Monday, November 14, 2016

saved from letterboxd

Elle a passé tant d'heures sous les sunlights..., Philippe Garrel, 1985

Shadows of shadows of shadows. This time, the autobiographic fragments that return again and again in Garrel's work never crystallize into at least somehow self-identical bodies (like they do in later films, and even in the previous L'ENFANT SECRET), but float around freely, as if they're up for grabs. He makes one of his most beautiful films by letting go of form, focus, fixed identities, body tension, and sometimes even texture - although I once again got the feeling, that it's just not possible to film a window in Paris without the result being beyond beautiful (of course, that feeling changes at once when leaving Garrel's world...). Every shot in this is at the same time part of an impenetrable illusory maze and completely transparent towards the moment of shooting.
Garrel asking Doillon for advice on how best to film his son is the sweetest thing.

Monpti, Helmut Käutner, 1957

dubious plotting not only elevated, but thorougly blown up (not like a bomb, but like fireworks) by käutner's almost manic sense of mise en scene, buchholtz's elastic acting and schneider's hidden sadness. the result might at first be a bit annoying, because everyone involved seems to give in to his / her most baroque instincts, but in the end it turns out to be, i think, a bona fide meta-escapism masterpiece. artifice trumps artifice.

Nocturnal Animals, Tom Ford, 2016

Tom Ford has a knack for ass match cuts, but, unlike someone like Refn, he never commits to his own obscenity. Nor to his own sadism. Behind the meta fiction smoke-screen, the lifeless stylisation and the extremely stupid oppositions all boiling down to cruel nature vs rotten civilisation, this is all about setting up elaborate traps for the characters and then congratulating oneself (with another match cut) when they're taken in.

Gyllenhaal's decent performance adds some weight that feels completely unearned. All the other characters are so badly written, they're beyond saving anyway, so one can't really blame the actors for not even trying. Amy Adams especially has the most ungrateful leading lady role in recent memory - she spends most of the film being punished by a book. For being "not creative". Or for living in LA, who knows, who cares.

The Last Dragon, Michael Schultz, 1985

A very energetic popcultural curiosity that seems to switch between different levels of knowingness almost scene by scene. Michael Schultz's direction is always competent - and borders on genius when it comes to the Bruce-Lee-inserts - although the set-up is clearly too much out there (and too much entrenched in Motown's hit factory) for his down-to-earth approach to character and dialogue. Especially the central romance would've worked better with at least some groundings in reality. The weird supporting characters on the other hand are always way more fun than they have any right to be. My favorites are the three asian guys "guarding" the fortune cookie factory - there's not one bit of justification for their presence in the film, and still every time time they appear the screen lights up.

Also btw: In some ways, this might be the perfect counter-Trump movie, if released right now.

Ator l'invincibile, Joe d'Amato, 1982

in honor of the straub / huillet / ford series at austrian film museum 2004 i propose a supplement: straub / huillet / d'amato. this one would play beautifully alongside MOSES AND ARON.

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