God's Little Acre

God's Little Acre
Lord, make way for gold

the girlfriend experience

the girlfriend experience
chelsea's work

Trash Humpers

Trash Humpers
broken, faked, MADE

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Person is a Thing..

2014. People make movies purporting to be stories of characters; a human tale. AMERICAN SNIPER (2014) is both a personal portrait, and, more accurately, a story of a machine.
The machine is also the person, and the human story of this machine is about the emotions felt behind it's focus upon its target, and the emotions felt when blocking out either the present or the past.

The more the gun can take on the decisions of the human...the more the human can move as swiftly and stealthily as the weapon; the two are married; enmeshed.

The industrialization of our culture is more readily noticed in 2014 via the further marriage of the self and the technological.  The finger and the voice both control the phone. The phone is the computer and it is now always on the body.


Just as  David Cronenberg has depicted the part industrial part human integration (of automobile and driver in CRASH and to a subtler degree COSMOPOLIS, e.g.)  the sniper rifle of Clint Eastwood's film is a humanized machine. There is a sense i felt watching  it,  as if being exposed to the bold energy of a new idea, yet one that ultimately is not  committed to radical thought.  Some passages retain that light: there are sequences shown during his first and second tour when everything is blocked out but the focus of quick decisions; when to shoot and when not to.
The strength of  mind and body in committing murder to serve one's national security is executed both mechanically and with the uncanny semblance of human hesitation...these sequences fascinate.




In JERSEY BOYS (2014), also directed by Clint Eastwood, the commitment to ideas felt total and clear.  The main character is our protagonist, yet he is amazingly stiff, heavy , like a young man suddenly old during much of the film.  He is only briefly alive, at the film's beginning, and then everything goes down hill, burdened by the failings of the band and family around him; his desire to maintain, survive and REGAIN that youthful dominance is everything in the world. Why does he seem robotic or affected?  My reaction following my viewing was that this young man was only young for a second, and the rest of the film he was actually an old man desperate to regain and replay his life, his artistic zenith, the 15 minutes his spirit soared and glowed.

JERSEY BOYS: Frankie weighed down by threat of traumatic loss




Now i also think that Frankie is not just an old man but a movie itself, a piece of media, a technologic wonder that dances and sings and is chasing a happy ending that feels increasingly impossible, until, just like the final moments of De Palma's OBSESSION, it suddenly comes, and it conquers.


MAGIC OF REVERSE AGING: movie finale



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Best rep experiences of 2014

 Having forgotten what i saw approx the first 6 months of 2014, here is what i recall from primarily the 2nd half :

SCORE Radley Metzger.
(digital projection.  Walter Reade, Lincoln Center)

Intoxicating, in on the joke, sophisticated, hip, sexy. A story that fits within its setting.  Smart filmmaking, add sex.  A classic.

HARDLY WORKING Jerry Lewis
(35mm Anthology Film Archives

Personal favorite for years, I've been known to play my 90 dollar ebayed VHS of it for injured hot guys trapped in my apartment so they can't help but fall in love with Jerry Lewis' undervalued masterpiece (and me?)
I dont think that sad ploy really work(ed)s but i can tell you this: Jerry's film contains flat out hilarity interspersed with pacing as awkwardly pensive as Jerry's maudlin moments. ALL of it is terrific because the film acutely fits and evokes the tension of Jerry as performer and conscious art and entertainment maker: the laughs arise amidst the same kind of drama and intensity of a tortured artist who is desperate to be taken (deservedly) seriously.

52 PICK -UP John Frankenheimer
(35mm Anthology Film Archives)


Wow, until i started searching old rep calendars i almost forgot about a true highlight of the moviegoing year. Never having seen 52 PICK UP projected on film before is to never know how the film pushes beyond the limits of expectations, morality, and all writ large. A winning summer night this was.

BODY HEAT Lawrence Kasdan.
(35mm.  Film Forum)

Having only seen this (decades ago) on VHS with my parents, I had no idea how indulgent and over the top this film was. Truly meant for the big screen, I was also shocked to find out how flamboyant and painterly the colors and art design are. Looking like a drunk De Palma's OBSESSION this film was a revelatory visual experience in 35mm.

VIGILANTE William Lustig.
(35mm Nitehawk, DEUCE series)

Posture, humor, attitude. This film reacts to the mood of turmoil and crime in new york with the economy of physical retribution.
Added plus:  a trademark Bill Lustig performance post screening, with Skype calls to Robert Forster, and Frank Pesce.

