8/24/08

My Week in Film (8/18 - 8/24)

Keeping it LEGIT.



La Jetee (1962)
(Directed by Chris Marker)

When I wrote last week that I hoped that La Jetee would answer my complaints that I had with Twelve Monkeys, I already knew the answer. Yes, it does. Maybe it was the mood I was in but I completely got caught up in this. It seemed like every single image was just incredibly beautiful and the narration complemented the beauty of the images perfectly. Where as Gilliam takes the concept to tell an interesting sci-fi story, Marker sort of seems to go after and linger on what it actually means. It's interesting that in a short 25 minutes, Marker managed to evokie a great deal of emotion in me while still telling a complex story in a beautiful way. Extremely rewarding.

★★★★



Dead Man's Shoes (2004)
(Directed by Shane Meadows)

Someone asked me to defend my dislike of this film so I went ahead and DID IT.

Things I liked: I really liked the atmosphere of the film. Never been to England but I would say more than anything it does a good job in bringing you in to the everyday lives of these characters. The drug deals are small time crooks living in an endless loop of getting high/selling shit/repeat. Their lives are going nowhere. The feel of the town is oppresive which I think is matched nicely by some of the cinematography. I also really liked Considine's performance. It's extremely intense although I think his character might ring kind of false for me.

Things I didn't like: Although I liked Considine, I really didn't like his character. Not like in a "oh, I disapprove of what that character is doing" kind of way but more like "oh, that's just not belieavable." Maybe the army fucked him up good and he came back crazy but early on most of his encounters with the thugs came out of a slasher flick (albeit a highly naturalistic one). The costume aspect of Richard also added to this. I thought the film was alright if a bit annoying for the most part (soundtrack choices and poor flashback scenes took their toll) but then the ending came. Frankly, it just strikes me as silly and not tragic at all. I don't think the "reveal" added much of anything, actually. I already thought Richard was crazy so to add to that was pointless. I mean, you realize that what was done to Anthony was a lot more serious than previously but it doesn't really change my opinion or bring anything new to the Richard character.

★★


Mouchette (1967)
(Directed by Robert Bresson)

This is a film of unspeakable sadness. What makes it interesting and perhaps even more successful than other films of its ilk is Robert Bresson's style. One which regards, never intrudes, never makes judgement. One could call it a cinema of passivity. This is a story of suffering. Mouchette is a young girl trying to survive in a rural part of France. The film tells us her life in a series of short and sad vignettes each one adding even more pain to the last. Yes, bad things happen to Mouchette but I wonder what that means. And I wonder why I put myself through it. Surely, better films have been made like this but none is exactly like this. It remains unique. So I'll forgive the odd dull moment here and there because after those end, I can feel the intensity of purpose coming back to the film. It's palpable. I think I know what I mean by what I said... but I won't explain it now...

★★★



Law of Desire (1987)
(Directed by Pedro Almodovar)

It's so nice to see Antonio Banderas in a role fitting his numerous talents :D If the title didn't clue you in, the film is all about passion and desire and how sometimes Antonio Banderas goes a little crazy. At first, it seems kind of dated what with the 80s music and style but after the action moves from the club and night life and more to the boudoir those things become irreleveant. I mean, our bodies were the same in the 80s :) The film is kinda creepy and kinda sexy and sometimes even sad (Carmen Maura!!!) and by the time one of those goddamn exquisitely timed songs pop up on the soundtrack, I'm just lost in delight.

"Quien de tu vida borraras..."

★★★1/2



Shotgun Stories (2008)
(Directed by Jeff Nichols)

While I may doubt some of the things that happen in Shotgun Stories really might happen (I would hope no one took a grudge this far; probably wrong), I never doubt the place where these things happen. If nothing else, the film succeeds at creating a true to life setting. These characters live somewhere. It always feels like they are leading considered lives. Yes, even when the plot starts to kick in. However, what truly grounds the film are just various little details that make complete sense to me. Just little everyday things that round out the characters and their lives so perfectly. Overall, a real sturdy, American film. Those are pretty good, I hear.

