Wednesday, October 31, 2018

plato's cave seventy four (being a film journal) horror

George A. Romero - Dawn of the Dead - 1978
An old classic Zombie film from Romero. Not as good as his first one but has some pretty good action in it. Music by The Goblins and Dario Argento.

Philip Ridley - The Reflecting Skin - 1990
Very low key vampire film. Not the best but a good performance by Viggo Mortensen and photography by Mike Leigh's heavy dp Dick Pope.

John Carpenter - The Fog - 1980
When Halloween approaches, one must get the Carpenter films going. Beautiful film, I have wandered the area of Inverness, Bolinas and Point Reyes quite a bit and recognize many spots in this film. God's country.

Sam Raimi - Evil Dead II - 1987
Had only seen parts of this a long time ago. Crazy film, I love the camera freely floating through the forest. Impressive Mr. Raimi did this, makes many of the 80s horror films seem amateur.

John Carpenter - The Thing - 1982
My favorite horror film for Halloween. I include the image above as the power of the hand-held shot here is so shocking every viewing, the eeriness of it is off-putting in a subtle way, and a tiny hint of the business forthcoming. Shocking and complete fuckery.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

plato's cave seventy three (being a film journal) horror

Steven Spielberg - Jaws - 1975
Saw this film a few times on TV when I was 3 feet tall. A real shocker then and now, so well put together of a film. Visually stunning and some crazy shit happening. Loved every second of it.

Paul Verhoeven - Starship Troopers - 1997
Giant bugs. Strange film, didn't like it much.

Sara Colangelo - The Kindergarten Teacher - 2018
Might as well be an horror film. Dumb film.

Peter Hyams - Relic - 1997
Not a great film but always a pleasure to watch Tom Sizemore and James Whitmore.

George A. Romero - Day of the Dead - 1985
Not one of Romero's best, more for the die hard zombie aficionado. This coming week I plan to watch Dawn of the Dead which I remember liking much more.

Jeff Nichols - Take Shelter - 2011
Not completely a horror film but it was on Shudder. Second time seeing this, starts pretty slow but once it gets going it is a powerful film. I wish in a way that it kept going another 2 hours post apocalyptic storm as it starts getting really exciting and you want to see Shannon's visions become reality.

Philip Kaufman - Invasion of the Body Snatchers - 1978
I use to eat 4-5 times a year at this great restaurant in San Francisco, and almost every time would see Philip Kaufman eating and drinking there, he must really love the place as I did. Never said anything to him but I do really love his films. This is a near perfect horror film, one of the best and doesn't get much better. Also strange because working near the financial district of the city, with all the automatons there, this film seems like a documentary (cinéma vérité horror). My experience with the good old "don't call it Frisco" was pretty much non existent. As soon as I moved there (1997) it was quickly becoming a yuppy haven. The mayor at the time Willie Brown said if you didn't make 50k a year you had no right to live there. Shit, I was making like $10 an hour and going to school. Seeing films shot in SF brings back great memories though, of how lovely visually the city regardless of the young tech anti-Christs that have taken it over. This film surely feeds into this concept.

Roman Polanski - Rosemary's Baby - 1968
Two of the best horror films in a row. Never gets old even after 2 dozen or more viewings. Cassavetes is such a slimy prick in the film, just a joy to watch. Seeing it again after Hereditary really makes me rethink that film, by Devil it really copied the hell out of Rosemary's Baby.

Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz - Goodnight Mommy - 2014
I couldn't get into this film. If it had been a little more unique or interesting in how it was made I could have gotten past the gore of it but it just had that ubiquitous post-L'Argent contemporary European style that I personally get tired of seeing.  The style can work well at times like with Haneke and Dardenne. Maybe a reader has a better understanding of this? The influence of Tarkovsky and Bresson is maybe too strong in films from over yonder. The near sterile long take actually has become sterile in so many of these films, people love it though.

Luca Guadagnino - Suspiria - 2018
This film was almost wonderful. I was completely taken in by the charms of the direction, the acting, the music and especially the atmosphere. Guadagnino has a beautifully unique vision which is so notable partly because of the intelligent way he references the history of cinema. As an example, the trademark zoom of 60s cinema here is transformed into a more than homage artifact, becoming something of a voyeuristic character moving around the action and observing in a way the viewer cannot. Quite unlike Tarantino who uses the zoom in a jokey way that at most gets a laugh.

