A lovely little movie, spanning a week in the life of Paterson bus driver Paterson (Adam Driver), who lives with quirky, fashionable Golshifteh Farahani (About Elly, Chicken With Plums, Shirin) and a bulldog (deserved Palm Dog winner).

William Harper (The Good Place) stalking Chasten Harmon:

Paterson with poetry whisperer Masatoshi Nagase (Maiku Hama himself):

“He was a weaver… an anarchist weaver” – the Moonrise Kingdom kids discuss historical figures from Paterson NJ:

Richard Porton:

Paterson is now known to New Jerseyans, if they know anything about it at all, as a poor city, avoided by tourists and locals alike and plagued by gang warfare. Jarmusch’s non-naturalistic conception of Paterson … is instead a cinephilic haven with a cozy repertory cinema that enables the happy couple to attend a screening of Erle C. Kenton’s Island of Lost Souls … Despite a few minor skirmishes in the bar among soused patrons, Paterson and Laura’s soulful English bulldog named Marvin is responsible for the film’s only bona fide act of violence. Marvin’s almost unforgivable act of aggression suffuses the film with a genuine melancholy … Unlike Loach, with his penchant for didactic political fables, Jarmusch favours a more intimate critique of everyday life, as well as savouring the utopian possibilities that might emerge if we reject the inanities of our consumer society and, say, combine bus driving with poetry.

B. Ebiri:

There are many moments that, in other films, could presage the beginning of something more dramatic: a shouting match; an automotive failure; a random, puzzling encounter or two. But the film keeps its even keel. So maybe there are two sides to Jarmusch’s manifesto: Finding joy and beauty in the everyday is not just an aesthetic priority, he seems to suggest, but an existential imperative for the uneasy soul.

Watched for Cannes Month – of the movies I wanted to watch from last year’s fest, I’ve already seen 13, missed 7… 4 are opening soon, and 12 have dropped off the face of the earth (I don’t understand how film distribution works).

Dec 2021: Watched again with Katy – I love this movie even more now.

The adventures of:
Heen, a coughing laryngytic dog
Markl, child with a fake beard
Turnip, a scarecrow

And also:
Sophie, a cursed girl
Howl, a bird-demon

And also:
Witch of the Waste, melty-faced after losing her powers
Calcifer, a fire-demon

Katy says large parts of the source novel were omitted in the movie version, which would explain why the war and dealings with evil queen Suliman seem underdeveloped. But as far as visuals and unique characters go, this movie is unsurpassed.

The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger (2010)

Because the advertising billboard looks cool. Then he finds out the horrible truth and with his mom’s help, rebels against the burger factory. Has a different look, Bill says he drew with sharpie on small sheets of paper, and I believe he said painter Kandisky was his coloring inspiration.

Gary Guitar (2007)

Gary invites Vera Violin out. Obstacles threaten to derail their picnic, but Gary is prepared for almost anything, and friend/annoyance Danny Drum helps out with the rest. Was meant to be a pilot.

Gary makes the mother of all sandwiches, which will later be used as a weapon against a fire-breathing robot:

Waiting For Her Sailor (2012)

One minute, one gag, but a good one.

Summer Bummer (2012)

Colored-pencil illistration of unrealistic fears of sharks in swimming pools.

The Flying House (1921, Winsor McCay)

Kickstarter-fueled restoration of McCay’s final film (a predecessor to Up), using McCay’s newspaper cartoons for color reference. I had Mr. Show flashbacks when they blew up the moon.

Tiffany The Whale (2012)

Rivalry between two top runway models, a woman with huge blonde hair, and a whale. Long and talky – I’m surprised Bill meant this to be a pilot as well, since I’m not sure where else you can take a whale-as-model story.

Drunker than a Skunk (2013)

Cool poem by Walt Curtis (subject of Gus Van Sant’s Mala Noche and of an hour-long doc by Plympton). The poem’s partly lost under music and effects so I watched this twice, but the animation is wonderful – my favorite on the disc.

Horn Dog (2009)

Finally I get to see the fourth dog film. The dog finds love in the park. Tries to give her gifts, but imagines terrible repercussions a la Guard Dog. Finally settles on a violin serenade but accidentally kills her owner.

Guard Dog Global Jam (2011)

Based on a Marv Newland concept called Anijam, Plympton coordinated online to get animators to recreate Guard Dog, one shot each. The best bit: the guy with the laughing-girl shot subcontracted each frame to different illustrators. Good story on the commentary about this film’s near-failure – submissions were open and they thought nobody was signing up, but really it was so many people the server crashed.

and from the Cheatin’ blu-ray:

The Gastronomic Shark (Bill Plympton)

A very silly, very short, bad-taste piece on human meal options for sharks.

