Recently Watched Films 2020

Not the stuff on your shower tiles.

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Theo Angelopoulos, Voyage to Cythera, 1984

It's Angelopoulos, so don't expect any high-speed car chases, gangsta rap or buxom bimbos bouncing in and out of sunny swimming pools. Don't expect sunshine either - Angelopoulos has a knack for making Greece (a place I invariably associate with impossibly blue skies, gleaming white churches and scorching heat) look like the Scottish highlands on a rainy November afternoon. Actually, this is one of his shorter films (only 137 minutes), and for some reason not one that fans of the director's work tend to put high on their Theo Top Ten list, though it explores his familiar themes: exile, melancholy, loss.. The cinematography is always quietly impressive, and there are many memorable shots, but there's very little to smile at: the depressive chainsmoking daughter and her gloomy brother can't do much to help their taciturn father, who ends up drifting out to sea. I'm inclined to agree with Richard Bernstein's New York Times review: "when the end comes, the viewer is left [...] with the vague unsettled feeling that, aside from gaining the knowledge that exile is emptiness, two and a half hours in the presence of much onscreen joylessness has produced little satisfaction." But see what you think..
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Derek Jarman, Blue, 1993

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_(1993_film) Regrets, I've had a few.. one being that I never went to see this film in a cinema, on a huge screen (obviously with no subtitles). Even the snazziest home cinema you can buy couldn't cut it. Because, remembering what Howard Skempton said about La Monte Young, there is in fact so much to see.. Little by little the eye adjusts, and its every movement causes little tiny Rothkos to appear and disappear. That plus the inevitable wonderful odd imperfections of the film stock. And Jarman's texts, wonderfully delivered by his friends and backed by superb music, are magnificent.

Kiss me
On the lips
On the eyes
Our name will be forgotten
In time
No one will remember our work
Our life will pass like the traces of a cloud
And be scattered like
Mist that is chased by the
Rays of the sun
For our time is the passing of a shadow
And our lives will run like
Sparks through the stubble.
I place a delphinium, Blue, upon your grave
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Jon Jost, The Bed You Sleep In, 1993

IMDb: "Times are hard for Northwestern lumber-mill operators like Ray and his wife Jean. Ray and Jean's lives are thrown into chaos when their daughter writes home from college, saying she has..." - and that's about as far as I'm going, without spoiling what I reckon could be one of the best American films of the past fifty years, prone to exaggeration and hyperbole though you know I am. This is the voice of an Edward Hopper painting, or the film Raymond Carver would have made if he'd made films. It's set in Carver country, too, the Pacific Northwest. To quote James Carville out of context, "it's the economy, stupid." Jost's movies are all about economy: literally so because they're invariably made on a shoestring budget, which certainly concentrates the filmmaker's mind (not one redundant shot here), but also we're talking economy of words, gestures. The timing and framing of every shot is just impeccable - Lodge Kerrigan, Kelly Reichardt and Ted Fendt are the successors, Cassavetes, Straub / Huillet and Godard the precursors. Can't praise it highly enough.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image
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Jon Jost, The Bed You Sleep In, 1993

IMDb: "Times are hard for Northwestern lumber-mill operators like Ray and his wife Jean. Ray and Jean's lives are thrown into chaos when their daughter writes home from college, saying she has..." - and that's about as far as I'm going, without spoiling what I reckon could be one of the best American films of the past fifty years, prone to exaggeration and hyperbole though you know I am. This is the voice of an Edward Hopper painting, or the film Raymond Carver would have made if he'd made films. It's set in Carver country, too, the Pacific Northwest. To quote James Carville out of context, "it's the economy, stupid." Jost's movies are all about economy: literally so because they're invariably made on a shoestring budget, which certainly concentrates the filmmaker's mind (not one redundant shot here), but also we're talking economy of words, gestures. The timing and framing of every shot is just impeccable - Lodge Kerrigan, Kelly Reichardt and Ted Fendt are the successors, Cassavetes, Straub / Huillet and Godard the precursors. Can't praise it highly enough.
It is gorgeous, isn't it? I penned something here and spoiled a bit more than you, I still think I stand by every word. Ellen McLaughlin is awesome.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by Dan Warburton »

You're right, I'd forgotten your (splendid) write-up. What a great film! So's this - did you review this too?

