Tuesday, January 22, 2019

letterboxd backup (1)

because who knows how long the grass is green over there...


The Thief of Bagdad, Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, 1940

-are you afraid?
-yes, terribly.
-why don't you run away?
-i want to look.


The Cloud-Capped Star, Ritwik Ghattak, 1960

The richness of the world, indefinitely intensified by our inability to fully take part in it. But in the end, Ghatak doesn't need much more than Supriya Choudhury's face pitted against diamond window grids to arrive at one of the most powerfull definitions of cinema I know.
Also, compared to this, most other films don't even have sound design.


Deep Blue Sea, Renny Harlin, 199

sharks below, fire above. this is cinema.


China Concerto, Bo Wang, 2012

The material itself is at least partly interesting, as it focuses on artifacts of Chinese mainstream culture largely absent from most of the films of the country's recent documentary movement... but still, for me this almost perfectly embodies everything that's wrong with contemporary essay films - a form that these days more often than not doesn't signifiy intellectual engagement, but rather vague non-commitment, second-hand knowledge, structural and maybe most of all linguistic laziness.

The voice over starts almost every single sentence with phrases such as: "he wrote", "you say", "I began to notice". This is not about recognizing and working with language's non-objectivity, but it's rather an attempt to hide the obvious (even for someone without first hand knowledge of China) overgeneralisations of the cultural analysis behind smokescreens of faux reflexivity. Ending a string of sentences with a statement like "but I guess that's how it works" is not thinking, but "intellectual counterfeit money" (Werner Herzog).

The film itself might not even warrant such harsh words. It's just one symptom among all too many.


Rendenzvous With Annie, Allan Dwan, 1946

who else but dwan could prove - with almost mathematical rigor - that it indeed IS possible to have your cake and eat it too.


The Cannibals, Kao Pao Shu, 1972

Not a particularly carefully crafted film outside of the fight scenes. But oh my god the fight scenes! Ecstatic, joyous, communal celebrations of the pro-filmic like this are at least one of the reasons why movies exist and matter.


Riley the Cop, John Ford, 1926

Starts nice, but more or less hits a brick wall once the plot moves to Germany. I can relate.


The House of 72 Tenants, Chor Yuen, 1973

Come for the perfectly constructed comedic setpieces, stay for the sprawling, all-encompassing sense of community, and stay bewitched for at least weeks thereafter by the beautiful yellow light illuminating scene after scene.


Arsenic and Old Lace, Frank Capra, 1944

Both Capra's direction and Grant's acting somewhat make up in brute force for what they lack in elegance and agility. And a film which knows what to do with a staircase is always appreciated. But still, when compared to what Allan Dwan and Dennis O'Keefe did at the same time for Edward Small, this feels like community theater of the clunkier sort.

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