Satyajit Ray, Pather Panchali, 1955
Quoting Mr Rosenbaum: "In 1955, the year Satyajit Ray's beautiful first feature won the Grand Prix at Cannes, no less a humanist than Francois Truffaut walked out of a screening, declaring, 'I don't want to see a film about Indian peasants.'" Damn, sometimes I'd like to dig Truffaut up just to throw stones at him.
Greg Olliver & Wes Orshoski, Lemmy, 2010
Thoroughly enjoyable portrait of the late Mr Kilmister. I've never really been a fan of the music (though I love "The Ace of Spades" guest spot in the Young Ones' "Bambi" episode), but I can see why it and the man who made it were so popular. More detail here http://thequietus.com/articles/05613-le ... vie-review and if you haven't seen his hilarious milk commercial, here 'tis http://consequenceofsound.net/2016/01/m ... ial-lemmy/
Bertrand Tavernier, 'Round Midnight, 1986
Once more, JR sums up exactly what I feel about this one http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1987/0 ... -in-paris/ - but having had the privilege of being able to spend some time with expat American jazz musicians who are/were, shall we say, past their prime somewhat , I can vouch for the painful accuracy of some of the dialogue. I was, I hope, never such a fawning admirer as Cluzet is here, though - but as Rosenbaum's review makes clear, Tavernier has his reasons for that portrayal too. Meanwhile, hats off yet again to Herbie - and bravo to everyone for allowing these great musicians to record in real time, and so well too. The OST stands the test of time well - shame the Bessie Smith blues isn't on it though, but on the other hand it's probably just as well Chet Baker didn't appear in the film - his "Fair Weather" is heartbreaking enough.
Karel Kachyna, Ucho ("The Ear"), 1970
Don't be fooled by the 1990 date on IMDb - this film was held off the market for 20 years, and when you see it you'll understand why - I know of no other movie that better expresses the paranoia of the totalitarian state, as Anna and Ludvik return from a Party soirée seriously inebriated (they carry on drinking until dawn and beyond, though - the Eastern European capacity to ingest huge doses of spirits and remain relatively coherent is always a thing of wonder, in real life as well as in cinema) to find their house bugged even in places they hadn't previously suspected. The sense of fear of the dawn raid, and of what the faceless Party heavies lurking in the garden might do, is palpable. It's an outstanding and scary document - and if you think this kind of thing went down with the Berlin Wall, think again. Terrific.
Paolo Sorrentino, Il divo, 2008
Toni Servillo's resemblance to the real Giulio Andreotti is striking, right down to those funky curled-up ears, but I suspect a bit of background reading on the political events this film refers to wouldn't go amiss - I'm sure Italians get a lot more out of it without having to worry about the sequence of events (the flashbacks and flashforwards aren't always easy to connect on a first viewing). Interview with the director here http://filmmakermagazine.com/4710-paolo ... p96T_Lpz5o - let's hope he gets to make a Bond film eventually
Bob Rafelson, Black Widow, 1987
I agree with Roger on this one - http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/black-widow-1987 - it's a shame that Rafelson didn't follow up on the erotic attraction between the two lead actresses, Debra Winger and Theresa Russell. A steamy lesbian affair (think Donald Cammell) would have provided a bit of much needed spice to a tale which, as it stands, slows down awfully halfway through and never picks up again. We never learn why Russell ttok to bumping off her husbands, and as for the men themselves, Dennis Hopper has bugger all to do (not even a single "fuck" - how can you hire Dennis and not have him swear?) and Sami Frey is so bland and pale it's hard to imagine him ever getting a hardon, let alone inspiring any woman to want to find out if he has one. As it is, it feels more like a TV movie (that's not a compliment this time). Acting fine, as far as it goes, filming OK, direction uninspired (hard to imagine that Rafelson was once the talk of the town), pacing lousy. Won't be watching again, sorry.
Pasquale Festa Campanile, Autostop Rosso Sangue, 1977
You can't see his face in that shot above, but that's David Hess of Last House On The Left fame, and he's just as horrible here as he was there. Imagine Ida Lupino's Hitch-hiker crossed with The Getaway, Twennynine Palms with that truck from Duel thrown in for good measure, and that might give you an idea of what to expect. No heroes here, and a bitterly cynical ending, with Franco Nero the only survivor. Ostensibly set near the Mexican border, where the banditos are heading with $2m in cash, but clearly filmed in the Abruzzi (ah, if they had waterfalls like in Southern Arizona!) with a slightly hippy Morricone soundtrack (but the hippies themselves in this movie are as fucking twisted as everyone else), it's well worth a watch if you like nasty Italian action movies - but go for the full-length version, not the 80-minute European cut.
