In The Future, political dissidents in the USA are given a choice between long jail sentences or four days at “punishment park”, a desert training ground for law enforcement officials. If they can reach a target before the cops catch them, they’re free… if caught, they go to jail anyway.

Movie has two settings… one group at punishment park, and the tribunal for the next group to be sent… flips back and forth between them. The group in “court” (a tent with card tables) is modeled on Abbie Hoffman and the Chicago Seven, with one member ending up bound and gagged. Someone in the group at the park manages to kill a guard, and after that, it’s vengeance time… the whole group is gunned down as they are caught, with the camera crew first standing by, then trying ineffectively to help.

Punishment Park

Not as interesting as The Gladiators, I think, but a lot more straightforward. Can’t decide if I really liked it. Covers a lot of facets of 60’s radicalism, the straight world’s reaction to it, and the direction the country was going politically. Useful as an alternate-history lesson, maybe.

More likeable than I’d expected. Don’t know why I thought it’d be a boring movie. Maybe just soured on the whole “western” thing after seeing The Wild Bunch and not liking it.

Anyway. Matthew “Willis” McConaughey is an alright thief with his explosives-expert partner, but could use a few more dependable men, so calls in his brothers Skeet “Joe” Ulrich, Ethan “Jess” Hawke, and eventually Vincent “Dock” D’Onofrio. They rob a whole ton of banks successfully, and finally pull off the biggest railroad heist in history, getting away with some millions of dollars and five bullets in Dock, who I couldn’t believe survived it. Eventually all get caught after the railroad job and get off with light sentences and live to a ripe old age.

Newton Boys

Completely fun, convincing movie that just gets better as it goes on. Great court scene, great ending and credits, lovely antiheroes, everything that Ocean’s Twelve wanted to be – a crime movie where the criminals are having such a good time that the audience gets caught up in in too. Don’t know why it’s got such a bad rap on the IMDB (5.7). I’d see it again.

Newton Boys

Not as Altmanesque as I’d first considered… just a lot of easily distinguishable characters in an ensemble piece. Should be easy, but hardly anyone can pull it off.

Dazed and Confused

I was barely two when the seventies ended. Avoided this movie for so long because I thought it was meant only for stoners and/or seventies kids wanting to relive their stoner and/or seventies days. But not having lived through that era myself, I can still tell this is a damned brilliant movie. Captures the high-school experience yes, but captures so MANY experiences, and character types, and so well, it’s almost an unbelievably good movie, one for the ages. Better even than most Linklater movies. I think. Better watch it again before making any sweeping declarations (“best movie of the nineties, better than Dead Man, etc”).

Dazed and Confused

No real point in outlining plot, since story wasn’t the point. No real point in outlining characters… just see it again sometime. Wiley Wiggins was great. Now I feel bad that I’m the last person to see this movie… somehow got it mixed up with Reality Bites or something. Now I wonder if I’d like Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Or Rock and Roll High School.

Dazed and Confused

Troublesome movies because it’s the kind you’d want to watch a second time to fully study and understand BUT it’s got so many long shots of the family, their heads severed by the frame, eating breakfast, washing the car… then it gets so heavy at the end, not especially anxious to see it again soon.

Seventh Continent

Family does boring stuff. One day, little girl at school pretends to be blind. Parents talk it over and even consult with the girl (not on camera). Write their parents a letter of explanation, which is the most dialogue in the whole movie. Cash in their car, empty their bank accounts. Flush all money down toilet. Destroy everything in the house. Kill themselves with pills.

Seventh Continent

Adam Bingham says “the film is optimistic in its refusal to console its audience”. Also “one of the purest modernist texts since the height of Resnais and Antonioni, and perhaps the greatest contemporary contribution to what may be termed “the cinema of existentialism”: the focus on the actions and morality of individuals in a seemingly empty universe found in the work of film-makers like Chantal Akerman, Gaspar Noé and the Krzysztof Kieślowski of Dekalog.”

Overall good article at Kinoeye.org. I see his point that Haneke is, against all appearances, an optimist, and that this is an optimistic movie. I feel not only better about myself, but more determined after watching this movie. Mostly just “determined” to watch more movies, but hey it’s a start.

“My films are the expression of a desire for a better world,” Haneke says. In the same interview, he says he regrets once having called this the “glaciation trilogy” because he wants it to be more complex and not so easily labeled.

Old man living alone having trouble communicating with family. Student into ping pong and gambling. Runaway immigrant kid adopted by local family. News reports on global wars and celebrity scandal. A shooting at a bank. Punctuated by sudden silence and black between scenes.

