Wednesday, July 8, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and eleven (being a film journal)

Sidney Lumet The Offence 1973
One of the strangest and most original opening sequences; the camera moves in slow motion through a fragmented British police station, abstracted by a glowing enigma of light. Bits of action happen but presented in a way where the spectator realizes there are ellipses. Much of the film feels like it was shot by the great British experimental filmmaker Chris Welsby, with elements of the Red Riding novels by David Peace sprinkled in. Truly unique film. I love the British films by non-Brits throughout the 70s and 80s, like Jerzy Skolimowski Moonlighting plus The Shout, and Robert Altman's Images.

Robert Altman Nashville 1975
Endlessly rewatchable.

Alan Rudolph Afterglow 1997

Christian Duguay Screamers 1995
Science fiction film with Peter Wellers, popular with modern-day cinephiles.

John Cassavetes Shadows 1959
First film I saw by Cassavetes back in 1994, and with it I fell in love with his work. Such a powerful work which resonates very strongly in today's white racist oppressive world.

Neil Jordan Mona Lisa 1986
Watched twice, once with Neil Jordan and Bob Hoskins commentary. Love this film.

Neil Jordan Angel 1982
Neil Jordan double feature. Purposely somewhat incoherent film with Stephen Rea, where he is a saxophone player whom gets into some dirty business. Very interesting sound work in the film, highly artificial. Especially good when they do the live music sequences, also Bressonian footsteps echo throughout film.

Frank Perry Last Summer 1969
This film reminded me to much of Skolimowski's Deep End with the "when is she going to take her cloths off" nonsense.

Oliver Stone Born on the Fourth of July 1989
Born is an exception to this viewer's anti-Stone general way of thinking. The film spassed a rewatch, perhaps because it avoids Stone's usual flashy edits, camera work and processing of film, done in the style of the times but certain to alienate many viewers (Natural Born Killers!). It doesn't hurt to have Willem Defoe play such a crazed out role.

Frank Perry David and Lisa 1962
Keir Dullea (2001, Bunny Lake is Missing) and Janet Margolin romantically entwined institutionally (in the mental sense) with a setting not unlike One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Titicut Follies, Shutter Island, or Shock Corridor. Excellent writing by Eleanor Perry with Margolin's rhyming talk. Loved the film.

Hirokazu Kore-eda Maborosi 1995
Kore-eda's first feature film. Tragic, dark, romantic, silently emotional. A perfect example of the magic of a slow film.

George Roy Hill Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969
Conrad L. Hall's groundbreaking photography especially present in the famous bicycle sequence. Not a great western for this viewer, perhaps a bit slow at times, but it has a truly perfect ending (see image above).

Ken Loach Poor Cow 1967
Slowly going through the films of Ken Loach. His first feature Poor Cow is spectacular.

William A. Wellman The Ox-Bow Incident 1942
One of those truly perfect westerns, discussed elsewhere on this site regarding the opening and closing shots with trotting dog.

John McNaughton Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 1986
A 1980s film thankfully not in the tradition of John Hughes. Raw yet poetic at times, certainly a film one never forgets. As a young man I was of the mind that 80s films were sentimental Reagan era nonsense, but seeing works like this has shifted my view that actually those bad films are more the minority. Great film I will probably rewatch as I now have the blu ray in my library.

Neil Jordan The Crying Game 1992
Many times in the dark with this film, one of my favorite 90s films. Noticeable reference to Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question in Anne Dudley's score when Forest Whitaker's Jody is referenced.

Alexander Payne Sideways 2004
Endless rewatch film.

Tony Richardson A Taste of Honey 1961
From the the BFI boxset Woodfall: A Revolution in British Cinema. Absolutely breathtaking film with beautiful tactile grain jumping all over the screen.

Joel Coen Fargo 1996
Endless rewatch film.

Robert Altman McCabe & Mrs. Miller 1971
Going through my blu ray library lately, watching the wonderful Criterion Collection disc. Perfect film.

John Carpenter Vampires 1998
Filling in holes by my favorite directors. Went through these films by Mr. Carpenter the last few days: The Ward, In the Mouth of Madness, Village of the Damned, Body Bags, Ghosts of Mars, and Vampires. Of these; Vampires was the more successful film for me personally, yet not really a film I would rewatch. It was suggested to me that disliking these films by Carpenter means he is not a great director, an idea perhaps a tad offensive. Must one respect an entire filmography for a director to be a great one? Does the merits of an auteur depend on consistency? Who the hell cares?

David Cronenberg Shivers / They Came From Within 1975
Arrow blu ray with great special features in addition to this absolutely gorgeous transfer. Probably the Cronenberg film I have rewatched the most. This great film has an atmosphere not unlike J.G. Ballard's High-Rise, another work that moved this young man immensely.

Robert Mulligan The Man in the Moon 1991
From To Kill a Mockingbird director, starring Reese Witherspoon in her first role, Sam Waterston, Tess Harper, and Gail Strickland. Classic 90s cinema. When I see Waterston, I think of his unforgettable "moral structure" dialogue in Crimes and Misdemeanors, Tess Harper for her Breaking Bad presence.

6.23.2020 - 6.26.2020
Derek Cianfrance I Know This Much is True 2020
From The Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance, whom studied film with the two late greats Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon. Music by the utterly profound Harold Budd, every second of the music and sound design is just pure bliss. I love that it takes place around the period of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with George H. W. Bush and the like, not unlike The Big Lebowski. Definitely one of the best recent television shows, a medium that I had about given up on the last year or two. Always so impressed with how Mark Ruffalo had to reteach himself how to act after suffering from facial paralysis and hearing loss due to the brain tumor vestibular schwannoma.

