My Week in Film (7/27 - 8/2)

Lancelot du Lac (1974)
(Directed by Robert Bresson)

Bresson is such a weirdo. Instead of filming the parts of a jousting battle that people actually care about, he just shoots the hooves of horses galloping. But this is what makes him a great man. There's great beauty in the kneeling to kiss the hem of Guinevere's dress while clanging armors sneak around corridors. The beginning of the film is kinda amazing as you're tossed into ridiculously over the top violence which is as alien an element in the Bresson universe as, well, emotive acting or something. Then I got really into all the horses and the jealousy and infighting and Gawain has to be coolest motherfucker in existence. And those quiet moments that Lancelot and Guinevere share are really stupendous (I love hugs!). Basically, all the same gestures and poses and artificial whachamacall it that Bresson reveres and upholds, it's all here. Plus, it's got beheadings. It's awesome!


Cabin in the Sky (1943)
(Directed by Vincente Minnelli)

This is a beautiful, beautiful film. Sure, it's sometimes way too old-timey and has its fair share of stereotypes, but how can you resist a film that posits Ethel Waters as the center of morality and beauty? This is totally and completely her film. My heart is set aflutter when she sings "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe" and when she looks toward heaven hoping for God to show her Little Joe, that shiftless no-account, a little patience and understanding, I'm so fucking happy. It's just damn lovely. And when Little Joe almost breaks down to the charms of the local girl, Georgia Brown, and belts out with his entire fucking throat "Life is Full of Consequences," well, as they say, it just doesn't get better. These characters, their luck, their lack of it, their choices, their everything. It's just beautiful. How could you not love this?


Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
(Directed by Nicholas Ray)

No one told me this film was so weird. You got your teens and their fucked up parents. Your incest and your switched up gender roles and you got a very confused James Dean. You could even say that they're "tearing him apart" or something. Actually, I didn't really like that. And I'm not entirely sure how much I liked Dean. He's really fascinating at points (his body language, and the way he speaks), and, at other points, his acting consists of making weird, anguished faces that come out more as funny faces. However, the "you're tearing apart" thingie comes across as a weirdo actor nonsense. It honestly comes out of nowhere for me and his awkward delivery and facial expression just make it seem really weird. Then you got Plato who's about as queer and fucked as they come (and looks like he's 14). Instead of earnest, he comes off as creepy (which is what makes it so fascinating, I guess). All the iconic set pieces are entrancing not only because of their emotional content but just in the way they're photographed and staged (this stuff is really beginning to get to me, dude!). It's kind a weird beast of a film in that it's kinda ridiculous but totally heartfelt and when those tender family moments occur, it achieves this kind of strange poignancy that I would've never guessed was there at the beginning (I mean, really, "who lives?" COME ON!). That said, give me Farley Granger any day :lol:


The Gay Divorcee (1934)
(Directed by Mark Sandrich)

Absolutely lovely! I didn't think it would amount too much at first but as it progressed and it dropped the supporting players (who although funny can't hold a candle to the things Fred and Ginger are doing) it got much, much better. Well, pretty much all the stuff at the hotel is gold. From Fred's advances to Ginger's negligee and that crazy Italian correspondent, it's all hilarious and romantic and wonderful. The extended "The Continental" number is actually pretty good (although still kinda long) and features some impressive editing and camera movement and, damn, if I didn't have fun. Ginger wasn't as impressive as she was in Swing Time where I feel she got to really shine but damn if she isn't the most perfect woman ever. Oh, what's this about again? Oh, right, the movie. Well, uh. . . it's kinda awesome.


The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)*
(Directed by Judd Apatow)

Still pretty fun but I kinda got douche vibes after a while. I didn't particularly like the hot granny trying to make the virgin sell his toys mainly because it reeked of manufactured drama (which is the worst kind). Basically, I liked the funny bits and the cute bits while the tentative romance struck me as mostly genuine. The Apatow people should really bring back Romany Malco into the fold because he's fucking hilarious. I have no idea of what the context of his genius line "we fuck! dwarfs in the ass!" is but just the fact that he shouts it is hilarious. Still while the comedy is pretty good and I still think the "know how I know you're gay?" bit is funny, Apatow's bland and sometimes awkward direction (whoa, the camera's handheld and shaky to show the pain that Carrell is going thru!!!) kinda makes me not like it more. Basically, there's nothing interesting there. But, does there have to be? These are the great formal questions of our time. Where are you, Kiarostami?!


