Screenings #38

Confining himself to reconstructed transcripts, Robert Bresson takes his approach to its furthest point in The Trial of Joan of Arc. At just over an hour long, it avoids tedium but it does get buggy. Eschewing frills requires an approach more ascetic than the most self-abnegating monk. But does Bresson cheat? During the martyrdom sequence the soundtrack captures tolling bells and a flying dove before the camera lingers on the stake. Evoking the numinous requires self-conscious poetry after all. In Transcendental Style future writer-director Paul Schrader, himself given to capable Bresson homages, writes:

Bresson’s protagonists, like the country priest, cannot find metaphors capable of expressing their agony. They are condemned to estrangement: nothing on earth will placate their inner passion, because their passion does not come from earth. Therefore they do not respond to their environment, but instead to that sense of the Other which seems much more immediate.

By the time Joan breaks her concentration by kissing a makeshift cross it doesn’t feel as if she’s condescending to her inquisitors, and I was tearing up.

Support the Girls (Bujalski, 2018) 6/10
The Wife (Runge, 2018) 3/10
Nico, 1988 (Nicchiarelli, 2018) 7/10
BlacKkKlansman (Lee, 2018) 5/10
The Third Murder (Kore-eda, 2018) 6/10
Love, Cecil (Vreeland, 2018) 7/10
Eighth Grade (Burnham, 2018) 7/10
Lean On Pete (Haigh, 2018) 6/10
Tully (Reitman, 2018) 7/10
After the Storm (Kore-eda, 2017) 8/10
Our Little Sister (Kore-eda, 2016) 7/10
* Lady Bird (Gerwig, 2017) 8/10
Chi-Raq (Lee, 2015) 6/10
4 Little Girls (Lee, 1997) 8/10
* Close-Up (Kiarostami, 1990) 7/10
* The Glass Shield (Burnett, 1994) 7/10
Sharkey’s Machine (Reynolds, 1981) 6/10
* Two English Girls (Truffaut, 1974) 6/10
The Trial of Joan of Arc (Bresson, 1962) 7/10
* Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958) 9/10
The Song of Bernadette (King, 1944) 4/10
Toni (Renoir, 1935) 8/10

Screenings #37

Here’s this month’s haul in reverse chronological order, with a few blurbs. I hyperlinked to reviews.

* denotes a repeat viewing

Eighth Grade (Burnham, 2018) 7/10
The Day After (Hoo, 2018) 7/10
On the Seventh Day (McKay, 2018) 7/10
The Cakemaker (Graizer, 2018) 6/10
A Ciambra (Carpignano, 2018) 7/10
Chappaquiddick (Curran, 2018) 6/10
Ava (Foroughi, 2018) 8/10
First Reformed (Schrader, 2018) 8/10

* A Christmas Tale (Desplechin, 2008) 8/10

How this inchoate sprawl became one of my comfort films is one of life’s mysteries. If anything holds Arnaud Desplechin’s account of a holiday celebration, it’s the image of Catherine Deneuve sneaking a cigarette on a snowy evening.

The Swindle (Chabrol, 1997) 5/10

Isabelle Huppert and the late Claude Chabrol collaborated on several projects; this late nineties hybrid of The Lady Eve and one of Chabrol’s Aquarius-era thrillers doesn’t quite work, at once too po-faced for the former and stodgy for the lattter.

* Face/Off (Woo, 1997) 5/10
* Manhattan Murder Mystery (Allen, 1992) 7/10

Death Becomes Her (Zemeckis, 1992) 5/10

I know Bob Zemeckis’ dxpensive special FX comedy enjoys a fervent cult following, especially among fellow homosexualists, but other than decent bitchy banter and Meryl Streep’s commitment to laffs, I wasn’t moved by the spectacle.

The Best Intentions (August, 1992) 7/10
A Tale of Springtime (Rohmer, 1990) 6/10
Hopscotch (Neame, 1980) 6/10
* Diary of a Country Priest (Bresson, 1951) 9/10
*The Stranger (Welles, 1947) 6/10
The Kiss (Feydeau, 1928) 6/10

Love (Goulding, 1927) 7/10

Filmstruck members have until December to feast on a half dozen Garbo films, many available for the first time in some home watching format. Love particularly struck me: a marvelously ironic Garbo using cocked eyebrows and stillness to ensnare John Gilbert in Edmund Goulding’s adaptation of Anna Karenina. Although Garbo would star in a talkie version a decade later, she plays the definitive Anna — and Gilbert is damn hot as the doomed Vronsky.

