Tuesday, February 18, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and five (being a film journal)

2.15.2020
Abdellatif Kechiche La Vie d'Adèle - Chapitres 1 et 2 (Blue Is the Warmest Color) 2013
Manohla Dargis has eloquently written on the flaws of this film related to the “male gaze”. In addition the actresses have complained about working conditions during the long and up front scenes of coitus. I avoided this film for many years because it seemed offensive for a man to make a film of lesbian lovers going at it, but after seeing it I am a bit perplexed on how I as a spectator should feel. The film is a beautiful love story, incredibly tragic and over the top emotionally. The two actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux give some of the most gut wrenching performances imaginable, and especially Exarchopoulos total descent into melancholia is something I cannot imagine too many popular young American actresses being capable of. The film is stunning in its physical qualities, something often times rare in the Post-Bressonian world of French Cinema where directors make the decision to avoid the je ne sais quoi. This film is alive with color and light, memorable edits, sound design and overall filmic magic. I do find many of the intellectual reasons for disliking this film valid but in all honesty I loved the film and see it as something quite special in the long list of great films from the last 10 years.

Luca Guadagnino The Staggering Girl 2019

2.16.2020
Tony Richardson Tom Jones 1963
The Criterion Blu-ray features an overview of and interview with cinematographer Walter Lassally, placing his hand held camera work concurrently with the French New Wave cinematographers Raoul Coutard and Henri Decaë. His other seminal films with Richardson were A Taste of Honey and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. His photography for this film really goes beyond what was seen or executable in the day, especially during the dog chase where he mixes aerial footage with hand held work from the back of a vehicle with hand held on the ground shooting. Being a viewer who is much more deeply in tune with the British New Wave, this honoring of Lassally was good business. Brilliant film.

Karel Zeman The Fabulous Baron Munchausen 1962
Very interesting use of color with many scenes contrasting deep reds with out of this world yellows. Enjoyed the music by Zdenek Liska.

Jeremy Saulnier Blue Ruin 2013
Was not a fan of Green Room, so avoided this film but after finally watching admit it is quite something. Quietly f*cked up, with most of the time subtle happenings on the screen except an underlying dread hovering around beautiful landscapes, trash bars, or dark suburban streets, with moments of extreme violence creeping in when they can not be contained any longer. Very different from what people now are calling, I understand, torture pornography.

Trey Edward Shults Waves 2019
The film is broken up in two segments, firstly focusing on the brother Tyler (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and his descent into iniquity and the ne plus ultra of fire and anger. We then focus on the sister Emily (played by Taylor Russell) and the repercussions of Tyler’s wickedness, her relationship with Luke (played by Lucas Hedges) and hovering between ecstasy and tragedy. Connecting the two segments we have the father so excellently performed by Sterling K. Brown, and structural camera work hovering somewhere between Michael Snow’s La Région centrale, Cuarón’s Children of Men and Sergey Urusevskiy’s impossible camera work for Soy Cuba/I Am Cuba. Waves directory of photography Drew Daniels gives both sections of the film memorable sequences with a camera methodically spinning in the interior of a moving vehicle offering fragments of the characters and their moods in relationship to the Floridian environment moving quickly by. The majority of the film but especially Tyler’s section has bizarre camera work, leaving the spectator in total bliss. Many moments in the film the image transcends into total color field abstractions similar to the work of Jeremy Blake or the painters Mark Rothko or Helen Frankenthaler. The color work for the film was quite extreme with heavily saturated colors so we are confronted with an ocean of dark blues interfered with here and there by dark deep reds. A few times the color work got a little out of hand and artifacts or aberrations appeared, like in Tyler’s bedroom where the curtains looked like Brakhage hand painted them. Great film and an intense emotional ride which I would love to get on again.

Alan Holly Coda 2013

Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart Begone Dull Care 1949
(rewatch?)

2.17.2020
Lindsay Anderson Britannia Hospital 1982

Herschell Gordon Lewis Two Thousand Maniacs! 1994
Good ol' fashion Southern Sadism.

