Of Gods & Men (2010) Beauvois
Fantasic. Beautifully filmed, brilliantly acted. Interesting story. Could possibly be perceived as western-biased, and maybe a flawed ending. But otherwise
Flower Of My Secret 8/10
Live Flesh 6/10
I expected to like Live Flesh more. Most of Almodovar’s films that are straight melodramas have more of a humor aspect and that conversational style of his I like. There’s a good chance I’m going to play Flower of My Secret in the DC.
“The Maid” (Chile, 2009) 8/10
The maid in question, Raquel, is a “lifer”; a woman who has served the same upper-middle class family for 20 years, taking care of their 4 kids.
The husband plays golf and builds elaborate model ships when not working; the wife works and does little at home, so Raquel runs the show.
A dysfunctional family, so far so good. The difference here is the maid. We see that her life has collapsed into nothing but housework and childcare and that she has become a sullen burnt-out wreck. What we don’t know is what led to this.
Director Sebastian Silva keeps us within arms-length of her to show her thousand-yard stare, her clinging to the chores as her only sign of existence.
When the otherwise completely ineffectual wife decides the maid needs help after Raquel has had fainting spells, all hell threatens to break out, as the beaten-down woman stakes her territory in no uncertain terms.
The story starts going towards a kind of domestic psychological horror that would make Chabrol happy; a pair of found snapshots suggests Silva is ready to really let loose in that direction.
Whether this happens, I will leave open, but the solution of the film is a very human one.
Catalina Saveedra is both unsettling and mysterious as Raquel; at first you truly do not know whether to care for her or to be afraid for the family. She encompasses a lot in her performance.
A note on the visuals: the film is ugly as hell.
It was shot on a Panasonic HVX-200 camcorder in available (and unavailable) light, and the flat, flat brownish imagery with digital noise in it does nothing to help pull the viewer into the story.
Had this been done in Super-16mm, it would have had both the depth and texture needed, and the film quality would have given the material the extra ‘distance’ film gives over video to help the mood get even ‘thicker.’
Dramatically, Sebastian Silva pulls perhaps a bit hard in two directions here, but the humanity of Raquel is never allowed to die.
Sans Soleil (Chris Marker, 1983) – 9/10
Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, 2010) – 5/10
La Jetee (Chris Marker, 1963) – 9/10
Everything Is Illuminated (2005) – 8/10
À bout de souffle (1960) – 7/10
The Pianist (2002) – 9/10
Jeanne Dielman (Akerman, 1975) – 9/10
Bas-Fonds (Le Besco, 2010) – 6,5/10
Va Savoir (Rivette, 2001) – 8/10
Dancer in The Dark – 9/10
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pasolini, 1964) – 8.5/10
“The Goddess of 1967” (Australia, 2000) 2/10
I can say honestly that the number of films I have ever scanned through parts of on the first viewing can be counted on one hand.
“Goddess” just joined that select club.
Chinese/Australian director Clara Law helms what I am sure she sees as a suitably fragmented and eccentric tale about The Human Condition.
Rich IT geek from Tokyo with no life (an apartment full of snakes and lizards for kicks) is obsessed with the 1967 Citroen DS, known as the Goddess in car circles. He finds one for sale in Australia and gets on his way.
Down Under the film starts exhibiting the style and story tricks that derail it. The man finds the seller’s house a bloody mess after a murder/suicide, and a blind redhead quietly eating dinner with a little girl.
A road trip commences with the man and the girl in the Citroen. Meanwhile flashbacks start coming up.
Law seemingly wants it all. She wants the film to be hip and disjointed, Japanese style, she wants the coolness of Godard, and, most jarringly, also the nihilism of Tarantino, in the way tragic things like murder, child abandonment and rape are used simply as plot builders, with little emotional connection to the story or the viewer.
The film earns a 2 for the following: The beautiful pink Citroen DS and the gorgeous cinematography.
There are pretentious films, there are stupid films, there are boring films…..
This one commits the greatest sin of all: it is dishonest, both to itself and to the audience.
Taxi Driver, 4 of 5 stars
The Missing Person (2009)
Dir. Noah Buschel
Staring: Michael Shannon
A flawed, but enjoyable Detective/Noir with silly, stock characters and a middling, predictable plot. Saved by the great Michael Shannon and some good cinematography. I am pretty forgiving when it comes to Detective/Noir , so I quite enjoyed it. And anyways, the film is stuck in my head, which counts for something.
