Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1920)

»What we want most to be, we are«.

Is that really so? Find out in this rightly famous allegory on the duality of man, identity, temptation, and societal hypocrisy. Character motivation comes across as a bit questionable, though.

Stronger than expected, but still not in my book of transformation.

»It was you – you with your cynicism – who made me ashamed of my goodness, who made me long for a knowledge of evil!«

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Colette (2018)

Art and commerce, self and image, roles and rules, authenticity and fake, freedom and confinement. Not knowing much about the real Colette, this slow and deliberate coming-of-age tale had some rather unexpected turns.

Fascinating story, visuals too slick for credibility, ultimately a tad bland. Not in my turn-of-the-century book.

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Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920)

Foppish noblemen, exotic jews, innocent flower children. Ruthless politics, forbidden love, arcane magic. As expected, the silent movie body language is extremely exaggerated but the young lovers’ almost feverishly heavy breathing and lingering glances are still a joy to behold. The sets and special effects are oddly convincing, the cinematography advanced, and the storytelling reasonably rapid – for its day, of course. The monster itself, however, looks more ridiculous than scary (especially the hairdo!) and his domestic scenes are downright silly. Dragging our damsel in distress by her braids through the streets shows his brutality clearly enough, though.

The perhaps creepiest part to a contemporary viewer is the antisemitic scroll delivered from the ruler. All in all interesting and well worth seeing, though not in my proto-Frankensteinian book.

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Once upon a time in Hollywood (2019)

Heavy on references, this fairy tale meta-western of sorts is sprinkled with dead, loose, and unnecessary ends, finally ending with a big what if – or what the fuck?!

Quintessentially Quentin. Moments of brilliance about change and age but too long, too unfocused, and ultimately too immersed in itself. Not in my book of buddies.

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L’Inferno (1911)

Despite focusing on the more gruesome aspects of the Divina Commedia, at times this looks almost like actual comedy – body language, Beatrice’s rotating halo, flabby King Minos, the demons and giants, many of the »special effects«! The story itself is far more dated than I remembered, while the repetitive storytelling is rudimentary at best and almost devoid of dramaturgy. Combined with long explanatory texts (before events take place!) and slow tempo this becomes a tedious watch. It is impossible not to compare the visuals to Gustave Dore’s world-famous illustrations, still retaining their power to this very day.

One of the earliest feature-length movies ever, and of course spectacular for its era. Not in my infernal book, however.

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Le squelette joyeux (1898)

A quite bizarre stop-motion performance. Less than impressive today, but I sort of enjoyed the limbs falling off and starting to dance on their own.

Very short, and probably wouldn’t have been any better if longer. Not in my book of happy human remains.

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Une nuit terrible (1896)

Sleepy man gets rid of giant bedbug plus a few smaller nuisances. That’s about it, and not much more is to be expected with a running time of only one minute.

Neither funny nor creepy – not in my Kafkaesque book.

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The thousand steps (2020)

Looking (almost) like a vintage silent movie, but bumbling along rather aimlessly without the drama and emotional power needed.

Neat but lacklustre fan project. Not in my book of Mary Pickford/Dante Alighieri mashups.

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Green book (2018)

Intersectionality at work – black/brown/olive/white, rich/poor, master/servant, north/south, urban/rural, straight/gay, man/woman, intellectual/menial, famous/unknown, honest/criminal, peaceful/violent, driver/passenger, control/release. And so on in a strange, sometimes dangerous game with ever-changing roles and rules.

Relevant story, slick production, impressive performances, some debatable details – might lack that extra something, but definitely a contender for my book of struggles.

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Knives out (2019)

The biggest twist of this almost parodically oldfashioned murder mystery is that there really isn’t any big twist. The good guys are angelic to the core, while the bad eggs of the family turn out to be even more spoiled rotten than expected.

No sex, very little violence, lots of talk. Enjoyable entertainment, though not in my book of eccentric detectives with strange accents and french-sounding names.

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