Sunday, September 30, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Je veux voyager en France. Did you have this book when you were a kid? Serious-ment, dudes, I have wanted to go to Paris ever since I pored over its pictures of the bird market and the Rive Gauche, but I've been Google-image-searching like a fiend, ever since I read this tres etupide article and then one of my professors happened to say "when I was at the Cinematheque Francaise last summer," and I realized, Miss Rumphius-style, "I, too, can travel to faraway repositories." No matter what Jacques Austerlitz says, I find the idea of the sunken forest at the Bibliotheque Nationale tremendously appealling.
Lately, I feel a little self-conscious about having this blog, but at the very least, I like having a record of all the movies I see, which reminds me where and with whom and that I was doing something. So I saw Helvetica. Highlights included the enormous banner, in the offices of a Dutch graphic design firm, done in the style of the Emperor logo but reading "MODERNISM" and the fact that despite the tiresome aspects of its repetitive montages of Helvetica appearing all over the goddamn place set to boring idm, this movie will prove a perfectly accurate depiction of the urban Western world of 2006 for future generations. It's a bit long, but full of insights into the thought that goes into making things look the way they do. Additionally, for both interviewees and audience it becomes a really focused experiment in forcing yourself to ponder something you never think about (one designer says "it's like talking about off-white paint"). Also noted: graphic designers can be sassy, and universally have really nice glasses.
Also, I saw Eastern Promises, which I don't have much to say about. It's well-done and gripping throughout, though the more I think about it the more I dislike its resolution. Viggo plays a slight variation on his usual character, which suits him well. Cronenberg uses a similar discomfiting cinematography to that he employed in the inferior, more heavy-handed History of Violence: painstakingly slow pans and shots that linger just a bit too long when you expect them to cut away. I've been wondering, though, if this movie bears some secret metaphoric weight as almost all his other shit does, or if he really just made a dark, nicely constructed genre thriller.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Just read yet another article about "mumblecore" (seriously, people, doesn't anyone remember the keen experience of seeing Low described as "sadcore" and thinking "oh ok, nothing can get worse than this crap term for an ersatz genre?), about how these are the ideal movies for Generation Indecision. Without spewing speculative venom in the direction of those movies, I'll talk about Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto, which I finally watched. Here's the story: Domenico leaves school (high school, mind) where he studied some things he realizes will bear little pertinence upon his money-making life, applies to and gets a bottom-tier job at a big corporation, and--and nothing. At some point in the application process, he meets a girl, whom he fails to court. The film ends with a desk-jockey's death, which allows Domenico to take over his soulless calculating job.
The film alleviates total grimness in several ways. First, it has a heavy dose of black humor: a Band of Outsiders style diversion into the lives of Domenico's officemates and their lives and perversions is particularly well-timed. Perhaps more importantly, though, you suspect the whole time that Domenico is so much smarter than the system that he'll work his way out of it. Kent Jones talks about this in the Criterion booklet essay, actually, but whatevs: the character seldom speaks, but you see him watching the people around him all the time, pacing himself and his reactions. You get a sense that he's as on top of his own situation as you are of his--I mean to say, whichever type of irony it is where you know what the characters don't (dramatic?) is the opposite of what's going on here. While he's taking the entrance exam for the corporation job, he receives a pretty simple math problem to solve. Olmi cuts to a p.o.v. shot that has you, along with Domenico, staring upwards into the high domed ceiling of the exam room, as if to show you both that Domenico's rolling his eyes and that you and no one else in this movie know exactly in what sense, but that he aspires higher.
& that's how you make a movie about our troubled youth.
I also saw some Yugoslavian short movies at BAM, which were pretty hippie-flighty. It was all fun and games, but let me just note this one kind of anthology film, I Miss Sonja Henie made at I think the 1972 Belgrade Film Festival, that incorporated a 3-minute long Paul Morrissey movie which was, amazingly, no more and no less a Paul Morrissey movie than any 90-minute or 20-minute or 3-hour-long Paul Morrissey movie. Bravo!
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Let me just say that the film noir series at F. Forum failed to bring it--or, perhaps, that July-August 2007 was not the time for me to indulge with any enthusiasm in cornball dialogue and chiaroscuro. I remember Phantom Lady and Killer's Kiss as notably whatever, and can't even recall what else, if anything, I saw. Besides that, I saw Superbad.
But this is the question that I've been thinking about, to the exclusion of thought about any movies, really, the more time I spend around people who spend all their times MAKING THINGS and WORKING ON THINGS TO MAKE, like art or ideas or dances. What I have, can we call this life: a job--the goal of which, no matter what it is, seems to be to do such good work that every trace of my labor and being is effaced from the end result--plus the spare-time cultivation of tastes [cf. this very blog!], plus cameraderie and alcohol?
Let me know.