I saw Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire for the first time and thought it was overrated. I watched a lot of movies I love again this year, most notably Sergei Paradjanov’s The Color of Pomegranates. Steven Shainberg’s Secretary is still a fun watch. I also saw Taxi Driver again, finding it much worse than when I first saw it as a college student. I accidentally watched the prequel to Ringu, all the while confused as to why it seemed nothing like the Ringu I’d seen some years before. I saw some terrible in-flight movies. I’d meant to see Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night when it was in theatres in 2014 but eventually saw it on Netflix last year: it was too American for me. Iris Apfel is an extraordinary human being and up there with Tilda Swinton in the fashion constellation–you must see Albert Maysles’s documentary about her, which is still up on Netflix. (Aside: all of last year Netflix kept recommending movies with first names of women as titles: Iris, Ida, Pina, Barbara . . . Barbara was good; I left Ida and Pina for another year, maybe this one.) But this is the stuff I really liked:
Mario Bava. Rabid Dogs/Kidnapped. Italy, 1974/1977.
Peter Bogdanovich. The Last Picture Show. USA, 1971.
Robert Bresson. Les dames du Bois de Boulogne. France, 1945.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Le fils. Belgium, 2002.
Richard Fleischer. Mandingo. USA, 1975.
Aleksey German. Hard to Be a God. Russia, 2013. Read More
One of the great disappointments I experienced when I first moved to the US nearly five years ago was that regular American people sound nothing like the American people in movies.
I don’t mean that any country’s people ever sounds like its cinema, but that a certain type of film can capture, or re-invent, its linguistic community’s continuum of articulacy-inarticulacy in a way that allows you to be moved by its beauty—luxuriate in its pain.
My disappointment in American speech quickly turned into disappointment in American cinema because it’s the other way around. The cinema has failed the people.
Or: the cinema has failed part of the continuum while celebrating the other extreme.
The other extreme being that sort of determined, stylized, sometimes reverential, sometimes parodic-pastiched dialogue that’s completely well done in the hands of say Quentin Tarantino or 80s/90s David Lynch. A kind of over-articulate language that’s on the skin of personhood—think Don Corleone scratching his chin.
Actually, to take it a notch down, this—from Michael Lehmann’s Heathers (1988)—is completely genius:
I’ve always been enamored with the way American TV and movie characters Read More