Saturday, September 22, 2018

plato's cave sixty seven (being a film journal)

Lynne Ramsay - You Were Never Really Here - 2017
Second time seeing this. Great film, it is brilliant how Ramsay keeps pushing the levels of extreme abstraction... visually, sonically and with the story. Plot doesn't really make much sense but is non the less potent. Gets into the Chandler territory where the story gets lost in its own abstraction.

John Schlesinger - Darling - 1965
In school one of my professors showed this in a class that was basically focused on looking for odd anomalies in narrative cinema, moments that could not totally be explained in a traditional way but needed to be thought of similarly to the way a spectator would look at a painting or listen to a piece of music. One was encouraged to look very closely (and listen) to a film and get really to know the details. With Darling we looked at the l'amour train sequence with Dirk Bogarde and Julie Christie. The first shot in the compartment with Bogarde and Christie beginning to kiss, Bogarde has no cigarette in hand. Then a hard cut and the camera is outside the compartment and Bogarde has a cigarette (see images above). Such a truly strange sensation this gives even the viewer, not noticing it would truly make this film so much less strong. Watching the sequence all these years later, it really says something about his character (contradictions) and their relationship (fragile, superficial), something not so easy to put in words but quite palpable. Subtleties like this really make it a film worth watching and rewatching. Personally Christie's 60s philandering gets a bit irritating, and brings to mind a stronger film Brief Encounter, where an affair could barely begin before both parties feel total anguish. The cinematographer Kenneth Higgins achieved a really strong black and white range - not necessarily high contrast but a gorgeous interplay between grays and whites and blacks, grain and sharpness. Bogarde and Christie's actorshippe is just the bee's knees. Quite a lovely film!

Alfred Hitchcock - North by Northwest - 1959
On a Hitchcock rewatch lately. Hope to go through a dozen or more in the next few weeks. North by Northwest is one of my favorites by him, especially love the sex business between Cary Grant (whom only did one kind of exercise) and Eva Marie Saint. The fake Frank Lloyd Wrong house is really wonderful as well, and after a half dozen times seeing this I still white-knuckle through the Mt. Rushmore ending. Martin Landau plays a great Hitchcock/Bond villain, looks a bit like Cassavetes to me. I always look so forward to James Mason as the dirty sob Phillip Vandamm, just one of the great film heavies.

Michel Gondry - Kidding episode one - 2018
Not sure if I like this show. Not a bad idea but didn't really grab me, seemed too Spike Jonze for me.

9.12.2018 - 9.18.2018
Scott Buck - Iron Fist first season - 2017

Michael Mann - Collateral - 2004
Had only seen this around the time it came out and felt luke warm about it, but this rewatch I really enjoyed it. Tom Cruise played a real son of a bitch, and it was a good dark palleted film. Only problem is it is one of those early films mostly shot on digital and at times is quite ugly, mostly with camera movement and pans, sometimes it works though (like above image). This is an interesting list of films shot early on with digital. I remember having a real problem with most of these early digital films at the time, and in a way they didn't date well. One of the best Mann films, maybe second-tier to Heat, Manhunter, and Thief.

Ridley Scott - All the Money in the World - 2017
Not without interest, would be curious how Spacey differs from Plummer.

David Simon & Ed Burns - The Wire season four - 2002-2008
This is a great season.

9.20.2018 - 9.22.2018
Derek Simonds - The Sinner season 2 episode 8 - 2018
Final episode, brilliant show.

Panos Cosmatos - Mandy - 2018
At the art of memory, this was one of the most anticipated films of the Summer. Partly from the crazy trailer, but mostly because of the Jóhann Jóhannsson soundtrack. I did really enjoy parts of the film; the violence was really stunning to watch, visceral as hell, often times really great use of music, sometimes not as much (the use of King Crimson's great Starless song contradicted the time period fetish as discussed latter).  Andrea Riseborough and Nicholas Cage really shred the hell out of this film, impossible and head-scratching. The problems though for this viewer were many. The use of animation made no sense, the obsession with the Italian horror film genre too much in the fetish territory, and again with the Stranger Things 80s fetish which can just be tiring (and the acid-trip paperback book culture). I notice the director is the same age as myself, so was somewhat brought up in this time of the 1980s, maybe a little young to take it in with maturity, but old enough to get a feel for the decade. I would have guessed the film was made by a millennial, someone that fetishized the period without having really lived it, but there where some indications that show his age, like the Ronald Reagan bit in the beginning. The drinking scene with Cage really was insane though, and I loved it. Also the palette of the film is quite stunning; dark reds especially take control of the film which was shot by Benjamin Loeb. He gets pretty dark and pushes the limits in a great way, although it seems much of the look was a little to heavy handed in the way of manipulation in post. I am hoping a subsequent viewing will improve the relationship to the film, because it has some great stuff in it.

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