There’s more on the Dogs & Cows disc, commissioned shorts and extras, which I haven’t explored yet.

In reviews of What Time Is It There, critics praise the cinematography of Benoit Delhomme. And sure, it looked good on DVD, but watching Stray Dogs in HD made a massive difference. When your movie involves people standing in the middle distance in a room, it helps to be able to see the person, and the room.

A movie about people with shitty jobs trying to hold their lives together, I suppose. Lee has two kids, stands on corners in the miserable wind and rain holding up an advertisement. And there’s a woman who works at a grocery store, seems efficient at her job, then goes home to a derelict building where her hobbies are feeding wild dogs and staring at a wall mural.

I assumed the woman was played by Chen Shiang-chyi from What Time Is It There, but I recognized Yi-Ching Lu in a promo still from the film, and that’s the same character in the movie, so I was confused until I read this from Tony Rayns: “Complicating matters just a little, she is played by all three of Tsai’s favorite actors: Yang Kuei-mei in the prologue, Lu Yi-ching in the supermarket, and Chen Shiang-chyi in the closing scenes.”

Woman 2:

Nick Pinkerton on the woman:

Every time a new actress replaces the last, the character is introduced in such a fashion that it’s impossible to gauge their familiarity or lack thereof with Lee’s character or the children. There is sufficient evidence to suggest either that they are all facets of the same woman, or that they are three different women altogether; there’s not enough evidence to prove either conclusion. Tsai’s own explanation is that, having suffered recent ill health, he feared that this would be his last chance to work with the actresses.

Woman 3:

If there’s anything Walker has taught me it’s to appreciate very small movements and variations in apparent stillness – plenty of opportunity for that here. This is a movie that ends with a twenty-minute scene (in two shots) of two people staring at a wall. Before that, the woman seems to kidnap Lee’s children, then they all end up at her house together, where he quietly breaks into her collection of tiny liquor bottles.

Lee vs. cabbage:

Tsai’s apparent obsession with water (and peeing) continues here. Watching so much of his work in a row made me yearn for noodles, but I didn’t explain myself sufficiently so Katy made lasagna.

Pinkerton again, from his fantastic review in Reverse Shot:

The battering rains which never seem to cease in Tsai’s Taipei have, like time, the power to erode, wear down — and with time, as Lee has grown from lost boy to thickset, ruddy middle-aged man, Tsai’s cinema has itself eroded. The trajectory of Tsai’s filmography has been an ongoing act of paring away. It seems difficult to believe today, but Rebels of the Neon Gods actually had energetic tracking shots. It had theme music! Catchy theme music! … In Tsai’s fallen world, his tired, poor, wretched refuse can ask for nothing more than refuge, silence and space enough to dream in and something better to dream of, a shrine to honor with their tears. In Stray Dogs, that shrine is the shore of a virginal Taiwan. For the rest of us who persist in a habit of staring at pictures on walls, Stray Dogs itself will do nicely.

Woman 1:

Tsai:

When I was a little boy, I used to go to a market next to a clock tower with my grandmother. In my memory, that clock tower looked gigantic. A while later, when the market disappeared, the tower looked more diminutive than ever. Each time I walked past that tower I felt sorrow. Sometimes reality is so depressing one can barely face it. Those disappeared theaters from the memories of my childhood, when I began traveling the world, I realized they can be found everywhere, in equal states of dilapidation, many of which become cruising spots. I liked to go on my own adventures in these places. It’s so hard to describe the feeling I get in these spaces, like a dream covered in mold. Typical trajectories are not part of my world, or my films, and most definitely not part of my dreams.

Xiao Kang (2015)

Since I watched a Tsai short after What Time Is It There, I dug up this two-minute, windowboxed, sepia-toned piece focusing on Lee Kang-sheng. Used as a trailer for the Vienna film festival which began last month.

M. D’Angelo:

One day I may sit down and watch his entire oeuvre in succession — it’s hard to think of another contemporary filmmaker for which that project would potentially be more revelatory.

Deserved winner of the Palm Dog at Cannes. Truly, the dogs were great. However I was frustrated and confused by the rest of the movie, which was relentless misery until the climactic explosion of dog vengeance. The movie has been compared to Au Hasard Balthasar, but it’s maybe closer to I Spit On Your Grave.

