Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dan Warburton
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Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Jacques Rivette, Out 1 : Noli me tangere, 1971

A decade or so ago, this was the Holy Grail of long-sought-after New Wave treasures (along with Eustache's La Maman et La Putain), and it was Ed Howard here - long gone from IHM it seems, but I wish you well for the New Year and beyond Ed if by any chance you end up reading this - who informed me that it was available over at Karagarga, and duly invited me to join there. The rest, as they say is history. Meanwhile, in the intervening years, Rivette's 13-hour magnum opus (and the four-hour shorter but substantially different "remix" Out 1 : Spectre) has seen not one but two smashing remastered DVD/BluRay boxset reissues (Seems the Eustache is still mired in legal controversy, but we live in hope - and, yes, there is a 1080 HD rip over at KG). Anyway, fourth time through - I've also painstakingly transcribed the cuts and scene changes with a view to seeing how Rivette completely reworked them in Spectre, but haven't got round to revisiting that one yet. Numerous reviews to pore over here http://www.dvdbeaver.com/rivette/OK/filmography.html, but see it for yourself and make up your mind first. Don't be put off by the length: these days, nobody bats an eye about binge-watching a season of the latest series, so you can think of it as a series if you like, if that helps. Anyway, with months of enforced lockdown still to come I guess, it'll be something to launch yourself into. Happy New Year!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Thomas Vinterberg, Druk ("Another Round"), 2020

What better way to end a year where just about everyone's alcohol consumption (mine included) went up than by watching Mats Mikkelsen and his chums test a wacky Norwegian theory that we should in fact drink more (I've suscribed to this for many years, as it turns out). Except that, predictably, they keep upping the limit until everything fucks up spectacularly. Splendidly well-made movie, and if those chaps were really acting drunk, they deserve a pint. Or maybe not..
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

henriq wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:47 pm
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Michael Winterbottom - I Want You (1998)

A quick tally. Let’s get the gripes out of the way - and gawd they are many. First, never have I ever come across a character so dearly deserving of a broken nose as the little Polish boy in the centre of this. The same goes for whiny Alessandro Nivola, and Rachel fucking Weisz. Second, with that title, you would hope for Marvin Gaye, but no, you get perennially irritating Elvis Costello instead, glorified pub singer that he is. And third, to borrow a phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid!” To go a little bit Mike Davis or Thom Andersen here, where and how would a mute beach dweller get the finances for reel to reel tape recorders, directional microphones, sophisticated surveillance equipment? Or a hairdresser the money to live in a big house, again with high end gear, beachside and all - well, she inherited, and might be the owner of the salon where she works, so ok then. The nineties, lovely period. Cops would live in lofts with their own personal gyms and indoor waterfalls, part time bookstore employees could rent houses in the Hollywood hills, and earlier, in the eighties, to recall Diva, postmen could live in Parisian lofts with vintage cars and Nagra equipment. A real failure this far, and a bit of a shame, because the optics threaded and tessellated through this isn’t half bad - one part exposed nudity reminiscent of Chereau, one part the heightened vaudeville of surveillance and listening from Imamura’s The Pornographers, one part The Conversation turbocharged. It at least shows us that the director knows his cinema. Although, maybe not. The nudity feels a lot more salacious than it needs to be - why in fuck does the sister have to be a nymphomaniac, why would the brother tape her having sex, and why would they both listen to the tapes and laugh at it? The sex scenes must have been pretty raw for the period, but Chereau went there first, or before at least, and to misuse him like this is almost as inexcusable as Ozon butchering Fassbinder for Gouttes d’eau sur pierres brulantes. Needlessly flashy cinematography, all filtered like some awful music video. Once again, the wimping out of the commercially minded movie product. Winterbottom tries for a materialist footing here, but hesitates, stumbles and chickens out - but at least it points a little bit ahead to the masterful In This World not a whole many years later. This though, no thanks, nineties pap.
Ha, I watched this this morning and couldn't agree with you more. But was the kid Polish? Wasn't there some sort of Yugoslav connection? (No, I'm not going back to check..) Shame, as Winterbottom has done some cool things, but this isn't one of them. What's with the gaudy yellow filters (I know Hastings isn't all that attractive as seaside towns go, but why make it even queasier?)? You're almost doing it a favour comparing it to Chereau, Coppola and Imamura, methinks - more like a British holiday resort cheapo version of De Palma's Blow Out. Anyway, dumb plot. As for Elvis C, well, old Dechlan has written some good songs in his time - "Shipbuilding", anyone? - but "I Want You" is pretty second tier even for him.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by henriq »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:05 am
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Michael Winterbottom - I Want You (1998)