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Alain Cavalier, Thérèse, 1986

Time Out: "Thérèse Martin achieved sainthood by doing very little. Along with her three sisters, she entered the Carmel convent in Lisieux at the end of the 19th century, and after contending with the appalling privations of the order, the death of her father, and a bout of tuberculosis for which she was allowed no medical attention, she died in her early twenties. Goodness which is not active does not sound like the most promising of cinematic subjects, but in the scrupulous hands of Alain Cavalier, one is virtually forced to reassess just what is meant by cinematic. Filmed against the barest of grey walls, convent life is mapped out in a series of tableaux in which drama resides in the minute shifts of the human face and the odd telling gesture. Catherine Mouchet as Thérèse achieves that most difficult task of embodying goodness without being dull; her face glows with the innocent beauty of a medieval icon. Bresson is always a dangerous name to invoke for comparison; but while Thérèse lacks the master's taste for complexity and the paradoxes of the Catholic faith, the film's purity and simplicity nevertheless qualify it as another great enquiry into the operation of divine grace in our daily lives." Always dangerous to make comparisons with Bresson, and I'm not sure I agree with that bit about "complexity", at least not in Bresson's films themselves, but.. I like to think he would have admired Cavalier's exquisite minimalism. Extraordinary filming, great performances.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Jean Choux, Un chien qui rapporte, 1932

IMDb user: "Josyane Plaisir, a rather idle singer, who is waiting for the man of her heart,handsome and rich if possible, accepts the offer of a dog handler. The clever man has worked out a scheme to snare rich men. The trick is simple: Pantoufle, the little dog he lets for 5,000 francs a week, will run off, climb into a luxurious car with only one man inside and 'retrieve' him to Josyane, since her address is stuck to the dog's collar. René, the first man who rings her door-bell, is single (or nearly so!), good-looking but ... broke." It's a rather rough and ready adaptation of a stage play, but Jean Choux really had fun with his camera (see the shot above) and obviously had fun showing off Arletty (braless throughout and fleetingly topless in one scene). Fun stuff, but French only for the time being - and even I had difficulty catching all the dialogue
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Jean-François Richet, Ma 6-T va crack-er, 1997

Richet grew up in the cités (projects) of Meaux, 40 miles east of Paris, where he filmed this ragged tale of urban deprivation and gang warfare, supposedly a call to arms to his homeboys (the girls have more sense, or jobs to go to, at least) to take to the streets and go for all out revolution - the film closes with a caption citing Article 35 of the 1793 Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen: "Quand le gouvernement viole les droits du peuple, l'insurrection est pour le peuple, et pour chaque portion du peuple, le plus sacré des droits et le plus indispensable des devoirs". Way to go, Saint-Just! The violence is certainly impressive: the local lads recruited for the adventure evidently had a lot of fun trashing cars, phone boxes and each other.. but, as we say over here, à quoi bon? Policemen and women, presumably the people the director has in mind when he thinks of a "government that violates the rights of the people", are rather thin on the ground in this film - we see a couple of muscular arrests, a squad of CRS riot police called to the eventual, inevitable and stupid riot, and two traffic cops at the end of the film who shoot a kid on a motorbike who doesn't stop at a roadblock. Yup, bad move - but as justification for starting The Revolution not quite on the same level as 1789.. There's precious little discussion of real issues; none of these characters seems to read (maybe they can't), parents and older people in general are invisible in Richet's world, and starting and ending the whole affair with a tacky faux video with Virginie Ledoyen playing chicks with guns only highlights the intellectual paucity of the whole affair. The soundtrack still kicks butt, if French gangsta is your bag, but if you want a film on life in the cités, watch Ladj Ly's recent excellent Les Misérables instead.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Roman Polanski, J'accuse, 2019

Seems to be pretty well researched regarding the facts, though I can't pretend to be an expert on the affaire Dreyfus myself, and it's well cast in terms of actors resembling the historical figures they're playing, with impressive sets designed by Jean Rabasse and magnificent costumes, but there's a strange grey, smoky sheen (a filter?) over everything, and the streets of Paris (many of which I recognise, nicely retouched with CGI) look like something out of Assassin's Creed, as my son observed. It's certainly extremely competent as films go, and Dujardin and Garrel head a cast of fine actors (the exception being the eternally disappointing Emanuelle Seigner - aka Mrs Polanski - who seems to come as part of the package every time.. a bit like Véra Clouzot).. And yet.. did it really deserve all the prizes? Or were they awarded as some kind of Lifetime Achievement thing for the director? Polanski seemed to make a big deal of the idea that there are some parallels to be drawn between himself and Dreyfus, which I find somewhat questionable, but I don't think that's of great importance. What the film doesn't show, and presumably didn't set out to show, was the enormous fracture in French society and culture that resulted from the affaire. For that, maybe, a documentary would be preferable. Anyway, ever so pleased that it popped up on Karagarga because a) I didn't have to pay to see it b) it's not showing in cinemas anymore c) all cinemas are shut anyway :o
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Alain Jessua, Paradis pour tous, 1982

