Sunday, June 28, 2020


Austin Rockman & Dark - Tape322
Artwork by darkness moves

Thursday, June 11, 2020

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

Hiroshi Teshigahara Antonio Gaudí 1984
Immersion into the classic score by Toru Takemitsu, Shinji Hori, and Kurôdo Môri always brings one into a complete dream state. This loving portrait of the work of Antoni Gaudí slowly shifts around and through these unique buildings, and is unlike anything this viewer has seen in terms of a documentary of an architect, artist, or designer. Such a great film.

Edgar G. Ulmer Detour 1945

Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein 1974
Stunning actorshippe by Teri Garr, Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn and Kenneth Mars. Put together so very well by Brooks and his dp Gerald Hirschfeld, set decorators Dale Hennesy and Robert De Vestel, and editor John C. Howard. Always a pleasure to watch this one.

David Cronenberg The Fly 1986
This period of Cronenberg never excited me as much as the earlier period (Shivers, Scanners, The Brood), but figured no harm in giving it another chance. Certainly not a bad film, enjoyed more this viewing.

Michael Winterbottom 24 Hour Party People 2002
Another second go at a film that never seemed very enticing.

John Cassavetes Faces 1968
Cassavetes fills this most beautiful film with some of the dirtiest, classless businessman bottom feeders in Los Angeles, most valiantly exemplified by the great actor Val "I'm old enough to be your father" Avery. The scene when Seymour Cassel is first introduced is a perfect example of the magic of music, photography, editing, and actorshippe in cinema. Perfect damn film, Cassavetes could really put a film together like no one else.

Clint Eastwood The Bridges of Madison County 1995
Solid Eastwood film. I very much like the story within the story, but on rewatch can do without the story itself. Streep and Eastwood give some beautiful performances.

John Flynn Rolling Thunder 1977
Some of these less showy 1970s films need two or three viewings to get into the groove, but generally pay off quite well after you put the time in. Not exactly sure why that is, perhaps it has to do with getting past the sometimes abstract narratives to a viewing position where mood and feeling are completely absorbed, not unlike meditation with the journey from non-comfort to bliss. Really love the transition from mellow beginnings in this work, to completely out of control. Second time seeing, and ready for a third.

Pietro Germi Divorce Italian Style 1961

Richard Brooks In Cold Blood 1967
Heavy contrast black and white photography by Conrad L. Hall where blacks are completely without light. The documentary Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography covers Hall's work brilliantly, centering on the end rain/tear section. Robert Blake and Scott Wilson give performances that are beyond natural, must have been a bit shocking at the time. I am use to Scott Wilson from The Walking Dead, but one can see him in The Right Stuff, Monster, The Host, The OA, In the Heat of the Night and many other films.

William Wyler The Collector 1965
Just one great film. Second or third time seeing, this time on the lovely Indicator blu ray. Putting my wife and myself on a Terrence Stamp kick.

Ben Stiller The Cable Guy 1996
Didn't mind this film but would have enjoyed it much more if Jim Carey had just toned it down a slight bit. One of those great actors that I often times don't enjoy watching, but still the film had some moments.

Stephen Frears The Hit 1984
For this viewer, The Hit is one of those nearly perfect films, that with its many facets disguised as being simple, and an extreme level of subtlety. The film is like a bit of cake in the fridge calling you in the night to take just one more bite. Strangely it has many similarities with another film that one could describe this way - Sexy Beast. Here we find Terence Stamp's character Willie Parker, after a 10 year sabbatical from the mobster life, on a trip to meet his maker. In a way the film mirrors Stamp's own life with his years away in India after a breakup with Jean Shrimpton.

John Sayles The Secret of Roan Inish 1994
Finally getting to see this as it is streaming on amazon. Great film, John Lynch! One of the best Sayles films, in a career full of great films. When is there going to be more appreciation for this master?

Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen The Kid Stays in the Picture 2002
Not in tune with the montage of heck style of this film.

Phil Joanou Three O'Clock High 1987
Shot at the stunning Art Deco Ogden High School in Utah. Strange atmosphere for the late 1980s. Film is a little too slow at times, but has a nice anti-80s edge, like the character instead of being content that the nice girl likes him, instead says "it is going to be a good day" when 2 other ladies give him attention, including a kiss from his rather attractive teacher.

David Cronenberg Rapid 1977
Many of these films I am rewatching lately I find I am enjoying much more than when I was in my twenties and thirties, and at that time I thought they were pretty good. Perhaps in those times of youth viewers are always expecting more, and perhaps too critical of what the viewer sees as not perfect. This is not really as high up on my Cronenberg list as Scanners or They Came from Within, but Jesus H Christ Cronenberg can really make a film with an uncomfortable atmosphere, totally unique to himself.

