Ben Wheatley, In The Earth, 2021
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/j ... olk-horror As the pic makes abundantly clear, Wheatley's more than happy to reference - in addition to Stalker - well-known horror movie tropes (The Shining, above, but watch out for The Fog when those pesky mushrooms start farting out their spores, not to mention any number of films where folks have parts of their bodies lopped off by maniacs wielding sharp objects) as well as returning to the old weird England of ley lines and crop circles and similar alchemical nonsense that he explored - more successfully - in his Civil War LSD trip A Field in England back in 2013. Some groovy psychedelic images and a cool Clint Mansell OST, but, to quote the abovelinked review, it's not a long way from "believably rooted thriller to schlocky B-movie."
Alain Tanner, Messidor, 1979
When I first came across this eight years ago (see above) there was no BluRay available - but sometimes good things come to those who wait I hadn't noted (or had noted and forgotten) that Maurice Pialat was toying with a screenplay based on the true story of two hitchhikers back in 1972 who killed someone who'd given them a lift (it's not clear what the driver did to deserve this, whereas in Messidor it is). What's fascinating about Tanner's road movie is how little we end up knowing about who these girls are, why they do what they do, and even what they do at certain points of the narrative: we see them get a ride from two motorcyclists who've paid for their lunch, and we see the bikes turning off the road into a barn, and then.. CUT to the next day. Did the boys get their wicked way? Did the girls shoot them? How did they get to where we see them in the next shot? And that's maybe the key (if we need a key - seems some people do): the dialogue is minimal but some lines stand out, notably Jeanne's (quoted in this review http://www.talkingpix.co.uk/ReviewsMessidor.html) "What do these people do? Where are they going? We'll never know", she says. "That's what's so maddening. We'll never know".Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:58 pmRoad movies your thing? You need to see this right now. It's a shame this tale of two young Swiss lasses, one a student, the other a shop assistant, who take to the road, eventually run out of money but continue "playing the game" to the bitter end, isn't available on super duper Blu Ray, as the landscape and the way Tanner films it is as impressive (and understated) as the dialogue. As a committed cinéphile, Tanner would no doubt have known Easy Rider, and I'll hazard a bet he was familiar with Two-Lane Blacktop too (this is right up there with the latter, imo). Talking of possible influences, I doubt Callie Khouri was aware of Tanner's film when she penned the screenplay for Thelma & Louise, though Scott might have been. In any case, the differences between the two films far outnumber the similarities. And I'll take Messidor every time.
The film, like the girls, is perpetually on the move - even when they're sitting still on top of an Alp, we hear the deafening scream of a passing jet; as a kind farmer (not everyone the girls meet is an asshole, but many are) shows them a hayloft where they can kip, we see a cable car (ha! Switzerland, folks!) pass in the background; and at the end a whole stream of cars passes by, on the road to.. where? "It is moving through empty spaces". Needless to say, the idea of Bressonian road movie isn't everyone's cup of tea - Vincent Canby didn't care for it much (whereas he quite liked Two-Lane Blacktop) - but, well, it's certainly mine. Great to see this one again.
thx 1138 by george lucas, 1971. for 40 minutes or so i loved the texture. of course, walter murch will have been responsible for most of that, as they interweave sounds and images, put all of the exposition into the shortwave pitterpatter of ideological infiltration etc. of course the story is just a remix of 1984 and it's not exactly subtle, but it feels fresh. then it suddenly crashes when for criminal drug evasion thx is sent into the stage production of some post-kafkaesque play set in the kind of overexposed whiteness hollywood usually reserves for the afterlife. (the treatment/torture there doesn't even make sense since he has been pronounced incurable, so why don't they just slip him into a stasis tank?) except that this still riffs on 1984. the self-conscious artiness of the scenes was so intolerable i started fast-forwarding so i wasn't able to fully appreciate the ensuing chase scenes. anyway it seems that the strength of this film is you get three of them for the price of one.
