august new discoveries

The Forgotten Colours of Dreams (Clyde, 2018): a delirious VHS trip into a purgatory of sorts, something that is so dedicated to its aura and mood yet retains high intellectual pursuits in the realm of a bergman or something. bergman is obviously the closest point of relevance as far as plots go with Seventh Seal but i think clyde retains many of his more spiritual ambitions as well.

Twice a Man (Markopoulos, 1963): this film is one of the miracles of the world. i love how repression and guilt are portrayed here; the real-world damaging psychological impact of disobedience and the lost hope of coming out. i think the editing style is really similar to a lot of brakhage shorts, but this one has a narrative and feels like you keep trying to remember that day, play it over and over, find some solace. great stuff.

Xtro (Davenport, 1982): it reminds me of some hybrid between roeg and carpenter, taking their strong elements of horror and misery. there is some flat out iconic imagery in here, as a genre film i think it’s honestly pretty close to unparalleled status – surely up there with the other greats of its time. would loved to have seen a hooper rendition on this story.

The Baron (Pera, 2011): i think this might be the most vampirey movie out there. i’m a huge proponent of vampire films as i think there is such a piercing cinematic appeal to them in so many ways, be it vulgar or transcendent (or both – see The Addiction), and this one goes so fully in the mood of vampires that i appreciate it for this alone. also goat ending.

At the First Breath of Wind (Piavoli, 2002): i don’t have much to say for this one. i loved the shots and how meditative it was; a bit of a “breather” film if you will. the setting and pacing kind of reminded me of La cienaga although with much less social nuance.

After Last Season (Region, 2009): singular. there is nothing out there quite like this. when your two biggest relatives are Inland Empire and Wax, you know you’re doing something right. confounding film, love the look, the structure, the tone, everything about this strange little picture. will need to rewatch it again and again.

Prospero’s Books (Greenaway, 1991): yeah i have no idea what this thing is about or anything but it’s beautiful so

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ten of the most exciting directors of the new era

title. but i must clarify. when i say, of the new era, i mean i am only taking into account the films these directors made in the last 10 years. additionally, i must have seen at least 2 movies of theirs in the last 10 years, and they are judged off of those. this is why people like korine and godard will not make this list as i think their earlier work is what makes them exciting (in korine it’s his space between projects, and in godard it’s his inconsistency). anywho. here they are alphabetically:

paul w.s. anderson

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works seen: Resident Evil: Afterlife, Resident Evil: Retribution, Pompeii, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

notable omissions: Death Race, The Three Musketeers

future projects: Monster Hunter

the face of vulgar auteurism in the 2010s cinemascape seems to no longer be snyder, verhoeven, or even neveldine/taylor really, but instead looks increasingly more and more like pwsa. playing strictly a numbers game, only his most recent film has been masterful to me – but in all of the others there’s a gradual maturation of his themes and aesthetics that is very exciting to behold. the apocalyptic transcendence of Pompeii and the slick infinite implications of Retribution build to his finest work as a director in The Final Chapter, a work which seems to conclude a career of someone who has finally managed to play all of his cards right. no idea where his next one will end up going.

lav diaz

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works seen: Melancholia, Norte: The End of History, From What is Before

notable omissions: Century of Birthing, Florentina Hubaldo CTE, Storm Children: Book One, A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, The Woman Who Left

future projects: Season of the Devil

you can tell by the omissions that i’ve missed out on a fairly large amount of his filmo in the last ten years, over 20 hours of material. i confess that he is one of the rare directors who makes so much work that it is hard to physically track down and consume all of it in any reasonable way, but this ultimately makes his films more fulfilling – it is impossible to speed through diaz’s calm, meditative, political filmmaking. ultimately i believe his earlier work here that i’ve seen is superior to the later stuff (Melancholia is my favorite diaz joint, From What is Before the least), but given the films that he’s been making range from low fantasy films to standard more realistically lengthed dramas to even a rock film of sorts, his versatility could bring a new flash of brilliance in the filipino’s filmography. always a face to look forward to.

clint eastwood

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works seen: Gran Torino, American Sniper, Sully, The 15:17 to Paris

notable omissions: Changeling, Invictus, Hereafter, J. Edgar, Jersey Boys

upcoming works: The Mule

eastwood’s a bit of a weird pick here; while there are directors who could maybe fill his spot in terms of making better films in the last few years, what gives each eastwood film additional weight is, similar to snyder and straub, the way that his work builds atop each other in such surprising ways. conceptually and cinematically, Sully is a standard above average biopic of sorts, but when placed into context about eastwood’s trilogy (and probably more) of modern heroism it gains surprising dramatic weight. American Sniper more than likely will go down with the best of his films, and 15:17 and Gran Torino are both more than worthy endeavors that tread through a changing political landscape attempting to rectify and heal damages. there are several of his films i have not seen from this new era, should change that sometime as well.