71

A clear predecessor to Code Unknown, but where I didn’t get C.U. at all, this one at least makes sense. Kind of your Amores Perros cross-sections of people united by an incident of violence, but of course far less obviously scripted. Not a causes-and-effects-of-violence sort of thing. The Haneke quote above makes perfect sense. He’s showing a bunch of familiar events, saying “what is wrong with this picture” and daring us to connect the dots. One of the most immediately easy to understand of his films, but still hard to watch.

Well, I don’t know about that, “hard to watch”. With the long static shots and the lack of narrative structure, I think of them as hard to watch. But then, I compulvisely rent them, and I’d watch Time of the Wolf or Cache again right now or anytime. Not unenjoyable, but not exactly a magic-carpet-ride of entertainment. Need to come up with a new term to describe these. How do you recommend a Haneke movie to someone? Obviously I’m not alone, since the thursday afternoon show of Cache was sold-out in new york, and the video releases have been flying off the shelf here for a month now… he’s a popular guy.

72

Written by a woman named Coleman, who unsurprisingly wrote Full Frontal.

Martha and Kyle work at the doll factory. Big order comes in, Rose is hired. Rose has a baby, an angry ex, a tendency to steal, and a thing for Kyle. They go on a date, Martha watches the kid, then kills Rose when she gets home. Martha is easily caught, Kyle’s mom joins the doll factory part time, life goes on.

Shot on HD: big deal. Released on video same time as theaters: big deal. Non-professional actors: sort of a big deal, cuz it’s a small quiet enough story that some bigtime actor might’ve wrecked it with a “performance”.

But that’s also the problem. Not much performance, except by Martha who’s quite good. Nothing to perform to. Short, nothing of a movie. What’s up, Steven? Why was this story begging to be told? It’s not even his usual style-over-substance since there’s little style. And the Bob Pollard acoustic instrumentals are crappy and out of place (as if Steven wanted us to think he hired only non-professional musicians). Why make this? Why call it Bubble? Bring back The Limey, Kafka and Solaris!

03

I see why reviewers complained that this movie was too long. We learn little about Evelyn Glennie in the way of facts, background, future, profession. There’s little dialogue. There’s little character development! And the director takes that little bit, what very little he has, and stretches it out to 100 minutes, what could have been a 60, or hey, 30 minute featurette. The nerve of that self-important German to make a theatrical feature without enough support!

Actually that’s how I feel about Control Room and The Yes Men… movies that tried to tell a story without enough support. These reviewers would love Touching The Void, to name another creative documentary with a similar title… that one has a long story to tell, full of suspense, and the movie lasts as long as the story. Touch The Sound isn’t narratively driven, and is meant to be enjoyed through sound and vision. If you can’t enjoy such a gorgeous movie as this, why are you watching movies? And if the story has stopped moving forward and you’ve learned all you need to know (“she’s a talented musician who is nearly deaf”), why not leave the theater early? Because you’re a newspaper reviewer being forced to watch this as a job, I guess. My point just being that the reason I don’t let newspaper reviewers determine what movies I see is that they so often seem to be watching movies as a job and not enjoying what they see. A person who can’t appreciate movies as art can write no film criticism that matters.

02

I oughtta be talking about the film though, a perfect-ten picture. Amazing sound, amazing story, unbelievable photography and editing. “Visual poetry”, says the trailer. I could tell it was shot on film, somehow, even watching on DVD. It was “Super 16mm”, whatever that is. He switches to different angles while the soundtrack is constant, notably during the CD recording scenes… multiple cameras, or editing trickery? I was conscious of the movie as a movie, of the making-of, but not distractingly so. Lots of close-ups of waves in lakes, oceans, one exquisite shot of a long white line reflected in a pool when the waves start from one end, rippling along the line, forming “sound waves” to match the audio on the soundtrack. Another moment when Evelyn narrates about people having their own sound, and being able to play different people like an instrument… while Riedelscheimer shoots a sort of ski-lift with people in individual cars crisscrossing on suspended wires… notes on a staff! Clever man. This movie and Rivers And Tides should be watched annually. Hope Thomas doesn’t make too many more movies, or I’ll run out of time to watch anything else.

04

Fred Frith seems like a pretty cool guy, too. I’ll have to see him if he ever plays around here.

01

In the making-of, while they show Thomas completely fabricating shots in the Cologne airport, he says “I think reality exists only in the moment of perception. It’s a live, first-hand experience. One cannot reproduce or film it. It’s a personal experience, which is nontransferable. And I think it’s wrong to say that documentaries are objective. They are as much an expression of a very personal view as any other creative work.” Funny, I was just writing about that two days ago.

Excellent program, sadly underattended. Used to sell out both screenings – what happened?