The Doom Generation (1995)
(Directed by Gregg Araki)

A heterosexual movie by Gregg Araki. It's basically the most blatant and ridiculous apocalypse everywhere with the world trying to kill the young lovers at every turn. You got your "normal" het couple played with wonderful vapidity by James Duval and awesome disaffected charm by Rose McGowan. Introduce sexual liberator and go! The film's over the top depiction of violence is perfectly in line with the film's overall design and aesthetic that's both campy but loves its characters anyway (how else to account for the touching moments when the characters reach out to each other or become so confused by what's going on that they seemingly drift off for a few seconds). Araki is all closeups on faces, overhead shots of food items, weirdo editing, extremely tactile closeups on random actions, post-rock dissolves, weirdo production design. It's a world perfectly consistent with itself. What's the story here? Can't these two boys just love each other? Nah, not in these united states. USA USA USA! If it helps, it's also fucking hilarious.


Observe and Report (2009)
(Directed by Jody Hill)

That kinda sums up the movie, really. It's so almost pathetically funny and awkward that the laughs that do come out feel like a relief or something. The film is pretty contemptuous and unpleasant and there's not really anyone to root for or whatever like there is in most comedies. But I guess that's what's interesting about it. Seth Rogen is actually pretty good here in this totally delusional performance. I loved that description of his dream to the psychologist and how he mimes shooting her. LOL. Sometimes it works as weird anti-comedy when a montage of Michael Pena and Rogen having fun at the mall somehow ends up in a bathroom stall with Pena doing heroin. It's totally sad and hilarious. The movie's kinda tonally all over the place with scenes that are more normally funny coming right after something totally pathetic and sad. So, it's interesting and the places it goes to are pretty surprising and intense for a "comedy" or whatever. It felt like a lot like The King of Comedy in that the reason I don't like it more is just that I find it hard to watch someone who is kinda delusional in this way or whatever. So, not as terrible as you thought! It's probably better than I'm saying it is.


Kissing on the Mouth (2005)
(Directed by Joe Swanberg)

I can't get beyond the feeling that there's really no control behind these images. It felt extremely shapeless and half-formed. Swanberg never really defines any sort of space for me. It's like these characters are just left hanging around in a weird vacuum inside the frame where nothing exists besides them. It's just sorta zooms in on their faces or random body parts and then follows them as they move around. It's not very enjoyable. The acting is kinda piss poor; not naturalistic or whatever, just pretty bad. I felt bad for them whenever Swanberg tries to cut between two parties who are having a conversation and they kinda start laughing awkwardly. It just came off as amateur hour at some parts. That said, I did like the portrayal of sexuality for the most part and what is acceptable to show. For example, we see an extremely private moment for one of the main characters as she shaves and trims her pubic hair. In another segment, Swanberg jerks off in the shower (money shot included!). There's lots of sex and crap and the more tender moments of contact when it's just kinda an overwhelming amount of skin (like the screenshot above) are the ones that worked the best for me, because it kinda illustrated why these characters sorta maybe liked to get lost in each other for a bit; lost in each other's flesh, so as not to have to deal with bigger problems. But, still, it's just kinda crappy, and whatever other thematic crap there might be I just don't want to deal with, mainly cuz of the extremely ramshackle presentation. roujin is not amused.


Body and Soul (1947)
(Directed by Robert Rossen)

I'm not sure words can accurately describe the bruised poetry that's in John Garfield's face at the end of this film; it's fucking wonderful. Just like this film. The story isn't that great but the players and the execution elevate it toward something almost majestic. John Garfield is kind of a revelation as the prizefighter who loses sight of what's important. He's so damn lovable even if he won't listen, even as he returns to the woman he loves early in the morning, even as he does the wrong thing. Maybe that's the thing. Maybe that's the thing with me. I don't even care what this movie's about. When you walk toward happiness with the one you love, everything is fine. you're a man after my heart.


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Cabin in the Sky

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