KING KONG (1976-77) John Guillermin
(35mm Nitehawk, DEUCE series)

A favorite film  from childhood (videodisc rental?), my elementary era bedroom was also briefly adorned w a puzzle of the trade towers with king kong on it.
This film did not disappoint after revisiting it some 15 yrs later, having never experienced it on 35 before. the first scenes on the (tropical) island are as well filmed, seductive and dramatic as i recall. The last scenes on our (nyc) island are as ugly, romantic and direct as i wanted them to be.  Bonus: screening occurred on 9/11, and film was preceded by awesome video essay of Twin Towers on Film, by Jonathan Hertzberg. Link:  http://knifeinthehead.blogspot.com/2014/09/troika-towers-forty-deuce-kong.html


MOON IN THE GUTTER Jean -Jacques Beineix
(35mm Walter Reade, Lincoln Center)

I have never seen the entire film before, and i'm glad i was sober enough to stick with it the one chance I've had to see an actual film print. All i recall is the large VHS box for rent at Kims, and that id always fallen asleep when i rented it, giving up and returning it to obtain something else i was itching for.  Committing to letting the story unravel, as well as come apart, is a very rewarding few hours. This is total commitment to artistic vision, and it is a visual, grand  enterprise, yet as small and basically romantic as it is in its beginning and end. A 'what if' idea that is fully, if messily,wildly realized. props, jean -jacques.

SEMI-TOUGH Michael Ritchie
((faded) 35mm Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Finally seeing this Ritchie film promotes my thoughts pre viewing that the man made some of the most revealing American films of the 70s. Burt Reynolds is stunning to see and to hear.

THE NICKEL RIDE Robert Mulligan
(35mm , BAMCinematek)

Tight, slightly playful heist/ genre film with an unmissable star turn by Jason Miller.  The city here is dirty, familial, playful and unforgiving.

CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER Joan Micklin Silver
(35mm, IFC Center)


John Heard has always been a favorite of mine, if only for his too brief presence in AFTER HOURS.  Heard's performance is a bit more unhinged in Micklin Silver's terrific early 80s tale of  amour fou, but the real breakout of this one is the pace and personality of the filmmaking, along with the small and devastatingly affective choices of Mary Beth Hurt.

AGATHE ET LES LECTURES ILLIMETES Marguerite Duras
(35 mm, Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Finally caught a Duras i'd yet to see, and  in the nick of time, the night i'd returned from a trip out of town. It was worth the hustle. Duras' film finds creative ways to open up space and time for a viewer to connect with the subject and the characters' psyche.

DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE Frank Perry
(35mm, Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Benjamin is truly insufferable and hard to watch onscreen, so luckily there were many other delights and loopy things to distract. Perry elevates the 70s  independent women's film with his own style and sensibility. Snodgress is flat out fantastic.

TWO FOR THE ROAD Stanley Donen
(DVD viewings)


Another great discovery this year was a rediscovery.  I had recollections of Donen's film, and it was always the one i preferred to CHARADE. Beyond that, i hadnt ever had much of a connection with it.  2014 was the year i had the chance to revisit it, with multiple DVD viewings, and i found myself inside the film, obsessed with the film, and personally (romantically...) inspired by it. The irreverent version of Nichols' HEARTBURN? I think so. Coming round again..
and coming to a blu ray near you in January, from Masters of Cinema.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Best Books i Read (for the first time) this Year: 2014

Within A Budding Grove
by Marcel Proust




















The Guermantes Way
by Marcel Proust



Europe Central 
by William T. Vollmann

Cypherpunks 
by Julian Assange


My Struggle:  Books 1 and 2
by Karl Ove Knausgaard


i read book 3 as well, yet was far, far less fond of it.
Actually, i disliked it.

Last Stories and Other Stories 
by William T. Vollmann



A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
by Isabella Bird



Cartesian Sonata 
by William Gass



Gilead 
by Marilynne Robinson


Sunday, December 7, 2014

privileged stories: BEYOND THE LIGHTS fills in the gaps

I make believe
That you are here
It's the only way
I see clear
What have I done
You seem to move on easy
And every time I try to fly
I fall without my wings




--Britney Spears "Everytime"


 Sometimes the inception of a film is a desire to expand on something unanswered, something that occurred in recent history or  popular culture. 
There is more than one moment in the first third of BEYOND THE LIGHTS where I wonder, is this  entire movie an explanation of Britney's breakdown?  Does this exist to answer the questions of Rhianna and Chris Brown's saga and what parental dynamic led her into that relationship?  Is this 1hr 58 minutes an expansion of the 2 min 58 seconds of Britney's EVERYTIME song and video?
Why did Britney write and sing these lyrics in her saddest, most broken voice and melody:

  • Notice me
    Take my hand
    Why are we
    Strangers when..
    Britney in the suicide tub; "Everytime" video


There  are answers, directly offered by BEYOND THE LIGHTS.  There are backstories and psychological parental set ups. There is a crisis at the start:  to neatly  posit a search back in time.  The film feels expansive at every moment; time slows and settles as we go back ...the stretching of a bond: a mother who stays an enforcer and director even to an adult daughter.  The stretching of the fleeting; an expansion (what if you got to know her at her most vulnerable?) of a momentary bond with a police guarding a pop star's hotel door while she attempts suicide.
What if someone walked in on Whitney?


