My Week in Film (8/24 - 8/30)

Slow Motion (1980)
(Directed by Jean-Luc Godard)

Don't really have any clue what to make of this. Some moments fascinate me, just in the way that they're framed and the way Godard uses aural/visual juxtapositions to disorient or illuminate or whatever. Sounds from one scene show up at the next, characters speak over scenes they're not in, they start questioning where the sound is coming from. Interesting stuff. I sort of got in to the story a little bit, whatever I could catch, that has Jaques Dutronc playing a giant asshole and Isabelle Huppert playing a prostitute (which leads to the film's most funny(?)/demeaning scene - some sort of rube goldberg sex thing, it's weird). Her trade is sometimes contrasted with scenes of everyday city life (YES, LIVING A NORMAL LIFE CONSTITUTES A SORT OF PROSTITUTION). Basically, the joys of the film were solitary and rooted in the stylistic devices (those slo-mo things are cool + the nice synth score) rather than anything else - I wasn't sure what ideas or concepts to engage with or how the characters even fit together into something I could make sense of, but, I sorta do like it, maybe just cuz of that final sequence which is coldly beautiful, if that makes sense. Basically, I don't know what to make it, and I was both bored but intrigued enough by it to like it. I couldn't find an entry point. These last few sentences make no sense. YEAH.


Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)
(Direted by Sergio Leone)

Nothing cold but about this one. It's totally elegiac nonsense and I loved every single second of it. You know, I don't get why other directors keep using closeups after this film. There's just no point. There's nothing better than Charles Bronson's face in this film. All those fucking lines and everything. I loved that long opening scene, too. Just the way that the figures move in the landscape, so slow and measured, all coming into their exact place; their movements choreographed into something beautiful, larger than itself. And then there's the rest of the film with Cardinale's great performance, Charles Bronson's beautiful badassery and Henry Fonda's end-of-an-era baddie (are you a businessman or are you a man?). There's just no stopping these collisions that play out against a dying background (or a flourishing one, depending on who you are). Every second of every buildup is beautiful and the score is overwhelming. roujin, do you remember love?


The Family Jewels (1965)
(Directed by Jerry Lewis)

I thought I wouldn't like this much until the last 15 minutes when it all of a sudden gets kind of brilliant for a while. That whole drill team sequence with Lewis ordering them around, turning them about, pulling them in different directions. I like how it could be a comment on his own film, he has all these disparate elements that threaten to go out of control but somehow he reins them all in and points them in the correct direction. It was awesome. It's definitely the least funny of his films and also the least engaging just cuz of the plot. Lewis kind of plays a game where he completely sabotages his own plot. The outcome of the plot is painfully obvious from the first 5 minutes so there's absolutely no point in focusing on it. Instead, the film will drop the plot for long stretches of time as it pursues a random comic set piece (the most extreme example would be the 10 or so minutes that the film devotes to Uncle Eddie's flying attempts). Since the outcome of the movie is obvious, they might as well spend some time with the funny uncles. Also thought it was interesting that Uncle Everett, the clown, is the one character in the film with absolutely no redeeming qualities (he hates children/his audience; stand-in for Lewis as he's known as a clown?). It's interesting stuff. Anyway, least funny, but still interesting and I still had fun with it.


Hail Mary (1985)
(Directed by Jean-Luc Godard)

astoundingly beautiful film that recasts the story of Mary in modern times. so, when Mary finds out she's pregnant, her boyfriend assumes she's been unfaithful (even after the doctor confirms that she's still a virgin). I'm still having trouble getting used to a lot of the digressions that further the thematic strands (like the professor teaching intelligent design or whatever) - a problem with 80's Godard?. The film kind deals in trying to tie the material and the spiritual together (body and soul, does the soul have a body? "what is flesh alone?"). So, the film's depiction of Mary's body is key. I'm not sure the female body has ever had a better representation on screen. Certainly, the best I've ever seen. Not sure what to say about it other than it frequently gave me goosebumps, the best kinds. Anyway, still digesting this but you should all probably see it and tell me I'm wrong soon.


Cinderfella (1960)
(Directed by Frank Tashlin)

It's not so much that it's funny as it is those few moments that are incredibly moving for whatever reason. There's that moment when his stepmother and her sons start acting nice to him all of a sudden (and their idea of being nice to him is still having him around as a maid or a butler or whatever, but he can sit in the far side of the table, just as long as he's far from them) and he goes down that hallway turning out the lights singing this one song about how he's lonely and he's looking to care for somebody. It's all shot in one long take and by the end of it, he's in the dark and hopelessly alone. So wonderful. But what I love is that the song gets a reprise at the end in what's probably one of the most lovely of all Lewis/Tashlin moments. And that's after the surprisingly desperate and heartbreaking attempt by the princess to get Lewis to stay with her. It's just the way she moves across the frame, trapped by bars on the gate from which Tashlin shoots her behind. And then. . . well. I also loved the reason for Lewis' Godfather to help him. This is for all the abused husbands out there! Whatever. Who cares? It's all magic.


City Girl (1930)
(Directed by F.W. Murnau)

A beautiful film. I loved the parts that take place in the city. It's just how the girls stands in her almost empty apartment while the train passes outside - the light, the shadows, all the stuff is so good. Then you get a reverse Sunrise thing where the lovers go out to the country. There they meet lots of challenges and they're put through a test and that shit and all those emotions are beautiful and what not. While this film is not as overwhelmingly expressive as Sunrise, it does feature its own striking images. Foremost of all is the presence of the wheat fields. That one tracking shot as the couple run in the wheat field and embrace is one of the best in all of cinema. In fact, I really can't imagine Malick not having watched this when he made Days of Heaven. The other great set piece is the hail storm. It's fantastic stuff (loved the harvesting sequences, too). So, yeah, really good film.


Christmas in July (1940)
(Directed by Preston Sturges)

Very sweet film from Preston Sturges. Powell plays some random dude who wants to win a contest, earn some money, and marry his girl. Some workers play a trick on him and, boom, he thinks he won one. What follows is pretty heartwarming stuff. But it's kind of undercut by the feeling that Powell and his girl's happiness won't last long cuz of the money they receive. This isn't as funny as the other Sturges films I've seen, it plays in a more sentimental register, which is fine by me. I guess what colors the film for me is the part where a bunch of people start throwing food at the big corporate d00d. it's fine to be sentimental and populist and all that shit, but, really? Sure, it's touching, but you don't have to go that far. Whatever. I was moved. MOVED.


Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (2006)
(Directed by Stephen Kijak)

Not really worth anything, but you do get to listen to awesome Scott Walker songs for 90 minutes. It's also kind of awesome just to hear Walker speak about past events. Like when he first went to Paris and he wanted to talk about European films, everyone wanted to talk about American films. It also shows Walker beating his meat in the studio. I still don't like The Drift very much, but I want to listen to it again. Tilt, however, is fucking awesome.



Hard Boiled (1992)
(Directed by John Woo)

man, what a ridiculous movie. But it was pretty awesome. I think at the heart of it is just how damn appealing Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung are. I love the introduction that Tony Leung gets. He's so damn cool in this movie. Anyway, I'm not sure if the art of blowing random shit to bits has been perfected more than it is here. Rooms become explosive forces as bits and pieces are ripped from anywhere and everywhere and they go flying becoming part of the FANCY WORD. It's both totally chaotic and insane but still masterful. The greatest example is that one long take where Tequila (hello!) and Tony go up the elevator. People and bullets are flying perfectly orchestrated into single concentrated bursts of mayhem. . . that is, until they go to the next enemy. So, yeah, it's awesome.


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Once Upon A Time In The West

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