The Films of 2021

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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Dr Amicus
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:20 am
Location: Guernsey

Re: The Films of 2021

#51 Post by Dr Amicus » Mon Mar 29, 2021 11:17 am

Rebel Dykes (Harri Shanahan, Sian Williams) – Shown at BFI Flare as a short in 2016, this is the completed full length version and is a total joy. The story of a group of radical post-punk lesbians in London of the 80s and 90s, this is told fairly chronologically from Greenham Common to Section 28. Much of the film is centred on Chain Reactions, the fetish club they set up – and some of the more explicit footage is material from here (likely to be trimmed / removed in the 15 certificate version apparently being prepared for VOD). Very low budget - news footage was largely out of reach and is instead replaced by “recreations” performed by the filmmakers in printout masks, homemade basic animation is used as linking material and has a very Jamie Hewlett style - but benefitting from a fascinating group of interviewees and an inherently interesting story. The sound mix could do with a final tweak to cover breaks between interviewees, but that is only a really minor pedantic quibble. As noted, a trimmed version is being prepared for VOD, but it is hoped the uncut version will receive cinema screenings post lockdown. In either case, very strongly recommended.

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TheKieslowskiHaze
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:37 am

Re: The Films of 2021

#52 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Thu Apr 01, 2021 6:42 pm

Godzilla vs. Kong is a blast, a near perfect piece of uncomplicated entertainment.

Sure, it's very stupid, so you "gotta turn your brain off," as is often said. But there are plenty of recent examples that show that, even if you meet a supposedly dumb/fun movie on its own terms, you'll be deeply bored. The last monsterverse movie, an uninventive and visually ugly slog, is one of these examples. I'm glad to report, however, that Godzilla vs. Kong rewards its viewer's properly attuned expectations with a damn good time. The B-movie concepts are trippy and fun, the fights are numerous, and the visuals are spectacular (and comprehensible, since they fight in the daytime!).

So, yes, a really fun movie.

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brundlefly
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:55 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#53 Post by brundlefly » Sat Apr 03, 2021 8:26 am

TheKieslowskiHaze wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 6:42 pm
Godzilla vs. Kong is a blast, a near perfect piece of uncomplicated entertainment.

Sure, it's very stupid, so you "gotta turn your brain off," as is often said. But there are plenty of recent examples that show that, even if you meet a supposedly dumb/fun movie on its own terms, you'll be deeply bored. The last monsterverse movie, an uninventive and visually ugly slog, is one of these examples. I'm glad to report, however, that Godzilla vs. Kong rewards its viewer's properly attuned expectations with a damn good time. The B-movie concepts are trippy and fun, the fights are numerous, and the visuals are spectacular (and comprehensible, since they fight in the daytime!).

So, yes, a really fun movie.
Agree insofar as one's willing to de-complicate it. There was a line in a review for John Woo's Broken Arrow that went something like, "We knew it was going to be stupid, but did it have to be this stupid?" And until the first fight scene GvK is joylessly cluttered with story and characters I presume are following up on other "Monsterverse" (ugh) obligations. (The only one I've seen is Kong: Skull Island, and the only thing I remember about it is that I successfully completed it, achievement unlocked.)(And Kyle Chandler is such a useless appendage here that you can feel him mentally making lists of things he'd rather be doing around the house every time he's onscreen.) So my initial takeaway was that, man, I knew there'd have to be some kind of story, but did there have to be this much story?

But the thing I liked best about You're Next (other than watching Joe Swanberg die, of course) is how enjoyably practical it could be without settling into pure functionality. And once all the gobbledygook science and goals are set up here, GvK's plot shakes itself loose and Wingard hops excitedly from A fight to B fight to C fight, in and out of the center of the Earth. Likewise, it may be front-loaded with babble and ply patchworks of barked exposition throughout, but it very blatantly shrugs off dialogue. Feels wordless for long stretches of time, and the use of ASL is inspired; both appropriate and a great way to keep the ape-dinosaur movie from being bogged down by peoplespeak. The human actors are below-title talent here and the movie is a good one when it remembers to keep looking up.
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The biggest letdown? That Mechagodzilla is defeated when the Kiwi kid upends a flask into a computer terminal. It's the tragic last gasp of a bunch of writers' conceits -- the desperate need to give Brian Tyree Henry some sort of tragic backstory (or something), the constant need to pretend there's a real Human-Titan partnership going on, a last-ditch effort to give Julian Dennison something to do besides whine and wisecrack.
And it can be gorgeous. The hyper candy coloring made me want to see Hong Kong get demolished a few times over. Smash me a rainbow, movie.

