Tuesday, February 21, 2017

plato's cave nine (being a film journal)

otto preminger - bunny lake is missing - 1965

a classic british film made by an american (originally austro-hungarian) director, with a mainly british cast (except the two americans keir dullea; later in 2001: a space odyssey, and carol lynley), and shot by the great british cinematographer denys n. coop.

had seen this film once but mainly remembered laurence olivier's wonderful nonsense with the junket. this time was especially struck by the extremes in the black and white photography, and the camera movements. it got me to thinking of how the french new wave (with a few exceptions) never struck me much beyond intellectually understanding the new found freedoms of the camera etc. i am probably more attracted to the 60s british films because the stories and characters strike me as more worth the viewer's time. i wonder if other people feel this way?

one interesting bit of info on the making of the film - the "frogmore end" house at the end of was the novelist daphne du maurier childhood home. gives some extra ambiance to the film!

films shot by denys n. coop

- this sporting life - 1963,  lindsay anderson
- billy liar - 1963, john schlesinger
- bunny lake is missing - 1965, otto preminger
- the birthday party - 1968, william friedkin
- 10 rillington place - 1971,  richard fleischer

Monday, February 20, 2017

plato's cave eight (being a film journal) aussie double feature

 - ted kotcheff - wake in fright - 1971
brian west - director of photography

“i wanted to recreate what i felt and saw – the heat, the sweat, the dust, the flies,” says kotcheff. “i said to the set designer and the costume designer, ‘i don’t want to see any cool colours. i don’t want to see blue or green. ever. on anything. all i want is red, yellow, orange, burgundy and brown. all the hot colours. on costumes, sets, everything.’ i wanted people to watch the film and be unconsciously sweating.”

 - david michôd - animal kingdom - 2010
adam arkapaw - director of photography

"you had your hand on your cock. your hands go anywhere near your arse or your cock, you wash 'em after."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

plato's cave seven (being a film journal)

sidney j. furie - the entity - 1982

recent films over the last couple of weeks

tom mccarthy - spotlight - 2015
fourth time watching this film. obviously really like it. one of those films that is made in a way that holds up to many viewings. mccarthy is great in the wire - the breeding ground for so many mf actors you see in contemporary film and television (omar....). the cast certainly has a feeling for actorshippe.

martin scorsese - shutter island - 2010
mentioned earlier on this blog for being a great primer on 20th century classical music. i have yet to see the silence. appears to be another great film from mr scorsese. haven't like much else since goodfellas from 1990. going to film school in the 90s, i remember hearing the grad students constantly obsessing over scorsese's work. i always liked hearing that talk.

shane black - the nice guys - 2016
this really wasn't a great film but it was entertaining. the daughter played by angourie rice stood out.

nicolas winding refn - the neon demon - 2016
jesus this was possibly one of the worst films i have seen in a while. i really like drive and vahalla rising, but this was utter fashionista nonsense. moments of superficiality in his other films (like the music in drive which is the soundtrack to every melon farmer bar in los angeles) is greatly exaggerated in this work.

alan j. pakula - all the president's men - 1976.
one of the first films i saw after moving to new york was pakula's klute in 35mm. had seen a few times and really loved it. hand not seen all the president's men a few for a long while.... great film! really appropriate with what is happening in the world right now.

jean-marc vallée - demolition - 2015
not without interest this film. just watched the once but had moments in it. chris cooper is always someone to watch and he was a great cinematic shitbird here.

david o russell - joy - 2015
i think mr. o russell is a director worth watching, and miss lawrence fine at actorshippe, but this film did not really do anything for me nor his other recent films. but quite possibly it is worth watching.

