site stats

Flowers of Shanghai (Hou-Hsiao Hsien, 1998)

At home with Krystle as part of our ongoing weekly movie watching groove.

First sought out Hou Hsia-Hsien's works after reading so much about him from critics I respect. I first saw Millenium Mambo which which was not very good but nevertheless left me very eager to see more of his work. I then saw Three Times which was a sublime masterpiece. After that it just became a matter of what movies of his I could get my hands on. The library had Flowers of Shanghai and so here we are...

Before deciding to sit down and write some scattered thoughts, I decided to read what literature I could find on the web regarding the film (the ulterior motive being I had no idea where to start talking about this movie). Thankfully trusty old Senses of Cinema had this article comparing Flowers' visual style to that of another master filmmaker, Robert Bresson. The article came through on both accounts and using it as a basis for talking about Flowers worked out perfectly...

It's an interesting comparison that reminds me of how clever (or maybe just fortunate) Hou is in deciding to set this film in the 1800's. The advantage of this place and time is that there's no need to suspend our disbelief in how reserved these characters are in their displays of emotion, or lack thereof. It's fitting given the situations and the society. In contrast, it's much harder to believe the same from Bresson movies set during modern times, it's an anachronism. Maybe that's why Au Hasard Balthazar is so beloved. An animal is the most logical star for a Bresson/Hou vehicle since they can't talk or really emote in the first place!

It's a great credit to Hou that I can say midway through the film I stopped noting the long takes, or more accurately, single shot scenes! Like great special effects artists, that's probably the best complement you can give him. And like all great artists, the style supports the substance perfectly. The camera literally appears to just randomly float around the room, never actively drawing our attention.

Contrast this approach to any other film, even any other great film such as a Bresson or Antonioni film. For example, take that acclaimed silent scene from Balthazar where he eyes all the other caged animals in the circus. It's a brilliant scene by Bresson that forces the viewer to draw meaning from it rather than hand it to them. But the keyword here is still "forced". Each cut acts as a big alarm to the viewer - even if it is implicit, subtle, and using the "filmic" language - that NOW is the time when you should be asking yourself questions about what THIS shot means. As for Hou? He leaves us not only to infer the "what" of the scene, but by eliminating close-ups and cuts altogether, the "when" of the "what" as well! Crappy movies spoonfeed you the hand-picked information, great movies hand you the spoon at the given time and let you pick and choose. Hou seems to just give us the spoon and say "eat what you want, when you want". Obviously this is a gamble: bad if you don't "get it", but incomparably beautiful if you do.

I was reminded of a quote by Orson Welles. “I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won’t contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That’s what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act.” Only after re-reading it did I realize how serendipitously appropriate it was given the "theatrical" nature of this film. That said, Flowers goes beyond simple theater because you could never get away with the silence that Hou accomplishes in this film in theater, people would start snickering thinking that an actor had forgotten their lines!

I love how the camera floats without any care for foreground objects or whether or not the characters are being obscured by a candle or bowl in front of the camera (reminds me of that wonderful shot in the first segment of Three Times when the guy tracks down Shu Qi to the bar and they talk, the camera is placed behind the pool table where a game is going on and people get in the way. I found myself actually straining my head as if I could peek around this guy to catch what they were talking about. Any filmmaker who can get me doing that gets my immediate respect).

Most films try to avoid repeating sets/scenes altogether, and when they don't have a choice, the directors ask themselves "how can we shoot it differently so it's not boring?" But there is something wonderful to be said about the organic way in which Hou re-uses the same sets, characters, and shots over and over in a manner which allows us to familiarize ourselves with both the rooms and the characters' routines (like the characters smoking, or poking at the coals of a fire). Unlike many Egoyan movies where (as much as I love him) there is a clear sense of directorial manipulation in the use of repetition (like in Calendar or Exotica where it's so precisely calculated the characters seem robotic) the feeling I got watching this film is that the characters repeat these gestures not because the director told them to or because it gives the film "meaning" but simply because, it's their natural routine! Kael used to say that to make a film feel like its plot and/or characters are evolving naturally is one of the hardest things to do in cinema. This is something she said that Renoir excelled at and that Hou has definitely nailed on the head in this movie.

Unfortunately, that beauty and mastery descends into melodrama in the second half. I was disappointed in how the film pared itself down to two main storylines (Emerald and Crimson-Wang). I blame this on Hou for setting us up to expect a Renoir-esque tale with his beautiful opening that gives equal time and weight to each character's story. To make matters ironically worse, we miss the other characters even more because he's such a master of infusing each scene with so much depth - despite the lack of any real plot - that one couldn't help but miss them and their storylines that he decides to drop in the second half.

