Friday, April 30, 2010

Favorites Wrap-Up

Favorites Wrap-Up  
Inspired by Dave Hicks over at the tremendous Goodfella's Movie Blog, starting on February 4th I decided to post on my favorite film from each year from 1926-2008.  It's been the most satisfying blogging I've ever done, and I particularly wanted to thank three people who stopped in almost every single day to dialogue with me: Dave Hicks, Sam Juliano, and John Greco.  I can't thank everyone enough who took the time to participate in the countdown.  It's definitely been the highlight of the last several months for me.  


One of the most exciting things about the countdown to me is that it's identified many more films I still want to see.  The list is now a permanent fixture on this blog.  And it's my hope that it will continue to be a source of interaction for you and me.  I will continue filling in the gaps, and each time I see a new film, I will add a short post on it, in red, to its respective year.  I encourage you, as you continue to discover new things, to come back to their respective years and add these films to the conversation, as well.  


To this end, I have added a new column on the right side of my blog, entitled "Recently Watched".  Each time I see something new, I will add it here, along with the short post under its respective year.  I will also continue posting here about my upcoming film, Peril, as well as about any other major moviegoing experiences I have.  


Thank you all for being such great friends of this blog.  You are among the most inspiring cinephiles I have ever met, and I look forward to continuing to follow all your incredible contributions.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2008: Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy)

2008: Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy) 
This will be the final year I'll tackle.  I wasn't able to see enough last year to confidently put together a post.  But I will do one more post tomorrow, wrapping up the countdown and discussing a little about where we go from here.  


Tulpan, in terms of its bravura filmmaking, could be seen as the rural counterpart to my 2007 entry.  If I had to guess, the film probably has less than 100 cuts.  However, it covers a lot of ground.  It's one of these rare films that pushes my understanding of what's possible in the medium and forces me to reconsider the directions in which I'd like to go.  In fact, if somebody said that I have an endless amount of time and money to do my next project, I would love to take the Mungiu or Dvortsevoy approach.  To me, in terms of sheer technique, this is the most exciting filmmaking I have seen in many, many years. 


What's most inspiring to me about Dvortsevoy's approach is the way he's able to meld a virtuosic spirit with the most quotidian of subjects. It's as if Orson Welles or Stanley Kubrick suddenly took on neorealism. The approach feels completely groundbreaking and new to me.  And when I watch certain scenes, of course the birthing of the lamb is the first come to mind, I feel like the approach is able to produce unprecedented effects and emotions.


Some people bemoan the death of cinema.  But incredibly brave filmmakers like this will continue to open up new doors and directions. I for one continue to believe that the medium is still very young, and that we are only starting to see all its great possibilities.  


Other contenders for 2008: From this year , I still have some things to see.  These include: Stephen Daldry's The Reader, Andrew Stanton's Wall-E, Claire Denis' 35 Shots of Rum, Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours, Abel Ferrara's Chelsea on the Rocks, Hong Sang-soo's Night and Day, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Tokyo Sonata, Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale, Hirokazu Kore-ada's Still Walking, and Ole Christian Madsen's Flame & Citron.  At some point, I'll need to revisit Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler as I struggled a little with it the one time I saw it.  But from this year, I really like Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Lorna's Silence.  I loved Megumi Sasaki's Herb and Dorothy and Claire Denis' 35 Shots of Rum.  And my closest runner-up is Gus Van Sant's Milk.


4/9/10 I watched Claire Denis' 35 Shots of Rum.  The style is absolutely sublime, and I thought Denis sustained poetry and nuance as well as I have ever seen her do.  Perhaps slightly too elusive at times but overall just really powerful stuff for me.  

12/18/10 I watched Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale.  It's an ambitious work, and at times, Desplechin almost feels like he's inventing a whole new kind of film.  It's modern and moves from lyrical moments to pretty intellectual highs with stylistic ease.  Desplechin is wonderful with actors and a real talent, but here I thought he could have benefitted from subtracting some things.  Not every subplot is satisfying, and the final feel of the film was a bit blurred as a result of its overreaching.


12/19/10 I watched So Yong Kim’s Treeless Mountain.  It’s all one piece -- the colors, the texture, and the mood.  And it’s all done in an incredibly deliberate and artful way.  But I never felt very much, and it all felt a bit claustrophobic to me, with its insistence on filming almost everything in extreme close-up.  


12/23/10 I watched Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Tokyo Sonata.  Kurosawa's lightest and most accessible work I've seen.  It's great to see the director working outside of genre and in territory that's already been masterfully done by Kitano (Fireworks) and Yang (Yi Yi).  Restrained but lyrical with the best final scene I've seen all year.  A wonderful film.    

12/25/10 I watched Kristopher Belman's More Than a Game.  As somewhat of a former athlete, I'm a sucker for this type of story, and much of this side of Lebron James' rise was unfamiliar to me.  I was inspired by the friendship and obstacles these young guys had to overcome.  And I was moved by Coach Jones' struggle.  Not always the most well-made doc, but a story worth telling.


12/28/10 I watched Wendy Keys' Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight.  Glaser is an interesting person, who was unknown to me before the film.  But the film never finds a terribly riveting way to present him, and I found myself questioning why I was spending this much time with him.  


12/28/10 I watched Antonio Campos' Afterschool.  Clinical and carnal, feels like an American Dumont or Noe.  Air-tight in its calculations and from a distance.  But suspect whenever it approached anything human and more realistic.  


12/29/10 I watched Pablo Larrain's Tony Manero.  Quite the dreary affair.  Exquisite camerawork, at times, and some wonderful performances, but oppressive with seemingly little to no reason.  


12/30/10 I watched Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles. Linklater keeps things buoyant, and it all has a pretty charming and harmless spirit.  And McKay, at times, bears a remarkable resemblance to Welles himself.  Just felt a bit incomplete to me.  Welles' lack of doubt made it hard for me to fully connect to him, and I wasn't always sure what to do with Efron.   

