Thursday, January 02, 2020

The Books I Read in 2019

The books I finished in 2019, not counting stuff that's been in-progress, dip-in-and-outs, essays, stories, poems, etc. etc... If it weren't for movies and the Internet this list would probably be three times as long, but you do what you can do.

In order from Jan to Dec '19 —


Counter-Clock World
by Philip K. Dick

The Torrents of Spring
by Ernest Hemingway

Un an après
[One Year Later]
by Anne Wiazemsky

Nouvelles en trois lignes
[News in Three Lines / Novellas in Three Lines]
by Félix Fénéon
(translated by Luc Sante)

by Ottessa Moshfegh

La Place de l’Étoile
by Patrick Modiano
(translated by Frank Wynne)

La ronde de nuit
[The Night Watch]
by Patrick Modiano
(translated by Patricia Wolf, revised by Frank Wynne)

Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood
by Karina Longworth

Roderick Hudson {First Edition Version}
by Henry James

Der Tod in Venedig
[Death in Venice]
by Thomas Mann
(translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter)

The Power of the Dog
by Don Winslow

Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile
by Herman Melville

by Denis Johnson

Le mythe de Sisyphe
[The Myth of Sisyphus]
by Albert Camus
(translated by Justin O’Brien)

1: Études de mœurs: Scènes de la vie privée: 4: La bourse
[1: Studies of Manners: Scenes from Private Life: 4: The Coinpurse]
by Honoré de Balzac
(translated by Clara Bell)
1832 / heavily revised in 1842

1: Études de mœurs: Scènes de la vie privée: 5: Modeste Mignon
[1: Studies of Manners: Scenes from Private Life: 5: Modeste Mignon]
by Honoré de Balzac
(translated by Clara Bell)

Small Fry
by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Galactic Pot-Healer
by Philip K. Dick

There Will Be No Quiet
by Stanley Donwood

The Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead

My Year of Rest and Relaxation
by Ottessa Moshfegh

The Poorhouse Fair
by John Updike
1959/1977 (slight revision + intro added)

Where the Sirens Live
by Francesca Coppola

The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice
by William Shakespeare

