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*3
11/365: The Grandmaster (2013, Wong Kar-Wai)
“You didn’t return it to me. I took it back.”Luscious eye-candy, with the trademark mood of Wong Kar-Wai. Superbly shot and staged fight scenes showing him at the top of his technical game. It feels as though if he was tethered down too much by the Ip Man story rather than inspired by it. It feels incomplete, not at a narrative level (which most Wong Kar-Wai movies are prone to be) but in a thematic level, which is surprising. It talks about a lot of things, without saying anything at all. His best work (Chungking Express, In the Mood For Love)focuses on the themes of longing and doomed romance. There are times when he achieves that here, but most of time, it seems like it’s all over the place.

11/365: The Grandmaster (2013, Wong Kar-Wai)

“You didn’t return it to me. I took it back.”

Luscious eye-candy, with the trademark mood of Wong Kar-Wai. Superbly shot and staged fight scenes showing him at the top of his technical game. It feels as though if he was tethered down too much by the Ip Man story rather than inspired by it. It feels incomplete, not at a narrative level (which most Wong Kar-Wai movies are prone to be) but in a thematic level, which is surprising. It talks about a lot of things, without saying anything at all. His best work (Chungking Express, In the Mood For Love)focuses on the themes of longing and doomed romance. There are times when he achieves that here, but most of time, it seems like it’s all over the place.

*5
10/365: Zero Dark Thirty (2012, Kathryn Bigelow)
“You can help yourself by being truthful.”With its incendiary subject matter handled with careful sobriety, perhaps the only way to handle it, Kathryn Bigelow chronicles “the greatest manhunt in history”. But it is a manhunt that is not concerned with the man being hunted, a man defined by, but made to be bigger than his crimes. The end goal is all that matters, by any means necessary. It’s a revenge thriller that centers around the revenge itself, rather than reasons that led to it. By barely acknowledging the “why”, the “how” indeed becomes more resonant.Without glorifying the mission, the methods or even the reasons behind the hunt for Bin Laden, it manages to ask the questions that we dared not ask in the midst of the post-9/11 bloodlust. At what cost? And more importantly, more than a decade later, if it was still worth it.

10/365: Zero Dark Thirty (2012, Kathryn Bigelow)

“You can help yourself by being truthful.”

With its incendiary subject matter handled with careful sobriety, perhaps the only way to handle it, Kathryn Bigelow chronicles “the greatest manhunt in history”. But it is a manhunt that is not concerned with the man being hunted, a man defined by, but made to be bigger than his crimes. The end goal is all that matters, by any means necessary.

It’s a revenge thriller that centers around the revenge itself, rather than reasons that led to it. By barely acknowledging the “why”, the “how” indeed becomes more resonant.

Without glorifying the mission, the methods or even the reasons behind the hunt for Bin Laden, it manages to ask the questions that we dared not ask in the midst of the post-9/11 bloodlust. At what cost? And more importantly, more than a decade later, if it was still worth it.

*2
9/365: Frankenweenie (2012, Tim Burton)
“They like what science gives them, but not the questions science asks.”For all of Burton’s skill, he’s often criticized for either shamelessly borrowing from his macabre influences or flagrantly repeating himself. It’s easy to hurl criticism at an artist that sticks too much to a style and formula than it is to give credit when it actually works. This is one of those instances. Not groundbreaking in any respect, but Burton’s commitment to the universe he creates from different elements of classic horror movies can be enough to win some people over. Delivers everything it promises to deliver, which is what’s good and bad about it.

9/365: Frankenweenie (2012, Tim Burton)

“They like what science gives them, but not the questions science asks.”

For all of Burton’s skill, he’s often criticized for either shamelessly borrowing from his macabre influences or flagrantly repeating himself. It’s easy to hurl criticism at an artist that sticks too much to a style and formula than it is to give credit when it actually works. This is one of those instances. Not groundbreaking in any respect, but Burton’s commitment to the universe he creates from different elements of classic horror movies can be enough to win some people over. Delivers everything it promises to deliver, which is what’s good and bad about it.

