daughter little sister is getting married and it’s up to the eldest to find an uncle willing to attend the wedding, while the bride-to-be acts moody and annoyed. Iman is also dealing with early menopause symptoms, and has a pet turtle who only exists to fulfill an on-its-back helplessness visual metaphor. Plodding 66-minute movie containing powerfully condensed disappointment.
Ensemble movie of intersecting characters around NYC, packs plenty into under 90 minutes. I might’ve mixed up a couple of actors, but… Buddy Duress gets beaten up for attempting to scam record collector Bene Coopersmith… whose roommate George Sample III is in trouble for instructing his computer guy Benny Safdie to publish revenge porn of his recently-ex-girlfriend Marsha Stephanie Blake. Clockmaker Philip Baker Hall unwittingly holds material evidence that widow Michaela Watkins murdered her husband, and cub reporter Abbi Jacobson embarrassedly tries to get the dirt on that case, egged on by her slimy metalhead boss Michael Cera. Short-haired teen Tavi Gevinson hangs out with best friend Olivia Luccardi (who has a boyfriend) speaking pretentiously and acting like she definitely doesn’t want a boyfriend. Movie ends with a dance party, as all movies should.
Also: Isiah Whitlock Jr.:
Hell yeah, Unwound:
The filmmaker likes light and shadow, and inserting grainy digital stills between scenes. I only would’ve made it 20 minutes in I was watching fest screeners, but then I would’ve missed the scuba photography.
A lot of pissing and sleeping in this movie! Breaking into derelict apartments? Building a useful neighborhood from the remnants of the abandoned city. The hushed, hypnotized narrator shows up irregularly, telling us stuff related to the sleepy, casual goings-on. Sometimes we see the filmmaking equipment. Sounds carry on from previous scenes. Some philosophical content made me chuckle, the movie not worth taking seriously.
On Letterboxd: In the City in the Rain by The 6ths feat. Lou Barlow
Self-consciously arty/stagey flick, part of the Brisseau canon of horny old frenchmen filming in their apartments. Cut from a sleeping couple to their “dreams” on 4:3 b/w lo-gauge film, my second movie in a row to do that. Shots and setups take their time, but there’s no apparent story so it’s not like we have anywhere else to be. Opens with a camera roaming a film set peeping through a keyhole-shaped mask, and easily tops that in the scene where an electric train-mounted camera drives beneath a nude woman. Seems to devolve at the end, with a break for a misogyny mass murder montage, getting really into being eaten by gators and strangling blondes. Overall more engaging than my previous Bressane, seems to bode well.
Star actress Zoë Kravitz is shot dead at her home and her assistant Lola Kirke seems to have been set up. This has my favorite aspect of Katz’s Cold Weather – normal people pretending to be detectives. The celebrity aspect and introduction of actual detective John Cho derail some of its pleasures, but some of the neon-electric mood stuff sticks.
On Letterboxd: Guided by Voices “Strumpet Eye” (sorry)
Reminder that Mati Diop was in the last movie I watched:
Global, less insular Piñeiro universe than Viola, with actors from La Flor (and onscreen drawings like La Flor). Title of the movie comes from the Midsummer Night’s Dream characters played by a couple of minor players in rehearsals that we never see – there was more Shakespeare in the Kids in The Hall sketch I watched the previous day than in this.
Carmen is returning to Argentina from a NY institute and Midsummer translator Camila is taking her place, causing some identity confusion. Camila ends up dating Carmen’s institute guy Keith Poulson and getting visited by Carmen’s America-roaming friend Mati Diop. They’re supposedly at this institute to work but they spend more time worrying over their parting gift. Camila looks up her long-lost father (Sallitt) and her long-lost boyfriend (Dustin Guy Defa), and Ted Fendt is in the credits to round things out. There are strange turns and visits to Argentina and a sudden film-in-a-film and I’m not convinced it all works, but it’s also flirty and pleasant.
On Letterboxd: “Hermann Loves Pauline” by Super Furry Animals
Schanelec movies suffer by reminding me of Zürcher movies just enough to make me wish I was watching those instead. This one isn’t as entrancing as it means to be, but slightly, seductively baffling. Down-and-out druggie couple starts out busking “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” before Kenneth is called home, his mom ailing in hospital, dad asking him to use his drug connections to find morphine for her. This first couple is last seen laying down on the earth, separately. Many years later a cop is leaving her husband, he rents his own place, and the time periods are mashing up in a non-obvious way.
Blake Williams in Cinema Scope:
… an amorphous, exceedingly enigmatic trance film masquerading as a puzzle film. Puzzles fit together; this does not … These temporal leaps we’re taken through … become equal to every other narrative element. … Time, then, beyond language, becomes the decisive medium that negotiates and complicates characters’ emotional relations to one another, and Schanelec’s avoidance of distinguishing between “now” and “then” insures that the impact of every loss, every ruptured relationship, is held in an eternal suspension.
On Letterboxd: “Virginia Woolf” by Robyn Hitchcock
Our second Locorazo movie in a row to end with the female lead character getting busted by the cops. No fire-murders this time, just Sarah scamming large amounts of cash from gullible grandmas around town. Not very straightforward about its narrative, the movie likes to follow side characters about their day, weaving in and out of plot. Clean digital look with some arresting compositions (photographing still figures against turbulent backgrounds), the human action often relegated to the lower third of frame. There’s somewhat too much business-as-usual – conversations about cellphone and insurance plans, endlessly reading account numbers aloud – but it’s worth the short runtime to hear Swiss people saying “hotspot.” Schäublin has made a couple shorts since, and has a new feature about an anarchist watchmaker, seems like someone to watch out for.
On Letterboxd: “Me, Myself & Wine” by Ron Sexsmith
Welcome to Locorazo, the successor of LNKarno, during which we watch films that played the Locarno Festival a few years back.
After La France, I’m sorry this isn’t a musical, but the kids do get a rap performance about the uselessness of school. It’s an attractive looking movie, well-lit with a bright palette, bold camera moves. The story keeps pausing to demonstrate math lessons. Bozon is a better director here than writer, but it’s eccentric and unusual, and that’s what we like about Locarno.
Isabelle Huppert is a teacher who can’t handle her class, being investigated by higher-ups due to complaints that the students don’t learn anything. Malik is the most abusive of the lot, making Hitler jokes and humiliating the teacher for social points, though he remains an outcast. After Huppert is struck by lightning, she becomes a better teacher, finding new ways to engage the students and drawing out the crippled Malik through one-on-one lab lessons, but she’s also becoming a fire creature who torches a kid and two dogs to death. She’s assigned a trainee who takes crying breaks in the bathroom, and she’s given a promotion at work, but is eventually taken away by the police (“I was expecting you. Goodbye, students.”)
Wacky principal Romain Duris starred in The Beat That My Heart Skipped and Mood Indigo. Her soulful house-husband José Garcia was a doctor in Trouble Every Day. Trainee Guillaume Verdier is a Bonello regular.
Blake Williams in Cinema Scope:
In order … to elevate it to something that manifests beauty through experience as opposed to only being about it, Bozon – working with his cinematographer (and sister) Céline Bozon and editor François Quiqueré – amplifies the tactility of the images and the impact of the montage … Factor in the sustained emphasis on all the senses – bodies radiating, skin burning, hands wafting, noses sniffing – and you have an impression of a world that is real and embodied. The movie becomes a living object that breathes, and it excites its moments of beauty into something close to both lunacy and the ecstatic.
On Letterboxd: “Nothing to Hide” by Yo La Tengo