Monday, December 31, 2018

What I Saw in 2018


3 Bad Men [John Ford, 1926]
4 aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle [4 Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle] [Éric Rohmer, 1987]
8-jikan no kyōfu [8 Hours’ Terror] [Seijun Suzuki, 1957]
22nd Ji.hlava IDFF Promotional Spot [Jean-Luc Godard, 2018]
El abrazo de la serpiente [Embrace of the Serpent] [Ciro Guerra, 2015]
And You Act Like One Too [Susan Seidelman, 1976]
Une affaire de femmes [A Female Matter] [Claude Chabrol, 1988]
Akai hatoba [Red Pier] [Toshio Masuda, 1958]
Akutarō [The Bastard] [Seijun Suzuki, 1963]
Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star] [Seijun Suzuki, 1965]
All About Mankiewicz [Luc Béraud and Michel Ciment, 1983]
All Men Were There [Jay Giampietro, 2018]
Les amants du Pont-Neuf [The Lovers of the Pont-Neuf] [Leos Carax, 1991]
Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty] [Seijun Suzuki, 1958]
Annihilation [Alex Garland, 2018]
Anticipation [Jean-Luc Godard, 1967]
The Apartment [Billy Wilder, 1960]
Aphex Twin: “T69 collapse” [WEIRDCORE, 2018]
At War with the Army [Hal Walker, 1950]
Au cœur du mensonge [At the Heart of the Lie] [Claude Chabrol, 1998]
Aujourd’hui [Today] [Claude Autant-Lara, 1967]
Avanti! [Billy Wilder, 1972]
The Awful Truth [Leo McCarey, 1937]
Ayka [Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2018]
The Barefoot Contessa [Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1954]
Beach Rats [Eliza Hittman, 2017]
La Belle Époque [Michael Pfleghar, 1967]
Ben-Hur [William Wyler, 1959]
Betty [Claude Chabrol, 1992]
The Big Chill [Lawrence Kasdan, 1983]
Bill Nye: Science Guy [David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, 2017]
Blonde Venus [Josef von Sternberg, 1932]
Bloodbrothers [Robert Mulligan, 1978]
Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter [The Bridegroom, the Actress, and the Pimp] [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1968]
British Sounds (See You at Mao) [Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Henri Roger, 1969]
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or: Sitting Bull’s History Lesson [Robert Altman, 1976]
Butter on the Latch [Josephine Decker, 2013]
Cabin Boy [Adam Resnick, 1994]
Caprice Espagnole {“The Devil Is a Woman”} [Josef von Sternberg, 1935]
Casablanca [Michael Curtiz, 1942]
Casa de lava [Lava Home] [Pedro Costa, 1994]
Caught [Max Ophüls, 1949]
La cérémonie [The Ceremony] [Claude Chabrol, 1995]
Certain Women [Kelly Reichardt, 2016]
Chaval [Mario Ruspoli, 1971]
Le chavalanthrope [The Chavalanthrope] [Mario Ruspoli, 1972]
La chinoise, ou plutôt à la chinoise [The Chinese Girl, or Rather: In the Chinese Style] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1967]
Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach [Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach] [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1968]
Cinefile: Reel Women [Chris Rodley, 1995]
Colin Caulfield: “Looking for Revenge” [Robbie Hillyer Barnett, 2018]
Comédies et Proverbes: La femme de l’aviateur, ou “On ne saurait penser à rien” [Comedies and Proverbs: The Airline Pilot’s Wife, or: “One Wouldn’t Know How to Think of Nothing”] [Éric Rohmer, 1981]
Comédies et Proverbes: L’ami de mon amie [Comedies and Proverbs: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend] [Éric Rohmer, 1987]
Comédies et Proverbes: Le beau mariage [Comedies and Proverbs: The Fine Marriage] [Éric Rohmer, 1982]
Comédies et Proverbes: Le rayon vert [Comedies and Proverbs: The Green Ray] [Éric Rohmer, 1986]
Comédies et Proverbes: Les nuits de la pleine lune [Comedies and Proverbs: Nights of the Full Moon] [Éric Rohmer, 1984]
Comédies et Proverbes: Pauline à la plage [Comedies and Proverbs: Pauline at the Beach] [Éric Rohmer, 1983]
Contes des quatre saisons: Conte de printemps [Tales of the Four Seasons: Springtime Tale] [Éric Rohmer, 1990]
The Clock [Vincente Minnelli, 1945]
Creativity: With Bill Moyers: A Portrait of Samson Raphaelson [David Grubin, 1982]
Cure [Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1997]
The Curse of the Cat People [Gunther von Fritsch, Robert Wise, and Val Lewton, 1944]
Dark River [Clio Barnard, 2017]
Death Mills [Billy Wilder, 1946]
The Death of Stalin [Armando Iannucci, 2017]
The Defiant Ones [Stanley Kramer, 1958]
Le dernier verre [The Last Drink] [Mario Ruspoli, 1964]
Les deux Marseillaises [The Two Marseillaises] [Jean-Louis Comolli and André S. Labarthe, 1968]
The Devil and Daniel Johnston [Jeff Feuerzeig, 2005]
Dishonored [Josef von Sternberg, 1931]
Dnevnik Glumova [Glumov’s Diary] [Sergei Eisenstein, 1923]
Dōng [Jia Zhang-ke, 2006]
Dont Look Back [D. A. Pennebaker, 1967]
Don’t Make Waves [Alexander Mackendrick, 1967]
Einleitung zu Arnold Schoenbergs 'Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene' [Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg's 'Accompaniment to a Cinematograph Scene'] [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1973]
Émotion [Nobuhiko Ōbayashi, 1966]
L’enfer [Inferno] [Claude Chabrol, 1994]
En rachâchant [Making Up for Things] [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1982]
Enter the Ninja [Menahem Golan, 1981]
Ère préhistorique [Prehistoric Era] [Franco Indovina, 1967]
L’escargot noir [The Black Snail] [Claude Chabrol, 1988]
Ex Machina [Alex Garland, 2014]
Faisons un rêve… [Let’s Make a Dream…] [Sacha Guitry, 1936]
Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight) [Orson Welles, 1966]
Fantômas [Louis Feuillade, 1913-1914]
Female Trouble [John Waters, 1974]
Fēng-guì lái de rén / The Boys from Fengkuei [Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1983]
La fête prisonnière [The Captive Party] [Mario Ruspoli, 1961]
F for Fake [Orson Welles, 1974]
Fight Science [Theodore Collatos, 2018]
Un film comme les autres [A Film Like the Others] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1968]
Filming ‘Othello’ [Orson Welles, 1979]
First Reformed [Paul Schrader, 2017]
Fistful of Dollars [Sergio Leone, 1964]
Five Star Final [Mervyn LeRoy, 1931]
Forbidden Planet [Fred McLeod Wilcox, 1956]
France Gall: “Plus haut” / Plus oh! [France Gall: “Higher” / More, Oh!] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1996]
French Cancan [Jean Renoir, 1955]
Fumi hazushita haru [Trampled Springtime] [Seijun Suzuki, 1958]
Le gai savoir [Cheerful Knowledge] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1968]
Gambler’s Ballad: The Legend of Johnny Thompson [Emery Emery, 2018]
Game Night [John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, 2018]
Gas, Food Lodging [Allison Anders, 1992]
GG Allin: All in the Family (The Allins: All in the Family) [Sami Saif, 2017]
Gimme Danger [Jim Jarmusch, 2016]
Girls Trip [Malcolm D. Lee, 2017]
Google: “Filmed on Pixel 3” [Terrence Malick, 2018]
Le grand escroc [The Great Swindler / The Confidence Man] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1963/1964]
Grimes: “We Appreciate Power” [Claire Boucher and Mac Boucher, 2018]
Guerlain: “Mon Guerlain” [Terrence Malick, 2017]
Guitar (w)o matta wataridori [The Rambling Guitarist] [Buichi Saitō, 1959]
Happy Death Day [Christopher B. Landon, 2017]
Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction [Sophie Huber, 2012]
Heaven Can Wait [Ernst Lubitsch, 1943]
Hellbound: Hellraiser II [Tony Randel, 1988]
Hereditary [Ari Aster, 2018]
Hester Street [Joan Micklin Silver, 1975]
High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza] [Seijun Suzuki, 1962]
The Hired Hand [Peter Fonda, 1971]
Hitlers Hollywood / Hitler’s Hollywood: German Cinema in the Age of Propaganda: 1933-1945 [Rüdiger Suchsland, 2017]
Homicidal [William Castle, 1961]
L’homme qui vendit la Tour Eiffel [The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower] [Claude Chabrol, 1963/1964]
The Honey Pot [Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1967]
House [Nobuhiko Ōbayashi, 1977]
Husbands: A Comedy About Life Death and Freedom [John Cassavetes, 1970]
“I Am Garibaldi”: Roberto Rossellini: ‘Viva l’Italia’ [Tag Gallagher, 2018]
Les inconnus de la terre [Strangers of the Earth] [Mario Ruspoli, 1961]
Incorrectional [Christopher Jason Bell, 2018]
Inspecteur Lavardin [Inspector Lavardin] [Claude Chabrol, 1986]
Irma la Douce [Billy Wilder, 1963]
Irma Vep [Olivier Assayas, 1996]
Is Ted Cruz “Tough as Texas”? / Fire Ted Cruz [Richard Linklater, 2018]
It Comes at Night [Trey Edward Shults, 2017]
I Was a Teenage Serial Killer [Sarah Jacobson, 1993]
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles [Chantal Akerman, 1975]
Jiùshì liūliū de tā [The Flowing Girl] / Cute Girl [Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1980]
Jobe’z World [Michael M. Bilandic, 2018]
John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid [John Mulaney and Rhys Thomas, 2015]
Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow] [Seijun Suzuki, 1958]
Kameradschaft [Comradeship] [G. W. Pabst, 1931]
Kemono no nemuri [The Sleep of the Beast] [Seijun Suzuki, 1960]
Kill Bill: Volume 1 [Quentin Tarantino, 2003]
Kiss Me, Stupid [Billy Wilder, 1964]
The Last Film [Martiros Vartanov, 2015]
Last Flag Flying [Richard Linklater, 2017]
The Last Waltz [Martin Scorsese, 1978]