1/2/11 I watched Oliver Assayas' Summer Hours.  Assayas brings a realism and vitality that I greatly admire.  And the acting and characters are all incredibly satisfying.  But Assayas seems unwilling to stop and give any one moment too much weight and importance.  While this might be the secret behind his cinema's energy, it also diminishes its weight ultimately.  And isn't it strange that the family would allow a big party to be held at the home, as a new owner buys it and prepares to take it over?


1/4/11 I watched Tim Disney's American Violet.  It's a pretty traditional David v Goliath story, but there are some moments where this smaller budget indy acquits itself well.  I enjoyed Will Patton and Anthony Mackie, as always.  And newcomer Nicole Behaire does a pretty fine job, too.  Just wish it was a little more imaginative in terms of its use of music, and some of its directorial approach.  


1/7/11 I watched Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler.  Of the Aronofsky I've seen, it's the one I like the most so far.  But I still find him to be someone that enjoys causing the audience pain.  And his esthetic, at times, the jump cuts and ugly cinematography, really don't do it for me.   


1/8/11 I watched Gerardo Neranjo's I'm Gonna Explode.  The film the most influenced by Pierrot Le Fou that I've ever seen.  And when it's really riffing on one of my all-time faves, I think it's at its strongest.  But it neither has Godard's wisdom, incredible sense of humor, nor formal inventiveness.  Plus Maru has nowhere near the beauty of Anna Karina. And so its energy wanes about halfway in.


1/13/11 I watched Lance Daly's Kisses.  Had a lot of heart, but the filmmaking, and most of everything else, felt pretty thin to me.  


1/14/11 I watched Lisandro Alonso's Liverpool.  As incredibly beautiful as it is painfully slow.  An art film with a big ole capital A, the kind that would have Pauline Kael turning over in her grave.  


1/19/11 I watched Steve Jacobs' Disgrace.  A tough movie for me to get a handle on, not really sure what the filmmakers were hoping to say.  At times, I felt it was entirely nihilistic, while other moments made me think there was a sliver of hopeful outlook within these rough circumstances.  All in all, a little mixed on it as the characters' motivations seemed unfounded in any reality I could fully recognize.    


1/22/11 I watched Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York.  I'm in a huge minority, someone that has always struggled with Kaufman's work, and it's not really a different story here.  I admire his quirky outlook and his unique modernism, but emotionally and intellectually I just end up frustrated.  The acting's quite impressive though and so are some of Elmes' visuals.

1/30/11 I watched Hirokazu Koreeda's Still Walking.  The third of the director's films I've seen, and he continues to be among my favorite of all the contemporary Asian directors.  He's definitely a humanist, and there are moments that carry a tremendous power.  Not perfect, I particularly found a little fault with the saccharine nature of some of the score.  But all in all a memorable effort from one of the few directors still carrying Ozu's torch. 


2/12/11 I watched Joe Swanberg's Nights and Weekends.  It was my first experience with a Swanberg film, and I certainly liked it much more than I expected.  The writing at times was very sharp, and I liked how uninhibited and intimate it could be.  It also captured feelings and things about life in one's twenties that seem rare on screen.  But I don't like Swanberg much as an actor, and there's something smug about his overall tone and approach.  

3/24/11 I watched Abel Ferrara's Chelsea on the Rocks.  Made with Ferrara's typical deceptively unpolished style,  a strong documentary from the ever probing auteur.  The material is perfect for Ferrara as he's able to filter the seediness of the Chelsea into his own debauched yet weirdly humanistic perspective. Certainly not for everyone, but fans of Ferrara will feel his work continues to evolve and excel.  

6/4/11 I watched Nash Edgerton's The Square.  I didn't care very much for the ending.  But Edgerton definitely shows skill at the genre and a real inventiveness at times both in terms of his plotting and filmmaking.  Will be interesting to see what he does next.


2/4/12 I watched Hong Sang-soo's Night and Day.  There is something really impressive about Hong's cinema, and he is perhaps the greatest successor to Rohmer that we have right now.  The use of the zoom was particularly masterful here.  But the film ends up being overly long and pretty unlikeable and cold by the time it comes to a close.  

11/27/15 I watched Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace.  After a very positive experience with Casino Royale, I had high expectations for this next film in the Craig/Bond series.  I have never been a fan of Forster's work though and this one proves in my mind yet again that he is neither a great builder of character nor an action director with any real inspiration.  

9/25/17 I watched Adam McKay's Step Brothers.  Some funny moments for sure although it does not have the shape or heart of the the very best comedies.  

11/17/17 I watched 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.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2007: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)

2007: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
It only seems apt that the two directorial achievements that most impressed me over the last decade are my final two picks of the countdown.  


I have long been interested in the idea of an aesthetic that captures the real with methods that are precise and  formal.  It's a difficult balance to strike as many films aiming for something more formal usually end up distancing themselves from reality.  Meanwhile, films that want to feel real will often end up sacrificing a formal system for something more intimate and immediate.   


When I saw Mungiu's film, I was shocked at how well he was able to achieve this balance as I describe it above.  His film is one of the most technically complex films I have ever seen.  Yet, somehow he is able to insert this approach into something that always feels incredibly real and alive.  


I guess we can chalk it up to many things: acting, writing, production design, lighting, and cinematography.  In other words, filmmaking.  It seems that everything must be working in great harmony for Mungiu to achieve this result.  


All I can say is I can't think of a more harrowing scene than the negotiation with the "doctor".  Nor can I think of a scene more rife with tension than when Otilia and Adi attend the birthday party.  This is filmmaking of the highest order.  Brave, emotional, and one of the most remarkable achievements I can remember seeing in a very long time.      