John Carpenter Someone’s Watching Me! 1978
Made for tv film with Lauren Hutton and Adrienne Barbeau. Entertaining at times but a little too close to De Palma's Hitchock. Hutton's quirky behavior is grading.

John Carpenter Cigarette Burns 2005
Udo Kier hires Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) to hunt down an apocryphal snuff film. Very Giallo. Not a film I would rewatch but not completely without interest.

Hirokazu Kore-eda After Life 1998
Perhaps too wordy and concept oriented at times. Not as engaging as other Kore-eda films for me, but worth seeing. Definitely an alternative use of video technology to the modern Japanese Horror films like Ringu.

Nickolas Dylan Rossi Heaven Adores You 2014
Elliott Smith documentary. Very good. Wasn't crazy about seeing Portland footage when the story had shifted to Mr. Smith living in NYC, especially because I noticed repeat shots of certain streets and expressways, but the city really does photograph well.

Joseph Losey The Go-Between 1971
My wife and I are on a mission to see all Joseph Losey films, all Julie Christie films, and all Alan Bates films, The Go-Between worked in all three. Really wonderful film, as was the performance of the young Dominic Guard. The novel by L.P. Hartley apparently is a must read. The film is a rather pleasantly plain story with layers of complexity (as it is from a child's perspective) and subtleties. The great Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay, and photography by Gerry Fisher (Highlander, Mr. Klein, The Offence, The Romantic Englishwoman, Wise Blood, The Ninth Configuration [one strange film I wish I could get into], Running on Empty, and The Exorcist III). Scored by the Frenchman Michel Legrand. All signal a film of the utmost seriousness.

John Milius Conan the Barbarian 1982
Could not remember if I saw this as a kid, and wasn't sure when the film ended. Great ambiance but not really a film I would see again. Surprised by the amount of nudity. I must speak about this in my next confession.

Chinonye Chukwu Clemency 2019
This might be the first film since plague times I have really felt a strong connection with, such a powerful film. Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, and Wendell Pierce! Last shot reminiscent of Call Me By Your Name, with Woodard just beyond moving, not too many actors could pull something like that off.

Kenneth Lonergan You Can Count on Me 2000
One of those films my wife and I watch pretty often... at least this is our third times in the last 6 years or so. Perhaps Lonergan's best film in a filmography of all great works?

Michael Mann Manhunter 1986
Theatrical release on Scream Factory blu ray.  Fantastic interpretation of the Red Dragon novel by Mann.

Hirokazu Kore-eda Still Walking 2008
Really great Kore-eda film, that perhaps takes a couple few viewings to pick up some of the subtitles.

Nicholas Ray Johnny Guitar 1954
Watched the Olive Signature blu ray and feel like this was the first time seeing the film, having never seen a 35mm print. Lovely transfer of this perfect film.

6.28.2020 - 6.29.2020
Derek Cianfrance I Know This Much is True 2020
Second time seeing this in the week.

John Carpenter Christine 1983
Still going through the unseen Carpenter films. I love the above sequence at the drive in movie theater.

Graeme Clifford Gleaming the Cube 1989
Growing up a skateboarder, this film was key to a high school kid, as well as the early Powell films like The Search for Animal Chin, the bmx film Rad, the surf film North Shore, and many others. This film really has zero interest now besides the "action sequences" but brought back memories watching.

Atom Egoyan The Adjuster 1991
My wife and I had wanted to revisit Egoyan films, and were happy to see a bunch show up on the Criterion Channel. Don't think I had seen this one, not super crazy about it but always find Elias Koteas to be worth watching. Worth watching.

Clive Donner The Caretaker 1963
Strange as hell film; editing, photography (shot by Nicolas Roeg), acting, the whole lot. Harold Pinter stories always get one's head spinning.

Alan Clarke Shelter 1967
First disc in the BFI Alan Clarke box set Dissent & Disruption: Alan Clarke at the BBC. Nice film, extreme desires occurring between a woman and man who apparently want to "get physical", but pretend to hate each other. These 25-30 minute shorts from the BBC Half Hour Story series, 1967-1968.

Alan Clarke The Gentleman Caller 1967

Alan Clarke Goodnight Albert 1968
From the writer of Scum Roy Minton, whom also penned The Gentleman Caller. Rather nice credit music on these early shorts by Jack Parnell.

Alan Clarke Stella 1968
These early Clarke films have some great photography. This film starts with the camera looking up at the characters from the floor, following Geraldine Moffart around, and from time to time obscured by objects such as beds.

Alan Clarke The Fifty-Seventh Saturday 1968
Perhaps the best of these Half Hour Story shorts. A young woman suffers depression and puts all her energy into an older married man.

Alan Clarke Thief 1968

Thomas Vinterberg The Hunt 2012
Arrow Academy blu ray with alt and deleted scenes, including alternate ending where Mads Mikkelsen's character is shot in the forest, rather than a miss. Such a great film, I would like to see a horror sequel where he takes revenge on all the folks that brought him misery. I love as an American getting all these British blu rays, where the translation is rendered arse instead of ass.... how lovely.

Ron Fricke Samsara 2011
Lovely 70mm photography.

Jonathan Demme Melvin and Howard 1980
Classic early 80s film from Demme with Jason Robards as Howard Hughes, Paul Le Mat as his buddy Melvin Dummar, Mary Steenburgen + Pamela Reed as Melvin's two lady friends, and Gloria Grahame as Melvin's mother-in-law. Really great low key film, with music by Bruce Langhorne.

Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz Messiah of Evil 1973
Great film, second time seeing this. So many powerful sequences, especially the Ralphs grocery store one with the stunning Anitra Ford.