Lazzaro Felice [Happy Lazzaro] [Alice Rohrwacher, 2018]
Letter from an Unknown Woman [Max Ophüls, 1948]
‘Letter from an Unknown Woman’: Passion’s Triumph [Tag Gallagher, 2006]
Letter to Jane: An Investigation About a Still [Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972]
Le livre d’image: Image et Parole [The Image Book: Image and Word] [Jean-Luc Godard, 2018]
Lotte in Italia [Struggles in Italy] [Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1970]
Love in the Afternoon [Billy Wilder, 1957]
Loving [Jeff Nichols, 2016]
Lucky [John Carroll Lynch, 2017]
Lured [Douglas Sirk, 1947]
Machorka-Muff [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1962]
Madame Bovary [Vincente Minnelli, 1949]
Mademoiselle Mimi [Philippe de Broca, 1967]
La madre [The Mother] {Version 3} [Jean-Marie Straub, 2012]
Mammy Water [Jean Rouch, 1954]
Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore [Sarah Jacobson, 1997]
Masques [Masks] [Claude Chabrol, 1987]
A Matter of Life and Death [Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1946]
Maux croisés [Crossed Ills / Crossword] [Claude Chabrol, 1989]
Le meraviglie [The Wonders] [Alice Rohrwacher, 2014]
Merci pour le chocolat [Thanks for the Hot Chocolate] [Claude Chabrol, 2000]
Michael [Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1924]
A Midsummer Night’s Dream [Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, 1935]
Mikkō 0 Line [0-Line Stowaway] [Seijun Suzuki, 1960]
Mission: Impossible [Brian De Palma, 1996]
Mission to Mars [Brian De Palma, 2000]
Mon père avait raison [My Father Was Right] [Sacha Guitry, 1936]
Morocco [Josef von Sternberg, 1930]
Moses und Aron [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1975]
My Man Godfrey [Gregory La Cava, 1936]
Le nain [The Dwarf] [Louis Feuillade, 1912]
Nathan for You: Season 4 [Nathan Silver, 2018]
La Nativité [The Nativity] [Louis Feuillade, 1910]
Nayak [The Hero] [Satyajit Ray, 1966]
Network [Sidney Lumet, 1976]
New Wave: Dare to Be Different [Ellen Goldfarb, 2018]
Nicht versöhnt, oder Es hilft nur Gewalt, wo Gewalt herrscht [Not Reconciled, or: Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules] [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1965]
Night Nurse [William A. Wellman, 1931]
Night of the Living Dead [George A. Romero, 1968]
Notes on an Appearance [Ricky D’Ambrose, 2018]
Le nouveau testament [The New Testament] [Sacha Guitry, 1936]
No Way Out [Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950]
Nuits romains [Roman Nights] [Mauro Bolognini, 1967]
The Odd Man: Writing for the Media [Charlie Gormley, 1978]
The Old Dark House [James Whale, 1932]
On Cinema at the Cinema: Season 10: OCX [Tim Heidecker, et al, 2018]
On Cinema: The Tim Heidecker Trial [Eric Notarnicola and Tim Heidecker, 2018]
One, Two, Three [Billy Wilder, 1961]
Operation Odessa [Tiller Russell, 2018]
Ophelia [Claude Chabrol, 1962]
The Other Side of the Wind [Orson Welles, 1976/2018]
Pájaros de verano [Summer Birds / Birds of Passage] [Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, 2018]
The Paradine Case [Alfred Hitchcock, 1947]
Patrice in Search of Love [Theodore Collatos, 2018]
Personal Problems: Pilot / Preliminary Version [Bill Gunn, 1980]
Personal Problems: Volume 1 [Bill Gunn, 1980]
Personal Problems: Volume 2 [Bill Gunn, 1981]
Phantom Thread [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017]
The Philadelphia Story [George Cukor, 1940]
The Pirate [Vincente Minnelli, 1948]
The Player [Robert Altman, 1992]
The Poet & the Professor [Ariel Kavoussi, 2017]
The Post [Steven Spielberg, 2017]
Poulet au vinaigre [Chicken with Vinegar / Cop with Vinegar] [Claude Chabrol, 1985]
Prénom Carmen [First Name Carmen] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1983]
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes [Billy Wilder, 1970]
Promenade dans le ‘Gai savoir’ [Stroll Through ‘Le gai savoir’] [Fabrice Aragno, 2017]
Prova d’orchestra [Orchestra Rehearsal] [Federico Fellini, 1978]
Pumpkin Movie [Sophy Romvari, 2018]
Rebecca [Alfred Hitchcock, 1940]
Red Line 7000 [Howard Hawks, 1965]
Regard sur la folie [A Look at Madness] [Mario Ruspoli, 1961]
Remontons les Champs-Élysées [Let’s Go Up the Champs-Élysées] [Sacha Guitry, 1938]
Revenge of the Ninja [Sam Firstenberg, 1983]
Rien ne va plus [Nothing’s Going Anymore / All Bets Are Off] [Claude Chabrol, 1997]
Riot in Cell Block 11 [Don Siegel, 1954]
Le roi de cœur [The Heart King / The King of Hearts] [Philippe de Broca, 1966]
Roma [Alfonso Cuarón, 2018]
Sada: Gesaku: Abe Sada no shōgai [Sada: A Pulp Fiction: The Life of Abe Sada] [Nobuhiko Ōbayashi, 1998]
Safe in Hell [William A. Wellman, 1931]
Salvador [Oliver Stone, 1986]
Le samouraï [The Samurai] [Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967]
Sānxiá hǎorén [Good People of the Three Gorges] / Still Life [Jia Zhang-ke, 2006]
Sayat Nova [Sergei Parajanov, 1969]
A Scandal in Paris: The Story of Vidocq [Douglas Sirk, 1946]
The Scarehouse [Gavin Michael Booth, 2014]
The Scarlet Empress [Josef von Sternberg, 1934]
The Scarlet Letter [Victor Sjöström, 1926]
Scream 2 [Wes Craven, 1997]
Serguei Paradjanov, le rebelle [Sergei Parajanov: The Rebel] [Patrick Cazals, 2003]
Shanghai Express [Josef von Sternberg, 1932]
Shuān-zhōng chuánqí [Legend in the Mountains] [King Hu, 1979]
The Shape of Water [Guillermo del Toro, 2017]
Shockproof [Douglas Sirk, 1949]
Shotgun no otoko [The Man with a Shotgun] [Seijun Suzuki, 1961]
Sisters [Brian De Palma, 1973]
Siu-nin Wong Fei-hung: Zi Tit Maa-lu [Little Wong Fei-hung: Iron Monkey] [Yuen Woo-ping, 1993]
Sleeping Dogs [Roger Donaldson, 1977]
Sleepless [Baran bo Odar, 2017]
Slightly French [Douglas Sirk, 1949]
Smash Palace [Roger Donaldson, 1981]
Smithereens [Susan Seidelman, 1982]
Snake Eyes {Dangerous Game} {Unrated Version} [Abel Ferrara, 1993]
So Big! [William A. Wellman, 1932]
Some Like It Hot [Billy Wilder, 1959]
Song to Song [Terrence Malick, 2017]
Sorry to Bother You [Boots Riley, 2018]
Die Spinnen [The Spiders] [Fritz Lang, 1919-1920]
Stachka [Strike] [Sergei Eisenstein, 1925]
A Star Is Born [Bradley Cooper, 2018]
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life [Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Marcus Raboy, 2018]
The Stranger [Orson Welles, 1946]
Strangers on a Train [Alfred Hitchcock, 1951]
Suddenly [Lewis Allen, 1954]
Support the Girls [Andrew Bujalski, 2018]
El Sur [The South] [Víctor Erice, 1983]
Tarzan’s Secret Treasure [Richard Thorpe, 1941]
Thieves Like Us [Robert Altman, 1974]
The Thin Man [W. S. Van Dyke, 1934]
Tim Heidecker: “Jonathan’s Golden Wings” [Vic Berger IV, 2018]
Toby Dammit [Federico Fellini, 1968]
Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass] [Seijun Suzuki, 1961]
Tōkyō Knight [Tokyo Knights] [Seijun Suzuki, 1961]
Tough Guys [Henry Roosevelt and W. B. Zullo, 2017]
Together [Terrence Malick, 2018]
Tout va bien [Everything’s Going Fine] [Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972]
The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice {US and UK Version} [Orson Welles, 1955]
The Tree of Life {Extended Version} [Terrence Malick, 2011/2018]
Tron [Steven Lisberger, 1982]
Tsvet armyanskoi zemli [The Color of Armenian Land] [Mikhail Vartanov, 1969]
Twilight of Honor [Boris Sagal, 1963]
Under Capricorn [Alfred Hitchcock, 1949]
Until We Could [Yen Tan and David Lowery, 2014]
UUU [collective, 1968]
Les Vampires [The Vampires] [Louis Feuillade, 1915-1916]
Le vent d’est / Vento dell’est [Wind from the East] [Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1969]
Vénus Noire [Black Venus] [Abdellatif Kechiche, 2010]
Ville nouvelle: I: Enfance d’une ville [Planned Community: I: Infancy of a Town] [Éric Rohmer, 1975]
Ville nouvelle II: La diversité du paysage urbain [Planned Community: II: The Diversity of the Urban Landscape] [Éric Rohmer, 1975]
Ville nouvelle: III: La forme de la ville [Planned Community: III: The Form of the Town] [Éric Rohmer, 1975]
Ville nouvelle: IV: Logement à la demande [Planned Community: IV: Housing on Request] [Éric Rohmer, 1975]
Viva l’Italia [Long Live Italy] [Roberto Rossellini, 1961]
Vladimir et Rosa [Vladimir and Rosa] [Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1971]
La voce della luna [The Voice of the Moon] [Federico Fellini, 1990]
Von Caligari zu Hitler, das deutsche Kino im Zeitalter der Massen [From Caligari to Hitler: The German Cinema in the Age of the Masses] [Rüdiger Suchsland, 2014]
Westfront 1918, Vier von der Infanterie [Westfront 18: Four from the Infantry] [G. W. Pabst, 1930]
Witness for the Prosecution [Billy Wilder, 1957]
Wobble Palace [Eugene Kotlyarenko, 2018]
Les yeux ne veulent pas en tout temps se fermer, ou Peut-être qu’un jour Rome se permettre de choisir à son tour [Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times, or: Perhaps One Day Rome Will Permit Herself to Choose in Her Turn] [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1970]
Les yeux sans visage [Eyes Without a Face] [Georges Franju, 1959]
Young Mr. Lincoln [John Ford, 1939]
Yours Truly, Andrea G. Stern [Susan Seidelman, 1979]
Zài nà hépàn qīngcao qīng [Green Green Grass There by the Riverside] / Green Green Grass of Home [Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1982]

