Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Favorite (four), part forty-nine

Just like in my other forty-eight posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Robin Campillo's BPM (Beats per Minute)
I knew going into it that it was Les Inrocks' favorite film of the year and their taste is often closely aligned with my own.  What struck me most, aside from its performances, was its shape.  Campillo is able like Kechiche with Blue Is the Warmest Color or Bonello with Saint Laurent to avoid classical scene shape without seeming unstructured.  His modernism is not abrasive, loud or jarring.  It is immersive, fluid and welcoming.  

Maurice Pialat's La maison des bois
It is very possible that within one of the cinema's greatest bodies of work this little seen seven part series for television is Pialat's greatest achievement.  It is certainly his most humanistic film and the work that most clearly grants him the title as Jean Renoir's closest French cinema successor.  All of it is remarkable, its characters, its Frenchness, its patience, its rigor.  And Pialat, time and time again, gives us moments that are so alive and so rich, and that surprisingly make us feel as if we are seeing them on film for the first time.    

Jon Nguyen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, and Rick Barnes' David Lynch: The Art Life
A doc that gives a glimpse at the fascinating filmmaker from an entirely different perspective, his early years and the experiences that formed and shaped his artistic sensibility.  Absolutely essential for any aspiring artist or fan of Lynch.

Ernst Lubitsch's Cluny Brown
Watching the film is yet another reminder of the infusion of great skill and sophistication that Hollywood experienced in the forties and fifties.  The craft, perspective and sensibility brought to the States by the dozens of European craftsmen advanced the form in ways the country never again achieved by way of outside influence.  What is most remarkable is Lubitsch's timing and the way he achieves profound emotional moments without leaning on music whatsoever.  The film in fact is almost entirely devoid of score.  Somehow I missed this one in my original exploration of Lubitsch's work but I think it ranks up there with the very best of his extraordinary films.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Favorite (four), part forty-eight

Just like in my other forty-seven posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Cy Endfield's The Sound of Fury
I did not know what to expect, having never seen a film from Endfield.  But I knew the film had a pretty big reputation and was curious to see what it was all about.  It has elements of Lang's Fury that place it in an interesting cinematic context (Endfield certainly has much of Lang's dark, venomous abilities) and offer some historical clue to some of what Endfield may be up to, using noir to lodge an attack on WWII atrocities.  What struck me most is how far Endfield goes into the darkness.  You cringe numerous times as you feel Howard splintering apart, first into violence and then into adultery and alcoholism.  This is uncomfortable noir, spewing out in all directions, unconcerned with softness or any commercial sentimentality.

Otto Preminger's Daisy Kenyon
Armed with a powerhouse trio of actors (Crawford, Fond and Andrews), Preminger creates one of his most effective films.  It is dark, unpredictable and tackles subject matter (extramarital relationships) that had to be far out of step with his time.  The most impressive aspect of the film is the way that Preminger is able to able to place the viewer, at different times, into the unique perspective of each of the three characters.  It is a complex, uncomfortable look at marriage with a resolution that, like Preminger, leaves you a bit perplexed.

Edward F. Cline's Million Dollar Legs
As a precursor to the outlandish sensibility that Preston Strurges would later brand, this WC Fields feature is worth a look.  Being pre-code works in its favor and there are a number of memorable sight gags including the sped-up runner or the scan of different buttons Fields has at his disposal inside his Klopstokia home.

Jordan Peele's Get Out
It It is the type of artistic genre film that I wish was less rare in today's American cinema.  What impressed me most was its insightful casting, particularly Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford and Caleb Landry Jones, and each of their deep commitment to every story beat and feeling.  We are millions of miles away from the cardboard performances found in most exploitation fare.  I found its restraint surprising and refreshing.  It cuts fairly slowly, gives the actors space to move around and is unafraid of stillness and quiet.  It uses its camera and music with intent and to great effect.  And, when it finally delivers on more conventional genre elements, in this case horror violence, it is fresh, inventive and affecting.  Of course, Peele also has come up with an incredibly smart script and lens with which to examine racism. Scenes like the "slave auction" work at a very deep, artistic level and are worthy of the very best in critical attention and admiration.  It also seems that Peele studied the first Scream, beginning his film in similar ways to the great Barrymore opening in Craven's work.  With Get Out, Peele has delivered an explosive debut that I believe years from now will be considered in the same discussions of other brilliant debut genre films such as Reservoir Dogs and Kiss Me Deadly

