Michael Winterbottom, The Trip (Seasons 1-3), 2010-2017
Yeah, OK, this should be in I Hate TV but wtf, a cinema version already exists. Reviews range from mad rave to tired yawn, and I can see why. Fans of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (I consider myself one) will love their impersonations, though one does get a bit tired of them trying to outdo each other as Michael Caine, Roger Moore and Mick Jagger after a while, and the landscapes they drive through on their tour of restaurants (ha, what a good idea - can I volunteer for Season 4? I'll carry the Steadicam if it gets me a free dinner in one of these places) are stunning - even more so now that I know we won't be able to visit Cumbria, Italy and Spain for a loooooooooong time.. But the sideplot, grouchy Coogan vs upbeat Brydon, both playing fictionalised versions of themselves going through some sort of dull midlife crisis (complete with occasional forays into marital infidelity) and the distinctly melancholy end to each episode (is that Michael Nyman piano music?) is rather curious. Still, worth it for the Richard Strauss "Im Abendrot" in Season Two and Coogan's hilarious De Niro impersonation in Season Three. Which ends way out in the Moroccan desert, go figure - no, wait for Season 4, due out shortly.
Corpus Christi (Boże Ciało), Jan Komasa, 2020
I don't have anything particularly enlightening or original to say about it. References loom large, Bresson and one of his self-proclaimed heir who is Bruno Dumont for instance as Armond White also points out in his own review, in this story of a young criminal with an inclination for religion who manages to fool an entire village into thinking he is a priest. Efficient though partly purposefully lacklustre direction by jan Komosa, good script that cunningly suspendes disbelief by 27-year-old Mateusz Pacewicz, who, I imagine, has become one of the next-big-things of Polish cinema. Good performance by the main lead, as ambiguous as they come with his androgynous features, almost bordering on cliché in the way he's supposed to suggest the necessary hybrid between angel and beast. It's one of those good, competent films to which serious, middle-brow audiences favorably respond around the world. And it's only normal.
Jon Jost, 6 Easy Pieces, 2000
http://www.jonjost.altervista.org/work/6easy2.html Rather hard to access - the rolling English subtitles for the Portuguese spoken dialogue are somewhat offputting - but let's just say it were signed David Lynch I imagine hundreds of punters would be falling over themselves to praise it to the hilt. Not an easy watch, though.
Jon Jost, All the Vermeers in New York, 1990
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_V ... n_New_York : "Mark, a Wall Street financial broker, falls in love with a French actress at first sight, due to her resembling a Vermeer painting, and then proceeds to follow her from room to room in a museum. The broker goes up to the actress, Anna, and introduces himself which spawns a romantic relationship. Anna lives with two roommates — a wealthy woman and a female opera singer [..]The film ends with Anna going into a Vermeer painting." Rohmer fans might recognise Emmanuelle Chaulet, and Godard fans will definitely recognise elements of the cinematography. Although arthouse intriguing, I prefer Jost when he's in the blighted Pacific Northwest rather than in Wall Street - but it's worth a watch if you're a Jost fan. Here's JR: https://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2018/ ... ew-york-2/
TAKEN (2008) – Liam Neeson.
Formulaic action flick with Neeson as a retired black ops agent rescuing his daughter from Albanian sex trafficers. Unremarkable domestic drama for the first 25 minutes, then Neeson becomes a combination Bond/ Rambo/ Thor action figure. OK, involving enough for what it is and Neeson is good enough to make it semi-believable. But I'll skip the sequels.
Jon Jost, Slow Moves, 1983
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/122507 https://www.jstor.org/stable/1212361?seq=1 - don't know how the links are. Time Out sez: "Jost has supplied his audience with plenty of reasons for avoiding this film. He freely admits that its characters make a pair of Mike Leigh marrieds look like Fun with Dick and Jane, and that the usual narrative trappings - backgrounds, personalities, events, causality - are obscured, that the film parts with its secrets only grudgingly. But with that established, it becomes a fascinating, oddly gripping, and often visually stunning film. It's not unlike a Peter Greenaway mystery translated to the dry, dusty heartland of Malick's Badlands, although here the emphasis is on spiritual paralysis rather than Greenaway's elegant intellectual conceits. It does have a similar wit - sly games with camera angles, image, dialogue and cliché - but unravelling them yourself is half what the movie is about. Jost's story of two charmless no-hopers, drifting through life without reason or direction, might sound like pure valium, but the gradual seepage of narrative turns it into all manner of movies." Well I guess the writer wasn't thinking of Bleak Moments when he namechecked Leigh And visually stunning though it is in terms of its framing, we're talking serious need of serious restoration and colour grading before it could compete with Greenaway, but I see what s/he means. For my money Marshall Gaddis was better in Bell Diamond, and it lacks the emotional clout of Last Chants and The Bed You Sleep In, but it's still well worth a look