Gloria Katz The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Suitors—Even 1966

Willard Huyck Down These Mean Streets

John Ford The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962
Perfect details make this film endlessly watchable and rewatchable. Contains the great line "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend", which is a quote one can perceive the world by. Lee Van Cleef and Strother Martin are wonderful as Liberty Valance's sidekicks.

John Cassavetes Husbands 1970
Reunited with another old friend - the great Cassavetes film which could be an endurance test for some, or not much different than reading a fine Beckett novel for others, with a method of arriving at transcendence through repetition, grit, and a hint at nonsense.

William Lustig Vigilante 1983
Second time watching this the since the beginnings of plague times. For anyone who has only experienced Robert Forster as an older actor, this is a great film to see him young.

Rowdy Herrington Road House 1989
Watching Shout! blu ray. Great film, endlessly worth repeat viewings, an essential 80s film. Interview with Herrington situates this film as a modern western.

Christopher Guest Waiting For Guffman 1997

Joan Micklin Silver Between the Lines 1977
John Heard film from the director of Chilly Scenes of Winter. Also has Gwen "I never get enough" Welles from Nashville, Jeff Goldblum, and Joe Morton whom is very good as he always is.

Sunday, June 28, 2020


Austin Rockman & Dark - Tape322
Artwork by darkness moves

Thursday, June 11, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and ten (being a film journal)

Hiroshi Teshigahara Antonio Gaudí 1984
Immersion into the classic score by Toru Takemitsu, Shinji Hori, and Kurôdo Môri always brings one into a complete dream state. This loving portrait of the work of Antoni Gaudí slowly shifts around and through these unique buildings, and is unlike anything this viewer has seen in terms of a documentary of an architect, artist, or designer. Such a great film.

Edgar G. Ulmer Detour 1945

Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein 1974
Stunning actorshippe by Teri Garr, Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn and Kenneth Mars. Put together so very well by Brooks and his dp Gerald Hirschfeld, set decorators Dale Hennesy and Robert De Vestel, and editor John C. Howard. Always a pleasure to watch this one.

David Cronenberg The Fly 1986
This period of Cronenberg never excited me as much as the earlier period (Shivers, Scanners, The Brood), but figured no harm in giving it another chance. Certainly not a bad film, enjoyed more this viewing.

Michael Winterbottom 24 Hour Party People 2002
Another second go at a film that never seemed very enticing.

John Cassavetes Faces 1968
Cassavetes fills this most beautiful film with some of the dirtiest, classless businessman bottom feeders in Los Angeles, most valiantly exemplified by the great actor Val "I'm old enough to be your father" Avery. The scene when Seymour Cassel is first introduced is a perfect example of the magic of music, photography, editing, and actorshippe in cinema. Perfect damn film, Cassavetes could really put a film together like no one else.

Clint Eastwood The Bridges of Madison County 1995
Solid Eastwood film. I very much like the story within the story, but on rewatch can do without the story itself. Streep and Eastwood give some beautiful performances.

John Flynn Rolling Thunder 1977
Some of these less showy 1970s films need two or three viewings to get into the groove, but generally pay off quite well after you put the time in. Not exactly sure why that is, perhaps it has to do with getting past the sometimes abstract narratives to a viewing position where mood and feeling are completely absorbed, not unlike meditation with the journey from non-comfort to bliss. Really love the transition from mellow beginnings in this work, to completely out of control. Second time seeing, and ready for a third.

Pietro Germi Divorce Italian Style 1961

Richard Brooks In Cold Blood 1967
Heavy contrast black and white photography by Conrad L. Hall where blacks are completely without light. The documentary Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography covers Hall's work brilliantly, centering on the end rain/tear section. Robert Blake and Scott Wilson give performances that are beyond natural, must have been a bit shocking at the time. I am use to Scott Wilson from The Walking Dead, but one can see him in The Right Stuff, Monster, The Host, The OA, In the Heat of the Night and many other films.

William Wyler The Collector 1965
Just one great film. Second or third time seeing, this time on the lovely Indicator blu ray. Putting my wife and myself on a Terrence Stamp kick.

Ben Stiller The Cable Guy 1996
Didn't mind this film but would have enjoyed it much more if Jim Carey had just toned it down a slight bit. One of those great actors that I often times don't enjoy watching, but still the film had some moments.

Stephen Frears The Hit 1984
For this viewer, The Hit is one of those nearly perfect films, that with its many facets disguised as being simple, and an extreme level of subtlety. The film is like a bit of cake in the fridge calling you in the night to take just one more bite. Strangely it has many similarities with another film that one could describe this way - Sexy Beast. Here we find Terence Stamp's character Willie Parker, after a 10 year sabbatical from the mobster life, on a trip to meet his maker. In a way the film mirrors Stamp's own life with his years away in India after a breakup with Jean Shrimpton.

John Sayles The Secret of Roan Inish 1994
Finally getting to see this as it is streaming on amazon. Great film, John Lynch! One of the best Sayles films, in a career full of great films. When is there going to be more appreciation for this master?

Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen The Kid Stays in the Picture 2002
Not in tune with the montage of heck style of this film.

Phil Joanou Three O'Clock High 1987
Shot at the stunning Art Deco Ogden High School in Utah. Strange atmosphere for the late 1980s. Film is a little too slow at times, but has a nice anti-80s edge, like the character instead of being content that the nice girl likes him, instead says "it is going to be a good day" when 2 other ladies give him attention, including a kiss from his rather attractive teacher.

David Cronenberg Rapid 1977
Many of these films I am rewatching lately I find I am enjoying much more than when I was in my twenties and thirties, and at that time I thought they were pretty good. Perhaps in those times of youth viewers are always expecting more, and perhaps too critical of what the viewer sees as not perfect. This is not really as high up on my Cronenberg list as Scanners or They Came from Within, but Jesus H Christ Cronenberg can really make a film with an uncomfortable atmosphere, totally unique to himself.