Sled or Die
by Bob Walles

by Bob Walles and Tad Kimball

Zuckerman: Vol. 8: The Human Stain (The American Trilogy: Vol. 3)
by Philip Roth

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

The Films I Saw in 2019

First Seen of the Year: Chi-yari Fuji by Tomu Uchida

Last Seen of the Year: Giù la testa by Sergio Leone


8-1/2 [Federico Fellini, 1963]
9 Lives of a Wet Pussy [Abel Ferrara, 1976]
À bout de souffle [Breathless] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1960]
The Addiction [Abel Ferrara, 1995]
The Adventures of Schoolly D: Snowboarder [Mark Rance, 2004]
The African Queen [John Huston, 1951]
Alice in den Städten [Alice in the Cities] [Wim Wenders, 1974]
Alive in France [Abel Ferrara, 2017]
Alla ricerca di Tadzio [In Search of Tadzio] [Luchino Visconti, 1970]
Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution [Alphaville: One of Lemmy Caution’s Strange Adventures] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1965]
Andrei Rublev [Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966]
ANIMA [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2019]
Arabian Nights [Miguel Gomes, 2015]
Aquaculture [Artemis Shaw, 2018]
Bad Lieutenant [Abel Ferrara, 1992]
Ballet aquatique [Aquatic Ballet] [Raúl Ruiz, 2012]
Battle Cry [Raoul Walsh, 1955]
The Beach Bum [Harmony Korine, 2019]
Bend of the River [Anthony Mann, 1952]
Best Picture [Jay Giampietro, 2019]
Between Two Ferns: The Movie [Scott Aukerman and Zach Galifianakis, 2019]
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt [Fritz Lang, 1956]
The Big Combo [Joseph H. Lewis, 1955]
The Big Heat [Fritz Lang, 1953]
Blackmail {Silent Version} [Alfred Hitchcock, 1929]
Blackmail {Sound / 1.20:1 Version} [Alfred Hitchcock, 1929]
Blood Feast [Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1963]
Blue Velvet [David Lynch, 1986]
‘Blue Velvet’ Revisited [Peter Braatz, 1985/2017]
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice [Paul Mazursky, 1969]
Bob le flambeur [Bob the High-Roller] [Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956]
Body Snatchers [Abel Ferrara, 1993]
Booksmart [Olivia Wilde, 2019]
Born Yesterday [George Cukor, 1950]
Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter [The Bridegroom, the Actress, and the Pimp] [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1968]
Brewster McCloud [Robert Altman, 1970]
Bukchon banghyang [Bukchon-Bound] [Hong Sang-soo, 2011]
The Burglar [Paul Wendkos, 1957]
By Sidney Lumet [Nancy Buirski, 2015]
La cabine de plage [The Beach Shack] [Agnès Varda and JR, 2017]
Carving Magic [Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1959]
The Champagne Murders [Claude Chabrol, 1967]
Changer d’image [Image-Changing] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1982]
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith [Fred Schepisi, 1978]
La chasse au lion à l’arc [Lion Hunting with Bow and Arrow] {English-Language Narration} [Jean Rouch, 1965]
Chi-yari Fuji [Bloody Spear at Fuji] [Tomu Uchida, 1955]
Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach [Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach] {English-Language Version} [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1968]
Cinefile: Dark and Deadly: Fifty Years of Film Noir [Paul Joyce, 2008]
The Circus [Charles Chaplin, 1928/1969]
Cluny Brown [Ernst Lubitsch, 1946]
Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean [Robert Altman, 1982]
Coming Home [Hal Ashby, 1978]
Corkscrew Alley / Raw Deal [Anthony Mann, 1948]
Cowboy Joe [Jingjing Tian, 2019]
Daguerre-Plage [Agnès Varda, 2008]
Daigaku wa deta keredo [I Graduated University, But…] {Most Complete Extant Version} [Yasujirō Ozu, 1929]
Daisy Kenyon [Otto Preminger, 1947]
Damsels in Distress [Whit Stillman, 2011]
Dance in the Sun [Shirley Clarke, 1953]
Dan Deacon: “Sat by a Tree” [Daren Rabinovitch, 2019]
The Dark Mirror [Robert Siodmak, 1946]
Dead Pigeon on Beethovenstraße [Samuel Fuller, 1972]
Death in Venice [Luchino Visconti, 1971]
Département lettres modernes, Bibliothèque Nationale de France [Agnès Varda and JR, 2017]
Détective [Detective] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1985]
Detour [Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945]
Directed by Andrej Tarkovskij [Michał Leszczyłowski, 1988]
Distant Voices, Still Lives [Terence Davies, 1988]
Domino [Brian De Palma, 2019]
Le doulos [The One in the Hat / The Stoolie] [Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962]
Dream Crush: “Sharp Zone” [Douglas Burgdorff, 2019]
The Driller Killer [Abel Ferrara, 1979]
Drive a Crooked Road [Richard Quine, 1954]
Duel in the Sun [King Vidor, 1946]
Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen [Michael Palm, 2004]
El Camino [Vince Gilligan, 2019]
EOB: “Brasil” [Andrew Donoho, 2019]
Experiment in Terror [Blake Edwards, 1962]
The Eyes of Orson Welles [Mark Cousins, 2018]
Eyes Wide Shut [Stanley Kubrick, 1999]
Les fantômes d’Ismaël [Ismaël’s Ghosts] {Desplechin’s Intended Cut} [Arnaud Desplechin, 2017]
La femme du boulanger [The Baker’s Wife] [Marcel Pagnol, 1938]
Les femmes sont de nature créatives: Agnès Varda [Women Are Naturally Creative: Agnès Varda] [Katja Raganelli and Konrad Wickler 1977]
Field Niggas [Khalik Allah, 2015]
Le fils de Joseph [The Son of Joseph, 2016]
Fixed Bayonets! [Samuel Fuller, 1951]
Force of Evil [Abraham Polonsky, 1948]
For Me and My Gal [Busby Berkeley, 1942]
Forty Guns / The Woman with a Whip [Samuel Fuller, 1957]
Fourteen [Dan Sallitt, 2019]
The Frontier Experience [Barbara Loden, 1975]
A Fuller Life [Samantha Fuller, 2013]
Gabbeh [Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996]
The Gardener [Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 2012]
“Get DADDDY on the Phone!” [Leah Shore, 2019]
The Ghost Ship [Mark Robson and Val Lewton, 1943]
The Gingerbread Man [Robert Altman, 1998]
Gion no shimai [Sisters of the Gion] [Kenji Mizoguchi, 1936]
Giù la testa [Get Your Head Down] {Proper Italian Full-Length 157-Minute Cut} [Sergio Leone, 1971]
Golden Exits [Alex Ross Perry, 2017]
Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam. {German Domestic Version} [The Golem: How He Came into the World.] [Paul Wegener and Carl Boese, 1920]
The Good Liar [Bill Condon, 2019]
Gosford Park [Robert Altman, 2001]
The Great Buster: A Celebration [Peter Bogdanovich, 2018]
Greetings [Brian De Palma, 1968]
Gregg [Matías Piñeiro, 2017]
Green Room [Jeremy Saulnier, 2015]
Guerrilla [Douglas Burgdorff, 2019]
Gypsy [Mervyn LeRoy, 1962]
Häxan [The Witch] [Benjamin Christensen, 1922]
Der heilige Berg, eine dramatische Dichtung in Bildern aus der Natur [The Holy Mountain: A Dramatic Poem in Images from Nature] [Arnold Fanck, 1926]
HAIM: “Hallelujah” [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2019]
HAIM: “Now I’m in It” [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2019]
HAIM: “Summer Girl” [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2019]
Hélas pour moi [Alas for Me / Woe Is Me] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1992]
Hell and High Water [Samuel Fuller, 1954]
Hermia & Helena [Matías Piñeiro, 2017]
High Noon [Fred Zinnemann, 1952]
Hi, Mom! [Brian De Palma, 1969]
Home from the Hill [Vincente Minnelli, 1960]
House of Bamboo [Samuel Fuller, 1955]
How Have You Been? [Andy DeYoung, 2019]
Human Desire [Fritz Lang, 1954]
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte [Robert Aldrich, 1964]
I Am Wanda [Katja Raganelli and Konrad Wickler, 1980/1991]
Image Makers: The Adventures of America’s Pioneering Cinematographers [Daniel Raim, 2019]
Lo incomparable de lo no comparable / The Incomparable of the Non-Comparable [Paul Grivas, 2019]
Irma la Douce [Billy Wilder, 1963]
Is It Raining? [Matías Piñeiro, 2016]
The Irishman / I Heard You Paint Houses [Martin Scorsese, 2019]
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson: Season 1 [Tim Robinson, Zach Kanin, et al, 2019]