★★★1/2




Redbelt (2008)
(Directed by David Mamet)

Fucking spoilerrific poster :D The main reason to see this film isn't so much Mamet as it is Chiwetel Ejiofor. God, this guy is a badass. I mean, sure, everything else with the film is up to par. The plot is interesting, the characters are alright, the directing capable. The writing should be the star, I guess. But the plot is ridiculously silly at points if almost on purpose (which gets points and somehow reduces the film's worth). Mostly, I just like to watch Chiwetel act; to see what he will do; how he will react. Sometimes, films are worth watching just for their actors. This is one of those cases. (Film is reasonably entertaining).

★★★



The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)
(Directed by Peter Greenaway)

Knowing faceboy, I expected something... different from the norm. I wasn't disappointed. The film very easily sets itself apart right from the opening credits. We are a witness to a party where all the participants are isolated from each other. Greenaway isolates every single conversation taking place and we never get a handle on the geography of the party. It is here that the strict symmetrical compositions that will litter the rest of the film are first introduced.



In this credit sequence, we are very handily introduced to all the main characters and the world they live in. We learn the way they talk and the way they interact with each other. It is here where the "contract" takes place.



I think I know why faceboy assigned me this film. It really reminded me of Marienbad, actually. Particularly, this shot.



The film is very calculated and excruciatingly composed and kind of funny in a strange way. It's very layered and I'm sure I missed a lot. It's a very elaborate construction. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's not. But it also feels like a mind game. Like it wants to see how much of it you get. There's nothing really wrong with that but it does make it seem pretty trivial. Much of the enjoyment of the film may be just derived from how much you understand it so I guess I'll take a crack at it.

It seems to me that the film is mainly concerned with being a visual artist, whether a director or otherwise. The film is pretty much a criticism of artists like the Draughtsman who only draws what he sees and doesn't give it a second thought. In fact, Greenaway's rigorous compositions and attention to detail (what is shown and isn't shown) could also be directly construed as a criticism against these kind of artists. The film doesn't take a nice stand against such laziness and punishes the blindness of the draughtsman in an ironic way. There's also other hints as to the film's true subject. Many scenes are viewed through some device of the draughtsman's.



Not only do we see what the Draughtsman sees but we also are witness to maybe how Greenaway sees things and arranges them. However, while the draughtsman is oblivious to what is happening in front of him, Greenaway is always in control. Everything is done for effect.

The film's plot seems pretty straightforward at first. The draughtsman is hired to do twelve drawings of an estate. Part of his contract stipulates that he can have his way with the wife of the owner of the estate 12 times as well (he's away). The film then gets started detailing the twelve different views of the house he will draw. He demands that everything be kept the same at all times and that people stir clear of the are where he is drawing. However, odd things start happening and popping about the garden. However, rather than remove them, the Draughtsman adds them to his drawing. However, he doesn't realize the significance of what he's putting in his drawing (something that Greenaway critiques). It's the contrast between the artist at display here and the things that Greenaway is doing that make the film effective. Sure, the film could also play as an allegory or many other things (I've read some that read it as some kind of political commentary) but since I only know what I think and what I know, this is where I'll stop. I hope it was worth it.

Editor's Note: This is creepy.



★★★

Jhon's Film of the Week is... La Jetee

4 comments:

johnheberle said...

la jetee is one of my favorite films ever.

i just saw redbelt as well, and i'm not so sure i can get on board with enjoying it. sure chiwetel is pretty good, but the rest of the cast is pretty awful, and mamet's script is just convoluted and repeats itself a lot.

i've had shotgun stories sitting next to my dvd player for a week, you've definitely peaked my interest.

~ kw

roujin said...

Yeah, I know what you mean on redbelt. The story is pretty ridiculous and the ending is just ludicrous. I don't know. I just had fun watching all of it unfold and seeing Chiwetel react to everything that was happening.

Thanks for the comment! Glad you're okay!

face said...

You know, I do just enjoy it. I think it's really a fantastic narrative in the way it orchestrates it's various schemes. It's also really funny and weird in some entertaining ways. Not to mention how beautifully it's shot. However, I do think you're underplaying some of the themes. There's quite a bit there about the upper class abusing the lower class because of the belief that wage is ownership. The obliviousness theme is salient, but I think it gives it short shrift to apply it only to artists and politics.

roujin said...

Yeah, I enjoyed it too. Mostly just cuz of the dialogue which was pretty funny. But, honestly, I felt this film was begging me to interpret it and think about it or whatever so I did.