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December 2018: Best Disc Supplements


Every month I highlight some of the best Blu-ray and DVD supplements (along with Criterion Channel features upon its return in Spring 2019). Too often these pieces are overlooked or given the most cursory mention in reviews (or on sites like DVDBeaver where they take a back seat to "A/V" assessment and are usually copy-and-pasted from the Special Features text from the relevant label's website). Pieces cited don't necessarily hail from new releases; rather come from whatever I've been watching that particular month. They represent the very best in supplementary material — critical, historical, personal — above and beyond the status quo.

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• Soundtrack to the Climax of the Sixth Part of Strike / 2011 recording by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, adapted from various Russian compositions, accompanying the Kino Lorber edition of the Cinémathèque de Toulouse's restoration of Strike — more and more powerful over the years since undergrad, though I prefer to watch in silence or with my own playlist up until this great moment maybe ten minutes from the end.

• Conversation Between Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris on Heaven Can Wait / 2005 piece on the film and late-Lubitsch shot by Criterion originally for the DVD edition of the film, carried over to Criterion's Blu-ray of the 20th Century Fox, Academy Film Archive, and Film Foundation restoration of Heaven Can Wait — I wish Haskell and Sarris could have done more talks like this together. When I see the movie now I agree with almost the bulk of what they offer. Back in 2005 I think I was so taken aback by the picture in the context of the Lubitsches I'd seen up to then. For me now it's not a film I've grown into with regard to understanding new familial relations; it's just a film, and the relationships contribute to the structure. It's precisely that distance-relation that makes me admire it, and Lubitsch, more now than before.

