Wednesday, August 21, 2019

plato's cave ninety three (being a film journal)

Claudia Weill - Girlfriends - 1978
Successful film at the time (Stanley Kubrick dug it) starring Melanie Mayron, Christopher Guest, Bob Balaban, Eli Wallach and the underrated Amy Wright. Honest film about the difficulties of being a young artist in a big city, and dealing with relationships. Astounding something like this was made at the time. Contemporary films in a similar spirit could be Frances Ha or Tiny Furniture, which don't sit well with me. Something so nice about the spirit of the 1970s that after a day of living in the world of now it is so nice to just turn on the projector and be transported back to a solid period of time.

Bernardo Bertolucci - The Last Emperor - 1987
Such a great film, Bertolucci's best perhaps. My wife and I both saw this many times in middle school when it came out, but so different as an adult. Ryuichi Sakamoto plays a great heavy and such an astounding soundtrack.

Barry Levinson - Rain Man - 1988
Dustin Hoffman came into my place of business about 8 years ago and was using an electric razor to shave as he browsed our wares. Was quite funny, he seemed like a good guy. This isn't a film I am that into but hadn't seen it in a while, the sleazy Cruise element of the film I enjoy.

Michael Mann - Thief - 1981
One of the great first films by a director, and one of the strongest films of the 1980s, has that early 80s feel which is like 1970s on heroin.

7.23.2019 - 7.25.2019
John G. Avildsen & Sylvester Stallone - Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky IV, Rocky V - 1976-1990
The first Rocky film is a 10/10, just an intensely raw film from a period of a total raw aesthetic. Philly in this film makes The Wire's Baltimore look like Disney World. The sequence where Rocky ascends the stairs of The Philadelphia Museum of Art is really an astounding bit of film magic. Like Girlfriends above, this film is one of those experiences of total pleasure where one can even for a moment not be bombarded by vocal fry and upstart uptalk. Sometimes watching old films can be like a Science Fiction film where the viewer just plugs in and is suddenly traversing time.  The later films I had not seen since I was a child. Problematic initially that they all start with a recap of the previous movie's ending fight. They have good moments but overall not in the same caliber, the third one a bit better than the rest. The fights in the films are pretty visceral and not too many films come close to the way they were constructed. My biggest problem with Creed was that the fight sequence felt like a movie trailer, here they are in Golum's words “raw and wriggling”.

Bruno Dumont - L'humanité - 1999
Starts out rather Duchampian with some Étant donnés (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas, French: Étant donnés: 1° la chute d'eau / 2° le gaz d'éclairage) and ends quite mysteriously. Near perfect film. Superb landscape photography by Yves Cape.

Bruno Duplat - Flandres - 2016
Also shot by Yves Cape, a roller coaster of a film.

Paul Thomas Anderson - Punch-Drunk Love - 2002
One of those great films. Anderson's best film in addition to Hard Eight, Inherent Vice, and There Will be Blood. The way color plays a role in the film from lens flares to décor and costumes reminds one of the Trois Couleurs trilogy.

David Robert Mitchell - Under the Silver Lake - 2018
Couldn't finish this film. Feel really alienated from millennial culture these days.

Luca Guadagnino - Call Me by Your Name - 2017
Third time watching this film. Loved it the first time and more the second and way more the third. Interesting that James Ivory didn't like the wimpy sex scene, but I think it is nice that the camera meanders during the in and out.

Trey Edward Shults - It Comes at Night - 2017
Has some good moments, good low light photography.

Wong Kar-wai - In the Mood for Love - 2001
Perfect film.

Abel Ferrara - Bad Lieutenant - 1992
This film I saw many times in high school when it came out, and more times the first few years of college. If I remember correctly, my father loved it and wanted to see it with me. I was so completely blown away by the film. Year later I watched the bullshit edited version not knowing that there were two versions and went into a minor depression for a few weeks. Started watching it again and assumed I was watching it proper until I get to some scenes that were edited by Disney. I will have to track down the nc-17 version. I am curious why this lame version persists.

Wes Anderson - Bottle Rocket - 1996

Francis Lawrence - Red Sparrow - 2018

Jonas Mekas - Notes on the Circus & Report from Millbrook - 1966, Travel Songs - 1981

David O. Russell - The Fighter - 2010
Not really on board with Mr. Russell, but gave this one a second go. I remember the HBO Lowell doc coming out when I was young and it was like a wake up that the world was not all smooth and smelling of roses.

Curtis Harrington - Night Tide - 1961
Classic 60s film by the sometimes avant'garde filmmaker Curtis Harrington who made The Fall of the House of Usher, and shot one of the best Kenneth Anger films Puce Moment.

