Saturday, 14 February 2015

Links to Stream Rare Films

Note- This was originally posted as a heading atop the blog, although I'm changing it to a blog post to make room for the new section "Super Fast Reviews for People in a Hurry".

This is a list of where to stream films unavailable on DVD and other formats.

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A Brighter Summers Day- 1991 (Taiwan)
"The World Cinema Foundation are restoring it, so expect to see it on blu-ray within a year or two. Until then all there is, is this dodgy copy. The film is at the peak of the Taiwanese New Wave, and is widely considered to be the best Taiwanese film ever made"
IMDB: 8.4. My Score: 90

Chronicle of the Years of Fire- 1975 (Algeria)
"I reviewed it in my blog, incredibly rare"
IMDB: 7.4. My Score: 66

City of Sadness- 1989 (Taiwan)
"Hsien's greatest work, tells the history of Taiwan during the turbulent time of history known as the 'White Terror'."
IMDB: 8.1. My Score: 87

In the Heat of the Sun- 1994 (China)
"A coming of age story set on the desolate streets of Beijing during the Cultural Revolution. Phenominal." 
IMDB: 8.4. My Score: 84.

Love Streams- 1984 (America)
"Pure Cassavetes, similar to 'A Woman Under the Influence', but everyone has forgotten about this one"
IMDB: 8.0. My Score: 83

Muddy River- 1981 (Japan)
"Reviewed on the blog. Number 10 on Kinejun's top 200 Japanese films" 
IMDB: 7.9. My Score 79.

Pastoral: To Die in the Country- 1974 (Japan)
"My favourite film no-one has seen. The film is about Terayama's childhood, but a third of the way through, it skips to the present day where the director (not played by himself) realizes it's all a lie, and remembers what it was actually like. You will be hooked from the first minute"
IMDB: 8.0. My Score: 97


Kin-Dza-Dza- 1986 (Russia)
"The Craziest sci-fi I have seen. Really is a weird one"
IMDB: 8.3. My score 78

Siberiade- 1979 (Russia)
"4 hour Russian epic about life in a small Siberian village"
IMDB: 8.1. My Score: 88.

The Ascent- 1977 (Russia)
"A lot like 'Come and See' part 2. Brutal, beautiful and horrific."
IMDB: 8.3. My Score: 84

The Inugami Family- 1976 (Japan)
"Kon Ichikawa's most famous film in Japan is completely unheard of it the west. Confusing but a good watch"
IMDB: 7.5. My Score: 79

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Day for Night- 1973 (France)
"Still not available on DVD. Truffaut's best film"
IMDB: 8.0. My Score: 85

Hazard- 2003 (Japan)
"A surprisingly good and unseen Shion Sono film. Don't watch it if it is your first film of his."
IMDB: 6.9. My Score: 74

The Taste of Tea- 2004 (Japan)
"This is why Japan has the reputation of being crazy. Strange and unpredictable"
IMDB: 7.9. My Score 83


Throw Away your Books and Rally in the Streets- 1971 (Japan)
"Terayama is most known for this provocative rebellious tale. It also featured punk music years before it happened"
IMDB: 8.4. My Score: 84