Seijun Suzuki - Zigeunerwiesen (1980)
A little too dense for conventional summary, threads and motifs spun and threaded throughout with masterful control. So, start - like the film - with a recording, Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen, played by the composer. The voice of the composer heard on the recording, barely and briefly, a tiny mechanical density imprinted on the surface of the record, a pivot that the film returns to. Then, a murdered woman on a beach. The murderer a defrocked academic, a wild man, possessed by an idea of red bones, of blood and panic turning inward. Saved from justice by his friend, the straight man, a professor of German at a military academy - a couple established, that soon blooms into a ménage a trois with the appearance of a geisha. But, in a mirroring as film and time progresses, the geisha returns as the wife of the wild man, and the trio blooms into a quartet with the appearance of the straight man’s wife. A structure of hazy repetition, of motifs weaved and receding. A slightly conventional noirish theme of suspicion and seduction, the wild man ravishing the straight man’s wife, or not? Reality or dream? Is there a difference? Oftentimes you have a couple torn open by an intrusion from the outside - a voice that shouldn’t be there (Sauve qui put (la vie) - What IS that music?), appearing with a reflection in a mirror, the wild man invading the home and seducing the wife, echoing the pollen from the peach tree in the garden precipitating an allergy attack. Cue and thread the red again: the red rash of allergy or arousal, of betrayal, of a peach’s flesh, of traditional Japanese dress against the stolid background of Germanic civility, here in the pre-fascist twenties. Wonderful and to the point as Tony Rayns always is, I don’t agree with him when he maintains that the Sarasate recording is a McGuffin: the film is haunted by the idea of repetition, of voices and images that shouldn’t be, that holds no place but does. A thematic of vacillation, of occluded precision. Beautiful.
Otto Preminger - In Harm’s Way (1965)
There isn’t a Preminger I don’t like, as yet. And this is seriously brilliant: a war epic about the Pacific theatre after Pearl Harbour, but that plays like something small, intimate, emotionally earnest. And that, more importantly, blows me away with a certain actor. John Wayne: I, at least, always accept him for what he is, an institution, and an awful human being, a stain of sorts on the great films he populates. (I HATE The Searchers…) But here, he is astounding, subdued and nuanced, filled with regret, both the character and the man (he was sick with the cancer that would claim parts of his body and eventually his life). His relationship with Brandon deWilde’s Jere, a son he abandoned many years previous, rings painfully true. (Maybe Wayne was always great? Maybe someone like Gregory Peck is more of a stodgy albatross around the necks of the films he populates?) I’m reminded of what David Thomson writes about Preminger, that there is an exactness to proceedings (this about Anatomy of Murder), a mechanism of performance and narrative foregrounded, we are spectators to not only a film but to a legal argument: “In other words, we are put in the position of the jury: the workings of the film become the due process of law.” And the same, of sorts, can be said of the present film. There is a consistency, or let’s say an honesty, to proceedings. The small and intimate detailing and plotting of the film isn’t there to frame some big and unwieldy block of pomp and circumstance, war theatre heroics, but are themselves the very step and idea of the film. It’s easy to see how this strain of filmmaking appears again in a figure like Clint Eastwood, the inverted epic formulas of Letters from Iwo Jima or Million Dollar Baby. (Or the careful, moral crenellations of Kurosawa’s High and Low). And of course, I have to mention Kirk Douglas. The balls out magic of that man in this picture! This exchange between Douglas’ Captain Eddington and Jere had me sitting upright:
“-Lieutenant, I don’t know the situation between you and your father, but let me tell you this. Bums like your friend Owynn are with us always, like bad weather. But sailors like your old man only happen once in a while.
-I’m afraid I cannot accept your evaluation of Commander Owynn.
-Well, I’m afraid I cannot accept you as Rock Torrey’s son. I think somebody got in there ahead of him.
-Now, wait a minute, Eddington!
-CAPTAIN Eddington. Yes?”
A discordant, ugly exchange: accusing the guy’s mother of being an unfaithful whore and the boy of being a bastard! But totally concomitant with a deepening ugliness and pathology of Douglas’ character, culminating in the rape of the young girl on the beach. And an ugliness that is in turn signaled and established, foreshadowed, in the very opening of the film, with the drunken abandon of the wife at the officer’s party. (Much like Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick mirror each other in Anatomy) I can’t recommend this highly enough, essential viewing.
