Sunday, April 10, 2011

Favorite (four), part nine

Just like in my other eight posts thus far in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  I'm trying right now to take in almost a film a day.  Most have been first-time viewings.  And most I have been glad to finally see, but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those (and hopefully one or two of these will be good to someone else, too).

Frank Borzage's Moonrise

The strongest film yet I've seen from Borzage.  It's melodramatic, but the casting's perfect, and Borzage's ability to tell a story psychologically is crisp and effective.  It's a near masterpiece, ambitious, extremely well-conceived, controlled, and almost always achieving its intent.  

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.

Jean-Pierre Melville's Un Flic
Melville's final film is not at the same level of his two previous and, in my opinion, two strongest films, Army of Shadows and Le Cercle Rouge.  But it still shows off the director's ability for bringing an incredibly unique approach and attitude to the crime film.  Zooms abound, while also on display are the director's uncanny interest in the human gaze and most minute details of a crime.  Of particular interest, the entire sequence where a helicopter helps with the heist of a moving train.  

Wim Wenders' Tokyo-Ga
This exploration almost feels like a Godard or Marker essay.  An unorthodox, somewhat meandering doc that seems like essential viewing for any strong fan of Ozu's work.  Wenders mourns cinema's loss of one of its most special practitioners.  Using Ozu's favorite city, Tokyo, to look into how the world has changed since Ozu's disappearance, Wenders also spends time with some of Ozu's closest collaborators.  

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