Tuesday, April 14, 2020

plato's cave one hundred and eight (being a film journal)

Most of these films form a journal of a month or more severely under attack by what one can only assume was covid-19. We seem to be back from the land of living dead, luckily no hospital but just sleeping and a film here and there. Spent much time rewatching films I hadn't seen in a while, watching films I was not sure if I had seen (from my youth), and catching up on some new ones.

Richard Lester The Knack... and How to Get It 1965
Sex-oriented film with the ever striking Rita Tushingham.

Fred Zinnemann From Here to Eternity 1953
Doesn't get any better than this great film.

Elia Kazan On the Waterfront 1954
Boris Kaufman photography so darn black in the blacks it makes your head spin. Beautiful damn film.

Alfonso Cuarón Y Tu Mamá También 2001
Had not seen this since it came out, I believe the first film I had seen by Cuarón, really great film. Not sure about the sound dropping out for the voice overs, but it is certainly unique, sometimes works well but often times too jarring. Nice to see this after seeing Roma a few times and the many strong threads between the two films.

Dennis Hopper The Last Movie 1971
Paul Joyce Some Kind of Genius 1986
Alex Cox Scene Missing 2012
Arbelos Films blu ray of Hopper's second film, extremely avant'garde in nature, Treasure of the Sierra Madre on acid. Would need to see a few times to get my head wrapped around it, but Hopper sure was one hell of an artist.

Budd Boetticher The Tall T 1957
Indicator blu ray box set with Martin Scorsese introductions.

Sidney Lumet The Fugitive Kind 1960
Beautiful film. Photographed by Boris Kaufman (On the Waterfront, Jean Vigo's films, 12 Angry Men, Baby Doll, Splendor in the Grass, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and The Pawnbroker) with some really dark darks and extreme contrast.

Teo Hernández L’eau de la Seine 1983
Abstracted light on water. Lovely film.

Stephen Nomura Schible Ryuichi Sakamoto: async Live at the Park Avenue Armory 2018
Profound. This is my favorite Sakamoto work, have listened to it endless number of times. I had it on repeat for a trip to Mexico a couple of years ago and the experiences are strongly connected in my mind. Abstract films throughout and at the end by the master Takashi Makino.

Jacques Rivette Duelle 1976
Wikipedia calls an experimental fantasy film. Has a Rainer Werner Fassbinder quality.

René Laloux La Planète sauvage (Fantastic Planet) 1973
Soundtrack by the French jazz pianist Alain Goraguer associated with Boris Vian and Serge Gainsbourg. Perfect piece of music. Incredibly strange drawings by the master Roland Topor.

William Lustig Maniac 1980
One of the more disturbing serial killer films. Joe Spinell (Taxi Driver, Rocky, Cruising) really good and fits the part well, he also wrote the story. Truly one of the really great film endings with (spoiler alert) the butchered coming back to butcher the maniac, or not.

Elia Kazan Splendor in the Grass 1961
Another film shot by Boris Kaufman. Beautiful film, Natalie Wood gives such a strong performance I was just on the edge of my seat throughout.

Joan Micklin Silver Chilly Scenes of Winter 1979
One of the truly wonderful John Heard films, a most underrated actor who unfortunately is know for a couple of films that I assume were a paycheck for him. Also wonderful performance by Peter Riegert, another Sopranos regular. The music is a bit dated, has that late 1970s ECM feel slightly but not completely without interest.

Stan Brakhage Mothlight 1963
After watching the moth sequence in Peter Strickland's The Duke of Burgundy, my wife and I went straight to the source and let the light from the master's work shift our perception into oblivion.

Stan Brakhage The Wold Shadow 1972
One of the art of memory's favorite Brakhage films. This work hovers somewhere between a Per Kirkeby painting, a survey of ghostly forests from a 19th or early 20th century American Horror short story, and a Romantic painting by Caspar David Friedrich.

