The Film Review Corner

Extraneous communication, genuflection, adulation, dissection and admiration should make its way in here.

Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:17 pm

I actually had a crush on Vaughn back in the '90s, he made the indie film Swingers, he used to be good-looking, but he is going the way of Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. :) The same with his acting talent, he isn't such a lousy actor at heart, it's just that in the latest decades he had have this air of nonchalance that seeps into his acting very badly. I think I read he drinks, well, something makes him project douche vibes and for-the-paycheck in comedy which in turn makes him ugly inside out, and he came from drama acting. Films like The Dilemma are inexcusable.
Hollywood at its worst when it comes to taking a promising young actor and then ruining them. He could have been a younger John Cusack or Robert Downey Jr (two of my absolute favourite actors since I was in middle-school, watch their 80s comedies, top-notch FUNNY for all eternity), except these two have always done interesting work from their teens up.

Youtube made me watch a hideous trailer, again, for a film called Insurgent, Resurgent, whatever. Terrible, terrible, and Kate Winslet, what is she doing there, just because Bullock made a sci-fi doesn't mean you have to do this. I'm like a shark waiting for a new Battlefield Earth. I cannot wait. :twisted:
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby David Earle » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:22 am

What the hell is Insurgent about? I know it's the sequel to Divergent and that's sort of like humans on the Eldar Path except they kill their Exodites off, something like that, I'm having trouble caring at this point.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:03 am

Whatever the film is about the trailer lost it completely. Winslet is stiff and then they show the kids terrible acting. That's not a good impression, everything one gets is omg, Winslet, and those kids can't act. I'm willing to pay five whole crowns for the trailer to go away.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:00 pm

Calvary: not as funny as its companion, The Guard, but deeper and so more affecting. Wonderfully shot and acted. Recommended.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Xisor » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:40 pm

Chun the Unavoidable wrote:Calvary: not as funny as its companion, The Guard, but deeper and so more affecting. Wonderfully shot and acted. Recommended.

Ooh, I did enjoy Calvary. Bit odd to bill it as a black comedy - but it does the trick. Certainly a healthy dose of chuckling to it, but like you say: immensely affecting too.

Might need to give it a re-watch.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:15 pm

The Cabin in the Woods:

What a load of rubbish. Joss Whedon, really? Really?
You know the students that populated horror flicks during the 70s and 80s, the ones that were moronic and assholes all wrapped in one? After seeing this film I want them back, I want to hug them. If these new eras sassy students are the new thing in horror then I hope they die. I want justice!

First, The Cabin in the Woods is everything wrong about the new horror films. It wants to be clever, or more accurate, smarter than old flicks, yes, we have seen and heard that before like since Scream.
Second, this movie trips over itself to be camp, zomg, the 70s. That's not how camp works. Usually camp is unintentional and when it isn't it's done with love.
John Waters and Quentin Tarantino are supreme followers of camp and genre film, the reason they can is because they have an enormous love and respect for the genre they make fun of. Tarantino is passionate about exploitation film, it's his life to pay homage to every cliché of those films. Another distinction, Waters and Tarantino have tremendous love for their trashy and jerk characters. Wes Craven knew what he made fun of in Scream, he made those freaking films himself!
TCITW doesn't have any of this, it's cynical and cold, it wants to settle old scores with past decades. The characters are all typical horror fare: the students, the jock, the female in underwear, cabin, the pothead, metal rock, and they're super annoying because it's so obvious they want to do it better than their ancestors. The moment the pothead made an entrance I was like noo, they went there. They were such assholes, what a world! The film just poured it on thickly in case it went unnoticed. The actors certainly did't have a knowledge that they are suppose to have fun with the material, they played it straight. Is this a meta reference within a meta reference? Are we inside a joke, are we too dumb or too smart. Who the **** cares. New Whedon is freaking obnoxious with his "I'm too smart for my own good", I'm not a big fan anymore. We got it with the abysmal Dollhouse and sometimes that SMRT comes back and bites you in the ass. TCitW is a prime example. The story was bogus from start to finish, the ending was bs. CGI, what the hellhole.

Whenever a horror film ends with with a rock song I go ¤%&. You don't make the film edgy or contemporary, rock has been going on for 50 years now. Evil Dead II has a beautiful score and Tarantino has outstanding music from all eras in his films.

Horror is trashy, it's very hard to find quality horror flicks, it's a genre that drowns in bad. We the fans know this and we love it for these shortcomings. Evil Dead is a true camp horror classic, and again, it's done with tremendous love by Raimi. I would have expected this kind of icy treatment from the likes of Zack Snyder, he has no depth and doesn't understand horror, people nor life, and not from Whedon, he should know better. In Buffy he pays due to all the stereotypes and mouldy clichés of monster and horror cinema while keeping it light-hearted and fun.

