My first Plazadrome movie! Very sorry that it’s taken so long, but this was fun. Apparently a teen-energy youth-in-revolt movie where striking-looking high-energy kids take the city by storm, but it’s got more serious problems on its mind and finally everyone ends up dead or missing. I only knew Fruit Chan from Dumplings, though we considered a screening of Three Husbands while we were visiting HK.
After watching three Kossakovsky features, I love when he applies grand visual ideas to ordinary topics, so it’s disappointing that this one looks like an unrestored Sokurov video in brownscale SD.
Enjoyed the two minutes of hedgehog-related drama, not the half hour of a family arguing at the dinner table. Nice pre-Gunda spotlight on farm animals, some sweet long takes, some good rants. A Tarr-worthy final shot justifies the effort – the wife listens to tapes, laughing, crying, then dancing, the camera getting up and dancing with her, her belligerent brother passed out in a corner of the room having fallen on his head from the table.
“Abracadabra. Potatoes, dig yourselves up!”
Hedgehog being protected from very upset dog:
Couple of juvenile delinquents, looking like the French Keanu Reeves and Natalie Portman (she’s Virginie Ledoyen of The Beach) are caught stealing Deep Purple records with great close handheld camera. Gilles buys dynamite after getting kicked out of class and clashing with his parents. Creedence “Up Around the Bend” plays at a fire dance party, “Me and Bobby McGee” plays in a concrete bunker, later we hear a Nico song from The Inner Scar. This is somehow my second movie in a row where a French person gets stabbed with scissors. The couple flees together into the country looking for a place that might not exist. He wakes up with the girl gone and finds a note we don’t get to read. Good movie, full of youth and fire, though not as good as the Jesus Lizard song.
Miller has made an interesting movie out of typical prestige drama material by not shooting this in a typically prestige-drama manner. It looks Little Shop sound-stagey, with big cartoon Lost Children close-ups and boss scene transitions.
DC family’s beloved son starts having violent outbursts, they’re told it’s a fatal degenerative brain disease with no treatment, so the dad goes from support groups to library research to medical conferences to hiring labs to make custom experimental drugs, earning his son twenty extra years of life through the resulting treatments. Intro scene in East Africa pays off when they invite L’s protective buddy Omouri to help out towards the end (Nolte balks: “We can not bring an African to this racist country”).
All the nominations went to Sarandon and the writers, but all the awards went to Emma Thompson and The Crying Game. No noms for Nolte, who can’t do much to elevate the movie while saddled with an Italian accent.
Good movie, from the shockingly great opening synth theme song on.
Works fine as a hangout film of Johnnie regulars, and there are plenty of shots like this:
Assassination attempts go badly, double-crosses and twists, but it never feels plotty. The guys I didn’t recognize were Francis Ng (Exiled) and Jackie Lui Chung-Yin (horrors Snake Charmer and Wife From Hell).
I noted at the beginning that author/narrator Donald Richie’s comment on “the people the Japanese ought to be” sounded patronizing, but I’m also vaguely aware that Richie devoted his life to Japanese culture, so I dismissed it, and appreciated the rest of this hourlong movie as the sort of outsider travelogue that Chris Marker used to make. The mountain/island scenery is wonderful – I kept watching out for the Naked Island. Unexpected inclusions: a monk who likes Sinatra, a reference to Council Bluffs. “I wish to celebrate our differences for as long as possible.” Watched with Katy (who did not get over the patronizing thing and is now anti-Richie) from the Sundance ’92 collection – this played alongside A Brief History of Time and Reservoir Dogs and twenty others I used to see every week at the video store that didn’t look appealing enough to rent, all now available for instant streaming, not quite looking appealing enough to watch.
Unconscious London Strata (1982)
Defocused colory blorbs. Some nice reds in there. Tiny flickers of what might be a street scene (London?), or water, or a person, but mostly it’s very defocused, the image scrambling back and forth, cutting to a new blorb every couple seconds. SB says he’s exploring the depths of the unconscious here. I played the first four tracks of Mary Lattimore’s Collected Pieces II and it was extremely peaceful.
