Friday, April 19, 2019

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

Séraphine

3.31.2019
Paweł Pawlikowski - Cold War- 2018
This film has some stunning photography and novel editing here and there.  Mostly I noticed editing that was jarring, which is my speed, and something you don't see very often in the world of the invisible cut. I had seen Ida finally a month or so ago and honestly really didn't like the film. Not wanting to reiterate my reasons, it is just easier to say this film gave me a similar feeling, as much as I wanted to enjoy it, it felt too much like a Gucci ad to me.

George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre (and Kurt Russell?) - Tombstone - 1993
(univers du western)
A western film that came out when I was 18, one that I have managed to avoid for more than 25 years. I was wondering why as there are some great actors - Bill Paxton, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Michael Biehn from Terminator, Billy Bob Thornton, Thomas Haden Church and a few others. Westerns started to enter the world of this film enthusiast partially as a youngster but more so in college after discovering Ford, Leone, Hawkes and Kurosawa. It probably took a good 10 years to go through the more outstanding examples and I feel I am still a neophyte on the subject. The language of the Western is exceedingly pleasant to read, a language that obscures itself for a bit but becomes apparent once the viewer has put in the effort.  This language is something hard to put words but it just hits you at a gut level. It can be as simple as a man walking down a dusty street with a dog scurrying past him in an atmosphere full of intensity and dread, or more complicated like a slight tweak of an existing western subplot that is shifted slightly to yield some subtle and extreme results. Somehow the Western has a lot to do with jazz music; how you can hear a standard played by different composers with the songs being so very unique when put against one another.  From pre-bird to bop to post-bop to the avant-garde. Also for students of European jazz, the language is further shifted, lovingly mutilated and almost blasphemed. If I am to be honest, I didn't really mind this film, but it didn't fully interact with the language of Univers du Western in a way that was engaging enough to make a lasting impression.

4.1.2019
Steven Soderbergh - Erin Brockovich - 2000
(rewatch)
Solid Soderbergh film with Albert Finney.

4.2.2019
Amy Berg  - The Case Against Adnan Syed - 2019

James Bridges - Urban Cowboy - 1980
(rewatch)
Saw this film many times on cable when I was in elementary school. I think it fucked me up, super depressing negative film on the mistakes made by youth and the dirty deeds of low life sons of bitches. Scott Glenn is one sleaze sob in this film, kind of looks like Iggy Pop. I have rarely drank Tequila without thinking of him drinking that darn worm.

Jan de Bont - Speed - 1994
(rewatch)

4.5.2019
Robert Redford - A River Runs Through It - 1992
Drove through this area of Montana a couple of years ago which is a incredibly lush and beautiful. Mr. Redford put a very good film together here,  which responds so well to this landscape. Saw it in the woods outside Woodstock / Saugerties NY which seemed appropriate.

4.7.2019
Joe Carnahan - The Grey - 2012
(rewatch)
Very much a favorite Liam Neeson film. My dog Leviathan would give these wolves a run for their money. Great ending.

4.8.2019
Ben Stiller - Reality Bites - 1994
(rewatch)

Richard Linklater - Before Sunrise - 1995
(rewatch)
An Ethan Hawke double feature, mid nineties themed. I am more into Before Sunrise myself, but he is really great in both films.

4.8.2019-4.11.2019
David Farr - Hanna season one - 2019

4.10.2019
Adam McKay - Vice - 2018

4.12.2019
Terence Davies - The Deep Blue Sea - 2011
(rewatch)
The most beautiful of cinematography by Florian Hoffmeister. Such a lovely and sad film by Davies who is one of the truly remarkable masters working now.

Martin Provost - Séraphine - 2008
(rewatch)
This turned out to be a very fine double feature. I must see more films by Mr. Provost, the structure of his film is really novel here, Séraphine's paintings and hagiography are slowly revealed to us through a fog of house cleaning, paint-making and grunting.

4.13.2019
Lee Chang-dong - Burning - 2018
(rewatch)
The subtle intricacies and layers of meaning become more clear on a second viewing. The behavior of greenhouse (barn) burning as being a metaphor for serial killing hits like a bag of cement, followed by the act of questioning how a viewer's mind, who is perceptive to subtle hints in a film, can so easily be tricked into possibly false narratives, and then coming around to questioning of the mental facilities of our hero, all a very tasteful way of treating the film spectator. I don't think I picked up on a lot of this the first viewing. This film after 4-5 viewings will really start to come alive.