ezra edelman

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works seen: Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals, O.J.: Made in America

notable omissions: Requiem for the Big East, The Opposition

upcoming works: untitled roberto clemente film

edelman is surely among the most exciting documentary filmmakers out there, able to command a strong sense of history, politics, and genuine joy in his documents that excel at everything that great conventional docs should. Magic & Bird is an underrated basketball doc that would be interesting enough as an exploration of race and the perception of STDs in america, but O.J. is without a doubt the film that he will be known for. a towering shockwave of an achievement, time will only tell if this grandiose exploration is a taste of things to come or ultimately a peak that maybe only a few people in history can live up to.

jessica hausner

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works seen: Lourdes, Amour fou

upcoming works: Little Joe

already one of the unsung heroes of a generation, hausner’s diversity in themes, moods, and genres is already clear within the three features of hers i have seen (Hotel came out in 2005, a slow cinema horror film which extracts the mere concept of horror to its most basic fundamentals). her newer films are outstanding – Lourdes is a dreyer inspired religious drama, equipped with its own sense of faith and patience, and a film that ultimately offers a unique combination of sorrow and relief, whereas Amour fou is a hilarious black comedy that poses as a romantic period drama and is my pick for her strongest project. her upcoming work appears to be an ironic scifi of sorts. i cannot wait to see what she does next.

doug liman

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works seen: Edge of Tomorrow, American Made

notable omissions: Jumper, Fair Game, The Wall

upcoming works: Chaos Walking, The Canonnball Run, Live Die Repeat and Repeat, Luna Park, Splinter Cell

liman is a bit of an odd choice here; although he is strongly at 2 for 2 for me right now, i think he seems to be more of a journeyman director a la curtiz than a bonafide always interesting auteur. Edge of Tomorrow is without a doubt the best non-vulgar action film of the decade, and American Made is one of the best drug films of our times as well, yet i can see no discerning traits that connect these movies other than their tight editing and balance of dramatic and comedic. while i’m not really super interested in seeing the other works he’s done in the last few years, i believe at least one of his planned five films will reach near those two films in terms of execution, and that in itself is an exciting prospect.

terrence malick

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works seen: The Tree of Life, To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, Song to Song

notable omissions: Voyage of Time

upcoming works: Radegund

malick’s career at this point is one of the most exciting ones i’ve ever personally followed. The Tree of Life is up there with the highest masterpieces of the medium, and Knight of Cups and Song to Song both excel in beautiful yet diverse ways, each awakening things in malick that i didn’t know he had in him. even To the Wonder which is in many ways his weakest film has enough pleasures and potentials to get me pumped, and i still have yet to see either of his Voyage of Time cuts. malick would likely be #1 on this list if it were to be ranked in terms of how excited i am for his future work.

takashi makino

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works seen: The Low Storm, Inter View, 2012, Ghost of OT301

notable omissions: The Seasons, The World, Still in Cosmos, Generator, Deorbit, Phantom Nebula, Space Noise, Cinema Concert, On Generation and Corruption

soo many avant-garde directors want to be as good as makino. what he’s doing isn’t anything exceptionally new (except with how his work reckons with the digital era, but even still that’s been a narrative pursuit for a while too) but makino simply makes his films have this aesthetic brooding and power that few other directors in history can match. 2012 is more than likely his masterpiece, though i’ve only seen a small portion of his films and i’m sure that this isn’t the last we’ll see of the progressive filmmaker.

douglas reese

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works seen: Warwick, The Lonesome, Pacific Angels

notable omissions: The Vaughn Sister, Shakespeare’s Pets, Cleaners, Snake, Black Rain White Rain, Pazuzu, Nessa, Maysville, Nikki Alice Nessa, Concepts of Duality, Blue Guitar, The Trash, Cincinatti Storm, Caity and Paul Get High, Migraine, Other Side

reese, one of the members at the forefront of the loosely defined letterboxd new wave, has already matured quickly across the 3 loose features of his that i’ve seen. Warwick presents itself as a remake of Je tu il elle of sorts, The Lonesome is exactly the sort of slice-of-life material i expect from a generation of people making films with their phones, but Pacific Angels represents a type of progression i hadn’t entirely expected; a malaise of narrative and experimental filmmaking that many filmmakers lose a handle on. i hope this trend continues.

sion sono

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works seen: Love Exposure, Himizu, Antiporno

notable omissions: Be Sure to Share, Cold Fish, Guilty of Romance, Bad Film, The Land of Hope, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, Tokyo Tribe, Minna!, Shinjuku Swan, Love & Peace, Tag, The Virgin Psychics, The Whispering Star, Madly, Shinjuku Swan 2, Tokyo Vampire Hotel, The Bastard and the Beautiful World

upcoming works: Prisoners of the Ghostland

sono’s filmography is intimidating; he has so many works and nearly all of them have at least a few prominent passionate supporters. knowing where to start and how to navigate his themes is difficult enough, but so much of sono’s films are about straight genre pleasures, delicate melodrama, and, of course, incredible visuals that it’s not extraordinarily hard to get into sono’s mode of cinema. he has a film with nicolas cage coming out and i’m sure we’ll get another 5 movies of his by 2020, and though i may not end up seeing all of them until decades from now, i eagerly await what this man has to offer.

april & may

i didn’t see much good in april so i didn’t write a post. here we are.