William Lustig Maniac Cop 1988
Written and produced by Larry Cohen. Very good cast such as Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Richard Roundtree, George 'Buck' Flower, and Leo Rossi, aka Cliff 'Scorpion' Albrect from The Accused, plays the Mayor's Chief of Staff.

William Lustig Maniac Cop 2 1990
Also written and produced by Larry Cohen. Starring Robert Davi whom I am most familiar with as FBI Special Agent Big Johnson in Die Hard. In 2, Leo Rossi has a beard and plays the serial killer, similar to his repulsive role in The Accused. Also Danny Trejo cameo. The Terminator style police station shoot up was quite memorable.

William Lustig Maniac Cop 3 1993
The Maniac Cop films feel like one long work. Written by Larry Cohen. I like the way Lustig recycles footage in all three films but often treats it aesthetically different, like the footage when Matt Cordell first enters prison. Robert Forster has a nice role as a venal doctor conversing with the always sleazy Paul Gleason. Music by Joel Goldsmith, son of Jerry Goldsmith.

John Frankenheimer Seconds 1966
Music by Jerry Goldsmith, father of Joel Goldsmith (see previous film). Some truly strange photography by James Wong Howe (Yankee Doodle Dandy, Hangmen Also Die!, Pursued, Body and Soul, The Rose Tattoo, Picnic, Sweet Smell of Success, The Old Man and the Sea, Hud, Hombre, and many more), he is a man who was not afraid of abstraction and letting focus go soft for effect. Magical.

Jonathan Glazer Sexy Beast 2000
Essential film to watch every couple/few years. Stylistically, Glazer's work could be discussed as being just as important as directors like Paul Thomas Anderson or Wes Anderson.

Roger Corman The Trip 1967
Psychedelic Los Angeles film written by Jack Nicholson starring Dick Miller, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper, and Susan Strasberg. Very Bergman inspired. Thought I saw Bruce Conner in there.

Michael Winner The Mechanic 1972
Charles Bronson as a middle-aged hitman with a stunning collection of Hieronymus Bosch work (The Garden of Earthly Delights). Winner usually does pretty solid work, I need to see more of his films.

Roger Corman X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes 1963
Saw this as a young man but had no memory of it. Here as in The Trip, Corman gets into some pretty psychedelic imagery when Ray Milland starts his X-Ray vision experiments. Written by Ray Russell and Robert Dillon, Russell's pre-Exorcist novel The Case Against Satan (1962) about a young girl possessed by a demon is quite good.

Dennis Hopper Out of the Blue 1980
Extremely rough film. Hopper's role heading toward Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.

Martin Scorsese After Hours 1985
This was on cable often when I was an early teen and it became a familiar Scorsese flick. Now being less familiar with it, it is clear here that Scorsese's camera direction, rhythm, and storytelling here is not only utterly unique to his vision but honestly quite bizarre.... and it is hard to compare this to another film as it is so original. Utterly enjoyable film experience and offers something different than his films such as Mean Streets, Raging Bull, or Taxi Driver. Watching a plethora of films from this time period one finds faces from After Hours in 3-4 films a month: like Dick Miller, John Heard, and Terri Garr, and Will Patton. Had completely forgot Victor Argo and Bronson Pinchot have cameos as well. Music by Howard Shore (they have worked together 6 times), photography by Michael Ballhaus, and editing of course by Thelma Schoonmaker.

Steven Spielberg The Sugarland Express 1974
This great film features a wonderful pre-William Atherton William Atherton, or as I like to call him Bill Atherton. In his mature form, he is truly one of the great sleaze-bag actors of the 80s and 90s, and I mean this with the ultimate respect, but here he is sort of a guy next door. My wife compared him to David Warner, very accurate. Ben Johnson is so good here as well. Great film, and shows Spielberg's range.