Monday, January 1, 2018

My Top Fourteen "Films" of 2017

It was the year of streaming for me.  Of discoveries on places I used to avoid, from fear of seeing a compromised version of something hard to find.  Part of it, I think, is that I finally got a smart TV and had the option for the first time of seeing things on YouTube, Mubi, Vudu or anywhere else that some of these rarities reside on a screen larger than my phone or computer.  I am tired of waiting ten years to track down something that does not yet have conventional distribution.  And I have given up on Netflix or DVD distributors ever catering again to cinephiles.  The next few years, I imagine, more and more of my favorite movies will be consumed in this way, outside of the confines of a theater on some site I have never heard of but am so very grateful to for finally giving these oddities a place to be found.  

*Except for the few words added to Twin Peaks: The Return and Get Out, everything below was written on the blog soon after my initial viewings.  

Kleber Mendonca Filho's Aquarius
I know nothing of Filho's work, not even if the filmmaker is male or female (although the unusually sensitive treatment of the central female character leads me to think it is the latter).  Filho is a graceful filmmaker, reminding me of Moretti in the artful, light way he glides through scenes.  Most remarkable aside from the fully felt Clara is the way the filmmaker so effortlessly moves through time and the way quick cuts are used to show sexual actions and waves of Clara's thoughts and memories.  
David Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return
I wrote this after the first episode of the third season:  "David Lynch is one of my favorite filmmakers still at work.  And though I would not call myself die hard about Twin Peaks, I am a fan of both the first two seasons and the film.  So when Season 3 started, more than 25 years later, I had high hopes for it.  For it and Lynch who had also been away from screens for more than a decade, since Inland Empire.  When Episode 1 began last night, at first I thought 'it looks strange'.  First, it was the images, most likely video rather than the film of the first two seasons.  Then, it was the actors from the first two seasons, all weathered by time (25 years!) looking like the way Hollywood ages actors in a biopic or an epic but psychologically to an even different effect because this is actually how all the actors look now.  I have no idea how this trip will end but when the two hour premiere ended last night, I felt once again Lynch's special talent and that he had succeeded in tackling the nearly impossible.  He had revisited a much beloved property 25 years later and gotten back inside its rhythm.  In a way, I feel like I am about to re-experience the way El Dorado and Rio Lobo played off of Rio Bravo, but this time Lynch-style."  I will now add, now that the season is over, that this past year nothing else I saw felt remotely as creative, as alive, or revealed to me so much of the untapped potential of cinema or of TV.
Abbas Kiarostami's The Traveler
In its one track pursuit and its tunnel focus on the young main character, it feels like a black and white predecessor to Where is the Fried's Home?.  It is quintessential Kiarostami in its lyricism, its softness, its feel for the land and its rhythms.  A couple of scenes, like the photography session in the schoolyard, rank as Kiarostami at his most inventive and most cinematic.  Kiarostami would later become a little more rigorous with his filmmaking, longer takes, less music, but already in this, his first film over an hour, he announces himself as a great, new humanistic force. 
Billy Wilder's Avanti!
It is the work of a great artist, later in career, working at a time when a youth style has taken over that is so different and foreign it threatens to immediately render the director archaic or a fake depending on the approach he chooses.  Aside from his nod to 8 1/2 (and perhaps to all of the new generation's emphasis on style) in the film's prelude, Wilder confidently and intelligently chooses to stay "classic" and the film derives its power from this bold stance.  It is like Dreyer post Nouvelle Vague giving us the UFO that is Gertrud or Bresson adding color but perhaps nothing else that is stylistically new to his oeuvre in 1983.  Of course, also giving Avanti! its charge is the effect of classic elements in the hands of a master - deeply felt acting (I can't remember ever liking Lemmon better), an intricately designed narrative and long scenes, built and captured slowly, eloquently and artfully.
Josef von Sternberg's Anatahan
