Sunday, February 19, 2017

Favorite (four), part thirty-eight

Just like in my other thirty-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.

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. 

Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way
It's been 20 or so years since I first saw this in a bad print at the New Beverly.  It's much stronger than I remember, Bridges and Heard quite impressive and the whole thing in much the same vein as Night Moves.  It is one of the more important final bookends to the American New Wave, artistic with an A list crew and disheartened that the utopic future for America envisioned by the youth at the time had clearly failed.  
Mikio Naruse's Floating Clouds
I have very little experience with Naruse's work, this being either only the first or second film I have ever seen from him.  I'm not a fan of his almost wall-to-wall music and I wish he were more similar to Mizoguchi and Ozu in his sense of restraint.  But I admire his ability to go the distance with the material, never becoming sentimental even when it would have been more palatable and more commercial to do so.  He is gifted with time, effortlessly gliding back and forth between the past and the present, and emotionally he is more engaged with reality than the cerebral Mizouchi and the distant Ozu.  

John Ford's The Lost Patrol
What I was most struck by, aside from Ford's signature ability to bring out the haunting poetry in natural landscapes, is a certain modern quality to the work.  McLaglen's physicality towards the end does not feel too much different than Pacino in the latter stages of Scarface and the fact that Ford almost never cuts to the opposition gives the film artful restraint that really helps create the effective, ominous atmosphere he sustains throughout.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Before Hollywood, The Go-Betweens, 1983

Bouncy, jangly, and very far removed from the baroque and epic songwriting of 16 Lovers Lane.  In fact, if I didn’t know any better I would think they were two entirely different bands.    Certain albums shift into a different gear at some point in their sequencing.  Here that magic stretch happens from “Ask” to “Cattle and Cane”.  Not that the entire album is not top-notch but songs 3-5 are otherworldly, somehow more connected and more memorable than the other sections of the album.  The Go-Betweens never cracked my US mainstream.  They never even cracked my radar until years after they had disbanded and I was reading about them while I was living in France.  But for any fan of early REM, hours of sophisticated songs of beauty await.