Thursday, April 26, 2018

plato's cave fifty eight (being a film journal)

James Ivory - The Remains of the Day - 1993
Have seen this lovely work three times now, my favorite Merchant Ivory film. So perfect, visually stunning, with a pacing that is experienced in few films. Tony Pierce-Roberts adds some really beautiful photography, he also shot Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy TV Mini-Series, Moonlighting (discussed recently here), A Room with a View, and Howards End.

Peter Bogdanovich - The Last Picture Show - 1971
Have seen many times over the years. Love the film. Timothy Bottoms gives a truly mature performances. One of the best films from the 70s.

Gas Live in Brooklyn with Video by Wolfgang Voigt (GAS).
Slowly shifting trees, branches, leaves and light. Not only is the man's music pure pleasure, but so are his films. Perfection.

Paul Verhoeven - Basic Instinct - 1992
At 17 I walked in on this film during the leg crossing scene.  I thought I was going to hear the line from Naked Lunch. After a while I didn't hear it and left. First time seeing it since then. Very much in the Hitchcock tradition, maybe because it is filmed in SF, had a Vertigo feel bordering on pastiche, the music as well. Quite graphic sex scenes. Had some moments but overall the film just had too much a ersatz quality like the Brian De Palma films.

Jonathan Mostow - Breakdown - 1997
Kurt Russell film, in the Frantic or The Vanishing tradition. "Rich asshole looking for trouble". Not the best film, but enjoyable. Took a while for Snake Plissken to show up.  J.T. Walsh did a great job as a shitbird heavy, as did M.C. Gainey, whom my wife pointed out is the naked cuckold in Sideways with the free as a bird johnson (see below).

Michael Haneke - Code Unknown - 2000
The truly great film by Haneke is The Piano Teacher in my humble opinion. Second time seeing this film but it really lacks the magic of The Piano Teacher, too much post L'Argent business or something. So many contemporary films in Europe that that later-Bresson feel, almost like in a way the Verhoeven/De Palma films to Hitchcock. The Dardenne brothers do but somehow make it more original. Maybe someone that has more of a connection to films from this period would have a different opinion?

Michael Mann - Heat - 1995
Watched with Michael Mann audio commentary.

Edward Zwick - Legends of the Fall - 1994
Flawed film, but quite watchable. Anthony Hopkins is really visually stunning in it, such a presence and a wonderful actor. Bad 90s soundtrack brought it down significantly. Not without interest though.

Martin Scorsese - Casino - 1995
Goodfellas without the charm. Have seen a few times over the years, not one of my favorite Scorsese films, but James Woods sure is good in it! Post Goodfellas; Shutter Island is one hell of a great film.

Sean Baker - The Florida Project - 2017
Watched this mostly to be current with new films and current film-makers. I can see the appeal of the film for sure but something about it seemed too soft throughout... and then the really uninspired ending met me down, not just as a concept or the way it was shot but the saccharine music was unbearable. I wonder if other people found this trite? Mostly watched it to see Willem Defoe, who ws great as always. The film is very similar to American Honey or Fishtank, the latter is really a good film.

Woody Allen - Wonderstruck - 2017
Unwatchable film, turned it off.

Barry Levinson - Diner - 1982
Second viewing, but didn't remember the film very well except that it was worth watching. One of the best scenes is in the movie theater with Mickey Rourke and his popcorn shenanigans.  I am on a "second viewing" (or more) trip right now, revisiting films from my youth or watched more recently, and getting to know them better.  This film left a good impression for me but the details were hazy, second viewing was rewarding.

John Michael McDonagh - The Guard - 2011
Second time. Really great film, the sort of strange surreal absurdist quality you find in films like The Lobster, Calvary (same director), and In Bruges (by his brother Martin McDonagh).

Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - 2017
Second viewing. Saw in the theater, and now on blu-ray projected. Loved this film the first time and even more the second time. Very taut, and simplistic, yet repeat viewings bring some more complex business to the foreground. The acting in this film is really suburb. The story the first viewing seemed a little off... like the contradictions in some of the character's behavior and motivations (esp. Mildred), but the second time these contradictions made the film more interesting.

Luca Guadagnino - Call Me By Your Name - 2017
Second viewing. The subtle formal qualities of this film become more rewarding on each viewing. I look forward to seeing this many times. One that comes to mind: when Michael Stuhlbarg and Timothée Chalamet are having the discussion toward the end of the film, the camera cuts from an over the shoulder cut of Stuhlbarg facing Chalamet, Stuhlbarg is out of focus and looking down with cigarette smoke surrounding him, the cut is over the shoulder of Chalamet to Stuhlbarg but he is looking intensely at his son (not looking down) and no smoke. Some could see it as a continuity issue but it is just such a strong way to zoom into the intensity of what Stuhlbarg ends up saying and the beauty of the conversation. Stuhlbarg's performance here is so strong, he is really one of the greatest living actors.

