Monday, August 31, 2009

Viewing Log #9: Shoe Thief [8/25/09 - 8/30/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight

kristen stewart thinks well, hard
pittsburgh is yellow
—Pale, blue

  • Husbands [John Cassavetes, 1970] # Carousing and breaking, laughing through the take: seems the most documentary of his movies, of course, yet somehow it's crisp. Maybe not as "good" as other Cassavetes pictures, but mostly a treat to watch the roundelay of macho jaunting. I want to fly to London and run in rain. I want to laugh at everything. No homo, no phony. Dig blurs at The Art of Memory. Also, I'm reminded by Simington of the Cavett interview, which I put up a couple years ago, which is kind of better than the movie and the best piece of criticism on the movie you could ever expect or hope or dream of.
  • Only Angels Have Wings [Howard Hawks, 1939] # Maybe a perfect movie, or the perfect Hawks movie? In any case, it's always a pleasure. Recently, Dan Sallitt wrote this bit of lovely.

  • The Lady From Shanghai [Orson Welles, 1947] # Loopy and obvious, and hampered no doubt by that awful "brogue" from Welles, this thing is saved by the unreal sexiness of Rita Hayworth. She's top shelf "material" here. And that's the point.

  • Metropolitan [Whit Stillman, 1990] Smart, yes, but hard for me, at this moment, to get worked up about its world and its concerns. That said, I do like Chris Eigeman and the black outs. Seems to be a theme of the week.
  • Isle of the Dead [Mark Robson, 1945] Awfully similar to The Ghost Ship in some ways, though not as good; Karloff's face is amazing.

  • Adventureland [Greg Mottola, 2009] Had me at The Replacements. One of the best soundtracks in a while. Not exactly an earth-shattering movie, but it hits the right notes to charm a sucker like me.
  • Tropical Malady [Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004] # Now here's a movie that understands the significance, and the fun, of black outs. Joe knows a lot about punctuation, and trees. For all the myths and spirits, his cinema is decidedly grounded: we're always looking up at the world.
  • Smiley Face [Greg Araki, 2007] Anna Faris makes faces and falls over things for about 90 minutes and it's a good time, vaguely intelligent, often amusing, but slight. I'm sure if I partook in its inspiration a little more (ever?) I'd feel differently about the thing.

  • Blitz Wolf [Tex Avery, 1942] Thanks to Phelps. You can watch it, too, by clicking here. DP says, "at least the Avery's a critique of war." I say, yes, it is, and smarter than the QT, but, still, that's largely avoiding what Basterds is after.
  • Inglourious Basterds [Quentin Tarantino, 2009] # Different reasons, different focal points. Still a kick in the pants. Left a ramble in the comments back here post screening.

I'll steal your shoes


  1. I've always had a real soft spot for Lady From Shanghai despite Welles' awful accent, the total shambles of the narrative structure, and the weird disconnected vibe given off by the whole affair. As you say, Hayworth is pure sex and pure class, the famous finale is famous for good reason, and there are scenes of startling clarity -- like Welles' rapturous description of a shark feeding frenzy -- that stand out from the chaos. It's one of those weird, compromised Hollywood failures, like Tod Browning's Mark of the Vampire, where the obvious mess of the construction actually adds to the film's fragmented, near-surrealist beauty.

    Only Angels is one of my favorite films, a real stunner. Thanks for the link to the Sallitt appreciation.

    Isle of the Dead has scattered moments of creepy, fog-shrouded beauty at the finale, but it's another mess and not as entertaining as the best messes.

    And Inglourious Basterds... yeah, it contains multitudes. My own rambling forthcoming on Wednesday at the House, in conversation with Jason Bellamy. There's been so much discussion of this film and I *still* don't think it's been talked out.

  2. "Joe knows a lot about punctuation, and trees."

    Wonderful - this epigram says everything!

  3. Thanks, guys, for stopping by.

    @ Ed: I should look into that Browning. I've only seen a few of his, and each is particularly perverse in delightful (frightful) ways. The real proto Cronenberg. And, yeah, I do dig _Lady from Shanghai_ in spite of its inconsistencies for everything you mention. Glad you dig _Basterds_; i'll have to look in on that conversation.

    @ Matthew: you're swell, too.