There is nothing like wordless low-light cave exploration video to put me to sleep, so despite the 93 minute runtime this took a few attempts.

It’s certainly Frammartino-ish, re-enacting a 1961 spelunking expedition but without any explanatory dialogue, and giving equal weight to the kids playing ball and the solitary death of a shepherd on the surface. Lovely ending, the last explorer in camp drawing a map of the cave hears ghost echoes of the dead old man calling his animals as the fog rolls in.

Loner sailor Farrel takes shore leave when his gigantic ship docks in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and sets off to look for his mom. He catches a ride to his family’s town, drinking heavily, passes out in a shed and is carried to the family home, where his dad berates him. Mom is alive but far gone, doesn’t recognize him. He gives a younger girl (Scope says this is his abandoned daughter, not a little sister like I’d thought) some money and a souvenir trinket, then “I’m off,” but the movie stays with the girl. Minor evolution from the laboring guy in La Libertad to the journeying (and daughter-seeking) guy in Los Muertos, but it barely can predict the new textures of the (journeying, daughter-seeking) Jauja (and I haven’t caught up with the movie theater-set Fantasma).

Alonso in Cinema Scope 36:

Liverpool is the result of throwing the ingredients of Fantasma into La Libertad and Los Muertos … I think that simply filming someone is the best way to demonstrate what I think about the human being – about his lack of communication, his isolation, and his incomprehension about himself and the world … I’m very interested in describing characters’ environments. I think that these environments may even be more important than the characters themselves.

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.

Only 70ish minutes (watchable on the plane), but Slow Cinema, with no dialogue for 15 until a red jacketed woman notices Oro hasn’t picked up his lunchbox. Oroslan is discovered dead at home. Later, his brother tells the story of the discovery scene we just saw. Finally, neighbors tell happy Oroslan memories for ten minutes, fulfilling the official description (“re-creating his image through their tales”) but this is too little too late. Another quizzical Locarno feature.

I watched this and Days within 24 hours. Is this what existentialism is? Will someone explain what it is?

Guy in a Mets hat walks outside, has a shit, sets to wrecking some nice trees with axe and chainsaw and shovel. He borrows a truck, sells the wood for under 30 pesos then spends 10 on gas and cigs. Was Makala a remake of this? Instead of dancing in a prayer tent at the end, he cooks and eats an armadillo. Still, there was more dance music than I expected from a one-person manual-labor movie set in the woods.

Gofundme to get Misael some gloves:

Watching the Alonso movies out of order, but it’s easy to see the progression, and I like the direction he’s going – anticipating the eventual followup to Jauja. I don’t have the original Cinema Scope cover story handy, so it’s worth reading V. Rizov’s letterboxd writeup for context on this movie’s groundbreaking status for doc/fiction hybrids and fest-style slow cinema.

Lee is taking it easy, getting treatments for a bad back, which includes having Anong give him a happy-ending massage in a hotel room. Anong seems touched by the gift of a music box, the two grab a meal together. Even less happens in 2+ hours than in Tsai’s Walker shorts.

I’d been counting shots but lost track when I had to pause for a meal – surely fewer than 100 total. Shot #9 was food prep, not a great camera setup but I learned a new method of shredding green papayas. Shot #20 the camera moves through an alley!

Cinema Scope’s pick for movie of the year. Blake Williams’s writeup ties it to Tsai’s earliest films with Lee, which I still haven’t watched, so I’m lacking some context, but I still don’t think I’m in the headspace where a movie this meditative is gonna be a high favorite.

I’d just rewatched Walker with Katy, hoping she’d want to go on a multi-part Walker journey before graduating to Stray Dogs, but nope that was quite enough for her, so I watched this recently-surfaced movie alone.

The walker is slower than ever, an even more hardcore viewing experience than the first movie.

Lovely urban digital photography.

Suddenly we are nude bathing with Miike (and Nightmare Detective) actor Masanobu Andô!