Wednesday, February 27, 2019

plato's cave eighty four (being a film journal)

"Often I find the less plot a writer needs, and the more restrained his setting, the more significant his talent. I am immediately wary of writers who excel at plot and claim practically the whole world for their characters. Everyday things are beautiful and rich enough that we can coax poetic sparks from them."
Robert Walser from Carl Seelig's Walks with Walser. A hell of a quote to use as guidance for watching film.

Lee Chang-dong - Secret Sunshine - 2010
This is a really fantastic film, my wife got the blu-ray so we will probably watch it often.

James Mangold - Cop Land - 1997
Basically an absurd story but if you can get past that, this is a film worth watching. Perhaps a bit dated but the pace of it is very strong, and some serious actors.

Karel Reisz - Saturday Night and Sunday Morning - 1960
Watched on new Criterion channel. Great film, rest in peace Albert Finney.

Marielle Heller - Can you Ever Forgive Me? - 2018
After having worked in the book world for almost 20 years, I find that my opinion on most high end collectors is they are slimly little astrologers that have never looked through a telescope. This aspect of the film was very appealing, Heller and Lee Israel capture it well. I recognized some bookstores in the film, like Argosy. Not without interest.

Paweł Pawlikowski - Ida - 2013
This is one of those films I have sort of put off watching because it seemed too slick. My feelings after viewing are that the film had some good moments but in all honesty I just don't dig the guy's style. An example is a shot of the saxophone player in a live setting and he is practically off camera on the right side, coming in and out, very poetic looking photography not unlike 60s live footage of Coltrane and those heavies, where there is a sort of steam emanating from them, except here it is almost too perfect where it looks basically like a Chanel commercial. After this shot, there is a hard cut and the Ida character is on far left extreme of screen as a spectator and equally in a sort of overly stylized/poetic ambiance. It came across as facile for lack of a better word. I did not dislike the film though but was bothered by many of these shots that just seemed like the director was trying too hard to be a visual poet. Another film that strikes me this way is the Brothers Quay's Jakob von Gunten. Not a bad film and based on one of the best novels ever, but over repeat viewings the film just seems like a commercial.

Ermanno Olmi - Il Posto - 1961
One of great Italian films, worth many viewings. I hadn't realized Olmi died recently, his films are really unique and special.

Tom McCarthy - Spotlight - 2015
Was listening to an interview with Michael Keaton on Marc Maron and prompted some light immersions into his work. I like his performance very much in this film which is somewhat subtle. Many people seem to really dislike this film but I find it to be quite good and have watched it about 4 times. After having spent some time with the Rewatchables podcast, it was pretty funny to see the "they knew" scene with Mark Ruffalo which they use as a standard for ham acting. I for sure agree even though he is usually quite good as an actor. His role in this film is pretty unusual for him, he maybe was trying to be sincere to the actual person.

Ron Howard - Night Shift - 1982
Another Keaton film, this one rotten. Normally 1982 was a good year but this film stinks. I can't think of a Ron Howard film I like though, the nudity was pretty extreme in this film, actually comical.

Rowdy Herrington - Road House - 1989
This is one of those films many members of the intelligentsia dismiss but in actuality it is a pretty good film (with some problems, which is ok, films don't need to be perfect). Sam Elliott is a real movie star in it, my wife mentioned that "The Dude" must have really been modeled on Elliott in this film. I have a strong memory of watching this in a hotel room late at night somewhere north of Santa Barbara with a bottle of whiskey back in my youth, also a couple times around when it came out. Probably will watch a few more times before I kick the bucket.

Robert Bresson - Mouchette - 1967
I am involved in a Mouchette related project and gave the film a rewatch, mostly focused on listening to it and letting the eyes relax (or not) on bits of gray here and there. Previously on this blog the sound design was analyzed with some depth. The entire sound of the film was put into Logic and all dialogue and most music were removed. Also many posts on Mr. Bresson were attempted with much obsession.

John Sayles - Limbo - 1999
(rewatch, I think...)
Not the best Sayles film but worth watching.

Sebastián Lelio - A Fantastic Woman - 2017
Had not seen this one. Intense film worth watching, the shot above with the wind was really nice to watch.

Seth MacFarlane - Ted - 2012

Sam Peckinpah - The Killer Elite - 1975
Intense film, not one of his best but has some moments. Always nice to see a San Francisco film, I noticed Duvall and Caan going over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge but finishing off on the Golden Gate Bridge arriving in Marin. Nice to notice continuity problems related to transit in film. Have been over both bridges hundreds of time and that one didn't go past me no siree.

Steven Spielberg - Schindler's List - 1993
Had not seen this since it came out and was a bit mixed on the film's qualities. Much like Saving Private Ryan, the film focuses on a narrative that really seems completely unrelated to the war or the Holocaust. That is the reality of a successful narrative film though, it must speak to an audience although plenty of auteurs have managed to circumvent this. It is a good film though, beautifully shot by Janusz Kaminski, dark blacks you rarely see in contemporary black and white films which have a tendency to be a little too gray.

Newt Arnold - Bloodsport - 1988
One of those films I watched a lot and loved in when I was approaching high school age. Had not seen it in a long time and was really surprised what a Damme good film it was. With the exception of a couple of bad songs and a bit too much time spent on the random love interest (another element that always seems to be a stupid necessity in narrative film, most films it is fine but here it just seemed out of place), the film really is pretty amazing with some really stunning camera work, editing, action and general ambiance.

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