Other contenders for 2007: From this year, I still have some things to see.  These include:  Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton, Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Catherine Breillat's The Last Mistress, Pedro Costa's Colossal Youth, Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jacques Rivette's Don't Touch the Axe, and Abderrahmane Sissako's Bamako. At some point, I need to revisit Joe Wright's Atonement as I did struggle with it a little the one time I saw it.  But I do really like The Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, Grant Gee's Joy Division, Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales, and David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises.  I love Tina Mascara and Guido Santi's Chris & Don. A Love Story.  And my closest runner-up is Garth Jennings' Son of Rambow.  


12/22/10 I watched Aaron Katz's Quiet City.  Light and sweet, Katz has heart, and it shows.  I don't find his writing as interesting as Bujalski's, nor his ability to capture nuance and awkwardness as skilled as Bujalski's talents.  But Katz has some of David Gordon Green's feeling for sound/image and creates a couple of tremendous moments here. The scene of the four young adults dancing at the house party might be my favorite scene all year.  I look forward to seeing more of Katz.  It's works like this one that continue to keep me interested in mumblecore and somewhat optimistic about micro-budget filmmaking.  


12/23/10 I watched Cristian Nemescu's California Dreamin'.  Some interesting subtext about Americans and their relationship to the outside world.  But the filmmaking all felt a bit sloppy, overlong, and haphazard.  


1/6/10 I watched Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.  There's much to recommend here, even though a strong emotional connection is not one of them.  Deakins and Cave both do some brilliant work, and Deakins' blurry effect is particularly noteworthy.  Probably most noteworthy though is Casey Affleck.  It's an incredibly interesting performance that makes me think we might see some extraordinary work from him in the very near future. The length of this one is probably my biggest problem with it, although its emotional distance can make it somewhat frustrating, as well.  

1/31/11 I watched Catherine Breillat's The Last Mistress.  Breillat does sex and shock very well, but both of these run their course after awhile if the depth and humanity aren't there.  I like some of Breillat's work a good bit, but this one hardly connected at all with me. 


2/6/11 I watched Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton.  It's in the vein of some of my favorite films, The Insider and All the President's Men.  The script here is exceptional, and Clooney is wonderful in the part.  Elswit also shoots with great care and precision.  I just wish they had found someone a little more subtle than Newton Howard to do the score, and I'm completely unconvinced by where they chose to leave things (should have come earlier or later and in a different way).  As is, just feels anti-climatic and a disservice to much of the good work preceding it.

2/25/11 I watched Chris Smith's The Pool.  Only having seen his doc, American Movie, I wasn't sure what to expect here, but it seems like a total departure.  Smith brings a clean, naturalistic style to this tale, and his level of restraint is most impressive.  He never, I don't think, gives us a close-up, when it would be such an easy way out.  After awhile, I didn't feel the tale really built on itself, but I was glad to know that it exists.  It's a very unique American narrative film. 

10/6/11 I watched Jacques Rivette's Don't Touch the Axe.  I'm still trying to fully embrace Rivette.  His approach is pure, rigorous, and entirely admirable.  But it's so leisurely and devoid of any real entertainment value, plus inclined to period work, that I ultimately find it quite distancing. 


10/11/11 I watched Ronald Bronstein's Frownland.  Definitely an indy UFO worth a look and worthy of discussion.  It's like a more abrasive, in-your-face Clean, Shaven.  Disturbing, frustrating, and utterly original, will be interesting to see what sort of career Bronstein will have.  It's much more interesting than Aronofsky's Pi;  just too bad we're no longer in 1998.  

8/2/14 I watched Kent Jones' Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows.  Jones could be an esteemed documentarian or a well known one if that was his desired path.  He is among the most astute and articulate of English-speaking cinephiles and his homage to Lewton is proof yet again (as if he needed anything else to support that claim).  Jones gives us a succinct yet heartfelt essay on the producer who should be far more of a household name.  His two hands full of films deserve to be an even greater part of the conversation and I imagine their reputation will only continue to grow as the years pass.  A required look for anyone interested in knowing more about the great Lewton.  

5/24/15 I watched Gerald Peary's For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism.  Covered a decent amount of familiar ground for me, but I still really appreciated it, particularly for bringing some of the earlier American critics to my attention (Woods, Lindsay and Sherwood) and for finally providing some faces for what are now very familiar names. 

10/26/15 I watched Abdellatif Kechiche's The Secret and the Grain.  The fact that this masterful work is little known in the States sums up the devastated state for the current American cinephile.  To seek out a film like this in 2015 is to be so incredibly marginalized, so alone in your interest and passsion, to survive you might have to focus on the positive of having been able to have somehow spotted Kechiche's achievement among the overwhelming wreckage.  Kechiche's cinema is up to so much all at once.  Formally it is a unique mixing of Dardenne ingredients (non-actors, industrial locations, faded colors, lack of Hollywood coverage) with Cassavetes' nervy, documentary-type editing.  Emotionally it is an odd pairing of Scorsese's visceral moments of discomfort coupled with Rossellini's mystic humanism.  It is a much different film than the only other film I have seen so far from Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Color and yet another modern day classic.  Kechiche is one of the greats, regardless whether our culture even knows who he is.    

10/27/15 I watched Christophe Honore's Love Songs.  Less seemingly interested in Demy's bourgeois milieu and more in sync with the angst and edge of early Carax, Honore is so very French.  While he has some of the early New Wave's playfulness and Desplechin's interest in the twenty set his sensibility veers off into this strange terrain of gothic and poetic alienation.  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2006: L'enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)


2006: L'enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne) 
I saw La promesse and Rosetta in theaters when they first came out.  I was lukewarm on both and then ignored the next ten years worth of Dardenne releases.  But finally after some prodding and encouragement from friends, I caught up with L'enfant, The Son, and Lorna's Silence. I tell you all this to explain that I've done a complete about-face on these directors and now consider their work one of the most interesting things going right now.  I haven't gone back and revisited their earlier work yet, but I would assume I would have a much more favorable reaction to it now, too.  

