My Week in Film (2/2 - 2/8)

Amateur (1994)
(Directed by Hal Hartley)

Man, so great! I'm trying to remember all the stuff about sort of conflicting personalities and identities and the fucking hilarious hitmen (who have business degrees) and just the perfect dialogue and sensibility at display. It's all about undermining what usually happens. People breaking free from what's expected of them. Starting anew (I'm a mover and a shaker or whatever). All the performances are great (god, I love Martin Donovan!). Anyway, there's a moment late in the film that kind of encapsulates what's so great about this film (and Hartley). Pretty much all the characters find themselves at a convent. One of the nuns opens the door and everyone sort of looks at the nun (and is arranged) in this really hilarious way that tells you everything you need to know about the film and about these characters (and about me). Loved it.


Behindert (1974)
(Directed by Stephen Dwoskin)

I'm very surprised that I ended up liking this. I mean, it's basically just 90 minutes of some dude filming a girl's face and his apartment. And, yet, it turned out to be very moving in its own weird way. The film starts off with a 10 or so minute scene detailing how they meet. The camera falls in love with this (not very cute) girl. It's kind charming. She keeps glancing at the camera (filmmaker) and it's pretty awesome. You're like "yeah, exactly!" Then it moves into some of the most intimate scenes I think I've ever seen in any film. It feels like you're watching someone's home films. It's so private and delicate and up close and you're kind of wondering how the film will continue. The film sort of develops their relationship throughout the entire film (with very, very little dialogue). At points, it's kind of exasperating but, again, this really intimate atmosphere that the film has is what makes it not only interesting but almost even heartbreaking. hmmm.


Fucking Åmål (1998)
(Directed by Lukas Moodisson)

Better than Sunrise.

Yeah. I just basically understood these characters and could see them all around me (in various manifestations). Fuck, SHE HAS A PICTURE OF MORRISSEY IN HER BEDROOM. These things matter as do the way the camera zooms sort of intensify the focus on the film's characters and the awesome use of music, not only highlighting but being an essential part in understanding the characters. Because, ultimately, it's all about that and if the film doesn't get you on that level then whatever (to you). Most of the characterizations are pretty much pitch-perfect to me (except the girl in the wheelchair) and the way they're handled (arcs and whatnot) is awesome (especially, the dude guy with that bit at the end with him crying). The ending is kinda too obvious but if it works for them, it works for me. I could see myself revisiting this and falling more into it. Just loved the heady confusion of it all. Yeah!


Eden and After (1970)
(Directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet)

Just a lot of games. Silly games. With naked ladies in cages thrown in. And doppelgangers. And bad dancing.

It's all those things. Yeah, sure. But it's also at points pretty boring. It starts off very intriguingly as it follows these students as they do hang out at a cafe and play improvised games and be French or whatever. Then some stranger guy appears, teaches them new games then suddenly some oblique plot regarding a stolen painting, Tunisia and whatever is introduced. I like the sort of ridiculous bullshit construction that this movie is (and it's kinda funny in that way) but as the film becomes nothing but scenes of this girl running around the desert, writhing around (making no sense to me), you figure out that it's just all a big game. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. To its credit, it looks great with some pretty awesome art direction and color and whatever. Interesting use of sometimes contrapuntal sound (liked that piano bit).


Surviving Desire (1991)
(Directed by Hal Hartley)

Oh, Hartley. Oh, Donovan! This almost makes me want to read Dostoyevsky!

I also feel that this film is probably his most explicitly about ideas. I mean, all of his films are in a way. But this one feels like it's working out those ideas more in the narrative (or, at least, that's how I noticed it). Probably cuz I feel there's more intellectual platituding going on here than in the other ones (maybe cuz it's related to academia and whatever). Anyway, this was good. Donovan reading Dostoyevsky to his students while dodging books and throwing chalk, dance sequence and characters are who are trapped by knowledge, building walls around life, etc. So that hit home. Because I've always felt that the pursuit of knowledge was important perhaps more important than other things (although I'd trade it all for other bullshit -- not that I know much but that's a totally different thing :lol:). Anyway, I think I should rate it higher cuz it totally makes sense to me in like nine different levels but I feel its too short (although it works perfectly as is) but that may just be because I can't get enough. I don't know.


Naked Childhood (1968)
(Directed by Maurice Pialat)

man, what a kid. what a devil. I mean, we're all rooting for Antoine Doinel but who's rooting for this kid? This kid who steals everything in sight, throws cats around, and is generally crazy. Or misunderstood. Or something. It's harder to sympathize with this one. Apparently, Truffaut produced this film which is funny cuz the attitude that Pialat takes toward his main character is completely different than 400 Blows. It's tough, unsentimental (almost too much) and bracing (reflected in the style of the film). But it also gets at something interesting regarding foster kids and the general confusion and lack of motives that most of us seem to have regarding our actions. I mean, I don't get why I do some things. Maybe this kid got fucked up cuz his mom left him and he's been bouncing around homes ever since or whatever. Or maybe he's the kid from The Omen. Whatever. Whatever. Whatever. Life's a bitch.


Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)
(Directed by Thom Andersen)

Just fantastic. This is almost three hours but it flies by so fast as it blends film criticism along with architecture, politics, bullshit, HILARITY, and other stuff into some pretty great observations about Los Angeles (that one city that I was born in, I guess). There's lots of great stuff as the dude talks about the evolution of gas stations, the disappearance of neighborhoods, the ideology behind disaster movies and "secret history" movies such as Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. There's just so much awesome stuff to be found here (plus movie recommendations galore! -- I almost want to watch L.A. Plays Itself Image). But I think what I like about it the best is that Andersen's heart is with those films that have been forgotten such as The Exiles, Bush Mama, Bless Their Little Hearts, etc. My list of stuff to watch has grown. GROWN!


Rachel Getting Married (2008)
(Directed by Jonathan Demme)

I really have no use for these people or for their spending habits or for their tolerance and appropriation of other cultures. That shit don't appeal to me (although I think it's kinda hilarious the lenghts they go to to seem open-minded). A lot of it really is interminable (I pretty much hated all the rehearsal stuff including Kim's awkward toast or whatever). But once you get past the opulent spending habits of these people (and all their bullshit) and get to the core of the characters, I think it's pretty successful. Divorced from their socioeconomic crap, these people are sympathetic and their problems are interesting and I like the way that nothing is really resolved and you wonder what will happen next for these people. so... i'm conflicted about this...


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Los Angeles Plays Itself

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