One example of terrific mocking is Beavis and Butthead, they sit to watch and mock trashy music videos while we laugh with them and also at them. TCitW is anti-MST3k and not because it's too good, but because it sucks out the joy of riffing and life itself.

Image

Edit: Joss isn't Josh. :roll:
Last edited by Vivia on Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby David Earle » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:20 pm

Fun trivia:

"Whedon and director Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, World War Z) wrote the movie together in a long weekend. They checked into a hotel in Santa Monica on Thursday night and stayed through Sunday. They had a bungalow with an upstairs and a downstairs, and Goddard sat upstairs and Whedon sat downstairs, and they'd pass pages back and forth. That way, they could be in a bubble for three days and not have to worry about anything except pounding it out."

"At one point, Whedon wanted to direct the movie. Before they started writing Cabin, Whedon told Goddard that he'd produce it, and Goddard should direct it. But halfway through the writing process, Whedon walked upstairs and told Goddard, "I kind of feel like I want to direct this now." Goddard was disappointed, but also happy because you couldn't ask for a better director. Afterwards, Whedon changed his mind back, and decided Goddard should direct it, because "I have a problem with dismembering people. And it felt to me a little bit like a step back if I was going to do this.""

For what it's worth I enjoyed The Cabin in the Woods, but if you're disappointed in Whedon you can always blame Goddard for everything. World War Z, ugh. :lol:

(Also, the whole screenplay in a long weekend? #&*$#)
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:44 pm

Omg, that Goddard? Well, that explains so much and yet doesn't explain Whedon. I'm not surprised Goddard did World War Z, I tried to watch it but it couldn't keep my attention. He gives the impression of having nothing to say in film, he is a vapid soul, not to say I didn't enjoy Cloverfield, but it's soulless. Cloverfield, TCinW, World War Z doesn't make the best resume, I wonder if he can get work by now. The bite in the ass is probably waiting in the shadows.
Fun facts, WWZ had like five writers, yes, that's a big red alert when it comes to bad films. It means the script was constantly deemed unsatisfactory and people freaked out.

For some reason I thought TCitW was another film, a psychological horror flick. It's possible I'm imagining things, I need to check on IMDB. When I saw the name Whedon I was disappointed, he isn't exactly one to stand for subtlety and suspense, nor pitch-black Lovecraftian themes either, and then watching the beginning it went exactly as I had expected because you know, I have learned to know the Whedon touch. My first give-away was seeing the same actor that played the annoying "loveable" nerd in Dollhouse. No. No. :)

Maybe I'll write about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Maybe. It's so bad it's bad and I don't know if I can muster any energy to write about it, I don't know if I want to put it in the Film Challenge even. I want to heal and forget. Another fun vampire.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby David Earle » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:45 am

Sony had Goddard set to direct two of the Amazing Spider-man sequels that probably won't happen now. Take from that what you will. I think he's also got a script for a Cloverfield sequel.

God, World War Z had so many problems I'm amazed it ever got made. It really should have been some kind of indie documentary film, not... that. With either ending.

I started watching Darby McGill and the Little People for some reason while I couldn't hear it. About what I remember from my childhood, plus Sean Connery's only attempt at any form of fake accent whatsoever.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:01 am

The script for Cloverfield 2 has existed for quite some time now. I remember when the hype was on they were all the sequel is coming soon just you wait. I don't think so. We'll see if it's true or if Goddard turns into Michael Cimino and claiming that things are "moving" after not working for nearly three decades.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:42 am

Contrary-wise, I rather enjoyed The Cabin in the Woods... and World War Z.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Athelassan » Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:11 pm

I've seen a couple of films recently, but I'm going to talk about Caligula as it's possibly the most interesting, not so much for its content and message, but as an almost unique example of cinema.

The first thing to note about Caligula, and probably the only thing most people know about it, is that it's one of the most sexually explicit mainstream films ever made, if not the most. When you look at the producer, that probably won't be surprising, as it was made by Penthouse, and it'd be fair to ask what else anyone was expecting. But during the 70s Penthouse had actually had its production fingers in a number of other films, including well-known entries like The Longest Yard, and Chinatown, one of the best films in the history of cinema. So Penthouse's involvement wasn't an automatic red flag.

This was also the 70s, an era of experimentation in the arts, and a decade where an overtly pornographic film had acquired such pop cultural status as to be referenced in the Watergate scandal codenames. The MPAA was gradually unwinding the decades of repressive moral and political imposition on cinema by the Hays Code. The opportunity to bridge the divide between adult and normal entertainment had probably never been greater.

