Wednesday, November 30, 2005

born today: jean eustache

Jean Eustache was born on this day 67 years ago. I wonder what films he'd be making today if he were still alive and obsessive.

Some Eustache links:
· Death and Despair: The Cinema of Jean Eustache, by Jared Rapfogel
· The Way We Are - a review of The Mother and the Whore, by Jonathan Rosenbaum
· Strictly Film School's page on Eustache, by Acquarello
· Swing the Body Electric: Amy Taubin on the films of Eustache
· The Thread: An Obituary for Jean Eustache, by Serge Daney

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"summertime, summertime..."

Seen since last post (just ratings for now) :

Fingers (James Toback, 1977) ***
Sürü (Zeki Ökten, Yilmaz Güney, 1978) ***½
Fly (Yoko Ono, John Lennon, 1970) **
Fuses (Carolee Schneemann, 1967) ***½
La collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer, 1967) **½
The Constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles, 2005) *½
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005) **½
Veredas (João César Monteiro, 1978) ***
The Two Soldiers (João César Monteiro, 1978) **
Dangerous Game (Abel Ferrara, 1993) ***

Monday, November 14, 2005

two good things

This is already one of those long weeks in which nothing seems to be going right in life, so scopophilia is going to be kept to a minimum. I saw the delightful Les demoiselles de Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967) the other night though, which will hopefully see me through the week.

And I just can't get enough of Giorgio Moroder's classic electrodisco album, From Here to Eternity. It's just the coolest thing ever... right now.

(Also, a slight name change for this blog - to reflect the non-filmic stuff mentioned here. It's shorter and frankly, sounds a whole lot less bombastic.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

incomplete exorcisms

Brief thoughts on Philippe Garrel's Sauvage Innocence (2001):

An earlier Garrel film, The Birth of Love (1993), flows (with multiple ellipses) from one non-event to another in the life of an aging man who starts affairs with women to escape from the idea of having a wife and children. That film was episodic, lyrical and jazzy in the way John Cassavetes' films are, and had a similar undercurrent of violent, haphazard emotions. Sauvage Innocence is relatively more plot-driven, making heavy use of ironies, repetitions, and even a moral dilemma or two. The story involves a young director, François, who is struggling to find a producer for his next work, an "anti-heroin film" based on the experiences of his recently-deceased girlfriend, and starring his current love, Lucie. He meets the middle-aged and wealthy Chas (Michel Subor, appropriately severe) who offers him the money - for the price of smuggling heroin into the country. The second half of the film is about the film-shoot itself, and is definitely more interesting as we witness François' film, Sauvage Innocence, come together, and discover that it is essentially a brutal reconstruction of his dead lover's downward spiral into addiction and death, his attempt at self-exorcism the only way he knows. Through Raoul Coutard's breathtaking widescreen, black-and-white images (again, channelling the spirit of the Nouvelle Vague) and Jean-Claude Vannier's spare piano score, the fatalism of the second half (it's not much of a spoiler to say that Lucie's reality comes to mirror that of the personality she is being "directed" to emulate by François, and François' Sauvage Innocence is left hauntingly incomplete, as is inevitably, Garrel's) is surprisingly tender, and by the final Eustachian fade-to-black, heartbreaking.

The Birth of Love and Sauvage Innocence are, to my knowledge, the only Garrel films available on DVD, with English subtitles.

Monday, November 07, 2005

last few

A Letter to Three Wives (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1949) ***

The Story of Marie and Julien (Jacques Rivette, 2003) ***
I found it to be his most engaging and surprising film since 1995's Up Down Fragile. The 'relaxed' sense of rhythm to the story is pure Rivette, so much as the film partly becomes about the passing of time itself (especially, in an unusually unsubtle move by Rivette, as he surrounds Jerzy Radziwilowicz's Julien with clocks of all kinds). Emmanuelle Béart has an incredible screen presence, and is the heart of the film (the film is divided into four chapters, gradually drifting towards Marie's perspective: Julien, Julien and Marie, Marie and Julien, and finally, Marie). As in La belle noiseuse, she evokes mystery, loss, and eroticism just by staring into space, and here she walks around with the added morbid burden of being an enigma, an incomplete ghost. Besides the irresistible allure of experiencing a ghost story with Rivette's distinctive pacing, elegantly captured Paris streets, and idiosyncratic and mysterious parallel storylines, she's really the reason to see this one.

Attack (Robert Aldrich, 1956) ***

Hollywood or Bust (Frank Tashlin, 1956) **½
Artists and Models from the previous year is funnier, but this is pretty enjoyable. Gotta love the scene when the frail grandma produces a gun from her coat and hijacks odd-couple Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin's cheatfully-won car, while Jerry's Great Dane cowers away.

Stagefright (Michele Soavi, 1987) **½ (aka Deliria aka Bloody Bird)
Stylish, humorous, and comfortably spooky, this was the perfect film for Halloween.

Häxan (Benjamin Christensen, 1922) **½

Night of the Creeps (Fred Dekker, 1986) *
Filled with homoerotic undertones and multiple references to '70s and '80s horror films, this recognised classic of '80s horror-parody unfortunately couldn't penetrate all those layers of cheese, and recalls the decade for all the wrong reasons.

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