The beauty of the first half was that Crimson and Wang's characters have feelings but can't necessarily act out on them. They have to find that delicate balance between expressing their true selves while maintaining their respectability which is what makes the make-up scene where Wang and Crimson eat dinner such a revelation. In another film their slight smirks wouldn't even warrant mentioning, but here it becomes the single greatest moment of joy in the entire movie thanks to the way in which the rest of the film conditions us to suppress our emotional expectations (perfectly example being the ending of Diary of a Country Priest with the Priest's smirk on the motorcycle).

The second half has too much drama/plot, too much emoting, and all that feeling is allowed to come gushing out like a bad melodrama. Wang goes from ambiguously mopey and pouty to just obviously mopey and pouty, there is no longer that sense of restraint (until that wonderful last scene), no longer a sense of mystery, everything is laid out. Come to think of it, Im surprised I wasn't more annoyed at the drop off in the second half. I suppose it's a credit to Hou and his actors that they're even able to hang on for as long as they do.

And even if Hou was trying to make a point by creating a more direct and harshly lit second half of the film, I missed the romantic soft lighting of the first half. As Manohla Dargis said, this may be shallow and crude, but it's also true.

Everytime now I see a movie that I need to split into first/last half I'm reminded of Kill Bill. I love the first movie, I think it's brililant in so many ways. I don't like the second movie one bit. A friend said to me, "you can't say that, they were meant to be one movie." True, but nevertheless I'm glad that the final decision was made to split it up in two because otherwise I wouldn't hold it up nearly in as high regard. I think back to that now as I reflect on Flowers, if only Hou had found a way to do something like that I would definitely be screaming "masterpiece" for the first half.

That said, this film is amazing and the second half is still very good. I would watch it again in a heartbeat along with just about anything else Hou has ever made. I suppose it's analogous to the cycling critics who, even when it became clear that Lance Armstrong was going to a win a mind-boggling and record breaking 7th consecutive Tour de France, still criticized him for not winning an individual stage (although he eventually did win the penultimate stage). In one sense, it's ridiculous, the man's accomplishment is so great that it's hard to criticize anything about it. On the other hand, the response is understandable given that it is he himself that has set his standards so monstrously high.

Labels: ,

The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

In the theatres at Silver City with Krystle as part of the ongoing effort to maintain our little weekly movie viewing.

I loved Infernal Affairs, but as great as it was, I could never shake the feeling that the film never did as much as it could have with its premise. Look at Heat, it's a fairly "standard' cops & robbers plot but Michael Mann puts the psychology of the characters to the forefront and in doing so elevates the film to art. In IA, the filmmakers had the perfect setup to make an even better film! It could have been the film Francis Ford Coppola always talked about making: a film that shows how a good man becomes bad and a bad man becomes good. If ever there was a film that begged for a remake, this was it! And then I hear that Scorsese is remaking it?! Sign me up!

What a mess. You figured with the combination of IA's fantastic plot, Scorsese, and the cast that this movie would manage to get at least something right. Wrong! They added a bunch of bad things and took out all the good things. If only it were a mere crappy by-the-numbers imitation, it probably would have been better.

Props to Jack Nicholson for managing to fool Scorsese and his editor into thinking that this movie is about him. Even if he doesn't technically appear in more scenes than the two REAL leads, it sure feels like it. There's no justification for the lengthy screen time he manages to get. He's the same freakin guy throughout the entire film, unchanged from the first to last scene. Each scene feels compartmentalized; they exist only to allow him to showcase his Shining-esque crazy personality but do nothing for the overall film (assuming you don't count interrupting, dragging and lengthening).

Lucky for him the other guys have him covered. Martin Sheen plays his character well I guess but he gets screwed by the script. His character only exists as a touchstone for DiCaprio's, but all their scenes together are plot-oriented so there's no chance for any sort of organic relationship. You can't expect audiences to empathize just because a man says "do this for me son", you've got to earn it (reminds me of the typical Hollywood ploy to make the audience feel two characters falling in love by combining a catchy contemporary pop song with a montage of the characters doing various couple-friendly activities). When his character died, I didn't care one bit, I never knew ye. Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg's characters are compartmenatlized caricatures as well (same for their scenes). In fact, it's precisely Wahlberg's comedic presence in all the DiCaprio-Sheen scenes that ruins any possibility of the audience feeling any sort of relationship develop between the two.