It has only been 20+ years since I first heard of the film and have been wanting to see it ever since.  It belongs in that special category of master director's final films and it has that same odd tone of finality of Dreyer's Gertrud and perhaps even Bresson's L'argent.  It is a mood film dripping with atmosphere and style and succeeds in throwing the viewer into its exotic land and bringing the strangeness terrifically alive.  Sternberg excelled at this type of cinema that also includes Macao and Morocco.  
Jean Eustache's Mes Petites Amoureuses
I have long been a fan of Eustache's The Mother and the Whore but have had some difficulty tracking down the rest of his work.  And I just took a quick peek at Wikipedia and had no idea this was his only other feature.  I knew he had committed suicide young but never knew he only ever made just two features (and a good number of shorts).  This film is extraordinary, capturing a thing that I have never before seen captured on film.  The best way I can describe it is the very early awakening of the male interest in females.  It gets into the awkwardness but more than that it gets into the deep yearning and romantic creation that goes on in the head of many young boys.  There are a number of flat out brilliant sequences including Daniel's first imaginings while on a train and his encounter with the young girl Francoise in the neighboring town.
Werner Herzog's Stroszek
One of my favorite feelings as a cinephile is finding a film by a director whose work I only partially know and being inspired to track down the rest of their films.  Not only did Stroszek make me want to watch the rest of Herzog that I haven't seen yet but also get on a path to completion for Fassbinder.  Stroszek had so many things that I like but in particular I was moved by the emotiveness of Bruno S., the raw painterly quality of the camerawork, and the fact that it seemed a missing predecessor for a number of 80s movies I like a great deal including Stranger Than Paradise and the first two Leos Carax features.  And the final ten minutes have to go down as one of the greatest in the history of the medium.  They had the silent power of Anotonioni's The Passenger and embodied the absurd freewheeling nature of early Dylan better than any movie I have ever seen.
Jean Rouch's Chronicle of a summer
I have long known that Godard was a big fan of Rouch but this is the first of his films I have seen.  It is extraordinary.  It breaks the fourth wall in more sophisticated and interesting ways than Godard ever did and serves as the template for the docu-style Godard would take into Masculin Feminin and several of his other films from the period.  A number of the scenes are magical including the long take of Marceline walking as the camera moves farther and farther away from her and the moment when the father imparts mountain climbing lessons to his more risk-averse daughter.
Agnes Varda's The Beaches of Agnes
Although I still do not know Varda's cinema well at all (to date, I have only seen this and Cleo), I am very interested in tracking down more of her work.  Her cinema feels like some gourmet confection - inventive, sophisticated, quirky and most impressively, light.  I have seen a few other filmmakers go down this path of personal essay or stream of conscious autobiography (Marker and Godard, particularly).  But neither is able to articulate their personality and give you a feel for who they might be as a person better than Varda does here.
Jim Jarmusch's Paterson
Another strong entry from one of my favorite filmmakers currently at work, after what felt like a slight drop in quality between Ghost Dog and Only Lovers Left Alive.  Like his great previous film, Jarmusch seems to be in an internal dialogue with the past and with art.  Whereas the excellent Lovers was with one of his favorite passions, music.  This time around Jarmusch seems to be most concerned with another of his primary artistic passions, poetry.  In fact, there is so much in common, formally and narratively, between the two films that they seem to form a couple relationship within his body of work.  The greatest strength of Jarmusch has always been his ability to distill and condense.  Like the best poems, his work conveys so much with so little.    
Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
I was frustrated by the backlash against La La Land.  And I was confused by the critical preference for Moonlight.  Sure, Chazelle's film had the more robust budget.  But I felt like his film also had far more filmmaking rigor than Jenkins' and that Chazelle's formal approach in general was much clearer and achieved at a significantly higher level.  And when I hear someone compare Moonlight's color palate to the incredible work Doyle and Wong Kar-wai achieved together I really don't see it at all.  