*3
8/365: Pierrot Le Fou (1965, Jean-Luc Godard)
“Poetry is a game of loser-take-all.”Godard still manages to confound and frustrate viewers with films of his that are well over 40 years old. While Breathless is full of fun and heart, this one takes the concept of “a film in and of itself” to a whole new level. Plotted like a collage, it’s a film that’s not about its story nor its characters. It doesn’t work as a movie. It works more as a pop culture dumpsite. The perceived indulgence masquerades itself as an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema. And vice versa.Godard takes a familiar skeleton and dresses it up with clothes from a different skeleton. The result is something frustrating and admittedly endearing at the same time. Many will be turned off by its lack of care for the audience. And many will be enchanted by it for the same reason.

8/365: Pierrot Le Fou (1965, Jean-Luc Godard)

“Poetry is a game of loser-take-all.”

Godard still manages to confound and frustrate viewers with films of his that are well over 40 years old. While Breathless is full of fun and heart, this one takes the concept of “a film in and of itself” to a whole new level. Plotted like a collage, it’s a film that’s not about its story nor its characters. It doesn’t work as a movie. It works more as a pop culture dumpsite. The perceived indulgence masquerades itself as an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema. And vice versa.

Godard takes a familiar skeleton and dresses it up with clothes from a different skeleton. The result is something frustrating and admittedly endearing at the same time. Many will be turned off by its lack of care for the audience. And many will be enchanted by it for the same reason.

7/365: The Lumiere Brothers’ First Films (1996, Edited by Thierry Fremaux and Brian Kelley, Narrated by Bertrand Tavernier)An almost spontaneously pieced together documentary showcasing the Lumiere Brothers’ first films. A casual narration by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier and non-sentimental treatment of the brothers’ features make for a refreshing take on the subject. Narration can seem redundant at certain points, working more like a commentary. Still, worth a watch if only to realize how artistic and painterly the brothers’ composition of frames are and their sometimes surprising subject matter.

7/365: The Lumiere Brothers’ First Films (1996, Edited by Thierry Fremaux and Brian Kelley, Narrated by Bertrand Tavernier)

An almost spontaneously pieced together documentary showcasing the Lumiere Brothers’ first films. A casual narration by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier and non-sentimental treatment of the brothers’ features make for a refreshing take on the subject. Narration can seem redundant at certain points, working more like a commentary. Still, worth a watch if only to realize how artistic and painterly the brothers’ composition of frames are and their sometimes surprising subject matter.

*2
6/365: In the Heat of the Night (1967, Norman Jewison)
“There’s white time in jail and there’s colored time in jail. The worst kind of time you can do is colored time.”Rarely is a film so perfectly crafted in every way and also asks the important questions along the way. At once a murder mystery and also a discussion on race, it is plotted so precisely that you will sometimes forget to breathe. Sydney Poitier delivers the immortal, “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” line but really, the star of this movie is the late, great Rod Steiger who turns in a career-best performance.My only regret is not having discovered this movie earlier and known that it would be one of my favorite films of all time.

6/365: In the Heat of the Night (1967, Norman Jewison)

“There’s white time in jail and there’s colored time in jail. The worst kind of time you can do is colored time.”

Rarely is a film so perfectly crafted in every way and also asks the important questions along the way. At once a murder mystery and also a discussion on race, it is plotted so precisely that you will sometimes forget to breathe. Sydney Poitier delivers the immortal, “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” line but really, the star of this movie is the late, great Rod Steiger who turns in a career-best performance.

My only regret is not having discovered this movie earlier and known that it would be one of my favorite films of all time.

*4
5/365: Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell)
“Whatever I photograph, I always lose.”Apparently, a film so evil that it ended the career of its director. People were afraid to see it and shunned it from the cinema. More than 40 years later, the story now seems banal, the gore is laughable, and what people claimed to scare them years ago now seems ridiculously tame by comparison to what we see everyday in daytime television.
The film’s true power is in the questions it asks the audience rather than what it shows. It’s not so much the character’s crimes that scare us, but the satisfaction we get from us watching him commit these crimes. The film makes accomplices out of the viewers.Takes the nature of voyeurism to uncomfortable heights and never brings it back.

5/365: Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell)

“Whatever I photograph, I always lose.”

