Tuesday, September 8, 2020

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

Gregg Araki Mysterious Skin 2004
Great music in this film which feels like a beginning point the director took when starting the film, which was confirmed by an interview on the Criterion Channel where Araki said the novelist Scott Heim had these songs playing as he wrote the novel. Explosive beginning with Slowdive's cover of Syd Barrett's Golden Hair, soundtrack by Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie, and songs by Cocteau Twins, Sigur Rós, Ride, Curve, and many more Slowdives. Had never seen an Araki film, his style is very subtle and at the same time extremely explosive. Great film.

Alan Clarke The Firm 1989
Director's cut. After seeing this in an Alan Clarke retrospective at the MFA in around 1994, I used to tell people my favorite film was The Firm with Gary Oldman, and I would always get corrected; "you mean Tom Cruise". Finally seeing this on blu ray in the BFI box set. The more explicit shots are from an inferior print and a bit tough to watch in comparison with the loveliness of the rest of the transfer. Could watch this film over and over, my favorite by Clarke.

Federico Fellini  Toby Dammit 1968
Terence Stamp / Edgar Poe.

Nicolas Roeg Bad Timing 1980
Second time seeing this, the first time the sexual nihilism of Theresa Russell was frankly too much for me and I took a dislike to the film. Now that I am in my mid 40s and an emotional nihilist myself I can appreciate the beauty of the film much more, but honestly still find the story hard to deal with. Regardless of my issues with the film, Roeg is one of the most visionary filmmakers to ever work and this film shows off his complete mastery of the medium. His films are always such an extreme pleasure.

David Mamet Homicide 1991
This and Redbelt are two great films in the Mamet oeuvre. Joe Mantegna and William H. Macy just so great together especially with that strange Mamet dialogue that is always a bit disorienting. Was thinking how goddamn beautiful the film was and saw that Roger Deakins shot it. Great film.

Costa-Gavras Missing 1982
One of those near perfect films. Indicator blu ray so amazing, will watch many times in the coming years. This along with Save the Tiger are two of my favorite Jack Lemmon post 1970 films.

John Ford The Quiet Man 1952
Another film I have seen quite a few times but never on 35mm, and the Olive Signature blu just blew me away, such a beautiful film that one can finally see properly on home video. Have rarely seen films at home look so clear. In itself, The Quiet Man is just one of the best, one of Ford's best, Wayne at his highest level, and Maureen O'Hara just spectacular. The humor we find from Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen is really some of the greatest on screen humor I can think of. Perfect film.

Bernardo Bertolucci The Sheltering Sky 1990
The Master Musicians of Joujouka, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Paul Bowles, and Vittorio Storaro. Not a great film but worth watching.

Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid Meshes of the Afternoon 1943
Endlessly rewatchable film. I love the Teiji Ito soundtrack which was added later in 1959. I had a CD of his music back in the 90s and listen to it like I was on a mission from God.

Maya Deren At Land 1944
Had not seen in a long while and forgot about the John Cage cameo. Great film.

Akira Kurosawa Yojimbo 1961
Perfect film, seeing the Criterion blu ray which I had been wanting to get for a while. Overwhelming HIGH contrast photography by Kazuo Miyagawa, so much black in this film it often takes up 80% of the screen.

7.26.2020 - 7.28.2020
Craig Mazin & Johan Renck Chernobyl 2019
Still overwhelmed by the Hildur Guðnadóttir soundtrack. Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson displaying lovely levels of actorshippe which at times really takes one's breath away. Palette by cinematographer Jakob Ihre very similar to Robert Polidori's book Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl, very muted greens interacting with beige, gray and occasional splashes of more overt color.

Haskell Wexler Medium Cool 1969
Robert Forster in this cinéma vérité classic. Narrative moves in and around the vérité interpolations. Classic editing and cinematography.

Fear City: New York vs The Mafia 2020
For someone interested in 1970s and 1980s culture in NYC and America in general, this film's emphasis on the glorious abjectness of those decades made it worth watching. One argument that the period we live in is actually worse than what is shown here is that instead of people with character and vocabularies full of curses ripping us off, we are now being ripped off by banks and corporate  Fascism peddlers.

John Schlesinger Midnight Cowboy 1969
Glorious film. Criterion Collection blu ray has great special features like Schlesinger's partner Michael Childers discussing his work on the film. The Joshua Light Show work in the Warholesque party scene is quite lovely. The photography by Polish dp Adam Holender is so stunning, and very much more inspired by photographers of the time than traditional Hollywood cinematographers which gives the film a very unique look.