Alex Pettyfer Back Roads 2018

John Sayles Passion Fish 1992
(rewatch)
One of those perfect films. Definition of humble.

2.18.2020
William Cameron Menzies Invaders from Mars 1953

Monte Hellman The Shooting 1966
(rewatch)
Hadn't seen since the VHS days. Loved the ending which resembles the abstraction of Two-Lane Blacktop. And padre; Warren Oates is so bloody good in this film.

Vincent Gallo Buffalo '66 1998
(rewatch)
Hadn't seen in 10 years or so, holds up very well. Classic '90s film. Great use of King Crimson's Moonchild, Stan Getz's I Remember When, and Yes in the strip club. Recording of Vincent Gallo Sr.'s Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread) quite lovely as well with Ben Gazzara lip-syncing on the verge of tears. Has a Dennis Hopper quality. Gallo always uses music so well in his films, in addition to his own downer tunes. Photography seems inspired by William Eggleston, especially when camera focuses on Kevin Corrigan's belly. Great film!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and four (being a film journal)

2.1.2020
Bong Joon-ho Parasite 2019
(rewatch)
This second viewing focused my attention more clearly on the obsession with smell that the rich man has, a sickness so common today and brings to mind Harry Dean Stanton great description in Repo Man; "ordinary fucking people". Class oriented as critics are saying, but coming from a post-yuppie culture where everything needs to be bleach sanitized or it is unspeakable. Taking Buddhist meditation classes, the teacher taught that our minds need cultivation, as our bodies after a week of not being cleaned will reek with stink. Respect!

Jerry Schatzberg Scarecrow 1973
(rewatch)
Nothing better than a film where you can hear the camera (diner scene towards the beginning).  Shot by Vilmos, great film.

2.2.2020
Frank Perry Play It as It Lays 1972
Antonioni style sexual malaise. Beautifully jarring editing, almost ellipsis quality with many frames missing. Quite lovely to see this style of hard cut. Another film with that pleasant camera sound, as Tuesday Weld strokes Anthony Perkins hair as he fades. Heavy film with nice European style writing by Joan Didion.

2.3.2020
Sidney J. Furie The Ipcress File 1965
(rewatch)
Michael Caine has much bird talk in this film, and a plot that often times is difficult to understand but in a Chandler way where the lack of clarity is good stuff. Very innovative use of electronic sound when they are analyzing the Ipcress File tape, and latter with brainwashing techniques. This period in cinema one often finds heavy-handed reverb on folly sounds, such as footsteps, to represent the space of architecture and reverberant sound. The techniques they used to my ear sounds artificial and overly electronic, yet this artificiality is actually something I find I look forward to in older films, the magic of cinema, experiencing the world through the many techniques that go into making a film.

Peter Weir Fearless 1993
Jeff Bridges, Isabella Rossellini, Rosie Perez and John Turturro.

Ivan Passer Cutter’s Way 1981
(rewatch)
Perfect film I love to watch over and over with the outstanding John Heard playing along side Jeff Bridges. Heard was one of those great underappreciated actors, especially good in Chilly Scenes of Winter, and The Sopranos.

2.4.2020
Arthur Hiller The Hospital 1971
George C. Scott film. He is wonderful in it, but film is sort of mediocre. Has some good moments, and good comedy. The rather attractive Diana Rigg plays Olenna Tyrell in GOT.

2.5.2020
Michael Winner Death Wish 1974
(rewatch)
Becoming one of those films I rewatch fairly frequently. Great film.

2.6.2020
Stanley Kramer The Defiant Ones 1958
(rewatch)
Outstanding high contrast black and white photography with an emphasis on darks by Sam Leavitt.

Robert Aldrich The Big Knife 1955
(rewatch)

2.10.2020
Céline Sciamma Portrait de la jeune fille en feu 2019
Saw this in the wonderful Cinerama Dome in Hollywood with Sciamma Q&A.

