Monday, November 6, 2017

Favorite (four), part forty-six

Just like in my other forty-five 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.

Abbas Kiarostami's The Traveler
In its one track pursuit and its tunnel focus on the young main character, it feels like a black and white predecessor to Where is the Friend's Home?.  It is quintessential Kiarostami in its lyricism, its softness, its feel for the land and its rhythms.  A couple of scenes, like the photography session in the schoolyard, rank as Kiarostami at his most inventive and most cinematic.  Kiarostami would later become a little more rigorous with his filmmaking, longer takes, less music, but already in this, his first film over an hour, he announces himself as a great, new humanistic force.

Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn
Herzog is in the Hollywood system as much as I have ever seen but comes through, for the most part, true to form.  Herzog finds in Bale another perfect embodiment for his distorted heroism and proves once again that he can bring out the jungle of the jungle better than anyone who has ever worked in the medium.  The movie falters towards the end when it seems Herzog is trying to grasp at some sort of Hollywood convention but otherwise the film finds a unique, compelling voice inside a well-worn genre.  

Lewis Milestone's Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
Having read that one of my favorite critics, Jonathan Rosenbaum, rated it in his best 100 films of all time, I was extremely curious to see it.  It is exactly the type of film Rosenbaum tends to champion.  It is not stylistically flashy nor even terribly entertaining; however, it tackles complex subject matter and it does so with an intelligence and narrative skill of a very high order.  I may not always agree with Rosenbaum, but it is hard for me to argue with this film deserving attention and great respect. 

Jacques Rozier's Adieu Philippine
I watched a version on YouTube without subtitles so was unable to catch every word.  But, the film feels like the male version of Jules et Jim, or in other words, one male and two females.  I don't know Rozier's cinema yet but if this film is any indication he has the New Wave's keen interest and eye for youth, female beauty and the sea. 


  1. All of these are wonderful, especially the Milestone and Kiarostami. Great capsules Jeffrey!

  2. Thanks so much, Sam. So great to hear from you!