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, 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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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

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

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 expound 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 outstretches 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  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 if 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 familiar appeal, is a drama by putting the viewer next to an ultra idealized woman ( 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  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. A protracted 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"


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












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

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

INTERSTELLAR (fuck haters)

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.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Flattened Out: Lands Explored in ADIEU AU LANGAGE

The challenges of depicting interior experience  can account for a social distance remaining uncrossed.  To discount the inner world, to be unable to access others or your own, is to perpetrate a flat, protected world, one of images doubling as obstacles,  those that are impossible to penetrate.
One could imagine a group of people at a societal gathering; say a book fair, and the people are so accustomed to remaining curled up inside their own denial of the depth of inner experience that they refuse to discuss the books with one another or to interact; their main experience is of flashing and swiping, heads pointed town at the flat digital outputs of their smartphones.

One can imagine an uneven love affair, or how all true love affairs
are uneven; one must love more and therefore hurt more than the other. At one point in ADIEU AU LANGAGE  Godard's narrator states something about how once an animal as a pet has  directly met the gaze of a person, there is no going back, there is no more of being exactly two. Like lovers, like parents and children, they have seen each other because they both have bothered to LOOK:   they are connected through specific  recognition; of inner life and mutual feeling.
They are no longer two, and yet as we hear this we see the dog alone.  One imagines the dog, or any animal that is kept by a human, is the one who bears the burden of longing. One can not imagine that the person who has imprisoned this animal with our love and dictates the terms is the one who ever feels the pain associated with that love as the dog.  The person imprisons by deciding when they'll see the dog; we decide how much time we have and how much love we will allow ourselves to give.

This is doubly true in a couple of man and woman or woman and woman and man and man. It is a societal idea; a political need for reliance on a flattening out ; an easier way to disseminate and sell images and stories; that has chained us to our technology and flattened out what was once made of flesh that could be held and felt; not just shared in a gaze/  The one who can not decide when they love is the one who looks longingly to feel that love they were glimpsed.  It is teased with; the gaze of a lover when they see your soul and then the denial of interior oneness as they pull away and control the intensity is not unlike defining the boundaries of love with a pet.

In another iteration of this idea, Godard shows us a dog in war. And his narrator says something about the dog as a soldier.  He is the soldier of love, the less loved of the two, and he will sacrifice for what is greater than him alone.

ADIEU(goodbye, farewell) . AH DIEUX (oh, Gods).  More puns from Godard, but also they are extensions of one thing into another object. We have one thing that is now two things and if both are added together there is a destruction of the first; it is no longer a flat label but it is an extension; a protrusion , like adding a dimension to see something flat protrude into something tangible.
Elements of collage used before by Godard, oh yes, but also now it is speicifally reflecting the idea of    a single image, idea or word altered and illuminated by the generation of multiple meanings; multiple sides; three dimensions.

Echoing the flatness of our relations with one another, is the flatness of our ecstasies and sorrows.
The new film is flooded with gestures of lovers, but there is a schism between acting in love and being in love; one unavoidably crystal when seeing these people together. Their life is surrounded with a hideous lack of depth; the large flatscreen television in their home plays a classic Hollywood film in a shitty looking format. The most exciting discussion of literature is of Solzenhitsyn, but the conversation is stilted by the limitations of human's ability to delve inside and to connect to one another. The poetry and humor of Godard's film shows this by a series of searches for pictures of Solzenhitsyn on cellphones.

The destruction of depth is nothing but a result of one plus one.  Is this a depthless land we reach by way of (1) refusing to love limitlessly PLUS  (2) chaining our intellectual experiences to the army of the new; to the propagation of images sold on the web; the amazon booklist.
Jacques Ellul is mentioned, and i've only read his book Propaganda.(the author but not that book is  specifically mentioned in Godard's film),  This is a book very much about social change affected by political parties owning philosophy; controlling what we buy and what we see, but not through laws, rather through IDEAS. The application of one plus another to equal two is an element of collage, the duality of dimensions to add up to their implosion and rebuilding; the 3d  of the film is used as a readjustment or a corrective in its design.

There are many more complicated ideas and layered structures of film and philosophy at work.  Others are and will continue to explore them. The land of the loveless and the land of the half loved; dogs and people both, is a minefield of fascination for me.

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