sidney j. furie - the entity - 1982
watched this for the second time. it is one of those films that despite the imperfections is really stunning. hard to put a finger on it. i have been wanting to gather a list of early 80s films that are in-between the wonderful chaos of the 70s and the brutally boring of the 80s. 1980, 1981, 1982 and maybe 1983 seem to have this oddness that is present and makes the viewing of these films extremely uncomfortable. another film that really works in this ways is jerzy skolimowski's moonlighting film from 1982. there is a slight return to films like this now i believe, with films like 2014's nightcrawler. more on this at a later point. my desire to track down horror films devoid of kitsch and gore brought me to this odd film. more on that later as well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

plato's cave six (being a film journal)

clint eastwood - million dollar baby - 2004

have probably seen this film 10-15 times. grows on me more and more each time. possibly a bit overemotional or heavy of ending, that doesn't bother me. one thing - it has such a spare and unique view of the city of angels, it is hard to bring another view of los angeles like this to mind.

the photography by tom stern, who shot many of eastwood's recent classics including mystic river and gran torino, is restricted to a minimal pallet that confuses the viewer in terms of when the film takes place. the trainer's interest in yeats (see below) and gaelic (see above) reflects very nicely with the mood of the film. yet more than anything, the trio of actors; eastwood swank and freeman, encourages multiple viewings. especially mr. freeman. he is outstanding in every film i have seen him in. it gives one goosebumps.

          the lake isle of innisfree

i will arise and go now, and go to innisfree,
and a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
nine bean-rows will i have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
and live alone in the bee-loud glade.

and i shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket
there midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
and evening full of the linnet’s wings.

i will arise and go now, for always night and day
i hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
while i stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
i hear it in the deep heart’s core.

          w. b. yeats

          morgan freeman

- the pawnbroker (man on the street) - 1964,  sidney lumet
- brubaker - 1980, stuart rosenberg
- driving miss daisy - 1989, bruce beresford
- unforgiven - 1992, clint eastwood
- the shawshank redemption - 1994, frank darabont
- se7en - 1995, david fincher
- million dollar baby - 2004, clint eastwood
- batman begins - 2005, christopher nolan
- war of the worlds - 2005, steven spielberg
- gone baby gone - 2007, ben affleck
- the dark knight - 2008, christopher nolan
- the dark knight rises - 2012,  christopher nolan

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

plato's cave five (being a film journal)

the brothers coen - blood simple - 1984

m emmet walsh gets a knife in his hand. really a fucked up moment in this film, i felt the most brothers coenesque moment in the film debut. walsh is really one sob in this, brings the film to a top notch level. 

the brothers coen - the big lebowski - 1998

all the art nonsense in the film is good business, from the vaginal art to la biennale.  i would pay serious money to see the landlord's dance performance to mussorgsky's pictures at an exhibition.  it is absurd for sure, but there is also something very emotional and transcendental about it. peter stormare's (i always refer to him as pancakes house) nihilism is something of profound inspiration.

the brothers coen - a serious man - 2009

the opening sequence is very cosmic. first couple of times i scratched my head watching. i find uncle arthur (played by richard kind) very mysterious. never read about him nor really analyzed him much, but the "outsider" notebooks, and relationship to the sex pot neighbor are intriguing.

the brothers coen - true grit - 2010

some dark as hell photography from mr. deakins.

re-watching some brothers coen films.  have seen these films many times over the years, never get tired of them. had not seen their debut in a long while, really great film, especially the ending with the knife in m. emmet walsh's hand. as a private dick on a job (or brother shamus), he shares a connection to da fino (jon polito) in the big lebowski; both hanging out in dark streets in an old vw beetle.

there is probably nothing new to be said about these films except that they are truly of great interest. although i included some minimal observations just for to bring together personal connections.

thinking of cinematography - barry sonnenfeld shot blood simple (he also shot miller's crossing and misery) and roger deakins shot a the big lebowski, serious man, and true grit.