Shannon plays a character not unlike the mumbling detective that Elliot Gould played in The Long Goodbye: they are both modern day Rip Van Winkles that have woken up in an world that has surpassed him. The films are also comparable in their humor, but unlike The Long Goodbye, the humor in The Missing Person is forced (at times embarrassingly so—even if it were intentional), as if they were peppered throughout the film as an afterthought. In fact, the whole film feels like an afterthought: relationships start out of thin air; characters, like the Mexican Kingpin and the New York cab driver, are built on cliches; a straight forward and easily reduced plot that is usually an anathema to a good Noir; maybe even some hackneyed message on the innocents of childhood. At first glance, the ending of the film seemed sentimental and blatantly dishonest—but in retrospect, it may be much darker than I thought. Good direction with good intentions and good acting—it’s just too bad that the director did not get help with the script.
The film is streaming on Netflix.
Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2006) – 8/10
The departed, 5 of 5 stars. Can i ask how the fuck do you put images on this post?
“Troubled Water” (Orig: ‘The Invisible’, Norway, 2008) 9/10
Director Erik Poppe crafts a beautiful and wrenching meditation on guilt, redemption, atonement and madness in this tale of a young man released from jail for reasons we gradually get to know.
The man is an excellent organist and gets an early-release job playing in the local church. He just wants to forget and get going again, and his life is brightened by the female minister with whom more than friendship seems on the horizon.
The crime of which he was accused involved a little boy and the bereaved parents are still living in the same town, also trying to go on….the past doesn’t die easily for any of them.
From quiet beginnings (and some good music) Poppe tightens the screws leisurely, examining the power of good deeds, the need for confession and the festering of unanswered questions.
Towering over the story like a giant moral question mark is the church where the man plays.
Pal S.V. Hagen is flawless as the man with a past, alternately weighed down and awkward with human company,
yet like a poet at the keys of the 4-manual organ.
Trine Dyrholm is all grief as the mother of the boy who cannot let go, even with two little adopted girls in her care; hers is a performance of raw nerves and pain.
The film is intelligent, emotional and deeply human. The ending was just a little bit much for my taste, but that is quibbling. Highly recommended.
La Pointe Courte 1956
DIR Agnès Varda
SCR Agnès Varda
CAST Philippe Noiret, Silvia Monfort
ED Alain Resnais
Probably the first and only time I will rate a debut film this high.
Ironically, probably her best cinematography.
What do you have against debuts Robert? Am I to assume that you believe an artist needs a few works under their belt before they fully realize their potential? Or are you one who believes an artists late works show them at their best?
@ Greg X needs a few works under their belt before they fully realize their potential?
Yes that ^.
Why? what have you got for debut films that would be as highly rated?
I thought I would be asked about the ‘ironically’ comment. She doesn’t understand “light”. Not that unusual for photographers, as Ansel Adams was heard to complain.
I ain’t got anything in mind in particular, just wondering where you were comin’ from. I was going to get to that ironically next, and I’m still a little unclear on what you are getting at since I haven’t seen the film. Doesn’t understand “light” how? Or in what way do you mean that?
I haven’t seen the film.
Really?? To die for….the existential duality; the way it was done – they, the modern, individual personal, walking through the communal, primitive, past, that doesn’t recognize them; stopping in the field only to acknowledge industrial technology.
She said the Mediterranean light was harsh.
That isn’t what it is – lighting is more luminous near water, it fills the shadows making for less harshness i.e. less contrast.
Cleo has horrific lighting, but if lighting is a low priority and one has no budget…thar ya go.
Her photography is object oriented vs medium oriented.
Band of Outsiders – 3.5/5
À Nos Amours – 3.5/5
Alamar – 5/5
Shutter Island – 2.5/5
Half Nelson – 4/5
Groundhog Day – 3/5
Alice – 4.5/5
Last Night at the Alamo (1983)
Dir. Eagle Pennell
If Mike Leigh was a good ole’ boy from Texas who grew up watching Ford and Hawks, then he would have made this kind of film. Great.
Available on iTunes for $9.99 (and nowhere else, as far as I can tell)
I guess I’ll add that after this film Pennell basically drowned himself in alcoholism and never recovered enough to make a decent film. (Last Night at the Alamo was Pennell’s second feature, after his seminal film The Whole Shootin Match). Imagine if John Cassavetes never made another real movie after Faces—Pennell was almost that good.
@Joe and Karen
I’ve never heard of those Eagle Pennel films, but you got me interested.
I’m under the weather, and my concentration wasn’t that great. Still, I enjoyed the performances (even if I might have understand everything that I should have).
Enjoyed this quite a bit, and I’m a little surprised. I really liking Bujalski’s films. (Thanks, Robert)
Matt Damon walks around very fast, doing things very fast. Lots of fast montages of MattDamon doing stuff. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
@ Mr Lumpy
Are you saying it was the action, mystery and thrills in The Bourne Supremacy that bored you?
The Green Hornet ….not so good