A flurry of movie watching the past bunch of days, though not all of them good or much worth talking about. We watched two Judy Halliday movies on Criterion, It Should Happen to You and Bells are Ringing. The former was a fairly funny comedy about fame for fame's sake, where Halliday's character wants to be known so she rents a billboard in New York and just puts her name really big on it. Fame, comedy, and trouble with her love interest ensue. In some ways, surprisingly modern, since we now have tons of people famous just for being famous. The latter was a truly awful musical. It wasn't like the people writing the songbook didn't know what they were doing, it was like they just failed at every attempt. There would be moments where it almost sounded like it was going to be interesting and then, nope, the songs were pointless, banal, and laughably ridiculous in the their lack of artistry. Was also disappointed/bored with Howard Hawks' Twentieth Century starring Carole Lombard. I ended up mostly giving up on it probably halfway through.
Hong Sang-Soo's Hotel on the River though was a nice bounceback from Grass. This one felt much more coherent and interesting than the other. It did not have any of the narrative structure playfulness found in some of Hong's movies, it was much more straightforward and chronological, but otherwise it had everything you expect from his work, but with some aspects I don't recall seeing. This one was not so much about romance as about family, as the primary relationship in the film was a father and his two estranged sons.
Watched Paul Verhoeven's Flesh + Blood after seeing it referenced in some rpg book as an inspiration for 16th century Europe. In that respect it had some good material: battles storming a city, the plague, a small band sneaking into and taking over a castle, siege machines, a weird religious cult. Definitely on the grotty scale of historical fantasy (though nothing explicitly fantastic in it). It was more problematic in it's usage of the "woman falls in love with her rapist" trope. For much of the movie, Verhoeven almost seems to be playing with the concept, as it remains unclear how much the kidnapped woman is just faking everything to keep herself alive and in the good graces of the bandit leader. But by the end, it becomes much less ambiguous.