More than anything, I respect that the Dardennes, like Kiarostami and Hou Hsiao-hsien, have a real formal system guiding their work.  It's conceived with great thought and then executed with laser precision. The three later films I mention above all feel very Bressonian to me, though I can't concede quite yet that the Dardennes' heights of transcendence are on the same level as the great French director. 

But I greatly admire the level of restraint they exhibit throughout their work.  I also respect the lively, real performances the Dardennes are able to elicit.  They came up making documentaries, and their ability to create a "real", fictional world is far superior to most.  

For the moment, the brothers might be just a notch below Bresson, but the chase sequence in this one rivals, and maybe even surpasses, the great heist scene on the train in Pickpocket.  I'm excited to see whatever they do from here.  I truly think they're among today's masters.    


Other contenders for 2006: From this year, I still have some things to see.  These include: Jafar Panahi's Offside, Hou Hsiao-hsien's Cafe Lumiere, Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, Spike Lee's Inside Man, Pedro Almodovar's Volver, Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, Abbas Kiarostami's Roads of Kiarostami, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others, and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth.  I really like Stephen Frears' The Queen.  And my closest runner-up is Hou Hsiao-hsien's Three Times.  

11/23/10 I watched Shane Meadows' This Is England.  Meadows has energy, verve, and a very good way with his actors.  Stephen Graham, in particular, is spot-on and incredibly dangerous every moment he's on screen.  Meadows can be a little overwrought at times for my taste.  And I'd prefer a little more shape to his storytelling.  But all in all, a pretty enjoyable flick.  

11/26/10 I watched Emanuele Crialese's Golden Door.  Gainsbourg is incredibly compelling, and it's a nice tale about a part of Ellis Island entry that I've never heard.  Moving, at times, though the the flights of fancy didn't always completely jell for me.  

12/17/10 I watched Pedro Almodovar's Volver.  It's a complex tale about regret, artfully delivered by Almodovar.  Some of it might be a little messy and slack, but Cruz delivers a weighty performance that makes it all pretty worthwhile.

12/31/10 I watched Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others.  The director does a very fine job of going into expected places, and coming out of them with unexpected solutions.  He's at his very most successful in the film's final moment.  This idea of doing things for others, selfless, without expecting acclaim or recognition and no matter the consequences, affected me pretty deeply.  A bit too clean, and Hollywood neat at times in its formal approach.  But definitely a story patiently, and very intelligently told.  

1/25/11 I watched Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain.  It's a bit too elusive for my taste, and Weisz didn't completely captivate me as I would need to be from her role.  But Mansell proves once again that he's among the most talented composers in the world, and Jackman actually impressed me more than ever.  

11/26/11 I watched Tsai Ming-liang's I Don't Want to Sleep Alone. Tsai's cinema is remarkably consistent from film to film, thematically, rhythmically, and formally.  No one does loneliness and modern alienation, post-Antonioni, as well as Tsai.  And there's a repressed sexuality about his work that's as strong in its charge as Lynch, Cronenberg, or anyone else.

7/28/12 I watched Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin's loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies.  Borderline boring doc about an extremely interesting group.  Never goes into what made these guys who they were, and after awhile the surface approach becomes frustrating.  

8/9/12 I watched Stephen Kijak's Scott Walker: 30 Century Man.  What I liked most is the fact that the filmmakers don't shy away from Walker's darkness.  The film is granted nice access to Walker, and I certainly left with somewhat of a better understanding.  Could have gone deeper and could have explored Walker's quip about "imbibing".  But all in all a worthy doc if you're interested in learning a little more about Scott Walker.  

11/23/12 I watched Ha Yoo's A Dirty Carnival.  There's a visceral energy and an angle of originality that make this gangster epic of immediate interest.  The lead character sucks you in and this world of violence without guns at first feels all the more disturbing.  But a little too much of everything by the end had me more worn down than inspired.  

6/9/13 I watched Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.  Up to now, I have been skeptical of Coppola's approach - wall-to-wall hipness masking a questionable amount of depth.  And the same issues could certianly be raised here.  Yet I found her style fitting this time around, allowing us to feel Marie's listlessness and difficulties in an effective way that a more traditional, period piece may not have given us.

11/26/15 I watched Martin Campbell's Casino Royale.  It is the first time I have seen a Craig-starring Bond film and he is quite good.  First of all he might be the strongest actor of all of the Bonds and he just exudes the unusual mix of charm and guile I have come to think of with Bond.  The big difference is his Bond is a little more violent, a little more hands-on, more often full of visible scratches and bruises than boyish and dapper.  This Bond is a bit at the end of his line and Campbell/Craig seem to have a good thing going on.  The movie is non-stop action and although not always artful it is very good entertainment.  

11/14/16 I watched Bong Joon-ho's The Host.  It is an impressively large-scaled South Korean production that Les Inrockuptibles consider very highly.  It might have a lot to say about government, media, and the frenzies created around potential threats and viruses.  Unfortunately it is tough for me to take seriously, beyond its slick spectacle, as well done as it may be.  

6/20/17 I watched Andy Fickman's She's the Man.  Not the type of movie I normally watch but cute for what it was and Bynes has tons of charm to spare.

10/23/17 I watched 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 more Hollywood convention but otherwise it finds a unique, compelling voice within a well-worn genre.

Monday, April 26, 2010

2005: Les amants reguliers (Philippe Garrel)

2005: Les amants reguliers (Philippe Garrel) 
I love to lose myself in certain movies, particularly those movies that abandon more traditional time structures and suck you into their temporal vortex.  I'm thinking of movies like McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Mother and the Whore, and this 2005 entry from Philippe Garrel.  I had the good fortune of seeing it in a Parisian theater and remember leaving transformed with a completely different viewpoint for the next couple of days.

The first half of the film, the 1968 riot footage, is shot in such an obscure way that it helps further push the viewer into this other space. By the time we arrive in the more drug-induced part of the film, there's a certain hazy quality that is now shared between film and viewer.

