Sunday, March 13, 2022

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

Otakar Vávra Witchhammer 1970

From Severin's boxset All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror. Czech film tells the story of the Northern Moravia witch trials of the 1670s. Interesting beginning, where a dirty bastard explains the origin of sin is to be found in women, over a montage of nude women in a bathhouse (Beauty comes from the Devil).

Delbert Mann Marty 1955

Perfect film.  What could be better than watching a movie of mostly failed dates.

Yorgos Lanthimos Nimic 2019

Alexandre Rockwell Sweet Thing 2020

Jane Campion An Angel at My Table 1990

Following up on my "watch ever Jane Campion film" idea this month, we now arrive at one of the heaviest An Angel at My Table, not an easy watch, but worth it to stick through it. A tad dull initially, but as we get more familiar with Janet Frame's trials and tribulations, the more engaging the film became.

Mauricio Corco Espinoza Yun  2020

Georgiy Kropachyov, Konstantin Ershov Viy 1967
Kåre Bergstrøm Lake of the Dead 1958
Viðar Víkingsson Tilbury 1987
Mario Andreacchio The Dreaming 1988
James Bogle Kadaicha 1988

From Severin's boxset All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror.

William Friedkin Cruising 1980

Arrow blu ray. Third time seeing this, besides it being just an overwhelming disorienting horror film, the use of music and sound design is brilliant throughout the film, having the music often times present but a little louder than it needs to be, adds to the disorienting quality to this film and gives the bizarre end that extra kick. Possibly the best Friedkin film?

Tsui Hark Once Upon a Time in China II & Once Upon a Time in China III 1992

Melvin Van Peebles Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song 1971

Opens with 12 year old Mario Van Peebles naked on top of and engaging with a naked prostitute. Crazy psychedelic stuff, highly creative, hard to watch, and truly avant'garde.

Melvin Van Peebles Sunlight 1957

Flickering black and white lushness, sometimes under exposed, sometimes over. Collision of music like Charles Ives collage of folk tunes, patriotic songs, and marching band music. Beautiful film.

Dee Rees Pariah 2011

Stunning film on the turbulent life of a young Brooklyn high school girl.

Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window 1954

Essential 4K rewatch. L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) apartment acting as a camera recording the goings on in the facing apartment.

Alfred Hitchcock The Birds 1963

Wayne Wang Chan is Missing 1982

Wonderfully nonsensical San Francisco neo-noir. Our would be detective Jo (Wood Moy) interrogates a woman but we can't hear because her kid is playing music too loud in his bedroom. Keeps going from here with the private dick stuff..... like a bizarre version of the classic SF Noirs. Great film, a new favorite!

John Carpenter Halloween 1978

Essential 4K rewatch.

Josef von Sternberg The Devil Is a Woman 1935

From Indicator's boxset Marlene Dietrich & Josef Von Sternberg at Paramount 1930-1935. Hadn't watch Josef von Sternberg's films in a dog's age.

Ridley Scott The Martian 2015

Essential 4k rewatch.

Tod Browning Dracula 1931
James Whale The Invisible Man 1933
George Waggner The Wolf Man 1941

Essential 4K rewatch. From the Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection boxset.

Sydney Pollack Three Days of the Condor 1975

Hard to not be charmed by Pollack's take on the 70s paranoia aka Klute, Parallax View and All the President's Men.

Richard Fleischer Mr. Majestyk 1974

Watched the Kino blu ray. Favorite Bronson film sitting up there with Once Upon a Time in the West and Death Wish.

Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz Messiah of Evil 1973

Josef von Sternberg The Scarlet Empress 1934
Josef von Sternberg Shanghai Express 1932

From Indicator's boxset Marlene Dietrich & Josef Von Sternberg at Paramount 1930-1935.

Kathryn Bigelow Point Break 1991

My wife and I have watched this once a year since we met, never gets old. Still picking up strange expressions from Gary Busey (Pappas) on each viewing.

Peter Yates The Friends of Eddie Coyle 1973

Via Criterion. Essential cinema.