Harold Ramis Groundhog Day 1993
Many rewatches seems fitting for this film, one of the few rom-coms I can sit back with. Bill Murray sure is one hell of a great actor.

Alfred Hitchcock Lifeboat 1944
Classic underappreciated Hitchcock film. Watched the masters of Cinema bly ray, much better image quality than my old VHS tape. Love the theme of the film that people appearing superhuman because they are so far ahead of everyone intellectually and physically, have just resorted to cheating and trickery. The blagards.

Ron Howard Parenthood 1989

Wolfgang Petersen In the Line of Fire 1993
Not one of the best Clint Eastwood films, but pretty damn good.

Sergio Leone The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966 Director's Cut
Very familiar with the theatrical version, but had only seen the extended cut a couple of times. This time really noticing the difference in the sound design between the new and standard scenes. Also watched with the Christopher Frayling commentary, excellent and informative.

Jonathan Glazer Birth 2004
Such powerful camerawork by Harris Savides, and the way Glazer sets up these masterful shots is unreal. Great looking film, but the second viewing I wonder how I feel about the ending and the presence of the Anne Heche character, doesn't sit in my stomach well, but the awesomeness of the film makes me not really care in a way.

Ingmar Bergman Autumn Sonata 1978
Finally was able to purchase the Criterion box set Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, and plan on going through in the next 6 months. Randomly started with Autumn Sonata as I had only seen once and remember the Ingrid Bergman performance being spectacular. The extras have a Ingmar Bergman interview where he discusses her initial acting being too overboard, but how she was finally able to transition into this stunning performance that we see now, really not much like it.

John Carpenter They Live 1988
Attempting to build a small blu ray library for myself, who knows how easy or hard it will be to see this films in the future with streaming? This of course being an essential film for my desert island cinema, and even though I have watched a couple dozen times since I was probably 8-10 years old, I was almost trembling with excitement to watch it again. Also watched a second time with Roddy Piper and John Carpenter commentary, on Shout! blu ray.

Alfred Hitchcock Suspicion 1941
Joan Fontaine, Cary Grant, and the always wonderful Nigel Bruce. Worth seeing, but not an essential Hitch film.

Clint Eastwood Pale Rider 1985
Great tag line; ... And Hell followed with him. Very nice to see Michael Moriarty here. I used to try and watch about 6-8 Eastwood films a year all in a row, and rotate them the next year slightly, so I would see most of his films about every 4 years. Hadn't really done that in the last 6 years so I am making up for it hopefully in the next few weeks by watching a ton. I could see the tone he gets not being for everyone, but it sure suits me fine and more than that, I find the atmosphere of his films really hypnotic and just always what I am in the mood for.

Ann Turner Celia 1989
Beautiful Australian film somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and horror. The young actress Rebecca Smart is so good in this, top-notch performance.

Hal Ashby The Last Detail 1973
Two films with Michael Moriarty in the last couple of days.

Woody Allen Irrational Man 2015
With Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, and Parker Posey. Started really nice with Phoenix as a alcoholic professor, it would have been nice to hang out in that world, but the film gets too complicated with murder and very heavy handed with the music. Not without interest.

Bruce Beresford Don’s Party 1976
70s Australian craziness.

John Ford Wagon Master 1950
One of those lesser known Ford films, at least I always thought, that is right up there in his top ten.  This Ford film always stood out so much due to the pure darkness that enters the film as we encounter the Cleggs, makes you shake in your boots as you watch. Beautiful film shot by Bert Glennon, dark blacks and extreme contrast as I love.

Clint Eastwood Play Misty for Me 1971
Eastwood's first directed film. Has a sort of b movie quality to it, which really gives a great quality to the film on a rewatch. Great film, Jessica Walter gives a wonderful performance. I never knew that was Don Siegel as the bar tender.

Krzysztof Kieślowski The Scar (Blizna)1976
Kieślowski's first feature film. Seen in the Arrow blu ray boxset Cinema of Conflict: Four Films by Krzysztof Kieślowski, this film is so stunning and gorgeous visually and sonically you will find yourself gasping for air. The recurring sonic theme of a drone with foley-like percussive sound is most rewarding, and gives the film a real dark and pensive quality. There is also a moment when Stefan Bednarz is gazing at the magic hour landscape from his room, and the camera mimics his gaze but shifts with interruptions as he turns on the light to reveal himself reflected in the glass out of focus and abstracted. So lovely.