Ha, I watched this this morning and couldn't agree with you more. But was the kid Polish? Wasn't there some sort of Yugoslav connection? (No, I'm not going back to check..) Shame, as Winterbottom has done some cool things, but this isn't one of them. What's with the gaudy yellow filters (I know Hastings isn't all that attractive as seaside towns go, but why make it even queasier?)? You're almost doing it a favour comparing it to Chereau, Coppola and Imamura, methinks - more like a British holiday resort cheapo version of De Palma's Blow Out. Anyway, dumb plot. As for Elvis C, well, old Dechlan has written some good songs in his time - "Shipbuilding", anyone? - but "I Want You" is pretty second tier even for him.
Well, I wanted to like the film much more than it deserves. Those bits of that strain and militate against the overall triteness of the film do get stitched up in a pantheon of sorts. But no, awful movie, but yes, the boy probably had something to do with the Yugoslav war, maybe some posttraumatic stuff. But who cares? He still deserves a broken nose.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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I think he deserves to be rolled up in a mattress and thrown in the harbour, like the guy here (oops, a spoiler haha). Meanwhile -

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Steve McQueen, Mangrove, 2020

It seems Sir Steve (yes, after an OBE and a CBE, a knighthood - what next? PM?) McQueen can do no wrong - and who better to shoot a series of five films telling the (mostly) true stories of London's West Indian community in the 60s and 70s than someone actually born there, especially a Turner Prize / Academy Award winning Ealing boy made good? And made good against terrible odds, as he seemed at pains to point out in a 2014 interview where he "stated that he had a very bad experience in school [..] placed into a class for students believed best suited 'for manual labour, more plumbers and builders, stuff like that.' Later, the new head of the school would admit that there had been institutional racism at the time. McQueen added that he was dyslexic and had to wear an eyepatch because of a lazy eye, and reflected this may be why he was 'put to one side very quickly'". In short, there's no better poster boy for the BLM folks than McQueen, and no surprises for guessing that in Mangrove, the first of the Small Axe series, the black folks are the good guys and whitey is (with the possible exception of Ian MacDonald QC) "hideously villainous", to quote a rather typical genuflecting review https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/smal ... eview-2020. Hats off to McQueen for faithfully reproducing the look of late 60s Notting Hill (did I see Grenfell Tower lurking in the background there?), with F-registration cars and crackly black & white tellies, but I found his script curiously unnatural, a strange mixture of Trinidadian patois (no problem there, of course) and oddly stilted legalese. I say his (McQueen's) script, though it was co-written with Alastair Siddons - that said, it seems pretty clear from this interview https://www.awardsdaily.com/2020/11/20/ ... -mangrove/ that Mr Siddons was as much in awe of (and afraid of criticising?) "the big man" as most other people seem to be. I'm not, however. I'll applaud the film for its factual accuracy https://novaramedia.com/2020/06/18/toda ... l-history/ and its soundtrack, but the cinematography is unadventurous and TV-like, the script (as mentioned) unconvincing, and the acting - with the exception of Shaun Parkes and Llewella Gideon - unimpressive. 6/10 for good intentions. I'll report back on the other four Small Axes in due course.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Alain Corneau, France société anonyme, 1974