Terry Zwigoff Ghost World 2001
(rewatch)

2.11.2020
Hal Ashby Harold and Maude 1971
(rewatch)
Along with Clockwork Orange and a few others, this was for me as an early teen a gateway film into the world of art cinema. The film is a really unique portrait of an alternative The Bay Area; Hillsborough, Emeryville Mudflats, Colma, South San Francisco, and of course the Sutro Baths before the heavy renovation.

Robert Altman The Player 1992
(rewatch)
Not my favorite Altman film, but always enjoy the not quite accurate cinema history especially that of films with long takes by the Fred Ward character.

2.12.2020
William Dieterle Portrait of Jennie 1948
(rewatch)
Some wonderful storm photography, much like Clarence Brown's The Rains Came, shot by Joseph H. August and Lee Garmes. One of those truly magical films.

Tony Scott The Hunger 1983(rewatch)
Scott's directorial debut and early film for Willem Defoe (2nd Phone Booth Youth). Was on a plane this week and saw Mr. Defoe in first class, he said "pardon me" to my wife. Great film with some truly original editing and sound work, some similar to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner or Alien, but going in a far more extreme direction, aggressive and avant'garde.

2.13.2020
Andrea Arnold Wuthering Heights 2011
Shot by the outstandingly virtuosic Robbie Ryan, every frame of this film is alive with detail like a Netherlandish painting. The way the camera moves in and around the action is at times subtle and often times in your face. The focus work for this film is from another planet. Ryan has also shot; I, Daniel Blake, Catch Me Daddy, Wasp, Fish Tank, Marriage Story, The Favourite, The Meyerowitz Stories, American Honey, Philomena, and Sorry We Missed You.

2.14.2020
John Carpenter Assault on Precinct 13 1976
(rewatch)
1970s urban Western, originally titled The Anderson Alamo, and inspired by Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo and George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Carpenter used John Wayne's character in Rio Bravo "John T. Chance" as his editing pseudonym. Never noticed before that Officer Chaney here is played by Henry Brandon, who was Scar/Cicatriz in The Searchers. Father who takes revenge on his daughter getting shot resembles James Woods, has that classic 1970s sleaze look about him. Watched the Scream Factory Blu-Ray twice, second time with John Carpenter commentary. Stills show a real Western style shoot out.

Andrea Arnold Wasp 2003
Beautiful short film by Arnold shot by Robbie Ryan. Starting from a path cleared out by Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, and Alan Clarke, yet transforming into something very much her own. Intense business.

Edward Norton Motherless Brooklyn 2019
After reading the book, it was surprising how much Norton changed the story with his screenplay, very impressive work. A scene that really stood out was in the jazz club (that had an interior quite similar to the West Village's 55 Bar) where Norton aggressively hums along to Michael Kenneth Williams trumpet playing and dances with Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Great looking film, shot by Dick Pope.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and three (being a film journal)




1.25.2020
Joachim Trier Oslo, August 31st 2011
Absolutely stunning film with quite a novel method of dealing with the perception of time and reality and how it is muddled/blurred by imagination, the past and the future and also the magic of temporal abstractions in cinema. In a filmic interpretation of the world, one does not have to follow mundane rules of existence, but can move about in alternative methods. Many sequences in this film I (in a positive sense) had no ability to get a foothold on, not understanding if the camera was following a character's potential or a filmic dream state, or a poetic interpretation of something ordinary. Quite a heavy ending our hero finds himself in, which was difficult to watch but full of poetry.

Joachim Trier Thelma 2017
Not as engaging as Oslo, August 31st, but still worth watching.

1.26.2020
Bill Forsyth Local Hero 1983
Unusual film from the early 1980s. Mostly know the star Peter Riegert from The Sopranos where he plays Assemblyman Ronald Zellman. Here he plays a slightly melancholic yuppie on the verge of entering some form of Scottish hippiedom, but doesn't quite get there. Very good ambiance in this film, esoteric humour with a good amount of nonsense, and plenty of alcohol. Quite enjoyed it.