"Doctor Valois has invented the 'flashage', a cure for depressed people. After having tested it on monkeys, he tries with a first human patient, Alain Durieux. This is a great success, everybody's happy except maybe Alain's wife, Jeanne, who's worrying about the changes in Alain's personality. Other patients use the treatment with similar successes, and Valois's happy about it. But the monkeys are changing: non-cured ones are made mad by the overstability and stereotyped behaviour of the cured ones. So are the humans. When Valois realizes he can't stop the process, he decides to 'flash' himself." I do hope a subbed version pops up soon, as this is another cracking good film from Jessua - and a stellar performance (the last before he blew his brains out) from Patrick Dewaere. Jessua's vision of smiling happy people is scary as hell, but also riotously funny, especially if you're old enough to remember the tacky TV commercials of the time.
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walto
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Derek Jarman, Blue, 1993

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_(1993_film) Regrets, I've had a few.. one being that I never went to see this film in a cinema, on a huge screen (obviously with no subtitles). Even the snazziest home cinema you can buy couldn't cut it. Because, remembering what Howard Skempton said about La Monte Young, there is in fact so much to see.. Little by little the eye adjusts, and its every movement causes little tiny Rothkos to appear and disappear. That plus the inevitable wonderful odd imperfections of the film stock. And Jarman's texts, wonderfully delivered by his friends and backed by superb music, are magnificent.

Kiss me
On the lips
On the eyes
Our name will be forgotten
In time
No one will remember our work
Our life will pass like the traces of a cloud
And be scattered like
Mist that is chased by the
Rays of the sun
For our time is the passing of a shadow
And our lives will run like
Sparks through the stubble.
I place a delphinium, Blue, upon your grave
Beautiful review. Thanks, Dan.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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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.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Jean-Pierre Mocky, La cité de l'indicible peur aka La grande frousse, 1964

With a title like that - "the city of unspeakable fear" - you might be expecting a horror film, but this Mocky. There is a monster, but.. sacré Mocky, ever determined to rip the piss out of all and sundry, with a typically picaresque cast of characters holed up in a small town in la France profonde: in addition to Bourvil's well-meaning but bumbling detective in search of an escaped forger ("I'm looking for a heavy drinker, sensitive to the cold who can't stand cassoulet!"), there's the chainsmoking oily Mayor (played by Raymond Rouleau, whose Sorcières de Salem I hated a while back but he's fine in this role), an alcoholic doctor ("all deaths are natural..!"), a sociopathic butcher, a paranoid town hall clerk, a pharmacist with something to hide, and so on. Great fun, and wonderfully filmed (Schüfftan..). Obviously too near the bone to become a box office smash like the Gérard Ourys of the time, but definitely one of the Sixties' best French comedies.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Harold Ramis, Groundhog Day, 1993

Thanks for the kind words about the Jarman review, Walt - though those beautiful words are Derek's, not mine :) Meanwhile, as I know how much you love Bill Murray, thought you'd appreciate this haha. Goes without saying that this is the film to watch these days, where every day is Sunday, or what Sundays used to be way back when.. Or maybe you folks aren't under the same lockdown as we are here in la belle France (it's only a matter of time, only a matter of time..). Anyway, for all its faults I love this movie, even if I have seen it literally dozens of times - I used to use it with my students for English teaching purposes: a very good pedagogical device - and it has to be Murray's finest hour. Of course, there are bits that don't work at all (the Clint Eastwood spoof is daft, as is the bank robbery), and Andie MacDowall is just too nice to be true, and they didn't even shoot it in Punxsatawney (just as well, fucking awful place, went there once).. but the Ray Charles song is gorgeous.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Albert Brooks
@AlbertBrooks
·
Mar 21
Saturday night! My wife and I dressed up and went into another room.

