Thursday, December 6, 2018

plato's cave seventy six (being a film journal)

Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea - 2016
About the fourth time seeing this. Great film with some spot on actorshippe. Really like the palette of the film as well, an abundance of oceanic blues.

Coen Brothers - The Big Lebowski - 1998
Have seen many times. Needed an old friend to take the pain away after packing, moving, and unpacking. This and a bit of wine. Pictured above is from the mesmerizing performance by Jack Kehler, a key scene in the film. Reminds me of second-hand descriptions of Jack Smith performances I heard back in college. The art made ridiculous in this film is refreshing.

John Boorman - Excalibur - 1981
Early 80s films have often times been analyzed here for their magical je ne sais quoi. Another good one here, a little silly at times but visually beautiful and a great cast which includes Helen Mirren, Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Stewart, and Liam Neeson & Ciarán Hinds in small roles. Photography by Alex Thomson is lovely. I don't know how I could have not seen this as a kid.

David Gordon Green - Joe - 2013
Very nice David Gordon Green film with some heavy actorshippe by Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. Some nasty sons of bitches in this film as well, makes you want to loose some spittle. Potentially his best film to date.

Chang-dong Lee - Burning - 2018
Saw Mr. Chang-dong Lee's new film in the theater, the film is getting much praise and it is a hell of a film with a fucked up ending. Would have to see again to be more articulate about it but I really enjoyed the main actor's performance.

Alice Rohrwacher - Lazzaro felice - 2018
Very much in the tradition of Ermanno Olmi's films. Great film, beautifully shot, sort of absurdity mixed with Italian realism. Second above image could have come from Erice's The Dream Of Light (The Quince Tree Of The Sun).

The Brothers Coen - Blood Simple - 1984
First film by The Brothers Coen. I have seen this many times over the years, my favorite part is M. Emmet Walsh. Such a sleaze in it, reminds me a bit of Peter Boyle in Paul Schrader's Hardcore. After having watched their films many times over the years, I noticed many connections between films that are in a way overly simplistic but potentially well thought out and sophisticated. Like in this film there is the connection with The Big Lebowski with the private dick and his little blue Volkswagen Bug. In The Big Lebowski you have Peter Stormare's Lingonberry pancakes and in Fargo his repetion of "pancakes house". Steve Buscemi mentions many times in The Big Lebowski In-N-Out Burgers and in Fargo he talks about the in and out with his call girl.

John Hillcoat - The Proposition - 2005
I saw this when it came out and really took a strong dislike to it, although I loved the soundtrack (and of course the actors etc). I only remembered the look of it and the couple shots with high speed equus ian travel (not sure if that is a word) with cranked guitar and noise bursts. This second time I tolerated the film but didn't come to enjoy it like I was hoping. Not a bad film though, just possibly too much of a hodgepodge story or lacking some dynamite? Still loved the equus bit. Great acting too and the film looks fantastic.

The Brothers Coen - A Serious Man - 2009
Was listening to a podcast on the 5 best Brothers Coen films relating to the recent Adam Nayman book. My wife and I got to thinking about our favorites? Mr. Nayman said A Serious Man which I would potentially agree with. One reason being the concentration on Jewish culture which is unique for them. Also the more than usual subtle humor. This and The Man That Wasn't There are two strong contenders for best of films by them outside of the more obvious Fargo and The Big Lebowski. This film I have watched about 4 times so far, not as many as some of their others but the joys of watching a film over and over are starting to happen for me. One part I really enjoy is Richard Kind as Brother Arthur and his "just a minute"... never gets old. I hadn't realized the first few times just how many times he says that, often barely audible in the background overlapping other conversations.

Boris Sagal - Omega Man - 1971
Childhood film rewatch. I like this film when he is alone but it gets a little dull when the other humans appear. Charlton Heston is a very intriguing actor, the more films I see with him as an adult the more I get to like his aura in movies.

The Brothers Coen - No Country for Old Men - 2007
Another potential "best" Brothers Coen film. Have seen it around 20 times or more. I went with my mother to Marfa for a week just a year or so after this came out, more to see all the Judd works than because of my interest in film, but having seen this and There Will be Blood many times, and a recent rewatching of another great one Giant, one realizes what a great place it is visually in cinema. Even an idiot could point a camera at a bunch of dirt and get a good image around Marfa, some kind of magic there. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is another heavy film shot there.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

plato's cave seventy five (being a film journal)

I just moved from one apartment to another. Very hard work. After settling in I finished writing this post and somehow it completely disappeared and I don't feel like rewriting, so here are the films sans proper description, just a small bit on if I liked or not.

