Sunday, January 14, 2018

plato's cave fifty (being a film journal)

Darren Aronofsky - Mother! - 2017
Finally watched this. First 45 minutes I thought this was one hell of a film... the restrictions of the camera, the fucking sound design is brilliant, the acting is beautiful, but it just got too strange and went to hell. I like Aronofsky's The Wrestler, but have not liked his other work. Listened to his Marc Maron interview recently and he seems to be an interesting fellow, there is a desire when viewing for more subtlety and the art of restriction.

Howard Deutch - Some Kind of Wonderful - 1987
We watched this on cable whilst visiting the parents (plus the Potters). Hadn't seen it. Not my kind of film but Eric Stoltz makes it worth watching and the music was not bad, for an 80s film. Also (tried) watching Baumbach's Kicking and Screaming recently with Stoltz. What is it with these Baumbach films?, also tried watching The Meyerowitz Stories and this question came up again, although I liked Adam Sandler in it.

Harry Potter 4 & 5 (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005 & Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007)
Watched at the rents. Even when they are not brilliant, these films are always very watchable. In addition to the magic of them, the cast begs the viewer to pay attention and to return to them. Any fan of British cinema, Mike Leigh etc... these films are worth watching (actors like : Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs, Timothy Spall, Emma Thompson, Domhnall Gleeson, David Tennant, Peter Mullan, David Bradley, etc). Interesting that they are written for children because I have trouble following the complicated twists and turns.

Harry Potter 6 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009)
Had seen this but didn't remember very well. Good film, starts getting more abstract and dark.

Harry Potter 7 & 8 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Parts 1 & 2, 2010, 2011)
For some reason I had never watched these last 2. They were quite good. Abstract. Dark and heavy. I love Ralph Fiennes in them, when I was a young man I worked at a movie theater and took his movie ticket, quite an experience. He has some real life and screen presence, a wonderful actor.

Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird - 2017
I had reservations seeing this because I thought Frances Ha was a piece of millennial nonsense, and I really didn't find Gerwig appealing in that film. Attempted to watch the film without prejudice and I was deeply engaged with it. For starters : Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Saoirse Ronan, Lucas Hedges... it has a really great cast. More like actor's actors (Metcalf and Letts). They give such depth to this film, which has depth on its own. I think the film could have gone a bit further and gotten away a bit from being sentimental, but it is one that I will return to. Metcalf in Horace and Pete was truly brilliant! One of the most sublime performances I have seen. She is one of the most underrated living actors working today.

Ron Howard - Apollo 13 - 1995
The cast of this film (Bill Paxton etc) and hearing about it often on Marc Maron's podcast (a superb insight into the minds of actors and directors) made me decide to finally watch it, but alas it was not my speed.

Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread - 2017
This is a really beautiful film by Mr. Anderson. His (and the crew's) cinematography is breathtaking, the music by Johnny Greenwood, and of course the acting (Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville from many Mike Leigh films,  Vicky Krieps, Gina McKee from Naked, Brian Gleeson etc.) Would surely return to this film, like many of Anderson's films; one finds oneself feeling quite uncomfortable throughout, he is a master of this, not easy to do with what appears to be small efforts.

Paul Thomas Anderson - Boogie Nights - 1997
Saw this film when it came out in the theater, and a few years later on DVD. Had been a while though. It was streaming and I decided to revisit after hearing Anderson's recent interview with Bill Simmons and his new film. The film definitely lacks the subtlety, restraint and beauty of his other films, but it does have his virtuosity. It is hard to imagine a 27 year old pulling off that opening shot, up there in the history of the long take, I actually got so lost in it I couldn't tell if there was a cut. Burt Reynolds gives one strong performance even though supposedly they had trouble on the set, and William H Macy, Julianne Moore, Luis Guzmán, Don Cheadle, and of course Philip Seymour Hoffman!

Toshiya Fujita - Lady Snowblood - 1973
For some reason had not seen this film. My good friend mentioned to see it as every frame was like a painting, which is indeed true. The opening sword exchange (and the rest that follow) was so beautiful, with the snow and lighting and movement. A beautiful film indeed.

Jane Campion - Holy Smoke - 1999
First time seeing this. Always a pleasure to see Harvey Keitel. As with The Piano, he elects to drop his drawers in the film, funny how he did this in so many films in the day.

Various Seinfeld episodes. Reinstated my Hulu account and have started going through various Seinfelds. Use to watch these when I was a young man but only various ones. Attempting to be a bit more systematic this time. Watched recent season of Curb your Enthusiasm lately, can't get enough.

Craig Brewer - Hustle & Flow - 2005
Terrence Howard is very good in this.

Yorgos Lanthimos - The Killing of a Sacred Deer - 2017
Finally saw this. Very strange film, goes without saying. Had just watched The Lobster for the second time recently and was looking forward to this. Themes going through both films are of interest to me, like the monotone speaking of Colin Farrell, the use of extreme modern classical music, putting the viewer in constant "discomfort", Kafka/Walser-like story telling. One scene that really stood out was the daughter singing a pop tune by a tree in a total monotone delivery. I would buy a 7" of that.

Fred Schepisi - Six Degrees of Separation - 1993
This film came out the year I graduated from high school. I don't think I saw it then but remember seeing it in the 90s, but didn't have a clear memory of it. Film is unwatchable, has a good cast, and I love the Kandinsky painting featured from the Guggenheim collection Several Circles (1926), moronic that they have this painting as a two-sided work that doesn't actually exist.  It is funny, but the fact that they misrepresented the Kandinsky, sums up how insincere this film is.

Michael Cimino - Heaven's Gate - 1980
Tried watching this film about 12-15 years ago after a good friend recommended it, and I couldn't get through it. Didn't like the pallet of the film, found it not to be captivating. I return to it an old dog and still feel the same although I vowed to finish it. Cimino is one of the best, and it has a perfect cast (Jeff Bridges, Isabelle Huppert, John Hurt, Christopher Walken), but something about this film just doesn't work. Westerns and slow films are what got me interested in film-viewing, but it lacks passion. Would rather watch McCabe & Mrs. Miller. My dog Leviathan didn't like it either, wouldn't stop growling and moaning. Not sure what are we missing?

Powell & Pressburger - A Canterbury Tale - 1944
I needed a guaranteed great film to make up for the few in the last week that didn't do much for me. Any Powell Pressbuerger will do.

Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood - 2007
Fourth or fifth time with this beauty. My god this is a great film, more the kind of western I would like to sit with. So many intense scenes with Plainview.... hard to watch at times. Greenwood's music during the oil fire catastrophe works so perfect with the editing and action. Masterfully done film.

The art of memory's daily viewing and listening (and sometimes reading) on instagram
Last year or so I started rating films on imdb. here they are

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