With that out of the way, I was looking forward to rewatching Demy's film, cited as a key influence on La La Land.  I remembered Demy's work with color as among the most impressive in film's history and it was as brash and beautiful as I remembered.  The pinks, purples, and splashes of bold colors of Demy's cinema certainly find their way into some of the clothes and onto some of the sets of La La Land (most noticeably in Emma Stone's apartment and her roommates' outfits).  What I did not remember though is just how bittersweet and powerful the final minutes of Cherbourg are.  Rewatching it now, if you felt it like I did, it seems that the secret behind the emotional power of some of La La Land's final exchanges is Chazelle tapping into the same cinema magic Demy was onto for Cherbourg's last moments.  Both films explore unrequited and both get deep rewards for staying on the other side of happily ever after.
Eric Rohmer's The Marquise of O
The first period piece I have seen from Rohmer and it is a stunner. What impresses most is the way that Rohmer uses his incredible talent for distillation to tell a story of transcendence and humanism in the unexpected backdrop of the late 1700s.  Rohmer proves that he learned much from Rossellini and the effects he is able to achieve do not feel terribly far removed from Rossellini's great La prise de pouvoir de Louis XIV.
Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer
Clearly Ritchie is definitely a filmmaker that I am now far more curious about, having seen Smile (with him in person), The Bad New Bears and now this.  He has an auteur's deep feel for character and the freewheeling sensibility of Altman and Demme.  The soft shape of scenes and the way he slows down time during some of the races are what most affected me with this one.  I look forward to continuing to investigate more of his work, particularly The Candidate and Prime Cut.  
Jordan Peele's Get Out
Simply one of the most promising American directorial debuts, ever.  What impressed me most was Peele's rigor and sense of restraint in what could have easily been a hack Hollywood genre film.  It is top shelf in so many areas, its acting, its writing and the way it is able to deliver the thrills and joys with the best of the genre's practitioners.  My hope is, unlike Gordon Green or some of my other favorite young filmmakers, that Peele can continue to do brave and interesting work as the system tries to seduce him from all directions.
  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My favorite directorial feature film debuts

I was so impressed by Get Out, it got me thinking about my 10 favorite directorial feature debuts.  Here's where I landed:

Breathless
Funny Ha Ha
The Traveler
L'Enfance Nue
The 400 Blows
Jour de fete
They Live by Night
Boy Meets Girl
Killer of Sheep

Monday, November 27, 2017

Favorite (four), part forty-seven

Just like in my other forty-six posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Jean Rouch's Chronicle of a Summer
I have long known that Godard was a big fan of Rouch but this is the first of his films I have seen.  It is extraordinary.  It breaks the fourth wall in more sophisticated and interesting ways than Godard ever did and serves as the template for the docu-style Godard would take into Masculin Feminin and several of his other films from the period.  A number of the scenes are magical including the long take of Marceline walking as the camera moves farther and farther away from her and the moment when the father imparts mountain climbing lessons to his more risk-averse daughter.

Paul Fejos' Lonesome
I wish Paul Schrader were here.  I've heard him list off on a number of occasions the things that cinema does particularly well and I always thought his list quite astute.  But one thing he may or may not have mentioned that I think the medium does unusually well is restraint.  When the cinema holds back from giving the audience what it craves for an extended amount of time and then finally delivers, the result can be incredibly powerful and moving.  I'm thinking of Fellini's restraint from using a close-up until the very end of Nights of Cabiria or Marker's sudden burst of movement in La Jetee or the emotional restraint Bresson exhibits throughout the entirety of Pickpocket until its very final moments.  Here, the restraint has to do with sound and as with the very best examples of restraint, when it finally breaks or gives in, it comes as a complete shock.  The first time the two characters spoke in Lonesome I did not know what to think.  I have seen a good number of films but I have never gone into a silent film expecting to hear two characters speaking to one another 30 minutes in.  But Fejos does not stop there.  He dazzles with color, he dazzles with montage and then when it is time for him to bring it all to a close, he does that gloriously as well.

