What Movie Have You Seen Today?

The 10 best films I saw in 2023 (in no order). Only one is from that year.

The Boy and the Heron (2023, Hayao Miyazaki). Studio Ghibli’s latest film (and Miyazaki’s last), cut from the same heartfelt, trippy cloth as Spirited Away.

When the Clouds Roll By (1919, Victor Fleming). Winning, sometimes surreal action-comedy, starring Douglas Fairbanks, creator of the action hero and a definite influence on Bond (see the reference in YOLT!).

The Chips Are Down (Les jeux sont faits, 1947, Jean Delannoy). Fascinating existential study of second chances and bad faith, with a screenplay by Jean Paul-Sartre.

Le silence est d’or (1947, René Clair). A loving tribute to the early days of film-making, starring Maurice Chevalier in what might be his greatest performance.

The Life of Oharu (Saikaku ichidai onna, 1952, Kenji Mizoguchi). The life of a concubine, “from the penthouse to the outhouse” as they’d say down south. Brutal yet beautiful.

Up in Mabel’s Room (1926, E. Mason Hopper). Who knew a bedroom farce could work so well in a silent movie? Starring the saucy Marie Prevost.

Sylvia and the Ghost (Sylvie et le fantôme, 1946, Claude Autant-Lara). Exquisitely light and charming tale of ghosts, young love, and big parties.

Hôtel du Nord (1938, Marcel Carné). Deliciously moody slice of “poetic realism.”

Hell’s Heroes (1929, William Wyler). Sweaty, dynamic and hairy-chested retelling of the old Three Godfathers story.

Pêcheur d’Islande (1924, Jacques de Baroncelli). Gorgeous, poetic tale of a Breton fishermen caught between his true love and the seductive, fatal embrace of the sea.

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Sublime. I can never tire of it.

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Mission Impossible, the latest one.

Felt very ponderous and padded out.

You wanted to know that.

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Alien (1979)

I always go back to this one every few years (this time prompted by playing through the excellent Alien: Isolation game). I’ve always liked it more than the far-more action oriented Aliens. The claustrophobic halls of the Nostromo along with the terrifying xenomorph make for a great adventure. Sigourney Weaver is excellent as Ripley (and even reprised the role for the aforementioned game). Also Jonesy.

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You know what’s funny - I purchased this maybe around the end of October from iTunes and it occurred to me today that I still haven’t bothered to watch it.

That would never happen with a Bond film.

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I can assure you, just having watched it a couple of nights ago, you’re not missing out on anything.

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Unfortunately, I have to agree as well. The film was okay, but not of the usual quality of MI films.

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I did finally watch Mission Impossible last night.

I wouldn’t know where to start writing a review. I had the same feeling after watching Jason Bourne - it was fine, but it was just so similar to what had come before that I was numb to it all. There was no sense of surprise, of discovery, of thrill. I’ve already seen all their tricks.

My main problem was they had 1 hour and 43 minutes worth of story that they stretched into 2 hours 43 mins. There was so much fat in here that needed to be trimmed. Not even whole scenes, but the content within scenes. The whole thing just felt like they were in no rush to get anywhere.

A fault of modern spy movies today is instead of showing actual spy work they just have characters talk about being spies (easier to write in a crunch?). This had that in spades.

I also felt that it was the worst directing job McQuarrie’s ever done. Not the worst movie, but the worst directing job.

Bring on Part 2, but let’s also put this to bed…

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Easily.

It was a terribly directed and written film and, honestly, it wasn’t that great in the acting department either. Just flat all around.

One of the fun things about the M:I films prior to McQuarrie’s joining the franchise was that each film felt different because it had a different director at the helm. They need to return to that. The value of McQuarrie’s contribution to the franchise has reached it’s sell by date, I’m afraid.

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McQuarrie is an excellent writer and director, but the constant rewriting and production troubles during the first year of COVID-19 definitely took a major toll on this film. One can assume that the story was supposed to be very different, and that it all had to be adjusted again and again, resulting in a very episodic quilt.

The main idea to stretch the story out into two movies, one might also assume, however, was always not working.

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In reading Becoming Bond, John Logan wrote SP and NTTD as originally a two part story. While the idea to connect the two movies is still there, I’m glad EON decided to focus on one movie at a time. Especially since both productions, were so chaotic. Also, one of the Bond stories would have been called The Death Collector. I’m still interested in MIDR Part 2, but like others have said, it should avoid being as long as Part 1.

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There’s a moment when Ving Rhames basically just announces to the audience that he’s not going to be in the rest of the film. I couldn’t help but think that something was going on behind the scenes with Covid delays and rewrites that necessitated that…

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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

I was skeptical of this film, mainly due to Harrison Ford’s age and Disney’s rather poor track record with Lucasfilm. For the most part, I really enjoyed this movie. If you take off your nostalgia goggles, it’s still Indy and still Harrison Ford (my favorite actor). The story is pretty strong. Mads Mikkelson turns in another charismatic villain performance. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is excellent as Indy’s goddaughter. The opening sequence on the train is one of the best action sequences in the franchise. Overall, not the greatest, but fun nonetheless.

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No One Will Save You (2023)
Kaitlyn Dever
dir. Brian Duffield

As they did with Clock earlier, Hulu has found themselves a nice little niche in the B-movie horror genre. No One Will Save You borrows from the Clock playbook, where a former TV star turned indie actress in Dianna Agron took a B-movie horror film on her shoulders and elevated it, the filmmakers behind this film attracted indie star Kaitlyn Dever to what is, on paper, a pretty unspectacular film, and she elevates it above what it should be.

