My Week in Film (2/15 - 2/21)

Go! Go! Go! (1962-1964)
(Directed by Marie Menken)

"Yet for Menken, animation also became a way of radically transforming the world around her, reimagining postwar New York City, for example, in her masterpiece of single frame cinematography Go! Go! Go! (1962-64), a work that condenses two years of patient documentary filmmaking into a delirious and exhilarating vision of a hyperactive city."

Okay, I didn't find it delirious or exhilarating. Mostly it amused me how strange and bizarre some things look at that speed. The patterns of ships avoiding each other in the harbor or of people on the beach or of sidewalks and streets are made new again by seeing them this way. But that wasn't enough for me. Because I'm an asshole.

Living (1971)
(Directed by Franz Zwartjes)

A couple enter their new apartment, and it's creepy. They seem to be wearing this ghoulish makeup and the camerawork accentuates the off-kilter quality of the short. The camera is held by the dude (the director) as he films himself and the wife going around the apartment which is mostly empty. There's lots of strange camera movements that and there's some interesting editing when the wife lays down on the bed (?) and the music is pretty interesting (noisy nothings in the background), but ultimately I didn't take much away from it. Interesting experience, I guess.

Out of the Blue (1980)
(Directed by Dennis Hopper)

Linda Manz is a tough-talking punk who loves Elvis. She lives with her mom, skips school all the time, and gets into a whole lot of trouble. Her dad is played by Hopper. He's in jail. Things will happen. It's so goddamn sad and lonely. I love that entire part where she runs away from home to go the city and has all these crazy ass adventures that are actually pretty fucked up and terrible. I love that random singing dude in the street. When he finishes singing, you can hear Hopper behind the camera cheering him on. And Manz's smile when she gets to play drums with that one bad is so beautiful. The turns the story takes later on are kind of a little too over the top, but the rawness that the performers give the material just enough to survive for me. I mean, it's better to burn out than to fade away, right? GREAT FILM.

To Have and Have Not (1944)
(Directed by Howard Hawks)

I can see what my evil twin is talking about vis a vis this and Casablanca, but he's wrong. I mean, I knew this was really great early on and pretty much nothing changed my mind, but it doesn't reach the iconic heights of Casablanca for me. I think it has to do with the character of Eddie. He's just kind of annoying and is only there to make trouble for Bogart's character. Anyway, Bogart and Bacall are seriously amazing. So many damn cigarettes being lit all over the place. HOT! Also, it's hard to deny how cool Bogart looks in that outfit. Damn lean and handsome. And those were the things I noticed about the film. I don't know what they add up to, but I loved it nonetheless. It's just a feeling you get, and when you get it, you know it in your gut, "this one's a keeper." I like this Hawks fella. He sure knew how to make them.

Lucky Star (1928)
(Directed by Frank Borzage)

Janet Gaynor is sublime in this film. It's not anything special, really, just her face. She just makes you feel the moments of happiness and the moments of sadness, and all she has to do is slightly alter her face. Something like that. She's this little dirty child at the beginning of the film and by the end she's this mature woman or something and the transformation and the moments of beauty (like when she just looks up with wonder at that one dress) really melted my heart. The film exists in this strange space where downtrodden individuals can see each other through broken windows and really, truly believe that they can love. It should not surprise then that the ending of the film is unbelievable. Love conquers logic and reality. You know what? Fuck logic and fuck reality. Lucky Star is excellent.

Liliom (1930)
(Directed by Frank Borzage)

Really bizarre film. Charles Farrell plays Liliom a carousel barker who's apparently an artist even though we never see what he actually does. Mostly he just drinks and chases the girls. Then he meets a girl who seems to have nothing but devotion for him. The whole thing is some weird ass paean to the irrationality of love. The performances are all weird and mannered in their own way and everyone seems to be trying to deliver their line in the weirdest/slowest way possible. And what they're saying is bizarre, too. While Julie is on the ground comforting Liliom in what's supposed to be a really dramatic scene, the cops undercut it with some totally banal talk. And Liliom keeps calling Julie bird names (?) and none of it seems to make sense, and the end is like this totally messed up thing that's saying that there's beauty in abuse (he hit me and it felt like a kiss~). But some of this movie is ridiculously beautiful. That entire carousel bit casts the film the film in the realm of some bizarre fairy tale and so it's hard to take any of it very seriously and when the trains jump into rooms from huge ass windows, roujin's heart leaps out into the streets and dances like David Bowie.

Little Man, What Now? (1934)
(Directed by Frank Borzage)

As the movie makes clear, we are the little man, struggling against a universe which is indifferent to us. It is depression-era Germany and unemployment is widespread. If there is something I've figured out about Borzage from watching these three movies in quick succession is that he's a hyper-romantic (kinda like of Carax in a way). He treats his lovers as the center of the universe and the outside world is against them at every turn. What Borzage does is overwhelm the reality of their world thru artifice (miracle endings / studio shenanigans) in order to give them more hope. This film basically follows the lovers as the dude gains and loses jobs and he returns home every night to his wife, the source of his strength and happiness. They go thru up and downs and everything seems lost but then we learn that there's nothing too fear. Goddamn, those closeups killed me. Margaret Sullavan just glows! This is an ardently romantic and emotional movie. I loved it.

Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Little Man, What Now?

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