1.27.2020
Louis Malle Atlantic City 1980
(rewatch)
Two nights of Burt Lancaster, an actor I really became preoccupied with after seeing Robert Siodmak's 1949 Bunker Hill exploration Criss Cross in my early 20s. This classic late 1970s / early 1980s picture has an unusual feel, being a Frenchman's portrait of a decaying American city, and of a man who has seen better days. Similar to a film later in this list: Model Shop by Jacques Demy, European interpretations of America in non prosperous periods.

Kenji Misumi Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades 1972

Larry Cohen God Told Me To 1976

Robert Clouse The Ultimate Warrior 1975

1.28.2020
Kenji Misumi Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons 1973
This entry has a bit of a Buddhist quality about it, but not as good as the first two. Also watched part of the fourth entry Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril.but turned off early on.

Yoshiyuki Kuroda Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell 1974
The last entry didn't excite me as much as some of the earlier ones. One key ingredient to the early films, and missing in these latter ones, is the strange bursts of electronic music, often times these bursts seemed completely random, other times not, and always adding in some extreme ambiance into the film. The sound design in general was pretty strange in the early films, with sword sounds heard backwards, and spray sounds having a completely out there presence. These elements missing make the films sort of boring.

1.29.2020
Thomas McGuane 92 in the Shade 1975
(rewatch)
Directed by the writer McGuane who wrote Rancho Deluxe (1975) and The Missouri Breaks (1976). Truly perfect 1970s film shot by Michael C. Butler and starring Margot Kidder, Warren Oates, Peter Fonda, Harry Dean Stanton, Burgess Meredith, and William Hickey.

John Frankenheimer Prophecy 1979

1.30.2020
Jacques Demy Model Shop 1969
This bloody beautiful film, featured prominently in Los Angeles Plays Itself. Devastatingly groove and doom oriented music by Spirit, along with Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Schumann. Particularly love the prog-psych Spirit heaviness as we follow George Matthews (played by Gary Lockwood, known for Dr. Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey) through a dark grimy Los Angeles sleaze infested hallway in the Model Shop. Grimy but full of charm. Anouk Aimée so very wonderful in this film, just stunning and such a subtle performance. Fred Willard shows up as a gas station attendant. Seems like half of this film is George Matthews driving around the city, much of the time with the only sound being the classical music either coming from his radio or the cosmos. From time to time we hear the motor or the sounds of the city creeping in. Very poetic in its construction, as is the dialogue where conversations feel especially European (the geometry of the city....). Tarantino sites as influence on Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, and you can clearly see this as our hero drives about the city, and also picks up a young lady hitchhiking from which he acquires a J. Going to Los Angeles next week so this perfect film is really setting up the mood for the visit.

James Landis The Sadist 1963
Damn strange film that lives up to its title. Quite a brutal depiction of an American psychopath whom would read the great Marquis de Sade if perhaps he could. This film could be added to the history of sports films in that they are attempting to go to a game but get waylaid.





1.31.2020
John Carpenter Starman 1984
Starring the wonderful Karen Allen and Charles Martin Smith, and a nominated performance by Jeff Bridges. The final section of the film puts the viewer in total jouissance with one of the great pieces of film music by Jack Nitzsche along with utterly gorgeous cinematography by Donald M. Morgan  where we see light abstraction along with a cosmic snowfall over lush luminescent reds and blues. Great cameo by George "Buck" Flower most known for Carpenter's They Live (pictured above along with ending).

Adam McKay Step Brothers 2008
Felt like a little Richard Jenkins comedy.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and two (being a film journal)

1.18.2020
Christian Petzold Phoenix 2014
Entrenched in bird song and Kurt Weill's Speak Low. Stunning performance by Nina Hoss, really loved this film.

Céline Sciamma Bande de filles (Girlhood) 2014
Great double feature, 2 films from 2014. Sciamma means business.