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cantinflas
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:48 am
Location: sydney

Re: The Films of 2021

#54 Post by cantinflas » Sun Apr 04, 2021 3:13 am

Image

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#55 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Apr 04, 2021 8:25 pm

Shiva Baby: What better way to amplify situational cringe comedy than to set the nightmarish experience at a populated Jewish service. The stereotypical cultural behaviors of oblivious Jewish parental harassment, forceful neurotic persuasion and judgment, are perfectly in step with an already-brutal predicament, disallowing any small anxiety-provoking detail to be left alone. Those who are familiar with the milieu will get their moneysworth of affirmative connection with the esotericism of this atmosphere of escalation, but the wry generational dissonance and universal awkwardness of being trapped in a small space with overwhelming stimuli, secrets, and history (not to mention the Pinter-esque bleeding of the surreal into the real, dark comedy stemming from terrifying destabilization) will still land for most everyone.

The film is essentially a one act play, but its strengths are purely cinematic in contrasting Sennott’s subjective social claustrophobia with the triggers she’s responding to, the camera’s placement and blocking of action crucial to delivery. The string and percussion score is emulating the dread-soaked music from modern indie horror films, and is one of many creative artistic choices that work to elevate the anxiety and comedy alike in this brilliant condensed heart attack of a movie. It could not be a single minute longer than its 72 minutes, so trigger warning: I’ve never seen a cringe comedy this relentless in my entire life. This is a movie made by a filmmaker who deeply understands and belongs to this social context, and who deeply understands cinema and belongs in the director’s chair for many years to come. I still can't decide whether its tone leans more toward comedy or horror (and not just by my own flexible metrics), which is another testament to its subjective realism at finding these pervasive sensations in one's social environment. Emma Seligman could tackle either genre next, separate or together, and I'll be in the theatre on day one.

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Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: The Films of 2021

#56 Post by Finch » Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:41 pm

I guess between the second Borat film and Bad Trip, those public prank movies/satires aren't for me anymore. I turned both off before the half hour mark. I ended up watching all of Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider (1985) for the first time instead (good film though too long and not in the same league as High Plains Drifter or Outlaw Josey Wales, my favourite two westerns Clint did himself; loved seeing Michael Moriarty!).

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#57 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:45 pm

Bad Trip peaks early with the hilarious smoothie shop scene and the back half drags, so yeah, if you didn't find that funny probably best to bail when you did

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Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#58 Post by Matt » Fri Apr 09, 2021 11:15 pm

For those with even the slightest interest in dance (or Morton Feldman), I strongly recommend When We Fell, a short film featuring 6 New York City Ballet dancers co-directed by choreographer Kyle Abraham and cinematographer Ryan Marie Helfant. It’s shot in 16mm black-and-white, in mostly static frontal and overhead long shots with the occasional slow zoom. It’s beautiful dancing and beautiful filmmaking, available free now through April 22 on their website or YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/nycballet).

Next month’s film will be a series of performances filmed by Sofia Coppola with Philippe Le Sourd.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#59 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 17, 2021 2:59 am

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

Radu Jude's latest is an even angrier and funnier indictment of culture than I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, criticizing western civilization on the individual, institutional, and ideological levels as hypocritical ignoramuses, utilizing forceful interventions towards humble right-sizedness against the backdrop of the pandemic, and well, a whole lot more best left unspoiled. The ethereal micro-observations in the first act are recontextualized in friction with macro-concerns in a second act best described as a temporal Godardian essay film functioning like La Flor's fourth chapter (and simply one of the most inspired bits of filmmaking I've ever seen), and then back again, until what we have is a jumbled knot of absurdist sur/realism filtered through the passionate manipulation of art. Jude pushes his examination beyond the current zeitgeist, under the ethos that a true poet must see "human life as both a tragedy and a comedy," and builds his cocktail of social inertia to polarized spaces that prescribe incontestable cynicism in fatal existential hypertension and also grant the kind of fantastical feminist wish fulfillment not even Tarantino could dream up.

