized much of it came from the Icelandic film "Volcano."
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Air Doll (2009)
6/10
"People with cold hands can have warm hearts"
24 September 2018
Mixed reactions.

Awful because the premise of the film expects you to throw rational thinking to the wind. Appreciating it is akin to appreciating Superman.

On the other hand, the film offers awesome script writing in the two/three segments involving an old bearded gentleman.

Weighing both feelings, this Kore-eda film still offers more than what the American films "Her" and "Bi-centennial man" could offer. However, it does come up to the level of Alex Garland's "Ex Machina."
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Great Performances: The Collection (1976)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
7/10
Engaging play by Pinter with engaging performances and one lovely unforgettable camera shot
21 September 2018
Interesting play by Harold Pinter. Engaging performances by all four. And Helen Mirren looks so attractive here and so young. Directed by Michael Apted with a delightful imaginative shot of Malcolm McDowell cowering on the floor taken from behind Alan Bates' legs towering over McDowell. Best shot in the film.
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Maborosi (1995)
8/10
Superb cinematography, editing, direction and a lovely performance by the lead actress
8 September 2018
Superb cinematography by Masao Nakabori, a lovely script, creditable editing by the director, an amazing debut by the director Kore-eda and finally an unforgettable performance by the lead actress, the beautiful Makiko Esumi. For me, there were two remarkable sequences--the spare bulb rolling by itself on the table and the funeral procession taken as a long shot (reminding you of "The Seventh Seal" and "8 1/2", all the more striking because of the bare soundtrack). For me, this work of the director is his second best among the seven I have seen so far--the best work being "The Third Murder " One of the key aspects of the film was the effective static long shots of the dwelling entrances in key sequences.
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After Life (1998)
7/10
Lovely, innovative script with well-thought out art direction and set
7 September 2018
The script reminded me of Amenabar's "The Others." Amazing subject. Amazing art direction with windows partly frosted. The end hymn (with the end credits) on the soundtrack reveals Kore-eda's interest in Christianity as is evident in The Third Murder. What stuns me is Kore-eda's variety of original subjects chosen by him to film as writer, editor, and director. It is also a tribute to filmmaking/video making processes.
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I Wish (2011)
7/10
Amazingly disarming children's film for adults as well
22 August 2018
Amazingly disarming children's film for adults as well. The variety of subjects, the choice of his actors, his editing and his original scripts, make Kore-eda one of the most fascinating directors alive and making films in quick succession. Both he and Naomi Kawase are two Japanese directors consistently focusing on family relationships irrespective of the genre and type of film.

One of the best use of child actors in cinema since Carol Reed's "Oliver!"
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Moe no suzaku (1997)
8/10
The most delicate work of Kawase
7 August 2018
Sublime. The most delicate film of Kawase that I have seen. Death/suicide only indirectly shown. No sex, only platonic love. Criticism of money wasted on projects never completed. The English title: The God Suzaku. Wonderful body movements of actors and camera movements. Poetic. Intelligent use of music and sound. Kawase's original script. Very good casting.
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7/10
A film that belongs to novelist/philosopher Mercier and the topnotch ensemble cast
29 July 2018
I like the films of Bille August but this is not his best work. Where the film works is the content of the novel written by Pascal Mercier (a.k.a. Peter Bieri). August needs to be credited with the casting of Charlotte Rampling, Lena Olin, Tom Courtenay, Bruno Ganz, Christopher Lee, Martina Gedeck, Jeremy Irons, and Melanie Laurent (in that order) with a critical flaw--Olin and Laurent don't look the same, especially when Laurent has so many visible moles and Olin doesn't and they are playing the same person, with only age as a difference. Their capabilities as actresses are not in question but they just do not look alike. The chess game at the beginning was again interesting but to what purpose? Even the philosophy of the novel holds your interest at the start but that unfortunately gets diluted as the film progresses. The film will be remembered for the creditable cast ensemble, each attempting to give their best in this film. And many do, indeed!
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7/10
More to the film than meets the eye
29 July 2018
"She left the United States because she don't like the chickens" "It's funny, I had somebody in my family who had exactly the same problem." Quotes from the film. A film about destiny and luck. Two fishes--from 5 loaves and 2 fishes?

Bored destiny of an exile, whose wounds are healed, and now wants to go to Haifa in Israel! Where many exiles have returned.
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7/10
Religion and madness explored in three Acts with the camera elevated to a silent commentator
29 July 2018
A film in three Acts. Well constructed. The real commentary on the story is given by the camera. In each Act, a major character is introduced on screen after other characters are shown speaking to that person. The effect is unusual but good. The end has the camera retreating from the house and its characters. Open ended. Religion and madness in the family come into focus. A cousin blindly falls in love with another cousin. Could have been alternately titled "The Strange Case of Benilde" to be parallel or twinning with de Oliveira's later work "The Strange Case of Angelica"
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7/10
Flawed script with some short evocative segments
29 July 2018
Good actors but the script based on Petronius' writings is ambitious but flawed. Petronius' own writings is partially lost. Fellini tries to connect the surviving tales and loses credibility while trying to connect the surviving fragments. The highlights: the short but evocative performance of Lucia Bose as a slave owner who frees her slaves and commits suicide with her husband who are facing bad days ahead, The others are Capucine and Magali Noel (a Fellini regular) who have a commanding screen presence in their brief roles.
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