1.19.2020
Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz Messiah of Evil 1973
Bleeding eyes means you are in trouble, and it is too late.  Discovered when watching Thom Andersen's Los Angeles Plays Itself. A bizarre film starring Joy Bang, notable for telling Woody Allen he is a watcher, not a doer in Play It Again, Sam, and also in Cisco Pike and Night of the Cobra Woman. Strangely perplexing performances from Marianna Hill, Royal Dano ("they took me, and they did this to me"), Anitra Ford and Elisha Cook Jr. Walter Hill shows up as the Stabbing victim in Prologue. The Albino Trucker scenes are beyond disturbing, and I love his Wagner pronunciation. The Ralphs section so extremely nightmarish and of course it is hard to not think of the Dude writing a check for milk in The Big Lebowski with George Bush's "this aggression will not stand". Williard Huyck is known for writing American Graffiti, which boggles the mind a tad as it is so very different from this film. A pleasant lack of kitsch in this film, there is a Night of the Living Dead minimalism about it that gives the film a unique quality. The nightmarish art in the father's house really permeates the rest of the film and seeing his burnt corpse on the floor looks like some bizarre Viennese Actionist work or straight out of Japanese Gutai. Early sequence (and then again the last shot) of a light decimated hallway in a mental institution with our star wondering through looked like Ernie Gehr was asked to shoot it after the director saw his 1970 film Serene Velocity, wouldn't that be wonderful. Great film.

Saul Bass Phase IV 1974
(rewatch)

1.19.2020
Kenji Misumi Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance 1972

1.21.2020
Wong Kar-wai Happy Together 1997
(rewatch)
I have watched most Wong Kar-wai films many times over and over and this is by far his best for this viewer. Perhaps one of the greatest shots in film history is when Leslie Cheung is leaving the bar in a cab with Tony Leung receding in the street with Frank Zappa's Chunga's Revenge adding psychedelic overtones. Rest in Peace Leslie Cheung!

David Lynch WHAT DID JACK DO? 2017

1.22.2020
Lee Jeong-beom The Man from Nowhere 2010
Not a great film but has a couple of action sequences that are quite stunning.

1.23.2020
Kenji Misumi Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx 1972
This is possibly the most intense action film I have seen, at least in the Samurai genre. Beautifully put together, boggles the mind how they made it. Have never seen blood look so magnificent, every line like poetry too.

Edward Yang Yi Yi 2000

1.24.2020
Michael Mann Heat 1995
(rewatch)
Heat I watch once or twice a year. Here are some observations from this current viewing:
  • Like Mann's Thief, the criminals rarely use word contractions but instead say I am instead of I'm. Even if not taking note of this during a viewing, the dialogue has a strange quality.
  • Pacino's performance might come off as his later period bravado, but if you watch over and over and tune into the subtleties, there are many nuances perhaps not initially clear. Listening to the (very good) Rewatchables podcast, they noted Pacino said in an interview that in the beginning of thinking about his Lt. Vincent Hanna character, he was supposed to be perpetually coked up. Pacino had that in mind when doing the performance, which comes across very clearly on multiple viewings. He is often hyper aware and mentally on overdrive. The in between moments of him processing information and then boredom is especially noticeably in the famous restaurant scene.
  • I was quite shocked to see this interview where De Niro and Pacino write off the qualities of previous films they shared roles in, and consider The Irishman to be the first genuine collaboration. Can these 2 greats not gauge their own performances and the qualities of Heat?
  • Val Kilmer is not an actor that ever moved me but damn he gives one great performance here. His reactions during scenes of dialogue is so calculated. The way he moves through space and fires his weapon during the bank heist sequence is honestly unreal. I feel like I am watching actual footage of military trained criminals when watching this.
  • The director of photography Dante Spinotti has a great eye. Watching this projected one notices how much of the photography is shot close-up to action and actors.
  • Over many repeat viewings; if one considers the bank heist to be an ultimate example of cinematic magic and perfection of acting/photography/editing/sound design (with Brian Eno getting the ball rolling) and think of it as the pinnacle of the film, then you realize the idea of a pinnacle section of the film is confused because there is not one dull moment preceding this sequence and not one dull moment after. How rare is a film that can carry that kind of momentum throughout and have the idea of a pinnacle structure become blurred. Meaning the film itself is really at level 10 throughout, and perhaps the bank heist is at 11?
  • I remember seeing this film when it came out in a nowheresville theater outside Boston with my father. One of those films that delves into my personal art of memory... 
  • A viewer obsessed with 4AD and ECM, then this is one great film with music ranging from Terje Rypdal and David Darling to Michael Brooks and Lisa Gerrard. Moby's two contributions are some of the best parts of the film. Mann has a great sense of music + picture relationship up there with Kenneth Anger and Martin Scorsese.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and one (being a film journal)

