Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Favorite (four), part forty-nine

Just like in my other forty-eight 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.

Robin Campillo's BPM (Beats per Minute)
I knew going into it that it was Les Inrocks' favorite film of the year and their taste is often closely aligned with my own.  What struck me most, aside from its performances, was its shape.  Campillo is able like Kechiche with Blue Is the Warmest Color or Bonello with Saint Laurent to avoid classical scene shape without seeming unstructured.  His modernism is not abrasive, loud or jarring.  It is immersive, fluid and welcoming.  

Maurice Pialat's La maison des bois
It is very possible that within one of the cinema's greatest bodies of work this little seen seven part series for television is Pialat's greatest achievement.  It is certainly his most humanistic film and the work that most clearly grants him the title as Jean Renoir's closest French cinema successor.  All of it is remarkable, its characters, its Frenchness, its patience, its rigor.  And Pialat, time and time again, gives us moments that are so alive and so rich, and that surprisingly make us feel as if we are seeing them on film for the first time.    

Jon Nguyen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, and Rick Barnes' David Lynch: The Art Life
A doc that gives a glimpse at the fascinating filmmaker from an entirely different perspective, his early years and the experiences that formed and shaped his artistic sensibility.  Absolutely essential for any aspiring artist or fan of Lynch.

Ernst Lubitsch's Cluny Brown
Watching the film is yet another reminder of the infusion of great skill and sophistication that Hollywood experienced in the forties and fifties.  The craft, perspective and sensibility brought to the States by the dozens of European craftsmen advanced the form in ways the country never again achieved by way of outside influence.  What is most remarkable is Lubitsch's timing and the way he achieves profound emotional moments without leaning on music whatsoever.  The film in fact is almost entirely devoid of score.  Somehow I missed this one in my original exploration of Lubitsch's work but I think it ranks up there with the very best of his extraordinary films.