A challenging film, I would say.  But also one of the more poetic and audacious films I've seen in a long time.  Garrel, along with longtime Rivette collaborator DP William Lubtchansky, create a unique, cinematic world that after 183 minutes seems to end far too soon.


Other contenders for 2005:  From this year, I still have some things to see.  These include: Steven Spielberg's Munich, Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, Hong Sang-soo's Tale of Cinema, Alain Resnais' Not on the Lips, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady, Lajos Koltai's Fateless, Philip Groning's Into Great Silence, and Jacques Audiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped.  I've struggled a little with Terrence Malick's The New World  the couple of times I've seen it.  Yet, I know that many people I respect and admire place this one extremely high.  I'm not sure exactly what's keeping me from embracing it fully, but I haven't gotten there quite yet.  From this year though I really like Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain and Bennett Miller's Capote even if I can't say either is a close runner-up.  

12/8/10 I watched Craig Brewer's Hustle & Flow.  Brewer brings both a tremendous vitality and heart to the film.  And Howard's performance is delivered with such an amazing amount of conviction.  Perhaps slightly messy and overwrought at times.  But a film that deserved to put Brewer firmly on the map.  It's also a film that hits on things such as the incredible vulnerability and anxiety that come with trying to be discovered and the grit and hustle necessary to achieve success in a creative profession.  


12/15/10 I watched Steven Spielberg's Munich.  Some of my reservations with Spielberg are on display -- his questionable sense of humor, his lapses into sentimentality, and his taste in music.  But it's also as clear as ever that when he puts his mind to it his formal skills are up there with any of the masters.  The action sequences -- the opening of the film, when Avner first flashes back to "Black Sunday" while asleep on the airplane, the phone bomb, the attempted killing in London, and the first murder in Italy -- are all incredible in their grace, energy, and effectiveness.  In fact, they are probably the strongest set of action sequences I've seen since Heat.  A film with several flaws, overly wordy, overlong, and uneven.  But when it's great, it's a classic.      

1/2/11 I watched Stephen Gaghan's Syriana.  There are some very nice moments.  But Gaghan feels like he's trying to tell us the story of the world, and it all feels a little overcooked to me.  Taking on so many intersecting stories, I also found myself having trouble fully connecting to anyone.  Wright's character particularly felt a bit distant.  Desplat does some very strong work though.  I just wish Gaghan didn't feel the need to hit us wall-to-wall with it.


1/28/11 I watched Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven.  The director's cut of this one has a pretty big reputation among some of the blogosphere critics, and it could very well differ dramatically from this cut I just saw. This one though had little to keep my attention or to impress.  It had almost no moments for me and felt messy all around.  


2/5/11 I watched Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds.   Really didn't connect with it at all.  I like Tom Cruise as an action star, but this one just seemed devoid of any true tension, for the most part, and in serious need of some depthful characters.  As is, I just found it very boring and cold.


12/31/11 I watched Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home.  Should go down as one of the greatest of all Scorsese films and the single best doc on Dylan.  It's moving, informative, incredibly cinematic, and really captures the great one at his absolute, creative peak.  

7/28/12 I watched Tim Irwin's We Jam Econo - The Story of the Minutemen.  Great doc in just how intimate and up close it puts you with the band.  About as satisfying of a portrait of a band as I have ever seen on film - between the long, un-cut performance footage to the informal dialogue with the band.

7/28/12 I watched Lian Lunson's Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.  I loved it when Leonard or someone else was talking about Leonard.  I was less interested hearing others sing his songs.  Overall, a worthwhile watch, I guess, for the real fan, but otherwise a bit underwhelming.

8/5/12 I watched Greg Whiteley's New York Doll.  A satisfying look at the mythical group.  Would have loved a little more vintage footage but moving and redemptive for this band that never fully got its due.

6/11/17 I watched 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.  

8/19/17 I watched 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.  

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lullaby/Peril Updates

Probably the single best way to keep up with The Last Lullaby and Peril is to receive our monthly e-mail updates.  All you have to do is send an e-mail to register@thelastlullaby.com or register@perilthemovie.com

Here's a copy of our latest update that went out this past Friday:


THE LAST LULLABY (AND) PERIL UPDATE 
April 23, 2010
 
Thank you all for taking time to register for our updates. Today I will cover four topics:
 
- MovieMaker Reboot!
 
- Next Peril Event
 
- Lullaby News
- Other Fun Stuff
 


MovieMaker Reboot!


I'm very excited to announce that I have resumed my blog with MovieMaker, "the world's best-selling independent movie magazine".  MovieMaker has decided to reboot my favorite film from 1926-2008 series that I have been doing for the last several months over at the LULLABY/PERIL blog.  This reboot will bring a whole new audience to the series, and I hope some of you will visit, too:
http://www.moviemaker.com/blog/category/i_found_it_at_the_movies/


I also will be documenting LULLABY/PERIL on my new blog for MovieMaker. 
*For most of last year, I blogged weekly for MovieMaker. These posts can be found here:  
http://www.moviemaker.com/blog/category/adventures_in_self_releasing/







Next Peril Event


All is going great with PERIL. One of the most fun things we've been doing lately is periodic chats on the internet, using ustream.  This technology allows everyone to tune in at a certain time, see and hear me, and converse using a chat box.  We have our next ustream chat this Tuesday at 9PM, CST.  All of you can tune in from your computer, anywhere in the world, simply by visiting: 

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/prize-for-our-next-target-2-000-fans

An account with ustream is free, but you will need to sign up in order to enable a chat box.  It's a great, new tool. And here's video from our last ustream chat to give you a sense of how they work:
http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2010/04/video-from-this-weeks-peril-chat_11.html







Lullaby News


I will keep you posted on new developments for THE LAST LULLABY.  In the upcoming issue of Videoscope magazine (http://www.videoscopemag.com/), there is a wonderful review of the film as well as a fantastic piece, written about LULLABY by Max Allan Collins.  There's also this really nice interview I did recently: http://www.erbzine.com/mag31/3113.html





