Thursday, July 14, 2022

Favorite (four), eighty-four

Just like in my other eighty-three 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.

Sara Driver's Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years 0f Jean-Michel Basquiat
It's the type of documentary that would be hard to imagine an outsider being able to make.  Driver is able to tap her network as well as lived experience to gather extraordinary footage of Basquiat and the NYC art world in the late seventies to early eighties.  For any fan of Basquiat or anyone just curious to learn a little more about the man and the unique era that inspired his work.  

Frederick Wiseman's High School II
Yet another powerful and important film from Wiseman.  While watching it, and I have never had this exact thought before, I couldn't help but think about the void that will be left when Wiseman is no longer making films.  No one in American film consistently examines our country, our people, our successes, our failures as deeply as Wiseman.  And no one takes the American dream to task, dissecting its shortcomings, in as profound and as important of a manner.  He is a giant in our country's cinema and among American artists in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Victor Nunez's Ruby in Paradise
What jumps out at first view is to think about the historical context in which it was made.  It was the height of American indy cinema and "auteurs" working overtime to emphasize their personal style.  Spike, the Coen brothers, Jarmusch, Hartley, Tarantino all came to the medium with heavily mannered approaches.  In fact, it is hard for me to think of an indy filmmaker, at that time, who was working in a more naturalistic way.  

Perhaps it's the fact that Nunez was 48 when he made Ruby.  Whatever the reasons, Nunez distinguishes himself from the rest of the abovementioned filmmakers by his careful attention to place and character and his subdued use of music, sound, and any other aspect of cinematic style.    

Jeremiah Zagar's Hustle
I will be the first to admit.  When it comes to sports films, I am willing to ignore and let slide stylistic elements I normally can't get past.  If you are like me and can be moved by Hollywood sports films like HoosiersCreedEddie the Eagle or The Way Back, this Sandler vehicle will most likely hook you in.  It is the type of underdog story and story of redemption that Hollywood can really deliver. 


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