4.1.2018 - 4.2.2018
David Chase - The Sopranos - 1999-2007
Late last year I started a fifth viewing of this wonderful show. Made it most of the way through season 1. Started now with Season 2 and watch about a third. First episode with Frank Sinatra montage really classic. Had a brief interaction with Chase recently which prompted it.

Ridley Scott - Alien: Covenant - 2017
Only watched part of, previous one (and of course Alien and Aliens) much more watchable.

Lennart Ruff - The Titan - 2018
Only watched part of.

William Friedman - The Exorcist: Director's Cut - 1973/2010
Second or third time seeing the Director's Cut. Have watched the film a hundred times and love it, especially the colorful language. First encountered as a young kid via my pop. Life changer.

Alexander Payne - Sideways - 2004
Have watched this film many times and it gets better every time. Something about their friendship very appealing to me, hidden under a sort of regular feel good film.

Clint Eastwood - Absolute Power - 1997
Second time seeing this, could only remember the film in a vague way. A pretty good Eastwood film, not a great one, Judy Davis had something to do with the not greatness, man she annoyed the hell out of me in this one; dated. Reminded me to watch the great Eastwood/Hackman collaboration - Unforgiven from 1992.

Terrence Davis - A Quiet Passion - 2016
Breathtaking sequence early in when the film shifts from the the early period in the story to mid/late period by slowly zooming in on each family member during a photo shoot, and the characters slowly age. Almost turned this off before this virtuosic shot because of the young Emily, but became very interested after this transformation, with Cynthia Nixon who is just so stunning in the film, as is Keith "I'm Easy" Carradine. A nice cast overall, as is the photography by Florian Hoffmeister.

Lynne Ramsay - Morvern Callar - 2002
Second viewing, had really not remembered the film, nor if I liked it or not. Pretty good film though, a little dated with some of the techniques and plot but still quite nice. Hoping to see her new film tomorrow, has been a busy couple of weeks.

4.11.2017 - 4.18.2018
Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould - Better Call Saul - 2015-2018
Finished second half of season 2 and then season 3. Has good moments. Started a new job and was a bit burnt out when I got home every night. Very good job though and happy I got it. This show kind of worked good to keep my eyes occupied.

Dan Gilroy - Roman J. Israel, Esq. - 2017
Not the best film but Denzel Washington is really great in it. Mr. Colin Farrell too.

Benedict Andrews - Una - 2016
I really like Ben Mendelsohn but couldn't get into the film.

Sebastian Schipper - Victoria - 2015
Took me 2 nights to watch this and I couldn't get through it. Great that it is a single shot, but didn't get into the film.

Marc Forster - Monster's Ball - 2001
Second time seeing this film, very good with great performances. Tragic, kind of dated but in a way that is appealing. My wife kept mentioning how good the music was, and how the moments in between story were so good, and she was quite right.

John Flynn - The Outfit - 1973
Great 70s film monsieur T. recommended. Top notch cast and story moves very fast with tight action. Almost kitschy but somehow not quite. Very appealing that.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The One who Modifies Time and Light

New Invisible Birds release shipping forthwith
Matthew Swiezynski The One who Modifies Time and Light

Provided here is thorough documentation of the special edition ib011 néant, released in an edition of 11 with an additional artist edition.
Edition includes :
- The standard edition glass mastered CD with handmade packaging. Sleeve features a black monochrome ink print
- Special edition CDr with soundtrack related work by Mr. Swiezynski
- 2 original oil drawings on un-primed Khadi paper, some modifications/transformations may occur over time
All housed in a lovely box with tipped-in plate spine image. After ordering we will contact asking which number you would like from images below (some sold).

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Notes After Long Silence

Filmmaker Saul Levine Leaves MassArt Following Dispute over Artwork

My passion for film, music and reading started with studying film with Saul Levine from 1994 to 1997 at MassArt. All these years later - films I watch, I look at in a way that has so much to do with being around Mr. Levine in those years. He was just one hell of a great teacher, and going into grad school I really missed his passion as I didn't find it at the same level ever again. This business in the Art Forum article is a fucking travesty, it really reminds me that I was so lucky to have been a student at such a great time. Now with the pc nonsense that is plaguing this country, I couldn't imagine getting a proper education, luckily there had been a few teachers here and there still giving a solid education (now I am not sure). After I left grad school, most of the elder professors there were let go and young ones brought in. Just so hard to imagine the reasons behind this nonsense except the wrong people have been given power right now, it goes way beyond Donald Trump.

In addition to all this, the film in question "Notes After Long Silence", was such a huge inspiration to me in those years, and took me so far out of the conservative ideas I had about the potential of film and art in general. Working with sound throughout my life, Mr. Levine's use of sound in his films made my head spin and started a life long pursuit of what could be described as the lushness and jouissance of surface imperfection. I can't imagine how many students have gone through that film department and been so transformed by his work and teaching.

Be damned to the ninth circle all who had anything to do with this awful business, I hope this tragedy has an impact on young people and how they process the velveeta cheese that is pushed on them by the frauds that now run these universities.