Super Fast Reviews for People in a Hurry Part 4

  Welcome to the Valentine's Day special, where I will be reviewing non-stop romantic comedies... Well, maybe not. The only rom-com I have watched was 'What Happens in Vegas', and that was horrendous on a cataclysmic level. The fact I hate it doesn't mean I'm a pessimist. There are films out there so dire, so mind-numbingly torturous, that watching them physically makes you pessimistic. The soul slowly dies, as you hear Ashton Kutcher say to Cameron Diaz "Lets get married again, I love you". 
  Sorry for dampening the spirit on the one day of a year where you are meant to love someone so much, you buy them trips out, dinner, chocolates, flowers and jewellery. After all that's what Valentine's Day truly is, a holiday made by corporate conglomerations and card companies to extort money from couples. Same as Christmas, Easter, Fireworks Night and Black Friday (which has since been extended to Black Friday Weekend).
  In movie terms, all a screenwriter has to do, is tailor the script to a season or a theme, to take advantage of large audiences. Now this is where I begin ranting about '50 Shades of Grey' (forgive me). Its a pornography book that depends on one thing alone: The viewers imagination. Each reader has a different perception on what the lovers look like, and the scenes that take place, no two imaginations are identical. Adapting it for the big screen, removes the one thing the book had going for it, turning it into a crappy porno. Its the consequence of a Universal Studios executive finding the most popular thing, and, with cash symbols for eyes, says "lets exploit the really dumb members of society and make shitloads of money". He goes on to say "Lets do it with no artistic control, with 2 actors which hate the guts off each other, making a bad film and angering the fans of the book". Universal has always been my least favourite studio, particularly with the force-it-down-your-throat advertising of anything Minion related. They may distribute good films (Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity), but when it comes to making them, they are literally the worst.
  Nothing else has really happened. Australia is now in Eurovision. That's weird. So enjoy the reviews!!!

Gone Girl (2014)
David Fincher

  Fincher has to be one of the most reliable directors in Hollywood, with a near flawless filmography. His films are darkly mysterious, with problematic characters and intricate stories with many layers. The latest is more of the same, but doesn't stop it from becoming a brilliant watch. Ben Affleck plays the husband of missing Wife (played by Rosamund Pike). Saying anything more, would essentially be spoiling the film, as the first part plays out as a first-class mystery, while the second part watches the events unfold. All the events in 'Gone Girl' are superbly paced, something common in most of Fincher's films.
  Affleck may not seem the best at acting in his role, but I think it matches the tone of the film. The aspergers-style performance, makes the audience aware that he himself could have kidnapped her, and thus, adds even more to the film. Everything about this film makes it exhilarating to experience, which I cannot recommend enough. 


Missing (1982)
Costa Gavras

  During a military coup in a South American country, a writer goes missing. His father soon arrives, to aid his wife in trying to find what happened to him. In the same vein as Gone Girl, there is a similar mysterious tone surrounding this film. However, that is where the similarities end. 
  The thing this film has done, which no others in cinematic history has done, is show a third-world country under a terrifying military coup. Dead bodies and rampant soldiers fill the streets, with the sound of gun-shots sporadically firing into the air. Its an atmosphere that is unique to this film, making it iconic in some regards. After the kidnapping, the story plays out with no surprises. That said, its really great to watch two acting legends (Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon) play off against each other in a tropical South American country during dangerous situations.


Calais: The Last Border (2003)
Marc Isaacs

  This documentary has 16 votes on IMDB, so I'll forgive you for not having heard of it. Despite it being completely unknown, the film is truly wonderful. It shows Calais as a mid-point of a journey in a variety of different people's lives. Isaacs interviews a man from England that has just opened a failing pub, an old couple trying to make their businesses turn a profit and an immigrant trying to enter the UK. Don't let those descriptions fool you, the one-on-one interviews are so heartfelt and emotionally gripping, they almost had me crying at one point. Isaacs has a tendency in his films to show the best of humanity at the worst of times. He seems to be the only director around which thinks "humanity ain't so bad". 
  Calais itself, is not a beautiful city, and is usually the place where us, from the UK, stop off and buy cheap alcohol. They even have the same dreary weather we have! The film is a shining ray of hope in a cold depressing world. Watch it if you can.


Calcutta (1969)
Louis Malle

  This feels like an extension of Malle's 6 hour epic 'Phantom India'. Calcutta is one of India's poorest cities, with most of the inhabitants living in poverty. Cue lots of shots of sewerage running through villages and children picking rubbish off of garbage-heaps. India is much more of a country than that. There are large culture differences, including lots of dedication to religion and faith. There is over-crowding, causing people to travel atop of trains and farmyard animals to run uncontrollably through the busy streets. A street performer swinging his daughter from a pole may be shocking to us in the West, but in Calcutta it is quite usual. If anything this documentary shows a venture into a wildly interesting yet alien world, that is right here on Earth. 