4.14.2018
Yeon Sang-ho - Train to Busan - 2016
Korean Zombie film with the very talented Yoo Gong (also in A Man and a Woman below).

4.15.2018
Dominic Sena - Kalifornia - 1993
(rewatch)
Second serial killer film this week. Brad Pitt is sort of the reason to watch this film, strange and unsettling performance from him, which partially works so well because of his looks.

Lee Yoon-ki - A Man and a Woman - 2016
Korean love story my wife and I watched with her parents. Starring Do-yeon Jeon from Secret Sunshine and Yoo Gong. The music was nice at times, sort of Ryuichi Sakamoto inspired.

Hal Hartly - The Sisters of Mercy - 2004

4.16.2019
Sean Baker - Scarlet - 2012
I liked this more than The Florida Project. A good story and the style really works well with what is happening on screen. Very nice performance by the dog, I couldn't take my eyes off of him.

Joel Schumacher - A Time to Kill - 1996
Matthew McConaughey film before he got into the bad date films. Samuel L. Jackson and Charles S. Dutton are really stunning in this as well as McConaughey, the film really gets good when the courtroom stuff starts up, a little slow before that.

4.17.2019
Marina Zenovich - Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind - 2018

4.18.2019
Francis Ford Coppola - The Outsiders - 1983
(rewatch)
One of those films I would see as a really young boy, around 9-10 years old. I remember being kind of shocked by the idea of leaving home and sleeping outside. Now seeing it I think I am more struck by the strange style of it, as well as Rumble Fish, where Coppola seems to be really experimenting with artifice and structure in film.

John Sayles - Lone Star - 1996
(rewatch)
One of the films I try and watch 1-2 times per year. Chris Cooper is a hell of an actor. The many times when Sayles transitions from present to past or from past to present solely through camera movement and no cuts has a simple virtuosity that gives the viewer goosebumps.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

suspirant music two

Suspirant Music Two - portrait of one's atmosphere with long exposure (woods between Woodstock and Saugerties)

Monday, April 8, 2019

suspirant music one

Suspirant Music One - portrait of one's atmosphere with long exposure (woods between Woodstock and Saugerties)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

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

3.10.2019
Abel Ferrara - King of New York - 1990
(rewatch)
Really one hell of a film, Ferrara has a great sense of visual rhythm and color. Some explosive bits of violence not unlike Michael Mann climaxes, shot beautifully and constructed like a French poem. Ferrara's other films Bad Lieutenant, and The Funeral are masterpieces, Fear City pretty damn good (see below). Great film.

Marc Turtletaub - Puzzle - 2018

3.11.2019
Dan Reed - Leaving Neverland - 2019

3.12.2019
Robert Benton - Still of the Night - 1982
(rewatch)
Interesting how memory works. I thought this film seemed strangely familiar but not until the end I realized I had seen it. Had some good moments, Roy Scheider always a pleasure.

James L. Brooks - Broadcast News - 1987
(rewatch)
The beginning and end of this film on a rewatch are completely without interest, and some dated business that doesn't sit well, but a film worth a watch if you are a William Hurt fan. Hard not to be critical of films from this time period but overall this is a good film.

3.13.2019
Randa Haines - Children of a Lesser God - 1986
(rewatch)
Another William Hurt drama. Quite a unique and underrated actor, no one really like him that I can think of, his way of speaking, mannerisms, and intellect. Smoke, Altered States and Body Heat are his best I believe. Always a pleasure to see Piper Laurie.

Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi - Free Solo - 2018

3.14.2019
Alan Clarke - Made in Britain - 1982
(rewatch)
Besides being one of the best British films (in my opinion), there is much humor found in Made in Britain. Tim Roth's deliverings of "wanker" this and "bullocks" are raw and quite uncomfortably beautiful. Such a perfect film. Alan Clarke is the most underrated British director, I assume because he mostly worked for television? I first saw them on film in a movie theater, so have always thought of them as "cinema".

Aisling Walsh - Maudie - 2016
One of the few good biopics on an artist. A few others that come to mind are Peter Watkin's Edvard Munch, Martin Provost's Séraphine and Maurice Pialat's Van Gogh. Ethan Hawke is on a roll.

