Tuesday, January 23, 2018

plato's cave fifty one (being a film journal) : the owl and the tanager said

David Lowery - A Ghost Story - 2017
“I wanted to engage with the archetypes and iconography of ghost films and haunted house movies, without ever crossing over into actually being a horror film,” quoting writer-director David Lowery. Not positive the film has an intriguing enough dialogue with the horror genre or the archetypes and iconography of them, nor if it distances itself from the genre in a way that works, but this viewer did enjoy the performances and had a heavy bit of depression happen whilst considering the entity's time away from the loved one, and further the interactions with strangers; like getting an ear full from Will Oldham, then to nothingness. Not without interest.

Steven Spielberg - Munich - 2005
Have watched this film many times since it came out. After watching the trailer for the forthcoming The Terror AMC show, I felt like watching a bunch of Ciarán Hinds films. Started with this one. He is such a wonderful actor, I first saw him in Persuasion from 1995, in which he plays Captain Frederick Wentworth alongside the wonderful Amanda Root. Munich is for this viewer possibly the best Spielberg film, it has such a tight rhythm and a beautiful visual pallet, great performances, and not too much hokum appears, the main exception being the love making scene. Spielberg has a tendency to hokum, when he doesn't the films and his abilities to put a picture together are quite rewarding (Duel, The Sugarland Express, Jaws).  Director of photography is the great Janusz Kaminski.

Christopher McQuarrie - Jack Reacher - 2012
Tom Cruise action film. The most watchable of the Cruise recent action films is Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow from 2014, with Emily Blunt, and a screenplay co-written by Christopher McQuarrie. Great film, a sort of Groundhog Day science fiction action film, this viewer has watched it a near half dozen times. Reacher not quite as (re)watchable, but a fine film indeed. It is interesting that instead of going to college, McQuarrie spend 5 years working at a detective agency before starting a career in film. Director of photography is the exceedingly talented Caleb Deschanel.

Paul Brickman - Risky Business -  1983
Didn't have fond memories of this film, last saw in the mid-eighties. On the Tom Cruise trip, so gave it a go. The best part of the film is the train fucking scene with Tangerine Dream, so well crafted visually and the music gives it such a jouissance. Photographed by the great Bruce Surtees (Dirty Harry, Don Siegel, Clint Eastwood films) and Reynaldo Villalobos.

Doug Liman - Edge of Tomorrow - 2014
Discussed above under Jack Reacher. This is a really wonderful film. Besides Blunt and Cruise, you have some great performances by Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, and Noah Taylor. The movie just moves too, like so few do. The connections between familiarity, memory, humor and the absurd mixed with what would be horror (if something like this happened), give it a feel many films these days lack. Some of these contemporary Alien films are so interesting, like 10 Cloverfield Lane, Monsters, where the alien is almost peripheral.

Steven Spielberg - Raiders of the Lost Arc - 1981
Had not seen this since I was a little fellow, mid eighties. Being a huge Lord of the Rings fan, it was great to see John Rhys-Davies, he is a most underrated actor. Also nice to see Denholm Elliott, one of the heavy British actors (A Room with a View), as is Alfred Mollino who is quite absurd in the film. Can't say I am a big fan of the film, a little dated and silly, but hard not to enjoy the pure entertainment of it. Lately I have been trying to re-watch acknowledged classics that never hit me, often times the original assessment was no-where.

Derek Cianfrance - Blue Valentine - 2010
I saw this when it came out, I was single and said to myself this is a film that makes one not want to be in a relationship. It is insanely depressing in that way. Ryan Gosling does a very fine job in this, does some real nice singing. I prefer Mr. Cianfrance's other film The Place Beyond the Pines much more, his last film The Light Between Oceans was nearly unwatchable. Cianfrance's films always look really good. Cinematography by Andrij Parekh.

Lone Scherfig - An Education - 2009
Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard. Alfred Mollina film. Missed when this film came out, it is a very good film if you are a Carey Mulligan fan. She is really breathtaking in it, an extremely watchable film due to her performance and general screen presence. My wife (and film viewing partner) had the idea that  Michelle Williams was slightly overrated, to which I agreed, but said she is good in Drive and Shame. I get the two actresses confused for some reason though, these are Carey Mulligan films. Her performance in these two films are why we watch film, and her singing in Shame (one insanely fucking great film) makes your heart stop.

