The Discreet Bourgeois

Possessed by an urgency to make sure all this stuff I love doesn't just disappear

The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

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  1. Mother (Bong Joon-ho)
  2. Videodrome (David Cronenberg)
  3. The Devil’s Backbone (Benicio del Toro)
  4. All About Eve (Joseph Mankiewicz)
  5. Black Peter (Miloš Forman)
  6. Local Hero (Bill Forsythe)
  7. Mank (David Fincher)
  8. Housekeeping (Bill Forsythe)
  9. The Christmas Setup (Pat Mills)
  10. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)

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1- Mother is the third Bong Joon-Ho film I have seen, along with The Host and Parasite. The wicked humor of the other two is missing from Mother, but that might be what makes the horror so unsettling.  The creature in The Host and the shenanigans happening in the rich people’s house in Parasite are so grotestesque as to become intentionally funny. No laughing here.  The mother’s unswerving devotion to her son makes us all complicit in the ending.

2- I remembered when Videodrome came out,  it seemed prescient about where the world of video ‘entertainment’ was heading.   If you want prescient, I suggest another look at Network instead. That film is astounding in its accuracy in pointing to where the world of ‘entertainment’ was headed.  What seemed deep and profound and scary in Videodrome now seems, to me at least, very silly.  Also, the fact that the terror comes from VHS tapes, a format that is now two generations away from the streaming we mostly use now, gives an unfortunate datedness to the film.  That is not the films fault, of course, but it makes it even harder to be frightened of it the way one was back in 1983.

3- But The Devil’s Backbone is scarier and more profound than when first experienced.  I have not liked the films of Guillermo del Toro very much. I find them dull and cluttered.  But not this masterpiece. The setting of a remote orphanage at the end of the Spanish Civil War, located at what seems the edge of the world, is so potent.  The fear is palpable throughout the whole film, but it is also beautiful.  I am not sure if the gorgeous but horribly evil groundskeeper played by Eduardo Noriega is a metaphor for the utter nihilism and vicious repression that the end of the Civil War brought to Spain.  I would like to discuss this with more familiar with the subject. But I will say that Noriega joins Alain Delon and Anthony Perkins in the roll call of impossibly beautiful men who play overwhelmingly evil characters.

4- The charms of the Czech New Wave are too elusive for me.  I feel like the movies are playing in front of me, but just out of my grasp to engage them.  They are certainly not ‘difficult’ films.  The tone just confuses me.  Are they whimsical as well as tragic? Scathing political satire as well as gentle loving portrayals of ‘everyman’? I am not sure, but I usually come away from them still feeling hungry. Black Peter was no exception. Glad I saw it though.

5- Local Hero and Housekeeping are the two other films by Bill Forsythe which I loved at their respective premieres.  For me, they  both were another chance to live in worlds created by the master who gave us Gregory’s Girl. Gregory’s Girl is the lightest of the three, but it is a work of genius and today outshines the other two.  I remember at the time I couldn’t convince people that Gregory’s Girl was greater.   It doesn’t really matter what I think (but Gregory’s Girl is greater)

6- I tricked myself into giving Gay Rom-Coms another chance and watched The Christmas Set-up.  I should have remembered what I wrote here .

7- Unforgiven is too mammoth an enterprise to be dealt with in one of these ‘Last Ten….” posts.  I hope I get the nerve up to write a post that does it justice.

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