Screenings #36

A mixture of revivals and exciting foreign language films screening here for the first time dominated my May watching. Thanks to FilmStruck, the beautifully titled The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice revealed itself as second-tier Ozu but, as those experiences can be, an enchanting one. Meanwhile my second viewing of Giant in twenty years surprised me. In 1996, I let it run over me like a thresher through grain; now I appreciated how George Stevens treated the aging Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor couple as aging adults who’ve cobbled a life together, no matter how fraught. Stevens splits the difference between a leisurely arranged mise-en-scène in which we can study the characters interacting with each other and their environment and a static one. James Dean still throws me out of the movie, which is the point; the concentration of Stevens’ camera – no quick cuts for him! – makes his goon show performance even stranger.

The Rider (Zhao, 2018) 8/10
Annihilation (Garland, 2018) 6/10
Solo: A Star Wars Story (Howard, 2018) 5/10
Let the Sunshine In (Denis, 2018) 7/10
You Were Never Really Here (Ramsay, 2018) 8/10
RBG (Cohen, West, 2018) 6/10
Zama (Martel, 2018) 7/10
Opuntnia (Fenster, 2018) 5/10
Thor: Ragnarok (Waititi, 2017) 4/10
* La Ciénaga (Martel, 2001) 7/10
Nenette et Boni (Denis, 1996) 6/10
Cold Water (Assayas, 1994) 6/10
Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (Fassbinder,1972) 7/10
Baal (Schlöndorff, 1970)
* Women in Love (Russell, 1970) 6/10
Fellini Satyricon (Fellini, 1968) 5/10
* Belle de Jour (Buñuel, 1968) 10/10
* Giant (Stevens, 1956) 6/10
The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice (Ozu, 1952) 7/10
* Black Narcissus (Powell-Pressburger, 1944) 8/10

* Indicates repeat viewing

Screenings #35

Boy oh boy did I watch a lot of what an old pal called fillums this month! Most date from my spell watching films for the Miami Film Festival 2018. I’m going to start writing blurbs for films that strike my interest; for the rest you can click the links.

* Denotes repeat viewing

The Workshop (Cantet, 2018) 6/10
Claire’s Camera (Hoo, 2018) 8/10
On the Beach at Night Alone (Hoo, 2017) 7/10
The Death of Stalin (Iannucci, 2018) 6/10
Love, Simon (Berlanti, 2018) 6/10
Unsane (Soderbergh, 2018) 5/10
Sollers Point (Porterfield, 2018) 7/10
Killing Jesus (Mora, 2018) 6/10
La Familia (Cordova, 2018) 6/10
Ashes/Cenizas (Jacome, 2018) 7/10
Love in Youth (Perkins, 2018) 4/10
Cocote (De los Santos, 2018) 7/10
Winter Brothers (Pálmason, 2018) 7/10
Heaven Without People (Bourjeily, 2018) 5/10
The Hunting Season (Garagiola, 2018) 6/10
Comedy of Power (Chabrol, 2007) 7/10
Lights in the Dusk (Kaurismäki, 2005) 7/10
A Short Film About Love (Kieslowski, 1988) 9/10

* The Tin Drum (Schlöndorff, 1980) 4/10

I had trouble finishing Günter Grass’ cinder block of a novel in my undergraduate Continental lit course; the admixture of allegory and conventional realism felt dense. Volder Schlöndorff’s adaptation preserves what made the novel insufferable.

* Straw Dogs (Peckinpah, 1971) 6/10

* Seven Days in May (Frankenheimer, 1964) 7/10

Sometimes I confuse boudoir scenes between Ava Gardner and Kirk Douglas in Seven Days in May and Walter Pidgeon and Gene Tierney in Advise and Consent. Both are plush films starring a bunch of Hollywood troopers taking advantage of Kennedy-era licentiousness to let their cynic flag flap.