Other Fun Stuff

And just a reminder: over at the PERIL Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=249626084292&ref=ts), we're doing a daily movie trivia game.  Each day's winner will be entered into a drawing to win a role as an extra while we're filming PERIL.  The movie trivia game will continue until we hit 3,000 members.  At that time, we'll have the drawing.  We're having fun with it, and I hope that many of you will join the group and come play with us. 
Lastly, as I mentioned in my previous update, I have created several places for people to begin following PERIL.  Here are all the different places we have so far. I hope that many of you will join us here:
  
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=249626084292&ref=ts 
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Peril/266972237358?ref=ts
http://twitter.com/chaillotfilms 
e-mail updates (simply send an e-mail to register@perilthemovie.com) 
Thank you all for your incredible support.  I couldn't be more excited about the road ahead.  As always, if you have any questions, hit reply and your e-mail will come to me. 
Please keep spreading the word!  You guys are the best. 
Jeffrey Goodman
Director  
THE LAST LULLABY (AND) PERIL 
www.thelastlullaby.com 
Chaillot Films

2004: Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)

2004: Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood) 
A tough year for me to choose.  The Fuller film really blew me away.  But I finally gave the year to Clint as he just strikes me as a model of simplicity, modest craftsmanship, and intelligence that seems somewhat special in today's landscape.

I do like more audacious cinema, and I often find myself wowed and inspired by some of the medium's greater stylists, but minimalism and simplicity at the height of post-modernism also feels most welcome.  I won't deny that this one can be overly-sentimental at times.  But I think it has real heart, three strong performances (Eastwood, Freeman, and Swank), and a really nice look, too.

I keep wondering, who will carry on this tradition of classicism and professionalism once Clint is gone?  I really think he's one of the treasures of American cinema. 

Other contenders for 2004:  From this year, I still have some titles to see.  These include: Eric Rohmer's Triple Agent, Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education, Zhuangzhuang Tian's Springtime in a Small Town, Oliver Hirschbiegel's Downfall, Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Bahman Ghobadi's Turtles Can Fly, Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski's Born Into Brothels, and Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade.  I love Hong Sang-soo's Woman Is the Future of Man.  And my closest runner-up is Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One: The Reconstruction.  

1/28/11 I watched Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.  DiCaprio was terrific, as I always think he is, and the movie, when it's really dealing with Hughes and all he went through, is quite affecting.  But I found it too meandering, deviod of enough insight into Hughes' real motivations, and a bit flat whenever Blanchett as Hepburn was on screen.


2/2/11 I watched Wong Kar-Wai's 2046.  I'm not sure anyone has been more inventive formally in the last twenty years than Wong Kar-Wai. And I'm pretty sure no one uses slo-mo in a more refreshing and unique way.  But here his style seems to really overwhelm a story that's in desperate need of some shape and some depthful characters.  


3/18/11 I watched Arnaud Desplechin's Kings & Queen.  There's a vitality and playfulness at times that make Desplechin feel like the most correct, contemporary successor of the French New Wave.  But with this vitality comes a certain messiness and muddiness that I often find trying and frustrating.  No doubt Desplechin is a sharp writer and wonderful with actors, particularly his women.  I find though he lacks a filter that keeps his films from really floating, in the way of my favorite works of the Nouvelle Vague.  

4/22/11 I watched Hirokazu Koreeda's Nobody Knows.  Feels like a pretty big departure for the director.  Whereas most of his films tend towards a poetic reality, this film seems under the influence of the Dardenne brothers.  I prefer the other Koreeda though, as this one is unable to elevate itself above a study of misery.  Specifically, the director doesn't seem to possess the Dardenne brothers' ability to offer those real moments of transcendence in the midst of bleakness and despair. 

7/4/11 I watched Bahman Ghobadi's Turtles Can Fly.  A bit more stylized than A Time for Drunken Horses and perhaps slightly too melodramatic.  But a hard, unflinching look at a part of the world that we rarely see. 


7/17/11 I watched Sean Baker's Take Out.  It's really part of one of my less favorite tendencies in American independent cinema right now.  That is, an inexpensive naturalism that consists of almost non-stop extreme close-ups, handheld camerawork, and a claimed continuation of Italian neo-realism.  I don't see it though.  These American films don't have the budgets to show enough of the world to make us feel like we're seeing things how they really are. 


10/3/11 I watched Eric Rohmer's Triple Agent.  Another example of Rohmer's sly, one-of-a-kind filmmaking.  But this one appealed a little less to me as I missed Rohmer's more contemporary trappings.  


10/17/11 I watched Claire Denis' L'intrus.  The most challenging of the Denis films I've seen so far.  Filmmaking of the highest order as she is truly one of the most gifted filmmakers working today, but her sensory experiments go too far for me here.  I like the wanderings but finally want something to bind it all together, and it never comes.  

10/18/16 I watched Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education.  Almodovar seems to be growing as a stylist as he gets older.  This one is complex, full of elegant camera movements and full of tricky dissolves, iris shots and other cinematic flair.  Almodovar is in Hitch territory which he does quite well even if I do not think it is an ideal fit for his daring wit and deep empathy for the outsider.  

10/23/16 I watched Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.  Anderson's 8 1/2 is visually impressive and beautifully art directed but his fey cinema continues to leave me cold.  He is too self-conscious, too cool and ultimately I have a really difficult time caring about the characters in his films.

10/11/17 I watched Christopher Bird and Kevin Brownlow's So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM.  It's a depressing period in Keaton's life, interesting to know about but a bit of a drag to watch.

