october gems

Aniki Bobo (de Oliveira, 1942) – what appears to be a slight and insignificant film, mdo’s first major feature is a commanding work, with a strong sense of scope, morals, and its own identity. in this, while you can’t see the sort of baroque stuff he would attempt later, one can surely identify the talent of a future great director.

(side note: i also loved his Doomed Love, A Century of Energy, and Mon Cas but i try to pick only one film per director per month for these)

Beaubourg (Rossellini, 1977) – a cool city symphony type film that explores, instead, the grand opening of an art museum. interesting to note is the quiet, deliberate camera movement which felt quite different from rossellini’s work in India, and also peculiar is how the masses here are significantly less pretentious (or, that is, appear to be less academic and wholly invested in the art they interact with) than people would have you believe. the “pretentious art critic” trope lives on as being my most hated one.

Period Piece (Andrews, 2006) – well paced version of Trash Humpers without as much deliberate nods to its own garish nature. super funny too, it’s basically sketch comedy in the most z grade way possible, and i would definitely love to see more by andrews if the rest of his films are anything like this.

The Last House on Dead End St. (Watkins, 1977) – no, not that watkins. dark film. evil film, even. there’s a level of sadism here that kinda permeates beneath and very much above the surface of its gritty appearance. i can’t believe a 3 hour version was originally considered – how much simulated misery could one endure – but as a 70 minute exploitation slasher, this is just the right amount of darkness.

Reflections of Evil (Packard, 2002) – next time i watch this i need to see the shortened version as this is just a bit too much in some areas (i think particularly with the watch salesman stuff).  however the current 138 minute cut is still a masterpiece that borders on transcending even that label; a towering achievement of camp, lofi digital, and middle class frustration at the world, portrayed as an anger towards capitalism rather than more specific zeitgeists.

But I’m a Cheerleader (Babbit, 1999) – a film which i can ultimately appreciate for giving a voice to people who have had it so bad for so long (and we have thankfully progressed at least a little since 20 years ago where this was the norm in a way), but, like a normie has their Schindler’s List, this film is ultimately too depressing for me to see it again anytime soon, because i know how real and unhappy stories like this truly were.

Personal Problems (Gunn, 1980) – one of the best pacing out of any film i have ever seen, gunn’s soap opera of sorts weaves together a long tapestry of characters and their struggles over the course of nearly 3 hours and makes it feel like almost a short film of sorts. i think that the film being somewhat difficult to follow is what holds it back for me, but ensembles of this nature (think A Brighter Summer Day) are really intriguing to me.

(also loved: Ganja and Hess also by gunn)

Tower (Meitland, 2016) – man 2016 had so many masterpieces from so many unexpected avenues, and this is right up there with em. animation sucks, normally, but i think the way it’s used here with visual motifs and to enhance the reality of the situation (or even act as a coping mechanism for it) is way cooler than anything i ever see the medium used. very moving stuff.

Grim (Ito, 1985) – you know the drill with ito at this point, never boring filmmaker.

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