Friday, July 16, 2021

2021

 7/15/21 I watched Dileesh Pothan's Joji.  I am not expert enough on Macbeth to understand how clever the film is an adaptation.  As a pure viewing experience, I found the music overdone and the style all a bit of a mess.  

8/21/21 I watched Raoul Peck's Exterminate All the Brutes.  Peck's perspective and research make a story that needs to be told.  I just grew weary of the way Peck chose to tell it.  

10/22/21 I watched Todd Haynes' The Velvet Underground.  Interesting if you are like me and know very little about the history of the band.  Not as interesting from an aesthetic standpoint as I would have hoped from one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers.  

11/12/21 I watched Rebecca Hall's Passing.  An incredibly interesting premise with a style that is so mannered it becomes suffocating quickly.

12/5/21 I watched Nanfu Wang's In the Same Breath.  It was interesting to learn more about how and why China handled the start of COVID.  The style of the documentary just did not hold my attention.

12/17/21 I watched Leos Carax's Annette.  There is real exuberance and a supercharge in Carax's last two films.  Partly I attribute it to the fact that I cannot think of anyone else in film right now where the work feels as much in an ongoing discourse with the history of cinema.  In his latest, David Lynch looms large.  You feel his influence on the way the young girl Annette looks, who can't help but make you think about the baby in Eraserhead.  You also see it in the way Carax stutters the lights in the beginning and the stylistic device he uses several times that is pure Lynch - the visual separation of body shots that I know you find in Twin Peaks but that I also seem to recall in Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr.  

Carax's cinema could always be looked at as a love letter to the medium and its endless beauty and possibilities.  So it only makes sense that Carax is channeling Lynch, one of the most liberated of filmmakers who continues to defy any claims of cinema's boundaries or imminent death.

I settled on the phrase above "an ongoing discourse with the history of cinema" because Carax's rear view has always gone farther back than most of his peers who have a hard time citing anything film-wise released before Kubrick's 2001.  Carax in his latest is in a dialogue with the musical, the early Disney films, and as much with the first 50 years of cinema as the last 76.  

12/18/12 I watched Bruno Dumont's France.  A film that felt like a departure for Dumont, not as style heavy as some of his earlier work nor set in the provinces where he excels at capturing the land and people.  It never fully got me in the way films like L'humanite and P'tit Quinquin did.

12/18/21 I watched Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson's Summer of Soul.  One of these documentaries where the story is so great that it's astounding the footage has sat on the shelf for 50 years.  That in and of itself speaks volumes about the situation of race in this country.  Some of the performances are simply grand from Sly to Mavis Staples to The 5th Dimension. 

12/18/21 I watched Edgar Wright's The Sparks Brothers.  Although Wright's storytelling quickly feels a little repetitive, the story of the band is fascinating and almost entirely new to me.

12/21/21 I watched Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.  My first experience with the cinema of Hamaguchi and I am as excited about what he might do as I have been with any new filmmaker in a while.  Hamaguchi uses music like Hong Sang-soo and at first glance his filmmaking might simply seem like alt Sang-soo.  But Hamaguchi's world is not as distilled as the Korean filmmaker's.  Hamaguchi utilizes more locations, pushes deeper into more taboo places (sexuality, even homosexuality) and ultimately creates moments and cinema that because they feel less controlled feel more dangerous than the work of Hong Sang-soo.  Many people may call Hamaguchi the Japanese Rohmer but in his playfulness, even daring, he seems as close to Rivette as he does Rohmer. ''

12/27/21 I watched Clint Eastwood's Cry Macho.   As much as I wanted to feel this late Eastwood, it never rose above metaphors and tributes to the Eastwood character that have affected me far more.

12/29/21 I watched Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Memoria.  It is the third or fourth film I've seen by the Thai director and I continue to struggle with his work even though many people I admire view him as one of the most important directors working today.  I admire his patience, his use of sound, his framing and his work with actors but I never fully follow what he is trying to say.  And I never feel like the arduous journey he is asking of the spectator is worth the long haul.  

12/31/21 I watched Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car.  While I found this more formally impressive than Hamaguchi's other 2021 film, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, emotionally it was not near as powerful for me.  It still signals Hamaguchi as one of the most interesting young filmmakers at work.  

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