Bitter Lake (2015)
Adam Curtis

  Adam Curtis is the most important documentary maker alive. He is unbiased (*cough* Michael Moore), and delves into complicated subjects in a clear and precise manor. He states facts without any exaggeration, and makes films without the in-your-face style editing. They are still wonderful.
  Previously he has made documentaries about psychoanalysis (the Century of the Self) and the use of fear in politics (The Power of Nightmares). His latest film 'Bitter Lake' is about Afghanistan's development in the latter half of the twentieth century to present day. First they were friends with America, constructing a massive dam and hoping to create a new wonderland there called "Little America". This dream failed. Curtis then chronicles the years after, with presidents being assassinated and different countries attempting to inhabit and modernize Afghanistan. More subjects are explored with the introduction of Wahhabism, America's agreements with Saudi Arabia and the use of fear by leaders of the western world. Its a lot to understand, so you may want to see it multiple times to get the most from it (I've already seen it twice). Not for a second are any of these topics dull or tedious, quite astonishing as its nothing I've been interested in before. The news tend to put a biased slant on news stories, so its brilliant to get a fresh neutral perspective.
  'Bitter Lake' does follow in the footsteps of  'The Power of Nightmares', with their paths crossing a couple of times, but both are vastly different. Bitter Lake seems to have more impact through visual images, such as teaching Dupont's urinal to a class of Muslims, a soldier playing with a bird, and epic scenes of helicopters landing.
  I can't call the film perfect, as the pacing and editing is all over the place, with some images and narration not fitting together. It causes the viewer to think, as everything that the film has to offer is not "put on a plate" (which I think is great, but it might deter the casual viewer). Still I think its a classic.


Le Amiche (1955)
Michelangelo Antonioni

  Antonioni may be the most pessimistic and depressing of the world's auteurs but it hasn't stopped him from being one of the most acclaimed. Nearly all his films end in divorce or suicide and they usually deal with themes of isolation and fractured relationships. This film was before 'L'Avventura' and even before my favourite of his films 'Il Grido'. All of his films feel like super artsy and stylized neo-realism. Le Amiche has nothing going for it. The film follows a group of woman as they talk about relationships. Nothing interesting at all. The camera-work isn't as beautiful as his later films, but still may be the best thing about this film. Only die-hard Antonioni fans will get something from this.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Super Fast Reviews for People in a Hurry Part 3

  Good evening to you all. This part of the year tends to feel like an empty vacuum after the delights of Christmas. The days grow dingy and bleak as the temperature begins to plummet. The sort of weather which Werner Herzog would say, make a man "look into the abyss, only to see himself looking back". But wait... What's that? The cinema is showing good films for a change. Thank god for Oscar season! Although, the strange thing is that the Oscar films don't have the highest scores in this update. That would belong to a TV show and a film that shows humans have far more potential than we could possibly imagine. They really believe that the sky is not the limit, and that humanity can conquer galaxies, planets, eternal life and so much more... There is no limit. It's really what I needed on a dull, breezy and dark January morning.

Birdman (2014)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

  This is one of the few films that I found appealing ever since I saw the trailer last September. I anticipated for the film more than I should have, which normally results in a disappointing experience of the film (The Wind Rises and Cloud Atlas). 'Birdman' was far more than what the trailer had shown. The film is near flawless.  The story of an actor risking everything for a Broadway play, while juggling his homelife and his movie-acting past is told with sweeping beauty and grande splendor.
  The long, never-ending take, is not a gimmick, just merely a beacon to show how great the acting is. There was a couple of dodgy transit shots and some of the actors slipping up on a word or two, but who cares? The film is wholly magnificent. Inarritu, has created an experience that no other film has done. It reminds me of what I found so interesting about film in the first place.

Score 89

The Theory of Everything (2014)
James Marsh

  This Stephen Hawking Biopic (like Birdman) has been nominated for Best Picture. It follows Hawking (Redmanyne) and his relationship with his wife Jane (Jones), as his Motor Neurone disease got gradually worse. The story of a man, who is told he has two years to live, is indeed a great story to tell. Everything is done by the books. I know this is what everyone else believes, but they're right. The large amount of biopics coming near Oscar time is colossal, and has now started to take the piss. The UK film Industry and Hollywood are now making films with the belief "this guy has an amazing story to tell, lets tell it".
  There is nothing wrong with the film. The acting is brilliant. The story is well told. The cinematographer does a decent job with the visuals. There is nothing to set it apart from the countless other biopics. I saw the Benedict Cumberbatch film 'Hawking' late last year, and I expect the two to merge in my head, during the years to come.