Harold Ramis Groundhog Day 1993
Many rewatches seems fitting for this film, one of the few rom-coms I can sit back with. Bill Murray sure is one hell of a great actor.

Alfred Hitchcock Lifeboat 1944
Classic underappreciated Hitchcock film. Watched the masters of Cinema bly ray, much better image quality than my old VHS tape. Love the theme of the film that people appearing superhuman because they are so far ahead of everyone intellectually and physically, have just resorted to cheating and trickery. The blagards.

Ron Howard Parenthood 1989

Wolfgang Petersen In the Line of Fire 1993
Not one of the best Clint Eastwood films, but pretty damn good.

Sergio Leone The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966 Director's Cut
Very familiar with the theatrical version, but had only seen the extended cut a couple of times. This time really noticing the difference in the sound design between the new and standard scenes. Also watched with the Christopher Frayling commentary, excellent and informative.

Jonathan Glazer Birth 2004
Such powerful camerawork by Harris Savides, and the way Glazer sets up these masterful shots is unreal. Great looking film, but the second viewing I wonder how I feel about the ending and the presence of the Anne Heche character, doesn't sit in my stomach well, but the awesomeness of the film makes me not really care in a way.

Ingmar Bergman Autumn Sonata 1978
Finally was able to purchase the Criterion box set Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, and plan on going through in the next 6 months. Randomly started with Autumn Sonata as I had only seen once and remember the Ingrid Bergman performance being spectacular. The extras have a Ingmar Bergman interview where he discusses her initial acting being too overboard, but how she was finally able to transition into this stunning performance that we see now, really not much like it.

John Carpenter They Live 1988
Attempting to build a small blu ray library for myself, who knows how easy or hard it will be to see this films in the future with streaming? This of course being an essential film for my desert island cinema, and even though I have watched a couple dozen times since I was probably 8-10 years old, I was almost trembling with excitement to watch it again. Also watched a second time with Roddy Piper and John Carpenter commentary, on Shout! blu ray.

Alfred Hitchcock Suspicion 1941
Joan Fontaine, Cary Grant, and the always wonderful Nigel Bruce. Worth seeing, but not an essential Hitch film.

Clint Eastwood Pale Rider 1985
Great tag line; ... And Hell followed with him. Very nice to see Michael Moriarty here. I used to try and watch about 6-8 Eastwood films a year all in a row, and rotate them the next year slightly, so I would see most of his films about every 4 years. Hadn't really done that in the last 6 years so I am making up for it hopefully in the next few weeks by watching a ton. I could see the tone he gets not being for everyone, but it sure suits me fine and more than that, I find the atmosphere of his films really hypnotic and just always what I am in the mood for.

Ann Turner Celia 1989
Beautiful Australian film somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and horror. The young actress Rebecca Smart is so good in this, top-notch performance.

Hal Ashby The Last Detail 1973
Two films with Michael Moriarty in the last couple of days.

Woody Allen Irrational Man 2015
With Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, and Parker Posey. Started really nice with Phoenix as a alcoholic professor, it would have been nice to hang out in that world, but the film gets too complicated with murder and very heavy handed with the music. Not without interest.

Bruce Beresford Don’s Party 1976
70s Australian craziness.

John Ford Wagon Master 1950
One of those lesser known Ford films, at least I always thought, that is right up there in his top ten.  This Ford film always stood out so much due to the pure darkness that enters the film as we encounter the Cleggs, makes you shake in your boots as you watch. Beautiful film shot by Bert Glennon, dark blacks and extreme contrast as I love.

Clint Eastwood Play Misty for Me 1971
Eastwood's first directed film. Has a sort of b movie quality to it, which really gives a great quality to the film on a rewatch. Great film, Jessica Walter gives a wonderful performance. I never knew that was Don Siegel as the bar tender.

Krzysztof Kieślowski The Scar (Blizna)1976
Kieślowski's first feature film. Seen in the Arrow blu ray boxset Cinema of Conflict: Four Films by Krzysztof Kieślowski, this film is so stunning and gorgeous visually and sonically you will find yourself gasping for air. The recurring sonic theme of a drone with foley-like percussive sound is most rewarding, and gives the film a real dark and pensive quality. There is also a moment when Stefan Bednarz is gazing at the magic hour landscape from his room, and the camera mimics his gaze but shifts with interruptions as he turns on the light to reveal himself reflected in the glass out of focus and abstracted. So lovely.

Krzysztof Kieślowski Concert Wishes 1967

Howard Hawks His Girl Friday 1940
Rosalind Russell so very good in this film.

Jerzy Skolimowski The Shout 1978
Based on a short story by Robert Graves. Have been watching this film a lot lately, such a great one, so bizarre! This and Moonlighting are two of my favorite films

Clint Eastwood The Outlaw Josey Wales 1976
One great Western by Clint.

Stuart Staples Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith 2016
Micro photography by F. Percy Smith along to Tindersticks album.

Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo 1958
This along with Dirty Harry helped a young man move to San Francisco back in the good old days.

Pedro Almodóvar Pain and Glory 2019
Second time with this film, as excellent as the first time.

Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay Street of Crocodiles 1986

Terry Zwigoff Art School Confidential 2006

John Landis The Blues Brothers 1980
These guys know how to treat Illinois Nazis.

Carl Reiner The Jerk 1979
Had not seen this since I was a little fellow. Still love the stuff with M. Emmet Walsh; "die gas pumper".

Bruce Beresford The Club 1980
Australian football film from the heavy Bruce Beresford. Joins the ranks of good sports films for people who hate sports.