Mark Rydell - The Rose (1979)
Ok, so color me convinced, totally, about Bette Midler here. Or an acolyte, even. A devastating, brilliant film. The only thing I’ve seen of Rydell’s, I mainly know him as Marty Augustine in Altman’s The Long Goodbye. Altman is a good starting point to approach this, as is Scorsese. Rydell inhabits much the same territory, but expands, pushes through. Altman strains for and attains to poignancy. His arguments are, however fuzzily or hazily framed, clear and readable, breathtaking even, but still there and in service of what could even be termed…conventional? Maybe? Sounds like a putdown, so let me reiterate that a like or even love Altman, in places. I don’t think much of M*A*S*H, or Short Cuts, and as a rule, the fuzzier his arguments are, the better the films. Images and 3 Women, once again, wow… I also had another look at Scorsese, and he too is instructive. The tidy plotting and advance of Goodfellas, the gliding camera and compositions with the different guys introducing themselves - all a bit obvious, isn’t it? But then the pivot on the killing of Billy Batts, energies maintained and in their place in the first part of the film overflowing and erupting, barely containable, sounds, music, voices impressing and intruding in the image. You’ve been had, boy, THIS is the entire idea of the film, brilliantly. Scorsese follows Visconti quite closely here. But, what about Rydell? Excess is the name of the game, in that he is much less of as classicist than either Altman or Scorsese. No buildup necessary, but slap bang in the middle of the mess that is Bette Midler’s rock star on the wane. I would say that Rydell approaches on drunkenness as an idea: Vilmos Szigmond’s camera tumbles and stumbles, picks up itself and the bodies it frames and shapes. And falls down, and gets up again. The set pieces are glorious - I especially love the stuff set in the New York drag club. The music by Paul A. Rothchild kicks ass (loosely based on Janis Joplin as this is, Rothchild was the singer’s producer), perfectly recorded and engaging rock. And, thankfully, Bette Midler’s voice is infinitely more pleasurable than Joplin’s. The performances throughout are ace, Frederic Forrest is great, as is Alan Bates. If such cinches a deal Harry Dean Stanton does a tiny turn as a fastidious country singer. And Bette Midler, man… Can you say force of nature? Words really aren’t enough, she has to be experienced here. Granted, the symbolism gets a bit heavy - did the phone booth really have to be at the football field? and what would it do between the bleachers? - but it sets up the dirty, punch-the-air glory of Midler’s entrance at the hometown concert that closes the film. An amazing film!
Ha, my Hollywood blood is in that very image! Karl Swenson performing the last rites (My aunt, on an exchange year in Los Angeles with Karl and Joan, showed me her hand and said "THIS hand shook the hand of Paul Newman!")Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:18 am
John Frankenheimer, Seconds, 1966
Return visit, third time. I recall our man Lutz thought the second half was a bit naff - and it is a daft story, if you think about it - but as daft stories go, it's a good one. Career best performance from Rock Hudson (Will Geer's great too), sensational cinematography from James Wong Howe, typically awesome Saul Bass title sequence. I see that everyone's favourite lisping Lacanian Slavoj Žižek is also a fan - and on movies I think he has good taste, by and large
It is amazing, isn't it?! I read the book and hated it, dry and...dry, where this is dry, dense and beautiful in equal measure. I have to watch it again - and read the book too, to see if first verdict holds.Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Sun Jun 06, 2021 10:30 am
Volker Schlöndorff & Margarethe von Trotta, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, or: How violence develops and where it can lead , 1975
Excellent, in every way (and thanks to Henrik for hipping me to this one) - and, watching with near horror every day at how the vile British Tory media are behaving, it's just as appropriate today as it was back in the dark Baader Meinhof days. Great cast, magnificent cinematography (Jost Vacano) and a splendid Hanz Werner Henze soundtrack, which for once could have been a bit louder
Capra was a great admirer of Mussolini and helped out in any way he could with the anti-communist purges and witch hunts of the fifties. A despicable director.Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Tue Mar 09, 2021 1:59 am
Norman Taurog, Room for One More, 1952
Charming (nice chemistry between Cary Grant and Betsy Drake, who was his wife offscreen) but it all turns decidedly Capragagbarf mawkish as it goes on, especially when those Boy Scouts show up (looks like a Hitler Youth show). The perfect American family, quoi. Grant has some sharp lines, but the way the troubled orphans his wife can't resist adopting - to say nothing of the dog, which deserves an Oscar - miraculously become nice, clean, well-behaved little patriots is... disturbing. Ain't no black folks to be seen either, draw yr own conclusions..