Agnes Varda's The Beaches of Agnes
Although I still do not know Varda's cinema well at all (to date, I have only seen this and Cleo), I am very interested in tracking down more of her work.  Her cinema feels like some gourmet confection - inventive, sophisticated, quirky and most impressively, light.  I have seen a few other filmmakers go down this path of personal essay or stream of conscious autobiography (Marker and Godard, particularly).  But neither is able to articulate their personality and give you a feel for who they might be as a person better than Varda does here.

Billy Wilder's Avanti!
It is the work of a great artist, later in career, working at a time when a youth style has taken over that is so different and foreign it threatens to immediately render the director archaic or a fake depending on the approach he chooses.  Aside from his nod to 8 1/2 (and perhaps to all of the new generation's emphasis on style) in the film's prelude, Wilder confidently and intelligently chooses to stay "classic" and the film derives its power by this bold stance.  It is like Dreyer post Nouvelle Vague giving us the UFO that is Gertrud or Bresson adding color but perhaps nothing else that is stylistically new to his oeuvre in 1983.  Of course, also giving Avanti! its charge is the effect of classic elements in the hands of a master - deeply felt acting (I can't remember ever liking Lemmon better), an intricately designed narrative and long scenes, built and captured slowly, eloquently and artfully.



Monday, November 6, 2017

Favorite (four), part forty-six

Just like in my other forty-five posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Abbas Kiarostami's The Traveler
In its one track pursuit and its tunnel focus on the young main character, it feels like a black and white predecessor to Where is the Friend's Home?.  It is quintessential Kiarostami in its lyricism, its softness, its feel for the land and its rhythms.  A couple of scenes, like the photography session in the schoolyard, rank as Kiarostami at his most inventive and most cinematic.  Kiarostami would later become a little more rigorous with his filmmaking, longer takes, less music, but already in this, his first film over an hour, he announces himself as a great, new humanistic force.

Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn
Herzog is in the Hollywood system as much as I have ever seen but comes through, for the most part, true to form.  Herzog finds in Bale another perfect embodiment for his distorted heroism and proves once again that he can bring out the jungle of the jungle better than anyone who has ever worked in the medium.  The movie falters towards the end when it seems Herzog is trying to grasp at some sort of Hollywood convention but otherwise the film finds a unique, compelling voice inside a well-worn genre.  

Lewis Milestone's Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
Having read that one of my favorite critics, Jonathan Rosenbaum, rated it in his best 100 films of all time, I was extremely curious to see it.  It is exactly the type of film Rosenbaum tends to champion.  It is not stylistically flashy nor even terribly entertaining; however, it tackles complex subject matter and it does so with an intelligence and narrative skill of a very high order.  I may not always agree with Rosenbaum, but it is hard for me to argue with this film deserving attention and great respect. 

Jacques Rozier's Adieu Philippine
I watched a version on YouTube without subtitles so was unable to catch every word.  But, the film feels like the male version of Jules et Jim, or in other words, one male and two females.  I don't know Rozier's cinema yet but if this film is any indication he has the New Wave's keen interest and eye for youth, female beauty and the sea. 



Friday, November 3, 2017

Top 10 films I most want to see

Les hautes solitudes (1974)
One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
Histoire(s) du cinema (1998)
The Traveler (1974)
Games of Love and Chance (2003)
The Devil, Probably (1977)
Love Streams (1984)
They All Laughed (1981)
Centre Stage (1991)
Triple Agent (2004)


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Favorite (four), part forty-five

Just like in my other forty-four posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Jean Eustache's Mes Petites Amoureuses
I have long been a fan of Eustache's The Mother and the Whore but have had some difficulty tracking down the rest of his work.  And I just took a quick peek at Wikipedia and had no idea this was his only other feature.  I knew he had committed suicide young but never knew he only ever made just two features (and a good number of shorts).  This film is extraordinary, capturing a thing that I have never before seen captured on film.  The best way I can describe it is the very early awakening of the male interest in females.  It gets into the awkwardness but more than that it gets into the deep yearning and romantic creation that goes on in the head of many young boys.  There are a number of flat out brilliant sequences including Daniel's first imaginings while on a train and his encounter with the young girl Francoise in the neighboring town.