Krzysztof Kieślowski Concert Wishes 1967

Howard Hawks His Girl Friday 1940
Rosalind Russell so very good in this film.

Jerzy Skolimowski The Shout 1978
Based on a short story by Robert Graves. Have been watching this film a lot lately, such a great one, so bizarre! This and Moonlighting are two of my favorite films

Clint Eastwood The Outlaw Josey Wales 1976
One great Western by Clint.

Stuart Staples Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith 2016
Micro photography by F. Percy Smith along to Tindersticks album.

Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo 1958
This along with Dirty Harry helped a young man move to San Francisco back in the good old days.

Pedro Almodóvar Pain and Glory 2019
Second time with this film, as excellent as the first time.

Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay Street of Crocodiles 1986

Terry Zwigoff Art School Confidential 2006

John Landis The Blues Brothers 1980
These guys know how to treat Illinois Nazis.

Carl Reiner The Jerk 1979
Had not seen this since I was a little fellow. Still love the stuff with M. Emmet Walsh; "die gas pumper".

Bruce Beresford The Club 1980
Australian football film from the heavy Bruce Beresford. Joins the ranks of good sports films for people who hate sports.

Ivan Passer Cutter’s Way 1981
Now that I am finally getting into buying blu rays, one of the better American companies has folded - Twilight Time. Picked up a few before they got super expensive, like Passer's fantastic 1981 John Heard and Jeff Bridges film.

Alan Parker Birdy 1984
One of those films it is hard to believe I have not seen, as it is a perfect blend of abstraction in cinema and narrative perfection. The section where we experience flight with Peter Gabriel's intense score truly took my breath away. Great film!

Gene Saks Cactus Flower 1969

Paul Schrader Blue Collar 1978
Very nice story and actors but somehow doesn't work for this viewer, but I think I am in the minority.

David Miller Lonely Are the Brave 1962
One of the best Westerns for this viewer, and also a monumental Kirk Douglas film as well. Just so damn touching and deep, it is hard not to find tears in one's eyes.

Sergio Leone A Fistful of Dollars 1964
A fond film school memory is riding my bicycle to a LaserDisc only store in Boston around 1994, I wish I could remember the name, and renting many LaserDiscs and making an occasional purchase. This store had every LaserDisc made and a very knowledgeable staff whom loved recommending films. Discovering the Criterion Collection discs was like a heathen discovering the holy bible. I would often go and rent discs and for films I loved or figured I would love I bought. One day I randomly picked up A Fistful of Dollars and Yojimbo and brought them up to the register to buy. The fellow working there said “oh very nice connection”. I didn’t understand the connection because I was a dumb kid, and asked him to explain and he said "this one (pointing to A Fistful) is a remake of this one (pointing to Yojimbo)". The concept of that was again like discovering some sacred text, and I went home and watched them both in the order they were made. Since then I have purchased the DVD and now he blu ray, and seen the film many times in between. Very nice to see this restored version which really has a different hue than I remember.

Carroll Ballard Fly Away Home 1996
One of Ballard's best films, why is he not spoken of more? He is one of the masters. Unreal photography by Caleb Deschanel.

Robert Altman California Split 1974
The perfect film on degenerate gamblers.

Bill L. Norton Cisco Pike 1972
This and California Split were two films I had seen once or twice back in the VHS days and were huge influences on me as a film enthusiasts, but ones I really needed to see again.

Wim Wenders The American Friend 1977
An almost yearly rewatch. Perfect film from a perfect novel. Dennis Hopper references his early career in Westerns with his many western outfits, and even Nicholas Ray's film Rebel Without a Cause with many of his movements and gestures throughout. God what a film!

Ted Kotcheff First Blood 1982
I thought I had seen this film many a couple of times as a kid, but realized I never had when watching it. The first half of this film is just about perfect, and the second half pretty damn good. Not surprising it is so good as Kotcheff directs, his 1971 film Wake in Fright is a truly great work of art.

Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in the West 1968
Perhaps the Leone film that is best suitable to watching over and over. Pure poetry. Growing up watching and loving so many Westerns, I get slightly down when my wife notices the only women in most women are prostitutes or victims. This film stands apart from that often times correct statement regarding Westerns, with the magnificent Claudia Cardinale.

John Schlesinger Far From the Madding Crowd 1967
Shot by Nicholas Roeg; light abstractions galore. Great film from one of the most loveliest of novels by Thomas Hardy.

Joseph Losey The Boy with Green Hair 1948
Strange film which features Dean Stockwell as a boy. I remembered nothing from my initial viewing 20 years ago. Not really a Losey film I would revisit.

