by Ryland Walker Knight
- Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip [Joe Layton, 1982] # So dark, so perfect, so hilarious. So hard to be good at standup. You can watch it online over here, but we watched it on cable. We all fell over a lot.
- Mon oncle d'Amérique [Alain Resnais, 1980] Didactic, sure, but most of it's a joke. Resnais lets Henri Laborit play "sage" but the score, and the choral arrangement of images—talk about convergences—undercut even that know-it-all stance. More to come, I promise, on this one.
- Stromboli [Roberto Rossellini, 1950] Ingrid shines alone, victim of her ego, and that house is a kind of brain, but the fascinating thing—right off the bat—is just how jagged the film unfolds. It resists any structure, though there is a rhythm, and themes emerge. But, at bottom, it's a basic story made more basic, nigh elemental, with its refusal of systems. Everything's aimed at "natural" even though these humans keep forcing things to disastrous effect.
- L'aimée [Arnaud Desplechin, 2007] Not quite a scrapbook, but surely a collage. That is, the aim is expressive-affective, not documentary, despite the overflow of facts and, say, reportage. Above all Arnaud marvels at his history, at the luck to have such a history (to have a history) to recount. That's his gift: to enrich the world about him, to swirl stories full of color, of warmth; to say, render a wide world full of life. After all, ghost stories should brim, or point you all over the place.
- In Bruges [Martin McDonagh, 2008] Fell asleep about an hour in, then finished the next morning. McDonagh sure isn't much of a filmmaker, and I'm not entirely sold on his brand of violence as a story backbone, but I laughed enough, and that girl from Harry Potter 4 is delicious.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox [Wes Anderson, 2009] Perhaps the most pleasurable film in, like, forever. I know I loved The Informant! a whole bunch, but, well, this one's even more fun, and touching (though maybe not as "smart"?). In any case, I plan on seeing it as often as possible on a big screen.
- Where The Wild Things Are [Spike Jonze, 2009] No fun. Wasn't a big part of the book that that recklessness is fun? Isn't that the fun of being a kid? If all we're doing here is heralding youthful verve, how come all the movie's a dreadful downer? I, for one, did not have any fun. So there. I can get petulant, too.
—Well, don't fuck up the suit...