Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Thing from Another World


BURN THE FLORATUS / WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A VEGETABLE BOIL IT



(All images are details from iPhone photos taken of the film playing from the Warner Bros. Blu-ray.)

===

No big stars among the Air Force crew, mostly character actors you might recognize from a handful of RKOs, and a humanoid alien of eight feet in length trapped under ice.

The confines onboard the plane when the squad brings back the pick-axed chunk of ice-submerged humanoid are pretty tight, a reset of the Air Force set, and one of the guys reading "Air Force Magazine”... Grazing over the Arctic this is literally the Cold War, no sign of Korea just yet but...

But some good-natured ripostes shoot through the crew: ribbing the captain’s sartorial discipline an underling gets clapped back — “Would you like to do double-guard-duty tonight?” A visiting camp nurse once made as big an impression on the fellas as this ice-encased xenonoid: “Say, what ever happened to that nurse?” Good healthy stuff.

A nervous humor among nervous men.

Preposterous, service-men dorms where colleagues electric-shave, but how else could it be, even in the face of extraterrestrial derangement? This one NDO (nondescript officer), he comes through, alerts the pork-faced lead, smudged Gabin (Kenneth Tobey) that he's starting to be able to see through the ice at these hands... They talk to each other looking at their watches like ‘50s homosexuals whispering at the eleventh hour...

Then the nightclub ambience, the only menopausal woman out of two, Margaret Sheridan, better even than ever-exhausting Ann in Hawks’ previous picture, I Was a Male War Bride; the rental period for Golden Exits has ended... ”You can tie my hands if you want?" "That might not be such a bad idea..." "I mean that." "You suggested it." "Alright, I'll bring a rope." One of the most erotic exchanges in Hollywood cinema since Josef von Sternberg or Edgar G. Ulmer’s The Black Cat. She ties Tobey up to an office chair and all but promises to shove a cake-mixer in his crotch. Jump forward four minutes and it’s Karl Freund’s The Mummy (the anglo bumbling male jack-ass wasn’t invented in ‘90s media). Romero, J-horror... Carpenter... “A smear of… plant-sap….” — As Rivette wrote in his first published article, “Nous ne sommes plus innocents” (“We Are No Longer Innocent”), in 1950 at the age of 22: “on réalise des films de synthèse, inexperte encore et naïve, d’où toute sève s’était enfuie.” He was not speaking of Hawks here (he hadn’t encountered him fully by this early point due to circulation-scarcity outside of the ciné-clubs; give the hitchcocko-hawksiens a couple more years to embellish their program) or even other unnamed in anything but what I take to be a neutral register. Dr. Carrington: “There are only phenomena to study...” ‘Are,’ then ‘why??’ —

The secret lives of plants, the movies themselves: forever silent over subtext, but apply the stethoscope and you hear “almost the screaming of a newborn child who’s hungry...” — movies, or cinephiles? The creature here is made of Beyond Meat, and this “thing” about whether Hawks produced and helmed, or did Nyby co-realize: I always imagine Christian Nyby resembling Lee Harvey Oswald…

“What’s Carrington doing with 35 units of blood-plasma, Nikki?”



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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

So Dark the Night


Footprints


1946. A film that in the first half hour has the feel of a series ("the Inspecteur Cassin movies" if you will), then continues in the milieu of a Clouzot or Whale, all the while consistently exhibiting the invention of a Lewis (Joseph or Jerome).

A twist premise shifts into a conceit in which Cassin commits his own homicide...

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Previous pieces on Joseph H. Lewis at Cinemasparagus:

My Name Is Julia Ross [1945]

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My Name Is Julia Ross


Fingerprints




(All images are iPhone photos taken of frames of the film playing off The Criterion Channel.)

1945. No passwords to escape the house that beetles o'er its base: neither preceding, contemporary, or prophetic: not Gaslight; The Lady Vanishes; Rebecca; Suspicion; Notorious; Secret Beyond the Door...; Sisters...

