I spent a woeful amount of time this past month catching up on Battlestar Galactica, but I squeezed in a few features here and there among all that space opera. I'm back to work for the OA this month, getting ready for our next DVD in June, so I'm watching or re-watching quite a few southern films, though not as many as you'll see in the coming months.
Oasis (2002), dir. Lee Chang-dong I'd call POV shots from the perspective of a woman who is suffering from cerebral palsy pretty damn brave. I took two years working up the nerve to see this film, but you shouldn't hesitate.
Faces of Eve (1957), dir. Nunally Johnson No wonder the successful
screenwriter failed to make his mark as a director. Shooting this film
Cinemascope was akin to drawing stick figures on the ceiling of the
Sistine Chapel. The shot/reverse shots were laughably rote, and time
hasn't been kind to the premise.
92 in the Shade (1975), dir. Thomas McGuane Peter Fonda drifts along in Warren Oates' furious wake, bobbing in a sea of questionable motivation and laid-back suspense like a fishing line on a hot day.
Two or Three Things I Know About
Her (1967), dir. Jean-Luc Godard Not fun. In fact, tedious. Impassioned,
maybe, but ideas are more perishable than emotions and leave only the stale ghosts of feeling when they fall away.
Sunshine (2007), dir. Danny Boyle Message to hot-shit American directors: Make more movies. Explore. Put yourself out there. Be more like Danny Boyle. Or even Michael Winterbottom.
Pom Poko (1994), dir. Isao Takahata I hear-tell that Miyazaki has pretty firm creative control of his films, and I think it's safe to assume Isao has something of the same power over his productions. So every bit of the weirdness can be placed squarely in his lap, but that still doesn't explain how the Disney corporation got ahold of an eco-friendly fairy tale about raccoons with magic inflatable scrotums.
Quick Feet, Soft Hands (Rough Cut) (2008), dir. Paul Harrill Less immediate and approachable than Gina, An Actress, Age 29, but the casual execution and lingering impact of Harrill's second project seems to mark him the Alice Munro of dramatic shorts.
Cloverfield (2008), dir. Matt Reeves SPOILER ALERT: The typical irrational decisions expected out of people in a horror film, except this time flimsily justified on the half-baked basis of a core human value. That this value is held in utter disdain by the filmmakers only hits you when everyone ...()dies anyway.
Marketa Lazarová (1967), dir. Frantisek Vlácil More eery first-person than any film short of The Lady in the Lake. As Glenn Kenny notes, one searing composition after another, all united by a truly compelling narrative. This isn't slow-assed arthouse cinema, but high-pitched historical drama.
The Red Shoes (1948), dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger I've been fitting as many Powell and Pressburger films into the last few months as possible, and I'm inclined to agree with prevailing opinion: This is their unassailable masterpiece.
Stella Dallas (1925), dir. Henry King Unparalleled weepie. Belle Bennett's gloriously uncouth social dis-graces and subtle performance bring contrapuntal notes of restraint to all the high drama. Devastating.
Black Natchez (1967), dir. Ed Pincus No mean feat tracking this one down, a proto-Harlan County USA set during the unrelentingly tense fallout of a Civil Rights assassination in Natchez. Like Kopple's frustrating examination of a divisive coal miner's strike, teaches us how organization can become a contradiction in terms. Along with Pincus' Diaries, a DVD is reportedly in the works.