Tilda doesn’t even seem unhappy about The Sound, she’s just very interested. On her quest for understanding, everyone she meets – sound engineer Juan Pablo Urrego, archaeologist Jeanne Balibar, fish scaler Elkin Díaz – is open to her about their work, inviting her to sit down with them and participate. It feels utopian about human connection before we even reach the final stretch, then Elkin’s death and resurrection reaches Tsai-like duration, and the alien time-wormhole source of The Sound (and Juan Pablo being potentially the same person as Elkin) turn the movie into a cosmic puzzle. I haven’t seen a movie on the big screen at The Plaza in years, and was very happy to return with this one.

Will Sloan:

The compositions and edits offer suggestive juxtapositions that Apichatpong trusts you to generate meaning from. As usual with Apichatpong, scenes unfold in long, static takes, and important information is revealed without fanfare in hushed conversations that you really need to pay attention to. The urban settings of the first half are grey and overcast, and the rural setting of the second half is sumptuous, but Apichatpong does little with his camera to underline the ugliness or sweeten the prettiness.

On the run after killing his dad, Bradley Cooper wanders mutely into a carnival needing work and food and gets shown around by Willem Dafoe. Ron Perlman is there of course, typecast as a strongman. Cooper’s talents are gradually put to use until he runs off (openly, not in secret) with Rooney Mara to run their own upscale act stolen from mentalist Toni Collette and her late partner David Strathairn.

A couple years later in the plotty, less compelling back half of the movie, the spook act impresses Mary Steenburgen and he’s set up with haunted and dangerous Richard Jenkins. Psychologist Cate Blanchett gives him inside dirt on Jenkins then swindles him, Rooney dislikes his turn to crime-laced trickery, and after it all goes wrong he leaves town in a chicken car, wounded, with nothing and nobody, and comes crawling to new circus master Tim Blake Nelson.

It’s convenient when you’re a circus psychic that everyone in the 1940’s had the same backstory. The movie is as obvious as I’d guessed from the trailer, but the actors and the look of the thing make it completely worthwhile.

Washed up porn star Mikey returns home defeated to his estranged wife Lexi and hangs at her mom Lil’s house in Texas while going on “job interviews.” He ends up selling weed for family friend Judy Hill (World’s on Fire), befriending next door neighbor Lonnie for his car and hanging at a donut shop to sell drugs to customers. Then he hits on the idea of getting the donut shop girl into the porn business – “she’s my way back in.”

The whole thing sounds dour and desperate, but as noted in the reviews, Mikey (Simon Rex of Bodied) is a real treat to watch, a gloriously charismatic car wreck who eventually helps cause an actual car wreck – Lonnie going to jail for fleeing a 22-car pileup was an unexpected twist. Mikey’s plan almost works, but in the end he’s robbed and kicked out of town, for the greater good.

Baker drops a key to Mikey’s character in an InsideHook interview, having spoken with suitcase pimps with “a toxic effect on other people that they cross paths with … We’d heard a lot of stories from these guys, and they always felt like they were being sabotaged.”

Lonnie:

Baker in Filmmaker:

Right now in the US, we’re leaning towards virtue-signaling way too much. There’s a place for that in mainstream cinema. Like, if you’re making an Avengers film, hitting all the checkmarks and making it as diverse and inclusionary as possible, that’s important because that’s mainstream popcorn-cinema meant for children. That’s different. This is made for adults.

The second Rebecca Hall movie where someone shoots themself in the head – this time it’s her husband. Afterwards, she finds a House of Leaves floorplan of the house, and eventually, a half-built mirror-house across the lake with a hellraiser torture figure inside. Going in a really good direction, from trauma movie to occult horror, then it takes a left turn into Flatliners territory, like a Final Destination for grown-ups.

Ugh, I wrote the above ramble without realizing that Bruckner made the upcoming Hellraiser reboot, a “hulu original” so thank goodness it’ll have no cultural legacy – he previously made segments for Southbound (guy in abandoned hospital) and V/H/S (large-eyed girlbeast in East Atlanta).

I was reading “At the Existentialist Café” on the train…

Sartre put this principle into a three-word slogan, which for him defined existentialism: ‘Existence precedes essence’. What this formula gains in brevity it loses in comprehensibility. But roughly it means that, having found myself thrown into the world, I go on to create my own definition (or nature, or essence), in a way that never happens with other objects or life forms. You might think you have defined me by some label, but you are wrong, for I am always a work in progress. I create myself constantly through action, and this is so fundamental to my human condition that, for Sartre, it is the human condition, from the moment of first consciousness to the moment when death wipes it out. I am my own freedom: no more, no less.

So I thought from the title and poster that this would be a grand existentialist movie, and anyway it’s always a good time watching something with Franz Rogowski, but wrong on both counts. In 1945 Franz goes straight from the concentration camp into jail for being gay, bunks with Haneke regular Georg Friedrich. In 1957 Franz’s boyfriend Thomas Prenn dies, and the other prisoners can almost find it in their hearts to feel bad about it. In the late 60’s Franz keeps breaking rules in order to get thrown outside with young gay teacher Anton von Lucke (Frantz). Finally the law is overturned, Franz visits a jazz club and its subterranean Irreversible sex club, goes straight outside and smashes a jewelry store window to get thrown back into prison.

Franz with the teacher:

Happy to have watched a pre-backlash advance screening. The classic conundrum of wanting to see this again to catch more details, but not wanting to see this again since it won’t get better than the first time. I try not to be an 80s Nostalgia Kid, but reading Vulture’s interview with Ke Huy Quan made the movie hit much harder. The few Son Lux tracks I’ve heard from Joyful Noise have been skippable, so why is this soundtrack so good?

Léa Seydoux is a famous TV newscaster, known for onsite foreign reports and for giving playfully confrontational questions to the president at home, lives with husband and kid in an insane performatively-rich house. At work she gives too much on-camera direction, saying “got that?” a half second after every speech – her segments must be a nightmare to edit. There’s a minor car crash (she rear-ends a motorcyclist) and a major one (her husband and kid plunge off a cliff), and every personal tragedy or professional fuckup is just another tabloid headline. She starts actually caring about the stories she covers, but the public image and end result is the same.

France will be seen next in the Cronenberg, her TV producer is in the brand-new Quentin Dupieux and her husband was in Personal Shopper. Doesn’t feel very Dumontian, except when accident victim Baptiste is around. It’s all very nice-looking (and with great music by the late Christophe) but a traditional media/celeb satire seems like small fries after Slack Bay.

France with producer:

France with husband:

None of my notes are useful (see Goodbye Dragon Inn instead) because I assumed I was going to rewatch it with Katy, and maybe someday I will. The lyrics to “America” and “Gee Officer Krupke” are so great, the actors and camera work are swell, and it’s all a Lincoln Center origin story.

Why does this open with an Ethan Hawke personal intro, between the production logos and the title? The movie’s broad motivations are obscure, and I don’t buy many of its details. The music has Dead Man guitar improv vibes, and if it’d cut out those military marching band beats it might be truly great (the music, not the movie). Some kind of a cyber military thriller, mainly shot in ugly nighttime handheld digital. Pandemic-era: kissing through masks, smartphone in a freezer, disinfectant sprayed on $100 bills, a computer gets shot during a skype call. One Hawke zooms around Rome holding out his camera like it’s a gun (“shoot it so they believe it”), his revolutionary imprisoned Hawke Brother seems Nick Nolte-inspired.