Girl is abandoned by her mom to live with her shitty dad for the summer. She is devoted to her dog Hagen, gets kicked out of her orchestra by the asshole band leader because of Hagen, but after pressure from horrid neighbors, Dad kicks the dog out on the street. Horrible people + handheld camera = no fun. Dog catchers, dog fighters, etc. The fighter trains Hagen to be hateful and violent, a la this movie’s great namesake. The girl’s bike is stolen, woman at dog shelter is a liar and dog murderer, and so on. Then: a well orchestrated bloodbath of revenge, with a picturesque but mysterious ending.

M. D’Angelo:

This movie’s stupid. I suppose it’s slightly less stupid if one views it allegorically — that is, if the dogs are supposed to represent minorities — but that barely seems tenable, especially w/r/t the laughable ending. Otherwise, its sole point of interest is its use of real dogs at the climax, which isn’t remotely scary (Mundruzcó has no feel whatsoever for horror) but does at least represent an impressive feat of screw-you-CGI logistics. And then he goes and ruins that by using said climax, which should arise out of nowhere, as a surreal flash-forward “grabber” at the outset, a ploy that smacks of bad television. At best, this might have worked as a segment of Amores perros (which it explicitly apes for a while); two hours is beyond laborious, and every cut away from Hagen to the little girl and her dad feels like Mundruzcó deliberately wasting your time.

Oh no, I got behind on the blog and didn’t write about these.
I tend to forget shorts pretty fast, so I’m using web sources to recall which of these was which.

Me and My Moulton (Torill Kove)
Narrated memoir of three girls growing up in a normal town with not-normal parents – they are art and design obsessed, and when the kids ask for bicycles they finally get a weird one the proud parents have mail-ordered. Kove won best picture in 2006 for The Danish Poet.

Feast (Patrick Osborne)
We saw this before, playing with Big Hero 6, and I forgot to mention it then. Dog’s-eye-view of food, food, doomed human relationship, more food. Osborne worked on Bolt, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph.

The Bigger Picture (Daisy Jacobs)
One of my favorite things: wall drawings and real objects interacting, 2D and 3D blending, like the drawn animations on paper-mache backgrounds in Rocks In My Pockets, or in a different sense, the dimension-based drama of Rabbit and Deer. But while I love the idea, it’s still a drab little story about fighting siblings and a dying parent.

A Single Life (Blaauw/Oprins/Roggeveen)
My favorite – also the shortest. Woman puts a 45 on the player, and finds that if she skips to different parts of the record, she travels to different times in her own life. IMDB claims the story was conceived on a drunken college night.

The Dam Keeper (Kondo & Tsutsumi)
Lonely pig runs the windmill that keeps the darkness at bay, but nobody in town loves or respects him so one day he lets the darkness in. Both directors worked on Pixar movies. This was cool, dark and imaginative, so naturally there’s talk of sequels and franchises and live-action remakes.

Sweet Cocoon (Bernard/Bruget/Duret/Marco/Puiraveau)
A student film, I think. A caterpillar is fat!

Duet (Glen Keane)
Keane has been in animation forever, was a lead character animator on many Disney features, and this is his first solo film. A boy is sporty, and a girl is graceful, and they like each other, all in one continual, fluid animation. Katy thought it reinforced oppressive gender roles, but that was before she saw the new Cinderella.

Footprints (Bill Plympton)
Moebius-strip footprint-following detective story.

Bus Story (Tali)
Another memoir, this time of a young woman who dreams of being a bus driver, so rents a shitty bus from its grumpy owner. Tali made La Pirouette, which I saw in 2002 and liked, though I can’t remember at all.

“Why do they do it, Snitter? I’m not a bad dog.”

I didn’t have any more horror movies handy on my laptop, so since it was Shocktober (actually Shocktember – I started early) I picked the non-horror movie with the most horrific title… Plague Dogs!

