Sunday, January 9, 2022

Favorite (four), seventy-eight

Just like in my other seventy-seven 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.

Jean-Luc Godard's Hisoire(s) du cinema
Is it possible to praise a film in which you grasp less than 10% of what the filmmaker is saying?  I would argue that it is.  Particularly with someone like Godard who can send shockwaves through your brain with some of his insights and with the lyricism he sometimes finds as he works sound and image together.    

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 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. 

Jacques Becker's Edouard et Caroline
It's the ninth of his thirteen features I have seen and what impressed me more than anything is how modern the narrative construction still feels today.  The film consists of only two sets and bears more resemblance in its scope to many low-budget American indies than to the other films of Becker.  It seems to have lots to say about the importance of art in post WWII French society.  
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. 

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