So many elements of the film as well felt like Scorsese trying to imitate Scorsese: the token Catholic references, as if he's throwing a bone to his auteurist fans so they have something to tie it back into the rest of his oeuvre. The swearing was also surprisingly excessive for such a light film. These characters are way too funny and the film way too easygoing to have this much profanity and have it feel organic. Even his choice of music seemed completely off.

As for Vera Farmiga, well, I suppose there's nothing bad to say about her, not just because she has beautiful eyes :) but because she's really just functional. That's a shame because I think about the only potentially good change that they made in this movie was having her caught between Damon and DiCaprio. Unfortunately that whole thread was barely touched upon before promptly getting lost in the mix - the story of all the other threads in this movie.

As for the juxtaposition of the two main leads and/or their struggle with their deception, it's even less present than in the original. Here they don't even know each other and Damon's character really gives no hint of switching teams until it actually happens at the very end. There is nothing going on beneath the surface of this film, which completely invalidates the need for such a lengthy prologue. It's rather ironic given that Goodfellas and Casino are two textbook examples of prologues that are efficient, entertaining and informative all at once.

And the whole production value of this movie stunk - usually the one thing you CAN count on from a Hollywood production, and particularly with a Scorsese one. There was really nothing interesting to speak of in terms of framing or shot selection. It all seemed pretty standard to me. The editing was abrupt for no good reason (in the beginning I actually half-believed it was caused by the projectionist cutting too much when splicing reels together), most notably that crappy Wahlberg addition to the ending which conveniently ties up all the loose ends. Nicholson is supposed to be the kingpin of Boston but it's only something that we're told and never really see or feel. I honestly wonder if it was an intentional joke to have the Baldwin-Damon scene at a crappy driving range compared to the scene in IA where they're hitting the balls into the ocean off the rooftop of a skyscraper.

Like usual, the vitriol doesn't match the isolated feeling about the movie. It's just another case of being so angry at a film with so much potential that was a complete letdown in every category.

(EDIT - 10/24/06 - Psychological complexity & the Face/Off connection)
Elaine's comment reminded me of another connection/point I wanted to make sure I remember about this movie. All the reviews/reviewers will certainly talk about the IA/Departed connection, but another film that deserves to be thrown into the mix - and which might even be better than IA - is Face/Off (John Woo, 1997).

Take the scene in both IA and Departed where the dying bad guy suspects the Leung/DiCaprio character of being the rat. In the Departed, DiCaprio really has no friends in this gang, he's portrayed as an outsider, and so appropriately he has no issue with immediately pulling his gun on the baddie. There's some good tension during this scene as we wonder if he's going to be ratted out but that's about it.

Juxtapose that with IA, Leung's character is the bosses most trusted right-hand man and he's the "cool kid" among all the other gang members, the "fat kid" (as Elaine calls him) in particular seems to aspire to be him. As he dies, they're alone in a car, so the immediate tension of being found out is not present, but this instead allows it to be replaced with a psychological dilemma within Leung's character. As the fat kid recounts how he knows Leung wasn't there, we sense the thoughts racing through his mind: "oh crap, I've been exposed! What should I do? I need to kill him! But how can I? This guy is one of my best friends, he looks up to me. What do I do?!" The twist here is that the kid legitimately believes that Leung is not the rat, but knows that others will suspect he is if they found out what he knows, so being a good friend, he tells him he'll take his secret literally to the grave. He then tells him to just leave him there and save himself. The scene leaves the viewer to reconsider how black & white our liberal labels of "good" and "evil" really are in light of this very noble (if naive) gesture by an "evil" gang member with no supposed morals or loyalties.

Unfortunately for the Departed, it had no such scenes, and unfortunately for IA, I think this was really the only such scene. And this is something that Face/Off does extremely well. In this film, the cop (John Travolta) is by all external accounts a good man in that he's a highly decorated and hard-working cop who wants to bring down a wanted criminal (Nicholas Cage). But it is this very same single-minded focus that completly alienates him from not only all his staff, but his wife and child as well. The real artistic meat of this film comes in when the characters trade places. Travolta gets to know the criminals he's hated his whole life in a new light, he sees their camraderie, their loyalty to "him" and to each other. And in his enemy's abandoned girlfriend and child (whom he previously intimdated and threatened) he sees his own family that he's neglected and he begins to empathize with her.