Bob Guccione, the owner of Penthouse, took on the role of executive producer and sought out big and respected names to underpin the production. He recruited Tinto Brass, an avante-garde Italian director, and hired Gore Vidal to write the screenplay. Malcolm McDowell, fresh from A Clockwork Orange, was brought in to play the lead, along with rising star Helen Mirren, and John Gielgud and Peter O'Toole persuaded to play elder statesmen. The budget was $17m, a healthy total for the 1970s if not record-breaking, and Guccione was clearly prepared to commit to the production financially.

And yet Caligula remains one of those films nobody really talks about except with a shake of the head varying from sad to disgusted.

The film itself starts relatively strongly. "PAGAN ROME" declares the initial title, the vocabulary, typeface andred-on-black text suggestive of some forgotten barbarous glory. It looks darkly epic in the sense of Spartacus or Ben-Hur. This is followed by a short, virtually dialogue-free sequence of two lovers frolicking in a forest, an idyllic pastoral scene - those clued in will immediately recognise Caligula himself and the woman soon revealed as his sister-lover, Drusilla. Then the main titles, overscored with Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights and, annoying overuse by a certain TV show aside, few can match that tune for an intimidating dramatic effect.

We then follow Caligula as he is brought to his uncle Tiberius's palace, exposed to the old Emperor's paranoia, the debaucheries being practised there, the relationship between him and his friend the Praetorian captain Macro, and between Tiberius and his major-domo Nerva, who along with his grandson Gemellus, is the only man Tiberius believes he can trust. There's a brief battle of wits between Caligula and Tiberius, and eventually Caligula becomes Emperor himself and goes to Rome, where the familiar story ensues.

It should make for compelling viewing. It's a good story, and the film leaves itself plenty of room to tell it, a full two and a half hours. But it's a disaster. The film's a sprawling behemoth which is narratively and cinematographically all over the place, the whole thing overlaid with a background of writhing naked flesh regularly veering into the outright pornographic, which makes the entire production feel distasteful and slightly sticky. The opening gives the sense that while what follows is likely to be trashy, it's probably going to be fun. If anything, it's almost the reverse: the narrative seems to be aiming for "high art" even if it falls well short of that, while the elements apparently inserted to liven things up serve to make the experience unpleasant rather than entertaining.

So what went wrong? Firstly, Vidal fell out with Brass over the screenplay. Vidal wanted to show Caligula's descent from a good man to a monster as he became corrupted by power, while Brass wanted to show him as a born monster in whom power brought out the worst; Brass inevitably got his way and the film was extensively rewritten to the point Vidal disavowed it. Then Brass fell out with Guccione. Brass wanted to make a "proper" film, erotic material present but not dominating the experience, but Guccione wanted to go the full nine yards and insisted on inclusion of more explicit sex scenes, more appearances from the Penthouse playmates, and so forth. Brass rebelled, trying to keep the camera focus on the principals with the erotica remaining in the background, and when that became unavoidable, deliberately filming actors he thought unattractive while ignoring the models. Then, in post-production, Guccione had additional (erotic) shots and scenes filmed and added without consulting Brass, so that Brass too insisted on his name being taken off the finished product.

It's that absence of restraint from a genuine director and editor in good faith that really kills the film. The narrative is messy, but that's largely because it keeps losing focus and is surrounded by flab. The star performances are actually pretty good: Gielgud is forgettable, but O'Toole and Mirren are clearly enjoying themselves, and McDowell takes things seriously; he's just as good as in A Clockwork Orange. Apparently DiCaprio used McDowell here as a reference point for his Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street. But those performances are all lost in the sea of gratuitous boobs and genitals.

A few critics talk of Caligula as a good film fighting to escape from a bad one, and I can see their point. With a really ruthless edit, and cutting almost all the really gratuitous sex shots - which wouldn't be hard as thanks to Brass's stubbornness they're almost entirely separated from the actually important material - it could be made respectable. There is a 105-minute version which attempts exactly that, and maybe one day I'll watch it, but I'm not minded to endure another 100 minutes of this stuff any time soon. A lot of the erotic material is fundamentally uncuttable since it's in the background of otherwise important shots (how the lead actors kept their composure I will never know) but with the close-ups and intercut scenes removed, it would be enough to bring it down (or up) to the level of, say, Eyes Wide Shut. And also thanks to Brass's sensibilities, the film fails on the level of titillation or erotica. There's sex all over the place, but it's overlaid with such violence and nastiness and general squick that I can't imagine anyone but the worst people would actually find it arousing if viewed in context.

