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Ran

Watch, Watched, Watching: Three Monkeys Edition

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Been catching up with the usual suspects, being Resident Alien and WandaVision. The former was just as enjoyable and fluffy as always (I can't believe no one else seems to be watching this on here), while the latter was a step down from the previous three episodes which were really great. I hope episode 8 will resemble episodes 4-6 more quality wise.

After that I watched some films, first there was The Handmaiden, a Korean film from 2016 from the director of Oldboy with whom I believe many on the forum are already acquainted and which is often hailed as a modern classic. Secondly, there was Nomadland, which is a very recent film which has broken the record for greatest number of awards on the festival circuits ever.  

I have to admit that I wasn't as enthused by either as the majority seems to be. I'm not going to offer a hot take and say they are garbage, both are objectively good films, but the amount of praise is not in balance with the actual quality of the movies in my opinion.

For the Handmaiden, I thought the first third was quite weak. That is of course part of the narrative set-up, but they could have found a way to make that first act more engaging. I also felt like I didn't really get a good feel for most of the characters, particularly our main villain and I also don't really see the need for their convoluted plan 

Spoiler

Why not poison the uncle and be done with it? They were clearly okay with murder. If it wasn't for the random (but really cool) conceit of the mercury cigarettes they would have spent the rest of their lives looking over their shoulder.

I also cannot condone the book destruction. I get how icky they were, but those were priceless artifacts they destroyed :blink:

Another thing I didn't care much for were the sex scenes. I don't know what the other people who saw it felt, but to me they felt very voyeuristic. I can't help but compare this film to the far superior Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, which I think handled the dynamic of a queer relationship much more respectfully (including the sex and nudity aspect of it all). 

Nomadland on the other hand I enjoyed more. It's an odd mix of documentary realism (having real nomads play most of the characters) and Malickian vistas which is really beautiful. Fran felt like a very real person throughout and while she isn't some great exemplary human being (she's not the nomad equivalent of Uncle Tom), the film poignantly argues that she is deserving of our love and care regardless.

It is great to see this level of empathy in a film and I might adjust my score for it upwards in a few days, but part of the reason why I didn't like it is that you can just see the critic hype train rolling out celebrating it less because of the film itself and more because of paratextual elements outside of the film's inherent quality (It's filmed with real people ; it makes an important comment on current America ; no one looks like Hollywood ; All the people in it are senior citizens, etc.).

Still well worth a watch though!  

 

 

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Count me as someone who wasn’t all that impressed by The Handmaiden, mainly because I watched it with my other half and I recommended it after amazing reviews. She hated it. I can’t remember very much about it to be honest but it did seem to drag a little.

I have probably seen Oldboy 20 times but I have to say I haven’t been a massive fan of anything else that Park Chan-wook has done. I remember eagerly anticipating his vengeance movies and wondering if I’d missed something afterwards.

Maybe the only thing I felt had any lingering effect on me was Stoker , but that was mainly down to some good performances by Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode. 
 

Just looked at his IMDB and realised he did Little Drummer Girl which I didn’t realise. Again that was something that at times looked wonderful, great performance from Florence Pugh but ultimately felt quite under cooked. 

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I haven't seen The Handmaiden yet, but there's an older, two-part TV adaptation of the same novel (BBC 2005) that I liked: Fingersmith. Didn't feel voyeuristic at all.

From the spoiler above, The Handmaiden seems to take some liberties with the plot.

Spoiler

No book destruction here. (Not that I'd truly mind in this case.) Au contraire, a nice twist to that.

 

Edited by Mindwalker

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1 hour ago, Mindwalker said:

I haven't seen The Handmaiden yet, but there's an older, two-part TV adaptation of the same novel (BBC 2005) that I liked: Fingersmith. Didn't feel voyeuristic at all.

From the spoiler above, The Handmaiden seems to take some liberties with the plot.

  Hide contents

No book destruction here. (Not that I'd truly mind in this case.) Au contraire, a nice twist to that.

 

According to IMDB, when the author of the original novel received the script for The Handmaiden, she remarked that she liked it but that it would be more accurate to state that the movie had been inspired by her novel instead of being an adaptation.