The Bed You Sleep In (Jost, 1993): so far the best work i have seen from a phenomenal director and new favorite. jost’s cinematography and slow building drama here is just unparalleled, there is something so sincere and haunting about his dramas. in any just world, it would be a jost world.

Let your heart be light (Romvari & Campbell, ????): this came out sometime in the last few years, not sure exactly when. letterboxd new wave stuff – i feel such a strong sense of comfort and shelter after viewing this film as i have done a couple of times. so many little touches in this 10 minute short and look at how pure the room is. wish we had more stuff like this – new sincerity when??

Salome (Hernandez, 1976): an abstract, probably gay adapt of a play or something. i couldn’t really tell you what it was about but there were a lot of powerful images and i loved how hypnotic the whole thing was. reminds me of schroeter a bit – speaking of which, need to see more from schroeter (and maybe hernandez as well). check it out if you like the avant-garde.

Raising Cain (De Palma, 1992): de palma does verhoeven, but it still feels wholly like a de palma joint. fun stuff.

Sure Fire (Jost, 1990): it’s somewhere between Bell Diamond and Coming to Terms in terms of how experimental it is, but it’s more successful than either of them at just being an emotional trainwreck for me. there’s a doom here that only lynch could capture, or so i thought; jost seemed to also realize the tragedy and depravity of modern suburbia (surely not a new observation), but he films it as an isolated event, one of the freak incidents we hear about. brutal.

Born in Flames (Borden, 1983): very wavy stuff. reminded me of watkins a bunch – depicts postrevolutionary worlds with revolutionary concerns, whereas watkins is sort of the inverse more often than not. it’s not up to par with his best work although it’s better than his lesser stuff. i like how unique the approach is and how important the problems being addressed are; borden has a great guerrilla filmmaking style that i’m interested in seeing more of.

Sixteen Tongues (McCrae, 1999): scooter mccrae is a treasure; with this and Shatter Dead it confirms it in my mind. nobody else has meshed this degree of trash, sex, philosophical leanings, and their own personified sensibilities (in his other feature it was religion, here it seems to be isolation). a grimy, grueling work – one which must me endured in some ways, but it oozes transgression through its gaping cracks.

Tea and Sympathy (Minnelli, 1956): other than richie i’m stunned that this doesn’t have a significant following. minnelli has always just kinda been there for me – his two major works didn’t floor me and i couldn’t quite find his soul in em. but this is more of a soul than the physical (or is it abstract? haha) representation of it. it’s the crippling half smiles or the frustration you can let out a little but not too much or else people make fun of ya. and how do we come back from that ending? whoaa.

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (Iwai, 2016): saw this recently and still processing. please hold.

march stuff

not much happened this month

 

White Hunter, Black Heart (Eastwood, 1990) is a wonky film from eastwood with a particularly unusual central conflict, and one that doesn’t spend time on artistic tension so much as it does racial. it blows my mind how people see American Sniper as reductive when he’s done so much intricate stuff in the racial world as this film. funny stuff too, oftentimes, and the end credits are great.

4:44 Last Day on Earth (Ferrara, 2011) is similar to lvt’s Melancholia in the setup which i’m sure a million hipsters have mentioned already, but i think the pacing and general attitude is similar to that film’s as well. while i don’t think its social commentary nor its cinematography are as good as von trier’s companion piece of sorts, there is a visceral energy to ferrara’s work that make it extremely difficult to endure. probably the best of his three science fiction films.

Bell Diamond (Jost, 1986) reminded me of cassavetes but with even more emphasis on the working class aspect of his films. there’s a hopelessness to small towns that i think is so cinematic, but also so genuinely dour that it’s common to see gritty, difficult films deal with them in powerful ways. jost is great at writing in this film as well, many lines stick out and the fact that the production was as troubled and lo-fi as it looks only adds to the desperation that its central characters feel. excellent stuff and i need to see more from jost.

Marebito (Shimizu, 2004) to me is this non-scary horror film which preys upon fears more than actually containing them. it acknowledges the threat of underground worlds, which i think is an interesting concept that captures lovecrafty vibes without actually resorting to silly giant monsters or anything; here the monster simply links itself to modern masculinity, which is far more compelling. looks like a kiyoshi kurosawa, and in many ways plays out like one.

