One-Tenth of a Millimeter Apart (2021, Wong Kar-wai)

Making a Wong film out of outtakes fom other Wong films. It’s a cute idea – pushes its egg-metaphor too much, but gives us some scenes that I honestly can’t recall if/how they existed in the source features since I don’t watch his movies often enough.

Wandering (2021, Tsai Ming-liang)

A woman walks through Tsai’s installation, watching a scene from each of the eight Walker films, alone except when the director appears at the end, transfixed by his own footage of Lee in a bath. A nice introduction and/or culmination to the slow monk project, with some new-to-me scenes, including a non-Lee monk in a white void.

Redemption (2013, Miguel Gomes)

Four sections of archive footage illustrating narrated letters from the past. The end credits is where things get exciting, revealing the narrators and the letter writers (Maren Ade reading Angela Merkel!) then immediately revealing that all the letters were made-up. Per Vadim Rizov in Filmmaker, the letters are by “some of contemporary Europe’s least-liked leaders,” and the end result “a sympathetic but also fundamentally facile experiment.”

Dead Flash (2021, Bertrand Mandico)

A scrapbook for Mandico completists – rushes and backgrounds with a mood-music mixtape. Extended shots of a multiple-stabbed dude, a double-dicked light-up crystal statue, the usual. Then the second half is ape-people as model and photographer (both played by Elina Löwensohn) in split screen with dialogue (“I want you to magnify this dirty memory”).

Fellow Mandico completist Gianni helps spot the source films on lboxd:

Outtakes from previous shorts (Extazus, Niemand, A Rebours and HuyswomansHuyswomans is reproposed integrally) plus a brand-new short film about two anthropomorphic monkeys … the outtakes of Extazus have been released separately in a dvd box-set – Ultra Pulpe et autre chairs – with the title of A Black Sunset Upon a Violet Desert.

bonus shorts from Criterion Channel:

Dream City (1983, Ulysses Jenkins)

Music and theater performances and other assorted stuff, mixed together with muddy sound recording and early video chroma effects.

Black Journal: Alice Coltrane (1970, Stan Lathan)

Short, effective doc portrait on Alice at home and playing music. Beyond a few photographs previously seen, this is now everything I know about Alice.

And we got access to that animation streaming site that I already forgot the name of, and watched two of this year’s oscar-nominated shorts that I already forgot the name of.

Romancing in Thin Air / Blind Detective star Sammi Cheng was married to a rich guy for only a week when he died suddenly. Now she’s living in his giant house, to the chagrin of his surviving family and his loyal ex. Sammi can also see ghosts, specifically Mad Detective Ken, who keeps hanging around. Sammi’s sister-in-law (Tina the Throw Down girl) tries hooking her up with Lok from Election, and Sammi’s dad Lam Suet tries buying the ghost a wife to make him go away. A bit of zaniness, also the most emotional movie I’ve seen this year.

Another unique Dupieux movie – this one’s light and focus is weird, smeary at the edges and backgrounds, with Wendy Carlos-ish music not by Mr Oizo. Gondry actor Alain Chabat and Léa Drucker of In My Skin have bought a new house that has a hole in the basement that makes you lose 12 hours but emerge 3 days younger. His boss (Pacifiction star Benoît Magimel) comes over for dinner with wife Anaïs Demoustier (Bird People), wants them to be impressed by his new electric penis. The penis malfunctions and catches fire, and Drucker becomes younger but full of insects.

Been many years since I watched this. Opens with self-narrated character sketch, then goes into a long dream sequence. Professor Victor Sjöström torments the housekeeper, is taking the car to receive an honorary degree this evening. He walks into scenes from his past, remembers events he never witnessed, picks up a girl named Sara who looks a lot like the Sara he loved who married his brother.

As Dave Kehr puts it: “An aging professor making a long journey by car takes the opportunity to rummage through his past, wondering for the first time what kind of man he was.” The prof’s unfeeling son is of course Gunnar “Winter Light” Björnstrand, the son’s wife Ingrid Thulin, and all Saras are Bibi Andersson.

