12 May 2012

NOTES ON DVD VIEWING 4

High Sierra with Bogart & Lupino
35 SHOTS OF RHUM (Dir. Clair Denis, 2008, France/Germany) - Bearing strong similarities with Ozu’s Late Spring, this is a superior melodrama with a wonderfully evocative score by Tindersticks. This is more Jazz than cinema and the end shot of a rice cooker is magnificent.

THE RED AND THE WHITE (Dir. Milkos Jancso, 1967, Hungary) - What terrified most about this one was Jancso's ability to use endless long takes to not only prolong the horror of war but show the way war is never ending and perpetual. 

TINY FURNITURE (Dir. Lena Dunham, 2010, US) - Rising star Lena Dunham is currently in the spotlight for her new TV series HBO series Girls. Dunham is a prime example and perhaps one of the icons of the YouTube generation but her skills as a director also extend to a vibrant feel for dialogue. Tiny Furniture is a laid back observational comedy with some excellent performances. 

DON 2 (Dir. Farhan Akhtar, 2011, India) - I am the King! Yawn...another tailor made narcissistic fantasy.

BARTON FINK (Dir. Coens, 1991, US) - A key work from the Coen Brothers, Barton Fink is anchored by a terrific central performance by John Turturro. However, it is John Goodman as madman Munt who steals the show. A classic and perhaps the definitive cinematic statement on the psychosis of writer’s block.

Barton Fink
INTO THE ABYSS (Dir. Werner Herzog, 2011, US) - The subject of death row has become a popular narrative form for many filmmakers and it has inevitably transformed into a distinct genre. Herzog’s outsider point of view sees him interview a few of the men on death row, providing a disturbing insight into a destructive consumerist fuelled America.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (Dir. Tay Garnett, 1946, US) - I forgot how long this was. Perhaps it’s too long. Both Garfield and Turner are exemplary but I somehow prefer Rafelson’s updating. Maybe its the sex, its so much more dirty with Nicholson and Lange.

I CONFESS (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1946, US) - One of Hitchcock’s weakest efforts but worth it alone for Monty Clift’s magnificent performance as the conflicted priest.

LAS ACACIAS (Dir. Pablo Giogrelli, 2011, Argentina) - A road movie without any words. Godard re translated - in this case, all you need to make a film is a vehicle, a man and a cute baby. 

MARIANNE AND JULIANE (Dir. Margarethe von Trotta, 1981, Germany) - Von Trotta’s political critique examines the attempts made by a middle class German society in the 1960s and 70s to become revolutionaries. It’s one of the best films I have come across on the political cost of trying to stay true to a radical oppositional ideology that challenges the very systems that are in place.  

Marianne & Juliane
ACCATONE (Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1961, Italy)  - A hymn from the gutter. Pasolini’s most celebrated film and his most accessible in many ways is about the urban sub proletariat. A million miles away from the world of neo realism, Accatone is a radical work, which is just as important as a film like Breathless and L’Aventura. 

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (Dir. Steven Spielberg, 2011, US)  - This is old school Spielberg, replicating the magic of the Indiana Jones films but with revolutionary eye opening motion capture technology. A proper adventure with a solid script. It’s obvious the next Indiana Jones entry needs to be animated.

INTIMATE LIGHTING (Dir. Ivan Passer, 1965, Czechoslovakia) - Ivan Passer is best known for his cult neo noir Cutter’s Way with Jeff Bridges. Before he came to America, Passer forged a name for himself with the 1960s Czech new wave. Intimate Lightning is deeply idiosyncratic.

THE AGRONOMIST (Dir. Jonathan Demme, 2003, US) - Jonathan Demme’s deeply moving account of Jean Dominique and Radio Haiti as an authentic voice of the millions of oppressed peasants locked out of the political process.  

JOE (Dir. John G. Avildsen, 1970, US) - Joe could be viewed as a template for the white male angst sub genre in which frustrations are misplaced and violence becomes the foremost outlet for a repressed social contempt. Released in 1970 and starring Peter Boyle in the lead role, Joe is a brilliant dissection of the counter culture movement.

Baaria
BAARIA (Dir. Giuseppe Tornatore, 2009, Italy) - I haven't followed Tornatore's career since Cinema Paradiso but Baaria is a slice of magical realism, recalling De Sica's Miracle in Milan, mounted on an epic scale with a evocative score by Morricone and terrific cinematography by Enrico Lucidi.

ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (Dir. Erle C. Kenton, 1932, US) - This is the best adaptation of H. G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. With a cast featuring a devilish Charles Laughton and impressive sets including an island populated by some of the science fiction/horror genre's most unsavoury of characters, this is a lost classic which is ripe for rediscovery.

HIGH SIERRA (Dir. Raoul Walsh, 1946, US) - An out and out classic with one of Bogart's great performances as the ignoble Mad Dog Earle. High Sierra can also be interpreted as an existential thriller that influenced much of Melville's and Michael Mann's anti-heroes struggling with the metaphysics of not having enough time. With John Huston as co-writer, Ida Lupino in support and Raoul Walsh at the helm, what more could any cinephile want from a film.

KAHAANI / STORY (Dir. Sujoy Ghosh, 2012, India) - This is a perfectly executed thriller with a superb twist ending that really does work. Shot entirely in Calcutta and starring the ever dependable Vidya Balan, Kahaani puts much of mainstream Indian cinema to shame. Highly recommended.
35 Shots of Rhum - the rice cooker

1 comment:

  1. Such a well written post.. Thnkx for sharing this post!

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