Old Man Yells At Cloud: The Movie. Not tightly assembled, smoothly edited, or well mixed (too much of Marty laughing on the soundtrack). Just a 3+ hour Q&A hangout with comedian Fran Lebowitz. Alec Baldwin and Spike Lee and Olivia Wilde appear as guest interviewers, some archival TV interviews are thrown in. I wanted her quote from episode 6 about only ever being able to understand one’s contemporaries, but don’t have netflix at this location, oh well.
Giving Spike shit about sports:
Sort of a process doc, focused on hands and objects (no faces are seen until the last ten minutes), partly documenting its own making (you hear claps for sound sync, direction to move action into camera view). I usually can’t figure out what they’re doing but I got when they traced the faint remaining pigment lines from ancient pottery and recreated the original design. Anyway the end titles (in reverse order) tell us exactly what we’ve been looking at.
Darren Hughes in Cinema Scope:
The film seems designed to ensnare viewers in the unspoken fetishistic pleasures of collecting, archiving, and displaying — the same pleasures that drive the economies of poaching and museum-building … Rinland has consistently used a number of formal techniques that have, in recent years, become associated with ASMR. [This film] is a comprehensive catalogue of triggers.
Happy SHOCKtober 2021! Reliably a few weeks behind on the blog, but I’m actually catching up, and I helpfully started watching horror movies in September so I’d be able to post them in October. I realized pretty early that this is the movie where the crazy-eyed Nic Cage meme comes from. Cage gives a massive performance, more goofy than you can imagine, speaking the whole time in a Posh Bill & Ted accent, and it seems for a long time like some poor fool director’s movie was ruined because he couldn’t keep a handle on Cage – but it turns out his being uncontrollably weird is a vital part of the plot.
Cage brings home a drunk hot girl, but they get chased out of his apartment by a bat on a string, then he spends half the movie tormenting his secretary (Maria Conchita Alonso, between The Running Man and Predator 2) looking for a missing contract. The bat and the contract, along with the 80’s beats and the accent make the movie hard to take seriously, but Cage is just so enjoyable. He believes that Jennifer Beals has turned him into a vampire (she hasn’t) and that he can’t see his reflection (we can) so he needs to feed, buying some cheap plastic fangs and murdering girls at dance clubs. He grabs and eats a pigeon, brutally breaks up with his imaginary girlfriend, and finally gets staked at home by the secretary’s brother. From the writer of After Hours!
Military training, solitary hunters, traumatized family members. A long procession of prisoners to match a long procession of soldiers (with alarming sound editing). A historical play enacted by psychiatric patients. Browsing ransom demands in voicemail. Loosely interwoven doc episodes filmed in four countries in the Middle East.
Mark Peranson in the great Cinema Scope cover story:
Notturno looks and sounds like what we would associate with a bigger-budget feature film, not something shot and recorded by one man over a three-year period. Often bereft of dialogue, the images are carefully framed.
Always there was this idea, even when I was filming Fire at Sea, “Where are these people coming from? What’s happening there?” … The challenge was to find these stories, because I went there not knowing anything, and I came back knowing less. I was able to grab and embrace stories and moments that left a very strong impact.
A fantastic follow-up to Pig – in fact, I should’ve watched them in reverse order. The men are famed truffle hunters caught up in a lucrative industry (I think the reseller is quadrupling the price he pays the hunters when selling to restaurants) which has become barbaric (at least one dog gets poisoned), while they just want to spend time in the woods with their beloved dogs. Alternates between careful right-angle framing, and other sorts of things (dog-mounted camera!).
Visions in Meditation #1
Uniquely wonderful experience watching this with Marvin Pontiac’s Asylum Tapes in the headphones, though it’s more of a vocal album than I was expecting and probably distracted from the visuals at times. Regular handheld and sometimes extreme-jitter, mostly nature, snow and slushy river, mountain valley at different times of year. SB seems to be able to walk around outside and capture images in ways nobody else does. Aperture keeps opening all the way, washing everything in white. I suppose it’s meditative – earth and mist and water, finally fire in the last few seconds.
