monthly highlights of february

these are things that i liked that are either under the radar or maybe underrated. i want to highlight some of these lesser known films as we all know that To Be or Not to Be is a lovely film for most people (on that note, a brilliant first watch for me), but perhaps others are not on peoples’ cinematic axes quite yet.

tlw

The Love Witch (Biller, 2016) is a strikingly beautiful film that has all of the polish and ruggedness of the olden genre-flicks it imitates. its femininity pumps through its celluloid veins, threatening to clog it occasionally but otherwise it flows smoothly throughout, giving it a sustainable life and energy that seems to be lacking today. the clogs come in its somewhat bloated runtime and a bit of the more preachy elements, but overall it far and away succeeds at what it attempts to do, and seems to already be a cult classic of sorts by way of inspection. 8

shhh

i discussed Sleep Has Her House (Barley, 2016) in a previous post, but it’s still lovely. 8

lh

L’Humanite (Dumont, 1998) is another marvel of slow cinema, one that isn’t quite up to the personal favorite level for me (occupied by masters such as sokurov, diaz, tarr, and akerman) but it is, nonetheless, a moving experience. i get vibes of both bresson and loach from this; the austere, understated touches that frequently occupy a bresson piece (along with the theme of crime and redemption), and the more insightful portrayal of the lower class that i’ve gotten from loach. an absorbing, emotional experience. 8

atsea

i discussed At Sea (Hutton, 2007) previously, more lovely stuff. 8

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At Sea (Hutton, 2007)

a lovely, patient, soothing watch. my first film from hutton and surely not my last as it’s something that clearly feels very accomplished and seems to play into a lot of the cinematic tendencies i’m attached to. there seems to be a deep admiration of technology, of humans – and, by extension, humanism – throughout the first bit, which i was pleasantly surprised by as i was concerned it could be a one hour montage of good-but-not-great shots of the sea, though it’s much more than that.

of course, making a film about the sea should involve some shots of the sea. hutton focuses on the faces less than brakhage or mekas would and i think the picturesque locales he chooses to shoot in the middle section are a little unfitting, although they all contribute to perhaps the more soothing nature that the first third had solidified. the final third feels a bit like ethnography with the local workers on a beach. i was reminded of the final section of godard’s Notre musique, it seemed like an abstract portrayal of paradise of sorts.

i’ve seen many refer to this as slow cinema. last night i also saw dumont’s L’humanite which i believe definitely qualifies more than something that’s really just avant-garde/structuralist in nature. i realize that splitting hairs in terms of genre (or, in this case, abstract movements that aren’t linked by country or runtime or even intent sometimes) is frustrating and perhaps annoying, but i do think it’s odd that something like this classifies as slow cinema.

At Sea, regardless of whatever arbitrary classification one chooses to use, is a successful experiment however. tonally i find it a bit odd, but i think it’s trying to do many things at once – contrast the beauty of man vs the beauty of nature vs the beauty of people themselves, i don’t think i’ve seen that one before. the end bit is almost impossible not to smile at as well. lovely stuff, and proof that cinema is far from dying. 8