Werner Herzog's Stroszek
One of my favorite feelings as a cinephile is finding a film by a director whose work I only partially know and being inspired to track down the rest of their films.  Not only did Stroszek make me want to watch the rest of Herzog that I haven't seen yet but also get on a path to completion for Fassbinder.  Stroszek had so many things that I like but in particular I was moved by the emotiveness of Bruno S., the raw painterly quality of the camerawork, and the fact that it seemed a missing predecessor for a number of 80s movies I like a great deal including Stranger Than Paradise and the first two Leos Carax features.  And the final ten minutes have to go down as one of the greatest in the history of the medium.  They had the silent power of Anotonioni's The Passenger and embodied the absurd freewheeling nature of early Dylan better than any movie I have ever seen.

Howard Deutch's Pretty in Pink
I actually had never seen this before in its entirety and sure I'm being sentimental, and sure I'm being overly nostalgic, but I think Hughes captured (or formed?) the zeitgeist of that time better than anyone else in American film.  I felt real chemistry whenever Ringwald or McCarthy was on screen and believed the music, the clothes, the colors, the record stores, and pretty much every other great detail of the Hughes world.  

Werner Herzog's Cobra Verde
Not an easy film.  In its disjointedness, it felt reminiscent of something Welles might have made in the 50s or 60s.  And as a rougher and rawer Aguirre, it had me thinking about Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, a pure creation from a master filmmaker who seemed to no longer care if his audience was following.  Yet, the passion of Herzog pushes way past any financial limitations.  His pet theme of human greed comes through as well as in anything of his I have seen and the brilliant images by the sea in the final minutes serve as the perfect illustration for the preoccupations that led him to make this very amorphous work.   


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Recent Twitter post

7YoungerFilmmakersI'mMostInterestedIn (cut off at 50 yo)
Gomes
Robert Mitchell
Saulnier
Mendonca Filho
Sciamma
Chazelle
Bonello
@colebrax


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Favorite (four), part forty-four

Just like in my other forty-three posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Gordon Douglas' The Detective
I had never heard of this film until recently when I saw it was programmed as part of a series at the Paris Cinematheque focused on late 60s and 70s American cop movies.  Sinatra proves he was once again a double-threat as a singer and actor, very comfortable in front of the camera and believable in a number of roles.  Bisset was gorgeous, reminiscent of  Julie Christie during this period, but even sexier and with an even more dangerous sensuality.  And the film, though raw and uneven, goes deeper than most detective films and gives a real sense of the feelings and conflicted morality many people in the profession must face.  

Stuart Samuels' Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream
A very informative look at a special era in American cinema.  Great interviews abound from Hoberman to Rosenbaum, Barenholtz to Romero, Waters to Lynch.  I finished watching and now want to go watch all five movies that are its focus - El Topo, Pink Flamingos, Night of the Living Dead, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Eraserhead.  

Terrence Young's Thunderball
Although not considered the best Connery as Bond film, of all that I have seen so far it is Connery at his most brash, his most handsome and at his toughest.  Yes, it has a bit of a bloated ending but there are so many other great moments that far outweigh its final minutes.

Claude Chabrol's Que La Bete Meure
Chabrol's work does not have the playfulness of Godard, Truffaut, or even Rohmer, so I am not quite drawn to it in the same way.  But I like the way he uses his camera, moving through frames, capturing details, gestures, expressions gracefully and silently.  The locations and nature bring a warmth that balances out the cold, calculating nature of Chabrol's filmmaking approach.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Jean Pierre and Luc

I have seen a number of filmmaker's favorite film lists but of all the ones I have seen so far this one probably affected me the most.  I am a fan of the Dardenne brothers so it is not shocking that their list would align eerily close to my own (even if 10-15 films on their list are still blind spots for me).

But the Rossellinis, yes!  The Pialats and Bressons, yes!  And the Kiarostamis, are the Dardenne brothers reading my blog?