Monday, February 13, 2017

plato's cave four (being a film journal) the films of ben mendelsohn & sean babbit

derek cianfrance - the place beyond the pines - 2012

second time watching this film. it is indeed a very fine cinematic experience. the performance of ben mendelsohn is really beyond words in this film and most he has been in. his film presence is incomparable in contemporary cinema. 

years back there was an attempt to document actorshippe on the art of memory, but i ended up doing so more in my head than on this site. as being privy to great actorshippe is one of the foremost reasons for watching cinema, it makes sense to get back to it and list works with mr. mendelsohn. films of interest for me are as follows (am probably missing some?)

ben mendelsohn *

- the new world - 2005, terrence malick
- animal kingdom - 2010, david michôd
- killing them softly - 2010, andrew dominik
- the dark knight rises - 2012, christopher nolan
- the place beyond the pines - 2012, derek cianfrance
- starred up - 2013,  david mackenzie
- mississippi grind - 2015,  anna boden & ryan fleck
- bloodline - 2015 to present,  glenn kessler, todd a. kessler, and daniel zelman
- una - 2016, haven't seen, looks promising

other art of memory obsessions - cinematography

the film was shot by the texas-born british cinematographer sean babbit, responsible for shooting steve mcqueen's hunger, shame and 12 years a slave. a graduate from the gordon willis prince of darkness film school.

steve mcqueen - hunger - 2008, sean babbit dp

steve mcqueen - shame - 2011, sean babbit dp

steve mcqueen - 12 years a slave - 2013, sean babbit dp
third image reminiscent of jon wozencroft's photographs for the uk touch label

Sunday, February 12, 2017

plato's cave three (being a film journal)

jim jarmusch - paterson - 2016

went to the sunshine cinema with my lovely wife a couple of weeks ago to see the new jim jarmusch film, which has the title of paterson; both the hero's name and the town in which he lives. this double naming is quite a lovely bit i believe.

it was really a pleasant film to watch from beginning to end, with maybe the exception of a few moments with bored behavior from the character's better half.  vaguely jeanne dielmanesque in structure - finding the character waking up and looking at his watch (no portable telephone, as he does not find a need for them except later in the film to borrow someones for a slight emergency), kissing his women, and going about his day. toward the end of each day he goes to the pub, adding this bit of pleasure whilst he walks the dog named nellie as played by marvin. the moments in the pub (and getting there) where highlights, with moments of unrequited love, violence, angry wives, and chess happening within.

here and there paterson writes a poem. maybe walser in nature slightly as he wakes to him every morning. the poems are interesting as they are as simple as they are heavy. this quality is accentuated by the way the poems are read - with the hero's words layered slightly sonically (or at least i heard them that way) and happening quite slowly and with intermissions that can be seconds or minutes.

the imaginary poems of masatoshi nagase's character "japanese poet" are evocative and sublime, and poems i would very much love to read. as are rod padgett's for the film :

when you’re a child
you learn
there are three dimensions:
height, width, and depth.like a shoebox.
then later you hear
there’s a fourth dimension:
then some say
there can be five, six, seven…

i knock off work,
have a beer
at the bar.
i look down at the glass
and feel glad.

ron padgett

plato's cave two (being a film journal)

ken loach - i, daniel blake - 2016

lately have been thinking quite a bit about ken loach, mike leigh and alan clarke. great british filmmakers. would love to get the alan clarke boxset to rewatch films like the firm (with gary oldman) which i saw in the mid nineties and it never left my mind. one hell of a film! also re-watching mike leigh as always, as his films are so rewarding over multiple viewings. his last film mr. turner is one of the most outstanding films of the last few years. i get the feeling people didn't notice that?

i had never watched films by ken loach except kes, and was very excited to see i, daniel blake after seeing the trailer and reading about it.  such a subtle and lovely film, very sad in a way, in a way that is gratifying to be exposed to if you have experienced tragedy at some point in yr life.  dave johns and hayley squires are really quite something, they take your breath away as actors.

also, have been watching films shot by the irishman robbie ryan lately. this chap doesn't mess around. some films my friends mr. spell and morely recommended to me recently were shot by him : american honey, catch me daddy and philomena. he also shot fish tank which i didn't like much but thought fassbender played a classic dirt bag in, perhaps always necessary for the art of cinema to have dirt bags along with angels?

one last observation - the moments shot on the street in this film were quite stunning in their grittyness and everydayness.  reminded me of chantal akerman's news from home or ernie gehr's nyc work, or the french connection. this was covered elsewhere on this blog a bit.