Wednesday, January 12, 2022

a record of consumption, part one (being a new film journal)

John Milius Big Wednesday 1978

The world of 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision has initiated a new way of viewing films here at the offices of The Art of Memory, with many old and new favorites being seriously devoured in an action of uncompromising consumption. With a non-distorted way of receiving light, and a quality of color that is immediately more like 35mm film, a certain pleasure of the moving image is consuming me. This falling in love yet again with light moving through time has rekindled the old film journal, and why not start with the Jan-Michael Vincent / Gary Busey classic.

Amy Heckerling Fast Times at Ridgemont High 1982

Criterion blu ray. Essential 80s high school film veering towards the poetic anti-social.

Tony Bill My Bodyguard 1980
Kino blu ray. Essential 80s high school film veering towards the poetic anti-social.

Wes Anderson The French Dispatch 2021

Is it strange to call such a popular film pretension? Could one say the same thing for the equally unwatchable I'm Thinking of Ending Things? Folks forever called pretentious reject these films in unison and are promptly called pretentious.

Mike Mills C’mon C’mon 2021

Not really a Mike Mills (or Miranda July) enthusiast but enjoyed the charm of this film's sound / image construction. Black and white photography shot by the heaviest of heavies Robbie Ryan whose work is always immediately inspiring.

Destin Daniel Cretton Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021

Not without interest.

Gareth Edwards Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016

4K rewatch which turned my lukewarm feelings into more on the warm side. Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn! Stunning photography by Greig Fraser (Dune, The Gambler, Killing Them Softly, Bright Star and many more).

Maggie Gyllenhaal The Lost Daughter 2022

Intense performances from Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Ed Harris, and  Peter Sarsgaard. Surprised by this film!

Peter Jackson The Beatles: Get Back 2021

Tsai Ming-liang Days 2020

Sublime film-making, Days transforms narrative time through long form techniques familiar from avant-garde cinema, shifting perception only in the way true cinema can. In the 90s my friends and I were very preoccupied with Ming-liang Tsai, and seeing his new collaboration with the actor Kang-sheng Lee and how their cinema has transformed over the years was an emotional experience honestly. His style from those days is so present here, with the subtle humor elements and slow temporal gaze, yet maybe more emotional and personal. Stunning film.

Jane Campion The Power of the Dog 2021

A film made to endlessly rewatch and bath in its light. Subtle Subtle Subtle surround/atmos sound work interlaced with the beautiful Johnny Greenwood soundtrack. The film is one of those great works with ambiguity as the starring character, giving a performance that is ephemeral, abstract, underscored, thought provoking, even mind-altering. As a record of consumption: Currently reading the 1967 Thomas Savage novel of the same name.

Kier-La Janisse Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror 2021

Purchased the Severin boxset All the Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium of Folk Horror and started with the doc. Very engaging and informative, and was glad to get the ball rolling with this thoughtful study. One criticism is that every scholar presented had such a dramatically different sounding recorded voice it made the film honestly hard to watch, especially a couple that were so tinny to the ears it was painful. Strange because in final cut one can pretty easily fix these sort of issues to at least an acceptable level, the film would have really been enhanced without these problems. Still quite good though.

Danny Strong Dopesick 2021

With a sort of recent anti television mindset, this viewer is still trying to find new shows to engage with… Dopesick was not bad, good cast, writing a bit off but it worked for the most part. Very much prefer Unbelievable with Kaitlyn Dever, but this show had some nice moments and certainly an interesting story.

Hugh Dillon Taylor Sheridan Mayor of Kingstown 2021

Another attempt to find some good television. Mayor of Kingstown not bad but having trouble getting into Mr. Sheridan’s more recent works. Loved Jeremy Renner in it! PS, didn't watch both shows in the same day but ended them here and can't remember when I started them.

John G. Avildsen The Karate Kid 1984

Essential 4K viewing. Special features with Pat Morita very much worth watching. Elegant dude.

Paul Verhoeven Benedetta 2021

Not sure what I am watching here. Problematic.

Aleksandre Koberidze What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? 2021


Fran Kranz Mass 2021

Feels like a problem, but good actors (Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, Reed Birney).

Thomas Vinterberg Festen / The Celebration 1998

New on blu ray from Criterion: Vinterberg’s second feature film Festen (The Celebration), being Dogme 95’s first film, followed by Lars von Trier’s The Idiots. It is nothing but pure pleasure for this viewer to read over the Dogme 95 requirements:

  1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)
  3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
  4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera.)
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.

Also the lovely “Vow of Chastity”:
“Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste! I am no longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a 'work', as I regard the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations. Thus I make my VOW OF CHASTITY.″

These rules perhaps in the cinema of the avant-garde are more commonplace, but for a narrative director to take them on was/is awe inspiring. Rule 2 (The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa) struck me while watching Festen in the way that the sound moves so elegantly from shot to shot, sometimes coming in as a narrative tool, going beyond current sound design methods in a way that seems more like in the world of chance techniques. The sound and image relationship if one is engaged in it, is pure poetry, hovering somewhere between Saul Levine's works and Luc Ferrari's montages, what first feels random becomes full of emotion and pleasure. Room tone shifts quickly with fast editing like a speed up David Lynch film.  Jesus H  this film is just stunning!

Hal Needham Smokey and the Bandit 1977

Essential 4K viewing. Also recently watched Needham's Rad in 4k.

James Whale Frankenstein 1931

Essential 4K viewing. Love thinking about Víctor Erice's Spirit of the Beehive whist watching this.

 John G. Avildsen The Karate Kid Part II 1986

Essential 4K viewing.

Jeong Chang-Hwa King Boxer (5 Fingers of Death) 1972

From Arrow's ShawScope Volume One box set. For this viewer, the English overdubbing in Shaw Brothers films was always something too difficult to get past, and now seeing King Boxer in the original Mandarin, the poetics finally are unleashed. Included is a quite nice history of the Shaw Brothers by Tony Rayns.

Paolo Sorrentino The Hand of God 2021

Problematic in the Fellini tradition.

Pablo Larraín Spencer 2021

Story and acting lacking, yet with beautiful soundtrack by Johnny Greenwood (perhaps in a Polish jazz or 70s ECM tradition!), and beyond lovely photography by Claire Mathon (Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Atlantics).

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