by Ryland Walker Knight
...wade into the deep end
- Julia [Eric Zonca, 2008] Worth it for any fan of Tilda Swinton, who's just as likely to be a Cassavetes fan, and I'm clearly both. That said, this is a rough one. "Unflinching," as they say, with more than its (un?)fair share of abuse. Don't really know why I chose to watch all 143minutes of it right now. I'm guessing it's got something to do with that voyeurist's masochism that Manohla nods at in her review; a review, as ever, that I respect and agree with, for the most part, in that Zonca's crueler than Johnny, and Tilda's colder than Gena, but Julia's just outlandish enough to make you believe in its/her sacrifice, in the cracks in that alabaster face. How her eyes widen! Always a messy frame for such an elegant-angular countenance, Tilda's hair loosens as the picture progresses, relaxing into waves, and Julia's mask (once literal) altogether disappears on that terminal meridian. She is, at last, truly naked: it's final fright at the liminal life; it's acknowledging the cost; it's gone all too quickly. Ultimately, she reminds us that aversion is compulsory: there's always a lie at work in the world.
- Transformers 2 [Michael Bay, 2009] # Yeah, so what. It's not like I watched the whole thing. Just wanted to see a few of the beautiful things Bay dreamed up alongside his idiotic things (sometimes these things are the same things), like watching the forest fight with the sound off. Earlier: me at fN! and Phelps at his joint. (Worth noting: the commercial-break realization that this junk's already ready and hocked for home consumption is plenty indication, among manifold blinking lights, that this thorny respite-or-rumpus needs to end, and shall, quite shortly.)
- Mary [Abel Ferrara, 2005] Brenez talks of the pleat, but this film is a coil. A slinky, even, falling down stairs: it picks up speed and gets looser, but its parts work together in the rush—or, at least, their tension produces kinetic energy, pulled by the earth, by gravity. It may be about Him, about a certain kind of transcendence ("to become fully human" she repeats), but, despite all those shots trained skyward through New York's caverns of glass, Mary, like Mary and her performer Marie (Binoche is a wall of will), aims down. As ever, Ferrara's after essence by way of archetype. And the coil winds tighter, impressionistic even, layer on layer, as it picks up speed. Then it cuts out, meeting the floor—or the shore—with a kiss, and the credits begin before you know it.
- The Addiction [Abel Ferrara, 1995] # Bits and pieces on youtube (start here), searching for the right clip to embed in this week's Video Sunday at The Auteurs. Seriously need to read the Brenez book (Google gives you plenty to tantalize). I'm meeting this dude, and his movies, again, at just the right time.
- The Exterminating Angels [Jean-Claude Brisseau, 2006] Troubling, to say the least, and almost too-easily erotic. Not sure where we sit with this, but, this heterosexual young man will cop to arousal. How not to? The images aren't soft-core gauzed but amber-bathed. —Except, aha!, for a camcorder playback played back in slow motion, as if step-printed, that's grainy and "poor" but less documentary, and more expressive, because of its consumer-grade manipulation. Or maybe that's just, um, my kind of thing? my kind of taboo?
- Port of Shadows [Michel Carné, 1938] A bit clunky, but the implication of Valhalla at the close is stirring. And Gabin cannot fail. Michel Simon, too, lends weight with his Bluebeard act; and I feel close to Michèle Morgan's Nelly with her plight for life, for finding life with both hands; but there's a little too much talk. At any rate, Martha wrote this generous missive back in April after a BAM screening on what she said was one of her best days—and it shows. She's got way more to offer the movie than me, so, you know, read it.
- Body Snatchers [Abel Ferrara, 1993] # Abel trades Bad Lieutenant's grime for emptiness, and some snot, and comes up with something almost entirely synthetic: a parade of masks and costumes apt for a feature about an adolescent, about adolescence's paranoia—its fears and its fantasies—made a reality. Crazy how hierarchical the picture is what with all those crane maneuvers to place (rank) people and things. That whole finger-pointing scream business is genuinely terrifying, so basic it's beneath the human. My own adolescent memories of Gabrielle Anwar clearly weren't giving me the full picture.
- Ratatouille [Brad Bird, 2007] # Such a joy. Looked at it a couple times grabbing images for this piece at The House, which I doubled at VINYL IS IMAGES
—Brooklyn goes hard