Meanwhile, Cage's character, despite being the "bad" guy is the one who ironically, or not (and that's the point!), manages to patch things up at the office, re-connect with Travolta's daughter and re-invigorate his marriage. Not only that, but there's even the fantastic scene when he's forced to goto the cemetary with Travolta's wife to visit the grave of their son whom HE murdered. Cage (as Travolta's character) is forced to finally confront the atrocity he committed. Geez, what a great movie! What a combination of pop and art! What vintage John Woo action ! How did I ever forget about this movie? Thank goodness for film journals!

Labels: , ,

Bon Cop, Bad Cop: Most Popular Homegrown movie in Canadian History!

Well, last week it became official. Bon Cop, Bad Cop became the all-time Canadian box office leader among films made in Canada (finally overtaking freakin' Porky's). It should be a proud moment for all Canadians. We finally made a truly entertaining movie! It's a shame that most people outside of Ontario/Quebec won't get to - or just won't - watch it. It really is their loss, because it's every bit as fun as any of the better mindless Hollywood blockbusters out there.

I'm gonna get a kick out of all the cultural analyzation that goes into how this film became popular by the Nationalists because I think for the most part it's not true. I definitely enjoyed it more being a proud Canadian cinephile who's always been rooting for Canadian cinema and who also "got" the cultural references in the film, but this film was great mostly because it was just a well-executed summer movie. I mean in reality it's not like it was all that different from say Rush Hour, just replace the black-chinese guys with the anglo-franco guys. The great scenes anyways (the autospy guy, the initial finding of the body and quibbling over who takes it, the bar fight, the house of weed fire & subsequent boss yelling scene, etc.) all have nothing intrinsically Canadian about them.

That's not to take anything away from it, personally to me, none of that stuff matters and it really shouldn't to a film that's main purpose is to be entertaining. We already have a long tradition of art films as it is, that isn't our problem, our problem has always been making films that ALL Canadians want to see. This film isn't the saviour of both art and mainstream Canadian cinema, but it is the saviour of the one that needs it the most: the mainstream side. I hope that it makes even bigger stars out of Colm Feore and Patrick Huard, who both deserve it. And I hope that this film marks the beginning of a whole new era of Canadians being able to see their own homegrown films in their local cineplexes instead of at tiny little arthouses. I look forward to the next time I can walk out of Silver City after watching another entertaining Canadian movie and be able to say "it was great, but it sure was no Bon Cop, Bad Cop."

Labels: ,

Plots explained: Mulholland Drive & The Big Sleep

For some reason, just thought of these links again. The Big Sleep one is just a good refresher, while the Mulholland Drive one is superbly written and demonstrates some real in-depth analysis. Just reading it again has me itching to re-watch the movie:

Understanding "The Big Sleep"
Everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask about "Mulholland Drive"


Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)

At home with Krystle as part of our attempt to get into a weekly movie watching groove.

It was a movie we both wanted to see. I had been wanting to see this film for a long time for a few reason: 1) Fascinated by the story in general, 2) It being Wenders' most famous and revered film, 3) Wanting to see something by Wenders knowing how he has a great respect for and has been influenced by quality directors such as Ozu.

What a mixed bag of a film. The first 3/4 of the movie were - for the most part - brilliant, when the film plays out like a documentary, merely following the angels around. It was strangely beautiful how their "job" is to help comfort those around them who need it the most, and yet they manage to remain emotionally detached from it all, which made the cry of the angel when the guy jumps off the building that much more powerful and unexpected. Great scene. Even better was the library scene as a whole, because it was the only truly uninterrupted scene that felt like it was allowed room to breathe before being rudely interrupted by some other clever scene. What an odd movie.

Having seen the film, given its content, the general critical spiritual reverance for it, and not to mention Wender's huge respect for Ozu, I refuse to believe that the mix of styles in the film is some Godard-ian cynicism or cleverness thrown in by Wenders to make some post-modern point. It seems to me that he takes all this rather seriously. So why dilute a film that starts off so beautifully with that whole Colombo thing? Sure it's clever, but it doesn't belong in this movie. It's too small to make a difference but it's big enough to be annoying and make you question why it's there.

Even if you forget all those bad scenes, I still wonder if the critical community mistakes a beautiful film for a deep film or if they're all just copying a press release. While the premise of the film: an angel wanting to become human to finally experience what only humans can, is a "big" idea, there's actually very very little that's done with it. And ideas alone shouldn't elevate a film, otherwise it's just falling prey to Kael's "Fantasies of the Art House Audience". There is no internal struggle from the Angel's POV, right off the bat he talks about wanting to be human and never really puts up much of a fight for the Angel's "side". And once the Angel becomes human - and forgetting that he's only shown as being human for about 20 minutes - all he does is go straight for the girl whom mysteriously recognizes him instantly, they kiss, the end. There's a long philosophical monologue by the girl before the kiss of course, but rather ironic isn't it that a film that's supposed to expound on the joys/sorrows of the human experience decides to climax with a ridiculously long monologue the likes of which would never be seen in real life? Neither the Angel or the girl ever encounter any real obstacles or decisions in the entire film. Everything just kinda falls into their lap. Isn't this kinda just a typical Hollywood romance hidden beneath an art-film veneer?