12.30.2019
Todd Douglas Miller Apollo 11 2019
Beautiful archival photography here but as a film it really doesn't have that impact that Al Reinert offers with his For All Mankind from 1989 which features music from Brian Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.

Tom Harper Wild Rose 2018

Michael Tyburski The Sound of Silence 2019
Interesting idea, Peter Sarsgaard as a gentleman that tunes houses and documents the effects of sound in different parts of New York City.

12.31.2019
Pedro Almodóvar Pain and Glory 2019
Superb film with some stunning performances by Antonio Banderas and Asier Etxeandia.

Jia Zhangke A Touch of Sin 2013
Slowly going through the work of Jia Zhangke. Damn good film.

1.1.2020
Hirokazu Kore-eda Nobody Knows 2004
Also slowly going through the work of Kore-eda. Solid and emotionally intense film.

Bong Joon-ho The Host 2006
(rewatch)
Watching and rewatching works by Bong Joon-ho, some I liked at the time, some I was not sure about. The Host not as solid as Parasite or Memories of Murder, but pretty damn good. Still have to see his Barking Dogs Never Bite.

1.2.2010
Park Chan-wook Oldboy 2003
(rewatch)
A film that I have had mixed feelings on over the years. Regardless of its shortcomings, it is a beautifully put together film with some sequences that are just stunning to the eyes and ears, especially when our hero is engaging in violence.

Susan Seidelman Desperately Seeking Susan 1985
(rewatch)
Hard to get into a film with Madonna, but this film has some solid moments, and it was great to see NYC in 1985. Many heavy actors (and non-actors) show up like Laurie Metcalf, Will Patton, Steven Wright, Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro, Victor Argo, Richard Hell, Rockets Redglare, and Anna Levine.

1.6.2020
Mike Nichols Charlie Wilson’s War 2007
(rewatch)
A great film worth many revisits.

Claire Denis Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil intérieur) 2017

1.7.2020
Todd Phillips Joker 2019
Was expecting to hate this film but it was what an old music teacher of mine use to say; "not without interest". A very good performance by Mr. Phoenix, but the story was a little soft and the photography frankly too slick for me. The comedy bits reminded me of Marty's great performance work in The Big Lebowski (I’d Love It If You Came Over And Gave Me Notes). Great score of course by Hildur Guðnadóttir. Not a film I would probably watch again but it had its moments. I really loved David Harbour's Oscar the Grouch on SNL, would almost rather see that film.

1.8.2020
Lee Chang-dong Burning 2018
(rewatch)
Can watch this over and over, gets better every viewing. Such a perfect ending with a killing that resembles love-making.

1.9.2020
Lynne Ramsay You Were Never Really Here 2017
(rewatch)
One of the best films from 2017, third or fourth viewing. Another film that really starts to come to life after multiple viewings, like a wine that needs a bit of time to breath, there are many moments that wait to reveal themselves to the patient viewer.

1.10.2020
Ryūsuke Hamaguchi Asako I & II 2018

Tsai Ming-liang Rebels of the Neon God 1992
(rewatch)
Was really into Tsai Ming-liang back in the 1990s but had not seen his films much lately, and plan on going through most of them this year. Good stuff, very strange. Beautifully shot by Pen-Jung Liao.