Ivanovo detstvo [Ivan’s Childhood] [Andrei Tarkovsky, 1962]
Jaguar [Jean Rouch, 1967]
Jane B. par Agnès V. [Jane B. by Agnès V.] [Agnès Varda, 1988]
Jazzy for Joe [Owen Kline and Andrew Lampert, 2014]
Jean Rouch, cinéaste aventurier [Jean Rouch: Filmmaker Adventurer] [Laurent Védrine, 2017]
Katok i skripka [The Steamroller and the Violin] [Andrei Tarkovsky, 1960]
King of New York [Abel Ferrara, 1990]
Knives Out [Rian Johnson, 2019]
Krotkaya [A Gentle Creature / A Meek One] [Sergei Loznitsa, 2017]
Kung-Fu Master! [Agnès Varda, 1988]
The Lady Said No [Frank Tashlin, 1946]
The Last Movie [Dennis Hopper, 1971]
The Last Waltz [Martin Scorsese, 1978]
Laura {Full-Version} [Otto Preminger, 1944]
Léon Morin, prêtre [Léon Morin, Priest] {Melville’s 128-Minute Uncut Version} [Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961]
The Leopard Man [Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton, 1943]
The Lineup [Don Siegel, 1958]
Lloydie, the Boy from St. Thomas [Keifer Nyron Taylor, 2018]
Le lion volatil [The Vanishing Lion] [Agnès Varda, 2003]
Locate S,1: “Owe It 2 the Girls” [Clayton Rychlik, 2018]
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog [Alfred Hitchcock, 1927]
The Long Goodbye [Robert Altman, 1973]
The Lost Footage [David Lynch, 2011]
Lost Highway [David Lynch, 1997]
Luchino Visconti [Carlo Lizzani, 1999]
Luchino Visconti: Man of Three Worlds [Francis Coleman, 1966]
Ludwig {Integral Television Version} [Luchino Visconti, 1973]
La madre (Troisième version) / The Mother (Third Version) / Jean-Marie Straub / 2012
Les maîtres fous [The Mad Masters] {Short Version?} [Jean Rouch, 1954]
Mammy Water [Jean Rouch, 1954]
La Marseillaise, chronique de quelques faits ayant contribué à la chute de la Monarchie [The Marseillaise: A Chronicle of a Few Events Having Contributed to the Fall of the Monarchy] [Jean Renoir, 1938]
La maschera del demonio [The Mask of the Devil] [Mario Bava, 1960]
Mean Streets [Martin Scorsese, 1973]
Mélo [Alain Resnais, 1986]
Merrie Melodies: The Cat Came Back [Friz Freleng, 1936]
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) [Noah Baumbach, 2017]
Mikey and Nicky [Elaine May, 1976]
Mission: Impossible [Brian De Palma, 1996]
Mister America [Eric Notarnicola, Tim Heidecker, and Gregg Turkington, 2019]
Moi, un noir (Treichville) [I, a Black (Treichville)] [Jean Rouch, 1958]
Moonrise [Frank Borzage, 1948]
Ms .45 [Abel Ferrara, 1981]
Mulberry St. [Abel Ferrara, 2010]
Murder by Contract [Irving Lerner, 1958]
La musique [Music] [Agnès Varda and JR, 2017]
My Name Is Julia Ross [Joseph H. Lewis, 1945]
Napoli Napoli Napoli [Abel Ferrara, 2009]
Network [Sidney Lumet, 1976]
The New On Cinema Oscar Special [Gregg Turkington, Tim Heidecker, et al, 2019]
Ningen no jōken [The Human Condition] [Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-1961]
La noche de enfrente [Night Across the Way] [Raúl Ruiz, 2012]
Nostalghia [Nostalgia] [Andrei Tarkovsky, 1983]
Notorious [Alfred Hitchcock, 1946]
Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble [We Won’t Grow Old Together] [Maurice Pialat, 1972]
Ocha’dzuke no aji [The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice] [Yasujirō Ozu, 1952]
Offret [The Sacrifice] [Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986]
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood [Quentin Tarantino, 2019]
One Plus One [Jean-Luc Godard, 1968]
One, Two, Three [Billy Wilder, 1961]
Panique [Panic] [Julien Duvivier, 1946]
Les parents terribles [The Frightful Parents] [Jean Cocteau, 1948]
Pasolini [Abel Ferrara, 2014]
Petit à Petit [Jean Rouch, 1971]
Petit cadeau pour JLG [Little Gift for JLG] [Marta Mateus, 2019]
Phantom Lady [Robert Siodmak, 1944]
Pickup on South Street [Samuel Fuller, 1953]
Picnic [Joshua Logan, 1955]
Plaisir d’amour en Iran [Giddiness of Love in Iran] [Agnès Varda, 1976]
Porojen parissa [With the Reindeer] [Erik Blomberg and Eino Mäkinen, 1947]
Prénom Carmen [First Name Carmen] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1983]
La prisonnière [The Prisoner] [Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1968]
Pulp Fiction [Quentin Tarantino, 1994]
La punition, ou les Mauvaises rencontres [Punishment, or: Bad Encounters] [Jean Rouch, 1964]
The Purchase Price [William A. Wellman, 1932]
Pushover [Richard Quine, 1954]
La pyramide humaine [The Human Pyramid] [Jean Rouch, 1961]
The Quiet Man [John Ford, 1952]
La ragazza che sapeva troppo [The Girl Who Knew Too Much] [Mario Bava, 1963]
Rain Phoenix: “Time Is the Killer” [Bobby Bukowski and Bradley Gregg, 2019]
Redemption [Miguel Gomes, 2013]
Redes [Nets / Networks] [Emilio Gómez Muriel and Fred Zinnemann, 1936]
Réponse de femmes à une question produite par Antenne 2 pour le magazine 'F. comme Femme' [Womens' Response to a Question Produced by Antenne 2 for the Magazine-Show 'F. comme Femme'] [Agnès Varda, 1975]
Ruby Gentry [King Vidor, 1952]
Sabrina [Billy Wilder, 1954]
Sandome no satsujin [The Third Murder] [Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2017]
Le scandale Clouzot [The Clouzot Scandal] [Pierre-Henri Gibert, 2017]
Scene Missing: The Story of Dennis Hopper’s ‘Last Movie’ [Alex Cox, 2018]
Scarlet Street [Fritz Lang, 1945]
Schoolly D: “King of New York” [Abel Ferrara, 1990]
Secret Beyond the Door… [Fritz Lang, 1947]
Senso [Feeling] [Luchino Visconti, 1954]
The Seventh Victim [Mark Robson and Val Lewton, 1943]
Shark {Reworked Only Extant Version - Producers’ Cut} [Samuel Fuller, 1969]
A Short Film About the Long Career of Abel Ferrara [Mark Rance, 2004]
Shukujo wa nani (w)o wasureta ka [What Did the Lady Forget?] [Yasujirō Ozu, 1937]
Les signes [The Signs] [Eugène Green, 2006]
So Dark the Night [Joseph H. Lewis, 1946]
Soft Focus with Jena Friedman: Episode 1 [Jena Friedman, 2018]
Soft Focus with Jena Friedman: Episode 2 [Jena Friedman, 2019]
Sokout [The Silence] [Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1998]
Some Kind of Genius [Paul Joyce, 1986]
Son of Paleface [Frank Tashlin, 1952]
The Spiral Staircase [Robert Siodmak, 1945]
Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Season 1 [Jon Favreau, et al, 2019]
Steamboat Willie [Walt Disney and U. B. Iwerks, 1928]
Talking with the Vampires [Abel Ferrara, 2018]
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines [Jonathan Mostow, 2003]
The Thing from Another World [Howard Hawks, 1951]
Thom Yorke: “Last I Heard (…He Was Circling the Drain)” [Art Camp and Saad Moosajee, 2019]
Three on a Match [Mervyn LeRoy, 1932]
Thunder Bay [Anthony Mann, 1953]
Tōkyō no onna [A Woman of Tokyo] [Yasujirō Ozu, 1933]
Touchez pas au grisbi [Hands Off the Loot] [Jacques Becker, 1954]
Trapézistes et voltigeurs [Trapeze-Artists and Acrobats] [Agnès Varda, 2008]
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn [Elia Kazan, 1945]
T-Men [Anthony Mann, 1947]
Tri Andreya [The Three Andreis] [Dina Musatova, 1966]
Two Against Nature [work-in-progress] [Owen Kline, 2019-]
Uncut Gems [Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, 2019]
L’une chante l’autre pas [The One Sings the Other Doesn’t] [Agnès Varda, 1977]
Us [Jordan Peele, 2019]
Valkoinen peura / Den vita renen [The White Deer / The White Reindeer] [Erik Blomberg, 1952]
Veep: Season 7 [Dave Mandel, et al, 2019]
La vérité [The Truth] [Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1960]
Visages Villages [Agnès Varda and JR, 2017]
La Voie Lactée [The Milky Way] [Luis Buñuel, 1969]
Wanda [Barbara Loden, 1970]
The Wedding Party [Cynthia Munroe, Brian De Palma, and Wilford Leach, 1963/1969]
Western Union [Fritz Lang, 1941]
While the City Sleeps [Fritz Lang, 1956]
Wiener-Dog [Todd Solondz, 2016]
The Woman in the Window [Fritz Lang, 1944]
X [Roger Corman, 1963]
Ying Chun ge zhi fengbo [Storms at Ying Chun Pavilion / The Incident at Spring Inn] [King Hu, 1973]
Zoë Rising [Paul Rachman, 2011]
Zoe X O [Paul Rachman, 2004]