11.1.2018 - 11.23.2018

Debra Granik - Leave No Trace - 2018
Good film, more raw version of Captain Fantastic. Fuck Portland and its anti-humanistic rules.

Stefano Sollima - Sicario: Day of the Soldado - 2018
Mimics tasty bits of first film.

John Sturges - The Magnificent Seven - 1960
Second time seeing this, use to the story as Seven Samurai which is a code-10 for me. Good film but not quite the same calibre. Eli Wallach!!!! Only one the same level as Mifune except for Steve McQueen and possibly Yul Brynner.

Tony Zierra - Filmworker - 2017
Portrait of the wonderful Leon Vitali who gave up his acting career and devoted himself to Stanley Kubrick, very good film and Vitali is endlessly fascinating.

Chang-dong Lee - Secret Sunshine - 2007
Really good film, looking forward to seeing his few film Burning

William Wyler - The Big Country - 1958
I love all Bill Wyler films. Second time seeing, great stuff.

Norman Jewison - In The Heat of the Night - 1967
Second time seeing this great film. Portrait of American racist melon farmers, not much different than the times we live in.

Yuri Norstein films
Norstein exhibition in Jersey City, many unseen films including a nice segment from The Overcoat. I bought a signed print of Mr. Hedgehog for my new apartment (above image).

Chloé Zhao - The Rider - 2017
Really top notch raw / natural film. Blew me away.

Coen Brothers - The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - 2018
Was very excited by the Tom Waits segment and the Liam Neeson/Harry Melling segment.

Noah Baumbach - While We're Young - 2014
Not sure why I watched, don't like this blaggard's films.

Kenneth Lonergan - Margaret Extended Cut - 2011
Had seen the theatrical version a few times, finally saw this extended cut which is a very much better film, with overlapping Bob Altman style abstract dialogue-confusion and NYC as a supporting role  in a Woody Allen meets Ernie Gehr sort of way. Will never see the short version again but will stick with this masterpiece.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

plato's cave seventy four (being a film journal) horror

George A. Romero - Dawn of the Dead - 1978
An old classic Zombie film from Romero. Not as good as his first one but has some pretty good action in it. Music by The Goblins and Dario Argento.

Philip Ridley - The Reflecting Skin - 1990
Very low key vampire film. Not the best but a good performance by Viggo Mortensen and photography by Mike Leigh's heavy dp Dick Pope.

John Carpenter - The Fog - 1980
When Halloween approaches, one must get the Carpenter films going. Beautiful film, I have wandered the area of Inverness, Bolinas and Point Reyes quite a bit and recognize many spots in this film. God's country.

Sam Raimi - Evil Dead II - 1987
Had only seen parts of this a long time ago. Crazy film, I love the camera freely floating through the forest. Impressive Mr. Raimi did this, makes many of the 80s horror films seem amateur.

John Carpenter - The Thing - 1982
My favorite horror film for Halloween. I include the image above as the power of the hand-held shot here is so shocking every viewing, the eeriness of it is off-putting in a subtle way, and a tiny hint of the business forthcoming. Shocking and complete fuckery.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

plato's cave seventy three (being a film journal) horror

Steven Spielberg - Jaws - 1975
Saw this film a few times on TV when I was 3 feet tall. A real shocker then and now, so well put together of a film. Visually stunning and some crazy shit happening. Loved every second of it.

Paul Verhoeven - Starship Troopers - 1997
Giant bugs. Strange film, didn't like it much.

Sara Colangelo - The Kindergarten Teacher - 2018
Might as well be an horror film. Dumb film.

Peter Hyams - Relic - 1997
Not a great film but always a pleasure to watch Tom Sizemore and James Whitmore.

George A. Romero - Day of the Dead - 1985
Not one of Romero's best, more for the die hard zombie aficionado. This coming week I plan to watch Dawn of the Dead which I remember liking much more.

Jeff Nichols - Take Shelter - 2011
Not completely a horror film but it was on Shudder. Second time seeing this, starts pretty slow but once it gets going it is a powerful film. I wish in a way that it kept going another 2 hours post apocalyptic storm as it starts getting really exciting and you want to see Shannon's visions become reality.