Apparently, a film so evil that it ended the career of its director. People were afraid to see it and shunned it from the cinema. More than 40 years later, the story now seems banal, the gore is laughable, and what people claimed to scare them years ago now seems ridiculously tame by comparison to what we see everyday in daytime television.

The film’s true power is in the questions it asks the audience rather than what it shows. It’s not so much the character’s crimes that scare us, but the satisfaction we get from us watching him commit these crimes. The film makes accomplices out of the viewers.

Takes the nature of voyeurism to uncomfortable heights and never brings it back.

*1
4/365: In the Company of Men (1997, Neil LaBute)
“Never trust anything that can bleed for one week and not die.”It is a film about characters so rotten and disgusting at their core that they can’t help but be fascinating. A chilling portrait of male culture and sexual power play. There is behavior here that can make your skin crawl, not because they are inherently evil, which they are, but because it is articulated and rationalized so well. The perfectly cast Aaron Eckhart and the superb cutthroat script makes this a totally engrossing watch. Just remember to shower after.

4/365: In the Company of Men (1997, Neil LaBute)

“Never trust anything that can bleed for one week and not die.”

It is a film about characters so rotten and disgusting at their core that they can’t help but be fascinating. A chilling portrait of male culture and sexual power play. There is behavior here that can make your skin crawl, not because they are inherently evil, which they are, but because it is articulated and rationalized so well. The perfectly cast Aaron Eckhart and the superb cutthroat script makes this a totally engrossing watch. Just remember to shower after.

3/365: The Ice Storm (1997, Ang Lee)
"It’s really space, not numbers. It’s space. And it’s perfect space. But only in your head."
This isn’t a movie about America’s loss of innocence as much as it is an affirmation of it. A touching, sometimes too obvious but never cynical, outsider’s look at America under Nixon, betrayed and lied to.
Absolutely elegant and graceful direction as you would expect from Ang Lee, allowing the characters to breathe in their confined spaces of guilt. A far better movie about the collapse of suburban family life than the overrated American Beauty, only because it shows no easy cynicism or makes the characters suffer for no reason.

3/365: The Ice Storm (1997, Ang Lee)

"It’s really space, not numbers. It’s space. And it’s perfect space. But only in your head."

This isn’t a movie about America’s loss of innocence as much as it is an affirmation of it. A touching, sometimes too obvious but never cynical, outsider’s look at America under Nixon, betrayed and lied to.

Absolutely elegant and graceful direction as you would expect from Ang Lee, allowing the characters to breathe in their confined spaces of guilt. A far better movie about the collapse of suburban family life than the overrated American Beauty, only because it shows no easy cynicism or makes the characters suffer for no reason.

*1
2/365: Saboteur (1942, Alfred Hitchcock)
"Why is it that you sneer every time you refer to this country? You’ve done pretty well here. I don’t get it." 
All the classic Hitch tropes are here- the wrongfully accused man, being chased by the police, unraveling a bigger conspiracy, suspenseful climax at a famous landmark, etc. This one ticks all the boxes, and I mean that in a half-positive, half-negative way.
An almost flawless B-movie plotted at a breakneck speed, marred only by a forgettable main character and some odd script choices (a rendezvous with a circus troupe). To compare it with his classics would be unfair though. It’s a perfectly serviceable thriller.
Better to view it as a preview of things Hitchcock would eventually master and elevate to high art in the 50’s and 60’s.

2/365: Saboteur (1942, Alfred Hitchcock)

"Why is it that you sneer every time you refer to this country? You’ve done pretty well here. I don’t get it." 

All the classic Hitch tropes are here- the wrongfully accused man, being chased by the police, unraveling a bigger conspiracy, suspenseful climax at a famous landmark, etc. This one ticks all the boxes, and I mean that in a half-positive, half-negative way.

An almost flawless B-movie plotted at a breakneck speed, marred only by a forgettable main character and some odd script choices (a rendezvous with a circus troupe). To compare it with his classics would be unfair though. It’s a perfectly serviceable thriller.

Better to view it as a preview of things Hitchcock would eventually master and elevate to high art in the 50’s and 60’s.