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Anna Karina, 1940-2019

La Ligne de Chance


Anna Karina in her final role for Godard, Anticipation [1967].


Saturday, December 07, 2019

A Woman of Tokyo

Apple on the Mantle


A new iteration of a diseased world has wafted up and come to choke, pervasive since the last time this Ozu picture was screened with any real sincerity.

Tonight [Friday, November 8th, 2019, Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles] Andy Rector has grasped the horns of the California day’s last steers, with the prospect of Renoir’s picture in mind to follow: we will experience beautiful animals pleading emergency. On our minds, the safe word remains: “Evacuate.” — For the world is burning, and we’re internalizing now bestial shrieks, are absorbing them deep, and a chance few hear sounding from the wreck: "Come to the theater for respite and relief..."

So shameful to be us, crying when the night is like a dawn menacing soft on the horizon. The irony of orange in Los Angeles County. Cinephiles, where do associations lead? An autumn shell on the horizon, East Coast connotations, but substantial heat, smoke in the high winds. Landowners elsewhere, envious, postulate nothing political per se in the burning of the planet, and yet, at this moment is that not all there is? Are these fires not, species-wide, our spectacular concern?


A Woman of Tokyo [Tōkyō no onna, 1933] allocates its characters by a kind of human chain — taken in another sense, as illustrative elements of human bondage. A disturbance in one individual reverberates over to and within the others. (The undulations of a suspension bridge; the flail of prey in a web.) The title woman of Tokyo, Chikako (Yoshiko Okada), represents the center median, or medium in the sense of a substance through which emotion and judgment move in waves. She provides the context for the moral relativism that defines the attitudes of the characters. When Ozu proclaims in 1933 by title alone, that there is “A Woman of Tokyo” (“Tōkyō no onna”) — well, it’s comically inarguable. Considered more deeply, who dares to dismiss this? She is not merely a “woman in Tokyo,” she is “one of Tokyo’s women,” “a woman belonging to Tokyo” — a fateful figure. Adjacent to the vagueness, the quality of the everywoman/cipher, lies a specificity that comes perilously close to turning the phrase into a metropolitan euphemism. More broadly: Chikako is the Tokyo archetype of one who does what one must to get by in the big city.

She is at once the inscrutable and the presently apprehensible—an apple taken from a mantle. The upset of Chikako’s brother Ryōichi (Ureo Egawa) over the discovery of her moonlighting as a prostitute constitutes a split in the bond between siblings, a disruption of the expectations which one held for the other. What began as a pair soon becomes redefined as halves. (That apple on the mantle will reveal still more dimensionality [still-life, la nature morte] in the conclusion to Ozu’s 1949 Late Spring [Banshun].)

Other pairs in A Woman of Tokyo:

• Harue (Kinuyo Tanaka) and her older brother, a keisatsu (police-officer) referred to only by his surname, Kinoshita (Shinyo Nara) — here, the latter assumes the role of caretaker for the former, a reversal of the dynamic between Chikako and Ryōichi

• Kinoshita and an investigating officer from his bureau

• Two reporters working for rival papers

• A personnel manager and a clerk at Chikako’s place of employment

• The 47-minute 1933 Yasujirō Ozu film A Woman of Tokyo and the 2 minute 21 second Ernst Lubitsch short from the 1932 Paramount omnibus If I Had a Million, titled The Clerk

Ozu’s remarkable intertwining of the Lubitsch segment with his own film not only pays homage to Lubitsch and the Hollywood studio-system (and to his beloved Gary Cooper, visible on the back cover of the theatrical program for If I Had a Million, in which he stars in William A. Seiter’s sketch), but also echoes the structure of A Woman of Tokyo: like Woman’s seemingly curtailed ending, Ozu withholds the final punchline scene from the Lubitsch. There, after opening the random million-dollar cheque, Charles Laughton marches through a series of office doors belonging to his firm’s senior bureaucracy and, finally confronting the chief of the company, blows a raspberry his way. In Ozu, this has been excised. (But will be evoked time and again by the director through the series of children in his other films who stick their tongues out in defiance of stoic, unbudging parents.) The openness of A Woman of Tokyo results at least in part by its diminishment. As Andy writes in his own program for the screening, "The film is silent, seemingly by choice rather than technology, as if to say: the situation depicted is unspeakable." (And, I might add, also unraspberriable.) "We’ve found no explanation for the film’s odd length of 47 minutes — no industrial, or exhibition-related explanation. Perhaps the length is wholly the result of the story and the arrested way of its telling. A shorter film for the lives of the ruined or cut short; tragedy becomes brevity, and brevity becomes tragedy." In the curtailed structure, in the plain and complicated title of A Woman of Tokyo, a terrible universality is born.

A dialectical film, then, one in which people enter rooms and the first reaction before inevitable recognition is: Who are you? or: Why are you here?. Pairs, splits, — and mirrors which, paradoxically, in A Woman of Tokyo, estrange. Objectivity encounters disbelief, a sussing-out of what could or could not be true. “Tell it slant,” goes Dickinson’s phrase, now commodified as the tagline for an eponymous Apple show; the policy is characteristic of Ozu’s work, but perhaps never has the ellipsis functioned so powerfully in his films as the scene in which Chikako stares before the mirror and, as in Kiarostami’s Certified Copy (Copie conforme, 2010), the “divide” (in the senses of “split,” and of “distance”) becomes implicit. As such the scene might be said to stand as the locus, as in Cocteau or Bergman, of an irremediable trauma. And whereas in later films Ozu characters will have, literally and figuratively, built up a front, as suggested by the director’s framing en face, in A Woman of Tokyo they are presented obliquely: torsos directed to left or right frame, heads turned, at times we might say twisted, toward the camera. (This posture, in fact, recurs among the characters of many Ozus from this period, but to examine the practice requires a scope beyond the present text.)