Ivan Passer Cutter’s Way 1981
Now that I am finally getting into buying blu rays, one of the better American companies has folded - Twilight Time. Picked up a few before they got super expensive, like Passer's fantastic 1981 John Heard and Jeff Bridges film.

Alan Parker Birdy 1984
One of those films it is hard to believe I have not seen, as it is a perfect blend of abstraction in cinema and narrative perfection. The section where we experience flight with Peter Gabriel's intense score truly took my breath away. Great film!

Gene Saks Cactus Flower 1969

Paul Schrader Blue Collar 1978
Very nice story and actors but somehow doesn't work for this viewer, but I think I am in the minority.

David Miller Lonely Are the Brave 1962
One of the best Westerns for this viewer, and also a monumental Kirk Douglas film as well. Just so damn touching and deep, it is hard not to find tears in one's eyes.

Sergio Leone A Fistful of Dollars 1964
A fond film school memory is riding my bicycle to a LaserDisc only store in Boston around 1994, I wish I could remember the name, and renting many LaserDiscs and making an occasional purchase. This store had every LaserDisc made and a very knowledgeable staff whom loved recommending films. Discovering the Criterion Collection discs was like a heathen discovering the holy bible. I would often go and rent discs and for films I loved or figured I would love I bought. One day I randomly picked up A Fistful of Dollars and Yojimbo and brought them up to the register to buy. The fellow working there said “oh very nice connection”. I didn’t understand the connection because I was a dumb kid, and asked him to explain and he said "this one (pointing to A Fistful) is a remake of this one (pointing to Yojimbo)". The concept of that was again like discovering some sacred text, and I went home and watched them both in the order they were made. Since then I have purchased the DVD and now he blu ray, and seen the film many times in between. Very nice to see this restored version which really has a different hue than I remember.

Carroll Ballard Fly Away Home 1996
One of Ballard's best films, why is he not spoken of more? He is one of the masters. Unreal photography by Caleb Deschanel.

Robert Altman California Split 1974
The perfect film on degenerate gamblers.

Bill L. Norton Cisco Pike 1972
This and California Split were two films I had seen once or twice back in the VHS days and were huge influences on me as a film enthusiasts, but ones I really needed to see again.

Wim Wenders The American Friend 1977
An almost yearly rewatch. Perfect film from a perfect novel. Dennis Hopper references his early career in Westerns with his many western outfits, and even Nicholas Ray's film Rebel Without a Cause with many of his movements and gestures throughout. God what a film!

Ted Kotcheff First Blood 1982
I thought I had seen this film many a couple of times as a kid, but realized I never had when watching it. The first half of this film is just about perfect, and the second half pretty damn good. Not surprising it is so good as Kotcheff directs, his 1971 film Wake in Fright is a truly great work of art.

Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in the West 1968
Perhaps the Leone film that is best suitable to watching over and over. Pure poetry. Growing up watching and loving so many Westerns, I get slightly down when my wife notices the only women in most women are prostitutes or victims. This film stands apart from that often times correct statement regarding Westerns, with the magnificent Claudia Cardinale.

John Schlesinger Far From the Madding Crowd 1967
Shot by Nicholas Roeg; light abstractions galore. Great film from one of the most loveliest of novels by Thomas Hardy.

Joseph Losey The Boy with Green Hair 1948
Strange film which features Dean Stockwell as a boy. I remembered nothing from my initial viewing 20 years ago. Not really a Losey film I would revisit.

John Schlesinger Darling 1965
This great film I have seen many times, some viewings hating it, most loving it. Such an emotional roller coaster and so beautifully acted by Dirk Bogarde and Julie Christie. Depending on where you are in your life this film can have an odd effect. As I enter my years of nihilism, I have no emotional/psychological reason most of the time to like or dislike a film so it was pure bliss.

Luchino Visconti Death in Venice 1971
Read the wonderful Thomas Mann book in high school, and when moving to Boston saw this film playing at the Harvard Film Archive. I think the film went over this 19 year old's head but sure left an impression. Björn Andrésen, the young boy playing Tadzio, is the old cliff jumping man in Midsommar. Shot by the great Pasqualino De Santis (Romeo and Juliet, , Lancelot du Lac, L'Argent, etc.)

Liliana Cavani The Night Porter 1974
More Dirk Bogarde, here with Charlotte Rampling in this ex Nazi film. Avoided watching this for almost 30 years now, not sure if I should have broken that avoidance.

Peter Fonda The Hired Hand 1971
Beautiful Arrow blu ray with features including Peter Fonda commentary. One of those films to watch over and over.

Glenn Gordon Caron Clean and Sober 1988
Michael Keaton plays a alcoholic drug addict in recovery with Morgan Freeman.

John Woo Hard Target 1993
Jean-Claude Van Damme action film taking place in New Orleans with Yancy Butler and Lance Henriksen. Not bad, Woo shows the gravity of some of his virtuosic filmic "poetry of violence" which alone makes the film worth watching.

Josephine Decker Shirley 2020
Didn't like the film. Too much try this and try that in the visual presentation and the story was really not film worthy.

Mike Leigh Career Girls 1997
Second time seeing this. One of those Mike Leigh films that is not amazing but nonetheless worth watching as it is a Mike Leigh film.

Andrzej Żuławski Possession 1981
Second time seeing this and the subtle qualities which come forth on a rewatch make the film much more serious than the initial viewing. If one considers Gena Rowlands crazy episode in A Woman Under the Influence to be possibly the best bit of actorshippe in film history, one would have to admit that Isabelle Adjani's abortion scene in the train station is not far behind. Not too many films like this one, it has the Eastern European style Surrealism, but made so much more plain and non-grandiose by Żuławski almost in the way Lynch did in America. Great film.

