Movies Watched in 2019 Part 2: Three Amigos and Bibi Andersson Edition

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This is a continuation of notes on movies I’m watching this year.  In this batch of films, I thought I’d do ten with a three amigos theme, based on the Mexican directors who have won five of the last six best directing Academy Awards. They worked often with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, so I thought I’d catch at least five of his films. There was a lot of coverage of the work of actress Bibi Andersson after she passed away, so I figured I’d see five of her films, which would overlap with an effort to catch five Swedish flicks.

Movie #51/ New Movie #36/ 2000s Movie #2/ Anime Film #1: The Girl Who Jumped Through Time
This was a fun combination of anime coming of age comedy and sci-fi as a high school student makes her life better through time-travel, but slowly realizes the consequences for others.
8/10
Movie #52/ New Movie #37/ 1980s Movie #4/ Anime Film #2: Mobile Suit Patlabor
The 1980s mech film does a decent job setting up a world in which Gundam-style mech are used for more mundane purposes like construction, with a relatively by the books police investigation into a possible effort by a madman to control the robots for the wrong purposes.
8/10
Movie #53/ New Movie #38/ 2000s Movie #3/ Swedish Film #1: Songs From The Second Floor
I got interested in Roy Anderrson’s “Living” trilogy when a film list declared it was the best example of film production design ever. That’s probably a stretch, but this series of interconnected shorts has a surreal and bleak deadpan quality to it, that is definitely worth checking out.
8/10

Movie #54/  2000s Movie #4: The Producers
Some aspects of the Broadway adaptation do pale in comparison to the 1960s original, especially when Matthew Broderick’s Leo Bloom is compared to Gene Wilder’s original. This version is a bit duller, but does have some stuff to recommend it, especially Gary Beach reprising his Tony-winning take on the hapless director looped into the madness.
7/10

You the living

Movie #55/ New Movie #39/ 2000s Movie #5/ Swedish Film #2: You, The Living
Roy Andersson’s follow-up interesting, but a step down. Dry and bleak, but without the shock of the new of seeing this technique for the first time in Songs From the Second Floor, and with a slightly less satisfying focus on recurring characters. Your mileage may vary.
7/10

Movie #56/ 1980s Movie #5/ New Movie #40/ Three Amigos Film #1: Three Amigos
The Three Amigos is a decent send-up of Hollywood Westerns, with solid gags and camaraderie between Chase, Short and Martin.
7/10

Movie #57/ New Movie #40/ 2019 Movie #5/ Seen In Theaters #7: Avengers Endgame
Like Infinity War, it’s an odd film to measure since it isn’t mainly consumed as one movie, but as the culmination of a decade-long saga spanning over twenty movies. It does provide a satisfying conclusion to one of the most ambitious film projects ever, so it definitely deserves credit there. The central story is pretty decent, with the heroes dealing with the aftermath of a villain’s victory, but much of the appeal is in the fitting endings for some of the best film heroes ever.
9/10

Movie #58/ 2018 Movie #5: Into the Spider-Verse
Watching it again it definitely holds up on a lot of levels. Miles Morales has a great central arc, as a kid dealing with a lot of stuff who finds himself part of the Spider-Man legacy. Spider-characters from different universes are introduced seemlessly, and the animation is stunning. The Oscar for Best Animated film, and the general consensus that it was an obvious no-brainer, are well-deserved.
10/10

Movie #59/ New Movie #41/ 2000s Movie #6/ Finnish Film #2: Sauna
It’s got a solid concept, as two Finnish brothers work as cartographers mapping out the Russian/ Finnish border in the aftermath of a peace settlement. Some shady stuff occurs before they meet up with Russians at a strange villain where an eerie presence awaits. It’s not perfect, but it does get an extra point for remaining undeniably creepy.
7/10

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Movie #60/ 1960s Movie #11/ New Film #42/ Bibi Andersson Film #1: Duel at Diablo
An interesting effort just before the New Hollywood arrived in a Western that acknowledges that the Native Americans had legitimate grievances, features Sydney Poitier as a cynical former soldier turned mercenary, and Bergman collaborator Bibi Andersson as an Apache abductee who thinks they might be better than the regular Americans.
6/10