The movie ends shortly after the mercenary reporters drop in on Chikako and Harue to scavenge details about Ryōichi. “There’s no big scoop here,” smirks one to the other. Soon images, objects, come spiraling back, imbued with a new absence of life, their inanimation now underscored. The film moves outside, the camera abandons the reporters, and a tracking shot fixed on the rubbish-strewn sidewalk begins to roll. Of this moment Andy observes that it “seems to draw a hyphen rather than a period on the story. A hyphen to life outside the film and the movie theater.”

How many tragedies will it take to change the world?

Originally published at Kino Slang, Andy Rector's blog. Details on the program for that night are also available there, here.


Pieces on Yasujirō Ozu at Cinemasparagus:

A Straightforward Brat [1929]

Friends Fighting Japanese-Style [1929]

Tokyo Chorus [1931]

A Picture-Book for Grown-Ups: I Was Born, But... [1932]

Where Have the Dreams of Youth All Gone? [1932]

A Woman of Tokyo [1933]

Passing Fancy [1933]

A Tale of Floating Weeds [1934]

Kagamijishi [1936]

The Only Son [1936]

There Was a Father [1942]


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Knives Out

It's the Only Way You'll Know I'm Telling the Truth


One of the best 2010s American films. It's not a pastiche of Agatha Christie any more than, say, Bend of the River [Anthony Mann, 1952] is a pastiche of Western Union [Fritz Lang, 1941]. It does, however, rejuvenate the whodunnit in a manner akin to Ford's Stagecoach's [1939] modernization and modulation on the western. A cross-class group portrait, a social allegory of American heritage (both in the sense of "inheritance" and "the ancestral"), which brings to mind the families Trump, Murdoch, etc...

Rian Johnson wanders the house, or the house wanders the movie. It's one of the first mystery pictures in which the production design does not serve merely as a backdrop scrim of 'atmospheric touch.' Johnson doesn't dwell on the house as wealth-porn nor aspirational fetish; just as we are at the brim of projecting our own desires, our property envy, the film shifts to a lower-middle class milieu.

Final thoughts for now:
- The script and plotting are ingenious. I think RJ said it's a screenplay he'd been working on for seven years. There are no plot-holes or details unaccounted for.
- It's very funny.
- Maybe most movingly, Knives Out and Rian Johnson are earnest enough to imagine the idea of the pure Heroine (cf. Austen, et al) in a 2019 setting.

Very possibly a masterpiece.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Poemquotes 13 - "III. Elevation" by Charles Baudelaire

my translation


III. Elevation - The Flowers of Evil
[III. Élévation] [Les fleurs du mal]

Above the ponds, above the valleys,
The mountains, the woods, the clouds, the seas,
On the other side of the sun, on the other side of the ethers,
On the other side of the far reaches of the starry spheres,

My spirit, you move with agility,
And, like a fine swimmer fainting in the flow,
You gaily traverse the deep immensity
With an unspeakable and manly delight.

Take flight far off from these morbid miasmas;
Go purify yourself in the superior air,
And drink, like a pure and divine liquor,
The clear light filling limpid spaces.

Behind the troubles and the vast sorrows
That encumber hazy existence with their load,
Happy the one who is able with vigorous wing
To set off toward the luminous and serene fields;

The one whose thinkings, like skylarks,
Take one free flight toward the heavens at morning,
— Gliding over life, and effortlessly comprehending
The language of flowers and silent things!


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Thunder Bay

Jimmy Has Green Eyes

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


As in quite a few of Anthony Mann's pictures, Thunder Bay [1953] involves building a basis for new opportunity and wealth. Here, Jimmy Stewart and Dan Duryea have fixed upon a Louisiana location where oil's projected for the construction of a rig and for their — and the town's — enrichment. It's 1946, Thunder Bay by name, Thunder Bay by Stewart's dynamiting the waters and inadvertently killing off a native economic staple of the town in the native shrimp population.

Every fiction involving a boat introduces pain-in-the-ass malfunctioning, the heroes' skill at jerry-rigging a fix, and at least two cantina fights. Often in the American cinema an observer as Melville's figures, rather the point-of-view comes straight from those whom immediately will suffer from the market indignities.

When they find the oil the white-bearded bastard turns his daughter over to Dan Duryea in a suit from a Burberry outlet-store.

Thunder Bay through its exaggerated tone and Stewart's dirty white fedora subverts the American ideal of economic progress through sheer industriousness. Stewart wins Joanne Dru before driving off in the end credits.


Pieces on Anthony Mann at Cinemasparagus:

T-Men [1947]

Corkscrew Alley / Raw Deal [1948]

Bend of the River [1952]

Thunder Bay [1953]


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Bend of the River

Hidden Violence

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


Shares a plot-arc kick-off with Lang's Western Union from eleven years earlier.

The sympathetic/empathic relationship between Stewart and Kennedy: Kennedy about to be hanged; Stewart rubs his neckerchief. Kennedy chucks a knife into the back of a Shoshone warrior; Stewart has his turn doing the same moments later. They're two men with hidden pasts. Their semblances don't re-match until near the end. Kennedy takes over the caravan to redirect the food supply to the gold camp rather than the settlement, and proves himself just as much a hard-driver as Stewart, in a sequence whose shots Mann frames similarly. Before the two collide in battle in a sun-dappled river, and Stewart alone survives: his own neckerchief's disposed in the aftermath, his own hanging scar revealed for the first time "since [he was] a raider on the Missouri-Kansas border."


Pieces on Anthony Mann at Cinemasparagus:

T-Men [1947]

Corkscrew Alley / Raw Deal [1948]

Bend of the River [1952]

Thunder Bay [1953]


Friday, August 16, 2019

Corkscrew Alley / Raw Deal

Why Not Just Die?

(All images are details from iPhone photos taken of the film playing from the Criterion Channel.)

Raymond Burr in silk lives on Jane Street, some stretch known as Corkscrew Alley, according to a street sign fastened to a lamppost. I deleted what I wrote originally here after I realized we weren't talking about the same Jane Street.