* The African Queen (Huston, 1951) 7/10

A Woman’s Face (Cukor, 1941) 6/10

After a splendid twenty-minute opening sequence in which Robert Planck’s camera nods toward two drunk women dancing in its enthusiasm to take in other characters in the room, George Cukor and — surprisingly! — Joan Crawford fight the plushness of the design and Donald Ogden Stewart’s stilted script. Still, this story of a disfigured Swedish woman looking for love and finding only Conrad Veidt and, worse, Melvyn Douglas is more compelling than its reputation suggests. Unfortunately, Cukor’s touch falters directing a horror of a child named Lars-Erik; when Crawford considers shoving him off a funicular, I bet the 1941 audience applauded.

Flamingo Road (Curtiz, 1949) 6/10

Sidney Greenstreet as a Southern sheriff wants to run carnival dancer Joan Crawford out of town. Zachary Scott plays smart patsies better than anyone in the era, and he can’t help regarding Crawford as if she were a kitten that crawled to him over glass. Michael Curtiz’s trademark expressive lighting doesn’t get much play in these “rural” (i.e. studio) settings.

Screenings #34

I’ve slacked on posting these updates; I considered splitting the list in half. IF I count the batch reviewed for Miami Film Festival 2018, I’ll post another soon.

Black Panther (Coogler, 2018) 7/10
A Fantastic Woman (Lelio, 2017)
Mudbound (Rees, 2017) 5/10
Phantom Thread (Anderson, 2017)
In the Fade (Akin, 2017) 4/10
Dawson City: Frozen Time (Morrison, 2017) 6/10
After the Storm (Kore-eda, 2017) 6/10
Félicité (Gomis, 2017) 7/10
* God’s Own Country (Lee, 2017) 7/10
Battle of the Sexes (Dayton and Faris, 2017) 5/10
The Man Without a Past (Kaurismaki, 2002) 7/10
* A Nos Amours (Pialat, 1983) 8/10
* Face to Face (Bergman, 1976 6/10
* Mikey and Nicky (May, 1976) 7/10
* A Woman Under the Influence (Cassavetes, 1974) 6/10
L’enfance Nue (Pialat, 1968) 8/10
The Passion of Anna (Bergman, 1968) 5/10
* Through a Glass Darkly (Bergman, 1960) 9/10
* The Life of Oharu (Mizoguchi, 1952) 10/10
Wagon Master (Ford, 1950)
* The Killers (Siodmark, 1946) 8/10
Watch on the Rhine (Shumlin, 1943) 4/10
The Long Voyage Home (Ford, 1940) 8/10
After the Thin Man (Van Dyke, 1936) 4/10
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (Renoir, 1936) 9/10

Screenings #33

I caught up with a couple of 2017 favorites (they hold up nicely) and found a new one with Aki Kaurismäki’s 1990 deadpan near-masterpiece.

I, Tonya (Gillespie, 2017) 3/10
Félicité (Gomis, 2017) 7/10
The Shape of Water (Del Toro, 2017) 6/10
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Johnson, 2017) 6/10
The Post (Spielberg, 2017) 4/10
* A Quiet Passion (Davies, 2017) 8/10
* The Lost City of Z (Gray, 2017) 8/10
* Call Me by Your Name (Guadagnino, 2017) 7/10
The Match Factory Girl (Kaurismäki, 1990) 7/10
A Special Day (Scola, 1977) 5/10
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Lang, 1933) 9/10

Screenings #32

My busiest month produced this run of screenings in the last two weeks. The real horror is I Tonya, about which you’ll hear more of as December ends. The acclaim for Alison Janney and Margot Robbie horrify me — their performances are rank obscenities. The so-called direction uses Election as a model — a poor and starving Election, with the most unbelievable “fuck”s in modern film.

The Other Side of Hope (Kaurismäki, 2017) 8/10
Jane (Morgen, 2017) 7/10
The Disaster Artist (Franco, 2017) 5/10
Thelma (Trier, 2017) 5/10
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (McDonagh, 2017) 4/10
The Darkest Hour (Wright, 2017) 3/10
Wonder Wheel (Allen, 2017) 3/10
Atomic Blonde (Leitch, 2017) 6/10
* Call Me By Your Name (Guadagnino, 2017) 8/10
I, Tonya (Gillespie, 2017) 2/10
* Ariel (Kaurismäki, 1988) 8/10
Zabriskie Point (Antonioni, 1970) 5/10

* multiple viewings

Screenings #31

I’ll have more to write about the Spielberg and Allen pictures in coming weeks. Beach Rats most disappointed me; coming after 2013’s It Felt Like Love, Eliza Hittmann’s acclaimed story of a Brooklyn teen picking up dudes on the internetz hit too many familiar notes.