Sidney Lumet Serpico 1973
In high school I had a handful of VHS tapes including Godfather 1 & 2, Dog Day Afternoon, and Serpico. Apparently a big Al Pacino fan. One of those films I have probably seen more than 20 times, and a viewing is like hanging out with a good friend. Interesting time to see it with all the police violence happening. So fucked that nothing changes, that making change is so futile.

Charles Burnett My Brother’s Wedding 1983
Very much a huge Killer of Sheep enthusiast, one of those films that I get goosebumps when I hear the name or when it enters my head. Still have yet to watch all of Mr. Burnett's other films, and saw this on Criterion Channel. Pretty good film, love the way Burnett shows folk's personality in subtle ways, the character development, or almost lack of development but just character stasis. Very nice.

Jocelyn Moorhouse Proof 1991
Solid 1990s Australian film with Hugo Weaving, Russell Crowe, and Geneviève Picot, with Weaving playing a blind photographer. Great concept, very enjoyable film.

Donald Cammell White of the Eye 1987
Strange serial killer film with David Keith and Cathy Moriarty. Certainly not without interest.

Hal Ashby Coming Home 1978
Jesus what a film, and amazing performances by Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, and Bruce Dern all photographed by Haskell Wexler. Great story as well.

John Flynn Rolling Thunder 1977
Double feature on post Vietnam films. Third time watching this film, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite 70s films. So gritty but smooth as can be at the same time.

John Ford Rio Grande 1950
Watched twice, once with Stephen Prince commentary on the Masters of Cinema blu ray. Not a Ford film I love, but it is growing on me the more I watch (three times the last couple of months).

Otto Preminger Bonjour Tristesse 1958
Just one of the most flat films I have seen, all round flat.

David Worth, Mark DiSalle Kickboxer 1989
Another Jean-Claude Van Damme film. Not bad.

Tom Huckabee, Kent Smith Taking Tiger Mountain Revisited 1982/2016
Early performance by Bill Paxton. This film would have been more my thing at age 20, perhaps a bit too experimental for me now. Great looking and Paxton has a few disorienting sex scene. Worth watching.

John Sayles Sunshine State 2002

Thursday, May 7, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and nine (being a film journal)

Gus Van Sant My Own Private Idaho 1991
Van Sant's third feature with beautiful music by Bill Stafford on steel guitar, which gives a Sons of the Pioneers mixed with Ry Cooder vibe. Stunning photography by John J. Campbell and Eric Alan Edwards, one doesn't see landscape too often in film like this. The Criterion special feature with Todd Haynes gets into the nitty-gritty of the making of the film, and Van Sant's virtuosic use of time lapse photography. Against all odds the Shakespearean elements of the film work in seamlessly, perhaps something this viewer needed a couple few rewatches to realize. I could see viewers not responding to this element of the film, or the film in general, but it is made in such a humble way, it deserves a chance. Having lived in Portland a few years gave the urban elements of the film quite a striking quality, it really is a unique city.  I remember whilst in my car (delivering food) and patiently waiting for an elderly man on a walker to cross the street, someone behind me started blaring their horn. A punk kid out of My Own Private Idaho whom was also just crossing started yelling at me and aggressively throwing his middle finger in my direction. I was so broke living there, I couldn't afford to fix my driver side window, so couldn't roll it down to tell the guy it wasn't me blaring. One hell of a city I tell you. Nothing quite like it!

Terrence Malick Badlands 1973
Features the short piece Musica Poetica by Carl Orff, also used in Ratcatcher and covered by Hans Zimmer in True Romance. The soundtrack also contains some Erik Satie, and original music by George Tipton. Very Malickian use of music, like Wes Anderson's signature use of music. One of those films to watch every 2 to 3 years perhaps?

Peter Bogdanovich Saint Jack 1979
Really moving buddy film between Ben Gazzara and Denholm Elliott. Both actors give such transcendent performances which leave one speechless. Something so tragic about Elliot's subtle gestures and movements through the frame, the man was just one of the truly great actors. Contemplating what makes a buddy film and how would Saint Jack fit in the history so strongly- the answer seems to be a fixation on non-erotic intimacy that perhaps approaches uncomfortability, but leaves you with the strong resonance of the approach. Opening panning shot by Robby Müller will blow one's mind, works well with Antonioni's closing shot from The Passenger I just watched. Great film!

Maurice Pialat Loulou 1980
Was really wanting to rewatch Pialat's work, after previously loving Loulou, Van Gogh, Police and a few others, so was excited to see the Criterion Channel putting them up for streaming. The energy and visual aesthetic of this film is so striking and a great combination of humbleness which one does not always see in French cinema, and aggressiveness. Pialat seems very unique to this viewer in the history of French cinema which I have a love/hate relationship with.

Jacques Demy Lola 1961
Embarrassed I had not seen this great film. Wanted to see badly after watching Demy's Model Shop with Anouk Aimée's Lola / Cécile character. Not sure how much it has to do with the print source (due to the negative being lost), but the high contrast of this film is quite striking and adds a level of mystery and gravity to the film. Lovely. Great use of Erik Satie when the sailor and young Cecile jump out of the amusement ride in slow-motion, subtle and avant'garde. Also good accidental double feature with Loulou!

Greta Gerwig Little Women 2019

Otto Preminger Anatomy of a Murder 1959
James Steward, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell, Duke Ellington, John Qualen, George C. Scott, and Murray Hamilton! Perfect film.

Tommy Lee Wallace Halloween III: Season of the Witch 1982
Great music by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth, especially solid in the opening credit sequence. Tom Atkins so good in this too, actually a pretty solid film.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Pulse 2001
Intense film, the first half was a bit more successful. Some shots one surely wouldn't forget easily. This viewer needs to spend more time with Kilyoshi Kurosawa's work.

