Film Viewing Log: Aug. 1- Aug. 15

...Chris Eriz here

(Liu Jiayin, 2005, China)- 5/5
I was almost fooled by its documentary-like approach, when I realized by the second half of the film that it must be scripted, considering the carefully planned choices of long, static, cramped-up shots for each scene. And my sympathies all go to the father and his dilemma of either sticking it out for his craft, his passion, or giving in to what the public wants. There is also something ambiguously profound in the ending, where they give no answer or response to what the father says in the end.

The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975, Soviet Union)- 3.5/5
Utterly beautiful, if not entirely moving, in the way the whole thing is filmed. Because of Tarkovsky’s ease in filming natural elements-- the gentle movements of the curtains, the steps through the mud, the cloth as it starts to catch fire-- and attention to minutiae detail, the way the story unfolds seems to be not that important, considering how we can already guess quite a lot on what will eventually happen from the film’s title.

Egg (Semih Kaplanoğlu, 2007, Turkey)- 3.5/5
It is perhaps not as great as Kaplanoğlu’s later film, Honey, that just perfectly captures the beauty of the rural landscapes through image and sound and the pains and melancholy of childhood. But, perhaps, I’ve just never experienced adulthood yet in order to fully relate with and understand the hero’s brooding over the past and going back to his roots in this film.

La Perle
(Henri d'Ursel, 1929, Belgium)- 4/5
Deliciously fun and erotic. After seeing this, I felt like slickly sauntering around high-class apartments and stealing jewelleries from all the tenants in those tight outfits, just like what I had felt before, subsequent to watching Maggie Cheung portray Irma Vep.

Un Lac (Philippe Grandrieux, 2008, France)- 4/5
Truth be told, while watching it, I kept psychoanalyzing every human relations and interactions in the film even with the father, with his anti-climactic arrival, noticing suggestions of incest between the older brother and sister, and psychological complexes in almost each and every one of them, especially Alexi. But, perhaps, I was using the wrong approach. The filmmaker seems more interested in creating an atmosphere of bleakness living in isolation and capturing the stillness of the scenic snowy landscapes, with his use of non-patterned and uncalculated array of film techniques.

The Ball at the Anjo House (Kozaburo Yoshimura, 1947, Japan)- 4.5/5
Oh, Masayuki Mori was so dreamy then, or maybe I do really have a thing for badass boys. Oh, those smoke rings. Swoon. I don’t think there is anything juicier, for me at least, than the crumbling of an upper-class family, troubled by the loss of all their wealth. Yet in this film, one can’t somehow help but feel for the family and their plight. This is great, juicy family drama stuff, the kind I’ve always expected out of old Hollywood melodrama films that mostly just stooped down to either playing it safe or going way over-the-top. But here, prepare for some drama dealing, with class relations, some “Old money” and “New Money” conflict, and both familial and romantic tensions, all done in a sincere manner. I got my eyes all glued to the screen during the grand finale to the ball.

Nostalgia for the Light
(Patricio Guzmán, 2010, Chile)- 4.5/5
Going into this, I was expecting the film to be an existential search for truth and to have a sense of wonderment about this whole bigger world up there in space. Although it does mention a thing or two about those things, this is not a film wholly interested in and dedicated to the greater scope of things. It is mostly about memory and the past. Society is keen on finding about the origins of us, humankind, our past thousands of years ago, but it would do anything to forget our immediate past, especially ones that reflect badly on what humans are capable of. Once again, Patricio Guzman does an effective documentary film about his country's continuous agony and suffering that may seem minuscule and insignificant when measured up to the vastness of our universe but that are hugely important to those who have experienced it in the past, these people who also make up the cosmos’ intricate thread of the past, present and future.

Bitter Rice
(Giuseppe De Santis, 1949, Italy)- 4/5
Oh, Silvana, Silvana. Her dilemmas, confusion and pain over what she is doing towards her fellow countrywomen, both her conflicting feelings of fascination for wealth and luxury and empathy for her fellow rice workers, and her unpredictable behaviour. And, don’t pretend you didn’t notice her sensuality and beautiful and curvaceous body (and I am not even into women!). These are really what got me engrossed to the whole film, as I wait for her next unpredictable move even though, by the second half, we can sadly guess what her fate will be. That, and the depiction of the minor characters too, the genuine working-class women who work their asses off for this seasonal work and who only occasionally have their moments of triumph and joy.

The Party and the Guests (Jan Němec, 1966, Czechoslovakia)- 4/5
It’s hard not to think of the whole film as a political allegory, considering how the party occurs in a forest, isolated away from any real resemblance of a regime or government. And it’s horrifying to think how charismatic the birthday man and his son were, how they charmingly convinced the guests that the son abducting them was just a mere game of tomfoolery, his own idea of a game.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (David Yates, 2010, U.K.)- 2/5
I cried, a few shots even before the moment of Dobby’s death. It was not because of the film’s execution of the scene but because of how I remembered his death in the book. The film made Dobby’s last words to his old masters way too melodramatic when I don’t think there was any real emphasis to it in the book. There really is going to be a problem when you try to just swiftly execute vital scenes such as their visit to Godric’s Hollow. The quick pace of the film also does not capture the slow pace of countless moments of inactivity, of trying to figure out stuff, and of not finding anything at all, the trio kept having in the book. The eureka moments didn’t just go, like, bang, bang, bang, you know.