3.17.2019
Christopher McQuarrie - Mission Impossible - Fallout - 2018
(rewatch)
Watched this with my father in his new place and really enjoyed his commentary. He wasn't crazy about the film but enjoyed watching it.

3.18.2019 - 3.20.2019
Cary Joji Fukunaga & Nic Pizzolatto - True Detective season one - 2014
(rewatch)
I believe my fourth time watching this, still quite a complex story after so many viewings. Currently reading The King in Yellow perhaps prompting a fifth viewing. I found this article to be enlightening regarding many levels of meaning in the show, some of which I had figured out but mostly not. Had not thought about Martin Hart's children being victims of the diabolical child murder collective, that particular aspect of the show is just hard to deal with.

3.21.2019
Michael Winner - Death Wish - 1974
(rewatch)
A film which I saw as a kid but could not remember, but (perhaps because it came out the year I was born) I enjoyed the hell out of it. Nothing like watching a western take place in the grimy streets of New York in the 1970s. After a recent viewing of Once Upon a Time in the West, I realized how much I liked Charles Bronson. Thought of Travis Bickle mentioning cleaning the streets a couple of times : "Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets".

3.22.2019
Ang Lee - The Ice Storm - 1997
(rewatch)
Top notch color palette and ambiance.

3.25.2019
Abel Ferrara - Fear City - 1984
An enjoyable low-key Abel Ferrara film, pretty raw with a good cast. Hard to find an early Melanie Griffith where she doesn't disrobe, I find the "acting" sections of the film bring it down but the rest is pretty heavy, women walking in streets or missing trains, strippers, sleeze bags in clubs.

Stephen Kijak - Scott Walker: 30th Century Man - 2006
(rewatch)
Watched this after a day of listening to Scott Walker, hearing about his death in the morning. Incredibly sad news. The footage of him making The Drift here is brilliant, he interviews very well also. Pictured above Mr. Walker is conversing with Alasdair Malloy on how to play the slab of pig, he discusses working with Mr. Walker here.

3.26.2019
Hector Babenco - Ironweed - 1987
(rewatch)
Had forgotten that Tom Waits was in this. Very good film. I really like the feel of it with a dark dirty palette (shot by Lauro Escorel) and downbeat drone oriented music appearing and disappearing here and there, composed by John Morris. Some strange nightmare moments Jack Nicholson has of people he has killed or have died, they are truly frightening. The TriStar Pictures horse use to really hit me heavy as a teenager and pre-teen.

Matt Wolf - Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell - 2008
(rewatch)

3.27.2019
David Anspaugh - Rudy - 1993
Another in the series of I hate sports but enjoy sports films. Very over the top and corny but an enjoyable film.

Matthew Ross - Frank & Lola - 2016
Just watched to see Michael Shannon.

3.28.2019
PT Anderson - Phantom Thread - 2017
(rewatch)

3.29.2019
Agnès Varda - The Gleaners & I - 2000
(rewatch)
Rest in peace Agnès Varda. I have only seen a handful of films by her so will watch more the next few weeks. This and Vagabond had been my favorites. Sort of in the Mekas territory here, with her playful use of the camera.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

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

2.27.2019
Spike Lee - BlacKkKlansman - 2018
Very nice film by Mr. Lee of which I really enjoyed. Intense with great notes on the state of our country. The scene pictured above had some nice subtle camera work. Aways a pleasure to see Mr. Driver on the big screen.

2.28.2019
Sheldon Lettich - Lionheart - 1990
Another Jean-Claude Van Damme action film taking place in New York and Los Angeles. Some unrefined fight scenes. I always find myself in love with raw urban photography especially in films from the 70s-90s. Lionheart and Do the Right Thing (below) really get into that world heavy. Wim Wender's Wings of Desire and The American Friend have very similar ambiance. So do these films * **


Spike Lee - Do the Right Thing - 1989
(rewatch)
First year of film school I would watch this over and over along with Goodfellas, Mouchette, Jeanne Dielman, Andre Rublev and a few others. Strange that I would end up living a few blocks away from this location in Bed-Stuy. Relating to the film Ida in the previous post, there was a complaint I lodged on Pawlikowski's potentially shallow camera work and editing. In Do the Right Thing we see some similar photography and editing but to my mind not only more subtle, but with a degree of sincerity and gravity missing from Ida. In an exchange between Da Mayor and Mother Sister, we find two shots, one of each character, with non traditional camera setups (perhaps inspired by Da Major's alcohol consumption). The camera angles hover between jarring and sensual. Mr. Lee in a simple scene delivers a radical moment that is in some ways connected to King Victor's Street Scene, but also with Eisenstein or Vertov's avant-garde films.