Spike Lee - 25th Hour - 2002
Felt like watching a film with the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Luca Guadagnino - Call me by your Name - 2017
This is easily the best film of the year, a completely overwhelming and transcendent filmic experience, from the acting to the cinematography to the music.  Being an obsessive lover of Merchant Ivory films, James Ivory's presence greatly enriched this work : "Nearly a decade in the making - much of that time spent with Ivory attached to the film in various positions, from producer to co-director to screenwriter", the film was adapted by André Aciman's novel from 2007, it is a beautiful story. There are moments so strong, they leave you in a state you rarely arrive at with film these days : Elio sitting outside in near dark to a Sufjan Stevens tune as the film flares for quite a while. The film was shot on 35mm using only one lens - a single Cooke S4 35mm lens filming on a Kodak 500 vision 3 film. Photography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, so lovely. There were a couple other flares in the work, when the hell do you see this kind of film-presence these days. So many other mysterious and strong moments; as the two ascent to the waterfall Oliver looks back; it gave me goosebumps, the moment when Oliver rubs Elio's back. The two dancing scenes to The Psychedelic Furs' Love My Way. The final scene as Elio cries by the fire. Also Michael Stuhlbarg's talk with his son on the mysteries of love. Great film!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

plato's cave fifty (being a film journal)

Darren Aronofsky - Mother! - 2017
Finally watched this. First 45 minutes I thought this was one hell of a film... the restrictions of the camera, the fucking sound design is brilliant, the acting is beautiful, but it just got too strange and went to hell. I like Aronofsky's The Wrestler, but have not liked his other work. Listened to his Marc Maron interview recently and he seems to be an interesting fellow, there is a desire when viewing for more subtlety and the art of restriction.

Howard Deutch - Some Kind of Wonderful - 1987
We watched this on cable whilst visiting the parents (plus the Potters). Hadn't seen it. Not my kind of film but Eric Stoltz makes it worth watching and the music was not bad, for an 80s film. Also (tried) watching Baumbach's Kicking and Screaming recently with Stoltz. What is it with these Baumbach films?, also tried watching The Meyerowitz Stories and this question came up again, although I liked Adam Sandler in it.

Harry Potter 4 & 5 (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005 & Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007)
Watched at the rents. Even when they are not brilliant, these films are always very watchable. In addition to the magic of them, the cast begs the viewer to pay attention and to return to them. Any fan of British cinema, Mike Leigh etc... these films are worth watching (actors like : Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs, Timothy Spall, Emma Thompson, Domhnall Gleeson, David Tennant, Peter Mullan, David Bradley, etc). Interesting that they are written for children because I have trouble following the complicated twists and turns.

Harry Potter 6 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009)
Had seen this but didn't remember very well. Good film, starts getting more abstract and dark.

Harry Potter 7 & 8 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Parts 1 & 2, 2010, 2011)
For some reason I had never watched these last 2. They were quite good. Abstract. Dark and heavy. I love Ralph Fiennes in them, when I was a young man I worked at a movie theater and took his movie ticket, quite an experience. He has some real life and screen presence, a wonderful actor.

Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird - 2017
I had reservations seeing this because I thought Frances Ha was a piece of millennial nonsense, and I really didn't find Gerwig appealing in that film. Attempted to watch the film without prejudice and I was deeply engaged with it. For starters : Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Saoirse Ronan, Lucas Hedges... it has a really great cast. More like actor's actors (Metcalf and Letts). They give such depth to this film, which has depth on its own. I think the film could have gone a bit further and gotten away a bit from being sentimental, but it is one that I will return to. Metcalf in Horace and Pete was truly brilliant! One of the most sublime performances I have seen. She is one of the most underrated living actors working today.

Ron Howard - Apollo 13 - 1995
The cast of this film (Bill Paxton etc) and hearing about it often on Marc Maron's podcast (a superb insight into the minds of actors and directors) made me decide to finally watch it, but alas it was not my speed.

Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread - 2017
This is a really beautiful film by Mr. Anderson. His (and the crew's) cinematography is breathtaking, the music by Johnny Greenwood, and of course the acting (Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville from many Mike Leigh films,  Vicky Krieps, Gina McKee from Naked, Brian Gleeson etc.) Would surely return to this film, like many of Anderson's films; one finds oneself feeling quite uncomfortable throughout, he is a master of this, not easy to do with what appears to be small efforts.

Paul Thomas Anderson - Boogie Nights - 1997
Saw this film when it came out in the theater, and a few years later on DVD. Had been a while though. It was streaming and I decided to revisit after hearing Anderson's recent interview with Bill Simmons and his new film. The film definitely lacks the subtlety, restraint and beauty of his other films, but it does have his virtuosity. It is hard to imagine a 27 year old pulling off that opening shot, up there in the history of the long take, I actually got so lost in it I couldn't tell if there was a cut. Burt Reynolds gives one strong performance even though supposedly they had trouble on the set, and William H Macy, Julianne Moore, Luis Guzmán, Don Cheadle, and of course Philip Seymour Hoffman!

Toshiya Fujita - Lady Snowblood - 1973
For some reason had not seen this film. My good friend mentioned to see it as every frame was like a painting, which is indeed true. The opening sword exchange (and the rest that follow) was so beautiful, with the snow and lighting and movement. A beautiful film indeed.

Jane Campion - Holy Smoke - 1999
First time seeing this. Always a pleasure to see Harvey Keitel. As with The Piano, he elects to drop his drawers in the film, funny how he did this in so many films in the day.

Various Seinfeld episodes. Reinstated my Hulu account and have started going through various Seinfelds. Use to watch these when I was a young man but only various ones. Attempting to be a bit more systematic this time. Watched recent season of Curb your Enthusiasm lately, can't get enough.

Craig Brewer - Hustle & Flow - 2005
Terrence Howard is very good in this.

Yorgos Lanthimos - The Killing of a Sacred Deer - 2017
Finally saw this. Very strange film, goes without saying. Had just watched The Lobster for the second time recently and was looking forward to this. Themes going through both films are of interest to me, like the monotone speaking of Colin Farrell, the use of extreme modern classical music, putting the viewer in constant "discomfort", Kafka/Walser-like story telling. One scene that really stood out was the daughter singing a pop tune by a tree in a total monotone delivery. I would buy a 7" of that.

Fred Schepisi - Six Degrees of Separation - 1993
This film came out the year I graduated from high school. I don't think I saw it then but remember seeing it in the 90s, but didn't have a clear memory of it. Film is unwatchable, has a good cast, and I love the Kandinsky painting featured from the Guggenheim collection Several Circles (1926), moronic that they have this painting as a two-sided work that doesn't actually exist.  It is funny, but the fact that they misrepresented the Kandinsky, sums up how insincere this film is.

Michael Cimino - Heaven's Gate - 1980
Tried watching this film about 12-15 years ago after a good friend recommended it, and I couldn't get through it. Didn't like the pallet of the film, found it not to be captivating. I return to it an old dog and still feel the same although I vowed to finish it. Cimino is one of the best, and it has a perfect cast (Jeff Bridges, Isabelle Huppert, John Hurt, Christopher Walken), but something about this film just doesn't work. Westerns and slow films are what got me interested in film-viewing, but it lacks passion. Would rather watch McCabe & Mrs. Miller. My dog Leviathan didn't like it either, wouldn't stop growling and moaning. Not sure what are we missing?

Powell & Pressburger - A Canterbury Tale - 1944
I needed a guaranteed great film to make up for the few in the last week that didn't do much for me. Any Powell Pressbuerger will do.

Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood - 2007
Fourth or fifth time with this beauty. My god this is a great film, more the kind of western I would like to sit with. So many intense scenes with Plainview.... hard to watch at times. Greenwood's music during the oil fire catastrophe works so perfect with the editing and action. Masterfully done film.

