Sunday, November 8, 2009

Writing letters to dead rabbits

Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak is a nice little early Rohmer/Godard short.  Communication between the sexes is the ever-present exploration of both of these men.  This little film doesn't go far in answering any big questions, but Charlotte does get to eat her steak.  I'm hoping to watch more Rohmer shorts and all of his "Moral Tales" before the year is over.

As long as I'm writing about what I hope to watch, I have to confess that I haven't gotten back to the Boetticher box set like I had hoped.  The Tall T is all I've seen so far, but that film is easily one of the best Westerns I've ever seen.  I love Scott's character.  I hope that I grow up to be half the Man he is.

I started writing a post about Rossellini, Neo-Realism, and The Taking of Power By Louis XIV, but scrapped it because I was unhappy with it.  Simply, Taking of Power is the best "costume drama" I've ever seen, steeped in Rosselini's neo-realistic aesthetic.  I've been to Versailles (somewhere there is a picture of me relaxing and reading a pulp Western on the palace lawn.). What's fascinating to me Is how fair Rossellini is in his treatment of the king.  I have to wonder how the film was received politically when it was released.  I wish that I had bought all of these historical films during the last Criterion sale.

The Bugs Bunny/Road-Runner Movie is another formative film from my childhood, like The Muppet Movie, that I recently got a chance to revisit with my own children.  My girls have already been (over)exposed to Loony Tunes/Merrie Melodies through the first two Golden Collection DVD sets that we own.  The Golden Collections are awesome, but when I was a kid, it wasn't so easy to find these 'toons.  The Anthology films like Bugs/Road-Runner were my primary means of exposure.  This particular film is really a "best of" collection of Chuck Jones shorts.  I've grown to prefer most of Freling's shorts, but there's no arguing about these Jones selections.  Great stuff.  

I especially love the 19-minute Wile E. Coyote/Road-Runner chase.  I still havent seen Hostel, but I'm sure that it has nothing on these 19 minutes.  This is the original torture porn.  

Broken Flowers is a lovely little movie.  I wasn't sure about it given the cast and the story, but I shouldn't have doubted.  Jarmusch plays every note just right.  We leave aching a bit.

Sometimes I just fall for a movie, completely, even when I know better.  Dear Wendy caught me with my guard down and it absolutely charmed me.  Thomas Vinterberg delivers the heart which may sometimes be lacking in his friend Lars's own films.  Von Trier wrote the script here, but it is Vinterberg who grounds the entire enterprise in real human emotions and gives a real sense of place to staged surroundings.  "Pacifists with guns" is as good an externalization as anything to represent the obvious tensions that a dude like myself feels, torn between wanting to be cool like Randolph Scott out in the world, but feeling more comfortable sitting around writing about what goes on in a dark theatre.  Anyhow, the Zombies soundtrack ranks among the most effective uses of pop music in any film I've ever seen.

Tonight was a good night at Cornell Cinema.

I really enjoyed For All Mankind, a documentary about the Apollo VIII mission.  Fred, I think that you'll love this if you haven't seen it already.  It's got a good original score by Eno, but my favorite moments involve the astronauts playing music that they've brought along on cassette.  From Buck Owens to Berlioz, I had no idea how important a role music played in getting us to the moon.  There are also a few fun nods to 2001 by the astronauts.  

I don't know if humans should be messing around in space until we figure out how to get along with ourselves and with our planet down here, but I also get giddy about space travel and conquering the stars.  As a Christian and as a Science Fiction fan, I'm certain that this whole crazy universe is a lot more wonderful than we've yet imagined.

Still Walking, the second picture of the night, is all about life on the ground.  Unlike its Japanese sibling, Departures, this film earns every strained and painful moment, and also every joyous one.  The score is beautiful and supports the images instead of overpowering them.  

I'm just not the right guy to write about these family dramas.  Brandon, you did a great job with Summer Hours.  You need to see Still Walking and give it the proper considered response that it deserves.

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