Movie #61/  2010s Movie #2 : Warrior
An underdog sports movie on steroids in the sense that it isn’t a set-up to one battle. It’s an underdog in a tournament where he has to tackle numerous tough guys, where the fight against the sport’s most powerful figure isn’t even the last one. Solid cast with Hardy, Edgerton and Nick Nolte as a deeply flawed mentor.
9/10
Movie #62/ 1950s Movie #5: Mister Roberts
This John Ford Navy dramedy has a hell of a cast and uses it well; James Cagney as a strict ambitious admiral, Jack Lemmon (winning an Oscar) as a slacker ensign, William Powell as the elder statesman ship doctor, and Henry Fonda as an executive officer who wants to be where the action is. It’s generally enjoyable take on the monotony of war, and a power struggle that ensues.
8/10
Movie #63/  2000s Movie #7/ Three Amigos Film #2/ New Film #43/ Spanish Language Film #1: Amores Perros
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s debut film certainly doesn’t feel like a first film; an above-average Pulp Fiction knock-off maybe. It tells three intersecting stories in Mexico City, connected by characters’ doomed love of dogs and a car accident. There’s potential for think-pieces in the question about whether it’s more unsettling to watch dogfighting scenes than violence against humans.
8/10
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Movie #64/  2010s Movie #3/ Three Amigos Film #3/ Emmanuel Lubezki Film #1: Gravity
If you have the opportunity to watch it in 3D in a theater it may be a 10/10, because the spectacle is incredible. On a DVD on a regular TV, it’s a decent survival story, with an excellent performance by Sandra Bullock as a desperate scientist not all that sure she has anything to go back to.
8/10

Movie #65/  2010s Movie #4/ Three Amigos Film #4/ Emmanuel Lubezki Film #2: Birdman
This film highlights several of Iñárritu’s skills as a director: He gets several great performances in one narrative with such regularity it’s easy to overlook (this film has three nominated performances; The Revenant had two; 21 Grams had two more; all were well-deserved.) He tackles familiar and unfamiliar locations with power and confidence (He is not a creature of Broadway or 1990s Hollywood.) He raises questions and conflicts that aren’t fully resolved (Burton’s Hollywood has-been VS the authenticity of Norton’s critical darling; the daughter wanting to be more modern and media-savvy.) And he uses gimmicks in interesting ways, with this film coming across as an unbroken shot.
9/10

Movie #66/  1990s Movie #2/ Three Amigos Film #5/ New Film #44/ Spanish Language Film #/ Emmanuel Lubezki Film #3: Sólo con Tu Pareja/ Love In The Time of Hysteria
Cuaron’s debut about a likable cad tricked into believing he has AIDs is funny and goes into some dark places. The cast is pretty decent, even if there are some likely inevitable issues with tonal consistency.
7/10

Movie #67/ 1950s Movie #6/ Criterion Edition #11/ Swedish Film #3/ Bibi Andersson Film #2: Wild Strawberries
Tremendous look at a man’s soul. Probably the best of the subgenre of people looking back at their life.
10/10

Movie #68/  2000s Movie #8/ Emmanuel Lubezki Film #4/ Criterion Edition #12 : The New World (Theatrical Edition)
I probably enjoyed the Extended Edition a little more, but the theatrical edition gives a satisfying sense of a mythic story that will be relevant centuries later as it’s happening.
9/10