In any case, the film ended up pretty much a one-off. It made a modest profit (and was very successful for a film marketed as openly pornographic), but was panned by critics. The film also killed Tinto Brass's career as a mainstream director: while he was never going to be the next Leone he probably deserved better than to disappear into the obscurity of Euro-erotica. More sadly, perhaps, it also put a dent in McDowell's: the roles didn't dry up exactly, but he never quite achieved the stardom he perhaps could have.

As an experiment it was a failure, and has never really been repeated: even more recent films with unsimulated sex (like Nine Songs) aren't anywhere near this gratuitous. Some of Lars von Trier's work might possibly bear comparison but even that is rarely this explicit or purportedly titillating (even if Caligula fails on that measure). If anything I think the line has become more entrenched in the years following: there seems now to be a fairly clear divide between what is acceptable mainstream nudity/sex (see: Game of Boobs Thrones) and porn, which is largely confined to its own artistic ghetto once more (if a highly profitable one).

So is it worth watching? Ultimately, no. I think, unless you're interested in an academic sense to see a moment in cinematic history and a particularly unpleasant example of how executive meddling can destroy films, there's really nothing here: certainly nothing in the way of enjoyment. McDowell does his best to save the film, but he can't and doesn't. A good performance in isolation is still ultimately just that and the rest of the film is so horrible that it's just not worth it.

I'm not in the habit of giving out "star ratings", but just so we're clear, it gets one. Out of ten, out of five, it doesn't really matter. And that star is entirely for the lead actors' performances. Yeah.

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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:12 pm

Hee, I was reading that in the Cinema Snob voice. :D

Anyway: yes, Caligula is a mess. The 70s, why must it be so awful, so hard to love. Caligula, Myra Breckinridge, Zardos, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, that's why.
What I found most hilarious was the fact that Caligula is essentially an exploitation film with high flying ideas to be an art film. Amazing.
If you know anything about trash and exploitation cinema then you'll know the Italian film industry reigned supreme in the genre. In hindsight we laugh and say what were the cast thinking when they got into an Italian production because it's so obvious it would become awful, and particularly in that era. Even James Bond suffered from this, I think if the production had been entirely British we would had a totally different mood.

I hardly remember the story or the film, it's one of those films I found to be aesthetically repelling on an outstanding level. I lost focus because it's so repelling and when that happens I can't get it back, my eyes need to rest on something and this film wasn't it. It falls into the same category as Saturday Night Fever in that sense; the story is a drama, good grief, and it's well-acted, I guess, but all I can think of is the hideous make-up of Karen Lynn Gorney and Travolta's hair. I can't. I just can't. That's the same for Caligula, so much ugly. :D
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Xisor » Sat Apr 04, 2015 7:21 pm

As it is, Cabin in the Woods tickled me just right. Not a timeless film, nor an altogether groundbreaking one, but it's by far the best 'mass appeal' horror I've seen made in years - especially in a time when most things on offer might as well be Superboring Jumpscare 5.

It's also helped, I think, that I never especially cared for old horror classics. I can enjoy the likes of The Shining and Alien and whatnot, but swathes of the older stuff never impressed me. Hell, swathes of the newer stuff never impressed me either. Humbug - even in literary terms, horror doesn't do much for me. Not because I'm too scared or not scared enough... it just never seems to chime with me. Offer up something like Shaun of the Dead or Young Frankenstein, that I can handle. Cabin in the Woods, then, felt at least like a bit of a variation on that theme.

---

In other news, I've hardly watched anything cinematic. Still keen to catch Chappie at somepoint, but unlikely any time soon.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:33 am

Interstellar: Hmm. Some gorgeous visuals (even if most of them were grey), crap sound (lots of muttering of what could be important explanations), naff -or naffly executed- concept. Overlong. But it held the attention, and so is certainly worth a watch.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Major Rawne » Tue Apr 07, 2015 9:08 pm

Went to see Fast and Furious 7 last Friday. It was brilliantly stupid. I loved it. That ending really tugged at the heart strings. So much so that I think the person several seats over was sobbing when the credits rolled, that or it was just allergies.

Watched a number of films as well over the weekend including Red Tails, 2012, Killing Season and The Birdcage. I think I enjoyed 2012 the best. Nothing like a silly disaster movie with shoddy science and massive CGI destruction. Has me quite excited for San Andreas this summer. Disaster movie and The Rock, what isn't to like about that winning combination.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Insomniac » Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:31 am

I like Caligula. I watched the fast and furious movies and they were a good trip,down memory lane. I watched big lebowksi and it was good.