1.11.2020
Ari Aster Midsommar 2019
(rewatch)
I liked parts of this film the first viewing and disliked much of the second half. This second viewing I was a bit more into it but still like Hereditary more. Great camera and sound work, and beautiful set design, quite a lovely film to experience. Still not totally sold on it but a decent film.

1.12.2020
David Lynch Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces 2014

Paul Haggis The Next Three Days 2010
(rewatch)

Heitor Dhalia Gone 2012

1.13.2020
Ridley Scott Alien 1979
(rewatch)
The 1979 theatrical release.

1.14.2020
Shintarō Katsu Zatoichi 1989
Intense fighting sequences and some really stunning low light photography.

Jérémy Clapin I Lost My Body 2019

Stanley Kubrick Eyes Wide Shut 1999
(rewatch)
Rewatched Kubrick's last film as I was wondering why it has become such an essential film for contemporary film enthusiasts. Being a huge lover of Kubrick's films I saw it when it was released but truly hated it. A second viewing a few years later with the same results. Third time now and I still don't see too many outstanding qualities. Thinking about the reasons for this lack of feeling it is mostly a reaction to the lackluster performances by Kidman and Cruise. I normally love Kidman's work but here it really feels insincere and Cruise is even worse except when he is silent and more like a Bressonian model. Sidney Pollack shows up and adds quite a bit, and Cruise gets better as the film progresses, but the soap opera screenplay Kidman struggles with hurts the ears, and the inconsistent lighting and cinematography often times gives the film a B movie feel. The color blue keeps appearing and its artificiality is jarring and for this viewer meaningless (does it refer to blues qualities of depth, stability, trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, heaven, producing a calming effect?). Have not read the book Traumnovelle (Dream Story) but the story reminded me very slightly of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Club Dumas except chronicling here a horny yuppie instead of a sleazy bookseller. The film gets cooking when Cruise visits a prostitute, then his friend playing at a basement bar, then Mr. Milich's costume shop, and finally the Bohemian Grove inspired orgy. The restrictions on what Kubrick could show give the film a great abstract quality, instead of seeing the sex full on, the camera glides through the spaces with obstacles slightly obfuscating the perversions. The character of New York City, at times raw, and other times looking like a set, is very appealing in this film and the Bohemian Grove circle of hell is quite wonderful and not unlike Passolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom environment. Music by Jocelyn Pook gives the film an eerie feel throughout, very Kubrickian like it came directly out of his mind. Really the film is not so bad if you minus the scenes with Kidman and Cruise discussing infidelities, but still not a great one in the master's œuvre.

1.15.2020
Jean-Marc Lamoure Tarr Béla: I Used to Be a Filmmaker 2014
Behind the scenes of The Turin Horse.

1.16.2020
Michael Crichton Westworld 1973
Grew up as a pre-teen watching Michael Crichton's 1981 film Looker over and over on cable. That film was truly transformative for a kid to see and offered a counter culture world view. In addition, there were films like Cherry 2000, They Live, Terminator, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Hidden, and the television show V. A little later for me I saw Repo Man. Westworld would have fit in good, but somehow never saw it, one of the many holes for a kid growing up watching only cable. Compared to Looker, this film is a bit messy and could have used some serious editing or a more thoughtful approach to the total structure of the film. Surely worth watching and better than the HBO show.

Abel Ferrara King of New York 1990
(rewatch)
Really enjoyed the recent Rewatchables podcast featuring Quentin Tarantino on one of his favorite films; King of New York. Perfect film.

1.17.2020
David Cronenberg The Dead Zone 1983
As a kid I remember seeing the end of this film often on the television, but somehow never saw it fully through. Stunning film, with wonderful music by Michael Kamen (not unlike Howard Shore). Christopher Walken offers a perfect performance, and the only thing a little strange is how the film awkwardly combines multiple stories in a way that draws attention to the off-beat structure. Somehow this gives the film an uncomfortable quality which works well.

Riley Stearns The Art of Self-Defense 2019

Brett Haley Hearts Beat Loud 2018