Paprika (2006)

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A lot of silly fun. Yes Inception but also Videodrome. On a similar level to Symbol, too. Some terrible music still twists into the bonkers psychedelia and carnivalesque. A lot newer than it looks, though a lot of the ambient city design is uncannily photographic, which makes it look intentionally ambiguous.

8

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The Age of Innocence (1993)

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Loved the editing (Bressonian yet sensual tactility, lavish sets discarded after a single shot, conversations tracked revealingly at the pace of thought). The voiceover was indulgently eloquent and conspiratorial. The story is super depressing. Probably a better film than L’Innocente but I think I’d take the latter instead. Feel like a tourist in these  films though.

7

Carol (2015)

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Watch this instead of My Twentieth CenturyYes it’s chocolate-boxy, but I like the way it reaches back into that rosy past and remoulds it in the shape of a story which is fresh but believable. The opening shots of Manhattan streets could belong to any 50s crime drama throwback but we’re obviously given something very different, though something which feels like it’s happening in parallel with all that stuff (the incidental flickers of Montgomery and Eisenhower on radios and TVs keep this dominant, violently masculine context or historical narrative in mind. The motel ambush is a treat thus recontextualised).

Lots of Hopper – lovingly so. My dvd copy came with a few postcard screenshots that could have been grabbed from any scene. People talk about Hopper’s spirituality and I don’t know enough about him to relate to that, but the movement and framing here goes beyond nostalgia towards a kind of knowing self-indulgence, as if the secondary characters are consciously acting out the world that they know we will look back upon and imagine. It’s not NY Confidential though; there is a kind of all-American honesty to the stuffy superstore clerks, the dozy motel receptionists, the chattering NYT photo-editors. This harmonic glow rescues the festive yankee cheer, Leica photography, and heartwarmingly binary social dynamics from registering simply as hipster catnip in 2015/2017.

At the centre of this world is a concisely bittersweet affair. The title is an interesting one (given that it’s not The Price of Salt, the title of Patricia Highsmith’s novel): Blanchett’s Carol is largely foregrounded in the weightier second half of the film, which leans on her fractious family situation. I could have handled a little more emphasis on the progress of Therèse – perhaps that’s partly why Call Me By Your Name feels a shade ahead as far as pieces like this in my recent viewing history go. S and J talked CB up (and she swings so easily from liquid grace to trembling force) but I think Mara steals the show, especially at her most distressed. I needed that ending, though (glad it didn’t turn into Heartbeats).

Would consider taking my dvd home for Christmas.

8

Good Time (2017)

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Does raise an interesting question about how you mark a film. I tend to want every film I watch to be the best film I’ve ever seen, an attitude which lends itself to negative marking. Negative marking would suggest that a perfect film is one about which you have no complaints. I have no complaints about Good Time. It’s seriously tense, psychological in the manner which I saw and loved in American Honey (close and somehow impartial but so involved). It’s a total trip – that fairground is a cackling neon nightmare, a setting which comes closest to emulating the aural experience of the pounding score from OPN (which compliments the film’s atmosphere ideally throughout and in other more co-constructive ways). It’s a New York film as much as Taxi Driver or King of New York, but the Queens streets present a desperate and collapsing side we haven’t seen so often. Pattinson and B Safdie are great; their fraternity is manipulatively oriented to the perfect extent to keep Connie in the moral gutter, but frantically sympathetic enough to keep us involved and hanging on as the film lurches round corners and down rabbit runs, always in the subjunctive mood (nothing goes to plan, everything is conditional and circumstantial, constantly diverting away from expectation).

I can’t say that it’s a perfect film because it doesn’t have the next-level epiphanic potentiality of an Inland Empire or a Sleep Furiously or, even, an American Honey. It’s probably a great case for marking films positively: what really matters is that you saw it and you had a very

9

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018)

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Just saw an advanced screening of this at Odeon as part of their Screen Unseen thing.

Tonally hyperactive. As black as they come and it’s certainly a comedy, though it’s also a proper contemporary western. Frances McDormand and (especially) Sam Rockwell send it bumping along at a swashbuckling pace, the former a vengeful bereaved mother and the latter a repentant thug in blue. There’s a dance of sympathies and secondary characters around the central trauma – the rape and murder of her young daughter – and its aftermath in a small southern town. Her actions, especially the ingeniously inverted Scarlet Letterish scheme of hiring the billboards to advertise the police’s failure to apprehend the perpetrator, inflame the townsfolk like a thorn in the side and tease apart their allegiances to the fetid, authoritarian status quo.