Same team as Watership Down, but not nearly as popular due to its reputation of being as depressing as Grave of the Fireflies. I wouldn’t go that far, but the story isn’t a heartwarming one. Black Snitter (voiced by John Hurt a couple years after The Elephant Man) and brown-and-white Rowf (TV’s Christopher Benjamin) escape from a cruel animal testing lab, wherein Snitter is regularly drowned then revived, and little Rowf receives brain experiments (he wears a cap to cover scars atop his head). Out in the wild they tenuously befriend a fox (James Bolam of O Lucky Man!) who helps them find (hunt) food. But rumors spread among the townsfolk that the dogs who have been eating their sheep and chickens (I know it’s a rural location, but is TV/radio news really so slow that they have daily stories on two escaped dogs that have been “terrorizing sheep”?) are infected with bubonic plague (no evidence that’s true) so lab personnel hunt them down.

from watery grave:

to watery grave:

Good animation, especially the movement of the animals. We get good little side plots, like Rowf’s tendency to accidentally kill people, making it more than just a story to bum out animal-rights activists. Maybe I’m inhuman (or incanine) but I didn’t find it to be the most depressing movie. I didn’t find Colossal Youth or The Cranes Are Flying depressing either, but In Praise of Love and The Hangover I did. The most depressing kind of movie isn’t a sad one, it’s a crappy one.

Saw Michelle Williams before in Brokeback.
Can’t recall her in Synecdoche or I’m Not There.
Very good performance.

She drives a car, has a dog, rations cash, seeks Alaska.

Car breaks.
Arrested for shoplifting.
Dog disappears.

Pleasant man named Wally played a drugstore security guard.

The movie credits would like to mention Will Patton.
He is the prestige.
Played a mechanic.
Last seen in Road House 2 (ouch)

Larry Fessenden, directed Habit, plays a crazy person.
Apparently he does that a lot.
Cabin Fever Part 2? That won’t be good.
Did anyone know there are two sequels to the Pulse remake?

Movie is well paced, well shot.
Does not make me as sleepy as Old Joy.
A pleasure to watch.

The dog lives.
It’s so cold in Alaska.

Colloque de chiens is the real title, Dog Symposium is the title on the subtitles. The movie is a story told to each other by dogs through a series of stills, La Jetee-like, with quavery synth music and dry narration. The dogs are shot live-action with natural sound.

Dogs on a vacant lot bark at each other over the credits.

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“The woman you call mum isn’t your mother” Monique turned pale on hearing those words from a school friend. Madame Duvivier tells little Monique that Marie, the woman who often comes by, is the real mother. Marie tells Monique that she doesn’t know who her father is. Monique flees Bordeaux. “From now on, sex and domination shall rule Monique’s life.” Monique is a nurse, has illicit affairs with her male patients. Christmas eve 1966 she dances with rich, 65-year-old Hubert, intends to seduce him for his money. Monique becomes a “cold and dry voiced whore” with “an urge for revenge”.

Dogs bark in apartment windows and balconies.

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Monique falls for the TV repairman, Henri, who she remembers from her hometown. She starts a new life, opening the Joli Mont cafe, but “in fact she’s buying her own death”. Henri helps her run it. Alice, a friend from home, comes to visit, blackmails Monique to not tell Henri about her sad past, has an affair and falls in love with Henri. When the three are in the park, Monique kills herself and her 3-year-old son Paul-Henri. Dogs.

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“Henri’s only option is to marry Alice, his wife’s intimate friend, who dominates him. In a way, Alice was buying her own death.” Alice tells about both women’s pasts on their wedding night. Henri has an urge for revenge. He grabs an empty bottle of wine, which turns into a knife on the images, and kills her. Dogs. Henri cuts up Alice’s body and hides the parts all over town, which switches to live-action for a bit, with no dogs but the sound of children singing.

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Back to stills. Henri goes to Marseilles and falls into some shady dealings with gangsters, is jailed for 5 years. Nurses a sick cellmate with whom he has an affair. The police draw a map of the body parts they’ve found, which form a circle, the Joli Mont cafe at the center. “The universal geometric laws gave him away”. Live action street shots, adults singing.

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Stills. Mr. Benami tells Henri about sex-change operations in Casablanca, “the perfect disguise”. “Henri Odile has become a charming young lady.” Christmas eve 1974 she’s invited out by a rich, 65-year old man, intends to seduce him for money. Odile becomes a prostitute. Goes back to Montsouris, sees the Joli Mont is for sale, buys and runs it, adopts young Luigi. One evening, 18-year-old Fernand comes to the bar with a bottle of wine / knife / empty glass, kills Odile. Dogs barking. At school, Luigi is pestered by his friends. “Your mother was killed by her lover.” “That’s not true. The woman you call my mother wasn’t my mother.” Credits.

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This movie is as old as I am. I watched it three times in one weekend… it is fantastic.

The editor and composer both still work with Ruiz (That Day, Klimt, etc), the cinematographer is now with Olivier Assayas, and the actress (!) who played Henri is now a press agent. Everyone involved still alive and well, including Ruiz, who has a euro-art-meets-quentin-tarantino cast of actors lined up for his next film.