*No One Will Save You" is an alien invasion movie that disguises itself as a home invasion thriller. The trailers for the film sell you a film that feels something like The Strangers but with an unknown supernatural or paranormal twist to it. The film itself, however, dispenses with that notion right away and reveals its antagonist(s) quite early on in the proceedings, rendering their identities a complete non spoiler.

The film follows a young woman named Brynn, who has something in her past that has caused the small town she lives in to totally shut her off. We learn more about this as the film progresses, and Dever does a very good job of conveying the weight that this has placed on her character’s shoulders throughout the film, especially as we get more revelations about what exactly it is that she has done.

What makes this performance even more compelling is that the film is almost completely void of dialogue. I can count the number of words that are said in this film on one hand and still have some fingers left over, but this is something that does not feel like a gimmick that the film is attempting to pull off, but rather feels organic to its story. There’s not much need for verbal communication since the film is carried for long stretches solely by Dever.

The film does fall apart a bit when we start dealing with the film’s extraterrestrial antagonists. The film’s most effective moment happens prior to the reveal of the aliens, when Brynn believes that this is a simple home invasion. The first moments when she realizes that there is something wrong are easily the most effective and tense moments in the entire film, and Dever does a stellar job of conveying Brynn’s fear to the audience. From there, however, the film because more of a chase movie with Brynn trying to stay one step ahead of the invaders and begins to fight back against. them. This stretch of the film is entertaining and is a solid achievement for a streaming service like Hulu that is starting to finds its niche with these types of low-budget horror films, but it unfortunately pales in comparison to those opening moments where the tension felt much, much higher.

No One Will Save You, however, completely falls apart at the end, when the resolution of multiple plot threads coalesce in a way that makes little to no sense and is in absolutely no way earned by the rest of the film. The ending takes away quite a bit from the rest of the film which hits some really good heights and is overall a solid, if somewhat unspectacular genre film.

Still, the main thing that you are coming to this film for is Dever’s performance. She’s excellent, carrying this film further on her shoulders than it has any right to be taken and further than many other actresses could take it as well.

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Killers of the flower moon

A story worth telling, a legendary director working with some of his favorite actors.

But I stopped at the one hour mark because I was not invested. The idea that two and a half hours were still to go was just too much.

Is it a lack of patience - or did Scorsese just not choose to tell the story in a more effective way. In the first hour there were so many moments that for my feeling dragged on. A studio was missing that would have said: edit it down to two hours.

Epics need more time? Maybe. But the changing perspectives of the film might indicate an indecisiveness what really should be told. I read that Scorsese completely revised the original script. Maybe that’s the problem for me. He wanted too much, and he could do it because he had so much money at his disposal.

The reviews and nominations seem to scream: masterpiece.

But I get the feeling that it’s the worthy theme and the name Scorsese which get the attention.

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I agree with you. While I finished it, it is NOT Scorsese’s best or anywhere near it. I find Scorsese a bit of a hypocrite. He wants people to go to the cinema, then he gives us a bloated runtime. Lily Gladstone will win the Best Actress Oscar. While she was good, it feels like a WOKE win. All in all, I liked it, but it is not everyone’s best work.

Sorry, but woke is such a trite and useless label, used usually by Trumpets who think every social change should be stopped.

What’s “woke” about Gladstone’s work? The fact of her ethnicity? C´mon. Scorsese’s movie has garnered lots of awards attention, so many voters will go for it. And Gladstone is a newcomer showing her talent in a Scorsese movie, so she is a front runner.

No award is only given due to actual accomplishment. It´s always about popularity, driven by the campaigns.

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I think he chose to tell it in a way that was an evolution for him. The surrounding narrative is again the story of a failed/failing Scorsese male–played once more by Leonardo DiCaprio.

But for the first time, the Scorsese hero is dumb. Often in previous films, he was not the brightest, but in this case, Ernest is just dumb (I have seen only one other critic pick up on this shift). So there is little reason to be invested in Ernest, since he is more the subject of strong forces, rather than author of his actions.

This approach allows Scorsese to devote a portion of the film’s narrative to the Indigenous characters. He cannot do this as effectively/completely as he does with his male characters–they are, after all, his cinematic bread-and-butter. But the combination results in a larger/more diffuse film–denying a viewer the usual identification points they are used to being served. KOTFM is his most thoroughgoing systems film. He began to explore this approach with SHUTTER ISLAND, continued with SILENCE and THE IRISHMAN, and here goes further than ever before (and possibly reaches a limit for him).

This fusing of two narrative centers can probably strike a view the way SAF suggests:

or as “bloat,” as @MaxZorin notes.

I think Scorsese wanted to tell both stories–the Scorsese male narrative, which he has been doing/refining for decades, and a narrative that centered the experiences of the Osage people, and does not make then spectators to their own stories. This bifurcation can probably come off as indecision/bloat, especially since the Ernest narrative is such a passive one. What pulls it together for me, is the radio drama at the end, where Scorsese takes the role of producer. The filmmaker himself acknowledges the choices he has made, and those made by creators in the past, and how they affected representation and reception. Scorsese then concludes the movie with the overhead shot of an Osage dancing circle, giving the film over to the Osage, to carry on with their own acts of storytelling.

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I always welcome your interpretation which is so much more sensible than my instant like or dislike.

I have seen the whole film now but still I don’t connect. My problems with it remained. I do see your points, and they are valid and intelligent.

But I have this love/hate relationship with Scorsese, going back and forth on him.

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There’s not much I can add about Killers that has not already so eloquently been said but I will say this - I enjoyed the movie very much but also left feeling that Scorsese wasn’t the best fit for the material.

Fun fact about his cameo at the end - it was filmed at his former high school.

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