The besties review
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Last Hurrah for Chivalry
The narrative is inconsistent, the acting is cheesy (on purpose?), and the action is awesome… so it’s a bit of a mixed bag. But the second half of the film focuses on a cohesive storyline that plays Woo’s strengths, so you can’t help but feel satisfied when that final song starts to play. Last Hurrah is my introduction to John Woo and the martial arts genre in general, so I look forward to diving deeper into the filmographies of both. I’m also looking forward to watching The Umbrellas of Cherbourg so I can see why Criterion chose these two for a double feature. Stay tuned!
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The sung dialogue? Inventive.
The design? Rich.
The colors? Beautiful.
The story? Basic.
The music? Repetitive.
I don't want to be a downer, but some character development and song structure would have been nice. I guess I liked this, but overall I just found myself wanting more.
If the whole movie were as exciting as the last nine minutes, I think I’d like this. Unfortunately, it took a whole hour of meandering set-up to get to that good stuff, and then it just ended. I’m a bit disappointed because I really enjoyed Ulmer’s The Black Cat when I saw it a couple years back, and I had hoped this would be just as good.
In Touki Bouki, Djibril Diop Mambéty smartly balances gorgeous, real life locations with a quasi-surrealist narrative to create an original fairytale about freedom, class, and colonialism. While I wasn’t totally taken by the film as a whole, I appreciate the way Mambéty allowed me to find a little something in every shot— be it a symbol, a metaphor, or a question.
It seems like African films just don’t seem to be talked about/taught as frequently as films from France, Japan, etc., so I’m glad I finally got to catch this one on the Criterion Channel!
A twisty little period drama with an amazing central performance from Nina Hoss. Reminded me a lot of Cold War— both are war-time European love stories about a singer and pianist who come together after being separated. But the similarities don’t stop there. Both films are intimate, classical, and melodramatic (in a good way), and they both have closing scenes that are undeniably moving. Definitely planning on watching Christian Petzold’s most recent film, Transit, soon.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!
David Merkle rules.