Sunday, January 17, 2010

Viewing Log #29: Spots like Fort Knox [1/11/10 - 1/17/10]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—Sixteen minimeters between me and you

  • Jour de fête [Jacques Tati, 1949] # Straight from my notebook: J. Tati just gets it. Life's cycles, all circles, a merry-go-round of comedy. And why not have a laugh? The body's the best joke machine—it's your number one interface with the world. Life, for Tati, is bounded by one's capacities to move through this obstacle course; all we can do is hurdle and parry and jump; all we do is dance with things. Tati's definitely an artist of things. Things: a bike, a pole, a tent, animals, hills, fences, night vision (of a lack of it), booze, a piano. And everything circles back in the end. The world's too fast, too, it seems, for things to elude you forever. (Also worth noting: so much more dialogue than the others.)
  • L'École des facteurs [Jacques Tati, 1947] A perfect little sketch for the bigger feature to follow.

  • La Captive [Chantal Akerman, 2000] # Lots here, including Vertigo right off the bat and a lot of Levinas-like investigations of "the other" and how confrontation takes different forms. My second Akerman, believe it or not, and easily a right angle away from that linoleum-bound block of process that made her name. Still, makes me want, even more than normal, to see more movies made by women about women. There's a reason Bigelow gets a lot of pub: she's into boys in the way a lot of male filmmakers are into girls. But this one—this lady and her film (her films)—is all about how the differences in sex (during cinema, embodied in gender, across a windowpane) make a difference in how we act. Wild but true: this is Proust! Phew! Makes me want to know those books (that book?) all the more! I think I'll have more to say soon. (Also, I'll have more on Akerman when I finally get around to Icarus Films' recent release of D'est, which everybody assures me is an odd blood beauty.)

  • The Sopranos "The Fleshy Part of the Thigh" (S6,E4) [Alan Taylor, 2006] Really great movement between threads in this one; written very well. And there's even a quick fade to black punctuation at one point, not to mention the treelines of the final moments moving from Tony's respite by the pool to Paulie's beat down of the Barone heir and then back again (twice!) to show what's in the background of all this big life of grab-all.
  • The Sopranos "Mayham" (S6,E3) [Jack Bender, 2006] An underrated episode, no doubt, even though one might call the coma-world a bit of a reach; I, for one, totally dig all the cross-consciousness interaction because there are jokes, as ever, to go with the scares. Also, Paulie is amazing.

  • Gone To Earth [Powell and Pressburger, 1950] Fucking fell asleep. Twice. I felt like an idiot. Still do. However, what I did see was pretty amazing, though Brian tells me I missed a lot of contextual "a-ha"s as the film closed.

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox [Wes Anderson, 2009] # For a memory jog over breakfast I watched a few moments, got some laughs and a few notes.

  • La Captive [Chantal Akerman, 2000] Amazing first eight minutes. Then an amazing cut to a title card, which prompted me to shut it off. I tried again the next night, but other things and people got in the way.

Fête 1
Gone 1


  1. I also loved Jour du Fete. But I was surprised, and moved, by the melancholy of the day-for-night sequence in which Francois stumbles about drunk, trying to deliver the mail. It's like the ending of M. Hulot's Holiday, when everyone heads home. The sweet sadness of Tati is not to be overlooked...

  2. This is true. That scene, though hilarious, is part of that whole problem with the village: they wind up one of its most devoted components. There's a tender sadness to all the films' endings, it seems, as the dance is done and it's time to rest. Cycles cycle but they come to a stop sometimes, you know.