Josef von Sternberg Dishonored 1931

Christopher Nolan Batman Begins 2005

Essential 4K rewatch.

Tsai Ming-liang Stray Dogs 2013

On a Tsai Ming-liang kick after his recent film. Had not seen this one... jeez what a film. Slow beautiful stuff. Last shot goes on and on and on.... way after you expect the credits to come... but what a great shot, hard to find anything but the sublime in it. As a young man watching these films, I thought Tsai Ming-liang's main actor Lee Kang-sheng was sort of an eccentric screen presence, that was always a pleasure to watch, but over the last few months rewatching these films, his performances are really just so stunning you could count him up there with Gena Rowlands and John Cazale in terms of the skill as an actor he conveys to the audience... in Stray Dogs there is a cabbage eating emotional scene so powerful it is up there in top 10 screen performance. Lee Kang-sheng really can just do anything on screen.

Hirokazu Kore-eda The Truth 2019

Tsai Ming-liang Journey to the West 2014

Slow film focused on performances by Lee Kang-sheng and Denis Lavant. Tsai Ming-liang likes to sometimes put his actors through an endurance test, doing something physical or emotional (or both) that is clearly not easy for the actor. Here we have Lavant staring into the lens for what seems like forever and Lee Kang-sheng playing a Buddhist monk traversing so slowly through Marseilles it is like a minute a footstep. If not for a script, the film would be perhaps more of a filmed performance, but somehow a clear narrative sinks in and gives some complexity to the film. A shot where Lee Kang-sheng walks down some steps with dust from the space creating magical light flickers was truly a sublime event, with passers by mystified by his actions. The level of precision and focus the actor had to maneuver so slowly down the stairs boggles the mind. Even later as he traverses an alley, Denis Lavant attempts to imitate him and go slow through time and space, and really bringing attention to the virtuosity present in what we are seeing. Often a shot is happening for some time and one gets lost in the beauty, and finally the monk enters the scene both expected and unexpected. Amazing film, one of Tsai Ming-liang's best.

Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight 2008

Part II with Heath Ledger. Another masterclass in acting, this time with Mr. Ledger, definitely not an overrated performance.

Steven Spielberg Duel 1971

ABC Movie of the Week. Story and screenplay by Richard Matheson (I Am Legend), directorial debut of Spielberg. Sort of loser businessman Dennis Weaver drives across the California desert getting totally f*cked with by a deranged truck driver. Reminds me of the great line from David Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return: "It's a world of truck drivers".

Stephen Cone Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party 2015 & Princess Cyd 2017

Julia Ducournau Raw 2016

Hard to watch! No messing around. Laurent Lucas from With a Friend Like Harry... (2000) plays the father.

Hal Ashby 8 Million Ways to Die 1986

Good vibe to this film.

Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Rises 2012

4K rewatch, had only seen this once at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. Not as good as first two, but worth watching. Good cast besides regular crew: Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Mendelsohn, Matthew Modine, Aidan Gillen.

Sergio Leone The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966

Essential 4K rewatch.

Edward Owens Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts 1968

Peter Tscherkassky Train Again 2021

Kurt Kren inspired train flicker film. Sound by Dirk Schaefer.

Jackie Chan Police Story 1985

Josef von Sternberg Blonde Venus 1932

From Indicator's boxset Marlene Dietrich & Josef Von Sternberg at Paramount 1930-1935. Previously my favorite von Sternberg film, still resonates very strongly.

Joseph Ellison The Burning aka Don’t Go in the House 1979

Arrow blu ray release, extended cut with original title The Burning. One tough film, the scene where the killer goes into a clothing store to buy a disco outfit and interacts with the sales clerk who says "I think it's a dynamite outfit" is pretty amazing. The initial burning scene with nudity is quite disturbing. Second time seeing this film and really appreciate it's timbre, underrated horror film. Stars Dan Grimaldi, whom is a recognizable character in The Sopranos. Shot at the Strauss Mansion Museum in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. On the blu ray, there is are two interviews with Joseph Ellison presenting him as an articulate artist with a strong aesthetic, surprised he didn't have a bigger career, he only made one other film Joey.