Got to this, finally - what a wank. Wicker Man, sure, but it also reminded me, curiously, of Evil Dead, a tale of dumb students (another American invention, presumably - I'd always thought students were supposed to be intelligent) cut off from the rest of the world battling Dark Forces. Except here the Dark Forces are very white (skin, clothes and hair), very clean Swedes sitting around drinking what looks like ginger beer and eating meat pies, and instead of the rapist tree there's the old log Mark (who wouldn't be at all out of place in yr average slasher) relieves himself on. OK, so it was shot in Hungary, but I'm assuming that even in the wilds of Sweden there is a) a mobile phone connection and b) a local constabulary (Henrik! Reassure me - you guys invented civilisation.. IKEA! ABBA! Ingmar Bergman!), and yet escape is impossible, because No One Gets Out Of Here Alive is central to Aster's storytelling. The film gets exponentially more stupid as it nears its end, from the ridiculous mating scene in the barn (how Christian managed to sustain erection surrounded by those harpies is truly one of Life's Great Mysteries) to the fiery apocalypse (ah, now I see why they needed the bear - d'oh), while flower-bedecked Dani (I hope none of the actresses suffered from hayfever, because there are more petals around here than the Chelsea Flower Show) looks on with benign indifference. All that parental suicide angst was just fluff after all. And she doesn't even get raped by a tree. Sigh.henriq wrote: ↑Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:17 amAgreed, for the most part. I'd also throw in Wicker Man as an obvious referent. Also nice, as a swede, to see a whole bunch of older actors make an appearance. (The film is shot in Hungary, though). Curious, this is a massive step forward for the director, from the crap Hereditary, and I am not going to follow his work anymore.surfer wrote:SPOILERS
Midsommar (Aster, 2019) - Its telling that Aster's favorite movie of the last 20 years is Dogville (a great movie, imo, one of the best movies of that decade), and this is for the most part a rehash of that plot, without any of the dialogue and character development that fueled the orgy of destruction at the end. Nevertheless, Midsommar is a visually striking movie with an almost Wes Anderson-esque obsession with Swedish traditional pagan costumery and ceremony. Fantastic sound design. Aster very accurately conveys what being on psilocybin mushrooms is like. The gore didnt bother me in the slightest, and I am not the least bit a slasher fan. Its just that we are so clearly in a land of fantasy paganism. Btw, the most shocking moment in the film occurs in the first ten minutes and not even in Sweden.
Other than Dani the protagonist, and Pelle the Swede who is well developed, the rest of the Americans are worthless as actors. Christian and his fellow antagonists are self-absorbed, naive, and unsympathetic from the first moment to the last. Mark urinating on the tree of dead ancestors, and Josh sneaking into the temple to snap photos of the sacred book are utterly ridiculous plot points. The real moral message of this tale, is that the true Hollywood villains arent murderous incestuous pagan Swedes, they're American grad students in anthropology.
Finally, I saw this alone at a 10pm screening where there was only one other person in the theater, and if you are going to see this, that is how I recommend you see it.
Barbet Schroeder, Reversal of Fortune, 1990
Not sure I'm ever likely to return to this, despite Jeremy Irons' ghoulishly magnificent Oscar-winning performance (dig the accent) and a sharp script courtesy Nic Kazan, as I think we can rely on Schroeder to tell it how it is - thinking of his Vergès and Idi Amin documentaries - so I'm sure many of these bizarre exchanges actually took place. And I've never been all that interested in Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous, to be honest.
Paul Thomas Anderson, Hard Eight
Can't remember much of what I wrote about this before the site went down, but it wasn't all that interesting - something about Gwyneth Paltrow's vaginal candles, and I enjoyed it but Henrik didn't. So that'll probably do. Oh yes, is it still really possible to comp hustle casinos like this today?
Nicolas Klotz, Paria, 2000
https://www.lesinrocks.com/cinema/films ... che/paria/ Review's in French, and so is the film - no subs that I know of, and that's a shame, because Klotz's documentary-like (though scripted, by his partner Elisabeth Perceval) tale of what happens to the excluded and homeless on New Year's Eve 1999 (do you remember where you were?) is magnficent. But not an easy watch.
Carlos Saura, Peppermint Frappé, 1967
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppermint_Frapp%C3%A9 Excellent performances from Geraldine Chaplin (her finest hour?) and José Luis López Vázquez. Time Out: "Vertigo via Buñuel. Saura's ambitions may have been a bit loftier than his talent back in 1967, but this slice of art house surrealism insinuated itself past Franco's censors to give a welcome glimpse of a Spanish film culture dominated by the shadow of its absent master. The engagingly provocative yarn of erotic obsession, in which plain-Jane Chaplin is 'remoulded' by her unhinged boss into the image of his brother's foxy wife (also Chaplin) isn't obstructed overmuch by Saura's reverential 'homages', and its roots in a script by Rafael Azcona (subversive plotsmith for Berlanga and Ferreri) ensure that sufficient black comedy incisiveness penetrates the flashy surface."