The idea lingers in the first half as a really intriguing context for a somewhat thrashy and inconsistent drama. By the time the second half starts, when the two main character arcs have pivoted and are heading back towards each other, the Christian themes begin to assert themselves at the expense of the political righteousness. Like the uncomfortable feeling of being led by the nose at the end of The Salesman but for over an hour. The jokes fall flat a little too often (despite some great delivery) and a little too often this is because the gap between the satirised attitudes and the object of these attitudes flickers and seems to close. Plenty of midget jokes (the race war scene in In Bruges becomes increasingly telling); a whole ton of jokes at the expense of stupid white trash southerners; too much sympathy expended on racist cops. As far as I could tell, the ending puts our protagonists on a level pegging and no-one is the better for it. The net result of this wending and wayward marauding is that you’re never really allowed to settle in to a story which should really hit you directly in the chest.

Points, though, for those leads, especially SR whose show-stopping turn hinges on a brutal and beautifully choreographed long take.

Martin McDonagh continues to cement his status as the second best McDonagh.

6

2017

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Films:

  1. Moonlight
  2. The Levelling
  3. Good Time
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Call Me By Your Name
  6. Get Out
  7. Happy End
  8. The Handmaiden

(Jul 2018: updated list here)

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Albums:

  1. Jlin, Black Origami
  2. Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked at Me
  3. Mica Levi, Jackie
  4. Pinkcourtesyphone, Taking Into Account Only a Portion of Your Emotions
  5. Chino Amobi, PARADISO
  6. The Caretaker, Everywhere at the End of Time – Stage 2
  7. Rapsody, Laila’s Wisdom
  8. Mogwai, Every Country’s Sun
  9. Ryuichi Sakamoto, async
  10. Richard Dawson, Peasant
  11. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
  12. Biosphere, Halogen Continues
  13. Tyler the Creator, Flower Boy
  14. Octo Octa, Where Are We Going?
  15. King Krule, The Ooz
  16. Alan Vega, IT
  17. Yves Tumor, Experiencing the Deposit of Faith
  18. The War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
  19. Jon Brooks, Autres directions
  20. Will Guthrie, People Pleaser
  21. Various [PAN], Mono No Aware
  22. Sex Swing, Sex Swing
  23. Bibio, Phantom Brickworks

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Songs:

Yves Tumor, ‘Limerence’
Sex Swing, ‘Grace Jones’
Xiu Xiu, ‘Wondering’
Kendrick Lamar, ‘FEAR.’
Mogwai, ’20 Size’
Rapsody, ‘Black and Ugly’
KH, ‘Question’
Jlin, ‘Holy Child
Tyler the Creator, ‘911 / Mr Lonely’ / ‘Garden Shed’
Animal Collective, ‘Man of Oil’
Alex G, ‘Proud’
Thundercat, ‘Them Changes’
King Krule, ‘Dum Surfer’

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

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Saw this at the UPP with J and S after work last Tuesday. Was a fine surprise. Took me about half an hour to get into it, I think largely because of the pacing, which is slow throughout but initially lends itself to plot-based impatience. In the early scenes, the lounging and philosophising and pontificating is at its least appealing, too. But the whole film is best seen (and telegraphs itself as) a holiday: it’s sad because it’s temporary; otherwise, its blissful. The more I thought about it the happier it made me. The visual beauty is intoxicating but there’s plenty of visual restraint, which valuably installs the theme of emotional development at the heart of the story. The use of jewish identities is interesting: prudent privacy is hinted at, a Mussolini painting is gestured at fleetingly, but the film takes place almost entirely within a family community which is eminently welcoming (I think LG may actually have even dedicated CMBYN to fathers in general, and Michael Stuhlbarg is a heroic if lovably preposterous one here). The beauty in honesty and smallness. Also worth mentioning that it’s hilarious when it needs to be, and not hilarious at exactly the right times: the scene with the peach is sequenced precisely to be morbidly fascinating, hilarious, toe-curling, and achingly sad, all at the level of out-loud guffawing and gasping.

Like a paperback you’d retrieve from your back pocket in a piazza or hold up against the sun while lying on a blanket in a meadow. Intense but slips down like a glass of homemade apricot juice.

8