If the majority of this film was at a level of sophistication of say 11, there are two sections that are hovering around 4 or 5. Number one is the first scene with Dr. Josef Klemperer and Patricia; the editing progressed in a pointlessly rapid manner that just thoroughly lacked poetry and good taste. Second was the last section of the film with the Bitch's Brew sequence which indeed has some lovely bits but is mostly absurd, trashy and poorly directed, choreographed and edited. The song by Thom Yorke (which is quite good) unfortunately gives a music video quality. The partially glimpsed devil and exploding heads add some proper fuckery, but the poorly choreographed dancers that fall short of an other-worldly mayhem stand out, and the Helena Markos character is just so darn corny.

This would be one of those great current films with at least the latter sequence heavily modified, and I would argue the initial one re-edited, but it was still a pretty great film. The Thom Yorke music with the dancing sequences was really like drinking some Lagavulin, quite heavenly.

Jim Jarmusch - Only Lovers Left Alive - 2013
Second time seeing this. Really brilliant take on the modern day vampire film. Jeffrey Wright in another comic Jarmusch role (the other being Broken Flowers). Our hero's life rotates around vintage guitars and amps, old records and old Jags; car and guitar. Pictured above is a lovely mid 1960s Fender Jaguar and interesting to note the Marshall amp with the 2 lls taken off. Also interesting to note our hero is not a trem man. Good stuff that makes this world worth the effort. Our hero's walls are adorned with some heavy figures, from J.S. Bach to Rodney Dangerfield, he has good eclectic taste.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

repair me now

Colin Andrew Sheffield - Repair Me Now - 2018

New CD/digital download on Jason Lescalleet's label Glistening Examples
Thanks for utilizing photography by Matthew Swiezynski from the area of the Pacific Northwest

Monday, October 22, 2018

plato's cave seventy two (being a film journal) horror

For the most part I am going to watch horror films the rest of the month. I come to horror not as an enthusiast but more as a film lover just wanting to see another great film regardless of genre. Because of this, there is less patience for certain horror films which are arguably just important within the genre. Interested very much in viewers coming to horror for non-traditional reasons. Any hint of kitsch or horror-humor and this viewer tends to tune out. B grade is cool as long as the film has heaviness (Bucket of Blood for example is endlessly watchable). Gore if excessive is another turn-it-off for this viewer, although if done in a subtle and poetic method gore can be exceedingly lovely. Some of my favorite films are horror films, like The Exorcist, and most of John Carpenter's films especially The Thing. Other classics like Cat People, The Shining, The Innocents,  Don't Look Now, and Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre.

George A. Romero - Night of the Living Dead - 1968
I have seen this wonderful documentary a few times, vérité to the extreme. Of course as I learned in film school; vérité is never really vérité because the camera, editing, music and direction transform the truth into fiction. This film is a lovely example of fiction becoming truth via the director's methods. One of my favorite horror films. It is always interesting to see Romero show up as an actor. Here he plays a Washington Reporter. In Martin he is Father Howard, biker in Santa Claus Suit in Dawn of the Dead, Zombie with Scarf in Day of the Dead, FBI agent in Memphis in The Silence of the Lambs, and some others I haven't seen.

Wes Craven - The Last House on the Left - 1972
Second time seeing this, although the first time was over 20 years ago. It surely has a good look, but a little too B-grade for this viewer. The sadism mixed with humor really makes it a bit of a joke, which I guess is why people like it?  The B really works well with a director like Ed Woods, not as much here for this viewer but I am sure I am in the minority.

Steve Buscemi - Trees Lounge - 1996
Non horror film. Fourth or fifth time seeing this film. Perfect, and one hell of a cast! Buscemi is one of the great 90s/2000s American directors: Trees Lounge, The Sopranos episodes, Lonesome Jim and Animal Factory.

Robert Aldrich - The Longest Yard - 1974
Non horror film. Feel ashamed I never saw this great film which came out the same year I entered the world. Killer Burt Reynolds film.

