Sunday, October 15, 2017

Favorite (four), part forty-five

Just like in my other forty-four 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.

Jean Eustache's Mes Petites Amoureuses
I have long been a fan of Eustache's The Mother and the Whore but have had some difficulty tracking down the rest of his work.  And I just took a quick peek at Wikipedia and had no idea this was his only other feature.  I knew he had committed suicide young but never knew he only ever made just two features (and a good number of shorts).  This film is extraordinary, capturing a thing that I have never before seen captured on film.  The best way I can describe it is the very early awakening of the male interest in females.  It gets into the awkwardness but more than that it gets into the deep yearning and romantic creation that goes on in the head of many young boys.  There are a number of flat out brilliant sequences including Daniel's first imaginings while on a train and his encounter with the young girl Francoise in the neighboring town.

Werner Herzog's Stroszek
One of my favorite feelings as a cinephile is finding a film by a director whose work I only partially know and being inspired to track down the rest of their films.  Not only did Stroszek make me want to watch the rest of Herzog that I haven't seen yet but also get on a path to completion for Fassbinder.  Stroszek had so many things that I like but in particular I was moved by the emotiveness of Bruno S., the raw painterly quality of the camerawork, and the fact that it seemed a missing predecessor for a number of 80s movies I like a great deal including Stranger Than Paradise and the first two Leos Carax features.  And the final ten minutes have to go down as one of the greatest in the history of the medium.  They had the silent power of Anotonioni's The Passenger and embodied the absurd freewheeling nature of early Dylan better than any movie I have ever seen.

Howard Deutch's Pretty in Pink
I actually had never seen this before in its entirety and sure I'm being sentimental, and sure I'm being overly nostalgic, but I think Hughes captured (or formed?) the zeitgeist of that time better than anyone else in American film.  I felt real chemistry whenever Ringwald or McCarthy was on screen and believed the music, the clothes, the colors, the record stores, and pretty much every other great detail of the Hughes world.  

Werner Herzog's Cobra Verde
Not an easy film.  In its disjointedness, it felt reminiscent of something Welles might have made in the 50s or 60s.  And as a rougher and rawer Aguirre, it had me thinking about Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, a pure creation from a master filmmaker who seemed to no longer care if his audience was following.  Yet, the passion of Herzog pushes way past any financial limitations.  His pet theme of human greed comes through as well as in anything of his I have seen and the brilliant images by the sea in the final minutes serve as the perfect illustration for the preoccupations that led him to make this very amorphous work.