Raoul Ruiz, Comédie de l'innocence, 2000
That title doesn't exactly inspire (I think they'd have been better off sticking with 'The Boy With Two Mothers', the title of the Massimo Bontempelli novel it's based on), but if you like a good headscratcher, be it Rashomon or Mulholland Dr., you need to see this. Of course, if you want blood and guts stick with Lynch (I'm ready to bet Ruiz knows his Lost Highway.. that video camera..) - to describe it as a thriller or even a horror movie is really missing the point (not that it isn't at times tense, even scary), like describing his Klimt as a biopic (see posts passim). You can, if you like, invent a reasonably coherent explanation of the story - the boy meets up with Isabella when left to his own devices in the park while his babysitter is off having a fling, "invents" her as his other mother, etc. - but, as with Mulholland Dr., the more you try to explain things rationally the more confusing it gets. It just doesn't behave the way it should - so many questions are left hanging in the air: what exactly is the relationship between Ariane and her brother? How come he was there when the boy was born? Could he in fact be the father (there is a history of incest in the family, we're told)? Who on earth is Laurence, Isabella's creepy neighbour (awesome as ever, Edith Scob)? Look closely too at the paintings on the wall.. Anyway, truly stellar performances from Isabelle Huppert (once more, the twitch of a lip speaks volumes..), Jeanne Balibar (the smile that kills..) and Charles Berling, who's as creepy here as he was in Demonlover. Seriously recommended.
SUNSHINE SUPERMAN (2014) -- Strange documentary about the original people and seminal events of the extreme sport of BASE jumping. BASE is an acronym for Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth, and you have to jump off one of each to get accredited. The founding father was a guy named Carl Boenish, who started as a documentary photographer of sky divers, and then looked for more challenges. He led the first jumps off Half Dome, and then skyscrapers, radio towers, etc. For somebody with more than a touch of acrophobia, like me, it's a thrill a minute.
It's a strikingly inarticulate film, though. Nobody interviewed is able to put into words the daring, the beauty, the insanity, the heightened sense of mortality or any of the other powerful facets of this activity. Carl himself is unfailingly enthusiastic about everything, but communicates little but enthusiasm. But the activity is involving enough that it didn't need a great spokesman to take off, and that's why the film works -- what's great about it is non-verbal.
Visually beautiful, heart-stopping, and an interesting glimpse into the origins of one of the world's oddest (and yet strangely familiar) sports.
"Time is the school in which we learn,/ Time is the fire in which we burn."
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color, 2013
And as it turns out, the article I found the photo in is worth reading http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-tur ... eau-poison - one of the (admittedly) few things that seems clear on watching this is that Walden is supposed to be a clue as to what's going on. As for the moment-to-moment details of the editing, I wonder how much of that was "planned" and how much "left to chance". (Sorry for the quotation marks, but in a way I feel the entire movie should be in quotation marks) Whatever, it's an intriguing and often haunting mindfuck - not in the same way that Primer was, though: I reckon even Carruth himself couldn't figure out what was going on in the last half-hour of that movie - who needs to explain anything? We readily accept the irrational, the illogical, the surreal and the inexplicable in other artforms (not to mention in the dreams we have every night) - why should cinema be any different?
Martin Ritt, The Long Hot Summer, 1958
Worth a look, perhaps, to appreciate the chemistry between Newman and Welles - and Newman and soon-to-be Mrs Newman Joanne Woodward - but as stories go, it's a bit of a wank (three Faulkner short stories cobbled together), the accents are all over the place (Orson is nearly incomprehensible at times) and the climax as such well.. it doesn't come.
Satyajit Ray, Aparajito, 1956
I shall endeavour to refrain from showering the thread with superlatives until we've seen the final instalment of the Apu trilogy
Grant Gee, Joy Division, 2007
I think I've read just about every book and article that's ever appeared on Joy Division, and seen just about every film - documentary or otherwise - that's appeared on them and Factory Records, from Shadowplayers to Control to 24 Hour Party People, but I think this one could be my favourite. I like Gee's sense of pacing very much - his Sebald documentary (see above) was exemplary - and, needless to say, much of the live footage of Curtis in action is absolutely spellbinding, even if we've seen it before.
BTW, I watched De Palma's Carrie (1976) with my younger (16) daughter yesterday and I have to say, that movie still rocks. With so many great scenes in it, It's hard to believe it's as short as it is--not much over an hour and a half. Spacek and Irving are so beautiful and all the high school kids and teachers quite realistic--except maybe for the queen of the mean girls. I think it captures contemporary adolescence better than many more recent films. A little too much Christ depiction in Piper Laurie's demise, I think, but--not having read the King book--maybe it was laid on too thick there too. And other than that, I love both her character and her portrayal. And, of course the Donaggio soundtrack is perfect.
Anyhow, the film is still scary, well acted and beautifully put together. Both my wife (who's seen it at least once before) and my daughter) screamed and nearly jumped out of their seats during the brilliant coda.