John Frankenheimer Ronin 1998
Third time watching. This film has some good moments but in general the car chase is the most memorable part of the film. Great cast as well - De Niro, Natascha McElhone, Jean Reno, Sean Bean, Stellan Skarsgård (as a rotten SOB), Jonathan Pryce, Michael Lonsdale, and Skipp Sudduth. Story sort of overly complicated.

Abel Ferrara Fear City 1985
The plot for this film pretty strange.... owners of a temp agency for strippers take the law into their own hands and hunt a serial killer with the our friends in La Cosa Nostra.

Maya Angelou Down in the Delta 1998
Wonderful only film by Angelou starring Alfre Woodard. Great film.

David Gordon Green George Washington 2000

Luther Price Run 1994
Beautiful film by the recently deceased Luther Price. In my days at MassArt they would play Price's Sodom film quite a bit, one hell of a powerful film. Hoping I can see that again soon and his other works on something besides youtube.

Andrew Haigh 45 Years 2015
Starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. Andrew Haigh has become one of this viewer's favorite filmmakers of the last decade. The films I have seen by him (Weekend, Lean on Pete, and 45 Years) are not only masterpieces, but also feel like completely different explorations. The subtitles of the two performers relationship here (connections and distancing) are spoken so softly in terms of Haigh's direction, that the film instantly becomes one of those films you actually want to watch again immediately after. Great film.

Paul Thomas Anderson Magnolia 1999
Problematic film for PT Anderson but has some good moments like Tom Cruise.

Paul Thomas Anderson Hard Eight 1996
Great first film, endlessly have rewatched it.

William Peter Blatty The Exorcist III 1990
Pretty good for George C. Scott.

Billy Wilder The Apartment 1960
How could one not buy the Arrow blu ray and watch this film once a year?

Samuel Fuller Forty Guns 1957
From the Fuller at Fox MoC blu ray box set.  One of his best.

Robert Benton Kramer vs. Kramer 1979
First saw this film in the theater with my mother at age five. Probably saw again in the 80s on HBO, but had not seen in a long time. After a recently seeing Marriage Story, it is hard not to be somewhat critical of that film which as I see it doesn't really add much to this. Very good film, which leaves an impression.

8.3.2020 - 8.6.2020
Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm season ten 2020
Wonderful season, starts out with LD taking a selfie stick from someone and breaking it without making any reference to the activity. Goes from there....

Samuel Fuller House of Bamboo 1955
From the MoC Fuller at Fox box set. Bob Stack and Bob Ryan. Great film.

John Cassavetes Love Streams 1984

Michael Ventura I’m Almost Not Crazy: John Cassavetes – The Man and His Work 1984

Samuel Fuller Hell and High Water 1954

P.J. Hogan Muriel’s Wedding 1994
Toni Collette! Great film.

Garry Marshall Frankie and Johnny 1991
In a mood to rewatch films this week I had not seen since high school. Funny how foggy these films are in my mind. Certainly has some good moments and worth watching. Pacino and Pfeiffer pretty damn good in this film.

Alfred Hitchcock Notorious 1946
Beautiful Hitchcock film I was not as familiar with, started a bit slow but really hit my wife and I like a ton of bricks when it got going. Such a beautifully photographed film by Ted Tetzlaff, this period by Hitch has some really lovely black and white camera work.

David Thompson Once Upon a Time…: Notorious 2009
Tony Scott Top Gun 1986
Not great but has some good moments. One of those films people endlessly talk about and I figured I should watch again as it has been 25+ years.

Barry Shear Across 110th Street 1972
One of those films this viewer watched a bunch of times in high school, along with Shaft and the sequels. Great film, really great moving film.

Gavin O’Connor The Way Back 2020
Ben Affleck as drunken high school basketball coach.

Michael Powell Peeping Tom 1960
A film that should be consumed numerous numerous times. Great lines like "take me to your cinema" and "The back of my neck told me. The part that I talk out of" spoken by the blind mother. Perfect film.

Maurice Pialat Police 1985
I love Pialat but this one seemed a little flat. The mysterious last shot with Gérard Depardieu and Górecki's Symphony No. 3 is ultra beautiful.

