Loving Vincent (2017)

– Life can even bring down the strong.

Van Gogh’s trademark brush swirls (here emulated by more than 100 artists) gives a meditative quality to some sequences, but the constant wobbling – however well executed – gets too intrusive and distracting in a way that never happens in a painting. 

– He struggled to be what they wanted him to be.

Picked from different canvases, the mannerisms even get irritating at times. 

– How lonely is this guy?

The degree of realism varies from semi-photographic to more synthesized/abstract, and from elegant to downright clumsy. 

– The days seem like weeks.

Characters don’t always fit the backgrounds, perspectives seem awkward, and so on. The storytelling suffers from all this unevenness.

– Did you know he was a genius?

The script is unspectacular but reasonably captivating – a talky journey into a mystery.

– You want to know so much about his death. But what do you know about his life?

An impressive feat, but unfortunately not a coherent movie

– In the eyes of most people … a nobody.

Not in my book of unknown reasons.

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Three days of the Condor (1975)

– I miss that kind of clarity.

What goes on at the American Literary Historical Society? A retro-futuristic intro leads to a paranoid conspiracy thriller in a somewhat Hitchcockian vein, with one man pitted against a society where truth is elusive and no one can be trusted.

– Maybe there’s another CIA.

Well told and suspense-filled, though unfortunately marred by an unnecessary, strangely cut, and frankly a bit queasy sex scene given the preceding events.

Still maybe in my book of insecurity.

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The reader (2008)

»Quo, quo, scelesti, ruitis? Aut cur dexteris aptantur enses conditi?«
»Whither, whither, wicked madmen, do you rush? And why, in your right hands, are now held swords once sheathed?«
Horatius (Horace)

– I didn’t think I was good at anything.

Starts off unexpectedly emotional – and erotic! – with an insecure intellectual teenager being »liberated« by a grownup manic pixie dream girl of sorts, appearing as some kind of teutonic working class goddess with a couple of shameful secrets.

– How wrong can you be?

The unlikely, somewhat inappropriate love story changes into a german postwar showdown raising philosophical questions concerning morals, evil, and guilt.

– The law is narrow.

A remarkably longlasting bond seems impossible to break.

– What would you have done?

The juridical discussions are unconvincing, like a heavyhandedly staged play.

– What is there to understand?

Slow and sad, even solemn. Restraint keeps this from being really devastating, despite the serious matters at hand.

– What we feel isn’t important. It’s utterly unimportant. The only question is what we do.

And in the end, it’s all about chance, choice – and survival. Maybe in my book of books, love, law, and order.

»Oi men ippeon stroton oi de pesedon ego de ken otto tis eratai«
»What you love in your heart is the most beautiful in the world«

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The way we were (1973)

– It wasn’t funny.
– That’s not the only reason to laugh.

Laid-back apolitical sports jock meets angry left-wing peace activist. This begins more as parody and masquerade than drama, with Streisand and Redford ridiculously old as college students in strange clothes.

– People are their principles.

It picks up emotional momentum, though – chronicling a complex and strained relationship. But it careens much too fast through happy and troubled times, losing credibility in the process.

– It was never uncomplicated.

Nice enough, but not in my book of love and society.

– You never give up, do you?

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L’arroseur arrosé (1895)

Earliest known comedy, first comic strip adaptation, probably first child actor, first fictional story, first titular wordplay, first steps towards narrative film, first promotional poster (by Marcelin Auzolle), first to be remade!

At only 40 seconds, this is still too long for its sole prank and the spanking that follows. Far from fantastic, but things have to start somewhere. Maybe in my book of historical merit.


Lumière’s own remake:

The british version:

Similar comic strips:

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Un dimanche à la campagne (1984)

– Since I can travel any day, I never get around to it.

Mild-mannered, humble, amiable elderly artist lives a lonely life in the countryside.

– Everything new gives me the shivers.

A bittersweet rumination on the passing of time.

– A little excess is good sometimes.

The magic of the ordinary.

– Not many can boast of a crimson son.

Bad tidings and reconciliation.

– When will you stop demanding more from life?

Family, age, life, art.

– I painted as I was taught. I believed in my teachers.

Melancholy, occasionally uncomfortable.

– Maybe I lacked courage.

Slow, loving, charming, idyllic, fluid, rhapsodic, and slightly whimsical.

– It annoyed her that I was still groping my way, despite my age.

The director’s symbolic selfportrait?

– I painted as I felt, and honestly. And though I didn’t succeed better… I had an inkling of what I could have accomplished.

Unique and true to its own tone of voice, even if details remind me of both Jacques Demy and Wes Anderson.

– You could die worse.

Lovably low-key if you’re in the right mood, sappily sentimental if not. Mostly for the old at heart, I’d guess.

– Stay young.

Maybe in my blank canvas book. But what about the two little girls?

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The circus (1928)

– Where’s the funny man?

Choleric ringmaster, insecure horse rider, sad clowns. The show must go on, even for our friend-zoned tramp on a tightrope full of mischievous monkeys.

– Bring on the funny man!

Endearingly sentimental, weaker when it comes to comedy, iconic ending. Not in my book.

– Go ahead and be funny.

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Sagan om ringen (1971)

Severely truncated script, clumsy storytelling, amateurish actors, sloppy art, appalling technical quality – this awkwardly weird adaption even manages to be boring despite the brief running time! Cult musician Bo Hansson’s legendary prog soundtrack is rather nice, though.

Epitomizes almost everything wrong with the seventies. Not in my book of rings.

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Die Austernprinzessin (1919)

A silly little post-WWI comedy about a strong-willed woman and the men in her life. Simple and mostly rather bland story, neat and stylish execution with some nice details.

Enjoyable early example of »The Lubitsch Touch«, though not in my book of masters and (many!) servants.

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마더 [Mother] (2009)

– Sin goes round for all eternity. Now it’s my turn.

A bizarre dance intro leads to a very odd, seemingly impossible private murder investigation where an overprotective and desperate mother tries to save her mentally challenged son. As usual with Korean director Bong Joon-ho, we are treated to incompetent police work and sometimes grotesque overacting.

Twisted and twisting about guilt, innocence – and memory. Possibly in my immoral (or is that amoral?) book. But what was the text on the golfball?

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