I suspect this will (deservedly) go down in history as Jude's magnum opus, but then again, I never could have imagined he could even do something like this with the medium. This joins the recent Ema as a completely unique work that challenges the ways we process information and view the world, and I cannot wait to see how he progresses from here- though I wouldn't be surprised to see him start somewhere else from scratch, since this film translates as Jude's version of Godard's Weekend, an apocalyptic zenith of the possibilities of cinema.

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TheKieslowskiHaze
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:37 am

Re: The Films of 2021

#60 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Wed Apr 21, 2021 2:52 pm

I checked out The Empty Man after hearing some glowing word-of-mouth. It's not as good as those words and mouths suggested, not as genre-transcendent as The Witch or Midsommar, but it's pretty high caliber for a conventional horror movie. It has some of the creepiest scenes in recent memory. A great time; I recommend it.

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Persona
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#61 Post by Persona » Sat Apr 24, 2021 8:56 pm

I loved STOWAWAY. There have been a handful of space mission movies over the past decade or so and this is the best one. Has a nice naturalistic intensity to its scenarios and moral dilemmas, wonderful performances from the 4-person cast, and director Joe Penna totally nails the quiet stillness with a deep undercurrent of tension that the film needs. It also managed moments of real poignancy, and I found myself misting up a couple times--including the ending, which apparently the larger audience hates but I found just about perfect, aside from maybe one slight contrivance that had to set it up. But I found the payoff worth it. A great new space mission flick.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#62 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat May 01, 2021 1:33 am

Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus: Dalibor Barić has concocted an experimental noir that could pass for a Guy Maddin student film on acid. This Croatian animation is so loosely defined that it's difficult to understand what's going on plotwise, let alone care, but that's part of the fun because there is so much "going on" outside of conventional structure. This also seems to be very much the point. This is a film so violently untethered from any patterned internal logic, translating its postured genre's fatalism in the hallucinatory magnetism to some semblance of narrative, or even more flexibly (yet not elastic enough) to the images and space of celluloid. You get the sense this film wants to escape what it is and evolve into some other form of art entirely, but alas it cannot. This gravity even binds it to various influences i.e. a Godardian opening monologue over images worthy of an Alphaville sequel, or even more glaring, the feathery debris levitating in the air right out of a Tarkovsky film in an early scene. However, these moments are fleeting and the film is constantly on the run from falling into any trap of consistency that could allow its protagonists to sit long enough to get caught by the authorities, or the audience, or ponder the meaninglessness of it all. It's pretty self-reflexively noir in that way.

This is a hard film to recommend in absolute terms, because it doesn't add up to anything more than an explosive attempt to pin down experimental cinema into traditionally coherent narrative form, but in that failure we feel the anxiety of trapping 'liberation', and it's a pretty cool, wild ride of confusion to inevitably surrender to the paradoxes trying to coexist in one movie. The friction burns the skeletal fabric so far down to the rubber that the characters break the fourth wall and ultimately become transparent with the viewer about this suffocation stemming from limitations, citing Cronenberg and Tarkovsky by name as indirect culprits of unwanted rules prohibiting salvation in artistic freedom! And yet there are so many detours into the sublime possibilities of cinema, that Barić's playfully creative spirit propels this into a unique mode of greatness, functioning just fine in a fourth dimension where this kind of film might be normal, haunted by the ghosts of these influences as faint memories or perhaps déjà vu from a time that once was, or a dream, elusively out of reach.

kidc
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:23 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#63 Post by kidc » Tue May 11, 2021 7:01 pm

Matt wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 11:15 pm
For those with even the slightest interest in dance (or Morton Feldman), I strongly recommend When We Fell, a short film featuring 6 New York City Ballet dancers co-directed by choreographer Kyle Abraham and cinematographer Ryan Marie Helfant. It’s shot in 16mm black-and-white, in mostly static frontal and overhead long shots with the occasional slow zoom. It’s beautiful dancing and beautiful filmmaking, available free now through April 22 on their website or YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/nycballet).