No, or the Vain Glory of Command (de Oliveira, 1990) is mdo doing an intellectual war piece with his historical framing as a backdrop. i really love what i understand from this mulling over the price of political power, war victories, and the nature of colonialism, though unfortunately how much i do understand is limited by my ignorance of portugal’s cultural history. but there are enough obvious comparisons and sensory pleasures otherwise for me to love this film.

Shatter Dead (McCrae, 1994) is everything that i love in low-budget horror films. excellent aesthetic and effects, goes into areas that i think only genre films can really explore, many of them bereft of real-world comparison, and it creates moral conundrums within its sci-fi setup that are also wholly unique and i think it would be really fun to study.

february stuff

not much happened this month. shoutouts 2 the mines crew for getting 2nd in divisions or w/e.

some more obscure favorites that i saw this month:

The Untamed (Escalante, 2016) is this sci-fi fever dream that deals with class, discrimination, and, of course, sexuality, all while playing very true to its genre pleasures as well as its dramatic kinetics. it’s crazy how well escalante balances every little detail of his narratively complex film and makes it gleefully accessible and no less hard-hitting.

Space is the Place (Coney, 1974) takes afrofuturism and jazz on a fun ass journey through two gods of sorts, posturing separately as saviors of the black community. the commentary is maybe a bit simple and the visuals are dated, but it’s got a sense of freewheeling adventure that’s hard to come by. great score and effects, and a conceptually lovely piece.

Go Go Tales (Ferrara, 2007) was something i had assumed to be a comedy of sorts yet, like its spiritual predecessor Showgirls, ends up being a grisly commentary on class while still maintaining its power as a character study. though i do have to say: why are so many movies about strip clubs, about their artistry? the two aforementioned but also Exotica and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. what’s the dealio?

Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind (Hark, 1980) is punk filmmaking taken to a new level. the narrative is still remarkably in tact but the glee for which characters abandon emotions in favor for capitalistic gain is something i thought was perfected in spaghetti/acid westerns but actually comes to full fruition in this post-wave japanese thriller. highlight is the editing though.

To Be Twenty (Di Leo, 1978) is a sexploitation hippie film which starts out that way (though there’s an element of freedom that reminded me of Celine and Julie Go Boating) before unraveling into this leftist approach to horror as the powers that be disassemble a commune. i’m not entirely sure how i feel about it (the last like 20 minutes, especially compared to the first hour, is grisly to endure) but from an ideological and conceptual standpoint this is cool stuff.

Made of Air (Clipson, 2015) is a music video of sorts, with music by grouper (!) and seems to combine many moments that brakhage, elder, and chambers have sought after in their filmmaking. formally i can’t really call it anything more than well-done as it’s hard to progress on this sort of abstract poeticism but for what it is, it’s very well done.

january stuff

passed the first actuary exam started school up again yadda yadda

 

some films:

Angel City (Jost, 1977) is like an essay film, a noir, and a documentary all rolled up into one. intriguing for this concept alone and otherwise it has a flair and a sense of fun that a lot of independent films lack.

Youth (Xiogang, 2017) reminded me a lot of yang, which is probably a bit racist but that is how it be sometimes. incredibly well done melodrama weaved with interesting social themes and some breathtaking sequences.

Quick Billy (Baillie, 1970) was a fun experimental romp which goes into all sorts of territories and muses over them for a bit before darting to the next one. as a collage of different sorts of media, it navigates the issue that many experimental features have of overstaying their own welcome.

Dandy Dust (Scheirl, 1998) is a queer scifi neon extravaganza which makes perfect sense in individual scenes and none cohesively. excellent set pieces and, like Lost City, retains a sense of fun despite all of its formal and societal rebellion.

Francisca (de Oliveira, 1981) is by far the best film i’ve seen in ages. it reminds me of duras, straub-huillet, late bresson, and, of course, de oliveira’s other films. interestingly i’m not huge on any of these filmmakers (but i do like them all), though in this work there’s something about the social  commentary, formal manipulations, incredible purple prose dialogue, little moments of humor, brechtian distancing, i mean it all comes together in this wholly cohesive monument of film.

Split (Shaw, 1989) is a low budget scifi gem which synthesizes many of that era’s paranoia about technology in general, and seems to occupy a distinct place pre-Wax where the net was still not really commented upon. i like the idea of this more than the actual film, but the film is pretty great as well.

King of New York (Ferrara, 1990) is pretty much the sort of film every gangster film aspires to be but only a few (A Brighter Summer Day, Once Upon a Time in America, City of God) will ever really be able to hit. stylish, smooth, melancholy, entertaining, and filled with commentary. incredible stuff.

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