This tells me two things:Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Thu Mar 18, 2021 10:45 am
Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Gemini, 1999
"From its opening digitally-manipulated choral score to its first impressionistic images of maggots and rats swarming over a dog’s putrid carcass in the mud, the viewer can sit back in the assurance that, despite the early 20th century setting, this is very much a typical Tsukamoto film merely masquerading as classical Japanese cinema." From this review https://lwlies.com/articles/shinya-tsuk ... ay-review/ No point summarising the plot - the review does that - not that it's all that easy to follow at first. Like other films that make heavy use of filters - thinking of some of Raoul Ruiz's work here - it induces a kind of queasiness after a while, not helped by Chu Ishikawa's clunky and dull soundtrack. In short, I wanted to like it more than I did, and am not sure I enjoyed it enough to want to try it again in the near future.
1. I watch a whole lot of films, because I've actually seen this and can't remember much more than what you say in your review, and
2. This is not a good sign for the film. They're supposed to make an impression on you, right?
Funny, I've only really seen Eros + Massacre and HATED it, at least way back when. But I had a lot of opinions then that I don't stand by today. Onimaru is supposed to be awesome - Takemitsu soundtrack, both David Toop and Philip Brophy writes about it.Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Sun Feb 28, 2021 3:34 am
Yoshishige Yoshida, Onna no mizûmi ("Woman of the Lake"), 1966
https://cinema-talk.com/2015/10/12/onna ... lake-1966/ Intelligent review of a fine film - whole essays could be written on this one (probably have been). First Yoshida I've seen, but I'm sure my japanophile pal Henrik can point me in the direction of others
Yes, looking forward to this. But - churlish troll that I am - you seem prepared to overlook Wayne's shall we say very-much-right-of-centre politics but not Capra's? I'm not great Capra fan, but what he does he does very well. Idem The Duke. A discuter
Splendid write- up: just waiting for some kind soul to reseed
Nicolas Winding Refn, Pusher, 1996
Nicolas Winding Refn, Pusher II , 2004
Nicolas Winding Refn, Pusher 3, 2005
So the trilogy popped up again as a temporary freeleech on KG,and I thought it was a good opportunity to pay a return visit. This time all in one go, ably assisted by a bottle of Danish aquavit (the morning after was rough). Nice (nice?) to see how Refn's directorial style evolved from the tight, Dardenny tracking shots of number one to the beautifully framed butchery of number three, but a little chilling to read that the actor who plays the Serbian heavy Radovan, Slavko Labovic, is a real-life fan of convicted war criminal Radovan Karadžić. Yikes. Meanwhile, Bodnia and especially Mikkelsen are magnificent. Remind me to go easy on the aquavit next time - and to steer well clear of sarma https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarma_(food)
Alfred Hitchcock, The Manxman, 1929
So, finally approaching the moment when I can say, "Ha! I've seen ALL of Hitchcock's films!" Like, you know, "Ha! I've read Proust!" (which is probably only bettered by "I've read Finnegans Wake!" or "I've read Proust TWICE!" - or, heaven forfend, "I've read Finnegans Wake TWICE!") And it's such a shame that his silent movies aren't better known, because they're very good. Sure, dated a little - Carl Brisson in The Manxman has only two facial expressions, one of which is above (just as well it wasn't a talkie because he was Danish... and Anny Ondra, a much better actress,visually, was Czech) - but you can see Hitch working towards the grammar he perfected not long after when sound came along. Love the way several plot points are NOT in the intertitles (it's Ondra's face that tells us she's pregnant.. but Brisson isn't the daddy).
Alan Rudolph, Remember My Name, 1978
IMDb: "[A] young woman arrives in town to 'start a new life', but soon begins stalking a married construction worker for no apparent reason, turning his life inside out and eventually terrorizing him and his wife." Well, there is a reason of course, but we don't find out why until near the end. Geraldine Chaplin is great as the unstable, chainsmoking Emily, and the Alberta Hunter soundtrack is smashing. Of course, JR says it better than I could: fine review, fine film https://jonathanrosenbaum.net/2021/01/r ... 79-review/
Olivier Assayas, Wasp Network, 2019
https://www.nme.com/reviews/film-review ... ix-2692060 is about typical of the online reviews, and I agree with much of what it has to say, but I think it deserves more than a 39% readout on the tomatometer. True, the storyline is complex (it was in real life), and it's unfortunate that the director has to resort to a high-speed voiceover to update us on the backstory (hah, I was wondering when Gael Garcia Bernal was going to show up); true, Assayas had to downplay the women's roles (shame, as it's a waste of two fine actresses) in the interests of brevity - one assumes he wasn't allowed to stretch out like he did with Carlos: Netflix pulling the strings? - but there's much to commend it.