Monday, September 28, 2009

Viewing Log #13: Slobber somehow [9/21/09 - 9/27/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—Money talks

  • Ashes of Time Redux [WKW, 1994/2008] Started this a couple nights prior but was gladly interrupted by two fun-loving phone calls. Started over, fitting WKW, and felt the slow-mo, loss-hardened fronts enough; the fights were fun flurries of blur and I dig the literal adventure of perception with "the good" Tony Leung, but I get why, um, certain friends tossed out the "snoozer" label; further, it's not made for laptop viewing, nor even a 32-inch tube television. It desires size.

  • La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento [Jacques Rivette, 1991] As with Spectre, Rivette adopts the interruption, practicing a kind of cinematic enjambment, that distills and skews the original with a brisker rhetoric. And it becomes even less about painting. But it's still about objects, and forms, and the nowhere/anywhere zone of the artist. Birkin is forever fab.
  • The Golden Coach [Jean Renoir, 1953] Flabbergastingly abstract, oddly enough, despite its head-on and up-front theatricality. A few scant lines of dialogue pitch the project a tad more pointed than necessary, but, as ever with le maitre, it can't fully (truly? ever?) go wrong. Anna Magnani demands her space, and owns it. There's about five books of theory waiting to be unpacked in this phaeton of ornaments and luster. Good grief this is fantastic.

  • Go Go Tales [Abel Ferrara, 2007] Whirligig desperation and lots of flesh—always on the go—paint an increasingly cramped space with affective (and endearing) verve for expression and for dreams and for our fight for passion in the face of commerce-capitalism. Dogs, too, get crucial roles.
  • Home from the Hill [Vincente Minnelli, 1960] Watched with Annie, DVR'd off TCM, because she names it as her favorite movie, tied with Tender Mercies, and, shucks: it's pretty good. Broad, maybe, and now-a-days hokey, but more complicated than it lets on. Nothing to rival the final reel of Some Came Running, but certain shots linger, like the black kids in the shadows watching the decadent bar-b-q; or the sulphur valley of yellow kept at bay, but only so; or the way Peppard ambles through the grocery store, juggling. Mitchum, too, of course, is strong as ever: some tower of pride fighting the world and its image of him.

  • Sunrise [F.W. Murnau, 1927] # For an image essay at The Auteurs about the beautiful new Masters Of Cinema double disc I was lucky enough to get gaga over.
  • Le Coup de Berger [Jacques Rivette, 1956] What a fun, sad little film. All those movements up, the camera as vertical as horizontal, only to pin these people down—to lock our lady in her place. It would be devastating were it not for the clockwork pacing and cut'm-loose attitude. Chess, they say, is a game for adults.

  • The Southerner [Jean Renoir, 1945] Terrible DVD, great film. Zachary Scott's something of a liability, though he's pretty, but the same warmth shines through all of le maitre's images. Way more southern, and true, than many American-directed "versions" (like, say, Gone With The Wind) of the south, no doubt. For one, it's about people, not ideas. For another, when the going gets tough, it doesn't look like set dressing: it looks like the world.

  • Entre les murs [Laurent Cantet, 2008] An especially fun film for a language nut like me. It's typical, maybe, but I loved it. The formal structure is seamless, despite its crowded frames, and the film/Cantet/Bégaudeau understands pedagogy as a blur of navigation and negotiation—as a chaos, even, as Mark wrote earlier in the year—spurred by language's promiscuity. It's not romantic, nor dry: Cantet complicates the image's desire for the real, as characters-students-teachers-forms never ossify like the walls that surround them, and life bullies forward. Also, time flies.

flesh is flesh
words make meanings without images

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