Saturday, March 29, 2008

Week In Review - oo8/13


Unfaithfully Yours - This 1948 Preston Sturges comedy was quite splendid for the first hour. The dialog razor sharp, the performances crisp and the black and white images perfect. Then there was a series of bizarre fantasy sequences cued by a long dolly zoom directly into the main character's eye while he conducted an orchestra. The first was gripping, the second not so much and the onset of the third lost me. The remainder of the film is dedicated to undoing the elements of the fantasies.
Sturges was know for his slapstick comedies sending up society. This film is absurd slapstick romp filmed as if it were film noir. In spite of claims that it's a masterpiece, I think it's an experiment gone painfully awry.

McCabe and Mrs Miller - see earlier post.

Paranoid Park - see earlier post.

L'Atalante - Regarded as one of, if not the best films ever made. I see its mastery and liked it, especially the first half. It seemed very primitive compared to other films of its era. Its magical elements were indeed that, but they didn't seem connected to the whole.

Breakfast on Pluto - I grabbed this Neil Jordan film off the shelf at the library thinking I needed a break from the stack of black and white, subtitled films on my nightstand. It didn't waste my time. Nor did it annoy me outright. Cillian Murphy is a little waxy and waifish for me. And the whole thing, though it was set in Ireland and England during the Troubles, never had any gravitas. I suppose maybe that was the point -- that a tranny had so much to contend with that she let the Troubles roll right off of her back. In the end, I would describe it as a cheap, homosexual take on Amelie. So give me the poetic realists, the neorealists, the German Expressionists and the Poles anytime.

The Sound of Music - Can you believe I've never seen it before? I liked it. It seemed a bit slow and laterally moving. Some of the songs are beautiful and some of them are like, oh here they go again.

Dr. Mabuse the Gambler - Interesting film. More or less the source for all villainy conventions in films and comic books. It moves along at quite a pace and then becomes incredibly slow. It's like reading a children's book. Like you've become more grammatically sophisticated and can see what's coming as they plod on with the unfolding of the story. Shows how far we've come in eighty years of watching movies.
When it comes to movies like this I realize I'm a filmmaker and a fan of cinema more than I'm a film historian. In other words I don't like something because it has a hallowed reputation and I'm supposed to appreciate it on that basis alone.

Umberto D. - In this simple film DeSica creates agonizing drama out of the lack of communication between people. The solitude of the main character is suffocating. All done without affectation or effects. Beautiful.


Love Is Colder Than Death by Robert Katz - A Fassbinder biography. I've only read a couple of chapters. RMF was incredibly decadent. That I knew, but this book makes it more specific. In 1987 I was living in Germany, hanging out in Munich from time to time. My friends took me to an artist's collective that Fassbinder was a part of to hang out one night. He died five years earlier in '82, but his spirit and the awe it commanded were alive in that place.

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