Atom Egoyan Exotica 1994
I have never seen a film with Bruce Greenwood so young. Very good film.

Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather: Part II 1974
One of the great De Niro performances, as well as John Cazale which goes without saying.
8.12.2020 - 8.27.2020
Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm season nine 2017
In this post-fascist world, my wife and I just need some Larry David to bring up our spirits.

Robert Florey Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Edgar G. Ulmer The Black Cat 1934

Lew Landers The Raven 1935
From the Masters of Cinema release Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi.

Curtis Harrington Night Tide 1961
Hard to not want to watch this one over and over. Great looking transfer on the Indicator blu ray.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder Ali: Fear Eats the Soul 1974
Personally one of my favorite Fassbinder films.

Peter Yates Breaking Away 1979
Saw this as a kid when I was not old enough to understand, now seeing it the film just speaks so clearly and perfectly. Perfect film.
John Boorman Deliverance 1972
Had not been able to bring myself to rewatch this, last time I was a teenager. Not as tough of a watch though as I remembered, great film.
Kihachi Okamoto Sword of Doom 1966
Glorious violence.

Joshua Brand, John Falsey Northern Exposure season one 1990 
Purchased the British edition of the blu ray for my wife and really enjoying going through this unique show.
Norman Jewison Moonstruck 1987
Good stuff, I can see why Criterion is putting it out.

8.17.2020 - 8.24.2020
Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm season ten 2020
Praise Larry David.
Matthew Vaughn X-Men: First Class 2011

Danny Boyle Yesterday 2019
This film had a good start, but went a little astray. Works good as a romantic film, and some very good actors. Not without interest.

Noah Baumbach Greenberg 2010
Not a bad Los Angeles hipster film.

Hal Needham Rad 1986
I watched Rad many times as a early teenager, I believe on HBO. Holds up pretty well, especially the slow motion sequence with Send Me An Angel by Real Life.

John G. Avildsen The Karate Kid 1984
One of those films I came to really dislike through the 90s and into the 2000s. Now watching it, I see there are moments of interest, especially Pat Morita's presence in the film. I actually find myself routing for the bad kids a bit now as I found Daniel-san pretty vexatious.  Still just not a film I really like much but as they say - not without interest.

Samuel Fuller Underworld U.S.A. 1961
From the Fuller at Columbia blu ray set. Great stuff.

Nicolas Roeg Walkabout 1971
Perfect film.

Nicholas Ray In a Lonely Place 1950
Once a year or every two year type of film.

Ronald Neame The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie 1969

8.28.2020 -8.31.2020
Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm season eight 2011
Bong Joon-ho Barking Dogs Never Bite 2000
Bong Joon-ho's first film.
Paul Schrader The Comfort of Strangers 1990
This film had some moments but got a little out of control at the end. Not a bad film but not one of Schrader's best perhaps.

Mike Leigh Vera Drake 2004
What I remember as a pretty emotionally tough film, turned out to be a quite pleasant and lovely film on the second go around. The shot of Imelda Staunton's face when the police arrive at her flat (above) has a level of actorshippe up there with Gena Rowlands' breakdown in A Woman Under the Influence or Isabelle Adjani in Possession. A slow transformation from slight emotion to a state of emotional death. Great film with pretty much all of Leigh's actors.
8.30.2020 - 9.8.2020
Richard Price The Outsider season one 2020 
Not bad.

9.1.2020 - 9.8.2020
Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm season six 2007
Continuing process of going backwards through Curb Your Enthusiasm, but decided to do six and seven one after tother.

Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit 2019
Because I look at color for a living, it has become more pronounced in my life the last couple of years. One recent trend on line is the film color palette analysis where specific films are represented in stills and color swatches shown below. For some reason this trend has begun to get bothersome for this viewer, perhaps because it reduces the great art form to interior or graphic design. Watching this film and looking at the extreme control of color present just started getting painful to watch after a while. All "in" colors like earthy yellows, teals, muted greens very much present and calling (too much) attention to themselves. Too much control.

Martin Campbell Casino Royale 2006
My wife and I decided to rewatch the recent Bond films with Daniel Craig in order. Starts out with one of the best Bond films ever.

Marc Forster Quantum of Solace 2008
Continuation of Casino Royale, not as good but Mr. Craig makes it worth watching, possibly this personal viewer's favorite Bond.

Charlie Kaufman I’m Thinking of Ending Things 2020