A jailbreak on-the-lamb picture, this 1948 Corkscrew Alley (Mann's or the screenwriters' intended title, I can't remember), more 'traditionally' noir in its scenario and set-up than the previous year's T-Men, but slightly more vital too: the dated quaintness of the counterfeit epidemic has been abandoned for the universal requisite of freedom, despite all prison sentence odds, and breaths of fresh air in the ostensibly 'free world,' that is, 'Corkscrew Alley.'

Violence between Mann in 1948 and more recent movies: here the energy-to-burst is tangible, O'Keefe nearly busts his aggressor John Ireland's eye on the taxidermied horn of a buck. This sequence veiled in netting progresses and everyone lives but Mann takes up the motif across Claire Trevor's literally fishnet-veiled face: one of these abrupt close-ups from outer-space (beyond the camera line) which adamantize the abstract and force the public to react. Take the phone in the foreground jutting like it's lost; anticipating the ring that will jostle Trevor and O'Keefe beyond... and it does, a mise-en-scène anticipating an action cause.


Pieces on Anthony Mann at Cinemasparagus:

T-Men [1947]

Corkscrew Alley / Raw Deal [1948]

Bend of the River [1952]

Thunder Bay [1953]


Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Super Mr. T(ony Mann)


For me the most impressive aspect of Mann's 1947 T-Men is the infiltration conceit, whereby Dennis O'Keefe and Alfred Ryder purport to have run with a since-dismantled outfit in order to gain access to a Los Angeles counterfeiting ring and make a deal involving engraving plates. Both men adopt thug-personae they don't dare to shed even in the face of mortal danger, a willing adoption of Stockholm syndrome that will ultimately blow up in both their bellies.

The film is intercut with creaky old-school "documentary" propaganda warning the audience of the dangers of counterfeiting, more than hinting that the almighty Treasury Department loses no battles. Jammed into one scene, a T-agent rebukes a cashier who's unwittingly received a fake bill: something along the line of, "If only more people took a moment to examine their money..." Sigh.

John Alton's cinematography's all angular ink but registers mostly as atmospherics and the 'labyrinth of moral confusion' trope.


Pieces on Anthony Mann at Cinemasparagus:

T-Men [1947]

Corkscrew Alley / Raw Deal [1948]

Bend of the River [1952]

Thunder Bay [1953]


Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Long Goodbye

An Altman Peak

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


With 1973's The Long Goodbye Robert Altman obviously achieves perfection. It's as accidental and as circumstantial as the successful ignition of a match off any available surface.

The film consists of a series of short films, one-act plays, all sharing some throughline about one Terry Lennox's suspected murder; and then there's an ending that exudes a purest Cannon Films scene avant la lettre.

The Long Goodbye contains two of Altman's wildest, most brilliant sequences:

(1) Sterling Hayden as Sterling Hayden, in his golden period where he'd had enough of everything, right on the heels of The Godfather and ten years before the release of Wolf-Eckart Bühler and Manfred Blank's documentary Hayden portrait Pharos of Chaos. The most insipid, Hayden-indulgent grandstand captured on film à la Maidstone, and every second is marvelous. Altman lets it keep going, keep going... I thank him for this. Less is not always more, because most of the time more is. (,morons.)

(2) The Doberman biting, yipping, running growling confused at the beachfront as Marlowe pulls Mrs. Wade reluctantly to shore. An abstraction, like justice, that can not be reasonably codified nor critically decoded.


Thursday, August 01, 2019

Daisy Kenyon

A Workout at 40

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


For a long time I didn't think this film was worth watching again. It is duh. That was just talk.

Now that said, I don't know whom this movie was made for, besides every liberal American household. I'll tell a story. First, this is the tale of me and my best friend at Newport Beach. I'm Fonda and he's Andrews.

Next you've got a boring courtroom scene, made more boring because the topic at hand is divorce. No action; only glances; a little flitter-flutter of the hearts.

Do I have another story to tell? Nothing except that me and my buddy never respectively married, because, respectively and with all due respect, we never wanted to put up with the bullshit of the institution, and we're relatively glad now at 41. Had either of us been married, we wouldn't have gone to Newport acid; we wouldn't have been allowed the time to watch Otto Preminger's Daisy Kenyon nor simply to reflect on Newport and our crazy week.

At once I protest and endorse marriage. I protest and endorse this thing about children-having. But my loyalty would be to the woman I love, foremost, and not our (she nor I's) legal codification, and certainly not the slime-bucket of kids which is easily avoidable and whose future university is unaffordable as far as I see it for the movies I make and the jobs I take time off from. (Also unaffordable is when my children inevitably kill someone drunk-driving at 16 and it's a tragedy on the law-books, and their life is destroyed, and the collective family's is too above and maximally.)


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Napoli Napoli Napoli

Ferrara at the End of the 2000s

(All images are details from iPhone photos taken of the film playing from the Kino / Film Desk Blu-ray.)


An inventive combination of documentary, fiction, meta-documentary... Portraitures of inmates in a Neapolitan women's prison, journalists, and community organizers; staged stories involving a local family (starring Abel's ex, Shanyn Leigh, as the daughter/sister) and a mafia arm wrapped up in contracting, ordered to carry out a hit; Abel and the crew roaming the alleys and projects, as the inmates of a men's prison recreate their daily routines.

Shot on circa-'09 prosumer HD, this is ethnology and sympathy, a cogent survey of the sub-communities that co-exist in Napoli x 3.

"People shouldn't worry so much about the corpse on the ground in a pool of blood. Because there are multiple deaths that happen before that: the deaths of young people's consciences; the destruction of their dreams."

A valedictory image of survivors: the Neapolitan incarcerated, the poor, the residents, and, tearing through Schoolly D's "King of New York" with full band under the end credits, Abel Ferrara himself at the end of the 2000s, on the cusp of a triumphant, sober, newly meaningful body of work.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble

The Windshield

(All images are details from iPhone photos taken of the film playing from the Kino / Film Desk Blu-ray.)


Nous ne vieillrions pas ensemble [We Won't Grow Old Together, Maurice Pialat, 1972] is a grand masterpiece, constructed out of the plane of the screen/camera itself, like the windshield of Jean's little blue car, an extension of (and crutch for) himself. The 180-degree rule made anew as Jean and Catherine vacillate endlessly, the set (the framing of the set) set-off from the camera by a line of demarcation, exemplified most directly in the cuts to the 16mm handheld shots from Jean's camera at the street bazaar.