Jennifer Kent - The Babadook - 2014
Second time seeing this classic of contemporary horror. Same as the first time, I couldn't tell if I liked the film. The kid and mom are just a tad annoying, but it is well done and pretty intense and scary. Definitely a film that leaves an impression.

Armand Weston - The Nesting - 1981 & Joe Dante - The Howling - 1981
Attempting to watch some horror films I have never seen. I started both of these because I recognized the names but turned them both off after a bit. Couldn't get into them.

Yi'nan Diao - Black Coal, Thin Ice - 2014
Not totally a horror film, fits a bit into the serial killer genre. There are some moments of horrific intensity, but beyond that it is almost like a Beckett meets Tsai Ming-liang film. Drunken and depressed, our hero navigates a Beckett-like existence, with his general atmosphere of absurdity being more what I followed than the plot. I really loved this film and look forward to a second viewing. My pretty wife recommended it to me and she always steers me right.

Dario Argento - Suspiria - 1977
I saw this film freshman year college and then maybe a few years later. Never loved it, nor the Italian horror films in general. Picked up the soundtrack a bit later and listened the hell out of it, so good. My wife had not seen this, and we have both been wanting to see the remake so we gave it a go in preparation.  There are definitely some moments that make it a film worth watching but the kitsch excessiveness of it just puts this viewer off. Like a big fancy cake that is made of non organic products and you just feel kind of sick after. It is funny but a video Demdike Stare made puts all the aesthetics of these films into a 6 minute version of somewhat off-putting trend induced hysteria..... with women endlessly walking down hallways in a way that is reminiscent of something like a low fidelity Chanel commercial.

Alfred Hitchcock - The Man Who Knew Too Much - 1956
Lesser classic from Hitchcock revolving around the idea of the man who waits through an entire symphony to climactically crash the symbols. Second time.

Herk Harvey - Carnival of Souls - 1962
Classic horror film. Beautiful stuff with some strange business afoot. Second time, great film.

John McNaughton - Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - 1986
Second time seeing Henry. Love this film, so raw and disturbing, has a great quality in terms of the acting, visuals and sound. Grainy as hell. Some kind of intense atmosphere that really fits with the fucked up business happening in the film. Michael Rooker is about as creepy as possible here, but also at times moral and almost kind here and there, great actor to be able to pull this off with simple gestures and non traditional actorshippe. Fitting in with another obsession on this blog - there is an abundance of urban photography; Chicago at night which just looks great, sinister yet beautiful. This is one of the best 80s films, rare quality for the year. First image above "Entertainment Nightly" is from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The pre-Lebowski quote above is good stuff.

Werner Herzog - Nosferatu the Vampyre - 1979
A few times seeing this classic. Just one hell of a horror film with an amazing soundtrack by Popol Vuh.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

oiseaux sale

Invisible birds is having a sale for 40% off on bandcamp to lighten our inventory for a potential office shift

Please use the code smallbirds to expedite a proper discount. Preferable is physical merchandise rather than digital.

Not too many copies remaining of this record. This release was a Boomkat "something special" and on the Mojo best new LP list. The Vatican mortuary has been known to play this LP whilst performing dissections and vivisections of high-ranking Vatican officials and unfortunate goat herders caught spreading anti-catholique propagandas. If played backwards these recording offers insight into the Les Champ des Étoiles inquiries rumored to have taken place in 1471 around Nuremberg

The second IK release, includes a DVD of films by Tarrl Lightowler. These medications on the existence of Lust and Representations of Death in pre-Revolutionary War American home invasions elicited much debate amounts the field-recording enthusiasts and quickly created a new standard for 17th century-inspired birding traditions of Southern Italy, of which the Kollektiva was very proud.

Ingenting Kollektiva 3

The third release from the Kollektiva is a guitar-oriented release of fictitious character modifications made with a Jazzmaster and a Twin Reverberation. These recordings challenged the establishment in ways unclear to the band, yet still remained vital to their growth in general. The Kollektiva largely disbanded after this release due to alcohol and drug abuses whilst touring through Montieren Sie Analog.

Abstract visual and sonic suicides spread through with ephemera, photographs, letters and instruments left behind by the untouched forest people. The entire Asphodel is embodied with the vicarious memories related to musical abstraction; the experience of light moving in time, and oblivion distilled into pure sensation. Recordings made in Turkey.