Of course having said all that, I did really like the film. I guess the ones I always write the most negative things about are the ones I'm angry at because I feel they had the potential to be even better than they were.

Labels: ,

Newly Watched Films (2008)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

(* = watched in theatre)

  1. Marley & Me (2008)*
  2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)*
  1. Hot For Teacher (2006)
  2. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)*
  3. Rosemary's Baby (1968)*
  4. Mr. Woodcock (2007)
  5. The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)
  1. Iron Man (2008)
  2. The Fall (2006)
  3. Mamma Mia! (2008)*
  1. Helvetica (2007)*
  1. The Dark Knight (2008)*
  2. Hancock (2008)*

  1. WALL-E (2008)*
  2. My Blueberry Nights (2007)*
  3. The Lady from Shanghai (1948)
  1. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)*
  1. Young @ Heart (2007)*
  2. Junebug (2005)

  1. Stealth (2005)
  2. Wired to Win (IMAX) (2005) *
  1. Junebug (2005)
  2. Casino Royale (2006)
  3. There Will Be Blood (2007) *
  4. Ratatouille (2007)

Newly Watched Films (2002)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

TOTAL FILMS = 89 (Partial List)
(* = watched in theatre)
  1. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner*
  2. Before Sunrise
  3. Ghost World
  4. In the Bedroom*
  5. Spider-man*
  6. Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones*
  7. Y Tu Mama Tambien*
  1. A Beautiful Mind
  2. Gosford Park
  3. Insomnia*
  4. Intolerance
  5. Minority Report*
  6. No Man's Land*
  7. Tape
  8. The Others
  1. Mean Streets
  2. Men in Black II*
  3. Decalogue: I, II
  4. Road to Perdition*
  5. Maltese Falcon
  6. Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  7. IFCO 10th annual short film festival*
  8. Cube II - Hypercube*
  9. The Royal Tenenbaums
  1. Dark Passage
  2. Austin Powers - Goldmember*
  3. Signs*
  4. La Dolce Vita
  5. Belle De Jour
  6. To Have and Have Not
  7. 13 Conversations About One Thing*
  8. Decalogue: III, IV
  9. 8 1/2
  10. Vertigo
  11. Wonder Boys
  12. Get Shorty
  1. Simone*
  2. In the Mood for Love
  3. Decalogue: V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X
  4. I Was Born But...
  5. The World of Apu
  6. Reservoir Dogs
  7. Key Largo
  8. Wild Strawberries
  9. The Double Life of Veronique
  10. Tokyo Story
  1. Tampopo (1985)
  2. The Ring (2002)*
  3. Rashomon (1950)
  4. Sisters of the Gion (1936)
  5. The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1995)
  6. Touch of Evil (1958)
  7. North by Northwest (1959)
  8. Ali G - In Da House (2002)
  9. Double Indemnity (1944)
  10. Kurosawa (2001)
  11. Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
  12. Drunken Angel (1948)
  13. Some Like it Hot (1959)
  14. Record of a Tenement Gentleman (1947)
  1. Metropolis (2001)
  2. Woman in the Dunes (1964)
  3. Thelma & Louise (1991)
  4. Carlito's Way (1993)
CFI Short Film Presentation
  1. I Shout Love (short) (2001)*
  2. The Green (short) (2001)*
  3. 1:1 (short) (2001)*
8. In the Realm of the Sense (1976)
9. The Big Shave (short) (1967)
10. Throne of Blood (1957)

  1. Femme Fatale (2002)
  2. Kagemusha (1980)
  3. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
  4. Yojimbo (1961)
  5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)
  6. Three Colours: Red (1994)
  7. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
  8. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)*
  9. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
  10. Chicago (2002)*
  11. Pleasantville (1998)
  12. Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
  13. Far From Heaven (2002)*
  14. Olsen Twins: Getting There (2002)


Newly Watched Films (2003)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

(* = watched in theatre)