Dwight H. Little Rapid Fire 1992
This is one of those near perfect films that has a story-line which charmingly makes little to no sense. An art student in Los Angeles is a master of martial arts, a Don Juan, and ready to take on the Chicago La Cosa Nostra. Powers Boothe quickly becomes Brandon Lee's father figure with what seems like minimal screen time interactions. This is good business though, somehow it really works here, not unlike Bloodsport. Powers Boothe

Budd Boetticher Decision at Sundown 1957

Budd Boetticher Comanche Station 1960
From the Powerhouse Films blu ray set Five Tall Tales: Budd Boetticher & Randolph Scott at Columbia, 1957-1960. Great films.

Tony Scott Unstoppable 2010
Really great Tony Scott film with Denzel, Chris Pine, Kevin Corrigan, Devin Dunn, and Rosario Dawson. Better than Speed.

Martin Brest Midnight Run 1988
Some heavies in here like Yaphet Kotto, Dennis Farina, Joe Pantoliano, John Ashton, and Philip Baker Hall.

Richard Fleischer Mr. Majestyk 1974
Solid Charles Bronson film, with a memorable story. Al Lettieri and Paul Koslo make quite an impression in this film. Near perfect film, could watch this over and over.

Ivan Passer Born to Win 1971
Heavy film with George Segal as a drug addicted petty criminal in 1970s NYC. Superb cast includes Karen Black, Paula Prentiss, Hector Elizondo, Burt Young, and Bob de Niro. Stunning fusion/psychedelic jazz soundtrack by William S. Fischer, from his album Circles, which has that 1970s ECM quality. The second half of the film has the song Chains when Segal and Black drive back to the city trying to get clean, classic fusion song with dark qualities.

Jerry Schatzberg Street Smart 1987
Morgan Freeman as the pimp Fast Black and Christopher Reeve as an hungry and unethical journalist. Really good performances from both. Dark gritty NYC photography by Adam Holender, who also shot Midnight Cowboy.

George A. Romero Season of the Witch 1972
I like the experimental beginning of this film, electronic music, strange photography and editing, and dream-like narrative. Perhaps goes a little flat after the intro.

S. Craig Zahler Dragged Across Concrete 2018
Not a bad film.

Richard Rush The Stunt Man 1980

Allan Arkush Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 1979

Anna Biller The Love Witch 2016
Goth update on cable softcore porn.

Wesley Barry The Creation of the Humanoids 1962
A lot of static shots and talk.

George A. Romero The Crazies 1973
A viral apocalypse hits small town America town near and around Evans City and Zelienople Pennsylvania. Co-stars Lynn Lowry who makes a strong impression in Cronenberg's Shivers.

George A. Romero There's Always Vanilla 1971
Psychedelic love story by Romero, with sporadic avant'garde leanings.

William Lustig Vigilante 1982
The work of William Lustig is raw and heavy and for me this film really stands out. Great film with a stunning performance by Robert Forster and some often-times hypnotic music by Jay Chattaway. Somehow these lesser known films from the 70s, 80s, and 90s are really what I am gravitating towards these days. There is something so magical about a slowly moving car chase with an proto-minimal techno beat pulsing uncomfortably underneath to make this viewer really fall in love with a film. Memorable performances from Joe Spinell, Woody Strode, and Fred Williamson. Shot by James Lemmo.

Abel Ferrara The Gladiator 1986
Another in a long list of evocative 1980s films I have been watching lately. This one a made-for-TV film by Abe Ferrara, after his Fear City. Another vigilante film which made a good double feature with Lustig's Vigilante. Really dig  Ken Wahl in this, and Robert Culp. Nancy Allen does well here also. Also shot by James Lemmo, who's also photographed Fear City, Maniac Cop, Maniac Cop 2, and the previously mentioned Vigilante.

Alex Proyas The Crow 1994
Saw this only once freshman year of college in my hometown drive-in. It was raining that night which worked out well as the film has much rain. My friend and I couldn't see through the window with the rain so we sat on the hood with the stereo really loud so we could hear it outside. Not an ideal way to see a film but it is a good memory. I didn't really like the film much. Over the years the film has popped into my mind mainly because it has soundwork by the great composer Brian Williams / Lustmord. Some good character actors like Jon Polito, David Patrick Kelly (Twin Peaks, 48 Hrs.), and Michael Wincott. Not a great film but not without interest.

