The Films of 2020

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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Re: The Films of 2020

#76 Post by soundchaser » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:45 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:53 pm
Yes, God, Yes was a surprisingly sensitive portrayal of emerging adulthood within a bubble that doesn't reinforce typical sexual development but still retains the other universal social maladies that don't discriminate during those formative years.
I liked this film quite a bit, though I really, really wish it trusted its audience more. It operates in this weird gray area of hoary clichés and genuinely surprising humanism — although maybe the fact that in high school I went on (and led!!) similar retreats to the one presented here means I knew a few of the things that had to be spelled out for those who might not. But wow, Natalia Dyer is *excellent,* and everything in the last twenty minutes is worth the previous missteps (numerous though they may be).
Last edited by soundchaser on Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#77 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:01 pm

Yeah the film never strays into any territory that would make it stand out loudly but I admired the surprisingly gentle path it took, even if that meant less risks that could have spelled greatness.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#78 Post by Wowee Zowee » Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:26 am

The Nest (Sean Durkin)

I have been eagerly awaiting Durkin's return to feature length films since his 2011 debut "Martha Marcy May Marlene", which caught me completely off guard in it's non-linear unvieling of psychological terror and isolation. Now, after the longest absence of a theater going experience in my life, I happily returned to the empty Landmark to watch his quiet, equally brilliant second feature.

The film is told mainly from the point of view of Allison, played to icy perfection by Carrie Coon, who is the wife of a 1980s businessman and mother of two. Near the beginning, her husband (played brilliantly by Jude Law) presents an "opportunity" for the family to leave the United States and move to his home country of Britain, where a lucrative job awaits. But like Durkin's first film, nothing is really as it seems, and the layers of marital deception are slowly peeled away over the course of the film. Where "MMMM" had a non-linear structure to creepily reveal the effects of PTSD and the origin of our title character, here, everything is linear as we slowly get a picture of what kind of man Jude Law's Rory is, and the world he has created for his wife and children. Through small actions (like two family photographs), little lines of dialogue, or even a brief soccer match in the beginning ... we start to realize like Allison the charade going on around her. Durkin does some nice things with close-ups, particularlity with Coon, that help establish her character as a reluctant, manipulated victim who slowly starts taking control of her own life. And Law's general charm and charisma are perfect for this "Greed is good" type of character.

Durkin does some nice things behind the camera to create a sense of unease. The film almost feels like a horror, with ultra slow zooms, autumn-esque cinematography (that also captures the time period quite well), and an almost atonal music score. The country estate where the family settles is perfectly utilized, with it almost becoming it's own character commenting on the deceit within its walls. This film might be too quiet for some, and I can imagine it leaving most viewers with the sense of wanting more. I really liked this almsot chamber-piece/character study of a marriage, a family, caught up with the idea of success and the lies it creates. An interesting, slow burn of a movie that reminds me of films from decades ago. Like his first film, I am sure it will reward on a rewatch.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#79 Post by Nasir007 » Sun Sep 27, 2020 8:23 pm

Enola Holmes

A YA movie on Netflix. Don't quite know why I saw it but it is nice enough. I do think it takes forever to get going, the "adventure" doesn't start until about 20 minutes in. I think that's a huge mistake. The young count is the main plot basically and the start of that plot coincides with the start of the adventure, so again, your main plot doesn't start until 20 mins in.

But once it does start, it is pleasant enough. And the film is engaging in that it has many things going on - there are several subplots. There is the aforementioned young count plot, there is the disappearance and search for Enola's mother which seems like it will be the main plot initially but is discarded part way through, there is the impending reform bill, there is the suffragette movement, there is the story of her brothers and her coming-of-age and development of life purpose and of course the overarching feminist angle. The film juggles all these things rather well and mostly resolves them satisfactorily while also leaving room for a sequel.

This movie does for Brown what Brooklyn did for Ronan - turns her into a full blown leading lady fit to carry films. She's charismatic and you can definitely see a movie star in there. The design and photography are appealing.

I can't say I really cared for the post modern touches - there is constant voiceover, constant flashback, constant talking to the audience, constant diagrams etc. on screen and constant trivia - a la Lars von Trier in his last 2 films. It is harmless enough and lets Brown's personality shine through, but I think the movie might have worked without them as well though I could be mistaken. It does rely heavily on Brown' charm.

And finally, the film's most spectacular aspect might be the original score. I think it is rather memorable and works very well.