10/27/17 I watched Werner Herzog's The White Diamond.  Graham Dorrington feels like a Herzog character and some of the footage is moving or zany in that way that is pure Herzog.  But it also all feels too familiar, like Herzog just doing Herzog again.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2003: All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green)


2003: All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green)
I'm one of those in favor of the auteur theory.  I do believe in most cases that the best films are made by the best directors and that in most cases, the directors are the "authors" of their films.  However, what I think is perhaps undervalued in this idea is the contribution of some of the great cameramen, composers, editors, art directors, and producers.  Film is a collaborative medium, and many of the great directors benefit substantially from their relationship with their great collaborators.

Here is a perfect example.  There's no doubt in my mind that David Gordon Green is unusually talented.  But I also think his cameraman, Tim Orr, is an exceptional talent.  Just look at Orr's work outside of Green, a film like Raising Victor Vargas, and it's clear that Orr has a style all his own.

But when together, to these eyes, Green and Orr are the most poetic visual stylists of their generation.  Their work is earthy, muted but natural, and incredibly picturesque.  Like Bujalski, there's also a touch of grace and class to their approach that separates them from many of the other independents.

Green's cinema is mannered -- particularly his unusual dialogue, offbeat casting, deliberate pacing, and lack of conventional narratives -- and frustrates some.  But I'm a fan, and all of his work so far, this is my favorite.    

Other contenders for 2003:  From this year, I still have some things to see.  These include: Francois Ozon's Swimming Pool, Peyton Reed's Down with Love, Abbas Kiarostami's Five, Lars von Trier's Dogville, Thom Anderson's Los Angeles Plays Itself, Jafar Panahi's Crimson Gold, Marco Tullio's The Best of Youth, Patrice Chereau's Son Frere, Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Kim Ki-duk's Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter,... and Spring.  At some point, I'll need to revisit Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation and Clint Eastwood's Mystic River as I struggled a little with both the first time I saw them.  But from this year I really like Gus Van Sant's Elephant.  And my closest runner-up is Tsai Ming-liang's Goodbye, Dragon Inn.

12/13/10 I watched Lars von Trier's Dogville.  Perhaps intellectually stimulating.  But I found it way too much of a slog and way too distanced emotionally to care much at all.  Jump cuts abound and so does von Trier's nihilism, something that I feel is a bit of his trademark.  

1/23/11 I watched Francois Ozon's Swimming Pool.  I'm a fan of Ozon and Rampling, and the start of this one is pretty delicious.  But it starts to unravel in a way that's more frustrating than englightening.  And by film's end, it's far from satisfying. 


3/26/11 I watched Abbas Kiarostami's Five Dedicated to Ozu. Interesting but not transcendent for me.  Kiarostami is our ultimate humanist right now, and this little exercise certainly reminds us to be mindful and observant.  I just question his decision to go digital, and a few of the segments feel slightly uninspired.

7/5/11 I watched Andrew Jarecki's Capturing the Friedmans.  An extremely thorough and well-crafted look at this horrific story.  A bit manipulative at times though to a fault. 


10/8/11 I watched Hou Hsiao-hsien's Cafe Lumiere.  He dedicates it to Ozu, and you can feel the Japanese master's influence.  Unfortunately, it also highlights the fact that the Japanese filmmaker is able to go deeper, entertain with greater facility, and is ultimately the more masterful filmmaker of the two.  As always, I respect Hou's approach and esthetic.  I just wish he allowed more humanity and lyricisim into his work. 


10/19/11 I watched Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny.  I'm a big fan of Buffalo '66.  But this one simply felt shallow, lazy, and self-indulgent. Disappointing.  

9/21/14 I watched Serge Le Peron's Chaplin Today: The Gold Rush.  An interesting short little doc on the making of The Gold Rush.   There are a couple of memorable interviews, and it is moving to watch how the film plays today and affects the youth in Burkina Faso.  

7/13/16 I watched Robert Altman's The Company.  Told in Altman's trademark, hazy manner, this one impressed me most with Malcolm McDowell's performance and the way that Altman glides from scene to scene.  Not in the hard-edged jumpy style initiated during the Nouvelle Vague but more in the way that a wave slowly takes over still water.  

11/25/16 I watched Kim Ki-duk's Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring.  The first film I've seen of Ki-duk but among many I have seen of the new South Korean cinema.  Ki-duk has little if nothing in common with Hong Sang-soo.  Based on this work, Ki-duk's cinema is more spiritual, more allegorical and more tone poem than any sort of traditional narrative.  

Good news -- MovieMaker Reboot!

Before I started this blog, I was doing weekly posts over on MovieMaker Magazine's website.  Those posts ended around November of last year. But good news: MovieMaker has asked me to reboot "my favorite film from 1926-2008" series for their site.

Starting yesterday, I have a new series at MovieMaker entitled "I Found It At The Movies" (a tribute to one of my favorite film critics Pauline Kael's first compilation I Lost It At The Movies).  This series will begin with 1926 and unfold in chronological order.  I have added one new section to each post, entitled "What moviemakers can learn".

I'm very excited to be continuing this great relationship with MovieMaker and can't thank everyone enough for your support of this series so far.  It's been a great ride.

Friday, April 23, 2010

2002: Funny Ha Ha (Andrew Bujalski)


2002: Funny Ha Ha (Andrew Bujalski) 
"It's so easy to laugh.  It's so easy to hate.  It takes strength to be gentle and kind."
- The Smiths


I first heard about Bujalski after reading a great Amy Taubin piece in Film Comment.  I soon tracked down Funny Ha Ha, and when I did, it really took me by surprise.  It was so different from anything else I'd seen coming out of the indy scene.  


Bujalski's film is natural and real but not at all in the way that someone like Harmony Korine might take on naturalism.  There's very little irony here, and the style is unabrasive, observational, and remarkably restrained.  The camera is often handheld but always in a fluid rather than in a shaky, aggressive manner.  Korine and many of his generation wanted to bring the Dogma aesthetic to the states.  Bujalski, meanwhile, seems to be channeling more Rohmer and Jean Eustache.  


