A description of the opening scenes would sound like a scare headline about the callous drug-afflicted youth: Morvern’s boyfriend is dead in a doorway, she grabs cash from his pocket and goes out to meet a friend Lanna for a bar date. Morvern books a resort trip to Spain with the funeral money her man left on a bank card, puts her own name on the man’s finished novel and gets a publishing deal, ditches Lanna who admits having an affair with the man. Good character and movie, full of unexpected developments and images.
Samantha Morton is my age – I’ve seen her in Synecdoche and Cosmopolis, Mister Lonely and Minority Report, and it’s been a long while since Sweet and Lowdown and Jesus’ Son. So all of Ramsay’s movies are about death trauma? I first heard of her when Criterion released Ratcatcher twenty years ago, deciding I must watch it, but now I’ve seen all of her features except Ratcatcher – typical of my roundabout way of doing things.
Ah shit, this is one of those movies I had to write up twenty seconds after watching because once I get outside its particular headspace it is impossible to remember – and it’s been a month. Anyway, this sounds like an action-grime classic: a hammer-wielding hitman on the edge of sanity is sent to rescue a senator’s daughter. Joaquin Phoenix and the director and editor and the incredible sound design keep things from becoming as generic as that sounds.
Phoenix is given a job by his boss (Major Rawls from The Wire), pops some pills, grabs a hammer and rescues the girl. She’s taken back from him by cops (!), then his contacts and his mom are killed, and he has a touching moment with a dying rival hitman before rescuing her again from the governor, who was part of the pedophile ring she’d been handed into in the first place. I think that’s what happened, but the movie is all nerves and makes you feel crazy for watching it, so I can’t be sure. I’m happy to see Ramsay redeemed after We Need To Talk About Kevin.
Coming Attractions (2010, Peter Tscherkassky)
Wow. Footage from advertising shoots repurposed by the master of footage-repurposing. He fashions a series of mini-movies using different techniques, each with its own title card. Possibly his best, or at least, his funniest film.
PT: “The impetus for Coming Attractions was to bring the three together: commercials, early cinema, and avant-garde film.”
Depart de Jerusalem en tracteur:
Cubbhist Cinema #3:
Le Sang d’un poeme:
Cubist Cinema #1:
Swimmer (2012, Lynne Ramsay)
Young man swims and walks through a bunch of other movies (through their music and dialogue, anyway) in lovely black-and-white slow motion. There is some bow-and-arrow shooting, a favorite thing of Ramsay’s.
Drool (2011, Jeremiah Kipp & The Mandragoras Project)
A boy and a girl are covered in drool, slithering about in a white room. The bathhouse scene from Eastern Promises as a twisted love story, then swallowed and spit back out. Only four minutes long and still the slimiest movie I have ever seen.
Crestfallen (2011, Jeremiah Kipp)
Woman committing suicide in fancy bathtub flashes back to cheating husband, then flashes back to her young daughter and decides to live. Beautifully shot, with sweet music by Harry Manfredini. My favorite of the three dialogue-free shorts I’ve seen from Kipp… the third being Contact, which I watched again today – such an impressive little movie that I’m sorry I knocked the sound design last time I watched it.
“There is no point. That’s the point.”
I always enjoy a good Tilda Swinton performance, and was willing to put up with a grim school-shooting drama to get one. I wasn’t expecting the movie to be such a cartoon, though. Her son is portrayed as so single-mindedly hateful that I’m disappointed the movie didn’t turn into straight supernatural horror by the end. Stylized movie with blatantly unrealistic portrayals of human behaviour (there’s definitely, definitely no logic) are usually okay, but the movie acts like Tilda’s world, feelings, situation are to be taken seriously. I couldn’t put all the parts into a whole that made sense.
Tilda has a devil child who has hated her since birth. Movie flips back and forth in time, culminating in the shooting (with a bow and arrow!), before which Kevin (sadly not Devon Bostick of Rodrick Rules) also shoots his little sister (whom he partially blinded in an earlier scene) and dad John C. Reilly. It seems like the whole rest of the movie was his build-up, that everything Kevin has ever done was to make Tilda’s life miserable, which it finally is as the town’s parents sue for all she’s got, and she ends up working a shitty job at a travel agency, living in a shack, drinking herself to sleep, with no family, visiting her mute homicidal son every week. Then the movie sabotages its demon-spawn horror by almost making Kev seem human in the final scene – what for?
Based on a novel. Intriguing Jonny Greenwood score featuring old-timey songs, well-shot by Seamus McGarvey (Atonement).
The symbiosis between anxious mother and psychotic sonâ€”is she absorbing his growing malevolence out of guilt or responsibility, or is she projecting her own bad vibes onto him?â€”is what gives the film its shape, the sense of a deforming bulge resulting from turmoil swept under the maternal rug. But Ramsay doesnâ€™t let the horror arise from the material; instead, she pulverizes it with a cacophony of clashing sound bridges, crudely symbolic colors and overwrought edits. Like Steve McQueenâ€™s Manhattan in Shame, Ramsayâ€™s Connecticut is a netherworld of vacant signifiers (Home, Office, Hell) where blunt abstraction and blunt literalism wrestle for control.