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a flurry of mini-reviews

Posted by martinteller on December 16, 2014

Todd Haynes recently rediscovered his long-lost first short, The Suicide, and Criterion included it on their new edition of Safe.  Made when Haynes was only 17, the film concerns a boy contemplating suicide after failing to fit in at a new school.  It has the amateurishness you would expect, as well as an adolescent tendency to overdramatize… but for a first effort, it’s got a nice sense of style.  It’s not good enough to watch as more than a curiosity, but it’s not as bad as you might think.  Rating: Good (71)

While not as impressive as Mother or Memories of Murder, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer is a pretty enjoyable flick for the most part.  As a really specific post-apocalyptic scenario, it works.  It’s heavy-handed and the brutality often feels gratuitous, but it’s a lot of fun and (despite some plot holes and things that don’t quite make sense) not too dumb.  Certain influences are evident, with a character named “Gilliam” and a musical reference to The Shining.  Performances are rather mixed, but Tilda Swinton brings something interesting, as usual.  Rating: Very Good (82)

A third of watch of The Conformist confirmed what I felt on my second viewing: it’s a brilliant film that I find captivating, but I have problems thinking of it as a “favorite”.  Yes, it has incredible cinematography (certainly one of the best-looking movies I can think of), it’s constructed elegantly, it’s thematically rich and psychologically complex.  But there isn’t that special something to push it over the top for me, it lacks the emotional impact or unique, compelling aspects to truly connect with me.  Rating: Great (93)

Even though I’ve griped about how it’s the worst, the most childish, the most poorly-adapted and poorly-developed of the series, nonetheless I decided to sit through Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone for a fourth time.  That’s more frequently than I’ve seen several films in my top 100.  The completist in me just can’t resist… I bought the whole box set and by golly, I’m going to watch all of them.  But let’s be honest, I wouldn’t keep coming back if there wasn’t something to it.  My quibbles (which I outlined in an earlier, longer review) are real and not all of them are minor, but damned if I don’t love being sucked into this universe.  There are numerous flaws to be sure, but except for the sometimes awful CGI, most of them exist in the source material.  Columbus’s biggest sin was adhering too closely to it, but the absolutely perfect casting and accomplished sense of wonder go a long way to offset the shortcomings of the story.  Rating: Good (71)

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