• "Murder by Moog: Scoring the Chill" by Brian De Palma / 1973 Village Voice essay on working with Bernard Herrmann on Sisters, reprinted in the booklet for Criterion's Sisters. Why don't more directors write essays? It used to be done more frequently. A terrific glance at Herrmann's demeanor near the end of life.

• Outtakes from My Man Godfrey / One minute and four seconds of short outtakes on the Criterion disc from the 1936 shooting of the feature (scanned and restored at 4K by Universal Pictures), with the actors botching and swearing throughout each clip. Carole Lombard pronounces a beautiful shit.





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Cover and Package Design:

• Susan Seidelman's Smithereens
Criterion - by Jay Shaw, 2018

• Don Siegel's Riot in Cell Block 11
Criterion - by Eric Skillman, 2014

• Peter Fonda's The Hired Hand
Arrow - artwork by Sean Phillips, 2018

• Gregory La Cava's My Man Godfrey
Criterion - by Seth, 2018





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Friday, December 28, 2018

Best Films of 2018


Figured I'd produce my list of the top 3 films of 2018. Not 10, 6, 24? No ma'am, not this year. Just haven't seen as many 2018 premieres as I'd wished to. My festival-going is presently on cold ice, and I'd rather 'do business' when I'm there and see market screenings than engage in what is, for the most part, the rat-race of avoiding people and listening to snap-misjudgments and lies.

The three best films I saw this year, counting down:


3. 22nd Ji.hlava IDFF (Promotional Spot)
by Jean-Luc Godard
2018
1 minute

2. Le livre d'image: Image et Parole [The Image Book: Image and Word]
by Jean-Luc Godard
2018
1 hour 32 minutes

1. The Other Side of the Wind
by Orson Welles
1976/2018
2 hours 2 minutes

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Other 2018-premiered movies I thought were truly excellent:

Aphex Twin: "T69 collapse"
by WEIRDCORE

The Tree of Life {Extended Version}
by Terrence Malick

Support the Girls
by Andrew Bujalski

Jobe'z World
by Michael M. Bilandic

Incorrectional
by Christopher James Bell

Wobble Palace
by Eugene Kotlyarenko

Better Call Saul: Season 4
by Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan

Easy: Season 2
by Joe Swanberg

Random Acts of Flyness: Season 1
by Terence Nance

Lazzaro Felice
[Happy Lazzaro]
by Alice Rohrwacher

Ayka
by Sergei Dvortsevoy

A Star Is Born
by Bradley Cooper

Here are the films that premiered this year that I really want to see but haven't yet, and I will be catching up with in the couple-months ahead. (If I'm missing any that I happen to think of after posting this, I'll just slip them in here without alert. BTW, there are a lot of movies that don't appear here, that I've seen mentioned as great exclusively by writers I either hate or whose taste/judgment I don't trust, or who haven't made any good argument in the picture's favor, so those titles are hereby excised... if I see them I see them.) Anyway, movies I'm itching for —

Monrovia, Indiana
by Frederick Wiseman

If Beale Street Could Talk
by Barry Jenkins

Four Sisters
by Claude Lanzmann

Film Catastrophe
by Paul Grivas

A Bread Factory
by Patrick Wang

Hotel by the River
by Hong Sang-soo

Grass
by Hong Sang-soo

Black Mother
by Khalik Allah

Gens du lac
by Jean-Marie Straub

Two Plains & a Fancy
by Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn

Madeline's Madeline
by Josephine Decker

Ash Is Purest White
by Jia Zhang-ke

Mandy
by Panos Cosmatos

Her Smell
by Alex Ross Perry

La flor
by Mariano Llinás

Dead Souls
by Wang Bing

Bisbee '17
by Robert Greene

Sollers Point
by Matthew Porterfield

3 Faces
by Jafar Panahi

Hale County This Morning, This Evening
by RaMell Ross

Doubles vies / Non-Fiction
by Olivier Assayas

High Life
by Claire Denis

Cold War
by Paweł Pawlikowski

Mission: Impossible: Fallout
by Christopher McQuarrie

Long Day's Journey into Night
by Bi Gan

Clara's Ghost
by Bridey Elliott

Minding the Gap
by Bing Liu

Three Identical Strangers
by Tim Wardle

Lean on Pete
by Andrew Haigh

They'll Love Me When I'm Dead
by Morgan Neville

Border
by Ali Abbasi

The Great Pretender
by Nathan Silver

Tyrel
by Sebastián Silva

Diamantino
by Daniel Schmidt and Gabriel Abrantes

Classical Period
by Ted Fendt

Roi Soleil
by Albert Serra

Your Face
by Tsai Ming-liang

The Mule
by Clint Eastwood

American Animals
by Bart Layton

We Are the Animals
by Jeremiah Zagar

Coincoin et les Z'inhumains
by Bruno Dumont

Blue
by Apichatpong Weerasethakul



The most overrated film of the year was Alfonso Cuarón's Roma which I wrote about here and which no-one has proved in writing it's a masterpiece, and the worst film I saw all year was Boots Riley's Sorry to Bother You, which I'm not alone in thinking was a complete mess, especially in the last and inane third, at least among friends who haven't gone on the record to express their thoughts on it.

Lots to look forward to in 2019...

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Poemquotes 8


"I was / offered refreshments, which I accepted. / I ate a sandwich of pure meat; an / enormous sandwich of human flesh, / I noticed, while I was chewing on it, / it also included a dirty asshole."
-Allen Ginsberg, "In Society", 1947, from Empty Mirror: Gates of Wrath (1947-1952) in Collected Poems: 1947-1980 (itself collected in its entirety within Collected Poems: 1947-1997)

"My people, what is intended / Let the cool martyr, whose distant head / Now seems a swimming dog's, explore, / Sustained in a vast disinterest. / But learn that distances are kindest / Not the correct sun striking the shore."
-John Ashbery, "A Sermon: Amos 8:11-14", 1947, from Uncollected Poems

"When you've got twelve belles in the flesh*, / Two duchesses and ten typists, / What more will you have gained / But a little lead, / A little lead in the wings**, / And not much in the brains-department."
[* A sly near-double of the French phrase “balles dans la peau” — “slugs/bullets in your flesh”. Gainsbourg is portmanteauing the idea of twelve beauties in the flesh as tantamount to being shot twelve times.]
[** “Avoir du plomb dans l’aile” refers to “being in a bad way,” say, on account of doing something that “doesn’t fly”; whereas “avoir du plomb dans la cervelle” suggests “having a good head on your shoulders.”]
-Serge Gainsbourg, "Douze belles dans la peau" [Twelve Belles in the Flesh], from Du chant à la une!... [Songs Torn from the Front Page!...], 1958, my translation

"(As if any man really knew aught of my life, / Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life, / Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections / I seek for my own use to trace out here.)"
-Walt Whitman, "When I Read the Book", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"How explicit the coiffures became / The diamond point, the sapphire point, / The sequins / Of the civil fans! // Insinuations of desire, / Puissant speech, alike in each, / Cried quittance / To the wickless halls."
-Wallace Stevens, "The Ordinary Women", from Harmonium, 1923/1931


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Monday, December 24, 2018

Roma


Stillborn in 70



"Every m(e|ovie)ment(o) thicc with that "kind-of..." post-Cuarónian mise-en-scène"

"Cuarón's movie, thick with the aroma of a masterpiece"

I liked the actress and I liked the last minutes, except (spoiler alert) for "Shantih Shantih Shantih..." Throw in a boy seer and some street riots; the soupçons de la violencia are in place. Other 'prophecies' cast backward already litter the ground. Voices carry and we drown.