Simulacra-infraction, gathers and gatherings of sound moments progressively taking place over a period of time. The material originally traversed through Berry's editing system like an alchemist's mystery-liquid, distilling through his alembic and becoming a final sonic spirit that takes innumerable forms and can no longer be recognized. This process is so beyond words and creates work that is further beyond words; the listener enters a Complete Void.

A post Ingenting album from Mr. Swiezynski. The recordings are highly memory-annihilated mediations on further reworkings of memory-truncated musics which began with slow-duplication processes of glitching errors turning to once-had-forgotten dreams augmented and purified in the tradition of chance procedures.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

plato's cave seventy one (being a film journal) photography in the streets

Jonathan Glazer - Under the Skin - 2013

Urban street scenes from Under the Skin in the tradition of Wim Wender's Wings of Desire, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Chantal Akerman's News From Home, and many Ernie Gehr urban inquiries.

Shot by Daniel Landin, the look of the photography shot in the streets is in a way slightly normal, but overall quite eerie due to some magic Landin adds into the mix. Sterility mixed with ghostly-like movements within the frame. Quite lovely and unforgettable. Always interested in the tradition of street photography in film, out in the street more than studio yet King Vidor's Street Scene from 1930 is a good example of how strange the studio can make the street look, a film I use to watch the hell out of and wore down my VHS copy.

plato's cave seventy (being a film journal)

Sofia Coppola - The Beguiled - 2017
Shot in 35mm by Philippe Le Sourd, using natural light and candle light, this film is visually superb. This viewer is normally not engaged with Sofia Coppola's work, but this one is worth seeing. The soundtrack by Phoenix and sound design by Richard Beggs (distant canon fire) contribute much to the lush ambiance of the film. Music reminds me very much of the old Kranky scene, Stars of the Lid and friends, possibly doesn't add much musically to the Kranky history, but works really well here as it is subtle and in a way not expected for a film like this. I bet 99% of the people seeing this film never heard of Kranky which of course (if true) is a shame. The music issued by that label, especially back in the good old days, was truly sublime and reverberates through much of of the ambiance and soundtracks today.

Jeremy Saulnier - Hold the Dark - 2018
Stars Jeffrey Wright, who really lit up the screen with Basquiat, Broken FlowersCasino RoyaleQuantum of SolaceOnly Lovers Left Alive and a bunch of other films. I am pretty sure I saw him walking down the street recently in Fort Greene. He is one of my favorite actors, and just wonderful in this, I am not sure of the quality of the film but it is decent. All round a good cast, the story is just not very interesting in its details.

10.5.2018 10.9.2018
Vince Gilligan - Better Call Saul season 4 episodes five through ten - 2018
Progressing nicely.

Paul Schrader - First Reformed - 2017
Watched this twice last night, second time with commentary. A very informative talk with Mr. Schrader, he discusses the limitations he gave the film; like 1.33 ratio, the near black and white pallet, no over the shoulder shots, and the lack of camera movement. A few times he breaks the rules; once with a subtle zoom on Ethan Hawke's face during his first discussion with Philip Ettinger (scene above). This small gesture has a lot of weight, as does that scene. Setting up these rules and then breaking them is very poetic in my eyes, as is much of Tollen's day to day life and his writing which is poetic in the vein of The Diary of a Country Priest novel and film.

Scott Cooper - Hostiles - 2017
Another solid film by Cooper, end goes a touch soft but very good in general.

John Flynn - Rolling Thunder - 1977
First time seeing this classic seventies film with William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, Dabney Coleman, and Linda Haynes. Just heavy as hell and a great film.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

plato's cave sixty nine (being a film journal)

9.26.2018 - 10.4.2018
David Simon & Ed Burns - The Wire season five - 2002-2008
This concludes The Wire rewatch, now I am on to finishing the fine book All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire by Jonathan Abrams to get more insight. I had seen the first couple seasons a couple/few times but these later ones only once, and initially had a bit of trouble with this season because of McNutty's descent into maelstrom. This time, his and Freeman's actions were still a bit hard to comprehend but I was much less critical. The newsroom side story is just so watchable in season five, as is following the failures of Baltimore's new mayor and soon to be governor. An arrogant upstart that can't even walk he is so full of beans, played so well by Aidan Gillen. The end is so perfect in how the totality of story and events are tied to perfectly together. Brilliantly executed. Tried watching the second season of The Deuce and it just so lacks (as does the first season) any of the kind of virtuosity in story telling and filmmaking (or tvmaking) found in The Wire. Partly because of the two stars on would expect?