Next month’s film will be a series of performances filmed by Sofia Coppola with Philippe Le Sourd.
Thanks for this Matt. Coppola's film has now been up for a few days, I almost missed it because it's just titled '2021 Spring Gala'.

New York City Ballet, directed by Sofia Coppola, available until 20th May.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#64 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 12, 2021 6:59 pm

French Exit is a strange film, and one that doesn't really deliver on its eccentric vision, nor earn its merit badge as an original work. Hedges and Poots really weigh down the film as vapid characters of the next generation whose banal energy likely has the opposite of the intended effect, by making the older compromised characters far more interesting and worthy as a fading presence, signifying the termination of something special rather than demonstrating an abnormal facilitation of the cycle of life. Or perhaps we're meant to understand that they all started out like these empty youngsters and that they too may grow more peculiar over time, peeling back onion layers of personality, or adding to bland ones, to reveal/form idiosyncratic reasons for living.

The problem is that everything is so vague and meandering without any existential or emotional payoff. Pfeiffer is terrific, and the film is worth seeing for her perf of false austerity meshed with madness, a kind soul with an enigmatic bite, though she's far too obscure to latch onto, and the film lays its full bet on her to provide meaning to the film. There are weird narrative inclusions of magical realism that should color this thematically or aesthetically within its absurd internal logic, but instead it's like watching a mashup of Buñuel's C-grade surreal gags edited into an unfinished The Royal Tenenbaums-aping domestic dramedy. The film can't find a tone, which could generously be reflexively read as an externalization of Pfeiffer's mental state, but since we don't even know what that is, this doesn't really work either.

Still, there are fun bit parts, and the blending of eccentric with relatable compassion lends itself well to the challenges properly expressing this, often by giving homeless people money or attempting to make connections in a manner that begins with accidentally putting up barriers rather than transcending them. The film doesn't make that clear enough or go with the idea full-tilt either though, so it's still aimlessly wandering in space looking for a home in one of its concepts. The best comparison might to be call this an anti-Desplechin film, for while that artist finds himself squatting transiently in countless homes via full-measured dedications to his many ideas, messy but with deep affection and confidence in his ethos, this film is just.. messy.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#65 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 14, 2021 7:46 pm

Mainstream is a decent shell of an idea contained in a shitty product, like the viral videos that somehow attract people in this terrible movie. The film is a satire on our social media-addled zeitgeist, exposing the hypocrisy in counterculture movements that feed into capitalist systems and narcissistic traits, but it's poorly conceived and doesn't really have anything to say. And a film tackling this material has so much to say. The biggest issue happens late in the game
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where Garfield is pathologized by the film as responsible for someone else's suicide. I mean, he totally plays a part, but it's such an undeserved stretch to pin the blame solely on him, especially when detached projected judgments are exactly what the film seems to be skewering in our society. To go further and relieve Hawke and others, who looked the other way and reinforced the behavior, of culpability by having them distance themselves from him and join the crowd after being a part of the problematic system... well what does that position say about the relativist nature of responsibility, totally unaware that it's diffusing it for itself and its characters? Hmmm sounds just like the narcissistic rationalizations of your degenerate antagonist! And then Coppola has the nerve to indict us all before cutting to black as the audience cheers for Garfield's freakout confession of 'authenticity'. Finger-wagging self-reflexive garbage.
So yeah, this Coppola doesn't got talent (though Jason Schwartzman is kinda funny in his bit part, doing a favor for his cousin's daughter). The film even engages in a middle schooler's idea of a witty screenplay by aping other works to self-deprecatingly declare itself unoriginal too, from the obvious Network in structure to parroting a famous Midnight Cowboy scene with a nudging wink. The one takeaway is that Maya Hawke is worth keeping an eye on, but the also-awful season three of Stranger Things already told us that. I hope she moves on to bigger and better things soon.

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Persona
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Re: The Films of 2021

#66 Post by Persona » Sat May 15, 2021 10:25 pm

OXYGENE

Give Aja all the crazy concept thriller movies because his direction sells the heck out of them. Here he's also helped out by a fantastic performance from Melanie Laurent. A very worthy follow-up to the excellent CRAWL.

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