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Hugo Santiago, Le ciel du centaure, 2014

Seeing that three heavyweight philosophers have written a book on this film and its possible meanings and interpretations https://www.editions-lignes.com/SUR-LE- ... TIAGO.html you might feel a little daunted, but Santiago's swansong is eminently watchable, a Borges-like mystery tale of a man who has to deliver a mysterious package to a friend of his father's in Buenos Aires (and cinematically, the film's a real love letter to the Argentine capital) only to find a) the guy has disappeared b) the man and the package are snatched by gangsters and c) he has to procure and deliver an elusive object to them before being allowed to return to his ship and leave the country. Elegantly filmed in crisp black and white with certain details colorised, it's a treat to watch, even if I can't figure out why some things are in colour and others aren't (same observation I made on Heimat a while back, as I recall). Maybe Alain Badiou has the answer to that one.. haven't read the abovementioned book, though. One hint: if you liked Paul Auster's New York Trilogy you'll enjoy the ending.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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BABY DRIVER – 2017

A sound track this good can usually keep me happy regardless of what's on the screen, and this one does so through the first hour. Really enjoyed the performance of Ansel Elgort in the title role, and look forward to seeing his Tony in Speilberg's remake of West Side Story. Lily James as his love interest was also engaging. But the gang, including Kevin Spacey, were cliched and cartoony and never clicked for me. The plot seemed to give out about 45 minutes short of the finish line, and limped its way to the ending. Still, some genuinely exciting car chase scenes, nice chemistry between the Elgort and James, and a killer soundtrack – an decent evening's entertainment.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP – 2010

An engrossing film that left a bad taste in my mouth. It opens with an exciting and fascinating look at the emerging street art culture, obsessively filmed by a wealthy French/ American cousin of one of the early street artists, Invader (from Space Invaders). He starts to film the leading lights of the emerging folk art, eventually filming the mysterious and famous Banksy. At some point he puts down the camera and becomes a street artist himself, Mr. Brainwash, puts on a lavish and well-publicized show, and makes a million dollars selling trash. That's what left the bad taste, the obvious disconnect between art-as-art and the art world's market, hype, distortions, injustices . . . Not that I'm suddently disillusioned, but the film presents such a crass example of the triumph of hype over authenticity that it forces the viewer to think about it.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Carlos Saura, Los Golfos ("The Delinquents"), 1959

IMDb: "Julián, Ramón, Juan, el Chato, Paco and Manolo are a bunch of scoundrels and members of the Spanish youth, who until now have not paid attention more than in the police stations. Boys of low social class, miserable and unknown. They are a group of friends who survive as they can in the suburbs of Madrid. Juan wants to be a bullfighter, and his friends make small robberies to pay for his debut." Nice, tight little neorealist-inspired debut feature from Saura, which actually made it as far as the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Steve Minkin wrote:Image

BABY DRIVER – 2017

A sound track this good can usually keep me happy regardless of what's on the screen, and this one does so through the first hour. Really enjoyed the performance of Ansel Elgort in the title role, and look forward to seeing his Tony in Speilberg's remake of West Side Story. Lily James as his love interest was also engaging. But the gang, including Kevin Spacey, were cliched and cartoony and never clicked for me. The plot seemed to give out about 45 minutes short of the finish line, and limped its way to the ending. Still, some genuinely exciting car chase scenes, nice chemistry between the Elgort and James, and a killer soundtrack – an decent evening's entertainment.
Good idea, think we'll watch this one again, it was fun as I recall - nice to see you're chipping in to the thread more, Steve! Enjoy the lockdown :D
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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John Huston, The List of Adrian Messenger, 1963

What starts out as a silly story ends up as a sillier Boulting Bros-like bump-off-the-relatives-and-claim-the-inheritance tale, competently executed and entertaining enough but hardly likely to leave you wanting to come back for a return visit. The gimmick was to feature cameos from, wait for it, Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra and Tony Curtis, in addition to Kirk Douglas (the only one of those five who actually appears for more than half a minute), all heavily made-up (see if you can guess who's who.. we couldn't). But the real star of the pic is George C. Scott, whose moustachioed English upper class General actually comes over quite well. Though goodness knows why Huston didn't want to cast a real British character actor. Anyway, a bit of fun - which is after all what we need at the moment!
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