Trailer park boys movies are hit and Miss but some are funny. Factotum was a fantastic watch and one of y favorites.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Athelassan » Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:42 am

Vivia wrote:If you know anything about trash and exploitation cinema then you'll know the Italian film industry reigned supreme in the genre. In hindsight we laugh and say what were the cast thinking when they got into an Italian production because it's so obvious it would become awful, and particularly in that era. Even James Bond suffered from this, I think if the production had been entirely British we would had a totally different mood.

I think you're right, although it's perhaps something only obvious in retrospect. Exploitation film seemed to be very much at home in Italy and some of the stuff that was produced is just jawdropping. But maybe because of the low-budget trash factory there, Italy also seemed to throw up some genuinely talented directors and at least one revolutionary genre still very highly regarded, and while "made in Italy" might sound a few alarm bells when it comes to film, I can see why they'd want to make this sort of thing there even if they were playing with a completely straight bat.

I'm inclined to agree about your aesthetic sensibilities too. The film is kind of an assault on the eyeballs - not so much on the stomach, as with other contemporary exploitation films, but nevertheless enough I think to make it a gruelling experience.

Again, it's kind of ironic and funny, I think, that Game of Thrones (and other similar shows) feel the need to insert sex scenes to keep the viewers from getting bored, including the notorious "sexposition" where important plot points are relayed over bouncing nudity. The snooty among us sniff at this, but it does seem to work even on people who should know better. But in Caligula I think it's almost the other way round: the sex gets in the way of the plot, and rather than keeping us interested it makes us want to turn it off (pace Insomniac). Maybe it's because the sex is so explicit, and/or because the film's atmosphere is so generally seedy. I don't know.

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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Insomniac » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:39 pm

It's a decadent trashy train wreck. I haven't seen it in years. Italian cinema, especially in the 60s/70s produced a slew of awfulness. All the nazi exploitation films like Nazi Love Camp 27 (and all the other knock off Ilsa clones), the nastiness in Salo and Cannibal Holocaust (though that was 1980). Half of those are still banned around the world. And for the most part those films stay relevant - speaking about the exploitation films - because stoner rock bands use the artwork for posters and flyers.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Xisor » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:42 pm

Kingsman

Caught it on Monday there as it was sunny and I fancied a day out, but then once I'd developed a headache because of the sunshine, I hoped to head indoors and follow this Narry-sanctioned advice:
Image

Therein, I was treated to Kingsman. Foremost, another instalment in Vaughn's hyperviolent affectionate satire series. It's a bit like if Young Frankenstein decided to ramp up the horror/violence rather than the absurdity and preposterousness. Similarly, like Young Frankenstein, it introduces a few questionable and problematic topics in doing so, but largely manages to not dwell on them too much, and instead lets its more hilarious, more accurate pastiches really shine.

(In the main, I think problem topics include - sidelining the second-string woman, odd decision to have the baddies be lisping and with prosthetics [though they're also, separately a strength], the final joke, the Michael Caine parallel with Interstellar and, to some extent, whether Vaughn is espousing an ideal or just artistically devil's advocating/exploring. All were low-key enough for me not to dwell on though. Also the 'end joke'.)

Anyway. Pretty gripping stuff. Like Kick Ass, it has the benefit of being a credible pastiche of a genre I've never been wholly fond of, but nevertheless more-often-than-not found myself enjoying. There's a lot of neatness to it, a lot of fairly clever observations and even a pretty interestingly done set of characters. It's not an astonishing feat, but it was pretty pleasing in a broad way. It hit most of the right notes that it seemed to be aiming for, and those notes were suitably unusual, inventive, creative or even just crudely funny that I found myself really well entertained.

Also, it's the first film I recall in it that has a St Andrews joke in it. 8-)

The church scene, for instance, was astonishing. As was the heads scene. Not entirely sure they worked. Or that I liked them. But I think I liked their existence. I think. Maybe I liked them shocking me.

Anyway, not a perfect film - a lot of odd tonal changes, even scene to scene, but then I don't think that disjointness really bothers me. In fact, I think I'm broadly happier to see more of it - especially if it's doing something relatively inventive and creative in the process. If it's already a bit of a pedestrian, run-of-the-mill piece, I'd be a lot less tolerant of that sort of thing, but in films like this, it's not even that it doesn't matter, rather: it's kind-of the point. It's already defying, subverting or playing around with lots of norms. (Though not enough, in my esteem. Nevertheless!)

Weirdly, it made me want to re-watch The Southland Tales.
"When my housemate puts his bike in the middle of the living room floor, I find that inordinately jarring, annoying and rude, but for me to refer to it as "genocide" would be incorrect." -Ath
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