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My MIFF 2013

August 17, 2013

I attended 19 actual screenings (bolded), 1 of which was a pairing of two shorts bordering on featurettes (italicised). That’s half the number I saw in 2012. The greyed out entries are those that played at MIFF this year but which I saw externally. Sorry for the lack of comments. The ranking:

  1. A Touch of Sin (2013, Jia)
  2. Stranger By the Lake (2013, Guiraudie)
  3. Passion (2012, De Palma)
  4. The Dance of Reality (2013, Jodorowsky)
  5. Computer Chess (2013, Bujalski)
  6. Everybody in Our Family (2012, Jude)
  7. Bastards (2013, Denis) I wrote a review here
  8. The Act of Killing (2012, Oppenheimer)
  9. Starlet (2012, Baker)
  10. Paradise: Faith (2012, Seidl)
  11. Omar (2013, Abu-Assad)
  12. Tip Top (2013, Bozon)
  13. Museum Hours (2012, Cohen)
  14. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (2013, Côté)
  15. The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012, Rodrigues & da Mata)
  16. Viola (2012, Piñeiro)
  17. Stories We Tell (2012, Polley)
  18. Tiger Tail in Blue (2012, Ross)
  19. Leviathan (2012, Castaing-Taylor & Paravel)
  20. Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (2013, Hong)
  21. Manuscripts Don’t Burn (2013, Rasoulof)
  22. A Field in England (2013, Wheatley)
  23. Gloria (2013, Lelio)
  24. Lesson of the Evil (2013, Miike)
  25. 3x3D (2013, Greenaway/Godard/Pêra)
  26. The Capsule (2012, Tsangari)
  27. Drinking Buddies (2013, Swanberg)
  28. The Past (2013, Farhadi)
  29. The Missing Picture (2013, Panh)
  30. Oh Boy (2012, Gerster)
  31. Cutie and the Boxer (2013, Heinzerling)
  32. Closed Curtain (2013, Panahi)
  33. Harmony Lessons (2013, Baigazin)
  34. Magic Magic (2013, Silva)
  35. Ginger & Rosa (2012, Potter)
  36. differently, Molussia (2012, Rey)
  37. Child’s Pose (2013, Netzer)
  38. East Hastings Pharmacy (2012, Bourges)
  39. In a World… (2013, Bell)
  40. Upstream Color (2013, Carruth)
  41. Prince Avalanche (2013, Green)
  42. A Werewolf Boy (2012, Jo)
  43. Blue Ruin (2013, Saulnier)
  44. Gebo and the Shadow (2012, Oliveira)
  45. Blancanieves (2012, Berger)
  46. Rhino Season (2012, Ghobadi)
  47. V/H/S/2 (2013, various)
  48. Stoker (2013, Park)
  49. Ilo Ilo (2013, Chen)
  50. Outrage Beyond (2012, Kitano)

I have not included the retro titles that I have previously seen, nor Paradise: Love which first played at MIFF last year.


My May ’13 in Film

June 1, 2013


  1. Applause (Mamoulian)
  2. Great Day in the Morning (Tourneur)
  3. A Hero Never Dies (To)
  4. The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (Renoir)
  5. The Big Combo (Lewis)
  6. Only the Young (Mims/Tippet)
  7. Spring Breakers (Korine)
  8. Our Father (Haroun)
  9. Take Care of My Cat (Jeong)
  10. Murder a la Mod (De Palma)
  11. The Bed Sitting Room (Lester)
  12. The Act of Killing (Oppenheimer)
  13. Star Trek Into Darkness (Abrams)
  14. Bound (Wachowskis)
  15. Afternoon (Schanelec)
  16. Cabin in the Sky (Minnelli)
  17. Xiao Wu (Jia)
  18. Seconds (Frankenheimer)
  19. Angel Heart (Parker)
  20. City That Never Sleeps (Auer)

Best rewatch: White Nights (Visconti)


Pakula in Soderbergh

May 6, 2013

Klute (Pakula)


Solaris (Soderbergh)


The Parallax View (Pakula)


Solaris (Soderbergh)


The Best 21st Century Musicals

January 31, 2013

This is more or less in reaction to the Hollywood-only myopia of Best Musicals lists, which universally include such masterpieces as Dreamgirls and Hairspray. This century’s film musical output is very dire indeed, but appears significantly worse by way of said online lists. The truth is the musical refracted into various other genres or else remnants of the traditional form pop up in otherwise non-musical films (Zatoichi, Damsels in Distress, etc) as whimsical interludes. However, I have not included what IMDb classifies as “music” films, or else we’d have a significantly stronger list (think Linda Linda Linda and Ne Change Rien!), nor dance-only pictures -which would make a swell list on their own. I would love recommendations. Jury’s out on Dancer in the Dark, perhaps I should have revisited it. Tim Burton’s pair are pretty good from memory. The list is ordered more by how much I admire the film as a film rather than strictly as a musical.

12. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (Chazelle)

11. Winnie the Pooh (Anderson/Hall)

10. 8 Women (Ozon)

9. Princess Raccoon (Suzuki)

8. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai)

7. Opera Jawa (Nugroho)

6. Not on the Lips (Resnais)

5. Yellow (Peterson) Review

4. Moulin Rouge! (Luhrmann)

3. La France (Bozon)

2. Happy Feet Two (Miller)

1. For Love’s Sake (Miike) See also: The Happiness of the Katakuris


My Best First-Time Viewings of 2012

January 4, 2013

With a total of 834 film viewings (longer shorts included, but most not) in 2012, this is surely my most prolific year as a cinephile, and naturally it makes a wrap-up piece a daunting exercise filled with the disappointments that comes with being unable to mention all those little gems and habits, the finer points of my cinematic intake. Thus, I will lazily link to my various monthly recaps, of which there were ten, after the final list.

Things I learned about my taste in 2012: comedy good; dry comedies are often the most moving of films; vulgar auteurism good; shorts can indeed be great; 3D is beautiful; dance is everything.

Not including current-decade premieres, here are the finest I saw this year, with tie cheating:

(hover over for titles, click for IMDb)









Read the rest of this entry ?


Predicting My 2013 Favourites

December 7, 2012

The Grandmaster

This is just a small experiment in how well I know my own “taste”. Naturally at this stage I’m ignorant of many films that will premiere in 2013, so it’s sure to be mostly inaccurate come 2014 or so.

  1. Tip Top (Bozon)
  2. Lowlife (Gray)
  3. Blind Detective (To)
  4. Ninja II (Florentine)
  5. Before Midnight (Linklater)
  6. Sunset Song (Davies)
    –or A Quiet Passion, if either actually drop in 2013
  7. Hard to Be a God aka The Story of the Arcanar Massacre (German)
  8. Gravity (Cuarón)
  9. Snowpiercer (Bong)
  10. Nobody’s Daughter Haewon or another Hong or another again or all tied (Hong)
  11. Voyage of Time and/or Knight of Cups (Malick)
  12. Paradise: Hope (Seidl)
  13. Top of the Lake (Campion, TV)
  14. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jarmusch)
  15. I Used to Be Darker (Porterfield)
  16. Under the Skin (Glazer)
  17. Side Effects (Soderbergh)
  18. Squirrel to the Nuts (Bogdanovich)
  19. Goodbye to Language 3D (Godard)
  20. The Grandmaster (Wong)
  21. The Sacrament (West)
  22. Camille Claudel, 1915 (Dumont) *

Side Effects


Allegorised Sexual Discovery in Tentpole Blockbusters?

July 15, 2012

The teenage me might have been too naive to notice this cheeky moment in Sam Raimi’s terrific Spider-Man (2002), despite being, well, the right age. It actually struck me in the scene on the rooftop as Pete tests his web-spray gesture, a sliver of web shoots out from somewhere just below the camera lens to his surprise. Naturally he has too much fun with his new bodily discovery in a subsequent scene, leaving his room a mess of sticky web streams. Aunt May knows. She knows.

Cheekier still, Alfonso Cuarón would extend the teen sexuality of Y Tu Mamá También (2001) to mature Christopher Columbus’ unwatchable Harry Potter franchise, the very opening scene features Harry playing with his wand under his bedsheet at night, intermittently interrupted by his uncle causing Harry to pretend he’s asleep.

Before we actually see the wand and school book, we hear Harry desperately attempting a spell “Lumos Maxima“. Eventually he succeeds, and as with Peter Parker, his white stuff fills the room. In fact, it flies right at the viewer’s face! What an insufferably intellectual post this is.

Another sly if more reverent moment in a massive blockbuster of the time, again by an auteur (if a much less interesting/talented one), Bryan Singer’s X-Men 2 (2003) contains a coming-out-as-mutant sequence clearly momentous for the gay director. The above Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) similarly allegorises closeted suffering with its werewolf teacher; indeed a cabinet figures as the home of suppressed fear.

Are there others?