Monday, September 21, 2020

2020

9/20/20 I watched Garrett Bradley's Time. It had great promise of showing us a real life story of something that has been fictionalized so often. But it never really added up to much, emotionally. I blame it on the nearly wall-to-wall music and overreaching for a poetic style.

9/21/20 I watched Sam Pollard's MLK/FBI.  Pretty convoluted in terms of its storytelling and added up to little more than the FBI had significant surveillance on MLK and as a result we may ultimately see that he was more human than hero.

12/6/20 I watched Matias Gueilburt's Guillervo Vilas: Settling the Score.  The doc itself feels a bit unfocused and unclear in its aim.  But the footage of Vilas on court is a revelation.  He was an absolutely beautiful tennis player.  

12/6/20 I watched David Fincher's Mank.  Oldman as usual is wonderful.  But I don't know if it is the bland cinematography or due to something else, but the obsessive passion we tend to expect from a Fincher film seems to be missing.  The whole thing just felt kinda flat to me.  

12/25/20 I watched Kirsten Johnson's Dick Johnson Is Dead.  It is incredibly moving at times.  And I was impressed by its ability to get at feelings or situations (a daughter taking care of her increasingly dependent father) that feel somewhat new for cinema to tackle yet so true to life.  Far less convinced was I that it struck a successful balance.  The stretches of levity did relieve the heaviness but they also rarely had any effect on me and ultimately undercut the film's impact and power.

1/2/21 I watched Eugene Ashe's Sylvie's Love.  Much to recommend here in what felt like an updating of Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.  The two main actors, the clothes and the colors all have a power.  But at times I could not help but feel that I was watching more of a greatest hits album, a work that had taken a fine mesh strainer to several classic works (Splendor in the Grass, Demy's film, Romeo and Juliet) and discarded some of the less unsavory elements that gave the work its body and substance.

1/7/21 I watched Gavin O'Connor's The Way Back.  Feels like a less than version than Hoosiers until it takes some fairly interesting turns in the last thirty or so minutes.  

1/9/21 I watched Emmanuel Mouret's Love Affair(s).  Mouret proves himself very adept at tackling the romantic comedy genre while finding ways to make it feel updated and modern.  His most interesting contributions to the genre come by way of his parallel narrators and the way he continually subverts our expectations all the way until the final seconds.  While I wish his use of music a bit more restrained, this is a strong new entry for French cinema, in the footsteps of Desplechin and Assaysas and akin to Civeyrac. 

1/13/21 I watched Francois Ozon's Summer of 85.  I have a bit of an inconsistent relationship with Ozon.  I was a huge fan of his early film Under the Sand but then I have only seen one other film of his in the last twenty years.  His latest has much to recommend.  Both the casting and acting are first rate, and Ozon's effort to take us back to the beach in the mid eighties is mostly immersive.  There are a few times where his approach felt mannered or distant or artificial to the point of breaking down but all in all I was impressed by his latest work.