  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)*
  2. Jackie Brown (1997)
  3. A Better Tomorrow (1986)
  4. Catch Me If You Can (2002)*
  5. Happy Together (1997)
  6. Jules et Jim (1962)
  7. The Hidden Fortress (1958)
  8. Sanjuro (1962)
  9. New Women (1934)
  1. The Rules of the Game (1939)
  2. Godzilla (1954)
  3. The Hours (2002)*
  4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
  5. Russian Ark (2002)*
  6. Late Spring (1949)
  7. A Walk to Remember (2001)
  8. Open House (TV) (2003)
  1. Yellow Earth (1984)
  2. The Pianist (2002)*
  3. Notorious (1946)
  4. Scarface (1932)
  5. Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
  1. The Blue Kite (1993)
  2. Beijing Bicycle (2001)
  3. Sunrise (1927)
  4. Stray Dog (1949)
  1. Ran (1985)
  2. Brazil (1985)
  3. Stalker (1979)
  4. La Grande Illusion (1937)
  5. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)*
  6. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  7. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
  8. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  9. X2: X-Men United (2003)*
  10. Gone With The Wind (1939)
  11. Pickpocket (1959)
  1. Knick Knack (short) (1989)*
  2. Finding Nemo (2003)*
  3. Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936)
  4. The Animatrix (2003)
  5. Spartacus (1960)
  6. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
  7. The Conversation (1974)
  8. East of Eden (1955)
  9. The Tramp (short) (1915)
  10. The Immigrant (short) (1917)
  11. City Lights (1931)
  12. Blue Crush (2002)
  13. Madame De… (1953)
  14. Diary of a Chambermaid (1946)
  15. The Pawn Shop (short) (1916)
  16. Sansho Dayu (1954)
  17. Modern Times (1932)
  18. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)*
  19. The Cat’s Meow (2001)
  1. Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932)
  2. The Great Dictator (1940)
  3. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)*
  5. The Guru (2002)
  6. The Gold Rush (1925)
  7. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
  8. His Girl Friday (1940)
  9. K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
  10. Fear and Desire (1952)
  11. 8 Mile (2002)
  12. Swordfish (2001)
  13. Spellbound (2002)*
  1. Project Grizzly (1996)
  2. Gangs of New York (2002)
  3. Solaris (2002)
  4. La Bete Humaine (1938)
  5. Backfire (short) (2002)
  1. The Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Toronto International Film Festival
  1. Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine (2003)*
  2. Elephant (2003)*
  3. Bright Future (2003)*
  4. Dogville (2003)*
  5. Lost in Translation (2003)*
  6. The Saddest Music in the World (2003)*
  1. Irma Vep (1996)
  2. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  3. Edison Kinetoscope Shorts: Serpentine Dance , Sandow , Comic Boxing , Feeding the Doves , Seminary Girls
    1. Early Cinema Shorts: The Kiss , Stop Thief! , Life of an American Fireman , Policeman’s Little Run
    2. Lumiere Actualite Shorts: Promenade of Ostriches , Transformation by Hats , Poultry Yard
  4. The Girl and Her Trust (short) (1912)
  5. Les Vampires: The Red Codebook (serial) (1915-1916)
  6. Gilda (1946)
  7. The Son of the Sheik (1922)
  1. Little Caesar (1931)
  2. Broken Blossoms (1919)
  3. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)*
  4. Zero de Conduite (1933)
  5. The Merry Widow (1934)
  1. The Kid (1921)
  2. The Matrix Revolutions (2003)*
  3. Duck Soup (1933)
  4. The Palm Beach Story (1942)
  1. Honey (2003)*
  2. The General (1927)
  3. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)*


Newly Watched Films (2004)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

(* = watched in theatre)