The Moon and the Son
The Oscar ™ winner for best short in 2006. Might not have belonged in this program, since it’s more than twice as long as any other short here. Guy venting frustration with his Italian ex-mafioso father via animation. I’m not into the whole squid-and-the-whale family bitching scene, but this was pretty good stuff. Faith and Emily Hubley mentioned in the credits, I guess as animators, though Faith died in 2001.

Bubblecraft
Kinda crappy music video to kinda crappy song. Things float by in bubbles, okay.

The Little Matchgirl
Disney cartoon that looks like Disney cartoon but moves… a little too smoothly… something seemed somehow wrong. Sad lil story of girl freezing to death set to some important music piece I forget which.

Man Drawing a Reclining Woman
Stop-motion! Director was there.

Loom
Stop motion… old woman is Death, collects thread from dying street musician’s head after he saves little girl in the street, weaves it in her loom. Director was there, spent four years on it, is angry about Adult Swim.

Dragon
Girl draws horrors from her past at orphanage, director sells drawings for lotta money, girl summons dragon to destroy director. Something about commercializing other people’s artwork… filmmaker must work for a heartless cartoon company that rakes in large profits while paying him beans. Unjust!

The Mantis Parable
I never get parables. The mantis wouldn’t save the caterpillar, but the butterfly saves the mantis, or something.

The Zit
Gross. Cat pops huge zit or something.

Drawing Lessons
Girl can’t sleep, learns to draw Picasso upside down while listening to thrift store tape or something. Director tries to nimbly jump between insomnia and drawing and tape facets of plot but didn’t seem so nimble to me. I don’t always get the point of cartoon shorts… seems like they put too much thought into being fucking nimble and end up with nothing much to say and then you’ve got everyone telling me oooh, The Cathedral is a great little movie and I should see it. Not saying Drawing Lessons is as sluggish as The Cathedral, but both focus so much on technique and nothing else – intended audience seems to be themselves and fellow animators.

The Sandbox
Now this one had something to say, I think. Maybe about the world trade center. Maybe about the tsunami, or about absent parents, or The Future? I didn’t get it… was kinda pretty, though. Kinda.

Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot
Finally a great one. Fumi’s foot is bad luck, and everything crashes into it and hurts her, till she learns to use its extreme bad luck to draw misfortune away from others. Nice closing shot, with Fumi walking through a field, tripping bulldozers and things.

Juxtaposer
By the talented Joanna Davidovich. Girl on bench just wants to get along with cat, I think.

Ichthys
The Cathedral, part 2, wherein guy at restaurant grows old while waiter catches tiny fish for dinner. Great part involving screaming and arms falling off, the rest an exercise in tedium.

Fluid Toons
Fantastic plymptoon & stimpy style badass grungy little bunch of skits with more humor in ’em than everything previous (except Fumi) combined. Voices obviously done after the fact just add to hilarity. Downloadable too! Kinda terrible, but also the one I most wanted to see again. That’ll show all you serious artists.

Chickenheads
More fluid toons, starring a chicken hunting rabbit. Artist in attendance!

The whole point of keeping a film journal is to write about these movies right after I see ’em, to preserve details, remember plot points, since I’m so quick to forget things like that. Moolaade is the kind of movie I feel comfortable waiting three weeks to write about, since I’m not about to forget any of the details. Maybe so memorable since I talked about it with Katy afterward or since we watched it in two parts spanning a week, but I think just cuz it’s a simply told and visually exciting and completely unique and memorable movie on its own.

01

Collé is the middle of three wives, I believe, and has had what we’ll call “the surgery”. Sex is unpleasant, as it should be. Four girls run away from the pre-surgical ceremony and ask her for protection, and she offers it. As long as they stay in her household and she doesn’t utter the phrase to break the spell, nobody can touch these kids. The villagers throw every kind of intimidation at her… husband whips her in public, it is promised that Collé’s daughter (who has also avoided the surgery) will never marry (untrue, as the guy she was promised to marry is a well traveled man, liberated from local superstition), Collé is personally threatened, all women’s radios are stolen and destroyed, and eventually the merchant is murdered. One of the girls is captured and dies in surgery, but Collé saves three, and celebrates with their mothers at the end.

02

All customs and beliefs in town are passed down through the ages with apparently little outside influence until the merchant and Collé’s daughter’s man and the radios start threatening the status quo with talk of modernity and primitive feminism… then the red-cloaked enforcers and village elders start cracking down and insisting on compliance with The Old Ways. It provokes an advancement of human rights, but a loss of (admittedly repressive) tradition and local custom. Funny how in movies, radio is almost always a good thing and television almost always bad.

Great movie – a shock after watching Black Girl first. Don’t know why I thought they’d be stylistically similar (since from the same director) although there’s forty years between them.