Anyway, in a world where Fellini's Roma exists, it just seems like a colossal misappropriation of funding. "De las casas de Diór y de Cuarón. Una nueva fragancia. DIAROMA. Para los 'travellings'."

It makes me think of that conversation between Pialat and Godard, on the money for period films.



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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Poemquotes 7


"Introduce a nice tender heart into the bedroom. / Allow to sit, and lie back sur canapé.* / Pour one drop of port / And then take your place at the piano. / Play Chopin / With disdain."
[* “Sur canapé” suggests both an armchair/settee, being wrapped in one’s arms, and taking the form of a canapé appetizer.]
-Serge Gainsbourg, "La recette de l'amour fou" [Recipe for Amour Fou], from Du chant à la une!... [Songs Torn from the Front Page!...], 1958, my translation

"Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves / Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes, / In bosom and hair. // 'Ah, do not mourn,' he said, / 'That we are tired, for other loves await us; / Hate on and love through unrepining hours. / Before us lies eternity; our souls / Are love, and a continual farewell.'"
-W. B. Yeats, "Ephemera", from Crossways, 1889

"The water-swells, rolling the images of the skies, / Mingled in a solemn and mystical fashion / The all-powerful chords of their rich music / With the colors of the sunset reflected by my eyes."
-Charles Baudelaire, "La vie antérieure" [The Previous Life], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], "Spleen et Idéal" [Spleen and Ideal], 1857, my translation

"I grow old ... I grow old ... / I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. // Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? / I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. / I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. // I do not think that they will sing to me. // I have seen them riding seaward on the waves / Combing the white hair of the waves blown back / When the wind blows the water white and black. // We have lingered in the chambers of the sea / By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us, and we drown."
-T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", from Prufrock and Other Observations, 1917

"I raise the present on the past, / (As some perennial tree out of its roots, the present on the past,)"
-Walt Whitman, "For Him I Sing", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"Everything is inert and too large for his eyes and his heart. His head has to stay empty, and nothing could fill it. / When he finally returned there where he started from, he thought only of the little corner of earth where his life contained, where he would have, just room enough to die."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Voyages trop grands" [Trips Too Long], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"One must have a mind of winter / To regard the frost and the boughs / Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; // And have been cold a long time / To behold the junipers shagged with ice, / The spruces rough in the distant glitter // Of the January sun"
-Wallace Stevens, "The Snow Man", from Harmonium, 1923/1931


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Friday, December 14, 2018

Poemquotes 6


"I'm the ticketpuncher at les Lilas. / For Invalides change at Opéra. / I live in the heart of the planet. / I've got / A confetti-carnival inside my head. / I bring it back up to my bed / And beneath my ceramic sky / I only see the connections twinkling."
-Serge Gainsbourg, "Le poinçonneur des Lilas" [The Ticketpuncher at les Lilas], from Du chant à la une!... [Songs Torn from the Front Page!...], 1958, my translation

"Autumn is over the long leaves that love us, / And over the mice in the barley sheaves; / Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us, / And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves."
-W. B. Yeats, "The Falling of the Leaves", from Crossways, 1889

"Far from the famous sepulchres, / Towards an isolated cemetery, / My heart, like a veiled drum, / Goes beating out funeral marches."
-Charles Baudelaire, "Le guignon" [The Jinx], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], "Spleen et Idéal" [Spleen and Ideal], 1857, my translation

"But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: / Would it have been worth while / If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, / And turning toward the window, should say: / 'That is not it at all, / That is not what I meant, at all.'"
-T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", from Prufrock and Other Observations, 1917

"But the table and the lamp are here awaiting me, and everything else has died of rage beneath the door."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Des êtres vagues" [Vague Beings], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"Was it a cry against the twilight / Or against the leaves themselves / Turning in the wind, / Turning as the flames / Turned in the fire, / Turning as the tails of the peacocks // Turned in the loud fire, / Loud as the hemlocks / Full of the cry of the peacocks? / Or was it a cry against the hemlocks?"
-Wallace Stevens, "Domination of Black", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

"The old, old urge, / Based on the ancient pinnacles, lo, newer, higher pinnacles, / From science and the modern still impell'd, / The old, old urge, eidólons."
-Walt Whitman, "Eidólons", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

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Poemquotes 5


"— My soul is a tomb in which, / Since eternity, I, bad cenobite, move and dwell; / Nothing embellishes the walls of this odious cloister."
-Charles Baudelaire, "Le mauvais moine" [The Bad Monk], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], "Spleen et Idéal" [Spleen and Ideal], 1857, my translation

"The rumpling of the plumes / Of this creature of the evening / Came to be sleights of sails / Over the sea. // And thus she roamed / In the roamings of her fan, // Partaking of the sea, / And of the evening, / As they flowed around / And uttered their subsiding sound."
-Wallace Stevens, "Infanta Marina", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

"With my nails I clawed the partition and, piece by piece, I made a hole in the right-hand wall. This was a window and the sun that wanted to blind me wasn't able to keep me from looking out."
-Pierre Reverdy, "L'esprit sort" [The Spirit Exits], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"How when we die our shades will rove, / When eve has hushed the feathered ways, / With vapoury footsole by the water's drowsy blaze."
-W. B. Yeats, "The Indian to His Love", from Crossways, 1889

"These recitatives for thee, — my book and the war are one, / Merged in its spirit I and mine, as the contest hinged on thee, / As a wheel on its axis turns, this book unwitting to itself, / Around the idea of thee."
-Walt Whitman, "To Thee Old Cause", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

November 2018: Best Disc Supplements


Every month I'll be highlighting some of the best Blu-ray and DVD supplements (along with Criterion Channel features upon its return in Spring 2019). Too often these pieces are overlooked or given the most cursory mention in reviews (or on sites like DVDBeaver where they take a back seat to "A/V" assessment and are usually copy-and-pasted from the Special Features text from the relevant label's website). Pieces cited don't necessarily hail from new releases; rather come from whatever I've been watching that particular month. They represent the very best in supplementary material — critical, historical, personal — above and beyond the status quo.

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• "Mistress of Ceremonies" by Imogen Sara Smith / 2018 essay on Marlene Dietrich, in the booklet for Criterion's Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood boxset

• "Where Credit Is Due" by Farran Smith Nehme / 2018 essay on von Sternberg's and Dietrich's unsung collaborators, in the booklet for Criterion's Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood boxset

• Interview with Deborah Nadoolman Landis / 2018 interview on Marlene Dietrich's costumes and their designer Travis Banton, on the disc for Blonde Venus in Criterion's Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood boxset

• Interview with Silke Ronneburg / 2018 interview with the Deutsche Kinemathek curator about the museum's Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin, on the disc for Blonde Venus in Criterion's Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood boxset

• Interview with Marlene Dietrich / from 1971 on Danish TV's Ettan gästar, on the disc for The Scarlet Empress in Criterion's Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood boxset

• Monocles and Cigars: Simon Callow on Charles Laughton in Witness for the Prosecution / filmed by Robert Fischer in 2018, on the disc for The Masters of Cinema Series' Witness for the Prosecution

• On-Set Footage from Female Trouble / filmed by Steve Yeager in 1973, with 2018 audio commentary by John Waters, on the disc for Criterion's Female Trouble

