Found another movie from the director of the Maiku Hama series. Silent-ish – no sync dialogue or music score, but we hear sfx and voices on tape. A detective whose thing is that he’s always eating eggs (Shirô Sano of Violent Cop) takes on the case of a kidnapped daughter named Bellflower and is sent on the usual goose chase, but with riddles and gyroscopes. In the end the whole adventure and kidnapping was a ploy to complete a silent film fifty years in the making.
Played Critics Week at Venice along with Assayas’s debut. Relaxed pace and lack of dialogue makes it hazy and dreamy – per the title, it’s not one to watch late at night. Funny that a few hours after watching this, I read: “it made me wonder what it’d be like to see, for once, a cinephilic film that isn’t in any way about cinephilia.”
José is a drug-addict filmmaker editing a vampire movie (Law of Desire star Eusebio Poncela). He meets Pedro, an extreme cinema obsessive (Will More of Dark Habits). The two are maybe not great for each other, or maybe that’s the drugs talking – movie jumps back in time to when Pedro was alive, while in the present tense, José gets high with Ana (All About My Mother star Cecilia Roth) and investigates letters, tapes and films sent to him.
José’s inspirational posters also include Viridiana wearing a Spider-Man mask.
Pedro is a super-creepy young man who only loves cinema and silly putty. He gets a stop-motion time-lapse gizmo and films himself sleeping, becoming obsessed with some hidden change that is happening. His camera apparently becomes sentient and starts killing people, beginning with Pedro’s large-eyed cousin Marta, while Pedro becomes hoarse-voiced, weak and withdrawn. José finally arrives, performs a blindfold ritual before the killer camera, and becomes pure cinema.
I prioritized watching this after Nick Pinkerton’s writeup – some of his best work.
Pedro’s address to José, dictated from the edge of oblivion in an unrecognizable rasp suggestive of lycanthropic transformation, structures what narrative Arrebato can be said to have … In Arrebato’s last act, which finds José totally absorbed in Pedro’s film and his strange quest, it becomes a movie about one run-down sybarite who’s coming apart at the seams bearing witness to the spectacle of another run-down sybarite who has come apart at the seams, both “reunited” on celluloid in the film’s inspired and singularly unnerving closing scene. If you watch the movie and aren’t keeping it together particularly well yourself – and who is these days? – this can all add up to a disquieting hall-of-mirrors effect.
I kept holding onto these until I watched more TV, then I didn’t watch more TV… can’t seem to get to episode two of Underground Railroad or the second half of Only Murders or to start the new seasons of any of my current faves, just chilling with old movies for now.
I thought these would be Story of Film clip shows, but the first episode is mostly original photography. It’s about the summer of Jaws, with a reference to the spider eggs in Bubble Yum. 2: Tony Zhou on Lady Vengeance and the revenge film formulas – this one’s a total clip show with guest speakers, and is really nice. 3: we see the narrator, Drew McWeeny on lead-character likeability, from Lawrence of Arabia through The Godfather to Taxi Driver. Funny that he’s talking about the rise of obnoxious lead characters in the late 60s/early 70s the night after I watched Performance. 4: no film critic monologue here, it’s a special on the art of animated character design, featuring Glen Keane and artists from Brave and The Lego Movie. 5: Movies vs. TV, ehhh. 6: Simply about race in the movie 48 Hrs., but well thought-out and easily better than the last couple, which were more technical. This series was David Prior’s follow-up to The Empty Man, weirdly enough.
Travel Man season 1 (2015)
Tempted to watch The Souvenir Part II for a few sweet glimpses of Richard Ayoade, instead I discovered he spent eight years hosting reality TV shows, so I dug one up. Season one covers Barcelona with Kathy Burke… Istanbul with Adam Hills… Iceland with Jessica Hynes (Spaced), the best episode yet, and the place I most want to visit… and Marrakesh w Stephen Mangan (“The beauty is largely offset by fear”). More, please.
I watched Dragon Inn (1967) at home Friday night. On Saturday I was the only person who bought a ticket to Goodbye, Dragon Inn which is entirely set in a nearly-empty movie theater that is playing Dragon Inn… then I was the only person at West Side Story (2021), which is of course a remake of the 1961 movie. So, both of the newer movies are resurrecting the 60’s in their own way, both feature people watching their younger selves (actors from Dragon Inn are in the Goodbye audience, and 2021 Rita Moreno has a big scene with Anita, Rita Moreno’s 1961 role)… and both feature coin-operated fortune-telling machines.
Goodbye was my first Tsai film, watched originally on a blurry DVD, which inspired my first pre-blog web writeup. This week I’ve seen it twice – or, one a a half times, the second being a Metrograph stream in the background while I read Nick Pinkerton’s book on the film (and on so many related topics). Reading while the movie plays feels like a good idea, not only with the other Fireflies/Decadent books, but with books in general, which I should maybe always be reading with a Tsai film playing behind them. This movie seemed so slow and empty twenty years ago, and now it seems very full – and I wrote “so many cuts” in my notes, so my definition of “slow” is obviously very different now.
