Flash Reviews, Pt. 6

Welcome to another installment of Flash Reviews, where I share brief snapshot reviews of the movies I’ve watched, books I’ve read and occasional other entertainment I’ve consumed since the last time I did this. Usually once every two months or so. WARNING: Spoilers lie ahead, so just watch out. Not super detailed spoilers, since these are just snapshots, but the better you know my tastes, the more likely you’ll be to find something spoiled.

 

FILM

Kagemusha

Interesting. Long. Some beautiful stuff and the ending sequence is just brutal, but movingly so.

Ordet

I really liked this film. One of the most powerful spiritual films and surprisingly successful depictions of the miraculous that I’ve seen. Interesting questions of faith and doubt and reconciling religious traditions evident throughout. Definitely worth a watch.

Castaway on the Moon

Weird. But delightfully so. Very entertaining look at loneliness and the importance of human connection.

1001 Grams

Dealing with some of the same themes as Castaway on the Moon, but in a totally different tone. Much more preoccupied with loss and how we measure life. A beautifully shot film, with significant color palettes used throughout to great emotive effect. Heavy, but in a light-hearted sort of way.

Timbuktu

One of the best films I’ve seen at International Cinema this year. Gorgeous cinematography, shots that could easily be photographs. A few notable ones—a game of soccer without a ball, and a long shot of a lake after a particularly tragic moment. Not to mention that the film humanizes jihadists in a way that allows for better understanding, but not necessarily at the detriment of condemning their actions. A powerful film.

Elena

I loved this film as well. It’s probably not for everyone, but I thought it explored some of the Russian (and more broadly former Soviet Union) problems in the face of change. The characters were complex and had incredible depth (although that may be largely below the gruff, blunt Russian exterior). Significant and interesting use of music throughout.

Playing

An intriguing film, but one that didn’t really resonate strongly with me. It was well done and fascinating, but didn’t have a strong emotional impact.

Chronicle

Wow. I enjoyed this film. It took a pretty dark turn half-way through that resulted in an interesting tonal shift, but I think still worked. Uniquely structured in a way that kept it fresh, as did the realistic portrayal of what teens with super powers would probably do.

Koyaanisqatsi

Definitely not a film for everyone. Like, probably for 5 people. It’s basically a photo slideshow with a soundtrack, except it’s not just photos, there are actual video clips used, but with music, not the sound. No dialogue. The music is great, by Philip Glass and the film was provocative, but definitely not for everyone.

Chungking Express

I enjoyed this film, even though it baffled me. The links between the first and second story were pretty loose, which I guess is the point? Some really cool film stuff.

In the Mood for Love

A delightful film. Slow and moody, with gorgeous cinematography. You could take almost any shot and use it as a still photograph. Great acting. A pretty subtle, low-key performance, but solid.

Ashes of Time [Redux]

I was pretty out of it while I was watching this film, which is already convoluted and confused, so that didn’t really help create a great experience. My least favorite of the Wong Kar Wai films (Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love are the other two).

Pan’s Labyrinth

Brutal, dark, yet beautiful.

Eat, Drink, Man, Woman

So much delicious food. A solid film about family relationships.

The Empire Strikes Back

One of my favorite films of all time. One of the greatest. So much classic dialogue. And one of the greatest film twists of all time that is not a twist at all today.

Siddharth

A sad, powerful, and raw story of human experience.

Nostalghia

An odd, artistic film. Not my favorite. Some great shots and a moving sequence in a churchyard with the voice of God (except that it feels totally out of place within the context of the film).

Blow Up

Sort of like Rear Window except you like the protagonist way less and more weed. Again, some interesting sequences, but as a whole, just kind of off.

The Lives of Others

Wow. This was a powerful film. Perhaps one of the best. Not a favorite since it requires such emotional investment, but a powerful story of redemption and the power of one man in the face of great evil.

 

 

 

BOOKS

The Mysteries of London, Vol. I

Long, terrible, but great. Like the Pacific Rim of 19th Century British literature. Delightfully awful.

The Knife Thrower

A fascinating collection of short stories. I enjoyed most of them. I’m not a huge short story person, but definitely appreciated these.

Wolf Hall

Wonderful. I read this over quite a long period of time, which took away some from the power of the story, but a solid book. Follows Thomas Cromwell, in King Henry VIII’s court.

 

Past Installments here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.

 

 

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