Practice yr French: https://cinedweller.com/movie/france-so ... e-du-film/ A few choice extracts DeepL-translated to give you a taste, in the meantime: "A former drug trafficker kept in a state of hibernation is resuscitated in the year 2222. The man then tells his story: in 1970, following the legalisation of drugs by the government, he loses his position as leader of the hitherto illegal market and decides to join a liberation front opposed to the multinationals managing the sale of drugs...[..] [T]he film proves to be resistant to any attempt at an explanatory synthesis. As part of the underground artistic movement, it adopts a suicidal attitude, giving the finger to any form of commercial art. Narrative takes a back seat to the accumulation of more or less disturbing sequences. [..] A crazed dystopian vision of the future, often unpleasant to watch, France société anonyme is a veritable UFO in French film production. Its flashes of violence, explicit sexuality and corrosive power led to many problems with censorship. The film was heavily penalised by an R18 rating, later reduced to R16. Not surprisingly, the film provokes lasting uneasiness in the viewer, through its destabilising images and its profoundly nihilistic discourse." Way to go! (Not that you need many more destabilising images and nihilistic discourse today :o ) File alongside Claude Faraldo's anarchic Bof and Themroc, and Marco Ferreri's La dernière femme (all shot, by the way, in the concrete jungle high rise hellhole of Créteil, as were several scenes in Corneau's later Série Noire). Wild.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Steve McQueen, Lovers Rock, 2020

Ah, much more like it - not a policeman or a barrister in sight, and just three or four white yobs hanging about further up the street, so no need for sententious platitudes or big socio-historical statements. Just a Ladbroke Grove house party with a great little sound system and a great collection of reggae 45s. If you don't thrill to the a cappella rendition of Janet Kay's "Silly Games" there's something wrong with you. Link to the YouTube version here, in one of dozens of deservedly positive reviews https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/29/arts ... l-axe.html
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Natalia Yu, I am Katya Golubeva, 2016

Fine hour-long documentary on the enigmatic and wondrously beautiful (well, that's just, my opinion, man) Ekaterina Golubeva. A timely reminder to rewatch all those Leos Carax films again, and not only the one she's in. No interview with the elusive Leos, of course, but Sharunas Bartas (also her partner for a while) throws a magnificent sulk and walks offscreen without saying anything. Still, with Golubeva, you don't need words.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Steve McQueen, Red, White and Blue, 2020

Much to agree with in this review https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/20 ... ega-review and if you want to read the real story of Leroy Logan, here it is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leroy_Logan Another impressive blow from McQueen's Small Axe (I still have two to go, but am wondering if the problem in Mangrove was Alastair Siddons.. as he co-wrote the two I haven't seen yet, I'll see if that hypothesis works out.. this one and Lovers Rock were written with Courttia Newland), with some superb filming (the long tracking shot as Logan follows the guy in the factory is magnificent) and, goes without saying, a splendid soundtrack.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Robert Frank, Pull My Daisy, 1959

"Based on an incident in the life of Beat icon Neal Cassady and his wife, the painter Carolyn, the film tells the story of a railway brakeman whose wife invites a respected bishop over for dinner. However, the brakeman's bohemian friends crash the party, with comic results." Written and narrated by Jack Kerouac, and "starring" Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg (in case you can't recognise them in the fuzzy screenshot above), with a cool soundtrack by David Amram (great sax by Paquito D'Rivera), this should be something of a Holy Grail for you beatniks out there. And as an added bonus, the great Delphine Seyrig makes her debut as the brakeman's bored housewife. A little gem!
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Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 4:55 am
Alain Corneau, France société anonyme, 1974