Calum Waddell, Jim Kunz Grindhouse All-Stars: Notes from the Sleaze-Cinema Underground 2017

Joanna Hogg The Souvenir 2019

Joseph Ellison The Burning aka Don’t Go in the House 1979

Watched with commentary by Stephen Thrower on disc 2 and by Joseph Ellison and producer Ellen Hammill on disc 1.

John Woo Hard Target 1993

Essential 4K rewatch. Some of the best action sequences ever filmed, especially the explosive end in the warehouse of antiquated Mardi Gras floats and statues. Kino discs has very informative extras like interviews with Yancy Butler, John Woo, and Lance Herniksen.

Charlotte Stoudt Pieces of Her 2022

Toni Collette, Bella Heathcote, David Wenham (LOTR and Top of the Lake), and Gil Birmingham (Hell or High Water, Wind River). Good acting, script is off.

John Carpenter Prince of Darkness 1987

Essential 4K rewatch.

Wayne Wang The Joy Luck Club 1993

Based on the novel by Amy Tan, four women play mahjong in San Francisco, and their various family histories are explained through flashbacks.

Sergio Corbucci Django 1966

John Carpenter They Live 1988

Essential 4K rewatch.

Daniel Petrie Lifeguard 1976

Was not familiar with this film, heard about it from the recent WTF podcast with Sam Elliott. Was a bit put off by his derogatory remarks on The Power of the Dog film, especially since I see Tombstone as nothing but a "piece of shit" "Chippendales western", but still hard to dislike the great actor who has been in a few good films like Road House and The Big Lebowski. Lifeguard could be added to the list of solid Elliott films, def has that 70s sleaze which is often great but can sometimes sink into something a little more slimy than you are comfortable with, which it does a bit in Lifeguard in the way women are presented, but overall the film has a good vibe and he is quite excellent in it.

Taylor Hackford An Officer and a Gentleman 1982

Beautiful film with love story between Richard Gere and Debra Winger, and more tragic one between David Keith and Lisa Blount (from Carpenter's Prince of Darkness). Solid performances by Louis Gossett Jr., Robert Loggia, and Grace Zabriskie! So used to seeing Zabriskie in the strange Lynch roles, it was a little jarring to see her in a more straight role. Strange score by the master Jack Nitzsche in which he mainly abstracts the melody from Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes.

Bent Hamer Factotum 2005

Very good film with Matt Dillon as Charles Bukowski’s alter ego, Henry Chinaski. Alcoholism, degenerate gambling, inability to keep a job, and bad relationships. Hard to get that wonderful Bukowski quote from Sideways out of my mind: "Half my life is over, and I have nothing to show for it. I'm a thumbprint on the window of a skyscraper. I'm a smudge of excrement on a tissue surging out to sea with a million tons of raw sewage." Lily Taylor and Marisa Tomei also really wonderful in the film.

John Sturges The Great Escape 1963

4K via Kino.

Sam Raimi The Evil Dead 1981 & The Evil Dead II 1987

Essential 4K rewatches. Had never watched these films back to back, like a jazz song with 2 interpretations by the same artist. Joel Coen assisted in editing the first film. Blood is really stunning in 4k Dolby Vision!

Lawrence Kasdan Body Heat 1981

Rest In Peace Mr. William Hurt whom passed away today at age 71. One of the best actors of the 80s and 90s, even in films that are not amazing, he would elevate them to great heights. Going to spend the next few weeks savoring his filmography. Starting with one of the best, the South Florida neo-noir with almost unconfortable nudity, sweat flowing, greasy hair, great lines; just a perfect film, which is certainly very much elevated with Mr. Hurt's presence.

David Cronenberg A History of Violence 2005

William Hurt as the memorable gangster Richie Cusack with the strangely uncomfortable mustacheless goatee. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.