3.1.2019
Antoine Fuqua - The Equalizer - 2014
I would watch an 8 hour film of Denzel Washington putting together Ikea furniture, or reading from a phone book, or eating broccoli. He is one of those great actor, always enjoy seeing him do his work. I have never completely enjoyed a Fuqua film, his most famous Training Day goes from being a solid heavy dark film to being in the Fight Club or Matrix territory. Maybe that is not accurate, I tune out in the film about a third of the way through when it starts throwing in surprises. I am probably alone in this opinion though. The Equalizer had some nice energetic (and quiet) scenes with Denzel Washington but overall it just had too much fat on it, like a steak you have to cut all the grizzle away to get at the meat.

Ridley Scott - American Gangster - 2007
(rewatch)
A Denzel Washington film with a nice touch of rawness and alpha madness. Cast includes Idris Elba, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Ted Levine, John Ortiz, and Jon Polito.

3.2.2019 - 3.3.2019
Nic Pizzolatto, Daniel Sackheim & Jeremy Saulnier - True Detective season three - 2019
The first season of True Detective is one of the few television programs I thoroughly enjoy (except for the offensive sex scene that plays out over the Vashti Bunyan's Train Song). I have watched it about 4 times now and ready for another, it just has a fantastic ambience and is put together so well. The second season is not unlike The Godfather Part 3. This new season on a single viewing seems to be about at the same level as the first season, but more subtle so perhaps it comes off less virtuosic. Stephen Dorff and Mahershala Ali are really pulling some heavy moves. I know I have seen quite a few Dorff films but he never really made an impression, but his performance here is like a bat out of hell, low key mixed with fire. There seems to be a lot of undercurrent in his performance, like potentially being in the closet but coming off a mix of alpha man and isolating extroverted depressive. Hoping to watch a second time in the next couple of weeks to figure out some of the riddles.

3.4.2019
Spike Lee - Mo' Better Blues - 1990
Another Denzel film. Giancarlo Esposito is always so damn good here, one of my favorite actors.

Michael Winterbottom - The Trip to Spain - 2017
Sequel to The Trip to Italy and The Trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

3.5.2019
Charles Burnett - To Sleep with Anger - 1990
I really love Burnett's Killer of Sheep. First time seeing this one. Pictured above is Sy Richardson who makes a pretty strong impression in Repo Man.

John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein - Game Night - 2018

Tony Scott - Man on Fire - 2004
Another Denzel Washington film. Very strange (a little dated) visual effects in this film, gets almost psychedelic.

Jeff Tomsic - Tag - 2018

3.6.2019
Barbara Loden - Wanda - 1970
(rewatch)
One hell of a film by Barbara Loden, shot on 16mm.  Her performance is unique beautiful, also Michael Higgins is one of the best character actors from the 70s, mostly I think of him as the odd looking guy from The Conversation. My partner in crime loves to quote Higgins in this film with his "no garbage" bit, on the hamburgers.

Hirokazu Kore-eda - Like Father, Like Son - 2013
Slowly going through this master's films. I love the actor Lily Franky seen above in center.

3.7.2019
Morgan Neville - Won't You Be My Neighbor - 2018

3.8.2019
Stephen Nomura Schible - Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda - 2017
One of the best documentaries on a composer. Sakamoto's reactions to listening to his music, the joy and excitement, were just so beautiful to watch. A film I will watch over and over. A must see for any Tarkovsky fan as well.

3.9.2019
Ang Lee - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - 2000
(rewatch)
Hard to not watch and try and figure out how the hell they did most of these shots/action sequences.

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.


2.18.2019
Lee Chang-dong - Secret Sunshine - 2010
(rewatch)
This is a really fantastic film, my wife got the blu-ray so we will probably watch it often.

2.19.2019
James Mangold - Cop Land - 1997
(rewatch)
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
(rewatch)
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.

2.20.2019
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
(rewatch)
One of great Italian films, worth many viewings. I hadn't realized Olmi died recently, his films are really unique and special.

2.21.2019
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight - 2015
(rewatch)
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.