Larry Cohen, Original Gangstas, 1996
L to R that's Jim Brown, Ron O'Neal, Richard Roundtree, Pam Grier and Fred Williamson, a veritable Blaxploitation Hall Of Fame if ever there was one. And they're back together to clean up the ghetto in Gary, Indiana, taking on the young drive-by punks at their own game. So goes the basic plot - and taken at face value there's much to enjoy in what seems to be a well-made B-movie (or not, hence some of the typically stoopid user reviews over at IMDb). BUT I think there's much more here than meets the eye: the more you think about what's going on, the more morally problematic - not to mention truly cynical - it all becomes: our ageing heroes have no problem buying serious weapons from the Latinos, and using them themselves in their own apocalyptic drive-by designed to pit the rival gangs against each other. They also allow whole streets of "good people" to be blown to smithereens (nice story: Fred Williamson actually came from Gary, and got permission to film real demolition explosions in the bleak, desperate town) along the way. At the end of the movie, the leader of the gang they shot up so spectacularly (and he knew they did it) seems to forget the incident, and is ready to accept their continued presence. A lovely throwaway line: "There goes the neighborhood.." There are many smart lines in Aubrey Rattan's screenplay (I wonder if Cohen himself didn't have a hand in it too), referencing movies directly ("I'll be back..") and indirectly (love Pam Grier's "woman's intution" as she puts the boot in, and the revelation that Jim Brown actually killed a fellow boxer in the ring way back when is a clear homage to Duke Wayne in The Quiet Man). Grier doesn't get much to do, unfortunately, but I'll bet QT had this movie in mind when he cast her (and Robert Forster) in Jackie Brown a few years later. There's also a clear Mars Attacks connection - Grier and Brown play out the same failed marriage scenario, and Paul Winfield (General Casey in the Burton) plays the local pastor. That's another deeply distressing role, as he has no scruples at all about selling out our heroes to the murderous Rebs gang (which, in another nice twist, we learn was founded by Williamson and Brown when they were growing up in the same 'hood!). And what about the white folks? Well, the Mayor (Charles Napier - I'm tellin' ya, it's a great cast!) actually skips town altogether and buggers off to a convention down south. And of course the cops "always arrive too late"..
Watch out for cameos from The Geto Boys' Scarface and Bushwick Bill, and The Chi-Lites.. needless to say, a cool soundtrack. Well worth your checking out, folks
Terry Gilliam, Time Bandits, 1981
As is often the case with me, the site I swiped the pics from is also worth a read http://io9.gizmodo.com/its-a-miracle-th ... 1332560707 - I hadn't seen this for ages and loved it, not only the special effects (great for 1981, but still impressive today - don't scoff, CGI freaks) but the acting, from John Cleese's jolly good Robin Hood to Sean Connery's Agamemnon and David Warner's diabolical Evil One. But it was the late great David Rappaport who deserved the loudest round of applause
Jean-Pierre Mocky, L'albatros, 1971
The maverick director cast himself as the escaped criminal in this entertaining mixture of policier and typically Mockyesque cynical political skullduggery - it all gets rather implausible towards the end, but it's a good story and would be a good subject for a remake one day. And I hope the day when border controls return between France and Germany never comes..
Manoel de Oliveira, Je rentre à la maison, 2001
The mighty Michel Piccoli as an elderly but highly esteemed actor who, having lost his wife and daughter in a car crash, misguidedly accepts to play Buck Mulligan in a film of Joyce's Ulysses (directed by John Malkovich). We also see him onstage in Ionesco's Le roi se meurt and Shakespeare's Tempest, what a treat. Here's Roger: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/im-going-home-2002
Jean Grémillon, Gueule d'amour, 1937
If ever any further proof were needed of Jean Gabin's ability to inhabit whatever role he plays, go no further than this tale of the womanizing legionnaire who falls under the spell of what might be described a femme fatale (though this is not a noir by any means), with, ultimately, catastrophic consequences. Gabin's physical transformation from the cockily irrestible soldierboy to world-weary bistrotier is extraordinary, almost as extraordinary as the homosexual implications of the ending, which I won't spoil for you. I read somewhere that Grémillon was as good as Renoir, and I'm starting to believe that.
Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, Á annan veg ("Either Way", 2011
A simple but effective comedy (for the most part) about two blokes working for the Icelandic Roads Department back in 1980 painting yellow lines along the deserted highways of Patreksfjörður, who have only themselves for company. The younger of the two, Alfred, is the brother of the other guy's girlfriend, which leads to intriguing and amusing complications halfway through. And there's the mysterious lorry driver who appears three times, opening Coke bottles with his teeth and spiking the drink with homemade Brennevin.. does he (and his mysterious taciturn female companion) actually exist?