by Ryland Walker Knight
— Where do you heal? Where could he be?
- Elena and her men [Jean Renoir, 1956] It's Ingrid's show, no doubt, but I was more taken by the sly Mel Ferrer and his lanky-limber rogue. That said, it's a fine metaphor for the star system, and Ingrid's go-anywhere constitution; she's great at aloof twined with cunning. Renoir says he had to improvise the whole thing, for the most part, interpreting history into a comedy, and, I think, it works thanks largely to his cast and his cousin Claude behind the camera. Still, the weakest of this set, I'd wager.
- French Cancan [Jean Renoir, 1954] Vibrant, generous paean to a world of fun, to the joyful life we'd all like to lead rich with love and dancing and art and sex and (did I say?) fun. Gabin beams.
- Partie de campagne [Jean Renoir, 1936] # Wanted to see the transition, again, and the river recede from me.
- Loulou [Maurice Pialat, 1980] A wreck, stumbling on a wall (or laying in a bed, ahem). However: very exciting to see an earlier, softer Huppert still arriving at her powers to command a camera's attention. Her performance stings especially in this little man because she's able to unmask and mask so many multivalent, contradictory motivations-impulses-emotions in such close proximity, as can often be the case in life's mess. But what's intriguing about Pialat's interest in actors, and images, isn't any allegiance to "the document" (despite many long takes and the realist weight of a sudden slap) but to selection and contiguity, how one thing follows another—often in rhymes—while "hiding" his timing since, though the editing can pop and the ellipses alarm, you forget about the camera.
- Ne Touchez Pas La Hache [Jacques Rivette, 2007] # Games fail like words and we brand each other's souls—we maze traps like Waco, Texas! Balibar's a wraith and Depardieu's a blood-pumping prosthetic: each barely attached to their own life. The walls are curtains, or wrought iron; the limits ceaselessly solecistic. After all, it is but a poem.
- Bad Lieutenant [Abel Ferrara, 1992] # Guess I didn't wait so long again after all! But I only watched a few things, to get the feel and a few images. Really: maybe the best movie ever. "Where! Were! YOU?!" —Steve, via text: "Captures the fast-fading old new york with stunning fidelity. many great scenes caught in available light, ambient sound. jesus is in the details."
- The Brothers Bloom [Rian Johnson, 2008] It's all about Ruffalo, despite the allure of Brody and Weisz. The film says so, after all, giving him the director's chair (or Fellini hat) and, it seems, unlimited means to stage events in the world. It's a goof of a movie (a little simple and didactic, maybe), but it is winning. And Ruffalo, master wincer, sells every turn. His spot-lit farewell says it all: satisfied, resigned, and understanding his worth. A good actor is a miracle.
- Tall Enough [Barry Jenkins, 2009] Watch it here. I could make a crack about advertising really easily, but that'd undersell Barry's fine-line achievement. This is about as charming a short as I could imagine from a project such as this, and it proves, as ever, Barry knows what he's doing with a camera. G'head, get your Denis on, man: it looks great.
- Partie de campagne [Jean Renoir, 1936] Just amazing. Even in pieces, le maitre makes a whole natural world swing-swim into view, into action, falling away in time as our petty obligations web us into roles we don't want. Best? Jokes abound!
- Dogville [Lars Von Trier, 2003] # The first half. Started this because somebody I adore (and respect) loves this movie and I want to understand why; because back in 2003 it made me pretty mad in (I'm learning) pretty dumb ways. That said, I fell asleep.
- Bad Lieutenant [Abel Ferrara, 1992] # Cuz I'm an idiot masochist, apparently. Also, it'd been a few years. Maybe never can go long enough between viewings. But, hell, this is a fucking movie. Even more than Unforgiven, this is the H.W.-headache movie. Also, truly Catholic.