Film Reviews by joannajuki

Welcome to joannajuki's film reviews page. joannajuki has written 11 reviews and rated 63 films.

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Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir

A tainted legacy

(Edit) 23/09/2020

A very interesting look at the career of this director, but a strange and depressing context.

The film skates very lightly over the hateful and bitter child abuse incident that has bleached out Polanski's reputation and this film could never be made today. It comes across as blindly flattering. There is little introspection from Polanski about what went on in his mind at the time he carried out the crime, and no real explanation of why he was allowed to escape justice, although he comes across as deeply and sincerely sorry. The interviewer clearly holds Polanski dear as a friend and artist - Braunsberg doesn't delve. The young victim, now an adult, speaks to the viewer to say that she has moved on, has forgiven, and that exposure and continued publicity have caused her additional hurt.

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Supernatural Series

The BFI has wasted space on the episode I watched.

(Edit) 23/09/2020

We only watched one episode, but it was outdated and tedious, with theatrical acting, cheap sets, predictable plotting, comically overweight soundtrack.

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The Milk of Sorrow

The high desert plateau of love

(Edit) 23/09/2020

This film had an atmosphere of tremendous calm and gentleness, joy and celebration in the meso-American culture. Part I, however, was over-the-borderline weird, as the plot revolved around Fausta having believed that she could ward off the horror of war-rape, by inserting a potato into her vagina. Part II was much stronger, better plotted and more moving. It becomes clear that after her mother's death Fausta is a victim of familial sexual abuse from her father, and in a mutually caustic relationship with her more cynical sister - (the weird hasn't entirely dissipated).

She has now grown a little older and wiser,and falls in love, only to sacrifice it all for a material possession, a simple, single piece of jewellery. She is irrationally attached to this gem, and loses everything - even her personal honor.

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Climates

Brilliant acting

(Edit) 23/09/2020

This was a rich depiction of a relationship in dissolution. The acting was stellar - subtle, insightful, bitter and violent by turns as the story reveals brinkmanship and dishonesty of a marriage and adultery. Never have I witnessed violence between man and woman so savagely, honestly and brutally played out.

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Rust and Bone

A taste of ice water

(Edit) 23/09/2020

Jaques Audiard doesn't pussyfoot around the hard edge of French society. There is a repetitive onslaught of physical brutality. After a fight at a club, a beautiful girl gets injured and with a bloody nose. Ali, a struggling single dad, who acts as a bouncer there, kindly drops Stephanie home, and seeing that her boyfriend is jealous and none too gentle, leaves his number. When the girl is later mutilated and left disabled by her work at a seaworld show, she rings him a few months into recovery. Tough, encouraging, friendly but unromantic - he gradually draws her out of her shell of collapse and brings her to the sea, to swim and start on a road of emotional recovery. Meanwhile, Ali's career as a backstreet (illegal) fighter is progressing and Stephanie encourages him and starts to take on the role of agent. The acting is good, the relationships are believable, but hard as Hell. This is tough, impoverished life in France without gloss or sentiment.

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Woman of the Dunes

Pure and Fearsome

(Edit) 01/07/2019

This is a hypnotic film. A man is captured by a hidden dune-locked community, but his jailer is a beautiful woman. They are locked together in a life and death struggle against the encroaching sand, and while he takes every opportunity to escape, they can't escape their physical attraction. The grit intrudes and binds them, but she shyly asks, aren't the women in Tokyo more beautiful? He brushes aside this question with a derisive "Don't be stupid."

Pain, pregnancy, quicksand, conspiracy - an uneven playing field between man and woman that sinks them both. The long, intimate takes, the silence of the characters, emphasize inexorable and threatening presence of the sands. I wanted to see it again, having seen it in the 70s, but I still don't remember the ending.

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Eureka

Disturbing under a placid reflective surface

(Edit) 08/03/2019

I couldn't find this film believable, as beautifully atmospheric as it was - the deep emotion and angry passion that we were to accept stepped over the boundaries of civilization.

Traumatized by the loss of their parents (It is not clear how or when their parents died), and having witnessed a bus-jack in a nearly empty bus where the perpetrator is gunned down in an empty parking lot, two children - a boy and a girl, are left mute and pathologically withdrawn. Like birth twins, they have a telepathic link to each others' feelings, even thoughts, but we don't hear them speak or comfort each other. Instead, most of the film revolves around the gutsy driver of the bus, who brings order, discipline and love to their chaotic home where they are just about surviving together.

Trying to start anew, the driver gets a job as a mechanic and there is attraction between him and a beautiful young woman there - but she is murdered. He's under suspicion and jailed, and it's not made clear how he is cleared.