Sean S. Cunningham Friday the 13th 1980
Very slow moving film. Boring or an art film? Certainly intriguing.

Tobe Hooper Poltergeist 1982
Story by Steven Spielberg. Heavy handed esp with the music, not my scene. Saw this film a lot when I was a pre-teen, probably on cable, never left the kind of impression The Exorcist did.

Richard Donner The Omen 1976
My wife and I watching many classic horror films these days from a large list we are both working on. Concentrating not only on films we have seen many times, but also some perhaps only once and not clear in the memory, and many we have missed and filling in holes. There are always many holes in the boat and one must plug them to avoid drowning. Many of the films on the list I always assumed were bad but giving them a chance as often times these turn out to be the most rewarding. As a kid I believe I liked The Omen, but as a young upstart film student I assumed it was a commercial piece of nonsense and forced myself rewatched and really loved it. This time again I agree, a damn film, with a memorable performance by David Warner. Perhaps a once every 10 years kind of film. Lee Remick and Gregory Peck so so good too! Also Richard Donner is one of those often times great directors one might not consider as such. Born in NYC, started with many television shows and then went on to do The Omen, Superman, Superman II (with Richard Lester), Inside Moves, and Lethal Women. Personally not a Goonies enthusiast.

Takashi Shimizu Ju-On: The Grudge 2002
Another classic Japanese horror film from the early 2000s. Very much worth seeing and quite shocking much of the time. As with these other Japanese horror films from the time period, the use of technology to horrify can be quite ghastly. In Ju-On: The Grudge the black atmospheric silhouette captured on surveillance which slowly engulfs the screen with only its eyes visible is bloody horrific. The purposely obscure narrative structure of the film is problematic, and perhaps lessens the quality of the film.

The Mandalorian episides 5-8 2019
Not a bad show, coming from a non Star Wars enthusiast. Defiantly worth watching.

Hideo Nakata Dark Water 2002
Going through the classic 2000s J-horror. Water, rain, children, surveillance, technology, urban spaces, blurred faces, creepy silhouettes, ghosts, water towers... all themes in these strange films. Dark Water a very good one in this lot of horrific works. Remake has Jennifer Connelly which makes it worth watching.

Jamil Dehlavi Born of Fire 1987
Stunning visually with equally bizarre music and sound design. Very abstract, although a little slow and perhaps slightly pretentious. Worth watching, would like to see a second time soon.

David Mamet House of Games 1987
Two films from 1987. Second time seeing this, very much enjoy Joe Mantegna in it.

John Carpenter Prince of Darkness 1987
Very similar feeling to They Live, musically and visually, and especially the use of video technology to foretell dread (the creepy dream projected to the participants from the future). Part of Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy which includes The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness. Still a couple of Carpenter films I need to see, such a solid artist.

Robert Altman The Long Goodbye 1973
Key film from the 1970s, and best soundtrack in which John Williams delves into the strange world of Raymond Queneau's Exercices de style and reworks the same song from elevator music style to sleazebag piano bar music. I use to watch the hell out of this on VHS, and it was so nice to see the Arrow Academy blu ray of this projected big and loud. The sound design for this film just out of this world and must have shocked audiences at the time, so rich with details.

Walter Hill The Driver 1978
The actor Joseph Walsh who plays "glasses" looks just like Robert Fripp. Bruce Dern a total sob in this film, O'Neal is smooth smooth, and Adjani her usual weird lovely self. Music by Michael Small (Klute, Marathon Man, The Parallax View, and Night Moves), gets into some Miles Davis electric toward the end.

Kenji Mizoguchi Ugetsu 1954
Two Japanese ghost films this evening, starting by going back to the classics. One of the most beautifully photographed film, especially love the ghostly scene out on the foggy water. Very Thomas Köneresque cyclical bell sounds when the spirits become prominent in the film, unforgettable sound design!

Hideo Nakata Ringu 1998
Arrow blu ray, great quality. Both this and Ugetsu really have some of the most stunning music and sound design, dark, textural, beautiful and overwhelming with proportions of ephemerality.

John Carpenter The Thing 1982
Arrow blu ray, best version I have seen. Perfect film. The colors in this blu I admit to never having experienced with this film I have probably watched 20+ times. Perfect soundtrack, everything perfect, best horror film for me. Confused about soundtrack, I read that Carpenter needed to put in some filler music so recorded some that shows up here and there throughout the film, but that main bass line in the intro and recurring throughout just sounds so much like him. The combo of Ennio Morricone and John Carpenter works so well, two masters in the Extreme.

David Cronenberg The Brood 1979
From the classic early period of Cronenberg, which (for this viewer) would include Crimes of the Future, Shivers, Rabid, and Scanners. Videodrome gets him going into another aesthetic. Really disturbing film, maybe the most extreme from this period, one has to take a deep breath before watching. Often one can obsess over films showing off Los Angeles and New York, but in these films Cronenberg really delves into this Canadian urban and suburban weirdness, probably one of the things that struck me so much as a young man when watching his work.

Joseph Losey Secret Ceremony 1968
Was always a Losey enthusiast, but had never seen this one. Very strange film with a great atmosphere. Not the kind of film this particular viewer would watch over and over, like Mr. Klein, but surely a damn good film. Heavy topics and the trio of actors (Elizabeth Taylor, Mia Farrow, and Bob Mitchum) showing off some serious actorshippe.

Alfonso Cuarón Children of Men 2006
Great film to watch over and over. Hard to comprehend many of those long shots, even after 10+ viewings they are still a mystery.

Hal Hartley Fay Grim 2006
A little difficult to understand where this film positions itself between humor and genre film.