The first third of the film is when the style and structure is at its most effective and impactful.  Not only do we answer ALL of these questions that seem to set up our entry into this world, but we are also rewarded tenfold for setting our eyes in one direction.



There is unbridled delight in the way the riches and sex and inside worlds are lived in.  Every door expands into a further answer about something that may have been but  a bullet point in a pop star's career. One instance is what turns into a weird stage performance on BET. We start out with actual red carpet footage seamlessly edited in with the newer fictional footage of the characters from the film being interviewed on it.


We are privy to more variables than we can imagine leading up to the moment leading up to the onstage performance. We see unparalleled action from all the sidelines while and after it occurs. This expansive nature of the film satisfies the voyeurism inherent in the joys of exposes of big stars or glamorous folk. And the radial nature of the film, how it expands perpetually, and in all sorts of filler and ancillary stories, is satisfying yet eventually less exciting. There is a sexiness to the attraction of the likeness and simulation that is clearly at work; Rhianna facsimile, Nomi Malone replicant, Britney and Whitney reincarnated, it is all so real yet so similar and uncanny.  Paired with this uncanny appeal, is a drama by putting the viewer next to an ultra idealized woman, very comparable in this context to Beyonce or Rhianna, and to watch her glammed to the maxed and pulled to the crotch of a famous rapper..or crying over a balcony wanting to disappear.



The intensity of the first third of the film is tempered by the slower sections; but not diffused. Rather, the tone melts into melodrama, but it never fakes its emotional moments. Every tear, laugh and shout in my audience felt earned.

What if SHOWGIRLS started at the beginning when Nomi learned to dance? Who was her mom?
BEYOND'S Noni has a mother and it's Minnie Driver. And her Father was some guy she never knew who didn't give a shit about her mother.  Who are Rhianna's parents?  Does Britney always need her father around for her to feel loved?  Why the hell is Beyonce always naked and wearing long blond hair?
So what?
This is just information . And Time. And glimpses. An expanded 2 hrs of time to live and breathe and feel these things we only first glimpsed and felt in brief songs and exposes.  Such is the privilege of the narrative film.

Britney asks "what if i died?" in her "Everytime" video


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YzabSdk7ZA  Everytime

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4A5GDmwUv4 Noni wins. clip- BEYOND THE LIGHTS

Britney in "Overprotected"  setting up the film of overprotected pop star Noni  " I ....NEED....TIME"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZYSiWHW8V0&list=RD8YzabSdk7ZA&index=7

Sunday, November 30, 2014

best of 2014 SO FAR...updated

top films of year
only ranking my # 1 choice...everything else is in a group--no further rankings

#1 ADIEU AU LANGAGE  #1











CLOSED CURTAIN



UNDER THE SKIN


CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

THE IMMIGRANT
ENEMY
CITIZENFOUR

HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT

INCOMPRESA

LISTEN UP PHILIP


INHERENT VICE

GONE GIRL

JERSEY BOYS


honors:
best  transformational voyage:  LAND HO!

 best genre film of the year:  A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES

 excellent docs:  TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER
                             THE OVERNIGHTERS
                        ACTRESS

other films that stuck with me and feel like they'll be revisited for critical worth:

THE MEND
STORY OF MY DEATH
INTERSTELLAR (fuck haters)
APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT
BEYOND THE LIGHTS
EXHIBITION
LA SAPIENZA



Monday, November 17, 2014

happy endings

Abrupt but not unbelievable; suddenly incongruous yet totally satisfying. Sometimes happy endings occur hastily, and  against all reason.  To make it work reveals the skill of production.
Think about some of the dark films that are expected to end with the culmination of misery that they've been tracking all along, but then they sideline us with blind optimism.










Contrary to hope, there is happiness in store for us.


Lorna's Silence

Lorna's Silence
spirit interrupts

the girlfriend experience

the girlfriend experience
chelsea managing the business

l'Interieur

l'Interieur
cutting through the walls