Post-La Flor digressive cinema! Young lovers are kept apart by a curse, trying to find their ways back to each other and to themselves… but then, why not instead follow some dogs who want to watch the World Cup, and isn’t all this just a distraction from larger global issues? Anyway, the main plot ends up with a documentary film screening allowing the romantic leads to see their true selves again. The movie’s somewhat slow and wandering, but the music (in all different styles, by the director’s brother) is fabulous and everything is sufficiently magical (I did close my eyes when the narrator said to).
From the Cinema Scope cover story, Koberidze’s filmmaking origin story is hilarious:
I came home one day and my mom told me she had seen a film by Guy Ritchie called Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. She told me she liked it and her opinions have always been really important to me, so I watched it and it was the first time in my life when I realized that if this is good, than I can make something good too. It was like a switch went off in my mind. I wasn’t very impressed with the film, so I figured it couldn’t be too hard to make something like this.
Michael Sicinski on Patreon:
[The director/narrator’s] tendency to over-direct the viewer, combined with a relative indifference to the ramifications of the basic premise, suggest that Koberidze’s true concerns lay somewhere else … Koberidze makes use of the the flowing Rioni River and other physical features of his location, the Georgian town of Kutaisi. Still lives, portraits, and landscapes are the real stuff of What Do We See, and it is here that Koberidze excels.
I paused this halfway since Katy wanted to watch To the Ends of the Earth, which features a lead actor from Sono’s Tokyo Tribe – kinda thinking I should’ve rewatched Tribe instead of this. As Sono’s movies get wackier, I lose more interest… I hated Noriko’s Dinner Table, but it at least felt like he was aiming for something more than prefab cult movies for festival midnight sections and Alamo Drafthouses. Anyway, most of us are here for Nicolas Cage, and he’s good – the production design > acting > editing > writing. It’s written by an American cartoon voice actor and an actor from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – Sono’s tendency to slow down and repeat everything does the weak script no favors.
Sofia in Ghostland:
The Cult of the Mushroom Cloud:
Escape from New York meets that Rutger Hauer movie Wedlock where the convicts wear exploding collars. This time there are multiple little bombs in his jumpsuit, so Cage can lose an arm or a testicle and survive to the next scene. He’s a bad dude (frequent slow-mo flashbacks to a bank robbery where his partner went all Michael Madsen on the customers), as is Governor Bill Moseley who hires him to retrieve escaped daughter Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde and Climax). The Ghostland isn’t such a bad place, compared to anywhere else in this movie, it’s just everyone there has mass delusions. The baddie with a nuclear-melted face turns out to be Cage’s psychotic criminal partner, and Cage turns his half-arm into a weapon – what horror movie fan could’ve seen either of those developments coming?? MVP the Ratman.
Psycho Nick Cassavetes beneath my favorite banner:
Ratman at left:
The Flea of this movie is Jonathan Richman, who attended many VU shows and analyzed their vibrations. A terrifically assembled doc – instead of making me want to listen to the Velvet Underground at all, it made me feel like watching experimental film.
Edgar overusing “funny” stock footage, and it’s all people telling the band’s story chronologically with the music in background. Standard rock doc format, but I knew very little of their background and smiled through the whole thing – wonderful to see their visual history, all the promo stuff and album cover art outtakes.
The only good bit of analysis comes from Flea: “Something that’s always kind of confounded me in popular music is people’s inability to take humor seriously.” Ron says punk felt like an attack on what they were doing. They invented electro dance pop, and entered their current phase with 2002’s Lil Beethoven. The canceled Tati movie is covered, and the Tim Burton, but not the Guy Maddin Bergman – not even a Forbidden Room clip.
Guy coughing in a packed bus admits to having the flu while a loud racist spouts off – pretty much the worst nightmare of 2021. He’s removed from the bus and given a rifle to execute some well-dressed people, returned to the bus, removed again by a bald cop in a hearse. A guy talking dirty to a child gets his teeth knocked out. A black-haired librarian (the Former Mrs. Petrov) goes Hellraiser-eyed and destroys a violent poet. I think it’s floating in and out of fantasy, displaying the worst parts of society – a dipshit Hard to be a God.
Some good single-take camera tricks, but I did not have the patience for this. After an hour I skipped rapidly through the rest – saw UFOs, Sonic the Hedgehog, and a long stretch in black and white.
*I have rules about this sort of thing – if I only watched half a movie, I don’t mark it “seen” on the database, don’t log it on letterboxd, don’t write a blog post, etc… usually I’ll just mention it at the bottom of whatever I watched next, or in a round-up post. But I feel I should mark that hour I watched of Petrov’s Flu, since I never intend to finish it, and file it away somehow. Not gonna start watching the first halves of movies in order to get more posts in, also not gonna pretend this never happened. Setting a precedent, but who cares?
Russia turned upside down:
Waitress/stripper Taylour “Zola” Paige joins new friend Riley Keough for a work/vaca trip to Tampa, not realizing the dude along for the ride is Riley’s pimp (Colman Domingo, Paige’s Ma Rainey costar). Instead of either participating or getting the hell out of there, Zola gets cut into the management side, negotiating Riley higher pay for her work. This all culminates in a fatal hostage situation caused in part by Riley’s suicidally dumb bf Nicholas Braun (of the Poltergeist remake), and our heroes survive mostly intact. I assume this is basically Spring Breakers, but with better music and based on a true story.
Seems like a pretty faithful adaptation of the 1929 novel, according to the wikis, right down to the ambiguous cause of Ruth’s fall from a high window at the end. Really well visualized by Hall (British actress, star of Christine) and acted by protagonist Tessa Thompson, husband Andre Holland, and frenemy Ruth Negga. Also the first movie I’ve watched at someone else’s house since Batman Returns seven years ago (unless we’re counting the cabin).
The American Movie of the theater scene, guy spending years working on an epic that is never finished, then turns his own creative process into art instead. Andrew Garfield plays the guy who would later write Rent, Miranda stuffs the cast with theater people we didn’t recognize, and the whole thing is charming with good music.
Charles Bramesco called Garfield exhausting and said Larson’s “pre-success years play like fan fiction of his own life.”
This was chosen as a movie to please everyone at Thanksgiving, and it mostly worked out.
We also attempted to watch:
We don’t wanna sit around watching covid docs, but after her last movie, we trusted Nanfu Wang to make a good one. The initial hook is her Chinese/American family getting caught a world apart when lockdowns begin, but the family-reunion adventure-film doesn’t play out. Instead, she sends Chinese reporters into hospitals and on other missions, spends all day and night sifting through their footage and various social media posts, piercing the censorship veil to locate real stories of the virus’s initial spread, its early damage and the government’s control over the media, before flipping back to the U.S. to discuss the same kind of political spin doctoring and poor decisions here.