He's in the cell, tapping on the wall in communication with the next cell. Then he arrives at the home of the twins. The anti-hero also arrives - a snide, arrogant cousin. But the bus driver sweeps them all up in his enthusiasm for going on the run to make a new start, in a very tastefully renovated school bus. There is a beautiful and hopeful scene of their initial exploration of the road.

But weirdly, the next pretty young woman the driver is attracted to, a waitress in a cafe, is also murdered. And when the murderer is revealed, the driver becomes violently but honourably defensive of him.

The auteur seems to be saying that the murder of (pretty female) innocents is a natural reaction, even a correct reaction, to life-threatening trauma to the male. And that self-harm and suicide is the natural reaction of a young girl to the same.

I just can't go with that. It's a little bit No.

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Drag Me to Hell

American Banking nightmare

(Edit) 23/09/2018

There's a bank and there's an innocent loans officer. The pretty loans officer repossesses a witch's house (read: Romany type with avenging relatives), the next thing we know special effects are let loose. Cue: protective but powerless boyfriend.

We could feel sympathy for the old hag, but of course we don't because she's "Carrie", grown old, and we do feel sorry for the pretty loans officer, even though she repossessed out of dutiful obligation to the banking system.

I will say this for the film - I have never seen institutional sexual discrimination so accurately portrayed. Here is a young woman who is working hard and trying to make her way in the world, and always having to work twice as hard as the man who can so easily schmoozy with the boss.

Is that why she played hardball against a poor granny, was it a personality clash or culture clash? We never know - but I could relax about the horror, it was over the top enough to hear Mom saying "it's only a movie".

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Girlhood

In the banlieue

(Edit) 23/09/2018

This was an excellent depiction of a good girl growing hard, to keep pace with her social needs. Who could resist wanting to be with the terrible foursome when they were having fun? Who could resist playing bad girl? Puts a darker slant on believing in yourself, in line with everything I've seen about poverty in urban, multicultural society.

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Into the Abyss

Texan Gated Community

(Edit) 16/01/2017

Werner Herzog is a bit like a cruel psychiatrist, refusing to offer his viewers any emotional support as he leads them down into the darker labyrinth of the human personality. Thankfully, he never spells out that "It could be you". He remains objective, probing, seeming to almost empathize, to almost offer forgiveness for the perpetrators' bloody murders, but then, almost ruefully stating with abstemiousness to one of the murderers, "I don't have to like you". The boy - he seemed no more than a boy - looked slightly crestfallen for a moment. Perhaps he thought Herzog was more than just a skillful anatomist.

There was quite a lot of footage of the murder scene, the victims and the results of death by violence. But the more disturbing inclusion, and the more shocking, was the wider scope of social landscape.

Here is a woman baking cookies in her big kitchen, in her big house, in her gated community. Here is her blood dragged across the garage floor. Here are the gates banged shut, too late to prevent the crime.

But then the wider pictured- one of the young men victims, who was killed simply for entering the gated community and letting the thieves and murderers through, was also en mired in death and crime. His father had done time for murder, his brother was arrested at his funeral for breaking parole, his grandfather wouldn't accept the $2.00 collect call from the brother to let him know there had been a victim among their own family.

The other young man's sister spoke at length to camera. Virtually every member of her family had died prematurely, from ill health or violence.

It was apparent that both killers (or were there three? It wasn't clear) were guilty. One got death. The other got time, a girlfriend who looked and sounded like a famous French actress, and a baby through artificial insemination and sperm taken out through the prison gates.

The first was goofy-looking and, (since he had found God), lacked any fear of his future. He had a irrepressible smile.

The second, firm, stern and handsome, was where still waters ran deep. His father, also in prison for life for murder, spoke in tears to the jury about the disadvantages and neglect abundant in his childhood, and his own guilt and sorrow for not providing a good family home.

The film was too distant to be moving and made no commentary about the wider social scene. It left me feeling nauseous at the shallowness and brutality of humanity. Its redeeming feature, to dissuade us from capital punishment, was handled lightly. It was most eloquently voiced by an executioner with over a hundred deaths under his belt. Executing his first woman death row prisoner, a prisoner who thanked and forgave him in advance, had given him his first taste of horror.

There was possibility that this man was condemned to die for a crime he hadn't committed, and yet the film succeeded in its aim of convincing the viewer that death row is not a civilized solution to other violent crimes.

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Samsara

Now I need to get Russian Ark

(Edit) 05/04/2014

This is a beautiful, visual melange of the natural world and the social world. I hardly ever buy videos for myself I might actually want to buy this hypnotic video.

It really reminds me of Russian Ark, although it's a different director - it has the same hypnotic quality. Dialogue and plot-free, just visual and trance-inducing. Some of it was scary and ugly but on the whole it was just amazing cinematography.

I particularly like the scene of the dancing in the prison. It was really energetic, heartfelt dancing and gave a sense of the inner freedom of the prisoners.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.