BPM (Beats Per Minute) (Campillo, 2017) 8/10
Thelma (Trier, 2017) 6/10
Beach Rats (Hittman, 2017) 6/10
Wonderwheel (Allen, 2017) 4/10
The Post (Spielberg, 2017) 5/10
Ingrid Goes West (Spicer, 2017) 7/10
* Kicking and Screaming (Baumbach, 1995) 6/10
* Daughters of the Dust (Dash, 1991) 8/10
Confidentially Yours (Truffaut, 1983) 6/10
A Child Is Waiting (Cassavetes, 1963) 6/10

* Repeat viewing.

Screenings #30

Now that I’m a Filmstruck subscriber, expect viewings of treasure by the likes of Mikio Naruse and Edward Yang.

Lady Bird (Gerwig, 2017) 9/10
BPM (Beats per Minute) (Campillo, 2017) 7/10
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Lanthimos, 2017) 8/10
Wonderstruck (Haynes, 2017) 5/10
The Square (Östlund, 2017) 3/10
Taipei Story (Yang, 1985) 8/10
* An Osaka Story (Mizoguchi, 1957) 8/10
Floating Clouds (Naruse, 1955) 7/10
Late Chrysanthemums (Naruse, 1954) 7/10
* In a Lonely Place (Ray, 1952) 8/10
*Gaslight (Cukor, 1944) 7/10
* Rebecca (Hitchcock, 1940) 8/10

Screenings #29

Here’s the crop from the second half of October. After a third viewing of Out of the Past, I awarded it a rare perfect score.

Lucky (Lynch, 2017) 5/10
Faces Places (Varda, 2017) 7/10
4 Days in France (Reybaud, 2017) 6/10
Call Me By Your Name (Guadagnino, 2017) 8/10
The Meyerowitz Stories (Baumbach, 2017) 5/10
The Florida Project (Baker, 2017) 4/10
Wonder Woman (Jenkins, 2017) 6/10
Three Dancing Slaves (Morel, 2004) 5/10
* Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960) 8/10
* Out of the Past (Tourneur, 1947) 10/10
* Footlight Parade (Bacon and Berkeley, 1933) 8/10

Screenings #28

I haven’t done this in a while. This month’s experiences include my first experience with Hulu (thanks to which I watched a hard to find Renoir) and two of 2017’s worst movies, one of which inspired me to petition The Hauge for human rights violations. Also, Ryan’s Daughter exhausted me. Although not the debacble that reputation suggests, it’s a script and movie at war with themselves, unable to apportion time spent on the Sylvia Miles-Christopher Jones tryst versus the larger cast of Irish rustics. David Lean helps matters not a jot by pacing the first forty-five minutes as if he were clearing his throat. Robert Mitchum is in there, bemused.

The Florida Project (Baker, 2017) 3/10
Rebel in the Rye (Strong, 2017) 1/10
Brad’s Status (White, 2017) 6/10
Graduation (Mungiu, 2017) 6/10
The Big Sick (Showalter, 2017) 5/10
mother! (Aronofksy, 2017) 4/10
Paris Can Wait (Coppola, 2017) 3/10
The Unknown Girl (2016, Dardenne, Dardenne) 6/10
Ryan’s Daughter (Lean, 1970) 5/10
The Breaking Point (Curtiz, 1950) 8/10
Pursued (Walsh, 1947) 7/10
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936, Renoir) 9/10

Movie Love #6

Here is the last month’s haul!

The Untamed (Escalante, 2017) 7/10
Wind River (Sheridan, 2017) 8/10
Amnesia (Schroeder, 2017) 6/10
A Ghost Story (Lowery, 2017) 7/10
Dunkirk (Nolan, 2017) 5/10
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (Howard, 2016) 7/10
* A Perfect World (Eastwood, 1993) 5/10
* The Age of Innocence (Scorsese, 1993) 8/10
* Top Secret! (Zuckers-Abraham, 1984) 8/10
The Last Metro (Truffaut, 1979) 6/10
The Unforgiven (Huston, 1960) 4/10
* Pickup on South Street (Fuller, 1953) 8/10
Caught (Ophuls, 1949) 8/10
They Live By Night (Ray, 1948) 8/10
* Pandora’s Box (Pabst, 1927) 10/1