Philip Kaufman - Invasion of the Body Snatchers - 1978
I use to eat 4-5 times a year at this great restaurant in San Francisco, and almost every time would see Philip Kaufman eating and drinking there, he must really love the place as I did. Never said anything to him but I do really love his films. This is a near perfect horror film, one of the best and doesn't get much better. Also strange because working near the financial district of the city, with all the automatons there, this film seems like a documentary (cinéma vérité horror). My experience with the good old "don't call it Frisco" was pretty much non existent. As soon as I moved there (1997) it was quickly becoming a yuppy haven. The mayor at the time Willie Brown said if you didn't make 50k a year you had no right to live there. Shit, I was making like $10 an hour and going to school. Seeing films shot in SF brings back great memories though, of how lovely visually the city regardless of the young tech anti-Christs that have taken it over. This film surely feeds into this concept.

Roman Polanski - Rosemary's Baby - 1968
Two of the best horror films in a row. Never gets old even after 2 dozen or more viewings. Cassavetes is such a slimy prick in the film, just a joy to watch. Seeing it again after Hereditary really makes me rethink that film, by Devil it really copied the hell out of Rosemary's Baby.

Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz - Goodnight Mommy - 2014
I couldn't get into this film. If it had been a little more unique or interesting in how it was made I could have gotten past the gore of it but it just had that ubiquitous post-L'Argent contemporary European style that I personally get tired of seeing.  The style can work well at times like with Haneke and Dardenne. Maybe a reader has a better understanding of this? The influence of Tarkovsky and Bresson is maybe too strong in films from over yonder. The near sterile long take actually has become sterile in so many of these films, people love it though.

Luca Guadagnino - Suspiria - 2018
This film was almost wonderful. I was completely taken in by the charms of the direction, the acting, the music and especially the atmosphere. Guadagnino has a beautifully unique vision which is so notable partly because of the intelligent way he references the history of cinema. As an example, the trademark zoom of 60s cinema here is transformed into a more than homage artifact, becoming something of a voyeuristic character moving around the action and observing in a way the viewer cannot. Quite unlike Tarantino who uses the zoom in a jokey way that at most gets a laugh.

If the majority of this film was at a level of sophistication of say 11, there are two sections that are hovering around 4 or 5. Number one is the first scene with Dr. Josef Klemperer and Patricia; the editing progressed in a pointlessly rapid manner that just thoroughly lacked poetry and good taste. Second was the last section of the film with the Bitch's Brew sequence which indeed has some lovely bits but is mostly absurd, trashy and poorly directed, choreographed and edited. The song by Thom Yorke (which is quite good) unfortunately gives a music video quality. The partially glimpsed devil and exploding heads add some proper fuckery, but the poorly choreographed dancers that fall short of an other-worldly mayhem stand out, and the Helena Markos character is just so darn corny.

This would be one of those great current films with at least the latter sequence heavily modified, and I would argue the initial one re-edited, but it was still a pretty great film. The Thom Yorke music with the dancing sequences was really like drinking some Lagavulin, quite heavenly.

Jim Jarmusch - Only Lovers Left Alive - 2013
Second time seeing this. Really brilliant take on the modern day vampire film. Jeffrey Wright in another comic Jarmusch role (the other being Broken Flowers). Our hero's life rotates around vintage guitars and amps, old records and old Jags; car and guitar. Pictured above is a lovely mid 1960s Fender Jaguar and interesting to note the Marshall amp with the 2 lls taken off. Also interesting to note our hero is not a trem man. Good stuff that makes this world worth the effort. Our hero's walls are adorned with some heavy figures, from J.S. Bach to Rodney Dangerfield, he has good eclectic taste.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

repair me now

Colin Andrew Sheffield - Repair Me Now - 2018

New CD/digital download on Jason Lescalleet's label Glistening Examples
Thanks for utilizing photography by Matthew Swiezynski from the area of the Pacific Northwest

Monday, October 22, 2018

plato's cave seventy two (being a film journal) horror

For the most part I am going to watch horror films the rest of the month. I come to horror not as an enthusiast but more as a film lover just wanting to see another great film regardless of genre. Because of this, there is less patience for certain horror films which are arguably just important within the genre. Interested very much in viewers coming to horror for non-traditional reasons. Any hint of kitsch or horror-humor and this viewer tends to tune out. B grade is cool as long as the film has heaviness (Bucket of Blood for example is endlessly watchable). Gore if excessive is another turn-it-off for this viewer, although if done in a subtle and poetic method gore can be exceedingly lovely. Some of my favorite films are horror films, like The Exorcist, and most of John Carpenter's films especially The Thing. Other classics like Cat People, The Shining, The Innocents,  Don't Look Now, and Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre.