Score 71

Gurren Lagann-Series 1 (of 1) (2007)
Hiroyuki Imaishi

  Gurren Lagann tells the story of Simon and his friend Kamina, in their underground village. They are not even told there is a surface, yet Kamina disregards this. One day, a Beastman Gurren (large robot) falls into their village, and with the help of Yoko, they manage to destroy the machine. As the series continues, their goals get bigger and bigger, until they are throwing galaxies at each other for the fate of the universe.
  Gurren Lagann is completely barmy and over-the-top. It doesn't give the viewer anything to think about, so could be seen as nothing but thoughtless entertainment. However, the creators had this intention, and created something so enjoyable, so fun, with such iconic and great characters, that it has stayed with me every since I finished watching. I may say this is the greatest thing I have ever seen. In 24 episodes, there is so much character development and so much exhillarating mayhem, that now it has ended, well... I sort of miss it. I kind of hate it for making every other anime look crap in comparison. It'll make you shout "THIS IS THE DRILL THAT WILL PIERCE THROUGH HEAVENS" to your friends only for them to reply with "huh?". Why are you even reading this? You should be watching it now!!!

Score 100

It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012)
Don Hertzfeldt

  It's Such a Beautiful Day is the culmination of Hertzfeldt's three shorter films "Everything is Going to be OK", "I'm so Proud of you" and "It's Such a Beautiful Day", which tells the story of Bill, as his psyche gradually gets more and more shattered. Bill is the most ordinary of men, taking oranges from the back of the pile, and chewing on a sore in the corner of his mouth as he looks at a shopping bag blowing in the wind. Hertzfeldt then shows Bill's sad past, bleak present and his incredible future, showing that even the most mortal and ordinary beings can be ultra-incredible and extraordinary.
  The film is a poetic swansong to life, told through some of the best animation I have ever seen. Hertfeldt draws, narrates, writes and produces his films. The ultimate auteur. The talent this guy has is unbelievable, with an entire filmography of short films which must also be seen. I know its only January, but this may be the greatest film I see all year.

Score 96

Tuesday, After Christmas (2010)
Radu Muntean

  This film tells the story of a man, choosing whether to devote himself to his wife or his lover. The man is a pretty normal guy, but his ability to cheat on his loving wife really makes him unsympathetic and detestable. Both woman are nice and beautiful, so choosing between them is hard and when he does, the consequences are likely to anger the audience. The film takes its time to reach its climax, with a long and gradual run-up to Christmas. This could be seen as ultra-realist, something that is so real, it is actually a bit boring. If you turned on the film at a random moment you would most likely see an ordinary conversation.
  While this may be well directed, acted and photographed, nothing interesting or different happens during the film. Nothing to take it "out of the crowd" but not a bad film at all. That said, I wouldn't ever watch it again and I don't believe it is a classic in any way.

Score 62

La Soufriere (1977)
Werner Herzog

  Herzog is often seen as one of the best directors making films today, having created the Epic 'Fitzcarraldo' and one of the best ever documentaries 'Grizzly Man'. I've seen 15 of his films altogether and 'La Soufriere' remains as one of his best. Herzog travels to the island of Guadeloupe, where a volcano (Soufriere) is due to erupt. The once-busy city is now barren and abandoned, as the citizens have been evacuated. One person has decided to stay in the town, and it is this reason, Herzog journeys to the island.
  The film is filled with haunting imagery, and narrated by Herzog himself (what a voice!). To see a city deserted, with empty streets and livestock roaming amok, feels like something from a Hollywood blockbuster. As the film continues, it ventures further into the island, and the people of the island. The final interview with a guy who isn't afraid of dying, is deeply moving, haunting, thought provoking and unforgettable. Perhaps, one of the greatest moments in documentary cinema.

Score 84