Bujalski's casualness can be deceiving, sometimes creating the impression that his cinema is unambitious.  However, I think the way that his writing and direction of actors strips away most of what we think of as "actorly" is not only incredibly ambitious, but also incredibly successful.  Bujalski inspires and excites me, and this is my favorite of his films so far.




Other contenders for 2002:  From this year, I still have some titles to see.  These include: Abbas Kiarostami's Ten, Peter Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow, Niki Caro's Whale Rider, Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark, Rob Marshall's Chicago, and Hong Sang Soo's Turning Gate.  From this year, I really like Spike Lee's 25th Hour, Claire Denis' Vendredi Soir, and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne's The Son.  I love Jim Sheridan's In America, Todd Haynes' Far from Heaven, and Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her.  And my closest runner-up is Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale

4/17/11 I watched David Lynch's The Short Films of David Lynch.  This collection compiles six Lynch short films, Six Figures Getting Sick, The Alphabet, The Grandmother, The Amputee, The Cowboy and the Frenchman, and Lumiere: Premonitions Following an Evil Deed.  I was most partial to The Cowboy, which had the largest dose of Lynch's vintage humor.  But it was interesting to see the early work, and how quickly into his film career, Lynch already demonstrated a great interest and skill with sound and color. 


5/25/11 I watched Niki Caro's Whale Rider.  A bit overwrought and overly sentimental for my own tastes.  But Keisha Castle-Hughes has a great face that Caro uses to very good effect.  

7/6/11 I watched Abbas Kiarostami's Ten.  Kiarostami is one of the medium's all-time great humanists.  But the format here grows old after awhile, and keeps Kiarostami's extraordinary sensitivity and observations a bit too hemmed in. 

12/14/13 I watched Nicolas Philibert's Etre et avoir.  Less disciplined and rigorous than Wiseman, Philibert still impresses with the unique moments he is able to capture.  Watching for instance a young boy realize there are numbers beyond those he already knows feels like something the cinema has never quite captured before, the awakening of a young mind.  Overall the film is a very warm, patient look at an extremely gifted and giving teacher.  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

2001: Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)


2001: Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch) 
One thing people don't discuss all that much when it comes to David Lynch is his relationship to film noir.  When I look at the majority of his career -- Blue VelvetWild at HeartTwin Peaks TV show and film, Lost HighwayMulholland Dr., and Inland Empire -- as much as anything else, I see influences and traces of noir.  Sure he blends genre, and sure his films challenge us to reconsider the look, feel, and sound of noir, but so many elements of noir are present.  And I say this as a compliment.  After all, noir is the genre I know best, and probably the one that got me into all this in the first place.


I won't break down and analyze all the noir elements I see in Mulholland Dr.  But I will at least make a quick mention of them:  the theme of amnesia, a deep relationship to a specific city and locale, a serpentine plot, a non-linear narrative, a femme fatale, a fatalistic tone, obscurity in favor of clarity, elements of crime, and an emphasis on the nocturnal.    


Mulholland Dr. combines all of Lynch's talents -- mastery of noir, humor, and sexiness -- into an incredibly powerful and fresh concoction.  I love almost all of Lynch's work, but this one has some of his most memorable characters.  It is also one of his more accessible and relatively audience-friendly works.  As always with Lynch, Mulholland Dr. is both entertaining and smart, and looks and sounds amazing.



Other contenders for 2001:  From this year, I still have some things to see.  These include: Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums, Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World, Seijun Suzuki's Pistol Opera, Jafar Panahi's The Circle, Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone, Yves Lavandier's Oui, mais..., and Pedro Costa's Ou git votre sourire enfoui?  From this year, I really like Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl and Sean Penn's The Pledge.  I love Steven Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence: AI, Jacques Rivette's Va savoir, Hou Hsiao-hsien's Millennium Mambo, and Dover Kosashvili's Late Marriage. And my closest runner-up is Tsai Ming-liang's What Time Is It There?

8/29/10 I watched Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums.  I've always struggled a little with his cinema.  He has wonderful taste in music, his cinema is quite unique and of one piece, but it leaves me a little frustrated.  I'm not sure if it's whether I find it too quirky and interested in being hip, or I struggle with something else in his work.  He's a talent.  I just have different wants and needs, I think, when it comes to the medium. 


12/10/10 I watched Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World.  Zwigoff has a little of Woody Allen's sensibility and an extraordinary sense of humor, at times.  I wish this film was a little less quirky and the visuals a little less glossy.  But it's mostly a fun, pretty original little film.  


12/11/10 I watched Julio Medem's Sex and Lucia.  Sexy, for sure.  But not really my type of film.  Complex like the Inarritu movies, with an aesthetic that I found a little on the ugly and messy side.  

12/21/10 I watched Jean-Luc Godard's In Praise of Love.  Godard has not abandoned his path one bit.  He continues to believe that the role of an artist is to provide a mirror on his/her world, and he continues to believe in the power of thought, analysis, and information as a weapon rather than as a crutch.  His style here is more like Chris Marker's filmmaking, but he still has the ability to be lyrical, incredibly perceptive, and bold.   It's good to see him looking at Paris again.  I just wish, at times, that his style was a little more vital, and his thoughts a little easier to follow.  

1/3/11 I watched Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down.  It's amazing that Scott was able to make one battle sequence stretch almost two hours.  He finds a few moments, here and there.  But all in all, I thought it a little less than its reputation. 

9/1/14 I watched Manoel de Oliveira's I'm Going Home.  Only the second film I have so far from the celebrated Portuguese filmmaker and again I was impressed, moved and encouraged to seek out and watch more of his work.  At times his aesthetic and sensibility remind me of Rohmer or even Rivette, something very loose and smart, and it does not hurt that this film takes place in Paris and features Michel Piccoli and Catherine Deneuve.  The title holds several different meanings and the final image perpetuates the contemplative mood and tone that seems to be one of the hallmarks of de Oliveira.