Andrzej Żuławski, Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours 1989
I remember going to see a Marx Brothers movie in the Quartier Latin on one of my first trips to Paris, and being amused at how the French audience laughed in all the wrong places, simply because they were responding to a whole other set of puns and jokes in the French subtitles, as Groucho and Chico's wordplay was literally untranslatable. I found myself doing the same thing here, but hats off to the enterprising soul who attempted to translate Raphaële Billetdoux's cascade of calembours into English. Damn, even my wife, who is French, had a hard time following the dizzying Word Association Football of Jacques Dutronc and Sophie Marceau. Like much Żuławski of the 80s it's such a breathtakingly overloaded (in terms of montage, script and visuals - both costumes and cinematography) affair it'll probably have you gasping for breath and/or reaching for a bottle of something before the final wonderful walk out into the sea off the beach at Biarritz (must have cost him a bit for that camera). Quite what you can get out of it will depend on how much of the dialogue you're able to follow, let alone understand. I have to say I enjoyed myself enormously but I won't be watching it again until it comes with decent French subtitles. You'd need a pretty good grasp of French to deal with subs too, I'd say. Compared to this, Godard is easy. So, imagine his verbal dexterity (perversity?) combined with the glitzy, shiny cinéma du look of 80s France. Bonne chance!
Claire Denis, Avec amour et acharnement, 2022
Which translates perfectly well as "With Love and Determination", so goodness knows why the film goes by the English title Both Sides of the Blade, and also, apparently, Fire. Probably a bad sign, because it neither cuts deep nor burns. It's just not a good film. Not a bad one, but by Claire Denis's standards, it's a dud. I should have been warned: her last collaboration with writer Christine Angot, Un beau soleil intérieur, was also pretty flat (even if based on a book by Roland Barthes, whom I still admire). And this one, despite great lead actors - Binoche and Lindon, Denis regulars, say no more - is a flabby tale of middle-aged relationships, which I won't even bore myself trying to resume here. There's another Denis regular in the cast, Grégoire Colin, but as he has very little to do, and looks remarkably (and scarily) like Elon Musk, the less said the better. We're a long way away from the great Claire Denis films of a quarter of a century ago. Screenwriter Jean-Pol Fargeau is gone, and so is DP Agnès Godard, and her replacement Eric Gautier, despite having a few good movies under his belt (Into The Wild..) is.. well, no replacement. It looks more like a Dardenne ripoff. And yet another moody Tindersticks soundtrack churning along in the background doesn't do it.
Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Sat Jul 06, 2019 4:28 am
Ted Fendt, Short Stay, 2016
Once more shot in the "mesmerizingly anonymous suburb of Philadelphia where Fendt grew up" (see http://cinema-scope.com/cinema-scope-ma ... ted-fendt/), his debut feature after a handful of shorts is fun, if watching the non-adventures of a pasty-faced younger version of John Oliver drift in and out of odd jobs can be called fun. Fendt knows his cinema well - Straub & Huillet, Bresson, Godard - and though the plot, such as it is, and characters are mumblecore, the framing and precision of Fendt's shots remind me of Hal Hartley. Nice - but don't expect much in the way of action. And certainly don't expect Mike to smile. He doesn't.
Well, as he's only got one more to go before he retires (?), I guess he won't. But it's thanks to Quentin that I decided to check this one out again, having enjoyed (more than I thought I would, and probably much more than anyone else here might) QT's Cinema Speculation audiobook (bit of a daft title, but the best chapter is indeed speculation, as Quentin tries to imagine - and in fact makes quite a good case for - a Brian De Palma-directed Taxi Driver... anyway, enough of that). Points 2 to 4 in the spoiler-colour-protected zone above are answered by Tarantino very well, and originate in different versions of the script, more precisely the bits of Schrader's that weren't used. If you're interested, and/or a 70s film nut like Tarantino (or myself, for that matter), check out his book. Anyway, I don't know if I enjoyed it more than I did last time, but it was certainly more fun than the Claire Denis above.Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Sat Sep 12, 2015 2:01 am
John Flynn, Rolling Thunder, 1977
Fascinating if flawed (fascinating because of its flaws) tale of combat-hardened Vietnam Vets out for revenge, with fine performances from William "Knots Landing" Devane and a young Tommy Lee Jones. Paul Schrader's original script https://subcin.files.wordpress.com/2014 ... hunder.pdf was toned down by Heywood Gould (Schrader originally had an idea for Major Rane to meet up with a certain Mr Travis Bickle.. just as well that project was shelved), but there are some great lines. ("It's like my eyes are open and I'm looking at you but I'm dead. They've pulled out whatever it was inside of me. It never hurt at all after that and it never will.") However, here are a few things I didn't care for: 1) the Cliff subplot, the more you think about it, is totally unnecessary - even the police tail on Rane's red Cadillac - and the shootout in the abandoned house completely gratuitous. OK, you say, so is the crop duster scene in North by Northwest, but Cliff is a minor character here, not the principal protagonist. 2) Linda just disappears, and just when you think things might be getting Gun Crazy interesting - as her firearms skills are never put to the test, the scene where she shoots at the logs in the river feels uncomfortable (did Schrader originally intend her to go on the killing spree with Rane, I wonder?) 3) the original intrusion into Rane's house, upon reflection, is pretty dumb - would these bad hombres really go to all that trouble for a measly $2500? And why did they have to shoot the wife and child? 4. The "happy" ending, which is surely meant to be some kind of joke (like the "happy ending" of Taxi Driver) but ends up veering too close to exploitation cheap melo ("time to go home", or whatever dumb shit he says. The original Schrader script doesn't end that way (see above) and he understandably didn't like the changes Gould made and refused to endorse the film. Anyway, as you all probably know, this is another one of Tarantino's all time favourite movies - I reckon he could do a decent remake of it himself, if he put his mind to it.
Marguerite Duras, Des journées entières dans les arbres , 1977
Not a single review - crrritic or user - at IMDb https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0205864/ which is unfortunate, as someone needs to sing the praises of Duras's adaptation of her own short story, which she'd already adapted into a play at the behest of Jean-Louis Barrault, whose wife Madeleine Renaud plays the deliciously anarchic granny returning from the colonies briefly to try to persaude her son to give up his somewhat sleazy existence "working" in a night club in Paris and return to run the family business. Splendid cast - in addition to Renaud, who discusses her role briefly here https://www.ina.fr/ina-eclaire-actu/vid ... s-dans-les, Jean-Pierre Aumont and the eternally wonderful Bulle Ogier turn in great performances. If you're dubitative about Duras as a director, you might want to give this a try, it might change your mind.
Ingmar Bergman, A Lesson in Love, 1954
Whenever we sit around after dinner and say "so what are we going to watch tonight?" (happens often), Bergman often comes up, and one of us usually counters with, "ach, too heavy".. Bullshit, Dan! Finally getting round to watching the remaining Bergmans in the intray, and this was an absolute delight. Eva Dahlbeck and Gunnar Björnstrand are magnificent throughout, but the supporting cast is great too, and Bergman's mastery of narrative (I'm a sucker for flashbacks, and flashbacks inside of other flashbacks) and eye for framing and composition (DP Martin Bodin had already had a couple of decades' experience, and it shows) evident throughout. Nice! Any chance of tempting our resident Swede (hej, Henrik) out of hibernation with a comment or two? Sätt igång!