Mark L. Lester - Class of 1984 - 1982

Werner Herzog - Stroszek - 1977
Perfect film.

Abel Ferrara - Bad Lieutenant - 1992 NC-17
The real version. God what a film!

Steven Caple Jr. - Creed II - 2019

Paul Schrader - American Gigolo - 1980
The soundtrack for this film is all variations of the Blondie song, and didn't work that well. Not a bad movie besides that, a little dated though in the way Brian de Palma films can be, with the strong Hitchcock quality that seems too much pastiche.

Kathryn Bigelow - Point Break - 1991
Rewatch of one of the best early 90s films.

Adrian Lyne - Nine 1/2 Weeks - 1986
Very good film with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. Solid NYC ambiance.

Geoffrey Wright - Romper Stomper - 1992

Jim Jarmusch - Paterson - 2016
Third time I believe, becoming one of my favorite Jarmusch films.

Tom DiCillo - Living in Oblivion - 1995
Steve Buscemi as filmmaker. Has some moments. Classic 90s indie cast.

Dominik Moll - ‘Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien’ (With a Friend Like Harry) - 2000
One of the great French films. Sergi López (Pan's Labyrinth) is fantastic.

8.14.2019 - 8.19.2019
Baran bo Odar Jantje Friese - Dark - 2017-2020
German tv, sort of a more tastefully done Stranger Things. Mostly pretty good soundtrack by Ben Frost, except when he gets high-pitched. Enjoyed the show, beautifully shot.

Alexandre Rockwell - In the Soup - 1992
Another Steve Buscemi as filmmaker, or potentially one. I remember seeing this and Living in Oblivion in the late 90s and not really liking the style, but gave them another go being a huge Buscemi and Seymour Cassel fan. The interactions between the 2 actors in this film are really worth seeing even though it is not a fully captivating film, pretty good though for the most part.

Joanna Hogg - The Souvenir - 2019
Very nice film, mix of 16mm and digital video that looks great, and through possibly the fidelity and grain adds much to the levels of depression and despair of the film.

Bruno Dumont - The Life of Jesus - 1997

Harmony Korine - The Beach Bum - 2019
Romcom from Harmony Korine. I enjoyed Matthew McConaughey's performance.

Paul Schrader - Light Sleeper - 1992
Once or twice a year type of film, such a great ambiance to the film.

Andrew Niccol - Gattaca - 1997

David Fincher, Andrew Dominik, Carl Franklin - Mindhunter season two - 2019
Good show, enjoyed more than season one. Damon Herriman plays Chuck Manson here and in Once Upon a Time.

David Anspaugh - Hoosiers - 1986
Master class on how the relationship between music, cinematography, and editing can create a bit of emotion, even if sentimental. As a youngster this relationship bugged the shit out of me but now at age 44, with a drink in my hand and not really giving a shit it is kind of interest to watch.

Andrew Davis - The Package - 1989
A second Gene Hackman film. Also the late great John Heard.

Quentin Tarantino - Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood - 2019
I am a fan of Tarantino's Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction, the latter took a while for me to get into, but now hard not to appreciate it. Besides those, I haven't really been a fan of his work, especially the last decade and a half. Although he always has a few great scenes like the Michael Fassbinder bar scene from Inglourious Basterds, which I have seen a few times. I came to Once Upon a Time thinking I wouldn't dig it, even though the subject matter is right up my alley: 1969, Sixties Los Angeles, Westerns and drunken western actors, the Manson crew (my father dated the famous Manson girl from New Hampshire when they were both in high school, pre-Chuck Manson), and the seedier side of the street in general which one finds in the City of Sin. Initially watching the film I was really struck by Mr. Pitt's performance and general character, also by the look of the film, and then Leo and his role really grew on me. Leo in his trailer yelling at himself was one hell of a great performance. The comedy of the film was just tear enduing, especially Leo yelling at the hippie crew and the end bloodbath. Some parts I could do without, mainly the Tate moments, but damn it was a pretty good film and I would see it again. One bit of interest was my wife and I went out of the way to see it on 35mm, and I guess the projectionist was new to the business or out of practice because there were numerous vertical scratches on the film that I am pretty sure where occurring as we saw them, and after about 10 minutes he shut the projector down I am guessing to give the damn thing a clean (why didn't he shoot a bit of spit in there?) and it started running a bit cleaner to just end up getting pretty scratchy 10 minutes later. I am guessing the few millennials that noticed thought it was intentional on Mr. Tarantino's part? In a way it added to the charm of the screening.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

dragonem sometimes

all the faces blur
and glares on white walls
all the sounds
of dragonem sometimes