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Rating History

Voskhozhdeniye (The Ascent)
14 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

This film does away with hefty doses of action in favor of multiple character moments. And holy hell are the characters fascinating. Sotnikov and Rybak make for such a diverse pair who are well developed through a variety of effective moments which provide insight to their characterizations, all leading up to a truly devastating final act. Also, the religious symbolism feels neither on-the-nose nor didactic as it's cleverly woven into the film.

Paranoid Park
Paranoid Park (2007)
14 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Well acted and exceptionally well shot with a dreamlike quality which is hard to come by nowadays, but the movie left me feeling cold. For instance, the non-linear chronology of the plot made for a decent "slowly unfolding puzzle" effect which comes with this structure, but since it didn't have much of an effect beyond this, I feel like I would've just preferred a linear structure. In addition, some of the supporting characters could've used a lot more meat. Forgettable, but watchable.

Random Harvest
14 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The more I think about this, the less likely I think I am to revisit it again, but it still has its strengths. Greer Garson and Ronald Colman are strong and charming together and the general outline of the plot is fine. It's just that the film could've benefited by fleshing out the characters, specifically near the opening and the final act as major plot advancements left me unmoved and slightly disappointed. A bit dated, but still good.

Sult (Hunger)
Sult (Hunger) (1966)
14 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

A clever character portrait of a starving and overly proud writer who talks down to various people he encounters and refuses to accept any money as he thinks other people need it more than him. In reality though, he sinks further and further down into the depths as one of his writings after another get rejected and he often faces threats of being evicted from his residences. I'm still mulling over a particular sub-plot in the film which struck me as on-the-nose, but I still highly recommend this one.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc)
14 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

For quite a while, my relationship with Dreyer has been a bit of a mixed bag. I thought Ordet was quite good, Vampyr was pretty decent, but I didn't care that much for Day of Wrath. For that reason, I put off watching this film for quite a while until a few days ago when I decided that my tastes likely evolved since watching his other films (it's been a couple years since I watched one of his films). Fortunately, I was correct in this assumption as this proved to be quite an impressive feat which nails certain aspects with such perfection that it sometimes feels more like a horror movie than a drama. One of the tactics which gives it this effect is the brilliant camerawork. While earlier films experimented in close-up shots, they don't possess the same effect as this film. The shots of the judges and the clergymen are shot in high contrast often at low angles and are bathed in bright light. The lack of makeup reveals the cracks and crevices of their faces, making their appearances seem quite menacing. By contrast, the shots of Joan are filmed with softer grays which further drive home how overwhelmed she is. Since she doesn't have any makeup as well, her appearance seems solemn. Also, the fact that the set design consists primarily of blank walls helps to bring extra attention to these details. This film is also quite fascinating to watch due to Falconetti's brilliant performance. To capture all her finely balanced nuance, Dreyer filmed the same scenes multiple times, so he could pick just the right expression for each one. His work clearly shows, because yes, the film contains a lot of repetition, but I think Dreyer's handling of Falconetti brings nuance to the repetition as every shot of her seems meticulous and precise in the way how subtle differences in her reactions can be clearly observed. Overall, she gave a truly phenomenal performance and she deserves all the praise she received. Along with Richard Einhorn's evocative soundtrack, this film definitely blew me away. Now, maybe I might want to consider rewatching some of his other films to see if my opinion changes on them.