Philippe Mora Mad Dog Morgan 1976
Chronicling my descends into 1970s and 1980s Australian cinema; Philippe Mora's 1976 film starring Dennis Hopper as the nineteen century Irish malefactor Daniel Morgan. Heavy Didgeridoo by the actor (and dancer) David Gulpilil.

Martha Coolidge Real Genius 1985
Saw this film as a kid but only remembered the character going in and out of the closet. Bill Atherton always a pleasure to watch and plays his typical sleaze in this film whom hates popcorn.

Steve De Jarnatt Miracle Mile 1988
De Jarnatt's film after Cherry 2000. Music by Tangerine Dream, in the Risky Business mode. Stressful film to watch in general but has a great ending and really stunning color palette.

Budd Boetticher Buchanan Rides Alone 1958

Lou Adler Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains 1982
Written by Nancy Dowd (Slap Shot, Coming Home, Straight Time, North Dallas Forty, and Ordinary People). Shot by the great dp Bruce Surtees. Great film.

Victor Nunez Ulee’s Gold 1997
Florida film following Nunez' 1993 Ruby in Paradise. Outstanding.

Sean Penn The Pledge 2001

Alejandro Landes Monos 2019
Couldn't get into this one.

Sam Peckinpah The Getaway 1972
Great film. Al Lettieri really completing here for the sleaziest guy captured on celluloid.

Norman Jewison Moonstruck 1987
At home we are on a Vincent Gardenia kick. Assumed I had seen this when it came out, but don't think I had. Pretty good film, solid NYC vibe.

Alan Arkin Little Murders 1971
Another great Vincent Gardenia performance. Such a wonderful and absurd film. The Indicator blu ray looks much better than the VHS tape I initially viddied.

Norman Jewison The Thomas Crown Affair 1968
Second Norman Jewison and Steve McQueen film this week. The optical printer work a little too late sixties, but not a bad film.

Peter Yates Bullitt 1968
One of my favorite lines in a film ever: What will happen to us in time?.... Time starts now.

Sam Raimi The Evil Dead 1981
Visually and sonically beautiful horror film from Raimi. The moments with the camera moving through the forest are so stunning.

Ang Lee The Wedding Banquet 1993
Perfect film.

Woody Allen Hannah and Her Sisters 1986
One of my favorite Max von Sydow performances, rest in peace, Michael Caine also so great in this film.

Jacques Demy The Umbrellas of Cherbourg ‘Les parapluies de Cherbourg’ 1964
Love this film, forgot how vivid the colors are.

Quentin Tarantino Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood 2019
Really enjoying this new Tarantino film, third viewing.

Mark L. Lester Commando 1985

Billy Wilder Sunset Boulevard 1950
'Tis no greater pleasure than a rewatch of Sunset Blvd. Was really thinking of David Lynch's Gordon Cole this viewing (pictured above), what a funny thing to pick up on and make into such a famous television character.

Mike Nichols Heartburn 1986
Really going through these films from the 1980s that I couldn't remember if I had seen. Some of these not really great but have moments here and there or good performances.

Steven Soderbergh Contagion 2011

Tim Hunter River’s Edge 1986
Dark film, really worth a rewatch here and there.

John Irvin Raw Deal 1986

Alan Rudolph Welcome to L.A. 1976
Watched a couple of Rudolph films recently, not really my cup of tea but an interesting part of 70s American cinema as he was second assistant director on a few Altman films; The Long Goodbye, Nashville, and California Split. His films really have the Altman vibe.

Hal Ashby Shampoo 1975
Warren Beatty's character really lacking qualities. Makes the film a little hard to watch.

Tom Hanks That Thing You Do! 1996
Liv Tyler!

Robert Zemeckis Cast Away 2000
Tom Hanks double feature.

David Mackenzie Hell or High Water 2016
Love this one.

