Monday, May 10, 2010

Viewing Log #44, SFIFF53 #5: The chairman dances in nets and tiles [5/3/10 - 5/9/10]

by Ryland Walker Knight

  • Les plages d'Agnes [Agnès Varda, 2008] Collage, mosaic, whatever: a full life that spawns new life sans cesse in any form imaginable. Only an old person could make it and only Agnes Varda could make it and only a old person like Agnès Varda could make it so full of joy, which isn't only (or simply) happy but a complex affirmation that this life is and was and will continue to be worth living. The pacing's wrong. But then so is the word "wrong." Waves change sans cesse aussi.
  • L'opera mouffe [Agnès Varda, 1958] The affective weight of all those "quelqe uns" is surprising, given how goofy the music is, or how random-fire the short feels.
  • Du côté de la côte [Agnès Varda, 1958] Not quite a documentary, not quite a catalog, not even a travelogue, but always a rush through things on its coastal tour; the Riviera is a joke of fashionable colors and body fat. Though it calls tourism exoticism flat out, it still made me want to go there, get a tan, and run around my own brand of Eden like anybody else. Summer's near, ain't it?

  • Iron Man 2 [Jon Favreau, 2010] Doesn't mean much and isn't exactly "entertaining." Mickey Rourke's from another planet. A tad more at Thought Catalog.

  • Twentieth Century [Howard Hawks, 1934] Hawks is Hawks and film is film but I fell asleep on purpose I was so tired and it got so silly.
  • Ruggles of Red Gap [Leo McCarey, 1935] True charity. Made the claim in the car that, of all the classical Ho'wood dudes, McCarey is the closest to Renoir. I stand by it.

  • Lourdes [Jessica Hausner, 2009] As Danny wrote, the tone's the biggest curio, not whether miracles occur. Faith is an afterthought, or not entirely revered here, and some jokes come at its expense (or at the expense of dogma kool aid, made literal in the sanctioned spring's bottled water), which troubles me as much as makes me laugh. The real joy, though, is Sylvie Testud's performance, which seems to start and end at her face but, despite Testud's silent smiles and the oft-alarmed or oft-angered eyes (both subtle, both withdrawn), Hausner's not interested in the face as much as bodies and the MS'd vice we find our little lady within to begin determines a lot more. And it's not just Testud's body that matters, but also how Bruno Todeschini is rigid, near encased in his role by his uniform; or how Elina Löwensohn's gestures are the worst mask for fright this side of adolescence, which colors every bit of Léa Seydoux's unfit-for-this-outfit brand of brat huff-and-puffs. This particular interest in bodily humor, and listening to the body, is all too rare (or, I need to see different movies) so when I see a party of wounded shuttling about "destinations" I immediately think of Tati, though Hausner uses a "real place" unlike so many Tativille pictures. In that, it's more akin to Jour de fête, with all those rituals and all those recurring faces and places redetermining interactions (or actions) and expectations (or sensations). However, it's not all comedy. There's plenty of nerves and anxiety and Hitchcock toying. Danny said Haneke, but that points at an overdetermination from my eyes and there's a lot of room for possibilities in this film that feel more like Suspicion before the reveal (Fontaine's all eyebrows the way Testud's all dimples) than any blunt-brow-beating by the Austrian.
  • Hadewijch [Bruno Dumont, 2009] There's skill, to be certain, and an interest in the lead's face, but it seems like boring storytelling to push that grace note so late, and so strongly so late, so that it doesn't hold any of the weight it'd like to or like you to think it does. As with another Euro "thinker" I don't like, Haneke, the "reserve" comes off as lazy thinking.

  • Lost "The Candidate" [S6E12, , 2010] A thoroughly satisfying hour of television.

  • Le Bonheur [Agnès Varda, 1965] # One of the beautiful things. Makes me miss other beautiful things. But not so much that I seek a river to jump into.
  • The Portuguese Nun [Eugene Green, 2009] An axial cinema that makes order a source of interaction, which is nearly synonymous with interpretation as every conversation seems to negotiate terms as much as exchange information. Great cameo by the director, too, playing a director and dancing poorly. More elsewhere in a few.


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