Jodie Foster is divorcing a pharma boss, diabetic daughter Kristen Stewart in tow, moving into the Manhattan home of a dead guy with a missing fortune, and nobody here has ever seen a scary movie before. On their very first night, entitled rich kid Jared Leto breaks in with corrupt security expert Forest Whitaker and psychopath Dwight Yoakam, and the standoff begins. I remember this being the most tense movie I’d ever seen in theaters – obviously not as wild the second time around two decades later, but a real good time.

Not the panic room but the elevator:

I’m reading the Adam Nayman book on Fincher and rewatching a couple movies. Production of this one (and all his movies, haha) was difficult. Adam says the cinematography has a “floating, disembodied aesthetic” and he compares it to other apartment movies and contemporary thrillers.

Jodie’s ex Patrick Bauchau (La Collectionneuse) gets involved:

After reading Beatrice Loayza’s essay for the new box set, I had to watch an Akerman movie. But I cannot tolerate silence in a home screening, so, per the artist’s original intent, I made a playlist with Colleen then Titan to Tachyons then Tomeka Reid Quartet.

Static camera, hanging around in the hotel lobby and hallways and especially elevators, even getting into a couple rooms. Then back to the hallways… long static takes of hallways. Then movement! Dolly up a hallway, looking out the window at NYC, impressive jump cut from night to day, back up and down the hallway. Movie ends on the roof, slow rotation looking out at the city, the movement reminding of La Chambre. Akerman had moved to NYC and made these films with DP Babette Mangolte, both artists influenced by Michael Snow, then Mangolte shot Snow’s Rameau’s Nephew the following year.

Katy is never up for watching the final hour of that cartoon we started, but gets right on board for a long doc about the NY library system. Expansive look at the work and mission of the public library, from branch meetings and funding talks to gala events. Sharply edited, every five minutes another facet of an institution devoted to knowledge. Tom Charity in Cinema Scope goes into the details, calls it “almost intelligentsia porn.”

Pretty good movie, well-deserved star turn for Greta Lee. Inspired by the director being in the exact position of the opening scene, sitting at an NY bar between a husband and an old flame, wondering how she looked to outsiders.

With the frantic pace of the first film and my useless writeup, I worried we wouldn’t know what’s going on in this movie. But it’s just Spider-man, dealing with his usual Spider-man teenage problems while also trying to prove himself to the interdimensional society of Spider-men who say Miles only became a Spider-man through infinite improbability when a spider from Universe 42 warped into his version of New York. Attempts to save the universes from a Jason Schwartzman-voiced Watchmen-looking portal beast, then the movie cuts off before the next battle, Miles and his buddies facing off against an Evil Miles who became Venom The Prowler. Looks somewhat less splendid and amazing than the first movie because we made the mistake of skipping it in theaters and watching at home.

Back-story catchup (it’s clear what point in time the film crew joined the story) then we follow a court case against a NYC family bank in the aftermath of the financial crisis, from the POV of the defenders. They’re not accused of subprime lending, but selling loans with improper paperwork and taking kickbacks from customers, and the state decided to make a (probably racist) example of them, trying/failing to prove the corruption went higher than some bad-egg loan officers. Good story, decent doc – oscar-nominated alongside Strong Island and Faces Places. Chicago critics gave it their best doc award, so James rewarded them by making his next doc there: the heartwarming success story of, uh-oh, Lori Lightfoot.

All Dolled Up (2005)

Based around lo-fi backstage and onstage video of the Dolls in their heyday playing grungy NY punk clubs, also a local news report. It’s all archival, with plenty of hanging out – scenes and songs fade out abruptly. Primary source footage of artists is inherently interesting but when the cameraperson follows them on a trip to San Francisco, there are whole minutes of aimless filler.

New York Doll (2005)

This one plays more like a standard rock doc – famous talking heads tell us the Dolls were important, then the filmmakers follow bassist Arthur Kane, now working part-time at a Mormon library, en route to the big reunion shows curated by lifelong fan Morrissey. There’s some tension (moments before going onstage Johansen antagonizes Arthur over the church) but largely plays like an advertisement, feel-good story of a forgotten man getting to re-live his rock & roll youth, with a twist ending (Arthur dies of cancer days after the gig). But the most shocking thing in the movie was learning that the golden key society of hotel concierges from The Grand Budapest Hotel really exists.

Personality Crisis: One Night Only (2022)

Like with his George Harrison doc, Scorsese pulls together the previous sources – we see Morrissey bits from the Arthur Kane movie and stage footage from the archival doc. This is built around a live performance in a small club – David admits that his cabaret show is for his friends, and a wider audience wouldn’t understand it, and I didn’t, but the song “Totalitarian State” was good. Between live songs the movie nicely roams across art-related topics: Harry Smith stories, love of opera, song title inspirations. David says “intelligent ridiculousness” appeals to him, and I can get behind that.

Mean Streets (1973)

A buddy comedy for the first half, gradually piling on the struggles until Keitel is overwhelmed between allegiances to his fuckup friend (De Niro), his girl (Amy Robinson), and his criminal employers. He chooses poorly, trying to have it all – but only the fuckup (and randomly, David Carradine) gets killed, in a movie with very few guns considering the poster art is a smoking gun.

Feels like play-acting for a while, a dress rehearsal for Goodfellas, but I think that’s because these guys are such small-time gamblers. Only one of them (Richard Romanus) has a car, they scout deals for cigarette cartons, and they think two thousand dollars is an impossible amount of money. David Proval is the guy who runs a bar, and I think Victor Argo’s the big boss. Young Scorsese already knew what he liked, kicking into slow-mo when the Rolling Stones song comes on.

from the commentary: Marty was fired from Honeymoon Killers and WoodstockMean Streets was a record of his own young life compressed into a few-days story… Cassavetes’ Shadows is credited as their inspiration of possibility, and Corman taught the filmmaking discipline (visible in the movie are posters for Husbands, X, and The Tomb of Ligeia)

What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963)

Nervy montage with stills and motion and stop-motion and graphic elements, tied together with a comic narration by struggling writer Harry. Suffering a block, he throws a house party and meets a girl. Marty’s earliest short seems to be telling us: “I really enjoyed Zazie dans le metro.”

It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964)

Murray is here to show off his success and say it’s all thanks to Joe, who started him on bootlegging gin. Another silly little film with comic narration which feels like it’s making it up as it goes. The gangster parody becomes a Hollywood musical parody… Joe steals Murray’s wife, then we jump to an inexplicable 8 1/2 ending.

Italianamerican (1974)

Just a good time around the table, talking about food, family and the old days. I appreciate that Marty continues eating in the foreground while his camera crew films his family.

Early Wenders muse Rüdiger Vogler drives past Richmond, gets to NYC and sells his car, then goes to Shea Stadium – I like this guy already. He’s a writer/photographer disowned by his editor for wandering the States and ignoring his story and deadlines, but he’s got enough cash to fly home. After he meets a woman and her daughter at the airport then the woman disappears, the movie sneakily adopts my least favorite movie plot of all (aimless adult gets stuck with precocious child), but somehow remains good. Robby Müller did nice work in Goalie, kills it here. Almost Kaurismäkian in its large-heartedness – rare that I watch a movie from the 1970s and think things were better back then. Rüdiger keeps behaving in a very relatable manner (he drops the girl at a police station and goes to a Chuck Berry concert).

Rüdiger on TV: “All these TV images come down to the same common, ugly message: a kind of vicious contempt. No image leaves you in peace. They all want something from you.”