Saturday, August 29, 2020

Favorite (four), seventy

Just like in my other sixty-nine 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 a 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.

Charles Burnett's Horse
This early short that immediately precedes Killer of Sheep is striking.  It is the first time I can remember seeing so many people onscreen in a Burnett work.  Whereas the other work of his I have seen captures African-American daily life in ways I have never seen rivaled, this work which shows African-Americans alongside white Americans is the first of his films I have seen overtly dealing with race.  While the most striking image might be a pocketknife lodged in a ceiling which somehow recalls the hanging of African-Americans, the entire mood of the short film is powerful.

Abbas Kiarostami's A Wedding Suit
The premise is great and Kiarostami's patient, warm approach fully visible.  He lets the events slowly unfold, never really taking the story where you expect it to go.  Devoid of music except in the final frames, Kiarostami is already pushing his cinema to strong points of transcendence.  

Hong Sang-soo's Grass
By now I've seen quite a number of Hong's films.  Here's what I believe I've seen so far - Woman Is the Future of Man, Tale of Cinema, Woman on the Beach, Night and Day, Hahaha, Oki's Movie, List, In Another Country, Nobody's Daughter Haewon, Right Now, Wrong Then, Yourself and Yours, On the Beach at Night Alone, Claire's Camera, The Day After, Grass, and Hotel by the River.  I would place Grass in my upper tier of favorites.  It has all of Hong's regular elements - playfulness, simplicity, wordiness and moderness.  But what it also has is humor, which shows up in powerful ways in most of Hong's very best work.  

Olivier Bohler's Code Name Melville
A great documentary for anyone interested in the French crime film master.  Really insightful interviews from friends, fellow filmmakers and critics.  I particularly liked the following two comments:  1.  That what Melville made really were "urban westerns" 2.  That even though he admired American filmmakers like Wyler, that his style was more akin to Bresson than Wyler or any of Wyler's American contemporaries.

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