Nightmares in Pialat's film that often goes unremarked: The French predilection for the seashore, body-exposing and loud; and that couples of that epoch got married like they were taking out a short-term loan.

"There's a man who cries in Ordet, a film by Dreyer." "Why?" "His wife's dead." "Parting's like dying." "But [Catherine's] alive, that's even worse."


Notes, information, and remarks by Pialat on the director's short films, which span in their entirety 1951-1966, can be found here.

Kent Jones's 2008 essay on
L'enfance-nue, and my translations of accompanying interviews with Pialat can be found at this blog here.

Emmanuel Burdeau's 2009 essay on
Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble, and my translations of accompanying interviews with Pialat can be found at this blog here.

Gabe Klinger's 2010 essay on
Sous le soleil de Satan, and my translation of a 1987 interview with Pialat, and a 2003 interview with Sandrine Bonnaire, can be found at this blog here.

Adrian Martin's 2009 essay on
La gueule ouverte, and my translation of remarks about the film, can be found at this blog here.

Dan Sallitt's 2008 essay on
Police (which he considers one of his favorite pieces of his own writing) has just been posted at his blog, here. A dossier of my translations of interviews with Pialat about the film has been posted here.

Dan's 2010 MoC essay on
À nos amours. has also been posted at his blog here. A visual I made for the film along with my translation of the 1984 Le Monde conversation between Maurice Pialat and Jean-Luc Godard can be found here.

My essay on
Passe ton bac d'abord... — "The War of Art" — can be read here. A dossier of my translations of four interviews with Pialat around the film can be read here.

Sabrina Marques's essay on
Van Gogh is here, alongside Godard's letter to Pialat, and words from Pialat about the film.


Friday, June 14, 2019

Poemquotes 12 - "I. Benediction" by Charles Baudelaire

my translation


I. Benediction - The Flowers of Evil
[I. Bénédiction] [Les fleurs du mal]

When, by a decree of the supreme powers,
The Poet appears in this troubled world,
His mother, horrified and full of blasphemies,
Clenches her fists towards God, who sheds pity upon her:

—“Ah! that I littered a whole nest of vipers,
Rather than feed this derision!
Cursed be the night with ephemeral pleasures
Where my womb conceived my expiation!

Since you’ve chosen me among all women
To be the disgust of my sorrowful husband,
And which I cannot throw back in the flames,
Like a love-note, this stunted monster,

I will make your hate that afflicts me spurt
Onto the accursed instrument of your spites,
And I’ll so twist this miserable tree,
That it will be incapable of emitting its blighted buds!”

So she swallows the foam of her hatred,
Not comprehending the eternal designs,
She herself is preparing deep down in Gehenna
Stakes dedicated to maternal crimes.

And yet, under the invisible tutelage of an Angel,
The disinherited Child gets drunk on the sun,
And inside of all that he drinks and all that he eats
Discovers ambrosia and vermilion nectar.

He plays with the wind, chats with the cloud,
And gets drunk singing of the way of the cross;
And the Spirit following him in his pilgrimage
Weeps to see him cheerful as a bird in the woods.

All those he would love observe him with fear,
That or, gathering the courage from his tranquility,
Vie with each other in prying from him a moan,
And practice on him the experiments of their ferocity.

In the bread and wine destined for his mouth
They mingle ashes with polluted sputums;
With hypocrisy they throw away what he touches,
And blame themselves for having put their feet in his steps.

His wife is off crying on public squares:
“Since he finds me beautiful enough to adore me,
I will practice the profession of antique idols,
And like them I want to gild myself over;

And I’ll get drunk on nard, incense, myrrh,
Genuflections, meats, and wines,
To know whether I can, in an admiring heart,
Usurp divine homages while laughing!

And, when I get bored of these irreverent farces,
I’ll place upon him my hand, frail and strong;
And my nails, just like the nails of harpies,
Will know how to clear a pathway to his heart.

Like a new young bird trembling and twitching,
I will extract this full red heart from his breast,
And to satisfy my favorite beast,
I will throw him to the ground with disdain!”

Towards Heaven, where his eye sights a splendid throne,
The serene Poet raises his pious arms,
And the vast inspired-flashes of his lucid mind
Thieve him of the sight of furious races:

“Be blessed, my God, who provide suffering
As a divine remedy for our impurities
And as the best and the purest essence
That prepares the strong for holy delights!

I know that you keep a place for the Poet
In the blissful rows of the holy Legions,
And that you invite him to the eternal celebration
Of Thrones, Virtues, Dominations.

I know that pain is the unique nobility
Into which the earth and hells will never sink their teeth,
And that in order to braid my mystical crown one must
Impose every time and every universe.

For it will only be made out of pure light,
Pushed to the holy foyer of primitive rays,
And whose mortal eyes, in their entire splendor,
Are but obscured and plaintive mirrors!”


Monday, June 10, 2019

La madre (Troisième version)

Straub Alone

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


This is the "Troisième version," the "third version," of Straub's film La madre [The Mother]. The music is a love-Lied by Gustav Mahler, "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" ["I Came Lost to the World"], that plays in its entirety over black leader. The soul weeps, the id poses questions under the force of duration.

The dialogue is a setting of a text by Cesare Pavese in Dialoghi con Leucò [Dialogues with Leucò]. Meleagrus (Dario Marconcini) and Hermes (whose name is never mentioned), in female form (played by Giovanna Daddi), converse beneath the shade of trees and bushes. "Listen now, Meleagrus. You are dead. The flame, the burning, are past things. You are less than the smoke that was plucked from that fire. You are almost nothingness. Resign yourself."

The mother is the wife. And: "I am still an ember," Meleagrus asserts. "I lived in front of a hearth, and when I was born my destiny was already closed in the firebrand that my mother stole." Meleagrus speaks of animals and youths beyond the mountains and rivers who live toward strange destinies. "They all had a mother, Meleagrus," Hermes replies, "and labors to accomplish. And a death awaited them, for the passion of someone. No-one was master of himself, nor ever knew anything else."

To Atalanta, Meleagrus screamed during the attack on the boar: "Return home — return with the women, Atalanta. This is not the place for girls' whims. [...] 'O son of Altea,' she said, 'the skin of the boar will lie on our wedding bed. It will be like the cost of your blood, and of mine.'"

In close: "But then why did they kill us?"

Hermes: "Ask why they made you, Meleagrus."

— For all women who stare into the fire.