Boulder Blues and Pearls and… (1992)
This is my kind of stuff. Boulders and streams and such, overlaid with frantic single-frame paintings that turn on and off, get more and less intense, all picture frequently fading to black. Good music, a light spazzy buzzing. SB says he’s showing the inside of the mind, and viewers say this one’s frightening, but I dunno.
The Mammals of Victoria (1994)
Brakhage goes on a beach vacation, sometimes patiently watching the tide come in, sometimes darting like a fish through the shallows. Shooting from every possible angle, of course, and mixing in hand painted sections, and what looks like shots from a microscope – even scrambled pay-per-view shot off the hotel TV. All kinds of lighting and composition and movement, the green film grain sometimes clashing with the waves, brief shots of fire and sky for contrast. A really beautiful movie, I watched with Mary Lattimore’s “A Unicorn Catches A Falling Star In Heaven” and “What the Living Do” (I’d reverse their order next time).
From: First Hymn to the Night – Novalis (1994)
Wow, a hyperactive flicker of colors and patterns with poetry in between, the handwritten text not limited to opening and closing titles anymore. Words by Novalis, a “late 18th century mystic poet.” Watched with Mary’s “Princess Nicotine,” which was written to score a different silent film, but it’s a minute too long.
Finally getting to Dumont’s debut. Parts of this movie about a dimwit boy in a nowhere town look familiar from Lil Quinquin – a yard where they fix up their car even looks like a location from that movie, and there’s a character named Quinquin. But this was before Dumont had learned to be funny or unpredictable, from his punishing slow art cinema days. Maybe the crappy marching band was supposed to provide levity, but in the end it’s simply no fun to watch a crappy marching band. This doesn’t give me much hope for L’Humanité – I’m guessing that’s as misleading a title as this one, which follows a kid who Dumont wants to portray as a sensitive soul, with his epilepsy and pet finch and cute girlfriend. But the kid’s also a horrible racist, and finally catches the Arab guy he’d seen hanging around with his girl, and uses his head as a soccer ball. The non-pro actors in this stayed non-pro. I was surprised to recognize the finch-song contest from Arabian Nights.
Nicholas Elliott for Criterion:
Rather than a description of the film’s contents, the title is an unusually active element of the viewing experience, a riddle that prompts the viewer to see beyond the low horizons of Freddy’s existence and imagine how the spiritual might be reintroduced into this context. In the trickiest of ways, Dumont titles the film to prime us to look for good where there is evil. Yet he does not ask us to like Freddy, only to accept that he exists…
Think I like this more now than I did when it came out. It was Phantom Menace Spring, and I wasn’t sure I enjoyed big-budget sci-fi spectacle anymore. Now I’m older and stupider, with fewer pretensions and hang-ups, and prefer a good flashy story over nonsense like this.
Opening noir scene is great. The Matrix 4 trailer is pounding white rabbit references into our heads, and I see those were present from the beginning. Neo’s side gig is selling $2k minidiscs to cyberpunks, and in straight life he’s Thomas Anderson… Thom Andersen… is that anything? It’s a verbose movie, and there’s a religious feel to the dialogue after he meets Trinity at a White Zombie nightclub. Forgot that it’s AI tech using humans as batteries, not aliens. The reflections in this are so good – in glasses, doorknobs, etc.
We know the five leads (Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, Agent Smith, and turncoat Joe Pantoliano), who else was on the team? The main guy in the ship is Tank: Marcus “son of Tommy” Chong, of a Mario Van Peebles movie. His brother Dozer (killed with a cheesy energy weapon) is Anthony Ray Parker, of Dead Air, a movie about a radio DJ on the air during a zombie invasion, from the year after Pontypool. Very blonde badass Switch was Belinda McClory. Apoc, I dunno who he is, I’m just upset it wasn’t spelled Epoch. Matt “Mouse” Doran died almost immediately but has the most impressive filmography, in a Lucas and a Malick, also a gangster Macbeth. The Oracle was Gloria Foster, who did respectable work throughout the 60’s. And Keanu’s stunt double went on to direct John Wick.