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Movie #69/  New Film #45/ 1990s Movie #3/ Three Amigos Film #6/ Spanish Language/ Criterion Edition #13: Cronos
Del Toro’s debut shows his confidence as a young director, telling what could be a horror story as more of a fable, as an old shopkeeper gains immortality, and realizes the cost. The extras in the Criterion Edition highlight just how much work has gone on behind the scenes (IE- He knows details about the characters’ families that aren’t expressed in these 90 minutes.)
8/10
Movie #70/  2010s Movie #5/  Emmanuel Lubezki Film #5 : Tree of Life
It takes a while to realize what this Malick film is about, and someone else might have a different impression. It’s a very different coming of age story, often beautiful and dreamlike, and at some points quite cosmic.
10/10
Movie #71/ New Movie #46/ 1920s Movie #3/ Criterion Edition #14: The Love Parade
Lubitsch’s comedy s arguably the first standard Hollywood musical, so some of the rough edges in sound quality are understandable, and well made up by the star power of a young Maurice Chevalier, and the film debut of Jeanette MacDonald. It collapses a bit in the second half, when it shifts into a different and less satisfying story with a 1920s take on gender equality.
8/10
Movie #72/ New Film #47/  2000s Movie #9/ Three Amigos Film #7: 21 Grams
It’s described as a crime story, although there are mainly two criminal acts; a hit and run that connects the three main characters, and a later effort at revenge. There are powerhouse performances by Penn, Watts and Benicio Del Toro, all put through the wringer and highlighting their range.
8/10
Movie #73/  2000s Movie #9/ Three Amigos Film #8: Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Easily one of the most effective superhero sequels and a significant improvement over the original. It’s very successful at world-building, at showing a universe of strange wonders, and combining that with an interesting arc for Hellboy as he tries to find his place in a world that sees him as a monster.
9/10
Movie #74/ 1950s Movie #7/ New Film #48/ Criterion Edition #15/ Swedish Film #4/ Bibi Andersson Film #3: The Magician
This Bergman film is a strange take on performance and the importance of art in the conflict between a magician and a professional skeptic. It’s sometimes avant-garde and sometimes very classical.
9/10
Movie #75/  2000s Movie #10/ Three Amigos Film #9:  Blade II
Del Toro’s first superhero adaptation puts the vampire hunter in the uncomfortable position of having to ally himself with the enemies, a common enough move for superhero sequels, but one that works pretty well given how nasty the new bad guy is, and the conflicts between the vampire society. Visually stunning.
9/10
Movie #76/ 1970s Movie #9/ New Film #/ Bibi Andersson Film #: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
This seems to be a bit of a cross between One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, It’s a Wonderful Life and Spellbound, as a teenager struggles with mental illness and the sense that others just don’t understand her. It’s sometimes depicted sensitively enough, although often a bit amateurish, as producer Roger Corman isn’t the right fit for the nuance and subtlety required.
6/10Speedy carousel
Movie #77/ New Movie #48/ 1920s- Silent Movie #4/ Criterion Edition #16: Speedy
This Harold Lloyd romantic comedy is worth checking out for some genius set pieces, and for the depiction of New York City a century ago (often filmed on location.)
8/10
Movie #78/ 1960s Movie #12/ Criterion Edition #17/ Swedish Film #5/ Bibi Andersson Film #5: Persona
The contest of wills between a mute actress and a young nurse is a powerful film about secrets laid bare, with fascinating avant-garde techniques and but a straightforward and accessible story.
10/10
Movie #79/  New Movie #49/ 1990s Movie #4: The Yards
It’s never quite clear whether this was set in the late 90s when it was filmed or in the mid-1980s when a pivotal scandal occurred. A bit of a pale imitation of The Godfather and On The Waterfront, although the casting is excellent with Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron as the younger generation, and Faye Dunaway, Ellen Burnstyn and James Caan as the parents.
7/10
Movie #80/  2010s Movie #6/ Three Amigos Film #10 : The Shape of Water
A lot of different things come together very successfully in this film. It is a decent fable of a romance between a complex mute woman and a Universal Horror movie monster. It’s a Golden Age of Hollywood type science fiction film from the point of view of people who weren’t the protagonists in those movies. It’s easily one of the best-looking science fiction films ever, with solid arcs for a variety of characters. It should not have won Best Picture over Dunkirk, but it is an excellent carefully-considered film.
9/10
Avengers Endgame

Round-Up (From These Films)
Best Film I’ve Never Seen Before… Avengers: Endgame

Best Three Amigos Film…  The Shape of Water
Best Emmanuel Lubezki Film…Tree of Life
Best Swedish Film… Persona
Best Bibi Anderrson Film… Persona
Best Film Overall…Persona

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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