• Decoding The Color of Pomegranates / narrated and written by James Steffen, edited by Stephen Gurewitz, in 2018, on the disc for Criterion's The Color of Pomegranates

• "Let the Wind Speak" by Kent Jones / 2018 essay in the booklet for Criterion's The Tree of Life

• Jessica Chastain: The Tree of Life / 2018 interview with the actress on auditioning for and working with Malick, on the disc for Criterion's The Tree of Life

• Natural Cubism: The Tree of Life / 2018 annotated video essay by Benjamin B with incredible technical insights shared in voice interviews by cinematographer Emmanuel (Chivo) Lubezki and production designer Jack Fisk, on the disc for Criterion's The Tree of Life

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Cover and Package Design:

• Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life
Criterion - by Neil Kellerhouse, 2018






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Poemquotes 4


"The night spawned thousandfold monsters, / Yet fresh and cheerful was my mood: / In my veins such fire! / In my heart such ardor!"
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Willkommen und Abschied" [Welcome and Parting], 1775/1789, my translation

"To earn your nightly bread, you must, / Like an altar-boy, swing the censer, / Sing Te Deums in which you barely believe"
-Charles Baudelaire, "La muse vénale" [The Venal Muse], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], "Spleen et Idéal" [Spleen and Ideal], 1857, my translation

"I shall whisper / Heavenly labials in a world of gutturals. / It will undo him."
-Wallace Stevens, "The Plot Against the Giant", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

"A little way within the gloom a roebuck raised his eyes / Brimful of starlight, and he said: The Stamper of the Skies / He is a gentle roebuck; for how else, I pray, could He / Conceive a thing so sad and soft, a gentle thing like me?"
-W. B. Yeats, "The Indian Upon God", from Crossways, 1889

"Maybe I'll have lost the key, and everyone around me laughs, and each one shows me an enormous key hanging from his neck. // I'm the only one to have nothing to get in somewhere."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Belle étoile" [Beautiful Star], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"Chanter of Personality, outlining what is yet to be, / I project the history of the future."
-Walt Whitman, "To a Historian", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas."
-T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", from Prufrock and Other Observations, 1917

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Poemquotes 3


"Vijaya. I will wait here, Amrita. // Anashuya. By mighty Brahma's ever-rustling robe, / Who is Amrita? Sorrow of all sorrows! / Another fills your mind. // Vijaya. My mother's name."
-W. B. Yeats, "Anashuya and Vijaya", from Crossways, 1889

"Between the 4 walls of this low-slung room moved dark spirits, and others extremely light and luminous. / A nearly naked man entered in the middle of these webs and in these expanses of ice and desert."
-Pierre Reverdy, "L'intrus" [The Intruder], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"I heard that you ask'd for something to prove this puzzle the New World, / And to define America, her athletic Democracy, / Therefore I send you my poems that you behold in them what you wanted."
-Walt Whitman, "To Foreign Lands" (whole poem presented here), from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"Have the greenish succubus and the rose elf / Poured you fear and love from their urns? / Has the nightmare, with a despotic and mutinous grip, / Drowned you at the bottom of a fabled Minturnae?"
-Charles Baudelaire, "La muse malade" [The Sick Muse], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], "Spleen et Idéal" [Spleen and Ideal], 1857, my translation

"She too is discontent / And would have purple stuff upon her arms"
-Wallace Stevens, "The Paltry Nude Starts on a Spring Voyage", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Poemquotes 2


" 'What do you weave with wool so white?' // 'I weave the shoes of Sorrow: / Soundless shall be the footfall light / In all men's ears of Sorrow, / Sudden and light.' "
-W. B. Yeats, "The Cloak, the Boat, and the Shoes", from Crossways, 1889

"His head fearfully took shelter beneath the lamp shade. It is green, and his eyes are red. There's a musician who doesn't move. He sleeps; his severed hands play violin to make him forget his poverty."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Les poètes" [The Poets], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"By sailors young and old haply will I, a reminiscence of the land, be read, / In full rapport at last."
-Walt Whitman, "In Cabin'd Ships at Sea", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"Cybele, then, fertile in generous yields, / Found not her sons too costly a weight, / But, she-wolf with heart swollen by common tendernesses, / Fed the universe at her brown teats."
-Charles Baudelaire, "J'aime le souvenir de ces époques nues" [I Love the Memory of Those Naked Epochs], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], "Spleen et Idéal" [Spleen and Ideal], 1857, my translation

"Timeless mother, / How is it that your aspic nipples / For once vent honey? // The pine-tree sweetens my body. / The white iris beautifies me."
-Wallace Stevens, "In the Carolinas", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

"How I love you / With warm blood, / For you give me youth / And joy and mood // For new songs / And dances. / Be ever happy / In the same way that you love me!"
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Mailied" [May-Song], 1775, my translation

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; / There will be time to murder and create, / And time for all the works and days of hands / That lift and drop a question on your plate"
-T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", from Prufrock and Other Observations, 1917

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Poemquotes 1


New feature: excerpts from poets I'm currently reading.

"Then nowise worship dusty deeds, / Nor seek, for this is also sooth, / To hunger fiercely after truth, / Lest all thy toiling only breeds / New dreams, new dreams; there is no truth / Saving in thine own heart. Seek, then, / No learning from the starry men, / Who follow with the optic glass / The whirling ways of stars that pass —"
-W. B. Yeats, "The Song of the Happy Shepherd", from Crossways, 1889

"And he called loudly to the stars to bend / From their pale thrones and comfort him, but they / Among themselves laugh on and sing alway: / And then the man whom Sorrow named his friend / Cried out, Dim sea, hear my most piteous story!"
-W. B. Yeats, "The Sad Shepherd", from Crossways, 1889

"let's go elsewhere where no-one else looks."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Plus loin que là" [Further Away Than Here], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"Does the smoke come from their chimneys, or from our pipes?"
-Pierre Reverdy, "Toujours seul" [Always Alone], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power, / Cheerful, for freest action form'd under the laws divine, / The Modern Man I sing."
-Walt Whitman, "One's-Self I Sing", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"Lo, I too am come, chanting the chants of battles, / I above all promote brave soldiers."
-Walt Whitman, "As I Ponder'd in Silence", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"It's Ennui! — his eye laden with an involuntary tear, / He dreams scaffolds, smoking his hookah. / You know him, reader, that delicate monster, / — Hypocrite reader, — my likeness, — my brother!" -Charles Baudelaire, "Au lecteur" [To the Reader], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], 1857, my translation

"The Poet is similar to the prince of clouds / Haunting the tempest and laughing at the archer; / Exiled on the soil in the midst of jeers, / His giant's wings keep him from walking."
-Charles Baudelaire, "L'albatros" [The Albatross], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], "Spleen et Idéal" [Spleen and Ideal], 1857, my translation

"Every time the bucks went clattering / Over Oklahoma / A firecat bristled in the way." -Wallace Stevens, "Earthy Anecdote", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

"Behold, already on the long parades / The crows anoint the statues with their dirt."
-Wallace Stevens, "Invective Against Swans", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

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Monday, October 08, 2018

The Man with a Shotgun



Buckshot Points



(All images are iPhone photos taken of frames of the film playing from the Arrow Blu-ray.)

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The Suzuki/western trope of the drifter passing through a locale; good guy, bad syndicate. The western, but set in a locale more like the Pacific Northwest than the barren avenues, the badlands. Staged on Mt. Shūrei, The Man with a Shotgun [Shotgun no otoko, 1961] positions itself within the line of Japanese forest pictures, but in this instance the movie is framed from high angles, the perspective of the calm hovering predator (Floating Clouds, fate) as opposed to the vertiginous groundedness of the prey (Rashōmon, chaos).

