Thursday, April 16, 2015

Favorite (four), part twenty-eight

Just like in my other twenty-seven posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing (more infrequent than I wish it were but hopefully that will improve).  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-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language
Godard's cinema is chiant. It is impossible to grasp it all. It washes over you, drowns you until you feel overwhelmed by its intelligence, superior knowledge, its grappling with something you might not even be advanced enough yet to recognize. I will be the first to admit, there is no way I can begin to analyze everything he is wanting to communicate. But it is the small ideas that jut out (Plato's "Beauty is the splendor of truth") and the arresting images of the human body, dogs, water, and movies playing silent in back of a scene that penetrate deeply. Forever, at least for me, Godard will be the one that pushes me to keep learning.  Because, perhaps through knowledge life can be understood and allow us to obtain beauty, truth and make a lasting, maybe even important, impression on our generation, our world and our time in life.


Damien Chazelle's Whiplash
As much as anything I have seen in a number of years, an indy that gives me hope and belief in the future of intelligent American cinema. Chazelle impresses first by his writing. The movie is perfectly sized and veers off into directions the spectator never quite expects. Then Chazelle adds to his impressive foundation two unsually well drawn lead charactors with Simmons seeming to put a career's worth of power into his role. The style is admirable, the attitude inspiring and the entertainment and artistic value both of a very high order.

Alain Giraudie's Stranger by the Lake
An example of what I would call "pure cinema" - zero music, almost no close ups, long takes, wide shots, fluid edits and camera movements. The ending again proves that the French might understand the power of the final five minutes better than anyone. And the way Giraudie uses sound further supports France's claim to that title as well.
Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery
Only my second experience so far with Wiseman (the first was At Berkeley), it too got inside me and worked on me in ways that rarely happen with film. Of course Wiseman gets there by taking his time, by restricting camera movement, depriving us of anything but diegetic music, and flooding us with a vast array of academic information. I come out of his films feeling more educated and with my view on whatever subject he is tackling (this time painting) deepened and altered.