Eliza Hittman Beach Rats 2017

William Friedkin Killer Joe 2011
Like Bug, this film was written by Tracy Letts. Intense work by Matthew McConaughey, might (spoiler alert) never want to eat a piece of fried chicken again after seeing this film.

Jack Clayton Room at the Top 1959
Rewatch of this classic British New Wave film.

Ron Mann Imagine the Sound 1981
Portraits of Cecil Taylor, Bill Dixon, Paul Bley, Archie Shepp and some others.

Billy Wilder Ace in the Hole 1951
One of my personal favorite Wilder films, use to watch the Criterion DVD pretty often. Dark film.

Matthew Robbins Dragonslayer 1981
Has some good moments, and visually pretty good especially the dragon and fire bits.

Abel Ferrara New Rose Hotel 1998
Coudn't get into this one.

Adrian Lyne Unfaithful 2002

Jim McBride The Big Easy 1986
Catching up on Jim McBride's films after rewatching his 1967 film David Holzman’s Diary.

Rob Reiner Misery 1990
Really love this film, not one you could watch over and over, had been about 20 years since I last watched it. Story reminded me of all those losers who got so upset with how GOT ended up. I accidentally got in a conversation with some of them when the show ended and just kept repeating in my mind "oh god get me the hell out of here....". Richard Farnsworth so good in this film, a little slow to get there in a most pleasant way.

The Mandalorian episides 1-4 2019

Jim McBride Breathless 1983

Alan Rudolph Choose Me 1984

Kevin Phillips Super Dark Times 2017
Ben Frost soundtrack. I like the title, one could say this endlessly all day and it wouldn't sound crazy, maybe add dude at the end.

William Oldroyd Lady Macbeth 2016

Henry Hathaway Garden of Evil 1954
Wasn't crazy about this one.

Liz Garbus Lost Girls 2020
Film based on the mysterious and unidentified Long Island serial killer.

Mark Lewis Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer 2019

Gonzalo López-Gallego The Hollow Point 2016

Hal Hartley The Unbelievable Truth 1989

Hal Hartley Trust 1990

Hal Hartley Simple Men 1992
My wife and I purchased the Long Island Trilogy and Henry Fool Trilogy blu ray sets from Mr. Hartley's website.  I had seen about 4 Hal Hartley films previously but not the entire trilogies, whereas my wife grew up watching them over and over and was a really good guide throughout the works. I am always attracted to film directors who work with the same cast of characters through a body of work, Hartley not only does that so well, but also in the similarity of themes explored, manipulated, and played around with throughout the films. Can't really think of another director who does this so well. I have heard that nineties films are sort of disappearing from the general film enthusiast's consciousness at this time, which does seem quite true in terms of what has not made it to streaming or blu ray. People growing up watching films from this period often times think of the general mood of independent film to be not dissimilar to that of the seventies. I can imagine many people hating Hartley's films, as they can be pretty jarring in their construction and presentation of text and image, but they are quite brilliant when one spends time with them. They are in a way the classic examples of independent nineties films. Great stuff.

Michelangelo Antonioni The Passenger 1975
Probably the Antonioni film I have seen the most, always captivated me as a youth with all the long camera takes and tricks with people and objects moving throughout the frame. Such a perfect ending and one hell of a great shot. The Italian title is really nice: Professione: reporter.

Richard Tuggle Tightrope 1984
Being a huge Clint Eastwood fan, I am not sure how I missed this film, one of the strangest serial killer films and a pretty odd film for Mr. Eastwood as he is a detective (spoiler alert?) sleeping with prostitutes throughout the film. Very solid film.

Budd Boetticher Ride Lonesome 1959
A truly great work from the Burt Kennedy/Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott series. Some beautiful camera work and dark undertones.

Hal Hartley Henry Fool 1997
Seen from the Henry Fool Trilogy blu ray box set. First Hal Hartley film I remember seeing, quite memorable. My viewing partner says "this one goes dark", which is very accurate. Heavy and dark film.

Duncan Jones Moon 2009
Sam Rockwell film.