Friday, 31 July 2020

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words

Sure, another documentary. This time about an unseen fashion icon.

Martin Margiela has put in 20 years into the fashion industry, and this movie basically charts each fashion show. He has a rather unusual sense that appeals to a lot of people, and we can see the creative process in action as he takes clothes and presents them in rather odd ways. And one of his common gimmicks is covering the faces of his models so that people concentrate on his clothes. In a similar vein, he never gives interviews because he's fed up with the questions and doesn't want to deal with them, just let his clothes speak for him.

He's definitely an admired figure, a lot of praise for his stuff. We get him talking about things, and get to see him... putting things together. Hands and arms is about the most we get of him, in keeping with the "don't see him" attitude.

While I can see his fashion pieces as art, I'm not sure I see them as clothes, as things people would wear on any basis other than "hey, I have this strange outfit I'm going to show off at this strange party". This makes me wonder if anyone has done a documentary on "once the clothes leave the catwalk, what happens to them next?" Are people buying these things in droves? Are they just art pieces for the moment? I have no idea.

A decent documentary that has the idea of showing off his work, and just getting on with it.


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Thursday, 30 July 2020

Aasta täis draamat

I do seem to like documentaries. Such as this one about going to the theatre... or is it? (Again, no IMDB entry, so I'll link to their main site.)

This started as an experiment: someone is picked (Alissija) to go to a play nearly daily for a year, and write about her experiences, the intention to being "how does an everyman view the theatre experience?". We follow her as she goes to many plays, some in more indie set ups, some in full on grand theaters, and some even in a community style. Moreover, she goes through some life events (she is a young woman), as theatre casts its spell on her, and she falls out of interest, back in interest again, in and out of love with someone else, and otherwise spends the year dedicated to this one thing, with only some thought as to: what next?

This movie didn't really work for me, and I've been trying to work out why. I think the answer is: they made the wrong movie. The concept they went with for the movie "what if someone saw (basically) a theatre a day, what would that mean?" but what they got was "this is the movie of Alissija and how she changed over a year", but since they were insisting on the gimmick, the movie doesn't really work.

(If you want to recast this as a review of a theatre experience, I'll leave that to you, but note that in a theatre production you generally have more control over the script than what happens in a documentary.)

This movie could probably be reedited into one thing or the other, but at the moment it is in a very unsatisfying middle ground.


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Wednesday, 29 July 2020


Documentary time... I didn't realise this was from 2008. Damn this film festival with fine films from all sorts of times...

We are at the Choral Clinic, run by one Dr. Masatomo Yamamoto. We follow several of his patients as they talk about their mental health issues, helped by what services the Clinic can provide. We definitely get the tales that these people need help, and there is little being done to help them aside from limited services, and there is a bill about to be passed which could start costing them money (which we don't get a resolution on). These are people that are otherwise capable to some degree, but suffer from depression or similar that just making living in society that much worse without support.

The main reason I mention 2008 at the start is that I hope things are better now a decade later... but I doubt it. Mental issues are seen as taboo in Japanese society, and while cultures are improving, the less fortunate are always hidden away by most societies and I can't say that even New Zealand is doing overwhelming in this area.

This movie does help in that it helps raises awareness, or "removes the curtain" as the film puts it. These people do need support... but then so do so many others...


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Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Hong Kong Moments

A documentary about modern day Hong Kong. Well, this won't be political. (I would link to IMDB, but it isn't on there yet.)

The movie follows seven different people over three different days, two around protest moments, one around an election day. They demonstrate the different aspects of life in Hong Kong, a protestor, a police man, a first aider, two people involved in elections, and two people just doing their work, all with different takes on what life in Hong Kong is like at the moment and how they view the protesters and the police.

While this movie definitely lets people speak for themselves, I wouldn't say it was entirely neutral. No one specific person is portrayed as "the bad guy", but when you see the actions of the police as a large force they speak for themselves. And yes, I agree that it isn't simple, there are a lot of stupid things the rioters do, such as trash shops and such. But this isn't a black and white situation.

However, there are parts of the stories left unsaid, assumed to be known. For example, that there is a "pro-democracy" group and a "pro-Beijing" group, as they style themselves. And one of the protestors mentions the five demands they have, without anyone saying what that is.

And no doubt many people seeing this will compare this to what is happening in America at the moment, but I'll let better people than me take up that conversation.

A good look at what is happening, but it might be better to learn some facts before watching this to appreciate it more. Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.


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Monday, 27 July 2020

Le Miracle du Saint Inconnu

Want to see a superior Arabic version of Bluestreak? Here you go!

A thief is on the run, buries his cash and marks it as a grave... and after spending time in prison comes back to find it is now the shrine of an unknown saint, has a town cropped up nearby which ruined another nearby town. So begins the tale of this town, the thief trying to get his money back, the guard loving his dog more than his son, a new doctor who immediately gets bored with this life, and other characters.

"Black comedy" is an easy go to, but this is correct for this movie. Although this movie is slow, it is really good, and the humour is light enough to not be too depressingly black. This movie reminds me a lot of Catch 22 in its humour of "you know what, just roll with it".

There are one or two suitably serious actors playing serious characters, but otherwise the rest of the crew seem to happily be leaning into the absurdity of this.

Great movie, much recommend.


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Sunday, 26 July 2020


Documentary time, with this movie about the mayor of Ramallah.

Ramallah is in Palestine, within sight of Jersulam, and we are following the Mayor as he is trying to make sure his city has a brand. And then we get Trump's announcement of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and... not great things happen. There are initial riots he has to deal with, then go on an international stage to bring light to their situation. And then we get the moment when soldiers enter the city and the Mayor, and the crew, are stuck inside while that is happening.