Precipices in the "woman's hysteria" film drasticize the plunge and the drown and plasticize the stately manor exterior as the shell of the internal labyrinth: a hidden room for rape the-while Nina Foch’s knocked out. Menace us all, the shadow of the hand (George Macready's, Paths of Glory) across the landscape of Julia's breast, when come the end his claw lies limp in one last close-up, erased by the surf.



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Previous pieces on Joseph H. Lewis at Cinemasparagus:

So Dark the Night [1946]

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

While the City Sleeps


Newsprints


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

The title of Fritz Lang's second-to-last American film not only suggests the midnight killer but also the night-shift of the newspaper/TV office whose craven figures jump to break details on the menacing killer story as soon as quick. —

"Item 7 — You're a mama's boy." This address from the TV by Dana Andrews in his best Orson Welles, as the killer watches in PJs, certainly constitutes one of the most wrecking and complicated mixed-up portrayals ever "committed" to film in this messy '56 when it needed to most be so. Fritz Lang had one shoulder over the velvet shoulder-padding, and he wanted to examine youth-horror crime more if he could literally see, and get the insurance through to do so, throughout the '60s. Slick PJs-Johnny doesn't know if he's a boy or he's a girl, like in "Sheila Take a Bow", that Smiths song.

Creepy-crawly business in the second-half about whether the husbands' and wives' affairs' can be rationalized... Lang goes back to this thing about dialogue dukings-out in living rooms, as, big, drama! And yet — the characters don't recognize these rooms as the rocket-chambers of Frau im Mond.

The whole office goes sex sick. "Put Nancy's picture in the paper." Why bother? She storms out on Mobley/Andrews and the Lipstick Killer's already ready to pounce! "The final insolence. Broad DAYLIGHT!" Daytime during work-hours in NYC apartments with bleaching sun! White terror wallpaint, white terror curtain gaps! Then the climax —

Terror re: a tunneled train. You might ask yourself: 'Where have I seen this before?' Unsure myself, but audiences first saw it here: While the City Sleeps.

... — And yet 15 minutes still to go. In this final act we're clued to the skullduggery in the politics of ink-and-print, Ida Lupino making her final gesture, a tonality closer to Milestone's The Front Page than Hawks' His Girl Friday.

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Previous pieces on Fritz Lang at Cinemasparagus:

Der müde Tod [1921]

Die Nibelungen: Siegfrieds Tod [1924]

Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache [1924]

Spione [1928]

Frau im Mond. [1929]

M [1931]

Human Desire [1954]


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March 2019 - 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 April 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.

===

• The House of Lang / 2017 20-minute video essay by the always terrific David Cairns included on the 2018 Arrow Secret Beyond the Door disc. A thorough overview of Lang's Career of Themes with a special focus on the director's Hollywood period: its presiding visual aesthetic: "the starkness: bare walls and barren places"; the prominence of Fate and of Guilt; the rivalry (second phase of agon?) with Hitchcock, most obviously in Secret Beyond the Door's relationship to Rebecca; the house as metaphor for for Lang’s psychological interior (Michael Redgrave's character's surname “Lamphear” derives from the Welsh for “great house").

• Restoring Detour / 2018 11-minute interview piece with Mike Pogorzelski, director of the Academy Film Archive, and film preservationist Heather Linville, also of the archive, discussing the hurdles across ten years of searching for elements to execute a proper pristine 4K restoration of Ulmer's film. Included on the 2019 Blu-ray of Detour from Criterion.



===

Best Films Included Alongside a Title Feature:

Directed by Andrej Tarkovskij
by Michał Leszczyłowski, 1966
included in the 2018 Kino edition of The Sacrifice



===

Cover and Package Design:

• Joseph H. Lewis's The Big Combo
Arrow - Scott Saslow, 2018


• Robert Siodmak's Phantom Lady
Arrow - designer unknown?


• Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour
Criterion - illustrator Jennifer Dionisio and designer Eric Skillman


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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Poemquotes 11


"An eye closes // At the back pushed up against the wall / the thought not taking leave // Of ideas vanishes steadily // One could die / What I hold between my arms could leave // A dream"
-Pierre Reverdy, "Auberge" [Inn], from Les ardoises du toit [The Roof's Slates], 1918, my translation

"O unwisely the spring / Piles up its dangerous architecture!"
-John Ashbery, "Why We Forget Dreams", 1948, from Uncollected Poems

"Beginning my studies the first step pleas'd me so much, / The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion"
-Walt Whitman, "Beginning My Studies", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

" "Mother of heaven, regina of the clouds, / O sceptre of the sun, crown of the moon, / There is not nothing, no, no, never nothing, / Like the clashed edges of two words that kill." "
-Wallace Stevens, "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

"That’s all you’ll have left of my pathetic lines, / My literature you didn’t give a flying shit about; / It’s all you’ll have left to remind you of the men, / Those past fuckwads of yours who’ll never look your way again; / It’s the only mirror you won’t be ugly in — / It’s guaranteed for eternity. / Good old Ronsard was no fool / When he said that to his stuck-up bitch..."
-Serge Gainsbourg, "Ronsard 58", from Du chant à la une!... [Songs Torn from the Front Page!...], 1958, my translation

"I wander on, and wave my hands, / And sing, and shake my heavy locks. / The grey wolf knows me; by one ear / I lead along the woodland deer; / The hares run by me growing bold. / They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old."
-W. B. Yeats, "The Madness of King Goll", from Crossways, 1889

"Pull my daisy, / Tip my cup, / Cut my thoughts / For coconuts,"
-Allen Ginsberg, "Fie My Fum", 1949, from Empty Mirror: Gates of Wrath (1947-1952) in Collected Poems: 1947-1980 (itself collected in its entirety within Collected Poems: 1947-1997)

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Saturday, March 02, 2019

February 2019: 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 April 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.

===

• Burden of Faith: Tarkovsky's Final Sacrifice / 2018 35-minute conversation included on the 2018 Kino The Sacrifice disc with editor and filmmaker Michał Leszczyłowski conducted by Robert Sweeney on editing and shooting The Sacrifice while Tarkovsky was slowly dying. A great document not only of the final passage of Tarkovsky at work (who, by the way, looked as healthy and on-point as could be during the making of the movie), but of loyalty and sensitivity in last devotion to get Tarkovsky's job done.

• Audio Commentary by Godfrey Cheshire on Gabbeh / Feature-length audio commentary recorded for the 2018 Arrow Blu-ray set Mohsen Makhmalbaf: The Poetic Trilogy: three films beautifully restored by Arrow and Makhmalbaf from new scans. A lucid, systematic analysis of Makhmalbaf's 1996 masterpiece. Cheshire passes through the history of Iranian cinema with a special focus on post-Revolutionary works, discussing such topics as the usage of color as a political act (and statement with regard to expressive freedoms in the cities versus the rural areas and the populace of nomadic tribespeople); the women presented here in finery beyond the chador; pre-Islamic monuments and tombs; Mohsen Makhmalbaf performing in woman's dress; Iranian cinema and restrictions on violence; "one of the greatest cuts in all of cinema"; looks cut by the censors, lest they suggest desire. (This is the only film of the three features included in the Arrow set to be accompanied by an audio commentary.)




===

Best Films Included Alongside a Title Feature:

Directed by Andrej Tarkovskij
by Michał Leszczyłowski, 1966
included in the 2018 Kino edition of The Sacrifice


===

Cover and Package Design:

• Masaki Kobayashi's The Human Condition
Arrow - designer unknown, 2016


===

Saturday, February 02, 2019

January 2019: 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 April 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.

===

• Laine and Abel: An Interview with the Driller Killer / 2016 18-minute conversation with Abel Ferrara conducted by an off-screen Brad Stevens, shot for the Arrow edition of Ferrara's The Driller Killer, presented in a 4K Arrow restoration from the original camera negative. Abel speaks from a screening room about early films as warm-up- and preamble-movies, the problems with making pornos in the '70s in the US, and how you don't need an Olivier to play the fucking Driller Killer.

• Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara and Brad Stevens on The Driller Killer / 2016 feature-length audio commentary between Abel and Brad for the Arrow edition of the film — entirely different from the commentary recorded back in the day for the Cult Epics DVD release. Freewheeling and full of anecdotes around late 1970s New York, and the economics of life and independent film at the time in the place. "She killed the cinematographer."