Apichatpong is a big fan, and I thought of his actress Jen when the crippled ticket taker was making her way around the theater. The first words aren’t spoken until halfway through, and they’re about ghosts. Later, our Japanese cruiser encounters a seed-chewing woman who may be a ghost, and he runs straight out of the movie. On the same day I watched this movie where a guy is confronted by a loud eater, a Florida cop was acquitted for killing a guy who threw popcorn during a movie argument.
“No one comes to the movies anymore.” Surprised at how small Lee Kang-sheng’s projectionist role is here, and how much of the movie takes place not in the screening room but the surrounding hallways. Despite being set in the back alleys of a haunted crumbling building, it’s at least as gorgeous as the King Hu film, probably more so.
Begonia opened with a big voice and a full band on keyboards and drum pads. An Issues Doc, invaders killing the indigenous people and the rain forest. Brief time is spent with the invaders themselves, poor misunderstood white supremacists who feel entitled to the land because it’s “undeveloped,” very easy to root against them even though they’re victims of the same government/capitalist system that has repressed the others. The main story follows the young new leader of a Brazilian indigenous community, educated and tech savvy, using cameras and drones to document the destruction and fight back, leading missions to peacefully arrest the invaders and destroy their settlements. A woman in the nearby city is a supporter who has fought alongside them for decades. Marvelous extreme close-ups on local creatures. Our screening got a rare burst of mid-film applause: after covid hits, the local media wants to come film the native community, breaking quarantine – but they say we have our own camera equipment, just send us your shot list.
Despite technically being a Sundance premiere, we were the first in-person audience for a movie made to be seen on a big screen with a big soundsystem. I should look up whether the archival footage even had sound, or if this was a foley fest. It puts together a good heroic narrative, the volcanologist couple turning their studies from gently predictable “red” volcanoes to dangerous “gray” volcanoes, and after authorities ignore warnings in Colombia and thousands die, they make a scare film about those deaths, which convinces people to evacuate next time. Filmmaking saves lives. A slick movie, not as personally troubling as others today, despite all the deaths. Kyren Penrose opened, solo acoustic, and we got beer and pretzels at Broadway afterwards.
Learning about a San Franciscan fave of the Anthology Film Archives and the Visionary Film book I keep at my bedside. I’ve skimmed Broughton’s own filmmaking book Making Light of It, which I bought because of its great title, but my book collection is a shambles and I can’t find it right now.
He hangs out with other poets, including Anais Nin, starts filming with The Potted Psalm, then Mother’s Day is his solo debut. He goes to Europe with his first films and makes The Pleasure Garden in England, which goes to Cannes, where he’s presented an award by his hero (and mine) Jean Cocteau… is offered commercial film work, but turns it down, and doesn’t make another film for 15 years.
Lotta stock footage with talking heads. I respect that the doc tells its own story instead of sticking to strict chronological order, but don’t respect that it motion-graphics one of Broughton’s poems. It spends more time on his love affairs than his post-1960’s work (he had a kid with Pauline Kael, then cheerfully proclaimed homosexuality late in life).
I’d only previously seen his Four in the Afternoon, and the collab with Sidney Peterson – the hope was to watch a bunch more after this doc, but only got to one.
Loony Tom (1951, James Broughton)
Tom will not rest until he has kissed every girl in the countryside. A straightforward randy romp, with piano music and a spoken poem at the top and tail. Broughton’s friend Kermit was quite good at being a silent comedy star.
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.
The lost Rivette movie (besides the early shorts, and the extended version of Va Savoir, and a decent copy of L’Amour Fou) finally pieced together from a couple blu-rays and a youtube source.
Part 1 is Renoir flipping through his career. Extended clips are presented from each film, then an interview segment which may or may not relate to the movie, a different collaborator joining the conversation each time there’s a break. I should read a book on Renoir because now after listening to him shit on fine art for 90 minutes I’m curious about the influence of his fine-artist father.
“The word artistic was our enemy – we hated it.”
“I’m starting to think now that the main theme of a film isn’t terribly important.”
Very quotable movie, Renoir and the others dropping gold for hours.
“One of the ways of fighting against modern boredom is art … a work of art is not made to be looked at, it’s made to permeate living people, people in the street … that goes against all current practice, which is to create a monument, a sound-and-light spectacle.”
Part 2 opens with a montage of Michel Simon performances in Renoir movies, then Simon joins for an extremely casual cafe chat. At one point the film runs out and audio keeps recording while they change the reels.
Part 3 visits the chateau where Rules of the Game was filmed, Renoir and Marcel Dalio discussing the evolution of that film. They show the shot with Dalio beaming in front of the mechanical music machine, twice – Renoir says it’s the best shot of his career, and I’d agree. Besides the chateau, we spend most of our time in a screening room. Conversation turns from fate to revolutions, and we see extended scenes from La Marseillaise. They even discuss Le petit théâtre, which if release dates are to be believed, wasn’t even nearly out yet. Very little on the 1940’s and 50’s films – I would’ve gladly watched a couple more episodes.