I’ve been meaning to watch Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth for 6+ years now, so instead of finally doing that, I immediately hopped on his new thing, a period piece with two actors I like getting into hijinks. But I guess you’re not supposed to know about their hijinks – the blurb gives it away, but if you came in cold, one late-movie Anne Hathaway line could’ve been the craziest surprise in any movie all year. Far less surprising (and also given away by the promo materials, this time the poster) is that Thomasin McKenzie will eventually wield the gun she confiscated from her drunk ex-cop dad. The grainy look, winter Massachusetts light and 1960’s sweaters are all fab, as is Thomasin’s excitement by the hot new prison psychologist, who alternately seems too good for her job and very, very bad at her job (the woman Anne kidnaps is Marin Ireland, the missing girl’s mom in The Empty Man). The movie’s also full of ugly sordid details, making sure nobody who watches it will remain unharmed.
Two movies really, with full credits for each part. Not much here to gaze upon, and my copy looked like streaming mush; it’s all narrative. Chapters give different characters and perspectives (I like how their titles are tied together with song lyrics) as the missing Laura is tracked by her more arrogant boyfriend Rafael and her secret boyfriend Ezequiel (Ez’s job in the movie is to not follow what people are saying so everything has to be repeated). Ez had been helping Laura with her private project, following a love story through letters hidden in books donated to the library, but he doesn’t know about her second mystery, getting involved with scientist Elisa Carricajo who’s hiding a lake beast at her house. The music at the end of part one gets sci-fi in anticipation of this section. At the end of part two the picture goes widescreen as Laura disappears – having followed two great mysteries, she becomes one herself. Cast and crew are all returning from La Flor, and I hope they keep making these wheel-spinning mixed-genre movies.
A sort-of decade-later follow-up to the director and star’s Ostende. Citarella in Cinema Scope:
By trying to make a film in similar terms to Ostende, something else happened: a mutant film appeared, a plural idea of cinema. I like that Trenque Lauquen can’t be classified, that you can’t say the film is going this way or that way, or even that the film is this or that. It’s always trying to outrun this idea of being classified – it’s like the experience of reading a novel that takes a rhizomatic approach to storytelling, where each chapter proposes something new and mysterious. For me, the difference between the two films is that in Ostende, Laura is someone who wants to have a lot of lives – to live in fiction – but ultimately decides to go back to her normal life with her boyfriend. In Trenque Lauquen, Laura lives all those possibilities, and finally gets lost.
Trenque Lauquen (2023, Laura Citarella & Mariano Llinás)
During the Trenque Lauquen city premiere of the Trenque Lauquen double-feature, Citarella sits alone at a cafe across from the theater, the sounds of the film overlaying the town, noting walkouts (one) and people arriving to watch Barbie. Good to see Ezequiel in the crowd, I dunno why Paredes and Carricajo are backstage wearing fake mustaches. This was part of a Film Fest Gent online shorts collection pairing directors with composers, so I suppose the music in here by Eiko Ishibashi (Drive My Car, Drag City) isn’t from the feature film.
So many funny things about the opening violence montage, from the extremely Monty Python-reminiscent beheadings to how Bresson, who cares so very much about performance style, cares less about blood-spurt mechanics. Text crawl says the rest of the action takes place after fruitless years of searching for the holy grail. The king misses all his dead knights… his nephew Gawain is restless… everyone hates Mordred… and Lancelot is busy having an affair with the queen. At a jousting tournament L fights his own guys and everyone gets hurt – Bresson ignores the knights and films their horses. Lancelot is missing presumed dead after the tournament until he returns and kills Gawain and steals the queen (then returns her). Mordred has had enough and takes the castle, King and L fight together, everyone dies.
Short and swift with excellent color (on my copy, at least). I can’t find who was just saying it’s one of the all-time most annoying movies to overhear from another room (clank, clank). The only actor who’s been in other films is Lionel: Humbert Balsan, who got picked up by Rivette, Brisseau, Pialat, and Sam Fuller.
According to Michel Estève, neither the tents nor the Round Table nor the chess game nor the wooden tub in which Guenièvre bathes belongs to the period, all of them constituting conscious anachronisms on Bresson’s part. This is a distinctly modern Lancelot, in striking contrast to the relatively “medieval” atmosphere of Bresson’s last two films, both set in contemporary Paris, where the gentle creature in Une Femme Douce often suggested a lonely maiden in a tower waiting to be rescued, and the dreamer in Four Nights of a Dreamer resembled a wandering knight in search of a pure love that was equally hopeless. The sense of elongated durations and passing seasons that we associate with the romances of Chrétien de Troyes is more evident in Balthazar, or even in John Ford’s The Searchers, than in the tightly compressed episodes of Lancelot, where action and event is all.
Incredible opening, David Thewlis having abusive sex with some woman, she threatens him, he immediately steals a car and skips town. He’s off to visit his ex Louise (Lesley Sharp of The Full Monty) but she’s at work, her roomie Sophie (Mike Leigh regular Katrin Cartlidge) lets him in, hilarious, doesn’t move her mouth when she talks. When Louise does get home he’s awfully rude to her for having a job and being boring, then he fucks Sophie who gets clingy so he becomes increasingly violent and horrible to her.
Sophie and Louise:
This shot is a bit much:
Jeremy/Sebastian is a yuppie powerguy, possibly the two girls’ landlord, who shows up at their flat and terrorizes them, shortly after “Johnny” Thewlis has gone on walkabout in the city. Johnny hangs out with incredibly daft Scot Ewen “Spud” Bremner, quietly destroys security guard Peter Wight with philosophy, then pays a visit to Brian’s drunken dream girl. He follows a diner waitress home (Gina McKee of In The Loop, I think), quiet and nervous (and also drunk), who freaks and kicks him out in the cold, where he gets his ass kicked by a concert promoter and some random youths. Johnny comes home to the girls, rejects Sophie even in his decrepit state, takes some cash and runs. As a study of character and place/time it’s perfect and self-contained, but I still checked out the audio commentary… turned it off when Leigh explained that “pulling pints means working at a pub.”