5 hours ago, Heartofice said:

Count me as someone who wasn’t all that impressed by The Handmaiden, mainly because I watched it with my other half and I recommended it after amazing reviews. She hated it. I can’t remember very much about it to be honest but it did seem to drag a little.

I have probably seen Oldboy 20 times but I have to say I haven’t been a massive fan of anything else that Park Chan-wook has done. I remember eagerly anticipating his vengeance movies and wondering if I’d missed something afterwards.

Maybe the only thing I felt had any lingering effect on me was Stoker , but that was mainly down to some good performances by Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode. 
 

Just looked at his IMDB and realised he did Little Drummer Girl which I didn’t realise. Again that was something that at times looked wonderful, great performance from Florence Pugh but ultimately felt quite under cooked. 

Also not a big fan of Oldboy really. I seem to have some trouble with Korean films which I don't really have with Japanese or Indian films. Apart from Parasite (and genre outings like Train to Busan and Kingdom), I don't think I ever jumped fully on the bandwagon for any of the acclaimed films they have turned out.  Still, I have quite some stuff left to sample so perhaps I'll find my magic mix.

 

EDIT: IMDB not IMDN   

Edited by Veltigar

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While I quite enjoyed The Handmaiden, and thought some aspects were superlative, I do admit that the level of critical praise I had heard going into it did not quite match my impression of the film, however. I feel the same way about Parasite, to be honest. Lots of very good qualities and deserving of its awards given the fact that it was a relatively weak year, but is it a film for the ages in the way some critics suggested it was? Eh...

As far as voyeurism goes, I feel like given the perversity of the film's plot that it would be strange if it wasn't voyeuristic. If anything, it held back from where it could have gone. Instead of Portrait of a Lady on Fire (glorious, perfect film!), think Blue is the Warmest Color (which was awarded the Palme d'Or not only for the director, but the lead actresses as well, which I don't think has ever been done before or since).

Very interested in seeing Nomadland

Edited by Ran

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Oldboy might be a case of me giving a movie too high praise simply because it’s foreign and I read too much into it and dismissed some of its flaws.

Thinking back on it, there are quite a few elements to it that are just really silly, I mean apart from just the whole plot being over the top insanity. I didn’t get very far with Spike Lee’s version so I think that kind of answers my question.

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@Martini Sigil The other thread is locked but thanks for reminding me that 3 seasons of Get Shorty are on Amazon Prime (US). I've been burning through the second season at a pretty fast clip and am on the season finale.

Highly recommended dramady, like Fargo in that it pays respect to the movie without directly involving any of the characters or movie storylines and having a Coen brothers vibe to it with perhaps a bit less humor. The show is about an organized crime enforcer, Miles Daly, looking to leave criminality in order to be with his wife and daughter via production of a movie and has to juggle his personal life, his criminal life and the challenges and pitfalls of producing a movie in Hollywood. Among others, Sean Bridgers (Johnny from Deadwood) plays fellow enforcer and friend to Miles, and Ray Romano also stars as an innocent director inadvertently and comedically mixed up in the whole ordeal. Pretty sure I'm going to roll right through Season 2 and into Season 3.

 

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Finished all 6 episodes of Can't Get you Out of my Head the documentary series by Adam Curtis. I was a little hesistant on it after the first couple of episodes, simply due to Curtis' nature of simply throwing random stories at you and trying to link them together with his narration. Having said that by the end of all the episodes I fell back in love with it and his style. 

It's a fantastic reading of society, of the constant tension between collectivism and individualism over the past few decades, of how revolutions start and fail, of how human behaviour can and cannot be controlled by societies, and how the science and politcal thought has changed over time. Everything in his documentaries is usually about "and then something nobody expected happened, which changed everything", and it's no different here, chaos theory is mentioned and there is a sort of hopelessness to the idea that you can create a better society, even though people have been trying.

Of course his style hasn't changed, and there are moments where you realise he has seriously simplified stories and put his spin on quite complex events. I used to take everything he said as truth, but now I realise it's better to try and delve deeper into some of the stories he tells because usually they are not as black and white as he makes out.