Practice yr French: https://cinedweller.com/movie/france-so ... e-du-film/ A few choice extracts DeepL-translated to give you a taste, in the meantime: "A former drug trafficker kept in a state of hibernation is resuscitated in the year 2222. The man then tells his story: in 1970, following the legalisation of drugs by the government, he loses his position as leader of the hitherto illegal market and decides to join a liberation front opposed to the multinationals managing the sale of drugs...[..] [T]he film proves to be resistant to any attempt at an explanatory synthesis. As part of the underground artistic movement, it adopts a suicidal attitude, giving the finger to any form of commercial art. Narrative takes a back seat to the accumulation of more or less disturbing sequences. [..] A crazed dystopian vision of the future, often unpleasant to watch, France société anonyme is a veritable UFO in French film production. Its flashes of violence, explicit sexuality and corrosive power led to many problems with censorship. The film was heavily penalised by an R18 rating, later reduced to R16. Not surprisingly, the film provokes lasting uneasiness in the viewer, through its destabilising images and its profoundly nihilistic discourse." Way to go! (Not that you need many more destabilising images and nihilistic discourse today :o ) File alongside Claude Faraldo's anarchic Bof and Themroc, and Marco Ferreri's La dernière femme (all shot, by the way, in the concrete jungle high rise hellhole of Créteil, as were several scenes in Corneau's later Série Noire). Wild.
Of course the pitch made me curious though I guessed beforehand what was in store : a typically seventies oddity (note that this is some sort of contradiction), displaying the obligatory amount of humour anar and arty-fartiness. Found myself thinking of Greenaway or of, closer to us, the excessive formalism, that is mannerism, of Cattet and Forzani. I find Corneau to be a clumsier director than those though, often the seams are apparent, when the camera moves, it moves with heaviness, characteristic actually of the whole thing. Referencing comic books and James Joyce felt already hackneyed at the time and doesn't serve any real purpose. The tongue-in-cheekness is a symptom of helplessness, exhaustion that feels both outdated but also still contemporary in a way - things haven't got any better, have they? Interesting but not successful, like those movies from the same era, by another Alain, Jessua, or comedies by Gérards, Pirès or Lauzier, the bent of mind of which is similar.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Lao Tsu Ben wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 8:44 am
Dan Warburton wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 4:55 am
Alain Corneau, France société anonyme, 1974

Practice yr French: https://cinedweller.com/movie/france-so ... e-du-film/ A few choice extracts DeepL-translated to give you a taste, in the meantime: "A former drug trafficker kept in a state of hibernation is resuscitated in the year 2222. The man then tells his story: in 1970, following the legalisation of drugs by the government, he loses his position as leader of the hitherto illegal market and decides to join a liberation front opposed to the multinationals managing the sale of drugs...[..] [T]he film proves to be resistant to any attempt at an explanatory synthesis. As part of the underground artistic movement, it adopts a suicidal attitude, giving the finger to any form of commercial art. Narrative takes a back seat to the accumulation of more or less disturbing sequences. [..] A crazed dystopian vision of the future, often unpleasant to watch, France société anonyme is a veritable UFO in French film production. Its flashes of violence, explicit sexuality and corrosive power led to many problems with censorship. The film was heavily penalised by an R18 rating, later reduced to R16. Not surprisingly, the film provokes lasting uneasiness in the viewer, through its destabilising images and its profoundly nihilistic discourse." Way to go! (Not that you need many more destabilising images and nihilistic discourse today :o ) File alongside Claude Faraldo's anarchic Bof and Themroc, and Marco Ferreri's La dernière femme (all shot, by the way, in the concrete jungle high rise hellhole of Créteil, as were several scenes in Corneau's later Série Noire). Wild.
Of course the pitch made me curious though I guessed beforehand what was in store : a typically seventies oddity (note that this is some sort of contradiction), displaying the obligatory amount of humour anar and arty-fartiness. Found myself thinking of Greenaway or of, closer to us, the excessive formalism, that is mannerism, of Cattet and Forzani. I find Corneau to be a clumsier director than those though, often the seams are apparent, when the camera moves, it moves with heaviness, characteristic actually of the whole thing. Referencing comic books and James Joyce felt already hackneyed at the time and doesn't serve any real purpose. The tongue-in-cheekness is a symptom of helplessness, exhaustion that feels both outdated but also still contemporary in a way - things haven't got any better, have they? Interesting but not successful, like those movies from the same era, by another Alain, Jessua, or comedies by Gérards, Pirès or Lauzier, the bent of mind of which is similar.
Yes, it's a real stylistic clusterfuck, isn't it? Put it down to youthful enthusiasm, I say. He got better - and then worse again :) Nice to see you, Ben, Happy New Year (2022 that is - looks like 2021 is already fucked)
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