Blowing Brian’s mind:
With Spud… eh???
Indie-stilted drama with amazing music. A world of screens with Superjail pencil tests on every one of them. Suicidal Star bonds with counselor An. He passes his citizenship test.
Per Adam Nayman in Cinema Scope, “These characters feel unique to Canadian cinema, contemporary, micro-budget, or otherwise, and the actors inhabit them to the point where they don’t really seem to be acting at all … the slightly surrealist weave of images is heightened by the tour-de-force soundscaping of Andreas Mandritzki, who interlaces Autechre-ish electronica with musique concrete and stylized foley work.”
With my shorts and with Werewolf I was really inspired by my environment, its working-class history and textures. The logical representation of that was a social-realist film made in a verité style. That style fit my other movies well, and made a lot of practical sense too, but I did start to feel like it was limiting the way I thought about crafting characters, building scenes, and writing dialogue. Then Star and An started to emerge as complex, vibrant, and talkative creatures, and naturalism couldn’t contain them: their creative ways of conceptualizing and expressing themselves necessitated that I find new ways to engage. The entire movie is a sort of experiment in burrowing into their brains and vibing on their frequency.
I’d had this confused with Kentucky Fried Movie all along. It’s not so bad, a sketch comedy anthology. Came out September 1987, so that must have been around when my family took the Universal Studios tour – I remember this was being advertised but I wasn’t old enough to see it.
– Arsenio gets attacked by everything in his apartment, finally falling to his death out the window
– fake Penthouse video
– Murray’s remote sucks him into the TV, wife Selma keeps changing the channel
– Michelle Pfeiffer had a baby, Idiot Doctor Griffin Dunne lost it
– fake hair loss ad
– titular fake 1955 moon landing movie
– BB King fake ad about black men born without soul
– Rosanna Arquette runs a credit and ID check on blind date Steve Guttenberg
– Henry Silva hosts “Bullshit or Not”, investigating if the Loch Ness Monster was Jack the Ripper
– Bruce McCulloch-esque Archie Hahn is watching TV when the movie critics start reviewing him
– titular moon landing movie pt 2
– fake ad for edible silly putty
– Bruce gets roasted at his funeral by an all-star comedian slate, his wife is the closing act
– David Alan Grier is the black guy without soul, part 2
– video pirates discover booty of gold vhs tapes (including The Other Side of the Wind)
– Ed Begley Jr. is Son of Invisible Man, not actually invisible, his assistant Trent doing damage control
– Amazon Women pt 3
– ad: John Ingle hosting an out-of-business sale for a national art museum
– ad: Henry Silva pt 2: sinking of the titanic
– ad for a novel about a sexy white house first lady
– meek teen Matt Adler buying condoms for hotgirl Kelly Preston, pharmacist is his family friend
– Amazon women pt 4, cutting back to the movie having missed important plot developments, a good joke reused in Grindhouse
– Dave McFly gets custom tape from video store of hotgirl sherrie making love to him, her husband frankie comes home waving a gun around, kills her and himself, McFly is arrested
– Grier has no soul pt. 3: okay we get it
– 1950s teen scare film: Iowan Carrie Fisher goes to NYC, passed around by talent scout, gets married, goes to Dr. Paul Bartel because she caught a social disease
– closes with an ad for the Universal Studios tour, coming back around.
Pairs well with Mad Fate – another potentially insane lead character, this time Lau Ching-wan, playing another Mad Detective. He’s now an ex-detective, living on the street but still solving crimes, pissed at the employed cop (Raymond Lam of P Storm) botching the cases, drawing interest from pregnant cop Charlene Choi (The Goldfinger). Things get convoluted as a young group called The Sleuths – Lau’s daughter and the children of crime victims and the wrongly-accused – uses Lau’s research for a revenge campaign, killing off criminals. Some traitor sleuth cops are pulling the strings, getting cops and sleuths killed. After a covid-delayed open, this got nominated for every HK award, so hopefully we’ll get a sequel.
Created with some usual collaborators, and some unusual (James Signorelli, director of the second episode, also made Elvira, Mistress of the Dark). Scenes set in the same hotel room across eras, an excuse to rifle through the rolodex of interesting actors.
1969: Harry Dean Stanton and his girl Darlene (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) check in, are visited unexpectedly by beardy Lou (Dune). Some kinda twisted psychological game ensues, I think Harry gets conned by Lou, then arrested for the murder of his wife (not Darlene, she’s ok). Written by Barry “Lost Highway” Gifford, but the only thing usually marking this as Lynchian is the Badalamenti music.
1992: Deborah Unger (The Game) has her girls over (Mariska Hargitay of Lake Placid, Chelsea Field of Dust Devil), is gonna confront her man and ask for a commitment. Griffin Dunne arrives but instead of committing, he dumps her, and Unger bonks him pretty hard on the head. Written by Jay “Bright Lights Big City” McInerney.
1936: More spectral than the others, Oklahoma couple Crispin Glover and Alicia Witt (Dune, Cecil B. Demented), conversing very slowly in a blackout. “I saw you on the other side… but it wasn’t you.” They’re in the city so she can see a doctor. She can sorta remember that they had a child who died Don’t Look Now-style, but she remembers a neighbor getting run over really clearly, and Glover follows with a story of a navy buddy who died. After a phone call, the room and the wife become enlightened.