• "The Pre-Release Version" by Brad Stevens / 2016 essay in the booklet for Arrow's The Driller Killer detailing all the shots and their respective lengths cut from Abel's "pre-release version" of the feature (which also appears on the release in a 4K restoration, with Ferrara's blessing) for the "theatrical version," which AF prefers on the basis that it's at once tighter and, in small parts, more ambiguous.

• "The Ship with Eight Sails and with Fifty Black Cannon" by Zoë Tamerlis Lund / 1993 essay in the booklet for Drafthouse's Ms .45, originally published in the January 2001 issue of New York Waste. An incredible text that deserves to go down as one of the definitive feminist manifestos. She was a light-year beyond the knee-jerk/reactionary contingent of "Me Too!"...

• Abel Ferrara and Ms .45 / 2013 8-minute interview with Abel that appears on the Drafthouse release of Ms .45.

• Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara on King of New York / 2004 feature-length audio commentary on the Lionsgate Blu-ray of the film — one of the all-time classic commentaries.

• Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara and Ken Kelsch on Bad Lieutenant / 2009 feature-length audio commentary for the Lionsgate Blu-ray of the film. Ditto the above.

• Abel Edits The Addiction / 1994 or '95 footage of Abel in the editing room, included on the Arrow disc of The Addiction (which also includes the fabulous 2018 documentary by Ferrara made for inclusion on this release, Talking with the Vampires).

• Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara on The Addiction / 2018 feature-length audio commentary on the Arrow Blu-ray of the film.

• Audio Commentary with Whit Stillman and Main Crew / 2012 feature-length audio commentary on the Sony Pictures Classics Blu-ray of Stillman's Damsels in Distress, which also includes a good 28-minute panel on the film with Stillman and cast moderated by Peter Hammond.

• "An Introduction to Jean Rouch" by Paul Stoller / 2017 essay revised from a 2004 essay published in Rouge, appearing in the 2017 booklet to Icarus Film's Eight Films by Jean Rouch. Contains a brief report of Rouch's attendance at the Rouch 2000 event at NYU — but also recounts the afterward, wherein he heads up to Harlem. A scene is described of the word spreading among the present West African community at an open-air market that the filmmaker is in attendance, and folks line-up to express their respect... My favorite film is Jaguar, Mine is Petit à Petit...! Beautiful...

• "On the Set of Andrei Rublev" / 1965 silent color footage totaling 5 minutes, on the Criterion Blu-ray of the 2004 Mosfilm HD restoration of the feature. Tarkovsky directs, Yusov shoots, and we get to see the beautiful plums and beiges and reds of the Tatar and peasant wardrobes.

• Robert Bird on Andrei Rublev / 2018 interview with the critic and writer on the material reality of the film-world: a key aspect of Tarkovsky's movie which goes back to the not-the-frame-but-the-aquarium concept centrifuged by... who is it I'm thinking of? I reached out to Andy Rector to see if he could recall any specific source, but it turns out there was a proliferation of thought on 'the Aquarian'. I might have been thinking of Alain Bergala by way of Bill Krohn, but Andy in an email response lifts the lid to reveal species Bazin, Daney, Malraux, Straub, Agnel, Mourlet, Renaudin. Here's hoping Andy posts this mini-anthology on Kino Slang in the near future.










===

Best Films Included Alongside a Title Feature:

Luchino Visconti: Man of Three Worlds
by Francis Coleman, 1966
included in the 2010 Criterion edition of Senso
(shot for the BBC Sunday Night program during Visconti's production on the omnibus film Le streghe)

Mulberry St.
by Abel Ferrara, 2010
included in the 2018 Arrow edition of The Driller Killer

Talking with the Vampires
by Abel Ferrara, 2018
included in the 2018 Arrow edition of The Addiction

Jean Rouch, cinéaste aventurier [Jean Rouch: Adventurer Filmmaker]
by Laurent Védrine, 2017
included in the Icarus edition of Jean Rouch: Eight Films

Katok i skripka [The Steamroller and the Violin]
by Andrei Tarkovsky, 1960
included in the 2018 Criterion edition of Andrei Rublev

===

Cover and Package Design:

• Frank Borzage's Moonrise
Criterion - Illustration by Greg Ruth, Design by Eric Skillman, 2018

• Abel Ferrara's The Driller Killer
Arrow - Illustration by The Twin Evils, 2016

• Abel Ferrara's Ms .45
Alamo Drafthouse - designer unknown?

