I’m figuring out who Laurie Anderson is before the Big Ears fest. This is a poem-essay film about “the connection between love and death”… still drawings and an animated Laurie give an introductory dream sequence about giving birth to her dog, then straight to the death of her mother over blurry, barely-there archive films and photos. The dog goes blind, Laurie has her make paintings and sculptures and play paw-piano (they show a long stretch of dog piano music, including live performance footage from a benefit concert), and Laurie speaks of dog perception and post-9/11 surveillance. Ends with Lou’s song “Turning Time Around” and in the closing credits you realize her real home movies were mixed with staged(?) archive-looking footage (and Chris Marker is thanked). I kinda loved this – all these years I assumed I would find it tedious. It can go either way with personal docs and poetry.

Did Sandra Hüller push her husband out the window? Did he fall or jump? I don’t know – I strode in confidently seven minutes late, but there were apparently no trailers or ads so I missed the first scene or two. If anybody knows how the husband died please DM me.

All I wrote when I got home is “it’s no Sibyl.” Michael Sicinski agrees:

As is often the case [in November], we encounter a number of productions with solid pedigree and appropriate festival attention. Inevitably, many of these films are “good enough,” but never as interesting as they purport to be. These films are by no means bad, but there’s a sense that they are following well-worn paths to acclaim, striking appropriately literary poses without being formally audacious enough to really put anybody off … In the grand tradition, Justine Triet has been duly rewarded for becoming a less quirky, more conventional artist.

Cursed Mutant kids meet up and share a musical connection. Tomona was blinded by the magic sword that killed his father, and Inu-Oh was born a mutant due to a deal his serial killer father made with a magic mask. Stories of mutants and curses are usually good, and Yuasa’s animation is playful and unusual, especially when visualizing how blind Tomona “sees” the world through sounds. But then after a half hour it abruptly becomes a hard rock musical… returning to sum up the kids’ stories at the end, but too late. And while some directors will shoot the plot scenes normally then make the style come alive during musical numbers, Yuasa does the opposite. The whole hour of rock & roll theatrics is full of repeated shots and movements and angles, third-rate early-MTV stuff.

Another movie about criminals doing One Last Job before they retire on their earnings, but this time it’s young, disorganized burglars trying to leave Detroit. Rocky is Jane Levy, star of Evil Dead Remake, casing a house with her partners, tough Daniel Zovatto (It Follows) and meek Dylan Minnette (Let Me In). Unfortunately, the house is occupied by dangerous blind army vet Stephen Lang (VFW) who keeps a kidnapped impregnated girl in his basement, a killer dog in his yard, and a few million bucks in his safe.

Fortunately there’s not much dialogue – the two guys sparring over the girl was unconvincing, and I think there were three appearances of “Let’s Do This.” Better is the camera, which finchers around, between walls and under furniture. It’s a good looking movie, especially considering it’s mostly set within a decrepit house. The girl escapes with the money and sees a news story saying the old man lived, which explains the existence of Don’t Breathe 2.

mini-Cujo at the end:

A Cannes Fortnight screening. This sounded like a stalker thriller from the description, but it’s one of those really good Stranger Than Fiction writing movies, the story and perspective always shifting. Includes both the wheelchair mom and the dad who caught fire in Thelma, and reference to the 2011 Norwegian terror attack. Vogt’s second film just debuted, and I don’t know much except that Blake didn’t like it (Blake doesn’t like anything) and that Vogt is 2 for 2 on good posters.

Listening to Kool Thing:

Just trying to chill with some Chinese action movies on Easter, I end up choosing a film where a Mary and Jesus statue explodes.

Mouseover to blow up the statue:

Before the church job, Chow’s hit in a restaurant goes bad and he blinds a singer after killing 12 guys while using the infinite ammo cheat code on his dual pistols. Danny Lee is a disgraced supercop who also hurt a woman on a job, sent to protect a guy who Chow is sent to kill, but after witnessing the supposedly ruthless Chow save a girl from the line of fire, Danny falls in love with him and they end up fighting together.

Danny Lee was in City on Fire with Chow, had portrayed Bruce Lee in the 70’s:

Thanks to Woo, I learned it’s hard to lipsync when the song plays at normal speed and everything else is in slow-motion. Also dig the trick of burning gunpowder to seal a wound, which I just saw in Monster Hunter. It’s a just-pretty-good movie beloved by people who need to see invincible sunglasses-wearing heroes firing two guns whilst jumping through the air, Woo’s followup to the Better Tomorrow movies. Tsui Hark produced, while Woo produced Hark’s Better Tomorrow III.

Sally Yeh starred in Hark’s Peking Opera Blues, a singer who retired from movies after this:

Louis Koo is a washed up drunken former fighting champ who is going blind, other fighters and weirdos (incl. Tony 2 and Aaron Kwok) want to challenge him to fights, while singer Cherrie Ying hides out in his karaoke bar. Sold as a tough-guy redemption story, that is not the movie Johnnie To felt like making. He felt like using the skeleton of an archetypal Judo-hero story and hanging every eccentricity off it. The emotional climax isn’t a big fight, it’s when our three main characters team up to free a balloon from a tree.

After Profit Motive, Gianvito made a couple of 4+ hour docs about the messes that US military bases leave behind in other countries, but here he’s back in Profit Motive mode with a compact doc full of reading material. The subject is Helen Keller, so he plays with narration and silence, also mixes in period sound recordings and tactile nature photography. A dead bird is photographed for metaphorical reasons, and I’m still recovering from all the avian violence in Bird Island but I’m going to allow it.

Keller was turned onto socialism by an HG Wells book, and after socialist party infighting, she joins the IWW/wobblies and becomes increasingly radical – but remains philosophical and witty in her Q&A responses.