Meanwhile, I've been OD'ing on films since the New Year (what else is there to do? anyone want to take part in a Zoom IHF Film Trivia Quiz?), as I was thoroughly pissed off when I realised I only saw 599 films (shorts count as one, but so do entire series) last year - DAMN, I'm determined to break the 600 barrier this year :lol: So here we go --
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Ryoji Ikeda, Superposition, 2013

https://www.ryojiikeda.com/project/superposition/ There's no substitute for seeing Ikeda's monumental digital overload live, with a huge screen and at cow-rendering volume, but if you're not fortunate enough to have experienced his work in the flesh (on the flesh, rather) - and this is one I unfortunately missed myself at the Festival d'Automne in Paris - you'll have to make do with this. The recipe is simple: Ikeda syncs his bleeps and blasts (they used to call this minimal techno, but minimal is not the word) with an array of razor-sharp graphics, ranging from literally billions of letters and numbers scrolling in all directions at warp speed to (here) star charts, old newspaper microfilms, meteorological footage, you name it. Two live performers type furiously away in Morse code, as if Ikeda just wanted to prove to us he could it do live too. It's awfully impressive, but invariably leaves you with the curiously unsettling impression that the world today is so insanely complex you'll never be able to comprehend it. That, combined with the aren't-I-cleverness of it all, leaves you bludgeoned and shellshocked. Quite an experience, but as I said above I'm not sure how well it comes across on the small screen. For you to decide, dear reader.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Alex von Warmerdam, Ober ("Waiter"), 2006

The king of comedy - dark Dutch style - does it again. Wiki: "Waiter tells the story of Edgar (Alex van Warmerdam), a waiter with a flair for the unfortunate. His wife, Ilse (Sylvia Poorta) is sick is overly rude to him. Customers at work constantly bully him and his neighbors make his life impossible. Fed up with the way his life is going, Edgar goes to the house of Herman (Mark Rietman), the scriptwriter who invented Edgar and is currently writing his story. Edgar complains about the events in his life that keep getting worse and begs for some positive events in his life, including a decent girlfriend. Herman decides to create Stella (Line Van Wambeke), but soon Edgar realizes that Stella will only complicate his life more. Meanwhile Edgar is pestered by his pushy girlfriend Victoria (Ariane Schluter), who constantly tries to be with him. Driven to insanity by Herman and his obnoxious girlfriend Suzie (Thekla Reuten), Edgar constantly tries to interfere with his story. Herman decides to make the story more extreme and violent and finally ends the story out of desperation with ---" Aha, no, not spoiling the ending. But well recommended - if you like the quirks of the likes of Quentin Dupieux, you'll enjoy this. I wouldn't order an entrecote in his restaurant, though, seeing what happened to the one that gets served up here :)
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Steve McQueen, Alex Wheatle, 2020

Chapter four of McQueen's Small Axe tells the story of Alex Wheatle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Wheatle, and I'm assuming the details are exact as Wheatle himself is credited as consultant. Good job there are subtitles, but even so I had to look up several words in the online Caribbean dictionary, and even then couldn't find any definition of "raatid" - the sole withering IMDb user review (it's early days) was obviously penned by someone who had problems with the lingo, but it's a pretty basic story when all's said and done: young Alphonso discovers his real identity (and accent) when he moves to Brixton and starts consuming the local product - the holy herb and the holy music - but finally discovers his true vocation when banged up in prison with a righteous Rasta after the Brixton riots. I was (am?) pretty sure the voiceover the disturbing photomontage of the New Cross house fire that sparked the protests was read by Linton Kwesi Johnson, but I haven't seen any reference to prove that. It's not bad, but the basic message - "if you don't know your past you won't know your future" - isn't exactly a divine revelation.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Jon Jost, Sure Fire, 1990

