Tuesday, January 23, 2018

plato's cave fifty one (being a film journal) : the owl and the tanager said

David Lowery - A Ghost Story - 2017
“I wanted to engage with the archetypes and iconography of ghost films and haunted house movies, without ever crossing over into actually being a horror film,” quoting writer-director David Lowery. Not positive the film has an intriguing enough dialogue with the horror genre or the archetypes and iconography of them, nor if it distances itself from the genre in a way that works, but this viewer did enjoy the performances and had a heavy bit of depression happen whilst considering the entity's time away from the loved one, and further the interactions with strangers; like getting an ear full from Will Oldham, then to nothingness. Not without interest.

Steven Spielberg - Munich - 2005
Have watched this film many times since it came out. After watching the trailer for the forthcoming The Terror AMC show, I felt like watching a bunch of Ciarán Hinds films. Started with this one. He is such a wonderful actor, I first saw him in Persuasion from 1995, in which he plays Captain Frederick Wentworth alongside the wonderful Amanda Root. Munich is for this viewer possibly the best Spielberg film, it has such a tight rhythm and a beautiful visual pallet, great performances, and not too much hokum appears, the main exception being the love making scene. Spielberg has a tendency to hokum, when he doesn't the films and his abilities to put a picture together are quite rewarding (Duel, The Sugarland Express, Jaws).  Director of photography is the great Janusz Kaminski.

Christopher McQuarrie - Jack Reacher - 2012
Tom Cruise action film. The most watchable of the Cruise recent action films is Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow from 2014, with Emily Blunt, and a screenplay co-written by Christopher McQuarrie. Great film, a sort of Groundhog Day science fiction action film, this viewer has watched it a near half dozen times. Reacher not quite as (re)watchable, but a fine film indeed. It is interesting that instead of going to college, McQuarrie spend 5 years working at a detective agency before starting a career in film. Director of photography is the exceedingly talented Caleb Deschanel.

Paul Brickman - Risky Business -  1983
Didn't have fond memories of this film, last saw in the mid-eighties. On the Tom Cruise trip, so gave it a go. The best part of the film is the train fucking scene with Tangerine Dream, so well crafted visually and the music gives it such a jouissance. Photographed by the great Bruce Surtees (Dirty Harry, Don Siegel, Clint Eastwood films) and Reynaldo Villalobos.

Doug Liman - Edge of Tomorrow - 2014
Discussed above under Jack Reacher. This is a really wonderful film. Besides Blunt and Cruise, you have some great performances by Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, and Noah Taylor. The movie just moves too, like so few do. The connections between familiarity, memory, humor and the absurd mixed with what would be horror (if something like this happened), give it a feel many films these days lack. Some of these contemporary Alien films are so interesting, like 10 Cloverfield Lane, Monsters, where the alien is almost peripheral.

Steven Spielberg - Raiders of the Lost Arc - 1981
Had not seen this since I was a little fellow, mid eighties. Being a huge Lord of the Rings fan, it was great to see John Rhys-Davies, he is a most underrated actor. Also nice to see Denholm Elliott, one of the heavy British actors (A Room with a View), as is Alfred Mollino who is quite absurd in the film. Can't say I am a big fan of the film, a little dated and silly, but hard not to enjoy the pure entertainment of it. Lately I have been trying to re-watch acknowledged classics that never hit me, often times the original assessment was no-where.

Derek Cianfrance - Blue Valentine - 2010
I saw this when it came out, I was single and said to myself this is a film that makes one not want to be in a relationship. It is insanely depressing in that way. Ryan Gosling does a very fine job in this, does some real nice singing. I prefer Mr. Cianfrance's other film The Place Beyond the Pines much more, his last film The Light Between Oceans was nearly unwatchable. Cianfrance's films always look really good. Cinematography by Andrij Parekh.

Lone Scherfig - An Education - 2009
Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard. Alfred Mollina film. Missed when this film came out, it is a very good film if you are a Carey Mulligan fan. She is really breathtaking in it, an extremely watchable film due to her performance and general screen presence. My wife (and film viewing partner) had the idea that  Michelle Williams was slightly overrated, to which I agreed, but said she is good in Drive and Shame. I get the two actresses confused for some reason though, these are Carey Mulligan films. Her performance in these two films are why we watch film, and her singing in Shame (one insanely fucking great film) makes your heart stop.

Spike Lee - 25th Hour - 2002
Felt like watching a film with the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Luca Guadagnino - Call me by your Name - 2017
This is easily the best film of the year, a completely overwhelming and transcendent filmic experience, from the acting to the cinematography to the music.  Being an obsessive lover of Merchant Ivory films, James Ivory's presence greatly enriched this work : "Nearly a decade in the making - much of that time spent with Ivory attached to the film in various positions, from producer to co-director to screenwriter", the film was adapted by André Aciman's novel from 2007, it is a beautiful story. There are moments so strong, they leave you in a state you rarely arrive at with film these days : Elio sitting outside in near dark to a Sufjan Stevens tune as the film flares for quite a while. The film was shot on 35mm using only one lens - a single Cooke S4 35mm lens filming on a Kodak 500 vision 3 film. Photography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, so lovely. There were a couple other flares in the work, when the hell do you see this kind of film-presence these days. So many other mysterious and strong moments; as the two ascent to the waterfall Oliver looks back; it gave me goosebumps, the moment when Oliver rubs Elio's back. The two dancing scenes to The Psychedelic Furs' Love My Way. The final scene as Elio cries by the fire. Also Michael Stuhlbarg's talk with his son on the mysteries of love. Great film!


Deborah Boudreau said...

Thanks for these wonderful commentaries, Matthew. I really enjoy reading them, and having my sense of film culture opened up. You motivated me to see "Call Me By Your Name" in the theaters, if that is still possible. Looks like it is still playing on LI this week.

the art of memory said...

thanks debs.... don't get many comments on here :) glad you like the slightly nonsensical commentaries. sometimes don't have strong opinions on recent films just a general like or dislike, keeps me from being a critic. call me by yr name an exception. just such a beautiful film. we want to see it again in the theatre. hope you enjoy!