The art of memory's daily viewing and listening (and sometimes reading) on instagram
Last year or so I started rating films on imdb. here they are

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

music rotating around the invisible birds in the year of our lord 2017

Tarrl Morley Esq. of Ingenting Kollektiva
30 releases that kept me alive this year:

- Henning Christiansen - Schafe statt Geigen (Sheep instead of Violins) and “Verena” Vogelzymphon(Bird Symphony) - Holidays Records

- Henning Christiansen - Op.192 Umwälzung - Fluxorum Organum 1990 Eurasienstab Ist Immernoch Angelpunkt - Penultimate Press

- Werner Durand - Schwingende Luftsäulen  (Vibrating Air Columns) - Ants
To be played simultaneously with:

- Tony Conrad - Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain - Superior Viaduct

- Terry Fox - 552 Steps Through 11 Pairs of Strings - Edition Telemark

- Joe Jones - In Performance - États-Unis

- Jon Gibson - Two Solo Pieces - Superior Viaduct

- Mary Jane Leach - Pipe Dreams - Blume

- John Butcher - Resonant Spaces - Blume

- Walter Marchetti - Antibarbarus - Alga Marghen

- The Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble - Drum Dance to the Motherland - Eremite Records

- Giusto Pio - Motore Immobile - Soave

- Éliane Radigue - Occam Ocean 1 - Shiiin

- Knud Viktor - Ambiences / Images - BIN

- Tomoko Sauvage - Musique Hydromantique - Shelter Press

- John Cage - Klang Der Wandlungen - Eeition RZ

- Rob Mazurek - Chimeric Stoned Horn - Monofonus Press/Astral Spirits

- Martin Kuchen - Lieber Heiland, lass Uns Sterben - SOFA

- Jürg Frey - Collection Gustave Roud - Another Timbre

- Jürg Frey - Ephemeral Constructions - Edition Wandelweiser

- Jurg Frey - L'ame est sans retenue I - Erstwhile Records

- Roland Kayn - A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound - Frozen Reeds

- Jaap Vink - Jaap Vink - Recollection GRM ‎/ Editions Mego / INA-GRM

- Ellen Fullman - The Long String Instrument - Superior Viaduct

- Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async - Milan

- Basil Kirchin - Worlds Within Worlds - Superior Viaduct

- Phill Niblock - Rhymes With Water - God Records

- Carl Michael Von Hausswolff - Still Life - Requiem - Touch

- The Necks - Unfold - Ideologic Organ

- William Basinski - A Shadow In Time - Temporary Residence Limited

Films / Television

- David Lynch - Twin Peaks: The Return

Matthew Swiezynski Sod. of Ingenting Kollektiva

- Keith Berry - Elixir - Invisible Birds

- Tony Conrad - Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain - Superior Viaduct

- Taylor Deupree ‎- Somi - 12k

- Werner Durand - Schwingende Luftsäulen  (Vibrating Air Columns) - Ants

- James Hamilton - Scathe & Approacher  - The Keraunograph Organisation

- Carl Michael Von Hausswolff - Still Life - Requiem - Touch

- Alex Keller and Sean O’Neill - Kruos - Elevator Bath

- Basil Kirchin - Worlds Within Worlds - Superior Viaduct

- Lumine - All The Unnamed - La Scie Dorée

- Stephan Mathieu - Radiance IX - XII - Schwebung

- N.A.D.M.A. ‎- Uno Zingaro Di Atlante Con Un Fiore A New York - RCA Italiana ‎/ Die Schachtel

- Hermann Nitsch - Orgelkonzert Jesuitenkirche 20.11.2013 - Trost Records

- Charlemagne Palestine - The Lower Depths - Alga Marghen

- Charlemagne Palestine - Strumming Music - Aguirre Records

- Arvo Pärt - Für Alina - The Ajna Offensive / Mississippi Records

- Krzysztof Penderecki ‎- Kosmogonia - Cold Spring, mastered by Denis Blackham

- Akira Rabelais - Spellewauerynsherde - Boomkat Editions

- Éliane Radigue - Occam Ocean 1 - Shiiin

- Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async - Milan

- Colin Andrew Sheffield & James Eck Rippie ‎- Essential Anatomies - Elevator Bath

- Time Machines/Coil ‎- Time Machines - Dais Records

- Jaap Vink - Jaap Vink - Recollection GRM ‎/ Editions Mego / INA-GRM

- Everything Tarrl has above when I can get a chance to buy and listen. Excerpts unreal.

Films / Television

- David Lynch - Twin Peaks: The Return

- Aki Kaurismäki - The Other Side of Hope

- Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk 

- Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water