George A. Romero - Night of the Living Dead - 1968
I have seen this wonderful documentary a few times, vérité to the extreme. Of course as I learned in film school; vérité is never really vérité because the camera, editing, music and direction transform the truth into fiction. This film is a lovely example of fiction becoming truth via the director's methods. One of my favorite horror films. It is always interesting to see Romero show up as an actor. Here he plays a Washington Reporter. In Martin he is Father Howard, biker in Santa Claus Suit in Dawn of the Dead, Zombie with Scarf in Day of the Dead, FBI agent in Memphis in The Silence of the Lambs, and some others I haven't seen.

Wes Craven - The Last House on the Left - 1972
Second time seeing this, although the first time was over 20 years ago. It surely has a good look, but a little too B-grade for this viewer. The sadism mixed with humor really makes it a bit of a joke, which I guess is why people like it?  The B really works well with a director like Ed Woods, not as much here for this viewer but I am sure I am in the minority.

Steve Buscemi - Trees Lounge - 1996
Non horror film. Fourth or fifth time seeing this film. Perfect, and one hell of a cast! Buscemi is one of the great 90s/2000s American directors: Trees Lounge, The Sopranos episodes, Lonesome Jim and Animal Factory.

Robert Aldrich - The Longest Yard - 1974
Non horror film. Feel ashamed I never saw this great film which came out the same year I entered the world. Killer Burt Reynolds film.

Jennifer Kent - The Babadook - 2014
Second time seeing this classic of contemporary horror. Same as the first time, I couldn't tell if I liked the film. The kid and mom are just a tad annoying, but it is well done and pretty intense and scary. Definitely a film that leaves an impression.

Armand Weston - The Nesting - 1981 & Joe Dante - The Howling - 1981
Attempting to watch some horror films I have never seen. I started both of these because I recognized the names but turned them both off after a bit. Couldn't get into them.

Yi'nan Diao - Black Coal, Thin Ice - 2014
Not totally a horror film, fits a bit into the serial killer genre. There are some moments of horrific intensity, but beyond that it is almost like a Beckett meets Tsai Ming-liang film. Drunken and depressed, our hero navigates a Beckett-like existence, with his general atmosphere of absurdity being more what I followed than the plot. I really loved this film and look forward to a second viewing. My pretty wife recommended it to me and she always steers me right.

Dario Argento - Suspiria - 1977
I saw this film freshman year college and then maybe a few years later. Never loved it, nor the Italian horror films in general. Picked up the soundtrack a bit later and listened the hell out of it, so good. My wife had not seen this, and we have both been wanting to see the remake so we gave it a go in preparation.  There are definitely some moments that make it a film worth watching but the kitsch excessiveness of it just puts this viewer off. Like a big fancy cake that is made of non organic products and you just feel kind of sick after. It is funny but a video Demdike Stare made puts all the aesthetics of these films into a 6 minute version of somewhat off-putting trend induced hysteria..... with women endlessly walking down hallways in a way that is reminiscent of something like a low fidelity Chanel commercial.

Alfred Hitchcock - The Man Who Knew Too Much - 1956
Lesser classic from Hitchcock revolving around the idea of the man who waits through an entire symphony to climactically crash the symbols. Second time.

Herk Harvey - Carnival of Souls - 1962
Classic horror film. Beautiful stuff with some strange business afoot. Second time, great film.

John McNaughton - Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - 1986
Second time seeing Henry. Love this film, so raw and disturbing, has a great quality in terms of the acting, visuals and sound. Grainy as hell. Some kind of intense atmosphere that really fits with the fucked up business happening in the film. Michael Rooker is about as creepy as possible here, but also at times moral and almost kind here and there, great actor to be able to pull this off with simple gestures and non traditional actorshippe. Fitting in with another obsession on this blog - there is an abundance of urban photography; Chicago at night which just looks great, sinister yet beautiful. This is one of the best 80s films, rare quality for the year. First image above "Entertainment Nightly" is from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The pre-Lebowski quote above is good stuff.

Werner Herzog - Nosferatu the Vampyre - 1979
A few times seeing this classic. Just one hell of a horror film with an amazing soundtrack by Popol Vuh.