Visions in Meditation #2 (Mesa Verde)
Tourist film of mountainside stone ruins with accompanying travel footage shot through windows, but it gets bleary and bendy, and brings in cameos by deer, geese and a nude man in a field. I played along with Chesley/Albini/Midyett’s “Irish” which lent a dirge-metal atmosphere well-suited to the ruins.
Visions in Meditation #3 (Plate’s Cave)
Sometimes there is plinky space-music in the caverns. Other things combined and juxtaposed with caverns: a carnival, a snowy road. More tourist-film car-window stuff, but the last section is focused on a whirlwind in a field, and if there’s anyone I want to see filming a whirlwind it’s our Stan. Ends on black with electro-chirp music by Rick Corrigan (who is still recording, and has stuff on bandcamp).
Visions in Meditation #4 (D.H. Lawrence)
The most distorted of the four, swirling earth and skies. A few glimpses of humanity: a reflection, a backlit figure, a closeup on toes. Silent, so I accompanied it with three songs from the new Low album… I couldn’t help myself, the bandcamp page said Rick Corrigan is RIYL John Zorn, and Zorn’s playing Big Ears with Low, and I’m obsessed with Low’s new record. Anyway Camper just texted to say it’s okay, that the Low/Brakhage combo is frisson-inducing.
I was in Tom Waits Mode for six weeks, re-listening to all his albums in chronological order – a real revelation. I posted writeups of each album on the slack at work, in a thread that nobody read, and figured I’d collect them all here – but they’re not really fun to re-read all together, just me searching for synonyms to express how cool everything sounds. So, not turning the movie blog into a music blog after all, instead here are the mid-career and late-career docs I watched.
Big Time (1988, Chris Blum)
A live album and concert movie, the set including one sincere song from Heartattack & Vine, one reinvented song from Blue Valentine, two new originals, and the bulk of the Swordfish/Rain/Frank’s trilogy. Tom likes to completely rework the songs in concert, resulting in some great versions – the looser version of “Underground” especially destroys the album track. Most importantly though, the movie isn’t just a concert recording, it’s got skits and visuals and stagings that reveal this whole “Tom Waits” musical career as a performance-art piece.
Tales from a Cracked Jukebox (2017, James Maycock)
Interviews with Lucinda Williams, Bones Howe, a Bad Seed, Terry Gilliam… the movie claims to be searching for the Real Tom Waits, which I’m not especially into, but fortunately it doesn’t get very far in its quest. I did learn that his dad’s name was Frank, which is somewhat illuminating re: the above-mentioned trilogy. Heavy use of Big Time in the visuals, of course… so here are some more screenshots from Big Time.
Doc about a filmmaker, whose parents moved from Latvia to Chicago and invented beer nuts and 360-degree cameras/projectors, who went on to make Monster A-Go-Go.
Rebane moved his family to Wisconsin (good sidebar piece on how strange Wisconsin is) and built a studio, making “secular rapture movies” which would influence the Avengers movies (maybe). Not super interested in watching any Rebane movies right now, but I was at an airport (in Wisconsin!) and had access to this, and it’s always nice to hang out with Mark Borchardt.
I watched this and Days within 24 hours. Is this what existentialism is? Will someone explain what it is?
Guy in a Mets hat walks outside, has a shit, sets to wrecking some nice trees with axe and chainsaw and shovel. He borrows a truck, sells the wood for under 30 pesos then spends 10 on gas and cigs. Was Makala a remake of this? Instead of dancing in a prayer tent at the end, he cooks and eats an armadillo. Still, there was more dance music than I expected from a one-person manual-labor movie set in the woods.
Gofundme to get Misael some gloves:
Watching the Alonso movies out of order, but it’s easy to see the progression, and I like the direction he’s going – anticipating the eventual followup to Jauja. I don’t have the original Cinema Scope cover story handy, so it’s worth reading V. Rizov’s letterboxd writeup for context on this movie’s groundbreaking status for doc/fiction hybrids and fest-style slow cinema.