The Mayor is quite charismatic, although you can get a sense of the frustration he has running the city... and you can also get a sense that he speaks big about some promises you know are going to get into trouble getting done. So, typical mayor then.

I don't know how much David Otis filmed, but the Trump line was a great moment to examine this city. What do they have to put up with as this overseas buffoon makes random announcements he doesn't really care about. They survive, but there are some not pretty moments.

Nice time capsule captured, well done movie.


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Saturday, 25 July 2020

The Last Wave

Looks like I'm sticking with Australia for this movie that features a lawyer and Aborigines.

After some weird weather events, a group of four Aborigines seem to kill a fifth. A lawyer comes into the case, which is odd as he mainly deals with corporate tax, but something about this case draws him in. As do the beliefs of the Aborigines. Could the magic of the Aborigines be responsible? And what did the man do to earn death? Can the lawyer find out... should he?

I have no idea how this movie was received by Aborigines and I would like to know. ... They felt it was a good one it seems. Okay then. Certainly there are some fine performances on display here, and their beliefs aren't treated as rubbish, aside from a couple of cynical characters (mostly it is just treated as something that is there).

However, with Richard Chamberlain playing the lead role of the lawyer, there is a whiff of White Savior about him as he tries to get them off of a murder charge. And then towards the end, we get a bit of the White Colonist coming in and invading the local culture. A bit all over the place really, and then there is that last shot...

I hope there are lot of Aboriginal movies there, of which I have no clue.


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Friday, 24 July 2020


Right, I need a good horror movie, and this Australian movie is available.

The elderly grandmother disappears, so the mother and daughter turn up to find out what happens. She does turn up later, but is complaining of other people around and doesn't trust her descendants. And the house has mold... and then the grandmother has mold... and then the house has more house and they all get trapped and...

Now, I'm not one (DEMENTIA) for spotting themes and (DEMENTIA) motifs, but I suspect there might (DEMENTIA) have been something this movie (DEMENTIA) was trying to get across. Fortunately, we all know that media handles mental (DEMENTIA) issues properly and what happens to the grandmother is only a metaphor that isn't going to be (DEMENTIA) suffered by the others.

As such, while there were definite elements of creepiness creeping in, it didn't really feel like it was going anywhere because it was already there. Surprise! Something creepy happened! Which we all knew was going to happen! ... Creep!

Overall.. it's fine.


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Thursday, 23 July 2020

Last and First Men

I recently worked through an anthology of time travel stories, so when this movie started with "we are the last men from billions of years from now", I was able to take that on board and work with it.

This is a missive from them into the past. We get some information about what life is like now, find out that it's not a utopia, it's just people being people (where people has changed, but still). But there is an unfortunate event that is gonna wipe everyone out. And so they speak out, to be heard, before they are gone.

...oh dear gods. Ever watch a movie and think "this was a waste of time and resources for everyone involved, including the audience"? This is Tilda Swinton narrating this almost essay (this was adapted from a book... should have stayed there). And under this is... completely irrelevant black and white imagery of mosaics from around the world. Actually, I don't know if they just found these things or made them, and they are nice as monuments in and of themselves, but have nothing to do with whatever point this movie is going for.

I admit I watch movies at quicker that 1x speed... never more so glad to be able to do so when dealing with a movie like this.


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Wednesday, 22 July 2020

La odisea de los giles

The New Zealand International Film Festival is coming, and it's online, so I'm probably gonna watch a lot of them. But I can see something of them before hand. Such as this one about the Argentinian Corralito.

A small group of townspeople decide to pool money on starting a communal effort, raise money and put it in the bank to be safe. Then a thing happens. They find out that one man swooped in and removed their money just before it, so he has a lot and they don't. And he happens to put a vault nearby that contains the money. And so the rest of the film is them trying to work out what to do about that and eventually hopefully get the money back for themselves.

Okay, I know nothing about the corralito, but having seen a few "economic events", I could guess the basics and the precise details don't really matter. What we have is a very rural take on the heist/revenge movie, that while being comedic is also about a father who loses his wife and doesn't want to put his son at any risk.

Decent movie, moves along well, and keeps the stakes personal. And doesn't exactly end up as you'd think.


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Wednesday, 8 July 2020

The Boookselllers

I went to the movies! (How dare I! Actually, it is fine for New Zealand, and indeed the Welling Film Society is back up and running. Although that is at the Embassy and this movie was at the Lighthouse Cuba, and I was a bit more worried about space, but I was able to get a good enough seat that was away from other people.)

Anyways, this movie is about, as it says on the tin, booksellers, in particular the booksellers around New York. We talk with various people who are booksellers, mainly of rarer items, about how they got into it and the issues they are now facing. Which is a few. Some see the internet as a good thing... many don't. A lot of them will be "aging" out soon and think the age of the bookseller is coming to an end, but there are some younger ones who are quite excited (and by younger, they look to be around my age). In all, they all have large collections crammed in small spaces and they basically view a book as an object and not something to actually sit down and read.

This is mainly talking heads about their lives. I would have liked to have seen some more about how they deal with books and such, but that wasn't this movie. Most of the heads are elderly, so you definitely get a large dose of their world view, especially with the more pessimistic edge of things coming to an end. (I can't say I've been buying tons of physical books myself.) While there are the younger ones, the film doesn't spend much time with them nor their ideas, beyond saying "hey, we're not out yet."

While being a bookseller has an interest for me (and my bookishness), ultimately I don't think that lifestyle is for me.


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