A good harmless family entertainment. I think the message is nice and should speak to young girls particularly. Better than the shit disney puts out for young girls.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#80 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Oct 17, 2020 12:47 pm

zedz wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:19 pm
IF I WERE THE WINTER ITSELF (Jazmin López, Argentina, 2020) – Amazing cinema that sounds oppressively academic on paper but is breathtaking on the screen. A group of people congregate in a vast run-down mansion in the middle of nowhere and set about filming reenactments of Godard’s La Chinoise, Ana Mendieta’s Untitled (Facial Hair Transplant) and Harun Farocki’s Inextinguishable Fire. Meantime, lead actress Carmen is haunted by a recently ended relationship and that distraction starts to infect the band’s quixotic project. Linear time begins to break down, and the cast seem to be reenacting their own lives as well as those classics of activist art. The whole thing unfolds in long, sensuous prowling tracking shots, and the elaborate choreography spins off into a couple of arresting dance sequences. It’s like a reflexive, slow cinema, architecture porn, musical ghost story.
I found this film more interesting than enjoyable, but it accrues energy that builds worlds on its ideas in an elliptical fashion, and I get the feeling that revisits will do it great justice. Essentially this is yet another broad-minded and brilliant Argentinian film, creating labyrinths of cerebral material that cannot contain the emotion within its walls, which inevitably cuts through and disintegrates the attempts at tangibility. Early on, two of the actors discuss how Godard’s film questioned the limitations of intellectualization in activism, and this film’s reflexivity seems born from the idea that the filmmaker can try her best to implement versatile arrangements to convey insight, but these tools of medium cannot adequately evoke the enigmatic emotions swimming around in the conflicting experience of true psychosocialspiritual dysregulation.

Here that example is post-breakup mourning, and the hypothetical phrasing of the title hints at the powerlessness to overcome the inherently nebulous direction in even beginning a formulation beyond obscurity. Or perhaps it’s the final surrender that grows to greater and vaguer signifiers, an exhausted attempt at seasonal metaphor that is eventually externalized into actuality, featuring another extreme attempt to achieve finality, and finally a return to the inability to escape the experience as soon as Carmen tries to sit with her own thoughts.

Resurrecting these artistic works of activism, and contextualizing their restrictiveness against an overwhelming reality-testing/destroying psychological state, helps redefine the constraints of our own activism in regards to our agency, as well as the subjective realities that are so saturating they highlight objectivity as superficial and leave those realities obsolete. The dance scene to the Ameno remix is the best moment in the film, and I wish there were a few more of these scenes, even if its inclusion as an isolated extravagance mirrors Portrait of a Lady on Fire's own musical impact due to its segregation.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#81 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:50 pm

Watched The Trip to Greece on Hulu last night. I guess this is going to be the last one. Each of the sequels to the original 2010 film feel a bit more safe and predictable than the first one did, funny and pleasant to take in with some more serious undertones here and there. Still got my fingers crossed that Criterion will do a big box set of the series as there's a lot more in what I've seen of it as a TV series compared to movies.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#82 Post by ianthemovie » Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:52 pm

I wonder if anyone else has seen Dean Kapsalis' The Swerve. Apparently it was made in 2018 but was only recently got a (streaming) release. It showed up on my radar because it has gotten a couple of rave reviews and so has something like a 90 on Metacritic. It sounds to be an intriguing and dark psychological thriller/horror movie. Can anyone speak to whether it's worth checking out?

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Re: The Films of 2020

#83 Post by senseabove » Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:19 pm

Apple has picked up Todd Haynes' Velvet Underground doc.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#84 Post by MichaelB » Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:41 am

Aunt Peg wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 6:46 am
I haven't seen Corpus Christi either. Did see a trailer at the cinema a couple of weeks ago but I've already got a Blu Ray on it's way to me.
I have now seen Corpus Christi, and the hype is amply justified: it's not just Jan Komasa's best film (and as far as I'm concerned he's yet to make a bad one, and I've seen all four features) but one of the most intelligent and absorbing dramas I've seen since Asghar Farhadi's A Separation - with which it shares a welcome fondness for complexity and nuance in its treatment of its major (and indeed minor) characters.

