The Films of 2019

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2019

#51 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:15 pm

Bliss (Joe Begos)

As aggressive and abrasive a film as I’ve seen in years, all energy and momentum, its characters empty and unpleasant. The cinematic equivalent of listening to a Carcass album: jangling and bewildering and mortifying, but also astonishing. Its tone orgiastic and electric. It delights in overloading the viewer. A descent into the grimy pits of addiction and ecstasy. Trash cinema made with verve and skill. I left the theatre feeling slightly drunk. I loved it, but I imagine most will hate it. It's about vampires, art, addiction, drugs, capitalism, partying, sex, etc, etc.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2019

#52 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:16 pm

Blood On Her Name (Matthew Pope)

A minimalist thriller set in the Ozarks. The movie opens on a single mom, sitting in the auto repair shop she owns, wondering what to do with the body of the man she’s just killed. We don’t know why she killed him or how she came to be in this situation, but you just know her choices from here on out will unravel her life. A movie about violence, poverty, and despair, as expected, but never quite as sweat-soaked and desperate as it ought to be. It’s just a bit too gentle.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2019

#53 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:17 pm

Jade’s Asylum (Alexandre Carrière)

The most interesting thing about this movie, where a group of friends and potential business partners on a South American retreat are stalked by jungle monsters sprouting fungus and dripping sap, is a discontinuous editing style in which scenes recur and expand, gaining new information, perspective, and context in a dream-like pastiche. The film intercuts these ever-expanding fragments with shots of our heroine, a woman struggling with trauma and perhaps mental illness, who has just settled into a bath at the film’s beginning and stares hauntedly out of the water. The implication of the editing scheme is that the events of the first half, if not playing out entirely in her head, are at least somehow under her influence or a part of her understanding. But eventually I had to admit the technique was pointless, that the monsters were real and autonomous, and that the heroine is no more connected to the events than anyone else. This is not a plot reveal or a realization the film builds towards or sets up, either. There just comes a point where you give up expecting the film to make something of its editing scheme.

Given the film barely runs 80 minutes, including a long mix of bloopers and extra scenes that interrupt or play over the credits, I suspect the editing style of the first half is there to help pad out a thin script by reusing footage as much as possible. In the context of student films, I’d say its makers have a strong future in the business. But this is an independant film made by professionals, so it’s just amateur. Even the story is insufficiently motivated, and ends with a thematic conclusion that’s unearned. After the screening, the director mentioned the film was in many ways an excuse to stay in the beautiful shooting location. It shows.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2019

#54 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:18 pm

Mystery of the Night (Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr)

Adapts a play based on Filipino folklore: a woman, impregnated by a high-ranking clergyman in Spanish occupied Philippines, is taken by the governor into the forest and left there to die. Found by three spirit women, guardians of the forest, the baby will grow up and eventually meet and fall in love with the govenor’s son, now grown and on a ritual quest for manhood. All is fated to end badly—both the plot, and your experience watching it. The film is slow, stiff, and very boring. It lacks the energy and carnality this kind of story is built for. What is this but a story of propulsive emotions that cannot be escaped? It’s dreary even to look at: tho’ shot in the jungle, the digital photography is flat and overlit, and all the colour desaturated. The richness of the jungle is absent, unaccountably. Even more unaccountably, the film is shot on location in the jungle and yet often staged and photographed as a play, with a central set, brightly lit from overhead, where the action takes place while the surrounding scenery remains in various degrees of darkness. Basic filmic sense is absent as well: most shots are held too long, with little sense for when to cut in. The slow, deliberate pace is not rewarded with the pleasures of style and atmosphere, nor complexity of theme, character, and story. The film drags on with no sense of appropriate pace. So slow is its narrative that what I thought to be the main plot was actually the prologue, which inexplicably occupies nearly half the run time. The film lifts a bit at the climax, but mostly I was glad to know it was nearly done.

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