Once more featuring Tom Blair, whose career apart from a small role in an obscure 60s TV series and a very brief appearance in (De Palma's) The Fury consisted of three Jost features, of which this is the second. Not as emotionally harrowing as its predecessor Last Chants for a Slow Dance (though not far off..), and not as cinematographically awesome as The Bed You Sleep In that followed it, Sure Fire is another Carveresque journey into the mind of decaying rural America, though as decay goes Utah's a mighty nice-looking place. Even so, some of the monologues (of which there are a tad too many) came across as rather unnatural, and the ending is also rather easy to guess, unfortunately. Let's just say again that if you see a gun in a film, you know it's going to be fired, and leave it at that..
Last edited by Dan Warburton on Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Claude Chabrol, Le cheval d'orgueil, 1980

Chabrol said his biggest regret regarding his adaptation of Pierre-Jakel Hélias's novel depicting rural life in Finisterre in the years just prior to World War One was that he didn't shoot the film entirely in Breton (!) - which would no doubt have made it an even more spectacular box office flop than it already was. Actually, I found much to enjoy, though you really do need to be familiar with Breton history and culture (I had to look up the references to Reds and Whites myself). File alongside Nina Companeez's Les dames de la côte (1979) and Maurice Pialat's La maison des bois (1971), two TV mini-series dealing with the same period. Needless to say, it's the least Chabrolesque film of the director's huge oeuvre, but it's been unfairly overlooked and could benefit from a classy restoration.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Steve McQueen, Education, 2020

The Small Axe series comes to its end with in a "fittingly intimate and confessional way" (remembering McQueen's tales of his own childhood, see above) with the tale of young Kingsley, sent off to a "school" for the "educationally subnormal" - actually, you can remove the quotation marks there, because some of the kids he meets there really are - until some well-intentioned members of the West Indian community blow the whistle on the dump and convince his mother to take action. Lovely ironic touch: they decide to write a letter of complaint to the then Secretary of State for Education, one Margaret Thatcher. Ha. Set in the early 70s, then, but how much has changed? https://melanmag.com/2020/12/11/steve-m ... -not-true/ My take on this cycle of films after a first viewing: very fine work, but I still wonder if the overwhelmingly glowing reviews it's received aren't more connected to events in the world beyond in 2020.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com
REISSUED! Eric La Casa / Jean-Luc Guionnet / Dan Warburton METRO PRE SAINT GERVAIS
https://swarming.bandcamp.com/album/met ... nt-gervais

Dan Warburton
Posts: 7407
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 12:42 am

Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Jon Jost, Parable, 2008

Great admirer that I am of Jost's work, I think should have watched the first two parts of his Iraq War trilogy before tackling this (so I will, at some stage, and report back), as this ultra-lo-budget affair didn't really do much for me. The one IMDb user plot summary runs as follows (don't read if you're afraid of spoilers): "After being thrown out of his house, a cowboy hits the road in a senseless wave of robbery, murder and rape. On a bucolic farm a seemingly mentally disabled woman is kept on a rope by a mute farmer. Soon, the cowboy shows up. Parable is a radical reflection on the George W. Bush years, where the populace has become zombie-like." Not so sure that farmer is mute, as there's quite a bit of mumbled talk (mumblecore, ha) - frustratingly so, as I had to rewind a few times to try and make out what was being said, with little success. Didn't care for the fisheye-skewed video images much either (shades of Sokurov's Mother and Son - deliberate homage? Who knows..). So maybe I should withhold judgment until I've checked out the other two.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com
REISSUED! Eric La Casa / Jean-Luc Guionnet / Dan Warburton METRO PRE SAINT GERVAIS
https://swarming.bandcamp.com/album/met ... nt-gervais

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