Other pieces on Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at Cinemasparagus:

Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter [The Bridegroom, the Actress, and the Pimp] [1968]

La madre (Troisième version) [The Mother (Third Version)] [2012]


The Bridegroom, the Actress, and the Pimp

Die Zeiten ändern sich

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


Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter [The Bridegroom, the Actress, and the Pimp, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1968] is fragmentary adaptation of Ferdinand Bruckner's '20s Krankheit der Jugend [Sickness of Youth] that treats the phenomenon of prostitution as a symptom and result of class warfare, where the whole itself stands as correlative for, or allegory of, political assassination.


Other pieces on Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at Cinemasparagus:

Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter [The Bridegroom, the Actress, and the Pimp] [1968]

La madre (Troisième version) [The Mother (Third Version)] [2012]


Friday, June 07, 2019

April and May 2019 - Best Disc Supplements

Every month I highlight some of the best Blu-ray and DVD supplements, along with Criterion Channel features. 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, or the guy reviews the essay by saying the essay gave him "great contextual info"). Pieces cited don't necessarily hail from new releases; rather come from whatever I've been watching that particular month. They represent, in my opinion, the best in supplementary material — critical, historical, personal — above and beyond the status quo.


• Not Necessarily in That Order: The Birth & Death & Resurrection of Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie by Jessica Hundley / 2018 essay included in the booklet for Arbelos's 2019 edition of Hopper's film. She writes the way film criticism should be written, following the trail of crumbs that are intuitively interesting and not just strung out like party lights, virtue of facts without true anecdotal interest, rather she knows what makes bar talk good.

• Wizard Work / 5-minute 1964 promotional studio documentary narrated by Joseph Cotten, included on the Blu-ray for the 2019 Masters of Cinema edition of Aldrich's Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, capturing the director at work on-set with the actors.


Best Films Included Alongside a Title Feature:

By Sidney Lumet
by Nancy Buirski, 2015
included in the 2019 Carlotta Ultra-Coffret edition of Network

The Frontier Experience
by Barbara Loden, 1975
included in the 2019 Criterion edition of Wanda

I Am Wanda
by Katja Raganelli and Konrad Wickler, 1980
included in the 2019 Criterion edition of Wanda

Scene Missing: The Story of Dennis Hopper's Last Movie
by Alex Cox, 2018
included in the 2019 Arbelos edition of The Last Movie

Some Kind of Genius
by Paul Joyce, 1986
included in the 2019 Arbelos edition of The Last Movie

Alla ricerca di Tadzio [In Search of Tadzio]
by Luchino Visconti, 1970
included in the 2019 Criterion edition of Death in Venice


Cover and Package Design:

• Sidney Lumet's Network
Carlotta - Joachim Roncin (original artwork) and Dark Star (design), 2019

• Elaine May's Mikey and Nicky
Criterion - Connor Willumsen (original artwork) and Eric Skillman (design), 2019

• Barbara Loden's Wanda
Criterion - Eric Skillman (design), 2019

• Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie
Arbelos - Dylan Haley (design), 2019

• Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice
Criterion - Cliff Wright (original sculpture) and Eric Skillman (design), 2019


Monday, June 03, 2019

Battle Cry

Whooping Cough

"They're shaping into a real outfit — they're beginning to look like Marines."

"He's not a soldier — he's a Marine."

"So long, Marine."

"It's rather hard to say what Timmy looks like."

Those are some lines of dialogue pulled from Raoul Walsh's 1955 Battle Cry, but they just might have popped up in any other of the militaristic Marine-sponsored flicks. As bad as they read, I'll note there's no opposing forces within the mise-en-scène to take the armed American macho frat down a notch.

Unlike what Fuller once did label Full Metal Jacket to Jonathan Rosenbaum in good faith, Battle Cry is actually a true recruitment film: selling the services experience with sex on liberty in San Diego, Pacific crossfares, — but then the problem of having a sweetheart back home and the vicissitudes round a woman's staying in love while being married to a Marine.

I'm watching a 2h 28m narrative film from 1955 of the emotional development of robots, the romanticization of the American clod, the manifestation of the bird-brain...

James Whitmore is a cross between Lloyd Bridges and William Bendix.

A black velvet painting of the Natives of our land, and the same materiel as the eyepatch pestled in Walsh's socket by Montezuma's cock.

One of the best reviews of Battle Cry I've read recently comes from a member of Letterboxd name Fred Pahlke. It sums up the problems with almost all of the blockbuster pictures then or now. About Battle Cry, he writes, in whole:

"Standard war film. Do not have the movie."


Saturday, June 01, 2019

Home from the Hill

"What You Feel Now Is Nostalgia and Liquor"

I'm going to walk through the plot, based off a screenplay based off a novel by William Humphrey, to illustrate the power of the melodrama at play, a distant emulsification of Douglas Sirk and William Faulkner, bound earlier in that director's own adaptation of The Tarnished Angels.

"Theron" Hunnicutt (George Hamilton, a weak-link in the Ricky Nelson tradition; another 1960 mama's boy resembling physiognomically Anthony Perkins) takes to his father, Wade (Robert Mitchum's), teaching him at 18 how to be a man in spite of his belle mom the goy Hannah (Eleanor Parker's) coddling. The couple struck a deal years back: she'd marry Mitchum, but the boy would be hers to rear. How to construct an epic of the low-South (in the sense of "low-fantasy vs. high-") — introduce an agent of change, of chance — introduce a stinking boar. Theron on its trail blasts its snout right off, and Wade, satisfied his boy's growing hair on his chest, holds a roasting-dance. Through the virile proxy (broxy?) Rafe (George Peppard), Theron invites Libby Halstead (Luana Patten) to attend the fête, 'cept her daddy Albert (Everett Sloane) don't want her to go, so they meet on the sly at the library, fall in sympathetic love, fuck in the woods on a picnic blanket. Now Wade's the one with the reputation for womanizing, and Albert Halstead's always had an inkling. See how this goes in a town that jumps for spring cleaning the local cemetery? Throw in Hannah's admission to Theron that Rafe's Wade's illegitimate son, and Minnelli's melodrama's now fully charged: Theron goes off like a soprano Bates before his father over what his half-brother should be rightly owed. Wade swats aside the impertinence: "His mother was a tramp — a sand-hilled tacky having her child by the edge of a ditch."

Mirrorings of illegitimate children, proxy matchmakers, and neglected wives panel the homestead of this musky contrivance, solid in its rank among Minnelli's strongest films.