1965 | USA | 104m
There are some interesting thematic ideas particularly around Agnes’ (Patricia Gozzi) state of mind, her coming-of-age and her relationships with Karen and her father, but they are never fully realised. This is mostly due to Gozzi not being quite a strong enough actress to fully bring the potential complexities of this character to life, nor to make her sympathetic or likable. Despite being a bit hammy, Dean Stockwell as Joseph is a highlight, though he isn’t quite mysterious and intriguing enough. The lack of chemistry and relationship development between Agnes and Joseph also makes it difficult to believe. It is often overly melodramatic, with a weak script, and has some awful music choices, but is still somewhat decent.
1975 | USA | 167m
An interesting, and often frustrating, look at the welfare system in the USA in the 1970s. We see various people and their struggles–from the homeless (or about to be), the unemployed, the elderly, the sick (mentally and physically), as well as the welfare workers dealing with their job, trying to explain the system to people and putting up with (or refusing to deal with) unruly and unhappy customers. This is fairly long but it never feels like a drag and is never boring, but it is also never completely gripping. It is also not clear what the intentions of the documentary were as we mostly only see the most unsympathetic people looking for assistance and, while it does a good job at showing a problematic system, it feels like there many aspects not being shown making it difficult to comprehend the full picture.
Final Cut: Hölgyeim és uraim
2012 | Hungary | 84m
Comedy, Drama, Romance
A really interesting experiment, like a feature long example of the Kuleshov effect and the power of juxtaposition to tell a story and elicit an emotion. Telling the classic Hollywood romance story by using a few seconds of hundreds of films across many different genres, countries, and eras, it’s fascinating to see the many cliches that we’re familiar with but also the uniqueness of every individual film. Having seen about 75% of the films used, it was a lot of fun to find my favourites (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest! From Dusk Till Dawn! Pet Sematary!) and to have a giggle at how scenes have been used completely out of context. It did start to get old after the first thirty minutes (peaking at the wonderful sex montage), however, and the rest of the film was a bit of a slog. However, it is a beautiful love letter to cinema and something most cinephiles will get a kick out of.
2016 | Switzerland | 94m
Being a massive fan of ‘abandoned porn’, this was immediately appealing to me. There are some beautiful images in here (some of my favourites included the office with the books strewn over the floor, and the rollercoaster in the sea) and an eerie human absence in every shot. However, the film mainly feels like a slideshow of images and there is not enough cohesiveness or context to make it completely engaging. At the same time, the total lack of human intervention–the camera is still, there is no soundtrack, there are no subtitles, there is no narration, there is no obvious/fancy editing–provides an intriguing experience.
1963 | USA | 82m
A fairly quiet and restrained film that manages to maintain a good sense of unease and uncertainty throughout. There is no overly melodramatic or overbearing score, though there are some melodramatic and heavy-handed moments–when the kids were all voting ‘no’ to war and they wistfully ask ‘who’s going to ask us’ was pretty cringey. However, there are some really nice moments of the kids slowly walking home as everyone deals with the possibility of impending doom whilst also planning out what they’re going to do tomorrow. The child actors are also quite good, and even the weaker ones still do a decent job. Unfortunately, the most interesting characters to me were the principal and the teachers waiting back at the school and that was what I most wanted to see.
The Last of Sheila
1973 | USA | 120m
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
I’m not sure why this isn’t labelled as a comedy on IMDb, because this was a very funny and entertaining whodunnit mystery type of thing. The cast was great, all portraying fairly unlikable and flawed people but they bring so much life and humour to each of them (except for Raquel Welch’s Alice who is pretty flat but the character still adds something). Dyan Cannon and James Coburn are particular stand-outs; the former has some great one-liners and the latter is just great at being a dick. Its biggest flaw is that it’s not a super tight film. It’s never boring, the script is good and the mystery is fun, but it’s never enthralling.
Dying at Grace
2003 | Canada | 127m
An unflinching glimpse into the final days/weeks of five terminally ill cancer patients. There is a clinical, yet respectful, tone showing death as it is; no romanticism or sentimentality. We watch nurses making phone calls informing loved ones of their passing, we watch the nurses daily updates of each patient’s condition and medication, and we watch the day-to-day of the hospital lives of the patients. Most notably, we witness the shockingly rapid decline of these people. One of the subjects is going out planning on moving out to a new apartment and then suddenly she is withering away barely able to move or breathe. The ‘death rattle’ has to be one of the most horrifying sounds. While the film opts for a more realistic, observational and ‘flat’ approach, it is difficult to watch at times and some tears were shed.