2.22.2019
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
(rewatch)
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.

2.23.2019
Robert Bresson - Mouchette - 1967
(rewatch)
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.

2.24.2019
Seth MacFarlane - Ted - 2012
(rewatch)

2.25.2019
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.

2.26.2019
Steven Spielberg - Schindler's List - 1993
(rewatch)
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.



2.27.2019
Newt Arnold - Bloodsport - 1988
(rewatch)
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.

Monday, February 18, 2019

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

2.10.2019
Olivier Assayas - Personal Shopper - 2016
Very nice film by Mr. Assayas. On paper it would seem like something too strange or not necessarily interesting enough but it worked great on the big screen. I love the ghost photography, very beautiful. Strange to see Hilma af Klint mentioned... but it worked well in relationship to the plot. Successfully "dark" film as well, meaning visually a lack of light in much of it. I really love Assayas L'Eau froide from 1994, and should rewatch his 90s films like Irma Vep, Clean, and others.

Gus Van Sant - Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot - 2018

2.13.2019
Hirokazu Kore-eda - Shoplifters - 2018
Beautiful film. Story unfolds in a strange way; little to no details are given on characters and plot, yet clarity finally come together but things also remain clear as mud. This strategy really gives this film a unique elegance. Would love to watch more times.

2.14.2019
Hirokazu Kore-eda - After the Storm - 2016
The main actor looks like Gregory Peck. Really good film, an alternative on the private dick film. Kore-eda's films are something quite unique and have a devastating quietness that rings loudly as a filmic experience.

2.15.2019
Susanne Bier - After the Wedding - 2006
(rewatch)
Heavy acting by Mads Mikkelsen and Rolf Lassgård. Problematic film.

2.16.2019
Wim Wenders - Wings of Desire - 1987
(rewatch)
Bruno Ganz! Perfect film I have watched dozens of times.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

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

1.24.2019
Henry King - The Gunfighter - 1950
(Univers du western)
Had not seen this one starring Gregory Peck as the outlaw Jimmy Ringo. Always a pleasure to see the great Millard Mitchell, here he stars as Marshal Mark Strett, once a dirty son of a bitch and now a marshal. Stunning black and white photography by Arthur C. Miller. Very good film.

Oren Moverman - The Messenger - 2009
(rewatch)
Starring Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson. An important contemporary film worth more than one viewing, I also like Moverman's other film with Woody Harrelson; Rampart.  Also worth a look for fans of Samantha Morton and Steve Buscemi, both give strong performances. Very nice color palette in the film as well, gives a subtle ambiance throughout the film you wouldn't necessarily be able to pinpoint but is strongly present.

1.25.2019
André De Toth - The Indian Fighter - 1955
(Univers du western)
Another fifties western I had not seen. I am a big fan of De Toth, Kirk Douglas  and Walter Matthau but I couldn't get into this one. Maybe worth it to see Hank Worden and Elisha Cook Jr. (as a Edward S. Curtis type photographer).

Christopher Nolan - Memento - 2000
(rewatch)
Recently I watched Soderbergh's The Limey from 1999 and both films have a quality of transition between the 1990s and the 2000s. Each decade (in popular) cinema had a very distinct style, and looking back one sees some films that have this strange uber-90s quality (90s films on drugs), a quality that becomes very common in films from the 2000s decade.  Other works could include Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight and Boogie Nights from the late 90s, Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket from 1996, and Todd Solondz's Happiness from 1998. One could also include Fincher but his Fight Club is really one shite film, written by an author who's popularity truly boggles the mind.  Besides the brief bit of negativity, I wonder what are some other transitional films? On re-watching Memento after almost 10 years, an observation is that the story is basically not interesting and gets in the way. Obviously the films novelty lies in the way it is told, that sounds all good and proper but one wonders if this kind of alternative linear story telling works better in literature? Raymond Queneau's Exercices de style is a great example of a story with basically no interest transforming into a page turner.  Contemporary director's obsession with Kubrickian structure is something that is hard not to criticize, for this viewer at least (Tarantino, Nolan, etcetery). Directors that are definitely important but can one really say their experiments with structure are what make their films worth watching?  Some of the experimental editing in The Limey really stood out as dated and sophomoric, and got in the way of the film. Regardless of this criticism, I did enjoy this film, it is one of those films I have watched over the years starting from around age 23 and here I am approaching middle age. Not unlike the madeleine cookies method of film viewing (cookie pluralized for extra emphasis).

