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.
Enid is a film censor (Niamh Algar, also of a Barry Keoghan drug dealer drama) with a set of strict rules, applying an even-handed scientific process to the banning of video nasties, then finding her life becoming one. It gets there gradually – the first death is almost an hour into the 83-minute movie. Hazy slow-mo traumatic flashbacks are not so good, the rest is fine, especially when a sleazy Michael Smiley shows up (she impales him on one of his own film awards). She ends up on a film set which is all a dream conspiracy. Didn’t totally work for me, but I appreciate postmodern takes on the schlocky horror movies more than people who revere the originals seem to.
A journey through Japanese cinema and political history by the wacky House dude should’ve been very fun. I liked the stock characters (the romantic, the nerd, the tough guy, and the girl) and the Sherlock Jr. screen-hopping concept, but would describe most events, the onscreen text, compositing and editing all as “annoying.” Movie is a history lesson but it’s… no there’s no but, it’s just a lesson.
Some sharp comic-book images. Trips through silents and animation, the lo-fi greenscreen of late Ken Russell, poems between scenes. Lot of time spent in wars and discussing the atom bomb. After intermission, the Tough Guy spends some time failing to rescue a prostitute. He is Takahito Hosoyamada of All About Lily Chou-Chou… romantic lead Mario is Takuro Atsuki of another Obayashi, film history expert Shoue is Yoshihiko Hosoda of Detroit Metal City, all chasing young newcomer Noriko around. I lost track of characters, but superstar Tadanobu Asano was in there somewhere, and Riko Narumi (the unblind girl in Yakuza Apocalypse) and Hirona Yamazaki of As The Gods Will and Lesson of Evil. Fanta G (Yukihiro Takahashi of Norwegian Wood) is the guy in the spaceship, but I dunno about Kinema G (older guy inside the movies with the kids) since sites are using different character names than my subtitles did.
Omniscient space traveler Fanta G:
L-R: tough guy, nerd, romantic
Evan Morgan in Mubi:
And like Godard’s magnum opus [Histoire(s) du cinéma], Labyrinth of Cinema is haunted by the possibility that — if only things had been different, if only the movies had been more true — cinema might have altered the course of the 20th century, might have thwarted its greatest horrors. That it ultimately failed to do so is, for Godard, a source of deep sorrow — shame, even. And, like a spurned prophet, he retreated into monasticism, fled to his little tower on the shores of Lake Geneva from whence he issues the occasional gnomic utterance, if only to remind us that the world remains irreparably fallen. Obayashi, on the other hand, earnestly believes — as he himself tells us — that “a movie can change the future, if not the past.” Labyrinth of Cinema may be composed of bitter, inalterable histories, but it exists to shape an undetermined tomorrow.
He is Sangwon, she is Youngshil, meeting by chance after years. They are young and stupid, and bad at sex – even more pathetic than the characters in Woman is the Future of Man – get drunk and hook up and decide to die together. But she awakens and calls for help, and rescued Sangwon fights bitterly with his family.
Sangwon (right) with his brother:
Dongsoo is attending a retrospective of a sick/dying filmmaker, a former classmate. He stalks an actress, Youngshil – they get drunk and hook up and consider dying together. “I’m too fond of drinking. Life is too tough.” Aha, I’d been wondering why the first 45 minutes of Tale of Cinema contained no cinema, but it was meant to be the dying filmmaker’s short film – Dongsoo claims his own life story was stolen for the script (very believable – both guys are flaky and awkward and smitten with Youngsil). Good ending. Michael Sicinski:
When Dongsoo admits to Youngshil that he believes that their old director friend “stole” his life to make the movie they just saw, he is admitting that he lives in his own head, in his own internal tale of cinema. This is why, at the end of the film, Youngshil’s final line to him – “You didn’t really understand that movie” – is so withering. Dongsoo quite literally does not understand the ‘movie’ of which he is the star, that is, his own life.
Dongsoo & Youngshil:
Incredibly, I don’t know any of the three leads from the other twelve Hong movies I’ve seen. She’s from Like You Know It All, the first guy was in Woman on the Beach, and second male lead is from Memories of Murder.
“It simply boggles one with disbelief.” I get this movie somewhat confused with Serial Mom, but we’ve got Dan Hedaya here, and Wayne Knight, and That 70’s Dad, so we’re gonna be okay. Nicole Kidman is desperate to get onto TV, and unhappily married to Matt Dillon, so she hires the creep dirtbag youths she’s filming for an aimless documentary to bump off Dillon (the movie’s full of fake-doc material, but all the non-doc stuff looks terrific). Dillon’s family then hires David Cronenberg to murder Kidman – it’s up there with Last Night in the great DC performances (still need to see Clifton Hill).
All the thrash metal in this was unexpected. Van Sant always had an eye for the talented boys – he launched Joaquin “Leaf” Phoenix here, and Casey Affleck (and therefore Matt & Ben), and even better was Alison Folland, who went on to everyone favorite movie about intolerant Nebraskans, Boys Don’t Cry. The only movie Buck Henry wrote in the 90’s. It’s somewhat fun to watch the dummies do crime and get caught, but I started to turn on the movie, seeing successful filmmakers and actors punching down at suburbanites and their petty dreams.
A long doc, broken into chapters with Guy Maddin collage art in between. Begins in-depth on the unholy trilogy of Wicker Man, Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan’s Claw. Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale comes up, and I should really watch more of those, even though I disliked the first. Penda’s Fen looks cool, Rawhead Rex as cheesy as I remember it. The 1980’s films attacking heritage: The Company of Wolves, Lair of the White Worm. Paganism and witchcraft, sure. America gets a chapter, featuring Christian cults, and the “Indian burial ground” obsession (colonizers fearing being colonized, having their own homes taken away). Fear of poor people (Deliverance), racist voodoo movies, then positive shouts to Candyman and Ganja & Hess. The Fool Killer sounds cool, both as a movie and a profession. Into the global folk horror chapter, the doc started to feel long – I tuned out during Brazil and Germany, but should prioritize watching The Juniper Tree, maybe a double-feature when the next Robert Eggers film comes out. Also got my second Jacques Derrida reference this SHOCKtober.
This is still the movie I remember from 20-some years ago (filmmaker J-P Leaud is remaking Les Vampires, Maggie Cheung is adrift between crew members, they both get too into their own madness), but I remember it being really excellent, and as the years go by, you forget the specific characteristics that made it so excellent, so it’s nice to rewatch and re-experience that. Every scene is good, but I took no notes, got no screenshots, so let’s watch it again sometime. Fun that Leaud cast Cheung based on Heroic Trio, which they watch together on DVD, and I just watched last month.
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.