But the point of his work is that it's almost like an abstract blanket of narrative, he's trying to create a unifying story of the world, tying stories together, and a lot of his work is about the stories we tell ourselves to understand the world. So it isn't surprising if there is a lot of simplification, because we are all constantly simplfing the world around us to make sense of things.

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On 2/22/2021 at 3:20 PM, Daeron the Daring said:

So I just watched Kingdom of Heaven (Director's cut) on the weekend, and it's just one of my favorites, still. I recommend it. Anyone have seen the extended cut already?

Watching the director's cut has been on my to do list for about ten years now.

Just moved into a new house and with no proper TV set up the first couple of nights, we watched a few X Files eps from the DVD box set. Accidentally watched a couple of the mythology episodes - could just be our exhaustion and fatigue but found them not very enjoyable. Of course we watched both Tooms episodes first. Then another couple of monster of the week episodes. There's a big fuzz of nostalgia around the show for me, but has it aged well? Still can't get over Scully chasing dangerous criminals wearing stupid high heels. She could've just worn heeled boots that she could believably run in. 

I'd probably have to watch the first couple of seasons in full to comment but I have a suspicion that the Mulder-Scully interactions are going to verge on creepy when viewed from today's lens. The episode where Scully's father died and Mulder takes hold of her face and strokes it gave us both major shudders. You just wouldn't touch a colleague that way! It's super grim. Unless you were actually a couple, I guess. 

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I got Netflix and tried out some series.

Bridgerton - I watched most of episode one but it looks like its romance. I got bored so I didn't watch the rest. The dresses are weird. Empire cut dresses are cut below the boobs. Bridgerton had them across the middle of the bust line which was deeply unflattering.

I was also turned off by the tight-lacing scene. I'm sure people who actually read or watch a lot of dramas set in the Regency period know that stays were not tight-laced. Look at what Regency dresses look like! They do not emphasize the waist, therefore, a smaller waist wasn't important. You know who would have tigh-laced their corsets back then? Men!

I did enjoy the race-blind casting.

The Big Day - It was more boring than I thought it should be. Then again, I do appreciate the lack of drama. I've only watched one episode. Loved the scene in the mustard field with the parents. 

Love, Death, & Robots - This is what I'm watching right now. Good stuff though some episodes are stronger than others, of course. The Witness was incredibly lame and pointless. When the Yogurt Took Over was hilarious.

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16 minutes ago, Lin Meili said:

The Witness was incredibly lame and pointless

If you're interested, here is the thread we had for the show when it launched. Mileage may vary, but I think there was actually a thematic point in the narrative in "The Witness" -- discussed by Alberto Mielgo, the creator and producer of the episode, in a bit quoted here -- that might be worth considering.

Also, just from a pure technical perspective, it's easily the most impressive piece of animation in the whole of the anthology, with a number of award wins for Mielgo and "The Witness" which were voted on by peers in the animation field. So even if the actual intent of the story is uninteresting, the accomplishment on the visual side is hard to deny. 

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1 hour ago, Ran said:

If you're interested, here is the thread we had for the show when it launched. Mileage may vary, but I think there was actually a thematic point in the narrative in "The Witness" -- discussed by Alberto Mielgo, the creator and producer of the episode, in a bit quoted here -- that might be worth considering.

Also, just from a pure technical perspective, it's easily the most impressive piece of animation in the whole of the anthology, with a number of award wins for Mielgo and "The Witness" which were voted on by peers in the animation field. So even if the actual intent of the story is uninteresting, the accomplishment on the visual side is hard to deny. 

Thanks, I'll read the thread.

Visually it was good, but I'm not keen on watching something just for the visuals. I do get why other people would like it but it's just not for me.

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Watched The Flight Attendant over the weekend. It wasn't bad but it didn't draw me in either. I like what they did with a couple characters, traits that are generally saved for men were given to female characters and that felt fresh and new.

Spoiler

I'd say the best part was the relationship between brother and sister and how each viewed their childhood differently and it slowly unraveling.