  1. Pather Panchali (1955)
  2. M (1931)
  3. Big Fish (2003)*
  4. The English Patient (1995)
  5. The Big Heat (1953)
  1. Hero (2002)
  2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
  3. L’Avventura (1960)
  4. King Lear (1987)
  5. Chimes at Midnight (1965)
  6. You Got Served (2004)*
  1. The Heart of the World (short) (2000)
  2. The Passion of the Christ (2004)*
  1. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)*
  1. Rounders (1998)
  2. Mean Girls (2004)*
  3. Troy (2004)*
  4. Van Helsing (2004)*
  5. Avalon (2001)
  1. The Terminal (2004)*
  2. Spider-Man 2 (2004)*
  1. Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)
  2. The Bourne Identity (2002)
  3. Shadow Maker: Gwendolyn MacEwen, Poet (1998)
  4. Mystic River (2003)
  1. Before Sunset (2004)* (twice in two days)
  1. Collateral (2004)*
  2. Begone Dull Care (short) (1949)
  3. The Reckless Moment (1949)
  4. Love Parade (1929)
  5. The Oyster Princess (1919)
  6. Back to God’s Country (1919)
  7. Secret Nation (1992)
  8. Secret Beyond the Door (1948)
  9. Michel in the Suête (short) (1998)
  10. Gulliver’s Travels (1939)
  1. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)
  2. Trouble in Paradise (1932)
  3. Angel (1937)
  4. The Stepford Wives (2004)
  1. L’Eclisse (1962)
  2. The Wish (short) (1970)
  3. Surfacing on the Thames (short) (1970)
  4. Paperback Hero (1973)
  5. The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
  6. The Grey Fox (1982)
  7. Mon Oncle Antoine (1971)
  8. Hollywood or Bust (1956)
  9. Cinderfella (1960)
  10. Son of Paleface (1952)
  11. Artists and Models (1955)
  1. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
  2. Ocean’s Twelve (2004)*
  3. Chungking Express (1994)


Newly Watched Films (2012)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012


(* = watched in theatre)

(stopped keeping track for a little while, life got in the way)
  1. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  2. Con Air (1997)
  3. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  4. The Hurt Locker (2008)
  5. Sabrina (1954)
  6. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
  7. The Hunger Games (2012)*
  8. X-Men: First Class (2011)
  9. Thor (2011)
  10. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  11. The Avengers (2012)*
  12. War Horse  (2011)
  13. The Story of Film: An Odyssey - Episode 1 (2011)
  14. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
  15. Election (1999)
  16. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)*
  1.  The Dark Knight Rises (2012)*
  1. The Other Guys (2010)*
  1. Salt (2010)
  2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
  1. Men In Black 3 (2012)
  2. Total Recall (2012)
  3. King Kong (1933)
  4. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
  5. The Apostle (1997)
  1. Les Misérables (2012)*
  2. Life of Pi (2012)*
  3. Django Unchained (2012)*


Newly Watched Films (2005)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

(* = watched in theatre)


  1. Kingdom of Shadows (1998)
  2. Low Visibility (1984)
  3. Springtime in Greenland (short) (1981)
  4. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  5. The Decline of the American Empire (1986)
  6. Paris Qui Dort / The Crazy Ray (1925)
  7. Dagon (2001)
  8. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987)
  9. Evil Dead Trap (1988)
  10. The Brood (1979)
  1. Living Hell (2000)
  2. Ryan (short) (2004)
  3. Very Nice Very Nice (short) (1961)
  4. Sur le Seuil (2003)
  5. La Florida (1993)
  6. Sally’s Beauty Spot (short) (1990)
  7. Save My Lost Nigga Soul (short) (1993)
  1. The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind (1989)
  2. Masala (1991)
  3. The Eye (2002)
  4. The Stepfather (1987)
  1. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) *
  2. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  3. Million Dollar Baby (2004) *
  4. Plague City: SARS in Toronto (2005) (TV)
  5. Sin City (2005)*
  1. Mad Hot Ballroom (2005) *
  2. March of the Penguins (2005) *
  3. Slings and Arrows – Season 2 (2005) *
  4. Bewitched (2005) *
JULY (none)
  1. Who’s Your Daddy? (2003)
  2. The Island (2005) *
  3. The Flying Padre (short) (1951)
  4. Norman McLaren: Select Short Films: Boogie-Doodle (1940), Lines: Horizontal (1962), Le Merle (1958), A Phantasy (1952)
  1. Red Eye (2005) *
  2. Batman Begins (2005) *
  3. 2046 (2004) *
  1. We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004)
  1. Millennium Mambo (2001)
  2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) *
  1. Infernal Affairs (2002)
  2. Infernal Affairs II (2003)
  3. Infernal Affairs III (2003)
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)*
  5. Munich (2005)*


Newly Watched Films (2009)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

(* = watched in theatre)

  1. Revolutionary Road (2008)*
  2. Australia (2008)*
  1. Hot Rod (2007)
  1. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)*
  2. Equilibrium (2002)
  3. Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922)
  4. The Circus (1928)
  5. Doubt (2008)*
  1. The Scarlet Empress (1934)
  2. Be Kind Rewind (2008)
  1. Fireproof (2008)
  1. Les Enfants du Paradis (1945)*
  2. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  3. Departures (2008)*
  1. Drag Me to Hell (2009)*
  2. Partly Cloudy (short) (2009)*
  3. Up (2009)*
  4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)*
  5. Tropic Thunder (2008)
  6. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
  7. Moon (2009)*