John Schlesinger Darling 1965
This great film I have seen many times, some viewings hating it, most loving it. Such an emotional roller coaster and so beautifully acted by Dirk Bogarde and Julie Christie. Depending on where you are in your life this film can have an odd effect. As I enter my years of nihilism, I have no emotional/psychological reason most of the time to like or dislike a film so it was pure bliss.

Luchino Visconti Death in Venice 1971
Read the wonderful Thomas Mann book in high school, and when moving to Boston saw this film playing at the Harvard Film Archive. I think the film went over this 19 year old's head but sure left an impression. Björn Andrésen, the young boy playing Tadzio, is the old cliff jumping man in Midsommar. Shot by the great Pasqualino De Santis (Romeo and Juliet, , Lancelot du Lac, L'Argent, etc.)

Liliana Cavani The Night Porter 1974
More Dirk Bogarde, here with Charlotte Rampling in this ex Nazi film. Avoided watching this for almost 30 years now, not sure if I should have broken that avoidance.

Peter Fonda The Hired Hand 1971
Beautiful Arrow blu ray with features including Peter Fonda commentary. One of those films to watch over and over.

Glenn Gordon Caron Clean and Sober 1988
Michael Keaton plays a alcoholic drug addict in recovery with Morgan Freeman.

John Woo Hard Target 1993
Jean-Claude Van Damme action film taking place in New Orleans with Yancy Butler and Lance Henriksen. Not bad, Woo shows the gravity of some of his virtuosic filmic "poetry of violence" which alone makes the film worth watching.

Josephine Decker Shirley 2020
Didn't like the film. Too much try this and try that in the visual presentation and the story was really not film worthy.

Mike Leigh Career Girls 1997
Second time seeing this. One of those Mike Leigh films that is not amazing but nonetheless worth watching as it is a Mike Leigh film.

Andrzej Żuławski Possession 1981
Second time seeing this and the subtle qualities which come forth on a rewatch make the film much more serious than the initial viewing. If one considers Gena Rowlands crazy episode in A Woman Under the Influence to be possibly the best bit of actorshippe in film history, one would have to admit that Isabelle Adjani's abortion scene in the train station is not far behind. Not too many films like this one, it has the Eastern European style Surrealism, but made so much more plain and non-grandiose by Żuławski almost in the way Lynch did in America. Great film.

Sidney Lumet Serpico 1973
In high school I had a handful of VHS tapes including Godfather 1 & 2, Dog Day Afternoon, and Serpico. Apparently a big Al Pacino fan. One of those films I have probably seen more than 20 times, and a viewing is like hanging out with a good friend. Interesting time to see it with all the police violence happening. So fucked that nothing changes, that making change is so futile.

Charles Burnett My Brother’s Wedding 1983
Very much a huge Killer of Sheep enthusiast, one of those films that I get goosebumps when I hear the name or when it enters my head. Still have yet to watch all of Mr. Burnett's other films, and saw this on Criterion Channel. Pretty good film, love the way Burnett shows folk's personality in subtle ways, the character development, or almost lack of development but just character stasis. Very nice.

Jocelyn Moorhouse Proof 1991
Solid 1990s Australian film with Hugo Weaving, Russell Crowe, and Geneviève Picot, with Weaving playing a blind photographer. Great concept, very enjoyable film.

Donald Cammell White of the Eye 1987
Strange serial killer film with David Keith and Cathy Moriarty. Certainly not without interest.

Hal Ashby Coming Home 1978
Jesus what a film, and amazing performances by Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, and Bruce Dern all photographed by Haskell Wexler. Great story as well.

John Flynn Rolling Thunder 1977
Double feature on post Vietnam films. Third time watching this film, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite 70s films. So gritty but smooth as can be at the same time.

John Ford Rio Grande 1950
Watched twice, once with Stephen Prince commentary on the Masters of Cinema blu ray. Not a Ford film I love, but it is growing on me the more I watch (three times the last couple of months).

Otto Preminger Bonjour Tristesse 1958
Just one of the most flat films I have seen, all round flat.

David Worth, Mark DiSalle Kickboxer 1989
Another Jean-Claude Van Damme film. Not bad.

Tom Huckabee, Kent Smith Taking Tiger Mountain Revisited 1982/2016
Early performance by Bill Paxton. This film would have been more my thing at age 20, perhaps a bit too experimental for me now. Great looking and Paxton has a few disorienting sex scene. Worth watching.

John Sayles Sunshine State 2002