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/08/dardenne-brothers-favorite-films-streaming-1201864264/


Sunday, August 6, 2017

#7Fav

Recently I was inspired by a list that had been circulating on my Twitter Feed where people had been naming their seven favorite films in a certain category.  I had seen #7Fav Film Noir lists, I think John Ford lists and maybe even John Carpenter lists.

Since I do like lists and am always trying to think about how my ratings of certain things change over time, I thought I would do a week or so of my #7Favs on Twitter.  I started with my two favorite periods of film, the French New Wave and the New Hollywood of the seventies, and then I went forward through the decades alternating French and American films.  

Here is where I ended up below:

#Fav2010sAmericanFilms
The Tree of Life
Margaret
Zero Dark Thirty
At Berkeley
La La Land
Carol
Only Lovers Left Alive

#7Fav2010sFrenchFilms
Film Socialisme
Carlos
Tomboy
Blue is the Warmest Color
Saint Laurent
Goodbye to Language
Clouds of Sils Maria

#7Fav2000sAmericanFilms
Our song
Mulholland dr
Funny Ha Ha
Femme fatale
All the Real Girls
No Direction Home
No Country for Old Men

#7Fav2000sFrenchFilms
Under the sand
Va savoir
Etre et avoir
Les amants reguliers
Secret and the Grain
Love Songs
35 Shots of Rum

#7Fav90sAmericanFilms
My own private idaho
Trust
Metropolitan
King of new york
Carlito's way
Heat
Dead man

#7Fav90sFrenchFilms
Oublie-moi
A Single Girl
JLG/JLG
A Summer's Tale
How I Got into An Argument...(My Sex Life)
Van Gogh
Thieves

#7Fav80sAmericanFilms
Blow Out
Stranger Than Paradise
Melvin and Howard
Blue Velvet
Sherman's March
The Thing
The Big Red One

#7Fav80sFrenchFilms
The Green Ray
L'argent
Boy Meets Girl
Mauvais Sang
Loulou
Full Moon in Paris
A nos amours

#7FavNewHollywoodFilms
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Shampoo
Taxi Driver
The Godfather
Five Easy Pieces
Night Moves
The French Connection

#7FavNovelleVagueFilms
Shoot the Piano Player
Pierrot Le Fou
Vivre Sa Vie
La jetee
Les cousins
Breathless
Cleo de 5 a 7


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Favorite (four), part forty-three

Just like in my other forty-two posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer
Ritchie is definitely a filmmaker that I am now far more curious about, having seen Smile (with him in person), The Bad New Bears and now this.  He has an auteur's deep feel for character and the freewheeling sensibility of Altman and Demme.  The soft shape of scenes and the way he slows down time during some of the races are what most affected me with this one.  I look forward to continuing to investigate more of his work, particularly The Candidate and Prime Cut.  

Michael Ritchie's The Candidate
Further proof of the Ritchie style being similar to Altman and his loose, freewheeling 70s work.  Redford puts in another confident, affecting low-key performance and the surrounding cast, particularly Boyle and Garfield, are unusually strong.  Ritchie surely deserves a much larger reputation.

Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man
Having recently been in Alaska,  I was especially interested in seeing this now even if it had been on my radar since first coming out.  Herzog's unique sensibility and world view really come through and his restraint and humanism were surprising given what I thought I knew about him.  It is far from Wiseman's world of documentary but it is still of great interest with a different type of rigor.  

Richard Rush's Freebie and the Bean
A movie that had never hit my radar until about a week ago even though it stars James Caan and Alan Arkin and was made during my favorite period of American film, the Seventies.  The Stunt Man was the only movie I had seen by Rush, and though it had a huge reputation, it never meant very much to me.  Freebie is a bit of a challenge, a loose, messy installment in the buddy cop movie that cares less for plot and narrative logic and more for feel and character.  It has great feel, for instance, for San Francisco and shows us areas of the city I don't feel I have ever seen before on film.  And it has great feel for character.  The bond between Freebie and Bean is deep and most remarkable is that Rush makes us feel the bond simply by having us hang out with them for a couple of hours.