Saturday, June 2, 2018

plato's cave sixty (being a film journal)

Billy Bob Thornton - Sling Blade - 1996
Third time with this film. Have always loved it, the transformation of Mr. Thornton, the simplicity of the dialogue and the motivations behind the characters. Also the really stunning score by Daniel Lanois, moving between ambient, rock, and melodic droning, just perfect for the film and used in a subtle and sensitive way. Mr. Lanois' Belladonna from 2005 is a favorite of this listener, as is his work with Brian Eno (Apollo, The Pearl, On Land) and Bob Dylan (Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind). Films directed by actors often have such great actors/acting... here we have John Ritter in a really strong role, no messing around with J.T. Walsh, son of a pumpkin eater Dwight Yoakam, not very well know but strong Natalie Canerday, Robert Duvall appearing briefly but not easy to forget, character actors Brent Briscoe, Mickey Jones, and James Hampton, a memorable french fries sales man Jim Jarmusch, and the kid Lucas Black who gave a pretty memorable performance.

Coen Brothers - The Man Who Wasn't There - 2001
Second or third time seeing this. Great film, BBT is as cool as a cucumber. Great looking fucking film, no messing around high contrast b&w photography by Roger Deakins.

Lo Wei - Fist of Fury - 1972
First time seeing this since I was a kid. A lot of ham, but what a great film, action sequences are really sublime, take you out of time. Bruce Lee just a mother out of Christ intense soul... transfixes and transform time.

Paul Schrader - First Reformed - 2018
This is possibly Schrader's best work. After seeing First Reformed this evening I was just completely overwhelmed; the beauty of its look, the sound, the rhythm, the acting, the music (Lustmord!!!!), everything about it. If I was seeing it at home, I would have hit play when it ended and watched again, so rarely does that happen. The ambiguous ending really creeps into your head, glass half full or empty mentalities could go one way or the other with what the actual ending was, I felt toward the ending that I was going to be sick, Schrader outdid the hell out of Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ (a shite film), and I wondered if I would be able to stomach what was to come.... then a would be miracle occurred (or didn't) and the world went black. The spectator could potentially imagine his or her's own outcome (the last moments of The Sopranos). The way Schrader works within the traditions of Bresson, Bernanos, Tarkovsky, Bergman, Dreyer.... is so very unique.  Not a nod to them, but more a weaving in and out of those worlds, and going in some possible direction that could have occurred within those works. It is hard not to think about a trajectory of art where one artist stands on the shoulders of another or a tradition. The directors mentioned above were so original, they certainly stood for a moment then went off into uncharted territories. Schrader did so as well with this film. In addition, films such as Hardcore and Affliction are some of the best films this man made and also some of the best films ever made. That he could surpass those thoroughly original and profound works in his 70s is really inspiring.

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