Ryōji (Hideaki Nitani) arrives at the Nishioka Lumbermill on the pretense of a hunting excursion. (Mumbles one local: "Everyone who comes here has some secrets.") Three badmen — the bodyguards of the owner Nishioka (Akio Tanaka) — trail Ryōji through the sloping forest paths on the way into town, then mount an ambush which the drifter will reverse before continuing onward. From here, and across repeated attempts on the part of the assailants to subdue Ryōji, Suzuki cuts up and confuses space. One of the brigands rematerializes at the distant end of a handmade suspension bridge Ryōji's in the process of crossing, and chops at a support rope until the latter plunges into the stream below. Cut to: A near identical bridge, the villains crossing in a now expanded group look right out of frame and find Ryōji sunbathing on the rocks, his clothes drying out nearby.

Most of Suzuki in this era involves two characters talking plot logistics. Psychology an afterthought. 'Act drastically.' — But Suzuki was hired to direct these bum scenarios handed down from the main office of Nikkatsu. It was a hell studio. The scripts contain a lot of 'I'll back down this time — but next time I won't!' + the avoidance of the just-stated threat, no shooting the opponent dead. But here, for instance, in The Man with a Shotgun, we're already inside a lawless alpine town.

end of what I have to say right now

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More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

8-jikan no kyōfu [8 Hours' Terror, 1957]

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Kemono no nemuri [The Sleep of the Beast, 1960]

Mikkō 0 Line [0-Line Stowaway, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōkyō knight [Tokyo Knights, 1961]

Shotgun no otoko [The Man with a Shotgun, 1961]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tokyo Knights



Extemplary Cuffmail



(All images are iPhone photos taken of frames of the film playing from the Arrow Blu-ray.)

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Kōji Matsubara (Kōji Wada) is the scion of a construction syndicate in Suzuki's 1961 color film Tokyo Knights [Tōkyō knight]. His father was chucked off a cliff. Kōji studied for a time in America then returned to Japan to finish high-school at a Catholic prep called Elizabeth. He graduates from one school club audition to the next, excelling in each and surpassing every student member, before settling at last in the music club, instructed by an American of the Beat vein who praises Kōji's natural dynamics with an earnest: "Sugeiiii."

His mother kind-of-loves a man, Mishima (Nobuo Kaneko), whom she doesn't want to suspect killed Kōji's father. Mother and Kōji are, let's figure, twenty years apart, with he being 17. (No relation, as one might by now begin to infer, with the Kōji Wada pop-star of Digimon fame who, like our Kōji, also died at the mature age of 42.) The Ozu theme of younger-motherhood and son-love snakes around in the background, but it's Mom's best friend who wants to make a move on the shachō-to-be: "How does my kimono look?" before greeting him; then: "There's no way [the company] will work out well if [Kōji] gets married, you know..."

About the cufflinks, then I'll wrap this up: One was discovered at the site of Kōji's father's death; he was pushed off a rocky crag. The Tokutake Syndicate did cahoots with Matsubara. Tokutake-san and Mishima (proxy-Matsubara head while Kōji's still distracted at school) tried to rig the bid for a roadworks contract. Tokutake hands out these prize cufflinks to his capi.

On-and-on it goes to the end, culminating (nearly) in a spectacular noh-stage set-piece in which Suzuki finally gets to let it rip a little. Above immediate stagecraft the poker-faces of feelings — an indistinguishability between men and women lovers in genre Japanese '60s milieux, beyond a prowess for the wielding of (inherited) power and the feigned acquiescence to the palanquin and the pretty face — nevertheless still preside.


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More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

8-jikan no kyōfu [8 Hours' Terror, 1957]

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Kemono no nemuri [The Sleep of the Beast, 1960]

Mikkō 0 Line [0-Line Stowaway, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōkyō knight [Tokyo Knights, 1961]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

0-Line Stowaway



Hong Kong Smuggled Pieces



(All images are iPhone photos taken of frames of the film playing off the Arrow Blu-ray.)

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This is the story of the directed-by-Seijun Suzuki 0-Line Stowaway [Mikkō 0 Line, 1960]. —

Katori (Hiroyuki Nagato) works as an investigative reporter for the Kyōkuto Shinbun.

The 0-Line is the ship that runs between Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Katori's friend Nishina (Yūji Kodaka) is a less intrepid, less five-o'-clock, less thumb-in-the-sternum investi活火山 for rival paper the Nitto Shinbun.

Katori set up Reiko Saeki (Sanae Nakahara) for drug-trafficking. His stock-in-trade is the set-up. After Reiko it's her brother, or husband, or something, Katori's and Nishina's classmate, in a bust. When the 'force' rains down in pursuit he chomps his own tongue and dies instantly from blood-loss!

Journalists in Suzuki act like police, keisatsu with impunity.

Another man nabbed at Yaesu bites off his (own) tongue, as well.

Katori's sister Sumiko (Mayumi Shimizu) announces baseball games.

Sōmei Ryū (actor unknown?) heads a trading company. His goons beat hell out of Katori.

This woman mutters, "His strength's no match for your violent power."

You won't believe it but Akiko Sugie's been found dead in Hong Kong of murder or suicide, and her passport hadn't been issued, so — this means she was smuggled.

One challenge in Suzuki is for the viewer to take these convoluted broken-wings of scenarios as filmed and fly and turn them into their own (perceived) movie.

Nishina reads in the newspaper Katori has gone missing. Nishina goes into the semi-demimonde to find a boat to sneak him to Hong Kong. He makes the arrangements. His editor approves; he'll carry a concealed passport.

He manages his way onboard the vessel posing as a Chinese national. A party's raging in the lower quarters; it's American G.I.s and female Japanese sex-slaves.

Nishina's exposed. Thrown to the brig, he encounters Katori imprisoned makeshift too on the boat's lower coal deck. Nishina pummels Katori, then they align. The duo trigger the ship's fire alarms. Police arrive at the craft, still docked. Reiko Saeki tells Katori that Sōmei Ryū is her father. She shoots him in the calf, assuming Katori will never let her or her father get away free.

The cops were summoned by Nishina and Katori via Morse code by way of a torn electrical cable dabbed against a steel pipe in the coal hold.

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More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

8-jikan no kyōfu [8 Hours' Terror, 1957]

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Kemono no nemuri [The Sleep of the Beast, 1960]

Mikkō 0 Line [0-Line Stowaway, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

8 Hours' Terror



Follow the Bouncing Bus



(All images are iPhone photos taken of frames of the film playing off the Arrow Blu-ray of the film.)

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If Paul McCartney were a student of the art of the Japanese cinema, he might refer to Suzuki's 1957 8 Hours' Terror [8-jikan no kyōfu] as a really quite sugoi little yarn. It's short and to the point — a story about the passengers on a suspension-challenged autobus getting from point A to point B after rail service to the outskirts of Tokyo has been suspended due to landslide. Before pulling out of the station, word hits that two bank robbers are on the lam in the vicinity of the bus route: to be honest, a rather wide danger-berth for a multi-hour drive, narrow and precarious though the starkly elevated mountain roads may be. The 1 hour 17 minutes of 8 Hours' Terror compress the journey, a play on time and space facilitated by the 1.37 ratio of the frame (here practically an accordion at rest in Suzuki-form), in which inevitability and improbability commingle: of course the robbers will show up to commandeer the transport; and after one of them bites it after being baited by the resident whore into a literal bear-trap (he screams in agony, "I'll tell the cops everything!" before his partner shoots him in the head), the surviving crook shows up on foot to lay siege to the bus once again after it's covered x number of kilometers. Jason Voorhees avant la lettre?