Yves Robert, Alexandre le bienheureux, 1967
Since I posted the earlier (now lost) review, I've been delighted to discover this was shot just twenty or so miles down the road in Alluyes in the Loir (not Loire) valley. And as the lockdown is about to be lifted next week here in France and we'll be able to travel within a 100 km radius of home, this is one of the first places we're off to. With a picnic, I suppose - we'll have to wait for a while before the reopening of the local café where Philippe Noiret hangs out here (until he decides to stay in bed, Oblomov-like, after the untimely death of his harridan wife). Delightful film, great fun. And the dog certainly deserves an Oscar.
John Brahm, Hangover Square, 1945
Said it before, but I reckon the histoire(s) du cinéma would have turned out differently if Laird Cregar hadn't checked out at age 31 of a heart attack brought on by an amphetamine-based crash diet. This was his last performance, playing a hypersensitive mildly psychotic composer subject to scary blackouts who gets royally screwed over by Linda Darnell (her best bitch role) in turn of the century (20th) fogbound London. Absolutely terrific Bernard Herrmann soundtrack - I'm sure Hitchcock knew this, and if he'd directed the film you'd have heard about it by now. Excellent, check it out.
Holger Wick & Maren Sextro, Pioneers of Electronic Music Vol. 1 Richie Hawtin, 2011
https://encyclotronic.com/movies/biogra ... vol-1-r54/ Think you can watch it online here, but with a title as high and mighty as that, you might have expected a little more actual meat, technical and musical detail. My old pal the late great French musicologist Daniel Caux always thought Hawtin was the next big thing in minimalism (after Glass, Reich, Adams et al. all went flabby mainstream) - don't expect anything here along those lines of thought. Personally, I think you're better off just listening to Consumed again. Nice and loud.
Philippe Kohly, Brassens par Brassens, 2020
https://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/ ... _3246.html
Gilles Grangier, 125 rue Montmartre, 1959
Odd title, this - I can only assume it's the address where Lino Ventura goes to pick up the newspapers he sells in the streets of Paris. After fishing what he thinks is a suicide attempt out of the Seine (shades of Boudu, but the guy's pitiful tale also looks forward to a later, greater Ventura vehicle, L'emmerdeur), Lino gets drawn into a convoluted murder plot unravelled with delightful charm by Jean Desailly's police commissioner (almost as classy as Paul Meurisse). Dialogues by Audiard, which means you're pretty fucked if you're dependent on English subtitles. Entertaining, but no classic.
Dario Argento, Opera, 1987
It was only a matter of time before giallo met up with Verdi and Puccini, and Argento's obviously having a ball unleashing a whole conspiracy of mad ravens (should be a murder of ravens, but that's the collective noun for crows, as it happens) in La Scala (is it?) to peck out the eye of the mysterious killer. He plays all the old cards with aplomb: a fragile young heroine stalked by a black-gloved killer who ties her up and tapes a row of needles under her eyes to force her to watch his charcuterie accompanied by screaming rock music. All jolly good fun, and the ending's even more stupid than ever.
Alain Tanner, L'homme qui a perdu son ombre, 1991
First Tanner I've seen that didn't do it for me, I'm afraid. Put that down in part to Dominic Gould, who's a bit of a nonentity as an actor (playing Paul, a disillusioned journalist who leaves his wife and kid and buggers off to a sleepy village on the Andalusian coast), but also to a barely credible plot - the wife Anne (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend Maria (Angela Molina) to track him down to bar run by an old Communist activist (Francisco Rabal), and they both show up, after which Maria ends up jumping in the sack with Paul and Anne just heads off to bed. Or something. I fell asleep, actually.
Denys Arcand, Le déclin de l'empire américain, 1986
IMDb: "A group of academics at the University of Montreal - most long time friends - are planning on gathering at the lakeside recreational home of Rémy and Louise, who have been together for twenty years, married for fifteen of them, for dinner. Louise knows Rémy cheats on her, but believes he only does so when she is not around, about which she accepts. Their recreational home is adjacent to many of the recreational homes of the others, who are: divorced Pierre, his much younger current girlfriend Danielle who is a student at the university, the two who are still in the stage of newfound love, divorced mother Diane, independent minded Dominique, single homosexual Claude, and graduate student Alain. While the four men prepare the dinner, the four women are working out together in the gym.." And I fall asleep. A bore.
Paolo Sorrentino, L'uomo in piu ("One Man Up"), 2001
Sorrentino's debut feature is the tale of two men with the same name, one a footballer forced to retire through injury and having no joy at all making a comeback as a coach, the other a cheesy cokehead crooner (played by Sorrentino's acteur fétiche Toni Servillo) whose career nosedives after he's caught servicing the young lady in the picture above (young in this case meaning 16..). Though he modelled his characters on a real life singer and footballer, I can find no evidence to suggest the former (Franco Califono) ever got in the kind of trouble Servillo does here, but never mind. The Cake cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" is better than the original too, imho. Naples looks gorgeous, and if some of the supporting actors are a bit over the top, well that's Naples. I can't wait to go back there once this Covid nonsense is over.