  1. Star Trek Nemesis (2002)
  2. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
  3. District 9 (2009)*
  4. Diner (1982)
  1. Sherlock Jr. (1924)
  1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs [3-D] (2009)*
  1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
  2. The Terminator (1984)
  3. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)*
  4. Star Trek (2009)
  5. Badlands (1973)
  6. The Asphalt Jungle (1959)
  7. Spirited Away (2002)
  1. My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
  2. Rope (1948)
  3. Public Enemies (2009)
  4. No Country For Old Men (2007)


Newly Watched Films (2011)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

(* = watched in theatre)

(stopped keeping track for a little while, life got in the way)
  1. Spring in a Small Town (1948)
  2. Day Break: Season 1 (2006)
  3. Fantasia (1940)
  4. Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
  5. Sucker Punch (2011)
  6. The Misifts (1961)
  7. Limelight (1952)

  1. The Tree of Life (2011)*
  2. Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
  1. Knowing (2009)
  2. El Bulli: Cooking in Progress (2011)*
  3. Planet B-Boy (2007)
  4. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
  1. The Seven Year Itch (1955)
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)*
  3. All About Eve (1950)
  1. War of the Worlds (2005)
  2. The Ides of March (2011)*
  3. Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009)
  4. Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)
  5. Beyond the Mat (1999)
  1. In Time (2011)*
  2. Obsession (1976)
  3. Tirez sur le Pianiste (1960)
  4. Margin Call (2011)*
  5. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2009)
  1. The Artist (2011)*


Newly Watched Films (2006)

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

The Year in Review (2006)

(* = watched in theatre)

  1. The Deep End (2001)
  2. Mulberry Red, No. 17 (short) (1999)
  3. Devouring Buddha (short) (2002)
  4. Lord of War (2005)
  5. Post-Partum (short) (2004)
  6. Terminal Bar (short) (2003)
  7. The New World (2005)*
  8. The Passenger (1975)*
  1. La Notte (1961)
  2. Michelangelo Antonioni: The Eye That Changed Cinema (2001)
  3. Antonioni: Documents & Testimonials (1966)
  4. Day of the Fight (short) (1951)
  5. Blow-Up (1966)
  6. Eight Below (2006)*
  7. Brokeback Mountain (2005)*
  1. George Méliès Shorts (Landmarks of Early Film #2):Long Distance Wireless Photography (1908), Good Glue Sticks, The Eclipse: Courtship of the Sun and the Moon (1907), The Mysterious Retort (1906),The Enchanted Sedan Chair, The Black Imp, The Scheming Gambler’s Paradise (1905), The Hilarious Posters, The Living Playing Cards, The Wonderful Living Fan, The Mermaid, The Untamable Whiskers, The Cook in Trouble, Tchin-Chao: The Chinese Conjurer (1904)
  1. The Impossible Voyage (short) (1904)
  2. Walk the Line (2005)*
  3. Zabriskie Point (1970)
  1. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)*
  2. China Rises (2006)
  3. Eros (2004)
  4. Michelangelo Eye to Eye (2004)
  5. First Descent (2005)
  6. Inside Man (2006)*
  7. The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

  1. Il Grido (1957)
  2. Back to the Future (1985)
  3. United 93 (2006)*
  4. Brick (2005)*
  5. Back to the Future II (1989)
  6. Back to the Future III (1990)
  7. V for Vendetta (2005)*
  1. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2005)
  2. Three Times (2005)*
  3. What Women Want (2000)
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)*
  5. Click (2006)*
  1. Visions of Light (1992)
  1. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)*
  2. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)*
  3. The Descent (2005)*
  4. Snakes on a Plane (2006)*
  1. Le Amiche (1955)
  2. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
  3. Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006)*
  4. A History of Violence (2005)
  5. Step Up (2006)*
  1. Wings of Desire (1987) (review)
  2. The Departed (2006)* (review)
  3. Flowers of Shanghai (1998) (review)
  4. Norman McLaren Shorts: Blinkity Blank (1955), New York Lightboard Record (1961), Mosaic (1965), Pas De Deux (1968)
  5. Höllentour (2004) (review)
  1. Marie Antoinette (2006)* (review)
  2. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)* (review)
  3. Red Desert (1964)
  4. Mission to Mars (2002) (review)
  5. The Corrs: All The Way Home (2005) (review)
  6. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)* (review)
  7. Little Children (2006)* (review)

  1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  2. Dodge City (1939)
  3. The Holiday (2006)*
  4. The Nativity Story (2006)*