Some of the twists were given away but all in all worth a watch if only because it's 8 episodes long and easy enough to get through.

Edited by dbunting
Wrong title of show, and I'm not drunk!

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On 2/22/2021 at 11:50 AM, Daeron the Daring said:

So I just watched Kingdom of Heaven (Director's cut) on the weekend, and it's just one of my favorites, still. I recommend it. Anyone have seen the extended cut already?

I saw it years ago and it was a remarkable improvement over the disjointed theatrical cut. Due for a rewatch at this point. 

1 hour ago, dbunting said:

Watched The Stewardess over the weekend. It wasn't bad but it didn't draw me in either. I like what they did with a couple characters, traits that are generally saved for men were given to female characters and that felt fresh and new.

  Hide contents

I'd say the best part was the relationship between brother and sister and how each viewed their childhood differently and it slowly unraveling.

Some of the twists were given away but all in all worth a watch if only because it's 8 episodes long and easy enough to get through.

Wait, do you mean The Flight Attendant with Kaley Cuoco? I thought it was so fun! And I loved the Catch Me If You Can style (or Archer-style?) intro. 

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1 hour ago, Aemon Stark said:

Wait, do you mean The Flight Attendant with Kaley Cuoco? I thought it was so fun! And I loved the Catch Me If You Can style (or Archer-style?) intro. 

It seems to be called the Stewardess in Europe, or at least the version I watched was called that too. Make what you will of that.

I enjoyed it too. Some of the plotting was very trashy but the relationships between the characters was well drawn. And great performances from Cuoco, Gomez and Mamet.

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4 hours ago, Aemon Stark said:

I saw it years ago and it was a remarkable improvement over the disjointed theatrical cut. Due for a rewatch at this point. 

Wait, do you mean The Flight Attendant with Kaley Cuoco? I thought it was so fun! And I loved the Catch Me If You Can style (or Archer-style?) intro. 

Yeah crap! 

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Been watching The Fall featuring Gillian Anderson and that 50 Shades bloke. 
 

Something has happened to me because I really dislike it for some reason. I’m very angry at the thought of a serial killer with kids, like what irresponsible parenting! 
 

Other than that, it’s just not a remarkable show in any way. Feels very BBC, low budget, unexceptional script and direction. But at the very least there were some familiar GoT faces in there.

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2 hours ago, Heartofice said:

Been watching The Fall featuring Gillian Anderson and that 50 Shades bloke. 
 

Something has happened to me because I really dislike it for some reason. I’m very angry at the thought of a serial killer with kids, like what irresponsible parenting! 
 

Other than that, it’s just not a remarkable show in any way. Feels very BBC, low budget, unexceptional script and direction. But at the very least there were some familiar GoT faces in there.

Watched first two seasons, never bothered with the third.

Currently watching Bloodlands, starring James Nesbitt, also set in Northern Ireland. Seen first of four episodes so far and seems good.

Seen first two eps of ZeroZeroZero which is pretty good.

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Argh, The Fall. Damn that show. 

So I am a dead ringer (puns!) for Paul Spector. Note, not buff, tan Christian Grey from the 50 Shades tripe. The gaunt, cropped-bearded, dead-eyes psycho from the show. So for years working Irish pubs, every couple months, an Irish tourist would inform me that I quite remind them of Paul Spector. Not "You look like that movie star Jamie Dornan", but "You look like that awful murderer in a TV show". I managed the first season, and it was well-done, but I can't be bothered to watch a character that looks strikingly like me do terrible things. 

I'm pretty far into Bosch and still enjoying it, though I frankly think it has suffered some issues the last season or so. Some actors are as strong as ever, but other scenes are so corny that it borders on parody. I found myself laughing out loud last night at a particular scene with atrocious dialogue. One newer addition to the cast I find nearly unwatchable, either due to poor dialogue or the actor's own poor performance. That said, it still has some great moments and an engaging plot. I appreciate that I haven't figured things out halfway through seasons, as they also mostly avoid asinine or unnecessary plot twists for the sake of twists. And though that one person is terrible, the show consistently features side characters who are very well done in their limited appearances.

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