Friday, December 10, 2021

Favorite (four), seventy-six

Just like in my other seventy-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 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.

Mitchell Leisen's Remember the Night
The first of what I believe were three films that Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray made together, all of which are excellent.  Preston Sturges wrote the script for this one.  Leisen impresses with the amount of emotional depth he is able to create, producing greater feeling by repeatedly choosing complex character moments over entertaining turns of plot.  He shows such restraint, and willingness to defy typical Hollywood narratives, that by the end he is able to deliver a final moment of Bressonian gravity and weight. 

Dennis Hopper's Out of the Blue
I should have seen this way before now.  It is a key film in the American New Wave and makes a case for being the final film of the cycle as much as any.  I never thought of Easy Rider, Hopper's first feature as director, as being much from an aesthetic point of view.  But this film possesses an incredible style - specifically its location work,  its graceful movements of the camera, its complex editing rhythms, and its sensitive use of sound.  Dark and disturbing like a David Lynch film but also with echoes of some of the seventies' stronger character work like Five Easy Pieces.     

Claire Denis' US Go Home
A medium-length film by Denis that ranks with the best of our work.  It shows her ability with mood, young actors, cinematic music, romance from the female perspective and the richness that comes when people from different languages and cultures interact and spend time together.  

Buster Keaton and Edward F Cline's Cops
One of the strongest Keaton shorts I have seen.  As usual when he is at his very best, the gags are inventive, free-wheeling, incredibly well-timed and bordering on dangerous.  Clocking in around twenty minutes, it does not have much variation of pace but is pretty much a sprint from the time the opening credits conclude.

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