After writing the above text, some more transitional 1990/2000s film came to mind :  The Sixth Sense (1999), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Big Lebowski (1998), and The Truman Show (1998). Very much related to the early 80s films that are like uber 70s films.

1.26.2019
Ingmar Bergman - Wild Strawberries - 1957
(rewatch)
This is the Berman film I have seen the most, not necessarily my favorite but I owned the DVD for a time and would watch it often. The nightmare/dream sequences had much to do with the constant re-watching, also the character and performance of the director Victor Sjöström.  Gunnar Fischer's photography is so very enchanting here, perhaps not as moody and extreme as Sven Nykvist's but equally engaging, more subtle in a way. My friends and I had a musical collective for a while primarily rotating around the mood of Bergman films. Our moniker came out of hearing "ingenting" repeated so often in his films, I caught it once in Wild Strawberries from Ingrid Thulin. Such a lovely word in Swedish.

1.24.2019 - 1.26.2019
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season two

1.27.2019
Michael Cimino - Thunderbolt and Lightfoot - 1974
(rewatch)
Second time seeing this but it has been a long time. Mostly remembered the absurdity of it, a strange sense of humor like with the rabbits in the trunk and "fuck a duck". Humor reminds me more of Clint Eastwood films like Every Which Way but Loose, which this viewer watched over and over as a kid. Such a sad ending, I can understand Jeff Bridges getting an Oscar nomination for this film. Also it is always a pleasure to see Geoffrey Lewis on the big screen.

Nicole Holofcener - The Land of Steady Habits - 2018
Didn't like this film but watched it because I am an enthusiast of Ben Mendelsohn.

1.28.3019
Lewis Gilbert - Alfie - 1966
(rewatch)
Goddamn great film, and also such pleasure to hear the lovely Burt Bacharach song. Michael Caine has some subtle moves, from Harry Brown to Get Carter, his talents go far beyond catching birds.

1.29.2019
Sophie Huber - Harry Dean Stanton Partly Fiction - 2012
Really nice film, and a great portrait of one of the greatest.

Martin Ritt - Hud - 1963
(Univers du western, rewatch)
Two films this week with Melvyn Douglas, this and The Tenant.

1.30.2019
Robert Redford - Ordinary People - 1980
(rewatch)
Saw this in middle school and I am sure the story was too complicated for me. Film has a good feel to it but a bit dated. Timothy Hutton didn't really grab me with his acting but visually was perfect for the role.

George Roy Hill - The Sting - 1973
(rewatch)
Solid film.

Roman Polanski - The Tenant - 1976
(rewatch)
Polanski sure makes an homely women. Recently watched Topor in Nosferatu the Vampyre, and it made me want to watch this film. The novel is really something quite strange that I have looked at from time to time. Great film even if not one of his best.

1.31.2019
Jack Hill - Coffy - 1973
No me gusta.

Matthew Saville - Felony - 2014
(rewatch)
Didn't hit me the second time around. First time I enjoyed as I wasn't familiar with Joel Edgerton, but I like him in other films more.

2.1.2019
Steve McQueen - Widows - 2018
Started with a bang but lost momentum, story too complicated. McQueen sure has a great visual style that makes it worth watching. Shame, Hunger and 12 Years a Slave some of the best contemporary films that leave most in the dust.

Damien Chazelle - First Man - 2018
I couldn't get too far into this film, sorry for the bad joke but it didn't have The Right Stuff. Didn't like La La Land either but a tad better than this one. Whiplash isn't bad but the music being some disneyesque contemporary jazz makes it hard to take seriously despite the fine qualities.

2.3.2019
Richard Donner - Lethal Weapon - 1987
(rewatch)
Richard Donner - Lethal Weapon 2 - 1989
(rewatch)
Hadn't seen these since I was in middle school/high school. Glover is real good in them, Gibson hard to deal with. Richard Donner made some good films, the best being Inside Moves with John Savage and David Morse. Superman and The Omen also very good. I prefer 48 Hours, but it was worth it to see Arjen Rudd's "diplomatic immunity" at the end of the 2nd film, which has stayed in my mind since I first saw it.