Lasse Hallström - What's Eating Gilbert Grape - 1993
This film came out the year I left high school but I don't think I saw it for a few years after. Remember being a bit of a film school snob and not liking it for the most part when I did. Second time here as my wife and I are on a bit of a 1990s kick, and it was quite a bit more enjoyable with some age on me. Although it is still hard to take Leo's performance totally seriously.... he gets the job done but without much magic... the magic he from time to time can do now (Revenant). I think the actorshippe from Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, and Darlene Cates aged better. Hallström did some serious films; My Life as a Dog, and Cider House Rules (posted last week). Part of why this film attracts me at the moment I believe is the time period, not one for the 80s fetish, the 90s seem quite intriguing at the moment. My wife was pointing out the fashion in the film, mainly Juliette Lewis, a sort of amalgam of different time periods, 20s, hippy, all over the place but all done in a sort of loving way, not the ironic stuff of now a days with the mom jeans and the like.

Tony Scott - True Romance - 1993
I have seen this film a bunch of times. Partly love it and partly it irritates the hell out of me. Definitely a well made film, well shot, and has some great business throughout (Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken!), Gary Oldman pimping, Brad Pitt stoned out and cursing people as they leave the apartment, and the killer Gandolfini. What annoys the shit out of this viewer is the majority of the writing by Tarantino which seems like a dreamy 12 year old penned when imagining how cool he would be if he wasn't a shitbird, and in an intense way: Christian Slater who has to be one of the worst actors. I usually just zone out the in between moments (with Slater) waiting for the next bit of good business when watching this film. Although, as I rewatch True Romance over the years the irritating parts start really effecting the rest of the film. Regardless... it is a good film, just one with some problems, but maybe I am alone with these ideas?

Pierre Morel - Taken - 2008
Taken begins the Liam Neeson action film rampage which in a way are one movie, with some good moments and some not as good, kind of a cross between The Wrong Man and a revenge western. This particular Neeson film is pretty good, I think my favorites with him as action hero are this, The Grey, and Non-Stop. One has to accept the beauty of the action and not pay too much attention to story and acting, Neeson is somehow always superb in these films.

David Fincher - The Game - 1997
Saw this first about 15 years ago or so and didn't have a clear picture in my mind as I do with some other Fincher films. I remember it being a touch of a mind-fuck kind of picture. The story is preposterous but I do like watching Michael Douglas in a sort of North by Northwest type of role... scurrying about a city I lived in for almost 20 years (the City by the Bay), in fact he is mostly in the neighborhood I once worked and remember clearly. Fincher does real good San Francisco films, Zodiac is another example.

Clint Eastwood - Unforgiven - 1992
Saw this film in the theater when it came out and purchased it either on VHS or DVD (cannot remember) around three years later when in college and just spent the next five years watching the shit out of it. I have always found myself attracted to many of Eastwood's films, especially when he acts in them, just something the guy has that is what makes certain films so magical. Growing up I remember watching Dirty Harry often and Escape from Alcatraz, and of course Every Which Way but Loose (a first exposure to Ruth Gordon). Seeing the Leone trilogy in college just made me a complete enthusiast of Eastwood and have since then watched most of his films numerous times. He is kind of like Woody Allen in that he just had a stretch of really good ones one after the other, but unlike Allen he continued making heavy films, like the recent Grand Torino.  The cinematographer Jack N. Green just really pulls you in there immediately, not unlike The Searchers beginning with that bloody door shot. Such a lovely film and most of it very very dark. A top 10 kind of western for this viewer, endlessly watchable, and having not seen it in a good 15 years or so not only did the films magic reveal itself in the way that a great film's does, but also the memory of the mentality of this viewer when he was in his late teens and then his early twenties, and found himself muttering "duck I say's" to anybody that thought they were a lot smarter than they actually were. The way memories reveal themselves as one watches an "old friend" is one of the great things about getting a little long in the tooth and rewatching solid movies, partly what these recent posts are about.