• Abel Ferrara's The Addiction
Arrow - Artwork by Peter Strain

• Luchino Visconti's Senso
Criterion - Cover Illustration by Glen Orbik, Design by F. Ron Miller, 2010

• Andrei Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood
Criterion - Design by Neil Kellerhouse, 2013 (Blu-ray reissue of 2007 DVD release)

• Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev
Criterion - Design by Nessim Higson








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Friday, January 18, 2019

Poemquotes 10


"The child dances, lightly, in a leotard too big for him; lighter than the balls on which he's balancing. And when he passes round his money-purse, no-one gives anything. No-one gives anything out of fear for filling it with too heavy a weight. He is so thin."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Saltimbanques", from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"But when he knew someone was being awaited, and who, he knew to transform his face. Thus he entered the place of him who was awaited and who did not show up."
-Pierre Reverdy, "L'envers à l'endroit" [Backwards Forwards], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"The four legs of the table are still; the others too."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Les pensées basses" [Base Thoughts], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"But what hurt, what hurt! We each had an ice-cube between our fingers and upon our tongue."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Sur l'amour-propre" [On Pride], from La lucarne ovale [The Oval Skylight], 1916, my translation

"So I opened the doors one by one. In the first room, where some children slept, I found pointless crime."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Peine perdue" [Lost Cause], from La lucarne ovale [The Oval Skylight], 1916, my translation

"Time spent in a room where everything is dark will come back later on."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Plus tard" [Later On], from La lucarne ovale [The Oval Skylight], 1916, my translation

^On Cinema

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Saturday, January 05, 2019

Poemquotes 9


"He hunted the moon, he left the night."
-Pierre Reverdy, "Chacun sa part" [To Each His Share], from Poèmes en prose [Poems in Prose], 1915, my translation

"Beginning my studies the first step pleas'd me so much, / The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion"
-Walt Whitman, "Beginning My Studies", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"Spring comes adept with personnel, / Apt for the kill."
-John Ashbery, "Elegy", 1947, from Uncollected Poems

"Of course, there's no need to speak / 'On the level'* ['À l'horizontale'] / Though we no longer find anything to say to each other / While vertical [À la verticale']. / So, in order to kill time / Between this love-session and that, / I grab the newspaper, and my pen, / And I fill in / Both the A's and O's**."
[* “On the level,” “laying down [horizontal next to each other],” etc.]
[** Which is also to say, in accordance with the French pronunciation of the letters, “Both the ‘AH!’s and ‘OH!’s.”]
-Serge Gainsbourg, "Ce mortel ennui" [This Deadly Boredom], from Du chant à la une!... [Songs Torn from the Front Page!...], 1958, my translation

"The going of the glade-boat / Is like water flowing"
-Wallace Stevens, "The Load of Sugar-Cane", from Harmonium, 1923/1931

"I preside in the azure like a poorly-understood sphinx, / I combine a snow heart with the whiteness of swans; / I hate movement that shifts lines around, / And never do I weep, and never do I laugh."
-Charles Baudelaire, "La beauté" [Beauty], from Les fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], "Spleen et Idéal" [Spleen and Ideal], 1857, my translation

"Sweet Levinsky, why so tearful, / sweet Levinsky don't be fearful, / sweet Levinsky here's your earful / of the angels chirping cheerful- / ly Levinsky, sweet Levinsky, / sweet Levinsky, sweet Levinsky."
-Allen Ginsberg, "Sweet Levinsky", 1949, from Empty Mirror: Gates of Wrath (1947-1952) in Collected Poems: 1947-1980 (itself collected in its entirety within Collected Poems: 1947-1997)

===

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 Fielding, 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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