2.4.2019
John G. Avildsen - Save the Tiger - 1973
(rewatch)
This is one of those great underrated 70s films, not perfect but the problems only add to the quality.  Has some really uncomfortable moments which are a strong part of the 70s experience, and also a strange LA film, with a different kind of Angel experience (similar to the New York in The French Connection). Avildsen's next big film was Rocky.

Samuel Fuller - Forty Guns - 1957
(Univers du western, rewatch)
A classic one, always loved the high contrast photography by Joseph F. Biroc.

2.5.2019
Nicholas Ray - Johnny Guitar - 1954
(Univers du western, rewatch)
A few times seeing this film, this current time I found the Emma Small character to just be a bit too much, perhaps the psychological motivations behind her actions not subtle enough to stand up to multiple viewings, a great film regardless. Any excuse to see Sterling Hayden play guitar and shoot a fire arm at a punk-ass kid.

Peter Collinson - The Italian Job - 1969
(rewatch)
Noël Coward, Benny Hill and Michael Caine. Good stuff.

2.6.2019
George Stevens - A Place in the Sun - 1951
(rewatch)
Montgomery Clift is up there in the top 10 greatest pursuers of actorshippe. This film drags a tad and is at many times almost too intense to watch but worth it for his and Elizabeth Taylor's performances.

Anton Corbijn - A Most Wanted Man - 2014
(rewatch)
John le Carré, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Vicky Krie, Rachel McAdams, and Willem Dafoe. The German accents though, not sure if they work? Nice ambiance in this film.

2.7.2019
Hal Needham - Smokey and the Bandit - 1977
(rewatch)
Very colorful language from Jackie Gleason, yet he won't abide cussing in his presence. Film moves in a way that is rare these days. Really surprised the shit out of me seeing Hank Worden for half a second (image above).

Ron Shelton - Bull Durham - 1988
Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins. Good names for the two male leads; Nuke and Crash.

2.8.2019
Rob Cohen - Daylight - 1996
No me gusta


Francis Ford Coppola - The Conversation - 1974
(rewatch)
It hadn't dawned on me previously that Caul's own phone at the end is the devise used to bug his apartment and the destruction of that fine SF apartment was mostly a waste... also hadn't noticed previously all the beautiful layers of gaudy wallpaper exposed by his violence, not unlike the French art where layers of street posters intermingle. I am use to seeing this film on a television screen, but projected (as was done last night) many details emerge. Besides Gene Hackman, this film has three really overwhelmingly strong performances; Allen Garfield, Michael Higgins, and of course John Cazale. A misconception would be that these three guys spent a lot of money on hair grease. Allen Garfield's crease paved the way for many actors seeking a left handed approach to acting. Purchased the fine soundtrack and spent a few evenings listening which suggested watching this classic 70s film. In 2007 this blog featured a list of must see films from the 1970s found here.

Walter Hill - 48 Hrs - 1982
(rewatch)
Walter Hill did some fine films, mostly this one, The Warriors, The Driver, and writing for Aliens, The Getaway, and The MacKintosh Man. Have seen this a few times the last 2-3 years, it is just one hell of a good film with the cowboy bar scene being one of the funniest from the decade. Includes some actors from The Warriors - James Remar and David Patrick Kelly. Kelly is a favorite actor of mine, his performances in Twin PeaksThe Longest Yard and The Funeral are memorable. Pretty funny that he was cast as the therapist in Louie, as he is always the craziest sob in the room!

2.9.2019
Wachowski - The Matrix - 1999
(rewatch)
Rewatched this trying to remember why I have hated the film so much over the years. Thought it was dated as hell when it came out, a bit like an avocado starting to go brown. Putting it together now; the third tier poser goth aesthetics just didn't feel right back in old '99. The editing and stylistic elements of the film are just tasteless and heavy-handed. An example is a quick movement happens in the frame after a quick edit, and the filmmakers adds in a movement sound just in case some viewer out there didn't get it. The lie of the "hacker" as some kind of well meaning anarchist is a load of horse pucky, the reality is they are melonfamers out there trying to rip off the poor and the elderly. There must be other people out there that equally despise these directors?

Chad Stahelski, David Leitch - John Wick - 2014
(rewatch)
Definitely a more enjoyable Keanu Reeves experience. Starts out with a great idea and remains heavy the entire film with a great cast. Was sad to read that Michael Nyqvist, who plays Viggo Tarasov, had passed away. His sympathetic heavy role is kind of unique and he plays it brilliantly. Great actor.