Hal Hartley Ned Rifle 2014

Paul Sharits Bad Burns 1982
Paul Sharits Dots 1 & 2 1965
Paul Sharits Wrist Trick 1965
Bad Burns especially beautiful, with a brief glimpse of a face under a hypnotic fog of light and color abstractions.

Richard Stanley Color Out of Space 2019
Nice contemporary translation of the H.P. Lovecraft story. Wonderful color palette and Colin Stetson's soundtrack so good. Also the film is quite frightening.....

Stuart Gordon From Beyond 1986
More Lovecraft. Librarian looking woman turned seductress.

Gary Sherman Vice Squad 1982

Maurice Pialat Van Gogh 1991
Great art biopic that transcends the genre in a similar way that Edvard Munch by Peter Watkins does, or Séraphine by Martin Provost. Slow film that is actually quite complicated and hard to follow at times, good combination.

Ken Russell Women in Love 1969
Unforgettable nude wrestling scene between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed. Utterly perfect film.

Peter Bogdanovich Paper Moon 1973
Once every couple three of years type of film. One can learn some good grifting techniques from Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. Shot by the great Hungarian cinematographer László Kovács!

Otto Preminger Bunny Lake is Missing 1965
Got a file of this about 10 years ago and watch it every couple of years. Such a great film. Favorite part is Laurence Olivier's line compliment her on her junket and let her go. Classic 1960s photography by Denys N. Coop. Keir Dullea is one creepy character in this role.

Anthony Mann Man of the West 1958
Mann western with Gary Cooper and Lee J. Cobb with an even louder voice than he normally has. Solid film.

Ingmar Bergman Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen) 1968
Second time watching this film, an abstract horror film by the master. In my recent horror fascination, this film came up and it is certainly not for the faint of heart. Horror rendered Fåröian by the masters Bergman and Nykvist.  Lovely title in Swedish - Vargtimmen. In the Peter Cowie book Ingmar Bergman: A Critical Biography Cowie mentions Bergman's interest in Bela Lagosi as Dracula and birds ("I'm terribly afraid of birds" admits Bergman) which are suburb interests to begin a horror film. The stills above found by randomly moving around on the time line.

John Cassavetes The Killing of a Chinese Bookie 1976
Previously studied in depth here.

Alfred Hitchcock Rebecca 194
Great Hitchcock film with the lovely Joan Fontaine.

John Cassavetes A Woman Under the Influence 1974
Reading in the Ray Carney book Cassavetes on Cassavetes, Cassavetes talks about how he used family members as actors to save money as they had no budget except money invested by himself and Peter Falk. Katherine Cassavetes (JC's mother) plays Falk's mother and does a really suburb job here. The fireplace breakdown scene with Gena Rowlands is probably the most extreme bit of actorshippe imaginable. From her eyes to her movements and her words, the scene is just full of otherworldly magic and so effortlessly captured on film by Michael Ferris, Frederick Elmes, and Caleb Deschanel, David B. Nowell, Gary Graver, and the rest of the crew. One of those tough films one can watch over and over.

John Dahl Red Rock West 1993
Top shelf 1990s film with Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle, and  J.T. Walsh. Solid.

Richard Linklater Dazed and Confused 1993
Saw this around 1997 and remember it being more stoner oriented, and was disappointing with the jock heaviness of it, even Parker Posey. My memories of high school are kids so stoned out and stumbling around the halls in torn jeans, it is a little hard to relate to these squares and future business leaders of America.  Luckily we have a good loser character played by Matthew McConaughey in a pretty damn good performance. Also solid music in this film.

Michael Winner Death Wish II 1982
Michael Winner Death Wish 3 1985
Really heavy atmospheric sound in these films that sometimes turns musical, by Jimmy Page. Not great films but if one finds themselves interested at some point in their lives in screen violence and revenge films, or in urban decay, these are worth watching.

Alan Clarke Scum 1979
Perfect film. Indicator blu ray very special. Plan on watching this many times over the years.

Paul Schrader Hardcore 1979
I would say this is a once a year film for me, but in reality it is more like a twice a year film. Something so magical about its very plain beginning which feels like a made for tv or Hallmark film, which all of a sudden turns into a pretty disturbing and quite vile atmosphere.  The atmosphere takes a sharp turn basically when Peter Boyle shows up. After seeing it so many times, it is surely my most loved Schrader directed film, with First Reformed in a close second, although I am definitely aware that it is not a well liked film by the cinephile world, and even Schrader and the dp Michael Chapman seem to dislike it. Hard to understand, one name that justifies all the attention I am giving it is the magician Jack Nitzsche. The Indicator blu ray looks outstanding, the best I have seen this film.

Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility 1995
Very good Ang Lee film.

Howard Hawks Only Angels Have Wings 1939
Use to have the DVD and practically wore it out watching so often. Wonderful film, perfect photography by Joseph Walker; dark, foggy and full of grain. So rewarding after not having seen in so many years, like seeing an old close friend after a long silence.

Sam Peckinpah Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia 1974
Had watched this film many many years ago and remember loving it and hating it at the same time. This second time, nearly 20 years later it just resonates so strongly. Much because of the performance from the great Warren Oates, one hell of a leading man. Dark, gritty, and grainy photography by Álex Phillips Jr. that is lush and at the same time greasy. Great combo.

J. Lee Thompson Death Wish 4: The Crackdown 1987

Larry Fessenden Wendigo 2001
Really dark and gritty photography by Terry Stacey, Fassenden's films look a little like if Evil Dead obsessed Brakhage shot low budget horror films. Great editing, espcially noticeable in the surgery sequence.

Don Siegel Coogan's Bluff 1968
Classic Clint Eastwood film. Minor appearance by Seymour Cassel. Wonderful use of The Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, and Inwood.

J. Lee Thompson Murphy's Law 1986