"So many different people on the bus! It's fate, isn't it!" remarks a craven lingerie salesman. The types onboard conform in shorthand to the assemblages in Maupassant's Boule de Suif [1880] and Ford's Stagecoach [1939] — the prostitute carrying a snapshot of a convalescing black G.I.; the badman who turns a new leaf for the sake of the group (and trawls a darker undercurrent than usually seen in these tales: a newspaper makes reference to his crime with the headline "WAR RETURNEE KILLS WIFE AND NEW HUSBAND"). We also acknowledge the debt owed to masterpieces by Shimizu (Arigatō-san [1936]) and Capra (It Happened One Night [1934]).

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More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

8-jikan no kyōfu [8 Hours' Terror, 1957]

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Kemono no nemuri [The Sleep of the Beast, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]

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Friday, May 25, 2018

The Sleep of the Beast



Tangling-Up Toward Inevitability



(All images are iPhone photos taken of frames of the film playing off the Arrow Blu-ray of the film.)

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The title The Sleep of the Beast [Kemono no nemuri, 1960] resonates in two ways distinct from one another depending on whether you read the title of Suzuki's 1963 breakthrough in English — Youth of the Beast — or in its original Japanese — Yajū no seishun. The titles don't have much in common with one another at first glance — the movies themselves don't, full-stop — but the internal emancipation of fueled rage and concentrated vengeance mark both pictures, and indeed all of Suzuki's films. The sleight of hand here is the difference between kemono (beast) and yajū (beast). According to the online Jisho dictionary, kemono connotes "beast, brute, animal," with a throw to "the Number of the Beast." Yajū suggests "wild beast, wild animal." Perhaps a difference in degree? Of savagery? The Sleep of the Beast vs. Youth of the Savage Beast? The latter's the wilder picture with the wilder motivations...

The Sleep of the Beast in short involves a businessman father Junpei Ueki (Shunsuke Ashida) who, embittered by his company years without a respectful compensation, takes the leap risk of smuggling heroin out of Hong Kong on a cruise-liner back to Japan on the eve of his retirement. After disappearing from his family for a spell after docking, he pops back into their lives brushing his absence off as the requirements of more business. His daughter Keiko (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) and, more astutely, her newspaperman love-interest Shōtarō Kasai (Hiroyuki Nagato) smell some flood aloft in the situation. So the suspicions, and the policier aspect of the plot, kick into place, and Shōtarō sticks his bloodhound compulsion onto the trail, not for glory, and maybe not even for the sake of love.

This will shift now into pure plot synopsis. Why? Because the tangling of the threads define the essence of The Sleep of the Beast. This is early Suzuki working off a script which just goes on and on; he finds a little bit to really flash in the few moments where he can get some air. But look at this:

After Junpei's re-emergence, he takes a job as a ship's chandler for the Kōei Trading Company. His network associate Komatsu (Kōjirō Kusanagi) bears a scar on his right hand that Shōtarō had warned Keiko about once, given his leads on the crime trail, and she witnesses it herself when she and her mother are visiting their father at his new place of employment, Kōei, so that the family might go out to lunch together. At the lunch, Junpei spots his boss sitting at a nearby table, and Junpei takes the requisite bow, with one Reverend Nagamine (Tsutomo Shimamoto) joining the boss: the latter is the head of the "Sun God Cult." He's a good cult guy, Junpei remonstrates. Following their lunch he takes the family to see a house he's interested in buying there in Yokohama which will eliminate his commute from Tokyo to get to Kōei.

Heroin-thief Satō (played by I don't know whom) collapses in the Hama Hall jazz bar. The newspaper people say they're calling it a sleeping pill OD, but the autopsy comes back saying he's been dosed with something called Luminal, a powder that dissolves in liquid...

Dead Satō's wife is a member of the Sun God Cult. She has a link with Wong (player zero_sub1). Also dead. Both he and Satō are wound up in this heroin deal of Junpei's on the way back from Hong Kong... when all the junk was stolen from his bag. A woman there at the sect's main HQ also identifies one Maki (player zero_sub2) who works in a Yokohama dry-cleaners. Shōtarō tracks him down — the launderers is a drug-front. Maki escapes out the back with the drugs and Shōtarō's in pursuit; the former visits Hama Hall. He passes off the drugs to Komatsu. Shōtarō corners Maki outside the club, and Maki attacks him with a razor concealed inside his shirt-cuff. The crook escapes, but a pair of cops on the same trail choke Shōtarō out figuring he was Maki's associate in the pell-mell hubbub; they were monitoring the heroin deal.

Shōtarō explains to Keiko that her father brought the heroin from Hong Kong. "Wild beasts sleep in the hearts of all of us," he reflects. "Sometimes the beast awakens."

This brings us to what I see as the key dilemma of the film:

Keiko implores: "Why couldn't you have just left [my father] alone??"

Shōtarō responds: "I don't know.... Because I'm a newspaper reporter."

She asks him to keep all this dirt to himself till she says he can release it. Shōtarō in typical journalist/Japanese-movie fashion counters: "I'm a reporter! I can't ignore a scoop!"

Reverend Nagamine gets a call from the Kōei boss informing him the cops caught Maki. They suggest sending Komatsu (BTW: the two policemen who were trailing him after he got the drugs have wound up dead) to the sect's private island off Kure till the heat cools down.

Maki, now in custody, uses the toilet at the police barracks to take the opportunity to slash his carotid with that same hidden razor and commit suicide.

Keiko confronts her father Junpei with all his crimes. "No-one forced me," he responds. "All those years of hard work were in vain." When the drugs were stolen from him on the ship back from Hong Kong, he offered his full retirement payment as compensation to the Kōei buyers — but that 3 million yen added up to barely one-tenth of the value of the stolen drugs. Satō and Wong were the thieves, and once they were dead, and the drugs came back, Junpei had little choice but to join the Kōei syndicate; he was afraid he'd be killed if he didn't.

Now, there's some bar-hostess named Hiroko (player y_sub1) who was friends with an earlier hostess Akemi (player y_sub2) from Hama Hall, but the former's moved on to the Blue Moon Bar. This all gets a little hazy for me. Shōtarō tracks down Hiroko, gets shit-faced with her at the Blue Moon, then let's himself get taken to her pad. She drops Luminal in his drink. Hours pass and she admits she drugged and killed Satō and Wong in the aftermath of their steal. Problem for her is Shōtarō fake-drank his whiskey while pouring it on his left breast, all while recording her confession via a pen-microphone that the whole time radio'ed-out to his associate in the hallway with a reel-to-reel. Shōtarō calls Junpei and plays it back for him.

Junpei visits the Sun God temple and alters the propane set-up so there's no flame, but still gas output. After an argument with his Kōei associates he flicks a lighter and blows the place sky-high. It's like the end of Underworld Beauty [Ankokukgai no bijo, 1958]. Finally Junpei blasts himself with pistol to the heart.

This isn't Suzuki at his best, it's early in his game and he's struggling with the assigned material, but he uses an expressionist trick twice when he superimposes a narrator zoomed-out over the play-out of some flashback material. Just enough gunpowder and drug-powder to land home the Nikkatsu essentials.

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More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Kemono no nemuri [The Sleep of the Beast, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]

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