It reminded me in many ways of Paper Mask, a long-forgotten British film from 1990 in which a hospital porter managed, thanks to a series of coincidences, to get hired by another hospital as an actual doctor - although the crucial difference is that while Paper Mask focused exclusively on the deception and the suspense as to when he'll be unmasked (dramatically, a given) and was otherwise pretty thin gruel, Komasa and screenwriter Mateusz Pacewicz realise that while the core narrative structure of a parolee successfully pretending to be a priest (surprisingly, this has happened for real on more than one occasion) offers similar opportunities for constant suspense as to when he'll be exposed, they're much more interested in the real dramatic/psychological meat of this particular topic.

Which is to ask fundamental questions about what a priest is actually for, and whether a time-serving veteran who's dutifully ticked all the right boxes but is otherwise pretty much detached from his community except for the contractual minimum (Mass, confession, etc.) is intrinsically superior to someone whose track record as a petty criminal actively disqualifies him from the priesthood, but who would appear to have more natural talent in a single fingertip than his predecessor has in his entire body - and the entire community is visibly energised by his presence, not least because he actually starts doing what his predecessor only talked about, while grasping tricky diplomatic nettles that had been brushed under the carpet until his arrival.

I'd seen a couple of features with Bartosz Bielenia in supporting roles (he had a tiny part in Wojciech Smarzowski's scabrously score-settling Clergy, for instance), but nothing that signalled the power of his performance here - and Corpus Christi simply wouldn't work without a barnstormingly charismatic lead. And about halfway through I realised that the camera was barely moving aside from one tiny, almost imperceptible track into his face - when I give it a second viewing (and it's definitely "when", not "if"), I'll keep an eye out to see if the framing really is mostly static, because I suspect this may be a deliberate aesthetic choice on Komasa's part, as if to symbolise the rigidity of the system that the protagonist Daniel is fighting against.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#85 Post by Persona » Sat Oct 31, 2020 8:45 pm


Best horror movie since I'm not even sure.

Effective not just in its depiction of genre horror but societal horror and seamlessly communicates those two things in a dark, disturbing harmony rather than trying to graft one on the other.

Exceptional lead performances, cinematography, editing.

Great debut from Remi Weekes, who has immediately become a director I will follow closely from here on.

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Re: The Films of 2020

#86 Post by Never Cursed » Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:59 am

Never Cursed wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 7:26 pm
Malcolm and Marie
Will be released February 5, 2021 (does that make this the wrong thread?), just before this season's Oscar deadline. Supposedly, Zendaya is incredible in the film and will receive a big push for Actress (though Netflix is running, like, five separate Actress contenders this year)

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Re: The Films of 2020

#87 Post by Persona » Mon Nov 23, 2020 8:56 am

Mr Sheldrake wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 7:19 am
The Assistant

The film is compelling in recording, at a contemplative documentary distance, the daily drudgery of an entry level assistant (to a Weinstein-ish movie mogul), and her increasing awareness that something is rotten. She’s surprisingly verbally challenged considering her position (she wants to be a producer) and even a bit dim in bringing her concerns about her bosses inappropriate sexual proclivities to HR with no real evidence, just supposition.

It does provides a lively scene with one of my favorite actors, Matthew Macfadyen, the HR chief who sets her straight on how to get ahead in the company, a chilling portrait of the enablers who shrug off what they know is wrong with a cynical chuckle.
I have to say, I really liked this film.

The film's restraint and very pure observational stance is part of why it works so well, but maybe could have used a touch more impact in a few scenes outside of the HR scene. I think the end in particular is a case where the film has a few moments but can't seem to hit on the arc it wants, or figure out if it even wants an arc.

The other creative choice, too, that seems to have been a tough one was how long the assistant has been working for the company. They make it a very brief period of time (5 weeks) yet it seems like she knows her job all too well and is fairly jaded to the experience, it's just when this new assistant comes to work right there in the office with them that she feels the need to do something. So I saw it as a kind of "straw that broke the camel's back" when she goes to the HR guy because I thought there would be this mountain of instances she would be carrying with her, but instead it was just everything we had already seen. But then again, the way the assistant is portrayed, you don't really believe that a person of her character would have been able to put up with this situation for more than a few months, nor should she have or kept quiet for long... so yeah, it's a tricky spot they had there in terms of the background and context to the narrative. Obviously this is a hybrid story based on the true stories of many assistants and women, so you have to be sensitive to the fact that this might closely reflect the reality of a few of those stories.

But Garner is great at portraying the soul-suck of this job and, again, I loved the methodical approach and how lived-in the film felt, which makes its quiet indictments that much more affecting even if it's stuck in a corner then where the main character can't have much agency. Which I suppose, too, is part of the point since she is "just" The Assistant.

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