I am sorry that I’m so far behind on the movie blog…
I do intend to write more thoughtful and researched posts,
but in order to catch up, I’ve got to deal with the last two months of movies
and sometimes my notes just say:

Mabel is bank worker with wacky monitor colors
Nancy is Broderick’s wife?
Ruffalo halfway between Odenkirk in the donut shop and Doug from The State
Bob asks her to marry
Rod/Ron comes from the church to talk to Ruffalo
Rudy Sr drops charges

Crazy low-light texture, the picture swimming in so much grain that you can’t tell if things in the rooms are moving or not. Perverse framing from angles that rarely show the characters. Doors and windows appear and disappear, leaving blank walls with a humming sound. Mention of the boy having fallen down the stairs while sleepwalking, back now from the hospital, though we don’t see any of this. He takes a break from watching public domain cartoons (The Cobweb Hotel) to visit the master bedroom, where dad is blairwitching and vanishing like the windows, replaced by mom. Most dialogue is whispered, and the jump scares are bad. A distant doom voice orders Kevin to sleep. Scene in a cartoon where a character disappears plays on loop to demonstrate a point before a toy in the room also disappears.

Movie itself isn’t scary, but it productively made me remember actual nightmares I had as a kid… the sense of being in a dark house with strange light where time and space can’t be trusted. It rules that this barely-narrative experimental nightmare was in theaters for a month.

Reverse Shot:

The dread that pulses through the film’s empty spaces soon gives way to a permeating melancholy, as it becomes clearer just how helpless Kevin and Kaylee are within their own home. Toys and cartoons, at first objects of childish comfort, begin to be manipulated by the malevolent force within the house, reminders of the fear induced by pseudo-parental control. Time in the house becomes deliberately indefinite to create a perpetual night, a horrific extension of Kevin and Kaylee’s daily reality.

Social awkwardness cinema, mocking fashion brands in the intro, not funny yet. Carl (Beach Rats) and Yaya (Death Race 3) fight over money (he says he wants her to pay, to defy gender roles). The same couple on a cruise, Carl reports the crew member she ogles for being shirtless on duty, the ship’s captain hiding in his room. The movie finally comes alive in the storm, as everyone vomits and Captain Woody Harrelson takes the all-call mic to tell them they should pay their taxes. Postscript on an island where they all wash up, service worker Abigail declaring herself captain since she’s the only one there with any practical skills.

Precisely framed, not very interesting, but a good open ending. Palme d’or winner, and only the third 2022 Cannes competition movie I’ve seen after Decision to Leave and Crimes of the Future – still gotta catch Eo, Pacifiction, RMN, Tori & Lokita, Armageddon Time and Stars at Noon.

After Rotterdance I was in a Rear Vertigo Window Remix mood, and De Palma got me covered. It’s suspense-comedy, with lead guy Jake (Nancy’s sympathetic doctor in Nightmare on Elm Street 3) as the world’s most awkward loser, set up to witness a fake crime. He’s introduced being fired from the movie Vampire’s Kiss since he can’t perform his grave scene due to high anxiety claustrophobia, then going home to catch his wife enthusiastically cheating. He does get to kiss the girl he’s stalking (Deborah Shelton of Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II) after almost chasing down her purse snatcher, but fails to save her life in an absolute mess of a driller-killer murder scene.

Enter Melanie Griffith, too thin to be a porn star. Now an accomplished stalker, Jake starts acting money after his sex scene with Melanie, impresses her with the fancy place where he’s staying, then reveals that he’s familiar enough with her work to have recognized her through the telescope in the staged crime scene. He overcomes his claustrophobia, defeats the murderer, and gets re-cast in Vampire’s Kiss. Really not a great movie but pretty fun. Between Scarface and Wise Guys, De Palma had to get the 1980s out of his system, making a movie that contains a whole Frankie Goes to Hollywood music video.

Rotterdance continues (concludes?) with a Locarno/Rotterdam movie.

Qiu is an apparently dead actor, demons Horsey and Ox come to collect him, we flashback to 1920 and make our way through Q’s life. He gets married in the 1940’s, their adopted daughter dies, their son is sad when his dad is declared a political criminal. Richard Brody: “The movie is filmed as theatrical tableaux, complete with blatantly contrived sets and supernatural fantasy sequences, which virtually shout at viewers not to take the depicted events as literal truth.” In the end it’s another movie about how life under communism was horrible – and it’s a misty, foggy movie, which the streaming video turned into shit soup.